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Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
718 years before the Battle of Yavin (683BrS:1:30) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Germanicus Rodney's undersea lair).
Raeni Corliss and Baron Germanicus Rodney (Darth Crassus).

It was just before the dawn. Germanicus Rodney was sitting on a rocky outcropping near his lake on Delaya as the first rays from the Aldera star were beginning to pierce through the clouds over the distant mountains and illuminate the lakeshore. All around him the animals that populated the terrain were coming to life, moving to drink the water and eat the grass. Nerfs were moving in herds, flocks of thrantas were flying overhead, and he was always mindful of the presence of the sea monster. It was cold and his hands moved to the dark cloak that he wore, pulling it just a little tighter to give himself the slightest bit of additional warmth. His master had been contacting him incessantly, both via the comm system and via their telepathic link that plagued him. He could not avoid him forever, but he knew he was not strong enough to defeat him. If he surrendered Raeni to him, his master would simply strike him down and keep her for himself. If he trained her perhaps, together, they could defeat him, but he did not believe he was a capable master. The world as he knew it would soon be changing, but would he survive it? He could not see the future, but as he struggled to replay the vision he had when he first met her on Ylesia he *was* sure of one thing: when the end came Raeni *would* be there.

The world would indeed be changing. The calm before the storm was coming to a rapid closure. Raeni Corliss had awoken in a cold sweat. It was that recurring dream again. She couldn't remember what she saw with her eyes, but she recalled what she felt with the power that slept inside of her. A voice in her dream called her name insistently. It was like someone tempting her to their side. Each time she awoke, she wondered if Germanicus had a way of penetrating her subconscious before she gained enough sense to write it up as what it was: a dream. A collection of bull shit her subconscious crafted while she slept.

It was nothing.

She didn't need to seek Germanicus out to know that he was no longer in the undersea home. She could *feel* that he was further away. Her natural clock told her it was still very what was he doing? She rose, sliding into her robe, and headed towards the lift that would take her outside without the assistance of the sea creature. As she passed a viewport, she reached out to the beast. The connection was becoming natural for her. Raeni was beginning to to understand.

On the surface, she pulled her robe closer to her body. It was so *cold*. The sky was beginning to brighten in the distance. Soon, the sun would arrive and another day would be upon them. Her eyes took in the beautiful thranta as they moved gracefully through the sky. They symbolized the freedom which she had come to have. She spotted him. He was secluded. It seemed like he was deep in thought. Instead of calling to him, she reached out to him to let him know she was there. No sooner had she arrived did a herd of nerf pass by her to reach the water. One stopped in front of her and sniffed at her hair before licking it. Yum!

"When did you first discover your powers?" Germanicus asked, as he felt her approach from behind. "Ylesia is outside of the Republic," he said, stating the obvious, as he still sat staring into the lake rather than formally acknowledging her. "If you had been born in the Republic you would have been identified at a young age and your life would be very different," he said, before moving his hands to the side of his head and pulling the hood of his cloak off his head. "You certainly would not be standing here now," he said, as he rose from his rocky perch and turned around to look at her. "Have you ever met anyone else with our gift?" he asked her, pressing now, as he needed to know what she knew before he could properly begin. It might have already been too late.

She pet the nerf to stop it from continuing to assault her with its long, strange tongue. "No. I've never met anyone else like us. Before you came along, only I knew what I could do. I was five when my power showed itself for the first time. The Hutts shoved me down a deep, deep mineshaft. As a little girl, it was so cramped that I could hardly fit. The walls started to collapse." She could recall choking on the soot in the air as she screamed for someone to help her. "Somehow, I stopped it. No sooner had I reached the surface did the hole collapse entirely." Raeni shivered. She looked down at her hands. They were still the marred hands of a slave.

"Do you think you're special?" Germanicus asked her, as he took a step before her, quizzically arching an eyebrow at her. "Well, you're not," he said, as he reached out with his finger and poked her in the chest. "In the Republic there are more than 10,000 individuals who possess our powers. They are called the *Jedi*," he explained to her, with a thick level of venom in his voice as he said the word. "These Jedi claim to be the guardians of peace and justice, but they cling to a code that limits them," he said, shaking his head as he circled round behind her. "For there to be order these Jedi must be destroyed," he explained, with a firm nod of his head, before placing his hands upon her shoulders from behind. He placed his head against her ear as he continued, speaking just at the minimum audible level. "I am a Sith, and if you follow me you will become one too. We have no such code. No inhibition," he said to her, as he pulled away from her. He remembered how his master had seduced him those years ago. It was decidedly less physical.

Her eyebrows rose. "I didn't say..." His offensive attitude made her rise to the challenge. Raeni glared at him, listening to him *finally* begin to fill her in. In her sheltered life, she didn't realize how great the enemy numbers were. If only she and Germanicus opposed them...then how would they triumph? He hadn't begun teaching her how to use her power to attack people. She spent time training by herself, but it was mostly to gain strength and agility which she would need for combat. She heard the venom in his voice. She *felt* his hate. Like an infectious disease, it crept into her head. He was behind her now, explaining to her that they needed to be destroyed. Peace and justice were impossible. The world thrived on violence and power. It was a lesson she spent nearly two decades learning.

