Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:6:20) in the Coruscant system: Hesperidium (Emperor Palpatine's retreat) and Kwai.
Flight Lieutenant Haven Anson, Emperor Sheev Palpatine, Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, and Major Sierra Rodney.

Lieutenant Haven Anson was sitting silently in the cockpit of the Kwai, watching the swirling blue column of hyperspace in the viewport. There was not much to do but watch the navicomputer tick down as the Grand Moff and his wife were not the most talkative traveling companions. "We're coming up on Coruscant," she shouted over her shoulder as the ship began to slow. As they exited hyperspace the view was radically transformed as the starfield returned with Coruscant, the gleaming jewel of the Empire, dominating the viewport. The amount of space traffic was immeasurable and she did not envy the local traffic control. The Emperor's flagship, the Eclipse, was visible along with more Star Destroyers assembled at one point than she had ever seen before. As the Kwai neared the Hesperidium she transmitted the necessary codes to get them through the awesome defensive perimeter. She had never lay eyes on the Emperor before, but judging by the demeanor of both Claudius and Sierra this was not the time to ask for an introduction. Unlike the Governor's former pilot, she performed no wild maneuvers while on her descent, as she was sure there were countless turbolasers that would blow them out of the sky if they even thought there was a danger. As she touched down on the landing platform at the Emperor's retreat she spied his personal yacht out of the viewport. The mere thought that she was this close to the Emperor caused a shiver to run down her spine.

The flight had been filled with absolute, total silence. Major Sierra Rodney did not know what awaited them on Hesperidium. She had clenched her body throughout the journey until she felt like she was actually going to be sick. Lieutenant Anson's piloting had been a relief. She flew them smoothly and did nothing to persuade the pregnant woman's stomach to dismiss her last meal. Though she said not a word, her support for her husband was evident in the way she held his hand during all of it. If they were to die at the hands of His Majesty, then Claudius had given her a life worth dying for. For nearly six months, Sierra had experienced a mind-numbing happiness. She feared that it would end here...the very same place where they had shared their honeymoon.

The views of Coruscant were bittersweet and beautiful. She thought of how happy she had been the first time they came here...newlywed, crazy in love. Something about that memory brought unwarranted hope into Sierra's head. As long as they *both* survived, then they could endure whatever happened. Summoning her strength, she unbuckled herself and stood up as straight as she could manage. She had severed His Majesty for several years of her life, and Claudius, so many more. Perhaps loyalty would save them all. She did what she could to make herself the strong one for both of them. She took her husband's hand and supported him as they made their way down the ramp.

The first means of greeting was a droid which spouted a preprogrammed message about enjoying their stay and so on. The droid lead them into one of the suites, quite purposefully the very same suite from their special night, and informed them that they would be *staying* there. It left without another word. Sierra looked around the room. She focused on the world outside the viewpoint. There was nowhere to hide now. His Majesty was close and was likely to summon them at any moment. Sierra slowly turned around to face her husband. She said not a word, but wrapped her arms around him tightly.

As the Kwai traveled through hyerspace Claudius reflected on the first time he met the Emperor. The galaxy was a far different place ... governed by a corrupt Senate and on the brink of civil war. In Palpatine, who was then Supreme Chancellor, Claudius found a strong leader who could bring peace and order to the galaxy. Palpatine was the man who uncovered the treachery of the Jedi and put an end to the destructive Clone Wars. There was perhaps no man that Claudius respected more, which made the thought of disappointing him and, in fact, failing him all the more discouraging. He allowed Sierra to handle the droid and lead them on their way to the suite that had been prepared. He needed a vacation, but the cloud that hung over them hardly made for an enjoyable visit. Once they were in the room and free from droids and onlookers he allowed his wife to embrace him, but he could not help but wonder if this was the last moments they would share together.

