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Shayera Jendob
Moff


Joined: 14 Jun 2009
Posts: 513
Location: All along the Watchtower

 Post Posted: Thu, August 13th 2009 08:47pm    Post subject: Jendob Residence, Ravelin Ridge
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A blaring Klaxon split through my ears, my head, and my sound unconsciousness. It shrieked and wailed in my ears. Damn it... who the hell would be attacking the ship? Pirates? Rebels gone wild?

Wait, ship? I thought I was home... I opened my eyes, and realized the howling alarm was from my chronometer. “Oh, shut the hell up,” I groaned, and swatted the snooze button. The sound of my hand coming down on the plastic tore through the room like a slugthrower going off. “Ow.”

“Hmm?”

There was a rustling sound that emanated from the same region as the rich baritone that had uttered that wordless query. “Good morning,” I whispered.

There was a lionish yawn, then the voice spoke again, this time with syllables. “Good morning. Would you please stop making so much noise?”

I turned to look at Ams. My husband of the last twenty-seven years lay next to me, his blue eyes bloodshot and half-glazed. “You look like crap.”

“And a happy new year to you, too,” he grunted, pulling himself up and rubbing at his temples.

“Well, I feel worse than you look,” I replied. “Gods, this hangover is frakking awful.”

“How very astute,” Ams grumbled. “Tell me when you discover the good hangover, Professor.”

“Oh, bite me.” I rolled over, then thought about it for a moment. “Not literally. You did enough of that last night.”

He shifted around in the bed. “At least you didn't complain about it then.”

“Well, of course I didn't,” I sighed. “I enjoyed it then.”

Ams gently touched my arm. I turned and saw him smile. “Isn't being drunk terrible?” he joked.

I pulled a little closer to him, kissing him lightly. “Nah, that's the fun part. It's the hangover that sucks.”

“I thought the fun part is what you did when you were drunk.”

“Hmm. Good point. Obviously, this needs some further study. When you become High Moff, be sure to set up some research committee on it,” I smirked.

He kissed my cheek. “I love you.”

“I love you too. You still look like hell.”

“Well, we certainly can't have that. Would a shower be acceptable?” he mocked, although not entirely sarcastically. There was a tinge of good nature to it.

“Hey, you're the Moff. You tell me,” I retorted. “I thought you guys were supposed to be good at decisions—oh, right.”

Ams frowned, but the hidden smile came through in his voice and eyes. “Now that's just a low blow.”

Mustering what energy wasn't being brutally suppressed by the congener-induced migraine, I swung my legs over the edge of the bed and sat up. “So, you gonna shower?”

“Yeah.”

“Good. I'll be in in a minute.”

He raised an eyebrow. “So, you're making me go downstairs.”

“I hope not. I don't want to have to walk all the way down there.”

Finally, it dawned him. His hangover has to be a real bitch. “Oh... I don't know if I'm really up to that.”

“Don't flatter yourself. It's more for safety than a desire to put more scratch marks in your back,” I shot back. “Well, unless the mutual desire arises,” I added, replacing my no-nonsense frown with a feeble attempt at a mischievous expression.

He rolled out of the bed and to his feet, wearing in a bleary expression and a wedding band. I somehow pulled myself upright as well, not even managing to put on the bleary expression and barely aware of the gold ring on my left hand.

We padded across the soft carpet and through the refresher door. The Caridan marble was cool underfoot, polished to glassy smoothness. The shower itself was enclosed with frosted glass doors, and was about twice the size of an average shower stall. Opposite that was an in-floor bathtub, which had many a night of relaxation to its credit.

A couple robes were hanging up. Our butler was always good about that, even if he had a tendency to be a little nosy and his sense of humor could get irksome. But, he'd virtually become a member of the family with the last seventeen years. And Niles was a good guy, down-to-earth guy underneath the Coruscanti accent and training.

Ams was too, but he occasionally carried his formality into the family with mixed results. He wasn't always like that, though. When we first were married, he was far more relaxed overall... but now he was very relaxed with me, and a little less so with the kids anymore. But after what happened the last time we all got together...

I heard the water start running, and saw Ams looking at me. “Zoned out,” I admitted, and dragged myself into the alcove.

The hot water was both a jump-starting slap in the face and a soothing comfort. The dual heads and side sprayers hosed us both down. Starting to feel like a human being once again, I turned to face Ams as he luxuriated under the other shower head. “Feel better?”

He just nodded slowly, water flowing through his black hair and down his handsome face. I let my eyes wander a bit. At almost fifty-three years old, he was in very good shape. He wasn't some body-building maniac with disgusting, veiny muscles bulging from everywhere; instead, he was lean and strong. His only real vice was a good, stiff martini as a nightcap. For that matter, last night was the only time he'd been well and truly ripped in a long time. But it was in the course of enjoying himself, rather than a deliberate attempt at intoxication for the buzz or to forget problems.

Then again, it was the first time in a while that I got royally shitfaced, too. And my throbbing skull told me it would be another long time before I did it again.

“How's your head?”

“Hurts,” I groaned.

“Well, that'll clear up after breakfast,” he said softly, lightly caressing my cheek. For a moment, we just stared into each others' eyes. I wasn't aware of our slow drifting together until our lips met in a slow, passionate kiss. My senses shrank, the pounding in my head becoming a distant note of pain, the water splashing on me eliciting even less. But Ams' lips pressed against mine, his fingertips skimming across my back, the heat of his body pressed against mine... all of that was felt with acute awareness.

Our mouths opened slightly, in unison, and our kiss deepened. Primal yearnings began to well up. My heart race, my breath came in quicker...

And then a mouthful of soapy water absolutely destroyed the mood, as did my breaking away, spitting and sputtering in an attempt to eject the solution and its foul, bitter taste. “Ugh, son of a frakking bitch!”


The remainder of the shower passed without incident, erotic or otherwise. Ams and I, now clad in our bathrobes, made our way downstairs for breakfast. Waiting for us, standing over the dining room table, was Niles.

Niles Swan was of slightly above average height, between two and three centimeters taller than me. His sandy blond hair was neatly combed, his gray-blue eyes almost constantly concealing a smile. He was a bit portly, but carried it well. Of course, he earned it: the man was an absolute master of the culinary arts, which was once again demonstrated as I scanned over the breakfast he'd prepared.

I picked up a plate, and gently waved Niles off as he tried to serve me. “I can put my own breakfast on it.”

“As you wish, Ma'am,” he said simply.

I picked out the hangover-friendly food first and piled a small breakfast sandwich together from some toast, a fried egg, cheese, and bacon. Certainly not my usual choice, but then... wait a minute. “Niles... I'm noticing a lot of things here that are said to be good for hang—headaches.”

“Oh?” he asked. “Really? I hadn't noticed.”

I turned toward him, and saw him suppress a sly smile a moment too late. “Niles, what would we do without you?”

“Cook, clean, shop, and dress yourselves... with a hangover,” he grumbled good-naturedly.

“Oh, it's not that hard,” Ams remarked. “How do you think I survived my Academy days?”

“A woman a week with a vodka martini in between?” I teased. Of course, I only knew Ams for a short time at the Academy, but he was hardly running through the female students then. It was more of a running joke I'd heard from some mutual friends. Of course, now Ams and I were the only ones left who knew the gag.

Niles tried to stifle a laugh, and was on the verge of failing miserably, so he quickly shouldered his way through the door to the pantry. Ams shot me a wry smirk before putting a forkful of eggs in his mouth. We ate in quiet, though not silence, for the first few minutes. However, the amino acids—or whatever the scientists said was the chemical cure for a hangover—went to work, and normal conversation became bearable.

“So, New Years Day. Anything planned?” I asked.

“To be honest, getting ready for this damned Defense Committee meeting is my first priority.”

I grunted. “Why tomorrow? Why couldn't they wait a few days?”

“Rosset was the one who pushed for it. He whined and whimpered until Fel finally caved and called the meeting.”

“So our new, illustrious High Moff can be pushed around by someone like Rosset? That doesn't really inspire much confidence.”

Ams shrugged. “He's young, but not foolish. Besides, after Quille was forced out in disgrace, someone was needed that could be trusted by both sides of the Union.”

“Well, you know where I stand on that,” I grumbled. I was not particularly pleased that our new leader was picked because of his New Republic friends. Not that I had anything in particular against the Republic, anymore, but they seemed to think that because they were the democracy, they had the right to pick and choose who ran the show everywhere else. On top of that, Fel marrying the Jedi daughter of the former Chief of State didn't endear him among more conservative Imperials.

Then again, the few times I'd met his wife, she didn't come off as anything other than an average person, rather than someone “poisoned by the propaganda of a family of enemy heroes.” And Fel himself seemed to a be competent leader. Of course, he wasn't his father, but then... who was? If Jagged Fel had half of the integrity and honor of the Baron, the Remnant would be in fine hands.

“Welcome to the Galactic Union,” Ams grunted.

“Tell me about--” The doorbell sounded, cutting me off. A moment passed, and then Niles entered the room. “Ma'am, there's a person at the door for you.”

I scowled and stood up. “Dammit... and I'm not even dressed. Can you delay them long enough for me to put some clothes on?”

“I don't think that'll be necessary,” the butler replied.

Confused, I walked out of the dining room and toward the front door. However, once I saw who was standing in the doorway, my mood lightened from annoyance to joy. For in the door was a woman, clad in a black uniform. Her shoulders gleamed with silver, and bright blue eyes peered out from under her dark hair and cloth cap.

“Kendra!” I beamed, wrapping my arms around my daughter.

She hugged me back, warmly. “Hi Mom. Happy New Year.”

“It's certainly shaping up like that,” I smiled, pulling back a little and looking her in the eye. “Have you had any breakfast?”

“Just a cup of kaf. Stormtrooper kaf, at that.”

“So, used hypermatter mixed with oil?” I smirked. “The fleet feeds its people real food, you know.”

My daughter rolled her eyes. “Are you ever going to stop needling me about that?” she complained light-heartedly.

“Well, I'll wait until you've had breakfast. Then it's a fair fight,” I teased. “I'll take your bag. Come on.”

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Kendra Jendob
Moff


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 Post Posted: Thu, August 13th 2009 11:00pm    Post subject:
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Finally deciding to broach the subject, I asked, "Did I catch you and Dad at a bad time?"

Mom turned, with a curious expression. "No, why?"

"Well, um," I blushed, realizing that it was actually a bit silly. "I've never known you to answer the door in your bathrobe."

"Oh, that." She laughed. "Don't worry about it."

We walked through the spacious house until we came to the dining room. When I was a kid, the dining room was usually reserved for special meals: anniversaries, birthdays, school team victories (or consolation dinners)... but I supposed Mom and Dad may have gone a bit more formal since Kris and I left the nest.

We went into the dining room, and I saw Dad. His back was to the door. Perfect.

I snuck up behind him, and kissed him on the cheek. "Hi Daddy."

He wheeled around, and broke into a grin almost as big as Mom's. "Hello there, sweetheart."

I reached around his broad shoulders to give him an awkward, standing-to-sitting hug, then sat down next him as Mom took her seat across from him. "So, is Niles around?" I asked while taking off my cap after noticing a couple discreet looks from Mom.

Yet another voice with a Coruscanti accent spoke, this one behind me. "What would you like for breakfast, Miss Kendra?"

Twisting myself around, I looked up at good, old Niles. "Hey, you. How've you been?"

"Oh, just the same old toil and trouble," he replied wryly. "What can I get for you?"

I smirked. "I've been living off ration packs and field kitchens. Make it a little of everything."

He chuckled. "As you wish," and disappeared into the kitchen.

Turning back to my parents, I asked, "So, what have you two been up to since the last time we talked?"

Mom shrugged. "Nothing new, really. Aside from some whining little wimp on the Moff Council dragging your father out of the house tomorrow."

I frowned. "Well, that sucks. I've only got a weeks' leave. I was hoping to spend some time with you before I shipped back out."

"So, how is being a squad leader treating you?" Ams asked.

Now my smile really widened. "I wouldn't know... they promoted me to platoon sergeant."

"Really? Congratulations, honey," Mom almost shouted with excitment.

Dad was a bit more sedate, with an even-toned "Congratulations," and a gentle squeeze of my hand. "When did you earn your new bar?" he asked.

"Just over two weeks ago, when our platoon sergeant was bumped up to Master Sergeant and made the company's first sergeant."

Just then, a plate of food appeared in front of me. Following the arm that was holding it up to its owner, I nodded at Niles. "It looks great. Thanks."

"Anytime," he said. Niles had always liked Kris and I. Well, at least until Dad's fiftieth birthday. Immediately after that, I had no intention of placing bets on how Kris related to any of the family. I was sure Mom and Dad were over it by now, though.

I hope Kris is, too... After all, I had invited my "younger" (by a whopping ten minutes) brother without informing Mom or Dad. I was kind of hoping seeing their son would override any possible lingering issues.

"Oh, Niles... I almost forgot. Could I get a cup of caf?"

The friendly butler stiffed, as if struck. "Caf, Miss Kendra? We do not have caf in this house. Now, if you'd like a cup of coffee, I will gladly go and fetch it, but do not insult my sensibities by suggesting--"

"All right, I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" I chuckled, actually enjoying his mock outrage. "May I have a cup of coffee?"

"Why yes, you may."

I shook my head as he walked away, trying not to crack up. "You guys don't play with him often, do you?"

"He doesn't let us," Dad smirked.

I scooped some food up on my fork. "Ah, you just have to know how to push the right buttons, and have a light touch. You're Intel, Dad, you should know about that. All that spy stuff..."

"I was never a spy," he remarked. "Just an Intelligence officer."

"We have a word in the Corps for people who say that." The words just slipped out, and I flushed as they hit my ears. Then I reddened further as I saw both Mom and Dad eying me, almost daring me to finish it. "And I always yell at my troops when I hear it..."

"Nice cover," Dad snickered, sipping his tea.
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Shayera Jendob
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 Post Posted: Fri, August 14th 2009 11:45am    Post subject:
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Now who could that be? I wondered as the doorbell rang. "Niles, I'll get it. You're busy," I called.

I walked through the house and up to the front door. I paused a moment. It was rather late... especially for visitors. Probably a damn salesman. I opened the door, and was greeted not by a salesman, but a rather striking-looking young man in a green, Imperial Navy uniform. His dark hair was mostly hidden under his peaked cap, but showed through with carefully trimmed sideburns. His brilliant blue eyes shone out from the under the gleaming black brim of his cap. And under those piercing eyes was a small, if nervous smile.

"Hi, Mom."

"Kris!" I practically shouted, wrapped my arms tightly around my son. It'd been over two years since I'd seen him in person. Ever since that falling-out with his father. I'm sure they're all past that.

"It's good to see you again," he said, returning the embrace. There was an odd quality to it, but I figured he was just a little surprised. I kind of surprised myself with how suddenly I'd practically grabbed him.

I pulled back, with my hands on his shoulders. "It feels like it's been forever," I sighed.

"It sort of has," Kris smiled weakly.

Oh boy... I changed the subject. "Have you been working out? It looks like you fill out your uniform a little better."

"Uh, a bit," he stammered, and reached down to pick up his bag. "But nothing major, though.

"Kendra here yet?"

"Yeah, she got here around breakfast," I nodded, and stepped out of his way. "And welcome home, son."

"Thanks," Kris said automatically as he stepped inside. "Oh!" With his freehand, he opened the bag, and fished out a box. He offered it to me. "Happy birthday."

I sighed. "You didn't have to." I'd take having you here for it over a gift-wrapped box any time... Still, I was grateful he went to the trouble and possible expense.

He looked at me for a moment, and I could see regret in his clear blue eyes. "No. I did." He chewed his lip a moment... his tell for when he felt bad about something. Kris never was very good at sneaking something by me, but all of his attempts just taught me how to tell and how much it bothered him.

