The best place
to search for the truth was the very last place
where Livia Rodney had been seen alive: the Rodney
Castle. It was not sweet to return home. In fact,
Sierra Rodney was very displeased. The city of
Leiliani was absolute chaos. It had been destroyed
in the battle between the Rebels and the Imperials.
Governor Papius wasn't the type to make any effort
to clean up his messes...so the messes remained. She
stood, pacing the small garage beneath the castle
that served as her husband's 'man cave'. Her hands
were fumbling with a datapad, watching Papius move
about the master suite. He was dressing and readying
to leave. The trio had rode speeder bikes up the
sketchy mountainous road to the castle. Sierra hoped
to retrieve two of her ISB devices which were not
working properly. Maybe, just maybe one of them
would show the *real* truth. Until then, the trio
was camping out inside of a small enclosed space.
Sierra was certain that Papius was too pompous to
get himself dirty and look in every nook and cranny
within the castle. She was confident that he had no
idea about the man cave.
Sierra wore a
mishmash of armor that Kerrie and El-Nay had
graciously given her. It was a deep blue in color.
The armor perfectly concealed her baby bump and her
helmet, which remained firmly on, did a much better
job of keeping her identity secret than the Storm
commando helmet had. "He's leaving." Sierra informed
the women. She was disgusted beneath her helmet. She
had seen the holographic image of herself that he
had. It was hard to battle her emotions, which
begged her to go rip apart her suite just to
complicate his life. With a sigh, Sierra turned off
the datapad and slid it back into her sack. It felt
terrible having to break into her own home. She
wished she could snap her fingers and return
everything to its rightful place. "We'll give him
ten more minutes and move in after that." Now she
was beginning to act much more like a Commander.
watching the camera monitor Governor Arundel's
movements, but what happened next caused her jaw to
drop under her helmet. "Ew. Gross. Are those *your*
underwear?" she asked Sierra, as she watched the
man. "What a creeper. You sure you don't want me to
shove a rocket up his ass?" she asked, as she raised
her wrist gauntlet with the rocket launcher on it.
She would love nothing more than to activate her
jetpack, fly to the upper level, and do him in. All
this creeping around in the shadows, being quiet,
and not killing anyone was beginning to get on her
nerves. Her trigger finger was no longer itchy ...
it was throbbing.
Kerrie said, as the Mandalorian girl's voice
traveled in the stillness of the night. She knew
that there had to be more security than they
detected on the way in. There was no way an Imperial
Governor on a world where a Rebellion had just been
put down would not have at least a company of
Stormtroopers protecting him. "As you command,
milady," she said obediently to Sierra, before
concentrating on keeping El-Nay under control. She
was familiar with the layout of the castle as she
had served there for many years protecting the
Governor and his family, but she never had to sneak
turned bright red. "I liked that pair too... I'm
going to have to torch everything in that room if we
ever move back in." She felt angry. Papius had been
upstairs with his pants all but wrapped around his
ankles. She made the decision to do nothing. She was
sweating in her armor. El-Nay's joke seemed like a
lot less of a joke now. It would please her to see
that man take a rocket up the ass. "Now that I've
had some time to think about it... You can shove a
rocket up his ass." She could hear the sound of a
speeder leaving the castle. It wasn't going to be as
easy as it looked. Sierra's eyes were limited to
only a few rooms. They had the whole castle to worry
about. Unholstering her E-11 blaster rifle, Sierra
sighed. "I suppose it's time. The first device we'll
be going for is the most difficult. It's near the
landing platform. I was monitoring our unwanted
visitors." She rose. "If either one of you crosses
paths with Papius, shoot to kill." She added coldly.
Sierra made her way towards the door leading into
the depths of the castle. Her finger hovered near
the trigger to her blaster. She had considered
asking El-Nay to string her up and fly her to the
top of the castle, but decided against it. She
needed to see, with her own two eyes, what had
happened to her home.
went wide when Sierra suggested to El-Nay that she
could attack the Governor, prompting her to quickly
raise her hand in front of the Mandalorian to stop
her. "She's kidding," she said to El-Nay, realizing
that she had not yet learned the fine art of
sarcasm. "Understood, milady," she said, remember
the Grand Moff's orders to eliminate the man if
possible. It seemed his wife was on board with the
notion as well. She followed behind Sierra, her hand
hovering over her KYD-21 blaster pistol within its
holster. She had never made it down to this section
of the castle, and found herself surprised with
Sierra's familiarity with it.
cheered when she got the go ahead from Sierra, but
before she could blast off in her jetpack she was
stopped dead in her tracks by Kerrie. "Aww man. You
never let me have any fun," she muttered beneath her
helmet, as she brought up the rear in the trio of
women investigating the bowels of the castle. "You
got it, milady. If he comes within a kilometer of
this place I'm firing my rockets!" she said, while
making a nasty face at Kerrie from below the
anonymity of her helmet. If she went back to Esseles
without killing someone or blowing something up she
was going to be extremely pissed.
