opened very slowly. She was exhausted ... it
was as if she had not slept at all. Since
had moved aboard Gateway Space Station she had
yet to have a full night's rest. Her bed,
nothing more than a simple cot in the corner
of her office was small and dilapidated.
Above the bed was an archaic light source
that gave off a glowing light and hummed
audibly. The controls to shut it off had
long since stopped function and a repair
crew was nowhere to be found on this dump. "Ohhhh..."
Kerrie groaned as she sat up in bed, feeling
no respite from her night in bed. As she
swung her legs over the side of her bed and
sat up, her eyes immediately focused on the
dead man's desk. "I can't put this off any
longer," she muttered to herself.
reached for her oversized duffle bag, which
had been sitting next to her bed since the
moment she first arrived on the station ...
still unpacked. Her hands rummaged through
the top of the bag and she carefully began
pulling out some of her personal items, and
carefully spreading them out on the bed. "Booki!"
Kerrie cooed cheerfully as she removed her
believed stuffed bantha from her bag. She
fretted over it slightly, concerned that it
had somehow become damaged or crushed in the
moving process. Her fears alleviated, she
placed it careful next to her pillow on the
next delved into the duffle she produced a
small velveteen box ... it was the gift
Htaere had given her on Chandrila ... she
had forgotten to open it with all that
happened. A pleasant smile formed upon her
face as she carefully opened it. Her face
turned slightly puzzled as the rainbow gem
was revealed. "Wow," she said as she plucked
it from the box and held it in front of her
face. "If I ever have to get all dolled up
again ... I'm set," she said to herself,
pleased with the gift. Carefully she
replaced it in the box and lifted herself
off the bed to move towards the desk.
down at the desk and carefully placed the
box in the top drawer. She frowned slightly
... she missed Htaere. Thanking her for the
gift would be the perfect excuse to contact
her. She pressed her lips together and blew
the dust off the Holonet data terminal on
the desk. "I hope this piece of junk works,"
she muttered as she attempted to boot it up.
She activated the Holonet communications
system and attempted to get a signal to the
Star Destroyer Warspite.
moment the view-screen flickered to life and
the image of Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca aboard the
warship came into full view. "Ker...Major
Kiley?" Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca said over the
comlink, a bit confused.
Kerrie replied, "Is Lady Htaere still awake?
I'd like to speak with her."
moment," Meham'ohorovi'cloca said as she buzzed the holonet terminal in Lady Htaere's
guest quarters aboard the ship, the Hapan
heiress was near ready for bed. Long
red-gold hair tumbled down her back, combed
out meticulously and falling loose over an
extravagant gown as glamorous as the rest of
her pricey wardrobe. She stood at one of the
view-ports, staring out across the empty and
not-so empty void that constituted space,
contemplating the new location at which
Claudius had been transferred and the
prospect of being able to leave the confines
of the Star Destroyer at any point. The
rainbow gem embedded surgically in her
forehead glowed softly, the reflection in
the glass a gentler hue of the real thing.
Htaere's cloudy grey eyes flickered across
the dark depths of space in silent revelry,
before the chime on the wall indicated an
incoming communiqué. Pulled from her inner
sanctum, she turned and glided towards the
wall unit, examining it closely before
compressing one of the buttons. "Yes?" she
asked, her accent thick and her Basic
elegant and melodious to the ear.
"I am sorry
to disturb you at such a late hour,"
Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca said quietly. "I have
Major Kiley on the other line," she
continued to explain. "She wanted to speak
with you ... if possible," she concluded.
of Htaere's flawless tiers lifted. "Of
course. Please, put her through" she
answered, the smile she wore probably
'visible' through her voice.
Meham'ohorovi'cloca pressed several keys on her
control panel, linking the two Holonet
signals. Per the Admiral's request, she
activated a recording device that would
transmit a recording of the conversation to
Kerrie had mimicked into her Humanoid
persona. However, even that could not hide
the effect station life was having on her.
She looked tired, the bags beneath her eyes
simply could not be erased by her species
shape-shifting trait. Her hair too looked
frazzled. The neat braids of her pigtails
were frayed and starting to come on done.
Still, she forced a smile on her face as she
saw Htaere's image come through the Holonet
terminal. "I am sorry to contact you at such
a late hour," she began apologetically, "but
... I finally had a moment to open your
gift. I wanted to thank you."
screen flashed to life with the live feed
image of the major, Htaere's smiled widened.
