Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Liz Dorner and Christopher Levy.
Zero years before the Battle of Yavin (35:3:3) in the Essesia system: Esseles (Nuralle: Togatto Speedway),
Major Kerrie Kiley, Agent Parka Pepper, and Lady Jelena Rodney.

Jelena had been distant and withdrawn since learning the truth about Major Kiley's injuries, barely eating and finding it impossible to look her father in the eyes. She had told neither him nor Kerrie that she knew the truth, and did the best to hide her thoughts from her unsuspecting sisters. And so she had returned to the Togatto Speedway in Nuralle, which had become her regular meeting place for her contact within the Rebel Alliance. By now this was becoming an old habit. There were no longer any nerves involved.

Seemingly out of nowhere, the lean and exotic figure of Parka Pepper emerged, dropping gracefully into a chair at the table which Jelena occupied. As usual, her outfit was stylish, provocative in the right places and barely there in others. She again, sported a pair of high-end sunglasses. She gazed out at the track leisurely, addressing Rodney without looking at her "Decided to rethink the vacuum?"

"I understand what you people are trying to do now..." Jelena commented coldly as she avoided eye contact with the Rebel Agent. When she learned what her father was capable of it shattered her, and was one of the last steps in pushing her over towards the Rebellion. "I want to help more..." she admitted, finally turning to look up at her, tears welling up in the corner of her eyes. It had been an overwhelming several days for her with little sleep and no nourishment. She was cracking.

Parka's head swiveled to the right to peer across the table at Jelena, pushing her sunglasses up to rest atop her head. After a long pause of evaluating the slightly younger girl, she commented quietly "What's going on?"

"Things are not what I thought they were..." an emotionally exhausted Jelena Rodney admitted to Parka, looking down at the ground quickly to avoid eye contact with so many tears in her eyes. The young, somewhat spoiled noblewoman had been taught such a hard lesson in life, and it was not one she was fully prepared for.

"What things?" Parka asked evenly, still gazing at Jelena, unyielding in intensity.

"My father..." Jelena stated weakly, her voice trembling in unbearable agony as she tried to get the words out. She was humiliating herself in this very public forum, but thankfully the degenerate gamblers were all too focused on the race to pay any mind to a hysterical young girl.

Parka had become accustomed to the youth spilling a little of her soul here and there. She still remained motionless. "Yes..?"

"He is a monster..." Jelena said, unable to accept that she said the word, but she knew it was true and her body began to shake. She could not believe that she had told this stranger such a horrible thing about her own flesh and blood. She felt awful for doing so, but had no one else to talk to.

"Oh..? Why is that" she continued to draw her out.

"He...he...he beat a woman to within an inch of her life..." Jelena said in absolute horror, wondering if he was capable of doing it to her, or to her late mother. She had wondered if he had done it to Htaere. The thoughts running to her mind had corrupted her dream into nightmares. She started to shake rather noticeably, but getting it off her chest helped.

It was an effort on Parka's part to say the name, though there appeared faint traces of sympathy in her voice. "Major Kiley?"

Jelena nodded her head three times, unable to speak as the tears continued to flow from her face and she struggled to breath. There were no words to express what she was feeling or the horror of it all. Her view of the entire galaxy had been turned upside down and she could not set herself right.

Parka let her get it out, not making any snide remarks or unsolicited interjections. A long time passed without comment. Finally she spoke, her voice quiet and smooth, with an almost soothing nuance to it. "And what are you upset about specifically? The fact that someone came very close to dying? Or that he was capable of it, period?"

"The fact that he was capable of it," Jelena admitted as she envisioned the many horrible ways in which such an event might have transpired. Htaere seemed content to blame it on alcohol, but to Jelena there was no excuse that was acceptable.

"Disappointment in people is inevitable, including the ones you idolize" she commented gently. "And anyway, that whole situation is beyond complicated. I would not even try to touch it if I was you." She leaned back slightly in her chair to get comfortable.

