Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Liz Dorner and Christopher Levy.

One year before the Battle of Yavin (34:8:30) in the Brentaal system: Brentaal IV (Cormond: Medcenter, Spaceport, and Trade Hall)  and Kwai and in the Essesia system: Esseles (New Calamar: Claudius Rodney's estate) and Kwai.


Lieutenant Allegra Ames, Major Kerrie Kiley, Vice Admiral Claudius Rodney, Lady Htaere Ka`a Sha`ar, and Doctor Pilaq Tohan.


Htaere stood in front of a freestanding full-length mirror set in a carved wooden frame to evaluate herself. The usual elegant flare to her clothing was draped over with a burgundy colored hood. She looked more dressed down then she ever had, and that was the point. A quick glance about her room and she was moving to the door. After a harrowing escape from the disapproval of the Admiral's children, she lay awake for hours, cold and lonely until she convinced a service droid to assist her in acquiring various items that she used to make a small bedside fountain. The only tie to her homeworld, it was the very sound of the water trickling over a few stones from the gardens that comforted her and put her to sleep. Grateful for the little security blanket it had become, she let it run constantly as an anchor. Feeling more or less reasonable to start off a new day, she crossed the threshold of her chambers and started off down the hallway towards the stair, taking in all the minute details that were lost on her in the dark. Encountering no resistance, she sought out whatever gardens were present, thankful for the warmth of the sunlight and the peace and tranquility afforded by whatever foliage may be present.

The Lambda Shuttle Kwai returned to its familiar resting place on the Rodney estate's landing platform. However, this time it was not Admiral Claudius Rodney who descended the landing platform. Instead, Lieutenant Allegra Ames, one of the Admiral's operations officers emerged from the shuttle. Upon exiting the shuttle she wrinkled her nose, looking around. It was not as nice as her father's estate on Berchest, not by far. She studied the landscape carefully in an attempt to spot Htaere. Finally she spotted her on the horizon and the familiar diplomatic smile returned to her lips. Proceeding at a steady pace she headed over towards Haere. "Milady," she said politely as she neared her and then entered into a respectful bow.

Htaere's grey eyes flashed towards the officer. She reciprocated with a respectful nod. Her eyes vacillated towards the walls and back. "What lies beyond?" she asked, her expression somewhat distant.

"Hmm," Allegra said not expecting to have to answer a question like that. She lifted her head and attempted to peer over the security fence. "Dangerous country, Milady. The security perimeter is here for your protection. The staff can travel outside and pick up whatever you require," she explained politely. "The Admiral requested I inform you personally that a situation has developed that requires his personal attention. He sends his sympathies and his compliments. He suggested you take a tour of the nearby planet Brentaal, the most prominent world in the region."

Htaere mentally digested the information before looking towards the junior officer. "Alright. I will see this planet then. Transportation is available?"

"Of course, Milady," Allegra explained, "I have taken the liberty of requisitioning the Admiral's personal shuttle. If you would kindly follow me to the landing platform, it will be ready to depart at your convenience."

"Oh? Thank you" the Hapan answered, silvery orbs settling on the Kwai. She followed after the young woman, finding herself eager at the prospect of exploration. The familial issues behind her for now, it was a welcomed distraction. Being somewhat familiar with the shuttle, she ascended the ramp and seated herself accordingly, fastening her crash webbing and waiting in curious anticipation.

Lieutenant Ames came to a stop of the base of the shuttle's ramp and stepped aside to allow Htaere ample room to enter the ship. "Have an excellent trip, Milady," she said with a smile, "May I say that you seem to have taken to the local climate wonderfully. You are every bit as beautiful as we have been told. If you have ever need anything ... at any time ... do not hesitate to contact me."

"You are not coming?" Htaere's perfectly sculpted eyebrows arched in surprise.

"The Admiral has insisted that someone else accompany you on your journey, Milady," Allegra was quick to explain, "She awaits you on board the shuttle."

Htaere made an effort to close her mouth, still agape in surprise. "I see. Thank you for patience" she said, settling back into her seat, if only slightly more at ease.

