The Corellian Corvette Argo exited
hyperspace in the Alderaan system. The vessel had spent the previous
two weeks undergoing refit and had seen many personnel changes
before receiving her new assignment. No longer assigned to the Rebel
Fleet hiding in the Vergesso Asteroids, the venerable Argo had
reverted to her paint scheme from decades earlier when she served as
a consular ship in the Royal Alderaan Civil Fleet. Complete with
original transponder the small vessel finally appeared presentable,
just in time for her homecoming.
Brandy-brown pools flickered beneath a
set of loose chocolate bangs, dispersed about Tashi's forehead
haphazardly, despite how many times she kept brushing them back
behind her ear. "Making our approach," she announced to whoever was
in the immediate vicinity and/or whoever was paying attention. Eyes
panned across the readouts for a moment before settling back in her
chair to wait for instructions.
Commander Derek Atio ran a hand
across his chin and grimaced. He had received orders from command to
shave prior to this assignment ... the crew would never pass on
Alderaan looking their usual unkempt selves. Although they were
operating in a sector of space friendly to the Rebellion, he
nevertheless felt uneasy being this deep in the Core. "Sensor scan,
Mister Ling," he said calmly as he attempted to sit more
professionally in his seat.
She ignored that damn remark and
went about sweeping the area with the sensors. Her brow furrowed.
"Oh you're gonna love this. The usual traffic and...as a bonus, one
Imperial-class Star Destroyer" she quipped in wry amusement.
"Relax," Derek said without any
alarm, "Intelligence said its just here for a diplomatic function.
Steady as she goes."
"Oh I see. The kind of diplomacy
where they barrage planetary targets from space. That kind of
diplomatic function. Right on" she commented dryly. The Argo
continued on towards Alderaan, cruising n casually, despite whatever
apprehension the pilot may have been feeling.
The communications viewscreen
flickered to life as the Argo approached and the face of a young
Human male flickered into view. "Argo ... we have you on our screens
now," he began, "You are cleared to land in Aldera. Welcome home.
"Alderaan, huh?" The somewhat
sleepy-eyed visage of Leilia Sangre peered over the left shoulder
of the pilot's chair, as if she'd popped up from nowhere. She had
wandered in from the quarters she had unofficially claimed as hers,
half-asleep, but curious as to their location.
"Yes," Commander Atio said as he
swiveled his chair to Leilia, "I see you weren't one of those
reassigned." He laughed in light of the recent personnel changes.
"Hey, they can't reassign someone
that wasn't assigned to begin with right? " Leilia gave a grin and a
wink, plopping down into the closest chair. "So what's this place
"Peaceful," Commander Atio explained
as he swiveled forward to watch the landing, "...you'll hate it."
"Heh, you think so huh?" Leilia
chuckled lightly, and slumped back in her chair. "I think it ought
to be an interesting change. For a while, at least."
Tashi answered the controller before
closing the channel "Roger that." She guided the corvette into the
atmosphere and towards the region their designated landing pad.
Their arrival uneventful, they skirted the last leg of their
approach to get an aerial view of the terrain before putting down.
The landing smooth and even more uneventful, the ship settled on its
gear without so much as a bump. Tashi wrapped up her 'to-do' list
for settling in before turning in her own chair and slapping the arm
rests with the palms of her hands. "...And that's a wrap" she said,
getting to her feet. "I need a smoke and a cup of coffiene" she
muttered, taking a moment to stretch out her lean figure for a
"Not so fast, Tashi," Derek
explained as he rose from his seat, "We're about to be in the
presence of royalty." He thumbed down on the intercom and broadcast
a message to the barracks, "Captain Tong ... form a small detail and
meet us at the ramp in ten minutes. I want everyone looking their
best. I want us to make a good impression in our new assignment."
Well, that little announcement had
Leilia sitting upright in her seat. "Huh? Royalty? Are you serious?"
"We'll do our best." Tong did not
know what the captain thought they had in these foot lockers, but
his only idea was to put the men in battle dress. BDUs and full
armament. And that was what he told his two men to suit up in.
"Standard uniform and load out. If the captain doesn't like it,
he'll get over it." The Cuy'Val Dar certainly had the mentality any
other spec ops unit. They did not look pretty, but they worked. Tong
did not even need to change, he just grabbed his EE-3 on the way out
the door, and pulled his LBE on before zipping it up. The cigarra
hanging from his lip flared for a moment as he nodded. "Sobriety
Seekith strapped on his standard
issue vest over his tank top. He debated about whether or not to
bring the powerpack for the his T-21 light repeating blaster. He
knew they were going to be on a peaceful planet, and that he was to
be out there more for show then combat readiness. Better safe than
sorry, he thought as he slung the back over his shoulders. He
quickly moved to fallow after Tong.
