Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:8:8) in the Essesia system: Retributor.
Commander Kerrie Kiley, Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, Major Sierra Rodney, and Inquisitor Jessa Thrope.

"Finally!" Claudius Rodney groaned as his office cleared of the various officials who made up his sector command. He collapsed into the chair behind his desk, mentally exhausted. He said nothing ... he did nothing. He remained like this for a long moment before reaching across the desk for the bowl of starfruit. Unfortunately, rather than grasping a piece of fruit, he knocked the entire bowl onto the floor. "Damn it," he said, before lowering his head and bringing his hand up to massage his temple. For one who was in control on flimsiplast, never did he feel so powerless. "That man..." he said, referring to General Glin, as he closed his eyes and tried to focus himself and prevent getting himself too worked up to the point where his wife would have to call a physician.

The meeting had left Sierra's blood pressure sky high. She had falsely expected people to act with professionalism. She sat in a chair in front of her husband's desk drinking a glass of cold water. It had been a *long* day that started far too early. She could not stomach for General Glin to be in her face anymore. Sierra was staring out the viewport, clearly processing everything, when the sound of the fruit bowl hitting the ground brought her back to the moment. She blinked, then rose from her seat to collect the bowl along with each starfruit which had made its way across the floor. She placed them upon his desk. Instead of returning to her seat, she rounded his chair, reach over it, and began to rub his shoulders. "He's a piece of work, isn't he?" Sierra was enraged over what he had said. "Can you make him disappear? Is that an option?"

The shoulder rub was about the only thing keeping Claudius upright at the moment, as he replayed the events of the meeting. He had tried to be optimistic ... he had tried to motivate everyone ... but it had been an unmitigated disaster. When the bowl was placed back on the desk he reached again, but this time more carefully, and snagged his starfuit. He took a bite of it, savoring the fruit, before finally responding to her comment. "Piece of work doesn't begin to describe that man," he began, as he leaned his head back so he could stare up at her. "I wish I could, but that would only make matters worse," he said, as he let out a long, slow groan of displeasure.

She looked downward at her husband with a frown on her face. "I figured as much. Something tells me that wasn't the first time General Glin had a hard time keeping his mouth shut." Sierra continued to massage him affectionately. "Vice Admiral Raven is putting me into an uncomfortable position. I thought the liaison idea was a good one...I hardly expected him to nominate me. He seemed so confident that I'll take on the position, but Major Eona..." She sighed, "We can't afford Intelligence looking into our family." Her hands seemed to weaken briefly. The meeting had made her upset. "I thought our main goal was to defeat the Rebels, not to prey on each other and lose the war from the inside. *These* people...General Glin...they don't understand. The Rebels are unionized in a way that's very different from our side. If people don't start getting their shit together, we will lose. I won't see your sector become taken over by Rebels due to the super egos of people like General Glin."

"It would seem that our officer corps are more concerned with fighting amongst themselves than they are the Rebellion," Claudius confessed, with a great degree of frustration. "They do not view the Rebellion as a threat so they are still engaged in the pre-war posturing to improve their own careers and enhance their own branches, and if they can do that while simultaneously squashing their rivals they would gladly do so," he admitted, before stopping his little diatribe to take another bite of his fruit. "We will never defeat the Rebellion until they are viewed as the *real* enemy," he continued, as he tried desperately to think of a way to improve their situation. "You are the best qualified for the position, but I fear what would it mean for Imperial Intelligence to delve too much into our lives," he admitted, before closing his eyes and letting his head hang low.

Sierra made a low groan. It was all one big pain in the rear end...bigger than the pain she was feeling as a result of falling down the stairs earlier. She had no idea what it would take to snap people out of their matter, she wanted to help. She was his aide ... his *wife* was what she did. Sierra's hand gravitated towards one of his. She grasped it, motivating for him to rise and follow her towards the love seat where they could decompress close to one another. "We cannot allow that to happen. We have enough things to worry about in our lives without allowing Major Eona to run rampant with her research. We both know how Intelligence works." They would find something. If they didn't, they'd manipulate the information to make it look like something. Sierra sat down sideways and opened up her legs to give him a place to sit. "I wondered if we could appoint *two* liaisons. Tailon can primarily work with Eona and Glin. I'll work with Raven and you. That way, I won't need additional security access from Major Eona. What do you think?"

