Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Liz Dorner and Christopher Levy.

One year before the Battle of Yavin (34:10:2) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Leiliani: Rodney Castle) and Kwai.

Ewwiekewwieikkie, Vice Admiral Claudius Rodney, Lady Drusilla Rodney, Lady Jelena Rodney, Duke Julius Rodney, Duchess Livia Rodney, Lady Htaere Ka`a Sha`ahr, and Flight Lieutenant Randi Trainor.

The Lamda Shuttle Kwai descended through the atmosphere of the planet Delaya. The craft's thrusters flared to life as it slowed, soaring high above the planet's small capitol city. Flying towards the West and the setting Aldera star an ancient, ornate structure lay high in the rocks above an ancient valley stream. It had been the home of the Rodney family for nearly a millennia. Many were gathered on the landing platform for whom they expected to eventually become the newest members of the House of Rodney. The shuttle gradually descended towards the newly renovated landing platform and touched down without incident. The shuttle settled for a moment before the landing ramp descended to the surface of the platform. "We've landed," Lieutenant Trainor chimed in through the intercom, stating the obvious.

Drusilla, the youngest of the assembled, was the first to rise and pushed past Kerrie, whom she viewed as nothing more than a servant, to be the first one down the landing ramp.

Major Kiley grunted as she was shoved, having risen to stand sentry by the landing ramp, but she dared not challenge the one she considered to be truly in charge of family affairs.

Ewwiekewwieikkie, smiling as always, made her way casually off the shuttle. Unlike Drusilla, however, she waited by Kerrie at the bottom of the ramp while the others continued to meander out of the ship.

Jelena smiled politely at Htaere, knowing full well what she was in for, but of course would not terrify her by sharing her assumptions. She rose slowly and adjusted her wardrobe before joining her two sisters outside of the ship. She smiled as she looked up towards the setting Aldera star and the looming planet Alderaan in the distance. It would not be long, she thought, before she would hop the shuttle to Alderaan and catch up with old friends now attending University.

"Shall we?" Claudius asked Htaere rhetorically. He stood up from his seat in the cabin and outstretched his hand towards her, preparing to lead her down the ramp.

Collecting herself by means of a deep breath, Htaere rose from her seat. As usual, she was dressed lavishly in a floor length loose flowing wine-colored skirt, split in the front to reveal the white undersheath. A thick band of golden decoupage wrapped around her midsection, ascending up the middle of her chest and splitting around her neck as a collar over a slim fitting top to match the skirt. She looked to Claudius and managed a smile from beneath an elaborate headpiece, the back of which fanned around her head as an elongated shade. "I suppose so" she said firmly.

Taking Htaere's hand in his, Claudius led her down the ramp of the shuttle and onto the surface of his homeworld: Delaya. Delaya was not a spectacular world. In fact, for a Core World it was quite mediocre. About the only thing it was known for was being Alderaan's neighbor. He took a
moment to breath the air and a content smile formed upon his middle-aged face. He was home.

Young Drusilla had left the pack and by now was halfway down the walkway the led from the landing platform to Rodney Castle. She beamed when she was her grandparents waiting with their entourage and came to a stop in front of her grandmother. "I'm home," she announced matter-a-factly, "What did you bring me?"

"Welcome home Drusilla," Duchess Livia said with a kind smile before producing a small package from one of her footmen. "Just this," she said warmly as she lowered herself and handed it over.

Drusilla ignored the careful wrapping and tore it open revealing an ornately jeweled bracelet that any woman would be lucky to have one. "Just one, grandmama?" Drusilla asked as she looked up at her, "Whatever will I put on my other arm? I simply could not stand to let it go bear." Her lips began to pout and it looked as if she might begin stomping her feet.

"Come," Livia said to her youngest granddaughter, "Let's see if we can't find you something then, dear." Livia led her off towards the Castle ... indulging her as only a grandparent could.

Htaere's immediate attentions upon stepping out of the shuttle were to span the environment for a moment, take it in and relish in the nature. It was only after she'd dedicated a few moments to gain perspective did she turn her attentions to whatever party was waiting for them.

Claudius led an entourage consisting of himself, Htaere, Jelena, Ewwiekewwieikkie, and Major Kiley across the platform and onto the walkway that led to the castle. The group came to a stop when they reached the Duke of Delaya and his staff, who had come out to meet them. "Father," Claudius said cordially as he looked towards the Duke, "Allow me to present L..."