But, as quickly his regret showed, he covered it up with a smile that was mostly genuine. "Did I miss dinner?"

"No, actually. We're eating a little later tonight. And Niles is outdoing himself, yet again," I smiled back.

Kris seemed to wince slightly. "Oh, good." He glanced toward the box in my arms.

Oh, right. I opened it, but withdrew a beautiful vase with intricate markings interwoven seamlessly with its design. "Oh, Kris. It's lovely," I smiled. I started looking around the room for the best place to put it. After a short while, I found a small table toward the middle of the living room that fit the bill. "Perfect."

I turned back toward Kris, and saw him smiling a bit wider. "We made port at Bothawui; thought it would look good."
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 Post Posted: Wed, August 19th 2009 04:14pm    Post subject:
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Kris was estatic that his mother enjoyed the gift. It wouldn't make up for his absence – they both knew that – but it seemed to be a step in the right direction.

“Shy? Who was that?” Came a deep male voice. Kris felt his stomach form a pit. Ams Jendob entered into the room. His eyes locked on Kris'. “Oh.”

There was a period of silence, and Kris just wanted to get out of the room. It felt like a full minute passed before Dad continued. “Hello.”

Kris turned to face his father, and he felt his spine involuntarily stretch itself, making him stand straighter. “Hello, dad,” Kris greeted stiffly.

“Kris,” Dad returned with a nod. Kris reciprocated. Silence reigned again.

“So, um, thank you for the vase, honey,” Mom cut the sudden tension with a kiss on the cheek.

Kris returned the gesture, hugging her back slightly with his arm, but his mind was still on his father. “Hope you like it.”


“Mm,” Dad began. Oh no... “Bothan design. Very... tasteful,” he commented after a moment.

“Manthuwan dynasty Bothan,” Kris expanded. His father had a long history in Intelligence. Everything was an object of examination in his eyes.

“I'd say second Manthuwan,” Moff Jendob corrected. Kris wished he could just break the frakking vase right now. “The brush strokes give it away,”

“Of course,” Kris muttered in his best attempt not to growl. Of course! Dad, after all, knew everything.

“Boys,” Mom warned. She could feel the tension.

“Well, so much the better. Intact second dynasty artwork is incredibly rare,” Father added. Kris didn't know if he had listened to Mom or if he was just continuing obliviously forward.

“I always preferred third era Chandrilan, myself,” Kris whispered.
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 Post Posted: Thu, August 20th 2009 06:26pm    Post subject:
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My stomach's growling almost drowned out the sounds of Dad's voice as it travelled up the stairs. Finally, he's out of his study. Maybe now I can figure out when chow is. I'd tried going to the kitchen to ask Niles, but he almost literally threw me out, telling me I'd "endangered" his precious soufflé by daring to enter to the room and speaking, and that dinner would be done "when it was done."

Guess I forgot how uptight he could be, I shrugged as I headed down the stairs. I saw Mom and Dad standing around, looking at something. "Dad, when are--" I paused as I saw someone standing behind them. His green uniform stood out next to Mom and Dad in their "casual" clothes. I raced over to him, and embraced him tightly. "Kris!"

"Kendra," he grinned, returning the hug.

I gave him a final, tight squeeze before pulling back. "How've you been, Little Man?"

Kris earned that nickname when we were about twelve, since he was always smaller than me until his growth spurt hit. He hated it with a passion, so of course, I used it every chance I had from then till now.

"Just fine, Old Lady," he retorted. "Sorry I'm so late. I had a..." Then he seemed to look at something behind me... probably Dad. "Bad taxi pilot."

I cocked my head, a little confused. "You mean they let him in? I had to walk up through Prominence Square."

I saw Mom look over at Kris. And judging by how is his eyes seemed to fix over my shoulder again, I had to assume Dad was staring at him. For a moment, it didn't click, and I continued. "But no one is dumb enough to try anything with a uniformed 'trooper."

Mom's eyes were boring to Kris. Then I realized I'd blown his cover. Frak. Change the subject, uh... "There are some advantages to being a blackshirt, right Mom? Dad?"

My mother slowly took her eyes off my brother. It was clear what I said had thrown her into a loop. Good, good... forget about the Square... Finally, she cracked a smirk. "Don't push it."

Kris, however, was a bit less humored. I could definitely see the look in his eyes, effectively a non-verbal "thanks a lot, stupid." Somehow, he managed to keep it out of his voice. "So, what's Niles making?"

...Subtle...

Mom shrugged. "Oh, the same as every year."

My little brother smirked, for some reason. "Some things never change."

I heard Dad take a couple steps from behind me, and he appeared at my side. "If you'd like to freshen up first, you should have just enough time," he remarked.

A flash of irritation played on Kris' features, but he buried it with his "neutral face" quickly. "Great."

He started to go for his bag."Here, I'll give you a hand," I offered, but he'd already grabbed it, and shot me a look before going up the stairs." Oh boy...

I started to walk in the same direction; apparently, Mom and Dad took that to mean the coast was clear. "Ams, stop being so hard on him."

Dad looked at her, nonplussed. "What are you talking about?"

I'm not getting involved in this... I thought, and quickly headed up the stairs as they continued to talk. There they go again.

My parents loved each other a great deal. Sometimes, a bit too much... to my chagrin on a couple occasions. Still, they could be like night and day on Ryloth at times. Hell, they'd already argued a half dozen times while I was home, and before Kris arrived.

A cynical notion crossed my mind. I bet they do it so they can make up more... I slammed my mental foot down on the rest of that thought; I didn't want to have to break out the brain bleach before I ate.

I walked up to the refresher door. The faint light seeping through the tops and bottoms of the twin panels told me that's where Kris was. Maybe talking to him without those two around will go better.

"Hey, Little—hey Kris." Probably already in hot water. Don't make it worse. "Mom and Dad are at it again. 'The more things change', huh?"
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 Post Posted: Fri, November 06th 2009 12:05am    Post subject:
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Kris almost tore the buttons from the uniform's collar, fingers effective instruments of his frustration. No more than five minutes had passed since his arrival, and already The Moff Jendob had flexed his muscles.

“Mom and Dad are at it again,” came Kendra's voice from outside the fresher. “'The more things change', huh?”

The amusement of invoking the platitude was lost on Kris. “And nothing's ever going to be different, Kendra,” he predicted.

He splashed tepid water on his bare face and neck, massaging it into the muscles leading from throat to shoulder, but its refreshment was lacking. Only Kendra's support would make this visit tolerable, he thought, and he couldn't even depend on that. Kris could only guess how she perceived herself - perhaps as the family mediator, or the one with the keen, objective mind. Whatever it be, Kendra was not very good at it.

Shutting off the faucet, Kris leaned over the sink and espied his dripping visage in the mirror, staring into his own eyes to find the only agreement he'd receive that night. He quickly turned away from the apparition to the water draining below him. Sighing, he clothed himself with a taupe, long-sleeved polo and russet pants, far more comfortable than his uniform. After he had messed his hair to proper satisfaction and fixed two of the buttons at the top of the shirt, he opened the door, ready to face Kendra, who was waiting outside with arms crossed.

“Oh, come on, you're just being stubborn,” his sister had begun to respond, an instant before Kris emerged.

Stubborn. Yes. The whole frakking family was stubborn. Other well-off, cosmopolitan patriarchs had an empire built on spice or tibanna, but no, the Jendob family was built on obduracy. And on that record of arrogance, Kris was certainly not listed first.

“'Oh, that looks second dynasty,'” Kris mocked his father, vociferous as possible without being boisterous. “That's the first thing he says to me! You think I'm making all this up, but everything I'm saying about him is true,” he claimed, shoving an angry finger towards the ground for emphasis.

“Well, you know Dad studies art and stuff like that,” Kendra coyly defended. “He was just... looking at it,” she added after a moment of ineffective consideration.

Kris cocked his head, presenting his sister with a displeased countenance. “Have we been living with the same family, Kendra? Dad studies everything. He knows everything about everything,” he reminded her about how The Moff Jendob regarded his own knowledge.

“It doesn't matter what you or I do,” Kris continued. “He... forget it,” he shook his head and ceased speaking. Instead, he retrieved his bag from the floor and proceeded down the stairs.

“Well, you have to know everything to be Intel Director,” Kendra stuck up for their father.

“Yeah, well, he doesn't know how to be a father, that's one thing,” Kris clenched his jaw. He turned the corner of the first landing, allowing his sack to rest there, before tackling the second flight of stairs.

“Whoa!” Kendra exclaimed, following Kris at his heels. “I know Dad isn't perfect, but I don't recall him chopping your hand off or drowning you.”

“Of course not,” Kris said as he reached the third and final landing, spinning around to face Kendra. “Then he wouldn't have his perfect Imperial son.”

It was no secret Kris was groomed to follow in his father's footsteps. And Kris, of course, had. He didn't exactly regret it, but he never made the mistake of presuming there was any other option.

“Come on, Kendra, this is nothing new,” he continued. “Don't you ever get sick of the same old crap?”

“I guess I just don't see it the same,” Kendra relented meekly.

“I guess not,” Kris conceded, considering himself defeated on the argument. It was no use.

“Hey, you don't have the monopoly on issues with them,” Kendra piped up, attitude seemingly heating up while Kris' waned. “For a while, you were the golden boy and I was the one getting the comments.”

“This has nothing to do with branches,” Kris gave a half-hearted defense. Kendra always perceived that The Moff Jendob and their mother held disappointment with her decision to join the Army, rather than a branch of the Imperial Navy. Traditionally it had been the family's division of service. That's just the way it was. But Kris had inferred long ago that she either overestimated its importance for her own preconceived self-importance, or just to make Kris feel better. Probably a bit of both. “It's always been this way. Being the 'golden boy' is exactly what I'm talking about.”

As they both walked through the annex towards the dining room, Kendra pleaded. “Can you just try...”
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Shayera Jendob
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Location: All along the Watchtower

 Post Posted: Fri, November 06th 2009 06:21pm    Post subject:
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"...to be nice to him, Ams?" I asked as we sat down at the dinner table. The tension that had been streaming off of Kris had been palpable. And Ams had picked up on it, just making it worse.

Ams just shrugged. "He seems to be the one with the problem. But, I'll try."

Kris entered a moment later, with Kendra in tow. His mouth was hanging open slightly, as if he'd been saying something as he came in, then abruptly stopped. He sat down between me and Ams, on my left; Kendra planted herself across from him.

The door to the butler's pantry swung open, and Niles exited. "Dinner shall be served shortly. Would you like me to fetch your drinks now?"

I looked around the table, as head-nods and quiet affirmatives were offered. Ams and I went with a red wine to compliment the main dish, Kris asked for "something stiff," and Kendra requested a Corellian ale. When Kris made his request, I saw the faintest twitch of a smile starting to form on Niles' face.

After the butler departed for the kitchen, Kris ran his hand over face. It caught my attention; he seemed as if he was unwell. "Do you feel okay?"

"I'm fine. Long day," he replied.

Another male voice spoke up. "So, how did the taxi get past the gate?" Ams pressed.

Kris clenched his jaw in annoyance, but managed to control his tone. "Dropped me off at the gate."

Of course, Kendra had already blown that story to shreds then sloppily tried to cover it. I supposed that was one disadvantage they had growing up: as Intelligence officers, Ams and I had extensive psychological and interrogation training. After all, even though I was a scout pilot for most of it and Ams was a strategic analyst, all Intel personnel were trained to handle the line duties as well as their specialty. And, poor Kris and Kendra could scarcely tell a lie to either of us and have it pass. Still, we didn't exactly tell them we knew they were lying. Not all the time, anyway. And this seemed like a good time to keep it quiet.

"I see," Ams noted. "As long as you didn't have to walk through the Square."

Heh. Nice when we agree...

"That would've been horrible," our son grunted. There was a tinge of sarcasm in it, and... something else. Agreement?

Of course, Ams was right about the square. Though it wasn't as bad as some, it was still a slum. Perhaps it seemed worse because of its proximity to the more prosperous Ridge, but the point was it could still be incredibly unsafe. It didn't help that it was inhabited by immigrants, especially aliens, some of whom were illegally residing on the capital world. That little tidbit was often used by less tolerant Imperials to "expose" the "evils" of aliens. Sadly, those attitudes hadn't died with Palpatine and Byss.

I looked at Ams. Maybe some dinnertime discussion would help deflate the tensions rather than constantly shifting the spotlight between the visiting twins. "I can't believe Saretti still hasn't cleaned that up."

Ams' mouth twisted, not quite a frown or a scowl. "There's just no funding for it. With the border Moffs sucking the budget dry, once urban renovation comes around there just aren't any credits."

"Throwing credits around doesn't solve much anyway," Kris remarked.

Kendra nodded. "Isn't that the truth."

"Well, no. Merely throwing money at a problem does nothing," Ams replied. "But when there's none to pay for solving it..."

"Then maybe some new thinking should be going on," Kris remarked pointedly, staring directly at his father. "New methods."

To my surprise, Ams actually smiled. I'd gotten the distinct impression that Kris was trying to undercut him... but... well, after all these years there were still mysteries that I hadn't unraveled. "Oh, the thinking is there," he said, almost in a conspiratorial fashion.

"But no one does anything."

I shot Kris a look and was about to say something when Niles came back, with a carafe of wine, a mug of ale, and a straight-sided glass of some kind for Kris. "Am I interrupting?"

"No, not at all," I said quickly as he placed the mug before Kendra and gave Kris his drink. The wine came last, offered to Ams. Long ago, I let Ams handle the complex ritual of wine-snobbery, or as Corellians were more likely to call it, being the "cork-dork." And shortly after deciding Ams would handle the swirling, sniffing, and tasting, I added the corollary that it must be a Coruscanti thing. Ams delighted in it... and Niles seemed to as well.

But, whichever course at his prep school taught him the fine art of splashing some wine around in a glass before giving it a sensory examination did a good job. I certainly had very few complaints about the selections.

While Ams extolled the virtues of the vintage to Niles, I looked back at Kris. Eager to stamp out the embers from the earlier discussion, I tried to think of a topic. Then I remembered something from when he'd first arrived, a minor little detail that revealed its significance. "So, Kris. I noticed you were wearing a fourth pip." I paused a moment. Fortunately, Niles had begun his departure and Ams' attention was diverted back to his son. "When did you get promoted?"

"Three weeks ago," Kris replied.

Kendra gave him a look from across the table. "You didn't say anything to me about it."

"It didn't come up," he smirked.

If they were younger, they'd be making faces at each other within seconds. As it was, Kendra gave her brother a wry smile while Ams chimed in. "Lieutenant already? Impressive."

I had to agree. "Yeah, Kris. Pretty good for four years," I smiled warmly at him.

He let out a grunt, almost seeming confused about the good wishes and congratulations directed at him. Kendra continued the trend. "You'll have your own ship next year, at this rate."

...Well, subtlety never was one of her strong suits, I thought to myself. But she wasn't done. "So, Mom. Dad. What have you been up to while we're off saving the Galaxy from pirates," she asked ironically.

"Well, certainly nothing so glamorous. In fact, the Defense Council is holding a meeting tomorrow morning," Ams reiterated, presumably for Kris' benefit. The only response from our son was his curious gaze as he took a dinner roll. He almost had it to his mouth when Niles returned, now carrying steaming platters of food.
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 Post Posted: Fri, November 06th 2009 08:49pm    Post subject:
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“So, what have you been doing, Kris?” his mother asked.

“Same old,” Kris replied with brevity. “Mostly pirates, mostly in deep-space asteroid fields.” He nodded towards Kendra, who also had firsthand knowledge of that subject.

“At least you have deflector shields,” Mom chuckled. “All the old Interceptor had was some shift shields to move the dust and pebbles.”

