Having allowed Htaere to spend another day in the room to sit and
consider her situation, Major Zevrin returned for the final
interrogation. "I am done trying to reason with you," she warned as she
stepped aside to let the IT-3 Interrogation droid enter the room. "Soon
you will tell me everything I need to know..." she predicted, watching
as the syringe again protruded from the droid as it moved towards Htaere.
The droid swept down towards the weakened Hapan, attempting to inject
her with the serum that had been loaded into its fluid reservoir.
This time, Htaere did not so much as flinch as the needle popped
through her flesh, releasing its contents before withdrawing. Htaere
barely moved, eyes slowly shifting towards the agent. "I know nothing"
she managed, her tone barely that of a whisper.
Arden dismissed the droid and sat down on the metal plank that served
as a bed in the cold, dark cell. "Soon I will know what you know..." she
reassured her, folding her arms in front of her chest as she waited for
the truth serum to take hold. It was only a matter of time before the
woman would be spilling her secrets and she activated her recording rod
to gather the valuable evidence she believed would make her career.
Htaere was too weak to react, exhausted by the woman's continuous
false accusations. From where she sat, Htaere's eyes became fixated on
her hands, unblinking as her gaze intensified for just a moment. Slowly
her eyes closed, and immediately tears glittered from beneath her
eyelids. A terrible feeling had come over her, as she felt it, only a
little at first. Then she felt it a lot, the warm wetness as little
streams of bright crimson trickled down the legs of the chair she sat
in. With no regard for the major's opinion, she took to sobbing openly,
suddenly feeling empty as the growing form inside of her snuffed out.
Arden, unaware that the woman was pregnant, merely assumed that the
blood was a product of the torture she had been subjected to over the
past few days. "Now Milady ... we will get to know one another," she
said as a cunning grin curled onto her lips. She folded her hands in her
lap and leaned back, her eyes looking over the bloodied and battered
Hapan noble. "I have no idea what the Admiral sees in you..." she
explained, very condescendingly as she snickered slightly. "Do you love
your husband?" she asked, testing to see if the truth serum was working
Htaere's gaze did not leave her hands in her lap. She merely blinked,
one large tear managing to escape and roll down her left cheek. "Yes"
she answered quietly.
"Have you ever cheated on him?" Major Zevrin asked, laughing softly
as she studied the woman's features. There was time for a little
personal amusement before getting into the nitty-gritty details of her
investigation. After all, if she uncovered something negative of a
personal nature she would more easily be able to convince the Admiral to
sign her death warrant.
"No." Had Htaere not been too weak to react, she would have taken
great offense to the question, for even suggesting she be disloyal.
"Were you a member of the Rebel Alliance before you met Admiral
Rodney?" Arden asked, bringing up her datapad to begin taking written
notes in addition to what the recording rod was gathering. To convict an
Admiral's wife of treasure she would need more than a simple data disk.
"No." Somewhere in the back of her brain, there was one slight dimmer
of activity, as if she watched a shell of herself on display, conscious
in mind but not in body. Somewhere buried amid the "files" of the mind,
a part of her subconscious wondered why she was even suspect to begin
Arden bit at her low lip in frustration, her hand motioning towards
the transparisteel mirror. "When did you enlist in the Rebellion?" she
asked, leaning forward with the recording rod to capture her next words
very carefully. She expected to finally get somewhere with the ignorant
Hapan and a confident smile curled upon her cosmetically enhanced lips.
"Never" Htaere continued to answer obediently in a singular monotone
fashion. Her eyes were dull and staid on her hands. She had the glazed
over look of someone who was not entirely in possession of mental
faculties, someone who was under the heavy influence of some narcotic.
"Damn it," Major Zevrin cried out as she realized the serum must not
have gone into full effect yet. It was angering her to the point of
outrage and she lost the cool composure she had exhibited since the
whole affair had begun. "Who is your contact in the Alliance?" she asked
angrily, standing up as she rose to her full height in front of the
Hapan. She had no more time for this.
The door to the room entered and Lieutenant Philip Horst
entered, witnessing the outburst by his commanding officer. He grimaced
slightly, shaking her head behind her back as he crept into the room
silently. He walked up behind her, without saying a word, waiting for
the right time to speak and interrupt her.
