Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Sean Brandt and Christopher Levy.
Zero years after the Battle of Yavin (35:9:5) in the Essesia system: Esseles (The Void).
Captain Serra Eona and Major Kerrie Kiley.

Kerrie Kiley lay on a table deep within The Void ... a complex developed in secret conjointly by Imperial Intelligence and the Black Sun in the mountains of Esseles' northernmost continent. She had been brought here while unconscious, having been shot by the Mandalorian El-Nay Darr and left for dead. She did not what this facility was or why they had brought her here, but she noticed that her blaster wound had been treated. She had been stripped of her armor and wore only minimal garments that concealed the more sensitive regions of her body. It was only when she attempted to move that she noticed she was restrained. "Ungh," she groaned in frustration, failing to move even the slightest bit off the table. "Where am I?" she snarled, still in her natural Clawdite appearance, consisting of a hideous green reptilian skin and yellow eyes.

"Nowhere in particular." Major Kiley's memories, if she had any at all of her treatment, would no doubt be of a room and setting very much like any other medical ward. Bright lights, medical droids, all seemed standard per the Imperial Military, but that wasn't the case now. The room was dark, with just enough light to make a handful of other beds visible, all of which were currently empty. Kiley might have easily thought herself alone, right up until those words were spoken, cold and devoid of feeling. A waff of grey smoke poured out from the darkness to her side, and with a few steps of boots on durasteel flooring the shadowed face of Captain Serra Eona became visible. The Intel Officer was dressed in her usual uniform, the black doing little to help define her from the background from which she had emerged. A gloved hand lifted her cigarra for a fresh inhale, and she took her time, letting the smoke pour free before she spoke again. "A holding facility, operated by Imperial Intelligence. That's all you need to know."

Kerrie remembered the voice that spoke from the shadows ... their past encounters had been anything but pleasant. "I order you to release me," she said, in a commanding voice, as she struggled unsuccessfully to lift her head to look at her. "You don't have the authority to hold me, Captain. I answer to the Grand Moff ... *only* the Grand Moff," she added for emphasis, before allowing her head to fall back against the table. No amount of struggling would free her and she was smart enough to know that she should save her energy.

A joyless smile crossed her lips at Kerrie's words. The Major evidently didn't even know what sort of trouble she was in, considering how eagerly she claimed her loyalty to the Grand Moff. Just as well, of course. It made Serra's job that much easier. "Perhaps your kind are not as well schooled during training as core world Imperials, so allow me to enlighten you. The loyalty of every Imperial citizen and soldier is to the Empire. Only to the Empire. Do you disagree?" Stated as a simple question. She was curious to see what the Major would choose to do when faced with it.

Serra's xenophobic statement reinforced her desire to present herself as human during the course of her duties. Her yellow eyes close and she tried to change form into the more pleasant human appearance, but the pain wa such that she could not concentrate and quickly gave up her attempt. "I'll remind you that I outrank you, Captain," she said, reiterating her attempt to order herself out of the restraints. "I am loyal to the Empire," she muttered, turning her head from side to side as she tried to peer through the darkness at her surroundings, but she was unable to glean any details.

The darkness, of course, was intentional. Every little touch to make the subject feel that much more uncomfortable, that much less in control of their surroundings. Serra inhaled from the cigarra once more, then carried on. "Your rank is irrelevant here, Major Kiley." She shifted slightly, moving around to the side of the bed, allowing Kerrie to see her. Eyes locked on Kerrie's own, following them whether or not they stayed on her as well. "Why was your shuttle on Esseles, Major?" Time to go through a few simple questions. Ones she assumed there would be dishonest answers to, but that was fine. It was less about the invented excuses and more about reading through and between them for the answers she was after.

"I tracked a friend of mine who I was concerned about to the planet," Kerrie replied, as she attempted to reveal as little information as possible. "I am granted clearance to transit between the Warspite and the surface of Esseles as part of my duties, Captain. Not that I have to answer to you," she explained, with an added content at the end. Her hands began to clench into a fist as she channeled her anger and frustration into the palms of her hands.

