Not switching to DTV
Join Date: May 2003
Location: just past the pot o' gold
Current Game: TrackMania Nations
“Seal off that access panel,” Devi Haalen ordered sharply. Dressed in an Imperial Intelligence uniform, the twenty-six-year-old was quite the impressive image, standing on bridge of a ship he’d had since graduating high school and running away from home. Best described as deceptively slender, the tall young man was a lot stronger than he looked. And at the moment, three other Imperials were doing everything he demanded of them.
“Devi?” The voice of his young sister, Katri came to Devi’s ears and he turned to face her with a wide grin.
“You’re not supposed to be out here, little Kat,” he scolded the thirteen year old. Devi was the only one who could still get away with calling her ‘little’, but today even hearing it from him seemed a little frustrating to the girl.
“I know,” she shot back, “but I wanted to see you before you left.”
“I’m not taking this ship, Katri,” Devi said. “You could have waited in the house with Dad and Mom.”
“Not taking this ship?” Katri’s mouth dropped open. “But you told me... you’ve taken it everywhere since you left home.”
“Yes, and when you grow up a little more, it’ll be your turn,” Devi said. “Listen to me, Kat. I’ve named this ship Devi’s Treasure. I did that because I mean for you to use it while I’m away and of all the things I have, of all the people I know, I treasure you most.”
“Captain Haalen,” one of the other officers interrupted. “We had really better be going.”
“I’m your treasure?” Katri asked, grinning at her big brother. Devi chuckled and wrapped his arms around her.
“You’re Devi’s Treasure... and don’t you forget it, ‘cuz I’ll be coming back for my treasure, and I want to be entirely sure nothing’s missing, you hear?”
“Gotcha,” Katri promised. And just like that, Devi was gone.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Seven years later...
"Transport Devi's Treasure, identify your captain."
"This is Katri Haalen of Devi's Treasure," a pleasant female voice replied. "I'm the captain."
"Katri Haalen, your identity has been confirmed," the young Imperial lieutenant said. "However, your data file says nothing of crew and yet that ship you've got should have at least three others beside you."
"I've modified the control interface," Katri answered. "It's just me and an astromech here, so..." She paused. "I'm sorry, but is this necessary information? I'm an independent contractor. I get paid to ferry stuff from one place to another, usually no questions asked. Am I cleared to drop my cargo?"
The young lieutenant was not particularly happy with Katri's shortness, but he understood there was little he could do. And if he turned her away, then he'd be the one in trouble. "You're cleared to land, Ms. Haalen. Be advised, you are landing in a restricted Imperial facility. You are not permitted to..."
"Yeah, yeah," Katri sighed. "I've done this many times. I'm not permitted to leave my ship. Any steps taken on my part to do so will be met with blah, blah, blah... I'll open the cargo bay for your workers once I'm down." She cut the com line and rolled her eyes.
"Honestly, Efsev," she groaned to R2-F7, her astromech, "it's like I'm a beginner on every job. No, scratch that, it's like I'm a criminal, being read my rights..."
The droid let loose a flurry of whistles and beeps as they descended toward the assigned docking bay, and Katri laughed.
"So is that how it goes around here?" she asked the droid. "I finish the Imperial's sentence with, 'blah, blah, blah,' and you do the same with me?"
Efsev blatted his confirmation. Katri chuckled and brought the ship down to a gentle landing. Once she was down, she opened the cargo access. After a few moments, the young Imperial lieutenant stalked onto the bridge. Surprised, Katri stood and turned to face him.
"Impressive," he said sharply. "A civilian trained in the proper way of addressing an Imperial officer?"
Indeed, and not just that... a civilian trained to kick your ass if you disrespect her, Katri thought. She smiled faintly, imagining his reaction if she told him that. Instead, she said, "Makes the job easier. I deal with a lot of you guys."
"Yes, well I'm told you're not bad to work with." He extended his hand to her. "Lt. Vann Lasko."
With a wide smile, Katri shook his hand. "A pleasure to meet you, I'm sure. May I inquire as to the purpose of this... personal visit?"
"I'm just curious," Lasko replied. "Perhaps not the greatest trait for one in my position..."
"On the contrary," Katri cut in, "one in your position ought to have a great deal of curiosity. At the same time, you must know how to curb it when necessary. You have proven that ability to me already."
"Have I?" Lasko was surprised.
"Indeed," Katri answered. "As I was landing, you were curious as to the lack of other crew aboard my ship. It could be considered suspicious. A suicide pilot wouldn't need any other crew since he wouldn't be planning on a safe landing, so you asked. When I was slightly offended by your prying questions, you knew to back off. After all, I've been ferrying cargo for the Empire for three years now, so I have a proven track record."
Lasko was impressed. Katri Haalen definitely knew how to flatter a man. He'd simply been curious... none of the things she'd mentioned as to his motives were even remotely accurate, but they certainly made him feel good about himself. "That you do," he said, trying - and failing - to supress a grin. "Allow me a little more curiosity."
"By all means."
"Do you carry for the Empire alone? And if so, why don't you simply get a government job? I'm sure it's a bit more steady than your freelance work."
Katri nodded patiently. "Yes, it would be more steady, but that's not really what I'm looking for. I get paid better for working the way I do, and no I don't work solely for the Empire. Last week I ferried a shipment of solar panels from a manufacturer to Sienar Fleet Systems. Three days before that, I was hauling food from a supplier on Corellia to a Corellian restaurant on Corusc... uh... Imperial Center. Just before I picked up this shipment, I delivered a rare archaeological find from the dig to a private collector. So you see, my work is extremely diverse, hence the extremely profitable nature of it."
"I see," Lasko said slowly. "And why then do you take Imperial jobs at all? It seems your... other ventures are far more worthwhile..."
"Well, it's part of an agreement I made with the Empire," Katri explained. "I do a certain number of jobs for them and they won't force me into the military. And really, I don't mind. I have nothing against the Empire. I just don't wanna be a soldier. That's all. I like my freedom too much." Teasing, she added, "Besides, I'd look awful in uniform."
"I see." The words came more easily from Lt. Lasko's mouth, and with a smile this time. "Well, I'd better get back to my station. You'll be ready to go in just a few minutes. We're recharging your fuel cells and transferring payment." He turned to leave. "Oh, one more thing... I was instructed to give you this."
He passed a datapad to her and she accepted it. Once Lasko was out of sight, she looked at it.
"We regret to inform you that your elder brother..." she read aloud. Paling rapidly, she dropped the datapad, fell heavily into the pilot's chair, and whispered, "No..." Seconds later, as hot tears traced little trails down her cheeks, Lasko came over the com and told her she was free to depart. Blinking fiercely and brushing at her face, Katri busied herself with the controls, lifting off the ground. Efsev warbled a question.
"Huh?" Katri asked, distracted. The droid repeated himself. "Oh. I... it's from Imperial Intelligence. We're going home, Efsev. Devi went missing on his last assignment. And you know what that probably means..."
Efsev whistled sadly and Katri sighed, gritting her teeth in determination to avoid crying. "Yeah, I don't expect to see him again...Mom and Dad will need me..." She set a course for Corellia, knowing she needed her parents just as much as they needed her. Devi's Treasure jumped to hyperspace.
Last edited by Writer; 09-06-2008 at 05:54 PM.