Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Liz Dorner, Christopher Levy, and Sarah Riggs-Shute.
Zero years before the Battle of Yavin (35:3:17) in the Brentaal system: Warspite and in the Essesia system: Forbearance.
Lieutenant Allegra Ames, Captain Tiberius Anson, Vice Admiral Claudius Rodney, Countess Htaere Rodney, Lieutenant Bethany Sheppard, Inquisitor Serine Thanor, and Major Arden Zevrin.

Admiral Claudius Rodney stood silently on the bridge of his flagship, the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Warspite. Through a series of massive transparisteel view ports he observed the high volume of traffic that navigated the trade routes surrounding Brentaal IV. There were ships of every type plowing the hyperlanes in the Brentaal system, but an increasing number of them were Imperial as of late. His two hands were clasped at the small of his back as he stood there watching the starships as he visualized the rivers of trade in space. This activity always seemed to relax him.

Soft footsteps indicated the arrival of the ambitious operations officer, Lieutenant Allegra Ames. The daughter of an influential Senator, the young woman relished opportunities to brief the Admiral, but the news she brought this day was sure to sour his impression of her. A hand moved atop her head, pulling the cap from her head nervously. She swallowed before speaking, trying to force some semblance of a smile onto her attractive face. "Milord..." she began quietly, lowering her head as her eyes sunk to the floor. She could not bring herself to look the old man in the eyes.

Claudius sighed as his attention shifted from the tranquility of space to the annoyance of the overeager Lieutenant. He turned slowly, his dark eyes peering down at the young woman. There was a strain in his face and visible dark spot beneath his eyes. The commander was going without much sleep lately, and he was already hours late returning to his private residence on Esseles. "Yes, Lieutenant?" he asked as he brought his right hand up to the side of the arch of his nose, scratching softly.

Allegra's hands twisted the cap she held firmly in her hands, as if she were wringing out wet laundry. "There has been an attack, Milord..." she stammered nervously, still refusing to look him directly in the eyes. She had heard the stories of what happened to Major Kiley when she brought him bad news. She had no intention of being his next victim and her right hand hovered instinctively over her DH-17 blaster pistol.

Admiral Rodney angrily shook his head at the Lieutenant as he looked passed her at the other bridge officers. They were all silent and motionless, with their eyes nervously fixating upon him and Allegra. He could only assume it was a particularly devastating attack on par with the destruction of the garrison on Cormond. "If you are here to inform me that General Zethe's new garrison has been comprised..." he said, his voice raising sharply as his complexion began to redden.

Allegra swallowed nervously, feeling the eyeballs of the other members of the crew on her she could no longer stall. Suddenly, her eyes moved upward as she lifted her head to stare him directly in the eyes. She decided to be quick as if she were pulling off a Band-Aid. "Milord, the attack was on your family's estate on Esseles..." she explained quickly, but before she could explain further the man exploded visibly in front of her ... causing her to backpedal.

Claudius' jaw clenched angrily as he listened to the report from the Lieutenant, the vein visibly bulging in his forehead. He took a step towards her, his rarely seen menacing nature becoming visible on his face. He stood directly on top of her now, his face lowering towards hers as he glared down at her. " family?" he asked, turning his head slightly to the left as he waited for her response.

Captain Tiberius Anson took a nervous step towards Admiral Rodney and Lieutenant Ames, prepared to step in if necessary. The Corellian gentleman would not allow a female member of his crew to be struck by the Admiral for simply performing her duty. His eyes nervously moved towards Commander Hood, whom he noticed did not have his back if it came to blows.

"Your children are unharmed!" Allegra quickly blurted out as she lowered her body mass to shrink away from the Admiral's dominance. She was withholding vital facts, however, but made use of the Admiral's temporary calm to move back towards the safety of the Captain. "Unfortunately..." she added as her eyes rolled up towards Captain Anson, before her gaze shifted back to the Admiral. "...your wife is missing." Her eyes closed slowly, tightening as she prepared herself for a possible attack.

"Missing?" the Admiral asked angrily as his hands subconsciously balled into fists. His face began to twitch slightly as he considered the news, fearing yet another attempt against his wife's safety. He never should have allowed her off the safety of the Star Destroyer. He leaned over the railing and glared down at the Chiss tactical officer. "Contact Esseles. I wish to speak with Major Kiley ... immediately..." he ordered, his head forcing itself in an emphatic nod.

