Kerrie Kiley's eyes opened suddenly as she took in a tremendous
breath. It was her first natural breath in four days and it was a
difficult one. Suddenly her gag reflex kicked in and she began coughing
up the bacta that filled her lungs. Her hands frantically moved over the
sheets of the medical bed she had been placed in, desperately attempting
to ascertain her location through touch while her vision remained
obscured. Gradually the fog began to lift and she could vaguely make out
the familiar surroundings of the Warspite's medical facility.
"Ugh," a soft groan escaped her dark, Clawdite lips as she uncomfortably
arched her back and thrust her head down upon the flimsy hospital
Doctor Pilaq Tohan softly groaned as he looked up from the novel he
was reading at the monitor displaying Major Kiley's room. Taking a final
sip of his Karlini tea, in full understanding it would be cold by the
time he returned, he placed his data pad down and hurried from his
office down the corridor that led to the room he had placed his most
frequent patient in. As he set foot in the room, he disappointedly shook
his head at the young Clawdite and began to move towards her. His large,
elongated fingers began to gently caress the top of her bald head as his
orange bulbous eyes studied her medical readouts. "With the number of
times you have emerged from my bacta tanks, young one, you should be
more accustomed to the emergence by now..." he observed, offering her what
little comfort he could.
"Htaere? The children?" Kerrie desperately asked, violently thrashing
her head from side-to-side as she struggled to come around. She gave no
thought to herself, but she was gravely concerned about the state of
those she was tasked to protect. She attempted to sit herself up, but
she quickly discovered she could not move. A state of terror flooded her
mind as she believed she was paralyzed, but as her eyes finally shifted
into proper focus she discovered she was being held in a restraining
device. "...Doctor," she began after a long, drawn out pause as her yellow
eyes shifted towards the man. "What is the meaning of this?" she asked,
her voice filled with hurt and betrayal rather than anger.
Doctor Tohan sighed as the young woman's frustration always seemed to
get the better of her. He believed that she would not find herself in
his medical facility if she were not brash and headstrong, but it was
not his place to lecture her. "The children were unharmed and Htaere as
been returned," he explained to her slowly, his large Ithorian
hammerhead nodding reassuringly to her. He shifted uncomfortably,
pulling back slightly as the topic turned to the restraint. It was not a
device he enjoyed to use, but in this case it actually seemed necessary
given her agitation. "The Admiral has ordered that you remain here for a
day..." he explained, with a great sense of hesitation as he watched the
rage fill the young Clawdite's eyes. "He does not want you doing
anything," he paused as he searched for the right word, while turning to
head towards the exit. "...rash," he added with another reassuring nod,
one of his large fingers moving to deactivate the lighting system.
"Please get some rest, young one," he pleaded with her, using his best
'doctor's orders' voice as he exited the room.
"Pilaq!" Kerrie screamed at the top of her lungs as her hands dug
into the bed, tearing the cheap foam apart as she thrashed about to no
avail. Her legs kicked up and down repeatedly, while she shook her head
from side-to-side. She had exhausted herself without moving so much as a
centimeter. She panted tiredly, a thin layer of sweat coating her grey,
reptilian skin. Reluctantly, she closed her eyes and attempted to sleep,
but all she could do was plot her revenge against Arden Zevrin. It was a
wise precaution to restrain her, for had she been released, the ISB
Major might already be dead.
"You are such a sweetheart," Lieutenant Allegra Ames said as she
received her uniform from a love-struck young Ensign. Her eyes scanned
over the uniform, pleasantly noting how each stain had carefully been
removed. The creases were done to perfection and it seemed she had the
finest uniform aboard the ship. She forced a sweet, naïve smile upon her
face and leaned forward to place a kiss upon the young man's cheek.
"You'll have my boots polished before the evening watch, right?" she
said with a bashful smile, before sealing the door on the Ensign's face.
"Always leave them wanting more..." she said with a soft chuckle, proud of
herself as she began to dress herself.
A day had past, during which time Kerrie had been forced to remained
forcibly restrained in the medical facility. Only after conning both the
Doctor and the Admiral into believing she would behave herself were the
restrains finally lifted. Wearing nothing but the physical training gear
she was provided for comfort while laid up in the hospital, the Clawdite
shape-shifter shimmered to her normal state as that of a young, Human
female and began to undertake the series of events she hoped would lead
to her revenge.
