Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Liz Dorner and Christopher Levy.
Zero years before the Battle of Yavin (35:4:8) in the Essesia system: Esseles (New Calamar: Claudius Rodney's estate).
Ewwiekewwieikkie, Vice Admiral Claudius Rodney, and Countess Htaere Rodney.

Ewwiekewwieikkie bounded up the stairs of the Rodney Estate on Esseles, carrying a cardboard box that once contained filters for the coffeine maker. She was clearly very excited about something and halfway up the stairs, she stumbled banging her knee. "Ouch!" she yelled as she crawled her way up the rest of the stairs, breathing furiously as she reached the top triumphantly with the maximum possible effort. She scampered down the corridor to the master bedroom and with her right began knocking on the door. With her left hand, she hid the box behind her body, but in a poor way that would allow it to be easily seen. A large grin formed upon her face and she began to squeal happily in delight.

"Come in," Htaere's melodious accented voice called from inside the room as she strolled about the interior of the chambers, watering the various plants she'd set about to capture as much natural beauty and Hapan replication as she possibly could.

Ewwiekewwieikkie opened the door and surged forward with a seemingly endless reserve of enthusiasm. She plopped on the bed clumsily and looked towards Htaere, and presented the flimsy box to her. "It's a present!" she announced, stating the obvious as she waited for her to take it. Inside, Htaere would find one of the family plates, whose center had been punched out to make a hole, so that it now resembled a donut. Glued to it were some of the new pieces of silverware that she had acquired on their recent trip to Ithor.

"Aww Ewwie, this is so very thoughtful of you," she commented as she set down the watering can and took to opening the package. Eyeing the plate, Htaere carefully picked it up and held it at eye level, appreciative of the Squibb's efforts. "I love it! It is wonderful! What is the occasion for such a special gift?"

"It is to thank you for the koovy trip," Ewwiekewwieikkie declared as she clapped her hands together excitedly. "It's a hat. You can try on," she suggested as her fur covered blue finger pointed towards Htaere's head. Her golden eyes widened in anticipation as she marveled in the creativity that she had utilized in making the fashionable accessory.

"You are very welcome," Htaere said, offering Ewwie a graceful curtsy. Removing the head band she wore, she replaced it promptly with Ewwie's gift. "How does it look?"

"Ooooooh. Pretty," she squealed as she admired the hat on Htaere's head. She bounced happily on the bed, clapping her hands excitedly.

The door to the suite opened once again as Claudius stepped inside, quite unexpected for this particular time of day. He could hear Ewwie carrying on from the ground level of the estate, but the last thing he expected was the scene that was unfolding. As he saw the broken dish on Htaere's face he started to chuckle, but knowing how hard his adopted daughter had most likely worked on it he quickly bit down on his bottom lip to prevent it. His hand covered his mouth quickly, as he lowered his head slightly to hide his reaction. "It is very nice," he said, through pained breaths as he moved towards the duo.

Not expecting Claudius home, Htaere's head turned towards the door before a smile broke her features. "It is quite lovely," she agreed. "Ewwie is ever so kind to think of me." Her arms outstretched to the bed to give the Squibb a warm hug in gratitude. "I do sincerely thank you. I shall treasure it always," she promised, a genuine measure to be sure. Ewwie was the only kindred soul in the Rodney family and she found the gift endearing and kind. Looking back to Claudius, she canted her head slightly. "You are home very early today. Is anything the matter?"

Ewwiekewwieikkie enjoyed the hug happily, but her nose began to twitch as she sniffed the air. The serving droid downstairs was cooking and her sense of smell was the finest in the family. She gasped excitedly before exclaiming, "Food!" All of her interest in the hat had subsided as she hurriedly ran from the room to investigate what was going on downstairs.

Claudius watched in amazement as Ewwwie bounded from the room. He had expected her to have been moved out and on her own by now. When he pulled her out of the ashes of her family home during the Clone Wars, he did not realize he would still be caring for her well into his 50s. With privacy restored to the room, he turned his attention to Htaere and smiled. "No. Nothing is the matter, my love," he said to her as he moved towards her slowly. He extended his hands to her, and began leading her from the room. "I have been far too neglectful as of late. I have arranged for us to spend the day together," he informed her happily, as he tried to put off the stress of the war for just one day.

