did *not* enjoy this whole 'resting' thing. While
her husband returned to the Retributor, for the
millionth day in a row, Sierra found herself
remaining on the sidelines at home. There, she could
only do so much to help him. Within a few days,
she'd return back to normal life and resume her work
on the Retributor. What had happened on New Aldera
was bothering her...or what she could remember
happening. El-Nay had been imprisoned, accused with
attempting to murder her...but none of it made
sense. It didn't fall in line with the woman that
Sierra had gotten to know. She simply couldn't
believe that the Mandalorian would place a fee on
She had fallen
asleep on the couch beneath a blanket. In her dream,
she was back on New Aldera dropping Callista home.
As she watched the girl bound towards her parents,
she felt like she couldn't breathe. There were no
hands around her neck, yet she swore that her
windpipe was being crushed. Not long after that, the
sensation of El-Nay crashing into her body awoke
her. Sierra's blue eyes went wide, then she closed
them tightly. The memory hadn't cleared up for her.
She wasn't sure if it ever would. "Damn..." She said
quietly, running her fingers through her hair. There
were no witnesses. Sierra had yet to question El-Nay
about what had happened. Instead, she'd been left in
a cell for days. Little did she know, there was
another person who cared for the Mandalorian that
would be making an appearance very soon.
Kerrie Kiley had been tearing apart the Void looking
for El-Nay Darr, but with no sign of her or her
ship, she suspected she 'volunteered' for some
personal assignment again. She knew El-Nay did not
like the Void, and had witnessed some personal
problems between her and Captain Updike on numerous
occasions. As the days drew on her level of
frustration had transformed into genuine concern and
she headed across Esseles towards her former
assignment at the Rodney estate to look for more
information. Rather than her armor, she was wearing
the black uniform of the Imperial Stormtroopers, and
was presenting herself in her usual appearance as an
attractive young human female, which she felt made
the other Imperials more comfortable.b As she
descended the ramp of the ship to walk across the
irregular stone path to the front door she did not
know what to expect, but as long as she got answers
she would be satisfied. She rose her hand, knocking
at the door, and then taking a step back and
standing at full military attention to await
permission to enter.
sounded throughout the lower level of the estate
loudly. Groaning, Sierra rose from the couch. Who
could that be? El-Nay was imprisoned. Her mother was
imprisoned. Her step-daughters were home. In fact,
she could hear the faint sound off too loud jizz
music from Drusilla's room. Sierra headed towards
the front door. She was dressed simply with no
intention of leaving the house today. Her pajamas
were hidden by a large, warm robe. As she checked
the door and saw Kerrie Kiley, she knew that things
were about to become all the more complicated. The
last time they spoke, Kerrie had already been angry
with her. Sierra opened the door, stepping aside. "I
know what you're here to ask me about, Kerrie.
Please, come in." She, too, knew that El-Nay was
having a difficult time in the Void. Sierra wished
her to be located at the estate, as it would have
given her a guard she trusted close to home.
when she heard Sierra claim to know why she was
here, which made her immediately fear the worst for
El-Nay. She swallowed silently, her stomach suddenly
feeling nauseous. "Thank you, milady," she said,
nervously, as she stepped across the threshold and
entered the estate where she had spent so many
years. She looked around carefully, wondering where
the children were, but she did not ask ... she was
here for other reasons. She stood there silently,
attempting to be both polite and respectful, but
then she could no longer take it. "Where is El-Nay?"
she asked, practically blurting it out, as if
holding it in was hurting her. She was fidgeting as
she waited for a response, finding it a bit
difficult to breath and make eye contact. If she had
gotten herself killed on some damned fool mission
she wanted to know, no matter how painful the news
Sierra's hope that she would never have to bring
that kind of dark news to Kerrie. Granted, she had
no good words to share with the Commander now. She
stood, wondering where she should start in all of
this when Kerrie burst out. Sierra sighed. "She's
being held on the Retributor currently. I feel that
there has been a misunderstanding. Let me explain."
Sierra still felt bad about El-Nay's injuries. More
than that, she hated hurting Kerrie just as much as
El-Nay. She wanted the best for them. She could see
how much they cared for one another. It was
something she, too, understood. "I asked her to
accompany me to take my niece back home on the Rebel
planet New Alderaan. Something happened when we were
leaving. I don't know...a circumstance where she was
forced to tackle me very hard." Sierra brought her
hand to her head. It bothered her that the pieces
weren't coming together. "I don't know. I can't
recall everything. My husband only sees the bad in
El-Nay. I can only imagine what he thought when
El-Nay arrived with me unconscious and bloody."
