Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Christopher Levy and Tara McLaren.
Zero years after the Battle of Yavin (35:6:8) in the Brentaal system: Argo and Caritas Ascendant.
Commander Derek Atio, MEV, and R3-X, and Valeria.

Commander Derek Atio had a turbulent 48 hours having dealt with a refugee crisis on Ralltiir, a ravenous ice monster in the Essesia system, and rushing Valeria back for emergency medical treatment aboard her ship. He barely had time to close eyes for nap, let alone sleep or take a meal. He was beginning to smell of someone that needed to spend some time in the refresher, but before he could turn in he had to make sure that she was all right. As he reached the docking hatch of the Caritas Ascendant, he climbed up a small step ladder and banged repeatedly on the docking coupling to get her attention. In his other hand was a bottle of Corellian Ale ... he could use a drink and he figured she might need one too.

The boarding ramp was lowered after a moment, although it was not Valeria who greeted him. Instead it was her R3 unit, whose designation she had not yet shared with him. He did not speak or beep at him, since the droid probably was not sure whether he spoke Basic. Instead his dome merely rotated to indicate the area inside the ship, then backed away from him and returned to his duties. This must have been its way of inviting him onboard.

"Ugh," Derek Atio groaned as he climbed aboard the ship and carefully set the bottle of Corellian Ale down on the deck plating before he climbed aboard. "Hello?" he called out, as he finished entering the ship and rose up to his feet. His hands rested on both of his hips as he spun around to have a good look around. "Valeria?" he said again, as his attention shifted to the bottom of ale, which he promptly picked up.

The R3 unit went into the rear of the vessel, where from previous experience Derek would have noted as being the gunship's cargo bay. It was a rather quiet droid ... not talkative like those astromechs on all the hit HoloNet comedies. Instead it appeared to simply let humans figure out what it wanted them to do.

The MEV droid would be hovering outside of the ship's medical bay. With its repulsorbed folded up behind it and two of its four arms retracted, it looked a lot different than it had during the previous events of the day. When he saw the Commander he would nod his head briefly in his direction.. "Greetings, Commander. I believe the last of the cargo has finished offloading. Captain Minersha is no longer onboard. You are here to see the patient?" The medevac droid was very matter of fact in his speech, always calm. It must have made for an interesting bedside manner.

Derek always felt important in the presence of droids who addressed him properly. Most of the people he spent time with probably did not even realize he was a Commander. Given the nature of his work he often spent such little time in uniform that he had forgotten his rank at times as well. "Yes. Is she ... presentable?" he asked, as he moved towards the medical bay, but did not yet enter.

MEV paused to interpret the question. "She is taking visitors. Against medical advice, she has elected to spend her time outside of the tank in her personal quarters on the port side. I would prefer that she remain here where I can monitor, but I suppose we are only meters away." He would nod to the Commander, before opening up the medical bay and entering it. The interior of the medical bay was in disorder from the surgery which had taken place there. Obviously he had a lot of cleaning up to do.

Derek agreed with the MEV droid's assessment that Valeria was stubborn for refusing to follow medical procedures, but taking the bottle firmly in hand he headed down the corridor towards her quarters. As he approached, the door opened automatically and he poked his head in. "Valeria?" he asked, as a kindhearted smile formed on his middle-aged face. He had never been in her cabin before and had no idea what to expect.

Perhaps it was not much of a surprise, but it seemed that she had given the same amount of attention to her private quarters as she had turning the ship's command deck into a lounge. It was very big for any kind of cabin onboard a ship of this side, complete with many soft places to sit. Currently Valeria was on her bed, glad only in what seemed to be conveniently placed medical tape. It was all patients were allowed to wear inside a bacta tank. She was not sleeping, however. Instead, she seemed to be doing a very unsteady handstand when he entered. Valeria had obviously been wobbling even before he had entered, no doubt from diminished strength soon after surgery, but she topped over when he arrived, landing on the bed. Still, she was smiling. "Why hello there."

