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The Long Run [Ivy]

Sarge Potteiger

Half-Glimpsed Dreamings
Maramere Lunar Orbit
Dark Side of the Moon
Onboard the Melancholy Hill

Gloved fingers drummed out a staccato rhythm on the command chair that sat alone, brooding in the center of the cockpit which was running off emergency power. Droids sat and monitored stations around the man seated in the dead center of the quiet activity. Through his T-visor and out the cockpit viewport he stared at the dull grey of the resort planets moon.

He'd been on his way back towards Corellia, having received a message from an old friend, but he'd gotten held up by the fact that Maramere was having a little bit of a pirate problem.

Maramere had been famous during the Clone Wars for its resistance of the Trade Federation - a resistance bolstered by the Feeorin pilot Nym and his band of pirates off Lok. But that was centuries ago, and now the pirates sought to prey on the wealthy customers seeking rest and relaxation among the many islands of the Mere.

And so it was they'd sent out a call for help - one that Sarge, now Preacher, had been all too happy to answer. Once this mess was cleared up, he could take a short jump to Naboo and check on his home in Lake Country - or, rather, scan it from orbit and just make sure no one had tried breaking in.

Showing up there would only make people suspicious of who he really was.

A noise from the droid manning the sensor station snapped him from his thought. The newest luxury transport was here, ferrying the rich from nearby Naboo to their vacation homes here on Maramere, and that meant the pirates wouldn't be far off. Hopefully they'd hired security for the shuttle, in case he didn't make it there in time.

But the CR-90e he'd recently purchased would be more than enough to scare off the pirates... he hoped. "Feather the engines.", he ordered. "Bring us up towards the horizon then cut power again." A low rumble from far aft followed by the blurring of the moons surface told him they were moving.

And then the rumbling ceased and the ship began to slow again. Still the same drab lunar surface.

"No signs of hostiles, master."

"Keep me informed."

It was time to play his least favorite game - the waiting game.
Ivy was feeling a bit out of sorts, standing aboard the luxury transport surrounded by the well-off people of Naboo. Her general appearance didn't typically mix with high society, though she'd forgone her stained and tattered traveling cloak for the occasion and cleaned up her armor best she could. The Merc still looked like she'd been swallowed by a sarlaac and lived to tell the tale, to this she gained the curious stares of those she was here to protect.

This was an odd job for her to say the least. Security detail wasn't really something she'd jump on normally, but the pay was good and it was on the way to Naboo which was exactly where she was a'goin. Ivy left her ship, The Egris, sitting in a star port on Maramere, and wondered silently to herself if her new pet was still out cold.

God she hoped so.

"So what kind of credentials do you have?" a voice of a young woman jolted her from her thoughts and Ivy looked over to see the Nabooian noble leaning over a seat.

"Pardon?" Ivy returned.

"Credentials. Have you fought Pirates before? ...if I didn't know any better I would have mistaken you for one."

"I'm not a pirate," brows furrowed, Ivy looked at the girl, "and I've fought more of them than you've kissed boys if that's what you want to know."

The girl sniffed, "Haven't killed any?"

"Don't like to kill things," Ivy returned.

"Why not?"

"If I did," she shifted her weight, rolling her shoulders a bit, "what would separate me from them? Why don't you go sit down now. You're distracting me."

"What, from looking sour?"

Narrowing her eyes, Ivy attempted to turn away from the girl at the sound of the Pilot and Co-Pilot on her comm.

We have an incoming on our six-

Unidentified ship, closing in fast. They're about to breach secure proximity range.

Turn on the fasten safety-belt lights.

Sarge Potteiger

Half-Glimpsed Dreamings
"Fasten your seatbelts." He mumbles. "Bring us out of the dark."

That was a phrase he'd literally programmed into the droids himself. A simple command it was, too, simply meaning to bring the ship back to full power. Also, it totally sounded cool. Who was to say he didn't have fun sometimes. Around him the power flickered back on, lights igniting above him and bathing the bridge in a bright white glow.

