Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Christopher Levy and J. Kate Stasiak.
Zero years after the Battle of Yavin (35:8:8) in the Brentaal system: Tenacity and in the Essesia system: Tenacity and Warspite.
El-Nay Darr, Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca, Major Kerrie Kiley, Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, Rear Admiral Rhiannon T'Jarell, and Major Min Traebor.


Stationed back on the bridge of the VSD Tenacity, Commodore T'Jarell stood tall and rigid, her dark gaze transfixed upon the viewport of the ship and not at all keen at reading any more blasted, useless reports. They had places to be, Grand Moffs to appease. This latest fiasco, known as a 'hyperdrive malfunction' was not doing her any favors. They were already late, and it was a miracle that the comms systems were not ablaze with angry demands from the Warspite. Then again, given the nature of that ship's commanding officer, there would be no such demands. But there could be severe disciplinary action taken, Rhia thought, as her face turned grim in tandem with receiving a datapad from an intensely flustered communications officer. She scanned the data briefly, stifling a sigh of relief that rose in her throat.

"About bloody time. Let's get under way."

Power couplings were significant little nuisances which Rhia did not care for. Now that they had been taken care of, perhaps they could make it to Rodney's bloody conference, on time. "Set course for the Essesia System," she directed the navigations officer. "Engage hyperspace on my mark."

It would not be a particularly long trip, especially considering the jump, but the seconds were mercilessly ticking by, each passing one making Rhiannon more late and her predicament more severe. On top of the ship's mechanical failure and the undue tardiness that followed, was a much more delicate matter - that of Rhiannon's own opinions considering the Grand Moff's actions at Esseles. To put it more succinctly, she deeply resented Rodney's actions in the system, believing them to be reckless and illogical. Still, she kept her opinions largely to herself, not wanting to provoke the man's ire. The very last thing he needed right now, was to have his lover (and staunchest supporter) to waver in her beliefs in his regard. But the tenacity with which Claudius Rodney pursued his wayward daughter's supposed whereabouts was very unsettling; it also seemed to pull with it a string of unfortunate consequences that would take a grave toll on the inhabitants of any planet or system the Grand Moff found himself hunting in.

Grand Moff Claudius Rodney stood silently within the confines of the conference room aboard his command ship, the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Warspite, with his back turned to those in attendance. Instead, his focus was shifted on the transparasteel viewport that his hand was pressed upon, as he looked sorrowfully down at the blue and green surface of Esseles that loomed beneath them. His daughter was down there ... and so he thought ... and that was all he cared about, and as the officers prattled on he grew increasingly disinterested by their reports and frustrated at their failure to produce any news concerning his daughter. He could feel the strain of the past month upon him, and he lowered his head, closing his eyes as the voice from behind him began to be drowned out by the sound of the ship's motion as he began to drift.

"Governor?" the decidedly exotic voice of Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca said, as she tilted her head like a confused animal at his lack of interest in her very well thought out presentation. "Governor?" she asked again, clearing her throat as she spoke somewhat louder this time. The others in the room shifted their attention uncomfortably from the projection of the daily briefing to that of the weary Grand Moff clinging to the viewport. "As I was saying, sir," she continued, desiring to refocus the attention of the officers back to the matter at hand. "Our blockade has crippled Esseles's economy. The planet has depended on its shipping industry since the formation of the hyperspace lanes. While I certainly understand your desire to prevent the lady Jelena from transiting the system..." she paused, uncomfortably, as she lacked the tact to discuss the topic delicately. "If we continue this blockade the planet is likely headed into open revolt as a result of the economic calamity. Already General Zethe is reporting an increased in protests and demonstrations. The Ringali Shell Security Force is refusing to arrest them claiming their facilities are full, and we simply do not have an adequate garrison to police an entire populous in revolt. As you can see in the General's memorandum dated..." she continued, going into laborious detail, as was her nature, before she was unceremoniously cut off.

