Kia was grumpy, Captain Serra had
thought it appropriate to give her a copy of the official death
certificate and letter of condolence that was sent along with it. The
teenager had blamed the Captain for this and she was the focus of Kia's
anger, being honest with herself she was even a bit irritated at her
Master. She had entered her quarters, locking the door behind her and
dropped heavily into the chair in front of the data center worthy set-up
she had going. The teenager had always turned to the nets when things
had irritated her, and it had been ages, to her at least, since she had
really found something interesting to do. Idly tapping on the keyboard
in front of her, an amused but slightly malicious grin spread across her
young face. Pulling up a clean command console, she began the usual data
hops to mask her location, she was upset but not careless. She did not
know what she was looking for at first, but thoughts of her parents and
family had pulled her attention towards what should have been her
profession. Ships, and research and development. Nothing interesting
going on at Mon Cal yards, bouncing through the various connections and
menus, disregarding the more mundane craft in production. Calling up the
terminals at Kuat, she started skimming through ships in production,
mostly Imperial craft ... big surprise there ... and this was starting
to look like a bust as well until she came across a file that even with
the backdoor access she was going through was still secured. Talking to
herself, ''Huh ... what've we got here? Someone wants you to be a secret
don't they..." With that, she had her task, she wouldn't release the
information to the public, this was more about keeping her individuality
not causing harm. Her typing grew more enthusiastic as the file eluded
her access twice, she never tried a file more than three times, it would
likely cause all sorts of red flags to be tripped. She half-closed her
eyes, letting her fingers flit over the keys, typing at what felt
random. When she looked up at the screen the slow grin returned. Maybe
the Force was useful for things other than killing and hurting. The
quick scrolling of data and specifications for this grand warship had
her full attention, eyes going wide at some of the specs. Quickly
grabbing a spare datacard, she started downloading the entire project
file. Surprisingly, she felt a lot more at peace after this little
excursion into the illegal lands of her past time. Kia looked over at
the chrono and was surprised to find nearly two hours had past. She
grabbed her datapad and the card with the information on it, heading to
the door, when it did not open, she remembered that she had locked it
and moments later was animatedly knocking on Serine's door.
Serine was surprised when she felt Kia's
presence on the opposite side of the door, sensing her approach well
before she even knocked as their bond was strong in close proximity. The
Inquisitor assumed her apprentice would spend a good portion of the day
sulking, and she had planned to allow it to happen, determined to at
least have the illusion of understanding and thus be a far better mentor
than Tremayne had been to her. The moment Kia knocked on the door, it
slid open to introduce Serine standing there looking rather perplexed
and intrigued at the young girl before her that seemed a bit excited.
This was an unexpected visit and the Inquisitor attempted to surmise the
reason, noticing the datacard in Kia's hands instantly. ''Well?" A
simple question, she waited for the girl to explain the details,
assuming she had found something of interest.
''Master Thanor! You *have* to see what
I found. This is *amazing*! It's *huge*, I mean in a real sense, it's so
pretty. I can even ignore the whole death by paper trail to show you
this." The girl was nearly bouncing where Kia stood in excitement.
''You're still in the doorway. Need computer...or do you want to come
next door and see it on mine? We really need a hallway between rooms ...
this is inconvenient."
Her apprentice was nearly vibrating in
place with dramatic animation, obviously overly excited about a
discovery of some sort. Serine was only slightly miffed since she found
this to be more tolerable than a sullen and testy teenager. Apparently
the Inquisitor could not move fast enough as it seemed Kia could not
hold back her youthful demeanor that was prone to over hyping things.
She could only assume her apprentice had been on the holonet and she was
going to be really disappointed if Kia was so desperate to show her a
new holonet singer. Teenagers... ''So you have been on the holonet instead
of training?" Said with contempt as she directed them towards her
terminal, not sure if she should even give Kia opportunity to disclose
what she was so anxious about. ''Let us see it then." Almost said with a
The teenager actually squeaked happily
as she scooted past Serine and then Sanu to get to the terminal in her
Master's room. This was of course a copy of the original datacard, the
one she she actually copied the information to was safely in her
quarters. Kia inserted the card, and began tapping quickly to pull the
information up onto the holoscreen on the table, the sleek shape of the
Star Dreadnaught slowly rotating with the smaller research and
development tables beneath and to the sides of it. ''Isn't she pretty?"
Well this was a real surprise! Who would
have thought a moody teenager could uncover obviously classified
information and a Star Dreadnaught no less. Just the knowledge of this
information could have been extremely dangerous for anyone under their
prestige, and no doubt many were executed to keep the knowledge of this
vessel secured. ''You uncovered this information in the time between
visiting the Captain?" Said in disbelief as Serine leaned closer to the
screen, analyzing the detailed notations. ''The ... Executor?"
Said as the Inquisitor read the readout of the proposed name of the
warship. Serine took a deep breath as she leaned back into her chair,
staring at the readout nearly transfixed. Surely the Governor would want
to be privy to this monumental information, and she was still in slight
shock that Kia managed to uncover this, and she doubted her apprentice
even understood the importance of her discovery.
''I ... was angry and I know my skill
level in this arena, Master. I can keep up with one of the most wanted
'criminals' Intel is looking for, getting into an R&D lab, took a little
more work, but I do know what I'm doing. I just kind of let my mind and
I guess the Force guide me to a ship that was still in research and
development, Mon Cal is boring right now and this one ... this one is at
Kuat." Kia shrugged uncomfortably, she knew she was supposed to have
gone back to her quarters and train, ''I saw that too! I guess it kind
of looks like a knife-blade not on a hilt, and the *weapons* compliment.
Yeah, that name fits her. I just wanted to share this discovery with
''You did well to show me, and I assume
I was the *only* person you told?" Surely Kia would be wise enough not
to throw around Imperial secrets of this magnitude, at least not without
asking Serine first. ''So ... the Kuat shipyards have been harboring a
secret, a massive one in fact. I believe it is time for us to visit the
Grand Moff with this information." She paused for a moment, realizing
that she had not yet formally introduced her official apprentice to
Rodney. It had only been a day so it was well within an acceptable
timeline. Serine was not actually sure how the Governor would receive
the news of now having access to *two* Inquisitors though he rarely ever
even requested Serine's assistance in anything ... she frowned at that
thought. No matter, he deserved to know this information and to have the
honor of being introduced to Serine's new pupil. ''I believe it is time
for a new lesson in Imperial tradition." A bit hypocritical as the
Inquisitor's history with Rodney was far less than professional. ''We
are going to demand a bit of the Grand Moff's time today. Do try to be ...
The teenager looked a mix of hurt and
offended, scowling slightly, ''I didn't make my choice lightly to join
you, Master, I wouldn't do something to hurt or intentionally undermine
our chances for success in any area. I may have been a data specialist,
but even they have codes of honor. You really thought I would take this
to anyone *but* you first?" Kia had crossed her arms, looking a little
grumpy again, surely her Master did not think *that* little of her...
Tilting her head, Kia had observed some
of the Grand Moff's feeds that Zevrin had set up, so meeting him would
be interesting, ''Why would he want the information, Master?" Kia had
been listening and blinked again, ''We can do that? Just demand
someone's time? Neat! Hey.. I'm always respectful. To people who deserve
Serine stopped herself from saying
something disrespectful about Rodney, only two seconds after she said to
be respectful. Perhaps it would be far better to allow her apprentice to
form her own opinions about that man, as Serine's dealings with him did
not necessarily have to wash over into Kia's. The Inquisitor ignored the
young Kaen's objection and focused on her question regarding their
influence and power on this ship. ''Of course, though I would heavily
suggest you refrain from it until you can handle yourself. Strength and
ability is what people respect and it is far better to be feared in
these circumstances. I was assigned to this vessel to be the Grand
Vizier's eyes and ears and to also ensure victory in this sector by
*any* means necessary. It is my responsibility to remove by force if
necessary any who would prevent success or would hinder our objectives.
However, this is not your purpose for being here, you are merely to
learn and grow in your training, and if you survive the future trials,
be awarded Inquisitor and your own missions. Now! Let us go meet with
the Governor." Serine removed the datadisk from the terminal.
She had not realized just how much
influence Serine carried aboard the Warspite, other than the
Force. It made sense to learn what she was doing before trying to throw
weight around and Kia had been nodding in all the right places as she
listened. Kia nearly flailed as she watched Serine remove the disk
without shutting *anything* down first, ''Master! Don't do that! You
could corrupt data, break things, just ... augh! *No*." It was clear she
was speaking strictly from a data techie's point of view here, not that
of an apprentice, and the look of horror on her face was clear of that.
''Data is fragile, think of it like an egg. Would you just slam an egg
in a door? Or would you make sure the egg was safely in a container
before closing the door? I'm just glad that's a copy..." She was
semi-ranting about data safety as Serine was ushering her out of the
Serine was fully startled when Kia got
so passionate about the datacard, causing her to fumble the thing all
over the desk before it dropped to the ground. ''What? What?!" Said with
an exasperated gasp as she stared at Kia with confusion and shock before
she slammed a fist on the table causing the other items to bounce once.
''Don't scare me like that!" She yelled though it was obvious she was
not nearly as keen on technical issues are her apprentice and did not
fully understand the dos and don'ts of technology. With a growl, she
picked up the fallen datapad before fiercely glaring at Kia. ''Are you
done?!" Said with an angry huff before composing herself a moment later
and taking the initiative towards the door.
''Remind me to give you a crash course
on data and information safety at some point, Master. Please? Or I'm
going to have an aneurysm before I'm twenty." It was said good
naturedly, still a little sarcastically, but very good naturedly. ''OK.
Datacards, datapads, terminals, anything with bits going from here to
there, have a start *up* and shut *down* procedure. Would you clip your
lightwhip to your belt while it was still active? Or a lightsaber? No
they could hurt you. You can hurt data just the same way. If it's not
closed down properly, it can get corrupted and not display right
anymore. I didn't mean to startle you, I just ... I'm sorry." Kia had
fallen into step with her Master, falling quiet.
Liliya Benedt stood in front of the
Grand Moff's office like she had been for the past few days, attempting
to gently ease him into a schedule he could be capable of following. She
had to cancel all appointments the day before due to her worry that her
charge was accumulating far too much stress. As much as it had pleased
her to assist him and allow his relaxation, that had put them far behind
and Liliya was struggling to organize today's appointments in a matter
that optimized the Governor's time while he was currently in the proper
mindset. The aid sympathized with many of the individuals whose
appointments continued to be push back, many had requested to see Rodney
for almost a week. One such occupant was Doctor Cole Shuura who had put
in a request the very day he was first assigned to the Warspite
and was only now being summoned to the Grand Moff's office. Pleased that
things were moving along, she made a few notations in her datapad for
his summoning not moments before she noticed Inquisitor Thanor and
Apprentice Inquisitor Kaen. Oh dear ... Liliya was not at all excited with
this notion. Perhaps they were not here to see Rodney, perhaps if she
stood very still, they would not see her.
There were not enough hours in the day.
Perhaps if he were free to focus on the duties of being a Grand Moff
there would be. Perhaps if he were were to just be a husband and a
father there would be. But it seemed as if the attempt to balance a
personal life with a career not only threatened to undo him, but those
around him as well. As he stood at the viewport his fists were clenched,
unbeknownst to him as his body attempted to relieve the stress and
tension in any way that it could. From what he understood, he had an
appointment with Doctor Cole Shuura pending ... perhaps it would help, or
perhaps it would just serve to infuriate him further and push him
farther behind. He needed a vacation, but there was no time off for the
governor of a priority sector. And if he were to take leave, he would
only return to find more chaos, and more work awaiting him.
Doctor Cole Shuura strolled down the
passageway leading to the Grand Moff. He wore his khaki pants and a new
shirt featuring blumfruit of a different color. Sewn onto the shirt,
over his heart and on the pocket was an emblem signifying his allegiance
to the Empire. He assumed it would make him not stand out so much on the
Imperial ship. He stopped a few paces in front of Liliya, beaming with
the success of making another mark in his career and pushed his small
glasses higher up on his pointed nose. A meeting he had with the Grand
Moff. He had met his fair share of famous people before, but perhaps no
one who commanded such power. ''Greetings lovely Ms. Benedt. I believe
we have an arrangement." His tone was professional, but she would have
easily noticed the way his eyes traced her form.
