Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Christopher Levy and Tara McLaren.
Zero years after the Battle of Yavin (35:6:16) in the Essesia system: Warspite.
Major Kerrie Kiley, Valeria, and Major Arden Zevrin.

"I'm sorry about this, Valeria," Major Kerrie Kiley said softly, as she swallowed uncomfortably and stared down at the ground of the hangar. Her arms were folded in front of her chest and she seemed to be very out of sorts. It was clear to anyone with even a basic understanding of body language that she was being forced to do something she did not want to do. As she stood in the hangar of the massive Star Destroyer she was wearing her all black uniform of the Storm commandos, that was as neat as she ever had managed to get it.

"You have nothing to apologize for, 'Kerrie'," Major Aren Zevrin began, attempting to sound polite and friendly ... two adjectives rarely used to describe her. "Now, Valeria is it?" she asked, as the blonde flashed a sweet smile in her direction. "If you don't mind ... while our technicians work on the problem you have given them ... I would like to ask you a few questions," she said, never allowing the smile to fade from her attractive visage. She was wearing the unmistakable cream colored tunic of the feared Imperial Security Bureau.

It was obvious that Valeria was surprised. She had not been expecting this part of it. Arden would likely pick up on how quickly Valeria would take in the uniform she was wearing and its rank insignia. She would give a rather weak smile before carefully lowering her hands to her gunbelt. It only took a few seconds of fumbling before she would toss it back up the ramp of her ship and into the interior. Obviously she was not at all interested in giving the wrong impression. "It's okay. Really." Her smile seemed a little bit more confident as she finished exiting her ship. "I always like meeting people who don't love me yet. It's an opportunity."

Arden nodded her in affirmation as she watched the woman toss away the gunbelt, but she realized that she was most likely skilled in forms of combat that did not require a blaster to be effective. "If you'll follow me," she said, as she began walking towards a blast door on the near side of the hangar. "Do not worry about your ship. 'Kerrie' will stay here and watch it," she called the Major by her first name once again, in a deliberate attempt to make it sound as if they were all a group of friends.

"I don't suppose you'd like your fortune told, would you?" Valeria flicked her hands as a few Sabacc cards appeared from up the sleeves of her reddish brown leather jacket. This was just a ruse, of course, in order for her to briefly tap on her visual wrist com. She'd had the audio on so her astromech would be apprised of the situation, and she was tapping a signal to indicate he should "play it by ear for now." Valeria smiled as she flashed a couple of cards in front of her, moving to follow Arden. "I find its a good way to get to know a person."

"I don't believe you can predict the future, Valeria ... or should I call you 'Val'?" Arden asked, as she held the blast door open for the unique hybrid. "You can call me Arden, by the way," she said, as her faux smile widened slightly at the kind sentiment. "This won't take long," she said as she began walking down the stark corridor towards a small room that contained a table and two chairs. There were hidden audio and visual according devices of course.

"Either's fine, and I wouldn't say I can predict the future. It's the cards that are supposed to." Valeria smiled as she slid across the table to the other side, taking a seat after having apparently recovered from her brief surprise upon finding this "ambush" awaiting her. "I don't really believe it does that either, but how people interpret the cards and their meaning can tell a lot about them."

"Well, if it would make you feel more comfortable, than by all means..." Arden said, as she took a seat at the table and began to peel those dark leather gloves from her slender fingers. One at a time she slapped them down upon the cold durasteel table, creating a soft noise that echoed through the chamber.

"Of course." From somewhere she seemed to have retrieved an entire Sabacc deck. She would shuffle them quite thoroughly, even indulge in some very gratuitous trick shuffling. "The first card we draw describes the subject...namely, you." She smiled as she the top card off the newly shuffled deck. "Now, would you say this describes you?" The card was the Queen of Air and Darkness. This was either a humorous bit of luck or else she was a good enough card cheat to be able to draw a card on demand. Either that or fortune telling was a real thing.

"Well I have to say I wouldn't mind being a Queen, but I don't think 'darkness' was a term that I'd use to describe me, Val," Arden said, clearly lying, as the card painted quite an accurate description of the young woman. Her hands folded somewhat uncomfortably as she looked across at the woman. "How long have you known Maj...'Kerrie'?" she asked, as she tilted her head slightly while she awaited a response.

Valeria grinned at the response, even as she quickly and subtly made those cards disappear back where they had came from. "Seems like five years, I'd say? But then, I'm a big picture kind of girl, not so much one for details." Inwardly Valeria reflected on how telling the cards could be about a person, at least when she was manipulating them. "I don't think I could do what she does. All those rules and regulations."

"No one has ever accused her of being the model officer..." Arden said, pursing her lips at woman as she attempted to be more familiar with her. "Although she has quite distinguished herself as of late ... and I understand she has you to thank?" she said, tilting her slightly to the left as her eyes looked over the woman carefully for any kind of non-verbal response.

"I suppose it's all relative, you know?" Valeria used both of her hands to flip her hair back, that long gold-striped red mane exquisitely well cared for. "I'm sure even you must have someone you think follows the rules more carefully. From a, uh...freelance trader's perspectives, even the worst officer would seem on the straight and narrow." She smiled and decided to answer her question. "I'm glad to be of service to the Empire. Being a spy is a fun change of pace."