The father quickly interrupted the son and stepped forward in front of her. "Lady Htaere Ka`a Sha`ar," Duke Julius said, finishing his son's declaration. "Hmm. Difficult to say though isn't it?" he said to Claudius, "Too many arrs and ahhs ... I feel like I'm trying to cough something up." He paused and sized her up. "Well ... we'll take care of that soon enough, won't we?" he said more to himself than anyone. He reached for her, holding nothing back and placed a sturdy hand on each of her hips. "Your mother is as good as her word, My Dear," he informed Htaere before turning his attention to Claudius, "Child bearing hips if I ever knew them."

Htaere regarded him casually, unimpressed. She let him look her up and down before her chin lifted indignantly. "In my travels I have found it is better to remain silent and let someone think you're an idiot then to open your mouth and remove all doubt" she replied evenly. She started to move forward and stopped, looking towards the arrogant pig curiously. "Oh, and did my mother not tell you? I am incapable of bearing children" she added, stone faced.

"Ah hah hah hah hah," Julius laughed at her remark, "Careful with this one, boy. She'll keep you on your toes for sure."

"Quite," Claudius said stoically before judging it best to progress the situation, "Shall we proceed inside?"

The Duke had finally finished with amusing himself and the laughter stopped, "Yes ... yes of course. Your mother has pre ... well your mother's servants have prepared an excellent feast in honor of your arrival." The Duke clapped his hands together twice and proceeded back towards the estate with his staff.

Claudius rolled his eyes and them smiled nervously at Htaere, hoping she had not been too offended.

Htaere had no so much as flinched during the verbal exchange. It was probably one of the few instances she shared traits with her mother, which was the unyielding ability to patronize at will and exhume raw arrogance.  It was not something Htaere did often, but the few interactions she'd had with Julius Rodney had been more then enough to warrant fully adopting the means to put him in his place.

The dining hall in Castle Rodney was well-populated that evening. At the head of the table sat the Duke himself. Next to him on the right sat Claudius with Htaere on his left. Next to Claudius was Jelena, while Ewwiekewwieikkie. At the other end of the table sat Drusilla, who had displaced her grandmother at the usual end of the table. The Duchess was forced to move next to Jelena, but she did not mind.

The gregarious Duke rose from his seat and lifted his glass of Chimbak wine. "I would like to tell you all how glad I am that the House of Rodney is once under the same roof." He smiled to everyone before his face grew stern, "I would like to tell you that, but I cannot ... because my
incorrigible younger son ... Marcus," he said the name with such contempt," is off gallivanting instead of spending time with our family this evening."

"Julius!" Livia chimed in, quite displeased.

"Right ... right," Julius said before collecting himself, "Where was I ... hmm ... yes ... a toast. A toast to my oldest son ... my good son ..."

The comment was met with a stiff look from Livia, much displeased.

"I wish you a very happy marriage to this lovely 'young' woman," Julius continued and tilted his glass towards her, "And let me be first to congratulate you on the future conception of your son." His face grew warm as he nodded to Claudius and retook his seat at the head of the table.

"Why thank you, father," Claudius said, biting his tongue.

"Son?" Htaere repeated, feigning confusion. "You have been blessed with granddaughters. They are the rulers. Men are insignificant. But if you would like for Claudius and I to gamble on bringing another mouthy female into existence, I am sure arrangements can be made arrange your recommendation should your opinion be of any real merit."  She exhaled patient with the male in the midst of his stupor.  "Either way, you should address the issue of gender with your son, since even a child knows that it is the male's contribution that determines gender, and dear Claudius does not seem to have such a stellar track record in that department, now does he" she continued, almost in goad. It was clearly beneath her to be in such an argument.

"The wine," Claudius said covering for both of them before the situation escalated.

"Mmm mmm," Ewwiekewwieikkie murmured as she took another bite of her dinner. Oblivious to what was going on she broke the awkward, momentary silence.

"Yes it is quite good," Claudius added.

"What is it?" Ewwiekewwie asked.

"Thranta meat," Livia quickly explained, as if to take credit for the meal.

"Thranta?" Jelena repeated, not understanding. "Isn't it illegal to hunt thrantas?" she asked.

"Not quite sure, dear," Julius replied, "Not much of a hunter you see."

"Now, now," Livia interjected, "No politics at the dinner table."

