Claudius Rodney stood silently on a balcony on one
of the upper levels of Rodney Castle. Since
returning to Delaya with his beloved life he had
spent time reconnecting with the castle staff and
refamiliarizing himself with the rooms he had played
in since he was a young boy. The one area of the
castle he had avoided, however, was this balcony,
for it was from here his mother had plunged to her
death following the Battle of Delaya. He had avoided
it as if it were dangerous and whenever he passed
nearby he felt a chill flow through his entire body
that caused the hair to stick up on his arms and
goosebumps to form on his arms. His mouth went as
dry as some barren outer rim desert world and it
felt as if Lord Vader were once again using his
telekinetic abilities to asphyxiate him. He knew
there time here was growing short and today, at
last, he willed the courage to venture forth. There
was a sadness that filled him as he moved towards
the railing, which he quickly grabbed hold of for
support. His grip tightened, causing his knuckles to
whiten. His head lowered and he exhaled a deep sigh
as he silently reflected on his mother's passing. No
marker had been placed, nor had any monument been
erected most likely due to the fact that the wound
was equally as painful for his brother as well. He
fought back the tears as if it were a rebel fleet,
but with greater success.
Castle held a huge significance to Sierra Rodney.
With Alderaan gone, it was all that was left of her
past. There were fun parts that came with being
reminiscent. She had joked with Claudius about all
the times she and Jelena had been absolute idiots as
teenagers. However, there were many dark memories
associated with the Castle, like the great hall
where she had nearly lost her life and all the
corridors where she and Claudius had silently
suffered as Duchess and Duke. Now it was all over.
She had been
looking for him following a playdate with Zara's
twins. When she failed to find him, she knew exactly
where he must be.
stepped out onto the balcony in which Livia Rodney
had plunged from. Her heart sunk deep in her chest.
She missed Livia, but it was nothing like how
Claudius missed her. His sadness swept over her. She
knew he needed to be supported by something stronger
than the railing before him. The woman came up
behind her husband. Her hand ran over his back to
let him know it was her, then her arms wrapped
around his waist and drew him backwards into her.
Symbolically, she was trying to hold him up. "It's
okay to cry. I've got you," she whispered to him.
That time in their lives had been so insane. Life
was moving too fast for either brother to properly
mourn their loss. Maybe now was the time.
did not have his son's gifts he nevertheless could
sense his wife approaching. Her presence was
familiar to him and her movements carried with them
a rhythm that he could feel from a distance. When
she came up behind him he did not feel apprehension
from the sudden touch of a stranger, but instead the
soothing comfort of she who was his wife. "No tears,
my love. Stiff upper lip. Family tradition," he
began, after awkwardly clearing his throat. "Mother
would have insisted," he added, before sharply
inhaling through his nostrils as if vacuuming the
tears back into their ducts. "I shall miss this
place, but until we make it safe from future Rebel
attacks it is wrong of me to rest here," he said,
nodding his head several times before focusing his
gaze on a flight of thrantas in the distance.
She rolled her
eyes behind him. "Family tradition..." *My ass* was
implied. Just because she had no love for her birth
family and wouldn't shed tears for them didn't mean
Claudius had to be held to the same standard. "She
was something, wasn't she?" Sierra moved to his
side. Her hand rested on top of his, squeezing it
gently. The thrantas were flying in V formation. She
wondered if they were running away. Papius Arundell
had already killed so many of the winged beasts. It
made her blood boil to think of that man. She let
out an exhalation and calmed herself.
"A time will
come when we'll return. Once this war has ended,
home will be home again. Everything will fall into
place. It's part of the reason why we fight, right?"
She turned towards him. The balcony had a terribly
cold feeling to it. There were so many times where
Sierra wished she could go back in time and save the
woman from the inevitable. The only way they could
make Livia proud was by restoring Delaya to its
former glory. "We don't need to return to Esseles
yet. I understand if you need more time."
smiled when she said he could have more time, but as
nice as that diversion seemed he knew they could not
shirk their responsibilities indefinitely. "It's a
thoughtful notion, Sierra, and an idyllic one at
that," he said, affectionately, as he turned his
body around so that he could look at the one sight
more majestic than the Delayan sunrise ... Sierra's
eyes. He leaned forward to place a tender kiss upon
her lips, closing his eyes where he was able to
recreate a perfect image of her in his mind's eye.
