Era of Rebellion - Navigation


Liz Dorner and Christopher Levy.

Zero years before the Battle of Yavin (35:3:16) in the Essesia system: Esseles (New Calamar: Claudius Rodney's estate) and Forbearance.
Lieutenant Philip Horst, Major Kerrie KileyCountess Htaere Rodney, Agent Rak Transil, and Major Arden Zevrin.

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.

Lieutenant Philip 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.

"None 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 event.

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 boy."

"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 man's audacity.

"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, Kerrie?"

"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 inquiry.

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 Hapan woman.

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 numbered.

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 his flesh.

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 range.

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 the wall.

"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 chest.

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 chances.

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.

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