Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:4:28) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Leiliani: Medcenter and Rodney Castle).
Governor Papius Arundel, El-Nay Darr, Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, and Commander Sierra Rodney.

It was amazing was a good night's rest would do for Sierra's ongoing recovery. The woman woke feeling so much better the next day. Her body still had a lot of healing to do. She realized that she needed to take it easy. She couldn't be running around with an E-11 Rambo style. Instead, she was seated at her vanity running a brush through her blonde locks. She had intentions for the morning. She needed to visit Kerrie and El-Nay to check up on their recoveries and thank them for their efforts. Marcus Rodney was also on her list of visitations. She'd been too tired to ask Pilaq how everyone was doing the prior she felt like a jerk for being so insensitive. She set her brush down, turning to face her husband. "Ugh. These boots." The Imperial boots had never been her best friend. She nudged her feet into each one. "I have to go check up on how Kerrie is doing. It was mostly a drive-by thing the other day." Sierra had been more concerned with reuniting with her husband.

Claudius' hip had stiffened during the night's rest, as the ancient palace always caused a chill to settle in overnight. He let out a groan as he sat up in the bed, frowning slightly as he felt he was becoming more and more like his father. "I will wait here as Jelena's mission to recover Drusilla should be over soon, and I want to make sure at least one of us is here," he informed her, as he looked over towards her. Truthfully he did not want to return to the site of his father's murder, nor where so many misfortunes had befallen his precious family over the proceeding weeks. "If she is removed from the tank do give her my regard," he said, uncomfortably, wishing he had done more to stand up for her in the wake of Arden Zevrin's coup.

"Good plan. We don't want her running off to Esseles without anyone again." The medcenter was a dark place in their lives. It seemed like the belly of the beast. Gaius' daughter had taken Julius' life there and attempted to do the same to Claudius. She didn't know if the small girl was lingering close. She didn't like leaving Claudius alone in the castle. She couldn't muzzle her protective nature. She bent back to steal his glareshades from the vanity. There would, without a doubt, be HoloNet reporters waiting to talk to her outside the medcenter. She wanted to distract them from the healing wounds on her face. She wanted no one's sympathy. Sierra stood. She strolled over to the bed where she sat beside him. "I'll send her your regard. Be safe while I'm gone, okay? If anything happens, call me and I'll be here immediately." She leaned forward to kiss his lips. Just before her lips met with his, she stopped. "You need to take the day off. Despite what Pilaq said, wifey's intuition says that you're in pain." She leaned forward, kissing him.

As she brought her face towards his he raised his hand to caress the side of her face while returning her kiss. He closed his eyes as his lips settled upon hers and the brief repose felt much too short for his liking. When her face pulled away his eyes looked at her, worrying for her as she moved away. "Be careful," he said to her, wishing he had someone to look after her. The Alderaan Guard could not be trusted, and Governor Arundel's troops were proving to be overzealous in their handling of the situation. Suddenly he missed life aboard the Retributor, where at least he felt safe.

She wished it was socially acceptable for them to be attached at the hip. Sierra was under the impression that *she* could protect her husband. No one else in the castle could...or anyone else on Delaya. She smiled as she slowly pulled back. "You too. I'll see you soon." Sliding on the glareshades, she offered him a cute little smile before leaving.

As expected, the medcenter was a mess of HoloNet reporters. Sierra Rodney sat in the back of a speeder, audibly groaning. Did they have nothing better to do?! The young ISB officer forced herself from the speeder and towards the medcenter entrance. She was surprised to find Stormtroopers there, providing her with brief protecting from the onslaught of reporters. She headed towards Kerrie's suite immediately. The connection with her Imperial life made her wonder what was going on within the Retributor. By now, her and Claudius had avoided it. They played a blissful game of ignorance. When would it catch up with them? It seemed like Governor Arundel was slowly squeezing them. He was causing trouble within the city. The powerlessness that she felt was a problem. She wished that Kerrie could stay with them. With a sigh, Sierra rounded the bend into the ward where Kerrie's room was.

El-Nay Darr was standing outside of Kerrie's room and by the look on her face and the red discoloration she did not look happy. The young Mandalorian was still decked out in her obnoxiously painted orange Nite Owl armor, with her helmet grasped firmly in her left hand. There were two Stormtroopers standing at the doorway to the room where Kerrie's bacta tank was being held in, and it was clear El-Nay was being denied access. She was huffing and puffing as was her usual style, and she seemed poised to use her helmet as a melee weapon to bludgeon one of the troopers irresponsibly in an attempt to gain entry. It was only then that she saw Sierra out of the corner of her eye and a slightly relieved look came upon her face, which prevented her from attacking the Stormtrooper. "Sierra!" she exclaimed, as she began moving swiftly towards the Commander. "These bucketheads won't let me in," she said, loud enough for the Stormtroopers to hear, as she grimaces and pouted while looking at the ISB Commander and Duchess she took credit for saving.

