Discomfort hung in the air all around the newly
rebuilt Imperial Garrison. Upon approaching it from
sitting inside of a speeder, Sierra Rodney recalled
how wrong her last visit here had gone. She saw
Marcus, her dear brother, being shot again and
again. The visuals were graphic and disturbing. In
the quiet hours late at night when she couldn't
sleep, it was something that kept her awake. There
was no way to undo the damage that had been done. At
the very least, Sierra could feel grateful that he
hadn't been killed. El-Nay had accompanied her. They
hadn't said a word to each other since leaving the
castle. Sierra's mind was far too preoccupied to
carry out conversation. She felt that El-Nay
understood. She understood this was a lot on
"We're nearly there, milady." Zara said,
manipulating her voice to sound like El-Nay's as
much as possible. If the thief had one hidden skill,
it certainly had to be the ability to mimic people.
The full Mandalorian armor wasn't very comfortable
on her. She hoped that Sierra wouldn't need a fast
getaway. She had no idea how to maneuver with the
rocket pack on her back. Zara could feel the tiny,
untraceable device located within a compartment in
her glove. This was happening. The speeder came to a
spot directly in front of the garrison. Zara wished
she could place a bomb deep within the fort and blow
the Imperials to smithereens. Sadly, they'd expect
Rebels did it and send even more Imperial officers
Together, both women made their way into the
garrison. Zara noted that the insignia on Sierra's
uniform had changed. Apparently she'd been raised up
to major. When your husband was the Grand Moff, she
wondered how important those rankings became.
Briefly, Zara felt comfortable within El-Nay's
armor. It was shiny and orange. Even though it
attracted attention, she felt powerful and strong.
All that would end when she saw Papius. An
uncomfortable, lengthy ride in the turbolift took
them up to the man's office. Zara was going to have
to do her best not to punch the man this time.
Should he discover who she was, then Sia and Darrus
would have no more parents.
Governor Papius Arundel could not believe it when
Colonel Zevrin informed him that Major Rodney would
be performing for him on Delaya. He had assumed the
woman would have never agreed, but her love for her
husband had proved to be her undoing. He was careful
with his uniform that morning ... he wanted to look
his best. His blonde hair was cut short and neatly
combed. He had been pacing all afternoon as he
waited for her arrival. He knew she was at the
castle, but what help the imbecilic Duke and Duchess
could offer he did not know. He assumed it was
simply a happy family gathering and another look at
the newly arrived twins. When security informed him
that the Major was in the garrison he moved to pour
himself a glass of whiskey to calm his nerves. He
moved behind his desk to wait for her arrival ... he
was going to enjoy this.
It was hard to hold her violin case. Sierra felt
nervous. Try as she might, she *looked* nervous too.
The garrison swept out all the good thoughts from
her head. They were replaced with cold, dark
thoughts. Papius' snickering face. His cold,
sinister touch. She had to cling to the side of the
turbolift to remain upright. Things were only bound
to get worse. Zara and Marcus were right...weren't
they? As Sierra stepped off the turbolift and
towards Papius' office, she didn't notice how
quickly its doors closed again, trapping El-Nay
inside. The woman was so focused on dealing with
Governor Arundel that she didn't realize she was
alone until she was standing in his office.
"El-Nay?" She questioned, looking behind her. She
was *gone*. Was that by design? El-Nay wouldn't
ditch her. If she willingly ditched Sierra in the
belly of the beast like this, the last whooping
Claudius had given her would seem like a walk in the
park. Reluctantly, Sierra presented herself before
the man. "Governor," she said. Her mouth was so dry.
She had no idea how she was going to play her
instrument when she couldn't even speak. "It's been
"You shan't need her. Besides, her orange armor
clashes with the decor," Papius explained quickly,
having remembered the Mandalorian from the
liberation of Jelena Rodney several weeks prior.
"Besides, she would not enjoy your classic musical,"
he told her, as he moved from behind his desk and
walked slowly towards her. "I'd offer you a drink,
but I understand you are with child," he said, as he
moved close enough that when he inhaled he could
smell her. "Congratulations," he told her, before
moving his face near her cheek and kissing the air
next to each of her cheeks without making contact
with her. "Now what shall you play for me?" he
asked, a she pulled back from her, gazing upon her
with a sinister smile.
She really wished El-Nay had remained. It put
something between her and the predator. Sierra was
caught up in his line of vision with no chance of
getting out anytime soon. She watched each step he
made until he penetrated her personal space. That
starfruit shampoo he'd helped himself to was exactly
the way she smelled now. "Thank you. It won't be
much longer now." She faked her way through what was
required of her. She kissed the air at his cheeks
and pretended she actually was here to show support
of something that was terrible. Sierra lifted her
violin case. She brought it on top of his desk where
she could undo each lock holding it closed. From the
satin case, she withdrew her instrument. Its wood
was as black as Papius' soul. Her other hand grasped
the bow. She turned towards him. "I intended to play
some classic Alderaan pieces." She said, striking a
string with the bow so she could begin tuning the
instrument. "Unless you're more of a jizz fan."
There's no place like home. There's no place like
home. There's no place like home. She repeated the
words mentally like a mantra.
"Classic Alderaan pieces?" Papius repeated, as he
brought his hand up to his chin. "Well, since
Alderaan no more I suppose there are no
*contemporary* Alderaan pieces," he wickedly
commented, as he shook his head and smirked at her.
"Well I do say I prefer jizz to Alderaanian pieces.
After all, Alderaan was a planet of traitors," he
reminded her, as he took a comfortable seat in an
upholstered chair that afforded him an excellent
view of her. "I understand your stepdaughter is a
fan of jizz," he said idly, as Callista's trojan
nerf had afforded him a unique view into life at the
Rodney estate on Esseles.