Before Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca could respond, Lieutenant Ames stepped forward again. There was one pleasant piece of information that she had learned, however, and she was not the least bit timid about revealing this news. "Major Kiley is in critical condition, Milord," she explained, using every bit of her muscle control to avoid letting a smile curl upon her face. She never could stand the woman and hoped that the attack on Esseles would prove fatal.

Claudius' hands tightened around the bridge's railing, his knuckles turning visibly white as he clenched the cold durasteel. If the attackers had succeeded in breaching his security perimeter and succeeded in disable his trusted bodyguard he was dealing with more than a band of pirates trying to collect a ransom. He suspected the Rebel Alliance's involvement in this attack and he immediately swung to the other side of the railing to menacingly bark and order to the youngest member of his bridge crew. "Lieutenant Sheppard ... set a course for Esseles and engage the hyperdrive when ready..." he ordered as he slammed a clenched fist down upon the railing above Bethany's head.

Lieutenant Sheppard gasped softly as she viewed the Admiral's anger finding its way in her direction. She had never received an order from him directly before. The more she thought about it ... the more she felt the two had never even addressed one another. She staggered back, unable to speak, unable to look at him in the eyes. She backed up against the control panel, her head moving up as her eyes desperately sought out Captain Anson for guidance.

"Lieutenant!" Claudius shouted angrily as he leaned over the railing to point an angry finger at her menacingly. "You have your orders. Do not look to him. Execute my command!" he commanded, spittle flying from his mouth as he shouted, descending towards her like tiny raindrops. He was about to jump over the railing and operate the controls himself when he felt movement behind him.

Captain Tiberius Anson placed a reassuring hand on the Admiral's shoulder as he attempted to calm him and change his rash thinking. "Milord," he began calmly as he tried to reason with the man. "...we are needed here to monitor the hyperlanes. Lieutenant Trainor can have a ship prepped in moments and we can get you to Esseles just as quickly," he explained, his voice calm and quiet, speaking almost directly into his ear so that the other members of the crew would not think he was going against his commander's orders.

Admiral Rodney cringed as the Captain's hand touched down upon his shoulder and he pulled away uncomfortably. "Captain Anson," he said angrily, his voice making their conversation noticeably less private. "You have a daughter. You had a wife once. We must bring the full might of the Warspite to bear against this situation..." he explained as his eyes once again moved down to the young woman.

Captain Anson sighed as he realized the Admiral's position could not be swayed. Shaking his head slightly, he turned to the railing and looked down at Lieutenant Sheppard. He paused for a moment and his eyes closed slightly before he nodded his head affirmatively. "Set a course for the Essesia system," he said slowly, before moving away from the railing to converse with Lieutenant Ames. "Send for Doctor Tohan..." he whispered quietly to Allegra as his eyes roamed back to the Admiral.

"At once, Captain," Allegra said quietly as she hurried off the bridge towards one of the nearby turbolifts. In the back of her mind she worried that this would begin the end of the Admiral's command, which troubled her as she had not been given an opportunity to manipulate his second-in-command. She could only hope the matter would resolve itself before all of her plotting and scheming would be invalidated.

In the crew pit Lieutenant Sheppard spun around and her hands moved swiftly over the controls. She closed her eyes and swallowed, trying to do her best to regain her composure. The navigation computer needed only a moment to download the coordinates for the nearby Essesia system, and her attention shifted to the hyperdrive controls. "Hyperdrive engaged!" she announced excitedly as she thrust her hand forward on the controls, sending the massive hull of the Warspite surging forward into hyperspace. The sudden and unexpected jolt would be felt by all aboard the vessel.

Several hours had passed and Htaere had been moved in a cold, dark room about the Guardian-class light cruiser Forbearance. The room had a metal plank that served as a bed and had neither mattress nor sheet. There was a metal table and two chairs in the center room and only one light, that barely seemed to illuminate the small, cell. The most visible feature was a large one-sided transpirsteel window that allowed the ISB to observe her, without Htaere being able to observe them. While the vessel had retreated from the Essesia system and the scene of their crime, Htaere's body had been unceremoniously dumped in the room without any medical treatment. They would wait for her to wake up on her own to begin the interrogation.