El-Nay was a hard person to miss...and Sierra didn't. Her color preference was certainly distinct. Concern crossed over Sierra's face as she saw that the woman had been barred out from Kerrie's room. The Duchess wasn't an idiot. She saw that there was *something* going on between the two. Put in the same position, Sierra would have had no choice but to go full Rambo. The presence of so many Stormtroopers here was worrisome. She stopped in front of El-Nay. "Okay. Let me see what's going on. I'll get you access back to Kerrie." Her hand briefly patted the woman's shoulder. She owed this woman. If she could make El-Nay's life easier, then she was going to. Sierra stepped forward. She made her way into Kerrie's room. The very first sight she saw as she entered was shocking. "Governor!?" Oh *shit*. There he stood: Papius Arundel. The last meeting with Papius had not gone well for Sierra. She steeled herself where she stood. "You have no right to deny the woman outside access to this room. Allow El-Nay to see her comrade."

"I will remind you that you do not command here, Commander," Governor Papius Arundel replied, with a play on words, obnoxiously. "The Mandalorians are a plague best left contained to their home planet," he declared, with his back still turned to Sierra, as he was fixated on the Clawdite creature floating within the bacta tank. "It is only because the woman is assigned to a special project for the Inquisitorius that I have not placed in her chains for shipment back to Mandalore," he explained, before slowly turning around to look at her. "I am pleased to see you unharmed from your ordeal. Your beauty is of such renown that I would hate for you to lose it, for I fear what skills you have at your disposal to fall back on," he sneered, as he moved towards her ... close enough for them to breath the same air. He inhaled sharply, as if he was savoring a fine wine, as he tasted her. "It is fortunate you were captured on Esseles and not here, for it is another shortcoming of Grand Moff Rodney's forces in the Ringali Shell, and not mine here on Delaya," he said, with an unmistakable smirk of arrogance. He was on his high horse with the knowledge of the Rebel trap he had begun to set. She would easily see he was behaving more arrogant than normal.

"That woman was part of the group which rescued me. Kerrie is her comrade. Please, allow her to see her friend. El-Nay isn't going to start trouble." Sierra's mouth was dry. She tried to telekinetically let Claudius know that she was in trouble. Papius had a tongue made of daggers. Sierra had yet to decide how best to deal with him. There was an aura that surrounded him which made her highly uncomfortable. He took over her personal space until she could smell his breath. His words rolled off of her. Papius' opinion of her had no weight on her life. The man would love to consume her; to gather her up and take her for his own. He made her visibly uncomfortable. Her breath was shallow. She didn't want to give him any satisfaction.

She groaned. "What happened on Esseles has nothing to do with the shortcomings of the Grand Moff. These were rabid thieves. Meanwhile, on Delaya, there still lurks the assassins who are trying to kill Claudius and myself. Tell me. How is your investigation coming along?" He was acting so high and mighty. Sierra rose, refusing to let herself crumble entirely under him.

"Rabid thieves, indeed?" Papius responded, before arching his left eyebrow at her. "Tell me, is this woman not the sister of the woman your brother-in-law married? The same woman who was responsible for the abduction of her own sister here?" he asked, before moving towards his datapad to pull up the files on Petrus Flosgermen and Luna Ta'em. "He is quite well known ... she less so ... but you might find it interesting that they were recently assigned to the same project as your Mandalorian out there," he said, before handing over the datapad to Sierra for her own examination. "In fact, I have orders to return all four of them to the Inquisitorius," he said, with a firm nod of his head. "My investigation has made strong headway, Milady ... the information you provided was an excellent first step on the path to my ascension," he said, before moving back to examine Kerrie in the tank. "Perhaps ... if you are *kind* ... your involvement might find its way into my report to Grand Moff Praji," he said, before raising his hand to the tank and wrapping his knuckles against it. "A terrifying creature this. They are not supposed to roam free either. Her species is quarantined on Zolan, and after looking at this I understand why," he said, as he pursed his lips while examining her garish reptilian features. "Your Grand Moff husband has surrounded himself with an assortment of rulebreakers and exceptions it would seem," he continued, before finally turning around. "Rank does have its advantages ... I suppose..." he said, with a snicker, as he waited to see what more she wished of him. She was a pale presence when compared with his fully programmable and obedient hologram.

