Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Liz Dorner and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:F2:2) in the New Alderaan system: New Alderaan (New Aldera).
Corinthius, Parka Pepper, and Lady Jelena Rodney.

The city of New Aldera was taking longer to construct that anyone had expected. With Rebel forces in disarray in the Mid Rim, the resources the engineers and architects had counted on had fallen far short of expectations. Still, morale was high in the settlement, as Alderaanians and Delayans a like pitched in side by side to construct makeshift structures. There was already a medcenter that could care for many of the construction related injuries being sustained in the camp, and many families had already been able to move into permanent homes. In the thick of it all was Jelena Rodney who, despite being the daughter of an infamous Grand Moff, had found herself in a position of leadership and trust with the Rebellion due to her repeated efforts to aid their cause. She remembered Aldera, before it was destroyed by the Empire, but even as optimistic as she was she knew they still had a long way to go before this settlement was truly worth of the name 'New' Aldera.

Parka Pepper made her way gingerly through the immense bustle of the undertaking that was a rebirth of the lost Alderaan. Occasionally stopping to ask for assistance, she kept going as pointed on. In tow was the solid form of a beefy male cyborg, motionless minus his measured gait, yet behind his eye and lens cap thousands of calculations flashed per second regarding the surroundings, potential threats and all possible courses of action. Parka paid him no mind and kept on, letting him keep pace on his own. At long last Parka's grey and black flecked eyes fell upon the object of her query. She approached and managed a lopsided smile towards Jelena. "Well well. Being the boss runs in the family huh? It suits you."

Jelena brought one of the olive sleeves of the plain shirts she had taken to wearing to wipe the sweat and dust off her brow. She was exhausted, but she did not want to look like the poor little rich girl who was not doing her fair share of the work. Already there were whispers that she was 'spoiled' and she was out there in the blazing midday sun working twice as hard to try and prove herself. She had seen many familiar and unfamiliar faces come through the settlement since its founding, but as she looked up she caught a glimpse of one especially familiar. "Parka?!" she exclaimed, as her eyes went wide, as she put her crate down. "What are you doing here?" she asked, as she walked towards her, pulling off her work gloves so she could grab hold of her with clean hands.

"Guilty as charged I'm afraid," Parka smirked. She glanced the young woman up and down. "Some time has passed and you've grown." Being one of the few people she still recognized here, she allowed a rather genuine smile. "It's good to see you again, alive and well."

Jelena reached out with her arms and wrapped them tightly around Parka. "I've missed you so much," she said, as she pulled back to avoid sweating on her friend ... the woman who, in her own way, was responsible on starting her down the path that led to this. "It sure beats being cramped in some Rebel safehouse in the Ringali Shell," she said, as she offered a slight smile to the Hapan. "I feel I have a real purpose here," she said, seeming a bit more confident than the teenager that Parka left behind some months ago.

Parka didn't mind the sweat, grease or whatever else had collected on Jelena. With a surprising bit of warmth and friendship she pulled the kid back into a tight embrace. "I've missed you and this whole mess as well," she admitted, before adding, "but don't tell anyone. I have a reputation to uphold." Finally withdrawing she nodded unconsciously. "As the old adage goes, you've come a long way baby. For what my two credits are worth, I'm proud of you. It's hard enough to be courageous in the face of the Empire without being related to it."

Behind them, the cyborg evaluated Parka's interaction whilst simultaneously monitoring all goings-on around them. Still as a statue, he did not shift or move minus the flicker of his one natural pupil.

"It's you I have to thank for it," Jelena said, as she turned, shifting to standing next to Parka so that she could get a look at the camp. "So where have you been? What have you been up to?" she asked, as she looked over her old friend. "We've heard reports of defeats in the Mid Rim," she said, whispering so as to not be overheard by the refugees trying to cling to what hope they had left. "I was beginning to worry I'd never see you again," she added, as she turned to face her once again, trying to main a positive exterior not just for those around her, but for herself as well.