Kia got a purely mischievous wicked grin
as she spotted Doctor Shuura, offering a mocking half-bow, but did not
say anything yet, waiting to see how her Master reacted to the sight of
the flamboyant creature that was the ships 'counselor'.
Serine tried her best to suppress the
urge to roll her eyes as Kia continued to spout out dribble about the
merits of technology, but she refrained, barely, as she felt her mind
drift with boredom. Her attention was heightened dramatically the moment
they turned a corner and she spotted Liliya Benedt and that ... 'doctor'.
This was already annoying her as apparently she was going to need to
assert their importance here for anything Doctor Shuura needed could not
possibly be as significant as the Inquisitor's reason for a visit to the
Grand Moff's office. In addition, Liliya was always an irritating thorn
and Serine heavily contemplated an altercation right in the hallway.
Serine needed to be an appropriate example to her apprentice and this
was a perfect situation to showcase their clout aboard this vessel. The
Inquisitor fiercely stalked over to where the Doctor was standing in
front of Liliya and abruptly shoved him directly out of the way so that
now she alone was standing in front of the aid in an aggressive posture.
''My apprentice and I will now see the Governor." There was no
negotiation possibilities in her voice.
Doctor Shuura turned to see the two
coming down the hall. He had met Kia and returned her not-knowingly
mocking half-bow with a perhaps mocking half-bow of his own. He was
still slightly afraid of her, but at least she was not accompanied by
some sort of nasty creature. The female with her looked inhospitable and
dangerous in her own right, but perhaps less vicious than a gaping,
snarling Nexu maw filled pointy teeth and bad breath. Doctor Shuura
connected the dots however and realized this woman must be the other's
master, Serine Thanor who he had tried to visit on a few occasions.
Apparently, she was not getting the messages. ''Ms. Thanor, a pleasant
surprise to ... ugh!" The Doctor was interrupted mid sentence by a
sudden and aggressive push by the Inquisitor. The impact led him into a
second impact with the wall. He slumped down; however, regained himself
and stood behind her, angered for two reasons. His short round stature
left his anger causing no intimidation as he looked up and argued to her
shoulder in short ragged breaths, ''I scheduled a meeting with the Grand
Moff. Perhaps you could follow the same protocol. It's bad enough that
you pushed me for no reason, but now you attempt to thief my spot?"
Reason would have told him that Sith have never been someone to mess
with, but it was simple for anger to bypass reason.
There was an emergency protocol flashing
in Liliya's databanks like a blinding red light as she witnessed the
events before her begin to escalate to dangerous proportions. There was
a soft yelp that escaped her as Doctor Shuura got shoved from in front
of her and replaced by a scathing Inquisitor. Benedt found herself
pressed up against the door leading into the Governor's room terrified
that there was about to be a physical confrontation right outside his
office, with the horror that she may be pulled into it. The datapad she
held tightly to her chest was accessed in a panic as the button that
linked the pad to his desk comm unit was rapidly pressed in succession.
Liliya couldn't fathom how a psychiatrist could lack such ... sense to
purposely instigate trouble with an Inquisitor and the color began to
drain from usually such lively cheeks as the thought of what may come
next crossed her.
When he heard the panic button he was
instantly pulled from the trance-like state he had only moments before
existed in. Was it an attack, like had occurred at Captain Anson's
chambers only weeks prior. Liliya was all he could think about in that
instant, and he rushed for the desk where he still foolishly kept a
DH-17 blaster pistol. Grabbing it from the top drawer, he wondered when
he last fired a blaster and had assumed it had been during the Battle of
Skor II during the Clone Wars. Checking to make sure the safety was off,
he bolted towards the door at his top speed ... which was not much for a
man of 55 years. As he reached the door it opened, but instead of seeing
a Rebel attack there was something much worse ... Inquisitor Thanor. "What
is the meaning of this?" he demanded, as he lowered his sidearm and
waited for those around him to make sense of the matter. "Are you all
right?" he asked softly of the young Liliya, his prime concern at the
Serine could not believe the bold
insolence of Doctor Shuura, already agitated about the situation, but
his ill-placed remarks and accusations put the Inquisitor completely off
tilt and approaching infuriation. Fortunately for Liliya, her dire
attention was completely derailed from the petite woman to the portly
middle aged man and in an instant she was upon him. Both hands clutched
his demeaning flowery shirt, and in a rage, pulled him up from a
standing position and threw him viciously into the nearby wall. The
Inquisitor followed the brunt attack, still holding tightly to that
man's apparel, now pushing him up cruelly against the wall so that he
was hanging. There was an ominous crackling in the air as the Inquisitor
had reached a boiling over point and at the moment her rage was blinding
her to any possible repercussions. As far as she was concerned, the
Doctor had crossed a line so ignorantly, she had to make an example of
him in front of her apprentice. The pressure in the surrounding air
seemed to increase to a point of severe discomfort around that
unfortunate man until suddenly the unseen tension caused a thin fracture
in the doctor's glasses before the duraglass exploded into a dozen
pieces, sending shrapnel in a concentrated direction towards Shura's
pudgy face. There was a moment when Serine was building for a further
offensive but her concentration in the Force was severed the moment
Rodney stepped into the hallway and her attention was divided. With a
snarl, she savagely threw the doctor to the durasteel plating before
stepping over his body towards the Governor. ''My apprentice and I ...
have an appointment, now." She said bluntly, still brimming with
malicious intent left over from her assault on the doctor.
Kia watched the exchange silently,
trying to see what Serine was doing more than the results of what
happened. She intended to take her orders to watch and learn very
seriously, she thought she understood how the glass was fractured, but
she couldn't figure out at first how her Master had sent the glass in a
directed push. Pausing just for an instant to study the damage caused
the teenager couldn't hide a snicker, ''Looks like you'll have to
reschedule. So sorry, Doc. Maybe make a mini series out of it!", she
quickly hopped over the fallen Doctor and returned to Serine's side,
blinking up at the Grand Moff.
Doctor Shuura laid against the wall
without a complaint or even a sound. He could feel the warmth oozing
over his face. Blood, he assumed as he confirmed another ruined shirt by
the wetness that trailed from his face. He did not dare to open his eye
to see the result of his bravery. He was not sure if he could see, but
would not attempt to try until he got proper medical treatment. He was
in pain but he didn't let it torment him. He couldn't help the bad
situation, but he still got his small victory. The young innocent lady
in the black dress was made safe with his taunt. It was the least he
could do to make the universe a better place. In lieu of doing anything,
Doctor Shuura chose to wait for the help that must be coming.
Miss Benedt shrieked as the Inquisitor
all-out attacked the poor Doctor causing the man to bleed protrusively
from multiple lacerations on his face. She was all too relieved when
Rodney burst from the office with a blaster no less. Her programming
caused her to quickly move behind him as if urged by instinct for
self-preservation. Her small frame quivered with stress and fear behind
him as dainty hands grasped at the back of his uniform, clinging to him
as if he were her only life preserver. ''Milord..." Said with a trembling
soft voice, ''... I didn't know what else to do... I'm sorry!" Said in a
near panic, fearful to look around him to see the damage occurring.
Losing himself for a moment, he turned
to the panic-stricken Liliya who was trembling behind him. "It will be
all right, my dear," Claudius said softly, as he placed one arm around
her in an embrace meant to steady her nerves. Little did the man know
that it was all part of a carefully made program, designed to ruse him
into becoming close to the droid that was at play here. "In the office ...
quickly," he said to Inquisitor Thanor, as he used his other hand to
furiously wave in the direction of his open door. Once that was done,
and he was convinced he had some privacy, he brought both of his hands
up to the side of the woman's face, with a gentle touch with the hope of
steadying her nerves. Pushed too far, he lowered his head and placed a
quick, almost paternal kiss upon her forehead. Satisfied that the
situation was at hand, he then headed into the office to deal with the
Inquisitors ... leaving Doctor Shuura to his fate.
Serine brushed past the still fretting
Liliya who at that time was signalling for the medical team to retrieve
an injured occupant from outside the Grand Moff's office. The Inquisitor
was all too thankful to be rid of two annoyances at once, now in the
privacy of the Governor's place of business so that they could focus on
far more important matters. ''Governor, I don't believe you have been
officially introduced to Apprentice Inquisitor Kaen." Said with a frigid
exterior but also with a noticeable tinge of pride as she motioned to
Kia who had been standing behind her as appropriate. ''But this is not
the only reason for our visit ... I shall allow her to explain it to you."
This would be the first time Serine verbally requested that Kia be the
one to direct the conversation, as now it was the young Kaen's privilege
and also, Serine was not the sharpest at ... explaining technical matters.
Eager to prove she could be as
respectful as necessary, Kia offered a half-bow, her blue-green eyes
blinked once, ''It is a pleasure to meet you, Governor." She was doing
her best to keep her expression neutral, she really was working on that,
some things like electronics and ships and explosives got her as
animated as a teenager could be. ''Thank you, Master Thanor. Governor,
may I use your terminal? I have the information here on a data card."
Assuming she would indeed be given the permission, she stepped over to
the terminal, inserting the datacard into it's reader and tapping a few
commands to open the correct files, revealing the same beautiful, sleek,
deadly ship as before. This time without most of the technical data
along with it, this was more of a production view. ''This is the
Executor, she is a new breed of Star Destroyer." There was a note
of awe in her voice as she was explaining the ship. ''The shipyards at
Kuat is where she's being built." It was then that she tapped the
commands in to bring up a slimmed down version of the weaponry,
shielding, and engine capabilities. If Kuat needed a salesperson for
this ship, Kia would probably be awesome at the job.
Now there are two of them, Claudius
thought to himself with some degree of trepidation. As if his problems
were not multiplying enough, now the ranks of the Inquisitorious aboard
his ship were multiplying as well. All he could do was offer a polite,
politically fashioned smile at the direction of the Inquisitor. His
attention then shifted to the young Kia, who seemed to be roughly the
same age as his daughter Drusilla. He could never imagine her in such a
capacity, and when his eyes caught a glimpse of the two lightsaber hilts
attached to her he was immediately drawn back to his youth in the Clone
Wars. But suddenly the two beings ceased to exist and all he could see
was the technical readouts of the Executor. "Thank you,
Inquisitor," he said to Kia, before moving forward to take over the
controls. He wondered how they could have concealed the development of
such a massive vessel, and instantly he coveted one. A smile appeared on
his lips, and without knowing he was doing it, he hungrily licked at his
bottom lip. "Thank you very much indeed," he concluded, before turning
his attention back to the duo. "I must confer with my staff," he
explained to them, before moving swiftly towards the comm panel.
"Liliya, could you alert Captain Anson to assemble his senior staff at
my office ... immediately," he said with a sense of urgency, before seeing
the two Inquisitors out.
"It is called the Executor,"
the cold, foreign voice of Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca began, as she
stood in front of a large holoprojector that displayed a large, rotating
modeling of the Star Dreadnaught. "As you can see it is exponentially
larger and more powerful than even the new Imperial II-class
Star Destroyers entering service. It is a fleet unto itself ... if you had
asked me prior to seeing the schematics I would not have thought it
possible to build such a vessel," the Chiss tactical officer concluded,
before her red eyes scanned over the officers that had hurriedly
gathered for a briefing.
"Well now I've seen everything. Next
they'll be building weapons capable of destroying entire systems!"
Captain Tiberius Anson exclaimed, as his eyes shifted from the
holographic model to the technical readouts that were on the datapad in
front of him. "I think we must have one. The Rebels would be forced to
withdraw their entire capital force at the mere presence of a warship
such as this," he said, as his attention turned towards the Grand Moff.
"May I ask how you came across this information, Milord? The material
seems to be highly classified," he asked, slightly concerned at how
information like this was getting around. After all, if they knew ... then
soon the Rebels would surely know as well.
Grand Moff Claudius Rodney laughed
softly at Tiberius' question, but deflected it, as he did not want to
reveal to his staff that he had come to rely on a teenage Apprentice
Inquisitor. "As a Grand Moff I have access to information from a variety
of channels," he explained, vaguely referencing the events that led to
its discovery, without directly referencing the Inquisitorius.