Kerrie was hit
by two powerful emotions simultaneously that
threatened to buckle her knees and knock her off her
feet. She was relieved that El-Nay was alive, but
concerned, and even angry, that she was being
'held'. As someone who had carried out numerous
operations for the Empire, and specifically the ISB,
she knew the term being 'held' was more than simply
spending a night in jail at the hands of a local
constabulary. "You asked her to go to a Rebel
planet?!" she exclaimed, breaching protocol as she
lost her patience in front of her now *superior*
officer. "I thought we agreed that would not happen
again," she said, sounding tired and exasperated.
Her hand moved to the top of her head, where she
removed her hat and began playing with it in her
hand. "El-Nay would have never hurt you. You were
*all* she talked about lately ... *all*," she
informed her, with a sound of hurt, and even
jealousy, in her voice. She turned her side to
Sierra, unable to look her in the eyes at the
moment. She did not know what to do or say at this
point. Suddenly the vast Rodney estate felt as small
and confined as a broom closet. "I must speak to the
Governor," she said, before lowering her head, and
resigning herself to defeat. She knew it would be a
futile effort ... he never liked El-Nay and he was
massively overprotective of his pregnant wife. Given
what could happen in Imperial custody there was part
of her who wished the poor Mandalorian had been
killed, as it might have been less painful.
with me before." She explained to Kerrie. "We have
been very careful each time we went. I don't know
how someone figured out who *I* was." That was
beyond the point. Right now, they needed to consider
how best to save El-Nay. Sierra regained composure,
allowing Kerrie to react instead of getting
emotional herself. It shocked her to hear that
El-Nay had been talking about her so much. They'd
become fast friends. Sierra wanted to spend some
time with her outside of risking their lives
together. She sighed. "I know she wouldn't hurt me.
It isn't like her." Her hand reached out, patting
Kerrie's shoulder to comfort her. "No. I will speak
with my husband. Between the two of us, I have a
better chance of convincing him that this isn't what
it looks like. Can you take me to the Retributor?"
She asked her, knowing that Claudius had the Kwai.
"I'll talk to him now. She has already been held for
far too long." Sierra began stepping backwards. She
wasn't going to make an appearance without changing,
but this matter couldn't wait.
her head slowly towards Sierra, not at all sure what
to make of her. She had not spent much time with
her, as the woman had taken her job. She wondered if
she should simply attempt to break El-Nay out of her
cell and flee to the Outer Rim, but that would
violate her life debt to the Grand Moff. She was
being torn apart having to choose between the man
she served and the woman she loved. She lowered her
head, closing her eyes, and clenching her fists. She
needed a moment to compose herself, and she took it.
"Yes. Yes I will," she said, swallowing and exhaling
slowly. In a moment she had her hat back upon her
head and raised her head to look at Sierra once
again. "Thank you, milady," she said, before leading
her from the estate towards the waiting ship.
to avoid a confrontation between Kerrie and
Claudius. She knew that she was going to have to
talk to him about El-Nay, but she had been dragging
her feet on it. Sierra like to have hard facts to
show him to support her. Instead, she was going to
him to tell him she 'felt' like there was more going
on. Sighing, the young Major rounded into her
office. The first thing she saw was that the
datapads on her desk had breed like Lepi. She noted
to herself to grab a handful to review at home.
Continuing forward, she passed through into her
husband's office. She smiled slyly at him. "Hi you."
Even though Kerrie was nowhere to be seen, she could
nearly feel the woman breathing down her neck. "I'm
not here to work, simply to distract."
Rodney rose slightly from his desk so that he could
see Sierra over the pile, tilting his head tiredly,
but still managing to form a smile for her. "When
the Empire sent more naval reinforcements I did not
realize the amount of paperwork involved," he said,
before sweeping his hand across his desk to knock
the pile of pads over, so that he could sit back
down and still have an unobstructed view of her.
"Should you be up and about? Did you speak to Doctor
Bailo?" he watched her like a thranta, not expecting
her to have returned to duty as soon as she was. His
wife was many wonderful things, but she was not a
No she was
not! Sierra couldn't handle having idle hands,
forced to sit and *wait* to heal. She crossed his
office, eventually coming to stand in front of his
desk. As the pads fell over onto the floor, she
leaned over and kissed him on the lips before
settling in a seat directly in front of his desk. "I
did speak to her. I'm allowed to be up, but no
'overdoing' it." You could see how her eyes rolled.
