was late...or the morning was early, whichever
works. Sierra Rodney was having the longest night of
her nearly two-decades alive. She figured it best to
meet with Marcus and his wife face-to-face, and so,
she made the rash decision to appear unannounced at
their chalet. In hindsight, this was a *terrible*
decision. The last time she had seen Marcus, he was
bloody and had just shed a light on the cruel truth.
Now she was at his door, clutching her coat close to
her chest. She didn't know how they survived. The
cold shot down the collar of her coat and threatened
to freeze her to death. Regardless, her fist pounded
on the door in a panicked fashion. She was driven to
complete the trade off as quickly as possible. The
thought of Claudius sitting on this for a lengthy
amount of time was unpleasant. They *needed* to know
was finding it hard to make herself comfortable
tonight. The twins were active. She wasn't sure if
they wanted to comfort their father, or burst their
mother's right lung. After tossing and turning for
far too long, she rose from bed and headed
downstairs for a late night snack. She figured it
would give her husband a chance at some rest. He'd
had it hard. Since Claudius had departed, the
emotions of the house fell down by several notches.
She was eating a piece of string cheese when a
ruckus came from the door. Zara jumped. When you
lived in the middle of the tundra with a gigantic
octopus as protection, you *really* didn't get
visitors. It was great for Zarcus, because all the
Holonet reporters had no way of attacking them at
home. She didn't answer the door by herself.
Instead, she rushed upstairs to wake her husband.
All those efforts to keep him asleep were spoiled
when she shook him awake. "Marcus?! Marcus! Wake up!
There's someone at the door!"
Rodney opened his eyes at his wife's prodding the
first sensation he felt was a throbbing pain in his
jaw. The blow struck by his own brother was painful,
but the emotional damage that had been done was far
worse. "The Empire?" he asked her, as he rose
swiftly, before swinging his legs off the bed and
reaching for his blaster rifle that was never out of
reach. Wearing just his boxer shorts he moved
swiftly from the bedroom in a low profile movement,
weapon at the ready, preparing for any eventuality.
He made his way down the stairs, keeping Zara behind
him, before performing a combat roll that brought
him near the window. As he peered out the window it
was not the Empire coming for them, nor more
mercenaries attempting to profit off them ... it was
his sister-in-law. "It is Sierra!" he shouted
towards Zara, before moving towards the door. He
opened it slowly, so that he could see her, but not
wide enough for her to stride through. "What do you
want?" he asked cautiously, although he made a point
to lower his weapon away from her. Perhaps his
brother wanted round two.
Maybe it was
El-Nay returning to curse them out for being so
emotionless towards her. Zara hadn't even bothered
to check on her once she was released from the
med-center. Between the two of them, their enemies
were vast. Anyone could have been behind the door,
which is exactly why Zara went for reinforcements.
"I don't know..." She said, her face sinking. It
could have been Luna and her abusive husband too.
The pregnant woman felt much safer behind her
husband. Together, they descended to the ground
floor where Marcus confirmed that it wasn't any of
Zara's worst nightmares. "Sierra?" That was a person
she hadn't expected to see for some time. "Leave her
outside to freeze!" She whispered, grasping his arm
to try to stop him from answering.
Her lips were
quivering. Sierra brushed the ice gathering on her
face away. To her surprise, the door opened. She saw
her husband's brother, clad it only boxers. His wife
was nowhere to be seen, but she did notice his
weapon. "Your help." She started. "...having to do
with the possibility that Jelena is alive. Please,
hear me out. I know what you saw on that video. I
know I damaged your relationship with Claudius,"
understatement of the century, "But I need
you...*he* needs you. Please, just let me explain
myself." As Sierra finished her plea, she heard the
scream of a tauntaun in the distance. Her eyes went
about to slam the door in Sierra's face and doom her
to a grisly fate at the tentacles of the sea
monster. If she had anything *but* that Jelena might
still be alive he certainly would have, but she said
the one thing that was a trigger for every member of
the House of Rodney. His hand moved from the door,
no longer barring it, but not opening it either. His
complexion grew as white as the snow that was
falling outside, and he began to backpedal away from
the door slowly. "Zara!" he cried out, sounding as
if he had been wounded. He needed to sit down, and
he stumbled backwards until he landed in one of the
living room chairs. He knew not what to say, nor
what to do. This was very likely an ISB plot given
the knowledge Zara now possessed of their database,
but could he chance it? He needed his wife's clear
mind to cast light on this.
passed the first threshold. She slowly walked into
the chalet. The door closed behind her to stop any
more of the cold from driving inside. The young
woman did not seat herself, for she felt like she
deserved no respect from her brother-in-law and his
wife. Instead, she lingered in the middle of the
living room in front of the fireplace trying to
decide how to even start this.
said brought to mind the video of Jelena *alive*
that she had found. It wasn't something she would
give up immediately. The woman was a member of the
ISB, and thus dangerous. Admitting to hacking into
the Retributor would be enough to warrant her and
Marcus' execution. She drew herself to her husband,
sitting on the arm of the chair. Her hand moved into
his. She looked towards the blonde. "Go on." Sierra
wasn't welcome here.
