Era of Rebellion - Navigation

20,000 CREDITS
Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:10:9) in the Sullust system: Kima and Sullust (SoroSuub Centroplex).
Commander Allegra Ames, Reg Collingwood, Debra the Hutt, Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca, Miri, and Major Sierra Rodney.

As the Kima moved through hyperspace on it journey from Esseles to Sullust, Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca found herself wearing the common garb of a spacer. It was the first time he had been out of uniform in as long as she could remember. The clothing felt as if it made her skin itch, but it was likely just in her head. She had been so focused on the task of determining what Imperial Energy Systems was doing on Ralltiir that she had failed in her duty to relay important information to Major Rodney. Her red eyes went wide and she nearly spit out the tea that had been prepared as it suddenly dawned on her. She placed the cup of tea down next to her datapad and navigated through the corridor of the Nella 342 light freighter until she found Sierra. "Milady, I failed to report a communiqué you received whilst you were on Delaya," she said, in an uncharacteristically anxious tone. Two failures in one week was *not* her style. "A young girl from your estate activated the comlink to the Retributor. She wished I inform everyone that Lord Bruce spoke," she said, reporting it as if it were simply a minor report. "I do apologize for the delay in relaying the message, Milady," she said, with an obedient nod of her head that remained lowered until dismissed.

All Sierra wanted was a teeny, tiny, little nap. She had listened to Allegra talk for far too long. Reg was another pain in her rear end. Meham'ohorovi'cloca, the quiet child, was the best behaved of all of them. Sierra had remained in the cockpit. She didn't trust Reg. The control freak inside of her felt she needed to be watching his every move. However, she was pregnant. Tired was her nature. While they were in hyperdrive, she was lulled to sleep. She had been silently napping when Meham'ohorovi'cloca awoke her with startling news. "*What*?" Her blue eyes were briefly wide with shock. Meham'ohorovi'cloca really didn't forget things. It was one of the reasons why Sierra liked her so much. That, and the Chiss was far from a suck up. "What..." Bruce had said his first word and she had *missed* it. A frown began forming over her lips. She had allowed herself to leave Bruce with Drusilla repeatedly. She trusted her. She didn't like missing things though. "Did she say what word he spoke?" Sierra asked. Her little boy seemed to be growing up quickly. When she only had a few years left with him, every minute mattered.

"No, unfortunately she did not," Meham'ohorovi'cloca replied, without any emotion. If she ever were to become a mother she surely would do so with all the affection of a nanny droid. "I believe it was the little girl I met at the shower, milady," she continued, attempting to explain the lack of relevant facts. "She seemed more concerned with dessert," she concluded, with a gentle nod of her head. "I apologize for the lack of information," she added, as she began to feel a sense of self-doubt at her recent missteps and omissions. Perhaps she did need a vacation as Sierra suggested.

"Wait..." Reg said, as he turned in the pilot's seat to gawk at Sierra. "I thought you were buying a yacht for a daughter..." he said, as he pursed his lips and raised his hand to his chin. "You mean you have more than one kid?" he asked, his eyes widening slightly as he looked her over. "You're not much older than a kid yourself by the looks of you..." he said, with a soft chuckle as he enjoyed the banter and getting under people's skin. "How old were you when you started breeding, Misses Moff?" he teased, as the navicomputer began to beep to indicate they were nearly to Sullust. He rolled his eyes at the equipment, hating interruptions.

"Oh, Meham'ohorovi'cloca, you did nothing wrong. I should have been at home to experience the moment myself. Don't look so downtrodden. You'll have plenty of chances to prove yourself during our field trip." Sierra guessed that Meham'ohorovi'cloca was talking about Callista. The little girl seemed to frequent their home more and more. To Reg, Sierra rubbed the sleep from her eyes. "That is a complicated question to answer, Mister Collinwood. I only have one *biological* child. That is my son, Bruce." She stuck out one finger. "Then there are two daughter from my husband's previous marriage." Her fingers added two more on. "We have two adopted Squibs." Two more fingers. "Andddd, I'm pregnant with twins." She laughed. There was no question that Sierra was in working condition. "I was twenty when I had Bruce. That wasn't long ago. I know, I know. We're *busy*. Jealous much?" She prodded him back. Meham'ohorovi'cloca was dismissed. Her eyes lingered on the navicomputer. "What about you? Do you have any children?"

Reg had not had enough schooling to count as high as the number of children the woman that sat across from him had. When he first met her he had to admit he was initially interested, but when a woman has *that* many children it usually is not worth the headache. He would allow the Grand Moff to keep his woman rather than turn on the old Collingwood charm and sweep her off her feet. "None that I know of," he said, with a smirk, as he turned to prepare the ship for its exit from hyperspace. "*Busy* is one way to describe it," he said, laughing to himself, as the swirling blue column in front of them faded away and was replaced by a vibrant starfield and a distant red orb. "Good to know I'll have something to look forward to when I'm as *old* as your husband," he said, when suddenly the proximity alarm began going off. A flight of TIE fighter were swarming them. "...if I live to be that old," he said, as he began to slow the freighter to avoid being blown out of the sky. "You want to call off the loth-wolves?" he asked, nervously, as he watched the sensor display. "Hopefully they're all as obedient as *that one*," he said, as he motioned over his shoulder at the silent Chiss.

His charm would have never worked. Her eyes were for one man. There was no one who could trump Claudius. Sierra thought of her husband, wishing that the world could be perfect and that they could both stay home with the children instead of working hard and attempting to avoid being murdered by Vader, the Emperor, or various Imperial officers. Thinking about it made her head hurt. The inner Alderaan noble woman was sickened by Reg's attitude. He probably acted like a rabid, horny dog. She crossed her arms over her chest and sat up. She snorted. He was prodding at Claudius' age, though he had no idea how much older her husband was than her. "You'll never get as lucky as he did." She winked. The sight of TIEs always reminded her of home. Now, she took to her comm and spoke into it. She named off several Imperial codes. The TIEs departed, scampering off to harass anyone else. Her eyes narrowed. "That one is spoken for. Leave her alone before I use my blaster on you." She looked back at both girls. "Ladies. I'm leaving it up to you two to figure out what is going on with the cargo. The troublemaker and myself will keep suspicion away from you for as long as we can." She prayed word that she was looking for a yacht for Drusilla didn't reach her daughter's ears. At the same time, she prayed the little girl in her stomach wouldn't be identical to Dru. She didn't know if her wallet could take the hit from having *two* of them.

