The Estate on Esseles had changed since the Rodney family had last
seen it. Immediately coming into view on the horizon was a perimeter
fence that the Empire had constructed, providing an electronic barrier
keeping the outside world at bay. There were state of the art monitoring
devices as well, none more evident than those affixed to the massive
watch towers along the perimeter. The small cadre of security personnel
had been replaced by the visible presence of Imperial Stormtroopers,
marching across the perimeter with some of the Empire's latest weaponry.
It was less a home and more a fortress.
As Lieutenant Trainor touched the shuttle Kwai down upon the
landing platform a pair of TIE fighters soared above the estate, the
roar of their distinct engines booming overhead. Randi's eyes went wide
as she lowered the ship's rant beneath her cockpit, glad that she did
not have to live there. "...We're...uh... here..." she stammered,
wondering perhaps if she had landed them at a military installation. Her
blue eyes moved towards the navigation computer again, double checking
the coordinates. It would not have been the first time she landed at the
Htaere was all too eager to get planet-side, unstrapping her crash
webbing and collecting her carry-on bag, she hurried to the ramp and
nearly bounded down with a noticeable bounce to her gait. As she moved
down the ramp and caught site of the estate, her gait slow, smile
slightly thinning out as she took in the scenery, paved over with the
Empire's efforts to make visible their presence, more so then usual,
just in case the local populace forgot. The good news was the fresh air,
which she inhaled deeply, enjoying the sunlight as it kissed her face.
Jelena Rodney descended the ramp slowly, her eyes immediately closing
as she was caught off guard by the natural light. It was much brighter
than the artificial lights aboard the Warspite. "Uh," she groaned
as she raised her sleeve to cover her face, trying her best to shade her
for the time being. Once her eyes focused she caught a glimpse of some
of the changes that had gone on around the estate, quite visibly
displeased. "Do you think all of this was necessary?" she asked Htaere
as she spun around to look at it.
"She is an absolutely frightful pilot," the shrill voice of Drusilla
Rodney stated as she bounded down the ramp of the shuttle. "Every time
she lands I feel as if we are about to crash," she continued, in her
never-ending series of complaints that had become so familiar to those
"Wee! That was fun! Can we go again?" the considerably more upbeat
voice of Ewwiekewwieikkie followed as the blue ball of fur raced down
the ramp. The young woman was smiling as always, nothing ever seeming to
be able to spoil her mood. "Ooooh," she exalted as she saw all of the
improvements. Like most Squibs, she was easily impressed by all things
Htaere's eyes danced over the myriad changes. "I...do not know" she
mumbled, somewhat incoherently as she absorbed it, bit by bit. It was
all too overwhelming for the eye to take in at once. "Well...at least we
out of the bitter cold of space..." she suggested, looking for the
bright spot in the situation.
"I hope no one has messed up my room," Drusilla complained bitterly,
moving past the others towards the front entrance of the house. She gave
no consideration to the others, pushing Ewwiekewwieikkie aside as she
hurried to the door. As she turned the knob an alarm began to sound that
was shrill and almost deafening. Large E-Web blaster emplacements from
the guard towers were immediately targeted on the young girl, who by now
had stumbled away from the door.
"Wait! Wait!" screamed the voice of Major Kerrie Kiley who came
running over from her inspection of the perimeter fence. The young
woman's mimicked human form was covered in her traditional uniform,
which at the moment was covered in dirt and grease from the hands on
work she had been doing putting on the security system. She had not
expected them this early, but with the way she worked she often lost
track of the time.
The noise caused Htaere to jump, dropping her carry-on and
immediately covering both ears, a grimace flashing over her startled
features. As the turrets locked on Drusilla. It took her a moment to
recover before a hand reached out to grip Drusilla's shoulder and tug
her behind her own self, shielding the youth with her own body.
Drusilla gasped in shock and horror as the massive cannons were
trained upon her, wondering if those fools in the white armor even knew
who she was. "I am going to have my father kill and each and every one
of you," she screamed at the top of her lungs, her young face reddening
with fear and anger.
