In this installment of Star Wars fanfiction, Rebels Nile, Piani and Corana find themselves trapped in the detention area of ISB headquarters.
ISB Commander Rundsor arrives to round them up and gets an unexpected ally — Kaila.
Prior to leading the Rebels into ISB headquarters, Kaila had secreted away from Theed to meet them at Bethor’s underwater home.
The ISB agent took in Bethor’s place with a sense of wonderment and loss. It’d been quite a while since she’d been in the Gungan’s world. As an Imperial agent, Kaila shouldn’t even be here now.
The Queen had made Naboo’s waters off-limits as part of her swearing fealty to the Empire.
The emperor had ceded the swamps to appease the queen, allowing her to save face with her people while coming under the yoke of the Empire.
Some part of Kaila wished she’d left her family and moved with Bethor. She’d miss her brother Ian; Tretyro had imprisoned her father. As for her mother — best not to think on her.
Vengeance had driven Kaila to abandon a life of tranquility beneath Naboo’s oceans. Then again, how peaceful would that life have been?
Kaila looked at the motley bunch crowded into the small room in Bethor’s dilapidated house. She and Bethor had played in these halls when they were young.
The hallways had lost their opulence; the sense of enjoyment as dead as the coloring of the laser burns on the walls.
Of the group, the Twi’lek Piani was the worse off, having injured her leg during her attempted escape from Theed.
The Pantoran Corana had skillfully piloted them away while also recovering their other ally, Nile.
The brown-skinned human woman, Nile Chinelo, most interested Kaila.
During an interrogation session to which Nile had voluntarily submitted herself, the woman had revealed that she knew Kaila had secret abilities. Nile wanted to help Kaila harness them.
The caveat was Nile wanted Kaila to use her powers for Good, which she equated to helping the Rebellion.
Kaila’s sense of “good” was bringing the bastard who framed her father to justice.
Nile did present one concern: when Kaila finished her self-appointed crusade, what would she do? Nile warned that if Emperor Palpatine learned of Kaila’s powers, she may not like what happened to her.
“I’m just gonna throw this out there,” Corana said, cutting into Kaila’s thoughts. “Raiding ISB headquarters? No thanks.”
“Do you want to leave Naboo on your ship or in a star destroyer’s prison hold?” Kaila asked.
“I think we can manage,” Corana said, her gaze held evenly with Kaila’s.
“Agent Ores,” Nile began. “You say if we get inside, you can find a way to destroy the false data against the magistrate.”
Kaila nodded. There was more to her plan but the Rebels didn’t need to know.
“Can’t you do that without us?” Nile asked.
“The slice has to happen in the HQ,” Kaila said. “Tretyro and Rundsor would only trust the data to the servers there. As for why I need you? Wouldn’t look good for an ISB agent to slice her organization’s computers, would it?”
“Not if said agent wanted an early permanent retirement,” Piani conceded.
Nile smiled. Kaila gave her a suspicious stare.
“This sounds like an operation a Rebel would run,” Nile said.
Kaila used her hand to signal Nile to stop that line of thought. “I won’t let Tretyro frame another innocent man.”
“How are you so sure he’s innocent?” Piani asked. “I mean, Aadhar could be our contact for all you know.”
Kaila looked to Piani. “I know because I’m good at my job.”
“I can vouch for that,” Bethor chimed in from his perch just beyond the four women. “Back in the day Kaila gave us some good intel, kept my people from the Imperial roundup.”
Bethor held up his holographic projector bracelet. “Even hooked us up with these.”
“So the stormtrooper guise was your idea?” Corana asked.
Kaila shrugged. Corana balled her fist. Nile placed her hand over the Pantoran’s fist, coaxing her to calm.
“I know you three are new to the planet and unconnected to anyone here,” Kaila began. “I also know there were no independent terrorists or fledgling Rebels when Tretyro imprisoned my father. I just need proof. Aadhar may possess that proof.”
Corana stood and began pacing. “Okay. Let’s say we help you clear this magistrate. Then what, huh? Doubt your Imperial buddies will just let three Rebels waltz away in their starship.”
Kaila remained silent. Corana was not reassured. Nile spoke.
“And what of your abilities, Kaila?”
The ISB agent lowered her head, taking a moment to think. She eventually looked at Nile. “You do this for me, we’ll talk about my abilities after.”
“That’s not a ‘yeah, I’ll join your cause,’” Corana said. “Is risking our lives for your personal vendetta with a grand moff worth your abilities? Or your attitude?”
Kaila’s gaze shot to Bethor. “What did you tell them?”
Bethor shrugged. “Um… basically everything. Like you should have. It’s what allies do.”
“We’re not —” Kaila caught herself. The ISB agent shook her head. She looked from Corana’s distrustful expression to Nile’s reassuring one.
Looking back at Corana, Kaila said, “I think what you really want to know, Corana, is if I’m as good at this as I say I am. My question for you: are you as good as you say you are?”
Corana’s lips parted to speak but closed just as quickly. Their corners turned down in a frown, but her eyes held a level of respect for the brunette ISB agent.
Kaila saw Nile give her a subtle nod of respect for her gambit.
“And me with a busted leg,” Piani said. “This sounds like it’ll be a fun kinda hell. If any of you survive.”
The ISB agent looked at the Twi’lek. “Do you have any experience with slicing?”
“I created a secondary transponder code for the Bevryder and sliced it into Bespin’s nav system so we could land unhindered,” the Twi’lek replied.
