Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Christopher Levy and Sarah Riggs-Shute.
Zero years after the Battle of Yavin (35:5:1) in the Essesia system: Warspite.
Liliya Benedt, Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, Inquisitor Serine Thanor, and Major Arden Zevrin.

Grand Moff Claudius Rodney sat silently at his desk inside of his office aboard the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Warspite, having been working most of the day on the growing Rebel insurgency on Brentaal. He had reviewed reports on additional fighting on the surface and had recently approved the assignment of four additional battalions of Imperial soldiers to the planetary garrison in response. He had long since missed the family dinner on the surface and although he did not realize it at the time he was growing quite hungry. The color had begun to fade from his middle-aged face and a tired sigh painfully escaped his lips. He was relying on the use of his left hand as a perch for his chin to keep his head elevated as he stared at a seemingly endless series of datapads. It was all seeming to blur together now and he could barely make out the small text on the illuminated screen. His brown eyes blinked several times as he attempted to regain his focus, but it was to no avail and finally his right hand rose to his face, pinched his nose and desperately rubbed his eyes. He had clearly been working too long and was in much need of a break. The task of Regional Governor was shaping up to be quite difficult and time consuming.

Throughout the day and into the early evening, Liliya had been loyally by his side tending to his immediate needs, handing him datapads, organizing his appointments, directing his attention to vital documents that needed his signature and offering him any beverages he requested. The woman pretty much did everything for him including reading out loud many of the reports as sometimes suggested by the Governor. Perhaps he just liked to hear her soothing voice, but she did not mind and kept herself very busy with all of the smaller tasks he could not be bothered to handle himself. There was satisfaction to her work, not only was she making herself useful and hopefully gaining the man's trust and favor, she was also gaining valuable information in her unique position. During her day with him, she was always pleasant and eager to serve, but as the day wore on, Liliya became concerned that the man was quickly losing dexterity and strength. They had worked very hard together, surely they made enough progress for one day? She had excused herself for a moment with a bow of her head, vowing to return momentarily, though it had been a good hour since the Governor had seen her. After awhile, there was a gentle knock on the door before Liliya's head poked through with a smile then dipped back out of the room again. Then suddenly the doors slid open fully introducing a steaming cooked meal for two, very distinct Alderaanian cuisine. "Milord, I personally prepared this." She said shyly, not sure if it would be any good, but she looked to him with bright hopeful eyes that he would try and enjoy. "It would be my honor if you would taste it."

Claudius' eyes went wide as he watched the beautiful young Liliya bring in the meal. In a panic, his head jarred up slightly and he pushed his chair away from the desk as he suddenly realized how late the hour was. "Is the chronometer accurate?" he asked her, as his eyes scanned the room, noting it was already past 21:00. "My family is going to be so mad..." he said as he lowered his head dejectedly, letting out a pained groan. He stood from his seat and began to walk around the the desk towards the young Alderaanian. "You ... you did this?" he asked as he took in the strong aroma of the meal. He froze in his tracks suddenly as his eyes seemed to glaze over and he seemed very distant. "My wife used to make this for me ... my first wife.." he said sadly, as he thought on the subject of his deceased wife and the happy times they had spent together on Alderaan for what seemed like so long ago. She was gone ... and now Alderaan was gone too, he thought to himself as he moved towards the sofa on the far side of the room and sat himself down in front of the table. "Very well ... but only if you will join me," he said, as his eyes scanned over her from a far. She was the last remnant of a destroyed world and a very strong reminder of his past life ... two difficult emotions that made him very vulnerable.

Liliya could only listen somberly with the other's recollection of his first wife, Lady Julia Reln, though secretly she knew all about her and even that this meal was cooked by her while she was still alive. Liliya had been programmed with every detail of Claudius Rodney's life with the intent of mimicking certain aspects to pull him into a sense of comfort around her. When he suggested she joined him, she could not help but to bashfully giggle before biting her lip. "Forgive me sir, I'm sorry. It is just that ... I made two portions not for the intent that you eat them both." As he sat down, she served him appropriately, placing his portion along with utensils and pouring him a small glass of Alderaan Ruge to compliment his meal. She was unaware that the man vowed to never drink again or perhaps she would have chosen differently. She was painstaking in her eye of detail, everything was arranged athletically pleasing. Once Liliya had organized her own side of the table, she sat down and peered to him, wishing for a sign of approval and anticipating his first bite. When he did decide to indulge, he would find the food exquisite, who could have thought Liliya was also extremely talented in this area as well.

