Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:2:28) in the Essesia system: Esseles (New Calamar: Claudius Rodney's estate) and Retributor.
Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, Commander Sierra Rodney, and Major Arden Zevrin.

Major Arden Zevrin sat quietly in her office, reviewing a list of individuals from Chandrila she was going to order put to death. The night was growing late and much of the security forces had gone off duty. With Grand Moff Rodney drawn away by a family emergency now was the time to get back to the business of punishing those who were against her regime. She took a sip of wine as she spun around in her chair, whimsically amused by what was about to transpire. No one took such enjoyment in ordering the deaths of innocents than she. She had to admit that Sierra had done an excellent job of quickly ridding the ship of the Governor for her ... perhaps a recommendation for another promotion was in order. As she sat there finding excuses to add others to her list to maximize profits all she could think about was completing the pacification of this Oversector and moving on to a position of greater importance. Perhaps even serving as Director of the ISB was in her future.

Returning to Esseles did nothing to clear Sierra Rodney's mind. The video played in her head repeatedly. She was still fearful that Claudius would reject her and that their relationship was on the rocks. Her mind was so preoccupied that she opted not to return to bed with him. Instead, she remained on the lower floor, slowly drinking her way through his liquor supply. The more drunk she became, the more clear everything seemed. Furry birthed from her depression. This was *all* Arden Zevrin's fault. If she had left Sierra alone, it was likely that she would have found her way to Claudius, fell in love, and married him without holding such a dirty little secret. As her anger boiled, Sierra Rodney made a decision: today was the Major's last day. She would return to the Retributor to carry out the deed. Her death seemed like the only way to make this up to her husband. Tipsy on a strong liquor, Sierra rose to face off against destiny.

Animosity took her from point A, her home, to point B, her enemy's home. The alcohol had become liquid courage. Her mind was sharp and her vision was clear. As the night became later and later, Sierra landed the ship. She robbed the weapons cache first, arming herself with a strong blaster, throwing knives, and several different vibroknives. Cutting the head from the beast was the only way to truly kill Arden. She adjusted her top, having changed from her ISB uniform during her disgust with the Major. She composed herself enough that it didn't look like she had blood lust on the brain ... *much*.

The trip to Arden's office was short. Sierra could have done it with her eyes tightly squeezed. At last, she stood in the corridor. Claudius was at the forefront of her mind, his family following directly behind. With a deep breath, Sierra stepped into Arden's office. At that point, all hell exploded. She flung three throwing knives in the direction of the woman she had come to hate so much. Her face was all screwed up. It was clear that she had been crying by how red her eyes were. "Arden Zevrin!" She yelled. She'd officially become so much more than a fearful psychologist.

Arden was constantly reviewing her datapad when the door burst open revealing a homicidal Sierra. Before she could react, or even begin a witty reprimand, a trip of deadly blades were sent towards her with surprisingly accuracy. One of the blades penetrated just below her shoulder, going through her entire body, and connected with the chair behind her. She was trapped, unable to move, as she was pinned to her makeshift throne. As the blood poured from her wound her cream tunic was gradually increasing in a shade of crimson. Her blue eyes slowly moved towards the intruder, glaring at her with a gaze as sharp as the blade embedded in her. She did not threaten her with death, as death would be too good for her. Instead a plan was already formulating in her mind to wound her so severely that she would feel it the remainder of her life. Sierra had attachments ... and anyone with attachments was vulnerable. She did not cry, nor scream, but instead simply reached up and slowly pulled the blade from her shoulder. When completed there was a sudden onrush of blood that further ruined her uniform. She brought the blade slowly towards her mouth, where her tongue ran against it to taste at her own warm, iron rich blood. When complete she allowed it to harmlessly fall to the ground as she waited to see what outburst the obviously menstruating Sierra would deliver next.