Sierra hoped that the opportunity arose to
assassinate the man. He had hurt her family so many
times. If he wasn't taken care of properly, he would
continue his mission to destroy the Rodney family.
She felt the support from Kerrie and El-Nay. Both of
them were on board with her. Like Kerrie, Sierra was
incredibly familiar with the castle. She looked
towards the small Clawdite. "I remember playing down
here with Jelena when we were younger." She said,
sadly reminiscing. "During our breaks at the
Academy, she'd always offer to take me here and give
me sanctuary from my home life." Jelena was the
first person she had ever opened up to about
it...the first person she *trusted*. "I miss her."
Sierra really did. Though she was not dead, she was
To El-Nay, she
smiled beneath her helmet. "Thank you. If we have
good luck, we'll be able to catch it all on holovid."
As they left the underbelly of the castle, they
emerged on the main floor. Sierra's stomach lurched
sideways when she saw a group of Stormtroopers
patrolling *her* home. This was exactly what she and
Claudius had never wanted for them or for Delaya.
She saw the group before they spotted El-Nay's
obvious orange armor. She began firing her blaster
rifle. She felt more clear headed this time than in
the Alderaan guard headquarters. What little target
practice she had gotten helped. She remembered
Kerrie's advice and kept herself calm and level.
Sierra actually hit some Stormtroopers too!
pained listening to Sierra talk about her past with
Jelena, as her failure to protect her was the
greatest shortcoming in her life. It haunted her.
Her duty to protect Jelena went as far as covering
up her realization that she had been providing
intelligence to the Rebellion, and even eliminating
Intelligence officers who had learned the truth.
When Jelena defected she shot Kerrie, almost
fatally, but she bore her no ill will and if she had
it to do again she would let her shoot her once
again. When they were spotted by the Stormtroopers
she frowned when Sierra began using deadly force, as
she considered herself to be a Stormtrooper at
heart. Once the firing began, she pulled the KYD-21
from her holster and began firing at the squad as
well. "We don't have much time to look around now,
milady," she said, as the final Stormtrooper fell
and they were currently safe.
to life when she heard the blaster fire ensue, but
as she was in the rear by the time she got there
Sierra and Kerrie had dispatched all of the
Stormtroopers. "You *have* got to be kidding me!"
she exclaimed, throwing her hands up in the air, and
allowing them to fall back to her sides, slamming
against her armor. "You trained her to shoot too
good. I didn't get to shoot one of them. Not a
single one," she began carrying around, while
walking around in a circle in an attempt to calm
down. Beneath her helmet she was seething, with her
cheeks turning red, and a thin layer of sweat
forming upon her body. She took her gloved hand,
balled it into the fist, and punched it into the
century old marble wall. It did more damage to her
hand than the wall, which she immediately recoiled
and began to wave about frantically. Beneath her
helmet she was crying out in pain. "I'm going in
front this time," she declared, as she walked up to
Kerrie and Sierra. "Uh. Which way?" she asked, as
she looked up and down the unfamiliar corridors.
never been on the battlefield before. Her first
kills had happened on this very same planet. She
understood that in order to survive...in order to
keep her baby safe...killing was necessary. Sierra
would raise her weapon for her family any day.
Between her and Kerrie, they disposed of the
Stormtroopers. If Kerrie hadn't reminded Sierra of
their time restraints, she might have started a
rampage. Beneath her helmet, she breathed hard.
"You're right." She sounded resentful to admit it.
The more trained Sierra became, the greater a threat
she would be. She realized that, right now, a
rampage in the castle would provide no answers.
moving too slow!" She equipped at El-Nay. The woman
really was domesticated. She reminded her of a dog
when she walked in a circle. Her tempter tantrum
transpired. "You don't..." Sierra began to warn her
but it was too late. "Yeah... That wall isn't going
anywhere..." She mumbled, watching El-Nay take the
lead. Sierra made a face then laughed. "I'll lead.