When the kiss broke and his eyes opened he looked
towards her, raising his right hand to brush a
strand of her blond hair out of her face. "If we
don't go back we risk having nothing to go back to,"
he added, somewhat reluctantly, as he considered
their next move.
worry in her eyes. She looked into his. Castle
Delaya did have a lot of terrible memories, but some
of the greater memories involved falling in love
with him. There hadn't been a moment of doubt since
he'd dropped to his knee before her and asked her to
marry him. They were in this together no matter how
dirty it got. She practically melted when their lips
collided. It was the kind of kiss that swept her
away and made her heart skip a beat. It was the kind
of kiss that reminded her the depth of her own
love...and his too. Her eyes closed, her hands
clasping his face.
The kiss ended
bittersweetly. The cold reminder of what they were
so close to losing made Sierra's glance fall
serious. "That isn't going to happen. We have lost
enough. I won't let you lose any more, Claudius."
She may have been a tiny little woman, but she was
as fierce as a rancor. She was tired of life pushing
her around. It was time for it all to change. With a
sigh, she took his hand and started off the balcony.
She purposely avoided Zara and Marcus as she made
her way back to their room to collect their
belongings and return home. "I bet Nea missed you."
She teased him.
Claudius could respond to his wife's barb there was
a sound at the door that captured his attention.
"Damn," he muttered under his breath to her, rolling
his eyes as he swiveled on his bootheels to face the
door. "Come," he said in his strictest voice,
reserved only for formal occasions. He suspected it
was merely his brother, sister-in-law, or both
coming to see them off. The truth could not be
further off and the quixotic expression that formed
on his face illustrated this more effectively than
any spoken words could have ever hoped to.
Kerrie Kiley strode through the large, ornate marble
doors that separated her from Grand Moff Claudius
Rodney and his wife. The castle had been a place of
mixed emotions for her as at times it had been both
the cause of happy memories and painful ones. As she
came to a stop in front of her liege, she dropped to
one knee in front of him and bowed her head like the
obedient kath-hound that she was. "Th-the Emperor
com-commands your pre-presence, milord," she
reported, albeit with some difficulty as the
revelation had caused quite the noticeable stammer.
Although she did not physically raise her head she
did attempt to redirect her eyes in the direction of
Claudius and Sierra to gauge her reaction.
Unfortunately there had been times when the policy
of 'kill the messenger' had been enacted and thus
she was prepared for *anything*.
even have time to grab her suitcase when there was a
knock at the door. She cursed softly under her
breath. As much as she loved her in-laws, she had
hoped they'd be able to quietly escape Castle Rodney
without ruffling too many feathers. She stopped what
she was doing, turning to watch the door. The person
who marched through the doors was far from the ones
she'd expected. It was Kerrie. A chill ran down her
spine. What was she doing here? Had something
happened back on their command ship? A tightness
spread over her chest. It had always made her
uncomfortable how Kerrie knelt down before them like
an obedient servant. She glanced down at the
Clawdite, wondering what had brought her.
The words she
spoke caused another chill to sweep through the
room. Emperor Palpatine wanted to see them. She
could feel sweat immediately roll down her neck. The
last meeting with Vader had nearly been the death of
Claudius. She imagined that Palpatine wasn't happy
with them. They'd made no efforts to destroy the
Rebels. The shock was visible on her face. She
cleared her throat. "Thank you, Kerrie. Please leave
us and prepare our ship for departure. We will be
leaving immediately." She kept herself as collected
as possible. Beneath the surface, she felt like this
was it. She was going to lose Claudius as she had
feared. While Kerrie made her escape, Sierra's
fingers gripped his. She waited until they were
alone before she did anything. Wordlessly, she
rounded in front of her husband. She pressed her
forehead against his and closed her eyes. "I'm going
with you. There's no debate here." She told him. "We
will face His Majesty together."
relayed the news that the Emperor had once again
beckoned him a series of thoughts violently swirled
through his mind. The first and most prominent was
of Bruce. It was supposed to be years before Bruce
was taken from them, but for a summons like this he
was not prepared to rule anything out. His face went
pale as all of the blood rushed from his cheeks. A
cold sweat began to form on his forehead as the room
in front of him vanished and he suddenly felt as if
he was looking off into oblivion. It was only when
Sierra took his hand and pressed their foreheads
together that reality came rushing back revealing
only her before him. If he had truly reached the end
he was glad to have her with him. "I have learned
never to debate you," he said, before offering a
half smile and turned his attention to the half
packed bags. "We should endeavor to make haste," he
said to her, stoically, as he suddenly found himself
with an unnerving sense of time.
bring Bruce this time. She refused to allow her baby
boy to be taken from her. It didn't matter if an
all-powerful Sith lord stood between her and making
that happen. She sighed, nodding her head. "Just
leave everything here. Let's get this over with."
