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
"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
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
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. "...to 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
"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. "...it 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.