"Kerrie! It is good to see you again. I am
glad you have called" she said, her chin
dipping in a singular respectful nod to her
devoted bodyguard and closest friend. As she
took her in, Htaere's smile thinned, the
mirth draining from her facade. "You do not
look well...is everything alright?"
looked around the room for a moment ... it
was a small, cramped, filthy mess of an
office. She frowned and looked at Htaere's
image on the terminal. "It is..." she paused
before continuing, "It is what I deserve."
eyes studied Kerrie intensely, boring into
the image with apparent unhappiness.
"Claudius mentioned something briefly about
your temporary reassignment. I did not feel
it was my place to inquire further..." she
admitted quietly. Keenly aware of her status
as a guest of the Empire, regardless of her
marriage to Claudius, Htaere had no real
place to insert her opinions about Imperial
business, despite her personal feelings. "I
am...sorry for this" she added. For a
moment, there was silence, long and drawn
out and uncomfortable in seeing Kerrie this
way. "Will you be returning soon?" she
asked, optimistically, attempting to alter
the topic to a brighter note.
running a disorganized Stormtrooper Platoon
on some backwater space station," Kerrie
explained sadly, her smile fading instantly
from her mimicked lips as she began to
discuss it. "It's a small, dirty place. It's
all men ... and I think every one of them
hates me. I have to live in this small
closet, which they say is my office." She
tried to be upbeat, making a joke of her
situation to try and lighten her mood. "How
is life aboard the ship?" she inquired,
attempting to change the subject.
Htaere contemplated how best to answer
without sounding offensive. ...Sterile,
devoid of beauty and nature...she finished
the sentence mentally before vocalizing a
more polite answer. "...very enlightening."
She did not mention the secret get-away that
had been established on one of the lower
decks as a private retreat. Perhaps later.
"Maybe Claudius will allow me to visit you
on this station."
laughed, it was the first pleasant thought
she had in several days. "I could not
picture you on this station, Milady," Kerrie
confessed, taking in her surroundings, "This
is no place for a Lady."
were the streets of the market bizarre of
Cormond, if I remember correctly" she
responded, unable to conceal the smile that
resurfaced as she thought back to those
chronometer on Kerrie's desk began to ring
loudly ... It was her alarm. Kerrie frowned
at Htaere as she reached out with her left
hand to swait it, ending the ringing. "I'm
sorry," Kerrie said sadly, "But I've got to
go and get ready for my shift." She looked
down for a moment and tried her best not to
break down, "I'll see you soon ... And watch
out for Allegra ... she can be a real pest
if you let her." She smiled and put on a
brave face for her 'friend.'
responded with a genuine smile. "I lament
your absence..." she began, before falling
silent. She made a conscientious effort to
push away all the etiquette and dictation
and reserve that had been drilled into her
from birth. "I miss you, my friend" she said
finally, stripping it down to plain and
simple truth. "I hope to see you soon. Take
care" she added, paying the respect to
Kerrie that she more then deserved with a
nodded one final time to Htaere before
turning off the Holonet terminal. She
lowered her head dejectedly and sighed
deeply. She shook her head repeatedly,
regaining her composure. She rose from her
seat at the desk and exited the office,
heading for the barracks where she would
take her sonic shower, and then suit up for
the first of what would be many, repetitive
patrols of the station.
screen blackened, so did Htaere's levity.
Her eyes dropped to the plush imported rug
that lay across such part of the quarters
beneath her feet. Inhaling steeply, she
turned towards the bed and moved towards it
slowly, her mind spinning back into a whirl
of activity in its efforts to digest all the
changes that had befallen them suddenly in
the last couple days. She sympathized with
Kerrie in that she did not foresee getting
much rest either.
care what you think, Parka," Derek snapped
back at her, trying his best to reason with
her. "Too many people are after you for you
to go gallivanting around the station like
you own the place." He rose from the couch
in the passenger compartment and slid his
flight jacket on over his shirt. "If that
Stormtrooper had caught you the other day
you'd now be in some detention center being
interrogated ... or worse." His face dropped
into a frown slightly as he shook his head
at her. "I know the ship isn't the most fun
place to be in the galaxy, but it might be
the safest." He activated the controls to
lower the ramp of the ship into the docking
bay below. "I know you want to come," he
said as he walked down the ramp into the
station's docking bay, "but I really wish
the compartment, Parka semi-reclined on the
couch, feet propped up on the table top and
crossed at the ankle. Her head had fallen
back against the cushion and the sound of
feigned snoring could be heard. When she
figured he was sufficiently pissed, she
lifted her head and fixed him with a coy
smile. "Spare me the platitudes" she
replied. "What are they going to do? Take
away my holovid privileges?" she quipped
mischievously before placing a hand over her
chest in mock hurt. "I'll get over it" she
said with finality before her feet dropped
to the floor and she stood. She straightened
her clothes, which, knowing Parka, were the
bare minimum in keeping her covered.
