Era of Rebellion - Navigation

David Cole and Christopher Levy.
Zero years after the Battle of Yavin (35:7:28) in the Essesia system: Esseles (Calamar: Cantina, Entertainment district, Hotel).
Count Nicolai Ardent, Cabra the Hutt, and El-Nay Darr.

Calamar, the capital of the influential core world of Esseles, was home to a diverse population and high culture, but also boasted an entertainment district that was home to night spots where criminals rubbed elbows with businessmen. One such patron was El-Nay Darr, who had been a regular over the past several days, and had been drowning herself in alcohol rather than working on the Imperial contract she had accepted. She was wearing her distinct suit of orange beskar'gam that made her stick out like a sore thumb among the crowd of more subdued patrons. Her helmet was on the bar in front of her, next to her drink, which exposed her cold gray eyes and dyed blonde hair that was cut short and shaved on the sides revealing her brown roots. She had been doing her best to forget her recent capture of Hanna Ardent, a young noblewoman from a neighboring system who she had delivered to a Hutt crime lord. She raised a cigarra to her mouth and took a long, pleasurable drag, before releasing a plume of smoke from beneath her ruby red lips and taking another swig of the Corellian ale that lay before her.

Hanna's father, the Count Nicolai was none too happy that his financial downfall includes his daughter being sent off to a mining planet to serve a Hutt lord for the next two years. The guilt the man felt was immense, and even considered suicide in all of this. However, after those feelings went away ... he would do anything to get his daughter back. He had the bounty hunter known as El-Nay located and found out her location in Esseles. He had three henchman, all the biggest and burliest guards go and confront El-Nay. As they entered the bar where El-Nay was at, getting hammered at the bar, the largest of the men did not hesitate to walk up right towards her and send a high powered stun baton into the hunters back, causing her to slump in her seat. Two of the others grabbed El-Nay and began to carry her out of the cantina, as the main guard brandished a blaster, telling nobody to move. They quickly took El-Nay out of the bar and away from the view of any public onlookers, so the Baron could confront her in private.

The electrical shock that ran through El-Nay's body caught her completely off guard and an instant she was completely incapacitated. "Ugh," she groaned from a combination of drunkenness and the lingering effects of the stun baton. As she was thrown against the wall she used her hands to hold her torso up against the ground, unleashing a series of deep, heaving breaths that caused the plates of beskar affixed to her chest to move up and down repeatedly. "Three ... on one..." she stammered, as she looked up from the ground with her cold, gray eyes, wishing she had her helmet on to increase her confidence and strengthen her resolve. The helmet, too, would have the added benefit of her targeting scanners, as she weakly raised her right arm at the largest of the three thugs. "Almost seems fair," she said with a sly smirk before bringing her left hand to write her wrist and activating the controls that sent a large eruption of flame to spring from her wrist towards the thug. Even though she was not armed in the conventional sense, her armor was a powerful weapon unto itself.

Sure, it was three on one, but they knew just how skilled El-Nay was and did not want any screw-ups. They carried the pixie blonde out of the cantina, telling the crowd that she needed time to sleep things off. She was thrown against the wall and she tried to say something sarcastic, which caused the largest of the guards to smack her across the face. But her armor sent out a pulse, and shot one of the guards back for a moment as the others grabbed El-Nay's arms to pin her against the wall. It was at that point, where a noble looking man in well-to-do clothing appeared from that, telling the men "Stop pummeling her...I need to speak with her..." It was at that point where the man declared himself "Not that I expect you to know who I am...but I am Count Nicolai of Brentaal... I believe you were the one to send my daughter to her prison sentence as a Hutt slave. Is that correct?"

