Major Arden Zevrin stood quietly on the bridge of the modified
Guardian-class light cruiser Forbearance, which served as the
ISB Operations Ship in the Ringali Shell. With her were an entire squad
of elite ISB operatives that she had commandeered. She felt as if she
was on the verge of making her career, and she restlessly paced on the
deck of the ship. "Time to Esseles?" she asked for the fifteen time. Her
gloved hands folded behind her back as she stared at the navigation
computer over the co-pilot's shoulder.
"Calm yourself, Major," Lieutenant Philip Horst implored as he
stood calmly behind her. "We will arrive at Esseles shortly," he pointed
out, still wondering why he had been pulled from Brentaal IV with the
other ISB operatives for this mission to Esseles. "Perhaps you could let
me know what it is we will be doing when we arrive?" he asked as he
walked across the bridge to move closer towards his commander.
"I have learned the identity of the Rebel spy," Arden said proudly,
as she turned to look at the man with a confident smile. "We are going
to arrest her and be done with this leak once and for all," she said as
she turned her attention to the viewport.
Horst froze as he listened to the words spoken by his commander. His
heart began to race as he envisioned an immediate promotion for his
involvement in the operation. But there was doubt in the back of his
mind. He and every operative in the Ringali Shell Oversector had been
searching for the spy over the past several months and had uncovered
nothing. He was skeptical that the Major could have so easily learned
the spy's identity. "...and how did you come by this information,
Major?" he asked as he moved closer to her position.
"A source close
to me in the criminal underworld recovered a disk that was being sold on
the black market," Arden explained as she slowly turned her face to look
at the junior officer. She resented having to explain herself to one so
low as the Lieutenant. It was his duty to carry out her orders,
rather than to question why she gave them. "I assure you,
Lieutenant," she paused as she spoke his rank with contempt, "the
information I have is 100-percent accurate."
Philip Horst cringed as he
heard the rebuke from Major Zevrin, wondering if perhaps he had
overstepped his bound. He turned his head away from her and pretended to
look at one of the monitors. "And whom, may I ask, is the spy?" he asked
as his face slowly turned back to the beautiful ISB commander.
other than Lady Htaere Sha`ar Ka`a Rodney..." Major Zevrin said with
extreme confidence. The woman's face lit up with delight at the thought
of informing High Command the Admiral's wife was the traitor. Perhaps it
would result in her being given command of the Oversector. She believed
she could do a far better job than the tired old man.
Lieutenant Horst's heart jumped out of his chest as he heard the name.
Surely she could not be serious. "You are taking an awful risk,
Major..." he pointed out slowly, realizing if she were wrong it would
result in all of them being executed. However, he saw a tremendous
upside if she were correct. Convicting a Regional Governor's wife of
treason could surely make both of their careers.
"There is no reward
without risk, Lieutenant," Arden said as she fantasized about the
near future. Their conversation was interrupted as the light cruiser
suddenly shook. The Forbearance had exited hyperspace in the Essesia system.
Arden stepped forward and looked at
the planet Esseles growing larger in the viewport. All she could see was glory.
Htaere sat in the gardens of the estate, immersed in whatever
landscaping was afforded to satiate the need for nature in her soul. In
the distance she admired the black majestic form that dominated the
terrain in the form of her guarlara, turned out for a bit in an area of
the estate that had been fenced for the animal. Her thoughts were pulled
by the warble of a service droid as it delivered a small silver tray
with a cup and tea pot on it. "Your tea, Mistress Htaere." She glanced
at the droid quickly, yanked from her silent revelry. A gracious grin
appeared on her youthful face. "Thank you."
Major Kerrie Kiley stood quietly behind Htaere, wearing her neatly
composed black Stormtrooper uniform. It seemed to be a beautiful day and
she was pleased to be outside instead of aboard the Star Destroyer,
blissfully ignorant to events that were transpiring against them. "Have
you thought of any names yet?" she asked quietly, not sure where Jelena,
Drusilla, or even Ewwiekewwieikkie were at the moment. There was a time
when she considered having a child, but that felt like a lifetime ago.
The prospect of Htaere's pregnancy caused her to live vicariously
through her, sharing in the joy of what she believed was a blessed
From her seat Htaere smiled widely, almost blushing despite the fact
her back was to Kerrie. "I have indeed" she admitted, chuckling
slightly. "For a girl, I like Aehrete, but I do not have a name for a
"Claudius junior?" Kerrie asked with a soft laugh, once again
crossing the line from protector to friend as she moved from her
defensive posture into a more relaxed one. "Is Aehrete a family name?"
she further inquired, feeling feminine for one of the few times in her
life. In the distance an engine roared, sounding similar to the Kwai
... clearly of Imperial origin. She could only assume that the Admiral
was returning early for once.