Leaning forward as they rose above the dark of the moon at a speed only a blockade runner could manage, his sensors registered the pirates at the same moment the snap-hum of the shields igniting hit his ears.

There in front of them was the speck of a freighter and the shuttle. Target and protectee. Poor sap on the shuttle probably didn't even know they had reinforcements.

"Scan the freighter."

The holoprojector in front of him flickered on, revealing a... well he wasn't sure what it was. It looked like a YGX but he wasn't sure due to the jurryrigged tractor beam located on its prow. "Well then...", he mumbles, receiving no response from his droid crew. "Full burn." The engine hum kicked itself up an octave or two, the ship literally shaking around him as energy was pumped into the massive array of engines that was the hallmark of the CR-90 series.

Like a shark through water, they speared forward, even as a message from the shuttle flickered across his HUD.

We're tractored. They're gonna try coming aboard. Hope you're on your way.

Affirmative. Be there in two mikes. Keep 'em occupied. I'll register on your sensors before theirs. Try and keep them off the shuttle as long as possible.

He wasn't sure what defenses the shuttle had, but if they could hold off the boarding, he could mop these sorry misfits up with a quick turbolaser blast or two.

Or three, just to make sure.

"Divert power from aft shields."

The engines screamed behind him. One and a half mikes, now. Although he didn't realize it, he was gripping his armrests with a white-knuckled grip.
We're frozen in the tractor beam. Twenty meters and closing.

Port side, port side.

"Get back to your seat," Ivy hissed out the side of her mouth at the girl as she pulled a set of goggles down over her head and thumbed the comm receiver pierced in her left ear, "cut the lights in the forward passenger cabin." Ivy moved quickly, soundlessly, down the center aisle towards the main entrance hatch. As she walked she could see to her left the gleam of the hull lights as the pirate ship slipped past them like a predator in dark. She pressed through the archway separating second class from first and motioned to a flight attendant with a flick of her head, "Get these people into the back."

The ship gave a sudden shudder. The sounds of metal scrapping against the hull screeched through the interior.

They've attached a docking ramp. Prepare to be boarded.

Slow, calculated strides brought Ivy to the hatch as around her the lights threw down into darkness in the cabin. She reached up and engaged her goggles for infrared.

"Ready to engage Captain." Pinpricks of red shone before her, surrounding the hatchway as the docking ramp secured attachment. The sound of grinding came next. Ivy took her blaster in her right hand and pulled her Vor'cha Stun Stick from her hip with the left.

Be careful. We've got those seats open in the back just like you requested.

She almost smirked. The seal on the hatch broke with a hiss and slowly it was wrenched open. Ivy heeled back, coiled, and upon seeing them pause as they looked in on a dark cabin lunged forward with the Vor'cha sizzling on her left, sticking it at the armored chest of the first in line. The pirate made an involuntary noise, buckled, and tumbled backwards into his companions at her following kick to his middle.

Ivy stood and raised her blaster to point, "Tickets please."

Sarge Potteiger

Half-Glimpsed Dreamings
He wasn't fast enough, nor was he close enough.

That had partially been the plan, although he still didn't like it. Sometimes, though, you had to force your enemies hand before revealing yours. A trap for a trap, if you could even call the routine robbing a trap. Not like he cared, though, just made his job easier. Releasing his white-knuckle grip on his chair, he settles back as the target slipped into view in front of him.

Shuttle and freighter, locked together in the most serene of embraces, a slim metal tube separating one from the other. Too bad the cord had to be cut.

He was about to give, likely, the dumbest order he'd ever given. Still, there was no way this was going to go down any other way - it was too risky to run the chance of the pirates taking control.

Prepare to seal the passenger cabin.

Most luxury shuttles had two separately pressurized cabins so that should a break occur in one, the passengers could move to the other until they hit planetside. Bad for business if something happened and everyone but the pilots died, and it wasn't like the passengers couldn't afford the extra cost such security measures incurred.

"Divert extra energy from the engines to the forward shields and turbolasers." The whine of capacitors charging filled his ears, echoing down the metal corridors from the generators halfway down the ship. Paired turbolasers, both atop and bottom the CR90E, rotated forward and towards the freighter which by now was receiving the signal that there was another predator in the water.