From the other side of his desk, Sierra glared. Oh,
what a completely unpleasant man he was! It became
all the more tempting to beat him to death with her
violin case when it was so close...when he was so
close. Instead, she tried not to let him get a rise
out of her. There was a look in her eyes when he
brought up Drusilla. She suspected he'd seen
something about the Max Rebo concert. Nonetheless,
she didn't like him talking about her. "That she is.
Max Rebo is her favorite." Sierra didn't want to
instigate things with the man. She needed to return
home safe. As she finished tuning the violin, she
took a seat before him. The violin settled onto her
small shoulder. Her eyes glanced up at him.
"Anything else before I get started?" She didn't
know how much of her family's private life that he
had seen. They'd had so many tea parties with that
"I've seen your concerts lately. It was a shame one
was so rudely interrupted by insurgents," Papius
said, as he reached over to the table next to the
chair and fixed himself a second drink. "I assure
you ... there will be no interruptions here," he
said, with a wink, before raising the glass to her,
and taking a sip. "By all means ... start," he told
her, as he placed the drink down and gave her his
undivided attention. The real Sierra was infinitely
more preferable than his cheap holographic copy.
Of course he'd been watching her concerts. Papius
wasn't going to let her live her life so easily.
"Oh, well that's kind of you..." No one besides
Governor Arundel was going to attack her here. With
her violin in position, she began to place. Despite
the tense situation, she could still perform like no
other. There were worst situations in her life which
required her to do a good job. Her eyes began to
close as the music worked its magic over her. It was
like therapy to her mind. When she was upset
already, she needed it. After this, she would finish
her Ringali Shell tour and end her time as a public
musician. Soon, she'd only play for her family and
for her own joy. The next time her eyes opened,
Papius was still there. Only minutes had gone by.
This concert was *never* going to end.
Papius sat there watching every motion of the bow,
thoroughly enjoying the control he had over her.
"Did your brother-in-law tell you the good news?" he
asked her, during a break between songs. "The
Emperor will have Lady Sia at court when she grows,"
he informed her, fully expecting the news to unnerve
her. "There is no need to be jealous. Perhaps if you
and the Governor have a daughter in the future she
will be called to court also," he said to her, with
a nod and a smile, before taking another sip of his
drink. If he had a child he hoped they would be
given that honor.
She had not heard about her niece's fate. This was
new news. Her face said as much. "Oh? What an honor.
I'll have to congratulate my brother and sister when
I see them next." She tried to remain on top of her
emotions. Losing control would get her in trouble.
Inside her head, she felt furious. She didn't want
her daughter involved with His Majesty. The man made
her feel uncomfortable. It was because of him alone
that there was no leaving the Empire. She gulped.
She was looking even more pale. "Perhaps." She
smiled, then laughed. "One child at a time, I
suppose. Our son hasn't even arrived yet." Olivia.
They'd already talked about this. Little Callista
had warmed both her and her husband's hearts. They
wanted a daughter...but would the day she conceived
one be marked with grief? "Maybe His Majesty will
summon a daughter of your own. Surely it's time to
Sierra had turned the tables on him unexpectedly,
prompting him to take a larger sip of his drink than
usual. "I haven't found the right person to settle
down with," he explained to her, as he awaited her
next song. "As I am a mere Governor my selections
are limited. There's no sense in settling now when
if I am patient and rise to Moff, or even Grand Moff,
I can get someone much more worthy," he explained,
before placing his glass back down on the table.
"Play on," he instructed, his face reddening
slightly from both the alcohol and embarrassment.
She nodded her head like she understood.
However...who could ever learn to love a beast?
Sierra decided to end the chatter. Papius would
never mean anything to her. She cared not for his
problems in love, or his sad attempts to rise to a
Moff...let alone a Grand Moff. The girl dove into
her music again. She played several songs in rapid
succession this time. The only problem was that she
couldn't leave until he was satisfied. He and Zevrin
were clearly having words. She needed Claudius'
leave to be assured so she could go home. *Home*...
She wondered what the girls were doing and if the
bantha was getting into any trouble. Her bow fell as
her last song finished. "Is that to your liking,
When the song was finished Papius raised his hands
and brought them together in several slow claps.
"Wonderful. Wonderful," he told her, before raising
from his seat and moving back towards her. "I see
you've been promoted since our last encounter,
Major," he said, as he tilted his head to look upon
her rank insignia and chest. "Congratulations. Perks
of being married to a Grand Moff," he commented,
before moving back towards his desk. "Very well. You
may go. Your husband can have his precious leave,"
he said, as he sat himself back down in his chair.
His holographic program would incorporate this
performance to make a much more effective
representation of the woman for his amusement.
It felt like Sierra had just finished running a
marathon. Her hands were unsteady as she placed the
instrument back into its case and prepared to make
her departure. His jab about her promotion being a
direct result of her marriage to the Grand Moff
wasn't exactly wrong, but they needed it. She
shrugged it off and rose. It was then that Sierra
did something unexpected: she smiled. The smile took
up her whole face and brought out every pretty
little feature of her face. This was the only time
when Papius could make her smile, though her
thoughts weren't of him. She was thinking about how
wonderful the leave would be. "Thank you," she said,
still managing to sound cold through her smile. She
left his office quicker than she had come and
collected El-Nay. "It's over." She told the
Mandalorian with a sigh. "It's time to go home."
Zara had all the opportunity she needed to place her
device within the garrison while not making a scene.
The good thing about dressing like El-Nay was that
people thought she would act like El-Nay. No one was
suspecting of her. It didn't take a lot of effort to
find the perfect place to hid her device either. She
made sure she was right outside the Governor's
office when Sierra came out, stupidly looking at a
hideous piece of art in the hallway. Zara silently
agreed. It was time to go home.