"My goodness one seems enough. I am hoping for a girl, but Claudius'
father demands a male heir. His meddling contributed to the death of his
first wife. I am only worth the investment in Julius' eyes if I bear a
son" she recalled, finding herself a little miffed just speaking of the
"If it is to be another girl, let us hope she has the intelligence of
Jelena, the kindness of Ewwiekewwieikkie, and the... and the..." Kerrie
paused awkwardly, her face turning slightly red as she struggled to find
the right words. She stammered visibly as she tried to force something
out just for the sake of politeness. "...and Drusilla's posture..." she
added quickly, laughing slightly as she spoke intimately with her
friend. On the landing pad she could now clearly see that it was not a
shuttle that had landed, but in fact a Guardian-class light
cruiser. This was unusual.
Htaere tried her best not to smile. It was true, finding even a
single positive quality in the girl was a difficult task. "Yes, let us
hope" she agreed. She thought for a moment before pivoting slightly in
her chair to gaze up towards Kerrie. "Have you ever considered children,
"Once. A long time ago," Kerrie said as her eyes focused on the
transport, rather than Htaere. She began walking forward, positioning
herself between Htaere in the ship. "There was a boy once... Thad..."
she said, remembering her youth on Zolan. "I loved him once, but we had
a disagreement..." she commented, not going into any great detail. By
now she could see troops descending from the shuttle, and her hand
instinctively hovering over the KYD-21 blaster in her holster.
Major Arden Zevrin strode confidently from her vessel, flanked by a
squad of ISB operatives. The woman had a determined look in her face,
wearing the cream colored uniform that marked her identify as an ISB
officer. She strode through the garden, her black leather boots smashing
down on numerous plans in the garden. As she arrived in front of them
she grinned confidently and raised her hand at her old rival. "Step
aside, Major Kiley. I have orders to arrest the Rebel spy!" she
announced as she folded her arms in determination in front of her chest.
Htaere blinked up at the two, curious as to what was happening. Her
first thought was regarding Claudius and if something had happened. She
sat up a bit, waiting for Kerrie to turn back so she could make an
Kerrie panicked, wondering how Arden had learned of Jelena's
complicity in the Rebellion. She took a step towards the doorway of the
estate, deciding right then and there not to allow that cruel woman to
take Jelena. "I will not yield without direct authority of the Admiral,"
she said defiantly as her hand moved to her holster, pulling out her
KYD21 blaster pistol and aiming it at Arden's chest.
"I am operating independently of the Admiral," Arden said coldly as
she backpedaled quickly, moving behind one of the larger ISB operatives
to shield her from Kerrie's blaster. "Admiral Rodney has been
compromised. His wife is a traitor..." she said as she narrowed her gaze
towards Htaere. One of the ISB operatives moved forward and reached for
Htaere's arm, attempting to grab her and pull her towards him. Another
ISB operative came forward, extending a pair of handcuffs towards the
Htaere looked stunned, not entirely sure what to make of this. As one
of the strange agents reached for her, she shrank back from him. "I do
not understand. What is transpiring?" she asked, her voice shaky as she
dropped her tea cup as she pushed away from the operative.
Kerrie quickly aimed her KYD21 blaster pistol at the ISB operative
who was lunging towards Htaere. She pulled back on the trigger,
unleashing a deadly bolt of crimson energy directly at the man's chest.
She was great out numbered, and her only hope was to buy Htaere enough
time to escape. "Run, Milady," she pleaded at the top of her lungs as
she adjusted the aim of her blaster towards the operative with the
cuffs. Again, pulling the trigger she send a second bolt of energy at
the agent's torso. The odds would improve, but she was still out
The first operative let out a pained groan as the bolt of energy tore
through his chest, burning away his uniform and tearing into his flesh.
He dropped to the ground, fatally wounded.
