Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
Zero years after the Battle of Yavin (35:8:28) in the the Alderaan system: Delaya (Leiliani: Rodney Castle) and in the Etti system: Etti IV (Mondder: Zara Ta'em's garage).
Lord Marcus Rodney, Zara Ta'em, and Toledo.

Zara Ta'em. That was the woman who had intoxicated his dreams more than the alcohol had intoxicated his reality. Marcus awoke from his sleep with a sudden gasp and flourish of excitement, opening his eyes in such a frenzied way that they would ache for the next several hours. Was she even real? he wondered to himself, surveying his surroundings, and noting he had not moved the entirety of the night. What a mess he was ... still in those dress pants from the party the evening before. The servants had yet to come and attend to the clothes that were scattered around his room, or the traces of dried vomit whose stench permeated through the refresher. He groaned in discomfort as the sunlight shone through the still open window, hurting his eyes, which he quickly shielded from further glare. He slowly made his way back into the refresher to begin the process of making himself once again a proper Delayan nobleman. Before entering the shower he activated the call button to alert the staff that they may now come and begin the process of cleaning up yet another one of his messes as they had done since he was a child.

There was a pleasant solitude when he was in the shower where he could be left alone with his thoughts. He was no longer a lord of Delaya, nor a bounty hunter, nor even a man ... there was just the solemnity of his thoughts that this day were dominated by the silver-haired angel who had momentarily appeared within his world. "Milord!" one of the servants shouted to get his attention and his look of comfort quickly turned into one of distress. What he had hoped would be a lengthy shower was cut short and he moved back to the bedchamber, wrapped only in a modest towel, his toned physique still dripping wet. "What is it?" he asked, angrily, in an upper class tone, as if to condemn the servant for having the audacity to interrupt his shower. He was not nearly as pompous, but for appearance sake he did what he must. "One of the antique chronometers has gone missing, milord," the humble servant responded, unable to make eye contact with the man, for fear of being accused of being the one that stole it. Angrily Marcus surged forward, brushing the servant himself to examine the contents of the box himself. "Have the rest of the castle searched," he demanded of the servant, but he knew it would be futile, and merely wanted an excuse to be left alone. "At once, milord," the servant weakly replied, before departing in a hurried manner in hopes of avoiding punishment.

"Zara..." Marcus uttered aloud, now knowing full well what had transpired the evening before. The chrono was a strange thing to steal for certain, he thought, as there were certainly far more valuable things within the chamber to steal. Perhaps she just did not know the value of the items and grabbed one she thought was pretty, but he doubted she was that simple. Or perhaps she felt she deserved compensation for their night ... others certainly had ... but he did not think that of her either. As he sat at his desk in nothing but the towel he connected to the HoloNet and began to scour for data on the young woman finding only that she was a Coruscanti who had fled following her father's Rebellious ties and now made residence within the Corporate Sector. Was a chrono worth a trip to the Corporate Sector? No. Was Zara Ta'em? Yes.

The planet Etti IV stood at the heart of Corporate Sector. A nexus of trade routes filled with both legitimate and illegitimate freighter pilots looking to profit off the lucrative business that had developed as a result of the civil war. Marcus thought it a likely placed to find a bounty ... or six ... as it had become a refuge to those humans looking to avoid the Empire without moving too far from civilization. He had tracked Zara to a small, but respectable shipwright that worked on some of the countless ships that passed through the system each day. He was certain they did business with all sorts and therefore decided to come armed ... a lot of unscrupulous individuals could think to make a credit off kidnapping him. He was dressed in a darker attire, not quite fit for bounty hunting, but still far from what he would wear in the luxurious dwellings of the Core. As he stepped forward into the facility he immediately felt dirty and imagined himself needing a bath for a week to rid himself of the hydraulic fluid, grease, and other liquids that were seemingly everywhere. This was exactly the type of place he would have taken his unregistered transport to for work, but that was a different life, and he was here to see about a girl ... not a ship. He could see a figure lying on the ground beneath a ship intently working on a repair. At first glance the person would have been overlooked as just another grease monkey, but her form was unmistakable and he knew at once it had to be her. He intentionally knocked over a hydrospanner onto the ground to make a loud noise, and then folded his arms in front of his chest with a playful grin as he waited for her to spring to life.

