Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Liz Dorner and Christopher Levy.

One year before the Battle of Yavin (34:8:24) in the Brentaal system: Warspite.


Lieutenant Allegra AmesCaptain Tiberius Anson, Major Kerrie Kiley, Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca, My`Ahme Renault, Vice Admiral Claudius Rodney, Duke Julius Rodney, and Lady Htaere Ka`a Sha`ar.


The massive hulk of the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Warspite loomed over the small moon, Brentaal IV. At her tactical station the sole alien aboard the Warspite monitored her tactical display. Her brow furrowed as she saw an alert flash as a target approached the Star Destroyer. "Captain," Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca began, "we have an incoming target on approach."

Captain Anson turned away from Commander Hood for a moment and proceeded down the walkway towards Meham'ohorovi'cloca's position in the crew pit. "What do you make of it?" the Captain inquired, "is it hostile?"

The Lieutenant lowered her head to her displays once again as the results from the proximity scanners flashed across her screen. "Sensors indicate it's a small transport, Captain," she informed him, "It does not appear hostile, but I do not see any arrivals on our schedule."

Suddenly Lieutenant Ames rose from across the walkway in her Operations center. "Captain," she called to her commanding officer, "the vessel is hailing us."

"Well we'll get to the bottom of this then," the Captain announced as he walked towards Lieutenant Ames' station, "put them through."

The display flickered to life to reveal an attractive woman in her late 20's with finely chiseled features, straight brown hair that hung well past her shoulders and an intricate headband studded with jewels that radiated a soft light. "On behalf of the Royal Hapes Consortium, the Lady Htaere Ka`a Sha`ar arrives for her intended mate, Claudius Rodney" she said. Her Basic was elegant and her accent thick. "Please allow us permission to board" she continued, very matter-of-factly.

"Intended mate, sir?" Lieutenant Ames repeated to the Captain. Her brow wrinkled with such confusion it threatened to tear the skin from her forehead.

"Let me handle this, Lieutenant," Captain Anson said in a condescending tone to Ames. He stepped forward to the display and cleared his throat. "We have received no information regarding this ... 'mating' ...," he informed the woman before taking a slight pause, "Nevertheless, we allow you to come aboard." He then turned his attention back to Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca, "Lieutenant ... lower the protective screens around the hangar bay." He turned back towards the display before snapping his head back towards the Lieutenant, "Oh ... and prepare an honor guard 'just in case.'"

Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca nodded her head and made the necessary preparations. "Shall I alert the Admiral, sir?" Meham'ohorovi'cloca asked the Captain.

"No," Captain Anson was quick to interject, "No ... I would much rather have that honor. Lieutenant Ames ... connect me to the Admiral's personal quarters."

Lieutenant Ames nodded once and opened up a com channel to the Admiral's quarters, several decks below the main bridge.

Admiral Rodney rose from his position in bed when he heard the beeping on the comm panel on the wall. He sighed as he had just about fallen to sleep. He depressed the toggle on the panel and spoke in a slightly groggy tone, "What is it bridge?"

"Sir," Captain Anson began, "There is a delegation of Hapans arriving on the flight deck. It requires your presence." The Captain and Lieutenant Ames both smirked at the situation and did their best to cover up their mouths as they shared a laugh.

"Hapans?" the Admiral repeated in disbelief, "Captain what the hell are Hapans doing in this sector?"

"Sir, I believe that will become clear once you meet with their ... representative," the Captain said and then dragged a finger across his throat to instruct Lieutenant Ames to cut the channel. Once done, he broke down and began to hysterically laugh at the Admiral's apparent situation.

"Bridge?" the Admiral said, but received no response as the channel had been cut. "Damnit," he said as he rose from bed. He grabbed his tunic from where it had been draped over his chair and threw it on almost haphazardly. He fiddled with the flap as he tried to make him presentable as he scurried out of the room. Walking down the dull corridor he entered the turbolift and activate the controls for the turbolift. After several moments descending in the lift he arrived on the flight deck. Making one last check of himself he walked out of the turbolift and onto the flight deck where he noticed Major Kiley and an entire company of Stormtroopers had appeared in parade formation.

"Any idea what this is about, Major?" he asked Major Kiley as he stood at the head of the formation.