"Probably for the best," Reg began, as he adjusted the controls to navigate towards Sullust once the TIE fighters maneuvered off. "Like they say, once you go blue..." he snickered, but any expression of humor quickly left his face when what next appeared through the viewport caught his eye. Near the planet the transports that had left Ralltiir were joined by transports from a dozen other world before making another final hyperspace jump towards parts unknown. There was a fleet of Star Destroyers and their escorts protecting the convey and the stations that were fueling them. There must have been more TIE fighters than he had ever seen in his life. "...where did you bring us?" he asked, for the first time in their interaction he had nothing witty to say. The color was leaving his face and suddenly he wished he was back in his cell.

The conversation between Sierra and Reg went right over Meham'ohorovi'cloca's head. As the ship exited hyperspace she took the seat behind Reg again, but even she was unprepared for what happened next. Her red eyes went wide attempting to count the ships and identify them, and practically pushed Reg aside to lean in and examine the sensor records. "I need to record this," she explained, as she began furiously pressing information into her datapad. Even the computer had a difficult time calculating the number of Imperial ships gathered.

Silently Allegra Ames was miffed that the smuggler had made a comment about Sierra and Meham'ohorovi'cloca while ignoring her. Unlike the excited Chiss, she found herself with a growing sense of dread. "I have a bad feeling about this..." she said, from her position seated behind Sierra. "We should ... we should turn back," she said, like a sniveling coward, which was quite the accurate description of her. "Whatever those transports are doing I don't think we're supposed to know, Milady," she confessed, as her cheeks went to a pale shade of white as the blood retreated in a manner similar to what she would like to do.

No! That was Meham'ohorovi'cloca who he was talking about. Sierra formed her hand into a fist and punched his arm. "If I knew I was going to be traveling with such a pervert, I would have brought a spray bottle. Down, boy!" She chastised him. Just as their banter started to fill the cockpit, Sierra went silent. Even she was awestruck by the amount of Imperial ships keeping the cargo safe. It was all the more confirmation that the cargo was very precious. Emperor Palpatine couldn't resist losing any of it. She was speechless. Beside her, Meham'ohorovi'cloca worked to grasp the situation that her superior had led her into. She bit on her lower lip and wondered if she was really making the right move here. This was dangerous...dangerous in a way she had not been involved in before.

Allegra suggested turning back, to which Sierra immediately replied. "No. We have to keep going. We need to find out." She was insistent. To Reg, she provided a veiled explanation. "There is something very important inside those cargo transports. I have no idea what, but it is clear that no one wants us to know. I didn't want to give myself away by using my husband's noticeable ship. I can't help but think something truly terrifying is in the works." Sierra told them. She sat back, still committed to the mission. She wanted to com Claudius and tell him what was going on. Even he would likely support an immediate withdraw, but she couldn't. She couldn't risk their message being intercepted, nor could she let this go unchecked. "Continue on course, Mister Collinwood." She ordered him this time. Beneath her authoritative tone, fear rang out. She had bit off more than she could chew.

"She may have a point," Reg told Sierra, referring to Allegra's cowardice. "Fine, fine," he sighed, after Sierra had instructed him to press on. "Gimme a little room," he complained to Meham'ohorovi'cloca, elbowing her out of the way so he could comfortably grasped the controls. "Where to?" he asked her, as he took his hands off the controls and looked towards her. "Surface of the planet? Supply station? Command ship?" he asked her, as the ship glided closer towards Sullust and the unprecedented Imperial presence. He attempted to swallow, but his mouth was strangely dry. He could have benefited from a Corellian ale right about now.

She pushed Meham'ohorovi'cloca away from her. "Sorry," she muttered. The gravity of this situation was coming crashing down. If they messed up, Sierra could bring a good deal of pain unto her family. Her saw was clenched. Her eyes were focused on the cargos that were out of her reach. It was Reg's voice that shook her away. Her blue eyes blinked away tears. "SoroSuub Corporation. I find the fact that the mysterious cargo running through their territory a coincidence too clear to miss. There must be some kind of connection. We will pose as a wealthy couple searching for the perfect yacht." She rose from her seat. She needed to get changed. "Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca, Commander Ames, it is important that no one knows who you are. Keep your identities secret." She told them, making her way to the back of the ship to find some privacy; a place where she could breathe again.

"Aye, aye, Misses Moff," Reg said, as he angled the nose of the Kima down towards the planet Sullust. He was glad to be avoiding the Imperial fleet, but at the same time once they left the ship he would have much less control. "...wait. Did you say a *couple*?" he asked, as they penetrated the upper atmosphere of the planet on their descent. "I'm not sure they'll believe a guy like me would go for a girl like you, but you're the boss," he said, as the craft began to shake from turbulence as they entered the lower atmosphere. Gradually he set the Kima down in a larger hangar within the SoroSuub Centroplex. The surface of the planet looked to be molten rock with active lava flows still visible. "Hope everyone brought closed toe shoes," he joked, as he began to unstrap himself and rise from his seat.

"Is it wise to involve him like this, milady?" Allegra asked, as she rose from her chair as Sierra began to move away. She did not care if *he* heard her comment. She wanted him to know. Whatever the Empire was up to here it would be difficult for them to find out, but fortunately if they were caught her compatriot was an alien whom she believed she could easy shift all the blame to. "C'mon, Meham'ohorovi'cloca. Follow my lead," she said to the Chiss, enjoying ordering her around with the costumes she had selected. The sooner they found out what was going on the sooner they could return to their own ship. These local Imperials most likely would not care about who they were. This was the Outer Rim ... *not* the Ringali Shell.