Claudius tucked an ornate cloth napkin in his lap and slowly moved towards a fork that Ewwiekewwieikkie would be proud to own. His eyes moved to her and he offered a silent smile before the fork penetrated the food and slowly brought it to his lips. Astonishing! he thought to himself as a smile crept into his lips. It was as if he was eating his wife's old recipe. Little did he know that his family was conspiring against him and provided Bail Organa with access to key details of the late Julia Rodney. The deck was clearly stacked against him. "This ... this is very good..." he said to her, genuinely impressed with the meal. His left hand moved to the glass of wine, and a slight tremor was visible before he grasped the glass. It had been quite some time since he had partaken in the beverage ... but tonight seemed special. Bringing the glass to his lips he sipped on it slowly and a warmth began to fill his body. It was not the alcohol however ... it was the presence of Liliya.

She cheerfully smiled as she watched his reaction for trying her cooking, knowing it would satisfy that unspoken desire for things of long past but yet not forgotten. Liliya regarded her own portion for a moment, not at all finding the desire or need to eat it as he, but her mechanical bodily functions were more than capable of processing the food, she had to appear human after all and too many questions would arise if no one ever saw her perform normal activities. She managed to nibble here and there, claiming to not be terribly hungry and that this was more for his peace and relaxation than anything. "I'm so glad." She said honestly, a convincing facade of nervousness began to wash from her and she eased into her seat comfortably. "Are your days always like this, Lord Rodney?" Liliya was curious, as she had only spent a few days with man and so far things were ... really hectic and some things rather dangerous, but the danger was all internal. "Your vessel is exciting." A fine choice of words, it was obvious she was trying to hint at other things, but subtly was a difficult human emotion to emulate.

Claudius finished his meal and placed his fork and knife across one another on the now empty plate. He felt very refreshed and reinvigorated as he leaned back against the sofa and looked across at her happily. "Unfortunately most of my days are like this. The days are starting to blend into one another and at times I barely know what day of the week it is," he pointed out grimly, shaking his head at his unpleasant situation. "Fortunately I have an aide," he was quick to point out as he flashed her a sweet grin. "She is a fine vessel that has served me well," he said, as his eyes scanned around the interior of his office. He was very much proud of the massive Star Destroyer, the paramount force in the Imperial Navy. "It is not much of a home for you, however," he pointed out, as he pulled the napkin from his lap and placed it on the table with the dirty dishes. Letting out a content sigh he felt his tired eyes began to sag as he situated himself in the corner of the sofa.

Seeing that the man was very content she happily began to clear the table, gathering the dishes into the small cart she had wheeled everything in before wiping the table down until it was spotless, cleaner than before they ate. With that bit of chore now out of the way, she returned to the couch and sat down politely on her end. The woman's antics were very elegant, perhaps he was right about her not belonging in the bustling and emotionally debilitating environment that could eventually weather away even the most resilient of souls. However, it was a mute point, her home was gone, she had no other now. A light shake of her head in disagreement. "My home is now wherever you are, Lord Rodney, if you'll have me." It actually was a real issue that she tried not to devote too much memory bank processes to, if he ever should reject her, it would be catastrophic. Liliya had every intention of doing her best to win him over to trust and respect her, even need her, perhaps come to depend and rely on her constantly then she would never have to be fearful of being alone. Others took that basic feeling for granted, it was so much more complicated and terrifying for a machine to have no owner.

Claudius listened to her say 'have me' and he shifted uncomfortably, wondering exactly what she meant. He felt like was going down a dangerous path and stood from the sofa quickly. "Perhaps there's something on the HoloNet..." he said aimlessly as he moved to the projector and activated it. He switched off Imperial Holovision and put on a program of Republic Classical music being broadcast live from Coruscant. It was favorite kind of music and it reminded him of happier times. He began to happily hum along to the song and slowly began to dance with himself in the center of the room. Life could not be all work, he thought to himself as he extended a hand to the young Liliya. "Will you dance?" he asked of her, thinking there was no harm in it. The tired old Governor had been duped by a droid!

