As the doors of the lift slid open, it seemed at first to be empty,
nothing happening for a moment. Slowly, eyes peeked out, scanning the
corridor for others, before emerging once she deemed it solitary. The
small frame of the Hapan youth seemed askew, her gown slightly dirty and
"lived in", evident that she'd slept in it the night before. Her hair
fell about her shoulders, unbrushed, her eyes showing the strain of poor
sleep. She slipped as quietly as she could, moving towards the master
suit to hide away in the refresher with a nice long shower.
Before Htaere could get too comfortable, the turbolift door opened
revealing the arrival of Jelena Rodney, who seemed to be looking rather
distressed and frazzled herself. "Htaere?" she shouted out, unaware of
her presence. She noticed the bed had not been slept in last night, but
her attempt to locate her had failed. The garden had been kept secret
from the children to prevent them from observing a moment of private
intimacy. She had just come from seeing her father, the effects of which
lingered strongly upon her. It proved to be quite the ordeal to see him
that way. Especially when she blamed herself for it all.
Htaere nearly cringed, drawing to a halt. She turned slowly, the
emotionally taxed visage of Jelena Rodney coming into focus. She braced
herself for a lashing, expecting one to come from abandoning Claudius in
the medical bay. She drew in a deep ragged breath and waited for the
"Oh thank goodness," Jelena said when she spotted Htaere in the
master suite, a genuine look of relief coming over the young girl. She
could not stand to think that all three of them were unwell. She found
it hard to look her in the eye, the events of the Trade Hall still
firmly implanted in her mind. "I have news from Doctor Tohan," she said
as she moved towards her, extending one of her small, young hands to
gently caress her arm. She was concerned, not quite sure what happened
Htaere remained silent for Jelena to continue, gazing at her with the
same listless and dull expression. Even the glow of her rainbow gem
seemed dim. The corners of her mouth shifted, but only slightly into a
sort of smile, one that was well-rehearsed but mirthless.
Jelena could immediately sense that Htaere was distressed, and tried
to bright her day by relaying the news. "Maj..." she said, stopping
herself, remembering she was to blame for what had happened to her.
"Kerrie is to be released from the bacta tank," she said in an uplifting
voice, smiling at Htaere in an attempt to cheer her up. "Doctor Tohan
said it might do her good to see you," she continued as she looked over
her distraught step-mother, unsure of how to best reach her.
Htaere mouthed the words "Thank you" with a reverent nod of her head.
In her mind, she wondered just how much Jelena knew. She glanced down at
herself, too numb to be bothered at her appearance, turning to make her
way to the medical level, moving in a slow lumbering and zombie-like
Inside the medical bay, Kerrie remained bobbing in the tank of potent
bacta that was fast at work healing her battered body. Her one eye was
open now and keeping it focused on the Doctor, to whom she gave a
'thumbs up' sign. A moment later the tank was flushed and the bacta
began to train, her weakened body falling to the bottom in the fetal
position as the last of liquid was expunged. As the tank was opened, she
shuddered, the air upon her slime-covered body causing a chill.
Doctor Tohan immediately stepped forward, placing a large towel down
upon the young woman as he began to check her vital signs. While the
bacta had done its work, there were still one or two areas of concern he
would need to follow up with her on. The bruises were healing and the
broken bones were on the mend. The lung was of greatest concern to him
for the time being. He was too focused on attending to his patient to
notice Htaere slip in.
Htaere approached quietly, staying off to the side, and absorbing the
scene with a sickening guilt. It was still unbelievable, and she even
found herself to the extent of clinging to any reason other then Tohan's
"Ah," Kerrie cried out in a fierce amount of pain as the breathing tube
was removed from her reinflated lung. A stream of blood and puss flowed
from her side as the surgical droid quickly stitched up the wound. The
pain was unbearable, but at least she was able to breath without
mechanical assistance anymore. She had yet to notice Htaere,'s presence
as well, her hands running over her own body to begin the process of
Htaere had often wondered how Kerrie continued to like her. She
seemed to cause the Major terrible amounts of trouble, the result
usually ending with treatment that Htaere believed was cruel and
inhumane. Suffering for the Major was a regular fixture in the picture,
and more often then not on account of the Hapan heiress.