Kerrie was frantically waving her hands in the air towards the
sentries in the towers who moved their E-Webs away from the young girl.
The squad of Stormtroopers had arrived on scene right now, circling
around the family in a protective enclosure.
"Take your hands off of me!" Jelena demanded as a couple of
Stormtroopers grabbed each of her arms and attempted to drag her to
safety. They tore her perfectly crafted dress, the one she had picked
especially for her lunch with her father. She began to cry, dragging her
feet against the dirt of the ground, gathering up dust.
With the situation being handled, Htaere's glanced towards Jelena.
"Well at least we know that we are safe and the additions to security
do, in fact, work" she put forward. Drusilla was rattled, but alive as a
result of the manhandling, and being that no one besides the security
team seemed educated on the workings of the system, Htaere opted not to
move a muscle.
Kerrie was mortified and embarrassed by what had transpired, but
finally she managed to reassure the Stormtrooper unit who released their
hands from the Rodney women and began to go at ease. "I am so sorry,
milady," she said in a deep bow to Htaere and Jelena. Her eyes glared at
the Stormtrooper squad leader and she would make a note to reprimand him
Jelena was filled with anger and rage, more of it directed towards
Kerrie and her father than the Stormtroopers directly in front of them.
The Stormtroopers were fools in her mind incapable of making decisions,
but Kerrie and her father should have known better. Her dress was ruined
and with it her plans to impress her father at lunch. "What the heck was
that?" she demanded angrily of Kerrie, folding her arms in front of her
Htaere recollected her bag, taking a deep breath. "I think we would
all benefit from rest and a good meal. Is the system deactivated so that
we may clean up before lunch?" she asked, clinging desperately to any
optimism that might present itself. She felt it unnecessary to hassle
the guard detail about the incident. It wasn't their doing after all.
"I will deactivate it at once, Milady," Kerrie moved swiftly into the
estate, arriving in the large and luxuriously appointed living room. She
examined the keypad and entered a four digit code sequence. The panel
let our a shrill sound, causing her to take a step back and consider the
situation more carefully. "Hmm..." she murmured as she stepped up to the
control panel and entered the four digit code again. The panel let out
another shrill sound and the main alarm began to sound again. Once again
the E-webs began to swivel towards the door of the estate and the house
entered lockdown mode, sealing her inside the house.
"Cool!" Ewwiekewwieikkie said as her eyes watched the glowing red
sirens. To her she was watching an exciting event, much like as if she
were at an amusement park. The young woman began to clap eagerly,
laughing excitedly at all of the activity.
"Oh not again..." Jelena bemoaned as she watched what happened,
putting her hands up in front of her defensively as she looked towards
the obviously confused squad of Stormtroopers.
Htaere frowned somewhat, looking to the stormtroopers for some
inkling as to what to do. "Is it possible that we may find another place
to stay temporarily until the issues with the alarm are remedied?"
After a few agonizing moments the shrill alarm ceased and the door to
the Rodney's estate opened, revealing a very frustrated and embarrassed
Major Kiley standing there, examining the panel in disbelief. "I swear
... I do not know what happened..." she said nervously as she looked
towards the family. She had been humiliated not just in front of them,
but also the squad of Stormtroopers that were laughing at her beneath
"When my father hears about this he's going to chop off your head,"
Drusilla announced as she stormed into the house, angrily pushing Kerrie
up the stairs as she bounded towards her bedroom to inspect it. If the
Stormtroopers had moved a doll even an inch she would surely explode.
