Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:8:22) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Leiliani: Rodney Castle).
Governor Papius Arundel, Duke Marcus Rodney, and Duchess Zara Rodney.

Duchess Zara Rodney was procrastinating leaving for Coruscant to uncover, or fail to uncover, any information on her side of the family. Thinking about that time in her life had brought back dreams...some happier than the others. Starcaster and Ava Ta'em sometimes seemed a millennium away. Other times, it felt like she would see them again. It was easy to believe that they weren't killed by the Empire after she recalled happier times. These memories reminded her of was how careful she and Marcus needed to be if they wanted to liberate Delaya, lest they be publicly hung as a reminder to all of their people what happens to those who rendezvous with the enemy.

"Marcus! Marcus, look!" She called for her husband. Zara was lying on her side in their bed. Both Sia and Darrus were present. It had been nearly three and a half months since the birth of the twins. They'd certainly done some growing in that time. They were so cute that Zara wanted to snuggle them all the time...which is exactly what had been going on. She was having a baby snuggle party when Sia decided to show off her new skills. She had recently learned to roll over. This progression came with the time to move her, and Darrus, out of their bassinet and into a crib. Currently, Sia was on her stomach with her hands and legs beneath her. Her little body rocked back and forth. "C'mon Sia. Come to mama!" She held her arms out. Her sweet baby girl was already attempting to crawl. Once they twins were mobile, Zara could only imagine what kind of intense baby proofing the castle would need. Her silvery headed daughter rose her head and offered her mother a toothy grin and a squeal of delight ... before Zara realized she was really looking towards her father. She laughed softly. "Sia is such a daddy's girl."

Duke Marcus Rodney had been preparing for the trip for Coruscant as well. His wife needed answers about who she was and where she came from so that her family's history could play a role in the development of their children as well. He only hoped that she would receive the answers she needed and not pain. When Zara spoke up his head moved to watch their beautiful twins began to get a little more active than he was used to. "Sia!" he said, as he reached out for her when he saw her looking towards him. He took her in his arms, raised her up, and began to cradle her. "They do more and more each day. Soon they'll be faster than me," he informed her, before lowering his head and placing a kiss upon Sia's forehead.

The sound of bootsteps began to fill the halls of Rodney Castle as a squad of Imperial Stormtroopers escorted the Governor, Papius Arundel, up the stairs that led to the spire where the Duke and Duchess resided. There was no announcement they were coming, nor did he request an audience with them. He simply arrived, and barged in, despite the pleas of the castle staff and the remainder of the Alderaan Guard. "A touching scene," he said, as he entered their room, as the Stormtroopers parted to give him room to move forward. In his hands he was still clutching the Rebel jacket recovered from Claudius and Sierra's sea island retreat. "Your brother and sister-in-law were nearly assassinated by the Rebellion in your precious nature preserve," he informed them, directly, as he stood at the foot of the bed and looked down at them condescendingly.

Zara's face lit up as she watched the interaction between father and daughter. Sia was squealing loudly. "I know! Before long, both of them will be crawling... Walking... *Running*! Talking!" She was excited for all of these milestones. Zara stretched out over the bed towards Darrus. "C'mere you little cutie!" She picked up her son and snuggled him against her chest. Her moment with her family was ruined by a noise. Zara noticed that noise from a mile away. She let out an audible groan. Her overprotective nature rose to the surface as she sat up on the bed and held Darrus closely. "Marcus, visitors... *Uninvited* visitors..." What *now*?! The sight of Papius Arundel never brought her any pleasure. He was a meanie butt.

He had brought far too many Stormtroopers with him. It felt like a play of power every time he showed up. Zara disregarded it as she listened to the man. His news did come as a surprise...well, *sorta*. Zara had played a part in allowing some Rebels access to the sea island retreats for their honeymoon. She didn't think it would be a big deal ... apparently she was wrong. "What are you talking about? There were Rebels on the Sea Islands?" She frowned deeply, instantly playing the fool. Her eyes fell down to the evidence he held in his hand: a Rebel jacket. She could smell the cigarra smoke on it from the bed. Ewww! "Are Claudius and Sierra okay? Did you catch the people responsible?" She said, pointing towards the jacket. "I don't want Rebels on *my* planet!" She ran her fingers through Darrus' growing dark hair. She wished so badly that Papius would turn his tail on the planet and never come back.

Marcus growled when the Governor barged into their bedroom, which made him clutch his daughter all the more dearly. He was a vile man and he wanted him nowhere near his wife or children. He was horrified by the news that there had been an attempt on his brother and sister-in-law's life, which caused him immediately to look towards Zara with grave concern. "Governor, we expect you to keep our planet free of Rebels," he told him, with mock anger. He felt terrible. He had never granted the request with Zara but he, like her, did not think anything like this would have happened. He let out a sigh, which deflated him, and caused him to look down at his daughter instead of the Governor.

"Play ignorant if you wish, but the crimes of the last Duke and Duchess of Delaya are now well documented," he said, before he threw the Rebel jacket at Zara defiantly. "Your brother has sustained injuries ... minor from what I can tell. His wife is unharmed," he informed them, as he folded his arms in front of his chest and shook his head dismissively. "In time we will catch them and if they reveal *you* had anything to do with their presence here I will find out," he warned them, as both his volume increased and his eyes widened. He was convinced they were traitors, even if he could not yet prove it.

