Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Christopher Levy and Jaina Roberts.
Zero years before the Battle of Yavin (35:3:6) in the Brentaal system: Warspite.
Major Kerrie Kiley, Admiral Claudius Rodney, and Ve'rail.

The Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Warspite soared majestically above the planet Brentaal IV, having recently returned to its standard patrol after picking up a shuttle containing a prisoner one of the picket ships detailed. The middle-aged woman had been led to the cold, dark brig deep within the bowels of the massive warship. The room was cold and afforded little light. There was one cold metal table and two metal chairs, both designed to make the occupant feel as if they were in a dungeon. There was no force field through which the guards could observe. No two way mirrors to allow a team of operatives to investigate. There was no monitoring equipment either. This was a room where things occurred that no one was meant to see. This was a room where someone went to never be seen again.

In the corner of the room what appeared to be a plain looking Human female in her mid-twenties stood, leaning her back against the corner of the wall. She wore the distinct black uniform of the Imperial Stormtrooper Corps and rank insignia that would identify her as a 'Major' to those familiar with the system. She had been eyeing the Bothan since she had been brought aboard, looking at her with contempt as she pretended to disdain all aliens brought aboard, despite the fact that she was secretly one. Her fingers twitched inside of her black, leather glove as she held her hand over her weapon. She had heard tales about the Bothan SpyNet before, but she had never encountered one in person. "Comfy?" she asked rather smugly, her refined accent carefully practiced after years of study.

Piercing blue eyes looked toward the major. Chin rose in defiance. She had not spoken at all since her capture and had no intention of doing so now. Bothans had endured torture and enslavement and she was prepared for her share. Given her time with the Spynet, she was overdue for such actions. Her luck was renowned at game tables as well as among her fellow officers. All that changed in what seemed like milliseconds. *Never lose sight of the danger*. She had warned young spies over and over, yet she fell into the trap so easily. Even the best had their bad days. Unfortunately, her bad day would no doubt be her last.

When Admiral Claudius Rodney received word that a Bothan prisoner had been brought aboard he felt supremely confident, wondering if perhaps this was the break he needed to turn things around in the Ringali Shell. There were thousands of Bothans and he never for a moment entertained the possibility of it being the one few knew so many years ago. As the door open he stepped inside the dark room, his eyes immediately darting to Major Kiley with a subtle nod. He caught a glance of the Bothan for a moment through the dim fluorescent light and immediately his moments froze. For a Human, Bothans were quite hard to distinguish, particularly at that distance and in these lighting conditions. He swallowed, Adam's apple bobbing in his throat as he took steps forward to examine her more close. Oh no, was all he could think as he stopped dead in his tracks, silent.

Her eyes shifted from the young female human to the Imperial who had entered. It had been over two decades and several lifetimes but she knew the man instantly. Fortunately the thick white facial fur hid any sign of recognition outside of a widening of those blue eyes. She hoped that the dim lighting would serve as cover. She could tell that Claudius had the same realization. Eyes shifted back to the female. She could not help but smirk, exposing glowing white teeth, left canine easily seen. If she were to die, at least she could do some harm to the fiendish Empire. "Claudius, what an interesting surprise." Her accent showed years within the core worlds. And Imperial accent is what it was now called, though back in their youth, it was more an accent of Coruscant.

"Leave us," Claudius said quickly towards Kerrie, thrusting his right hand towards the door without so much as looking at the young lackey. He could not allow her to hear any more than she already had. He shook his head at Ve'rail, genuinely displeased that she had used his name in front of a subordinate.

Kerrie arched an eyebrow as she heard the woman speak Claudius' given name, but knew better than to speak out about it. When the hand motion was given she slipped from the room like an obedient hound, standing as a watchful sentry outside of the room to bar anyone else access.

Once Claudius felt secure he immediately moved towards the table, sitting down in the chair and looking directly in front of her. His eyes roamed over every inch of her body, looking for any signs of injury, but thankfully he saw none. She had aged, but so had she. The fur hid any wrinkles better than his tired Human skin could. She had broken his heart during the Clone Wars. His first love ... did one ever get over a first love?

"She reeks of Bothawui. You no longer." She too looked over her former lover. At times the hatred seemed to fade while she remembered their time together. None of that mattered though, he had chosen to support an evil tyrant. And from what she'd been able to discover of his history with the Imperials, had become one himself.

Claudius shook his head at her, wondering what she had gotten herself into her. He was already thinking about ways he could help her ... was he really so pathetic that he would risk everything for someone he had not seen in over twenty years? He moved towards one of the storage containers and pulled out a box of cigarras and a small lighter, mostly used by the interrogators to bribe their guests ... and in some cases, to torture them. He also grabbed a bottle of Alderaan Ruge, which they had shared many years ago. He slid the pack of cigarras down in front of her and offered to light one for her. "Still slowly killing yourself with these?" he asked jokingly as he sat two glasses down on the table as well.