"Besides, I've been to the saloon several
times already and the only conflict around
is those poor drunk knaves arguing over
who's dick is bigger. I'll be fine."
his head to the left and then to the right
after hearing her last comments. "Wild
girl," he thought to himself as he adjusted
the front of his trousers. He threw a quick
glance over his shoulder at her. "I think
I'll do just fine," he said, flashing her a
sly grin. "Just be careful," he said as he
proceeded out of the docking port and into
the outer ring of the station. He looked
both ways before proceeding down the
corridor towards the station's inner core.
From there, he took another look around ...
at this hour the crowds had seemed to die
down ... it would make blending in more
difficult. He did notice a couple of
Stormtroopers on patrol, but he did not have
much choice. He walked the short distance
from the inner core to the Falling Star
Saloon. He waited for her to catch up before
entering, but from what he could see it was
very lightly occupied. "This was too
dangerous," he thought to himself.
usually did, Parka strutted with an
undeserved sense of accomplishment. Armed
with her weapons of choice, her wit and
sharp tongue, she strolled the corridors
without a care in the galaxy. Sporting a
grin to compliment her brazen and outlandish
arrogance, she followed behind Derek some
ways the sound of her sandals *clicking*
across the floor paneling. Her strange
black-flecked eyes panned for the saloon
entrance, which she greeted happily, already
eyeing the available 'market' of poor saps
that she could potentially swindle out of a
was poor tonight it seemed...although there
was one end of the bar the poor saps were
obviously avoiding. It only made the
particular figure the humans were keeping
away from even more obvious, since he was
wearing tight wraps of blood red. Attire
which was not only bright, but well kept,
making it practically glow against the usual
sloppy, dirty nature of a smoky bar's
regulars. He was a tall fellow, with pale
grey flesh, similar to ash, and deep set
eyes surrounded by pink and red flesh.
Despite his gaunt appearance, the alien
looked fairly young.. well, young for his
race, whether they'd notice that or not.
That didn't change how he walked though,
once he'd received his food and drink.
Leaving both upon the platter, the Pau'an
turned about and used a massive metal staff,
ended in double headed axe blades, as a sort
of walking stick. Leaning on it the whole
way back to his table, the man set the
platter down, lips parting in a small, brief
smile, flashing pointed teeth. The reason
why those humans had kept back was more
apparent now. This strange fellow had
ordered nothing less than raw meat.
Practically still bleeding no less! Leaning
the 'walking' stick against a chair which
also supporting a massive silvery shield
upon its seat, the man claimed the vacant
chair next to it.. and set to work
immediately. If he noticed the new comers on
his way to his table, he didnt grant them
any greeting of the sort.. or so much as
give them a lasting a stare.
entrance, Derek spotted the loan Pau'an in
the saloon. "That has to be our man," Derek
said quietly to Parka. The odds of there
being more than one Pau'an on this station
were slim-to-none. Apprehensively, he walked
forward into the saloon. He paid no heed to
the other individuals in the saloon, making
his way directly towards the Pau'an. He
looked around for a moment before pulling
out the chair and taking a seat at the same
table. "Mr. Moon I presume?" he said to the
man, eyeing the raw meat with a sense of
nervousness. "A bit undercooked don't you
think?" he continued, finding it impossible
not to comment.
fellow in question had not afforded them
much of an acknowledgment, but Parka was
more then happy to reciprocate. Upon
entering the establishment, she had drawn to
a halt, her gaze falling on the patron who
already stood out among the others. She
watched the cripple limp his way back to his
table, a smile drawing its way bit by bit
across her attractive face as she mentally
mused how funny it might have been to run
after him and kick the crutch out from under
his seemingly taxed form. She nearly
chuckled out lout to herself, but as she
began to weigh the pros and cons of such she
decided that her 115-pound frame would
probably suffer tremendously when he
recovered. A half frown replaced the grin as
she let the thought go, looking curiously to
Derek. "Oh...friend of yours? My baaaaaad"
she chimed in a low voice, more to herself
then anything, as if others had been privy
to her less-then-kind humorous thoughts.