"None, sir," Major Kiley stated, standing at attention, "I just received orders to form a company to receive a VIP."

"Well this should be interesting," the Admiral said, having no idea what he was in for.

The transport settled smoothly on the floor of the bay, the engines ticking as they cooled. As the entrance ramp opened with a low *hum* and came to rest on the floor paneling, a handful of young women appeared, all dressed in ornate flowing robes, deep purple in color. All of their mouths and noses were covered, revealing only their eyes and dark eyeliner, and all were extensively decorated with jewelry around their necks, ankles and wrists. The brown haired young woman strode down the ramp, chin in the air and looking very pleased with herself and the whole procession. Sandal-clad feet carried her a meter and a half away from the Admiral before she halted, and along with the six handmaidens, the bunch of them bowed deeply. "Claudius Rodney?" she asked, rising.

"Yes...," the Admiral said in a slightly confused tone of voice. "To be entirely honest this is highly unexpected. No one notified us about your impending visit, nor did we receive a communiqué on to what we owe this pleasure." He smiled, attempting to muster some of his charm from his days as a diplomat in Alderaan's foreign ministry, "However, I assure you that we will get to the bottom of this and those negligent will be reprimanded. Nevertheless, we will have full diplomatic quarters available for you and your staff aboard this vessel. I can only assume that you've read about the recent activity on Brentaal and would like to gather information firsthand?"

The young woman's expression slipped, if only momentarily, into one of bewilderment. "I am not sure what you mean." She instantly regained her composure and smiled politely. "I am My`Ahme Renault, with the Hapan Attaché Corps. I have been charged with the delivery of the Lady Htaere." With that, My`Ahme stepped to the side and motioned to the transport. At the top of the ramp stood another young woman, her face and shoulders completely shrouded by a gauzy veil supported on a wire frame, which descended from the top of a crown of sorts. A multi-tiered necklace descended from beneath the veil. The fitted top the young woman wore hugged a trim and curvey figure, the long sleeves cascading a foot and a half beyond the tips of her fingers to conceal her hands completely. The long skirt she wore of some pricey material skimmed the floor, flowing around her ankles and dainty hide sandals. The young woman descended the ramp as well and stood before the Admiral, bowing as well. She remained silent and unmoving in anticipation for the inspection she was sure to be given. My`Ahme glanced to the Admiral, brow knit in concern. "The House Ka`a Sha`ar sends her finest the request of House Rodney." The Attaché paused before continuing, looking deeply hurt. "Is she not acceptable?"

"Deliver..." the Admiral said bewilderedly. His face reddened and he began to sweat lightly. He coughed lightly as he began to choke up. "At the request of House Rodney you say?" he repeatedly, as if it would make him somehow understand it any clearer. He lowered his head slightly and fed the information through his head again. Still, he could not accept this. "Exactly who from House Rodney made this request?" he asked the representative as he raised his head once again. His eyes snapped towards the young woman being 'delivered' for a moment before refocusing on the envoy who at this point had been doing all the talking.

My`Ahme blinked large brown eyes, perplexed. "The Duke Julius Rodney of Delaya, My Lord." Her head canted slightly to the left. "You are to be wed, are you not? The Lady Htaere was hand-chosen for you. I do not understand. Are you not pleased?" If any of the other Hapans were equally as befuddled, their body language did not betray them. The "bride-to-be" and her handmaidens stood straight as pins and unflinching in demeanor.

"Damn my father and his schemes," he cursed underneath his breath so that hopefully the Hapan delegation would not hear him. He smiled at them politely and attempted to regain his composure. "If you will wait here just a moment I will endeavor to get to the bottom of this." He bowed in respect to the delegation and moved briskly towards the far wall of the flight deck. Coming to a stop near a comm panel he activated the control, "Bridge."

"Yes, Admiral," the familiar voice of Lieutenant Ames chimed back on the control panel.

"Open up a comm channel to my father on Delaya," he instructed the junior officer, "Immediately."

"Right away, sir," Lieutenant Ames said. A wide smirk appeared upon her young face, fully aware that the Admiral could not see her and there would be no harm.

A few moments later the voice of Julius Rodney, Duke of Delaya, appeared on the comlink, "Claudius, my son. You rarely contact me anymore. To what do I owe this pleasure?"

