A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
Planet Kirkwall sat within the Free Marches sector of the galaxy. Kirkwall was technically a Core World, sitting right near the edge of the Inner and Outer Rim, but it was so far from Coruscant that many didn't consider it a true Core World. It was also rich in resources and shared trade routes with Ferelden and Orlais, and therefore considered important to the Empire.
Garrett Hawke, and his twin siblings, sat on empty crates in the Low Town spaceport, counting the credits from Athenril they'd earned for the last job she'd sent them on. None of them looked very pleased.
Athenril had promised them three-hundred-and-fifty credits if they got some spare weapons parts off a dealer on Nar Shadaa and brought them back intact. Unfortunately, a rival smuggler had tailed them to the pick up and it ended in a shootout, resulting in the crate being damaged, and some of the parts being charred by blaster fire. They'd only barely managed to get the crate onto the Hawke's Talon and escape out of the planet's orbit and into hyperspace, chased by pirate ships all the while.
Athenril had emphasized that the agreed upon price was only if they got it to her intact. Because not all of the cargo survived, she only paid them two-hundred credits.
"You know," Carver grumbled, as his older brother put the credits into a little pouch. "We might have easily gotten those parts to her without much trouble if someone had pulled out her lightsaber."
"We've been over this, Carver," Bethany grumbled. "It's too risky. What if someone saw me and told the Empire?"
"What's the point of having Jedi powers if you never use them?"
"Back off, Carver," Garrett growled at his brother, standing up and towering over him. "We've been over this, and Bethany's right. It's too risky."
Carver glowered up at his brother, before looking to the side and mumbling something under his breath.
"Still," Bethany said. "The Empire keeps cracking down on smugglers more and more every day. It may not be pirates who go after us, but Stormtroopers and TIE fighters." Her brothers didn't need her to finish that thought, and allowed it to just simmer in the air. The brothers would be taken to an Imperial prison, and Bethany would be taken to the Sith to be turned to the dark side. Maybe even to Darth Vader himself. Garrett would die before he ever let that happen.
"At least we can put this into our savings," Garrett said, jiggling the bag with the credits. "Hopefully we'll have enough to move Mother to a better house soon."
"Yeah, right after we take out the maintenance cost of the Hawke's Talon and Sparrow's Wing, buying food, and other amenities," Carver grumbled again. "Palpatine will have croaked by the time we can afford to move."
Garrett was about to make a smartass comment right back, when Bethany suddenly froze and jerked her head to the side. Her brothers followed her gaze, and saw a man in a hooded black cloak, his back to the siblings. The person in the cloak froze too, turning his head just slightly in their direction. Immediately, the stranger walked off at a brisk pace.
"I'll trail him, you two get these credits home." He tossed the bag to Carver, and made off in the direction of the man.
The brothers usually knew to trust Bethany's intuition, seeing as she had the Force. Garrett wondered if she had sensed danger off the man. Perhaps he was a pirate from the gang who had ambushed them, having followed them all the way to Kirkwall. Or perhaps it was someone from the Empire who had gotten wind of a stray Jedi and was about to report to their boss.
The other possibility was too good to be true. The man had reacted, and that could be either the best news they'd had since coming to Kirkwall, or a sign that it was time to haul the family into the Hawke's Talon and flee.
Garrett stayed a good distance behind the man, not making it obvious that he was being followed. The man kept at his brisk pace, Garrett matching it, while still keeping his distance. If he got too far away, he risked losing sight of his target. So far, the man didn't seem to catch on. He never even turned around or looked over his shoulder.
The man turned into an alley and Garrett sped up a little, for fear of losing him. Upon stepping into the alley, he didn't see the man, and figured he'd just turned the corner, so Garrett did the same. He paused.
The man was gone. He'd lost him.
Garrett felt a blade press against his back, at kidney height.
"Why are you following me?"
Turning his head just slightly, Garrett could see that it was the man in the hood. He still couldn't get a good look at his face, with the hood up, but he could at least see his lower jaw. He was human, that much was certain, and in need of a shave.
"I just like to make a hobby out of trailing suspicious fellows," Garrett snarked.
The man didn't laugh, "Are you with the Empire? I'll know if you're lying."
"Me, with the Empire? I'm no more affiliated with the Empire than the guy I buy groceries from."
The man paused, then removed the knife, putting it back in its sheath. "I believe you. That still doesn't explain why you were following me, though."
"I think you already know why," Garrett mused. "My sister sensed you, and you sensed her back."
