Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:2:30) in the Essesia system: Esseles (New Calamar: Claudius Rodney's estate and Marketplace).
Callista Nilar, Ewwiekewwieikkie, Yekaterina Hanson, Commander Kerrie Kiley, Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, Lady Drusilla Rodney, Commander Sierra Rodney, Commander Iyah Xergo, and Mug Zoran.

Arguably the most complicated part of motherhood occurs in the morning, or prior to going anywhere. There's something extremely difficult about trying to get multiple people ready within the same time frame. Sierra Rodney had never known true chaos until the morning of the shopping trip. Preparing two small humans to go out into the world was complex by itself, but Sierra didn't have two humans. Instead, her hands were filled with a Squib and a little fashionista teenager. Needless to say, things had been a teensy tiny bit insane. It seemed like Claudius had left for work in a blur. She remembered kissing him, and handing him something she'd actually *made* shoved into a lunch box (she made no promises that there was no hairs belonging to Ewwiekewwieikkie).

Between rigging up a system of bells on wires in Ewwiekewwieikkie's bathroom, Sierra was able to brush over the Squib's fur after she was dressed (a task that left Sierra's cream top turned blue). She had let herself foolishly believe that Drusilla wouldn't need to be rushed, but after forty-five minutes of hearing nothing from her, it was time to send in the search team. By the grace of the unknown, Sierra successfully got all three girls out of the house. As she sat in the speeder headed towards the city, she wiped the sweat from her brow. The morning had taken quite a bit of physical exertion! From wrestling with Ewwiekewwieikkie to nearly dragging Drusilla from her trinkets, Sierra began to worry for her future. What if she only produced girls? They'd have to wake before the sun if they wanted to leave the house by noon. Still, pink things *were* awfully cute...

They had ended up taking a platoon of Stormtroopers along for protection. While it wasn't totally ideal, it was necessary. Sierra also made a point to wear her comlink at the chance her husband began to worry about them and needed to soothe himself. Most of the affair with Arden and Marcus' grand reveal had been put from her mind. Everything was *okay*. After some shopping therapy with the girls, she was sure that she would continue to feel better. "So! Where shall we go first!?"

"Sierra, when papa dies, and you are Dowager Duchess I will see that you are given a suitable allowance," Drusilla said, as she sat impatiently in the speeder, impatiently awaiting their trip to New Calamar. "Do you think he is well? How old is papa? Grandpapa lived to be so old..." she complained, as she placed her palm to her chin and stared out of the window of the speeder as they maneuvered through the streets. "Why is noone taking holorecordings? It's all the Stormtroopers ... they have scared the photographers!" she complained, folding her arms in front of her chest and throwing herself dramatically against the back of the seat. "They're excellent servants, of course, but they do so scare away my adoring fans," she informed Sierra, before she pursed her lips in a pout. As the daughter of the Regional Governor of the territory containing Esseles she expected the people to turn out and adore her. Little did she appreciate the threat that the Rebels posed to her.

Ewwiekewwieikkie surged forward next to Sierra in the speeder, getting loose strands of her blue fur everywhere. "Ooh!" she screamed as she looked out the window next to Sierra, but then quickly moved across the speeder towards Drusilla. "Ahh!" she screamed as she looked out the window, climbing over her 'sister' to get a better look. "We're in the city!" she said, stating the obvious, as she alternated between Sierra and Drusilla in the speeder. She kept bouncing back and forth incessantly, unable to sit still, nor contain her excitement. Every trip out of the estate down to the city was a wonderfully exciting experience for the Squib.

And then there was Drusilla. Sierra was consuming some much needed coffee when her daughter began speaking about the death of her husband. The young woman coughed. "Oh, thank you. You're so gracious, Drusilla. Papa is well." Especially now that he was drinking less liquor, though, Sierra wasn't helping him by causing him to slam through a glass table. That part was best kept to herself. "Don't worry, my dear. Everyone dies eventually." Sierra couldn't believe that she'd just said that to comfort someone. She didn't want to think about the death of her husband. She had just gotten over thinking about losing him while he was living. "It's necessary. I will leak some photos to the press. You can even pick the poses." Sierra had no idea how she didn't get her fill of reporters in her face back in Delaya.

"Hi Ewwiekewwieikkie." The Squib was certainly excited to get out of the house. She was glad she could give this to the girls, though she worried about their safety. Even Sierra wore a weapon today. "We're almost there. You'll be free to roam soon." She promised. She delivered soon there afterward when the speeder pulled up to a classy outdoors mall. The middle of the parking lot had been converted into a shelter for those affected by the recent chaos on Esseles. There were various stands supplying food to those who needed it. Sierra felt relieved that the house was stocked again. She thought of how sad Ewwiekewwieikkie became when the fruit was gone ... it was heartbreaking!! She awaited for the Stormtroopers to form a human shield before Sierra opened up the door and stepped out.

Iyah Xergo had been tense since landing on Esseles. As much as the people needed them, Iyah did not enjoy being here. She had made a point to keep both Callista and Mug close while they manned the same food stand which showcased fruits of bright colors and boxed foods. Her typical apparel had been exchanged for the clothing of a commoner. She looked like she should be waiting in line, not handing out food. Even Callista was dressed down. She looked frumpy in a pair of slacks and a t-shirt, all in dull colors. The little girl had begun to trail away from her parents when the Rodney's speeder arrived. There were all these weird people in white armor. "Woah.." She gasped. "Mama, lookit!" Callista turned around. A sea of people had suddenly separated her from her parents. "Mama...?" Her big eyes filled with tears spontaneously. "Daddy.?!"

