There were very few deplorable things
Rhiannon T'Jarell could think of at this moment, and one of them
happened to be being forcibly relocated. Emperor's bowels, she swore
under her breath as the orders came through once again, confirmed for
the third and final time. So much for Kabak's faith in her abilities.
Going back to the Core was the worst thing in the universe for her now,
given the fact that things were going so well in Seswenna sector. Was
this her 'reward' for getting the job well done? Supposedly there wasn't
much else for her to do in the Outer Rim at present, but even so, Rhia
was hoping to get some time off to visit her family on Hapes. Infernal
orders! Just what exactly was so important that the Empire could not do
without one flimsy female at the helm of a ship?! Disgust painted itself
vividly upon the young woman's delicate features, creating a striking
contrast between serene beauty and welled up anger.
The calm before a storm.
A soft chime resounded behind her as she
stood facing the viewport attempting to forget the present. "Come."
There was a determined 'swoosh' of an opening door and a single pair of
footsteps accelerating into her ready room. "Whatever it is, say it
quickly and go. I'm in no mood for any further idiocy." Silence. Still,
Rhia would not turn, still wishing the unwelcome entrant away. More
silence. Pivoting on her heel at long last, she turned to face the
hapless ensign who held a small datapad. Forcing down her anger, the
Hapan officer stepped forward and reached out with one gloved hand,
nodding in acknowledgment. "Well? Give it here." The young man saluted
and did as bid, barely blinking at his superior. "Leave." The voice was
gentler now, but still resolute and firm. Waiting until the footsteps
receded, Rhia glanced to the datapad in hand, then tossed it onto the
desk without hesitation. She then proceeded to take a seat behind her
desk and punching in a series of keys into her personal computer:
Esseles. Claudius Rodney. Warspite.
That would do for the time being. That ...
Up until a year-and-a-half ago the planet Esseles had been a typical
Core World, basking in the prosperity that had been afforded to the
human populated worlds since the end of the Clone Wars. That all changed
of course with the presence of the Rebel Alliance deep within the nearby
Ringali Nebula, which had brought the Galactic Civil War to the region.
Gone were the constant streams of freighters and transports conducting
commerce along the Perlemian Way and Hydian Trade Route; in their stead
was a large Imperial military presence consisting of an assortment of
frigates, cruisers, and uncountable starfighters. No change was more
notable than that of the deployment of an Imperial Star Destroyer ...
flagship of the recently promoted Grand Moff Claudius Rodney. With the
Imperial Senate disbanded and restrictions placed upon the local
government the population was uneasy and no one could better sense the
unrest than the Alderaanian governor ... a tipping point was near.
It took another two days before the VSD
Tenacity arrived in the Darpa sector, making its way with a slow,
deliberate purpose toward Esseles and the ship that pulsed in orbit of
the planet. At the head of the bridge, Captain Rhiannon T'Jarell stood
rigid and silent, feet shoulder width apart, gloved hands clasped behind
her back. In the face of the sullen mood that had befallen their
commanding officer, the crew of the Tenacity remained watchful
and silent, waiting for a mere word from their Captain as they went
about their routine tasks. Yet commands fell few and far between from
Rhia's lips; she was far too lost in intense thought, pondering what it
was she was about to walk into. The information on the newly created
Grand Moff was sparse to say the least and the data on the Essesia
Suddenly, a proximity indicator
resounded, breaking the listless silence. Rhia's head snapped upward as
she took a report from a nearby deck officer. They were nearing their
intended destination, the Tenacity now in comfortable transport
range. "Ready my shuttle," came a brief command as Rhia left
instructions with Commander Garak. The officer looked at her somberly, a
questioning look on his face. "Something amiss, Commander?" she asked
with a smirk teasing her lips. He undoubtedly noticed something amiss
and it bothered him. Good. "Out with it," she urged him on, while Garak
sighed. "Permission to speak freely, ma'am?" Rhia nodded slowly,
taunting the poor man with the smoldering gaze of her deep brown eyes.
