Tower of Time: Long Ago and Far Away
   

Slate

Oressa Lenx hummed along with the mellow Bith band music at the edge of her hearing as she watched two operatives take their winding path across the station's sterile cantina to her booth against the back wall. Like any agent worth their mettle, these two knew better than to directly approach any target of theirs, but they were doing a poor job of it

Vergis Zaliances and Karren Thaa; she had not seen those two since graduation three years ago. Lat she heard, the two were working as partners. Rumors whispered through smirking teeth said that their partnership arose from their inability to handle any high-level jobs individually. Vergis was a bulky but otherwise unremarkable human man, while his partner was an equally unremarkable woman; a highly desirable physical trait in agents of the empire.

Oressa smiled smugly as the pair slid into the seats across from her. Her haunting red eyes, blue skin, and jet black hair that she kept gelled severely back against her head marked Oressa as a Chiss, and thereby highly remarkable on many Imperial words. Yet, it was she and not this pair of bland humans who received the Hutta assignment.

“Oressa Lenx,” Vergis said with feigned surprise. “It's been a long time.”

Oressa returned an equally false smile, but said nothing.

“I hear they are calling you 'Slate' these days,” Karren observed with patronizing interest. “Is that a knock to your impenetrability?”?

She smiled a thin smile. “Though, trust me, it has nothing to do with 'dead weight' or 'rock bottom',” Oressa replied, knowing that was what others, like these two, called her. Petty, envious insults. “?On some more primitive planets, slate is used as a writing surface; easily written upon, just as easily erased.”

“You know, 'Slate', I begin to wonder if you are actually Chiss like you have been leading the universe to believe,” Vergis inferred softly, leaning over the table, “?Your mother is that actress Vela Lenx who just married Moff Heckl, isn't she? Blue skin aside, the family resemblance is striking.”

“I hear that sometimes on the job, you shed your Chiss skin and work as a human,” Karren observed, “Are you really Chiss?”

“Is Vela Lenx truly human?” Oressa replied enigmatically, “Identity is deeper than the skin, yet sometimes shallow as an operative's cover story.”? She rose and added coolly, “If you will excuse me, I have a transport waiting in the hangar for me.”

“Where are they sending you now, Slate?” Karren asked.

She clicked her tongue disapprovingly. “That is between Keeper and myself.”

“Keeper?” Karren was unable to hide her envy, “Working with a mercy-loving alien like you?”

Oressa slipped around the table and added as she walked away, “If you two are very lucky, maybe he will deign to take you on as well. I doubt your skills will get you that far.”



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