"This is not
going to be a pretty meeting." Major Sierra Rodney
said as she shoved a piece of starfruit into her
mouth. She had purposely scheduled the meeting
between herself, her husband, Major Serra Eona, and
Vice Admiral Raven *after* lunch. It seemed that
there would already be a tense atmosphere without
her bringing along her inner hangry monster. She was
seated in Claudius' office with one leg crossed over
the other. A datapad sat in her lap displaying the
Vice Admiral's report on the latest Rebel incident.
"Vice Admiral Raven was not happy with the lack of
communication...for good reason too. I'm not
entirely sure we will be able to find a good
solution, however." Sierra had already told him all
about the shuttle, its confidential occupants, and a
failure to recover them even now. At this point, she
wished that it was possible to make Chandrila
disappear just to stop it from being the problem
"Hey! Get your
own starfruit," Grand Moff Claudius Rodney said, as
he looked up from his desk at his wife/adjutant. As
he sat within his office aboard the massive Imperial
star dreadnaught Retributor he was trying to bring
himself up to speed on the engagement at Chandrila,
not wanting to come off as confused as he actually
was during the meeting. Behind him was a large,
illuminated bas-relief depicting two thrantas and
his home planet of Delaya. To his left were the
standard triangular windows that overlooked Esseles
and the bulk of the systems force there, to his
right was a large viewscreen for tactical
projections, and across from him was a casual
seating area. "Sometimes the solution is to let
people yell. During my engineering course they
stressed venting pressure to prevent a catastrophic
explosion. So, we will let him say his piece, but I,
for one, would be cautious of crossing Imperial
Intelligence. He reached out with his right hand to
the bowl of purple fruit, bringing it up to his
mouth, and taking a bite out of it. Unfortunately,
the juice squirted right on his freshly cleaned
officer's tunic. "Oh I can't believe it," he
muttered to himself, as he looked around for
something he could clear himself with. "Sierra!" he
whined, not wanting to face his officers looking
"Hey. We're married. What's yours is mine and what's
mine is mine." Sierra grinned from ear to ear. No
matter how unpleasant the meeting turned out, both
of them would be present for it. They could poke fun
at everyone involved afterward while being thankful
for the lack of Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca was
not present to put them to sleep. She looked towards
the windows. Bruce was at home with Drusilla today
instead of on the dreadnaught. As a new mother, it
wasn't always easy to be away from their son. Her
head turned towards him, plucking the datapad from
her lap and setting it on his desk. "I think I'll
try that tactic at home with Dru... Anyhow, it'll be
the Vice Admiral digging his own grave. I have only
ever met Major Eona briefly, and that was when she
came to commandeer a meeting I was having.
Personally, I'd say we have enough enemies right
now." She finished up a piece of starfruit when he
accidentally squirted purple juice all over his
tunic. Though it wasn't the blinding white tunic
like her own, it was still obvious on the green-grey
fabric. "Uh oh." She rose from her seat, grabbing at
some napkins she'd brought with her for their joint
lunch time. She leaned over him as she tried to
clean up the stain. "Do we really have no extra
tunics up here?" She said, pulling back the napkin
only slightly so she could see that the stain was
still *very* obvious.
"I do wish to
stay on the good side of Imperial Intelligence,"
Claudius informed his wife, blissfully ignorant to
the fact that they had ordered his assassination two
years ago. "It is bad enough that the ISB is always
in our hair," he complained, veering off topic as
his wife attempted to clean up his mess. It was not
enough that as his adjutant she was tasked with
cleaning up his military and political mishaps, but
as his wife she was also tasked with fixing his
domestic ones as well. "Maybe I could just hold a
datapad up the entire time," he said, as he tried
holding up a datapad in front of his chest. "Here.
Does this look natural?" he asked, as he posed for
her, with an anxious smile.
"As do I" she
sighed. Though she was an ISB officer herself, she
had entered the military not understanding exactly
what that meant. She got sucked into Imperial
propaganda and that was that. "At least Zevrin has
yet to make her appearance around here yet..." She
would return. Sierra was sure of that. Time was
ticking until the wicked witch of the Retributor
reappeared. She snickered as he posed with the
datapad. "Not in the slightest... Besides, what are
you going to do if the meeting runs for three hours
and you can't hold up the datapad anymore?" She
reached over him, stealing another starfruit from
his bowl. "You know, I think there's a tunic in the
Kwai. If you ask nicely, maybe I'll go get it." She
removed the napkin and leaned forward to steal a
"You have a
point," Claudius said, as he lay the datapad down on
the desk in front of him. He then abruptly rose from
his seat and moved towards the large viewports that
dominated a wall of his office. "Here. I can stand
like this, looking out the viewport, with my back to
everyone," he said, as he looked out at a flight of
TIE fighters moving past on a patrol. "If I remain
like this they'll think I'm either very angry or
thinking everything over," he said, as he turned to
look over his shoulder at her. "It could work," he
said to her, in a tone of voice that made it very
clear he did not think it would work. "The shuttle?
Do you think you could get there and back in time? I
wouldn't want them to arrive without you hear," he
said, anxiously, as he rose up and down on his
booted feet. They would be here soon. "Send that
aide of yours!" he suggested, as he turned his back
to the room again. This was the best plan he could
come up with for the time being.
down into Claudius' seat. It was infinitely more
comfortable than her own, and *warm*. She continued
to eat her lunch, now being extra mindful about
spilling all over herself. So far, Sierra felt she
had made a good impression with the Vice Admiral.
She wanted him to continue to respect her and keep
open communication with her. "It could work. Can you
scowl a little too? I think that will make the act
more believable." She made a groan as she imagined
having to run from her husband's office all the way
to the hangar then back again. She'd likely be late
for the meeting and everyone would know about the
purple stain anyway. "Ah! You're right! I have one
of those for a reason." She adjusted in the seat
until she reached her comm out of her trouser
pocket. She cleared her voice, making herself sound
more professional as she called for Captain Tailon.
"Captain Tailon. I need you to retrieve a tunic from
my ship in the hangar bay. You'll find the
Lambda-class shuttle Kwai there. The tunic is in the
cabin. Bring it immediately." She cut off the
communication as soon as she had finished talking.
She looked up at Claudius, grinning. "I can see why
you like having an adjutant so much."
grumbled to himself as he walked down the corridor
towards the office, the tunic clutched in his hand.
He was in the middle of planning out something
important when the call had come through, Grear
laughing as he, a captain in the Imperial Security
Bureau, was tasked with being a runner, a job
usually assigned to that of a private or sergeant.
As humiliated as he felt, he had to come to terms
with the fact that being an assistant was this.
"When I find the man that assigned me to this
position..." he grumbled as he approached the door
into the office, straightening himself and clearing
his face on discontent before opening the door and
In the time it
took for Captain Tailon to retrieve the tunic,
Sierra had time to finish eating and straighten
herself up for the meeting. As soon as he arrived,
she met him at the Governor's door. "Thank you,
Captain. We will be holding a meeting with Vice
Admiral Raven and some of the other higher-ups very
soon. I would like you to be present for that
meeting, so please prepare yourself." She took the
tunic from him. The durasteel doors slid closed
behind her to give her and her husband privacy. "The
aide is useful." She chuckled. "Now let's get you
ready for the meeting. Our guests will be arriving
any minute now."
removed his belt and began stripping out of the
grey-green tunic that was stained with starfruit
juice. Now, dressed only in an undershirt with his
name stenciled upon it as if he were still a raw
recruit he moved to take the tunic from his wife.
"Yes. Having aides are wonderful," he informed her,
with a smile, as he slid it on. But once he got into
the light he could see there were strands of blue
fur upon it from one or both of his adopted Squib
daughters. "Oh for the love of..." he began, as he
began swatting himself to get it off. It seemed as
if they had played dress up in his spare uniform
when they snuck aboard the Kwai. "Sierra..." he
groaned, impatiently, as he looked towards the
chronometer. They were out of time.
She took the
stained tunic, quickly folding it up and setting it
aside. The complications leading into the meeting
seemed to be over until... "What is it?" She asked,
looking towards her husband. There was blue Squib
fur all over his tunic. It was even more noticeable
than the starfruit juice stain. "Goodness. It looks
like one of them wore Ewwiekewwieikkie and
Melickielickie had a pounce party." Sierra rushed
over to him as she quickly began plucking blue
strands of fur from this tunic. "I think we should
go back to the plan where you stand at the viewport
and scowl. There's no way we're going to get all
this fur off." She bit her lower lip. Perhaps
deciding to make the problem worse, Sierra suddenly
embraced her husband and nuzzled her body against
him to make as much fur from his tunic transfer to
her own white one. When she stepped back, there was
a lot less blue on him and a lot more on her.