"Everyone has to die, Claudius, some of us do so with honor." Only a slight glance was given to the objects. Long ago she fully trusted this man but the years had changed them both, more than just physically. For all she knew both the liquor and the cigarras were poisoned, though she had her doubts that no matter how cold hearted the man before her had become, he would not kill her with such a lack of flair.

"Well I need a drink," Claudius admitted to her, in a position of weakness as he shook his head at her again. He pulled the stopper from the bottle of Alderaan Ruge and poured two glasses, spilling some on the table in his haste to get his hands on the drink. Before he even sat back down his hand was on the drink, taking a quick sip of it and letting out a deep sigh. " to spy on me, Ve'rail?" he asked very quietly, his eyes struggling to maintain eye contact with the woman he once thought he'd marry.

She shook her head as the great commander struggled to get alcohol into his system. "Has your wife brought you to such a pathetic state, or your Emperor?" Though she tried to keep her emotions in check, there was a obvious disdain for both wife and emperor that was easily noted in her voice.

"Don't get me started on my wife..." Claudius said to his former love as she shook his head, realizing the terrible position he had put himself in with her. He sighed as he grabbed the chair, dragging the metal legs across the deckplating of the ship to create an awkward screech. He laughed at himself, not having the energy to lift it off the ground. Tiredly, he sat down in the chair, directly next to her, turning his face to look at her in the eyes. He had spent years lost in those eyes. Could he prevent it from happening it again?

"Sitting so close to an enemy combatant? Did they not instruct you on interrogations, Claudius? Or are you going to seduce secrets out of me?" She could not help but stare into his eyes. So often she'd thought about 'what could have been' and never thought they would ever see each other again. Yet here he was, so close that she could hear his heart beating. So close that she knew the man was suffering. "What have they done to you?"

"Let's be honest, Ve'rail..." Claudius said to her as he broke his eye contact, staring down at the floor instead. He considered pouring another glass, but that might lead to be complications. "...if anyone in our relationship was seducing secrets out another it was you," he reminded her, his mind going back to fierce nights of passion during the earliest days of the war. He had only just entered the Navy and the holorecordings of him back then seemed so distant it felt like he was watching someone else's life. He swallowed again, trying to force some saliva into his mouth as she shifted away from her uncomfortably.

"Is that what they have made you believe?" For a moment her features lightened, voice showing sadness, but she quickly regained control, shown by her chin raising again to display the regalness she was known for. "You did not answer my question. You suffer and not just from seeing me. What have they done to you?"

Claudius squirmed uncomfortably as she asked the question, not knowing if he could trust her. She was a Bothan Spy and she had ran out on him before, leaving him a broken a mess. Only the sudden urgency of the Clone Wars had allowed him to focus and find a purpose in his life and launch a career. Would it have been the same if they had remained together? He doubted it. "It is ... difficult..." he explained to her without going into much detail, his shaky hand moving towards the glass again.

She placed her hand over his, stopping him from taking the glass and therefore another drink. "Stop this. I will not allow you to become some staggering drunk in my sight." Yes, she had the kind of personality that allowed her to say such things while being the prisoner. The feel of his hand under hers brought back even more memories. White thumb, lacking the thickness of fur of most of the rest of her body, rubbed along Rodney's hand.

Claudius shuddered as her hand intertwined with his, the feel of her paw rubbing against him causing his entire body to shudder. It was quite soothing. The kind of attention he had not received in a long time. All of the memories immediately came rushing through his mind and he panicked. He stood quickly, but left his hand hanging in her grasp. The chair slid back behind him as he stood, his aged body starting to tremble. He wanted to run out of the room and order her release ... but he could not bring himself to take a step forward. He had not seen her in so long and he could not just leave like this.

She was surprised at the shuddering of the Imperial officer. How had he hid this weakness from the cold-hearted superiors that prowled the empire looking for ways to become more powerful. Pulling her hand back, she too stood. It seemed that she would have to be the strong one. "I am prepared for my death, Claudius. What I did I did for freedom; for love of life of all species."

"You know I could never order your death..." Claudius admitted as he turned his head towards her again. His eyes locked with hers and he sighed, realizing how beautiful she still looked. His right hand moved up slowly, caressing softly the fur that covered her right cheek. His hand shook as he did so, reliving countless times he had done that same caress after hours of passionate lovemaking in his youth. At this age, he was lucky for even a few brief moments of passion.

