Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Liz Dorner and Christopher Levy.

One year before the Battle of Yavin (34:9:11) in the Brentaal system: Warspite.


Major Kerrie Kiley, Vice Admiral Claudius Rodney, and Lady Htaere Ka`a Sha`ar.


Kerrie Kiley's quarters aboard the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Warspite were what one might expect. They were small, cramped, and unwelcoming. The room was kept painstakingly neat. In her clost her Imperial uniform tunic was draped over the door, waiting to be put away with the rest of her clothes. Inside the closet her suit of Mabari armorweave was arranged carefully, the only symbol of her past life as a warrior-knight. She had as many drawers for weapons and equipment as she did her clothes. You had to look closely to find the unexpected ... a stuffed Bantha that her father gave her as a child on Zolan, which had clearly seen better days and now had finally found a comfortable home upon her pillow. On the nightstand next to her bed lay a newer addition, The Little Lost Bantha Cub, a kid's novel given to her by her 'friend' Htaere.

Kerrie had stripped out of her tunic, but left her uniform trousers on and undershirt on. She stood in the center of the room and was performing the martial arts exercises she had been taught at the Mabari temple since she had been turned over to their care. Finally her side had healed well enough for her to return to our fierce workout schedule. Her face was flushed red and her long hair was tied back in a ponytail that had become sweaty and matted. She sighed as she stopped for a moment, still not satisfied with her performance.

The reason Kerrie's quarters were so small was because they were forced on the same deck of Admiral Claudius Rodney's cabin. It was clear in the engineering blueprints that the room was not originally intended to be lived in, but the Admiral forced a conversation to keep her close. The Admiral emerged from his cabin with his fiancé, still dressed in his immaculately kempt Imperial uniform. He smiled at his nervous companion as he led her down the hall towards Kerrie's cabin. He had avoided this confrontation for several days, because he knew how Htaere was dreading it, but now the time had finally come.

Htaere's lips went through the motions of forming a small smile, but it was evident there was nothing behind it. It faded equally as quickly as she kept in stride, eyes flickering from the cold and unyielding dreariness of the corridor walls and floor. For the Hapans and their neurotic obsession with beauty, the sterile interior of the ship was merciless and suffocating. Htaere's long slender fitting skirt swished about her ankles with every motion, shrugging her bare shoulders in a vain effort to shield herself from the numbing effect the environment had on her senses. Made worse by the reason for her presence, the surreal landscape that constituted the belly of the Warspite was further compounded by the guilt away at her already compromised sense of comfort and preservation.

Claudius depressed the key panel next to the door to Kerrie's cabin. He did not have to request permission. The lock was specially modified to allow him access. When the door snapped open he immediately strode into the room and looked at her with a stern face. He then stepped aside to allow Htaere room to follow him into the small room.

Htaere followed suit, and curious as she may have been about the Major's personal effects, the proceeding was far graver. Her gaze instantly sought out Kerrie Kiley's face, her eyes already pleading for forgiveness.

Kerrie snapped her head around suddenly as her door opened. The Admiral had a habit of sneaking in on her. Her ponytail whipped around and came to a rest over her shoulder and down her chest. "Admiral ... Milady," she said in a surprised tone, "I was not expecting you."

"We need to talk, Major," Claudius explained calmly as he took a few steps towards her.

"Oh," Kerrie asked her voice growing weak. She backed up several paces, but in such a small room had nowhere to go. "About what?" she asked quietly before throwing a glance over towards Htaere.

The tension in the room was thick and encompassing and inwardly, Htaere was drowning in it. Visibly she seemed to be holding together, but it was obvious she was shifty and nervous. Major Kiley's reactions were already haunting her. She stifled a swallow and prepared for the worst, wondering if the woman would every forgive her.

"I think you know, Major," the Admiral explained to her. He folded his arms across his chest and waited for an explanation.

"No...," Kerrie said nervously and started to shake. As he stepped backward she impacted with her chair and it moved across the durasteel floor with an eardrum-shattering squeak. "I don't know anything," she tried to explain.

To witness a man over-impose himself on a woman, physically or in this case verbally, was earth shattering and so far from the culture she knew, it required every ounce of will to not scold him. It was unheard of in Hapes. It was beyond unheard of. She had never in her life seen a woman melt down as a result of a man's taunt. Her lips twitched, and other then the occasional blink of her eyes, Htaere remained motionless.

