Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Christopher Levy and Sarah Riggs-Shute.
Zero years after the Battle of Yavin (35:6:3) in the Essesia system: Warspite.
Lieutenant Allegra Ames, Liliya Benedt, Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, Duke Julius Rodney, and Inquisitor Serine Thanor.

Grand Moff Claudius Rodney sat quietly in his personal quarters, taking a rare opportunity to get some much needed rest. Next to his bed were his freshly polished black boots, which were quite uncomfortable and caused considerable pain wearing for long periods. As he sat on the edge of the bed, he reached down to massage his ankles as he privately wondered how long he could escape his duty. Feeling quite fatigued, he swung his legs up onto the bed and lay back, allowing his head to rest upon the pillow and his eyes to close.

The peaceful silence would last far too short before the comm panel would begin to beep, followed by the unmistakable voice of Lieutenant Allegra Ames. "Begging your pardon, Milord," she began nervously, a high level of apprehension lingering in her voice. "I know you left orders not to be disturbed, but your father demanded I make contact..." she quickly informed him, hoping the personal nature of the transmission would shield her from any disciplinary action.

An exhausted sigh escaped Claudius' lips as his brief moment of rest was shattered, his hand instinctively moving to the bridge of his nose to rub his eyes. "Fine ... fine, Lieutenant. Patch it through..." he tiredly said, as he sat up in his bed and began regaining his composure. The last thing he wanted was to spend the his off time speaking to his father and dealing with whatever was on his agenda. Not putting on his boots, he staggered over to his chair in front of the comm panel and waited for what was to come.

The image of Julius Rodney, Duke of Delaya, flickered to life on the viewscreen. The elderly man was broadcasting from his lavish estate on the planet Delaya ... now the lone populated planet in the Alderaan system. "How are you my boy?" he asked, getting through the necessary pleasantries before beginning the conversation. His eyes blinked slowly as he could see the fatigue on his son's features, growing concerned as any parent would. "You look tired," he bluntly, and honestly reported to his firstborn son and heir.

"Yes. I am quite tired," Claudius replied, stating the obvious in a frustrated tone, unaware of why his father had chosen this moment in time to contact him. "So if you don't mind, how about we conclude this matter so that I might rest?" he asked, quite positive that his father would not relent and some tedious manner was sure to come.

Julius offered a quick, but firm nod, as he listened to his son's distressed plea. "Fear not, I will be brief," he informed him, leaning forward to begin what was sure to be an unpleasant conversation. "I have come to the conclusion that your original thoughts on the marriage to the Lady Htaere were correct. It was an ill-advised pairing," he said, maintaining a calm sense of composure as he so easily dismissed a marriage he worked so painstakingly to arrange nearly one year ago.

Claudius was incensed, slamming his right hand down upon the control panel in an act of unspeakable rage. "Father ... my life ... Htaere's life ... these are not pieces in some game that you can maneuver around some board to suit your purposes," he said, emerging from his fatigue and entering a state of heightened awareness only brought on by anger. "Htaere is my wife and I will speak no more of the subject. Do you understand me?" he asked furiously, the veins in his temple pulsating furiously as he attempted to put his father's foolish ideas in their place.

"Do not speak to me of your life, son!" Julius quickly fired back, showing that the old lion could still roar. "You have a responsibility to your family and your people to provide an heir! For the first time in a millennia the name Rodney is on the verge of extinction. Our line must not be allowed to die out," he informed his son, attempting to appeal to his sense of honor and family to convince him of his argument. "When it was our responsibility, your mother and I did our duty and we produced not one, but two suitable areas to the Duchy," he quickly pointed out, referencing his two sons, who had both become distant in their own way. There was nothing more important to the old Duke than the production of a grandson to carry on his family's storied legacy.

"Let Marcus produce a male heir, father. From what I understand he is quite the lothario and there may already be several roaming the galaxy," Claudius snapped back with obvious frustrating, and denegating his younger brother in the process. "Htaere is my wife and I will not see our marriage ended simply so you can hurl some debutante at me in the hopes she can deliver a son. There is more to life than that, and I am far too old to still permit you to control my life and alter my destiny," he said with frustration, lowering his head upon conclusion as he felt a migraine come on.