She leaned into his hand, lids shutting over her blue eyes to hide tears that had formed as well as to aid in remembering the wonderful life they had once shared. Instinctively she moved closer to him, wanting to feel his breath, his heartbeat. Her hand lifted, caressing his cheek as her eyes opened. "I am the enemy."

"Only if you choose to be..." Claudius said as he lowered his head, turning his cheek into her face as he softly rubbed his face against hers. He could still remember the first time they met in that little dive on Coruscant. At the time he had never considered a relationship with an alien species, but he soon learned from her that they had a lot to offer. "There is no war in this room," he said softly, his voice starting to crack as he considered his next actions carefully.

"Outside of this room there is a great war. sorry for bringing you danger when you entered. I figured if I were to die, I might as well take you with me." She stepped back, knowing that if they remained close everything would be that much harder. "We are on opposite sides. We have been for a long, long time." Looking up at him, she frowned. "It is said that you are a monster. Although I had doubts that this was possible, you must still be that monster, Claudius. There is no way for us to continue."

"Monster?" Claudius repeated sadly as he broke eye contact, shifting his body so that his back would turn to her. "I am no monster..." he told her, lowering his head and shaking it dejectedly. "They killed a thousand of my men last week Va'rail ... and over a hundred civilians..." his body began to shake as he considered the enormity of the losses. He had landed those men there, taken an oath to keep them safe and had failed ... miserably. "They are terrorists..." he said angrily as he tried to clear the images of the horror from his mind.

"Your Emperor has brought them to that. He and his henchmen must be stopped. *Your* Empire wants the destruction of all but the human race. I am certain this very ship has killed thousands. And why? Because they chose not to live under an evil ruler as you have chosen...and which has taken its toll on you. Shaking? Drinking? This is not the man I knew and loved."

"The Emperor ended the war and brought peace and order to the galaxy," Claudius reminded her, trying to justify his actions in her eyes. He knew it would be impossibly, and he slowly began to walk towards the nearby bulkhead. He let out a dejected sigh, resting his head firmly upon the wall of the cell and slouched for a moment, trying to regain his composure. "I'll let you go if you promise return to this region..." he told her through a deep sigh, realizing it was an act of treason.

"You would commit treason for me? One who brings unrest to the paradisiacal peace of your empire?" Of course she was scoffing at his idea of the Empire. Death for all but humans was peace? Order was slavery. She looked down for a long moment before finally looking at him. "Come with me."

"I would do anything for you, Ve'rail..." Claudius said as he turned back around to face her, tears now visible in his eyes as he spoke. He moved back towards her, a deliberate movement with each step. He came to a stop directly in front of her, lowering his head slightly as his eyes locked on hers. His arms moved around her body slowly, attempting to draw her in close against him. "I cannot leave my responsibilities..." he said sadly, shocked at himself for even considering it. His breathing was growing heavier, his heart pounding more forcefully. "Can there not be a truce ... at least for one night?" he asked her sadly, finding it more difficult by the moment to be near her again.

She moved closer, resting her head against his chest. When he spoke of a truce, she looked up at him, sighing heavily. "If you are found out, they will kill you along with me. Already the woman...who is not human...knows. Do you trust that she will not betray you even now?"

His arms tightened around her, as if somehow if he drew her close enough he could just hold on to her forever. "She can be trusted," Claudius reassured her as his hands moved deeper into her back, kneading his fingers into her back. He used to claw into that fur as he erupted in passion, but it was a different time with a different war and he was a different man. "They may already be trying to kill me..." he confessed to her, having never broached the topic with anyone else before.

"Then why stay? I can offer you refuge." Her hands moved to his arms, squeezing them. "I can stop the shaking. Can make you the man you were. Come with me."

"I have a family. They would be unjustly punished if I were to just leave..." Claudius admitted to her as he moved his face against hers slowly, her fur once again colliding with his cheek again. "Why don't you stay here ... help me sort out this mess..." he implored as his embrace seemed unwilling to relent.

"I am not human. I would be treated worse than if I were a prisoner. It is how your kind keeps *order*. Yes, even though she loved him still, she would not falter on her political ideas. And the thought of him having a family made it easier to throw her views in his face.

"Many of those species betrayed the Republic during the Clone Wars..." Claudius reminded her, hating to dwell on the past. It seemed they were ideologically opposed, but he could not bring himself to hate her. "...I would protect you," he added, his face turning into hers as he placed a tender kiss upon her fur covered cheek. He had not even realized he had done it. It was instinct and familiarity overcoming him.

"Protect me? I am your enemy. It is my duty to do all I can to see that you and yours fail. How can you protect me, Claudius? Do you think that I would so easily give up on freedom?" The kiss made it more difficult to say the things she said but she had always been the more practical of the two. She could not allow that to change now. "Besides, I am certain your wife would object."

