Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Christopher Levy and Sarah Riggs-Shute.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:1:4) in the Essesia system: Retributor.
Lieutenant Allegra Ames, Liliya Benedt, Major Kerrie Kiley, Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, Lady Jelena Rodney, Lieutenant Bethany Sheppard, and Doctor Pilaq Tohan.

Jelena lay stationary on a bed in the Retributor's sickbay, with a large scanner draped over her chest. It had been a difficult time for the young Alderaanian noblewoman since being captured by the Imperial Security Bureau, subjected to psychological torture by Major Arden Zevrin, and then deposited back in the arms of her estranged father as a pawn in a sick mind game. An explosive device had been affixed to her chest, which would explode under a variety of different circumstances or on the whim of Major Zevrin. She had not spoken to her father much since the return, nor did she reconnect with her siblings, but instead mostly remained in the fetal position in her old room. Now she was back in sickbay undergoing another battery of tests to determine if there was anything that could be done to remove or disarm the explosive. She let out a dejected sigh as her blue eyes stared up blankly at the lights that were hanging over her.

Doctor Pilaq Tohan had known Jelena her entire life. In fact, he had known her *more* than her entire life as he was responsible for her mother's pre-natal care and delivered her nineteen years ago. When she left the Warspite he had hoped she would find peace and happiness, but now she was back here going through this ordeal. His large, bulbous eyes stared at the terminals as a 3D model of the device was shown, directly adjacent to Jelena's beating heart. It would take the skills of an engineer to analyze the device further, but his limited knowledge did allow him to realize that any attempt on his part to remove it would almost certainly cause a detonation. He moved slowly towards her, extending his long digits of his hands to gently comfort the teenager, by rubbing her hair.

Lieutenant Bethany Sheppard was in the supply room, attempting to ensure that her mother's routine supply packages had been properly forwarded to the Retributor. Aboard the Warspite it seemed that she rarely received any of them, as they had been intercepted by the ISB and her friend, Captain Trainor. She was determined to ensure the same thing that did not happen aboard their new ship, and the officer had repeatedly assured her that she would immediately be notified when the packages arrived. Before she left, she noticed that a package had been left for the Governor's aide, Liliya Benedt, that had been left in the unclaimed pile. Feeling bad how her packages were apparently lost, she took it upon herself to make sure the same fate did not befall this one. Picking up, she proceeded towards the turbolift that would take her to the level directly below the Grand Moff's family, where the aide had been given personal quarters so close that it was the subject of whispers, rumors, and innuendos ... that she enjoyed spreading herself. As she reached the door, she pressed down on the buzzer to activate the alarm on the other side of the door. After there was no answer she wondered if the Governor was in there now, and she began to imagine some seedy tale to spread amongst the crew. She left the package at the foot of the door, before scampering off with a sly grin to spread some false gossip at the mess.

Claudius sat at his desk silently examining a datapad with the latest list of political executions demanded by Major Arden Zevrin. The woman had returned with an enemies list kilometers long, but did not have the authority or the audacity to order them herself. Instead, she forced the Grand Moff to affix his signature to the orders, and use his authority to carry them out. Some were indeed Rebel sympathizers, but others were the enemies of rich nobles who flattered Zevrin, while others were merely women who had outshined her at one of the Ringali Shell's many noble affairs. It sickened him, but each death he ordered went towards keeping his daughter alive. He pressed his thumb to the datapad, setting in motion the chain of events that would lead to the deaths of everyone on the list, and the further sullying of his good name. He reached towards the bottle of Alderaan ruge ... one of the last in the galaxy ... as his shaky hand poured himself a glass. He devoured it quickly, giving no time to savor it, before placing his head down on the desk in front of him. If only Liliya were here to comfort him, he thought to himself, which caused him to realize that she had been absent since they arrived aboard the Retributor. He had neglected her due to his own focus on Jelena and the torment the ISB had subjugated him to, but now he was determined to check on her. Rising from his desk feeling lightheaded from the lack of sleep and excess drink, he began to move from his office towards the corridor that would ultimately lead to the lovely Liliya's lair.

The transition from the Warspite to the Retributor had not been an easy transition for Liliya Benedt, in fact, it had been downright atrocious. The ship was absolutely massive and extremely easy to get turned around due to not yet knowing the layout. It was so easy to get from one area to another on the Warspite, the turbolifts being easily accessible, but on such a large vessel, one had to traverse along the length of the mighty starship just to get to one area before taking a turbolift and continuing once again down the length. If she were human, it would have been an exhausting affair, and she was not quite sure how the rest of the crew was going to adapt. However, Liliya had yet to fully explore the ship, nor had she even been outside her own room for days. Holed up like a recluse awaiting a package to arrive, but when it did... she had been too shy and unsure of herself to go retrieve it. She was at the tender mercies of some kind soul, who she hoped would take it upon themselves to deliver her package.

