The purr of
Kaiya Crion could be clearly heard throughout what
made up one of the training rooms at the Void. All
of its various droids had been deactivated, as the
room was hardly being used for its intended purpose.
The small Cathar, who was a very bad influence on
her boyfriend, had made an offer he couldn't refuse.
The two had been spending some time together *alone*
when her nose began to twitch. Her tail followed.
She broke the kiss that they'd been sharing, turning
her head off to the side to sniff hard. It seemed
that El-Nay Darr had returned with a cornucopia of
scents all over her. She even picked up the
delectable Squib on her. She groaned. Then there was
the noticeable scent of Kerrie Kiley. Together, both
women stank like Rodney. "Murrrr... Our party just
got ruined." The Cathar reported, her ears arcing
downward in disappointment.
Thaddeus Updike certainly enjoyed having El-Nay Darr
gone from the Void, even if it was against orders.
He hoped that it would take Commander Kiley a long
time to track down the Mandalorian, so he could
command while she was away ... but now the duo had
come back and things would return to the ineffective
status quo. "Don't worry, Kaiya," he told her, as he
watched from Kerrie and El-Nay from across the
hangar. "Those two are bound to screw up," he said,
before moving his hand to gently slap at her ass.
"No need to push someone off a cliff whose about to
fall," he whispered in her ear, as he knew she was a
bit more aggressive than he. He would but be
surprised if his Cathar lover and subordinate might
get impatient and take matters into her own hands.
felt safe in the confines of her Mandalorian armor.
Painted orange, and slightly worn, it was a relic of
a people whom the galaxy had largely forgotten since
the rise of the Empire. No one, save young Callista
Nilar, appreciated the color she chose, and the
ridicule that came with wearing it was beginning to
gnaw at her, but she would not change. Her reunion
with Kerrie was short lived, and before too long she
had to go attend to reports and to ready the Storm
commandos and mercenaries for more missions from
Inquisitor Thanor and Colonel Zevrin. As a result,
El-Nay found herself alone, and surrounded by
hostiles, in the inhospitable hangar of the void.
squeaked. She turned around to face him. "Maybe a
little persuasion then?" The tip of her tail brushed
underneath his chin playfully. "I'm gonna go see
her, kay?" The Cathar had indeed been thinking about
ways to get Thaddy a promotion. If she made El-Nay
go away, then Kerrie would go too. She had just
witnessed it happen twice in a row. Kaiya went
bounding off. She could smell blood on El-Nay.
Something about the Mandalorian had changed. The way
she was holding herself gave the appearance of
defeat. They hadn't been able to find out what
happened to El-Nay. The only thing Kaiya knew was
that she was hanging around the Grand Moff's family.
upon reaching the Mandalorian. "Hiya, El-Nay.
Where've you been?" Kaiya asked, her amber eyes
focusing in on the woman. "Haven't seen you around
lately." Her curiosity was perked. El-Nay had been
in the Governor's home, but she'd also been to his
ship. All the distinct scents told her exactly where
El-Nay had been, but the whys were all questionable.
had a chance to sit down when the unwelcome presence
of Kaiya Crison appeared at her side. Even before
the altercation on Delaya she had trouble with the
Cathar. Beneath her helmet she was rolling her eyes,
but on the outside she was attempting to maintain a
brash Mandalorian persona. "I was on a mission for
Si-" she began, but then caught herself, and began
to scramble. "...for Major Rodney of the Imperial
Security Bureau!" she declared proudly, as she
puffed up her chest and placed her hand on her hips.
"I would have returned sooner, but I was ... uh ...
delayed by the Grand Moff himself!" she claimed,
which was true from a certain point of view. But
just how badly things had gone for her she would not
reveal to Trooper Crion or anyone else in this base.
Kaiya had decided that she was going to stay for
awhile. She gracefully perched herself in the chair
closest to El-Nay. Her tail slowly moved back and
forth behind her. She acted surprised. Her eyes
briefly widened. "Oooh! Major Rodney!" She said,
pawing at her face. "That must've been *very*
important!" The Grand Moff's smell was the least out
of all the others. It was Sierra's scent that
covered her which aligned with the story that the
Mandalorian was telling. "You're lucky you got
delayed! It's been hard times around here. Commander
Kiley has been saying some really horrible stuff,
you know? Don't you?" Kaiya's tail stopped moving
and fell as she intimated concern. "I'd be *pretty*
upset if I were you."