Allegra continued to smile until the ramp of the shuttle closed and it instantly faded away once she was positive she was out of sight. Shaking her head she took a seat by the landing platform to await pickup.

The Lambda Shuttle Kwai made a quick hyperspace transit from the planet Esseles to the nearby planet Brentaal. It landed at the spaceport in the city of Cormond, which was now under increased Imperial scrutiny. When the shuttle touched down, Major Kerrie Kiley emerged from the cockpit and entered the rear compartment where Htaere was seated. She did not smile or bother with the formalities that others had insisted upon. She was cold and to the point and would not concern herself with impressing this woman. She would focus only on her job of protecting her. "Welcome to Brentaal. I am Major Kerrie Kiley ... your bodyguard," she told her, "We can proceed with the tour whenever you are ready."

Htaere studied the woman and the unflinching stoicism she radiated. Perhaps it was paranoia at this point, but to Htaere, more often then not, the gazes that seemed to fall upon her as of late were all similar in their disapproval. Htaere unbuckled her crash webbing and got to her feet, smoothing the soft fabric of her cape before lifting the hood. "I am ready" she stated with a mustered up bit of decorum. Where most Hapans were considered domineering and unwilling to compromise, Htaere sought to lay low in new territory with only the company of strangers to aid in her adjustment. Unsure of their collective intentions and what to expect, she simply tucked her damaged pride away and went along.

Major Kiley walked down the ramp of the shuttle and nodded to the two Imperial Stormtroopers who had arrived for added protection. Walking in front Kerrie proceeded through the spaceport, glaring at each of the individuals that they passed by. She did not entirely trust the Imperial screening process at the spaceport. When she exited the spaceport she came to a stop next to a LAVr QH-7 Chariot Command Speeder that had been arranged for her tour. Opening the passenger compartment in the rear, Kerrie took up a defensive position to cover the area until Htaere was safely inside of the vehicle. "Please get in the vehicle as quickly as possible, Milady," she said, instructing her.

Htaere pulled her inquisitive gaze from the stormtroopers to follow the instructions given. She climbed in, situating herself. "Is there something wrong?"

"No. Not at all," Kerrie told her, lying through her teeth. Taking a final look around she entered the vehicle and took up a seat next to Htaere. "Proceed driver," she instructed the crew in the front of the vehicle.

"Can we not get out?" Htaere's focus was on something out of one of the small personal viewports.

"Only if you insist, Milady," Kerrie explained. "I understand you and the Admiral will be married?" she inquired in an attempt to change the subject.

She pulled her focus from the oddities beyond the window towards her escort. "Yes" she replied. "You are under his command?"

Kerrie lowered her head for a moment before replying, "From a certain point of you that would be true." Her gaze refocused out the window checking for potential roadblocks or insurgents before continuing, "Tell me ... how do you find the Admiral's children?"

Htaere's eyes dropped to her hands in her lap. She froze for that split second, deciding how best to answer the question. "With the exception of the non-human, my presence was not received well" she answered, as finely tuning the response with the best tact she could think of.

"His children are an acquired taste," Kerrie explained to her. "In time you will get used to them," she said reassuringly, "I, however, do not care for the youngest one. I believe she, and not the Admiral, is really in command. Your hands will be quite full with her."

"Then I will take extra care to wash my hands. I do not believe she will ever acknowledge me as having any authority. Nor is it my place." Htaere's soft glossed tiers managed a mirthless half-smile. "My extensive training in the art of etiquette has taught me to use silence to repress irritation. Since meeting his daughter, I have called upon this training, and I foresee I will be doing so for a long while." She looked to the viewport again, blinking curiously. "What is that?" she inquired, eyes taking in the flurry of the street bizarre that lay outside.

"Remember. She will be your daughter soon," Kerrie reminded her. "Brentaal is a merchant society, Milady. That is the Trade Hell, the center of commerce in the city."

"May we see it?" she mused in wide-eyed wonderment

"Milady," Kerrie said surveying the market, "It is very crowded. I am not sure it would be wise for you visit such a location."

