Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:4:35) in the Essesia system: Retributor.
Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca, Grand Moff Praji, Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, and Commander Sierra Rodney.

The Executor-class Star Dreadnaught loomed large over the planet Esseles, flanked by scores of escorting vessels. Off the bridge Grand Moff Claudius Rodney was standing on a holonet projector while the image of another Grand Moff stood before him. "What the man did was completely unacceptable. He's a menace," Claudius reported, angrily, talking with his hands as much as his mouth. Around him small MSE-6 series repair droids scurried about, while junior officers occasionally shot a glance in the direction of their commanding officer. "He should be reprimanded. Perhaps brought up on charges..." he continued, exasperated to the point where the veins on the side of his head near his temple were visibly bulging. When finished, he folded his arms in front of his chest and stared back at the man, waiting for him to explain himself.

Grand Moff Praji listened as his counterpart angrily addressed him, which he felt was completely out of line and totally unbecoming. "My dear Claudius you must temper your emotions. I fear for your health," he said, dismissively, once the man had completed his tirade. "Governor Arundel discovered Rebel involvement on Delaya. He drew them out and eliminated them," he explained, coldly, unmoved by Claudius' emotions. "My report to the Emperor will say as much. It is a great Imperial victory for *my* forces," he reported, as he looked at the man who appeared as a holographic image to him. "You should thank him. Your home planet has been purged of Rebel activity," he said, with a firm nod of his head, hoping the meeting was over.

Sierra Rodney was standing off to the side watching the meeting between Grand Moffs unfold. She had some strong feelings against Governor Arundel. Though they fought for the same side, she'd do anything to watch him die. In her opinion, it was Papius who had caused everything on Delaya. The Rebels had shown up because of him, not Claudius. Her little nose twitched. Grand Moff Praji wasn't buying any of it. In the Empire, it seemed those who were evil beyond all reason were rewarded. It made her wonder how Claudius had ever been able to crawl up the ranks. *Thanking* Papius was not happening even though Sierra hated imagining him reigning over their people...the people who he'd just burned in Delaya's destruction. She busied herself with the datapad she held between her hands. It was the very same one she'd been trying to reach before the meeting began. She looked toward her husband sympathetically. She was sorry that things had gone so badly. As an avid problem solver, even she had yet to figure out the resolution to Papius, Arden, and all of their other enemies.

"*Victory*?! Victory?!" Claudius repeated, flabbergasted and briefly knocked off message. "How can you call it a victory if there is nothing left standing? Our role is to protect people from the Rebel terrorists ... *not* destroy their homes and their businesses," he said, with a deep sigh, lowering his arms and allowing them to slap against his thighs. "I will appeal to the Emperor myself. I will not allow this to go unchecked. Too many of my people were slaughtered by Arundel's heavy-handed tactics," he complained, as his eyes rolled off to the side to look towards his wife. "I won't have you characterize his atrocities as a victory. He did not conduct himself as an officer and a gentleman," he added, sounding very out of touch, like the Alderaanian nobleman and Republic holdover that he was.

Governor Praji could only laugh and sneer at Claudius at his pathetic retort to his claim. "If you are foolish enough to take this to the Emperor you will find yourself out of a career and perhaps your life," he said, glaring back at him from his holoprojector. "*Your* people as you call them were Rebels. Traitors like the Alderaanians. Our own intelligence states that it was none other than Princess Leia Organa who led the Rebellion into battle against our forces," he said, as he raised his datapad, looking down at the facts. "We have served together two decades, Claudius, but I warn you ... you force my hand," he said, as he raised his head to look at him squarely in the eyes. "If you challenge me with His Majesty you leave me no choice but to present Arundel's report stating that your new wife ... your fourth wife is it? ... has ties to this insurgency!" he said, before handing the report off to his aid. He waited in silence, arrogantly raising his nose and eyes, hoping that he had finally shut up the uptight Alderaanian.

