Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:5:18) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Imperial garrison).
Governor Papius Arundel, Ewwiekewwieikkie, Callista Nilar, Lady Drusilla Rodney, and Commander Iyah Xergo.

Governor Papius Arundel had not enjoyed the coronation of Marcus and Zara Rodney as Duke and Duchess of Delaya, despite the central role he surprisingly played. He had rid the planet of Claudius and Sierra Rodney simply to have two more Rodneys pop up in their place. This family, it seemed, multiplied like a virulent plague. At the garrison he had been keeping a woman who would have become a Rodney if only she could marry her beloved Mug Zoran, and her tangential connection to the accursed family was enough to sicken him. He had left her in relative isolation, interrogating her when bored, but in reality he had left her to sit in the darkened silence and contemplate her fate and the fact that no one had come for her. He imagined the slow onset of that realization would be more painful than anything he could have done to her. Today, however, she had been moved. She had been placed in a square room that had no decorations or objects of any kind. Two of the walls were plane, one contained the door, and the final wall had a piece of transparisteel that looked into the adjoining room, but it was currently dark. Today he had decided to torture her in a way fitting of a man of his villainy. "The refreshments are here," he said, as he opened the door to the room that adjoined the room containing Iyah. As he opened the door it lit up revealing a table with an assortment of snacks, desserts, and drinks. What it did not show was what he wanted her to see.

First into the room was Ewwiekewwieikkie who only needed to hear the word 'refreshment' once before surging forward into the room. "Callista, look!" she cheered, as she first went for the largest cake that had been set out. Not needing a knife, she simply broke it in half, saving half of it for her cousin, while focusing on devouring her half. She did not understand much of what she saw during her tour of the garrison, but the promise of wondrous food had successfully lured her and Callista right into Governor Arundel's hands.

Lady Drusilla Rodney slowly walked into the room, examining her manicure rather than looking around at her surroundings. "No thank you, Governor. I had an egg this morning and I am absolutely stuffed," she said, as she placed her hand on her stomach. She watched in disgust as her adopted sister tore through the desserts, but was pleased that she would not have to feed the two girls before taking them home. The weekend was nearly here and the promise of the Max Rebo concert was compelling her back to Esseles.

Callista Nilar had clearly never learned the lessons of being wary of strangers. The man named Parfait had promised cake and turbolifts. It was all the reason Callista needed to cross into the Imperial garrison where, unknown to her, her mother was being held. "*Woah*!" Her eyes went big. The cake was *huge*!! She stared at it in awe, giving Ewwie the chance to begin consuming it by herself before the little girl broke out in a run towards it. She opened up her arms, tackling the cake. "*Ewwie*! *It's bigger than me*!" She hadn't been paying attention during the rest of the tour. All she knew was that Parfait occasionally promised food and sweets. The turbolift here had been pretty fun too, but not as good as her uncle's!

"Om nom nom!" Callista looked over her shoulder at her cousin. "C'mon, Dru! Eat with us! It's so yummy!" She scooped up a handful of cake. Darting over to Drusilla, she stopped in front of the girl and offered her cake. She smiled. "Try a little?! It's reallllyyyy nommy!" Remembering her manners, she waved at the man. "Thank you, Mister Parfait!"

Iyah Xergo was beginning to crack underneath the pressure, or, in her case, the lack of pressure. It was an infinitely worse torture to be left alone in isolation with her head. Even the Governor didn't spare much time for her these days. It had to be only so amusing to watch Iyah clamp up and reveal *nothing*. She was seated on the floor with her knees to her chest. Her head was hidden behind her hands. It looked like she had lost weight. It looked like she was a shell of a woman she had been before she was captured. Iyah had too much time to think. No one had come for her...why? Mug wasn't the kind of man who would leave her here to rot. His heart was too kind. As the days went by, Iyah began to assume that her fiancé had died in a rescue attempt. Callista was, once again, without parents.

Callista was the light at the end of the tunnel. She kept thinking about her little tot, imagining what they'd do together if she ever got out. On easier days, she was able to pick out the positives of a future with Mug and Callista. On dark days, she convinced herself that they were all dead and that no one would ever come for her.

Iyah could hear Callista's voice as clear as a bell in her ears. "My baby girl..." She sniffed, eyes remaining closed tightly. She could hear Callista's laughter and even the sound of her feet as she pitter-pattered around the house. In her mind's deception, she heard the name *Ewwie*. Iyah's head rose from her hands. Her eyes were bloodshot from crying. Before her eyes, she saw Callista. "*Callista*!" Iyah gasped, rapidly raising to her feet. "Callista?!" She touched the transparisteel wall. It wasn't simply her daughter who was in the room just out of her reach, it was Claudius Rodney's children as well. Her heart rapidly sank down to the pit of her stomach.