"Milady," Kerrie said with a sense of great enthusiasm, despite the
pain as the image of her slowly faded in view. She had feared that she
may never see her again, and her last thought before losing
consciousness was that she had been responsible for Htaere's death. "You
are well?" she asked weakly as she wrapped the blanket tightly around
her, still recovering from the disorientation of being under in the
bacta solution for so long. She was clearly still at least partially out
of it as she attempted to sit up.
Htaere was stoic, devoid entirely of any indication of emotion. "Are
you?" she answered, not even so much as a twitch on her face.
"Now that you have returned to us..." Kerrie began, but was soon
unexpectedly cut off. She began to cough rather violently, and then
there was a disturbing choking noise as she began to vomit the excess
bacta, mixed with blood and bile. It was a horrid ordeal, and she
attempted to wipe her mouth, struggling to catch her breath as she still
felt too weak to stand. Through it all, her eyes continued to lock on
Htaere with a genuine sense of relief for her safe return. What she had
been through was worth it, in her mind, to know that Htaere was safe.
"This is not about me anymore Kerrie" she answered evenly. She
sighed, the first movement from her since she'd entered the room.
"This...I..." Htaere simply could not form the words. She did not know
where to start.
With assistance from one of the surgical droids, she was finally able
to raise up to her feet, but she could not exert any weight yet for fear
her knees would buckle. With considerable effort being exerted, she was
able to brace herself against one of the beds before collapsing atop it.
At least she was off the floor. Her slime-covered flesh clung to the
low-quality sheet that covered a firm, padded mattress. Her breathing
was strained, and her eyes struggled to maintain focus on Htaere. Her
hands gripped at the sheets, digging into the foam below as she
struggled to pull herself up towards the pillow. "You have no idea..."
she said between pained gasps and wheezes "... how relieved I am to know
that you are well."
"That seems ridiculous" she answered. "I was unharmed. The white
haired Hapan was one of the nicer ones. But you..." Htaere couldn't
finish. Expecting some mention of Claudius and *the* incident, it simply
floored her to find that the man who'd beat her within an inch of her
life was an afterthought.
"The Hapan?" Kerrie asked as she stared up curiously at Htaere,
trying to put the piece of the puzzle together. "...the one who I
brought to the ship?" she asked, not wanting to believe that the pesky
woman who had been a thorn in her side and nearly ruined their lives had
played a part in this. She would have her revenge on that woman for all
she had done to them.
"Yes...I saw her in the market. I tried to follow her. I do not
recall what happened after that" she answered. "The Hapan was one of
them. Another was my tormenter, not she."
Kerrie's eyes went wide as she realized a horrible truth, beginning
to piece together the events of what happened beginning to formulate in
her mind. It was just too much of a coincidence for them to all be in
the same place. "I am sorry I allowed that to occur, Milady," she said
quietly as she slowly sat up on the bed and leveled her eyes towards
her. "I failed you..." she said, quivering slightly as she begged
Htaere's eyes refocused from the recesses of her mind where the
memories of the abduction were playing like a never ending picture show.
She gazed at Kerrie, her brow hardening. "Stop it...you are letting it
work...you are letting him break you..."
"I was broken long before I met him, milady," Kerrie confessed very
sadly, the time in the bacta tank giving her plenty of private time to
reflect on the events in her life that brought her down this road. She
shook her head at Htaere and tried her best to reassure her.
"No...no you were not" she answered emphatically. "That is not
true...are you not tired of this? Where is the fight?" Htaere peered at
her. "If we have to, we can leave. We can run away."
Kerrie looked visibly shaken by the words being spoken by her beloved
Htaere, seeming as if someone had just killed her beloved pet. "Ru...run
away?" she asked, tilting her head to try and focus her vision on the
woman. "We...cannot leave..." she said very plainly to her, wondering
why she would even suggest such a notion.
Htaere appeared worried, brow knit it fear. "If he is different after
this...if he is angry at you still, if he is angry at me when he finds
out..." Htaere's devastation was evident on her face. "I am...afraid..."
she admitted finally.
"You have nothing to be afraid of, Milady," Kerrie said, reaching for
her with her the grey reptilian-like hand she rarely let outsiders see,
not yet having the fortitude to shapeshift. "He loves you very deeply,"
she confessed emphatically, believing the couple represented what she
imagined her own parents were like. "I would never let him commit an act
that would cause you any fear," she swore to her, leaning forward off
the bed to stress the point.
