Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:4:27) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Imperial garrison) and in the Brentaal system: Blue Haven.
Governor Papius Arundel, Yekaterina Hanson, Ashori Monoceros, Callista Nilar, Commander Iyah Xergo, and Mug Zoran.

Kat Hanson stood in the cargo hold of the Pelta-class frigate Blue Haven, tirelessly moving repulsorsleds full of captured cargo from the Imperial transport they had disabled. As she worked she noticed Mug Zoran playing with his adopted daughter, Callista Nilar, and shook her head with a smile. The young Mug was not getting any work done, but at least Callista had not gotten in the way yet. If the transport had gotten off a distress call when attacked it was only a matter of time before Imperial reinforcements arrived, so she, along with the rest of the crew, were moving double time to load the cargo. She had no idea what was in the crates ... weapons, food, miscellaneous parts ... but she did know whatever it was the Rebellion desperately needed it. She stopped for a moment, placing her hands on her knees and hunched over to catch her breath. Her short hair was matted with sweat, and she took a moment to bring her hand up to her forehead to wipe away some of the sweat. "Feel free to lend a hand ... *Milord*," she said, as she had come to calling him condescendingly since fleeing Delaya with him.

Mug Zoran had initially come to the cargo bay to help Kat and the others load cargo, but Callista had quickly put a stop to that. "Catch!" he said, giggling, as he threw a disarmed proton torpedo at the little girl. It was hardly a proper toy, but it was all they could manage aboard a ship of war. It was tough being a new father to an adoptive daughter ... it was nigh on impossible doing it in a warzone. They could not stop in their duties as Rebels just to raise a child in peace. His mother and the other victims of the destruction of Alderaan deserved to be avenged, and this cargo raid, while not a major victory, was yet another step to gathering the resources that he believed would ultimately bring them victory. "Okay, okay!" he said, as he moved to grab part of the repulsorsled to move it deeper into the Blue Haven.

"Weee! I got it!" Callista opened up her arms wide. She made small steps heading backwards to catch the disarmed proton torpedo. Her rear end hit the ground as her arms wrapped around the torpedo. "Look, Daddy! I caught it!" In her innocent mind, this wasn't a war ship. This was *home*. As long as her parents were there, the girl was happy. The little girl handled the situations that were thrown at her better than her adoptive mother and father. With the torpedo in hand, Callista bounded towards Kat. "Here, Auntie Kay! I'll help you!" She dropped the torpedo on the ground. Using her hands as fans, she attempted to cool down Kat. She smiled widely.

Iyah Xergo was working equally as hard as Kat. With Callista, it was hard to stay motivated in her duties as a Rebel. It was tempting to quit and hide somewhere far away with her family. In this magical peaceful place that didn't exist, they could play all day and become oblivious to the Empire. This place didn't exist. Until the Empire fell, no where was safe. She wanted to avenge people. She also wanted to provide a wonderful, bright future for Callista. With that said, Iyah walked into the cargo hold with her black hair slicked back from sweat. Hairs were bursting out of her normally neat pony tail. She moved to the other side of the repulsorsled and began to push. "Working hard or hardly working?" She said, peering out from the other side. Iyah was so happy to have Callista back. She never stopped feeling over the moon about how the Rodneys had helped them get her back. Callista was a symbol of hope.

"Oh that's *much* better," Kat said, sarcastically, but in a way that Callista would not pick up on it. The tiny fingers barely circulated at all, but it was the thought that counted. She was just about to move to get another shipment of cargo when the alarms began to sound. Suddenly the Blue Haven was rocked, as it was impacted by a laser blast. "Those reinforcements must have gotten here faster than we expected," she said, as she moved to close the cargo hatch. All around them troopers were scrambling to their battle stations. With the cargo hatch closed they were disconnected from the Imperial transport.

"You'd better get to the bridge," Mug told Iyah, as he let go of the repulsorsled and grabbed Callista. They had been through this before, but he was always worried that the young girl would get scared. "It's fire drill time again," he told her, lying, as he moved with her down the corridors, past scrambling troopers and droids, to the cabin the three of them shared. Once inside the cabin the sound of the alarm and the activity was diminished, but each time a blast struck the frigate the ship shook violently. After one particularly accurate blast the lights went dark, but eventually came back on in a dim shade of red emergency lightning.

