Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Liz Dorner, Christopher Levy, and Sarah Riggs-Shute.
Zero years before the Battle of Yavin (35:4:28) in the Coruscant system: Coruscant (Galactic City: Cantham House and Imperial Palace).
Liliya Benedt, Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca, Viceroy Bail Prestor Organa, Emperor Sheev Palpatine, Grand Vizier Sate Pestage, Vice Admiral/Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, and Countess Htaere Rodney.

Claudius Rodney rose from his bed the moment he heard his holonet transceiver beep. He looked to his still sleeping wife and was pleased to see she was a sound sleeper and had not been disturbed like he had. Rising from the bet he let out a soft, tired groan as he staggered, attempting his first steps of the morning. Coffeine, he thought to himself as he moved from the bedroom to the adjoining office and made his way towards his desk. His eyes went wide when he saw it was the Warspite calling and wondered what it could possibly be. He had asked not to be disturbed during his leave so that he could have time with his family. Perhaps it was Lieutenant Ames with one of her annoying reports as she constantly attempted to impress her. He had spent time with her father, former Senator Ames, during his time on Coruscant, and had to listen to him sing the praises of his daughter for far too long. "This had better be important," he announced over the link upon activating it, leaning back in his chair as he awaited a reply.

"Indeed it is, milord," the icy voice of Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca replied as her blue skinned face shimmered into view. "There has been a disastrous attack on Cormond's spaceport. Thousands are dead and the spaceport is currently inoperable," she reported to the man in an emotionless voice. Any other officer would tremble in reporting such news to a superior, but the Chiss Lieutenant's demeanor would not allow such views to cloud her speech.

"What?!" Claudius said as he slammed his fist down on the desk as he looked to his tactical officer. He quieted down embarrassingly as he was fearful he would wake and startle his wife. "The Rebellion?" he asked, but he already knew the answer. Obviously the swine had taken advantage of his absence for their strike. There was no clear chain of command in his absence and he visualized all of his staff orders feuding and competing with one another in attempts to take credit for what had happened while he was on leave. However, now one of them would surely take the blame for this disaster ... but which one?

"None other, milord," Meham'ohorovi'cloca replied to her commander once again. "It was clearly an attack by Rebel insurgents, but the catastrophic loss of civilian life will surely cause the people to turn back towards the Imperial cause..." she theorized, with a firm nod of her head as she attempted to paint a more optimistic picture of the turn of events. She felt that if she were not a woman she would be permitted to play a larger role in the tactical situation in the Ringali Shell, but realized that no one could accuse Lord Rodney of being sexist given the unusual amount of female officers on his staff. Indeed, the fact that she even held the position of tactical officer aboard his flagship was extraordinary, though she yearned for a command of her own. "There was a secondary attack on the SallicheAg docking bay as well, Milord. Unfortunately there will be a food shortage in Cormond for the interim ... though we have already sent for renewed foodstuffs from Salliche," she informed him with a firm nod of her head, allowing the man to know she was at least on top of things.

The holonet transceiver beeped announcing there was another transmission and suddenly the unwanted sight of Grand Vizier Sate Pestage appeared on the screen. "Lord Rodney..." he began, sneering at him with that hooked nose and wart covered skin from beneath the hood of his robe. "Your presence is required at the Imperial Palace ... at once!" he shouted, his yellow eyes emerging from beneath the shadow of the robes to glare at him for just an instant before the transmission abruptly terminated.

Claudius uncomfortably swallowed as he received the transmission from Pestage, expecting that the two events were linked. "You will have to excuse me, Lieutenant," he said, nodding to the woman as he terminated the transmission. He spun his chair around and looked out at the bustling sky lanes of Imperial City, watching the sun rise over the towering structures that made up the skyline. Was this the end of his career? he wondered, as he rose from his seat and walked over to take a closer look at the city. Would this be the last time his eyes would ever glimpse the wonders of Coruscant? he again questioned himself, as his eyes moved towards the well stocked bar the Alderaanians had placed in his office. He needed a drink ... desperately, but he would remain strong and instead focus on making himself as presentable as possible for his meeting with the Grand Vizier.

