Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Christopher Levy and Anonymous.
Nineteen years before the Battle of Yavin (16:4:33) in the Coruscant system: Coruscant (Galactic City: Imperial Intelligence Headquarters and The Dancing Bantha)
Commander Claudius Rodney and Agent Xetta.

It had been a very long day tracking down rebels and trying to determine where various groups of them operated from. Really, it could give one a headache. Xetta had been working overtime, communicating with several contacts on encrypted comm channels. She was tired and glanced to the wall chrono, noticing how late it was. So, she shut down her computer, made sure her office was neat and clean, then headed out for a bit of relaxation. Once outside the highly secured building, she hailed a speeder cab and instructed the pilot to take her to one of the low class cantinas that inhabited the the scummy sections of the city. It did not take long before she arrived at a place called The Dancing Bantha. Even though the city was now firmly a bastion of the empire, the criminal element was still intact, even with the more stringent security measures in place. Xetta glanced around and then entered the joint, choosing a booth that was dark, allowing her to see the entrance and of course to eavesdrop on the various conversations. One never knew what they could pick up by just listening. And, she was not known here.

The Dancing Bantha was hardly the place one might expend to find Claudius Rodney, an Alderaanian noble, who had found himself drawn into the new Imperial Navy following his service with the Republic during the Clone Wars. In fact, as he thought on the subject he could not even recall being down to this low a level before. Still, the junior officers frequented these types of establishments and he had been attempting to earn their respect and their trust by engaging in some of their less than cultured social engagements. As he took a seat in a corner table he casually ordered a glass of Alderaanian ruge from the serving droid ... perhaps a bit more upscale a beverage than was likely to be ordered here ... but he was more concerned that the glass would be unclean. As he waited for his drink to arrive he exchanged pleasantries with some of the junior officers that he recognized, and did his best not to sit with a rigid, uninviting posture. His attention shifted to the chronometer on his wrist as he attempted to decide how long politeness dictated he should stay.

Even her cybernetic implant was covered by an eye patch, she could still activate it without removing said eyepatch. She was currently scanning the rest of the patch. She could scan for hidden weapons by looking for power cells. Xetta was dressed in an one black one piece outfit. That along with her eye patch made her look like she was probably a criminal, instead of the imperial agent she was. While scanning, she noticed a naval officer enter just before a serving droid rolled to her booth. She ordered a Corellian brandy and when the droid left to get her drink, she let her one eye rove back over to the officer. She of course was curious about him as she was about all military personnel. Contacts were sometimes hard to come by and at this point in the rebellion, she would make as many as she could. Albeit after proper vetting of course. Xetta rose from her darkened booth and moved to sit at a table where she could be seen and offered a smile to the most recent patron.

Beneath the table his feet uncomfortably kicked against one another, as he found the new boots that had been assigned to him as part of his new Imperial Uniform to be very uncomfortable. Claudius was still coming to terms with the recent changes that had changed the state of galactic affairs beyond merely his footwear. He had been a champion of democracy, but the Emperor had been true to his word and ended the war that dominated his life these past three years. As his drink arrived he paid more attention to the glass than what was in it, happy to see that there were no obvious blemishes. He took in a deep breath of air as he hoped that the drink would not be revolting, before taking a swig of the familiar beverage. He coughed slightly, finding it somewhat harsh, but nevertheless palatable. It was only then that he noticed the one eyed woman who had moved closer without his noticing. By the looks of her he suspected that she might be some kind of thief, but manners dictated that he raise his glass to her and offer a polite nod and smile in return. He would not allow his concerns to cause him to become ill mannered.

The serving droid went to the booth she had previously occupied and chirped in derision until noticing that Xetta had moved. The droid did an about face on it's wheels and moved to her table to set the drink in front of her. After payment was received, it wandered off. Xetta then raised her own glass to the officer and took a small sip of her drink. She was close enough to him that she could speak normally for him to hear. "So, how is the war treating you..." She appeared to be trying to discern his rank. "...umm...captain is it?" Of course, she was just playing a ruse to get his reaction.

