Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Christopher Levy and Jaina Robets.
Zero years before the Battle of Yavin (35:2:18) in the Fibuli system: Fibuli (Knanan: Cantina and Spaceport) and Nerf Herder.
Lord Marcus Rodney and Tatiana.

Marcus 'Mark' Rodney emerged from Knanan spaceport on the planet Fibuli, having just arrived with his light freighter to drop off his cargo. The conflict between the Rebels and Imperials had caused the rates being paid to independent pilots to skyrocket, causing even legal trade in the Corporate Sector to become profitable for him. It would take the dockhands several hours to unload his ship and rather than wait around, he decided to get a drink and maybe even find another cargo. The human male was not dressed like most pilots ... the synthetic leather jacket he wore had no marks or scratches and the shirt and pants he wore had no stains, nor even a wrinkle. The boots too had no sign of mud. Everything seemed to be right off the rack from the nearest clothing store. Although he played the role of smuggler, in reality he was a wealthy adventure from one of the Core's most successful families. As a second son he had been labeled a 'spare' and had been rebelling since his youth. This was just his latest example.

Tatiana kept to herself for the most part, entering the few civilized areas of the planet only when the need arose. Such was one of those times. An infection had set in on her left paw. The cuticle of one nail being so sore that the long, sharp talon remained outside of its furry cover. The black and white feline walked cautiously toward the supply store, a spot she'd visited in the past, though rarely. Once inside she moved through the various aisles until she found the cream needed. It was scooped up in her right paw and brought to the counter where a droid awaited payment. She preferred this place as there was no need to speak and few leering eyes. From the old leather pouch that barely remained attached to an equally worn belt, she pulled the necessary credits out. The belt was her only attire and housed several pouches, one of which that hid a blaster, and a D-clip holding a cylinder that few would recognize as a lightsaber...the only thing remaining of her hermit friend.

Mark approached the counter with a bottle of strong liquor that would serve him well on his next trip through hyperspace. He had been to many planets recently, but most of them had populations that were largely Human. Growing up his life had been rather sheltered and included only limited encounters with non-Humans, such as the Trianii he found himself now standing next to. He did not notice the lightsaber on her side, but he did notice the rather obvious discomfort her paw was in and frowned uncomfortably. As he felt nervous, he was prone to engage in smalltalk as his mouth, more than any weapon, was responsible for his survival this long. "Looks like that's painful," he explained to her as he paid for his bottle and began heading out of the small supply store.

"The rest can be more painful." Her voice was a whisper that seemed to hiss in resentment. It was apparent from her tone that there was a general dislike for humans, or perhaps just a general dislike for anyone to speak to her. The cream was opened, wrappings dropping to the floor outside of the shop with little care. It was squeezed over the wound, bringing a growl from deep within her chest. Mouth moved into a snarl from the stinging, showing the long white fangs within her mouth. She paused, shaking her left paw from the stinging pain.

Mark squirmed uncomfortable as he watched the young woman writhe in pain. Normally, he would have tried to find the nearest watering hole and started in with a round of drinks and exaggerated stories, but the animal lover in him took pity. He turned to her, tilting his head down slightly to look her in the eyes and doing his best to smile. He held up the bottle he had just bought and laughed softly. "It seems like you could use a drink or two. Care to join me?" he asked as he lowered his eyes slowly to size up the young woman.

Right paw swung out to try to grab the bottle from the human male. She had no intention of sharing but wouldn't mind the liquor. It wasn't something she often indulged in but her current mood was a sour one, even for the likes of the feline who rarely enjoyed life at all. Whether she was able to grab the bottle or not, she snarled at him. Male humans found it necessary to stare at her. She'd learned that it was due to their need for clothing. She had no need for such things, which apparently was seen as something sexual to many males outside of her species. Within her species she was an outcast so thoughts of mating had long since left her. It was a subject that disgusted her, as this human now was.

Mark learned an important lesson early in life ... don't get into a fight with anything that has *claws*. He easily let her take hold of his bottle and lowered his head shaking it lightly. "Hey, now. Take it easy. I'm just trying to be friendly and help you out with your situation," he explained as he took a deliberate step backwards. Truthfully, he had not seen her as a sexual object as mating outside of his own species was not something he had previously considered. His eyes darted back to the supply shop, as it looked like he would have to buy himself another bottle. "The name's Marcus, but since it looks like you bite I'll go ahead and let you call me 'Mark.' I was hoping to share that with you and pass some time as I wait for my ship to get ready, but if you have other ideas go right ahead," he said to as as he moved his hands away from his body to indicate he meant no harm.