Admiral Claudius Rodney cleared his throat nervously as he stood in the antechamber of the Imperial Palace. He had been summoned earlier that day, and he did not know the reason. There were reports of yet another attack in the Ringali Shell and he was fearful this be his dismissal as commander of the 219th Battle Squadron. As he sat on a cold durasteel chair he looked around at all of the sculptures depicting the ancient Sith Wars, of which he was only vaguely aware. His hands intertwined with one another nervously as he bent them outward, cracking his knuckles as he considered his options. Already he was making excuses in his mind so that he would quickly have a response to any criticism that might be laid upon him. Perhaps Inquisitor Thanor was behind this, he thought to himself, cursing the meddlesome wench under his breath.

Suddenly the door to the Emperor's throne room opened and Grand Vizier Sate Pestage slowly made his way down the corridor towards the Admiral. His wart covered face and hooked nose were barely visible beneath the hood of his ornate robes, but his piercing yellow eyes glared at the man angrily. He raised a bony finger and thrust it at the man's chest. "You no longer have a spaceport, my lord," he said in a condescending tone, referring to the prior day's Rebel terrorist attack on Brentaal. "Your command languishes without your presence," he said disapprovingly, the words of disdain spilling out of toxic colored blue lips. "You have been granted an audience with his Majesty ... see that it is not your last!" he warned him with one last sneer, before stepping side to extend his arm towards the throne room. The Grand Vizier had come to hold Admiral Rodney in contempt, but for some reason the man continued to gain influence in the highest echelons of Imperial command. Perhaps there was a reason Isard had pushed him to return the man to his command.

"The Emperor ... wishes to see me?" Claudius replied, struggling to get the words out of his mouth as his heart began to fiercely beat in his chest. This was not good, he thought to himself as he slowly stood from the chair and looked down the corridor towards the Emperor's throne room. His subtle brown eyes blinked slowly as hands moved over his uniform, adjusting it carefully so that it would settle from the wrinkles he accrued while seated. Slowly he began to walk down the corridor towards the throne room, and he paused at the entrance at the imposing sight of two of the Emperor's Royal Guards in their red armor.

"Enter ... Admiral Rodney," the voice of Emperor Palpatine shouted from the highest peak in the room. He had no time for delays as there was much to be done. The man was waiting for news of his final victory against the Rebel Alliance in the Outer Rim. By now he had hoped Lord Vader had already located their secret base. He understood that his presence inspired dread and caused apprehension among his officers, but he desperately wished the man would simply stand before him so he could move to more important business.

Upon hearing the voice of the Emperor, Claudius trembled and his face went noticeably pale. Like a young cadet he marched into the throne room and immediately dropped to one knee in front of the throne. He avoided making eye contact at all cost, and bowed his head in complete obedience to the one he viewed was responsible for bringing peace and justice to the galaxy. "Your Majesty..." he humbly spoke as he remained in the a kneeling position, unwilling to move a muscle without the permission of his Emperor.

"I have followed your service to my Empire..." the Emperor began, his voice sounding as snarled as his grotesquely deformed visage. Yellow eyed which seemed to have a glow to them looked down at the suppliant, as he attempted to size up the man and sense his potential. He sensed nothing extraordinary about the man, but he would definitely be an improvement to the buffoonery that seemed to be plaguing the ranks as of late. His loyalty, however, was without question and he sense no ambition about the man. Good, he thought silently to himself. Far too many of his commanders were plagued with the disease of lust for power. "The Imperial Senate has failed to deal with the Rebel threat, Lord Rodney. I have attempted my utmost to get you the reinforcements that you need to deal with the obstacles that are lay before you. However, my hands have been tied by sniveling bureaucrats who wish for resources to be devoted to their systems as a matter of pride, rather than where they are needed..." he was lying of course, but he could sense the man's ties to the old ways, but was confident he would be able to convince the man of his line of reasoning. "The Imperial Senate is no more. You will return to the Ringali Shell Oversector as my direct authority. All Imperial forces ... indeed all citizens of the Empire ... will answer to you. Rise ... Grand Moff ... Rodney!" the Emperor said, as he rose from his throne, and gripping his gnarled cane slowly walked down in front of him, extending a left hand for the appropriate tribute.

