Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Liz Dorner and Christopher Levy.
Zero years before the Battle of Yavin (35:3:19) in the Essesia system: Forbearance and Warspite.
Lieutenant Allegra Ames, Captain Tiberius Anson, Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca, Vice Admiral Claudius Rodney, Countess Htaere Rodney, Lieutenant Philip Horst, Doctor Pilaq Tohan, and Major Arden Zevrin.

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 yet.

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 with.

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 hesitation. "No."

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. "No."

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 her.

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 countenance.

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 condition.

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 happened.

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 approval.

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 asked softly.

"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 me, yes?"

"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"

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 difficult time.

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 unborn child.

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