The stress sat on her chest like a thousand pound
weight. She was dressed far from her military
uniform, though she didn't care. If Palpatine was
going to kill them, he was going to do it regardless
of what clothing she wore. She took her husband's
hand. She began to lead him up to the top of the
castle, but decided to veer right at the last
moment. There was one reason to keep Palpatine
waiting. That reason was their children. While the
girls were in Esseles, Bruce had come to Delaya with
passed through the door into Zara and Marcus'
nursery. The twins were busy with their parents, but
Bruce was here. He was curled up beneath a knitted
blanket asleep in a crib. The nanny droid lingered
close. She stood over the crib. She watched the
little boy's chest rise and fall as he slept. "He
has no idea that everything we do, we do for him."
Her eyes turned sad. She lived with the fear that
she would never see her son grow up. Now she found
herself scared that Claudius would die, or that she
would not make it to see another day. Death had
surrounded her husband for so long. Try as she
might, she simply couldn't keep it out.
between Delaya and Naboo was silent and uneventful,
but perhaps more swift than either of them would
have liked. "You know, I don't think I've ever
actually been to Naboo," Claudius noted, as he
looked out the viewport at the glistening Mid Rim
world. It was an odd thing for him to note at a time
like this, particularly given the fact that it might
be the last world his eyes ever gazed upon. He
reached over and took hold of his wife's hand as the
Kwai began its descent to the Emperor's Retreat rest
of the city of Moenia. The Imperial presence was
significant as no chances were likely to be taken
given the aggressiveness of Rebel strikes following
their victory at the Battle of Yavin. The sight of
massive All Terrain Armored Transports (AT-ATs) came
into view, their large, mechanical legs causing a
loud sound and vibration as they stomped into the
previously undisturbed grasslands below. A flight of
TIE Strikers took formation on either side of them
as they were guided down onto a private landing
platform where a large amount of Stormtroopers had
bred inside of Sierra. They were entering this
situation blind. She didn't know if they'd die, or
if they'd be threatened. Regardless, she had a
feeling that something unfortunate was about to
happen. She felt a knot in her stomach looking down
at the beautiful environment of Naboo. She cleared
her throat to find her voice. "I've been here once.
I played at the Royal Palace in Theed once years
ago. It reminds me of Alderaan in some ways. The
beauty is alike." She weaved her fingers in between
his. "If we'd come on different circumstances, I'd
love to show you the sights." The Imperial presence
was even greater than at home. She could see the AT-ATs
slowly making their way through the city. There was
no fear of a Rebel attack here. Palpatine had the
city locked down. No one was that stupid ... or
suicidal. Not even Iyah Xergo.
Her other hand
clutched her stomach. She felt like she was going to
throw up. The descent felt bumpy and full of
turbulence (or maybe it was just in her head).
Regardless, they'd arrived. She unbuckled herself
and rose on unsteady feet. A large part of her was
angry...angry if it ended right here. Another part
of her was overwhelmed with sadness. As soon as he
stood, she embraced him. They would stand together.
rows of Stormtroopers awaiting them outside of the
Kwai. A single trooper stepped forward to begin
leading them into the Emperor's Retreat. She had no
time to envy the beauty of Naboo. Step by step, she
was led inside of the retreat. She had been holding
her husband's hand up until then. At that point, she
clutched it. There was no way he didn't feel the
slight shake in her hand. Sierra was scared.
and Sierra were arrive another was departing. The
Emperor controlled vast reaches of the galaxy and
while his meeting with Grand Moff Rodney was the
most important event in Claudius' life it meant
little to the Emperor. Moff Tiaan Jerjerrod marched
briskly from the Emperor's retreat towards his own
shuttle when out of the corner of his eye he spied
Claudius and Sierra descending the ramp. Ever the
sniveling bureaucrat he switched his path and moved
to intercept them. "Grand Moff Rodney, Lady Rodney,"
he said, in a pleasant, confident voice as he nodded
at each of them. "I see that you, too, have been
called before the Emperor," he said, wondering if
the timing had anything to do with the meeting he
had just came from. He was careful not to say too
much, although he desired others to know the honor
that had been bestowed upon him ... particularly
those of superior rank and standing.
was fixated jointly upon his wife and their
impending meeting with the Emperor so much that he
did not initially notice the arrival of Moff
Jerjerrod. "Oh," he finally said, coming to a halt
before almost crashing into the man. When he began
his career Jerjerrod had been of a higher rank of
him and even served among the Joint Chiefs, but the
sector governance decree had seen Claudius rise
swiftly to Grand Moff and surpass many who were his
superiors including the man who stood before him.
