Era of Rebellion - Navigation

D. Wade Hyde and Christopher Levy.
Zero years after the Battle of Yavin (35:8:30) in the Brentaal system: Brentaal IV (Cormond: Spaceport).
El-Nay Darr and Tycho Starlight.

A loud Mandalorian in a suit of vibrant orange armor was not difficult to find. In the day since her beating at the hand of Tycho Starlight, she had much of the time at the bottom of a bottle of Corellian ale. She wanted off this planet and to get on with her career as a bounty hunter, but as she had invoked the ire of the Imperial authorities her travel clearance had been restricted. She was in the spaceport, next to her starfighter, which would not be allowed to leave the system unless she wanted to evade the Imperial starfighter patrols. She was sitting on a crate next to the ship, in most of her armor, save her helmet, which sitting beside her. She had a lit cigarra in one gloves hand, a half consumed bottle of Corellian ale in the other. She still was in discomfort the beating ... her ribs were bruised, her back ached, and her lip was cut and swollen from the smack. The cold chill from the bottle soothed her wound each time she brought it to her mouth, and the overall alcohol consumption was gradually improving the way she felt.

Tycho hadn't been able to shake the way he'd felt yesterday, beating up the girl. He had hoped she would learn a lesson, but she either hadn't or simply hadn't been willing to say. She didn't seem terribly stupid to him, so he'd begun to wonder if he couldn't make use of her after all. She was going to get herself killed out there, one way or another. Thus, he'd been searching for her most of the day, only to find that her starfighter was on lockdown in port. He'd hit a number of cantinas that had seen her, but ultimately decided the spaceport might be his best option at this point. So it was that Tycho came strolling up to her, dressed in his battle armor, save the helmet under one arm. "Evening," he said casually. He walked around her and leaned against her starfighter. "How are we feeling?"

When El-Nay heard the sound of footsteps approaching the last person she thought it would be was Tycho Starlight ... the fiend from the other day. The anger she felt towards him welled up inside of her and she responded the only way she knew how ... by thrown the half drunken bottle of Corellian ale at him. "You've got a lot of nerve coming here," she snarled angrily, attempting to hurriedly get up from the crate, but instead she fell to the ground from her intoxicated state. She let out a loud groan as she hit the ground, and was now laid out defenseless in front of him. "Come here to finish the job?" She asked, looking up at him with her steely gray eyes, half filled with dread, half filled with rage.

It was a little surprising how deftly the big man snatched the bottle out of the air. His glove and gauntlet were covered in booze, and there was a spill on the ground between them, but there was still enough left. He took a big swig of the stuff, then smacked his lips. "Mm ... thanks," he said. "Y'know ... you throw drinks at people a lot. You didn't learn *anything* last night, did you?" He tsked and shook his head. After another pull from the bottle, Tycho sighed and held it back out toward her. "Get this through your thick skull: If I wanted you dead, you'd already be dead."

She lay there for a moment as she attempted to judge whether or not this was some sort of psychological torture that would proceed the actual deed. Finally, she rose up from the ground and snatched the bottle back from him. She took an anxious swig from the bottom before bothering to say a word to him. "How much did that bitch pay you for what you did to me?" She asked, turning her side to him, as she moved back towards where she had discarded her helmet. She took a final drag from her cigarra before tossing it aside, and then reached down to grab hold of her helmet. She slid it back on her head ... feeling somewhat more confident and secure when no one would see her young face.

The slightest of smiles touched his lips as he watched her don her helmet. "You need to learn how to hide your emotions and vulnerability without using a helmet," he said, completely skipping over her question. "Shouldn't bother with it anyway." Obviously she didn't know, and wouldn't know, that he could sense her emotions. The comment was almost more to himself than to her. With a sigh, he held out a hand expectantly, looking at the bottle. "You're not weak, you know? Not strong enough, but not weak. You have no idea what you're doing, either. Someone tries to tell you to learn something, or teach you a life lesson, and instead of listening, you curl up in a ball and feel sorry for yourself. I can see it. That's who you are. You need to stop being that." He paused, looking away for a moment. He was quiet for a time.