Reaching a hand out, Zara caught the jacket before it could hit her young son. She was *furious*. She tossed the jacket to the ground and began inching down towards the end of the bed to face off with Papius. "I don't like what you're implying here!" She squeaked. "I want you to make this planet Rebel free again and stop obsessing over us. Do you not see that we have two very young children? There's another on the way too, you know? We don't have *time* to conspire against you." Zara looked over her shoulder at her husband. Her anger seemed to briefly fade for exhaustion which was all a show for Governor Arundel. "Let us know if you find anything out. We will inform our people that there are traitors dwelling on the planet." She slowly rose from the bed. She kept Darrus close to her. Papius was a man with no morals. He would kill the twins if he was ever given the chance... Thankfully, neither Zara nor Marcus would ever let it happen. As far as her brother-in-law went, she had to contact Sierra immediately to confirm that everyone was okay. She actually loved them enough that she worried about them.

Governor Arundel stood silently with a bemused look upon his face as Duchess Zara had her say. "Very well, milady," he said with a smirk, as he offered her the smallest bow of his head permissible by protocol. With that, he turned on the heels of his finely polished black leather boots and began walking out of their bedroom. Just as he got to the door he stopped dead in his tracks and paused. "Ah. I almost forgot," he said, as he turned around and looked towards them once more. His eyes moved from Zara to Marcus and the finally settled upon the young girl that Marcus was holding. "As you informed me you would be departing for Imperial Center I took the precaution of informing the authorities there for your safety and protection," he told them, having to bite down on his lower lip to keep from smiling too wide. "His Majesty commands your audience at the Imperial Palace. Truly, a great honor," he told them, with an unmistakable smirk, before marching out of the troop and descending the spiral stairs of the spire with his Stormtroopers.

Though the evil Governor was across the room, he had successfully punched the air from Zara's lungs. Her legs felt weak, causing her to gently fall back onto the bed. She cradled her son with a growing sense of concern. Her eyes closed. She could see the face of the Governor who had slayed her parents. She wondered if they would have the unfortunate fate of seeing him as addition to the Emperor himself. The Emperor was a terrifying man. She had never seen him in person, but stories of his powered preceded him throughout the entire galaxy.

The sounds of the Stormtroopers' boots was so far that Zara could no longer hear it. They were *alone*. She turned her head, looking at Marcus. "We're canceling the trip to Coruscant. I'm pregnant. We'll ask Doctor Tohan to conjure up a note stating that I'm having complications and can't travel. I don't want to meet the Emperor. My parents were traitors. Your parents were traitors. He'll kill us ... or make us wish we were dead." She didn't want Sia and Darrus to lose their parents...and their unborn daughter to never enter the world. "It was a stupid idea. I'm sorry I brought it up." Zara clamped down internally. The Ta'em family didn't matter that much.

Marcus could not believe what the Governor had said but, at the same time, he was not about to ask him to remain longer so he could ask him questions. Quickly he could see his wife begin to panic and he shifted his attention towards her. "We cannot refuse an invitation from the Emperor," he informed his wife, as he placed Zara securely down in the center of the bed and then began to move towards his wife. "We have nothing to fear. We will investigate your family, pay our respects to the Emperor, and have a wonderful vacation," he pledged to her, before leaning his face in to place a kiss upon her cheek.

Zara wanted to refuse and run away with her family. She had always feared waking to the same fate as her parents. The fear seemed real now that she had a little family to protect. She wished she had committed her time to bounty hunting over thieving, because her physique just wasn't quite there. She didn't have the same physical strength that Marcus did...or mental strength. Her head turned. Her eyes were beginning to fill with tears. She tried to blink them away. "He's supposed to be *really* scary, Marcus. Should we leave the twins here with Nana? Do you think they'll be safer?" She gulped. Slowly, she leaned forward to kiss his lips. It was his presence that would keep her sane on Coruscant above all else. She laid back, staring at him. "I-I've been doing some research myself over the HoloNet." She confessed to him for the first time. "I found a lot of stuff on Luna, but I found something else too. My grandma on my father's side, Magnolia Ta'em, is still alive. She lives on Coruscant." Zara bit her lower lip.

"I'm sure he is scary, Zara. After all ... he is the Emperor," Marcus said, as he reached out to grasp his wife by her sides and hold her dearly. "No. We must bring Nana and the twins. We cannot leave them here, defenseless, against Governor Arundel," he informed her, as he could not trust that Governor as much as he could throw him. When she revealed the existence of her paternal grandmother, Magnolia Ta'em, he was speechless. "We must find her. The children deserve to know their great grandmother," he told her, with seriousness, and a half smile. Any chance to reconnect was worth taking, he thought.

She inched closer to bask in his love and support. The frown on her face slowly became a little smaller. She couldn't keep running away from Coruscant and her past. Marcus had been there the first time she had stepped foot on the planet since that horrid day. He would be there throughout this entire adventure. She let out a sigh, nodding her head. "You're right. We'll take them all with us. I can't recall my grandma very much. My parents were really busy with the Rebellion. How do I even fill her in on everything? I'm a *Duchess* now!" A horrified look suddenly crossed over her face. "Oh no! Oh no! