Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Christopher Levy and Sarah Riggs-Shute.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:1:24) in the Essesia system: Retributor.
Liliya Benedt and Major Arden Zevrin.

It was difficult for Liliya to gauge how long she had been unconscious. Her systems had severely overheated and had been forced to suspend all processes and programs. It could have been hours or longer until her circuits had cooled down enough to allow a reboot. There was a soft stir and a gentle audible moan coming from the woman as she slowly flickered back to consciousness. A bit groggy and confused, she wearily peered around the room but it was nearly pitch black so she could not make out any distinguishing characteristics. At that moment, Liliya went to move and quickly realized she was restrained against a chair. "Oh ... oh dear," she said softly as hands traced over what felt to be ropes around her midsection. It was apparent that her legs were also bound but it was curious that her hands were not. Liliya continued to blindly outline her predicament as fingers delicately ran over the wooden chair attempting to locate whatever could be of assistance to her. The last memories she had was ... with Major Zevrin, and it confounded her to think that the woman would take her captive in some capacity. The secretary then remembered with dread that she had dropped her datapad with the confrontation and thus her report went undelivered to the Governor. Surely he would notice she went missing ... again? It was a desperate hope that perhaps he would have enough initiative to inquire of her location. Eyes once again tried to peer into darkness, and her voice was obviously timid, as this situation had never befallen her before. "H-hello...?" She asked in a fragile manner to the void before her.

Major Arden Zevrin sat across the table from Liliya, having waited for the poor, young woman to *finally* awake. "Hello," she said, almost sweetly, before clapping her hands together to signal she wanted the lights back on. In an instant the darkness was gone and it was revealed they were in sitting in front of a small, circular table, with a delicate white table cloth. On the table was an old tea service, complete with all the essentials. To the right and left of them there were giant stuffed animals in the two other seats. Arden had thrown a tea party. The room itself was not like a cell, or any other cabin aboard the ship, and was instead brightly decorated like a children's room. She rose from her seat, and made her way around the table towards Liliya. She reached over the woman's shoulders and took hold of the tea kettle, before pouring into the antique cup that sat in front of Liliya. When it was nearly full, she placed the kettle aside, and whispered sweetly into Liliya's ear, "One lump, or two?"

The moment that lights flashed on, Liliya had to shield her eyes from the sudden intensity before her eyes adjusted and she could get a good look at her surroundings. She was wholly surprised, and that look of shock was very evident along with a decent amount of confusion. The room had been completely black just a moment before, and she would have never been able to guess there was a table set for tea right in front of her. Though she could not fathom what was going on at this moment, she felt the need to load her Alderaanian etiquette program so she could properly converse with Major Zevrin, despite the absurdity of the situation. Eyes drifted to the stuffed companions to either side of her, and Liliya was not sure what kind of odd fantasy the Major was fulfilling at this time, but she could at least do her part to perhaps get out of this situation unscathed. "No sugar, please," said gently as worried eyes traced the circumference of the small child's table. Her knowledge of courtesy and noble decorum allowed her to pick up on the fact that Arden served her tea first before the stuffed animals to her sides, meaning Liliya had the seat of honor at this diminutive table. Despite being a droid, Liliya was fully capable of consuming beverages and food, so she was not at all concerned with whatever the Major may serve her. Her attention drifted to the assortment of fine pastries, many of which were a delicacy, and she soon understood, despite the eccentric backdrop, that Major Arden Zevrin had exquisite taste.

"You're already sweet enough," Arden said, as she moved away from the sugar dish, and circled round the table to take her own chair. "Please. Help yourself to the food," she said, as she poured herself a cup of tea, adding two sugar cubes, and lemon. "I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss your position," she said, as she lifted the cup of tea, extended her pinky, and took a dainty sip. "Eat!" she yelled across the table, noticing the fact that she had a waist as narrow as her mind. She crossed her left leg over her right, smiling across the table at her. For now she was playing the role of the polite host, as the last thing she wanted was the young woman to lose consciousness again and have to start this conversation over again. She had created, in her mind, the most idyllic setting for the childlike Liliya.

