Lieutenant Allegra Ames adjusted the
tunic of her Imperial uniform as she exited the turbolift aboard the
Warspite. Stepping out in the level of the ship's tower reserved for
the Admiral's suite she strode across the living compartment, taking in
every facet of the quarters ... it was impressively decorated ... it
seemed all of the Admiral's personal furnishings were now aboard ship.
She looked around, unable to find the Lady Htaere. Figuring it best to
check the guest bedroom, she walked towards it slowly.
She paused at the door long enough to
brush a polite smile onto her face. She then raised her right hand to
the door and knocked three times and then waited for a response.
A few moments of lag and the door
whisked open. As it withdrew into the recessed compartment, the
extravagant form of Htaere Ka`a Sha`ar came into view, looking beyond
out of place in an ornate gown and matching headdress. She blinked
large grey eyes towards the young woman. "Yes?"
Lieutenant Ames smiled
diplomatically at Htaere. "The Admiral sent me, Milady," she said
eagerly, always up for the task of earning brownie points, "He has asked
me to bring you below decks."
"Oh...alright then" she said, her head
nodding slowly. She stepped out of the room, letting the door slide shut
behind her. "Ok, I am ready now" she offered, hands clasping in front of
her, the corners of her mouth lifted every so slightly in a pleasant and
Allegra nodded her head politely. "Nice
outfit," she thought quietly to herself as she looked over the woman.
She walked back across the living area and headed for the turbolift. As
she called for the turbolift, her attention turned briefly to Htaere.
"Are you enjoying your stay aboard ship, Milady?" she inquired, "If
there is anything *I* can do to make your stay more pleasant, please ...
just let me know."
Htaere's eyes pulled from the lift
towards the young woman. "It is...not something I am accustomed to, but
I am honored to be a guest here." She offered a respectful singular nod
to the Lieutenant. "I am appreciative of your benevolence. Thank
Allegra nodded to Htaere as the doors
slide open. She had hoped she had made an impression, as her plan was to
get the Admiral's attention by any means to secure her promotion. "After
you Milady," she said in courteously, extending her left arm to hold the
lift's doors open.
Htaere swept in, the expensive fabric of
her gown swishing about her slender ankles with every step. She stood
rigid as usual, looking content despite the incredible effort required
to keep sane in such confines. "Thank you" Htaere repeated.
Once Htaere was in the lift, Allegra
stepped in behind her. She turned on the heels of her fat and programmed
the lift to descend to the level where Admiral Rodney was waiting. She
continued to smile at Htaere, while attempting polite conversation, "It
won't be much longer until we arrive, Milady."
Htaere acknowledged the comment, cool
grey eyes lifting to track the lift's progress as it moved among the
levels. She said nothing, feeling out of place in Claudius' world and
eager to remain as far out of everyone's way as possible.
The door to the turbolift opened,
revealing a short corridor with only one door. "Straight down the
corridor, Milady," Allegra explained as she raised her hand to point the
way. "This is as far as I am authorized to go," she continued, stepping
aside to allow her room to exit.
Htaere threw her escort an unsure glance
before stepping out of the lift. She paused, casting one last gaze over
her shoulder to Lieutenant Ames. "My gratitude for your assistance"
she said quietly before moving down the corridor. She stopped at the
door to evaluate it before knocking a couple of times.
