Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Liz Dorner and Christopher Levy.
Zero years before the Battle of Yavin (35:4:15) in the Essesia system: Esseles (New Calamar: Claudius Rodney's estate).
Ewwiekewwieikkie, Vice Admiral Claudius Rodney, Countess Htaere Rodney, and Lady Jelena Rodney.

The Lady Jelena Rodney sat quietly at the dining room table at the Rodney Estate on Esseles. Her brown hair was down loosely, as she had not taken the time to do anything with it. There was no glamorous dress or any attempt to look ladylike. The young woman was instead wearing an Alderaan University shirt, where she felt she belonged, rather that sitting in a virtual prison on a planet she was barely allowed to see. She had not spoken much since the incident with her father the other day. A glass of blue milk sat in front of her, barely touched. The reception on Coruscant was now two days away, and she had been crying every night since the announcement. The Empire was becoming more and more evil in her eyes, and the last thing she wanted was to spend time with the man she was coming to blame for it all.

Htaere smiled across the area rug in one of the fancy parlors towards the blue furred Squib. From behind her back, she produced yet another fork, elaborate and strange, it looked like a ladder of sorts. "Ok Ewwie, this one is from Maires. Ready for this assessment?" she asked hopefully. This technique had been Htaere's only chance of getting the Squib to modify at least certain behaviors, via positive reinforcement. The reward of choice; forks collected from countless star systems across the galaxy.

Ewwiekewwieikkie beamed with delight as she looked at the fork, almost hopping in the air with excitement as she examined the beautiful specimen. "I been trying good," she explained to Htaere, boasting about her earlier success in the training ... though really she had only understood a small fraction of what Htaere had been able to teach her. The young woman's golden eyes locked on the fork, as she excitedly clapped in sheer delight. "What you want bargain this time?" she asked, her tongue slowly sliding from her mouth to lick at her lips as she imagined the trinkets to come.

"Remember the rules. Noooo touching," Htaere began, holding the fork out so Ewwie could get a good long look at it. "Nooooo noises...just silence, right?" She signaled a house droid, who rolled passed them wearing a long hooded robe. "Ok, the big important man walks by and we curtsy. Go ahead," she motioned for Ewwie to take a shot at a curtsy.

"Mmm..." Ewwiekewwieikkie murmured as she bit down on her lower lip, trying her hardest not to say anything. It was perhaps the longest she had remained quiet in her life. She even seemed to talk in her sleep. She dropped down slowly, bending her knees, and pulling up her skirt as she curtsied to the serving droid. "Mmm..." she murmured again as she looked towards the shiny new fork.

Htaere laughed, clapping her hands and bouncing a bit as well. This had truly been an undertaking. "Oh very good!" she laughed, handing the fork over to Ewwie. "Let us rest for a moment, and then we shall do it one more time, just like so, ok?" She smiled to the Squib, feeling hopeful that they just might be able to pull this off.

Ewiekewwieikkie snatched the fork from Htaere's hand and thrust it in the air victoriously. She began jumping in the air excitedly in a victory dance. "Yay! Yay! Yay!" she cheered excitedly as she admired her prize. It was perhaps the nicest fork in her collection. When her dance was done, she cradled it against her chest happily, loving it.

Jelena heard Ewwie's cheering from the kitchen and shook her head, wondering why they were going through all the trouble. She got up from her chair and marched into the room, looking towards Htaere. "You've got her performing like a circus animal," she said disappointedly, shaking her head at the grim scene. She had grown up with the Squib and perhaps she more than anyone understood her. "She's smarter than everyone gives her credit for you know," she said, as she walked over to her adopted sister and gave her a reassuring pat on the head.

The mirth drowned from Htaere's face as she frowned reluctantly, eyes flickering over to Jelena. "This is fact," she conceded. "But under the circumstances, there is no other choice. Claudius insists she participate, though I have my...concerns," she admitted letting her voice trail off, silently recalling Ithor yet again, as she had so many times. She lifted a hand to brush at a temple, masking the dismay somewhat.

"It seems like a lot of trouble for something that's not even going to happen," Jelena commented as she folded her arms in front of her chest, and flashed a pouty expression at Htaere. "I'm not going to do it," she insisted, as she dramatically threw herself down on the sofa and her attention fixated on Imperial Holovision. She had no time for this nonsense.

"It is what your father wishes," the heiress replied quietly. "You will not consider his sacrafice and career long enough to humor him?"

