Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:2:8) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Leiliani: Rodney Castle).
Lieutenant Sierra Dakkar, Farrah Ette, Callista Nilar, Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, and Lady Zara Rodney.

"Lalalalalalaaaa..." Callista sang, bounding through the grandiose hallways of the huge castle which was *her* home. There were all kinds of weird, new strangers arriving. Her Mommy and Daddy had been sucked into a meeting with some weird man named Gaius. He never wanted to join her at tea time! The little girl had gone about exploring on her lonesome. There were enough eyes around that she was safe. At least, that was the main idea. Her long, dark brown hair flipped to and fro as she skipped towards her favorite dining area, located in front of a bay window which gave her a view of the whole city. There were two settings at the table already. Tea in one cup in the spot where Iyah or Mug typically joined her, some sugary, chocolate concoction in the little cup directly across from the tea. A plate of cookies completed Callista's idea of tea time.

She only saw the back of a man's head when she approached the table. "Daddy!" She squeaked, darting towards the man who sat at her table. The little girl pounced Claudius Rodney, snuggling her uncle-in-law for a moment. She quickly realized that his shape was all wrong. It wasn't her Daddy. With her little arms still draped on him, she looked up at the man, smiling nervously. "Hi." She squeed. "My name is Princess Callista. Will you be joining me and Mister Kitty Cat?" She said, showing the stranger a stuffed cat wearing a tutu which was shoved under her armpit. "Are you the ... Ambass- ambassa..." She looked like she was thinking hard, "Ambassasasador of candy land? We have important things to discuss!" She crept away from him, relocating to the spot in front of him. She reached a little hand out, grabbing her cup with her pinky stretched dramatically from the rest of her hand. She sipped her drink all lady like.

There was no word more painful in Galactic Basic than 'daddy'. In happier times, Jelena had played in these very same hallways, and for a moment he thought it might be her. When he turned, he saw it was a small little girl, rather than Drusilla. The family was getting bigger by the moment, but was it possible it had gotten so big there were some he did not know? "Princess is it?" he asked, bringing his hand up to his chin to consider this in thoughtful contemplation. Perhaps Jelena's funeral had drawn in nobles and royalty from more than just the Alderaan system. A fitting honor indeed, but no ... she seemed too familiar with the castle. "And who do you belong to?" he asked, as he dropped down into a crouch position to be at her eye level. It was good to see children playing in the castle. It was good to see there'd be a new generation. It was good to see *life*.

Her little head moved up and down rapidly. "Princess!" She repeated so authentically that you couldn't tell she was playing a game. She placed her tea on the table when the man began talking to her. While she didn't recognize him and knew better than to play with strangers, he seemed *really* nice. Her gigantic blue eyes showed off how excited she was for their interaction. The question of who she belonged to seemed to confuse her at first. "Um..." Wait! She knew the answer to this question! She heard what the adults called her Daddy all the time. "The bastard!" She told him excitedly. Her little brows knotted a fraction of a second later. "Welllllll... He's not my *real* dad. He's really nice. He saved me from this place where I used to be. I was really hungry there." She scooted closer to him so that he had no personal bubble. Her legs kicked back and forth under the table. She seemed to be thinking hard again. She reached across the table, selecting a cookie for her new friend. She held it out to him. "My real daddy was mean. He said that there was no reason to keep me anymore since home is gone." She explained to the man, perhaps remembering too much about being abandoned in the camp. "It's okay now. My new Daddy likes to have tea with me." She talked so much, continuing on and on. "He couldn't make it today. He had a meeting with this guy with eyes like this!" Her hands moved to the corners of her eyes. She made her eyes slanted and tried to mimic a snake's tongue with her own. "He's scary," she whispered.

