Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:1:10) in the Essesia system: Esseles (The Void).
Tosha Previn, Lord Marcus Rodney, Lady Zara Rodney, and Major Min Traebor.

One level above where Marcus and Zara were being held in captivity there lay a formal dining room that looked to be something out of one of the Emperor's palaces. The long table had four settings and at the head of the table sat Major Min Traebor in her cream and black Imperial uniform. At the other end sat a young woman with wild red hair and foreign features, wearing a navy blue dress that accentuated her curvaceous, healthy form. There were two seating on either side of the table, one for Marcus, and one for Zara. Min had conceived this as a way of making Zara more comfortable and to give them a last meal together before sending Marcus on the mission. The table was filled with Alderaanian cuisine to make them feel more like home, including ample decanters filled with Marcus' favorite wine. There were no obvious sign of Imperial Stormtroopers or Black Sun droids, but it was sure they were only meters away. The far wall was much like the one in their suite, giving the image of being a window, but actual a mere holoprojection of a natural scene on Esseles.

Min was enjoying all this much too much. When she announced that Marcus and Zara were to join her for dinner, she wanted to reenact the part from the *Beauty and the Beast*, quipping something along the lines of *I'm not hungry*! Too bad for Zara, unlike Belle, she was pregnant and always hungry. Belle also hadn't been kept in some insanely guarded cage. There was no way to say no, however, Zara did threaten to stab Min with her silverware if the woman decided to get handsy again. The horrible woman had thought ahead on everything. Some of their noble clothing had been transported from their home. Min was ready for it all, wasn't she?

Still, Zara was angry. She knew that the private dinner was another way to torture her and Marcus. He was leaving soon, anyway. She wanted to spend every second with *him*, not with the person responsible for this. Dedicated hard work had led to Zara successfully hacking the Star Destroyer's main systems. She had the kind of knowledge that normally made her feel better before a job, however, it made her feel worse this time. Letting go of her husband, accepting the idea of him leaving alone, was very difficult. She was currently wiggling her way into a long, pretty crimson gown. She had already attempted to get into three dresses, each with a failure attribute to her growing belly. Now, as she found one that functioned unzipped, she sat on the edge of the bed. "Do we have to?" She grumbled, helplessly reaching behind her back in search of the small zipper. "Min just likes to play games." She probably enjoyed watching the thief grow more irritated as she dressed for the 'special' occasion.

Marcus changed into a royal blue tunic worthy of a member of the Alderaanian nobility, and expertly shaved his face and styled his hair. He hated the idea of going through so much of an effort on the account of Min Traebor and Tosha Previn, but he realized that it was necessary to play their games for as long as they were captive. "I hate to tell you this, Zara, but you look breathtaking," he said as he moved behind her to take hold of the zipper. He gripped it, and pulled up slightly, but given the added weight she had gained, it took some effort on his part to pull it up the length of her back. He tried his best not to grunt or make it clear that he had difficult, but when the deed was done, he stood before her and offered her a hand up. "Let's get this over with," he said, as he led her towards the wall where the door was hidden. They were being watched and as they neared it the door moved upwards, revealing Stormtroopers and a dark, narrow corridor that led only to a turbolift. When they entered the lift there were no visible controls and the doors sealed almost immediately behind them. The lift moved and it could have either gone up or down as it was very difficult to *feel* the movement ... they could have traveled meters or even kilometers. When the door eventually reopened they were at the dining room, which was one step down from them, in a well lit, equally lavish environ.

"*Damnit, Marcus*. You look good too." Zara admitted to her husband. And he did. Royal blue was his color. Freshly shaven and dashing as ever, he had the ability to briefly lift her thoughts away from the dinner ordeal and to what would happen when they were alone again. It wasn't just about sex either. Zara was going to lock her legs and arms around him, refusing to ever let go. It seemed like the best way to persuade him to take her with. She assumed he'd have a hard time getting the zipper up. The dress felt tighter once he had pulled it up. "Thanks. In a month or so, I'm going to feel the size of a star destroyer." She rose from the bed. She had already spent time working the kinks out of her long, silver hair. With all the clothing she wore, she felt naked not carrying a weapon. Despite feeling reluctant, Marcus got her moving again. She wrapped an arm around his as they left the room together. All sense of control was out of her hands. She had no idea where they were going, or what kind of hellish meal awaited them.

