Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Christopher Levy and Sarah Riggs-Shute.
Zero years after the Battle of Yavin (35:4:33) in the Essesia system: Warspite.
Liliya Benedt, Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, Inquisitor Serine Thanor, and Major Arden Zevrin.

Claudius Rodney pace nervously in front of the podium that had been constructed for him to give his address to the people of Brentaal. He was quite nervous as it had been nearly two decades since had given an address of any significance and he was worried it would not go over well. The text of the speech was largely the work of Major Nolas Reik, a man who was increasingly moving up the list of officers whom he held in contempt. He cleared his throat as he read the speech one more time, and then walked to the monitor to watch the playback. "Does this make me look too short?" he asked to the ISB technician in the booth, while carefully examining the holographic recreation of Cormond that had been constructed for this rouse. He was not foolish enough to travel to Brentaal during this crisis and therefore had instructed the ISB to develop a holographic Cormond for him to give his address. He had instructed his lovely new aide, Liliya Benedt, to turn away all intruders so that he might rehearse without interruption.

Having Liliya 'stand guard' outside of the room was definitely a new experience for her and a new sight for the crew, usually Major Kiley had this honor and she was far more intimidating than the delicate and petite form of the assistant. But this also gave Liliya a unique advantage as other officers wishing to speak to the Governor would instead be charmed to speak with his aide and then agree to come back at a later established date that she would so promptly enter into her newly created schedule book for Rodney. Organized and charismatic, she was able to deflect quite a lot of demands and heat by being gentle and sweet, eventually winning over and calming many rather nervous individuals, and thus as promised, no one had interrupted Rodney, at least not yet. She was determined to continue to stand her post and take down reservations. The Grand Moff was an important individual, she wondered how he ever got by before without a dedicated assistant to care for his many needs.

The Inquisitor had been very busy herself for the past few days, taking ample care and attention to her new apprentice, Kia Kaen, but she had at least been expected to be contacted by the ... Governor by now. It had been a few days since she handed his new assistant, Liliya Benedt her full report of the dealings Rodney had missed while away on business. Many of these conflicts and confrontations were vastly important for him to be aware of, and Serine was discouraged that he had yet to speak to her about it, for she knew that the man had accessed the information, or at least someone did! Was he ignoring this or did he feel his new title as Grand Moff allowed him to brush aside all of his responsibilities due to no one being able to stand against him. Well Serine was still his advisor and would promptly remind him of his duties, she was not in the least bit intimidated by him, his only change was a few golden squares on his uniform and perhaps a growing new ego that was unsettling. The Inquisitor rounded the hallway and instantly took notice of the Governor's new assistant and she grimaced, already disapproving the moment she first laid eyes on the woman. It was just all very peculiar and Serine didn't trust her, something was just too ... perfect about her and it pissed her off. She strolled right up to the woman extremely close, disregarding any spacial comfort the other may have, purposely trying to unnerve the woman. "Miss Benedt was it?" Surprised she bothered to remember it. "I shall be taking audience with the Governor now." Said sternly and factually, no doubt in her mind that anything less than that would transpire.

Liliya could see the approaching Inquisitor and already knew this was going to be a challenge to keep that woman at bay. Her memory banks full of details on Serine Thanor's past duties and occurrences but she felt confident that the other would not be reckless enough to do anything rash ... she hoped. Liliya tensed up as she found herself almost smothered by the other's presence, for she was unable to take a step back or would be pressed up against the door leading into the room. Keeping to her amiable although slightly timid cover, she softly smiled, trying her best to keep from betraying any sort of clues that the other could use against her. Appearing to look meek and human was rather challenging in such situations. "Inquisitor Thanor, Lord Rodney requested that he be left undisturbed as he prepared for a holovid speech that will be heard by the whole Oversector. He needs time to practice, but I will be more than happy to schedule a time to speak with him." Despite the unspoken pressure, Liliya silently was hopeful that this would be enough to sway the other's demands.

Serine was not the type of person that enjoyed being kept from her duties and she did not take 'no' kindly, especially when she wished to speak to Rodney about vital matters. It did not surprise her that she was also kept in the dark about his speech to the entire sector which should have been reported to her! How disappointing that the new promotion did not seem to change the man's previous ways of neglecting his duties. She was his advisor, and as the embodiment of the Empire's wrath, she should be present during his speech! "Perhaps you have failed to remember my purpose on this vessel. Stand aside now!" She viciously barked the order to the other, her eyes widening dangerously. "If you will not move, I shall move you!" The Inquisitor threatened her with an eerie promise, and it was well known that Serine never gave empty threats, never. Major Kiley couldn't keep her from Rodney and neither would this little insignificant woman in a black party dress no less.