A fire within Sierra had reawoke upon listening to Claudius. They hadn't seen the entire aftermath of the battle of Delaya. She could only imagine how deep the damage went. The refugees, who had been promised safety, were either killed or taken from Delaya. The amount of innocents that were reported dead was a growing number on Sierra's datapad. The proof was there: Governor Arundel had acted wrongly. He had decided to raze the city without a single care to those who lived there...the people who weren't involved in the war. Sierra's eyes met with her husband. She offered him a supportive smile and a firm nod of her head. She backed him one-hundred-and-ten percent. Papius didn't deserve praise for what he had done.

It was shocking to hear that Princess Leia had led the Rebel forces into Delaya. It was known that Papius had captured Iyah Xergo, and that it was she who drew the Rebels to their planet. She didn't see the people of Delaya as traitors, so she hated hearing those words from Praji's mouth. She felt that Claudius could make a solid case to the Emperor. There were numbers, *proof* of how wrongly Papius had acted. She thought the information they had gathered thus far would be useful all up until Governor Praji brought up her arrest warrant. Sierra's eyes rolled. She'd watched the videos. He was no ISB agent. They were poorly chopped up. *Clearly* he had forced the Rebel commander to make claims against her. Praji had cornered Claudius. He wouldn't risk her.

The fire in Claudius' eyes had been extinguished by Praji's threat, which broke his spirit as easy as the shell of an egg. He lowered his head, closed his eyes, and considered the fate of his people versus the fate of his wife. His hands curled in on themselves, balling into fists, but he had no fight left in him. He stepped off the holoprojector, and waved his hand at Commander Ames to terminate the transmission. His hands moved behind his back, intertwining with one another, as he walked down the long command walkway that overlooked the crew pits on the bridge. He was furious, but silent, and did not want the crew to see it. As he reached the viewport at the end of the bridge he raised his head, revealing grit teeth that he was repeatedly chomping on it as he tried to expel his anger. As he looked out at the endless stream of space traffic that flew up and down from Esseles he took some comfort it in, as the motion and light combined to distract him and calm his nerves. He had been completely outmatched by Praji and he felt powerless to act against him. He was hardly the strategist that he needed to be. The Empire seemed to have changed from what he remembered, and officers who he did not respect were rising to the top echelons of power.

The worst part of the whole meeting was watching the fire disappear from her husband's eyes. The young commander clenched her jaw. She felt like throwing the datapad in her hands clear across the bridge. Composure and professionalism were often a challenge for her when she worked around her husband. As a wife, she wanted nothing more than to be there for him. A his adjutant, she wanted to turn the tables on Praji. She remained behind to collect several more datapads from other officers. As soon as she was able to, Sierra left the bridge and began walking back towards the viewport where she swore she'd find him. A battle was lost.

She approached him quietly. The anger radiated off of him. Sierra found that she'd like nothing more than to strangle Praji, but that was a violent, emotionally charged decision. Also, it was stupid. Sierra was silent at first. Her hand touched his back while she stepped forward to stand beside him. She looked out the viewport. If there was one feature of the Retributor that she liked the best, it was the viewports. Space was a beautiful thing. Even the traffic into Esseles made for a picturesque view. After a solid minute, she found her voice. "You're argument isn't wrong, Claudius. What Arundel did warrants no praise. If you wish to take this up with the Emperor, I will support you. There are facts on our side. We can send someone to Delaya to investigate the damages." Sierra had yet to learn how the game was played here. She wanted to see justice. Her hand fell away from his back. Instead, it landed on top of one of his.

When Sierra touched his back he nearly jumped out of his skin, but did his best to control his squirming in front of the watchful eyes of the bridge crew. "It seems a correct argument isn't enough," he said to her, quietly, so that the others would not hear. He remained still, looking out the viewport, rather than turning to acknowledge her. He could only imagine what the crew thought about their relationship, but he believed her a capable adjutant and he did not want to behave in a way that diminished her in their eyes. "Praji was prepared for this..." he began, almost at a whisper, as he looked around their surroundings apprehensively. "It seems Zara's information that Papius had evidence linking you to the Rebellion was accurate," he continued, again in a hushed tone, while continuing to look around nervously. "We have to find out what's in that file before we challenge them again," he concluded, moving her further away from the crew pits until they were in the forward corner of the viewport.

