Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
718 years before the Battle of Yavin (683BrS:1:19) in the Alderaan system: Alderaan (Aldera: Royal Palace and Triplehorn mountains).
Raeni Corliss, Count Sierrus Dakkar, and Baron Germanicus Rodney (Darth Crassus).

Aldera. The shining city at the heart of Alderaan and, in many wards, the Galactic Republic itself. A peaceful planet whose unblemished terrain provided a lush backdrop to the majestic city that seemed to spring out of the natural beauty of the world. The wondrous views did much to conceal the rot that lay beneath. The old King was nearing the end, with no heir in sight, and the various houses of the minor lords were plotting and positioning themselves to seize the throne. Civil war was a real possibility, but there was talk the Republic Senate and the Jedi Order would never allow it to go that far. There was talk of a mediator being sent.

Germanicus Rodney was one such lord, holding the title of Baron, which was comparatively low compared with some of the more prestigious houses like Organa and Antilles that were vying for the crown. As he was unmarried and childless his candidacy was almost an afterthought. He wanted to use the force to secure his candidacy, but his master had forbade it, much to his consternation. Today was the day that was all going to change, starting with the introduction of Raeni to court life. A young wife would go a long way to showing the other lords that an heir would be in sight. "Remember, say nothing," he said to her, as he made a final adjustment to her dress. Satisfied that she was as good as she was going to look, he nodded to the chamberlain to announce him. "The Honorable Baron Germanicus Rodney," the chamberlain announced, stomping the base of his staff three times to announce him. As he was about to take his first step he realized that was the first time the girl would have heard his name ... and his title.

The motives of Germanicus Rodney had remained a mystery to Raeni. She saw him making her prim and proper for the court. To please him, she amused his motions and prettied herself up much more than she ever had. It took so much time to ready herself. Between her hair, placed in an updo, her makeup, soft and accentuating, and her clothing, a gorgeous light blue gown, Raeni realized that she could say good bye to life inside of a spice mine. She looked as good, if not better, than other women in court. Her soft features made it easy for her to manipulate people into believing she was something she wasn't.

Alderaan was a breathtaking planet. From first glance, she wanted it all to herself. She wanted to run rampant in the plush, green grass. Instead, Germanicus pointed her nose to court. They stood together with him adjusting her dress. "I know...stop it!" She used her hands to swat his hands away. She had spent *hours* preparing herself. If she didn't look perfect now, she never would. Raeni stood beside him, smiling in a soft, ladylike way. Now she knew his name. Now she knew *who* he was. She assumed that his title had a great deal to do with their end goals. She gave him a knowing side glance. They would have to talk about it later. "It's Raeni Corliss," she told him in a whisper, revealing her own name. If he intended to make her a main player in his game, he needed to let her in on the rules. She stepped forward with him. Her hand was positioned delicately on his wrist. He had taken her into a place of discomfort. Her silence was welcomed.

"Hello! What have we here?" asked the lecherous voice of Count Sierrus Dakkar, one of the contenders to inherit the Alderaanian crown. He moved swiftly towards Germanicus and Raeni, as he never missed the opportunity to greet one of the young ladies brought to court. Without asking, he took her hand, and bowed at the waist to her. He finished the move by placing a kiss upon her hand while rolling his eyes up to smile at her. "She's lovely, Germanicus. Where have you been hiding her?" he asked him, while staring at her. "I have to tell you, being unmarried at your age and spending so much time away from court we were beginning to wonder where your interests lay. Every time a young man disappeared in the city we wondered if it might have involved your love life," he said, cutting him with a verbal dagger, all the while still maintaining his grasp on Raeni's hand. She was hard to let go of.

No sooner had they arrived were they being accosted by a lecherous man with a grip made of steel. She nodded her head deeply to the man to show respect. Her lovely smile remained pleasant as if she was actually happy to meet with this man. She laughed softly at his lame, terrible joke. The man simply wouldn't let go of her. She tried to casually withdraw her hand, but found it to be stuck in the sweaty palm of his hands. "Oh, it isn't like that at all." She worked out the accent in her voice. "Germanicus has been kind to me while I was attending to my mother on Serenno." She lied to the man. "I wasn't able to leave her side while she was ill. In her final months, my *fiancé* spent most of his time with us." She looked up at him with gratitude and love in her eyes. She disliked the verbal daggers this man was throwing. She thought it would be lovely to force him to do something ... colorful.