The little girl concentrated hard. She moved her hands as fast as she could. Her little tongue stuck out of her mouth. "Mama! Look! I'm helping Auntie Kay!" Callista was nearly knocked off her feet at the first impact. Her eyes widened. This had happened before. In her innocent mind, she believed her father that it was a fire drill. As they traveled down the corridors together, she reminded her father. "Stop, drop, and roll, Daddy! Stop, drop, and roll!" Inside of the cabin, she huddled closely to her father. She was okay with the occasional rocked until the lights went dark. "Daddy... I can't see..." Callista wasn't a fan of the dark. She had a night light shaped like an Ewok in the cabin for that reason. The red lights made her uncomfortable. She clung to Mug.

Iyah's softness had risen to the surface briefly at the time the ship was hit. Mentally, she cursed. She looked at Mug. They both knew the drill. In order to keep Callista safe, they had to split up. "Alright. Be safe." Her heart was split in these situations. Regardless, duty was calling and she came running towards the bridge. "We need to get out of here as quickly as we can." TIE fighters screeched by the Blue Haven. Their shield was taking some serious abuse. Already, Rebels were taking up positions at turrets and attempting to shoot down the TIE fighters. Iyah quickly plotted a course away from Imperial ground. Several screens had begun to turn red just as the emergency lighting came on. "They're about to take the shield down... Shit."

Kat Hanson scrambled with the other members of the crew, doing her best to secure the cargo in the midst of battle. After a blast impacted, shaking the ship, a stack of cargo containers toppled over, crashing into her shoulder and crushing another crew member. "Medic!" she called out, wincing, as she placed her hand upon her dislocated shoulder and scurried away from the cargo. If they did not make the jump to hyperspace soon they would be in a world of hurt.

"Hold on," Mug said, as he went to grab a glow rod. The hand light brought some light into the darkened cabin, but not as much as the overhead lights created before they lost power. "The drill is almost over. Mommy will have the lights on soon," he said, as he sat down on the floor with her. He wrapped his arms around her tightly, clinging back, as he drew her nearer him and the light. He wondered if they were about to be disabled and boarded ... and what that would mean for his family. Thoughts like this played hell on him in the midst of battle, which made him useless in a fight. His sole responsibility was to take care of Callista while Iyah did the fighting.

Callista clung onto her father. The glow rod helped. She could see it illuminating Mug's face. It put her at ease. The little girl cuddled him affectionately with less fear. "That's much brighter, Daddy! Don't worry! Mama will come get us soon." Instead of feeding off of the hell in Mug's head, the little girl looked to make her father feel better. "Will you show me how to do itsy bitsy spider again?" She asked, holding up her small hands for direction.

Meanwhile, the frigate was ready for the jump to hyperspace. The shield was still up at fifteen-percent. It wasn't a pleasant number, but the current repairs could be done with the droids on the frigate. Iyah refused to allow her ship to be boarded. It would have to happen over her dead body. The lights buzzed back on as the frigate launched forward. "You can do it, girl. Just get us to Ringali Nebula and we'll be safe. I'll take good care of you. Promise." Iyah sweet talked the ship from behind its navigation controls. She went so far as the stroke the controls while the frigate departed from the battlefield. When the frigate left hyperspace, they had reached their destination. The young woman breathed hard. She immediately began assigning droids to make repairs. They were safe, right?

When the ship emerged from hyperspace into the Ringali Nebula the lights gradually were restored throughout the ship by the dedicated engineering crew. "Yay!" Mug said, clapping both his hands and Callista's hands together as the lights came back on. "The drill is over. Mama turned the lights back on," he told her, as he rose back to his feet, and then helped her up as well. He took her by the hands, outstretched her arms, and began to dance around in a circle with her. "The lights are on! The lights are on!" he chanted repeatedly as he danced about playfully with his daughter. Inside he was relieved, but he wondered how bad the damage was and how many had been hurt ... or worse. It was then that he noticed an incoming transmission on the HoloNet transceiver. He let go of Callista for just a moment to take a look at it, wondering why they would be receiving a message here and not on the ship's main receiver. When he realized what it was, he immediately moved to contact Iyah on the bridge. "Commander, I am sure you have your hands full up there, but there's an urgent message for you in your quarters," he said, trying his best to act like a professional yeoman rather than a lover. There were still many who would judge their relationship, but as the weeks drew on few aboard the ship did not know what was going on between them.

