Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Jamie Holm and Christopher Levy.
Zero years after the Battle of Yavin (35:5:3) in the Brentaal system: Brentaal IV (Cormond: The Unlucky Star)
Ann'una, Captain Jaelian Dressler, Sinya'me, and Toledo.

It was a pleasant afternoon on the streets of Cormond. The bustling city of several billion was filled with life and activity as the spaceport had recently reopened and begun receiving some traffic once again. It would take months for the facility to be brought fully online, but for the time being the familiar sight of bulk freighters descending from orbit to unload their cargo had returned to the skies over the city. There were hungry, desperate people in the street and the prospect of each transport bringing them food seemed to bring excitement and enthusiasm to each and every one of them. The screeching sound of the TIE/gt filled the air as the now ever present Imperial Starfighter Corps overhead had become customary in the year since the Imperial garrison had been deployed.

Gliding through the bustling streets, ISB Captain Jaelian Dressler strolled between the slower walking merchants and commoners. As the TIE Fighter flew low overhead, and filled the air with the terrible screech of its Ion Engines, he paused and watched it lift up and out of sight. A smile curled across his lips. He reached into the breast pocket of his colonial shirt, which was black with red paisley shapes embroidered on the shoulders and back, and produced a pack of deathsticks. He lit it up and let it hang from his lips. From his years of training as a COMPForce Assault Infantryman, COMPForce Observation officer, ISB Surveillance and Investigation agent, he knew to keep his gaze traveling in a nonchalant way, all the while observing every detail of his surroundings. The neon holo signs, the rubbish caught in the wind, the number of commercial speeders compared to private speeders, all that one could see was seen, evaluated, analyzed and assessed- especially people. People was his trade, and he was as excellent merchant. To buy, sell, trade and give away. As an ISB Enforcement Officer, he was mostly free from the reigns of ISB regulations and uniform standards. He wore typical colonial spacer fare, with black pants tucked into knee high black boots. His hair was scruffy and blonde, and he wore a two day beard. Though he swam amongst the people, dealt daily with the worst scum of the galaxy, and carried his own scales of justice, he loved the New Order, and Palpatine's Empire. And on a warm day, made perfect by a cool breeze, a TIE Fighter swooping overhead in a public demonstration of military might was just the thing to make this jaded veteran of grizzly conventional and unconventional war smile.

Though he was only in his early thirties, his hard youth in the deep slums of Coruscant, life at the front with CompForce Assault and corrupting years as an ISB Agent in a Hutt controlled world made him much more experienced and mature than he should have been. After picking up his pace again he took a deep drag from his death stick, held the smoke in his lungs, and released a cloud of green-blue from his nostrils. He kept the stick between his thumb and forefinger, cupped in his hand, in an unorthodox fashion. The streets were filled with the poor denizens of this neighborhood, beggars, children, the economically challenged. Poor though they may be, Jaelian knew these were good streets. Honesty, and high galactic hobnobbery of his homeworld Coruscant were fine for tasting, but the charade of status was all too taxing for him. Here, these people, they were honest ... in their own way. Kids would steal, a married woman may negotiate her virtue, and a man may have a blaster in your back, but at least you always knew their motivation: self preservation. These manner of people were easy to work, especially when you had access to the massive black budget of the Imperial Security Bureau Commander's Emergency Relief and Access Projects Fund. A poorly maintained speeder pulled by at a causal speed. A young crimson Twi'lek women strutted by him, shooting a knowing wink his way. Drunk men staggered out of a cantina farther up the causeway, around forty meters. Dressler was here, on the planet for only a few hours and he was already at work. The ISB Enforcement Platoon he was recently assigned the commander of had not even met him yet. He was down in the dregs, getting a feel for this new world, and there was no better place to start than a spacer cantina, in a gutter street near an impromptu spaceport. Jaelian flicked the stub of his finished death stick into the street, casually flipped the selector switch on his blaster pistol from safe to semi in a well-rehearsed but effortless swing of his arm, and stepped into the bar.

