Deep within the bowels of the Imperial Palace on Coruscant a holo-emitter
flared to life, the image of Lord Tion slowly flickering into view. A
Commodore in the Imperial Navy, he had been dispatched to the Ringali
Shell to nullify the Rebellion's presence, but instead his heavy-handed
tactics had inflamed the situation. The planet Ralltiir, once a
glimmering jewel in the Galactic Core, had moved towards open revolt and
he had chosen to make an example of the world, brutally subjugating it
and instituting a blockade.
Sate Pestage, Grand Vizier of the Galactic Empire, stood ominously in
front of the hologram, his weathered body shrouded in a maroon robe. His
hooked nose extended from beneath the robe's hood as he flashed a
sinister glare towards Lord Tion's hologram. "What news do you bring
from the Ringali Shell?" he asked, his ominous voice bellowing at the
Lord Tion paused, knowing that if he did not choose his next words
very carefully it might result in his execution. "The planetary
governors have informed me that dissent is growing throughout the
region," he slowly began to explain. "The tactics we have been using
thus far seem to have only further agitated the population. Members of
the local governments are refusing to cooperate unless their requests
for information about the citizens we have rounded up are answered.
Rebel propaganda has also been increasingly effe..."
"Enough!" Pestage shouted at the hologram of Lord Tion, his gnarled
face emerging from the hood as he took a step closer to the flickering
image. "It was your plan to use Ralltiir as an example to quiet the
entire region. Your methods have failed and your bumbling and
incompetence threaten to cost us some of our most important worlds," he
continued, berating Tion before finally turning his back to him. Pestage
smiled, out of view, enjoying the theatrics.
"Perhaps if we institute a sector-wide blockade," Tion quickly
suggested. "It would trap the Rebels on the planet's surface, prevent
them from getting reinforced, and suppress the news from spreading to
other worlds," he added, believing the idea tactically sound.
Pestage spun around almost immediately, a look of disgust and
irritation oozing from every pore of his face. "...and by doing so you
would be handing every citizen of those planets to the Rebellion!" he
bellowed, putting the officer in his place. "You have had your chance,
Lord Tion," he said insultingly as he turned his back once more. "You
will focus on the mess you made on Ralltiir. That will be your
punishment. I will find someone else to clean up the rest of the mess
you have made for us," he bellowed, his hand snapping out from beneath
the robe as he motioned for the transmission to be terminated.
Before Tion could respond the transmission was cut and the flickering
image faded into oblivion.
From the darkness the echoing sound of slow clapping could be heard.
It bellowed throughout the chamber, growing increasingly louder as it
bounced off the walls, until it threatened to flood the entire room.
Footsteps were then heard as the figure slowly emerged from the shadows.
"Well done, Vizier," the voice of Ysanne Isard stated as she emerged
from the shadows. "Worthy of a performance at the Galaxies Opera House
indeed," she continued, a cunning grin curling onto her face.
"Oh quiet down," Pestage pleaded as he looked towards her. She was
much more dangerous than her father. He feared what might happen should
she ever succeed him. "You'll give me quite the headache and as you have
no doubt overheard I already enough to deal with," his gnarly voice
explained to her, her mere presence causing the most unpleasant of
feelings inside his stomach.
"Who will you send?" Isard inquired, the low lights in the room
catching the single streak of white hair in otherwise raven colored
locks. It was a trait shared by most members of the Isard family ... at
least the legitimate ones. She never missed an opportunity to play one
of her cards when it came to the game of galactic strategy.
"Admiral Screed perhaps," Pestage responded, throwing out a name. "He
is well respected with the old guard and has been petitioning the
Emperor for a more direct role in confronting the Rebellion," he
explained, by choice, knowing he had no obligation to explain his
thoughts to her.
"Screed?" Isard questioned, her voice sounding of disbelief as she
shook her head. "That old man has not seen a real battle since the Clone
Wars and cannot even handle droids," she said as she walked around the
Vizier so that she could face him.
"Admiral Harrsk or Senn then," Pestage thought aloud as he recalled
some of the reports he had read earlier in the day. "They are younger
men. With more stamina and creativity to put towards the task," he
added, tilting his head slightly as he waited her response. Clearly she
had a motive, but he would play the game.
Isard snickered, her head shaking from side-to-side. "Surely you
jest," she asked of him, raising her head slightly to continue to look
him in the eye. It was not easy to look such a wretched creature in the
eye, but she knew that if she looked away he would win this joust and
she could not allow that.
