Any information is valuable to the degree that you can use it.

      Ah, sweet secrecy. Hidden truths, secret meanings, cloak-and-dagger, smoke-and-mirrors. That dark, mysterious feeling I adore reveling in, wrapping it around me like a warm cloak. I simply adore secrecy. I'm not obsessed, mind you - I'm simply a devoted fan of the guarded unknown.

      I love secrets. Tiny tidbits of knowledge, important - for the most part - largely because they are not widely known. They're common enough - absolutely everyone has secrets, regardless of what they tell you - but hardly commonplace. Each is unique in its own way, making every last one individually rare. And like all rare things, those that seek them do so *because* they are rare; their value lies in their scarcity. The more people that know a secret, the less of a secret it is, and the less value it holds. And the more people who *want* to know a secret, the more valuable it is - both to those who know it and those who wish to keep it unknown.

      I'm in the business of secrets. They are my stock in trade, as it were. I buy, sell, barter, and steal secrets of all kinds - although I admit, I'm rather selfish, doing a great deal more selling and stealing than barter and buying. There is, after all, much more profit to be had in getting something for nothing, relatively speaking, of course. People will pay a great deal for secrets, and the less you have to do to get them, the more profitable they are. Naturally.

      You've caught me in a good mood, so I'll explain. We'll swap secrets. Swap, mind you, not share. Secrets cannot be shared. The very thing that makes them a secret is compromised the more people learn of them - and therefore it makes absolutely no financial sense to 'share' a secret with anyone. You're cutting into your own profits by doing so. Swapping, at least, gives each party valuable information that can - usually - be used for financial gain.

      When I talk of secrets, of course, I am not talking only of the coveted bits of information whispered amongst conspirators. I talk of all things rare and unknown - be they information, technology, individuals - well, you get the idea. I could tell you the location of someone or something, for example, and you could do the same for me - or you could give me a new, classified little gizmo that's sure to be the new rage in any of a dozen circles - political, military, business, or other. I think I value the information the most. Oh, I love fancy and expensive things, and monetary compensation is one of my favorite things to receive in trade. But, as far as secrets go, information is at the root of most of them, and it is also the most valuable.

      My own personal secrets, for example, are worth more to me than all the wealth in the known universe. I guard them fiercely. I've gone to great lengths to protect them, destroying records and witnesses and anything else that could even possibly jeopardize them.

      A girl's got to have her secrets, after all.

      No life is the open book its owner proclaims it to be - there is always something hidden from view. Some people's secrets involve their job - what they do, what they help others do, who they work for, where their loyalties lie. With others, it's who they know that's secret - who they know, how they know them, the nature of their relationship with them, and so on. Me, my secrets lie solely in the most common group of all. My secret is my past.

      Oh, I'm not running from my past like so many others are. I'm also not trying to forget it, or deny it, or avoid any part of it. I simply don't wish for others to know of it. That has, after all, always been of chief import to a spy - and that is what *I* am, a spy. When your secrets are discovered, your safety is compromised, as is that of your employer and - if you fool enough to have any - your family. And your past can be used against you, enemies studying old missions to unearth barely-evident patterns, preferences, or weaknesses that can be used to bring you down.

      Oh, there's not much worry of that for me - I have no family or friends to speak of, and all that could be discovered of my parentage and upbringing would still be of no use to anyone but a biographer. Still, I try to keep an aspect of professional secrecy nonetheless, and for the most part, I've succeeded.

      For the most part, anyway. That idiot D'Gal has come frightfully close to some things I'd rather stay hidden. Somehow, though I know all documents and persons with first-hand knowledge of it are no more, he's managed to guess - correctly, I might add - my heritage. The very thing that has eluded the best of the best intelligence agents and fact-finders in both the Duck Empire and the Alliance, in spite of the countless hours and scores of lives dedicated to it, that damned terrorist guessed after only a few hours. Not names or identities, thankfully - but the basics, and from there anyone with even a hint of ambition or knowledge of espionage history could figure things out.

      Oh, how I *hate* that man.

      You see, I prize myself in the ambiguousness of my species. I look Corellian and yet I do not; I look Platyrian and yet I do not; I resemble any one of dozens of avian species and yet I am different enough from each of them that I cannot be picked out as alien from any of them. Exotic, perhaps, but not alien. And therein lies one of the biggest mysteries my enemies have ever attempted to solve - whom do they look to for records, whom should they use as a stand-in bioscan that would easily identify me regardless of my disguises? The surname I use - obviously not my actual family name - is meant to further muddle things, as I am obviously not a kiwi - and yet most are nonetheless thus convinced I have some kiwi blood in my veins, albeit diluted. I can pass for Corellian, Platyrian, or - with the assistance of a variety of feather dyes - a plethora of other avian species. The Alliance has spent millions trying to figure me out; the Platyrians - or Invisible Ducks, as they prefer - have spent even more, to no avail.

