"Nana, are you sure you'll be okay? You've got
*three* babies to watch tonight." Duchess Zara Rodney
was playing the role of an overprotective mother. She
could see her nephew asleep in his bassinet, but for how
long? The twins had yet to fall asleep. Night had
already fallen over Delaya...and what a gorgeous evening
it was. The stars lit up the dark, clean sky. There were
so many guests on the list for the royal ball, for it
was the first in...well...a year. Speeders were clogging
up the streets leading towards the castle. Zara worried
that Governor Arundel's presence would cause problems.
She had purposely not told Sierra and Claudius about
what she had seen in the perverse man's office. Marcus
was the only other person who knew about all of that.
The Duchess was dressed to the nines. She had gone
through an intense three-hour fitting in order to make
sure her deep red dress was perfect. As irritating as it
had been, and as worried as she was about a fight
breaking out, Zara was still *happy*.
Since the first moment she had woken up, she felt
more in love with Marcus than ever before. She kept
replaying that night of destiny in her head. So much had
transpired...all because of the chrono which she had
asked the designer to incorporate into her dress for the
evening. She picked up Sia, kissing her. "I love you, my
baby girl." She hugged her daughter softly. She picked
up Darrus next, repeating the same affection. "I love
you, my little prince. Mommy and daddy have a lot to
"Oh yes, Duchess Zara. Duke Germanicus and Duchess
Raeni kept me busy with many children. Three will allow
me to work on my juggling," the nanny droid replied, in
her sassy tone of voice. Perhaps she could stand to have
her memory erased. In one hand she held Darrus, in the
other she held Sia, while in the other she held Bruce.
"Enjoy your ball. I will see to the young ones," she
said, as she began the process that would hopefully see
them fall asleep. The droid was happy in her work, once
again returned to the business of caring for the
children of the House of Rodney.
Duke Marcus Rodney was dressing himself in the ornate
robes of state that he had witnessed his father wear all
the while he was growing him. The only difference was
that the robes fit him a bit better than his father who
grew in size as he grew in years. "I think I look
ridiculous," he said to Zara, as he stopped the nanny
droid to give a brief goodbye to both of his children
and his nephew. "Everyone really came," he said to her,
as he came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her
until they came to a stop on her stomach. His head
lowered and he placed a kiss on the back of her neck
after brushing aside some of her silver hair. "I love
you," he told her, as he enjoyed the only moment of
privacy they would have for the remains of the day.
Zara wondered if the twins had come from Marcus'
family. She *did* say his ancestors had many children.
She wanted to sit down with the droid one day and get
the whole story on Duke Germanicus and Duchess Raeni.
"Thank you, Nana." She said, finally accepting that the
nanny droid, which was programmed for this exact reason,
had everything under control. Zara turned to look at her
husband. "You *never* look ridiculous. I think you look
sexy." She smiled at him. Her body leaned backwards into
his softly. Her hands met with his on top of her
stomach. "I'm glad they did. When we sent out the
invites, I wasn't sure who would actually show up. I
already saw Mug and Iyah. If you think you look silly in
formal wear, wait 'til you see him!" She squeezed his
hands. Her happiness quadrupled during their last moment
of peace. "I love you too." Zara swiveled around in his
arms until she was facing him. Without a word, she
kissed him. A year. A whole year had gone by. In so many
ways, it felt like the quickest in her life. It was the
year where she made the best choices; robbing him,
letting him into her life, the twins, and so on. As it
was, Zara didn't even regret their scandal. "I guess we
should go make an appearance. You owe me some dancing!"
She took his hand and whisked him off.
"Nuh uh uh!" Marcus said, as he raised his index
finger to prevent his wife from succeeding in whisking
him off. "Aren't you forgetting something?" he asked, as
he instead moved her towards a large, ornately carved
wooden box that had been brought to their room earlier
that day. As he flipped it open the crowns of the Duke
and Duchess of Delaya were revealed to them. "Remember
these?" he said, as he lifted the tiara out of the box
and held it over her head. Then with a wink, and a bit
of an impish grin, he let it fall until it came to a
rest upon her silver locks. His attention then went
towards the crown, which took both of his hands to lift.
While he made a fake groan to give the impression that
it was even heavier, he managed to get it upon his head.
With one hand he took hers, and with the other he
grasped his scepter, and feeling particularly regal
finally permitted her to whisk him off.
"Forgetting something? Marcus, it took me *three*
hours to get dressed today. I'm not forgetting
anything!" She claimed, but as he turned her towards the
wooden box from hell, Zara realized that she wasn't
ready. She looked down at the crowns. "Aww. You're a
cruel husband." She complained. The tiara met with her
head. Like so many other things belonging to the other
Duchesses in the family, it didn't fit quite right. It
was a reminder that Zara didn't fit the mold of those
that had come before her. "You like torturing me." She
said, crossing her arms over her chest and pouting. At
least he head to suffer with her. She assumed his crown
was heavier than her tiara, simply because there was
more of it. She snickered. "You look so fancy." Finally,
they were ready. Her fingers slid in between his. She
glanced to Nana once. Sia and Darrus looked like they
were getting sleepy. It was adorable!
"Callista, you've gotta stop bouncing." Sierra Rodney
laughed. The small adopted child of Mug and Iyah was
sitting...or lack thereof, at the vanity in Sierra and
Claudius' room. The little girl was already dressed in
the very same pink dress she had worn to her parents
wedding. Her mop of brown hair had become tangled after
Callista had been romping the castle with Melickielickie
and Ewwiekewwwieikkie. Her Rebel mother had come
knocking earlier, begging for some help. Sierra's
fingers worked through the little girl's hair as she
braided it into a clean, tight braid that *hopefully*
would hold the whole night. Sierra had already finished
dressing in a simplistic, backless blue dress.
"Mama says there might be crowns!" Callista reported,
kicking her legs back and forth so rapidly that her
shoes fell of. "And...and...and...Mama says we're gonna
get to go to Auntie Mae's tomorrow before we go home."
She smiled wide at her reflection in the big mirror of
the vanity. Auntie, thanks for fixing my hair. Mama
tried to brush it and she broke the brush!" Callista
explained. She giggled about it now, but her aunt had
been the one in charge of removing the broken brush.
Grand Moff Claudius Rodney had chosen to attend the
ball dressed in his Imperial uniform, if only to send a
message to that bastard Governor, Papius Arundel. At
least Callista was excited ... he was nervous. All it
took was one thranta-eyed Imperial to spot his daughter,
his half-brother, or his sister-in-law and what was
intended to be a lovely ball could turn into a shootout.
His eyes caught a glimpse of the large travel grooming
kit that was necessary when traveling with two Squibs.
He saw so many brushes, which he did not even make an
attempt at counting. "There might be crowns," he told
Callista, as he fumbled about, unsure of how he could
best help. Everywhere he stood he felt like he was in
the way. There was so much estrogen in their castle
spire that he worried he might develop breasts.
"There will be at least one crown." Sierra said,
placing Callista's tiara upon her bed of hair. "Alright
sweetheart, you're good to go." She patted Callista's
back. The little girl jumped up and gave both her auntie
and uncle a hug before leaving to rejoin with her Rebel
parents. There was a lot at stake here. Sierra had words
with Iyah earlier. Delaya was a place where sides didn't
matter. Tonight wasn't about war; it was about being
there for Marcus and Zara and reuniting as a family for
the first time in so long. Sierra had seriously
considered concealing a small pistol on her persons in
case anything went down. It was her family's safety that
meant most to her. With a sigh, she turned towards
Claudius. "I think I'll need you to drink for two
tonight." She joked, stepping near to him. Her fingers
brushed over his chest. "Oh! You're missing something."
She turned away from him, stepping back to her vanity.
It wasn't only Governor Arundel that Sierra worried
about making an appearance. With how publicized the ball
was, *any* of their many enemies were welcomed to show
up. She opened up the small top drawer and picked out a
small, slim box. She neared her husband once more. "This
arrived this morning, so let's hope it's right." She
told him mysteriously. She opened the box so he couldn't
see what was in it until she plucked it from the box;
his Grand Moff rank insignia. This one was brand new,
for there was no way Sierra could bargain back for the
one that had given them Melickielickie. She threw the
box aside and brought the rank insignia to his chest
where she pinned it on. "Ah. There we are. Perfect." She
flashed him a dimple-filled smile.
Claudius was not complete without his rank insignia
and his wife. When she had it applied to his uniform he
smiled down at her, still looking at her differently now
that they knew she was pregnant. "No drinks for me. I
want to remember this," he said to her, as he looked at
himself in the mirror. "Are you ready for this?" he
asked her, but maybe he was asking himself as well. "Do
you think the girls will behave?" he asked her,
uncertain of what will happen once he got
Ewwiekewwieikkie and Melickielickie into the grand
Ewwiekewwieikkie was glad to be back in the castle.
There were shiny baubles *everywhere*. "I used to live
here," she told Melickielickie proudly, as she took a
bite of cake. Unfortunately, she had found the room
where the dessert being served this evening was being
stored. "There's so much," she said, as her yellow eyes
widened at the entire row of cakes, pastries, cookies,
and parfaits that had been lined up along the wall.