"Problem ... solved..?" She smiled.
The blue Squib
fur stood out much more vibrantly on Sierra's white
tunic than it did his grey-green one. "Oh now look
what you've done," Claudius replied, anxiously, as
he began swatting at her to get some of the fur off.
"Too late," he said, as he heard the beep at the
door. He looked at her, jaw clenched, with anxiety
in his eyes. "See them in," he said, before making
one last adjustment to his uniform and walking over
towards the viewport. Clearly he needed to speed up
the ship's laundry or begin storing more tunics in
the case of misfortune.
me than you." Sierra responded as she stepped away
from his hands so the fur didn't transfer back over
to him. She moved towards his desk where she picked
up her datapad. "You owe me pudding after this."
With a wink, she made her way to the door. She
pressed a button, causing it to open. "Welcome.
Please come in and take a seat," she said. This was
destined to be a long meeting. They were about to
see if yelling really helped solve problems.
grumbled to himself as the shuttle docked with the
Retributor. *What a waste of time*, he thought to
himself, *as if *his* Stormtroopers were any cause
of this latest mess*. After getting the Vice
Admiral's summons, he was tempted to send Lieutenant
Jenson in his stead. But Jenson was off on other
duties and the feelings of Vice Admiral Raven would
be hurt. He snorted, Damn Naval pansies. Always
wanting to blame someone else when they
underestimate the situation. As if his Stormtroopers
would have been in a position to stop the attack.
Maybe if an armed shuttle had been assigned the
duty, they could have manned the guns. But no, the
choice was for an unarmed shuttle with no escort.
And now the Navy wanted to shout it wasn't their
fault. Not only that, he wanted to shout at someone
before they had tracked down the crashed shuttle.
doors opened and he schooled his expression to one
of distain, walking confidently down the ramp. He
nodded to the officer greeting him, asked the
obligatory, "Permission to come aboard," got the
obligatory answer and followed the officer to the
location of the meeting. Yes, he knew how the game
was played, he just wished some parts of it weren't
so predictable and interrupted his sleep cycle. The
Navy, in their ship watches, were disdainful of
dirtside day and night cycles. Glin felt they used
that to put the other branches off kilter. He
thought it childish, but again, it was a predictable
part of the game.
As he neared
the conference room, he wondered how the new
Imperial Intelligence Major would play it. His eyes
sharpened slightly, this would be interesting to
watch and perhaps make the lost hours of sleep worth
another hall as he approached the conference room, a
data pad under his arm as he strode over. He saw
another officer, seemingly high ranking, also
walking down the hall to to room. After a few
seconds, Tailon was able to recognize him as General
Glin. He hadn't that much research on many of these
higher ranking officers, despite his mind constantly
telling him to do so. Despite being acquainted with
the Major and wife of the Grand Moff, he had yet to
even really meet with the Governor. Maybe this
meeting would change that.
Tailon came to
stride beside the General, not making eye contact as
he continued on his way. "You must be General Glin,
right?" Tailon asked, as though only now realizing
who he was walking besides.
at the captain who fell in stride with him, he
stopped, curious about this officer and his courage
in approaching him. Most junior officers steered
clear of him or dealt with his aide, Lieutenant
Jenson. Though, this captain, by his insignia, was
wearing an ISB uniform, perhaps he thought that gave
him extra stature. *If he is listening to that fool
Howe, he would definitely think so*. His blue eyes
did a quick top to bottom scan of this ISB captain.
*Ah, yes*, he remembered, *this one had joined them
for the raid on that Rebel cell, attached himself to
Major Rodney's side. Well, well, perhaps this
meeting won't be as dull as I thought*.
"And you are?"
he asked, raising his eyebrow slightly.
slightly into his hand, clearing his throat in the
presence of the General. "My apologies, sir. I am
Captain Derik Tailon, ISB. I was recently assigned
as Major Rodney's ... aide." His pause gave a tad
bit of resentment at the title, but none the less
kept it was guised, passing it off as merely
searching for the right term.
I took note of
how the General was addressing me. He was analyzing
Was there a
hint of a smile on the General's face? If there was,
it was gone as quickly as it had appeared. "Captain,
Tailon," he nodded his head slightly, "Yes, I am
General Glin." His eyes glittered slightly, "How may
I be of service to the ISB today?" Though the words
were polite, there was an obvious sarcastic bite to
the words as he spoke them. There was also a warning
in the words, an undercurrent that spoke of a
dislike and displeasure with the incompetence ISB
had shown recently.
frowned, detecting the hostility in the Generals
voice. While used to it at this point, being in ISB,
he couldn't help but feel a twinge of unease at the
way he asked that. As to not show his unease, the
Captain merely chuckled, seeming to wave off the
"I have no
idea, to be frank. As of this point I just do what
the Major asks for, so she would be the person to
ask for that." While he tried to pass that off as
humor, it was seemingly very thinly veiled. As of
this point, he didn't even feel like he was ISB:
just a grunt. No power whatsoever, except that he
gave orders to the nine men that requested to be
transferred with him. Thank goodness for that, too,
because tailon honestly didn't know what he would do
help but feel intrigued by this man. He had quickly
glanced through the dossier Jenson had gathered up
on this Captain Tailon, noting his recent transfer,
but other things had been a priority so he hadn't
done a thorough read. If he wasn't mistaken, his
ears detected a hint of frustration at the transfer.
While not uncommon in new transfers as people tried
to settle in to their new roles, Glin got the idea
it went deeper than that.
receive a transfer to the Retributor as a step up on
their career path, even if you were being an Aide to
an Aide to the Governor. When he got back to his
office, he would have to correct his mistake and
read that dossier. Perhaps this man could be an
asset in some fashion.
Glin allowed a
bit of a smile to cross his face, pleased with
something, "Well, Captain Tailon, it appears we will
find out together, as I, too, have no clue why I
have been summoned to this meeting. Shall we go
together and see who yells the loudest?" smiling a
bit at his joke and clapping the man on the
would have to find out what was behind this man's
frustrations. It would be beneficial to network into
the ISB and he had yet to see a junior officer spurn
the friendly attentions of a High General.
friendly shift in tone slightly took Tailon by
surprise. The General almost seemed ... genuine.
Tailon would need to research more on this man.
Tailon, regardless, returned the General's smile,
nodding as they approached the door to the
shall, General. I am just supposed to be an observer
at this meeting ... so unless the Major asks me to
say something, I will probably just be ...
observing." Maybe this meeting wasn't going to be as
boring as he originally thought. When the Captain
came to the Conference Room door, he took out his
Code Cylinder, inserting it into the door panel and
being rewarded with an affirmative beep as the door
Behind the two
officers, the rhythmic tap of boots on the ground
could be heard approaching them. Vice Admiral Raven
strode forward behind them, a datapad in one of his
gloved hands and his face impassive as he approached
the two officers and the conference room door. When
he saw the General standing there, a slight look of
confusion crossed his face ... his inward monologue
questioned why he had been summoned in the first
place. Of course, it wouldn't *hurt* to have a
representative of the Army here, but as far as he
was concerned this entire debacle was between the
Navy and Intelligence.
thought *Major Rodney found it beneficial to have a
representative of each branch of the military here*.
He knew *of*
General Glin, but had never met the man. He assumed
competence, but that was an assumption that couldn't
be made lightly; especially recently.
approached the two officers, he nodded politely
toward the two of them.
Glin smiled to
himself at the pause in the Captain's speech. Though
he would read the dossier, he felt he now knew what
the Captain was frustrated with. Not everyone was
cut out to be an observer. Even Lieutenant Jenson,
whose observations he valued beyond price, got antsy
if not given some other task to do, some task that
involved what she observed. It was part of what made
her such an asset to him, that she could observe and
then move so swiftly and unobserved to eliminate
threats he felt could no longer be controlled. She
made the perfect assassin and Glin went to great
lengths to maintain her observer mask.