What the door revealed wasn't as dark as Zara thought it would be. There were familiar dishes and wines that Zara only wished she could drink (and wouldn't blame Marcus if he wanted to hit them hard). Was this their last meal? Their hosts were already there, seated at the ends of the table. Zara placed herself between Marcus and Tosha. Her blood boiled when Min was close to her, so it was probably best to avoid sitting beside her. She looked at Tosha, the woman who she did not know, and spoke, "Thanks for inviting us out of our cage, so nice to stretch my legs again."

"You're late," Min snarled, angrily, as she briefly looked up from her glass of Corellian whiskey. She was already intoxicated from the three glasses she had consumed before their arrival. She then clapped twice and Twi'lek slaves appeared, bringing food to the table in a series of courses that would be laid out before them. It was all very theatrical and done to give Marcus and Zara quite the show, as well as a display of power. "I hope you enjoy Alderaanian, my pretties, as it was quite difficult to obtain what with the planet destroyed and all," she mused, with a laugh, before finishing her third glass of the whiskey.

"Manners, Min," Tosha said, as she rose from her seat at the table and moved towards Zara. "These are our honored guests," she said to Min, but was looking at Zara with a warm smile. She reached to take her by the arm and lead her towards the seat on the side of the table that faced the viewscreen. She was gentle with her, as if she truly did care, but the evening was a night of carefully orchestrated events that was building to something. When they arrived at the table, she even pulled out the chair for her, with a kind of smile. "Do enjoy the meal, Milady. Ignore the Major ... she's drunk and uncivilized," she said, with the fakest of smiles, before circling back around the table to take her seat.

Min was a special kind lady. She was the kind of woman who could get under Zara's skin instantly. As soon as she heard the drunk woman's voice, she moved to an offensive position. She tensed up but didn't attack. She suspected this dinner to be an unpleasant affair. Min was a peach when she was drunk... except not. There was something fluid and artistic about how the Twi'lek slaves brought out their meal. It was all so perfectly timed. The sight of food didn't make Zara happy. She felt sick to her stomach. Talk of Alderaan made her feel worse. Marcus and Zara both had special connections to that planet, the planet which was now a thing of the past. It was callous and horrible for Min to laugh about it.

Tosha, the other woman, reprimanded her companion. She acted entirely different from the other woman. Tosha tried to pull off a soft exterior with warm smiles. She took Zara from her comfortable place beside her husband and directed her towards the table. Zara wasn't sure what was going on. "Um, thanks..." She said, seating herself in the appointed, pulled out chair. Her eyes flickered towards the viewscreen. The viewscreens had been the worst here. They provided an image of what wasn't *really* there. She was sure that this one was an illusion, exactly like the one in their room. Zara's guard did not fall. "I can tell. You should have seen her on the ride here. I'm surprised she didn't lick the remains of the alcohol from her flask." She sighed, glancing towards Marcus. She had a part to play, and so, she played it. She carefully distributed herself a little bit of food. Her knotting stomach wasn't going to allow much to rest in it. She'd rather save herself from throwing up later. She didn't eat at first, only stared back at Tosha. "How long do we have to entertain you two?" Straight to the point.

Marcus did not trust Tosha around his wife anymore than he did Min, but he would not allow himself to intercede between them and potentially cause an incident. He stood back, watching as Zara was left to her seat, and was prepared to move if anything happened, but mercifully it did not. He was understandably curious about why they were doing this and what they were playing at. They both had their reasons to hate them. He had done to them exactly what they claimed, but he felt it necessary to foil their plans and prevent his brother's assassination and aide his niece's escape. When Zara was settled, he moved towards the table, walking behind Tosha's seat slowly, until he reached his seat, which was directly across from Zara. He took a sip of the wine believing they would not have gone through all this trouble just to poison him now. He hated to admit it, but it was a particularly good vintage.