“I could use a slicer,” Kaila said. Sizing up Piani’s mended but still broken leg, she added, “Even a battle-damaged one.”
Corana fell heavily into a chair. “Fine. What do you have in mind? And don’t think about doing one of your ‘will she or won’t she’ betray us tricks again.”
“That bitch played us again!” Corana shouted as she kicked the door to the detention center.
She pressed the door’s release button for the tenth time. The door remained locked from the outside. Even if she could get it open, Corana didn’t want to think of the Imperial forces massing on the other side.
“This is exactly why I said we should get the whole plan out of her!” she lamented.
“As far as we know, this is it,” Nile said.
Corana turned on Nile. “And what if part of that plan is us as trophies on her ‘Rebels I’ve busted’ wall?”
The Jedi had no response.
“You can trust her,” a male voice said from one of the holding cells.
Nile and Corana exchanged glances. Corana then walked down the line of cells. “Who said that?” she asked.
“I did,” Corana heard from the anonymous man.
The Pantoran walked to the man’s cell. Looking in, she saw a man with red dreadlocks and a rugged build. He slumped on the cell’s bed. “And you are?” she asked.
The man slowly turned his head to look at Corana. “My name’s Dorsen Jafan. I was a miner on Odoum.”
“And why exactly do you think we can trust Agent Ores?” Corana asked.
Jafan fixed his eyes on Corana. She saw desperation but with a hint of gratitude. “She told me she’d take care of my family if I confessed to being a Rebel sympathizer.”
“Are you?” Nile asked, taking a position next to Corana.
“No,” Jafan said. “But she held up her end of the deal. She didn’t have to after she got what she needed but she did.”
Nile gave Corana an encouraging glance. Corana shook her head.
“But you’re still behind bars,” she said. Looking at Nile, Corana added, “and she set this guy up to go to jail to get what she needed. See her pattern?”
“I did commit a crime,” Jafan said. “I leaked footage of dangerous conditions in the mines to a holo-journalist. The Empire doesn’t appreciate whistleblowers.”
Corana was about to speak when Piani called to them. The Pantoran gave Jafan a final look of sympathy and then followed Nile back to Piani’s position.
“What did you find?” the Jedi asked the Twi’lek.
“Your girl’s program found the files on the magistrate,” Piani began. “A novice slicer could see the hack and it’s got Imperial fingerprints all over it.”
“But since no one outside of the Empire would get more than a cursory look at the data,” Nile reasoned, “that wouldn’t matter. What is the program doing now?”
“Kaila set it up to archive the proof of the slice on the datapad,” Piani replied. “It’s also digging deeper into the uncorrupted files to —” she paused to look at an incoming data stream. “Oh crap!”
“We’re locked in a detention area with who knows how many stormtroopers about to bust in and kill us… or worse,” Corana said. “Don’t give me ‘oh crap!’”
“The worm program pulled the data it needed but now it’s re-writing other code!” Piani explained. Looking closer, she added, “I think it’s also connecting to an outside line!”
Corana moved closer to Piani’s monitor as if she could decipher the scrolling letters and numbers displayed. “Who the hell is it trying to call?”
Piani started punching buttons on the computer terminal’s keyboard. “I can find out, but it’ll take time.”
“We may not have that time,” Nile said in an ominous tone.
Corana and Piani looked at Nile, who was looking at the bank of monitors. All the ones for the interior of the detention cell displayed static, as they remained disconnected from the system.
A monitor displayed the hallway directly outside the area. On that monitor, the three Rebels saw several stormtroopers lining up in assault formation.
Three of them set up a military-style heavy repeating blaster.
Kaila lorded over the scene.
However, the blonde woman in an Imperial uniform arrived to change that.
Imperial Security Bureau Agent Kaila Ores watched as three stormtroopers assembled a heavy repeating blaster. The weapon was usually reserved for the battlefield.
Three Rebels breaking into their detention area was a special occasion.
A stormtrooper approached Kaila and handed her a commlink. “We’ve established a secure channel with the detention area,” he said.
The agent took the commlink and prepared to speak her first words to the Rebels.
“I’ll take that,” Commander Rundsor said striding into the area. “I believe I’m still in charge of the Naboo ISB.”
Rundsor reached Kaila’s position and extended her hand, her palm open and expecting the commlink.
“With respect, commander,” Kaila began, “I have the situation under control.”
“And what exactly is this situation you’ve manufactured, Agent Ores?”
Kaila noted Rundsor’s suspicions and took a breath before answering. “The Rebels brought me here under duress disguised as you. They got as far as the detention area with the goal of freeing the magistrate. I managed to escape —”
“You escaped two armed Rebels?”
“Three, commander,” Kaila said. “The Twi’lek prisoner was one of them. The second is a Pantoran, the third the Rebel you walked out of here yesterday.”
Rundsor bristled at that last remark, an obvious jab by the junior agent. “How exactly did you escape?” she asked.
Kaila blinked several times. “Do we really have time for this?”
Motioning to the closed door to the detention area, Rundsor said, “They’re not going anywhere.”
The junior agent closed her eyes while rubbing the bridge of her nose. “The Twi’lek is a slicer,” she said. “There’s no telling what damage she could do left with a terminal with direct access to sensitive ISB files for an extended period.”
Rundsor took a moment to assess the situation. “I assume they code locked the door?”
“Yes,” Kaila said, exasperation creeping into her voice. “I had our slicers concentrate on keeping her out of important systems while we handle the door.”
Looking at the repeating blaster, Rundsor said, “That weapon will take too much time. Get the demolitions team in here.”
To be concluded…