Since her conversation with
Htaere, Kerrie's thoughts had dwelled on the mission she
had been asked to undertake. She had pledged to do
whatever Htaere wanted, but never did she expect to be
asked to find Parka Pepper ... a woman who had played a
central role in Jelena's defection. Tracking the Hapan
had not been easy, and she wondered if she had been
undercutting her own efforts simply to avoid putting the
two Hapans back in contact with one another. It had
taken some doing, but she had tracked her to the city of
Rhire on the planet Rhinnal. Gone was her Imperial
uniform, and instead she found herself wearing the
distinct armor of the Mabari, an order from her home
planet of Zolan she had since been banished from due to
her Imperial activity. She looked the part of a bounty
hunter in the dark suit of armorweave, with the simple
blast helmet perched upon her head. But she was not here
to eliminate Parka ... as much as she would have liked
to ... but to simply deliver a message.
From where she stood out of sight, the Hapan known as
'Parka Pepper', a pseudonym to be sure, studied the
"contact" intently. She could not have imagined this in
her wildest dreams. Looking around she produced a pocket
scanner and for the millionth time she scanned the area,
for spooks, leaks, bugs and wires. With a reluctant
sense of obligation, she emerged from the shadows. The
young woman in cargo pants, knee-high boots, a tight
cami that boasted her incredible godess-given curves and
chest and a jacket over it strolled straight over
towards this "Mabari" warrior and took a stance in front
of her. "Well I'll be damned...you are alive..." she
evaluated the being that stood before her.
"There are days when I wish
that statement was untrue," Kerrie replied to Parka
coldly, restraining every urge she had to charge down
the woman and tackle her. Her carefully mimicked human
eyes looked around, wondering if there were any Rebels
lurking in the shadows who might have come with her.
"You alone?" she asked, as she reached atop her helmet
to bring down a targeting scanner. She peered through
the darkness, and did not detect any immediate threats,
which mildly surprised her. A moment later she slapped
the scanner back above her helmet, before moving to the
business at hand. "I'm not here for the Empire," she
began, not that she expected the Hapan to believe her,
but she did not care what she did or did not believe.
"That is what you
requested," Parka reminded her. "I must say, surprised
is an understatement to describe what I felt when you
contacted me. Jelena told us she shot you and left you
for dead. We used to have many discussions together,"
Parka smiled, as if it was some distant fond memory. "I
never expected to revisit such. S...if you are not here
for the Empire, pray tell, what is it you are here for?"
She took a seat casually, her grey and black flecked
eyes studying the Clawdite Imperial officer intently.
She flipped a few of her braided dreadlocks over a
shoulder. "Do you wish to defect as well?"
"Then you have her?" Kerrie
asked quickly, confirming what she implied from Parka's
statement. At least from that she knew that she would
likely not be found the ISB. "The Lady Htaere wishes to
meet with you," she informed her, unable to believe the
words that were coming out of her mouth. This was more
than a terrible mistake ... it was pure folly. She
reached up to her head, grasping at the helmet, and
bringing it down beneath her shoulder to reveal more of
herself to Parka. "I wish you wouldn't," she said
honestly, shaking her head at her own actions in this
"Do I have who?" Parka
asked, brow knitting. "If you mean do I have the
Admiral's daughter, then I can assure you, *no one* has
her. She is her own person and in full charge of her own
faculties and decision making." Parka folded her hands
in her lap. "A part of me wishes *you* would follow her
lead, decide what *you* want in life, what makes *you*
happy. You have been Rodney's punching bag for long
enough..." she relented a bit. "...but that is for you
to decide, isn't it." Parka studied Kerrie for a while.
"For some strange reason that I cannot explain, I feel
the need to tell you that I am ... glad...to see you
still alive," she allowed a light smile. "I don't know
why, cuz you're a total pain in the ass," she waved a
hand. "And the lady Htaera...Rodney's ridiculously
oppressed wife who he barely touches...another of his
harem of submissive women...she wishes to meet with me?"
Parka canted her head. "Why?"
"I *am* my own woman!"
Kerrie snarled, taking her statement quite personally,
as she turned to face her. "My life is one of service to
a great man, And to his family. He has given me focus. I
have a purpose..." she continued, going into a feverish
rant, which caused droplets of spittle to fly from her
mouth as she spoke. Finally she caught herself, and
placed each of her gloved hands on her hips, and began
to breath deeply, attempting to calm herself to focus on
her 'mission' for Htaere. "I really don't know. I really
don't know," she repeated, shaking her head, before
turning her back to Parka. "I guess she'll tell you that
*if* you decide to go through with it," she said,
followed by an exasperated sigh. I should leave, she
kept thinking to herself repeatedly.
"Go through with what?"