Instead, she followed after Derek, flipping
a few of the platinum blonde braided
dreadlocks over her shoulder.
rose to Derek, moved over to the female, and
then returned to Derek, since he was the one
speaking.. His voice was low, a little
deep.. in his golden years it'd make him
sound very distinguished...but for now, it was
contorted in to a bit of a hushed hiss as he
spoke quietly to them, in whisper. "It is
Mion...and perhaps to you, but for me, it is
a little well done." and then his eyes
dropped back down to the food and he
continued to eat. "You are?" Spoken only
between mouthfuls. At least he had the
courtesy to not speak at all when he was
busy with that red meat.
call me 'Mr. Sun' for now," Derek said as he
signaled a server droid to come and take
their drink orders. The ideas was to look
normal as to avoid any unwanted attention.
"You want anything, Parka?" he said to her,
as if he had to ask. His attention turned
briefly to the server droid. "Alderaan
Ruge," he ordered ... his usual. His
attention refocused on the Pau'an, "I have
been sent here because certain likeminded
individuals want to meet with you," he
explained quietly. "I've got a transport
waiting to take you off this station." He
took a slight sip of newly-poured drink,
"Can take you to a nice quiet place out of
the eyes and ears of certain individuals."
in responding to Derek's question. Her mouth
hung open slightly, nose crinkled as she
watched the strange character eat. "You
actually eat the meat out here?! It can't be
*that* fresh..." she remarked before the
serving droid snapped her attention like a
twig. "Oh...Whyren's" she said to it before
her child-like attention span drifted off to
find something else.
like this cloak and dagger stuff, Sun..." The
girl's question was ignored, and the rather
grumpy nature of the exiled soldier was
shining through as he merely dropped the
meat in disgust. He was so tired of being
away from home...away from everything he
knew. Wiping his mouth with the back of his
sleeve, he stood up and took hold of that
axe. Using it as a walking stick again he
ventured away from the table some, ignoring
the drink he never once touched in order to
lift up the shield. "Lets get going then."
His voice had raised back up to a regular
and dagger stuff' is necessary for
everyone's safety," Derek tried to explain
quietly, "In case you didn't notice there's
a parade of Stormtroopers right outside." He
looked over his shoulder towards the inner
core, nervously. "How would it look if all
three of us just came strolling out of the
saloon together?" Derek did not wait and
answered his own question, "...very
suspicious." He looked around the saloon,
trying to determine if anyone was watching.
"Return to your luxury suite," he said quiet
and calm, "In two hours meet us at docking
port four." He took another sip of his
drink, acting as if nothing was out of place
and he was just enjoying a pleasant evening
with his 'date'. "We'll be waiting," he
droid had no sooner returned with Parka's
requested beverage, the ultra pricey
Whyren's Reserve, when she downed it in a
single gulp. A grimace flashed over her face
briefly before she lapped at the air a few
times and grinned. "Damn that's good" she
said, abandoning the glass it was served in
on a random table. Her gaze was already
refocused on the vid-screens above the bar,
displaying any number of sporting events.
Her head canted for a second before her
ever-shifting attention moved back to Derek.
simply gave a shrug of his soldiers to
acknowledge the man's word. He'd of argued
had they not been in ear shot of the
troopers, but this wasn't the time. It was
just easier to go back anyways. Leaning on
that royal weapon the Pau'an left the bar.
his arm around Parka's shoulder as they sat
at the table. He was trying to give the
impression that they were just a normal
couple at a bar for a quiet night's drink,
but he smiled slightly as he had to admit
that any excuse to make some contact with
her was a good one. "Have another drink," he
suggested to her, not wanting to leave the
saloon so quickly after their companion. His
first drink, which he was only nursing, was
still half full, but he soon finished it
with a rather hearty sip.
narrowed, her head turning slowly towards
him, disapproving of his advances, staged or
not. Suddenly, she stood up, an enraged look
on her face. "You jerk! Go suck on a
syphilitic Nek dog's puss-rimmed asshole!"
she shouted out loud for all to hear before
pushing her chair back abruptly and spinning
on her heels. She stalked towards the
entrance, scowling the whole way. As she
left the saloon, the rage subsided only long
enough for the hilarity to peek through
before fixing her fake anger reappeared and
she stomped back down the corridor.