"Noble sentiment," Julius agreed, "Besides ... we wouldn't want to remind the boy what an awful mess that Ringali Shell has turned into since he took charge."

Claudius cleared his throat before taking another ship of his wine, finishing his first glass well before anyone else. It was going to be a 'long' night.

Htaere's eyes finally flickered back across the table to Claudius and instantly warmed. The all-business visage from moments earlier melted away casually, as if it were nothing to repel the taunts and ignorance of Julius Rodney.

"So tell me," Julius began, his eyes shifting towards Htaere, "I was told you had siblings. Any sisters?"

Htaere's grey eyes flashed back to her future father-in-law, this time as she addressed him, her tone and expression softer. "Four of them. Older then I" she answered.

"...and are they married?" Julius pressed on.

"I doubt it. Their engagements last only as long as it takes to find one with a higher rank" she responded coolly.

"Ah. I see," Julius said and turned his back towards Claudius, "Are you pleased with the wife I've picked out for you?"

"I think there was a little more to it than that, father," Claudius replied to his father's rather inappropriate comment.

As undignifying as the reference was, Htaere had no rebuttal as it was definitive truth. Her face had reset back into business-like stoicism at having to continuously deal with Claudius' father, who didn't seem to know when to stop talking.

"Pretty soon we'll have to see about arranging a marriage for Jelena," Julius informed Claudius, "Though I must confess even 'I' have no idea what to do about 'that' one." His eyes moved to Ewwiekewwieikkie for a moment as she finished her thranta.

"That won't be necessary," Jelena quickly informed her grandmother.

"Then you've found someone, then?" Julius said with a warm smile, "Excellent."

"No..." Jelena replied dejectedly, "No ... I haven't found anyone. It's just not how I want it to be."

"If an arranged marriage is good enough for your father," Julius responded, "Then it's good enough for you." He turned his head towards Claudius, "Isn't that right, son?"

"Yes," Claudius replied having not digested the entire statement. He paused and the gears in his head could be seen turning, "I mean no ... I mean that is something for her to think of. Not you."

Htaere sat in stunned silence at the collective obedience the Rodney's had for Julius. Willing and unwilling alike, all other sentiment was lost to Julius' final say as the grand patriarch and self-proclaimed decision maker, who undoubtedly had the best interest of the family members at heart when making arrangements. To that thought, Htaere frowned perceiving Julius to be nothing more then meddlesome and slightly irritating and fairly easy to talk down to.

"Well then," Julius announced, "It seems everyone has finished their dinner. Who wants desert?"

"I'm afraid I can't grandfather," Jelena explained, "I've got to go and make plans for tomorrow."

"I'm stuffed!" Ewwiekewwieikkie exclaimed.

"I don't eat desert," Drusilla informed them, "It'll make me fat and ugly."

"I really must get some rest, dear," Livia regretfully told her husband, "All these preparations have taken a toll."

"And I should be showing Htaere to her room," Claudius announced, "It has been a long trip and we're really quite tired."

One by one the group began to rise and proceeded towards their chambers for the night. Each of the girls stopping to give their grandparents a good night kiss. Claudius remained by the door, waiting for Htaere.

Htaere rose, nudging her chair back as she straightened. She stepped around it, bowed courteiously to her hosts and followed after Claudius promptly.

Claudius led her up the stairs towards the level where all of the bed chambers were, "Well, you survived."

"It was not difficult" she smiled. "Your father does not know how to acknowledge defiance it seems because no one defies him. It seems to be an effective means of disengagging him" she answered matter-of-factly.

"Well in his own way he brought us together," Claudius said with a smile as they arrived at her guest bedchamber. "Well," he continued, "Here you are."

Htaere palmed over the control mechanism to open the door. She studied the room and moved inside, looking about curiously. "It is very comfortable, thank you" she said, leaving her luggage on the bed to go through it.

Claudius followed her inside the room to make sure she was satisfied with the arrangements. Once he was sure that she was, he leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss upon her lips. "Goodnight," he said warmly as he excused himself.

"Good night" she replied to his back, the response trailing off after him towards the door and beyond.

Down below, back in the dining hall Julius was not quite sure what had caused everyone to leave. "Something I said?" he wondered out loud to himself, "No ... of course not ... couldn't be." He smiled down at what would be the first of many deserts that evening, "Oh well. More for me."

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