"You plan to visit the Grand Moff ... as you are?" Tickled pink at the
obvious anguish painted in her first officer's features, Rhia tossed
back a mane of mahogany silk and laughed. "Indeed, Commander. Now do as
I asked. If I don't return within twenty-four hours, you may assume that
I've been arrested for my lacking taste in fashion."
Garak stared at her for a moment, pale
blues still harboring pained disbelief, then clicked his heels together
and left promptly to carry out his mistress' orders. Left to her own
devices, Rhia walked off the bridge and headed for the shuttle bay, a
simple datapad in tow.
Deep within the bowels of the star
destroyer Warspite, Claudius Rodney sat at a sleek, black desk
that reflected the minimalist lighting from above. A stack of datapads
that threatened to topple over and bury the man dominated the landscape
... governing two sectors without the bureaucracy was indeed proving to be
quite the task. The Rebellion was on the verge of overwhelming him, with
Ralltiir in open revolt, Chandrila being the birthplace of the leader of
the Alliance, and a cell on Brentaal unleashing particularly deadly
results. In the time since he had taken command in the region he had
aged a decade, and the war weariness could easily be read upon his tired
face and furrowed brow. His uniform still remained impeccable, as he
still received competent help from a valet; unfortunately, the staff
tasked with aiding him in the war effort were too concerned with
advancing their interests and petty squabbling. To that end, he
requested a competent advisor to renew his convoy defense, and Fleet
Admiral Kabak, a former shipmate, informed him he had just the
tactician. And so the rapidly aging Alderaanian better suited to
politics than war sat and waited, but for what he was unsure.
After what seemed like an eternity in a
limbo filled with roaring wampas and screeching kowakian monkey lizards,
Rhia finally made it to the private office of her new commanding
officer. She was ushered inside without a word and left alone to ponder
the next few minutes of her existence in near-darkness. The subtle
stream of light that barely illuminated the desk Rhia saw ahead did
little to improve her mood or lift her unease, although she did take a
few steps toward it, curious to discover the presence looming behind its
obsidian expanse. Once she could make out the lines that formed a rigid
frame of a man, the Hapan stood tall and offered a brief, customary
salute before speaking in a low, husky tone.
"Captain Rhiannon T'Jarell of the
Victory-class Star Destroyer Tenacity reporting for duty as
ordered. Sir." The final bit was added almost as an afterthought, a
reflection on her proud cultural heritage. The final word fell,
dissolving into silence as the young woman proceeded to wait for
acknowledgment from the man across from her. Undoubtedly, it would take
him a while to process her late arrival as would her unprecedented and
unorthodox, appearance - for there was nothing 'Imperial' about this
captain, beginning with the state of her loosely cascading hair and
ending with the lustrous sheen of her skin-tight bodysuit.
Was this her way of protesting the
sudden shift in duty, in being ordered to the most undesirable post in
Her eyes now used to the dim light,
Rhiannon stared at the man across from her in what seemed to be, perfect
serenity. Their color was a brilliant swirl of mahogany and midnight,
and they studied Rodney a moment, the fine crescents of her brows
arching, as if trying to remember whether she had come across this
person - one of the most powerful men in the Galaxy, before. She showed
no sign of fear but merely childlike curiosity, as if the Grand Moff's
proximity to her was entirely acceptable. The delicate perfection of her
was only the beginning, not at all deterred by the severe adult
trappings of her curve-hugging, suggestive bodysuit. Her hair spilled
across a supple form in a glossy dark cape, its lustrous strands
rippling over the slope of her back like fine dark ale. She considered
speaking again, but the ability to do so had deserted her, so she simply
stood and waited - rigid and uncommonly tall - lost in the depths of
silence that had momentarily enveloped them both in her indiscriminate
and deceptively soothing, embrace.