The thought was mutual. Sierra had only endured one meeting with the Emperor. It was unforgettable, stressful, and it hadn't even been over something bad. Claudius had received praise when they dined with the man on their wedding night. Now Sierra suspected something terrible was going to happen. She held him closer to her. Her head pressed into his chest and her eyes closed. If this was one of the last moments they'd ever share together, then she wanted to commit every single detail to memory; the way his tunic felt against her face, the scent of his body that always drew her in, how her heart *always* skipped a beat when he was near. She wished they were still back home preparing Bruce's room, instead of considering if tomorrow would ever come. Sierra thrust these negative feelings to the side, pushing her head away from his chest. She looked in his eyes with her fierce blues. "We're going to get through this." She told him. "There's simply no other choice." Sierra released him from her grasp. She made her way towards the viewport, staring outside. "I wonder how much longer we'll have to wait."

Before Claudius could speak another word there was a beep at the door, which caused Claudius to give his wife a more focused look than he had given since he first lay eyes upon her. He brought his hand up to her face, lifting her chin, while he simultaneously lowered his head to place a kiss upon her lips. Not wasting anymore time he turned his attention to the door when the kiss broke, revealing a droid that had come to call them to appear before the Emperor. He reached out awkwardly, fumbling about for Sierra's hand, before finally grasping it. He slowly followed the droid down the corridor until it led them into a turbolift. The lift slowly ascended the spire that led to the Emperor's audience chamber, which was reminiscent of his throne room on Coruscant. The massive viewports gave a commanding view of the moon, with the Imperial fleet and Coruscant itself in the background. The room itself was dark, cold, and sparsely decorated. As he entered he had a feeling that many who entered did not leave in the same condition. This was it.

The simple beep seemed to signify that their time on this planet, or any other, had concluded. Fate was beckoning them and it would not wait. It meant the world to Sierra that Claudius stopped and kissed her, for even though the kiss was short, it came with so many emotions. She was going to stand beside him through all of this, even if her stomach had already vacated her body. Her soft blues told him she loved him without saying the words. With his hand in hers, they made their funeral march. The higher the turbolift went, the more Sierra felt like she couldn't breathe. In her womb, her son was kicking at her so much that it did nothing to help her sickness. Even the temperature had changed by the time the turbolift arrived.

The audience chamber had a terrible feel to it. The elaborately decorated tiles on the ground were so cold that she could feel them through her boots. Compared to where they had dined with the Emperor before, the audience chamber held a business attitude. As the turbolift closed behind them, she wondered if they'd walk out alive...or in one piece. She did her best to present herself with grace, holding her head high. Only Claudius could feel the subtle shaking of her hand in his. The chamber seemed to grow colder. His Majesty was coming. Even their unborn son seemed to be aware of who he was about to be presented before. The boy's kicking stopped. Everything was still.

The sound of a mechanical gear briefly broke the silence of the chamber as the Emperor's throne slowly rotated from upon high to face the duo, where he could look down upon them from beneath his cloak. His face was warped and disgustingly disfigured from his exposure to the dark side of the force, and his eyes had transformed into a frightening shade of yellow. He said nothing, as he was a practitioner of theatricality to motivate his weak subordinates. He had elevated Claudius to the position of Grand Moff precisely because he was so susceptible to his influences.

Upon seeing the Emperor, Claudius quickly dropped to one knee, bowing his head and avoiding making eye contact. He was not sure what would come next. Would it be a firing squad? A trap door? Or something much worse that had only been whispered about by the upper echelons of high command? "I have come as quickly as ordered, Your Majesty," he said to his Emperor, without raising his head. For a man who was born into the nobility and held one of the highest positions in the Empire, he surely knew how to submit. It was a far cry from the bold man who had so recently shot an ISB Colonel.

Sierra's knees threatened to give in as she stood there. Like before, the wait was not a lengthy one, for the Emperor made his dramatic appearance. Identical to her husband, she slowly dropped to one knee and bowed her head. She didn't know if she'd be able to get up again by herself. The perfect storm was developing within her and she was grateful to not be closer to her due date. Her eyes stared at the ground. If there was a firing squad, then they wouldn't know until it was too late. "You honor us with your presence, Your Majesty." Sierra spoke softly in a surprisingly level voice. After meeting the Emperor the first time, she never thought it'd happen again...especially under such gloomy circumstances. She was waiting for him to rain down his fury upon them.

