Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Liz Dorner and Christopher Levy.
Zero years after the Battle of Yavin (35:8:31) in the Rhinnal system: Rhinnal (Rhire: Dagon Tong's safe house).
Parka Pepper and Lady Jelena Rodney.

Jelena Rodney was sitting quietly in the Rebel safe house on Rhinnal, practically next to the large heating unit that was necessary to keep the small structure from becoming frigid. Even with the heater in place, she never felt warm, and she spent most of her days wrapped in a blanket alongside it. This was not what she thought it would be like when she joined the Rebellion, and they had not even had her do anything yet. No meeting with local sympathizers. No propaganda broadcasts. The only thing she had done was sat there and freeze her ass off, as the Rebel commando unit that operated out of the base did not trust her, and feared she would mistake that would reveal their location and get them all killed. In a sense she was treated more like a child here than she had been when she was with her father. As she breathed the temperature was so cold that she could actually see her breath in front of her, and she rubbed her hands together in front of the heather once again in a vain effort to warm herself.

The door chimed as if a courtesy before the door opened to reveal the casual grin of Parka Pepper. "Heeey sunshine," she offered up. "Enjoying these killer five star accommodations?"

Jelena was excited to see Parka, as she was the one person who helped her with news from the outside galaxy. "I don't suppose you have orders getting me out of here?" she asked, her teeth chattering slightly, as she rose from the crate she had been sitting on. "It's still better than a star destroyer," she said with a soft laugh, before taking a couple of steps forward, and offering a polite hug.

Parka reciprocated with somewhat of a genuine warmth for the defected youngster. "Still haven't given you a shot at the big leagues yet huh?" She shuffled inside. "Damn it is pretty cold in here." Parka copped herself a seat on the floor close to the heater. "Need to chat. I'll inquire about getting you out on a few runs with me to test out your new liberated wings. In exchange...I need some answers."

When she saw Parka sit down, Jelena moved quickly back towards the crate that had been placed next to the heater, and began to take comfort from its warmth once again. "I'd like that, Parka. I really would," she said, genuinely, a hint of excitement that revealed just how young she still was, before offering a kind smile in her direction. "I feel like I've answered a ton of questions, but if there's anything you want to know I mean I can try..." she said, more focused on the heather than Parka's line of dialogue at the moment, as she brought both of her hands to hover over the heater, sighing contently.

Parka did not mince words with her 'protégé' of sorts. "I had a very interesting encounter. I'm not sure if you know, or who knows at this point, as it was certainly news to me, but Major Kiley is alive and well, and requested to meet with me. I agreed," Parka began. "She came on behalf of your stepmother, who wishes to meet in person." The young Hapan, a defect in her own right, tugged her jacket up around her a bit in response to the chill sinking in. "I was hoping you could supply me with any possible reason that Htaere would want to meet. Major Kiley was not in uniform, and made it a point to say she was not representing the Empire, but acting as a personal favor to Htaere. So..." she canted her head curiously, platinum silver dreadlocks with black roots pulled back into a pony tail. "Pray tell, what is it your stepmother could possibly want?"

"She ... she's alive?" Jelean asked slowly, as what color that had remained in her face quickly vanished. She had believed she had killed Kerrie in her escape, and she had mixed emotions as to the realization that she was not a murderer. One part of her was glad she had not taken a life, while the other half thought she was a vile creature that needed to be removed from the galaxy. "It has to be a trap. You cannot trust Kerrie," she said, shaking her head repeatedly in dismissal of the notion. Her arms wrapped tightly around herself, attempting to give herself a hug and add warmth to her body, and now to her soul. "Htaere ... Htaere means well, but she simply has no idea what is going on. I don't know what she could want, Parka. Some Hapan baking recipe maybe..." she said, rolling her eyes, before turning to look at Parka directly. "She's really alive?" she again asked, repeating her earlier question.

"Very much so," Parka replied without missing a beat. For a moment, she bit her lower lip, evaluating Jelena with intensifying scrutiny. "The rebellion does some intel gathering of their own, when they can, if you can believe it," Parka continued. "Were you aware that your stepmother was accused of treason, arrested, interrogated, and tortured by the ISB? And that very torture resulted in the loss of she and Rodney's unborn child?" That little piece of information surprised even Parka. "Very interesting...don't you think."