Mug Zoran was glad they were doing a mission that involved helping people rather than blowing something up. While Iyah went about the business of tending to the victims of the recent Imperial bombardment, he was attempting to take care of Callista. Unfortunately, as the crowd surged them to take advantage of the food situation they were separated from his beloved adopted daughter. "Callista!" he cried out in a panic, as he attempted to push through the crowd to get to her. Unfortunately, he was not a very strong man, and nothing was more powerful than a hungry mob that was pressing against him at every turn. "Callista!" he cried out again, but she was so short, and he could not get eye contact on her. He was terrified.

Yekaterina Hanson was standing next to Iyah and Mug wearing a long black trench coat that concealed her A280 blaster rifle. She was there to protect them, should anything go wrong, as she had done for many years in the Alderaan Guard. When she noticed Mug begin to panic about Callista she looked towards Iyah, and then towards Mug, torn between what she should do. While Iyah was the Commander and therefore the prime objective of her protective duty, she nevertheless felt a special connection in her heart to Mug due to his connection to the House of Rodney. "I'll be right back, Commander," she said, as she began trying to push through the crowd alongside Mug. Unfortunately, she also was too weak to get through the sea of humanity to reach the lost Callista.

In the speeder Ewwiekewwieikkie spied a large crowd of individuals, which drew her attention. She began panting excitedly as she pressed her face against the window, her tongue licking at the window, while her yellow eyes widened excitedly. But then she saw something she could not believe ... Callista! She placed her hand on the door of the speeder, opening the door while the vehicle was still in motion. "'Lista! 'Lista! 'Lista!'" she yelled, as she jumped out of the speeder and began scurrying through the streets towards the little girl. As she approached she leaped into the air, pouncing her to the ground, and drooling all over her. "I missed you!" she squealed, before moving to nuzzle her face against hers. She was a *very* happy Squib.

The Commander could not keep a watchful eye over Callista. She trusted Mug to keep their daughter safe while they were in a land of enemies. It was difficult to keep people from fighting for foods in the line. There was some comfort in knowing Yekaterina was near, armed, and ready to defend them should become necessary. Given the scenario, Iyah did not know that Callista had gone missing, nor did she see Kat disappear to aid Mug in finding their daughter. It was the proper decision. She would lay down her life to make sure that the little girl was safe. Minutes had passed before she hit a lull of good, respectful customers. Her head lifted up, first noticing that Mug was no longer within her line of vision. It was understandable. Callista may have needed to go to the little lady's room. She didn't begin to worry until she realized Kat was gone too. All the tension she had been carrying turned to fear. Where were they? She had been so busy that Kat's words didn't register until then. She said she'd be right back. Surely it had only been but a few minutes.

Losing Ewwiekewwieikkie was bound to happen. As inhumane as it would have been, Sierra had considered placing a tracker on the Squib for her own safety. The blonde had exited the car from the door opposite Ewwiekewwieikkie. When she heard another door open, she knew what had happened. "Shit!" Ewwiekewwieikkie was on the run! She shielded Drusilla from exiting the speeder. "Stay inside! I have to find your sister." And she needed to keep the last blood daughter of her husband alive. She closed the speeder door, instructing some of the Stormtroopers to remain near while she went searching for the adopted Squib. "Ewwiekewwieikkie!?" She called out, following the hazardous signs of where she had gone. Sierra crossed the street at a quick sprint. "Ewwiekewwieikkie!!!" Her heart was racing with extreme fear. She loved that Squib, but boy, could she cover ground quickly! For all Sierra knew, Ewwiekewwieikkie had traveled several miles. All she could do was hope for a trail of destruction to lead her back to the blue girl.

"Daddy!?!" Callista sniffed. Her voice was cracking with her breaking heart. She was so scared. There was no one familiar until... *Lista*?! The little girl recalled her best friend. She stopped in the middle of the surging crowd, cuffing up her sleeve so she could look at the friendship bracelet she *never* took off. She began to cry harder. "Ewwie!! I miss you! Where are you!?...*Omph*!" Callista's small body collided with the pavement. Something *really* soft was on top of her. It was making her all wet too! Giggling, Callista realized just who it was. "*Ewwie*!!" She screeched. Her little arms squeezed her bestest friend in the whole wide world. "Ewwie!! I missed you!!" Callista opened her mouth wide, stuck out her tongue, and licked her best friend on the cheek.

Thankfully, Sierra was given a gift in the form of the bastard's adopted child. She spotted Ewwiekewwieikkie on the ground in the middle of a crowd. You could count four little limbs. "Ewwiekewwieikkie, you can't go running off like that. Who did you pounce this time!?" Her hand touched with the Squib's shoulder. As she began to pull the girl off of the human, she found herself looking at someone familiar. "*Callista*?!" She gasped. Callista was here, in Esseles. Sierra could hardly believe her luck. She had spent time trying to track down Mug and Iyah, the Rebels responsible for the death of Jelena Rodney. They were right there, right under her nose. "Are your mommy and daddy here?" Sierra was going to arrest them. She was going to oversee their death...but first. . . "Why don't I show you to our speeder? You can go home with Ewwiekewwieikkie. I'll talk to your parents. Don't worry." She smiled.

Callista squeed. There were all kinds of people showing up. "Auntie Sierra! Is Uncle here too!?" She beamed, licking Ewwie again. "I got lost from Mama and Daddy." She admitted sadly. "But you're here so it's okay!! I can go home with you, Ewwie!!"

Ewwiekewwieikkie gave Callista a big hug before helping her off the ground. "We're going to the speeder! Vroom! Vroom!" she said, as she grabbed Callista by the wrist and began dragging her, like a doll, towards the vehicle. "We're going to have ice cream and candy and candy and candy and candy!" she declared, as she moved into the oncoming platoon of Stormtroopers that were tasked with protecting them. "You're my bestest friend!" she declared, as she gave a salute to the Stormtroopers, who she was blissfully ignorant to the fact that they detested her. This was turning into her very best day.

There were no other children from her to interact with on Iyah's ship. Callista loved her parents, but it was nice to have one, amazing, blue friend. She was so happy to be reunited with Ewwie. Callista didn't object being dragged in a doll-like fashion. She assumed her parents would be just as happy, having not been told a fraction of what had happened on Delaya. "*Yayayayyayay*! *I love candy*! *I love ice cream*! *I love Ewwie*!!" Like Ewwie, she saluted the Stormtroopers. "And you're *my* bestest friend!" Together, the two girls disappeared into the speeder to harass Drusilla.

Sierra was already creeping towards the camp. She turned to a Stormtrooper near her. "Take them home." The woman ordered. The scent of Rebels was in the air. Remembering what the Rebels had done for Tarkintown, she immediately moved towards the front of the line for the food dispensary. What she found there, to be expected, was Iyah Xergo. The bastard was missing, but not for long. "Iyah Xergo, you are under arrest for the death of Jelena Rodney and the assassination attempt on myself and Gaius Rodney!" As her words came from her mouth, Stromtroopers surrounded the Rebel scum. Sierra watched as a Stormtrooper cuffed Iyah. "Spread out!" She yelled to the others. "Traitors are here. We must find Mug Zoran! He is an accomplice of this woman!" Sierra couldn't believe her luck. A mixture of emotions rose to the surface. She had the woman who was to blame for Jelena's death. She was happy. She was angry. Closure seemed possible now.

More time had gone by. Callista, Mug, and Kat were nowhere to be seen. Her worst nightmares became a reality the very moment a woman in an ISB uniform reached the front of her mind. It wasn't just any woman. She recognized her immediately as the wife of the Grand Moff. Iyah could hardly believe the words coming out of her mouth. She had *saved* Jelena, yet no one could know that. Her mentor had laid down his life for her. Iyah lost her composure, but not because of her arrest. As her wrists were locked together, she realized that Callista, Kat, and Mug had already been captured. She fought, screaming. "*Where is my daughter*!? What have you done with her!?" Callista was only four. She couldn't defend herself!

Mug could not find Callista as he found himself lost in a crowd of people surging forward to collect the food. The mission of mercy had soon become more dangerous than an attack on an Imperial Star Destroyer. He could hear yelling and he immediately recognized it as Iyah. "Iyah!" he screamed as he made his way back through the crowd to try and reach his wife. As he shoved and pushed his way back he finally saw his fiance, with his sister-in-law, and Imperial Stromtroopers. He panicked and his first instinct was to draw his concealed DH-17 blaster pistol. He aimed it at one of the Stromtroopers and quickly pulled the trigger. The deadly bolt of crimson energy connected with the white plastoid armor of the Stromtrooper, who dropped instantly. Mug Zoran had taken his first life. Unfortunately, the other Stormtroopers began returning fire, into the crowd. Innocent bystanders began falling all around him. A disaster was beginning.

"There's too many of them!" Kat yelled as she began firing with her A280 blaster rifle at the Stormtroopers. She grabbed Mug by the shoulder and forcefully turned him away, but he would not leave Iyah. "Your courage will get you both killed," she said, before unleashing a powerful huff. Rolling her eyes she raised her blaster rifle, knocking the young half-nobleman on the back of the head with the butt of her rifle, disabling him. She gave a glare towards Sierra, whom she had protected in the past during her time in the Alderaan Guard. "Traitor!" she screamed at the top of the lungs, before she deployed a smoke grenade from her belt to cover their escape. She slung her rifle, and used both of her arms to begin dragging the unconscious Mug Zoran away into the chaos of the crowd.

Iyah continued to scream and yell for Callista. She could hear Mug. As she was arrested, people surged in, snatching up food quickly. There was too much chaos. People were screaming, others had been killed in crossfire, and Iyah Xergo could not see her fiance. She continued to call out for Callista, Mug, and Kat until a group of Stormtroopers escorted her away from her post. This was the worst case scenario. She had become separated. The status of Callista was unknown. She had to believe that she had escaped with Mug and Kat. The woman disappeared into an armored speeder where her ankles were cuffed to her seat and her vision was cut out by darkened windows. She dropped her head into her hands. Her life was over.

The empowered Imperial woman was not finished. She scrambled to take cover while both sides fought against each other. "Don't let them escape! I want all hangars checked for Iyah Xergo's ship. Find it and seize it!" Her blaster was in her hands now. She did not fire it. With the amount of innocent that were around, she would have likely killed one herself. Her eyes met, just briefly, with Yekaterina's. She heard her screams. *Traitor*. The only traitor was the woman who once belonged to the Alderaan guard who choose to protect a bastard Rebel over the family she was assigned to. Julius Rodney's blood may have flown through the man, but Mug was *not* one of them.

The smoke grenade was a saving grace. Once it had detonated, it gave them time to escape. Sierra was furious that they had slipped through her fingers, however, she did have a Rebel commander. Dangled the proper way, she could still obtain Mug Zoran. The man choked on scones. He'd *easily* fall for the right plot. "Clean this up!" She demanded, thrusting her hand out towards the dead Stormtrooper and the insanity all around. Sierra turned her back on the scene. She needed to report back to her husband. This news was better to be told face to face. She went to activate her comlink to touch base with him, only to stop herself. No. She couldn't risk Arden Zevrin finding out about Callista. The little girl was innocent. She didn't deserve to pay for her adopted parents crimes.

The girls had already gone home ahead of her. She tried to make up for the spoiled girls day out by stopping at a candy store on the way home and purchasing a ridiculous amounts of sweets. Drusilla received a gift from a gaudy jewelry store. Sierra selected a necklace with so many gems that it *screamed* Drusilla. They'd have another day out once things settled. Eventually, she returned home to the girls. They couldn't have the day they had planned, but that didn't mean they couldn't make one hell of a pillow fort in the living room!

Claudius Rodney returned to his estate on Esseles fully expecting to find that Sierra's trip to New Calamar had broken the bank due to Drusilla's overspending and Ewwiekewwieikkie's breaking things. It was a quiet night aboard the command ship, as Arden Zevrin had taken over much of the operation of the Oversector. His troops were deployed to Chandrila to capture and eliminate the targets she had forced him to authorize to save his beloved wife, and it drew heavily on him. He had hoped for a quiet evening consisting of a small meal, a warm bath, and a few hours of sleep before returning to duty. "I'm home," he announced, quietly, and without much fanfare. The sound of giggling filled the air and he wondered what ridiculous toys they had bought with his credits to amuse themselves. He did not expect a pillow fort. He could not spy Callista yet, but he could tell they had a guest. "Sierra?" he called out, looking for answers.

The evening had transpired into eating junk food and playing games within a carefully constructed pillow fort. All rooms had lost their pillows for the greater good. Sierra was crouched within the fort braiding Callista's long, brown locks. The little girl had changed from the unflattering clothing to something that looked like it might have been Drusilla's a long time ago. "Auntie, I feel like a princess!" She announced through giggles.

Time had flown by. Sierra had felt impatient for Claudius' arrival until she entered the highest state of sugar rush. Regardless, when she heard his voice, she came crawling out of the fort on her stomach. Her hair was badly braided. It looked like Ewwiekewwieikkie had done a lot of damage. There were puffs of blue fur in with Sierra's blonde. She also bore a crazy amount of makeup on her face. The girls had their fun today, but it was time for more serious discussions to happen. Wiping her face off as she stood up straight, she moved to greet him. "Hi, dear. How was work?" She embraced him tightly. "We have much to talk about." She informed him on a more serious note. The young woman stepped aside, revealing Callista and Ewwiekewwieikkie who were currently poking their heads out of the pillow fort. "In private." She added quietly.

Claudius' eyes widened when he saw his adoptive niece in the pillows with Ewwiekewwieikkie, but before he could respond Sierra moved forward to embrace him. His arm wrapped around Sierra, hugging her, but his eyes remained locked on Callista. "It would seem we do, my dear. It would seem we do..." he said to her, as he led her away from the children so they could take more freely. He moved Sierra into the kitchen and then quickly closed the door behind them. "What on Alderaan is she doing here?!" he exclaimed, as he looked at her for answers. He could not understand what was happening and he wanted answers. Once again he felt as if he was being kept in the dark.

The girls returned to their playing as soon as Claudius and Sierra had disappeared. Sierra could tell that she was going to, ultimately, have to carry them both upstairs once they passed out in the fort. Sierra stood close to her husband. "I'm sorry I didn't contact you sooner. If Arden found out about her..." They both knew what would happen. Neither of them wanted the blood of a young child on their hands, especially that of sweet Callista. "I arrested Iyah Xergo," she started on a strong note. "She's in a holding cell awaiting interrogation. She was in the market, near the shopping district where I was going to take the girls. Ewwiekewwieikkie spotted Callista and drew me to them. I couldn't let the child fall into the hands of the wrong person." Sierra explained, knowing full well that he would understand. "The bastard and Yekaterina Hanson were there. I pursued them, but the crowded circumstances stopped me from catching them. I've put out a search and seize order for Xergo's ship. It hasn't been found yet."

"Iyah Xergo ... the bitch who killed my daughter?" Claudius said, his hand curling into a fist and slamming onto the kitchen island. His face turned a bright shade of red, he began to sweat, and he was panting like a beast of burden. "Where is she? I'll tear her apart!" he said, turning to Sierra and unintentionally yelling right in her face. He was furious, and vengeance was near. "Thank you for bringing my daughter's killer to justice!" he said to her, but he was growing impatient. He was shaking now, his hands clenching and unclenching, as he imagined what he would do to the Rebel. "The bastard and Hanson escaped?" he asked her, as he tried to process everything that had just been revealed to him. "Where is she?" he asked again, as the veins began to bulge out the side of his head.

Sierra had held herself together long enough that the girls didn't know *exactly* how she was feeling about everything that had transpired. Claudius was the fire to her gasoline. Everything melted as soon as he spoke his first sentence. This was the revenge she had been searching for. It had fallen into her hands like a gift. She saw how furious he began. She understood, and thus wasn't offended when he yelled in her face. "Come with me." Three words provided the response to his animosity. Sierra took his hand, the one that had just bashed against the kitchen island, leaving broken tiles and surely a mess on his knuckles. She had held the secret in for too long.

She led him out the back door of the house. The shed out back looked untouched. It was locked, as it always was. Sierra paused in front of it to disengage the locks. She opened the door. She awaited Claudius to enter, then followed directly behind him. They could hear a quiet groan from the depths of the shed. Sierra clicked on a light which buzzed overhead. Commander Xergo was visible. She had been cuffed directly to the wall of the shed. Her body was held in an 'X' formation. There was visible blood on her shirt, her face, and her legs. To be a Rebel in the presence of Stormtroopers, you were bound to take a beating. "There was no place better to take her. The Retributor would have caused her to fall out of our hands."

Iyah had been beaten and hung out to dry. She had screamed for her daughter until her throat was raw. The Rebel had been in and out of consciousness until she heard life on the other end of the darkness which surrounded her. Her eyes opened. "Callista! Mug!" She cried out weakly. Her voice was but a croak. What the lights revealed to her was far worse than any Stormtrooper, or even the Emperor himself. Claudius Rodney. This was a man who believed her, personally, to be responsible for the death of his daughter. His fury would be infinitely worse than someone who had no connection to her. She did not fight. She did not speak. She simply stared. In the back of her mind, she thought of the living Jelena. Like Derek, she was about to lay down her life for the stupid Rodney girl.

Claudius looked Iyah squarely in the eyes, filling with the deepest rage he had ever felt in his life. He curled his hand into a fist, preparing to throw a brunch at the young, bronze skinned woman. But then all he could see was the face of his beautiful daughter Jelena. The tears began to flow, and his knees buckled, dropping him to the ground almost instantly. He was on his knees in front of her, crying ... sobbing. "You killed her! You murdered my baby!" he screamed, but he was not talking to Iyah ... he was blaming himself. He began slamming his fists into the ground incessantly until the skin was torn from his knuckles and he began to bleed. He was a wreck ... a hollow shell of a man. He did not want revenge. He wanted his daughter back.

This had never been in the cards. Despite combing the galaxy again and again, Sierra had feared that Iyah would never be caught. The woman responsible for Jelena's death would continue to walk a free, happy woman. She didn't know what Claudius would do. She felt his fury fill the room, and then it all crashed down into tears and self demotion. Sierra ignored the Rebel. She dropped to the ground beside her husband. First, she stopped him from bashing his hand into the ground anymore. Next, she wrapped her arms around him and held him tightly. The horrible feelings she'd carried the first night they had spoke together came floating back to the surface. She was furious and sad. Jelena was young. Jelena didn't deserve what happened to her...and then her funeral...

She blinked back tears while lifted her head. "How could you do this?! Jelena was a good person! She had so much to give the world..." Her head dropped back down so she could cradled her hurting husband in her arms.

The torture that Iyah expected to endure never happened. Just as the man turned red, he seemed to fall apart like a great, old building. What transpired was different. She saw a father who was hurting. She saw a family whom she had detonated a bomb within, whether she did it with good intentions or not. Iyah began to feel. . . *bad*. It would be worse than losing Callista, as Callista hadn't been her daughter for nearly two decades. The position she was put in was horrible. Did she tell them? She thought of Mug. He, too, would fall apart if they killed her. Callista would be motherless once more. Iyah gulped. "I..." She was making a mistake. They hadn't laid a finger on her and she was about to give everything up. "I... I want to make a deal."

Claudius was miserable as he was sprawled out on the floor in front of Iyah, despite Sierra's best efforts to console him. "Deal?!" he asked angrily, still staring at the bloody ground rather than at the young Rebel. "What could you possibly offer?" he asked, before crawling away from the woman, desperately. "Execute her," he instructed Sierra, unable to do it himself. He was broken. He was weak. He wanted to be done with it. He could look at neither of them. His face was tear stained. His hands were bloodied. It had all been too much, but worst of all the wound of Jelena's death had been ripped open yet again. Would he ever be able to move past it? It certainly seemed unlikely.

Sierra sprung to her feet when she heard his order. She was aware it would come down to killing Iyah. There was no other way to deal with the Rebel bitch. As soon as Iyah was dead, they could begin the healing process all over again. Sierra stepped up to Iyah, who looked horrified.

