Finally, Daina Moontaker thought to herself as the briefing began, I’m getting a chance to do some real field work! As her handler – Yartros Los, the senior analyst of the Sector’s Imperial Intelligence station to which Daina had been assigned the year before – went through the details of her first independent mission, the young agent from Tatooine felt her heart soar. Yartros had barely finished his summary before Daina’s excitement peaked, and she could no longer maintain a stoic silence.
“You’re sending me to Corellia?! ” she asked, surprising even herself with how hopelessly obvious her own excitement was. Yartros frowned, and stared at her with even more judgment in his eyes than usual. I am getting better about wearing my feelings on my sleeve, Yartros! , she thought, subconsciously biting her lower lip, even if I do still have a long way yet to go! .
“Indeed, Daina, Coronet City is on Corellia,” the older man quipped. “If you’re done personifying the stereotype of the provincial, Outer Rim yokel, perhaps you’d be so good as to convince me you understood the brief?” he asked acidly.
“Yartros,” Daina said, “you consistently underestimate me,” she replied with a smile. “I’m to cultivate an asset in Coronet City. Her name is Baritha Sweelm, and she was born and raised in the suburb of Kolene. Her mother’s Corellian, and her father is from––” Daina glanced at the datapad Yartros had prepared for her, and corrected herself: “father was from Nar Shaddaa, now deceased. Ms. Sweelm works in the New Republic embassy as a social secretary.” She arched an eyebrow in challenge.
Yartros grunted. “And we think she might be amenable to helping the Empire because…?”
“Because her father lost his life to criminality, and because she’s vulnerable: her fiancé of a year and a half just dumped her, and she’s been chronically late with her rent. I followed the briefing, Yartros. I’m ready to go into the field.”
“Okay,” the analyst said simply, releasing her from his evaluating gaze.
“Do we think that the New Republic might be close to securing Corellia’s membership?”
“We think it would be helpful to have a friend in the embassy, Daina, and that’s all you need to know,” Yartros said pointedly.
The young agent nodded, raising her hands in a gesture of surrender. “Yes sir. Of course. I appreciate this opportunity.”
“Do the job,” Yartros replied, shooing her out of his office with a dismissive wave.
“I’ll be on the next ship to Corellia,” she assured him, and strode out of the room, still beaming.
Coronet City had earned its reputation as “The Jewel of Corellia” – it was truly an urban gem, multifaceted and shot through with lights of countless colors. Daina marveled at the city’s sprawling spaceport as her passenger liner touched down, and admired the bustling metropolis’s impressive edifices as she made her way to Treasure Ship Row, the fashionable open-air market at the edge of the lower-end Blue Sector.
It was there, at a stall where a male Devaronian was hocking handbags which bore a stunning resemblance to a designer label sold “exclusively on Coruscant,” that Daina first caught sight of her target: Baritha Sweelm was tall, with pale skin and dark brown hair, just as the dossier holos depicted, and she was there, hovering over the alien’s wares. Daina watched from a distance, waited until Baritha purchased a green over-the-shoulder bag and left the stall, and then hurriedly bought a matching bag of her own from the horned proprietor. Then, she melted back into the press of shoppers, trailing Baritha Sweelm from an appropriate distance: close enough to maintain contact, but far enough that she wouldn’t be noticed.
And even as the surveillance continued deep into the day, Daina couldn’t stop smiling. This is fun! , she admitted to herself. But by the time she followed Baritha to the woman’s apartment complex, the imperial agent realized that she was exhausted. Fun it may be, she thought, but it’s also a lot of work.!
Baritha, for her part, seemed to do little over the next few days but work at the New Republic embassy, sleep at her apartment, and shop. Eventually, on the third day of the op, the dark-haired woman stepped into the refresher at one of the larger retail establishments, and Daina seized the opportunity to check in with her handler. “Yartros,” she intoned, and a popping sound echoed in her right inner ear, indicating the connection had been opened. “I found her.”
“What have you learned so far?” he asked, his voice tinny and soft in her ear.
“Well, she seems to enjoy routines, bargains, and solitude.”
“Perhaps she could use a friend,” he said sweetly, and Daina imagined the characteristic look of disgust which probably accompanied the comment. Yartros was outspoken in his belief that opening oneself to friendship was the highest expression of idiocy. Which of course only makes you want to befriend him even more! , she thought to herself, smiling almost sadly.
“I’m way ahead of you,” was all she said aloud. “I’ll check back after I’ve made contact. Out.” Another pop, and the connection was cut.
A moment later, Baritha walked out of the ‘fresher, clutching her new green handbag. Daina hugged her identical bag to her chest, feeling the weight of the items she’d carefully arranged inside: datapads loaded with guide information and city maps, a passkey to her hotel suite, and a collection of New Republic credit chips. “I’m way, way ahead of you,” she whispered as she watched Baritha leave for an adjacent clothier. Hello, friend,! she thought, as she closed the distance to her target...