"Get your ... hands ... off'a ... me!" El-Nay grunted between shrieks as she struggled against the grasp of the two thugs who were holding her against the wall. Despite the fact that she was expertly trained and well motivated, she could not defy the laws of science and she simply could not exert enough leverage due to her diminutive stature to escape their grasp. "I don't need your help, old man," a drunken El-Nay shouted at the nobleman who stepped forward, attempting to get the thugs to lay off her. But when she heard who he was she suddenly stopped moving, and following a deep sigh she allowed her body to go limp in their clutches and she stopped resisting. Her grey eyes rolled downward as she avoided eye contact with the man, her head sinking so far that her chin was pressed against the armor that protected her neck. She had never met someone connected to one of her contracts before ... it was supposed to be a cold, emotionless task, with no connections and no follow-ups. She could not bring herself to speak a word in response to his query, and instead remained pathetically silent.

The guards would suddenly ease off the bounty hunter as the man began to explain himself. But once he did, any fight in the bounty hunter went away. It was already showing signs of her not wanting to have anything to do with this whole situation. The nobleman was angry and immediately sent a fist flying into El-Nay's jaw, knocking down the pixie blonde and barked at her "You think it was worth the money to send my daughter to serve such a heinous creature? I hope it feels good for you to do that. To break up a family and send a young woman to what will likely be her death. I can't even envision the things she's having to do for him, in order to stay alive. What if that was you having to serve him? I bet you wouldn't be all tough and full of drunken glee, would you?" The nobleman was beyond pissed, spitting on the slumped over El-Nay as the guards stood her up by her arms. The Count looked to her and said "Give me a reason not to kill you right here..."

"Oof," El-Nay groaned as the his connected unexpectedly, rocking her back into reality and sending a combination of spit and blood flying from her mouth. Her head began to wobble back and forth as she had become disoriented and blood began to flow steadily from the side of her mouth where she had been struck. In the back of the mind she felt she deserved it for what she had done, and said nothing as he unleashed his tirade upon her ... she felt she deserved that also. She attempted to look him in the eyes as she was stood back up, but she found it difficult to keep her chin up from all that she had been put through. "If I am to die, then allow me to do so with my buy'ce on. Do not strip me of the dignity of the Mando'ad when I meet my end," she pleaded with him, as she brought a gloved hand to her mouth in a futile attempt to wipe the blood away. She was a drunken, battered mess, and a far sight from the glorified warrior that she wished to be. Still, she hoped that she would be permitted to die on her feet, in full armor, rather than to die like a human.

The Count did not want her dead. He knew the nature of bounty hunters as there was no honor beyond money. El-Nay got up as the Count immediately sent a fist to her gut for good measure. The count grabbed her chin, forcing her head up and against the wall as he said "When you aren't a drunken mess, you are quite cute yourself. Maybe you should be the one pleasuring a Hutt, or his latest meal." Looking at the woman, completely prepared to die and threw her head back against the wall as he backed away and said "No, killing you would make you feel like a martyr. I think that I will pay you greatly to get my daughter back from the mining planet. *But*...only after she's brought back safely. And if you die, then obviously ... you get nothing." The Count was giving her a chance to redeem herself as he said "What do you know about her captivity?"

El-Nay was a strange woman, and while being struck did not phase her in the slightest, whenever someone touched her like he just did and commented on her appearance it always sickened her. She did not have much time to reflect on his comment before she was struck in the gut and her skull was thrust into the wall, causing a heavy flow of blood, saliva, and regurgitated ale to emerge unpleasantly from her mouth. She staggered, the repeatedly blows to her head, combined with the alcohol and the electrocution had made it nearly impossible for her to focus. As she listened to his proposition the idea of helping the young woman appealed to her, despite the fact that her father seemed to be very nearly equal to the monster that the Hutt was. "Cabra the Hutt has a fortified stronghold on Kessel. He has many skilled guards," she began to explain, as the pain began to radiate through her head as the alcohol began to wear off. "I-I ... I do not think I can pull it off," she admitted honestly, having only barely managed to leave unscathed during her last trip there.