"Of course it
was important. *Too* important for a mere Trooper
like you," El-Nay shot back, feeling quite proud of
herself. She was holding her own. Yeah ... she was
going to get through this. "Wait. What? What was she
saying? Tell me!" she said, taking a step towards
Kaiya and puffing out her chest. She had taken the
bait almost instantly ... all Kaiya had to do was
reel her in. "Why would I be upset?" he asked her,
before lifting her hand and poking Kaiya in the
chest with her gloved index finger. "Tell me!" she
demanded, as she lost all the cool she had worked
hard on, and had become a mess of a Mandalorian at
the mere notion of secrets being kept from her.
right. I'm only good for the little jobs." Kaiya
sighed dramatically. "I wish I got to leave the Void
as often as you..." Kaiya was playing her. The
Cathar's retracted claws twitched at the idea that
the orange-loving El-Nay would be picked above her
for special missions ... not that she wanted to work
for the Governor's wife. She'd seen El-Nay get shot
on live HoloNet stream. Her and Thaddy had some good
laughs over it too. She watched El-Nay take her
bait, instantly losing her composure as she poked
the Cathar in the chest. She frowned. "Don't do
that! Commander Kiley made me hold a plank for
*fifteen* minutes. Can you believe that!?" She
whined. "I... I don't know if I should tell you. The
Commander might be mean to me..." Kaiya cowered.
"Promise you won't tell her? Promise?!"
breathing hot air under her helmet so quickly that
it threatened to fog up the T-shaped visor of her
helmet. "I don't care about your planking," she
said, sounding both hyper and erratic at the same
time. "Tell me, Kaiya. Tell me," she pleaded, as her
mind raced, trying to figure out what it possibly
could be that was being hidden from her. "She won't
be mean to you. I won't let her. Just tell me," she
said, before taking a gasp of air. She wanted to
scream beneath her helmet, but she was able to
restrain herself from doing at least that much. "I
promise, Kaiya. I promise. Just tell me," she
pleaded, as she began to twitch wildly beneath her
armor. She could not stand secrets.
smaller and smaller into her seat like El-Nay was
overpowering her. "Um. Uh. Um!" Thaddy was going to
be so proud of her. She joyfully imagined what it
would be like when she explained everything to him
in his room later on; recounting the tale like it
was a lengthy epic. "Okay!!!" Kaiya gave in. "No
telling..." She took a deep breath in, then released
it. "At first, she was really angry you were gone.
She was calling you stupid and stuff. You know. Like
always." Kaiya began explaining. "But the other day,
I heard her cursing about how she wished you'd never
come to the Void because you're causing her lots of
trouble. She seemed really stressed and she was
*super* mean that day. She said that you aren't like
the other Commandos and that you shouldn't be here.
That's so mean.." Kaiya looked legitimately upset.
"She was so angry when she left to find you.... Do
you really think she meant what she said?" Kaiya
The room began
to spin beneath El-Nay's helmet. It felt like it was
shrinking and about to crush her head, she brought
her hands up to the side of her helmet and began to
stagger back. She could not believe what Kaiya had
told her ... she knew they thought she was stupid,
and she knew they did not want her here ... but she
never thought Kerrie was part of it. Suddenly she
ripped her helmet off her head, revealing her
artificially dyed blonde hair with its shaved sides
that betrayed her natural color beneath. Her blue
eyes went wide and she was gasping for air ... she
did not know what to do, but she knew that she had
to leave. She did not say a word to Kaiya, but
simply stumbled away towards her ship, a broken,
shriveling mess of a woman, who had failed in every
attempt to live up to the reputation of her people.
"El-Nay?" Kaiya had never seen El-Nay without her
helmet on. At this point, she had begun to assume it
was super glued on. She stared at the woman with her
cat-like eyes, portraying her concern. "Are you
okay..?" Kaiya saw that her words had worked. She
had been watching the two of them for long enough to
know how to drive a wedge between them. El-Nay's
absence brought on the perfect moment of
opportunity. She wondered if the woman would pass
out right at her feet. Instead, she started moving
towards her ship. Internally, Kaiya snickered. She
had just taken care of one problem. The other
problem would be resolved within a few days. She'd
wait until Kerrie started making noises like she was
going to leave to find her lover, and then Kaiya
would strike again. Feeling confident that she had
succeeded, the Cathar girl made her way back to meet
up with her Captain. Her pride swelled in her chest.
