Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:6:17) in the Essesia system: Esseles (The Void), Kwai, and Retributor.
Trooper Kaiya Crion, El-Nay Darr, Commander Kerrie Kiley, Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, Major Sierra Rodney, Captain Thaddeus Updike, and Colonel Arden Zevrin.

As soon as the Sonthi had touched down within the Void Commander Kerrie Kiley rose from the cockpit and marched swiftly down the ramp into the structure. Her carefully mimicked blue eyes scanned across the hangar until she spied Captain Updike and Trooper Crion. She had a momentary burst of anger, as she moved at her top speed towards the couple. "Updike, Crion ... what was the meaning of your actions on Chandrila?!" she asked, as her head swiveled between Updike and Crion in rapid succession. "You were assigned a specific target. A *Rebel* target. The family of Squibs you ... you ... you..." she began, but started stuttering instead of making her point. "You were out of line. You are both confined to quarters as of now. I will bring court martial charges against you, and if you're lucky you'll only be sent to the spice mines of Kessel instead of disintegrated," she explained, as her cheeks flushed red with anger. There was spittle flying out of her mouth as she spoke, unable to contain herself at this point. "You have dishonored the unit. You have dishonored the corps. We eliminated Rebels. We do not slaughter innocents!" she yelled, completing her dressing down of the duo, before pointing towards the lift, instructing them to get out of her sight.

Captain Thaddeus Updike knew this was coming ever since he spotted the dead Squibs on Chandrila. While he personally would not have done it, he would not turn his back on Kaiya now. "Commander, Trooper Crion eliminated Rebel collaborators," he said, in a calm tone, as he attempted to reframe the events of the past day. "They were staying with a known Rebel. That made them collaborators," he continued, not raising his voice to meet the Commander's anger. He could only hope that Kaiya would do the same. "In light of Colonel Zevrin and COMPNOR's policy against non-Humans I believe we carried out our mission ... *successfully*," he fired back, holding his ground. When he was finished, he began moving towards the lift, attempting to lead Kaiya with him. He planned to go over Kiley's head and report to Colonel Zevrin directly. Perhaps this was finally his chance to rid himself of the Commander.

The ride back to the Void had been unpleasant. No sooner had Kaiya Crion come down from bloodlust did she begin to realize the extent of her actions and what might happen because of Commander Kiley. Her ears hung low. She had apologized to Thaddy roughly a million times. She intended to take all the blame. He had tried to stop her, but her instincts wouldn't allow for it. Kaiya puffed herself up once more when they reached the Void. The annoying Clawdite would, undoubtedly, be waiting for her. No sooner had they arrived were they pounced by her. Kaiya's eyes shifted to the small woman. She hissed. Her claws instinctively began to come out of her paws. She would *not* be sent to her room by a washed up desk jockey like Kerrie.

Thaddeus was much better at handling these situations than she was. She slunk down beside her Captain and let him explain things. It gave her a chance to get in front of her temper. Kaiya had made one mistake today. Two would be two too many. She turned around, purposely flicking her tail in the Commander's direction. When they were in the lift, Kaiya began to breathe properly again. Thaddy had decided not to abandon her after the mishap. She didn't know what to say, so she softly rubbed her head against his arm to show her appreciation. "I love you, Thaddy. I promise I won't do it again...I'm sorry..." Her eyes fell. Instead of celebrating a victory, they were headed to report to Colonel Zevrin in hopes that she would disregard Commander Kiley entirely.

