Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:5:1) in the Essesia system: Esseles (New Calamar: Claudius Rodney's estate) and Retributor.
Grand Moff Claudius Rodney and Commander Sierra Rodney.

Sierra Rodney was having one hell of a time. The young woman had tossed and turned while she attempted to sleep. Nightmares of the Cathar plagued her. She couldn't stop remembering the intense pain that the cat girl had put her under. It was the first time when she swore she was going to die. In her nightmares, Jelena wasn't there to save her. She had to endure every painstaking moment while the Cathar's claws ripped Sierra into two. Having woken up sweaty and sick, she rose from the bed and moved up to the observatory on the top floor in the house she shared with her husband on Esseles. As TIE fighters flew by, Sierra began to doubt everything. It was clear to her that she couldn't provide Claudius with some fairytale happy ending. She wondered how much of what had happened was her fault. *She* had persuaded him to become the Duke. *She* was responsible for them remaining on Delaya. Gaius and his daughter would have never kill the Emperor's advisor if not for *her*. Between her hands, she held a datapad which was playing a slideshow of images from the last three months. Her wedding. Her step daughter. Her new life. Her *son*. She wanted the best possible life for her family. To what extent would she go to give it to them?

The greatest extent, that was the answer.

She needed to delve deeper into her arrest warrant. She couldn't be a burden to Claudius forever. The young woman rose. She placed the datapad on her seat. It was time to take action and shape the future.

The Retributor was quiet. It was late in the evening. Most normal cadets had retired to their private quarters to sleep. Sierra Rodney had planned her mission very carefully. She purposely did not take her husband's Kwai shuttle, instead, she hijacked a TIE fighter. At the very moment, Sierra Rodney looked *bad*. She realized what would happen if she was captured, especially if it was Arden Zevrin herself who caught her rooting around her office. Nonetheless, she pursued the woman's office in the apparel of a cadet...not an ISB officer. Her hat aided in keeping her identity a secret. It was her intentions that she would cover her tracks by removing all video containing herself.

Breaking into Arden Zevrin's office was easy enough. She had figured out the code specific to her door by watching her from afar. Even that information would find itself erased before Sierra turned her tail towards home. As soon as she stepped into Arden's office, she felt a chill over her back. The door closed behind her automatically. She had arrived in the hornet's nest. From here, Zevrin had orchestrated so much evil. Sierra stared at the screens. One live feed showed her husband's office, which was currently empty. Another showed the bridge of the ship. The various feeds made her sick to her stomach. They were never safe here. The very first thing Sierra did was erase all trace of her existence that evening from Arden's eyes that never closed. She wiped out the latest entry on her door's keypad with a device she had brought in. Zara may have been the slicer in the family, but Sierra was learning her own little tricks.

Arden had so many files. Sierra worked through her office in search of her own. She was forced to pass over Claudius' while wishing she could change everything for him. Her own file warranted more information than she liked. Arden knew all about her academy days. She also spotted a picture of her and Claudius from their first meeting. All in all, she found nothing. As a depression settled in over her, she noticed a datapad on her desk. *Noooo*, that was too easy. She leaned over the desk, prodding at the datapad. A note atop of it put the pieces together for Sierra. It simply read 'Claudius Rodney Project'. That was her codename...

Instead of taking the datapad, she transferred its data to another. She needed it to look like she had never been there. Anxiety settled in the longer it took for everything to copy. At long last, Sierra was ready to leave. As a final act of safety, Sierra used a tiny reception jammer to briefly jam the ISB devices that were placed within the general vicinity. It gave her the time to scurry back to the TIE fighter. She didn't breath again until it was tucked away inside the base near her home.