He wondered if
this Captain had a similar ability in him and if he
would prove to be as dangerous as Jenson. Time would
tell, he thought, as he stepped into the room before
the Captain, as protocol demanded, knwoing full well
he was also leaving the Captain at his back. Ah, he
thought, keeping his expression set and slightly
annoyed, these are the moments I like best, seeing
the currents disrupted by new pieces on the board.
Would this captain be his tool? Or another's? Or
even both? He chuckled to himself, perhaps he would
send a thank you note to the Vice Admiral for
calling the meeting, though he doubted the Vice
Admiral would get the joke.
Nodding to the
Grand Moff, he took his seat to await the others.
Though the captain seemed to be dismissed from his
thoughts, he still watched. There was much to learn
at this meeting, it appeared.
back at the voice behind him as he settled into his
chair. He nodded, "Vice Admiral," he said, reading
the insignia, "Perhaps for your shift, it is. For
me, it is the middle of the night. So, I hope you
will forgive me if I seem a bit on the grumpy side."
This was, of
course, a bluff on his part. He wouldn't have made
it to General if he couldn't operate on a few hours
of sleep and still outmaneuver his foes. The Vice
Admiral *was* Navy after all, it wouldn't do to not
get at least one barb in. He kept his smile to
himself. The meeting was beginning to show a promise
of entertainment, if nothing else.
Admiral actually chuckled, and allowed a grin to
remain on his face as General Glin responded. His
heritage gave him a few advantages when it came to
listening beyond words. There was nothing psychic
about it, but people tended to have very subtle
tells, tics, and stances in certain emotional states
and he like many of his species was a master of
non-verbal communication. He decided to play along
with the General, to judge his response and see what
the man was about, even in a limited manner.
"I'm sure that
even a tired, grumpy General has his wits about him.
I would expect nothing less from a man such as
Admiral waited for the Captain to enter, before
slipping in behind him and walking over toward his
chair. He stood behind it, nodding in respect to the
Grand Moff. He didn't find it appropriate to salute
in this particular situation, they were all here as
equals ... hopefully. He additionally nodded to
Major Rodney, recalling their first interactions,
and shifted himself behind his chair for just a
moment, allowing the *loaded* holster on his right
hip to tap against his leg in a stark contrast from
their first meeting. He did so on purpose, to draw
her attention to the motion for just a split second.
After that moment, he took his seat, placing his
ever-present datapad on the conference table in
front of him. Michael's ice blue eyes glanced down
at his notes for a few seconds before they rose and
surveyed the room.
all here I can begin. I'll try to be brief as I know
we are all very busy..."
Rodney was already seated at the conference table
with her datapad. She set it down as she heard Vice
Admiral Raven, General Glin, *and her aide making
their way into the conference room. She looked at
General Glin first, offering him a nod of her head.
"Welcome, General Glin." She said softly. Despite
seeing him many times previously, they had never
spoken. Like any good ISB officer, she had done some
digging around. The meeting would allow General Glin
a chance to fall in her graces, or out of them. Her
attention shifted to Vice Admiral Raven whom she had
met with just the other day. He had already made a
good impression on her. She liked that he didn't try
to fluff anything up. He reported the bad. He
reported the good. There was no in between. She felt
inclined to make his life easier by attempting to
fix broken relations between the sectors.
it's good to see you again." There was something
noticeably different about him today. He was armed.
"Thank you. We are waiting on Major Eona and then we
can begin." She informed both of them. She was glad
to see her aide had come. She realized that she
didn't have some mindless, fumbling officer on her
hands. Tailon had been in the field before. He was
likely bored with the trivial tasks that she was
handing him. She hoped that Vice Admiral Raven or
General Glin would have a better place for him.
his head as he came to stand behind the Major.
"Major." He said plainly and neutrally, standing at
attention as he watched the others take seats at the
table. He didn't really know what entitled him as an
observer, and whether that meant having a seat at
the table or standing behind his higher officer.
Back during his time as an officer in charge of
security on a planet, he was the one that usually
sat at the table during conferences. However, this
wasn't a security meeting. It was out of his league,
and being conducted by his higher ups. As such, he
decided to play it safe and remain standing.
wasn't exactly unorthodox. Considering the attention
Chandrila had drawn recently and this new debacle
that, even in a best case scenario, left the rebels
more confident, it would have been impossible to
avoid. Like with any incident that put the Empire in
an unfavorable light, someone would be found at
fault. There was going to be a scapegoat, and this
meeting would begin the process of determining who
it was. The name and division that was seeded with
the blame would equally suffer for whatever unfolded
planetside. It was an unfair game, but it was the
one they played.
Eona took a long drag from her cigarra, finishing it
off then dropping it in a disposal unit within her
office. Even after the installation of enhanced
ventilation systems, a thin haze hovered around the
ceiling, the room thick with the odor of the burnt
leaves and paper. She left it behind, heading out
for the meeting, producing a fresh cigarra and
lighting it as she did. The smoke would be finished
by the time she reached the Grand Moff's office, and
once more the butt was disposed of, this time before
she moved inside.
cold, off-putting nature was hardly a secret, for
one who was particularly in tune with non-verbal
communication the Intelligence officer was likely
rather disturbing. It wasn't a natural thing, to be
so devoid of exterior emotional expression. While
she had taken to it rather easily, it was only with
the help if intensive desensitization training that
someone could be scrubbed so clean of such things.
That unpleasant gaze passed briefly over those
gathered as she stepped into the room, moving lastly
over the Grand Moff and his wife before finishing
with the Vice Admiral. This would be his show to
or pleasantries were offered; Major Eona sat,
settled, and waited. There was no sense in playing
her hand until she knew the nature of the game this
Vice Admiral Raven said with a smile, his gaze
lingering over Major Eona for just a second longer
than the others, before returning to his datapad for
one last view of his notes.
begin I'd like to recap our general efforts in the
Shell, none of this information should be new to
anyone; but I hope that it gives you perspective on
why we're here today. We are not winning the war
against the Rebels, and I would say that we are
either slowly losing, or in a stalemate. They slowly
grow more and more bold, attacking larger and more
vital targets, and their membership continues to
swell. While our resources are comparatively
unlimited, they are slowly but surely leveling the
balance of power. Recently, they managed to destroy
a Victory Star Destroyer, with the loss of most of
her crew, her commanding officer, and several
support ships; for the loss of a few picket ships.
For us, this is but a very minor setback,
representing perhaps a quarter of a percent of our
naval assets and firepower; but to them it is a
major propaganda victory. Since that attack, we've
had reports of additional dissidents sprouting up
across the shell, and a surge in Rebel activity."
Admiral paused to scroll down his notes and stopped
on a set of statistics.
the Balance of Power, objectively, there is a
decided ... skill gap, between the Rebel forces and
our own. We control legions of stormtroopers,
armored vehicles, and land defenses, and yet small
bands of their commandos continuously confound our
best efforts at defense and are able to pinpoint
where we are weak and strike. A single one of their
commandos is worth perhaps two hundred stormtroopers,"
he said, before purposefully looking at the General.
"This is, of
course, not a slight against you or your methods. It
is simply a matter of practicality. Our numbers are
bolstered with conscripts, unwilling participants,
or left over clones from the Clone Wars who are
aging and losing combat effectiveness. Each of their
commandos is a battle hardened veteran who is driven
by ideology. I would pit any of our senior staff
against theirs, and would expect victory ... but
simply put, their rank and file soldiers are
"The same goes
for our navy," the Vice Admiral continued, obviously
willing to make the same point about his own branch,
and drawing his eyes back to the center of the
table. "A single one of their Capital Ships is worth
a ship perhaps four times its size, and I would say
that one of their elite pilots is worth the entire
compliment of a Destroyer. Again, this is primarily
due to the nature of each Rebel; they are driven by
desire and fervor while our own forces languish for
just the opposite reason. This approach is not
without its advantages, of course. We can bring
overwhelming force against the Rebels, and each time
we are able to corner them, we have and will
continue to obliterate them. That is why we are here
today; to focus on our ability to corner them." Vice
Admiral Raven drew a breath, and continued.
there was an issue with a shuttle. A shuttle from
the Interrogator herself, which was slated to come
to Chandrila. The contents of the shuttle and its
mission were kept secret from the Navy, and the
Army, with only requests for escort being made of
both branches. It came under attack by Rebel forces,
and my ship responded promptly, as I personally
assumed there was some sort of VIP aboard ... as
again, we were not informed of its contents. We
jumped out of hyperspace onto a significant portion
of the Rebel fleet. There were four capital ships,
including a modified Strike Cruiser which we believe
to be their one and only interdiction asset, along
with several squadrons of starfighters. This fleet
represents one of the biggest threats to us; as
combined with some additional bombers, that fleet
could likely bring down one of our better equipped
attack lines. If, for example, we had been informed
of the contents of the shuttle, it would have been
all-together possible to put together an
interception group which could have destroyed that
entire fleet and brought the Empire the greatest
victory its seen in the two and a half years since
the first Rebel cells in the Shell began to form.