"Don't play coy with my, father," Claudius said in a confrontational tone, "Why is there a delegation from Hapes here delivering me a 'wife' that you supposedly ordered?"

"It is a fine match, son," Julius was quick to point you, "House Ka`a Sha`ar is a fine political match for House Rodney. I am confident in the success of the union and the quick delivery of a male heir."

"We have been through this time and time again," the Admiral said, losing his patience, "I had a wife. I will not marry again."

"My son, I grieve with you for your loss," Julius said in a slightly compassionate voice, "But that was fourteen years ago. You have to let go. You have to move on."

Claudius lowered his head and sighed deeply. "It's pointless discussing this with you," he said as he deactivated the comlink. Letting out a deep breath he moved back towards the Hapan delegation and smiled politely once again. "I'm sorry, but there's been a terrible mistake. I cannot get married," he told them in a polite, almost diplomatic tone. He did not want to offend anyone because of his unwillingness.

For a handful of heartbeats, no one moved. My`Ahme was making a very visible effort not to let her jaw hit the floor. The bride-to-be's concealed head shifted slightly, hidden face moving to her Attaché. Even the handmaidens looked to her, the bunch of them in stunned stupor. My`Ahme turned and said something in a different language to the entourage. They noticeably bristled but it was subtle and fleeting. Her gaze returned to the Admiral. "We offer our deepest apologies. If you allow us to refuel and replenish our supplies, we will be taking leave shortly" she said, reassuming her role as mouthpiece of the group.

"Of course," the Admiral said nodding his head in respect. "Allow me to escort the Lady to our finest quarters where our staff will attempt to make her stay as pleasant and as comfortable as possible." He turned his attention towards Major Kiley, whose cold demeanor had allowed her to stay totally emotionless during this exchange. "See that they get everything that they need, Major,"

"Yes, sir," Kerrie said as she walked over towards the transport with several hangar personnel to deal with the crew.

"Now, Milady, if you'll just follow me we can try to make this as comfortable as possible," the Admiral motioned towards the turbolift and allowed swift feet to carry him there. "I'll get my father for this," he thought to himself as he stood inside the turbolift, awaiting the entourage.

Htaere remained where she was, her blank, gauzy "visage" turning again to My`Ahme. As if the words were unspoken between them, the Attaché nodded slightly before speaking Hapan again to the handmaidens. Two of them broke off from the group to accompany their mistress as she moved off after the Admiral. In the lift, the silence was deafening and the atmosphere uncomfortable. And yet, none of them broke. Their posture was rigid as ever, their facades blank, at least what could be seen of the handmaidens. Safely hidden behind a border impenetrable to the eye, Htaere was as big a mystery as the whole issue in and of itself.

"We're here," the Admiral announced as the turbolift stopped on the level for his quarters. He had become a bit flustered and called for the wrong level. "Finally," he continued quietly, too quiet for them to hear. He came to a stop at the door to the main chamber. As the door opened Claudius' face turned pale. He swallowed and stepped forward into his own personal quarters. He would not be getting away from this that easy after all. Thinking fast on his feet he turned to Htaere to explain, "These are my personal quarters. The finest on the ship. You may wait here." He stood at attention should be called upon to provide them with anything. He saw it as his mission to avoid a potential diplomatic mishap. This war would end eventually and he did have a future in the Alderaanian government to protect.

The handmaidens' eyes met each other before acknowledging the Admiral. One of them spoke. Her Basic was choppy and not nearly as fluent as My`Ahme's, yet it was still gentle to the ear. "My Lady would have you to know she is most grateful. The three of them emerged, looking about curiously. They retreated across the room to the viewports where Htaere stood gazing out at the unfamiliar planet they orbited. The handmaidens drew their sleeves up past their palms to cover their hands before they took to gently lifting the young woman's veil. Unable to let their skin contact the crown, they took care to remove it carefully to let their mistress rest, her back remaining to their guest, affording him only a view of her long red-gold hair, tumbling down her back in a soft wave. One of the handmaidens approached their esteemed host. "It is not required that you remain. My Lady will not be an imposition" she offered in her best Basic.