The situation was quickly escalating despite her every attempt to keep things low key. Liliya almost yelped but bit her lip to stifle any sound as Serine shouted at her cruelly and the assistant found herself now pressed up against the doorway, not even realizing she had taken a desperate retreat backwards. The datapad Liliya had been holding gently in her hands was now clung to her chest as she gripped it tightly in her arms while she stared wide-eyed in fret towards the Inquisitor, almost like a terrified animal caught in the bright high beams of a vehicle. She was not programmed with the correct response for this situation and feared the worse. "I-Inquisitor ... please ... the door is locked." Stammering and softly pleading, but it was a lie.

Major Arden Zevrin had been watching the display from around the corner for quite some time, but the amusement had worn off and now it was her time to strike. "Come now, Inquisitor," she began in a teasing manner, as she strode down the corridor in a manner similar to Serine's Nexu. "She is new here and we must have manners in front of newcomers," she said, as she turned her attention to Liliya. She placed her gloved right hand upon her lips and then flicked it towards Liliya as she made a *smooch* noise with her lips. "Miss Benedt, If you check your records you will see that I am scheduled to meet with the Grand Moff to finalize his approval of the Cormond cityscape," she said with a polite nod of her head. She was speaking the truth, as the ISB was the agency who had drafted his speech and provided the resources to convince the locals that Rodney was indeed delivering his speech from the surface of Brentaal IV.

Serine could not believe the insolence here, how dare she be denied to see the Governor, it was her every right to see him whenever she wished, that was her duty given to her directly by the Grand Vizier himself, and this woman had the audacity to stand in her way? The annoyance and anger that had been clearly visible on her facial expression now twisted it into a terrifying visage of unhindered fury. A mere locked door would not be able to hold her for long, with every intention of grabbing Liliya by the throat and tossing her to the side before ripping the door from its hinges, she prepared to initiate by extending her hand towards the other but quickly halted as the unmistakable voice of Major Zevrin promptly interrupted. Eyes snapped to the other woman with a severe scorn. "'You' have an appointment with the Governor?" Said with a bitter and condescending tone to her voice, almost entirely forgetting that she was about to quite possibly severely harm Rodney's new aide, her anger now directed towards the other that was now also denying her access, but in another fashion. There was no way she was going to allow that woman to see Claudius before she could.

Liliya could only watch with a deep sense of dread as the Inquisitor reached for her as her instinctual human programming kicked in that caused her to bring a trembling datapad in front of her face, as if shielding her from the inevitable. She tightly closed her eyes, bracing for the worse but it never came and instead, another voice sliced into the heavy atmosphere. Visibly shaken up, Liliya lowered the datapad from her face, trying to keep herself from quivering, looking very relieved at the distraction. Her eyes looked to the Major with an overwhelming but silent 'thank you' gleaming within them for the save. Trying to regain some composer, she checked down at her datapad to see if Major Zevrin's words were true. "Yes, yes you do actually." With a few beeps, she confirmed it, but now she realized she was in a tight spot. The assistant had lied about the door being locked to try and save her the Inquisitor's wrath. Thinking quickly, she knocked on the door a few times, but then she also remembered the doors was sound proof. Oh ... this was bad.

It was nearly the appointed time for his speech and he wanted to get Liliya's take on it, as she was new to the situation and not one of his Imperial 'yes men.' He placed the datapad with the speech on the podium and slowly walked towards the door, flicking a left hand aimlessly to the control panel to open it. His mouth went ajar and he took a step back, his eyes widening at the sight in front of him. "Inquisitor? Major?" he stammered, as he looked them both over. "Well I can see it's getting quite crowded out here. Why don't you all come in?" he suggested, as he slowly backed into the room to allow them suitable space to maneuver. Little did he know he might have just saved the young Alderaanian diplomat from certain doom.

Major Zevrin brushed aside the Inquisitor so that she could be the first to enter the room. After all, she was the one with the appointment. "Hmm," she said, pausing in front of the Admiral as she made a deliberate look around the room and the corridor. "I wonder where Major Kiley is?" she asked, talking very slow as she scanned the area with her eyes again. "Perhaps she got locked in some place?" she said, flicking her blond hair as she turned to look at the Inquisitor, offering a quick wink. Satisfied that she had delivered her message, she walked past the Grand Moff and headed towards the recording of his practice speech to verify the integrity of the hologram.