However, she was worried that there actually might not
be enough. She stumbled forward, reaching over to grab
one of the Corellia fingers. "Oooh," she said, as she
attempted to eat three at once. If someone did not
discover them soon there would be no dessert left for
"No, but I'm not certain if I'll *ever* be ready for
this. We'll enjoy ourselves until it's boring." And then
they'd play hooky. Sierra took his arm. "I hope so. At
the very least, they'll be wild until they exhaust
themselves and sleep *very* well." They began heading
towards the grand ballroom to join with everyone else.
Sierra smiled. The single best thing about the ball was
spending it with Claudius.
Licking frosting off of her paw, Melickielickie had
found herself in heaven. There were more sweets in this
single room than anything she had ever seen. "You live
here? Is so big!" She said. Melickielickie had been
saying that all day. As she laid in bed 'is so big!', as
she walked in the corridors, 'is so big!'. "Yummyyy!"
Her dress was already covered with desserts. Sierra had
went to great lengths to dress everyone, and now they
were both a mess. Melickielickie moved towards her
sister, clinging to her leg. "Me love you, sissy!" Even
her blood siblings would have never shared such find.
In the grand ballroom, Iyah Zoran had picked up her
daughter to bring her to Mug's height so they could
dance together. Callista was giggling. "Weee! Spin me
and mama, daddy!" For Callista, who was oblivious to the
tense relations in the family, this ball was all about
fun. For a Rebel Commander, Iyah had other things to be
worried about. She felt out of place, but they had owed
Marcus and Zara one for helping out with the wedding.
This was the least they could do to repay their debts.
Iyah felt awkward. She was so used to wearing her
uniform that a dress felt unnatural. It felt even more
unnatural to carry no weapons, for her skin tight red
dress offered no place for concealed weapons. She wasn't
nearly as glamorous as some of the other guests at the
ball. She had her black hair in a pony tail. The only
person she cared about finding her attractive was her
Mug Zoran had slipped away, as he had a conflict of
emotions surrounding this trip to Delaya. There was a
brief moment when *he* was slotted to become Duke, but
the galaxy had other plans for him. He was standing in a
quiet corridor of the castle, standing in front of an
alcove where a bust of the late Duke, Julius, his father
had been placed. He reached his hand up to touch the
bronze features of the sculpture while his other hand
touched his own face. He was searching for similarities
and some physical connection to the father he never
knew. He wanted to take Callista back to their home on
New Alderaan, but he knew how much she wanted to be at
the ball. It was, after all, her first formal event. By
rights a part of this *was* hers and he would not allow
his unresolved conflict with his father to take it from
The smell of sweet smoke came long before Major
Passik did. The young woman did *not* want to be here.
Commander Xergo...Zoran, whatever she was now, had
brought up the future of Delaya with her. The planet was
under Imperial control, and since she had helped in
rescuing her, she wanted Elayne to be part of the
discussion with the Duke and Duchess that came after the
ball. It was time to kick the Imperials off of the
planet. She had been instructed specifically *not* to
wear her Rebel uniform. She was dressed in something
nearly identical to Morticia Addam's quintessential
black gown. It looked like she was attending a funeral
instead of a celebratory ball. No matter how many times
she'd been asked to put out her cigarras, she
continued to smoke. She was made anxious in this
situation. Of course, she had, once again, asked the
good Commander Hobbes to accompany her, but she had
gotten lost on the way to the ballroom. She ended up
spotting Mug and the statue of the previous Duke. The
woman frowned. "Mug, you have a wife. Stop feeling up
that damn statue." She groaned. She looked at the bust
of the man. "You may be related by blood, but that
doesn't mean you're like him. Get over yourself and go
dance with your woman. The war call comes early in the
morning. Unplug your brain for tonight. That's what I'm
*trying* to do." She said, carelessly flicking her
cigarra on the ground. She stomped it underneath her
boot, which she still wore under her dress. "And take me
to the ballroom. I can't find Dillon in this huge
castle. Aren't you glad you don't live here? You'd lose
your daughter and never find her again."
Mug turned his attention towards the obnoxious,
loudmouthed Major Passik, as she approached him while he
was reflecting on his late, estranged father. "Oh. It's
you," he said, not sounding too terribly excited, but
she was the one who had succeeded in organizing the
rescue of his wife. "I don't even know what he was
really like, so I'm not sure if you've just insulted me
... or paid me a compliment," he said to her, as he
released his grip on the statue and refocused his
attention solely on the pilot. As she stubbed her
cigarra out on the floor he felt somewhat offended,
even if he was only a Rodney bastard. He took her by the
arm, leading her towards the ballroom where he hoped he
could pass her off on Commander Hobbes. "I don't know. I
enjoyed my time here ... with Iyah and Callista. She had
a tea party in one of these halls," he explained, as he
began to look back on things more fondly than he had
thought at the time.
Commnder Dillon Hobbes did not know how he allowed
Elayne to talk him into this one. He had nothing proper
to wear, and would soon be standing feet away from an
Imperial Grand Moff and countless other Imperial
officials. Even if there were not a war on he would have
felt out of place in the castle, dressed like this,
among lords and ladies. Elayne owned him, but how much
he had not yet decided. As the guests began to fall in
he could not help but take note of the Stormtroopers who
were providing security. As he looked around he could
not help but think about the prospect of launching an
attack and taking out both the Imperial Grand Moff he
was fighting, *and* the Imperial Governor who was
oppressing this planet.
"Aren't you being a little pessimistic ray of
sunshine today?" Elayne commented. Regardless of their
conversation, she was now being lead to where she wanted
to be. "If nothing else, your father caused major
pollution on the planet. Did you?" She asked him. She
listened to him talk about his family. The idea of
Callista's little tea parties made her smile. "That
sounds ... cute." Elayne said awkwardly. No sooner had
they arrived in the ballroom did she spot Dillon.
"Thanks for the help, Mug." She patted the man on the
back. "Remember, you can't help who your parents are."
With that, she released him and headed towards Dillon.
She saw people that made her pause and internally panic:
an Imperial Grand Moff *and* an Imperial Governor. The
blood drained from the pilot's face. Each time she
blinked, she was brought back to her torture. It felt
like a hand was constricting on her windpipe. Her heart
was bursting out of her chest. She needed to get out.
She needed to get far. She had spotted Dillon. She
didn't know if he'd seen her, or if he could see her
drowning in a PTSD episode. The moment overcame her, for
the Governor of Delaya looked far too much like the ISB
agent primarily in charge of her pain. Anxiously, Elayne
turned and made her departure from the ballroom. She
disappeared behind the first door in a corridor where
she found two Squibs with full stomachs and a room that
looked like a hurricane had gone through it. She planted
herself against the wall and closed her eyes tight.
In the room where Papius Arundel had once held Jelena
Rodney, Ash Monoceros awaited her lover. The string of
undercover missions on Chandrila meant that there was a
radio silence from her. There was no way to contact him
when she had people like Dagon Tong breathing down her
neck. She was perched on the bed waiting for him to
arrive. She had sent a cryptic message that only he
would understand should it be intercepted. There were
Rebels here to worry about seeing them, yet it had been
so long that Ash was willing to risk it. She came with
the gift of information and to seek forgiveness for
their lack of communication. Ash was growing impatient.
She couldn't very well join the party and allow him to
approach her. While Kat was not there, Iyah Xergo was
still of major concern.
Dillon smiled briefly smiled when he saw Elayne enter
the ballroom, but when she made a beeline for the exit
his heart ached for her. He had to admit he was glad to
have a reason to leave the ballroom, and made his way
through the sea of Delayans and Imperials towards the
direction that Elayne had fled. He could not see which
way she had went, but he was able to follow her scent.
Moving down the corridor he opened the door, but instead
of seeing Elayne he saw two Squibs in a food coma and an
array of desserts that had been ransacked. It looked
like the Rebels had attacked the room there was so much
disarray. As he turned, he saw Elayne, slumped against
the wall. He moved towards her, before crouching down.
"Upset that the desserts got ruined?" he asked her, as
he brought his hand to her shoulder to reassure her.
Governor Papius Arundel was standing in the ballroom
flanked by an entire squad of Imperial Stormtroopers. He
remained just long enough to make everyone
uncomfortable, which was his main purpose in being
there, and then excused himself to go and check on
Ashori Monoceros. It had been so long since he had seen
her that he worried he was losing his grip on her. The
room where he had once held Lady Jelena Rodney captive
was a fitting scene for their rendezvous. He did not
knock at the door, nor did he announce himself, but
instead he simply opened the door and barged in. Behind
him he quickly closed the door and then locked it. "I've
missed you," he declared, as he strode towards her in a
rage. He reached for her, grabbing her chin with his
hand, and squeezing her face in his grasp.
Elayne's eyes shot open when someone came through the
door close by. All of her defenses went into action as
her hands balled into fists...then released upon seeing
Dillon. The Major let out a long sigh. It wasn't the
Grand Moff, nor was it the Governor. She quietly nodded
her head. "Somethin' like that..." Her eyes diverted
down to the *very* full Squibs. "Let's... Let's take a
walk. I don't want to be blamed for this mess." Elayne
was feeling tired. Revisiting the past was exhausting.