Htaere stifled any commentary, finding it harder and harder to
swallow the belligerence and ungratefulness that was rampant among
Claudius' children. Perhaps it was the hormones at work. She offered
Kerrie a compassionate smile. "It is ok, Major Kiley. We are
appreciative of your efforts to keep us safe. I will relay our
gratefulness to Claudius" she nodded, willing to go to bat for poor
Jelena stood there for a long, silent moment, examining the damage to
her dress. She let out a long, deep sigh as she slowly walked into their
old estate. She looked around, noting the windows where she once enjoyed
views of the neighboring panorama had been reinforced to the point where
she could no longer see out of them. She lowered it head, shaking it in
dismay. This was not a home, it was a war zone, she thought silently to
Major Kiley just stood there, shocked and appalled by what had
occurred. "I don't understand..." she kept repeating as she studied the
control panel yet again. "I programmed this myself..." she said
disappointedly as she looked towards Htaere in utter confusion.
Htaere smiled and placed a slender hand on her shoulder. "Do not be
so hard on yourself. If technology really was superior, none of us would
be here." With that she shuffled into the estate, looking around and
taking it in all over again, this time with monumental changes. She
allowed herself to wander around as she had the first time she'd arrive,
working up her way of the massive and elaborate marble stair towards the
Jelena sat herself down in one of the armchairs and closed her eyes,
trying to make the most of it. This would be her home for the
foreseeable future and nothing would change that. "Is this really
necessary?" she said as she looked over towards the Major.
Kerrie turned her attention away from the control panel, her eyes
looking to the eldest Rodney daughter. "I assure you..." she said as she
walked several steps towards her. "Everything I've done is for your
protection," she said as she cycled through the display that was linked
to all of the surveillance cameras.
Htaere found herself in the threshold of her old chambers, the days
when she and Claudius slept in separate rooms. She'd worked so hard to
make it as homey as she could with plants, fountains, and a balcony that
offered plenty fresh air and sunshine. What lay before her now was
lacking the soul, appearing bland and unspectacular, cold and
uninviting. She sought to restore it as well, proving a refuge still to
whoever sought it for solitude.
Ewwiekewwieikkie was quick to walk into the room behind Htaere and
gave her a big, firm hug from behind. "We're home!" she said cheerfully
as she looked around the place. She was perhaps the one soul that was
oblivious to the changes, happy with the spirit of the occasion, not the
material aspect of it all. Perhaps she was the smartest one in the
bunch, able to simply enjoy the concept behind what a home was, and not
what actually made it up.
"You will help me I bet in restoring everything..." she asked
smiling. Htaere withdraw to the hallway, moving on to the master
chambers, the immediate priority in making comfortable on her schedule.
She took the time to find the exits...preferably ones with a view that
surpassed even her own. Putting her things down, she began working on a
list of things to procure to begin the overhaul, her generous accounts
probably still affording her having standing accounts with local luxury
furniture dealers and interior design firms, walking the room's
perimeter slowly and jotting them down in a datapad. She simply could
not live here in such gloom and drab exhaustion in the landscape.
Drusilla meandered into the room where Ewwikewwieikkie and Htaere
were standing and folded her arms in front of her chest. "I see they did
the same thing to your room too," she said in a poud to Htaere. This was
completely unacceptable and she planned on having a lengthy argument
with her father about it.
By now Kerrie had ascended the stairs, moving towards the room where
the ladies had gathered. "Is everything to your satisfaction, milady?"
she asked of Htaere as she looked around the room. The construction crew
seemed to have done a good job cleaning up the signs of their mess. All
of the security features were up to her specifications.
Htaere struggled with the answer, hoping not to offend but never
being anything but honest to Kerrie. "Actually, it is not...I am making
notes for items to be purchased with my accounts." She frowned slightly,
feeling awful about the brutal honesty. "I shall provide the
requisitions officer with my lists. I simply require a bit
Drusilla angrily turned towards Kerrie and raised her foot in the
air. She immediately stomped it down upon Kerrie's booted foot, a look
of rage filling her. "Where are my things?" she asked angrily, almost
snarling at the woman.
"Ow!" Kerrie yelped as she lifted her foot off the ground, grimacing
noticeably in pain. "Everything has been carefully inventories and
packed, Milady," she said as she looked down to the small Drusilla,
doing her best to appease her mood. "Your items as well, Milady," she
added as she looked to Htaere. "I promise. The utmost care was taken.
