Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Liz Dorner and Christopher Levy.
Zero years before the Battle of Yavin (35:2:26) in the Brentaal system: Warspite.
Major Kerrie Kiley, Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca, Vice Admiral Claudius Rodney, Countess Htaere Rodney, Lady Jelena Rodney, Lady Qeio`i Eschuu da Sha`ar, and Doctor Pilaq Tohan.

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 worst.

"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 last night.

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 gait.

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 confessions.

"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 drying.

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 forgiveness.

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 are letting it 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.

" 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. " 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 to shake.

"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 reflection.

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 gratification.

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 are ready."

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 Kerrie.

"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 idle conversation.

"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 major.

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 loving embrace.

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 hoped for.

"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 eye again.

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. " know?" he asked, not feeling the need to say more.

"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 voice.

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 rewards."

"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 him.

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 lives.

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