Instead, while we were able to destroy one of their
Corvettes, they were able to escape back into their
hidden hive in the nebula. This entire issue could
have been a major Imperial victory, if not for the
lack of intelligence sharing between our branches."
Admiral repeated his last point, it was the crux of
his argument, but noticeably lacking from it was
specific *blame*. In fact, he didn't blame any one
party independently, it was the system that needed
to be fixed. Michael paused to take a breath and
give the others around the table a moment to digest
the information he'd provided. He wasn't quite done,
but was wrapping up.
would like to know what we can do to improve the
relaying of intelligence and information between the
various branches of our forces. We cannot continue
to keep secrets from each other, as we are *all*
vital to this war effort. I cannot bring the
firepower of my fleets to bear if intelligence
doesn't give me the information to do so. I cannot
invade a planet unless the army is there to actually
put boots on the ground. And both of your branches
require the Navy to at the very least get you from
point A to point B safely, and confound enemy fleets
and ground defenses when we can. I understand the...
need for independence and secrecy, from the
intelligence branch. You do not know where your
enemies are, both internally and externally, and I
appreciate the need for you to keep some information
Admiral smiled widely.
"As such, and
in the interest of providing a potential solution to
the problem that I dragged you all here to talk
about, I propose the following: We appoint an
Intelligence Liaison. A trusted source, vetted by
the Intelligence community and ISB, with a lifeline
to the Navy and Army. Requests for intelligence or
information which are initially denied by ISB or
Intelligence go through this officer, who can then
act as an intermediary and facilitate communication
between each branch. This individual would be, if
you don't mind me using a shockball reference, our
safety. If the Navy or Army believes that there is
something critical that they need to know, and
initial requests are denied, this individual would
be tasked with facilitating its acquisition.
Conversely, if the Navy or Army have information
that they wish to pass on to ISB or Intelligence in
a clandestine manner, which is also quite common,
this individual would receive that information and
disperse it to the proper parties." The Vice
Admiral's gaze fell directly on Major Rodney.
"And I believe
that Major Rodney would be uniquely equipped to
perform those duties, if the Grand Moff is agreeable
leaned back in his chair as he listened to the Vice
Admiral. While he did not agree with the Vice
Admiral's assessment of how valuable a Rebel
commando was against his Stormtroopers, he would, if
pressed, have to admit to a moral problem. The
Rebels in their zealotry were dangerous, willing to
take high risks for high rewards. While his troopers
were able to handle most of them, the fact that some
of their high risk ventures worked was damaging.
narrowed slightly at the suggestion of Major Rodney
to be that liaison. The wife of Grand Moff Rodney
was not exactly in a position to be unbiased. As
well, she had a newborn to take care of, which, if
his reports were correct, she continued to take a
personal hand in.
interesting proposition, Vice Admiral. The truth of
the matter, however, is that we should not have need
of someone to act as a liaison. If there is
information that concerns the Rebels, it should be
available to each branch. We each get pieces of the
puzzle as we each specialize in one form of warfare.
Though my men may argue the point, I know the
Imperial Army and Navy are both equally important to
the might of the Empire.
should create a secure repository of all our
intelligence, giving each branch equal access to the
information." He shrugged, "Since I am not a Navy
man, I am not certain what information would be
helpful to you. However, if you had access to the
information I had, you could determine if any of it
was important to you."
He smiled a
bit at Major Rodney, though the smile did not
exactly reach his eyes, "Besides, I am sure Major
Rodney will resent the additional duties and time
away from her child," returning his gaze towards the
Vice Admiral, "Eventually, this resentment will
cripple the purpose behind your proposal, Vice
for a moment think his proposal would go through.
But he wasn't about to let the Vice Admiral get his
appointee without a fight. Also, he firmly believed
Major Rodney was the wrong person for the position
anyway. What they really needed was someone new to
the sector who wasn't enmeshed in the politics of
the region yet. That left Major Eona and this
Captain Tailon as possibilities. While Major Eona
wasn't exactly new to the region, her time attached
to High Inquisitor Thanor had pulled her out of the
politics for long enough that Glin was willing to
Raven didn't want to make an enemy of General Glin,
the man was clearly intelligent, and knew what he
was doing; however he was slightly annoyed at the
reply, though he wouldn't show it.
a repository as well, General. The issue is the
compartmentalization of intelligence that ISB or
Imperial Intelligence deems 'too critical'. We would
have the same issue as we do now, with some items
still being held secret. You are a hundred percent
correct," he said, agreeing wholeheartedly with at
least part of what the General said, "we *should*
not need one; however our current methodologies are
you're right, about Major Rodney," he admitted
again. "To be honest the reason that I threw her
name into the hat, as it were, is because not only
do I believe she is a competent ISB officer, but she
is also close to the Grand Moff in her official
capacity, and could serve as a good nexus point
between *all* of us. Of course, the Grand Moff, and
the Major herself would have input and veto power
over this. It was merely a suggestion..." He paused,
and smiled, turning his head toward the General.
have someone who you believe would be more fit for
once underway, seemed far less aggressive than Major
Eona had initially expected. Usually there was no
lack of bluster and blame, with little done in the
way of pragmatic, useful work. The problem was
something that she could actually agree with; as a
devoted servant of the Empire and positioned to see
a great deal of what went on in the background,
Serra was well aware of just how much ground they
had lost due to infighting and failures within the
bureaucracy with which the Empire functioned.
must be some angle. Something to be gained. No one
rose through the ranks of the Empire without some
selfish motivation, and no one could hide their
intentions forever. The Vice Admiral played his hand
when he made his recommendation.
plenty of reasons that he might have chosen Major
Rodney. The most obvious was her relation to the
Grand Moff, a man to whom it would no doubt pay off
to be in good standing with. Serra couldn't be
certain this was the intention, but even if it
wasn't, the bonus of such a positive relationship
couldn't hurt. Regardless, she doubted he would have
rushed her name to the forefront without some
motivation for it.
listened still as General Glin spoke, formulating
her own reply as he did so. The key to these
exchanges was staying a few steps ahead, planning
out the right words and deflections based on what
she was likely to face. So far it wasn't an overly
difficult effort, but if there was more at play here
than initially suspected, it no doubt could prove to
of Imperial Intelligence in this Sector Branch, I am
afraid that Major Rodney cannot be confirmed for
access to our information beyond what her current
position already permits." A glance was spared
towards the ISB officer, just to get an idea of how
she reacted to that statement. Her own voice was
even and calm. Eyes returned to the Vice Admiral
then as she continued.
"As you stated
yourself, Imperial Intelligence is unique in that
our investigations and work spread as far internally
as they do externally. I understand that the officer
who previously held my position was, shall we say,
less than forthcoming at times with what could have
been vital information. I can ensure you that
Intelligence will be more reliable going forward,
with less interest in political maneuvering and more
interest in protecting the Empire from all who
threaten it, from both within and without."
For now she
held back on further explanation. Would they accept
her rejection of the ISB Major without fuss? A part
of her hoped not. She was armed for this battle,
more so than most might anticipate, and there was a
certain pleasure to be derived from making use of
As time ticked
by, Sierra began to wonder if Major Eona would be
present for the meeting or not. It was the smell of
her freshly lit cigarra that announced her welcome.
She arrived shortly thereafter. To Sierra's relief,
*everyone* had come. She nodded respectfully to
Major Eona, completely oblivious to what the woman
was doing in her free time concerning her family.