"Don't you like our company?" Min asked, as she had one of the Twi'lek's refill her crystal glass with another two fingers of the Corellian whiskey. She wasted no time in bringing it to her lips and sipping on it, as she looked across at Tosha, and then to Zara and Marcus. "Good. We're all here and can *finally* enjoy this meal," she complained, loudly, as she began to cut into the nerf steak. Her's was rare and as she cut into it, blood came out and stained her plate. There was a decided message in serving both Marcus and Zara a bloody cut of nerf that she hoped would not be missed. "Not too much time together and then it's back to your precious winter quarters, snow bunny," she said, crudely, with a wink, to alert her of just how long they had been watching and planning this.

This was worse than having her arms physically tied behind her back. It was psychologically tormenting how the two brought the Rodneys together for a meal which clearly served an alternative purpose. Everything was carefully planned, from the position of the food to where they were sitting, to what was served. Think Zara missed the nerf steak? Guess again. She wasn't going to eat any of it. Frankly, if starving herself was acceptable, then she'd go without. Zara was so tightly wound. Her eyes kept flickering over each of the women, to Marcus, then the viewscreen, repeat process. Finally, she settled on Min. "Not particularly." She admitted. *Great*. Min had brought her favorite whiskey to the table, the very same one that had made Zara vomit while they were playing getting to know each other games. Her nose twitched. Even the scent of the whiskey didn't compare to how sick it made her to see the abusive way she treated her steak. In Zara's very concerned mind, it was a potential future. She couldn't trust Min or Tosha. Who said that they would return them home after the mission? Who said it and *actually* meant it?

She tore her eyes away from the bleeding steak. It was disturbing to think that they'd been watched for longer than she thought. Was the gender of their baby truly safe? A soft blue painted nursery was suspicious to nosey people who wanted to destroy them. At this point, the pregnant woman felt like bursting at the seams. Suddenly, she was on her feet. Even worse, Zara was moving towards Min. She had been *pushed*. "We agreed to your idiotic terms, Min. We shouldn't have to entertain you too. What is this even!?" She grabbed the plate with the significant bleeding steak. Without a second thought, she threw it to the ground. The plate crashed into a million tiny pieces.

"A pity," Tosha said, as she sipped a glass of Alderaan ruge from the same bottle that Marcus had been served. "This was an antique setting manufactured on Alderaan a millennia ago. Kept together and intact and passed down through the generations," she said, her lower lip quivering in a show of disappointment and mock sorrow," she said, as she ignored her movement towards Min and focused on her own undercooked nerf steak. "It was worth a fortune as a complete set ... now it is worthless," she said, before gently blotting her lips with a cloth napkin, and daintily rising from the table. "But, now that you have shattered it into a million pieces like the planet on which it was made ... the set is now incomplete and it is now worthless," she said, as she moved around the table, behind Zara, to ensure she would not make a regrettable move towards Min. "You see, Lady Zara, one's value is always in a state of change and subject to outside forces beyond our control," she explained, as she knelt down to more closely examine the shattered the plate. "One day you're the jewel of the Core ... the next you're well ... this..." she said, as she picked up a fragment of the plate, and rose back to her feet to hold it in front of Zara's face, with the idea of distracting her from Min.

"You know Marc, I'm not entirely sure your child bride likes me," Min said, as she ignored Zara's movement, and looked across the table towards Marcus. Beneath the table she slid a booted foot forward, drunkenly, to play footsy with him. She was an evil bitch, and enjoyed toying with her victims before commencing her schemes. "Eat, Zara. I want your child to grow big and strong," she reasoned, with a firm nod of her head, but her eyes never left Marcus. "Perhaps they, too, will one day serve the Empire," she sneered, before looking up at Zara, whilst finishing the glass of whiskey.

