Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:2:18) in the Essesia system: Kwai and Retributor.
Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca, Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, and Commander Sierra Rodney.

The Lambda-class shuttle Kwai returned to the Retributor for the first time in ten days, returning Grand Moff Claudius Rodney to his command ship. As the shuttle landed, Claudius looked towards his wife, Sierra, with the knowledge they were returning to a much different environment than when they left. The attacks on Esseles and Brentaal had come as a surprise when informed about them by the Emperor, and he had wondered just exactly what else had happened. When the ramp of the shuttle lowered, he felt a nervousness begin to grow within him. Although he was technically in charge of the Oversector, he had not been paying near enough attention for quite some time. It had become a lost command ... one he hoped Sierra could help him regain. He reached across to her, taking her hand in his, and giving it a squeeze of reassurance, not for her, but for himself. He rose slowly, gave his wife a half smile, and began to walk down the ramp into the hangar bay of the mighty Executor-class Star Dreadnaught.

There was something massively uncomfortable about returning home and not knowing *exactly* what was going on. Sierra had no idea what to expect, for she had failed to report in to Arden time and time again, especially since after Claudius and her started living in the same room. After the meeting with the Emperor, she knew it was time to return back to the Retributor. It was time to gain control again.

The flight had been uneventful. As they landed, she felt like she was ready for whatever awaited them. She looked towards her side. She offered him a reassuring smile, squeezing his hand back softly. "It'll all be okay." Things had changed massively in those ten days. She returned to the Retributor as his wife. Sierra walked at his side with more pride than when she had left. The first matter of business was to find out what they had missed and then begin placing their ducks back in a line. She turned to the first Stormtrooper she saw, "Summon Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca." Sierra demanded. Perhaps a combination of being around Claudius and returning to Delaya had drew her more political, aggressive side to the surface. If Claudius wanted her help regaining his command, then he was going to get it.

Claudius stopped in his tracks when he hear Sierra summon the tactical officer, surprised she was taking such an aggressive posture, but he did not countermand her order. He led her across the hangar until they arrived into the turbolift that ascended up the command tower of the massive vessel to the level where his personal quarters, office, and conference room were located. Taking Sierra by the hand, he stepped off the lift and walked into his darkened, lonely office. His aide had been commandeered by Arden Zevrin and his adjutant had been demoted back into the ranks of the storm commandos. Now all he had was his adjutant, who also happened to be his wife. He turned on the lights, revealing his cluttered desk, covered in datapads, and dominated by a decanter of Alderaan ruge. That was the problem. The worse the news on the datapads read, the more he would drink, and the less he would be capable of dealing with. "I suppose we share this office now," he said to her, as he moved towards his desk to see if he could sort out any of the recent news.

It was odd stepping into his office again. It felt like years had passed since they drank and cried over Jelena. Everything was in the same spot as it had been left. Even the Alderaan ruge sat there, as if expecting them to pick right back up where things had left off. Despite how difficult the year had been, it was time to get back on their feet and rise. Her fingers weaved in between his. They were deep in this mess together now. "Don't worry, I keep my space clean. I'll move my things in later. It seems like there's enough to sort through right now." The first thing she did when she approached his desk was pick up the ruge. It disappeared into a cabinet that held the rest of his liquor supply. She then sat herself at the very edge of his desk and began muddling through the mess of datapads. Most of the information was useless. Reports on the ship, along with various updates that had nothing to do with the bombing. As she picked up the datapads, she placed the ones she finished reviewing aside in a stack. Her eyebrows were knotted. "If something massive happened on Esseles and Brentaal, it's not here. All this seems like routine news." And that bothered her, so she continued her search while they awaited the arrival of the lieutenant.

Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca moved forward into the entryway of the office, clearing her throat to subtly announce her arrival. The young Chiss tactical officer had been humiliated by Major Zevrin and her human first policy, unlike the more progressive Governor Rodney who had several aliens in key roles. She was pleased to see the man back, or as pleased as someone as cold and emotionless as she could be. "Governor," she said offering the man a polite and professional nod. Her red eyes then slowly moved towards the Commander, offering the softest hint of a smile. "Commander," she addressed her politely, before marching forward into the office. "Reporting as ordered," she stated matter-of-factly, with her exotic way of speaking that contrasted with the prim and proper way the Alderaanians tended to speak.

Ah, someone who could actually provide some insight on what had gone on while the Governor was away. Sierra placed the final datapad into her stack. She rose from the desk to greet the lieutenant. "Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca," she greeted her with a small smile. It was a teeny, tiny bit nerve wrecking to suddenly be the Grand Moff's right hand lady. "Please provide a report of what has happened in the Governor's absence. We were told there was large scale attacks on Esseles and Brentaal, yet there's no report of this attack to be seen." Her voice remained calm. Her mind was already grinding into action. This had Arden Zevrin written all over it. She would need to meet with the good major sooner than later.

The Chiss lieutenant remained still and silent for a moment, staring at Commander Rodney as she considered how best to proceed. Finally, she nodded her head obediently, and moved towards the tactical display that dominated one of the walls of the office. Activating it, the screen was equally divided between Esseles and Brentaal. "Very well," she said, as she angled her body towards the Governor. "High Inquisitor Thanor conducted both a planetary bombardment of Esseles, along with a surface attack. Her Star Destroyer conducted low-level bombardment of targets suspected of belonging to the Rebellion. Stormtroopers followed the bombardment, mopping up what remained. Maj- ... Commander Kiley's Storm commandos were sent into the densely populated cities where they shut down elements of the Forad party, whom the ISB has declared as agitators," she said, before cleaning her throat once again. "On Brentaal, the Inquisitor herself assaulted the Trade Hall, where she executed several nobleman implicated by the ISB as collaborators with the Rebel cell. There is a holorecording of this should you wish it," she said, before moving away from the display to give them time to ask questions.

Sierra moved towards the tactical display. There, she watched it while the lieutenant filled them in on all that had gone on. Esseles had taking a bombing, then it was combed by Stormtroopers. As if that alone wasn't enough, the information about Brentaal came as another shot in the arm. Whether Sierra had intentionally done it, she had aided Arden. That woman must be behind all this destruction. She thought about storming into the Major's office immediately. Instead, she remained calm. She was in over her head. She had no idea how to solve this problem. "Please send me the holorecording. I'll review it later. Who ordered these attacks? Was High Inquisitor Thanor leading them alone?" She looked at Claudius. This was a bad foot to start on, though they had expected something large scale after the dinner with the Emperor.

Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca blinked at Commander Rodney's question, as it began to seem the Governor and his Adjutant were unaware of the attacks. "The order came from Major Arden Zevrin under the authority of the Governor's office," she reported coldly, as her eyes moved past the blonde to the man behind her. She broke eye contact, now believing she was in the middle of political scheming and maneuvering that she neither understood, nor wished to be a part of. "And yes, Commander, Inquisitor Thanor commanded both the operation on Brentaal and Esseles using only the forces under her command," she concluded, by standing upright and awaiting her next orders.

"Zevrin again!" Claudius said angrily, as she slammed his fist so firmly upon his desk that the pile of datapads collapsed like a child's game, spilling down the floor below. His eyes looked towards the Alderaan ruge in the decanter and his mouth watered, his tongue swirling about inside of his mouth. He was suddenly thirsty. *Very* thirsty. "Dismissed, Lieutenant," he said to the Chiss officer, who was more than happy to follow that order and quickly departed the office. "It seems much has transpired while we were away, my wife," he said to her, as he lowered his head, and brought his hands up behind his neck in a great deal of strain. "What do I do?" he asked her, his mind still dwelling on the loss of his daughter and the unprecedented attacks on his family. He already wished they were back on Delaya. "Perhaps it was a mistake to come back at all," he said, before letting out an exhausted sigh. Being the Regional Governor of a complicated Oversector might be proving to be too much for him.

