Jelena Rodney sat nervously in the Togatto Speedway on Esseles,
angrily awaiting the arrival of Parka Pepper. It had taken her some
doing to escape the Rodney household, but she still had a way of getting
what she wanted when she pleaded with her father. He had been in a
rather guilt-stricken mood since the events surrounding Kerrie and
Htaere, and seemed to be more willing to grant even the most outrageous
of requests, which her sister had taken full advantage of. Having
already activated the transmitter, she suspected Parka could arrive at
any moment, and thus she pretended to watch the races beneath the hood
of her dark brown cloak. She was glad to be out of the estate, which
more and more resembled a prison, but her hostility towards Parka made
it an unbearable event.
The voice came from behind Jelena, escaping the glossy lips of the
ultra posh Parka. She spun around Jelena's chair and had a seat at the
table, smiling, in a pair of dark sunglasses, platinum white braided
dreads pulled back into a pony tail. For once, she was clothed,
somewhat, in a pair of pants, knee high boots and a short sleeve, cream
colored top that cut down into a deep V-neck. Her genetics allowed for a
somewhat spectacular view of her natural curves. "Good day miss, perhaps
can I interest you in a vacuum cleaner?"
"You got a lot of nerve making a joke out of this," Jelena angrily
said as she turned her icy glaze towards the young Hapan. "Explain
yourself. Immediately," she commanded in a hostile tone, seeming very
much the spoiled 'princess' that her sister dreamed of. The kidnapping
of her step-mother and the near-death of her protector had left a bitter
taste in her mouth concerning the Rebellion.
Parka dismissed it as excess drama in the youth's life. "OK, next
time I'll say I'm selling life insurance" she splayed her fingers out to
examine the shade of polish. "what's with the attitude? Is it that time
of the month?" she asked in mock sympathy.
"You are clearly uninjured," Jelena said as she looked over the
flawless features of the Hapan spy. This made the matter all the more
infuriating for the young Alderaanian noble, and she considered just
getting up and leaving. "Was it truly necessary for you to do that to
Major Kiley?" she asked, a hint of disgust in the words as she struggled
to maintain eye contact. "You could have... you could have killed
her..." she said, sounding as if the thought of it would pain her, which
even surprised her.
Parka rolled her eyes behind her sunglasses. "Do what to Major Kiley?"
she asked casually, still hardly phased by the adolescent's temperament.
"I haven't seen her in a while. Surprise too. She's such a fan of mine"
she commented haphazardly, pushing her sunglasses up and signaling the
serving droid. "Whyrren's please" she instructed, before fixing Jelena
with her strange eyes.
"Just because you're named after a winter jacket doesn't mean you get
to pull the wool over my eyes, Parka," Jelena snapped back quickly as
she showed a little bit of the spine she had developed since visiting
Kerrie in the hospital. If there was one thing she could not stand it
was violence against women. "Her ribs were broken. Her lung collapsed.
Her eye socket was broken. She had internal bleeding. I suppose she fell
down the stairs?" she asked angrily, her voice level raising to the
point where others in the crowd began to look.
One flawless eyebrow arched. "Parka is not my real name you know..."
she commented before straightening in her chair for a moment. She fixed
her gaze on Jelena. "I have no idea what you're talking about...broken
ribs and such. Maybe she's clumsy...how the hell should I know?" she
shrugged, resituating herself.
Jelena tilted her head as she closely examined Parka's facial
featured, arching her right eyebrow as she gazed upon her. She did not
seem to be lying, and the notion troubled her. "If you didn't..." she
mumbled to herself as she considered the alternatives. She seemed lost,
almost dazed and visibly shaken by the thought the Empire might have
done it to her. She would complain to her father if it were the case.
"Didn't what?" again Parka was confused, but being ignorant to the
situation, she was also ignorant of the gravity of the situation, and
thus dismissed it with little more then casual regard. She sipped the
Whyrren's tastefully. "Look I can explain about your stepmom. She
spotted me. We had to do something. If she went back to tell them she'd
seen me there, it would have strained the situation severely" she said,
raising her hands a little defensively. "Your old man, Major Kiley..."
she nearly spit the name "...and I have an unfriendly history. I could
not allow 'any' sort of risk to your identity or who we're associated
with" she continued. "They can target me as the opportunist to kidnap
her for monetary gain just fine. But putting two many pieces together
will jeopardize everything, and I couldn't let that happen" she gave the
summation, reclining in her chair a bit. "And I know Tashi was a bit
mouthy with her, and maybe smacked her once, but your beloved little
'white dove' didn't so much as accumulate a scratch" she insisted. "Pssh
I'm not 'that' heartless."