Parka asked. "All things aside, Kerrie, I honestly don't
know what it is you're asking of me." Her eyes burrowed
into Kerrie hotly. "You...came here...and you brought no
Imp spies with you...this must mean something to you..."
She scratched at her neck for a second. "Why does the
Lady Rodney wish to meet with me, exactly? And don't
tell me you don't know. You know exactly why she sent
you here. What is it that you want?"
"Look. Parka ... I don't
know what she wants. I fear the reasons," Kerrie
revealed, as she turned on her heels to face her again,
her voice quivering and threatening to break. "Things
are bad. But if you're any good at your job you already
know that," she continued, continuing to shake her head,
as if that would somehow get her out of this situation.
"Are you going to meet with her or not?" she said
hastily, snapping at her as she asked the question, not
wanting to spend any more time with her than she already
Parka evaluated Kerrie for a
long time. Finally, she conceded. "Fine." She dropped
her booted feet from where they were propped on the
table and leaned forward intently. "But if you cross me
*Major Kiley*..." she let the sentence trail off. "You
have a very secure and private channel. I suggest you
use it sparingly and with the utmost discretion. Tell me
when and where, and I shall do my best."
It was then that an Imperial
patrol gunship appeared on the horizon on a routine
patrol, turning its light on the streets, as it scanned
for any Rebel activity. The planets of this region were
an active war zone, and the Imperial activity was
increasing by the day. "Damn!" Kerrie cursed, as she
could hear the engine approaching, and she nervously
looked towards Parka. "I didn't call them. I swear," she
said in a panic, as she tried to judge how much time
they had before the gunship would arrive. "I'll have to
find a way to get you and Htare together. Now go. Get
out of here!" she yelled at the Hapan, just as a
spotlight was shone down in her direction. "Halt!" the
unmistakable sound of a Stormtrooper was heard to shout
from above, but that he had not yet spotted Parka.
Parka snapped upright, eyes
narrowing first on the gunboat and then on Kerrie
suspiciously. There was no time to decide if Kerrie had
betrayed her. Instead, she darted out of her chair and
was off and running, ducking closely under a series of
canopies that appeared over the common marketplace. The
protesting by the shop owners was far less antagonistic
these days, succumbing to the servitude that Grand Moff
Rodney had placed ont hem instead. Parka met with little
opposition when she entered into an open doorway,
looking about briefly before plucking some old dusty
robes lying about and covering herself with them
abruptly. As if a hunched decrepit trader, she hobbled
her place among the multitudes of impoverished as they
drifted about the near vacant market.
As the gunship prepared to
land to detail her, Kerrie's thoughts filled with dread,
as she could not explain what she was doing here on
Rhinnal. She considered running, but there was no way
she could escape on foot. Her right hand hovered over
the KYD-21 blaster pistol in her holster, and as the
Stormtroopers began to close in on her position she
began to snap off a couple of quick shots in the
direction of the Stormtroopers. The first one dropped in
an instant, but she missed the second one, and began to
take cover as the remaining trooper opened fire. She
could only hope that Parka had managed to get away or
this whole situation was going to become far worse.
There she was having to kill an Imperial to protect the
family again. She lowered the targetting scanner on her
helmet as she focused in on the remaining troopers,
firing off in rapid succession to whittle their numbers.
Out of the blue, a voice
called to her. "Are you gonna hang around and die or you
wanna live today?" Parka hissed, clearly irritated at
her own conscience. "Let's go, before you get blown into
pieces. You can thank me later."
"I'm not going anywhere with
you!" Kerrie snarled at Parka from between grit teeth,
all the while continuing to return fire at the oncoming
Stormtroopers. It was then that a deadly blast of energy
impacted with her left shoulder, causing her to fall
back to the ground momentarily. The armorweave did a
good job of dissipating most of the blast, but she had a
nasty burn that would need treatment. "Damn it. Fine,"
she said, holstering her weapon, and hurrying with Parka
into the unknown. She was now on the run in the company
of a Rebel agent. This was not how she planned this
meeting to go.
Parka smirked but turned and
ran. "Don't look now, but you look ridiculous," she
chuckled. As they dodged amid baskets of sad looking
fruit and vegetables, and a couple hand-woven items,
jewelry here and there, Parka produced a comm link. "Tashi,
we need either a distraction or a nondescript pick-up.
Pick one," she shouted into it.
An acidic husky voice came
on the other end. "Are you serious? Ugh...damn you, you
bitch." A brief pause ensued and then the voice
reappeared. "On your six. Don't waste time." Parka
shoved the robe she'd lifted towards Kerrie. "Roger
that," she answered Tashi before shooting a grin to the
disguised Imperial. "Time to blend in, sister." And with
that she plucked a couple more things as she ran,
leaving the stand owners in the market to shake an
appendage behind her. Parka hunched over again and
slowed pace to a ridiculous crawl towards a junky
looking puddle jumper with a few poultry cages on the
back of it.