"Sierra allow me to introduce you to Moff Jerjerrod
of the..." he began, before pausing, and shifting
his gaze skywards as if to search for the answer.
"...Quan- Quanta sector!" he said, loudly, as if he
were a contestant on a HoloNet game show. "Tiaan
this is my wife, Lady Sierra," he said, with a nod,
before sizing the man up. At least he had gotten
through a meeting with the Emperor unharmed. "What
business did you have with the Emperor?" he asked,
not expecting an answer, but anything that bought
more time was worth it to him at this moment.
It would have
been their best interest to scurry inside like
fearful little mice and rip this bandage off as
quickly as possible. The anticipation was the worst
part of being invited...no, *forced* to come see the
Emperor. She spotted a man she didn't notice making
his way towards them. She looked at Claudius. The
man seemed to have come from a good meeting. He held
himself like a pompous asshole. Sierra clearly
wasn't amused. She was less amused when he
successfully intercepted them then promptly stuck
his nose in their business. He made it very clear
that he knew who Claudius was but then again who
*didn't* know who he was?
the introduction. Moff Jerjerrod. What a mouthful.
"Ah, it's a pleasure to meet you, Moff Jerjerrod."
She said, forcing a little, polite smile to appear
on her face. On a scale of Papius to Arden, she
wondered where this man fell. She knew very little
about the Quanta sector. It was just a dot on the
map to her. She didn't expect an answer either, but
appreciated the inquiry. "You left His Majesty's
retreat looking pleased. A good meeting, I presume?"
"Moff of the
Quanta sector no longer," Moff Jerjerrod replied,
briskly, as he sized up both of the Imperial
officers who stood before him. It was well known
that the Grand Moff of the Ringali Shell had taken
the protege of the nefarious Arden Zevrin as his
bride. A Grand Moff with connections to the Imperial
Security Bureau was a powerful and dangerous man
indeed. "I have recently been named Director of
Imperial Energy Systems, but ... but that is all I
can say for the time being," he said, squirming
somewhat uncomfortably as he looked about the
landing platform. He saw too many pairs of ears, but
what he did not see scared him even more. "Well I
shall not keep you from your meeting any longer," he
said, nodding his head to the Grand Moff once. "Lady
Rodney," he added, with the briefest of glances,
before turning to move towards his waiting
congratulations are in order," Claudius replied,
unaware of what Imperial Energy Systems was. "Safe
travels," he replied, too anxious about his own
pending meeting with the Emperor to notice the
junior Moff's change in body language as he hinted
at his new position. "Well then," he said to Sierra,
as he took her hand and began moving from the
landing platform towards the massive blast doors
that led to the interior of the Emperor's retreat.
The halls were a form of high quality marble common
throughout Naboo. The retreat was more opulent than
the Theed Royal Palace, but the presence of the
Imperial military was everywhere. It was more
fortress than palace. These elements combined to
unnerve those who were called before the Emperor,
reminding them of both his stature and power.
carefully watching him. She had been trained to read
body language and read into words that were
unspoken. It had been awhile since her primary job
involved psychology of battered soldiers, but now
she was putting that knowledge to good use. It
wasn't surprising that he had received a promotion
of some sorts. However, he seemed uncomfortable when
the topic came out. He looked around like he was
paranoid. Jerjerrod's meeting with the Emperor
didn't reflect how Claudius' meeting would go.
Jerjerrod would have been suicidal to stand within
the Emperor's eyesight and talk about this horrible
position he'd been given. She glanced towards
Claudius, wondering if he saw what she did.
"Congratulations, Moff Jerjerrod. I apologize that
we do not have much time to talk. Good luck in your
new position." She said to the man. She didn't look
back at him once they were moving forward again. Her
thoughts trailed away from her fear of death. She
glanced up at the massive marble structures once
they were granted access inside of the palace. Their
presence was expected. No one even argued about
Sierra being present for this meeting despite being
a low-ranking officer. The palace itself would have
been quite beautiful if it didn't feel like the dead
of the winter inside of it. Sierra felt
underdressed. Goosebumps arose on her arms. A guard
walked before them. He escorted him through the
halls, closer and closer to the source of the could.
