Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Christopher Levy and Sarah Riggs-Shute.
Zero years before the Battle of Yavin (35:4:1) in the Brentaal system: Warspite.
Lieutenant Allegra Ames, Major Kerrie Kiley, Vice Admiral Claudius Rodney, Inquisitor Serine Thanor, and Doctor Pilaq Tohan.

The cold corridors of the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer with Warspite were filled with hundreds of thousands of bustling crewmembers focused on the countless, and often thankless, tasks that were required to operate a starship. Like a complex hive the men, and a handful of women, busied themselves with both the mundane and important work of the Imperial Navy. Each deck was filled with life and the cacophony of sounds echoed throughout the ship. This same scene was repeated throughout the entire mighty vessel in all areas, save one. The passageways that surrounded the quarters of Inquisitor Serine Thanor seldom saw any real flow of crewmembers as the woman had become the subject of much gossip and innuendo. Junior officers would often overcomplicate their tasks, painstakingly navigating away from that section of the ship to avoid the potential misadventure. If the vessel were to be compared to a heart, that section of the ship had become a clogged artery through which only a trickle of life blood still flowed. One individual, however, was not the least bit frightened as the reward seemed to greatly overshadow any risk: Lieutenant Allegra Ames. The young woman wearing a neatly-pressed Imperial uniform made her way towards the Inquisitor's cabin, her usual look of disdain completely dominating her facial landscape. Clearing her throat of any parched sensations to avoid the potential stammer, she pressed down the call button adjacent to the door to indicate her arrival.

Ever since that fateful day when Lieutenant Allegra had the audacity to send a subordinate lackey to summon Serine, has the traffic in the hallway leading up to the Inquisitor's room come a dead silence. There were accounts of puddles of blood that the unfortunate janitorial crew had to mop up due to Thanor's vicious yet obedient Nexu dragging the helpless and lifeless body of Allegra's subordinate across the halls. As if the rumors and stories surrounding the woman were not enough, fear of bestiality due to sudden predators leaping from the shadows gripped the hearts and souls of the crew. This was the expected and desired outcome, perhaps, Serine mused, this would keep the officers in check, for they too could be the next victim... Finally things may be accomplished on this ship, however, she had yet to hear from the good Admiral for four whole days. No summons, no reports... nothing. Her small victory in terrifying the crew was overshadowed by complete lack of progress. The Inquisitor sat in the middle of the room in deep meditation of which that could not simply be broken by a simple ring. She had not expected any calls or visitors, nor had she received any, even from her most trusted Intel, namely Allegra. Not even her bumbling yet brilliant pilot Randi nor her odd friend/rival Kerrie paid her mind, and thus she spent hours in meditation to gather her thoughts on the situation. Though she was trained in the dark arts, at times, even she resorted to old Jedi-techniques. Allegra would surely have to wait for some time before Serine would come around, or, be brave and try the door... It was clearly unlocked.

Allegra's nose crinkled slightly as the door failed to open. Perhaps she had come at a bad time, but many around her would argue that there was no such thing as a 'good' time when it came to Inquisitor Thanor. Her leather-clad gloved hands intertwined behind her back, causing the faintest squeak of leather to echo down the vacant hallway. Her jaw clenched uncomfortably, wondering what had happened to the promptness she had come to expect as a member of the Imperial military. At this moment in time she had believed her career had reached a dead end in a stagnant command, attached to an Admiral in the midst of a nervous breakdown. Serving in a front-line sector had advantages, but only when victory was commonplace. Although no one spoke it aloud, there was a definite defeatist attitude beginning to creep up amongst the ranks. All of the momentum that had been gained when Admiral Rodney was re-appointed commander of the region had been lost as his mind focused on his personal life, rather than his command. At first it was just the ambitious young officers like Allegra who were concerned and plotting, but the past week had caused many to grow disillusioned. With the Admiral no longer having faith in the ISB, and distrusting of those around him, his paranoia had kept him detached and rarely seen. The Inquistor, however, had no such excuse and the tardiness with which it was taking her to respond to the door was gradually fraying Allegra's last nerve.