If we see any more Stormtroopers, I'll cower behind
you and you can take care of them." Sierra took the
lead. She broke out in a sprint in the direction of
the Dowager Duchess' suite. "We're making a pit stop
first." She informed Kerrie and El-Nay.
Duchess' room looked like it was untouched. Livia's
bed was made from the last time the servants had
fixed it. Sierra roamed the room. She carefully
started looking underneath things. She was searching
for a secret note from Livia detailing out where she
might have gone. The search had started out with
Sierra feeling confident. As she found herself
coming out empty handed, she began to feel that
something very bad had happened. She paused at
Livia's little vanity and looked over all the
various perfumes that sat upon it. "Mother..." She
whispered. Where was that woman? Sierra's eyes fell
on something that worried her more: Livia's most
cherished ring. Between her gloved fingers, Sierra
picked up the heavily jeweled ring. She recalled
listening to Livia's wild tales about this ring. It
had been owned by the first Duchess of Delaya, then
passed down the family. Every Duchess wore this
ring. If it no longer sat on her finger, then...
*Then* ... Sierra's head fell. Her hand closed
around the ring. It was shaking.
remembered the last time she saw Duchess Livia. She
was investigating the whereabouts of Jelena after
her defection and came to Delaya to look. Livia
blamed her for what had happened, and slapped her
across the face ... Kerrie felt she deserved it. As
she stepped inside of the room behind Sierra, she
reached out with her hand and placed it upon her
shoulder. "I am sorry, milady," she said with
genuine empathy and remorse. "...but we really need
to go," she said to her, as her eyes moved towards
the door. When that patrol of Stormtroopers was
discovered she expected the castle to go into
lockdown and perhaps even the planet to be
Her eyes felt
so hot. It wasn't just her hand that was
shaking...it was her entire body. She didn't want to
bring back bad news. She wanted to bring *Livia*
with her to Esseles. Sierra's head rose suddenly.
She looked behind her shoulder at Kerrie. She was
beginning to understand why El-Nay wore a helmet
frequently. Underneath her helmet, Sierra was
crying. She first shoved the ring into her sack. "We
need to reach the landing pad. We can leave after
that." The ring wasn't enough. She needed to see
what had transpired after her family had left Delaya.
"We'll leave after that..." She repeated weakly.
rush back into the main part of the castle, Sierra
pushed the double doors leading to Livia's balcony
open. She stood there, looking upward towards the
highest points of the castle. "El-Nay." She said.
"Can you use your jetpack to get us up to the
landing platform? We're running out of time. We'll
never make it if we travel through the castle."
*Now* you need me," El-Nay said, as she sauntered
through the Duchess' old bedroom. She stepped out
onto the balcony, raising her hand to the side of
her helmet to lower the targeting scanner over her
visor. It looked clear, but looks could be
deceiving. "Hang on," she said, as she took hold of
Kerrie by one arm and Sierra by the other. Bracing
herself she activated her jetpack, blasting them off
the balcony and sending them over towards the
landing platform. It was a much more graceful flight
than last time, and she managed to touch all three
of them down flawlessly. When it was done, she took
several steps away, and bowed at the waist,
extending her arms out behind in her flourish like
an entertainer waiting for applause. "See! I'm good
for something," she declared, unaware that an entire
squad of Stormtroopers was moving in behind her that
she could not see.
herself for a wild flight above a massive crevice.
She clung to El-Nay like a child. "Don't drop me...
please..." She whispered. "My husband *will* kill
you if you do." Sierra threatened playfully...or
not. To her relief, El-Nay performed incredibly. The
flight was easy. She wasn't thrown to the ground in
an uncomfortable heap of people either. Instead, she
landed on her feet calmly. She spotted the
Stormtrooper squad headed towards them. "Shit!