"Enough!" Claudius shouted, as he suddenly turned to his Chiss tactical officer in an unprecedented rage. "If the good General is claiming he is inadequate to deal with the situation then perhaps I should have him replaced," he continued, moving away from the viewport and swiftly approaching the tactical display with broad steps. "The blockade will continue until we have rescued my daughter from the clutches of her Rebel manipulators," he insisted, as his eyes coldly looked over the officer corps that he could sense were increasingly losing their confidence in him. "I should replace all of you ... like Major Zevrin," he continued, raising his index finger directly in the face of the younger, Chiss officer who had served him faithfully thus far.

Major Kerrie Kiley had thus far remained silent, like a watchful guard dog at her master's feet, but while she was not political, she could easily take the temperature of those in the room. She took several steps forward towards the Governor, and placed a reassuring a hand upon his shoulder, which was initially shrugged off. "Milord, we will find her," she said, exuding a false sense of confidence. She was a skilled tracker, but had uncovered nothing ... privately, she doubted that Jelena remained on Esseles, but she felt revealing her thoughts would only add to his consternation. "Everyone here knows their duties, and they have the skills, training, and experience to carry out this mission," she said quietly, so that those further from them might have difficulty distinguishing her words. As his aide she felt it her duty to protect him from what he was risking as he threatened his staff, and nervously looked over them to attempt to read their reactions. The physical attack on Arden Zevrin and her sudden and unexpected fall from power had sent shockwaves through the command, and she of all people knew that the Imperial Security Bureau was not about to let such an affront go unchecked. These were difficult times where Imperial rivals were just as dangerous as the Rebellion.

Standing on board the bridge unmoving, Rhia let her thoughts sweep her attention away until the alarm signifying their exit out of hyperspace resounded. Blinking, she snapped back to the reality of the now and, licking her lips, walked over to the communications pit, staring down at the officer who had been in charge of compiling reports. "Signal the Warspite," she directed the man below, calmly. "Let them know we apologize for the delay but it could not have been helped due to mechanical failure. I shall transport on board immediately."

As her orders were acknowledged, Rhiannon wasted no time in getting her briefcase and proceeding down to the hangar bay. Moments later, her shuttle was seen launching and making its way to the Grand Moff's flagship. Arriving without incident in the underbelly of the Warspite, the Commodore gathered her belongings and exited promptly, heading down the landing ramp and to the nearest turbolift. She did not expect an escort, rushing down the durasteel plates without returning a single salute or acknowledgment. Her mind buzzing with thoughts of what would happen after the conference took place, wondering if she would have the mental stamina to tell the Grand Moff exactly what she wanted to say to him, the day this whole ridiculous mess started.

With the turbolift doors opening on the desired floor, Rhia headed for the conference room where everyone was no doubt already deep in the thrall of heated discussion. Stopping in front of the door, she pressed the activation button without engaging the chime and waited for it to open. She had no idea whether the proceedings would be highly classified or not, and fully expected to be denied access. Without surprise, she noticed that the doors would not open, so she removed the rank cylinders from her uniform and tried again, this time with the desired outcome. As the door swung open with a dull thud, she stepped through, reaffixing her 'insignia' before taking the first available free seat at the table. Her gaze snapped to the figure of Claudius Rodney and remained there as she set down her briefcase and pulled out a datapad, setting it in front of her.

Undoubtedly, she had missed some substantial portions of the conference, but that did not matter now. All that mattered, was that she was here - ready to listen and participate in what remained.

"Good of you to join us, Commodore," Claudius sarcastically said, as he turned his attention from Major Kiley, who he had otherwise ignored. "Had you been earlier you could have listened to my tactical officer narrate the whining complaints of General Zethe in her unmistakable tones for our amusement, as if we were watching a documentary on the HoloNet," he said to her, being uncharacteristically cruel and xenophobic of the junior officer. He could have continued, unnecessarily, before other matters captured his attention. "She wants to end the blockade," he said, as he moved towards Rhia, while still referring to the Chiss. "They all do," he said a bit louder, as he looked over each of the officers that were seated in front of him. "As I know you do also," he said, quietly and more reserved, as he allowed a hand to fall upon the black table in front of her, leaving a moist palm print from his clammy hands.