Indeed it was very strange that the Inquisitor was not answering her door. The woman was known so far for many things, but one certainly was not disregard for promptness. Serine, much like Rodney, had not been seen for days, no doubt more rumors surfacing, but so many other possibilities were probably. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on perspective, the Inquisitor was merely meditating in her room, and not a corpse lying in a pool of blood with a head severed. It would be a good 30 minutes before there was sounds of stirring inside and at last, the door would slide open revealing Serine Thanor, infamy well deserved it seemed. She was well known for her armorweave attire, never removing it, even in formal events, though she would at times wear the more traditional robes of the Inquisitorius over it. There was a hazy gaze to her gray eyes, peering but unfocused on the woman before her. "Lieutenant, I trust you have information for me." Said assuming and expectantly as she peered into the hallway behind Allegra, eyes scanning up and down the corridors before taking a step back to allow her guest to enter the room. The large Nexu was slumbering peacefully in the corner, appearing completely harmless for now. The beast took her orders well, posing no threat to Allegra as long as the woman trusted Serine... curious. "I was beginning to think the crew of this ship abandoned their post and fled into space." Wouldn't that be a fun report to give Pestage. "Your report Lieutenant." She gave no motion for the other to sit down, nor did she move, but stood before the other intently and waiting the other's information.

During the thirty minute interlude, the young woman's carefully crafted cosmetics had begin to wear, succumbing under the strain of near-constant brow rubbing and the presence of flop sweat. Now looking rather ordinarily she did her best to maintain a generally positive outward demeanor, forcing what little of a smile she could muster on her obviously-fatigued face. On the inside she was seething with resentment on having been made to wait for such an unusually long duration, but she was clever enough to realize that any attempt to voice such displeasure would result in a fate worthy of the rumors swirling about the Inquisitor. "Milady," she began with a formal nod as she took up a rather uncomfortable position in the sparsely decorated quarters. "The situation is becoming untenable and it is my hope something can be done about it," she explained, the level of resentment building in her voice like a symphonic melody as she continued. "The Admiral has sequestered himself and sector-wide operations are now in the hand of field commanders. There is no coordination whatsoever," she continued to explain as she shook her head with some level of disgust. "There must be some order brought to this situation before we find ourselves in His Majesty's displeasure," she reasoned, with a somewhat justified level of dread as her eyes moved slowly across the room, looking over at the nexu with some hesitation. "You can be quite reasonable," she said, unable to hold back the grin that was forcing itself onto her face. "...perhaps you can 'reason' with him," she explained, a soft snicker following her words as she imagined the possibilities.

Serine listened to the other's fears and anxieties rather patiently actually, perhaps because someone other than herself, was finally seeing the situation for what it is. "Interesting that you should point that out to me, since I never thought there was ever any coordination in this establishment. Confidence in the chain of command is obviously in question, which is exactly my reasoning for being here, Lieutenant." Something needed to be done, that much was certain. If anyone had anything to lose, it was the Inquisitor. She would be directly to blame despite the many shortcomings of the Admiral... and Serine did not wish to be punished for that man's failure. It was all somewhat amusing despite the situation, as she never signed up for marriage counseling, nor was she properly trained to be a psychiatrist. "Perhaps I should give the good Admiral a visit. It is unfortunate that I do not have the power to remove him myself..." A short pause as she seriously contemplated the direct and gruesome approach of a coup, but it was followed by a sigh... Her orders were to advise and report, and that was exactly what she was going to do. "... but I can report his lack of sustainability. If you will excuse me, I have a duty to perform." And with that Serine exited the room swiftly, leaving Allegra alone with the Nexu that was stirred awake by the sudden movement. Hungry eyes peered towards the unfamiliar woman in the room.

Allegra's eyes widened slightly as she looked over at the stirring Nexu, which looked in need of a meal now that it had awoken. Feeling a tightness in her throat, a gloved hand moved towards her collar, pulling it at to loosen it slightly to seek out more comfort. Finally able to swallow, she backed out of the room, creeping like a thief in the night as she stealthily made her escape. She let out a deep, exhausted sigh as she slumped against the bulkhead once the Inquisitor's door had sealed, and then immediately she began to undo her tunic so that she might better take in the air. Once again it seemed the pieces were in motion, but now it was time for her to sit back and watch to ensure her cleanliness when the dust settled.