She was all too aware of what everyone else thought about their relationship. There were whispers in the corridors when the crew thought neither of them were around. Sierra was unmoved. She didn't think she deserved the position she had been thrown into, but that didn't mean that she didn't work hard and do a good job. Frankly...she cared not what they thought of her. Her eyes remained on the viewport. The Empire had done a number on them lately. If it was possible, she thought she might like to scoop up her family and hide them away. Her voice was quiet so only he would hear. "He was. He was holding that smoking gun since the beginning of your meeting." Her eyes flickered over to him. They relocated further from the crew. Sierra shared the feeling of paranoia with her husband. She eyed the working bridge crew. "No one is going to hand that information over. Since we have access to a slicer, we might as well use her." She suggested the use of her sister-in-law. If Praji and Papius could play dirty, then so could they. "I'd like to see what they have. It has to be minimal. If they looked at my life under a microscope, they wouldn't find an instance where I've helped the Rebels." She was confident about that. Her close friendship with Jelena was the closest she had ever been to a Rebel. Sierra let out an audible growl. She was angry that Praji had stopped Claudius because of her. "I won't be angry with you if you pursue the Emperor even with Praji ready to go after me. There isn't evidence to back his claim."

"The slicer that you speak of is *more* than eight months pregnant. We can't involve them. They've done enough," Claudius said, as he brought his hand over his mouth while speaking to her so that the ISB could not read his lips on the recording devices that were *everywhere*. "We have to find another way of discovering what they have on you. *We* know it's not true, but there are many in the Empire who would grasp at anything to bring us down..." he said, as he looked over at the loyalty officer who was monitoring the crew. "We should be glad that Praji is the one with the information ... another officer might have already turned the information over," he said, as he brought his hands together in front of them, and began fumbling with his fingers against one another nervously. "I would never do anything to endanger you or our child, Sierra," he said to her, as he nodded his head, as if giving orders.

Sierra thought over the possibilities. There wasn't anyone who was going to simply help them ... and so, they'd have to help themselves. Her head bent down while she considered the options. Her small hands had both curled into fists. She was angry. That anger wasn't doing anything except boiling inside of her. Following her husband's lead, she discretely moved her hand over her mouth. What she was about to say needed to stay only known to her husband. "Praji is only delaying what's going to happen anyway. Papius will do whatever he can to see to it that our family is suffering. He'll find the right routes to get his way." She sighed. "I know. It's bothersome to me that people are using me to play you. I don't like to be a hindrance." Bruce, too, could easily be used as a weapon once he arrived. "I have an idea. You're not going to like it." Sierra revealed reluctantly. "There's one person on this ship who, without a doubt, has Papius' dirt on me." Arden Zevrin. The damn witch who plagued their lives. "If I break into *her* office, we'll have what we need."

Sierra was correct ... Claudius did not like it. "Are you mad?!" he asked her, perhaps too loudly, as a couple of junior officers briefly looked up at them. Realizing how foolish he had been with his outburst, he quickly raised his hand to her shoulder and turned her so that he would be facing the viewport. He rose up and down slightly, expanding nervous energy, as he tried to come to terms with what she was suggestion. "If you were caught breaking into encrypted ISB datafiles that would be exactly the evidence they'd need to take you from me," he said, quietly, through grit teeth. It was not just her life she was responsible for anymore. She had their son to consider.

"I'm only mad with those who would stoop low enough to do this to us." His anger had shifted to nervousness. She picked up on it and immediately began to feel doubt in her suggestion. She wasn't even sure if she could pull off what she was saying. If the information wasn't there, or if she was caught, then she would die. Her eyes sunk down to the ground. The next time she blinked, she felt the pain of being underneath the Cathar all over again. It felt like her internal organs were going to explode from the added pressure. The next time she looked at the viewport, she felt like crying in frustration. Their son mattered to her so much. She loved the what was the best route to protect him? If Arden managed to catch her then Claudius would have to suffer through her trial and execution. He'd lose his wife *and* his son, then likely his daughters and his own life. "I... I don't know what to do. If we stand back and make no move, will this come back to haunt us further down the line? I can't even swear to you that I can succeed in breaking into *her* office, let alone getting the proper information. It's one of those rare times in our lives where I feel more like a burden than anything else." Her blue eyes fell again. She couldn't do it.