Finally, she was doing political good for Thaddy.
He'd see a promotion in no time.
had watched with great apprehension as Kaiya
approached El-Nay. He knew she was the Commander's
favorite, and if she went too far he might not be
able to spare her. But when he watched her so
expertly bait El-Nay and then shatter her resolve it
was a beautiful sight to behold. It took all of his
strength to keep from bursting into laughter at the
young Mandalorian's plight. "Well done, Kaiya," he
said proudly, as she returned to his fold. It would
not be long before the Commander went on another
detour to recover her precious Mandalorian, which
would once again place him in temporary command of
It was a dark
and stormy night at the Rodney estate. Sierra Rodney
lay in bed, snoozing away with her husband. As the
doctor had instructed, she laid on her side. Only,
instead of using a pillow to make herself
comfortable, she was using her husband as a leg
rest. Sierra had a huge, sleepy grin on her face.
She was dreaming about going to Auntie Maeland with
the girls. They'd walked through the gum drop forest
together, in which the gum drop candies were larger
than a Hutt. They rode the Tunnel of Sundae, where
Ewwiekewwieikkie had lapped at the milk chocolate
waters. Finally, Sierra was sinking into the most
delicious bowl of pudding she'd ever had. Beside
her, Ewwiekewwieikkie was eating an ice cream cone
with at least twenty-two scoops piled into it.
Drusilla, as normal, had such a small portion that
Sierra would need a magnifying glass to determine
what it was exactly. "Mmm. So yummy..." She mumbled
in her sleep, scooting closer to Claudius to steal
up most of the space on their bed. What a dream!
was sitting on Claudius and Sierra's balcony, out in
the rain, watching them sleep. She had no place else
to go. It seemed like Sierra was the one friend she
had left, but her husband *hated* her. She had
considered going back to Corellia ... back to her
parents ... admitting defeat and becoming the good *Corellian*
girl they hoped she would become. But as she stood
on the balcony, drenched, she wanted to try one last
time to make it as a Mandalorian. She could see
Sierra turning in her sleep, muttering to herself.
She wanted to tap on the glass, but if her husband
saw her, he would probably have the guards execute
her. And so she delicately reached forward and
tapped at the glass slightly, as another bolt of
lightning struck behind her, briefly illuminating
her in the balcony window.
began to stir from her slumber. She could feel her
son kicking her insistently. As soon as she was
awake, she realized that the wondrous pregnant food
dream had made her feel *starved*. It was so late.
Rain was pattering hard against the windows. She
didn't want to get out of the warm bed. She tried to
ignore her stomach and resume sleeping. While she
didn't hear El-Nay's tap on the glass, she did spot
the form of an armored figure on the balcony.
Sierra's heart started pounding quickly. She reached
towards her nightstand where she had been known to
keep a small blaster pistol. The lightning briefly
illuminated the world outside. All it took was
seeing the orange briefly for Sierra to realize
exactly who was at her balcony. El-Nay Darr...
Sierra slowly rose to her feet. She was careful not
to wake Claudius as she approached the balcony. She
opened the door a smidge. "Meet me at the front
door." She told her friend, quickly closing the
door. Sierra slid into her robe before heading off
on her way towards the front door. Why was El-Nay
there? Kerrie had been intent on taking her back to
the Void. Reaching the door, Sierra opened it up and
allowed the Mandalorian into her home. "You're
soaking wet.. What happened?..." The young woman was
just waking up. She rubbed the sleep away from her
her jetpack to gently travel from the balcony to the
front door, where Sierra was waiting for her. She
stepped into the estate, soaking wet, and still
suffering from an emotional storm that was as
tumultuous as the one occurring outside. She brought
her hands up to the side of her helmet, removing it
from her head, and tucking it under her arm. Her
face was red, and so were her eyes. Her hair was
matted and her makeup was smeared. It was clear that
she was crying. She had become a complete and total
mess. "Am I stupid?" she asked her, barely able to
keep it together now. "Tell me the truth," she
pressed her, begging now. She trusted Sierra and
needed her opinion.