"Your brother has disappointed me immensely and the women he has chosen foolishly to associate with would be ill-suited for the position of Duchess," Julius replied, shaking both of his hands at his eldest son through the viewscreen. "You are your family's only hope and if you do not produce a male heir before you are too old to do so our line will be ended!" he snarled angrily, the redness flaring in his old, sagging cheeks that had grown larger with each passing year. "The Lady Htaere is a beautiful specimen, but her recent ... illness ... has made it unlikely she will ever be able to produce a suitable heir," he coldly calculated, referring to her more as livestock than a human being.

"Htaere is no 'specimen' and this matter is closed," Claudius replied angrily, before slamming his hand down on the control panel to terminate the transmission. He took hold of the datapad that contained the daily reports and hurled it at the far wall. Upon impact it sparked before shattering into a hundred different pieces that scattered upon the floor. "Damn the man!" he exclaimed, as he rose from the chair and began the process of preparing himself to return to duty. The conversation had taken up what little time he had to rest, and it was now time to return to duty. The only that that caused him more discomfort than talking to his father was the boots he had to once again wear.

Liliya Benedt had no intentions of spying on the exhausted Grand Moff that day, but she had accidently let herself into his chambers during a heated debate with his father, believing she was merely fulfilling her appropriate duties. The man had important appointments to keep and obligations that became more of a burden everyday. Lucky for the overburdened Rodney, Liliya was extremely organized and diligent with her commitment to aide him in his affairs. In addition to assisting her charge, Benedt also had another function, and that was to record any instances tied to this man that may be of importance. It was unfortunate that all of her active contacts on Alderaan had been extinguished in one catastrophic instance, leaving her mission and very livelihood in a precarious situation. This hidden vulnerability to existence itself terrified her, giving her all the more motivation to be successful in pleasing Rodney and to never allow him to recognize her ulterior programming. The moment she entered the chambers, she heard shouting coming from the bedchambers. Her delicate sensors instantly recognized the speakers and she lingered quietly to overhear fully the extent of the argument.

It had only been a day since the violent attack on the bridge upon Lieutenant Sheppard and already it was all over the ship in gossip form, and Bethany conveniently left out any mention of Zevrin, which was the exact opposite of what Serine wanted. It was a little irritating that the Inquisitor's efforts to superimpose profane Zevrin rumors had fallen short, undermining her own attempts by strangling the unfortunate Sheppard. Not everything can always go as planned... However, there was still one more individual she wished to speak to and two disks left to deliver. Serine let herself into the chambers abruptly, not bothering to knock to announce her presence as she considered it her right to have access to the Grand Moff as she pleased. Their working relationship had actually improved significantly over the past few weeks. She had yet to assault him again, it was a good start. The moment the Inquisitor entered the room, she instantly caught site of Liliya who was standing quite peculiarly. It seemed to be quiet in the area ... was that woman just staring off? "Benedt!" She barked at the woman who was seemingly unaware. "Where is the Governor?" Said with a heavy stare of contempt to Liliya, looking forward to perhaps seeing that frail woman break down into sobs after reading the report Zevrin wrote ... the most accurate report of them all.

The Grand Moff had been staring off into space after the abrupt termination of his conversation with his father, keeping his right hand upon his chin as he considered his options. Then suddenly he heard the unmistakable shrill voice of Inquisitor Thanor and he was thrust back into reality. Having read the report of Lieutenant Sheppard's near asphyxiation on the bridge, he jumps from his seat and began running towards the next room where the two women had converged. He would not allow the beautiful young Liliya to be her next victim. "I am here, Inquisitor," he announced, matter-of-factly, as he stood in the threshold of the door to keep it open, which would allow the Inquisitor easy access. "Are you all right?" he asked quietly, directed towards his Alderaanian aide.

Liliya's processors had been completely focused on listening and analyzing the conversation between Julius and Claudius Rodney that she did not pick up the Inquisitor's entrance. Startled when her named was barked, she jumped and turned around so quickly she stumbled a little to the left, barely regaining herself. She gasped when Serine came into view, trying her best to compose herself quickly, smoothing out a few wrinkles in her dress, but it was mostly in vain. "I-Inquisitor Thanor..." She stammered. " do not have an appointment..." She fumbled at her datapad realizing too late that it never mattered if the Inquisitor had an appointment or not. It was blurted out in error. Liliya was all too thankful when Rodney appeared in the doorway. "Milord, I am fine." Said nervously though she tried to hide it. There had been too many incidents surrounding the Inquisitor recently, and it was far too uncomfortable to be alone in a room with her.