"Blast!" Pestage cursed as he finally turned to her, his larger frame
moving towards her until his face hovered directly over hers. "Who do
you suggest then?" he asked, knowing full well with the way that mind of
hers worked she already had a candidate in mind.
"Hmm? Me? I haven't given it much thought," Isard replied, offering
up a sweet smile as she tilted her head up to look at him. She had him.
"But ... if you insist..." she continued, offering fake resistance, "...I
would dispatch Admiral Rodney to the region."
The vein in Pestage's head began to pulsate and his face began to
shake as he glared angrily at her. "Tell me..." he snarled down towards
her, "...that is your idea of a joke, my dear."
"A joke?" Isard replied to him, acting as if she were bewildered by
his sense of anger. She was completely unfazed by his rage, she had
seen it too many times before and knew that she was, at least for the
moment, untouchable. She finally broke eye contact, turning her back to
him and folding her arms across her chest. "You asked me and I gave you
my opinion," she said in a meek voice, lowering her head sadly, but
there was an unseen smile growing upon her face.
"Forgive me for assuming it was a joke," Pestage continued, the
sarcasm clearly evident in his voice. "...but as it was only three months
ago that you came to me with the accusation that Admiral Rodney passed
information to the Rebellion. It was based on your report that we
transferred him to Malastare and turned the Ringali Shell over to Lord
Tion, which is created this mess in the first place!" Pestage shook his
head violently, his blood pressure raising exponentially as he continued
his diatribe. "No...no...it is not comedy," he said to her, changing his
opinion, "it is lunacy!"
"Are you quite finished?" Isard said as she spun back around to face
him once more, choosing to leave the smile upon her face. "I do not want
to interrupt such an enchanting outburst," she added with a small laugh.
"Obviously my sources were misinformed," she confessed in a mocked
disappointed voice. "As it was only three weeks ago that the Rebellion
attempted to assassinate not just Admiral Rodney, but also his wife, one
can easily deduce that he is in fact the most loyal of the Emperor's
servants," she elaborated, walking slowly away from the Grand Vizier. "I
don't recall there ever being an assassination attempt on you..." she
added, unable to pass up the chance to verbally jab him.
"Rebel assassination attempt?" Pestage repeated, the worlds slowly
spilling from his decrepit mouth. "Oh... Oh you are clever, my dear," he
said as he pieced the puzzle together in his mind. He had read the
official report on the bombing and always harbored doubts that the
Rebellion was behind it, but now he knew and he was impressed. "Perhaps
too clever..." he added as he placed a wrinkled hand upon her young
Isard wanted to cringe as the Vizier touched her, but she held her
ground and stood firm. "I take after my father..." she said with a knowing
grin that she did not let him see. "...then you'll send him?" she asked,
turning her head to look over her shoulder at him, like a child eagerly
asking a parent for a present.
"I do not know what your game is, Ysanne," Pestage continued, a
creepy laugh beginning to emanate from deep within his husk. "...but I am
curious to see how it will play out. I will send him," he informed her,
his voice becoming more cheerful as he considered his next words. "If
you fail you will answer to your father, not to me," he said as his hand
gently squeezed her shoulder.
"Excellent," Isard replied as she moved forward, slipping from his
grasp and moving back towards the shadows. Her soft laugh began to echo
through the chamber as she moved away, growing increasingly louder as
the cacophony of sound bounced against the walls, doing her best to give
the Vizier that headache he had so much wanted to avoid.
"I'm sorry our vacation was cut short, my
love," Claudius said to Htaere as they sat in the back of the Kwai on
their way back to Malastare. He had found the time he had spent in the
Hapan Cluster quite relaxing. Everything was clean and pure and the
people were kind and genuine. Although he did not reveal this
information to her, he had actually considered retirement. But, part of
him missed being aboard the Warspite ... he felt disconnected and
worried constantly about the state of his command. The transmission he
received from Captain Anson seemed quite urgent and before he knew it,
he was back on the shuttle and their second honeymoon had ended.
It was just then that the shuttle
lurched, bringing the Kwai out of hyperspace in Malastare. In the
cockpit, Lieutenant Trainor's eyes went wide as she saw the entire
battle squadron lined up in formation. Normally they were spread
throughout the sector on patrol, convoy escorts, or training exercise.
There were even additional ships in the formation she did not recognize.
