Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Liz Dorner, Scott Farnham, and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:8:4) in the Chandrila system: Chandrila (Hanna City: Tea Garden) and in the New Alderaan system: New Alderaan (New Aldera: Rebel command center).
Cole Duine, Parka Pepper, Lady Jelena Rodney, and Lady Htaere Ka`a Sha`ar.

Htaere Ka`a Sha`ar sat on a luxurious pillow in one of the outdoor seating areas at the most premier tea garden in Hanna City. With her eyes closed and face turned skyward, the Hapan heiress was drawn to the splendor of nature, as Hapans were, letting the radiance of the sun warm her skin. Adorned in her usual grandeur, she glistened in her shell top and long skirt, her arms and midriff exposed and basking in the sunlight as well. An elaborate gemstone maang tikka crowned her head, glittering as the sun's rays caught it just so. The only sounds to touch her ears were that of the gentle breezes stirring about the leaves of the vast array of plantlife, the bubble of the three-tiered fountain in the middle of the garden and the jingle of various hanging wind chimes that stirred every so often in the wind. It was least, until her personal com unit went off.

Pulling herself out of serene revelry, cloudy grey eyes checked the identification, and instantly her golden mood was sullied. Parka.

With an exhale Htaere touched the a panel on the encrypted device and attempted to fix the glower from her face before the small holovid of Parka Pepper's bust materialized. "Parka, to what do I owe the...pleasure," it was an effort to get the word out.

"There's no one to bully incessantly in your absence. I almost miss you around here, Snowflake," Parka replied with a smile, having no delusion as to Htaere's reception of her call.

"What a kind sentiment. If only I were able to reciprocate," Htaere mumbled absently as she took a dainty sip of her tea.

"Word on the street is you've made yourself a deal. With Cole Duine," Parka noted, almost in mock interest. "Well I suppose if anyone could charm a bounty hunter into releasing his capture, it would be you."

"I do not believe charm did any of the heavy lifting in the arrangement," Htaere responded, temporarily nodding to an attendant off camera who offered a fresh pot of tea. "He speaks the language of credits quite fluently, which makes him very predictable. And anyway, I simply told him the truth; that if he chose to gamble with his life by delivering me to my mother, in her dominion, on her terms, he would be lucky to leave Gallinore with his skin. Forget making it to the border of Hapes," she said matter-of-factly. "You know him, then?"

"By reputation only. He is a major underworld figure, and very dangerous," Parka cited cautiously.

"I am aware," Htaere answered plainly.

Parka frowned and continued. "His fine resume includes murder, kidnapping, bribery, money laundering, unlawful possession of weapons, illegal gambling and so on and so on and so know, all those great qualities in a fella," the rebel intel agent smiled sweetly as she folded her hands behind her back.

"Hard to believe he is still single," Htaere commented, one corner of her lovely mouth lifting upwards.

"Now you're catching on, Snowflake," Parka managed offer a glimmer of praise but it was short-lived. "But seriously, watch your six. Watch it carefully. In fact, grow a pair of eyes in the back of your head. Those come in handy when one starts cajoling with characters of dubious merit. That rainbow gem in your forehead is nearly a billboard advertising that your head alone is worth 400,000 credits. His kind *will* help themselves to it if he decides he wants it bad enough, and severing a head is not at all an inconvenience for people like him, nor any in his employ. You are in very dangerous company, Htaere. Be very careful."

About to take another sip of tea, Htaere drew short. "Using my name? My actual name? This must be serious. Careful Parka, it sounds like you are coming dangerously close to being concerned for my welfare."

"Only because I'd hate to have to be the one to break the news of your demise to Jelena," Parka retorted with a smirk.

"Then I suppose it is most fortunate for you that I remain among the living," Htaere remarked before proceeding with her tea.

"And what of your mother? The bounty is still open you know," Parka had to point out the obvious.

"I am certain that gorgon is blowing up your com. Tell her that I have contracted a horrible disease and have withdrawn to some dark corner of the galaxy to die a slow, agonizing death. The very news should warm the cold depths of her dark evil heart," Htaere shrugged an exquisitely draped shoulder.

"How macabre. I'm so proud," Parka's eyebrows lifted. "If only that worked."

"Perhaps you are having an impact on me after all. If only I were able to imbibe some good manners and civilized behavior on you in return," Htaere smiled.

"A lofty ambition on your part," Parka said without missing a beat.

"No doubt. Is Jelena available?" Htaere inquired, canting her head with a pleasant smile. "This has been a charming visit and all, but, the bile does rise in the back of my throat when we communicate, so, if you would be so kind as to check, I would be most grateful."

Parka delighted in pestering the young Hapan and the idea of making her uncomfortable was well worth it. "I'll check," she answered, turning away and stopping to pause, if only a moment before looking back at the lense. "Don't get a big head over this or anything careful."