Again, the man paused, before finally pulling his hood back. He was quite handsome, if Garrett had to say so himself, with blonde hair tied back in a ponytail, warm amber eyes, and rather nice cheekbones. The man spoke, "And you wanted to see if she'd sensed a Jedi or an Inquisitor."
"One can never be too careful. Still, you had to know what you sensed wasn't an Inquisitor, seeing as she doesn't have a shred of the Dark Side in her."
"Perhaps not, but some Inquisitors are good at hiding themselves, and sometimes they'll use a friendly presence in the Force to lure us out."
"Well, we can assure you that we're on the level." Garrett looked the man up and down, "You're much too cute to be an Inquisitor anyway."
The man graced him with a smile, "True." He held out his hand, "I'm Anders, by the way."
Garrett accepted the hand and shook it, "Garrett Hawke."
"Nice meeting you, Garrett. Well, I must be off."
Anders turned to leave, when Garrett spoke again. "Leaving so soon, we've only just met."
"Trust me, you don't want me around you. I'll only cause you trouble."
"Please, trouble happens to us all the time. My sister would love to meet you, she hasn't met another Jedi since our father became one with the Force."
Anders paused for a few moments, then turned back to Garrett. "Seeing as you're probably not going to let me talk you out of it, I suppose it couldn't hurt. But, I do have to be gone by tonight, because I've got plans."
"Jedi plans?" Garrett asked, smirking.
"Something like that."
The door to Gamlen's shack opened and Garrett stepped through. Leandra and Bethany ran forward, "You're home," Leandra said, outwardly relieved. She then saw the man accompanying her son. "And you've brought a friend."
Bethany looked at the newcomer as he closed the door behind him. "You're the man from the market."
"Even better, he's no Inquisitor," Garrett grinned, putting his hand on Anders' shoulder.
Bethany's face lit up. "I knew it! I knew I sensed a Jedi!"
Off in another room, an older man groaned, "Wonderful, more bloody Jedi."
Leandra scowled in her brother's general direction, before going to get the lot of them some tea. Carver declined, choosing to go into the cramped bedroom he shared with his siblings and look over the holonet for a while. Garrett, Bethany and Anders gathered around the tiny dining table, which was the only place to sit. Leandra sat down with them once she brought the tea.
"Are you really a Jedi?" The older woman asked, pouring their guest the first cup.
"More like former Jedi, I'm afraid," Anders said, taking a sip of tea. "I was just a teenager when the purge happened, and never made it past Padawan before we were declared enemies of the Empire. But, really, when there's no Jedi Order anymore, I suppose things like that don't really matter."
"Our father was a Jedi too," Garrett said. "But, he left the Jedi Order years before the purge to marry our mother. Apparently the Council wasn't too happy with him over that."
"Nor were our grandparents," Bethany added. "They wanted Mother to marry a man of high-status in the name of noble family ties, and instead she ran off with our father to Ferelden."
"They might have forgiven you for marrying that Jedi," Gamlen grumbled, having come into the room to retrieve a datapad. "Were it not for the fact that he was a Ferelden commoner by blood. And then of course, the Emperor had to go and declare the Jedi traitors."
"Yet he's not the one who got the house repossessed by the Empire," Garrett pointed out. Gamlen just grumbled something under his breath and went into the next room.
"Sadly, my husband no longer with us," Leandra said wistfully.
Anders nodded, "Your son told me that was the case. I'm sorry."
As Garrett looked over at Anders, he thought he saw something in his eyes. Sadness, perhaps. Maybe a little wistfulness and regret.
"I've also been told your children are smugglers," Anders said. Garrett wondered if he'd changed the topic deliberately. "I hear that's pretty exciting."
Leandra fixed her eyes on Garrett. "I do wish you would give up this life of smuggling. Every time you leave I worry that you won't be coming back, what with the Empire cracking down. There has to be a more legitimate way of making money for us. What about the Reinholds?" Leandra smiled slightly. "Their daughter has quite a thing for you, I'm sure if you asked, her father could easily give you and Carver jobs with any of the businesses he owns."
"You mean helping to build TIEs or real estate?" Garrett replied sarcastically.
Anders set his cup down. "Maybe this was a bad time. Besides, I have things to do."
"Right, the Jedi business," Garrett said, much more cheery now.
"Jedi business?" Carver asked, coming out of the room. Garrett wondered how long he'd been eavesdropping.
"I got wind that there's a slaving operation here on Kirkwall. Some citizens are being forced to mine down in the Bone Pit, on the outskirts of town. My sources say that it's a gang of pirates."
