Major Min Traebor, an attractive woman in her
late-thirties who wore the maroon uniform of Imperial Intelligence
meandered through one of the ubiquitous corridors of the Star Destroyer
Warspite. Her black hair flowed straight to her neck line,
perfectly in line with Imperial regulations. There was a determined look
about her, letting all of those around her know that she was not to be
disturbed. Her steps became faster, more hurried, as she realized the
time. She was late ... and for whom she was going to meet that was
unacceptable. Turning the corner, she entered into one of the private
communication suites, which she had arranged to be unoccupied.
Traebor was indeed late and the signal to begin
receiving the transmission had already been beeping for several moments.
The holoprojector in the center of the room flared to life and the image
of Ysanne Isard, daughter of the Director of Imperial Intelligence,
slowly flickered into focus. There was a genuine physical similarity
between the two, save for the streak of white hair that was a genetic
trait belonging to the Isard family. She had counted the seconds the
Major was late and already she was glaring at the junior officer.
"Report," was her one word order.
Major Traebor lowered her head obediently before
beginning to pass on the knowledge she had learned over the past weeks.
"There have been no further updates on the status of the lost datadisk,"
she began, stating simply. "It is our conclusion that it has fallen into
the hands of the Rebellion," she continued, clearly stating her
assumptions. "Since we have arrived in the Malastare system there has
been no activity worth reporting," she concluded, using no unnecessary
words. The Major had a way of stating things efficiently and to the
Isard considered the words carefully, letting no
facial expression convey her thoughts to the junior officer. "So we are
no closer to learning the traitor's identity then? Pity," she stated in
mock disappointment. She had long since come to the conclusion that
Admiral Rodney himself was the traitor and it was long past time to deal
with him. "Next month you travel to Alderaan for Admiral Rodney's
wedding. Correct?" she asked her, tilting her head towards the Major.
"Yes. The Admiral invited everyone on his staff and
protocol dictates that I attend," Major Traebor added. Privately, she
disdained such functions, but her absence would have been noticed and a
woman in her line of work cannot afford to be noticed.
"See that the Admiral does not return from his
honeymoon, Major," Isard commanded in a loud, clear voice. Unless she
removed Admiral Rodney from command one of her best field operatives
would be stuck watching the pod races on Malastare. That was a resource
she could not afford to waste. "...and Major, if you blunder this
operation and it leads back to you," she warned in a stern voice as the
holographic image glared, "...I will disavow you and let the Admiral's
guard dog deal with you." Without allowing the Major to utter another
word the transmission abruptly terminated and the holographic image of
Isard faded away.
Traebor swallowed deeply, her throat bulging through the
tight collar of her uniform. As she contemplated what had transpired, a
cunning smile began to curl upon her face. This was the opportunity she
had waited for.
*Thud* the right foot of Major Kerrie Kiley connected
with a punching bag in the Warspite's athletic facility, where
she spent so much of her free time training and expending her energy.
She was glad to have returned to the ship since the end of her exile to
Gateway Space Station. Those that knew her were inclined not to disturb her
during the time she spent there.
Unfortunately for her, Min Traebor had not yet gotten
a chance to meet Major Kiley, and so when she learned that she was
training in the gymnasium she did not hesitate to move swiftly to its
location on the lower deck of the massive Star Destroyer. She stood
there silently, watching from the corner of the large room for quite
some time. She was impressed, but disappointed that Imperial
Intelligence had not gotten their claws into her at some point.
"Impressive," she said coldly, her gloved hands clapping with approval
as she strode towards her.
Kerrie stopped her workout as she looked over to the
woman, hunching over slightly as she tried to catch her breath. She was
breathing rapidly, and her mimicked Human flesh was flushed red. The
sweat was pouring off her now, the gray physical training gear she was
wearing darkened from sweat. "What do you want?" she asked, sounding
quite annoyed as she moved to her bag where she began to rummage for a
bottle of water.
"I have been reading your file, Major,"
confessed as she continued her forward progress towards her, now
standing barely two meters from her. "I was hoping you could assist me
with something," she explained, though deliberately not going into more
detailed information yet.
Kerrie raised herself back up, unscrewing the cap of
the bottle of water and holding it above her head. She poured it down
over her, letting the cold liquid run down her hair, which was braided
in two ornate ponytails, and over her face. She shook herself off like
an animal, cooling down as she gave the Major a questionable look.
"...what kind of assistance?" she asked coldly, her eyes moving back
towards the punching bag. She was missing her workout.