Jelena listened to what Parka had to say, considering for the moment
that she might be telling the truth. Even the slightest of facial
movements was noted as the Hapan spoke, never suspecting her of lying.
"Would you have killed Htaere if she found out?" Jelena asked quietly,
the thought of jeopardizing her family because of her actions feeling
like too much of a burden to bare down. She looked down, preferring the
response come when the two need not look at one another.
"If it meant keeping you alive and well, I told your buddy Bail I was
willing. The rebellion is willing to sacrifice an Imperial sympathizer
to keep the information channels safe" she said lazily. She fixed Jelena
with a realistic expression. "Let's face it. You're worth more alive to
them then she is" she said matter-of-factly. "But I would have rather
not though. We probably would have chickened out of actually killing
her, and whisked her into hiding until we figured out what to do."
Jelena looked down sadly, considering the Hapan's words carefully. "I
did not do this to hurt my family..." she confessed sadly as she took a
glass of the now cold tea she had ordered before Parka had arrived. She
finally looked at her again, quivering slightly. She was very much the
little girl. "Do you have a family?" she inquired, realizing she did not
know much about the woman with whom her life now depended.
"Nobody said you did" she answered. Parka regarded the girl for a
moment before leaning forward. Her tone and expression took on a more
genuine nuance. "What you're doing is very brave. Don't undermine that.
It's for everyone's best interest." Finishing off her Whyrren's, Parka
put the glass down and folded her hands over her lap. "Not everyone
shares your entitlement and good fortune."
At the moment, Jelena wished she had the naivety of Ewwiekewwieikkie
at a time like this, believing it was better to be ignorant and happy
that informed and sad. She let out a deep sigh as she considered the
situation, brushing aside her tea. "Don't suppose you could get me one
of those, could you?" the underaged girl asked as she looked towards
Parka's alcoholic beverage.
Parka was all too eager to accept the challenge. She signaled the
serving droid, and held up two fingers before pointing to her glass. She
crossed her legs and smiled ruefully towards Jelena. "Of course I can.
I'm not your mother. I have no problem contributing to the delinquency
of a minor" she grinned. The droid appeared several minutes later with
both glasses and Parka instructed the new round be added to her tab. She
lifted her glass and waited for Jelena to do the same. "What should we
"To family..." Jelena said bitterly as she reached down and picked up
the small cup and examined it for a moment. It smelled awful, but she
felt that anything the Hapan could do she could easily manage. She took
a swig of the drink as if it were a soft drink and almost immediately
she regretted it. It was her first taste of alcohol and it burnt her
throat, causing her to gasp and drool some of it back out. She looked
anything but the young noble. Coughing endless she moved for her cold
tea, drinking it down swiftly in an attempt to clear her palette. Her
eyes were watering and her cheeks flushed red. This was not a proud
Like the seasoned pro that she was, Parka knocked the drink back in
one gulp without so much as a grimace. She licked her lips and let her
countenance relax into a more grave one as if she, too, was taking a
moment to reflect on family, friends, honor and all that sort of crap
that she usually disregarded so easily. "To family..." she repeated.
"...or at least, your family. I'll drink to that. They'd drive me crazy
too. If it were me in your position, I'd run away too" she commented.
But there was a truth to her words, one that was not shared...at all.
The reality of Parka's history is that she 'was' in a bad position and
she 'did' run away. Her background was alarmingly close to Jelena's in
fact, and yet she and her sisters had all made the choice to abandon
luxury for freedom. It was a long ago life they'd abandoned completely,
choosing new identities to snuff out whatever memories existed of the
world into which they were born.
Jelena looked at Parka and sighed as she considered what she said,
but the thought of it seemed unbearable to her. "I... I can't do that...
yet," she admitted to her, unable to believe she had even considered it.
She shook slightly, wondering what the end result was here. She had no
solution, no plan to get out. Each time she met with Parka she dug
herself a bigger hole. "I'm sorry," she admitted as she began to stand
up. "I don't even have anything," she continued, shaking her head. "...I
just wanted to find out what happened," she said as she raised the hood
of her cloak back over her head.
Parka nodded slowly, as if understanding the need for escape,
answers, solutions..."It's all good" she replied evenly. She dropped her
sunglasses back over her eyes and waited for Jelena to take leave,
winding down their latest encounter.