Claudius' look was one of confusion and bewilderment as he listened to the jumble of words escaping Callista's mouth faster than he could keep up. Kids really did say the darndest things, he thought to himself, as he looked down at her. "That is not a very nice word, *Princess*. You should not say it," he said to her, happily, as he continued to look across at her. "Where is your daddy now?" he asked, believing an adult was needed to sort this mess out. When she said her home was gone he wondered if she meant Alderaan, which further complicated the situation. "Alderaan? Was that your home?" he asked, wondering if she even understood the word. "Where was the place where you were hungry? Did something bring you here?" he asked, in a rapid series of grownup questions. He was conducting an interrogation like an Imperial officer, as he desperately tried to sort out his own household. Confused, he simply smiled at her, while continuing to scratch his chin.

Callista's cheeks turned rosy red. She had no idea that she had said a bad word. "I'm sorry, mister. I'll never say it again." Why did everyone call her Daddy a mean name? She was going to tell other people that it was a mean word. Daddy was nice. He deserved nice words! Her thoughts only trailed for a little while. The man was asking her questions. "He's meeting with the scary guard guy." She responded sweetly. The color in her cheeks had yet to fade. His questions were difficult to wrap her mind around. She recognized words and tried to keep up with their conversation. She knew Alderaan for certain. "Yes! That was my home!" She answered honestly. "When my old daddy and mommy came here, they told me it was gone." She confirmed, though she looked confused by her own statement. How is home *gone*? "Mommy and Daddy brought me here. It was crazy!" She said, talking with her hands in motion. "We got to visit the King in a hospital. Daddy saved him. Then we all got to come here and live together." She scrunched her nose. "Can you tell the King to wear a crown again? Please?" It took time for her to find her way back to his second question. She mimicked his movements, scratching her little, bare chin. She thought she was being cool and impressing him. "Not far, I think..." She was trying hard to remember the name of the place. She had heard it before. "Um. It was ... um..."

"That's a good girl," Claudius said, as he reached forward, and hoisted her up in his arms. "Scary guard guy ... you must mean cousin Gaius," he said, as he began carrying her down the hallway in desperate search of anyone to tell him who she was and what was going on. "I'll have to let your new mommy and daddy explain what happened to your old home," he said, uncomfortably, as his lower back began to hurt from even the small weight offered by Callista. "You live here?" he asked, as he rounded the corridors in desperate search of where he could find her parents. "King? You mean Duke? That's my father..." he said to her, wondering about the whole crown business. When she said the word Tarkin he stopped dead in his tracks. "What about Tarkin?" he asked, incredulously, as he looked her directly in the eyes. "What do you know about Tarkin?" he pressed the young girl, forgetting all else for the time being. Even the throbbing pain in how lower back.

"Weeee!!!" One thing she enjoyed more than tea time? Being picked up! She was careful not to wiggle in his arms. Her eyes widened...he knew exactly who the scary guard guy was. She nodded her head. "Mhm. He keeps making Daddy miss tea time." Callista sounded a little irritated by that fact. If she could play with her parents all day long, then she would. "I live with Mommy and Daddy here. My room is big and scary. Mama lets me sleep in her bed." Claudius blew her mind with his revelation. Her little mouth dropped. Her eyes were the size of dishes. "Your father?!" She blinked. "He's daddy's father too! You should meet him! You can be friends!" Callista was running out of information for the man. She thought about where she had come from. She was so hungry and lonely there. "It was home before this home. There were tents and other people like me. They said they had no home too. Mama came and brought us food because we were so hungry."

"Ah!" Claudius said as Callista mentioned the Duke was also her father's father. Perhaps the young Iyah came with a child ... it certainly would not surprise him ... and certainly the word 'bastard' had been used many times to describe his brother. "Is your daddy's name Marcus? Is your mommy's name Zara?" he asked her slowly, as he thought he had finally gotten to the bottom of this. "Tents and other people like you..." he repeated slowly, as she had once again sent his brain for a whirl. "Who are people like you?" he asked, as he wanted to begin screaming until an adult familiar with her story stepped forward to explain this all to him. He let out a weary sigh as he returned to searching out this potential meeting that would settle everything. What *had* his brother done this time.