Claudius could not believe the words that he was wearing. The Senate disbanded? he thought to himself, realizing it had stood for millennia as the form of government of the Republic and now the Empire that had replaced. He was wondering how the Emperor could maintain control without the bureaucracy when suddenly he heard that he was being given complete authority in the Oversector. A smile curled upon his lips that he could not hide as he realized that his long awaited promotion had finally arrived. "Your Majesty!" he exclaimed with delight as his head finally looked up to view the man. He reached for the Emperor's left hand and began furiously kissing the gnarled hand of the man in gratitude. All of his hard work had finally paid off and he had been awarded a position worthy of his standing.

The Emperor looked out the viewport as a smile came upon his lips. He laughed in recognition that he had successfully seduced the nobleman to his cause with the minimalist of efforts. "We are grateful for your service, Governor. Now leave us so that you may deal with your Oversector, and I may deal with 'my' Empire..." he said, as he turned his back to him without saying a further word and slowly walked up the stairs to regain his position upon his ornate black throne.

Claudius stood without saying another word and bowed at the waist to the Emperor once more. Slowly he began to walk out of the throne room, never allowing the Emperor to see his backside as a sign of respect. Once the doors shut on him he let out a desperate sigh of relief, actually fearing for a moment that he might have been about to be relieved of his command ... or worse. "I am out of uniform, Grand Vizier," he said confidently as he looked towards the man who he now viewed with less respect than he did a moment ago. With a quick snap in his step he began moving down the corridor to tell his family of the news.

Grand Vizier Pestage could not believe what he had overhead. Rodney a Grand Moff? Unbelievable, he thought to himself wondering how such an incompetent aristocrat could rise to the level of Grand Moff in the Empire. He would never have made such a mistake if he were allowed to make such decisions. He was thankful that Isard had a high level agent in Rodney's command who could act should any further mistakes be made, which seemed very likely. He thought about warning the Inquisitor about the changing tide, but she had failed him personally as well and would rather let the new Regional Governor tell her himself. He shook his head disappointingly as he turned to greet the next arrival at the throne room.

Claudius Rodney returned home from his meeting with the Emperor to the friendly confines of Cantham House, Alderaan's embassy on Coruscant. There was much debate in the embassy that evening regarding the dissolution of the Imperial Senate and whether or not they still had a purpose here on Coruscant. The members of the Alderaanian Guard glared at the newly appointed Grand Moff Rodney as he walked from the landing platform into the main foyer of Cantham House. He was too filled with joy to notice any of the looks he was getting, and he had already taken the liberty of acquiring his new rank insignia, which he put quite the effort into adjusting. He had long wanted to see a gold square on his chest and now there were three.

