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Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:8:3) in the Essesia system: Retributor.
Commander Kerrie Kiley and Major Sierra Rodney.

Commander Kerrie Kiley was preparing a bag of raw meat in preparation to feed Crassus, the Governor's pet worrt, in the security office across from Major Rodney's office outside of the Grand Moff's office. It was one of her least enjoyable duties, although she was flattered that she had been chosen to care for the creature. She saw in her daily agenda that Major Rodney was briefing her on a family trip to Delaya, so she wanted to do this as quickly as possible and, if possible, cleanse herself of the strench of the meat and the worrt. Unfortunately, she was already behind schedule, as Ewwiekewwieikkie had delayed her getting aboard the command ship because she was asking where the zoo was. She wanted to tell the Squib that she was living a zoo, but not only would she not understand the joke, it was unnecessarily cruel. And so, she continued with her work, moving faster than she should, in a desperate attempt to finish in time.

Major Sierra Rodney had been in for a surprise when Ewwiekewwieikkie had come into her office, commandeered the last of her pudding, and went running off. Sierra hoped the Squib girl didn't manage to crash the dreadnaught again, but if she did, she had a list of chores for an unfortunate Ensign to carry out. She was working diligently when she caught a whiff of something that smelt *terrible*. Sierra looked around her office for the source of the smell. It smelled as if someone had ordered Gungan take out. "Ugh..." She said, clutching her stomach. Assuming something had died in the air duct, she rose to find someone to take care of it. The closer she moved towards the security office, the worse the smell. She was quickly forced to stop her pursuit and lean against a wall. Sierra wasn't certain if it was morning sickness, or the smell all by itself, regardless, she felt *sick*. Did she really even want to know what was in that security office?!

Commander Kiley smiled when she looked at the chrono. She thought she had plenty of time to feed the worry, get cleaned up, and speak to Major Rodney, but the moment she stepped out of her office with the prepared raw meat and spotted her she knew she was *wrong*. "Oh. Major," she said, as she stiffened up into rigid military posture, which meant holding the tray out in front of her. "I thought you would be briefing me earlier. Perhaps I had the time wrong," she began, offering unnecessary excuses and apologies.

It shocked to her to see Commander Kiley holding a tray with prepped raw meat. The sources of the smell had revealed itself. Sierra stepped back slightly to give herself some distance. "Oh, no. Our meeting is later. I didn't realize you were here yet... The smell caught my attention. May I ask what *are* you doing? Surely that isn't your lunch." Sierra had seen a lot of weird things in her day. She had no explanation for this strange occurrence. The Clawdite seemed to be holding roughly her weight in raw meat.

Kerrie could not determine if Sierra's comment about it being lunch was in reference to her being an alien, as every ISB officer she had encountered seemed to detest aliens. "This is for Crassus. The governor's pet worrt," she explained, thinking nothing of it, as she expected that Sierra already knew of it existence. "Feeding it has been one of my duties before I was reassigned, but now that I am again in charge of the security detail it once again falls into my purview," she explained, wondering if perhaps Sierra wanted to do it herself. "If you would like the duty as adjutant I will, of course, demure," she explained, as she attempted to win Sierra's favor.

It was the first time she had heard that her husband was keeping a pet aboard the ship, let alone a worrt. Internally, she squeed. Sierra loved animals and felt excited to hear about the exotic pet her husband was keeping. She tried to hide her excitement, but a smile broke out on her face. "A worrt? *Really*? He never mentioned it..." She quietly considered using the ISB techniques taught to her at the Imperial Academy to make sure he wasn't hiding anything else from her. Good for him, she loved him with her whole heart and would never do anything like that to him. "I-I've never seen a worrt in person. Can you take me to see Crassus?" It sounded exciting to feed the worrt, but the smell of the raw meat made her want to throw up. "Perhaps we can discuss me taking over feeding time *after* morning sickness had ended." She explained to Kerrie.

"Of course, milady, but I ask that you be mindful. His tongue is quite powerful and can strike, without warning, from across the room," Kerrie said, with a nod of her head. "I am happy to perform the duty as needed," she said, as they moved down the corridor towards the turbolift that would lead to the level where the worrt was 'contained'. "When we transferred from the Warspite to the Retributor we lost a man," she cryptically explained, as she tried to prepare Sierra for what was to come. At last they arrived at the bottom of the ship where the creature resided. When they arrived at the door there was a warning on the door and she had to enter a special code to cause the durasteel blast door to open. As soon as she stepped into the room the tongue went flying, snatching a piece of raw meat off the tray in the blink of an eye. As a response, she quickly raised her left arm to keep Sierra from going further into the room.