The Unlucky Star was filled with undesirables ranging from various alien species that had been caught on the world since the damage to the spaceport, to poor locals that would rather spend what credits they had on alcohol rather than clean clothing and food. Since the death of the crime lord Enkido and the recent attacks against high-level Black Sun operatives criminals had found harsh working conditions and there were many available mercenaries, spacers, and even bounty hunters lurking about and speaking over the murder of two more Black Sun lieutenants the night prior. There was a hint of tension in the air as everyone paused for half a second to look at the newcomer before they returned to their business. The Rodian Toledo was at the bar causing quite a scene. He seemed to have quite the amount of credits on him as he was buying everyone a drink who would listen to his stories. The diminutive green creature was trying to impress two Twi'lek women at the bar, one a hint of yellow, the other a light blue, but neither of them were having any of it, but the Rodian was too drunk to realize it. The bartender had considered cutting him off and sending him home, but the man had not had a customer with these many credits in quite some time and if he wanted to drink himself to death he would let him ... as long as he could keep paying.

Dressler entered the watering hole and blinked rapidly, adjusting from the bright mid day sun to the dark, and alcohol humid cave like atmosphere of the Unlucky Star. A thin fog hung in the air, made from many a drunk breath and some foul creation in the kitchen. The ISB Captain took a wide walk around the bar, scanning for exists, who was armed, who was drunk, who had money, who had influence and who had nothing. He wasn't here for any particular reason, today didn't have a source contact, or leader engagement, or trade ... no, today was just a day to 'gain local atmospherics and situational awareness of the operating area of responsibility', or so his report would say. Dressler just wanted to get a feel for the people, the mood, the needs and the alcohol of this city. His inconspicuous stroll around the cantina came full circle, and when he saddled up to the bar, between the Rodian and the Twi'lek pair and leaned over to the poor suffering bastard who tended the bar, "Howdy, double Caetean whiskey on the burn- but neat, if you don't mind." he winked and flashed a smile. He was a good looking human, who today, held the air of a seedy dilettante. He held his charming smile and curled his head in the direction of the two Twi'lek women. Catching one's gaze he gave a wink and looked in the direction of the intoxicated Rodian. From the corner of his eye, and over his shoulder, he counted blasters, by pistol, and the ability of the hand to wield it. This place was not safe ... but that's good. Jaelian chuckled and muttered in a warm and slightly colonial accented Rodese, "G'day to you friend. What's the occasion? Your wife die?"

Toledo's eyes went wide as he saw the human male, who seemed much more respectable then the rest of the individuals who had populated this dive bar. "My inheritance has finally been paid!" he replied to the man, as he called the bartender over in an excited gesture. "Will you have a drink? Alderaan Ruge, perhaps? You know they aren't making any more!" he said, as he slammed his fist repeatedly on the counter top to accentuate his uproarious laugh. "Have you ever heard of the feared Enkido?" he asked, as the bartender refilled his glass of the high priced Alderaanian beverage. "Well fortunately for me ... someone killed him not too long ago," he explained as he took another sip of his beverage. "Blast. I think he's starting to water it down," he said as his attention loomed from the man to the bartender with a sinister glare. Perhaps he would use his newfound riches to have him eliminated.

"Ah!" Jaelian dramatically enthused, "Of course, he caused quite a bit of trouble for some of my friends, but I've been off world for a bit." He looked back at the two Twi'leks, raised his brow and gave a knowing smile. "Well, he's to old friends, and new beginnings then eh?" He turned back to the Rodian and clicked his glass with the Alien's, quickly slapped the base of the drink on the bar and downed the supposedly good drink without a wince. Again he took in the atmosphere of the cantina. Everything seemed to be fine. It was apparent this Rodian had few friends, and the feeling of despair was palpable. He focused his attention back on his new 'target', slapping the boozed Rodian on the back in a friendly manner, "Well buddy, what is it you plan to do with your new found wealth, eh? Invest, buy a star ship, settle some debts... or drink until you can't feel your snout?" Dressler belted out a laugh, again, well rehearsed, but effortless. He slid off his stool and slipped between the two Twi'leks. Any cultured spacer knew that Twi'lek's had their own language, Ryl and many could verbalize it. But only a true master of social guile could add in the important body language that went along with it, which did more than emphasize words, which was common in many galactic tongues, but also suggested, hinted, and evaded delicate words. Dressler shifted his weight to his left foot, pushed his hips back and rolled his head around as he engaged the two women in a crisp and academic Ryl, "How much does a Wampa weigh? Enough to break the ice." He chuckled at the incredibly hackneyed line. "Hello my dears. What brings two young beautiful women to a seedy hole like this? Shouldn't you be holding the arms of some corporate sector vice president? You certainly have the looks of a Corellian space lane holo model ... what gives? And what's the deal with our friend here?"

