Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Liz Dorner and Christopher Levy.

One year before the Battle of Yavin (34:9:4) in the Essesia system: Esseles (Calamar: The Calamar House and New Calamar: Claudius Rodney's estate).


Major Kerrie Kiley, and Vice Admiral Claudius Rodney, and Lady Htaere Ka`a Sha`ar.


Htaere Ka`a Sha`ar came gliding down the large staircase of the Rodney estate on Esseles with a flat object wrapped in a tan silk sleeve and tied with a simple red bow. She looked stately in a long gun-metal grey dress with silver embroidery across every inch of it, the flared skirt comprised of three separate pieces of the fabric over a grey underskirt. Her hair was done up in three rings across the back of her head with a silver band about an inch thick wrapping from around her forehead and through each of the rings. A halo of rods protruded from the band at an angle, both up and longer ones pointing down with silver balls on the end of each. Looking surprisingly more comfortable in the manor, with all the time spent there, she hastened down the stair and towards the front entry where her escort was waiting.

Major Kerrie Kiley was waiting patiently in the Admiral's living room. She looked around the room as she waited for the Htaere to arrive taking note of the decadence and the opulence that filled the estate. She was sure that the Lady Drusilla was somehow behind all this. She sighed, realizing that she could work for the Admiral for several lifetimes and never be able to afford anything close to this. She stretched uncomfortably and gritted her teeth as she felt the pull in her still weakened side. "Gaah," she cried out for a brief moment, shimmering back into her reptilian Clawdite form for that brief moment. She smiled as she saw Lady Htaere descend the stairs, refocusing her attention on her rather than on her discomfort.

Htaere's expression warmed upon seeing the woman waiting there. "Major Kiley" she acknowledged pleasantly, sporting a friendly grin. She drifted towards her, the back of her long elaborate dress trailing behind her. "I have something for you. It made me think of you and I could not walk away from it" she admitted. She extended the parcel to the Major eagerly. "Perhaps you will think it silly, but it is a classic in its own rite."

"A present?" Kerrie asked, looking at her with some confusion, "For me?" She lowered her head for a moment, staring at the ground and thinking over this unusual occurrence for a moment. She assumed it was just a trivial token and smiled at her politely, awaiting the gift.

Htaere only nodded, lifting up the gift in front of her, letting it rest across the span of both upturned flattened hands.

Kerrie reached out and took the gift from Htaere's outstretched hands and examined it for a moment. She then carefully unwrapped it as it slowly revealed the gift.

What lay beneath the wrapping paper was the popular children's book "Little Lost Bantha Cub." The book was a special edition, printed old-style on parchment paper with hand painted pictures and a hardbound cover with a colorful glossy sleeve.

"Unh," Kerrie groaned lightly as the gift was revealed. She exhaled lightly and backed up a few feet as if she was trying to get away from it, but she could not. She sat down in a chair that she nearly tripped over as she backtracked. "Oh," Kerrie again murmured, "Wow. That's..." Kerrie lowered her head, now reverted to its Clawdite form, as she became overwhelmed with emotion. "That's really nice of you," she again repeated, "I had one like this when I was a child."

"Oh that is very good to hear. If it guided you as a child, then possibly it may guide you as an adult" Htaere encouraged. She wrapped the brown paper back around it to keep it flawless for its journey to Kerrie's humble domain and stepped over to the chair where the flabbergasted woman sat. She placed the book in the major's hands and stepped back. "It is a bit unorthodox as a gift, I understand. It seemed very appropriate...for each of us" she commented, nodding, more so in agreement with herself.

Kerrie could only nod a reply. She was overcome with emotion and memories that she shared with no one. Her childhood was a happy, but it did not last very long. She sniffled away the tears that had started to flow as she shimmered back into her Human form. "I'm being silly," she said as she rose from her chair, "Anyway. You have a date I have to get you too."

Htaere's head bobbed in an obediant nod, soft grey eyes simply taking in the major's delicate reaction. "I am ready when you are" she answered simply, waiting patiently for Major Kiley to recollect herself.

