Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:5:17) in the New Alderaan system: New Alderaan (New Aldera) and Retributive Strike.
Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, Lady Jelena Rodney, and Commander Sierra Rodney.

'New' Alderaan. It was nothing like the Alderaan of Claudius Rodney's youth. He saw in the cockpit of the Kom'rk-class starfighter/transport that his wife had borrowed for their little misadventure. As he looked out at the developing camp site it reminded him of the refugee camp on Delaya, only it seemed much bigger. It was not just his people out there, but it was also his half-brother, and even his own daughter. All the courage in the world could not have gotten him out of his seat at that moment. He was too ashamed to face them, and if he did they would likely convict him of war crimes and execute him. "Okay. I've seen it. Take me home," he said to Sierra, in a rare display of cowardice. He could face the enemy in battle, but he could not walk amongst his defeated, broken people. He held himself responsible for their plight for failing to keep Governor Arundel from unleashing his garrison on them. After all they had been through perhaps they would be right to stone him. He lowered his head, unable to look no longer.

Sierra Rodney piloted El-Nay's old Kom'rk-class starfighter like it was the prettiest lady in court. She worried that something would happen long before they reached New Alderaan, yet, *somehow* they arrived. The ride had been relatively smooth. Each time she saw 'New' Alderaan, it brought on a mass of nostalgia which settled in her throat. Her home planet had been such a beautiful place. No matter what the Rebels did, they could never restore Alderaan. The planet's debris had nearly killed her. She'd seen it all up close...there was no putting it back together again.

While the engines powered down, Sierra unbuckled herself and rose. She stopped in front of Claudius, who insisted she take him back home. With concern in her eyes, she looked down at her husband. She understood the guilt he felt and the standards he held himself too. She, too, wondered what else they could have done. She recognized that this was the most useless kind of masochistic thinking. She wouldn't let him be drowned by it. Sierra offered both of her hands to him. More importantly, she offered him her *strength* to carry them both through this. "Come with me. This may not make you feel as miserable as you think." Her hands closed around his to begin swaying him up to his feet. "Don't you want to see Callista's house? I *know* you do."

Claudius said nothing, but ultimately relented and rose from his seat, giving her a glance to indicate he knew she was right. The black hooded robe he wore did much to conceal his form and hide his face, as most everyone in the camp would be somewhat familiar with his identity. "Oh let's get on with it then," he said, as he reached out to take her arm as he moved down the ramp towards the surface of the planet. "Lead on. You're the one that's been here before," he said, quietly, as there were even some around who would know him by voice. He was surrounded by his people but he felt like a foreigner. He was a stranger in a strange land.

This wasn't made to be easy. Everything that happened on Delaya had formed a hard pill to swallow. Now, what was left of the people of Alderaan were camped out on a Rebel planet and they were powerless to do anything about it. Flipping her deep blue hood over her head, Sierra led the way out of the old ship and down the ramp. She recognized that even though it hadn't been long since the last time she was on this planet, it had changed. The Rebels were rapidly building dwellings for the refugees. The situation here would, in theory, continue to improve.

Sierra chose to lead him towards Mug Zoran's home first while idly wondering where Jelena was...where *Rikka* was. "They're putting up homes quickly." She commented quietly. They were unwelcome here. Here, among the people who had endured so much. Mug's home stood by itself on a block where foundation was laid for other homes. It was easy to recognize it from Callista's drawings. The big tree that stood before the house had a single tire swing dangling from it. There were drawings in the dirt beneath it, and even a small, pink bucket and shovel left outside from the last time Callista had been home. Sierra wondered if Mug had left yet. That man had his own war to fight against Papius Arundel. "This is it." She said. There was a tuff of blue hair caught up in a bush just outside the door to the home.

Claudius kept his head down as he walked with Sierra through this bustling camp that would soon become a city, already sensing that the people seemed happier than when he had seen them in the refugee camp on Delaya. When he came to a stop in front of the house that Sierra indicated belonged to his half-brother, he lifted his head and gazed upon it slowly. He laughed softly, before turning his head to her. "Who do they have designing these homes? This looks to be the work of a child," he explained to her, unaware that Callista had in fact designed the home. "We should go in case he's home and spots us," he said to her, nervously, as he had no idea how the man would react to his presence. Half brother or no half brother, he still wore the uniform of the government that held his fiancé captive.