Her head turned towards the Vice Admiral to commit
her attention to him. The tension was building in
the Grand Moff's office. She was waiting for it to
boil over into a screaming match between Major Eona,
Vice Admiral Raven, and General Glin. To her
surprise, Vice Admiral Raven kept a level voice. He
didn't appear angry. When Sierra arranged the
meeting, she thought she was creating a fight
club...not giving Vice Admiral Raven a podium to
voice his opinion. The tension released from her
shoulders. She hoped this meeting would be
productive and not boil down to a screaming match.
played himself differently in the office than when
meeting with her privately, Vice Admiral Raven was
still respectfully blunt. Everyone knew what was
happening with the Rebels within the Shell. It
wasn't good. If the tides didn't begin to shift
soon, then they would be in danger of flat out
losing the war in the Shell. The recent event with
the shuttle was especially disappointing. Raven was
right. They could have made an impact greater on the
waiting Rebels. An impact that would have left their
fleet injured. It was this whole shuttle debacle
that inspired on this meeting. The breakdown in
communication had made everything fall apart. She
glanced down at her datapad, which was currently
displaying the tactical information left by Raven
the other day. She had spent time reviewing both the
tactical information, as well as the sensor log. She
wondered how great the damage could have been if
things had been different.
came down to the main reason they were all gathered
here: improved communication. Sierra believed that
it was vital to their success. This was the circle
of military. No one branch could succeed without the
other. His suggestion of an Intelligence Liaison
seemed logical. She nodded her head in silent
approval. Perhaps this was the way to solve their
problems. Sierra's eyes slowly widened as she
realized that the Vice Admiral's attention had
settled on *her*. He wanted *her* to be the
Intelligence Liaison? She felt hot under the collar
as he unexpectedly cast the limelight over her. Her
eyes briefly darted to her husband as if she was
asking him *really*? Before she had the opportunity
to respond to Vice Admiral Raven, General Glin
She looked at
General Glin, who promptly denied Raven's nomination
of herself. She disliked that General Glin dragged
her personal life into the otherwise professional
conversation. It was true. Sierra was very much so a
mother to her son. That did not mean that she was
weak in her duties to the Empire. Working for her
husband was a motivator to do a good job so he never
had to clean up any of *her* messes. General Glin
had some wild ideas about Sierra. At least Vice
Admiral Raven seemed to like her and have faith in
Eona said her piece. She sided with General Glin,
but for different reasoning. Major Eona couldn't
give her access to any more information? But *why*?
Sierra had never done anything to prove to be
untrustworthy. As shocked as she was, she
internalized it. She wondered how far she could
delve into Intelligence under Major Eona's nose.
What where they doing over there?
I appreciate you suggesting myself as liaison. I
believe I could do a good job if given the role. The
breakdown in communication is constantly hurting us.
I'm the kind of person who looks to resolve
problems, not make them worse. While it is true that
I play a part in my children's lives, I assure you
that it doesn't impact my performance there. It
would be immature of me to grow resentful and cause
problems." She looked to General Glin. Sierra had
grown tired of being an underdog. She had lived in
the shadow of her husband for a long time, but now
she was ready to step out and prove that she could
stand up by herself. "As to what Major Eona has
revealed, as long as I have access to information
that's pertinent, then there should be no problems
as far as that goes. If you all agree for me to
become the Intelligence Liaison, I will do my job
well. If not me ... then who else? Who would you see
nominated, General Glin?"
Rodney believed that if the branches of the Empire
could ever agree and cooperate then they would win
the war, but as he listened to the sector level
officials assigned to his Oversector he began to
understand how the Rebellion had managed to grow and
inflict so much damage on his command. He had
remained staring out the viewport, watching the
endless stream of space traffic moving to and from
the surface of Esseles. As they spoke among
themselves he played a game with himself, attempting
to identify each civilian transport and freighter
before it jumped to hyperspace or landed on the
surface. As such he only heard perhaps one word in
three what the officers were saying, but it was
enough to get the gist of it. There seemed to be
some question and internal debate about how best to
utilize his wife as a liaison, which Vice Admiral
Raven seemed to be in favor of, but General Glin
seemed against it ... Major Eona seemed to be
against everyone in the ISB.
His eyes moved
to the right, seemingly lost in further, silent
contemplation as he looked at the bas-relief of the
two thrantas behind his desk. "I have two biological
daughters," he began, after an eternity of silence,
and initially sounding as if he had gone completely
off topic. "All their life they competed with
another. For my affection. For the affection of
their grandparents. 'Sharing' was a word that never
entered into their vocabulary," he continued, as he
lowered his head and began to reflect. "They were
children. It was understandable. There was a reason
for their actions. Those of you in this room have no
excuse. You are not children," he said, as he
brought his parable to its conclusion.
"We should not
be losing to this ... this *rabble*," he continued,
as voice increased in intensity. "I sometimes feel
as if you are more concerned with the conflict among
yourselves than you are with this Rebel cell," he
concluded, shaking his head, as he moved about the
room, taking a moment to look at each one of them
with his hypnotic brown eyes. "We must make sure
that every branch has the same intelligence. The
same information. Right now the right hand does not
know what the left hand is doing," he said, as he
raised his right hand and outstretched his fingers.
"You must stop thinking as yourselves as feudal
chieftains engaging in petty turf wars and work in
unison to crush our enemy," he said, as he closed
his fingers into a fist.
He felt he had
given a productive talk and made his point, and
perhaps even inspired real change within his
Oversector. If not for the strands of blue Squib fur
spotted upon his tunic he *almost* seemed as if he
knew what he was doing.
smile to himself, he inclined his head towards Major
Rodney, "I meant no disrespect, Major, just taking
the uncomfortable position of dragging a reality
into this conversation. Motherhood makes demands
upon a person not even the Empire can counter. Why,
even the Imperial prostitutes are allowed time to
raise their children, as I know well, overseeing the
many houses that entertain our troops. I only bring
this up so you will know what experience I am
hardly keep from laughing at the implied insult that
the Major was an Imperial prostitute. He had not had
much interaction with Major Rodney and now that she
was irrevocably attached to the Grand Moff, it was
time to test her mettle. Before she could interrupt
him, he continued, "As for my own recommendation,
while I will personally vouch for her competence, I
hardly think the others at this table would agree to
Lieutenant Jenson taking on this duty. However, I
believe, taking into consideration the Grand Moff's
point, that we need someone new to the area."
Captain Tailon with a look, "I propose Captain
Tailon for the position. As one recently from the
field, his experience will help in coordinating the
information. As well, he is not currently embroiled
in our bickering, as the Grand Moff so bluntly put
in his chair, he said, "There, now you have my
nomination." His eyes held an amused look as he
prepared to watch the chaos erupt. Someone would be
appointed, he knew. If it was Major Rodney, he would
deal with the injured pride from his veiled insult.
If it were the Captain, then he would have a tie to
the young man having given him a leg up in an
otherwise dull career move.
A glance at
Major Eona revealed little. He wondered that she had
taken his side. Perhaps, a working relationship
could be forged here instead of the dysfunctional
one they had with Howe.
The Grand Moff
was feeling quite confident after his monologue,
which made General Glin's slight all the more
irritating. He paused, stopping dead in his tracks,
as he considered what the General said. The anger
that flowed through him was quite unprofessional,
but he was a husband first, and a Grand Moff second.
He clenched his jaw so tightly that his face began
to tremble, and his hand instinctively curled into
fists. His head snapped to stare down the General
and if looks could kill his eyes would have fired a
blast equivalent to the Death Star's superlaser. He
was moving in a flash, perhaps too fast, as he came
to a halt in front of the Army commander. Suddenly
everything he spoke about cooperation between the
branches went out the window and he was preparing to
lay the man out. He raised his right index finger,
and pointed it right in the General's face, as his
hand shook as much as his head.
"I will not
tolerate talk like that, General," he said, as drops
of spittle flew from his mouth as he finally began
to speak. He knew that Colonel Zevrin had appointed
then-Lieuteant Dakkar to be his aide long before
their marriage, or even their relationship had
begun. "There is a Storm commando posted directly
outside my office. And I will order any one who
makes a comment like that thrown out the nearest
airlock," he warned General Glin, and then everyone
else in the room. His nostrils will flaring and he
was snorting like a nerf in heat. The General had
succeeded in getting him off his skin and unnerving
him. He looked to Sierra, his aide turned wife, to
calm down, but he only became more angry.
Rodney will be the liaison. She has my utmost trust
and confidence," he explained, as he made a
deliberate point of turning his back to the General.