There was no discernable reaction from Htaere, nor did her eyes raise
to the major. She simply remained motionless, barely blinking every so
often. "I have no contact with the Alliance."
Arden turned to spot the junior officer and shook her head at him
angrily. "Lieutenant ... I was told this was our best serum and had
worked on countless Rebel prisoners..." she venomously explained,
folding her arms in front of her chest as she sized up the man. "It is
not working. She is still claiming to be innocent and denying she is a
member of the Rebel Alliance," she said with a frustrated sigh, her
attention returning to the Hapan woman.
Lieutenant Horst took a step forward, swallowing nervously as he
looked over the Hapan woman carefully. "I...I do not understand,
Major..." he said nervously as he considered what had happened very
thoughtfully. "I assure you. It was the correct serum," he said with an
emphatic nod, confident that the chemical would produce the desired
reaction. "Let me test it..." he pleaded with the commander, before
turning his attention to the Hapan. "Were you a virgin on your wedding
night?" he asked, choosing a personal question that no Noblewoman would
ever answer without the use of force.
Again had Htaere been in any state of awareness, she would have more
then likely bristled at yet another such personal question. In the same
nonchalant and drugged manner, she answered without any kind of
Philip blinked slowly as he listened to the Hapan's words. He was
assuredly convinced the drug was working and turned his head to the left
slightly, considering his next words very careful. "Perhaps you are
using the wrong syntax, Major..." he speculated as he brought his right
hand up to his chin, rubbing it slightly. "Are you a member of the Rebel
Alliance?" he asked the Hapan, speaking very slowly and clearly.
Arden took a step closer towards Htaere, rudely pushing the junior
officer out of her way. Her face was red and she was filled with a rage
she rarely permitted others around her to see. "Are you a member of the
Rebellion?" she asked, screaming right in her face at the top of her
lungs. Spittle flew from her mouth as she angrily questioned the Hapan.
Htaere did not bat an eyelash, or flinch as saliva smacked her in the
face. Her eyes still stayed fixated on her lap, unwavering in demeanor.
Lieutenant Horst's face lost all of its color as his head fell
dejectedly. He knew instantly what had happened and he felt the fluids
in his stomach begin to churn violently. "Oh no..." he said as he moved
towards one of the chairs to sit down and regain his composure. The
officer knew instantly he was going to soon be executed, and he plotted
retreating to his quarters to commit suicide.
"I do not understand..." Arden said quietly as she took several steps
away from the Hapan. She shook her head dejectedly as she moved back to
the table and braced herself against it. "If the drug is working why is
she not admitting her complicity?" she asked, her hand moving to run
through the long blonde strands of hair in her head. It just did not
make any sense to her.
Horst swallowed, his Adam's apple bobbing awkwardly against the
collar of his tunic as he looked down at the floor. "...because she is
not a member of the Alliance," he explained quietly, wondering if Zevrin
would execute him for his statement. "The drug is sound, Major. She is a
naive, innocent with a simple mind..." he reasoned as his head lifted to
look over towards the Hapan. "If she were a member of the Alliance she
would have admitted so instantly," he concluded as he pondered getting
his will in order.
"But the disk..." Arden said as she pulled it out of the pouch of her
utility belt. In her mind, it sealed Htaere's guilt. She spun on her
feet and moved to Htaere, waving the disk violently in front of her
face. "Why did you access this information?" she asked, her voice
sounding tired and exasperated.
"I have accessed nothing regarding Imperial relations" came the droll
even answer, an "autopilot" of sorts having commandeered her answers for
Philip Horst rose from his seat quickly, in a complete state of panic
as he considered the situation before him. "Major..." he began, a thin
layer of sweat beginning to cover his face. His heart was pounding in
his chest, believing he was out of options now. His mouth was growing
dry and he was finding it increasingly difficult to speak. "...she is
relatively unharmed. Let us clean her up. Treat what wounds she does
have..." he stammered, explaining in a hurried, almost frantic tone as
he moved towards her. "Perhaps if you return her immediately we can
explain about the disk and save our lives..." he said desperately,
gasping for air now as he felt the walls closing in on him.
"I do not understand..." Arden said quietly as she slipped the
datadisk back into her utility belt. She lowered her head and sunk into
herself as the realization hit home. Someone must have set her up ...
there had to be a larger force at work against her. Without saying a
word, she moved forward, slowly moving from the room to find a quiet
place for her to lay down and arrange her affairs before the execution
that was soon to follow.