She looked to him with a tinge of fear and excitement both mixed in together, seemingly very hesitant to accept his offer, but wishing it was not the case. "I ... I can't dance." A sincere lie, if there was such a thing, but was said if only to satisfy the other's innate intuition to wish to control the situation. Her meekness was but an act but it was played so well. She looked to the side ashamed, it was rare for an Alderaanian of high status and proper raising to not know how to dance. "I was always ... really shy to dance in front of people, I always felt uncoordinated." Her lovely voice dropped a tone in embarrassment as she whispered that last part to him as if it was an uncomfortable secret she chose not to admit. Liliya was afraid of disappointing him.

Claudius made an overly dramatic jesture of looking about the room, highlighting the fact that they were obviously alone. "There's no one here but you and I," he assured her, and as his offered hand had never released hers, he pulled her up from the seated position into his arms. He blinked suddenly as he first got a hold of her, wondering if perhaps she was a bit too close. Regrets were already going through his mind as he placed a left hand on the small of her back, while holding her right hand in his, and slowly he began to dance with her to the gentle music. "Is that the style for hair these days?" he asked her, making idle conversation as he got a good, close look at it for the first time. He could not remember the last time he had danced like this, and he was beginning to get lost in the moment.

This night was going better than she could have hoped for, as she wasn't at all expecting the man to be so quickly warming up to her. She allowed herself to be pulled into his embrace, quickly a light pink hue would flush across her cheeks, this was more than she was anticipating. Liliya's hand trembled a little in his own before she relaxed with their close proximity as she leaned up against him, resting her cheek upon his chest and allowed herself to be guided with every step. She exhaled softly while tenderly placing her hand upon his chest as well, not sure where else to place it and she dared not wrap it around his waist. Her eyes closed contently, enjoying the other's rhythm and his steady heartbeat. His idle question was forgotten, Liliya instead desiring just the music and the other's company, no words were necessary at this moment.

Claudius held her close to him, perhaps a bit too close, as he enjoyed his much needed break from the galactic civil war. His chin rested against her forehead as she was cradled against him, lost in time as the music continued to play. His head lowered slightly, and without thinking a soft kiss was placed upon her forehead. His eyes closed and she shuddered at the contact, but the horror of what had happened soon overcame him. He swallowed nervously, his throat bulging visibly as he pulled his face away from her. She was a dangerous jewel that had been presented in front of him.

Major Arden Zevrin spit out her glass of wine as she watched the man kiss the woman on her forehead from her conference room. She had never expected such a thing to have occurred, and it took her completely by surprise. She now had the visual information she felt she needed to confront the Grand Moff and regain her position at his side. Clearly, this was damning evidence to support her cause that he was unfit for command. She shook her head, wishing she had a snack at the ready, as she continued to watch the display unfold. The woman's reaction would tell her a lot, she thought to herself as she brought the monitor to the largest of the plethora of screens she had at the ready. Because of the damage the Inquisitor had done to her hair, the young ISB Sector Officer had not shown her face in public since the incident.

It was clear to the assistant that the Governor was becoming perhaps a bit too smitten with his young aide. This of course pleased her to no end, but she would not dare make that common knowledge, instead she had to play the moral high ground. A noble Alderaanian would have to condemn this, especially since the Grand Moff was married. The last thing she wanted was to be accused of scandalous motives to ingratiate herself with a man of great power and authority. Liliya did not pull away or make any move to release the other's grip, however, both her hands were gently placed upon the man's chest now, not pushing, but indicating that perhaps this was going to far. The woman looked down, unable to make eye contact for the moment, the situation could easily become far too awkward than she would like, instead she would attempt to calmly and delicately slow things down without causing this to end negatively that may hinder their relationship, be that professional or otherwise. It was for dignity's sake, and her programming was flawless, this would be the correct response. "My Lord ... I beg forgiveness, this was not my intention." She softly pleaded with him, taking full responsibility for whatever shame he may be feeling.

The scene would be interrupted by a loud buzzing at the door, someone wished an audience with the Governor, but there was no scheduled meetings at this time. Silence would follow for a few seconds before a second buzz would be heard, this time the sound was far longer and more obnoxious as if someone was pressing and holding down the button. Frustrated, Inquisitor Thanor would burst into the room without a second thought, feeling as the working relationship between herself and Rodney had deteriorated so far now that it was not worth the effort to be cordial, besides, it was her right to demand to see that man whenever she so wished. The matter of Major Zevrin and COMPNOR arranging her ground missions because the Grand Moff neglected that duty himself outraged her, especially since she had every indication that Arden was out to ruin her career, or worse. "Governor, I demand...!?" Serine instantly stalled right as she fully got inside, the door closing behind her as she stared at the two sharing an embrace in awe. Quickly the words that Major Zevrin so craftily implanted into her subconscious came to mind at the forefront and she gasped in horror and disgust. "Is this how you spend your time?!" She growled at the two like they were rabid animals that needed to be put down.