"I actually have something to report this time," Jelena added as she raised her sleeve to her face to crudely wipe the tears and mucus that had formed in her earlier bouts of hysterics. She needed to try and regain her composure or this would have all been for nothing.

"Alright" Parka acknowledged. "What'cha got?"

"The Empire has sent something called an 'Inquisitor' to assist my father in his campaign against the Rebels..." Jelena revealed to Parka, the confrontation with her still vivid in her head. Truthfully, she had no an idea what an Inquisitor was, but she certainly knew that she despised this particular one.

"An 'Inquisitor'?" Parka repeated. The term sounded awful, and it conjured up bad mental images of torture and interrogation for some reason. "That sounds very...official" she mulled it over, wondering if bringing in the 'heavy artillery' was a good or bad thing for the current Imperial administration in the Ringali Shell. "What does the Inquisitor do?"

"I heard the Inquisitor took someone's head off, but I really don't know," Jelena explained as she shifted uncomfortably in her chair. Truthfully, she did not want to know much about things like beheadings. "It has been hard to...hard to my father lately," she admitted, the original issue coming back to the forefront of the conversation. She shook her head at herself, wondering if she was cut out for this sort-of thing.

Parka filed away the pieces of information neatly before canting her head. "And why do you suppose that is?" She narrowed her eyes and shrugged her shoulders. "Maybe you 'can' think of a list of reasons why. Think of all the things you 'hate' about him...all the things that bug you...that ride your must be so easy" she tempted her. "It will make you feel so much better to rid yourself of the guilt that shouldn't exist."

"I can't look him in the eye anymore, Parka," Jelena explained as she tried to think about any other relevant information she might have seen or overheard. It had all been so difficult lately and she had not been proving herself as a very effective spy. "I will try..." she said as she began to look around at the crowd. The races were dwindling and the crowd's attention would soon find itself elsewhere, perhaps on her.

"Because he's a liar? Because he's Imperial? Because he's your dad?" she offered up, dropping her sunglasses back down over her eyes and glancing out at the race track. "Maybe because he married a girl your age? Or you feel neglected?"

"Please stop..." Jelena said pathetically, having had to face it all by herself for so long. She let out a tired sigh and rose from the seat suddenly, wondering why she even came. "Look ... I told you all that I know..." she said as she began to move away from the table. Raising the hood of her cloak up over her head, she began to cry as she hurried towards the shuttle that would return her to the estate that was more like a prison than a home.

Once it appeared Jelena had fled the scene, Major Kerrie Kiley lowered her head, preparing to make her move. Posed as an Iridonian Zabrak she was easily able to follow the young girl to the raceway and observe her meeting with Parka. It had been a long time since she had an opportunity to use this skill-set and she fondly remembered her days as a bounty hunter. With her face now obscured she quickly shifted her form into that of the young and determined Human female most around her took as her natural state. The shapeshift complete, she hurried swiftly towards the table where Parka was seated, not wanting to give her a chance to evade. Her gloved hand curled over the handle of her polished KYD-21, but she did not draw. Instead, she simply tilted her head to the left and smiled down at the Hapan. "I had a feeling I had not seen the last of you, Miss Pepper," her voice equally matched the smugness plastered upon her face.

Parka's silvery pools narrowed from behind her dark glasses on the familiar and venomous voice of her arch rival. She managed a tight lipped and somewhat unhappy grin. "Well, well. Major Kiley. Alive and in the flesh. What a treat" she mumbled.

The familiar face of the Human-appearing Major had seen better days, as even though she had received sound medical treatment there was obvious signs of bruising around her nose and jaw. Clearly, she had been beaten. "There is a unit of Storm Commandos outside. One move of my hand and they will kill you," Kerrie warned as she moved closer, sliding out the chair Jelena had occupied and taking a seat on it. She was lying, for if she had told any other member of the Empire her reason for being here, Jelena would surely be imprisoned.

