Era of Rebellion - Navigation


Liz Dorner and Christopher Levy.

One year before the Battle of Yavin (34:10:14) in the Essessa system: Esseles (New Calamar: Claudius Rodney's estate).
Vice Admiral Claudius Rodney and Lady Htaere Ka`a Sha`ar.

Claudius Rodney sat on the floor of his master bedroom, his uniform tunic removed. He remained only in the undershirt and slacks. The boots were carelessly discarded, the tunic draped on the bedpost. He looked worn, tired ... exhausted. In front of him was a foot locker that looked as battered as him. It had been the same one he used many times before ... for his entire career in fact. The dresser drawers were open, clothing strewn about no longer neatly folded. Shirts and undershirts were spread out across the bed. Pants had already been placed, wrinkled, and bunched up in the footlocker. There was a drained bottle of Alderaan Ruge laying on its side on the floor next to him, but there was no glass. He was packing ... in a roundabout way.

Never wavering in her aesthetic glory, Htaere seemed to glide down the spacious hallway of the estate that connected the bed chambers on the second level. She noticed the door open to Claudius' room, and eager to pay her daily visit, she moved into the door frame and came to a stop, all smiles. However, the glee was short lived. Her smile faded almost instantly, replaced with horror, pretty grey eyes widening. She mumbled something to herself, drawing into the room in slow measured steps, gaze taking in the chaos, and the very man she was due to marry, unrecognizable in the current light. "Claudius? What happened? What is wrong?" she asked, stunned as she came to a halt about a meter from him.

Claudius sat there, his back propped up against the foot of the bed. At first his head hung lazily, slightly bobbling. But then he heard Htaere's voice and he smiled, wider than usual as the alcohol had done its job. He jerked his head up quickly, turning his face to look towards with her. His cheeks were flushed red, with what emotion the liquor had long since erased. He could have been upset, angry, or both. "Htaere!" he said eagerly as he saw her. He tried to get up, but failed ... after raising himself only a little bit off the floor, he quickly plopped back down on his rear.

Htaere's eyes glazed in nothing short of terror. Her hands covered her mouth in trepidation as she whispered to herself "By the goddesses... She eased closer to him and knelt down in front of him, appalled at the state he was in. "Claudius...why have you done this?"

"I'm glad you're here, Htaere," Claudius said, his head drooping slightly as he struggled to keep it up, "We've got to get packed. We're moving." He reached his right arm up over his back and grabbed for one of the undershirts. Taking into his grasp, he crumpled it into a ball, and tossed it carelessly in the footlocker with the other discarded articles of clothing.

Htaere's stunned gaze followed the undershirt's trajectory straight into the footlocker. "Moving?" She reached for the bottle, drawing it to her face and sniffing it before recoiling quickly and placing it back down. "Claudius...this is..." Htaere began...but couldn't complete the sentence. She stood and extended her hands towards him. "Come with me..." she said, managing a genuine smile, patient and glowing.

Claudius reached for her hand and used it to raise himself up off the floor. He groaned audibly as the room began to spin. His legs began to buckle, but he locked his knees and kept himself upright. Raising his hand to his temple he closed his eyes and attempted to focus himself. "Come where?" he asked, in a weak tone of voice. "We've got to pack," he tried to explain, as he reached for another undershirt to toss into the open footlocker.

" are a mess" Htaere replied, sadness ruining her effort to smile. Still holding his hands, she led him to one of the plush sofas near the fireplace. "Sit...I will get you some tea" she affirmed, helping him to sit without toppling over.

Claudius reached both of his hands in front of him, and tucked his undershirt tighter into his pants. "I've never looked better," he said proudly, standing before her. He smiled for a moment, his eyes drawing closed for a moment. "Ugh..." he murmured quietly, feeling as if he were about to throw up.

Htaere looked about quickly, scrambling to find the nearest decorative waste basket and placing it in front of him. "Claudius...please are not well" she pleaded.

Claudius weakly sat down on the foot of the bed. He swallowed several times and prevented himself from throwing up. He raised his hand towards her, motioning to her not to bring it. "I'm fine," he tried to reason with her. He raised his hands to his face and began to rub at his cheeks, frustrated. "So much packing to do," he complained, more to himself than to her.