The couple rouse was overdone and the best route at the same time. They didn't look like a match made in heaven. For the next few hours, they were going to need to impersonate their asses off. She paused to the sound of Allegra's voice. "As much as it is debatable, my gut says we're doing the right thing here. At this exact moment, he's involved whether he wants to be or not." Sierra responded to her. It made her feel anxious to watch her and the Chiss woman leave. She worried for Meham'ohorovi'cloca's safety ... and Allegra, kind of. She turned into the bathroom and began to dress. Her attire consisted of leggings and a simple dress. She groaned. The material clung to her body tightly. "I just bought this a month ago.." She complained. Her hormones raged a war inside of her. The article of clothing was ill-fitting. For an inexplicable reason, Sierra wanted to cry because of it. She sniffled in front of the mirror while her fingers toyed with her hair. She didn't want people to notice her, not that people saw her much when she hid behind Claudius' back and worked from the shadows like a true ISB officer.

Her eyes were puffy and red when she left the bathroom. The will to go home had never been stronger. She made her way back up to the cockpit where she collected her datapad and shoved it into her purse. Now that Allegra and Meham'ohorovi'cloca were gone, Sierra settled back into the cockpit. "It's important we get answers here," she said to him seriously. "Did you know that the Empire built something that was so powerful it *destroyed* Alderaan? Well, until recently, I didn't know. All I knew was that my home planet had been taken from me. I'm suspicious of the cargo that's being so heavily guarded. I wonder if the Empire is about to blow another planet to smithereens." She drew the veil back for Reg. He deserved to know what he was getting into.

"Is that your plan? To distract them with tight clothing?" Reg asked, after taking a good look at her wardrobe change. "Don't bend down to pick anything up ... you'll burst," he teased her, as he was starting to enjoy this. "Answers? What kind of answers?" he asked her, as the smile left his face and the tone became more serious. "You're just finding that out, Misses Moff?" he said, shaking his head, as if unwilling to accept her statement. "*Everyone* knows the Empire destroyed Alderaan, even the Grand Moff's own dau- ... oh," he said, as he lowered his head, while brining his palm up to his forehead. "...and what do you care if the Empire is going to destroy *another* planet" he said, forcefully, as he raised his head and glared at her. "You *are* the Empire. You're ISB. You're in the planet destroying business last I checked," he said, revealing his true feelings towards the Empire.

"You joke, but the tight clothing approach might work." She said. She didn't want him to know how hormonal she was. Sierra needed a pudding cup and she needed it *stat*. She thought of where she had stupidly left them on the holotank. Why oh *why* did she leave her pudding behind? She shortly mourned their loss. "I know, I know. I had my suspicions, but there were people manipulating me and keeping the true from me. I don't even want to get into it." His opinion on the Empire seemed clear from the start. Now he was calling her out as being in that business. She turned away from him, glancing out into the hangar. "Reg. Do you ever have those times where you are so deep in shit that there's no way out of it?" She asked him, though she didn't bat an eye at him. "Do you think I'm *happy* that Alderaan is gone? I'd have drunk myself to death if it weren't for my husband. That was home. That was *my* home!" She slammed her fist down on the seat's armrest. "I will never get to show my children the beauty of where I grew up, nor will they ever know the parts of my family that didn't suck. In a single moment of pure evil, the Empire took my everything away. If we are truly preparing to build another monstrosity that is capable of destroying another planet, then I'm going to do everything in my power to stop it."

"Are you joking? I'm in one of those situations right now!" Reg exclaimed, as he tried to explain his point of view to her. "Here I am forced into an ISB plot in the Outer Rim that I'll be lucky to survive," he reminded her, before rolling his eyes. When she described Alderaan he could see that it was a raw nerve, so he decided not to press the issue further. "Look. Whatever you're into here we have a better chance of succeeding and getting out of here if we get started," he explained, with a sigh, before rising from the chair. "How long do you think it's going to be before those two blow their cover and get us all in a jackpot?" he asked, shaking his head, and wishing he had his blaster pistol. It was a funny thought to have, as what would one blaster do against a legion of Stormtroopers. Still, he felt naked without it. "If the Empire is building what you fear they're building its best we get as far away from it as possible," he was quick to point out, before offering a hand to help the pregnant woman out of the chair. He only hoped her outfit did not shred when she stood. Or did he hope that it would? Even he did not know the answer to that at the moment. It was a very confused situation.

"No, the situation would have to be worse than this. Eventually, I'm going to cut you free. You'll be able to gallivant around the universe as you please. I'll remain playing the role of a devoted Imperial to keep my family safe." She told him. Somehow, it felt kinda good to get it all out. It wasn't like Reg cared about the problems in an ISB officer's life. She wasn't like the others, was she? Bringing up Alderaan made her miss it. She yearned to visit her favorite places with her family. She missed the familiar places. A melancholy feeling spread through Sierra, but it passed on account of his joke about the girls. She laughed softly. "Not long. We really should get going."

To her surprise, he offered her a hand and helped her to her feet. She looked at him with a straight face. "Thanks, *honey*." She batted her eyes at him like a teenager then proceeded towards the ramp. The outfit was massively uncomfortable. It made her feel out of her element. After they proceeded through the blast doors into SoroSuub building, Sierra saw the most disturbing sight she had ever witnessed.

Debra the Hutt stood in all of her glory. She was talking in rapid Huttese to a Sullustan who looked confounded. The Hutt herself was a masterpiece...the true work of an artist with absolutely no talent. Her cheeks were reddened by blush. Her eyelash extensions were coated with a mascara that made them shine blue each time she blinked, which was infrequent enough to be creepy. Her green body was covered up by what could only be described as someone's attempt at a fashionable moo-moo. It was hot pink and hugged her body like a sausage. She even had a wig of black hair which was braided and flung all over as she shook her fat head. One could easily miss the pearl necklace around her neck hidden beneath her double chin. Beside her was a female Twi'lek who contrasted Debra the Hutt in every way. She was slim. Her blue body was barely covered in the finest two piece bikini her Master could find. It was apparent immediately that she was Debra's translator. The large female Hutt had a paw...if you could call it that...resting on the girl's head. Only to displayed power against the Twi'lek did the Hutt grab one of her dual lekku and pull. The Twi'lek let out a little whimper. It was well known that you could cause serious damage to a Twi'lek by mishandling the lekku. Debra knew this and exploited it to keep her fearful.

"...My Master says that her yacht should have been ready yesterday. Someone called her yesterday to tell her it would take a week longer..." The Twi'lek explained.