Disgusted with Benedt, she brushed right past that woman rudely, her eyes locked on Rodney as she approached him with that all too familiar determination brooding. "Governor." Said simply, and it would be picked up quickly that Serine did not bother to chastise Liliya for the obvious infraction. Everyone in that room knew the Inquisitor would speak to the Grand Moff whenever she deemed it necessary, besides, there were far more interesting matters for the three to discuss. "I have come across some information I believe you will find enlightening. It goes without saying that yourself and Major Zevrin are at odds." Serine herself had played no small feat in causing unrest when she had Arden released from imprisonment against Rodney's orders, but that was besides the point here. Two disks were retrieved from her utility pouch attached to her belt, one labeled 'Liliya Benedt' and the other 'Rodney' because that was how Zevrin titled the folders. "You see Governor Rodney, I have come into possession with the entirety of Major Zevrin's report that was going to be submitted to the ISB. Perhaps you would be interested to know what choice of words she reserved for you and your assistant." The disks were presented to the Grand Moff with no other hint of the contents inside.

The very mention of the name Arden Zevrin had become a non-starter for Grand Moff Rodney ... what she had done to his wife was unspeakable and had cause a great rift between them that was now affecting his entire family. "Dare I ask how you came by these?" he asked, as he retrieved the two disks and examined them for a moment. His fingers delicately tapped on Liliya's disk as he considered whether or not he should view them. He knew the ISB mindset, and realized that whatever was contained in these disk would likely be upsetting. "Excuse yourself, my dear," he said calmly to the young woman as he inserted the disk into the computer. He was understandably curious, as he knew very little about the woman himself. 'Very little is known about Liliya Benedt before she was recorded as entering the Royal Alderaanian Diplomatic Corps in the service of Viceroy Bail Organa. Because of her connection to known traitors, she should be considered with the highest level of suspicion and restricted from any Imperial information that should be otherwise confidential. Becaue of her youth and beauty, her close proximity to the Grand Moff places him at great moral hazard. Already, their closeness has been observed, and whether it is part of a plot on Benedt's part, or merely the Governor's own wandering eye, it seems she has been well positioned. It seems possible that she could be used in the future to manipulate, control, or punish the Grand Moff should the need arise.' His hands tightened as he read the words, and his teeth grit to the point that they threatened to crack. "You have read this as well?" he asked Inquisitor Thanor, but his face did not leave the screen as he spoke.

Serine was extremely disappointed when Rodney dismissed Liliya from the room as if that mousy woman got a free pass of freedom. It was obvious that Benedt was relieved to be leaving such close quarters and it was dissatisfying for the Inquisitor since she wanted Zevrin's words to bite into her like a durasteel rancor trap. Regardless of the lost opportunities there to watch Liliya break down into a pitiful weeping ball, at least the Governor would be enraged by the wording. Serine's loathing for Liliya was cut short as she realized that Claudius did not know that Arden had every inch of this ship covered in surveillance equipment... perhaps it was in error to assume he was privy to this information. "Governor, Major Zevrin's efforts directed by the ISB has somehow managed to install surveillance in every major outlet upon the Warspite. My apprentice Kia sliced into the Major's personal terminal and copied every personnel folder within her databanks." Said proudly. "I felt it necessary to know what the Major was planning and the extent of her knowledge so I am knowledgeable of all the contents." Serine was unapologetic about reading every single file, and she obviously left out the details concerning Allegra also knowing the vast majority... and of course Kia's backdoor slicing into Zevrin's surveillance feeds.

