Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Liz Dorner and Christopher Levy.
Zero years before the Battle of Yavin (35:1:4) in the Malastare system: Warspite.
Vice Admiral Claudius Rodney and Lady Htaere Ka`a Sha`ar.

In the Star Destroyer's well-stocked gymnasium, Admiral Claudius Rodney sat prone upon an exercise bike. In his well-worn, rugged PT gear his legs cycled endlessly on the pedals. The focused look in his eyes illustrated a man with a singular focus ... to fit into his wedding attire. He had caught himself in the mirror earlier and noticed a bit of a bulge since he was fitted for his suit. The relaxed, laid bag lifestyle has gotten to him ... he was slipping and enjoying himself a bit too much at the dinner  table. No more ... however ... he would meet his desired weight by next month's wedding ceremony.

Htaere sat in her quarters, reviewing some files on a datapad regarding the ceremony and some of the arrangements. Not that her mother had given her any real choice in the matter, but had sent her some information regarding the pomp and circumstance that was guaranteed to come, among it, the vids of Htaere's wedding ensemble and that of her maid of honor. She could no help but grin to herself as she contemplated how Kerrie would react when she got an eyeful of what she would be wearing.

The alarm on the exercise bike sounded audibly, indicating Claudius had completed his exercise routine for the day. He sighed, in a deep sense of relief as his legs stopped moving. He reached for his bottle of water and took a hearty gulp. He slid from the bike leaving a puddle of sweat behind. With his towel, he dried the seat the best he could and then attended to his sweaty face. With a groan of discomfort, he proceeded out of the gymnasium and back towards the turbolift to return to his quarters.

Htaere's eyes flickered over the pages and pages of pictures and descriptions, half wishing she could discard it all and simply run off and get married in a robe and barefoot on some beach with no one around. One corner of her mouth dipped in a frown, continuing on through the specifications, a nervous lump growing in her throat with each file as it seemed the countdown had begun.

Claudius quietly stepped into the living chamber of their suite. He was a sweaty mess ... flushed red with exertion and matted hair. The last thing he wanted was for anyone to him before he had time to spend in the refresher. He was halfway to his room when he felt a sharp pinch in his calf. "Cramp!" he thought instantly in terror as the muscle contracted and he dropped to his knees in agony. "Ahhhhhhhh," he screamed loudly for all to hear as he reached with his hands to put pressure on the out of sorts muscle.

Jerked from her quiet lull, Htaere jumped, startled by the sudden outcry. She stood from the desk and hurried to the door, stepping  out into the living room, eyes wide and face pale. Her eyes immediately flashed to the crumpled form of her future husband. "Claudius!" she exclaimed, hurrying over towards him and bending down, one hand resting on the back of his shoulders. "What is wrong?"

"Ugh," Claudius groaned as he looked towards Htaere. He outstretched his leg in great pain, but the muscle needed to be stretched out. "I'm afraid," he said between a deep groan, "That you have caught me at my worst." He rubbed his hands over the muscle several times, applying steady pressure. "It's just a cramp," he explained with a grimace.

"Should I send for a medic for a muscle relaxant?" Htaere asked, disregarding his preoccupation with his appearance. Her elegant hands joined his in massaging his constricted leg to loosen the tissue gently.

"No medic," Claudius replied quickly, eager to avoid embarrassment. He was the commander and had a reputation to maintain. "It will pass quickly," he explained to her as he gasped slightly. "Thank you for your concern," he said sweetly as the muscle began to stretch out and the pain subsided.

As the tension eased, Htaere took the moment to look him over. She canted her head curiously. "Perhaps you are exercising too intensely for your level of fitness" she remarked innocently.

Claudius looked up at her, a nervous expression upon his face. She was right, but could he bring himself to admit it? "I just want to look my best, Htaere," he confessed quietly as he removed his hands from the leg, the cramp subsiding. "It's a special day and you deserve me at my best," he told her as he arranged himself more comfortably on the floor.

"I have never seen you at anything less" she answered smiling. "Feeling better now?" she asked, brushing wet hair from his forehead.

Claudius smiled up at her proudly. She always managed to say the right thing. "Thank you, my love," he said as he reached for her arm and placed a gentle kiss upon her hand. "I am feeling much better," he said happily. He was in no position to stand yet, but he was nearly recovered.

"That is good my dear" she nodded. "My mother sent me a bit of a preview of all the ostentatious glamour she has planned for the wedding. I must admit that I am growing ever more nervous day by day, while excited at the same time. What about you? How do you feel?" Htaere asked genuinely.

"I eagerly look forward to the day when I can declare myself your husband," Claudius said confidently as he looked her directly in the eyes. He loved her and he was ready. There was no doubt.

"Shall I help you to your feet? Are you well enough to stand?" Htaere glanced him over earnestly.

"Why don't you sit for a moment, my dear?" Claudius said to her with an unusual smile. "Let us enjoy the calm before the storm a bit longer," he explained as a light chuckle escaped his lips.

She evaluated the floor beside him for a moment before having a seat next to him and smoothing her skirt. "Very well. Let us keep company for a moment" she nodded. "I am so pleased that you look so well these days, Claudius. I am growing spoiled by your constant presence" she grinned, sidling next to him close.

"Well, my dear," Claudius said with a wicked grin, "We'll just have to refrigerate you to keep you from turning sour, because my presence will never again be far from you." He turned to her and smiled, leaning his face towards hers. His eyes closed as he placed a soft, gentle kiss upon her cheek.

"I hope you are correct, Claudius" she responded dreamily. "Will we be leaving for Alderaan early to oversee the set up and rehearsal and what not?"

"Yes, my dear," Claudius replied to her question. Thankfully, the ease of his new assignment made such travel arrangements easy. "In another day or so we will head to Delaya for preparations and then on to Alderaan," he explained to her, filling her in on the important details. "Do you think you can handle another round with my family?" he asked her, a sly, troublesome grin appearing upon his sweat-ravaged, reddened face.

"Easily..." Htaere answered, recalling her previous dealings with Claudius' father. In truth, her mother and sisters would present greater problems to the bunch of them, and Htaere almost reserved an impending sense of dread for the reunion.

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