“It's not a pleasant feeling when particle shields go out in Starhunters, either,” Kris stated in a tone not dearth with counter-ego.

“So, meet any nice girls?”

Kris felt like snorting. He didn't have the time for that sort of thing. “A few,” he presented, the thought amusing him.

“A few,” his mother echoed, an air of teasing upon her as she regarded her husband. “I thought you taught him to be a gentleman.”

Snort.

“I'm sure he doesn't mean all at once, right, son?” His father questioned.

Son? Kris ran it over again in his head. What insipid parents. “No. Not all at once,” he indulged them. He shoved a piece of hot meat into his mouth, a convenient excuse for not speaking further. He drew out the experience as long as he could, savoring the juices and texture, lest he be prompted to speak yet again. Mom seemed to appreciate it as well.

“Oh, by twos, then?” Kendra quipped with a smile. She received ocular flak from their parents.

“So, Kris just made Lieutenant, Kendra was promoted,” Dad began. “You two are certainly climbing the ranks. Now I just wonder which one will make High Moff first,” The Moff Jendob concluded.

Kris' fiery instinct would have led him to drop his utensil and commence with the argumentative festivities, but he opted to instead showcase a ostentatious smile.

“Oh, it'll be Kris. They'd never tap a grunt. You Navy people get all the breaks,” Kendra taunted good-naturedly. It was different when she did it – to a point.

“Tell me that after you spend a few years in a flying durasteel can,” retorted the fighter pilot, acquiescing to the mock-tension.

“A shielded durasteel can, at least,” Mom drove again. Kris lamented that instead of an “uphill both ways” story, he'd always received that ancestral egogeance.

“Even that isn't very comforting,” Kris contested with a dismissive shrug. “Especially when most of Maelstrom's complement really needs some mechanical attention. There's a spot some funding would be useful, but not many people care about pirates.”

Maelstrom,” Dad ruminated. Several mouthfuls later, he finished the thought. “She's a Dragoon, right?”

This was the part Kris could never understand; his father was waxing haughty about himself, his wife, and his family, in that order, but, at the same time, he had to pry his head for information about his son's own years-long posting. “Last time I checked,” Kris confirmed, disappointment nonetheless creeping into his voice.

“Oh... I loved flying off of those,” Mom reminesced. “Those big hangars on the side...”

“It's one of the nicer ones I've flown from,” Kris added.

“Yeah, I'll bet,” she agreed. “I flew off one of the first ones: basically, a Dreadnaught they bolted hangar pods on. The Palpatine.”

“The what?” Kendra exclaimed. Palpatine was nigh-vilified in the modern Imperial Remnant, sometimes to the point of disregard for any positive action he might have taken. Regardless of any personal opinions, the former emperor's name was stricken from every military asset in the years since Unification.

“It was a different time, before that name was basically forbidden Galaxy-wide,” their father mused.

“Yeah, besides, it was destroyed a little while after I transferred off,” Mom recalled, eerily. “Five MC90s cornered it at Bogden and pounded it with torpedoes.”

“Probably would have been scrapped anyway,” Kris casually commented as he took a forkful of stringy vegetables into his mouth.

A few moments later, he realized the first inkling that something was wrong. The dining room was entirely silent. The second came when he realized his family was watching him. He slowly looked up to see his mother frozen, staring at him. Several uncomfortable seconds passed before she picked up her glass of wine, talking down into the crystal, quietly, retracted. “I had friends on that ship,” she whispered before taking a sip. Dad looked away.

Kris stared at his mother for a moment. He hadn't intended what he said to be interpreted in such a way. He was just trying to make conversation about an archaic ship. He certainly didn't mean to devalue the loss. He was never a diplomatic person; one half-baked comment, and now he made himself appear the callous villain. He almost shut his eyes as he chewed slowly, looking down at the plate. He couldn't wait to leave this place; it was a mistake to come.
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 Post Posted: Fri, November 06th 2009 08:51pm    Post subject:
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From the living room, I could hear the voices of Mom and Dad in the kitchen, but I couldn't make out any words. But the tension in the house was was so thick that I wasn't sure a lightsaber would make a dent in it.

"Well, that was..." I tried to find a word beside tense to plug into the sentence, but failed. "Tense."

"You see what I mean now?" Kris growled.

Something about his attitude sent an electric jolt of irritation through me. "I saw you shoot off your mouth and snub Dad every time he spoke," I shot back quickly. My brother looked at me as if I just plunged a poisoned dagger into his back. I sighed. "Kris, what the frak started this thing with Dad anyway?"

His expression quickly changed from shock and betrayal to a piercing stare. "He did. Just the way he is..."

Suddenly, I was seeing my brother in a way I hadn't before... and I didn't like the view. "You sure he changed, Kris?"

"No. He didn't change Kendra. That's the problem."

What does that mean? I opened my mouth to reply, but another voice—this time from the back of the room—filled the air. "Krischen, may I speak with you a moment?"

I turned to see Dad standing there, his eyes locked onto my twin like turbolaser batteries. There was fire in those eyes, barely controlled. For a moment, I realized just what a striking and menacing figure the man could be. He was no longer Dad; now it was Moff Ams Jendob, Director of Imperial Intelligence and he was pissed.

Kris looked at me. He seemed bothered by the contact with our father; I viewed him more as a lamb off to the slaughter. I drank down the last few swallows of beer in my glass, wincing at how bitter it suddenly seemed, then stood. As Kris walked toward Dad, I followed, hanging back.

"Kendra," Dad spoke, his voice full of frozen durasteel. "This is a private matter between your brother and I."

The icy weight of those simple words stopped me dead in my tracks. I managed a simple nod, and sat back down. He turned to Kris. "Follow me."

Looking over his shoulder as Dad walked to his study, my brother gave me another frown before following him in. Gods, little man. What have you done now?
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 Post Posted: Sat, November 07th 2009 03:36pm    Post subject:
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Kris had only just passed through the oak-facade door when his father closed it behind him. Kris took a moment to recall the familiar sights of the study: traditional-bound books, holorecords, a few ornamental plants maintained by Niles, a pair of deep chairs, and – Kris was sure – the occasional spy device.

“Now,” Dad resonated, permeating the brief silence. He stalked towards the ochre desk towards the back of the room. “What the hell is your problem?”

Kris had known to expect some kind of lecture, but he hadn't expected The Moff Jendob's fangs to come out so expedienty. “Seriously?” He scoffed, concurrent with a brief laugh. He brought himself about, prepared to exit the scene. “I'm not talking about this. I'm here, and that's plenty enough.”

“Your mother was... rather upset with you,” his father informed him, seething tone not well concealed. “And I'd like to know what possessed you into making a comment like that.”

Kris could scarcely believe the level of outrage his careless, unintentional statement had caused. He didn't mean anything malicious by it! He hadn't even thought that a statement about the regular decomissioning of older ships could have been interpreted as an endorsement of the deaths of his mother's friends. It was baffling to him that The Moff Jendob would take it upon himself to twist such a thing. “Oh, excuse me, Dad,” Kris bit out the sardonic words, placing a hand on his chest melodramatically. “I guess I didn't think through the 'myriad' possibilities that she could pull out of it. I guess I'm not you,” he finished scathingly. Kris didn't care about holding his tongue or trying to make himself fit into the household; as far as he was concerned, he'd never return to this strawpaper family again.

“I'd think, having served aboard starships, you'd understand that people form bonds with those aboard,” The Moff Jendob preached. He still didn't understand the simple fact that Kris had been conveying. He didn't comprehend that Kris wasn't even thinking about degrading the memories of the people on the Palpatine. It was so preposterous, so ridiculous; but it was typical of The Moff Jendob.

“For frak's sake, Dad, we were talking about ships!” Kris barked, turning away from the door and approaching the desk. “Designs! Specifications! Are you going to pull me aside and spank me whenever I say something that just happens to poke on of your 'serious, bad' memories? Just so you two can whip out the maudlin?!”

“Maybe if you knew a damned thing about what it was like in those days, you would have room to speak,” The Moff boiled, dark eyes threatening to swallow him up in their fury. “And fighting pirates is nothing compared to fighting the Rebellion. You know nothing of sacrifice, of hardship,” he ridiculed, a fire burning beneath the icy surface.

“Alright, shut up, already!” Kris interrupted mid-sentence. He'd heard it before. “Every opportunity you get, you always go into your little tirades, your little rants! About something that I didn't even mean in the way you and Mom took it!” He shouted an explanation.

“And instead of trying to make it right, you make excuses for yourself, and blame others!” The conflagration erupted from The Moff's cold exterior. “We raised you better than that, Krischen! We taught you to be better than that.

“Yeah, because you've done a whole lot to make things right in the past couple years, hmm?” Kris baited. He didn't need to remind his father about the birthday party incident, which paled in comparison to how this visit was forming.

He strategically paused to let his point sink in before hitting the control on the panel. The door's whine and the influx of cold air indicated he was now free to escape the oven. “I'll get a hotel in the Square. I'd rather be there than get crucified by Moff Jendob, because what he thinks is always the frakking truth.”

“Two years?” The Father whispered, in disbelief. “You're still crying about that?” He demanded, taking a step towards the door.

Kris hesitated at the threshold. He wrinkled his brow, as if reconsidering, then pantomimed rubbing away imaginary tears from his eyes. “Yeah, I guess you're right, Dad. Maybe it's the past ten years? It's all the same.”

“One argument, over...” The Father paused, straining to recall. “What the frak did you even start that fracas over anyway?”

“What does it matter?” Kris admitted. “I mean, clearly it takes nothing to set you off!” He reminded, jutting chin in the general direction of the dining room.

“I would hardly call--” The Moff began to roar before halting himself, surely remembering his etiquette or diplomacy or psychology courses, or some such bunk. “The point is, you saw your mother, you saw it affected her. And you made no attempt to remedy the situation. Instead, you go off on the weather!” He continued, emphatic voice revolting finally.

“Because every time I say anything, you analyze it and tear it apart, and twist it into what you want!”

“Such as?” The Moff Jendob prodded.

“Tonight?” Kris disrespectfully chided his response. “And before that, the vase. Hell, what about the time we went to Denon?”

“... the vase? What are you on about?” The Father inquired. Kris could never understand how a “master of Intelligence” could be so inept and ignorant about his own child.

“Anything to screw me, Moff. Anything I offer, you have to up the ante,” the young man regarded the Imperial officer standing in front of him. Familial ties were in a state of ever-accelerating dissolution. “And where do you get off bringing me in here when this is between Mom and me? You her secretary now? I'd rather talk to her than get the verbal nine-tails from you.”

“I bloody complimented you on it!” The Moff evaded, instead regressing to the topic of the vase. “You're the one who behaves as if any word said to you is an inquisiton.”

“Isn't it?” Kris searingly accused.

The Moff and The Father both had no retort to bring to bear. Their mouth was agape. They physically recoiled as if struck, focused statically on the person before them.

Kris quietly exhaled, satisfied with the critical blow, and proceeded through the door. There was simply nothing more to say, and Kris Jendob would have been pleased if the psychological wound he finally inflicted on his father would slowly bleed him to death.
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 Post Posted: Sat, November 07th 2009 04:25pm    Post subject:
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When Kris stormed back through the door, I could tell things had gone from bad to worse. Much worse. His face was screwed up into a mix of rage, determination, and apathy. Dad had a stunned look on his face until he saw me peering in. Then the door closed, rather quickly. "Kris...?" I asked.

There was no reply as he marched up the stairs, and a few moments later, came back down with his bag. If the tension would've stopped a lightsaber before, now... hell, I couldn't think of a way to describe it, other than it was now practically suffocating. "Kris," I started again. "What's going on?"

"I'm leaving," he said simply.

"Well, wait. Why?"

"Take a shot in the dark."

"You and Dad had it out again?" I actually felt kind of stupid even saying such an obvious thing.

"You couldn't hear it?"

...Then again, he could say something stupid too. "Not till you opened the door." The door had been soundproof since we were kids. Maybe he's being metaphorical...

"Oh, that's right," Kris scoffed. "Everything has to be soundproofed." He slung his bag over his shoulder.

What the hell does that mean? Did you just bring it up so you can bitch about something else? My frustration slipped out. "Gods, what is it with men in this family?"

He ignored that and continued heading to the front door. I saw Mom appear, and silently motion me to the back. I nodded, reluctantly, and moved to cut off the back door.

A family dispute had now become a tactical situation, apparently. What a great way to start the year, Little Man...
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 Post Posted: Sat, November 07th 2009 04:49pm    Post subject:
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After dispatching Kendra to the back, I jogged through the kitchen and dining room, plus a side hall to reach the front door. Apparently, Kris was in no real hurry to depart since I managed to reach the front door about ten seconds ahead of his arrival.

The fight he had with his father had to be a bad one. Even two years ago, he didn't storm out right away, not after a single engagement. There was the blowout, then a few smaller skirmishes as I tried to reconcile the matter. Essentially, a bunch of little straws that ultimately broke the bantha's back. But this time...

"Kris," I said evenly, as if I'd caught him about to do something he shouldn't. It was a tone I had some practice with from his adolescence.

And for a moment, the determination was shaken. He looked at me, meekly. "Bye Mom," he said quietly.

I sighed. "Don't you think you're overreacting a bit?"

He grumbled to himself about choosing sides, and went to move past me. "Sorry I couldn't stay longer."

I stepped directly in his path, blocking his access to the door. No, not this time, gods dammit. "I'm not on his side," I remarked. "He was trying to be on mine." I paused a moment, and gestured to a chair. "Come on, sit down."

But the resolute cast had returned to my son's face and tone. "Guess he did a good job, then." I could tell he was trying to hold back a more vicious tone.

"Put the bag down and have a seat," I repeated.

He merely folded his arms, but also made no move to advance. He was listening. "Kris, you're overreacting... just like your father did." Even though the conversation had taken place behind a sealed door, I knew my husband. "Now, what you said hurt... but I'm over it. And I know you didn't mean it like that.

"But your father can be overprotective... of me, and of you." I hoped that might jog his memory of all the times Ams had stood by Kris and Kendra. "It's just who he is."

I could tell I'd struck a nerve... and not the right one. Maybe I had one last chance to solve this without a disaster. "Come on. At least sit down for a minute if you're going to hike all the way down to the Square."

"'Just who he is' is what I can't stand," Kris said abruptly. He sighed, and shook his head. I could see in his eyes there was real disappointment about the turn of events, that maybe he'd hoped it had been better for everyone involved... or maybe just for him. "I'm sorry, Mom. This was a bad idea. I just want to get out of here."
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 Post Posted: Sat, November 07th 2009 05:05pm    Post subject:
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Kris was moving around his mother's flank when he felt her hand on his arm, rather tightly, bringing him to a momentary halt. “Hey,” she said “If you want to leave, fine. But no son of mine is going to wander through Prominence Square at this hour,” she admonished. “So, you have a choice. You can spend the night here, and leave first thing in the morning,” the woman paused. “Or, you can spend the night here... and try to patch things up with your father.”

The young man yanked away from her grip. Her touch felt strangely peculiar and discomforting to him. “Mom, stop it. I'm not fourteen. That man is never going to get it, and I've had it with trying to drill it into his thick skull,” he hissed with vehemence. “And you don't need to hold me under your wings.”

She leaned back against the door control, blocking his access. “You're not going out there.”

Dad must be rubbing off on her, he entertained the notion. He didn't waste his breath further, turning on his heel and moving for the back door.

“Your sister's cutting off the back. Do you really want to mess with her?” His mother said with grim vindication, a calculating tone. It didn't matter; he was leaving, even if he had to plow Kendra over. “Eight hours, Kris. The sun is up in eight hours, and your father can be kept away from you for that long,” she offered.

