Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:7:24) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Imperial garrison and Leiliani: Rodney Castle).
Governor Papius Arundel, El-Nay Darr, Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, Lord Gaius Rodney, Major Sierra Rodney, and Colonel Arden Zevrin.

Major Sierra Rodney stood within her quarters in Rodney Castle. Upon arriving on Delaya, she, Claudius, and El-Nay had settled into the castle to visit family and to prepare for Gaius' trial. Sierra had several datapads laid out on the bed in front of where she sat. In between her hands, she held a fourth one in which she had made notes for herself when presenting her case against Gaius Rodney. The young woman was feeling good. Having formerly planted an ISB device in Gaius' quarters, she had a lot of information against him. He had plotted against the family more than a few times. There was even footage on their confirming that he was responsible for the bombing at Jelena's funeral, as well as Julius' death. "Okay. I think I'm just about ready to go to the garrison." She commented, collecting her belongings from the bed. "I'm sure Governor Arundel wants something from me. Regardless, I'm confident we'll be able to get something from him. This trial is in the bag." She rose to her feet.

Grand Moff Claudius Rodney felt as if he was a stranger in his own home. Instead of wearing his uniform or robes in the Alderaanian fashion. Instead, he was wearing a suit of uncomfortable, modified bounty hunter complete with helmet that was designed to protect his identity so that he could protect her. Instead of acting like a loving husband he had to act like a protective bodyguard and a servant, as he imagined the castle was still full of Imperial cameras despite Marcus and Zara's best efforts. "Yes, milady," he said to her, through a voice modulator, that disguised his voice as well as his face.

El-Nay Darr was out on the balcony giving Claudius and Sierra some level of privacy. Her last two trips to the planet had gone less than stellar, and knowing that she had blasted her fair share of Stormtroopers she was worried there might be some looking for payback. With her helmet off she had been quietly smoking a cigarra, looking out at the distant mountain range and trying to relax. As she inhaled the toxic smoke and then exhaled a plume she tried to prepare herself for what was to come. Supposedly it was just going to be a straightforward trial of a criminal who was obviously guilty, but she had come to expect the unexpected when it came to Governor Arundel and Delaya. She would do her best to be ready for whatever obstacles he put in front of them.

It was hard to act like Claudius was her bodyguard and not her husband. Though she knew it was him hiding beneath the armor, the voice modulator made it seem otherwise. It was convincing...and convincing was exactly what they needed. Her eyes lingered on him far too long before she called out to El-Nay. "We're leaving now." She wondered if El-Nay would finally get to shove a rocket up Governor Arundel's rear end. One could only hope. Prepared for what was made to be a long day, Sierra departed from her quarters and began making her way down the spiral staircase. She wanted to rush through the trial to reach Gaius' execution. Once she had made it into the hallway, things began to get strange. Servants who were working for Marcus and Zara stopped what they were doing to stare at Sierra. At first, she assumed it was in her head. After the fifth person who she caught staring at her, Sierra turned her head towards Claudius. "Is there something on my face?" She asked him nervously. Her eyes ran down the length of her crisp, white uniform. Her trousers were in place on her hips, so she hadn't forgotten them either.

As she passed through the open door to a room, she heard something she hadn't heard in a very long time. "...You were supposed to be a boy! Because if you, our family is *doomed*!" The voice was followed by a pathetic whimper. Suddenly, Sierra stopped walking. The door in the back of her mind, which remained closed, opened wide. The darkness from her past swept over her. In a blink of her eyes, she was back in Alderaan and ten years younger than she currently was. The lick of the jagged whip burned up and down her spine. "Stop!" She cried out in the hallway. The sound of a whip cracking could be heard again, but this time it was from the room with the open door, not her head. In a panic, Sierra broke away from both of her body guards to determine if she was having a hallucination or not. She spotted a servant holding a datapad. The woman was smirking. On her datapad, she was watching a holovid of Sierra...young Sierra. Rikka's voice could be heard in the recording. She had recorded it. She had recorded the physical and mental abuse that was Sierra's childhood. Sierra couldn't seem to mentally process it all. She felt weak. She felt like running away. She wanted to smash the datapad to pieces.