"I am fine with assigning Captain Tailon to deal with those we do not wish to deal with," Claudius said, as he opened his eye and reached for the datapad. He took hold of one and began reviewing the personnel file of the recently arrived ISB officer. He could not be sure that the man was not a plant from Colonel Zevrin. "I do not like the idea of subordinates dictating staff appointments," he continued, as he settled into the loveseat at the opposite end of his office. "Very well. We will expand the duties of your aide, but we'll leave you in a supervisory capacity. I won't let General Glin or Major Eona push you out," he continued, as his jaw clenched and his hands closed and opened repeatedly. His heart rate was elevated and his anger was intensifying. Being a Grand Moff was supposed to mean being able to cut through such bureaucracy, but it seemed to only magnify his problems.

"I know what you're thinking. I honestly don't peg the boy as a plant. He had some incident on the field that's left one of his legs damaged badly, hence he was assigned to me. He honestly thought I was the highest ranking ISB officer in the sector. I don't think there's enough evil in me for that to happen." She joked dryly. It seemed that they had found a good compromise. Captain Tailon would keep Major Eona and General Glin directly off of her back. "Thank you, my love. I appreciate you standing up for me against them in the meeting. I'm sorry I can't be more... *well*, whatever they want me to be." She could nearly feel his fast beating heart. She needed to calm him down before he gave himself an actual heart attack. She leaned forward to kiss his neck. "We have a resolution, so unwind with me." Her arms wrapped around him. "We can go to the lakehouse tonight." She suggested, "I'll make it worth your while..." She whispered into his ear. If that didn't stop him from obsessing over the meeting, then she didn't know what would.

"If you were what they wanted you to be I never would have fallen in love with you," Claudius informed her, as he reached over to her and placed a reassuring hand upon her leg. "The lakehouse? Now that's the best news I've heard all day," he said, as he reflected on everything that had happened. "It seems we could be having a power struggle in the estate as well between Ewwiekewwieikkie and Drusilla as to whom is in charge when we're away," he said, as there were many similarities between his personal life and his professional life. "You don't have to entice me, my love. I'm happy to follow you wherever," he said, as he leaned forward, placing his head upon her shoulder and closing his eyes.

"Mmm. I take it back. I'm not sorry." They could call her a whore all day and night. After talking with her husband, she didn't care anymore. For General Glin to lash out like that said a lot about his own life. The man was very small. Sierra didn't fear him. "Perhaps we can appoint Captain Tailon to liaison at home as well?" She suggested with a little snicker. Sierra had a problem with delegating work, and thus Tailon got the short end of the stick. She figured the promotion would get him off of her behind for work. Her head turned, placing three kisses on his cheek in rapid succession. "I'm glad to hear that. Let me entice you. You deserving spoiling every once in awhile, my love." Her hands rubbed up and down his back. Currently, she was attempting to entice him into falling asleep. "Nap time..?" She whispered.

"Does Captain Tailon understand Squibbish?" Claudius asked his wife, as he momentarily perked up, but then he decided he could not put his daughters through that. "No. Unfortunately it is on us to liaison with our children directly," he said, with a firm nod of his head. Although he was sure that the children would love to meet the one who enabled the construction of the pool. "Very well. You may entice me. I succumb to your pressure," he said to her, as he turned his head slightly so as to bury his face into her. "Nap time," he mumbled into her shoulder, as he attempted to dream of a world where they did not face such petty squabbling.

She laughed softly, shaking her head from side to side. "I doubt it. I didn't see that on his resume." Sierra was excited for their evening together ... and to sleep through the night and to a natural wake up. As her blood pressure crept downward, she became very, *very* tired. It only was a matter of minutes before she had fallen asleep cuddled up with her husband. She fell to that happy dream world and remained there for hours.

The otherwise silent atmosphere of Governor Rodney's office was interrupted by the sound of durasteel doors being forced open. Inquisitor Thrope stepped into his office. Immediately, the heat of her anger was recognizable even for people who were not Force sensitive. It felt like a wildfire had suddenly erupted. It was so strong that there was no use fighting it. Everyone in its way would need to focus on damage control. "Rodney!" She screamed. Her flaming eyes set their sights on the sofa where he was partaking in a midday nap with his wife. In one of Jessa's paws, she held a datapad. In the other, the curled hilt of her lightsaber. The blade was hidden, but that wouldn't remain true for long if the only man didn't start answering her questions.

Claudius' pleasant dream did not last long, and as he opened his eyes he was confronted with a nightmare. "Gaah!" he yelled at the top of his lungs, as he threw himself over his wife's body to protect her. "What ... what do you want?" he asked her, as he looked up from his position on the loveseat. It seemed they would not get a moment's peace today. Even his wish for a brief nap would not be granted.