He was really here. It hadn't even been two days since she teased him and imprinted herself into his mind. She watched him curiously while the distance between them became less and less. Zara snickered and giggled. His confident, cocky joke was refreshing. "Why thank you. I honestly haven't heard that one before. I suppose you dig the boiler suit too?" Zara felt an odd reaction inside of her the closer he came; her heart started to thump rapidly. Her body felt warmer than it had previously. It always seemed to be varying levels of hotter than hell inside of the shop. That's why he was sweating too, right? The man was significantly taller than her five-two form. Her eyes remained on his. She sense no malicious intent in his actions. He hadn't come here angry. He hadn't even mentioned the chrono immediately. Zara let herself entertain the idea that he had come here for her alone.

His movements were possessive and confident...two qualities he enjoyed. In his mind, he had already explored her bare body. Zara knew better. This was the first time his hands had free reign over her little body, which, in return, nuzzled against the front of his body. Her arms loosely draped around his neck. As long as he didn't care about her destroying his clothing, she really didn't care either. He was the instigator, after all. Zara was an innocent bystander. Yup! She clenched her little rear end in his hands. He came in to kiss her slowly enough that she had plenty of time to avoid it...or to anticipate it with her heart beating quicker and quicker. Their lips met in a soft kiss. Zara was shy at first. It seemed like she was still anticipating the moment when this would all end...the moment when he'd shed his friendly mask and hurt her. Her eyes closed. Both of her hands pressed against the back of his head. Her fingers ran through his hair slowly. Well, well. This wasn't bad. Not bad at all.

The moment his lips pressed against hers he knew he had not kissed this woman before. Surely he would have remembered that. The kiss felt like it lasted an eternity, but in reality it was only for the briefest of moments. As Marcus pulled his face reluctantly from hers his eyes once again opened and that lovely visage once again filled his field of vision. He was hungry for her ... hungry in a way that scared as it made him lose control. He was rough with her in the heat of passion, and quickly had her down upon the wheeled board she had used to navigate her way under the ship she was working on. There was something exciting about it as he pressed himself down against her and the board moved forward and then back again, causing him to laugh slightly in anticipation of what was to come. Looking to get to the bottom of this mystery his hands began to work their way towards her neck where he began to open the filthy boiler suit to reveal the womanly wonders within.

The romantic interlude was quickly interrupted by the sound of an explosion that reverberated throughout the maintenance facility. There was no fire ... no shrapnel ... just a blinding light and a pulsating sound that caused an unceasing ringing in Marcus' ears. It was the unmistakable effects of a flash grenade. Into the cacophony of sound strode the Rodian thug known as Toledo. The Rodian had tracked the bounty hunter known as The Nerf Herder since he left Brentaal IV after killing his employer Enkido, and he waited for the human to make a mistake ... and now he had it. He found it fitting that it was over a woman as he had noted it had been a weakness in the man's past. He had already eliminated the female bounty hunter that had once worked with him. Perhaps he would kill this woman in front of him if she truly did matter to him. He was wearing light armor as a man in his profession was known to, which was considerably more than the young lovers currently found themselves wearing. "This is the end for you, Nerf Herder," he confidently boasted in Huttese, the galactic language of scum and villainy. "Fitting for you to die with your pants down," he snickered, before lowering his aim at the pretty young thing pinned beneath his intended target.

This wasn't the way Zara intended things to go. She found comfort in over planning, hence why her jobs were nearly always so successful. She always knew all the details. Marcus was a bounty hunter. He was a dangerous man who she took precautions against. Now that he was right in her mind, Zara was allowing him to kiss her. She let herself enjoy it too as hunger and passion naturally built within it. There was no other kiss like this one. It held the interest of the thief, who was happily realizing the true reason behind his trip to her shop. Her pretty blues fluttered open when the kiss found its natural end. Her cheeks were flushed. Lustful thoughts consumed her brain. She hadn't slept with him before...but she would take him now. Down, down to the board they went together. Zara wordlessly lowered herself with him. Her back reached against the board. The wheels rolled back and forth as he settled himself atop her. Zara felt drunk and silly. She giggling, dropping her hands to his shoulders. Okay. She could roll with this. They were going to make special memories in the shop. She would never work straight-minded again.