Kerrie adjusted her tunic nervously. She was letting her guard down around Htaere far too often. She was terrified that she was going to tell the Admiral, which might cost her job ... and her life. She began moving towards the door when she turned around to look at Htaere, almost trembling in fear, "You're not ... you're not going to tell the Admiral about this ... are you?"

Htaere's attractive face flashed a surprise expression. "I wish never to violate the sanctity of your privacy" she responded. "This was from me, on the side. I wish not to include him in our 'girl chat' " she added with the shrug of an elegant shoulder.

Kerrie did not know what to make of this. She never had engaged in 'girl talk' before. It sounded like something she might like to try and smiled at Htaere, "I did not mean to imply...," she then silenced herself and decided to quit while she was ahead and refocused, "Thank you." She then proceeded towards the landing platform where the speeder waited to take Htaere to a restaurant in Calamar, the planet's capital city.

Htaere followed after Major Kiley, climbing into the speeder and straightening the long elaborate folds of fabric that constituted her gown. "The Admiral waits for us?" she asked casually, eyes already fixed beyond the viewport, never tired of seeing new landscapes unfamiliar to her.

"Well," Kerrie said with a smile and a soft laugh, "He waits for you at least." With that Kerrie stepped into the landspeeder and took her seat next to Htaere. The speeder then began its long trip towards Calamar, which lay down in the plains from the hills where the Admiral had chosen for his residence.

Claudius Rodney sat nervously at his table in The Calamar House, the metropolitan city's most noted restaurant. Each of the patrons eyed him nervously. They were keenly aware he was the most powerful man in the region. Occasionally he would nod at one of the members of society who had come to eat a prepared meal, but he was rarely comfortable around them. He had come to bring peace and order to the region, but he had failed to win the hearts and minds of the people as his superiors had hoped. Now an all out civil war loomed on Ralltiir and he held himself responsible. He looked over towards the waiter again who was prepared to pounce down upon them the moment his guest arrived. He again smiled politely feeling awkward about having arrived so early, but he missed Htaere and rushed away from the Warspite as soon as possible to meet with her.

Htaere waltzed regally across the threshold, her appearance glorious and glittering. Steely orbs flickered about curiously, taking in the dining establishment thoroughly before focusing her thoughts to the slew of hosts and hostesses at the door, greeting dinner guests with superlative manners and ushering them to reserved tables. A few words exchanged and one of the young men in formal attire hosting hurried to the designated table, Htaere in tow. As soon as he came into view, her eyes settled on him evenly, taking in a less then confident appearance. She could not help but smile, as their visits were few and far between. She nodded to him, grinning childishly. "Claudius, it is good to see you" she remarked as she drew up to his table, the host untucking her chair for her promptly.

Claudius stood from his seat as Htaere as approached, as a gentleman should. He remained standing until she had been comfortably seated and then joined her at the table. He smiled through the arrangement of complex flowers and candles at her, like a little child peering through some hedges at a girl next door. "It is good to see you again," he said politely, "I am sorry my work has kept me away for so long. I trust your trip here was a pleasant one?"

She smoothed her dress and tucked her feet daintily up under her chair, crossing them at the ankles. "I did, thank you. I am glad you could come to visit, if only for a short while. Things are going well?"

Claudius laughed nervously at her comment. Things were going far from well, but he would not let it spoil their evening. "Let us talk of something more pleasant," he said with a warm tone, "Like the wonderful meal we will soon be sharing."

"Alright. Have you a recommendation?" she asked, eyes skimming the menu in front of her. "Jelena is not here to tell me what to order" she commented rather absently.

"The locals seem to like the Karkan ribenes, but one can get very messy eating them..." Claudius expressed to her with some concern.

"Messy?" Htaere's brow furrowed. At long last, she folded the menu and set it down in front of her, smiling across the table. "I will leave the choice to you. I will have what you order for me..but perhaps not so messy" she conceded.

Claudius nodded to the waiter who hurried over toward the table. "Are you ready, Milord?" he asked eagerly. "Yes," Claudius replied, "We will start with an order of Neonan red cheese ... and for the main course we will both have the dindras. And to drink I would like a bottle of Whyrren's Reserve." The waiter nodded politely, collected the menus, and hurried back into the kitchen. Claudius then returned his attention to Htaere, "You look lovely tonight."