Her eyes went even *wider*. She loved Lady Zara and Lord Marcus... Lady Zara more, let's be real. She giggled at him. "No, silly! My daddy's name is Mug! Do you know Lady Zara? Isn't she the *best*?!" Suddenly Claudius had become a lot less cool in her eyes. You really didn't compare to Lady Zara. "Mama's name is Iyah." She continued to explain. As if just at the nick of time, Lady Zara herself found them in the hallway. Callista was just the ray of sunshine he needed in his life. The girl was so sweet. Zara had quickly come to enjoy spending time with her. Iyah had informed her of the meeting and asked Zara to fill in during tea time, only the little girl hadn't been there when she arrived. "There you are!" She sighed. She had been looking all over the castle. Literally *all* over the castle. Her feet felt extremely swollen. Still, she was a trooper. She caught up with them. Her hand ran over Callista's beautiful brown hair. Callista squealed. Her little arms wrapped around Claudius' shoulders. "Look, Lady Zara. I made a new friend! His daddy is daddy's daddy." She explained excitedly.

Claudius came to an abrupt halt when she told him her father's name. "Was that your daddy back there? The cup you put the tea in?" he asked her sweetly, trying his best to understand what she was trying to tell him. He had never heard of anyone named Mug or Iyah. "Thank heavens!" Claudius exclaimed when he saw Zara appear on the scene. *Never* did he think he would be that happy to see *her*. "Sister," he said, using a term of endearment and respect, particularly in front of the young, impressionable Callista. "Do you know who this little one is?" he asked her, as he leaned forward, and offered Callista over to Zara. His back would be glad to be free of the burden. It was only then that he caught Zara in a good light, noting the size of her burgeoning belly. "If you'll forgive me for being so bold ... it looks like you'll need the practice," he said to her, with a polite smile, deciding it was best to be civil with his new in-law.

Callista thought he was so funny. She didn't understand what he meant, but it still made her laugh hard. She was still giggling when her number one favorite person showed up. She happily transferred from one adult to another. "Thank you!" She said to Claudius while Zara adjusted the girl uncomfortably.

Zara smiled at her brother-in-law before realizing that she had just been, unintentionally, thrown under the bus. She needed an adult! For appearances sake in front of the small child, she said, "You're not kidding, brother. I hope I spout those extra motherly arms when the twins arrive. I can't imagine doing this with two." Callista exhausted her all by her lonesome. In Zara's defense, she *was* pregnant. Before answering his question, she looked at the little girl. "Sweetie, how about you head to our spot? I'll be there in just a few minutes." This wasn't a conversation she wanted to have in front of an impressionable child. Callista squeezed Zara. "Okiedokie!" She helped escape from Zara's arms. She made a point to give Claudius a hug. "See ya later, mister!" And off she bounded just as quickly as she had appeared.

The smile soon faded from Zara's face. "You've missed a lot. Remind me to send you a weekly newsletter. You'll need it to keep up with what's going on around here. Her name is Callista. She belongs to your bastard brother. I'm *not* talking about my husband either. His name is Mug Zoran. He adopted the girl from the Alderaan refugee camp. Your father recognizes him as a candidate for the Duchy. Frankly, Marcus and I don't want it."

And just like that the little Callista was gone, like a whirlwind. He had no time to be caught up in Callista's fleeing the scene, because his sister-in-law wasted no time in unleashing some of the most astonishing news he had yet heard. "I have another brother?" he asked Zara, his face looking both pained and confused, as he moved towards one of the high back chairs that lined the hallway. He sat down, suddenly feeling very ill, as he placed his head between his legs and tried to catch his breath. "Mug did you say? Is that short for Mugus?" he asked, having never heard of a name as simple as Mug before. "Alderaan refugee camp?" he asked, looking up at Zara quickly with even more confusion in his eyes. "Candidate for the Duchy? I thought Marcus was going to succeed my father? Mother asked me to step aside for him..." it was all moving so quickly, he felt queasy and pale. "Sierra ... get Sierra," he said weakly to her, before the room began to spin, and finally he slumped over in the chair, rendered inert by Zara and her quickly delivered, overwhelming words.