Sierra stepped forward into the room. "Indeed it is. However, we cannot help who we share our family trees with. It is neither Zara nor Marcus' fault that any of this happened." It was then that Papius did something that threw her off: he claimed that all four of them were part of some special project. "What?!" She reached over, taking the datapad from him. She consumed the information quickly. How could this be?! After Luna Ta'em and Petrus Flosgermen had abducted Zara, they were brought in to serve the Empire? Suddenly it all made sense. Kerrie and El-Nay had showed up to take them back...not to save Sierra. Her eyes flickered to Kerrie where she floated in bacta as to ask *seriously*!? Inside, she felt furious. She wanted to see Petrus and Luna punished for their actions. Instead, she had to live with orders. Handing the datapad back, she nodded her head. "Then get them all off of my planet as soon as possible." It was better if El-Nay and Kerrie weren't there. The situation on Delaya was only made to get uglier.

Still processing the information Papius had given her, she listened to him talk. "Oh, dear Papius. I handed you that information so you could take *complete* credit. I want nothing to do with it." The word *kind* seemed to have implications behind it. Her anger centered around Papius. How he spoke of Mandalorians and Clawdites was *sickening*. This attitude was all too common in the Empire. Sierra stood closer to Kerrie, who was shielded by her protection. "Clearly you haven't seen a Clawdite in action. This woman is an asset to the Empire. It doesn't matter what she looks like. It is people like you, ignorant to the alien species, that cause problems for her. My husband accepts other species. He sees their skills. Have you met the Chiss Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca? An example of what having open eyes can do for everyone involved with the Empire." She glared at him. "The rules would change if we were in my husband's sector. I hope you'll visit some time, Papius." She turned her back to him and began heading towards the door. "The Mandalorian outside..." She began, opening up the door. "Come in, El-Nay."

"Perhaps your husband will visit sometime, after all ... it is *his* sector to govern," Papius replied swiftly, with a condescending snort. "This *woman* ... as you call her ... may be an asset to the Empire today, but I am confident when the Emperor brings peace and order to the galaxy that creatures such as her will be put back in their cage or..." he stopped short, not wanting to mention genocide like what was conducted on Geonosis to her. "No. I have not met her, although it seems the only demographic your husband keeps around more than aliens is females. Point of concern?" he asked, with a smirk, as he moved back towards her. "Fine. She can come in. Who knows how many precious moments they'll have left," he said, before brushing past Sierra, making deliberate contact with her, as he exited the room.

With the Governor out of the way and the door opened, El-Nay Darr excitedly surged forward. She turned to stick out her tongue at the Governor as they passed one another. Once inside the room she moved swiftly towards the bacta tank, placing her gloved hand upon it. Her head lowered with a frown, her lips curling downward, with a bit of tears welling up in the corner of each eye. "Thank you ... thank you, Sierra," she said, but did not yet turn around to look at her. "I-I suppose I'll never get used to seeing her like this," she said, before turning her back to the bacta tank to look at Sierra. Her body slowly lowered, so that her back was pressed against the tank as she took up a seated position on the floor. "Are you ... are you okay?" she asked, trying to be polite, as she remembered the condition she found Sierra in aboard the Demon Cat.

The man dug under her skin without touching her. Sierra's eyes became colder towards him. In her mind, a life was a life. It didn't matter what you were. She had never seen the division between species as necessary. It was her luck that Claudius felt the same. Papius tried to strike a second time by accusing her husband of only hanging around females. This comment rolled off of her. After all they had been through, she couldn't see him straying from her. Frankly, it'd be stupid. She laughed. "I'll be seeing you, Governor." With that, he was gone. The smile disappeared from her face. She turned around in time to see El-Nay's immature comeback. It made her laugh softly.

"I'm sorry he gave you any problems. That man has a large stick up his ass. I hear it can't even be removed surgically. Tragic, really." She stepped back from the bacta tank. Sierra perched herself in a chair. "I wish she hadn't been injured so badly. That woman...she was insane." Luna Ta'em. She prayed that they would never cross paths again. "I'm okay," she offered El-Nay a little smile. "Doctor Tohan came to the castle yesterday to examine me. My baby is fine too. I have you and Kerrie to thank for that...Marcus too. I couldn't have made it out of that situation alive without all of your help. Thank you." There was sincerity in her voice. She didn't want to die. Luna and her husband had come very close to ending her life. "Please send Claudius and my regards when Kerrie wakes up. Given the fact that Papius is lingering near, I can't stay long... However, he mentioned that you all are working on a project together... Luna and Petrus will soon slip through my fingers." To this, Sierra looked disappointed. "Why does the Empire want them? Was my kidnapping something they were assigned to, or was it of their own accord?"