The glorious afternoon sunshine warmed Htaere's face and shoulders as
she and her stunning guarlara galloped across the rolling acres of the
estate. The majestic creature moved with an elegance and fluidity
unrivaled in the animal kingdom, it's coat black as coal yet shimmering
in the daylight as if it had a liquid finish. Htaere sat in her side
saddle, having become an accomplished rider. All the free time aboard
the Warspite had provided ample time to bring aboard professional
trainers for lessons. At long last the open countryside within the
estate's walls offered an exhilarating ride, complete with fresh air and
relaxation. Her long black gown and cape trailed behind her as they
sprinted across the rolling green hillsides, as well as the animal's
long black tail.
Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted an anomaly in her
peripheral vision, drawing her attention instantly. She pulled her eyes
from the terrain ahead and cast a full glance in the direction of
interest before gently gathering up the guarlara's reins, drawing him to
a halt. The spirited animal stopped on cue, tossing its massive noble
head as it mouthed the bit, nostrils flare from the jaunt. Htaere's
focus was solidly fixed on the massive plume of smoke that billowed up
from somewhere in the distance. Htaere nudged the guarlara with her
heels, moving it back into an animated canter up one of the gentle
slopes on the way back to the manor. From that vantage point, she could
see ever the wall enough to take in the smoldering ruins of a village
that had been leveled in suspect of aiding and abiding rebel insurgents.
Her eyes settled on it, seeing some movement around ground zero as
garrisons swept through to clean up afterwards. On occasional blaster
bolt would fire off, signaling a trooper had discovered a survivor and
neutralized him or her, regardless of political affiliation.
Jelena had returned from her secret rendezvous with Parka, still
shaken by the confrontation and feeling a bit ill from the effects of
the Whyrren's Reserve. She held a cup of warm, soothing tea in her hand
as she stepped out onto the deck that she often used as her only
respite. Taking a sip of the tea, she offered a polite nod to one of
Major Kiley's Stormtroopers that patrolled the grounds of the estate. It
was something like a prison to her. She watched Htaere in the distance,
offering a slight wave to let her know she had returned safely.
Something was bothering her from the discussion with Parka, and she felt
Htaere might enlighten her about it.
Htaere pulled her gaze from the sprawl beyond the walls and moved the
guarlara towards Jelena, who looked a little on the pastey side. She
motioned to the plume of grey angry smoke. "I wonder what has happened"
she noted of it before looking to her oldest stepdaughter.
Jelena could see the smoke as well, taking a sip of her tea as she
assumed the worst. Shaking her head in disgust, she settled into a
comfortable chair to enjoy her tea. She would wait patiently for Htaere
as she thought about how she would broach the conversation. She needed
to know if Parka was telling the truth, but it was a difficult thing to
Htaere dismounted, and holding the animal's reins she moved over to
an adjacent chair, the guarlara lowering its horned head to graze while
she kept Jelena company. "Are you ill?" she asked curiously, noting the
"Can we talk?" Jelena asked as she looked up at Htaere, finding it
difficult to maintain eye contact with the woman. She shifted
uncomfortably, almost cringing as she played out several lines of
questioning in her head, each of which made her cringe. She swallowed,
desperately taking another sip of tea as she attempted to whet her
Htaere smiled, her cheeks flushed from the exertion. "Of course. What
"It's about what happened in the Trade Hall," Jelena asked quietly,
her eyes moving away from her step-mother as she looked towards the
setting Essesia star. It would be quite beautiful ... if it were not in
the middle of the war zone. Still, nothing quite matched the beauty of
her native Alderaan system in her eyes.
Htaere's body language softened considerably. Her refined chin dipped
once in acknowledgement. "Alright." She blinked towards Jelena
patiently. Only a handful of years separated them in age, and in another
setting, they perhaps may have crossed paths as dorm-mates or class
"Did she..." Jelena began, forgetting herself for a moment. She
swallowed suddenly, realizing she had used the wrong word and quickly
focused to correct herself. "...did...they hurt you?" she asked,
wondering if she had caught herself in time. Her eyes moved down
nervously towards the ground and her hands moved towards the tea. The
cup warmed her hands as darkness began to fall, comforting her in the
cold night air.
Htaere's head canted slightly. "She?" she repeated Jelena's choice of
verbiage. "The woman with the white hair?" she asked surprised to the
reference. Who else could Jelena be referring to. "No they did not" she
"I heard it was a woman..." Jelena replied very quickly, spilling
some of the tea on her lap as her hand began to shake. Taking in a soft
breath she attempted to focus herself, but still felt very nervous. "I
am glad you were unharmed," she quickly added, hoping the tense moment
would pass. "...but they're the ones who hurt Major Kiley, right?" she
asked, wondering if Htaere knew anything about that as she attempted to
change the subject.
