Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:5:22) in the Corolus system: Corulag (Curamelle: Concert Hall) and Kwai and in the Essesia system: Retributor.
Flight Lieutenant Haven Anson, Jarrik Coops (deaht), El-Nay Darr, Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, Major Sierra Rodney, and Colonel Arden Zevrin.

Sierra Rodney was extremely displeased. Once again, she was deeply underneath Arden Zevrin's thumb. The damn woman had given her no chance to prepare for her short series of concerts across the Ringali Shell. The first planet on the tour was Corulag. The city of Curamelle was busy tonight. The news of the Grand Moff's wife performing had spread like wildfire. On the positive side, Sierra was raising money left and right. The relief funds would be used across all six planets in her husband's sector ... should she survive this farewell tour. Currently, she was seated inside of a small dressing room backstage at the massive venue Arden was using to embarrass her. Her shaky hands clutched a datapad with a video of her latest ultrasound playing. For Bruce, she was doing her best to manage her stress, fears, and anxiety. For her family, she was willing to bend at Arden's request.

Her bare shoulders were shaking. The dress she wore, which hung off of her shoulders, felt like weightless. She was so cold. She was also scared. The performances of her childhood had been nothing but stressful. Despite how reassuring and wonderful her husband was, once she stepped away from his warmth she began to feel cold again. There was only one other person in the room with her...El-Nay Darr. "I can't do this." Sierra said, turning off the datapad rapidly. She rested it on her vanity and stood.

El-Nay Darr was seated behind Sierra in the corner of the room looking really out of place in her shimmering orange gown. Her artificially dyed blonde hair had just been retreated and had been combed over to the left. "So don't do it!" she said, as she lifted her gown slightly, as it had drooped a bit. "I look ridiculous," she said, as she stood up and moved towards Sierra, awkwardly. When she developed on Corellia all of the local girls were into fashion and makeup, whereas she drifted towards the decidedly masculine sport of shockboxing. This was about as close to being a woman that she had ever been in his life. "You're a Major in the ISB. Your husband is the Grand Moff. You shouldn't have to do anything you don't want to," she said, as she sat her behind down on the top of the vanity in front of Sierra so that she could face her. She had little understanding of the complexities of the Imperial hierarchy.

Even Sierra had to admit that El-Nay's gown was ridiculous. She looked out of place without her armor, but that was exactly as Sierra needed it now. In order to provide protection, El-Nay had to blend in. She offered her friend a little smile. "I'm sorry. I appreciate you dealing with all this humiliating nonsense for me." Now Sierra was back in her debt. She looked up at the Mandalorian. "Indeed he is a Grand Moff, but there's a horrible woman who has her claws deeply into our lives. If I didn't do the concerts, she would retaliate in one way or another. I fear that she'd hurt one of the girls or Claudius..." She sighed. "I feel a total lack of control right now. I don't know what's going to happen out there." She picked up her datapad from beside El-Nay, opening it up and making several motions with her hand. She pulled up a picture of her mother and showed it to her friend. "Rebel attacks are your top priority here, but I also want you to look out for this woman. She's my mother. The most evil being in the universe."

"Why not just kill her?" El-Nay pressed, as she always used brute force as the simplest option. To her no one, regardless of their station in life, was untouchable. "What's going to happen out there is you're going to give an awesome concert and my dress is going to stay up the entire time," she said, with a kind and reassuring smile, before reaching forward with her hand to squeeze her shoulder. Her attention then turned to the datapad, committing the image of the older woman into her memory. "And if I see her, you want me to kill her?" she asked, excitedly, as her face lit up at every opportunity to eliminate a target ... regardless of who they were.

Sierra laughed. She liked El-Nay's line of thinking. It had worked when she thought that Claudius should bring his 'big ass' ship to Delaya ... sorta. "Because the ISB is full of evil like her. If I pluck one weed, then more will spring up where it came from. What if the new weeds are worse? One day I'll kill her. Not today...but in time." It was good to have El-Nay with her. The woman made her laugh and helped her power through her anxieties. She looked at her with relief. A 'thank you' was in her eyes, though she didn't say it. "Only if she gets close. I wouldn't be surprised if my husband let you hug Ewwiekewwieikkie three times if you successfully put her down." Slowly, she stood. It was nearing time. "Remember, this show is being broadcasted on the HoloNet... So if I have a nip slip or my knickers show, I expect you to cover me." Sierra grinned. She headed towards the door leading to the backstage area. Her hands were still shaking. By the sounds of things, Sierra assumed there were a lot of people. She thought of her husband and her family just before she took a leap of faith and walked out onto the stage towards a large piano. She settled behind it, eyeing El-Nay. She could do this. She had done this before. Her fingers began to move naturally across the keys.