Serra simply stared as Kerrie spoke, though a single brow lifted slightly at the assertion that she didn't have to answer. "You're correct, Major Kiley. None of us really have to do anything, of course. We can always decide to take a different path, to choose the road less traveled. However..." She took another drag from the cigarra and, as she released the smoke, the burning embers on the end of the nearly gone stick was snuffed on Kerrie's hand in the soft flesh where thumb joined to forefinger. " path is often in our own best interest, whereas the other only leads to unnecessary suffering." She flicked the extinguished cigarra away, hand dropping back to her side. "What was the name of your friend, Major Kiley?"

Kerrie let out a scream as the cigarra connected with her hand. It bothered her to share her pain with one she detested, but in her weakened state she could not suppress it. She attempted to recoil her hand, but no matter how much force she exerted it would not move. "El-Nay. El-Nay Darr," she said, angrily, deciding it was best to submit to the questioning and then take revenge once she had been released.

Well well. The young Mandalorian, the one she had written off so easily as being an inept and overly green bounty hunter. While certain aspects of that might be true, this El-Nay Darr was finding herself involved far too deeply to be entirely disregarded. "Did you have other friends on Esseles at the time of your visit? Anyone else of interest that you were aware of or concerned for?" Most of what had been found in the assault was in the field reports, things she was already aware of. Intel had acted as rapidly as they could, securing the Major and transporting her to The Void before she had much of a chance to learn of anything. Great effort had been made to ensure she wasn't exposed to anyone they didn't want, but there was always some off chance that something here or there had been noticed.

"No other friends. I don't have many friends, Captain," Kerrie replied coldly, as she reflected on the events of the past week and what had led to this. Maybe it was a mistake to get involved ... maybe it was a mistake to help El-Nay, but if she had to do it all over again she still would have stood by her. "I was concerned that she was involved with the wrong people," she explained, telling somewhat the truth. "And it turns out I was right," she concluded, before looking down over her body at the wound. She then rolled her eyes back up at Captain Eona, wondering how much further this would go.

If only the Major knew. It was a funny thing, the way people responded to being held by Intel. Almost no one ever told a first hand account of what it was like, so rumors often ran wild among the Empire and every else. Some were terrified right from the beginning, certain that a miserable death was all they could expect at the end. Others, some like Kerrie, always seemed to go with a certain confidence that their prior service and rank would protect them. A sense that powerful friends could shield them from the worst of it. Serra smiled again. It was brief, and gone almost as quick as it had come. "How did you come to be wounded, Major?"

"I attempted to stop El-Nay from leaving Esseles with another individual. She would not listen to reason and I got shot for my efforts," Kerrie said to the Captain, resenting the ordeal she was being put through. "What business of this is yours anyway?" she asked, again, realizing that she was likely to get no more of a satisfactory answer than before. "Is that all?" she asked finally, the pain beginning to return to her wound as the medication began to wear off. A soft groan escaped her lips as the pain began to radiate throughout her stomach and beyond.

"I am an agent of the Bureau, Major. Everything involving the security and safety of the Empire is my business." She could let a little bit go when it came to answers, but still very little that was of any use. "What other individual was El-Nay attempting to leave with?" The second question would no doubt provide an answer to the Major's own. A hand slipped into her pocket, a discrete motion that would seem innocent enough. Concealed there was a small transmitter, which, when activated, would cue an interrogation droid to make its way to this recovery ward. She pressed the button, then retrieved a fresh cigarra and lit it.

"I do not know," Kerrie said angrily as she looked up towards the Captain. She knew that after what he had done he would be the focus of the Empire's interests, but in order to protect El-Nay she knew she had to keep quiet. "Some bounty hunter. She never had particularly good taste in men," she commented, the last part being the truth. She closed her eyes and began to regulate the breathing as she had the familiar, ominous sound of the IT-O droid moving towards their vicinity. She had heard that sound too many times before and knew what it foretold.