"Thank you Claudius. You are a handsome man as you are..." she paused to evaluate him a moment before continuing "...yet you have not looked well the last few times I have seen you. Perhaps you can take some time. I can arrange for a day at the spa for you" she said.

"Actually," Claudius began before silencing himself as the waiter returned to pour the Whyrren's Reserve and provide order of cheese. He smiled politely at her until the waiter retreated and he once again felt free to talk, "I intended to take some leave time with you. I would like for you to come to Delaya with me. I think it is time for you to finally meet the rest of my family."

"Oh, that is good to hear. You might consider taking Jelena with us so that she may visit?" she asked thoughtfully.

"Yes," Claudius added as he took a sip of the beverage, "The entire family will be gathering."

She nodded, thinking carefully before speaking. "Claudius, I do not approve of your father's badgering of our union because he is unsatisfied with the gender of his grandchildren" she stated, delicately, but firmly.

"That is not why I am doing this," Claudius responded quickly to her. "He has his reasons and I have my own," he explained to her, "They are not the same."

"I believe you" she said whole-heartedly. Another moment of inward thinking and she asked her question rather bluntly. "Do you even want more children?"

Claudius sighed and stared blankly into the candle that burned brightly in the center of the table. He lost himself in the moment as he thought about her question. It was unexpected, but inevitable. "The last time I had a child things did not go as I hoped," he said to her softly, "But I believe that if people gave up and stopped trying whenever things did not work out ... nothing would ever get done." He paused for a moment and refocused, "So yes ... I would like to have more children if the situation presented itself."

Observing the momentary change in mood, already piled on top his forlorn appearance, she made a very warm smile across the table. "Do not be sad Claudius" she said. "I apologize for my question. I should not have asked" she chided herself. "This is a time for happiness. The night is lovely, the food and drink are good. Perhaps after dinner we should like to take a walk or peruse the botanical gardens. It would be very therapuetic for that which troubles us."

"Major Kiley told me walks about town with you could be quite ... harrowing," Claudius replied with a warm smile, as he tried to lighten the mood.

"I very much enjoyed it. I would like to return to the common markets again. I believe I would be safe if perhaps I was not accompanied by your soldiers. They are targets, not I" she asked, nearly pleading in a roundabout sort of way.

Claudius became very quiet ... very quickly. He dared not tell her that her relationship with him had made her one of the prime targets in the region. He smiled nervously and nodded at her again, "Yes ... perhaps you're right."

Under the impression he was buying her argument, she let it go. For the first time, she found herself with a conversation topic. The seperation had left her feeling clueless as to what they had in common that could be shared in a liesure manner. She dug for topics and decided to pursue personal knowledge yet again, though more on a general level. "So, your dossier does not list your hobbies, likes and dislikes. I know a great deal about your accomplishments, but not you as a person. Perhaps I should invest more time and energy in knowing this side of you, if you care to share" she beamed, sipping the Whyrren's tastefully.

"Well, I was something of a shockball player in my youth," Claudius said proudly, beaming from ear to ear, "In fact I was a member of the team at my school for several years."

"I have never seen a shockball game" she confessed. "Now that you have enlightened me, I shall have to watch one on the holovid next time I find one on...and with a cold ale for the full effect, as I am told" she recounted from one of the household servents. She distinctly remembered him "demonstrating" the proper way to watch sports, by reclining, feet up on some piece of furniture and a cold brew in hand.

Claudius began to laugh at her observation, his cheeks reddening as he smiled across the table at her, "Somehow I can't imagine you with a cold ale."

"Hapans make a very good ale" she replied. "Good with shockball maybe" she remarked, eyebrows lifting. "So..what else can you tell me about Claudius Rodney." She lowered her voice and grinned. "I am willing to pay top credit for any information you can provide on this individual."