El-Nay! Fire your damn blaster!" Sierra's E-11 was
in her hands instantly. She began shooting
immediately. It was only a matter of time before
that bastard Papius knew that they had arrived. She
needed to get the device and hide with El-Nay and
Kerrie somewhere else. "Distract them! Rockets up
their asses! *Something!*" Sierra called out,
suddenly taking off in a jog towards the
Stormtroopers. She headed through them, continuously
shooting as to not get herself killed. She found her
device hidden within an empty cargo crate on the
platform. She grabbed it and hid it in her sack
before anyone else could see.
idiot," Kerrie said, as she raised her KYD-21
blaster pistol and began shooting over the bowing
Mandalorian at the Stormtroopers behind her. When
Sierra began running towards the Stormtroopers she
had no idea what she was doing, but she had no
choice but to run with her in order to keep her
safe. "I wish you'd tell me before you start
running," she said to Sierra, breaking her obedient
speech pattern as the blaster bolts went on either
side of her. "Do we have everything we need?" she
asked her, as she began returning fire against the
asked, as she turned around, seeing all of the
Stormtroopers. Instead of freaking out or becoming
scared she got excited. She raised her wrist
gauntlet and fired a rocket at the oncoming
troopers. When it impacted it sent a trio of
Stormtroopers flying into the air. She activated her
jetpack, sending herself into the air over Kerrie
and Sierra as she closed the range with the
troopers. When she landed, her other wrist was
quickly raised and a jet of flame shot from her arm
and began cook the troopers alive in their armor.
Beneath her helmet she was laughing hysterically and
smiling from ear to ear. *Finally*, she thought to
herself, as her hands moved to unholster her DT-57
heavy blaster pistol. "I hope they send more!" she
said to Sierra and Kerrie as she began shooting.
that..." Sierra wanted to get out quickly now. She
flung her sack over her shoulder. "That's all we
need. Let's get out of here." When she turned her
back, El-Nay was in the sky providing great
coverage. Thanks to her and El-Nay, it looked like
Sierra would make it back home in one piece. She had
no backup plans if the device didn't work, or didn't
show anything. Those thoughts surged to the back of
her mind. Another crucial part of the mission was
the getaway. She looked at the happy Mandalorian. "I
hope you've enjoyed yourself. Can you get us back
down to the ground?" Soon, the troopers were nothing
more than bodies on the ground. Another danger had
Papius Arundel was nearly down the mountain when he
began getting conflicting reports that the castle
was under attack. Could it be the Rebels that he was
expecting creating a diversion to get his attention?
If so, it had worked. The speeder began accelerating
up the mountain towards the castle, and when it
arrived he began moving towards the sight of the
battle with his personal guard. "I want them alive,"
he ordered his men, as they began moving towards the
landing platform. From a distance he could see three
individuals ... two blended in, but one wore a
distinct set of orange Mandalorian armor. That one
would be easy enough to track and identify.
soon?" El-Nay asked, as she began firing at the
reinforcements. "It looks like they're sending more
for me to play with!" she said, sounding excited, as
she was in no rush to leave. In her head she was
tallying her kills, but the newly arrived troopers
seemed to have more skill than the ones they had
earlier dispatched. Their blaster bolts were getting
closer, and they were avoiding the blasts she was
sending back at them. "Ok! Ok!" she said to Sierra,
as she began to withdraw from the battle towards
relieved that Sierra was *finally* ready to leave,
but as she looked out upon the troops she saw
Governor Arundel and remembered her promise to
Claudius. "Just a minute," she said, before she ran
out from cover. If only she had her rifle, she
thought to herself, as she raised her blaster pistol
at the man. She snapped back an aimed shot, before
return fire began forced her to return to cover.
"Let's go," she said to El-Nay, as she wanted to
complete one issue without getting wounded.
bolt impacted with Papius, but he took the blast in
the shoulder. It was painful, but he would live. He
staggered backwards, bringing his left hand up to
cover the wound, which immediately cauterized. He
took cover behind one of the large, decorative
columns that supported the overhang that led to the
landing platform. "Get them! Get them, you fools!"
he ordered, from beneath his hiding position. He
slowly slid down the column, until he was sitting on
the floor. The pain was excruciating and he
immediately vowed revenge. "Medic!" he angrily
called for, wondering who these people were, and
what they were up to.
to keep fighting, but when push came to shove, she
always did what she was told. She grabbed hold of
Sierra and Kerrie less gentle this time, bracing
herself and blasting off the landing platform as
they came under heavy fire. She began lowering them
towards the garage where they had left the speeder
bikes. She knew that this was not over yet ... they
still had to make it back to her starfighter and get
off the planet. "Did you get him?" she asked Kerrie,
sounding a bit jealous. She had strange priorities
at a time like this.