Fifteen minutes later Allegra emerged from her quarters, feeling
extremely confident given the immaculate state of her uniform. With the
Admiral's wife still in the medical facility, she decided to check in on
her before reporting for duty. While she was not concerned with her
condition per say, she did believe checking in on her would reflect
favorably for her. As she arrived on the level with the medical
facility, she spotted some flowers that had been placed for one of the
officers recovering from the attack on Brentaal IV's garrison. "These
will do nicely," she said as a grin curled onto her lips, snatching them
up and tucking them beneath her left arm. The officer had been in a coma
for quite sometime and was not likely to recover, causing her to reason
that they were more used to her than they were to him.
Kerrie lunged from the shadows as Allegra walked in front of her, and
she quickly brought her right arm around her body , while her left arm
wrapped tightly around her neck. Dragging the woman into the supply
closet, she quickly used her left foot to kick the door, which bounced
against the wall and them fell back, slamming shut. Holding her with the
left arm around her neck, her left hand moved up to cover her mouth,
muffling any noises she might make. Her right hand lowered to raise a
syringe, which she moved dangerously close to the woman's right eye.
Allegra was caught completely off guard by Kerrie, and had was
helplessly dragged into the closet. Other than basic training, during
most of which she faked being sick, she had no practical combat training
and was powerless to defend herself. "Kerrie!" she screamed as she
watched in the horror as the closet door slammed shut on them. "Have you
gone mad?" she asked in a panicked state before her mouth was muzzled
like an animal.
Kerrie was tempted to snap the overbearing, ambitious young officer's
neck and be done with her, but she had bigger fish to fry. "Now listen,
Allegra," she began in a hushed tone, stammering between deep breaths.
"It is no secret that we do not like each other," she reminded her, the
syringe moving just a hair closer to the officer's eye. "...but we both
know that you are the biggest gossip on this ship," she informed her, a
soft snicker escaping her as she spoke the words. "You are going to tell
me exactly what has transpired the past five days," she informed her,
nodding her head several times as she spoke directly into her ear. "If I
believe you ... I'll let you go," she said, revealing her bargain, as she
gave Allegra's neck a tight squeeze before removing her hand from the
Allegra breathed deeply as Kerrie's hand was pulled from her mouth,
breaking into a series of pants as she tried to regain her composure.
Her flesh was flushed red and a thin layer of sweat began to cover her
body, ruining the presentation of her uniform. She considered screaming
for help, but that needle hovering in from of her eyeball stripped her
of any courage. She believed the woman was crazy, and capable of
anything, and reluctantly she decided to spill it despite the Admiral's
orders that no one reveal to Major Kiley the extent of what happened.
"Major Zevrin," she began, stammering as she gasped for air. "...she
captured the Lady Htaere," she informed her, as she tried to turn her
head to make eye contact with the woman.
Kerrie listened to Allegra's words, pleased that the gossip queen had
the sense to start talking when it mattered most. "I know that already.
I was there, remember?" she said as her arm tightened around her throat,
a sense of anger and frustration getting the better of her. "Why did she
capture her? And what did she do?" she asked, her voice raising in
volume despite the covert setting. Her judgment had been completely
impaired by the events of the past few days, what little sense she had
The fear overwhelmed Allegra and she lost control of herself,
becoming incontinent. Her bladder released and she found herself
urinating in the uniform she had just had so carefully cleaned. She
truly believed she was about to die, and was not about to meet that end
with honor and dignity. "Major Zevrin acquired evidence from one of her
contacts in the criminal underworld that implicated Lady Htaere in the
evidence leak," Allegra informed her, recounting what she had overheard
Captain Anson discussing with the Admiral. "She was held for four days.
Interrogated..." she paused before saying the next word, not wanting to be
killed as the messenger. "...tortured," she truthfully added, the tears
beginning to form in the corners of her eyes. "Finally they realized she
was not a spy and she was returned," she concluded, trying desperately
to turn her head away from the syringe. "Please... Please, Kerrie... I swear
that's all I know..." she said as she began to helplessly cry in her tight
Kerrie growled as she learned of what had happened to her dear friend
Htaere. Much of the anger was directed to herself for failing to protect
her, in addition to the obvious hatred she felt towards Major Zevrin.
Her right hand opened and the syringe harmlessly fell to the floor. Her
left hand pulled away from Allegra and she released her. "Pathetic," she
commented as she stepped over the puddle of urine and exited the closet.
"I trust you shall not have any trouble getting your uniform cleaned?"
she rudely inquired, having heard the rumors about her 'laundry
service'. She turned, giving her one last disgusted look before closing
the closet door on her. Before she would deal with the Major, she would
check on Htaere whose room was nearby.
Allegra began to sob uncontrollably, slumping against the back corner
of the wall. She would slowly slide down the wall before sitting down on
the floor of the closet. Burying her face in her hands, she continued to
cry as she remained secluded in the darkness. She had been threatened
and humiliated by her rival, and she vowed to ultimately get revenge.