"Rise," the Emperor commanded in a single, slowly uttered word with a voice that crackled and echoed through the acoustically configured chamber. "Even now the Rebellion is in retreat in the Mid Rim," he explained to the, confidently, as his eyes momentarily flashed with life. "Their fleet is scattered. Their leaders in hiding," he continued, stopping briefly to laugh at the sheer delight of what he hoped would be a swift victory. "We cannot defeat an enemy who does not reveal himself," he explained, as he leaned forward in his throne to gaze upon them. "Their compassion will be their undoing, and you will be my instrument to cause them so much pain that they act in poor judgment," he explained, as he rose from his seat and began slowly walking down the steps to join them on the lower level. "Your recent actions on Chandrila have not gone unnoticed," he said, as he reached out and placed the gnarled fingers of his right hand upon Claudius' shoulder. "You have caused the traitor Mon Mothma discomfort. Now ... now you will cause her agony," he explained, before laughing once again, and flashing his discolored teeth to them. "Unleash all of your forces on the planet. Let their cries for help and pleas for mercy be broadcast until the Rebel fleet arrives," he said, before turning his back to them. He then paused, halfway towards the step, and looked upon them over his shoulder. "...and destroy it!" he ordered, his eyes briefly widening, with a flush of energy that seemed to make the entire room sizzle.

Of the many words she didn't want to hear His Majesty utter, 'rise' was one of them. The last of Sierra's strength went into reaching her feet without vomiting. She was noticeably several shades paler than when she had bowed. The rest of what happened within the chamber felt like an out-of-body experience. His Majesty brought up the recent killings on Chandrila, to which Sierra thought about poor Melickielickie's family. Each step, each word, brought the Emperor closer to the couple. He did not bring up Colonel Zevrin. It was all business...strictly speaking of striking down the Rebellion in the Ringali Shell sector. She slowly remembered to breathe again. Chandrila now played a vital role in calling the Rebellion. The massacres would need to continue until Claudius had stomped the Rebels. She looked towards her husband and the Emperor. The extreme coldness of the room shifted to extreme hotness, thus making everything that much more uncomfortable. Sierra had *no* idea how they were dodging a bullet here, but they needed the win against the Rebellion to continue staying in His Majesty's grace.

Claudius was slightly taken aback by the development that the Emperor was once again praising him for the horrific actions of Colonel Zevrin. However, any disagreement he might have had went by the wayside once the Emperor touched him. The mere touch of the man was enough to inspire him to do anything. As the Emperor unveiled his plan he was impressed by the strategic vision of the man, which far exceeded his own. Suddenly everything made sense to him and he became inspired. "It will be done, my lord," he said, suddenly sounding overly confident himself. He clicked the heels of his boots together as he spoke, and slowly his head turned to look upon his wife with a broad smile. He had been chosen to be the Emperor's instrument. It was the proudest moment of his career and the culmination of everything he had worked for.

"Good ... good," the Emperor said as he watched his minion react so perfectly to his motivation. If Rodney succeeded the Rebellion would be dealt a serious blow, and if he failed the very nature of drawing out the Rebels might be enough to lead them to their new secret base. He was about to dismiss them and ascend the stairs back to his throne when he sensed ... something ... or *someone*. He looked at Grand Moff Rodney, but the man had been in his presence many times and he never felt anything significant about the man. His eyes then locked upon his wife who, while beautiful, did not possess any qualities worthy of his attention. His yellow eyes slowly rolled down to where her uniform was concealing a very obvious pregnancy. He focused almost immediately, sensing something out of the ordinary within her womb. He took several steps forward towards the woman, allowing his hand to linger over her stomach to confirm his suspicions. A brief smile formed upon his lips, before his eyes focused on the Grand Moff once more. "You must allow me to see your son when he is born," he said, before giving a glance to Sierra as well. This development suddenly made her much more than a Governor's trophy wife. "Leave me," he commanded, as he slowly moved up the stairs to contemplate what he had felt within her.