She, as well, was missing the point. It had almost come to blows before, with his father. And while Kris, if their arguments did turn violent, was certain his astounding father would pull some cheap Intel trick and stop Kris' fist with an open palm and a quip, the young man had no qualms about facing Moff Jendob, whether it be verbal or physical. Even if his own hide were obliterated, Kris wouldn't hold back. Kris was not afraid of him. His mother's implication of otherwise worsened his disposition.

He couldn't summon up any more words, instead just shaking his head, thinking about how incredible this all was.
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 Post Posted: Sat, November 07th 2009 05:31pm    Post subject:
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The comment about Kendra had been my final attempt at humor. Unfortunately, it seems it went over, around, or in some other fashion avoided Krischen's head. My offer—hell, it was a plea—was fair. I just wanted my son to be safe, my family to be in one piece. I knew what it was like to lose a child, and I knew what it was like to feel disowned by my parents. I didn't want to lose my son, physically or metaphorically.

"Kris, please," I begged, letting my desperation show. "If something happens, do you really want it to end on this note?" Even if nothing happens... do you want it to end like this?

He just pushed past me, and said over his shoulder, "All this happened before and it's not going to happen again, Mom."

It was over. I stepped aside and he pushed the door control. The front door slid to the side, and he started to go. "Wait," I called. The words were difficult to force from my throat. "At least contact me when you get somewhere. Please."

He stopped for a moment, just outside the door. He turned, just enough to look out of the corner of his eye at me, and gave a slow nod. And then he vanished into the night. I turned back inside, leaning against the doorjamb. I could feel the pressure in my eyes, the tightness in my throat as the door slid shut.

"Gods frakking DAMMIT!" I shouted to no one in particular.
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 Post Posted: Wed, February 17th 2010 05:47pm    Post subject:
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Kendra checked her watch for the tenth time. Kris leaned against the living room wall. They were waiting for their parents to return from Imperial Headquarters.

Kris had been dragged back into it. His sister had contacted him, anxiously describing the "terrorist attack" that had occurred earlier in the morning. And despite of his feelings of the day before, Kris had to come back to see what really happened. He hated himself for being controlled, but there would be time for the hate later after he discovered if his parents were still intact.

The door slid open. Mom entered, looking exhausting. Kendra immediately sprang up and ran to her, screaming, "Mom!"

With a yielding hand, the woman indicated Kendra to stop. "Glad to see you guys, too," she greeted with a weary, weak smile.

Although he was relieved his mother was physically unaffected, Kris didn't show the same affection that his twin sister showed. He kept his voice linear. "What happened?"

"Someone set off a bomb, from what I heard," she responded. "Jagged Fel is dead. So is most of the defense council."

This shocked Kris more than the prospect of his parents being dead. Fel had become a fixture of the Empire, representing the new, open society into which it had been transformed. He didn't realize his mouth had been dropped open until he went to speak. "Wait, what?"

"Gods," Kendra muttered quietly, as Mom leaned against the wall, tired. "What about dad?"

"He's okay. He stepped out for a minute; just before the bomb went off," she informed them before continuing with a hint of warning. "But this still is all very hush-hush."

Kris frowned. None of this was making any sense. "How did a bomb get through Headquarters security?" He voiced his confusion.

"Frakked if I know," his mother swore, shaking her head.

Kris awkwardly scratched at his collar bone. She didn't usually swear. "Who else died?" He asked, fearing the answer. "Fel, gods..." he reflected again, quietly.

"Almost all of them. I guess Saretti, your father, and Rosset were the only immediate survivors."

All of them? This could tear the Empire apart. Kendra shivered, obviously thinking the same. "So... what now?"

"The Moff Council already put out an emergency order. Half the fleet is being recalled to Bastion. Everyone else is moving to guard positions around the other planets. Usually where there's one bomb... another's waiting," she paused for a moment before looking at Kendra. "All of the Stormtrooper divisions have been pulled back too."

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 Post Posted: Thu, February 18th 2010 09:31pm    Post subject:
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I was reeling from the stream of information. Someone blew up part of the Moff Council, and now the leader of the Imperial Remnant, along with the top military and security commanders... all dead. Even Kris seemed to be concerned, which was more emotion than he'd shown since I met up with him. I supposed I should've been grateful that he at least seemed to care about everything we knew being thrown into anarchy... his concern for our parents—if he had particularly much anymore—was a bit harder to find.

Mom continued after mentioning the Corps-wide recall. "I guess you two are stuck here for a while."

It took me a moment to realize she was making an attempt at humor. She always did that when things were bad, to keep our spirits up. Before Mom and Dad had their investments pay off, things would be tight more often than not. Kris and I never went without essentials, or even some less vital things, but I later realized that there were times our parents would curtail their own discretionary spending. And then of course, there was the aftermath of the accident... she'd always try to smile around Kris and I when she got out of the hospital. It wasn't until I was trying to sneak around after bedtime that I saw through the facade she put on for us. At first, I'd heard her crying... when I peeked around the corner, I saw Dad holding her in his arms and whispering quietly to her. Not quite six years old, I heard new and strange words being uttered, like miscarriage and hysterectomy; words a girl in her first year of school had no business wanting to know about.

We still didn't talk about that crash very often, or even crashes in general. It was a very taboo subject in our house since then.

And now, with the Remnant on the verge of collapse, with martial law all but declared (recalling of the Stormtroopers was a major step toward it), she was trying to protect us. To shield us. We thought we might have lost our parents to the bomb for most of the day; perhaps this was her way to assuage the still raw nerves and the strangling lumps in our throats.

Some things never change, I thought. What had been an epithet last night was now a comforting axiom. With the Universe going to hell in a handbasket, some constancy was nice--

"No matter where she's stationed, I have to get back to the Maelstrom," Kris said.

A flash of anger shot up my spine and into my brain. I noticed Mom frowning, but keeping silent, but I couldn't. Not this time. "For frak's sake, Kris! Would it kill you to stay long enough for Dad to get back?" I snapped.

"Kendra!" Mom exclaimed, apparently upset by the profanity.

But now wasn't the time to stand on ceremony. Besides, even if she rarely cursed around us—even as we got older—I knew she wasn't exactly pure of vocabulary herself. "No, Mom. Last night was one thing," I noted. I could almost understand that, but didn't Kris see? Things were different. We needed to band together, not keep rubbing salt into wounds! "But, gods, with what's going on now? Can't we forget about that for a night, Kris?"

"Paranoid much, Kendra?" he shot back. The anger flashed white-hot again. "I'm just doing my Imperial duty. Besides, he's alive."

That sickening dismissal nearly pushed me over the edge. I started to wonder if this callous man standing in front of me was the same Kris Jendob I grew up with, if he was still my brother. The anger must've shown, because I heard Mom utter a sigh of resignation. "Paranoid?" I retorted. "You're the one that sees grand schemes to ruin your life everywhere you look!"

That one struck a nerve, but he quickly covered it up. "Well, it's good to see the Stormtroopers accepted you after you flunked out of psychology school."

I got ready to fire off another barb, perhaps exposing a few more of his insecurities when a voice ripped through the conversation. "Knock it off; both of you!"

For a minute, I wondered if one of my old drill instructors had stepped through the door. The voice had such a command presence and ferocity... then I realized it was someone much more familiar than that. Literally.

I looked at Mom and saw a vision of barely restrained rage. Her hands were clenched into white-knuckled fists... which were shaking. Her teeth were also clenched, while fire burned in her eyes. If I'd seen her that upset twice in my life, it'd be an overestimate. She was usually so friendly and outgoing and just plain nice that I'd forgotten that Mom could be genuinely terrifying when she was pushed too far. "Kendra, leave your brother alone. His issues are his, alone," she growled. Then she fixed that deadly gaze on my brother as she issued her warning. "Kris... just don't. All right? Just. Don't."

I'd been to Hoth once, for a training exercise. Mom's voice was colder than the nights there.

But then Kris had the gall to just shrug it off. "And again, it's better if I leave."

The urge to punch him became overwhelming. I knew Kris had issues with Dad, but this level of selfishness and outright spite seemed uncharacteristic for him. Maybe for all of his talk of change, he was the best argument against it...

But before I could violate my brother's face with my fist, Mom spoke up. Her voice was warmer, but still full of durasteel. "No. No, it's not. Your father almost died today. At least let him see his son one last time before someone tries again, hmm?"

Even though he muttered some stupid passive-aggressive remark under his breath, he didn't move. Mom sat down in a chair, sighing and rubbing her temples. "Look, guys, just... not today. All right? Can we at least pretend we're to be a remotely normal family tonight?"

"Wasn't that on last night's menu?"

Urge... to pummel... rising...

But Mom just shrugged off his snide remark. "A family feud on New Year's Day? How's that not normal, Kris?"

"Not for lack of trying," he spoke again. I couldn't believe what I was hearing...

Mom looked away, then back. As if to clear myself from her line of fire, I retreated away from Kris and sat in another chair. I could tell she had something very frank and decidedly unmotherly to tell Kris. I also wanted to get away from this cruel imposter of my brother.

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 Post Posted: Fri, February 19th 2010 11:48pm    Post subject:
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They had misinterpreted what he said. Memories of Mom's umbrage of his unintentional comment at last night's dinner flooded back to him.

Kris had tried. He'd really tried his best not to lose his temper the night before. He'd tried to make things seem normal, for the sake of his mother and his sister. But his father had knocked him down again, simply because he thought he knew everything. It wasn't Kris that fanned the flames again - but that didn't matter to anyone but Kris.

"Look, just--" his mother began before the telltale shuffle of the front door interrupted. In walked their father, bruises and small lacerations emblematic of the trauma he'd experienced earlier in the morning.

"Am I interrupting something?" he reacted to the snapshot of tense body language of everyone else in the room.

"No," Mom spoke before Kendra could interject about her evil, awful brother.

The Moff walked inside, surveying the situation and not entirely believing his wife. "Kris," he greeted simply and noncommittally, although the intonation encoded his emotions - distant, yet vaguely pleased at his son's presence. It was the first time Kris had been able to identify such a thing.

"Hi," Kris responded. His eyes were on his father, but he was half-surprised to find he could find no emotion to put onto his face.

The Moff simply nodded politely.

His son continued to stare at him until the moment grew tepid. "Well?" Kris prompted an explanation of the circumstances of the attack.

"There's not much I can tell you," he shrugged. As he talked, his eyes strayed to the vase Kris had given his much-happier the night before. A faint smirk flashed across his face "We're doing everything we can to prevent outright chaos and anarchy."

"Ams, why don't you sit down?" Mom abruptly stood. Kris assumed she was attempting to deflect some of the heavy thoughts from the Moff's mind.

Dad blinked. "No, I'm fine. Thank you," he informed his wife as he would have politely declined a refill of coffee. Kris couldn't suppress his disgusted thoughts that his parents were living in a perpetual dollhouse. The pilot crossed his arms over his chest and held his tongue.

"Actually, I'm going to go upstairs and change," his father admitted. As he walked away, they could see the dried blood on his hands. It must have been an interesting morning.

Kris thought about leaving then. Maybe if he could depart without any major incident, there would be some chance of reconciliation later. Not that he wanted reconciliation, but... at any rate, his family did not have to speak any words to infirm upon him that he should stay until the Moff returned.

It wasn't long until the patriarch returned, elegantly walking down the steps in a fresh change of clothes, as if nothing unusual had happened that day. "So, Kris, Kendra... how long do you plan on staying around?" He began the smalltalk. Anger pang, anger pang...

"I gotta get in touch with my company commander," Kendra began. "I tried when you were cleaning up; it was busy. Till then, I guess I'll stay here," she said lovingly to her parents, before casting a haughty look upon her brother. "I guess you're going out?" She instigated, full of moral superiority.

"I have my assignment," Kris glared. Kendra was speaking with unmasked disdain. This wasn't going to end nicely.

"Yeah, I'll bet," Kendra retorted.

"Kendra, stop," their father commanded. He, at least, didn't want act II of the Jendob family lovefest.

"Sorry, Dad," Kendra orated an apology, although her eyes were still locked on Kris. She spoke the words tinged with insult, rubbing her obedience into her brother, as if he were a renegade.

"Good," Mom proclaimed, on the edge of seething. "There have been enough explosions in this family."

Explosions? Kris thought. Finally, it was his turn to give his mother an incredulous look at something she did not intend to say.

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 Post Posted: Sat, February 20th 2010 10:39pm    Post subject:
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For a minute, I was sure I misheard. But decidedly disturbed looks from Kris and Kendra confirmed what my wife had said. A touch of disgust came over me as I realized, too, that she knew exactly what she'd said. Fitting, I supposed, in a decidedly twisted fashion. Indeed, if my hands hadn't been caked with blood from Saretti and Pridnyein, if the images of the mutilated bodies and the single, bloody arm that comprised the sum of Jagged Fel's mortal remains weren't still fresh in my mind... I might have even laughed at her dark joke.

But not now. "Could you choose your words with a bit more tact?" I requested. There was more I could've said... but not now. Things were tense enough and I wasn't about to undercut Shayera in front of the twins. At least, not any more than necessary. "I wasn't the only one there. Just the luckiest."

Shy, if just for an instant, looked as if she'd been slapped. I'm sure she had a reason for the remark... perhaps to shock, perhaps to remind Kris and Kendra that there were up to a dozen families that would never be whole again tonight. In any case, I could tell from the look she gave me that we'd have words later.

As long as it's later. I looked back at Kris. If he wanted to go, I'd let him... no battles this time. "I know you... rather, we have some issues to work out," I started. "But thank you for coming by."

Maybe he hated me, maybe not. I wasn't sure... but even if he'd been dragged here against his will, there was still something touching in that he stayed this long. Maybe one day, we'd get everything straight between us. Maybe not. But his actions showed he was a good man at heart, and maybe even still a loving son. Maybe.

"My pleasure, Moff," Kris replied. He started to move toward the door. No explosion, as it was...

"What, Kris? No hug?" My daughter's voice suddenly filled the room with twice as much tension, just as it had begun to abate.

"Frak off, Kendra," her brother grunted. Frighteningly, I was inclined to agree.

"Kris," Shayera intoned disapprovingly.

But the damage was done. Perhaps Shy's quick reprimand only added fuel to the fire. Kris threw his bag down, but his gaze was fixed on his sister. "You know, this was your idea, but you've been nothing but a placating whore for them!"

I almost slid my palm down my face. But, in light of the reddish-brown traces that still stained some areas on the bottom of my hand, I merely clenched a fist and rested my forehead on that. Meanwhile, the argument went up another ten decibels. "Yeah, gods frakking forbid you ever admit you might be wrong! Especially to your own parents!"

I looked up. "Kendra...", I called, trying to distract her. Maybe to tell her to settle down, maybe just to break the sequence for a moment.

Shayera muttered under her breath as well, her tone indicating resignation and frustration. Neither one of our children paid any mind. ...Well, that's nothing new.

"I thought you'd have been the one person who knows I'm not wrong!" Kris shouted.

"I don't even know what the hell you're on about anymore! But you don't even want to settle it, do you? You just want to grind your axe," she accused. Then her tone became needling, mocking. "Poor little Krischen Jendob. He gets all the breaks, but it's not good enough. Oh, no."

Shayera's voice cut through the end of her sentence. "Kendra, enough!"

"Yeah, because you were so deprived," the male twin said dismissively.

"Oh, right. It's a bad thing Mom and Dad didn't raise us on the streets!"

"Maybe if you'd peek out of the great Jendob egojerk for a minute, you'd have actually have some kind of bearings in this," he hissed back.

"Now wait," I started, but it was too late. Kendra took a few long, menacing strides closer to her brother. Shy and I exchanged glances, communicating wordlessly. Kris was hers, I'd handle Kendra. If it came to that.