When Liliya had first began to unpack her belongings a few days prior, she had been unfortunately reminded of the words Arden Zevrin had so brutally told her. Every article of clothing she had owned was the same black merino dress. And although it was very nice quality, and complimented her figure perfectly, apparently humans felt that was not appropriate to wear the exact same thing every day. During her entire stay on the Warspite, no one had ever once mentioned this to her. The thought of being ridiculed unknowingly this whole time horrified her, she was so willing to please, nearly desperate even, as it was the major component of her programming. Not only that, but it became clear that others felt even less of her by believing there was something unprofessional between herself and her charge. Liliya could not even bare to look at those dresses and she had found herself spending hours of lost time weeping bitterly into her hands. Hours she had spent not knowing what to do, and unwilling to set foot outside of her room least others saw her continue to wear the same outfit, and she didn't even have anything else to wear, so she found herself trapped helplessly in her room for days.

Finally her package had arrived, or so she assumed. Some helpful and merciful being was activating her room's buzzer. As excited as she was, Liliya could not answer the door because ... she was still wearing the black dress and could not let anyone see her wear it. After a few minutes of waiting impatiently, and with no further sound, she figured the person had left, hopefully leaving the package. The door ever so slightly slid open, allowing the woman to peek cautiously out into the hallway. Eyes shifted both ways to ensure no one would witness her mad dash to get the box and then rush back inside her room. With the box secured and in the safety of her dwelling, Liliya quickly opened the package to reveal a whole new wardrobe of various colors and designs. Now, she did not know what was terribly fashionable, but she was going to give it a shot. At least no one could say she *only* owned a single outfit. She spent the next few hours trying on different combinations of articles until she settled on one she really liked. Liliya figured that because she had constantly wore black, that she should try the opposite spectrum and wear a creamy white. This dress had a really charming floral pattern as well. Determined to show everyone that she could improve herself, she changed her outfit quickly, checked her hair and then grabbed her datapad before rushing out of the door with a newfound rejuvenating energy.

It was at this moment that a tipsy Claudius was making his way down the corridor toward Liliya's quarters. His head was lowered so that the officers he encounters would not see his rose colored cheeks or glossy eyes, in an attempt to conceal just how his appearance had suffered since the unwelcome return of Arden Zevrin. Out of the corner of his eyes he saw a woman in white approaching, but he did not think much of it until he was already upon her. He lifted his head for only a moment to offer a fake smile at the woman, but did not notice her, and kept walking. It took the man's intoxicated brain to process the fact that it was a Liliya, which caused him to stop dead in his tracks in the corridor. He turned swiftly, looking at the woman who was wearing a new outfit for the first time since he met her back on Coruscant following his elevation to Grand Moff. "Liliya?" he asked, almost in disbelief, as his eyes roamed over the white dress that clung to her borderline malnourished frame. "I-I didn't recognize you," he stammered awkwardly, as he closed the distance between them. Liliya wears black he thought to himself, but this dress was white ... his brain was having difficulty processing the change.

Now that the aid was free of the prison that had been her room for the past few days, she had been on a direct route to check on her charge, Governor Rodney, just in case the man thought she had perished. She did feel awfully guilty for not accomplishing her duties recently, but she just could not bare the idea of hushed ridicule compromising her responsibilities and her character. These tasteless rumors needed to stop, and Liliya figured the only real way to get a positive reaction from others was to activity engage them in conversations. If she managed to actually befriend a large portion of the staff, something she wholly neglected before, then hopefully a more beneficial and constructive opinion of Liliya could replace the less befitting ones. She was so caught up in her new goals that she walked right past the man she was on her way to meet. It was only when Claudius called out to her that Liliya turned around in surprise and embarrassment. "Milord! I'm sorry. I was just on my way to meet you." She paused, a bit humbled that he noticed her change in attire. A slight flush of red highlighted her cheeks and her eyes cast downwards timidly. She was very much hoping he would approve of her attempt at trying a new outfit. A bit of white fabric was smoothed out and tugged into place shyly. "Do you ... do you like it?"

