Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Christopher Levy and Tara McLaren.
Zero years after the Battle of Yavin (35:5:17) in the Brentaal system: Brentaal IV (Cormond: The Speakeasy).
Major Kerrie Kiley and Valeria.

The Speakeasy was once the height of criminal activity in Cormond, the capital city of the planet Brentaal IV, but since the Black Sun had been targeted by both the Empire and a rival criminal organization the establishment had lost much of its glamour and activity. Major Kerrie Kiley sat quietly in a nondescript booth in the back, nursing a Corellian ale as she nervously awaited the arrival of Veleria. It had been two years since she had seen the criminal ... before she got caught up in the Galactic Empire. Once again she had been tasked by her superiors to reach out to one of her former underworld contacts for nefarious purposes. Gone was her Imperial uniform, replaced instead with the dark black armor she had acquired during her training with the Mabari on her native Zolan. She appeared to be just another nondescript Human in this upscale establishment, her brown hair ornately braided and pinned beneath a duarsteel blast helmet. Her human face appeared slightly pudgy and had distinct cheek bones ... her best attempt at what she thought a woman should look like.

Valeria, for her part, looked almost exactly the same as the last time the Major had seen her. There was always talk about her being part Zeltron. While unconfirmed by any scientific measure, she could always draw the attention of a room when she was 'vamping' it up. Now was apparently not one of those times. A somewhat short, shapely female, approximately 1.57 meters in height and wearing primarily a skintight Thinsuit would enter the local watering hole. She drew a fair share of stares, but ignored them as she proceeded towards the table of the Imperial major. She was armed, of course. At least one pistol was immediately visible. Based on reputation alone, there were more where that came from.

Kerrie swallowed somewhat awkwardly as these meetings with her former associates always proved to be somewhat 'awkward'. During her days as an assassin they had always spoken of the Empire with disdain and now that she had become deeply entangled in their employ it often drew disappointed and surprised reactions. "Valeria..." she said quietly, as her blue eyes finally tilted up to examine her closely. For half an instant a half smile curled upon her carefully mimicked human lips as she attempted to be friendly. "Can I get you a drink?" she asked, as her hand nervously tightened around the handle of her mug and she forced herself to take another sip of the bitter concoction.

"Something strong." Valeria laughed softly, before shaking her head. "Something strong enough to make me understand your current employer. The Empire, really?" She placed a hand on the chair across from the Major, turning it around, before straddling it as she faced her. "Where's the fun in backing the side with all the advantages?"

Kerrie's face cringed as she heard the woman say the word 'Empire' obnoxiously loud for her taste. Perhaps she should have just worn her uniform. Her eyes nervously scanned over the patrons who seemed to be keenly involved in their own business to take interest in the conversation. Motioning to the serving droid she ordered her 'friend' a flame out before she continued with the conversation. "I like to win..." she spoke plainly, avoiding the explanation of the complex melodrama that her brought her down this path. "It is ... where I belong," she continued to explain, as she struggled to find exactly the right verbiage.

Valeria down the flame out rather quickly. A few seconds after it reached their table, in fact. Perhaps there was some truth to the Zeltrons rumors after all. They were reputed to have spectacular constitutions. "Hey, if you want to be boring, who am I to stop you? I'm just wondering how it concerns me." She placed a gloved ... no, gauntleted ... hand in front of her own face and waved it slowly, perhaps seeing what effect the drink had on her vision. Her voice dropped in volume as she continued. "Imp credits spend the same as CorSec, or Hapan for that matter. Entropy, if the Rebs had credits worth spending..." She trailed off, evidently having decided there was no point in pursuing that matter with an Imperial.

Kerrie had done her best to avoid losing herself in the bottom of a bottle since she had reenlisted in the Empire, but Valeria's quick disposal of the flameout inspired her to quickly finish her Corellian ale. A pained expression was visible on her face, as she perhaps drank it a bit too fast. A small burp escaped her lips with brought her left armorweave clad hand up to her mouth in embarrassment as she sunk into herself nervously. "I assure you ... the Empire will compensate you very well for your services," she said quietly, as the server droid arrived with a second round of drinks. She had hoped this was not going to turn into a drinking contest as it was a battle she would surely lose.

Perhaps sending her discomfort, this time Valeria would merely sip from the glass. "But what, precisely, are we talking about here? Depending on what the job is, it can take a lot of credits to make everybody's favorite party girl do a hard cycle's work." She jerked a thumb at herself with this last part of the sentence, apparently feeling no shame at referring to herself in that manner.

Kerrie's hand instinctively went to her utility belt and a moment later a 10,000 credit chip appeared beneath her hand on the table. "Information is very hard to come by here. No one is talking," she complained bitterly, before stopping to take another sip of her Corellian ale. "If you move your operation to the Ringali Shell ... I'm sure you'll meet people, see things, hear things ... things worth credits," she explained, emphasizing with a firm nod of her head as she pushed her mug away for the time being.

"You must have some pull..." Valeria did not take the credit chip yet, instead looking down at it with silver blue eyes as if it were a krayt dragon, its scales glinting from beneath the sands like a terrible warning. " throw around creds like that. Some Imp in Intelligence must think the Rebels have a base there."

Kerrie rolled her eyes as her hand went for the mug, but she knocked the glass over and spilled the cold liquid all over her armor. "Uh..." she murmured, as she nervously shifted in her seat. It was clear she was nervous about something, but what she had not yet let on. "Spend some time here. It won't take you long to see just how rough the Rebels are making it for honest people to make a living..." she explained as she was handed a rag by the droid to attempt to clean up her unfortunate mess.