When the turbolift door closed and it was just him and Kaiya, Thaddeus let out a loud scream that came from deep within. "Damn that woman," he said to Kaiya, as he tried to calm himself down before the lift reached the barracks. "I love you too, Kaiya. You have nothing to apologize for. You did nothing wrong," he said, just as the turbolift came to a halt and the door opened. "Colonel Zevrin won't let Kiley's orders stand. They hate each other," he explained to her, not that was one to go for gossip. When they entered his quarters he was quick to see the door sealed behind him. Then he moved to his HoloNet transceiver where he transmitted a message to Colonel Zevrin. "Colonel, this is Captain Updike at the Void," he began, reporting in to Kiley's superior. He was not the kind of officer who would breach protocol and go over her head, but in this case he felt he had no chance. "We performed your execution of Assemblyman Amelia on Chandrila, but Commander Kiley is displeased because a family of Squibs the assemblyman was harboring were killed as a result of collateral damage," he continued, reporting *some*, but certainly not *all*, of the pertinent details. "The Commander seeks to bring charges against me and my Trooper. I wanted you to know, because I am certain that a fine servant of His Majesty like you would not mourn the loss of a few Squibs," he said, with a bit of disgusting in his voice. When he finished, his eyes moved towards Kaiya with a smile and a nod. He was certain they would be helped.

Commander Kiley had been stopping Thaddeus from a promotion for too long. Kaiya hated seeing the woman every single day. Kerrie was a pathetic alien. She thought, perhaps, that this could be the chance for them to get ahead. Thaddy seemed confident too, so she let herself relax. Inside his quarters, she sat down and fiddled with her fur. She was unhappy that Thaddy had to go so far to protect her. She listened to him recount the events of the day to Colonel Zevrin, a known alien-hater. Thaddy was right. His Majesty himself wouldn't condemn Kaiya's actions. She had been a loyal commando for far too long for a minor slip to end her. Her amber, cat-like eyes met with her Captain's. She smiled back at him. She was touched that he was doing all this for her, for *them*. She happily would have taken the fall by herself. Her smile shrunk rapidly and her nose began to twitch. "Ohnoes." Kaiya whined. "I smell... I smell..." She needed to be sure. She took a deep inhale, then gasped. "...The Grand Moff."

Grand Moff Claudius Rodney had pressed his wife to fly faster than she had ever flown before. The shuttle Kwai had closed the distance between the Rodney estate in New Calamar to the Void in the northern mountains in record speed. There was not much to be said during the flight, but when they finally arrived he was quick to raise from his seat and move towards the ramp. "Come on. Come on," he said, impatiently, as he tapped foot waiting for the ramp to descend. He began marching down the ramp before it had even finished lowering, and his eyes immediately scanned across the hangar where he saw Stormcommandos, mercenaries, and ships of every kind. He had ignored what was transpiring here for far too long. "Commander Kiley, front and center," he barked, as he folded his hands behind his back and puffed up his chest.

Major Sierra Rodney was glad that they hadn't opted to take El-Nay's ship, for it never would have survived through the speeds they traveled at to rapidly reach the Void. It had been some time since Sierra had been here. Her secret training with Kerrie and El-Nay had brought her to the Void on several occasions. The Kwai's engines had not even finished powering down as Sierra unbuckled herself and stood. She passed El-Nay a look of worry. The Void was a land of enemies. Crion was one of the commandos responsible for Melickielickie's family's death. Crion was the one who had almost killed her. Sierra didn't need to be reminded of her strength. Still, she met up with the Grand Moff once he had already called for Kerrie. She stood beside him. "Commander Kiley, have Captain Updike and Trooper Crion arrived?" Sierra asked firmly. If they had decided to run, then it would be harder to capture them and make them pay. She kept the image of a bloody Squib child in the front of her mind. She wasn't going to let Melickielickie's family have no justice. The poor mother Squib had just been trying to survive with all of her children. Her stomach twisted.

Commander Kiley panicked when she saw the Governor's shuttle arrive. She moved to adjust her black uniform quickly, to ensure everything was perfect and ready for inspection. When he summoned her she closed the distance between them in a steady march, and when she neared him, she dropped to one knee and obediently bowed her head to him. "Milord, you honor us with your presence," she informed him, in a quiet and submissive tone. When she was further questioned by Sierra, she briefly lifted her head to look at the woman. "Yes, milady. I read them the riot act, confined them to quarters, and have filed charges against them," she explained, quickly, to hope to avoid to move any of the Governor's wrath off of her. She swallowed nervously, uncertain of what was to come next.