"Who was that?" Kerrie asked
Parka, as she reluctantly shrouded herself in the robe,
before following her through the marketplace. "I hope
you have a plan," she said, as she moved towards the
speeder, stopping to look over her shoulder to see how
close the remaining Stormtroopers were. She stopped
running when she saw the vehicle, and she stopped dead
in her tracks when she realized this was their escape
route. "That thing?!" she asked, in disbelief, as she
wrapped the robe tightly around her rather distinctive
armor. "I'd rather take my chances!" she said, her head
turning in every direction, her eys tracking every
subtle movement in the night.
"Well by all means," Parka
offered. "I'm sure the Empire will *completely*
understand why you are in the company of a rebel agent
thoroughly *not* in uniform," Parka pointed out. "Rodney
is soooo understanding about such things..." She paused,
letting Kerrie think it over, if only for a fraction of
"Oh all right. Damn it!"
Kerrie yelled, as she could hear the Stormtroopers
closing in, and and she reluctantly climbed into the
speeder with them. Once she was in the rear, she lowered
her head in shame, bringing her hand up to hold her
helmeted head upright. "This is humiliating," she
muttered, not caring if they heard it. She had really
stepped into a mess this time, and she as yet had not
figured a way out of it.
Parka tugged the robe
further over Kerrie to conceal her completely, as well
as herself, nearly buried among the poultry cages and
junk as they sputtered off rather unthreateningly amid
the other market traffic. It was only a short time later
that the robe covering the two was pulled away abruptly.
Tashi's unamused form immediately came into view,
cigarra between her lips and arms folded.
Parka's eyes popped open and
she sat up with some kind of smile. She regarded the
other rebel haphazardly. "Tashi, you're
looking...cancerous as usual," she grinned before
climbing out and turning to likewise take in Kerrie's
huddled form. "You fucking brought an Imperial," Tashi
muttered, the cigarra bobbing slightly as she spoke.
"You're gonna get killed for this."
Parka chewed at the side of
her lip, evaluating Kerrie. "Awwww can't we keep her? I
swear she followed me home..." She leaned forward to tap
Kerrie on the shoulder. "Come on, Major Kiley," she
spoke leisurely. "We gotta figure out a way to get you
the hell out of here and off both of our radars."
"You'll have to forgive me
for not having a sense of humor at a time like this,"
Kerrie said to Parka, from beneath the robe in the back
of the vehicle. "Just get me out of range. I can circle
back to my ship on my own," she reasoned, though she
realized this was her first trip to Rhinnal and was not
exactly sure where they were at this point. "The longer
we stick together the greater our chance of getting
found out, and the more we're likely to get on one
another's nerves," she added, as she tried her best not
to breath in the foul stench emanating from the creates
of animals they were hidden between. "I'll never eat one
of these creatures again!" she said, before moving her
hand to her face to waft away some of the foul odor.
"You came looking for me,"
Parka noted. "Tell them, you found me. You obtained
this...and it's last known location was Rhinnal," she
tossed her a nondescript comm unit. One of many Parka
had on hand, cheap, disposable, and prepaid. "We can get
you back to where you need to go. Question is...where
DO you want to go?" Parka cast a sideways glance at
Tashi, who still stood looking all the menacing and
unfriendly. "Can we get a second?" Tashi's eyes traveled
to Parka, narrowed briefly, then back to Kerrie before
she turned and stalked off.
When she was sure Tashi was
beyond earshot, Parka re-centered her attentions on
Kerrie. "You want a meeting? I promised one," she began.
Producing yet *another* throw-away comm link, she handed
it to Kerrie. "You seem reasonably intelligent. Use this
to find me. Once we make contact, destroy it." Parka's
unusual eyes hardened. "Your Imperial cohorts are not
welcomed," she reminded the major.
Kerrie listened to Parka's
warnings, as she stowed both of the comlinks in pouches
on her suit of armorweave. "I'll contact you when the
situation improves," she said, before turning to scurry
off into the night. She stopped, and turned her head
back over her shoulder to look back towards Parka. "If
you harm Htaere ... I'll kill you. Know that," she
warned her, before running off at her best speed. Her
shoulder was starting to hurt badly as the adrenaline
wore off ... it seemed she had another wound for Doctor
Tohan to examine.
Parka's gaze stayed on
Kerrie as she disappeared into the darkness. She thought
on Kerrie's words, on this entire event and found it
odd. When Kerrie had vanished from sight, and Parka had
run both the scrambler and scanner a few more times, she
regrouped with Tashi to make plans to join the others.
Her first order of business was a little chit-chat with
Jelena to try and make sense of such an unusual request
for a meeting with the girl's Hapan step-mother.