"No you have *you* to thank for it," Parka countered gently. "You made your own observations and your own choices, and most importantly you didn't get sucked into the vacuum that is the Imperial propaganda machine." Parka took a moment to survey the work around her, noting the forlorn appearance of the masses, yet such ragged exteriors didn't seem to be able to entirely conceal the embers of optimism glowing deep beneath their collective facades. Her eyes shifted back to Jelena. "Ironically, I have been painfully safe and sound," she almost grumbled. "I was sent back to the Hapes cluster to...rally funding and allies and resources, as it were." One could tell it wasn't exactly Parka's dream assignment. "With the endless tales of war rolling through the holovid, I didn't have to work *too* hard to convince them to offer up a 'charitable donation' to the cause of the rebel alliance," Parka continued. "I was a bit surprised that even that harpy Qeio`i Eschuu da Sha`ahr actually contributed, considering all that transpired." Parka shifted slightly. "And other than spearheading this heroic effort, what is it you've been doing for the great cause?"

"Funding and resources are what will ultimately win this war. Right now we can barely assemble a refresher. Things have been drying up as of late, but we've been making do," Jelena explained, as she listened to Parka's latest round of adventures that took her away. "My father, unfortunately, has been laying west to Chandrila at the behest of the Emperor to punish those still loyal to Mon Mothma. We sent what forces we could spare to aide the Chandrilans. I've heard it's been going well, but I wasn't allowed to go," she informed her, as she began to shift nervously. Her hands fidgeted with one another, while her foot anxiously kicked at a rock on the ground. The galactic civil war was difficult enough when it did not involve the tearing up of her own family.

"We've heard, at least some of it, though at that end of space, I'm sure half has been omitted," Parka mused. "I'm sorry about that. I know it must be even harder for you." With a deep exhale, the Hapan rebel mustered a bit of mirth. "Well I for one am happy you weren't permitted to go. It'd be bad enough to count you among the great sacrifices of this war, but even more so, if your father is rolling around like a loose turbolaser on the deck, it's perhaps for the best you aren't there to bear witness to it. Not to mention if he were to find out, you may very well become an even bigger target than you already are as a means to an end," she pointed out.

"When I sit out of the battles I feel thousand eyes staring at me here, wondering where my true loyalties lie. Some people won't be satisfied unless I do make that ultimate sacrifice," Jelena confided in Parka, as she slid her hands into her pants pockets and embraced herself awkwardly. "Loose turbolaser? I've never heard him quite described like that," she said, smirking, while uttering a soft laugh. "You mind if I use that line sometime?" she asked, as she began grabbing hold of another crate of emergency rations, stacking them as she continued the conversation. "We've all lost someone in this war," she began, as she bent down to grab a crate, simply moving it from one place to another. "I'm sorry about yours," she said, with a frown, before moving to briefly sit down on the stack of crates she had made.

Parka grinned and waved a hand. "Sure go ahead, use it. Nobody should be demanding anyone else pay further than we already are. Believe me when I say that every single person is paying, heavily, no matter what side their own, your father included. I met him, at least once...or twice?" she paused to think but moved on quickly, "...and no matter how glorious it looks on his side of the fence, it's nothing more than a mere layer of dust concealing the ugliness." Parka canted her head slightly. "My loss?"

"Oh," Jelena said, falling awkwardly silent on Parka's follow up question. Suddenly she could not sit still and she rose back from to her feet and began busying herself by moving the same crates that she had already moved twice before. "I'm sorry. I thought you knew," she said, suddenly finding herself unable to look at Parka. She found herself looking just about everywhere else but the Hapan, as she began moving so quickly that the sweat began to pour off her, causing her long brown hair to become matted in place. Me and my big mouth, she thought to herself, as she avoided revealing anything else.

Any joviality drained off Parka. "Knew..?" she blinked grey eyes with black flecks towards Jelena. "Knew what..?" Without realizing it her stature tensed just so.

Suddenly Jelena stopped working, and then she stopped moving altogether. She stood in front of Parka as if all the air had deflated out of her. Her head hung low, her eyes keenly focused on the ground rather than her friend. "While you were away ... Commander ... Derek ... he was killed while rescuing me," she said, before taking in a deep nasal inhale. The tears began to well up in the corner of both of her eyes, before bringing her dirts hands up to her face in a vein effort to wipe them away. "I'm sorry. I'm really sorry..." she said, weakly, between whimpers and labored breaths.