Lieutenant Horst stood there for a moment before pulling his
comlink from his utility belt and speaking into it softly. "Medical team
to the interrogation chamber..." he said quietly, moving to sit down
next to the Hapan woman. He placed his hand upon hers and squeezed it
reassuringly. He did not care about her, or her situation, but he
foolishly hoped being kind to her now would earn him a reprieve when she
was returned to the Admiral.
Her battered and bruised face still stoic and devoid of any voluntary
thought or emotion, the glimmer in her mind registered a sense of
relief. The young man's approach and act of reassurance, as artificial
as it may have been, all went largely unnoticed.
A medical droid came into the room and begin to review Htaere's
wounds, and noted the unfortunately occurrence of the miscarriage.
Together with Horst, they hoisted her onto the metal slab in an attempt
to make her more comfortable. The droid first injected a painkiller into
her system, and then begin to treat her wounds. An ointment was treated
to the burn and the marks where the electrodes shocked her. The droid
was also careful to stitch where the droid had cut into her. Nothing,
however, could be done for the psychological trauma of the miscarriage.
The painkillers were immediate in their effect, and it was the first
relief Htaere had felt in days. With one wound after another
disappearing from the radar of her sensations, the youngster's body
began to relax, uncoiling three days worth of affliction and suffering.
The rest of her surroundings melting away, Htaere's eyelids sunk slowly,
the ultimate exhaustion engulfing her easily in such a relaxed state.
The blood stained clothes were cut from Htaere's body and sonic
energy was dispersed from the droid to clean her bloodied and soiled
flesh. As the droid worked over her, a serving droid entered carrying
some simple foodstuffs and already prepared tea. A clean ISB uniform was
laid out for her so that she could change. They had done the best they
could to make her comfortable, feed her, and make her presentable.
Lieutenant Horst draped a cloth blanket over the unconscious Hapan's
body, making sure the young woman was well cared for. The ship was en
route to regroup with the rest of the fleet and the young officer had no
idea what his commander was going to say. Htaere looked presentable at
least, but the mental damage was perhaps irreparable.
"Ugh," Claudius groaned as he looked up at the light hovering above
him. He felt disoriented and his head felt as if he was suffering from a
hangover. It was a powerful sedative Doctor Tohan had injected him with
and he found it difficult to focus at first. He was outraged that his
old friend had resorted to such an unscrupulous tactic to calm him, but
his concern for Htaere was foremost on his mind. As he sat up in the
bed, he instantly realized he had been transferred to the Warspite.
"Pilaq!" he cried out as he swung his feet over the side of the bed and
attempted to stand.
Doctor Tohan hurried to Claudius' bedside from where he had been
checking on Major Kiley's progress in the bacta tank. "Can you sit still
for more than a moment?" he asked the Admiral, his patience growing
thin. "You are by far my worst patient..." he explained to the man
half-joking and half-serious He came up behind him, doing what he could
to help him stand. "Please. Go back to bed..." he pleased with him as he
tried to push him back down.
"I am fine, Doctor," Claudius said in a less friendly, more official
tone as he resisted his efforts to put him back in bed. Indeed, he did
feel quite rested having gotten a good night's sleep using the doctor's
sedative. "Is there any word about Htaere?" he asked as he walked about
the medical facility in nothing but his underwear. He shuddered as the
cold got to him, his bare feet causing a deathly cold chill to run up
his entire body.
Doctor Tohan came up behind him and quickly through a hospital
blanket over his shoulders, wrapping it around him as if it were a cape.
The venerable Ithorian physician sighed as he considered the reckless
nature of his friend of so many names. Despite his education and
experience, the women in his life always seemed to turn his mind to
jelly. Now was not the time to address it, however, and all he could do
was extend one of his hands to his back, offering what support and
reassurance he could.
Claudius swallowed slowly as he saw Kerrie floating in the bacta
tank. Doctor Tohan was dissatisfied with the bacta patches the medics
had applied and had chose to completely submerge her in the tank. He
reached his right hand up and pressed it against the tank, staring at
her as he watched her bob up and down like an aquatic life form. He
turned to ask Pilaq about her condition, but before he could continue he
heard the comm panel on the wall beep urgently.
