Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:4:31) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Leiliani: Rodney Castle).
El-Nay Darr, Commander Kerrie Kiley, Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, Lady Jelena Rodney, Commander Sierra Rodney, and Lady Zara Rodney.

Claudius Rodney could not sleep. Every time the mountain wind blew in and rattled against the windows he assumed it was an assassin coming to harm his family. He sat up in the bed only to discover he was covered in a thin layer of cold sweat. He looked over at Sierra, unsure of whether she was asleep or just pretending, and then quietly he slung his legs over the side of the side of the bed and rose to his feet. There was a twinge of pain from the coldness of the centuries old marble upon the naked soles of his feet. The castle had such a draft. He moved towards the large windows, taking a seat on the sill, and looked down at the city of Leiliani, barely visible through a thick layer of smog that covered it. He could see the refugee center his wife had established in disarray and TIE Strikers soaring overhead ... it was not the Leiliani that he remembered. The war had followed him home. He placed his hand upon the glass and began to draw a picture of what he imaged his son with Sierra would like, as he had doodled on these same panes of glass when he was a child. This was not the condition he wanted to leave the planet to his son. He would have to take action to save Delaya.

It had become increasingly difficult to sleep given the dark clouds that covered the skies of Delaya. No, we aren't talking about the massive pollution problem. Papius Arundel was a devil of many sorts. Seeing him in the medcenter had enraged Sierra Rodney. It wasn't just was Gaius Rodney too. She had forced herself to sit down and watch some of the footage from his living quarters earlier in the day. It was all so disturbing listening to them verbally construct how they were going to kill her and Claudius. It quickly became overwhelming. Their words taunted her while she tried to sleep. Beside her, she could feel her husband tossing and turning. Was he awake or were the nightmares permeating his subconscious? She wasn't sure until he sat up and rose from the bed. At that point, she opened her eyes into the darkness of their room.

Slowly, she escaped the bed sheets and stood. The marble floor was so cold! She shivered, clutching her arms to her chest. Sierra spotted her husband at the window sill. There, she lowered herself beside him. She looked at the picture he was drawing with his finger. She smiled. "I always imagined him with your hair," Sierra's soft voice broke the otherwise quiet in their room. Her hand touched his arm then rolled down it. "What's on your mind, love?" The proper question, in their case, would be what *wasn't* on his mind.

Claudius was slightly startled by Sierra creeping up on him, and he quickly moved to conceal his doodle from her, but she had already seen everything. "Just the foolish dreams of a foolish old man," he commented, as he lifted his head and tried to offer her a smile. "This is not *my* Delaya anymore," he said, as he looked as yet another flight of TIE Strikers moved off into the distance. "I think of Jelena and the things that she said, and then I see this ... and I-I don't know anymore," he said, as he let out a deep sigh that threatened to deflate his entire body. "There is ... there is nothing I can do about *this*..." he lamented, as his hands curled instinctively into fists from unbridled frustration. "...but I am not completely powerless. I still have the Guard ... or rather Gaius has the guard..." he said, before leaping up from the sill and rising to his feet. "I ... I am going to take a shower, but time does not afford you such luxuries. Get dressed. Summon Kerrie to the castle ... irregardless of her physical condition..." he said, as he began to undress and moved towards the refresher. "...and do it quietly," he added, sounding like the Duke of Delaya for the first time since assuming the throne.

Her look softened. The weight that sat upon his shoulders had become so heavy once more. It was physically weighing him down. Sierra hated it. She hated seeing him like this, forced to lay with his stomach up while Papius did whatever he damn well pleased. Powerless. She felt a second adrenaline rush just hearing Gaius' name. It was time to take him out of the equation. He was plotting and scheming in his living quarters. It was time to arrest him, his daughter, and make an example out of them. Her small body tensed. She was sure she understood why he wanted Kerrie at the castle. At last, it was time for the Duke of Delaya to strike back. The worried expression that had settled over her face did not leave. "It shall be done," she said quietly. She disliked the idea of exposing Claudius to Gaius. In her psychological training, she felt that pushing the man against a wall may have some serious negative repercussions. It was with that in mind that Sierra carefully contacted Kerrie and summoned her *as soon as possible*.

While Claudius was in the shower, she dressed in her ISB uniform. The lengthy tunic made it easy for her to wear a holster. For the sake of her family, she equipped herself with two Model Q2 hold-out blaster pistols. Additionally, she made sure she had several throwing knives. It wasn't great...but hey! It was something. She was trained enough that she knew how to use these weapons properly. To protect Claudius, she would do *anything*. After she was dressed, she looked back to the doodle on the window. Bruce had become the symbol of their future. "I won't let your father go off the deep end." She told the image, briefly leaving her room. There was only one Alderaan guard standing watch outside their rooms. Sierra leaned against the wall beside Jelena Rodney. "I need your help." She said quietly.