"You used to work as a bounty hunter,"
explained, stating what she had learned in the file. "I need a
recommendation. I have an assignment that needs to be outsourced. I want
someone skilled and subtle," she continued, taking another several steps
towards her. "Someone up to your level," she finished, offering what she
thought was a compliment.
Kerrie flashed her a concerned look, moving away from
her as she returned to the punching bag. "I don't talk about that time
of my life anymore," she informed her, taking a few moments to tape up
her hands before returning to her routine. After a moment her hands
began to connect with the bag, having been inspired by Min to recall
several bad memories to image while hitting the bag.
"Just a name, Major Kiley. Not a story..." Min
restated, trying again. She allowed her to move away from her,
respecting the animal inside of her and did not want to make her feel
caged. This was important and she could not take 'no' for an answer. Her
career, perhaps her life, were at stake.
Kerrie continued to hit the bag repeatedly, no longer
making eye contact with the Intelligence officer. She considered it for
a moment and eventually decided to help her, but only because anything
she could do to spite Major Zevrin and the Imperial Security Bureau
always brought her pleasure. "Seek out the Nerf Herder," she instructed
her, still working the bag.
"Thank you," Major Traebor said kindly, bowing slightly
as she hurried out of the gymnasium. A grin curled upon her face,
satisfied with the information she had received. Things were moving
forward and her plan would soon be in place. Now all she had to do was
find this 'Nerf Herder.'
Inside The Speakeasy, a bar of ill repute on the
planet Brentaal serving as a front for the Black Sun, Tosha Previn
waited patiently in one of the private rooms. For months now she had
been working as a liaison between her organization and the Empire, but
she still felt uneasy whenever a member of one of their more covert
services contacted her.
The door to the private room was opened by one of The
Speakeasy's staff, affording Major Traebor the ability to meet with
Tosha without having to touch anything. This was such a dirty place.
Gone was the uniform of Imperial Intelligence, instead replaced with an
elegant black dress covered by a dark cloak that shrouded her face and
most of her feminine form.
"You are not one of Commodore Tion's staff,"
commented abruptly, standing from the table with concern. Was this a
trap? ...a setup? Any number of possibilities raced through her mind as
she considered sounding the alarm.
Min raised her hand in a cool and collected manner,
forcing a smile onto her face to keep the Black Sun lieutenant at ease.
"I represent the previous administration," she explained calmly as her
hands moved to her head to pull the hood down to reveal her face.
"Previous..." Tosha repeated in a mumble, considering
her words carefully for a moment. She tilted her head to more closely
examine the woman, arching her brow. "You're one of Admiral Rodney's?"
she inquired after a moment, attempting to hurriedly piece the puzzle
together in her mind so she would no longer be at a disadvantage. She so
Min nodded politely to Tosha, acknowledging she
was correct in her assumption. Without asking permission, she glided
across the room towards the small bar that had been stocked for the
meeting. Her hands immediately went for the Whyren's reserve, arguably
the most expensive liquor in the room. Moving with the bottle and two
small glasses, she situated herself opposite Tosha at the table and
poured them each a drink. "Though, as you will find out, I am not here
on his behalf," she added as an insatiable grin curled upon her face.
Satisfied for the moment Tosha adjusted her dress
and sat back down at the table, accepting the drink ... she needed one.
The small glass of Whyren's was consumed in an instant, and she slid the
glass to the side of the table. One was enough until the business at
hand had been concluded. "How may we be of service?" she asked, still
sizing up her opponent.
"I am looking for someone," Min explained as she
finished her first glass of Whyren's. Unlike Tosha, she was quick to
pour herself a second glance, smiling over towards her as she did so.
She could handle no more alcohol than her, but she wanted to attempt to
present that she could. It was all about posturing in meetings such as
this. "All I have is a codename," she explained bitterly as she nursed
drink number two. "...the Nerf Herder," she said plainly, it not yet
having any meaning or significance to her.
"If you want him then I need that second drink,"
Tosha said coldly, her hand moving immediately towards the bottle. Her
hand shook slightly as she poured her second glass, some of the precious
liquids splattering out upon the table adjacent to the glass. "May I
ask..." she said, looking towards Traebor as she lifted the drink and
swiftly downed it, "...why you would go looking for that man?"
"A 'friend' told me that he was the man to get for
this sort of thing," Min explained as she finished her second drink.
She did pour a third, fearing inebriation would compromise her position.