"And you intend to just charge in there and save everybody all by yourself?" Garrett asked.
"I mean, I am a Jedi. We'd do stuff like that all the time back before the purge. There are legends of Jedi taking on entire armies just by their lonesome."
Garrett stood. "Well, this one you're not going to do by your lonesome, because I'm going with you."
Everybody looked at Garrett. "You can't be serious," Carver said.
"Why not? Jedi or not, it might be handy if I go with him for backup."
Anders paused, long enough that Garrett was about to ask if he was alright, before he said, "Well, I suppose it wouldn't hurt. I mean, these are just pirates."
"If you're going, then so am I," Bethany declared.
Leandra frowned. "You just got back from almost being killed by pirates, and now you want to go chasing some more? What about Minister Elthina, surely she can help with this."
"Please, Elthina doesn't even give Stormtroopers a slap on the wrist," Garrett snorted. "Look at it this way, mother, we'll be helping people and there may be pirate treasure that we can confiscate for some extra credits."
Leandra sighed. She knew that there was no talking her son out of this kind of thing when he was dead set on it. She looked at Carver, which made the young man sign, "Fine, I guess I'll go too."
"Great," Hawke beamed. He looked at Anders. "So when do we leave?"
Garrett landed the Hawke's Talon near a large rock outcropping, hidden from view, especially at this time of night, with only the stars and both moons for illumination. All four of them exited the shuttle and crouched down, creeping towards the quarry that made up a large portion of the Bone Pit.
Upon reaching the quarry, they got on their stomachs and gazed downward. The quarry was awash with floodlights. They could see the miners bringing ore out in carts, before loading their cargo into shuttles for transport. But, something wasn't right. This didn't look to be a pirate operation.
Anders looked through the electrobinoculars and froze. "Uh oh."
Garrett raised an eyebrow. "Uh oh?" Taking out his own electrobinoculars, he looked into the Bone Pit and frowned. "Uh oh, indeed."
Stormtroopers. At least a dozen of them were stationed around the quarry, blasters in hand, watching the workers, and waving hands to indicate the slavers should move along. Taking a look at the nearest ship, there was the Imperial symbol emblazoned in black.
"This isn't pirates, it's the bloody Empire," Carver growled, looking sharply at Anders. "Did you know about this?"
"I swear by the Force, my sources said it was pirates," Anders insisted. "Either they got their own intel wrong, or they lied to me."
"So what do we do?" Bethany asked, frowning sadly. "Just go back and leave these people?"
Garrett looked through his electrobinoculars again. Many of the slaves were elves, along with a few humans, and even a couple of Twi'leks. Down in the quarry, a miner tripped and dropped his load. The stormtrooper kicked him, pointing his blaster. The man stood up, his feet shaky, and picked his load back up, getting back in line.
"No way," Garrett said. "We came here to do a job, and that's what we're doing." Looking over, he saw Anders smiling at him. The Jedi looked away quickly.
"Alright, first, we'll need a way to sneak down into the quarry," Anders said. "Then, we'll need to disable the ships and free the slaves. I brought some stuff that will take care of the ships, and if we take out those Stormtroopers, then the slaves can escape."
"Okay, so how do we get down there without being seen," Carver asked. "There's just the one path down into the quarry."
"Well, when the plan was just going to involve me, I was going to use my Jedi skills to just jump down," Anders said. "But, I might have another idea." He turned to Bethany. "Have you ever used to Force to lift anything heavy?"
"Just once or twice," she replied, no doubt seeing where he was going. "But I never mastered it. I nearly crushed my big brother trying to lift a heavy boulder because I couldn't hold onto it."
"It was a nice try, Bethany," Garrett assured her.
"Okay, that's alright," Anders said. "I can lower your brothers down myself, one at a time, then you can I can leap down. Can you do that?"
Bethany nodded. "Yes, I can do that much."
Anders passed out some power packs to the others, telling them to spread out and put the devices on the mining ships once they were in the quarry. Next, he used the Force to slowly lower Garrett, then Carver, down into the quarry, far from the floodlights, before he and Bethany leapt down after them, using their Jedi reflexes to land without harm.
All four of them crept out, careful to stay out of the floodlights and keeping track of the Stormtroopers' patrol patterns. Carver crept over to the generator powering the floodlights on the left side of the quarry, opened it up, and disconnected some wires, causing them to shut off. Quickly, he crept away, hiding behind a minecart. As expected, a pair of Stormtroopers were on their way to check the generator. They wouldn't have much time.
