Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Liz Dorner and Christopher Levy.
Zero years after the Battle of Yavin (35:8:13) in the Ringali nebula: Ringali Station.
Commander Derek Atio and Parka Pepper.

Deep within the confines of the Ringali Nebula, a converted gas mining station was a well hidden, but cramped, home to a small, but valiant, Rebel Sector Force. The aging station was in desperate need of major repairs and any civilized government would have long since condemned it. However, the Rebellion in this sector were both poorly funded and equipped, and the makeshift repairs that kept the station from imploding had held for yet another day. In the docking bay Commander Derek Atio was standing next to a broken down Y-wing, impatiently awaiting the return of Parka Pepper. She had been out of contact for quite some time and as a result the situation with Jelena had come to a head, and he did not look forward to being the one to break the news to her. The middle-aged portly figure had seemed to have slimmed down some, and quite unexpectedly his uniform was clean and his boots shown indication of having been shined. Perhaps most surprising of all the smell of alcohol on his breath ... a common scent since adolescence ... was gone, the result of a new overbearing Chief of Staff that had berated him mercilessly for his unkempt appearance and unprofessional mannerisms.

It wasn't long before a spec appeared on the horizon, growing larger and larger into the waspish shape of a Hornet-class Interceptor, the Pepper Spray. With the proper clearances out of the way, the sleek starfighter set down on the floor of the landing bay, looking like it had seen better days. Ticking as it cooled, the craft opened and the figure of one young Hapan female emerged. Grey and black-flecked eyes scanned over the only soul around, Derek, and a gloved hand wistfully tossed a few of the platinum blonde braided dreadlocks over her shoulder before striding towards him. "You're my welcome party huh? Damn. Was hoping for a little more," a half-grin appeared on her lips.

No matter how much of an ass chewing the new Chief of Staff might have given him, nothing could suppress the feeling of warmth that filled him whenever Parka was around ... particularly when she had been gone for such a long while. "Unfortunately, there aren't too many of us left," he said grimly, as he took several eager steps towards her in a way that gave in to his base impulses. "While you were away the Empire nearly leveled Ralltiir. We lost a lot of good people down there. Got out as many as I could..." his voice trailed off, as he awkwardly broke eye contact and kicked his strangely clean boot upon the durasteel deckplating. "Not nearly enough," he concluded, with a strong hint of bitterness as he angrily clenched his teeth. "So. How was your trip?" he asked, quickly changing the subject for both their sakes, as he forced his head back up to look at her once more, the smile somehow finding its way back onto his face as he basked in her presence.

"Sorry to hear that." The lengthy duration of Parka's last assignment was evident. She was quiet for a moment, wearing an unflattering flight suit as opposed to her usual mini skirts, arm bands and heels. "It's probably all just a matter of time before they show up here peddling beauty products," she frowned. Turning to glance over her shoulder at her ship, Parka's shoulders shrugged a bit. "Trip was good. Mustered up a few more members for the alliance, but the Empire is cracking down everywhere. Upping the ante." Parka began tugging off her gloves one finger at a time. "My ship needs work though. Barely got out of one little encounter, and as you can see," a hand swept towards the Pepper Spray, "it wasn't without. That hyperdrive was rigged in by a guy who knew a guy. Since it's totally custom and not normally on these, not sure how I'm gonna work on it." Shuffling towards the entryway, Parka offered a somber grin, a rather peculiar sentiment for the otherwise roguish and rowdy defected Hapan. "Don't let it go to your head or anything, but glad to see you alive and well..." she paused, "...and cleaned up a bit it seems."

A low, barely audible groan of displeasure rumbled from deep inside Derek before escaping from between his tightly closed lips. "You noticed?" he asked, as his hands moved to his clean and intact uniform jacket, opening slightly to show that even the shirt that was layered beneath was clean. "New Chief of Staff in town to give the Sector Force a figurative kick in the ass ... following the literal kick in the ass the Empire gave us down on Ralltiir," he explained, sounding quite resentful as he confided in her, but spoke quietly in case anyone else might attempt to eavesdrop. "Better to be an independent contractor like yourself and not have to worry about rules and regulations like the rest of us," he complained, turning to look over his shoulder to see if anyone might be there ... slightly paranoid from the sobriety. "I can take a look at your hyperdrive if you like, as it seems I won't be able to hang out at the bar anytime soon," he laughed, shaking his head, as he took a look past her towards the Pepper Spray.

"I love it when you talk dirty," Parka laughed momentarily. "No rush on it. I hope anyway. And I'm not sure about this contractor stuff. Contractors get paid," she pointed out jokingly. "I assume you've got another project for me lined up on the books already? Gotta fill me in. I feel out of the loop."

Derek was tempted to ignore her question for the time being and dive right into the barely there hyperdrive, but then thought better of it. It was clear by his body language and silence that something was amiss, and the color was beginning to retreat from his normally rose colored cheeks like the Rebels of Ralltiir. "There's been a ... complication," he stumbled over the words with the familiarity of his previous drunkenness. Unwilling to face her, he knelt down and grasped a hydrospanner before opening an access hatch on the forward end of the Pepper Spray to begin a careful examination of the hyperdrive. The work would allow himself to become distracted enough to where he would not have to focus on the news, and perhaps she might simply let it go ... but he realized the chance of that was nigh on impossible.

"When did you become qualified to work on black market mods?" Parka canted her head skeptically. "And more complicated than our situation? More complicated than the Empire playing hardball?" She was quiet for a moment as she mulled it around in her head. "Complication with me? Something I did?"

