Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Christopher Levy.

One year before the battle of Yavin (34:9:23) in the Brentaal system: Sonthi and Warspite and in the Zolan system: Sonthi and Zolan (Imperial Garrison, Kiley family homestead, and Mabari Monastery).


Cabel Harn, Thad Horku, Major Kerrie Kiley, Kristen Kiley, Vice Admiral Claudius Rodney, Flight Lieutenant Randi Trainor, and Thrax Verdi.


Major Kerrie Kiley opened her eyes slowly, her Reptilian face planted firmly against the military-issued pillow. She squinted, her eyesight slowly coming to her. A moment later, her head began to pound and it felt as if the sides of her head were swollen and ready to cave in. Frustrated, she rolled over and stared expressionless at the dim light that hung above her rack, glowing white with a *humm* of fluorescent current. She sat up slowly, extending her legs over the side of her bed. Her body shivered as her naked flesh came in contact with the cold durasteel deck-plating. As she sat she felt nauseous and the memories of the previous night came flooding into her mind. "Ugh," she groaned as she swallowed, fighting back the urge to vomit. Her eyes stared at the bottle on her nightstand, turned over on its side, the alcohol inside fully consumed. Her hand reached as it did every morning into her nightstand's drawer, removing her blaster pistol. She looked at it for a moment, holding it in her hands with the same care given to a newborn baby. After a moment she raised it to the side of her head and placed the barrel against the trigger. "All I have to do is pull the trigger," she thought silently to herself. She could end her pain and suffering if she could just find the strength to do it. But, she was weak and hesitated. The clock on her nightstand struck 06:00 and the alarm rang, breaking the silence. It was time to go to work.

Major Kerrie Kiley held her eyes closed a moment and exhaled sharply. She stepped forward into Admiral Rodney's office board the Star Destroyer Warspite, unsure of what to expect. All she knew was that she had been summoned and like any obedient underling she made it her top priority to arrive at his office. She cleared her throat and stood at a rigid, military attention in front of his desk. She had worked hard over the past week regaining her composure and wanted the change to be evident in every facet of her life.

Admiral Claudius Rodney was staring at the terminal on the right side of his desk. He intentionally ignored the Major and did not acknowledge her presence until she had cleared her throat. He swiveled his chair forward to face her and looked up at her calmly, "Ah, Major ... please, sit down."

Major Kiley nodded politely and sat down in one of the two chairs situated in front of his desk. She crossed her left leg over her right and folded her hands on top of her lap. She was still unsure of what this meeting was about.

"I have considered your request," Admiral Rodney began to explain, "And after giving it some consider I have decided to grant it."

"My ... request, sir?" Major Kiley replied, unsure of what the Admiral was referencing.

"Yes," the Admiral said as he leaned back in his seat, "Htaere explained to me that you came by last week and expressed a desire to return home. I've granted it."

"She said she..." Kerrie lowered her head slightly before stopping herself, "Thank you, sir."

"You're welcome, Major," Claudius explained. He leaned forward to her and rested his elbows upon the desk, "I had to get special permission from Governor Tarkin. Zolan is a forbidden world and they don't normally allow visitors, but no one knows that better than you I'm sure."

"Yes," Kerrie said. A slight grin formed upon her mimicked Humanoid face as she recalled the great lengths she had to go through to escape the planet in the first place.

"You must maintain a Human appearance at all times," the Admiral explained to her, "No one in the Zolan garrison will be made aware that you are a Clawdite. As far as any of them are concerned you are a Zolander."

"Zolanders are bantha poodoo!" Kerrie exclaimed in disgust before regaining her composure. She sighed before continuing, "Of course. I understand, sir. Is there anything else?"

"Yes," Admiral Rodney informed her, "You'll have to remain in uniform at all times."

Kerrie sunk in her seat. The locals would not respond well to her uniform, but she really was not left much of a choice. "Understood, Milord," she replied, "When may I depart?"

"As soon as you're ready," Claudius explained.

A smile came to Kerrie's face for the first time in more than a week. "I'll start packing," she said, as she rose from the seat. She nodded cheerfully before scurrying out of the room with all of the vigor of the childhood she planned to reexamine.