There was only one name that could inspire such hatred from the young commander. *Arden Zevrin*. It was the name she was searching for in all of this. The lieutenant had connected the dots for her. She felt like she should apologize for having kept Claudius away from his post, though he would never fully understand why. He could never know what had brought them together. He was just as angry as she was. The sound of datapads hitting the floor one by one sounded loud in the otherwise quiet office. Sierra's eyes met with the lieutenant's, then she turned her back on the Chiss woman to attend to her husband. She picked up where he was looking right away. Sierra recognized that the ruge was a problem, not a solution.

She moved behind his desk. Her hands ran over his back. Just like that, she saw the stress weigh in on her husband. Just like that, she attempted to take some of it away from him. "It wasn't a mistake to come back. We knew we were walking into a mess. You will resume control soon, my love." She gently massaged over his back. "I will meet with Major Zevrin. There's nothing we can do to fix what has already been done. Maybe we can make something of it though. Take a deep breath. It's like an emotional reset button." She spoke to him in a calming tone. She wasn't going to lose him to the hardships of being a Grand Moff or the ruge in his decanter. He had a more attentive wife now. Perhaps she was exactly what the doctor ordered.

"You must be careful of that witch, my love," Claudius said to Sierra, as his hand moved to settle upon hers, which was now on his shoulder. He patted it repeatedly as he considered her words, with the horrible remembrance of how Zevrin had mishandled his former wife and daughter. In a way, she was responsible for all of the evils of his past and present, and now, as he leaned his head back and looked towards Sierra he worried for his future. "The Emperor himself commended us for this operation that I did not even know transpired. Is it better with me out of the way? Please tell me the truth. I can bare it," he said, but perhaps he could not, as his hand squeezed against hers, a bit tighter. For the first time in his long career he felt more of a hindrance than a help ... more of a detriment than an asset. In an attempt to manage both his professional and personal life he had lost them both. He did not want to lose Sierra.

She looked downward into his eyes. "Perhaps the Emperor only did that to test your loyalty. It seems unlikely that he didn't know you weren't here to observe the attacks. The Rodney family has been in the news just about every day since we left. After all that has happened, it logically makes sense for him to test you." One of her hand brushed over his cheek slowly. "The truth is that you do belong here. It isn't better without you. That's Arden getting in your head. Your problem right now is that you're looking up at all of this from a bad place. It seems so overwhelming. You have the strength inside you to overcome everything and regain your control. I'm going to help get you there. Is it these attacks that make you question if it's better here without you? Or is there something more going on?" She worried for him. She hoped that someday, after the war had ended, that he would taste a stress-free life without so much weight on his shoulders.

Claudius was quiet for a moment as he reflected on how best to answer her question. He swallowed uncomfortably, and his eyes again moved towards the decanter. "The Emperor seemed please by Zevrin and the Inquisitor's actions," he said, before turning his brown eyes to look upon her again. "I would not have ordered such actions, nor led them," he said, feeling defeated, and unleashed such a powerful sigh that he nearly blew the remaining datapads off his desk. "I do not have such aggressiveness and barbarity within me. I am ill suited for war. I am a diplomat," he confided in her, revealing all of his vulnerabilities and self-doubt to her now that she was his wife. "They have done a better job than me, says the Emperor, without directly saying it..." he said, before moving his body forward, and placing his head upon the desk, as if he were a young student in 'time out'.

