Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Liz Dorner and Christopher Levy.
Zero years after the Battle of Yavin (35:8:32) in the Essesia system: Esseles (New Calamar: Claudius Rodney's estate) and Sonthi and in the Rhinnal system: Rhinnal (Rhire: Marketplace) and Sonthi.
Major Kerrie Kiley, Parka Pepper, Countess Htaere Rodney, and Lady Jelena Rodney.

Major Kerrie Kiley emerged from the Rodney estate on Esseles pushing a repulsorsled that contained two large crates. She nodded her head to the Stormtroopers on patrol outside of the structure, and moved past them slowly, as to not draw any attention. Although she outranked them, she simply did not have the authority to order the security patrols to stand down without drawing the unwanted attention of the Grand Moff. As she reached her shuttle, the Sonthi, she pushed the sled up into the rear cargo compartment of the craft, and pressed the control to close the ramp behind her. Once it had been sealed, she quickly moved to one of the creates, and opened it. "Are you all right, Milady," she asked apprehensively, as she peered down into the crate at Htaere, whom she had hidden inside.

The first thing visible was Htaere's stormy grey eyes, the inverted jade green triangles beneath those eyes and the soft glow of the rainbow gem in her forehead. Climbing out of the crate revealed Htaere in a pair of slim fitting slacks tucked into boots, and long sleeved top. It was the first time she'd ever worn pants, or any kind of clothing like this at all. It was out of place on the usually adorned Hapan. Htaere fixed Kerrie with a long somber stare. "Kerrie, I really think you should stay behind," she spoke quietly. "I have already asked you to undertake a risky action on my behalf. I cannot allow any harm to come to you, or your career beyond that."

"My duty is to protect you, Milady. Go where you go," Kerrie explained to her, as she reached into the crate help her as she climbed. "You should stay out of sight until we reach the atmosphere," she instructed, before moving forward into the cockpit, and strapping herself into the pilot's sleep. "I promise a much smoother flight than Captain Trainor," she said with a laugh, as her hands moved above her to toggle the switches that would begin powering up the shuttle. Moments later she was able to ease back on the flight stick, gingerly lifting the shuttle off the landing platform, and preceeding into the upper atmosphere. "Okay. It's safe now, Milady," she said, turning her head to look back into the passenger compartment, before focusing on the flight. The wings of the shuttle slowly descended into their flight position, allowing the craft to increase speed.

Joining Kerrie in the cockpit, Htaere buckled in before her eyes became fixed beyond the viewports. "We are leaving Esseles..." she commented absently mostly to herself. "She is not on Esseles..." a dawning came over her, looking to Kerrie. "Jelena is not here, as Claudius suspected. There is no reason to have this planet under embargo."

Gradually the blue sky of Esseles faded into blackness as they transitioned from the upper atmosphere into the Essesia system, where the litany of Imperial warships was on a constant state of alert. "No. She is not on Esseles," Kerrie revealed to Htaere, before transmitting her clearance code to the oncoming flight of TIE fighters in order to prevent them being stopped. "But, I can't exactly tell the Grand Moff how I came by this information," she said, turning her head to look at Htaere, offering a slight look of consternation. As they cleared the TIE fighters and the picket ships, she moved her hand forward on the controls, which sent the Sonthi surging forward into hyperspace.

Htaere chided Kerrie with a look of her own. "You will not have to," she said. "The point of this is simply to find out if Jelena is well. That is all I intend to report back to Claudius to offer him a peace of mind. I am not a spy for the Empire. I suspect he will not be content with my unwillingness to share anything else, even if it is information I do not possess. I shall deal with that as it arises."

When Kerrie heard what Htaere's plan was she froze, and her hands moved from the control of the shuttle, before turning to look at the Hapan. "Milady, you cannot tell the Grand Moff that you have news about his daughter..." she said, awkwardly, as she imagined his reaction at such a thing. She had bore firsthand witness to the man's temper on more than one occasion, and in his current mental state she feared for Htaere's wellbeing if he found out.