The voice of Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca broke through on the comm
panel, her foreign, icy voice interrupting their conversation. "Doctor
Tohan," the woman spoke in a hurried tone that broke her professionalism
in a manner most were unfamiliar with. "...please alert the Admiral that
Lady Htaere has been located and will soon be aboard the Warspite,"
her voice excitedly continued. She provided no additional details, but
she, like the majority of the vessel's crew, were relieved that the
tragedy might have a happier ending than first feared.
Claudius' face lit up with a wide smile as he pushed past Doctor Tohan and moved
to the storage closet where his uniform had been hung up. "Did you hear that,
Pilaq?" he said as he fumbled to get the complicate grey uniform onto his aging
frame. "Prepare the medical facilities in case she has been injured..." he ordered
as he hurried out the door, putting the finishing touches on his uniform. His
belt was unbuckled and hanging at his waist as he exited the medical bay and the
turbolift, fumbling to buckle it as he stepped inside to move towards the flight
deck. He had no idea where Htaere had been, what had happened, or who had
recovered her. Soon, he hoped, these questions would be answered.
Major Arden Zevrin stood on the bridge of Forbearance as it
arrived in the Essesia system. She swallowed as she looked through the
viewport, noting that the Warspite was already in orbit. She
could easily detect an unusual amount of Imperial naval activity and
believed she had stirred up quite the mess. "Contact the Warspite,"
she said to the vessel's co-pilot tiredly. "Tell them we wish to come
aboard..." her head sunk down, chin connecting with her chest as she
considered her fate. Surely she would be executed on the spot unless she
could think of something quickly.
As the Forbearance maneuvered itself inside the massive hangar
bay of the Warspite, Lieutenant Philip Horst set silently
in the corner of Htaere's room. The junior officer had been doing his
best to attend to whatever needs the Hapan noblewoman had, but
unfortunately he had little opportunity to take advantage of the
situation as the woman remained virtually unconscious the entire time.
In order to avoid returning the Admiral's wife to him naked, Horst had
carefully dressed her in the only fresh clothing they had available ...
the cream and black uniform of the Imperial Security Bureau. As he felt
the Forbearance touch down inside of the hangar bay he felt a bit
dizzy. This was not going to end well.
Htaere had said nothing proceeding the interrogation. There was
nothing left to say. At long last her protests of innocence were being
substantiated, and broken as she was after the grueling episode, she was
unclear as to her fate. Physically and mentally, she bore no resemblance
to the young woman brought on board. She simply sat on one side of the
sleeping pallet, curled up in the corner, unable to so much as look at
the major's assistant. Somewhere inside of her, she still could not
fathom what had transpired in this room over the last few days, unable
to comprehend how one person could treat others so horribly, or how
others could simply stand by and watch as if spectators at a sporting
event. One life had been taken here, at least this week. The food they
were suddenly catering to her day in and out all went untouched.
"It is time, Milady," Philip said nervously as he moved closer towards
her. "Can you walk or do you require assistance?" he asked as his eyes
descended down over her body, wondering if they had done more damage
than he realized. His eyes fluttered nervously and he could sense the
crowd that was gathering outside of the ship, causing his heart to beat
rapidly and his breathing to become more labored.
Drawing in a deep breath, possibly one of relief, Htaere let her bare
feet lower to the ground, drawing herself up slowly, left hand
momentarily pressing against the wall for stability. Her languid face
turned towards him, dormant gaze shifting to the young man, who by the
looks of him was similar in age to she. She waited for him to provide an
exit from the room, to wherever they were going.
Horst offered his right arm to Htaere so that she would have
something to lean against, and then he began leading her from the room
through the corridors of the small light cruiser. At the ramp he spotted
Major Arden Zevrin and gave her a crisp nod of his head. His eyes
trailed down, realizing the woman's feet were bare and a concerned look
came upon his face. He had not considered that, realizing that she would
not wear the uniform boots on such delicate feet. Too late now, however,
and he began to move forward towards the ramp.