Htaere appeared taken back by the statement. It was completely unexpected. "Oh...alright, that sounds lovely..." she stammered for an appropriate response to her surprise. Pausing she stopped. "Wait, one moment..." with that she hurried back to the bed and replaced Ewwie's hat with the elegant head piece she'd had on earlier. Chuckling, she checked her appearance in one of the grand full length mirrors before rejoining him at the threshold. "Should any of your fans in the news media manage to steal a vid shot of you, it is perhaps best that I not be disgracing your image with Ewwie's fine creation."

"Obviously you've never seen the Squibbish Crown," Claudius said with a joke as he escorted her like a gentleman down the flowing staircase. "The last time I was on Skor II I believe forks were in fashion..." he added, as he reached the bottom of the stairs. In a moment they were greeted by a serving droid that was carrying a large, ornate basket that was filled to the brim with freshly prepared food and a bottle of wine. He eagerly took it from the droid, groaning slightly as it was perhaps heavier than he was expecting. "Shall we?" he asked her, as he proceeded towards the exit of the estate.

Wonders never ceased it seemed, Htaere's stupor taking an even sharper turn at the arrangements made. She did her best to keep the skepticism from manifesting itself across her youthful face. Eyes dropping to his arm, she wove her own through his before narrowing her eyes with an uncertain grin. "Are you sure nothing is wrong? I was under the impression you have been very busy as of late. This seems...out of character."

Claudius nodded politely to one of the Stormtroopers that was tasked with patrolling the perimeter of the estate, a constant reminder of the threat that they faced. "The only thing that is wrong is that I have neglected you to the point where it is now 'out of character' for me to now spend a day with you," he said, as he looked over his shoulder at her. "Now come," he said politely, not at all in a commanding tone. He walked towards the cliffside and began descending the path towards the small beach below. He paused as he looked down, wondering if he could manage to carry the basket all the way down under his own power. He wondered if he should have had the droid do it, but there was something decidedly less romantic about a droid doing the work.

Stormy grey eyes scourred the foot path, touched by the initiative. "I am quite lucky that twice I have been surprised by the generosity of family members," she mused out loud. "How fortunate I must be," and with a content sigh, she daintily lifted the front of her dress a bit so as not to trip on it whilst traversing the ravine to the beach below. Slowing a bit, Htaere gazed towards Claudius ruefully. "I know you are busy," she added quietly. "I want you to know that I have never considered you neglectful, Claudius. I am sorry if I have unwittingly implied such."

"Right now I am busy trying not to break my neck," Claudius said as he turned to look over his shoulder at her as he struggled down the path with the picnic basket. On the bright side, they would be eating the contents of the basket and it would be easier for him to carry up the cliffs. As they reached the bottom he put the basket down for a moment and slowly caught his breath, before kicking his boots off. "Ah," he exclaimed as he walked forward, the hot sand gently heating his feet. He carried the basket several feet forward before placing it down. Opening it, he pulled out a large blanket and unfolded it, to cover the sand so that they could more easily sit. On the cliffs above them Stormtroopers carefully watched their every move, while a small patrol meandered further down the beach.

Unable to resist the urge follow suit, Htaere bent down to unfasten her glittery sandals, letting the warm sand work its way between her toes as she padded down to the water's edge. Lifting up the hem of her gown again, albeit in vain, she stepped forward into the ebbing tide, pushing up the shoreline before retracting, only to do it all over again. The feeling was sensational, and she wondered why this was not something she thought to engage in more often. The sunlight illuminated her long red-gold tresses, spilling down her back and occasionally fluttering in the gentle gusts that happened by here and there. It was glorious. "This is proving to be a wonderful idea," she remarked, smiling down at the sweeping motion of the water.

