Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:6:9) in the Essesia system: Retributor.
Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, Major Sierra Rodney, and Colonel Arden Zevrin.

Colonel Arden Zevrin was seated in the conference room aboard the Executor-class Star Dreadnaught Retributor. As the Chiss Lieutenant prattled on and on she found it incredibly difficult to keep her eyes open. Finally she gave in and closed her eyes ... for a moment at first ... and then longer. It did not take long, but eventually she did doze off and fall asleep. A moment later she began to snore, obnoxiously interrupting the meeting and insulting the Lieutenant. She did not care as she had little concern for others and least of all the aliens the Grand Moff seemed to collect. She, like many in the Empire, believed in a xenophobic human first policy as a result of so many alien species supporting the Confederacy in the last war. Her mouth hung awkwardly open as she continued to sleep, her snoring growing so loud and intrusive that the Lieutenant reluctantly ceased her briefing.

The emotionless tone of Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca was putting everyone in the conference room to sleep. Sierra Rodney was attempting to focus on other things to keep herself awake, like the way her growing fetus kept kicking like he was suffering from the Chiss' voice as well. Even Bruce's developing ears rejected it. She thought about her husband's paternity leave, which they were supposed to settle with Zevrin. Before saying a word to the woman, she was already angry. She suspected that Arden would grant him with no time for his family. It was when she began to snore that Sierra lifted herself from her thoughts. She looked towards the woman, who was sawing logs worse than anyone else she had ever heard. What an unflattering mess. Even her mouth was wide open. She saw a small, winged insect land on the tip of her nose. It crept down her face, closer and closer to her mouth. Suddenly, Sierra couldn't look away. She was mentally persuading the little bug to jump into Arden's mouth. *Do it! Do it!* She willed the tiny-brained insect. It was the most action anyone had seen at one of the Chiss' tactical meetings.

Claudius waved his hand to dismiss Meham'ohorovi'cloca and the other officers, who quietly departed the conference room. Before long it was just Claudius, Sierra, and Arden left in the room. His annoyance with Colonel Zevrin knew no bounds, but he could not fault her for falling asleep during the briefing. Even he found himself dozing off from time to time, but never to the point where he actually fell asleep. "Ahem. Colonel," he said, but there was no reaction. His eyes looked towards Sierra, wondering what he should do. He knew that Sierra wanted to confront Zevrin about the leave, but he was not sure this was the right moment. He rose from his seat and moved around the table until he neared the Colonel. Finally, he reached down, grabbed her by the shoulder and gave her a good shake. He was certain that Sierra would be jealous that he got to rough her up a bit, but it was better this way.

"Huh? Wha? Execute them!" Colonel Zevrin said, as she awoken when shaken by the Grand Moff. She blinked several times until her vision came back to her, and to her surprise everyone else had departed the conference other than the Governor and his wife. "Oh dear. Did I miss the last of her briefing? Oh what a shame," she said, sarcastically, as she rolled her eyes. "There is one thing I wished to speak to you about," she said, before reaching over to pour herself a glass of water. Her mouth had become very dry while she was sleeping. "As you know," she began, before clearing her throat and taking a sip of the water that had now settled to room temperature. "...Chandrila is the home of the treasonous Senator Mon Mothma ... architect of this Rebellion," she said, as her eyes scanned then, to make sure they were paying attention. "It is not enough that she be punished for her actions. Her people must be punished to send a message to anyone in authority who dare defy His Majesty," she said, her voice growing increasingly distempered as she spoke on the subject. "Therefore I ... or rather *you* ... are going to order random executions. These reprisals are essential," she instructed him, before looking at Sierra. "You getting all this, or am I going too fast?" she asked, with a smirk, before finishing her glass of water.

The bug flew away before it could enter the woman's mouth. It probably stunk anyway, Sierra assumed. The room cleared until only three people remained. Sierra, who was seated with one leg crossed over the other. She had been taking notes on her datapad to keep herself engaged enough that she didn't fall asleep. Though she had never passed out during a meeting, she left needing a nap every time. Her eyes fell back on Arden, who didn't budge. She looked at Claudius, making a face and shrugging her shoulders. If it was up to her, she would have pulled Arden's seat out from underneath her. She was itching to get up, but it was her love who rose first. She snickered and suppressed her giggles as he awoke the evil woman by shaking her. She didn't feel *too* jealous. Months ago, Sierra had gotten to stab the woman. That felt pretty good.

