Era of Rebellion - Navigation


Liz Dorner and Christopher Levy.


One year before the Battle of Yavin (34:8:26) in the Brentaal system: Kwai and Warspite and in the Gallinore system: Barrera Legacy, Gallinore (Dimitor: Iisombernahy), and Kwai.


Major Kerrie Kiley, My`Ahme Renault, Vice Admiral Claudius Rodney, Lady Htaere Ka`a Sha`ar, and Flight Lieutenant Randi Trainor.


Major Kerrie Kiley paced outside of Admiral Rodney's cabin for a long moment. She was never comfortable confronting him, but this time she had no choice. She exhaled and stepped forward through the durasteel doors. Her first sight upon entering his cabin confirmed her worst fears. There he was packing his travel bag. She furrowed her brow and glared at him in a manner uncharacteristic to her. "Ran informed she was getting your shuttle ready," Kerrie sternly stated, "I thought she must be mistaken, because I sure did not receive any notice to prepare for departure."

Claudius virtually ignored his chief henchwoman as he folded another pair of underwear and packed it meticulously into his travel bag. As he looked back over towards his armoire to see if anything else remained to be packed he finally responded to her, "That's because you're not going, Major. This is a personal trip. Not Imperial business."

"Respectfully, Admiral, I cannot accept that," Kerrie bluntly retorted, "Your safety is my responsibility ... whether or not you're on duty."

"I thank you for your concern, Major," Claudius responded to her, "I would almost think you cared. But, your fear is misguided I assure you ... I'll be fine."

The Major was slightly wounded by the Admiral's jab. After all it was his actions that indirectly contributed to making her the 'heartless' being she appeared to be to most. "If I may be frank, Admiral," she continued.

"You may not," the Admiral was quick to reply.

Seemingly ignoring him, Kerrie continued without a beat, "You have not been the same since that delegation of Hapans left. If that is where you're going ... I must insist I accompany you. We will have not have the protection of the Empire once inside their territory."

"Is your going the only thing that will end this conversation?" the Admiral asked her, "I do have a shuttle to catch you know."

"You're too slow and old to get past me, sir," Kerrie informed him matter-a-factly.

"Then carry my bag," Claudius told her, almost cracking a smile, as he walked passed her and out of the cabin.

"Yes, sir," Kerrie said, as she grabbed the bag off of the Admiral's bed and followed him out of the cabin.

As the Lambda Shuttle Kwai entered hyperspace, Admiral Rodney sat nervously in the rear compartment. He nervously cleared his throat and looked at the chronometer. It would be another several hours before he would arrive in Hapes. He had changed into a more fitting Alderaanian attire. His head turned towards Major Kiley who had changed into her old Mabari armor, something he had yet to see her wear. "It still fits?" he asked, "I'm a bit surprised. You must stay in excellent shape."

"It will always fit," Kerrie informed him, "I'm a shape shifter remember. It stretches to fit whatever form I take." She paused momentarily before continuing, "But, thank you for noticing."

Another hour transpired during the course of their visit before Claudius again decided to try and start a conversation. Less than a year ago this woman had tried to assassinate him, now she was in charge of his personal safety. The times caused allegiances to shift with the trade winds he thought to himself before speaking, "Have you ever been in love, Major?"

"Huh?" Kerrie replied instantly, caught a bit off guard by the personal question. She looked down for a moment thinking on her youth on Clawdite. As she tried to remember him her face slipped back into it's natural reptilian-like Clawdite visage. She flinched upon realizing what had happened. She was relieved they were alone in the compartment. She liked to keep that little trick to herself. "There was someone ... once," she replied quietly.

"I've heard that before," the Admiral told her, leaning forward from his seat, "What happened?"

"I was a child. A silly child," Kerrie told him as she again slipped back into Clawdite form. He had definitely thrown her off her game and she was finding it incredibly difficult to concentrate. "We were at the same monastery," she began to explain, "He didn't approve of my decision to ... leave."

"Well I can't say I approve of your decision to leave either," the Admiral said trying to lighten the move, "You killed two Imperial officers and stole a shuttle!" He then paused and realized she probably was not in the mood to laugh. "Where is he now?" the Admiral asked.

"Probably still on Zolan," Kerrie replied, still in her natural state. "It is not like he can go anywhere," Kerrie pointed out, "the entire planet is still under blockade."

"Right," Claudius said nervously.

Suddenly the shuttle shifted as it reverted from hyperspace into realspace. Lieutenant Randi Trainor's familiar voice was soon heard over the intercom from her position in the cockpit, "We're coming up on Hapes."

Claudius looked at Kerrie for a moment. He could not tell if she was hurt by the conversation, but his attention soon turned to the intercom. "Lay in an approach course. Raise their traffic control on the comlink," he ordered the Lieutenant over the com.