Then Kris made his error. He laughed in her face. "Yeah, c'mon. Defend our honor or whatever."

Shy and I started to get up, but Kendra was faster in word and deed. "Okay," she simply, with the chilling calm possessed by one committed to an action to the very end.

She grabbed his shoulders, gripping tightly. Then, in a single, fluid motion, she drilled her knee into Kris. I saw him hunch over defensively, but not fast enough. His face clearly showed that Kendra still stuck her mark with enough undeflected force. She stepped back, confidently.

But he recovered quickly. "You frak," he wheezed, lunging and grabbing a fistful of her hair and striking at her arm.

By this point, I was halfway to her, Shy about the same distance from Kris. Kendra exclaimed, then twisted and elbowed her brother in the solar plexus.

But it was the last blow she'd be striking. I wrapped my arms around her from behind and physically dragged her away from her stricken brother as Shayera restrained him, as well.

This day just gets better and frakking better, I thought sourly.

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 Post Posted: Sun, February 21st 2010 01:20am    Post subject:
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Kris did his best to ignore the icy, vacuous pain that was pulsating through his sternum. He'd done his best to fend off Kendra's viscous move, but it wasn't enough. Another savage blow from her elbow made him grunt aloud, knowing that his chest was going to be black and blue several days. He maintained his grip on her hair, hearing her yelp before arms from behind pulled him away.

There was something about Kendra fighting him that made Kris feel all the more insulted. They shared a connection, whether either of them wanted to admit it or not. When that link was strained, or severed, it magnified the intensity. And it was pushing every single button Kris had.

As his mother pulled him away, Kris initially resisted her backwards motion. Upon seeing Kendra likewise restrained by their father, he assented. But he still barked at his sister."You bitch! You're so becoming of an officer."

"At least I'm not a traitor to my own family," she replied with vitriol. The look of hatred on her face was raw, and Kris was sure a similar expression had erupted over his visage.

"At least I'm not... a bitch," Kris replied. He was tired of thinking of clever retorts.

"That's enough, Kendra!" Dad growled, as Mom twisted Kris away from his sister, so that his back was to her. "Are you two twenty-five or just five?" The Moff demanded.

Another button. Kris quickly found his ire redirected to his father. Everything had come full circle, brought back to bear on the source of the schism. "What's it matter," Kris taunted resentfully, resisting his mother's grip. "It makes no difference to you!"

It truly didn't. The Moff had treated Kris fundamentally the same as far back as the young man could remember. He was always a puppet to be directed, or a pet to be praised when laud was necessary, or scolded when his performance was unsatisfactory. Whether it was reading his first words, riding a bike, writing entry essays for the Imperial Academy, or pulling too loose a turn on a TIE, he was always an extension of Ams Jendob. There was no room for Kris Jendob.

Kendra rebelled against her father. Her eyes met Kris' with a piercing fury. "I don't see how you can say I'm a frak; you'll never have one!"

The insult simply brought a smile to Kris' face. "Says the girl whose only contact with a man's been kicking her brother's d--"

"Ha!" She loudly interrupted. "Wouldn't you like to--" she brought her babbling tongue to a stop upon seeing the intent, warning stares from both of their parents. She compromised, facilitating a compromise. "Frak off," she stated simply.

Kris felt himself bore into Kendra's gaze, a silent war raging in the space separating the twins. Kendra's words concluded the fight. There was nothing left to say. Kris wriggled out of his mother's grip. "Alright, just let me go. It isn't worth the trouble."

Mom was disappointed, but she allowed herself to be pushed away. Kendra also was let out of her biological cage. The Moff kept his hands firmly on his daughter's shoulders, however. A moment passed where no one dared to move.

"Come on, Kris," Mom quietly cooed. She placed a hand on his right arm. "Let's go outside for a minute."

Kris suppressed a sigh. There was just no fight left in him. He turned from the rest of his famaily without saying a word, allowing his mother to lead him towards the patio. She pushed aside the elegant Alderaanian-style doors, which contrary to appearances were fully armored and computerized, although one would not be able to ascertain that fact. Very Jendob-esque.

The dimming sun shown the ground around them with a vermilion hue. They were on the narrow promenade that capped the top rows of floral elegance. The garden below them was vibrant and astounding, the myriad colors being tinted anew by the influence of Bastion's star. The austere-yet-elegant path that wound down the distance from the perch to the road appeared to fluoresce. It was perhaps more breathtaking to see the gardens from above than from below.

"Are you alright?" His mother asked, interrupting the visual entrapment.

"Wonderful," Kris intoned sarcastically with weariness.

"I guess you were right this time," she admitted reluctantly. Kris, for a moment, couldn't recall what she was referencing. Then his words from earlier echoed in his mind: And again, it's better if I leave. She reflected for a moment, then continued. "Do you want to sit down for a minute? That looked... painful," she carefully chose the words.

"Not as bad as you'd think," Kris impatiently lied. He understood what his mother was trying to do. He wasn't angry at her for trying. But it wasn't the right time. "Look, I shouldn't have been here in the first place; I have orders."

"I know," she assured him. "I just wish of all days... that it wasn't this one."

"It wasn't supposed to be," Kris promised her. He hadn't intended what had happened. He certainly hadn't intended to have it out with Kendra, of all people.

His mother suddenly gripped him in a tight hug, pressing her moistened face into his shoulder. Her breath came with pain and halting. For a moment, Kris thought her heart was failing her. Perhaps, in a way, it was, but there was no physical affliction. "Gods, Kris."

Kris allowed her to touch him. It felt comforting, but only a distant fireplace espied through a window felt comforting to a man stuck in the snow. He didn't reciprocate her embrace But he could feel every emotion running through her, as if she had spliced her nervous system into his. He saw a part of his mother that was rarely revealed. It was fearful; fearful of the attack that had nearly taken her husband, fearful of her flesh and blood tearing apart their family.

They remained there for several minutes. Neither said anything. His mother grew sadder even though her tears eventually withdrew. He could tell she was expecting some kind of breakdown, some kind of glimpse into Kris' soul. But there would be no such spectacle today. But he felt love for his mother once again.

However, it wasn't the kind that lent itself to outward demonstration. Kris pulled away. He thought she'd know he cared for her - that was enough for the time being. "Try to... keep safe," he worded.

"I-I'm sorry, Kris," she continued in her own line of thinking, registering his benediction, but too overwhelmed to say anything but profuse apologies. She wiped at her eyes. With an inward effort, she now tried to lock away all her doors of emotion and contain herself. She also knew that this resolution was all she could ask for. "Oh, damn it," she breathed, traces of involuntary stutter in her voice. "I left your bag inside."

Kris was worried she had decided to play out some other gambit to have him talk with his father. "Just ship it to the fleet later," he admonished. "I have other uniforms."

"No," she contested. "I'll get it." She was resolute; this was something she had to do for her son, Kris figured. With a gentle look, she retreated into the house.

Kris watched the doors as they closed shut. He leaned back against the railing, placing a hand over his eyes, needing a break from the pervasive sun. More importantly, he needed to be alone for a few brief moments. Just him and his mind, eyes shuttered and ears unmolested. He sighed.

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 Post Posted: Sun, February 21st 2010 01:21am    Post subject:
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His bag was right by the door. Ams and Kendra were talking, but I didn't pay much attention beyond noticing the decidedly tense tones. I grabbed the bag and went back outside, where Kris was waiting. His shirt was wet on the shoulder... the role-reversal seemed odd to me. When he was a child, I dried his tears many times. But, for some reason, it seemed alien to reverse those positions. And yet, it was comforting, too.

I'd just needed to vent. Last night had been bad enough, but I'd been too angry to realize how much it hurt, too. But now, with someone trying to kill my husband—and managing to kill the leadership of the Imperial military—on top of the family strife... it was too much for one person to bear.

It was also nice to know that some part of Kris cared, even if he didn't want to admit it to anyone. That gave me a glimmer of hope about our family. But even with that in mind, it was best if he left for the night. I'd seen Kris and Kendra physically battle before, when they were young. That was one thing. But they were adults now, and they were trained in techniques to kill, disable, and maim if they had to. While I was mostly sure it would never come to that, there was a nagging concern that things could get there under the right conditions. So, there was nothing left to do but hand Kris his bag. "Stay safe," I said.

He nodded and started to walk away. The lump in my throat, tightly controlled for a few minutes now, went supernova as the distance between us increased by centimeters. Maybe because it was painfully symbolic of the emotional distance between us, maybe it was because I couldn't be sure if I'd see him again. But I had to reach out for him.

My hand found his. "Hey, Kris," I croaked softly. He turned around, an eyebrow raised. Kris and Kendra both had their father's eyes. It was a striking, cobalt blue color that always grabbed the attention of anyone they focused their gaze on. I could tell I had his full attention. "Despite what's happened in the past couple days," I began, and started to falter. "Please... don't stay away.

"We can work through this," I choked down the persistent lump and lightly squeezed his hand. "And you know I love you, right?"

A brief smile played on his features. "Yeah," he said quietly. He seemed nonplussed for a moment before I saw hardness creep into his eyes again. "You do."

His hand slipped from mine. I quickly closed it, as if trying to capture some escaping ethereal presence left by his hand. A correction hovered on my tongue; a simple two words that might get through to him... or might harden his heart further. We do. But it wasn't worth the risk of the latter...

As he stepped off onto the sidewalk, I bid him a final plea. "Please, watch out for yourself out there."

I didn't know if he heard me, as he just kept walking. I sat down on the steps leading from the door to the synthwood walkway. The stars shone brightly, perhaps too brightly for the grim events of the day. Across the Remnant, grieving families were mourning their losses. I wondered briefly how Fel's wife was handling it. There were rumors that she might be pregnant. Of course, there were also rumors of affairs and dalliances of every Moff and their spouses. But if she was, O Dear Gods...

The Empire, under Palpatine, had effectively outlawed open practice of religions. In those days, worshipping anyone beside the Emperor or anything but his Empire was... strongly discouraged. Of course, my parents, who would cut off their own noses if an Imperial complimented their faces, introduced me to some local faiths. For the most part, I was not a religious person, then or now. But thinking of Solo made me utter a small, quiet prayer to whatever deities might be looking over her, the planet, or just needed something to do.

Then my mind idly roamed to my son, no doubt hiking his way back to Ravelin. Always wandering, it seemed. Maybe that's what was so troubling about his attitude lately... it always ended with him having to leave the home he grew up in. No lifeline, no safe place to run to. A song I used to sing in school flashed through my mind, bringing a wry smile. Yes, it fit him quite nicely.

I sighed and looked skyward again. The stars and visible planets in the system slowly danced around. A bit less poetically, but more noticeable, were the various satellites, ships, and stations that orbited the planet. They seem to like wandering, too...

I shook my head at the inanity of that thought. Maybe I was just getting too much fresh air. Casting a final glance down the path Kris took, I went back inside. Ams was sitting there, a dark cloud hanging over him. But, then again, he had a better reason than most. I sat beside him and took his hand. For a moment, he tensed and seemed to want to pull away. I recalled my attempt at shocking the twins into submission. Funny how it already seems like it was so long ago...

But he quickly relaxed. We needed each other, plain and simple. I nodded toward the couch. We got up from the two separate, but close, chairs and snuggled closely on the couch. "Hey, I'm sorry about that comment," I finally sighed.

"Forget about it," he whispered. "It doesn't matter."

"Yeah, it does. It was a stupid thing to say. And it was made worse because it didn't work," I offered him a wan smile.

The corners of Ams' mouth tugged upward, just slightly. "That is always the worst."

I rested my head on his chest. I had a feeling there'd be tears there tonight, too. Some of angst... but also some of joy. After all, against all odds, Ams did survive. That was certainly reason enough to be happy in an otherwise dark time. "I love you," I murmured, looking up at him.

He lightly touched my cheek. Despite the smell of soap, there was also the faint tinge of iron wafting to my nostrils. And that shifted the focus from the small victory won today to the overwhelming losses of the last two. But, unlike a or so dozen men and women tonight, I had someone I could turn to.

And in his eyes, I could see he needed someone to turn to as well. I slid an arm around him, hugging him close. "And I'm here for you," I finished.

He kissed my forehead gently, just on the hairline. "I've never doubted it."

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 Post Posted: Sun, February 21st 2010 10:27pm    Post subject:
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The holocom shut off. Well, frak. That doesn't leave much room for options.

But, orders were orders, especially to a Stormtrooper. So, I made my way out to the living room to tell Dad the news. Maybe I'd tell Mom if the Superior Asshole wasn't still out there with her. Otherwise I'd wait until she finally kicked his ass to the curb and washed her hands of him. He'd definitely lost his last ally in this family tonight.

Of course, Dad wasn't particularly appreciative of the fact that I might have endangered the chances of continuing the Jendob line and for a little while, I almost found myself siding with Kris about him. Almost.

But walking around the backyard a little bit before I called my CO helped me cool off. And, despite my own checkered past, I was sure I couldn't be driven to outright hatred for Mom and Dad. They just did what they thought was best, like any good parents. Sometimes they were wrong, but maybe what was really annoying was how often they were right. Maybe that's what drove Kris to his heights of insanity... no matter how he tried to take them down, demean them, degrade them... insist that everything they said was wrong or a lie or something, they always wound up right.

As I approached the room, I heard heavy breathing and a woman's voice making a sound not quite a whimper, not quite a whine. That stopped me dead in my tracks. At least they're emotionally resilient, I thought with more than a little chagrin. But now what was I to do? They were blocking the only exit. Plus I didn't want to just disappear into the night...

I steeled myself and knocked on the wall. I quickly averted my gaze to the floor. "Don't get up!"

Mom's voice spoke up. She sounded out of breath and hoarse and... Aww, damn it... talk about bad timing. But there was no irritation at the interruption. "What's up, Kendra?"

I kept my gaze firmly on the floor. "Well, uh, I'm gonna head out."

"Why are you...?" Mom trailed off.

Then Dad spoke up. Apparently, he hadn't cooled off much since our talk, and apparently all Mom had done was get him rather low on oxygen, too. "Kendra, look at your mother when you're talking to her."

"But, you two..." I didn't dare think the rest of the words, lest the images and recollections come.

"Us two... what?" Now Mom sounded annoyed.

I looked up, but immediately turned my head so I was looking almost ninety degrees away from ahead. "I'm just gonna go upstairs and get my stuff. My CO wants me on base tonight."

"Do you plan on looking at him when he addresses you?" Dad remarked.

A familiar feeling of anger took hold of me. It also apparently seized control of my neck muscles, as, to my horror, I looked at them with fire burning in my eyes. And soon I'll wish it was very, very literal fire... so I won't have eyes.

And yet, the scene before me wasn't anything burlesque. It was Mom and Dad, sitting on the couch and twisted around backward to look at me. They had decidedly bemused expressions and Mom's eyes were swollen and red-rimmed. Even Dad, who was normally completely unflappable, was teary-eyed. "Do you feel all right?" Mom asked, concerned.

"Um... well... funny story... yeah..." I tried to explain. "Uh, I just gotta go."

Mom got to her feet. She was still wearing her uniform jacket, and it was still sealed at that. I could've kicked myself for jumping to that conclusion. "Are you sick?"

Normally, my parents aren't very manipulative. However, if they had to, they could push a Hutt into giving up all of its secrets... or at least revealing something it didn't want to. What made it worse is that I wasn't sure if my sudden urge to tell them was a result of this manipulation, or simply a desire to avoid it reaching that level. "I thought you and Dad were... uh... being..."

She looked at me expectantly. "Being...?"

"You know... intimate. Physically."

Mom blinked, gave me a weird look, then shook her head. "What?"

I frowned. "Do I really need to say it again?"

"I'm not even gonna ask," Mom muttered. "How are you getting there?'