Admiral Claudius Rodney stood on the flight deck of the Star Destroyer Warspite.

Lieutenant Randi Trainor stood next to him, annoyingly cheerful as usual. "I've never been to Zolan before," she said to the Admiral, "Any idea what it's like?"

"I wouldn't imagine you had," the Admiral explained, "It's been under blockade since the formation of the Empire. About a third of the population is mutated. They have to be quarantined."

"Mutants?" Randi exclaimed, "What kind of planet are you sending me to?"

"Don't worry, Lieutenant," the Admiral said reassuringly, "The mutation is not contagious. It is a genetic defect that has developed over millennia of close proximity to their sun."

"All the same, Admiral," the Lieutenant said, "I ain't goin' anywhere near no mutants!"

Major Kerrie Kiley stepped out of the turbolift carrying a large duffel bag. It contained all of her worldly possessions, which were few and far between. Her upbeat mood had continued and she briskly strode towards Randi and the Admiral. "Permission to depart, sir," Kerrie said as she dropped her bag to the deck below.

"Of course, Major," the Admiral said with a warm smile, "I've arranged for Lieutenant Trainor here to fly you in my personal shuttle."

Kerrie flashed a quick glance to Ran before returning her gaze to the Admiral. "I was hoping to fly myself, sir," she explained, "Time alone is what I need. No offense to you or anything, Ran."

Randi jumped at the opportunity to get out of this assignment, "Major Kiley has more than enough flight time, sir. I'm sure she can handle it."

"Very well, Major," the Admiral said after a brief pause, "It is your vacation, not mine."

"Thank you, sir," Kerrie said as she reached for her duffel bag.

The Admiral lunged for her suddenly. For a moment Kerrie was startled before she felt the Admiral's firm grip come around her backside. He had never hugged her before. An awkward smile formed upon her face as she was held there in his embrace. After a moment she reached her arms around him and patted him nervously on the back. The hug did not break and finally Kerrie was forced to break the awkward silence, "I ... really should be going, sir."

"Oh ... yes ... of course," the Admiral released his grip and took a step back. He then smiled at her proudly. "Enjoy your vacation, Mm...Kerrie," he told her.

"I'll only be gone a week," Kerrie said. She laughed at him with a big smile as she hoisted her duffel bag and walked up the ramp of the Lambda Shuttle Sonthi. Kerrie gave a final wave to the Admiral and Ran as the ramp closed up behind her.

Claudius returned the wave and remained silent as he watched the Sonthi lift up.

"You're acting like you're never going to see her again," Randi said jokingly.

Claudius made no reply and watched through the hangar as the increasingly distant shuttle made the jump to lightspeed.

The Lambda Shuttle Sonthi emerged from hyperspace near Zolan. Kerrie's eyes immediately went wide as she looked at the sight arrayed before her. The Imperial presence had been increased dramatically in the years since her escape. She would have never been able to get past a blockade this intense when she made her escape years ago.

The shuttle's comm unit beeped and came to life before the sound of a ubiquitous Imperial officer resounded through the unit, "We have you on our scans now. What is your cargo and destination, over?"

Kerrie cleared her throat. She was nervous, but she had no reason to be, "Shuttle Sonthi requesting permission to land on the surface."

"Just a moment," the voice responded over the comm unit. The shuttle continued on its approach vector towards the Star Destroyer that was blockading the planet.

Kerrie swallowed nervously as she looked through the cockpit at the looming tower of the Star Destroyer.

"You are cleared to land," the same voice soon bellowed through the comm.

"Acknowledged," Kerrie replied before throttling the engines and descending into the upper atmosphere of her homeworld.

Kerrie looked out the cockpit of the surface of her homeworld as the shuttle descended at an increased rate through the atmosphere. A beacon lit up on her head-up display. It was the Imperial outpost. The same one she had used to make her escape years ago. She tightened her grasp on the flight control as she fired the Sonthi's repulsorlift engines. She raised the craft's wings and lowered the landing struts as the shuttle prepared to touch down on one of the landing pads.

A lump formed in Kerrie's throat as she felt the shuttle touchdown on the surface. She froze for a moment before swiveling the chair around and rising from her seat.