The argument reminded him of their youth together and a fire was lit deep inside of him that he had not felt in many years. "You will never be my enemy," he stated emphatically as he moved his face towards hers. His eyes closed slowly as he placed a firm, somewhat forceful kiss upon her lips. He had crossed the line, but the memories were just too overwhelming now.

The kiss was returned, stirring passion within her that she hadn't felt since their time together. As much as she wanted it to continue, she knew both of them would be killed should they be discovered. And knew also that theirs was a love that could not withstand the Empire. "We can make it look like you were captured."

"Why tear down the entire government and send the galaxy into anarchy?" Claudius asked her as he kept his face only centimeters from her, breathing directly into her mouth. Oh how he could smell her again ... he had never forgotten that scent ... awakening to it in the middle of the night sometimes. "The Empire is imperfect because it is made up of imperfect beings. We can fix it," he said to her as his hands moved down, squeezing at the bottom of her back as he pushed forward against her.

"That is what the Alliance is doing. How can you not see that?" She had to be strong for both of them. Visions of him with his human wife kept her from fully submitting to her desires. "You mourn the loss of a thousand humans. What about the hundreds of thousands of non-humans that are enslaved and killed? There is no place for them in your empire."

Claudius knew all too well what she was saying, having had to rescue his friend Pilaq Tohan from the clutches of the Empire on Ithor. He shook his head at her and lowered his head in defeat, burying his head in her shoulder and starting to cry as he lost his composure, breaking down in front of his first love.

"Outside of these cold metal walls is a galaxy of diversity, Claudius. Yes, we can fix the Empire, but not from inside." This was all too hard. Her passions and desire for this man were overcoming her logic. Her heart was winning over her head. After licking her lips, she kissed the top of his head while petting his back, trying to comfort him as best she could.

Claudius slumped against her exhaustedly, having missed her since the day she slipped out on him without so much as a note. He never learned why and was not going to ask now. He could feel her heart beating against his chest and it was the only thing that had soothed him for quite some time. He shuddered against her, his hands moving further down still. Laying upon her butt, he gave the cheeks a firm squeeze, realizing this was probably the last time he would get to see her.

"Come now, where is that monster, that great admiral I have heard so much about?" Her voice was soft and soothing with a hint of playfulness. She was trying to comfort him, but how does one comfort one who stands for everything that is wrong? "We must keep our heads and figure out what we can do."

"I am no monster..." Claudius said as he lifted his head off her shoulder, having stained it with enough of his tears. " great admiral, either. Not even a great man. Just a man..." he admitted, very honestly with her. There was never any fooling her. Never any point lying. She saw right through it every time. His body trembled against hers, the passion he was feeling towards her starting to build. He had dreamed of her for years after she left and no one had ever watched her skills as a lover to his great disappointment.

"That is not true. The man I fell in love with was a great man." A hand cupped his chin, lifting his face toward her. "And do not let anyone tell you otherwise."

"That man died a long time ago..." Claudius said sadly as his eyes looked right through her into nothingness. So much had happened to him, including the death of his first wife who he had met while still nursing the wounds from his breakup with her.

"That is not true. I feel him in you, Claudius. I feel your love and passion for me still. He is hidden behind this uniform; behind his family." She leaned closer and kissed his lips again. It couldn't be helped. Seeing him in this state just made her love him all the more.

As the kiss broke, Claudius pulled his face back and examined every detail of her beautiful face. "Then let me take this uniform off and have just one more night with you..." he pleaded, his body shaking against hers as he wanted nothing more than to experience their bodies connecting again. He had never forgotten the feeling ... he would carry it to the grave.

"How do you know that I am not just trying to seduce secrets out of you?" Hazy eyes looked at him, studying his features. They had changed over the years as humans tended to do. In each crease she could see stress and sorrow. If only she hadn't left him. If only she'd been able to convince him that his views were wrong. Perhaps...

"I have no secrets," Claudius sadly admitted to her as his hands continued to roam over her body, exploring her in the same way that he did when they first met. "I am a doddering old man sent here to babysit a garrison. They tell me nothing..." he sighed as he shook his head, realizing he had not even shared this information with his family. She had only been back in his life for a few hours, but already he was telling her his innermost thoughts.

"And yet you are loyal to them. Why?" White hands moved to undo his jacket, trembling in anticipation. This was hardly the ideal place for such an act of love but she didn't care. It had been too long since she'd shared herself with her love.

"It is all that I know... All that I've known for two decades... It becomes a habit..." he slowly explained, not just to her, but also to himself. His hands moved down slowly and reached for the buckle of his belt, unfastening it and letting t drop to the floor. A moment later his hands moved to his trousers and slipped them down around his waist, exposing himself to her for the first time in over twenty years. His body had changed and he was embarrassed. The muscles were faded and there were wrinkles and scars. He tried to smile, but soon looked down worrying he could no longer satisfy her.