The Count looked at her, puking up some of the drink she just had. Shaking his head, he continued "Look at you, throwing up all over yourself. I bet you were drinking to block the idea of selling my daughter off, a defenseless young woman who never hurt anyone. Now she's some pleasure slave to a Hutt." seeing that she was wobbly a bit and trying to deflect the rescue attempt, the Count replied "Ask me if I give a shit if he has skilled guards or a fortified stronghold. Don't you think I know he has all that in his arsenal? If you don't think you can pull it off...fine." Motioning to the guards as they pinned her up against the wall, as the Count pulled out a blaster and said "Last chance. Perhaps I ought to just stun you and make a deal with the Hutt for a trade. How about that?"

When the blaster was pulled she did something unexpected ... she flinched. El-Nay was tremendously disappointed and ashamed of that, but she still wanted to live and was justly afraid of meeting her end here and now in some back alley on Esseles. No one would remember her, and there was no honor to be had in this death ... her father would feel justified in his dismissive assessment of her, while her mother would blame herself and be devastated. "Fine. I will go," she said coldly, as her eyes looked towards the thugs who continued to roughly mistreat her. "I'll need these if I'm to have any chance," she said, with a firm nod of her head, before turning her head to look at the Count. "I-I-I didn't know," she stammered, as she verged on an apology, but was not prepared to go that far. "Why would a Hutt place a contract on someone like her in the first place?" she asked, not that it was any of her business, but it had been gnawing at her since this whole ordeal started.

Once she agreed to his offer, the Count put the gun away and the guards stopped holding onto her. He knew El-Nay was good at what she did and figured she would try and redeem herself for the act she did earlier. As to her armor and guns, the Count nodded "You may have them...and tell me what else you need, in order to provide you have enough firepower to get my daughter out of there. If you succeed in your mission, you will be paid handsomely and assure you no harm will come to you. However, you will be banned from any jobs on Brentaal in the future." The Count waved the guards off as El-Nay answered a fairly logical question as he said "Cabra used to come to Brentaal quite often for trade offers. I sat in with the Hutt and a few times, Hanna stopped in to say hello. He always commented on her beauty, and I personally think the Hutt was looking for a human bride. However, their culture doesn't know about love ... they look at women as their pets and property. I just hope it isn't too late for my Hanna..."

The moment the guards took their hands off her, she lost all support, and collapsed to the ground like a sack of potatoes. Her armor made a loud clamoring noise against the street as she lay there, helplessly, a pool of blood forming at her mouth, as she struggled to breath. She had been severely beaten and she was in no condition to do anything at the moment. She felt so weak, so helpless, and was forced to admit that her father was right. This was humiliating she thought to herself as she clawed at the filthy surface, exerting what strength she had left to try and push herself up. As she got her torso off the ground, her head hung low and suddenly her elbows buckled and she collapsed back to the ground again. "Get away from me!" she shrieked as she felt the guards approach her, and then she continued to definitely struggle to prop herself up, as she listened to him try and explain what had led to Hanna's capture. "Does ... does anyone else here have business dealings with Cabra?" she asked, as she pushed herself up and propped herself up against the wall and a refuse collector. "Maybe we can lure Cabra here for a business meeting where he won't have his full defenses and won't suspect an attack..." she plotted, her strategy much better than her skill at the moment, as she weakly brought a left hand up to the back of her head to rub at the area that he had slammed into the wall, where she felt a nice welt developing. She wondered if he hit Hanna like this, and if it might ought have been better to leave her with the Hutt.

The Count was done beating on her; now that she had agreed and knew what she did had consequences to it. The Count did not want to say, but knew of El-Nay's father and his pristine reputation. It was something he would discuss with her when the time was right. But this was all about getting his daughter back, and there was not time for small talk. But he liked the fight in El-Nay as she did not want any help in getting up and heard her question. The Count said "I believe this is all one of my Viceroy's doing. He knew that Cabra needed something big, in order not to start war with Brentaal. He also knew Cabra's obsession with Hanna and he is likely to blame. But he's..." Pausing for a moment before saying "no longer with us. But bringing Cabra here is out of the question. He wouldn't risk putting his prize in public, unless he was going to marry her to broker a deal between the worlds. And we have no clue what he has in store."