arrested the Rebel Iyah Xergo. She is charged with
murdering Jelena as well as the attempted murder of
the Rodney family," she began. "She confessed to
Claudius and I that Jelena is alive. She provided
some evidence..." Sierra's hand dug into the pocket
of her slacks, having already hung up her ISB
uniform for the mission ahead of her. She produced
the comlink, which she offered to Marcus. "This
news has worn incredibly hard on my husband." She
sounded legitimately worried. She didn't know if she
should prepare for this to all be a lie, or allow
herself to get excited over the idea that her best
friend lived. "...Xergo wants to trade herself for
Jelena. I spoke with Commander Kiley. She advised
that we find neutral territory to make the trade. A
place where *no one* is watching. *Here*. I need to
know if you can help us. Kerrie only has one other
person who can aid in the trade. I need you. If
Jelena is still alive...even if there's a
chance...it's worth it to try. She was my best
friend for many years. Her death..." Her voice
trailed off. Her death had hurt.
listened to everything that Sierra said ... he
*wanted* to believe ... he *needed* to believe. "How
do I know this isn't some ISB trick?" he said,
angrily, as he lashed out at her. "We know what the
ISB is capable of. We know what *you're* capable
of," he said, referencing the recording they had of
her with Arden Zevrin. He did not know who to
believe, but he did know who he could trust ...
Zara. He reached out for her, clutching her, as his
eyes sympathetically lingered on her. "What do *you*
make of this?" he asked her, hoping she had the
answers he needed to make the right decision. Was
the ISB capable of sinking so low to dangle the
prospects that his niece was live to manipulate and
control him? Yes.
Zara had not
stopped diving into the Arden Zevrin files. Finding
out Sierra was actually betraying the whole family
reminded her of Luna. She wanted to see what she had
missed. Why had Sierra been so convincing? Zara had
watched every meeting with Arden. She listened to
the woman before her attempt to defend herself and
her family. In this, Zara had allowed herself to
become soft. She hadn't told Marcus about her
delving. The wounds were raw and, ultimately, she
sided with him. She held him, looking down at her
husband anxiously. "It ... aligns with what we know.
What we *saw*." Her head turned towards Sierra. "How
do we know you're trustworthy? I've seen your
meetings with Arden Zevrin." Zara revealed herself,
staring the woman down like she was threatening her
to just *try* something.
settled herself in a chair. She was uncomfortable
and tired. How did she prove herself to her family?
"This is no ISB trick. What you saw...what she made
me do...it's not so easy to understand. I may have
come to Claudius under her control, but what I have
for him is real. I need to see this through for him.
Your home is a key location because that snake
cannot reach us here. I have nothing to offer you to
gain your trust." Sierra's voice cracked. She would
need to scramble to find a new place if he did not
looked down at her husband. There were reasons why
Luna had been able to get under her skin so easily:
Zara had a big heart. "We should show her the
video," she said, "The evidence is building that
your niece is alive."
Marcus did not
respond to Sierra or even Zara with words, but
instead unleashed a deep and profound sigh. He rose
from his chair and led his wife and sister-in-law to
the terminal that Zara had downloaded all of the
Imperial files onto. As he sat down and began to
operate the controls he could only hope that he
would not accidentally load the video of Claudius
and Sierra having sex in the office. Instead, he
brought up the recording of Iyah and her team
loading Jelena into the crate. He then followed
along until the crate was loaded in the shuttle,
safely, rather than the official story the Empire
told about the Rebellion killing Jelena. On the
surface all of the pieces fit together nicely, but
it was not beyond the capabilities of the ISB to
fake. He angled his head upward, looking over his
shoulder, waiting to gauge Sierra's reaction and,
more importantly, Zara's reaction to Sierra's
Sierra towards the terminal. Sierra drug herself
towards it. They spoke of other videos, though she
didn't know what they were talking about. She prayed
that they hadn't seen anything inappropriate.
Despite the cameras in Claudius' office, they'd
engaged in certain activities. Her worries were
fleeting. She leaned forward while the video began
to load. Her eyes deceived her brain in what she
saw. Her best friend, alive, hidden away in a crate.
Her mouth opened wider and wider while her eyes grew
the size of dishes. She felt like she might pass
out. How the hell was this possible? Like everything
else, it could have been a fake. "Can you play it
again..?" She said dryly. She watched it again, and
again, and again. Her eyes grew teary. Over the past
twenty-four hours, she had heard her dead friend's
voice. Now she was seeing an escape that may or may
not have happened. Sierra stepped back. "I... This
all makes no sense. All reports stated that she'd
been killed. Arden Zevrin personally told me..."
Red, hot rage surged back through her. This was
another set up by Arden! It was a ploy to hurt
Claudius and turn his back on the Retributor
briefly. "Why didn't I see it sooner!?" She shouted.
In a fashion like her own husband, Sierra swung her
arm back and slammed her fist into the closest wall.
She felt so *stupid*. "Jelena *is* alive! She played
Claudius. She played me."
Zara eyed her
sister-in-law, who was entirely sucked into the
video. She saw real, true emotions. There were
tears. It became clear to her that Sierra and Jelena
*had* been close. Her stern look faded away to pity.
Sierra had been taken advantage of. She didn't know
if she was as vindictive as they once thought. When
the young woman panicked, Zara stopped her from
damaging her home any further by taking her arm. She
tossed Marcus a look and then nodded her head. She
was agreeing to help Sierra while fearing the idea
of allowing evil into her home again. She hoped this
would also help Claudius and Marcus to make up.