"T-thank you," she answered a bit hesitantly with Arden's bold compliment as there was nothing else she could fathom to say in response. As she was politely instructed, Liliya gathered a couple of pastries upon the intricately designed and beautiful small porcelain dish she had been provided with. She admired the dainty little sweets quite fondly but perhaps that had annoyed her host, as that sharp yell from Arden caused Liliya to squeak out a tiny startled yelp. "Of ... of course," she eased out, a bit fearful of the woman before her and uncertain to her mental state to organize such peculiar extravagance. Gracefully, Liliya retrieved the proper dessert fork among the multitude of other dining utensils present and began to partake in the pastry. She consumed small cut pieces of cake with proper dignity as she respectfully gave the other woman her attention between bites, but it was also out of concern in case the Major did something hasty. "My position, Major Zevrin?" Liliya asked out of interest, perhaps her hard work ethics were being noticed ... or perhaps, she dreaded, so too was the unsightly advances the Governor performed.

"Yes, my child," Arden said, still speaking in her uncharacteristically soft and sweet voice. Oh, how it pained her to speak in such a manner. It was a voiced that had been reserved for superiors like Wulff Yularen in the past, and having to use it on this woman ate at her severely. But this was the next step in a carefully orchestrated plan, and she knew that if she did not walk on eggshells around the woman, she would likely step on a landmine and foil her own plot. "Remind me of your job title and description," she said, as she took another sip of her tea. As she placed the cup back down upon the saucer. She then forced her lips into a smile with the same exertion that a weightlifter would use to raise a 500 pound weight. It hurt severely to hold her lips in the position, and she began to tremble, but she allowed it to stay there long enough for it to register with Liliya before releasing it, and resuming her cold, emotionless demeanor.

After Liliya finished the last of her pastries, she took a small sip of tea to clear her palette. She could tell that the beverage and desserts were of very fine quality and craftsmanship, in both the consistency and ingredients chosen. Despite her initial nervousness, she was beginning to settle into this atmosphere and company as she was very good at adapting to the situation when necessary ... if given enough time to do so. Major Zevrin's request for background information prompted Liliya to explain the situation as if Arden did not already know. "My services were gifted to the Governor by Bail Organa." Perhaps that was not the best choice of words as motives seemed questionable at best for all parties involved, but it was the only way she knew how to describe it. "I am but a simple civilian aide," she added to ensure that Zevrin did not assume too much here. This line of questioning brought out a few red flags in her mind, as the information provided should be well known to the other woman along with everyone else in this oversector that served the Regional Governor. Concerned eyes looked down upon the table before her for a moment before they met with Arden's once again. "Was ... there something I could assist you with, Major Zevrin?" There was definitely something amiss here, and it made the aide a bit uneasy.

"A gift?" Arden said, as she reached forward to grab a single tea biscuit. There was dread silence before there was a loud *crunch* as she broke the biscuit in half with her teeth. It was a metaphor for what she wished to do to Liliya, but could not ... yet. "It is fortunate that you were gifted, or you likely would have been blown up with the rest of the Alderaanians," she said, before involuntarily laughing and nearly choking on the crumbs from the tea biscuit. She quickly realized she was risking short circuiting the woman again, and brought the linen napkin to her mouth to cover it. After a few moments, she cleared her throat, and took another, much needed, sip of tea. "So you aide the Governor with the administration and operation of the Oversector?" she asked, already knowing the answer. She was speaking slowly and with a patronizing tone, as if she were speaking to either a child or a mentally disabled individual. "This is all very interesting," she mused, before another audible sip from the cup.

Liliya really did not want Zevrin to take what she said the wrong way, but that hope seemed impossible, almost as if she was property, or a slave ... but it was an Alderaanian custom, not something tasteless or derogatory. Perhaps it was best to let go and move on, despite being downcasted as the star of inappropriate rumors spreading throughout the ship, there was just no fighting that battle. Instead, Liliya decided to comment on the more dramatic comment Zevrin made regarding the complete annihilation of her homeworld. She had to feign melancholy here, as truth be told, Liliya was not 'born' on that planet, the only problem that had caused was Liliya's inability to report the collection of private and classified documents she gathered, which was her main priority. Saddened eyes fell to her empty dish before her as a mournful look crossed her normally optimistic and cheery complexion. "Yes, I have reflected upon that reality myself." Liliya chose not to expand upon that information, since she knew Arden likely did not care, nor did she wish to accidentally disclose anything that could destroy her cover. Major Zevrin's second point brought up yet another obvious repeat to the previous discussion, which once again worried Liliya. Perhaps the aide was not doing her job correctly ... perhaps this peculiar tea party was some unknown ISB front and disciplinary action was close behind. She didn't think she was subjected to anyone's opinion of her performance except the Governors, but being tied to a chair changed that perspective really quick. "Is ... is that not to your liking?"

