Major Kerrie Kiley smiled at Doctor
Tohan through the glass of the Bacta tank she was floating in. She
gave him a thumb up after she felt she had been inside the tank long
enough. The physicians aboard the Warspite were much more suited to
treating injuries than those on Zolan.
Doctor Tohan nodded to Kerrie and
ran his hands over the controls arrayed before him to flush her from
A moment later the tank was drained
and the Major stumbled out, a wet, stinking mess. She shuddered as
the room temperature air collided with her flesh. She made her way
quickly towards the bed where she sat down and was quickly wrapped
in a blanket by a 2-1B surgical droid. "Thanks," she said casually
to the Doctor as she began to dry herself off and warm up.
"You are my most frequent patient,
Major," Doctor Tohan informed her, "You should learn to be more
careful. How did you say you injured yourself again?"
"I was on vacation," Kerrie
explained. She rose from the bed and finished drying herself off, "A
rock fell on me."
"Hmm. Happens," Doctor Tohan said
sarcastically and returned to his work.
An hour later Major Kiley was
dressed in a new uniform and on her way to the Admiral's personal
quarters. She stood outside the door for a moment and depressed the
control panel to alert the occupants she was outside.
"Enter," Lady Jelena Rodney chimed
casually. She was aboard the Warspite with the rest of her family as
they were making final preparations for their trip to Alderaan.
Kerrie was taken aback slightly. She
was not expecting Jelena. She stepped forward through the doorway
and stood at attention in the foyer. Her eyes moved towards Jelena,
a few years her junior, "Lady Jelena ... is your father home?"
"No," Jelena said as she took a seat
on one of the many decorative couches, "He is in his final staff
meeting with his junior officers before we depart for Alderaan." Her
facial expression changed slightly as she considered the situation,
"I was told you were on vacation."
Kerrie's face froze for a moment.
She was not sure how to respond. "Uh," she began, "It was cut
"Oh?" Jelena asked, her eyes looking
up to her with some concern, "Everything alright I trust?"
"Yes," Kerrie explained, "Things
were not as I thought they would be. But I guess the way we look
back on happier times is never accurate."
"Yeah," Jelena said as she reflected
on her own happier times at the University of Alderaan, "Would you
like to wait for my father here?"
"I would," Kerrie said and stood
"You know you're allowed to sit
down, right?" Jelena said with a smile.
"It would be improper for me to sit
without permission," Kerrie informed her.
"Sometimes I think you aren't
Human," Jelena said with a sly grin.
"You have no idea," Kerrie replied.
She stepped forward towards the seating area and sat down in a plush
chair. "Milady," Kerrie said as he turned her face towards Jelena,
"May I ask you a question?"
Jelena snapped her head towards
Kerrie and furrowed her brow, "Is this an interrogation?"
Kerrie froze for a moment nervously.
She was never good at situations like this.
"Go ahead," Jelena said with a smile
as she leaned back on the chair.
"Your father goes through great
lengths to protect you, to provide for you, etcetera," Kerrie said
accompanies by a series of hand motions, "It is clear that he loves
you. What is that like?"
"I'm sorry?" Jelena replied, not
understanding the question.
"I was separated from my father at a
young age," Kerrie explained, "By the time we finally reconnected it
was too late to bond. I was just wondering if I've lost out on
something as much as I fear or maybe it's overrated."
"Kerrie," Jelena said as she leaned
towards her, "You give too much credence to titles. It is not who
loves you ... it is merely that you are loved."
"Yes..." Kerrie said as she listened
carefully, "But the fact that he was your father must have helped."
"Kerrie," Jelena continued, "My
mother died when I was very young. I know loss, but it was not just
the fact that she was my mother ... it was the fact that she loved
me. People in your life must have loved you, taken care of you,
provided for you. I mean ... you're here. Just because they weren't
your parents doesn't put you at any disadvantage."
Kerrie nodded quietly and decided
that the Admiral's daughter was just as intelligent, if not more so,
than the man himself.
"Don't put stuck in titles, Kerrie,"
Jelena explained, "A family is more than a biological relationship."
Kerrie smiled at Jelena, "I hope
such insight will allow your new mother to feel comfortable
in this family."
Jelena wagged her finger at Kerrie
and rose from her seat. "That does not mean we are not allowed to
have our fun breaking her in," she said as she proceeded back
towards her private chamber, "Be good."
"Thank you for the time, Milady,"
Kerrie said warmly as she bowed her head in obedience.
Jelena laughed at Kerrie's insisted
upon formalities before disappearing into her room.
The graceful form of Hapan heiress
Htaere Ka'a Sha'ahr came strolling into the room enthusiastically.
She wore a silk kimono of a passive sea foam green color
overstitched with darker green sea creatures, swirling across the
sleeves and back. Long red tresses were done up in a two-tiered bun
with a simple band of silver encircling her head. Her eyes scanned
energetically for Claudius, only to draw to a solid halt in her
tracks as her gaze swept over Major Kiley. She blinked a few times,
her expression drawing a bit in confusion. "Kerrie?"
