Major Arden Zevrin cleared her throat as she stood at the base of
the ramp of Admiral Claudius Rodney's Lambda Shuttle. She took the
time to adjust her tunic carefully, going over the talking points
she had prepared. It would be her first one-on-one conversation with
the Admiral and she wanted to make a good impression.
As Zevrin made her way up the ramp into the passenger compartment of
the shuttle, she came face-to-face with Major Kerrie Kiley, the
Admiral's ever-present adjutant. She and Kiley exchanged glances
briefly before Kiley proceeded into the cockpit. Zevrin turned her
head to follow Kiley's departure, but the Admiral interrupted her.
"Welcome aboard, Major," Admiral Rodney said politely.
Major Zevrin's head immediately snapped forward to look at the
Admiral. A forced smile appeared on her lips. "A pleasure to serve
under you, sir," she said cordially.
"Please," the Admiral began politely, "Take a seat."
Major Zevrin nodded to the Admiral before taking her seat across from
him. She folded her hands across her lap and awaited permission to
"Now," Admiral Rodney asked, "What is on your mind?"
"Well," Zevrin informed him, "I have received a directive from the
"Yes?" the Admiral questioned her. He was not used to having COMPNOR
intervene in his affairs and did not like the sound of this.
"COMPNOR is concerned that the recent attacks near Brentaal may
cause some misguided individuals to believe that the rebels pose a
threat," Major Zevrin explained, "It is our desire to show that
the recent attack was an isolated incident ... the work of a one time
terrorist, not the actions of a rebel cell."
"But of course it is the work of a rebel cell," the Admiral
interjected, "Or else we would not have been deployed to the
"Well, yes," Major Zevrin said with a nervous laugh, "I know that
and you know that, but there is no reason for civilians to know
The Admiral nodded to her before continuing, "How does COMPNOR
suggest going about this charade, Major?"
"Your family, sir," Major Zevrin explained.
"My family?" the Admiral repeated, unsure of what she meant.
"Yes," Major Zevrin continued, "COMPNOR feels that if you move
your family into the region it would show your personal confidence
in the region's safety."
"But," the Admiral replied, "The region is not safe. Surely the
rebellion would target them."
"This fledgling rebellion is no threat, Admiral," Major Zevrin
assured him, "Your family will be well protected."
"I believe that is what your predecessor, Colonel Eklon, said,
Major," the Admiral informed her condescendingly.
Major Zevrin did not appreciate that comment and it took every
effort to avoid losing the polite smile she had forced upon her face
since entering the room. "The Select Committee feels this is of the
utmost importance," she explained to the Admiral, "I am afraid they
are quire insistent."
The Admiral sighed and waved his hand towards her. "Fine, fine," he
reluctantly told her, "Is there anything else?"
"No," Major Zevrin said with a wide smile, "That will suffice for
now. The Select Committee will be very pleased, sir."
As Zevrin turned her head, the door to the cockpit once again opened
and revealed Major Kiley.
"Major," the Admiral began in a tired voice, "Inform Ran that there
has been a change of plans. Set your course for the Alderaan system
... and raise my parents on the comlink."
Major Kiley raised her eyebrows as she received her instructions.
"At once, sir," she replied before returning to the cockpit.
Moments later Kiley's voice was heard in the passenger compartment
once more, "I have your mother on the comlink, Admiral."
"Mother," Admiral Rodney said with a smile as he looked at a
holographic image of his elderly mother, the Duchess of Delaya.
"Is everything alright, son?" the Duchess asked in a concern tone.
"Yes," the Admiral explained, "Yes ... everything is fine. Look ... I do
not have time to explain completely, but I need you to have Drusilla
made ready to move within the hour."
"She is not going to like that," his mother quickly interjected.
The Admiral sighed before his reply, "Does she ever like anything?"
"You spoil her too much," his mother was quick to point out.
"Mother," the Admiral replied, "Now really is not the time. I am
also going to need you to contact Jelena on Alderaan and tell her to
"Alright," his mother told him, "When you get here your father wants
to have a word..."
"Time is a factor here, mother," Admiral Rodney informed her.
"It will only take a few minutes," the Duchess reassured him, "And
besides, he is your father."
"Alright mother," the Admiral replied, "Just make sure the girls are
"I love you," the Duchess told him.