Derek's left hand came up to his head and ran through his hair as he considered her position. "Uh ... am I interrupting?" he asked, wondering if perhaps she was suffering from the effects of painkillers. After seeing how she was dressed ... or rather undressed ... he considered backing out of the room.

"Oh. This..? Ah, no." She recovered and moved to slowly sit up in the bed, even as she gestured for him to take a seat on a couch in the quarters. Apparently she also had a very extensive refresher in her quarters, accessible from the outside, that would allow someone to take a water bath. It was a luxury on such a small ship, to be sure. "Was just...trying to see if I've still got it. "

"And do you still have it?" Derek asked as he slid across the room and took a seat on the sofa. "I wanted to make sure you were all right, and also to apologize that our little supply run almost got you killed..." he said, as he poured two glasses of the Corellian Ale. One, maybe two, for him depending on her inclinations.

"Right now I don't. Still too weak to do tumbling, but maybe my next trip to the bacta tank will fix that." She did not go through much trouble to make herself presentable. The medical bandages would not fall out of place, and for now that seemed to be enough. "Its alright, really. The only permanent damage was to my pride, I think."

Derek took hold of his Corellian ale and took a tender sip. He desperately needed it and the cold, refreshing beverage smoothly went down his throat. "When do you think you can go back to work?" he asked, some what reluctantly, as his eyes fixated on the glass rather than on Valeria. The war did not stop just because someone had a rough encounter with a wampa.

"I think I might not want to do anything on the ground for a day or so more. Less than what MEV wants, but it should be enough." Valeria grinned as she picked up one of the sheets off of her bed to cover herself. Not for her own discomfort, but for his. "My ship will still be available for use."

"When you're better I'm going to need you to give your 'friend' some more information," Derek said, as he finished his first glass of the Corellian ale. "Those nobleman you named were all rounded up by the Empire and haven't been heard from since. You did a good job there, Valeria," he said, as he poured himself a second glass of the ale.

She idly grabbed a brush and began to very gently tend to her mane, which was of considerable length. No doubt some part of it had been yanked out by being grabbed by the wampa, but it was hard to notice given how much there was. "Its not easy, leading my friend astray. I hope I can reach her...everyone deserves a better fate than being deceived by the Empire."

"Don't get soft, Valeria. Whatever she was to you then, she's one of them now..." Derek said as he aggressively took a long swig of the Corellian ale. "Remember those children we rescued the other day? They're monsters..." he said angrily, as he did best to calm himself by quickly downing the remainder of the glass.

"I'm only as soft as I ever was." She continued to brush her hair so gently it almost seemed like she was worried about it falling out. The smuggler smiled, showing those big white teeth no longer stained with blood. "Its alright that you're motivated by wanting to right wrongs. Its just not what makes me go. I want people to be happy." She paused. "I think you'll find that hasn't kept me from ending more than my share of lives."

"I was happy ... before the Empire," Derek mentioned bitterly, avoiding eye contact at all costs at this point. A trembling hand reached for the bottle of Corellian ale, which quickly found itself being poured into a third, quick glass. "I think we've all done our fair share of killing lately," he admitted, his head finally tilting up to look at her directly and offered a kind smile.

"All the Empire can offer is contentment. Believe it or not, I don't believe the end result of their policies would be suffering. If they deal a final defeat to your Rebellion, I expect Imperial citizens can expect a dull life of safety and security where their choices are made for them." Valeria put down her brush and took up a mirror, beginning to inspect herself.

"The Empire will be defeated, Valeria. Every day they try and tighten their grip and every day another hundred star systems slip from their grasp," Derek explained, sounding very passionate about their cause. He was tired and had been drinking ... now was as good a time as there ever would be to get honest answers out of the man.