There she was, back inside of the observatory. It was so quiet within her home. It was contradictory to how it was during daylight hours when Ewwie made so much noise. The datapad housing the stolen data had been set aside. She had yet to review the information. She worried that Papius may have manipulated events even worse than she suspected. Instead, she was looking at family photos again. Her heart had sunk far into her stomach. One of her hands idly ran over her stomach to soothe her upset baby. Bruce had moved more than she had ever felt tonight. Even now, she could feel the most gentle flutters of...whatever he was doing. She didn't know if she could get herself to look at the datapad. There was a possibility that the information on it would *wreck* the love of her life, or provide him with reasonable doubt, or *something*. She rolled onto her side, drawing her knees as close to her chest as she could manage. Now that Claudius was in her life, being alone felt so *cold*.

Claudius Rodney was exhausted now that he was back at work full time aboard the Retributor. Now asleep in his bed in his estate on Esseles he had slept through Sierra's departure, but what ultimately woke him was the sound of Ewwiekewwieikkie crying on the refresher down the corridor. "Oh no," he said, thinking he was speaking to Sierra, but when he moved his hand towards her he felt nothing. This awoke him instantly, causing him to sit up suddenly in the bed. He swung his legs over the side of the bed and rose to his feet, moving quickly towards the refresher to see if she was in there. When she was not he checked to see if she was already helping Ewwiekewwieikkie, but not finding her there either he began searching downstairs to see if she was fixing herself something to eat in the kitchen. She was, after all, pregnant. He was beginning to look out of places to look when he ascended the stairs first to the level where the bedrooms were, and then up to the third level with the observatory. It was there that he found his wife, distant and withdrawn, and he moved slowly towards her. "Still thinking about the conversation with Grand Moff Praji?" he asked, unaware of her infiltration mission, as he moved near her. "You need not worry. He won't act on that report. Not as long as we let him have his 'victory'," he pointed out, as he sat beside her, wrapping an arm around her.

They had been finding gems and jewels of various sizes throughout the house over the last few days. Even now, Sierra had a gem in her pocket. She was beginning to wonder if they needed to get Ewwiekewwieikkie in for an ultrasound to find out how much more remained inside of her stomach. She was nearly in tears when her husband promptly scared the life out of her. She let out a little yelp, staring at him with wide eyes. How were people constantly sneaking up on her today?! Her face grew soft again, then sad. She inched close to him when he sat with her. She propped her head up on his leg. "There's so much on my mind, my love. Grand Moff Praji is the tip of the iceberg." She admitted. "I retrieved the information we need. Don't worry, I was careful and I took all necessary precautions." She pointed towards the datapad that remained untouched. She rested the one she had been clinging to on his thigh. Their happy memories cycled over and over again. "I have no idea what information we'll find there. Surely more bad news for us." Sierra spoke bitterly.

"Do you ever look at your life and notice that it's becoming increasingly more and more difficult with my presence?" She asked him. "I'd like nothing more than to give you the world, eliminate your enemies, and present you with some carefree, lovely life. Instead, I told you to become Duke. I allowed myself to grow comfortable on Delaya until I didn't want to go back to the Retributor. Your absence...everything that's's my fault. It's my fault for ever giving into Zevrin and walking into your office with the intent of manipulating you. That was *me*." Sierra's face turned away from him. She could feel the tears coming. "You're a good man. You don't deserve *this*."

Claudius was alarmed by the news that she had taken it upon herself to infiltrate Arden Zevrin's office, but based on the emotional reaction she was having he knew now was not the time to chastise her for taking the risk. "Whatever information is in there we'll get through it together," he told her, as he took her into his arms and did everything he could to physically and verbally reassure her. "It is the galaxy making all of our lives more difficult, my love. We live in turbulent, uncertain times. It is not just us ... as the Rebellion spreads throughout the galaxy their wanton destruction and disrespect for order is making life difficult for everyone," he said, still in naive denial about the nature of the Rebellion against the Empire. "You already have given me more than I could ever want," he said, as he leaned forward and placed a kiss upon her while simultaneously placing his hand upon her stomach to indicate he was speaking about their son. "Nothing is *your* fault, Sierra. I am my own man and the decisions I make are mine and mine alone. The life I have with you ... and will have with our son ... is what I deserve and I *will* have it," he told her, before placing another kiss of longer duration and increased passion upon her lips. His hand moved to her face to try and wipe away her tears before they even began. He did not want to see her like this. He loved her, and blamed no one but himself for his problems.