The Governor looked at her with all the affection he could muster, as he viewed her as the last pure, untouched object in his life. He was speechless as he beheld her image in the angelic white dress. He brought his right hand up to cup her chin and gently caress the side of her face. "I've missed you," he said quietly, weakly, as he looked at her longer than any man should, his voice sounding as if he were in a far off land. "Oh of course I like it, Liliya," he said to her, as his thumb circled her cheek repeatedly, in a soft, gentle touch. Finally, his hand withdrew, and he smiled sweetly at her once more. He had forgotten the hardships he was up against the Major Zevrin and his daughter, and as he stood there in his drunken trance he felt all was right with the world.

Major Kerrie Kiley had been searching for the Governor after coming to his office and finding nothing but an overturned, empty bottle of liquor. She went first to sickbay, but did not find the man at his daughter's side. Nor was he in his personal quarters with his wife and children. In her mind, that left only one place he could be, and one person he could be with. She was none too pleased with Liliya she was assigned as his civilian aide, stripping her of most of her own duties as the man's military adjutant. She came up behind Claudius, her carefully mimicked human face glaring at the young, petite Alderaanian in her new white dress. She could smell the liquor on him. Their command was once again descending into madness. "You were supposed to be watching him!" she said to Liliya, losing her patience, and stepping in between the two of them. "Maybe if you spent a little less time dress shopping this wouldn't be happening," she said, glaring angrily at her, before turning her attention to the Governor. She raised her hand to the Governor's head, feeling his warmth and trying to steady his drunken, shaking body. "I just left Doctor Tohan. He has preliminary report on Jelena ... *your daughter!*," she said, loudly, and obnoxiously, while her eyes locked in Liliya.

Lieutenant Allegra Ames dutifully marches down the corridor of the Retributor, cradling a datapad that brought with it the latest reports from the fallout from Major Zevrin's ruthless retaliation. Public opinion was down on Brentaal, Chandrila, and Esseles, as the Imperial Stormtroopers were turned wild committing executions, shuttering businesses, and even committing wanton acts of violence and destruction. She stopped before she rounded the corridor, upon hearing the beginning of Kerrie's rant. Her hand was quick to activate the recording rod affixed to the datapad. This was going to be good, she thought to herself, as she began recording the ensuing drama, while hiding around the corner out of sight. A wicked grin curled upon her lips as she imagined the Stormtrooper tearing apart the cupcake and ruining the Governor's last joy.

Liliya looked up to Claudius with apologetic eyes and heavy guilt that she had neglected him, and now she saw the effects of it, a drunken depression. This man clearly needed her assistance, and even though this whole operation was her cover, she took it seriously and sincerely felt obligated to serve him. Just seeing his sad condition due to her absence broke her heart. "I am so sorry, Milord, please forgive me. I... my excuses are not even worthy to mention." Liliya was about to continue but she was heavily startled by Major Kiley bursting in between them, and it was so abrupt that Benedt stumbled backwards off balance and nearly lost her footing. She was shocked, taken by surprise but also a bit fearful of the brazen anger coming from the Major directed at her person. Instinctively, she heavily flinched behind her datapad that was brought up almost like a shield, before eyes glanced over the brim of the duraplast towards the officer. "I.. I know." She stammered at the direct accusation, realizing that it was true, and that part of this blame fell upon the secretary. Feeling the need to make amends for her shortcomings, she spoke up quickly, trying to regain some of her footing. She did not want to lose all of Kerrie's trust and respect, what little there must be remaining. "I can go receive the report for the Governor." And perhaps that was the best course of action, considering Claudius' current condition.

Claudius swiftly brought his hand up in an attempt to physically discipline Major Kiley, but he caught himself at the last moment when he spied the innocent eyes of Liliya peering over her datapad. Jelena ... he had almost forgot with all that had been going on. He wanted to go, but he also did not want her to see him like this. It was this kind of behavior that had alienated him from her in the first place. He sighed, sinking down into his own self pity, before taking a couple of steps backward to use the wall as a back brace. "Would you ... would you be so kind, my dear?" he said, sweetly, as his brown eyes lay heavy upon her delicate form. He did not acknowledge Major Kiley, neither verbally or with even a glance of his eyes. As far as he considered there was only one person there worth his time, and that was Liliya. He tried his best to force his tired lips to curl upwards into a smile. He was so irritated that Kerrie had interrupted their interlude that it took all of his powers to smile at the moment.