She didn't like seeing him this way. His confidence had been shaken. It needed to be rebuilt with better...stronger pillars. Sierra let him confide in her openly. She understood his words. Her hands remained on him, though now both were positioned on his back. They slithered across his form before leaving him entirely. Sierra rounded his desk. She perched herself at its edge, closer to where he had laid his head down. Her hand blindly searched for one of his. When she had found it, she held it tightly. "You're looking at it the wrong way. The kind of aggressiveness that Zevrin and Inquisitor Thanor is indeed better perceived by the Emperor. Think about who you're talking about and what he did to rise to power. However, I do not believe it to be the perfect approach. How easily things could have gone wrong on Esseles or Brentaal. As I recall, *you* are the Grand Moff. You have made it to this position for reasons which we both know. You are *not* ill suited for war. There's nothing wrong with having some class. You're problem now is that your perception isn't clear. I mean..." She started.

Her free hand rested on his head, "You've been through so much lately. In your shoes, I would have run far, far away and never looked back. Your mind has been abused. We must sharpen it again. What you need is already right there inside of you, my love. You have my total and complete confidence."

Claudius lifted his head slowly, looking up at her with all the weariness of the galaxy contained within his beleaguered eyes. "I did run away. To Delaya. With you," he said, slowly, as he reflected back on their ten days away from it all. "It was wonderful to be alone with you away from all this. And, although I was not responsible, the Emperor *did* credit me with what he considered a success," he said to her, reluctantly, before rising up from the desk and moving towards the display where Meham'ohorovi'cloca had just been. A button was pressed and the six worlds of the Ringali Shell came into view, along with readouts on the impressive military force he had at his disposal. "If I am to stay then perhaps ... perhaps *I* should do something," he said, his face alternating between the display and his wife in slow alternation. "My talking has gotten us nowhere. The Rebellion has grown under my leadership ... not withered away as I intended," he said, finally beginning to understand what really was happening as his wife had maintained his sobriety. Everything was much clearer when sober.

It seemed like the affairs of Delaya had been a necessity. They hadn't arrived with the intent to stay so long. Although, it had been *wonderful*. Her eyes followed him towards the display. What was he thinking? His wheels were turning. Sierra slid off of his desk. She prowled towards the display until she stood shoulder-to-shoulder with her husband. Something needed to change. She wanted to aid in squashing the Rebellion and aiding her husband's image. Even Sierra wanted to do *something*. The problem was in a lack of information. There were no known Rebel bases currently. The closest they'd gotten to have some solid Rebel information was the bastard, who had slipped from in between their fingers. She veered out in front of him. Her arms came to wrap around his waist. Her head ducked beneath his chin. "It's not time to act, especially not from this frame of mind. We have to find a Rebel base, then we can attack. It'll look better than upturning every rock for something that isn't there. I know you want instant gratification." She peered up at him. "What you want will come in time."

"What I want now is to go to bed," Claudius said to Sierra, before his hand moved to turn off the terminal. "Enough work. It was a long flight..." he said, wanting to say 'home', but this no longer felt like home to him. "It was a long flight," he reiterated, before walking towards the door. His hand moved towards the control for the lights, turning them off, and ushering his wife out of the office. Down the corridor they went where they reached his personal quarters, but no one had given the order to remove Htaere's belongings. It was an awkward omission, one he would need to quickly remedy. He wondered if perhaps they should retire to her quarters. "I am sorry for the mess," he said, as he led her into the large sunken living area that was decorated in the Alderaanian fashion. It was a bit over the top for an Imperial vessel, but it did suit his stature and standing. The room further broke off into bed chambers for him and separate ones for his daughters.

For tonight, the work would attempt to remain pressed into their joint office. Sierra glanced back to his desk one last time before following alongside him to his personal quarters. It was a place she had never been...and a place she didn't feel terribly welcomed in at the beginning. As much as Sierra tried to block Htaere from her mind the whole time her and Claudius had been together, she was forced to take in reality now. She had allowed herself to step on his ex-wife. While she had never asked about why she left, she was pretty sure that it was her fault. The blonde-headed woman paused inside his quarters. She watched Claudius continue to move as he apologized for the mess. "It's.. okay.." She said, clearly distracted by the terrible taste of reality. It was so difficult not being able to read her husband's mind. He certainly loved her, for he had married her. Did he feel any distaste towards her for discarding of his second wife? As guilt weighed down on her heart, she used tunnel vision to ignore everything else. It *was* a long flight. Sierra was allowing her emotions into the front seat of her mind. It wasn't always a good decision.