"So you're saying if we kill her we'd just have to go on killing people, like forever?" El-Nay asked, her eyes lighting up like Ewwiekewwieikkie when she saw a cake. "That doesn't sound so bad," she commented, before things got serious and it was time for the actual concert. She wished she had some adhesive to hold the gown up, as she felt she was the one in danger of a wardrobe malfunction. She moved onto the stage behind Sierra, taking her position with the other backup singers. While they were graceful and sang in pleasing voices, her dance moves seemed as rusty and unwieldy as a Clone Wars era speeder. She sang along as best she could, wishing she had attended rehearsals instead of studying the layout of the concert hall. Her attention was fixated on the crowd ... there were far more than she expected. Any one of them could be a danger. She wished she were able to wear her helmet with her targeting scanner, but a Mandalorian backup dancer would have drew too much unwanted attention.

It would be like Christmas in July for El-Nay, huh? The massacre would go on until only Sierra and Claudius were left to man the Retributor. A ship that large...Sierra couldn't imagine how to control it. The concert went on. She was forced to not watch El-Nay too much, because her dancing made her want to stop singing and start laughing her rear end off. Slowly, Sierra warmed up to performing. It wasn't like it was with Max Rebo. She got to play her own music live for the first time. Eventually, she made it to the point where she was smiling. Everything was coming naturally. Even her sweet, smooth voice rang out. Her thoughts remained centered on her family. When all was said and done, she'd get to return home to Esseles, unwind with Claudius in a bubble bath, and go to sleep happy as a lark. She made the mistake of looking over El-Nay's way which instantly made her smile grow while she tried to hold back her laughter. Oh man, she was going to give that girl a big hug after the show.

For months Arden Zevrin's agents and mercenaries had wreaked havoc on the worlds of the Ringali Shell. It started simply enough going after known Rebel collaborators, but soon it expanded to people who had wealth that could potentially be a threat. Then it turned to Imperial supporters in attacks made to look like it was the Rebellion. All told tens of thousands of individuals had perished at the hand of Arden Zevrin, but there was one problem ... it had all occurred in the name of Claudius Rodney. The citizens of Corulag has infiltrated the concert, not part of any organized Rebel cell or resistance, but merely people who were fed up by the sudden disappearances of friends and loved ones. Everyone knew who was responsible, or at least they thought they did, and his wife was currently on stage. "Murderer!" the voice called, breaking the silence and interrupting the concert. Some threw produce and some threw rocks, but they were all a diversion for the real threat.

El-Nay stopped dancing the minute the voice sounded, causing her to move forward towards the edge of the stage. Unfortunately, the lights were shining right at her, obscuring her field of vision into the crowd. Suddenly a tomato connected with the side of her head, causing her attention to shift focus. Her hand moved for the blaster beneath her gown that was strapped to her ankle, but it was unreachable. As she was bending over she spotted what looked like a rifle in the crowd, and in a panic she looked towards Sierra. "Gun!" she yelled, as she began moving towards Sierra, but when she was halfway there she heard the sound of the rifle fire. "Shit!" she said, as she closed her eyes, realizing what she had to do. She lunged forward into the air, allowing the blaster bolt to connect with her stomach, shielding Sierra from any danger. She crashed down hard, unconscious by the time she hit the ground, her stomach badly scorched from the impact. As she was in a gown rather than armor she was afforded little protection.

The peace at Sierra Rodney's concert did not last long. The first call of 'murderer' resulted in a squash-like gourd falling on the piano keys in front of Sierra's fingers. Her concentration had been broken. Her fingers fumbled through several keys before she got back on track just as the angry crowd began to rain small rocks down on the stage. She cursed under her breath. Again, she had to find her place. Sierra was trying to give Arden what she wanted, but if things continued to go downhill, she was going to leave. She couldn't risk her and her unborn child's safety. Through the panic beginning in her head, she heard El-Nay's voice.

