paced back and forth though the lower level
of the Rodney Estate. She had arrived
promptly in the morning to meet with Htaere
as she always did, but after waiting the
appropriate thirty minutes she was still
nowhere to be found. Assuming she must be in
her room, she proceeded up the spiral
staircase that led to the upper levels. She
stopped at the top of the stairs and
listened carefully, but heard not a sound.
"She has never slept this late before..."
she thought to herself and proceed down the
corridor toward Htaere's bedchambers. She
wrapped her knuckles around the door three
times and waited patiently for some sort of
response or acknowledgment. The wait lasted
several moments until her patience finally
subsided. Reluctantly, she pushed against
the door and it opened with ease. Her
mimicked Human face turned ghostly white as
she realized she was alone in the room.
Horrible thoughts began to run through her
head ... nightmare scenarios. Quickly she
rushed out of the room and across the
hallway towards the Admiral's suite.
She did not stop to knock, she did not wait
for permission to enter ... the matter was
too urgent. She forced the door open and
hurried into the room, but she soon stopped
herself ... an amazed look upon her face as
she spotted the Admiral and Htaere in bed
together. "Oh no..." Kerrie said quietly to
herself, realizing what she had done. Like
someone who just got their hand caught in
the cookie jar, she backed up quietly and
attempted to slip back out before either of
them could realize she had been
Htaere had been
lulled into a calm and passive rest, vague
dreams and dark deep REM sleep constituted
most of it. Whatever tugged her from the
soft grip of unconsciousness, her eyes
flickered open, taking a moment to focus
before narrowing slightly. She rolled
slightly from her side onto her back, her
head continuing to the side to take in the
still sleeping man beside her. With the
warmth of him beside her, it was never truly
lost on her where she was, yet at the same
time, it took a moment to gather her
bearings. Slowly she sat up, dismayed that
she was still in the same clothes she wore
last night. Glancing again at Claudius and
slipping the sheet further up on him, she
slid to the edge of the mattress and let her
feet drop to the floor. Grey eyes flashed
towards the door, noting it ajar. Bear feet
padded towards the threshold, she looked
about curiously. She came to a stop just
outside the doorframe, blinking down the
hallway in perplexion.
nearly escaped back to the staircase, but
froze like a deer in the headlights as she
heard Htaere's footsteps approached from
behind. She gritted her teeth firmly and
muttered quietly to herself, "damn it!" She
exhaled slightly and spun around on the
heels of her feet so that she was now facing
Htaere, her usual forced smile appearing
instantly upon her face. Taking an
apologetic, embarrassed tone she began to
apologize, "I am sorry, Milady. I should not
have intruded. I did not mean to wake you.
I was merely concerned by your absence." Her
cheeks flushed slightly and she lowered her
head slightly, genuinely embarrassed by her
a final glance towards Claudius before
pulling the door closed all but an inch and
moving towards Kerrie. "I am sorry. I did
not realize it was so late" she spoke in a
soft tone. She motioned down the stairs,
bare feet falling silently on the long
runner carpet that spanned from end to end
of the hallway. "Tea?"
it has already been prepared for you
downstairs, Milady," Kerrie explained
politely. She stepped aside to allow her
access to the stairway, the polite smile
plastered as ever on her face.
lovely" Htaere answered absently. She
stopped on one of the top steps and turned
to glance over her shoulder up at Kerrie.