"I'll have you know I've been working on bla-" Derek began boastfully, before a surge of energy from a power circuit traveled down through the hydrospanner and then through his body giving him a decent jolt. "Ah!" he groaned in pain, before tossing the hydrospanner aside and shakily rising back to his feet, blissfully ignorant of the fact that every hair on his body was now standing on end. "Yeah, maybe I'll have Tashi look at it..." he stammered, shaking off the malfunction as he began to shift to the matter at hand. "It seems the little princess took matters into her own hands whilst you were away..." he began, nervously, bringing his right hand up to the top of his head where he began, unsuccessfully, trying to flatten his hair. "She ended up frying her bodyguard and broadcasting a holonet message to the entire region letting everyone know that tidbit you told her about the Empire being behind the destruction of Alderaan..." he explained, snickering slightly at the absurdity of it all. "I didn't know the kid had it in her. Well, by some miracle she made it out alive ... but old pops went nuts and launched a full scale blockade of Esseles trying to pin her down. It's been a real nightmare for us operationally. About the only place we're operating now is Rhinnal ... the one planet they've seemed to have overlooked given how popular they are there," he explained, with a firm nod of his head, as he finished moving back to his original position. "Took some doing, but we have her now. Of course she's none too happy with our unaccommodating accommodations ... but hey you don't join the Rebellion for the luxe life," he laughed, as he looked around at the broken down mining stations with makeshift repairs all around and lighting that seemed to only work when it wanted to.

One of Parka's brows arched as she digested the news, intrigued. At long last, she exhaled. "Well, I'm not surprised she jumped ship. We saw that coming. I saw that coming. She was already in pocket anyway for the most part, considering all the meetings she and I had to swap info. And the family situation was a ticking time-bomb. Claudius Rodney is a violent-prone drunk who beat up on Major Kiley more than once, and keeps a Hapan wife withering in his Imperial grip like a flower in a concrete bunker. It was just a matter of time..." Parka rubbed at a cheekbone lightly. "I'm a bit surprised she went out in such a way though. Frying her bodyguard?" Parka put the pieces together. "Kerrie? Major Kiley? Jelena always defended Kerrie." Another respite in the conversation left her scrutinizing the data internally repeatedly. "Did Kerrie survive?"

Derek was pleased with how well Parka seemed to take the development, and found some humor in her witty analysis of Jelena's former domestic situation. "Unfortunately, we have no idea what's going on behind the scenes over there," he explained, shaking his head with some discouragement. "As Jelena was our main link to intelligence from their high command her defection has abruptly terminated that link," he correctly pointed out, which had his superiors none to pleased as they would rather the flow of information continue rather than have a minor propaganda victory. "The Governor has not been seen in public since the incident. He seems to be holed up on the command ship throwing a fit over this. Can't say I blame him," he chuckled, remembering back to his brief service under him during the Clone Wars and how his perfectionist mindset would cause him discomfort when they deviated from his carefully laid out plans.

Parka froze and turned. "Not necessarily...Rodney's wife, the Hapan," she offered. "I met her when Kerrie hauled me in front of Rodney one night." She thought on it and leaned in closer towards Derek, lowering her voice considerably. "Did you ever catch wind of rumors that Rodney's wife was suspected of treason and interrogated by ISB?"

"Yeah. Unfortunately it sounded like the Hapan took the fall for Jelena ... but at least it kept her cover from being blown," Derek coldly calculated as he thought briefly about the Governor's lovely wife ... but not long enough that it would be noticed and risk invoking Parka's jealousy. It was then that his eyes widened sharply and it became instantly clear that he had just remembered something important. "Oh. That's one bit of good news I forgot in all this mess," he said happily, nodding his head emphatically as a smile returned to his face. "Someone took out the ISB sector chief ... Zevrin ... not sure who ... wasn't us. The whole ISB is apparently in disarray," he cheerfully informed her, noting that was arguably the biggest factor in Jelena being able to escape Esseles unscathed.

Parka's face brightened. "Well that *is* some good news. It could only be better if it was perpetrated from within the Empire. The whole culture is pretty cut-throat and there's nothing better than a good backstabbing to gain promotion. Where is Jelena now?"

"Three levels down. Just listen to the sound of a noblewoman whining ... you can't miss it," Derek pointed out with an uncontrollable laugh, as he was being quite serious. The spoiled Alderaanian had lived in lavish accommodations her entire life ... even when aboard one of her father's warships ... and she had not taken to her cramped, dirty accommodations at all. "And she's got herself a new bodyguard care of her grandparents who is as warm and pleasant as the one the Imperials gave her," he said, rolling his eyes in a mocking gesture, before stepping aside.

Parka placed a hand over her chest. "What kind of friend would I be if I didn't drop in and say hello," she grinned before pivoting on her heels and heading off towards the corridor. "I'm off to the head for a shower and a change. Lemme know what Tashi says about the ship," she called absently over her shoulder.

"Good luck. I'll get her right on it," he shouted after her, before turning to look around the now empty hangar bay. "And stay out of sector six. Last I heard there's been a rupture and it's venting into space again ... lost two astromechs and a Bothan!" he warned her, before moving off towards the nearest lift where he could reach the docking ring that would lead to the Argo. "We really miss the astromechs," he said with a wicked sense of humor to no one but himself, finding himself in quite the good humor now that Parka had returned.

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