"He should not have done this..." she supplied. There was a lot more
to say, she was certain, but what exactly it was and when to say it, she
couldn't be sure. Another heavy sigh escaped her lips as she fell into
silence. Her eyes dropped, simply stunned and at a loss. "I am sorry
this happened to you. It is my fault, again."
"If I had performed my duty, Milady, none of this would ever happen,"
Kerrie explained in a calm and clear voice, trying to reason with her
despite the extent of her injuries. "Please. Try and understand," she
said, trying to stand up, placing some of the weight on her feet again.
"Whoa..." she cried out as her knees began to buckle, having to grab on
to the bed for support.
Htaere struggled to help her, reinforcing support. "You should lay
still. Doctor Tohan will be unhappy with you for moving about. You will
disturb your wounds" she chided lightly.
Kerrie gripped the bed firmly, using it as a crutch to prop herself
up as she struggled to remain upright. It meant a lot to her dignity to
stand, but the tendons in her knees seemed to be at odds with her will.
Grunting, she looked to Htaere and tried to offer a comforting smile.
"The Doctor has all he can do for me," she explained through deep
breaths. "The rest is on me now," she said firmly as her knees continued
"And I should be letting you rest" Htaere added, more to herself. She
was quiet for a moment before looking at Kerrie intently. "I am glad
that are you healing. It means the world to me to see you well" she
nodded. "I shall speak in depth with Claudius regarding this and I
promise it will never happen again" she vowed gravely. With that, Htaere
took her dear friend in a tender but genuine embrace, uninvited but
necessary all the same in her mind. She withdrew, managing something
akin to a subtle smile before turning to the exit.
Kerrie's arms instinctively wrapped around Htaere as she returned the
embrace. With her arms around Htaere, Kerrie soon found herself upright
without needing to lean on something. As the embrace ended, her legs
held their ground and she managed to remain standing, despite the
disoriented feeling. A content smile curled upon her lips as her face
slowly shimmered to match the appearance of her common, Human female
appearance. She was on the mend.
Htaere retreated to the master bedroom of the Rodney family suite.
She took the time to get a shower, tidy herself up and have one of the
service droids help her with her hair. She mucked about for her vitamins
and supplements, pausing for a moment as she looked over the
instructions. Before taking them, she moved to the com panel on the
wall, punching in the extension for Doctor Tohan and waiting patiently.
Doctor Tohan looked up from a medical readout as he observed the red
light illuminate on his communications system, indicating it was the
direct line from the Rodney suite. His hand moved forward, activating
the unit and beginning to speak. "Is everything all right?" his booming,
stereophonic Ithorian voice said towards the comm.
"Yes, everything is fine. I only wish to inquire if there are
additional items I am to be taking and if you had any other instruction
for me" Htaere answered, regarding her prenatal care.
Pilaq paused before replying into the comm unit, having allowed
Htaere's pregnancy to slip his mind in the chaos. "I have read the
reports from the Alderaanian doctors and believe they have chosen the
right combination of supplements for you," he explained to her very
slowly as his attention turned to a datapad containing their report on
her. "I would advise you to lower your stress level and limit physical
activity for at leas two weeks while you recover from the recent ordeal,
Milady," he said as his voice became a bit distracted, half-talking,
half-reviewing her medical history.
"Thank you, doctor. I shall indeed" she said, releasing the button,
and going about with her vitamin regimen. She glanced herself over in
the mirror, not exactly thrilled with her appearance, but finding it at
least reasonable. By other standards, she was still glamorous. Perhaps a
bit less ornate and bejeweled as she normally was, but still her opulent
wardrobe spoke volumes in and of itself. Htaere gazed at herself, and
for the first time ever she eyed her belly, scrutinizing it for any
little evidence, despite that fact that it had only been a matter of
weeks at best. She cast a glance around to make sure no one was present,
turning to the side and evaluating the contour of her abdomen in the
Across the galaxy, the venomous voice of Qeio`i Eschuu da Sha`ar
demanded to be patched through to the Imperial Star Destroyer
Warspite. The beautiful but deceitful face of Htaere's mother
narrowed her unveiled eyes at whatever poor sap had the misfortune of
working the communications array at that particular moment, unwilling to
waste her precious time with poor naves. Not by her own choice, she was
now waiting to be patched through to her youngest daughter, whom she had
successfully delivered out of Hapes. She accepted that the child was
*not* suited for the conspiracy and back-stabbing that her sisters had
mastered, but when news of the abduction reached her, she simply could
not stand by without insterting what she really thought.