The only way Jelena Rodney had of spending time with her family was wearing this ridiculous uniform that irregularly fit along with a heavy blast helmet that concealed most ... if not all ... of her face. When Sierra said she needed her help a grin formed upon her face, and she slowly turned to face her childhood friend with an heir of cockiness about her. "You? You need my help?" she said, with a laugh, as she pointed at her own chest. "If it involves helping my dad out of the bathtub you can forget it. There's plenty of people around here who can do that," she said, shaking her head, and waving her hands dramatically in front of her. Whatever was going on upstairs she did *not* want to know about it.

Ahhh Jelena. Sierra knew there was a reason why she regarded her so highly. Actually...there were lots of reasons. In the tension of the situation, Jelena made her friend laugh hard. "But *Jelena*! I'll never get him out myself! I need you!" She said playfully. At least she didn't hate her guts for marrying her father anymore. Sierra quickly became more serious. "No, no... I have a feeling that your father is about to make a move against Gaius Rodney. He had me call Kerrie to come to the castle. I need you to come as backup. I don't want him to get himself killed. Gaius wants that more than anything. Trust me, I've watched way too much footage of him talking about it.." She ran her hand through her hair. It seemed the Duchess was carrying her own weight.

"Move against Gaius? What on Delaya for?" Jelena replied, moving her hand up beneath the blast helmet to scratch at her head slightly. "Why does Gaius want my father killed? What are you talking about Sierra? Did you get into my father's reserve case of Alderaan ruge?" she asked, as she scrunched her eyebrows and examined the woman carefully for signs of intoxication or worse. She was decidedly out of the loop, having no idea what was going on anymore. The machinations of her own family were proving to be as complicated as one of the HoloNet dramas that aired in the early afternoon.

She shook her head quickly. "No! I haven't drunk a drop since I found out I was pregnant. Besides, watching Mother [Livia] the other day changed my opinion on ever drinking again..." She wondered what her blood alcohol level was regularly. Sierra sighed. "It's a long story. Remember how I told you that there was a bomb at your funeral and that Julius was murdered? It was all Gaius. He's been trying to kill his way to the Duchy. I have undeniable proof. He has some daughter... It's so sickening, Jelena." Sierra shook her head. The footage from his living quarters was *terrible*. "She's in on this killing spree. The situation is so weird.... Regardless... I need your help. Please."

The wheels could be seen turning in Jelena's head as Sierra outlined the series of events that had brought them to this point. Her eyes widened and her mouth hung awkwardly agape as if she were a fish. The news that her grandfather had been murdered came as a sickening blow to her, causing her to cry out softly, and stagger backwards. She blinked a few times, staring off into space, as she slowly and painfully processed the news. "I will help," she said, with a soft nod of her helmet, causing the blast helmet to comically fall down over her face. "I will return to Alderaan Guard headquarters and help you from the inside," she said, as she adjusted her helmet and prepared to move out. "Get Kerrie. She'll know what to do," she said, before scampering off into the darkened corridors of the castle. She did not want Sierra to know that it was impossible to be around Kerrie after what she had done to her.

Sierra's heart went out to her best friend. These developments had not been relayed to her because it was too dangerous. Feeling desperate, Sierra had acted rashly. Jelena could help her from the inside. Before she left, Sierra swept her up in a tight hug. "I'm sorry, Jelena. Justice will be served for all the wrong that Gaius has done, I promise you that." With that, she was gone. Sierra watched her leave worriedly. There was no way to protect everyone, she realized. Slowly, she made her way down to the entrance of castle to receive Kerrie as soon as she arrived. She glanced towards the castle tower where Claudius was readying himself. All hell was soon to break lose.

As the speeder moved up the mountainside to Rodney Castle, Commander Kerrie Kiley sat silently inside. She remembered back to the time as a little girl when she was abandoned by her parents and had to ascend a similar mountain for her training with the Mabari. For 20 years she held Claudius Rodney responsible for the dissolution of her family, before failing in her attempt to assassinate him and ending up in indentured servitude to him ever since. He had somehow become the closest thing she had to a father despite the complex history that they shared, so when his wife contacted him and said that she was needed she did not hesitate ... she simply came ... despite the fact she was violating both Imperial orders and the recommendation of her doctors. When the speeder pulled up to the roundabout in front of Rodney Castle, she leapt out, dressed for duty. She looked to Sierra, who had replaced her as adjutant, but she bore her no ill will as she knew it was the machinations of Arden Zevrin that had led to such a switch. She nodded her head before bowing in submission to her. "Milady," she said, with her one word answer, doing her best to conceal a grimace of pain as she lowered her body. The wounds inflicted by Luna Flosgermen still lingered.