"Lieutenant Ames, have you been able to get any information from
unofficial channels through Admiral Griff's staff?" he asked, tilting
his head slightly towards the Operations Officer. He was at his most
professional stature in ages, having become reinvigorated by the
discussions surrounding the Empire's new wonder weapon.
Lieutenant Allegra Ames cleared her
throat, and taking a sip of water, before she addressed the other
officers. "Milord, it seems that Admiral Griff is deceased. Admiral
Ozzel now commands the Executor," she paused, as there was a
great deal of murmuring and gasps from the officer corps. "The Rebel
force has been driven from the fourth moon of the planet Yavin, and the
new vessel performed superbly," she said cheerfully, hoping that
offering some good news might but a spring in everyone's step.
"I am confident that the Rebellion will
soon be crushed, and it will be the Imperial Navy that delivers the
ultimate victory," Commander Augustus Hood said confidently,
as his brown eyes looked longingly at the model of the Executor.
"However, most of the Rebel activity has been focused in the Outer Rim.
That is where the bulk of their fleet is concentrated as they cowardly
run from every engagement. I do not think that they would assign one
here ... as it stands it took a great bit of effort to secure even a
second Star Destroyer," he said, grimly assessing the situation. He
knew, as the others did, that the Empire was reluctant to deploy
resources to the Ringali Shell, to give the illusion that all was well.
Lieutenant Bethany Sheppard sat
silently as she examined the model of the Star Dreadnaught. Already she
was at the helm of a pathetically slow Star Destroyer, that was a labor
to navigate with. She expected this much larger warship to move even
slower, and be incredibly more difficult to navigate. She was amazed by
the hangar capacity and longed for the desire to pilot something more
nimble. In retrospect, it was a mistake for her to enter the navy, when
she would have much rather been piloting a starfighter ... but she was
twice rejected by the TIE program and so desperately wanted to escape
the poverty or Berchest that she took the first commission was offered.
Many officers would have coveted a position on the bridge of a command
ship, but she looked with longing to the freedom of a TIE fighter ...
blissfully unaware of the dangers kept within.
"If you ask me ... and you haven't ... I
think that the more complex they make these things the more that can go
wrong," the voice of the seasoned engineer, Lieutenant Mark Alexander,
sounded off. "Back in my Corellian Defense Force days we utilized small,
easy to operate, easy to service craft," he explained, reminiscing from
his earlier days as he was oft to do to the boredom of many of his
compatriots. "It's a struggle to service this beast of a ship, but that
monster? It must be a nightmare. Leave it to someone else to worry
about," he concluded, feeling quite impressed with the Executor
as she appeared in the schematics ... but he had been around long enough
to know that reality was often far more harsh and unpredictable than
what was contained on a datapad. As a Corellian, he was naturally biased
against Kuati designs, but he honestly believed that a new ship, this
large, and that complex was bound to have designed flaws that he did not
wish to be confronted with.
Claudius looked over the senior staff of
the Warspite for several moments of silence. He had come to
rely on them for years, going back to when he was merely an Admiral
tasked with patrolling the Bilbringi system. They had stuck by him at
his lowest moments when he had been reassigned to Malastare, and he had
come to both respect them professionally and trust them personally.
There were dangers to be sure, and perhaps it was his ego, or his need
to compensate for lacking something else ... but he was now convinced he
*had* to have this ship. "Very well. I will travel to Kuat and make a
personal request of Kuat of Kuat himself. He cannot deny me," he
boasted, as he rose from his seat at the head of the table, a motion
which the other officers quickly emanated. "I reward loyalty. And I do
not want to have to learn the eccentricities of a new staff ... when this
new ship is made available, I'll have you all transferred," he informed
them, with a kind smile, which was met with a chorus of applause and
cheers. He thought the matter was settled, and was preparing to collect
his datapad and adjourn the meeting, when he was interrupted.
"Milord, is this wise?" Lieutenant
Meham'ohorovi'cloca asked, her facial expression unmoved by the news
that excited the others. "The Rebellion has displays no major capital
presence in the Ringali Shell. This Star Dreadnaught would be overkill ...
as if we were smashing insects ... we already have more than enough
firepower in these sectors to destroy the Rebel forces tenfold.
Moreover, it will present an all too attractive target for Rebel spies
and saboteurs. If, by some miracle, they were able to damage or destroy
the vessel it would be a propaganda coup," she concluded, to the great
dismay and consternation of her fellow officers. "In short, Governor, we
would gain nothing while providing the enemy much to gain," she said, as
her hand moved to the control panel and deactivated the holographic
The Grand Moff could not help but roll
his eyes at his overzealous tactical officer, becoming increasingly
displeased with her cautious, defensive strategy as of late. "I value
your concerns, Mohorovic, but if I can acquire one of these Star
Dreadnaughts ... we will put it to good use," he said, as he moved past
the group of officers that was filing out of the room, to draw closer to
her. "And I expect your help in putting it to good use," he said to her
softly, as he raised his hand to her shoulder, to offer her a reassuring
Once the officers had left, he turned
his attention to his aide, Liliya Benedt, who had been taking minutes of
the meeting in the back of the room. "You know, there's always the real
chance the Kuatis may not want to assign me one of these warships," he
said, as he brought his right hand up to stroke at his chin, thinking
over his situation. "Inform Inquisitor Thanor to meet us on the flight
deck. Let her know we will be traveling to Kuat," he said to her,
somewhat reluctantly, given how their last encounter had went. "...and
you will be going too. I may need you," he said, somewhat softly,
revealing just how much he had come to depend on her.
With some apprehension, Captain Randi
Trainor hurried across the flight deck to the Lambda-class
shuttle Kwai, despite having not had the opportunity to fly the Grand
Moff in quite sometime her mind still dwelled on the beating she had
been given by Inquisitor Thanor. The blonde's classic, wide-eyed smile
was no longer plastered upon her face, as she began the preflight check
of the vessel. Her black uniform had once again fallen into disrepair
and there was still dried blood present, as Allegra had only arranged
for it to have been cleaned and pressed for her promotion ceremony.
Despite her promotion to Captain, she had fallen into her old routines
concerning her appearance and attitude.
"Hey. What are you doing here? This is
*my* ship now," Flight Lieutenant Haven Anson shouted at Randi, quite
displeased to see her skulking about. "I've been assigned to pilot the
Governor's shuttle. This isn't your post anymore ... you're over there,"
she said, motioning over towards the Darkened Oblivion. "You off your
meds again?" she asked, sounding quite mean, as she started doing a
near-identical pre-flight check to the one Randi was doing.
"Listen, you blonde bim-" Randi began,
but then stopped suddenly once she realized that she, too, was in fact a
blonde. It took her a moment before she said anything else, and her face
seemed to drift off into blank space as she attempted to find something
else to say. "Listen, you. I'm a Captain now", she said, as she puffed
up her chest, and angled her new rank insignia at the junior officer.
"And that means ya gotta do what I say!" she shouted, going off on a bit
of an ego trip with her newfound power. "And I says I'm flying this
mission. You can co-pilot," she said, offering a nod of her head so firm
that it caused both of her pigtails to flail up and down wildly.
Although she was not aware of it, she was taking out her hostility
towards Serine on the junior officer.
Inquisitor Thanor was pleased when she
was informed her presence was requested by the Grand Moff to accompany
him to Kuat. She could only assume he was anxious to investigate the
Executor since she had recognized a lust for power swirling in his
eyes when her apprentice introduced him to the warship. Serine's trip to
the flight deck was an amusing one due to young Kaen physically
vibrating with excitement behind her every step of the way. Kia's reward
for uncovering such top secret material was the opportunity to travel by
Serine's side to the Kuat shipyards along with the rest of Rodney's
entourage. Serine arrived at the tail end of the conversation between
Randi and Haven, but from what she did gather, she nodded in approval
towards Captain Trainor with a knowing look. It was about time her pilot
started to pull rank and use the power that the Inquisitor afforded to
her. Besides, it was *days* since that violent incident with her pilot,
she assumed Randi had already moved on.
Kia was trying her best to be
professional, but they were actually going to *see* the ship she had
discovered. This was so exciting! She was carrying her trusty backpack,
her lightsabers were both clipped to her belt, and the teenager was
nearly bouncing along next to her Master. The stark contrast between
Master and Apprentice made the girls age even more apparent. She darted
up the ramp to the shuttle, pure youthful exuberance, moments later she
had poked her head into the cockpit, ''Hi! Can I help with something? I
know how to fly. We're going to Kuat! Hi Randi!"
"Kia!" Randi exclaimed, as she saw the
young girl who she had recently transported to the Prakith system.
Rushing forward, and without offering much in the way of professional
behavior, she wrapped both of her arms around the youngster and gave her
a big hug. "Ooof!" she groaned, as she lifted Kia into the air, spinning
her around in a circle, before placing her back down in roughly the same
location as she began. "I was just explaining to Lieutenant 'Captain's
Daughter' here that I'm flying this one," she boasted, looking over her
shoulder to glare at the younger, junior officer once again.
"Ugh. Fine. I cannot deal with anymore
of this," Haven said, gritting her teeth and growing quite red with
frustration. It was just one mission, she thought silently, convincing
herself that she could tolerate Randi's unorthodox behavior for a short
while. Exhaling sharply, and shaking her head with some frustration she
began walking up the ramp to take her reluctant position in the
co-pilot's seat. Her father had encouraged her to be nice to Randi, and
she would do her utmost to please him, to continue to advance her career
through paternal nepotism.
Grand Moff Claudius Rodney strode
confidently onto the flightdeck, carrying with him a datapad that
contained all of the information that had been acquired on the
Executor-class Star Dreadnought. He was not at all pleased at the
infighting between Captain Trainor and Lieutenant Anson, but the sight
of the Inquisitors was most welcome. He was quite sure that if Kuat of
Kuat declined his request that these two Force-sensitives could find a
way to compel the man to see things his way. "We don't have time for
this. Everyone get on board," and with that, he moved right past those
assembled by the ship and headed towards the shuttle.
Miss Benedt was eager to shadow the
Governor on this mission for the sole purpose of absorbing statistics
and information on this classified warship. However, she was very uneasy
with the prospect of working in close proximity to both Inquisitors,
especially after the bloody and frightening display that transpired not
but a few hours prior. Liliya had been keeping a steady pace to the left
and behind her charge but when she caught sight of Inquisitor Thanor,
she was all the more desperate to get on the ship quickly to avoid any
initial contact, rushing past Rodney to disappear inside the shuttle.
Major Kerrie Kiley hurried into the
hangar bay, in hot pursuit of the Grand Moff. "Milord, I have rested,
have been cleared by Doctor Tohan, and am ready to return to duty at
your side," she said, sounding eager, and offering the closest thing she
could to a smile. Her uniform was immaculate, and she looked much more
refreshed than she had in days past. Her hands were still damaged, but
that was obscured by her black gloves. She was armed, ah she was hoping
to renew her service to the Governor as his bodyguard.
Claudius froze when he heard Kerrie's
voice, believing he had made it clear that she had been relieved of
duty. He turned his head to face her, and simply shook his head, in a
dismissive gesture. "Major Kiley. I have two of them," he said,
motioning to Inquisitor Thanor and Apprentice Inquisitor Kaen. "What
possible need could I have for you?" he asked, sounding a bit harsh ...
albeit accurate. Without saying another word, he turned towards the
interior of the shuttle and proceeded towards his seat.
Kerrie was heartbroken the moment she
heard the Governor's words, her head sinking down until her chin was
buried on her chest. She glanced at Serine for an instant, believing
that she might have been right about her assessment, but then quickly
turned on her heels and began walking towards the exit. She now believed
there was only one chance to redeem herself in his eyes: put an end to
Jelena's treachery. Feeling quite confident about her decision, she was
sure that he would reward her by saving his daughter's life and stopping
the flow of information to the Rebellion in one fell swoop.