"I want her to have access to *everything*," he
said, as he shot a glance to Major Eona. With that,
he moved from the group to the opposite end of his
office where a pitcher contained cold water. His
hand shook as he poured himself a glass, and he said
nothing while he slowly drank it. He hoped the cold
temperature would cool him down. It did not.
had come locked, loaded, and ready. Before her, her
comrades, *and* her husband, the General tactlessly
compared her to an Imperial prostitute. Internally,
Sierra was appalled. It wasn't the first time she
had heard comparisons like such, but it was the
first time that it came down from a General, someone
who she expected to have more respect. The meeting
had turned into something she might experience back
at the Alderaan Select Academy for Young Ladies. She
recalled how her upperclassmen would tease her for
being strange. Her blood pressure was rising so
quickly that her head felt dizzy. Sierra Rodney had
grown tired of this collective attitude against her.
She had been the Governor's adjutant for over half a
year. If she did not lay down her foot right here,
when would the insults end. She calmly set down her
datapad. Upon further inspecting, one might see a
slight shake to her gloved hands. She narrowed her
eyes and turned her attention on General Glin. As
her mouth opened to slay the beast before her, it
was her husband's voice which rode over her own.
*furious*. She was glad Doctor Tohan was not there
monitoring his heart because it seemed as if it was
on the verge of exploding. Sierra immediately
realized that if she continued to be visibly angry,
it was going to fuel her husband on. She tried to
release it, sit back, and let Claudius lay into Glin
... and that was exactly what he did. His threat
rang out in his office for all to hear...and then
came his order. To the disapproval of General Glin
and Major Eona, Sierra became the liaison between
departments. She worried that this was starting off
on the wrong foot. They had disagreed about who
deserved the job. Claudius had shown everyone what
it was to insult his wife, let alone do anything to
hurt her. She looked at him. She still felt bitter
and angry at Glin. She was glad to see him
reprimanded. She lifted her hand to her head to
massage at her temples. She wasn't sure how to
follow up her husband's outburst. She hoped General
Glin had learned his lesson and wouldn't open his
mouth and insert his foot into it again. While
Claudius served himself with a drink of water,
Sierra spoke. "See to it that the Governor's orders
are followed. Vice Admiral Raven has shed light on a
very serious issue between all the branches. I do
not care how you feel about me on a personal front.
. ." She said, her eyes drifting to Major Eona, then
General Glin. "I do not care how you feel about me
on a professional front. What I do care is that you
aid your comrades. So get over yourselves and make
this work. We want to see more Imperial wins, not
bickering between our officers."
It was going
to be a fight. Major Eona had expected as much. She
was prepared for it, invited it even, and as the
Grand Moff and the Vice Admiral laid out their
rebuttals, her own was formulating. Lips began to
part...and then General Glin said his piece. It
wouldn't have done any harm if not for the insult,
and at that point the situation unraveled. Any hope
of salvation disappeared when the Grand Moff acted
with predictable defensiveness and poorly timed
assertiveness. It was a decision that fell
ultimately to him, after all. There were very few
who could pull rank on Claudius, and those people
were not inclined to take an interest in the affairs
of this system unless things began to truly fall
the looks they gave her, could read them clear as
day. The Rodneys had pegged her as an enemy at this
point; an uncooperative part of the mechanism. For
all their talk about unity, lines were being drawn.
and Sierra said theirs, it seemed time for her to
talk, and so she would. The voice came out with the
same even tone as before, but there was a certain
hardness in her features that hadn't been there
before. They were, indirectly, accusing her of being
difficult for the sake of rivalry. It was time to
set the record straight in the most damning way
possible. "I feel my intentions have been misjudged,
so allow me to clarify. My loyalty is to the Empire,
and to no one else, and for that reason I must take
certain precautions. Among them is allowing
sensitive information to fall into the hands of
rebel sympathizers...including households with known
ties to them, and unpredictable entities within
their care. If you want full access to Imperial
Intelligence, then the family of the liaison must be
fully vetted, considering the Rodney house's recent
history with the rebellion. The entire family." A
pointed look fell to the blue fir smeared across
both Sierra and Claudius's tunics, before settling
her eyes on the Grand Moff himself. It wasn't an
outlandish expectation...for all intents and
purposes, it was well within her capacity to insist
upon it. The implications, however, were not
interesting for Tailon to watch this bickering.
Amusing, even. At his previous post, he had
definitely had his share of in-fighting. It never,
however, got to lengths like this was becoming. He
wasn't surprised, though, as many of the academy
Officers and instructors encouraged ruthlessness,
and fighting to the top was the biggest priority.
Tailon had taken this training to heart, and used it
against enemies of the Empire. However, it seemed to
be another thing entirely to see it happen amongst
your own superiors. It almost seemed to lower the
high pedestal they seemed to sit on above the common
officer and man: expose their humanity.
even wince at the Grand Moff's outburst, knowing
full well of the Storm Commando positioned outside.
What did catch his ear, however, was Glin's sudden
recommendation of him taking the role being
discussed. *What is he up too*...
expressionless as the Grand Moff went into his rant.
Touched a nerve, I see, was his only thought. When
the Grand Moff was done with his threats, he said,
"Tolerate talk like what, Grand Moff? I meant no
insult to your lovely wife, merely attempting to
make a point, forgive me that it was crudely done, I
am, at heart, still a soldier and lacking the
refinement of a diplomat."
He locked eyes
with the Grand Moff, "Your reaction highlights the
point, however. Children have no place aboard a
warship," he said, his voice determined. "Even the
lowest of those who serve the Empire know that. Are
not children the next generation? Are they not the
future we are fighting to create and preserve? Are
they not deserving of the full attention of their
Major Rodney, "Her child is why I do what I do, to
provide a safe future. But I cannot do that if the
child is in harm's way. The Retributor is an
Imperial warship, not a pleasure cruiser, Grand Moff.
It is time you remembered this. As a soldier, and
from experience, it never goes well positioning
oneself between a mother and her child. As I value
the lives of myself and the soldiers under my
command, I will not have them subjected to the time
when she is put into a position of having to decide
between the Empire and her child. Were her child to
be fostered elsewhere, my main objection to Major
Rodney holding the position disappear. As long as
the child remains aboard this or any other warship,
I will object and object loudly."
back in his chair, "This is the main reason I have
never had children. My service to the Empire comes
first, I dislike entanglements to my loyalty," then
he chuckled slightly, "That and the lack of desire
by a woman to sire a child by me." He said softly,
in a wry voice, but loud enough to be heard, "I
can't for the life of me imagine why," poking fun at
general had made his not-so-polite point, Vice
Admiral Michael Raven had turned his head toward
Grand Moff Rodney, instantly curious as to how the
man would respond. That response was everything that
he expected and more, though it was all together
surprising it happened in the first place. He had
considered Major Rodney a good choice for the
position, objectively, and had prepared bulleted
responses to several of the issues he thought could
be brought up against her, and was ready to
articulate them but yield if the negative pressure
had proven to be too much. That said, the Grand Moff
had the final say on this, and most issues involving
the over sector, and his word was the gospel. The
outburst had served two purposes, he thought to
himself. The first was that his appointee was going
to be put into place, and it was *very* clear that
this was the decision of the Grand Moff. The second
was that both the General and the Intelligence
Commander had both said very ... interesting things.
He had made notes on both of them, small quotes; to
look over later and do a little bit of his own
digging. Nothing untoward, of course, but a man in
his position *also* had sources of intelligence and
information that were outside normal channels.
General continuing to trade verbal barbs with the
Grand Moff, Michael had finally had enough, and
cleared his throat slightly to command attention.
Gentlemen," he said, shifting his datapad slightly.
"I am not sure that any further back-and-forth is
going to do anything except exacerbate the problem
we have between our branches. General, if that is
your major issue with Major Rodney, then I would
suggest you bring your point up to Admiral T'Jarell.
The presence of children on board starships falls
completely under her purview as Fleet Admiral of the
unit that the Retributor is under."
Major Eona next, *her* statement had been the
interesting one, but there was nothing to be done at
this point ... the Grand Moff had spoken. She had
made an interesting point, however, and it deserved
as I understand it, Major Rodney does indeed have a
high enough level security clearance that allows
here to see *most* of the data that would be
necessary to disseminate between our branches. The
information she would need to know, I'm sure, would
be focused on military applications, and not
internal security. Those files would remain the way
they are now, allowing you do perform your..." he
paused, considering his words, before continuing.
"Appropriate diligence, without untoward
interference. I am of course assuming that is what
you are worried about."
