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
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!?"
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
... 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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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."
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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!"
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
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."
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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?"
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
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.
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
"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.
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.