On the bridge of the Star Destroyer Warspite, Lieutenant
Meham'ohorovi'cloca watched as an incoming transmission was received
from the Hapes Cluster. It was an unusual event, but not one that was to
be unexpected given the passenger board. Turning to the comm panel she
activated the transmission and the piercing red eyes that stood out
amongst her dark blue skin focused on the display. "This is the
Warspite. We are receiving your transmission," she spoke clearly
into the panel with a cold voice devoid of emotion.
Eschuu da Sha`ar's face glared through the channel, staring down the
Chiss with a steel resolve. Her accent was thicker then Htaere's, being
that she did not speak Basic as regularly as her daughter did. "Put me
through to Htaere" she commanded solidly.
Meham'ohorovi'clocla blinked silently at the pretentious Hapan on the
other end of the line, allowing no contempt for her attitude to slip
onto her unwavering facial expression. "One moment," she said as she
raised her hand to pause the transmission. Her hand shifted slightly as
she opened up a transmission to the Admiral's personal suite, where she
expected Htaere to be. "Milady, I have an incoming transmission from
your mother on Hapes. Are you able to connect at this time?" she asked,
sounding like the least Human member of the crew.
Htaere paused, glancing away from the mirror. "Yes...put her through
please, Lieutenant" she replied. She moved to the panel, activating the
the monitor as well and waiting.
Pleased that she would not have to disappoint the Hapan noblewoman,
Meham'ohorovi'cloca's reactivated Eschuu's transmission. "Stand by," she
said to both parties as she patched in the two transmissions, linking
the calls before she terminated the transmission on her end, having no
desire to eavesdrop like some of the other officers.
Htaere let the picture spring to life, the harsh and intense gaze of
her mother bearing into her. No sooner had the picture snapped into the
monitor did a steady and abrasive stream of Hapan erupt, her mother
addressing her in their native tongue. Htaere only half paid attention
to it, picking up insults here and there, the words "weak" and "gutless"
and so on. Htaere canted her head and without so much as batting an
eyelash, she reached forward and hit the release button, the call
terminating immediately. A small smile touched Htaere's lips, enjoying
the immediate result...peace and quiet. It was most gratifying to snuff
the harpy out of her life at that moment, and her only regret being that
she couldn't see the woman's reaction to her ending the transmission in
mid-sentence. Doctor Tohan had said no stress. And Htaere was happy to
oblige. With that, she moved to the entrance of the suite, strolling out
casually, still sporting a tiny grin and a little helping of egotistical
Jelena had been laying on a sofa in the foyer of the Rodney's suite,
moving less than a bump on the log as he nervously waited for news of
her father's condition. In her mind, this entire situation was her
fault, and it was causing her a great deal of sorrow that weighed
heavily upon her. As she saw Htaere head towards the entrance, she
spring up suddenly and looked towards her, trying to read her body
language for any sort of news. "Did you see Kerrie?" she asked, leaning
forward on the couch and resting her chin upon it as she looked up at
her, longing for good news.
Htaere stopped, looking over to Jelena, a little surprised that she'd
been there. Her face warmed a little. "Yes, I have. She is doing much
better. I am quite certain that if you went to see her as well, she
would be elated" she continued, her fingers weaving together in front of
her. "She has been moved to a bed now." Htaere stopped to think for a
moment. "You know, I have an idea. Would you like to come with me?"
Jelena seemed relieved by the news that Kerrie was no longer at
death's door and rose quickly from the sofa, moving to Htaere's side in
a swift motion. "Of course," she said in a pleasant voice, some of the
strain having just been brushed off her shoulders and eased her mind.
Her appearance was very plain when in the company of Htaere. On a day
that had consisted of laying on a sofa it seemed she was even more
unkempt, but it never seemed to bother her.
It was not long after that the young women stood outside the door of
Major Kiley's personal quarters, one of the security officers opening
the room to give them access. Htaere smiled "Thank you. This will only
take a moment" she assured the officer before stepping inside and
waiting for Jelena. She looked around, immediately moving to Kerrie's
bed. There it was, as plain as day. Htaere carefully reached for the
stuffed bantha that lay next to her pillow. "Alright" she announced "We
In the entire course of her life Jelena never recalled a moment where
she was as confused as she was now. Her brow furrowed and she examined
the old stuffed animal that Htaere was carrying. "What ... is ... that?"
she asked in a very slow manner as she took a closer look. It seemed
very unlike anything she would expect to find in a room belonging to
"Booki. Let us deliver him to the major. It will improve her spirits
and make her smile" she answered. She smiled, recalling all the private
"girly" conversations and vulnerable moments she had shared with Kerrie
in the short time she'd known her. "I should simply adopt Kerrie, force
her to retire and let her live the rest of her days with Booki in peace
and a lavish lifestyle" she commented, more like an out loud thought.
"Booki..." Jelena repeated, trying her best not to burst into
laughter as the two entered the turbolift. It would seem that you could
not simply judge a book by its cover after all. She would form a
considerably different view of the Major now that she realized that she
relied on something like a ratty, old stuffed animal to smile. "Isn't
three new daughters enough for one year?" Jelena asked playfully,
replying to Htaere's idle thought, as the turbolift descended towards
the medical level.
"It would behoove us all to remember how much we really do not
know..." she supplied regarding the stuffed bantha. Her eyes shifted to
the wall of the lift in response to her second comment. She considered
it in silence for a while before answering. "Yes, perhaps three is
enough..." she replied solemnly.
Htaere found herself staring at an empty bed where Kerrie *used* to
be. "I do not understand. They would not have let her go" she remarked,
looking about. "Perhaps we should inquire..." and with that, she moved
off back down the corridor to one of the kiosks where a medical droid
was inputting records and things of that nature. "Excuse us. We are
looking for Major Kiley. Could you tell us where she has been sent?"
The surgical droid swiveled its head to look at Htaere, processing
her request by accessing the medical records stored within its head.
"Patient inquiry. Kiley, Major Kerrie... One moment... One moment...
Patient has been transferred to room of patient Rodney, Admiral
Claudius..." the robotic voice of the droid informed them, before
continuing down the corridor to complete his rounds.
Htaere froze, looking to Jelena and debating what excuses she had to
offer for diverting. After mulling it over, she dismissed the notion as
true cowardice, and looked to Jelena. "Very well then, shall we?" She
owed Kerrie the comfort if nothing else. And sooner or later she would
have to address things with Claudius, no matter how uncomfortable.
In a private medical suite not too far from the trauma center,
Claudius Rodney lay uncomfortably in a hospital bed. He was wearing a
simple, white t-shirt with his last name printed upon his chest. He had
been confined to the bed by Doctor Tohan, but was eager to get back to
work and had managed to have Lieutenant Ames sneak him in a datapad
with the daily reports. He sighed, studying it, hoping that he would
soon be discharged. His hands moved to his arm, scratching at the
intravenous line, and flashing an angry glance towards the 2-1b surgical
droid that maintained a constant watch over him.
Through Doctor Tohan's meddling, Kerrie had been transferred the
short distance down the hall to the Admiral's private room. There she
lay silently in her bed, trying not to look over at him as he seemed
busy and lost in his datapad. She wished she could simply be released
and return to her own quarters to recover. She hated being in the
medical bay. Something about it unsettled her, and being next to the man
who put her there seemed a bit too much to handle
Jelena was blissfully ignorant as to the true source of Kerrie's
injury and did not think it anything out of the ordinary that Kerrie had
been put with her father. Perhaps, she thought, he even requested it to
make her more comfortable. Unaware of Htaere's body language or
discomfort, she bounded down the hall, eager to check on the both of
them. As she strode into the room she observed her father studying a
datapad and shook her head angrily at him. "You're supposed to be
resting," she said as she snatched the datapad from his mitts.
Htaere followed at a slower pace, pausing just outside the threshold
to collect herself and draw a deep breath. Finally she stepped in her
eyes lifting slowly towards her estranged husband, not knowing what to
expect. Looking at him, she took him in as she had when they'd first
met, as if taking in a stranger.
"Htaere!" Claudius exclaimed excitedly as his attention turned
quickly to his wife. He had not seen her in some time and had begun to
wonder why she had not come to visit him. He sprung from his bed,
despite the doctor's orders to remain in it. He moved towards her,
pulling the medical device he was connected to via the intravenous along
with him. He smiled happily and wrapped his arms around her in a firm,
loving embrace. Physically he seemed much his old self, looking better
than he did the last time she saw him in almost every regard.
Htaere tensed for a moment, surprised at the sudden jolt of activity.
