Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca stood
stoically outside the blast doors that separated the antechamber from
Grand Moff Claudius Rodney's office. The blue-skinned officer could feel
the eyes of those around her giving unpleasant glances and she attempted
to do her best not to notice, but it felt as if the doors would never
open. Unconsciously, she lifted her back heels to raise herself up
slightly and then back to the ground, in a repeated nervous tick. She
had spent the morning reviewing Captain Rhiannon T'Jarell's plan to
attack the nebula, but had also took the initiative to review her
personnel file. Concern was the emotion on the forefront of her mind ...
concerning both subjects. After what seemed like an eternity, the blast
doors diagonally began to separate, and before they were completely open
she had pivoted on her heels and marched swiftly and deliberately into
the office. "Milord," she said matter-of-factly as she remained at
attention in front of her desk.
It had been an uneventful evening for
the Alderaanian Grand Moff and thankfully Claudius Rodney had not felt
the need to consume anymore of the now-precious Alderaan Ruge. "Well,
Lieutenant, what did you think of the Captain's plan?" he asked, having
been preoccupied with the idea of taking the first offensive naval
action of his tenure. By his own admission he was not much of a
tactician and was much more suited for his current position of Regional
Governor. Throughout the war he had relied on the recommendations of the
Chiss tactical officer he had positioned aboard his flagship, but who
had become increasingly distant since his promotion.
In truth, Meham'ohorovi'cloca was merely
responsible for the weapon's systems aboard his Imperial Star Destroyer,
but in practice she was his most trusted military advisor ... a special
status that rather than commanding respect often found her in a position
of disdain. "In a word, sir? Overambitious," she concluded in a
determined tone, before moving towards the display where she hoped to
present her report. Her red eyes widened slightly when she saw the
damage and realized she would have to present her report without the
customary visual aids. "I will notify maintenance of this unfortunate ...
malfunction..." she struggled with that last word, having served with the
man long enough to suspect 1,000 different reasons for the damage.
"Perhaps a lack of ambition among the
current staff is the reason we have suffered such setbacks, Lieutenant,"
Claudius snapped back, being immediately forced into the position of
defending his new naval advisor. Truthfully, it was not the position he
wanted to find himself in ... not after one encounter ... yet there he was.
"Continue," he said, deliberately avoiding any comment on the damage he
had inflicted upon the viewscreen.
"There is nothing to be gained by
fighting in the dark..." Meham'ohorovi'cloca declared, moving closer
toward the Governor's desk and taking up a position directly in front of
him. "...other than being able to claim you did something. When you
cannot see your opponent it is unwise to flail wildly at them," she
concluded, pursing her lips slightly, sensing that he had already made
his decision and committed himself. Her tactical abilities and unique
ability to read a situation carried over to human situations. "We have
no idea what Rebel forces are contained within the nebula, milord.
Before we deployed the Rebellion may have hidden their entire fleet in
there for all we know..." she stated in a calm, collected tone, using
logic and reason as her two weapons in this fight.
"All we have detected during our
presence in these sectors is small craft ... nothing larger than a
frigate," Claudius said back in a voice full of emotion, indicating his
argument was based more on feelings and impulses rather than sound
military tactics. "There is no reason to suspect they have anything
heavy in there ... and if they do Captain T'Jarell's Victory Star
Destroyer and escorts will be more than a match for them," he concluded,
dismissing the Chiss Lieutenant's concerns as needless caution. It was
time to throw caution to the win, he had determined over the course of
the night ... nothing they had tried before had worked.
"It is not what has been seen that
concerns me, milord. It is what is unseen," Meham'ohorovi'cloca pleaded,
raising both of her hands in front of her in a rare show of emotion that
betrayed her otherwise cold and stoic persona. "Despite the Imperial
propaganda to their contrary, we are in fact quite outmatched when it
comes to starfighters," she argued, wishing she had the use of the
display to bring up the appropriate technical schematics that she was
sure would work in her favor. "Their bombers and fighters could wreak
havoc upon our forces even in smaller numbers. Thus far their attacks
have been limited to our convoys. It would be unwise to provoke them
further. I stand by my recommendation to continue our policy of
containment and convoy escort," she concluded, methodically making her
case, but as her red eyes scanned over his form she knew she had already
lost. His passions were governing him ... unwisely. "Permission to speak
freely, sir?" she said, unwilling to surrender, and hoping that one last
strategy might yet prevail.
Claudius held the Lieutenant in the
highest regard as a tactician, but knew that her defensive strategy
would not guarantee the stability his command so desperately needed. "In
the years we have served together I have never heard you make that
request, Lieutenant," he said slowly, rising from his seated position to
the desk, before slowly making his way towards her. "So it would be
inappropriate for me to deny such a request. Proceed..." he said, with a
bit of trepidation as he prepared for her coming onslaught.
Meham'ohorovi'cloca swallowed, the blue
skin of her throat bulging against the olive-grey of her Imperial
uniform. "Milord, you have been a wonderful patron to me. Without you, I
would likely still be upon my homeworld seeking a purpose for myself.
While others have placed me in contempt and questioned my presence here,
you have always treated me with courtesy and respect..." she stammered,
her voice shifting in tone for perhaps the first time in months. "You
have always judged me based on what I am ... rather than who I am. Nearly
any other officer would have declined my service, but you saw something
in me and for that I am forever grateful..." her voice trailed off at that
moment, and she lowered her head before deciding if it was prudent to
continue. "Forgive me, milord..." she continued as she raised her head
defiantly and locked her red eyes upon him. "But I wonder if perhaps you
are making this decision based on *who* she is and not *what* she is,"
she uttered confidently, realizing what the Grand Moff had been through
personally these past few months. It would be understandable that a
beautiful young Hapan could talk him into an inadvisable strategy. She
had launched her best attack, and now she waited for the onslaught she
rightfully expected to receive.
"Lieutenant..." Claudius responded with
some hostility, before catching himself and taking the appropriate
moment to regain his composure before proceeding. "When I first
encountered Mitth'raw'nuruodo he was teaching at the academy on Carida
and we were placed on the same team in a war game..." he began, using his
favored tactic of storytelling to get his point across to those he
wanted to influence. "I knew immediately that no matter how long I
studied, or how much experienced I developed, I would never be able to
approach his skills as a tactician..." he admitted, expressing his
humility, while reaching down with his hands to grasp the Lieutenant's
hand and give them a reaffirming squeeze to let her know she would not
be punished for her statements. "I decided to approach him at the end of
the games and sought his advice and that is how I came to discover you.
His gift of you to me is one that I cherish each day, and continue to
value..." he continued, lifting her hands slightly as his eyes locked onto
hers, getting lost in their redness. "I have been distant from you all
since my promotion and I will endeavor to rectify that. You may always
speak to me and voice your concerns and criticisms, but..." he paused, as
he released his grasp, and began walking to the door with her. "We will
execute this attack and you will do your best to see that it succeeds.
Dismissed!" he said, as the large blast doors began to open.
Despite her steely exterior, the
Governor's words affected Meham'ohorovi'cloca profoundly, and her sense
of defeat had quickly turned into inspiration. "Of course, Milord. We
will defeat the Rebel scum!" she said confidently, before clicking the
back of her boots together and proceeding from his office. While the
Governor was not a master of ships, he was indeed a master of minds, and
hers was now committed to the battle to come.