Germanicus looked to Sierrus, boiling beneath the surface, but on the exterior he maintained a calm and collected appearance. He knew that he could tear the man apart with a mere thought, but in this society Sierrus was a Count and he was but a mere Baron. Before he could say a word, Raeni had unleashed a cover story that she had not cleared with him. He had told her to say nothing, but she had seemed to say everything. This, too, provoked no reaction in the man, but he simply took Raeni by the hand and led her away from Sierrus. "Excuse us, Lord Dakkar," he said, with a reverential nod of his head. The man held a position of prominence on his list of enemies who would need to die for him to ascend to greatness. He brushed past two members of the Alderaan Guard, as he took her into an alcove alongside an opening that looked out onto the serene landscape that surrounded the city. "I told you to say *nothing*!" he scolded her, raising his hand and pointing his index finger at her. "What if he investigates on Serenno?" he asked, as he looked back towards the great hall where other lords were congregating. "And ... fiancé?!" he asked, rolling his eyes and looking skyward. "Awfully sure of yourself, aren't you?" he said, before he looked at her naked fingers. "I suppose now you'll want a ring too, huh?" he asked, as he turned towards the opening to breath in the fresh air. He was flustered. He had to gain control over his emotions before going back in there.

There was no way she could remain silent. It was more suspicious that he have a deaf idiot on his arm than one that spoke. She was sidelined nearly immediately. She, too, began to feel angry and flustered. She couldn't appreciate the beauty of Alderaan when she was currently being reamed out. "What if he does?! We'll go to Serenno and *make* the story true." Her eyes remained on him. She wasn't pleased that he had thrown her into the deep end by not preparing her for court. With a growl, she turned towards the landscape. "I'm not sure of myself. I'm sure of what *you* need. If you desire power among these *people*, you're going to need a lot more from me than my hand in marriage." Raeni snapped. "The very first thing he attacked you about was not being married. Do you blame me for coming to your defenses?" She glanced down at her fingers and began to laugh. "Yes. A big, fancy one too. I want to be able to show off to all my new friends in court..." She looked back at him. She could already feel the explosion that would occur as soon as they were at home and behind the force shield.

"I can defend *myself*!" Germanicus snapped back, loudly, as he lost his temper. The noise reverberated throughout the chamber and caused them to get quite a bit unwanted attention. Sensing this, he lowered his head and grit his teeth tightly. He raised his hand, placed it against her shoulder, and led our out onto the balcony where they had more privacy. He moved towards the railing of the balcony, gripping it firmly, as he leaned his head firmly. There was a gust of wind that was not natural in occurrence as a majestic thranta settled on the balcony beside him. It served to steady him, and he raised his hand towards the side of its head. Once again it appeared he was communing with it. It was clear that he was a beast master. The creature's calming influence on him was evident, as he needed the time to process what Raeni had just done. "Fine. We will find you a ring," he said, but his attention was still focused on the thranta rather than her.

His outburst seemed to break through all other noise. People began to murmur and look in their direction. They quickly made their exit to a balcony where Raeni could breath fresh air, and not the pompous air of nobility. Her hands met with the railing on the balcony. She needed a moment to compose herself for her second dose of the court. The gust of wind came from nowhere as a wild beast settled on the balcony near Germanicus. Her eyes went wide. She recalled seeing these very same creatures in Delaya. They were beautiful and swift. All at once, Raeni felt the tension inside of her release. "I'm sorry." She gave in. "This is all very new to me. You aren't exactly excelling at communication either. I learned your *name* ten minutes ago." She sighed. "What kind of creature is this? I've never seen anything like it. It's. . . it's gorgeous." She didn't feel the confidence with animals like he did. He seemed to be attempting to touch it. Raeni kept her hands on the railing while looking longingly at the beast. She'd like nothing more than to climb on its back and fly away.