The back and forth between Reg and Sierra had put a smile on his face, but that quickly eroded when he caught a glimpse of Derba the Hutt in the hangar. He reached out gently to stop Sierra moving, before he turned around as if he were preparing to go back on the ship. "I need to avoid any Hutt entanglements," he mentioned, cryptically, without presenting much in the way of other pertinent information. He recently had a deadly encounter with a Hutt on Nal Hutta and there was likely a bounty on him because of it, although he had not bothered to stay in one place long enough to check. "Do you have another dress on board I could change into?" he asked her, quietly, as he looked over his shoulder, content to see the Hutt was preoccupied with the issue. He did, however, catch a glimpse of the beautiful young Twi'lek that was catching the Hutt's ire at the moment. It seemed he was easily distracted as he was standing next to a beautiful blonde only to end up gawking a Twi'lek from afar. "I mean, well, maybe it'll be okay," he said to Sierra, as he turned to begin walking towards the comotion. "Perhaps I could be of some service?" he said, as he offered a kind smile. He certainly was a scoundrel.

Sierra paused. She looked at the Hutt, briefly pondering if she was one of the stars from that show Zara liked to watch. It was terrible to watch the Hutt pull on the Twi'lek. Slavery was sickening. An uncomfortable feeling formed in her stomach. She wanted to rescue the girl out of motherly instincts. Her head snapped back towards Reg. "Um, okay. I do have another dress. We can make it work." She did a once over just to visualize Reg in a dress. Eh, he could probably pull it off. She could see his shift in attention from her to the Twi'lek. Was he being a pervert, or did he care for her wellbeing? She laughed. "Yeah, you think so?" She nudged him with her elbow. He was definitely *distracted*. She let him take the role. Two seconds ago he'd been cowering from the Hutt. Now he was introducing himself.

Debra slowly turned her head. She looked down at the human then to the Twi'lek who promptly translated. Debra said something unpleasant in response. When her slave didn't repeat after her, she yanked the girl's lekku again. "My Master says that you have nothing to offer her. She seeks a luxury craft. She says unless you're hiding one in your ... behind then you should leave us be." To make her point clear, Debra stared down at Reg. The slave had edited the original message since Debra's potty mouth frequently got them into trouble. She began speaking again. "My Master is interested in what you have to say." The Twi'lek rolled her eyes.

"Oh! Small galaxy," Reg said, smiling to the beautiful young Twi'lek who stood before him. "I, too, am here to purchase a luxury craft," as he took on the attitude of a wealthy Core Worlds elite. "My, uh, *assistant* here was just about to make the arrangements," he said, motioning to the woman behind him whose name suddenly escaped him. The cover story was quickly discarded as no creature as beautiful as this Twi'lek should ever be led to believe he was in a relationship. He wondered what kind of reaction he would get if he tugged on Sierra's hair in a manner similar to how the Hutt grabbed the Twi'lek. "Tell me, does your master know anything of the Imperial ships in orbit?" he pressed, trying his best to stay on target. From time to time he did accomplish more than flirtation.

Now it was Sierra's turn to roll her eyes. She could practically see the hearts in his eyes. A blue Twi'lek? He must be in heaven. She hoped that he knew what he was doing. She stepped forward to the angry Hutt and her slave. Her eyes lingered on the girl. As pretty as she was, the Twi'lek looked exhausted. She wondered how long she had been in the care of the Hutt. "I'll take care of those arrangements. How about you take care of these?" She winked. He understood. There was no way he didn't. She wandered forward to the front desk to continue posing as his *assistant*.

The Twi'lek's eyes grew round. She had met many people like the man before her. He was rich and powerful. He probably had slaves and treated them just as Debra treated her. Miri, the slave, was shocked by the information he'd given her. "No sir. We have been on Sullust since early this morning. She has no idea." While the spoke to Reg in common, she looked back at Debra and translated back to her. Only, she fed Debra lies about the man being able to help them. "We should return immediately to Nal Hutta."

"Nal Hutta? Never been there," Reg said, lying, as when he had last been there he left a Hutt's palace a charred pile of rubble. "What seems to be the difficulty in obtaining your craft?" he asked her, seemingly ignoring Debra herself for the time being. "I hope I don't encounter such difficulties, but then again that's what I have an assistant for," he joked, as he looked over briefly towards Sierra to ensure she was not being swarmed by Stormtroopers. "Tell me. Does she understand what we're saying?" he asked, before his eyes briefly moved towards the grotesquely outrageous Debra the Hutt. He smiled briefly, holding up his hand in a mock wave. If there was something he could do to alleviate the slave's plight he would, but they were in an Imperial aligned corporation's hangar with the largest group of Imperial ships he had ever before seen above them.

Miri didn't recognize him. The only time she spent away from Debra was when she slept. Bringing up Nal Hutta seemed to make her sad. "My Master, Debra, asked for a custom craft to be built for her. The average sized yachts aren't very accommodating for Hutts. She also wanted them to include a bathtub, and a large walk-in closet. There are complications in the design which are causing it to take longer. We are here to negotiate a quicker completion time." She looked over him shyly. Debra had bought Miri when she was a young girl. Though she wanted to escape as badly as any other slave might, she could feel the large hand gripping her lekku threateningly. There was no escape. No one wanted to anger Debra the Hutt. "No sir. She doesn't speak any common. I have tried teaching her simple phrases, but she insists that she has *me* for that, and that I will not leave her until I die." She told Reg this like it was a fact she had accepted. She had tried escaping once. It hadn't gone in her favor. Her eyes rolled over to the man's 'assistant'. Her glance lingered on the woman's belly. Suddenly, Miri thought she understood the situation. This man was her Master. He favored her and had decided to invite her to his bed. While she had heard of such things, Debra only flirted with the male Twi'lek. She never took any to bed.

Reg inhaled sharply through his nose twice. "Now that you mention it I think the old girl could use a bath," he said, half-joking and half-serious. There certainly was a foul odor coming from the giant slug-like Hutt that stood before them. "Hmm. It seems you are very skilled," he said, as he raised his hand to his chin and began to stroke it slowly as if in deep contemplation. "Do you think your master would sell you?" he asked her, as his attention against shifted back to Debra the Hutt. "I think your skills could be of great benefit to me," he said, wanting to help the Twi'lek, but unsure of how at the moment. The lack of a blaster was one obstacle facing him. The tens of thousands of Imperials was the other. Even as he proposed his poorly constructed plan the fact that he had no credits to speak of failed to enter his mind as well. Fortunately, the Grand Moff's wife must have had considerable assets and given the danger of the mission perhaps he could negotiate a fee for his services.

