Jelena Rodney sat quietly in her room aboard the Warspite,
gripping her father's old shockball in her hand and trying to smile.
Letting out a bored sigh, she threw the ball against the bulkhead. It
connected with a *thud* and bounced back into her hand. *Thud* the
chorus repeated as she continued to find what little amusement she could
during her isolation aboard the Star Destroyer. She closed her eyes and
carelessly chuckled the ball again, letting her head fall back against
Kerrie reached out her hand and snatched the shockball before it
connected with the wall, having silently crept into the room to observe
Jelena. She squeezed the ball in her hand, her knuckles turning a pale
while, as she unleashed her anger onto the small toy. Her eyes rolled
down slowly, staring at the sleeping young noblewoman. If Jelena had not
betrayed the Empire, Htaere would not have come under suspicion and the
events of the past several days would not have occurred. For a fraction
of a second, she wanted to smash the ball down on her face, but she did
Jelena's eyes opened suddenly, shocked by the fact that she did not
hear the *thud* of the shockball striking the bulkhead. When she saw
Kerrie standing there, a warm smile came over her young face, relieved
that the bodyguard was alive and well. She had given no information
about Kerrie, nor Htaere, and felt perhaps they were hiding the fact she
had died from her. "Kerrie!" she said excitedly as she leapt up from the
bed and wrapped her arms around her in a firm, unexpected hug.
The anger Kerrie felt was washed away by Jelena's comforting hug. The
shockball fell from her hand, landing on the floor with a *thud* as it
rolled beneath the bed. Her arms wrapped around her and she tightly
embraced her. In many ways, Jelena was a surrogate for the sister that
had rejected her, and no matter what Jelena chose to do she could no
wrong in Kerrie's eyes. Her plan to confront the young woman about her
treachery had been foiled before it even began, and her focus soon
shifted to more practical concerns. "I was just checking to see if you
were all right..." she asked, telling only a half-truth as she pulled back
and looked over the woman for signs of injury.
"I thought you were dead..." Jelena revealed, her arms tightly wrapped
around her faithful bodyguard. "I am well. So is Drusilla and
Ewwiekewwieikkie," she quickly added as she looked over the woman. There
seemed to be no sign of damage, as she had no understanding that
Kerrie's shape-shifting ability easily marked the scars she had acquired
over the years.
Kerrie wished she could confess to Jelena that she knew about her
treachery. Perhaps she could reason with her, perhaps she could appeal
to her to change her ways. Unfortunately, she could not bring herself to
speak these words and they would have to remain unspoken thoughts that
she hid within the deep recesses of her hand. There was, however, Major
Arden Zevrin to deal with, and for that she would not allow herself to
break down. "I should get going..." Kerrie said reluctantly, pulling away
from Jelena's embrace. She had a date with the Major that she had put
off long enough.
Jelena's jovial grin sunk noticeably upon realizing that Kerrie was
going to leave so quickly. "Oh..." she said, sounding very much the
teenage girl that she was, with frequent shifting mood swings affected
by the slightest change in lunar movement. "Won't you stay?" she asked
as she shifted uncomfortably in the bed, brining her legs up against her
body. "I am stuck here and I do not get many visitors..." she confessed,
somewhat reluctantly as she flashed a hopeful smile in the direction of
the woman only several weeks ago viewed with anger and contempt.
Kerrie was halfway towards the corridor when she heard Jelena's plea
and cringed, realizing that it was one that she could not ignore. She
lowered her head in defeat and turned to offer her a genuine smile of
appreciation for the comradeship. "Yes ... I can stay," she said as she
moved some of Jelena's discarded clothing off a chair and pulled it
beside the bed. There she sat, and she tried to make herself as
comfortable as possible in the unusual situation.