The moment Serine heard the unmistakable
voice of Major Kiley, she glanced over her shoulder at the approaching
woman with a look of heavy scrutiny. The last time she had seen her,
Kerrie had collapsed into a miserable and wretched pile of wasted
potential outside her quarters after a heated exchange. The Inquisitor
had been initially very curious to see what affects of that event had
upon the Major. Apparently very little! Serine gawked at the Clawdite's
inability to reform and continued ill-advised loyalty to a man that
resented her. Kerrie would not be a nuisance to the entourage for much
longer however, due to Rodney's blunt and malevolent comment. Serine's
accusations that the Major had so blindly rejected were now fully
vindicated. The Inquisitor's eyes locked with Kerrie's but for a moment.
There was no gloating in deep silver hues, instead the emotions conveyed
were heavy ambition and desire. Serine made it clear with only a
fleeting glance that her offer still stood, she could give that broken
woman a meaningful existence again. A Clawdite assassin would be a
powerful tool for an aspiring Inquisitor.
Kia all but ran up the ramp into the
shuttle, headed straight for the cockpit, she truly enjoyed watching
pilots work, and learning what they were doing.
"Nyah!" Randi said, sticking her tongue
out at Haven, as she assumed the pilot's seat of the shuttle Kwai. Her
hands began running over the controls to begin powering up the main
reactor, while instructing the co-pilot to begin downloading the
coordinates for the Kuat system. "Next stop Kuat!" she announced to
everyone, as she lifted the shuttle off the hangar's deck and began
accelerating out of the bay into real space. Only moments later did the
wings of the shuttle descend into cruise configuration, enabling her to
push forward on the throttle and sending the small craft into
And so they were gone, Lady Jelena
Rodney observed, as she stood on the walkway overlooking the hangar bay.
She smiled realizing that the moment had finally come for her to make
her move, yet simultaneously sighed knowing she would very likely never
see her family again. As she watched the shuttle disappear into
hyperspace, she felt a single tear roll down her right cheek, before
hurrying off to tie up her loose ends.
Jelena Rodney sat silently at the
terminal in her cramped quarters aboard the Star Destroyer. She was
replaying the recording she had made to the people of the Ringali Shell,
announcing her defection, condemning her father, and revealing the
information she had discovered. It was a bold move, and she knew that it
would pain her father. But she was convinced she was making the right
decision, and believed her father had been lost to a mad delusion that
the Rebellion had destroyed Alderaan ... when in fact it had been the
Empire in which he served. Moving over towards her sister's bed, she
knelt down and placed a gentle kiss upon her forehead. "Drusilla?" she
said softly, in an attempt to wake her gently from her slumber.
"Mommy?" Drusilla asked, initially
confused by the sight of the woman standing over her. She blinked
several times, as she emerged from her slumber and stumbled back into
consciousness. When she realized it was Jelena hovering over her, she
became frightened, and immediately suspected something was wrong ... she
could not remember her sister ever waking her before. "Jelena? What is
the matter? Father?" she asked in a panic as her fear jarred her awake,
causing her to sit up in the bed so she could be at eye level with her
"He had to leave. Everything is fine,"
Jelena said with a smile, attempting to calm her younger sister, who it
seemed she had frightened. "I have to leave. I wanted to say goodbye,
and tell you that I love you," she said, her lower lip trembling, and
the tears beginning to form in the corners of her eyes. She had
considered taking her sister with her, but what she was going to do was
very dangerous, and she did not want to risk her life as well.
"Go? What are you talking about?"
Drusilla said, as she flopped back into her bed, pulling her blanket
around her. "You woke me up for this?" she snarled, sounding quite
displeased, as she placed her head firmly against the pillow, and rolled
over onto her side with her back to Jelena. "If I say 'I love you too'
will you let me go back to sleep?" she asked, wearily, as she had
already begun the process of drifting back to sleep. She did not want to
be bothered by her sister's theatricals ... she thought her to be quite
the drama queen ... and *she* needed her beauty sleep.
Jelena laughed softly at her sister's
behavior ... she should have expected as much. Deep down she was convinced
that her sister loved her, in her own way. Next, her attention turned to
Ewwiekewwieikkie ... although she was not her sister biologically, she had
been an adopted member of the family before she was even born. As she
moved over towards her bed, she smiled as she observed her having an
intense dream that caused her to snarl and kick her leg. "Ewwie! Ewwie!"
she said loudly, as she placed her hand on her shoulder and attempted to
wake her up.
"Raaar!" Ewwiekewwieikkie growled
angrily as she was awoken from her sleep, in the middle of a vivid
dream, in which she was chasing after a shiny kite. "Raar!" she
continued, as she leapt from the bed, and began running around the room
in a panic-stricken frenzy, unaware of where she was or what was going
on. Finally, she realized where she was and focused on Jelena, who had
been distant lately. "Jelly!" she exclaimed, as she nearly tackled her
sister to the ground in an frenzied hug.
"Oof!" Jelena groaned as she stumbled
forward into the bed, pushed there was a result of Ewwiekewwieikkie's
overzealous hug. "I'm glad to see you too, Ewwie," she said with laugh,
reciprocating with a hug of her own, but adding a sisterly kiss to her
cheek. She looked into her yellow eyes happily, as she allowed the
embrace to linger. "Ewwie I have to go. I want you to know that even
though you're not my sister by birth ... you're my sister by love," she
said, before pulling in to tighten the hug for a moment, before
Drusilla was beyond frustrated by the
noise her sisters were making, and angrily rolled over to confront them.
Her hands grasped one of her pillows and she angrily threw one of her
pillows in their direction. "Some of us are *trying* to sleep!" she
snarled, like the petulant little princess that she was. A moment later
she huffed, throwing herself back into the bed, in an attempt to fall
back asleep ... *again*.
Jelena groaned as she was struck by the
incoming pillow, but regarded it as nothing more than typical Drusilla
behavior. "She's right. Ewwie, back to bed," she said, as she assisted
her Squib sister back into the bed. As she walked to the exit of their
quarters, she lowered the lights to complete darkness to allow them
easier sleeping. She stood there for a moment, lingering, as she played
over in her head what was she was about to do. She could still change
her mind ... she could keep her family ... but at the cost of her soul.
Finally, she turned on her feet and hurried out of the room before she
started to cry. There was not much time left.
The Lambda-class shuttle Kwai
emerged from hyperspace further down the Hydian Way in the Kuat system.
In front of them lay the vibrant green planet of Kuat, surrounded by
massive shipyards that surrounded the planet like a ring. "We're here!"
Captain Randi Trainor announced, once again stating the obvious, as her
hand moved to the controls to begin accelerating the small shuttle
towards the massive shipyard complex. As they moved closer to the
shipyards a veritable armada of warships was seen under construction,
including countless Imperial II-class Star Destroyers and
several of the massive new Executor-class Star Dreadnaughts.
"Look at the size of those things!"
Flight Lieutenant Haven Anson exclaimed as they began to pass by the
partially constructed hull of one of the massive Star Dreadnaughts. Her
eyes lingered for a moment, before she noticed flashing lights on her
control panel. "Kuat control, this is the shuttle Kwai on final approach
with Grand Moff Claudius Rodney and his party. I am transmitting our
clearance now," she said, as she pressed several buttons on her control
panel to transmit their identification.
"I'm more of a Sienar Fleet Systems gal
myself," Randi said, before she began to maneuver the shuttle towards
the docking bay they had been assigned to. As she did so, she scrunched
her nose several times, still getting used to the repair job Doctor
Tohan had recently had to perform. Her eyes darted over her shoulder
into the back compartment where the Inquisitor was, hoping that this
trip would go better than the last. Upon entering the hangar bay, she
raised the wings of the shuttle, and rapidly descended onto the deck of
the hangar. The small craft shook violently as it touched down ... another
of her less than stellar landings.
Before the ramp had fully descended,
Grand Moff Claudius Rodney was already unhooked from his harness and
upon his feet, excitedly rubbing his hands together. "Let's go! Let's
go!" he said, sounding excited as a young boy. Being in such close
proximity to the new fleet of command ships had seemingly reinvigorated
him, and he began walking down the ramp with quite the spring in his
step. In his mind he began to go over the various verbal tactics he
would employ on Kuat of Kuat in his efforts to procure one of the
It had been a very awkward ride due to
the strained history that all of the members in the ship shared and
Liliya had found herself shifting in her harness in a distressed manner.
She smiled enthusiastically towards Rodney after his elated outburst,
positively responding to his energy and heightened animation which was a
nice change of pace from the uncomfortable and silent trip to Kuat.
Liliya had never seen Lord Rodney this excited since she was assigned as
his assistant and made several mental notes about his strange
personality quirks regarding close proximity to warships. ''Of course,
Milord. I'm ready!" She jumped up from her seat as well, datapad in hand
ready to collect a potentially unfathomable amount of data during this
trip that would no doubt be proven useful if ever she was able to report
The trip was completely uneventful which
gave the Inquisitor time to consider recent events while appraising the
current situation. She found it a vast improvement that Rodney had
specifically requested her to join him on this venture, since one of her
key complaints in the past had been his lack of utilization of key
personnel at his disposal. Eyes drifted over towards her apprentice with
a small air of pride, Kia being instrumental at locating vital intel
that the Governor decided to directly act upon. This was an acceptable
step in the right direction. What was not acceptable was her recent
dealings with her personal pilot, Randi, and the ever irritating
presence of Liliya Benedt. Serine felt Rodney was becoming far too
attached to what the Inquisitor surmised was an unnecessary waste of
space. Regardless of the mild annoyances, she was determined to push
through them and see this outing become a success since that would
verify Kia's significance and the importance and usefulness of members
of the Inquisitorius. She could tell her young apprentice was overly
excited with the notion of seeing these ships, understanding the extent
of the teenager's fascination.
Kia had planted herself just behind the
pilot's seats to watch what they were doing, as long as Serine had not
pulled her away from the two that were flying. The entire trip she had
been quietly asking the two women what the various controls were, how
they affected the flight of the shuttle, the types of engines, and
generally acting more like a gearhead than an Apprentice Inquisitor.
The unmistakable sound of stiletto heels
piercing the durasteel hangar deck could be heard approaching Grand Moff
Rodney and his entourage as former representative Tam Ara approached.
Ara had recently been removed from her position as one of the Kuati
delegates to the Imperial Senate, but now served as one of the
administrators of Kuat Drive Yards. As she approached the Governor she
paused, somewhat apprehensively ... as it was she who arranged for the
release of Major Arden Zevrin following his wife's torture. "Grand Moff
Rodney, my name is Tam Ara, to what do we owe this pleasure?" she
asked, tilting her head slightly as she examined the man, and those that
surrounded him. She wondered perhaps if the man traveled with a harem.
The Governor stopped in his tracks as he
eyed the beautiful young Kuati who stood before him. "Good afternoon,
Miss Ara. I would meet with Kuat of Kuat," he insisted, as he took a
commanding step forward. The reason behind Major Zevrin's release had
never fully been revealed to him, other than the intervention of the
Grand Vizier ... had he known the Kuati was responsible this meeting would
have gone far differently. His left hand extended towards the series of
Executor-class Star Dreadnaughts visibly under construction.
Tam blinked silently as she studied the
man, not at all expecting this kind of reason for his being here.
However, she did not have the authority to deny a Grand Moff a meeting
with Kuat of Kuat, and offered a phony smile in response. "Of course,
Milord. He would be happy to meet with you. If you and your ... aides ...
would be so kind as to follow me," she concluded, before alluringly
turning on her heels and beginning to saunter towards a waiting
repulsortrain that would take them to the administrative wing.
"Now we are getting somewhere!" Claudius
said, turning over his shoulder to smile at Liliya, Kia, and yes ... even
Serine. The war weariness that had fallen upon the Grand Moff these past
one-and-a-half years had seemed to evaporate the moment he returned to
one of his most comfortable elements. He began following behind Tam,
his feet feeling as if they were walking on air, as he effortlessly made
his way into the train.
"Master, could we go see the Research
and Design labs while the Governor has his meeting?" It was obvious the
teenager had no desire for the boring politics of a meeting, not while
this close to a lab again, Kia knew how to talk to the Engineers.