Serine was none the wiser that Liliya completely lied to her, and it was extremely fortunate for the woman that the Inquisitor would never know now. She was still regarding Rodney's assistant with contempt, not at all agreeing with the other's apparent meekness, it just seemed ... insincere. Her thoughts were broken up as Zevrin brushed right past her, knocking her shoulder to the side in order to beat her to the room that completely caught the Inquisitor off guard, her mind barely capable of processing the complete insubordination that had just transpired fast enough. "What." She said blatantly, it wasn't a question but a fierce statement as she glared at the Major before quickly following behind her, leaving Liliya to her own devices outside of the room. She willl be sure to have a talk with the Governor's new little play toy later, but now, her attention was fully captured by Rodney and Zevrin's incomprehensible conduct. She had been so preoccupied with the Major's action, she nearly missed that subtle hint that the woman knew more than she should. So that is how Kerrie escaped! This new epiphany sunk in slowly as Serine rolled the details around in her mind, the complexities being peeled back to reveal just what the heart of the matter was. Arden was no doubt hinting at blackmail and subterfuge and with that sudden realization, her gaze ever so slowly turned to fall upon the Major, a darkened intensity swirling in those frigid grey eyes. Her expression was completely indifferent, a military stoic appearance that was unsurpassed, but it was that severe loathing glare that continued to stare at Zevrin even when it was far past the appropriate time to look away.

Major Zevrin stood in front of the control panel, ignoring the Inquisitor's response for the time being as she carefully checked on the matrix. "Everything is in order, Milord," she said sounding quite secure despite the Inquisitor's glare, believing she was safe in front of the Grand Moff. "It is fortuitous you are here, Inquisitor Thanor," Arden began, flashing her a brief smile as she walked towards the Grand Moff. "Milord, here is COMPNOR's recommendations regarding how to 'deal' with the Brentaal Houses now that you have been given direct control over the planet. As you can see, we call for the use of the Inquisitor here to verify the loyalty of each member of the Brentaal Houses to your new regime, Milord," she said, as she handed him a small datapad containing the full text of COMPNOR's directive on the matter. "As you can see, Major Kiley has already signed off on the file," she said, smiling again towards Serine, as she took a step back towards the control panel.

Claudius looked over COMPNOR's directive, growing increasingly frustrated with the 'advice' they would force upon him from time to time, knowing full well he could not dispute it. "Very well," he said, as he handed the datapad casually to Liliya, not wanting to deal with it at the present time. "Inquisitor, I had the opportunity to review your report regarding the activities in the Oversector during my absence," he began, as his attention shifted from the lovely Liliya to the serious Serine. "Congratulations on destroying the Jedi on Esseles," he began, with a firm nod of his head. "...but perhaps the spaceport on Cormond would not have been bombed were you not so preoccupied with your trainee," he felt the need to add as he shook his head his disapprovingly, realizing there were now two of 'them' aboard. "It was unfortunate you had to dispatch Major Kiley to do away with Lord Nam'a'taht, however after reviewing the evidence it seemed there was no choice," he said with a grim sigh, as he prepared to move towards the podium. "As you aware ... I have a speech to give..." he said in a tone of voice that was clear he wished the Inquisitor to move along.

Though she stood at military attention with her hands clasped behind her back professionally, Serine had been glaring intently at Zevrin the entire time she was being addressed. Now it wasn't just blackmail, it was political maneuvering her off of Warspite with Kerrie's assistance! Arden had to have received Kerrie's signature, it was obvious they were both conspiring against her, and in this case, she could not refuse the new orders. The Inquisitor was too far enraged to respond, the Governor would find her uncharacteristically silent through his praises and reprimands alike while she continued to bitterly eye Zevrin. The intensity of the air could have been cut, nearly boiling forth from the Inquisitor like a physical manifestation. It was only until the very end when Claudius suggested she leave did she snap her attention back to him fiercely. "I shall stand behind you as you give your speech as is appropriate, Governor." She demanded abruptly.

The Grand Moff sighed at her, as she was wearing her armor and seemed to be quite the foreboding sight. "Inquisitor, it does not seem appropriate given you are dressed for battle. This is a speech for optimism ... not terror," he said, as he slowly walked behind the podium and cleared his throat once more. He stared ahead blankly at the light that was nearly blinding him and his eyes focused on the red light of the holo-recorder. "There is simply no time for you to change, but you may still stand behind me, Inquisitor ... but remain silent," he ordered, raising his tone of voice to stress the seriousness of how he viewed this. He would not have her spoil his triumph no matter who she thought she was.