"Do you disagree?" she asked, wondering in the back of her mind if Major
Kiley had set her up.
Tosha exhaled sharply as she put the glass back down
on the table. "No... No he's good all right..." she explained, breaking eye
contact to look up at the back wall for a bit. "...but in all the years
the Black Sun has worked with him, we have never gotten so much as his
initials," she explained as her face grew serious. She leaned across the
table now, moving closer towards Traebor's face. "...and believe me ... we've
tried," she concluded, her voice trembling with grave seriousness.
Min was not phased by the warning Tosha had given
her, in fact she was quite impressed. She leaned back in her chair,
folding her arms upon her chest, as she smiled back at the woman. "That
sounds exactly the sort I'm looking for," she stated confidently. Having
all the information she needed, she stood from the table and raised the
hood of her cloak back over her head. "Set up a meeting immediately,"
she instructed, turning her back to the woman. "Open this door," she
bellowed loud enough for the lackey standing outside to hear. A moment
later the door was opened and she disappeared back out into The
Tosha sat there for a moment, considering what had
transpired. She did not like working with the Nerf Herder. She preferred
working with individuals whose lives she could find out about. Who had
family and loves ones to move against in the event they failed or
double-crossed her. She had nothing on him, and she doubted she could.
But, high risk brought high reward and she considered the upside if
there was success. A reluctant smile curled upon her face as she
considered not informing Vigo Chall to these latest developments.
On the planet Esseles the Black Sun had constructed a
facility in conjunction with the Empire to house most of its cooperative
projects. It was this location, hidden within a shielded hangar deep
within the mountains on the northernmost continent, that Tosha Previn
had arranged the meeting between the Nerf Herder and the Empire. There
was an ill feeling in the pit of her stomach. "Perhaps he won't come..."
she speculated, trying to ease her tensions.
"He will come," Min said excitedly as she paced the
hangar, a smile never leaving her lips. Wearing her uniform again the
woman intertwined her two gloves hands and rubbed them in anticipation.
She felt as if she was on the verge of making her career, and it was
exhilarating. Then she saw it ... a black spec growing larger on the
horizon ... a ship was approaching.
Marcus Rodney sat in the cockpit of his modified G-1A
transport as he maneuvered through the atmosphere of Esseles. It had
been a long time since he had worked with the Black Sun and never this
deep in the Galactic Core before. He suspected something was different
this time and as he approached the remote mountain facility it had every
indication of a trap. He still could turn back, but there would be no
fun in that ... he liked a good mystery. Switching the small personal
craft over to its maneuvering thrusters, he entered the massive
structure and his eyes began probing the activity through the forward
viewport. "Imperials..." he muttered under his breath. He should have
known. As he touched the craft down upon the hangar deck he swung out of
his chair and began moving towards the rear of the craft.
Outside the craft Min waited, studying the
unremarkable transport. When she saw the markings she cocked her head
immediately towards Tosha. "...the ship?" she asked, sounding quite
puzzled as she said the words quickly.
"Yes," Tosha said with a nervous smile. "Some people
name themselves after the family pet," she said with a soft chuckle.
"...while some name themselves after their ships," she added as she walked
forward, taking a step in front of Min. She thought he might react
better to someone not wearing a uniform.
The ramp of the Nerf Herder descended, a
release of the pneumatic pressure causing a *hiss* sound as it moved
towards the deck. A moment later the sound of Marc's boots connecting
with the ramp echoed throughout the massive structure. His Human form
was covered in a set of brown Ubese tracker armor. Looking through the
visor of the helmet at the two women he touched his foot down on the
deck and stood silently before him.
"Master hunter," Tosha said with a kind smile and
deep bow. She would play the part well. She knew how delicate the
psyches of these men could be. As she rose she began to speak again when
she suddenly felt a push against her side.
Min stepped forward, interrupting her 'colleague'
as she physically pushed into her to step front and center. "It is a
pleasure to meet you," she said to the impressive looking figure, bowing
her head to him respectfully.
Marc stood silently in front of them. Neither had said
anything worthwhile yet. He was considered turning around and walking back
on the ship if all they were going to do was talk over one another and
push each other around.
"I have a task I would like you to perform,"
said quickly, sensing their first impression was turning sour. She would
waste no more time on her rivalry with Tosha, getting to the point at
"You will be well compensated," Tosha quickly chimed
in, offering him a reassuring smile. Credits ... these types always needed
credits, she thought to herself as she stood next to Traebor.