Zev was already dressed in his usual
green BDUs. He acknowledged Tong's order about the armament, his
hands double checking that the usual set of grenades were clipped to
his belt. Noticing that everything was in order, he grabbed his E-11
and followed down the ramp behind the others.
Leilia looked disconcerted for all
of a half minute...before making a dash straight for the closest
refresher, doing what she could to make herself presentable ...
scrubbing her face, twisting her multitude of braids into a
neater-looking rope down her back. Five minutes later, she was as
ready she could get. "Well, it's not getting much better than this
right now, folks," Leilia muttered beneath her breath as she headed
toward the ramp to join the rest of the crew.
Tashi's face contorted as she looked
herself over. She was hardly 'presentable,' but it didn't matter
much to her in slim-fitting cargo pants, knee high black boots, a
grey long sleeve shirt with red stripes down the sleeves with a
short sleeved button-up shirt over it, left open and tied in the
front. "This is my fancy dress," she shrugged, stuffing her hands
into her pockets and shuffling away from the bridge for the exit.
Tong made his way to the receiving
point, and waited patiently, his hand gripped around the pistol grip
of the weapon, and his eyes remained on the hatch.
Upon arrival, Commander Atio looked
over the ragtag assemblage of individuals and swallowed to keep from
commenting on their appearance ... or lack thereof. He cleared his
throat nervously before slamming his palm down upon the button that
descended the ramp. Light began to creep inside the vessel and he
squinted his eyes ... he had been spending so much time aboard ship
that natural light had become foreign to him. "Try not to get us in
trouble," he lectured as he strode down the walkway.
To that, Tashi swallowed hard before
emitting a loud lengthy belch. She grinned and followed Derek down
the ramp. "Sure thing, boss."
An elegantly dressed Human female
stood on the walkway leading from the landing platform to the
palace, waiting patiently for their crew to debark.
Leilia knew there was no way to
improve on her rather tattered shirt and trousers, and her black
boots were scuffed beyond real repair; nevertheless, she squared her
shoulders and straightened her back, head held high and proud, as
she joined the crew, looking almost as if she were the royal party,
rather than their visitor.
Tong took a deep breath, and tried
to calculate how much money these hostages would net, he let it go,
and headed down the ramp, disembarking.
Zev followed Tong down the ramp,
letting out a small yawn in the process.
As Seekith filed of the ramp behind
Zev, he tried his hardest stifle a cough or two. He whispered to Zev,
"Ah, blast all this clean air."
The middle-aged woman approached the
group and bowed politely to them. "Captain Atio?" she asked politely
as she looked over the group.
"Yes," Derek said as he stepped
forward and returned the woman's cordial greeting.
"I am Celana Aldrete," she
explained, "Aide to Prince Bail Organa." She smiled politely,
"Please follow me." Her eyes scanned over the crowd a bit disgusted
by the sight of the weapons, "I assume our communication about not
bringing any weapons did not reach you ... unfortunate." The woman
pursed her lips, turned on her heels, and began walking across the
platform towards the palace.
Commander Atio squirmed in
embarrassment, shook his head at the assemblage, and then followed
Celena at a brisk pace.
Tong looked at the greeter for a
moment and tried to decide if she was serious. This squad, leave
without their weapons? Unlikely. But he managed to squash his
comment about her not receiving the message about leaving
bureaucratic morons out of any proceedings, and followed the ship's
commander. He was surprised that she had not mentioned the disruptor
pistol on his left thigh.
Tashi expression was somewhere
between amused at the woman's penchant for condescension and
irritated to be yet a pawn in the service of the powerful. Tashi
glanced to her colleagues and followed after them.
Well, it was official ... Leilia
could not stand this so-called aide. The look she had just given
them all gave the impression she had just come across a really ugly
bug... and the comment about leaving weapons behind? Hah! No,
definitely did not like the aide.
Seek again whispered to Zev, "So
does that mean we need to put these back?"
Rarely known to bite his tongue, Zev
did so this time. He convinced himself it was for the best, as his
immediate thoughts would likely make this meeting less cordial. He
turned over his shoulder and simply shook his head at Seekith, "You
can put yours back, but this baby is staying right where it is."
