From: Saleena Bymm
To: Vexia Bymm
Confirmed: SEND; RETURN 77/71
Context: 616; LPMQ; DW/BETA
Dear Vexa –
Well, that didn’t go as well as I’d hoped – ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself again.
After hearing of Alderaan’s fate, I had to check in on you, make sure you weren’t off seeing that ice boarding instructor you were sweet on last time we were there. We had the two options before us: The first is that Delany tries to hack the holonet and inserts a message to you that way, but the potential of interception and discovery would be great. The other option was to return in person to Apess Rosha, and make physical contact. I’m not sure which one of the two options was more foolish – but sneaking back home is probably the significantly easier of the two.
Before heading core-ward, we decide to configure the Runaway so that we can haul more cargo at the cost of about half the passenger space. This will still give us plenty of room, and the staterooms will maintain their quality, but now we’ve got much more usable space. Hopefully this means larger loads, and more credits in the end – plus while it will anger father, it will make it harder to identify the ship.
While the walls are coming down, I quickly arrange to transport a cargo of pinckney flanges to Apess Rosha. While it will offset the expenses of fuel, mostly it’s to act as a cover for our arrival. While we wait for the cargo to be delivered, I find a stylist and swap out my current look for an all new hairstsyle and color. A quick stop at a boutique on the way back to the spaceport where I swap out my usual clothes It’s nothing like what I’m used to wearing, but I like the big, flowing jacket and glasses – I might have to keep this look.
We touch down in the main spaceport and run into a little detail – I still had my proper identification papers and not an assumed name. While I wouldn’t expect that someone would expect their princess to come through spaceport customs, someone might flag me as a troublemaker and cause us issues. Thinking fast, it was a simple matter to claim to be from Alderaan and all my records were lost. I suspect that – at least for the short term – a lot of nar-do-wells will be coming from there.
Fortunately the customs clerk was more concerned about processing us and moving on to the next ship than pursuing any discrepancies in our paperwork. All we had to do was stand in line for a hour at the licensing bureau and pay a fine. While I don’t have a benchmark to work from, I cant imagine a less efficient governmental department. When I am able to return home, this will be the first thing I straighten out.
And then a surprise – the planet is in mourning. There are black flags everywhere, with great swaths of the populace wearing black and black armbands. Apparently Princesses Salina had just been assassinated – which comes as a great shock to me, I tell you. Grabbing that day’s newsfax, as near as we can tell, a look-alike was killed when their ship (a much more elegant transport than The Runaway) was blown up. Disturbing on several levels. First, there was another me out and about in the galaxy. More troubling – who is trying to kill me?
Mind you, the royal family always has a certain amount of enemies and rival houses lurking at the fringes, but this – such a blatant and bold move – is unprecedented. Hopefully the anonymity of the outer rim will deflect any attempts on my actual person.
As for the matter at hand – you remember that ancient sewer we discovered when we were kids? It’s still there, and wide open – no one has discovered it even after all this time. So we were able to the sewer to breach the fences and infiltrate the palace. After all, I’ve snuck in and out many a time, – it seemed like a solid enough plan
Pity it went all wrong.
Assuming you were home, I directed Mahitha towards your bedroom. Unfortunately, I gather, by this point you had been moved to the more secure location of the Academy campus on Imperial Center and someone else had been occupying your room. Suddenly a poorly timed patrol of security droids wandered past, forcing us to abort. Someone set off the lawn sprinklers, I wind up face down in a muddy flower bed – and we all get caught.
Thinking quickly, I act like I’ve had far too much to drink and pee myself.
Shockingly, nobody on the security staff connected this raggedy, mud covered, urine smelling, bedraggled woman as their princess. I’m not sure if I should be relieved that they overlooked who I am or incensed that they’re so wildly inefficient at their jobs.
I might have been able to talk our way out of this when things took a serious turn – one of the guards spotted a blaster, assuming that we were assassins. Suddenly what started as an annoying encounter for palace security instantly leaps into red alert mode. We’re bundled up into a police speeder for transport downtown to sort this matter out. And then someone shoots us down with some fairly heavy ordinance. It would seem that my mysterious assassin realized his mistake and is still trying to kill me!
Getting away from the crashed speeder, we find refuge in an abandoned garage. Since Mahitha was never identified by the police, she sets out to find us some basic supplies – food, water, a proper change of clothes and so on. That’s when she finds a girl, not much older than I, being menaced in private by two much larger, well dressed men. Since she seems unable to help but indulge her save everyone streak, she leaps to the rescue of this mystery girl, easily driving the two assailants before escorting her safely back to our hideaway.
When this mystery girl and I meet in person, there’s a look of instant recognition across her face. Me, it takes a few moments for me to make the connection – Mahitha just rescued Tala Hydiki, the black sheep of House Hydiki, my second (third? I can never keep that side of the family straight) cousin.
While Tala seems very apprehensive at my presence, she’s comfortable enough to tell us her story. It seems that her life the last few months, more or less, mirrors my trajectory – she has fallen in with a crowd of smugglers and has been working the inner core planets, smuggling spice and other illicit goods. Apparently she was dropping off a cargo for her brothers when they got greedy and started applying physical persuasions for more.
Eventually I managed to convince her that I’m not representing my father in any capacity, that I just want to get off planet without issue. Grateful to Mahitha for her help, she lends whatever assistance she can getting us to the spaceport. It would seem that our assassination attempt has caused quite a stir, and security is at an all time high.
Even worse? It will require a hike through the sewers – wonderful. Even worse, it takes us a full day of dogging workers, security probes and guards before we decide that we just can not penetrate the cordon around the spaceport. So we’ll have one of Tala’s associates, one not on the wanted for questioning list, raise ship in the Runaway while we depart from a less secure spaceport aboard her ship.
While we head south to Falla City, we stop for dinner – and I’m approached by two agents from the Imperial Security Bureau. They don’t particularly care about my falling out with my family. They are more interested in my activities on the outer rim. They would like me, as a loyal citizen of the empire, to keep an eye out for seditious elements and report anything I see.
It’s a week old by this point, but I start out our working relationship by telling them what I know about the Jedi we saw on Tatooine. I don’t know if anything will come of it, but any chance of catching one of those baby snatching terrorists is a good one. I promise to send along whatever information I can when I can.
After disengaging from the ISB agents, it’s a simple matter to get off planet and meet up with the Runaway in a neighboring system. So while I didn’t get a chance to talk to you, I at least confirmed that you’re safe. And we got away without too much difficulty – and we made a business contact in Tala and her crew.