Kiley, now in the full regalia of her
Stormtrooper armor, was making her routine
patrol of the inner core of the station. She
could not believe her eyes when her MFTAS
once again detected Parka Pepper's presence
on Gateway Space Station. After enduring
countless ribbing from the male troopers
under her command and a heartbreaking
conversation with Htaere she was no longer
in the mood for any game of cat and mouse.
She would have her revenge on this young
woman once and for all. It only took a
moment for her to bring the barrel of her
E-11 blaster rifle to bare with the young
woman's abdomen. Oh how she wanted to use
the 'kill' setting ... but that would
require too much paperwork. An instant later
she gently pulled back on the trigger of her
rifle, unleashing a coil of blue energy that
grew exponentially as it left the barrel of
her rifle. It would only take a moment to
reach its destination ... Parka's
aftermath of her glorious theatrical display
failed to yield the victory she was certain
she'd nailed. Unfortunately, she did not
even see it coming. Having meandered past
the troopers, she paid them little mind, a
mistake that would cost her dearly. She
remembered feeling quite pleased with
herself, as usual, but it was short lived.
The self satisfactory was snuffed out as the
corridor seemed to churn wildly, following
the sharp pang in her back. Her vision
blurred, but before she hit the floor, she
was in the tight grip of unconsciousness,
tumbling down and forward as complete dead
the shot from inside the saloon where he
sat, red-faced and humiliated by the little
show she put on. "Oh no," he thought to
himself as he stood up and ran for the exit
of the saloon. As he stepped into the inner
core and raced towards the corridor leading
back towards the outer ring he saw Parka's
unconscious body, "Parka!" he yelled angrily
as he raced towards her side. He reached for
his side and felt around for his blaster,
but it was not there. "Damn it," he thought
to himself, cursing the Alderaanian disguise
he had to maintain at all times.
so fast, lover boy."<Click> Kerrie said
arrogantly through her helmet's com system.
She raised the E-11 again, this time aimed
at Derek. It only took her a moment to pull
back on the trigger and unleash a second
stun coil at the man running towards Parka's
body. She did not have any patience to deal
with any potential interruptions. Parka was
all hers now.
Derek cried out as the stun coil enveloped
his body. His head tilted backwards, his
eyes rolling into the back of his head as he
lost consciousness. His body fell to the
durasteel deck-plating below, impacting with
a dull *thud*. His unconscious body lay
spread out against the filthy floor of the
station, barely meters from her. He had
almost made it, but even if he had there
would have been very little he could have
her E-11 blaster rifle under her right
shoulder carefully as she strode towards the
fallen body of Parka. She was going to enjoy
this. She had planned it in her head many a
restless night, and now she was going to
enjoy this opportunity. She knelt next to
the body and stared intently at her face
from behind the visor of her helmet. Oh how
she hated her ... she had ruined her life.
She recoiled her right arm, getting ready to
punch her in the face and bash her brains
in. Her arm began to tremble slightly, and
then just shake. She could not bring herself
to do it. "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" she
screamed under her helmet so loud that it
could be heard outside her helmet. She sat
on the deck platform next to Parka's body
and began to breathe heavily. She had waited
all this time, plotted it out in her head
many times, but she just could not do it.
dome of her helmet Kerrie began to cry
quietly, very disappointed in her inability
to finish Parka, but she had changed and no
longer had the dark rage inside of her that
drew her towards killing. The family that
had abandoned her had been replaced with a
new family ... and this woman was the ticket
to getting them back. She shook it off and
pulled a pain of stun cuffs off her utility
belt. She grabbed the stun cuffs and slapped
them on to Parka's left wrist, and then her
right. "You're coming with me," she said
silently beneath her helmet as she grabbed
the woman off the floor and headed towards
the Imperial docking port on the outer ring.
sounded in the Admiral's bed chamber,
awakening him from a sound sleep. He had
enjoyed his night with Htaere and after
being rousted from the swing, he had drifted
into a peaceful sleep that he had not been
able to experience in many long months.