He swore to her they'd get through it together. Sierra clung to those words. It wasn't irrational to think that Papius could make a convincing case against her. If she lost Claudius within the waves he caused, she would never be the same again. Her arms wrapped around his neck as he took her into his arms. She found as soon as she was there, that this was the place she needed to be. The tension inside of her chest began to release. Even their son began to calm within her womb to the sound of his father's voice. They kissed, further deflating Sierra. She knew how much he loved her and their son. He'd waited his whole life for *this*, hadn't he? They were a handful of months away from seeing the result of their work. Neither one could fold at this point. She remained silent, her lower lip quivering. His words silenced the crazy, sporadic voice in her head. She wanted that life too. She couldn't envision a future without him. She poured herself into their second kiss. The love she had for him was so intense. She had never thought of herself as capable to produce such a strong emotion, but Claudius was a man who proved her wrong in the best of ways. He halted her tears. He restarted her sanity. She clung to him harder. She needed to learn to release herself from this blame. "You will have it.." She whispered mid-kiss. It went on until she felt together again. When it came to an end, Sierra smiled. She nuzzled her nose against his. It was clear that she was feeling *much* better. He had done wonders for her...but there was another part of her that required attention! "Claudius.." She said, kissing the tip of his nose. "Do we have.... Do we have any *pudding*?" Uh oh!

As she kissed the tip of his nose Claudius did not expect the words that came out of his wife's mouth. If he had every computer on the Retributor at his disposal none of them could have computed an algorithm that would have predicted the question Sierra was just about to ask. "Uh. Pudding?" he asked, as he pulled slightly away from her and tilted his head. He realized that they did have pudding, but it was two flights of stairs down. With a soft sigh he rose from his wife's embrace and headed down the first flight of stairs. As he reached the lower level he could still hear Ewwiekewwieikkie crying upon the toilet, with the additional sound of Drusilla yelling at her. He did not have time for that now as he was on an important mission. When he reached the kitchen he quickly grabbed the pudding, but was in such a hurry he forgot the spoon. Up the first flight of stairs brought him back to the residential level, and then another flight brought him back to the observatory. "Here. I got the pudding," he said to her, between gasps of breath, his face flushed red, with a thin layer of sweat upon him. It was then he realized that he had forgotten the spoon and, muttering to himself, moved down the two flights of stairs again. He grabbed a spoon, knocking over all the other silverware, which caused Ewwiekewwieikkie to come running down the stairs like a trained animal. As she pounced on the spoon, a couple of jewels spilled out behind her from a place he would rather not think about. He rolled his eyes at the chaos around him, before moving back up two flights of stairs once again. "I ... forgot ... your ... spoon," he said, before extending it to her, and collapsing onto the floor of the observatory. "Next time a one story home," he said, panting, as he tried to collect himself.

Suddenly, pudding sounded like the greatest food to ever exist. She could *smell* it, she could nearly taste it! If she didn't get some pudding in her system immediately, she felt like she might go on a killing spree! Her mind, soothed, had decided to change gears. Apparently, her stomach was in control. She remained in the observatory while her husband made the long trip downstairs. She had no idea what was currently occurring in the lower floor refresher. It was probably better that she was on the third story, ready to satisfy her first pregnancy craving. Her only hope was that Claudius could successfully complete his mission without being caught by Ewwiekewwieikkie. She looked *very* happy to see him return with the new object of her affections: pudding. "Thank you, honey!" Sierra appreciated his efforts. She'd never go into the observatory once she was further along. Three flights of stairs was killer! She took the pudding, ready to consume it. It was he who noticed the lack of a spoon. Sierra wanted it so bad that she was about to settle in with a finger, thus throwing out the fact that she was a noble woman, not a savage. Claudius restored decency to her by making a *second* trip down the stairs. All Sierra could hear was Ewwiekewwieikkie bounding down the stairs with a *thump, thump, thump*. Nothing like the pitter patter of Squib feet! She could only imagine what trouble Ewwie and Bruce would get into together.