The second operative was caught off guard, hit in the stomach by
Kerrie's well-aimed bolt. His hand moved to cover his wound, the cuffs
dropping to the ground as his body fell to the ground. The man was
dying, his stomach liquefied from the heat of the energy that tore into
Htaere was numb, everything happening at the speed of light and slow
motion all at once. With the two agents falling around her, Htaere heard
Kerrie amid the fuzzy filtered sound in her ears. She got to her feet,
gripping the arm of the chair for support as she spun around it and
headed back to the house as fast as she could. As she neared the door
she paused only long enough to glance back towards Kerrie before darting
back inside the estate. Grabbing at the front of her dress she started
up the stairs and down the upper hallway towards the master bedroom
suite. Breathing heavily and near hysteria she hurried through the door,
turning and slapping the door control closed and locking it. She stared
at the door for a moment, waiting to see if it would hold and trying to
gather her bearings. Glancing away, she hastened to one of the
nightstands, fumbling through the drawer before retrieving her com unit.
Shakey fingers struggled to compress the stud. "Claudius! Please help
me!" she cried into it frantically, tears welling in her eyes.
Lieutenant Philip Horst lowered his Model 22T4 hold-out blaster
with Kerrie's chest and steadied his aim. It seemed the ISB agents were
dropping like flies and he could not afford for this mission to fail. He
squeezed back on the trigger of his weapon as his upper lip curled into
a satisfied sneer, the bolt of deadly crimson energy heading directly
for Kerrie's upper body.
Kerrie was unable to fight all of them off and the bolt from Horst's
weapon caught her square in her right shoulder, causing her arm to fall
limp to her side as the muscle was horrifically burnt by the blaster
bolt. Her KYD21 fell from her right hand, but she bent down quickly and
scooped it up with her left hand before it landed. "Gaah," she cried out
in agony as she turned the blaster on Horst, preparing to retaliate.
Agent Rak Transil, one of the ISB Enforcement operatives, lowered his
E-11 blaster rifle with Kerrie's chest. The young agent stepped forward,
depressing the trigger and instantaneously a series of three blaster
bolts were sent soaring through the air towards her chest.
Kerrie's body stopped dead in its tracks as the first of the deadly
kill bolts tore into her chest, causing her to simply stand there
motionless as the energy burnt through her upper body. Only the fact
that she quickly fell to her knees prevented the other bolts from
striking her dead. Her eyes weakly turned to look towards Major Zevrin,
struggling with all of her might to lift her KYD21 blaster pistol to aim
at the woman. Her hand began to shake and her eyes began to close, the
color beginning to face from her mimicked Human face.
"Still the pathetic creature I encountered on Coruscant those many
years ago..." Arden observed as she walked around from behind the ISB
operative. She was no longer scared of the Stormtrooper who had been
forced down to her knees. She laughed slightly, amused at the fact that
the woman was now helpless, and she alone would deliver the coup de
grāce. "Give my regards to your parents, bitch..." Arden cursed as she
spit to the ground in front of her. She raised her own 22T4 hold-out and
leveled it directly with Kerrie's chest. With no remorse, she pulled
back on the trigger and unleashed a deadly bolt of energy at point blank
The bolt tore into Kerrie's chest and she fell forward to the ground,
her blaster pistol landing beside her as the unconscious and dying woman
faded back into her natural Clawdite appearance. She had managed to take
two of them with her, but in the end it would not be enough.
"I think she is uglier as a Human," Arden observed as she stepped
over Kerrie's body and moved into the Rodney estate. She began walking
up the stairs slowly towards the upstairs bedrooms. "Secure the
children," she ordered as she arrived as the master bedroom. ISB agents
flooded the house, sealing off access to the Rodney daughters' bedroom.
Arden raised a gloved hand and knocked repeatedly on the room where she
suspected Htaere had barricaded herself. "There is no point calling for
your Rebel friends, my dear. We are jamming your transmission..." she
explained in a cold and calculating voice. "Come out before we have to
damage the Admiral's door. I understand he paid quite a bit for it..."
she said with an evil laugh as her eyes motioned towards one of the
remaining operatives who was equipped with a grenade.
Htaere paced the floors, nervous and desperately trying to get
through on her com. She looked towards the balcony, evaluating any way
to traverse the levels to the first floor from outside the manor. With
no where to go she walked a few more anxious circles before deciding it
was simply a matter of moments. Hustling the to the closet she pushed
her way past the rows of clothes to the very back in the space against
"Pity," Arden commented as she gave the door one final look before it
was gone. She stepped aside, raising both of her gloved hands to hold
over each of her ears. "Blow it!" she commanded angrily, having lost her
patience with the Hapan traitor. The Admiral should have known better
than to marry an outsider. She had lost what little respect she had for
the man during this ordeal.
Agent Transil stepped forward and placed his grenade against the
door, and then quickly hurried away. There was barely any time before
the grenade exploded, shattering the fine wood door and providing them
access to the master bedroom, which was now filling with smoke.