Admiral looked down at his pad one more time and
tapped a few commands in.
case, regardless of how everyone feels of the
situation at hand, I believe the Grand Moff has made
a decision. We should reconvene at some time and
determine if our new methodology is working." He
smirked slightly, glancing over at the General.
"Perhaps next time via Holo."
The Grand Moff
felt cornered in a way that he wished the Rebellion
could be cornered. He looked at his own reflection
in the viewport, pressing his hand to the
transparisteel and simply wishing that he could
transport himself and his family onto one of the
freighters jumping out of the system and start anew.
Unfortunately, he was a gentleman first, and could
not simply run away when things became difficult for
he had his personal honor and that of his family to
consider. When Major Eona suggested an intelligence
review of the entire family he cringed, remembering
how such things had impacted his family before. He
did not want them investigating his wife, his
daughters, his brothers, his in-law. He curled his
left hand into a fist and knocked it on the
"I will review
the matter further," he said, without turning to
face them. He was giving more attention to the
nearby Perlemian Trade Route than he was the
officers in the room. "Dismissed," he ordered, as he
finally moved away from the viewport and circled
'round his desk until he settled back into his
chair. He looked at the half-full bowl of starfruit
on his desk, but declined to grab one for fear of
making a mess while the others were still present.
It would have to wait. He looked to his wife,
briefly, and grimaced. *This* is why they were
losing the war.
was becoming worse and worse. The very last thing
Sierra wanted was for Major Eona to begin combing
through her and her family's life. They'd find
things...things that would put everyone at risk.
General Glin had insulted her, but Major Eona had
punched the air out of her lungs. Sierra was ready
to give in and allow Major Eona and General Glin to
have their way. It was clear to her, if she became
the liaison, they weren't going to be forthcoming
with information. Every time someone needed
something would be like pulling teeth. General Glin
also called for changes in her presence in her son's
life. It was true that she did, often, bring him
aboard the Retributor, however, he was never a
distraction for other officers. She felt persecuted:
cornered. She had no answers to any of this anymore.
She looked down at the blackened screen of her
datapad. She wanted the meeting to end...and it
seemed Claudius did too. His words made her
internally relax. They'd need to talk out what came
next once everyone else had departed. With a quick
glance towards him, Sierra rose. "Thank you all for
coming. I will send an agenda when the Governor is
prepared to meet again." She saw to herding their
guests and pushing them to leave. She ended up
walking beside Vice Admiral Raven. "I highly doubt
you're going to get what you want, Vice Admiral."
She warned him quietly.
stood from his chair, bowed slightly to the
Governor, Vice Admiral and Major Eona in that order.
Totally ignoring Major Rodney, he caught the eye of
Captain Tailon for a brief moment, then walked out
the door. He was silent on the way back to his
shuttle, his eyes dark as he reviewed the meeting,
analyzing the reactions.
Raven was correct about one thing, future meetings
would probably take place via holo. The Retributor,
he had momentarily forgotten, was not his turf.
Foolish, it had been, to challenge the old man in
his own lair, though the implications of what he
observed were well worth the risk.
in his thoughts, his shuttle left the Retributor. He
knew now why the Empire was losing ground in
Chandrila. The question he needed to work out was
what to do about it and how to safeguard his own
interests. This would take time he hoped he had
before the old fool brought ruin to them all.
devolved, as they often did. Hasty proposals, snap
decisions, quick insults and quicker tempers. It
wasn't anything terribly unexpected, and Major Eona
had her own part to play in how things had come to
pass, but she knew that her options were limited.
From her experience, giving even the slightest bit
of ground when it came to access to sensitive
information opened doors for much worse. The idea of
a liaison wasn't particularly to her liking, but
having one in a family which had already proven
compromised...well, she had said what she would on
the matter. At the end of the day the decision fell
on Claudius. Serra could only remind him of what his
As the meeting
was dismissed, she rose, addressing each of those
present in turn. "Major. Vice Admiral. General. My
Lord." The assistant wasn't bothered with for now. A
hand slipped inside her tunic, producing a cigarra.
She lit it, took a deep inhale, and turned to leave.
Major Eona had
no doubt there would be a liaison in place sooner
rather than later, and duty would require her to
work with them to some degree. As she walked further
down the hall, thoughts turned over the possibility
of Major Rodney taking the position. If she did,
then the vetting would be all but required, and that
alone could present opportunities. Mulling that over
on the way to her offices lead to the decision that,
should the Grand Moff follow through with his intent
to place her in this new position, she would present
no further objections.
abrupt dismissal by Grand Moff Rodney, Vice Admiral
Raven said his pleasantries and left. He quickly
found himself walking beside Major Rodney, and as
she said her piece he couldn't help but smile.
Major. I've already gotten everything I wanted." He
motioned for her to follow, as he took a roundabout
way back toward the hangar that contained his
now know what Intelligence and the Army think of you
and your family. Remember that. Think about what
both the Major and General said, and I think you'll
have an advantage over them both. Honestly it was a
bonus, I didn't expect the two of them to be so ...
blunt ... about what they thought about both you and
the Grand Moff. Second ... even if you, as a
liaison, help in one instance, my objective has been
accomplished. You have to understand my primary goal
is to crush the Rebellion. We represent order and
peace, and they do nothing but introduce chaos. I
invite you to check my file if you doubt my words...
I have not made friends in climbing to my position.
Honestly I'd probably be a full Admiral by now, had
I played the game." The Vice Admiral mused for just
a moment, wondering how different things would be if
*he* had command of the Retributor. He cast these
"Major, it is
important you know my motivations. I fear that the
Rebels are on the verge of a great victory. Not in
our eyes, but in the eyes of the masses that we
maintain control of. Every ship they destroy, every
asset they sack, and every small win is but a pin
prick to you or I ... but to the people, they are
daggers into the heart of a machine they don't
understand and they think is invulnerable. Every
little nick and wound is a strike against God; and
it empowers them to think they too can rise up
against us. And so they join the Rebels; becoming
part of a self-fulfilling prophecy and weakening the
Empire. For example, take our Star Destroyers. We
have dozens of them, and order them around as if
they were pawns on a chess board; expendable. They
are powerful ships, able to subjugate worlds without
firing a single shot; their mere *presence* is
enough to bring a people to its knees... And while
the loss of any one Destroyer is literally nothing
to us, and we can replace them in a matter of weeks
along with their personnel ... to the *people* they
are symbols of the Emperor's presence and power. The
loss of a single one of these ships to *them* is a
tremendous blow and instantly becomes a rallying cry
against the Empire."
Admiral sighed, glancing at his datapad.
some point these games are going to give the Rebels
their victory. They'll corner and obliterate one of
our Star Destroyers, or take out a commander such as
General Glin or myself; they'll do *something* to
incite the masses into action against us. It is my
hope that what we've done here today will at the
very least delay that, if not stop it entirely. You
won't hear this anywhere but here, but we are under
strength and struggling. Compounding that is all of
the bickering between divisions and the politics,
which just serve to divide us further. As I said
before, we *are* losing."
stopped in his stride, looking toward Major Rodney.
said, looking her directly in her eyes. "Just
remember that words are only that. You can be called
a whore, they can call me incompetent or a fool...
None of that matters. What matters is what we do,
and our motivations behind it. I for one will
continue to fight for order because I believe it is
right ... and I hope that you'll help me accomplish
Raven took a deep breath.
"I am glad
that the Grand Moff saw the wisdom in appointing you
as the Intelligence Liaison, and I look forward to
working with you... Sir."
was interesting* Tailon shrugged it off, no one
acknowledging him as they started to leave the room.
Which made sense, he supposed. With the exception
being General Glin. The Generals sudden interest in
him made Tailon feel ... uneasy. Did he want
something with him? In whatever case, there was
little Tailon could do about it. He would have to
wait and see. His days in the Academy had taught him
patience, so he would very well use it.
case, the meeting was done and over, with the only
thing seeming to have been accomplished was a bunch
of hurt and angered feelings, and the Major gaining
a promotion of sorts. "More datapad work for me to
organize." Tailon though begrudgingly. Tailon
remained where he stood, waiting to see if the major
would simply dismiss or, require a report, or
continued to walk alongside the Vice Admiral towards
his craft. Her eyebrows arched. How had he gotten
what he wanted? Claudius had appointed her as
liaison, but both General Glin and Major Eona had
put gigantic road blocks in front of her. She was
feeling like she needed to step down and allow
Captain Tailon to step into the spotlight,
especially after Major Eona made it clear that she
wanted to delve deep into the family. Sierra was
feeling more than a little worn after the meeting.