Sierra laughed, "I wouldn't be surprised if it was. Should we let Callista remodel our home?" She joked with him. Callista's imagination was amazing. She had sat upon Sierra's lap, telling her wild tales of riding thrantas and eat ice cream with Zara. She agreed that their time here should be short lived and immediately directed him away from the house. Mug was raw. He was angry seeing Sierra. Claudius would bring him to boiling point, and the bastard would likely let everyone know who had come for a visit. Her hand brushed over her husband's arm in a futile attempt to relax him. Instead of proceeding further into the neighborhoods and risking drawing attention to them in unpopulated areas, Sierra took him towards the town's marketplace. She could see people who bore the Rebel insignia handing out food ... and there was plenty of it. Standing near the front of one of the lines, Sierra caught a glimpse of her mother. It looked like she was attempting to use flattery to get more food. She kept Rikka's position in mind but ignored her otherwise.

People were, as a general rule, much happier there than in the camp she and Claudius had visited in Delaya. There were those who still vocally hated the Empire. Some of those people had crowded around a makeshift stage where a man recounted the horrors of losing Alderaan and then Delaya. He thrust his first skyward and curse the Imperials.

"Only if she can pay for it. I'm on salary now," Claudius said, trying to make light of their new situation. "I should have you promoted for the increase in pay. We're going to need two incomes soon," he suggested, as she tightened the cloak around his body. "The Rebels are giving them food?" he asked quietly, as he walked with her and observed their behavior. He fully expected to find military training camps and recruitment centers, but there was hardly any military presence at all. "Walk on," he said quietly as he spied Rikka in the distance. Her big mouth would give them away in the blink of an eye, and if the Rebels did not physically kill them, Rikka would surely inflict psychological pain. "It is not what I expected at all," he confessed to her, as he took her hand and lowered his head. "Perhaps ... perhaps this is best for them. They are not harming anyone here," he said to her, as he began to wonder if it was the worth the risk to see his daughter. "Where do you think she would be?" he asked her, slowly, as he exhaled a nervous sigh. "I don't want to speak to her. I don't want her to see me, but ... but I would like to see her," he confessed, in what might have been a very bad idea and an unnecessary risk.

Beneath her hood, Sierra grinned. "I wouldn't mind a promotion." She would prefer that she didn't receive another 'promotion' from Arden Zevrin. She worked for the greater evil...not the greater good. Claudius was coming around to the same shocking reality that she had: the Rebels weren't doing anything bad to these people. They weren't even taking advantage of the situation to promote their cause, they simply allowed the refugees to *live*. "Maybeso. These people deserve stability...a place to truly call home and restart their lives. If it's here...if it's with the Rebels...then so be it." When they were secluded, she knew they'd talk a lot more about all of this.

They had been careful, but there was a single risk Sierra was willing to make for the one she loved. She lifted her head. Jelena had been appointed as the leader of New Alderaan. So where was she. "I'm not sure. Let's see if we can find her." He already understood the risks involved. They wouldn't be able to talk to her. Sliding her hand into his, she lead the way further into the colony. She searched around desperately for their daughter. Time ticked down as they spent more time immersed in the enemy. At last, Sierra spotted a familiar face. Jelena was helping unload medical supplies and transferring them to a tent. She came to a sudden pause, directing Claudius' attention towards their daughter.

Around every corner he thought he saw a familiar face, and many of them probably were. Doctors, scholars, and lawyers on Alderaan were now subjected to standing on food lines next to masons and shop clerks. There was a leveling of the playing field when it came to being a refugee that was somehow democratic. He spotted Jelena before Sierra did, which caused his heart to momentarily stop. He took a sudden gasp as he tried to collect his breath and gather himself, but seeing his daughter out there, on her own as a leader overwhelmed him. He always knew she had it in her, and when a son had never come to him he felt she would be an excellent Duchess of Delaya. This, somehow, was better ... these people needed her. "I've seen what I've come to see," he said to Sierra, as he battled back tears, and kept his eyes focused on the ground in front of him.

She stood watching Jelena work. She hated admitting that Jelena belonged here. Even when they opted for different paths after the Academy, she had wished that they could remain together forever. In a way, that had happened. Now she was mature enough to see that her friend had found her place in life. There would be no more attempts to drag her home against her will. She looked towards her husband. Her hand squeezed his. She knew he saw the same sight that she did. Their trip here was over. Without a word, Sierra turned around and began leading him back towards the ship. Unknowingly, her feet were moving much quicker. "Are you okay?" She asked him quietly. It was hard to walk away from Jelena without saying anything. With the current state of the world, you never knew when, or if, you'd see your family. All of a sudden, Sierra stopped. She drew her cloaked husband into her arms and hugged him tightly.