Feeling awkward, she tried to escape it all by heading into his bed chamber. The first attempt, Sierra opened the door on what was clearly Drusilla's room. There were more accessories, shoes, and dresses than she had ever seen in her life. Increasing in awkwardness, she tried again. The second room was that of Ewwie's. Blue hair clung to every surface. Sierra cursed under her breath. There was only one possibility left but she didn't know if she could enter. There would be more remains of the marriage she had broken. She wanted to be back in Delaya. She wanted to bask in being a newlywed instead of feeling like a miserable whore.

"Perhaps you should show me your quarters?" Claudius suggested as he saw her move towards the door that to his bedchamber. "The children are down at my estate on Esseles," he explained, as he hated the idea of keeping them aboard the ship. However, the status of things on the surface was not much better, as the estate had been turned into a militarized compound. "It is not as nice as the castle we left behind on Delaya, but it is more private, and less crowded," he explained to her, as he looked around the quarters. "I will have it straightened and redecorated," he assured her, as he moved towards her, coming up behind her. He wrapped his arms around behind her, embracing her tightly. He placed his chin upon the shoulder, turning his head to place his mouth against her ear. "I have made the right decision. I have no regrets," he told her, trying his best to reassure her. His mouth then pressed against her ear, licking her lobe, before sucking it into his mouth and gently biting down upon it.

She had frozen. His words penetrated her ears. She thought she should move to have his daughters, *her* step-daughters secured back on the ship. She needed to visit the surface before making that call. Drusilla and Ewwie had to be in the safest arrangements. Sierra fell back into the familiar comfort of his arms. Her hands dropped to his. She loved him so much...that was why nothing else mattered when they were in Delaya, busily pursuing each other. Her eyes closed. His mouth felt so pleasant against her ear. It wasn't fair that he had so much power over her! Her eyes opened once more. "You're certain of that? No regrets, not even for a second? I tore apart your family. I can't help feeling miserable when I'm reminded of it. It wasn't malicious or anything. It just... *happened*." Because she could have run away from him, the Empire, and Arden when they were still in Delaya. Instead, she'd married the Grand Moff. She'd let herself fall madly in love with him. He could make her happy no matter what...even now his presence made all the difference.

"*You* did not tear apart my family, Sierra," he said to her in a raised voice, as he steadied his grasp upon her. "No doubts. No regrets," he said, before he spun her around, so that he could face her. Before any further words were exchanged he lowered his head, pressing his lips against hers to add emphasis to his words. "Don't be miserable. I am not," he said, before taking her by the arm and leading her out of his quarters. "When we next see it, it will be ready for us both," he said to her, as they moved towards the turbolift. Slowly they descended down the lift until they reached the level where the ISB officers had their quarters. Unfortunately, as when Sierra was billeted aboard the Retributor she was but a mere Lieutenant and thus her quarters were roughly the size of a closet in his suite. At least she did not have a roommate. "You actually live in here?" he asked, turning his head to smile at her. "Are you sure this is not just where you store your excess belongings?" he asked, doing his best not to tease her further. At least there were no mementoes if their past lingering around them.