She couldn't wait to find herself in the privacy of
her husband's office where they could have a long
chat about what happened.
two of us. The lack of tact from Major Eona and
General Glin was ridiculous." Sierra had never
played the political game. Before she was promoted
to Commander and Claudius' adjutant, she had been a
Lieutenant for some time. That was mainly because
she never kissed ass. She did her job, and for that,
a higher up ISB officer had dug her claws into
Sierra and used her. She felt that the Vice Admiral
was an honorable man. He cared for the overall
objective of defeating the Rebels, not for his own
personal gain. As the conversation drew towards the
fight in the Shell against the Rebel, Vice Admiral
Raven force fed her what she knew to be true. He was
right. Each time the Rebels one, they spread their
message of 'hope' throughout the galaxy. An influx
of new Rebels came in each time they defeated the
Empire. The situation with the shuttle, for
instance, would heighten the problems on Chandrila.
They were about to lose support on that planet. How
would they get it back?
Admiral, I fear the same. There have been far too
many loses for us lately. The Shell is suffering. As
we speak, the people living in the city of Rhire on
Rhinnal are without power. Why? Because the Rebel
Starfighters blew their hydroplants to smithereens
and we don't have the means of fixing them with any
kind of urgency. Rhire is quickly becoming a
breeding ground for the Rebels. Every day that
passes without power, they will feel more like their
Empire had turned its back on them." Sierra had her
hand forced on the Rhire situation. She had
contacted an upcoming politician and arranged a deal
with him. He would use his funds to make her problem
disappear. In return, she arranged a security droid
to be send to him. The deal seemed like a good one,
she simply hoped it didn't come back around to bite
her in the rear end.
visibly pained by those words: *We are losing*. "You
sound so confident. I'm beginning to wonder if we
were both sitting in on different meetings." She
seemed to be deflating after holding herself so
tense for the entire duration of the meeting. "How
am I to be a liaison between our branches when
General Glin and Major Eona made their feelings
crystal clear? I worry this will be a
counterproductive endeavor. By aligning yourself
with me, you're forcing your hand in these games
people like the General play. You should not throw
yourself into the crossfire if you can avoid it. If
what the Governor wants becomes a reality, getting
information from the General is going to be like
don't want to lose. I hate it when I'm forced to
watch a defeat over the holotank. I want more
triumphs. I convinced the Governor to attack
Brentaal IV and, for once, we saw a win. I grow
tired of people like the General assuming they know
about me because of my personal relationship. Words
mean nothing. It is actions that show others what we
are capable of. I want to help you, Vice Admiral. I
don't want to play these idiotic politics games like
they do. My efforts are better used elsewhere. I
want to make my *husband* victorious." She clenched
her hand into a fist. She had some serious worries
about Major Eona...worries that could make her step
down entirely. The idea of someone looking at her
family under a microscope was terrible. The Vice
Admiral couldn't begin to understand what went on
within her family.
"To be frank,"
the Vice Admiral said as he strode down the grey
hallways toward one of the Retributor's hangars, "we
likely *aren't* in the same meetings. I see our
logistics information for the fleet, whereas you
likely have so many things crossing your desk and
plenty of work for the Grand Moff that demands your
attention. I fortunately don't have to deal with the
politics, for the most part."
chuckled, grinning a bit. "The General and I aren't
in the same league, though he likes to think he is.
There's a healthy rivalry between branches that can
serve advantageous, but he seems to take it to an
extreme. There's very little, if anything, he can
actually do to countermand me. Sera and the ISB are
another story, but that would likely need to come
from someone of a higher position, and even then...
I am a Fleet Admiral, and answer only to the Grand
Moff and Admiral T'Jarrel. I have been examined
thoroughly by ISB and Imperial Intelligence. My ...
faith, is not in question."
He was right.
Information passed over her desk in endless streams.
It was hard to keep on top of everything. Sierra
worked hard, but it seemed that few noticed that.
Many of the simple-minded folk were centered in on
who her husband was, not who *she* was. Claudius had
warned her of Sera Eona. She was better off staying
away from the woman, yet now she seemed to be
closing in on her. He had, however, had nothing bad
to say about the Vice Admiral. His faith truly
wasn't in question. "It ought to be nice to be as
clean as a whistle, Vice Admiral. I have been devout
to the Empire since I graduated from the Imperial
Academy, however, we all know about my family's
Rebel ties. I belong to the ISB and I understand the
kind of tactics my branch uses..." She said,
recalling that every 'classified' report she made on
her patients was read. People then were terminated
depending on how far 'gone' they were. "I do not
know that any good will come of this."
good that will come is either we will succeed, smash
the Rebels, and render their objections completely
moot. Or, we will fail, it will force their hand,
and we will have resolution one way or another." The
Vice Admiral said, glancing down at his datapad.
way, the petty politics should resolve themselves,
and we will move forward. The risk is minimal, while
you may have ... sympathizers ... in your family,
both you and the Grand Moff are clean, aren't you?"
He didn't expect her to actually answer that, it was
more rhetorical than anything. "And the worst that
likely happens is we lose a few political points and
the General or Major Eona get a liaison they can
more easily manipulate. The best that happens is we
finally secure the Shell."
*Clean* was a
pretty big label for both Sierra and Claudius. Given
that her eldest stepdaughter was now acting as a
leader on a secret Rebel community which *she* had
been to? Sierra wouldn't exactly say she was squeaky
clean. She was beginning to sweat in her uniform.
The idea of someone looking through her family like
that was stressful to say the least. She didn't
respond to the rhetorical question. Instead, she let
it hang in the air. "Securing the Shell is the
ultimate goal. I am not concerned with what either
the General or Major Eona thinks nor how many
political points I hold. I have the Grand Moff on my
side. He knows me and he knows my capabilities
better than any of them do." She was going to have a
long conversation with him about the meeting once
she returned to his office. As she walked, she
reached up and removed her cap. "I'm sure we'll be
seeing each other again soon. If something
noteworthy happens, please keep me in the loop."
Major." The Vice Admiral smiled and glanced over at
her. He paused, and considered his next words
carefully, as he had been forced to do several times
today. Michael opened his mouth to speak, and in a
rare moment, closed it again; deciding *not* to say
something. He was aware of a pregnant pause hanging
in the air, and broke it a few more impossibly long
situation with the Grand Moff is complex, for
obvious reasons. I think you should strive to show
your merits independently of that bond; and I
believe that this appointment is your opportunity to
do so. I hope that if there are any developments,
you also keep me in the loop; when applicable." He
stopped walking once reaching the open door to the
this is my stop."
paused just outside of the door to the hangar. It
was time to say goodbye to the Vice Admiral. She had
a good feeling that she would be seeing him again in
the near future no matter how things went. She
understood the importance of having the ability to
stand on her own, however, she wasn't afraid to play
her most powerful card should people push her too
far. She nodded her head slowly. "Yes, of course.
That is what the meeting was about, right? Improved
communication." Sierra smiled. "Good day, Vice
Admiral. Expect to hear about my appointment in a
few days when the Governor makes the announcement
official." She stepped back and turned around. Vice
Admiral Raven seemed like the kind of person she
wanted to form an alliance with.
Admiral watched Major Rodney walk away for several
steps before adjusting his cap and making his way
into the hangar. He navigated the cavernous hangar
before walking toward a waiting Lambda-class Shuttle
which was already softly thrumming with power. A
single Stormtrooper Commando stood at the bottom of
the loading ramp, and saluted as the Vice Admiral
"How did it
go, sir?" The Stormtrooper Commando spoke, before
turning and joining the Vice Admiral in his stride
up the loading ramp.
"Quite well, I
think. The Major was appointed by the Grand Moff as
I'd hoped, and I think we'll be able to work closely
with her. We'll give her a few days to get
acclimated before introducing her to Operation White
Dawn. That should give us a good indication on how
much we'll be able to expect out of her. Is your
ready to go as soon as the order's given, sir."
Michael said as the loading ramp to the Lambda rose
and the shuttle activated its repulsors to leave the
Retributor. "Take us back to the Ascension." He
ordered the pilot as he took his seat, the
Stormtrooper Commando sitting across from him.
"Let's see how
good the Major really is..."