She undid her uniform top, letting it fall behind her. Eyes were fixed on his until he looked downward. She followed his body, pausing at each scar, a hand touching them before returning to her belt and pants so that they could slip down and be stepped out of. They were both naked now. She moved closer to him, pressing her lips to his.

Claudius had all but forgotten what it felt like to feel her warm fur against his cold, naked flesh. He quivered, almost falling into her as he let every heavenly soft fiber tease at his aching flesh. Just the lightest touch of her angel white coat against him was enough to send him into the ecstasy and he very nearly lost his composure, feeling an eruption quickly building. Perhaps it had been too long. "Ve'rail..." he cried out like the helpless boy she once knew long ago before galactic strife tore apart their lives.

She was lost in his touch. His warm flesh against her was like nothing else she had ever experienced in life. After she'd left him, all her time was consumed with the Spynet. She'd pushed physical pleasure and the accompanying emotions to the back of her being, seemingly locking them there until now.

Claudius' hands roamed over her fur covered body, tracing their way up her stomach and moving towards her mounds and giving them a firm squeeze just to make sure they were still real. He was disappointed at how well her body had kept up compared to his, but he assumed hers had considerably less stress involved than his.

Her fur covered most of her aging. That and the fact that the fur was gray hairs really. Male bothans were prone to losing hair as they aged. She was fortunate to still have a thick, rich coat that covered most of her body. The body that was now pressed to his, feeling his excitement swelling near her awaiting and wettening folds.

Claudius turned his back to her suddenly, his body shaking visibly as he looked towards the ground. He was not thinking clearly, unsure of what he was doing. "Ve'rail, is this wrong?" he asked her softly, backing up slightly to rest his back against her front with a deep sigh. He was married and had children. Was an affair with an old flame worth risking it all?

"Yes my love, it is very wrong." Her hands kneaded his shoulders as her body pressed against his, feeling his heartbeat and hearing his breathing. "But that has never stopped us before. This may be our last chance."

His head tilted slightly as her fur-covered hands began to work into his flesh, causing his body to melt softly against hers. "I've wanted this for over twenty years..." he admitted to her, the feeling of her hands upon him causing a fire to build in his loins that had not been ignited since his youth. His body was taking over, forcing his mind into the back seat.

"As have I. Leaving you was the worst day of my life, Claudius. I have regretted it for so long." Hips pushed against him, desiring to be closer to him than was possible in their current position.

"Touch me like you used to..." Claudius pleaded with her, sounding very much like the young man she knew so long ago. As he spoke the words he knew he was giving into temptation, no longer able to control himself or suppress his lust for her. His libido had one and his sense of reason was all but gone.

Claudius lay there motionless for several long moments, deep breaths escaping his tired lungs as he struggled to regain his fortitude. "I cannot move..." he admitted sadly, struggling to find the strength to move even a muscle at this given time. His head moved towards her shoulder, using it as a comfortable pillow as he rested in post-orgasmic bliss, a smile as wide as the Outer Rim glued to his face.

"Mmmmm no need to move. I like you where you are." Of course the table might object. Her insides were still quivering, causing her to tighten around his cock. Her breathing was getting more in check, though it would take time before she would really want to move either. Hands managed to reach his back, petting along his muscles.

"What have we done..." Claudius asked regretfully as he finally found the strength to remove his body from her's and shifted to lay beside her, still tiredly gasping for air as he looked up at the bulkhead of the small room aboard the ship. He was cold and his naked body began to shiver, the fluids that covered most of his thighs beginning to chill. It was very cold in space.

A look of concern pushed away the bliss of her expression. She sat up slightly, leaning her head against one of her paws which was leaning against the table via her elbow. "Done? Do you regret our actions, Claudius?"

Claudius turned his head to look at her and did his best to correct the situation. "Regret is the wrong word..." he told her as his hand reached for hers, gripping it firmly in a loving embrace. He swallowed, his Adam's apple bobbing visibly in his throat.

She squeezed his hand but then released it and sat up completely. A heavy sigh escaped, still showing that she'd not fully caught her breath yet. "You will regret it though. You have a..." She didn't even want to say the word. When she found out that he'd married, she wanted nothing else but to kill them both. Of course that was a knee jerk reaction, though the anger, the jealousy was still there. "...*wife*. The Hapan slut."

