"You know, there's just something about invading one of these old family manors loaded down with all sorts of protective spells that really doesn't scream 'good idea' to me," said Rachel. "Maybe it's just me." Everyone else turned to stare at her. Dawn, Ian, Harry, Signa, and HK. They all stared. "What?"
"We're going to fight a big bad," said Ian. "That's what it's all about. Where's your sense of adventure, master?"
"I think it died somewhere between the inferi wards and the Trevan Clan being contracted to defend the place," replied Rachel. "Seriously, how did someone not do something about this place before now? It's like a giant pit of dark arts mojo. Couldn't be any more blatant if they had evil, red eyes and bone-white skin."
"Take a wild guess."
"Oh, pick me, pick me," said Ian, bouncing up and down like an overexcited school boy. "They bribed the shit out of everyone they could get their hands on and now everyone's covering everyone else's ass so they don't get caught too."
Dawn thwapped him across the back of her head, "Idiot," she said with with a small smile.
"Unfortunately close to the truth," said Harry. "It's always been the way. People complain about the rich living by a different set of laws to them and that is even more true in the wizarding world. They tried to change it but resources are tight and have been for a very long time."
"Well, we'll fix it now. Jedi and wizards together. We'll stop it," said Ian. "It's what we're here for."
"Somewhat outside the scope of our mission here, that."
"But it would be a great deed," rumbled Signa. "One worthy of the Jedi Order."
"Even the Jedi would struggle to change the wizarding world," said Harry. "A few thousand years worth of baggage isn't easily shed. And there are a whole bunch of really powerful people who like things just the way they are. Not all of the bastards are wizards either."
"Heard it before Harry," said Rachel. "Big, bad power-brokers not wanting the wizards to come together and unite to fight their own corner properly for their place in the world."
"Doesn't make it any less true. Divide and conquer: not just a military strategy, you know."
"Never said it did. But you're preaching to the choir. It's not like I've got my head in the sand here. I know how screwed up some things are," replied Rachel. "And I've nudged things along here and there to try and fix them."
"Me, I prefer the straight-up approach," said Ian. "Politics? Does nothing for me. Give me a bad guy to slice and dice. Much easier. More honest, you know?"
"If you could approach politics in that way, my life would be so much easier," replied Rachel. "So very much."
"You're not the only one," said Harry.
"Statement: assassination is a viable tool that should be kept in mind by anyone involved in politics," said HK. "A dead enemy is significantly less dangerous than a live one. And the right death at the right moment can change the world."
"I do not understand why you entertain the existance of this creature," said Signa. "It is a monstrous thing that cares for nothing but death and destruction."
"Statement: you flatter me, hairy meatbag."
"Enough, HK," said Rachel, "It isn't the time. And, Signa, he's a reminder."
"Disappointed response: yes, master," said Hk. And then, a moment later, "declaration: command uplink established. Who do you wish to die first, master?"
"Time to rally the troops then," said Rachel, standing up. "Final orders, boost the morale a bit, and then off we go to do some violence."
"Now you're talking my language," said Ian. "Dunno how you ended up being in charge of it all though."
"Hands up everyone in the room who's served as a member of the general staff," snapped Rachel. "Oh, wait. Just me."
"Kinda not what I meant. Shouldn't we have a general or something? You know, army types."
"Muggles don't run this sort of operation," said Harry. "Magical defences and normal people don't mix all that well. But then, neither do magical defences and cruise missiles, either, so it balances. But we need these guys alive and intact enough to question, so no missiles. Understand?"
"Yeah. Magic and proles don't mix . . . uh, aren't we proles, master? I mean, I know I can't do any magic."
"The Force is with us. That shall be more than sufficient . . . I hope."
"No wizard is going to be killing you, love," said Dawn. "Not while I'm around anyway, No need to worry."
"I'm not sure whether to feel comforted or emasculated."
"Summers girls tend to have that effect on you."
The assembled wizards were a motley lot to say the least. They'd told her that the strike force had been put together hastily and gathered from all sorts of different sources when they'd given her the details but seeing them really did crystallise that in her mind. It looked like they didn't have more than three aurors from any one of the various ministries that were dotted around human territory. Oh, it was going to be fun mission.
"I would normally assume that you all know why we are here," said Rachel after she was sure that she had their undivided attention. "But this isn't a normal mission and this isn't a normal strike team. We've been thrown together, most of us have never met each other before and never will again, and chances are some of you have no idea why you're here or what's going on.
"It's simple, really," said Rachel. "We're striking back. Malitia has so far been able to strike unopposed, inflicting death and chaos upon all without taking any losses in return, but no more. We have acquired intelligence which will now allow us to begin the process of bringing this monster to justice
"We have identified one of his followers," continued Rachel. "One who was involved in the massacres in China. He's scum, no doubt, and we're going after him. We are assaulting his mansion home and we are going to drag him out in chains. But we need him alive. As much as it pains me to issue the order we must take him alive. There is no other choice. The information he holds is crucial and we must have it.
"This is your chance to proves yourselves," she continued. "You all must be familiar with the way the people of the world view wizards. There's a lot of bad blood out there and Malitia has only made things worse. This is a chance to prove, once and for all, to the non-magical people of the world that not all wizards are murderous trash. As much as you probably feel that the hatred is unwarranted, this is your chance to start working it off.
"We will be dividing our forces into three teams. The first team, Aurors from non-European ministries, will be led my myself and we will be dealing with the frontal assault. The second team, the English aurors, will be lead by Harry Potter and will attack from the rear. The third team, the rest of you, led by Dawn and Ian, will break the wards and act as a reserve.
"How many Death Eaters are we expecting?"
"We have little intelligence regarding the disposition of enemy force," replied Rachel with a frown. "We're not expecting a large defensive force, or any defensive force at all really, but these old family manors are always loaded down with defensive wards and I think it's a safe bet that a Death Eater's home defences won't be of the legal sort. Expect the usual necromantic wards and so on."
It didn't take a Jedi to sense their disquiet at that. The expressions they wore and the quiet murmur of dicontent that passed through their ranks gave it away quite well enough as it was.
"I know it isn't ideal," said Rachel. "And I wouldn't normally go along with an attack on such shaky information, but we have to move quickly. If he's allowed to escape and disappear then we're that much worse off. Time is against us. And we have no reason to expect a prepared defence."