Kerrie grabbed hold of her duffel bag once again and slung it over her shoulder. She stepped forward down the ship's ramp. She took a moment to allow her eyes to adjust to the natural light. It was particularly bright given the planets close proximity to the star. She inhaled the air deeply and closed her eyes. She was finally home.

"Major," a Human voice broke through the silence quickly.

Kerrie's moment had been cut too short. She turned her attention to the Imperial officer who was fast approaching, "Yes?"

"We have been expecting you," the Lieutenant said as she stood in front of her, "We don't get many visitors to this dump."

Kerrie's hand clenched into a fist and it took every ounce of strength she had to refrain from knocking the officer on the floor. "Right," she said awkwardly.

"Be weary of the natives," the officer explained, "The mutants have the ability to change into almost any Humanoid species from what we can tell." He paused for a moment before continuing, "Dangerous lot them. It's why this blockade is necessary ... I say just save the cost of the blockade and eradicate them."

Inside Kerrie was seething, but externally she maintained a proper demeanor. She would not allow the Admiral's trust in her to cause an incident. "Is there anything else?" she asked coldly, devoid of emotion.

"Are you armed?" the officer asked.

"Just my sidearm," Kerrie explained, motioning to the silver-colored pistol in her side holster.

"That's not standard issue," the officer said, examining it closely.

"No," Kerrie explained, "Something of a souvenir."

"Well as long as you're comfortable with it," the Lieutenant told her, "Alright. You're all set. We'll refuel your ship while you tour the planet."

Kerrie nodded to the officer and hoisted her duffel bag again. As she moved away from the officer and towards the perimeter gate she muttered under her breath, "Echuta sleemo."

Kerrie stopped for a moment as she made the long walk towards the Mabari monastery where she was raised. It was a long walk and hauling this duffel bag was making it all the difficult. She exhaled a deep sigh and sat down next to the bag on the side of the road. She smiled and looked around, taking every ounce in. She smiled when she saw a young Clawdite boy playing.

The Clawdite child approached her slowly and smiled.

"Hello," Kerrie said cheerfully, "What's your name?"

"Thrax," the boy said looking at her uniform, "Are you really in the Empire?"

"Yes," Kerrie said looking over her uniform herself, "Yes. I am."

The boy reached down and lifted a large rock with all of his strength. He grunted loudly as he hurled the rock directly at Kerrie's face.

"Hey..." Kerrie exclaimed as she saw the boy going for the rock, but it was too no avail. The rock smashed into the side of her face and knocked her to the ground. She groaned lightly as a combination of blood and drool formed beneath her head. "Uh," Kerrie groaned, "Wait..."

"Imperial scum," Thrax said to her as he picked up the bloody rock. He held it over her head for a moment before dropping it right on top of her.

A muffled groan from beneath the rock was all that was heard as Kerrie fell into a world of darkness. Battered and unconscious she faded into her natural Clawdite form.

Thrax did not understand what he saw develop and ran off into the distance frantic.

Hours later Kerrie's eyes flickered open. "Ugh," she groaned. The pain was immense, but she immediately realized she was no longer on the ground. She was in a bed. She tried to sit up, but could not.

"I didn't think you'd show your face around here again," the familiar voice of Thad Horku immediately resonated with her. He was seated on the side of her bed. It had been years since she had seen him, since she had fallen in love with him, and had her heart broken by him. "But then again ... that really wasn't your face," Thad continued to explain.

"Thad..." Kerrie's said in a disoriented voice. She was groggy, but she would never forget his voice as long as she lived.

"You know we speculated what became of you," Thad told her, "We imaged you as some bounty hunter or mercenary. That's what you said you wanted to be right?" His tone became increasingly condescending, "Oh wait ... it was bodyguard wasn't it? Yes ... that's right. You thought you could make big money guarding the life of some simpleton."

"Thad..." Kerrie murmured, trying to get him to stop.

"None of us ever thought you would join the Empire," Thad said as he rose from the chair and loomed over her, "Traitor."

"Thad..." Kerrie said as she once again tried to stand up. Every word resounded with pain. Her jaw had been fractured several times and set with all the skill of a Jawa tree climber.