Claudius reacted in horror at the untimely arrival of the Inquisitor, and he immediately turned to shield Liliya from the wrath of the Inquisitor by sidestepping in front of her so that he would be between the two women. He felt shame at being caught with her, but also rage at the woman's comments. "How I spend 'my' time is none of 'your' business, Inquisitor!" he said angrily, as his face flushed red with anger and he turned his full attention to her. He had enough of the meddling in his personal affairs, and her rude outburst was the latest in a series of threats she was making against his personal life that he simply could not tolerate. He would not allow her to embarrass the young woman who had been caught up in his shortcomings. He felt it was his duty as the older man to protect her from the cruel Inquisitor.

The Governor would not be able to see Liliya's face but he certainly would be able to determine how she was feeling, the woman clutched at his uniform while quivering in terror, too afraid of looking at the woman who just exploded into the scene like a hungry predator. The Inquisitor was the only person on board that could literally rip her apart and was the very last person she wanted to be on ends with. "Please ... nothing happened ... Lord Rodney was just teaching me how to dance ... I never learned." Said with a trembling and weakened voice from behind the man that was shielding her. Liliya closed her eyes tightly, just wishing this was over, how could things escalate so quickly. "Please tell her Milord, it is the truth!" She insisted, though she sounded far too meek to be regarded with any sort of authority.

Serine was beyond irate, and it was not just this situation, but everything that has happened since her arrival, it had been boiling within her, escalated by the most recently events into a fiery explosion of pent up rage and it was all going to be directed towards the man she hated the most into one catastrophic confrontation. She was fed up with the nonstop insolence, disrespect of her purpose and rank, and total disregard for what the Empire had intended when it sent one of their most promising and powerful young Inquisitors to aide this man. Rodney's refusal was not just insulting her, it was insulting the Inquisitorius, it was insulting His Majesty himself! Her patience and regard for his authority all completely disintegrated, his was nothing to her now and she was going to tell him just exactly ... how little she really thought of him. Serine looked chaotically dangerous, her eyes flaring with loathing fury, her voice bitterly seething. "You! You are 'nothing'! You do not deserve the rank you were so accidentally bestowed." Inquisitor hissed those words through clenched teeth before lashing out towards his insignia, ripping it clean off the uniform and tearing a shred right through it before angrily throwing it across the room in a rage. "How dare you waste the Empire's time. You find the need to sleaze around with that ... that ... floozy!? That lurching cowardly hussy, though she is fitting for you! I would have served your faithfully, but you spat upon the graciousness of His Majesty! You are nothing but filth and I hope you burn, just like that worthless rebel loving Alderaan did!"

A flare of anger never before seen in Claudius Rodney began to build as he listened to the woman's words that threatened to cause him to erupt. "She is no such thing!" he responded angrily, focused more on the insult to Liliya than what she was saying about him. His left hand came up suddenly, raising it over the young Inquisitor's head as he lost all patience with her. "It is time you learned your place, Inquisitor,"  he said, not allowing her to talk that way to Liliya, nor say such callous things to him with no valid reason. The words she spoke about Alderaan were particularly biting and his eyes went wide with rage. As his insignia was torn from him, a slight trace of venomous foam was seen in the corner of his mouth as he raged from deep within. He brought the back of his hand down sharply in an attempt to slap her on the left side of the face.

Liliya was mortified beyond comprehension, this was far past what she could handle. The things the Inquisitor said was so incredibly cruel, she couldn't help but to begin tearing up before tears rolled down her face and she gently sobbed into her hands, covering her face in shame and self-pity. "No ... no ..." She could barely managed those words through pitiful gut wrenching sobs, this wasn't supposed to happen. Liliya had to leave, she could not stay here anymore, it was hurting her far more than expected to stand and listen to Serine's accusations and vicious outbursts regarding Claudius. Crying uncontrollably, she ran to the exit, desperate to escape and find some sort of sanctuary away from the madness.