"In addition," Min continued as she looked around
the massive structure. "You will receive access to certain technologies
and resources we have been developing here," she explained, nodding her
head with a confident smile.
Tosha swallowed, speaking not a word. Min had not
discussed that point with her and she did not think it was a
particularly good idea. She knew enough, however, not to contradict her
in front of the bounty hunter
Marc listened to their propositioning and concluded
that this was a very important mission to each of them. That probably
meant there was a lot of risk involved. He also assumed, looking at
Min, that it would involve some Imperial entanglements. All of his
experience was telling him to walk away, but he would hear them out. He
raised his left hand, indicating he wanted silence. "What is the job?"
he asked, his voice scrambled by the Ubese tracker helmet.
"I need an Imperial officer eliminated," Min
explained to the bounty hunter, speaking in the same manner she would
have if she were asking for her walls to be painted. "I need it to be
done using methods used by the Rebellion," she continued to explain,
sharing the most basic details of her plan. "It should be done publicly
to harden public sentiment against these scum," she concluded, her
disdain for the Rebellion evident with each breath.
Tosha had not heard the plan in detail before and so
she stood silently, listening to each of Traebor's words. She shifted each
word in her head, looking for small nuggets of information she could use
toward her own end. She had a stake in this as well.
The job sounded easy enough to Marc. Already has brain
had formulated several methods he could use that would accommodate the
Intelligence officer's needs. Still, he thought it was best to avoid
entangling himself in internal Imperial business. Even if he succeeded
they might attempt to eliminate him to cover it up. If he failed the
entire might of the Empire would be sent against him for trying to
murder an Imperial officer. "Who is this man you wish me to kill?" he
asked through the Ubese helmet once again. He could not turn the job
down without knowing. Curiosity was his deadliest of habits.
Min could not help but smile, believing she had
intrigued the bounty hunter with what she considered to be a very
cunning plan. "Admiral Claudius Rodney," she informed him. "Commander of
Imperial forces in the Malastare system," she added, feeling that a name
alone was not enough for the hunter to form a clear picture in his mind.
Inside the suit of Ubese tracker armor, Marc was
floored by the news. They wanted him to assassination his own brother.
It proved to him that his years of keeping his identity a secret had
worked, for if they even suspected his identity they never would have
contracted him for this job. It was, however, the one Imperial job he
would take. "I will do it," he said coldly through the helmet. No
explanation, no details, no questions ... just a simple answer. That was
"Excellent," Min said as she extended her right
hand at patted the side of his arm cheerfully. "Hmm," she murmured as
she tilted her head to look at his armor closely. "We need to upgrade
this," she commented, looking over towards Tosha, shaking her head in
Tosha nodded in agreement to Min and turned to
the shadows, motioning for a couple of unseen Neimoidian technicians.
"Using armorweave technology we have developed a suit of molded body
armor," she explained as the technicians began conducting a bioscan of
his body. "It is quite adaptive and I think it will serve you well," she
concluded, nodding her head satisfactory as the technicians completed
their work and moved off into the darkness.
Marcus stood there as the creatures did their work. He
acknowledged the shortcomings in this suit of Ubese, and wore it more
for psychological reasons than practical ones. The prospect of cutting
edge armorweave appealed to him, so rather than blast the technicians
for daring to get close, he allowed them to do their work.
"Do you need any additional information?"
as she studied over her datapad, wondering if there was anything she
forgot to mention.
"No," Marc replied with but a single word as the
technicians returned and presented him the suit of armorweave. It was
dark, flexible, and seemed to be quite durable. All of the things that
she had advertised ... Marc was impressed. "I will report when the job is
finished," he said, offering a nod of his head before ascending the ramp
back into the Nerf Herder.
"I told you he'd do it," Min said proudly as she
turned to Tosha, a confident smile cutting a swath across her
attractive face. She felt as if they had succeeded already.
"Let's just hope we don't get more than we bargained
for..." Tosha warned as she turned to look at the transport one last
time before moving off with Traebor to celebrate with another bottle of
Once the Nerf Herder had maneuvered back into
Esseles' atmosphere, Marc slipped the Ubese helmet off his head to
reveal his attractive, early-forties, Human face. He sighed as he
considered what had happened, replaying the conversation in his head.
Old Claudius must have done something to get into this mess, he
speculated. Now it was up to him to get him out of it. And so he devised
his plan, to 'attempt' to murder his own brother using the methods they
had devised, but in a way that would assuredly fail. He had work to do.