Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:4:31) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Leiliani: Alderaan Guard headquarters, Medcenter, and Rodney Castle) and Umbra.
Trooper Kaiya Crion, El-Nay Darr, Farrah Ette, Commander Kerrie Kiley, Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, Lord Gaius Rodney, Lady Livia Rodney, Commander Sierra Rodney, Lady Zara Rodney, Doctor Pilaq Tohan, Captain Thaddeus Updike, and Colonel Arden Zevrin.

The last thing Claudius Rodney wanted was to see his wife put in harm's way. There was no way he was going to allow her to accompany Kerrie on her mission to arrest Gaius and his daughter ... or so he thought. The one way turned out to be an Imperial arrest warrant from Governor Arundel. He reluctantly admitted that Sierra would be safe with Kerrie than here in the castle with him. As he watched her board the speeder with Kerrie and El-Nay his soul ached in a way he never thought possible. The pain of seeing her go eclipsed even the feelings he felt when his first wife died. It was only when the speeder moved out of sight that he allowed himself to break, lowering his head, and shedding a couple of tears. She would be all right, he told himself ... Kerrie would see to that.

From behind a female presence emerged from the castle. She placed her hand upon Claudius' shoulders with empathy and understanding. It was Livia Rodney ... his mother. "It pains me to see you like this, my son," she said, before offering him a glass of Alderaan ruge. "Your father and I did not always drink. We were not born into this world alcoholics," she said, as she circled around him so that she could face her. "The burden of being responsible for an entire planet's wellbeing is a heavy one," she said, as she raised her hand to his chin, and physically lifted his head up. "...but it's a burden your father and I always knew you were capable of," she said, with the loving smile only a mother could give. "You are strong. Stronger than your brother. Strong than even your father. Know that he loved you, and that I love you," she said, before leaning up to place a kiss upon his cheek. With that she silently beat a retreat to allow him his time alone.

El-Nay Darr lifted up her gauntlet which projected a holographic image of the Alderaan Guard headquarters. "This ... this is going to be a tough nut to crack," she said, from beneath her helmet, as she looked over the floor plan of the structure. "Do you think they'll surrender when they see the Stormcommandos?" she asked, sounding equal bits nervous and optimistic. The structure was well defended with thick walls, heavy weapon emplacements, and guards too numerous to count. It represented the centralized security forces of a core world. While she was used to engaging in daring, near suicidal, missions she had to admit that for this mission they would need serious reinforcements. Beneath her helmet she looked at Sierra thinking she was either very brave or very foolish for accompanying on this mission.

"It depends on whether their loyalty is to their Duke or their commander," Commander Kerrie Kiley replied, matter-of-factly. "The issue, unfortunately, is that the Alderaan Guard has no love for the Empire," she said, as she flashed a knowing glance over towards Sierra. "They despise the Empire for the destruction of Alderaan. They would sooner follow an Alderaanian noble such as Gaius than an Imperial Grand Moff," she said, with a frown, as she fully expected that a battle would be necessary. "No. No they won't surrender. They *will* fight," she said, as she began checking the power cell on her E-11 blaster rifle. "I hope that when the dust settles this does not turn public opinion further against your husband, milady," she said, before placing the black helmet of her Stormcommando armor over her head. Even with the helmet on she did not relax her shapeshifting, choosing instead to maintain a human appearance even when no one could see it. She had come to embody the false image of the human female she had appropriated when she escaped Zolan which, despite just being a few years ago, now seemed like another lifetime.

No one had slept that night. Zara's disturbing revelation had changed *everything*. Instead of awaiting Gaius' arrest semi-safely at Castle Rodney, Sierra was going with El-Nay and Kerrie to assist in the arrest of Gaius, to avoid being captured by Governor Arundel. She could only imagine what hell awaited her should he successfully capture her. The worst part was leaving Claudius with no reassurance that she would be coming back. Sadness and pain bred in her chest when she said goodbye to him. Now, within the speeder dressed as a storm commando, Sierra began to cry. Her helmet shielded her eyes from her friends. She kept her head down. She would do whatever was necessary to come back home and help Claudius save Delaya.

Blinking the tears from her eyes, she focused on the blurry holographic image in front of her. She had been to the Alderaan Guard headquarters before. Seeing it before her refreshed her memory. She didn't answer El-Nay's question. No. They would never surrender to the Imperials. Most of the people of Delaya still believed that the Empire was responsible for Alderaan not existing anymore. Sierra and Claudius had never been able to shift the opinion of the public and Papius' presence had helped nothing. The Governor had been so destructive lately. The tension had never been so thick before. Even now, Sierra could see an AT-ST in the distance roaming through a civilian neighborhood. It made her feel sick to her stomach. Everything had gotten out of control. Regaining control was not going to be simple...especially with an arrest warrant out for her.