Uh oh. Maybe she should have fed him that information a little slower. Someone had to tell the poor man. Why did it have to be the pregnant woman!? She paled upon seeing him grow sickly. She followed him towards the chair. "Are you okay, Claudius..?" She moved with him. It looked like he needed some assistance. "Your Mother tried to get us to ask you to step aside. We refused." She explained, though she wasn't sure how much he heard. She had overwhelmed him. Zara frowned, wanting to cry for her brother-in-law mostly out of hormonal instinct. She reached out to try to catch him when he slumped over. "Claudius!" Oh god. She was going back to the chalet and never coming back to this damn crazy war zone. He'd mentioned a single name, the name of the girl who had accompanied him to Delaya. She waited no time in summoning her, setting a maid off to rush to her room.

Sierra had spent the morning by herself. The final preparations for Jelena's funeral were finished. Everything was set in motion for the big day. The blonde-headed doctor stood on the balcony located directly off of the room she was currently staying in. Sweet music emitted from a deep black violin that sat nestled between her shoulder and chin. The bow ran over the strings with the perfection of a violin virtuoso. It helped her think. It helped her comprehend the death of her best friend. The cry of the violin echoed through her room.

"Sierra Dakkar!" A woman was pounding at her door, yelling her name insistently. She immediately brought her instrument down from her shoulder. Seconds later, she was across the room. "Lord Rodney has summoned you. It's urgent." The maiden reported to her. Sierra's heart began to pump so quickly that it felt like it might explode. Was he okay? She said no more, resting her instrument down in the closest safe place. She ran with the woman down the twisting corridors. The woman led her straight to the hallway where Zara had abandoned him ("not it!"). Concern showed in her baby blues. She firmly sent the woman away and instructed no one to bother them. She approached Claudius, collecting his slumped over form so that she could help him sit high again. "What's happened?" She asked him. "You look like hell."

Claudius' head lifted slowly as Sierra raised him back up, but then it quickly fell back down again. "Ugh," he groaned, before lifting his head again. His hand moved to his chest, opening his tunic to give him the impression it would be easier to breath. "That woman..." he began, speaking of Zara, as he attempted to focus his vision by blinking repeatedly. "Zara ... she has informed me I have *another* brother, a bastard child of my father, and that is name is, of all things, Mug," he said, wondering if this day could get any worse. "I will meet with this *Mug* and see for myself, but first you must get me out of here," he instructed her, despite his weakened state. "I'm told there is a refugee camp. Why did no one inform me until now of these things?" he asked, incredulously, becoming increasingly more agitated and upset. It felt as if things were being kept from him, either deliberately or accidentally ... he *would* find out what was going on here and Sierra was just the sweet face to help him.

Her eyes narrowed. Zara. What had that woman done now? Was she, a common woman, pleased with how she hurt the Rodney family again and again? Sierra didn't let her own feelings sweep her away from Claudius. Everything he told her was new news. "Another brother..?" The bastard of his father!? The press must have not gotten hold of that information, otherwise they would have heard about it. There was something he said that was much more frightening than Mug Rodney: the refugee camp. It was easier to sleep when you were under the impression that the demons in your head had been killed, blown up on a planet that no longer existed. To think that people who had hurt her may still live... Sierra knew that they'd have to make an appearance at the camp. "I had no idea either. I wonder what else you haven't been informed of. Did she tell you where the camp is?" She didn't press him hard. He was already exhausted.

The small girl moved to his side. She wrapped an arm around his waist. She let him support his weight on her. Sierra was an obedient woman who would do as he said. This time, she was getting him away from the hallway and the bimbo who had hurt him. No one saw them walking together, slumped on one another like they were drunk. Instead of leading him up too many stairs to his room in the spire, she took him to her room below. It would be easier to piece him back together there. She nearly collapsed right in the doorway. Instead, she was able to get him through the door and into her formal sitting area. She sat him on a soft, plush couch directly beside her precious, Alderaan instrument. Sierra remained standing. She paced anxiously for a few seconds. People had survived. There was enough of them that there was a refugee camp. She could already feel the hands of her abuser closing in around her throat. They swept her under dark waters, promising to drown her right in front of the Grand Moff. Finally, she gently moved her instrument and sat beside him, but sideways. One leg was extended off the couch. Her hands guided the tried man to lay against her much smaller body.