Using the minecarts, ships, lifters and boulders as cover, they crept through the quarry, planting the power packs on the underside of the ships. Each time a Stormtrooper came near one of them, they froze, ducking down and laying low before the trooper moved on.
The right side of the quarry proved to be a bit tricker, because the floodlights were still on over there. Anders took care of it, using the Force to make a medium-sized rock fly over and smash into the generator. That made a lot more noise than Carver's method, but it got the Stormtroopers running over to see what was going on, giving them a little more leeway to plant the packs.
Anders crept over to join Garrett behind a loader. "Now what?" The smuggler asked.
"Follow my lead."
Reaching for his belt, Anders withdrew a silver handle. Garrett didn't need to be told what it was.
Stepping out from behind the boulder, Anders opened his lightsaber, his body awash in a green glow. The distinctive sound, and the glow, got the attention of every single Stormtrooper.
"Jedi! Get him!"
The troopers converged on Anders, firing at him. Anders deflected the blaster bolts easily. Garrett used the distraction to find different cover, off to the side, where he could cover Anders. Taking out his blaster, he shot at some of the Stormtroopers, causing them to divert their attention.
Peeking out, Garrett saw Bethany run to a group of captives, who then proceeded to run to the path out of the quarry. Carver did the same.
It didn't take long for the Stormtroopers to notice this and start running after the escaping prisoners. Carver drew his rifle and gave his sister some cover fire while she urged more slaves to run. The other captives seemed to get the hint that they were being rescued and followed their fellows.
"That's our cue to exit," Anders shouted over the blaster fire. There were only a few Stormtroopers still standing. Anders thrust his hand out and pushed them away with the Force, before he and Garrett made a run for it, towards the path. Carver was waiting for them at the bottom. Bethany was near the top of the path, leading the slaves to the Hawke's Talon, as they'd planned.
More blaster fire came at them, some of the Stormtroopers having gotten up, or called for backup. Anders took a small device from his pocket and pressed the button. The quarry echoed with explosions as the power packs detonated beneath the mining shuttles, Stormtroopers sent flying with the force of the blasts.
Satisfied, the three men began to run up the path out of the quarry, where the ship awaited. Carver yelped as a bolt hit him in the shoulder. Garrett nearly stopped to ask if he was alright, but Carver just pushed past him with a snarl. They followed him up, until they reached the top of the path and from there it was a straight shot to the ship.
Once inside, Garrett rushed to the cockpit. Bethany was already seated in her usual spot, while Carver took his own seat and Anders popped himself into the copilot seat next to Garrett.
"Everybody accounted for?" Garrett asked, flipping switches to start the liftoff sequence.
"They said this is everybody," Bethany replied. "They're in the cargo hold for now."
Outside, the Stormtroopers had reached the top and there was no hiding the sound of repulsor lifts. They ran towards the noise, firing at the ship when it came into view.
Once they were high enough, Garrett turned the ship at a sharp right turn and sped off, into the air and out of firing range.
Once the Bone Pit was just a speck on the rader, they relaxed. Carver groaned, cradling his shoulder. Now that the adrenaline had worn off, he was really starting to feel it.
"Don't suppose we have any painkillers in the medkid?"
Anders turned in his seat. "I might be able to do you one better, if you'll let me."
Carver raised an eyebrow. "You gonna magic the pain away?"
This time all three siblings regarded Anders with wide eyes. "You can do that?" Bethany asked.
"It's called Force Healing. It's not a terribly common power, and requires a certain finesse with the Force, but it's doable."
Carver sighed, "Might as well." He took his hand away from his shoulder.
Anders got up and examined the wound. The skin was burnt, and bleeding. Anders' face scrunched in concentration as he gently touched the wound. Carver hissed.
"Okay, stand still."
Focusing on the wound, Anders poured his power into it, willing the Force to fix it, to make the flesh whole again. Before their eyes, Caver's skin mended itself, the burns vanishing, like it hadn't even been there. The only evidence that he'd been hurt was the blood remaining on his skin.
Anders stood erect, satisfied. "There we go. Good as new."
Carver looked at the newly-fixed shoulder, then said, "Thanks, I guess."
"Never a dull moment with a Jedi," Garrett quipped, turning back to face the front.
Imperial Captain Cullen Rutherford looked at the chaos. Mining ships, destroyed, and indentured servants, lost. It would take a long time before they could get back on track. He ordered the nearest Stormtrooper to call for a repair team, before he pulled his commlink out.
"Commander Stannard, I believe we have a slight problem."