"Where are you heading, human male?" Nope, didn't seem like she was gonna call him Marcus or Mark. She opened the bottle and took a sip then held it out to him. The male had a ship. She no longer did. Perhaps he would prove useful. There was nothing for her on this planet and the need to find a home was a growing urge within her.

Mark reached out for the bottle, taking a long swig of it, which he helped would calm his nerves. Being around this feisty kitty could drive a man to drink given time. Once he had finished his swig he offered it back to her, feeling his body temperature start to rise as it settled in his gut. "Well, Trianii female..." he replied, digging back at her before explaining, "I head wherever the spacelanes take me. I try never to get myself too tied down to one place." From what he could tell so far, she was nothing like the other Trianii he had met in his time in the Corporate Sector.

She took another sip and handed it back to him. Her tone was still hostile. That was something she'd just come to use all the time when talking to any other creature. "You have a passenger then, human male."

His eyes went wide as he heard her book passage on his ship. He was not running a passenger line, nor was he operating a charity. He laughed softly as he reached down to take the bottle again, this time taking a noticeably larger swig of the liquor. His face was slightly reddened as he handed her the bottle back, looking flushed and feeling quite warm now. "Now wait a minute. I have a business to run. I'm not sure if I can afford to take you somewhere," he explained to her. Truthfully he was born with enough credits to never have to work a day in his life, but he took pride in the money he earned on his own.

"I did not offer you a choice. Where is your ship?" Yellow eyes began to shift away from the male toward the docks. Fur padded feet moved as her right paw grabbed hold of the male's shirt/belt/pants and began to tug him along with her.

Mark was taken completely by surprise when her paw latched onto him and she began dragging her towards the spaceport. He could have resisted or made some attempt to fight her off, but instead he decided to just go along with it. After all, she had the bottle and long journeys in hyperspace could be boring along. His own feet began moving alongside her now as they headed inside of the spaceport and entered the docking bay where his ship was. The Nerf Herder was a modified SoroSuub Nella 342 light freighter that was kept in prime condition despite it's age. The dockhands had finished unloading the cargo, but a couple of armed Espos were standing at the foot of the ship's ramp. Mark, sensing something was wrong, slid his arm out in front of her to stop her movement. "You'd better wait here..." he whispered to her.

Tatiana let go of Mark's clothing and paused, looking at the various ships. There was a strong dislike for every species, not just humans. In a docking area the place was crawling with creatures. The hair on her back stood up but she remained standing. Furred arms crossed over her chest. It was possible to see the muscles under the thick coat of fur on her arms, this from the increased tension she now felt. Only a nod was given to her new flying partner while she continued to scan the area, also having felt something odd. That sensation she'd learned usually came right before a conflict.

Mark could help but see the humor in volunteering to go first in this situation, as if he were some strong, hero-type who could easily handle the situation and save the day. He shook his head at himself and swallowed nervously, the Adam's apple bulging in his throat. "Is this your ship?" the Espo asked Mark as he drew closer. "Yes. If you want to buy it ... it's not for sale," Mark replied to the office with a smirk. "There's an irregularity in your cargo manifest. Where did you say you picked it up..?" the officer asked as his hand moved down to his blaster. "Tat- ... Corellia," Mark responded after a slightly stammer as he realized he might have gotten himself into a bit of a 'situation' here. "That cargo was stolen. We're going to have to detail you until this all gets sorted out," the officer explained. "Stolen? Really? I'm shocked to hear that..." Mark said, clearly lying as he studied the situation.

Tatiana moved up to stand next to Mark. The blacks of her eyes was wide, nearly covering the yellow. This was due mostly to the lack of lighting in the spaceport but also the excitement at hand. As the others looked at her she flashed her teeth in warning. "Humans steal from each other all the time. They rape planets of their resources. Why is this case so different?"

The Human Espo glared at the arrogant Trianii who dared to speak to him like that. "Silce Trianii or you'll end up in jail right next to him," he cursed at her, the spittle flying from his mouth. Mark used the distraction to go for his blaster carbine, pulling it out of his holster in a quick motion and firing wildly at the Espo's torso. They were so close that the wild shot connected, dropping the security office to the docking bay floor with a dull *thud*. The other Espo was caught off guard by the attack but managed to draw his sidearm and level it at Mark, snapping off a shot headed right for his shoulder. "Guuh," Mark groaned as the blaster bolt tore into his left shoulder, burning through the leather and cloth to bite at his flesh. "Get on the ship!" Mark yelled to the Trianii, whose name he did not even know, as he prepared to return fire.

Before boarding, Tatiana squatted down next to the fallen man and grabbed his utility belt. There was always things on such belts that could be used. She was very casual as she walked up the ramp and entered the ship. Never did she pull out her weapon.