The warmth of her boiler suit meant that she wasn't wearing much beneath it. She had a slim white tank top underneath it, a bra, and a pair of underwear. Once he made it through all the effort of getting her out of her boiler suit, he'd be rewarded with the easy part. Zara, herself, had let her hands roll over his shoulders and to his chest. She had yet to remove any of his clothing their romantic endeavors came to a screeching halt. Zara didn't hear the Rodian thug until it was too late. The explosion rang out in Zara's ears. Her eyes burned to the point where tears ran down her cheeks. She mouthed some highly offensive curse word. This was what happened when she let her guard down! She didn't suspect that this was Marcus' work. The Nerf Herder had better things to do then partner up with a Rodian to punish a girl who stole a trinket.

Zara was angry all of a sudden. For once she had this natural chemistry going with a guy. The Rodian was talking in Huttese. On account of her ears killing her, she really didn't understand what he was saying or who he was exactly after. Regardless, she wasn't about to become the dead woman beneath the Nerf Herder. Her eyes rolled. Now the Rodian wanted to point his toy at her? Both booted feet were planted on the floor. Her legs were spread to accommodate his body between them. Before the Rodian had a chance to kill her, Zara used all of the strength in her legs to send them shooting clear underneath the ship. A single hand could be felt leaving Marcus. It dove into a pocket in the front of her boiler suit. From it, she drew three tiny blue spheres.*Smoke bombs*. She threw them in the direction of the Rodian while she struggled to her feet. The ringing in her ears had become softer. She gave Marcus a look. "I thought we had the talk about threesomes already. No means no." She opened up the toolbox she had left on this side of the ship. She drew her blaster from it. The Rodian wasn't fooled by her smoke bombs for long. He had began attacking again, only this time, he couldn't see his intended target. He was blindly shooting.

Marcus was overcome by the effects of the flash grenade and as he saw the presence of the Rodian thug a sense of embarrassment had come over him. He had let his guard down on an unfamiliar, potentially hostile world all because of some woman. He had never made a mistake like this before and now he feared he would pay the ultimate price for it. But before he could reach for the hold-out blaster holstered concealing at his boot Zara had surprised him yet again by leaping into action and sending them rolling to safety ... albeit temporarily. "I'm sure I can explain!" he said to her sheepishly, as he took cover next to the ship that she had slid them under. As reached down for the hold-out blaster he saw her grab a weapon of her own and a look of bewilderment came upon his face. "You're full of surprises," he said with an impressed grin before raising his weapon to blindly fire in the direction of the Rodian attacker. "So ... this place got a backdoor?" he asked, lowering his head just as a trio of blaster bolts impacted just where his head had moments before been.

So the girl was not just a girl, Toledo thought to himself as he watched their temporary escape ... it figured. "Fitting, Nerf Herder. It's never pleasant to die alone!" he boasted, once again in Huttese, as he fired off wild shots from his DT-12 heavy blaster pistol. It was only then that the smoke grenades landed, obscuring his vision and causing him to cough suddenly. "Don't ... prolong ... your suffering," he chastised, between gasps of air, all the while continuing to fire his blaster. Perhaps he should have used a thermal detonator and vaporized the pair rather than go for the closeup personal kill. The problem was he wanted his victim to know who had it was that had defeated him, and he wanted a body to proclaim to the galaxy what exactly it was he had done.

She had to laugh at how he looked at her when she pulled out her E-11. "A girl's gotta protect herself." She explained. She knew that the truth was going to come out, should they survive the assault of the angry Rodian. Zara was trying to think of the best way to escape. She could see her ship, painted in crimson red, resting near the back of the shop. Two gigantic doors stood in front of it. They led out to a long ramp where they tested ships before and after the fixes were made. Zara's ship was there for routine work...and she liked having an escape close by at all times. It seemed the time to utilize her ship had come. She ducked down behind the ship, swapping places with Marcus while he fired. "I got better than that. I got a back door and a working ship. My ship." She nudged him, pointing in the general direction of the double doors. "When we get to the ship, I'll start it up and you'll open the back doors, okay? Okay. Go team!"