El-Nay fumbled in one of the pouches on her belt, before producing an unlit cigarra from one of them. Her hand weakly brought it to her bloodied mouth before she lit it with the lowest setting on her flame unit. Somehow the unhealthy habit always made her feel better, and she she sharply exhaled that first plume of smoke, she allowed herself to get comfortable in her grounded position and make the most of her situation. She arched her head back and closed her eyes as she tried to center herself, letting the cigarra hang from the corner of her mouth as she considered her next moves. No matter how many times she played out the scenario it always ended in defeat. Finally, she opened her eyes and tilted her head towards the Count, pulling the cigarra for her lips followed by another vibrant exhale. "You know it's very likely that I will fail, and Cabra will most likely punish your daughter, and com after you," she explained to him, honestly, as she did believe in using deceit as a tool.

"Very likely doesn't mean completely likely, now does it El-Nay? There's still a little bit of a glimmer of hope. Let him come after me ... if something happens to my Hanna ... I don't have much to live for. I will shoot that slug down and slice him up real good if he harms Hanna. But you ... you have a chance to make up for the bad deal you made. So, if you succeed ... it'll be well worth your while. If you don't ... you're just another dead bounty hunter that tried to take on a Hutt. Another statistic. You'll just be lucky you don't end up in a sarlacc pit, or beaten and raped by Cabra. So...the choice is yours." The guards walked away from El-Nay as the Count would join them as they began to walk back down the alley. The Count turned and said "Find me when you're ready to do some good in your life." With that, the Count and his guards were back to head towards a hotel where he'd be staying at until El-Nay was ready.

As the Count made his exit, El-Nay remained seating on the street, enjoying her cigarra, and not quite ready to go through with the ordeal of getting up quite yet. As she let out that final, delicious, cloud of smoke, she braced herself what was to come, as she used the refuse collector as a brace to move back onto her feet. She felt the world begin to spin as she clung to the collector for deal life, taking in deep breaths to steady herself. As she started to moved forward she felt a sickness in the pit of her gut where he had struck her, and nearly instant later she vomited up most of what she had drank that night, along with a healthy dose of blood. "Ugh. Fuck!" she groaned, as she placed both of her hands upon her knees to brace herself, as she took several moments to compose herself. She was an absolute mess, and if anyone she knew saw her she would be ashamed of herself. Eventually she bought her arm up to wipe her mouth, and then proceeded back into the cantina to retrieve her helmet. As she entered those who had seen her previously let out a mock cheer as they caught a glimpse of her, laughing as she stood before them. She growled angrily at them, and was tempted to start blasting, if not for the strong Imperial presence. She lunged for her helmet, grabbing it, and placing it squarely upon her battered visage. The moment it was securely upon her, she immediately regained her courage, and it felt as if it had added two feet to her stature. Moving swiftly, or as swiftly as she was capable given her current situation, she exited the cantina and proceeded towards somewhere she could get a much needed shower. She would need it, and more cigarras and coffeine, to rebuild her composure before facing the Count again.

The door to Count Ardent's hotel room was thrust open suddenly as the orange beskar'gam-clad vixen El-Nay Darr made a grand entrance, having managed to sober up, treat her wounds, and perhaps most importantly take a shower and clean her armor. Part of her wanted revenge for what had transpired, and she had considered blasting away and killing the thugs who had tormented her and the foolish Count who had dared to assault her, but there was the small matter of her conscious and the unresolved matter of his daughter that prevented her from doing just that. She would present far different body language from her last meeting with the Count, not just because she had sobered up, but because the appearance of the helmet upon her head had given her a confidence that evaporated the moment she took it off. "I am here," she announced through the helmet's comm system, sounding decidedly confident, as she marched forward, her boots making a loud noise echo throughout the room from the force of her footsteps. "Let's get to work," she demanded, as if to take charge, as she narrowed her gaze at each of the thugs in the room, before focusing on the count. All they would see in return was her orange buy'ce and the distinct T-shaped visor of the Mandalorians, which made her feel safe.