Claudius momentarily glanced up at the
'girl', still quite focused on his datapad, so much so that he failed to
realize neither her beauty nor her attire. Slowly, as if a spark had
been lit inside his mind that would lead to an inevitable explosion his
mind began to the process the imagery he had just glimpsed. No ... that
cannot be right, he thought silently to himself, placing the datapad
awkwardly upon the table that caused a clattering that shattered the
silence that had existed since she addressed him. Clearing his throat he
attempted to swallow, for he was quite dry and had forgotten to remain
hydrated during his lengthy review of the reports that had piled up
throughout the day.
Slowly his head began to tilt upwards,
his eyes moving faster and arriving at her level two brief moments
before the rest of his visage. Despite his age, he was still a man, and
his vision was quite well and it could be both understood and forgiven
if he lingered somewhat. This had to be someone's idea of a joke, he
thought to himself, unwilling to accept that yet another young,
presumably inexperienced female had been assigned to his command.
Captain? he asked himself, as he bit down upon the innards of his lower
lip. Surely this mere 'girl' could be no more than a Lieutenant. A
well connected mistress perhaps? he speculated again, unaware of how the
silence had lengthened to an almost awkward level.
"Your transfer orders?" Claudius asked,
as he remembered the dignity of his position and returned to business.
Perhaps there was an error, or yet still this may have all been a prank
on the part of a demoralized staff that sought to improve the morale. It
would have been understandable and in his youth he had been part of such
stunts. Perhaps his old comrade Admiral Kabak had read the reports of
the setbacks in the Ringali Shell and felt a concubine was more needed
than a strategist ... either way, he would get to the bottom of this and
set things right.
Rolling her eyes with the subtlety of a
Lorrdian warmaster, Rhiannon reached for the datapad stuffed under her
left arm then reached out to hand the device to the Grand Moff. "It's
all there. Password: Delaya." At this point, she emitted a subtle grin
and stepped back the moment the device left her possession. She could
not help but wonder whether he was displeased at having her here and
merely covering well - or whether his ire was already brewing and ready
to explode at any moment. Either way, Rhia was sure he would soon tip
the scales to reveal one or the other.
Cute, Claudius thought concerning the
password and began to access the file, giving it more than the usual
cursory glance that he would routinely give transfer orders. "Hapan?" he
spoke aloud, although at that moment in time he thought he had said it
internally ... no matter. Perhaps his wife had some part to play in this
as yet unrealized drama, but he then tempered himself and accepted that
she was too naive to take part in such a scheme. "I see that you've
experienced combat ... Captain," there was a lengthy pause before he
uttered her rank, and the way in which he uttered that last word would
make it abundantly clear he was somewhat skeptical as to her rank. "It
is does not state so in your service record, but ... I assume your last
assignment was somewhat ... covert?" he asked, moving his right hand up
and down slowly, clearly directed her non-regulation attire. "I trust
that you were simply so eager to report to your new assignment that you
arrived before your uniform?" he asked, before rising from his seat and
slowly navigating the table in order to more closely address her. Tall,
was his initial reaction, and he had to cant his head up slightly to
continue to maintain eye contact.
"I thought I'd present a pleasing
image," Rhia responded evenly, her eyes never leaving his. "If you
prefer the dull, drab grays, I shall always make sure to assault your
senses with them whenever we meet, sir." Of course, this was just an
inch short of insubordination. Wasn't it? Hmm, maybe it was time to try
harder. Miserable and weary of all this, the Hapan was getting to the
point where it did not matter what kind of words fell from her lips. She
wasn't interested in playing nice. She was interested in going home.