"This helmet used to mean something in the galaxy," El-Nay told him, a sound of profound sadness and loss dripping from her voice. "There was a time when the very sight of this armor would command respect. Our enemies would cower before us..." she continued, beginning the start of a drunken rant before stopping herself. "Look. I have a father, and he didn't do me much good," she said bitterly, biting at her lower lip to maintain her composure as she delved into these emotional topics. "What ... what do you want?" She asked, finally, exhausted from the past couple of days, and in no mood for small talk with someone who only a day prior had beaten her to within an inch of her life.

How overdramatic. He had barely beaten her up at all. Tycho drank down the last of the booze and tossed the bottle. "It did used to mean something," he agreed. "It meant something because of the people who wore it, not because of the armor itself. You're not worthy of it. You could be, though. You could be one of the few to make that armor mean something again. Look, your father might not have been useful to you ... I'm sure you have some kind of awful abusive history or something ... but he either didn't teach you, or you didn't learn. Same damn problem. Suck it up. Help me with a job. In return, I might teach you some things. Maybe pay a little."

When he said she was not 'worthy' he cut her to the core, and she sunk into herself, her chin lowering until it rested upon her chest. It was about the one thing he could say that could truly defeat her. She was motionless for a moment, before spinning on her heels to face him, angrily. She raised her gauntlet to her chest, and began to pound the two armor pieces together, as if she were beating a drum. "Ni verd! Ni verd! Ni verd!" She chanted in her native, Mando'a, uttering the phrase "I am warrior!" Repeatedly to the man. With that she began to charge at the man, unarmed, in a desperate attempt to tackle him to the ground. Even on her best day she was not adept, the ale had weakened her reflexes even further, and the man possessed an ability she could not possibly imagine.

Tycho rolled his eyes as she started beating her chestplate and chanting like an idiot. He considered really hurting her when she attacked, but that wasn't why he'd come here. Instead, he took a step to the side, caught her by the wrist and twisted. Then, he swept out her legs and finish the maneuver, flipping her jarringly onto her back. Tycho took a few quick steps away. "If you really want to fight me, we'll fight," he said. "You've seen what I can do, so stop being stupid! Ni verd all you want, but at the end of the day, you're *not* a warrior!"

El-Nay let out a shocked squeal as she was suddenly flipped onto her back, reinjuring it in the process. She lay there for a moment, coming to the sad realization that everything he said was right, and she was stripped bare to the bone. The tears began to flow again, but this time it was not out of fear, but of utter surrender into the worthlessness of her existence. "How much?" She finally asked, after laying there for a moment, her helmet filling with so many salty tears that it threatened to either drown her or preserve her flesh. At this point she had nothing to lose.

Tycho stood idly by while she groaned in pain, then went quiet. He could feel her like an open, bleeding wound. The pain, the anguish, the hopelessness, it felt like a flood of all the horrible things he'd ever felt. He felt his eyes sting and turned away for a moment. After clearing his throat, he turned and walked back to her, then knelt beside her. He reached out slowly and removed her helmet, setting it aside. There was something shocking in his gaze when he looked down at her ... a kind of tenderness. "Best thing you've said since I met you," he said, then smiled. "Two thousand credits, non-negotiable, but I can give you so much more than just creds."

El-Nay did not like having her helmet removed, and she quickly brought her gloved hands up to her face to wipe away the tears. She was embarrassed. The helmet did little to protect her from blaster fire ... it's real purpose was to protect her from having to look another human being in the eyes. It unnerved her somehow, and she was quick to turn her head so that she would not have to look at him. "Are you ... are you flirting with me?" She asked, wondering if the 'much more' was something between his legs. She had not had particularly good relationships, and the closest she had come was with a woman. She was a very mixed up young woman. "I'll take the 2,000," she said, quietly and deliberately, before pressing both of her hands down on the floor to give herself a boost back onto her feet.

Tycho laughed at her, walking away a few steps to place the helmet on the nearby crate. "Flirting with you?" He echoed, then shook his head. "You're a pretty girl, but I don't flirt with people that hate my guts, usually. No... I'm talking about training you. You were born to the Mandalorian name ... you'll never live up to it at this rate, though." He turned back to her and frowned faintly. "You have the genetics of a race bred for war, and the potential to make something of it. So ... you can get those two thousand credits and run off to cry your eyes out in a bottle, or you can get paid, then come with me. You won't get big shares at first, but you'll learn."