Jelena's frown turned upside down as she sat up excitedly in the bed,
and offered a kind smile to her sworn protector. "I spend so much time
beside you..." she stated with slight hesitation, not sure that this was
the best time to bring up such a topic. "...but I feel as if I do not know
you," she admitted, trying to maintain the smile upon her young face,
losing its innocence by the hour. "Please. Tell me about yourself?" she
asked, pleading with the woman, a slight twinge of desperation in her
Kerrie was not one to open up about her personal life, and her
initial request was to refuse the young one's request, but she could not
bring herself to do it. There was something about the Rodney family that
weakened her resolve, and melted away her fortitude. "There is not much
to tell, Milady," she said, not thinking too much of herself. "...but, if
it is a story you seek I will do my best to oblige," she said genuinely
as she nodded her head to the young woman.
Jelena lay back in the bed, quite exhausted, as she pulled her bed
sheet up over her. There was a sincere smile plastered upon her face
that looked up to the woman as she snuggled comfortably in bed. "Yes.
Please, Maj..." she began formally, but quickly corrected herself.
"Kerrie," she quickly corrected herself. Perhaps with some better
understanding of the woman she could open to herself in a way that
previously seemed revolting.
Kerrie's eyes shifted downward as she pondered her predicament. Her
life had been thus far ... complicated, and she considered what was safe
to tell Jelena and what was best to remain unspoken. "I was born on the
planet Zolan. An unimportant planet in the Mid Rim," she began, always
sentimental when discussing her homeworld. "I was only raised by my
parents for five years before I began my studies with the Mabari..." she
continued, before she found herself interrupted.
Jelena listened carefully, hanging on every word as if it held some
great importance. "...the Mabari?" she rudely interrupted, not wanting to
give the Major adequate time to explain herself. She considered herself
well-studied during her time at the Alderaan Select Academy for Young
Ladies, but she had never heard the term used before.
Kerrie smiled politely, realizing that Jelena was genuinely
interested in whom she was and where she had come from. She found it
hard to believe that anyone was interested, but nevertheless she would
indulge her fancy and continue the story. "Yes, I was getting to that..."
she informed her, a soft chuckle escaping her lips as she was beginning
to enjoy the role of storyteller. "The Mabari are an ancient order of
warriors on my homeworld. It is a great honor to be selected to train
with them..." she explained, as a proud smile found itself onto the false
Human appearance she gave herself. "Unfortunately, I was not selected
and was only trained after they took pity upon me when my parents
abandoned me..." she reluctantly informed Jelena, not feeling comfortable
discussing it with her.
Jelena frowned as she listened to Kerrie's tale of abandonment,
reaching out with her right hand to offer a simple gesture of kindness
in the form of a reassuring squeeze to the woman's left knee. "I am
sorry, Kerrie," she said, the thought of being abandoned by one's
parents a familiar one to her. She felt abandoned by her mother when she
died, and although she had her father in her life he was rarely there
for and more and more he seemed a man foreign to her. "Why did they
abandon you?" she asked, realizing it was impolite to have asked almost
immediately following her speaking the words.
Kerrie let loose a soft sigh as she listened to Jelena's questioning,
wondering if perhaps it was better to simply not answer it. "My father
had a small transport company. It never made him any real money, but it
paid the bills," she began, the sense of loss becoming more evident as
she recounted the tale. "Unfortunately at the outbreak of the Clone Wars
my people sided against the Republic, and although my father remained
loyal, the Republic stripped him of his business in a punitive gesture..."
she revealed to Jelena, a deep sense of bitterness in every word that
she spoke. "With no prospects he turned me over to the Mabari whom he
thought he could give me a better life..." she said quietly, a single tear
forming in the corner of her left eye and then rolling down her cheek.
Jelena sniffled softly, feeling touched and moved by Kerrie's
harrowing tale of her childhood. "The Republic was wrong," she said,
reassuringly, her hand once again offering a firm, reassuring squeeze of
the woman's knee. "Whoever did that to your father was a monster," she
added, nodding her head in support of her strange, newfound confidant.
"Why are you not still with the Mabari?" she asked, finding the story
much more interesting than any of the gossip and rumors that circulated
about the Major.