"...and I thought Trianii were supposed to be fast," Mark muttered under his breath as he watched her slowly saunter aboard the ship. Another blaster bolt tore into the hull of the ship, just missing his head. "That was too close," he thought to himself as he fired off several rounds from his carbine and backed his way onboard the freighter. Once onboard, he was quick to seal the ramp and pushed past her down the narrow neck-like corridor that led to the cockpit. "Strap yourself in!" he shouted as he jumped into the pilot's seat, his hands moving to the overhead controls. As he toggled the twitches to power up the main reactor the silent craft began to rumble and a loud *humm* began to emanate from the aft of the ship. Out of the viewports numerous Espo personnel could be seen filing into the docking bay. "It'll just be a minute..." he told her as he watched the indicator lights.

"This is not a normal day for you?" She'd watched countless ships face Espso personnel. Most ended just as this had. It seemed the norm, but judging from the increased heart rate and panic of her male chauffeur, perhaps she'd perceived wrongly. Sitting down in the closest chair to the pilot's couch, she strapped herself in. Everything was done with such a casual attitude that one would think they were getting ready to visit a tourist destination rather than blast their way out of a bad situation.

As soon as the indicator light turned green Mark's hand moved towards the repulsorlift controls. His hand pushed forward suddenly and the freighter lifted off the ground, shaking at first until it lifted out of the docking bay. "No!" he said to her with a laugh as he turned his head to look at the woman, now seated next to him, "...nothing about this is *normal*!" When the freighter cleared the docking bay, his hand slid forward over the throttle and the ship began accelerating into the atmosphere. "I'm sorry about this..." he explained as he leaned across her body to activate the NaviComputer. He began downloading the coordinates for Corellia, which caused him a bit of difficult as his body repeatedly rubbed against hers. Usually the seat next to him was empty. Once the computer began processing, he turned his attention back to the controls as the freighter crossed the threshold into space.

"You could have asked me to put in the coordinates." Was that a coy smile? It was hard to tell with the feline's features. He wouldn't get to lean over and touch her without payment. Or would you call it punishment. Her injured claw *accidentally* extended so that it would cut into whatever part of his body that brushed it. Yes, it brought her pain, but also a bit of sadistic pleasure. She still judged this human like all the rest. Perverse and self centered. It would talk a lot to prove otherwise to the jaded Trianii. Once he was done reaching across her, both legs folded under her torso leaving her tail the only appendage close to the floor, though this soon ended. The white tipped black tail flicked at the tip as it moved to rest upon her shoulder, seeming almost like a separate entity from its host.

Mark cringed as the claw dug into it, but he guessed he deserved it. The scratch from the Trianii nothing compared to his blaster wound, but he had no time to deal with either at the moment. "Sharp," he joked slightly to try and distract himself for the time being. As he settled in his seat his hand gripped at the flight sticks just as the freighter began to violently shake. CSA IRD Fighters began firing on the craft, trying to guide it back down to the planet's surface. "Return to the planet immediately or we will blow you out of the sky," the pilot ordered through the freighter's comm system. Showing some skill, he guided the freighter away from the two starfighters, that continued to score the occasional hit upon the hull. "Hang on!" he shouted to the Trianii as he sent the freighter spiralling back down towards the planet. Just then the Navi-Computer began to beep and his hand moved to the hyperdrive controls. In a blur of light the freighter streaked into hyperspace, turning the stars into a swirl of light, as they left the Corporate Sector behind.

"So this is not how humans leave a system? I have observed that this technique is the norm. A pilot is confronted, he fights, kills a few of the humans in uniform, escapes...just as you did." Now that they were in hyperspace, she unlatched herself from the chair and rose. "Where do you keep your med kit?"

A huge sigh escaped his lips as he felt the ship settle in on autopilot and he released the controls, his knuckles a pale shade of white. He grimaced loudly as he unstrapped himself, the burn of the wound singing his every movement. "No... I try never to kill anyone..." he explained to her as he rose from his seat, brushing against her again accidentally due to the small size of the cockpit. "It's back here..." he eaid to her as he walked to the passenger lounge of the ship. There were several comfortable seats, a holonet transceiver, some games, and numerous partially consumed bottles of liquor. A medical kit was clearly mocked and resting on the wall. He walked right past it as he went for a bottle, pulling the cork out with his teeth, and taking a large swig as he settled down onto a sofa with a deep, sigh.

Drunken pilots tend to kill just as easily as blasters. Her back was to him as she opened the med kit and took out what she would need to fix his wounds. That prehensile tail managed to reach the bottle and wrap around it, tugging and possibly taking it from the male. She turned toward him, moving to a squatting position next to him and began mending his wound. "You must learn to move faster. Perhaps you are too fat."

