An even longer time ago, in a galaxy just as far away...
"Good work as always, agent," Kelly smiled as she observed their ride as well. "Let's take a look inside, shall we?"
Meanwhile, Hanna displayed much less interest in the ship and instead looked over the girl before taking a spot beside her and following after her once they headed towards the boarding ramp of the craft, "Hey. Were you out here all alone?"
Little Red watched the unusual entourage board the ship one after the other as Hanna spoke, "Imps, Pubs, Droids, Jedi... !" she remarked, noting all those who entered. Little Red looked to Hanna, "So what, you lot goin' for a full set or somethin'?" she laughed, "As for me... I'm always alone - safer like that yeah? Got brought here by some goody-two-lekku charity worker from Lannik though. She done thought she knew what's best for me, HA!" While Cipher Four made for the cockpit - Little Red following at his heels as she still very much considered this to be her ship - and Hanna continuing the conversation with her, Fan made herself comfortable in the modest crew compartment central to the ship. ADIN made a beeline for the engine room to check things over as they prepared the ship to launch, leaving Mischa and Kelly to take stock of everything else. As Cipher Four ran through the pre-flight checks - not to mention a few splices to bypass local security and force through their launch clearance - Little Red's head popped up at all angles around him as she attempted to view his work; first over his left shoulder, then his right, then around by his side, "I understand we promised to teach you something about flying this ship, but perhaps that could wait until /after/ we have escaped with this stolen ship..." his tone eloquent as ever, calm but with an underlying firmness; enough to lead Little Red with slumped shoulders and a small huff, "Fine! /I'm/ going to go explore /my/ new ship!" she declared as it were a victory before turning and trotting back into the main chamber where she gave Fan a wide berth. The YG-4210 was a fairly small transport, not intended for crews numbering so many as the group currently occupying this one for sure. There was only bunk space for up to four - split between two compartments either side of the cockpit - and a small living area directly behind there within the central spine of the ship. It's two cargo bays ran down the sides of the vessel, leaving a small engine compartment at the rear. The agents found the cargo bays to be largely barren, save for a few stacks of salvage. It would seem that the Spicers who it was liberated from had yet to implement their business expansion. Mischa idly rummaged through a few old plasteel containers in the corner of the port cargo bay, "Well it's not exactly your luxury cruiser Kelly; but should suffice to get us to a suitable world where can reunite with your vessel..." she paused, standing up straight and turning to face Kelly, a look of mild concern on her face, "...This whole affair now... isn't going to impact you or Haron Inc. is it? I would not want to draw any unwanted attention back to the company by way of our early departure!" Before Kelly could respond, their attention was drawn by a clattering noise from one corner of the room. Sharing a cursory glance with Kelly, Mischa silently drew her blade as they two approached cautiously. Before they could completely close on the source of the noise, a panel suddenly popped off the wall and Little Red's head poked out, "WOW! This ship's got all sorts of neat smuggling spaces!". Mischa stared at the girl a brief moment as she relaxed the blade back through the back of her belt and chuckled, "I see you are quite the explorer. Do you have much experience with ships like this?" "Nah..." Little Red began as she hopped down from the crawlspace, "...Most my time's been around swoops and all, yeah. Now gimme one of those bad boys... /neeeeeoooooooooowwwwwmmm/" she mimed a steering swoop as she fantasized, "...I'm really a swoop racer see! One of the only humans on Lannik what could do it 'cos of my small size and all!"
Kelly chuckled at the girl, "You're an excitable one, aren't you. How did you end up in Lannik anyways? I presume the swoop races took place in the Underworld, seeing the tight regulations on the surface. Did someone...drop you off there?"
She also turned to Mischa and responded much more quietly, "No need for worry there. We weren't seriously considering doing business with the Republic. Besides, with the whole incident that happened with Zad, I've got a good reason to get away from Coruscant."
* * * * * *
Meanwhile, Hanna made her way to the crew quarters as well. She hesitated for a moment in the doorway as she saw Fan, likely some lingering animosity from her time with the Knight when they stalked the Twi'lek and Cipher Sixteen. The Corellian woman did not display any open signs of fear though, and quickly broke into a formal smile.