Leilia overheard Seek whispering,
and could not help but mumble a response back. "They can separate me
from my whip when they pry it form my cold, dead fingers."
Hearing both answers, Seekith just
smiled his famous feline grin and followed after one.
Tong glanced over his shoulder, and
uttered as he walked. "Just can it. No one is surrendering weapons
unless I order it."
Once inside the palace, Celana
Aldrete guided them through a series of corridors through the Aldera
Royal Palace. She looked over her shoulder at the group with a look
of disapproval. She turned her face towards an archaic, ornate door.
With two hands she pushed the door open and revealed a lavishly
decorated chamber in which two middle-aged men were seated. When the
doors opened the men immediately rose and stood regally, waiting for
their guests to arrive. Celena bowed gracefully to the first of the
men. "Your Highness," she began, "Allow me to present Commander
Derek Atio and the
'crew' of the Argo."
Bail Organa nodded to Celena and
then smiled warmly at his guests as they filed into the room.
"Welcome to Alderaan, Commander," he said politely, "I know of the
Argo well. Captain Dartanyn was a good man who served my people
well. Your loss is shared by all Alderaanians."
General Rieekan, the other man
present in the room, turned his attention to the soldiers that had
accompanied the Commander. "Captain...Tong isn't it," he began,
"Your men won't last long here equipped like that. They'll stick out
like sore thumbs and we'll have the Empire breathing down our necks.
In light of 'recent developments' we can't have that."
"Given some of the crews rare
ability to start a fire fight without us being there, I'd prefer it
if they kept their weapons. Besides, since when did my men start
operating on Alderaan long enough for someone to notice we were here
for more than tea?" Tong looked at the General squarely, and gave no
"I certainly hope you enjoy our
planet ... and our tea, Captain Tong," Bail Organa said jokingly to
lighten the mood somewhat, "Because the situation will necessitate
that you remain on Alderaan for some duration." He then turned his
attention to the others, "Come, come. Be seated. We have much to
discuss." He gestured towards the vast array of seating arrangements
that were available before retaking his seat.
Leilia glanced between Tong and the
General, , then flicked her gray-violet gaze toward Bail Organa as
he made a comment. She couldn't help but give a faint smile at his
words; she liked that one.
Commander Atio nodded politely at
the Prince before taking a seat himself.
The idea of operating here did not
appeal to Tong much. His business was in the Ringali Shell, and
taking this commission was starting to seem like a mistake, but he
took a seat all the same, and waited for more of the briefing. The
carbine hung easily from its tactical sling, and rested between his
legs at a ready position.
Leilia frowned slightly at the
seating arrangement, ultimately claiming a seat giving her as best a
view of the entryways as possible, and as far from the Prince as the
seating would allow.
Tashi felt a bit awkward here, as if
she'd missed the departing flight for this whole operation.
Reluctantly, she had a seat and waited, looking none too thrilled.
Zev took an available seat at the
table, resting his E-11 on the tabletop, safety on.
"Lights," General Rieekan ordered in
a monotone voice.
Celena, who had remained positioned
by the door, dimmed the lights in the chamber.
The General turned his attention
towards the fireplace and adjusted an ancient statuette of a falcon
perched on it. The painting of the late Queen Mazicia Organa atop
the mantle retracted revealing a modern viewscreen. Rieekan pointed
at the Gordian Reach as he began, "Using intelligence gathered from
data collected by your unit and others we have gained a fairly
accurate disposition of Imperial forces in the Outer Rim. This
region of space is remote and unguarded. Our scouts have indicated
the fourth moon of the planet Yavin is an ideal candidate for the
construction of a new, centralized base." He lowered his hand and
looked over the group, "General Sewell has taken charge of the
effort, but first we must move personnel and resources from across
the galaxy to Yavin. The blockade runner is the ideal type of vessel
for such an assignment and since the Argo has a history as a
consular ship the Empire 'should not' questions your movements." He
turned his attention back to the viewscreen where several planets
were now highlighted, "You must move forces from our bases on Nentan,
New Kisge, and inside of Bothan Space to the new base at Yavin."
Bail Organa spoke up from his seated
position, "Some of our finest and most respected officers are
scattered throughout the galaxy with scant resources. I am confident
that if we begin to pool our resources we may be able to win our
first victory over the Empire."
"General, if my unit and the ones
like it have shown anything, it's that bases are more targets than
anything. But the Empire won't be content with hit and run raids?
