Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Liz Dorner and Christopher Levy.
Zero years after the Battle of Yavin (35:8:13) in the Ringali nebula: Ringali Station.
Yekaterina Hanson, Parka Pepper, and Lady Jelena Rodney.

The former Alderaan Guard Yekaterina Hanson sat silently outside of the quarters that had been assigned to the Lady Jelena Rodney. The thirty-something woman had never been in such an unpleasant environment as she found herself in now. Her brown eyes scanned her tight surroundings, and as the barely functioning overhead light flickered in and out she felt the walls slowly begin to close in on her. She took a nervous, but much needed, drag on her cigarra as she tried to steady herself against the harshness of her environ. She had been trained to endure a lot during her decade of service to the Guard, but her claustrophobia was something no amount of training could simply make disappear. Her brown nearly was carefully cut short in the manner of a pixie from a child's fable, as to be the least intrusive if she found herself in a combat situation ... as was likely. Gone was the decorative uniform of the Alderaan Guard ... a service to a planet that no longer existed ... replaced instead with black utilitarian ... decidedly unfeminine ... clothing that was designed to make her blend in. She was there for one purpose ... to defend the noblewoman in her charge ... and she was prepared to sacrifice her life for hers. Behind her the near constant sound of the young Jelena complaining to herself so loudly and unladylike that it carried through the blast door that separated them.

In a clean pair of cargo pants, white tank and her boots, Parka picked her way to the lower level where Derek instructed their 'guest' was being housed. Down the length of the corridor she spotted a woman, presumably the bodyguard. She looked unhappy. A smile touched Parka's lips as she approached. "You look entirely too thrilled to be here. Need to reel that in, soldier."

Despite her training and experience, the unfamiliarity with her surroundings and inadequate lighting conditions combined with her distracted state to allow Parka to get the drop on her. Initially startled, the cigarra quickly fell to the ground, as she rose up to a more rigid and military posture while simultaneously stepping to the right to completely bar access to the door behind her. Instinctively, as if a reflex, her right hand hovered over her holstered sidearm as she had yet to be briefed on who was who around here. "Please identify yourself," she said, in a robotic, yet slightly hostile tone as her brown eyes narrowed slightly in a interrogative glare at the unfamiliar woman.

Parka noted the dropped cigarra. "Those'll kill you, ya know...if the tetanus in this place doesn't," she chuckled. "I was Jelena's contact prior," she nodded to the door. "Tell her I'm here to sell her a vacuum droid and see what she says."

"I don't think I'll live long enough to worry about that," Kat morbidly, and perhaps accurately, was quick to point out. "Do you have identification?" she asked, tilting her head slightly as she attempted to study her mannerisms and facial features. During her service in the Alderaan Guard she had accompanied the late Senator Organa on numerous affairs of state that were often filled with mischievous beings whose dishonesty she paid close heed to.

She had not been briefed on a prior contact, nor was she informed to expect any visitors. Still, since beginning this assignment there were few formal briefings and it was possible this woman was telling the truth. However, her guard was up, and she had yet to properly identify herself.

"Not at all," Parka grinned without missing a beat. "Seriously, tell her there's someone here to sell her a vacuum droid. Go ahead. I'll wait," Parka shrugged, backing off and leaning against the corridor wall casually.

"One moment," a frustrated Kat bellowed, before raising her left arm to bring the wrist comlink up to just below her mouth. While never taking her eyes off the woman she politely spoke into the comm in a manner much different than she had used when speaking to Parka. "Milady ... there is a woman here to sell you a ... vacuum droid," she said somewhat skeptically, waiting for a reply. Just the utterance of the phrase made her feel ridiculous.

Inside the small room that had been assigned to her, Jelena was laying on a small, uncomfortable cot, trying to count the number of holes in the ceiling. She felt like she was in prison, and by far this was the worst conditions she had ever been subjected to. When she reluctantly agreed to go back to the Ringali Shell to aide in the propaganda effort this was not what she had expected. She had just started and she had nearly been broken ... she was ready to quit and flee to her grandparents and spend the rest of her days hiding out on Delaya. When she heard the message from her protector her mind immediately made the connection. "Parka!" she exclaimed, somewhat excitedly, at the thought of having someone to talk to besides her maudlin bodyguard. "Send her in at once!" she demanded, jumping off her cot, and moving towards the blast door to hurriedly activate the controls to open the door. Upon seeing her a bright smile came upon her disheveled features ... the first one since arriving on the dreary station.