Serine could not be more pleased to see that scrawny wench run from the room and she made no move to stop her, instead focusing her insatiable anger towards the one that was tormenting her the most since her arrival. The Inquisitor could not believe that the Governor would even think of striking her, what a fool, but perhaps that was why he held her to no regard whatsoever, he did not care to know how capable she really was. His blow was caught effortlessly as if she could see it coming last week, moving so quickly it was almost a blur as she twisted his arm and stepped fully to the side before she shifted the momentum of his movement and weight sending the man roughly forward unintentionally into a bookcase full of items.

Claudius' middle-aged body slammed into the book case and a series of books, awards, and family photos fell to the ground and shattered. He stepped forward for an instant, but then toppled down to the ground with his broken possessions. A low groaning sound escaped his lips as he lay there motionless on the floor for a good long while. There was blood coming out of the corner of his mouth and he had several cuts and bruises from the broken glass that had shattered from the collision. Had he the power to have this woman executed ... surely he would have done so. "Get out!" he screamed at the top of his lungs as he pushed down on the ground in an attempt to get back up, but failed to do so when he felt a twinge of pain in his lower back.

She may hold this man inferior to most drug addicts, but he was still, unfortunately, her superior officer and she had never intended to harm him. Serine would have never physically plotted against him as she had made perfectly clear to Major Zevrin just a day prior. The Inquisitor stood there a bit dismayed at what had just transpired, she had merely acted in self-defense of course, the man injured upon the ground before her had no one to blame but himself for his lack of control. It never crossed her mind that she was also the one out of control. She regarded him for just as long as he stayed silent, only speaking once he screamed at her to leave his presence. "You never have to see me again, Governor. All I need is your signature and you can make that a reality." The Inquisitor was being slowly suffocated to death on this miserable ship with its pathetic and completely incompetent crew and now being threatened by the few members that actually held political sway.

"The only place I'm having you transferred is the brig!" Claudius yelled at her as he pushed himself off the floor finally. He managed to get up to his knee and his left hand moved to the small of his back, grabbing it to rub the painfully bruised muscles. There were bad cuts beneath his tunic and it was beginning to turn red with blood. "You are to report to the detention level and remain there until further notice!" he ordered her, as he pushed up one final time and came into a standing position. He folded his arms in front of his chest and glared at her. "You will rue the day you turned against me, Inquisitor," he threatened her, as he staggered towards his sofa, a bloody, beaten mess of a man.

She stood there defiantly after his orders, glaring at him for a long time, debating if she should report herself to detention, of all of the ridiculous things ... She carefully considered her options, there was no one on this ship capable of forcing her into the brig, but she could not dismiss a direct order from that man and not be seen as a traitor to the Empire, he too far outranked her now. He had her, she knew it and he did too ... and that boiled her anger even greater. If this was her fate ... so be it, she would not betray the Inquisitorius even if she had to go down in flames serving the Empire under the most worthless man in history. Without another word she stormed from the room, though she was not going to report directly to detention, she had to get her orders in line before that, but eventually ... the officers in the brig will be treated to a surprise, their new Inquisitor prisoner who would subjugate herself for arrest.

Claudius sat there defeated, in agony, but unwilling to go to sickbay to avoid explaining what had happened to Doctor Tohan. He took his boots off and lay down on the couch, planning to rest there for a long while before attempting to make his way to his quarters. He would spend the night aboard the ship, which would surely fuel the rumors concerning him and his new aide. He felt awful about what had happened with the Inquisitor. It seemed as if his command was yet again in jeopardy ... it was turning into a real disaster for the man once again.

The sound of Arden Zevrin clapping slowly echoed through her chambers as she watched the melodrama conclude. Oh what a holo recording she had obtained. Truly the entire command was seeming to collapse around her, which she had played no small role in orchestrating. A cruel smile curled upon her lips as she once again played the video of Kia Kaen's outburst that nearly killed Major Kiley. A moment later she activated her HoloNet transceiver and broadcast the file to High Inquisitor Antinnis Tremayne. No one ... no one touched her hair and got away with it. She kicked her right foot on the floor and her chair began to spin around wildly as she let out a huge cackle of victory. "Everything is proceeding as I have planned..." she said to one in particular, before getting slightly dizzy at her spinning escapades. Things were about to get a lot more interesting aboard the Warspite and she intended to be the catalyst!

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