They had just dodged a bullet. Iyah had no time to relax. No sooner had she begun to breathe properly again did she receive contact from Mug. Her eyes showed her worry while the rest of her facial features maintained professionalism. He may have been her yeoman, but she feared the day he'd contact her to report something had happened to Callista. Her look hardened at his report. She nodded her head. "I'll be there right away." She promised him. She was on her feet half a second later, headed down the corridors while she checked on anyone she came upon. There were people who were judgmental over their relationship, but Iyah did not care. She openly loved Mug. They knew when to play nice and when to let their passions show...and that made their relationship work. The doors leading into her cabin slid open as she appeared. "What is it? Are you both okay?" She had no idea why she'd be receiving a message in her room. She couldn't begin to guess what was happening.

Little Callista danced and rejoiced with her father. Another fire drill had passed. "The lights are on! The lights are on! Mama is *awesomeee*!" She continued to dance around the room while her daddy took care of business. She rushed into her parent's bed, finding her favored plush: a white bunny wearing a pink ballerina costume. She continued her dance with the floppy rabbit in tow until her mother showed up. "Mama! You saved the lights!" She bounded towards the dark haired woman. She tackled her into a big hug. By the look on Iyah's face, it was exactly what she needed.

Mug was relieved to see that Iyah was ok, but he knew the transmission they had received was of greater importance. He moved towards her quickly, wrapping his arms around her in a loving embrace. "You need to see it," he whispered softly into her ear, before turning his attention to young Callista. "Mama needs to use the HoloNet," he said, as he took her by the hand, and led her out of the bedroom. "Let's go get something to eat," he told her, as he moved over to the next room. He fixed her a bowl of fruit and sat her down on the table, before moving back to the doorway to peer into the bedroom and attempt to watch the transmission, while simultaneously shielding Callista from it. He swallowed in nervous anticipation, fearing what news it might impart.

When the message came to life the image of Jelena Rodney appeared on the display in a prerecorded message. "Commander Xergo, I am dismayed to report that the Empire has invaded Delaya and the refugees you once sought to aid are now in grave danger," she reported, grimly, as she once again moved to betray the Empire and act in what she believed was the best interest of her people. "The new Imperial Governor has torn apart the refugee center and arrested countless individuals on trumped up charges. The Empire wants to destroy the only remaining trace of Alderaan ... its people," she said, fighting back emotions, while simultaneously looking around to make sure she was not being watched. "I beg you to return to Delaya and save as many of these people as you can, and take them somewhere the Empire can never find them," she said, before suddenly becoming nervous and abruptly terminating the transmission. Iyah Xergo was her only hope.

Iyah sat in front of the transmission. Before her eyes, a familiar face appeared. "Jelena Rodney," she gasped. She had not seen the fellow Rebel since the passing to the Grand Moff's wife. Despite the fact that they were both Rebel Alliance, she didn't expect to hear from her any time soon. Her family was tainted by the Emperor. Iyah listened in complete shock while Jelena relayed what had happened on Delaya. The planet was now governed by the Grand Moff. After they left...after they were run out...Iyah had never considered going back. Mug had seemed entirely callous when the news of Julius' death...his father...had reached them. Iyah grew more serious during the transmission. A new Imperial Governor was causing hell for the poor refugees. Delaya had been so open to taking them on. Even if she hated the woman, Sierra Dakkar had created a better place for them to live than the shit camp she had pulled Mug and Callista from. "No..." She believed every work coming out of Jelena's mouth. There was no time for them to further discuss the details of Delaya's invasion because the girl had terminated the transition.

"This can't be. I positioned a group on Delaya." They were supposed to be watching over the refugees." Panicked, Iyah remembered Ashori Monoceros. She was the leader of her undercover group. The commander tried to initiate contact with Ash. Ashori's apartment had already been gone through. Through her torturous time with Governor Arundel, she had become loose lipped. Her forehead collided with her hand. "Come on. Pick up, Ash!" She had been very careful with that group of Rebels. Their communications were rare out of necessity...not because Iyah didn't care. Anxiously, Iyah looked towards Mug. Had the whole unit perished under Delaya's new Imperial Governor?

On Delaya, Governor Papius Arundel was hard at work reviewing information concerning the capture of Grand Moff Rodney's wife and daughter. Although it happened outside of the system he governed, he was hoping that *someone* connected to Delaya had been involved so that he could stick his beak in. It was then that he heard an annoying beeping, but despite his best efforts he could not immediately determine where it had come from. It was beginning to become an annoyance, and then a disturbance, and he ultimately rose from his desk and began actively searching for it. It was only then that he stumbled upon the personal possessions of the captured Rebel Ashori Monoceros. He dropped down next to the box and opened it, and after some searching found a hidden comlink. He had been so busy *examining* her that he had failed to notice the device. He pressed the button to activate the comm, but did not say anything, hoping he might overhear something of use on the other end of the line.