Arden coughed as she wiped the smoke away from her face, wondering if
perhaps the overzealous operative had used too powerful an explosive. No
matter, she thought for the time being as her boots crunched down on the
shattered remnants of the door. She motioned with her hand for one of
the operatives to cover the balcony while she peered through the room.
"Come out...come out...wherever you are..." she cried out as she scanned
over the room with her eyes. "This is not befitting a noble..." she
commented loud enough for the woman to hear wherever she was hiding.
Htaere peered between the rows, much of the doorway billowing with
smoke. She tried one last time to use her com unit, before placing it
down on the floor behind her. She took a deep breath to calm herself,
her body trembling like a leaf as the sound of the agents storming into
the room echoed in her ears.
Once Arden had checked beneath the bed, she was convinced that the
closet was the only remaining hiding place left. She walked towards it,
spotting the row of ostentatious clothing owned by the family and again
she sneered. She could not stand the nobility and used the anger as she
reached through the clothing, her skillful hands attempting to grab at
the Hapan whom she suspected was hiding in there.
"What do you want with me?" Htaere shrieked, swatting at the agent's
hand, shifting to try and get out of reach.
"You are part of the Rebel Alliance and a traitor..." Arden cruelly
observed, pushing forward through the closet as her blood pressure began
to rise. Her hands flung open, spreading apart several articles of
clothing to give her a better view of the Hapan. Such a young frightful
creature, she observed. "Do not make me shoot you..." she warned, taking
a step back as she raised her hold-out blaster to squarely aim at
Htaere's face was ashen, her hands splayed open fingered in front of
her to shield herself, albeit futilely. "Please! Do not shoot! I am not
a traitor. Claudius will vouch for me" she said desperately.
"Your husband's judgment in the matter is irrelevant. He is a tired
old man whose judgment has been clouded by your ... feminine charms..."
Arden cursed, shaking her head disgustedly at the Hapan. Stepping aside,
she allowed one of the ISB Agents to step forward and attempt to place a
pair of stun cuffs on the Hapan noble. Even though she possessed no
practical combat abilities that they were aware of, they'd take no
Still leaning towards diplomacy, Htaere looked horrified but made no
further effort to resist. "I am sure there is an explanation for this.
It must be a mistake" she insisted. "I am not a spy."
"Take her away..." Arden said coldly, taking one final inspection of
the Rodney estate bedroom. "Is this where you corrupted the old man?"
she said with an offensive smirk, her blue eyes coldly descending the
young woman's body. "When we're done with you ... a homeless drifter on
Nar Shaddaa won't touch you," she warned angrily as a pair of operatives
began leading her out of the once immaculate estate. The other bedrooms
were being sealed off by ISB personnel, the sounds of their frantic
screaming and pounding against the material echoing throughout the
house. As they exited, Arden again stepped over the near-death body of
Major Kiley, not giving the matter a second thought. A traitor's servant
was a traitor in her mind.
The woman's comment stung, Htaere's brow knitting in a near grimace
but she said nothing. As they led her out, she glanced back towards the
stair case of the estate. "What about the children?" she asked, a sense
of longing in her eyes as she was removed from her home. As her gaze
shifted and settled on Kerrie's motionless form, she gasped loudly, her
heart freezing in her chest. Immediately she pulled away from her
captors, hurrying to Kerrie's side and dropping to her knees at the
major's side. "Kerrie!" she cried, cuffed hands cradling her face.
"They are not your children, whore!" Arden said as she scowled at the
woman, attempting to lead her towards their ship. She shook her head at
the woman as she motioned with her right hand for one of the troopers.
She had no time for the woman's hysterics.
Agent Transil came up behind Htaere and attempted to strike her in
the back of the head with the butt of his E-11 blaster rifle. If the
woman would not come willingly, then he would use force to maneuver her
into position. He had many friends who had perished in the war ...
perhaps some were dead because of the woman's treachery.
Oblivious to the attack, she briefly felt the impact and mind-numbing
crack emanate from the base of her skull before her eyes blacked out and
her body went limp, out cold.
"That solves that..." Arden said with a smug laugh, looking down
approvingly at the unconscious body of the young Hapan noble. Her booted
foot swung angrily towards the woman's midsection, even though she was
already unconscious. It was completely unnecessarily, but it felt
satisfying to the ambitious and corrupt ISB officer. "Drag her..." she
ordered to one of the operatives as she began a brisk pace towards the
ship, a grin of sheer delight threatening to tear her face in two.