"Wouldn't be the first time..." Parka commented leisurely. She turned her head slowly to look at the other woman, the fingers of one hand nimbly lifted to pluck her sunglasses off. She stared Kerrie down with a solid gaze, evaluating what she looked like after all these stories Jelena was carrying on about. "I'm so glad you could take time out of your busy domestic violence schedule to say hello" she reciprocated with smugness of her own.

Kerrie raised her right index finger towards Parka and wagged it disapprovingly, not at all amused by her 'domestic violence' comment. The truth of the matter was far more complicated, but this was neither the time nor the place nor the person to discuss the matter with. "I do not want you to bother than girl any further," she said as she leaned forward slightly, her two blue eyes glaring across the table with newfound intensity as she spoke.

"Afraid I'm a bad influence?" Parka drummed her fingernails on the table top, unimpressed as usual.

"You are alive for one reason, Miss Pepper," Kerrie sad as her eyes rolled down towards her blaster pistol before locking eyes with the Hapan once again. "...if I kill you ... the Rebel scum will just send another Agent to harass Jelena," she explained knowingly as she realized the futility of the situation. "This girl should not be caught up in this," she said as she folded her arms in front of her chest and leaned back.

Parka wove her fingers together and leaned back casually. "Here's what 'I' think" she began, fixing Kerrie with a cool stare of her own. "I think, that you need to get your own shit together and let her grow up and be her own person" she continued. "I don't harass shit. She comes to me to get away from the rest of you" she grinned. "Apparently it's like a freak circus on your end."

Kerrie could not stand to hear Parka describe those around her in such a way and she instantly lost what little composure she had and rose from the table with an audible huff. "Listen," she stammered as she searched for the right word, her mimicked Human flesh reddening with anger, her gloved hands balling into fists. "Do not go near that girl again," she warned, her heart pounding out of her chest and her breathing becoming more strained.

Parka exhaled noticeably, finding communication with the Major to be so frustrating. "Your name is Kerrie?" she asked solidly, rubbing her forehead to soothe it.

Kerrie stood there for a long moment, her expression blank as she listened to the woman's response, which seemed to have nothing to do with the conversation. "What?" was all she said, shaking her head not so much at the woman but at the situation.

Parka pulled her attention from her nail polish to the Imperial, gazing at her curiously. "Sit down, Kerrie. Take a moment to get hold of yourself. Look at you. You're near hysterics..." she said, head canting to the side. After a moment she leaned forward and rested her chin in the palm of her hand, elbow propped up on the table top. "Can I ask you something?"

Kerrie let out a frustrated sigh and grabbed the back of the chair, pulling it a slight distance away from Parka. Sliding down onto the chair she tried her best not to look at the woman, ignoring the fact that she was quite right about her current situation. "Unlike my 'friend' who just left I don't give information to Rebel scum..." she replied angrily, shaking her head at the traitor.

"...and yet, you sat down..." Parka remarked. "Interesting." She lifted both her hands, sprawling her fingers open to show the Major she was empty handed. "Relax a moment. I'm the least of your worries right now" she said. "And anyway, I'm not asking you for that kind of silliness. I'm not interested in politics at the moment."

"I could be put to death just for looking at you," Kerrie explained bitterly, wondering what she was doing here. It would be more efficient to talk to Jelena, but far less comfortable. She let out a tired sigh, catching her battered reflection in a pool of standing water in the disgusting speedway. "...what is your question?" she asked, her hand coming up to her face to poke at the bruises as she examined the reflection.

"...and yet, here you sit...interesting indeed" Parka scrutinized the woman closely, her strange black-flecked gaze unwavering in magnitude. "Tell me you landed at least a few good ones too."

Kerrie reached down and pulled the glove from her left hand, revealing swollen fingers, with broken skin around the knuckles. In reality, they were from hours of assaulting a punching bag to keep her focus and purge her emotions, but she would not let Parka know the man beat her without so much as a slap on her part. She swallowed, looking down, and offering no verbal reply.