There wasn't time to discuss it. The Rodian was making a mess of the shop. Rogue blaster fire hit various ships, ship parts, and all sorts of flammable goodness. A fire had started in the area closer to the Rodian. Unless they wanted to die today, they really needed to get out. Holding onto her rifle, Zara quickly made her way towards her ship. The smoke was beginning to part. The Rodian hunter had started making a serious effort to kill them...especially her. Her death would hurt Marcus, in theory. They were almost there! She could see the red ship. "That's it!" She yelled. "Go open the doors, hurry." Her stomach knotted. A part of her life was going up in flames. She had worked in the shop forever. The owner, friend or not, wouldn't be happy with the state of his shop and his customer's ships. Zara would need all the credits in the galaxy to keep her job here.

If she thought she had problems now, her problems were about to get worse. The Rodian could see what was happening. If the Nerf Herder boarded the ship then he would be gone for a long, long time. The effort Toledo put in to find Marcus would be wasted. In a desperate last effort, he rapidly shot at the rear of the ship where the fuel tanks were. Zara's eyes widened. She turned her back on the ship. "*Run*!" She yelled.

When it came to saving his skin Marcus needed no instructions, and as the intensity of blaster fire began to increase within the shop he did his best to lay down cover fire as she lay out her reasonable plan for an escape. Unfortunately for them, the careless Rodian was not paying nearly enough attention to where he was shooting and an explosion threatened to take all of their lives. As the flames began to pour from the fuel tanks, he aggressively grabbed hold her and began moving at his best speed towards the exit of the repair yard. They did not get very war when he heard the unmistakable sound of an explosion behind them that first destroyed Zara's ship and then began a chain reaction that threatened to destroy the entire city block. With no time for chivalry, he threw her down to the street in front of them and quickly covered her with his much larger frame. He could feel the heat on his back, burning his clothes, as a massive fireball erupted behind them, very nearly threatening to engulf them. He could feel penetrating wounds in his back and side as pieces of debris were sent flying at them from all direction. Hot, jagged pieces of metal tore at his flesh causing him to scream in pain, but he did his best to shield her from a similar fate. When the explosion subsided he lay upon her ... a weak, panting mess, still covered in her grease, but now with blood and ash added to the mixture. "I didn't even get to finish..." he said in her ear, only half-joking, as he lay upon her, embracing her, even in the midst of all this. He was still a man.

Whether or not the Rodian had survived the explosion was unknown, but given the amount of fire and explosion it was very unlikely a creature like that could have made it. As the fuel inside the ships in the repair yard ignited the building around them collapsed, and the fires quickly spread to neighboring buildings, engulfing them one by one. Sirens began to roar through the city and various patrol craft began to arrive on the scene both to put out the fire and to investigate the cause. It would not take long for the Corporate Sector Authority's security police to arrive on the scene and detain them both.

There was so much going on around them. Marcus' constant hold on her helped her keep her attention in the right places; their escape. It hurt to see her ship go. The last sight she recalled before he grabbed her and led her away was her ship's fuel tanks spilling fire. Her life was over. Close to everything she had was gone, blown up by the Rodian who had ruined a perfectly good moment. As much as her heart ached for all the loss, Zara didn't have time to focus on it. Fire was spreading rapidly all around them. Ships were exploding and Marcus? Marcus had thrown her to the ground and place himself on top of her. Even Zara couldn't poke fun at how this was a pretty desperate attempt to finish business. He was saving her. Her small body shook beneath him. There were too many loud sounds. The heat was smoldering. There was absolutely nothing she could do to defend him in the wreckage. The feeling of helplessness was more painful than the combination of losing her job, a portion of her life, and her ship. Zara tried to comfort him by holding one of his hands.