"Since I have relieved the Governor of the burden of administrating and operating the Oversector, and merely retain him as a figurehead, then is it not logical to think your position with him is no longer necessary?" Arden asked her, again speaking very slowly, while arching a left eyebrow while examining her. "You know what I hate, Liliya? May I call you Liliya, incidentally?" she asked, as she rose from her seat at the table and circled back towards her. She began to undo the ropes to release her from the chair, slowly. She did it exceedingly close to Liliya ... much closer than she needed ... and the young woman would feel each of her warm breaths fall upon her. "I hate regifters. During the holidays when people take a gift they did not want or need, and then re-gift it to someone else ... it's just the worst," she said, as she let the final rope go and Liliya was freed. She then moved closer and sad down on Liliya's lap, placing her face right in front of hers. "Despite my aforementioned distaste for the process, I have decided that Claudius will regift you to me, as I have greater need of you," she said, with a genuine smile, as she waited for the young woman's expected reaction of horror and dismay.

The reaction was most certainly of trepidation and Zevrin would be rewarded with a slight tremor of fright that briefly shook the woman's small frame. Liliya did understand the terrible situation that Arden had placed upon Claudius, but she never considered it could reverberate through his support staff, or that the Major would even *want* Liliya to serve her. Claudius had always treated Liliya well, with care and respect, perhaps a bit too well, but that was only a mild set back, not something she would fault him on. She believed all was needed was an honest conversation and their professional relationship would spring back effortlessly. Liliya had no reason to ever betray that man, he needed her help more than ever, desperately even, and she cared for his well-being. Of course she was programmed to serve him, but that was secondary to a sincere desire to guide and support him through his darkest of days ... most of which were caused by the woman that now sat so intimately upon her, sitting in her lap even. Liliya did not think she could ever look Claudius in the eyes again if she destroyed that bond of trust they had built, she didn't even think she could live with herself, and would likely be forced to completely delete every file from her databanks regarding it just to function without severe guilt. "I can't ... I won't!" She said with determination, that clear defiance gleaming in eyes that looked at Zevrin. "He cares for me, I will not betray him."

"Very well, my child. I respect loyalty. You may not have noticed, but people around here don't normally have that trait," Arden mused, as she smirked at the young woman whose lap provided an unsatisfactory seat. There simply was not enough meat upon her bones to provide the equivalent padding of the plush cushions she was accustomed to. She extended her arm with the wrist device that controlled the bomb affixed to Jelena's heart, and offered it to Liliya. "Go ahead then. Press the button. Then I will no longer have leverage over the Governor," she reasoned, speaking quite logically with a nod of her head. "Then the Governor can return to his duties and you can return to yours. Then I won't need an aide and he will. You can return to your status quo, ho hum life. Perhaps even break out the black dress for the funeral," she reasoned, flailing her wrist wildly at the young woman, almost daring her to press it. "Besides ... she doesn't even like you," she reasoned, in the particularly logical and cold fashion of the ISB.

This decision put Liliya in the crossroads of many avenues and she quietly contemplated her options while Arden continued to sit upon her. She knew how much Claudius loved his children, and would never wish them harm. Though the words the Major spoke were logical and Liliya could appreciate their legitimacy, human emotions and actions were far from logical, and the sudden destruction of Jelena Rodeny could potentially have adverse effects upon Claudius that could not possibly be foreseen or calculated. Liliya also realized that this was the Major's one playing card in her hand, as she knew, but it was a really good card. Calling out a potential bluff could potentially force Zevrin to act upon it, as unlikely as that would be, but it was a risk all the same. Eyes followed the shape of that wrist strap that housed the button, Liliya still in heavy thought, far longer than what Zevrin might have thought for her 'weak and inadequate' mind. Betraying her charge was going to be devastating to her, but losing his daughter would likely be way more damaging. This was not a problem Liliya was programmed to handle, nor did she believe she was suitable to have the life of another in her hands. Finally, she came to the conclusion that was very painful for her, but necessary. Her gaze fell to her lap in defeat as a right hand uncomfortably rubbed her left arm. This was going to tear Claudius apart, but she had little choice but to submit to Major Zevrin's will. "I will need to retrieve my datapad," she said softly to the other woman, acknowledging that the other had the control she sought.

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