"You should not have scared Htaere with such stories about Brentaal being so dangerous," Claudius scolded her and took another step forward towards Kerrie.

"No..." Kerrie cried out as she took a step back, now against the wall directly, "I didn't ... I mean I didn't mean ..." She looked at Htaere, her lips starting to tremble and tears starting to well up in her eyelids, "You said you wouldn't..."

The shattering of Htaere's fast-beating heart was in plain view across her face. Her eyes shifted to Claudius, closing on her slowly. Her lips pursed and she trembled slightly. In a heartbeat she was moving towards them, and inserted her body solidly between them, shielding the Major as a mother would in defense of her young. She made a forced effort to soften her expression rather then narrow her eyes at Claudius and challenge him to move past her. "Do not hit her" she said evenly, mindful of his seniority in all avenues, but determined in her own right.

"I was not going to hit her, Htaere," Claudius said honestly and calmly as he looked down at his beloved fiancé, "I just want her to admit what she did."

Kerrie gently ushered Htaere away from Claudius and adjusted what was left of her uniform. She inhaled deeply and swallowed. She would not let Htaere come between them. She would deal with it herself, "Alright ... alright. I was worried. I thought she led you off the other night. I did not realize it was your ideas. I was just trying to keep her from running off without protection. I swear."

Again Htaere's initial reaction was to rush to the major's defense, substantiating her claims as the truth. And yet she bit back, monitoring the situation just as carefully, but unwilling to push the envelope of Claudius' temper without sufficient provocation.

"You should not have scared her like that, Major," Claudius explained, "She is new here and does not know our ways."

"I'm sorry, Milord ... Milady," Kerrie said like an obedient kath hound. She lowered her head unable to look either of them in the eyes as she was filled with shame, "Please ... forgive me."

Instilled fear and kowtowing was not something Htaere wanted, especially not from this woman. She lowered her own eyes, looking away at something imaginary. Instead she anticipated the first available moment when she could speak with Major Kiley again, alone, and this time, be the one begging to be forgiven.

"Do you believe the region is dangerous?" Claudius asked the Major directly.

"Yes," Kerrie answered quickly and then her jaw dropped suddenly, "I mean ... no."

"Which is it, Major?" Claudius asked again.

"Well of course its dangerous," Kerrie tried to explain as her breathing became rapid and her face nervously recoiled into its native reptilian Clawdite shape, "But I just wanted her to understand so she would not run off again. I swear."

The shift in conversation had piqued Htaere's interest, her focus vacillating between the Major and the Admiral. Her interest got the better of her and she interjected. Unwilling to apologize, she felt she was due answers. "Why is it dangerous?" she asked. Her eyes settled on the Admiral. "Why, Claudius? Why are these people upset with you?" She risked a step forward to be more noticed then just the trophy-wife wallflower.

"They are not upset with me, Htaere," Claudius said as he turned his attention towards her, "They are troublemakers. Radicals who are unhappy with the Government who choose not to respond with democratic protest, but with terrorism that kills countess numbers ... military and civilian alike ... throughout the galaxy."

Locked in a studious gaze, Htaere mulled it over within the safe confines of her mind, trying to comprehend. An unbiased and completely blank mind was fertile ground for him to paint a picture of the conflict in whatever light he chose. In black and white terms, the Empire was the final authority and any who revolted were clearly enemies of any kind of authority and thus civilization. In simplified terms, it made sense. She remained silent, embracing the terms he laid out for her, as she had no reason to do otherwise.

Claudius turned his head to look at Kerrie once again, "Major ... I want you to spend some time with Major Zevrin from the ISB. Alay your concerns to her. I am sure she will convince you they are misguided."

"No...," Kerrie cried out in horror as she fell to her knees before the Admiral, trembling and crying. "Not the ISB!" she pleaded with the Admiral, looking up with tear-filled eyes, "Please..."

Stormy oculars narrowed at the display. "What is the ISB?" she said out loud, interrupting their proceedings yet again, and yet again without concern that she was overstepping her boundaries.