"Please Major Kiley. I am most curious. I have not seen such a market since I was very young." She glanced over the bustle of the crowds. "I would like to be just a face in the crowd this day. That is a freedom not afforded to me often."

In a sense, Kerrie too was a prisoner. She knew what that was like and made the mistake of giving in to her request. "Very well, but do not take long," she insisted. Kerrie exited the vehicle quickly and reached into the rear compartment to withdraw an E-11 blaster rifle. She stood in a defensive position and signaled the driver to keep the vehicle running. "All right, Milady," she said as she peered through the crowd.

Htaere extracted herself from the vehicle and stared into the blur of motion, enthralled with it. She ambled into the organized chaos, the very makings of a thrilled smile peeking through her even expression. She moved in and out of beings of myriad species, able to glide past them without the fanfare and formality of the world she belonged to. She found their market interesting, taking in the wares being peddled, from food to clothing, trinkets to weapons and beyond. The smell alone was exhilarating, very real and very personal. There was no polished marble, no spun copper, no shiny gems or flawless wall tapestries. Instead, what lay before her was a living portrait, invaluable in its inability to be replicated without cutting out the very essence of the hustle that defined the realism of the moment. To be unknown was a breath of air she inhaled deeply, reveling it and thriving in it. She continued down the street, content to move leisurely and observe, committing to memory every minuscule stimulus her senses could take in.

Kerrie brandished her E-11 as she followed behind Htaere several steps. This was a real challenge. Any of these beings could be a member of the insurgency and it would only take but a moment to snuff out both of their lives. She had been trained to do this. Her first position off Zolan was as a corporate bodyguard. However, this was nothing like that experience. They were moving far from the vehicle and her nerves increased as they became more immersed in the crowd. An Ishi Tib collided with her and knocked her back slightly, increasing the separation between her and Htaere. "E chu ta!" she shouted as the creature as she surged forward to catch up.

Obliviously submersed in the experience, Htaere strolled onward, eyes flickering from face to face, simply ecstatic to be "one of them." With her own strange facial markings, she merged in among them, engulfed in the ranks of a social caste that was not her own. Unaware of the Major's presence, she moved fluidly in and out of the sea of bodies, intoxicated with the gritty reality of life on the street.

Kerrie struggled to keep up with Htaere whose grace allowed her to move through a crowd. However, she was attempting to plow through the group and hardly got anywhere. She was becoming increasingly frustrated and groaned in dismay as the crowd continued to fill between her and the woman she was attempting to protect. "Milady," she called out as she continued to force her way forward.

Above the din, it went unnoticed. Htaere's mind was preoccupied with watching a scuffle begin in one of the sidewalk bars. Captivated with the live brawling, she stopped along with the rest of the crowd to watch.

Htaere's decision to stop allowed Kerrie to catch up with her. She extended her left hand and placed it upon her shoulder. "Milady," Kerrie began, "You have had a chance to look around the Trade Hall. Please, let us return to the vehicle."

"These people are fighting" Htaere exclaimed, as if it were a holovid showing on a public holovision. The crowd was closing in and pushing against them as more and more onlookers gathered in the street to watch an increasing number of participants jump into the fray.

"Drunk people tend to do that, Milady," Kerrie explained, "Now. We really must head back."

Htaere nodded in submission and turned towards Major Kiley. "Alright. I have enjoyed this thoroughly. I submit to your insistence though" she piped, still sporting a smile that she would brandish for hours at the brief glimpse of true freedom given to her, much to her bodyguard's dismay.

Major Kerrie Kiley arrived at the Chariot first. She looked around the area carefully before opening up the passenger compartment. Once again, she took up a defensive position by the doorway and waited for Htaere to get inside.
 Suddenly one of the Imperials looked up and spotted an incoming rocket. "RPG!" he shouted as the rocket headed towards the Chariot.

"Ugh," Kerrie groaned as she threw herself immediately against Htaere to shield her from the blast. She used her strength to force them both down to the ground, with her body covering Htaere's for added protection.

Suddenly the Chariot erupted in a massive explosion as the rocket impacted. The wreckage burst into flames and debris was sent everywhere. A secondary explosion soon erupted as the heat reached the fuel cells. There was pandemonium in the streets of Cormond with the throngs of people scurrying, trampling one another, and screaming.