"I have at least one wonderful idea a year," Claudius said as he looked to her with a kind smile, admiring the way the sun shone down to accentuate her features. He began digging through the basket and found a bottle of Alderaanian Ruge. He looked at it for a moment, remembering how many nights he had partaken in several glasses to cope with the stress of the war. It had affected his judgment and his duty, and he was better than that. He haphazardly tossed the bottle into the sea, wanting to be rid of the temptation. "Who needs it?" he said as he went down a little further to produce a bottle of local spring water, pouring them each a glass.

Returning to the blanket laid out, Htaere took a seat and folded her hands in her lap. "I am glad to see you have devoted yourself to refraining from the consumption of alcohol," she said, approving of his dedication to reform. Thinking on it, she opted not to pursue such a negative topic any further. "We missed Jelena on our trip. I hope she was able to enjoy the peace and quiet in the estate during our absence," she fished for other topics, more pleasant in nature.

Claudius ignored her comment regarding the alcohol, privately agreeing with her on the matter, but feeling that little more would be gained from speaking about it. "Truthfully I haven't seen much of her lately..." he said, sounding somewhat disappointed as he began to smear an Alderaanian cheese on a cracker. He offered a portion to Htaere before setting to work on another cracker for himself. "She's at that age where she doesn't want to spend time with her father," he said before slipping the cracker into his mouth. He smiled from pleasurable sensations of the food and leaned back slightly, letting the warming rays of the Essessia star sweep over his body. He was rarely home during the day, so the feeling of the sunlight was especially soothing. "I can't say I blame her. I tried as hard as I could to get away from my father. I took every diplomatic assignment away from home I could..." he conceded as his attention turned to the spring water.

"I think that is perhaps the way all adolescents feel," she recalled her own moments of parental disgust in her youth. In truth, that still existed, towards her mother and sisters. Her father had not been the problem, or in the picture much at all as her mother kept him around for procreating and occasionally appearing as a piece of arm candy at diplomatic functions when she wasn't cajoling with someone else. "I can take her to Alderaan if she likes," Htaere offered quietly. "I enjoy traveling, and I am certain she would enjoy the trip home to her family and friends."

Claudius sampled another of the artisan cheeses that had been provided for them, as he considered Htaere's request. "I think being on Alderaan would just make it harder for her..." he said reluctantly as he pulled the locally bred boar from the basket. He began carving it for both of them to enjoy. "Maybe she should have been in college with her friends, but it was beyond on my control..." he explained to her as he placed a heaping array of the sliced Essesselian boar on Htaere's plate.

"As in the folly of all youth, the sacrifices of the parent will not come to be known until later, when maturation provides clairvoyance and appreciation," she replied with a grin. "Give it time. I am certain she will come to acknowledge your efforts when the abasement of growing up sets in."

Claudius began eating some of the boar as he listened to Htaere's council carefully, acknowledging that she had more in common with a teenage girl than he did. "I'm in my fifties and I still resent my father," he said with a nervous, uncomfortable laugh and quickly moved to finish his spring water.

Htaere managed a playful grin. "Your worthy of such at times. He can be..." she thought on it "...difficult to tolerate." She couldn't help but laugh a little. In truth though, she hardly found the Duke of Delaya to be comedic. Pushy and meddling were understatements in the description of Julius Rodney. Reaching across the blanket, Htaere pushed at Claudius' shoulder lightly. "Let us not speak of such gloomy topics. There are many great things to be had in the galaxy."

If they were not being chaperoned by Stormtroopers he might think to make a move, but being under the watchful glare of armor-clad soldiers sort of took the magic out of the moment. "Speaking of parents..." he said, taking a pause to finish his portion of the boar. "Did you have a chance to see your parents on Gallinore?" he asked, as he leaned back against the blanket once more in order to digest in comfort. He was eating far too many meals in the officer's mess aboard the Star Destroyer lately, and his diet had suffered greatly. It was a rare treat to enjoy freshly prepared meals by the household staff and he savored every morsel.

"No," Htaere replied, taking a very unlady like moment to lick her finger tips after sampling some of the fare on her plate, and enjoying every minute of it thoroughly. "I made it clear they were unwelcomed during our respite," she stated matter-of-factly. "As it was, we cut our plans short after the attack so we could return home promptly."