As Serine listened to Kia's request, she
painfully realized that her apprentice has not had a chance to leave the
Warspite for any recreation since she rescued her from that
failed Jedi on Esseles. Perhaps a trip to the Research and Design labs
at a later date, just the two of them, would be a reasonable
relationship building experience. ''The Governor has specifically
requested my presence here, this is not a vacation, Kia. However, I am
not against coming back here for a visit when we are not on official
business." Said with a stern, but understanding look towards the
adolescence as she followed the overly hyped Rodney towards their new
Once everyone had boarded the tram, it
began to rapidly accelerate through the tube until it reached the
administrative section of the massive shipyard complex. Once it arrived,
the door opened and Tam Ara was the first off. Stopping at the
receptionist outside the corporate offices, she was told that Kuat of
Kuat was just wrapping up a meeting with personnel from Research and
Development. "It should only be a few moments, Milord," she said, as she
awkwardly stood in the exterior office. She was not one for small talk ...
particularly with one she held in such little regard. The silence was
suddenly ... and mercifully ... shattered when the doors opened and a large
assemblage of research and development personnel emerged.
not argue, or sulk, following her Master off of the monorail, so much
had happened since their return to the Warspite, she had not
yet had a chance to regale her teacher with the details of her
adventures. Instead taking that time of silence to study the entire
office, she was right, it was a boring, diplomatic office, it did
however afford a beautiful view of the shipyards.
A dark haired woman who appeared in her
mid to late 30s broke off from the group of people approaching the
monorail, she looked friendly, in that sort of 'tech-geek' kind of way.
She appeared to be studying the group waiting to see the Kuat of Kuat
intently, then recognition lit in her eyes, "Kia? Is that you?" She
quickly closed the distance, looking the teenager over from head to toe,
"Oh, Jamie is going to be so happy you are alright! We were so worried
after you disappeared on Esseles..."
Kia froze, blinking up at the woman who
had just spotted her, then looking to her Master and back to the
engineer. "Mrs. Trents? What ... are you doing at KDY?"
Helena pulled the girl into a big hug,
oblivious to the near panic'd look Kia had given Serine. "We transferred
after I got remarried. Are you going to be here long? Are you applying
to be an intern? We would love to have a Kaen on the team, you know!"
Kia blinked ... again. ''Uh, no ma'am
... I'm not here as ... I ... um ... I'm here in a different capacity."
The Inquisitor just stood there
completely in shock as some random woman started handling her apprentice
so freely without any caution what-so-ever. It took her a few moments to
realize that this ... individual knew Kia on a personal level which caused
her eyes to shoot open as she stared at the scene before her. A slow
glance over her shoulder to the fellow occupants as she calculated who
would be witness to the unfortunate and likely gory demise about to
transpire. The remaining research and development team had all vacated
the area which was satisfactory enough to set this display in motion.
Helena would not be embracing Kia for long as a right hand fiercely dug
into hair and ripped the woman free from her apprentice with a sudden
snap of movement. Serine brutally threw this atrocity to the ground with
a solid and powerful action before vivid eyes shifted from her prey to
the young Kaen. ''Now you will learn why you must always sever ties."
Said darkly as the Inquisitor began to pace around Helena, quickly
formulating how to perform a meaningful execution that would forever be
embedded into Kia's memory. This person before her was no longer a
sentient being in Serine's mind, she now was merely a discipline
assembly and would be treated as such. ''Unhook a lightsaber!" She
growled and it was all too apparent what her vile intentions were.
"Kuat of Kuat will see you now, Milord,"
Tam announced, after re-emerging from his office. When she saw that
Inquisitor Thanor was confronting one of the members of their research
and development team, she was obviously displeased ... but said nothing.
Merely grimacing, she shook he head silently and moved towards the
presumed safety of close proximity to the Grand Moff and his aide.
"Exce-," Claudius began, before stopping
himself, as he saw the murderous intent in Inquisitor Thanor's eyes ... he
had seen this look before. "Do we have to do this *now*?" he asked,
followed by an exasperated sigh. In this moment he both looked and
sounded like a young boy who wanted his dessert without having to finish
his vegetables. Instinctively, he reached out with his right hand to
gently push Liliya behind him. "Get behind me, dear," he whispered
softly, as he positioned himself to shield her. It did not take someone
with precognition to realize what was about to happen.
When Helena gave Kia a delightful happy
hug, Liliya was smiling because she thought it was so sweet, but of
course any sort of optimism or contentment had to be instantly crushed
by Inquisitor Thanor. She gasped in alarm when the woman was shoved on
the floor and immediately she turned to Rodney to protest but he beat
her to it and she found herself being ushered behind him quickly. This
was all too familiar to her and Liliya had the sudden dread that there
was going to be a horrible scene unfolding in a few moments. ''But
Milord..!" She cried out in defense of the woman who was about to meet
her impending disaster. ''Please ... she'll be killed..." A sorrowful tone
washed over her as she felt helpless to stop it, but Rodney could ... if
he would only interject. Hands clutched the back of his uniform in
anguish ... why was he going to allow this to happen? ''She didn't do
anything ... Milord..." Softly said with a gentle sob...
Kia looked surprised, then looked down,
feeling more than a bit responsible for this trouble. She also knew
better than to object to what her Master chose to do. "I didn't know she
was here, Master, I promise. I didn't arrange to meet her or anything,
I'm not going against what was decided."
Helena let out a surprised and pained
yelp as she was jerked nearly off her feet and sent tumbling to the
ground, rolling once, the engineer looked completely confused at the
treatment, and that no one was interfering, not even the child she knew.
"How dare you treat someone like this! I do not know who you are, but
civilized people treat others with respect, young lady." Her attention
shifted back to Kia, shaking her head slightly, "This is what I was
afraid would happen when you ran away, bad influences ... and people
like ... this."
Kia wanted to sink into the floor and
become a puddle, looking quickly between Helena and Serine. "My path no
longer lies in a lab, Mrs. Trents, I am an Apprentice Inquisitor. This
person," she motioned to Serine, "is my mentor, teacher, and Master. I'm
sorry..." Hearing the order, Kia froze for a moment, she did not know
how to fight with or use the weapon yet, but she did as she was ordered
instantly, more afraid what Serine would do if she hesitated than of the
weapon itself. Unconsciously, the teenager had drawn Jerasea's saber, it
was the first one her hand had found, not moving from where she had been
It was not as if Serine enjoyed killing
helpless citizens of the Empire, especially useful citizens working to
outfit the Emperor's Navy, but this situation was too dangerous in the
long run for Kia. This apparent childhood acquaintance of hers would no
doubt spread word that she saw Kia Kaen at the Kuat shipyards and word
would filter out to all of her relatives. Though it may not be
immediately apparent, Serine was attempting to protect both Kia and her
family. To ensure that the remnants of her family were never pulled into
the Citadel Inquisitorius to their doom, only a single person needed to
be sacrificed. It was the price that had to be paid, it was the price
Kia had to pay now. The woman subject was talking far too much and
likely making this more difficult on her apprentice, so thus Serine
found it necessary to cease her idle and idiotic chatting. ''An
execution requires that the prisoner be positioned properly and
adequately depending on the mode of termination. In this case,
decapitation." Quickly the hilt of her lightwhip snapped into her hand,
and in an instant, coils lashed out in a vibrant display before
entangling around Helena's torso. With a heavy solid motion, Serine
yanked that woman into a kneeling position in front of the young Kaen.
It was fitting that Kia's first real use of her lightsaber would be for
an execution. The Inquisitor's eyes watched her apprentice intensely and
scrutinized every movement the young girl made.
Claudius heard the beautiful young
Liliya plead for mercy for the Inquisitor's intended victim, he did
nothing ... he coveted the new Executor-class Star Dreadnaught
more than anything. If he had to allow the Inquisitors to brutally
execute this woman in the administration to achieve that goal ... so be
it. However, he could not bare to watch directly, and turned his back on
the scene so that he was now facing Liliya. He brought his arms forward
in an attempt to embrace her and shield her eyes from what was to come,
not wanting to expose the innocent to their misdeeds. "Hide your eyes,
child," he said, as he brought one hand up to her trendy pixie cut to
cradle the beautiful young thing that might one day spell his doom.
Liliya was already devastated and there
was yet to be bloodshed. She could not believe her charge would allow
this to happen... The Grand Moff could easily intervene ... and Benedt was
getting terrible reminders of that one time Tremayne ripped apart a poor
messenger in front of her while Rodney was too afraid to act. But this
situation was different... It was not fear that prevented his action ... it
was something else that she could not determine due to the limitations
of her software. Regardless of the reasoning behind Rodney's cruel
indifference to the future suffering of innocent lives, Liliya felt
defeated, her only action now was to allow her charge to shield her from
what gruesome and terrible event was to happen. Before his hand covered
her usually brilliant eyes, there was a heavy glimmer of disappointment
and sadness directed at his inaction this day.
Helena looked up at Serine, shock plain
on her kindly features, surely she had heard that wrong. Execution?
Decapitation? She knew the meaning of the words, but she didn't have
time to process what was going on. Trying to free herself of the
unyielding coils that kept her trapped. "Kia, don't do this ... you can
stay here, whatever influence they have you under, you're no monster ...
no killer." She looked up, meeting the teenager's wide blue-green eyes,
"If you are going to kill me, look me in the eyes and tell me that your
parents would be proud of what you are doing. I remember watching a
child who didn't even want to step on a bug, because she didn't want to
As soon as her Master had ordered her to
draw a weapon, Kia knew what the command was going to be. She stared in
wide-eyed surprise that was only slowly fading into anger and even
guilt, seeing the woman on her knees before her. Her thumb was resting
against the activation lever on the hilt as she listened. "Why couldn't
you have just ignored me here? Why did you have to meddle ... where you
weren't needed or *wanted*? You brought this conclusion. All you had to
do was keep walking." The teenager brought her thumb down on the
activation switch, the weapon held loosely in her right hand the tip
mere inches from the floor, surprised at the green-white glow that cast
harsh shadows across the pair. She never looked away from Helena's eyes
though. "You speak of a child you knew, a child that lost her parents
far too early, a child that didn't want to cause harm at least not
intentionally." Her eyes flicked up to Serine, then back down to the
kneeling woman. "That child had to die for me to survive."
A deathly silence had fallen upon those
in the waiting room, and if one listened closely each of their
heartbeats could be heard in a unique rhythm. Time seemed to slow to a
crawl, and from somewhere, a voice long gone would shatter the silence
... yet be heard only by Kia. "No, Kia! No!" the disembodied voice
screamed, sounding at the same time both infinitely far away and
directly in front of her. And just as quickly ... it was gone.
Her mind had instinctively reached out
to the dark side, letting it sear this into her memory as she took a
half step to her left, bringing the saber up into a two handed grip as
she spun the blade in a tight loop in front of her, the blade coming
down to take the woman's head off at the neck, as soon as the deed was
done, she stepped back to her original position, her attention no longer
on the dead woman at her feet, but on her Master. Her breathing was
faster than it had been, the actual act of killing had given her a rush
she had not expected, though it had caused the death of a woman she had
thought of fondly, she could not *be* that person anymore. The blade was
not deactivated yet, and the slow thrum sounded ominous after the
collapse of the corpse. "I believe I learned the lesson ... Master."
Serine was highly impressed by her
apprentice's lack of hesitation to such a vexatious deed, following the
execution command without quarrel or resistance. The Inquisitor listened
intently to Kia's conviction, her principles and doctrine being molded
and developing exactly to Serine's approval. The bond between them would
grow increasingly stronger, for every act of unwavering devotion and
obedience from Kia would be steadily matched by an equally fierce
possessiveness from Serine. The Inquisitor was wise to put her faith in
this girl! It was so very gratifying to know that the time spent on
Kia's instruction was not wasted, it only made Serine all the more
anxious to continue her training. She could feel the very strength of
the Force coursing through her apprentice, it augmented her abilities
and focused her power ... it made her strong. As the vicious execution
ended, that lifeless decapitated body was uncoiled allowing it to
collapse to the ground with a sickening thud. Her lightwhip was returned
to her belt as she stared down at the young Kaen. There was no praise in
her voice as this was partially punishment and partially duty, but Kia
would be able to sense the overwhelming pride that hemorrhaged from the
Inquisitor. Their bond with the Force was developing so strongly that
Kia would now be able to directly gauge the emotional state of her
Master in close proximity. ''Indeed you have. Do not ever question my
motives regarding your development again." Said coldly as she peered
behind her to the Governor, a relentless gaze met his own in silent
acknowledgement that this was the kind of power and control he could
command at a whim.