Claudius listened to what she said, but cringed when she referred to his wife as a 'slut.' He shook his head at her dejectedly as he sat up on the table and moved towards the alcohol. "She is not a bad person... She is just..." he stopped himself from going any further, and instead focused on pouring the drink. His body was still coated in sweat and his breath was still irregular. Again, he offered the pack of cigarras and lighter to her along with a drink as he began to sip on the Alderaan Ruge. What he had done was beginning to settle in.

She dressed before doing anything else. His words were responded with a scoff, though her head was down so that she could make sure her uniform was properly buttoned. After dressing she sat at the table and took the glass of ruge that had been offered. "You should not drink, Claudius. It is making you ill."

Claudius had almost forgotten he was still naked when he watched her dress. The old man lowered himself, unleashing a tired groan as he plucked his undergarments off the floor and awkwardly began dressing. "I should not do a lot of things..." he explained to her between groans as he hopped on one leg to begin putting his trousers back on. He was dressing with all the grace of a teenager who just lost his virginity and was worried his parents would soon return home.

She watched him dress, shaking her head and suppressing a chuckle. "Does your wife not tend to you? Does she not see how you are suffering?"

"She does not always notice things..." Claudius commented as he began to fasten his tunic against his heaving chest. His hands moved down to fasten his belt buckle. If not for the fact that he was drenched in sweat and reeked of sex ... he would almost be a presentable line officer.

"How can she not?" She narrowed her eyes, taking on a sort of maternal role. No one was *allowed* to harm Claudius. Though she would probably be responsible for his ship blowing up or some other form of his demise, that was business. On a personal level, she wanted to scratch the Hapan witch's eyes out for not caring enough to see that he was falling apart. "When was your last physical?"

"I just had one about a week ago," Claudius informed her truthfully, but what he did not tell her was how grave his situation actually was. He was exhausted and had collapsed twice while on duty, one of which nearly resulted in his falling to the death. He took a deep breath, sampling another sip of his drink. The alcohol calmed him in the way it did not used to, and he had begun to feel that he needed it to survive.

"And this doctor told you that you are not well, yes? You cannot lie to me, Claudius. I might not have seen you in over two decades, but I know you better than anyone." She took a sip of her drink. Eyes remained fixed upon his face. "How can this be fixed? Must you retire?"

"I cannot retire and leave things unfinished..." Claudius said weakly as he spun around quickly to make eye contact with her. "I have a family I must protect from the terrorists and I do not trust anyone else to accomplish the mission," he explained to her, moving towards her again to place his arms firmly upon her shoulders, both squeezing them and using them as a support to keep upright.

"Sit. You are going to pass out if you do not." She let a hand caress his cheek for a moment before using that same hand to point at the chair. "If you retire, would your family not be safer? You would no longer be a target."

"Everyone is a target in this way, my dear," Claudius reiterated as he took a seat in the chair, for some reason finding it difficult to catch his breath. Perhaps the sexual encounter was too much for him to bare in his present situation. "The Rebellion murders innocent civilians throughout the galaxy in their bombings," he explained, realizing that twice their attacks had nearly taken the life of his wife.

"The *Alliance against the Empire* has saved countless more lives. Those killed were Imperial sympathizers. A sad part of war but a reality. But that is not the issue here, Claudius. Your health concerns me. Not only that if you fall over dead I will be tortured and killed quicker than previously thought, but *you will die* if you do not take better care of yourself. How can this be fixed?

"I need to find a way to drive the Rebellion from this region..." Claudius explained to her, emphatically nodding his head in stern resolve. "As long as they are here they will continue to threaten the lives of those who are dear to me," he said, his voice growing quiet and trailing off towards the end, his head dropping down as he stared aimlessly at the deckplating.

"So you are still arrogant enough to think that you and your handful of dear *ones*" Yes, the words bothered her but she had chosen their fate years ago. "should remain while millions move? I am glad to see at least that part of you has not decayed with age."

"How did you get caught up with terrorists?" Claudius asked as he looked up at her, his hand moving towards hers with a reassuring squeeze. "When you were young you used to have ideals that you fought for. All these Rebels know is death," he bemoaned, shaking his head with bitter disappointment.

"I could ask you the same question. Your Emperor wants all non-human species to be enslaved. He kills without thinking. He is cold hearted, Claudius. I dare you to deny that. This war is for my life. The lives of my kin. I do not believe that we are the terrorists. There was peace until the Emperor craved more power than the senate could allow. He ordered the death of the Jedi. Many of whom were our friends, Claudius. How can you rationalize that?"

"Many of those same alien species betrayed the Republic and tried to destroy it during the Wars," Claudius explained, rationally as he nodded his head to her several times. "The alien species in the Confederacy killed many of my friends ... including the parents of my adopted daughter," he commented bitterly, the sight of their burnt corpses forever affecting his life. "...and as for the Jedi...they attempted to kill the Emperor. They betrayed the Republic in a bid for their own power," he said with disgust oozing from his lips, shaking his head swiftly as he could no longer look at her.

