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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
*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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.