As he held her, he tugged at her senses, his smell, the way he felt, the
beating of his heart. Unable to resist, her arms encircled him as well,
savoring the moment for all its warmth and serenity. In the back of her
mind, the dull nagging sensation of his crime was trying to push its way
back to the fore, showering her efforts with doubt and discomfort. She
let go of him, pulling away slightly. "Claudius..." she responded.
Unaware that Doctor Tohan had informed her of his actions, he seemed
a bit taken aback when she withdrew from his grasp. "Is...something
wrong?" he asked her as he noticed her pulling away. His eyes moved over
her body, thinking that she looked much better, but her facial
expression troubled him and he began to sense that something was wrong.
Her cloudy grey pools stared in response, stunned that he seemed so
casual and haphazard regarding everything that had happened.
"Claudius..." she shook her head slowly. "Another time perhaps..." she
suggested quietly regarding an explanation. "You are not supposed to be
up are you?" she asked, shifting course.
"Please don't go..." Claudius said sadly, not entirely sure what the
matter was. He stepped back slightly, returning towards his bed and
setting upon it. He looked over towards her, his heart fluttering,
looking over towards her in confusion.
"I am not leaving" she said following him towards the bed. "I only
meant that..." she let it go, gazing at the older man with a dolefulness
of her own. Her eyes trailed over him, scrutinizing every hair in search
of the monster that Tohan had revealed him to be. Even now she found it
unbelievable. The very hands that had caressed her on Alderaan were the
same hands that beat Kerrie within an inch of her life the night before.
She simply could not wrap her head around such a concept. "Has your
physician yet estimated when you will be discharged?" she said making
"I hope to be discharged this afternoon," Claudius explained to her
as his eyes darted over towards the datapad Allegra had brought him. He
needed to get back to work before the situation worsened. "I feel ...
well..." he said as he lay back down on the uncomfortable bed, hoping to
placate her with his good behavior.
She nodded, still holding Booki. "Excuse me for a moment please" she
said quietly, moving around the bed to the other side of the room.
Htaere reached for the curtain, drawing it between the two beds and
allowing some privacy on Kerrie's end. She smiled towards Kerrie "Hello"
she whispered. "I brought you something that I hope will cheer your
spirits." She produced Booki at once, extending him carefully out to the
Kerrie gasped as the curtain was drawn back, still slightly jumpy as
a result of her recent attack. But a sense of relief and excitement fell
upon her mimicked Human visage when she saw Htaere had returned, but
when she saw her 'booki' she began to squeal in absolute delight. "You
brought him?" she asked excitedly as she reached for the stuffed animal,
taking it into her arms and offering it a big hug. She sighed very
contently as she smothered the fake creature against her chest in a
Across the room, Claudius cringed when he looked towards Kerrie, the
bruises a living reminder of his crime. When he watched her with the toy
he realized he was dealing with a more complicated creature than he gave
her credit for, making it all the more painful. He turned his head from
the scene, no longer able to watch.
"Is there anything else you would like me to bring you for the
duration of your stay?" she asked in earnest, pleased to see that the
stuffed bantha had had a more miraculous effect then she could have
"Hopefully my stay won't be long enough to require anything more,"
Kerrie said optimistically as she settled back into the bed to the
snuggle with her beloved stuffed animal. Her eyes glanced over towards
the Admiral, realizing how uncomfortable he was by her presence, not
entirely sure why the doctor had assigned her here. "How are you doing?"
she asked quietly, her eyes moving away from Claudius to look her in the
Htaere mulled it over, debating her own thoughts and feelings in
earnest. "I am...well, thank you" she said. "I shall leave you to relax
now. Please let me know if there is anything you require further" she
offered to Kerrie before disappearing around the curtain and moving back
to Claudius' hospital bed. She evaluated him again, seeing the broken
parts of him, her features softening.
"How is she doing?" Claudius asked as his eyes remained focused on
Kerrie, even as Htaere approached. What he had done to her had changed
him. It was not something he could simply be forgiven for, and even if
she did forgive him ... he would never forgive himself. By now he had
suspected Htaere learned of what had occurred, and in a strange sense it
made him feel relieved. There would be no secrets between them.
Htaere took a seat on the edge of the bed. "She is improving
splendidly" she replied in a soft voice. Her smoky-hued pools lifted to
his face, watching him intently. "Have you spoken to her yet?"
"No. I haven't had a chance," Claudius said disappointedly as he
looked towards the floor to avoid making eye contact with either of
them. "I'm not sure what I'd say..." he admitted, his index finger
tracing imaginary patterns in the sheet as his nerves began to grow.