"What do you know of the Mando'a?" El-Nay asked him, folding her arms in front of her chest, as she examined him quixotically. "You have shown you can beat me," she admitted to him, nodding her head firmly in sad admittance of that fact. "But that is no great accomplishment," she reluctantly admitted, laughing at her own limited abilities. "So what's the job? I didn't exactly get that far, but you know that ... you were there," she said, shaking her head at her own misdoings. "...and do you have a plan?" She added, having already done the mental gymnastics that resulted in her joining his mission.

"I know enough," he said. Enough meant that he didn't know a whole lot, or he wasn't telling. He left that up to her to guess on. "Forget that, though ... let's talk about the mission right now." He motioned her over and patted the crate beside him. "Sit," he invited. He didn't wait for her, knowing that she would probably disobey anyway. "We're going to be taking a shipment of items to Esseles. We'll need to get past the Imperial blockade, so we'll be procuring an Imperial shuttle. We've got the codes and the cargo won't be a problem. I've thought of a way to make it really easy, though. You any good with computers?"

Surprisingly, El-Nay moved towards the crate and took a seat next to him ... not because he told her to, but because she wanted to. Her hand reached into one of the pouches on her belt and she produced a cigarra, but just as she prepared to light it she heard the man say 'Esseles' and stopped short. "Esseles!" She repeated in disbelief, the unlit cigarra falling from her lips, unable to accept that he was serious. "Do you know how many ships the Empire has at Esseles right now? Just trying to get off that planet caused me to lose my travel documents," she asked, shaking her head, before bending down to pick up the cigarra. "How much are *you* getting?" She asked, bringing the cigarra back to her lips, and bringing the lighter up to ignite it. She took in a sharp inhale followed by a quick exhale, shaking her head behind a cloud of smoke. "Computers? No. I don't know shit about computers..." she said, being honest, as she hoped he had a better plan than relying on her computer knowledge.

"The only money you need to be concerned about is what you're getting paid," he said. "You don't ask the client how much they make. I'm your client. Now ... you not having any more computer knowledge than I do will make things a little more difficult. That means going into the restricted area of the spaceport. You'll have to look natural, so lose the armor. You'll go in, plug in a data spike, let it upload, then leave. I'll see to a distraction if we need one. After that, we meet somewhere, lay low, and when it's all said and done we'll be leaving aboard an Imperial shuttle without a care in the world. We should be able to coast right through the blockade once we've got that taken care of. If everything goes to shit ... well, I'll do what I can to get you out alive." What he could do was as much as possible without risking himself and the mission. Then again, he couldn't exactly trust her not to talk, so it might come down to saving her or killing her, rather than letting her get captured.

"Are you setting me up?" El-Nay asked, revealing the first thought that came into her mind, without filtering it. "Why not just steal the shuttle, kill everyone, load the stuff on ourselves and fly thru?" She asked him, not having much in the way of sense for planning. "You should know I'm not the galaxy's best actress..." she revealed with a soft snicker, before getting off the crate and moving towards her starfighter. "I don't have much in the way of wardrobe either," she said, as she opened up the cargo compartment and began fumbling through the old Corellian clothes she had brought as an afterthought. "I guess if I want to buy new clothes it's going to have to come out of my end?" She asked, as she carefully held up each item, examining it and wondering silently if it still fit. Had she gained weight since leaving home? She wondered silently to herself ... after all she was still a young woman beneath the armor.

Tycho chuckled. "I don't recommend wearing anything that comes out of anyone's 'end'," he joked. "It'll be from your cut, yes... unless things go very well, in which case you'll get paid in full and the clothes will be like a bonus. That won't do you any good at all if you can't even conjure a little guile, of course. Listen..." He paused and turned toward her bodily, shifting his position on the crate. "You don't trust me... I wouldn't either. But use your head. If I screw you over and you get captured, you can tell them exactly what I'm doing. Right now, I either help you or kill you, not screw you. You'll have an open comm channel going, so if you're in trouble, I'll know it. If we can do this without anyone knowing we've stolen a shuttle, we'll be able to waltz through the rest of the mission. If we ran in and stole a shuttle, we'd have to find a way to get the cargo on. We're not going to just carry it with us into a firefight. We're not going to take the shuttle, go somewhere else, then load the cargo. You don't kick down doors when you can unlock them."