Swallowing her emotional lump, Sierra forced herself to prepare for what awaited them. She would be useless to her comrades if she ran in with her emotions blinding her. Sierra nodded her head. "You're right, Kerrie. There has been more hate than ever for the Empire here since Papius came. The Alderaan Guard feels that hate. They will take joy in taking up arms against us." Sierra audibly sighed. "Yes, I hope so too. We cannot worry about that right now. One step at a time. We will all be able to sleep better with Gaius and his 'daughter' taken care of." The public could be handled, she told herself. She, too, checked her E-11 blaster rifle. She was happy to be using it over small, limiting blaster pistols. "I planted Jelena Rodney inside the Alderaan Guard headquarters. She had been dressed as a guard, watching the family." Sierra confessed. "We have to make sure nothing happens to her. Claudius has already lost her once, he cannot lose her again." Sierra adjusted her helmet on her head. "If we all manage to survive this... Then we're having one hell of a girl's day out."

The mention of Jelena Rodney caused Kerrie to break her concentration and her face beneath the helmet reverted to her natural Clawdite appearance. Jelena had gotten under her skin in a way no other had ... not even Arden Zevrin. She said nothing beneath her helmet, which was one of the luxuries of wearing one. She had begun to understand why El-Nay felt so much more comfortable with her helmet on, and why she seldom took it off. "We're coming up on the target," she said, ignoring the subject of Jelena, in a not so subtle way. Whatever mental preparation she had done for the mission had just gone by the wayside thanks to the information Sierra had provided. The last thing she needed on an operation as brazen and dangerous as this was a distraction.

The Delta-class DX-9 Stormtrooper transport Umbra emerged from hyperspace in the Alderaan system. In the rear compartment was Captain Thaddeus Updike who had brought with him a company of the Empire's elite storm commandos. He had no idea why they were operating outside of their current area, but when the target flashed as Delaya he knew Commander Kiley was once again playing favorites and meddling in the affairs of the House of Rodney. He did not think it an applicable use of such elite troopers, but he knew if he disobeyed orders *he* would be the one in trouble and not his commander. So he dutifully gathered the company aboard the Umbra and headed to the rendezvous on Delaya with the full intention of reporting her misappropriation of the ShadowWhispers *after* the operation. "Check your gear. We're entering the atmosphere," he said, as he walked down the row of commandos who were strapped in and ready for battle. "This is our opportunity," he said, when he neared Kaiya. "Should the opportunity arise we might be able to rid ourselves of that meddlesome desk jockey," he said, referring to the commander whose previous assignment was as an adjutant. The Umbra began to shake violently as it shot through the atmosphere of Delaya at unsafe speeds and low approach vector to avoid detection. "We'll make quick work of these Alderaanian traitors, men," he shouted to the troopers to motivate them, as the buffeting increased. He readied his own E-11 blaster rifle, before slapping the side of his helmet to ensure all of his MFTAS was functioning properly. "These pacifists are no match for the ShadowWhispers," he said, before extending the stock on his rifle. He was *ready*.

There was much rushing about to deal with the situation on Delaya. Kaiya was happy for a field trip away from Esseles. She was even happier because she thought that she could best Kerrie at long last. She despised the little Clawdite and the hell she caused for *her* Thaddy. She spent the entire trip considering how she would rip the unsuspecting Alderaan Guard limb from limb. She briefly allowed herself to entertain the idea that the Grand Moff's furry little daughter might somehow be there. She drooled. Something about that blue blob of Squib drove Kaiya's instincts wild. She wanted to pounce her with her claws. Her anticipation built tenfold during the trip. There were too many times where she felt like her and Thaddy weren't being properly used. Even she had been bitter after Kerrie sent them to collect every belonging of Luna Ta'em and the monster man who followed her around.

Beneath her helmet, her ears twitched. She recognized Thaddeus by the sound of his boots. Her head rose as he passed by her. She grinned. "I was thinking the same, Thaddy." Her voice was quiet so only he would hear her. His words served to further inspire her. In her mind, the ShadowWhispers presence was overkill. They were about to *slaughter* the Alderaan Guard, which, by no means, was something the cat girl objected to. She lazily checked her rifle even though she didn't rely on it. In preparation for her big moment, she wore no gloves on her paws. She retracted and extended her sharp claws several times. She could feel the commando beside her cringe. The ship had begun its descent to the surface. Soon, Kaiya would be too busy killing to care about Kerrie. That Clawdite's fate was already in trouble for playing with the Rodney family.