Serra spent a moment studying Kerrie's face, watching how she reacted as she talked...and the shift in her demeanor as the sound of the droid came within range. Despite their rarity, the IT-O had a reputation known across the galaxy. Even Intel had them in somewhat limited supply, but the Void was well equipped with several. Given her own record, Serra Eona had little trouble acquiring one for this particular work. "Considering your rank and status, Major, I assume you're familiar with the IT-O interrogation droid." Her words ended just as the droid hovered into the room, drawing closer to the bed. It came to hover opposite where Serra stood, quite deliberately in view. "I also assume you're familiar with their standard operating procedure. The first injection is relatively harmless itself. It simply dulls the body's resistance to pain for a short while. A day or so." The droid set about administering the injection as Serra took a drag from her fresh cigarra. "Usually this is followed by some kind of truth serum, as well as various forms of torture. Are you familiar with the drug OV600?"

The injection was relatively painless and as the chemical flowed through her body she felt herself becoming somewhat tingly, and then comfortably numb. "You don't have to do this. I've told you everything," she said bitterly, before turning her head to the side to avoid looking at either the droid of the captain. She knew what the drug was and she knew what it would do to her ... and that frightened her as she knew what it meant for El-Nay. She closed her yellow eyes tightly, breathing slowly, as she prepared for what was to come. There was nothing she could say to dissuade the captain from her plans, so she decided to simply stop speaking.

"I assume from your failure to answer that you are. Generally OV600 is used as a truth serum of sorts, but this particular droid is carrying a modified version of the drug, OV602. The chemical responders that detect the physical signs of lying have been removed, or rather changed to simply remain active so long as they are not fed a separate, neutralizing drug. To put it suffer regardless of what you say, until a second injection is administered. It gives the interrogator greater control against more difficult subjects." The droid shifted, presenting a fresh, longer needle. In a few seconds the point was pushing through Kerrie's flesh. "You haven't told me everything, Major Kiley. You did, however, tell me quite a bit more than you think. You are not a loyal subject of the Empire." The droid fed the injection as Serra took another long drag from the cigarra, exhaling as she spoke. "You are loyal to the Grand Moff and his family. The more you're able to elaborate on this, Major Kiley, the less suffering you will have to endure." Captain Serra Eona truly hoped that Kerrie would resist, would try to suffer through the pain and struggle. This was her favorite part, after all, and it only got better the longer it lasted.

As the needle approached her, Kerrie cringed and let out a soft groan of desperation as the OV602 was pumped into her body. She tried to resist the drug, panting like a beast of burden, as she attempted to overcome it. She was not strong enough ... perhaps no one was ... and she flung her head to the other side so she could look at the Captain again. "Why ... who ordered this?" she asked, weakly, her body beginning to radiate with small amounts of pain. "It is my duty to serve the Grand Moff and his family," she said truthfully, doing her best to keep her suffering to a minimum.

Much like its parent drug, OV602 was a gradual build up. The pain would start dull, increasing into a flaming sensation just beneath the skin. "Do you serve the Grand Moff and his family well, Major Kiley?" She pointedly ignored the question Kerrie asked. She had no intention of giving the Major any sense of control. As the drug took hold and the pain increased, hives would begin to appear, breaking out in a burning rash on the victim's skin. With the reptilian hide that covered the Major, Serra was rather excited to see just how this would form on her.

"Yes. I serve the Grand Moff and his family to the best of my abilities," Kerrie said, speaking the truth from her point of view. As the pain increased so did her heart rate and her breathing. Her skin was beginning to show the basic signs of irritation. "What ... what did you put in me?" she asked, her head falling back against the table, as she looked helplessly up at the table. She was beginning to wonder if she would make it through this, clenching her hands into the tightest possible fists in a desperate attempt to channel the pain elsewhere.