She had to use Dillon's support to get moving again. The
ball had been a bad idea.
"I've missed you too," Ash replied as she saw Papius
for the first time in far too long. She didn't begin to
explain herself. He had to understand that she had a
Rebel cover to hold down and that he came second to it.
The second her cover was blown was the very same moment
he lost his informative. She rose to her feet, but
stopped in her tracks when he reached her and took hold
of her face roughly. "I've been stuck on Chandrila." She
told him with a tone of annoyance in her voice. "It was
impossible to contact you, given the circumstances. I
assure you that my cell did not make Rodney look good."
She reached up, running her hand over his face. "I have
some news you might like to hear."
Ewwiekewwieikkie was laying on her back, rubbing her
oh so full stomach. Her eyes opened and she spotted new
people in the room, and while she did not know them, she
noticed one of them looked very sad. "Melickielickie,
wake up!" she said, as she shoved her elbow into the
younger Squib. "She sad," she declared, as she reached
up to get a piece of cake. With cake in her paw she
began running towards Elayne and Dillon. "Are you ok?
Here cake. You feel better," she said, before shoving
the piece of cake in Elayne's face. "I'm helping," she
said, as she looked up to Dillon with a big smile.
"Chandrila. You did well to help the Rebels there. It
was a terrible blow to that imbecile Rodney," Papius
said, slowly releasing his grasp upon her to allow her
to speak more easily. "There were whispers that Lord
Vader was going to put an end to him, but his presence
here seems that those were just wishful rumors," he
said, as he bitterly shook his head in frustration of it
all. "News? What news?" he asked, as he allowed her to
stroke his face. It soothed him, causing him to briefly
relax and calm down from his anxious day of feuding with
the House of Rodney. "C'mon, girl. What do you have for
me?" he asked, as he moved towards the nightstand and
began to go through the personal possessions of Jelena
like the creep that he was.
Melickielickie groaned. "Huuuhh?" She was soooo full.
She had never eaten so much in her life. The little
Squib was ready to enter a sugar coma when her sister
pointed out that they were no longer alone. Her yellow
eyes opened wide, spotting a woman with delicious
looking blue hair and a guy. "Ohno! She sad!?"
Melickielickie gathered the half-eaten lollipop from the
ground. It was covered in blue fur and all other sorts
of nastiness. She darted towards Elayne and Dillon,
offering the woman the lollipop. "No be sad! We here
now!" She pushed the lollipop closer to Elayne. "We make
it better. You sad too?" She asked Dillon.
Major Passik was touched by the sweetness of the
Squibs. The elder of the two had literally shoved a
piece of cake in her mouth, giving her no chance to
oppose being force fed. She began to chew on it. "Ooh.
It's very good." She could see that they were trying to
make her feel better...and...honestly, it was working.
She brought a hand up to her face to wipe frosting away
from her nose and cheeks. She looked at Dillon, suddenly
understand exactly why he strived to be a father. Elayne
began to laugh. "Thank you both. I'm feeling better."
She leaned over, giving Ewwiekewwieikkie a hug.
The red haired woman laughed. "If Lord Vader didn't
put an end to him, then he probably scared the piss out
of the guy. Don't you worry, Governor. My cell is going
to continue working within his sector. It'll only be a
matter of time before his failures catch up with him.
Rodney will die." Ash reassured him. The affection
brought to the surface all the longing feelings she had
for him. The days had been growing so long on Chandrila.
She was glad the opportunity to see him had finally come
along. "Jelena Rodney is here. That idiot Xergo brought
her with us so she could see her father. Isn't that
sweet? I have no idea where she is, Papius. All I know
is that she's here, right under your nose."
Dillon had heard tales about Squibs, so when he saw
them rushing over he attempted to evade them as if they
were an oncoming TIE. But, unfortunately, the girls were
more adept than Imperial pilots and before too long
Elayne's face was covered in cake. He wanted to laugh,
but knowing that she was suffering from the Imperial
presence in the ballroom he tried not to. Unfortunately,
he was not strong enough and began to laugh hysterically
at the cute Squibs. "No. I'm not sad. I'm very happy,"
he said, as he smiled down at Elayne and the girls. "Are
you happy now, Elayne?" he asked her, as he brought one
finger to her face to get some of the cake. He then
inserted his finger in his mouth and tasted it. "It's
good!" he said, as a bright smile came over his face.
"That's good news. Now I just need to do something
about the Rodneys here..." Papius informed her, when
suddenly she began to utter the news that would turn the
idyllic Rodney family ball into a chance for greatness.
"Jelena Rodney is here ... now?!" he asked, as his face
flushed red with anger, his eyes went wide, and the
veins started to bulge in his temples. He moved swiftly
back from the nightstand until he was directly in front
of Ashori, nearly foaming at the mouth. His nostrils
were flaring like he was a nerf in heat. This was
finally his chance. "I *will* find her," he vowed, as he
placed his hand back upon her shoulder, squeezing upon
it tighter than he realized. "I will connect her to
Claudius *and* Marcus Rodney and *I* will be the one to
break them ... not Vader," he said, as he began to drool
slightly from the corner of his mouth, unconsciously
tightening his grip upon her.
Ewwiekewwieikkie was happy to receive a hug from
Elayne. She liked hugs. "Hmm. Hmm!" she said, as she
looked towards Melickielickie. "Pounce party?" she
asked, Melickielickie, before her head turned back
towards Elayne. "Pounce party!" she decided, and then in
an instant a blur of blue fur lunged forward, tackling
her down to the ground, as she began to giggle and
squeal excitedly. All of the sugar she had consumed had
excited her tremendously.
"Pounce party! Eeeee!" Melickielickie jumped on top
of Elayne as soon as she was down. "Pounce party, pounce
party!" In Melickielickie's mind, this was the second of
two ways to cheer a person up. The first, of course, was
cake. She had made a new friend; the lady with candy
hair! Swept up in a moment of overexcitement,
Melickielickie's tongue swept over Elayne's cheek.
On the ground, Elayne found herself trapped in a
'pounce party'. Instead of it making her panic, she
began to laugh hard. "Yes, yes, I'm happy now." She
reported to Dillon. Maybe they didn't need to return to
the ballroom. They could hide out with the Squibs inside
of the dessert room until they were discovered. All she
could do was hope that their Rebel comrades would stay
safe. It wasn't acceptable to dine with the enemy...and
they were doing a lot more than just that. Elayne would
be shocked when she learned that the Squibs were the
Grand Moff's adoptive children. For now, she felt light
hearted and set free.
It seemed Ash had successfully dealt some good news.
The way Papius reacted brought a smirk to her face.
Everything was aligning for him. Capturing Jelena Rodney
and exposing the other Rodneys would be enough for him
to receive a promotion. Ash wiped the drool from the
corner of his mouth. Her hands both settled on his. "You
need to go *now*. You need to find her. I'll look too."
She guided him towards the door, playfully pushing him
out. "Find Jelena so we can celebrate together." Ash
needed to remain inside of the room until a safe amount
of time had gone by. No one could know about them.
Ironically, just outside of the corridor where Papius
and Ash were parting, Sierra Rodney was headed upstairs
to check on the nanny bot and her son. The times where
she and Bruce had been separated were limited. Even
though Sierra knew the boy needed his sleep and couldn't
be with her during the ball, she needed that extra
reassurance. What she did not know was that she had
stepped within the line of vision of the Governor that
she hated so much, and proceeded to led him straight to
where the nanny droid was caring for her son. To her
surprise, Bruce was awake. She gladly took over for the
droid shortly, cradling Bruce in her arms as she stepped
out onto the balcony connected to the makeshift nursery
room. "You're not missing much out there, Bruce."
"Go mingle. See what you can learn," Papius
instructed Ash, before turning to leave Jelena Rodney's
old room. He would have the Stormtroopers began an
extensive, but subtle search of the castle for the girl.
He knew that if Jelena discovered they were searching
for her she would likely escape his grasp, which meant
his men would need to employ a softer touch so as not to
arouse her. But, as he entered the corridor he caught a
scent of the perfume that he knew Sierra Rodney to
prefer. As he turned he caught the sight of a beautiful
body in a backless dress. As his eyes moved upwards he
caught the familiar blonde curls of the woman. Suddenly
Jelena Rodney could wait. He moved behind her from a
distance, eventually following her up the stairs where
he found Sierra, the nanny droid, and the three babies.
"A touching moment with mother and son," he said, as he
moved forward, placing a hand on the balcony, and
leaning over to look down. "If someone dropped a credit
chit off here, and it struck someone, I suspect it would
tear them in half," he mused, before the sound of a
shrieking thranta filled the air. He should have had
them all eradicated when he resided here.
She placed a gentle kiss on her son's forehead. Her
hips slowly rocked from side to side to work the baby to
sleep. Sierra felt happy, and her happiness grew as she
heard the sounds of boots approaching her. Her first
assumption was that Claudius had escaped the party to
visit their son. She turned, grin appearing on her lips
before fading quickly. Papius Arundel. Sierra shifted
until she was holding Bruce against her chest. Anger
rose inside of her. How dare he come this close to her!