At the acknowledgement of her Master,
Kia thumbed the lightsaber off, lowering her her head slightly in
deference. "Yes, Master Thanor." Even as she heard heard the harsh tone
from her mentor, she felt the surge of pride at her actions coming from
As Tam Ara observed the head roll past
her, her look was one of grave concern ... but not concern for the young
woman's life ... concern for the cleanliness of the waiting area. "Call
janitorial. I want this *mess* cleaned up," she said coldly, before
turning her attention to the Governor who was cradling the youth he
suspected of being his mistress. "As I was *trying* to say..." before
shifting her glance momentarily to the Inquisitors. "Kuat of Kuat will
see you now," and with that, she opened the doors to his conference
room, and waited for the Governor to enter before she would follow him
Claudius released the lovely young
Liliya from his grasp when he heard that it was time for his long
awaited meeting. Before he would enter the conference room, he raised
his hand to stop the Inquisitor from following. "Wait here. Allow my
diplomatic efforts a chance to succeed. If I get in over my head-" he
stopped suddenly, realizing the poor choice in words, and becoming
slightly flustered as a result. "If I ... uh ... have any difficulty I will
give you the opportunity to use your more *direct* methods," he
explained before walking into the conference room with Liliya in tow.
Liliya's entire body tensed as that
impliable and unnecessarily cruel act was committed. She could not see
the scene since Rodney so gently covered her eyes, but she could hear
the unforgiving spectacle occurring. The sound of the weapon searing
flesh, the smell of burnt human remains ... the horrible and merciless
things that young girl was saying ... all of it was too much for the
woman. Benedt's knees buckled causing her to collapse into the
Governor's arms weakly and quivering heavily with the inhumanity
displayed here. ''Milord ... I ... I...'' This was overwhelming her sensors
and processors, she just was not programmed to witness this sort of
brutality and for a moment she considered literally shutting down to
escape. She struggled with the notion, it would merely appear as if she
passed out, but the repercussions could be deadly as Rodney would no
doubt wish for her to be seen by a medical personal ... and that could not
be allowed. Instead Liliya feebly clung to her charge's uniform, being
held up only by his strength as she attempted to cope. With only his
guidance and support, she managed to be ushered into the conference
Serine's antics and display of power
over the situation no doubt influenced Rodney as the man was finally
considering using her talents to advance his goals. ''Of course,
Governor." Said with a sharp and stern sense of fierce loyalty that may
have been shocking to Rodney due to their troubled history. He likely
had no idea how eager the Inquisitor was to perform her duties at his
command despite her telling him on multiple occasions. Her attention
fell to Kia once the Grand Moff entered the conference room. ''If my
skills are necessary, you will remain here. Your presence may hinder my
progress and be a distraction." Kia will have ample opportunity to learn
how to intimidate the insignificant politicians and businessmen at a
later date. Now was not the time for any further lessons ... the
Inquisitor had a duty to perform if requested.
Kia looked back to the corpse, studying
the results of her actions. Before her attention snapped back to Serine,
"As you wish, Master." Her voice had a new solemnity to it, as if she
were still processing what she had done. The rush was still there but it
was sinking in that she had killed on command.
Despite the presence of two young women
in his midst, Kuat of Kuat did not rise from his seat. He remained
seated ... not just as a show of dominance ... but of practicality as well
due to the presence of a small felinx half-asleep in his lap. As he
stroked the small creature in his lap, his eyes studied the newcomers
intently. This had been a last minute meeting, and he noted this
Governor had not gone through the standard procedures. If he were a
planetary governor he would have had him arrested ... if he were a Moff
he would have simply had him sent away ... but a Grand Moff? he supposed
he *had* to meet with one of those. He was dressed in maroon and purple
formal attire, befitting one of the richest business owners in the
galaxy. "I'm afraid I did not catch your surname, Governor Rodney," he
said, in all seriousness, having assumed 'Rodney' to be a first name.
"Do make this quick. I am quite busy, and I do bore easily," he said, as
his attention shifted back to the felinx whom he found infinitely more
interesting at the moment.
In his former career as a member of the
Alderaanian diplomatic corps, Claudius had to deal with this sort of
people all of the time. Unfortunately, since the formation of the Empire
his role had been largely military and had become used to simply
'ordering' people what to do. This would not work here, he quickly
realized, and did his best to remember some of the pleasantries and
platitudes that had served him in this youth. "Rodney is my surname.
Lord Claudius Rodney of the planet Delaya," he began, as he closed the
distance between himself and thed of the long conference table.
"Currently in His Imperial Majesty's service as Grand Moff of Oversector
Ringali," he explained, getting on with the formalities that were an
unfortunate necessity to meetings such as this. "I came to you on a
matter of some importance," he began to explain, before noting that the
man was quickly losing interest.
Kuat could not get over the fact that
this man's surname was 'Rodney'. In fact, he was so thrown by this bit
of information that he barely paid any mind to the rest of the words he
was saying. "What is of great importance to you means very little to
me," he said, abruptly, as he began to scratch the area behind the
felnix' ears, which began to emanate a soft purring noise in response.
"Speak more softly. You are disturbing him," he warned the Grand Moff,
as he smiled down at the precious little felinx that so occupied his
thoughts and interests presently.
Claudius was taken aback by what he was
witnessing, but obliged the man by lowering his voice to accommodate
him. "Very well," he said, bowing slightly in an unnecessary sign of
respect to the Kuati. "As Grand Moff of a priority oversector with Rebel
activity I am in need of one of your newly developed Executor-class
Star Dreadnaughts to enforce the Emperor's Will," he explained,
matter-of-factly as he made what, at least in his mind, was a very
reasonable and well thought out request. "I see you have several under
constru-" he was about to continue, but soon found himself cut off by
"Executor-class? How did you
find out about that?" Kuat asked in a heightened state of rage, rising
so quickly that the felinx in his lap was sent falling to the ground. As
it scurried to safety, he locked eyes directly on the Grand Moff. "That
project is classified. Despite your title and your over inflated sense
of importance you are unworthy of one!" he shouted, spittle flying from
his mouth as he angrily spoke. He looked past the man towards the young
woman, Liliya, who had accompanied him. "What is it, my lovely? Is the
old man trying to compensate for a shortage somewhere else with one of
my large warships?" he asked of her, as a cruel grin curled upon his
Kuati lips. Yes ... that must have been it, he thought to himself.
The suggestion about his manhood made by
Kuat nearly sent Claudius over the edge, but he remembered why he was
here ... the ship was more important than his pride. "As a Grand Moff I am
entitled to one of those vessels. You have several under construction.
We passed them on the way in. Surely we can find some way to accommodate
my request," he continued, easing back on his tone of voice, as he still
maintained the hope this could be resolved amicably.
"If you want one every Grand Moff will
want one. These ships will all be assigned to the Outer Rim Territories
where the *real* war will be fought. One cannot be wasted on your
sideshow ...a sideshow of a sideshow if you ask me ... simply because of
your vanity," Kuat said, before dropping swiftly to his knees to look
for the frightened felinx ... to him that was much more important. "Look
what you've done ... you've frightened him! Out, damn you out!" he said,
before continuing his search for his pet.
Claudius moved his jaw from side-to-side
in frustration as the man disappeared beneath the conference table. "So
be it," he said, as he abruptly turned on his heels and began walking
out of the office, motioning for the young Liliya to accompany him. Once
he was back in the waiting room, his attention immediately shifted to
Inquisitor Thanor. "You must get us one of those ships, Inquisitor. I am
counting on you," he said emphatically, pacing back and forth in
frustration from what had just occurred. He curled his right hand into a
fist, before punching it into the palm of his left, before squeezing
down on it in a vain attempt to calm his nerves.
That was all Rodney needed to say to the
Inquisitor, as she was already eager to comply and showcase exactly why
he should utilize her abilities for his purposes. As Kuat of Kuat was
engaged with searching for his felinx, he would be interrupted by the
fierce shaking of the walls of the conference room causing all sorts of
items to fall from shelves and scatter across the floor. An instant
afterwards the shrill horrid sound of durasteel twisting and snapping
filled the room as part of the wall holding the door was torn completely
asunder. A large portion of gnarled and tangled metal violently collided
with the interior of the room in a massive outward explosion. The
Inquisitor could have easily walked into the room using the door, but
this was for intimidation purposes. Serine stepped through the massive
wrenched hole she had created looking feverishly livid with a severely
aggressive and murderous posture. Her vile plans here were to break this
man quickly and effectively to validate part of her purpose to the Grand
When Kuat heard the horrific noise, he
immediately began the process of extracting himself from beneath the
conference table. Unfortunately, he did so in such a rush that he banged
his head upon the underside of the table as he was pulling his head out
to see what was amiss. "Ow. Damn it!" he cursed, as he brought his hand
up to his head, rubbing it gingerly, as he stared off at the Inquisitor
who was wrecking his conference room. "Stop that! Stop that at once! You
will allow my pet to escape and then we'll have to search endlessly for
him!" he complained, not yet realizing the gravity of his situation. As
the owner and operator of the Empire's largest military contractor he
thought himself invulnerable, and began marching defiantly towards her.
"If anything happens to my pet I will see you are held personally
responsible!" he said, before coming to a stop only two meters in front
It was apparent that this man thought
himself important, but the Inquisitor was about to display exactly how
insignificant he really was. ''You are easily replaceable." Said as her
eyes locked upon him with dire intent. Serine mused that if he were
killed, the power vacuum would be quickly filled with the next lowly
worm to come along. ''You are not showing the proper respect that
members of the Inquisitorius demand." This man did not deserve any
leeway, showing the kind of filthy disregard that Serine found
disgusting, thus she was going to make it painfully obvious exactly how
she viewed him. With a sudden snap of her wrist, her hand flicked
towards that man causing an unseen agent to slam into his form with
enough power to knock him from his feet and collide to the wall behind
him. There would be little time for him to recover as the Inquisitor was
quickly upon him with a thrashing lightwhip already in hand. Metallic
coils wrapped around his torso, pinning his arms against his chest
tightly and restricting his diaphragm, making it much more difficult to
breath. ''The Grand Moff requested one of your Executor-class
Star Dreadnaughts, but you so ignorantly defied him. How unfortunate for
you." Serine wasted no time giving the man a chance to defend his
actions, assuming that anything salivating from his mouth now would be
putrid waste. With a dark look of heartless yearning, she activated her
weapon, instantly causing the many coils wrapped around his body to
ignite into a brilliant crimson. The rancid stench of burning flesh
filled the air and would no doubt be noticed by the few occupants that
lingered outside of the conference room.
As Kuat was thrown into the wall by her
unseen powers, the noise alarmed the felinx most of all, which hurried
out of the conference room to find safer territory. The spoiled
executive had never been treated in such a way, but before he could
recover to make formal protest he felt her deadly weapon coil around his
midsection. "How dare-" he began angrily, before his voice was cut off
by the ignition of the lightwhip. His screams filled the conference
room, and due to the gaping hole in the wall, his voice carried far
beyond. The tears began to flow down upon his proud face, and he quickly
made the decision that no ship was worth this. "Fine!" he screamed at
the top of his lungs, moments before they were in danger of being
singed. He hoped that the other Grand Moffs did not possess weapons such
as Inquisitor Thanor, or he would quickly run out of warships to assign.
He broke quickly as she had expected.
Worms with ego and power such as this generally had no strength of will
and would easily snap under pressure. The lightwhip was silenced, the
red glow vanished before the deadly weapon was removed from his form.
However, the Inquisitor was not fully satisfied since this kind of man
may grow comfortable and bold again once they had left ... and she needed
to make sure he understood the dangers of failing to fulfill his
obligations. Serine's left hand enclosed around Kuat's throat and
slammed him back into the wall as she glared directly into his eyes
menacingly. ''If you are incapable of effectively accomplishing this
task, I will remove you and place someone more competent in your
position." She nearly snarled at that miserable man before she released
him fully, but not before throwing him to the ground in a spiteful
fashion for wasting everyone's time. As she exited the conference room
she would immediately look to Rodney with a single nod of success to
indicate they were wholly triumphant here.