Suddenly, she was facing her husband. Her eyes reflected her concerns. They had existed inside of her, only drawn to the surface after one long day. As if he knew she was bound to object and argue, he initiated a kiss. She returned it as sweetly and lovingly as she always did. This was the reassurance she needed to hear. Whisked away by the arm, Sierra moved into the turbolift with her husband. "Thank you.." She said quietly. Next time, their new shared quarters would be more of a home. For now, he'd have to suffer sleeping in her tiny quarters. He might have been more comfortable sleeping on the loveseat in his office than in her room. It was grey and dull. A double bed had been shoved into the corner, though it took up a majority of the floor space and made it difficult to maneuver in her room. It was very neat. Of the few personal touches she had added, three violins hung on her wall, each created from a different kind of tree home to Alderaan. She snickered. "You know, even if only for tonight, this is where you live too. If you don't stop teasing me, I'm going to take up all of the bed." Empty threats. "Get comfortable. My closet is your closet," she released him. With both of her hands functioning, she began to strip out of her ISB uniform. There was no need to be shy around him. He'd seen her body. He'd touched it. He'd *claimed* it. When all she wore was a pair of light blue underwear, she paused. "Should I even wear anything to bed...?" She hadn't while they were on their honeymoon, well, minus the first night when the Emperor put them both on an unexpected cleansing diet.

"The bed takes up more than half the room," Claudius pointed out, as he began to strip out of his grey-green Imperial uniform. "With two of us in here I expect we'll quickly suck up most of the air and then it will become very, *very*, warm," he said to her, as he sat down on the edge of her bed, which was more like a military cot. When he sat down the metal springs beneath squeaked very loudly, and he feared they might give way. He began to kick off his boots, and once he was in his just his undergarments, he lay back on the bed and stared up at her ceiling. Little did he know that the ISB quarters all had monitoring devices, allowing Major Zevrin to observe their every action and listen to their conversations.

"It's supposed to give you the perception that the bed is bigger and less shitty than it is. I got spoiled on Delaya." Well, he'd answered the question for her. She climbed up on the bed wearing nothing but her underwear. Laying on her back, she watched him strip down. She had no idea that Arden could see them or hear them. His office wasn't safe, but surely her quarters were! If not, then they needed to be worried about a lot more than how her bed squealed at the gentlest movement. Sierra scooted towards him, then rolled to her side to tuck herself comfortably against him. Her arm draped over his torso while her legs made themselves home in between his. She released a sigh, decompressing. "This isn't so bad..." But it was. The bed was springy and uncomfortable. She appreciated him sacrificing comfort for his wife's sanity. She placed little kisses along his jawline. She giggled softly. "Being in here is so different. I got used to your room. Now I feel like the new cadet who's getting some extra attention from the Governor." She laughed more, adding more kisses to his face.

Claudius rolled onto his side to face his wife, which caused the springs beneath them to squeak loudly. The noise made him start laughing a little ... and then a lot. "I'll have to arrange for more comfortable sleeping arrangements for the junior officers," he said to her, before moving his hand to caress the side of her face. "It's like camping," he suggested, trying to put his best face forward on their temporary dwelling. "You were a Lieutenant. I cannot imagine what a new Cadet has for a room," he said, before moving his hand upwards, first against her ear, and then through her hair. "You're right though. This isn't so bad. Being here with you alone beats all the nights up above I spent alone," he said, before starting to kiss her again. He had grown tired of being alone and was glad to have her in his life.

She laughed. The squeakiness of the bed had never bothered her until she tried to have a sleep over. "Whhaaattt? This isn't to your liking?" Sierra wiggled a little. The bed screeched dramatically. Her heart felt warm with love for him. He was dealing with all this just to ensure they did not spend the night apart. His hands were absolutely wonderful on her face, ear, and hair. She made a little, audible moan as she finished decompressing. Yes, this was exactly how she wanted to end her nights: with Claudius. He was incredibly sweet to her. Her confidence was resorted. Indeed, Sierra was the only woman met for him. She could have spent decades looking for him. Instead, she'd been fortunate to find him directly below her nose. Her lips danced with his. The tip of her tongue teased his lips. She didn't penetrate his mouth. She broke the kiss. "You'll never have to spend a night alone again. I want us to end every day like this. Happy. Together." She snuck in for a second kiss. Rather than teasing him, her tongue nuzzled its way into his mouth. Her arms moved around him. Yup. She liked the married life.

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