She sensed that they were being watched.
As they moved
deeper into the Emperor's street the ornate marble
gave way to harsh durasteel as the retreat
transitioned from palace to fortified bunker. The
crimson armor of the Emperor's royal guards popped
against the dark, cold durasteel. The bold, vibrant
colors of the guards stood in stark contrast to an
Empire that was dominated by shades of gray. At the
end of the corridor there was another set of doors
that led to a circular chamber that was so dark its
true size and dimensions could not be determined. As
Claudius moved forward his hand did not relent from
its grasp of his wife's hand. As he stepped out into
darkness he could no longer see the corridor behind
him, nor the vibrancy of the guards. There was
darkness ... only darkness.
It felt like
the colors grew more drab the further they walked.
The Emperor seemed to have a bland sense of color
schemes, not that Sierra was judging the man who
could have killed her where she currently stood.
Once inside of the circular chamber, it felt like
they were at the core of the ice planet Hoth. She
shivered in her boots. The only sense of warmth she
had came from her husband's hand, still firmly
holding her own. She couldn't even see him where he
stood behind her in the deep darkness. At that
point, her mind starting playing tricks on her...or
was in Palpatine? She looked to the side and vividly
watched the decrepit old man holding Bruce in his
hands. Her son looked at her, reaching out for his
months. When Sierra tried to reach back to him, the
illusion disappeared. This time, she was alone. She
could no longer feel Claudius' hand. "C-Claudius?"
She called out.
later, she was back at the manor on Esseles. She
stood at a door ripped from its hinges. Lightsaber
marks were singed into the walls inside of the
manor. Her heart broke in two when she found
Callista, viciously murdered, lying at the base of
the stairs. She could hear Ewwiekewwieikkie crying
out for her father. Melickielickie was nowhere to be
seen. As the visage broke Sierra again and again,
she raced up the stairs which blood spilled from
like a slowly flowing waterfall. Everyone was gone.
Dru, the two squibs, and even their animals. Their
slaughtered bodies littered the house. Sierra didn't
need to look to know Bruce was gone.
and she was back in the cold room. Tears streamed
down her face.
"I am here, my
love," Claudius assured her, squeezing her hand
reassuringly. Was it cold in the chamber or was it
merely another trick of the mind being played? He
did not know, but he certainly felt it, which caused
him to shiver. Then seeming as if the darkness would
last forever the lights rose revealing they were in
the presence of the Emperor himself. Almost
immediately he dropped to a knee in the manner of
Commander Kiley when she delivered the message back
on Delaya. In this moment of suppliance to the
Emperor filled with the feeling of fear and
degradation it was lost on him that he made his
junior officer feel the same way. He did not speak,
but instead remained in silent obedience until given
permission to speak.
For his part
the Emperor did nothing. These small matters meant
very little to him and he preferred to delegate them
to his suppliants. However, as a Grand Moff the
sniveling wretch of a man that knelt before him was
one of his chief delegates. His inefficiency to
attend to the tasks laid out before him had forced
the Emperor take notice and issue this reprimand.
"Governor Rodney the Rebel presence in your
Oversector can no longer be tolerated," he said,
from behind a hooded robe that cast a shadow down
upon his gnarled exterior. His piercing yellow eyes
were visible and directed solely at the Grand Moff.
"The planet Ralltiir whom your predecessor
subjugated will be stripped of its remaining
resources," he began, with each word seeming to be
coated in a layer of vitriolic acid. "These
resources will be transported to Imperial Energy
Systems at Sullust. If even one shipment is slightly
delayed I will hear of it," he continued, before
rising from his throne and taking a firm grasp of
the walking stick that was as twisted as his face.
He slowly moved down a trio of steps that would lead
him down to the couple's level. "I tolerated your
shortcomings as a military strategist because it
diverted the pathetic rebellion into thinking they
could achieve victory and foolishly commit resources
to a losing effort," he snarled, as he moved closer
still. "...but should you fail to protect these
shipments you shall be *removed*," he chided, with a
snarl of his teeth and an heretofore unseen
intensity in his glare.