Parka grinned and lightly prodded in mock scolding. "I hear you've been a very busy little bee." She straightened from the wall. "You look like you need a drink." She looked the young woman over briefly and noted her visibly poor adjustment to rebellion accommodations. "I've actually been in places worse than this if you can imagine. Feel like some company?"

"If I had known this would be the result of it ... I wouldn't have done it!" Jelena exclaimed, as she stepped backwards into her 'room' and extended both of her arms wide, which very nearly touched both walls simultaneously. "Aboard the Warspite I had closets bigger than this. I sometimes wonder if I'm in an ISB holding cell..." she continued, speaking rapidly as she rattled off a list of complaints that many would consider core world problems. "I thank you ... but no ... no drink ... I will not become my father's daughter," she said bitterly, fully aware of the alcoholic streak that ran through her bloodline and the negative affects it had on her father and those around him. "But yes ... I would simply adore some company," she said, with a smile, as she haphazardly sat down upon the bed, causing a loud, grating sound of metal creaking as the small cot nearly gave way.

"Good answer cuz there's probably none on this rock," Parka noted matter-of-factly. She seated herself against the wall and hiked one knee up to rest an elbow on. For the first time, she seemed a bit serious. "Unfortunately, this is pretty much how the rebellion operates, bare minimum with whatever resources can be dug up. Definitely not luxury but...a little sacrifice for a greater cause." It was odd to Parka that she'd be the pep squad given her history of haphazard attitude towards all this. Strange how war changed people. "Soooooo...what was the last straw?"

Jelena let out an exasperated sigh that seemed to draw on endlessly, and when finished her demure body slumped backwards so that she was laying against the bulkhead. "It was Alderaan. It was my father's refusal to accept that his Empire was beyond it. It was his drunkenness and the way he took it out on others. It was the dissolution of the Senate. It was his new super ship..." she listed, in no particular order, going on and on and on about the series of events that had to her life altering course of action. "But most of all I could not stand myself anymore. The hypocrisy of going through the motions each day. Pretending to be what I was not. A slave to a life that was not my own..." she said, bitterly, as she quickly bit down upon her lower lip to stifle the imminent and inevitable arrival of tears.

"Never too late to do something. I'd wager there are many folks who'd love to be sitting in here instead of their ISB cell, like your stepmother. Best you can do for those people is help to topple the Empire." Parka paused a moment. "I can't say it was a surprise, just a matter of time. But I hear you broadcasted a big ol' message throughout the shell. That was big of you. I'm impressed," Parka perked up. "How'd you pull that off?"

"My father's sentimentality made his access code rather easy to obtain. His terminal had access to override the local holonet for emergency and propaganda broadcasts. It was a lot less complicated than it should have been. I simply needed to wait for him to leave," Jelena said, rather plainly, detailing the simplicity of her plot and how she single-handedly upended a year of Imperial propaganda efforts in the region. "As for Htaere ... she is hopelessly naive. I tried to speak with her, but she believes my father's shameful lies that the Rebellion destroyed Alderaan ... despite all that her husband's cronies have subjected her to. I pity the creature," she said, quite contemptuously as she dismissed her step-mother utterly.

"Did Kerrie survive?" Parka asked openly. On some level, she hoped she had, for reasons she couldn't explain given how difficult Kerrie had made her life.

"I certainly hope not," Jelena stated bitterly, without a single ounce of remorse in her young voice. "That ... creature ... was the worst being I have encountered. Fanatically obsessed with my father despite all of the crimes he perpetrated against her. Foolishly believe that she was somehow part of our family," she explained, in a decidedly different demeanor than she had expressed prior to her defection. It had changed her in many ways ... some negatively. "I would never have a moment's peace with her out there hunting me," she reasoned, nodding her head firmly, before tilting her head to examine Parka with her big blue eyes in hopes of some form of validation.