Said hostiles were going to be doing one of two things right now - frantically trying to pull the collar back to escape, or force their way aboard to try the hostage approach.

He imagined.... no, he hoped they were like most and wanted to keep their skins in once piece.

Two red bolts split the black, high pitched whining assaulting his ears as the turbolasers discharged.

Shields flared violently around the freighter, then failed, although only a glancing amount of energy impacted the ship itself. He'd forced their hand. It was time to see what they'd do.

Hope your security is good.
Most pirates were not known for being heroic or even particularly courageous. They generally fought through dirty means and only when their strength and numbers gave them the upper hand. When the tables turned, you found out real quick just what sort of pirates you were dealing with.

The sorts of pirates that picked off luxury transports from Naboo were nothing less than a bunch of sniveling fools. Ivy grimaced, pausing in the hatchway as she watched two lances of hot, red plasma collide with the pirate ship. It was all it took to send them bolting. They didn't even bother to grab their fallen comrade. Eyes narrowing, Ivy glanced around as she felt the passenger ship jolt. Reaching in, she snagged the only victim to her advance and heaved his body back inside, just in time for the docking ramp to be torn away in their haste to make a retreat.

She punched at the hatch controls as the cabin depressurized and held her breath while the gears, slightly damaged in the forced entry, slowly wound it shut.

Sarge Potteiger

Half-Glimpsed Dreamings
This wasn't even a fight. It wasn't going to be a fight. When you started to cut and run, it ceased to be any sort of engagement by virtue of the very actions undertaken to create distance from the aggressor. Bright twinkles of orange showed him that they were pumping power into their engines, and he had to shake his head more than a little - all they'd succeeded in doing was damaging the hatch.

"Blow 'em from the void."

Both sets of turbolasers whined this time, four ruby beams of photon energy piercing through the black and into the shell of the freighter - even as it pulled away. Great holes were torn in the hull, oxygen igniting instantly and spewing flame into the void where it quickly dissipated from a lack of fuel.

And like that, the pirates vessel, devoid of power, began to spin through space, propelled by brief puffs from the engines like the last breath of a dying body.

"Tractor in the shuttle too and let it dock with us. We'll be taking them planetside. I don't know how damaged that hatch is."

A brief message was sent to the shuttle pilots even as the tractor engaged, pulling the shuttle in and alongside the blockade runner and it's matte-black hull.
The hatch managed to seal.... enough to stop the decompression, but the air was too thin to breath now. With a cough, Ivy stumbled to her knees and fumbled around her neck for her breathing apparatus, pulling it over her face and sucking in air. Sweet, precious air. Her captive had managed to wake up while choking and do something of the same. Ivy lifted her blaster rifle and pointed it at him with a shake of her head.

He shot an expletive back at her but didn't move otherwise. Likely he was feeling the pain left behind from her stun stick.

What's your status, Hazel? Ivy heard the Captain over her comm and gave a grunt.

"I'm alright, I've got a prisoner from the pirate ship."

I'll notify the Captain of The Melancholy Hill. We'll be docking up and transferring the passengers for the remainder of the flight.

"Good idea," Ivy wheezed from her mask, eyeing the damaged hatch that wasn't completely sealed.

The passenger cabin was, fortunately, safely sealed, leaving the people rattled but unharmed.

When the ship docked up with their rescuer, Ivy carefully picked herself up to her feet and hauled her prisoner to his as well, slapping a set of durasteel shackles over his wrists at his back.

She shoved the man into a nearby seat and watched him as the Captain and Attendants helped the passengers aboard The Melancholy Hill. When they were safely on board she and her prisoner were the last to make the exchange, Ivy muttering something to the pirate about it being the last time he'd sit in first-class.

Sarge Potteiger

Half-Glimpsed Dreamings
Sarge grunted as the notification of a prisoner came across his HUD and he turned his head slowly, blinking at the various icons dancing across his vision to notify two security droids to make their way to the docking hatch. They'd wait for the prisoner and take him to the rudimentary cell block of the vessel.