The sight of blood, the smell of it lingering in the air, all drove Sierra to heights she had never reached before. Her heart still hurt badly as it seemed like Claudius' reassurance had not registered, or the whiskey she'd drank had cut out logic entirely. She had no idea if she would actually return home to her husband tonight, or if she would die trying to kill this feline. She watched, in disgust, while Arden made a show of licking the knife clean. Only a vile snake would drink her own blood, Sierra thought. There was so much she wanted to say. She had been injured. Her booted feet stepped forward. All of a sudden, she was holding a long, sharp bladed knife in her hand. "I will kill you," she growled to the woman, now so close that she was within reach. Sierra's free hand reached up. She viciously dug two fingers into the Major's fresh wound. Her other hand gripped the knife so hard that her knuckles were turning red. With her fingers still digging into the woman, she lifted the knife to Arden's throat. "I want you to remove the cameras from Claudius' office."

Arden watched as Sierra moved towards her silently, but she was not impressed at the young woman's temper tantrum. It was somewhat pleasurable to her, despite her wound, that she had succeeded so masterfully at unnerving the girl and getting under her skin. The pain that emanated from the wound as Sierra stuck her fingers in jarred her, but rather than cry out in pain she simply clenched her jaw and grit her teeth defiantly. Her eyes angled downward to the blade that Sierra brought towards her throat, but she was not impressed ... she doubted she had the nerve. "Kill me and you doom your whole wretched House. Your husband will be condemned as both the father *and* the husband of a traitor. His wretched alien daughter will be euthanized, his sole remaining daughter will be made a concubine," she said, with a sneer, as her blue eyes focused in on Sierra. "And then when that's done Delaya will suffer the same fate as Alderaan and the ISB will not stop until the entire galaxy has been rid of Rodneys," she said, speaking so angrily that small droplets of spittle escaped her lips. "Kill me and watch the death of your entire house," she said, before raising her arms in front of her chest, folding them there, despite the pain and the bleeding, as she waited for the Commander's next move.

Her hand bearing her knife was unsteady. It visibly shook against Arden's throat. Could she do it? Sierra had come so determined with such power. The situation was in her hands until Arden brought up Claudius and her family. The Rodneys. Delaya. In her mind's eye, she watched her husband suffer through his wife's death, then Ewwie, then Drusilla, and himself. She would prefer to set him free. It seemed that she would not bring him home the head of their enemy because she *couldn't*. She couldn't do it. She loved him and House Rodney much too much to let them all die. Sierra's shaking hand withdrew from Arden's throat. Her bloody fingers made their departure from the woman's open wound. She was crying. No matter what, Arden would always win. It was over. The Commander turned her back on the Major. She rushed out of her office and didn't stop running until she was safely tucked inside of the shuttle, flying back to Esseles ... but why? What was she going home to? Her bloodlust died out and was replaced with more horrible feelings...

Sierra Rodney had come to nest in the third story of their home; the observatory. She was seated in front of a large window. Her boots lay on the round beneath her legs, propped up on the window sill. In her lap, one could see the glimmer of a bottle of alcohol, though Sierra couldn't bring herself to drink it. Her dark top was stained with Arden Zevrin's blood. She was silently crying again. She desired not to be alone, but to hold her husband, close her eyes, and pretend they were on the back of a thranta again.

Claudius had been sitting in the master suite avoiding Drusilla and Ewwiekewwieikkie. The trip back from Delaya had been a difficult one, as he could not believe that Arden Zevrin, despite all of her numerous crimes against him, had once again stooped so low as to dangle a teenage blonde in front of him to regain her control. He heard the shuttle returning and expected Sierra to soon be upon him, but instead of her entering the bedroom he heard the pitter patter of her feet continue up the next level to observatory. He sat there for a moment, before swinging his tired old legs over the side of the bed and rising to his feet. He exited the bedroom and tiptoed past his daughter's bedroom to reach the stairs that would take him up to the next level. "Sierra?" he cried out into the darkness, as his head reached the next level. When he saw her there with the alcohol, crying, he felt a tremor in his heart that threatened to bring him to his knees. He moved a bit quicker now, rushing to her side, and clinging to her like a newborn. It was then he saw the blood which looked incredibly black in the darkness and a panic came over him. "What has happened?" he asked, as he checked her over frantically for any sign of wounds.