When Major Kiley first encountered Claudius Rodney in orbit of Ithor years ago he was a far different man. The man she saw before her was barely recognizable, softened first by Htaere, and now turned into a kitten by this Liliya. He had gone from a competent old man to a lonely old man chasing women only slightly older than his own children. It was not something she understood, nor something she could accept. She inhaled sharply as the man prepared to backhand her, closing her eyes, and flinching. He had done it before, but not for some time ... Htaere had put an end to it. When she heard him speaking only to Liliya she knew the man was lost, and she was wasting her time. She turned, shooting a glare so intense at Liliya that she momentarily lost her concentration and revealed the grey skinned reptile-like Clawdite appearance that lay beneath. The nonverbal message had been sent, and she silently marched off down the corridor fairly confident that the Governor would not even realize she was ever there. The little bitch had supplanted her, rendering her obsolete. She was a tool without a purpose.

Liliya caught the full brunt of that devastating glare at her person and it very much frightened her. While she fully understood the complaint at the given moment, she did not fully understand why the Major had a constant distaste for her. It appeared to only be getting worse and the secretary was starting to get rather fearful of that woman. Though she had wanted to reach out to all of the notable members of the staff, she worried that if alone with the Major, there might be opportunities for harm upon her person. She could only watch silently with an apprehensive gaze as the Major walked off leaving the two of them alone in the hallway. Liliya did not feel right just leaving the poor Governor by himself in an off-center drunken stupor, he needed to be escorted, it was only right and professional. "Milord, would you like for me to accompany you back to your office before I handle the medical report?" She asked him sweetly, hoping to quickly smooth over any ill feelings that may have just been unearthed with Kerrie's intrusion.

"Yes. Please. I would like that very much," Claudius said to her, having not noticed Kerrie's glare, nor her departure. He reached out with his hand, taking her smaller one into a sweep embrace, and began walking down the corridor towards the necessary turbolift. His public display of holding her hand caused quite the stir among the officers of his new command ship, but he did not notice what was going on. As they moved down the corridor he suddenly realized he had gotten lost, having not yet had a chance to familiar himself with the deckplans for the newer vessel. Eventually he turned around, walking Liliya down the corridor in the opposite direction, past the same confused officers, as if they were on a Sunday stroll along a lake. He was doing little to inspire confidence in the new crew, but he eventually came towards the right turbolift that would lead towards his office. "Without you I would not be able to endure this," he confessed to her, in a rare display of vulnerability when they had the privacy of the lift.

Eventually they returned to his office, whose darkened lights might afford him a nap. "Thank you. Thank you so much," he said to her, before allowing his head to descend, placing the softest of kisses upon her cheek. "Please see to my daughter," he said to her, as he moved both of his hands towards her. He took her hands into his, giving them a reassuring squeeze, as his brown eyes gazed into her synthetic ones sympathetically, unaware of who or what she truly was. He was far too enamored by the beautiful, innocent woman to think or act rationally around her.

As they walked down the hallways, hand-in-hand, Liliya could not help but to blush with heavy embarrassment as every single officer they passed stopped what they were doing to gawk and whisper to each other as they strolled by. It was even worse when they had to turn right back around and go down the exact same hallways in an encore of mild humiliation. It was very clear now to Liliya that these sorts of experiences were exactly why there were so many untrue rumors spreading around as easily as the crew breathed. At this moment, it could not be helped, and the secretary did her best not to make eye contact too often with the onlookers. It was unfortunate that Claudius was a tad too lush with alcohol and indifference to care, and she doubted he even noticed what commotion he was stirring. Perhaps she could gently and respectfully bring this topic up later when he was more capable of understanding. But for now, she could do nothing but humor his desires.

At last, the door to his office came into view and there was a nearly audible sigh of relief that they made it, but very likely that some damage had been done. At least now Liliya was beginning to better understand why she was the focus of ire from others. "Of course, Milord. I only regret that I neglected my duties for so long." She was certain she would not fail him in such a way in the future. That reassuring squeeze was returned, as if to say that she would always be there for him, before she quietly and softly pulled away. She had duties to perform again, it felt... good. A delicate smile was afforded to her superior as she awaited his permission for her departure.

"You have neglected nothing, my beautiful Liliya," Claudius said softly, as he finally released his hands from her. "Now go, and see to Doctor Tohan," he said, as he parted ways with her and moved back towards his desk. "...but don't stray too long," he said, with slight sadness in his voice, as he flopped roughly into his chair. He breathed heavily as he sat in the chair, leaning forward and placing his arms out in front of him on the desk. He overlaid his arms, making a sort of pillow before laying his head down upon it. Before he was even gone the sound of obnoxious snoring began to fill the office, as he faded off into a drunken dreamscape where he imagined his young aide in a manner he dared not make happen in reality.

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