Htaere rubbed at her hands as if applying lotion, turning them over and studying them. She didn't bother to look up. "I do not fear him as you do," she answered simply. "I cannot mend what has happened. I only wish to belay his fears that she is deceased or injured or whatever else he believes. I cannot withhold from him what I do not know." She lifted her eyes and settled into the chair. "The truth is, neither of us know where she is staying, or what she is actually doing. Nor do we need to inquire. Nor should we."

"And how will you tell him you came by this information, Milady?" Kerrie asked, pushing back more than she normally did with Htaere, out of strong desire to protect her from the Grand Moff's potential wrath. "Perhaps ... perhaps we can use this an opportunity to recover her," she suggested, as that might be the only way to resolve this situation to the governor's satisfaction.

"I have already devised an explanation my dear Kerrie," Htaere lifted a finger, having spent a great deal of time on this. "The best answer is really the truth. I asked you to assist me with a lead on the Hapan rebel. We were able to arrange this meeting. You *did* destroy all of the comms she gave you, yes?" Htaere's brow arched towards Kerrie. "We must eliminate any opportunity for them to explore the same leads and opportunities."

"Yes, Milady. I destroyed everything as instructed," Kerrie assured her, as the navigation computer began to beep indicating they were nearing their destination. Becoming more alert, she shifted back in her chair to watch the viewport as the Sonthi eased out of hyperspace. In the distance was the planet Rhinnal, which was not too far from Esseles, as they were both in the Darpa sector. "I hope you know what you're doing..." she said softly, as she began her approach towards the planet.

"So do I," Htaere agreed quietly.

The distinct black and grey flecked eyes of Parka Pepper flickered around every so often while waiting. Towards the edges and suburbs of Rhire, she leaned against the wall outside of an unassuming fruit stand, looking unamused. Every so often, the near-invisible ear piece she wore chimed to life. "Anything yet? All clear on the scanners." And routinely Parka would reply. "Nothing yet." The rebel cell watching her every move and connected via comm lay hidden, somewhere. As usual, they had several scanners to actively search for electromagnetic fields and signatures used by the Empire, and scramblers in operation to muck up any attempts at tracking frequencies or locations.

Jelena Rodney did not what to expect. She had debated whether or not to come the entire evening. In the end she decided to come just to get out of the safehouse. She stood several blocks away in the company of her bodyguard, wearing both a poncho and a cap to conceal her identity. There was an uncomfortable sensation deep in her stomach, as she occasionally looked over towards Parka's location. She had been instructed to act natural and not to stare, so she did her best to focus on eating a bowl of street noodles, but stare she did.

Kerrie approached Parka's location, but only after having changed into her Mabari armor, which she had concealed in the second of two crates she had smuggled aboard the shuttle. The only weapon she had with her was her blaster pistol, but in the back of her mind she wondered if she should have brought a heavier weapon, such as a rifle. "It is not further, Milady," she whispered quietly to Htaere, who was walking with her through the capital city's marketplace. When she spotted Parka she stopped dead in her tracks, and raised a gloved finger towards her. "Remember what I told you," she warned Parka, referring to what she had said at their last meeting in regards to what would happen if Htaere was harmed.

"I remember," Parka mumbled without looking at them. "But you came to *my* fruit stand, remember?" Her light smirk appeared over Kerrie before shifting over to Rodney's Hapan wife. Her smile flatlined a little as she noted the woman to be wearing street clothes, nothing like her usual high couture gowns an jewelry and pristine appearance. "Well, Htaere Ka`a Sha`ar of the ruling house of Gallinore and aaaaall the rainbow gems in look...different. It suits you."

Htaere barely reacted. "It is...taking some getting used to," she relented. "I know you as well, 'Parka'," she continued. "You and your sisters, you are members of the royal family, the T-."

Parka held up hand and stopped Htaere dead in her verbal tracks. "Don't say it. I shed that identify like a skin a long time ago." She adjusted herself against the wall. "What is it that I can do for you? Are you considering joining the rebellion as well?"