The two Twi'leks were not the least bit impressed with the man's attempt at humor, but when they heard the term 'vice president' they immediately brushed off the Rodian and focused on the man. "He was the nephew of a big time crime lord," the first woman replied in Huttese, as she grabbed hold of the man's shirt and examined him more carefully. "He just inherited all of his uncle's credits," the second Twi'lek also replied, as she looked over the Rodan once again. She laughed slightly as he ran a hand across the Rodian's head sweetly.

Toledo's eyes went wide as the Twi'lek strokes his head, and his attention too turned to the human. "Have another drink!" he boasted, as he flashed a large amount of credits. The young Rodian playboy would no longer have to drink in seedy establishments like this. Perhaps one day he could rebuild his uncle's organization, but all he wanted today was to enjoy his drinks.

Dressler grinned. Not only did he appreciate free alcohol, but he was in his element again. He had spent too long in his cream colored jacket aboard the navy's finest warships... No, here, with 'the people' is where he belonged. "Oh course my friend. My name is Chorus Noth, its a pleasure to meet you." Jaelian took the drink and sipped it. "You ought be careful you know.." Jaelian's trained eyes took a snapshot of the establishment, "places like this can be dangerous for a lone man with a lot of money. Here, why don't you put that away, and let me buy a few eh?" The ISB Captain put his hand at the small of the light blue Twilek's back, and with his other hand, reached into a front pocket of his trousers and pulled out several large denomination credit sticks- fully intending for the girls to see them, along with an executive identification card from the corporate sector, and a false BoSS registration for a star yacht. "Ah. Here," he placed the items back in his pocket, leaving one stick registered for two-hundred credits." He caressed the small of her back and gave a wife smile, "This should keep our thirsts at bay. So, your related to the underground economy eh? Very exciting."

Toledo looked at the man and his credits and his small black eyed widened slightly as he pushed through the Twi'lek's to get the man's attention. "My Uncle used to own this entire sector!" he boasted, as he took a haphazard sip from the goblet and spilled his drink all over the front of his red tunic. "I knew every bounty hunter, smuggler, pirate in the Ringali Shell..." he said, as he slammed his hand down on the bar stool, which was designed to accommodate humans rather than Rodians. He dreamed of owning a place that was designed for people of his height rather than the taller species of the galaxy. "You need something?" he asked, as the Twi'lek girls licked their lips, fondling the credit chip excitedly as they ordered a bottle of Whyrren's reserve.

"Am I looking for something?" Dressler passed a disarming smirk, "Nah. Not necessarily. I'd just like to get reacquainted with a world I thought I knew. So much has changed in a year, ya know? But nothing ever stays the same... except the law will always take a bribe, right?!" Jaelian laughed heartily and slapped the Rodian on the back.

Another glass of Alderaan Ruge was poured for the Rodian who proceeded to make quick work of it, as he was eager to buy up the small establishment's supply before anyone else got to it. He took a perverse thrill in using his newfound wealth to deny others the last taste of the now destroyed world. "The local Ringali Shell Security Force will always take a bribe, friend..." he said as he took another swig of the wine. "The Empire ... entirely different group of fiends," he concluded, with an obnoxious, drunken burp.

Dressler, half out of practice began petting the neck of one of the Twilek girls. He leaned in close to the Rodian, "You seem pretty knowledgeable about this area. It sounds-" he laughed at himself with a smirk, "like you're a very important man around here." He shifted his weight to his other foot and arched, signaling to the Twilek's in their own hidden language. "So friend," he whispered to the Rodian, "You seem like just the right guy help me acquire some blaster rifles." He stood back up, and leaned into the arms of the Twilek girls. "For the right price, of course," Jaelian's lips pulled back into a wide, toothy smile.

"If I wasn't an important man before, I am now," the Rodian Toledo replied in his native Rodese as he boosted himself onto the barstool, quite like a child, to get to eye level with the human. "Blaster rifles?" he asked, saying it perhaps a bit too loud given his drunken state, causing a number of the patrons to look over for half a second. "Yes. I can get you blaster rifles ... but the price would be considerable ... perhaps more than someone who would come to this place would have I think!" he jeered, reaching for the goblet to have another swig of the Alderaanian beverage.