Grateful for the change in subject, and noticing Dad still struggling with the last topic, I spoke quickly. "I was just gonna grab a bus or something."

"Not tonight, you're not," Mom said firmly. "I'll take you there, myself."

Platoon adjutant or no, having my own mother drive me to the base certainly wouldn't be a good thing. Gods only knew how many skulls might need cracking before the bad snickering would stop. And it would probably linger in less malicious forms for the rest of my career. "No offense, Mom, but I don't think I need to be dropped off like I'm going to school."

"No offense, Kendra, but there's someone running around right now who has a thing for blowing up Imperials."

I did suppose I'd forgotten about that, briefly, from all the excitement... as well as terror at potentially walking in on my parents. Still, there were a few issues of pride that seemed to outweight basic self-preservation. "What if you just get me within a block or two?"

"Deal," Mom agreed. Then she paused a moment. "Actually, Ams, do you want to go? I can stay..."

I winced slightly at the proposition. It didn't seem like Dad had fully recovered from our heated words earlier. And being stuck in a speeder in him for the trip would probably be rather uncomfortable. But, then again, someone did just try to kill him... I'd imagine I'd be cranky after that, too. Fortunately—maybe for both of us—he declined.

And with that, I made my way upstairs to pack. I still wasn't one hundred percent on having my mother drop me off for duty, but it beat getting blown up by a terrorist serial bomber.

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 Post Posted: Tue, March 23rd 2010 07:55pm    Post subject:
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Shayera wiped her mouth with a napkin, her eyes fixed on me. I'd just finished telling her of the events of the Council meeting earlier in the day. “Are you frakking serious?” she asked, putting the napkin back on her lap.

I nodded simply. She continued. “You, in front of the whole damn Moff Council, told them that High Moff was a sham position... and said we need a new Emperor. You.”

That drew a frown. “You say that as if you don't believe me...”

She reached her hand across the table, resting it on mine. “Ams, I believe you. But... how do I put this right?”

“I don't have the spine to do it?” I asked pointedly.

She rolled her eyes. “You do. It's just not how you usually operate. Usually, you're all cloak and dagger... not frontal assault,” she smirked.

“Cloak and dagger only works when the targets are intelligent enough to take notice,” I joked back.

Shy laughed. “Yeah, with that bunch... I think a mace upside the head might be too subtle.”

I smirked and forked the sole survivor of the dinner, a small green vegetable stalk, from my plate and consumed it. I hadn't mentioned yet that I'd been nominated as the possible figurehead leader of the Remnant. There was no doubt that whoever it was would simply be the public face of the Remnant; the Moffs had no intention of surrendering an iota of power. After the voting, several committees were formed to draw up assorted documentation to define just what the new “emperor” was, what he or she was supposed to do, and what he or she couldn't do because it stepped on too many moff-toes. And the odds for me were, at best, one in fifty. So, there was no reason to throw that around.

“So, fifty moffs,” Shayera recalled. “Chosen—and this is the beautiful part—by a democratic vote, to be Emperor.” She shook her head with a wry grin. “You know, I never should've told you what I was thinking. See what happens?”

Before I could reply, she asked, “So, who's on the list?”

Damn. Why did you have to ask that? “Rennie, Dalton, Rice, Sackhauser, Olmhoff... a few others,” I shrugged, hoping my apparent lack of interest would become contagious.

“C'mon... who else?” Shy teased, dashing my hopes.

“Well, there was also Rebbam, Labyorteaux, Keviv, me, Amabo, Airem, Starseeker, Rivers...”

Unfortunately, Shayera's hanging jaw about half-way through the list told me I didn't mumble my membership quite fast or indistinct enough. I asked innocently, “Did you hurt yourself?”

She just stared at me for several uncomfortable moments. “Oh... oh my gods. You're serious. You... you wouldn't joke about that.”

I sighed. “Shayera—”

“And... you didn't say anything before. Were—were you trying to hide that?” she asked, her voice a bizarre mixture of hurt, confusion, and curiosity.

“Shy, I was going to tell you. I just... I just didn't know the right time,” I admitted. “And—” I paused, a dark thought crossing my mind, and got up from the table. Taking a few quiet steps to the door separating the dining room and kitchen, I grasped the handle and yanked up while practically throwing the door open. There was a surprised yelp and about ninety kilos of butler spilled on the floor.

“Ah, there's that dust I missed earlier. Thank you, sir.”

I grabbed Niles by the back of his collar and pulled him to his feet. “What did you hear?”

“Why nothing, sir, I—”

Shayera was on her feet too. “Niles, no joking around this time.”

“I apologize, sir. I didn't realize—”

Niles had a nosy streak, to be sure. Of course, he usually knew when to control it. On a few occasions, I had to remind him that most things I dealt with I couldn't even inform Shayera of... let alone a civilian. However, now he'd crossed a line. “Do you have any idea what would happen to you if anyone knew that you knew?” I growled.

The color drained from his face as he contemplated it. I went on. “What am I going to do with you, Niles? Do you know what could happen to me, or to this family as a whole?”

“Ams...” Shy's voice reached out, trying to calm my tightly-controlled anger.

“Sit down,” I ordered the other man. He quickly did as commanded. I took a deep breath and continued in a quieter tone. “You've really gone past the line this time, old man.”

Niles cast his eyes downward, looking contrite. “Sir, I didn't intend to intrude on something like this...”

“But you did intend to intrude,” Shayera noted. She liked Niles, but had less patience for his antics than I did.

“So, what did you hear?” I asked again.

“You and several other Moffs are some list. I swear to you sir, I don't know what list.”

I grunted. “Well, there's already enough to put your neck in the noose. Would you like the full story?”

“Sir?”

I patted Niles lightly on the shoulder, my anger with him quickly abating. “You've served this family for seventeen years, old man. You've become a part of this family... so I'd really rather not have to throw you into the wolf's lair for opening your mouth.

“The Moff Council is selecting a new leader to help combat the terrorist threat,” I explained vaguely. “Now, you cannot breathe a word of this, Niles.”

He nodded simply. “I understand, sir.”

“This is deadly serious, old man. Not. A. Word. I don't want to have to break in a new butler,” I smirked on the last part. “Besides, odds aren't exactly in my favor. But you do not speak a word of this, not even to me or Shayera. Otherwise, I don't know if I can protect you.”

I noticed Shayera was looking at me askance, while Niles showed just the briefest flicker of fear. But he quickly buried it, replacing the terror with a dutiful, friendly smile. “In that case, will there be anything else, tonight?”

I had to chuckle. Good old Niles... granted, a droid might be more obedient, less nosy, and a simple memory wipe would remove any potentially secret data from its mind. But no machine could replace the human touch... the human personality brought in by Niles. “Nothing for me.”

He looked at Shy. She waved him off. “No, thanks. I'm full.”

I clapped Niles on the shoulder, mostly to get his attention. “All right. I guess you can stop taking care of us for the night.”

“Can I ever?” quipped Niles. “I mean... thank you, sir. Delighted to serve, sir,” he added with good-natured sarcasm.

Given his rather serious faux pas moments earlier, I found it rather... courageous of him to attempt that sort of humor so quickly. He quickly realized it was a fairly brazen move, and excused himself. No doubt a few things remained to be cleaned up before he retired for the evening.

“Can I talk to you a minute?” Shayera asked. “In private?”

I looked around, wondering if she saw anyone else. She clarified. “Such as in the study or upstairs?”

I acquiesced and we made our way upstairs to our bedroom. She shut the door behind her. “I think you're sending him mixed signals about what's okay and what's not.”

“How so?” I asked.

“Well, first you practically interrogate him... then you tell him almost everything, then threaten him again. On the other hand, he's snooping around when he knows he damn well shouldn't, and then had the gall to try and play cute after...” she noted pointedly as she sat on the bed.

“Are you feeling all right?” I asked. “You seem...”

“Bitchy?” tested Shayera.

“Sensitive would be more fitting,” I retorted.

Her mouth twisted, but slowly that wry smile that'd become all too familiar in the past few days played across her lips. “Okay, bonus points for not giving in to temptation,” she teased. “I dunno, it's just all this crap hitting the fan at once.” She paused, changing the subject again. “So... you're on the fast track to Emperor. What a Galaxy...”

I shrugged my shoulders. “It was your idea.”

“Yeah, yeah, blame it all on me. So, when are they going to decide?”

For that, I had no answer. “I honestly don't know. Hopefully soon, though. I don't know how much longer Siralt can stand the strain of leading the Moff Council.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. Half the time, he seemed ready to run off to join Zend himself,” I quipped drily.

Shy idly thumbed the leatherplast strap across her chest. Both of us were still in uniform, not really having had enough drive to peel them off. “Do you plan on sleeping in that?” I teased.

“I will if you will.”

“Too many sharp points,” I sighed, and started to tug at my belt. Once that was detached, I popped the snap on my right epaulet and pushed the wrap-around chest strap down to my side. The new uniforms were certainly more elaborate in design than the old ones from the days of the war and it seemed they were designed to be as difficult as possible to don and doff.

Once all of the external strictures were removed, the rest of it was fairly similar to the old-style uniforms. I simply unfastened the placket, opened the front panel, and pulled my left arm out. After that, I just pulled it off the right and, lo and behold, I was free from the burgundy straitjacket. Feigning exhaustion, I plopped down on the bed next to my wife.

“Yeah, that looks like way too much effort,” Shayera sighed and stretched out on the bed. “Niles might be nosy, but he definitely can cook.”

“I can give you a hand,” I said. Shy just looked at me, but offered no resistance as I unsnapped her shoulder board and pulled the leatherplast strap away. Tentatively, I reached for her belt buckle. Again, there was implicit permission to carry on. There was nothing particularly charged about it, either. Twenty-seven years together led to a level of maturity; not everything carried with it some kind of eroticism at all times. So, there was no issue as I unhooked her belt and pulled it away. But then the progress came to a halt; I figured she'd want to do the rest.

Finally, she sat up, digging her fingers in under the placket. “Why'd you quit? I was perfectly content to just sit there and let you finish.”

“Because, you're too young to be an invalid.”

She lightly cuffed my shoulder. “Stop hanging around Niles so damned much or I won't let you undress me.”

I blinked, processed what she said again, and looked at her askance. “Let me undress you?”

Shy blushed. “Err, yeah. That didn't come out quite right.”

I laughed, gently patting her hand. “Well, nobody's perfect. Some are just closer than others.”

She pulled her jacket off, shaking her head at my remark. “I dunno if I'd go so far as to call you perfect...”

“That's why I was talking about you,” was the reply.

“Flattery will get you nowhere. I'm a real officer, not a moff,” Shayera jibed.

I grabbed my chest as if stabbed. “Ohh, that hurts! And a low blow, at that.”

Shy smirked. “Score one for the grunts.”

“Oh, no no no, my love. You don't understand,” I said admonishingly. “You're going to have to pay for that.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“Maybe I should put you across my knee.”

Shy laughed. “Hey, hey. Now.... don't threaten me with a good time,” she smiled. “Unless you plan on making good on it.”

I wrapped my arms around her. She slid an arm behind my neck. “And if I did?” I asked quietly.

She just smiled, and lightly pressed her lips against mine. “We'd have to see where it goes.”

I returned her kiss and squeezed her a little tighter. I found myself staring into those beautiful green eyes, set in that perfect face... even at fifty-one she was still breathtakingly gorgeous. “Is that an invitation?”

She shrugged awkwardly. “Not sure yet. But,” she paused, pulling herself closer. “I do know, whatever we do, I just want to be close to you.”

What else was there to do when the most lovely being in the Galaxy said something like that? I held her tighter and we laid down on the bed. Her warmth quickly diffused into me. I slid a hand up her back, running through her long, red hair. “Is this close enough?”

Shayera shifted a little, pressing us closer. “Not yet,” she said quietly.

She press her lips to mine again. Unlike the light, gentle kiss from before, this was firmer... though not yet rough. I started to rub her back through the standard-issue t-shirt she had been wearing under her jacket. She let out a long sigh, almost a contented purr. “Are you trying to get some action tonight?”

I didn't reply. “Hey, if you want to mess around... just say so,” she continued.

“Do you want to?”

She shrugged. “I could take it or leave it, right now. It's just been so damn hectic for the last week. It's nice to remember that I actually do have a life after I take that uniform off every night. And someone to spend it with.”

Another smile played on my face at her candidly-displayed affection. But, it was dampened somewhat when I realized she was also referencing several wives and husbands who no longer had that luxury. “I'm not going anywhere, love. You still have to put up with me.”

“Damn well better,” Shy replied, planting another kiss.

As her lips met mine, a lock of her hair fell down in front of her eyes. I lightly brushed the silky strands away one moment; the next I was running my fingers through her luxuriant mane. Her response was definitely positive: she placed her hands on both sides of my head and started to nibble on my lower lip. That went on for a few seconds before she pulled back and looked me squarely in the eyes. “Okay... I'll put the ball in your court. You've got two options: let go, and I'll go change into my pajamas and we'll go to bed. Or,” she paused for effect, her smile broadening into a pearly grin. “Lose the pants and kiss me again. And plan on not getting much sleep.”

I grinned back at her. “I love a woman that knows exactly what she wants,” I said... then pressed my mouth firmly to hers. We kissed deeply for a short while before I started to pull her t-shirt up.

But Shayera withdrew again. “Uh-uh. Pants first.”

With a sigh, I quickly complied with her demands. “Happy now?”

She playfully ran her fingertips down my cheek in a teasing caress. “Eh, it's a start. Might as well go the rest of the way.”

“It's hard to reach with you sitting on top of me,” I pointed out.

Shy shrugged. “Then I'll help.” She reached down and yanked my shirt over my head and away. “Better?”

I reached up and pulled her mouth to mine. “Did that answer your question?” I asked as we broke the kiss for air.

“I might need reminding in a couple of minutes,” she teased. “Anyway, off with the rest of it.”

“That wasn't the agreement,” I pointed out, grabbing the hem of her t-shirt again and sitting up. “You just said pants at first.”

“Actually, I said the rest of it might as well go at once, too,” she replied slyly.

“Well, there's no rush, is there?” I smirked, starting to lift the bottom of her gray undershirt. “No harm if we even it out first.”

Shayera put her arms around my neck and nuzzled my cheek lightly. “I guess not,” she said softly, slowly trailing kisses down my jawline.

Her silken hair brushed against my cheek as she shifted a little and then nipped lightly at my ear. I gently returned the favor, then slowly nipped at and kissed her neck as best I could. She let out a shuddering moan. “Hey, shouldn't you be taking my clothes off?”

“You're absolutely right.” I started to pull her t-shirt up. She put her arms up to facilitate removal... but I had other ideas. The collar of the now-inverted shirt made it as far as the bridge of her nose when I stopped, and instead just let the garment sit on the upper part of her face and just below her elbows.

“Hey! No blindfolding!” Shy complained. However, her arms were also bound now. I reached around her and unclasped her upper undergarment. A wave of temptation passed over me, but there would be time to indulge soon enough. Besides, Shy's squirming and trying to wriggle the impromptu bonds that held her were starting to be less playful and more determined. Stealing a quick but deep kiss on her mouth, I pulled away her bonds and discarded the shirt, tossing it away to settle somewhere on the floor.

“I thought you gave up the blindfold-stuff years ago,” accused my wife. “And the tying-up bit.”

I smiled and brushed some of her hair away from her eyes. “Maybe I just waited so long so I could surprise you.”

She snorted as she tossed aside her bra. “Yeah, okay. If you don't watch it, maybe I'll surprise you.”

“Now who's threatening whom with a good time?” I grinned, kissing her again. This time, she was much more obliging. She always has been a very good kisser.

“So, I guess we're evened out now,” Shy noted once her tongue was free, panting slightly . “Tell you what... I'll do you, you do me.”