Needless to say, he was less than pleased
when the intercom alarm went off. He had
specifically asked not to be disturbed ...
he was going to demote whoever interrupted
him unless a fleet of Rebel ships were
exiting hyperspace. His hand fumbled over
his shoulder and activated the night light.
When he saw what time it was on the
chronometer, he was even more enraged. He
thumbed down on the control panel and
activated the comlink, "What is it?" he
questioned angrily, clearly not in the mood.
s-s-sorry, Milord," the nervous voice of
Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca replied over the
intercom, "but Major Kiley is here with a
prisoner. She insisted you be woken up
Claudius replied, still angry, tired, and
confused, "What prisoner?"
"A Hapan of
some significance she said, Milord,"
Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca dutifully informed him.
Claudius repeated, sounding even more
confused. It took a while for him to awaken
before he realized the only person she could
be talking about. "Oh," he began quietly,
sounding a bit surprised. "Where is she
now?" he asked.
"She is on
the way to your suite with the prisoner,"
Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca nervously informed him.
"On the way
to my suite?" Claudius replied angrily as he
routed himself out of bed to get ready for
the Major's imminent arrival.
"I tried to
stop her," the voice of Lieutenant
Allegra Ames said through the intercom,
interruptive her colleague.
have time for this," Claudius sad as he
deactivated the intercom and exited his
personal suite heading towards the main
living chamber near the turbolift.
stepped out of the turbolift, having changed
into her duty uniform. She held her KYD21 to
the small of Parka's back who stood in front
of her, still cuffed. "You're going to fix
this," she said to Parka angrily. The sneer
never leaving her lips. She was upbeat,
believing her exile was soon to come to an
end. She was happy to see the Admiral
already up and waiting for them. She pushed
the blaster forward, poking her in the small
of the back with the barrel of the blaster.
"Get moving," she commanded angrily.
forward, Parka near stumbled but stepped
out. Whatever apprehension she felt, she
masked it well with her unwavering
haughtiness. She sported a glare of her own,
throwing it at the officer occasionally. "Oh
change your tampon you bitch" she snapped
loud enough to be heard. "But I guess it
really burns you up that someone like *me*
gave you so much grief doesn't it..." it
wasn't really a question. Parka reveled in
taunting the woman who had periodically
surfaced in her life on behalf of the
Empire. Her grey eyes shifted back forward,
staring down the hall ahead of her.
'her'?" Claudius asked, looking past Parka
and to Kerrie. He did not need an answer, he
knew that it *had* to be her. He looked her
over from top to bottom ... she was not
much, but she had sure managed to cause him
quite a bit of trouble. Her mouth, he
thought, was larger than her body. "Have a
seat," Claudius said to her politely,
offering her the use of one of the many
assortments of seats in the area.
'her' alright, Milord," Kerrie said proudly
as she continued to prod the woman's lower
back with the barrel of her KYD21. "Quiet,"
she said angrily as she listened to the
insults. She thrust the barrel deeper into
the smaller of her back, prodding her
angrily in response to the insults.
sneered over her shoulder at the woman
before turning her gaze back to the male,
unimpressed. "Just roll out of bed, old
timer?" she retorted with an air of
condescension. She turned to look back at
the female officer. "*This* is the person
that holds your leash? A man?! And an old
one at that" she stated, chin lifting
indignantly. "How disgraceful."
Claudius replied to her, not taking the
bait. "When you reach my age you tend to
sleep at night, in a bed." He smiled at her
and took a seat in a comfortably plush
chair. "By the looks of you, you seem the
type who sleeps during the day, perhaps
hung-over, on a floor." He laughed quietly
and broke his eye contact. "You should try
it my way one day ... you might enjoy it,"
he said concluding his initial remarks. "Now
please," he continued, "sit down ... we have
much to discuss and it is already very late.
holds my 'leash'," Kerrie said very proudly
to Parka as she pushed her over towards a
chair. "He is a very important man," she
continued to explain, "So watch how you
speak to him or I'm liable to get offended."
She smiled to the Admiral politely, hoping
she had finally made him proud. "Now sit,"
she commanded, prodding her in the back with
the blaster again.
constant prodding, Parka spun around in the
blink of an eye and used the binders on her
wrists to smack away the barrel of the
weapon thrust repeatedly into her lower
back. Had she time to do anything else,
amazingly, she did not, except to lean close
to the female and sneer. "You reek...of
fear" she spat at her before withdrawing.
this," Claudius snapped loudly, growing
impatient and more tired by the moment.