As she listened to him speak, one by one the plates of the beskar'gam was stripped from the skin tight environmental suit that covered her petite young frame. She carefully tucked it away inside of the cargo container of her ship, not wanting to be the one to lose or damage it after how her mother had worn it in battle more than two decades ago. "You gonna turn around?" She said sheepishly, moving behind a crate as she began to unzip the suit to expose her naked body below. There were bruises ... and not just the ones that Tycho had inflicted upon her ... some were fresh ... some were old. She was ashamed of her body, not proud of her scars, and she hurriedly changed into the old Corellian clothes she had not worn in quite some time. "How do I look?" She asked, as she came from around the crates, wearing a soft blue tunic that was badly wrinkled, a pair of distinct Corellian trousers, and a matching pair of brown leather boots and jacket. This was who she really was ... this was how she had been raised back on Corellia.

Tycho said nothing about her first question, being that she stepped behind a crate and wasn't visible anyway. It was a good thing, given it was a semi-public area. No way was he not gonna watch if other people did. As it was, her body was safe from prying eyes. He canted his head to the side and looked her over once she was changed. "Better," he said. "You actually look more confident dressed that way. You sure this is the line of work you want to get into? You could do a lot of other things, kid. Safer things. Not every Mandalorian has to end up in a suit of armor, blasting things." He watched her for a few moments longer then rose, picking up his helmet as he did. "Tell you what ... let's either get more booze or get you sobered up. One or the other ... your call. I can't have you going in there drunk. I'd rather wait for tomorrow than do that."

"Kid?!" El-Nay angrily repeated, as she looked at the man angrily once again. He just knew how to push all of her buttons. "Listen. This is going to go a lot smoother if you stop treating me like I'm some child, and that starts with you not calling me things like 'kid'. Got it?" She said, as she moved closer towards him. "My name is El-Nay, clan Darr. El-Nay," she repeated for emphasis, as she circled him slowly to get a better look at him. "I have a father. I'm not looking for another. I'm an adult," she said, naively, as she began to move towards the exist of the docking bay. "Well do you want to get drunk sitting around the ship, or are we going to a cantina?" She asked, smiling at him, as a more pleasant rosiness moved towards her cheeks. "Wait ... you're buying right? Don't get cheap on me," She asked, seriously, wondering just how much she was getting short changed on this deal.

"First of all, I'm not calling you a kid cuz you're a child," he began, "and I'm not going to treat you like one if you don't act like one. Part of that is knowing when to take offense and not to. I'm calling you kid because you're green. Take that as an insult at your own peril. Knowing that you're green and admitting it is the only way you're gonna start learning." Tycho gave a nod, then walked off past her. "I'll buy your first drink. After that, we'll see how it goes. First, we're stopping by my ship." He didn't look back as he spoke, just leading the way from the docking area and down the hall. There were dozens of docking bays at this port alone, and most bays held multiple ships. His was only one bay down, and they were soon looking at a trio of ships with room left to spare. His was the smallest of the three, but it was a ship made for combat. It was no starfighter, but probably wasn't big enough for more than a few people to live on for any amount of time. It was a thing of beauty, a bluish steel hull with silver markings here and there, all sleek and shiny. Emblazoned on the side in a crimson font that looked like blood spattering was the name Death Blow.

The ship seemed newer than El-Nay's Clone Wars relic, and she was certainly more interested in it than she was him. She moved past him quickly, and began to carefully examine the ship ... she pawed over it, examining every aspect of it intently. "Where'd you get this?" She asked, genuinely interested rather than just patronizing him with the question. Suddenly she realized how much she had let her guard down, and wondered if she revealed too much, delving back into her youthful experiences among the starports of Corellia. When she realized what she was doing, she brought a hand up to run through the dyed locks of her blonde hair, closing her eyes and trying to remember who she was supposed to be rather than who she was.