"Thank you, Milady," Allegra said as the
turbolift door closed in front of her. The smile disappeared from her
face as soon as the door was shut, replaced by a rather satisfied,
The door in front of Htaere opened
slowly, a cloud of condensation moving into the corridor do to the sharp
temperature of sorts. Inside, a makeshift arboretum had been established
in the expansive space. Plants of all different sizes and types crowded
into the former storage compartment. In the center, there was even a
pond and fountain, complete with fish. Exotic birds could be heard
singing from the top of the compartment, their wings gently fluttering
through the air. The room was humid, as most of the exotics required
such an environment to thrive. It had taken a lot of work and was not
exactly up to Imperial regulations. In the center, the man responsible,
Claudius Rodney sat on a private bench near the pool wearing his
physical training gear. He smiled when he saw her arrive. He quickly
stood up, extended his arms wide as if to say 'ta da' and awaited her
Htaere's mouth dropped, a breach in
protocol for sure but the sight was so stunning she couldn't help
herself. Her eyes didn't know where to go first, shifting from the
plants and wildlife to the fountain and the fish. Her steps were slow,
one at a time in fact as she absorbed the habitat in complete
wonderment. At long last her gaze settled on Claudius and an astounded
smile crossed her face. She whisked towards him eagerly, simply thrilled
by the gift. "Oh Claudius! It is wonderful!" she exclaimed, her face
"I am glad you enjoy it," Claudius said
to Htaere as he walked towards her happily, a victorious smile forming
upon his face. "It took a lot of work and cost a small fortune," he
continued as he stopped in front of her, taking her hands in his, "but I
wanted you to be happy here." He leaned forward towards her, lowering
his head to place a gentle kiss upon her lips.
Htaere was all smiles and very little
could have ruined the mood at this point. She quieted herself long
enough to taste his mature lips before bouncing again gleefully within
her thousand credit slippers. "Oh thank you Claudius!" she squealed,
genuinely touched that he had been so thoughtful of her.
Claudius turned around and stood beside
her, he placed his hand upon the small of her back. He smiled as he
looked around the room ... the engineers had done a remarkable job.
"Doctor Tohan was able to call in some favors with an Ithorian
botanist," he explained as his hand moved around, pointing out some of
the highlights, "Needless to say their research will be funded by the
House of Rodney for the next decade." He laughed quietly, though he was
being partially serious.
Htaere leaned into him, still basking in
the glow of such a generous gift. "You spoil me Claudius" she remarked,
still unable to lose the smile that seemed now a permanent fixture
across her lovely face.
"You deserve it, my love," Claudius said
as he led her through the narrow paths between the plants. "This
location is off limits to the rest of the crew," he explained as he
stopped to raise his hand to brush aside a tree branch to allow him more
access. "This is your own private area to get out of the hustle and
bustle of life aboard ship," he concluded.
One of Htaere's slender and well
manicured hands reached out to close gently around the leafy branch of
one of the flowering bushes growing alongside the path, letting it slide
through her grip as she moved past it. As if by some mutual attraction
between she and the plant, it was nearly a caress on both their parts,
she thriving on the glory of nature, and the plant likewise thriving on
her appreciation for it. For an inanimate object, it was remarkable to
watch. "Claudius... I cannot adequately convey my appreciation for
this..." she mumbled dreamily, very much at home amid the life sized
"I love you, Htaere," Claudius said
happily as he continued to lead her through the garden. "It seems I will
have to work extra hard for the wedding to outdo this one." Claudius
came to a stop suddenly as they rounded the corner. It revealed a rather
large tree. On it had been mounted a two person swing, a private getaway
deeper in the garden. On the tree was a recently carved heart containing
the initials "CR" and "HKS". He lowered his head, slightly embarrassed
as he walked by her to sit on the swing.
She admired the set-up with a soft
smile. "And I you, Claudius" she answered. She seated herself gracefully
on the swing, eyes aloft for a moment to take in the branch on which the
swing was mounted before cloudy pools settled back on him.
Claudius put his arm securely around
her, and pulled her close against him. He sighed contently as he closed
his eyes and held her close to him. He kicked his feet against the
ground gently, starting to rock the swing back and forth gently. Above
them a bird began to chirp harmonically. It was as close to perfection
as he could arrange.
Htaere's arms likewise encircled him,
turning into him slightly. Her legs lifted beneath the fabric of her
skirt, re-draping over his lap affectionately. She nuzzled the front of
his shoulder against which her head rested, gazing out indolently at the
little slice of Heaven.
Claudius turned his head towards her. He
placed a gentle kiss upon the top of her head. The peacefulness of the
moment, combined with the gentle rocking of the swing served to slowly
put him to sleep. He had spent a long day working to make sure
everything went smoothly. He was primed for some much needed rest.