"Nothing I can't undo, once I'm satisfied. Of course, if I never choose to give you the second injection, it will eventually kill you. We have several hours before that occurs, however." Which meant hours of greater and greater suffering, which was the precise implication she intended. "Have you served the family of the Grand Moff with the same loyalty as the Moff himself? Name his family, Major Kiley."

Kerrie unleashed a groan of pain as the pain began to increase, causing waves of discomfort to flow through her petite body. "Yes. I serve them loyally..." she began, swallowing slightly to water her mouth as she struggled against the hurtful sensations. "There are his daughters Jelena and Drusilla. His adopted daughter Ewwiekewwieikkie. And his wife Htaere," she said, and as she spoke the last word she began breathing heavily, her eyes remaining tightly closed as she attempted to focus herself ... unsuccessfully.

It was a slow build, but inevitable. Serra's eyes finally moved from Kerrie's face, drifting to her exposed arms and torso, watching with some level of fascination as the tissue began to blister ever so slightly. The way it shifted and pushed and split the scales was incredible. Still, her attention didn't hold there long. Fairly soon they were right back on Kerrie's face. "How would you describe your feelings for Jelena, Major Kiley?" Time to get down to the real questions.

"She tried to kill me!" Kerrie said angrily, as the pain began to increase to the point where it was becoming unbearable. "I pity her. She has been manipulated and controlled by Rebel agents who preyed upon her youth and naivety," she answered, with what she believed was the truth. "Is this what you wanted to ask about? You didn't ... you didn't need to drug me for this," she said, again speaking the truth. It was beginning to feel like her entire body was on fire and there was nothing she could do about it.

Jelena wasn't the main focus, of course, but it was certainly an important point to touch on. The pain on Kerrie's features was obvious and satisfying, showing that the drug was working just as intended. Pity implied care, something Serra took mental note of as she moved on. "The Grand Moff had a traitor under his roof, living in his home, exposed to Imperial secrets and insight that could be detrimental to our operations under his control. Why would the Grand Moff be comfortable harboring a traitor?" She knew she was speaking well outside of any facts. She simply wanted to get to Kerrie, to grate on her mind and manipulate the mind while the drugs did their work on the body.

"The Grand Moff had no reason to suspect Jelena was a traitor," Kerrie said, speaking the truth, but what she did not reveal was that it was because she had helped Jelena cover her tracks to as part of a perverted way of keeping her safe. "To this day he believes her to be under the control of the Rebels and acting against her will," she said, writhing in pain, as the burning began to grow. "Please ... the second shot," she begged, like a helpless animal ... which is what she was at this moment.

There it was. The first plea, the first cry for help. For now Serra ignored it, moving on with her questioning. It was going well, all things considered. "So the Grand Moff is incapable of detecting traitorous thoughts and tendencies within those closest to him, then. I would assume deception, but you said yourself that Jelena is young and naive. Certainly she couldn't fool him herself, unless the Grand Moff is ignorant, or a fool. Or his daughter had assistance from someone else." She took a deep drag from the cigarra, finishing it off. This time she brought the burning embers to Kerrie's stomach, snuffing it out on a growing blister, popping it with the heat of the extinguished cigarra.

Kerrie let out a scream from deep inside her as she burned her yet again, close to where she had been shot the previous day. The tears began to flow from her yellow eyes, staining her green skin as she began to sob uncontrollably from the overwhelming pain. "A father can never see their daughter for what they truly are..." she said, speaking more of herself than Jelena. She would say nothing more, despite the uncontrollable pain that was threatening to break her in half.

"You exist to serve the Grand Moff, to protect him and his family. You claim you did this to the best of your abilities. If that is so, then why were you unaware of the traitor, Major Kiley? Surely you should have noticed something...should have discovered some evidence. Were you so incapable that you failed to recognize the signs of betrayal in a daughter you still care so much for that you pity her?" Now was the time to push, the time to seek out the answers she was looking for, the answers she believed to be there.