El-Nay Darr moved down the ramp behind Claudius and Sierra cautiously. It had been a while since she had set foot in the Void, but she thought her return somewhat triumphant as she had left alone and returned in the company of the Grand Moff. When she saw Kerrie hurry over and humiliate herself, she could not helt but roll her eyes beneath her orange helmet. She hated seeing her ori'vod behave in such a way, particularly when she knew her as such a fearsome hunter and ruthless assassin before she entered into this servitude. Part of her hoped that Updike and Crion would put up a fight and she would be able to take revenge upon them in a physical manner. However, as she scanned the hangar she saw neither hide nor hare of them.

There were only two people in the Void who they *really* wanted: Kaiya Crion and Thaddeus Updike. They were about to pay for more than just the crimes they had committed today. Their crimes began decades ago on Skor II. Sierra didn't think about how awkward it might be for El-Nay to return here. All she was thinking about was making people pay. It all started with Updike and Crion. "Bring them to us." Sierra stated. At this point, they would feel fortunate if they were only sent to the spice mines. If the commandos were left to roam, then there would be more innocent killed and children orphaned. Melickielickie was still so terrified that she barely spoke.

Inside of Thaddeus' quarters, Kaiya realized that they were in trouble. The Grand Moff was there, as was his wife, and El-Nay. She could smell the young Squib on the Grand Moff's wife. She understood what had happened. Kaiya had failed to kill the whole family. Stupid Kerrie took the Squib to Sierra and from there...well, the Grand Moff found out. There was nowhere to run. She was scared Zevrin wouldn't be able to save them now. She pawed her Captain. "Thaddy, you gotta let me take the fall. I wasn't listening to you, 'member? I'll figure it out. I can take it." The joys of killing Squibs was not worth all of this.

"You worry about the wrong things, Kaiya," Thaddeus informed her, confidently, as he rose to his feet and adjusted his armor. "The Governor is a mere puppet for Colonel Zevrin. He is thoroughly emasculated. He's a tool in a uniform that the ISB uses to put a pleasant face on a cruel war," he informed her, before moving to place the black helmet upon his head. "Admit nothing," he ordered her, before moving from his quarters, leading her down the corridor towards the lift that would return them to the hangar. "You will see, Kaiya. Colonel Zevrin will put them in their place," he told her, smiling confidently beneath his helmet as the lift doors closed on them.

Claudius looked down at Kerrie with no patience whatsoever. "Summon them. At once," he demanded, as he moved his hands in front of his body, sternly folding his arms in front of his chest. "For all the individuals that have been falsely condemned in my name ... let these two be rightfully condemned by me," he said to everyone in attendance, as he began to pace about. "You there ... *girl* ... is this what they had you do?" he asked, angrily, as he looked toward the uncharacteristically quiet Mandalorian skulking behind his wife. However, before he could answer the lift opened and Updike and Crion were revealed to him. It was only then that he put two and two together and realized it was the same Cathar who injured his wife during the Battle of Delaya. Now he was doubly inflamed.

Kaiya found the politics of the office to be boring. She preferred to be straight-forward with the way she annihilated her enemies. However, it was trickery that had sent El-Nay away. Trickery may have been necessary to rid herself of the Clawdite as well. The turbolift crept towards fate. She intended on keeping her mouth shut in front of the Grand Moff. Colonel Zevrin was already aware of what was taking place in the Void. Beneath her helmet, Kaiya let out a sigh. "I trust you, Thaddy." When the doors opened, the scent of all those present blasted Kaiya. She recognized the warrior she'd attempted to squash on Delaya as Sierra Rodney. Her presence made the Cathar feel wrongly confident. She puffed up her powerful, slender body. She presented herself in front of the Grand Moff with a minimal bow. "Governor..." She growled. Her eyes settled on Sierra. Her tail twitched.