From the dark recesses of her unconscious mind, Htaere's hearing was the first to surface, followed by voluntary thought, and soon thereafter, her eyelids twitched. Slowly they opened, taking a few moments for her focus to return. Her mind raced as it processed her location, taking in the strange surroundings while simultaneously recalling the events that had led to the current moment. Her body ached horribly, as did her head neither of which she could explain. Slowly she tried to push herself up, her motion occasionally grinding to a halt as she hit a painful point in her range of movement. Taking the room in, she felt her heart rate skyrocket again. A part of her simply could not decide if she was really dreaming.

The door to the room opened quickly, revealing the familiar, but unwelcome sight of Major Arden Zevrin. She was followed by the disturbing sight of a hovering IT-3 Interrogator droid, which followed behind her like a faithful pet. If Htaere were not so naive, the mere presence of the droid might cause her to reveal the information the Major wanted. As they cleared the threshold, the door snapped closed behind her, sealing them in the small room. "Sleep well..?" she asked, one gloved hand moving to the back of the one of the two chairs in the room. Slowly she dragged the chair across the room, the metal on metal screech causing a shrill noise to flood the entire room. She laughed slightly, allowing her womanly form to gently cascade down into the chair. "Were you a member of the Rebel Alliance before you met the Admiral ... or did they corrupt you after you got here?" she asked, setting down her recording rod on the table that was adjacent to her. She tilted her head to the left, offering a fake smile as she waited for a response.

Htaere winced at the sound of metal on metal. She blinked at the officer strangely, still trying to gather her bearings. " Hapan..." she said, eyes flashing towards the strange droid. "Before I met the Admiral, I was in Hapes." She struggled to get to her feet, grasping for the edge of the table for assistance.

Arden laughed slightly, shaking her head at the dimwitted Hapan. Her hands moved to one another as she slowly peeled each of the leather gloves from her hands and tossed them aside on the nearby table. A hand then rose to the top of her, pulling off her uniform cap and then tossing it with the gloves. Her head shook side to side as she lowered her long, blonde hair. She would take her time and she wished to be comfortable. "So you joined the Rebel Alliance after you arrived in the Ringali Shell..?" she asked as she took a moment to run her uncovered hand through her voluminous hair.

Htaere's head cocked, confused. "I am not, nor have I ever been a apart of the rebellion. Claudius says they are terrorists." She thought for a moment, padding carefully to the other chair and drawing it out from the table. Smoothing her dress, she sat down. "I do not understand what is happening. Why do you think I am a spy?" she heaved a sigh, rubbing the mysterious sore spot on her side. Even in the sterile and ominous walls with dirt on her gown and her face livid, Htaere still looked regal and graceful, the gem in her forehead still glowing softly.

"It seems that your husband may have some sense left in that washed up brain of his..." Arden said cruely as she leaned forward on the chair to glare at the Hapan more intently. As she fully expected the Hapan to be executed for her crimes, she had no objection to speaking her mind freely. "I have all the evidence I need to convict you..." she said smugly, her hand moving to pull a datapad from a pouch on her utility belt. "However, it will take a confession to appease the doddering old fool you married..." she said angrily as she hurled the datapad at Htaere angrily. "Sign it and you will die painlessly..." she promised, doing her best to offer a genuine smile. She was lying of course, but she would attempt to be merciful if it would make the matter pass more smoothly.

Htaere flinched, turning her head to protect her face from the datapad that flew at her. She let it drop to the floor, gazing at it before looking at the Major, studying her strange colored uniform. "I shall not confess to something I did not do. I am 'not' a spy" she maintained. "Please, if you speak with him, he will verify this."

"The old fool would verify your identity as the Grand Vizier of the Galactic Empire at this point..." Arden said mercilessly, shaking her head at the ignorant Hapan woman. She viewed this woman in the same light as the Admiral's adopted Squib child, but she was beginning to think the Squib might be slightly ahead of the woman. "You have bewitched him and used him to turn over valuable information to the Alliance..." she reiterated, her right hand raising slightly as she pointed with two fingers towards Htaere.

The IT-3 Interrogation droid slowly floated towards Htaere, two electrodes emanating from the droid's spherical body as it moved directly in front of her. Electricity began to flow through the electrodes, causing sparks to fly from each tip. Suddenly it surged forward, attempting to jab both of the electrodes into the young Hapan woman's left arm for a period of six seconds.