Sierra quietly followed Kerrie. She knew about worrt. They were supposed to be nearly the same height as herself and weigh infinitely more. The amphibians called the desert their habitat, yet somehow Claudius had brought one to the ship. "He's had it that long? How did he find it? How did you even transfer him? He's full grown, isn't he?" Sierra had never come to the bottom of the ship. She would have never known about Crassus without bumping into Kerrie. There were even warning signs on the door. Sierra stepped into the room directly after Commander Kiley. She watched the worrt's tongue fly across the room, wrap around a piece of raw meat, and withdrawal right back into his mouth. "Holy wow!" She gasped. It had happened so quickly. Sierra needn't get any closer. This was her first meeting with the worrt. She wouldn't try her luck. "How did I miss this..?" She watched Crassus consume his meal. She was in awe of the large amphibian.

"He has had the worrt longer than he has had me, and I have been in his service for four years," Kerrie explained, before placing the tray with the remainder of the raw meat on the floor and using her boot to gently slide it over towards it. "No one knows why the Governor has it, or how he came by it. It's been a topic amongst the crew and I believe there is a gambling pool as to the reason," she explained, as she kept her eyes locked on the creature. In lightning like fury the tongue whipped forward and grabbed another piece of meat, causing Kerrie to move backwards and push Sierra back as well. "Getting it transferred was not without issues and not without casualties," she said, as she assumed they were now out of the range of the creature's tongue. "Well, to be fair, milady, *a lot* has happened since you arrived. It may have just slipped his mind," as she revealed in a moment of honesty.

"Oh, knowing Claudius he visited Tatooine and stumbled upon the worrt when it was small enough to fit in his pocket. He'd never be able to resist that." Sierra was going to bug him for the real story soon enough. She felt a lot less silly for bringing a mini bantha home for Ewwiekewwieikkie, supporting the pond for the ducks, having a Delayan sea cow, a family of otters, *and* luring in the cute black and white felinx at her lake house... It was true. They did live in a zoo. Instead of taking Ewwiekewwieikkie to the zoo as planned, maybe she should just let her see all the exotic animals she was hiding from her. Sierra kept back. She stepped out of the room to let the worrt finish eating. She smiled at Kerrie, nodding her head. "I'm sure. It has been a hectic six months. Thank you for showing me the worrt. It's cute."

"My wager was that it was a gift from Jabba the Hutt for a favor the Governor performed for him," Kerrie said, as she turned to look at Sierra. "Cute is not the adjective I would use, but when the Zolanders made fun of me for my natural appearance when I was studying with the Mabari, my instructor informed me that beauty was in the eye of the beholder," she said, as she bit her lower lip and looked down, remembering an unhappy chapter in her life. "I saw in the daily agenda that you and the Governor will be returning to Delaya. Will any of the children be going, and do you wish for any additional security?" she asked, as she tried to change the subject as quickly as possible. There were difficult parts of her past she did not want to dredge up, particularly around an ISB head shrink.

She frowned. She wished that Kerrie wouldn't hide her face, for in Sierra's eyes, she had nothing to hide. In all that had happened, Sierra had come to care for Kerrie's well being immensely. So, as she brought up harder times, Sierra reached an arm around her and squeezed. She didn't want to make Kerrie feel uncomfortable by delving into terrible times. She also wanted Kerrie to know that she was there for her. "Oh, yes. We are going to Delaya to revive an old family tradition by taking the children to be blessed at Duchess Raeni and Duke Germanicus' lake in the northern part of Delaya." She explained. "Bruce will be coming. I'm hoping Drusilla will join us as well. I've already warned her, so we can only cross our fingers and hope she will be ready in time." As to additional security, that question led to a short pause. "...Yes. We will be on Governor Arundel's playing field. It is not a place where I feel comfortable. The man is looking for any excuse to arrest Claudius and I."