It was then that a ubiquitous naval officer appeared as the conference room door suddenly opened, but he was not conscious and almost immediately his body was carelessly thrown to the ground. Behind him emerged the unmistakable image of Mandalorian, but not nearly as tall or physically imposing as had been popularized in holovids. This woman was adorned in a set or orange armor that signified a lust for life amongst her people, and from beneath her T-shaped visor a playful grin was plastered among her young face that none could see. She was quite proud of herself for making it this far, but having been denied access to the Grand Moff ... and her credits ... she decided to make an alternate means of entry. "I'm sorry for interrupting," El-Nay Darr said sarcastically from beneath her helmet, as she stepped over the body and moved towards the middle-aged Moff. "But a girl just can't seem to get an appointment these days, and there is the matter of my reward," she said, as her left hand revealed the presence of a primed grenade. "So ... if you'll just pay me, I can be on my way," she said, tilting her head slightly to the left as she studied the man, sticking her pink tongue out at him from beneath the safety of her helmet as it could not be seen.

"You hired El-Nay Darr?!" Kerrie asked the Grand Moff incredulously, unsure of whether to be angry or to burst into laughter. She had worked with her father, but that was another life, and had knew her when she was a child. She had never thought much of her and when she read reports that she had taken up her father's trade, she had assumed that El-Nay would not last very long. The grenade, however, was no laughing matter, and she realized that in this confined space the explosion would likely kill everyone in the room indiscriminately. All she had was her sidearm, and she dared not draw it and provoke the inexperience, young hunter.

"Well ... you were in a coma, and she was in your files, Major," Claudius said to appease his aide, before shifting his focus to the Mandalorian mercenary. He remembered her as being one of the bounty hunters that had answered his call when his daughter first went into hiding, but had not heard from them in some time ... he had all but given up on them. "Now look here, Miss Darr," he said, defiantly, seeming unmoved by her brash display, as he took a step towards her. "The reward was for the safe return of my daughter. Not for the incapacitation of an Imperial officer. So unless there's something you're not telling me ... get off my ship!" he snarled, his hand clenching tightly into a fist as if he were prepared to incapacitate the young hunter singlehandedly.

El-Nay froze for a moment, narrowing her gaze at the man, as she processed his words, which caused her to grow increasingly confused. Her left thumb slid over the arming mechanism of the grenade and deactivated it to the relief of all in the room, but as she attempted to reattach it to her belt, she dropped it, and after landing with an ominous *clank* it rolled harmlessly upon the ground. "Oops," she said with a tinge of embarrassment, before refocusing on the matter of hand. "The Nerf Herder captured her two weeks ago. She was hiding in the slums of Nurrale," she explained, folding her arms in front of her chest as she looked over the man quixotically. "His girl of the month got the drop on me and tried to cut me out. I'll deal with her later, but I figure I'm owed a third of the money for her capture," she said, tilting her head upwards slightly towards the Grand Moff. "And the last I saw of her ... she was safe," she continued, not seeing fit to reveal the savage beating she had unleashed on the girl before she was attacked by the other hunter.

When the grenade rolled across the floor, Kerrie instinctively moved to pick it up before the inexperienced hunter accidentally blasted them all into space. Once the explosive was firmly secured, she took several steps towards El-Nay and glared at her. "This is not a toy," she said, in a chastising tone, which echoed the words spoken by her parents years ago when she knew her father. "If you don't know how to use something ... don't use it," she added, her own brand of wisdom, as she reached up with a gloved hand and pounded on the side of her helmet, in a literal attempt to knock some sense into her. What a sorry state of affairs the Bounty Hunters' Guild must have been in, she thought silently to herself. The mention of the Nerf Herder troubled her, however, as he was the hunter whom she knew the least about, and respected the most ... if he had Jelena she believed it would be a far more difficult proposition of getting her back than if she was merely with some local Rebel cell. But, there was no ransom, no demands ... what was going on here was beyond her capacity.