Claudius was walking through the halls of a castle he had lived in for more than five decades, but they somehow felt unfamiliar. They did not get very far when Sierra was stopped by the sound of the holos from her past. He wanted to be there for her. He wanted to reach out for her. But he knew if he made a move like that he would likely give away his identity, or give the impression Sierra was having an affair. He could not risk either of that. Beneath his helmet tears were running down his cheeks as he watched his wife, his hand shaking with a desire to aid her. He loved and seeing her like this was torture, but not being able to do anything was something worse. Something much worse.

El-Nay did not know all of the dynamics at play here, only that there was bad blood between Sierra and her mother. She was not nearly as subtle as Sierra and Claudius, as evident by her Nite Owl armor painted in a shade of gaudy orange. Not using any restrained she reached out with her hand and snatched the datapad from the servant, and immediately threw it to the ground. The datapad impacted on the ancient marble floor, shattering into a thousand pieces that flew down the corridor. "Come, milady. Pay this no mind," she said, as she attempted to lead Sierra away from the servant to where the speeder was waiting.

Tears began to fill her eyes. Sierra had yet to understand the full extent of the damage Rikka had caused. She wasn't ready to process the reason why everyone was staring. Bending her head down, she hid her face behind her hands. She wanted nothing more than for the holovid to stop and for her and Claudius to have the privacy for her to crumble. Sierra could imagine how hard it was for him to see her hurting badly with his hands tied behind his back. The Major tried to be strong. She didn't rejoin the world until El-Nay smashed the datapad and stopped the noise from getting into her head. Shaking, Sierra allowed herself to be led away by El-Nay. "I... I don't understand. How was she watching that? How does anyone have that?" She understood far too well. The looks persisted all the way through the castle. There were several dozen hounding reporters awaiting for any member of the House of Rodney to question about the videos that had surfaced. Together, the trio moved into the speeder while ignoring the incessant questions. Sierra sat in the back with Claudius, while El-Nay would drive them to the garrison. There were still tears running down her cheeks. Pain settled into her chest as well as humiliation and embarrassment. All around the galaxy, strangers witnessed the worst moments of her childhood. Her hand crept over into Claudius', quickly lacing her fingers with his. Now she was *really* glad he had come. "Soon we can go back home." She whispered.

Claudius had no idea what was happening, but as much as it frustrated him there was no way he could intervene without endangering them both. He was quick to get into the speeder with Sierra, content to let El-Nay focus on the driving, which he never thought he would endorse. Once the speeder was moving and they were on their way down the mountain road towards Leiliani and the garrison he moved to remove his helmet. "I'm sorry," he said to Sierra, as he moved to embrace her. "If you want we can go back to Esseles now. The evidence against Gaius is overwhelming. I'm sure he'll face justice," he told her, as he did everything he could to attempt to calm her nerves and comfort her. In the back of his mind he was wondering whether this latest holonet scandal was in anyway connected to this trip to Delaya. The past years had told him not to believe in coincidences.

Sierra's arms wrapped around him. The hard armor felt strange against her uniformed body. The embrace gave her a moment to begin collecting herself and stop crying. Chances were, if the servants of the castle had seen the video, then Governor Arundel had seen it as well. Sierra didn't want to give him the satisfaction of seeing her with red eyes from her tears. She sucked in a deep breath. "I don't trust Governor Arundel to serve justice. He hates our family. Unless I'm there, I fear Gaius will slip through my fingers and be lost forever." She admitted to Claudius. Internally, she wanted to go home more than anything else. Her eyes closed when she felt them grow hot again. "I can't believe Rikka recorded what she did to me. Who does that? I'm sorry you married into such an insane family." Sierra sighed. She did not loosen her grip, despite the fact that she could see the Imperial garrison looming over the broken city of Leiliani. Her stomach twisted into a tight knot. "I can't let this derail me from the real reason why I came here."