At the mention of it, Htaere's facade shifted noticeably. "Kerrie?"
she repeated, something akin to a sense of guilt or dread or both sweep
through her. Her gaze dropped to her hands, still holding the guarlara's
reins. "No...no they were not..." she mumbled.
"Oh..." Jelena said as her eyes moved back to Htaere for the first
time in moments, wondering what had happened. "She was injured very
severely..." she commented, remember her visit to the medical bay and
Doctor Tohan's first assessment of her. "...did you ever hear how?" she
asked, revealing her intentions as she took an audible sip of her cup.
Htaere was chewing at her lip nervously. Her expression had darkened
substantially. "Yes" she answered, to both comments. She looked at the
guarlara, diverting her attention elsewhere. "But as I last heard, she
was doing well" she offered with a hint at optimism and misdirection.
"I am glad to hear that..." Jelena said quietly, wondering how she
could press Htaere for more information without drawing suspicion. She
turned slightly to face her, wondering how she could best begin.
"There's a lot of rumors going around about how it happened..." she said
to Htaere, trying to carefully navigate the hostile waters.
"Oh?" this time the ignorance was feigned. "And what would those be?
"I heard from Lieutenant Sheppard that while she was feeding
Crassus he struck her with his tongue and tried to eat her," Jelena said
with a polite smile, chuckling slightly as she tried to picture it.
"...though Bethany has a tendancy to exaggerate," she added with a
polite, quick smile to Htaere to guage her reaction.
If only it were that simple, Htaere thought. She masked the inner
dialogue with the early makings of a amiable smile. "Quite a story" she
commented. "I am not entirely sure where these theories abound from.
Maybe your father is more knowledgeable of such inner-crew happenings."
"I could never ask my father..." Jelena asked as she studied Htaere's
features nervously, wondering again how she might find out what really
happened. She swallowed, wishing that she had not finished her tea quite
so quickly. "...what did you hear happened?" Jelena asked as she scuffed
her foot nervously against the deck.
Htaere drew a deep audible breath. Her gaze fixed at some minuscule
point on the ground as she sifted through words in order to choose
wisely. "Your...father..." her eyes narrowed in thought. "...your
f...father had...an accident" she murmured.
"...what kind of accident?" Jelena carefully asked Htaere, not sure
of her meaning. She realized that her father had been hospitalized as
well, but thought that it was from his poor diet and over work and not
any sort of 'accident.' When it came to her father, she felt detached
and out of the loop, and this further illustrated the divide that has
grown between them.
Htaere swallowed, treading as lightly as if it were over eggshells.
She bit at her lower lip for a moment before answering. "...the kind
that involves excessive alcohol consumption" she volunteered tenderly.
She looked fragile, as if about to come apart at any moment. "A very
successful treatment is underway and great success thus far" she added,
shifting the focal point.
"What does my father's 'alcoholic consumption' have to do with Kerrie
getting hurt?" Jelena asked slowly, her brow furrowing as she tried to
understand Htaere's meaning. The poor, innocent young woman was in many
ways still a girl and simply did not get it. Without the dots being
connected for her, she would never be able to accept her father as
violent towards women.
"One night he became intoxicated and blamed Major Kiley for my
capture. He...lost control" she put it carefully, looking away, her
heart breaking in twain at the thought.
Jelena looked at Htaere with a blank, lifeless expression as her eyes
widened and her mouth hung slightly agape. She said nothing, her brain
overwhelmed by the news her father had committed the act of violence
against her sworn protector. It was too much for her and the tears began
to stream from both of her eyes as she began to shake, still deathly
Htaere did not pressure her to respond in any other fashion other
then what she wanted to reveal in regards to reaction. She has been
there too, as horrified and stunned when Doctor. Tohan had laid
everything ont he line for her. "I know how you feel. Believe me."
Jelena did not acknowledge Htaere's comment and without any utterance
or facial movement she rose from her seat as if she were shocked. Her
cheeks were stained with tears, her eyes reddening from their constant
flow. She was in complete shock as she turned and began to walk inside
of their estate. She needed to lay down. She needed to think. Her life
had changed in a way she had never imagined and nothing would ever be
the same. Before today she felt as if she were betraying her father, but
now she believed he had betrayed her.