Jelena had heard some of that story, but as it had happened because the Empire was looking for her, she had tried her best to ignore it and hide from it. She quickly got up from the crate, and turned her back to Parka, wrapping her coat firmly around her, in an attempt to hide from the situation. "I-I-I..." she stammered, shaking, feeling the guilt come over her, nearly disabling her. "Yeah," was all she could eventually utter, lowering her head in shame.

"As your first real test of capability in the rebellion, the information and things we discuss here, go *no* further. Not. A. Soul. Do you understand?" Parka let her gaze remain heavy on Jelena's back, unyielding its intensity on the account of the severity of her words. "You will find the rebellion can only accomplish what it does due to utmost secrecy. You read me five-by-five?"

Jelena nodded her head silently at Parka, agreeing that their conversation would go no further. "Did ... did she ask about me?" she asked Parka quietly, her head still hung low, and feeling much heavier than it did just a few short moments ago. There were moments of weakness when she thought about running home ... not to her father ... but to her grandparents ... or perhaps even her uncle who seemed to always be enjoying himself. She had never considered Htaere in her actions. Never thought to say goodbye. Never thought to explain herself. Never even thought to write a note. She had never given the woman a fair chance, as she never wanted anyone to replace her mother.

"Kerrie asked if we *had* you," Parka responded. "I assured her that no one *has* you, that you are very capable of being our own woman."

Jelena sighed, her young bosoms heaving heavily, as her chest moved up and down in slow, deliberate breaths. "Are you going to meet with Htaere?" she asked Parka, finally turning her head to look at her Hapan confidant once more. "It could be a trap, you know. I wouldn't put it past Kerrie to pull something like that," she said, rubbing her hands against one another, both as a nervous action, and to bring warmth to them.

"I intend to, yes," Parka nodded, getting to her feet. "It could be, but...for some reason, I don't think so. Kerrie and I seem to have some kind of odd understanding. Besides," she waved a hand in dismissal casually. "If anything happens, we pluck up Htaere as a bargaining chip. We got her once. We can do it again. Though..." Parka thought on it. "Kerrie did tell me that if I harmed Htaere, she'd kill me," she pointed out matter-of-factly. "And I do believe her. At least...she'll try."

"Did she say anything about my father?" Jelena asked, reluctantly, looking about the room to avoid eye contact as she spoke. She had not given him much thought, but that did not mean she had given him no thought. He was still her father, and she wondered how he had responded to all this. She did not care, and he could not change her decision, but she was understandably curious.

"We didn't have much time for that kind of banter. A gunboat was approaching and Tashi provided Kerrie and I some fast removal," Parka dusted her bottom off from her spot on the floor and began to turn towards the door. "You can come, you know, if you want to," she offered, pausing.

"Oh. Okay. I was just wondering," Jelena said quickly, as if to downplay the fact that she had asked at all. "I can come?" she asked with a tone of excitement, initially thrilled at the prospect of being able to get of the safe house, but then a sensation of fear began to overcome here. What if was a trap? she thought silently to herself, swallowing nervously.

"Yes," Parka shrugged. "You don't have to participate. You can monitor the proceedings from the shadows alongside the other agents. It's not like we send invitations with our home address on it." Parka moved towards the door. "Think it over. She may be the best person to answer your questions." Slowing to a halt, she turned slowly to regard Jelena genuinely. "If you choose not to go back, all the might of the Empire can't make you. We'll keep you safe," she nodded firmly leaving no doubt. With that she hit the door release button and stepped out. "And I'll talk to Derek. This place needs heat. And I'll see if he'll let me take you on for my next assignment. Deal?"

"Deal," Jelena said, offering Parka a polite smile as she left, before moving to sit back down on the crate. Once she was convinced she was alone, she reached into her pocket and pulled out a miniature holoporjector. Activating it an image of her parents holding her as a child flickered to life, fading in and out of focus due to the affect the cold was having on the power source. She inhaled sharply, closing her eyes, and thinking about everything that Parka had just dropped on her. She doubted she would get much sleep this night.

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