Resting his head back on his high-backed command throne, he watched as his HUD shifted to views from the side exterior cameras. The luxury transport pulled in snug and tight along the runner and the boarding tube extended with painful slowness to lock over the damaged seal of the shuttles aft compartment.

A moment later, as it locked itself firmly in position and secured it's hold, it sent a signal to open and sure enough, the pilots responded. Blinking again to command a camera change, his eyes took in a head-on view of the tube as a pair of auto-turrets whirred and clacked into position.

Just in case.

Sure enough, his two droids were already there too.

This time, he blinked at a small symbol in the lower left corner of his vision. A faint bit of static heralded the intercom turning on, his helmet mic transferring his raspy, quiet voice to the speakers set up around the ship. "Welcome aboard my ship, travelers. You are given free reign of the forward sections - That is to say, all areas forward the tube you're exiting. Go anywhere else, and the droids will not be gentle."

Judging by the look of the bulky wardroids, it probably wasn't a good idea. They were equipped with telescopic vibroblades and flechette launchers - absolutely lethal in confined spaces like this. "The prisoner can be handed over to the droids." And then he saw a face he'd not expected.


"Hazel.", he grunts in greeting... and then the intercom clicked off audibly.
"Right," Ivy glanced around at the mention of her name, or rather, her codename as it were. In marketing herself, it was the only name she gave. Not that it mattered anymore, but she had found a need to separate herself from her past. Having people calling her Ivy did nothing for her mood or her apparent hallucinations.

Just a week ago she could have sworn she watched Samson walk through a crowded spaceport. It had been a long night of booze following that one.

Still, it was a bit odd to be recognized so easily. Trained eyes locked on the gleam of a camera somewhere over her head and she stared at it for a moment. But, like always, the camera admitted to nothing. The woman gave a sniff and promptly handed the pirate off to the droids with a disinterested, "all yours." So long as the criminal was brought to justice she was fine by that, but she didn't need or want to know what sort of justice it might end up being.

She moved off to seek out the Captain of her assigned vessel, finding him seated off to the side with his co-pilot. He was an old man baring a ring of white hair around an otherwise bald head. His face was coated with a matching beard, trimmed neatly, it looked almost like snow against the dark grey-blue of his uniform, "I apologize about the hatch, Captain," she said when he looked up.

He waved it off, "Nothing to be done for it. Can't tell you how many times I've had to fix that ship because of pirates. If it weren't for you we'd be hostages right now. What are you apologizing for anyways? Wasn't your fault."

"Somebody aught to apologize and I doubt you'll get one from the only one left to do it. Besides, if I had escorted you with my ship none of this would have happened. I underestimated the need."

"Can't live your life stuck on 'ifs'," the man replied, "luckily we had backup. We're not always so lucky."

"Who is it?" she queried suddenly and motioned to the forward of the ship, "your backup?"

"Eh, don't know to be honest. We get a different lot every time. Don't think I've met this one. Nice new ship though," he looked around with an appreciative nod, "fancy droids too."

Sarge Potteiger

Half-Glimpsed Dreamings
"Name's Preacher." Came a voice through the intercom directly above them.

Seated as it was in his command throne, Sarge was, quite literally, his ship. Wires fed up and around the massive seat, slotting into various connection ports on his helmet. He looked very much like his helmet was covered in a dreadlock of wires, and each was slotted into a different function of the ship.

While it was a bit of a stretch to say he'd feel his ship in pain, he certainly could see the damage through the cameras. And, evidently, control the intercom at will. He made sure his ship was bugged, too, as he didn't want anyone doing anything on it he wasn't aware of.

Trust wasn't something he could afford to just hand out.

"First time your company has decided to hire my services. This will buy you a few months of relative peace, I imagine."

Because a disembodied voice wasn't creepy.
Ivy frowned at the responding voice echoing around her and, much like most mortals did, gave a cursory glance around as it sounded. She found the glimmer of light reflecting off another camera and stared at it, lips drawing into a thin line.