Once she awoke, Arden was back to her villainous ways. Sierra's face went serious and she sat up. Her eyebrows arched...*she* wanted to talk about something? Well, that was never a good thing. She jotted down notes while Colonel Zevrin laid out her plans for Chandrila; executions, executions, and more executions. While she understood that Mon Mothma was involved deeply with the Rebellion, she didn't think killing innocent people was the right route to take. What she had learned while Arden Zevrin ran rampant was that the Emperor *liked* her cruel ways. She looked at Claudius, hating to think of the trail of blood that ran from his name. In a quick fit of anger, Sierra fancied the idea of running away from it all. In reality, you couldn't hide from the Empire. Her head snapped back towards Arden. "No. I've got it all." She said coldly. There was no option here. Claudius *had* to do it.

Claudius let out a frustrated sigh when he heard the latest in a series of war crimes that the ISB would carry out in his name. He turned his back to Arden, lowering his head in silent defeat. He remained in this position for several moments before raising his head and locking his eyes on Sierra for support. He looked at her, nodding his head, and trying to rally his courage simply by looking at her. "There is one thing, Colonel," he began, his voice sounding weak and trembling at first ... hardly that of an Imperial Grand Moff. He turned to face her, puffed out his chest, and attempted to be more confident. "I will be needing paternity leave when Sierra gives birth to our son," he informed her, maintaining a steely gaze. He would not take no for an answer.

"Oh that's rich," Arden shot back, with a smirk, as she laughed slightly at the old man. "Paternity leave? Are you the one giving birth?" she asked, before pouring herself a second glass of water. "Truthfully I wouldn't be surprised, as between the two of you I'd figure you to be the one with a vagina," she quickly shot at him, before taking a sip of water. It was then that an idea dawned upon her, as her eyes shot over towards Sierra. "On the other hand it's not like you're here even when you're here," she said, before placing her glass of water down and then rising from the table. "Before I allow this, you're going to have to do something for me," she continued, but she was speaking to Sierra and not Claudius. "You will travel to Delaya and give a command performance for Governor Arundel, to show your unwavering support for the Imperialization of Delaya," she explained, as she circled around the table until she came to a stop in front of Sierra. "Do this and your husband can be there for you. Fair deal. Even if your dimwitted Squib 'daughter' would agree," she sneered, making it personal.

From what felt like miles upon miles away, Sierra offered her love and support. The professional boundaries that their work relationship put on them were, at times, difficult. Their eyes met. She tried to show him that she was upset too, and absolutely, completely there for him. Seeing him looking defeated struck a chord inside of her. Each time Arden came out on top, Sierra grew a step closer to killing the woman. She offered him her courage. The sooner they did this, the sooner they could leave the meeting and decompress privately in Claudius' office. He did a good job with his delivery. She felt sure that this was nearly over. After all, Claudius had scratched her back, it was time for her to return a favor. As always, with Zevrin, things were never so easy.

Instead, Arden awoke the animal inside of Sierra. Slowly, she brought her other boot the the ground. Even she was puffing herself up, readying for attack at this point. She felt bitter each time the woman attempted to emasculate her husband. "It's common law for a man to take time off." Sierra started in. "This is what he is entitled to." Suddenly, she was in the spotlight. Arden's eyes at found her. She followed the woman throughout the room. Sierra didn't like where all this was going. Doing things for Arden was never her concerts. The woman laid out her stipulation: go to Delaya, play for Papius, and then Claudius would have time with his son without work. Sierra's eyes remained on Arden, but, on the inside, she was not happy. Papius Arundel had stripped her. He humiliated her...not to mention all the things he'd done with her belongings inside of the castle. If she could freeze the moment, she would have screamed and cried all at the same time. The salt in her wounds was that low-blow insult to Ewwiekewwieikkie. She internalized, clinging onto her powerful exterior. Arden Zevrin was a bully. Bullies liked seeing their prey suffer. She rose from her seat. "I'll do it. I expect to see this deal in writing to make sure you do good on your word." Sierra didn't look at Claudius. She had to stay calm. She had to stop herself from freaking out.