In front of the Admiral's quarters, Major Kerrie Kiley stood rigidly, looking more like a sculpture than a human being. Her eyes were glazed over, staring unobtrusively at the turbolift door as she maintained her duty station in front of the sealed bulkhead door that secured the Admiral and his family. Since the kidnapping and torture of Lady Htaere, and the resulting miscarriage, the situation was bleak with day-to-day operations falling to his less-than-able subordinates. She had orders to let anyone pass, as the Admiral dealt with the grief from the loss of his unborn child and the obsessive overprotection he had put in place during the past week. Kerrie was not sure what to do, and did her best to shield the Admiral and his present condition from the outside world as she hoped time would enable him to regain his composure.

Kerrie would be alerted to the sound of the turbolift being accessed. Only a select elite few had the ability to even use it, and those most likely already were given orders to not disturb the Admiral, and yet, the turbolift was in use. Though was it really that surprising to see the Inquisitor exiting the turbolift door - the only person who would directly disregard the Admirals orders, openly at least. Serine was on a mission, it was obvious to see, and her determination was legendary. She strolled brashly right up to Kerrie unhindered with an intense glare focused upon the so-called guard to the Admiral's inner chambers. "Step aside Major, I will be speaking to the Admiral." The two had a rather colorful history, going from rivals to friends to rivals again... like a sick rollercoaster of destruction. The Inquisitor's words were abrasive and demanding... knowing full well what Kerrie was doing there and realizing she would not move unless forced to do so. "I will remove you if I must, Major, you know that." And yet, there was a glimmer of respect in Serine's eyes that was hinted along with a fierce stare towards the Major. Kerrie was the only person to actually stand up to her and have real gall, nearly everyone else were spineless and useless.

"Inquistor," Kerrie began as she extended her right leg to the side, so that her body was now blocking the entirety of the doorway. "The Admiral has asked not to be disturbed," she explained as she tightened her knees slightly in preparation for the inevitable physical nature of the altercation. "I will tell the Admiral you called upon him, and I am sure when he is feeling well he will see you," she explained with a firm nod. The young woman had been standing there for several days now, not allowing herself time to rest, or even be relieved. She had failed to protect Htaere, and had lost considerable favor with the Admiral in the wake of the tragedy. She had set herself towards working unreasonable overtime to attempt to compensate. She swallowed nervously, her throat bulging visibly against the confined collar of her black tunic. She was not at all prepared for such an encounter, and it showed through her fatigued demeanor.

She cocked her head slightly to the left as she eyed Kerrie's physical stature... the other was weakened nearly to the point of collapse. From what Serine knew of the other, she was able to gather... that Kerrie had been literally standing there for four days, or so was her conclusion. "Although I can respect your full devotion, I question the man's intentions in which you root your faith. Does he think so little of you to allow you to rot in this hallway? Or perhaps you should question the length of his absence. Would it not be your responsibility if he had died in that room? Surely you should check on his condition and inform him of my arrival." At times Serine could potentially be somewhat diplomatic, merely in this case because she did not wish to move against Kerrie in a physical way due to the woman's poor condition and weakness. The Inquisitor found no honor in defeating a handicapped foe... but instead decided to try to use what she knew about the woman to put doubts in her mind.

Many considered Kerrie to be stubborn, and had she not been on the verge of exhaustion she might have engaged in further debate, perhaps even venturing as far as to attempt to physically deny the Inquisitor into the room. Discretion was sometimes the better part of valor, and she dejectedly sunk into herself, her already small frame looking worn down and pathetic. With a sad sigh, she nodded once to the woman and spun on her heels with military precision. The door opened in front of her, revealing the entryway and living quarters of the Admiral and his family. "Please wait here," she said politely as she moved through the sitting room towards the secondary door to the Admiral's office. She wrapped her hand upon the door three times in soft knocks before activating the control panel to open the door. Her face went white when the view in front of her came into view, looking very concerned as she rushed forward without further comment.