Parka stood paralyzed, staring at Jelena in near stupor as her brain worked to process the words. Beneath her chest she could feel her heart rate pounding as it accelerated. "What...." she breathed still mired down in disbelief. "Derek..?" Visibly she sunk, one hand covering her mouth and for perhaps the first time in very very very long time, a sense of panic erupted through her. Gasping for air she could hear the words echoing around inside her head over and over. Her head seemed in a fog, and despite trying to refocus and gather her wits, she failed at keeping the emotions at bay. In a display completely alien to the usually smartmouthed and brazen Hapan, Parka buried her face in her hands and sobbed, dropping to her knees in the dust. Wracked with heartbreak, she wept openly. That pain in the ass had left her. Left her without warning. It was a knife in the heart beyond any pain she could ever recall. Heedless of the scene she may have been creating, Parka rocked herself on her haunches, bawling uncontrollably.

The near-human tank of a cyborg standing behind her gazed down at the crestfallen young royal in hiding, yet did not move, withholding any reaction just yet.

"Oh no..." Jelena said, as she watched Parka crumble before her eyes. She hated to have been the one to have to tell her, and in such an unfamiliar setting and in such a startling manner. She moved towards her in a hurry, crouching down next to her, and reaching to put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. "I'm sorry," she said, as she tried her best to comfort her. In many ways she had begun to consider her father death, to come to terms with how she had betrayed him. She had come to know loss. She had come to know pain. Far too young in life. What she still had to learn was how to help others in dealing with such things. She had always been an introvert, hiding herself away, to deal with things in her own way.

As the waves of devastation began to subside, Parka wiped briskly at her face, pointlessly. "This is all my fault," she struggled to make the words amid her heavy breathing. "I should have been there..." she let her voice trail off. "He'd still be here if I was there and not off..." She shook her head and sat back on her haunches, her body growing still after such a tempest of grief. A ribbon of belligerence flared momentarily as her face, glossy with tears, scowled briefly. "Damn you Derek..." she hissed, wiping her face again, a bit more roughly this time. Succumbing to the exhaustion of such an outpouring, she heaved a ragged sigh. "I should have been there," she conceded. Parka took a few more moments to collect herself. Her braided platinum blonde dreadlocks had been pulled back into a thick ponytail and she pushed a few of the meticulously chorded braids back over her shoulder. Most people were ugly when they cried. Fortunately for Hapans, their inherent beauty carried over into their grief. Even in the throes of heartache she didn't look too horrible, not that she cared what anyone here thought.

In following with the array of out of character behavior, Parka did not fight or object to Jelena's condolences. In fact, she exhaled again, deeply, letting herself sink temporarily into Jelena as a support. "I can't believe he's left me..." she repeated in the fading traces of disbelief. "That pain in the ass and I go back." A few more minutes and she collected herself. She forced a rather unconvincing smile at Jelena. "Thank you. I think I need some time. I'll be quartering in my ship if you need me." With that she got to her feet, not bothering to dust off her cargo pants and boots.

"I understand," Jelena said, sympathetically, as she looked towards the fallen Hapan with sheer empathy in her eyes. "If there's anything you need ... if there's anything I can do ... anything any of us can do please let me know," she told her, as she began to rise back up to her feet, doing her best to help her back onto her feet. When she was heading back to her ship Jelena still was wracked to greath before someone yelled at her for assistance with a fresh delivery of supplies, which snapped her out of her funk and caused her to run back into action to help the safeworld develop.

"I'll be around for a few days," Parka murmured before casting a glance towards the brute behind her, one of the feared Hapan cyborgs of Charubah. "At some point I have been asked to deliver 'Beefcake' here to your ex-stepmother. I'll do what you need help with before I sidetrack on that trip, and then I'll be back," she offered. With that, she withdrew, moving back from whence she came with far less zeal this time around. "Corinthius," she called behind her, at which the cyborg pulled his steely gaze from Jelena and marched after Parka.

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