Her eyes remained on the lake where she could see the sea beast's tentacles emerging from the water to capture a curious nerf who went too far into the water. Raeni turned around as the nerf cried out in pain. "They sound foolish," she said in reference to the Jedi. Her eyes met with this. "I assumed you understood I had chosen your path. You are my *Master*, so make me into a strong Sith. I am tired of being weak. I want to posses the strength to help you eliminate the idiotic Jedi." Her lust for power was so strong. With more lessons, she would set herself further from the pathetic girl she had been before she met him.

As she pledged herself to him a small smile appeared on his lips, content that he had mastery over here. "With time and training you will," he said to her, as he began to laugh with happiness that his plot was off to a rousing start. "You will," he added, as he began to lead her towards the turbolift. An idea was beginning to form in his head for how to simultaneously test her and introduce her to a larger world and perhaps, if he were fortunate, arm her. He was halfway to the lift when he stopped dead in his tracks and looked towards her. "Oh. I almost forgot," he said, as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small box. "You wanted this," he said, but he found himself decidedly less confident than he was just an instant alone. As he offered it over to her he lost the nerve to look her in the eye and began to tremble. "I hope you like it," he said, practically driveling now as he spoke.

Raeni felt certain of her decision. There wasn't a life for her as a Jedi. She, too, began to smile. "You're going to try to drown me in the lake again, aren't you?" Raeni pressed sarcastically. With a new understanding of what she wanted, the young apprentice headed in the direction of the turbolift. She knew that there would be many more enemies for her than just those in court.

She, too, stopped. The sun was creeping up over the land. For a moment, the only sounds that existed were that of nature itself. She didn't know what he was talking about until he offered her a small box. Was this..? Raeni slowly took the box from him. Her fingers slowly pried it open. As her eyes met with the prize within, she perked up. A smile formed on her face. She was intrigued. She was *happy*!? Even though she had presented herself as his fiancé in court, she hadn't expected to see an actual engagement ring for some time: yet there it was. The box lay open all the way in her hands. The ring itself was gorgeous. Without him beginning to understand her feminine style, it was perfect. She could tell he put thought into it. Her smile grew. She reached out for the trembling man who was destined to become her husband. Her palm brushed over his cheek. "Ask me," she whispered. Her answer hung on the tip of her tongue. It was visible in her eyes: a clear *yes*.

Despite her power. Despite the complexities she possessed he saw now that beneath it all she was still a woman. "I suppose you want me to get down on bended knee too?" he said, as he lifted his head in the air pompously. "Oh very well," he said, before he removed his cloak and placed it on the ground in front of him so that he would not get a grass stain on his pants. He knelt before her, as he did his master those many years ago, and looked up at her. Part of him felt quite foolish, but there was another part of him who felt she was a fitting match. "Raeni, will you marry me?" he asked, expecting her to yes. His eyes looked around slightly, feeling as if they were wasting time. This was just a political ruse, or was it becoming something *more*.

Raeni nodded her head. "You suppose correct. This is only going to happen once." She reminded him with a proud little snicker on her face. It felt gratifying to watch him kneel before her. Unexpectedly, her heart began to flutter in her chest. Was this strictly political? There were moments...wonderful moments...when she *knew* she wanted this. Her heart skipped a second beat as he popped the question to her. Try as she might to hide it, she really was a woman. The moment filled her with a joy that she wasn't ready for. Slowly, she pulled the ring from the box. She slid it on her ring finger where it would sit until she died. Her hand fell, revealing the smile on her face. "Yes, I'll marry you, Germanicus." Try as she might to remain calm and collected, the moment she verbalized her answer blew her away. Rashly, Raeni fell to her knees in front of him. She kissed him like she was testing the water. They hadn't shared much affection as of yet. More than anything else, Raeni wanted him to know that she *wanted* this.

The kiss between Raeni and Germanicus was more intense and passionate than he expected, causing his eyes to go wide. In that moment he realized he had more than an apprentice ... more than a fiancé ... he had a lover. As the kiss lingered he felt something brushing the side of his face that felt rough, causing him to pull back immediately. A baby nerf had inserted itself, trying to get a kiss as well. "Not in front of the nerfs, dear," he said, chastising her, as he attempted to get back onto his feet. "Don't just sit there. Help me up. Help me up," he said, as he grabbed hold of her for support. As he rose he was nearly blinded with a powerful light as the clouds parted, allowing the Aldera star to shine brightly on them, bathing the dark couple in light.

All of this had caught Raeni by surprise. It seemed that he'd squeezed through to her interior one way or another. The kiss became more expressive up until Germanicus pulled away suddenly. She looked, wide-eyed, at the baby nerf that her snuck up on them. Raeni let out a soft laugh. Her hand ran down the nerf's back. "Aw. He just wanted to get in on the action." The little nerf was so darn cute. She loved these creatures. In fact, she loved all the creatures that surrounded their home. Rising to her feet, she found herself laughing again. She grabbed his hands and pulled him up. "Okay, okay! You're up!" And so was the Aldera star. She stood at his side. A new day had come: the day of the House of Rodney.

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