"Getting mighty crowded out there, Admiral," she commented in her usual,
if not overly, upbeat tone. Using her normal barnstorming piloting
technique the shuttle swayed from side-to-side at breakneck speed as it
maneuvered through the squadron heading towards the Warspite's
Htaere cast a reassuring smile to Claudius. "No reason to be
apologetic. It was a lovely trip and has offered us the rejuvenation we
desperately needed" she piped, satisfied with the time they had been
afforded. With just the two of them, the privacy and relaxation had more
then made up for the honeymoon lost at the expense of the crash.
Claudius turned to look out of the viewport at the large assembly of
ships and grew slightly concerned, taking Htaere's hand into his own and
squeezing it reassuringly. "I am sure it is just an inspection, my
dear," he added, not being honest with her and it showed in his voice.
As the shuttle approached the ship the journey caused him to rock back
and forth, pushing into Htaere repeatedly. It was almost fun ... almost.
Lieutenant Trainor maneuvered the shuttle beneath the Warspite,
and gently cut in the maneuvering thrusters to ascend into the belly of
the massive Star Destroyer. "We're home," she said cheerfully as she
switched to the repulsorlift engines to maneuver the ship towards its
landing platform. She could make out a large group of individuals who
were waiting for the shuttle to land. "Looks like they prepared a
welcome party," she added as she descended the landing claws, touching
the ship down with a loud *clank* of metal on metal. The ship rocked for
a moment before she descended the landing ramp so that Claudius and
Htaere could depart.
Htaere referenced his comment curiously. "Oh...perhaps I should have
chosen a more appropriate garment for the occasion" she commented in
concern, regarding the high end gown and jewelry and tiara she presently
wore, the outfit's net worth already double in value what most people on
the Warspite took home in a year's worth of pay. "I hope not to
detract from the inspection with my casualty" she added, the makings of
frown arching the corners of her lips down slightly.
"Here. Take my hand," Claudius said as he extended it to her, rising
from his seat in the passenger compartment of the shuttle. Guiding her
he would descend the ramp of the shuttle. To his surprise he would see
Major Kiley, Major Zevrin, Major Zolan, Captain Anson, most of the
Warspite's senior officers, and other key personnel in the squadron
with some unknown faces mixed in. Internally, Claudius was very
confused, but externally he showed a look of contempt as to their
interrupting his vacation. "What is the meaning of this?" he asked in an
Htaere stood obediently next to Claudius her slender and baby soft
hand in his, sparkling grey eyes shifting over the array of ranking
officers with a pleasant expression that spoke volumes of her complete
obliviousness as to what was happening. The subtle smile on her lips
escalated when her gaze took in the familiar face of Kerrie Kiley, as if
they were all at a lovely picnic under the boughs of some centuries-old
The grimly serious looks on each of those in attendance suddenly
transformed into smiles and grins. The assembled officer corps began
clapping loudly, some cheering, while others whistled and threw their
covers into the air. Claudius stood there, dumbfounded, a look of
genuine surprise and bewilderment coming upon his aged face. He took a
step forward, his hand momentarily releasing it's grip on Htaere. "What
is the meaning of this?" he repeated, his eyes darting throughout those
gathered in the crowd.
Inwardly, Htaere's reaction was the same, uncertainty. Yet the smile
never slipped as she maintained a flawless sense of decorum and
collection. Dancing granite pools flickered from the jubilation towards
Claudius, dependent wholly on him to figure out what was transpiring.
Nervously those in the crowd remained silently, none of whom was sure
should be the one to inform the Admiral of the news. Finally, Captain
Anson stepped forward and gave a push to Major Kiley, sending her
awkwardly fumbling towards the Admiral.
Major Kiley was caught off guard when Captain Anson snuck up on her,
sending her out of the crowd and directly in front of the Admiral. The
cheers and claps subsided and Kerrie was alone, standing between the mob
and her master. She smiled up at him nervously and fumbled over her
uniform to make herself presentable. "We received a transmission from
high command, Milord," she said in a very proud tone, "By order of the
Emperor himself the 219th Battle Squadron is to redeploy immediately to
the Ringali Shell to neutralize the Rebel insurgency." Her head rose
proudly as her customary icy exterior faded away. "They've given you
your command back, sir," she said, sounding happier than she had ever
been. The assembled officers once again began to clap as Kerrie handed
him the datapad with the orders.