"Well, men of taste, always know the right place to be." Dressler gestured at the credits laid out by the Rodian. "Don't worry about the prices- again, I'm worried the scene has changed a lot. Do you have friends, or underlings, who will help you with this, or is this something you can handle by yourself?"

The Rodan moved his face in close to the human, the smell of alcohol pouring from his lips as he spoke. "The Black Sun recently obtained an entire crate of E-11 blaster rifles from the Galactic Empire..." he said quietly, as his eyes looked around the room to make sure no one was watching. "Go on! Get out of here!" he yelled at the two Twi'lek women as his mind shifted to more important things. "Perhaps ... perhaps those would interest you?" he said, burping loudly as he considered what he was getting himself into. "Very expensive..." he warned, as he finished the goblet of Alderaanian Ruge and slammed it back down upon the table.

"Ah, a shame to scare away the locals. Especially when they're as pretty as they are." Dressler sipped his beverage and placed it on the bar. He normally finessed these sorts of arrangements much more carefully, but what could this Rodian do? In the morning, the drunk alien wouldn't remember him. Nonetheless, chats like this at least ran the risk of being heard. "Would you be selling them on behalf of the black sun, or would you be acquiring them at some risk, from the black sun, to sell? I'm curious about the price of some blasters- and how difficult it would be gain a box of thermal detonators. And, as far as a shopping list goes, what's the price of Nova-Luma-Blue spice in this city?" Dressler looked over his shoulder, using the half second all intoxicated people take to let wounds and words spin and settle in their minds. He nodded to the Twilek girls who were leaving, and gestured to an empty table in the dark corner of the cantina. He returned his attention to the boastful Rodian at the bar, and gave him his undivided attention.

The Rodan let out another loud burp, trying to consider the man's questions in order. "The Black Sun is not as strong as it used to be. Some new crime lord called 'The Gharzr' is killing everyone..." he whispered, as his eyes scanned around the Unlucky Star once again. "They are weak and now is the time to strike them!" he said emphatically, slamming his drunken hand down upon the bar tio and causing it to shake. "I should be able to get you those rifles easy ... half up front of course ..." he pointed out, glaring at the man ... he was drunk, but not that drunk. "Thermal detonators is a different story. Very restricted. Especially with all of the explosions going on around here lately ... hey ... you're not a Rebel are you?" he asked, as he glared at the man, studying his features intently for any telltale sign of treachery. "As for the spice ... this is a spaceport ... spice is everywhere!" he laughed loudly, tapping his table to add to each chuckle.

The pair of alien coquettes took a bottle from the bar and slipped into the booth in the back. Dressler noticed their placement and rolled his head from left to right then back again. "Rebel? Are credits so discriminating around here?" He shot the Rodian a curious look, mentally logging a note about even the Fringers in this area are not friendly to the Rebellion. In his report, he considered that he would articulate it: 'engaged with local illicit acquisitions enabler, who expressed negative contact about the threat.' "No my friend, if you must know, I'm here looking to start a nice bar and casino, and I'm looking to keep some people employed, and providing security. Security at the establishment, and for guests who may want to do private business near by. Do you think you have any friends, who would be interested in this line of work?"

The Rodian paused for a moment as his suction cup lined hand came to his chin and stroked it for a moment. He did not believe the man's story ... no one needed blaster rifles and thermal detonators for bar security. He laughed at him for a moment, as he considered the situation. "I actually sold my grandmother an E-Web not too long ago. She said she needed it to keep the neighborhood children off her yard," he said, condescendingly with a loud snicker as he motioned for the bartender to refill his glass. "There are number of unemployed people around here. Just look around you..." he said as he expanded his arms and motioned to all of the fringers who were gathered around lifelessly drinking.

"Yes, I think I've heard of this lady, she was a fearsome heroine of the clone wars, ya?" Dressler winked at the Rodian. "Since when did gun runners and drug dealers become so virtuous in their business? Do the Hutts not have any authority here any more? You're telling me, that the Black Sun is wounded, so who is running shop here? Your uncle was... but now who?"

The Rodian swallowed nervously, his throat bulging visibly against his tunic as he spoke. "They call him ... The Gharzr," he said slowly, looking around with his small, black eyes at anyone and everyone. "Very dangerous. He has been making a public spectacle of killing Black Sun..." he explained, as he felt suddenly very uncomfortable with the line of questioning. Such discussions often led to men being killed.