Parka let her vent for a moment before saying anything. "Hindsight affords us better vision, but we don't know that until we move forward, else it's just the present," she commented. "Maybe with a bit of time, things will settle." Parka thought on it. "You know, you don't have to stay. We can find a way to get you out of the system and perhaps into hiding since the Empire will be looking for you, but you don't *have* to remain with the rebellion. If we forced that, we'd be no different than the Empire. Just something to consider."

In bitter frustration, Jelena slammed the back of her head against the bulkhead, trying to snap some sense into herself. "No ... I promised my grandparents. I promised Leia..." she said, rolling her eyes skyward once again to took at the dimly lit ceiling. "I owe it to my people. I owe it to myself ... to continue on the path I started ... no matter how uncomfortable the road might be," she said, with slight confidence, as she began to fill into her adult self and come into her own.

"Have you been doing any active campaigns or just sitting in here?" Parka asked shifting to her feet and brushing her backside off.

"Just sitting in here," Jelena admitted with some frustration, as she again eyeballed the tiny closet-sized room that had become her home. "My ... protector ... out there is terrified to let me down on the surface of any of these worlds for fear of what the Empire might do to capture me. Perhaps she's right..." she said with an air of trepidation, knowing full well her father's desire to get her back ... regardless of the cost. Still, she had a strong desire to do something besides sit there.

"Well I'd highly recommend offering to be of some use. There's a risk with action from here on out. There's an ancient warring culture from my studies that used to believe that your path is laid out as is your life, like a great tapestry. When it's your time, it's your time. Doesn't matter if you're on the battlefield or hiding in a hole. The outcome is still the same," Parka nodded before turning towards the door. "They've always got projects for me to do. I'm sure you could ask about coming along unless the higher command has bigger plans, but Force knows we could always use another set of hands."

"I haven't met too many people since arriving here. Truthfully, I don't even know who to ask," Jelena observed, before leaning forward to confirm that the blast door was secured. "...and she ... she's no help whatsoever. She's as lost as I am here," she complained, yet again, as it seemed she had found a fault in just about everything. "What about your boyfriend?" she asked, somewhat playfully, in a reminder that at heart she very much was still a teenage girl. A soft smile formed upon her face, quickly followed by a snicker, as a dash of color rushed upon her cheeks. It was the first time she had found herself laughing since this entire ordeal had begun.

Parka arched a brow and glanced towards the young woman. "Boyfriend? Oh, you mean Derek." She waved a hand. "It's not really like that. We just go back a while is all," she assured her. "But ironically, he might be the best person to ask as I understand he's been left in charge of this circus. Never hurts to try."

Jelena took a deep breath, before bringing a hand quickly up to her face to cover her nose as a nauseated look came upon her face. "It certainly smells like a circus..." she commented, disgustedly, as she wondered when the last time a cleaning crew went through this place. "You think he can get me out of this place? Perhaps somewhere with breathable air?" she asked, her blue eyes widening with the hopeful optimism seemingly possessed only by youth.

Parka shrugged. "Well that depends. If you want to stay in service to the rebellion, you may find yourself based out of various dives and holes. Locations subject to change without notice," she threw in for good measure. "If the rebellion has a few timeshares on beachfront property, I'm not aware of it. So I guess that's the first thing you have to figure out is what you really want to do."

"No one needed to bring freedom to the Gold Beaches of Corellia?" Jelena asked, with a slight smirk, before raising herself up from her bunk and reaching towards the low ceiling in a stretch. "I've already said I'm staying. I'll try harder to deal with ... this," she said, as she spun around the small room, covering all of the square meters in relative ease. "I'll try and get some sleep, and then I'll go find your 'friend'," she informed her with a reassuring nod, before activating the door codes. "By the look of him he knows where the good food is around here," she said, followed by unrestrained laughter, after the joke she could not stop herself from making.

Parka chuckled. "Yeah he's something," she agreed. "When you're ready, come find me. We'll go from there."

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