Commander Xergo's heart was beating so hard that she felt sick. How had she overlooked Delaya's situation? She should have been watching. She was living up to the low expectation that everyone had for the youngest commander in Rebel history. She tapped her fingers on the desk. "Come on, come on, come on, come on." She chanted. There were many logical explanations as to why no one immediately picked up. Iyah's mind just went for the worst thing it could come up with: death. She was ready to terminate the communication and rush to the Alderaan system when someone picked up. The comm was silent. Iyah could hear breathing. "Ash? Ash?! Are you okay?" Iyah was falling into a trap. Her crew was her second family.

When Papius heard the female voice on the other end of the transmission he realized he had intercepted the Rebellion and finally had a chance to make real progress in the advancement of his career. He moved swiftly from his office and down the corridor towards the room where he was keeping Ashori. She was strapped to a table, unable to move, and he quickly placed the comlink down on the table next to her head. His hand moved to the blaster pistol he kept at his side and raised it, placing it directly over her forehead. He did nothing. He said nothing. He needed this to play out.

Time had ceased to exist for Ash since she had been captured. The time of mentally reprimanding herself for failing to kill Papius had ended. Every day, he gained control over a little more of her. She had been alone for some time when her evil captor entered the room. She blinked, staring up at him with tired green eyes. He had her teetering on the brink of insanity after the last few weeks. The sight of her comlink destroyed her. It stole the air from her lungs. He'd found it. Even when she confessed to her secret Rebel lair, she never expected him to find the hidden comlink. She knew who was on the other line: Commander Xergo. "Ash? Are you there?" She could hear Iyah asking. With his blaster lingering over her forehead, Papius had already made the choice for her. "C-Commander!" She gasped. "Commander Xergo, can you hear me? My comlink is malfunctioning." Ash evened her voice. It was hard to hide the fact that she was terrified.

At last, Iyah was able to hear the girl. She breathed a full sigh of relief. "It's good to hear from you, cadet. I've received disturbing news about Delaya. There's a new Imperial Governor there?! How are you and the others holding up? We're bringing back up as soon as possible."

There was pain on Ash's face. Papius would kill Commander Xergo if she reached the planet. Her mouth went dry. Her eyes stared up at the very same Governor.

A name. And not just any name. It was the Rebel that was well known to him ... the lover of Grand Moff Rodney's half-brother. He could not have dreamed up a more perfect scenario. He could not contain the grin that threatened to split his face in two. When Ashori grew quiet he lowered his blaster pistol until the barrel of the weapon was making direct contact with her forehead. He applied considerable force to the weapon, making a circular impression on her forehead, and then pressing the back of her skull down onto the durasteel table she was strapped to. If she knew what was good for her she would speak up.

His grin made the room drop several dozen degrees. It was *freezing*. She shivered on the durasteel table. The pressure of the barrel of the blaster hurt her forehead. It was becoming more difficult to differentiate between right and wrong. All she wanted to do was make him happy so that Papius would leave her alone. "Oh Commander." She sighed. "There's a new Governor. His name is Papius Arundel." She confessed truthfully. "The others in my unit fled the planet as soon as he appeared. I've been down here, quietly trying to continue carrying out my orders." For a dramatic effect, the tone of her voice changed to worry. "I don't know how much longer I can last alone."

It was just as Commander Xergo feared. All hell was breaking loose on the planet she wanted to see least. Why didn't these things happen on lovely, non-polluted planets? Perhaps planets that didn't house an Imperial Grand Moff who wanted to kill her and her family? The sound of Iyah's forehead collided against the table with a quick *thunk*. "Ash, don't worry. It's going to be okay. I'm sending reinforcements...including myself. We'll soon be there to help you with the Imperial scum. We shall chase him away from the planet and rebuild the refugee's home."

When the transmission ended, Papius slowly lowered his hand to deactivate the comlink. He then pulled the blaster pistol off Ashori's forehead and placed it back within his holster. Hovering over her he lowered his head until face was directly above hers, only upside down. He fiercely placed his lips upon hers in a passionate, violent kiss. When it broke he lifted his face only an inch before laughing right in her face. "Good job," he said, with a snicker, as he moved away from the table to leave her alone in the dark room to think about what she had just done ... and what she would do.

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