"Both of you," he said, displeased with the
way they both were carrying on. "Sit down,"
he said, his voice lowering and his tone
became quieter. "Please," he added, hoping
it would do the trick.
a step away from Parka and glared at her
intently, she slid her blaster pistol into
her holster. She clenched her jaw, remaining
obediently silent for the Admiral ...
despite her wish to lack back at the woman.
glowered at them both, eager to be
uncooperative. "No" she replied curtly. She
instead drew herself up higher, further
defying them with her stature, and what
lacked there she more then made up for in
attitude. "Look, can we make this quick. I'm
miss Max Rebo live from Coruscant."
Claudius said coldly, unwilling to argue
with her, "Stand. Be uncomfortable. I do not
care." He shook his head at her rather
mediocre attempt at humor. "I know quite a
bit about you Miss Pepper," he continued,
"You see that disk you had in your
possession ... that I was unable to
recover," he threw an icy glare towards
Kerrie before refocusing on Parka, "was
mine. I made it my business to learn as much
as I could about you, considering the effect
you have had on my life." He narrowed his
gaze at her, "You don't have the disk
anymore. Neither did your companion. It
wasn't on the ship either." His brow
furrowed slightly as he got to the only
matter that interested him, "What happened
to the disk?"
lowered her head dejectedly as the Admiral
shot his deadly glance at her. It cut right
through her, and she hid her face briefly to
prevent him from seeing just how much of an
affect it had on her.
shame didn't go unnoticed, and Parka laughed
whole heartedly out loud, cruel and inhuman.
As the laughing died, her gaze shifted back
to the seated male. "Sorry gramps. Your
pornographic collection is long gone" she
even know what's on the disk, do you?"
Claudius asked, starting to laugh when he
realized what had happened. "I would wager
that disk is long gone and you don't even
know where it is," he reasoned. He started
to laugh, almost hysterically as a
combination of the absurdity of the
situation and the exhaustion he felt. He
paused for a moment, "Major don't you see?
All the while you have been after the wrong
person. It's her partner who knows where the
disk is." He looked at the Clawdite woman
and continued laughing, slapping his knee as
he enjoyed a good at laugh at everyone's
Kerrie said sounding confused and befuddled.
The thoughts the Admiral had just expressed
had never occurred to her. She thought she
had finally succeeded, but in reality she
had failed. She felt utterly useless and
sunk deep into herself. She wished she could
just disappear. After all of the work she
had exerted in trying to track down Parka
... it turned out to be all for nothing.
her head. "It doesn't matter how you laugh
it up. It doesn't matter who else you cart
all the way out here to the bumble-fuck
edges of the galaxy. Point is...I may not
understand that crap, but it's in the hands
of people who do."
Claudius said, chastising Parka, "You must
not blame the Major. She is not paid to
think. "He exhaled deeply through his nose
as he heard her comment. It could mean only
one thing ... that the Rebels had obtained
the data disk. The actual disk was of no
importance now ... the Rebels had the data
and that was all that mattered. Their
failure was complete. "She is no longer any
use to us, Major," he said, dismissing
Parka. "Sending her to Kessel would only
serve to shine more light on this whole
sorry affair," he shook his head in
disbelief at what he was about to do, "Turn
loose?" Kerrie said loudly, confused and not
sure what had gotten into the Admiral. It
was the only time she had ever questioned
his orders. "But, Milord," she continued
pleading with her mentor, "She turned the
disk over to the rebellion. She got us all
reassigned ... you cannot simply mean to
turn her lose." The look of shock and dismay
would not easily wash away. She took several
steps towards the man, as if to plead with
emerged from somewhere in the suite, Htaere
strolled down the corridor silently towards
the group. Keeping a safe distance, she
stopped, watching curiously. She heard
Kerrie's voice before she came into view, a
smile already forming on her face. As she
came about in full sight, she stopped,
looking oddly at the stranger present as
movement in her peripheral vision, Parka
turned in surprise. Her eyes fell on Htaere,
and immediately, the playful belligerence
vanished. Her expression drowned, leaving a
glazed over look of disbelief, struggling to
verify if what she saw was real. Htaere
likewise froze, their eyes widening. It was
obvious to them and either one could not
believe the other's presence. For the first
time, Parka looked genuinely defeated, her
rigid defiant posture slacking, her bound
hands held in front of her falling as her
arms fell slack. She simply could not have
turned his attention immediately to Htaere
as she entered the scene. He raised himself
from the couch and turned to her. An
apologetic smile formed upon his face at he
looked to her. "I am sorry this awoke you,"
he said, assuming she had been asleep. His
attention turned to Kerrie, whom he
continued to chastise as she seemed to defy
his orders. "I don't suppose you had the
forethoughts to detain her partner, did
you?" He lowered his head tiredly, unable to
look at her, "No ... no. Don't answer that.