"Very well, my love. I will stand by you through this," Claudius assured her, before briefly turning his attention towards El-Nay in the front of the speeder. "On to the garrison," he ordered, in a loud, commanding voice, before becoming more gentle in his speech to his wife. As the speeder moves down the mountains he could see that vision was improved through the atmospheric processors installed by the Ithorians. "Your mother is a cruel witch. I am sorry that she did this to you, even more sorry that it's become a topic of public discussion," he told her, as he did his best to awkwardly cradle her against his rough armor. As they neared the garrison he knew that the helmet would soon find its way back on his head, so he took the opportunity to lean forward now and place a tender, loving kiss upon her lips.

The ride to the garrison provided Sierra with exactly what she needed: Claudius' support. She had been rocked to the core by the disturbing events unfolding around her. There was nothing she could do to stop people from watching her childhood trauma. All she could do was accept it, and realize that *no one* would stare at her once they were back aboard the Retributor for fear of her husband. She remained close to him. Armor or not, the closeness helped. "We will figure out how to deal with that once Gaius is dead. I'm so glad you're here." Her chin lifted to meet him halfway. The loving kiss did wonders for her. Despite all that Rikka had done to her, she had turned out to be a good person. She knew it to be true because of her husband and their wonderful family. When the kiss broke, Sierra smiled. "I love you so much. You can always find a way to make me feel better." She snagged one final, quick kiss before they were too close to the garrison for him to stay revealed. She handed him his helmet. "I am not looking forward to seeing Governor Arundel." She grumbled. He was one of her least favorite people ever. The speeder had begun to slow down. Unfortunately, they had arrived.

Governor Papius Arundel had hardly been able to contain his enthusiasm as he waited for the speeder containing Sierra Rodney to arrive. Flanked by an impressive array of Imperial Stormtroopers, he moved towards the speeder as it arrived. Acting like a complete gentleman he outstretched his arm, first to open the door, and next to help Sierra out of the speeder. "It is a pleasure to see you again, Milady," he said to her, with a smile that was so obviously insincere. "You honor us with your presence. I am confident that your presence here will make the trial of Gaius Rodney much more interesting," he said, as he looked past her towards the pair of mercenaries. One he recognized almost instantly, but the other he had seen before. "Ah. I see you brought your Mandalorian protector. I'm pleased to see she was able to fit this into her busy schedule of wanton destruction of Imperial property," he said, looking past Sierra to glare at the woman in the orange armor. He was tempted to have her detained and brought up on charges for her attack at the castle that left so many Stormtroopers dead, but that would have interfered with all of the plans they had for the day.

Sierra could see Governor Arundel already. Discomfort swept over her and threatened to bring back the tears of her exploitation. She gave Claudius a final look of affection before allowing herself to settle into her role. She gathered her datapads from the speeder, gracefully stepping out as Papius himself opened the door and ‘helped' her. "It is good to see you in better health, Governor Arundel. It is unfortunate what happened the last time we had the opportunity to speak. I come with a pile of evidence against Gaius Rodney. I believe this trial will be short." She said. Sierra forced herself not to look back at either of her body guards. She couldn't expose Claudius, or give Papius a reason to think that he had come with her. She sighed. "El-Nay has proven to be an excellent protector. She fought an Inquisitor to keep me safe." She clutched her datapads to her chest. Forcing a confident face, she moved forward towards the interior of the garrison. "Were you able to locate Gaius' daughter? She also had a hand in the Duke's death and every assassination attempt."

"Ah. Yes. The thranta. You can rest assured that will never happen again. Your family in the castle are safe. My flametroopers have seen to that," Papius replied, with a condescending grin and a shake of his head. "Fought an Inquisitor? Oh, how brave," he said as he briefly looked at El-Nay and rolled his eyes. "Gaius' daughter? Unfortunately not," he informed her, as his attention focused on the male mercenary with her. "And this one is equally excellent?" he asked, as he adjusted his face while studying the man. "Oh the trial. Yes. I am sorry. All of these pleasantries. You're here for business!" he said, as he offered her the support of her arm as he led her through the corridors of the garrison to where a courtroom had been constructed for the trial. The room was thus far empty, but that would soon change.