Taken aback, Claudius stumbled towards Htaere, an unwitting smile
plastered upon his face. He showed the datapad towards Htaere, as if it
were a child he were proud of. "We are going home," he said to her
proudly, referring of course to their estate on Esseles where they had
spent so much of their courtship. Reading the report he learned that the
situation had deteriorated greatly in his absence and that Lord Tion had
been forced to subjugate and blockade Ralltiir. The influential leaders
of Brentaal, Chandrila, and Esseles had called for a more lenient hand
and had asked for Lord Rodney's return, which the Emperor had granted.
Htaere smiled enthusiastically "That is wonderful Claudius.
Congratulations are in order indeed." Her gaze moved to Kerrie briefly,
fully expecting the Major to accompany them as well, as if that were of
course part of the package. Simultaneously, her ignorance to the
business of war left her toiling mentally with the meaning of this, lest
it mean they pitched headlong once more into an ongoing battle.
A moment later, Randi Trainor descended the ramp carrying the
Claudius and Htaere's matched luggage. A look of surprised filled the
young woman's eyes as she spotted the crowd of onlookers. "What I miss?"
she asked, sparing all military protocol as she placed down the bags and
looked to the Admiral.
"That is not how you address your commanding officer, Lieutenant,"
the stern voice of Commander Augustus Hood stated in a
commanding tone. The executive officer of the ship was Captain Anson's
stern disciplinarian, a stark contrast from the Corellian commanding
Randi nodded politely to Commander Hood and then nodded respectfully
to the Admiral. Once she was out of view she stuck out her tongue
mockingly and rolled her eyes.
"Thank you," Claudius said proudly as he walked through the crowd,
shaking each of their hands. "Thank you all," he continued, feeling
years younger and reinvigorated. The time in exile spent defending
Malastare against floating space debris had made him forget the stress
and chaos that waited for him back in the Ringali Shell. "Forgive me,"
he said as he extended his arms in a kind jesture. "But me and my wife
have just had a long journey and a rough one at that," he added, his
eyes glaring towards Lieutenant Trainor, "and we must get some rest
before we arrive at Brentaal." His hand reached out towards Htaere once
again, "Come, my love." As he walked towards the turbolift, he was quick
to snap to Kerrie, returning to old form. "Major Kiley," he bellowed,
Htaere remained quiet and low on the radar while Claudius reveled in
such a moment of forgotten glory and praise. She nodded politely as she
moved through the gathering, still sporting a charming and innocent
smile, reaching for Claudius' extended hand and rejoining him at his
side. She'd been able to enjoy his company exclusively on their trip,
and anticipated the time that would be pulling him now back to the
orchestration of his previous duties.
Once the turbolift door closed, Claudius turned to Htaere, his face
absolutely glowing. He leaned forward and without warning he pressed a
tender, long, passionate kiss that seemed to last the entire duration of
their ride up the turbolift. The kiss remained even after the turbolift
door opened, much to the dismay of Jelena, Drusilla, Ewwiekewwikkie, and
Pilaq Tohan who were waiting for a more private congratulations in the
Admiral's quarters, but the Admiral did not notice.
Upon realizing their presence had gone undetected, Doctor Tohan
stepped forward, his massive Ithorian head towering over the children.
"Claudius..." he stated plainly, the voice bellowing out of his
stereophonic mouth. He was one of the few aboard the ship who referred
to the Admiral by his first name, rather than by rank or a noble title.
The brazen display surprised her initially, and Htaere's eyes widened
before she succumbed to the delicacy of the intimate moment. It wasn't
until she heard Claudius' physician call his name that she realized that
others had become privy to their racy exchange in the lift. Her eyes
popped open in what flashed as momentary embarrassment, flashing over to
the crowd of onlookers. She offered a sheepish grin to them and
murmuring an apology before bashfully averting her eyes a moment before
glancing back to Claudius, waiting to take his lead.
"Welcome home, father, Htaere..." Jelena said as she walked forward,
keeping her head lowered in respect. She was upset at the news they
would be returning to the Ringali Shell. It was there that she betrayed
her father, the guilt of which she still carried to this day. She forced
a smile onto her face, or at least tried to, as she approached. She
leaned forward first to place a polite kiss on Htaere's cheek, and then
"What did you bring me?" young Drusilla demanded, stomping her feet,
her face immediately growing red at the fact she had not yet received a
present. Clearly, missing her father was secondary to the concern of
receiving a gift.
Ewwiekewwieikkie rushed over towards Htaere and the teenage,
fur-covered girl gave her a warm hug that threatened to cut off her
circulation. "I missed you," she cooed cheerfully, as only her
semi-primitive Squib brain could process.