High above the castle El-Nay Darr was flying with the use of her jetpack, a Clone Wars era relic that was older than she was. It could short out at any moment and send her plummeting to her death, but she had to know what was going on with Kerrie. She had been told to wait and go and collect Luna and Petrus, but she was never one for following orders. She had shadowed the speeder from the city and up the mountain pass, but she never had any doubt where Kerrie was going. She still remembered when Kerrie abandoned her and broke her heart when she left on her suicide mission to kill Claudius Rodney, and now she had some unbreakable psychological bond with the man. It was above her ability to understand. She had just watched Kerrie put back together and she was not about to watch her break again, so when she saw Sierra come into the picture she adjusted the receiver in her helmet in an attempt to eavesdrop on their conversation. There was no way this Mandalorian was being left out.

It was to Sierra's greatest relief that Kerrie quickly arrived. The woman was a serious asset to the family. She appreciated the Clawdite endlessly, for without her, she could only imagine where they all would be. Her only regret was having to summon her so soon after the incident with Luna. "You don't need to bow, Kerrie..." She said softly. "Thank you for arriving so quickly. Come on, let's go inside." Sierra certainly didn't know that the orange-armored Mandalorian was near. It was surprising to see that Kerrie had not brought El-Nay. It seemed like they had a close bond.

Sierra was silent otherwise. She didn't risk speaking in the corridors where servants, guards, or any ears of Gaius could hear. It felt like paranoia to the highest degree, but they needed the element of surprise on their side. When they reached the staircase leading to her and Claudius' private quarters, she *really* wished it was possible to install a turbolift. After nearly killing Pilaq, she hoped Kerrie would be okay. "How are you feeling?" Sierra asked her quietly. "Were there any other problems with Governor Papius?" She passed through the door leading into her room. When Kerrie had joined her, Sierra used a code to ensure that they wouldn't be interrupted. She led Kerrie to a sitting area where they could all talk *privately*. Sierra sat down on a small love seat. Her head fell into her hand. "I'm sorry to do this to you, Kerrie. We need your help," Sierra thought about Jelena. She was on the first line. She worried that she should have had Jelena run back home to Esseles to be safe.

Kerrie rose slowly and began walking with Sierra through the foreboding structure that was Rodney Castle. There was a sudden and jarring flash of light that briefly illuminated the corridor they walked through, followed by the crash of thunder. A storm had moved in, as if on cue, followed by a light rain. It was the perfect atmosphere for a meeting of this nature. "I am well, milady," she said, in a lie, but was the nature of someone who viewed herself as a servant. "I have had no contact with the Governor. I am due back in the Ringali Shell," she explained, briefly, as they moved towards the seating area. "You need not apologize. Whatever I can do to help I will of course do," she said, before moving to sit opposite Sierra. Her mind began to race with the possibilities of what it was that Sierra and Claudius were about to ask of her. Whatever it was it had to be important and it had to be dangerous.

She worried for the small Clawdite. There was no way that she was at a hundred percent yet. She was glad that Papius hadn't been there to spout his alien hate. Sierra didn't even know where to start. She slunk back in the plush cushions. "It's Gaius Rodney." She started. "We need help arresting him and his daughter. They are guilty of assassinating Duke Julius and attempting to kill both Claudius and myself on multiple occasions." She recalled Bruce Tamir, the guard who had sacrificed himself for her: for her baby. "There's no way to know how far the corruption goes. We suspect the whole Alderaan Guard is tainted. In order to capture Gaius, we're going to have to go through them. I can't guarantee that will be a peaceful affair but it's something that has to be taken care of. We haven't been safe within the walls of the castle in months."

"This never would have happened if I had been permitted to continue in my capacity as bodyguard," Kerrie commented bitterly, and much more bluntly than she was used to speaking. Her gloved hand curled into a fist and slammed onto the arm of the sofa she was sitting on. She let out a dejected sigh, before shaking her head repeatedly. "Milady ... I cannot take on the entire Alderaan Guard by myself," she said, before lowering her head in contemplation. "I suppose I can order the Storm commandos to assist us," she said, knowing full well the problem this would cause with both the Inquisitor and Arden Zevrin. She did not care about herself nearly as she cared about the safety and wellbeing of those she had sworn to protect.