Rhiannon's gaze continued to linger upon Rodney's features even as the bounty hunter made her 'splashy' appearance in their midst. She retained cold blood in the face of the grenade threat, wondering just what kind of Mandalorian this newcomer was, appearing clumsier than a bantha in a china shop. Perhaps appearances were deceiving in this case, she thought to herself; although there was little to be gained by such 'play'. The thought of inexperience entered Rhia's mind, but was quickly dismissed as the Grand Moff would not hire anyone even remotely inept at their art. Registering the comment made by another, Rhia's peripheral gaze quickly registered the astute little persona of Kerrie Kiley; an officer that was not yet of her acquaintance yet with some semblance of 'familiarity' to her. Rhiannon could not put her finger on it, wondering what this young Major was doing at the conference as she assumed this was a meeting of highest and most important 'brass' in the Grand Moff's employ. The little Major must have been someone of utmost significance to Rodney; a supposition Rhiannon made a note of in her head, to ask the Grand Moff about at a later date. In the meantime, her gaze shifted to El-Nay.

"Hmm, cad olyay nayc ne'waadas par sarcuryr vaii buse'e ta'yr liser tekara."

Smiling pleasantly, she addressed the bounty hunter in a language she should have immediately recognized and hopefully, comprehended. It meant, simply, "there is no need for violence where common sense can prevail", though its proper pronouncement did not come without difficulty. It was quite sometime since Rhia had the chance to practice the Mandalorian tongue; it was something of a by-product of her early days of service seen under Admiral Kabak and something he felt, was wise and useful to master. Well, now it seemed to have come in handy.

"If I may, who is this ... Nerf Herder?" Canting her head at the bounty hunter, Rhia let her gaze pulsate between the Grand Moff and the beskar-gam clad female. "But forgive me, I speak out of turn yet I find it difficult to take part in a meeting where one's mind is filled with blanks. And further, where is any evidence that this so-called Nerf Herder has the Governor's daughter? Or are we simply forced to take your words at face value while you scramble for a petty reward and run, beroya?

Picking up the datapad from the table, Rhia let her fingers do an elaborate dance pattern upon the surface, entering some information as she waited for the bounty hunter or the Grand Moff, to address her concerns.

"K'uur di'kulta aruetii!" El-Nay snapped at Rhia as she heard her native tongue spoken by one of the Imperials. She felt disgusted to hear the words spoken by ones who had caused so much difficulty for her people. She suddenly felt surrounded, and the audacity of her plan now made her uneasy as while she had found a way to get in, she had not bothered to find a way out. Perhaps it was time to play nice, she thought to herself, as she looked over the Imperial Commodore. "The Nerf Herder is a bounty hunter ... and an asshole," she added, the tone of voice making it clear she was speaking from personal betrayal. "I do not lie. We captured her in the city of Nurrale two weeks ago. Him, myself, and that bitch Dimona. We were on our way to bring her here ... or so I thought ... when they got rid of me," she said, angrily, as her hands instinctively curled into fists.

"He is the second finest hunter I have had the pleasure of encountering in my journeys," Major Kiley quickly interjected as she considered the situation. "Milord, despite my misgivings regarding her talent, I nevertheless believe she is telling the truth," she said, as her attention shifted from the hunter to the governor. "If there was anyone in the region most likely to find her it would have been him, and if he got her offworld two weeks ago it would explain why we've had no success in our searches," she reasoned, logically, but she realized how little logic played into the mind of a man so stubbornly driven by emotion.

Claudius Rodney could not find words at the moment as he watched the drama play out in front of him. If this bounty hunter did indeed have his daughter he would use every possible resource at his disposal to hunt him down. He said nothing, however, and allowed his subordinates to handle the questioning. He was content to listen and brood as the developments unfolded, with each trickle of information bringing him one step closer to his daughter and one step closer to rage.