The voice of her husband cut through the demons in her head. "Claudius..?" She looked towards him in the dark observatory. Seeing him made her heart ache. She had betrayed him. She had lied to him. She hadn't even figured out a way to make it better. He was upon her quickly. Sierra could feel his worry in the way he touched her and clung to her. Her hands grasped his shoulders tightly. "I tried to fix this," she confessed to him. "I thought. . . I thought if I could kill her, we'd be free. It's Arden's blood, not mine." Her sad eyes looked up at him. "She won. She *always* wins. When I cornered her, she threatened to destroy our whole family. Delaya as well.." The teenager shivered. "There's nothing I can do to make this better. I can't even show you the truth from the lies. I can't kill her. I can't make you happy." Her hands began to slip away from him. Sierra covered her eyes with her hands. "I'm sorry, Claudius."

"Kill who?!" Claudius asked, as he cradled his wife in his arms. As she spoke more it dawned on him who she meant. "Oh Sierra. What have you done?" he asked her, as his face lost all of its remaining color in the darkness. Despite all of his power on paper as a Grand Moff he knew that the power of the ISB was limitless. They had come close to ending him before, and despite all of their crimes against him and his family he was never able to check their power. He could not understand why the Emperor would utilize such an agency, but his wisdom went beyond his own. "I am very happy, my love. Why would you think I was not?" he asked her, as he descended his face to place a kiss upon her forehead. "You don't have to *do* anything," he said to her, bringing his hands up to move her hair away from her face to get a better look at her. "How badly did you injure her?" he asked her, nervously, as he wondered if even now ISB agents and Stormtroopers were on their way to take vengeance. While he tied to maintain a stoic exterior he did not know if he could protect Sierra and his family from the ISB.

Baby had done a bad, bad thing. Sierra knew that while she sobered up, having not gotten drunk again since arriving home. She was hurty all over. The alcohol would only make it worse. They couldn't risk a Round 2 with Arden, if she had decided to spare the family from Sierra's stupidity. Her face came back into view as her arms wrapped around him tightly. "Because of everything that happened, everything you *saw*. I knew the truth would have to come out someday, and when that day arrived, that everything we've built together would be taken from me. I could have taken a stand against her from the beginning. I could have told you as soon as we were on Delaya. My mind is obsessed with it. I'm just sitting here, waiting to lose it all." She explained to him sadly. "Ahhh... I stabbed her in the shoulder with a throwing knife." Her stomach was beginning to feel sick. Sierra had gone off the deep end, if only briefly. "I don't think she'll send anyone for us. As long as she doesn't know that you know, I'm still of some use to her."

"Put that from your mind. Nothing has been taken from you," Claudius said, as he drew her in close to him, clinging to her in a valiant effort to reassure her. "Tougher individuals have failed to take a stand in front of Arden Zevrin ... myself included," he reluctantly admitted to her, as his mind continued to dwell on the potential danger they were now in. "You know how to use a throwing knife?" he asked her, sounding equal parts impressed and dismayed. "It seems you're full of surprises," he said, before changing positions to lay beside her. His attention moved to the control panel where he began to enter a few keystrokes. Above them the telescope began to adjust, its large and powerful motors began to activate. Gradually the distant Aldera star came into view in front of them. Delaya was visible, as were the other uninhabited worlds of the Alderaan system, along with the cosmic debris that once comprised Alderaan. "I hope that you're right. You're *probably* right, but perhaps we should keep our distance and remain on the surface ... for the time being," he said to her, as he looked at his home that now felt further away than it ever had been before.