Miri frowned. It looked like there was something traumatic playing behind her green eyes. "Oh no.. She *does* stink. It takes me four whole hours to bathe her...sometimes more." She reached back, pulling one of her lekku out of Debra's grasp. She ran her fingers over it. The girl was in pain. When the man suggested buying her, Miri's spirits didn't brighten. She already knew the answer to the question: no. Not over Debra's big, fat Hutt body. "Sir, my Master purchased me when I was a child. She believes there is no one to take my place." She wasn't sure if he was trying to help her or not. Her eyes, once again, lingered on Sierra. She was trying to make sense of the situation but she had a bad headache from all of Debra's yanking. Still, she turned to the woman and began speaking. Even Huttese, an ugly language, sounded sweet and delicate from her lips. The question was answered with a loud, booming laugh. Debra nearly fell over from laughing so hard.

"Purchase *her*!?" She bellowed while Miri translated. "I sell her for 20,000 credits." Debra stated like the number had been in her head all along. "Or a speedy completion of my yacht. You have power, don't you, fancy boy?"

Reg coughed uncomfortably when he heard the figure of 20,000 credits bandied about. His cheeks turned red and he nearly stumbled, but caught himself and forced a smile on his face. "Just a moment. Allow me to speak with my assistant," he said, as he bowed at the waist to the Twi'lek and the Hutt. He wondered where he was going to get 20,000 and thought that perhaps the yacht business might be the better option. He moved quickly towards Sierra, and when he closed the distance he placed his mouth dangerously close to her ear in the hopes only she would hear him. "How's it going? Learn anything?" he asked, before turning his attention back to Derba with a forced smile and wave. "Look. I'm going to need more than my freedom for helping you, Misses Moff," he whispered again, while never letting the smile leave his face. "How does 20,000 credits sound?" he said, as if he were only asking for 20.

Sierra was actually getting somewhere. As she attempted to order Reg a yacht, she learned that many of the manufacturing plants weren't producing factories. The Sullustan apologized up and down while conveying that it would take much longer to complete the customized model that Reg wanted. She offered a kind smile to the Sullustan. "One moment. I must discuss this with my client." She stepped back. His mouth was so close to her ear that his breath tickled her. It also made her feel relieved that she couldn't smell through her ear. Externally, she didn't make a peep when he asked for 20,000 credits. Internally, she was screaming. That was quite a hefty sum he was asking for. Her eyes lingered back on the Twi'lek. She understood exactly why he wanted the money. As a woman who had adopted a Squib child following the traumatic massacre of her family, Sierra understood and didn't fault him for what he was asking.

She turned her head, her lips close to his ear. "I've found out a little. Hopefully the girls are doing better. As to that 20,000... I suppose you deserve some kind of payment for jumping into this with us." She seemed relatively calm about the amount. Unknown to anyone, she had discovered some of Arden's secret accounts some months ago. Since then, she carefully, *slowly*, bled those accounts. She had not told a soul about this, but one would find a file on the datapad she carried with her titled vaguely. It was a holovid of her will and the money she had squared away should she die, or should she and Claudius die. Since the meeting with Lord Vader, reality really settled in. She would need to rebuild the funds, but there were many high ranking military officers who were hiding credits in obvious places. "Do what you can to save that girl." Sierra muttered, turning away from him.

Upon getting the thumbs up from Sierra he adjusted his collar and sauntered back over towards Debra the Hutt and Miri. He did not hear what she said about the mission as he had a one track mind and the train was currently rapidly moving towards the Twi'lek's station. "Inform your *former* master that my assistant has made the credits available," he said, with a firm nod of his head and half bow to the mighty Debra. "20,000 will be fine," he said with a renewed sense of confidence. "Hopefully she can put those credits towards getting her yacht so she can get that bath," he added unnecessarily, before looking back towards Sierra and nodding his head repeatedly. It looked as if he had bought himself a Twi'lek and a bobby dazzler at that.

Debra was jabbering away again. The Hutt felt that the fancy man wouldn't be returning. Miri wasn't worth 20,000 and could be replaced by one of the others. There were *always* others. The Twi'lek didn't look hopeful. She realized the large sum Debra demanded was irrational. She watched the man return. He didn't look like he had been defeated. Her eyebrows rose when he returned and claimed that he would be paying for her. Miri's cheeks flushed violet. "S-Sir, you **do** realize that you are overpaying. I am not worth a quarter of the price my Master is offering. I... I don't think I can ever make the investment worth it for you." It was too good to be it probably wasn't. Miri had been abused at the hands of Debra. The Hutt kept her well-fed and even allowed her to live in a nice room, but when things went wrong, Miri was usually the first to take the blame. She wanted her freedom from Debra.

"Nonsense," Reg said, with a smile so cheesy it would send anyone with lactose intolerance to the nearest refresher. "What's a few thousand credits between friends?" he asked, as he moved closer to the girl. "Credits can be replaced. You are priceless," he said, with a bit of swagger in his voice. "Let us conclude this transaction and then we can see to my yacht and leave this molten rock," he suggested, as he looked past her towards the grotesque Hutt to nod once again. He would not let her talk him out of this one ... besides it was not his money anyway. It seemed his decision to help Sierra was about to pay off for him.

He laid on the sugar. Miri blushed once more. Nervously, she turned to Debra and began relaying the message over. This man, this crazy man, wanted to purchase her for 20,000 credits. Debra's face turned pale. She began to laugh this big, deep laugh. "This one has lost his mind. A man so stupid with his riches should be careful." Debra stared him down. "Arrange the transaction. You will stay with me until another slave arrives to take your place. I *need* my translator." Debra thought that she might pull a fast one on this boy. She would take the credits and keep the Twi'lek. She certainly wasn't going to release Miri from her 'care'. The Twi'lek translated to Reg. "Come with me. We can take care of the funds transfer on my Master's ship." She felt Debra release her lekku.