"She's alive!" She called out towards Jelena's father. "I don't know what you think transpired, but I was part of a rescue team. Jelena is alive. I briefly hid her on Delaya." Probably not the best thing to say. Iyah was fearful for her life, which was going to end if she didn't prove herself. "Don't kill me! I can prove it! Check my comlink in my coat. There's a message from her just from yesterday." She begged. Tears were rolling down her cheeks now. She was staring Death himself in the face, awaiting for judgment to be had.

The words had infuriated Sierra. She lifted a hand and quickly slapped Iyah across the face to shut her up. Jelena was gone. They'd gotten the report. The Rebels had been the direct cause of her death. Sierra lingered towards the front of the shed. Iyah's jacket was strung up there. She plucked through several pockets before finding a small comlink. She couldn't explain why she was giving Xergo extra minutes to live. She assumed it was mostly because she wanted Jelena back so badly. Upon finding the comlink, she fiddled with it briefly until a message, with the timestamp from less than twenty four hours ago, started playing. The shed filled with the voice of Jelena Rodney. It was a message regarding the Esseles mission. Sierra's looked flabbergasted. Her eyes had gone wide. "That was her..." She said weakly.

Claudius listened to Iyah claim that Jelena was still alive, causing him to freeze directly in his track. "It's a lie! A Rebel trick!" he shouted, irrationally, without turning to face her. He was standing now, barely, and his hands were resting on his thighs, trying his best to keep him upright. When he heard Sierra verify the data a mix of emotions came over him that threatened to tear him apart. He spun quickly, looking at the bound Rebel, and began moving towards her as quickly as he could. He took hold of her by her jacket, despite the fact that she was bound, and glared directly at her with his brown eyes. "Where?! Is?! She?!" he asked, in a threatening manner, as spittle flew from his mouth from the rage he felt. No one deserved to be put through the emotional rollercoaster that his life had been these past months.

Iyah couldn't blame him. She'd been there, mourning with everyone else over a woman who wasn't actually dead. The old man wasn't looking well, yet he still possessed the power to kill her. She was held, uncomfortably, between her binds and Claudius' grasp. Iyah avoided eye contact while spit rained down on her. She was so scared that her body had begun to shake. This was a situation she had not found herself in previously. "I won't tell!" She yelled back. "I demand a trade! Myself for your daughter!" She called out in a loud voice to make sure she was heard.

Emotions unwound and deconstructed inside of the shed. At this point, Sierra's legs felt like jelly. Her heart ached in a thousand different ways from everything that had happened. Alderaan. Jelena. Arden. She wanted to beat down the Rebel until she confessed where Jelena was. Sierra took a backseat approach to recover herself in some way. Claudius was being pulled apart in front of her eyes. Jelena was dead. Jelena was *alive*?! Sierra approached them slowly. Her head had begun to pound while her heart relocated to her feet. She grasped her husband by the shoulder. "We'll do it." She shoved the comlink in Iyah's face. "Make it happen, now! I will kill you if you're lying!"

Claudius had been through so much. He still was not sure that Jelena was still alive. It could have been a trap. It could have been an elaborate rouse. He slammed the shed door in Iyah's face, before leading Sierra to a safe distance where they could talk without being overheard. "Do you believe her?" he asked, looking at her with all of the hope of the world. "The Rebels are deceitful traitors. Could they have faked what you heard?" he asked her, looking over her face for any sign of hope that his daughter really was alive. He wanted it to be true. He *needed* it to be true. "Can I really be so selfish as to trade a Rebel commander for my daughter? Arden Zevrin may use this as the final nail in my coffin," he speculated, as he looked towards the sky for a sign. He was in shock, unable to focus, or make any decision on his own. He needed Sierra now more than ever.

It seemed like they were running out of air in the shed. Sierra wanted to believe so badly. It was like getting a second chance to fix everything, to have her best friend back. Together, they departed from the shed for a much needed pow wow. "I... I don't know. It seemed so real. You can usually tell the difference when it's just a robotic copy of someone's voice. It felt so real." That could have been the result of her emotions playing tricks on her. She paced anxiously for a moment. The name Arden Zevrin caused her to stop. "We will not allow her to know about the trade. If the Rebels truly faked Jelena's death, then we can do the same to Xergo. I worry that we are walking into a trap. We need to proceed with caution. We will make the trade on our land, with our rules. We have no choice. We *have* to see this through." She closed in on him, taking his bloody hands in hers. "She might actually be alive. The risks are worth it. I ask that you allow me to accompany Xergo to trade her off. If there is something going on, you're the most likely candidate for a target."

Claudius moved towards a small stone bench where he sat down, or rather, collapsed onto. He sat there, looking towards Sierra, and then the shed that contained Iyah. "We are outmatched," he admitted to his wife, as he moved to open his tunic to expose his undershirt and give him more air to breath. "I want you to contact Kerrie," he said, referring to his former adjutant. "We are not capable of fighting Rebels. We need fighters, and I do not know these Stormtroopers who surround us," he admitted to her, as his eyes glazed over the anonymous white armored Stormtroopers who roamed the grounds that surrounded the estate. "She hates Zevrin more than I do. She will help us," he suggested to her, as he began to wrap his mind around whom he could actually trust. The list seemed to grow smaller every day.