Mark was genuinely impressed with the amount of skill she was able to use her tail and shook his head as his beloved bottle was pulled away from him. "We'll be in hyperspace for a while. I'll be able to sleep off any effects of alcohol before I have to take the controls again," he tried to explain to her. He gasped suddenly, his entire body tensing as she began to work on his wounds. His jaw clenched tightly as a pained expression formed on his face, but then it began to sooth him and he relaxed slightly. He was a bit upset by her comment, having always considered himself something of an athlete. He reached down with his good arm to untuck his shirt from his pants and expose some of his toned abs, slapping his hand against it, still proud.

"Yes, less food in there." She had no clue what the ab slap was actually supposed to mean. Despite her harshness, she was gentle as she fixed his booboos, even the cut she'd given him. "Have you not heard of devices that can pull a ship from hyperspace?"

A relaxed smile formed upon his face as he slouched back onto the comfortable materials of the couch, letting her finish her work on his arm. As the discussion became more serious he opened his eyes again and smiled reassuringly at her. "Don't worry. The Empire doesn't share technology like that with the Corporate Sector. That's why we're going to Corellia. I'll drop you off there and acquire a new transponder and everything will be fine. But, maybe I won't go back to the Corporate Sector again..." he explained with a slight laugh. "You know ... you still haven't told me your name..." he was quick to point out as he slid over on the couch to give her enough room to sit, if she wanted.

"Drop me off? I have not stated that I am leaving." She did not sit. Instead she cleaned up the debris from the things she'd used to patch him up and then put the med supplies away. This whole time her tail was holding the bottle which was now brought to her mouth for a long sip. It was then placed next to him and released. Her tail's tip flicked a few times as if it were agitated. It wasn't the case but there were times when it seemed to have a mind of its own. Leaning her fur covered back against a wall, she watched the human's reaction to her statement.

Mark tilted his head when she told him that she was staying, causing him instantly to sit up a bit on the sofa and stare at her a bit more seriously. He had never had a co-pilot or passenger before, nor had he ever owned a pet. He was not sure what category to put her in just yet. His attention turned to that bottle again as he took another quick sip ... really needed a drink right now. He let out a deep breath as he put the bottle back down and then looked to her, his eyes following every movement of that tail of hers. "If you want to come along for the ride you can, but I've gotta warn you there's times like back there where it can get pretty rough," he said as he took another sip of his drink, "...and those were the good guys!" He sighed again, putting the bottle back down as his eyes returned to his feline companion. "Are you going to tell me your name?" he asked again, becoming more and more curious.

"My people consider their names as sacred." So that was a lie but few knew Trianii culture. "As for good and bad, all humans are bad. None know how to be proper stewards. Few are worth the resources they use." Her tail found the bottle again, wrapped around it and brought it to her. She took a gulp and then put the bottle back near him.

Mark relished a challenge in his life that would not result in his death, so he was content to let the topic of her name be dropped for the time being. "Are you saying I'm 'bad'?" he asked her with a subtle wink of his right eye, a sly smirk curling upon his human lips. His attention then moved to the bottle again as he took another swig. He had been drinking a lot, but it helped to numb the pain of his wound and made the situation somewhat easier for him. He could get used to having her around, but he did not want to admit that ... yet.

"For the moment, yes." Her smile never came off quite like a smile but there it was, fangs n all. She finally moved over to an empty seat and plopped down. Even the plop had a grace to it that was inherent of her race. Feet moved under her as they had in the cockpit.

Once she had declined to sit next to him, Mark spread out a bit and made himself more comfortable. He tilted his head slightly as he looked across the table to her, smiling somewhat playfully. "You said you can operate a navicomputer..." he mentioned, bringing up her earlier comment, "Is there anything else you can do around here?" He figured that if she was going to be tagging along, he might see if there was anything she could do practically.

"I can pilot." Said matter-of-factly. "Though the technology of this ship is poor, I believe I can keep her flying as well."

The smile on Mark's face quickly faded away as he listened to her comments about the ship. "Now, listen ... you can call me 'fat and 'bad' but do not make fun of this ship. I assure you, there is nothing 'poor' about it," he boasted to her proudly. He took his hand and slapped it against the bulkhead as he looked at her, the smile returning to his face. But then there was a sizzle of electricity near where he hit the bulkhead and the light above him sparked before going dark. Embarrassed, he took another swing of the alcohol.

"Compared to Trianii ships, it is poor. Do not be offended. Humans have accomplished quite a few nice things for the galaxy. The Death Star...for one." More smiling, though if he knew it was a smile was beyond her.

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