Nothing was damaged..." she continued, trying desperately to save
"Everything will be fine I am sure, Major" Htaere began sorting her
luggage as the troopers and service droids unloaded it, opening them for
a brief assessment of contents and the timeline in which she wanted to
tackle each. Htaere spoke as she unsnapped the first suitcase. "Major,
please make arrangements to have one of the local caterers bring us food
and grocery for the galley, and order our meal as well. I do not think
the galley's current state would be satisfactory without cleaning and
"It will be done so at once, milady," Kerrie said with a firm nod of
her head, turning to exit the room to proceed with their affairs. She
walked with a slight limp, the product of the bruise that had formed
when Drusilla stomped on her foot. There was just no pleasing that girl,
she thought to herself as she attended to her duties.
Late as usual Claudius Rodney hurried into the house, hoping he had
not missed too much. As he entered he spotted Jelena sulking in the
chair ... well some things never changed he thought. He nodded firmly to
Major Kiley as he passed, hurrying up the stairs to greet Htaere and the
others. He froze dead in his tracks when she saw the room ... it was not
what he was expecting. "I was assured everything would be exactly as we
left it..." he said to Htaere, apologizing as he spun around on his feet
to inspect the empty space.
"It is alright Claudius. The interior design challenge this presents
is a delightful one and shall be fun" she said cheerfully. "How
was your day? Are you happy to be home?"
"Home?!" he said as he spun around looking at the place that looked
as dull and drab as a junior officer's cabin on the Warspite.
"Major!" he yelled at the top of his lungs, incredulous at the fact this
had been permitted to happen under her watch.
"And that is not all, father!" the young Drusilla announced as she
stepped forward, still in a huff. "Stormtroopers grabbed Jelena and they
pointed weapons at us and she kept setting the alarm off. It was
absolutely dreadful!" she yelled, a frown curling upon her cheeks, her
chest flushed red as the tears began to flow.
Kerrie froze when she heard the Admiral yell, having just completed
Htaere's food order. She darted up the stairs, bruised foot and all, not
wanting to be a moment late. She had heard that tone before and she knew
she was in for it. She exhaled deeply, taking a moment to adjust her
uniform before moving into the room to face the music.
"Let it be Claudius. I have already started making a purchase
order...it will be a fresh look to welcome us in" she sang out, still
unloading various items, straightening and dusting as she went. "I have
also ordered supper, it will be delivered shortly. Can you perhaps take
the rest of the afternoon to enjoy being home or do your duties summon
you away after the meal?"
Claudius turned to Htaere and did his best to calm himself. It was
one thing for their items to have been mislaid and their house to have
been turned into a fortress, but the idea of Stormtroopers assailing his
family sparked a deep and powerful outrage in him. "Is what Drusilla
said true?" he asked Htaere, for the moment ignoring her plea to simply
calm himself and enjoy a meal. His eyes then darted back towards Kerrie,
his fists angrily clenching as his blood temperature steadily rose.
"There was a problem with the alarm system. The Stormtroopers were
quite...swift...in their removal of our persons from danger" she strove
to paint a picture of the human/clone defense system working as they
were supposed to and keeping them save.
"I see..." Claudius said in a state of increased agitation as his
eyes moved from Htaere to Kerrie. "Explain yourself, Major," he demanded
angrily as he placed a supportive hand on Drusilla's shoulder.
"I...I am sorry, Milord," Kerrie said as she trembled in front of him
like a broken animal. "The alarm malfunctioned and the Strormtroopers
were not aware..." she stopped herself suddenly, and drew silent,
lowering her head in front of him. "I accept full responsibly, milord,"
she said as she remained prostrate before him.
Jelena arrived, followed by a series of serving droids that carried
with them the various dishes that Kerrie had ordered for the family.