"Would you care to join me? Claudius was
not feeling well and was up late packing. We
should let him sleep" she said
looked a bit confused ... why would the
Admiral himself and not one of his orderlies
be packing? Still, being what she was it was
a question she could not ask "Of course,
Milady," Kerrie said kindly, as she waited
for her to descend the stairs.
heaved a taxed sigh. "Please forgive my lack
of etiquette" she mumbled regarding her
wardrobe. She eased herself down the steps
towards one of the small parlors. Htaere
selected one of the soft couches to curl up
on, leaning heavily on the arm rest as one
of the attendants emerged with tea and
biscuits on an elegant silver tray. "Sit and
have some tea" Htaere smiled pleasantly
enough, though still a little groggy. She
felt completely naked being un-primped, yet
her comfort in Kerrie's presence barred her
self-consciousness from becoming a
obediently followed Htaere down the stairs,
and into the parlor. She looked around,
noting the amount of furniture that would
have to be created and brought aboard the
ship ... it would be a very difficult move
to coordinate and she was glad to have no
part in it. She nodded silently to Htaere
and took a seat opposite her. She crossed
her right leg over her left, and focused her
attention on the tea that had been prepared.
She fixed herself a small cup and drew it to
her lips, sipping in the manner of a
commoner, an audible *slurp* echoing through
Kerrie's more secular approach, Htaere
smiled. She contemplated various topics they
could talk about, and yet, she felt
uncompelled by any of it for reasons
unknown. Despite her pleasant disposition
and lovely smile, it was visibly an effort
to dodge something that ate at her. Her mind
still churned from the previous night's
episode. The silence was awkward but even
Htaere's penchant for social talent failed
"I hope the
move will not be too much of an ordeal for
you, Milady," Kerrie said, breaking the
silence in an attempt to make conversation.
She took another sip of the tea, with as
much ignorance of the rules of pleasant
society as the previous one.
"No, I do
not suppose it will be. I am not sure I
understand it, though Claudius seems unhappy
with the arrangements" Htaere's eyes dropped
to the cup of tea she held on the dainty
saucer. Finally she glanced back to Kerrie,
looking hopeful. "Will you be coming as
lowered her head for a moment as she
listened to Htaere convey the Admiral's
unhappiness ... she believed it was her
fault, but she was not sure if he had
conveyed that to her. "Yes," she said
quietly, wondering if the Admiral even had a
choice this time. "Yes," she repeated again,
mostly so she herself could hear it, "I'll
be going with you."
smile broke through, like a hefty sense of
relief. "Oh that is good then" she said.
Again Htaere made an effort to continue the
conversation, and again she failed. "I am
sorry. I am not myself today" she admitted.
"I am...preoccupied" she nodded slowly.
understand that, Milady," Kerrie said
quietly as she took another long sip of her
tear. "I feel as if we just got here..."
Kerrie said, slightly dejected, as her eyes
darted around the estate. She seemed to be
taking it all in, as it might be the last
time she saw it.
face took on a pensive hue for a moment.
"Yes, it does feel that way..." she
commented quietly. For a moment she was
quiet before a pleasant smile appeared.
"Perhaps it will be a better arrangement for
you. Claudius could use the rest as well"
she idealized, unclear as to whether the
transfer was a promotion or demotion.
Rodney slowly made his way down the
staircase, wearing a simple robe over his
undergarments. He had not showered, nor
shaved, and had an unkempt appearance that
was unusual for him. He held his right hand
against the side of his face, nursing the
hangover that was plaguing his morning. As
he stepped into the parlor where the two
women were, he squinted his eyes as they
came in contact with the light. "Ugh," he
groaned audibly as slid out a chair and sat
down at the table with the two. When he finally
realized his situation, he smiled politely
and addressed them, "Good morning, Htaere
concealed her amazement well. She had never
seen the man "behind the scenes" and it was
odd and fascinating all at once. Her smile
was genuine though. "Good morning." One of
the numerous attendants came shortly with
another delicate tea cup and saucer, setting
it front of him. "How do you feel?" Htaere
asked, an eyebrow arching.
raised the cup of tea to his lips slowly,
his hand slightly trembling. He took a quiet
sip of tea before placing it back down in
the saucer. He smiled briefly at Htaere
before answering the question. "I feel like
I have just been a shuttle crash," he
confessed quietly, as he gently rubbed the
side of his head.