"You're breaking my heart." Valeria grinned, showing large and prominent white teeth. Her lips formed a natural Cupid's bow when she smiled. One of her hands quickly shot out to snatch the credit chip off the table, disappearing just as quickly while the other hand assisted her in downing her second glass. "Worth my consideration, anyways. Think I might want future payments in something other than straight credits, though." She continued to watch her discomfort in amusement, though it did not seem mean-spirited. Her face wasn't reddening in embarrassment for her, anyways. Her natural skin tone was a flawless, hairless pink, but one that fell in the normal range for baseline humans. It had a golden undertone to it.

Kerrie looked at the woman cautiously, wondering if her 10,000 credits was a wise investment or a foolish loss. It had been years since she had last worked with her, and did not recall ever hearing her say anything positive about the Empire. However, she had vouched for her and if anything went wrong she would be one to get the blame. She swallowed slowly, her throat bulging against the collar of her bodysuit. "If you hear or see anything ... you contact me..." she said, as she glared across the table looking rather serious. She had literally stuck her neck out on this one.

"I have the comm frequency you told me to contact you on." Valeria laced her fingers together behind her head, taking on a relaxed pose. "Your credits are good. You don't have anything to worry about." Idly she adjusted her head in order to toss back her hair, which was long and flowing. "Your down payment should keep me in Sabacc games for a while. I wonder, though..." Her lips spread into a grin again. "...I bet you have access to some pretty hot technicians. Might like to get some of my gear reconditioned instead of just credits. Outlaw techs are good for improv and squeezing that last bit of power, but lousy for reliability."

It was never easy, Kerrie thought to herself as she considered the woman's request. "Get me something I can use and I will arrange for you to get a stopover at one of our maintenance facilities on a nearby system..." she said after a pause, with obvious reluctance. She did not have the authority to broker such a deal, but she was confident she could pull it off if given some time. "How ... how have you been?" she asked idly, trying her best to make small talk. It had been a rather serious business conversation thus far and it had been so long since she had been released from her cage for a night at a watering hole with a 'friend'.

"Just fine." Valeria kept that smile on her face, even as the look in her eyes hinted that that was not precisely true. "Even gave a thought to going straight like you. Major, is it? So fast?" She shook her head. "But seriously, I just go with the stream. Now I know that might seem a bit religious to one of the Imperial persuasion, but it's older than that.' She flicked her hand - the one that had snatched up the credit chip earlier ... and a Sabacc card appeared there. Valeria must have had it up the sleeve of the Corellian leather jacket she wore over her Thinsuit. The card was the Wheel, representative of the element of chance in all things. Sabacc cards were randomized when they were in the process of a game, but reverted to their default positions when not under power. "I just take things as they come."

Kerrie needed another drink after that exchange and against her better judgment she signaled the server droid who brought her a third mug of the Corellian ale. She took a long swig that left a foam mustache upon her upper lip that she did not seem to care about. "I ... work for a powerful man," she began, as her eyes darted around the room to see if she recognized any ISB agents that could be eavesdropping. Such conversations were not for the feint of heart. "He arranged a rank and title for me in the hope that it would result in better treatment for me by my Imperial colleagues," she said, as she took an overly ambitious drink of her ale. " hasn't," she concluded, finishing the drink and slamming the empty mug back down on the table. "It's better than what I was doing," she was quick to add, so as not to make it seem all too bleak.

She leaned forward, curious. "Can't you, uh, you know...send them to the brig? Or an airlock for that matter? You're an Imp now. They do that." Valeria's voice dropped as her shoulders raised in a shrug. "Or so I hear." With another flick of her wrist that card would vanish again. She must have been a blast at dinner parties with tricks like those.

Kerrie nodded her head, as she leaned in closer as well. One of the patrons looked perhaps too familiar, but she was the paranoid type. "I'd be lying if I said I haven't dispatched one or two of them ... but too many people go missing aboard a Star Destroyer and questions get asked..." she pointed out as gloved hands rubbed nervously against one another. "Look. You can play around all you want, but you're in a warzone now. It's not like it used to be a few years ago. These Rebels mean business. You really need to watch your back and becareful or that credit chip is going to end up paying for a funeral..." she warned, with genuine concern as her mind flashed over all of the setbacks the Empire had faced in the past year and a half.

"If it puts your mind at ease, I'll be careful. Say..." Valeria wrinkled her small, cute nose. "...anyone ever tell you you're a bit softhearted for an Imperial?" Catching a hint, she would spare a shift eye towards the crowd at an opportune time, trying to confirm that no one was watching them.

"The Empire is many things to many people, but above all it is a mindless bureaucracy," Kerrie explained as she looked across the table at the woman. She had not changed much it seemed since she knew her, however she herself seemed to have changed dramatically. "If anything happens to you ... I have to explain the loss of 10,000 of His Majesty's credits..." she stated, rather bluntly as the smile returned to her carefully mimicked human lips.

"And the demise of a wild card? I'll offer this one for free. If I bite it, say you did it to remove a variable from whatever equation you're working here in this sector." Valeria shook her head, still grinning. "It wouldn't be that much of a stretch. I have a personal stake in my continued wellbeing, so I'm kind of hoping it doesn't turn out like that."

"One last thing," Kerrie added, as she rose from the table, having already spent too long a time sitting there with the woman. Her hand slipped into a pouch and produced a small datadisk which she lay on the table in front of Valeria. "This will get you through the blockade of Ralltiir. That's a good place to get started..." she informed her, as she turned and began walking towards the exit. She stopped in her tracks before turning on her heels and offering her one last courteous smile. "It was ... it was nice seeing you again," she said, with genuine sincerity. The Clawdite commando had always had a hard time making lasting friendships in her line of work.

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