Marcus was used to the theatrics that Min and Tosha used as part of their act, but he realized it was all very new to Zara and her hormones were likely to get them into trouble. "Enough of this," he shouted loudly, as he moved behind Min's chair and came to a rest in front of Zara. "It's ok," he said, as he raised his hands, and placed them on her side in an attempt to calm her down. "We're leaving," he declared, as he attempted to usher his wife past the two harpies were intent on harassing them, as well as holding them captive.

Zara's neck felt hot. Her eyes were burning. Bloodlust pumped through her veins like she had been born to kill. Min made her so mad. She was sick of being a toy, tired of the fucked up game. In her heightened state of pure angry, it was hard to Zara to tell whether Tosha was actually hurt or not. Did she care? *No*. She'd shatter every piece on the table as long as it made her feel a little better. Tosha had come to Min's aid. She stood less than a breath away, assuring that the young woman didn't stab Min with pieces of the plate. Her anger had turned to Tosha, who made a dramatic speech about the collection, acting hurt like a professional. The implications of her words were not good ones. Zara's value hinged on the baby in her belly. She was stretched thin while trying to protect both her husband and her son from the unknown. The fragment of the plate was meant to frighten her, to derail her from Min completely, but it didn't. "That logic doesn't just apply to me." Tosha and Min were getting drunk on power. Zara would see to it that revenge was taken upon them.

She was moving to step backwards when movement from underneath the table sent furious feelings dripping back down her spine. It was the last straw. Her hormones really were about to get them into trouble, as she spontaneous broke out in furious tears (yup, that's a thing). Marcus was there, stopping her from slitting Min's throat and getting herself killed in the process. Zara drifted towards her husband and clung to him. The situation was visibly wearing on her. She looked a lovely combination of sick and tired. Her legs were moving forward without her really controlling them. Her arms held his for support. "What's wrong with them...?" She whispered to Marcus. Of course, life was never going to be that easy. The doors were controlled by Min and Tosha, as were the troopers who kept vigil over the boisterous dinner.

"What are you afraid of, Nerf Herder?" Min asked, as he watched him shield his wife from her, and then attempt to scurry off. "I never thought you a coward, but all you do is run lately," she teased, as she turned her attention towards the large viewscreen that dominated the wall. "You've changed him, Zara. Tamed up. The fire is gone. You've made him weak," she said, drunkenly, as she rose from her seat and moved closer to the screen. "If he dies on this mission it will be because of how you've affected him. Know that," she said, as she turned towards Zara, a cruel, cunning smile plastered upon her rosy face.

Marcus moved to position himself between Min and Zara, knowing that they were headed towards a confrontation. "Ignore her," he said to Zara, as he moved his arms around her, holding her close. He moved his lips down to place a kiss upon her forehead, as he turned to position his body so that she could not see Min or the screen. "Let's just go," he again pleased, as he attempted to usher her back towards the nearby turbolift. Under the surface he was furious, brooding, and seething with anger. He wanted to deal with her in a brutal, painful way, but not kilometers below the surface of an Imperial planet in a labyrinth filled with Stormtroopers.

Min waited and waited and then waited some more, before her hand moved to a control panel on the side of the monitor. In a moment the image from the medcenter on Delaya was flashed on the screen. Her agents had managed to plant a small camera in the Duke's medical suite, but the reception was not the best. She stepped aside so that they could get a full view of the unconscious man and his barely there vital signs flickering on the monitors. "Isn't it enough that you ran from this?" she asked, as she folded her arms in front of her chest, leaned her back against the wall, and arched her eyebrows skyward as she waited for their response.