Major Arden Zevrin took a deep breath, focusing herself as she began
to descend the ramp, closely followed by Lieutenant Horst and the Lady
Htaere. The woman adjusted her uniform one last time as she stepped down
onto the hangar bay, her eyes immediately spotting Admiral Rodney and
his entourage. "Milord," she said in a calm, focused demeanor as she
looked over the older man. "I apologize for the temporary inconvenience
this has had on your family..." she began as her eyes shifted to the
left, inventing some sort of story she could tell her superior. "...but
the Lady Htaere was implicated in a plot against the Empire. After a
standard interrogation we were able to learn that she was not part of
the plot and we are proud to return her to you ... unharmed," she
concluded, offering a gentle nod of her head as she stepped aside to
allow room for Horst to escort Htaere.
As she emerged at the top of the ramp, Htaere felt nothing shy of
complete relief wash over her as she recognized one of the hanger bays
of the Warspite. For the first time, her eyes lifted in search of
Claudius, widening a little, not exactly bright, but hopeful in her
Claudius was filled with rage at the insolence of the ISB commander,
and he balled his right hand into a fist as he prepared to backhand her
across the face. He stopped, however, when he saw Htaere descending the
ramp. A relieved smile came upon his face when he saw her and pushed the
ISB Lieutenant aside, offering her the support of his arm
instead. His face moved towards her, pressing a kiss upon her forehead
quickly. "Are you all right, Htaere?" he asked her as he looked her
over. When he noticed her bare feet he reached down and lifted her up
into his arms, cradling her as if she were a child. He would not allow
her to walk barefoot upon his ship.
Htaere was ecstatic inwardly, but outwardly she could hardly muster
even a false sense of glee. She winced as he lifted her, inhaling
sharply as he unknowingly brushed any number of bruises, cuts and burns.
His question was one she could not answer. Trying hard not to make a
scene, she buried her face in the front of his shoulder and bawled,
gripping the man tightly with white knuckles.
Claudius carried Htaere towards the turbolift, stopping to flash an
enraged glare at Major Zevrin. There would be time to deal with her in
the future, but for now getting Htaere treatment was his primary
responsibility. "Captain Anson," he said in an angered tone, that he
kept quiet for the sake of his beloved wife. "Detain the Major and
impound her vessel," he ordered as he briskly strode across the flight
deck with Htaere cradled in his arms. Although she was light, it was
difficult for him to carry such a load over such a distance. It took
most of his energy, but he managed to get her inside of the turbolift.
Captain Anson turned slowly towards Major Zevrin, a stern look coming
over his rough Corellian visage. "Your presence is requested aboard this
vessel ... for the time being," he explained to her as a pair of
Imperial Stormtroopers stepped up behind her. With a nod of his head, he
flourished his right arm as he motioned it towards another bank of
turbolifts. He would take no joy in placing one of the most deadly women
in the region in one of his brigs.
Major Zevrin swallowed, and considering pulling her blaster and
making a run for it. She could feel the Stormtroopers all around her and
knew she would never make it. She flashed a quick glance over towards
Lieutenant Horst before reluctantly following the Captain and
the Stormtroopers towards the brig. She feared she would never make it
off of the Warspite alive.
In the privacy of the lift, Htaere relaxed, at least a little. Her
breathing steadied from the near hysterical weeping she had kept
confined to poor Claudius' tunic. She could not bear the thought of
telling him. For now, it was perhaps safely on the back burner.
"It is all right, Htaere," Claudius said to her reassuringly, turning
her head to place a gentle kiss upon her once again. "You are home safe.
All will soon be well," he promised her, ignorant as to the extent of
her injuries. As the turbolift doors opened they arrived at the level of
the medical bay and he walked forward into the expansive facility. He
nodded to Doctor Tohan and lay his wife on one of the beds. Offering her
hand, he stepped aside and waited for the Doctor to evaluate her
Doctor Tohan hurried over to the woman, the medical droids and
scanners immediately beginning to fret over the Hapan. He could almost
instantly detect the nature of the damage ... electrocution, burning,
and even cutting. He shook his head in dismay but did not share any of
the information with Claudius for fear of his response. At first it
seemed to be relatively minor and he instructed the droids to begin
treating the wounds and bruises, but when he scanned the vitals of the
child ... his heart stopped. His large, orange eyes widened and he took
a step back, unable to come to terms with the fact he was no longer
detecting the unborn child within her.
