Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Liz Dorner and Christopher Levy.
One year before the Battle of Yavin (34:10:9) in the Essessa system: Esseles (New Calamar: Claudius Rodney's estate).
Major Kerrie Kiley, Vice Admiral Claudius Rodney, and Lady Htaere Ka`a Sha`ar.

Admiral Claudius Rodney sat in his study on his estate on Esseles. A small fire was crackling away, providing shadowy illumination upon his aged face. He remained in uniform .. at least partially ... by now his tunic had come unbuttoned, revealing the crewneck t-shirt beneath it. A faint stenciling of the word 'RODNEY' could be seen, applied long ago, and faded by countless washings. A snifter of half-consumed brandy swirled in the firelight, having recently been disturbed. The look on anger and frustration leapt off his face, made particularly more ominous as the light rhythmically danced upon it. Finally his face moved away from the fire and locked horns with the object of his displeasure. "You say you were unable to recover the disk?" he repeated, somehow expecting to hear a different, less irritating answer this time.

The antithesis of this powerful man stood before him in the form of Kerrie Kiley, his ever-faithful and obedient lackey. Her lips quivered slightly before her response this time. In all of the time she had served him, never before having seen him this displeased. The most ferocious of all the Admiral's associates, she reverted into a sniveling child the moment she entered his presence. "N-n-no, Milord," she explained, her voice beginning to crack, "I searched her ship ... but it was not on board. I nearly killed her, but..." she paused, never liking to admit defeat, "she must have had someone with her ... the shot ... it came from no..."

"Enough," Claudius interrupted and raised his hand in a frustrated 'just stop already' gesture. He lowered his head silently and sunk into his chair. He ripped open the remainder of his tunic and reached for his glass. Not bothering to stop to sample the flavor, he merely took another quick swig to begin numbing the anger beginning to build in the back of his head. As he placed the snifter back upon the desk his attention finally returned. "Have you any leads?" he asked, trying to secure some good from this.

"Y-y-yes, Milord," Kerrie eagerly replied to her 'master.' "She entered Hapan space ... of all places," Kerrie explained, noting the irony, "The planet Ut. The Hapan authorities confronted her ... but she escaped." She lowered her head, fearing what she was about to say. "My tracking device indicates the ship is still there ... she must have gotten offworld by some other means."

"Do you have any idea what is on that disk, Major" Claudius asked her, rhetorically. "No of course you don't," he said in a frustrated tone as he reached for the glass. He held it in his palm for a moment, heating the fluid with his body temperature ... higher than normal from his frustration. He sunk in his chair and stared at the liquid once more, but rather than consume it this time he hurled the glass into the fire. The glass shattered and the fire roared to life for a brief moment, before settling back down. "I suggest you start by trying to identify who helped this woman," Claudius explained, not bothering to even acknowledge her with a glance, "They may be helping her again." He paused for a moment, ignoring the woman for a noticeable duration, "That is all."

"As-as you wish, Mi-milord," Kerrie said nervously as she began to back her way out of the room. She had never seen him like this and she had never failed an assignment so miserably before.

Htaere hastened down the long high-arched hallway of the Rodney estate, bare feet silent on the long runner that stretched the length of the corridor. Having settled in for the evening, she was in an elegant yet simple white night gown, and a satiny light robe of soft pink that swirled behind her, grazing the floor as she walked. Long red hair hung down her back and shoulders, brushed out and gleaming. She stopped at the tall doorjamb of Claudius' chambers and looked about, concern evident across her elegant and youthful face. "Claudius?" she called quietly, noting Kerrie's quick departure.

The serene voice of Htaere seemed to break Claudius from the evil trance that had been cast down upon him by the negative report. "Yes, my dear?" he called towards the door that remained open, as Kerrie's exit had been made so hastily that no bother was made to close it. He tried to make his tunic presentable but he was too tired, too fueled with brandy, and just plain old tired to bother. Still, some semblance of his smile appeared upon his lips from knowing Htaere was near.

Htaere moved towards him gracefully, her gait so light it seemed she floated. "What happened? I heard something fall..." she began, her focus pulling momentarily about the room yet finding no trace of disturbance. "Is everything alright?"

Claudius sighed and looked to the small shards of glass scattered upon the carpet in front of the fire. "Just a glass my dear, just a glass..." he said, his mind clearly elsewhere. He shook his head, displeased at the way he was behaving. "Pay it no matter," he said as he turned his full attention towards her, a smile forming upon his lips. "The weight of the galaxy just particularly more heavy upon my shoulders this even," he explained to her, only half-joking.