At a complete loss, Htaere stood where she was, utterly defeated. "Why are we moving Claudius?" she asked quietly.  Her eyes flickered over the disaster across the floor before looking serenely back towards him.

"I have been transferred," Claudius said quietly. He lowered his head into his hands and sighed deeply. He knew this would be coming, Kerrie's failure to retrieve the disk was not the only nail in the coffin, but it did prove to be the final one.

Htaere slipped over to the bed and took a seat to his left. Her right hand lifted to his back, rubbing it softly. "It is ok. Where are we going to?" she asked, leaning close to him and studying his tired visage intently.

"The Mid Rim," Claudius said, struggling to get the words out ... not because he was drunk, but he detested the thought. He belonged in the civilized worlds of the Core ... not some backwater destinations. He slapped his hands on his knees, frustrated beyond words. He tightened his jaw and tried to refocus himself. "Oh well," he sighed trying to put himself back together, "I am a soldier and I go where I'm told."

It meant very little to Htaere, uneducated with the rest of the galaxy. "Perhaps this new assignment will afford you the time you desperately need to rest" she offered pleasantly. After a length pause, Htaere beamed. "I will follow you anywhere Claudius."

Claudius appreciated the sentiment. He looked at her, a slight smile upon his face, his jaw still clenched. He nodded his head up and down slowly, acknowledging that she was right. "Perhaps it will," he said to her as he began to come out of his stupor.

Htaere stood, moving to the foot locker and settling down in front of it, sitting back on her ankles. One by one, she began to remove articles of clothing. "You cannot travel as such. I will have these cleaned and pressed for you" she stated. As she worked, her silvery orbs moved towards him once more. "You should take your shower. You will feel better afterwards."

"I just..." Claudius began before losing some of his energy, "I just want to get some sleep." He reached for his belt buckle and unfastened it. As he stood, his pants slid down around his knees and crumpled on the ground. He stumbled to remove his feet from them, but with slight effort he managed. Wavering, he continued forward and plopped himself onto the bed. He sighed as he shifted his way until he reached a comfortable position and lay his head upon his pillow. He did not bother to cover himself with the sheet. He was comfortable and tired ... that was all that mattered to him this evening.

Htaere frowned, and with a hefty sigh, got to her feet and headed for the door. She closed it quietly behind her and stood in the hallway for a moment, statuesque and contemplative. Her lips pursed a bit before she turned and headed towards her own chambers.

"Wait," Claudius called out to Htaere before she could exit. "Come back," he said loud enough for her to hear, sounding almost like a child crying out for his mother.

In mid stride, she slowed to a stop, turning slightly. She hesitated, but moved silently back towards the chamber door. She nudged the door open and stood silhouetted by the light that flooded through the open door from the corridor. "Yes?"

"Stay here tonight..." Claudius said to her, sounding very needy, "I don't want to be alone." He rolled over on the bed weakly and looked to her, smiling, trying to contain a rather large yawn.

Somewhat surprised by the request, she was taken aback momentarily before softening. Htaere shut the door behind her and sauntered to the bed. Promptly she removed her dainty sandals, leaving them side by side before climbing into bed. In the dim lighting, she had to move carefully to find her way, hindered visually as part of the genetic package. She plucked the small tiara from her head and left it on the nightstand, the gem in her forehead radiating a soft soothing glow of amber in the dark of the room. She settled in beside him, arms reaching for him and holding him securely. "You are never alone Claudius. My thoughts are with you always" she said softly. Her fingertips traced small pressurized circles on his flesh, massaging little caresses here and there to comfort him.

Claudius reached around Htaere with his right arm as he rolled onto his side. He pulled her snug against his body, her back to his front. He sighed contently, brushing her flowing hair out of his mouth, as he placed a single kiss upon her shoulder. Exhaling deeply, the exhaustion of the day finally proving too much he slumped against her. His head lowered against the back of hers, a small river of drool running from his mouth as he drifted off to sleep. Still remaining a firm grasp around her as they spooned, the tranquility of the moment was soon disrupted by the audible sound of him snoring.

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