Many considered Kerrie to be stubborn, and had she not been on the verge of exhaustion she might have engaged in further debate, perhaps even venturing as far as to attempt to physically deny the Inquisitor into the room. Discretion was sometimes the better part of valor, and she dejectedly sunk into herself, her already small frame looking worn down and pathetic. With a sad sigh, she nodded once to the woman and spun on her heels with military precision. The door opened in front of her, revealing the entryway and living quarters of the Admiral and his family. "Please wait here," she said politely as she moved through the sitting room towards the secondary door to the Admiral's office. She wrapped her hand upon the door three times in soft knocks before activating the control panel to open the door. Her face went white when the view in front of her came into view, looking very concerned as she rushed forward without further comment.

On the other side of the door Admiral Claudius Rodney lay slumped forward against his desk. A bottle of Alderaan Ruge was turned on its side and loosely grasped in his left hand, nearly all of the contents having been consumed. The glass, whether or not time had even been wasted to use it was unknown, lay shattered on the floor next to him. The man had not shaved or showered in several days, and a thick stubble covered his normally clean-shaven face. His hair was dirty, soiled with oils and matted unpleasantly. His uniform, which he had not changed for some time either, was only partially on, and in some places soiled and torn. The loss of the unborn child and his failure to keep his family safe had destroyed him, no longer able to function in the true sense of the word, a single-minded determination only to keep what was left of his family protected from enemies, both seen and unseen as the paranoia continued to build within him.

Serine was the type to defend protocol so she nodded to Kerrie when asked to wait here, but there were always exceptions, especially when it was easy to see into the room the moment the other stepped inside. Peering past Kerrie, still standing at her position outside of the quarters, the Inquisitor was able to take in the entirety of the shame present. This did not bode well... though she was actually nearly correct on one assumption... being that the Admiral in his present state could very well have died. "Utterly disgraceful." ... which posed a real problem. This wasn't just pathetic for the Admiral, it was also pathetic for Serine. She took it upon herself to step inside... and nearly instantly the smell of many very unpleasant odors hit her simultaneously. "I actually wasn't expecting to be correct on my presumption." A long look to the crumpled and disheveled form of Rodney to check for signs of life... the man was still alive but unconscious, and rightfully so... she has seen gutter filth in better condition and for all she knew, he could be dying. "For this situation, the chain of command has shifted. You will now be taking orders from me." The initiative was hers, Serine was going to take charge. Eyes washed over the scene, this needed to be fixed without the crew knowing... no one could know, except for one other. "Move him somewhere more accessible, I will return shortly." Serine had the inclination that Rodney needed medication attention, but she could not summon the doctor to the Admiral's chambers over the com or it would be suggestive that there was a situation. Summoning the doctor to Serine's chambers was more appropriate since... well, there tended to be medical emergencies where the Inquisitor was involved. She rushed out of the room to access the turbolift once again before heading back to her chambers. As she passed a com-link, Serine made an announcement that the a medical staff was needed in the Inquisitor's room and when they would arrive she would be waiting to brief them on the dire situation. Due to the traffic in both her hallway and the lack of personnel in the Admiral's, there should be no other witnesses.

Inside the medical bay the peaceful Ithorian doctor looked up from his datapad of medical charts as yet another call to the Inquisitor's chambers had come in. "It will never end," he murmured discouragingly towards his medical droid, his distinct stereophonic way of speaking carrying throughout the room. Grabbing hold of a medical bag with his long digits, the large, tan-skinned creature began to make his way through the corridors of the ship towards the Inquisitor's abode. Another nexxu attack, he theorized, or perhaps even a burn from her notorious lightwhip. Whatever it was, the physician had enough victims of the conflict on the surface to deal with, without having to trouble himself with the Inquisitor's amusements. As he arrived in front of her chambers, a long finger extended to press the button indicating his arrival. Large, orange eyes blinked suddenly, unsure of what to expect.

