Claudius Rodney returned home after his final day aboard the
Warspite. He was officially on leave and could not be more happy
than to have a chance to get away from things for a while. He had spent
the bulk of the day arguing with the ISB Sector Commander, the same
woman that had tortured his wife. It took some doing, and he had to
concede more than he wanted, but he had finally gotten permission for
his daughter to leave the region. "Htaere?" he called out happily as he
opened the door, he seemed to be in rare form.
Htaere looked over the array of high end gowns hanging in her closet.
Suppressing a frown, she called out a response, unsure if it was
audible. "Yes?" Reaching out she brushed her fingers over the rainbow of
expensive fabrics, at a loss. So many that would be stunning and
noteworthy. So many she didn't want to use to flatter the faction that
had taken something away from her.
"I did it!" Claudius shouted cheerfully as he rushed towards Htaere
and excitedly grabbed hold of her. His hands reached from her hips and
lifted her off the air, and he began spinning around happily as he
celebrated his victory. He was thrilled at the prospect of a successful
visit with The Emperor. would now be a success.
A little surprised by the uncharacteristic display, Htaere collected
herself and smiled over at Claudius. "Which feat exactly did you
accomplish today?" she asked curiously. There were so many, though she
assumed it was related immediately to their future trip.
Claudius set Htaere back on the ground and le let out a tired sigh,
having perhaps over did it. "I got permission for Jelena to attend
Alderaan University!" he exclaimed happily, placing a quick kiss upon
Htaere's cheek. It was the terrific news he had been waiting nearly a
Eyebrows lifted happily. "Oh my! That is wonderful indeed," genuine
happiness erupted from within her. "She will be ecstatic," the heiress
continued. Canting her head, Htaere smiled at him warmly. "I am really
proud of you Claudius, for keeping your promise to her in this regard,
despite your personal inhibitions about the topic."
Claudius would not share how he was able to achieve this, as he
thought Htaere would frown at the notion of her torturer receiving
additional funding for her projects in exchange for the release. "Is all
of the packing done?" he asked, feeling quite excited about the chance
to visit Coruscant. It had been ages since he saw the planet, and he
wondered how much it had changed. He used to have many friends there,
and he wondered if any of them were still around.
"Well, almost," Htaere risked a glance back to her luggage, still
open as if patiently waiting for whatever other percentage of her
wardrobe she saw fit to pack. "I am uncertain if the children have
completed preparation for the trip," she admitted, flashing a quick gaze
over the gowns again, determined to come to a decision.
"The shuttle will be here in several hours," Claudius explained,
frantically beginning to panic like an old lady, terribly concerned with
the packing. "I'd better tell Jelena!" he said, realizing the poor girl
probably had not even begun to pack.
"Tell me what?" Jelena asked as she popped out of the kitchen,
wearing her familiar dirty shirt and pajamas pants, having become quite
the slacker lately. She looked at him strangely, before taking a sip of
her blue milk, an unkempt mustache being left on her upper lip as she
waited for a reply.
"I managed to secure you entry into Alderaan University!" Claudius
said excitedly as he lifted his arms up in a victorious cheer. "Now get
up stairs and pack," he quickly added, not wasting any time.
A huge smile formed on Jelena's face as she received the news, and
ran to place a soft kiss on her father's left cheek. She was finally
getting away from this awful war. She turned to stand in front of Htaere
for a moment. "Thank you..." she said quietly, taking her hands in hers
and giving them a tender, appreciative squeeze.
Htaere fixed the young woman with a warm smile and nodded subtly.
"You are welcome," she mouthed the words back. Htaere bit back the
surprise at how Jelena had let herself go, and privately hoped she would
bathe, sooner rather then later. "Perhaps when this matter is concluded,
Claudius will let me take you to the university to view the school,
begin your preliminary entrance paperwork and select an apartment so you
will be ready," she offered.
For the first time Jelena felt a real connection to Htaere and smiled
lovingly at her. "I would like that..." she said, as a single tear ran
down her cheek. She smiled, and placed the quickest of kisses upon her
left cheek before heading upstairs to begin packing. This was the
happiest day of my life, she thought to herself as she bounded up the
Suddenly Ewwiekewwieikkie burst from the kitchen, wearing a stainless
durasteel pot upon her fur-covered head. In her hands she had a large
loaf of bread that she had sloppily cut into oblong sized slices. "I'm
all packed!" she proudly announced, as she handed Htaere an end crust of
her loaf of bread.
Htaere accepted the gift with a smile and nodded approvingly.
"Wonderful!" she exclaimed, patting the Squibb's hat. "You look
smashing," she commented. She leaned down to grin at Ewwie, eye level.
"Do not forget the forks...remember the rules ok?"
"No talk. Yes forks!" Ewwiekewwieikkie triumphantly announced as she
slammed the loaf of bread against her chest. There was going to be a
great chance for her to get some koovy goods, she thought to herself.
She had read that Coruscant was home to some of the best baubles in the
galaxy, and this was something she surely had to see.