As always, the warmest greeting came from Claudius' adopted daughter,
the only one to whom Htaere did not feel uneasy accepting kindness from
nor reciprocating it. "Thank you, Ewwie. And I you" she said, offering a
gentle hug of her own in response. She nodded politely to Jelena,
keeping up with the level of detachment and stoicism that never budged.
Drusilla was too busy acquiring material objects to notice much else.
The turbolift doors opened a flustered Kerrie soon emerged, carrying
all of the family's matched luggage. Her mimicked human cheeks were
flushed red and her face was covered in a thin layer of sweat that
matted down her hair. Her uniform, once neat and presentable, was
bunched up and wrinkled from the strain of attempting to carry all of
the luggage in one trip. "Where..." she stumbled between gasps, "Where
would you like these, Milady."
Htaere turned to blink curiously at the Major, letting Claudius dance
away into the open armed reception of his loved ones. "Oh! Let me help
you" she exclaimed, taking the opportunity to shrink away from the
less-then-fluid tolerance of Claudius' family. She hurried towards
Kerrie tugging a few of the large suitcases away from her to ameliorate
the burden. "The quarters should be fine I would assume" she remarked,
struggling under the weight of such physical labor before easing towards
the door of the anteroom.
Ewwiekewwieikkie immediately slinked off Htaere's body and soon moved
towards Claudius, clinging to him like a parasite that prevented him
from freely moving.
Kerrie let out a relieved sigh as some of the bags were removed, but
then realized her place and gave a concerned look to Htaere. "It is my
duty to carry your bags, Milady," she nervously explained as she carried
the remaining luggage towards their personal quarters, "You should not
have to trouble yourself with such labors." Letting out a deep breath
she placed the bags down in the floor of their bedroom, placing a hand
upon her chest as she hunched over, sweating pouring from her brow as
she tried to regain her composure.
"Oh..." Claudius said plainly as he looked down towards
Ewwiekewwieikkie, "I missed you too." He attempted, in vein, to walk
towards his quarters, each step being labored as he weighed down by his
adopted daughter. "Help," he cried to Doctor Tohan as his movement was
all but stopped.
"I suppose it is silly that we have so many items to bring along for
a brief respite" she remarked, drawing herself back up as she placed the
rest of it down in the room. She flashed Kerrie the makings of a smile
that read the gratitude of the escape. "It was a welcomed
preoccupation." She looked about the luxurious interior of the chambers.
"It is good to be home" she said with finality, realizing in the back of
her mind that the cold desolation of space made the insides of the
warship appealing, a complete turn around from her previous discomfort
with it when compared to the lush environments of the Hapes cluster.
"Ewwiekewwieikkie, let me find you a treat," Doctor Tohan bellowed in
his stereophonic voice, as he placed his large Ithorian hand upon the
young girl's shoulder. With that, he led her away from her adopted
father who had already had about as much as he could handle from her
"Oh boy!" Ewwiekewwieikkie chirped as she released her death grip on
Claudius' legs and moved towards the kitchen with Doctor Tohan.
"Thank you," Claudius mouthed to the good doctor as she began to move
towards the bedroom, his hands already moving to strip himself of his
uniform tunic and undress himself. He was tired from the long shuttle
trip and wanted very much to get to bed before the meetings he was sure
to have tomorrow.
"I will contact Lieutenant Ames about finding volunteers to assist in
moving your belongings back to the estate on Esseles when we arrive,
Milady," Kerrie explained to Htaere after taking several deep breaths.
"But knowing the Lieutenant's desire to impress the Admiral I expect
she'll volunteer to move the entire lot herself," she continued, never
missing an opportunity to take a shot at one of her least favorite crew
members on the ship. She hushed down immediately upon the Admiral's
entry into the room. She knew her place.
"No need to trouble yourselves unnecessarily. There is no rush on my
behalf" Htaere replied. She motioned to the microgalley in their suite.
"Would you care for any refreshments?" she asked Kerrie, eyebrows
lifting in anticipation should she need to procure beverages.
"No thank you, Milady," Kerrie replied politely as she stepped to the
side. She fumbled upon her uniform, readjusting it into presentable
fashion with the Admiral present. "Will you be bringing your Guarlara to
the planet's surface?" she asked, realizing that the beast was occupying
an entire cargo bay at the moment that Captain Anson would most
assuredly want returned ... particularly if they were entering a combat
Claudius watched as Kerrie adjusted her uniform, treating it with all
the care and respect that it commanded, but at this time he was tossing
his tunic upon a chair and showing no modesty as his hands moved to his
uniform trousers, casting them aside on a chair as well. "Forgive me,
ladies," he said with a smile as he stood before them in nothing but his
athletic wear, "but you will survive."