Reg felt that Debra the Hutt was saying a lot more than the Twi'lek was translating, but he did not press her on it. He certainly had the opportunity over the years to pick up some Huttese, but he always had some distraction that prevented him from picking up the language. "I'd follow you anywhere," he said to Miri, lowering his defenses as he succumbed to her charm. Without alerting Sierra of where he was going he blindly followed the Twi'lek, with his eyes lowered in such a way that it was fortunate he did not walk directly into a wall. "I hope this won't take too terribly long," he said from behind her, as a different kind of smile began to form on his face.

His smooth talking was starting to work. Miri thought he was cute in a roguish kind of way. If she had some sort of free will, she may have even gone for him. She led them through the hangar towards a large that was large enough to comfortably fit a Hutt of Debra's enormous size. She took him up the ramp and into the ship, then she stopped him. "I know you." She started. There's a bounty on you put out by the Hutts. Debra only doesn't know because she's dense. What do you want with me? Do you even have twenty thousand credits? What's the deal with your pregnant slave?" Miri had too many questions. She was looking for a hole in his plans of saving her.

Reg was feeling like quite the cocky bastard until Miri got him in private and suddenly gave him an interrogation worthy of the ISB. He stared at her blankly for a moment, blinking in silence as he wondered where *this* version of the Twi'lek came from. "Y-you *know* me?" he repeated, babbling like some tree dwelling creature. When she revealed the bounty on him his eye went wide and his eyebrows crept up his forehead. He began to shift uncomfortably, his throat clenching, and a thin layer of sweat formed upon his brow. "I can ... I can explain!" he said, but of course he could not explain. "Of course I have 20,000 credits!" he said, which was at least one thing he could stand to be truthful about. "She is not my slave," he informed her, although now that she mentioned it he did like the sound of it. "She hired me to bring her here and back, but that's not important right now," he began to explain to her, without giving her any information that could compromise what they were doing here. "I want to help you. No one as beautiful as you should have to suffer in such a way," he informed her, with the smug smile almost immediately returning to his face.

Her hands were toying with her lekku again. Upon further inspection, there were bruises on them in varying states. Miri was trying to determine if this man was going to be worse than Debra, or better. She didn't care that he had a bounty out on him...who didn't? She listened to him begin to explain everything as briefly as he could. The pregnant woman did not belong to him. He had the money. He actually *wanted* to help her. She glanced into his charming face. She felt like she might melt if she looked at it for too long. Just like that, Miri decided to allow this man to buy her. "Okay..." She was still concerned. She took Reg to a terminal where he could input the account information. "Transfer the funds. I have served Debra for a long time. She thinks that she is going to keep the money *and* me." She told him with a dramatic sigh.

"Now you're talking!" Reg said excitedly, as he began to rub his hands together in an excited frenzy. "Wait, what?" he asked her, his mouth remaining agape after learning about Derba the Hutt's plan to cheat him. "Slimy, no good, double-crossing swindler," he complained, as he looked away from Miri and stared at the bulkhead of Debra's shit angrily. He took a deep breath to calm himself, realizing they were still on a world surrounded by the vast might of the Empire. "Alright. The funds have been made available to me by my employer," he explained to her, as his heart rate began to normalize and he slowly calmed down. He moved to hand her the credit chit that contained the 20,000. With it she could easily turn the funds over to her master *or* they could make a break for it and keep the 20,000.

She had seen Debra swindle others. Usually, it didn't work. This time, with the Imperial presence surrounding them, it seemed like she had a real change. The man wasn't likely prepared to fight off a fleet of TIEs, or anything else the Empire could throw at him. She stood, silently observing him. She reached over and took the credit chit. In it, there was enough funds for them to start a new life...or for him to pay Debra and potentially be ripped off in the near future. Miri didn't want to die. Each time Debra pulled on her lekku, she wondered if it would also be the last. She turned away from him. Her hand lingered over the terminal, but she stopped herself. "Where is your ship?" She asked him calmly. This was her only way to get away from Debra. They had to run together.

Reg could see the wheels turning in Miri's head so he was not surprised when she proposed fleeing Sullust. "My ship is the old light freighter in the hangar bay," he explained to her, not thinking much of his ship when discussing it with others. "Your master and my employer are both probably still near there..." he warned her, privately wondering what would befall Sierra if they made a hasty escape. It was likely she would be left to answer for his actions and then *both* the Empire and the Hutts would be after them. It was a dangerous proposition to be sure, but at least he would have his freedom back and a gorgeous Twi'lek at his side. "You're sure you're up for this? There'll be no going back?" he seemed to ask her, but perhaps he was simply talking to himself.

It would be easy for them to escape together. Debra wouldn't suspect a thing...not yet anyway. The Twi'lek knew that it was the right decision to take the credits and abandon ship. She looked at him. "I'm sure. I don't want to be a slave anymore." She told him. "There is one thing I need to find... Debra stole my kalikori. I can't leave without it." The seriousness in her voice told him how important it was. She darted into Debra's quarters; a room that smelled worse than the Hutt did. Miri quickly began digging through the Hutt's possessions. There were fine jewels and beautiful dresses. There were vases so elaborate in design that Miri had to wonder *why*. She took time tearing apart the room inch by inch. As it became increasingly evident that Miri wasn't going to find the kalikori, she began cursing. "She took sixteen years of my life... Now she has my family history." Defeated, she sat on Debra's gigantic bed. She placed her head in her hands.

"So this is where a Hutt sleeps. A smell I won't soon forget," Reg joked, as he stood in the doorway of Debra the Hutt's bedchamber. "I can see why she wants an upgrade," he continued, but when he saw that Miri was becoming upset as her search proved futile he decided it was a good idea to stop cracking jokes. "This ...*kalikori* ... what does it look like? Where might she keep it?" he asked, stumbling over the unfamiliar world. He knew little of Twi'lek culture or its significance. He had spent most of his life focused only one person ... himself. "Don't give up. It's got to be here *somewhere*..." he said, as he moved into the foul smelling room. As he approached her he reached out, touching her for the first time as he placed a reassuring hand upon her shoulder.

The jokes didn't phase her for the moment. She was worried about the kalikori and losing it forever. Miri looked up at him. Even the frown on her face made her look pretty. She could see he was trying to comfort her. It was kind...a type of kindness she had only seen previously from him. Her hand reached up, resting on top of his. "It looks like a pyramid with different pyramids coming off of it. A kalikori is a heirloom passed throughout a Twi'lek's family. It tells the history of the family. I don't remember my mom and dad. The kalikori is all I have left of them. I saw it in Debra's room back at her mansion on Nal Hutta. She moves it between the ship and her house just to torture me. It might not even be here."