The day felt three times longer than it had been. Even Sierra looked aged after the incidents in the shed. The cool, night air swept over her uniform. She stood in front of her husband. Contacting Kerrie was a great idea that she hadn't considered before. She anxiously eyed the Stormtroopers which roamed around the estate like they owned the place. Necessary, but painful regardless. "Let's go inside. I'll contact her and clean you up. We'll reach the truth soon, my love." She felt his pain too. Sierra worried for his health. His heart had taken a lot lately. They needed to see better times. She dipped downward, nuzzling herself under one of his arms so her other arm could wrap around his waist. She supported the bulk of his weight so that he didn't have to support himself. It was symbolic of the role she had taken on. Together, they left the shed behind.

There was silence in the house when Sierra returned. She could see Ewwie and Callista sprawled out in a mountain of pillows. They had both fallen asleep with identical smiles on their faces. Oh, Callista. She had no idea where the best place was for the precious little girl. She took Claudius up to their bedroom and sat him in a chair. Sierra disappeared briefly to take care of the children. Carrying Callista up the stairs to Ewwie's room was easy. The Squib proved to be a lot more difficult, especially because she squirmed and licked in her sleep. Finally, Sierra collected her medical supplies and her comlink. She exhaustion wore on her face as she approached her husband, whom she came to kneel in front of. She made the call while she began to clean his knuckles.

Claudius sat at the foot of his bed, speechless and expressionist, as Sierra tended to his battered hands. As she lifted his hands he offered no resistance and there was no life left within his limbs. He was in shock. Jelena's defection, followed by her capture, followed by her suspected death had been a story fit for a cheap holodrama. Could he really allow himself to believe that she was really alive? He swallowed, but his mouth was so dry that he could not produce any saliva. His throat bulged, and he brought his hands finally up to pull off both his tunic and his undershirt once she was done tending to his hands. He could not get enough air. The room was spinning. He looked at Sierra helplessly, before his eyes rolled back in his head, and he keeled over, overwhelmed to the point of passing out.

It twas the night that would never end. Sierra had ensured that Claudius was okay as much as she could before she undressed him down to his underwear and put him to rest in bed in their cool bedroom. If he declined any further, she would contact Doctor Tohan for assistance. For now, she was expecting Kerrie Kiley within the hour. She had made coffee for the two of them in the kitchen. Sierra had drank half a cup when she was pinned down by vicious nausea. Her own body was beginning to reject everything occurring. Her body beckoned her to sleep. Her mind kept her moving forward. She lingered in the doorway of the estate, waiting Commander Kiley's appearance. She did not check on her prisoner. The shed was locked. Xergo wasn't going anywhere. The Rebel's comlink was in one of her hands. They needed help.

The screech of a TIE Hunter could be heard above the estate, its distinct roar heralding the arrival of Commander Kerrie Kiley. She had not been near the Governor since Arden Zevrin demoted and transferred her. As she sat in the mountains north of the estate attempting to manage both a team of mercenaries and a storm commando unit ... neither of which respected her. The Governor's new adjutant ... and new wife ... had been vague in her transmission, but despite the fact that she was going against orders, she nevertheless hurried to the Governor's side per her debt to him. As she exited the craft she remained in her black storm commando armor in an effort to conceal her identity to the troopers on duty, but she was noticeably shorter than what the service mandated so even in her armor her identity was well known. As she approached the entrance her eyes fell on Commander Sierra Rodney, whom she never had before met. "Commander," she said, with a bit of standoffish attitude in her voice. She did not know what to make of her, or this late night secret rendezvous.

She was here. The scream signified as much. Sierra anticipating meeting the woman whose job she'd stolen. Claudius was not going to be of much help. She needed to explain everything by herself. Her husband's opinion of Kerrie had rubbed off on her. If he trusted her, then so did she. She was relieved to see the short commando reach her door. "Commander Kiley, thank you for arriving so quickly. I'm regretful that we couldn't meet on better terms." Sierra stepped aside, allowing the woman into her home. She could hear the standoffish attitude, though she didn't blame her. "Please, sit. There's coffee. You'll need it." She pointed towards the living room, which was still crowded with pillows on the floor. Once she had entered, Sierra closed the door and moved to settle herself in an armed chair. She didn't know where to start. "My husband cannot join us right now. What's happened has left him... exhausted." There was worry in her voice. She wanted to check on him. She wanted to be by his side. At this point, Sierra was needed more here. "How much have you heard about the death of Jelena Rodney?"

Once they were inside the estate, Kerrie immediately moved her hands to the side of her helmet to unfasten the clasps that held it upon her head. When she removed her helmet, she tucked it beneath her shoulder, and looked over the young woman with her carefully mimicked blue human eyes. "No thank you, Commander. Too late for caf," she said, still sizing up the teenager. She did not sit either, preferring to stand, as she wanted to get to the bottom of this. Her face frowned as she heard the Governor was unwell, as she had come to view him as a surrogate father over her years of indebted service to him. They relationship had not always been cordial, but it had improved since Jelena nearly succeeding in killing her. "Yes. Rebel scum," she muttered, cursing under her breath, as she became even more curious about what had happened. "I must ask, Commander, why have you summoned me?" she asked, speaking in a very proper accent for a storm commando, as she attempted to push the point.