It had been months since the chaos on Delaya. Sierra still had nightmares about Crion. In some of those nightmares, Crion succeeded in her efforts. In others, Sierra was stuck beneath the Cathar as she was slowly killed. She broke out in a sweat beneath her uniform when she saw the female Cathar. Her fear was natural, though she was well protected between El-Nay and her husband. She gave Claudius a silent look to confirm his suspicions. Crion surely was the one. The claw marks in Sierra's back had taken forever to heal. The mental injuries would remain for years to come. She gulped. Now she had become very small at her husband's side.

As if on cue the holographic image of Colonel Arden Zevrin of the dreaded Imperial Security Bureau appeared in front of the assemblage. "Ah. Good to see everyone is here," she said, with a smirk as she looked towards everyone. "Commander Kiley, I received your report on the Assemblyman Amelia on the situation, but I also received a followup report from Captain Updike," she explained, as she began to laugh at what was about to come next. "I am inclined to believe Captain Updike's report. The Squibs were guilty by association. The charges against both Captain Updike and Trooper Crion are unwarranted," she explained, with a firm nod of her head. "In fact, they should be commended, for they were assigned to eliminate one Rebel, but instead eliminated an entire potential Rebel cell," she informed them, before slowly raising her gloved hands to slowly clap for them. "I consider the matter closed. Claudius, go back home ... be with your wife. Leave these matters to more competent officers. And, Commander Kiley, while I realize you are a Clawdite, please recognize that most non-Human species do not support the Emperor's new order, and therefore must be viewed as potential threats. Do not bring up such a matter with me again, for there are ranks lower than Commander," she said, before smirking at everyone involved. Rarely did she have an opportunity to smite so many of those she disliked at once.

Claudius was just about to blast Kaiya when the unwelcome sight of Colonel Zevrin's hologram appeared to them. He listened to her dismiss the charges against the nihilistic commandos to his great anger and dismay. His breathing became labored and his hands instinctively balled into fists. If Zevrin were standing in front of him he likely would have knocked her out right on the spot. "Zevrin, this time you have gone too far ... even by your standards," he told her, before turning on his feet and moving towards the shuttle. He did not wait for El-Nay, nor even his wife, as he jumped into the cockpit of the Kwai and blasted off from the Void on a rapid ascent to the Retributor. The ramp had not even been raised by the time he lifted off the surface as he was in such a hurry. He was going to put a stop to Zevrin once and for all ... regardless of what the effect on his career was.

In Kaiya's eyes, there was not a better moment than then for Zevrin to appear. The kind Colonel freed them of all charges. She watched, first hand, as the woman took control of even the Grand Moff. Thaddy had been right about everything. A grin broke out from beneath her helmet. Suddenly, she was relieved and happier than she had been all day. Her tail moved behind her. It was extra wonderful that the Colonel verbally reprimanded Kerrie. Ultimately, everything had worked out as her and Thaddy wanted it to. She pranced over to her Captain. Her trials were over. The Grand Moff was gone.

On the other side, Sierra's blood pressure rose with the sight of Arden. The woman appeared at the worst moment possible. She delivered nothing but bad news. Kaiya Crion was responsible for killing an innocent family, yet Arden was going to let it fly. The Colonel continually dumped salt in their wounds until she was so worked up that even she didn't fear the Cathar. It happened in Claudius' name. There was *so* much that Arden had done. They should be *commended*?! The visual of Melickielickie came back into her mind. That small, terrified girl could have lived with her family in peace. Sierra highly doubted that they were Rebels. She was aware of Claudius beside her. She could feel the heat from his anger radiating off of his body. There was *nothing* she could do to stop him from boarding the Kwai and leaving *without* her. She stood with her back to the hologram, watching him depart. He got a three second head start before Sierra's brain ground into action. She stole a TIE fighter which would work for the one-way flight to the Retributor where everything was going down. She dare not look back at Kerrie or El-Nay. The fighter screeched as she took off.