Papius Arundel was there. He stood, not even twenty
feet, from a woman who he had infuriated time and
time again. Now she was armed. While she continued
to shoot towards his personal guards, her eyes were
following him like she was a hungry predator. She
had told El-Nay and Kerrie to kill him. Instead,
*she* wanted that honor. She was glad that El-Nay
hadn't immediately pulled them out. It gave her this
golden opportunity. She looked to her side at
Kerrie, who had taken her command seriously. She
darted after the Clawdite, finding coverage to
continue firing ... this time at the Governor
himself. Sierra was so angry. Day by day, she
watched the man saunter around her and Claudius'
rooms, rubbing himself on all of their belongings.
He tortured their family from far away. It was *his*
fault that Delaya was in ruins! Her eyes were
trained on him, paying less and less attention to
those around him. She saw the pathetic man run and
hide. Sierra shot into the column. She shot the
medic that darted through the battlefield to try to
reach his superior. As adrenaline poured into her
brain, Sierra began to understand why El-Nay enjoyed
this so much. She wanted Papius gone.
She was slowly
destroying the column when El-Nay grabbed her. "No!"
Sierra snapped. "I'm not done with him!" Her neck
felt so hot. The adrenaline high was taking her to
the next level. Sierra was forced to stop shooting
her blaster once her feet were off the ground. "I'm
not... I'm *not* ..." He wasn't dead. El-Nay had
derailed her and now she was headed back to the
garage. Once her feet met the ground, Sierra
furiously mounted her speeder bike. She couldn't
believe she was retreating without killing *him*.
When Kerrie and El-Nay were ready, she kicked off
and started down the lone, cold mountain road. Her
heart ached. Angry tears stained her cheeks. Sierra
Rodney had failed to kill her enemy.
"Got a taste
for it, huh?" El-Nay asked Sierra, as she moved to
get on her speeder bike. She was not capable of
understanding the complex dynamics going on between
her and the governor. Her hand moved on the
throttle, accelerating her speeder bike out of the
garage and moving down the mountain path. "Race
you!" she said to Sierra and Kerrie, indicating that
she was not taking the situation seriously.
Kerrie did not
know the status of the Governor when she got on her
speeder bike, and she did not have time to answer
El-Nay's question. Between her aimed shot and
Sierra's furious barrage it was possible the man was
dead, but she always assumed an enemy was alive
until she saw a body. The whole trip to Delaya had
been foolish in her opinion, but she knew how
Claudius and Sierra felt about Livia, and given her
years of anguish not knowing what happened to her
parents she understood the motivations. For now she
was concentrating on getting down the mountain and
back to the Mandalorian starfighter. Given the
desperate nature of their escape she wished they had
taken a more reliable craft.
had a taste for killing horrible people like Papius.
She didn't engage El-Nay. In fact, it seemed like
she rode the slowest of them all. Like an upset
child, all she wanted to do was race back to Esseles
and hide with her husband. On Esseles, he had the
power to protect her from Governor Arundel. Despite
the chaos on the landing platform, the ride back to
the starfighter was calm. All three women boarded
the ship in one piece. There were *no* injuries.
craft had successfully taken off, Sierra turned her
attention to the device she had recovered. She
hadn't even bothered removing her armor. Her helmet
sat on the ground near her feet. She had not said a
word to either Kerrie nor El-Nay since leaving the
castle. She was focused elsewhere now. She spent
half the trip back to Esseles fiddling with the
device until she was able to get it in working
order. From there, she hooked it directly to her
datapad and began sifting through the footage. It
took very little time to find what she was looking
for. The Kwai sat on the landing platform on that
fateful day. She watched without blinking, as Livia
remained on the platform while the Kwai took off.