Count Ardent and his thug guards had arrived back at the hotel and his offer to El-Nay still stood. If she did not accept, the Count was planning on many different ideas to end the bounty hunter. She was his key to getting his daughter back. As she stormed through the doors, the Count turned to see who was at the door and was pleased to see El-Nay come in and formally accept his offer to get Hanna back. The Count was seated at a plush leather couch in the hotel room, and motioned to the couch across from and said "Have a seat Miss Darr...yes, I have heard of your father and his accolades. I dont know if he'd be pleased of your current line of work, but you are here to help and I wish to discuss things with you before you go to the mining planet. Do you want anything to drink?" That was said with a bit of a smirk, knowing how drunk she was earlier and seeing if she refrained.

"I prefer to stand," El-Nay replied coldly, as she moved to position herself in front of the Count. By remaining standing this gave her a greater height than the man, which she would forfeit if she chose to sat down. She cringed the moment her father was mentioned, as she constantly struggled with their complex relationship, and the two decade long career as a mercenary cast a shadow over her that she feared she might not escape. In fact, during some of her first missions she had been let go, as her clients had incorrectly thought they had hired her father, rather than her. While they would not be able to see her face, her hands visibly clenched into fists, as she subconsciously reacted to hearing yet another story of her father. While the mention of a drink made her mouth seem excessively dry, she nevertheless restrained herself from accepting the drink, with a dismissive flourish of her hand. "No drinks, Milord," she said, condescendingly, as she waited for him to get down to business. "Every moment we waste prolongs your daughter's ordeal," she pointed out, in hopes of making him uncomfortable, and regaining the advantage in this meeting.

The Count did not harp anymore on the relationship between El-Nay and her father, knowing it would just open up old wounds. El-Nay was good at what she did, but it had caused a bit of a stir within her family. However, they need to strategize on getting Hanna back as he asked El-Nay "Tell me about the fortress that Hanna is in right now. What sort of firepower and numbers of guards will you have to fight through? I am contemplating sending these guards and a few others to help you in this matter. The thought of my daughter being a toy for that disgusting slug sickens me. I have heard stories that he has eaten slaves full, and I want Hanna back before that happens. What do you need to make sure you can escape from the fortress with Hanna in tow?"

"The spice mines of Kessel are a torture that only few have escaped," El-Nay said matter-of-factly, as she began to lay out what she had learned of Cabra the Hutt and his reach. "It is one of the Empire's most feared prisons, and for Cabra to be operating there I assume he has paid for Imperial support," she explained, nodding her head in affirmation, before turning her back to the Count and walking to examine some of his thugs more closely. "Cabra possesses a small army of guards, but given his harsh reputation as an employer it's possible some of them may not be entirely loyal. But, we cannot count on that," she explained, before turning to face the count again. "These men will be of some use, but I doubt they are the equal of Cabra's men," she informed him bluntly, placing her hands on both of her hips. "Have you exhausted all options? Perhaps ... perhaps you could purchase her back?" she asked, tilting her head to the right as she studied the man more closely.

The Count glanced at El-Nay, in which what she was saying made sense. Kessel was known for its Imperial ties to it. But the Empire would turn on a Hutt at any chance they got, so maybe they had a chance. But El-Nay started examining his guards as she started to suggest buying his own daughter back; an notion that made him want to puke. He shook his head, saying "He'd never agree to it. The only way I get Hanna back is to see Cabra dead. "

It was then that a video message was sent to the hotel where the Count was at. It was Cabra, who looked alone for the moment as he bellowed on the message "Count Ardent...I take it you know your daughter is safely in my hands...and serving my every need. And I mean every need..."