"I have lost a daughter and gained a brother. What a journey this has already been," Claudius confessed to Sierra, as he opened up to her, too tired to internalize what he was thinking and feeling. Her room was much smaller than the one above that he was expected to share with his wife when she arrived. He expected her relatively simple Hapan mind to short circuit from these developments as well, he thought to himself, but the notion from his mind for the time being. "I can only rest here with you for a while," he explained to her, as he leaned against her, placing his head with its curly hair in her lap, as he lay all the way down. "I must see to this refugee camp," he explained to her, as his brown eyes looked up to her optimistically. His eyes felt heavy and they slowly closed as he reflected on all that was happening, and all that continued to happen. He was mentally and physically exhausted, but he did not want to act his age and rest ... he wanted to keep going. There was much to do ... he had not even been to visit his father in the medical center yet.

The trip had been hard at face value. She never expected these new developments. A camp? A bastard brother? Sierra didn't want to think about what else might crawl out of the framework while they were here. It was simply to see how worn he was. It would be an act of God to keep his children from seeing him in such a state. Her hands landed in is curly hair. Her fingers massaged his scalp gently. "You must," she agreed with his motion to travel to the refugee camp, "but we don't know where it is or exactly what to expect while we're there. I can't let you walk into that situation. Let me gather information." She wasn't going to tell him to rest. She was going to make it necessary for him to rest. No aging man wanted to hear the words 'slow down'. One of her hands cupped his face. She didn't like seeing him like this. There was still so many things for him to do. The funeral was around the corner, the end of his family's claim, and everything else.

Her scalp massage was the first pleasurable sensation he had experienced since he lost Jelena. "Are you going to make me order you?" Claudius replied, as his eyes briefly opened to smile up at her. He did not have a reputation as a jokester, so he had to make it very clear when he was making a joke. "You must be mindful, Sierra. If the *wrong* people know I will be traveling there they're likely to dress it up for me," he explained to her, the wheels never ceasing to grind to a halt within his brain. "I must see it for what it is, not some organized event. We will travel under the cover of darkness in simple clothes so they do not expect us," he said to her, outlining his plans, as his tired eyes began to close again. "Some tea would be nice," he said to her, as some of what he was experiencing was a product of sobering up and drying out. His hands shook slightly, but noticeably ... this was the last time and place he needed to begin a detox.

Her eyes flickered downward at him. She caught his joke and laughed delightedly. "Oh yes, because you're in the position to order me." Her fingers playfully tugged on a lock of his hair, quickly resuming the massage. "I'll be discrete. Don't worry. I want to see it too. I had ignorantly assumed that there were no survivors, or very few." He drew out a plan for them, a good plan too. With their uniforms hidden, no one would know exactly who they were. Her fingers trembled, if only for a second, when she thought of going to the camp. "I like that plan. It'll provide us with the best, most realistic view of this place." At his request, Sierra reached toward a specific holopad she'd been given when she arrived. It was simple to place an order for some tea. She thought that they would have enough time between ordering the tea and receiving it to make themselves professional again.

Sierra relaxed back on the couch. Her hands resumed their activities, but only briefly. "*Relax*," she whispered. This time, Sierra's hands reached before her to pick up her violin and its bow. She fixed her posture, placing the violin back on her shoulder. Without another word, she began to play the most soft, soothing piece that she could think of.

"Ow"! Claudius yelped as he plucked at his hair, causing a sharp bit of pain that immediately roused him from the state of near sleep he had entered. "Are you good at being discreet?" he asked, but of course he was not speaking about their incursion into the refugee camp. "I didn't know you could play an instrument..." he commented, as he outstretched his legs to become more comfortable. There was a lot he did not know about the beautiful young Alderaanian whose lap his head was in, but one thing he *did* know was that he wanted to know more. The music was very relaxing, and as he began to drift off again he wondered if this was all some elaborate trap to sedate him and keep him from investigating the camp.