"Hi. We haven't been introduced properly," Hanna extended a hand as she approached Fan. "I'm Dr. Hanna Swan, Worlport Hospital. But you probably already know that. You seem to know more about me than I do."
Little Red simply gave Kelly a half hearted shrug, "I just always been there. You know the undercity? Awesome swoop racin' there right! Hey that's a pretty neat little droid you got too. Could really use helping hand from an astromech on a ship like this you know..." she let words hang in the hopes of drawing sympathy and a possible donation towards her new enterprise. Mischa smiled, "So what exactly do you plan to do now you have this ship; assuming of course you can learn to fly it while we are here". Red shrugged again, "Ain't really thought on it to tell the truth... thought about going back to Lannik and carrying on racing, but I heard Tatooine's got a good scene too..." she sighed as she considered, "...But I don't know, ain't as young as was and I know one day I won't be so small and fast to compete. Gotta think about the future as I get older, yeah!". Mischa again chuckled at one so young talking like she was planning her retirement, "Well I suppose it is good to keep your options open. And while you may not favour either the Republic or the Empire, we may be able to help. We have some friends who are independent of galactic politics and based on a remote world. Maybe - and I mean maybe - if you prove to be as capable and reliable as I suspect, we can put you in touch with them as I'm sure they would benefit from a ship like this running supplies to them". Little Red seemed to consider this and the resolve on her face to prove worthy was clear, "Sounds as good an option as any!" she chirped. * * * * * Fan slowly looked up at the extended hand before her, following it's line up the arm to bring Hanna's formal smile into view, "That we do" Fan affirmed, letting the hand remain unmet for an uncomfortable delay before grasping it firmly, pulling to her feet as she did so and circling around Hanna, "Fan'Gwathren, but most simply call me Fan. I must say Doctor; you have proven to be quite capable in handling yourself today..." she smirked slightly as she looked over her shoulder to Hanna, "...If you weren't on the Imperials radar before, you most certainly are now. I am... curious to see what you will do next; if you will remain the loyal Republic doctor, or follow on with the sins of your father."
"Good idea, agent," Kelly commented. "The girl's loyalty is probably uncompromised, being so young and all. If she can prove herself, she'll be an asset for our friends. After all, Yatuni can't fly everything all at once!" After a moment of pause she continued, "Speaking of which...we're going to need a place to rendez-vous with Yatuni and my ship. We can't go to the Planet, not with all our other passengers on board, and we probably shouldn't reveal the location of any of our Black Sites either. Our best choice would probably be somewhere remote but still with enough traffic so we can blend in- a shadowport like Rishi or Ryloth or Port Nowhere." * * * * * * "I'm not sure," Hanna replied. "If you're asking if I'm going to spy on the Republic for the Imperials, no, that's not what I do. I'm a doctor. I help people. It doesn't matter if they're Republic, Empire, Separatist, or Hutt. As for where I'll go...I'm actually kind of stumped. I don't know if the Republic will even accept me after, well, the whole thing about my father. I could go freelance on Nar Shaddaa or something, or I could take a job for the Empire, but that's probably going to blacklist me for good."
"Port Nowhere isn't too far" Mischa nodded, "Do you want to head up to the cockpit and let our pilots know? I'll try and contact Laesa to see about the girl... maybe the doctor too" ******************** Fan studied the young doctor, "I don't know ehat the Imperials have in mind for you;bit it could be there's a place in the Republic for you still - with the Shadow Guard. I can't guarantee anything just now, but it's a possibility"
"To Port Nowhere, then," Kelly nodded. "Shouldn't be too much trouble, we've both had plenty of experience blending into shady places recently. Yatuni will know how to move around there without attracting attention, too. I'll go tell Cipher Four where we're headed and we'll be on our way soon." * * * * * * "The Shadow Guard? That's who you work for, right?" Hanna asked. "According to what the Knight told me, you're some kind of black ops group, running missions that the Senate need to keep quiet. I might know my way around a knife, but I'm no spy or soldier. I guess you could always use a doctor, though. You're not offering me a job just so you can keep an eye on me, are you?"
Fan smirked, answering as she slowly turned away, "Perhaps... and perhaps you think your Imperial friends will offer you any different..." she held the smirk as she allowed the words to hang and sow seeds of doubt in the young doctors mind.