Her hand was
hooked with his once more. The images of their dead
children still played before her eyes. The moment
the lights rose, she was blinded. She didn't have to
look to know that it was the Emperor who stood
before him. Like her husband, she fell to a knee and
submitted to him. Ultimately, if it was their day to
die, they were going to die. There was no use in
groveling or begging. She would die with her honor
intact. Slowly, she crooked her head up to look upon
His Majesty. The old man looked more horrifying each
time she saw him. His had the yellow eyes of a
serpent. Fury was apparent in them. This was going
to be a *bad* meeting. The chill seemed to grow as
his crackly voice cut through the room.
to him berate Claudius for his loses in the sector.
It was clear that Emperor Palpatine did not intend
to kill *him*. This was his way of effectively
putting Claudius back into high speed. She bit down
on her lip. His walking stick pounded on the ground
with each step he made closer and closer to them.
Her eyes fell back to the ground. Her hair hide away
her eyes. Palpatine revealed to them that he had
placed Claudius where he had to focus Rebel activity
on their sector. It had worked too damn well. The
Rebels had focused hard on them, but it seemed
Palpatine was ready to switch gears. She glance
sideway at Claudius but she said nothing. She knew
better than to let her tongue slip in front of this
man. His threats cause her to wince.
took great satisfaction in knowing that the charred
remnants of worlds that were too outwardly
sympathetic to the rebellion would be stripped to
construct his new, more powerful Death Star. With
the rebel forces concentrating within the Ringali
Nebula and scattered throughout the Outer Rim he
knew its construction on Endor could continue
unhindered. "Lord Vader has informed me he has
assigned the Third Sister to watch you," he said, as
he circled around them like a predator until he came
to a stop behind them. "We have the power destroy a
planet. It is nothing to destroy a man..." he said,
before turning his head to look towards Sierra.
"...or a woman. And Alderaan and Alderaanians are
such fragile things..." he said, with a
uncontrollable, menacing laugh that seemed to come
from deep within. He then moved back around them to
slowly walk up the stairs to take his throne once
more. "Now leave me and let me hear no more of your
failures," he said, as he released the grasp on his
cane. "For your sake ... and for the sake of your
family," he menacingly added before darkness once
again began to fill the chamber.
Sister. Jessa Thrope was a menace that had become a
cancer in their lives. No sooner had she convinced
herself that the woman was gone did she show up
again. Her eyes carefully followed Palpatine until
he was behind them. His words...his words were so
cruel. Before them, he all but revealed that he knew
exactly what happened to Alderaan. Papius had told
her before but she was spectacle of the man.
Now...now there was no doubt. Alderaan had been
destroyed by the Empire they so loyally served. It
was like taking a punch in the gut. His sickening
remark about how Alderaan and Alderaanians were so
*fragile* made an impact. Anger began to bubble up
inside of her. She rose to her feet quickly, her
hand curled in a fist. The chamber filled with
darkness. She wanted to scream at him. Alderaan had
been home. It was a home she missed badly. Her eyes
were filled with angry tears. She said not a word as
she took Claudius' hand and helped him to his feet.
Her heart was beating hard. The thoughts of
betraying the Empire piled up in her mind.
And then they
Once the Kwai
was headed towards Esseles, Sierra rose from her
seat and wandered back to the comfortable
compartment in the back of the ship. She was angry
and hurt with nothing to do with it. Her husband was
Palpatine's military pawn. Her home planet was gone.
Her family was not safe. She drew her head into her
hands and sighed.
march from the Emperor's audience chamber back
towards the Kwai were like a funerary possession.
Claudius did not even recall issuing the orders to
Lieutenant Anson to proceed to Esseles as he was in
such a state of shock. He collapsed into his seat in
the rear compartment of the shuttle as the
implications of what the Emperor had spoken flowed
through him. His daughter had tried to convince him
that the Empire had destroyed Alderaan, but he
refused to listen. He could not believe that the
Empire he had sworn to protect and served for two
decades was capable of such a thing. Now it was
indisputable. He had heard it straight from the
fathier's mouth ... the Emperor himself.
It was not
until the shuttle jumped into hyperspace that
Claudius felt anything and is he drew further from
the Emperor's presence he gradually came around. He
would have preferred that the Emperor had assaulted
him rather than presented the devastating news that
what his daughter had tried to warn him about was
true. "Jelena ... was right," he revealed to Sierra,
painfully, as it was always difficult to admit when
one's child was right and he was wrong. Then there
was the news that the Emperor thought so little of
him as a commander and that was the true purpose of
his promotion and command of the priority sector. It
was a humiliating rebuke from a man he had admired
for bringing peace and order to the galaxy following
the Clone Wars. Added to it was indignity that the
Inquisitor was watching ... always watching. He had
been shown a great many truths in what was but a