The door slid open nearly instantly before he even pressed the button, as if she was awaiting his arrival by the second and could sense it. "Doctor, are you alone?" Her gaze snapped from either side of the hallway to confirm before easing back into a stern look to the man. "Please follow me, there has been a situation with the Admiral." She pressed forward from the door to hurriedly pass down the hallway while briefing the doctor. She felt confident that no one would be present anywhere near range to overhear their conversation. "Major Kiley and myself discovered the Admiral wasting away in his chambers. I expect that he could be dying... or he could just be shamefully intoxicated. Either way, your assistance is required."

The large alien's eyes blinked slowly as he considered the Inquisitor's words carefully, his large, aging framing laboring behind her as quickly as he could manage. "I have dealt with this before," he explained in a calm, and collected manner, not seeming the least bit surprised. He was plain spoken and not one to waste words. As they arrived back at the turbolift to the Admiral's personal level, he considered the consequences of his friend's latest actions. Getting drunk in front of junior officers and family was one thing, but to be discovered by the Inquistor was an altogether different thing. Pushing ahead of the bold young woman, the Ithorian lumbered down the corridor and quickly arrived to find the Admiral had been placed upon an ornate sofa and draped with hand-stitched quilt. "Hmm..." he murmured as he reached into his bag and produced a single syringe. Checking it quickly for air bubbles, he wasted no time pressing the needle into the man's arm and depressing the plunger. "This is a detoxifying solution," the Ithorian explained, without going into any elaboration as to why he had one already prepared.

"In a way, I'm relieved that you take such a nonchalant approach to this situation. Perhaps it is I who over-reacted." Serine pondered for a moment, she had never seen the Admiral in this condition so it shocked her... "Perhaps it was a wise decision not to report this after all." A tinge of a threat... but rather mild considering her usual verbiage, because honestly, this would look bad for her as well, but it was appealing in either case. "This is beyond anything I've ever witnessed or expected, congratulations Admiral..." She peered down to him, as if he could hear her, though she wasted no time in chastising him even though he was still unconscious. "... you have left me at a loss for words to fully describe the disgusting shame and rage that is boiling into the essence of my being." The Inquisitor gritted her teeth... as fingers played dangerously across her lightwhip. Who would really miss him, truly? The Empire would be better off... It wasn't difficult to see that Serine was heavily considering assassination, and that act would not be unheard of... in fact, it might be better than to fully explain to her superior exactly the failures that the Admiral had caused without solutions. "...appalling..." A soft whisper to herself... as gray eyes focused and unfocused rapidly upon Admiral Rodney.

Doctor Tohan listened to her words, and could only shake his head in disdain for the woman's comments. In most situations he was content to remain silent and let others dictate their own courses, but so adamant was his feeling that the Inquisitor was wrong in her assessment that he felt compelled to speak. "The man has lost an unborn child. His wife was tortured and left in a state of nervous exhaustion," he explained to her as he injected the man with a much-needed vitamin booster shot without breaking his concentration on the Inquisitor. "He is human and has faults," he was quick to point out as he took a step towards her. "All humans have faults," he pointed out with a nod, remembering the gruesome and grotesque patients he had treated after encounters with her. "When the initial shock has worn off and the pain has subsided he will return to old form," he said with an emphatic nod, clearly speaking from experience. "A similar situation surrounded the death of his first wife," he explained, choosing to reveal personal information in the hope that it might deflect some of her easily readable hostility.

The Inquisitor was not deaf to words of wisdom and insight, and it did help that she trusted and respected Tohan, one of the rare gems on Warspite to be sure. "That is no excuse for... for this!" She snapped angrily at the doctor as she gestured to the fallen form of what was now a shell of a man. "He has responsibilities... lives are in his hands and he throws everything away. He probably would care less if this vessel sunk into a black hole." Serine was visibly shaken, and it appeared her only hope for not killing this man was to vent her frustrations to the rare few present she actually had some shred of respect for. She felt that in the past weeks she has been present, her 'advisor' position was a sham, no one listened to her ...dam nit "My job is a simple yet vexing one when I have to deal with... this waste! And... he refuses to listen to my advise. I. Cannot. Comprehend... And yet, I am responsible for his... ludicrous, selfish... foolish activities that puts the very Empire in threat." Venting was beyond the word here, this was a meltdown due to the Admiral's complete disregard. "My purpose... here is useless!" Breathing was a little erratic, but she had to focus and force to take in shuttered gasps, she needed to calm herself but it was so difficult... this was definitely the feasible straw that broke her.