Rhiannon smirked under her breath as she was 'commanded' to hush. She expected as much, truth be told, and so did not take any of it to heart. Instead, she chose to listen to the woman's explanation, finding much anger in her, on top of the arrogance she already encountered. Again, she was not amazed by it. In a time of war, such things were expected.

"How did they get rid of you?" she asked, incredulous. "You do not come across as the type that is easily dispensed with." Did they outrun the Mandalorian or merely plied her so high on spice that she could scarcely remembered her own name? "Regardless, this isn't exactly leading us anywhere ... special," Rhiannon's lips pursed mischievously as she accented the last word for the bounty hunter. "And now we have a useless blockade to contend with. Perhaps it is time to put simple logic to use, Governor." Watching her lover closely, she tried to read his most minute gestures, his most seemingly insignificant body language, and gauge just how far she could push. Ascertaining that his emotion was still peaking beneath that perfectly starched uniform, the Commodore decided to play a risky game based upon its volatile state.

"Just how much in terms of liquid assets or portable wealth does the Lady Jelena command, would you say, Governor?"

"Cui ogir'olar, cyar'ika," El-Nay replied to Rhia sarcastically, as she listened to enough of the woman's mockery. "There's still the matter of my credits, Governor. And then I'll be on my way..." she said, as she turned her attention from the woman to the man once again. Defiantly, she folded her arms in front of her orange colored chestplate, tapping her booted foot upon the deck as she expected him to pay her right there on the spot. She still had a lot to learn about the business her father so much hoped she would avoid.

"Enough with the credits," Claudius said, dismissively, as he turned his attention to more pressing matters. "Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca ... terminate the blockade," he said after a pause, somewhat reluctantly as he considered his next options. "In terms of personal wealth, Commodore?" he asked, as he shifted his gaze back to the beautiful, young Hapan. "Not much. An allowance ... a trifle. As to the bounty? I offered 50,000 to attract significant attention," he continued, as he thought about all that had just transpired. "I want this Nerf Herder found and dealt with," he ordered, as he moved back towards the datapad to look up the files that Kerrie had prepared on the notable bounty hunters for him sometime ago.

At the other end of the table Major Min Traebor had quietly remained seated, listening to the briefing, the arguments, and the theatricality of the novice bounty hunter. She was the one woman in the room who knew the true identity of the Nerf Herder. She had captured him, and could have killed him if she wanted, but he was too much of an amusement to simply dispose of. In fact, he was the one she had contracted for unsuccessful assassination of the Grand Moff last year. She could open her mouth and speak the words that would resolve this mystery and end this sorry affair. She could do this, but she would not ... for she perceived the Governor as an incompetent and any attempt to undermine him would suit her perfectly. Privately, she knew the Nerf Herder would not harm or ransom the young noblewoman ... afterall, she was his niece.

"Hmm, fifty thousand ... undoubtedly word has reached many ears, although some of it will have garnered the unwanted significant attention, as well. Also, it is possible ... however unlikely ... that the young heiress, your daughter, might want to buy her own freedom citing family assets on Delaya or anywhere else she could find relatives that would give her sanctuary from you, sir. Is there any way of tracking this Nerf Herder? Preferably without interference of our current 'help'," she smiled pleasantly in El-Nay's direction, "as I am sure she is eager to get her payment and be on her way. As for our current state of affairs, I would ask that you allow me to travel to the Alderaan system, my lord - and let me have a closer look at the beauty of the planet. I would also inquire after your family's health on your behalf, of course ... but I would intend to make this visit a most obscure one. Traveling incognito is all the rage these days, is it not?"

