strode up the walkway to the landing
platform, where a shuttle was waiting. As he
reached the top of the platform, he turned
around slowly and looked at the estate he
had called home for the past several months.
It was always sad ... leaving ... especially
when so many things were left unfinished and
there were so many bitter disappointed. His
eyes squinted faintly as he looked at the
setting Brentaal star on the horizon, still
shimmering brilliant through the mountain
ranges towards the outcropping his
estate was situated on. "Beautiful," he
thought. It was exactly like the first time
he had seen it.
Htaere sat in
the shuttle waiting quietly. There was
little to say, and even had she something to
talk about, it was not an appropriate time
for such. Her hands were folded in her lap,
her posture straight. Grey eyes were fixated
on the flooring of the shuttle, resigned to
the ultimate fate of the transfer and
likewise awash with inner dread at why lay
shook his head in disappointment one last
time before walking up the shuttle's
boarding ramp. He sighed as he crossed the
threshold from the boarding ramp into the
passenger area. He looked tired and warn out
... perhaps a change was needed, but of
course he did not see it that way. He sat
down next to Htaere and leaned against her
for emotional support, but said nothing. His
eyes darted over to Jelena, Drusillia, and
Ewwiekewwieikkie ... they all seemed to be
indifferent to the move ... at least that
was one bright spot.
gaze lifted, her head turning towards
Claudius slightly. "What about Kerrie?" she
Claudius said quietly. He had hoped to avoid
this particular conversation at such an
early juncture. "I was planning to tell you
later," he said, his voice starting to
tremble in fear of her reaction, "She is
serving out a disciplinary assignment due to
a recent failed assignment." He turned away
slowly, worried that the reaction might be a
particular bad one.
Htaere mouthed the word quietly before her
eyes dropped back to her hands.
Surprisingly, she left it at that. Despite
her attachment to Kerrie, she made the
effort to remain out of issues that didn't
pertain to she and Claudius, where
truthfully, she had no place. She looked
towards him once more. "She will be joining
us later then?"
immediately," Claudius explained to her as
the shuttle lifted off the platform and
began to leave the planet's atmosphere. "She
has been reassigned ... temporarily,"
Claudius continued, hoping she would not be
too disappointed. "I hope that the
assignment will teach her a valuable lesson
and improve her contributions in the
future," he said, concluding his thoughts on
nodded slowly, falling silent again, leaving
the topic to rest. Instead she debated the
conversation with her mother. Already the
woman had called several times, and to her
own stubborn credit, Htaere had not bothered
to answer any of them.
Claudius continued as he tried to change the
subject, "That I could provide you with a
more glamorous location." He lowered his
head slightly, before turning his head to
face her, "But I understand they have done a
remarkable job preparing our suite."
young face moved towards him and a tender
smile touched her lips. Her head canted to
rest on his shoulder, wrapping her arms
around his and heaving a sigh. "This living
arrangement does not interfere with your
"One of the
few perks of being an Admiral," Claudius
said proudly, with a boisterous laugh. The
shuttle soon cleared the planet's atmosphere
and entered the Essessia system. It only
took a moment for the pilot to download the
navi-coordinates for Brentaal, and the
shuttle quickly entered hyperspace.
half closing as she settled in, she mumbled
in a low voice. "Will time be made available
for the wedding?"
already been set aside for that," Claudius
responded to her. A small grin formed upon
her face, that would immediately give away
that he was 'up to something.' He tried to
hide it, but he was a terrible liar.
head lifted off his shoulder, her expression
curious. "The planning and such...? You
have begun making the preparations?"
of transition has presented the opportunity
for a more pleasant diversion," Claudius
said with a smile as he placed his hand upon
hers, and smiled widely. It was clear that
he was deeply in love.
surprised. I do not suppose my mother has
pushed that her will be done regarding this
matter, then?" Htaere resettled her head on
his shoulder, eyes staring off to the
opposite wall, her focus inward.
our parents have, my dear," Claudius said
reassuringly, the smile not escaping his
lips. "It will be something very appropriate
to us," he told her confidently.
not help but manage a half smile that was
largely mirthless. "Give it time. I am sure
as the date approaches they will become more
prevalent in the picture" she replied.
they had enough time to interfere, Htaere,"
Claudius said to her boastfully, the smile
on his face growing increasingly wide. The
shuttle emerged from hyperspace in the
Brentaal system and proceded on a course for
the Star Destroyer Watspite.
her smile was completely real. Her grey eyes
flickered towards his face. "Taking the
offensive Claudius? I am surprised. It is
not often you dare to be assertive and
over-impose what your father wants of you."