For now, however, she was content to deal with finding a way out of the
closet and getting her uniform cleaned once again before reporting for
Htaere was fighting her recommendation to remain in bed. The suite,
while more luxurious, at least by the Star Destroyer's standards, yet
she still found the walls sterile and lonely. Occasionally she shifted
to the edge of the bed to get up and walk about a little, but thought
the better of it and remained where she was. Finally she could barely
stand it. Things had been such the whirlwind in the last week that now,
in the downtime, the aftermath seemed too low-key to be real. Pushing
away the datapad she had used to place a call back home, she pushed the
covers off, and stood, still clad in her comfortable camisole and pajama
pant. She drifted towards the tiny viewport again, drawing out again to
the end of the IV lines, and staring at the stars from the meter or so
between she and the pane. Her thoughts were preoccupied with her loss,
imagining what the child would have been like.
Kerrie Kiley made her through the medical facility, still wearing the
athletic gear that had been provided for her. The white stenciled
t-shirt covered her mimicked flesh, but the hunched way that she
presented herself prevented anyone from getting a proper glimpse of her
womanly physique. The athletic shorts she wore, however, did ride up a
bit and resulted in a series of cat calls from wounded soldiers as she
walked down the hall way, much to her anger. Her first instinct was to
move to the brig and murder Major Zevrin, but she owed it to her friend
Htaere to check up on her. She had been provided some details as to what
transpired during her recovery, but she did not know the horrifying news
of the miscarriage. As she stepped into Htaere's suite, she forced a
smile upon her face, hiding the anger she felt about what had happened
for her sake.
As the door opened, Htaere pulled her focus from the viewport,
turning to look at the door, partially paling a bit as she wondered if
someone was going to chide her for being out of bed. Her concern turned
to wonderment as the form of Kerrie Kiley appeared. Her mouth dropped
open before an elated grin came replaced the surprise. "Kerrie!" she
exclaimed, thrilled to see her friend alive and well. She hurried
towards the major, jerked to a halt as the clear tubes of the IV lines
shuffled to accommodate her movement but ultimately yanked her back when
pulled taut as the needles wiggled a little beneath the tape.
"Do not exert yourself, Milady," Kerrie said as she hurried over
towards her to prevent any strain on the IV. As she moved forward, she
offered a soft, gentle hug to avoid hard contact to the bruises that
might have remained. Her eyes scanned over the beautiful, young Hapan
for any signs of permanent damage. She was thankful to see there was
nothing visible, but what was unseen was far worse. "...you are well?"
she asked quietly, a hint of optimism in her voice. She would never
forget what Major Zevrin had done to her those years before, and worried
about what Htaere might have been put through.
Htaere eagerly offered her friend a hug likewise. She offered a
solemn smile. "Yes, I am much better thank you" she answered gratefully.
Her brow knit in concern, head tilting slightly to the side. "And you?"
"I will be fine once I teach that..." Kerrie began, the venomous
anger intertwined with each word that she spoke. She let out a deep
sigh, closing her eyes for a moment as she regained her composure. "I am
sorry, milady," she said as she began escorting her back towards the
bed. She bit her lower lip, doing her best to contain the disdain she
felt for the ISB interrogator.
Once again, Htaere allowed herself to be escorted back to the bed,
hoping the good doctor would sign her release sooner rather then later.
"I am relieved to see you well, Kerrie. I am sorry you were wounded on
my account" she said, frowning. "I am still unclear as to what exactly I
was being accused of."
Once Kerrie assisted Htaere in getting resituated in the bed, she
took a step backwards and took up her instinctive defensive posture in
the corner of the room. Each time a medic passed by with a cart her ears
perked, still on edge from their harrowing experience. "No, Milady. It
is I who must apologize for failing to protect you," she said, her head
sinking dejectedly as she thought over her failure. "From what I
understand..." she began nervously as her hands slowly tightened into
fists. "...they suspected you of being the spy that has plagued our
efforts here in the Ringali Shell," she explained somewhat, having not
revealed Jelena's involvement with the Alliance.
"You have never failed Kerrie" Htaere answered matter-of-factly.
Htaere's gaze sunk to the bed sheets for a moment, her focus turning
inward to contemplate a few of the swirling mental pictures that
comprised her stay. Finally she swallowed. "That woman is horrible" she
Kerrie's blood was boiling at the mere thought of Major Zevrin and
she lowered her face from Htaere's sight to hide the level of contempt
that had found its way onto her face. "She does not deserve the honor of
being called a 'woman'," she explained very quietly, but the anger was
clearly apparent on her voice. "She will suffer for this crime, Milady,"
she said as her head raised slightly to lock eyes from her friend, a
serious, unwavering look coming over her gentle eyes.