Hanna was kept off camera, to let the Count steam a bit as the Count said "Listen here slug, if you harm her ... I'll make sure your depleting species will be one fewer. Mark my word..."

El-Nay found it difficult to speak after listening to the message from the disgusting Hutt, and she turned her head so that she could avoid looking at it directly. She had not signed up to kill a Hutt, as she knew it would mark her for the rest of her life ... no Hutt would ever issue her a contract again, and it is very likely she would be hunted by herself. Rather than interject when the Count was infuriated she elected to remain silent, as she had done when her own father had become enraged in her youth. She realized that there was no other way than a direct assault on Cabra's palace, but she did not know if it could succeed. But there was seemingly no choice remaining on her part, and she became focused on how best to mentally prepare for the task at hand. She knew her father might be able to pull something like this off, but he had not trained her, and she regretted that fact bitterly more than ever.

The Hutt continued to taunt the Count, as he dragged Hanna into the picture. She looked to be topless, but the Count could only see the rise of her breasts as she was dragged into the picture by her leash as he proclaimed "Your lovely daughter will become Hutt she will become my Queen and will birth one of my children. We are ensuring that happens very soon."

That just pissed the Count off more. he knew there was no way a Hutt could impregnate a human woman, but the way he was tormenting the Baroness as the Count said "I will live to see the day where myself or someone I know puts a blaster ray between your eyes before that happens." The transmission cut as the Count looked to El-Nay as he said "Anything you need, just eradicate that fucking slug off the face of any planet. You saw the way he treated my daughter like his plaything. Has her topless for his henchmen. If you don't kill him, I'll spend every last breath doing it. But if you do it, I'll make you a very rich woman. And not spend the rest of your life on another one of his leashes."

"I will do everything within my means to retrieve your daughter, Count Ardent," El-Nay said, but was clearly holding back, as the very thought of killing a Hutt filled her with dread. "But I cannot kill a Hutt. To do so would mark me for the rest of my life as an enemy of the Hutts. I would be unable to work, and it is very likely they would hunt me down and destroy me," she explained to him, as she took several steps towards the count to emphasize her points. "I understand you are enraged, but this is not the way," she said, until she was standing directly in front of him, with her helmet at the level of his chest. "I will depart presently with these men you have gathered here. Though I cannot promise I shall return them all in the same condition that they leave you," she said with a soft laugh beneath her breath, knowing full well this likely could be a suicide mission.

The Count was not loving what El-Nay was saying. He could understand that it would taint her in the eyes of the bounty hunting community, but he wanted his daughter back. The man, who was clearly enraged and not thrilled with El-Nay would say "Make the focus on getting Hanna out of there...if you do that ... I will still pay you well and you can work for me for the rest of your days. The Hutts are a dying species and will be hunted down until every last one of them is dead. But if killing Cabra is not possible, get my daughter out of there. These men besides you will fight and die for Hanna's honor." The Count stood up to face El-Nay, patting the top of her shoulder and said "I wish you the best of luck. Hanna is all I have...please bring her back safely."

El-Nay was not big on pep talks or goodbyes, so rather than saying anything in this moment, all she could manage was to shrug his hand from her shoulder and a firm nod of her head to make it clear that she understood. An instant later, she pivoted on the heels of her feet, and turned her back to him, and began moving swiftly from his presence. As she neared the exit she snapped her fingers with her left hand, commanding the guards who were there to follow her. Perhaps she could make sure of them as human shields, she thought to herself, if they were even able to accomplish that much. An operation such as this required time for preparation and planning, but all they had available to them was the time they would have in hyperspace between Esseles and Kessel. If she were to die on this mission, at least she knew it was something she believed in, and not simply the credits.

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