"Oh Claudius. You knew many of the Jedi. How can you even speak such words. They did not wish power. Our old friends would even mediate our arguments." She chuckled a bit, again shaking her head. "Do you remember when I slapped you because I thought you had called me fat. What was the name of that Jedi..?" Time had taken its toll on memories if not on her physically.

"An old friend once told me it all depends on your point of view," Claudius commented, remembering something one of the Jedi she referenced told him during the Clone Wars. He sighed, realizing there was no way he could convert her to his cause. "That still doesn't address what I do about you..." he commented as his eyes slowly rolled back towards her.

Her grin showed off the pearly white canines that hung much lower than the rest of her teeth. "You have already done me. Are you ready for another round?" She licked her lips, knowing that the poor man might die just thinking about going at it again.

"For you I can always be ready..." Claudius commented as he rose from his seat and turned his attention towards her. His hands began to move over her body, ripping that uniform she had so carefully reapplied from her fur-covered body. All of the arguing and debate had only served to fill him with a passion he had not felt since his youth. "I can go twelve rounds..." he commented as his hands quickly moved to discard the clothing he had just agonizingly struggled to reapply.

She was afraid for the man's health. Hand came up, stopping his from continuing. "Claudius, you will die of a heart attack. Besides, this place is not very comfortable. I would prefer my death not accompany a backache from this table."

Claudius took a step backwards as he was stopped from getting undressed and he began to formulate a plan. "Perhaps... Perhaps... I could somehow get you to my bedroom..." he speculated aloud as he considered the risk involved, but the reward seemed so much greater that he was no longer thinking rationally.

"You said your wife is inattentive. Could she be that uncaring as to not notice another in her husband's bed?" The more she learned of the Hapan, the less she liked her. "Why did you chose someone like her, Claudius? It seems as though she does not even love you."

"It was an arranged marriage..." Claudius finally confessed, as he turned his back to her, not wanting to see her reaction when he finally informed her. He tensed, preparing for the worst possible reaction.

That actually made her feel better. She sighed in relief before speaking. Her voice was more loving than it had been, even during their sexual encounter. "Well, at least that explains why she does not take care of you as you deserve."

"Would you?" Claudius asked, not believing the words as they were escaping his lips. He looked at her, his body trembling and his lip starting to quiver. Was he really considering this?

"Take care of you? Where we married, of course. Need you ask?" Since they'd never discussed why she left, she had never realized that he might have thought it was because she didn't love him.

"I am in an unthinkable situation," Claudius admitted to her as he turned to face her, his lips connecting with the Bothan's in a fiery kiss. He could not stand it anymore. He still loved her.

She returned the kiss, wanting so much for more...again. But she knew they were just prolonging the inevitable. The soft white fur around her fingers trailed along Rodney's face as she looked over each wrinkle, each frown line, each sign that they hadn't been together in over 20 years. "What do we do, Claudius?"

Claudius thought for a long while, doing his best to think up a solution that would keep her safe, but not repeat a past mistake. "I cannot let you go, Ve'rail..." he admitted to her quietly, looking at the floor rather than at her. He could not bare to look her in the eye as he spoke those words.

She frowned and nodded. She was his enemy; a spy for the Alliance. He had to have her killed. Where things switched she doubted that she could prevent his demise. "I...understand, Claudius. At least my last day was spent with my one love."

"No!" Claudius said as he lifted his face to lock eyes with her once again, shaking his head in frantic dismay. "This is not your last day," he told her as he moved his face towards her, kissing softly at the soft white fur that covered her cheek. "I will keep you here. Keep you safe. Keep you with me," he stated quickly, nuzzling his nose against her as he considered what he was doing. "I won't lose you again..." he said as his voice cracked, his possessive nature getting the better of him.

"I will never accept your Empire. You can live with that?" The Bothan in her saw this as opportunity. But she loved this man. He was the only being she had ever loved; ever given herself to. And to be with him for the rest of their lives was a dream come true.

"Just accept me," Claudius pleaded softly, a small tear forming in the corner of his left eye. His body trembled as it clung to her, shaking softly against her as they stood in the cold, empty room. "Let me take you from this place..." he encouraged, his eyes roaming over the darkness of it. So uninviting.

"How could I refuse you?" She took a step closer and wrapped her arms around his waist, letting her head rest on his shoulder. "I love you, Claudius. I have always loved you."

Claudius pulled away, but only to take the time to straighten his uniform in an attempt to make himself presentable. He looked over her as well, his hands awkwardly moving over her in an attempt to cover up the signs of their lust. He laughed softly as he fumbled with the task, his hands only brushing against her uncomfortably and causing to make her look more frumpled.