Why are you going to make their job easier? Seems like an effort in
futility or stupidity, I'm just not sure which is more fitting at
this point." Tong took a short pull off the cigarra as he spoke, but
looked the general dead in the eye the entire time. "And why are you
using a commando unit to do a supply office's job?"
Seekith grimaced at the idea of
being wasted on escort duty.
During the briefing, Leilia had
unconsciously shifted into her favored style of sitting; slouched
low in her seat, angled to cross her ankles on the edge of the
table. She listened intently to the explanations, flicking her eyes
toward Tong during his little speech. She kept her mouth closed,
waiting to see how this would resolve itself.
The General turned his attention to
Captain Tong, "To answer your questions ... our effort thus far has
met with some difficulty. While our forces have struck some minor
blows against the Empire, we are lacking that one great, definitive
victory that will turn the tide of popular support in our favor. We
believe that only by coordinating our efforts can such a feat be
"I will answer the second part of
the question," Bail Organa said, "In this war men and materials are
far more valuable than territory held. We need our best personnel
ensuring their safety during this time of transition. We cannot
afford to fail at this critical juncture. This base 'must' be
"I've run Imperial interrogations
before. How long do you think it will take them to find your base,
and park a few ISDs in high orbit? You're doing what every first
week combat soldier is taught not to do, bunching up. You put your
best all in one place, and the Empire might even drop Bantha poodoo
on your heads just for amusement before they start the barrage and
bombing runs." Tong's dead eyes bounced back and forth between these
two, the cold predatory gaze not yielding any emotion, even if he
thought this was a waste of resources.
Zev's thoughts had drifted for
several moments, settling on his second true love...Sabaac. However,
the sudden heated argument ensuing between Tong and the General had
brought him back to the moment.
"The intelligence you and others
have brought us shows that this region is ideally situated for a
base," General Rieekan, "And 'should' the Empire eventually locate
it ... we will be ready for them." He paused, "The matter is not
open to further discussion. You have your orders and I expect you to
carry them out."
Bail Organa rose from his seat and
motioned for Celana to reactivate the lights, "Gentleman ...
please." He turned his attention to the Commander and the Captain,
"Enjoy your stay on Alderaan, but please ... make a greater effort
to blend in ... for all our sakes."
"Of course, Your Highness,"
Commander Atio said as he bowed in the manner he observed Celana
"You're taking a group of men and
women who know have proven to be effective raiders, and turning them
into bodyguards and babysitters. I'm sure such tasks wont be a
problem. Even a bureaucrat could do it." Tong still had no emotion
in his voice, but it was clear what he thought of all this. He
turned to his men, and nodded towards Zev. "Alright, you heard them.
Civvies and concealed side arms, blades too. Nothing seen." He spoke
as he decided it was time to find a drink.
Leilia gave a faint smile as she
dropped her feet from the table, stretching the kinks from her back.
"Well, this is going to be fun. How long are we here?" She didn't
ask anyone in particular, just tossed the question out and hoped for
"Your first assignment will be in
one week," the General informed Leilia. He turned his attention
to the Commander, "Why isn't this one in uniform?"
"She's blending in. Take your pick.
You want a pack of commandos ready to sweep and clear the palace, or
a bunch of people that no one will notice?" Tong glanced over at the
General and then back to his troops and gave a nod. "Let's go."
"She's not technically a soldier,
sir," Derek explained, "We picked her up from that prison camp on
Leilia winced. Blast, she knew she
shouldn't have opened her mouth. She glanced toward the door,
wondering if she could slip out now and escape further notice. She
was really in no mood for another interrogation.
"Oh," the General said as he sized
up Leilia, "You're drafted. Welcome to the Alliance Special
"Uh." Leilia blinked once, then
twice. When no intelligent response to the General announcement rose
to her lips, she just closed her gaping mouth and followed after
Tong. Now she needed a drink.
"Very well, Captain," the General
said politely, "See that this woman is conscripted immediately."
"She's already Cuy'Val Dar. I doubt
conscription papers will be in order. None of the rest of us have
files with our names on them anyway." Tong was in no mood to be
polite, or assuage flag rank egos, so he lit a new cigarra, and
waited for his troops to get moving.
Seekith was still shaking his head
as he stood and started tp walk from the room. He spoke as if he was
writing a letter, "That right mother, I joined a top notch commando
unit to become a glorified security guard! Huge step up from the
Leilia's long legs quickly ate up
the floor as she stalked toward the door, muttering beneath her
breath what must have been several vicious curses in some unfamiliar
language. She snagged Seekith's arm as her strides took her right
past him. "C'mon, soldier, you're buying me a drink."