He was screaming, burning, hurting. Zara wanted to get up and drag him to safety, but the door in front of them was blocked. The fire raged all around them. "Marcus, you're such a fool..." She whispered. A fool who had successful burst through Zara's most inner defenses. His action was so far above what anyone had ever done for her previously. In the fire that threatened to take their lives, Zara swore that they would get out alive. When they did, she would protect him. Try as she might to think of a way out, there was nothing. She was forced to stay hidden from harm in his arms until the fire was put out. "I'll take care of this." She whispered to him when the security police detained them, patted them down, and escorted them into a landspeeder. Zara and Marcus sat side by side. Upon inspection, it looked like Zara had nothing on her persons. Like from their first meeting, she favored carefully hiding her tools within the fabric of their clothing. As soon as they were in the landspeeder together, she let Marcus' body fall into her lap. She kept his back away from her greasy clothing in attempt to avoid any further irritation or infection. She looked at his back with a frown on her face. He was a fool. One hand rested on his head while the other slid into one of the various many pockets of her boiler suit. The first helpful item she pulled out was a bacta patch. She exposed its sticky side and placed it on his arm. It would provide some sort of pain relief. Zara needed something more to really help him.

The last thing Marcus could afford was a criminal record given his status as one of the core world's leading nobility. His double life as a notorious bounty hunter would surely be revealed and he would never have a moment's peace and his life and the lives of those he loved would never be safe. As he was thrown into the police gunship with her he was not cuffed given the intensity of his wounds, but in his weakened state he was in no point to resist. His care for him was much needed as the ship moved away from the fiery carnage towards the city center where they would surely be found out. He inhaled sharply as she applied the bacta patch to his wounds, and then rolled his eyes up at her to thank her silently for what she was doing. "Trust me," he said to her before grabbing both of her arms and moving them forward towards the cockpit of the gunship. As they had cuffed her in the front he was able to position the binding of her cuffs over the pilot's head and down over his throat. As he choked the pilot with Zara's restraints the craft began to plummet rapidly towards the city below. "Don't let go!" he yelled at her, as he moved forward towards the co-pilot's seat, despite his weakened condition.

Marcus pulled back on the flight stick in an attempt to pull the craft upwards, but the pilot was still doing his best to throw the young woman off him. Eventually the last gasp escaped the pilot's lips as his neck snapped under the substantial force that had been applied and he released the controls just in time for Marcus to keep the gunship from impacting with the surface. "I don't know about you, but I'm ready to leave..." he said over his shoulder, grimacing in pain as he looked over her shoulder towards her. He began piloting the craft towards the nearby docking bay where his ship had been hidden away. When they landed he hurriedly searched over the dead pilot's clothing for anything useful, and grabbed the man's identity documents in case he ever found himself back this way. Helping her off the carcass, he gingerly led her out of the gunship towards the waiting G-1A transport that had served him so well in his bounty hunting career.

The rear of the ship resembled a cell where countless bounties had been contained over the past several years. There was no hiding who he was now. There was an assortment of weapons, explosives, and most noticeably ... his distinct black armor. "No time for the tour," he explained to her, as the sound of sirens began to fill the night sky ... more police gunships were on their way. As he reached the cockpit he let out another groan of pain as his exposed back made contact with the seat behind him. Given his discomfort he did not bother to strap himself in, and quickly activated the repulosrlift engines that would lift the transport from the docking bay and into the atmosphere. As they began to ascend the proximity alarm began to sound throughout the cockpit as the police gunships neared. "Hang on back there!" he yelled, as he jolted on the flight stick to avoid the incoming missiles that they were attempting to take down their ship with. They were no longer suspects in an arson. They were now fugitives from the Corporate Sector Authority in a suspected terrorist attack

As the transport escaped the gunship and entered the space surrounding the planet Etti IV, a number of Authority IRD starfighters began to close on their position, once again sending the sensors into a paniced alarm. His hands moved swiftly to bring the deflector shields online, but his ship was meant for hunting fugitives ... not engaging in blaster fights. Rather than attempt to fight off their pursuers, Marcus' attention swiftly moved to NavComputer, and began the process of downloading the coordinates for his homeworld of Delaya. The ray shields began to flash from each laser blaster, shaking the ship violently, as the computer struggled to download the coordinates. Just when it seemed all hope might be lost and the ship would be destroyed by the Corporate Sector the computer finished the download and he thrust his hand forward on the hyperdrive controls to send the ship forward from the vastness of realspace into hyperspace.