"She does not like me at all. I do not know why" Htaere contemplated
the statement out loud. She opened her mouth to say something else,
thought the better of it, and let it go. A moment later, she decided to
follow the train of thought. "Kerrie, may I ask you something? Please be
nothing less then brutally honest with me."
Kerrie was glad that Htaere had changed the subject, and when she
heard the conversation's tenor change she turned immediately to close
the door. "Just a moment, Milady," she said apologetically as she locked
the door, not trusting the security guard the Admiral had posted outside
of the room. Satisfied with the situation involving the door, she turned
and move closer towards Htaere. She moved towards the chair adjacent the
bed and sat closer to her, an eager smile coming upon her lips. "Please.
Ask me anything..." she said honestly, not sure what the woman had in
store for her.
Htaere contemplated how to word this. She fidgeted for a second
before proceeding. "Do you...or...anyone I suppose...perceive me a..."
she struggled with the word. The continuous use of it during her
interrogation stung each and every time. "...'whore'...for marrying a
man many times my age?"
Kerrie stammered suddenly, struggling to remain focused as she
listened to the words spoken by Htaere. "No...no, Milady!" she said as
she reached forward, placing her hand firmly upon Htaere's. "No one
thinks you are a whore..." she repeatedly, her head nodding emphatically
as she spoke the words. There was no doubt or hesitation in her words,
and 'whore' was the last word she would use to describe her. "He may be
older, but..." she stammered, not being the best to offer relationship
advice. "...but I believe he loves you very greatly," she explained,
despite her inexperience when it came to love.
"It has never occurred to me to be negative in any way, shape or
form" she admitted. In her mind, all of Major Zevrin's commentary
towards her symbolized the collective perception and thought that
perhaps everyone had, but no one wanted to come out and say. It had been
a view in a mirror that she had never looked in, and hated the portrait
that appeared as the ISB agents words had painted it.
Kerrie swallowed softly and her head slowly looked down at the floor.
She paused before raising her head back up with a more positive facial
expression. "Milady..." she began as she offered her hand a reassuring
squeeze and a pleading smile. "The ISB is very good at taking our fears
and doubts and using them to attempt to break us. Please ... do not give
that harpy's words a second thought," she explained to her, hoping she
could reassure her somewhat.
Htaere's lips pursed, placing her other hand atop Kerrie's and
returning the squeeze. "Of course, you are right. This is...silly" she
conceded. She changed the subject, trying to catch up on all the
goings-on during her absence in an attempt to revitalize some degree of
normalcy. "Were the children harmed?"
Kerrie offered Htaere a reassuring nod as she considered the other
members of the household. "From what I understand they were locked in
their rooms," she explained as her eyes began to roam away from Htaere.
"I intend to discuss it with Jelena later..." she said, her voice
trailing off a bit as she planned her encounter with who she believed
was the cause of this mess. Hopefully this would scare her straight, she
thought as her attention returned to Htaere.
Htaere nodded, the makings of a small mirthless grin lifting the
corners of her mouth for moment. "Is my guarlara safe?" she could hardly
wait to see the animal again, always finding its warm breath, soft coat
and kind eye to be soothing to her spirit.
"I have not heard any reports to indicate otherwise..." Kerrie said
as a small frown slowly curled upon her lips. "Do you think it is wise
that you continue riding with the pregnancy, Milady?" she said as she
looked at her with deep concern. "I am not a doctor, but if you fell..."
she said, her lip quivering a bit as she pondered the unthinkable.
Htaere winced, the wound still fresh as it was, and dreading the
major's reaction. She did not say anything at first, licking her lips
and offering a response carefully, her voice still wavering as she
vocalized the concept again, though no less painfully. "Kerrie...I..."
she looked down. "My pregnancy...was terminated" she said quietly.
The news struck at Kerrie's heart in a way she was not possibly
prepared for, and she immediately lost all of her focus, slowly
reverting to her native Clawdite appearance. "Oh...Milady..." she said
softly, full of sadness as she lowered her head. Her eyes closed
tightly, unable to prevent the tears that began to flow from both of her
reptilian eyes. Her free hand clenched angrily as she plotted revenge
against Arden, though inwardly she blamed her failure to protect Htaere
as the true cause of the termination.