"I find it pretty doubtful that you punched that old man. You're too afraid of him." It was not a question. Parka let any potential sarcasm flicker away, finding no need for it at the moment. "So...the question still begs...why? What exactly does that guy have on you that you tolerate that?" Parka was genuinely curious. That kind of submission was unheard of in Hapes. No woman ever conceded to a man, even if it was she in the wrong. It just wasn't done. The idea of being not only controlled by dominated by a male was unreal.

Kerrie slid the glove back onto her hand, somehow feeling more comfortable knowing her scarred hands were out of sight. She turned to look at the woman as she asked the question, but knew she should not be having this kind of discussion with her. If anyone saw her here they would think she was the spy ... she was playing a dangerous game trying to protect Jelena. "He... he is all that I have," she explained in vagaries, knowing that giving this 'woman' a window into her soul would make her mission a more complicated one.

Parka evaluated her long and hard. "If you say so. But I digress..." she pursed her lips. "Here's the problem...I can't have you reporting my contact or jeopardizing her existence."

"If I report your contact they will imprison her..." Kerrie informed her, very bleakly, shaking her head in disgust. "...or worse," she added, having been interrogated and torture by the Imperial Security Bureau she knew all to well what the Empire was capable of. "I have sworn an oath to protect her that comes above all else. I can not allow them to find out," she explained as she revealed the absurdity of the situation. "That is why you must stop meeting with her," she explained in a clear, calm voice, imploring the woman to listen to reason.

Parka leaned forward speaking quietly, and finding a bit of amusement in this whole thing. "What is that smell? Could it be? Another traitor...hmm..."she remarked. "So should I bring you an application? Oh, and by the way, 'she' is the one who decides when to meet. My job is just to come running when she calls" she said leaning back again.

"I am no traitor," Kerrie yelled angrily as she again lost her composure and slammed her fist angrily down upon the small metal table. "I would protect her no matter whom she chose to give her allegiance to," she explained, not wanting the Hapan to think her loyalty could so easily sway. "You do not need to come when she calls," she explained to her, wishing that she could find some way to reason with her.

For the first time ever, there was a total lack of humor of sarcasm. "Do not yell at me again" she muttered sourly. "It would not be in your best interest." She let the gravity of the statement linger a moment longer before her composure relax again. "'She' has chosen her allegiance. The only debate around here is the one inside 'you', regarding where all of this leaves 'you'."

"I will yell at whomever I want, whenever I want," Kerrie said angrily as she sneered at the arrogant young Hapan, sliding the chair back to stand once again. "If she follows you it will bring only suffering and death. I cannot allow that," she said as she began to turn her back to her to return to the estate. "If you will not listen to me ... then perhaps she will," she said in exasperation, once again becoming quite flustered. She seemed to have quite the difficult time around this thorn in her side.

Parka looked pleasantly surprised. "Oh by the do have a little bit of a temper hidden under there somewhere..." She paused if only for a second. "The idea has never appealed to you of being in a situation where you don't have to 'hide' who you really are...where you don't have to...conform...unnaturally..."

Kerrie was about to leave when the woman's words struck her painfully, causing her to stop dead in her tracks. She did not turn, but instead the already small woman seemed to sink into herself. Her head lowered dejectedly and she began to shake ever so slightly. She did not allow herself to cry in front of her nemesis. "I..." she began, but stopped herself.

Parka stood from her chair, taking a moment to stretch slightly. "Hey, I get it. You're obligated or some shit. Yeah I get that" she said reaching for her sunglasses. "I also get that you can walk away from your identity and the cast you were born into if you dare to try. Everyone's gotta figure out who they 'really' are...right?" There was a pause as she slipped the glasses back on. "I'm sure you made the right choice" she called over her shoulder as she slipped away, disappearing almost instantly into the flow of pedestrian traffic.

Kerrie stood there for several moments allowing the crowd in the speedway to bump her aside rather than move out of the way on her own volition. Finally, she moved at a slow pace back towards the speeder that would return her to the Rodney Estate on the other side of the planet. Although she had threatened Parka, she would not actually go through with talking to Jelena about the issue. She had failed in her first attempt to fix the 'Jelena problem.' It would not be her last.

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