That voice. That terrible voice awoke Sierra. She had no idea what was going on...all she knew was that *she* had arrived. Inquisitor Thrope had come for a visit. Fear began to radiate off of Sierra in strong waves. It was impossible to forget that Thrope had done. Her poor control over the Force had brought on Bruce's birth at the wrong time. They couldn't afford for something like that to happen again. There would be no chance of survival for the children growing in Sierra's womb. She clung to her husband. A helpless feeling overrode all of her emotions. There was nothing they could do to stop Thrope from doing whatever she wanted.

The Lepi paced unhappily in front of the love seat. The protective stance that he had fallen into was pathetic. However, today wasn't about inflicting maximum damage to the Governor. She was here for information. "I want you to tell me where you're hiding Kerrie Kiley. She's been a terribly bad girl. She's in trouble." Jessa's appearance had changed since the last time they saw her. Her left arm was in good condition but her right looked like it was attempting to recover from serious burns. Jessa flipped on the datapad, then slammed it down, *hard* on the coffee table next to them. "Your data on this man is wrong!" She yelled, pointing to Dagon Tong's file. "He isn't dead. Can a dead man do this!?" She lifted her arm then let it rise quickly. "Your little Clawdite *slave* knows about him. You can either tell me where she is, or I can *make* you tell me."

"She is right here," Commander Kerrie Kiley announced, as she entered the Grand Moff's office. She had not been invited to the meeting, but she nevertheless provided security for it. She had remained in her office directly across from Major Rodney's office until the Inquisitor had made her presence known. She moved past the Inquisitor to take hold of the datapad and examine the file. "Are you implying that Major Tong did this to you?" she asked, as she looked over the report on the man's death. She did not like being referred to as a 'slave', but at the same time she could not think of a better word for it. Now was not the time to argue semantics with an enraged Inquisitor. The presence of Major Tong in the Rebel cell would be explain why the Rebellion was having such success and were familiar with their tactics. She furrowed her brow as she considered this development, before moving to stand between the Inquisitor and the Grand Moff and his wife. Defending them was, as always, her first priority.

"What is this about?" Claudius asked, as he moved into a more decent position on the loveseat. Once he was situated he rose to his feet, adjusted his uniform in an attempt to straighten out the wrinkles, and looked at the Inquisitor from behind Kerrie, over her shoulder. "What is this? What are you two talking about?" he asked, vaguely remembering a Major Tong from when they first arrived at Brentaal. What he had to do with the Inquisitor bursting into his office and resuming her threats was beyond him, however, which caused him to attempt to view the datapad in Kerrie's hand herself. Studying it briefly he remember the Grallia incident and then-Major Zevrin's promise to handle it. It seemed she failed, per usual.

Her storm of rage turned towards Kerrie, who appeared right as she was readying to get physical with the Governor. Tong was taunting her from throughout the sector. She was convinced that every Rebel win was backed by that man. In too many ways, Jessa couldn't get him out of her head. She had been unfortunately short around Prav, who did nothing other than serve her faithfully. "Oh, I'm not *implying*. Tong did this to me in that cruddy Chandrila bunker that *you* led us into!" She shot at Kerrie. "I have since then gather some Rebel prisoners which I have used ... *persuasive* techniques to learn the identity of the man who did this to me. That man, is Dagon Tong." She shot a cold look at the Grand Moff. So far, he had not stood up against her so she felt no need to knock him down. "This man is bringing the Rebels wins. *Why*?! Because you were incapable of getting rid of him!" She said, now beginning to close the distance to Kerrie. "I was right to take your rank away. Your failures went far beyond what I saw in that bunker!" She spat, ignoring the Governor completely.

"I will not be blamed!" Kerrie snarled angrily, her cheeks flushing red with anger, as she glared back at the Inquisitor. "That was an ISB operation from start to finish. If you want someone to blame, look to Colonel Zevrin," she said, as she named the woman whom she hated more than any other. She was sick and tired of being spoken to in such a way, particularly after what the Inquisitor had done to her. She turned her attention to Grand Moff Rodney, as she remained in-between the two individuals. "Governor, if what she says is true then that would explain the tactical victories of this Rebel unit. Major Tong was legendary in the Imperial special forces community," she said, with a sigh, as she looked towards the ground. She now had a better understanding of what they were up against, but that did not mean she knew how to defeat it.

"This bickering is pointless," Claudius said, as he reached out to attempt to calm Kerrie. He was worried she was going to run her mouth right up until the point the Inquisitor began choking her. "It does not matter what happened back then. It matters what we're going to do about it *now*," he added, as he looked towards the Inquisitor. "His image must be plastered everywhere. A price must be placed on his head so large that every hunter in the galaxy will come for him, or maybe someone close to him, war weary, will sell him out. Not just credits, but a full pardon for anyone who brings us information," he added, as his brain raced with ideas of how to deal with this. "Traitor..." he muttered, as she shook his head in anger. He then looked for his wife for reassurance, which was a commodity he needed very badly right now.