"You should be lucky we didn't leave you out there to die," Thad told her, "If I had known it was you ... I just might have."

"It's not like that," Kerrie said as she looked up at him, still tired from the painkiller she had been given.

"Then what is it like?" Thad asked, snarling down at her.

"I was captured," Kerrie said, "They did terrible ... things ... I had to join."

"When you left you turned your back on all of us ... on me," Thad continued, "And you join the ones that oppress us?"

"I had no choice," Kerrie told him as she tried to sit back up.

"I'm sure," That said condescendingly, "They couldn't keep you here, but they could keep you there?"

"I'm here now, Thad," Kerrie said, looking up at him in tears, "My family is ... gone. I was hoping I could come back to the monastery."

"Come back?" Thad said as he roared at her in laughter, "You're lucky you're even alive right now."

"Thad..." Kerrie tried pleading with him, "You were right ... ok? What more do I have to say?"

"Too late," Thad explained, "Get out of here as soon as you can walk ... or crawl."

"Thad..." Kerrie repeated again. This *vacation* was going all sorts of wrong.

Thad turned his back on her and scoffed, exiting the room in disgust.

Kerrie would not cry this time. She was angry. Not sad. She mustered every ounce of strength she had. She thrust her legs out of bed and rose to her feet. She groaned as her feet touched down on the floor. "Ugh," she groaned as she refocused herself.

Kerrie reached began undoing the tunic of her uniform. After a few moments she was naked. She stood there for a moment and looked at her mangled face in the mirror. She reached into her duffel bag and began removing the pieces of her Mabari armor one by one. In the bag she carefully placed her Imperial uniform. It took her several minutes to dress herself in the armor these people had once given her. She had made several modifications of course, the most notable of which being the holster where she placed her pistol.

Kerrie walked from her room and eventually into the main atrium of the monastery. She was met with a chorus of gasps as the Mabari looked at her in disgust.

"You have no right to wear that anymore," Thad said as he moved towards her.

Kerrie quickly drew her KYD21 from her holster and unleashed a deadly bolt at Thad's midsection. "I'm through taking your crap!" she yelled so that all could hear.

Thad grabbed his wound in his torso and fell to the cold ground in front of her.

"Anyone else got something to say," Kerrie screamed as she brandished her blaster pistol at random monks and warriors.

"Always with the temper, young one," a voice announced from the top of the stairs leading down to the atrium. It was Cabel Harn, the man who had raised her after her parents deposited her here.

"Master Harn," Kerrie said, lowering her head in respect as she holstered her blaster pistol.

Cabel made his way down the spiraling staircase before emerging in the atrium before her. He lowered to the ground to check Thad's pulse ... still alive. He motioned to two monks standing by the doorway to take the body.

"You should not have come back," Cabel said as he rose back to the ground after Thad was led off by the two warriors.

"This is my home," Kerrie cried out in frustration.

"You should have had thought about that years ago, Kerrie," Cabel explained in a compassionate tone, "When you refused our mandate and decided to leave you were expelled. You cannot simply walk back in all these many years later and expect all to be forgotten."

"My family is ... dead," Kerrie explained as she lowered her head sadly, "This ... this is all I have."

"I am sorry for your loss, Kerrie," Cabel told her genuinely, "But this is what you *had.* You were warned of the consequences. This should come as no surprise to you. You chose to pursue a life outside of our order ... one for greed ... one for profit ... one for ambition."

"I see now that you were right, Master," Kerrie said, almost pleading with him, "Please ... let me come back."

"Kerrie that is just not possible," Cabel explained, "We have a tradition dating back millennia. We cannot simply change our ways to suit the needs of an individual." He reached out for her and placed a kind hand upon her shoulder, "Your problem has always been that you never willing to trust anyone but yourself. If you had listened ... none of this would have ever happened."

"But I..." Kerrie tried to interject, but soon found herself cut off.

"I'm sorry young one," Cabel said quietly, "But now you must go."

Kerrie lowered her head in dejection. She slung the duffel bag over her shoulder and started to walk towards the exit. She took one last look around before placing her helmet upon her head. She then prepared herself for the long walk down the monastery steps she had first made as a child so many years ago.