"You don't have to worry. I don't pick sides based on who I think is going to win." She looked at the Corellian Ale, taking a break from inspecting herself in the mirror. She did not ask for any, however, perhaps respecting her doctor's wishes for once. "Besides, I always pick my side when it comes down to it."

"Well I for one am glad to have you on our side," Derek said as he reached into his pocket and pulled out another data disc that Alliance Intelligence had made up for him. "I'm afraid this one might do your 'friend' a bit of harm, but it's for the cause..." he informed her, as he placed it down on the table for her to study later. "I'll trust you to do the right thing," he said solemnly, nodding his head for extra emphasis as he spoke.

"What is it?" She looked at the data disk on the table, her arms crossing beneath her chest. Her torso was still marked from where the claws had gouged multiple scratches across it, but it was healing fast with the help of the bacta. It looked like it might not even leave a scar.

"It's the list of several Imperial officers with falsified evidence linking them as traitors to the Empire," Derek admitted nervously, as he finished his third, and would most likely be his final glass of the Corellian ale. "Of course they're completely loyal to the Empire, but then again ... that's the problem," he said with a snicker as he put the cork back in the bottle.

"This sounds like something that will get those officers killed rather than just investigated. Do you think that's for the best?" Valeria looked very thoughtful as she watched his reaction, wondering if the play he was making was a wise one. "Are they at least war criminals?" She was still hoping to make sure she could justify this to her friend when this was all over.

"They are key officers in various positions throughout the Ringali Shell. We've selected areas where we have done well so it will be more accepted that these men are disloyal," Derek explained, having gone over it in a briefing with Alliance Intelligence earlier. "They are all criminals, Valeria. And with a little luck it will allow officers who are more supportive to the cause, or at least more inept, advance in rank," he explained to her, as he began to stand from his sofa.

"If they're going to be executed for this, I'd like it if they at least had done something to distinguish themselves as villains compared to other Imperial officers." Valeria did not look happy about it, but she did not offer any further resistance. She obviously did not want to make Kerrie an accessory in the murder of decent people.

"Make up a story in your mind. Whatever helps you sleep at night. They're all guilty of something. I've long since stopping trying to pin them on specifics ... I could never keep track," Derek explained as he folded his arms in front of his chest and examined her carefully. Was she having second thoughts, he wondered quietly to himself as he looked her over for any sign of concern.

"Let me have access to your intel sources on this one. Just the files on them. It's for the best." Valeria had placed her hands on her legs now, using them to prop herself up. It was not clear why she was asking for the files. Perhaps to salve her conscience. Perhaps as an explanation to Kerrie when the time came for the truth to come out.

"If that's what it'll take," Derek said, as he considered her request very carefully. Of course he would grant it ... he had little choice if he wanted her compliance ... but surely there was something more to this than Valeria was letting on. "How close was this 'friend'?" he reluctantly asked, wishing he had not yet put the cork back in the bottle.

"I'm not wired like other people, Derek." She smiled as she kept the bed sheet pulled around her body. "I can't help but let people get close. Keeping them at a distance is impossible for me." As she turned slightly there was a Blazing Claw tattoo visible on her bicep, the universal symbol of the pirate. Given how simple they were to remove given the level of technology, this was either a passing fad or a memento. Either that, or she was really dedicated to piracy.

"Well let me tell you, Valeria," Derek began, as he walked over towards the bed where she was sitting. He placed a rough hand upon her shoulder and looked her directly in the eye as he spoke, hoping she would understand his meaning. "This is a war. No matter how close you two used to be ... wars change people. And if I were her, and I found out someone was deceiving me, I'd try to kill them if I ever found out ... no matter how close I was to them at some point. Understand?" he asked, as he removed his hand and slowly backed up to where he was earlier standing.

"I understand..." She smiled to him as he touched her, but there was a silent "but she'll forgive me" that was implied in her response. Valeria was decidedly somewhat odd. She always believed that she could win people over in the end, even if all logic defied that.

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