"I'm behaving, I promise." She reassured her
husband, who knew her far too well at this point.
She comfortably crossed one leg over the other and
sat back. She was lucky to be doing so well. Their
son continued to grow stronger and bigger, currently
Irish dancing on her bladder. "Can I take any of
this home?" She asked, snickering.
carrying very precious cargo, my dear," Claudius
reminded her, with a stern wag of his right index
finger for good measure. "Think less of yourself and
more of him. If sitting around the estate doing
*nothing* for months results in a beautiful and
healthy baby boy then it is a fair price to pay," he
told her, with a nod of his head. He had been
through so many family hardships over the years that
he was magnifying all of his concern onto Sierra.
"No. It's alright. I'll sort through it ...
somehow," he said, as he rolled his eyes at the mess
of data in front of him. "I'm told most regional
governors don't even bother to review what their
staff is doing..." he said, as he leaned across the
desk towards her. "I'm beginning to understand why!"
he said, as he picked up one random pad, which
apparently detailed the agricultural production on
the northern continent of Chandrila. Such minutiae
was the kind of data his Chiss Lieutenant ... the
tactical brains of the operation ... thought would
ultimately win the battle.
right. She'd do anything to ensure that their son
was born healthy and at the appropriate time. After
seeing Darrus Rodney, it had suddenly become so much
harder to wait for her family to grow. She tried not
to think of how many more weeks and days it was
until Bruce could safely come, but the numbers sat
dauntingly in her head. There was still so much
waiting to do! She sighed, nodding. "You're right. I
want the best for our son. Right now, that means me
taking it easy." After the string of terrible
events, she didn't intend to stray too far from him
until Bruce was born. She didn't even want to return
to Delaya to visit her niece and nephew again, as
the presence of Governor Papius was unsettling. She
wanted to help her husband *badly*. "Whatever you
don't get through, I'll help you with as soon as I'm
back. It's only a few more days, then you can thrust
all the boring stuff on me." Sierra smiled. That was
kind of the point of having an adjutant, yeah?
"You're good at your job. Shame on you for wanting
to know what's going on!" She smiled, reaching
across his desk to take his hand. "I actually wanted
to talk to you about the El-Nay Darr ordeal." She
brought it up softly. "Has anyone questioned her
should make use of some droids, but I find them to
be insufferable," Claudius suggested, but then
quickly attacked his own idea. He found the
personalities of most protocol and administration
droids to be more intolerable than even his Chiss
Lieutenant. "Take your time. Don't rush back on
account of some datapads," he informed her, as his
eyes roamed across the room towards the chronometer.
He still had several hours left on duty ... not even
a Grand Moff had the power to speed up time. When
the subject changed so did his personality. He grew
more tense, as if her mere mention of it caused him
to become angry. "I don't know. I don't even know if
she's alive," he said to her, clearly annoyed, which
made him rise from his desk and move towards his
viewport. "You have too big a heart, my love ... and
I love you for it ... but save it for our family,"
he said, while staring at his own aged reflection in
droids. There will be no peace here with droids
running around." She had worked with droids enough
times in her life. Was it really so hard to give
them better personalities? Most droids were
obnoxious. The broken ones were the exciting ones.
She watched him visibly tense, but decided to tread
carefully into the land in front of her. She hoped
El-Nay was still alive... Her stomach did a flip
simply thinking about the Mandalorian dead in a cage
somewhere. Sierra rose. She quietly approached him
at the viewport where she looked out of it. Her head
turned towards him, staring at the man she loved.
"I'm being cautious with El-Nay. That woman has
sacrificed herself for me before. She nearly died on
Corulag for me, for our son." She explained, running
her hand over his arm slowly. "For that alone, she
deserves the chance to explain herself. Let's face
it. She may wear the brightest armor in the bunch,
but she isn't the brightest crayon. El-Nay doesn't
have the capability to be malicious like that."
listened to her carefully, trying hard not to think
of her as a bleeding heart. He loved her compassion
and her putting others first made her a wondrous
asset to him on Delaya, as in the case of the
refugee center. However, here amongst the Empire ...
amongst Zevrin, Thanor, and their lackeys ... there
were those who would seek to take advantage of her
good nature and use it against him ... and his
family. He considered how best to respond, as he
wanted to watch out for herself, but he also did not
want to destroy all of the positive qualities that
he loved so much about her. He needed to protect his
flower without crushing it. "It could have been a
ruse to earn your trust," he said, sounding more
paranoid with each passing moment. He saw threats
against his family in every direction, and for good
reason as there had been so many attempts made
against him as of late. "You ... you wish to speak
to her then?" he asked, finally coming to the point,
as he turned to face her.