Papius had ordered the murder of thrantas?! Sierra bit on her tongue to stop herself from saying something she might regret. She said nothing at all regarding the thrantas. It was another crime to add to Papius' long list. The second hit came when he confirmed that they had not found the daughter yet. She nodded her head. "Maybe you'll still acquire her." She commented, looking behind her shoulder at her husband. "Mhm. His name is Davenrue Lithal. He has served me well previously." She looked ahead, uncomfortable, *barely* grasping Papius' arm. She hoped that buttering him up might inspire him to transfer Gaius to her husband so he could play a part in Gaius' death. When they entered into the courtroom, Sierra let go and moved to the closest table to set down her datapads. "I love what you've done with the place." She said dryly, collecting a single datapad. "When I became suspicious of Gaius, I planted a device in his room. I have everything I need to ensure that he will never lay a hand on my family again." She told Papius, raising her head high like a powerful thranta.

"Served you well, eh?" Papius teased, as he looked over the mercenary. "Yes. Normally we simply execute individuals without trial. We actually had to refer to some old Republic references on what a courtroom should look like," he said, as he watched her situate herself at the table. When he sensed she was ready he turned his attention to the recording device and firmly nodded his head. With that, he moved to another table, across from her and sat down. He had secured himself a front row seat for what was about to transpire. The only thing missing was a snack.

A side door opened revealing Lord Gaius Rodney, flanked by two Imperial Stormtroopers. He was dressed well enough, but his hands were in stuncuffs and hanging weakly in front of him. As he saw his cousin's wife, Sierra, he could not help but throw an angry glare. If Farrah had managed to kill her this might have all gone differently. He might have been Duke now, but all he was now was a weakling forced into Imperial service. Fortunately, the torment of his cousin's family was something he would enjoy. As he was led into the center of the room he was put on full display where everyone could easily view him. He raised his hands, still in the cuffs, and waved his fingers at Sierra. He had to be polite. She was, after all, *family*.

There was one element missing from the courtroom ... the judge. "All rise," said the Stormtrooper, as another door opened. There was a movement in the shadows and suddenly the view of Colonel Arden Zevrin appeared. She was dressed in her crisp white tunic with sharply contrasting black pants. The one element that was new was the addition of a flowing white cape she had added for the seriousness of the occasion. She stood for a moment in silence at the table at the head of the room, almost seeming as if she was going to take this serious. But after a moment a smile curled upon her face and she could not help but laugh. "Sorry. Sorry," she said, as she brought her hand to cover her face. She moved towards Sierra swiftly, offering her hand to the woman's shoulder. "Congratulations on the birth of your son. I was sorry I couldn't be there in person, but I'm sure I'll see her soon," she said, menacingly, as her eyes narrowed upon Sierra's before slowly falling down upon her stomach. "I'll try not to miss the next one," she said, before licking her lips, and proceeding back towards her table.

Sierra blushed wildly. She wished she could take off Claudius' helmet and throw it at Papius. As she sat, she looked to El-Nay, and then Claudius. A little smile appeared on her face. The family had gone far too long without Gaius receiving punishment for his actions. When he entered, Sierra felt animosity for the man. Her blood pressure rose, as did the temperature of her body. Gaius had been responsible for so much. He'd nearly killed the whole family at Jelena's funeral. The list of his offenses seemed never ending. By arresting the drunk at Marcus and Zara's ball, she had stopped the suffering of her family. Now it would end forever. She glared at him with her angry blue eyes. It seemed as if he had been hanging around Governor Arundel far too much, because he was starting to act like the pompous man.

The young ISB Major rose to her feet, staring at the place where the judge would appear. Just when Sierra began to beam with confidence, her bubble burst. Her jaw hit the ground in front of her. "Zevrin!?" The urge to reach for Claudius had never been greater. Sierra realized, right then, that she had landed herself in hot water. For Arden Zevrin and Papius Arundel to be working together, they had to have planned something good. "Colonel." Sierra sneered at the woman who prowled right up to her. The laugh was so evil that it should have been her signature, unique to only her. "Maybe you will... Or maybe you won't." She said, in reference to Arden ever seeing Bruce. Sierra had been thrown for a loop by everything happening, but she still decided to move forward with the trial. She took a moment to let out a sigh, grasping her datapad and flicking her finger across it until she found the video of Gaius and his daughter discussing Julius' murder. She approached the table only once Arden was seated. "I would like to move forward with this trial. It has been some time since Duke Julius was murdered. It is time for my family to receive closure." Sierra was doing her best to maintain composure and not think about what was going to come next. She extended the datapad to Arden. "This video shows Gaius and his daughter gloating over their success. I have many, *many* videos of them plotting to kill my husband as well as myself."