"Not yet," Claudius replied, as his brown eyes scanned down to his rank insignia pinned upon his left breast ... an ever confusing series of red and blue squares that a cadet could spend a week trying to memorize and still come out confused. "Commander. Commander Claudius Rodney of the Star Destroyer Superb," he informed her, perhaps revealing too much, but he was inexperienced with these sort of people, and had lived a life where being discreet had not been necessary. "As to the war ... what little fighting remains is well out in the rim. I've fallen into a mere administrative position here on Coruscant. It takes a large bureaucracy to maintain so large a fleet," he said, somewhat serious, but with a hint of humor beneath the words. "And you are?" he asked, not that he was particularly interested, but this all played out as a comedy of manners in his head with a series of questions and answers he must deliver as a gentleman.

Xetta quirked a brow with his correction and smiled. "Oh, please forgive my ignorance Commander." She took another sip of her brandy, seeming to relish it as if it were a rare treat. Right away she could tell he had superb manners and noted the undertone of humor in his voice. "Yes, the government has gotten even bigger than the old republic. So many forms to fill out and all that stuff." Xetta leaned back in her chair and crossed one leg over the other. "My name is Xetta and I have a very boring job indeed. Information procurement..." She rolled her eyes a bit. "Yeah, boring right?" Xetta allowed a soft chuckle to escape her lips before taking another drink. "Anyway, what do you think of this grand empire...hmm?"

"What kind of information can be 'procured' in a place like this?" Claudius asked, before bringing the glass back to his lips for a longer sip. He was asking her, as well as himself, as his eyes studied some of the various ne'erdowells who occupied the Cantina. "Yes. It's an excellent time to be a bureaucrat," he again said, with added sarcastic as his mind quickly ran over all of the forms he had submitted earlier that day. He relished the idea of a promotion to Captain so that he could leave the paperwork to a subordinate of his own. "I think they have a horrible shoe manufacturer," he said, regarding her question about the Empire. He was deliberately short and vague with questions of that manner as he had been quick to learn that saying anything at all was risky in such times.

Her shoulders rolled into a soft shrug. "All sorts of information can be found if one is determined." She had looked him square in the eyes while saying that and then rose from her table and moved the short distance to his and sat down opposite him. Xetta wore a wrist chrono of her own, but this one had some added features. She was not discreet about pushing a small button on the chrono and after that she smiled at him. "Now we can speak in private, Commander. I noticed all the decorations you wear and I have decided to make you an offer. Some one with your experience should not sit at a desk." She quirked a brow. "So, I am going to tell you something that you must keep secret. I'm an Imperial agent and if you want some adventure in your life, I can give you some." She was not really taking any risks about giving him information, after all, if he proved to be a separatist sympathizer, she could have him eliminated. Xetta sat back in her chair, knowing he would probably be very skeptical and guarded.

As she approached the table his initial thought was that he was about to become the victim of a robbery, and his left hand instinctively moved to rest atop the credit chit that was housed in the pocket of his trousers. When she mentioned that she was an Imperial agent his eyes widened sharply, and he withdrew slightly, pulling away as he leaned back against the chair to force some additional distance between them. His right hand moved quickly to his face as he literally attempted to wipe the shocked expression from his 30-something visage as he considered her words. There was part of him that doubted her and he suspected that this could be part of some elaborate con to either rob him or use him in fiendish plot. "...and you can prove all this?" he asked, after a drawn out, awkward silence. His head tilted slightly to the left as he examined her, as if he were some confused animal ... and in some ways that is exactly what he was.

Xetta had been in the spy game a long time and had expected the Commander to have a response much like this. Of course one never knew how a person responded when faced with such a claim. She simply smiled and took another sip of her drink while the Commander took it all in. She then cocked her head to the side and studied him a bit more closely. She was currently scanning his image via cybernetic implant and relaying it to the intelligence division. "Of course I can prove it." She flashed him a brilliant smile. "You must be wondering why I have made this offer, hmm? I mean, it is right out of the blue, right?" She shrugged a bit. "But, there is no danger to me. If I have assumed wrongly, then it is no big deal. So, how to prove it hmm?" She leaned forward a bit. "I'm assuming that you know where the Imperial Intelligence offices are? Show up there at 0800 tomorrow and simply ask to see Xetta. I have already scanned your image into the data files. Don't ask me how. Now then, would you like another drink?" Part of her style was seeing how potential contacts reacted to what she told them.