Without so much as a fraction of a second to react, Htaere found herself being thrown to the ground, Major Kiley's bearing down on her. She felt her body sting as it slapped the street surface before two distinct tides of extreme heat surged over her. The parts of her hands and face left unexposed burned if only momentarily before subsiding and leaving her in shock. Her ears were ringing with muffled reverberations rather then specific words and noises. As the internal hum waned, her head lifted, complexion even more pale then usual, and strained eyes coming into focus on the mass exodus that the market-goers were creating in their stampede for cover.

Kerrie looked Htaere directly for a moment without saying a word. Suddenly her eyes went wide and she shimmered back into her native Clawdite form. She rolled over onto the pavement next to her, leaving a small pool blood on Htaere. She moved her hands down to her right side and felt the piece of duarsteel protruding into her side. She closed her eyes and groaned in pain as she returned her hands up in front of her face to look at them, drenched in blood. "Are you alright, Milady?" she murmured in-between groans and deep, pained breaths.

The apparent confusion was evident on the Hapan's youthful face, simply blown away, literally, by what had just transpired. "What has happened?" she asked, a waver in her voice. Wide silvery eyes, on the very brim of hysteria flickered to the Major's hands, smeared with her own blood. "You are wounded" she gasped, her expression taut in horror. She struggled to her hands and knees, untying the full length hooded cape she wore and balling it up at the Major's side. The cream-colored sleeveless empire-waisted dress she wore stood out like a sore thumb, one bright spot in a sea of hazy dust and smoke.

"Get...," Kerrie said weakly, moving her hands back down to apply some pressure to her wound. She started to choke on some of the blood that was starting to flow into her mouth from internal bleeding, but attempted to talk to her again, "Get...get out of..."

Htaere could only stare at her fallen guard. The girl looked as if she was about to come apart and pitch headlong into panic. She tore her gaze from Kerrie Kiley's crumbled body, eyes searching frantically at the beings closest to her as they shot past in efforts to escape the carnage. "Please, I need help" she called into the last remnants of mindless animals racing to clear the streets. The effort was futile and she looked about the wreckage of the chariot for any of the stormtroopers that may have survived.

Kerrie slowly turned her head to look at Htaere, a stream of blood dropping from the corner of her mouth. "Tell the Admiral," she said weakly, looking over towards Htaere. "Tell the Admiral I forg...," she said while gagging on her own blood. Her eyes then closed and her head rolled over onto the pavement with a final groan.

"Major?" Htaere leaned closer, staring in disbelief. "Major?" the tone of her voice lifted, as if by the very act of yelling she could stir the woman out of lifelessness. "Major Kiley!" Htaere pushed against the officer's shoulder, rather abruptly in desperate attempts to conjure some sort of response. Her eyes burned hot with saline tears, finding herself very much a lone in hostile territory. She staggered to her feet, turning about to take in the vacant streets before narrowing her somber gaze to a nearby establishment. She made the effort to put one foot in front of another, moving steadily towards the entrance, in dire search of any assistance.

In the distance the sound of marching could be heard, growing steadily louder. Within moments a squad of Imperial Stormtroopers had arrived. They scoured the area looking for insurgents and taking up defensive positions in case of another attack. A medic found Major Kiley and knelt down next to her. The medic spoke in-between the familiar *click* of his helmet's comlink system, "This one is critical. We have to move her now."

Down the street additional Imperial speeders began approaching along with a fire suppression team that arrived to work on the wreckage of the speeder. The medic and another storm trooper lifted Major Kiley's unconscious body up off the ground, leaving behind a large pool of blood that had accumulated beneath her. Unknown who Htaere was, the Stormtroopers ignored her as they continued their search.