She laughed at his attempted and shook her head. "Not one of them will notice even if I were to walk out of her unclothed." She fixed his collar and patted down his shoulder. With a swipe of her paw-like hand she set a stray piece of his hair into place. "There now, that is the evil Admiral Rodney of which I have heard such horrid tales."

Claudius walked towards the door and entered the security code that would open it. Stepping into the hallway, he turned towards Major Kiley, but first took a moment to look up and down the corridor. "Major. Clear off the area between here and the turbolift," he ordered quietly as his hand motioned for Ve'rail to move closer to him

Major Kiley flashed a quick glance into the darkened room, not sure what was going on. She kept quiet, lowered her head and moved down the corridor towards the turbolift. Each time an Imperial officer approached she moved like a hawk-bat, pushing them aside and sealing off the passage to allow only the Admiral and his 'companion' access.

Ve'rail moved closer to Rodney, keeping her head up and looking dignified. It seemed the near-human woman did whatever Claudius told her. This made the Bothan feel a bit more at ease. Already she wondered what her life would be like now. And what would happen should Mrs. Rodney appear in her life.

As they made their way down the corridor, Claudius gave the Major a finally nod before punching in his special access code to the turbolift. Escorting her inside, he stepped into the lift and swallowed nervously. He was now in violation of Imperial law, but he could not help himself. He started to sweat and could feel his heart pounding, but it seemed worth it.

She could hear his heartbeat quicken and it troubled her. His sweating only added to her concern. "Perhaps we should stop acting like youngsters and rethink this? Your family will suffer should we be discovered."

"I have made my decision," Claudius said confidently as the turbolift came to a stop at the level of his personal quarters. It was an expansive level with multiple bedrooms, a large living room, and a full kitchen. The suite was empty, however, with his family having relocated to the nearby planet Esseles. It was cold and uninviting now, the laughter of children gone, replaced only with now empty pieces of furniture that were in need of cleaning. Once inside he sighed, letting his body sink downwards as he began to give her a tour.

She moved into the room, noting the lack of cleanliness. It seemed cold and unloving. Well, hopefully she could fix some of that. "So...this is my new home?" She turned, looking at Claudius, her head tilting slightly to the left as she smiled slightly. Home. That was a word she hadn't used in decades.

"Yes. Yes it is," Claudius said as he moved towards the bed, taking a well-needed seat on the edge of the mattress. A loud squeak was heard as he settled in, forcing all of his weight down at once. "I will make funds available for its improvement..." he explained to her with a polite nod. If it had to be a cage, at least let it be a gilded one, he thought.

"Well, a good cleaning would do wonders..." She smirked, letting just a hint of her teeth showing. Moving around the room, she began to explore her new home, sighing contently. "Do I hide when someone comes? Is there a special place to remain hidden?"

"No one has access to the bedroom," Claudius said with a soft laugh as he looked up at her with a deep sense of longing. "As long as you remain in here ... you will be safe," he said as he slid the boots from his tired, aching feet. It had been a long, eventful day filled with unexpected physical activity.

"The bedroom. Well, it is a better view than the cell...ugh...with the exception of that smell." She waved her hand before her snout. "You need to bathe those feet, Claudius." With that said, she moved toward the bathroom in order to prepare a bath for him.

Claudius removed the rest of his uniform and carelessly discarded it one of the chairs giving her time to prepare the bath. He found himself moving towards the refresher after a while, taking just a moment to remove the T-shirt from his chest, and step out of his boxer briefs. He shuddered softly as he stood naked in the small room. Life aboard a starship was very cold.

There would need to be a supply list made so that this could be more romantic in the future. Candles, perhaps some bubbles or bath oil; human skin got rather dry. She stood at the edge of the bed with a wash cloth at the read. "Get in. You need to relax."

Claudius slipped a foot into the bath and groaned loudly as the water was a bit too warm. He breathed in deep before stepping back in, allowing his old, tired flesh to slip in beneath the water. "Ugh..." he groaned softly, leaning his head back as he settled into the tub. Smiling up at her, he tried and relax, but her presence excited him in a way others did not.

Once he was settled in, she wet the cloth with the bathwater. Soap was applied to the cloth and then rubbed into his shoulders and neck in a massaging way, since he was in need of both a good washing and a relaxing massage.

Claudius' head fell forward as she massaged his flesh, causing a long, slow moan of pleasure to escape his tired lips. The stress of his work in command of the Oversector was beginning to wash away. He needed this.

"Well, not only are you filthy but overly tense. Something has to give, Claudius." She continued washing and massaging, lifting one arm to clean it and the accompanying armpit and side of his torso. "This is killing you."

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