Sierra's heart thumped. She kept her eyes on the
woman. She expected her to turn around and dart back
into the castle. What she did... What she did...
replayed it. She watched it once, twice, half a
dozen times. "No..." She whimpered quietly. "No, no,
no!" She couldn't deny what she was seeing. These
were *her* devices, completely untampered with. She
watched Livia Rodney step over the railing and
plunge into the void over and over again. "No, no,
no." Sierra couldn't handle it. Livia Rodney really
was dead. She dropped her datapad on the ground. Her
head retreated into her hands where she began to cry
hard. All this time she had held onto hope only to
watch it jump off the landing platform. She felt
immensely guilty for not forcing the old woman
inside the ship. She had no idea how to tell
Claudius...let alone the rest of the family.
her hands to the simple metal helmet that sat atop
her head, pulling it off along with the veil that
covered her face. She let out a heavy sigh as she
watched Sierra's reaction ... she did not need to
look at the recovering to know what it showed. She
rose from her seat and moved towards Sierra,
wrapping her arms around her in a tender and
unexpected embrace. "I am sorry for your loss,
milady," she said quietly, as she moved her gloved
hand up and down Sierra's back in a further attempt
to comfort her. She had lost her own parents to the
Corellian Security Force some years ago, so in a way
she understood the pain that Sierra was feeling, and
that Claudius *would* feel. "Is there anything I can
do?" she asked her softly, as she hated to see
anyone in as much pain as Sierra seemed to be in.
over her shoulder from her seat at the controls of
the starfighter, unsure of what to do. She had a
relatively positive relationship with her mother,
Sarin, who was currently residing on Corellia in
semi-retirement. It looked like Kerrie had a good
handle on the situation and she worried that she
would just say something insensitive that would
further strain the situation. Now that they were
safely in hyperspace she felt herself begin to calm
down from the adrenaline rush of the battle on
Delaya, and her hands moved to the side of her
helmet to remove it. Little did she know that the
Governor was busy investigating her identity and her
problems were just beginning.
It hurt so
bad. Sierra had never loved her own parents. Her
father was neglectful. He spent little time at home,
for the obvious reason that is Rikka. Rikka herself
was a terrible woman. Livia had always made her feel
like she had somewhere she belonged. Kerrie was
comforting to her. Her arms quickly wrapped around
the woman. She weakly cried into her embrace. "She
was supposed to be here to see our son... This
*never* should have happened.." Livia's age hadn't
stopped Sierra from imagining a small Bruce sitting,
listening to her recount tales of the Rodney family.
That image had been so clear in her mind... and now
it was gone.
question floated in one ear and out another. She
couldn't stop the thoughts that were running through
her mind at the speed of light. She thought of her
husband, who would be wrecked by what she had seen.
Sierra's eyes went wide. She released Kerrie,
grasping the ISB device containing her mother's
suicide. She extended it to her with shaky hands.
"There is one thing I ask of you." She said in a
whimper. "You must destroy this. There can be
nothing left over. I...I..." She rubbed her forehead
with her hand. "My husband can *never* see this.
Hearing is one thing. Seeing is another. If it's in
our home, he will find it and he will watch it." She
needed Kerrie to agree to yet another favor. This
one was important...nearly as important as helping
her rescue Jelena.
understood immediately. She agreed there was no
reason for Claudius to have to watch the recording,
and when Sierra handed her the datadisk there was no
question that she would destroy it. Her hand wrapped
around the disk, closing on it firmly, which caused
a cracking sound to escape. When her hand opened
again the disk was fractured into a hundred pieces
and unreadable. Just to be safe, she placed the
contents in a pouch on her armor, vowing to
incinerate it at the first opportunity. "It is not
my place as a mere servant to say it, milady," she
said, as she looked her directly in the eyes. "But
you are a good wife to the Governor," she said, with
a smile, and a polite nod of her head. After all he
had been through she was glad he had found a woman
doing everything in her power not to ruin the moment
between Sierra and Kerrie. Despite all of her ill
manners she did, occasionally, know when to shut up.
It was then that she noticed a light beeping on her
control panel indicating they were receiving a
distress call. She brought her headset up to her ear
and listened to it twice to make sure she had it
right. She spun her chair around to face Sierra and
Kerrie, reluctantly interrupting the lovefest. "Do
either of you know an Iyah Xergo? We're receiving a
distress call from Delaya," she reported, not
knowing what to make of it.
watched, with great relief, as Kerrie carried out
her wishes. The datadisk was impossible to recollect
now. There were so many tiny, ity bity pieces. She
went the extra mile by keeping what was left. Sierra
didn't ask, understanding that it *would* be
destroyed. She started wiping the tears from her
cheeks and her eyes. There would be more to shed for
Livia once she returned to her family. However, it
was Kerrie's generous words that moved Sierra back
to tears. She appreciated it endlessly. Her love for
Claudius was immense. She'd do *anything* to make
his life just slightly easier. All of a sudden, she
snatched Kerrie into a second hug. "Thank you..."