Though the majority of the occupants of the Embassy were giving him terribly cold stares, there was one that was regarding him in a different light, a silent contemplation as his physical appearance was scanned. Aside from his rank, it was a perfect match to a Claudius Rodney, his likeness was given to her digitally and there was no mistake this was the man she was to meet here and at this time. Unbeknown to him, the now Grand Moff arrived as expected as she had been informed he was staying here during his time on Coruscant, but he was not expecting her. But some unexpected surprises are good ones, are they not? She had been patiently awaiting for him for some time, and during that duration, had attracted the undesirable attention of 'suitors' that she had to politely decline, but she could not blame them. She did not look like she belonged just in any location. An aura of perfection and elegance surrounded her, accompanied by a gentle humbleness that she developed over the year and a half that she painstakingly practiced acting 'human', for Liliya Benedt was not in fact human at all, but an extremely complex and beautifully crafted android. But short of near complete dismantling, it would be near impossible for any untrained or trained eye to realize her true nature as her make was of Human Replica Droid variety, a mere hand fold ever created if that. Developed and manufactured by the Imperial Department of Military Research but her fate had turned completely from that path the moment her original state was acquired by the Rebellion quite unexpectedly. Her past databanks were completely wiped saved very few details and entirely reprogrammed to serve the Alliance Intelligence in which she was fully trained to be a capable and rather deadly spy if necessary. Standing there by herself, was it any wonder she had attracted so much attention, she stood out dramatically from the surrounding area, wearing an elegant and classy wool black dress that clung to her flawless frame. Youthful and stunning, anyone else would wonder what someone like her was doing wasting around in a place like the Alderaan Embassy. Short black cropped hair framed her face perfectly and contrasted just right with her smooth porcelain complexion. A gentle knowing smile towards the newly promoted Governor highlighted her lovely forgiving and amiable appearance. A small black pocketbook and knee high black suede boots completed her gorgeous attire that she wore effortlessly. It was apparent she did not belong 'here', a lady of this caliber deserved far better, perhaps Claudius was the man capable of giving her that? Time would tell, but she had a clear purpose as she approached him gently, her demeanor kind albeit a tad shy apparent as she slowly lifted her eyes to make contact with his. They were deep hazel and peered up to him full with hope as she spoke softly. "Lord Claudius Rodney?" As if she did not already know that to be the truth.

Claudius Rodney blinked slowly as he first caught a glimpse of the lovely young woman who was slowly approaching him. She seemed to walk more like a graceful predator than any human he had seen before. She certainly did not look like any member of the diplomatic staff he had encountered during his stay in Cantham House and at first he did not know how to reply. Again he blinked as he heard her say his name, realizing he had never heard it said in quite such a way. He could hear his heart beating in his chest as his inner voice suddenly yelled at him to speak. "None other," he said to her, with a polite nod of his head. He bowed fully at the waste as he reached for her right hand like a gentlemen. He took her hand in his and slowly raised it to meet with his lips as he placed a brief kiss upon the upper part of her hand before releasing. "I am at your service, Milady ... but you have me at a disadvantage..." he was quick to point out, canting his head to study her features more carefully. There was something about her that reminded him of his first wife, but he could not quite place it. He had assumed she was Alderaanian by her presence in the embassy, and perhaps the thought of 'home' was clouding his view of her. He had been in a hurry to gather his family to inform them of his new promotion, but now all he could allow himself to consider was finding out the identity of the young woman standing before him.

Her seemingly delicate hand was warm and soft in his palm and on his lips. Although she did not offer him or give cues to that interaction, her databanks confirmed that this was the correct and oftentimes expected Alderaanian greeting of high society. "A gentleman, qualities that are slowly eroding." An honest although sad opinion to the state of the ever changing fast pace values, but it was clear that she was fully engaged in his gesture and quite appreciative. As his hand left hers, she brought it to her pocketbook to pull out and display a single holo-emitter that she held out for him to take. "I hope this is sufficient, I was not told of the details so you will have to forgive me." She of course lied but she did so with grace, and it was polite to do so as the matters were private. "If you wish for me to leave so you may listen to the contents alone, I will understand."

The visage of Viceroy Bail Organa appeared from the holo-emitter that she had produced, not giving Claudius the opportunity to dismiss her. The man smiled as a prerecorded message was presented to them. "Greetings, Claudius. I wish to congratulate you on your appointment as Regional Governor of the Ringali Shell Oversector. I have long considered you a friend and an able diplomat and I feel no one is more suited to the position than you," the man said in a pleasant enough tone, though almost every word of it was a lie. "The work of a Grand Moff is not an easy one and therefore I am proud to present to you Liliya Benedt. Miss Benedt was a recent graduate of Alderaan University and the finest candidate the Diplomatic Corps has produced in a generation. You will find that she has credentials approved by your father and your former brother-in-law, as a testament to her ability and skill. She will serve you well as you once served me well, old friend." With that the holo-emitter terminated and the image of Bail Organa faded.