"It is my pleasure to stay," Claudius informed the handmaiden with a warm smile. He was able to relax slightly since he was in the familiar environment of his quarters. He looked over towards Htare standing by the viewport. He felt some sadness in his heart for what this girl had been put through. He felt it was his obligation to make sure no harm was done before she left. He approached her slowly from behind and stood next to her. He did not look at her directly but instead joined her in looking at Brentaal IV below. As he did so, he caught her reflection on the viewport. He was immediately struck by her beauty. He long knew that Hapans were renowned for their appearance, but always thought it was an old spacers' myth. As he stood there looking at her young face in the viewport he lost himself and said something. He just there quietly looking as if he were the only one on the entire ship.

Htaere's eyes were the cloudy grey color of the skies moments before a storm broke loose. Tattooed on her forehead was a jade-colored diamond, and in the middle of it, embedded surgically was a small mature rainbow gem, glowing softly with a amber hue. Also tattooed beneath each eye, side by side, were two small green upside-down triangles. Bizarre to outsiders, each marking was a trace of her lineage and her status. As he drew up next to her, her head turned away. The handmaidens were equally as dumbfounded by his actions, confused by his involuntary mixed messages. One of them spoke again. "My Lady wishes not to offend with..." she fished for the right word..."...informalness..." she said.

"Informalness?" he asked the handmaiden. His gaze never moved away from her reflection on the viewport.

"Since you will not be married, to see her is...informal. The royalty do not show their faces to the public," the handmaiden continued, and between the two of them, they readied the elaborate headgear that constituted her crown, veil and the frame that held it out around her face as if radiating downwards. "My Lady wishes not to insult the Admiral further" she continued. Htaere turned away from him entirely to face her handmaidens as they took to meticulously replacing the headpiece.

"Oh," the Admiral said, slowly beginning to understand some of their culture. "No insult was taken. I assure you. Perhaps we might speak while they ready your ship?" he asked, a hopeful tenor to his voice. He moved slowly across the room towards one of the many seating arrangements in the entry room. He swallowed nervously and wondered if her culture would even allow her to talk to him.

The handmaidens, yet again, looked at each other curiously. The Hapans had been under the impression Htaere's suitor would be much like the noble who had made the arrangements. They were as equally surprised if not more so by the events that had played out. One of them addressed the Admiral again. "My Lady was instructed not to speak. It is not her purpose. It was made clear to her that..." another pause as she mentally searched for the best word, "...eloquence was neither desired nor required." The handmaiden fidgeted for a moment. "We are most confused by all of this."

"I'm sorry," the Admiral said to the Handmaiden, trying to make some sense of this, "Are you implying that my father requested she be instructed not to talk?" His gaze shifted over towards Htaere before refocusing on the Handmaiden to await a response.

"It is not her purpose. Her purpose is to be a socially acceptable mate and produce offspring. She will answer any direct questions the Admiral asks of her." The handmaiden motioned to her counterpart, who quickly ushered Htaere towards him.

"The men on your planet must be very happy," the Admiral said more to himself than to the Handmaiden. He smiled up towards Htaere and asked her the first question that came to mind, "Did your parents try to force you into this like mine did?"

Htaere's head dipped in a slight nod and she spoke for the first time since their landing. Her voice was quiet and like her companions, was heavily accented. "Yes, My Lord."

"It seems parents are equally meddlesome in every culture," he said in a deliberate effort towards lightening the mood some. "What about you," he continued, "Do you want to get married?"

The question was preposterous to her. The subject had never been made available for her to accept or reject. "The choice is not mine to make."

"Not yours to make?" he repeated to her, unwilling to accept it. "It's the most important decision you'll ever make in your life," he pointed out, "there's no one else that should decide it."

Htaere glanced to the closest handmaiden, unsure of what to say. Her handmaiden answered on her behalf. "My Lady will be promised to another upon her return home. In efforts to secure peace, the Hapes Consortium is exporting...good this time."

Claudius did not allow his face to move away from Htaere as the Handmaiden spoken. "Is that all you are?" he asked, "An export your family considers 'good will?'"

"It is my duty to the Consortium."