The Lady Drusilla Rodney slowly began to descend the staircase,
wearing her rainbow gem bracelet from her recent trip to Gallinore, the
new necklace that her father had purchased her for going on the trip,
and the tiara her grandparents had presented her for her thirteenth
birthday. "I am ready," she announced, regally, holding her hand in the
air so that her father could assist her in descending the final step. A
housekeeping droid followed behind her, laboring to carrying her massive
wardrobe. She had packed nearly her entire wardrobe.
Htaere's stormy grey eyes pandered over to the princess and shook her
head. With a hefty sigh, she recalled that her own packing had yet to be
completed. "Excuse me please," she said to the group gathered to
continue with getting her own items together.
Claudius folloed Htaere into the room and came up behind her. His
hands moved around, coming to rest on her stomach as he pulled her
backside into his front. His face dipped into her hair and he inhaled
deeply. "We will finally have some time together," he whispered into her
hear, having missed her terribly, neglecting her far too long because of
his duty. "Do you need help packing?" he asked, puling away slightly in
case the children would walk in.
Htaere's hands rested over his as her head turned to look up over her
shoulder towards him. "No, thank you. There are a few choices I have
been unable to make regarding wardrobe but I believe I have made the
selection," she replied before leaning back towards him momentarily. "I
am glad we shall have this time to spend," she admitted. "It is crucial
the family take time, especially you, Claudius. You are more their
family then I, and it is you I believe they seek attention from." She
paused before reiterating her appreciation again for following through.
"This means the world to Jelena," she said quietly. "You will probably
never fully realize the magnitude of your efforts and her gratitude."
"Whatever you wear I am confident His Majesty will find you
ravishing," Claudius admitted, cheerfully as he moved towards the bed,
looking around at the chaotic clutter of clothing. "Did you have a
chance to pack my clothes?" he asked, having not really given it much
thought. "Yes. Jelena did seem pleased, didn't she?" he said to her,
feeling very proud of his daughter going off to university. It was a big
step and it felt like his little girl was finally growing up. He was a
bit reluctant, feeling as if he could no longer protect her.
"I started some of your basics and a few uniforms," she began. "But I
was unsure what other attire you might like to bring along." Beginning
to remove a few pieces of jewelry, Htaere seated herself on the edge of
the bed, leaving the glittery rings, bracelets, arm bands and necklaces
on the end table. She would never admit to it, but had serious
reservations about how smoothly this whole incident may go. It exhausted
her to say the least. "Perhaps you should like to bring clothing that
disassociates you from your rank and stature, so that we may be able to
enjoy time in the various art and museum districts, or going to dinner
or such, without being identified and likewise hounded by the holovid
"I hate to disappoint you, my dear, but no one on Coruscant cares who
I am," Claudius informed her, sounding somewhat disappointed. "Here I
command a Battle Squadron. On Alderaan I am a member of the nobility.
But on Coruscant ... I'm just a mid level flag officer," he conceded, as
he shrugged into himself before moving towards the closet to look
through his wardrobe. "We will go quite unnoticed," he said as he pulled
out an assortment of tunics and trousers and began to place them
carefully into a garment bag.
"Oh?" Htaere brushed her hair away from her shoulder, running her
fingers through it and twisting it into a loose braid casually. "Well
that is wonderful, Claudius. Then indeed we shall be able to have time
uninterrupted whilst we take in the sights. I am most excited about the
idea," she shared, feeling a bit more optimistic. She was quiet for a
moment, letting the conversation dwindle before venturing a rather
"Claudius? What are the chances of reassignment, or promotion or any
such thing with this...presentation?"
Claudius smiled as he listened to Htaere discuss the trip, feeling
increasingly more positive with each spoken word. "Well..." he said, not
wanting to get his hopes up too high. "This is a great honor for anyone
in the Empire. There is always the chance this could lead to a
promotion..." he said to her, imagining himself as a Fleet Admiral. He
liked the sound of it, and several officers junior to him on the
Admiral's list had already received promotions.
Htaere did not respond. She was not looking for the answer as an
opportunity to celebrate though she would never admit to such. Instead
she smiled tiredly. "You deserve such an honor, Claudius," she commented
quietly. "I am truly very happy for you." That statement was very
genuine, watching her much older husband move about the room.
As he was the only going on the trip who did not have a large
assortment of jewels, his packing was relatively simple, and after a few
moments of labor his packing was complete. His comlink beeped indicating
the shuttle had arrived. "Our transport is here," he said to Htaere as
he looked over towards her packing. "But they cannot leave without us.
So we do not have to rush," he was quick to point out with a smile. He
lifted his bags with a tired groan, never being one to accept the use of
droids, and gingerly carried them out to the main foyer.
Htaere paged a house droid to collect her luggage, switching into a
traveling gown of comfortable soft material and long hooded cape to keep
her bare shoulders warm in transit, Htaere finished accessorizing before
picking up the last of the baggage and making her way to the entrance of
Jelena emerged from the top level, having finally showered and
changed into a dress of Alderaanian fashion. She could feel the eyes of
her sisters and father on her as she slowly descended the the staircase.
Finally, a smile crept on her face as she enjoyed the attention and held
her right hand in the air regally. "Let's get this over with," she said
with a smirk as she led the family precession from the estate towards
the waiting shuttle.