"After what they did to you you want me to go bow and wave to the Emperor?" Jelena defiantly replied with a twinge of anger, remembering the attack against Htaere vividly. "My father is a misguided ... fool," she said, hurting as she said the word, and wishing she could take it back, but the damage was done. She sunk into herself, her chin braced firmly against her chest as she looked down at the floor awkwardly. "I shouldn't...shouldn't have said that..." she stuttered uncomfortably, wondering what had happened to her once loving family. She believed things would have been different had her mother lived, but she would not share that with Htaere.

Htaere said nothing at first, regarding the protest quietly. Finally she answered in a low tone. "I do not wish to participate either, but it means the world to Claudius, thus I shall oblige him in this, regardless of my personal feelings on the matter." The idea did more then make the bile rise in her throat but she had been trained from youth to do what was required of her.

Jelena sighed as she looked towards Ewwwie, who seemed to be in a world of happiness with her forks. "Look. I can't be bought with jewelry ... or silverware," she said, referencing her two sisters as she looked towards Htaere. "If this means so much to him ... get him to give me what I really want," she demanded, as she sensed an opportunity. "Get him to enroll me in Alderaan University next semester and I'll do it," she insisted, hoping the beautiful young Hapan could work her charms on her father so she could get off of this rock.

"I suppose I can, but is it not perhaps a better opportunity if you were to make the request in person?" Htaere shifted to an elegant chair and took a seat, carefully smoothing her dress as she settled. "It has been some time since you spoke. You may enjoy the moment," she suggested.

Jelena shook her head at Htaere as a familiar tear started to form in her right eye. "He doesn't even listen to me anymore," she complained as she started to cry, taking in a sharp inhale as she tried to steady herself. "He will listen to you though. He feels awful about what happened to you. He'll listen to you!" she repeated desperately, as she looked to Htaere with pathetic, helpless eyes.

Ewwiekewwieikkie ran towards Jelena when she started to cry and plopped on the sofa next to her. The blue-furred creature gave her a loving hug, as she was not quite sure what was wrong. "Don't cry, Jelly," she said as she looked over her younger 'sister.' "Here. Fork!" she said cheerfully, as she offered up her newfound trinket to Jelena.

Htaere's grey eyes dropped to her lap momentarily as she drew a deep breath. "Very well, I shall speak with him. But I implore you to do the same," she yielded.

"He is not the man that raised me," Jelena explained with a wealth of sorrow as she considered the events of the past several months. "You've seen the bombings first hand. You know what's going on all around us. The Empire is not the way the galaxy should be governed," she said to Htaere, becoming more forceful and expanding upon the conversations she had shared with Parka.

"Jelena!" Htaere's eyes widened harshly. "You cannot say such things," she warned, reducing her voice to a whisper. "They will hear you," she admonished her in near silence before shaking her head. "And believe me when I say, their suspicion is not something you want to incur."

"I don't care who hears anymore," Jelena said, as she pushed Ewwie aside and stood up from the sofa. "Please. Get him to agree," she implored Htaere, before she turned to climb up the stairs to her room. She wanted nothing more than to get out there and live her own life, far away from this stupid war that was ruining what chance she had.

Several hours transpired before Admiral Claudius Rodney's shuttle would arrive on the landing pad. There seemed to be a spring in his step as the Empire had actually managed to score some victories, but the real energy seemed to come from the impending joy of his audience with the Emperor. He believed Ewwiekewwieikkie as making progress, and that pleased, and although Jelena had protested attending the ceremony, he felt she would ultimately come to the right decision. "I'm home," he announced loudly, as he stepped over the threshold and entered the estate. His hands immediately went to his tunic and he began unfasten it, removing it quickly and hanging it upon a rack that had been positioned near the door.

"In here," Htaere called, moving the box of forks from her lap where she flipped through them debating what else she could try to impress upon Ewwie in the last 48 hours. Setting it on the floor, she got to her feet and moved to the central foyer of the estate, working up a beaming smile. "Hello Claudius, how was your day?"

Claudius felt a warmness flow through him whenever Htaere was around and a loving smile immediately came upon his lips when he saw her. Before speaking, he leaned in to place the softest of kisses upon her lips, closing his eyes to savor it for the briefest of moments. "Things are going very well," he said, sound more optimistic than he had in the past. "What progress here?" he asked, referring to the training of his adopted Squib daughter. He was more concerned with her behavior than he was with convincing Jelena to attend.