Inquisitor Thanor was speaking, but all the Grand Moff could hear was noise ... the sound of his heart beating a rapid pace as rage filled his entire body. He pulled the disk containing Liliya's file from the terminal, and quickly inserted his own. But to his great surprise what she handed him was not merely a file, but a directory, and upon accessing it he saw it contained files not just on him, but on his wife and family as well ... the very personal and disturbing information that was likely to be contained within caused him the greatest sense of concern. He paused, hovering his finger over the button as he decided which one to view. Selfish curiosity won the day and he accessed his own file first, suspecting some of what was contained within, but fearing the worst. 'The only thing grand about Grand Moff Claudius Rodney is his title. While in theory it seemed reasonable that the former diplomat would be well-served to govern the Ringali Shell, his soft, Alderaanian, touch has caused the Rebellion to take hold in the Region and forced the type of direct confirmation that the Emperor hoped to avoid. An ineffectual strategist, he has been ill-prepared for Rebel advances and as a result what should have been peaceful core sectors are on the breach of outright revolt. On a personal level, the man collects broken souls he views as projects, and as a result he is surrounded by individual who, while in their prime were exceptional, are now mere shells of their former selves and spend more time trying to cope with their demons than the Rebellion. As a result of personal problems caused by his eldest child and his naive Hapan wife, the Governor spends more time dealing with the battles at home than the war itself. To simply state that Grand Moff Rodney was 'distracted' would be the greatest understatement in the galaxy. As long as he remains in charge of the Ringali Shell Oversector, it will continue to fall apart, mimicking his personal life'. His head slumped forward as he concluded the report, feeling that there were many portions of it that were accurate and in need of being addressed. He folded his hands in his lap, and leaned back in the chair and sighed upwards towards the ceiling, still remaining silent.

Serine knew every word in that report by heart, she could have recited it to Rodney like an audio book. As the man read the harsh unforgiving sentences within, she watched him silently while contemplating her next move. These were the last two datadisks she had planned on releasing as these were the figures most capable of making Zevrin's life hell. Serine tilted her head slightly as she pondered the Governor's reaction. It was far more subdued than his rage felt after reading the Liliya document. Perhaps because he understood the truth to the contents as Serine herself believed it was accurate and she could account a few instances she said similar things to his face. And in fact, Serine had written an even worse report that detailed all sorts of humilifying events the Grand Moff had found himself in but had removed the majority of it in her final draft to Pestage. "Governor, you are no newcomer to reports of this nature, however you should be pleased to know that these reports were apprehended before they were submitted. Major Zevrin's dominating hold of this vessel's intimate business has been fully compromised without her knowledge." There was a dark glimmer in the Inquisitor's eyes as she continued, an ominous desire swirling in cruel silver. "I have a list of her contacts, their stations... their families. There would be absolutely no repercussions if something unsightly should befall her." Fingers absentmindedly began to twine around coils that hung by her hip before her hand clutched them tightly. "Perhaps you will finally see it is time to utilize my unique set of skills, Governor." There was no doubt what Serine was suggesting. All she needed was his permission and she could personally see to it that Arden lives a short and wretched life.

Claudius turned his chair so that he would now be facing her directly, but said nothing as he remained lifeless in the chair. It took him a moment to process her words, and the thought f revenge sounded positively delicious in his mind. The truth was however that ordering the elimination of an ISB Sector Officer would almost certainly be his doom as well, as it would shine a light on his command. He knew Zevrin well enough to know her files would eventually be uncovered by the investigators. "No," was the only word the managed to escape his beleaguered lips, as his head slowly tilted up to examine her. "Does..." he paused, struggling to remember her name. "Qwia ... is it?" he asked, bungling the Inquisitor's apprentice name, as he had already bungled so much else. "Whatever her name is ... does she still have access to Major Zevrin's files?" he asked, rising up in the chair to a more responsible posture, as he awaited her response. The formation of a plan was forming in the back of his mind, but he would need more information before proceeding.

"What?!" Eyes flared open in rage as a fist slammed down upon the desk causing a few datapads to bounce once before clattering back in place. She could not fathom this outrage, after all of this!? What would it take for the Grand Moff to finally allow the purging of Arden? "That woman is a putrid stain on this vessel and you allow her to run loose and compromise every single officer's very livelihood!" She angrily motioned to him aggressively with a vicious glare. "Her name is Kia Kaen, Governor!" Serine snarled as she abruptly removed herself from the desk to pace back and forth in front of him like a seething caged animal he refused to feed. The Inquisitor glared at him steadily, refusing to answer his question as she was currently blinded by a maddening temper.