"The Imperial Security Bureau," Claudius explained to Htaere, "They are responsible for many tasks throughout the Empire, one of which involves alleviating the concerns of officers such as Major Kiley."

Htaere drew herself up, her expression laden with skepticism. The major's hysteria was enough to make one suspicious, and the very nature of intelligence and security was sketchy and unsettling as it was, a common truth across the board of all societies. "And that involves...bodily harm?"

"Of course not, Htaere," Claudius explained, genuine in his assessment.

"That's not true!" Kerrie exclaimed as she clung to the Admiral's leg, as if somehow she held on tight enough she could not be sent away.

Htaere's gaze was torrential, scrutinizing the Admiral with meticulous care. For a fraction of a second, her concentration wavered as she looked down at Kerrie Kiley, who had nearly disintegrated emotionally. Her eyes drifted back up to the Admiral's face and she asked very quietly. "May she have your word on that, Sir?"

"Of course," Claudius said and then looked down at the Major at well."

"They did terrible things ... terrible things..." Kerrie said as she looked up at them both finally, "When I was caught on Coruscant after escaping my homeworld the ISB handled my interrogation. They tortured me for days. They didn't even ask any questions. Major Zevrin was one of them, though only a Lieutenant then."

"The ISB does not torture people, Major," Claudius said bluntly, believing this to be a deception.

Htaere's thoughts were still on Kerrie's claim. "What kinds of things?" she asked slowly, evaluating the fear on the major's face.

"They have this droid that would give me electric shocks," Kerrie explained, not liking to think about it, "That was the worst, but it wasn't the only thing they did."

"Major," Cladius said as he looked down at her, "Surely you cannot be serious. An agency of the Empire would never do such a thing."

"I swear it," Kerrie said as she looked up at him, begging him with her eyes to believe him.

Htaere's nose at crinkled at the thought, finding it detestable. She shot her intended husband a look of expectancy. "Claudius..." she said, her voice edgy and uncertain.

"Please...," Kerrie said as she looked up at the Admiral, "Don't send me to the ISB."

Claudius stepped away from Kerrie moving his leg out of her grasp. He backed up slowly and sat himself down on her bed. The only sound that was heard was the squeak of the coils of her mattress as he sat down. He was dumbstruck. He could not believe what she had told him. He could not accept it.

Htaere's head turned to follow his movement. Unsure of where to go, her eyes flickered momentarily to Kerrie before moving back to settle on the Admiral. She approached him, wove her fingers together in front of her and knelt down in front of him. When she spoke, her voice was slow and composed. "What is the possibility that she tells the truth?"

"It cannot be," Claudius said quietly, his eyes still firmly locked on the Major who remained knelt on the floor. "In all my experiences throughout the galaxy I have never known of the government to condone torture," he explained to Htaere.

"Can you not simply accompany her while they 'speak' to her?"

"The Major requested I not attend any of her debriefings," Claudius continued, "She explained that if those she questioned saw me they would overestimate the importance of their knowledge and it would negatively affect her ability to extract the information."

"What information is to be extracted?" Htaere's head canted to the left. "You said their job in this instance was to clarify the state of threat."

"Well in most cases they are responsible for interrogating Rebels and collaborators," Claudius elaborated.

"What they did to me they called an interrogation," Kerrie said finally, still on her knees before the two.

"Claudius, you cannot relinquish her to these people!" Htaere insisted emphatically. "She has never lied to me" she reasoned.

"You say Major Zevrin was involved in your ... past experience?" Claudius asked her.

"I'll never forgot her face as long as I live," Kerrie explained, trembling and visibly shaking, "She was only a Lieutenant on Colonel Yularen's staff."

"Wulf Yularen?" Claudius exclaimed, "I've known him throughout most of my career. He's on Governor Tarkin's staff. He would never be caught up in something like this and if the Major was involved why did you wait until now to say something?"

"I didn't want to cause trouble for you," Kerrie explained to her master, "And as for your friend ... he was the one in charge of my interrogation."

One corner of Htaere's mouth angled down. "It is not that surprising. Corruption is rampant throughout the galaxy. It is the driving force of the Hapan nobles, particularly those closely associated with the Royal Court" she mused. "I have found that such a disease flourishes in places one least expects to find it" she remarked, looking to Claudius. She pleaded "Please Claudius, can you not handle any disciplinary action you feel necessary for the Major within your own means?"