Looking up towards the Ithorian physician with blurry vision, Htaere
could tell what he was finding as the droids began working on her. She
did not move to begin disrobing, as many wounds were safely concealed,
instead yielding for the doctor's instruction. Her eyes closed as she
remained still, letting the soft whir of all the droids' servomotors
provide a gentle and soothing background noise.
There was very little the droids were required to do in order to
soothe Htaere's wounds. Claudius looked over her nervously, noting that
the Imperial uniform did not seem to flatter the young woman's physique.
It was much too large for a woman of her short stature and he did his
best to adjust it in an attempt to make her look more presentable. When
he got to the cuff of her sleeve he cringed, when he noticed she no
longer wore his wedding ring. He gasped as his hand moved over hers,
spotting the discoloration on her finger where it once was. "...where is
your jewelry?" he asked weakly, as his eyes slowly moved to look at her
face once again.
Glistening grey pools flickered open, moving up to Claudius' face.
"They took it" she answered quietly, averting her eyes after mere
moments, still unable to look him in the eye, ashamed of what had
Claudius groaned angrily, clenching his jaw as he turned his head
away from Htaere angrily. Stepping aside for a moment he moved to the
communications panel on the wall. Activating the panel, he spoke into it
in a hushed, but clearly irritated tone. "Search the ISB operations
ship. Find my wife's belongings," he ordered, looking over his shoulder
nervously at Htaere.
Doctor Tohan took the opportunity to step forward and extended his
large hand to rub the top of her head softly. "I am sorry, Milady..." he
said quietly, referring of course to the miscarriage. His eyes rolled
over towards Claudius, and then swiftly his head descended towards the
woman. "Do not tell him, Milady..." he pleaded with her as his hand
continued to gently rub her forehead. He was careful to speak in a
quiet, gentle way that would not alert the Admiral.
Htaere looked to the Pilaq Tohan solemnly, struggling to sit up right
on the exam table. She nodded subtly, as she locked eyes with him for a
moment before looking down to the floor. "What do I do?" she asked in
response, her voice barely that of a whisper.
"Do nothing for now. Recover your strength," Doctor Tohan said with a
soft nod as he looked her over carefully. The droids had completed their
scans and the Ithorian doctor carefully studied the report, finding that
she had subjected to inhuman conditions during her absence. The tactics
they had used on her were despicable, particularly given her pregnancy.
He shook his head wondering how people this cruel could get to positions
of that much importance within the Empire.
Claudius moved away from the control panel, moving back towards
Htaere and the Doctor. The man looked more well-rested than normal,
having been forcibly sedated by his doctor. He took a seat next in a
chair next to Htaere's bed and reached out with his hand, grasping her
hand and squeezing it reassuringly. "It will all be over soon, my
love..." he reassured her, as he did his best to remain at her side.
Htaere bit her lower lip stifling another silly flow of tears,
something that had been happening a lot lately. "They...they killed
Kerrie" she struggled to get the words out, finally having the time to
mourn the loss of her friend.
"No!" Claudius said as he gave her hand another comforting squeeze.
"She is still alive," he assured her as he did his best to calm her
nerves. "Would you like anything to eat? To drink?" he asked as he felt
virtually helpless in the situation. He had failed to protect her, and
it seemed there was very little he could do to aide in her recovery.
Htaere perked noticeably. "She is?" she asked eagerly, blinking
curiously. She shook her head at the offer. "I...would like to take a
shower and lay down for a while" she conceded, glancing to Tohan for
Doctor Tohan nodded his head to the woman as he signaled for one of
the droids to begin moving the temporary bed moved towards one of the
private suites. The room was well-appointed with private medical
readouts and her own refresher. As they arrived in the room, the droid
offered to support Htaere into the more comfortable bed. "Claudius," he
said in his authoritative voice. As medical officer he outranked even
the Admiral in matters such as this. "You must give her time to rest..."
he explained as he pushed him out of the room.
"I will remain close, my love..." Claudius said to Htaere as the
Ithorian forced him from the room. He lowered his head sadly as the door
sealed between them, but understood it would take a great deal of time
for the woman to return to normal. He let out a tired sigh and returned
his focus to punishing those who had done this to her, still irate that
she had been stripped of her clothing and her jewelry.