A genuine smile touched Htaere's lips. "I shall. Thank you," she said quietly with a nod.

A deal all too nice not to pass up. Cole Duine let Htaere go a d she just so happened to increase his credit count by a substantial amount. Such an amount that would allow him to increase his operations greatly. Now one thing that was known about Cole was he paid his men well, well enough to where they remained loyal. He was also ruthless. Ruthless to the point where if someone betrayed him, he came after their families. Besides the kids, never kids. He had many interests on this planet, one was Htaera. He would make sure she wasn't taken off this rock without his say so. He couldn't have a possible payday slip through his hands, especially how this deal was meant to keep her safe, and on this planet.

Cole walked through the streets of Hanna with four men. Two at his side, and two behind him roughly ten feet to keep an eye on things. Heavily armed and well trained in the art of combat...

Cole couldn't help but smile once his eyes landed upon Htaera. He had someone tailing her but today she would have a more substantial guard now. He slowly made his way over to her, his men making a sort of parameter.

"It's nice to see you again...I hope we are past me drugging you?

From her engaging spot in the tea garden, Htaere gazed up from where she watched a blank com waiting for Parka, or Jelena, with eyes the color of the sky before a storm breaks. The well-dressed zabrak male before her was the one and only who she'd negotiated a business proposition with, of sorts. Enjoying the temporary comforts of relaxing in his territory, she motioned to the seat across from her at the tea table. "All is forgiven," she smiled. "Care to join me? This is an exceptional tea."

"I would , thank you. " Was said as Cole made his way over to the table. Adjusting his suit before he took a seat, his eyes moves to Htaera and spoke somewhat quieter.

"It would be the best of both our interests to make sure you remain safe while in my care so from now on you shall be accompanied by these two, Zuka and Raphael." He turned his head and whistled, two of the guards that were close to him nodded and acknowledged his signal but remained at at distance at the moment.

"You have quite a price on your head...I think we should be careful don't you agree?" He gestured to the service droid signaling for a tea, gesturing to what she was drinking.

As the serving droid brought a second elegant tea cup for Cole, Htaere continued to sip her own with all the gentile and composure of a lady. At his words, she found her smile thinning.

Grey eyes traveled briefly to 'Zuka' and 'Raphael' before drifting back to the lined face of the Zabrak crime boss. She had no doubt he'd had a set of eyes on her all throughout the day. She also found herself routinely eyeballing the horns encircling his head and the various ritual lines and markings on his flesh. It wasn't dissimilar to the beautification efforts her mother had performed on her to enhance her own appearances.

"That is very kind of you Cole, but completely unnecessary. My presence here requires a very passive effort on your part, I assure you. I do not need you to extol your resources on my account, including your men," she nodded towards the pair. "I am most content to spend my days in the sunlight here in the tea garden. I assure you I do not command much in the way of commodity, only that you..." she thought on how Parka had phrased it. " my six, if you will."

"I must stress that it is in your best interest that you reconsider keeping my friends here around. Though if you decline, well...I wont force them to be at your side. " He offered a smile. Though she could assume that they would still be in the shadows.

His cybernetic hand moved to take ahold of the tea, lifting it to his lips. Sniffing it briefly before he took a sip, offering a nod. "Not bad." He leaned back against the chair and casually looked around the garden.

"I must say this was the first time I've sat in here...nice if I may, your mother wants you to marry someone eh?"

The four men of Coles casually walked around the area. Eyes scanning for any possible threats. Hands resting upon their weapons. It was odd, even the republic police seemed to not pay any mind to Cole and his men. A sign that things were working well for him.

Htaere did not allow herself to be troubled by Cole's entourage of henchmen. As far as she was concerned, she'd paid her debt and had the time to spend as well.

"I value my privacy greatly," she remarked quietly. Drawing a deep breath, she allowed an amiable smile. "Yes, for the second time." She paused to sample the fresh cup of tea before her. "This time around, I simply refuse to comply. Mmmm this is quite fine. How fortunate of you to have access to such masters," she noted of the tea sommelier.

She settled and offered her most patient grin. "The woman has no soul. Where her heart should be exists only a black hole. She will eventually grow wary of these games, and my bounty will evolve into an assassination order, as she did for my father when I was a child, and various other concubines." She raised her tea cup gracefully in salutations. "But I do not intend to make it easy for her. Cheers."

After a handful of heartbeats, she made an inquiry of her own. "I understand the rebellion and the Empire lock horns here on Chandrila quite regularly. How does that affect your ... business interests?"