Claudius. I will arrange to have your
packing done" Htaere replied. "The gardens
are very peaceful and soothing to the soul"
she added, nodding encouragingly.
a glance as the Admiral nervously, choosing
not to say anything. Their discussion the
night before had been rather ... unpleasant.
She did not even expect him to be there. She
raised the tea to her lips and took a
nervous sup of the tea, taking another
obnoxiously loud sip.
closed his eyes as he heard Kerrie sip, the
noise rattled his brain. He shot her a
quickly deadly glance before his attention
refocused on his own tea. "I will try and
relax this morning, my dear," he explained
to her as he turned his head towards Htaere,
"but I have lunch with my replacement and
then ..." he paused, taking a sip of tea,
"we should be departing the region."
winced a bit. For the sake of being polite,
she easily overlooked Kerrie's lack in
etiquette. Claudius, apparently, did not
share the same leniency. She made it a
personal goal to work with Kerrie and reform
her into something that could be taken out
in public. Htaere's chin dipped once,
inwardly pleased that he agreed to her
request, at least partially. "Very well. Is
there anything I can do for you to
facilitate your brief respite?"
meekly looked down at folded her hands
nervously in her lap. She was tremendously
uncomfortable as she had never dealt with
the Admiral in a situation like this, and
she felt as if her presence was unwarranted.
Still, she felt as if getting up and leaving
would cause a problem ... so she sat there
silent, unmoving, hoping to just go
presence is enough to soothe me, Htaere,"
Claudius told her as he reached for her
wrist with his left hand. He placed his hand
upon her wrist and lay it there gently, glad
to just be touching her slightly.
placed her other hand over his and gave it a
gentle squeeze. "Would you prefer later that
the Major and I take the girls ahead so the
movers can work unobstructed?"
my dear," Claudius said as he finished the
last of his tea. "But..." he continued in a
slightly more serious tone, "We should all
travel together. Where we're going is
nothing like where we are now. I believe we
may have to live aboard the ship."
expression slipped. "Oh..?" she blinked,
eyes vacillating briefly to Kerrie. "Where
exactly are we going?"
Claudius said slowly, not liking the sound
of it himself. "It is not glamorous and the
local population is not Human," he continued
to explain. He lowered his head slowly,
frustrated by the change in assignment.
locals dangerous?" Htaere asked casually.
She was distraught at the potential loss of
all sightseeing prospects.
Kerrie interjected quickly even though
Htaere was speaking to the Admiral. "It is
the homeworld of the Dugs ... a particularly
intolerable species. The pod racing and
gambling brings in all sorts of undesirable
elements as well ... it is no place for a
turned his head to Kerrie for a moment,
narrowing his eyes. He then smiled towards
Htaere, giving her wrist a reassuring
squeeze. "The Major is being overly
dramatic," he tried to reason with her, "I
can assure you it is perfectly safe."
bewildered gaze shifted between the two
again, unwilling to determine which was more
accurate. And experience had taught her not
to clarify between the two without starting
another war. Instead, she nodded slowly to
Claudius' endearing need for protection,
while inwardly acknowledging Kerrie's more
realistic 'street-smart' experience.
quarters aboard the ship, while not as
luxurious as this estate, nevertheless are
quite comfortable and quite livable,"
Claudius explained to Htaere, trying to
remove any doubts that might be lingering.
managed a tight lipped grin. For Claudius'
sake, she appeared collected at the idea of
living on the ship. Inwardly, it was
near-paralyzing...to spend hour upon hour,
day after day in the belly of the war ship,
sterile and unyielding walls to stare
at...no plants, no fountains, no warmth of
the sun. She also couldn't imagine what her
mother's reaction would be.
everything will be fine," Claudius said as
he took a hearty bite of his scone. Taking a
moment to swallow and clear his throat of
the crumbs, he smiled at her one last time
before rising from the table. "I'd better
get ready for my lunch appointment." He
leaned forward, placing a single kiss upon
her cheek gently. "I will see you tonight."