“I assume you mean undressing...?”

“You know, you're damn lucky I love you so much... and you're good-looking enough for me to put up with those lousy one-liners,” she smirked. “So, fair exchange sound good? Or does one of us do all the work?”

“Lie back,” I said, making up my mind pretty quickly.

“All right,” she said tentatively.

Completing my own disrobing was a quick affair, but when it came to her turn, I took my time. “So, I guess your answer was you do all the work?” Shy quipped as I slipped her underpants down her long legs.

I laid down next to her, and we embraced again. “Anything special in mind tonight?” I asked.

Shayera kissed me lightly on the lips. “Yeah... yeah, there is,” she said quietly. “Between crazed children, bombs going off, and everything else... this is the most relaxed I've been in a week. Think we can take our time and enjoy it?”

I chuckled, drawing the comforter over us. “I think so.” Putting my arm back around her, I rolled the two of us so she was lying on top of me. “That's better.”

“Mmm, yeah it is,” she smiled, leaning in for another kiss...

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 Post Posted: Sun, April 18th 2010 12:10am    Post subject:
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I eyed my discarded uniform from the night before as I finished fastening up a fresh, clean one. Introduced five years ago, it was an attempt to visually remove the Empire from Palpatine's era. Not to mention it did provide a little more functionality, actually having pockets for anything from code cylinders to credit chips... or a concealed sidearm. Worked well enough yesterday.

Still, it was more effort to get on and off in exchange for more functionality and a bit more... ostentatious look. At first, I wasn't too keen on trading in my rank plaque for shoulder boards with bars, starbursts, and pips or over replacing it with a ribbon rack, not to mention the throat closure hidden by a large Imperial crest that screamed "punch/shoot/stab here". But, since the Empire hadn't been involved in open warfare since the introduction of the new setup, it was never really put to that test. Although, now Zend might...

I pushed the traitorous Grand Admiral out of my head. The last thing I needed to be thinking about so early in the day was the woman who had now twice betrayed the Remnant. First, she fought the Empire into a standstill with the New Republic; but then, with the combatants seemingly deadlocked in strength and power, she merely packed up and left... with the bulk of the Imperial fleet and a huge portion of the ground forces. That alone cost the Empire many worlds before the peace treaty was made. Her second betrayal was the bombing the Defense Council--

Dammit, I don't want to think about it, I mentally grumbled. The evening before had been the first time I'd really been completely relaxed since the year began... and Ams and I don't have time to de-stress each other quite so thoroughly this morning.

Fortunately, there were no special meetings to attend, no secret conferences or extraordinary circumstances of any kind. Just a nice, normal day at the office: no bombs, no Moff Council, no voting for a new Emperor (something that still struck me as ironically amusing)... and hopefully, I wouldn't see that idiot tech that nearly blew up my shuttle's engines. A nice, normal day with nice normal events. I hoped.

"Almost ready?"

I turned to see Ams leaning in the doorway to the master refresher. The little bit of stubble he'd sported last night and earlier in the morning was completely gone. He'd tried growing out his facial hair... once. Aside from making him look like some kind of Sith wizard, it was uncomfortable as hell... on both sides, as it turned out. Since then, a little splash of depil prevented any undesired exfoliation and kept both his face and our face-time nice and smooth.

"Yeah. Now, do you promise no more Moff Council meetings?" I said.

"Hmm. Actually, if I do become Emperor... maybe I'll make you deal with them," he retorted.

I rolled my eyes. "Can I do that using a blaster or flame projector?"

Ams cupped his chin for a moment, appearing to be deep in thought. "Your Emperor shall consider your request."

"Then your wife will consider yours," I said with equal deadpanned detachment. And in case he needs a little reminder... "You know, the one from last night."

A thin smile formed on his lips. I could tell by the faint quiver at the corners of his mouth he was fighting hard to keep up the act and not break out into a wide grin, or worse yet, laugh. "You do like to play hardball, don't you?"

"Twenty-seven years and you're just working this out?" I could've kept up the little back-and-forth for a while longer. After all, I'd been the top sabacc and pazaak shark in my squadron during my naval career. Many a credit—or article of clothing, if we played Nar Shaddaa rules—was lost because I had a good sabacc face. He'd crack a full-blown smile before I would... and I'd chalk up another round in our little teasing game. However, I was tired of doing it on an empty stomach and I supposed there was a touch of mercy in there, too. "Come on, let's see what Niles whipped up. And try not to discuss anything classified this time."

Ams grunted. He'd truly been angry with Niles, but tried to cover it up in between issuing very real threats. Ams wasn't usually that... sloppy, but given the events of the past week, I supposed anyone's nerves would be frazzled. Hopefully our mutual catharsis from the night before helped soothe the frayed nerves and got him back—at least partway—to his usual self. Hopefully.

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 Post Posted: Sat, May 29th 2010 09:41pm    Post subject:
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I swirled the brandy in its glass, my mind far beyond the rich amber fluid. The results of the morning's round of voting had come in some hours after Shayera and I went out for lunch. Fully half of the candidates had been eliminated... and along with two dozen others, I was still in the running.

I both cursed and was elated by my fortune. Shy was pleased by the results, of course. Now and then, the faintest glimmer of ambition would shine through in her words. But who could blame someone for being excited at the prospect? Even though I dreaded it, I couldn't deny the allure it possessed.

After all, who—if even for a moment—never wanted to see what it had been like? To rule the entire Galaxy from the Imperial throne, to repair the damages caused by Palpatine, Daala, Zend, Mothma, Organa Solo, and many others? To shape things how they saw?

Of course, not everyone's vision was clear. I wasn't entirely sure mine was. Then again, there were some Moffs still in the running that I wouldn't trust with a bucket of bantha droppings (they wouldn't return the bucket), let alone running the Imperial Remnant during a very likely war.

I sighed and sipped at the brandy. Yet, no matter how smooth and refined the liquor was, it lacked its powers of relaxation this night. Tomorrow would bring a second vote; the list was to be whittled down to ten. Then five. And from those five, a new Emperor would be chosen. It was enough to make anyone tense.

A whistle cut through my brooding. "Come back to the planet, Ams."

I looked away from the wall to gaze at my wife. Shayera sat in an overstuffed chair, the table next to her bearing a vase that gained more and more familiarity. It had been the gift from Kris, the one that seemed to spark off tensions on that miserable day.

"There you go again."

I blinked, shaking my head slightly. "Sorry. Just... a lot to think about."

"Want some help?" she asked helpfully.

"Well, if you insist," I said, standing up and moving to the couch. She picked up her wine glass and came over. I put an arm around her, squeezing her shoulder gently. "There. Now we can think together."

"So, what're you thinking about?"

I took another sip of the brandy. Still no help from the cognac, though Shy's closeness was certainly starting to melt away the tension. "Oh, just this emperor business... Kris... pottery."

She laughed and kissed my cheek. "Pottery, eh? That's different."

Gesturing the vase, I succumbed to her infectious laughter. "That blasted thing. It seems like everything went to hell over that."

"Hey," Shy complained, her amusement turning to umbrage. "That was a belated birthday gift."

I grunted. "It bloody shouldn't have been belated. He could've easily gotten leave and been here."

Shayera's body tensed. She took in a breath, then sipped at her wine. She was stalling for time, time to get control of her words. I'd seen the maneuver many times, in many arguments. Her words came out finally, her tone a study in calculated neutrality, her cadence even and measured. "Kris is just going to have to work out his issues, on his own time."

She was trying not to get angry. Failing that, she was trying not to show. My own irritation grew, but at our wayward son rather than at her. "He has no right to take his issues with me out on you."

"We're kind of a package deal."

The irritation grew... mostly because she was right. We argued as much as we agreed... in private. But with the twins—or anyone, for that matter—we tended toward mutual defense and a united front. However, that didn't change the fact that Kris still dealt with his issues wrong. Even a message on that day, wishing his mother well, would've suited to address her without requiring personal confrontation with me... if it would've come to that. But nothing. Just a paltry piece of clay that was over a year late. Even an attempt to compliment on him on the selection seemed to be taken as an insult.

Still, it had come from her son--our son—so it was still special to Shayera. I sighed. It certainly wasn't just a paltry piece of clay, either. But how could any artwork compare to the joy his mere presence would've brought?

"I guess you're right," I finally admitted. "Still..."

"He's got to reach out to us, first. Kendra tried to get us to patch things up—consciously or otherwise, I'm not sure—but that was part of it on New Year's," Shayera noted. "We can't force it. That'll just make things worse."

"I suppose you're right," I echoed, nodding.

She shot me a look. Something dark clouded her eyes. "You... do want to patch things up... right?"

I found myself taken by surprise by the question. "Of course!" I said, a hair too loudly for our proximity. "He's still our son."

"Our son," Shy repeated. "But what about your son?"

Now I paused. It was certainly easier to consider his relation in terms of both of us. Thinking about the relationship between him and I, I could see the broad gulf... the fires on the bridges that spanned it. The pain he'd inflicted, directly and indirectly. My anger and confusion with him, not knowing why he would act in such a way. Yet, amid it all... despite his rebellion and lashing out and viciousness, I could not say the ties were broken. Strained, perhaps. Damaged, definitely. But it was repairable. It was forgivable. Even if it wasn't reciprocated, I still loved my son. "Yes, he's still my son, too."

The Jendob Family First Previous Next Latest

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Emperor Ams Jendob, Ruler of the Imperial Remnant


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----"Moff", CMAC Dreamcrusher, Official Administrative Waldorf and Statler----


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Shayera Jendob
Moff


Joined: 14 Jun 2009
Posts: 513
Location: All along the Watchtower

 Post Posted: Sun, June 13th 2010 02:30am    Post subject:
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I stepped outside a moment. The evening was a little cool, but nothing too bad. I just felt like taking a little walk around the garden. Besides, getting out of the house was needed. Ams was monitoring newsfeeds and comm channels: today was the day that the Moff Council was supposed to pick the new Emperor. Supposedly, a select committee met earlier, but no word was given on when they let out.

Damn politics. I supposed I should've been used to it. I'd resigned myself to dealing with politics about a year before, when Ams was made a Moff. Hell, year? Just a few months ago. Everything seemed so long ago... was it a sign of aging, or was it that the times had gotten more and more chaotic?

Getting back on my original train of thought, politics came with the territory of being married to an Imperial official. Even if Ams had stayed in the Navy, the admiralty was just as political. But... Emperor? I still hadn't fully recovered from him becoming a Moff!

Not to mention what it means to Kris, Kendra... and me... I knew full well the resurrection of the Imperial throne was nothing more than a public relations scheme at its heart. The Moff Council certainly didn't want a ruling dynasty formed. Maybe they'll revoke it after we deal with Zend... assuming we win.

Of course, all of this stress and massive changes to our lives was contingent on Ams being selected, one last time. Then again, he thought he'd had no chance when there were fifty names. Now, he was in the final five before the Moff Council, all without being one of the ass-kissers, power-brokers, or other... scoundrels who generally comprised the Council. Perhaps it was a sign: merit was finally winning over political connections. A rare occurrence in Imperial history, indeed.

I must be getting old. All of this damned brooding... I thought with annoyance, trying to force my attention to examining a tree. I remembered the day it was planted: hot, sunny, that first summer after the crash. Kris and Kendra were there, helping and hindering like seven year-olds usually did.

I looked around the well-tended garden. Niles usually about half of the pruning now, but I found trimming down the various bushes, shrubs, trees, and other flora to be rather soothing. When I had the time.

Walking a bit further into the yard, I spied another seasonal form of relaxation. Our pool was covered for the winter and early spring. But once it got warm, I knew I'd be diving in. I loved the cooling splash, the brief instant where the cold water took away my breath, pushing through the water... I loved swimming as much as flying, sometimes a bit more.

A wistful smile crept across my lips as I thought about the planting the garden with the twins, teaching them to swim and occasionally having to keep Kendra from drowning her brother with excessive dunking. Little things like that helped me pick up the pieces after the crash and most likely kept me sane and sober.

I knelt down, examining some Sartinyan discords Kris had planted just before he left for the Academy. Fitting...

But the sound of a speeder's repulsorlift engine cruising up in front of the house, then idling down cut off my train of thought. Curious, I walked back around to the front of the building, where a uniformed aide was already helping another officer out of the back of the gleaming black vehicle. My expression became one of disgust when I recognized the passenger.

“Oh good, Commander,” Rosset said in an oily tone. “Is your husband home?”

I couldn't even hold back a sneer of loathing. “And why would I inflict you on him?”

The phony smile on Rosset's face faded. “You'd best watch your tone, Commander. You're speaking to a superior officer on an Imperial world.”

“And you're on private property, Moff Rosset. Maybe I should call the authorities and have you removed...”

The nauseating smile returned to the moff's face. “My dear, I come as a representative of the highest authorities. Even if you and your husband do seem to view the Moff Council as a sham organization, I think most civil protection precincts answer to them.” He paused as I ground my teeth. “Now, is your husband available?”

“I'll check,” I growled, almost leaping to the steps up to the door. As I opened the door, I began quite aware of Rosset's uncomfortable proximity. “Do you mind?”

“Stepping in? Thank you for the invitation, my dear,” he smirked.

Murderous thoughts flitted across my mind. Nah... Niles hates cleaning up blood. I walked over to Ams' study, safely out of Rosset's sight. “You have a friend here to see you,” I grunted.

The door opened and Ams poked his head out. “What?”

“Rosset,” I grunted. “Wants to see you. And before you tell me to tell him to shove it, I did. He says he's here from Council.”

Ams narrowed his eyes suspiciously, but stepped out and started to stride toward the door. Rosset was standing in the middle of the living, arms folded behind his back, looking around with a certain obnoxious swagger... as if he owned the place.

“What is it, Moff Rosset?”

The moff wheeled, his expression looking as if he'd been slapped. Sounds like a lovely idea. “Why, Moff Jendob! Surely you don't greet all visitors to your home with such abruptness?”

“Just the uninvited ones,” Ams smiled back. “Now, I'm trying to keep up to date on this business with the Moff Council and my Intelligence briefs.”

“Intelligence briefs?” Rosset asked, his tone indicating genuine confusion.

“Well, assuming the Moff Council is serious about choosing a new Emperor—”

The sickening smile came again, “Oh, they are—”

“Then I trust he or she will need up-to-date intelligence on the Republic, Zend's forces. Or do you disagree?” Ams continued.

Rosset let out a laugh. It made me think of a Hutt's chuckle. “Well, then... you're making the job easier on your replacement. Less to inform you.”

What the hell does that mean? I wondered. Ams voiced it for me, with equal annoyance. “What are you talking about?”

Rosset gave an exaggerated, almost-mocking bow. “What is thy bidding, my liege?”

My eyes went wide. Ams said nothing and his face gave away less. “So...”

“Yes,” the other man chortled. “You have been chosen by the Moff Council to lead the Imperial Remnant against the defector Zend and drive her back into the Unknown Regions.”

Ams tilted his head slightly. “I see. And what has you in such a good mood about that?” he asked pointedly.

The horrific smile widened. “Well, I was the one that sponsored you, my friend. Now, of course, I know you're a man of principle, but I trust you also recognize the principle of gratitude. Now is your chance, Jendob. Your chance to reform the Empire, as you and your allies often speak of, to make it new and whole. All I ask is that, as your humble servant, you permit me to continue to serve this new and improved Empire.”

Ams nodded with a smile. He even clapped Rosset on the shoulder. And yet he doesn't burn... I thought. “I see, my friend. Well, I'll take your wise words under consideration. And thank you for coming by to deliver the sensational news.”

“Anything to serve my new Emperor,” grinned Rosset as he was slowly edged toward the door. “Well, I suppose I must be off.”