"Gun!?" She stopped playing and turned. Time was running out as someone from the crowd attempted to kill the Grand Moff's wife. There wasn't enough time for Sierra to react. However, her bodyguard was much more on the ball. Before her eyes, Sierra witnessed El-Nay take a blaster bolt to the stomach. She wore no armor out of necessity. El-Nay had to be in a massive amount of pain ... and the danger wasn't over yet. Sierra scurried towards the Mandalorian, grabbing her by the hands. "Help me!" She screamed at one of the backup singers that hadn't fled yet. The crowd had become more routy. They were revolting by attempting to take the venue down so they had more ammunition to throw at the Governor's wife. With the singer's help, Sierra brought El-Nay into her changing room. They wouldn't be able to stay there long. "Shitttt..." Sierra grabbed her purse from the vanity. The makeshift first aid kit she carried around with her wasn't going to be very useful. "Shit! Shit! Shit!" She cried. She needed to get El-Nay back to the estate. Doctor Bailo had been hanging around to help with all the sick children...maybe she could do something! "Hang on, El-Nay..."

Aboard the Retributor Arden Zevrin watched as the concert turned into mayhem, and immediately moved to refill her drink. "Wonderful. Wonderful," she said, as she turned her attention to the care package that Lieutenant Sheppard's parents had sent to her and that she had intercepted. She watched as the Mandalorian took a blast and chaos ensued. It was better than she could have possibly hoped. "You may begin," she said over the comm, before leaning back in her chair and waiting for the next part of her plan to unfold.

Suddenly there was an explosion that rocked the concert hall, causing part of the roof to cave in crush many of the people who were attempting to flee. With the roof partially open and exposed to the sky the sight of an AT-ST became visible. Stormtroopers began surging forward, arresting anyone and everyone in the vicinity. From the ISB's perspective this had been a success as they had drawn out individuals who were not officially part of the Rebel Alliance, but had rebellious intent. Every man, woman, child, and especially alien, was being rounded up and put into binders to be taken to the garrison for interrogation and likely to never be heard from or seen again.

Claudius Rodney too was watching, using the large monitor in his office. When he saw what was happening he immediately tried to reach the military commanders on Corulag, but the lines were all busy, as per Zevrin's orders they had been preparing for just such an event. Panicked he considered heading into the chaos himself to check on his wife, and that's exactly what he did. With reckless abandon he surged from his office, pushing down the corridors until he reached the turbolift. From there he quickly found his pilot, Lieutenant Anson, and boarded the shuttle that would eventually lead him to Corulag.

There was no traveling with El-Nay like this. Sierra needed to do something to help the situation before attempting to find a craft and run home. "Okay, okay, okay..." She rambled to the Mandalorian's unconscious body as she removed the material of the dress from around the wound. She made do with what she had until an explosion rocked the whole room. She could hear people screaming outside the room, slowly killed by the impact of the fallen roof. The structure was entirely compromised now. The walls rumbled, threatening to all come crashing down. "We can't stay here." She explained to her friend, grabbing the blaster that was attached to El-Nay's ankle. Sierra was in a mess. She couldn't carry El-Nay out by herself anymore. Her help had ran out screaming already. Sierra had no plan. The lack of a plan made her feel scared.

Yet things were only bound to get worse, because a group of people who were incredibly unhappy with the Grand Moff's recent doings were currently combing through the building rapidly. They had something better than produce for Sierra. The young woman peered at the closed door. She could hear people yelling. They sounded drunk and furious. Their boots stomped hard on the floor before coming to a stop in front of the dressing room door. Sierra stepped over El-Nay, crouching on the other side of her body with the blaster in her hand. As soon as the door opened, Sierra began blindly shooting. She refused to die!

When the door opened and Sierra started blindly shooting the lead Stormtrooper fell to the ground dead. The noise at the door had been a rescue rather than an attack. They backed away from the door and considered using stun grenades. "Major Rodney, please lower your weapon. We're here to rescue you," the Sergeant said, before several of the Stormtroopers moved into the room. "Medic!" one of the Stormtroopers said after spying the fallen body of the Mandalorian. The sound of blaster fire could be heard in the distance as the troopers began indiscriminately firing at everyone in sight. It was Leiliani all over again. Arden Zevrin had skillfully manipulated the situation to get exactly the desired situation she wanted, and Sierra had played the part perfectly.