How dare he corner her when she had Bruce with her. The
woman's body tensed. "I'd assume so. The momentum behind
the credit chit would be intense by the time it collided
with someone." She stated with a clear tone of anger
behind her words. The sound of a shrieking thranta
reminded her that she was far from alone against this
evil man. Her entire family was not far away. "What
brings you? You hardly seem like the type to go
dancing." Her son was fierce. He glared at Papius.
"Just a tour of the castle. It was nice living here,
I'm afraid to admit," Papius said, as he shifted his
gaze from the chasm below to the beautiful, young
Sierra. "Tell me ... was this the balcony from which
your mother-in-law flung herself, or was it one of the
others?" he asked, as he dragged his finger along the
balcony's marble railing. "I'm actually an excellent
dancer. Perhaps you'll find time to honor me with a
dance later?" he asked, as he inched along the balcony,
bringing him closer and closer to her *and* her son.
"What a beautiful little boy you have. I see so much of
you in him, and her father..." he said, as he smiled
down at the baby. "I also see some similarities in his
sister. Not the little brat. The older brat ... the
*Rebel*," he said, adding a bit of venom to that final
word. "If only she was here to see what you've become,"
he said, before arching his eyebrow at her, attempting
to provoke her. If she were to rush off and warn the
foolish Jelena then he would have them *both*.
Sierra's feet remained in place. This time, she
wasn't going to run and hide from him. Papius had
stripped her and humiliated her. He had taken Jelena as
prisoner. He had caused entirely too much trouble for
her husband...and now, he dared bring up Livia's death.
She wanted to rip his tongue out when he brought it up.
He didn't get to speak of her mother-in-law in such a
way. "You are unwise to speak of my mother-in-law's
death. It's *your* fault that she's gone." Sierra
accused. She could never forget what she had seen; Livia
diving to her death. Kerrie had disposed of the disk,
but its contents would always remain in her mind. "No. I
don't think my date would like me dancing with another
man. I'm sure you'll understand."
He was pressing her buttons and making her
uncomfortable. Sierra held her body even more tense.
Somewhere in the mountains, she could hear a thranta
screech again. It sounded like it was getting closer.
His cryptic words led Sierra to realize the truth;
Papius knew. Somehow, some way, Papius had found out
that Jelena was within the castle. If she didn't pick
her next actions wisely, then her family would suffer.
"If only..." Sierra sighed. "Jelena and I grew up
together. She was a very close friend. If nothing else,
I wish things could be different so she and her brother
could have a relationship. I cannot stop her from doing
what she wants to do." She let her eyes fall to reflect
true sadness. She did miss Jelena. The hardest pill to
swallow was realizing that she would never get Jelena
back. At least she could protect her from this monster.
She turned away from him, facing the balcony. She looked
out over the kingdom which had briefly belonged to her
"Yes. *If only*," Papius began, as he leaned his back
against the railing, to get more comfortable before
continuing the battle of wits with Sierra. "If only she
had not stolen classified Imperial documents and placed
them in the hands of the Rebellion. If only she had not
shot your predecessor, an Imperial Major. If only she
had not transmitted a treasonous broadcast to the people
of your husband's oversector, condemning him and the
Emperor. If only she had not openly defected to the
Rebellion. *If only*," he had again repeated, before
offering her a forced frown. "I have to admit I was
surprised to not see you in your uniform. After all,
this is an official function. However, with a dress like
that I cannot complain," he said, before offering her a
little smirk. When he needed good banter he knew just
where to look.
This conversation was making Sierra angry. Her blood
pressure was rising. It became clear to her that she
could not leave Bruce with the nanny droid. He needed to
stay with her where he was relatively safe from Papius.
As for Jelena ... she had *no* idea how she would take
care of her. It didn't matter what Jelena had done, she
was *family*. She and Claudius had fought to bring her
home. She said nothing, staring out into the city. She
wished for Papius to tumble off the ledge and fall to
his doom. Sadly, her luck wasn't that good. Overhead,
another ship was coming to land at Rodney castle. Sierra
did not recognize it, but it was the cruiser belonging
to none other than the Inquisitor. Her head snapped back
towards the Governor. Discomfort welled up inside of
her. She suddenly felt like she had far too much flesh
exposed. "It isn't for you to look!" She snapped, but
just as she did, a large thranta appeared directly in
front of the balcony. Its wings were spread wide. It
screeched loudly in front of them. Bruce's attention was
directed on the thranta now, but he didn't fear it. He
looked at it like it was an old friend. The thranta
began to peck and claw at Papius violently.
"Ohshit." Sierra turned around and escaped the
balcony where the thranta continued to assault the evil
Governor. "Nana, take the twins to Marcus and Zara's
quarters immediately!" She demanded, racing out of the
room and back towards the ballroom. She forced herself
to calm as she passed through into the large ballroom.
If the thranta injured Papius enough, then she didn't
need to worry about Jelena being hunted down. She
immediately returned to Claudius. Her cheeks were pale.
Bruce had returned to his former, happy self. He cooed
against his mother's neck.
For the nanny droid there was something familiar
about the thranta attack on the balcony. "Oh goodness
me, Lady Sierra," she said, as she took possession of
Bruce. "I will go immediately," she said, before she
tightened her grip on Darrus, Sia, and Bruce. While the
century may have changed the chaos surrounding the House
of Rodney had not. Perhaps there was a reason she was
rediscovered after all these centuries. She wasted no
time in taking safety back in the master suite in the
main spire of the castle, where she hoped no one would
bother the children.
The sudden appearance of the thranta prevented Papius
from making any form of witty reply. Instead he felt the
terrible pain of the thranta's claws tearing into his
arm. "Argh!" he screamed, as he tried to swat the
creature away. Now he was even more angry with himself
that he did not use the opportunity to rid the mountains
around the castle of the pests. "Damn this planet," he
said, as he finally succeeded in getting free of the
beast, but not before its beak had struck him directly
in the forehead, which was now bleeding badly. He would
need medical attention and soon. As he stumbled back in
from the balcony Sierra was gone, and so was the droid.
He felt himself growing lightheaded, the room began to
spin, and then he fell forward, collapsing in a pile of
his own blood.
For some reason Claudius Rodney had found himself
with Callista Nilar and the other children in the grand
ballroom where they were doing the hokey pokey, the only
dance any of the children seemed to know. He was just
about to put his left foot in when he spotted Sierra
returning ... looking pale. "I'm sorry, Princess
Callista, but my duties as Ambassador to Candyland
require me to go for a moment," he said, before smiling
down to her. He then quickly moved towards his wife,
where he took hold of her by the arm, and guided her
towards a quiet corner where they could speak unheard
of. "What's the matter?" he asked her, in a hushed tone,
with a growing sense of concern on his middle-aged face.
"Okie dokie, Ambassador of Candyland. Thanks for
dancing with me!" Callista bowed to him then continued
to dance, only she didn't know which foot was her left
or right. She stuck out her right foot and shook it so
hard that she fell down, giggling happily on the ground.
For Callista, this was another amazing day. She'd had so
much fun lately. She was going to tell her mama and
daddy about everything on the way home.
Sierra had walked in on a touching sight that she
would never forget; Claudius performing the hokey pokey
with the children. It made her feel better before he
even reconnected with her. She took his arm and clung to
it hard. In the corner, they found some semblance of
silence. "It's Governor Arundel. He stalked me on my way
to see Bruce. He cornered us on the balcony. He was
acting terrible, as he normally does, but then this
large thranta appeared and began attacking him." She
said, biting her lower lip. "H-He knows Jelena is here
too." She said those words much more quietly. Sierra
took in a deep breath. "We need to play what happens
next very carefully or else he will tear our family in
half." She brought her free hand to her head, anxiously
running her fingers through her hair. In the corner of
her eye, she spotted Doctor Tohan and Doctor Bailo.
"Governor Arundel was with Bruce?!" Claudius asked,
angrily, and raising his voice louder than he wanted to.
The thought of that wicked man near his beautiful son
was enough to infuriate him. "A thranta attacked him.
Did it ... did it kill him?" he asked, hoping, as it
would be a way of solving all of their problems, not to
mentions the problems of his brother as well. "He knows
about Jelena? How?!" he asked, as he turned his
attention towards the wall behind him. "We have to get
her out of here," he said, realizing it was technically
an act of treason, but he could not allow anything to
happen to his daughter. "Are you okay? Where is Bruce
now?" he asked, as he placed a hand on the wall in front
of him to keep from collapsing. "Perhaps it was wrong of
us to come..." he said to her, suddenly sounding very
"What a wonder this world once was ... before the
pollution, before the war..." Doctor Tohan said to
Doctor Bailo, ruefully, as he walked around the ballroom
with her. Needing his walking stick to get around he
could not effectively dance, but he could mingle. "Our
people have done a spectacular job so far, but there is
much more to be done," he explained to her, as he
lamented what had happened to the people here. "Though
as long as Imperial flags fly in the city I do not think
the people should return," he said, as he noticed
Claudius and Sierra in the corner. "Oh dear. It seems
drama has struck once more," he informed her, not
sounding the least bit surprised. "Shall we check on
them, or would we intrude?" he asked her, as he leaned
forward with the aide of his walking stick.