In the cockpit, Randi Trainor fiddled with the controls as the shuttle approached the planet, which was quickly growing in size. "Hapes approach," Randi began over the comlink, "This is the Imperial Shuttle Kwai. We are requesting permission to land."

So many parsecs across the galaxy sat the sixty-three individual star systems that constituted the Hapes Cluster in all of its tradition-based and secluded glory. Every spot on the environmental spectrum could be found on amid its known worlds, from the glassy crystalline oceans of Dreena to the largely uninhabited tourist world, Reboam, dotted with ancient ruins. The heart of the Hapan economy, Gallinore, was the sole planet on which could be found the very valuable rainbow gems, the very staple of Hapes' financial success. For millenia, the Ka`a Sha`ahr household maintained selective rights to the meticulous mining of the delicate life forms, their very lineage traceable back to the dawning of what would become the matriarchal society known as the Hapes Consortium. The Ka`a Sha`ahr estate on Gallinore was but an indication of the immense wealth of their lineage in particular, and Hapans in general. The expansive home and surrounding land seemed to continue for kilometers on end. Like all Hapans, the architecture was clean-lined, soothing to the eye, ornate in decor and built solely around the near worship of aesthetics in nature by means of elaborate systems of gardens, running water, fountains and sonic-crystal sculptures.

In fact, part of the massive 264 room palace which the Ka`a Sha`ahr dynasty called home was built in a semicircle shaped pattern around the ten story-high hanging gardens. Trellis after gargantuan trellis arched across metal and wood frames in extensive patterns, housing myriad species of flora from every corner of the cluster. The garden itself was built up around a massive multi-tiered fountain that stretched beyond three stories. The sheer weight of it was staggering with its thirty-seven stone statues spread from top to bottom. It was near the base of the large fountain where Htaere Ka`a Sha`ahr sat, basking in the glow of soft golden sunlight and lavishing the rush of water as it slid across the fountain levels. Her four older sisters were not far away, and younger brother no where to be seen. The meditation was a welcomed respite amid uncertainty. The young woman's stormy colored eyes flickered evenly up into the utmost reaches of the hanging gardens, taking in the array of nuances present from any number of flowering plants and trees growing in the massive bowls suspended by the bridgework.

Guarding the definitive borders of the Cluster were Hapan Battle Dragons with their odd saucer shaped hulls and rotating weapons tracks. Sprinkled amid the Battle Dragons were Nova-class Battle Cruisers, any number of which could disperse squadron after squadron of My`Til fighters in the blink of an eye. The foremost Battle Dragon, Barrera Legacy, responded first. Her commander, a tall raven-haired woman stood over the junior officer at the communications console. "Imperial Shuttle Kwai hold where you are. State your business in Hapes."

By now Admiral Claudius Rodney had made his way into cockpit of the Kwai. He took a seat in the empty co-pilot's seat and adjusted a headset. He signaled Randi that he would take over communications and responded to the communiqué, "This is Admiral Claudius Rodney. I am here on personal business at the invitation of Lady Htaere Ka`a Sha`ar."

There was a moment of pause over the channel as the Barrera Legacy's captain went through all the steps of contacting her superiors. It didn't take long before the familiar voice of Hapan Attaché, My`Ahme Renault, emerged over the com. "Admiral Rodney, we are pleased you have taken us up on our invitation. We welcome you to Hapes. It would be our honor to escort you to the Lady Htaere's homeworld. The cruiser Undulatta will provide you with the nav points for Gallinore. We will inform Security of your arrival at once" she said cheerfully. "Is there anything else we may do for you?"

"Negative, Hapes Control," Rodney said diplomatically over the comlink. He then nodded to Randi instructing her to commence landing operations.

Claudius Rodney stood at the top of the ramp of the Kwai nervously. The ramp could not lower quick enough to soot him. He exhaled deeply and clenched post of his fists. The moment the ramp lowered, he proceeded downward at a brisk pace. His eyes immediately squinted from the effects of the natural light. He had been on a ship too long. He looked around eagerly, taking every bit in. In his long career he had never set foot in Hapan territory. He paused, waiting for any potential welcoming party.

The large pneumonic doors of the private bay slid open to reveal several well-dressed women and a handful of staff to provide assistance if needed for the shuttle. One of the women stepped forward a foot or so, and all three bowed respectfully. "Admiral Rodney, welcome to Iisombernahy. This way please" the foremost of the group announced in a slow but collected voice. The homestead of the Ka`a Sha`ahr employed over 150 full time staff to maintain the massive estate. One of the domestic assistants, the woman motioned through the doors and down the corridor that connected the bay to the mansion on the eastern side.

Claudius turned around looked into the shuttle and signaled a very uncomfortable Kerrie that he was okay. He then turned his attention towards the Handmaiden who addressed him and spoke politely, "Thank you." Taking one last moment to inhale the fresh, clean air he stepped forward again proceeded inside the massive estate. He was beginning to see why his father had chosen this family ... this kind of ostentation would be right up his alley. He had no idea where to go of course, so he politely waited once inside for further instructions.