"Absolutely. I have missed him very much and look forward to being
able to ride planet-side" she beamed, brightening considerably at the
prospect. Her youthful face shifted to Claudius and for a fraction of a
moment seemed to slip, completely awestruck at the lack of protocol. Her
eyes wide and blinking, and mouth agape, she managed to recompose
herself and glance at Kerrie. With a smile she called to Claudius.
"Shall I draw you a bath or get you some tea?"
"Tea would be lovely," Claudius said to Htaere as he strode towards
her, leaning into her face and placing a gentle kiss upon her right
cheek. "If it isn't too much trouble," he added as he stood there a
moment, his hand lingering upon hers for a moment. Smiling, he withdrew
towards his desk to give a cursory glance over some of the reports that
had waited for him.
"Of course not" she chirped and whisked towards the galley. A handful
of moments passed and she returned carrying a delicate silver tray, a
matching tea kettle with it as well as three cups. She settled on one of
the velveteen couches in the parlor, unloading the contents of the tray
on the coffee table in front of it. "If you have changed your mind,
Major, I brought a third cup." She set Claudius' cup out before calling
off to him. "Tea, Claudius!"
"Thank you, my love," Claudius said sweetly as he looked up from his
datapad long enough to throw her a smile. Eventually he strode towards
the cable, reaching down to pour the contents of the kettle into his
cup. His eyes moved towards Kerrie as he walked with the cup. "I do not
see a follow up report from you on the attack," he added, taking an
audible slurp of his tea. "We were gone three weeks. Surely you would
have more than your initial findings prepared," he said to her, sternly
Kerrie swallowed and her eyes moved from Claudius to Htaere. "What I
have learned thus far really cannot be placed in a report, sir," she
explained nervously, hoping the news of the reassignment might have
caused him to forget about her report for the time being. Unfortunately
for her sake the Admiral was far too meticulous to forget anything.
Htaere poured a cup for Kerrie, doubting that she'd actually accept
it. Sipping on a cup of her own, she sat back on the couch and settled
in, complete with content but oblivious smile on her face. Gazing
curiously at Kerrie, she remained quiet while the mood switched over to
one of business dealings.
Claudius took his cup of tea and maneuvered over towards the
luxurious appointed sofa, bringing the cup of tea up to his mouth and
taking another sip. With his free hand he waved his hand quickly towards
Kerrie, dismissing her as if she was a pet.
Kerrie nodded, the smile leaving her mimicked Human visage. She
nodded politely to the Admiral and his wife. "Good evening, milord,
milady," she said politely before excusing her and exiting their
quarters, brushing past those still in attendance in the antechamber.
"Good evening" Htaere answered before looking to Claudius. "I have
not seen you this happy in a very long time" she observed quietly. A
thoughtful smile spanned across her mouth. "I am very happy for you as
Claudius let out a loud, content sigh once the Major had been
dismissed, enjoying it just being the two of them. Uncharacteristically,
he placed his tea down on the table and turned himself on the couch.
With some adjustment he shifted so that he was laying down, his legs and
feet raised up over the arm of the sofa and his head nestled in Htaere's
lap, using it as a makeshift pillow.
Setting her cup down as well, her fingers wove their way into his
hair, rubbing little circles in his scalp with the tactile pads of her
fingertips. "The bed is more comfortable my love" she mumbled quietly.
"Maybe for you," Claudius said, playfully, a soft laugh escaping his
lips as he looked up at her, absolutely beaming. His aged face looked up
at her, admiring her beautiful facial features as he shared a tender
moment with her. He stretched slightly, adjusting himself once more and
snuggling against her. He still felt a case of shuttlelag and only a
good night's rest with improve things.
Htaere's head nestled back against the cushions, the fingers of one
hand still partially curled into his hair, the other hand resting on his
chest as her eyelids likewise began to sink. Rest sounded like a
champion idea and with all that had transpired, it was welcomed
completely. A deep sigh escaped her as she settled into her own blissful
"Hta..." Claudius began as he noticed her dose off, but decided it
was best to stop himself and let her sleep. It had been long day, full
of events, and he needed rest as well. Rather than shift to his bed he
simply allowed his eyes to close, and slowly he drifted off to sleep,
his head nestled securely in her lap and he strangely found himself
dreaming of the woman who in fact was right beside him. His dream now a