She cried. Kerrie was the best kind of friend. She
silently vowed to place her back with the family as
soon as possible. It was right where she belonged.
ignored the distress call entirely until El-Nay
asked about someone named Iyah Xergo. Oh, that name
rang so many bells in Sierra's mind. "She's a Rebel
Commander. You've seen her before too." She
commented to El-Nay and Kerrie. "That's the one we
traded for Jelena... Was there any additional
information provided?" Sierra asked, releasing
Kerrie slowly. Her worries had shifted to the
living: Jelena. They weren't far from Delaya. She
could be there in a heartbeat...or, considering
El-Nay's ship, ten heartbeats.
remembered that night vividly. Despite the way the
Empire treated her people, she had no love for the
Rebellion for their involvement in Jelena's
struggles. In her mind they took advantage of an
emotionally vulnerable and confused teenage girl and
weaponized her daddy issues. "Let her rot," she
declared, going from sweet and loving companion to
cold blooded warrior in the blink of an eye. They
had no business aiding a Rebel anyway. They were
still Imperials, she reasoned, and they were at war
with the Rebellion. It was likely the woman needed
rescue from Imperial forces anyway. Regardless of
her hatred for Governor Arundel, he still
represented the Empire in that system.
El-Nay turned her attention back to the comm system,
desperately pressing the headset to her ear in an
effort to gain additional information. The Empire
had persecuted her people as well, forcing them into
servitude and effectively neutering them. She did
not share Kerrie's universal loyalty to the Empire,
or hatred for the Rebellion. "The same message keeps
repeating over and over," she reported to Sierra,
grimly. "I'm sorry. I don't have any more," she told
her, as she looked to her for instructions.
did have no business aiding a Rebel. Sierra was the
one tasked with making this decision...should they
return to Esseles or investigate the distress signal
on Delaya? She placed her head in her hands. If
Governor Arundel ever successfully captured Jelena,
she would be tortured to the highest degree. Saving
her would be extremely difficult. She couldn't risk
Claudius losing his first daughter *again*. El-Nay's
news didn't help make the choice any easier. "We
have to go back." Sierra stated suddenly. "That damn
Rebel is friends with Jelena. I cannot risk her
falling into the Governor's hands. This isn't a
matter of the Rebellion. This is a matter of
family." Her heart ached in her chest. It seemed
that she wouldn't be able to reunite with Claudius
as quickly as she might have liked. "We don't have
to stay long. Once we confirm Jelena isn't a part of
Xergo's group, we'll leave." She looked up at
Kerrie, hoping she understood.
there's nothing I can say to dissuade you, milady?"
Kerrie asked, as she listened to Sierra detail her
plan to return to Delaya. When she heard Sierra
mention the possibility of Jelena she knew her words
would fall on deaf ears, and that there was nothing
she could do but go along and attempt to keep
everyone alive. She backed away from Sierra and sat
back down in her seat, strapping herself in, and
looking forward. She had a bad feeling about this.
"Set a return course to Delaya," she ordered El-Nay,
as it dawned on her that they had gotten away too
easy. They were not the kind of people who were that
Delaya?" El-Nay repeated, rolling her eyes and
throwing her hands up in the air. "Fine, fine," she
said, as she rotated her chair forward to take the
controls again. The starfighter exited hyperspace
halfway between Delaya and Esseles while her hands
moved over the controls of the navicomputer to get
them headed back to Delaya. "I just want to point
out that this time they'll be expecting us, and
they're probably really ticked," she said, with a
small laugh, as the computer beeped indicating it
had the coordinates. She hesitated for a minute,
before her hand moved forward on the controls,
sending them back into hyperspace for Delaya.
A part of
Sierra wanted to turn her back on Delaya and scurry
home. There were new wounds to lick, and a husband
to inform of his mother's *suicide*. She didn't like
the idea of being gone longer than necessary.
Slowly, Sierra nodded her head. "You're right,
Commander." There was no changing her mind. She felt
sick in her stomach as El-Nay pointed the craft back
towards Delaya. "I know. We're going to have to be
very careful..." Her eyes closed. She needed to
clear her mind before they arrived in Delaya. She
had no idea what she was going to find. If Jelena
was captured, she didn't know what extent she would
go to save her best friend.