The way Claudius reacted to the Emperor's touch was amazing. He seemed to brighten right back up. Sierra saw confidence on his face again. The coldness around her slowly began to melt for the warm smile he gave her made her feel better. She weakly smiled back at him. It was a great moment in Claudius' career. She was thankful to be there with him while it happened. After the Emperor had finished with her husband, his attention turned to *her*. Sierra was sweating bullets as she continued to feel discomfort. Her eyes locked with his yellow ones for all of a second. It was hard to stare at him, for it was like staring at the sun. She could feel the heat of his glance all over her body, until, at last, it settled on what she could hide no longer.

Sierra then had a chance to feel like Claudius did. The Emperor's old, decrepit hand briefly lingered over her stomach. His presence awoke her son, who became more active than ever before. Something happened right then that only the Emperor understood. Grand Moff Rodney's son claimed his position in the world before he arrived. A more authentic smile passed over Sierra's lips. It was a great honor that the Emperor wanted to see Bruce upon his birth. She knew that her husband would be just as pleased with this development as she was. She looked like she was going to thank him, but, instead kept her mouth shut and bowed respectfully. She grasped Claudius' arm, using him for support as they left via the turbolift to return to their room. It was over. No one had gotten hurt. The opposite had fact.

She didn't say anything until they were back in their suite. There, she sat on the bed and pressed her hands against her stomach. Bruce's assault would *not* stop. "Let's stay here tonight." Sierra said without telling him that she was feeling horrible. She wasn't sure if they should be boarding the Kwai and heading to Esseles, where they would be closer to Doctor Tohan, or not. She was tightly wound and continuously worried. What kind of effect would ordering more murders cause on her love? Innocent people had died during the first round of kills. What next?

Claudius was positively beaming. "Did you hear what he said, Sierra?" he asked, despite knowing that she was in the same room, directly next to him. "*I* am to be *his* instrument to destroy the Rebel fleet!" he declared, before taking hold of her by the shoulders and smiling directly in her face. "What a fool I was to think that the Emperor would dispose of me," he said to her, before placing a quick kiss upon each of her cheeks. He was in a completely manic state after the encounter with the Emperor. "He touched me! Can you believe it? He actually touched me!" he said, almost floating now, as it took all of his energy to keep both feet firmly planted upon the ground. "And did you hear what he said about our son? And what an interest he took in you?" he said, as he moved around the room with unbridled energy. "This calls for a celebration!" he told her, as he moved towards the starfruit cider that had been left to chill for them. With some effort on his part he ejected the cork, causing a rush of fluid out of the bottle. He poured a glass for her, and then a glass for him, before moving back towards her. "To us," he said, as he handed her the flute with the starfruit cider. He was unaware that she was feeling terrible, as he had become lost in delusions of grandeur.

She hadn't seen him like this in some time. Despite her worries for him, she felt happy that he had gotten some recognition as well as another chance to prove himself a useful tool of the Emperor. She smiled softly. She watched him move around the room. He was on cloud nine. It was *much* better than how they felt after they dined with the Emperor, which, by the way, she was glad there was no food involved this time. "I *can* believe it. You've been serving the Emperor for so long. This is what you *deserve*." Sierra didn't want to ruin his parade with her feelings. She had been high strung and overly stressed. It would go away, she was sure.

Her smile grew. "I know! We'll present our son to him as soon as possible." She hadn't gotten the vibe that the Emperor had taken to her, but she was honestly scared of the man, so she was going to take Claudius' word for it. She watched him eject the cork from the bottle, happy that he didn't have a male Rodney moment. Sierra took the flute. She clinked their glasses together. "To us," she repeated as she began to feel happy that it was all over. She only took a small sip of the starfruit cider, then placed it on the bedside table. The young woman rose. Bruce was giving up on his assault of her organs which made life easier for Sierra. She snagged Claudius up in her arms and gave him a triumphant squeeze. "If you don't ever want to wash that tunic, I won't blame you." She teased. She pushed away from him, picked back up her flute, and headed towards the viewport. She drew back the curtains on the beautiful environment. She had to admit, if she was the Emperor, she'd have a place like this too! She drank a little more.