"I... I have no idea. It started peeking him and
clawing at him. I left. I ordered the nanny droid to
take the children up to Zara and Marcus' private
quarters." She said, immediately wishing she had kept
Bruce with her. "I don't know how either. We've been
extremely careful. She's well hidden. Do you think
someone told him?" She knew they couldn't move Jelena
off of the planet. They could inform *no one* of the
impending danger. "No. We cannot be seen talking to
those Papius knows are involved in the Rebellion. He
will use it to crucify both of us." She was trying to
form a plan as quickly as she could. "I'm okay." She
reassured him, bringing her hands to his face. "It
*wasn't*. Don't let that man ruin this night. Let us see
what is condition is before we plan the next step."
"This next song is dedicated to the Queen of my
heart!" Prince Pollix Drayen had found his way on stage
with the other musicians. In his hands, he held his
incredibly annoying slitherhorn. He was beaming from ear
to ear since his recent engagement had not involved his
death... *yet*. He stepped back and began playing a
quick impromptu jizz song that had the other musicians
struggling to keep up with him. The prince did a little
jig while he played a song he'd made specifically for
Drusilla Rodney. For the other guests, who had enjoyed
sophisticated music all evening, the jizz was totally
Doctor Bailo's long digits were wrapped around Doctor
Tohan's arm. She had been enjoying her evening until the
slitherhorn player began dancing to the beat of his own
... well, slitherhorn. She nodded her head slowly.
"There's much damage to be undone. I recall the first
time I visited Delaya years ago. It was surprising to
see how damaged the atmosphere was. I pray that our
people will bring on change for Delaya so the planet
doesn't end up like that again." Alessandra wasn't much
of a dancer. She was shy when she wasn't working in her
career. Her eyes settled on Claudius and Sierra who were
whispering in the corner. She let out a sigh from both
mouths. "I never realized one family could keep you so
busy. Yes, let's go see what has happened." She
reluctantly diverted Pilaq towards the couple. She
paused beside them. "Milord, is something wrong?"
Soon to be Princess Drusilla Drayen, but
unfortunately still Lady Drusilla Rodney, strode through
the grand ballroom that must have cost more than any
other gown on display. She had made a dent in the
Onderon treasury to equip herself in the evening in a
lavish, lavender gown and jewels from head to toe. Her
earrings were such that it was a wonder the weight of
them did not tear her ears off the side of her head. Her
necklace was causing strain to the back of her neck,
while the tiara on her head made her seem shorter than
she was from the weight of it pressing down upon her.
The bracelets and rings caused her hands to fall at her
sides, as it would take a great deal of effort to lift
them. The crowd parted as she stood in the center of the
ballroom, gently dancing to the musical stylings of her
"Of course someone told him, but who?" Claudius asked
Sierra, as he looked around the ballroom, suddenly not
trusting anyone. "Only the Rebels knew she was here..."
he said, but he did not think his half-brother or wife
would do such a thing. "Could Callista have said
something?" he said, as he looked over at the sweet,
little girl who still could not manage the hokey pokey.
Before he could say another word a pair of Ithorians had
descended upon them, forcing him to clam up about Jelena
and the Rebellion. "Yes, Doctor Bailo, everything..." he
said, but then stopped when he heard a shrill noise that
caused a shiver to run up and down his spine. "What is
that racket?" he asked, and then as he turned he saw the
boy Pollix ... and then he saw his other daughter. His
face went red, but he was conflicted as to what to do.
"Sierra..." he groaned, through a tightly clenched jaw.
He reached to her for support, as he realized that he
had come to rely on her much more than he had ever
Callista... Sierra supposed it could have been
possible. "They brought other Rebels..." She fell silent
as both Ithorian doctors joined them. The sound of
Pollix's horrendous slitherhorn was a rude awakening.
"Ugh." Her ears ached upon hearing it. She didn't even
need to look up to know who was making that horrible
sound. The little Prince who had stolen Drusilla way was
here. That could only mean... "Dru!" She saw her on the
dance floor. Her dress was ridiculous. Between all of
her accessories, Sierra was certain the girl was wearing
her weight's worth in them. She, too, felt conflicted.
She wasn't ready for someone to take Dru away. On the
other hand, she was *happy*. She bit her lower lip and
steeled herself to become Claudius' support. "Doctor
Bailo, a thranta attacked Governor Arundel in the
nursery. Can you please see to him? Thank you." Sierra
was all business. She gave the Ithorians no time to
object, because she was busily moving through the crowd
with her husband. She grasped Drusilla and pulled her
close. Instead of yelling at her, she squeezed the girl
Doctor Bailo's eyes went wide. "A thranta attack?"
The music had shifted to something she couldn't stomach.
"We will see to him." She said, pulling Doctor Tohan
away. "Move as quickly as you can before that noise
bursts our ear drums." She commented on the way towards
the nursery. Sooner than later, Governor Arundel would
find himself carried out on a stretcher en route to the
medcenter. He had been gravely injured by the beast.
Doctor Tohan knew thrantas to be peaceful creatures
so the news that one had attacked someone caused him
great concern. "I am going as fast as I can, Doctor," he
said, in his sassy voice, as his ancient, arthritic legs
moved with the aide of his walking stick to clear the
ballroom. "There is never peace here. There is an evil
that lingers over this place that causes pain and death.
Perhaps it should have been destroyed," he commented, in
a moment of bluntness, as he moved towards the seemingly
endless array of stairs that lay before him. "Let him
bleed," he said, as he put one foot onto the first step,
muttering to himself.
"Ick," Drusilla said, as Sierra hugged her in front
of *everyone*. "You're going to wrinkle my dress," she
said, as she shrugged her way free. "Did you miss me?"
she asked, as she looked towards Sierra and her doting
father. "I just had to get out of there. Everyone was so
miserable," she said, as she began carrying on and
complaining as if nothing had happened. "So I understand
I have a brother now. That came quickly," she commented,
as she carefully examined one of her fingernails on her
right hand. She did not want anything to damage her new
manicure. "So are you going to let me marry my Prince,
or not?" she asked, finally getting to the point, at the
wrong place, and at the wrong time.
"Of course I missed you. We've been wanting to come
visit you. The news of your engagement came as a
shock... I would have liked to hear it from you instead
of the HoloNet." Sierra commented. She looked at
Claudius. Unexpectedly, he'd been able to reunite with
both of his daughters. Even Sierra didn't know that Dru
would attend. "Ah, yes. Bruce arrived weeks ago. It was
a surprise for all of us. You should come meet him. He's
wonderful." She couldn't help but gush over her baby
boy. Her next question made Sierra choke. She coughed.
"Um." Sierra had no answer for this question. When she
thought about Dru marrying Pollix, she thought about how
she and Claudius would torture the boy. "Drusilla, you
aren't even of age yet... Perhaps it can wait a few more
years?" Sierra tried to be reasonable. "We don't even
know Pollix. Your father and I want to make sure you're
marrying a good person. A person who deserves you."
A member of the Alderaan Guard stepped forward into
the fray with Drusilla and Sierra, but this was no
ordinary guard ... this was Jelena Rodney. "You look
ridiculous. You think you don't, but you do," she
lectured her sister, as she came to support her bestie
turned stepmother. "Stay young. When you're our age
you'll wish you were the age you are now," she said, as
she rose her finger and poked her in the shoulder. But,
as she was literally poking her sister she could not
deny that the fabric felt wonderful. Little did she know
that the Imperial Governor had learned of her presence
here and that she was no longer safe.
"Well maybe if you paid a little more attention to
me," a bratty Drusilla shot back at Sierra, as
stepdaughters were known to do. "I'll meet him," she
said, as she tried to ingratiate herself to the woman
who now controlled her fate. "No! I want to marry him
now, mummy!" she said, as she began to stomp her feet
right in the center of the ballroom. "I don't want to
marry a good person. I want to marry a Prince, and
that's what *I* deserve," she explained, when her sister
started interjecting herself into the conversation.
"Well both of you ganging up on me. It's my childhood
all over again," she said, before she folded her arms in
front of her chest and began to pout. "*I* look
ridiculous? Excuse me?" she said, as she shifted her
focus to her sister. "You're the one who looks
ridiculous," she said, before angrily raising her hand
to her sister's head and knocking the blast helmet
square off her head, revealing to everyone that Jelena
Rodney *was* alive and at the ball.
Sierra wanted to kiss Jelena when she walked up and
backed her up against Drusilla. She was also glad to see
her friend because she could deliver the news for her to
flee without raising suspicions. Dru's words didn't hurt
Sierra, for she had tried to make some sort of
connection with Dru. The only connection that they had
seemed to be a love for music. She had begun to cause a
scene. People were looking, making Sierra feel nervous
due to all the unwanted attention. "We're just looking
out for you. I don't want you to be unhappy." Ohno.
There came the pout. The pout could get a Rodney
anything they wanted...but Drusilla didn't know that
yet. The worst thing happened as they were talking; Dru
knocked off the blast helmet from Jelena's head. The
helmet fell. It hit the ground *hard*. The sound echoed
throughout the entire ballroom. Sierra found herself
looking at Jelena's face with no obstructions in the way
... and so were all the other guests. "Leave now." She
mouthed to Jelena.