Knowing that she had the reluctant approval of Claudius to stand behind him, though she would have anyway, Serine rushed from the room to fetch her Inquisitorius robes. There was time ... there had to be time, she would make time. Normally it would have been impossible to get back before the transmission began, and it looked like she would never make it, but seeming to beat the odds, with the help of the Force, Serine managed to arrive in time and fully adorned in her sleek dark crimson robes, wearing them proudly though an angry flick of her eyes to Zevrin's position was still afforded before strolling past that detestable woman and standing at her rightful place behind the Governor. "There was ample time, Governor." Making it a point to prove him wrong.

Major Zevrin stood in front of them, next to the holo-recorder and prepared for the moment, hoping the Grand Moff would be able to pull it off successfully. She had served the man from his highs, to his lows, and she was skeptical that he was capable of this new assignment. However, she would never voice these complaints as he could now have her vaporized in the wink of an eye. And, given what she did to his wife and unborn child, it was very possible that he very well might. "Five, four..." she began counting with five fingers held in the air, then it reduced to four and she stopped speaking. Three fingers were now held, quickly reduced to two, and then one, and finally, none as the holo-emitter clicked on and billions of Brentaalans watched in nervous anticipation.

Grand Moff Claudius Rodney stared ahead at the holo-recorder wide eyed for a moment before beginning. "My dear citizens of Brentaal IV. The Imperial Senate has been disbanded ... sweeping away the last vestige of the Old Republic, which almost slipped into chaos," he began, speaking in a strong, deliberate voice to give his words added weight and meaning. "Unfortunately, too many poor systems and treasonous wretches used the Senate to fester a Rebellion, which now infects this good system," he continued, reading the words that were carefully constructed by Major Reik and approved by the highest echelons of COMPNOR. "Now, with the powers granted to me as Regional Governor, and with the moral capital of Alderaan ... we can use the entire galaxy of resources that is the Galactic Empire to solve this security issue and ensure peace and prosperity. Together we will crush these terrorists, who murder children in their quest for greedy chaos, no different than the Separatists 20 years ago," he continued, showing hints of emotion as he mentioned his home system of Alderaan, it's recent destruction still weighing heavily upon his thoughts. "To crush this Rebellion, Brentaalans will rise up against these atrocities and say 'No! We will not slip back into the corrupt days of that old failed Republic. We will continue the march towards peace, order, and prosperity.' Join our new Ringali Shell Security Force ... lend the support to your community ... and together we will crush this Rebellion of cowards and murders ... for Alderaan and for the dead of the Cormond space port ... for order and civilization," he continued as he outlined their new strategy to enlist locals in the security matters that had been plaguing Brentaal. He knew that by placing the locals in the line of fire of the Rebel Alliance that he might boost the support of the locals should they take casualties. He would make martyrs out of these brave security agents ... martyrs who might very well turn the tide of public opinion. "We will root them out of their hiding places ... allow them no safe refuge ... and make them answer to the system of justice for their atrocities," he concluded with a firm nod of his head, as the holonet deactivated. Once it was done, he staggered backward awkward and let out a relieved sigh, as he gripped the podium for support. "Well ... how was it?" he asked the two women gathered in the room.

Serine did as she was ordered, she stood at attention and stayed silent throughout the speech, looking rather ominous however, but it was a sign of strength. The purpose was to look empowered and ready to lash out at these rebel terrorists. She was actually rather impressed with the Governor's performance, finding it rather inspiring and no doubt would millions of others. She was known for her brutal honesty when asked, but it may come to a surprise to the others of her positive response. "I found it compelling, I believe others will as well, Governor." She answered truthfully, pleased that she was a part of this speech, it made the Empire look proactive. For once not being ashamed to be a part of something Rodney was doing.

Major Zevrin clapped her two gloved hands together slowly as she emerged from the shadows and moved towards the man and the Inquisitor. "Very well done, Milord," she said with a genuine smile, as she moved dangerously closed to him. "A congratulations is in order. I feel as if we have won the war already," she said, as she lifted up onto her tiptoes and placed a soft kiss upon the Grand Moff's left cheek. He had earned it, she thought, as she pulled away and winked to Inquisitor Thanor. The game was afoot.

Well, that was certainly unexpected, he thought as he brought his left hand up to his face to wipe away any remnants of the kiss. He was proud in his performance, and he was confident that it had went over well. There was a time when he had given speeches before thousands of Senators and delegates and he was confident in his speech making abilities even if he was slightly rusty and unpracticed. He felt the Empire was well on the way to striking back in the Ringali Shell.

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