Kerrie paused for a moment, deliberately choosing not to reveal that
it was Jelena's father who had orchestrated the destruction of her
father's business and sent her down the path she currently found herself
on. It was an important part of her story, perhaps the most important
part ... but Jelena would never understand and it was best to give her at
least a small part of her father left to admire. "The Mabari and I found
ourselves at odds..." she explained, thinking back over it clearly. "I
wanted to use the skills I had developed during my years of training ...
and they wanted me to learn the lesson that it was better not to use
them," she said with a series of slight nods, indicating that perhaps
she saw the logic in their words in the years since she had left Zolan.
"I was exiled for my beliefs and the only man I ever loved turned his
back to me..." she added, in a part of the story she had not revealed to
Jelena's father or step-mother.
Jelena found a couple of tears running down her cheek and obliterated
them, using her sheet to wipe them away effortlessly. She was thoroughly
engrossed with the tale, but she still had a large number of questions.
She would waste no time, however, and not hesitate to ask them. "...but
that still doesn't explain what you are doing here protecting me?" she
asked, the smallest of smiles returning to her delicate facial features.
Kerrie laughed softly, looking down at the young noblewoman. "No. No
I suppose it doesn't..." she added as she leaned back in the chair, making
herself slightly more comfortable before continuing. "I began my career
as a bodyguard in the Mid Rim, but a powerful bounty hunter quickly
showed me that I still had a lot to learn..." she recounted, remembering
the first time she met Lobo Skorr and how soundly he had defeated her.
She was very much a little girl then compared to what she ultimately
become. "He taught me a valuable lesson..." she continued, always
remembering the man with kind admiration. "It is one that your parents
would probably prefer I did not share with you..." she added, as a
slightly improper grin formed upon her face. "He taught me that taking
lives was more profitable than protecting them..." she revealed with some
reluctance, not wanting to corrupt the young woman. "...so I became a
bounty hunter. I was terrible at it first, but I soon got better..." she
continued to explain, before yet another familiar interruption.
Jelena's eyes flashed wide as she listened to this part of the story.
She never would have suspected the woman had once been a bounty hunter.
The stories she had heard about them were often vivid, exaggerated tales
that caused her to regard them as part-criminal, part-hero. It was the
least likely origin she expected for her cold and reserved bodyguard.
"You were a bounty hunter?" she excitedly interrupted, sitting up
slightly on her elbows. Her left fist came over to cover her mouth as
she stifled a soft yawn, being a bit overwhelmed by the stressful events
of the past several days. "...but that still doesn't explain what you're
doing here!" she said playfully, repeating her familiar chorus.
A rewarding smile formed upon Kerrie's lips as she watched the
Jelena's enthusiasm for her tale, and she felt obligated to continue
despite the lateness of the hour. "I thought I was hot stuff..." she said,
laughing at her youthful exuberance as she smiled once again. "...but I
wasn't," she admitted to Jelena as she shook her head back and forth
repeatedly. "The moment I set foot on Coruscant I was captured by the
Empire..." she said with another abrupt chuckle, but her mood almost
instantly soured. "The woman who shot me... who took Lady Htaere... she was
the one who captured me..." she began, her eyes rolling up slightly as she
looked past Jelena and instead focused within herself. "...she did things
to me that I will not share with you," she informed Jelena reluctantly,
uncomfortably swallowing as she attempted to moisten her palette that
was quickly drying from her nervousness. "In the end she broke me and I
agreed to serve the Empire..." she revealed, before finding herself yet
again interrupted. Perhaps, like an instructor, she should have
requested that all questions be withheld to the end of the story.
Jelena's face lit up with a knowing smile and attentive eyes, as if
she had just unraveled the mystery behind the formation of the universe.
"...and that is what you are doing here!" she announced so confidently,
allowing herself to fall back against the mattress as she struggled to
find comfort on the flimsy sleeper. She assumed the story was over, and
she rolled onto her side to prepare for some much needed sleep when she
was unexpectedly corrected.