Across the galaxy on New Alderaan, Jelena Rodney was in the makeshift Rebel command center, agonizing over the construction of the Alliance safe world. There was a moment of calm that allowed her to take a seat, and have a hot cup of tea. She wondered if all this was worth it, or if she was just struggling to build another planet for the Empire to come along and destroy. There were the thoughts on the teenage 'traitor' as she sipped her tea, but no matter what happened she could not lose hope. When she spied Parka coming into the structure, which was basically nothing more than a large tent supported by durasteel posts, and filled with terminals that were out of date even during the last war. "I took your advice, Parka. Went on the HoloNet. Looked up what a nek was," she said, as she looked at her with a neutral expression before lowering her face to the cup of the tea. "I've decided to take it as a compliment," she said, revealing a smile as she rose her face and lowered the tea. "Do you think Htaere made it where she was going safely?" she asked, as she briefly paused to check her wrist chrono to see if she could remain seated this long. There was simply so much to do in the early stages of the community.

"Truth be told, business is booming. You see, war is great for the economy. At least, mine anyways. With both the empire and republic worrying about one another, they tend to forget about the lesser problems."

He smiled and took another sip of his tea. It was quite delicious, perhaps he should slip his hand into this business and have them pay for protection. Good old fashioned extortion. His eyes fell back to Htaere.

"Have you ever thought about having your mother removed from the equation?"

He glanced off into the distance once again, casually looking over the random patrons. Calculating and thinking. His mind never stopped, it had to. If he was to let his guard down once, that could be his demise. His left hand shifting off the table the able rest upon his thigh, close to his blaster.

"What is it you do for fun? Besides drinking tea that is..."

Parka grinned. "Well it was a compliment. I told you they're bad ass. We should get one. Could be a really great guard dog," she offered enthusiastically before her smile melted. "Unless of ate Htaere's guarlara..." An all out frown replaced her mirth. "I don't think that would go over well so, maybe not. Anyway," she continued. "Htaere...yes, well she...she...uh," Parka had not bothered to share any of the news regarding her former stepmother's capture, nor subsequent release, nor Faustian bargain she'd made with the up-and-coming king of Chandrila's underworld. "...well, why don't you ask her yourself," she misdirected the conversation gingerly with a motion towards the communications center.

Htaere had to chuckle at Cole's question regarding her mother, the 'illustrious' Qeio`i Eschuu da Sha`ar. "Have her removed?" She shook her head slowly and took another sip of her tea, savoring the notes of this particular blend before answering. "My family, the Sha`ar have owned the exclusive mining rights to the rainbow gems of Gallinore since the spouses and descendants of the Lorell Raiders took control of the Hapes Cluster millennia ago. Rainbow gems are the foundation of Hapes' wealth. One of them alone fetches the cost of a Mon Calamari cruiser." She briefly touched the amber colored rainbow gem that her mother had surgically embedded in her forehead "One does not obtain nor maintain that kind of position without knowing how to sidestep blaster bolts and landmines. As you can imagine she also is well bedded with the Queen Mother and royal family, and justifiably so. It would be just as easy to remove Emperor Palpatine as it would be removing my mother. Besides, to go through the trouble of contemplating such an endeavor and bringing it to fruition, well that would mean I would have to expend energy and thought on her, and I shall give her no such pleasure. I do not allow her to rent space inside my head, thus, I give her no thought at all."

There was a brief moment before she considered his last question. "For fun..." A slow smile crept over her features. "As of late, many things," she answered with a rather mischievous grin, allowing for little more than ambivalence in her response.

"No thank you!" Jelena said, with a bright smile, as she rose from her chair, put aside her tea and moved towards Parka. "If anything happened to that guarlara I would never hear the end of it," she said, with a wry smile, as she was reminded that she needed to go check in on the creature. "Chandrila?! But ... but that's my father's sector!" she said, as she brought her hand dramatically to her forehead, as teenage girls were prone to do. "What is she thinking?" she said, as she moved towards the communications center. "Excuse me, Private," she said, as she brushed the controller away and sat down at the terminal. "Help me figure this thing out," she said to Parka, anxiously, as she began searching for Htaere's frequency on Chandrila.

Parka didn't bother answering Jelena, only smiling and shaking her head. "Not my circus, not my Kowakian monkey-lizards," she absolved herself on any further responsibility on the issue. Instead she simply trailed after Jelena patiently, and as the younger girl fumbled about at the console, Parka simply flipped back to the channel already connected to Htaere on Chandrila.

From her table at the tea garden in Hanna City where she'd been conversing with Cole Duine, Htaere's eyes caught the flicker on the holovid as Jelena appeared. Quickly she glanced across the table to the mob boss, offered her most polite smile, and nearly whispered, "Excuse me a moment," before rising from her seat and hastening to the most remote corner of the garden for a bit of isolation. Turning her back so that none could be privy to even the movement of her lips, Htaere smiled. "Hello Jelena," she said enthusiastically. "I am certain you are quite busy, I merely wished to check in and see if any 'deliveries' had made their way to your corner of space," she grinned and threw in a wink for good measure.