Several hours had passed during which Claudius had been barred access
from seeing his wife. He paced nervously in the medical facility, much
to the dismay of Doctor Tohan who was attempting to treat other
patients. "When can I go back in?" he asked, for the 43rd time, not
understanding why a husband could not be allowed to see his wife.
The turbolift door opened to reveal Lieutenant Allegra Ames who
clutched a small box in her left hand, her complexion pale and looking
very much the antithesis of her confident self. She stepped forward, her
footsteps sounding light as she attempted to approach without being
noticed. She had hoped that she could simply drop off the items and
retreat without the Admiral paying too much attention to her. "Milord,"
she said quietly as she placed the box down upon the table in front of
him. In it contained Htaere's jewelry, blood-stained despite her best
efforts to clean it. Accomplishing her delivery, she turned on her heels
and proceeded swiftly back towards the turbolift.
"Hmm..." Claudius mumbled, having forgotten his earlier order to
recover Htaere's jewelry. He opened the box and looked down inside of
it, at first smiling when he realized her wedding ring and other jewelry
had been recovered. As he reached down and plucked out the ring, but as
he examined it more carefully he began to frown. It was still covered in
Htaere's blood and his face began to flush red with a rage. Choosing to
let Allegra escape, he pushed past the medical droid and entered
Htaere's suite once again.
Htaere had since taken a long hot shower, and been offered a
comfortable camisole and pair of long sleeping pajama pants. She lay
comfortably tucked in to the hospital bed, laying on her side, eyes
blinking towards the small viewport, affording a small glimpse of the
galaxy that lay beyond. The sutures in her arm were cleaned and
bandaged, as were most of the burns after her shower. A few IV bags hung
on either side of her bed on tall stands, replenishing most of the fluid
she'd lost over the course of the last few days. Her thoughts replayed
pieces and fragments over and over again, unsure of what to make of it,
unsure of what to say regarding her capture, unsure of what Claudius
would do if he knew the kind of flagrant treachery that the major had
spoken regarding him.
Claudius stepped into the room and froze when he saw Htaere laying
there. He had rushed in with such enthusiasm, but now found it difficult
to move even a step forward. It felt as if his feet were encased in
duracrete. He swallowed, looking down at the ground as a tear formed in
the corner of his left eye. He could only imagine what had happened
during their absence. He had heard stories about Major Zevrin and the
ISB, but he had always chose not to believe them. He stepped forward and
cleared his throat so that Htaere would realize she was no longer alone
in the room.
Pulled from her silent revelry, Htaere turned a bit, rolling onto her
back, to look over towards the door, the corners of her lips lifting
slightly in the first smile that had appeared in days, albeit a faint
one. "Claudius" she commented, her voice still a little raspy. She
pushed herself up a bit, grateful to be home and in familiar company.
Claudius took a step forward towards Htaere and did his best to force
a smile onto his face, despite the deep sense of worry he felt for her.
His hand trembled as it extended towards her, offering up the wedding
ring. "I thought you might want ths..." he said as he turned his head
away from her, not sure what her reaction would be. "Allegra ... tried
to clean it..." he stammered as he fought back the tears, wanting to be
strong for her.
Htaere's eyes dropped to the ring, smiling gratefully and procuring
it from his hand, sliding it gently back to its usual place on her left
ring finger. "Thank you" she answered quietly. She simply watched him
struggle emotionally, wondering exactly what he knew, and what was the
right course of action regarding information he needed to know.
Claudius breathed in deeply, struggling to fight back the tears to
prevent his emotions from causing Htaere any grief. This was about her,
not him and he needed to keep that in the forefront of his thoughts if
they were going to get through this ordeal. "Do you need anything?" he
asked her as he moved to look out the viewport, wiping away his tears
while his back was turned to her.
Htaere pushed the blankets and bed sheets off of her, pulling her
legs, from beneath them and turning to let them dangle over the side of
the bed. She allowed her bare feet to drop down onto the cold floor
tiles of the room, as she took a few steps towards him. She stopped
short as the IV lines pulled taught, not allowing her any further.
Initially frustrated by it, she let it go, not the time or place to get
worked up regarding something so trivial.
After regaining his composure, he turned to look at Htaere as she
struggled to near him. He moved closer towards her, eliminating the
distance between them. His arms moved forward as he wrapped her in a
tender embrace, leading her back towards the bed. "You really must rest,
my dear..." he whispered softly in her ear as he held her against him,
not wanting to let her go. His head lowered slightly, his lips pressing
against her forehead in a tender, loving kiss.