Was Mug dead?

Tears streamed down her cheeks and onto what remained of her worn Rebel uniform. "*Callista*!" She cried out, pounding her fist against the wall. "*Get away from there*! *Run away*!" She screamed, fearing that the Governor would hurt her baby girl. "Don't you touch her!!! Leave my daughter alone!"

"I'm glad you like the cake, Callista," Papius said, in a sweet and soothing voice he had practiced extra hard to perfect. "I want to show you something," he said, as he placed a hand on each of her shoulders and gently turned her towards the mirror that dominated the wall. "Look how big you and the cake look in the reflection," he said, as he leaned down and placed his face next to hers. He was looking right at Iyah even though the children could not see. "Wave, Callista. Wave," he said, softly, as he too waved at their reflection in the mirror. He knew exactly what he was doing.

"What?!" Callista dropped the cake at Drusilla's feet and bounced towards Parfait until he took hold of her shoulder. She looked at herself in the mirror, beaming at herself. "My crown looks so pretty!" She told him. "My uncle gave it to me. He made he a princess!" She told the man before she noticed how big she and the cake looked in the mirror. "Wowyyy! You're right! Lookit!" The little girl struck a pose in the mirror. She didn't question what he wanted, she simply began rapidly waving at herself while giggling. "Hiiii! Hi cake! Hi Parfait! *Ooh*! *Hi Ewwie*!" She could see her friend consuming sweets. "This is the best day *ever!*" Callista squeaked. She wrapped her little arms around Papius and squeezed tight.

"Stopstopstopstop!" Iyah was screaming. The Governor was purposely torturing her with her daughter. They were merely a wall apart, or that was the illusion which Iyah was convinced of. She touched her daughter's face only to find the coolness of the transparent wall. "Callista..." She missed her family so much. Her sweet, sweet daughter had been through so much. Mug was gone. Dead. Lost forever. The second time this thought ran through Iyah's head, her knees buckled and she fell to the ground. Her arms were outstretched like she was trying to embrace the small girl through the wall. "Callista, I'm so sorry... I'm sorry... I'm sorry..."

Papius tilted his head slightly to place a kiss on Callista's chocolate stained cheek. "Go eat some more. Play with your friend," he said, before he rose back up, winking at the mirror. "You girls behave. I'll be back to check on you in a little bit," he said, before exiting into the corridor, and locking the door behind him. He gave him a moment to laugh before he entered the access code to enter Iyah's room. "Your daughter is lovely," he said to her, with a warm smile, as he entered. "I wonder if perhaps the answers to some of my questions may change given the circumstances we find ourselves in," he said, as he folded his arms in front of his chest, triumphantly leaning against the wall.

"Okie dokie, mister!" Callista saluted him then bounded back towards her best friend. She embraced a messy Ewwiekewwieikkie. It had been a really exciting trip to Delaya. She *loved* seeing Auntie Zara and Uncle Marcus wear crowns. It was a dream come true for her. The little girl sat down at a table and began to eat. Her little legs swung this way and that. There was no way for her to know that her mother was so close. She hadn't stopped missing her mama.

Commander Xergo was crumpled up on the floor crying. She realized that Callista could neither see nor hear her. If she watched the little girl leave, she would watch her go with the knowledge that she was returning to Esseles. As uncomfortable as it made her feel, her daughter had always loved Uncle Claudius. With Mug gone, she needed *someone* to be there for her. The joyous little girl that she and Mug had adopted was escaping between her fingers. Even if she managed to escape the Governor, she could *not* march into a Grand Moff's home. Her tears fell on the ground. Suddenly, she became aware that she wasn't alone. Iyah's head shot upwards. "What do you want...?" She asked him. "Leave my daughter alone. Callista is all I have left..." Her heart had cracked in two. She wasn't ready to fully realize that the love of her life was gone. She certainly wasn't ready to do it in front of her captor. "I have to hold her!"