Her kind heart
had already been exploited. As long as she cared
about her family, their enemies had the ability to
force her to do things against her will. Like Zevrin
and her terrible concerts. Sierra didn't like being
played. She certainly didn't want to find herself
played by El-Nay. It wasn't something she had really
considered until Claudius brought it up. Her eyes
fell briefly. It was possible. Ultimately, El-Nay
was a bounty hunter. Perhaps she was extraordinary
at her job. Her hand suddenly took his. Her silenced
said that she was considering it, that Claudius
wasn't standing without reason. It looked like she
was having second thoughts about the whole ordeal by
the time he turned towards her. "Yes.." She sounded
less confident, for the wheels in her head were
turning in the wrong direction now. "If she isn't
guilty of a crime, then she shouldn't be here. If
she's innocent, I'll seal her to the Void and keep
her an arm's length away. There's already so many
people trying to hurt us in our life. If I can rid
us of just one of those people, then so be it."
Sierra stepped forward into him. Her arms wrapped
around his waist. Her eyes closed, nuzzling her face
into his shoulder. El-Nay was her friend ... right?
closer towards her, trying to maintain a positive
exterior, even if he was conflicted on the inside.
"I heard her with her own advice admit to colliding
with you, and Doctor Bailo indicated many of your
injuries were consistent with such a collision," he
reminded her, as he placed his hand upon her
shoulder. "I can see that the only way to resolve
this is to allow you to speak to her, so do so ...
with my blessing," he said, surrendering to her. He
had learned that in a marriage one had to choose
their battles rather than fighting over every little
detail. He lowered his head, placing a gentle kiss
upon her forehead. "Thank you for once again
reminding me why I love you, and why I am blessed to
have you with me in all things," he told her, before
releasing his hold upon her and returning to his
desk to resume the endless paperwork.
lifted as he gave her his blessing. She nearly
started crying right there in front of him. The man
had her well being in his mind, yet he also let her
heart win this. It seemed impossible to love him
more, but Sierra did. A small smile broke out on her
face. Not only did he allow it, he also made her
feel like she wasn't making a foolish mistake.
"Claudius.. I love you.." She didn't understand how
he'd made everything so much better despite the fact
that he didn't care for El-Nay and would rather see
her locked up forever. She lingered in his office
for a little longer. "I'll come back and keep you
company when I'm done. We can go home together."
With that, she turned on her heel and set off on her
way to see El-Nay. She knew that El-Nay's
explanation and Doctor Bailo's examination fell in
line with each other. She had so many broken bones
throughout her torso from the hard collision. The
whole ordeal had been terrifying for both her and
her sweet, sweet husband.
had emerged from her bacta tank and been placed in a
holding cell deep within the bowels of the
Retributor. She had been stripped of her armor, her
weapons, and left with nothing but her environmental
suit. She had no way to conceal her face. No
privacy. She was checked in on every few hours. She
had even been groped during her ordeal. Her wounds
had yet to fully heal, and she had a terrible pain
in her head from the abuse she sustained at the
hands of the Grand Moff. She had no idea what was
going to happen to her. She had talk of execution,
or even being sent to Mandalore to work in the
mines. She was terrified. She wanted her father. She
wanted Kerrie. No one wanted to listen about her
side of events, and how she claimed to have been
rescuing Sierra from the Rebel. Simply put, no one
cared. And so she sat on her uncomfortable cot, her
knees raised in front of her chest, with her chin
resting upon her knees. She was rocking back and
forth as she hugged herself, trying to come to terms
with her ordeal. She only had herself to blame.
made her way down to the bowels of the Retributor.
By the time she reached El-Nay's cell, she suddenly
understood that she had gone past 'taking it easy'.
She felt so tired. She had to take a moment to
regain her composure outside of the cell. In her
hand, she held a Storm Commando helmet. She hadn't
been able to find where El-Nay's armor was, but she
thought she might provide the woman with some sense
of security. When she was ready, Sierra inputted a
code and made her way into the Mandalorian's cell.
She spotted El-Nay on her cot. She didn't look good.
Her face was heavily injured. Had the collision hurt
her too? Sierra stepped out of the cell, demanding
that a medic be sent down to properly treat the
prisoner, then reentered and slowly, *slowly*
lowered herself to the woman's cot. "El-Nay..." She
couldn't help the concern she felt. She simply
didn't think El-Nay was malicious, especially not
towards her. "I'm going to try to get you out of
here... Can you tell me what happened? I... I can't
seem to remember it all.." She admitted sadly to
When the door
opened and she saw it was Sierra, she went into a
panic, and turned so that her back was facing her.