The short jump to Port Nowhere passed without incident. Fan had saught Mischa out to inform the agent about her plans to part company as soon as they arrived. Even though Cipher Four was the senior agent, he had not earned the Twilek's respect as Mischa had done during the fight.
While Mischa did not like the idea of letting an enemy walk; she knew she had no real means to prevent her leaving. She was also concsious of the fact they shared a common enemy and trusted her instinct that Fan was no threat.
Upon their arrival, Kelly received confirmation from Laesa that Keelah would rendezvous with the freighter at Port Nowhere and - after getting her own read on the girl - would instruct her further. Fan made a swift departure with no word of farewell to amy of the others, though she was almost certainly keeping an eye on their movements as she continued to watch for Hannah's decision.
As they prepared to disembark and leave little Red to her own devices, Mischa turned to Kelly, "Yatuni should already be docked by now. If we make a quick transition we can soon be on our way..." she looked to the astromech still housing ADIN's chip, "Perhaps ADIN could leave the droid to assist our young friend in her new life? Would it be possible if so for him to leave behind some protocols that would allow us to reach out to her if needed, if not remotely access the droid again?"
Hanna hesitated for a moment, and then a moment more. She did not follow Fan, but did not stay on the ship either, though as they were not leaving yet she still had time to board if she wanted. Instead, Hanna stepped onto the station, glancing around at the rough, litter-ridden port that made her feel as if she were still in the Coruscant underworld. She explored her surroundings, but was careful not to wander too far away into the unfamiliar setting. Meanwhile, Kelly knelt down beside the astromech, connecting a datapad to it presumably to have an interface with which to access its programming, "I can establish a private communications channel, but it'll take a little more to have the droid back up to working condition without ADIN. The chip overwrites the original personality matrix of the droid, and when ADIN's gone it can't think for itself anymore. I've got some basic backup coding on my own ship, but if we need to head there anyways, we might as well pick out a different model for our new friend. We can still send I2 with them to the Planet, an Eye series droid could be useful for maintaining that information network Laesa has. Having a cyberwarfare unit look after a teenage girl might be a little overkill though."
Mischa nodded her agreement with Kelly's suggestion, "I believe we have just determined her first job then; to courier this droid into Keelah's custody" she chuckled, "I will advise Laesa that it is more to protect and aid our young pilot friend should it prove surplus to requirement there." As Hanna wandered off Mischa watched her with trepidation, "I hope she'll be ok. I don't like the thought of simply abandoning her here. Maybe we should go after her; if nothing else just to ensure she finds her way out of this port safely"
Kelly nodded in agreement, "It's the least we could do for her help, and for the Knight's help- he seemed to recognize something in this girl that caused him to take her up as a travelling companion. Or maybe she's just very good at insisting." Disconnecting her datapad from ADIN's current body, she stood and turned to face Mischa properly, "The astromech's secure comms channel's set up and accessible by whatever new AI we end up equipping it with. How much of a hurry are we in to leave this station? I could quickly run back to the ship and get this droid business handled while you go and speak with the doctor."
"Right now; the sooner we are back on your ship the better in my eye. Let's do what we must and be on our way" Mischa stood atop the boarding ramp watching as Kelly departed. She was about to head out after Hannah too when she was interrupted by footsteps approaching from behind, "Hello Red" she smiled as she turned to greet the approaching girl. "How'd ya know it was me?" "Well since the only other person on board is the man who helped you pilot this thing, your step os quite distinctively light next to his..." she smiled, "... and I am glad I caught you anyway; we have your first job lined up" Red narrowed her eyes on the Imperial, "I ain't no imp runner y'know..." to which Mischa chuckled, "I know. Some friends of ours are politically independent and could use your services to run supplies for them. All perfectly legit ddealings see. One of them is en route here. You'll... know her when she finds you. So just sit tight until she arrives" The girl was clearly apprehensive but shrugged her shoulders, "Alright... I s'pose ya ain't bad for Imps, and I ain't got much else going on yet so sure". Mischa smiled and resisted the urge to ruffle the plucky girls hair, "And Kelly will be back shortly with your cargo - and a small gift of our appreciation. But for now, I feel I must check on our doctor friend" With that she wandered off to find Hannah, first finding Cipher Four by the hangar entrance, "Impressive agent. But why dally here expending efforts on these civilians? This is not an efficient use of your time and resources". Mischa looked square to him, "I consider it an investment in a future ally. Fear not agent we will soon be under way." He watched as she left the hangar, arms folded as he leaned against the wall. He could not put his finger on it, but there was something about the young agent; some quality beneath the surface that he could not fathom, but he already admired.