El-Nay's face was heartbreaking. Her friend had
endured so much lately. El-Nay had clearly been
crying. She looked as if she was barely capable of
standing on her own two feet. Sierra saw she needed
a friend now more than ever, and so, she stepped
towards the Mandalorian. "No, you're not stupid."
Sierra answered truthfully. El-Nay was only guilty
of not thinking out her actions at times. "I'm
telling you the truth. You're a good person, El-Nay.
I'm so glad to have a friend like you in my life."
She embraced her soaked friend as best as she could
in her armor. It was brief, but hopefully enough to
show that Sierra was there for her. Her hand met
with El-Nay's back, directing her towards the
kitchen. "Come on. Tell me what happened." In the
kitchen, she paused briefly to grab her a large
towel from a cabinet so she could get semi-dry.
Sierra turned her back on El-Nay briefly to reach a
glass on a high shelf. She procured a bottle of
Corellian whiskey that had lingered around the house
for some time now that no one was drinking it. She
poured the woman a drink, setting it down on the
counter in front of her.
for the glass of Corellia whiskey before continuing
with the conversation. Although it was a drink that
was meant to be savored, she wasted no time in
downing the entire glass. She coughed as it went
down, burning her throat, but she needed it. "Don't
hate me, okay?" she said, as she moved to place her
helmet down on the kitchen island. "...but I was
talking to Trooper Crion at the void, the ... um ...
Cathar from Delaya," she explained, with a cringe,
remembering full well what happened between Sierra
and her. "She told me that while I was helping you,
Kerrie was pissed off that I left. She said I was
stupid, and that I didn't belong at the Void," she
said, as she began to tear up again. She brought her
arm up to rub at her face, brushing away the mucus
that had started to form from her blubbering. "I had
no place else to go," she said, before turning her
eyes towards the stairs. She *knew* what would
happen if she woke the Grand Moff up.
The box of
tissues was placed on the counter beside El-Nay.
"Okay..." Sierra agreed blindly. She tried to avoid
thinking about the Cathar who nearly killed her. As
El-Nay brought her up, Sierra shivered. Remaining
supportive, she attempted to shrug off her own
feelings and nodded her head. "Okay.. What about
her?" She listened to El-Nay explain everything. She
didn't know Kerrie well enough to see that the
Cathar was simply manipulating her hurt friend. All
Sierra saw was El-Nay crying in her kitchen. She
knew what would happen if Claudius woke up to this.
There would be no explanation that Sierra could give
him to calm him. He was *furious* with her after
what had happened. El-Nay was coming for her looking
for a place of security. There certainly was a place
for her to stay within the estate, but she didn't
want to cause problems with her love. Sierra
nervously ran her fingers through her blonde hair.
"I'm so sorry, El-Nay... I'm sorry Kerrie said those
things..." She reached over, squeezing her snotty
hand. "I'll... I'll have to see what I can do about
you staying here..." Sierra thought of Claudius'
words. Was her big heart working as disadvantage
again? "I just need to know... I need to know that
you are devout to my family and that you may be
forced to prove yourself again. I'm trying to keep
everyone safe." She moved towards the fridge where
she grabbed a small packet of pudding. She had no
idea what she would tell her husband.
to a knee in front of Sierra, almost on instinct, as
she bowed her head in complete and utter obedience
to the woman. "Vor entye," she said, speaking in her
native tongue of Mando'a, which her parents had
forbade her from speaking among outsiders to avoid
repercussions. "You saved my life in the Alderaan
system, milady. I have a debt to you that I value
more than I do my life. I pledge myself to you, and
your family, until the debt is repaid or I lay
dead," she said to her, humbly, still keeping her
eyes down towards the ground in a mark of obedience.
She knew this was her last shot. Without Sierra, she
was bound for Corellia and the greatest 'I told you
sos' ever from her father ... if he would even speak
her. 'Vor entye', she remembered those words. She
could see El-Nay's obedience. Convincing her husband
of it would be another story. Sierra believed that
El-Nay would remain true to her word and that she
would not suffer for being a softie. "Thank you."
She whispered, having never been put in a position
like this. "I will take you to the guest room and
allow you to sleep here for the night at the very
least. I'm not going to wake Claudius to talk to him
about this. That would be a poorly executed plan."