Welcoming the tender moment, the much younger girl nuzzled him
softly. There had been a time towards the end of her capture where she
started to believe she would not see him ever again. "Claudius?" she
"Yes, Htaere?" Claudius responded as they arrived at the bed. He
helped her get back into it carefully, and then he joined her on it by
sitting down next to her. He did his best to cover her with the sheet as
he never quite got used to how cold it felt in space, even after how
long he had spent aboard the vessels over the length of his career.
She reluctantly went along with being ushered back to bed. She
blinked at him for a while, debating this internally and still unable to
answer her own question. "I was accused of accessing some information. I
do not know what they were talking about" she said quietly. "You believe
"Of course I believe you, my love!" Cladius told her reassuringly,
though truthfully he would have believed her regardless of what evidence
was presented to him. He had been blinded by his love for her and lost
what sense of reason he had left. "All of that can wait," he explained
to her as his hand moved down over her stomach, resting on top of it as
he felt secure knowing he had both of them back.
The action caught her completely off guard, and the very breath
locked in her throat. Her face paled to a ghastly white as the blood
drained from it. She regarded Tohan's words carefully, and yet feeling
horrible about it. As if out of nowhere, Htaere crumbled under the
pressure, breaking down again in a broken-hearted sob. She owed it to
her husband. "Claudius..." she whimpered softly.
Claudius pulled back slightly, not expecting the reaction she was
giving him. He watched the tears from her eyes and grew gravely
concerned, both of his arms wrapping around her. "What is it Htaere?"
What is wrong?" he asked frantically as he shifted closer towards her,
wondering what horrors she had been subjected to during her time away.
Htaere's weeping did not let up, initially. Finally she was able to
control herself to at least get a few words out, albeit between
heart-wrenching sobs. "Claudius...I am...so...sorry..."
Claudius did not understand her meaning and therefore could only
offer her his reassuring love. He leaned forward, pressing his lips
against her right tear-stained cheek as he stayed close to her. "Htaere
... you have nothing to be sorry for..." he told her in a calm and
collected tone, attempting to his best to calm her nerves during this
She shook her head, fingertips brushing away more of the hot
salty tears. "In the interrogation...I...I lost...the baby" she said,
burying her face in her hands, recalling the moment it had happened,
that horrible woman sitting across the table and questioning her loyalty
to her husband as if to dump salt in gaping wounds.
Claudius' froze as he listened to the words escaping Htaere's lips,
initially not wanting to believe them. His mouth hung open and a soft
whistle escape his mouth as he simple sat there, completely floored by
her simple words. "Htaere...No..." was all he could muster as all of the
color and vibrancy left his face, replaced with a pale shade of white as
an utter state of panic overcame the old man. Cold beads of sweat began
to form upon his face and his lips curled downward into an unbearable
frown. It was the worst news he had ever received. More painful than
even that of the death of his first wife.
Htaere's eyes downcast, she shook her head slowly, repeating her
apology over and over. Knowing the toll it would take on him, he still
deserved to know, and she had no right to keep it from him.
He could not halt the tears as they came this time, but rather than
rush to vengeance against Major Zevrin, he chose to remain by his wife's
side. "You have nothing to be sorry for my dear..." he told her
apologetically between desperate gasps for air. He lay down on the bed
beside her and remained quiet, pulling her down against him. He closed
his eyes and tried to rest, choosing to let it wait until they were both
stronger and more composed. A sweet kiss was placed upon his wife's
forehead, his arms holding her as tight as the shuttle's safety harness.
Htaere eagerly took the chance to push herself close to him, feeling
not so alone as she struggled with the loss, now. She would apologize to
Doctor Tohan and offer her gratitude for his concern, but felt she had
made the right choice. Her arms wrapped around him, she felt warm
against the full length of him, eyes closing as she tried to settle
herself once more, comforted by his mere presence.
As Claudius fell asleep in Htaere's arms he felt the Star Destroyer
make the jump to lightspeed. They would be back on Brentaal IV soon and
there were serious matters to address, but for now all the tired, old
man could think about was how empty he felt inside at the loss of his