Hanna sat in front of the counter in the local bar, a seedy establishment filled with unsavory individuals of all sorts, from brutish alien mercenaries to shady spice dealers. Everyone looked out of the ordinary here, and everyone chattered loudly, many of them too drunk to mind their words. Despite being in the middle of nowhere, as the port's name clearly conveyed, it was a hub of activity like few others, one of many beating hearts of the galaxy's extensive criminal underworld. The moment Mischa stepped inside this lively environment, she knew that behind many of the smiling faces of scoundrels and exotic apparel of dancers were layers of lies and deception. Such a hotbed of crime was by extension a hotbed of information, a favourate for spies of all factions. They had eluded Coruscant's authorities, but they were certainly not safe yet. The doctor appeared to be drinking something at the bar, conversing closely with a Nautolan spacer. Mischa's trained eyes could see that what appeared to be simple gestures were actually well-concealed searches of his pockets, and by the way her hand returned to her own body, she had no doubt taken something from man. The Nautolan did not notice, but he still seemed to walk away from the counter with a disappointed expression, likely from the woman having turned him down.
Mischa took her time approaching the bar, performing a quick study of every patron - every threat - she passed by. Approaching Hannah, she opted to air on the side of caution and put on her Republic accent given where Port Nowhere was situated, "So... any thoughts on what you'll do now?" she asked casually while raising a hand to the bartender; with a simple point she asked for another two of whatever drink was in front of Hannah - even if it was not hers.
"I'm thinking of working freelance somewhere," Hanna responded as the bartender poured two more glasses of Corellian noale. "There's plenty of places outside the Republic that have way more urgent need for doctors than the Core worlds. They're more dangerous too, but I think I can handle myself. If I survived a rebellion on Ord Mantell, there's not much a few pirates can threaten me with. I don't know where to go specifically yet." Finishing her original glass of the sweet, non-alcoholic drink, she took the second and nodded a thanks to the agent before asking, "Do you think I'll be allowed to go back with you? Not to work for the Empire I mean, just...find out who my father really was after all this time."
Mischa smiled softly as she sipped her drink and looked back to Hanna, "What is allowed doesn't really come into it. If you want something; you find a way to get it - allowed be damned!" she pauses to take another sip and leans in to Hanna, "Look, I'm not here to tell you what to do, or even to try and bait you one way or the other. I just want to make sure that you find the right path for you... so if that path leads back to Dromund Kaas; we stand by to aid you. If you prefer a more independent option... our young pilot friend is delivering a shipment for us to some dear allies. They may not have need of your services, but it's an option nonetheless. Of course, you could also return to Coruscant with the pink one..." she smirks slightly, "I assume by now she has invited you to join her, else she was not still be lurking nearby. Don't worry Doctor, if that is your wish; then go with my blessing. Like I said, I just want to see you safely on your way - I trusted the Knight's judgement, and he saw something in you - that in itself tells me that you are a friend" she smiled, taking another sip
Hanna listened closely as she slowly drank her glass of noale, "That she has. I don't presume you can tell me what these allies of yours do while we're out here in the open?"
Mischa considered her response as she did not want to insult Hanna's intelligence by giving the usually elusive response expected from an agent, but nor could she outright state what they do either, "They... operate an independent communications centre. It's not much in itself, but I think they setup there more for the local archaeology. Little Red is going to be servicing them with freight runs since their ship is too small to haul any cargo of sorts, so she'll be back and forth a lot for the time being at least"
"I'm not much of a computer expert or an archaeologist, but..." Hanna pondered, "travelling around the galaxy seems interesting, especially if I don't have to pay for all the rides. Little Red looks like she might need a hand with moving cargo, so I could watch over her for a little bit. If these friends of yours can use my expertise, I'll lend a hand, otherwise I could stick about the ship until I see a planet that might need a doctor and settle there for a bit. They won't be needing to ferry anything illegal like spice or military-grade weapons, will they?"