Gods, you have no idea how off you are. “Of course,” Ams said, his tone decidedly friendly.

And with that, Rosset left. Ams shut the door, waited a moment, and glanced around conspiratorially before finally muttering, “Frakking jackass.”

“No kidding. Ugh, I think I need a shower just... being near him,” I said.

Ams started to walk back to the study. “So, wait,” I called after him. “That's it?”

He shrugged his shoulders. “More or less. There will be a meeting, the day after tomorrow, to confirm and add some ceremony and pomp to the whole affair.”

I looked at him askance. “Ams... you've just been told that you're the next Emperor. I... you're acting like you were just told the weather.”

Ams chuckled and turned around. “Honestly, it hasn't really sunk in. And when it does, well... what are the first things I get to do? Find a traitor—or dozens of them—in the Imperial ranks, fight a war against a living legend, and actually have to pay attention to the Moff Council.”

“Hmm, that last one's the worst, by far,” I smiled, moving closer and putting my hand on his arm. “Still... I definitely didn't plan on this when we got married.”

“Oh, don't worry love; I'll make sure you get to play with the Moffs too.”

“Aww, you shouldn't,” I said with mock affection. “Really... you shouldn't.”

He laughed again but his tone became more introspective. “Well, I should probably find a moving company.”

“Moving?” I asked, not quite following his train of thought.

He nodded and leaned against the wall. “Somehow, I don't think we'll be living on Ravelin Ridge anymore. Security issues and all that. We don't exactly have room to bunk a battalion of Stormtroopers or a TIE wing.”

My mood sank a little. “What, are they going to shove us into Disra's old palace?”

“Most likely. That's where the Fels were going to go.”

“Oh, great. Inheriting a murdered man's home,” I grunted.

Ams shot me a look of disbelief. “What?” I asked defensively. “If the droid bomb didn't get him, don't you think the palace would've been rigged too?”

He grunted. I went on. “Yeah, I know it's insensitive, but...”

“All right, you have a point. Still, it's unlikely we're going to be staying here.”

I sighed. He was probably right. “A lot of memories here. Lot of stuff, too.” I thought of the garden I'd just been enjoying. Years of tending, care... but transporting a garden—rather, exhuming the ground all the way around our house—wasn't a reasonable option, even if there was more than two days notice. I wondered what else would be left behind...

“Gods, this is a lot to deal with at once,” I remarked.

“Now do you see why I'm not popping the champagne?” Ams replied, matter-of-factly.

“Champagne? What for, sir?”

Niles had appeared, his eyes wide and eager. “And why are we not getting it out?”

I had to chuckle as the butler cut through the tension. “Well, good news and bad news. But I'm sure you heard it already.”

A frown spread across Niles face. “Heard what? Oh, did I miss something again?”

“Do you really miss anything, Niles?” Ams asked pointedly.

“I swear, sir! I don't know what you're talking about,” he complained. “Do you know how maddening that is?”

I looked at Ams. Now I wasn't sure if I could say anything. Fortunately, he spoke up and cleared it up. “Suffice it to say, we'll probably need to move. That's the bad news... I think.”

“Yeah.”

“So what's the good news?” Niles asked incredulously. “And... moving? To where?”

“I can't tell you that, yet,” Ams frowned.

“Yes, but if you're moving... I don't mean to sound self-centered, sir, but,” he paused. “What about me?”

“Oh, don't worry about that,” my husband smiled. “Think of it as a promotion for you.”

“A promotion?” Niles began to grin, but then his gaze turned suspicious. “To what?”

Ams laughed. “Don't worry about it, old man. Besides, you know far too many state secrets to be in someone else's employ. We'll keep you on.”

“Oh, well, in that case,” Niles began, definitely reassured. “Can I get either of you something before you retire?”

Ams shook his head. When the butler's eyes fell on me, I spoke up. “Well... if it's not too much trouble.”

“For you, ma'am, it's never too much trouble. Your usual?”

I shook my head. “I was thinking that minty one. I can't remember what it's called...”

Niles smiled and nodded. “I know what you mean. How stiff would you like it?”

“Just normal. Nightcap, not an instant hangover,” I teased.

He opened his mouth, but seemed to think better of whatever glib reply he was about to let loose. “I'll have it in a moment.”

When Niles left for the kitchen, Ams turned to me. “So, were you serious about taking the shower?”

“Nah. Although, I think I am starting to get a little giddy over the whole 'being married to the emperor' thing,” I chuckled.

Ams laughed softly. “Yeah, Niles can help with tension... when he doesn't cause it.”

“So, are you feeling better about it?”

“No,” Ams said bluntly. “But relieved, I guess.”

I reached up and squeezed his shoulder. “Hey. You'll do a good job... you've got me to keep you from going all crazy Palpatine,” I smirked.

Ams moved closer and wrapped his arms around me. “I knew there was a practical reason for you marrying you, besides silly things like love and attraction.”

I shook my head, then kissed him on the cheek. “Maybe you're too far gone already. Mad with power,” I teased.

He looked down at me, with a wolfish smile. My knees went just a bit rubbery. “Maybe I should show you how gone I am,” he said seductively, then kissed my forehead and laughed. “Or not.”

“Oh, you can if you want,” I blurted out, far too eagerly for my own tastes. I quickly pulled back from him. “Umm... sorry. A little subconscious slip there.”

“And Niles hasn't even gotten you your nightcap,” he teased. “Well, I should at least wrap up the reports I was going over.”

I nodded. “I should make sure all of my stuff is in order... now that I'm going to be th—”

“Ma'am?”

I turned, with a wry look. “Almost, Niles. But not quite... heard you coming.”

He frowned with disappointment. I took my drink. “Oh, it's just not fair,” he whined.

“Thanks for the drink,” I smirked, taking a sip. Minty, chocolatey, and with just the right amount of kick. “Just hold out for a couple days, Niles. We'll tell you everything.”

“But why can't you tell me now?”

“Careful, Niles. You're starting to sound like my son,” Ams intoned. “Only with a better accent.”

I modified my grip on the glass to deliver a gesture to my husband, for his eyes only. His brief look of incredulous amusement told me he definitely saw it. Kris had my Corellian accent rather than Ams' stuffy received pronunciation from Coruscant. And I was glad for it. With just Ams speaking in those refined Coruscanti tones, it was exotic. With Ams and Niles, it was familiar if a tad stiff. Three such speakers, though... and it became an incredible irritant.

“Now that's a low blow, sir,” the butler sulked. “If that'll be all...”

We both nodded. “Then I shall retire.”

“All right. And thanks, Niles,” I called after him.

“Of course, ma'am.” I was sure I could count on one hand the number of times he used my given name. Then he wandered off to his room. We'd offered him his own place in the house from when he started, but he didn't accept until about ten years ago. And, if Ams hadn't just been trying to spare his feelings, he'd be coming with us to our new home...

Well, despite his nosiness and occasional whining, he has always been very good to us. Although, making the poor guy dust all of Disra's palace... that would be much too harsh. Maybe it'll be handy if he breaks into any more state secrets.

“Now what are you smiling about?”

“Huh? Oh... just ways to curb Niles' 'curiosity.'”

Ams rolled his eyes. “Good luck with that. Anyway, before we were interrupted by your need for a nightcap and making obscene gestures...”

“I thought you liked it when I talked dirty to you,” I snickered.

He smirked back. “Talk, yes. I love that adorable, Corellian bumpkin accent of yours.”

“I'm going to kick your ass,” I retorted. “And not in the fun way!”

“Oh, keep it down!” a third voice called from the corridor. “Both now and later!” More indistinct muttering followed, but it was silenced by the sound of a door sliding shut. But I was sure I heard something about “how it always goes.” Maybe I need to talk to our hardworking butler about appropriate subjects.

By then, Ams had already vanished into his study. I walked to the kitchen, sipping at my cocktail. In truth, all of my reports and maintenance checks had already been filed. But I knew Ams would feel bad if he knew I was stuck twiddling my thumbs or contemplating a glass now half-full of opaque, pale-green liquid while he finished his soon-to-expire duties.

Having had enough of contemplating, I threw back the rest of the contents of the glass and washed it clean in the sink. Still tasting the minty sweetness of the beverage, I made my way up to the bedroom. I almost started to put on my pajamas, then that idea of a shower combined with some of the not-very-subtle flirting with Ams. Nah... he's probably not in the mood to mess around.

So, it was decided. A quick shower before bed to get any sap from the trees or Rosset stench off, then just cuddle up with my Emperor-elect husband. A nice, quiet way to wind down the evening. My mind made up, I shucked off my clothes and walked to the refresher. As I dropped my clothes in the hamper, I thought how... normal everything seemed. Calm before the storm, I mused cynically.

I turned on the water and after a moment, stepped into the shower. The warm spray was inviting and comforting. My mind quickly drained of concerns and thoughts. I was in the moment, going second by second.

“You all right in there?”

I nearly screamed in shock. Instead, I was able to hold back the surprise and turn it into annoyance. “Can you knock, Ams?”

“Sorry,” my interloping husband replied, clearly put off by the curt reception. “I've been listening to the water run for the last fifteen minutes, but I didn't hear anything else. Just making sure you didn't slip and crack your skull open.”

I sighed. “I'm fine... thanks for the concern. But announce yourself next time, okay?”

“Sorry about that. Anyway, how much longer do you plan on being in there?”

I shrugged, then realized he couldn't see it through the nearly opaque doors. “I don't know. Maybe about ten minutes?”

I could see him standing just outside the door, just a vague, blurry outline through the frosted glass. “Well, don't take too long...” There was a definite lilt in his tone.

I opened the shower door and poked my head out. I wanted to see the look on his face before I jumped to any conclusions. “What, do you have a hot date?”

Ams grinned. I think I can start jumping... “Well, that's up to my hot date.”

I smirked. “Give me fifteen minutes... your Highness.”

He winced. “Please, let me enjoy my last two days as a normal human being.”

I laughed and closed the door to the shower alcove. I grabbed a bottle of shampoo and quickly worked it into my hair. Now I was on a schedule...



“That was seventeen minutes,” Ams pointed out as I stepped out of the steam-filled refresher.

I gave him a look as I walked over the bed. “Hey, I don't time you on lots of things, my liege.”

He scoffed. “A bit too archaic, sweetheart. And an interesting choice of apparel.”

“Huh?”

“Your robe,” he said. “It brings out your eyes nicely.”

I blinked. “Oh. Thanks,” I replied unsteadily.

He reached out and touched my cheek. “Are you all right, love?”

I nodded. “Yeah. Sorry... it's all sinking in again.”

He put his arms around me... and it didn't feel quite as safe as usual. What was it, all of a sudden? “It's going to be all right,”Ams whispered softly. “I'm here for you.”

I looked up at him, at his intense and earnest expression. The cloud over me dissolved. I slipped my arms around his neck and kissed him lightly on the lips. He returned it, softly and lovingly. I reciprocated, kissing him once more, matching his gentleness and passion. Then he came back again, nipping at my lower lip for a instant. Back and forth we went, slowly escalating until we were lying on our sides, arms and legs intertwined tightly, mouths pressed together. Finally, I pulled back for air. Ams was panting softly; he apparently pushed himself as far as I did. “You know, I've never been with an emperor before,” I teased.

“Hmm. I've never made love to an empress, for that matter,” he retorted.

I gave him a quick look over. “You couldn't have changed into something simpler?”

“Like what?”

“Nothing would be a good start,” I grinned, kissing him on the lips again. He started to pull at his shirt, but I pushed his hands away. “Nah, I'll take care of it. More fun for both of us.”

He shook his head. “What am I going to do with you?”

I knew how he meant it... but I gave him a few, shorter-term ideas. “So, how does that sound?” I asked innocently as he blushed at my candor.

Ams smirked. “It sounds like I have a very, very interesting wife. But I knew that already.”

I quickly unfastened his shirt and pulled it off of him. He reached up to pull off my robe, but I stopped him. “Uh-uh. You first.”

“Well, aren't you being aggressive tonight.”

I shook my head, quickly working through the rest of his garments. “No, not aggressive.”

He sat up as I threw the last article of his clothing off the bed. “So, now is it your turn?”

I turned, with my back toward him. “Yep.”

“Then shouldn't you turn around?”

I looked back over my shoulder. “Nope. I'm not going to give it all away at once. That wouldn't be fitting for the wife of an emperor.”

He shook his head again and chuckled. “You're maddening... and I think that just makes me love you more.”

Then he began to tug at the silken belt that held the robe together, reaching around me to untie the knot that upheld the robe's closure and my modesty. I didn't think I'd need either for very long. The knot quickly came undone, and the robe opened in front. Ams asked quietly, “Did that get it?”

I thought about a few ways to show him, but I decided to be nice. Just this once. “Yeah. Guess I'm at your mercy, now,” I joked, then remembered something. “Hang on a second, actually.”

I squirmed around until I freed my arms from the sleeves. “Okay, now I'm at your mercy.”

Ams gently tugged at the top of the robe, and it fell down below my shoulders. I heard him move closer, felt his warm breath on my neck. I started to look back. “No, no... relax,” he breathed before gently kissing the side of my neck. “Trust me.”

I smiled to myself. Every time I'd heard those words from him, under these circumstances, I was never disappointed. Never. So, I relaxed and enjoyed the rain of kisses he showered on my neck, then my left shoulder. The occasional, random nibble kept me on my toes... so to speak. I sighed happily, displaying my content. I figured he'd go to the other side, work his way up my shoulder and neck...

Then I felt him nip at my left shoulder blade, then a series of light, tantalizing kisses. I chuckled. “Nibbling on my wings, huh?”

Another nibble, a few centimeters to the right, came first, then a muffled “uh-huh” confirmed it. “You have such nice wings. And it's been too long since I played with them.”

The "wings" were a tattoo I'd gotten when I was very much younger and very much intoxicated. I'd made my first kill as a TIE pilot, along with a few other rookies in my squadron. At our first port, we celebrated with copious amounts of alcohol. Through events I didn't fully recall, we wound up deciding to get a little ink. We decided to make it the then-unofficial symbol for Imperial fighter pilots: an Imperial crest between two stylized, angular wings. Fortunately, I'd retained enough of my wits to get it done on my back, just off the shoulder blade; the other female pilot in the squadron decided to get it elsewhere. The two male pilots with us got them on the arm. One had already made ace, he added “Death From Above” underneath.

He was killed on the next mission: an A-Wing landed a solid cannon hit on his cockpit; one beam struck his shoulder, severing the arm. The other hit him center of mass, reducing him to ash. He was only identified after the wrecked Interceptor was recovered by his distinctive tattoo.

But the history behind the inked insignia—and sad links that could be drawn from there—was far from my mind. Ams had one hand at my belly, gently tickling my stomach with his fingertips. The other was at my chest, squeezing just hard enough for full sensation without any pain. His lips raced up and down my neck and up my jaw, from the back. A thrill ran up my spine with each caress, each firm fondling, each kiss. After a short time, I couldn't take it anymore. I leaned back, pushing into Ams and breaking his grip. Then I sat back up and yanked away the rest of the robe before turning around, getting close, and nuzzling Ams' neck. “Okay... no more.”

“No more?” he asked. “What do you mean?”

I draped an arm across his chest. “No more nibbling the wings, no more playing around... let's get serious.”

He stroked my hair and held my closer with his free arm. “Whatever Her Highness commands,” he smirked.

...Wow. That really is annoying. “I won't say it if you won't.”

“Deal.”

“Good,” I replied as I grabbed the blanket and pulled it over us. “Now, where were we?”

“Getting serious,” Ams laughed softly.

I rolled on top of him and kissed him lightly on the lips. “Right. Let's do that...”

Loving Rulers First Previous Next Latest
The Search for a Successor First Previous Next Latest

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Empress Shayera Jendob



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