And so it was done. Claudius clasped his
hands together so quickly, and with such force that the noise it emitted
echoed far beyond the waiting room they were in. A nod of thanks was
returned to the Inquisitor, but he could not hold back his Alderaanian
reserve and offered the most genuine of smiles ... a first between the
two. He turned to the young Liliya, so unaware of her emotions as he had
totally become engrossed with obtaining the warship, that he took her in
his arms and spun her around victoriously, over the pool of muck that
was once Helena Trent. When he placed her back down he thrust both of
his hands forward in a gesture of victory ... as if he had just won a game
of shockball as a youth. With the most satisfied of grins plastered upon
his middle-aged face, he turned and began the process of moving back
towards the tram that would return them to the hangar. He did not think
of Helena, nor what Kuat had been put through, nor even the felinx that
had escaped and was now free to roam the corridors of the shipyard ... all
he could think of was what to name his new command ship ... his new toy.
When Kerrie Kiley arrived at the
quarters belonging to Rodney's children, she fully intended to arrest
Jelena. It was for her own good, and moreover she thought it would place
her back in the Governor's good graces. But, to her dismay, when she
opened the door she found only the sleeping Drusilla and
Ewwiekewwieikkie. "Blast," she muttered on her breath, as she stealthily
examined the room for evidence of Jelena's whereabouts in the darkness.
Finally, she saw that Jelena's terminal had been left on, and she moved
towards it swiftly. In the silent darkness Kerrie viewed Jelena's formal
declaration of Rebellion, betraying her father, betraying her family,
betraying all that she held deal. She was shattered, and was convinced
more than ever that if she stopped this behavior, she would be justly
rewarded ... but where had Jelena gone? There was only one woman that
Major Arden Zevrin was sitting quietly
in her office, drinking a caf, and reviewing reports from the Battle of
Ralltiir. Was the battle in the Ringali Shell finally going the Empire's
way? If so, we should find a way to take the credit. She had reviewed
the staff meeting earlier, and was aware that the Grand Moff had rushed
off to her homeworld of Kuat on some foolish quest with the Inquisitor
in tow. As far as she was concerned, that meant she was in charge, and
was quite content as she sat there, feet elevated, mistress of her own
Suddenly the door to Zevrin's office was
forced office, and Kerrie stepped through in a frenzy, her KYD-21
blaster already drawn. "Listen. We have a long history, and we both know
what you really think of me," she said in haste, hurrying towards the
woman, and menacing her with both her physical presence and the blaster.
"I swear that I will kill you where you sit if you don't give me access
to your monitoring system ... now," she demanded, before raising her
blaster pistol and leveling it steady with Arden's chest. Her right
finger hovered over the trigger, twitching nervously. She was serious ...
Arden was horrified when she saw Kerrie
burst into her office and draw down upon her, having not expected to see
her as she was listed as relieved of duty. "C-c-calm down, Kerrie. I'll
give you whatever you want," she stammered nervously, believing that the
woman had very likely lost her mind. She had studied Kerrie for years
and believed she was nearly at her breaking point, but based on what she
was seeing now she believed she had finally past that point. Slowly, she
moved from her desk, and gave her access to the bank of monitors that
showed every aspect of the ship.
Kerrie had learned not to trust Arden
after years of misdeeds between them, and in fact she considered her the
most dangerous person aboard the Warspite due to her duplicity
and scheming ... more so than even the Inquisitors and Rebel spy. Her eyes
scanned over each of the monitors, spotting many officers and personnel
that she knew ... but no Jelena. She was growing increasingly frustrated
by the lack of success, clenching her feet and gritting her teeth as she
cycled furiously through the cameras. Her speed was producing no
positive results, and her increased frustration made it all the more
likely that she would simply pass by Jelena even if she spotted her.
"You know..." Arden began, taking a step
forward towards the Clawdite Commando, and speaking in a soft,
non-threatening tone. "I could help if I knew what you were looking
for," she continued after a pause, still considering the woman to be a
mentally unstable threat. She had never seen her like this before, and
she considered it a very real possibility that she was about to be
blasted. Still, it was in her nature to be curious and she could not
resist the opportunity to uncover what had set her off like that. She
considered reaching for the blaster while Kerrie was distracted and
looking over the monitors, but realized it was very likely to fail and
acknowledged that she was a weaker combatant than her.
"Gaah. Stay, uh, over there!" Kerrie
screamed, waving her off with her blaster pistol as she continued to
scan the monitors. Finally she spotted Jelena, but she cycled past too
quickly, and eventually lost her. "Wait. I need that back," she
complained, calming herself, and cycling back three channels until she
had Jelena in her view again. She scanned her surroundings carefully,
and discovered she was heading to her father's office. "Thanks," she
said, sarcastically at Arden, before running out of the ISB office to
confront Jelena in the Governor's office.
"Don't mention it..." Arden said, before
finally exhaling with relief that she was not going to be fried by a
mentally deranged psychopath. "I *have* got to get those locks changed,"
she snickered to herself, before turning to her seat. She took a calm
sip of her caf, and kicked her heels back up on the obsidian black table
that was in front of her. Her eyes scanned the viewscreen, expecting to
be given quite the show when Kerrie confronted Jelena. She had no idea
what was going to happen, but she loved surprises. *Slurp* escaped her
lips as she took an unladylike sip of the caf, not caring much as she
was alone in the room. Manners were best left to formal occasions.
With Liliya caught up in her father's
adventure, Jelena Rodney found no presence outside his office. She was
his daughter, and no one suspected her in the least ... other than Kerrie
who had been relieved of duty. And so when she was observed moving down
the corridors towards the Grand Moff's quarters and office, no one
thought to question it ... she belonged there. When she entered, she
closed the door quickly behind her, and swiftly moved towards his desk.
Frantically, she inserted a blank datadisk into his terminal and entered
the password to access his most sensitive files ... it was 'Julia', her
mother's name. Next, she pressed the button to download all pertinent
information from his local network. "Come on. Come on," she said
frantically, as she watched the status bar slowly move forward towards
"Step away from that terminal. You are
under arrest," Kerrie said, when she finally arrived at the office. She
had run at her best speed from Arden's office to Rodney's ... it seemed he
had deliberately placed them far enough away from one another that he
would not be bothered by her. She was fatigued from the run, slightly
out of breath, perspiring lightly, with cheeks that were flushed red.
She raised her blaster pistol at Jelena to show that she was deathly
serious ... she no longer saw the teenage girl she had sworn to protect ...
she saw her way back to a purpose in life.
"You're not going to arrest me, Kerrie.
You wouldn't dare," Jelena said with a smug laugh, not moving from the
terminal in the slightest. "Now go back to whatever it is you were
doing, and leave me to my task," she informed her, in a derogatory and
dismissive fashion. She had convinced herself that the woman had been
spayed, and would not turn her in, lest she fail in her duty to protect
her. When the terminal beeped, the datadisk was automatically ejected,
and she quickly palmed it ... sliding it into her pocket.
Kerrie could not believe the words that
were coming out of Jelena's mouth. "I have ... killed to protect you," she
began, growing incredibly emotional, as she remembered how she murdered
Trent Irso after he suspected Jelena of treason. "I have covered up
your crimes. I have cleaned up your messes. I have protected you from
your father's scorn," she said, starting to become very emotional ... she
was trembling, and starting to cry. "I have kept our family together ...
despite your best efforts to shatter it. I have seen your treasonous
recording. It is over. I should have done this a long time ago!" she
said, as her attention moved to a pair of stun cuffs that were attached
to her belt.
"I *never* asked you to do any of that,
Kerrie," Jelena spat back at her, unrelenting in her determination to go
forward with her defection. "You did all of that. That is on you.
Because you have no family ... and you're obsessed with mine!" she
continued angrily, starting to yell at her in an aggressive tone. She
had crossed the line and there was no going back from this at this
point. "He is *my* father. Not yours, and he never will be!" she said,
as her hand moved to open his top desk drawer where she knew her father
kept his sidearm in case of emergencies. Her eyes gently angled down
towards the DH-17 blaster pistol that she had just exposed.
The words that Jelena spoke struck at
the very fiber of her core. She had desperately sought a family ... a home
... since it had been taken from her since she was very young. When the
Mabari, the Clawdites, and even her own sister turned their backs on her
all she had left was the House of Rodney. While Htaere had always
treated her like one of the family, there was always a distance between
her and the Rodneys themselves. She had given everything to them ... and
had nothing to show for it ... not even gratitude. And not only that, but
now she had lost her job as well. Her head lowered in absolute
dejection, and she lowered her blaster pistol, stepping off the side to
give Jelena plenty of room to walk past her. "Go ... just go," she said
quietly, without making eye contact with the vengeful teenage. "Before I
change my mind," she quickly added, as her mind began to swirl with
options. Maybe she could go with her and return to her career as an
assassin ... she had one well at once and developed friends ... sort of. She
could be on her own, and perhaps meet people who would value her again.
As far as she was concerned there was nothing left for her here.
In her mind Jelena had taken a step
forward, but in reality she had not ... she was still standing at the
desk. She looked at Kerrie and all she saw was the anger she had against
the Empire for murdering her people with the destruction of Alderaan.
Her mother's side of the family had been completely wiped out as far as
she could tell, and all of her friends from the Alderaan Select Academy
for Young Ladies. And so in an instant she pulled the DH-17 from her
father's desk, and leveled it at Kerrie's torso. Unbeknownst to her, her
father had remove the safety and set the weapon to kill when the
Inquisitor had earlier terrorized Liliya. Her finger pulled back on the
trigger and unleashed a deadly, crimson bolt of energy at her former
"Ugh!" Kerrie groaned as the kill bolt
impacted her midsection unexpectedly ... she never would have thought
Jelena capable of such an act. The pain began to radiate throughout her
entire body, as her midsection, and the contents of her abdomen were
viciously burned. Her hands released their grips on the blaster pistol
and the stun cuffs, and they fell to the ground, breaking the silence as
they slammed upon the durasteel floor. She lost the ability to maintain
her human form and shimmered back into her natural Clawdite appearance.
Her body suddenly felt as if it weighed a ton, and her knees buckled,
and she fell to the ground. She was unaware of what was happening ... she
was afraid ... terrified even. "Beeogola nechaska," she muttered upwards
towards Jelena, speaking in Huttese, as she was no longer able to
remember Basic. She felt weak, and was losing many of the sensations in
her body ... and she now felt as if she were freezing cold. It was now too
hard for her to even maintain a position on her knees, and she keeled
over to the deck and one last groan emanated from her mouth. Everything
started to become blurry and Jelena became nothing more than a
silhouette, but even that would soon fade as her eyes felt like they
were being pulled down by unseen weights. Her eyes closed, her heart
rate slowed, and her breathing nearly ceased ... she was nearly gone.
Jelena looked down at Kerrie, pitying
the creature, but convinced that she had removed a ruthless killer from
Imperial service. A killer who had an unhealthy obsession with her
father. With the datadisk secure, and now armed, she stepped over
Kerrie's body and hurried out of her father's quarters. Her face was
pale, and she was trembling slightly, but the members of the
Warspite crew were too afraid of her father to question her. She
had used his influence to her advantage before, and if she could just
hold on for a few more minutes she would be home free. When she arrived
on the hangar bay she moved as fast as she could towards the shuttle
Phachi, which Randi had trained her to pilot earlier. She calmly
marched right up the ramp as if she belonged, and by the time she
reached the pilot's seat no one had said nothing. She froze for an
instant as she looked at all of the controls in front of her ... there
were so many and she could not remember the ones Randi had told her to
use. "Calm down. Focus. If that idiot Randi can do this ... so can you,"
and with that she began to activate the shuttle's navcomputer. Once she
had activated the ramp, the personnel on the flight deck became
concerned and started moving towards the shuttle. It was then that her
hands moved to the controls, and roughly eased the vessel off the deck
and accelerated the craft to attack speed. Imperial Stormtroopers began
firing on the shuttle, and she heard the voice of Lieutenant
Meham'ohorovi'cloca ordering her to land on the comm, but she ignored
them both. When the shuttle emerged from the Warspite's hangar
she considered her options ... she knew the Rebels were in the nebula, but
she had no idea how to find them. With Alderaan destroyed she could not
think of any system she could travel to where she could find safety.