Jessa had poked the bear. At last, Kerrie began to strike back. She proved that she wasn't the pathetic weakling that Jessa had made her in her office. "ISB, you say? Excuse me." She lifted her paw, pushing both Kerrie and the Governor to the side in a surprisingly gentle manner. She sat on the loveseat beside Sierra Rodney. "You're the only one who dares where that uniform this this room." She observed, pawing her white tunic. "I want to know where this Arden Zevrin woman is. If she shares a hand in this mess, I will make her pay too." Inquisitor Thrope growled. "The traitor you allowed to slip through your fingers has hurt me very badly. Whichever of you is truly responsible will pay." Her eyes flickered towards the Governor. He could plaster Tong's name on every blue milk carton in the galaxy, but Jessa suspected he would never find anything. That man was not stupid. He was covering his tracks, working in the shadows, and getting away with it. Even Jessa, an Inquisitor, had no idea how to find him again. She hoped by learning enough about him, she might be able to predict his next move and find him.

The name 'Dagon Tong' meant nothing to Sierra. By the way everyone was responding to him, she could tell that this guy was serious business. She heard Inquisitor Thrope mention Chandrila...a place where the Empire was failing to chase out the Rebels. She felt Claudius had a good plan. There were plenty of bounty hunters out there who would be lured in by the reward. Her eyes met with his, offering him a little smile. She believed in him...believed in his ways. What she did not believe in was Inquisitor Thrope, who had settled in on the loveseat next to her. "Inquisitor..." She said. Her body visibly tensed when the Lepi touched her. Sweat began pouring off of her. She had never felt as scared as she did around Inquisitor Thrope. She knew where Zevrin was. She thought of the possible repercussions that could come from her rushing to Delaya. If she did not find Zevrin, would she turn her rage on Marcus and Zara? Sierra bit her lower lip.

Inquisitor Thrope's paw continued down to rest on Sierra's stomach. "I heard the news. Congratulations." She flexed her paw. "Do you think Lord Vader will take this child too?"

"Take your paws off her!" Claudius snarled, as he moved towards the Inquisitor and his wife. "My wife was not yet a member of the ISB when these events occurred," he explained, as he considered her request. In good conscience he could not send the Inquisitor to Delaya to avoid the risk of harm to his brother and his family. There was also the very reas possibility that Zevrin could enlist the Inquisitor's aide in her tireless campaign to punish him. No, it would have to happen here where he could at least monitor the situation. "If it is Colonel Zevrin you want then I will instruct her to return," he explained to her, as he watched her paws. He would not breath easy until the Inquisitor was a safe distance away from her.

The old man was bold. Jessa slowly began to pull her paws away from Sierra. She rose from the loveseat where she attempted to stare Claudius down. The problem was, Jessa was very small. She was over a foot shorter than him and couldn't manage to be quite as physically menacing as she wanted to be. "You'll do that *immediately*." Jessa ordered. "If Zevrin isn't here in a few days time..." She tossed a look towards Sierra. She didn't need to voice her threats. The Grand Moff had a lot of weaknesses; his wife, his children. She wondered if she could use Kerrie against him. "Send for me when she is here!" With that, the Inquisitor turned on her heel and departed from his office. She had wasted enough time chasing a lead in Kerrie. Only Zevrin could provide her with real answers.

Panic settled in to Sierra the moment Jessa's paw met with her stomach. Flashbacks to the fateful day Jessa had come aboard the Retributor passed through her mind rapidly. She couldn't breathe. She couldn't fight. All the while, the room filled with her sweet sense of fear. It was Claudius, her protector, who stopped the Inquisitor's tormenting with a compromise: Arden Zevrin would be returning to the ship. When the Inquisitor finally left, Sierra realized there were tears streaming down her cheeks. Jessa had a special way with her. The children had survived. She and Claudius had survived. She wordlessly rose from the loveseat and wrapped her arms around her husband. Her body was shaking.

Claudius watched as first the Inquisitor and then Kerrie departed his office and he was once again allowed to be alone. He wrapped his arms around her, his own body trembling from the close encounter with the Inquisitor. He would never forget what she had done to his wife ... what she had tried to do to his son. "She's gone now," he told her, as he brought his hand up to the back of her head to cradle her against him. "Let's get down to the lakehouse before anyone else bothers us," he told her, as he lowered his head and placed a kiss upon her.

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