The worst place to be in a lightning storm was 100 feet in the air. El-Nay's old jetpack was struggling to compensate for the spirited gusts of winds that were coming down off the mountains. She had no longer been able to focus her receiver to accurately eavesdrop on the conversation either, which was adding to her frustration. She screamed briefly underneath her helmet as she attempted to control her flight long enough to at least hear *something*. And that is when another blast of lightning came in, drawn to her Mandalorian armor. The lightning connected with her, giving her a tremendous shock, and shorting out of her jetpack. She began falling uncontrollably towards the castle, crashing through the window, and landing awkwardly on the table that separated Sierra from Kerrie. "Uh. Sorry," she said, weakly, between groans, as she attempted to look up at them. But the pain was too much, and after doing no more than a pushup, she collapsed back down onto the remnants of table beneath her.

"I don't doubt that." It was Arden Zevrin who had stripped Kerrie from her position. She was grateful that the Clawdite didn't hold that against her. As soon as possible, Sierra wanted to restore Kerrie to her previous position. What happened simply wasn't fair. It was obvious that a single person, or that only a couple of people, could take the Alderaan Guard out. Her eyebrows furrowed while she considered the options, quickly shaking her head at Kerrie's first suggestion. "As good of an idea as it is, it'll get us all in a heaping load of trouble." She was still considering her words when, quite suddenly, something dropped through the window and crashed into the table between her and Kerrie. Sierra was on her feet, hand darting beneath her tunic within a second. For once, El-Nay's choice of armor proved to be useful. Sierra's mind registered the color before she ripped the helmet from El-Nay's head and killed her. "El-Nay!" She gasped. Stupid, stupid girl!

Forcing her knees to bend, Sierra sat back down on the couch. She leaned over, touching El-Nay on the shoulder. "You should have just knocked.." Now El-Nay was injured too. "Damn it, look at you. Stay put." Sierra rose again. This time, she disappeared into the bathroom. She had learned from Claudius being prone to injury, that keeping an extensive first-aid kit on hand was necessary. From beneath the sink, she pulled a box that clinked as she stood upright. "Our guests are here, my love." She called to him. She returned back to the sitting area. The Duchess sat on her knees beside El-Nay. First, she administered a drug for the pain, then she began looking over the girl. She looked at Kerrie. "Papius mentioned something about Luna and Petrus being involved in some special project with you. As much as I hate to say about them? Can they help?" She hated the idea of being face-to-face with them again. She'd like nothing more than to make them suffer for hurting her, kidnapping Dru, and putting so much more stress on Claudius.

It was at that moment that another unexpected visitor made her appearance: Zara Rodney. Her face was red and she was out of breath. The hellish spire stars had nearly killed her, Pilaq, and Kerrie. She looked panicked and held a single datapad in her hand. "Sierra!" She gasped. Zara had committed crime against the love of her life tonight. Not only had she stolen his ship, she had purposely drugged him before he fell asleep. Zara had made up her mind: she was going to kill Luna Ta'em and her husband. She armed herself with a combination of both of their weapons. She even took Marcus' droids with her. All three of them hovered close to her as if they were taking over his position as her protector. As terrible as she felt, she knew he'd understand why she decided to take care of her sister *herself*. Marcus would always feel guilt about killing her sister. He'd be waiting for the day when Zara decided she hated him for doing the deed.

Zara had hacked into the Imperial garrison to get additional information on Luna and Petrus' whereabouts. Sierra had given them information, not eyes. It was then that she discovered something terrible: an arrest warrant for her sister-in-law. She intercepted the message and did what she could to delay it from happening while she zoomed towards the Rodney Castle. Now she was there, no longer caring that her 'secret' identity had been exposed. She walked towards the Duchess. "Look." She huffed, showing her the datapad with her arrest warrant on it. "It says Papius has proof that you're aiding the Rebels. I did what I could to delay your arrest. They are *going* to come for you." Having overheard Sierra speaking as she entered the room, Zara recalled the real reason behind leaving her home late in the night. "I know where Petrus and Luna are. I can go get them to help you guys. It sounds like you'll need it." She had to kill them.

Another flash of light briefly illuminated the room followed by a sudden crash of thunder that indicated the storm was much closer ... perhaps directly over the castle now. Into the light stepped Claudius Rodney who was dressed in the formal attire of Duke of Delaya rather than his Imperial Grand Moff's uniform. "Then we haven't much time," he said, in response to Zara's startling news, as he moved to take control of the situation. "Commander Kiley, it has come to our attention that Gaius Rodney and his 'child' are responsible for the death of His Majesty's advisor," he said, grimly, as he attempted to feign sympathy for the repulsive man. "I regret to inform you that as a peaceful planet Delaya does not have the means to deal with this matter itself," he continued, as he had spent considerable time formulating the legality of his actions within the shower. "I therefore request Imperial intervention to arrest the criminals," he said, doing his best not to smile ... quite proud of himself for the way he had laid everything out. With Gaius Rodney and his daughter in Imperial custody his family would be safe and the Alderaan Guard would be loyal to him. Then ... then he could deal with Governor Papius Arundel.

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