During the war he could not recall an encounter with Republic Intelligence that did not leave him feeling dirty, but naturally he would not voice such a statement with her ... or anyone ... for that matter. It did not make sense for him to take her offer, but his political background had kept him largely confined to tedious bureaucratic tasks within the fleet and likely would make promotion difficult. He missed his family, and had a newborn baby, who he had only been fortunate to see for a few short days on a brief leave. When she mentioned 'scanning' him it felt like the room's temperature had suddenly dropped 20 degrees and he could not hold back the shiver that caused his body to tremble. He swallowed silently, causing his throat to bulge against the constrictive collar of his new uniform, forcing his right hand to immediately rush to his neck to adjust it slightly. "Yes. Yes I know where it is," he said, nervously, from a face that was now decidedly pale and devoid of color. "...and yes. I could most assuredly use another drink," he revealed, as his left hand moved to beckon the serving droid back to their table.

Xetta felt an odd pleasure coursing down her spine. Something about making other people uncomfortable caused her to feel empowered. She had keen senses and knew the Commander was feeling very awkward. When the droid appeared, Xetta turned to it and rattled off a few numbers to it, before she turned back to the Commander. "Drinks are free for the rest of the evening. I can tell you are nervous and I understand how you feel, truly I do. So consider our next meeting to be an interview of sorts. I won't go into detail here of course." Leaning back again with a bemused expression on her features. "If you do not like what I have to say, then you are free to go back to your desk job. However, if what I say piques your interest, then I can promise you something more than shuffling flimsy sheets. I will give you a hint though. My division needs people who are used to intense action."

When the droid returned with the next round of drinks he hurriedly reached for his glass, nearly spilling it as a result of how his hand was shaking. The first sip he took this time was much more substantive than the first drink and by the time he had pulled the drink from his mouth it was nearly half finished. When she mentioned 'intense action' it brought back vivid memories of the Battle of Skor II ... the lone operation that he had taken part of outside of the confines of the bridge of a warship. He remembered being frightened at first, but as the action increased he rose to the occasion and won commendation for his actions that day. However, there was no substantive follow up and most of his career following that involved bridge duty during the Outer Rim sieges. "You do have my attention, Xetta," he said, after some hesitation, before placing the glass back down in front of him. "Not that I am dissatisfied with my current position of service to the Empire," he quickly added, for the sake of politics.

Xetta appeared to listen to his every word and watch his body movements very intensely. "Service to the empire, no matter how menial is of course to be a source of honor." She held up her hand now to make her next point clear. "However, we both know bantha shit jobs when we see them." She winked. "I do applaud your efforts in your current assignment and of course you take pride in it." She lifted her glass to her lips for a small sip. "Politics aside, you would be answering to the highest levels of authority and...well. That is all I shall say for now. Here is what I want you to do before our meeting. I want you to compile a list of naval personnel that you think are loyal to the empire and then another list of those you think are...reluctant in their service." A cold expression briefly washed over her features. "Dissent is not to be tolerated."

"Are you implying that are officers who are disloyal to the Empire?" Claudius responded quickly, taking another, perhaps obnoxious, swig from the glass that soon resulted in the drink being hurriedly finished. While he did drink ... like most men of his stature in position ... he did so in moderate, and at a slow pace. What he was doing now was somewhat out of character, and as he was not practiced, he found it quickly going to his head and causing him some discomfort. The color had returned to his face following her alarming comments, but rather than a healthy complexion, his cheeks were now flushed an unpleasant red. He had never 'named names' before and the thought of looking over personnel files and assigning loyalty or disloyalty to the men he served with seemed decidedly unpalatable. Is this what it would take to get ahead in the New Order? he silently asked himself, as his face tensed slightly, forcing him to break eye contact with her. His hands nervously, perhaps unconsciously, intertwined with one another as he gently rubbed his hands.

Her expression was one of slight amusement after hearing him. "With a military force as large as the empire, of course there are those who have loyalties outside it. I know for a fact that there are separatists among the military ranks and they must be...purged accordingly." Xetta finished her drink and set the glass down. "Rebellion starts with one person's ideas and then forms into a dangerous movement. However, I do not want you to merely compile a list of people you do not like. Rather, I want you to use your instinct. Consider it a test if you will. A test to see if you have what it takes to be an asset to the Empire. If you come up with no names, then so bit it. I demand and expect complete honesty from you Commander. Do I make myself clear?" Oh what a web she has now weaved. A web with no escape?

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