Jelena Rodney was busy unloading a medium transport with about 25-percent of the medical supplies they had requisitioned from the Alliance, but beggars could not be choosers, and some was better than none. Out of the corner of her eye she spotted Sierra, and gave a 'what are you doing back' look. She reached down to her canteen, and drank the last of the water inside. "I'm going to refill this. I'll be back," she said to the others, as she began moving towards Sierra. "Hey!" she said, as she began moving faster, trying to intercept her before she reached her ship. As she came up behind her, she grabbed hold of Sierra's arm, who was moving to hug the man in the cloak. And that's when she saw him... "Father," she said, weakly, as a range of conflicted of emotions threatened to overcome her. "You should not be here. It isn't safe. If they knew you were here ... they'd kill you," she said, as she began to panic. She began looking everywhere to determine whether or not they had been seen. "Get him out of here. Please..." she said, as she grabbed Sierra's arm and looked at her behind teary eyes.

Uh oh. *Busted*. Sierra wasn't nearly as sneaky as she thought. Deciding to stop and hug Claudius was what had gotten her in trouble in the long run. She froze, hearing Jelena's familiar voice. "Uh, hi." She stuttered nervously. There were so many emotions riding over her best friend's face. She tried to shield Claudius from anyone else seeing him. "We're leaving now. We've been careful." She reassured Jelena, giving her a quick hug. Sierra drifted away from her rapidly with her husband in tow. Now they needed to get back to the ship a lot quicker. She didn't stop to say a word or look over her shoulder. She simply rushed him up the ramp and back into a private space. Sierra let out a deep breath as she stood in the cockpit of the ship. "I... I don't think we should do that again..." Then, she drew him right back to her breast.

Claudius gasped when he saw Jelena up close and possible, but before he could say a word she had begun to lecture him. Suddenly she was the parent. He brought a hand up slowly to the side of her face, wiping away a smudge that had appeared on her cheek. "I'll go. I just wanted to see this. I just wanted to see *you* and what you've become," he said, smiling proudly at her. Each time se saw her he feared it would be for the last time and he allowed himself to gaze upon her longer than he should. "I love you," he said, but he dare not kiss her with all of the others round. But before anything else could be said, he found himself dragged away by his wife, back towards the Mandalorian craft. He wanted to wait. He wanted to linger, but he knew, reluctantly, that she was right. When he managed to get into the cockpit he allowed her to hold him ... he needed it. "You're right of course," he said to her, as he breathed in through his nose to fight back the tears. "Thank you for orchestrating this. I won't forget it. I love you," he said, as he continued to clutch her.

Knowing Jelena and her qualms with her father, Sierra knew that his words would make her very happy. It was touching in the best way to see them reunite, forgive each other, and repair their familial ties. Despite everything else, their family had become so much stronger. She felt proud of Claudius for putting his Imperial beliefs aside to show how proud he was. Inside the ship, she didn't let go of him. There was a warm, little shoulder ready for him to cry on or to use for support. She turned her head. Her nose nuzzled against his cheek. "Let it all out, my love. There's been so much that's built on you. Release it." She granted him permission through gentle, coaxing whispers. "I love you. You don't need to thank me ever." Because Sierra was going to continue doing whatever she could for him. He made her life fulfilling and amazing. All-in-all, this was the least she could do.

"It shouldn't have come to this..." Claudius said, his voice muffled by its close position to her chest. "My family is divided. My people are hiding here in the outer rim in this awful place. It is all my fault," he said to her, clutching her body, for if he did not he would surely fall to the deck of the ship. "Take me home. Take me to *our* home," he said to her, as he released her, and moved to the co-pilot's seat. As he strapped himself in he took one last look out the viewport at New Alderaan, where he had just left a 'new' Jelena. For for the first time, in a long time, he felt she was safe and had a purpose in life that was fitting for her. He needed to redouble his efforts in the war effort to put down this Rebellion so that families across the galaxy could be reunited, starting with his.

She listened to him open up. She felt concerned for him, especially because he continued to beat himself up for what had happened. It seemed like the person who needed her help the most inside their home was *him*. "It is *not* your fault." Sierra gave voice to her opinion. "We'll talk more at home." She decided, wanting to find herself back on the most familiar ground. She slowly sat down in front of the controls and began strapping herself in. The craft was just as ready to be off of New Alderaan as she was. The starfighter slowly took off from the planet. They were headed back to Esseles to regroup and decide what came next. In her heart, she yearned for the warn to end so they could all be together again.

Jelena watched as her father and best friend turned stepmother left New Alderaan, as she too wondered if that would be the last time that she ever saw them. "Jelena! We need you!" a voice called over her shoulder, and the frown that was upon her face turned into a smile. She turned on her feet and moved back to the business of unloading the medical supplies. She had found a new purpose, a new home, on a New Alderaan. In short, she was a new Jelena ... a better Jelena.

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