Only one problem: did the Empire actually offer honorable discharge? And
would this Claudius Rodney stand behind such an offer, given how
horribly she was behaving just now? "Look... Sir. Your Excellency, or
whatever you prefer to be called," she began, stifling a sigh and
straightening her posture. "Let us be frank. You don't really want me
here. I am obviously not what you asked for, and you are the last thing
I asked for. So it stands to reason, that we would have an awful time
working together. Wouldn't we?" Since it was a rhetorical question, Rhia
wasn't about to let him answer and catching a quick breath, continued
prattling on. "I know I don't look like a Captain. I get it. I look like
a very pricey streetwalker. Yes? Let's not mince words. You don't think
I can do the job and I do, but that doesn't mean you're about to let me
stick around. I am not politically correct and I'll likely end up being
a very big thorn in your bu- ... side," she corrected herself quickly,
covering a smirk by biting her lower lip. "But I'd like to avoid the
firing squad if at all possible, so just lay down the law and let's see
if we can make the best of it, shall we? Please?" Lowering her gaze to
the floor, the Hapan let her chin drop so the Grand Moff would not see
the playful grin that briefly flashed across her delicate features.
Instinctively, Claudius took another
step back, and then yet another to reinforce the point. He had survived
long enough to know how to sense a predator ... and he had no intention of
being her prey. "I can tell your last command was somewhat more ...
familiar, Captain," he said, tilting his head to one side to further
survey her. Perhaps there was some tell he could read upon that young,
unspoiled Hapan face that stood so cavalier before him. "I'm not sure
what Che- Admiral Kabak's game was, but I will tell you we are not ones
for theatricals here," he said, as he approached her at swift and steady
pace, only to brush right by her to a large display that dominated the
entirety of the wall. "Viewer on," he said, and a blue holographic image
of the six planets of the Darpa and Bormea sectors that combined to form
the region of space known as the Ringali Shell. "And what am I supposed
to do with you, T'Jarrel?" he asked, shaking his head with a rather
obnoxious snicker. "Wrap you in a bow and send you back to Sesswenna
with a return label on?" he asked, the sarcasm dripping from him in a
way that betrayed his stature. "You are here and you will do your duty..."
he began, his voice growing serious and into a commanding tone. "We will
do our duty ... now come learn something," he commanded, as he extended an
arm in her direction, his attention returning to the display.
"Aye, sir." There was nothing left to
say after that display of rigid fortitude. The Grand Moff was made of
the strongest durasteel, or so it appeared. He did, however, seem to
possess a somewhat 'whimsical' side as he did not choose to begin her
new post with a bout of discipline she appeared to need in spades. Or
maybe she was merely appearing this way to test his boundaries?
Regardless, they were about to embark on a journey together - and Rhia's
fate - at least for now, was sealed. She stepped forth in the direction
of his extended arm, suppressing the urge to take it. Something about
imagining it happen nearly caused Rhia to burst out laughing but she
contained the urge and stepped up beside Claudius, dark gaze lifting to
the holographic display. "I am ready for the first lesson, now," she
murmured, her voice deceptively soft.
A hint of color rushed to Claudius'
cheeks at the clever way she phrased that, and he began to speculate as
to how a creature such as her might have advanced so swiftly in rank.
But, he was not that kind of officer. Privately, he wondered if he was
about to waste his time briefing young the officer, but there were those
who despised his noble stature when he entered the navy two decades
earlier. As such, he viewed her as somewhat of a kindred spirit ... no
matter how unorthodox she might seem ... and decided to give her the
benefit of the doubt. "The problem should be quite clear," he began, his
hand raising to motion towards the large and foreboding representation
of the Ringali Nebula. "Our sensor scans cannot penetrate, and every
craft we have sent in after them has yet to return," he said, his head
shifting slightly to spirit his glance back to her, attempting to read
her like one of the great novels he approached in his youth with the
earnest hope of prying loose some shed of a motive in her. "They're in
there ... and they've shown no indication of simply packing up and
leaving. We cannot drive them out and so we have a stalemate. They prick
at us ... like an insect sucking upon a large, lethargic beast," he said
pessimistically, shifting his entire body to face the statuesque Hapan.
"...and we present quite the bloated hulk for them to feast upon," he
concluded, his head lowering as if the battle had already been lost ...
and to this point it in fact had.