The old Captain gave a chuckle and leaned to pull a cigar out of his coat pocket, "Well that'll be a nice reprieve if it's true. Do you mind, Preacher?" the man pulled out his lighter and pointed to the cigar. Apparently there were still people in the galaxy with manners.

Curiousity got the best of her as it still tended to do, "Permission to enter the bridge," she requested, turning to face the camera fully, arms folded at her front.
The woman lifted a bemused brow at the laughter but made no comment on it. She turned and stepped off down a hall as the Captain struck up his cigar and uttered his thanks.

This was not a ship design she was personally familiar with, but having been around ships the majority of her life, and a good many different ones at that, it was easy enough to figure her way around. Pretty straight forward on this one. Ivy passed by another set of those big, green droids, and gave them another lookover; height, estimated weight, weapons, material - enough to form an opinion on them and have a few ideas on how to deal with them should the need arise. Of course, there was simply no telling anything for certain until she saw them in action.

Ivy made no wish to see them in action, at least not against herself. She paused as she reached the door to the bridge and stepped in after it hissed open.

"I don't know anyone by the name of Preacher," the woman spoke as she came to stand just a few feet within the door, eyes casting around the bridge before landing on the man seated in the command chair, "how is it you know me?"

Sarge Potteiger

Half-Glimpsed Dreamings
"You do, you just never asked." The voice was amused, if muffled. It wasn't coming through an intercom anymore. Wires ran over the top of the massive chair, lacing down and into the familiar helmet of a man she'd met in the sandy wastes of Tatooine. The same one who'd sent her towards Naboo.

Slowly, he turned the chair, the tangle of wire lifting into the air so that it didn't catch as he rotated.

"A pleasure to see you again, Hazel... no Rodians this time."

He was more than a little amused. Even here though, there was a distinct lack of 'human.' The bridge crew was either automated or droid, and he had yet another pair of the camoflauged droids standing sentinel on this side of the bridge hatch too. "One moment."

A half second later, the engines cycled up and they began to move - well, one could assume that's what they were doing as Maramere drew larger in the viewport. As they passed the remains of the pirate ship, a single turbolaser blast was fired into the corpse, likely on a droid impulse to make sure that it wasn't going to cause any more problems.

"What brings you to Maramere?"
Her brow shot up again in mild curiousity as he looked over the wires attached to that familiar helmet. Coupled with the comment about the Rodian, the image of the man's face flashed fresh before her mind's eye. It was her turn to be amused, though the emotion only served to lighten the dour expression on her face.

"Nice hair," she remarked. Of course she knew it wasn't hair, but that was the strangest get-up she'd seen for a command set. The woman moved forward, not yet quite at ease given the foreign quarters. This was his territory and Ivy was a respectable character, but she wasn't about to let down her guard for a familiar face even if it was friendly. Not until they were on neutral ground and perhaps not even then.

The woman stopped just behind and to the right of his chair, giving a short glance out the viewport at the planet and the stray bolt at the remaining skeleton of the pirate ship.

"Preacher, huh? Right, and I'm Egris," Ivy gave a snort. He'd denied that name when she gave it to him and so she'd return the favor.

Sarge Potteiger

Half-Glimpsed Dreamings
He gave a bit of a chuckle. "I know, it isn't my usual fare." A hand reaches up to touch at the wires as he rotates the chair back to its forward facing position. He'd caught the amused look, but noticed how she seemed to keep herself back, as if wary of him. Or perhaps not of him, but the situation? Or maybe he was reading into this too much.

One time meeting someone wasn't a good way to get a measure of them at all. Still, you could feel them out a bit.

Eh, his mind was busy. He had to be thinking too hard. "Egris? I wouldn't know anything about that." A smile danced upon his voice then, fingers dancing upon a few buttons set into an arm.

The holoprojector in front of them spun up, revealing, well, her face.

"You were a hard one to trace, you know?" Mercenaries looking into each other wasn't anything unusual. At all. In fact, it was as commonplace as anything else. Had to know who you were working with and who'd be watching your back. It was also easy to get a feel for their personality based on the jobs they took.