There was a light blush that flushed across her cheeks and the bridge of her nose, easily faking surprise and embarrassment, as if this was news to her as well. "Well, I...I..." She stammered gently, her voice very soft before regaining her composure as she looked to him with a nervousness she tried to cover. "I was not expecting this. Please don't feel obligated, but I would be honored to assist you in the challenges you will no doubt have to face." Liliya was no less than brilliant, aided by her calculative bio-synthetic mind that gave her an extreme advantage, but her job was to appear flawed and human and thus she played that card without fault. Her eyes became a bit distant as she glanced down towards the ground, lost in thought before speaking once again, although it was but a whisper. "Viceroy Bail Organa was always kind..."

Claudius was struck by the news that his old friend had presented him with this ... gift. As the best man at his wedding he wondered why his old friend was presenting him with such a lovely administrative aide. Perhaps an overweight, balding male would be a more suitable aid for the man. "Liliya is it?" he said, enjoying the way the name sounded as it escaped the back of his mouth. He smiled at the young woman, but reluctantly admitted he was heading for trouble. His wife would most definitely not approve. "Your credentials are second to none," he said confidently as he sized her up. "Have you been briefed on the situation in the Ringali Shell?" he asked her, wondering what steps his old friend had taken in preparing her for the role as his aid. Truthfully, he could use an aid ... Major Kiley was not adept at paperwork and he was finding himself relying more and more on his operations officer, Lieutenant Ames who he got an uncomfortable vibe from. Not to mention the fact that Inquisitor Thanor had no diplomatic graces whatsoever.

Liliya knew far more than she would ever like Claudius to realize, about his life, his family, everything. She was fully briefed on the Ringali Shell and more, her databanks covered untold amount of information that any other would deem almost unfathomable. She knew the ranks and names of every officer on the Warspite thanks to her own data manipulation. A truly inspired hacker herself, she could physically link into any computer that contained an external port and download the entire contents in seconds. "I'm so sorry, Milord, but I didn't know about this new assignment." She fidgeted uncomfortably, her hands clasping her pocketbook a little too tightly in mild stress of being put on the spot without any preparation, or so it would seem. She looked up to him once again, eagerness to please very apparent mixed with fear of giving a terrible first impression and being judged incorrectly. "If given the chance, I will learn it all completely." She vowed passionately.

Claudius paused for a moment, somewhat surprised and disappointed that the young woman had not been briefed fully on her assignment. Still, she was lovely, and there were only so many lovely things left in the world. "You do understand that the job is in a war zone and you would be in danger?" he asked of her, wondering if Bail Organa had set up this young woman for a fall. The Ringali Shell was quite a dangerous assignment, especially for one so young and inexperienced. "I will not sugar coat this, my dear. It is quite the risk you would be undertaking..." he explained to her, almost hoping she would turn him down so as not to create the temptation for him.

Liliya shook her head lightly from side to side, her black bangs swaying delicately, refusing to believe Bail Organa had nothing but her best intentions in mind, and Rodney's. That little spark of defiance glittering just faintly in her eyes. "I trust Viceroy Organa's intuition and judgment. He would never steer me wrong. I will meet and exceed all of your expectations, Lord Rodney." She swore boldly and firmly as there was no doubt in her mind that she was the best for the job in this galaxy and in the next. She flashed him a sweet and confident smile, as if nothing could phase her. "I believe my ability will surprise you."