Claudius reappeared with a spoon. He looked exhausted. She blushed. He was so amazing. His efforts made her want to cry happy tears. She might have...if she wasn't *dying* for pudding. She wrapped her arms around him, guiding him over to sit next to her. "You're the best husband ever. Thank you." She opened up her little pudding cup. There was a look of complete joy after she consumed the first spoonful. "Oh my goodness, it's so good!!" She commented like she was eating a delicacy. It hit the spot. "We could install a turbolift." She suggested. "Can you imagine holding a baby and traveling up and down all those stairs?" Even she'd be dying by the time she hit the third floor. She nuzzled into his side affectionately. "Speaking of... We'll need to figure out a room for our little man sooner or later." She took a spoonful of pudding and offered it to her husband. "Want some?"

As Claudius lay there, still panting, and attempting to collect herself he listened to her suggestion that they install a turbolift. "Yes. Go and find some of those gemstones and see if we can't get a turbolift installed..." he said, with a smile, for once wanting to spend some of his treasury. "I'm not getting any younger, and you're not getting any less pregnant, so let's do it!" he said, as he had finally recovered and was able to sit back up beside her. His face leaned forward, taking the spoon into his mouth and devouring the pudding. "Mmm," he murmured, as the sugary delight went down his throat. "I can see why you wanted it," he said, as his mind returned to why they were here. "Did ... did anyone see you?" he asked, regarding her midnight adventure to Zevrin's office. Despite the pudding diversion he was still gravely concerned by what had transpired while he was asleep.

Sierra laughed. "Wait..." She wiggled until she could fit her hand into one pocket. She pulled out several gemstones from one pocket, then the other. She placed them on the ground beside her leg. "I keep finding them *everywhere*." She reported to him. "I found one in my boot... After we were already at work..." She grinned. It seemed they would be finding gemstones for the rest of their lives. By the sounds of it, Ewwie was back to giving birth to gemstone babies downstairs. Sierra was pleased to see him indulge with her. The change in conversation reminded her of what they hadn't looked at yet; the datapad. She inched away from him to grab it, handing it to her husband. "No. I made sure to loop the footage Arden has. I wiped my entry from her door. I didn't leave anything behind." She explained to him seriously. "Let's have a look. Neither one of us are going to be able to sleep until we know." She continued to eat her pudding. She remained comfortably close to him. Just like he said, they'd make it through this *together*. Claudius, Sierra, and the pudding.

Claudius took the datapad cautiously, as he had no idea what was contained within. He had no comment on Ewwiekewwieikkie and the trail of gemstones as the fate of his wife and son was at stake, causing him to fill with dread. At first he could not bring himself to examine the contents, but then ultimately he forced himself. As he went through the file he came upon the interrogation of Commander Iyah Xergo ... the bastard's woman who was involved with his daughter ... identifying Sierra as a Rebel collaborator. This was bad. This was *very* bad, but he could not reveal his thoughts to his wife. When done, his hand weakly lowered, the datapad falling from his hand and skid across the ground. "Obviously it's revenge for what happened with Callista," he said, trying to justify what the woman he had said. He refused to consider she might be telling the truth. As far as he was concerned, it was out of the question.