Htaere's eyes panned across the interior of the novelty store. The door had closed behind her and all was silent and seemingly devoid of activity. She took several steps in, moving towards the counter when a strange voice broke the thunderous silence with very battered Basic. "Not another step. Hands up!" She felt herself jump slightly, but lifted her hands slowly, fingers splayed. She ventured to turn slowly to glance over her shoulder and found herself staring into the large inky black eyes of a Rodian. He clung fiercely to a rifle, leveled at her mid back. "I need help please," Htaere mumbled shakily, eyes flitting for a split second to the barrel of the weapon. The Rodian continued, unconcerned with her plea "I should have they arrest you for looting." Htaere's expression all but hardened, grimacing as she felt herself going numb. She inhaled deeply and tried again. "A woman has been injured. She requires immediate medical attention. Can you help me?" The Rodian simply regarded her before motioning with his rifle back towards the door. "You go" he said, jerking the barrel to the entrance. In defeat, Htaere's shoulders slumped, her posture manifesting the resignation she was bound in before she moved slowly to the door and stepped out. As the pneumonic hiss sealed her back outside, she exhaled and let her blurry vision sweep the scene

One of the Stormtroopers walked towards Htaere and brandished his E-11 blaster rifle in her direction. "Clear the streets," he commanded, "You cannot be here."

She stared hard at the polarized lenses of his helmet. "Please, I need help. My bodyguard has been injured. I believe the others have died already" she again pled her case to yet another stranger, incapable of understanding why no one would come to her aid.

"Bodyguard?" the Stormtrooper repeated through his helmet with some skepticism, "Identify yourself."

"My name is Htaere Ka`a Sha`ahr. I am here with Major Kiley..." Htaere didn't complete the sentence. She studied the wreckage down the street, seeing the Major's body gone. Her mouth fell open as she stepped around the trooper, ignoring him all together and moving briskly back down the street. "She is gone!" she said aloud, more for herself then anyone else, struggling with the ordeal with increasing difficulty.

"She has been taken to a trauma center," the Stormtrooper explained, following close behind her. "Why was she guarding you?" he asked in a commanding tone.

Htaere slowed to a stop, drawing a labored breath and running a slender hand across her eyes. "Claudius requested it" she answered plainly. She looked to him earnestly. "Where was she taken? Can you take me there?"

"Claudius who?" the Stormtrooper asked, beginning to lose patience with the roundabout way she was going about things.
Frustrated in her own rite that he was not understanding her, she mustered up all the diplomacy she could to retain her patience. "Claudius Rodney" she answered, head turning to take in the wreckage briefly before looking back to the trooper. "Can you call him please? This is of the utmost importance" she asked, with an almost casual air.

"Come with me," the Stormtrooper ordered as he headed towards another Imperial speeder that had arrived on scene. "Get in," he instructed as he reached the vehicle.

Htaere hurried after him, climbing into the speeder obediently. "I would like to see Major Kiley" she repeated.

The taxed form of the Hapan heiress meandered into the room where the woman charged with her protection clung to life. Htaere in no way resembled the normally immaculate intended wife of Admiral Claudius Rodney. Her dress was tattered in places where the blast had singed it and tarnished with smudges of dirt and grime from the streets. The odd bloodstain belonged to the Major but the handful of bumps and scrapes along her arms and legs were her own trophies of survival. Her face was a little dirty as well, having been plunged into the street. She halted, canting her head and staring into the bacta tank at the woman to whom she owed her life.

The Ithorian, Doctor Pilaq Tohan, turned his attention away from the medical readout to stare at the woman who just entered with his large bulbous eyes. He addressed her with his unique Ithorian stereophonic voice that took careful listening to understand, "You really should not be in here."

Htaere's eyes took in the much larger sentient. "Respectfully, it is my honor to remain at the proverbial bedside of Major Kiley. She is the sole reason I draw breath" she answered politely.

"I have known this woman for more than a year," Doctor Tohan explained, "I did not think she had it in her." He then returned to monitoring her vital signs on the controls in front of him.

Htaere left him to his work, moving off to the side and seating herself on an empty medical pallet. Her lower legs and feet dangled over the edge, crossing at the ankle, hands folding in her lap. She sighed audibly and reflected on how lovely it would be to emerge from the refresher all clean and comfortable and curl up under the downy duvet on her bed and fall asleep to the trickling of the fountain. Her eyes remained on the bacta tank for the most part, waiting patiently for the Major's recovery.