When Claudius looked upon Arden Zevrin he rose quickly from his seat, but before he made a mistake that could reveal his identity he paused, collected himself, and sat back down. He watched from beneath the helmet as Arden touched his wife, spoke about his son, and even his unborn child. He was furious, clenching his jaw and grinding his teeth beneath the helmet. His hands curled into fists, which he quickly brought beneath the table to conceal his anger. He was furious, but he did not want to be stupid and do anything that might endanger his wife, himself, or jeopardize the outcome of the trial. Beneath his helmet he was breathing hard, almost panting, as a layer of sweat formed upon his brow and began to run down over his face and stung his eyes. His cheeks were flushed red and he was beginning to feel lightheaded.

"Indeed it does, Major. Indeed it does," Arden said, as she settled back into her chair in front of her table. She looked from Sierra to Gaius and yawned, bringing her hand up to her face to stifle it. "Guilty!" she declared, before looking around for something to bang on the table. "Well that was certainly quick," she declared, as she started to get up from her chair. But as she got halfway up she stopped suddenly before sitting back down. "Oh. Oh. Oh!" she exclaimed, as she shook her head, and brought her gloved hand up to her straightened blonde locks. "I have a video too. I had almost forgotten," she said, before she turned towards the large monitor and pressed play. The recording that played revealed the late Julius and Livia Rodney along with General Carlist Rieekan of the Rebel Alliance and Jelena Rodney. Arden gasped loudly, in overly dramatic fashion. "What's this?" she asked, as she rose from the desk and moved back to sit next to Sierra to watch it with her. "Wish we had some Auntie Mae's," she whispered to Sierra, as they watched the video. "Looks like the late Duke and Duchess were supporting the Rebellion and harboring an Imperial fugitive!" she said, before nudging Sierra with her elbow.

It was becoming harder to ignore the presence of Claudius. She had witnessed Arden's fall at his hands. Now she was clawing her way back into their lives with little she could do about it. She felt his anger riding alongside with her own. There was absolutely nothing either one of them could do. It came as a fast relief that Arden proclaimed that Gaius was guilty. If the Colonel had forced her to go through her whole case, Sierra wouldn't have won. The day had quickly become emotionally taxing. She found herself leaving her datapad and retreating back to her table to seat herself close to her husband. Her fingers pushed back the loose strands of her hair that had fallen from its up do. This was nearly over, she told herself.

Sierra was wrong. The circus was only beginning.

"Quick indeed. We've all got better things to do than listen to me rattle off what we already know to be the truth." Sierra said, placing her other three datapads on top of one another. "I'd also request that Gaius Rodney be handed over to Grand Moff Rodney. This is an affair of our family." She said, preparing to leave the courtroom when Arden declared that she had her own video. Sierra sank in her seat. She had a *really* bad feeling growing in her stomach. Arden was an exhibitionist. She had a lot of dirt on her, on her husband, and on her whole family as she would soon find out. Her head turned, watching the video on the monitor. There was a pang of pain in her chest when she saw Livia, Julius, and Jelena. A harder pang followed when she realized who was also standing beside them. The Rebel General Carlist Rieekan. She had not been aware that Livia and Julius were conspiring with the Rebels. This all came as new news. "What?! Where did you find this?" She asked. She wondered if this was news to Claudius as well. Livia and Julius were dead, so they could not be trialed. Sierra didn't see where Arden was going with her little presentation.

Claudius watched in horror as the recording unfolded on the display. There was Jelena, fresh from her defection taking refuge with his parents. So it was his parents who connected her to the Rebel Alliance. *Never* in his life had he felt such a sense of betrayal. His head sunk, and beneath the privacy of his helmet he broke. The parents he never felt close to in life had now been demonized in death. Suddenly nothing else mattered other than the fact that the reason he lost his daughter to the Rebel scum was his parents ignoble intentions. He needed to excuse himself, but nothing would cause him to leave his wife's presence. Particularly with Arden now right there beside her. He had to convince himself that he was not Claudius Rodney right now, but the simple hired bodyguard in Sierra's presence.