She brought her hands up to try and cover her face,
as she did not want her 'friend' to see how
grievously injured she was. She had been ordered out
of the tank before her wounds had been given proper
time to heal as a further punishment for her crime.
When she heard Sierra could not remember, she began
to cry, for she knew her goose was cooked without a
corroborating witness. "It doesn't matter..." she
began, sounding despondent and resigned to her fate.
"No one believes me. You won't either," she said,
before inhaling deeply through her nose as she began
to cry harder. She was quite the pathetic sight ...
a far cry from the image she wanted to present as a
Mandalorian. If only her father could see her now,
he would simply tell her 'I told you so' and leave
It ripped her
in half to see El-Nay like this; injured, crying, a
shell of who she actually was. Sierra didn't
understand why she withdrew from her. She took the
Commando helmet, nervously pushing it towards her.
The sounds of El-Nay crying only made everything
worse. She frowned, inching towards her friend.
Sierra ran her hand over the Mandalorian's back
slowly. "I'll believe you, El-Nay. I'm sorry you
were locked up in here. Did they do this to you? Did
someone hurt you like this?" Sierra had seen enough.
She assumed that it was the work of nasty
Stormtroopers who would take advantage of the
situation. "Talk to me... I don't want to leave you
here. Kerrie is waiting to take you back to the
to take the helmet, quickly placing it over her
head. She was like an animal who believed that what
she could not see, could not see her either. And so
as the helmet settled onto her head she began to
breathe more regularly, but the tears and mucus did
not yet abide. "I was waiting on the ship like you
told me," she started, as she began to loosen up
somewhat. "I saw a flash. And then a blaster shot.
When I got there you were being attacked by a
Rebel," she continued, as she finally tilted her
helmet up to look Sierra in the eyes. "She was going
to kill you ... I was sure of it. I couldn't get a
shot..." she said, sounding increasingly more
erratic. "The only choice I had was to hit my
jetpack and crash into both of you. If I hadn't ...
she would have choked you out, milady. I'm sorry..."
she said, clearly speaking through tears, as she
moved to the cold floor to kneel before her. "I
brought you back here for treatment, but I was
blamed, and ... and..." she said, before lowering
her head obediently. "...and your husband did this
to me," she revealed, not sure how she would react
to the news. "I'm so, so sorry," she said, as she
reached forward for Sierra's boots, groveling before
her in the most pathetic display possible.
remained on El-Nay. She was paying attention more
than anyone else had to her story. She wasn't simply
listening with her ears though. Sierra was making
sure El-Nay wasn't lying to her in her body
language. She had worked with enough people in her
heyday to understand when they weren't being
truthful. Those who had truly aligned against the
Empire showed their true colors in one way or
another. The story made sense, as all Sierra could
remember was the sensation of not being able to
breathe. El-Nay seemed to be falling apart more and
more. She was on the ground and kneeling before her.
The most surprising fact she revealed was that it
was *Claudius* who had injured her. It hadn't been a
Rebel, or even a corrupt trooper like she suspected.
Her jaw dropped slightly. "*What*...?!" Sierra
snapped. She recalled what she told Kerrie. What
Claudius saw was El-Nay carrying around her bloody
body. El-Nay had provided him with the reason to
believe that she had done it. . . and she had. It
was meant to *save* Sierra, but it endangered her
far more than the Mandalorian likely anticipated.
For that, she didn't fault her husband. In a
different situation, Sierra would have done the same
thing. Rubbing her temples, the young woman
considered what she should do about El-Nay.
There was only
touched with her helmet. Black wasn't El-Nay's
color. The orange suited her infinitely better.
"El-Nay... Stop, don't grovel like that." She said
softly, sounding *very* tired. "I believe you about
everything. If you were trying to kill me, then why
bring me here?" Sierra voiced her thoughts out loud.
"I'm going to release you, El-Nay. I want you to go
back to the Void and recover properly." As she said
this, she withdrew her comlink from her pocket. She
made a quick call to Kerrie. "Come and get her."
Then she muttered which cell she was in. Slowly,
Sierra stood. It hadn't been the most intelligent
call. El-Nay had been looking for a solution to stop
her from being choked out. What she didn't realize
was how damaging it would be for Sierra. She stepped
over the crying El-Nay. Kerrie would arrive soon to
take care of her. For Sierra, it was time to slowly
make her way back to her love.