Leilia couldn't help but give a
chuckle at Seek's words. "Sweetheart, you have me confused with
someone who didn't spend half a standard year in prison. If I had
another set of clothes, I'd be wearing them already." She shook her
head and gave a grin. "So...once you buy me that drink.. I'm going
to be a girl for a change to do a bit of shopping."
Tong chuckled and nodded again to
Zev. It was time for them to go. He waited for his XO to get moving,
and then did the same, heading directly back for the Argo, for a
change of clothes, and a drink. He caught up with the other two
without trying, and shook his head. "Drink after you change, or
during. I don't care, but make sure you conceal all weapons. Or else
you're going to make me offend the General's tender sensibilities
Zev got to his feet and followed
behind Tong, letting out a small sigh of relief as he returned the
nod towards his CO.
Seekith nodded at Tong's orders and
then grinned back at Lei, "I'll buy you a drink, but first you might
need to let me borrow some civvies... " he was joking of course.
Seek clapped his hands excitedly, "Uu!
Uu! Shopping! ... wait, do they even have blaster shops hear?"
Leilia laughed outright at Seek's
weirdness. "I doubt it, but I bet if you go to the right stores, you
can find the raw materials to make one!"
"Blast," Seek appeared to sulk, "I
guess I'll just have to be a pretty scarf or something then."
"Maybe the General had it right. If
I'd known that my troops looked forward to shopping so much, I would
have volunteered the lot of you for this mission." As Tong spoke, he
made his way up the ramp, and into the Argo.
Leilia paused at the bottom of the
ramp. She did not have any clothes to change into, unless you
counted the tattered prison garb she'd been picked up in.. but it
was worse of than what she had on now. So, she waited outside the
ship and deftly released her hair from its twist. When her braids
were allowed to once more fall freely, Leilia's prized whip was
easily concealed in its place at the small of her back, its black
coloring lost within the black of her nearly ankle-length tresses.
Seek patted Tong on the shoulder as
he made it up the ramp, "Oh captain, we're just joking. You know we
would all rather be gutting a Stromtrooper and hanging him with his
entrails right now if we had the choice."
Tashi watched them filter out one by
one, chewing idly on the inside of her lip before light brown eyes
shifted back to Derek and the two head honchos.
"Your Highness," Commander Atio
turned his attention to Bail Organa as the soldiers departed, "We
noticed a Star Destroyer in orbit. Is there always one stationed
"No," Bail Organa said with a laugh,
"Unfortunately that's here on my account."
"Forgive me Your Highness,"
Commander Atio continued, "But I do not think I follow."
"My retirement from the Senate,"
Bail Organa explained awkwardly, "There's something of a ceremony in
my honor later in the week. I'm afraid it will be very busy around
here until then. I would invite you and your personnel of course,
but I do not know if they would ... fit in."
"Of course, Your Highness," Derek
said with a polite nod.
Bail Organa turned his attention to
the woman next to Derek, "And who is this?"
"Petty Officer Tashi Ling," Derek
explained, "My pilot."
Upon mention of her name, Tashi gave
an obligatory nod. Feeling largely uncooperative in front of the
panel of 'judges' she did not bother to salute, bow or smile.
Bail Organa bowed politely to Tashi
and smiled to her as he rose. "It is an honor," he said with the
charm that he was renown for. He turned his attention to the
Commander, "Always treat your pilots well, Commander. There is no
position aboard a ship more critical."
This time, Tashi allowed for a
casual smirk. "I'm only the pilot when everyone else calls in sick,"
she dropped her booted feet to the floor. "Am I excused as well?"
she inquired openly, envious that everyone else was probably
burrowed into some booth at the local pub by now throwing back cold
"I will do my best Your Highness,"
Derek said with a polite bow. "Yes, Tashi. We have taken enough of
his time as is," he smiled once again at Bail before moving out of
Taken enough of 'our' time you mean,
Tashi thought to herself as she got to her feet. She followed Derek
out, waiting for the doors to close before she said something
audible enough for his ears only. "This makes me very
uncomfortable," she stated. "And I don't mean the pomp and
Commander Derek Atio walked through
the meandering corridors of the Aldera Royal Palace. He stopped
suddenly and turned to Tashi. He looked both ways down the halls.
When he was convinced they were alone he swiftly moved his head
towards hers, closed eyes, and kissed her passionately. He savored
the moment before withdrawing his head, opening his eyes, and
smiling at her, "You look good when you clean up."