Time had slowed. Sierra couldn't begin to guess what contents awaited them inside the datapad. She touched his leg. Sierra consumed the information over his shoulder. The second she saw Iyah Xergo, she thought back to a time when she had held the Rebel Commander in their shed and pumped her for information about Jelena. What had transpired in the northern part of Delaya, if seen by the right eyes may fall under the category of 'Rebel collaborator'. The interrogation of Iyah Xergo was like a punch in the gut. Sierra fell speechless. There was no way to fight this. She couldn't say, with absolute certainty, that she would win a battle against these accusations. She wished she could destroy the datapad, but in that, she would destroy the evidence linking her to a false accusation. She gripped her husband's hand. "Or revenge for us locking her up in our shed. Maybe she's angry that we chased her out of the castle." She growled. "Ultimately, it's Papius' hate for our family. Since the very beginning, he's been trying to push me into a corner. I thought he'd stop once he saw me nude." Sierra looked disgusted just bringing it up again. "There is little I can do about these accusations. He'll simply capture more Rebels...maybe the testify against me." She sighed. "There's only one way to make this disappear. If I can help him become a Moff, surely he'll drop this." She lifted her hand toward the datapad.

Claudius listened to Sierra carefully as she recounted all that had happened between them and Commander Xergo. "We really did a lot to that woman, didn't we?" he said, but he already knew the answer. Their thrantas were coming home to roost. He listened as his wife suggested assisting the man in his promotion, but he shook his head, dismissing it out of hand. "As Governor of a single planet he has made a ruin of my once great world," he said bitterly, from between grit teeth, as he stared off into space. "As Moff of an entire sector he could repeat that catastrophe upon untold worlds," he said, as he rose from the floor. "No. It is Papius Arundel who has to disappear," he said, as he moved towards the telescope, and programmed it to focus on Delaya. Above them the large device spun around, its mechanized gears loudly breaking the silence. He bent over, pressing his eyes to the device, as he stared at his home planet with great sadness. He wanted his son to grow up there. He wanted his son to reign there. One man was standing in the way of that and, if he had his way, that man would be very sorry.

Commander Xergo had stood in her way and had been dealt with accordingly. Because of their actions, they had been able to spend time with Jelena. She didn't regret her actions. It only made sense that Xergo called her out. She stared at Claudius, listened to him. Like before, she began to feed off of his anger. She, too, wanted their son to grow up on Delaya. She *loved* Delaya. Her family was better off there. She agreed that it was time to deal with their Papius problem.... But how? She didn't have to look in the telescope to know where Claudius' sights had settled. Sierra had hoped that him and Bruce would have the chance to look at the stars from that planet...not this one. Suddenly, Sierra rose. "Wait here."

She darted off down a short flight of stairs and into their bedroom. She searched through one of the drawers in her vanity. There was a single datapad hidden beneath her various hair accessories. As she made her way back to the observatory, she stepped on something small and painful. "Owww!" She looked beneath her foot. *Another* gemstone?! Rolling her eyes, Sierra nudged it towards Drusilla's door. She had her head buried in the datapad. Perching herself beside her husband, one could see a live feed of Gaius' room. She didn't know why she had thought of her cameras in the castle. She flipped to one in the spire leading up to their old bedroom. "I swear this was all precautions for Gaius. I wanted to monitor him incase he planned to hurt us again." She explained, switching the feed again to Claudius' office, and finally, their bedroom. Sierra nearly dropped the datapad when she saw that it wasn't Granny sleeping in the bed...but the big bad wolf himself. "*Fuck*." Sierra gasped completely out of the blue. "I think I found our in, Claudius."

As Claudius looked up from viewing Delaya through the telescope he watched as his wife bounded down the stairs. Yes, they definitely needed a turbolift. He wondered where she was off to, but when she returned with another datapad it was not at all what he expected. He watched in horror as he observed the Governor sleeping in *his* bed in *his* home. His teeth clenched so tightly that he threatened to shatter into countless pieces like Alderaan. His eyes angled skyward as he looked up at the night sky. He was silent for a moment, but then let out a terrific scream of anger. If Imperial officers like Arden Zevrin and Papius Arundel could use murder and other evil machinations to achieve their goals ... then why couldn't he?

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