"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
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
"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
"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
"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.