"I have my ways, my dear," Arden said, before reaching across to pat Sierra on the thigh twice. Once done, she rose from her feet and beckoned the Stormtroopers come forth. "Gaius Rodney, you, and your precious daughter, have been tried before the Imperial Governor of Delaya and been found *guilty* of the assassination of Duke Julius Rodney of Delaya," she said, as she circled him like a predator. "The penalty for this action ... your immediate release and the thanks of your Emperor for removing a traitor from the position of planetary leader," she said, with a firm nod of his head, as the Stormtroopers moved to release Gaius from his stuncuffs. "This court is adjourned. Governor, Major," she said, as she looked from Papius to Sierra, before nodding her head and moving from the room.

The sooner they all left Delaya, the better. The video which Arden showed them held the shocking truth. She wanted to race to New Alderaan and question Jelena about what she had just seen. Was it really Livia and Julius who turned her away from the Empire...and her father? She couldn't stop herself from turning her head to look at Claudius. Everything about the way she held her body said she was sorry. Her eyes diverted back down to Arden's hand as she patted her thigh. The woman had trumped her again. As Judge Zevrin delivered her final verdict and released Gaius, Sierra swiftly stood up and moved across the room. "No!" She objected while realizing she could no longer argue using Julius. "Gaius Rodney attempted assassination on a Grand Moff. He does not get to go free for what he has done!" She slammed her fist down on the surface of Arden's desk. "He poisoned Grand Moff Rodney. He is responsible for murdering the Emperor's Advisor."

Arden was nearly gone when she heard Sierra's protests, which made her stop in her tracks and turn back towards Sierra. "Gaius Rodney did no such thing," she said, as she moved back towards Sierra and shook her head. "Your husband poisoned himself. Gorging himself on his sick father's food," she said, before laughing at the absurdity of it all. "As for what happened to the Emperor's Advisor ... well, 'twas unfortunate, but it did open the door to the Imperial occupation of Delaya so we'll let that one go," she explained, as she moved her face in front of Sierra until it was only centimeters apart. "The Grand Moff is the father of a traitor. And now it has been revealed he is the son of a traitor also," she explained, as a sinister smirk curled onto her wicked lips. "Perhaps he bares closer inspection. Or perhaps it does skip a generation and we need to investigate his daughter ... or your son," she said, before arching her left eyebrow to see how Sierra would react.

The anger consumed Sierra. Her cheeks were red. She wanted nothing more than to grab Arden by her throat and end her. Her hands, which clutched the desk in front of her to stop her from doing such a thing in front of Governor Arundel. Arden spread the salt in her wounds over and over again. It showed that Sierra was leaps and bounds away from the person she was when Arden sent her after Claudius that she didn't step down with the woman in her face. Her eyes narrowed. "You're an evil witch." Her body was trembling from how furious she was. "You will leave my husband and my family out of this. They have *nothing* to do with the Rebellion." She didn't want an investigation because she couldn't be assured that they would find nothing. If Arden found out that Sierra had visited New Alderaan as many times as she had, there would be problems. The kind of problems that resulted in her whole family facing execution.

Arden stood there as she relished in getting under Sierra's skin. When she was finished she raised right hand and daintily flicked her fingers at her in slow succession. "Run along now. Back to Esseles," she said, before smacking her lips together to make a kissing sound. She turned on her heels and began to walk away. "My best to your husband. Tell him I'll be seeing him soon," she said, as she sauntered out of the room to revel in the spectacle of what went on here this day. It had been a fine day's work.

Before her eyes, all of Sierra's plans had been destroyed. She stood, feeling as if Arden had used a melon baller to scoop out her innards. Her hands pressed into the desk for support. "But... But..." Arden Zevrin had crept back into the life that Sierra and Claudius had built. Soon, she would inevitably meet Bruce. Picking up the pieces of her broken body, she turned back to El-Nay and Claudius. "Let's go." She walked between them slowly as they made their way out of the garrison. The trial of Gaius Rodney had turned into the triumph of Arden Zevrin.

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