Marcus let out a desperate, tired sigh once the familiar swirling blue column of hyperspace appeared in front of him, and he rose from his seat in the cockpit to check on his 'passenger'. "You know I can explain everything. Really..." he said with a smirk to the still handcuffed silver haired vixen that stood before him. An arrogant smile crept upon his lips as he lowered his body, and like in some youth game, maneuvered skillfully between her bound arms and entrapped himself in her grasp. "Now where were we?" he asked, as he once again pressed his lips against hers. He was tired. He was bleeding. He was burnt. He was hurt. He had nearly been killed. But all he could think about was *her*.

This was a situation that they needed to get out of. A criminal record would be the perfect thing to taint an otherwise flawless record as Zara Ta'em. As of right now, her life was in shambles yet it could be fixed. A criminal record would put her, well, on the record. More than anything else, it was Marcus' wounds that weighed on her to make a decision. He needed the kind of treatment she couldn't give him with patches. His wounds weren't going to heal properly with all the shrapnel inside of them. Her wrists were cuffed in front of her. What the hell could she do? Sad, sad eyes looked down at him. She wished she could do more. She didn't know they were about to have the craziest trust exercise known to man. Her head nodded, slowly but surely. She trusted him, right?

He suddenly grabbed her arms and shoved her forward. Her arms moved around the pilot's neck. The chain holding her cuffs together cut off the passage of air through his throat. Zara would have been okay with this if they hadn't gone plummeting towards the ground at a high speed right afterward. She watched as the nose of the landspeeder pointed towards the ground. That's it. Her stomach now resided in her throat. "Marcus!!" Panicked eyes looked up at him. *Don't let go* he says. Like it was easy to keep the pilot in her grasp while he struggled wildly for his life. She dug her feet into the floor. Her body was pressed right up against the pilot's seat. She was trapped there...trapped while Marcus saved them from near death. The struggling pilot fought like a fish out of water. Eventually, he became still. Zara visually deflated. The bad situation wasn't over, but it seemed like the worst of it was. "I'm ready to go too.. No more sight seeing, please." She remained where she was for the rest of the ride. Her ship was gone. Marcus was in charge of the escape now. Hidden on the dock, that intended escape was ready to receive them.

Cuffed, she accepted his help in getting away from the carcass and away from the landspeeder. She darted towards a familiar vessel. The G-1A transport was something she'd been told about in her research. A bounty hunter needed a reliable ship after all, and one with the room for a cell earned extra points. She didn't looked as shocked as she should have when she saw the cell, his signature armor, and his massive collection of weapons. This was exactly why she didn't want to fight him when he was busy playing the Nerf Herder. The alarm made her stomach curl. "You better have some chocolate, I'm going to need it after today.." She grumbled. It looked like playing nurse would have to wait.

Zara parked herself in the closest seat. He was readying for take off, and those alarms told her it was going to be one hell of a bumpy ride. Too bad she couldn't buckle her seat belt or cling to the chair for dear life. Out of all the parts of flying it was take off that severed as her least favorite. The take off was insanity. It was a surprise they made it into the sky. She watched Marcus desperately work to save both of their lives. She hated feeling so useless. As all the shit stars aligned for them, something good happen. The ship shot forward into hyperspace. She closed her eyes tightly. Zara was waiting for the ship to give in and explode on the spot. Instead, everything went smoothly. The young thief became mindful of her legs and stood. Sure, she might look like a wobbly newborn deer, but she was standing! Her worried look was back. "You're so crazy! I can't believe we just made it through all of that!" She exclaimed in awe. What was more unbelievable was that after injuring himself so badly for her, he wanted to resume things. She was still cuffed. Her arms ended up around his neck. They were stuck there until he freed her of the cuffs. Zara kissed him. It was fast, it was hard, and it ended with her moving her mouth. "Let me take care of you first. You're running on an adrenaline rush and bacta patches. When you come down from all of that, you're going to hurt." She nuzzled her nose against his affectionate. She was softer towards him now. "Pleasssee?" She batted her eyes.

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