The woman was astounded, shoving him
off of her before looking about nervously. "What are you doing?!"
"Ugh," Derek groaned as he stumbled
backwards, "I'm sorry. I just always wanted to have a kiss inside a
She shook her hands at him. "Are you
insane?!" She scowled, risking another glance about and slightly
relieved to find they were still alone. "Let's get the hell out of
here. This place creeps me out" she grumbled, moving off down the
Derek walked down the corridor next
to Tashi, doing his best to nurse his bruised ego. Suddenly, out of
the corner of his eye he spotted something unexpected. He thrust his
arm out in front of Tashi to stop her before she could go any
Initially, she smacked into him. On
the recoil she composed herself enough to follow his gaze.
Major Kerrie Kiley walked down the
corridor slowly, amazed by the decadence of the palace. She had
heard it was more than seven hundred years old, but she did not
expect it to be of such a grand design. Her guard was down as the
last thing she expected was to encounter any sort of problem inside
the palace. Nevertheless, she had been instructed to protect the
Admiral's family throughout their stay in the Alderaan Sector.
Lady Jelena Rodney strode eagerly
behind her bodyguard. She hardly felt it necessary, but she was in
too pleasant a mood to argue with her father over such a minor
detail. She had been in the palace since a very early age and
therefore was not nearly as impressed as Kerrie. Still, you could
not tell it by her face. She was more enthusiastic than she had been
since she was forced to leave Alderaan many years ago. Now she was
home and would soon be reunited with her friend, Princess Leia
"Come on," Derek said quietly to
Tashi as he grabbed her by the arm and began heading back in the
direction from which they came, "Let's get out of here before we're
Even as she was being dragged away,
Tashi's eyes were locked on the tell-tale grey uniform in a flurry
of rage and disbelief. As the scene disappeared from view, she
turned to hasten after him. "What the hell is going on?" she
demanded of Derek, him being the commander of their outfit and
presumably the one who likewise had a good explanation as to why
they were here to begin with in such a ridiculous assignment.
"Probably just one of the guests the
Prince warned us about," Derek explained to Tashi as he followed the
corridor hoping to find an alternate exit, "Still. I didn't expect
them to be here now."
"We'll assign blame later. Let's
just go now" she said between breaths as they hurried off. "Ideas?"
Tashi asked, looking about curiously.
"Let's try though here," Derek said
as he pushed open a doorway to reveal a public refresher. "Hmm," he
said as he let the door close suddenly on his dismayed face.
Tashi half-frowned and bowed "After
you." She moved past him and continued down the hall, eyes
vacillating from wall to wall for a doorway or junction or exit.
Suddenly a rather plump middle-aged
woman, well-dressed and quite elegant emerged from one of the
chambers. "Who are you?" she asked as she stared at the pair.
"Uh," Derek said nervously as he
froze, "We're just visiting."
"Do you happen to know where the
nearest exit it?" Derek asked.
"Yes," the woman announced, "Right
back down the way you come."
"I'm sorry," Derek explained, "But
we can't go back that way."
"Oh?" the woman asked, "Why?"
"Too many people that way," Derek
told her, "My friend here ... her hair is a mess ... looks awful ...
doesn't want to be seen you see."
The woman took a closer look at
Tashi and smiled, "Oh I understand completely. Continue up the
corridor. Fifteenth door on the left."
"Thank you," Derek said and smiled
politely and began walking down the corridor again.
Tashi was too busy trying to decide
if that was a compliment or an insult. She found herself trudging
after Derek yet again, still stupefied as to what was going on.
Finally reached the fifteenth door,
Derek slowly opened it and was relieved when it revealed a walkway
leading back towards the landing platform ... thought it would be a
quite a long walk. He stepped outside, smiled at her, and held the
Tashi stepped out, looking around,
grateful to be out of that mess of corridors and out from under the
keen speculation of the elitists. It was like a breath of fresh air
and she inhaled it deeply. "And all I wanted since we touched down
was a drink" she said to herself absently.
"We're outside the palace," Derek
observed, "Can I kiss you now?"
"No!" Tashi insisted, eyes
flickering about involuntarily. "Someone will see and that will mean
trouble" she added. She moved past him and walked briskly, eyes
shifting about as they moved in continuous surveillance.
"How about that drink then?" Derek
waited a moment and watched her walk a bit before racing to catch up
She threw him a sideways grin and
nodded. "Alright, Captain. It's a date. Lead on" she conceded.