Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Liz Dorner and Christopher Levy.

One year before the Battle of Yavin (34:8:33) in the Essesia system: Esseles (New Calamar: Claudius Rodney's estate).


Vice Admiral Claudius Rodney and Lady Htaere Ka`a Sha`ar.


The Lambda Shuttle Kwai touched down on the landing pad outside of his estate. He asked Randi to bring her down slowly so that the sound of the engines would not wake anyone inside the house. Things had been difficult for him at work lately and normally if he had finished this late he would choose to sleep on the ship, but tonight was different. The last thing he wanted to do was sleep on the ship and he always wanted to make sure that Jelena and Htaere had survived their encounter. He entered his keycard in the door and sighed. He was tired, stressed out, and suffering from a rather large headache. A headache he feared would only grow worse over the next few days. He proceeded up the steps towards his bedroom, doing his best to be quiet, but he was so tired that he could not prevent his heavy footsteps.

The door to her chambers opened and she slipped out, drawn to the audible movement. Comfortable in a pair of lush velveteen house slippers, soft green satin two piece pajama set with a thick white terrycloth robe, she watched the retreating form for a moment before lifting her voice to that slightly above a whisper. "Claudius?"

Claudius turned on his heels and spun around to look at Htaere. He smiled when he saw her. She was a refreshing sight after his long day. "I'm sorry I woke you," he said apologetically as he walked towards her.

"You did not. I was reading" she replied. As he moved into the visible light from the shadows, her soft smile drained to give way to a more grave expression. "Are you ill?" she asked, looking him over.

"From a certain point of view," Claudius informed her, "It has been a long few days and it is taking a toll on me I fear." He paused for a moment before deciding to change the subject, "How was your day? You were quite busy."

"I will not keep you then. I had a very nice day. I am most pleased with it. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to speak openly with both Major Kiley and Jelena." She paused a moment, glancing at the light from the fireplace in her room casting dancing shadows around her chambers and spilling out into the hall through the open door. "If I may, upon speaking frankly with your daughter, I believe it would be good for the two of you to spend some time together. She has concerns of her own which you could possibly address yourself, and I think she misses the company as well," Htaere offered encouragingly.

"My daughter is not too pleased with me at all," Claudius explained as he walked closer towards her, "She hates it here on Esseles. She would much rather be on Alderaan in school with all of her friends. They insisted I bring her here though ... to show how safe it is." He paused, reflecting on the other day. "Well ... you've seen how safe it is here. Maybe I should let her go back to Alderaan?" he asked her, not quite sure what to do.

One corner of Htaere's mouth dropped in a half-frown. "I am afraid I cannot answer intelligently, as I am unfamiliar with the conflict. Perhaps a visit would ease the longing somewhat. I would accompany her if you like" she suggested.

"I am not quite sure if I am ready for you to meet my parents," Claudius said with a nervous smile, "They could only mess things up."

"I was not suggesting such a thing. I am minimally tolerant at such times of your father's would-be interjections" Htaere confessed. She exhaled and a tender grin reappeared. "At least speak with her. I think you will find her to be appreciative of your efforts."

"How is Kerrie doing anyway?" Claudius asked, genuinely concerned, "I was not able to get over there today with all that has been going on."

"Very well. She is still confined to her bed, much to her chagrin but is surprisingly obedient. She was very surprised when I brought her 'Booki' " Htaere reported casually.

"I'm sorry?" Claudius asked with a strange look on his face before repeating, "Booki?"

"The stuffed bantha you asked me to give her. Her Booki" she answered matter-of-factly.

"She calls it 'Booki'?" Claudius asked before starting to laugh hysterically. He roared in laughter for several long moments, his face turning bright red.

Htaere frowned noticeably. "For shame, Claudius. You ought not to mock other people's pain, nor their means of dealing with it. There is much to Kerrie Kiley and betraying her privacy with humor is not right."

"I was not mocking her, Htaere," Claudius said once he stopped laughing, "It was just very unexpected. But seriously ... how did the dinner go? If it was bad you can tell me."

"It went very well" she responded, still somewhat displeased with his casual dismissal of the major's emotional workings.

"I'm glad to hear that," Claudius said with a smile, "Perhaps things are turning around here."

"Perhaps" she supplied before studying the drained look on his features. "You do not look well. You need rest. Should I call your doctor?"

"He is a physician," Claudius explained, "If anything I need a therapist."

"If my presence is a detriment, I can leave" she said, tilting her head slightly. "I do not wish to create problems for you."

"No," Claudius told her reassuring, "Your presence is the only relief I have."

She nodded, accepting his statement though harboring some doubt. "Should I prepare some tea for you?"

