It was the middle of the night aboard the converted
gas mining station that the Rebellion had converted into
a secret base deep within the confines of the Ringali
Nebula, safe from Imperial forces. The lights in the
command center were dimmed, as almost of the Rebel
personnel had retreated to the station, and there were
no ground operations in progress. The operation on
Ralltiir would be going off soon, and Commander Derek
Atio was standing in the darkness looking at a blue
holographic image of the planet spinning in front of
him. The last time the Tetan officer had ordered
personnel into the field it had resulted in a disaster
that plagued his thoughts, gave him insomnia, and made
him start drinking again. He was drinking what appeared
to be a cup of caf, but he had poured a bit of Corellian
whiskey into it, to ease his mind on this restless
night. There may have been something he missed, and he
thought if he stared at the image long enough, he might
Emi Shinohara, the passive Alderaanian hadn't been
able to sleep, well, really ever. Her bare feet hit the
cool metal of the space station that they were on as she
wandered the cold dim halls. A dressing gown and thick
maroon robe covered most of that athletic toned body.
She turned the corner of one of the many halls as she
saw Commander Atio standing in front of a holo screen.
That blue light hitting his face as she was able to tell
it was him. She approached him slowly as she crossed her
arms over her chest. "Can't sleep either?"
When Emi spoke he was startled, as her bare feet
caused no noise, and she was nearly upon him before he
realized she was there. He shook so violently that he
spilled some of the hot liquid onto his shirt, grimacing
lightly as it caused him mild discomfort. "What gave it
away?" he asked, with a smile, and a roll of his eyes,
as he put the half empty cup down on the rim of the
holoprojector. He then shook his hand violently, causing
the remnants of caf mixed with whiskey to fly to the
ground. "So what's keeping you up?" he asked, as he
looked around for something to clean up with.
Unfortunately, he was in an orderly tactical center and
not a rag was to be found.
Those plush lips made for a straight line as she saw
how she had startled the Commander. "Sorry. I... I
didn't mean to frighten you." She wasn't exactly dressed
for running into anyone on the platform, much less to
encounter anyone on the space station. But, alas, here
she was, standing in a robe and dressing gown. She moved
closer to him and gave a shrug. "I... I haven't really
been able to sleep since my home planet was blown up.
Call it, survivors guilt." A frown then presented over
those plush lips as she reached into the pocket of her
robe and pulled out a handkerchief, handing it to the
"Yeah. That'll do it..." Derek said, perhaps
insensitively, as he moved to take the handkerchief from
her. Using it, he blotted his stain on his brown uniform
shirt, and then turned his attention to wiping at the
handle of his mug so he could pick it up again. As he
took a sip of the alcoholic caf it dawned on him how
awful what he said might have sounded. "I'm sorry. I
didn't think when I said that," he said, somewhat
uncomfortably, before turning his full attention towards
the diplomat. "Things ... things haven't been going well.
Have they?" he both stated, and questioned, as he tried
his best to maintain his sunny disposition, but lately
he was finding it harder and harder to smile.
"Commander... You don't have to be sorry, it's in the
middle of the would be night. Most of the crew is
asleep. I'm honestly surprised to see you here." She
wrapped her arms around herself slightly as she crossed
her arms over her chest. She thought about the question
that Derek put into play. Emi hadn't really thought of
their ragtag team as a failure or anything less than
outstanding. She gave a shrug. "We're fighting against
something that is wrong. We're putting our lives on the
line for what's right. Of course things aren't going to
go well." She looked from him down to the floor. That
longer dark hair falling around her face and in her
"I can't sleep," Derek confessed, as his hands moved
to the control panel to display the massive Imperial
naval force that was building at Esseles. "How is anyone
expected to fight against this, ambassador?" he asked
her, as he shook his head, and took a longing sip of his
whiskey fueled caf. "All I have is a frigate, her
escorts, and a couple of squadrons of barely serviceable
starfighters," he explained to her, sounding bitter and
as if he had already lost. "Just one of their Star
Destroyers could obliterate us ... and now they have so
many," he said, as he examined real time movement of the
Imperial ships relayed from their monitoring buoys at
the nebula's perimeter. "We're outmatched *and*
outgunned," he complained, before letting his head sink,
and his eyes closed while searching for a miracle.
Emi took in a long breath and exhaled while she took
a seat at one of the control panels. "Derek, if I may,
you can't think like that. Everything has a weak spot.