"How dare you speak of him as such. I have turned over nothing. I do not involve myself with Imperial business" she answered, becoming frustrated. Her attention was pulled towards the electric current jumping off the probe tips. As the droid moved towards her, she jumped slightly, startled by the sudden movement. What she didn't expect was the contact it made, pumping the current into her via the probes pressed to her arm. She leapt from her chair, crying out in pain and slapping at the droid with her right hand to end the pain. "What are you doing?!" she yelled towards the blonde haired woman, her expression genuinely hurt as she realized the last pangs of diplomatic resolve to this issue were disintegrating, if they ever existed.

Arden did not flinch as the Hapan made her dramatic outburst, calmly crossing her left leg over the right as a small smirk curled upon her Kuati lips. "Now, now ... that is not very becoming of a Lady," she snickered softly, wagging her left index finger at the droid as she ordered it to cease activity for the time being. "That was the low setting," she explained as she looked down at the nail on her right index finger ... she needed a new manicure. She sighed, more at the state of her nails than the situation with Htaere. "Oh," she said as she refocused herself on the Hapan, her eyes rolling towards the droid. "It has the ability to burn very flesh from your bones," she explained in a cold, calculating voice. "I had the opportunity to demonstrate it on your lapdog many years ago..." she recounted, the cruel grin seeming to never fade.

"You...are the one who tormented Kerrie?" she asked slowly, backing towards the wall as her eyes vacillated to the droid nervously. "You should be ashamed that the staple of your alleged 'career' " as she said the word, Htaere put an edge to her tone "is brutality. How gauche and very working class" she finished, a feisty gleam in her eyes. She was Hapan after all.

"Major Kiley was once a valuable Bureau resource..." Arden explained as she relived past memories during her time under mentor, Wulf Yularen. "...she failed me, however, as she failed you just now on Esseles..." she added, snickering softly as she considered the fate of her old operative. Pity that such a resource was wasted, but she was not herself lately. "This time she paid with her failure with her life..." she recounted, shaking her head in disappointment as she offered a fake frown.

"Kerrie has never failed me" Htaere countered quietly. She reflected on her last sight of Kerrie, the major's lifeless body laying in the grass. Htaere's eyes clamped shut to snuff out any tears that may be starting. "You will be held accountable for all of this when light is shed on the mistake you have made" she remarked. "Then we shall see who's career ends in death."

"Oh I intend to be held solely accountable for this ... triumph," Arden said confidently as her hand subconsciously moved to the badge of red and blue squares affixed to the left breast of her tunic. "Hmm..." she murmured quietly as she observed it and began to daydream. "I expect to be a full Colonel after this. It is not every day someone catches the most successful spy in an Imperial Oversector," she explained to Htaere, quite proud of her accomplishments.

"I am afraid that your expectation is nothing more then a lofty delusion" Htaere answered, finding her own amusement in how catastrophic this woman's failure will be when the facts come to light. "It will be disappointing for you I am sure. I suspect the mere retention of your job will be slim to none in chance."

"You will not be alive to see it," Arden said calmly as she rose from the chair. She took a moment to adjust her cream-colored tunic as she walked across the room to where Htaere had carelessly discarded her datapad. She sighed, bending at the waist as she scooped it off the ground. She studied the text for a moment and raised her right eye brow. "Hmm. Typo..." she commented to herself before suddenly and unexpectedly swinging it towards Htaere's face in an attempt to catch her off guard and smack her senseless.

Missing any clue completely, Htaere stood where she was, perfectly still as a target. Without so much as a fraction of a second to react, the blow Htaere dead on, busting the flesh as it snapped her head to the side. The youngster cried out in pain, staggering at the loss of her equilibrium. With one hand on the wall she guided herself to the corner where she turned her back to it.

Arden held the datapad, which made quite the makeshift weapon, as she turned to watch the young woman cower in the corner. "Pathetic..." she commented as she placed the datapad back on the table. Her fingers moved towards the woman again as she sat once again, but this time she found herself on top of the table, casually swinging her legs back and forth beneath it as they hung below her.

The IT-3 droid moved, this time a single probe moving from the droid's body. There was no electricity this time, instead the tip of the probe simply glowed an ominous shade of red that clearly indicated it was scorching hot. The probe surged towards the small of her back, attempting to burn right through her clothing and burn her flesh below.