Commander Kerrie Kiley watched as the Umbra touched down at the rendezvous point, unaware of the scheming of her subordinates. However, she had elected not to reveal the identity of Sierra to them as she was, technically, an Imperial criminal. As the company of Storm commandos emerged from the transport she seemed pleased by the professionalism and bearing. Suddenly she felt optimistic about the upcoming engagement. "Captain Updike," she ordered, summoning her over towards herself, Sierra, and El-Nay. "The sovereign of this world has submitted to the Empire," she began, going along with the play acting. "The traitor Gaius Rodney, commander of the Alderaan Guard, is responsible for the assassination of His Majesty's advisor. Our orders are simple ... storm the Alderaan Guard headquarters, put down any who oppose us, and arrest the traitor," she said, sounding like much more of an Imperial than either Sierra or El-Nay would have ever previously heard her.

Sierra's heart was pounding. She had never been involved in something as widespread as this. She had been trained in physical defense. She new how to use weapons...but all of this knowledge had been for the sake of presenting herself, not jumping into war. Her thoughts derailed for a second as the Umbra landed. *Claudius*... Her heart ached so hard for him that it felt hard to stand. She forced herself to remain upright and to keep her identity hidden within her helmet. Her heart was in her throat while Kerrie spoke. She noted how different she sounded. It was professional. She sounded like a Commander should. It seemed Sierra had much to learn from the Clawdite.

The cat girl came bounding out of the Umbra during the first wave of Shadowhispers. She inhaled the air of the planet through her helmet. Ahhhhh, the sweet smell of destruction and death lingered in the air. Behind her, her tail was swishing back and forth. For her and Thaddy, this was the turning point. Kerrie's act of stupidness was going to get her in the biggest trouble! She grabbed her E-11 but not to use as a weapon. Instead, she toyed around with it and twirled it in her paws. She cared little for what Kerrie had to say. She noted the familiar orange-armored female, as well as the presence of a commando who smelled.... *funny*. In fact, she smelled familiar. A shocking realization dawned upon her. It was the smell of Claudius Rodney mixed with something else! Kaiya prowled towards her Captain. "Thaddy," she whispered, pointing out the commando that smelled so strange. "I think we got a Rodney fighting with us today. Ooooh. Kerrie's been *very* naughty!"

Thaddeus listened to Commander Kiley's orders, which sounded by the book, as he would have expected from someone he regarded as a skilled administrator and nothing more. He went to the task of dividing the unit into squads that would be tasked with individual targets in the Alderaan Guard headquarters. Ultimately they were left with a unit that included himself, Kaiya, and reluctantly Kerrie and El-Nay, along with the unidentified commando that was present with Kerrie. When Kaiya reported that she smelled a Rodney his anger and frustration only grew, but he was never one to disobey orders. It was simply another card in his hand that he would ultimately play when the time was right. "Move out. You have your targets," he said to the squad leaders, as they began to fan out.

All around the perimeter of the Alderaan Guard headquarters the Storm commandos began their attack, eliminating the woefully inadequate security that was present. The Alderaan Guard was designed to be a policing element with basic diplomatic security ... they were no match for the Alderaan Guard. In the command bunker Gaius Rodney watched in horror as he witnessed the Imperial attack on his unit, wondering who had betrayed him. He quickly moved to the HoloNet transceiver to call for help from the only one who he thought would be of any use. "You have got to do something. Grand Moff Rodney has unleashed his Storm commandos against me. This was never part of the plan!" he said angrily, as he slammed his fist down on the terminal. When he had conspired against his cousins promises were made and assurances were given. None of it involved a unit of Storm commandos beating down his door.

The image of Major Arden Zevrin appeared on the HoloNet looking back at Gaius Rodney with a displeased look on his face. "My dear Gaius you have had over two months to kill an old man and his teenage wife. If you could not succeed at such a simple task then you are of no use to me," she declared, snarling at the Alderaanian lackey who had failed her time after time with nothing to show for it but a dead octogenarian and collateral damage. "I served him up on a silver platter for you. Manipulated events so he would stay under your very nose and you did *nothing*. You have failed. Now pay the price for failure," she declared, before abruptly terminating the HoloNet link.