"Duty," he thought to himself. Finally something he could understand. He nodded to her quietly. There was a sad look upon his face and his mind seemed to drift elsewhere. "It is my ... 'duty' ... to produce a son to carry on my family's lineage," he explained.

"Then it is my hope that you do so" she said, seemingly faint traces of sympathy in her voice. If anyone understood familial obligation, it was she.

"Are you in a rush to get home to Hapes and wait for your parents to find another suitor?" Claudius asked her in a bold gesture. Privately he hoped she said yes, but he doubted her culture would permit it.

"I must return promptly. My family's honor depends on it."

"Well," the Admiral said disappointedly, "If your family is anything like mine I'm sure their honor is very important to them. Perhaps more important than individual happiness."

It would go unnoticed beneath the veil, but Htaere's lips lifted into a mirthless half-grin. "You are not what I expected. You have been most kind to me. I will remember this" she said, nodding slowly.

"I am nothing like the rest of my family," Claudius was quick to point down. He looked at the floor quietly. Their time together would soon end and for some reason this made him sad. Silly really. Nevertheless, he had become quite enamored by her in a short period of time.

It was quiet for a moment. "They did not tell me you serve the Empire. You are nothing like them either. That is...a good thing."

"Be careful," the Admiral said in a manner half-serious, half-joking, "I wouldn't put it past the ISB from putting a monitoring device in here." He raised his head to look at her again with a warm smile upon his face from the joke. "Are you sure you can't stay for a short while?" he asked one last time.

"I cannot. Our ship is ready most likely. We must be going. You have been a gracious and benevolent host" she replied. Htaere's own covered hands reached up to lift the veil to reveal her face and fix him with a genuinely touched smile. "Thank you" she offered quietly. She bowed slightly so as not to tip the large headpiece. Her handmaidens followed suit, paying him the respect he deserved.

"Very well," the Admiral said politely. He rose from his seat and proceeded towards the room's exit. Please, allow me the honor of escorting you back to your ship. He proceeded slowly, as if savoring every moment, down the corridor towards the familiar turbolift where he awaited Htaere and her entourage of handmaidens.

Htaere lowered her veil before gliding gracefully back towards the lift. Her form stiffened again, ready for public scrutiny, her handmaidens taking up their positions behind her as they waited. Her chin lifted proudly, the very posture trained into her from early on. She let the last moments of pleasantries fade away until she was back to being the stoic trophy piece she was upon arrival.

The lift made its steady descent back towards the flight deck where the crew had worked hard at refueling her ship. Major Kiley immediately snapped into formation when the turbolift doors opened, the Stormtroopers stepping into place in an impressive sight. The Admiral was first to exit the turbolift and made his way towards Htaere's transport. He cleared his throat awkwardly and stood at attention near the ramp of her transport, preparing to bid her a proper farewell.

Htaere and her handmaidens rejoined the rest of the entourage at the base of the ramp. The collective mood was less jovial but they were polite and grateful all the same. My`Ahme bowed deeply to the crew of the Warspite and her commander for their generous reception. "On behalf of the Royal House of Hapes, we apologize for this infraction and thank you sincerely for having us" she said straightening. Htaere and her escorts bowed one last time before they shuffled her back up the ramp. My`Ahme fixed a pleasant enough smile to her lovely face and added "The Admiral and his crew are welcomed in Hapes any time" before pivoting sharply and disappearing up the ramp along with the handmaidens. When everyone was clear, the ramp lifted and the flight crew began preparations for lift off and travel, including a trajectory back to Hapes.

As the transport departed the Warspite's hangar the crew busied themselves and eventually departed. Gone was the company of Stormtroopers and the technicians. Soon all that remained were Admiral Rodney and his loyal henchwoman, Major Kiley. He watched the transport as it moved away from the Star Destroyer and flinched slightly when it entered hyperspace.

"Will you be needing anything else tonight, Milord," Major Kiley asked the Admiral.

"No," the Admiral said, unmoving.

"Very well. Goodnight, sir," Major Kiley said before exiting the flight deck.

All alone he stood there now looking out at the vast field of stars. "Which one is Hapes?" he wondered quietly to himself.

Untitled 1

Copyright © Era of Rebellion 2005-2018. All Rights Reserved
Terms of Use | Legal Notices | Privacy Policy | Press Release | Disclaimer