I already know the answer." He threw a quick
glance over towards Parka before his eyes
snapped back on Kerrie, "Release her."
rushed towards the Admiral and tried to buck
herself up. "No," Kerrie said to him
quickly, but optimistically, "I wanted to
get her to you as quickly as I could. I did
not stop to lock him up." Her attention
again turned to Parka, her mind processing
several thoughts. Her head turned back to
the Admiral "We could use her as bait!" she
said excitedly, "We could get him to come to
us!" She smiled at the Admiral proudly,
hoping he would use her idea.
would be the point of that, Major?" Claudius
said, glaring down at the diminutive woman,
"He doesn't have the disk either ... the
Rebels have it. These two and the disk are
now useless ... release her."
still locked in a gaze with the young Hapan.
Both of their expressions were despondent
and horrified. Htaere had nearly ignored
Claudius in her preoccupation. She stepped
around him and spoke out in her native
tongue. "Sister..." she said softly, simply
aghast that one of her own would be on such
terms with the Empire.
likewise remained motionless. It had been a
long time since Parka had heard or spoken
Hapan, but it didn't' elude her. Her eyes
narrowed, flashing wildly. "Traitor..." she
answered sourly, equally as astounded that
one of *her* own was on the Empire's side.
looked aghast. He did not like the idea of
Htaere being exposed to such an individual,
nor did he like that they were communicating
in a tongue foreign to him. "Major," he said
raising his tone slightly, "Release her.
That is an order." He shot a quick glance
over towards Htaere, "I am sorry, my dear
... this will soon be over."
looked at Claudius heartbroken. She had
envisioned this turning out so differently
in her head. Completely dejected her
attention turned to Parka. "You heard the
man," she said, disgruntled, "I'll take you
back to Gateway Space Station." She proceeded
back towards the turbolift, lowering her
head. "Come on ... let's go," she said as
she called for the turbolift on the control
visibly crushed. This was the first Hapan
she'd seen in months and the opposite poles
they seemed at was gut-wrenching. Still she
ignored Claudius watching Kerrie lead the
youngster away. "I am not a traitor...please
sister...I can explain..."
did her part to ignore Htaere as well. She
looked back at her, obvious nobility by the
looks of her. "You are no sister of mine..."
she paused to look disapprovingly at the
male. "For shame...your choices will rot you
from the inside out" she retorted coldly
before turning away.
ignored Parka as she was being led out. All
of his attention was focused on Htaere. He
could tell by the of her voice that
something was wrong, but he could not tell
what. "Let us go back to bed," he said to
Htaere a kind, quiet tone. The entire night
had been a wash as far as he was concerned.
Parka into the turbolift once the doors had
opened. She flashed a smile towards Htaere,
but she could not bare to do anything more
than that. She leaned against the back of
the turbolift, sinking further into herself.
She could not believe what had happened.
As the doors
closed, Htaere's distraught face stared at
the sealed portal for a moment longer before
looking to Claudius. She nodded slowly,
turning and moving back down the hallway
back to Gateway Space Station in no way resembled the
trip out. Parka was quiet. No smart ass
remarks, no taunts or jeers. Her mind
processed and stored information for later
use, but it did not fail to throw her into a
frenzy of mixed emotions.
made the walk slowly back towards his
bedchambers. He was exhausted and
desperately needed to get some sleep.
However, before he got into bed he stopped
and looked in the mirror. He tilted his head
slowly and examined his features intently in
the mirror. "Old man ... humph," he said as
he looked away from the mirror and climbed
back into his bed.
not say a single word the entire trip back
to the station. She wanted to break down,
but she would not give Parka that
satisfaction. She too was reevaluating
things. She thought, foolishly, that this
would make things better ... it didn't. She
would have to find some other way to redeem
herself if she ever wanted to return to her