"It would be highly out of line with protocol, Htaere," Claudius explained, but by no means was it a meant to be a rejection of her thought.

"Who else knows about the Major's so-called 'infraction'? Do these...ISB people know?"

"No," Claudius explained, "I haven't reported her yet."

"I'll do anything," Kerrie exclaimed from her position on the floor.

Htaere simply fixed him with a sullen stare. No words were necessary. Her opinions were known and final judgment would soon be rendered. Idly, she began to chew on her lip, waiting...

Claudius looked over at the stuffed Bantha on her pillow and sighed. "Please, Major," he said in a much more relaxed tone, "Pull yourself together. Don't let Booki see you like this." For the first time a smile appeared on his lips, "Apologize to Htaere for frightening her and all will be forgiven."

"Oh thank you," Kerrie said as she rushed up from her knelt position on the ground and hurried towards the Admiral on the bed. She wrapped her arms around him tightly. Suddenly the moment came when she realized what she was doing and her face turned grim. She backed away from the Admiral and adjusted herself into a proper military posture. She then turned her attention to Htaere, "I am sorry Milady." Kerrie then snapped her head forward to the Admiral, "I am sorry to you both. It will not happen again."

"Very well," Claudius said as he turned his attention away from the stuffed Bantha, "I am satisfied." Claudius stood from the bed and walked towards Htaere. He pressed his lips gently against Htaere's cheek, "I will see you later. I have much to attend to." He then politely excused himself and exited the cabin.

Kerrie stood up from the floor and walked towards the bed where Claudius had been seated. Once the Admiral left she curled up into the fetal position on her bad. She reached up to the pillow and grabbed her stuffed Bantha, cradling it in her arms. She began to sniffle again, very shaken up by how close she came to being sent away.

Htaere glanced to Kerrie and said "Excuse me for a moment" and with that she too, hurried out of the Major's quarters. "Wait! Claudius!" she called hastening out into the corridor.

Claudius turned on his heels and spun around when he heard Htaere call his name, "Yes, Htaere?"

She drew very close, glanced around to make sure they were alone and lowered her voice so that it was audible to they alone. "I...owe you an apology. I have misjudged you. I was starting to think that maybe you..."she was drawing up blanks on tact after such a confrontation. "...That maybe you were...physically the Major" she managed.

"I have never harmed a woman," Claudius explained, "I never will. Although some tell me that I should have given Drusilla a spanking or two in the past." He smiled at his own joke and drew closer towards her. He kissed her gently again on the cheek and then stepped back, "I really must be going ... you might want to see how she is doing though."

She nodded obediently and moved back down the corridor. In front of Kerrie's personal quarters, she lifted a hand to wrap the door with her knuckles lightly.

"Come in," Kerrie said quietly, not moving from her position on the bed.

As the door slid open, Htaere's form appeared on the other side of the threshold. She stepped through and stood where she was, even as the door closed behind her. "I know I am the last person you wish to see. I am sorry. I did not intend for this to transpire. I asked because I was worried" she explained quietly, eyes dropping to the floor for a moment before lifting back to the "little girl" curled up in bed. "I have failed you Kerrie. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me."

"I thought we were friends?" Kerrie asked sadly, not moving from her fetal position on the bed.

"We are, if you will still have me. Try to understand that I was concerned. I wanted to know the dangers prevalent, the risks you take. I have learned that due to your professional relationship with the Admiral, I must exercise more discretion at protecting the conversations you and I share." She drew a deep breath. "I am so very sorry," she added again.

"Maybe I can't have friends in this profession..." Kerrie said sadly, "I've never really had a friend..."

Htaere could not blame her, though she was consoled slightly by the fact that they had avoided a monumental trauma in persuading the Admiral to let it go. Without another word, Htaere turned, leaving her to console herself, having done enough damage for today, she touched the keypad. She made herself scare promptly, retreating back down the corridor to the Admiral's quarters where she remained until he sent her home. In the familiar suite, she shifted to the flawlessly made up bed where she lay down to rest and sort through her own preoccupations. Rolling onto her side, she nudged her sandals off and let them fall to the floor as her weary eyes settled on the viewports and the spacescape beyond. 

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