"I bought it from a guy on Nubia," he said. "It wasn't *quite* ready to go in the junkyard yet, but it took a lot of work to get it looking like this." Tycho strolled up beside her and looked at her intently. "You're a very confused young woman, I think. I've seen a lot of different sides of you already. I think it'll be interesting to learn which is the real you." He didn't think it would take much learning. She was soft and vulnerable, and not at all like what she presented herself as. The real question was whether she was doing what she was because she wanted it, or because of her family. And if she *did* want it for herself, then the question was whether she'd be able to make the change. He tapped a few things on the panel of his bracer. The ship's side door slid open and a small ramp came down. He stepped up inside and led her into a place that looked nothing like the ship on the outside. Most surfaces were metal, but none of them were shiny. The parts of the upholstery that were cloth or leather were torn in some places. He began pointing out things. "Cockpit's that way... bit of a squeeze. Over here, this box is the living/dining/cooking area. Refresher unit there. Quarters there and there ... they're about the size of a matchbox. And then the engine room ... and back past that is the little cargo boot." The tour took all of two minutes, including showing her the insides of each room.

"Are you a mercenary or a counselor?" El-Nay asked condescendingly, as her eyes ignored him, and intently studied every aspect of the interior of the ship. There was a time when she was young when she dreamed of being a pilot like the rest of her friends on Corellia, but that was before she discovered who she really was. While her father did everything in his power to keep her from what she felt was her birthright, her mother would regale her with bedtime stories of her people's great victories in battles spanning back a thousand generations. From that moment forward she devoted herself to embracing her true culture and became a great Mandalorian warrior like her ancestors. It meant more to her than anything, but her people had been neutered by the Empire, and now her world was being stripped of its precious iron and her people forced to either serve or travel the galaxy is wanderers working as mercenaries ... like her. "Did you bring me here just to show me this?" She said, finally turning her attention back to him instead of the ship.

"Just a guy who knows what he's talking about," he retorted, scowling a bit. "I didn't bring you here to show you anything. I came to change. Relax, kid." Shaking his head, he went off into his bunk and let the door slide closed behind him. The room consisted of a bunk built into the wall, a sink and refresher unit that pulled out of the wall in drawers, and a tiny closet. He stripped down, piece by piece, until the armor was gone, which took some time, as it had her. Then, he unzipped his body glove and stripped it off to finish changing. When he emerged, he was dressed in a sleeveless red vest with a long black shirt under it. His pants were a nice neutral tone and he wore black boots. He'd even taken the time to run a brush through his hair and wash his face. His figure was still intimidating, but much less so. Even with the scarring on his face, he looked halfway handsome.

When El-Nay caught a glimpse of him for the first time out of her armor a flush of color rushed to her cheeks and a smile instinctively crept upon her lips. She hated that had happened, and she quickly moved to turn her back to him so that he could not see. She cleared her throat, trying to focus, before speaking. "Shouldn't we get going? I'm sobering up and you said you'd buy me a drink..." she said, before heading towards the ramp to get off the ship. There was something about being in the tight space of the ship with that was causing her to feel somewhat warm in a way that she did not want. Was it safe to have a drink with him? She wondered silently to herself, and she began to question what she was doing. Her heart was racing, and she began to expel the nervous energy by bouncing up and down on her feet. "C'mon, old man!" She yelled behind her, as she began to leave the docking bay. She would be fine once she had a drink in her hand, she kept telling herself.

"Sobering up, my ass," he said. The 'old man' bit twinged a bit, but turnabout was fair play and all that. He didn't let it bother him. He followed her out, puzzling over what he was feeling from her. It was an odd hybrid of emotions and something else that he wasn't sure qualified as an emotion, exactly. With a sigh, he shook his head and pushed the thoughts away. He had to get a little more discipline over this thing. Once he had turned the switch into the 'off' position as best as he could, he joined her and headed off for the spaceport's cantina. It was the quickest one to get to, so there was no point in going further. It was average in quality and large enough to accommodate a fair number of travelers. Because of the amount of traffic, though, it looked a little on the dingier side than it otherwise would have. The place was smoky, loud, and smelled of alcohol and various sentient body odors. There was a nice fragrance in the air blending with it in a valiant attempt to cover it up. He glanced to her and spoke loudly over the music. "I really know how to treat a girl, don't I? Stick with me and we'll see all the shittiest dives in the galaxy."

"I...I thought it would be a more glamorous life," El-Nay conceded, as she looked over the dirty place, wondering if the glasses were even clean. All the money he must have been making and they end up in a dump like this. "Well. Get me a drink," she said, as she moved towards the table that seemed to be the cleanest of the bunch. She reached down and grabbed the chair, tilting it slightly so that any debris on it would slide off. Her hand slapped at it roughly, trying to get anything off that gravity did not remove. Once she was satisfied that it was as clean as she was going to get it, she turned the chair around and sat down, spreading her legs around the back of the chair, and resting her chin upon the top of the back. Her grey eyes scanned the other patrons wondering who they were, what their stories were, and what exciting places they were off to. Then she wondered if this would be her last day left alive what with Tycho's scheme to run the blockade of Esseles. She would need to drink. She would need to drink a lot.