Mischa chuckled, "If if anything like that were ever needed - or readily sourced - I would not permit such volatile cargo to travel with young Red. I'm sure the girl would be appreciative of your company for however long it lasts." she finished the last of her drink, "For what it's worth Doctor; I think you're making the smart decision here. This will also allow you to contact myself or Kelly should the need arise, or if you decide to look more into your father". She pushed back from the bar, "I wish you good fortune in your future endeavors Doctor" and with that she turned to leave the bar, making her way back to Kelly's ship and leaving their new friends to their own devices.
Stepping up the boarding ramp into Kelly's ship, the first thing Mischa noticed was the massive holographic image of a mechanical brain floating above the central terminal of the lounge, followed by ADIN's voice, "It's good to be home again. Welcome back to you too, agent. You have one message." With that, ADIN's holo-image flickered, disappeared and was promptly replaced by the robed and masked form of the Sith who had spoken to Mischa prior to the beginning of their mission. Her projection appeared less fluid this time; likely a result of the reduced signal strength in their location, though it could also have been a side effect of whatever scrambling technology was used to cipher the message. The hologram shimmered quite often and was much more still as it spoke. "You did well, agent. The threat is not over yet, but your actions have bought the Empire more time. The Force tells me that you will play a further role in this, but what that role is, I cannot say. Know that your assistance may be needed again, but for now, continue to serve the Empire in every way you can." And as suddenly as the Sith's image appeared, it faded and reverted back to ADIN's electronic brain. A few moments later, Kelly descended from the stairs, followed by the astromech that previously housed ADIN which hopped down step by step. As she reached the bottom she turned around to lift the small droid and help lower it to the floor. "The I2's all ready to go," Kelly said as the droid continued on its way towards the ramp that led out of the ship. "Was that Watcher Nine you were talking to?"
Mischa shook her head, "I should be so lucky... no, that was... well, honestly I don't actually know who that was! Suffice to say she was someone who's attention I'd feel much more comfortable without, so will take solace in the fact that - for now at least - she seems content with our results and appears to be sitting back. Just know Kelly that I believe we are being watched from more directions than we realize even now..." She looked to the droid then back to Kelly, "Hanna will be joining Red, for now at least, will you be alright transferring them back to her hangar? I really should try and inform Laesa of this latest development, lest Keelah run into any surprises when she gets here"
"On it," Kelly nodded curtly. "I'll be back as soon as I can." She turned to the ramp and exited her yacht with the astromech. The pair made their way through Port Nowhere again until they returned to the YG-4210 they had arrived on. Upon entering, Kelly was greeted by Hanna, who pointed her to Little Red who was already on the bridge, getting ready to lift off. As Kelly approached, the teenage swoop racer spun around in her chair in an attempt at a dramatic gesture, but froze as she saw the Imperial standing there. "Aren't ya supposed to be back on your own ship?" she asked, confused. "This is my ship now, your partner gave it to me!" "You are heading off to haul cargo for our people. I'm still welcome here, aren't I? I just wanted to drop something off," Kelly waved and the droid came forward. "This I2 unit is specialized for cyberwarfare. Our friends where you're going might appreciate it, and it could help you learn the ropes of this ship too." "I know how to fly," Little Red replied proudly. "I don't need help." "Are you sure?" Kelly asked. "Astromechs make excellent copilots. You might know how to fly, but calculating hyperspace jumps will take a while for a human brain and if you jump to the wrong place, you might end up inside a star, or on a crash course with a planet. Droids can do the math safely in seconds. It's why I always keep one around when I'm in a ship. Just try it." Red eyed short droid as it rolled up beside her and extended an appendage to plug into the ship's systems. It did not look as short beside the young girl as it was in comparison to Kelly, and it whistled an introduction while it worked, as if it were a new playmate introducing itself. Kelly watched the two interact for a moment before stepping forward herself. "And one more thing," she reached into her jacket, taking out a small apex-truncated square pyramid. This was the holocron that Laesa learned from not long after her awakening, though of course Little Red would not recognize it as such. Kelly handed the Force-imbued device over to the girl who had no clue of its significance, simply instructing her to deliver it to the Planet for 'safekeeping.' With that, she left the freighter alone, headed for her own ship.