Reg wanted to earn the affection of the young Twi'lek and he believed nothing would accomplish his goal more than locating the kalikori. However, when she revealed that it could be in Debra the Hutt's mansion on Nal Hutta he felt a chill run down his spine that kept on running. "N-N-Nal Hutta you say?" he said, trying, but failing, to maintain his swagger throughout. He closed his eyes for a moment, believing what he was about to suggest was crazy. "Maybe we could get back to Nal Hutta while Debra is still negotiating with SoroSuub on her yacht?" he suggested, unable to believe the words that were coming out of his mouth. "We get in. We get the kalikori. We get out. Before Debra even knows you've lest Sullust," he added, as it seemed like a sound plan ... in his mind at least. The execution of the plan, however, might lead to an actual execution. He preferred his head right where it was.

Delivering the kalikori would, no doubt, earn him the affections of the Twi'lek. The family heirloom meant a lot to her. She didn't want to lose it forever. The man suggested they scurry off to Nal Hutta to get the kalikori. After that, they'd be free. Miri would have the object she desired. Wiping the tears from her eyes, Miri nodded her head. "Thank you..." She whispered softly. "You never told me your name." She realized. It was awkward of her not to introduce herself. "I apologize. My name is Miri." She rose from the bed. The kalikori wasn't on Debra's ship. She would have to be content with the fact that she would get it back in the near future, but not right now. As she rose, she took his hand. She was ready to leave Sullust and thus strip herself of her status as a slave. She was about to be *free*. The thought made her heart pump fast. *Free*!

"My name is Reg," Reg informed her, introducing himself to her for the first time. "Reg Collingwood," he quickly added, revealing his full name to her. "Uh ... *Captain* Reg Collingwood," he even more quickly added, taking the honorific title of anyone who had their own ship. "Let's get off this Hutt's barge before we're caught," he said, unwilling to let go of her hand as they moved through the corridors of the ship and down the ramp that placed them back in the massive hangar of the SoroSuub Centroplex. He moved quickly over towards the Kima, but felt slightly concerned about what might happen to Sierra once he left. Still, whatever might befall her would not be as bad as what would happen to Miri if Debra learned of their plot. And that was how he justified it. "Hurry," he said quietly to her, as he ascended the lift that would place them safely aboard his ship. There was still the matter of the Imperial fleet, which he hoped his tired, old navicomputer could evade. "Tell me, do you have any skills that might come in handy?" he asked her, as he adjusted his collar. The more help he had the better their chances.

Miri looked at him suspiciously. She couldn't decide if what he was doing was romantic or completely insane. "Captain Regs it is..." He didn't know what he was getting into. Debra the Hutt may have appeared disgusting in every way, however, she possessed much money and influence. Miri let the worries she had go to the wayside and rapidly followed Reg through her old Master's ship and towards freedom. His word reminded her of how much deep shit they would be in if they were caught. Her footsteps quickened. In the lift, she felt her heart racing. When she awoke this morning, she hadn't thought this would happen. In so many ways, Debra had taken the fight out of her. She lingered close to him. "What? You expect me to have *skills*? Didn't you purchase me for my beauty?" Miri looked at him, cracking a little smile. "I speak far too many languages. I can actually use a weapon without sucking..." The smile faded. "Yeah, okay, I'm not doing great in the skills department. Just a little FYI, I've been a slave since before I can remember. This has been my life." She would need to develop skills for the new life she was about to live. That is assuming that they didn't die trying to get out.

"*Hmph*. I *purchased* you to free you," Reg explained, as he moved towards the cockpit of the Kima. "Well at least you speak Huttese. We're going to need that where we're going," he said, before sitting down in the pilot's seat and beginning the preflight procedure. His hands moved quickly over the control panels, cutting out whatever he thought was not absolutely needed. "If only we had weapons..." he muttered, shaking his head as he considered what they were about to do. "What kind of defenses does this Hutt have? Think you can get us through?" he asked her, before powering up the repulsor engines that would lift them off the hangar. He felt bad about abandoning Sierra and the two nitwits, but this seemed more important and more noble. His hands moved over the controls sending the light freighter surging out of the SoroSuub Centroplex' hangar and back up into the atmosphere.

She still seemed spectacle of that. Miri had just stole 20,000 credits and forced him to leave behind his employer. As things stood, the Twi'lek slave was looking to be a terrible influence on the poor, **innocent** Reg Collinwood. She sat down in the copilot's seat, suddenly becoming aware of how little she wore and just how much of her was exposed. Debra might as well have pranced her around the universe in nothing. She was angry at the Hutt woman who had made her life hell. Even now, she pulled both of her lekku over her shoulder and pet them as if apologizing for all the years of pain and torture. "You said we'll make it to Nal Hutta before my Mast- ... *Debra* notices I'm gone. We can pass through security by saying Debra sent me back to get something for her. No one will question it. Debra is a terrible being. Even the guys who guard her house hate her. They don't care about what happens to her." Just like that, they had taken off from the hangar and were working their way upward. Miri felt her stomach knot. She was excited... and terrified.

Allegra had succeeded in convincing Meham'ohorovi'cloca that the Chiss would be more effective on her own. Unbeknownst to the others she had slipped back aboard the Kima and found a suitable hiding spot to wait for the others to return. She was actually in the middle of a nap when she felt the ship jolt woke her up. "That was fast," she commented to herself, as she shook off the cobwebs and emerged from hiding. She made her way towards the cockpit where she expected to find Sierra and Meham'ohorovi'cloca, but to her amazement only saw the pilot and a scantily clad Twi'lek woman. "I knew we couldn't trust you, smuggler scum," she squealed, before reaching under her skirt to produce the hold-out blaster that was strapped to her thigh. "You turn this ship around or I'll shoot!" she ordered from between grit teeth and quickly reddening cheeks. For once she was right, but it seemed people rarely listened to her.