"When unsure of what to do ... do *nothing*," Claudius quietly stressed to her, as he was unsure of their footing at present. He felt as if he was on unsteady ground and one misstep would cost him everything he had worked so hard for. "Creatures like Papius Arundel reach too far and fall. If my experience has told me anything, it is that," he said to her, as he nodded his head grimly once again. He was resigned to the situation they were in, believing there was nothing either of them could do for the time being. With that, he gave her a final nod before walking back down the walkway to speak to some of the junior officers. The business of administering the Oversector had gone on far too long without him, and he had to at least attempt to find out what was going on around him. He believe that he had dissuaded his wife from doing any foolish, but he had yet to realize her own determination and the lengths she would go to protect her family.

Sierra remained at the viewport by herself. Negative feelings nipped at her ankles. The way she saw it, this was all her fault. She had become a weapon against Claudius since the first day *she* decided to step into his office. She could have faced an honorable death at the hands of Arden Zevrin. In her mind, she was still proving herself to Claudius and desperately trying to separate herself from the tool that Arden had made her into. Looking out over the traffic, Sierra Rodney decided that the answer had become much more clear. She needed to break into Arden's office to determine what was going on. Wordlessly, she left the bridge and quickly moved into their office. Behind the mountain of datapads that crowded her desk, Sierra began to plan and scheme. She closed her eyes and inclined backwards in her chair. Her hands connected with her face. With a false sense of privacy, she began to cry. She didn't want to die. She didn't want her son to die, or any other members of her new family.

The door to Grand Moff Rodney's office opened suddenly revealing the presence of the Retributor's tactical officer ... the blue skinned, red eyed Chiss, Meham'ohorovi'cloca. She walked swiftly into the room carrying a datapad, her head lowered, not realizing Sierra was in there. As she looked up she noticed Sierra in the chair, crying, and she stopped dead in her tracks. "I-I..." she began, her voice sounding exotic because of her alien upbringing in the Unknown Regions. "I apologize for the intrusion, Commander. Governor Rodney had been gone so long I had taken for granted the office would be unoccupied," she said, lowering her head, with her navy blue hair, and uniform cap slightly. "Here are the latest naval deployments," she said, without making eye contact, as she cleared her throat and placed yet another datapad onto the stack upon the desk. "Do you ... do you need anything, Commander?" she asked, as she backed slowly away from the desk, unsure of what to do in this given situation. Humans and their emotions were quite complicated and difficult for her to understand.

Sierra did not immediately notice she had a guest. She was briefly dealing with a fit of emotions. When she heard the Chiss' voice, she stopped dead. Her cheeks turned red in embarrassment. "Oh, my!" Meham'ohorovi'cloca had been so quiet. She rubbed the tears away from her eyes. "No, I apologize, Lieutenant. Thank you for bringing this over." She plucked the most recent addition from her stack with the intention of reviewing it immediately. The Chiss was kind to her. "Yes," Sierra said, "I need to find out why there's an arrest warrant out for me. Any advice?" She asked the woman, expecting her to say nothing. The stress that had settled itself on Sierra had become hard to carry. She saw no road to regain Delaya. Unless Claudius awoke the next day deciding he didn't love her anymore, she would continuously be used against him.

Meham'ohoroiv'cloca blinked silently as Commander Rodney revealed there was an arrest warrant out for her. "Oh. Uh," she stammered, having been caught quite off guard by this news. "If you submit to a court martial all evidence would be presented against you," she reported, coldly and matter-of-factly. She suspected that was why the woman was crying. "I would require more information. Who has issued such a warrant against you?" she asked, as she arched her eyebrow at the woman. She found it highly unusual that the wife of an Imperial Grand Moff would be subjected to such a charge.