Despite piloting the TIE fighter dangerously, Sierra didn't make it to the Retributor before her husband. She felt so angry and concerned that she was sick. Killing Arden Zevrin had never been in the cards. Since she and Claudius spent their wedding night dining with His Majesty, they both realized she was untouchable. Colonel Zevrin had done so, *so* many things. In her paying for her crimes...would Claudius pay too? The TIE-fighter came into the landing bay far too quickly. She had to work to stop the ship from crashing into a wall. Sierra didn't bother powering down anything. She simply jumped out of the craft and ran, rapidly, towards Zevrin's office. Was she too late?

Claudius moved through the Retributor with all the speed and athleticism of an academy cadet. He wasted no time at arriving at the office of Colonel Zevrin. He did not stop at the checkpoint, nor did he request entry. While she held the power in the sector, he still was equipped of the code cylinders of a Grand Moff, which gave him access to every corner of the Retributor. "Zevrin, I have had enough of you!" he said, as he moved through her office and came to a stop across from her desk. "I have let you get away with too much in my name because the Emperor seemed pleased, but that trooper *will* pay for what she did, first to my wife, and then to that Squib family," he told her, as he placed his hands upon her desk and leaned forward angrily.

Arden blinked as Claudius entered her office, not at all expecting him this quickly. "Claudius ... so good of you to come. You so seldom honor me with your presence," she said, remaining calm and polite in the face of his outraged behavior. "Now, now ... you'll give yourself a heart attack and your pretty young wife will be both a widow and a single mother," she said, with a smirk, before snorting at the man's ridiculous behavior. "You're right. His Majesty *is* pleased, and not just with me ... but with you also," she said, as she rose from her desk to meet his gaze. "So don't let your loathsome love for your Squib 'daughter' ruin your career," she said, before bringing up her right hand and waving her fingers up and down several times to dismiss him. "Get out of my office. Get off my ship. Go be with your wife. I'll summon you if I need you," she said, before turning her back to him and moving to study her bank of monitors.

Speediness was not on Sierra's side. Each minute that ticked by brought on the potential for more danger. At the same time, the young woman felt increasingly more angry. She focused on everything, little and small, that Arden had done. When she burst forth into the woman's office, she came upon Claudius and the evil woman herself. Arden was already carelessly dismissing him even though this had just begun. She wanted the Cathar to pay. She wanted Arden to pay. She stepped right up beside him, red-faced and looking a little tired. The comment about Ewwiekewwieikkie was the final straw. Life would be so much less without her. And so, Sierra came right in like a wrecking ball. "*You*!" She growled. "You have no right to dismiss the Cathar's crimes. It isn't part of our job to kill innocent people. Those Squibs were not part of the Rebellion. They didn't deserve what happened to them. The Cathar commando is out of control!" She yelled. "*You* are out of control! I'm tried of living with your claws in every aspect of our lives." She looked up at all the screens for the various monitors displaying different parts of the Retributor. There was one dedicated to Claudius' office, while other showed off the bridge, a meeting in which the Chiss tactical officer was conducting, and someone eating their lunch in the breakroom. Sierra's hands touched with a heavy paperweight on Arden's desk. She lifted it, throwing it clear over Arden's head and into her wall of monitors which instantly turned to a wall of static as she destroyed it. "You've gone too far. You use me against my husband. You threaten my family. You pretend like you reign over a sector that doesn't belong to you."