Htaere came to a halt next to the chair in which he sat, eyes darting to the broken glass for a moment before shifting back to her fiancé. She didn't pretend to understand what it felt like to walk a mile in his boots, and thus could only offer her unyielding support through his trials and tribulations. "I am sorry for your troubles. May I get you some tea?" her eyes locked on his aged face, her expression soft and eager to please.

Claudius' mind immediately considered another glass of brandy, but he thought the better of it and eventually reached the same conclusion as Htaere. "Yes," he said tiredly, sinking deeper into his arm chair, "tea sounds lovely."

She smiled and pivoted on her heels. "I shall be right back" she called as she left the room. Some ten minutes trickled by before she reappeared carrying a dainty silver tray, complete with a matching tea pot, two cups and saucers and a small plate of biscuits. She set the tray on the coffee table and fixed him a cup of tea, moving in front of him and holding the cup and saucer towards him, smiling pleasantly and admiring him all at once. "Here my love. This will help" she urged.

"I fear what might have become of me without you," Claudius said to her sweetly as he reached out and took hold of the cup and saucer. He raised the cup to his lips slowly, extending his pinky in the dainty manner of his noble upbringing. "Mmm," a murmur escaped his lips as it began to sooth his soul. "Please, sit down," he urged her as he took another sample of the fine tea ... his mood noticable improving already.

Tending to her own cup, Htaere took a seat in a chair near his. She sipped her tea a few times before placing the saucer and cup down on the table, and allowing herself to lapse in protocol out of the public eye, she got comfortable in her chair, pulling her legs up underneath her and leaning to one side to rest leisurely against the arm.

"Come now," Claudius began, his smile widening as he began to raise in his arm chair, his posture beginning to return normal, "We mustn't be so glum." He laughed slightly and decided it best to change the mood. "I heard you've had some adventures while I've been working," he said in a curious tone, hoping to stir a conversation as he took another sip from his tea.

"We have been experiencing a variety of local customs. It has been enjoyable" she nodded with a slight grin. "My regret is that you have been unable to join me." Htaere's eyes were pulled to the fire, lulled into an almost transient state by the way it flickered and danced, crackling here and there, all consuming and alluring.

Claudius lowered his head slightly, a bit dejected by how his work has been eating away at his personal life. He raised his head and smiled confidently at her. "That is something I shall endeavor to correct," he said in a reassuring tone. "Tell me about some of what happened," he continued, "As I could not be there allow me at least to know what I have missed."

Htaere's smooth creamy shoulders shrugged beneath the sateen fabric of her robe. "We returned to the markets and spent some time there, and we took in the cometary games on Chandrila, the sun jammer races and swoop bike races and such. It was very exciting to watch, yet quite dangerous."

"Returned to the scene of the crime?" Claudius asked in a joking matter, thought it was not a particularly funny one and he soon realized that. "I'm sorry," he said, his cheeks flush with embarrassment, "That joke was out of place. I was not thinking." He looked down, ashamed. He narrowed his eyes and soon returned his gaze to her. "Did you enjoy yourself?" he asked, hoping to quickly get passed that faux pax.

"It was very uneventful this trip and consequently all the more enjoyable. I had a lovely time. Kerrie tolerates my simple delights" Htaere answered, unbothered by the remark. "I have to admit that I enjoy simply watching the marketplace, the swarm, the scents, the peddlers and fascinates me."

"Did you purchase anything?" Claudius asked as he sat forward in his chair, actually taking pleasure in the mundane routines of ordinary life. He smiled at her and half-considered tearing off his uniform, carrying her out of the room and blasting off the world on the next transport to just enjoy a normal life, but he could not do that ... he had his honor to consider ... it could be quite pesky at times.

"No...but we looked at small companion animals for sale" Htaere thought back on it. "I did not know what to buy" she continued haphazardly. "Much of it seems to be inexpensive items that do little but occupy space."

"Is a pet something you would enjoy, my dear," Claudius asked her with genuine interest. It could be easily be arranged, but honestly he had thought he had already given her a pet in the form of Kerrie ... a somewhat cruel thought, and one he would dare not say aloud.

Htaere's thoughts were interrupted by the snoring. She glanced over to her right, eyebrows lifted as she observed his passing into unconsciousness. Htaere rose quietly, setting her tea down, as well as retrieving his lest he spill it in his lap in slumber. She grabbed at one of his arms. "Claudius, move to the bed" she said firmly to stir him, tugging at him to get him at least mobile.

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