"Who is Claudius Rodney?" Claudius repeated to her as he entered a state of inner contemplation, "Hmm. That's a good one." He paused for a moment, taking a bite out of his dinner before it got too cold. "I just try to be the best person that I can. I have been blessed with all of the advantages in this life. I was born with more credits than I could hope to spend in a lifetime and was a member of the nobility before I was in my first diaper. I went to school ... worked hard. Served my homeworld as an Ambassador. When the war came ... I like so many ... chose to serve. Again I was blessed ... I survived whereas many did not. In between all that I was fortunate to have a family. Things could have worked out better, but I believe that everything happens for a reason. And here I am now in this new assignment with the most beautiful woman in the galaxy. It appears that I am still blessed."

"You flatter me so" she smirked before her expression became a bit more serious. "The people who work for you respect you tremendously. That speaks for your character" she commented.

"They are good people," Claudius replied after taking the final bites from his dinner. "Did you want desert?" he asked, "Or did you want to go on that walk?"

She held up a hand "Thank you, no on the dessert. I am quite satiated. We can walk, if you are willing to take the alleged risk" one corner of her mouth lifted in a daring grin.

"Let's sneak out then," Claudius said with a smile, "Kerrie will have a heart attack, but she'll understand later." He stood from the table and took her hand as he began his way out of the restaurant and into the unknown.

Htaere reveled in the impulsivity as it had been since her adolescent that she'd done anything that deviated from the straight and narrow. With her free hand, she lifted the front of her dress just a bit to permit free movement without the hem interfering. "More site-seeing then?" she pondered, gaze panning over the scene beyond the doors of the restaurant.

Claudius led Htaere behind the restaurant away from the prying eyes of Major Kiley and the military speeder that had been arranged to take them home. Behind the restaurant an Ikas-Adno 22-B Nightfalcon speeder bike, which Claudius only used when he needed to get away from it all. It was a passion he developed in his youth on Alderaan when he felt a need to escape and go to the Castle Lands. He had not used it in years, when he would take his wife to the Castle Lands on their anniversary to celebrate where they first met.

Claudius hopped on the speeder bike and placed his hands firmly on the throttle. Revving the engine he looked over his shoulder at Htaere. "Now it's time to find out if you trust me," he said with a smile, "Hop on."

Htaere's expression registered nothing short of stupor, her face taken over by childlike wonderment, shadowed closely with adult apprehension. Large grey eyes blinked, taking the vehicle in before looking to his face. After a handful of heartbeats, contemplating whether she should give in to reason or let loose with wreckless abandon, the wild hair got the best of her and she nudged away any rational thought with a shrug and a bit of a nervous chuckle and said "..ok." She stepped towards the bike, paused a moment as she decided how best to mount the thing, collecting her dress somewhat neatly and climbing on behind him. She hesitated another moment before reaching up and plucking the elaborate headress off of her, tossing it to the ground. She grinned, quite pleased with herself and the newfound potential for a rebellious streak. "Ok, I think I am ready" she nodded up at him.

"Hang on," Claudius told her as he throttled down and send the speeder bike soaring down the alleyway on its path out of the city and into the mountainous terrain in the general direction of his estate.

Had she waited any longer to grab on, she would have been left behind. Her arms slipped around him, clinging tightly against the wind lashing their clothes and faces. And still she sported a smile, the experience new and note-worthy. She could feel her face chill in the cool evening air and it was all the more hype for the moment, and a complete contrast to the heat coming off the engine. The sensory mix only served to convince her further to test out one of these toys at any given chance.

Claudius finished navigating the speeder bike at breakneck speed through the forests of Esseles as he brought her up into the backwoods. "I hope I know where I'm going," he thought to himself as he increased the throttle. Finally they arrived at their destination. The sound of a small waterfall filled the night sky. It ran over a cliff into a hidden pool of water surrounded by ageless trees in a small clearing. The only light was provided by the planet's moon that shone brightly and was reflecting in the secluded pool. Claudius climbed off the bike and smiled at her and then walked down the trail the short distance to the body of water and took a seat on a large rock, not minding that it was wet and covered in moss.

Gathering up the lengthy dress, weighted with such extensive embroidery, she climbed off the bike as well with some degree of manuevering, and drifted after him, taking in the environment in near bliss, a passive and utterly content expression coming over her face. She inhaled deeply, thriving on the smells of the native flora, the clean water and slight musk of such a fertile and humid environment. Finally she forced herself to look down to him, the remnants of her smile still lingering in the form of slightly upturned lips."This is a beautiful place, and a good choice. Is this a private engagement or may I sit as well?"