Kerrie lay there silently, her head moving to the left and then back to the right repeatedly, thrashing about in a pathetic display. "It was my discovery of her that led to her shooting me," she said, telling a half-truth, as in reality she had discovered it months earlier and concealed it every step of the way. "It's all in my report. Please ... the second shot..." she again begged, her hands outstretching, as her fingers spread apart, clawing at the table in hopeless desperation.

"I have read your report, Major." Her voice was, as always, cold and calm, unwavering in its nature. Much like the droids were programmed to be monotone and cruel, so too had she been taught, and it had become the common nature of her speech ever since. "Someone aided Jelena, Major Kiley. Someone has been doing so for some time, and still is. Someone is protecting her...attempting to cover her tracks. Working with the hunters who whisked her out of Imperial hands. I believe you have some insight into who that person might be, and until you prove to be more cooperative, you will suffer. Fail to cooperate long enough, and the drug will kill you. If you die, then I'll find someone else, and do the same to them until they reveal what we're after. Perhaps Drusilla will prove more enlightening. Or Ewwiekewwieikkie. Perhaps El-Nay." Serra gave a soft shrug, letting the list of names settle in.

"Leave the children alone!" a defiant Kerrie yelled from the table in one, final act of desperation. "They have no part in this," she said, speaking the truth, as she knew Drusilla was too self involved and Ewwiekewwieikkie too unintelligent to understand what Jelena had done. "There was no choice," she finally admitted, as her body began to go limp on the table, her breath slowing as she neared the end. "Everything I did was in line with my duties," she said, again telling the truth in line with her point of view. The sores that had formed on her body began to erupt, causing an oozing pus to run over her skin and down onto the table. It was the most grievous pain she had ever before experienced.

There it was. It had taken working a few different angles and a bit more time than expected, but the confession was there. Kerrie had proved more resilient than Serra had anticipated, but she was far from disappointed. The Captain took a moment to watch as the sores and pustules ruptured, as the drug came to life on the flesh of the Major. It was a truly beautiful sight to behold, made all the more captivating by the strange skin of the alien. Finally she gave a nod to the droid, which shifted to administer the second shot. "Thank you, Major Kiley." She gave the drug a few moments to settle in. While the counter serum to OV602 would take a while to fully work, the pain would begin to dull slightly within a few minutes. As she waited she drew her DL-18 blaster pistol from its concealed holster, swapping out the power cell for a different one.

Just the realization that the drug had entered her system was enough to calm her, causing her breathing to slowly normalize. Her eyes opened slowly and she turned her head towards the Captain. She looked up at her with the green skin of her face all torn up from the effects of the drug in the hopes that her ordeal was over. "Will ... will you release me now?" she asked exhaustedly, barely able to keep her eyes open. The pain was slowly beginning to subside as the drug coursed through her veins, but the lasting impact of today would be with her for quite sometime. She wondered where the Empire found people to do such evil, she wondered, as she allowed her head to fall back down and her yellow eyes to close.

Seating the power cell in the pistol, she checked the small readout. Satisfied, she lifted her eyes to Kerrie. "Now you have a choice, Major Kiley." The droid, its work done, headed out of the room. Serra moved as well, coming to one of the other tables where she would be in easy view of Kerrie, a light shining directly down on the table by which she stood. "You can remain in our custody. Reveal everything and perhaps, in time, work to regain your standing. You will work for us, report to us...everything you do will truly be in the name of the Empire. If you refuse to cooperate, then there will be a tribunal. It will not go well for you." She turned the DL-18 over in her hands, looking over the pistol. "You are a Major in the Imperial Military, however, and as such, are permitted certain courtesies. If you do not find either of the previous two options desirable, you have a third." She placed the pistol on the empty table. "It has enough power for a single shot. When I leave this room, your restraints will be removed. You will not be able to leave this room until morning. If you are alive, you will either be our newest asset, or our prisoner. If you are not...then you will be buried in accordance with your rank and standing. Goodnight, Major Kiley." With that she turned, lighting another cigarra as she walked away. The glow of the ember and a trail of a smoke was all that followed her movements as Captain Serra Eona left the room.

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