Arden brought her hand up to her chest quickly, staggering backwards, and acting as if she was in great pain. "You mean ... you mean you don't trust me?" she asked Sierra, as her face suddenly grew incredibly sad. "I'm hurt," she said, before moving to take her seat, lowering her head so far down that her chin touched her chest. "Claudius what a wife you have," she said, keeping her head lowered so that neither of them could see the smirk upon her face. "Oh fine. You can have your precious document," she said, raising her head and looking towards Sierra. "Sometimes I forget you're in the bureau. Perhaps I should have sent an accountant or a pastry chef to spy on Claudius," she said, with a sharp dig, that perhaps she ought not have to made.

"No. It's out of the question," Claudius said angrily, as he looked from Sierra towards Arden. "I do not want her to travel to Delaya. Governor Arundel is a monster," he explained to Arden, as if she did not already know. He moved to his wife, clutching her dearly, but before he could get to her she had agreed to do it. "Are you sure this is wise?" he asked her, as his attention shifted from Arden back to Sierra. "You know what he's done. You know what he's capable of," he said, as he turned his back to Arden, coming in between the two women. "You know that the Emperor's Advisor said I can't interfere in Delayan affairs anymore..." he said to her, lowering his head, and sighing with exasperation.

The blood was beginning to run out of Sierra's face. Arden was setting her up for something terrible. Claudius couldn't come rescue her this time. The room was suddenly much hotter than it had been a few minutes ago. Sierra needed to escape it. Sweat was rolling down the back of her neck. She was suddenly so lightheaded that she needed to grasp her chair to remain standing. "By tomorrow morning." Sierra commented. Her eyes narrowed. Arden had made many mistakes in sending her to Claudius, for it would be Sierra who took her down in time ... in time.

She looked at Claudius. Everything he said was true; Governor Arundel was a horrible, terrible monster. Her body leaned into his. It seemed that it was *she* who required his support now. In front of Arden, Sierra had to remain calm. "I'm sure." Her eyes told him otherwise. Her arm wrapped around his. Her skin was cold and clammy. "Tomorrow morning, Colonel." Sierra restated, deciding to close the makeshift meeting herself by directing her husband to the door. Governor Arundel was the last person she wanted to see. She would never forget the feeling of standing in his office trying to cover her most private regions, the parts of her which she only shared with her husband. Sierra didn't stop moving forward until they had turned the corridor from the meeting room. "Stop, stop." She said, needing a moment to stop feeling so sick. She ran her free hand over her face. "I cannot believe how evil that woman is. The things she does in your name..." She sounded so angry.

Claudius could not get out of the room fast enough. He simply could not breath in there any longer. He had intended to save Sierra, but in fact it was she who had saved him. "I fear there is more going on here than we're aware," he confessed to her, as he clutched her for dear life in the corridor. "What is her connection to Governor Arundel? Why would she care whether you performed on Delya or not?" he asked her, as he felt a pain beginning in the side of his head that slowly began to grow until it was as large as the massive ship. "I still wish you weren't going, but there's no sense in me trying to stop you," he said, as he moved his face to side of hers, placing a gentle kiss upon her cheek. He was fearful for what was to come.

She closed her eyes to stop spinning. All she could see inside her eyelids was Papius' terrible face. "I'm certain there is. There *always* is." She opened her eyes, tilting her chin upward to look at him. All of his questions were good ones and reasons to worry. "I... I need to find out what their connection is before I go, otherwise I fear what I'm going to walk into." All she wanted was for Arden and Papius to disappear. She hated both of them so much. She held him. "I don't want to go either...but there's simply no other way. She isn't going to give us what we want without making sacrifices. I want you and Bruce to have the best kind of start." She explained as tears began to fall from her eyes uncontrollably. Sierra was still thinking about Papius. Though she was clothed in the Retributor, she felt nude in the Delaya Imperial garrison.

Claudius lowered his head, wishing he had a more nefarious mind so that he could better understand the plots and plans of those around him. "Are you going to take El-Nay with you?" he asked, unable to believe he had said those words even as he was saying them. "I wish I could go with you, but the Emperor's advisor made it very clear that he would not tolerate my intervening in Delayan affairs again," he said, wishing he could be more of a man at this point in time. "Will you visit Marcus and Zara?" he asked, as he wondered if they could be of any use in dealing this. However, he did not voice his concerns as they had their newborns to care for. As his family grew he felt the danger and threats against them grew also.