In the back of her mind, Miri began to feel excited. It was *over*. She looked at Reg. It was over because of him. Countless people had seen what Debra the Hutt did to hurt her. Of these people, only one cared enough to do something about it. Admittedly, Miri had misjudged him. She felt that way for roughly three seconds when *another* woman appeared. She looked at Allegra with confusion that rapidly turned to anger. The woman produced a hold-out blaster. She had heard Reg muttering under his breath about the lack of a weapon. There was one right there. Miri swiftly rose from her seat. She showed no fear, or restraint, when it came to disarming Allegra. In a blue blur, she grasped the blaster. In conjunction, she raised a knee to the ridiculously dressed woman's stomach. The blaster traded hands rapidly. Miri controlled the situation like she had been in it before, turning the blaster on the woman. "You asked if I had skills.." Miri commented while glaring at Allegra. No one would stop her from getting away now. She *needed* to get away.

Allegra may have had the only blaster on the ship, but that did not mean she knew how to use it. She had skipped weapons training at the Imperial Academy and instead charmed her way to a passing grade. It was a decision she would soon come to regret. "Ugh," she groaned as the Twi'lek easily wrestled away the hold-out blaster and kneed her, which forced all of the air out of her body. She was on the ground before she knew what happened, rosy cheeked and gasping for air. She was staring at the ground, but when she looked up all she saw staring back at her was the barrel of *her* hold-out blaster. "Rebel scum," she muttered, before spitting on the deck plating.

"Wha-?" Reg said, first as Allegra appeared and pulled a gun on them, and second when Miri almost immediately overpowered her and got the blaster. "How did you? Wait, nevermind," he said, as he shifted forward and returned to focus on the controls. "Look. If we make it past the Imperial fleet we'll stick you in an escape pod, but not a moment sooner," he said over his shoulder to the frightened Imperial officer. "You're our guarantee past these ships," he said, as the blue sky began to dissipate in the viewport and was replaced by a darkened starscape that included countless Imperial warships. "Enjoy your freedom, Miri. It might not last long," he warned her, as he nodded his head in the direction of the three Imperial Star Destroyers they would have to pass to get to the hyperspace lanes.

Her eyes narrowed. Miri was no Rebel. Instead of harassing Allegra, her eyes moved toward the viewport. Before them laid *three* ISDs that separated her from freedom. "It has to last longer than this." She told Reg, turning back on Allegra. "Do what you need to do to get us passed them or I'll shoot you right now!" She threatened in a voice that didn't hide how scared she was. If they were captured, the Imperials weren't what she needed to worry about. She chewed on her lower lip. "Do it!" She cried. Her finger lingered over the trigger. She was ready to pull it if she suspected that Allegra was up to something.

Allegra was quivering. She had never been so scared. Her war thus far had consisted in operating a sensor suite and relaying communications. She had *never* had a blaster aimed at her before. "Okay. Okay. Calm down," she pleaded with the Twi'lek, as she struggled to rise from the floor. All of the yelling was getting to her and tears began to flow from both of her eyes and, although she did not realize it, she had wet herself. "I'll do it," she said, as she moved forward towards the communication suite. Her years of service as an operations officer at least kept her well apprised of Imperial codes and routines. She paused, closing her eyes, and lowered her head. She swallowed nervously as it felt like she was being strangled by some invisible force. Clearing her throat she spoke calmly over the comm, providing the necessary clearance codes. Once she was done the TIE fighters once again moved off as they did for Sierra when they first arrived in the system. "Th-th-there," she said to them, pitifully.

It was difficult for her to calm down. Beneath the surface, Miri was just as scared as Allegra. The sight before her eyes scared her. They could have been blown away at the drop of a hat. They could have been collected by an ISD and question by ISB officers who were evil. She was so lost in her own head at the moment that she didn't realize Allegra had soiled herself in fear. Seeing her tears struck a chord inside of her. The blaster almost slipped from her hand. Did it make her a monster to want to survive so badly? She was silent. Allegra played her part perfectly. In no time, the TIE fighters glided away from them. She let out a breath she didn't know she'd been holding in. "Holy shit." She felt her knees buck uneasily underneath her. Her hand clutched Reg's shoulder to help keep her standing. "We're leaving..." She stated as they reached a hyperspace lane. "No more Debra..." Her hand was shaking on his shoulder.

Reg exhaled a deep sigh of relief as the swarm of TIE fighters dissipated and they were able to travel unmolested past the terrifying trio of star destroyers. "You handle yourself well. I'll give you that," he said in a quick compliment to Miri as he began to navigate them towards the hyperspace lane. Rather than accelerate to their top speed he continued at a steady rate, flying casually to avoid any unwanted Imperial attention. "I'm going to download the coordinates for Nal Hutta," he said, as he reached over and began working on the navicomputer. "Dump what's her name into one of the escape pods. She's overdressed for a funeral," he quipped, as he nervously awaited the computer to finish gathering the needed coordinates. It never seemed so slow.

"Thanks..." She said to him. Miri stood on her own two feet. "Come on, let's go." She pushed Allegra towards the back of the ship. She expected to find its escape pods there. Her eyes seemed to glare at the overly elaborate dress the woman wore. Miri had strong feelings against rich people. She kept the hold-out blaster pressed to the woman's back until she reached the escape pods. "Get inside." She mumbled, pressing a button to open the hatch of the pod. She stepped back, expectantly looking at Allegra. "Do us a favor and forget us." Miri's brain was wired with fight or flight syndrome. While she wasn't a terrible person, she was a scared person. As Reg began to get to know her, she would warm up. The ice that had formed around her heart would melt.

Allegra had been humiliated. Not only had she been overpowered by the Twi'lek, but she had been forced to get them through the Imperial fleet. She was certain to lose her commission and maybe end up in prison ... or worse. She climbed into the escape pod with no hesitation and once inside she glared back at her Twi'lek captor. "I'll *never* forget," she complained bitterly, before folding her arms in front of her chest defiantly. She had no idea how she was going to explain this to Sierra. There was no explanation.

As the escape pod was jettisoned and they were relieved of their Imperial cargo the navicomputer finished its work and began beeping. "Strap yourself in. I'm going to make the jump to lightspeed," he warned Miri, before his hand moved the hyperdrive activator forward. An instant later the Kima streaked forward from the vastness of space into the swirling blue column of hyperspace that would bring them to Nal Hutta. While they may have thought it was over, it was just beginning.

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