The blonde opened up her pudding. She led El-Nay up
the first flight of stairs and to a room further
away from the girls. She'd taken some precautions.
However, the one she didn't take involved never
letting El-Nay into her home.
She had not
gone back to bed since El-Nay appeared. Try as she
might, there was too much on Sierra's mind. By the
time dawn broke, she had nothing. The storm
continued on outside. She wondered if it was a
reflection of how her day would run. Sierra decided
buttering Claudius up would be a decent course of
action, so she made him a lovely, warm breakfast,
placed it on a tray, and worked her way up the
stairs. She turned into their room. She wished she
had returned to bed. It would have been much more
comfortable there. She placed the tray on her
nightstand. Creeping into bed, she nuzzled against
his back affectionately to wake him. "Claudius.."
She whispered, placing a kiss to the back of his
neck. "Wake up, my love."
sound asleep, dreaming of a world where Jelena was
an Imperial loyalist, Drusilla gave all of her
clothes to war orphans, and Ewwiekewwieikkie was on
a diet ... a complete and utter fantasy world that
would never come to pass. His body shook as she
kissed him, immediately drawing him from his
peaceful slumber. "Huh? What?" were the first words
that came out of his mouth, as he started to awaken.
His eyes blinked several times as he gradually
regained his vision, slowly rolling over so that he
could look up at his wife. "Is ... is everything
alright?" he asked her, fearing the worst. Rarely
did one get woken up for good news.
She sunk into
the bed as the anticipation she had been feeling all
night suddenly surfaced. All it took was a single
question to twist Sierra's bunched up nerves. It was
like she had no control, she simply began to cry.
This only had to be worrisome for her husband, who
was blitzed the moment he awoke. For Sierra, the
combination of lack of sleep and working herself up
over El-Nay while anticipating a fight with her
husband had sent off an emotional chain reaction.
"E-everything's alright." She stuttered in direct
contradiction to her tears. Her hands desperately
tried to stop anymore tears from coming, but she
continued to cry.
sleep much last night." She confessed, slowly
getting around to the point of telling him there was
a Mandalorian living under their roof. "I woke up in
the middle of the night and El-Nay was on our
balcony. I let her in downstairs. She was a mess.
Apparently there's some problems between her and
Kerrie. She had nowhere to go...wanted to stay
here." She wasn't giving him a chance to say a word.
She was working on talking herself out. "I didn't
know what to do! She has a life debt to me...I think
she hurt me on accident before...I gave her a room
to stay the night, away from the girls." She looked
up at Claudius, pouting. "And then... And then..."
It seemed she was leading up to the most dramatic
part of her story. "And then I dropped the last
pudding. All of it. All over the floor!"
up in the bed when Sierra falsely claimed everything
was alright. He knew she was lying, but he was not
prepared for what was about to come next. He did not
want his wife around that odorous Mandalorian under
any circumstances, so when he learned she was in his
estate he wanted to leap from the bed and fly
through the roof from his rage. He wanted to say
something, but she would not stop talking long
enough to let him get a word in edgewise ... a sound
tactic on her part. When she was finished he was so
concerned about her lack of pudding that he could
not be angry at her anymore. He had not said a word,
but felt completely exhausted from the conversation,
despite the fact that he just woke up. He raised his
hands up and moved them up and down repeatedly.
"Alright. Alright. I leave this to your good
judgment," he said, realizing there was no reason to
argue with her about anything this early in the
morning. "Send the girl to get you more pudding.
Take advantage of this debt," he suggested, before
laying back down on the bed. He was against it, but
he could not be against his wife.
was bound to happen. Sierra felt like she deserved
it too. She didn't like siding against him. More
than that, El-Nay wasn't worth having such a huge,
gigantic fight over. Her tears continued to fall as
she thought about cleaning up the spilt pudding
early in the morning so that Ewwiekewwieikkie didn't
lick it off the floor. That would have been *very*
unsanitary. Shockingly, he didn't yell at her. He
allowed her to have her way, which meant if things
didn't go accordingly with El-Nay, then she would be
living in the shed in the garden. He also had a good
idea: send El-Nay to get her more pudding. *She had
a pudding retriever*! Sierra's tears slowed. She
rolled over onto her side, scooting after him until
she was lying against him. Her arm wrapped around
her husband, squeezing him. She nuzzled her head
against him. "I love you," she whispered. She crept
forward to steal a kiss from his lips. "I made you
breakfast. All of your favorites." She said,
attempting to lighten the mood. "...Do you have any
terrible jobs I can make El-Nay do?" The hints of a
smile appeared on her tear stained face.