      And yet this bloodthirsty, backwater terrorist, alive only by the grace of luck and berserker tendencies, nails it all with one glance. Oh, not only does he figure out my parentage, but what such a parentage means.

      My mother was a Corellian spy, you see. Like most such spies, she underwent a bit of surgery to disguise her appearance and was sent to operate in Duck territory. She wasn't as good as I am. My exploits have been numerous and largely successful, but while my name is widely recognized, my face is not - and I'll have you know I've never gone 'under the knife' in my life. Mother was not quite so fortunate, and before I had even hatched she was no more. That I survived long enough to become a fully-developed egg was a surprise, all things considered, and I suppose a testament to the pressures and surveilance my mother was subject to. I'm still not quite clear on how I was smuggled out of Duck territory - perhaps another operative was sent to retrieve me, or perhaps I was switched with a legitimate diplomat's unwanted child - one egg pretty much looks like another, I suppose, especially with custom dyes or decorative paint jobs. At any rate, I was hatched safely in Corellian space, and like most of my kind, grew up under the supervision of the Ministry of the Interior. We were destined for our parents' line of work, as almost any other would shun us. I no longer have ties at the Ministry, of course, and I am one of many who have never officially existed, making me hard to trace - but still, suspected or not, I'd rather not have this information made public knowledge.

      There are times when I wonder what to do about this crack in my shield of secrecy. Aside from a select few incidents involving derogatory remarks about hybrids, the damned Duck has told no one. No real surprise there - there is no one to tell. He will not tell the Duck Empire - he would never make any move to help them unless it would spare his homeworld, and that's not likely to happen, regardless of the bait he dangles in front of them - and he has no reason to inform the Alliance. At least, not while they still follow the every whim of the Ducks. And the Bagels - my current employers, and his - couldn't care less about my lineage, as long as I do my job. And - unfortunately, if you ask me - my job currently requires that I join forces with D'Gal for missions in which physical confrontation is necessary or even likely. The Duck knows nothing of finesse and style, but I must admit he can fight his way through anything. He is a great hindrance to stealth - unless, of course, it is military stealth - and subtlety eludes him completely. He strikes wherever, whenever, and however he can, seldom paying any heed to how it affects my assignments as long as he can score a few more Duck kills. But I think what bothers me most is that, unlike most people, I cannot control him with secrets.

      He has them, of course. He *has* to - everyone does. I knew one of his secrets, once - but the subject of that secret is no longer at risk of discovery - indeed, they are no longer at risk of or for anything - and I have yet to discover another effective one. Either he does not care if people learn his secrets, or they are so well-hidden no one will ever find them. I tend to believe the latter - as much as he professes the former - but I cannot prove it. Then again, he may simply be what he seems, safe in that simplicity merely because no one will ever believe that is all there is to it, that the truth is so cut-and-dry. He doesn't share any information, but he doesn't protect any, either. I hate him for this.

      The rest of my crew is a different story altogether. I can hold entire regiments at bay with nothing more than a datapad and an open database. Dust Bunnies are all spineless, obedient lackeys, scrambling out of harm's way whenever they find themselves within its reach. And the Bagels believe me to be too good a resource to risk losing to rivals, so my demands are usually met immediately. Most of the time I don't even need to bully them with their own dirty little secrets, or dangle coveted tidbits of info as bargaining chips. They simply give me whatever I want. They do not *like* me, but they *need* me. Or, rather, my skilled services.

      What do I have against the Ducks, you ask? Well…nothing, really. True, they spawned me and killed my mother - but I really could care less about all that. My primary concern is - and has always been - money. I want it. Lots of it. And since the Ducks shun all those not pure-bred, I cannot earn money from them - so why not off them?

      Hmm…you know, that is all I wish to tell you. More than I probably should have, really, but as I said, you caught me in a generous mood. Your turn, then. Tell me your secrets. Go on, I'm listening. This was a trade, after all. I tell you some of my secrets, you tell me some of yours. Know of any treasure-troves, or secret bases, or up-and-coming gizmos and where I can get them? No? Ah, well. I also take cash, if you prefer…