Smiling pleasantly, she led him through an audience hall with marble floors and gold inlay, indoor courtyards and cobblestone terraces hosting smaller fountains in every shape and size imaginable until reaching the outer doors to the external hanging gardens. The large carved wooden doors were on old fashioned hinges, swinging outwards to open onto the immediate patio that opened into the gardens. From here the woman stopped and glanced out towards one of the stone benches near the base of the 3 story fountain. "The Lady Htaere" she said, holding the door and stepping to the side for him.

Claudius had only a moment to prepare himself. He inhaled deeply and then took that first step forward. It was not just a physical step, but an emotional one. His wife had been in the grave for fourteen years, but he had never let go. Was he finally ready? Truly, he did not know, but sooner, rather than later, he would find out. His eyes nervously closed as he first entered the room. When they opened it was like looking into a whole new world. There she was ... the woman who had haunted his very soul since his eyes first gazed upon her in that reflection. "Hello," was all he could bring himself to say. He had gone through many preparations to bring him here to Gallinore. He did not, however, prepare anything to say.

Pulled from her silent revelry, her eyes shifted to follow the voice. As the owner came into view, grey pools widened slightly. She rose to her feet and gazed at him, a mix of something between perplexion and curiosity. In the privacy of her own home, she wore a soft pink silk kimono with silver stylized thrantas embroidered into it and a simple band across her forehead of three golden wires braided together, arching over the jade diamond and rainbow gem. "Admiral Rodney..." she said. She was equally as quiet, slightly stunned and off guard. Her head tilted slightly "You have come to Hapes?"

"Claudius," he said, trying to lower some of the formalities that surrounded them. "Well, you did invite me," he responded nervously. His palms were becoming sweaty, his throat was drying and slowly closing in on him. This was something he had not gone through in over twenty years. "Maybe I'm not ready," he thought to himself, "but if I'm not ... will I ever be." He exhaled, and then smiled at her warmly, "I think I may have made a hasty decision. I would like to consider our union."

Htaere's expression failed to straighten. If anything, it seemed more drawn to disbelief. "But you said..." she trailed off, shaking her head ever so slightly. She closed her mouth and regrouped her thoughts before continuing. "I am...confused. You will agree to the arranged marriage of our households?"

"From a certain point of view," Claudius began to explain, "I will agree to the union, provided you allow the proper courtship period to take place. At the end of that time ... if you ... and not just your family ... want it shall be done."

Htaere was mentally digesting the offer, still struggling with the concept of free will when it came to choosing a companion. What it boiled down to for her was that she would assume the role she was assigned when they first set foot on the deck of the Warspite. She nodded once "Yes, my Lord." Her eyes drifted over his figure, taking in the different clothing. She snapped back into the present and motioned to the bench. "Would you like to sit?"

"Please ... try and call me Claudius," he told her in a friendly tone. He smiled politely and took a seat where he tried to make himself comfortable. Until then, he had been stiff and rigid. He sighed as he wiped his sweaty palms on his knees. "There's something I should tell you," he explained, "Perhaps it'll make things easier." He paused before continuing, "I was married once ... long ago. We had children and it was the most wonderful time in my life. Unfortunately, she passed away. I still love her ... I always will. I believe there's room in my heart for you, but this is new to me and it came very unexpected."

Cool grey eyes studied him intensely. "I am sorry for your loss. I see why you object to this." She paused again for a moment to observe his movements, the obvious signs of anxiety. "You are nervous. Why?"

"I have found in my experiences that what people consider to be a rumor is often not a fact," Claudius explained to her, "However, it turns out the rumor that Hapans possess indescribable beauty is very much the case."

The makings of an amused smile seemed to curve Htaere's lips. "You are very funny. You should not have seen me on your ship. It was...inappropriate for me."

"If I had not seen you ... my life would have been sadly deprived of a great beauty," Claudius said with a reassuring smile.

"An ancestor of mine once wrote that all you needed to know in life was that beauty is truth, and truth is beauty," he added.

"And was this person correct?" She resituated herself on the bench beside him, her hands folding in her lap beneath the folded silken squared sleeves of the kimono.

Claudius remained silent for a moment, the wheels visibly turning. "We'll find out together," he finally told her.

Another long pause ensued before she quipped up yet another question, her delivery child-like and singularly intensive. "Why did you change your mind?"

"When you get to be my age you become stubborn. You dig into your ground and you don't change. I was set on being alone and I didn't plan to let that change," Claudius slowly explained, "Well ... maybe I'm not as old as my crew like to think I am. Maybe I should change and I thought maybe you're the person to help me change."

She thought for a moment before a grin flashed across her features. "We'll find out together" she repeated his previous statement.

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