"No," Htaere shook her head. "My presence here is a personal one. I thought you might perhaps be able to find out if Jelena Rodney is alive or dead, if she made it to the rebellion. Have you heard anything per chance?"

While the two Hapans discussed personal subjects that Kerrie could not possibly understand, she slipped past them towards the fruit stand. All the while she was looking about, wondering if this was a plot to capture Htaere. She reached into one of the bins and picked up a piece of fruit, tossing the vendor a credit. She took a healthy bite from the fruit, producing an obnoxiously loud sound as she did so. She had learned neither table manners, nor grace, in her galactic travels.

"*That* is why you came here? To ask if Jelena has any scraped knees that need bandaging?" Parka exclaimed in disbelief.

"Do not mock me," Htaere warned icily. The retort was so cold and out of character that Parka froze in response, mouth dropping open as if she had been slapped in the face.

"I wouldn't dream of it," Parka spoke after recovering. Htaere..." she whispered. "You've come home...with a vengeance."

"Can you help me or not?" Htaere was not as entertained with all of this as Parka seemed to be.

Reeling it in, Parka collected herself. "Jelena is very much alive and well. She is..."

This time, it was Htaere's turn to cut Parka off in mid-sentence. "Please do not!" she blurted before readopting her calmer demeanor. "Do not tell me where she has been, where she is going, or what she is doing. It is better that I do not know. I only wished to know if she is safe and unharmed. And happy."

When the two ladies started to discuss the whereabouts of Jelena, Kerrie's ears began to perk up, and she turned her head to listen intently. When Htaere told her not to reveal anything, she grit her teeth, and thrust her arms downward in frustration, as she was losing any hope at recovering the misguided youngster. She did not speak, nor did she try to interject herself, into what was clearly a personal, and an emotional confrontation between two beings from a culture that was beyond her understanding.

"Might you be able to pass on a message to her?" Htaere asked optimistically.

"I'll do my best," Parka nodded.

Htaere produced a disk, extending it to Parka. "I have recorded a message for her. Please see she gets it."

Parka's eyes studied the disk before lifting back up to Htaere. She seemed a different person. Then again, war changes everyone. "I will," she nodded in finality.

"Kerrie," Htaere called lightly to her trusty companion.

"Yes, Milady," Kerrie said, obediently, as she moved from the business of the fruit stand, and took up position next to her Hapan protectee. Her eyes moved towards Parka for a moment, before focusing on Htaere. She had not been told there was going to be a message relayed to Jelena, but had she known she likely would have attempted to place a tracker on it ... another missed opportunity.

Htaere had never been so happy to strap herself into the copilot's chair in the cockpit of Kerrie's shuttle to head home. She was quiet and contemplative for a few moments. "This sneaking around is tough business. I feel exhausted," she remarked, perhaps to herself mostly. "I never looked so forward to returning to the estate as I do now."

"Did you get what you came for, Milady?" Kerrie asked, as she prepared the Sonthi for takeoff. It did not take her long to get the shuttle warmed, and with ease at the controls she had the shuttle lifted off the surface of Rhinnal, and heading rapidly into the upper atmosphere. She wanted to ask about the message, but she did not think it was the right time. She feared what would happen when they returned and the Grand Moff was given scant news of Jelena.

"Yes, short, sweet and simple," Htaere replied. If Parka is to be trusted, that was. "My greatest challenge I think shall be convincing Claudius to lift the embargo. I must devise a good plan on how to present such for his consideration," she thought out loud. "For now...we rest. And Kerrie? Thank you for helping me."

All Kerrie could do was nod at Htaere's comments, because it had yet to be seen whether or not she had really helped Htaere. The Grand Moff's reaction would likely dictate that, and she was not nearly as optimistic about his reaction as Htaere was. An instant later the navigation computer beeped, signally it was ready, and she moved her hand forward on the hyperdrive controls to send the Sonthi into hyperspace back towards Esseles and the unknown reaction that awaited them.

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