"Not quite..." Kerrie admitted to Jelena, wondering if perhaps she
should just let her rest. Truthfully, she was enjoying telling the
story, and it gave her a chance to address some of the facets of her
life that she shared only with herself. "On my first mission ... to Rodia
... I ended up being captured by the Black Sun..." she continued, her face
turning into a frown as she recounted one of the darker moments of her
life. "I was spying on them, and for reasons that I still don't
understand, they were none too pleased with the revelation..." she added
with clear sarcasm, feeling the need to interject humor into what was a
very morbid tale. "After being subjected to their..." she paused, not
easily feeling the need to reveal that she was in fact captured and
tortured again, she searched for a better word. "...hospitality..." she
added with a laugh, finding the word suited her needs sufficiently. "I
escaped and discovered the Empire believed I was dead..." she said as she
turned her face to observe if Jelena was still engrossed in the tale.
"...and who am I to argue with the Empire?" she said as she laughed
softly, a playful smile taking up residence upon the rounded features of
Jelena sat up slightly, fighting back the tiredness she was feeling
to continue to listen to the story with eager anticipation of what was
to come. "The Black Sun?" she questioned, with obvious disbelief as she
wondered whether or not the Major was beginning to embellish to make the
story more entertaining. "Now you're just pulling my leg..." she added
with a soft grin, swatting at Kerrie's knee playfully with her right
hand. "Okay. Okay. Let's say I buy that..." she said slowly, as she
studied Kerrie's facial features for hints of sincerity. "...that still
doesn't explain what you're doing here!" she repeated, looking to her
with a sense of urgency to hear the end of the story.
Kerrie raised her right hand to rub the back of neck slowly, lowering
her head slightly as she considered the next part of the story. She was
beginning to develop a crick in her back from sitting in the chair so
long, which caused her to stretch slightly. "I returned to becoming a
bounty hunter..." she continued, nodding her head to Jelena as she once
again found the flow of the story. "During that time of my life I was
angry at the world and I took it out on my marks. I became more of an
assassin than a legitimate hunter..." she confessed, her hands mingling
with one another uncomfortably in her lap as she feared being judged by
the woman. "That is how I came to find service with the Hutts..." she
paused, before adding the next, painful bit. "...and how I came to once
again encounter my parents," she revealed, her voice sounding very meek
and distant as her meant forward to the next chapter of the story.
Jelena withheld judgment, though quite obviously she found killing
people to be wrong, and killing people for credits to be reprehensible.
She bit her tongue, realizing that this was not the appropriate venue to
criticize Kerrie. But, more than that, she did not want to jeopardize
hearing the end of the story. "...what do your parents have to do with the
Hutts?" she asked, as she tiredly brought her hands to her eyes to
lazily rub them. The two not seem together, and she was keenly
interested to hear where this was going.
Kerrie's muscles tensed, her arms crossing her chest as her hands
repeatedly rubbed against one another in her lap. She was clearly
uncomfortable, and would have gladly traded anything she owned for a
comlink message that would call her away, that would keep her from
having to tell the next part of this story. She was committed, however,
and she would not be able to pull back this far into the story. "After
leaving Zolan my father had to rely on his skills as a pilot. He had
accumulated a lot of debt to a lot of unscrupulous lenders..." she
reasoned, trying to justify her father's decision. It was somewhat
strange that an assassin found the need to justify the career of a
smuggler, but when describing family it was often the case. "...he began
smuggling for the Hutts, but, while he earned enough to pay the original
sum borrowed, the interested accrued in such a usurial manner that he
could never pay it off..." but before she could continue, the young
Alderaanian interrupted her once more.
"...but he was stuck," Jelena added, finishing Kerrie's sentence. She
had followed every word the Major had spoken thus far, and was finally
able to follow the path through the narrative she was weaving for her.
She swallowed softly, as deep down she already knew the answer to her
next question. Still, it was Kerrie's job to complete the story and it
would be unfair of her now to simply assume the ending and steal her
thunder. "...why aren't you with them now?" she asked, her eyes slowly and
uncomfortable descending from Kerrie's face to stare off at one of the
viewports on the opposing bulkhead.