Sierra didn't know if she would rise from the chair again tonight. She watched Kerrie. Anxiety was written all over her face. Brushing her hair away from her eyes, she began to lay out the story. "Because that Rebel scum is in our shed outside, not even fifty feet from where you stand right now. I captured her today; a woman by the name of Iyah Xergo. She isn't accused of only killing Jelena. It is suspected that she planted the bomb within Jelena's casket which detonated at her funeral. She was in the city handing out food. Claudius has given me the order to execute her, however, she claims that his daughter is alive." She opened up her palm to reveal the comlink. "Listen," Sierra said as she activated it. When the recording had finished, she looked to Kerrie. "What do you make of that?"

When Kerrie listened to Sierra tell her what had happened that evening her concentration momentarily broke and her attractive young female appearance faded away revealing the gray lizard-like face that lay beneath. She was speechless, and took in a deep breath of air to steady herself. She blinked and then slowly her human face reappeared upon her face, although slightly flushed red due to embarrassment of the young Sierra seeing her true visage. "If there is even a chance that Lady Jelena is still alive we must recover her," she said, despite the fact that Jelena attempted to murder her. She had an unbreakable loyalty to the House of Rodney and would die to save any one of them. She lived by a code of honor that could not be broken simply by the foul mood of a teenage girl.

As the visage broke, Sierra was briefly surprised. Claudius had not mentioned to her that Kerrie was a Clawdite. There was no reaction from the Governor's wife, who was obviously accepting towards alien races. She still bore blue fur on her clothing from today's events. Sierra firmly nodded her head in agreement. "I told Claudius the same thing. I cannot confirm if it is a fake or not. Xergo has asked for a trade. Herself for Jelena. We are unaware if this is a trap. We need help, but we cannot reach to anyone who sits in the palm of Arden Zevrin. She would kill Claudius over this. You're the only one who can help us." She was hurting. She wanted Jelena back badly. She saw a second chance for Claudius and rekindling a friendship that had been lost to war for herself. She felt that this was the best scenario for everyone. "What can you do to help us with the trade?"

Kerrie lowered her head as everything that was being told to her began to be processed in her mind. "It is definitely the kind of subterfuge the Rebellion would attempt," she said, before lifting her head up to examine Sierra carefully. "The life of a Rebel commander is trivial to the life of Lady Jelena. We *must* try," she explained with an emphatic nod of her head. "Major Zevrin and Inquisitor Thanor have considerable sway over the Imperial forces. I do not even trust the men in the commando unit I was transferred to," she admitted, reluctantly, as she felt she was in a tenuous position. "There are some mercenaries who might be able to assist us..." she said, as her eyes moved skyward as she considered everything. She knew that Marcus Rodney was the Nerf Herder, but she also knew that neither Claudius nor most of the Empire did ... and she preferred to keep it that way. "Have you considered seeking help from Delaya? They are outside the purview of the Empire," she said, vaguely, as she considered contacting Marcus on her own.

The situation was complicated. Her chin rested in her hand. She agreed wholeheartedly with the Clawdite. They had to try. She was disappointed in the words coming out of the Commander's mouth. Everything had shifted since Arden had stripped her of her post. There were good things she said. The use of mercenaries was a good idea, along with Delaya. Marcus' chalet came to mind immediately. It's remote location was perfect for a trade off. Its extremely climate made it unruly to fight in. The last visit to the chalet had not gone well. She'd watched her husband punch his brother in the face. "Delaya!" She pounded her fist against the arm of the chair a single time. "How many mercenaries can you gather? I want as few people to know about this trade off as possible. . . Marcus Rodney has a chalet in northern Delaya, where the snow falls so thick that it's difficult to see. If we can get him on board, it would be the perfect location for the trade. I do not want Claudius to be a part of this. He is unwell from all he's had to endure today. It will crush him if this is a sick Rebel scheme. We must carry this out together." It was likely that Marcus would offer assistance even with all that had happened. Ultimately, Jelena was his niece. She did not look forward to seeing that man again.

"I can count on the services of one Mandalorian, but I fear she may be only useful as a distraction or decoy," Kerrie informed Sierra, speaking of course of El-Nay Darr. She could not trust many of the mercenaries, nor she could use the two she just picked up as they had a brutal history with Marcus and his wife. "Very well. We must not use Imperial transport. We cannot be in uniform," she explained, as she began forming a plan in her head. There was still a very good chance that Jelena Rodney was dead and this was a Rebel ploy to save their commander. "Are you sure you're up for this?" she asked, as she sized up Sierra. "I can take care of this myself if you aren't," she said, not sure if the young Alderaanian would be anything besides dead weight on an operation like this. There was also the fact that Sierra was a member of the ISB ... the branch of the Empire that she detested the most.

"That works. We might need one of those," Sierra listened to Kerrie. "I'll take care of our transport. Bring your Mandalorian to the eastern station in New Calamar tomorrow at noon. I will speak with Marcus before then and arrange everything. We cannot communicate with each other any way except in person. We cannot risk an information leak." She stood from her seat. "I'm up for this. I stuck a throwing knife in Zevrin's shoulder the other evening. I'm tougher than I seem." Especially when it came to family. She moved towards Kerrie to see her out. At the door, Sierra unexpectedly hugged the woman. "Thank you," she whispered. She released her just as quickly as she had hugged her. When Kerrie had disappeared, Sierra crept upstairs to check on her husband and begin to make arrangements. Tomorrow would bring another long day.

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