"This is a thranta. It is the symbol of my house," Germanicus told her, ignoring her apology and her truthful statement about her poor communication. He wanted to speak about the creature, who he was keenly in sync with. He had been a troubled boy who had spent more time in his youth among animals than humans, which gave him the poor reputation he had developed at court. He was more comfortable here with the beast than he was in there with his own species. To him humans were far more difficult to understand ... and control ... than his wilderness friend. "You may touch it," he told her, as he stepped out of her way to give her greater access to the creature. "There are some among my people who have mastered the art of riding them. Acrobats and circus performers mostly..." he said, not yet revealing the full control he had mastered over these beasts. In time he might show her, but he was very cautious about what he shared. He had just met her and was very slow to trust ... and as she would discover there were good reasons.

"A thranta..." The symbol of House of Rodney. Perhaps fate had interconnected them more than either of them could truly realize. She didn't move until he gave her permission to touch it. Still, she showed some caution. He was not pleased with her. An unfortunate thranta incident could wipe his slate clean once more. She stepped towards it, reaching a single hand out. Her fingers spread as she slowly rested it on top of the thranta's head. Her eyes lit up. A true smile began to form on her lips. Her other hand lifted, touching the thranta elsewhere on its head. Her movements were calm and careful. She had no idea how much control he had. She didn't want to scare the beast. Her eyes remained on it the whole time. "Really? Can *you* ride one? You seem to be talented with animals." Her hands pet over the thranta's head. She felt a connection to the beast, though it was nothing like the one Germanicus possessed.

Germanicus' head slowly moved from Raeni to thranta and back again. Riding a thranta was hardly the conduct of a nobleman, and if anyone saw them it could prove quite the scandal. As he heard laughter coming from the great hall, he decided he did not want to go back in there. He raised his hand and the thranta lowered his head obediently. Germanicus climbed up, standing on the narrow railing of the balcony, before climbing on top of the back of the thranta. He reached his hand out to Raeni, with some apprehension. "Well don't just stand there, girl," he told her, as he kept his focus on the world around them to make sure no one discovered what they were up to.

The girl had no idea if she was ready for a second round in court. It wasn't her intention to further infuriate him. She would prefer to spend her time out on the balcony learning more from him about thrantas. It was more beautiful of a beast than any on her home planet. He answered his question in the way that's typically louder than words: actions. Her hands left the beast as he climbed up on the thin railing and onto its back. She made no move to join him until he invited her aboard it. Then, her hand touched his and she, too, carefully made her way onto the thranta's back. She sat behind him. Excitement pumped through her veins. She was sitting on *it*! She was preparing to ride it...or die trying. Her hand briefly ran over the top of the thranta's wing before she decided it was time to wrap her arms around his waist and hold on tight.

Germanicus did not ask her if she was ready, nor did he prepare her in any way. If she did not adapt to her surroundings then she was not the one he needed. Before she even got situated the thranta dove from the balcony of the royal palace and descended towards the city below. Just before crashing into the ground it swept upward over the buildings and headed towards the undeveloped greenspace beyond the city. He looked over his shoulder to look if she was still hanging on, wondering if he had made the wrong decision in letting her into the most personal and private aspects of his life. The green below gradually gave away to rocks and before long they found themselves on the distant snow-capped mountains beyond the city where the thrantas went to rest. It landed in a nest with other thrantas, including hatchlings, and eggs that had yet to unhatch. He leapt down onto the rocks, taking a seat that overlooked Aldera and the royal palace. From how naturally he took to the area it was clear that it was familiar to him. He had been here many times before ... but always alone.