"I love you too, mother," the Admiral replied in an embarrassed
"Touching," Major Zevin interjected as the comlink shut down.
"Raise the Warspite," Admiral Rodney said to those in the
Moments later the familiar sight of Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca, the Warspite's Chiss tactical officer, appeared through the comlink.
"Lieutenant," the Admiral began, "Give me a status report."
"The squadron is nearly ready to depart, sir,"
him, "All should be in order by your return."
"About that," Admiral Rodney replied, "I am going to be delayed. My
family will be joining us. Inform Captain Anson to prepare quarters
for my daughters and our new COMPNOR liaison officer."
Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca's face briefly showed her confusion. Now was
not exactly the best time for the Admiral to bring his family aboard,
she thought, though of course she would never voice her discontent.
"Understood, Admiral," she replied, "Warspite out."
Jelena Rodney looked at the Alderaan star setting on the horizon.
She raised her hands to her face and tried to wipe away the tears
that had been welling in her eyes. She sighed deeply, sniffling to
clear some of the mucus that had filled her nose.
"What's wrong, Jelena?" the familiar voice of Princess Leia asked.
"Oh," Jelena said startled, increasing the pace of wiping away her
tears, "Nothing ... nothing's wrong, your highness."
"How many times do I have to tell you," Leia said sweetly, taking a
seat on the ground next to her, "You don't have to call me that."
"And how many times do I have to tell you?" Jelena replied jokingly,
"You know that I am required to call you that."
Leia put her arm around Jelena's shoulder. "Now tell me," Leia asked her,
her voice filled with compassion, "What's wrong?"
"My father is forcing me to move," Jelena informed her dejectedly.
"Move? Leia questioned, "Why? Where?"
"Brentaal," Jelena said disgustedly, "He has a new long-term
assignment there, and he wants us to join him."
Leia's face turned grim. She knew of the rebellion's plans for
Brentaal and as much as she wanted to warn her friend, she knew that
she could not. "Brentaal's not so bad," she told her friend, "At
least it's not the outer rim."
"Yeah," Jelena attempted to smile, "At least..."
"Do you need any help packing?" Leia inquired.
"Thanks," Jelena replied, "But I cannot ask you to do that your
"No," Leia jokingly replied, "I didn't mean me! I meant my
"Oh," Jelena said as the two girls burst into laughter.
"Hey," Jelena asked, "Wasn't there just some rebel attack near
Brentaal? I hope it's not dangerous."
"I really don't pay attention to things like that," Leia informed
her. She had become a good liar.
"Mother ... father," Admiral Rodney said warmly as he entered his
family's estate on Delaya. He embraced his mother first, giving her
a polite kiss on the cheek. Then he turned his attention to his
father, connecting in a firm shake of the hand.
"I am glad you came, son," his father informed him.
"I hope mother explained that I really do not have much time,"
Admiral Rodney replied.
Just then, the Admiral's comlink began to beep, signaling that he
had an incoming transmission. "I'm sorry," he politely said to his
parents, "It will just be a moment." He then activated his comlink,
"This is Admiral Rodney ... go ahead."
"Admiral, it's Lieutenant Trainor," Randi informed him over the
"What is it, Ran?" the Admiral asked her.
"There's a problem with your daughter," Randi responded.
"Is she alright?" the Admiral frantically questioned, "What
"She's fine," Randi replied quickly to alleviate his concern, "It's
just that she's saying that the ship is too small. I mean we fit her
stuff on board ... well most of it anyway ... but she's demanding that I
go get a bigger ship and that this one is, and I'm quoting here,
'absolutely dreadful.' What do I do, sir?"
"Have Major Kiley drag her aboard if you have to, Ran," the Admiral
instructed her, "We don't have time for this."
The Admiral placed the comlink back within his pocket and turned his
attention to his father. He was embarrassed that they had to
overhear the conversation he just had, but he knew they were aware
of just what a brat Drusilla could be.
"Now," the Admiral shifted his focus back to his father, "What is it
you wanted to talk to me about?"
"I have spoken with Baron Zoran," his father informed him, "And we
are in agreement that a marriage between you and his daughter
Octavia would be ideal."
"Father," Admiral Rodney replied angrily, "We have been over this
time and time again ... I am not going to remarry."
"Son," his father pleaded, "I am an old man and I cannot go on much
longer. When I die I want to know that the family line will go on. I
need a male grandchild."