Listening closely to every word the
Grand Moff was imparting, Rhia's countenance suddenly changed. It
shifted into a mask of absolute concentration as she focused her gaze
upon the Ringali Nebula and then calmly turned to face Rodney. Her head
canted slowly, as if she was about to lean upon an invisible pillow for
comfort. In truth, it was a mannerism she executed without realizing it,
just before unleashing a possible solution to any puzzle that seemed at
first, to be an inexplicable ... mess. "When something is hiding from you,
and you can't go in to get it yourself...you have to make the prey think
it is more dangerous to stay where they are, than to make a run for it."
Taking a small step backwards as if to put more space between the Grand
Moff and herself, she continued quietly. "Now, I am fairly positive that
depending on the nebula, some form of charges could be used to set the
nebula off. If you could successfully ionize the gas within, it would
then be possible to detect where your prey is hiding and subsequently
fire upon them with some degree of success. Capital scale missiles might
do the trick if properly configured." Falling silent at last, Rhia
straightened her posture and lowered her gaze to lock with Rodney's,
giving him a moment to think and possibly offer a rebuttal.
Claudius listened to her stratagem
intently, and immediately a sense of disgust began to flow through him.
It seemed he had misjudged the officer unfairly by her appearance ... he
had thought he was better than that. Perhaps he was guilty of xenophobia
and preconceived bias as a result of his past experience with Hapans.
His hand pressed against the image of the Ringali Nebula, causing it to
flicker somewhat from the force of his hand. Then suddenly a *crack* as
the screen broke under the force of his hand and the image shorted out.
It had been a difficult campaign and even the most novice of body
language interpreters could read that something was wrong. "Very well,
Captain T'Jarell," he said as he moved back towards his desk. "...but we
have no idea what they have in there," he said, and rather than sit in
his chair he found himself taking a seat on the edge of a desk. "You
know when I was a child on Delaya I came upon a hornet's nest. All day
long I watched as the hornets came and went on their missions ... not
unlike all that space traffic you might have encountered on your way in
system..." he paused, bringing his left hand up to scratch at his neck
slightly, adjusting the collar of his tunic along the way. "I smashed
that hornets nest..." he continued, laughing at the follies of his youth.
"And for my trouble every one of those hornets emerged and stung me. So
much so that I nearly died..." he explained to her, as he replayed the
narrative of her plan in his head. "Do you not see the similarities? I
wonder, my dear, what might emerge should you smash that nest..." his
voice trailing off a bit, taking a moment to study her more closely as
his left hand instinctively tapped against the tabletop he currently
Rhia studied the Grand Moff for a
moment, seeing before her, not a man in his prime - but a little scared
boy on Alderaan. Men. There was a reason why Hapan society was
matriarchal. A pang of pity tugged at her heartstrings and still, she
would ignore it. This was not the time nor the place for such
foolishness. Plus, there was also the ridiculous fact that Claudius
Rodney could have easily been her father - the age certainly fit - and
then some. Still, Rhia would have been utterly shortsighted to ignore
the opportunity that had presented itself before her now. An opportunity
to win his trust. "Do you want me to smash the hornets' nest for you?"
She walked with a steady gait, stopping just short of the front of his
desk and canted her head to one side, studying him once more. "It is
safe to assume that whoever is in there chose the nebula because it is
relatively safe for them, and difficult for you." The scenario was
already playing out in her brain, unveiling itself in front of her eyes:
they could do a combination; some mines would be designed to do damage
or set off volatile gas - others, the ionizing charges would make it
easier to detect what was actually hiding within the nebula. They would
hold the latter off till later, once they had the enemy cornered.