A long, slow groan escaped the Admiral's lips as his eyes slowly opened, yet remained completely unfocused. His ears, on the other hand, were already keenly attuned and magnifying the Inquisitor's words as a result of his delicate condition. "Cease your useless prattle, Inquisitor," he said as his hands squeezed at the side of the sofa, attempting to give him some support as he began to sit up. Unfortunately, he moved a bit too fast and immediately he felt overcome with disorientation and his mouth filled with stomach acid, causing him to gag and nearly vomit. Another tired groan, as he slumped back down, the military strategist in him realizing the hopelessness in his attempt to sit himself up. "I am more than aware of your disdain," he said, blindly, as both hands immediately raised to face to wipe away any of the buildup that had formed on his eyes during his drunken slumber.

And so the object of her anxiety and torment finally decided to awake, good, all the more reason to focus her hatred upon him. A soft snarl to the man, how dare he address her in his condition as if he still had some leeway on her actions. Her words became very slow, strained and concise, needing all of her focus just to prevent herself from lunging at him. "Then you should realize you are fortunate to be alive..." And she wasn't referring to his misadventure with the bottle. "... which may change." The Inquisitor was furious, and by part by wounded pride, this assignment was going to destroy her, but to hell if she wasn't going to bring the Admiral down with her if it came to that... and probably Kerrie who would no doubt intervene. Seething... Serine rarely got this upset, soft crackling sounds in the air could be heard, the other present may not realize its significance. "Things will change around here...Admiral... I came to you in good faith willing to work with you. I will get this job done even without you."

Claudius lay there calmly, unwilling to meet her anger with his own. After a moment, a soft smile crept upon his aged lips, crinkling his unshaven face. "My dear," he began, a slight chuckle threatening to crack his voice, "it seems that you might very well need a drink more than I." His eyes, now focused, looked up at her with some humor, never understanding how one could get so worked up about such things. "You will find," he continued, now finding the strength and composure to sit himself up properly, "that the war, and the entirety of the galaxy for that matter, are perfectly capable of going on without either of us." He nodded, emphatically to prove his point as he adjusted the quilt upon his lap. "However," he confessed with some honest and embarrassment, "you are right. I have been negligent in my duties for far too long..." He again paused, folding his hands neatly upon his lap as he considered the situation and the implications. It was clear to him that his personal life and his professional life were coming into constant conflict. Truthfully, he had opposed having his family here, and had only done so at the insistence of Major Zevrin. How he disdained the propaganda effort of the war, viewing it somehow beneath him.

That was the first time Rodney actually admitted to being a useless commander, it actually caught Serine by surprise. She took a slow breath in before exhaling it steadily, composing herself, the mysterious crackling sounds in the air disappeared. "Oh? How delightfully insightful." Dry and honest but it was an improvement from bloodlust. "I am not here to solve your personal problems, I'm here to advise you on your professional ones, both are in shambles. Divide them in manageable parts and then we can talk. Doctor... Major..." She nodded to the both of them politely before continuing. "... I'm going to get some... fresh air." She refused to further acknowledge the Admiral before removing herself quite eagerly from the chambers.

"Well isn't she pleasant as always?" Claudius asked those around him sarcastically as he swung his legs over the side of the sofa and brought himself gingerly to his feet. He took a step forward before staggering, and smarly reached out to take Major Kiley's side to brace himself. "Get me to a refresher," he instructed in a harsh tone, not being able to stand scent of himself at the moment. As he was led to the refresher where he planned to spend several hours improving his state he considered a course of action that would allow him to perform the task he was sent here to. "I can make it the rest of the way," he said as he entered the refresher and began to strip himself of his soiled uniform. "...burn these," he ordered callously as he turned his back to the young woman. "...and have my shuttle prepared immediately. I am going to see my wife," he explained, before closing the door to begin the task of making himself look presentable once again.

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