Oooh. He was a dirty birdy. She snickered at his comment. "I dunno, am I?" She mocked back with an additional wink. As long as whatever scandalous relationship was happening between them stayed off of the Holonet, Sierra thought she was doing a good job. Her smile grew more. There was a lot he didn't know. There was also so much that she didn't know. Her heart was quickly growing fond of the older man. Being on Delaya made it easy to forget Arden's plan and focus on the Grand Moff. She didn't want to think about what would happen when his wife arrived. They couldn't sneak around, could they? She gazed down at the handsome man. He looked so much better than when she had found him. The music continued. It was doing the rest of her job for her. She saw his eyes beginning to close. The urge to kiss him grabbed at her heartstrings. For the first time, she allowed herself to think an unholy thought: maybe she was better suited for him.

Farrah Rodney had watched the incident in the hallway unfold. The old geezer's ticker seemed to be bothering him. She prayed he would make it easy on Gaius and die right there. The stupid, stupid Imperial bitch came out of nowhere like a damn superhero. She whisked him off into her quarters. Farrah was hungry for revenge on the old man. He'd *dared* treat her like a child as soon as he arrived. She had been scheming in the very chair where she thought he would die when the request for tea came in as a welcomed opportunity to see what was going on behind Sierra Dakkar's door. She had her suspicions about the old Lord and the girl he'd brought. Maybe Claudius would shoot himself in the foot.

She prepared their tea with no poison. She packed the tray with their cups, sugar cubes, and tiny spoons. If she could gather one piece of good information then Gaius would be proud of her. All she wanted to do was impress Daddy dearest. And so, she *burst* into the Dakkar girl's room. There was no knock, no anything. She was simply there, standing in the doorway with a shocked expression on her face. The married Lord had found a nice place to lay his head. She wondered if he was laying his head anywhere else... "Oh! Sorry!" She gasped, placing the tea on the ground shyly. Farrah was gone as soon as she had come, remembering to close the door behind her. Ohhohohohohoho!!! She had seen something astounding. While the wifey's away, the hubby will play.

Claudius only caught a glimpse of the little servant girl, as she was very swift and nimble. He believed she was the same one who came to carry their bags earlier, but he was never one to pay close attention to the servants. "Oh good. The tea," he said, caring more about the hot, soothing beverage than he did the potentially compromising position they had been caught in. He sat up quickly ... perhaps too quickly ... but he wanted to be a gentleman and pour her tea for her. His hands went to the kettle, shaking slightly, but he managed to pour them each a cup of the warm tea. "Milk? Sugar? Honey? Lemon?" he asked, in rapid succession, as he looked over the additives that were included in their ornate, antique tea service. After placing some lemon in his tea he brought it to his mouth and sipped on the hot beverage longingly ... he needed it. "We didn't even get to thank her," he said, as he leaned back on the chair. "It is pleasing to see children in the castle again," he commented, as he plotted their evening escapade in the refugee camp. He would get to the bottom of this.

Why was he not losing his mind? Sierra guessed that, out of everything going on, this was only a teeny tiny thing. She internalized her worries as she set her violin aside. Tea sounded good. Tea helped set the mind straight. She enjoyed how gentlemanly he was, like a true Lord. Her smile spread wider on her cheeks when he questioned her. "Sugar," she answered affectionately. Sierra leaned forward. Her lips pressed against his in a soft, gentle kiss. It wasn't lasting. Short and sweet. Her blue eyes sparkled. She actually enjoyed kissing him. "Lemon and honey please, thank you," she picked up her little cup. She sipped it like she hadn't been caught with a married she hadn't kissed him. Sierra saw her life ending the next time Arden placed her hands on her. If she was going to die, then she was going to spend her last days as she wanted to. "You'll see more and more throughout the years," she commented, speaking more of his brother's offspring than any of her own. Anxiety still lived inside of her. She needed to be strong.

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