Setting them off early would reveal the other mines' location- "Do you
want me to smash the hornets' nest for you?" she repeated with a soft,
Claudius was cautious ... perhaps too
cautious, and it had been spoken about in some circles that it could
have been the cause for the Imperial setbacks in the Ringali Shell. If
he had not broken the display, he would have showed her the disposition
of Imperial forces in the region. It might not have been what she was
used to in the Outer Rim, as Grand Moff Tarkin had procured near
limitless forces for his more volatile, prioritized command. "Very well,
Captain..." he said with only a trace of confidence. "But you are new here
so be forewarned ... that firing squad you fear may very well materialize
if you fail, but it will be Rebel forces pulling the trigger!" and with
that declarative statement he shifted his hand over her transfer orders
once again. With a single keystroke he confirmed them ... perhaps sealing
both their fates.
"There is much contained within this
file, Rhiannon," Claudius began, as his tongue awkwardly washed across
the upper row of his teeth in a desperate play for moisture. "But not so
much as I think as what is not here..." he said, the first sign of a smile
dancing upon his weathered face, as he slid the datapad away from him.
"How does a member of the Hapan nobility end up in the service of the
Imperial Navy?" he asked, genuinely interested, as she was about as far
from his wife as one could get. "My experienced with your species ...
limited such as it is ... would not have led me to believe such a thing
would be possible," as his eyes moved across the skintight bodysuit that
adorned her perfectly toned flesh. Perfect was an adjective he had
derided, but it was something he had noticed could oft be described a
Hapan ... if only their exterior.
"Species?" An elegant brow lifted in
response to the word Rodney used. "Sir, if I may, we are all 'human'
under the skin, are we not?" How she loved her rhetorical word usage.
"My parents are of the extremely ambitious sort. They felt it was wiser
to send both their daughters to the esteemed halls of the Imperial
Academy of Carida than to have them married off to some squabbling
diplomats. Their 'sacrifice' was done not just for our good - my
sister's and mine - but for the good of the Empire. Would you not agree
with their assessment, Sir?" she grinned, her hands moving to clasp
across the low of her back.
A roar of laughter escaped Claudius'
lips that was completely unbecoming for a gentleman. His cheeks flushed
red, and his torso began to rumble furiously as he turned in on himself,
almost as if he was cradling his own body. He struggled to breath as the
much needed laugh escaped his tired form and brought some levity to his
otherwise monotonous day. After a few moments ... perhaps a few too many ...
he regained his composure and the natural color returned to his
complexion. Once the moment had passed a look of concern came upon his
face, realizing that he had most likely given horrible offense. "Allow
me to apologize, Captain..." he said, as he rose from the desk back onto
his feet, stopping only to let out a subtle groan as a man of his age
was likely to make. "But you see I am something of a 'squabbling'
diplomat myself..." he explained, raising his right hand and placing it
firmly upon her left shoulder without much thought. "And last year my
parents ... who also are squabbling diplomats ... even more so than me in
fact ... arranged by marriage to a Hapan woman of your approximate age,"
he continued, hoping she would understand why he found her assessment so
humorous. "So perhaps I alone am in a position to understand the unique
nature of your upbringing," and with that he gave a reassuring squeeze
to her shoulder, not at all pleased with the non-regulation attire he
was now in direct contact with.
The soft synth-skin Rodney came in
contact with gave way to the immediate pressure he imparted and Rhia
could feel the force of his fingertips as if he were squeezing her bare
flesh. Something inside her nearly caused her to shudder, but whether
from unexpected pleasure or dismay, she could not tell just yet. "No
apologies are necessary, sir. Allow me to congratulate you on the
occasion of your marriage. I hope you and your wife have many years of
happiness and love, ahead of you. As a fellow Hapan, I am somewhat
surprised that she married outside of her sphere, but I am certain your
singular virtues have made you an irresistible ...catch." There
was something about the end of that phrase that nearly made the young
woman cringe on the inside. Though she spent many years in the company
of near-humans and other aliens, Rhia was still very much a xenophobe at
heart even though she refused to admit it. Getting through the Imperial
academy was hell, surrounded by males whom she was brought up to
consider inferior - and now she was serving these same males, the
majority of which were not even Hapan. It was ludicrous - but it was,
her life. "As for my upbringing, a part of me is relieved to have left
Hapes for the time being - though I do miss my family very much," she
admitted, her glance sinking to the floor. "But at least while I serve
the Empire I don't have to be subjected to a matchmaking union. And
that, in itself - is reward enough."