Her rear end hadn't even hit the back of the thranta when, very suddenly, it took off. She squeezed Germanicus' waist tight at first. Soon thereafter, her grasp loosened back to comfortable. They were *flying*! Her head beat hard like a drum inside of her chest. Her hair had come down in the heavy gusts of wind. Now the wind pushed through it, making her feel all the more *free*. Her feelings exhilarated and attempted to bleed onto him without her control. The moment she killed the Hutts who had hurt her for the entirety of her life wasn't the moment she realized it was free. It happened on the back of the thranta, over the buildings within the city. She took in everything around her. Not an ounce of fear could be felt after the take off. She didn't realize how person a domain she had wandered into. Whether she deserved to be there or not remained to be seen. At the moment, Raeni was experiencing the highest high of her life.

Eventually city turned to untouched nature and beyond, where the thranta finally landed. She sat on top of it, looking down over the other thrantas, both big and small. There were untouched eggs. Soon, this thranta would fly with her children. She showed extreme caution in removing herself from the creature's back. She didn't join him right away. Instead, she stood in awe over how beautiful it all was. Her mind had been refreshed. She was ready to bend at his will.

Finally, she settled closely beside him. The feelings of great happiness continued to reverberate off of her body. Her hand landed on top of his in the briefest moment of affection. "Thank you for taking me here." She whispered.

No one had ever thanked him before, in that moment he felt the call to the light. The weakness came over him, as he moved his arm around the beautiful young girl. Inside of him he felt something stir that was unfamiliar to him. He wanted her, and he slowly leaned his head in towards her, intending to kiss her. But before he could connect his lips to hers he heard the voice of his master inside of his head. He pulled his face away from her and rose suddenly, bringing both of his hands to the side of his head dramatically. The noise was too much ... the compulsion to obey was overpowering. He let out a loud cry of pain and anguish as he pulled at his hair, looking like an insane person as he staggered along the rock face. He took the wrong step forward and went over the side of the cliff, nearly tumbling to his death on the jagged rocks below. At the last minute he was able to grab hold of the cliff with his hand, torn and blooded from the ordeal. He looked up wondering if she would help him or let him fall. He debated calling out for help, but he had never done that before, and he would not start now.

Raeni was looking out over the land from the cliff on the mountain. His arm came around her all of a sudden. It aroused feelings inside of her that she hadn't felt before. She had always been *alone*. There were times when even her mother would use her as a shield against the Hutts, yet she continued to devotedly love the woman. She had never felt connected to another human being until that moment. She leaned into his arm, quickly making up her mind that she could follow his lead next time in court. Her head tilted towards him. He'd begun to move in. She was ready to share a kiss with him. Her eyes were half closed. Her lips were just beginning to pucker, but the kiss never came.

In fact, he withdrew entirely from her. He was standing, looking terribly sick. "What is it?" She stood up. Did his head hurt? Had it taken too much out of him to transport them along on the thranta? She stood back, unsure of how to help him. He was in pain! "Germanicus!" She cried out in warning before he fell over the side of the cliff. Oh no! She quickly darted to the cliffside and looked down. He was *there*, teetering at the edge between life and death. Raeni felt no debate regarding if she should save him or not. He'd taken her away from a terrible place. Now she would do the same to him. Leaning over, she grasped one of his injured hands and then the other. She pulled back with all of her might. "Ughhh!" She didn't know if she had the physical strength to pull him up. His weight seemed to be immense next to her body...a body that was still recovering from her old life. She clenched her teeth tightly together. Using all of her might, she dragged his body back onto the mountaintop with her. Raeni breathed heavily, staring at him. "What. . . What just happened?"

As Germanicus was dragged back to safety, he found himself withdrawing further from her, despite the fact that she had just saved her life. "It was nothing," he said to her, unwilling to reveal to her that he had a master, as he was afraid she might leave him for him. It was clear to him that his master wanted a new, more powerful apprentice, and it was also evident that his master could be a far better teacher to her than he could at this point in his training. Bringing them together would be *dangerous*. "Sometimes ... sometimes my head hurts," he said, as he reached down to grab a rock. He held it in his hand for a moment, before throwing it at the mountainside, causing it to shatter into a hundred thousand pieces. "We're going," he said to her, before he moved back towards the thranta, climbing upon its back with no elegance this time. He had been injured and fatigued. The time for flirtation and showing off was over.

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