Arden remained with her back to Claudius and Sierra as the young woman began her tirade. It was not until she threw the paperweight that destroyed her bank of monitors that she finally turned. However, instead of immediately reacting she slowly moved towards the comm panel. "Commander Alexander, send a maintenance crew to my office to repair my monitors," she ordered the ship's engineer, before turning her attention on Sierra. "Shut up. You would not even have a husband if I had not ordered you to monitor him for me. You should thank me everyday for what I did for you ... Milady," she said, with a wink, before moving her hand to her own shoulder to brush off some broken glass. "Your job is to do what I order. And as far as I'm concerned we need to beware of every non-Human on these worlds. They were our enemies during the last war and they surely favor the Rebellion in the current war," she reminded them, as she revealed her full xenophobic tendencies. "Let's examine the facts. You are both from a system that is overflowing with traitors. Your own daughter is a Rebel leader. You employ and harbor Clawdites, Ithorians, Squibs, Chiss ... need I go on?" she said, as she looked over at Claudius and dismissively shook her head. "The Emperor would have relieved you long ago if not for my success," she informed him, as her boot stepped upon the shattered glass from the monitors, causing a grating cracking sound.

Claudius lowered his head as Arden tore into them, but his face was growing a shade of crimson as bright as his family's color. "Enough!" he ordered, as his hands clenched tightly into fists. As his head raised it revealed a determined look in his eyes and a tightly clenched jaw. "I will not hit a female officer," he said, as he looked towards his wife. A moment later he rose the blaster ... the same one he had with him during the Battle of Skor II ... and leveled it with Colonel Zevrin's chest. Without thinking of the consequences he pulled back on the trigger, unleashing a deadly bolt of energy in her direction. He made his choice, but the consequences for himself and his family would be far reaching.

Arden's smirk turned to a gasp when she saw him raise the blaster. Unlike previous times when she had successfully emasculated him it was clear that she had crossed a line this time. She raised her hand in her defense, but it was too late. The blast connected with her right shoulder, sending her stumbling backwards several feet before her unconscious body collapsed to the floor. She was not dead, but she was badly wounded. Her unconscious body lay upon the broken glass of her monitors, whose static filled screens blared overhead.

All of the color left Claudius' face the moment he fired the blaster. He lowered his hand with the blaster, releasing his grasp upon it, and sending it tumbling towards the ground. He turned on his heels, then raised his head to look at his wife. "Take me home," he said, in his final order of the day, his body trembling as he came down from the adrenaline rush. His punishment to Zevrin had been a long time coming, but he wondered how long it would be before she had the upper hand again.

Sierra couldn't remember the last time she had been so angry. All she could see was red. She had begun thinking about the blaster pistol at her hip. It would be effective, but until Arden's head was severed from her neck, she'd come back again and again and again. Sierra hated all the xenophobia that commonly ran within the Empire. It was especially angering for Arden to bring up their comrades. The Ithorian doctors excelled at their occupations, as did Meha and Kerrie. Ewwiekewwieikkie made for an excellent adoptive daughter, and she had a good feeling that Melickielickie would fit in with the family. Aliens didn't side with the Empire because they did things like murder innocent alien families. As tension filled the room, something was bound to happen...and something *did* happen.

Claudius leveled his blaster with Arden's chest. Sierra felt it not necessary for her to stop him, for Arden had it coming. The woman had pushed and pushed and pushed. In a single squeeze of the trigger, *everything* would change. The power within the Retributor would surge back to its rightful place. The bolt collided with Arden's shoulder. She was down and out within the span of three heart beats. Sierra couldn't believe he'd done it. They had been fearful of the repercussions, and thus played nice with Zevrin. She had to remind herself to breath while she took in the events. It was only his voice that reignited her. She nodded her head, taking his hand in one of her own. "It's over..." She whispered. She made no efforts to get help for Zevrin in hopes that she would bleed out and die within the mess of her monitors.

It took much longer to reach the Kwai than it had to get up to Arden's office. She could feel his body trembling in her hands. "We're going home..." She said softly as they rode the lift down. Not a person objected to them leaving. Sierra deflated in relief, and concern, as she sat at the Kwai's controls and took them home back to the surface of Esseles. Claudius had set them all free. Arden could no longer try to hurt the family or put Sierra and their unborn son in danger for her own means. Most importantly, this gave them an opportunity to clean up Claudius' name. When they were almost home, she reached over and placed her hand on his leg. It was over.

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