"No," Claudius said, growing tired, "Don't trouble yourself. Is there someplace we could sit?"

Htaere glanced back to the open door of her chambers. "I have a fire going in the hearth. It is very toasty and comforting" she grinned, stepping out of his way and allowing him to pass first.

Claudius smiled at her and walked into her room. It was warm and comforting. He sighed audibly as he took a seat in a comfortable chair near the fire. He looked at her through his old, tired eyes, "Do you think I could press upon you to rub my temples?"

She smiled tenderly down at him. "My poor Claudius" she mumbled quietly. Soft hands lifted to his face, studying his aged facade intensively while the tactile pads of her fingertips nimble brushed long sweeping caresses down the sides of his face, from his hair line, down his temples around the occipital bones of his eyes, over slightly pronounced cheekbones and down the defined line of his jaw before meeting deftly at his chin. "Hmmm" she thought for a moment before moving away from him towards a nightstand near her bed. She returned with a white lotion on her fingertips, the rich smell of mint detectable. She touched the lotion to his temples, rubbing in tiny delicate little circles, her motion deliberate and the pressure of her touch merely enough to stimulate the pulse points and work at soothing him.

Claudius groaned audibly as her fingers worked her magic. Each gentle movement caused the stress to be lifted off him and brought him closer towards relief. He closed his eyes and continued to moan softly as he remained in the moment, finally starting to unwind after a very long day.

Her fingers moved to his neck, finding the small niche beneath each ear lobe where the hinge of his jaw was, and pushing with the slightest bit more firmness, coiled one spiraled motion after another along the sub-dermal crevice. A few minutes of this and her fingers flattened on his flesh and drove tenaciously up around each ear lobe to the tangible curvature of his skull, moving her fingers back and forth from front to back, nudging the skin slightly, pulling it taut, and releasing it, taut and release.

A very content smile formed on Claudius' lips before his head suddenly snapped downward. He had become so relaxed that he fell asleep in the comfort of her hands, the chair, and the fire. After a moment of staying like the sound of light snoring could be heard echoing throughout the chamber.

Her brow lifted, taken back. She pressed her palms against the front of his shoulders and gently nudged him back in the chair to keep him from tumbling forward. She knelt down in front of him to peer up at his face, whispering "Claudius? Claudius, wake up. You must get into your night clothes."

Claudius groaned lightly, still half asleep before murmuring to her, "Just a few more minutes, mom."

A bit of a bemused grin slid across her lips. She lifted her voice a bit more. "Claudius, you will be far more comfortable in your bed" she said definitively, one hand lifting to his head to brush her fingertips through his hair leisurely.

Claudius rose from his seat begrudgingly and headed out of the room. He stumbled, tired and disoriented. "Goodnight," he said kindly as he tried to make it back down the hall.

Htaere's beautiful face scowled briefly before stalking after the "drunk." She came up behind him swiftly and took his arm, guiding him away from any number of furniture and decorative pieces that he could potentially stumble over. "This way" she directed, moving him to his own door. With much work, she managed to get it open and his teetering frame inside. She resisted the urge to glance about curiously at the private sanctuary of the man, instead moving him straight to his bedside where she sat him. "Do not move Claudius" she stated, stepping back from him for a moment to observe his uniform and figure as best she could the means to deal with it. The outer belt was easy. The more complex tunic of the Imperial Navy was a bit more thought provoking. Gingerly her fingers worked at the fasteners, eyes occasionally vacillating to his face should the need arise to explain why she was undressing him.

"Thank you," Claudius said kindly as he looked down at her with eyes that were but half open, "I am just so tired. I haven't been able to sleep in days."

She nearly jumped but continued working until the last bit of the flap was undone and the article removable. "Why are you not taking better care of yourself? Your health is of the utmost importance," she chided as she worked, though she doubted he paid any attention. She slid the slate grey tunic from his shoulders and draped it across a chair before tugging off his boots, one by one.

"I am responsible for the health of tens of millions of individuals, Htaere," Claudius explained as he took a seat down upon his bed. "Sometimes the situation becomes tenuous and I give too much of myself," he said as he lay his head upon his pillow.

She remained silent, pushing his near lifeless legs up onto the mattress and tugging the sheet and comforter down from underneath his form. She pulled it up around his mid torso and leaned over one last time to touch either of his temples in search of any residual lotion to be found. What bit of moistness she did find, she smudged delicately beneath his nostrils so that each breath was a cleansing one and soothed his tensions from the inside out. "Goodnight Claudius. Sleep well" she remarked quietly before straightening up, giving him a once over for approval before moving to the door and drawing it closed behind her.

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