Htaere bubbled for a moment, shoulders hunching excitedly. "Doing well, I believe she should do fine," she offered. She did not finish voicing her concerns about Ewwie's success in carrying through. "We have just a bit more to review but I believe she is as ready as she will ever be," she nodded slightly. Shifting slightly, Htaere braced for a far more sensitive topic. "Claudius, there is one thing that remains in need of address..." she began carefully.

Claudius sighed with relief at Htaere's optimism, but his mood quickly changed when Htaere mentioned the other subject. His face sunk slightly as he tilted his head, not quite sure what to expect. "It sounds like I am going to need to sit down," he said to her as moved to nearly chair, and quickly situated himself upon it. His brown eyes scanned her cautiously, as his folded uncomfortably in his lap. "Yes?" he asked deliberately, hoping that it would not be anything too dramatic.

Htaere resisted the urge to wring her fingers nervously. "Well, it is about Jelena and her...'willful' participation," she continued. "And...well, there is a request on the table...for said participation."

Claudius clapped his hands together loudly in victory the moment he heard Htaere utter those words. "Hah! I knew it!" he boasted, a strong grin coming upon his middle-aged face. He was well aware that each member of his family had a price, whether it was Drusilla and jewelry or Ewwiekewwieikkie and shiny baubles. Jelena was a prideful woman, but even she too had a price it turned out. "Very well, my dear. What does she want?" he asked, realizing whatever price it was would be fair to secure their day with the Emperor.

Htaere partially chuckled before forging forward. "Enrollment at Alderaan University next semester," she decided to just lay it out there.

"Ugh..." Claudius groaned uncomfortably as the smile immediately faded from his face. "Why couldn't it have been jewelry?" he asked Htaere, rhetorically as he lowered his head, silently thinking about how best to handle this. After what had happened between the ISB and Htaere, he was hesitant to go to COMPNOR to request his daughter be able to attend University.

"It really is a reasonable request, Claudius," she replied. "She does not want to stay here forever and I do not blame her in that regard. All of her friends are already fast into their courses of study," Htaere reasoned, taking a seat nearby and leaning on the arm rest of the upholstered chair enthusiastically.

Claudius closed his eyes and brought his left hand up to his face, pressing his thumb and forefinger against his eyelids and pressed down firmly, feeling the beginning of a headache coming on. He sighed tremendously, before removing his hand and fixating his gaze upon his wife once more. "Of course it is a reasonable request. Of course I want her to go..." he said, remembering how excited he was when he left his home on Delaya to attend Alderaan University. He credited it with making him the man he was today. "It is just we live in such unreasonable times and it is difficult for me get permission for such things," he explained, but fully realized how ridiculous it was that he needed 'permission' t allow his daughter to go off to school.

Full pert lips pressed slightly. "I am not one to give ultimatums, Claudius," she started quietly, "but you have only 48 hours to bring such to fruition." She mulled it over for a few moments. "And I do believe she is not bluffing in her unwillingness to go along with this."

"Why can it never be easy?" a weakened Claudius asked her, though he knew he would have no answer. He was fully prepared to have Major Kiley drag her from the estate kicking and screaming and throw her aboard the shuttle, willing or unwilling. "I will make it happen ... somehow," he promised Htaere, though at the moment he was unsure of just how he would accomplish such a feat.

"Promise?" Htaere canted her head curiously.

"I promise," Claudius said, feeling quite like a child in having to make the promise. He stood up from his seat and walked to the stairs, looking up at them apprehensively. It was ridiculous that he was terrified of a teenage girl, but that was exactly the case. He turned looking to Htaere for approval. "I'll tell her tomorrow..." he said, procrastinating until after he could make the necessary arrangements. "For now ... we should get to bed," he said with a tired nod, as he began to slowly ascend the staircase.

Following after him, Htaere smiled up at his back, several steps behind him. "Claudius," she called up over at him.

Claudius reached the top of the stairs when he heard her call out to him, and he stopped, grabbed hold of the railing, and turned to look down at her. "Yes, my love?" he asked her, still mentally preparing himself for the challenge of squaring off with COMPNOR tomorrow.

Upon reaching the top of the stare, Htaere smiled warmly, eyes glinting over her older husband. "Thank you," she murmured quietly before stretching up on her tip toes to leave a tender kiss on his aged lips. A tired yet appreciative smile, and a pat on his belly and she continued past him. "You are a gem, Claudius."

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