Standing before Duke Marcus and Duchess Zara was none
other than the great Auntie Mae. She was babbling on and
on about the future of her ice cream industry. She was
also looking for Zara and Marcus to create a *second*
scandalous video. "Ice cream sales have never been as
high as they were when I brought out Extra Passionate
Passion Fruit." She explained. "I need you to take a
second honeymoon on the islands. I will pay a droid to
catch the act on film. It'll surprise no one that the
Duke and Duchess had another 'woppsies'." She explained,
head turning as she heard the loud noise. What she saw
was a member of the House of Rodney who was presumably
dead. "Oh mah!" She gasped, placing her hand over her
chest. "This is inspiring! Jelena Rodney Mystery
Flavor... You never know what you're going to get!" She
crackled. "You get back to me on that second holovid, ya
The helmet flew off Jelena's head as if slow motion,
crashing to the ground that caused a crash that seemed
to echo for an eternity. Everyone looked. There were
gasps and whispers. Clearly someone, or multiple
someones, would have recorded it. She looked to Sierra,
her father, and then finally Drusilla, with tears
beginning to well up in the corner of her eyes. "I
know," she mouthed back, before lowering herself to pick
up the helmet, forcing it awkwardly upon her head, with
her brown hair still sticking out clumsily. One last
glare at Drusilla, before she began to sprint from the
ballroom to save her neck, but the fallout from what had
just happened would be long with them.
Claudius reached out for Jelena, but before he could
offer her any kind of affection she was gone. Perhaps it
was better than some intrepid individual with a
recording device did not get to capture *that*. He
turned to Drusilla, before raising his right hand and
pressing his index finger right in her face. "Do you
know what you've done? You've endangered your sister!
You've endangered us all!" he said, as he began to lower
his head, shaking it in disbelief. "You were never like
this before ... before that ... *boy*," he said,
angrily, as he had never been able to see all of his
daughter's character flaws. Perhaps it was because he
loved her so much, or perhaps it was because he did not
want the blame of her becoming a bad apple. No, to him
this was all the fault of one man ... Pollix Drayen.
Before Sierra or anyone could stop him he was rushing
towards the stage where he gave the young Prince his own
version of a pounce party. In front of everyone, he
tackled him to the ground and began to strike.
"Auntie Mae, while all of Delaya is happy for your
success, and the success of a local business, I am
afraid I simply cannot submit my wife to the ordeal of
another holovid," Marcus replied, in his best diplomatic
voice. Auntie Mae's taxes were now paying for most of
the restoration of Leiliani, which, despite her
insistence, would not be renamed Auntie Maeville in her
honor. He reached over to Zara for support when the
incident with Jelena happened, causing him to rise
suddenly from his chair. He did not know what to do. If
he did not do *something* the Empire could accuse him of
harboring a traitor, but she was his niece and he had
stuck his neck out for her before. But, before he was
given a chance to speak his brother was about to create
an incident of his own. He rushed to Claudius at his top
speed, attempting to pull him off Pollix. "Claudius,
he's just a boy. Leave him be!" he insisted, but all he
got was an elbow to the nose for his efforts.
"Oh no," Mug said, as he saw his brothers get into a
heated exchange. While the sound thing for him to do was
to flee with Jelena, he stupidly rushed onto the stage
to join Claudius and Marcus before his brother murdered
his future son-in-law. Taking one side of Claudius,
while Marcus took the other, he did his best to help
pull him away. "Brother, calm yourself. There are too
many people here. There are children here. Your *wife*
is here," he said, trying anything to calm him down. The
temper he saw displayed in the man reminded him of the
Imperial Grand Moff who destroyed his home. Perhaps that
same evil was consuming his brother.
It pained Sierra to watch Jelena go. That uncertainty
of when they would see each other again weighed so much.
Tears began to spill from her eyes. Jelena would be gone
soon, but would she be safe? She could overhear her
husband berating Drusilla and quickly wiped those tears
away. She could hear the hate in his voice. Sierra
realized what was going to happen far too late.
"Claudius...no!" He moved like an angry bear across the
ballroom. She witnessed Claudius tackle the wispy boy to
the ground and begin his assault. She dashed towards the
stage where she was forced to watch all *three* brothers
The Prince was indeed having the time of his life. He
was playing a complicated slitherhorn solo at the end of
his special song for his Queen. His eyes were closed,
body moving to the music. The poor boy didn't know what
was coming until it happened. Something *hard* hit his
body and sent him down to the ground. "Owww!" He cried.
The fall was the least of his worries. It was his future
father-in-law's fists that came next. People were
beginning to crowd the stage, holding up their holocams
to record the moment. Pollix was terrified of the man.
He attempted to bring his hands up to his face and his
knees to his chest. All that could be heard was the
sound of Claudius' colliding fists and Pollix's
whimpers. The boy was well versed in political matters,
not matters of physical contact. Two angels appeared
from somewhere in the ballroom: Marcus Rodney and
another man Pollix didn't recognize. They were trying to
pry the crazed Grand Moff away from his target but the
boy simply couldn't get free.
Zara wanted Auntie Mae to go away. What she was
suggesting was embarrassing. Feeling irritated, she
began to run her fingers through her silver hair over
and over again. Auntie Mae had helped the economy. She
helped rebuild. She offered so many jobs to people. Zara
couldn't repay the woman. Her fingers barely had the
time to brush over Marcus' hand when all hell broke out.
Suddenly, Claudius was on the Prince boy who was engaged
to his daughter. "Every time we get the family together.
. ." Zara rose, watching Marcus run to stop his brother
from murdering the boy in front of a crowd.
"Wow Thaddy! Lookit this place!" Kaiya Crion grinned.
She and Thaddeus had accompanied the Inquisitor on her
trip to watch over the Rodney family on Delaya. "All I
can smell are Rodneys. It's yucky." She explained. It
was in the same moment they walked in that the fight
began. She could see the uniform of the Grand Moff, and
finally, his face. Her eyes lit up. "*Thaddy look*!" She
bum rushed the stage in an eager motion to see the
fight. On her way, she accidently slammed into none
other than Sierra Rodney. "Fight! Fight! Fight!" The
Cathar's ears were perked upright. She looked over her
shoulder at her boyfriend.
Captain Thaddeus Updike marched into the grand
ballroom wearing a black uniform that was neatly
tailored to his athletic frame. He detested Delaya ever
since the battle here some months ago. It seemed they
were arriving at just the right time for them, but the
wrong time for most of the Rodney family. He placed a
hand on her shoulder, trying to calm her down. "Don't
exert yourself," he said to her, as he stepped forward
to come along side her. Indeed there was a fight, one
that he found very interesting to say the least. The
Inquisitor's reaction, however, was what he was truly
"Get off of me! Get off of me!" Claudius shouted at
Marcus and Mug as he was pulled off Pollix, creating
quite the scene. In his mind that boy had corrupted
Drusilla and endangered Jelena. He needed to pay. Only
the sweet sound of Sierra's voice managed to calm him
down, but he was still breathing heavily, covered in
sweat, with red cheeks and a disheveled uniform. When
they finally pried him off the boy he sat down at the
edge of the stage, where everyone was staring at him,
and gossiping. The House of Rodney certainly knew how to
throw an entertaining evening.
"Awww... It's already ending. That's what happens
when old people fight." Her ears hung downward. She
turned her body to face Thaddy. "It's nice to be away
from the Void ... but did we really have to come *here*?
We should go to an aquatic planet with lots of fish. Can
we go to a fishy planet on our next vacation?" She
asked, nuzzling her nose against his cheek.
Inquisitor Thrope, too, made an appearance at the
Rodney ball. She was interested in scoping out the rest
of Governor Rodney's family so that she could find new
ways to dig her paws into his life. With her, she had
brought her Jedi manslave. "Prav, can you imagine living
such a life? The Duke and Duchess have *no* power." She
informed him inside of the ballroom. "Political figures
such at themselves are just puppets. People with power
make changes. The Duke and Duchess just put a cute face
on it... I *hate* royalty." She rolled her eyes,
catching the last of the fight with the Grand Moff and
some poor boy. "It looks like I didn't take the fight
out of the old man. We'll need to work on that." She
commented, caring not for what messes the Governor was
getting into with his family. Instead, Jessa's sights
were set on Zara Rodney.
Sierra landed on the ground after Kaiya collided with
her. A Cathar's lean body had much more weight behind it
than anyone would expect. As Sierra stood, relieved to
see that the fight had ended, she saw who was standing
next to her: Kaiya Crion. Crion had murdered her little
Squib daughter's family. She had almost killed Sierra.
The memory came flooding back rapidly. She was taken to
the moment when Crion nearly crushed her to death,
ending both her and Bruce's lives. She was so terrified
that she began to shake. She tried to move through the
crowd lining the stage to reach her husband, but just as
she made it in front of him, a stray elbow collided with
her face. She let out a pained noise equally as pathetic
as Pollix's, dropping her head into her hands.
Prav Ulmgo followed behind his mistress slowly,
taking in the opulence and wastefulness of the
structure. It reminded him of the last days of the once
great Republic, whose leaders became corrupted by wealth
and greed. It would come no surprise to him then that
the Governor was one of those artifacts from that era.