Kerrie could not maintain eye contact either and her eyes found a
comfortable resting place on the deck of the small bedroom Jelena was
temporary occupying. "They did not approve of the fact my skills were
being used to end lives," she said quietly, still not wanting to believe
this next part of her life had actually happened. "I was being
controlled by own personal demons and I could not understand what they
wanted so desperately for me to see," she informed Jelena, trying to
rationalize it having since learned that they were right, and she was
wrong. "They disowned me..." she revealed, speaking the words that pained
her more than any others. She sighed audibly, letting out a tired groan
as she stared longingly up at the ceiling before continuing. "My parents
were caught in a rivalry between the Hutt clans that they knew nothing
of..." she continued, picking up the story with a sense of anger and
unreconciled grief from the wound that was still fresh. "They were
killed by overzealous members of the Corellian Defense Force...." she
revealed, breathing in deeply as she struggled against the rolling tide
of emotion that threatened to sweep her away. She refocused however, as
she knew the story was not yet finished, and she regained her composure
in order to complete the story, as if it were paramount duty.
Jelena bit down firmly on her lower lip, drawing some blood within
her mouth as she fought the urge to begin crying. It was Kerrie's loss,
not her own, and she felt it would be crass to take away from the moment
by allowing her shared feelings for the loss of her own mother to
dominate the conversation and take away from the story. She took a
moment to steady herself, her jaw eventually relenting and allowing her
crimson-stained lips to part so that she could once again sleep. "...but
that doesn't explain what you're doing here," she said for a final time,
this time spoken very quiet with a hint of tragedy, completely devoid of
the playful humor she had used in previous efforts.
Kerrie paused as her eyes slowly moved from the floor to Jelena. When
she began this story, she had vowed to herself that she would not reveal
this person. Unfortunately, now that she had come this far she realized
the story was not complete without the essential element. Her body
trembled slightly, shaking as if she was suddenly doused with a bucket
of cold water. Her lip quivered and then began to tremble, but with much
hesitation she chose to continue. "I chose to avenge my parents..." she
said bitterly, still remembering the horrific manner with which she
eliminated so many of those who played both direct, and indirect, roles
in her parents untimely demise. "I got them all..." she said proudly, her
jaw clenching slightly as the anger was still confusing her. The lust
for revenge only grew greater each time she killed in it's name, as she
learned the powerful lesson that violence was an unending circle that
only beget more violence. "...except one..." she was quick to point out, but
before she could continue she was once again interrupted, but this time
not in the way she expected.
The sound of Jelena snoring soon filled the room, the young girl
having fallen asleep before reaching the powerful climax of the story.
She went to sleep believing Kerrie had succeeded in avenging her
parents, but still uncertain as to how that resulted in her coming into
the service of her father. Perhaps the story was better without the true
ending known, and the young girl entered into a dream state where she
began to imagine a series of colorful, heroic ways that would justify
the love and affection Kerrie seemed to have for her father and his
family, including her.
Kerrie moved her hands over Jelena, pulling the sheet up over her to
make sure she was warm and comfortable in the poorly-constructed
military-grade sleeper. Kerrie always felt cold in space, and she
suspected Jelena might as well. "Your father was the one who stripped my
father of his business..." she continued, in a soft, barely audible
whisper that would not wake the young woman. She had promised to finish
the story, and she would keep that promise ... even on a technicality. "I
tried my best to kill him. For a brief period I believed I had, but I
failed..." she revealed, still finding it a bit hard to believe she could
not kill a middle-aged bureaucrat. "For my crime, I should have been
executed..." she continued, brining the story up to recent events that
Jelena would have been familiar with, had she been awake. "I chose to
protect him because I believed that if I kept him alive ... I would always
have the hatred for him ... and that was all I had..." she admitted, nodding
her head in agreement of her words, still surprised by how things
ultimately turned out. "I have come to love him as a father..." she
revealed, somewhat shockingly as the tears once again found their way
onto her face, as familiar a site there as a bantha on Tatooine. "...and
you like a sister. Good night, <<pateesa>>" she concluded, invoking her
more comfortable Huttese. As Jelena stepped, Kerrie maintained watch
over her ... the young woman's request for a story inadvertently sparing
the life of Major Zevrin. The truth of how Kerrie came to be there was
the antithesis of the heroic, noble tales Jelena was envisioning in her
dreams. But there lies the difference between the two, and that is why
little girls like Jelena dream and little women like Kerrie sit awake at