The last thing he wanted was to speak to either of his parents. Dealing with them on a regular basis was an ordeal, but with Jelena missing it would be a nightmare of a conversation. There was a great sense of relief at her volunteering to investigate on Delaya, freeing him of any involvement. "Yes. Do what is required, Commodore," he said, offering a subtle smile in addition to the firm nod of his head. "Take Major Kiley with you. She's familiar with the eccentricities of my family, and knows the lay of the land," he said, as he looked over to his aide, who he had vowed to make greater use of since her recent ordeal. He started to walk from the conference room when he noticed the fallen body on the ground that had slipped his mind. "...and take El-Nay Darr as well. She has the most recent contact with this individual, and has a personal motivation that exceeds this merely being a 'job'. It should more than make up for 'this'," he pointed out, as he stepped over the body.

Kerrie's excitement about being sent on a mission was immediately shattered once she heard about the inclusion of El-Nay. "I swear if you commit even one offense I will personally feed you to the Grand Moff's worrt," she threatened, placing her gloved index finger squarely against the woman's T-shaped visor. She had seemingly transitioned from babysitting children to supervising untrained mercenaries ... she had yet to decide which was worse.

Rhiannon was about to protest about having to take the bounty hunter along, but decided now was not the time to start an argument, especially with having all the others present and looking on. Such an altercation could easily compromise her and the Governor, given that the Hapan was a passionate woman and often given to bouts of such passion which were not easily controlled. Thus far, they were limited only to private 'functions' and that is where Rhia intended them to remain.

"As you wish, Governor. I welcome Major Kiley's assistance ... and Darr's as well," she replied with a forced smile. "I am sure we will all get along splendidly. Especially once we are all decked out in Saava silk." A pointed glance was offered to Kerrie, along with a wink. "I think the Major favors the royal purple ... although I believe I will opt for emerald green." Jotting down a few more details on her steadfast datapad, the Hapan once again locked her gaze with the Grand Moff, in tandem with a subtle yet provocative smile. "If time allows, I would like to go over the particulars of this trip with you, Sir. As for the ladies, I believe we can be ready and under way within twenty-four hours, pending the Governor's approval."

Seeing Major Kiley in a dress was almost reason enough for him to make the trip with them, but then he remembered the presence of his parents and quickly purged the thought from his mind. His wife, whom he had been allowing to languish in isolation, had once gotten her into a dress, but he was not permitted to see. "By all means," he said, with a knowing smile, as he proceeded down the corridor towards the turbolift, stopping to wait for her before going any further. It had been a long day ... a long month, and the meetings had seemed to blend into one another. He regretted his outburst ... morso because he had ultimately taken the exact course of action that he had so vehemently protested ... it had all been for naught.

Gathering all of her belongings and placing them securely into the briefcase she came in with, Rhiannon wasted little time in acknowledging those still seated at the conference table before heading to the door, joining the Grand Moff before stepping through it. At that point, she did not care what the others thought, though her blunt invitation and request for a private meeting could scarcely be ignored.

As soon as the doors closed behind the two of them, she glanced to Claudius' profile, peripheral gaze making sure they would not be overheard. "It will be alright," she murmured, fingertips lightly brushing over the woolen fabric that covered his forearm. "You need to trust me. You will get through this, one way or another." She wanted to tell him that now was not the time for letting one's emotions cloud his judgment but her own feelings were becoming increasingly more and more clouded with the troubling emotions she felt for the man. Even though every bone in her body told her that what she was doing was inexplicably idiotic, the young woman would not deny herself the bliss she felt in his arms. Age be damned, she thought as they walked together to the nearest turbolift, basking in dreamy silence. It did not matter - nothing mattered, as long as it felt right. And for Rhia, it did, in spite of the enormous mayhem taking place in their lives right now.

Perhaps it would be the one steady thing in their lives that would keep them afloat, holding onto whatever vitality in their life, that remained. Stopping in front of the lift, Rhia reached out to press the button activating the door, then waited for the lift to arrive. Biting down on her lower lip, she stole a quick glance to Claudius, wondering if he thought of the same things as she. Moments later, when she lay enveloped by his warmth and closeness, she felt thoroughly pacified, needing no further reassurances. If this was love, it was worth it ... and that in itself, was enough.

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