Having had ample solitude to come to grips with the loss, Htaere
comforted her friend as she had poor Claudius. She took the liberty of
reaching for Kerrie's tears, brushing them away tenderly. There was
little to say in these moments. It was silly to say everything was ok,
because it did not feel that way. In time, the wounds would heal and
they would all move on.
In that moment she vowed to kill Major Zevrin for what she had done,
no matter the cost to herself. It was a score she should have settled
years ago, but there were 'distractions' that sidetracked her. Perhaps
if she had, things would now be different. "Is there..." she began,
sounding tired and exasperated as the words came slowly. "Is there
anything I can do?" she repeated, sniffling sharply to fight back the
tears. It was Htaere's loss, not hers ... and the way she was acting
Htaere offered an encouraging smile, shaking her head slowly. "The
goddesses perhaps have other plans. We must trust in them" she answered
softly. "I am fortunate to have all of you as my family. You have all
been better to me then my own blood. For that I am grateful."
Kerrie looked at Htaere as a wide, honest smile curled upon her
natural Clawdite face. "I have never received a greater compliment in my
life, Milady," she said in a quiet, genuine tone as she considered the
words carefully. "My ... real family ... I never truly knew ..." she
admitted to Htaere for the first time, having rarely discussed the
subject with anyone. Being abandoned at birth was not something she
liked to brag about.
Htaere nodded sympathetically. "I am truly convinced that in some
cases, that is a gift" she stated firmly. "My family I do truly
know...and I find them deplorable. The sad part is that they are aware
of how horrible they are, and yet it means victory. Where I come from,
it is a quality to be willing to destroy each other in the competition
for crown and high seat" she admitted as well. Her head shook. "I am
nothing like them, and I acknowledge that openly. I shall not even
'pretend' to want their approval nor accept their treachery and betrayal
as respectable behavior." She paused a moment, lost in thought as she
regarded her family, something she barely did. "Despite my fortunes, had
I the choice, I would forfeit all of it for a better family."
Kerrie listed to Htaere's words carefully and gave them considerable
thought, deciding that it was best just to listen given her recent
hardship. "We do not get to choose our families, Milady," she said,
knowing full well how they often do not live up to hopes. "I do believe
that you would be a wonderful mother..." she commented through, her head
instinctively nodding up and down as she spoke.
Htaere smiled sadly "Maybe one day" she nodded. "I must say, I found
I loved the feeling of motherhood, brief as it was" she spoke of it
frankly. After a pause she nodded again and took a deep breath.
Kerrie tried to remain optimistic and slowly she shimmered back into
her more comfortable Human female appearance. As her skin paled to match
her impression of the Human form she smiled towards Htaere, and learned
forward to offer her a reassuring hug. "You are still very young,
Milady," she said, speaking almost directly into her ear as she embraced
Htaere was grateful for the major's kindness and friendship. She
hugged the woman back, heaving a deep sigh as she mentally churned over
"Can I bring you anything, Milady?" Kerrie asked as she pulled back,
situating herself in the seat once more. "Have you eaten?" she asked as
she struggled to make herself feel somehow useful. She felt very
irrelevant, having failed to protect Htaere and having been unconscious
during her recovery.
"Thank you, no" Htaere answered smiling. "I have not had much of an
appetite as of late" she observed. "Still not caught up I suppose."
"Have you any word on how long they will be keeping you here?" Kerrie
asked as she rose from the chair and moved towards the front of the bed.
She reached down, picking up Htaere's chart and studying it carefully.
It was all a bunch of gibberish to her and she could never understand
Doctor Tohan's Ithorian writing. Frowning, she placed it back where she
had found it.
Her head shook, red-gold tendrils shifting around her bare shoulders.
"I have heard nothing yet from Doctor Tohan." She looked curious. "Are
you returning to the estate?"
Kerrie shook her head at Htaere in response to her question. "No,
Milady. There are matters aboard the Warspite I must attend
to..." she explained, without going into much detail. She did not want
to trouble her friend with stressful information at a time like this.
"Oh..." Htaere nodded. "Then perhaps while you take care of your
business I shall be cleared for leave and we can return together" she
"Of course, Milady," Kerrie said with a kind smile, offering a final
nod before she exited the medical suite. Once she was outside and out of
view, she braced herself against the wall and began to weep
uncontrollably. She ignored any attempts to console her, before finally
maneuvering through the ship to find her personal quarters. Still
crying, she reached down and pulled a small, wrapped package from
beneath her bed. Tearing it open, it revealed a smaller version of the
stuffed bantha she had acquired when she was a child. Discarding the
wrapping paper, she tossed the stuffed bantha in the closet and began to
put on her uniform so that she might deal with the ones she held
responsible for this.