"Right ... the attack..." Claudius said quietly, as he did not yet have a chance to discuss the subject with Htaere. He had learned that it was an authorized attack, but one clearly meant to dispose of an officer rather than inflict real damage upon the Hapans. As he leaned back a small burp escaped his lips, breaking the seriousness of the mood. "Oh excuse me," he said in complete embarrassment as he brought a cloth napkin to his lips to wipe, covering his shame.

"That is it," she said shaking her head. "I want a divorce. I shall not have such behavior," she stated whilst folding her arms across her chest.

Claudius surged towards her quite unexpectedly, his arms reaching for her as he struggled to carry her in his arms. "I'll show you divorce!" he said, playfully rather than angrily as he headed towards the shoreline. "...did I pay for those clothes?" he asked her, as he let the first waves began to crash against his legs, up to his knee length. The suddenly he dove forward, letting her carefully fall into the sea as he immersed himself him fully in the cool refreshing waters.

Not expecting the response, Htaere felt her breath lock in her throat when she was plucked from the blanket and deposited back down into the water. Splashing about she raised a hand to wipe the droplets from her eyes and trying not to laugh lest she inhale part of the sea. Recovering from surprised of being dunked, Htaere stared across wide eyed at the rather juvenile antics. "Never fret, I shall bill you for it..." she retorted with a smirk.

Claudius laughed at her comment as he tread water gracefully, enjoying the sensations of the water against his flesh after being out in the hot sun for so long. "I can afford. I've been racking up a lot of overtime lately," he conceded, making a joke out of something that was actually quite true. "It takes a lot of hours of work to finance the lifestyle of the young Lady Drusilla Rodney," he explained, before dunking his head beneath the water to let the refreshing sensation wash over his locks of hair.

"Indeed," Htaere confessed. She moved to the shoreline where she crawled up part of the way and stretched out on the sand, the ebb rolling up her body nearly to her shoulders, letting the sand coat her dress and hair, heedless of whether or not it was appropriate, or couth. She allowed herself a deep sigh before sitting up, reaching up to pluck her head piece from her wet hair and tossing it behind her towards the blanket, followed by earrings, bracelets, anklets, necklace and whatever else she could remove, with the exception of her wedding ring. Gazing at it for a moment, she thought out loud. "You know, I do not believe we have done something like this since the honeymoon."

Claudius came out of the water slowly, pulling off his wet shirt and tossing it towards the corner of the blanket. He still kept a somewhat trim and proper physique, despite his age, having a lifestyle that keeps him constantly on the go. "War tends to get in the way of such things, unfortunately," he said to her as his eyes slowly rolled up to the always present sight of the Imperial Stormtroopers on the cliff face.

With a crestfallen half grin, Htaere picked at her fingernails for a moment. "Yes...," she lamented quietly before looking up. "...well perhaps one day, this conflict will be resolved and we shall have more time for these sorts of outings," she offered encouragingly.

Claudius sat down next to Htaere, the beads of water running down his body as the air gently cooled him. It was among his favorite sensations and one that he rarely felt anymore. "Twenty years ago there was a real war. We thought it would never end, but The Emperor brought peace to the galaxy," he explained to her, remembering those awful days that threatened to destroy everything he knew. "This is just a few troublemakers. It cannot last ... it will not last," he told her reassuringly, as he lay down tiredly, staring up at the sun as the sand began to irritatingly cling to his moist flesh.

Htaere's eyes flickered to the side towards Claudius momentarily but she said nothing. Her own thoughts drifted off to her recollections and experiences, remaining quiet in the face of her husband's Imperial self-righteous declarations regarding the Empire. Instead she drew a deep breath and let her eyes pander out to the water, pulling her focus on the moment they shared.

Claudius sat up, sitting beside her, as he snuggled up against her. His head tilted slightly, leaning against her shoulder as he gave a gentle kiss against his neck. His eyes stared forward as he watched the sun slowly begin to set, it's last breath of light flickering over the waves that were lapping at the sea shore. It had been a perfect night in an imperfect month.

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