"I love you
too, Sierra," Claudius told her, as he embraced her
in the predawn hours. Although he did not approve of
his wife's association with El-Nay Darr, she was his
wife ... not his child ... and he would have to
learn to treat her as an equal and not a
subordinate. It was a difficult thing for a man who
was used to being in control to deal with, but for
the marriage to work he would have to recondition
himself. "Babysitting, I suppose. I must confess
that any dressing down of El-Nay I could think of
would be vastly outdone by own wicked daughter," he
said, before leaning forward to press a kiss on
Sierra's lips. It would not be long before he
returned to his life of briefings and reports. This
time alone with Sierra was the highlight of his day.
emotions were beginning to smooth out. After she got
a nap in later, she'd become a much more pleasant,
emotionally stable, woman. For now, the house was
quiet. She felt safe to assume that everyone was
still asleep. She giggled, recalling the kind of
difficult time El-Nay had last time she baby sat. At
least she wouldn't need to sell her soul to Drusilla
for a little bit every time she wanted to go out
with her husband. She kissed him, lured by him to
slowly climb over his body and settle in his lap.
She sat up, as her growing stomach made it
uncomfortable to lie flat on top of him anymore.
Happiness broke through when she held onto their
kiss. The morning time and nighttime were Sierra's
favorite parts of her day. She liked waking up. She
liked that her very first sight, nearly every day,
was the love of her life. He was the last person she
looked upon in the evening too. When the kiss broke,
Sierra was smiling so wide that her dimples were
visible. Her head bent down so her teeth could
gently gnaw on his neck. "Doctor Bailo said I can
come back to work tomorrow." She whispered to him
between bites and kisses.
Sierra settled in his lip Claudius accepted the fact
that he would not be getting another moment's rest.
"That's good news. I'll inform Lieutenant
Meham'ohorovi'cloca to give you a full briefing on
everything you missed," he told her, with a wink ...
he could play games when he wanted to. "But
seriously, it will be good to have you back," he
said, as he smiled up at her. His hand moved up to
the side of her head, brushing through her curly
blonde locks. "It's been lonely up there without
you," he confessed, as he looked up at her with love
in his eyes. He was glad that the doctor had
approved her for a return to duty, but he knew that
he needed to cherish those times as it would not be
long before she would have to go on maternity leave.
Every moment they spent together now was a precious
She began to
laugh happily. "Oooh. That's cold, Claudius. You
should be nice to the person who arranges your
schedule! What's this I hear? Thursday is filling up
with tactical meetings!?" She couldn't help but join
in with his games. Her heart skipped a beat.
Claudius' sweet words made the drama of the prior
night disappear entirely. During their special
moments, the rest of the world ceased to exist. Her
head tilted towards his hand. She greatly enjoyed
the feeling of his hands in her hair. "The feeling
is mutual, my love. I miss you when we're not
together. I like that I can help you out in all
aspects of your life, even when that means reading
agricultural reports or suffering through tactical
meetings with you." Maternity leave was going to be
difficult for her. As soon as she was fully
recovered, she'd want to bundle Bruce up and take
him back to work with her. She looked down at him.
"I'm so happy to have you, Claudius. Even though our
lives seem to always be some amount of crazy, being
with you makes it so much easier to get through it
all. I'd be totally lost without you."
Claudius could respond he heard the unmistakable
sound of Ewwiekewwieikkie getting into the spilled
pudding in the kitchen. At least she was fed. "No
more tactical meetings," he said, wearily, as he
felt the weight of those datapads crushing his very
soul. There was a part of him that considered
turning over the whole war effort to his Chiss
subordinate, but that would not look very good to
the xenophobic officers who dominated the Empire. It
was then that his alarm went off, indicating it was
time to start another day. The quiet time alone with
Sierra had to come to an end. It was time for him to
transform into an Imperial Grand Moff, which seemed
to get a little harder each day. It was only Sierra
who made it bearable for him, and he was eternally
grateful to have her in his life. He loved her, even
if she rented out a room to an erratic Mandalorian.