She rubbed his arm affectionately for a
moment. "I am eager to see what lay in
"I have had
enough of the taste of defeat, Htaere,"
Claudius said confidently, as he had fully
snapped out of his melancholy period. "This
time," he continued, "I intend to be
successful." The shuttle entered the docking
bay of the Star Destroyer and began its
at him quizzically. "You do not think of
yourself as successful?" It was a stunning
confession, if that's what it in fact was.
judged solely on your last accomplishment,
or lack thereof, in life, Htaere," Claudius
explained, as honestly and as thoughtfully
as he could. "My period in the Ringali Shell
will not exactly be at the forefront of my
memoirs," he said, attempting to make light
of the situation. By now, the shuttle had
landed and after a few moments, the landing
ramp had extended from the shuttle and onto
the deck of the hangar bay.
It took her
back a moment. The concept pushed her own
failings within Hapan socio-political
pursuits surfaced in her mind. She bit at
her lower lip for a moment before looking
over to him in earnest. "I am unsuccessful
as well, Claudius" she stated quietly. "I am
not the daughter my mother hoped for. I lack
the traits evident in my sisters to be a
successful candidate for political
intrigue." She took a deep breath and delt
another painful blow to herself, though it
would be her last. "Why do you think I am
here? Hapes does not 'export good will' in
the form of her strong demographic. I am
here because I am sub-par" she said with
shook his head at her slowly. "You are far
from 'sub-par'," he informed her in a
positive, reassuring tone, "You are
perfect." A smile formed upon his lips
before he moved slowly towards her and
pressed a soft, gentle kiss upon her cheek
like a shy giggle actually escaped her lips
as her hard-trained demeanor wavered. "You
flatter me so..." she stated, eyes twinkling
like some ridiculous school girl swept up in
the grip of a youthful crush.
worth of flattery," Claudius told her,
truthfully. "I love you, Htaere," he
confessed to her, as simply and as
truthfully as he could.
she asked, sidling closer to him if such a
thing was possible from where they sat. The
intoxicating effect he had on her made her
smile, her eyes near glazed over in a dreamy
and transient bliss-laden daze.
Claudius said to her, locking his eyes with
hers, unblinking. He squeezed his hand
around hers tightly as his eyes slowly
closed. He moved his face towards hers
slowly, tilting it to the left slowly. He
pressed his lips against hers gently, lost
in the moment.
eyelids lowered, long eyelashes arching
upward. The way he felt against her sent her
into a tailspin inwardly, that flagrant
tickle rising in her stomach as the rest of
the galaxy faded into nothingness, leaving
only the two of them as a single entity for
that handful of heartbeats. Her smaller hand
squeezed his in return, desperate to draw
the moment out for as long as she could.
Trainor emerged from the cockpit and spotted
the couple kissing in the back of her
shuttle. "Ya know we've landed right?" she
said as she laughed slightly. "I'm sure you
have a room somewhere aboard this ship,
Admiral. No need to use mine." She shook her
head at them, laughing loudly as she made
her way out of the shuttle.
broke the tender kiss when he heard Randi's
painfully cheerful voice. His face flushed
red with embarrassment ... he had lost
himself in the moment. As his eyes opened he
looked at Htaere, with the sheepish grin of
a child who just got caught in a cookie jar.
"Shall we get ouf of here?" he asked her,
adolescents caught by a parent, Htaere tried
hard to suppress an embarrassed grin as
well. She nodded, releasing her hold on him
before unbuckling her crash webbing. She got
to her feet, straightening the elegant gown
she wore and trying to recompose herself. "I
am ready when you are."
took her hand in his and rose from his seat
on the shuttle. Holding her hand, he began
walking out of the passenger compartment. As
he walked down the ramp and debarked on the
hangar bay he felt the ship jerk as it
entered hyperspace. Their time in the
Ringali Shell had truly come to an end. He
turned to her and smiled slightly, "Wherever
we go ... as long as I am with you ... I
will be happy.
gaze pulled from the expanse of the bay
towards him. A soft smile appeared as she
savored the last fleeting moments of their
time before protocol and procedure dictated
they reserve themselves with stoicism. "I
shall be happy as well with you, no matter
your post" she affirmed quietly, gazing into
his eyes intently.