"What about Marcus," the Admiral questioned, "He is still young,
perhaps he will give you that grandson."
"I do not understand it," his father lectured, "Lady Octavia is
beautiful by all accounts."
"She is also half my age," the Admiral Rodney quickly replied.
"Since when did things like that become problems," the Duke replied
only half jokingly. Not amused by this, his wife threw him a quick
glare of discontent.
"I am not going to marry again," the Admiral informed his father
"I know you are hurting from your loss, my son," his mother said
His father sighed. "It has been nearly fourteen years," his father
pointed out, "It is time for you to get on with your life. Julia
would not want you to be alone all this time."
"I do not have time for this," Admiral Rodney replied, "I really
must get going."
"Will you at least meet her?" his father implored.
"If it will end this discussion," Admiral Rodney frustratingly told
his father, "Yes."
"Excellent," his mother said, "Leave all the arrangements to us."
Jelena stared at the glistening skyline of Aldera as she stood on
the ramp of the shuttle her father had sent for her. She lived her
entire life on Alderaan and she was not ready to leave and go out
into the galaxy. She smiled at all of her friends from the Select
Academy for Young Ladies. She had hoped to join most of them at the
University of Alderaan at the start of the next term, but now that
would be impossible. She wanted to be strong and not cry, but
looking at her friends now made it nearly impossible. She raised her
hand to signal her goodbye and then walked up the ramp to join her
As Jelena made her way into the shuttle's passenger compartment, she
could hear her younger sister Drusilla complaining as usual.
"But, daddy," Drusilla whined, "I don't want to move. I like it
here. I like my friends. I like our home. I like our servants. I
like my room!"
"Honey," her father explained, "You are going to love Brentaal and
we get to spend time with each other. It's been so long since we had
time together as a family."
"I don't care!" Drusilla said as her face sunk down into a pout.
"Your sister is taking the move well," her father pointed out, "Why
can't you be more like her?"
"Obviously she isn't upset because her room wasn't as big as mine!"
Drusilla pointed out to her father, "My new room better be twice as
big or I'm not going to be happy, daddy!"
"Don't worry," her father said to appease his youngest daughter, "I
have selected a marvelous estate. When we get there, I'll even take
you shopping and you can get a new outfit."
"Only one new outfit, daddy?" Drusilla greedily inquired.
"And, daddy," Drusilla began to explain, "There is this awful thing
on my foot and it hurts terribly."
"It is just a verruca," Doctor Pilaq Tohan, the Admiral's personal
Ithorian physician informed him in his distinct stereophonic
"A what?" the Admiral asked his doctor in a confused tone.
"A verruca," Doctor Tohan restated.
"Isn't it an absolutely ghastly term, daddy?" Drusilla interjected.
"Do not worry child," Doctor Tohan informed them, "It is merely a
wart on your foot."
Drusilla's face sank deeper as the doctor seemed to downplay her
condition. Drusilla continued, "It is all of these cheap shoes you
force me to wear, daddy. They are ruining my feet!"
"Your shoes come from the finest shops on Alderaan," the Admiral
"Well obviously the finest shops on Alderaan are not very fine after
all, daddy," Drusilla responded quickly, "You're just going to have
to replace all of my shoes with brand new ones from the shops on
"Whatever you want, dear," the Admiral informed her.
Drusilla's face curled into a wide smile as she once again managed
to get exactly what she wanted. "Now," she continued, "About my new
room, it is going to need new furniture. What I had before simply
will not do. That was good for Alderaan, but this is Brentaal."
Jelena turned her head away from the argument as the shuttle moved
further away from the surface. She slumped over as she watched
Aldera grow increasingly smaller in the viewport. She sighed and
said a silent goodbye to her home.
"Do you think Jelena will be okay?" Leia asked her father through
"Brentaal is shaping to turn into a war zone," Senator Bail Organa
"Is there nothing you can do?" Leia pleadingly asked her father.
"I can make no promises," Bail informed her, "But I will alert the
sector command to be extra careful."
"I hope nothing happens to her," Leia said dejectedly, "It's not her
fault her father is commanding the Imperial forces in that region."
"Honey," Bail said quietly, "We always knew one day the war would
touch us all. The cause is just and, come what may, we must restore
"I know, father," Leia replied, "I know."