All of the hardships he had endured with Zevrin almost felt worth it as he basked in the afterglow of his audience with the Emperor. "I love you, Sierra. None of this would be possible without you at my side," he said to her, before take a sip of the starfruit cider. He moved next to her, where she had opened the curtains, and looked out at Coruscant, remembering his time spent there when he was in the Senate and then during the war. "I fought a battle here once," he told her, as he sidled up next to her, moving his arm around her to draw her near. "Or, rather I should say, fought in a battle," he explained, before reflecting on his past. It seemed to be a day for reflecting and living on the past. "I was a mere operations officer aboard an old Venator ... the Superb ... when word came that General Grievous had attacked Coruscant and captured the Emp- ... the Chancellor," he began, as he walked down memory lane, and opened up a little more about himself to his wife. "The fleet I was in raced back to Coruscant to engage the Separatist fleet and rescue the Chancellor," he explained, as he raised his glass again to take another sip of cider. "You know it was in the middle of the battle that Doctor Tohan contacted to inform me that Jelena was born. I missed it due to that war. I don't want to miss our son's birth because of this war," he said to her, as he turned to face her, with a decidedly serious look upon his face. "I *will* crush these Rebels so we can raise our son in peace ... together. I will not let war keep me from my family," he vowed to her, before placing the glass aside and putting both of his hands upon her. His head lowered, and he placed a loving kiss upon his lips. She was what he was fighting for.

Her cheeks heated up with a soft red blush. She could never take credit for this triumph. In her eyes, it was about damn time that her loyal husband received honorable words from the Emperor. Claudius was finally getting what he had more than earned. She wanted to help him clench this victory by destroying the Rebels with him. She stepped back into his side so they could stand together and bask in their newfound happiness together. Sierra liked it when he opened up about his past to her. There was a wealth of information she didn't know about Claudius yet. Each time he gave her a little more made her feel that much closer to him. As she stared out the window, he recounted the battle that had taken place on Coruscant. She recalled studying the exact event he was talking about. She was surprised to hear that it was that day when Jelena was born. He'd missed her birth completely. She had heard Jelena complain about that, but Sierra honestly thought she was joking. Now she knew otherwise.

"You *aren't* going to." She reassured him. "Times have changed since that battle. You've climbed up the ranks. Do I need to remind you that His Majesty has chosen you to be his instrument?" Sierra began to swell with pride for the man she loved. Her chin tilted upward to look him in the eyes. She was met with his serious gaze and words that struck the light of inspiration inside of her. His vow was everything she needed to hear and so much more. The tears began to well up at the edges of her eyes. For the smallest split second, she saw things from his perspective and she began to understand what was motivating *him*. She cast her flute aside so she could wrap her arms around him. "I know you will, my Claudius. You will aid in ushering in a new era of peace." She pressed her lips against his. Her eyes closed. She could feel so much love for him flowing inside of her. As unrealistic as it was, Sierra believed they could end this war. After the war, they could return to Delaya and raise their children in the beautiful home that they had built together. It seemed like they had a real shot at a happily ever after.

Claudius listened to every word of encouragement that came his way, which validated his decision to marry her. She was perfect for him. They were perfect for each other. His love for her had reinvigorated his desire to bring an end to the war. He turned with her to look out the window as one by one the Star Destroyers began to make the jump to hyperspace. Throughout the galaxy the Empire was striking back in the wake of the disaster at Yavin. Soon it would be his turn. He would not squander the opportunity.

Untitled 1

Copyright Era of Rebellion 2005-2018. All Rights Reserved
Terms of Use | Legal Notices | Privacy Policy | Press Release | Disclaimer