"I do not want you to ruin such an elegant dress," Claudius said to her with a smile, "Perhaps I could impose upon you to sit on my lap to avoid the expense of a new one."

She had to giggle "You are silly Claudius" she remarked, but grateful for the little bit of attention she was afforded at the expense of his employ, she obliged him. Smoothing the back of her dress, she had a seat across the top of his thighs, settling in comfortably.She took the liberty of getting a bit more cozey, slipping her arms around his neck and hugging him to her slightly so that she could easily rest her head on his and watch the shimmers and ripples in the water.

Claudius leaned his head down, pressing his nose gently against hers. He smiled at her nervously for a moment before breaking the quiet moment. "You are very beautiful," Claudius said truthfully. "You deserve to live a long and happy life," he added, "Do you think I can make you happy?"

In such a position, he would feel the surface and warmth of the gem in her forehead. "I do not deserve anything. It is my job to make *you* happy. That is what I was sent for" she answered, referring to her position in his life as if she were a secretary.

Claudius was a logical man and responded in the best way he could, "You cannot do your ... job ... unless you are happy. Because I could never be happy knowing you were not." He kept his face dangerously close to hers, "Will you be happy?"

"Are you asking me in reference to yourself?"

"I just need to know, Htaere," Claudius said honestly, "In doing your job ... will you be happy?"

"Yes Claudius" she conceded with a small smile. "You make me happy."

"I'm glad," Claudius said and moves his face slightly forward. His eyes closed as he gently placed his lips upon hers.

Htaere's eyes widened at first, completely knocked over by the unprecedented display. Just as quickly, she recovered, and found her own eyelids sinking, letting the tender moment linger. The very feel of his mouth on hers caused a swarm of butterflies in her stomach, and she felt as she did when she was a young teenager, delving into the emotional rewards of physical contact.

Claudius broke the kiss after a moment and looked at Htaere with a deep sense of longing. His cheeks reddened and his breathing became a bit labored. He swallowed nervously and reached beneath her into his pocket. He grunted in frustration as he forced a small box out of is pocket, which was quite a difficult task to accomplish when seated. His eyes focused on her face, illuminated by the moonlight. "I was going to bring this up in the restaurant," he said before looking around, "but I've always believed in the magic of the moonlight." He paused and opened the small box revealing a small ring with a white gold band and a diamond. It was not pretentious at all. "Will you marry me?" Claudius asked her with a heavy breath, "Not for me. Not for my father. Not for your mother. Not even for you, but for us."

Htaere's cloudy grey eyes glassed over, looking at the ring intently before her gaze lifted to the older man's face. "Is this what you really want, Claudius? Not because your father wants it, not because you feel obligated. Will you be happy?"

"Life is too precious a gift to horde it for ourselves, Htaere," Claudius explained, "It is meant to be shared ... and I wish to share my life with you."

All of her extensive tutelage in diplomacy and her cheeks were still a bit blushed. She managed a firm smile and cradled his face in her hands. "Yes, Claudius, I will marry you" she said finally, eyes locked onto his and lost within the depths.

With all the delicate care in the world Claudius removed the ring from its small package. His hand trembled as he nervously slid it daintily onto the ring finger of her left hand. When it was on he looked at it for a moment, almost in disbelief. He then turned his attention back to her and placed another tender kiss upon her lips. He did not think it possible, but once again he was deeply in love.

The second kiss was as tender and sweet as the first, if not more so. She reciprocated with more vigor this time, venturing to press her lips to his with the slightest touch of pressure. When she withdrew, she admired him, his face still cupped in her hands. Her lips went through the motion of smiling, but she was too intently preoccupied with him for the action to have been voluntary. She leaned forward and placed another small kiss on his forehead, one on his chin, one at each corner of his mouth, and let her thumbs raise to his eyes to gently guide the lids closed so she could place a small peck over each eye. When she was done, she hugged him to her again and rocked him gently. "My beloved Claudius" she mumbled quietly, staring off into nothingness.

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