It seemed like his words were actually beginning to sink into Sierra's head. She listened to him, nodding her head slowly to his question. It had been important to learn to defend herself after all the abuse. What good it had done when Arden stripped her down to nothing during their first meeting. Before she could get comfortable with him, she ripped off her bloody shirt and tossed it to the ground. She still wore a bra, leaving her semi-decent if one of the children walked in on them. A single arm wrapped around the man she loved so much. She settled with him. Her heart soon began to beat normally. Her blood pressure had been sky high for hours. She watched the telescope adjust above them. Soon, she could see *home*: Delaya. She didn't think of the debris graveyard that lay next to it. Alderaan would never fill that space again. Sierra kissed his cheek. "I agree with you. We'll allow her the time to simmer down before going back." She didn't want to walk in on a punishment. She would take whatever Arden threw at her next as long as it kept Claudius and their family safe. She rotated to her side, scooting up close. "I love you." She sighed. Her fingers sprawled out over his chest. The pain had begun to recede. The only good that had come of this was no longer having such a secret lingering over her head. In time, she would feel lighter. For now, she was going to cling to him for as long as possible.

Unexpectedly Sierra's comlink would beep incessantly until it was finally answered. "Commander Da- ... Rodney," the voice of Major Zevrin began over the comm. It seemed she had regained much of her strength, but never lost any of her venom. "As adjutant to the Regional Governor I must insist you immediately have him sign one of two orders," she said, before hitting the transmit button to send it to Sierra's datapad. The first order was his authorization to arrest and execute the names on her Chandrila targets list. The second order was his authorization to arrest and execute Commander Sierra Rodney for treason and attempted murder. "I am sure whichever order you return to me I will be satisfied, my dear child," she said, before terminating the transmission. Aboard the ship she had a droid tending to her wound and a seemingly bottomless glass of wine to sooth her pain. She was giving Sierra the opportunity to save herself by condoning genocide. That's so Arden!

The sound of the comlink made Sierra curse. Retributions were incoming. Clutching her husband's hand with one of hers, she opened up the link and listen to the sound of the devil's voice. She could hear the chirp on her datapad signifying that the orders had arrived. The color had drained from her face. She reached for her datapad, feeling absolutely miserable about attacking Arden. Was it worth it? Sierra was soon to find out. The transmission terminated before she could speak...not that she had kind words for that woman. "What have I done..?" She held her datapad so that they both could see what orders Arden had sent over. The first was mass genocide. The second was for her arrest and execution. She looked relieved, only because Claudius and their family had been spared. Her eyes flickered up towards him. She couldn't apologize enough for the past 24 hours. Sierra didn't want to die. She also didn't think her life was worth all the ones on Arden's target list. "I support you no matter which you sign." She told him. It was her fault. She should pay.

Claudius took the datapad and without hesitating signed the order authorizing the mass arrest and execution of the innocent targets on Chandrila. In his mind there was never a decision to be made. He would *not* lose Sierra the way he lost Jelena. "You have done nothing," he said to her, as he rolled over onto his side and smiled lovingly at her. "That will buy us some time. She got what she wanted ... *again*. There really is no stopping her. If you had killed her, I fully expect another clone to step forward any replace her," he said, doing his best to convince her that everything was okay. "Always remember ... *she* is responsible. This is not your fault. Don't feel guilty," he explained to her, as he wrapped his arm around her, drawing her even more near. "I love you. I always have, and I always will," he said to her, before he placed a tender, loving kiss upon her supple, young lips.

Whatever doubts still existed inside of her were annihilated when he signed those orders. Instead of choosing to approve her death, he'd signed away the lives of innocents. There was nothing Sierra could do to stop him, or to stop Arden's genocide. Claudius didn't even reprimand her for her actions. He wasn't angry with her. He was affectionate and sweet, which only caused her to cry when he set her free from her guilt. Her arms locked around his neck as tears silently fell down her cheeks. She whimpered. Her lips pressed against his. As her sadness ended, happiness and love surged to the surface. He loved her in the forever fashion. "I love you," she said between kisses. "I always have," her lips danced with his, "and I always will." Everything was okay. Sierra finally saw that they had survived. Now she could rest assure knowing that nothing would take him away from her.

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