The moment before the hot iron made contact, Htaere's breath locked in her throat, eyes desperately trying to focus as she tried to shift away from it. The sensation was excruciating as the fabric and flesh melted on contact. This time Htaere's screams echoed further beyond the walls. On the verge of meltdown, a fleeting last opportunity presented itself, and in a brazen move, Htaere lunged for the chair she had previously been seated in, grabbing it white-knuckled and in a spectacular and surprising spin, pulled the chair with the upward momentum straight for the droid.

Arden's hand again moved away from Htaere as she watched the droid's movements with sheer delight. It was always fun when they chose not to cooperate. After all, she had used considerable resources in undertaking this mission and it seemed a shame to wrap it so quickly. "Who is your contact in the Rebel Alliance? Where do you meet with them?" she asked a series of quick questions, hoping that some tidbit of information would escape Htaere's dimwitted lips.

Htaere let the chair rest for a moment as she caught her breath, glaring at the woman. "There is no contact. I am not a spy."

Arden moved her left hand up to the bridge of her nose and rested her head for a moment, letting out a deep and tired sigh. "If you think your defiance will somehow earn you my respect ... you are mistaken," she said as she slid forward on the table, letting her feet plop down on the deck. Without uttering another a word, she walked briskly from the room, exiting through the door that quickly resealed behind her. The droid, however, remained. From the adjoining room she would watch through the transparisteel, hoping she would have more to convict her than merely a n illicitly-obtained data disk.

Htaere watched the woman leave, a near hysteria starting to bubble up inside of her. Her glossy grey eyes moved to the droid, watching it skeptically. Her fingers still curled around the back of the chair, she gripped it tightly, waiting for the droid to move within range.

Using a control panel in the adjoining room, Arden manipulated the IT-3 droid to do its bidding. A syringe extended from the droid that seemed to have an unending series of protruding tools that aided in its interrogation techniques. As it moved menacing close towards her, the droid attempted to plunge the syringe into her upper back and inject her with a powerful hallucinogen. Arden could only smile behind the transparisteel, nodding confidently to the other ISB operatives who were huddled in the room.

Htaere's brow furrowed, her teeth gritted. Again she gathered her strength and swung the chair at the droid like a giant paddle.

The droid was rattled by the swat, flying back against the far wall and shattering in a fierce electrical display. The debris sprinkled down the deck like snow flaked, causing Arden to sigh in frustration in the other room. She snatched an E-11 blaster rifle from one of the Enforcement operatives hands and fiercely exited the room, wasting no time in re-entering Htaere's cell. Deactivating the safety, she double-checked that the weapon was set to stun and leveled it at Htaere's chest. "I will sent the bill for that droid to your husband..." she commented as she took a step closer towards the Hapan.

Htaere's eyes focused on the blaster muzzle before lifting to the agent's face. Her eyes narrowed for a moment, sizing her up. "Let me go. I am innocent. I want to go home" she stated loudly.

Arden had no time for the Hapan's attempts to plead with her, and the soft flesh of her delicate fingers wrapped around the trigger of her confiscated E-11. An expansive coil of blue energy emerged from the barrel, heading directly towards the cowering Hapan noblewoman. She had done enough for the first day.

Htaere's body instantly went slack, relaxing into deadweight and dropping to the floor with a resounding 'smack'. The young woman would come to realize that the unconscious state was preferable to the conscious one in this hell.

Arden walked over towards the shatter remnants of the IT-3 Interrogation droid and let out a dejected sigh, shaking her head in disgust. "Someone clean up this mess," she ordered to no one in particular as she moved towards the table. She placed her gloves inside of her cap, using it to carry her accessories as she began to move from the room. "...and bolt the chairs to the floor," she bellowed, moving through the small light cruiser towards a compartment where she could rest.

Usually, Inquisitor Thanor would be shadowing the good Admiral on all occasions when the man was on duty, but just recently she had come into the possession of a creature that she was oddly fascinated with. This beast being a shadow Nexu that she had spent the good portion of the day attempting to domesticate with little success. Serine stood confidently in the center of her room focused upon the freshly wounded creature before her, enticing it to attack her. The chambers had been completely trashed. Deep claw marks were imbedded in the walls, flooring and even the ceiling, All of the furniture was a splintered mess, the bed was shredded and in some areas, pools of blood had collected. The creature snarled in both rage and pain towards the woman as it readied yet another attack. Serine's method was simple, to continuously beat the Nexu into submission until it could no longer even stand to lunge at her. She figured only then would it respect, fear and follow her orders. As the Nexu sprang towards her once again, the ship reared suddenly, shoving both the creature and Serine up against the wall of the room with a thud. The contact with the wall was not severe enough to halt the feline's advancement, allowing it just enough opportunity to bite down upon the Inquisitor's thigh. Caught by surprise with the ship's lurch, she was unable to effectively prevent the attack causing her to scream as numerous teeth sunk into her flesh. Her eyes gleamed with fury and agony as Serine began to viciously pummel the creature with her fist over and over again until both her hand and the Nexu's face was covered in bright crimson. It had no choice but to finally give up Serine's leg. With a gurgled whine, it slumped into a slowly growing pool of its own blood that oozed from the many lacerations on its face. And yet, Serine's house plant was miraculously unharmed.