Nothing is infallible. Hell, what's to say they may over
estimate our power and will to fight?" She looked up at
her fellow crew member and tried to give a smile. "Maybe
we need to reach out to some outer-rim systems. It
wouldn't hurt to have their backing. Hutt's aren't that
bad." She was fishing for a smile from her friend and
comrade. She'd hope she'd be able to get it.
Derek circled 'round the holoprojector until he was
standing very near her so that the technicians on duty
would not be able to hear the words they shared.
"Politically it is a real coup for us to be operating so
deep within the core," he began, speaking quietly,
maintaining a smile for the sake of the others. "Senator
Mon Mothma also is keen to have a force so near her home
on Chandrila, but the war is in the outer rim..." he
complained, as he superimposed their own meager forces
onto the map for comparison. A single frigate, five
corvettes, and numerous transports were all that
appeared on the screen. "The main fleet under Admiral
Ackbar has orders not to engage, and they won't spare us
anything larger," he revealed, almost complaining now,
as he moved to take another sip of the whiskey and caf.
He was close enough now that she would be able to smell
the alcohol on his breath as he spoke. "And now I have
this new Lieutenant from high command breathing down my
neck ... watching ... suggesting..." he continued,
before trailing off with a sigh. "I'm an engineer. I can
fix these ships, but I cannot lead them," he informed
her, revealing too much honesty from a combination of
lack of sleep and mild intoxication.
"Commander, you might want to hit a refresher, for a
shower." She spoke quietly enough for only him to hear.
She gave Derek a smirk and shook her head as she wrapped
that robe tighter around her, as if to hide a cool shill
that went down her spine. "Yes... I have met this
Lieutenant. I already hate him." Her face twisted into
more of a pout as she stood next to Commander Atio, her
shorter stature more apparent now than before. "I'm a
negotiator... I represent a planet that is no longer
there. What am I really doing here, Derek? What real
presence do I even pose anymore? Hell... I don't even
know if I even care anymore to be honest. But I'll be
damned if I don't go down fighting the Empire with my
last breath." She moved a hand up to his cup of caf and
whiskey, pulling it from his hand and taking a sip. That
was the type of person she was after all. A slight sniff
as she handed it back to him. "It's a bit weak." Smirk
formed over those lips and she couldn't help but laugh.
Derek lifted up his dark brown tunic and took a
whiff, inhaling the awful body odor that wafted up
towards his nose. He cringed slightly, bunching his
nose, and quickly lowering the garment back to his
chest. "You're right," he said, embarrassingly, as his
eyes wandered towards the technicians, wondering if any
of them knew. "There are six systems out there that
still are there, Em-Ambassador," he said, nearly calling
her by her first name, rather than a title, feeling
quite embarrassed by the stumble he had made. "If it
were any stronger I'd be seeing twelve planets on the
projector instead of six," he confessed, slightly taken
aback by her reaction to the whiskey.
She handed the cup back to him and took in a slow
deep breath. "Nothing that says a diplomat can't hold
her whiskey." She gave fine grin as her hands moved to
her sides. "Well, you're right. And you can call me Emi
when it's just us, Commander. I'm in a night gown.
Surely you think less of me now. My hair hasn't even
been combed in over six standard hours." She said as she
placed her hands into her robe pockets. A soft sigh
escaped her lips as she turned back towards the
commander and gave a sigh. "You're doing a fine job,
Commander. It's not easy stepping into the position of
leadership when it's thrust upon you." She looked down
to the control panel and gave a slight shrug.
"You don't have someone on your staff to brush your
hair, Emi?" Derek asked, firing right back, as he
wondered when the last time he had washed his hair was.
The refresher rarely worked, and when it did work, it
did not stay hot long enough for him to do a thurrough
job and it was very cold in space. "I appreciate the
compliment, but somehow I don't think doing a *fine* job
is going to be enough," he said to her, as his eyes
again drew to the massive Imperial buildup that had
increased exponentially since his arrival in the Ringali
Shell. "We have got to score some kind of victory or
we'll lose morale," he explained to her, as he took
another sip of the caf. His hand moved beneath the
table, extending the flask with the straight whiskey to
her in a way she would notice, but hopefully the others
"And he can dish it." She said with an impressive nod
to his retort. She looked over the map that had caused
the both of their faces to be lit up in a bright blue
hue. That smirk would slightly turn into a frown. "We'll
get lucky... I can feel it. It's all been done with
luck. Things will work out. I hope that they will
anyway." She looked down and saw his hand as she would
reach for the flask, glancing around. Seeing no one take
notice she unscrewed the top of it and took a much
larger swig than from the caf mix. Slight wheeze was
given as she tried to fight off the need to cough. "Wowww.