Kerrie was surprised that Sierra had offered a hug, so when it broke she began backing up, as she was unsure of how to react. She nodded as Sierra detailed the information concerning the trip to Delaya. "I will see that El-Nay takes care of Ewwiekewwieikkie, Melickielickie, and Callista," she explained, with a nod of her head. "If you wish I can bring a security detail to Delaya or I can see to things aboard the command ship in your absence," she said, but in a moment of excitement she made a critical mistake and lowered her situational awareness. An instant later there was a flash and the worrt's tongue wrapped around her ankle, immediately causing her to lose her balance and fall face forward to the durasteel deck. "Ugh," she groaned, as she looked up to Sierra, grabbing at the deck to attempt from being dragged in. She was not able to get a grip and was being dragged back towards the creature. "Don't hurt it to save me. If you do, it will just be the Governor who kills me," she said, as she attempted to use her other leg to kick at the creature's tongue.

Sierra was considering things. She didn't want a large Stormtrooper presence at the family event. At the same time, there was Papius to worry about. All of these thoughts came to a very sudden closure when the worrt's tongue captured Kerrie and began dragging her. "Kerrie!" She stepped forward anxiously. The worrt had a strength advantage here. Undoubtedly, it weighed more than Sierra and Kerrie combine. "Don't kick it! If it bites you, the venom in its teeth will kill you in an instant!" She grabbed Kerrie's right arm with both of her own. "H-has he made you do this for four years?" Sierra asked while she and Crassus played an unexpected game of Kerrie Kiley tug o war. She released one of her hands from Kerrie, reaching towards the tray on the ground. There was still one piece of raw meat on it. "Ugh. My arm isn't long enough..." She stretched out as far as she could, grasping the cold, raw meat. She threw the piece of meat across the room so that *maybe* the worrt would redirect his attention there. Her hand resumed position on Kerrie. "Please go after the meat. Please go after the meat..."

When Sierra tossed the meat the worrt just as suddenly released its grasp on Kerrie, and moved to grab the more familiar food. "Run!" Kerrie pleased, as she began scrambling up from the ground, with Sierra until they were out of the room. She slammed her hand on the control panel to bring the blast door down, saving them from the creature. When it was over she collapsed to the ground in the corridor, with her back to the bulkhead, as she began to hyperventilate. Her cheeks were flushed red from nearly losing her life. "N-not at first," she said to Sierra, as she looked at the ground in front of them. "That came later, when the previous feeder quit," she explained, as she tried to steady her breathing. "Thank you. Thank you for saving my life," she said to Sierra, but then she began to panic. "Please don't tell the Governor. I wouldn't want him to think me incapable," she said, as she looked up at her replacement with her carefully mimicked human eyes.

There was one word Kerrie needn't repeat: run. As soon as the wart had unleashed Kerrie, Sierra was on the move. She didn't look back until the blast door was closed. She collapsed to the ground beside the Clawdite, gasping for breath. "I... I take it back. Crassus isn't cute!" The worrt could never be welcomed at the estate, for the death toll would rapidly rise with that thing around. Sierra's heart slowly began to relax from the sudden frightening predicament. "The previous feeder quit, or was eaten?" She lifted her head. "Don't thank me. You've saved me plenty of times. I promise I won't tell him as long as you *never* make me feed the worrt by myself." Sierra stood back up and offered Kerrie a hand. "Why don't *you* come with us to Delaya? The blessing at the lake is sacred. It isn't something I wish to share with a bunch of Stormtroopers simply because I fear Governor Arundel. I'd rather someone I trusted was there--someone who's part of the family."

"Perhaps among worrts Crassus is considered cute," Kerrie said, as she attempted to make a joke. "Uh. That is an interesting question. One morning I was just informed it was part of my duties. I originally thought it was punishment, but when I came to understand how much the creature meant to the Governor I began to view it as an honor," she revealed, perhaps suggesting that Claudius, like his son, had a connection to animals. "That is a deal, milady," she said, as she rose to her feet, adjusted her uniform, and dusted herself off. "I would be honored to accompany you," she said, before bowing at the waist to her. As she lowered her head she smiled, happy to hear that she was still needed and, more importantly, wanted.

Sierra smiled and laughed. "Don't let him hear you say that." She stepped away from the blast doors. Crassus was sassy. She liked the worrt. He was important to Claudius, and so, he was important to her too. Her smile grew as she, too, came to the realization that Bruce wasn't the only one connected with animals in the family. She had witnessed it on the back of a thranta long ago. Claudius was special too. "I have to ask him where he got it." Sierra was all too curious, like the rest of her family. "I'd be honored to have you. You know, we're all happy to have you stationed with the family again. It makes both mine and Claudius' life easier knowing you're there to protect the children when we aren't home." She valued Kerrie and she wanted the Clawdite to know that. Slowly, Sierra began making her way back towards the turbolift.

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