When she arrived she witnessed the pathetic display being put on by
Kerrie and cringed. She owed her one. Stepping forward, she cut between
the Major and her father, smiling up at him. "It is all right, father,"
she said calmly. "Please. Let's eat before you have to go," she said as
she observed the droids laying out a large spread.
"I agree. We have much to be thankful for. Let us focus on that for
now yes?" She nodded, motioning to the food.
Claudius could not bare to disappoint Jelena again and so he spared
the Major, his attention immediately turning towards the food. "I'm
famished" he announced as he began to fix himself a plate, piling a
plate to his satisfaction and then taking a seat on the bed to begin
eating it. "This is ... homey..." he commented as he watched each member
of his family fix a plate and take up makeshift seating throughout the
"Well I must admit it is a bit unorthodox, but this will be a memory
we treasure as a wonderful occasion." Htaere tended to everyone to
ensure they were all content and eating before fixing her own and
finding a seat on the bed next to Claudius. "Perhaps it really isn't so
"I am so glad to have you all here," Claudius said as he raised his
glass and saluted each of them. "I know this isn't what we expected, but
I have confidence that you will pull together and make the most of it,"
he said pleasantly as he finished his plate. He was hungry and ate like
he was as a a Cadet going through training and only had one meal per
Jelena tried her best to enjoy it, but this was far from the luxuries
they had enjoyed on Alderaan. In many ways it was like being on the
ship, but at least she knew she could get out and walk. There was that
at least, and she would cling to that notion as she sat there, gently
nibbling on small portions.
"Quite so, quite so." Htaere thought for a moment. "Is it possible to
the visit the market?" she was desperate to stretch out, revisit her
previous places of interest and enjoy freedom, a small hope in the back
of her mind.
Kerrie twitched visible when the market was brought up, the memory of
nearly being blown to bits instantly flashing through her mind. "It
would take some planning, Milady," she explained as she began to
visualize a plan to keep her safe. "We would need to insert undercover
personnel, Stormtroopers, perform a sweep with weapon's detectors, seal
off the streets to vehicles..." and she continued to like that, rattling
off various ideas, making it sound as if she was prepared to transform
Cormond's Trade Hall into a veritable police state.
"No I mean...in cognito...no visible presence whatsoever...is that
not an option?" the Hapan's face was hopeful. Her eyes were pleading,
desperate for a break from the norm.
Claudius grew concerned as he listened to the Major. Perhaps he was
wrong to bring them this time. He could have disobeyed the wishes of
COMPNOR, despite the ramifications he may have faced with his career. It
just did not seem worth it and indigestion began to set in.
"Milady," Kerrie started gently, wondering if she should reveal this
to her. "The rebels are nothing more than terrorists. They would
consider it a great victory to harm you," she informed her, hoping the
stern warning would cool her desire to take risks.
Jelena dropped her fork, creating an audible *clank* as she stopped
eating. She could not stand it when Kerrie lied like that. She trusted
Leia, believed what she told her, and refused to accept that the
rebellion was capable of such things. The truth of the matter, like all
things, lay somewhere in the middle.
Claudius glared incredulously at the Major, wishing she had not said
that. He lowered his head, turning away from Htaere, quite unsure what
her reaction to the news might be.
"...oh...I see..." she answered slowly. With that, she could think of
little else to say at the moment, so she continued her dinner, content
to envision the moment for the fortune it was.
Kerrie could see that Htaere was disappointed and she frantically
tried to think of a way to please her. "Perhaps..." she began, not
having fully realized her plan as she started. "Perhaps if you were to
go devoid of any regalia, milady," she said nervously, knowing it was an
important part of Hapan culture. "No jewelry, no makeup, no gown.
Dressed as a commoner," she elaborated as she considered it in the
moment. All of the holographic images of her showed her in quite the
Her face brightened as she considered it. "Oh yes that would be
lovely. Perhaps a nice outing will do us good."
Claudius swallowed nervously and through a nervous glance over
towards Major Kiley. He would speak no more of it. He wanted to digest
in peace. She had better know what she is doing, he thought to himself.
He had a bad feeling about this.