Upon hearing the Stormtrooper, she stopped sporadically firing her blaster. She was breathing hard, wide-eyed, and shaking. Outside, she could hear people screaming as they were put to death both innocent and guilty alike. Only then did she realize that this wasn't about tempting the Rebels. It was about hurting the people living within Ringali Shell. A medic raced into the room to take care of El-Nay, but Sierra said *nothing*. She had allowed Arden Zevrin to play her in the worst possible way. She felt terrible and stupid. Her head fell in her hands. "Thank you, officer. Please see that my friend receives proper treatment." Sierra said weakly. She rose from the floor, passing the Stormtroopers. The smell of death and blood was in the air. It was too much for her head. She raced out of the concert hall. Outside, citizens were being arrested and taken away, never to be seen again.

In the chaos of it all Lieutenant Haven Anson, daughter of Captain Anson, navigated the Kwai towards Corulag. "I'll have you on the surface as quick as possible, Milord," she announced to the Governor, who had said *nothing* since boarding the vessel back aboard the Retributor. With all of the chaos in the city she was quick to ensure the transponder was functioning, lest they be shot down in the battle. As they descended through the atmosphere the city of Curamelle came into view, and the burning fire and smoke on the horizon. It was clear that would be their destination. She could see TIE Strikers from the garrison flying overhead and sight of AT-STs moving down the streets. "Wow," she said, as she momentarily lost composure. Because of her father's protection she had never been allowed near a battle before. She raised the wings of the shuttle and began preparing it for a landing, guiding them right into the concert hall via the hole in the roof created by the AT-ST. She clenched her jaw, a few beads of sweat forming on her forehead as she white-knuckled the craft down into the narrow opening. When they finally landed, she exhaled softly, and unstrapped her safety harness. She then opened the center panel, revealing a pair of DH-17 blaster pistols, should the Governor need one.

Overwhelmed, Sierra leaned back against the outside of the concert hall. This was the exact kind of situation that she had promised her husband not to get involved in. She gave herself a moment to regain some sense of composure, but the lost it again as she spotted the welcoming sight of the Kwai. At first, she felt massively relieved that her husband had come for her. Fear had settled itself into her chest. Until they were off of Corulag, that feeling wouldn't disappear. Tears pooled at the edges of her eyes. Soon, she would be with Claudius again. The hell concert would come to an end.

Then logic overrode emotion. There were many, many people here who wanted *him* dead. It wasn't wise for him to come here! Sierra ran back into the concert hall and towards the center where the Kwai was currently landing. She clenched her weapon. The sooner he intercepted her, the sooner they could leave. She watched the shuttle land, mentally giving the pilot kudos for making do with such cramped conditions. Her excitement was entirely too short lived.

Claudius was in shock. It was not just his beloved wife in danger, but also their unborn child. He had said nothing during the flight, and when they landed he did not even acknowledge the Lieutenant and her adept piloting that got him here so quickly and safely. He ignored the weapons locker, and instead rose from his seat and moved towards the rear compartment. As he lowered the ramp the smell of smoke, fire, and death began to permeate the air. He could hear anguished cries and blaster fire, and as he moved towards the ramp all he could do is hope that Sierra and their child were safe.

Jarrik Coops was a furious man. His family...his *wife*, his *children*, had all been killed in the recent bombings in Brentaal IV. The man had orchestrated many of the riots against Grand Moff Rodney since then. It was he who organized this attack on Sierra Rodney, the woman who would pay for many of her husband's crimes. The mission had been unsuccessful. The Grand Moff's wife disappeared in the destruction of the concert hall. She was gone to him. Opportunity was a friend of lady luck, and Jarrik was given another shot when the Grand Moff himself decided to stupidly show up at an active battlefield. He was still inside of the concert hall, attempting to pull his dead friends from the rubble. As the Kwai shuttle arrived, he ran and hid behind a large piece of the caved in ceiling. He held his sniper rifle level with the middle of the ramp. His breath became silent. His finger twitched on the trigger...

