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Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:6:10) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Leiliani: Rodney Castle).
Governor Papius Arundel, Major Sierra Rodney, and Duchess Zara Rodney.

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 Sierra's mind.

"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 into Delaya.

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 awhile."

"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 damn nerf.

"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 settle down?"

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, Governor?"

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.

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