Before Gaius could argue with her the link had been cut and he began to panic as all around the building the Guard were beginning to surrender to the superior Storm Commandos. "Farrah, we're going," he said, as he took hold of his daughter and began to flee from the bunker leaving the others to fight for themselves. Like the coward that he was his sole focus was on escaping to fight another day. In time he believed he would forge new alliances that would strengthen his position. He was already planning to shape this story as Grand Moff Rodney collaborating with the unpopular Governor Arundel to put down the last establishment of the once great Alderaanian military. There was opportunity to be taken from every defeat, but first an escape was needed.

What had started out as a nice day had just turned upside down. Farrah had been laying, sprawled out on her stomach on Gaius' bed. She was giving herself a manicure when the Storm Commandos showed up on the monitors. "No!" Her first thought was that her and Gaius' Imperial involvement had just blown up in their face. Maybe Arden Zevrin had grown tired of their failed attempts and *she* had sent the Commandos. She rapidly stood and stepped into her shoes. She grasped her own blaster. As young as she was, she wasn't going to lay down and simply be killed. She hovered near Gaius, watching every word that he and Arden Zevrin traded. Her face fell. There was no time to sway her to help them. Farrah simply couldn't produce the Duke's head out of mid air. There had been problems, mistakes, and too many failures. "Daddy..."

She took his hand. She could hear the sounds of the Storm Commandos beginning to make their way into the building. They were closing in, but not before Farrah and her father would escape. Her hand was shaking in his. For the first time in her life, Farrah was actually scared. "We'll get everyone back, Daddy. I'll still help you make your dream come true!" She cried to him. The Alderaan Guard was more than happy to stand and die for Gaius. With each passing minute more people died. The kind of backlash that the Grand Moff would suffer over this was a little comfort in Farrah's mind. They wouldn't leave forever. She was sure her Daddy had more ideas for their next big move.

Zara Rodney was far, far away from home. More importantly, she was away from Marcus' protection. As the Nerf Herder came to land on a pad at the Medcenter, Zara once again forced herself to look at the dark deed in front of her: killing Luna. The ship's systems powered down slowly, leaving Zara in a quiet cockpit all by herself. She patted one of the droids that, annoyingly, never seemed to leave her. "We're here. Let's get it over with. Marcus will *kill* me if he wakes up and finds out I'm not home." She grabbed her E-11 rifle and stood. The Medcenter was quiet. She was able to march right in and move to Luna's room immediately. To her relief, the two bounty hunters had been separated. Petrus was close, but Zara was confident that she could kill her sister before the big man knew that she was there. Ignoring the belly, stealth was something that Zara exceeded at in her professional life. She made her way through the hospital's corridors. Each step increased in difficulty. In her mind, images of them playing when Luna was younger crossed her face.

"I wanna be just like you, big sissy!"

Zara winced as she turned into the room where her sister was currently recovering. She had accepted what was going to happen here. She *had* to have no regrets. She forced the past out of her head. Instead, she remembered how cruel Luna had been to her when she stole her away from her family, demanded money, and hurt her friends and family. It had to end.

The room where Luna was recovering was not as empty as Zara would have preferred. Doctor Pilaq Tohan was performing his nightly rounds at the medcenter, and had stopped by to see how the young Luna Flosgermen was recovering from her blaster wounds. When the door opened and he saw Zara step forward, both of his mouths formed into smiles. "It is good of you to come, Lady Zara," he said, as he took hold of his walking stick and began to move towards her. "I was just attending to your sister after removing her from the bacta tank. I was just about to look in on your brother-in-law, so you and her can be alone," he said, as he moved to look over her carefully. She was due in exactly one month and he had decided to be extra cautious with her. "Do not stay too long, milady. You need your rest, and so does your sister," he said, before slamming the base of his walking stick into the ground to add emphasis.

Literally the last person Zara expected to see was good ol' Doctor Pilaq Tohan. He scared her so much that she nearly screamed upon seeing him. Instead, like a naughty little child, she hid her blaster behind her body. An anxious smile curled up her lips. "D-Doctor!" She squeaked nervously. "Thank you for seeing to her, Doctor. She's a bit of a trouble maker..." Zara laughed dryly. Her job had just gotten significantly more difficult. What would Pilaq think when he was summoned to Luna's room and Luna was *dead*. She watched him, nodding her head quickly. "Boy do I know! I can't tell you how much effort it took to get here. I don't suggest ever becoming pregnant with twins, my friend." She joked. She stayed near the back wall of the room. She hoped he would quietly leave her to do the deed. Every second that went by made her feel even more nervous. She had killed before. She had never killed her own blood.

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