El-Nay raised her wrist that contained the gauntlet with a wrist rocket, while looking towards Sierra. "You want me to stick something else up his ass? Just say the word!" she said with a smirk and a giggle, but she was deadly serious. "She did the same to me a while back," she grumbled, looking down at the ground and muttering to herself about Luna. "I'm glad you're okay," she said, before rising from her feet and moving closer towards Sierra. She looked around nervously at the cameras, before leaning in closer towards the woman. "That wasn't Marcus. That was the Nerf Herder. The Nerf Herder is an Imperial fugitive," she said, nervously, as she hoped that she would understand her meaning. "You ... you haven't told your husband have you?" she asked, almost squirming underneath her armor at the prospect of that fallout. "Oh," she said, silently, when the topic switched to their Imperial duties. "There are things that the Empire needs done that Stormtroopers cannot do, and that is where we come in. Your kidnapping was not part of any assignment. That is why me and Kerrie hunted them down," she explained, not having the intellect to be deceptive. She had already said too much.

The young Duchess laughed. "Do I want you to? Goodness yes! Sadly, that would get us in a lot of trouble. I'll figure out a way to get him out of my hair one of these days.." Grumble, grumble. She winced upon hearing that El-Nay had suffered the same fate. "Are *you* okay?" She looked over her armor as if mentally assessing if it could take a Luna beatdown. She watched El-Nay near her. The implications of her words were impossible to miss. Sierra knowingly nodded her head. "I figured it was something like that." She commented quietly. "I briefly brought it up. It's understood that we won't be making a big deal about it. I did want to give him the gift of some alone time with Luna and Petrus..." She had gone through the trouble of having them taken to a remote holding cell location to allow Marcus to do *whatever* he wanted to do. "Hopefully they won't be transferred back before he gets the chance."

She listened to El-Nay fill her in on the Empire's little project. She nodded her head once more. The woman had given her plenty of information. She was glad that the Empire wasn't behind her kidnapping. The paranoia that Arden would strike never seemed to leave her mind. "That makes sense. Thank you for telling me what you have. Trust me, our mutual friend is safe. All I'd really like to do is thank him." She began to stand. "Is there anything I can do for you and Kerrie? Anything at all."

"You're an ISB Commander and a Duchess ... if *you're* worried about getting in trouble then there's no hope for the rest of us," El-Nay replied with a dejected frown, scuffing her boot against the floor. "I'm fine. Mandalorian iron is the strongest substance in the galaxy," she boasted, before bringing her hand up to her chest and pounding it repeatedly. "I'm sure he'd like that. Personally I believe you guys will never be rid of them until they're disposed of ... permanently," she said, with a whine, but also with a desire to do the job herself. "You've done so much already, milady," she said with a polite, genuine voice, before attempting to, but failing, to curtsey for her. "She'll be out of the tank soon, and then we'll be on our way back to Esseles," she said, before looking around the room, as if suddenly nervous. A cold shiver ran down her spine, before she once again leaned towards Sierra. "There's a lot of bad things going on back there. You'd be wise to stay away," she said in a hushed, whisper, before backing away from her, performing for the cameras both seen and unseen.

Sierra smiled. She liked the Mandalorian. She seemed more dependable than those who were employed to protect her and Claudius. Not to mention the fact that El-Nay didn't want to kill either one of them. She agreed with El-Nay. Until Luna and Petrus were dead, they would pester the family. The list of people who wanted to harm the family was growing. "I'll have to deliver his gift then. Maybe he can take them off of my plate ... permanently." El-Nay's failed attempt at a curtsey made her smile grow. "Contact me if you have any more problems with Papius. Please do pass my thanks and appreciation along to Kerrie. I'm sorry that she ever had to be demoted." It was the last tid bit of information that El-Nay told her that captured her attention. Esseles was no longer safe? Interest sparked in her eyes. They couldn't continue this conversation. There were too many unwanted eyes and ears. "Thank you. I'll keep that in mind. Stay safe, my friend." Before Sierra left, she embraced the Mandalorian. She wished they didn't have to leave.

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