Dressler saw how nervous the Rodian was, and it made him happy. Though he preferred to swim amongst the scum, seeing them cower at the idea of a greater power always reminded him that there was no greater power than the Empire. And today, in this bar, he was the Empire. "Don't worry buddy, your secret is safe with me. Sides," Jaelian nodded with a grin, "how am I going to get those blasters, if I let my new friend get hurt, eh?" The cantina was filling up, more spacers and the ilk were filling in. "Why don't we meet again, and discuss the trade for these ... commodities, and the possible employment of your friends? Somewhere," Dressler took a sip of his beverage and paused, "ah, with less ears, yeah?" The ISB Commander took his comlink out, and flashed a digital number, "Why don't you call me up tomorrow, and we'll meet. We'll get some breakfast, I'll show the location of the bar I'd like to start, and you can help me with ... security concerns?"

The drunk Rodian felt as if he was getting involved with something he was not fully prepared for, but with his uncle deceased he had little on his plate at the moment and no chance of advancement when the inheritance dried up. Toledo took down the number and nodded his head in the affirmative, content with the status of their discussion. As the bartender emptied the last bottle of Alderaan Ruge a perverse grin came upon his face as he tilted the cup in the air and spilled the entire contents onto the floor. No one would ever again taste the sweet flavor of the beverage in this bar again thanks to him ... and for that he was grateful.

With a firm slap on the back, Jaelian bid farewell to the Rodian. He turned away from the bar and eyed every creature's composition and disposition. He assessed the alien's value would be marginal, but a potential lingered. And his most fruitful business was exploiting potential. Usually because ambition and potential were so very closely tied. In his line of work, he had to love ambitious men. He reflected as he strolled across the Cantina and into he dark corner table. Probably the only thing he loved more than ambitious men, were ambitious women. "Good afternoon ladies. Again, I am curious why such beautiful women would be hanging around a seedy hole like this? Maybe, we could chat a bit?" Dressler extended his hand, and beamed a charming grin. "I'm Chorus Noth, Vice President of Entertainment Outreach of Dynastar Industries, from the Corporate Sector originally."

Sinya'me, the light yellow skinned Twi'lek, paused and looked at the man, as she took a drip of the Whyrren's reserve she had bought for the trio with the credits she had been given by him. "We want to see another killing!" she said, as she sloshed the reserve in her goblet and took another sip. "Yeah," Ann'una, the blue skinned Twi'lek, quickly chimed in. "There's been a lot of action around here lately," she said with a firm nod of her head as she pulled the bottle away from her friend.

"I didn't know Twilek's were known to be quite so bloodthirsty," Dressler slipped into the booth the girls. He produced his pack of death sticks from his breast pocket and stretched his arms up over the booth seat. "Maybe we could chat a bit eh? What do you girls know about the entertainment industry? Also, you seem to know a little bit of who's who- Who runs the black market here?" He took a deep drag from his death stick and blew a cloud of smoke above the three. He reached with his left into his trouser pocket and produced a chrome cylinder, which he placed on the table. Jaelian flicked the end off the tiny canister and it opened to reveal some of the finest glitterstim spice, ready to be ingested.

The Ann'una grabbed the canister of glitterstim and almost immediately had it popped open and ingested. Sinya'me could only roll her eyes at her friend's pathetic addiction, as her attention fixated on the man. "The black market? Around here it used to be Carth ... Carth ... something," she stammered, unable to remember the man's full name. "Unfortunately ... he's dead now," she said, shaking her head as she moved to take in the remainder of the glitterstim. "With him dead I'm not sure who to ask anymore," she frowned, wondering just where and when she'd get her future fixes.

"Ah," Dressler took another drag and exhaled a sparkling blue-green cloud. "What a tragedy." Under the table he rubbed his leg against the yellow girl's. "Well, as I said before, I'm astounded at women, as gorgeous as you two, hanging out in this seedy bar," he let the death stick hang from his lip and leaned forward, "Why don't the three of us go down to my room at the Regent Mystique hotel downtown, and discuss your potential careers in the entertainment industry eh? Maybe have a drink and enjoy some refreshments?" He nonchalantly nodded to the chrome cylinder.

The two Twi'lek floozies nodded to the man with a knowing wink, realizing this was a chance to make good money. "This will cost you more than the Whyrren's reserve, friend," Ann'una infored him. Sinya'me grabbed the man's hand and slowly led him out of the Unlucky Star.

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