After a long, lonely walk through the wasteland that was her homeworld Kerrie arrived at the final destination on her list ... her family's home. She had not seen it in years. It was dilapidated and in severe disrepair. When the Clawdite's governing council had exiled her family all of their lands were condemned. She doubted anyone had set foot on the property in the past two decades. She sighed and approached the door to check if anyone was left inside. She stopped dead in her tracks when she heard the click of a blaster's safety being removed from behind.

"Hands up," the female voice commanded, "This is private property."

Kerrie dropped her duffel bag and raised her hands over her head. This was the last thing she needed today. "I'm sorry," Kerrie explained, "I didn't realize anyone lived here."

"And that just gives you the right to walk right in?" the voice asked sarcastically.

"No, but..." Kerrie tried to explain.

"But nothing, slime ball," the voice lashed out at her, "My father built this house and I'm not letting some squatter tear it apart."

"Wait ... Kristen?" Kerrie repeated in disbelief. She spun on her heels in disbelief and narrowed her eyes at her. It was her sister, Kristen.

"Kerrie?" Kristen asked in disbelief. She was the last one she expected here.

"I thought you died on Corellia," Kerrie explained, "I mean..."

"No," Kristen informed her, "Just mom and dad. I had another assignment to fly that day."

"If I had known," Kerrie said sadly, "I would have reached out..."

"Reached out and done what?" Kristen snapped back angrily, "Offered me your blood money? Dad didn't want it and I don't either."

"Kristen," Kerrie explained, "Let's not get off on the wrong foot."

"It should have been you that died that day," Kristen told her, "If you had flown for father he like he asked they'd be alive right now."

Kerrie sighed and looked at her younger sister in deep frustration, "I explained to him that I could not work for him. I had my own responsibilities..."

Kristen quickly moved to cut her off, "You mean killing people."

"I was a bounty hunter," Kerrie tried to explain.

"You were an assassin, Kerrie," Kristen told her, "Usually bounty hunters capture people."

"I never killed anyone I didn't have to," Kerrie continued to reason with her.

"Tell yourself that," Kristen continued, "Father asked Gradjaa the Hutt all about you. They called you Killer Kiley because you never brought in a bounty alive."

"Look," Kerrie said becoming increasingly frustrated, "Those were bad people ... they had it coming."

"You're a bad person," Kristen said, "Does it means its alright to kill you?"

"You wouldn't be the first one to try today, kiddo," Kerrie said dejectedly.

"Yeah. I can tell," Kristen observed, "You look like bantha fodder. I haven't seen a face that bad since that Human appearance you insisted upon maintaining."

"It is necessary," Kerrie told her.

"You are ashamed of who you are," Kristen snapped back at her, "And I'm glad, because I'm ashamed to be related to a murderer."

"I'm not a murderer!" Kerrie shouted back at her.

"Tell that to all the people that you ... well ... murdered" Kristen fired right back.

Kerrie lowered her head in defeat. She was not going to get anywhere. She raised her head once again to look at her, "Look ... do you need anything? Credits? Supplies? A way out of here?"

"All I need is for you to get off my property and never come back," Kristen told her.

Kerrie lowered her head and shook it at her sister sadly. She grabbed hold of her duffel back and walked off the property for what she expected to be the last time.

The Imperial officer at the outpost blinked when he saw Major Kiley approach. "What happened to you?" he asked as he looked at her battered face.

"A rock fell on me," Kerrie explained and went into no further detail.

"I see," the Lieutenant said. He did not believe her, but he did not question Majors. "Well ... your ship is refueled. Ready to go whenever you are."

"Thanks," Kerrie said as she proceeded towards the Sonthi's ramp.

"Well, Major," the Lieutenant said, "Someone went to an awful lot of trouble to arrange this visit. What'd you think of the place?"

"You pretty much summed it up earlier, Lieutenant," Kerrie said as she walked up the ramp, "It's a dump crawling with mutants."

As the Sonthi re-emerged from hyperspace in the Brentaal system, Kerrie's eyes immediately focused on the massive sight of the Warspite. "That's my home," she said to herself as she increased the throttle to return the ship to the Star Destroyer's hangar.

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