He offered a polite smile and bowed his head slightly. Curiously notating the message before he watched her walk away. His eyes then moved over to his men keeping guard. He motioned for one of his 'soldiers' to come over. Upon him making his way over he gestured for him to lean down. Whispering softly. "When we leave...she will have two guards on her at all times...keep to the shadows, I don't want her know she is being tailed...also, on a alternate issue. Make sure the local security receive the payment on time...don't need to raise any issues while we are making a home here." He paused a moment before he added. "You can go Raphael, thank you." He leaned forward and took another sip of his tea, enjoying the taste. He quietly waited for Htaere to finish her conversation.

"Htaere?!" Jelena said, as the long distance signal was not as clear as she was used to, or perhaps maybe it was just the age and state of disrepair of the comms system she was using. "Htaere, what are you doing on Chandrila? Do you know how dangerous that is?" she asked, sounding more like the older of the pair. She worried endlessly about her former stepmother, whom she perceived as an innocent, unaware of the harsh realities facing the galaxy. She looked towards Parka dismissively, wishing she had taken a greater interesting in Htaere's protection. "Are you alright? Do you want *me* to send some people to protect you?" she asked Htaere, but she was looking right at Parka. She lowered her head, placing her forehead in both of her hands as she contemplated what to do. "Why there?" she asked Parka, as she moved her hand over the transmitter so Htaere would not pick up on that part.

A little surprised at being chided like a child, Htaere's smile flatlined summarily. "Jelena, calm yourself, everything is fine," she countered. "I was only stopping for a refueling and, well, a most peculiar series of circumstances has drawn out this little visit, at least for a time," she explained, but left it intentionally ambiguous. "It is a tale I shall have to regale you with upon my return, but I assure you that all is well, and no, I do not require protective services." She grinned a little, as that factor had already been addressed. No need to burden Jelena with the events that had transpired as of late. "I am aware of the conflict here, but I am reasonably removed from it, and being this is my first visit to Chandrila, the odds of encountering anyone I am familiar with are practically nonexistent." With a sweet smile, she misdirected the conversation to the reason for her inquiry. "And what of the supplies? They should be arriving with some degree of regularity now, and..." she beamed, "on this next one, I have added a special treat for the children. Please do tell me if they like it when you get it."

His green eyes curiously watched Htaere. Watching her movements from behind. She positioned herself so he couldn't read her lips, something that would have been easy with his left cybernetic eye. His hand lifted the tea to his lips, finishing it off. As much as he enjoyed the woman's company his time was important. Any day spent relaxing was a day others moved against him. This planet was no exception to that rule. He slowly got up, a piece of paper was pulled from his coat pocket. A small note written on it before he turned and gestured for his men to follow. Of course Raphael stayed behind in the shadows. He had his own task to make sure of. When Htaere would read the note it would simply say... "Sorry but I had to step out. We shall be seeing more of one another. Till then, enjoy your tea" It wasn't long before Cole was lost in the crowd of people. Heading to hand some business of his.

Jelena quietly listened to Htaere's message, but was sitting on the edge of her seat, filled with anxiety over Htaere's predicament. "Yes. The supplies are here. Than you," she said, speaking in a calm, diplomatic voice that she had heard her father use all of his life. She swallowed, before continuing, attempting to regain some composure before continuing. "I am sure the children will be grateful. There are so many here who lost their parents when Alderaan was destroyed, or have parents who are away fighting in the war," she explained, as her thoughts inevitably dwelled on her niece, Callista. "Be safe, Htaere. Please contact me if you need anything," she said, as she terminated the transmission, rose from the chair and brushed past Parka. As she moved past the Hapan she gave her a side-eye glare, indicating her concern for the danger Htaere might face on Chandrila.

Htaere slipped her com unit away before returning to her table to finish her tea, enjoying it all the more upon hearing that things were going as planned with a content smile on her face, awash in the sunlight of the garden.

Parka did not react to Jelena's fretting. "She's a big girl. She can take care of herself. I'm sure she's fine," she called towards Jelena's back with a reassuring smile. Imagine the scorn if she'd brought up Htaere's attempted abduction, or being tackled, punched, being tossed around by a thermal detonator explosion or being shot. As the adage goes...ignorance is bliss. Such bliss.

And with that, Parka redirected her attentions elsewhere. Things were stirring on the horizon, and she'd be dispatched shortly again no doubt. She took a seat at a kiosk and began reviewing what little information had been trickling in, waiting to see where she'd be sent next with an uncharacteristically somber expression.

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