As the Warspite traveled through hyperspace the Admiral was poised on the end of the long walkway that spanned the bridge. His face was pressed almost directly against the transparisteel viewport, looking out at the blue hyperspace corridor they were passing through. He felt every inch he moved closer brought him closer to the recover of his wife.

Lieutenant Allegra Ames quietly stepped up behind the Admiral, carrying an ornate, silver tea service. Mixed with the tea was a mild sedative provided by Doctor Tohan, who believed the best course of action was to medicate him without his direct knowledge. "Tea, Milord..." she said as she offered him a cup of it, doing her best to smile at him and seem the polite, well-mannered woman that her father often described her as.

The Admiral turned suddenly and swatted the tea away from her, in no mood for refreshments. "You should be at your station gathering information on the space traffic that has passed through the Essesia system in the past twenty-four hours. Not doing your half-assed impersonation of a waitress, Lieutenant!" he snapped angrily as he turned his glance away from her and stared off through the viewport again.

Allegra sighed as the tea splattered across her uniform, causing the work the young Ensign had done to make it look immaculate go to waste. The silver platter crashed on the deck in front of her, causing a loud and uncomfortable *clang* to erupt through the bridge. She grumbled as she got down on her hands and knees and began to clean up the Admiral's mess. Someone of lower rank was going to pay for the insult she had just been subjected to. As she lifted the debris she shrugged to the Captain, the Doctor's plan failing miserably.

The ship lurching before was curious... she needed to investigate what the situation was on the bridge... but she was hardly presentable. Taking a look down at her battered armorweave, she noticed huge gash marks in her suit that exposed severed flesh and she was bleeded. But nonetheless, she was far too determined to do her proper duties aboard this vessel and she couldn't let a newfound pet distract her. The Nexu laid beaten and defeated at her feet, saturated with the blood around it, and its breathing was uneven. Perhaps the beast had learned that fighting her was a losing strategy. She would afford it some kindness, petting the black fur boldly, knowing full well that the creature was far too exhausted and in pain to resist. Despite that she looked like something the cat dragged in, literally, the Inquisitor exited the demolished room to limp slowly down the corridor, leaving drops of blood ever so often, some of it was hers, some of it was the Nexu's, and she made a mental note to visit the good Doctor Tohan after she found out what the issue was on the bridge. After some time, she finally arrived, looking terrible, but that didn't distract from her sharp attention. "Please inform me on the situation, Admiral."

The Admiral turned his head slowly, looking down at the young Inquisitor. disdainfully. She looked terrible and had no place on his bridge if she was going to present herself in such a manner. "Inquisitor Thanor!" Claudius said as he took a step away from her to prevent any of her blood from spilling on him. "Before you set foot on this bridge you will see that you are made to look presentable," he warned her, his attention immediately drifting from her to stare back out the viewport longingly.

Rodney was in a rare mood obviously, something was definitely perturbing him and he was withholding that information. However, he was correct, Serine should not be bleeding on the bridge, though the situation had hardly afforded her a chance to freshen up. Eyes scanned the bridge, nothing seemed to be out of order, at least nothing she could see. "Very well, I will return." The Inquisitor abruptly turned to head off to get medical attention.

Admiral Claudius Rodney lowered his head slightly as he forced himself to stay awake. He was beyond exhausted and not eaten since this ordeal began. His wife was out there in the darkness in the hands of an unknown force. He had no idea what horrors she was being subjected to and he felt powerless to help her. He had failed to protect her and it was not the first time. He did his best not to cry as he stood there on the bridge surrounded by his officers, but on the inside he was being torn apart. "I am coming for you, Htaere..." he vowed, actually speaking it aloud as he raised his head to stare into hyperspace.

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