A new day brought new life to Major
Kerrie Kiley. All of the fear and emotion that had affected her demeanor
last night had vanished, once again replaced with the stern and proper
personality that she forced upon herself when in uniform. Her mimicked
Human face completed the disguise. She was a woman literally
uncomfortable in her own skin. Very few people knew the real 'Kerrie,'
and she intended to keep it that way. However, she had found a mutual
comfort when in the presence of the Lady Htaere and she had allowed her
access into her personal side that she afforded few others. Her arrival
had been strategically timed to avoid catching the Admiral before he
left, she was not quite ready to face him after their encounter of the
night before. It was a beautiful morning and she chose to relish the
feel of the late morning sun on her chameleon-like skin a bit longer
than usual and awaited Htaere outside rather than proceeding inside as
she normally did. Her recent trip
to her homeworld had changed her in many ways, and this was one that
would be noticeable not just to her, but to Htaere as well.
A favorite spot of Htaere's amid the
expansive layout of the Admiral's estate was standing in front of one of
the grand windows looking out from one of the audience halls across the
surrounding gardens and the land beyond. It was here that Htaere stood,
several times a day to watch the roving Stormtrooper patrols, or the way
the glorious warmth and brilliance of the sunlight touched the terrain.
This morning was no different. Htaere wore a light pink kimono with
embroidered stylized thrantas patterned across the pricey silken fabric.
A very simple band of woven gold strands encircled her head, arching
across her forehead so as not to interfere with the amber hued mature
rainbow gem embedded there. Gathering her thoughts and composure, the
youthful and naive heiress shifted from the window, gliding gracefully
through the corridors and spacious halls of the estate until her soft
grey pools located Kerrie in the gardens. She approached the woman
quietly, her dainty bantha hide sandals making the slightest of noises
across the cobblestone terrace. She took up a position behind Kerrie so
as not to disturb her, pleased to see her appreciative of nature.
Kerrie turned around as she heard Htaere
approach. She gave a final adjustment to the tunic of her uniform before
turning around, choosing to meet the challenge of the day with a smile.
"Good morning, Milady," she said cheerfully as she greeted her. "Have
you made any plans for today?" she inquired, wondering what 'adventure'
was in store for them.
Htaere's eyes twinkled as she regarded
the Major intently. The makings of a slight smile were present, but
Htaere's head shook slowly. "I have not. If you have business to tend
to, I shall remain here today if you prefer."
"You are my business at all times,
Milady," Kerrie said in a positive tone. "Though I must confess a quiet
day inside of the compound sounds quite pleasant ... the Admiral kept me
up rather late last night..." Kerrie chided herself for exposing herself
like that. "...but of course you already know that," she concluded
As he had planned and hoped his shuttle
arrival had gone unnoticed until now. Ishamael made his way swiftly from
the landing platform knowing exactly where he was headed. Black boots
hardly made a sound as he moved, all that mattered now was the Lady
Htaere. Spotting her with those crystal like green eyes his swift walk
brought him in her direction. The rest of his attire was of the deepest
blue: pants loose enough not to hinder him, a long sleeve shirt tight
enough to hint at the muscles underneath but not show them off and
finally a cape which billowed out behind him from his swift movements.
Long black hair, which fell to his shoulder seemed to glisten in the
morning light. A look of concentration was in his eyes but a pleasant
smiled rested on his lips as he came to a halt a few feet from the lady
and bent him self in a deep bow of respect before rising again to his
full height. "Milady...I am Ishamael. Forgive my intrusion, however your
mother has sent me to make sure another misfortune fortune does not fall
Htaere's focus snapped to the newcomer,
eyes narrowed ever so slightly, the look of discontent growing over her
attractive face. "My mother?" she repeated, a slight tone of agitation
in her voice. Htaere let it stew in her mind for a handful of heartbeats
before recollecting herself. "I have assured her that my Imperial guard
is quite capable of the task at hand." Htaere's gaze panned towards
Kerrie. "You knew about this?" The look on her face was one of near
Kerrie certainly did not see a move like
this coming. Her mouth hung ajar in both shock and confusion. Her face
turned immediately to stare at the newly arrived Hapan guard, attempting
to size up her new found competition. However, she was so taken aback by
this that she was really in no position to make an assessment. Her
attention then quickly shifted to Htaere, whose words she had barely
understood. Her head shook slightly and she began to snap out of it. The
'oh no you didn't!' expression gone from her face, she took a step back
and addressed her charge. "No Milady," she began quietly, obviously
upset, "This...this is the first I've heard of this. I had no idea." She
quickly pursed her lips and decided it best to just sit back and
determine all of the facts before getting too worked up.