Finally, he looked up at her and there were tears welling in the corner
of his tired eyes. "...you know?" he asked, not feeling the need to say
"You could start with an apology, Claudius" she answered in a soft
voice. "You will know what to say" she added, giving his hand a gentle
squeeze. "In the meantime, I do believe it best for you to refrain from
the consumption of alcohol."
"All of the alcohol has already been removed from our suite,"
Claudius explained to her as a tear began to flow from his left eye and
run down his cheek, staining his face. "It was so horrible..." he
confessed to her as the tears began to flow like a Naboo waterfall.
"What have I done..." he began to repeat as he moved towards Htaere,
burying his face in her side as he began to lose his composure. As he
clung to her, he began to shake, unable to contain himself.
She nudged closer to him, slipping her arms around him and holding
him tightly. She did not let go this time until he did, letting him have
the moment where the growing hysteria had finally reached a head and
ruptured, providing the release he so desperately needed. "There there
Claudius. It will be alright" she offered in a soothing and melodic
Kerrie could see what had happened and at first she thought the
Admiral was injured. Despite her pain, she struggled from the bed and
began to slowly walk towards the two of them. "Is he in pain, milady?"
she asked as she came over towards the bed, unable to understand what
was going on. In her mind, what he did was an acceptable form of
punishment for her failure, and believed he had nothing to be sorry for.
Htaere looked towards Kerrie, offering a motherly and kind smile,
appreciative of her concern and thankful for her good nature. "He is
indeed..." she answered, "..he is indeed."
Kerrie reached out and placed a hand upon the Admiral's shoulder, not
sure what was wrong. In fact, no one had even alerted her as to why he
was in the medical bay and she had not been permitted access to any
reports since emerging from the bacta tank. Even after all he had done
to her, his wellbeing was still on the forefront of his mind as she
attempted to comfort him. "Shall I get Doctor Tohan?" she asked Htaere,
feeling very powerless to render any assistance.
Claudius maintained an uncontrollable series of tears that continued
to flow from his eyes directly into Htaere's finely crafted attire. When
Kerrie placed her hand upon him, he sighed in relief, the welcome
gesture offering some consolation for the pain he was feeling right now.
He would never be the same man. His crime would live with him always.
"That will not be necessary" she replied. "The Admiral is undergoing
a metamorphosis. It will not be a pleasant experience, but when it is
over, the enlightenment of such a change will bring unfortold personal
"Oh. I am sorry, Milord," Kerrie said as she moved her hand slightly
down the Admiral's back to comfort him. She was not familiar with
Htaere's meaning and speculated that it was a painful procedure and she
did her best to console him. She sighed tiredly, finding it difficult to
stand. Weakly she offered the Admiral her booki to hold, naively hoping
it would comfort him the way it did her.
Claudius looked up at her, his eyes red from the strain of the tears.
"No. I am..." he struggled through it, inhaling deeply as he tired to
regain his composure. "I am sorry, Maj...Kerrie," he said to her as he
accepted her booki, looking over it very attentively. At one point she
was a little girl ... in many ways, she still was.
Htaere sat back a bit and simply basked in the glow of such an
exchange between the two, the particular dynamic of this one unlike
anything she had ever seen before. She was simply flabbergasted.
Claudius was worlds different already, and she couldn't help but think
that perhaps this time, he really could see the err of his ways
regarding Kerrie's treatment. She regularly spoke out against it, but
felt in part that most of his resignations were largely appeasements
simply to keep her interference at bay.
Kerrie lowered her head and broke the awkward eye contact between
them, unable to face the tears that were flowing from his eyes, and
feeling ones begin to form in her own eyes. "I will not fail you again,
milord. I swear it..." she said as her hands began to tighten, the anger
of her failure being the dominate emotion, bearing no hostility towards
Claudius looked up at her and reached his hand out towards her,
gently caressing the area of her face that he bruised. "It is I who have
failed you, Kerrie," he explained to her, through the tears, as he found
the strength to be a man and face her. "...and it is I who will not let
it happen again," he concluded as he nodded his head in love and
affection for her.
Htaere kept her distance, letting the two finally connect on some
level that had never before been breached. She resisted the urge to nod
in approval at Claudius' redemption. She stood, drifting silently
towards the door and leave them set up to have the discussion of their