Desperation had prompted her to say too much already. She listened to the options, crossing her legs and leaning back in her seat. "I don't think that's a viable option. I don't want to exploit myself and put myself in a potentially bad situation. I have no idea what kind of evidence they have." Papius Arundel. Sierra thought of the lecherous man who had stripped her, humiliated her, and hurt her family so many times. She looked away from Meham'ohoroiv'cloca briefly. She wanted to go back to Delaya and kill him. "An Imperial Governor named Papius Arundel. This man claims he has evidence that I'm aiding the Rebels. As the wife of a Grand Moff and a member of the ISB...I wouldn't." She seemed to sink into her seat. "This man has been playing a game of cat and mouse with me since he arrived on Delaya. No matter what 'evidence' he has, this is an attempt to trap me under his thumb."

Meham'ohorovi'cloca coolly and calmly listened to Sierra reveal the nature of the charges against her. Her red eyes moved slowly past Sierra and towards the stack of datapads on the Grand Moffs desk. She considered grabbing them all up and running away just in case the Commander *was* a Rebel spy. "Ah. The Imperial Governor of Delaya," she said, with a nod of her head. "His warrant would only be enforceable on Delaya, Commander. Perhaps in that Oversector as well, if his Grand Moff were to endorse the warrant," she reported, very simply, as members of her species were known for. There was no emotion, nor concern in her voice, but merely cold and stubborn facts. "Has Grand Moff Praji endorsed it?" she asked, probing perhaps a bit more than she should. "It is of no concern. As The Emperor has disbanded the courts his Grand Moffs are immune to prosecution and have the power of pardon. As long as you remain in this Oversector, and of course your husband remains its Governor, then you will be perfectly safe," she reported, with a third nod of her head. "It is a serious charge, Commander. If it is proven to be without merit then Governor Arundel could be subject to arrest, but of course Grand Moff Rodney does not have authority or jurisdiction over Governor Arundel. It is a stalemate," she reported, bluntly, with an emphatic nod of her head.

Sierra listened to what Meham'ohorovi'cloca had to say about the matter. This was the first time an arrest warrant had popped up for Sierra. The Chiss soothed her in some ways, but she felt infuriated and sad in others. "Grand Moff Praji is holding it over my husband's head. Under the right circumstances, he would endorse it in a heartbeat." She looked down at her desk once more. Now her whereabouts were limited to within Ringali Shell. If Claudius ever stepped down, then everything could change. " A stalemate..." She repeated. Life had become a stalemate recently. She missed Delaya and resented losing it. It was worse than losing Alderaan. At least Alderaan didn't exist anymore. Delaya could silently taunt her for the rest of her life. They would never be welcomed back. Not after what happened. "Thank you, Lieutenant. There has been much on my mind since we returned from Delaya. This arrest warrant is another burden to my mind." She placed the datapad that had just been brought to her on top of all the others and stood. She quickly began collecting some to take home with her. Until her desk was empty, the division between work and home had become a blur. "Please, let me be the first to know if you ever need anything." Sierra seemed more calm on the outside. The inside was an entirely different story.

"In that case, Commander ... my advice would be to avoid the 'right circumstances', Meham'ohorovi'cloca replied simply, as one might expect. "You are most welcome, Commander," she said, with an obedient nod of her head, believing she had been dismissed. She turned on the heel of her boots and began marching towards the door when she stopped. "Oh," she said, as she reached into her pocket and turned back around. She marched back towards the desk, pulling a medium sized gemstone from her pocket. "A maintenance crew found this wedged in the refresher in the Governor's quarters. I was going to give it to him, but while I'm here let me give it to you," she stated, not sure of what it was doing stuck in the pipe. With another nod of her head she marched out of the office to resume her duties.

Untitled 1

Copyright Era of Rebellion 2005-2018. All Rights Reserved
Terms of Use | Legal Notices | Privacy Policy | Press Release | Disclaimer