She was going *home*. Despite her worries for her husband's safety, she let herself feel a false sense of security. They were indestructible when they were together. Apart, Sierra felt like a mere mortal. She was standing in a cove within the concert hall, awaiting her chance to race up the ramp to meet with her love. Something caught her eye...the glint of a rifle? Her eyes tore away from the ramp. It was then that she saw the man with the sniper. Acting more on instinct than anything else, Sierra grabbed her blaster, caught the man in her crosshairs, and squeezed the trigger. The blast shot forth from her rifle. It collided with the center of the man's chest, killing him before he could successfully assassinate the Grand Moff. Sierra stood in the debris. Her shaky hands dropped her rifle to the ground. Her heart was all over the place. He was safe, wasn't he!?

Claudius saw Sierra, which made him not notice anything else in the room but her. He never saw the rifle, so when he saw his wife go for her weapon he wondered what was going on. When the blaster bolt flew past him he finally turned, watching her gun down the terrorist. "Sierra!" he screamed, as he tried to move towards her. There were debris and bodies in his way, but he managed to climb over them and eventually made his way towards her. "Are you alright?" he asked her, as his eyes scanned over her body for any signs of distress. His hands too ran over her in case he could feel something he could not see. All he wanted to do was get her to safety. "This is your first and *last* performance," he told her, unaware that Zevrin now had footage of Sierra killing an Imperial Stormtrooper. Her leverage over the Rodneys had only strengthened.

"Claudius!" She began moving towards him. Her entire body felt shaky. He'd nearly been *killed*! She was determined to get him away from this mess, but he was just becoming more deeply enveloped in it. He crossed over the wreckage to reach her. She held onto him. At that moment, she needed his strength. "I'm alright. I want to leave." Sierra had been shell-shocked. She couldn't endure five more of these hellish concerts. She agreed with him...this was the *last* one. "Are you okay?" She said, pawing at him in the same manner that he had done to her. Her hands came to a sudden stop. "We need to go *now*." The situation was only bound to get worse. She refused to provide Arden with an easy opportunity to kill her and her husband. Gripping his hands, she led him back up the ramp and into the Kwai. "S-She played me." Sierra said as she began to cry. "It wasn't about the Rebels. It was about hurting more people. I heard them shooting people outside...people who did nothing." She explained to her husband just before spotting Lieutenant Anson.

Claudius clung to Sierra as she led him back towards the Kwai. "We'll leave. I'm fine," he said to her, as he helped her step over some of the corpses and debris from the caved in roof. Eventually they reached the ramp, and he was eager to leave behind another city imperiled by the Empire he had helped to establish. It sickened him, but he believed it was the work of a rogue officer like Colonel Zevrin rather than the Empire as a whole ... how naive he truly was. "Of course she played you, my love. She is Arden Zevrin after all," he reminded her, having been played by her since the moment she arrived on his staff when first deployed to the Ringali Shell. "Shh. Shh. It's okay. We're okay," he told her, as he raised the ramp behind them, sealing off the horrors of the outside world from them. "Take off. Destination, Esseles," he ordered the Lieutenant, as he moved to help his wife sit down in the rear compartment.

Lieutenant Anson did not look over her shoulder, having been instructed by her father, Claudius' long serving Captain, not to intrude in the Governor's personal life. When the order was given she prepared the Kwai for takeoff, skillfully navigating the craft out of the narrow opening they had landed through. Moments later she lowered the wings of the shuttle and began accelerating through the atmosphere of the planet, leaving the chaos of the burning city behind.

Maybe El-Nay had the right idea. Perhaps killing Arden would end a load of problems. Even Sierra was oblivious to how deep the Imperial corruption rabbit hole went. She did not let go of Claudius as she sat in the rear compartment. In fact, she clung to him the whole way back home. What had happened disturbed her equally as much as what had happened on Delaya, if not more. Claudius had been forced to sign death warrants because of her. It was with his name that Arden continued to cause chaos. It was going to have to end eventually. She cuddled with him until the fear began to loosen its grip from her mind. She had yet to come to terms with the fact that she had killed an Imperial Stormtrooper. Everything had happened very rapidly. Sierra felt defenseless on stage. "Thank you for coming." She whispered, clinging to him. Her and Claudius had survived yet another ordeal. This would only serve to bring them closer together and strengthen them.

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