"And I don't suppose you care to reveal how you come across this information, Val?" Arden said, as she leaned forward across the table, placing her chip upon both her palms as her elbows braced upon the table. "I would be very keen to learn such information ... and would pay handsomely for it..." she said, as her pink tongue slid from her mouth and ran over her lips.

"I suppose that depends..." She smiled as she looked straight at Arden, no deception showing on her face. "...on whether you'd like the information to keep coming. I do like credits, but the type of people who've decided to betray the Empire usually try and cover their tracks well. They sniff out someone prying into their business and the door is going to be slammed shut."

"Is your contact a member of the Rebellion?" Arden asked, leaning back in her chair and slowly crossing her black panted leg as she studied the woman quixotically. Not the answer she had hoped for, but it was the one she expected nevertheless.

"How to put this delicately?" Valeria grinned and showed her large white teeth. "I have something of a way with men. The species doesn't really matter. When they're feeling charitable with me, the information tends to flow freely, you know?"

"Understandable. There have been times where I have been accused of such a trait..." Arden said, as she rose from the table and walked to the wall where she paused for a moment, completely silent. She was thinking and it showed on her young face as she considered what action to take next. "Are you in a position to give them false information in return?" she asked, arching her right eyebrow as she considered her options here.

"I think it might raise some suspicions. I'd need to convince them I was in tight with the Empire...and if they knew that, it might get their mind wondering about how I could manage to deceive them. Not a productive line of thought for someone I'm wanting to keep talking freely." She smiled. "But I wouldn't dismiss thought out right. I can try and think up an angle I'd use."

"Do you think you could acquire any information concerning key Rebel officers in the sector? Any locals loyal to the Rebellion? Any source of supplies they might be receiving?" Arden asked in a series of rapid fire questions. The woman walked around the table slowly until she was now standing directly behind Valeria, looking down at the her luxurious hair.

She raised her head so she was looking straight up at the major, smiling. "You guys are getting every worthwhile piece of information I find out, and I'm quite happy with our working relationship. I'll keep an ear open for those tidbits, though." She reached behind her head and steepled her fingers there. "I like to think I'm a valuable asset for the Empire."

"Perhaps I'm just greedy then..." Arden said, as her voice trailed off, her head moving away to break eye contact. She began moving across the room like a predator and once she turned her back to Valeria she ran her finger along her throat as if she was slitting her throat. The signal had been given to terminate the recording. "...and if I wanted to give you information to 'sell' back to the Empire?" she asked, as her head swung back to look at her suddenly, long blonde locks fluttering behind her.

"That depends. You know if it's false information, that might get me in trouble with some pretty important people." She smiled as she crossed her arms underneath her chest. "Plus, I want to be an upstanding Imperial citizen. Treason is generally frowned upon."

"Honor among thieves, eh?" Arden asked, as she sat back down and interlocked her fingers as she rested her arm on the table. "It was worth a shot," she said, as she slapped her hand loudly upon the durasteel table indicating the recording to recommence.

She smiled and helpfully continued in a way that would not interfere with the recording. "...and as a valuable asset to the Empire, I of course realize my service is entirely at the discretion of officers such as yourself." It was more a self-preservation thing, then, than honor. Or perhaps both were at play. "I want to be a good girl, despite my airs. Who wants to spend their prime years in a brig, after all?"

"I'd be more concerned about being placed in front of a firing squad rather than placed in a brig, my dear," Arden said to Valeria as she stared across her playfully, continuing to size her up. "By the looks of you I wouldn't think you the kind likely to support the Empire, but ... looks can be deceiving," she added, after a pause. She was still trying to decide if she could trust the woman.

"Support out of love and affect for our great Emperor? Maybe not. But out of pragmatism, and knowing where the real power is? Sure." She pointed a thumb at herself. "I'm just a lone operator in this great big galaxy of ours, and I'm quite allergic to blaster bolts and dank cells."

"Interesting skin pigmentation you have there," Arden said, as she looked over the pink skinned woman rather carefully. "What species are you ... exactly?" she poised, leaning forward just a hair, as if that small distance could somehow more easily help her identify it.

"I could show you my ID...says I'm human...but you'd probably think it's a fake." She smiled and tilted her head slightly as she looked back at Arden. "I suppose I got lucky I didn't get that 'near-human' label put on me in the official records. Makes it kinda hard to get treated fairly."

"If you're a Human I'd file a suit against your cosmetologist," Arden snickered, as her patience began to thin slightly. "Now, what species?" she asked again, her tone changing slightly as an indication of the shift in moods.

"Well..." She smiled. "...never let it be said I would do the accuracy of the Empire's census teams, but if I were to hazard a guess at something other than human I'd say 'Zeltron'. They're one of those species lucky enough to get that 'near-human' label. Better treatment in the Empire than getting the 'alien' tag. Or so I hear."

"Zeltron? Well, one of those doesn't work into here everyday..." Arden replied, running her hands over one another slowly. "Well, the engineers should be finished by now..." she said, as she held her tunic down while standing up from the table. "I'm satisfied," she declared, as she walked towards the door, which opened in front of her.

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