She sniffed. Her small hands wiped the tears away as more came to replace them. Her head nodded. "Y-yeah." El-Nay had to come, for El-Nay's unwavering loyalty made her the only trustworthy bodyguard for Sierra. She wanted Claudius to come too. When the concert finished, she'd be able to be with him instantly. Instead, she'd have to endure a long trip back to Esseles before finding her relief. She understood the situation, and she didn't even bring it up. He knew she always wanted him by her side. There was no question about it. "I will. I think it'll be most safe if I stay with them while I'm in Delaya. Hopefully Governor Arundell won't make a surprise visit to the castle." She turned away from him, staring out a viewport in the corridor. "The sooner this is over with the better. I've still got all these concerts..." She said, sounding stressed. Her shoulders fell. There was no winning.

Claudius moved next to his wife as he, too, looked out the viewport. He came up behind her, wrapping his arms tightly around her, and drawing her body painfully close to his. "I love you. I am sorry you have become a pawn used by those who wish to control me," he said to her, as he looked over her shoulder at their reflection in the viewport. "Don't be gone too long. Every moment you're away feels like an eternity. The pain of your absence is too much to be bare," he confessed to her, before leaning forward, turning his head and placing a kiss upon her neck. He did not want her to go, and he desperately wished he could go with her. He never wanted her out of his sight again. He did not know how, but one day he was sure he would make Zevrin pay for this.

Her hands clasped his. They were close, close in the way she loved most. Her back was pressed into his chest. Slowly, sanity crept back into her upset mind. A single concert would earn them the kind of memories they would both cherish for the rest of their lives. In Sierra's mind, that made it all worth it. "I love you." She turned her head to the side. "No, no, no. You *never* have to be sorry for that. I came to you as a pawn, it simply turned out better than either one of us expected. I'm sorry things like this happens. I wish I could make all of your enemies disappear." She wanted to protect him from the galaxy's evils. Her hands squeezed his. Her heart ached, reminded by his words that, once again, they would find space between one another. She liked the consistency of always having him near. At work, he was never far. At home, it was very much so the same. Frankly, Claudius had spoiled his young wife. "I promise I'll only be gone as long as necessary. I feel the pain too. Life simply isn't right without you, Claudius. I've become so codependent on you." She slowly turned in his arms. Facing him, her hands clasped on his face just before she kissed him. Only together could they be truly whole.

"Do you have to leave quite so soon?" Claudius asked her, with some sadness in his face as their kiss broke. "Let's go home. Get me off this damn ship," he asked of her, before attempting to lead her away towards the turbolift that would lead them to the flightdeck. He had worked so hard to rise through the ranks to command a vessel like this only to have it stolen out from under him by that fiendish Colonel Zevrin. He used to love being in space, but now he could not stand to be aboard the ship. Part of him considered abandoning the mighty vessel to her and returning to his smaller Imperial-class Star Destroyer. Even a cruiser would be preferable if it meant being out from under Zevrin. "If he does anything I swear I'll bring the entire fleet, regardless of what the Emperor's advisor said," he pledged to her foolishly. He would not allow the Governor to harm her ever again.

"No. I'll leave when I damn well please!" Sierra said. Arden could only control her so much, after all. She released him from her grasp. Nothing sounded better than going home at the moment. "Yes, Governor." She flashed him a little smile, leading him away from the ship that had become a gigantic pain in the rear. As they rode the turbolift to the flightdeck, Sierra thought about Arden. How could she get back at the woman? She had ran rampant in their lives for so long. The problem with Arden was that when going against her, you had to be sure you were going to win. Sierra couldn't suffer a loss at Arden's hands. Shaking the thoughts from her head, she listened to his pledge. It was foolish, but foolish was an aspect of love. "Claudius.." She weaved her fingers in between his. They were headed home. Upkeep on their professional relationship wasn't on her mind anymore. "If that man knows what's best for him, he won't pull anything." There was a growl in her words. Regardless, she made her way towards the Kwai as soon as the turbolift's doors open. She sat before the controls. Her fingers were shaking. Governor Arundell was a terrible man. She expected him to do something. "Let's go home. We can all smell like banthas there." At least Dru didn't seem quite so angry after the Max Rebo concert.

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