The cruel fight that took place in the dining room required no weapons. Min won it with her voice. She dug her sharp words deep into Zara. Her rage had become a tornado, ready to destroy everything. The only problem was that her hormones consumed her more. She felt sad. She didn't think that she had made Marcus weak. Yes, she *did* cause him to get hurt on occasion. It wasn't something she was proud of. She still saw him as the strong man he had been when they met. Her tears were coming harder. It was like she couldn't control them anymore. Powerless, horrible feelings sunk into her. She didn't want him to die. It was her greatest fear, especially on this mission. Irrational voices in her head told her to attack Min. She wanted to, but at what cost? Losing the baby would kill both of them in its own way. She retreated right back to the most familiar grounds on his planet; Marcus.

Shaky arms wrapped around him. She pressed her face into his chest so Min couldn't derive joy off of upsetting her. She wanted to go. She wanted to gather Marcus up and find a new place to hide. Min's ace wasn't in the hole just yet. It didn't happen until she revealed the image of Marcus' sickly father. Zara couldn't see it at first. Her indication that something new and horrible was happening was the way her husband's heart raced suddenly. She dared to peer out from between his armed. She dared to look at the screen with blurry, teary eyes. What she saw brought on a second wave of emotions; guilt, sadness, and a complex confusion. She hadn't stopped feeling guilty about taking her husband away from his family...because what did she know? Zara had come from nothing. Seeing the Duke in such poor health again was painful. Why had she made Marcus leave? Her logic and reasoning were gone. Her hands were filled with miserable feelings. How could he love her? According to Min, she had destroyed him.

It was too much. Her stomach felt tight and horrible. Her head hurt like she had fallen and bashed it into the hard floor. Though she was clinging to Marcus, she felt like she was drifting further and further away. As the wave of emotions finally pulled her under, Zara's exhausted body fell limp in his arms. She'd passed out under the immense stress and emotions.

Marcus caught his wife as she went limp in his arms, not allowing her to fall. He hoisted her over his shoulder like a firefighter, and then turned his body to face them. "When this is over, Min, and they are safe, you and I have unfinished business," he vowed to her, his brown eyes glaring across the room with deadly intention. He then turned, moving back towards the turbolift where he had again descend towards their level, where he would attend his wife in gentlemanly fashion. His mind was a maelstrom of contemplative thoughts about what Min had said regarding his diminishing skills. Had married life made him soft? He hated Min, but that did not mean she was wrong. His father looked even worse than when they had left Leiliani, but he did not think such a thing was possible.

"They're very dramatic people, don't you think?" Min said to Tosha, as she turned the viewscreen over towards that night's shockball match. She held out her glass, clearing her throat, which caused the Twi'lek to move forward and refill it with another round of Corellian whiskey. She enjoyed pushing buttons, and she was quite proud of herself for how she had turned the feisty, defiant Zara into a blubbering mess of emotions.

"You're playing with fire, Min," Tosha said, as she moved back towards her glass of Alderaan ruge. "He may kill you if you keep this up, you know," she said, as she pressed the rim of her glass to her lips and breathed in the aroma of the wine. "So that is what planetary destruction smells like," she joked, before taking a sip of the beverage. "Still. He is not the man we hired to kill Claudius Rodney last year. He *has* changed," she said, sounding disappointed as she checked her chronometer to verify the hour. "He may just end up failing this mission and bringing the Inquisitor's rage down upon you even more severely," she said, before taking a sip from the glass again, finishing it. "And there will be nothing that I or the Black Sun will be able to do to help you. You will be on your own," she said, placing the glass back upon the table, and moving so quickly that the lower half of her dress flourished dramatically. With that she left the room to return to the surface and more pressing engagements.

Alone, Min Traebor turned again to the viewscreen, where she activated the camera inside Marcus and Zara's suite. He watched as he carefully lay her on the bed and undressed her, attending to her like she was most delicate being in the known galaxy. But when he was done she watched him move to the bar and help himself to the wine that she had placed there for him. She smiled with the satisfaction that she had gotten to them both. She moved towards the table and picked up the knife she was sure that Zara would have liked to use on her. She stabbed it with all of her force on the nerf steak, causing blood to splatter up on her cream tunic. "Soon," she said to herself, before departing the scene herself, but not before topping off her drink.

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