"In time you will crush him as you will crush any that
oppose you," he whispered supportively in her ear," he
said, before growing silent behind her, in his simple
black uniform. There was a time when he and his master
traveled to such worlds to meet with such people of
power. The era of the republic was long over, he was in
an era of rebellion now.
Claudius looked to Sierra for support when the Cathar
commando bumped into her, sending him rising up from the
stage and moving to defend his wife. "Get away from her
you ... you ... you creature," he said, as he resorted
to the xenophobia of the human dominated Empire. He had
two Squib daughters and was ashamed of what he had said,
but he let his temper get the better of him, and that,
too, he would later regret. "She's pregnant!" he blurted
out without thinking, as he wrapped both of his arms
around Sierra and began to lead her away. The ball had
been thoroughly entertaining, but for all the wrong
*Clap* *Clap* *Clap* the sound of a slow beat of
applause began to fill the air surrounding Claudius
Rodney's outbursts. "Oh Germanicus Rodney would be proud
that eight centuries later you are the head of the
family," a very angry, and a very drunk Gaius Rodney
chimed in. He was holding a flute of starfuit cider as
he glared towards his cousins, unable to resist the urge
to get the whole family back together when they needed
each other the least. "If I were Duke the Empire would
have never bombarded the city. Thousands of lives would
have been spared. And your mother would still be alive,"
he said, before he flung back the contents of the flute
into his mouth. "You're a disgrace, cousin. An absolute
disgrace to eight centuries of work by men better than
you. And if my father had been born before your father
than none of this would have happened," he said, as he
looked around the room. "What are you all looking at?!"
he asked, as he staggered around, picking fights with
everyone. "You know it to be true!" he shouted, before
snatching another drink off the tray of a passing
Sierra clung to her husband. The evening had turned
chaotic. She was ready to retire somewhere only she and
Claudius knew. She didn't blame him for his xenophobic
comment, for this Cathar had caused so many problems for
them. He was still cooling off from beating Pollix into
a bloody pulp. Sierra's cheeks flushed red as he
revealed that she was pregnant to the entire ballroom
which was *full* of guests, including Auntie Mae who was
jotting down all of her new flavor ideas. Now Dru knew
Bruce wasn't the only extension of the family that she
and Claudius had planned. Somewhere, Doctor Tohan was
cursing the fact that he'd have to deliver *another*
Rodney child. She sunk down to hide in his arms until
cousin Gaius presented himself. He was drunk and
Farrah Rodney had thought it would be a good idea to
bring her father to the ball. In her mind, they were
going to unleash a plot to kill *all* the Rodneys at
once for revenge. "Daddy!? Where did you go!?" She had
been watching Gaius all evening, but he had somehow
gotten away from her. The girl was missing the entire
scene in the ballroom as she searched for him. "Daddy?
Daddy!?" Farah was panicked. Her father had been in a
bad place for some time. It seemed like even she
couldn't pull him out of it.
Gaius struck a chord inside of Sierra on the wrong
evening. She withdrew from her husband, taking the
shockcuffs from a Stormtrooper. The young ISB Major cut
Gaius off in his pursuit of Marcus. "You're a disgrace,
Gaius." She said, hooking the shockcuffs on him rapidly.
"Gaius Rodney, you are under arrest for the murder of
Julius Rodney and all the times you foolishly attempted
to murder this family." She snapped the cuffs on. "Take
him away!" She growled to the closest Stormtrooper.
"Your confidence in me is something I love about
you." Jessa commented. She had chosen a wise manservant.
He fed the dark side developing within her. The Lepi
female felt strong. She paid no attention to all of the
disasters in the House of Rodney. Instead, she came to
stand in front of the Duchess. "Duchess Zara. What a
pleasure it is to finally meet you." She bowed. "I'm
sure your brother-in-law hasn't mentioned me... I'm
Inquisitor Thrope." She growled. "I was shocked to see a
ball in Delaya. I wonder how your people must feel,
suffering under Governor Arundel while you party the
night away." Her fingers twitched at her side.
Claudius stopped in his tracks when he saw Gaius
carrying on, with the added nerve of mentioning his
deceased mother. That was the man who had tried to kill
him, his wife, his family. The man who had killed his
father. "You..." he said, as he curled his hands into
fists so tightly that his fingernails threatened to tear
at his palms. Before he could react it was once again
Sierra who had stepped forward to intervene, thus
sparing him a second beatdown of the ball. "That was
neatly done, my love. I see your ISB training showing,"
he whispered sweetly into her ear, before turning in and
placing a kiss on her.
Marcus was busy attending to his nose, wondering if his
brother had accidentally broken it, when the Inquisitor
stepped forward and moved towards his wife. He was quick
to snap into action and moved directly towards his wife,
going as far as to intercede between them. "Inquisitor,
so kind of you to honor our world with your presence,
and to attend our ball no less," he said, before
offering her a polite bow. He knew of these witches and
their ability to wield the force in ways his skills
could never counteract. While he did have his sidearm
beneath his robe he was old enough to remember the Jedi
and the Clone Wars and doubted his weapon would be much
good at anything. "I assure you, no one is suffering
under the Governor. We welcome his presence, as we
welcome the Empire, and yourself," he said, bitterly, as
he wanted nothing further to happen to endanger any of
his family members. (d)
Sierra let out a breath of air. Finally, the family
would see justice for the death of Julius. She grasped
her husband's hand. With her back turned towards the
Inquisitor, she didn't know that the vile woman had made
an appearance. She gave Claudius her best smile. "Thank
you." She kissed him. "You gave Pollix quite the beat
down. I hope you got in some punches for me." She
squeezed him. "I think we've stayed long enough. I'm
going to whisk you off to someplace special now." The
Sea Islands. If this was the last time they ever stepped
foot on Delaya together, then she wanted to make one
more memory there. She guided him away from the chaos
unfolding in the ballroom.
Zara had never met a Lepi before. Even she was taller
than the cute, small bunny girl. She offered a polite
smile to her. "Inquisitor Thrope?. . . No, he hasn't
said anything about you." Unlike Marcus, she had no idea
what an 'Inquisitor' was, nor did she know what kind of
powers she possessed. She frowned. "Aw, Marcus, are you
okay?" She noticed his nose was bleeding when he stepped
in between Jessa and Zara. This motion was enough to let
Zara know this woman wasn't safe. If Marcus felt like he
needed to protect her, then something was going on.
"He's right. The Governor and I even meet occasionally.
We extended an invitation to him too. . . I wonder where
he went." Zara didn't know about the thranta attack.
"Feel free to stay as long as you like. Our home is your
Her hand was rising when the Duke himself cut her off.
She saw the similarities between the brothers. "Is that
so?" She thumped her foot. She had come wanting to
create a spectacle. There was a big crowd, after all.
She raised her paw, letting *both* Duke and Duchess feel
her slowly beginning to constrict on their airways. "I
want you to remember this moment every time you consider
getting out from underneath Governor Arundel's thumb. I
won't be shy about finding out which of you dies first
when I catch word that you aren't behaving." Jessa
released them both, turned her back on them, and headed
Marcus reached up to his throat, grasping at the
invisible force that was constricting his airways. He
tried to speak, but his throat was being crushed in such
a way that no words could escape. He angled his eyes
towards Zara seeing that she, too, was suffering the
same ordeal that he was going through. He was furious,
but there was nothing he could do. When she finally
released him he took in a gasp of air, but before
checking on himself he moved to check on his beloved
wife. "Are you okay?" he asked her, as he wrapped his
arms around her. "She's gone," he told her, as he clung
to her, trying to comfort her as best he could. "She's
gone," he repeated, as he began pressing small kisses on
"Oh that looks painful," Petrus Flosgermen said from
beneath his mask to his wife, as he watched his
sister-in-law suffer under the might of the Inquisitor.
"Pity we didn't have her to help us with our little
plots and schemes, but at least we were here for the big
moment," he told her, before taking a sip of his punch.
Being around the castle again was a risk, but his wife
simply could not resist spying on her sister during her
big day. There had been plenty of drama and excitement
thus far for them to enjoy from afar, but it seemed the
best had been saved for last. (d)
Luna Flosgermen had not come back to Delaya in some
time. It was easy to stalk her sister through the
HoloNet. The ball had been *too* perfect. She couldn't
resist watching her sister's family make fools out of
themselves. One of her cat droids caught all the action
so they could laugh about it later on. "Not exactly the
kind of massage I want." Luna snickered. She was wearing
a long, brown wig over her cropped blonde hair to
disguise herself. "We could ask her for a business
card." Luna suggested. She wrapped her arms around her
husband's neck. "Thanks for coming with me. It's been a
*much* more amusing night than I ever expected." Her
favorite part thus far was watching her sister get
choked out... She still hated her so much.
It became hard to breath. Zara tried to inhale, but
she couldn't possibly get enough air. The Lepi wasn't
touching her, yet she was clearly killing her...and
Marcus too. "Nnn..." She attempted to say 'no' in
objection to her husband's death. She tried to reach for
him. Only Jessa controlled when they were capable of
breathing again. She gasped. Her hand touched her neck.