The sound of marching once again filled the the area as Admiral Claudius Rodney, flanked by several Imperial Stormtroopers, arrived on seen and immediately entered the room containing Major Kiley. He did not notice Htaere in the corner initially and headed straight for the bacta tank. He stood there quietly and placed his hand upon the glass tank sadly. Without turning his head he addressed his old doctor, "Will she make it?"

"Her liver was barely recognizable," Doctor Tohan explained, "But then again I have never studied Clawdite anatomy so it very well might appear as it should."

"That's not funny, Pilaq," Claudius said, still holding his palm against the glass of the tank.

"I do not know, Claudius," the Doctor informed him, "She is a fighter though. She has that going for her."

Htaere did not interfere, but rather let them have the moment. She pushed herself from the pallet and took a few silent steps forward, bare feet inaudible on the cold floor. She remained towards the back watching. "She left a message for you" she said aloud from behind them all.

Claudius snapped around immediately upon hearing Htaere's familiar voice. He had heard no reports of her status and feared the worst. He places a hand on each of her shoulders and looked at her carefully to see if she was hurt. "Are you alright?" he asked in a concerned tone. He then lowered his head and placed a kiss upon her forehead. "I thought you were...," he stopped himself and just stood there checking her over.

Her eyes softened and she welcomed the affection. Nodding she answered solemnly "Yes, I am alright" she answered quietly. Her eyes met his and she looked very genuine. "I did not understand her message, but she said to tell you that she for-..." Htaere's thoughts seemed to turn inward, trying to recall what the major had said in those mind-altering moments after the explosion. "...She for-..." she shook her head, at a loss. "She for-something."

"Shh," Claudius told her, "Don't worry about that. She'll explain it when she wakes up." He placed another soft kiss upon her forehead before moving his head back to look at her again. "What happened?" he asked her softly.

"It is my fault. I wanted to see the market," Htaere admitted, biting at her lower lip. "I asked to leave the vehicle to peruse the market on foot. We were on our way back when someone shouted something. I am having difficulty remembering what happened next." She lowered her voice. "I do not understand, but I am sorry. I am responsible for this."

He stepped forward and rapped his arms around her, holding her head against his chest gently. "Shh. It's not your fault," he told her in a soothing voice, "What's important is that you're alright."

Whatever nervousness she felt at being in her future husband's embrace for the first time, she met it head on and made an equal effort. Her own arms slipped around his torso, close enough that her bare feet fit neatly within the stance of his booted feet. Also for the first time, she caught his scent, his personal scent that was singular to he and he alone. Her eyes closed as she allowed herself to nuzzle him a bit more intensely, memorizing the way he smelled.

Later that night Major Kiley lay in her hospital bed, having been removed from the bacta tank. Various intravenous tubes were hooked up to her as well as electronic monitoring devices. To combat the great deal of pain she was on various pain medications, which made her loopy. She groaned as she awoke and flopped her head from side to side on the pillow beneath her head.

"You're a tough one to kill, Major," Claudius said to her as he noticed her awake. He had been seated at her bedside for most of the evening.

"Don't you have better things to do than make jokes at a sick woman's expense?" Kerrie asked him, struggling to move her head over to look at him. She attempted to transform back to her human form, but she was in too much pain to concentrate. "Ugh," she groaned in a combination of pain and nausea from her medication.

"There's a rumor going around that you've forgiven me, Major," Claudius said with a slight smile as he watched over her.

Kerrie stared at him with a blank, almost scared, expression for a moment. "Hah ow hah ow hah ow, hahahah owwww," Kerrie murmured as she laughed, which caused her a great deal of pain. "Unh," she mumbled before continuing, "What made you think that?"

"Htaere said to tell me that you forg...," Claudius explained, "Weren't you trying to let me know you forgave me?"

Kerrie remained silent for a moment and rolled her head away from eye contact with the Admiral. Out of sight she frowned before sighing a reply, "No. I was trying to explain that I forgot to duck. Forgot ... not forgive."

"Oh," Claudius replied with a bit of disappointment.

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