Kerrie turned to Htaere and bowed
humbly in her presence. "Lady Htaere," Kerrie began, "I was waiting
for the Admiral. Lady Jelena informed it would be alright. I did not
mean to intrude. I could wait outside if you prefer?"
Her words took Htaere back for a
moment, and she shook her head quickly. "No...that is not...no.
I...thought you were taking time off?" she asked, sweeping further
into the room as her composure resettled. She stood before the
Major, stormy grey orbs studying the woman intently.
"Oh," Kerrie said with a pause, "I
never got a chance to thank you for that. I rushed to get out of
here so fast that I really didn't have time to think." She smiled at
her, "Thank you."
"You are welcome" she answered. Her
facade briefly flashed another moment of bewilderment. "I am
surprised to see you back so soon. The journey was...fruitful?"
Kerrie's pause was long and awkward
as she considered her response, "I got what I needed from it ...
from a certain point of view."
Htaere's head bobbed in a singular
nod and a smile arched the corners of her mouth. "Well that is good
then. I am glad you have made it back in time to join us.
Please..." she motioned to the furniture again. "...make yourself
comfortable. I will procure some tea if you like" she offered
Kerrie smiled and nodded politely at
Htaere before taking her seat once again. "No thank you, Milady,"
she said, "I would not want to put you through any trouble."
"No trouble" Htaere sang as she
disappeared for a few. When she returned she carried a thin silver
tray with a small silver kettle and two matching cups. With all the
refinement of the Hapan nobility, she poured the tea exquisitely and
offered the Major a cup. "Here. It is a soothing blend" she
explained before settling onto an opposite chair with her own cup.
"I am certain Claudius will be very pleased to see you as well."
Kerrie looked at Htaere as she took
hold of her tear. "He was very," she paused for a moment of
reflection, "Affectionate the last time we spoke..."
"Have I not maintained that he
thinks highly of you?" Htaere asked, eyebrows lifting slightly. She
sipped the tea delicately and smiled warmly across to Major Kiley.
"Perhaps you do not trust me as you once did, if at all, but you
should harbor no doubts regarding your importance here."
"I think very highly of him too,"
Kerrie said as she took a sip of the tea. "Have you ever been to
Alderaan before, Milady?"
"I have not" Htaere admitted. "I am
unsure of what to expect. Have you?"
"After the wars they renounced
violence and disbanded their military," Kerrie explained, "I
understand they are very in touch with nature. Perhaps you will get
the chance to see some of the natural beauty of the planet."
"I would like that" Htaere replied,
a sort of far-off transient daze coming to her eyes for a second as
she contemplated her own home.
"Do you ever miss home, Milady?"
Kerrie asked as she looked around the cold, metallic surroundings.
"Very much so, at first" Htaere
answered honestly. "It has...subsided" she pondered the word
carefully "...and other emotions have taken the place of that
"Well Alderaan is a much more
pleasant location," Kerrie explained, "Perhaps he will retire from
the service soon and you two can return to Alderaan."
"Retire?" Htaere had to repeat the
word as if grasping to make sure she was in the right conversation.
"Does he speak of retiring to you?"
"No," Kerrie said and then smirked
at her playfully, "He's just getting up there in years."
Htaere could not help but smile. "He
is surrounded by women, and we cannot let him go quietly into the
"It must be very emasculating for
him," Kerrie continued, "Perhaps you should allow him a pet."
Htaere's expression became pensive.
She looked to Kerrie, intrigued. "Is the Admiral a pet person?"
"He has a pet Worrt in his estate on
Delaya," Kerrie explained, "Hideous." She took another sip of her
tea as she experienced a flashback of the creature.
"I am...not familiar with this
creature" Htaere confessed, finishing the last of her tea and
resetting the cup on the tray. Her cloudy-hued gaze settled on
Kerrie comfortably, simply watching her with an unwavering
Kerrie bit down on her lower lip to
prevent herself from laughing. "I will suggest to him that he let
you feed it," she said with a smile.
Htaere's elegant tattooed face
shifted and became uncertain. "Oh? That sounds...interesting I
suppose" she managed, her mannerism a bit hesitant as if she
wrestled inwardly with the idea given so many unknowns.
The door to the cabin opened again
without notice as Claudius Rodney returned to his cabin. "I'm home,"
he shouted loudly so that all could hear, unaware that the Major was
visiting. He strode into the foyer where Htaere and Kerrie were
seated and stopped in his tracks when he saw Kerrie was there. "Ah,
Major," he said warmly, "I had heard you were back. I am sorry you
cut your trip short, but nevertheless I am glad to have you back."
He continued through the room towards Htaere. He leaned down towards
her and placed a gentle kiss on her cheek, "Htaere, could you excuse
us a moment?"
Htaere nodded, getting to her feet.
She nodded to Kerrie before moving back towards her room, pausing
only briefly to offer the Major an encouraging smile before
withdrawing from the room.