"Inquisitor! Calm yourself! These very theatrics are playing right into the sort of nonsense that Major Zevrin has documented on us ... all of us," Claudius soundly pointed out to her. "I don't have to read your file to surmise what's in it," he said, disdainfully snarling at her, as he rose from his seat and was now standing directly in front of her. "Now answer my question. Does *Kia* still have access to Major Zevrin's network?" he asked, believing he had waited far long enough for an answer. He also found it somewhat telling that she had read the data on everyone of the crew and now considered her a threat on the level of the aforementioned ISB officer.

Despite all of Serine's unbottled rage and antics, she was still just as fiercely loyal to the chain of command and could not deny Rodney's question, as much as she was trying to stall from disclosing that information. She had wanted to keep their backdoor access a secret so she could personally control what High Inquisitor Tremayne got his hands on, but perhaps that could still be arranged easily even with the Grand Moff's inclusion. It was now painfully obvious to the Inquisitor that the Governor was directly challenging control and she had to relent it, as much as it pissed her off to no end. Eyes that had been glaring at him defiantly flicked away, averting her gaze. "Of course she does." Said reluctantly, it being very apparent that was something she had initially wished to hide, but her misplaced pride forcing her to stay honest and answer truthfully to a direct question from her superior.

The Grand Moff took two steps towards her, and positioned himself mere inches from her. His right hand reached down, grasping at the lightwhip and giving it a sharp tug. "This is a crude instrument, Inquisitor. With time and experience you will learn this is a means of last resort," he said with a dismissive tone, before turning his back to her and confidently striding away. "Your access to Major Zevrin's files is the true method to dealing with this wench," he said, as he ran his fingers across the terminal with the thought at looking over the rest of the files. "Patience is a virtue you are sorely lacking, Serine," he said, as he turned to look over her once again. "But, then again, all of the individuals I once knew who possessed both your patience and your powers are now dead..." he said, with a soft laugh as he considered his next words very carefully. "Continue to intercept her transmission, and when the time is right we can utilize the system to undo her," he ordered, as he retook his seat and awaited what he suspected would be some sort of chastisement.

The air about Grand Moff Rodney had changed, it was apparent that man wished to assert the power that his superior rank provided and the Inquisitor now found herself in an authority trap. There were two issues with this confrontation, one being Serine's unfettered rage that was difficult for her to manage and second being Rodney's unrestricted liberties to act on the very thin line of dominance he did have over the Inquisitor. There was an internal struggle boiling over in the woman and it was all too apparent when the Governor took the leisure opportunity to handle her lightwhip without her consent. There were a few things she cherished in this pitiful galaxy, and that weapon was one of them, she had sold her soul for it and it painfully reminded her of her plight nearly every moment of the day. No one touched it...but her. This was an intent provocation and Serine could not recall the last time she so vigorously had to control a fiercely violent desire, that she was actually physically trembling with malice. She locked eyes straight ahead, right through him because if she looked at him, there would have been a devastating and physical altercation. The Inquisitor's hands were clawing the air by her sides until she realized that was occurring and they were clasped behind her back as she did the unexpected, and that was to stand at a more formal attention, eyes completely glassy... Perhaps the Governor would realize how close he came to being thrown into another decoration. She stood there silently, and it could not even be apparent if she had been listening to the obviously insultive documentary, as it was likely she needed to control every measure of concentration not to harm him. Finally after he finished and proposed a plan of action, she would nod only once. Silence.

"Very good, Inquisitor. I see that you have managed some control over your temper and now only strangle junior officers," Claudius replied, offering a somewhat wicked grin in reference to what had occurred on the bridge. "Do not worry. We are of the same mind on the Zevrin question. I trust that you will *trust* me with the manner of attack..." he said, as he turned to look down at Liliya's terminal once again. "Despite the fact that I am such a poor strategist..." he muttered, re-reading the Major's thoughts on him once again.

The Inquisitor continued to stand at a forced military attention, quietly reviewing the events that had unfolded until the Governor had enough sense to dismiss her. The liberties that Rodney had pursued were insulting and unnecessary, causing Serine to feel rather betrayed, especially since she came to him with vital information that he could act upon. This was her reward apparently, being belittled and humiliated. She had nothing to say to that man, it would take more than a few moments for that bitter seething to subside. Serine could take care of the Zevrin dilemma instantly and yet Rodney felt it necessary to drag it out like some sort of sabacc game that he was likely very poor at.

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