"Get a hold of yourself, Commander. Really," Papius said, before snickering down at her and rolling his eyes. "What I want is for someone to come and rescue you, so that I may defeat them and take the credit," he explained to her, with a slow nod of his head. "Even if you were to provide with the location of your Rebel base the credit would go to the commanders in that sector, rather than I, so I truly care not at this point," he continued, as he knelt down next to her. "She is really cute. You know," he said, as he reached out and touched a lock of Iyah's hair. "There, there. There, there," he told her, quietly, but on the inside he was laughing hysterically at her. "I'll hold her for you," he told her viciously, as he rose back up to his feet and backed away from her.

"What?! No one's come?" Did that mean that Mug still lived? That didn't begin to make sense. She had been rotting within her cell for seemingly forever. Papius' words could have easily been lies. Iyah couldn't see clearly anymore. If her Mug was alive, then why wasn't he coming for her? She shivered beneath his dreadful touch. Something inside of her snapped and broke at his cruel, cruel words. "No!" She reached out, grabbing his ankle with her hand. "Don't touch her!! I won't let you touch her!" Her aggression receded almost immediately like she was too exhausted to maintain it. She didn't let go of him. "I'll do anything! Let me be with my daughter!" She cried. "*Callista*!" She yelled out into the room. It was no use. Papius had her at her weakest.

When she grabbed at his ankle, Papius first attempted to pull his leg away, but he did not waste much effort. He took his good leg and swung it around, kicking at her until she released him. "You'll do anything?" he asked, as he looked down at her pathetic form. "When the rescue for you comes you'll have your chance to make yourself useful to me," he said, before stepping out the door and moving back into the corridor. An aide moved towards him carrying a large stuffed bantha, which the Governor took eagerly. "Right on time," he said, before moving back into the room with the girls. "Callista, I have a present for you," he said, as he placed the giant bantha down on the ground. "But first, a hug," he requested, as he reached out and wrapped his arms around her. He held her close to him, patting her back, while staring at Iyah through the mirrored glass.

After he kicked her several times, Iyah's hand released. She recoiled on the ground, pawing at her face where she hurt. "*Don't go*!" She yelled as the door closed. The Rebel Commander sat in front of the door, clawing at it with the tips of her fingers so hard that they soon began to bleed. Her attention was quickly drawn back to the transparent wall. She crawled towards it. "No... Callista... No..." She pressed her face against the wall. "Go back to your uncle, Callista... Mama loves you so much."

The little girl was stuffed. "Eeeee. I ate sooooooooooooooo much!" She patted her belly. The food had been cleared between her and Ewwie. She thought it couldn't get better until Parfait brought in a cute, gigantic bantha plushie. Callista found it in herself to let out a happy shrill as she raced across the room towards him. He didn't have to ask twice for a hug, because the bouncing little girl was more than happy to give them out. "Oooo!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" Releasing him, the little girl pounced the large stuffed toy. "You can come to my tea parties, okay Mister Duke!?" She patted the bantha on the head.

"I would love to go to your tea parties, Callista," Papius said, before looking towards Drusilla, clearly reading the annoyance on her face. "But for now I think it's time for you to go," he explained to her, before moving his hand to the top of her head to mess her hair. "But don't worry, you can take your nerf with you," he told her, before opening the door for him. "One last time, Callista," he said, as he turned her and the stuffed animal towards the mirror. "Wave goodbye," he said, as look of pure evil crept upon his face while waving at the mirror himself.

"Ugh. It's about time," Drusilla chirped, before moving to collect Ewwiekewwieikkie, and moving with her towards the door. The Governor had bribed her with several garments from the fashionable boutiques in Leiliani that he had seized during the ransacking of the city. Originally, he had planned to give them to Ashori, but they made a much better bribe for the Grand Moff's youngest daughter. "Come on, Callista. I need to get you back," she said, waiting for her as the Governor played with her. What a creepy old dude, she thought to herself, as her eyes moved towards the chronometer.

"Awwwwwwwwww!" Callista pouted, showing that she really had been spending a lot of time with the Rodneys. "Okay!" She waved at the mirror. "Bye bye!!!" It seemed like a fun game to her. Of her own will, she squeezed Parfait one more time before skipping away. "I have a meeting with the Ambassador of Candyland!" She reminded Drusilla as they all left together. She had no objections about going back to the estate. She liked it there.

Several worlds away, Iyah was crying. The last wave had broken her. She lay on the floor, withering away as she cried for the family she had lost. Where was Mug? Why did a Grand Moff have to be the protector of her daughter? Why had she ever allowed herself to come back to Delaya? Her hands gripped her head. Her mind was shattered. Governor Papius may not know it, but he had won a battle on Delaya; the one within Iyah's head.

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