Still, he'd had to work a good sight harder than just that. She'd come onto the seen just a little bit ago, and that perplexed him - but he also had experience doing something just like.

So he'd gone back. Way back. The Syndicate databases were still the most complete he had access to.

"Have a seat, Ivy. You're a long way from 'home'."
At first this was of no concern to her. Yes, Ivy was accepting that Mercs often looked up their partners, or at least whoever they worked with for any given amount of time. She was guilty of it too, if not out of sheer boredom or curiosity during lulls of nothing between jobs in wild space, before she was picked up by the Aing-Tii.

So, at first, she barely paid it any mind. When Ivy signed on with that rogue crew of Mercs just after waking from stasis she's forged a new identity simply because the public records on her historical self had been lost to time, war, and the Gulag virus. That was all well and good for her, it meant putting some distance between then and now. It meant not having to question every unfamiliar face that knew her name, because no one would. Locating Lord Salas meant finding the one man in the present galaxy that knew her name and her past. The only other person that did was her sister-in-law, Sephoria, and she had no trouble finding that woman when she needed to.

Codename: Hazel
AGE: 48
GENDER: Female
HEIGHT: 5’8’’
WEIGHT: 175lbs
EYES: Hazel
HAIR: Brown

Those were the stats she'd given herself on the Mercenary database. She'd fudged the race out of simple desire to severe any ties that might lead to her real info. Epicanthix weren't common. Hell, she'd at least given her real age and weight, what more could you ask for? Sure the history was short and terribly dull, but there weren't many Mercs out there that spun a true tale of themselves. They were Mercs for a reason. A lot of them were doing the same thing, hiding from life.

But then the man said her name, her real name, and everything changed.

Those hazel eyes flashed with a sudden urge to strike at him, reflexive out of self-preservation if for nothing else, but she held the urge in check. The color drained from her face as she looked at him, feeling a surge of blood from her heart. Was that adrenaline out of fight or flight mode? She couldn't be sure.

Ivy shook her head, "How....how, that data has been lost. I checked the records. It's not there."

Sarge Potteiger

Half-Glimpsed Dreamings
"HA!", he barked. "So I was right." The man was practically giddy. Information was a tricky game to play, because even when you thought you knew something, there was always the possibility that what you had was simply wrong. Rumors were a prime example of that phenomena.

But, like a bad poker player, she'd all but given up at the first bluff.

"You don't have the records that I have, Ivy. No one does. Five centuries of business and working the shadows means I have access to the most complete database outside the Jedi Archives, and even they don't bother with individuals outside the most famous. No, no, I'm as old as you."

The only difference was, he'd been woken up periodically throughout the plague to go out and into the galaxy on assassination jobs. The joys of working for Ayden Cater truly knew no bounds.

And, contrary to what she thought, Epicanthix were almost absurdly common anymore. It was almost boggling. He tried not to think on it too much. "Don't act so surprised."

His attention was still on the viewport, however, as the planet was looming closer and he began to maneuver the ship to come in parallel to the atmosphere so that instead of a straight vertical plummet they'd slowly descend in a single orbit before getting to the destination.
Ivy was not a good poker player, never had been. But this wasn't something that concerned her right now.

Very suddenly he'd feel his chair whip around just enough that he faced her. She was upon him in an instant and without warning, though perhaps his helmet may have warned him, or maybe even his guards. Ivy didn't care, she wasn't going to hurt him, wasn't even going to yell at him, she just needed him to listen and listen well. The woman grabbed that helmet of his firmly and looked down into it, eyes hot with anger. If the droids in the bridge moved to pry her off him she wouldn't fight it, and if he pulled a weapon on her she wouldn't fight that either. Ivy wasn't here for a fight and truth be told she'd liked what she knew of the man after their brief encounter on Tattooine.

This was all business.

"Don't be so surprised?" she hissed, "Don't treat my past with such disrespect. You have no right and you have no idea-no idea what I've been through, what that name means or what it does to me." Her gaze hardened, fighting back the surge of emotion, "Preacher."