"Glamorous," he muttered to himself, chuckling. He shook his head and walked off to the bar. It took him nearly ten minutes, busy as the place was, but he came back with a bottle and two glasses. He sat, not really paying attention to whether the chair was dirty, sticky, whatever, and poured them each a glass. "Moonbeam," he said, nodding at the red liquor. He picked up his glass and held it out for a toast. "To a thoroughly unglamorous and profitable life."

El-Nay picked up the glass of red liquor and connected it against his when he made the toast, and then quickly moved it to her lips to take a swallow. She had never tasted it before, and she coughed slightly as it went down. "So ... who are you?" She asked, the broadest possible of questions, before taking a second swallow that was much more substantial than the first, as she began to acclimate herself to the new sensation. It occurred to her that she knew very little about the man she had committed to working with ... other than he threw a good punch and had an interesting ship.

"Hmm ... what an odd question, now I think of it," he said, after a gulp of the liquor. "I don't think you ever asked my name. Tycho Starlight. As far as who I am, though..." He shook his head and sighed. "That's a long story. Bullet points: I was born on Nal Hutta, got into the crime life, got enough money to leave the planet, and left. I tried to avoid Hutt space for a while, but that only lasted so long, so I ended up working a lot of jobs in that area. I've been doing this for over twelve years, learned a lot of shit, including stuff from one of your people ... which is why I know what a Mandalorian should act like, by the way. Then, business got crappy, I at some point ended up here, and now I'm drinking with you. Exciting, isn't it?" Tycho smirked at her behind his glass, though there was a twinkle in his eye. He was actually starting to let loose and enjoy her company. And, if he wasn't terribly mistaken, she was enjoying his too.

"Is that all it really is?" El-Nay asked, sounding downright discouraged by what he had described to her. Her hand reached for the bottle, and she quickly poured herself a second glass. "I thought there'd be more to it than this..." she revealed, before drinking the entirety of what was in her glass in one quick motion. She coughed loudly, before slamming the now empty glass down in front of her. For the first time since leaving home she was having serious thoughts about quitting, and running back home to her parents. "Is this your plan, Tycho?" She asked, saying his name for the first time, as she went for yet another glass of the moonbeam. "To depress me so much about your lifestyle that I end up quitting?" She asked, sounding serious, before moving towards the drink again.

Tycho smirked, then drained the last of his glass and poured himself another. He'd be damned if he couldn't keep up. "You're onto me," he joked. "No life is all bad or all good, all boring or all exciting, but when you're young ... and don't give me a hard time for saying it, because it's true ... when you're young, you have a vision of how things will be that usually doesn't match up with reality. There's satisfaction and excitement to be sure. If you're successful and get plenty of credits, you can go to the nice places and buy the nice things, if that's your jig. It's like any other job when you get right down to the nitty-gritty. Instead of waiting tables, you're kidnapping and killing people." Somehow that statement seemed to make sense to him. "It comes with experience, kid. That's all I can say."

El-Nay squeezed her eyes tightly together as she began to feel the effects of the alcohol that she had been drinking far too rapidly. The liqueur did not mix well with the ale she had been drinking earlier, and she barely managed to hear one word in three of what he was saying. "Ungh," she groaned, swirling the red liquor in the glass in front of her eyes, and tried desperately to focus on it. "What?" She asked him, her voice slurring, before her eyes began to roll back in her head. A moment later her body fell forward, her head slamming down face first into the dirty table. She was gone.

Tycho blinked and stared at her for a moment. He downed the last of his drink, stood, and picked up the bottle. "More for me, I guess," he said. He moved to her side of the table and hauled her out of her chair and up onto his shoulder. With a hand firmly planted on her rear, he carried her from the cantina. Boy was she gonna be surprised when she woke up...

Untitled 1

Copyright Era of Rebellion 2005-2018. All Rights Reserved
Terms of Use | Legal Notices | Privacy Policy | Press Release | Disclaimer