Holy..." The Ambassador cleared her throat as she passed
Derek the flask back. "I'll be surprised if I don't grow
some hair on my chest in the morning."
The Ambassador's exclamation caused the techs to
momentarily disregard their duty and look in her
direction, but none of them begrudged her a little late
night drink. Derek, on the other hand, was slightly
startled by her reaction, and did his best to hide the
flask before he laughed loud enough to risk drawing
attention to himself. "Well if you grow chest on your
hair I wouldn't exactly count that as our getting
*lucky*, Emi," he joked, before going back to the
process of counting the newly arrived Imperial ships.
"They've deployed a total of eighteen Star Destroyers to
the region now. When I got here there was only one," he
said, with a sigh, before turning to look away from the
depressing statistics. "Know anyone who can get us some
ships?" he asked, not entirely sure who or what she
knew, or what she could do in the way of helping in
terms of procurement.
A hand reached up as she would slightly stroke her
chin, the way men usually in thought. A slow deep breath
as she'd move to sit down against a clear space of
control panel as she looked up to her comrade.
"Actually... I do know someone. Another diplomat I had
the pleasure of meeting once or twice. Though, I hope I
might be able to reach out to her sooner than later. I
know she would definitely be sympathetic to our cause."
She'd tap the lower control panel to bring up the planet
of Kuat. She pointed to the planet and then looked to
the Commander. "We'll just have to cross our fingers
that she remembers me."
Derek followed her towards the terminal, reaching out
to place his right palm upon the bulkhead, to support
himself as he watched over her shoulder. "Kuat ... they
make much better ships than anything we have in our
roving line," he said to her, as he studied the image of
the Kuat and the massive KDY Orbital Array that
encircled the entire circumference of the planet. "I
hope she remembers you, Emi," he said, sound a bit
excited about the prospect of getting his hands on
something larger than a blockade runner or a gunship.
The scant force of less than ten ships was all they had,
and none of them had dared to venture outside the safety
of the Ringali Nebula in months.
Emi couldn't help but hear the excitement in Derek's
voice. "Wonder I could try sending her a message. We
have the power and means to send encrypted messages,
right?" She began to type a little more on the data
control panel as she'd look up her acquaintance from
Kuat. She'd type in the name Nona Jast, and pull up a
bit of information on her. "Oh wow..." She read through
some of the data on the other female and gave a rather
wide smirk. "You see that?" She turned to Derek and
pointed to the wedding announcement and to the name of
the planet that she would be on. "They are housing
refugees from Alderaan on Delaya..." She'd say in a
softer voice as she'd look back up to the Commander.
Derek gave the side of the terminal a good strong
whack, and then a second for good measure. "Uh ... not
it will ... I hope," he said, as he tilted his head to
examine the screen as it briefly powered down and then
rebooted. "Not exactly top of the line equipment we have
here," he said, as he watched her punch up the data on
her friend, Nona Jast. "Yes. They have nowhere else to
go," he said to her, awkwardly, as he knew that it was a
topic close to home. "It looks like she's marrying Grand
Moff Rodney's cousin ... are you sure we can trust her?"
he asked, as he tilted his head down to look at her.
"Do you think The Grand Moff will be happy to hear
that his cousin his housing Alderanian Refugees? On a
planet that got most of it's food in a symbiotic
relationship with the planet he blew up? I bet the
cousin's aren't exactly on speaking terms." She turned
her head towards him. She pulled up more information on
Delaya. She read a little more as she smirked.
"Commander, I do believe we can trust her. There are
riots and unstable living situations on the streets...
They won't be able to ask the Senate for help without
provoking open threats from the Empire... We have to
offer them help, supplies, food. If she doesn't know how
to get the ships from Kuat, she'd know who could." Her
wheels were turning... The grin on her face widened as
she let a hand move to rest on the Commander's shoulder
as she almost giggled with excitement. "I believe I've
may have found our win, Commander."