Eyes glancing toward the other woman, he
assumed this was the Imperial guard he was told about. He spoke to the
Lady Htaere, keeping his voice respectful, "Milady, your mother
considered what you said but decided that not enough was being done to
keep you safe. Surely you can understand her concern..."
Htaere inhaled steeply, unhappy with the
arrangement to say the least. She vaguely contemplated how offended the
Admiral could potentially be, but hoped that no 'discussion' would take
place between he and her mother regarding Ishamael's presence. With the
utmost respect to her fiancée...he would lose the battle. "I shall speak
to her myself. In the meantime, may we offer you some refreshments?"
Htaere revisited the role trained into her from birth, the
etiquette-minded trophy piece, all perfect and unwavering.
The initial feeling of being insulted
began to fade from Kerrie's mind, soon replaced by a feeling of failure.
"Maybe Htaere's mother is right," she thought to herself. Despite her
best efforts, and nearly fatal ones at that, the Rebellion had come very
close to Htaere ... perhaps too close. Hoping to go unnoticed, Kerrie
closed her eyes and exhaled deeply, putting aside her pety concerns to
focus on the needs of Htaere. Kerrie clapped two gloved hands together
in a commanding gesture. The nearby staff hurried to and fro busying
themselves to prepare an assortment of beverages and finger foods
appropriate for this time of day. It was no long before the serving
table in the garden was adorned with a variety of refreshments and
delectable foods. Once completed, Kerrie bowed obediently to Htaere,
feeling the need to make herself seem useful more than ever.
He noticed the Lady's reaction to his
arrival along with the news he had brought. He expected that she would
be upset her mother in fact had informed him of it. Surprise took him
for an instant at her change when she offered him the drinks. The smile
was still resting on his lips as he took all of this in. "That would be
wonderful, Milady. I had a long trip from the consortium." Turning his
attention to the other woman he lowered his torso in a slight bow,
nothing as deep as he had given Htaere but still a respectful gesture.
"We have not been introduced formally. I am Ishamael."
Htaere motioned to Kerrie. "Please
forgive my lapse in protocol. This is Major Kiley. She oversees my
personal security" Htaere took the initiative of introducing the two.
"Perhaps she can assist you in familiarizing yourself with procedures."
Kerrie arched her right eyebrow at the
Hapan male, not quite sure what to make of him. Handsome for sure, but
was there substance to go along with this style? Only time would tell.
Despite her hurt feelings, she could not allow herself to embarrass
Htaere. The same polite, courteous smile that was often forced upon her
mimicked Human visage soon appeared. "A please," she said
diplomatically, forcing down the resentment, "I am at your disposal to
provide you with whatever information you require to perform your..."
she paused for a moment, struggling with the final word, "task."
"This must come as a shock to you Major,
but please it is not meant as an insult. The most important thing is the
Lady Htaere's safety there is no shame in taking on help." All said with
that smile still resting on his lips. He hardly noticed the somewhat
buried insult that he had made. The Lady's mother was not pleased not
pleased at all at the level of protection her daughter was given. But
there was no need to inform the Major of that. After speaking he took a
few steps toward the food and drinks eyes glancing over the selections
deciding what to choose.
Htaere recognized that tell-tale Hapan
arrogance in Ishamael. She observed both he and the major casually,
contemplating the tension between the two, and who would come out on
top. Kerrie looked about ready to come to blows as it was. Htaere made a
mental note to make time to speak with her in private and attempt to
smooth things over. She exhaled deeply. "If the two of you will excuse
me, I must attempt to reach my mother" she announced to them both,
almost as a warning for each party behave his and herself respectively
before turning to hasten back into the estate.
Kerrie nodded politely to Htaere before
tightening her body in a rigid fashion and standing guard, taking
seriously the task of guarding the tray of 'nerfs-in-a-blanket' that
were displayed in front of her. Never one to back away from a
competition, she would choose to deal with the individual like she had
done so many before. She knew, deep down, that was more than capable of
the task ... despite what certain Hapans might think.