Zara didn't fully understand what had just happened. It
was the first time she'd crossed paths with a force
user. "Marcus!" Her eyes were filled with worry. "Are
you okay?!" She locked her arms around him tightly. "I'm
okay..." She thought so, anyway. She tried to stop
herself from crying over the Inquisitor...she failed.
The terror which she felt for Marcus sat inside of her
stomach like a gigantic boulder. "She's gone." Zara
repeated, clinging to him harder. His kisses were so
sweet. Each kiss reminded her of all the times he'd
protected her in the last year. Zara grasped both of his
hands, leading him away from ball.
The young Duchess led her husband up the spire
leading to their quarters. The first thing she saw was
that Nana had managed to put all *three* babies to
sleep. Zara stopped in front of the bassinet where Sia
and Darrus were asleep snuggling each other. It was
possible to decompress as she looked down at the two
little humans she and Marcus had brought into the world.
"I don't want to end the night like this." Zara said
quietly. "I don't want to end our first anniversary
Marcus went with Zara to their suite, ignoring their
guests, and instead focusing on the only adult in the
world who truly mattered to him. As he stood with her
over the bassinet watching the babies he could feel
himself becoming emotional, and brought his hand up to
his eyes to wipe the tears away. "We did this," he said
to her, as he looked down at his baby boy and girl.
"Hey, do you still have that chrono?" he asked her, as
he suddenly felt reminiscent. "If you hadn't come for it
we never would have met. None of this would have ever
happened," he said to her, as he began to cry. But they
were tears of joy as he felt a love he thought he would
never find. And not just as a husband, but as a father
"Of course," Zara replied. She pinched the front of
her dress to show Marcus where she had the designer
involve it in the design of the dress at her stern
request. She didn't care if it was fashionable or not.
That chrono was meaningful. "I'll never get rid of it. I
wanted it so bad. I had never expected to say a word to
you. Get in. Get out. That's the best way to be a
thief." She said, turning towards him. "I broke all of
my rules that night." Zara felt swept up in her own
emotions. The tears of happiness came rushing to her
eyes. Her arms came to wrap around his waist. She
pressed her head into his chest and let all of those
happy tears fall on him. "You changed *everything*.
There's no way I'd be this happy with anyone else." She
stepped away from the bassinet with him to allow the
twins to sleep. "This past year has been so crazy. Thank
you for being with me through it all. Thank you for
coming to find me. Thank you for making me your wife
*and* a mother."
"I love you, Zara," Marcus said, as he moved away
from the bassinet towards their bed. "This has been a
crazy day at the end of a very crazy year," he told her,
as he allowed himself to sit down on the bed with her.
"Claudius attacked Drusilla's fiancé. Sierra is pregnant
*again*. Gaius is in custody. Jelena is on the run. And
an Inquisitor choked us. Did I miss anything?" he asked,
as he leaned in to place a soft kiss upon her. His hand
moved a top the dress where the chrono was situated,
smiling at her. "I would say you stole my heart, but I
willingly gave that to you," he told her, as he placed
his arms tightly around her. "I'd apologize for my
family, but yours kidnapped you and my sister-in-law,"
he teased her, as he continued to reflect on it.
Zara laughed as he listed off every insane event that
had occurred over the course of the night. She sat
beside him on the bed. "I think Drusilla *has* a fiance
should be its own bullet point. That's pretty major! I
can't believe your brother." She giggled. "Someday, will
I have to pull you off of whoever tries to marry Sia..?
No, I'll be right there brawling with you. Is your nose
okay?" She leaned forward, softly placing a single kiss
on the tip. She snuggled with him on the bed. The day
was full of memories...good memories. Marcus made for
the greatest husband ever. "Yup, and I'm keeping your
heart so no take backs. It's mine forever." She did
everything she could to handle his heart gently. She
loved him. Nothing was ever going to change that. She
giggled. "Hey! You're never gonna let me live that down,
are you? Fifty years later, you'll still be like
'remember that one time Luna kidnapped you and Sierra'.
Do I need to remind you that Gaius is a Rodney?" She
laughed joyfully. "And he tried to kill everyone a
bajillion times. I win! For once, my family isn't the
most crazy." She teased him back. In her excitement, she
tackled him down to the bed and climbed on top of him.
"I'm going to love you forever, okay?"
"Yes. Who is going to be the one to tell Sia she can
never have a boyfriend ... never get married," Marcus
said to her, but he was not *entirely* kidding. "It
seems both of our families have black banthas," he said,
snickering, as he allowed himself to lay back in his
bed. He looked out the window at the sky, which was now
much more clear thanks to their friends the Ithorians.
"I heard there was a thranta attack. Did you hear that?"
he asked her, as he rolled over onto his side to look at
her. "Auntie Mae was right about one thing. We *should*
go back to the sea islands ... just not with a camera,"
he told her, as he moved his hand to stroke her silver
hair. "Did you see Doctor Tohan with Doctor Bailo?" he
asked her, smirking at the matchmaker that was within
"Marcus, Marcus. We are fancy folk. We have a nanny
droid to do those things for us." She giggled. The young
woman made herself comfortable, settling in for what was
meant to be a long cuddle session. She was happy they
had escaped the hectic chaos of the ballroom. The rest
of the evening would be about each other. "No?! Really?
Well, if a thranta attacked someone, then they probably
deserved it. Was it a stupid poacher again?" She made an
angry face. It was in her duties to protect the
creatures of their planet. Even Sir Tentacles still
lived within the northern part of the planet. "I was
thinking the same thing. We haven't been there since our
wedding. It was so pretty. We'll just have to be a lot
more careful this time... I guess last time was my
fault." She admitted with a laugh. When he pointed out
the Ithorian Doctors, Zara's eyes shone. "Oh my gosh!
*Of course I did*! Did I call it or did I call it?
Sierra owes me twenty credits now. She said it would
never happen. They were even holding hands!" Zara squeed
happily. "Did you see them being all cute at Mug and
Iyah's wedding? Can I plan their wedding? Pleasseeee?"
"What is an Ithorian wedding even like?" Marcus
asked, as he scratched the side of his head in
thoughtful contemplation. "I think we were both
responsible for that, Zara, but even with the holonet
scandal I don't regret one moment of our honeymoon," he
said to her, as he rolled over on top of her suddenly
and expectedly. "You know ... if Sierra can get pregnant
again so soon, there's no saying you can't either," he
said, as he lowered his face to her and began to plant
kisses on her. "After all, we do have a nanny droid to
do those things for us..." he said, repeating her words
as he began to remove the layers of regal clothing that
"I... I have no idea. I'll ask Doctor Bailo about it.
I like embarrassing her." Doctor Bailo was *at least*
double Zara's age, if not more. It was so cute when she
got all blushy over Pilaq. Regardless of enjoying being
a matchmaker, Zara was glad that Pilaq had someone
special now. Her thoughts quickly left that of Ithorian
weddings. "Me either. Our honeymoon was perfect. I
wouldn't change a thing." She had felt so loved as they
stood on the beach, listening to the drunken preacher
marry them off. The intimacy of having such a private
wedding had been exactly what Zara wanted. She had seen
a royal wedding and a regular one in the last year. She
preferred the way they had done things.
All it took was for him to roll on top of her for
lust to begin leaking into her brain. She wanted to
express herself to her husband in every way.
Well...every way *but* the scandalous way Auntie Mae
wanted. His words were exciting. She understood exactly
what he was implying. The twins were nearly two months
old now. Zara was recovered...it certainly was possible.
She joined in helping him remove all their layers of
clothing. "Does that mean you want to put another baby
in me, Marcus?" She teased lovingly. As the clothing
came off, her body was revealed to him and vice versa.
It didn't matter how many times she saw him, the
attraction still lived. She knew she needed eternity
with him to properly appreciate everything that made him
such a perfect person. Her hips wiggled. "Because I love
you so much I just might let you."
"I'm tired of being the second son. We need to win
the baby race," Marcus told her, as he finished removing
the layers of clothing that covered him, and then
unstrapped his sidearm. When it was done there was
nothing separating his body from hers than air. But when
he came back down upon her even the air did not separate
them. "Oh please let me," he told her, as the two of
them became one once again. It had been a year, but his
love for her made it feel as if it had only been a day.
Now he wanted to make it a lifetime.
"It's true. I don't want your brother to beat us."
Zara's hands rested at his shoulders. She stared up at
his eyes. Marcus had made the last year pass rapidly. In
that year, Zara had learned how to love someone truly
and unconditionally. He changed her, for the better, and
continually inspired her to become a better person. When
she met him, she was so scared of failure; failing as a
mother, a wife, and a Duchess. Time had taught her that
as long as he was by her side, then she would succeed.
The distance between them disappeared as their bodies
melted into one another in perfect union. Zara sighed.
She could feel their hearts beating in union together.
"I'll let you," she whispered to him. "This time and as
many times as you want." She leaned forward to meet him
in a kiss. A year would turn to two...five...a
decade...and so many more. Zara Rodney had no doubt in
her mind that one this fateful day a year ago, she had
made the best decision of her life. That decision was
named Marcus Rodney and he was the love of her life.