Rhia's words struck Claudius like a
dagger and he noticeably sunk at her utterance. His face grew cold and
his lips curled downward slightly as he withdrew within the quiet
recesses of his mind. Never before had he looked at his marriage as
something he and his wife had been 'subjected' to, but perhaps the newly
arrived Captain was profound in her words. He was quiet for several
moments, but his eyes continued to move as if his brain was processing
data at a frenzied pace. "I'm ... very sorry," he stammered, as he turned
his gaze from her and withdrew his hand. He suddenly felt as if he
needed a drink and moved towards to the other side of his desk, and
immediately crouched down. He began tossing aside various files before
he emerged with a bottle of Alderaan ruge, which he had planned to save,
but at moments like this such thoughts quickly fell by the wayside. A
moment later he pulled up two glasses and filled them both to the brim,
threatening to cause an overflow onto the nearby datapads. He walked
towards her, one glass in each hand, the brown liquid rocking back and
forth as if controlled by some great tidal motion. He extended one glass
to her, before raising his own to his lips. "To the reward of service,"
he toasted, before downing the entire contents of the glass quickly in a
manner that made it clear that he had done this many times before.
Rhiannon looked up, surprised to see a
glass of alcohol being offered to her. She shook her head slightly,
wanting to refuse. "I really shouldn't sir; I'm officially on duty as of
a few moments ago when you authorized my orders."
"As I said, Captain," Claudius said with
a smile comprised of lips stained by the drink. "We do things
differently ... and besides, I refuse to accept you being on duty as you
are out of uniform," and with that his hand extended, moving towards the
underside of the glass in order to assist her in raising it to her lips.
"As you say, sir," she muttered under
her breath as the Grand Moff 'helped' move the glass toward her lips.
Not a word mentioned that she had never had alcohol before in her life -
that could have caused her to become a further subject of his nefarious
laughter. Taking a small sip, Rhia nearly choked, swallowing deeply. The
liquid warmed and burned her throat. "If this is what you serve to
people you seem to tolerate, I hate to see what you share with your
enemies," she grinned, attempting in her own way, to crack a joke.
"Here endeth the lesson," Claudius said
to her smugly, referencing his early comments about hoping she would
learn something from their first encounter. He moved back towards his
chair, placing what was left of the bottle beneath his desk where it
would surely be needed once again. For a moment his glance scurried upon
his desk, trying to find the datapad he had last been studying. He
pretended to ignore her, but clearly she was on the forefront of his
conscious at the moment. "Dismissed," he said, with a slight stammer,
his eyes only glancing up for an instant. "...and one last thing,
Captain. Next time, wear the uniform of the day," he said with a clever
smirk that betrayed his true emotions.
Though the Grand Moff's glance was
fleeting, Rhiannon saw that the expression reflected within was deadly
serious. She stared at him for a moment, contemplating the power
emanating from the man even as he sat there, looking for a datapad
amidst a stack of others. She had no doubt he meant what he said
(smirking or not), and she believed the next time she disobeyed his
orders or fell short of expectations, his treatment of her would not be
as kind. At first, when he dismissed her, Rhia hesitated. Could not help
but wonder exactly what it was that made him change his countenance so
quickly. One moment he blew hot - then cold, the next. Unpredictable,
like the weather. She was marginally encouraged by the passing grin, but
reminded herself that he still wanted to be rid of her presence. The
audience was at an end. Whatever strides she might have made during her
tactical observations of the Ringali Nebula, his first and last
impression of her certainly obliterated all that was in between. The
last thing that rang through her ears now, was the stern warning about
wearing attire as befitting her station. She didn't flinch, even as his
words continued to sting. "Aye sir." Then promptly, she saluted and
silently left the room.