Through the viewport she saw Esseles ... she knew there were Rebels there
... she had met them there before, but was sure if she went there her
father would never stop looking. There were no good options, and so she
chose the easiest ... Esseles it was.
When Claudius arrived back on the
Warspite he was thrilled with the prospect that he would still have
a new command ship ... worthy of a man of his stature and importance. When
he emerged from the shuttle Kwai, he could see that some commotion had
gone on ... but he thought it a matter for Captain Anson and the bridge
crew rather than for his administration. He was sure that Liliya would
provide a datapad report on the incident, once he had had time to relax.
For now he simply wanted to get to his office, review the daily reports,
and then, if possible, get some rest. When he arrived at his office he
was horrified when he came across the fallen body of Kerrie ... what had
happened? Had she finally killed herself? "No!" he exclaimed, but
perhaps he did not realize that he had said it. He immediately dropped
down to her body, and lifted it into his lap, as he cradled her in his
arms. "Kerrie?! Do not leave me," he said, roughly slapping at her
Clawdite face in an attempt to stir her. "Help! Someone get help!" he
cried out, feeling as if the room was about to spin.
Liliya gasped heavily at the sight of
the downed and dying Kerrie and was so startled she almost dropped her
datapad but regained control just in time to fumble it around and
retrieved it. In an instant, she accessed the emergency medical channel
only reserved for the most dire of circumstances. If her memory banks
were not so strained at the moment, she would have wondered how she
never needed to use this priority channel before despite the rampage
Inquisitor Thanor displayed on a daily basis. Her voice was shaky and
extremely worried, concern washed over her whole being. ''Doctor Tohan,
please acknowledge. Major Kiley has been shot inside the Grand Moff's
office!" The horrid events upon Kuat were still completely vivid in her
mind, making her all the more panicked and desperate to reach the
"Unh," Kerrie murmured weakly as he
smacked at her cheeks and briefly stirred her into a semi-conscious
state. Her eyes blinked softly, and she could vaguely make out the image
of Claudius cradling her. In that moment she thought he was her father,
and in many ways he was. "Uma ji muma... " she said weakly, as she
reached up with her right hand to loving touch his face. She thought she
had reached it, but in reality she never got her arm very high. A moment
later, her arm fell roughly back to the floor, and her head turned to
its side to bury itself in his torso. Her eyes closed, and her face
pressed firmly against his torso so that no one could look upon her, she
curled up in his arms and prepared to die.
"No!" Claudius screamed at the top of
his lungs and he felt her heart rate slow to a near halt, and was no
longer able to detect if she was breathing. It was only then he realized
how much she meant to him, and whereas his daughters barely acknowledged
his presence, this Clawdite woman who he had caused so much
consternation since childhood worshipped the ground he walked on. "Where
are the medics?!" he yelled, as his emotions shifted from sadness to
anger. Whoever did this would pay dearly he vowed silently to himself,
as he wrapped his arms tightly around her and held on for dear life.
Serine was instantly disappointed when
her eyes fell upon yet another pitiful display of Major Kiley's
inadequacies and surmised she was about to lose what could have been a
useful assassin. However it was very clear that Kerrie's failures were
too numerous for only a worthless and incompetent fool would be so
easily dispatched in this manner. She was surprised by the show of
emotion Rodney was displaying, convinced from before that he cared
nothing for Kerrie. This was not even the first time the Inquisitor
witnesses a dying form of the Major, but instead of leaving the woman to
her own devices like before, perhaps Serine ... could assist in some
manner. She was not entirely void of attachment for the Major or
unfazed by Rodney's desperate pleas for help. The Inquisitor stood over
the kneeling form of her superior who so delicately cradled the Clawdite
and found herself at a bit of an impasse. For years Serine was
conditioned brutally by her Master, Antinnis Tremayne, who physically
and mentally purged her past from her. The knowledge of her being an
apprentice to a Jedi Master, Jerasea Ginhers, was repulsive to him and
he did all he could to punish Serine at every moment she dwindled on it.
But despite his vile intentions, she never fully forgot those Jedi
teachings, only buried them deep so he could never discover them. Serine
stood there with the realization that now could be the time she
reconstructed those lost lessons. The dark side and all its fear and
hatred was inadequate to heal and preserve, but that was not the only
side of the Force she had been trained to harness. In order to save
Kerrie, she would have to let everything go ... for just a moment ... but to
abolish that seething anger for even a fraction of time would be a
monumental achievement due to the difficulty. The dark side never
appreciated losing the ones it had enslaved. Kerrie was dying, she could
sense it...but help was also coming ... all Serine had to do was delay
Kerrie's demise just for a moment ... she could do it, she *knew* she
could! Serine had meant to lower herself next to Kerrie but she dropped
to her knees in anguish instead as the entirety of what she was about to
do afflicted her. All of the smoldering rage she accumulated over the
years due to Tremayne's actions had kept her focused, kept her alive! To
give up that power even for a moment ... she feared she would be lost,
completely defeated and cast aside as less than nothing! The lies of the
dark side attempting to contain her were persuasive and influential, but
not impossible to overcome. Serine gasped with a heavy wince, trying to
control and suppress those heavy emotions was so very difficult since
she had been harboring them for so long ... that loathing and taste for
revenge were so strong, it was twisting and contorting her very soul,
writhing to keep its dominating foothold. She was panting in a heavy
rhythm as she began the strenuous burden of clearing her thoughts,
banishing the vile emotions ... focusing on the tranquility of nothing ...
on the serenity of silence ... on peace. There was a sudden contentment
and comfort that washed over her ... it was very familiar ... every muscle
of her body that had been completely tense now relaxed and calmed and
her eyes fully dilated as a temperate sigh eased slowly from her. A
steady and confident hand reached out to gently touch Kerrie's shoulder,
the instant contact was established there would be a brilliant flash of
light in Kerrie's mind followed immediately by a warm sensation of
benevolence and compassion washing over her entire form. The wound that
Kerrie sustained was stabilized with a flood of fortitude and
reassurance pouring freely from the light side tether to Serine. She
would not die this day.
Kia watched the scene in shock, she
hated Kerrie, but she did not want the woman dead. The sudden distress
emanating from her Master had the teenager worried. Knowing better than
to interfere she observed the unfolding tragedy. She recognized the feel
of the light side, a strange confusion filling her as she hadn't felt
that sense of peace since Ty had been trying to teach her.
"Oh dear!" the alarmed voice of Doctor
Pilaq Tohan announced when he arrived at the chaotic scene in the
office. The medical droid he had brought immediately began to inspect
the fallen woman and quickly relayed the severity of the situation to
the Ithorian doctor. "We are losing her," he said grimly, feeling as
helpless as when Claudius' first wife, Julia, had died in his care while
giving birth to Drusilla. "Claudius. You must release her. We need to
get her to sickbay!" he said to the man, who now seemed to be entering a
state of shock himself.
It was then that Lieutenant Allegra
Ames arrived on the scene, to make her report concerning the incident on
the hangar bay. She panicked when she saw the Inquisitor, the medical
personnel, and the Governor cradling Kerrie's body on the ground. She
was about to turn and leave, when she caught an angry glare from the
Inquisitor and decided to stay. "Milord, Inquisitor..." she began with
great discomfort, fearing the repercussions from what she was about to
reveal. "It is with great difficulty that I must report that the Lady
Jelena Rodney has stolen one of the shuttles and fled to the surface of
Esseles. She was last scene in this section ... armed," she reported, and
then began backpedaling ... she knew the implications of the report. She
was terrified she was about to become a victim of 'kill the messenger',
but at least had the satisfaction of knowing that medical personnel were
Serine did not hear a single word
Allegra spoke to her, and in this split moment of time, nothing else
even existed in her mind. Every ounce of her concentration was being
used to sustain Kerrie's life and she was not even aware Tohan had
arrived. Serine's connection to Kerrie was instantly severed once Tohan
removed the injured woman from Rodney's possessive embrace, causing her
to gasp heavily as all of reality came rushing back to her. Serine
collapsed on her hands upon the ground in a disheveled mess, breathing
erratically but feeling extremely accomplished and relieved. ''She will
... be fine...I know it..." Said between sharp intakes of air, but in an
uncharacteristically reassuring and encouraging manner ... the Inquisitor
was not at all acting like her usual self.
As Kerrie was transferred to a
repulsorbed to be taken to sickbay, Doctor Tohan began to follow her
out, but stopped suddenly when he looked back upon the room. In it, he
saw his old friend Claudius on the verge of emotional collapse, and
Inquisitor Thanor on the verge of physical collapse. Much had transpired
here today of which the true meaning of he was as yet unaware.
Ordinarily, these would be problems best left to a counselor, like
Doctor Shuura, but he was already in sickbay with his own set of
problems and could be of no help to these two. He was perhaps the most
empathetic being on the Warspite, and his heart ached for both
of them ... but he knew that if he hesitated for even one moment to check
on their condition he would likely lose Kerrie. Triage was always the
hardest part of being a doctor, he thought silently to himself, before
hurrying after the droids transporting the wounded Clawdite with the
skilled aid of his walking stick.
Claudius attempted to scream, but was so
overwhelmed that no sounds escaped his lips. There was obvious much he
did not know, nor understand. It seemed he was losing Kerrie, and now
Jelena was gone. It was the most heart-wrenching pain he had felt since
the loss of his wife fifteen years earlier, but it had seemed this had
surpassed it. There were no words for a moment like this, and as medical
personnel pried his arms off Kerrie and took her from her, he remained
motionless on the floor he entered a catatonic-like state. He could feel
the unmistakable feel of Doctor Tohan's hand upon him, as his one true
friend in the galaxy offered him what comfort he could. His mission to
the Ringal Shell *should* have been an easy one, but he had suffered so
many setbacks, so many defeats ... and now his family had been shattered.
"Well I didn't see that coming!" Major
Arden Zevrin said as she watched the drama unfold on her viewscreen. As
the scene played out and the curtain fell, she could not help but think
of the High Inquisitor and what he might think of Serine's display of
compassion. Even she was at a loss of words by what had just unfolded.
'Look at your precious Serine now', she added at the top of the
transmission, with equal parts contempt and jealousy. But there were
other more practical, local concerns that dominated her thoughts. The
fact that the Governor's eldest child had defected to the Rebellion
could be used to her advantage of she played it skillfully enough, but
she could see he was in a diminished capacity and felt it would be
better to have a weak superior whom she could take advantage of. If a
competent administrator were placed in the Ringali Shell it would be
very likely that she would be restrained and many of her ambitions roped
in. As for the matter of Kerrie she was torn, as when she first met the
woman long before their days on the Warspite she had hoped to
turn her into a powerful asset ... now she was a shell of her former self.
In many ways it would have been merciful for her to die in the
Governor's arms, and have some form of closure ... and find the peace in
death she would never have in life. She knew the Inquisitor's magic
combined with the Ithorian doctor's skills would likely sustain her, and
she pitied that the poor creature would eventually revive to find her
world so changed and shattered beyond what she recognized. In many ways,
she had come to realize, death was preferable than a life racked with
pain. It was a shame Jelena did not have firearms training, she thought
to herself, or she might have had the sense to shoot her in the head and
simultaneously succeed at her task and spare Kerrie a continued life of
It was then that every viewscreen in the
Ringali Shell flickered to life with the pre-recorded message of Lady
Jelena Rodney. "My name is Jelena Rodney ... daughter of the war criminal
Claudius Rodney. I stand before the free people of the Ringali Shell as
a proud and free Alderaanian ... one of the last of my kind. Do not
believe the propaganda that has been forced upon you ... it was the
Galactic Empire and their ultimate weapon that destroyed Alderaan ...
before being destroyed by the brave pilots of the Alliance to Restore
the Republic. I urge you all to rise up ... as I have ... against this
tyrannical Empire and work to restore freedom and democracy to the
Republic. Look no further than to your neighboring world of Ralltiir,
which today is in flames at the hand of the Empire. All around you are
brave souls with the courage to stand up and honor the lives that have
been lost. Will you stand up and join them as I have? Or will you allow
their deaths to have been in vain while the Emperor continues to strip
you of your freedoms." The transmission ended and the Galactic Civil War
within the Ringali Shell had now become a bitterly personal family
affair as well.