Once Claudius was sure Htaere had
left the room he flashed a glare in Kerrie's direction, "I was
interrupted in my meeting by Doctor Tohan. He said you checked into
sickbay with a skull fracture, a shattered orbital bone, and a jaw
in several pieces. Mind explaining that?"
Kerrie snapped her head up and
glared right back, "As I told the doctor ... a rock fell on me."
Claudius blinked at her silently
before continuing, "And how did a rock fall on you?"
"Someone dropped on it me," Kerrie
said as she rose from her chair and stood directly in front of him,
"It was on personal time. I consider the matter closed."
Claudius sighed at her, "Look. I am
only asking because I worry about you."
Kerrie sighed right back at him, "I
know. But you don't have to worry anymore. I'm fine ... for the
first time in a while."
Jelena emerged from her bedroom and
saw that her father was home. She approached him and gave him a
cordial home, "The server droid just informed me dinner is ready."
Kerrie nodded to Jelena and began to
march out of the room, "Enjoy your meal Milord, Milady. I will be
down the hall if needed."
Jelena flashed her father the kind
of pleading look that usually came from Drusilla.
Claudius did not have to guess what
she wanted. He turned to the Major before she left, "Kerrie. Won't
you join us?"
Kerrie stopped dead in her tracks,
but did not initially turn around. "Oh," she said quietly, "No. It's
really a family affair."
"I can make it an order," Claudius
said half-serious, half-joking.
"Very well, sir," Kerrie smiled at
the door before refocusing her face and walked with Claudius and
Jelena to their private dining chamber.
Claudius Rodney stepped into the bed
chamber after having gone up to the bridge to make sure the final
departure preparations had been made. He smiled over towards Htaere
as he began to undo his uniform tunic. When it was off he hung it on
a post near the entrance of the room. Unfastening the belt he draped
it over a chair and began to undo his trousers. "Dinner went well,"
he observed as he draped his pants over the same chair and proceeded
towards his bed.
Htaere had had her shower already
and sat on her bed in an ecru-colored empire-waisted satin
nightgown. Her lengthy auburn hair hung about her back and
shoulders, dry already as she brushed it carefully. A smile touched
her lips. "It did. It is very strange to be all together" she
remarked, recalling few if any previous activities where the entire
family was present.
Claudius slid beneath the covers of
his bed and then turned his attention to Htaere. "I am looking
forward to some time at home," he informed her.
Htaere continued to brush her hair,
the endless commitment to all things beautiful as vibrant in her
bloodstream as ever. "This will be a much needed respite for you I
think" she agreed, grey oculars fixated on him serenely.
"I just hope it goes better than
Kerrie's vacation," Claudius said quietly before making a joke, "She
didn't even have holoslides."
Htaere finished with her hair,
satisfied was completely without tangle and smooth as silk. Placing
the brush down, she lowered the lighting, turned the covers down and
climbed into her own bed, feeling about openly to compensate for the
horrendous night vision Hapans were notorious for, even in dim
lighting. She situated herself on her side, facing him, the gentle
and passive glow of the rainbow gem in her forehead casting a very
soft shadow over her face. "She did not offer very much, and I did
not push. I am glad she has returned" Htaere mumbled lethargically,
blinking slowly across the void between the beds. In truth, she had
never been privy to his personal habits out of public view and it
was fascinating to watch the man carry on as he had presumably done
for the last fourteen years.
"She apparently opened up to Jelena
of all people," Claudius explained as he situated himself in a more
"That is good, on both accounts...to
Kerrie for reaching out and to Jelena for providing an ear."
"I feel Jelena is wasted sitting
here," Claudius explained, "She is only here to show the local
population that I consider the region safe enough for my own family
to live here."
"She cannot enroll in satellite
classes?" Htaere asked.
"She claims it is not the same
without her friends," Claudius tried to explain.
"But it would be a continuation of
her studies." Htaere paused for a handful of heartbeats. "Sometimes
we must do what is expected of us...even if we do not wish it."
"I think she already knows more than
me," Claudius confided begrudgingly.
"Hmmm...it must be time to trade you
in for a newer model. Are you still under warranty?" one corner of
Htaere's mouth lifted, regarding her older future-husband in
"I still have a few years left,"
Claudius said with a smile, "You make me feel much younger."
"Do not worry. The women that
surround you daily will keep you young" Htaere commented, the
makings of a sly grin appearing.
"If that's the case I'll end up back
in diapers," Claudius said, as he rolled his eyes at the number of
women that surrounded him.
"Is that not true of most very old
people? At either end of the age spectrum, there are diapers" she
mused, partially to him and partially to herself as if struck with
this newfound realization. Her eyes had slipped closed though and as
she entered an in between state of consciousness, her breathing
began to slow, steadying into a rhythmical pacing far reduced in
"I can still make it to the
refresher," Claudius said as he rolled over and prepared to go
asleep, "I just happen to go more frequently."
From her partially aware state,
Htaere answered dreamily "That is very useful to know, Claudius."
Whatever else she said thereafter trailed off, derailed by the
inevitable plummet into solid sleep.