Claudius paused for a moment as he heard her response, immediately developing a bad feeling about this. "Very well, Liliya," he said as he looked over her one last time. "We must get to Esseles straight away," he said as he began marching to his rendezvous with his family in their chambers. "Pack your things!" he shouted, as he faded away down the corridor. What had he gotten himself into, he wondered, as he prepared to spread his joy with his family.

Claudius Rodney returned home from his meeting at the Imperial Palace earlier that day and hurriedly entered the suite at Cantham House that had been reserved for them. On his chest was the newly placed rank insignia of a Grand Moff, for which he had finally been rewarded for his service. The Imperial Senate was no more and the Emperor himself had granted him full authority over the Ringali Shell. As he entered their bedroom, he stood at full attention like a young cadet, and hoped Htaere would inspect him. His uniform never looked better and he was smiling from ear to ear, secretly hoping she would notice the promotion, though he doubted she would be able to interpret the complex series of different colored squares that made up the Imperial rank structure.

Htaere had spent most of the morning gathering her things in anticipation for their ultimate return to the Ringalli Shell. Hearing the door chime to the master suite, she finished folding a gown to tuck neatly into one of her suitcases before glancing up towards the new arrival before smiling upon seeing who it was. "Hello Claudius," she canted her head, noting his immense jubilation. "You seem happy?"

Claudius cleared his throat as his left hand went up to his rank insignia and tilted it so it could reflect the light in Htaere's eyes. The three gold squares on the bottom right shone brightly as he had polished them intently. He was quite proud of it, and himself. "Notice anything different?" he coyly asked, as he flashed her a quite content grin.

Narrowing her eyes slightly, Htaere approached him and inspected the insignia carefully. "Hmm, these are different, yes?" she thought on it, never really haven taken to studying the uniform or understanding the various ranks.

"You are now married to the Grand Moff of the Ringali Shell Oversector," Claudius announced triumphantly, as he stood on his tip toes and bounced with enthusiasm. "The Emperor himself appointed me. We must have made quite the impression the other evening," he said proudly as he moved forward, placing his arms upon Htaere's side. He moved his head in towards her, kissing her on the lips passionately. "Thank you for all you did with the children to make this possible," he thanked her, his eyes starting to water as he was overcome with pride for himself and his entire family.

Htaere nearly bounced stepping forward and giving him a congratulatory hug. "Oh Claudius that is wonderful!" she said enthusiastically. "I am so very happy for you, my dear." She took a step back to look him over again. "You are welcome, my love. But you deserve this for all your hard work and dedication."

"Unfortunately, we haven't much time," Claudius explained, as he looked to her packing, feeling quite relieved. "There has been an attack on Brentaal ... it is serious. I must return immediately," he explained to her, being honest about the state of affairs for the first time in their relationship. "I have arranged for a transport to take you and the children back to Esseles. I will meet you there tomorrow," he explained to her, as he seemed in quite the rush. There was so much to do and it felt like there was very little time.

Htaere nodded, withdrawing slightly. "I see," she replied slowly. "You are leaving now, then?" she blinked a bit while digesting the news.

"Yes. I must depart at once, but I will join you on Esseles tomorrow," Claudius explained as he checked the chronometer on the wall. He was already late for his shuttle. "Is there anything you need from me before I depart?" he asked, hating to be so abrupt with her, but his new duty came with greater responsibility.

Shaking her head emphatically, Htaere smiled once more. "No. I shall tell the children of your news and assure them you will be reunited tomorrow. I am certain they will be elated for you," she nodded. "Congratulations again, my beloved."

"I love you," Claudius said, as he placed another kiss upon her lips with renewed vigor and passion. This was the happiest he had been in a long time, but he could spare no additional time. He hurried quickly from the room, staring at the chronometer one last time as he hurried towards the shuttle. They had been gone from his command far too long and he needed to return to put things in order. The meddlesome underlings in his staff no longer needed to worry about Admiral Rodney. However, they were now faced with the daunting presence of ... Grand Moff Rodney.

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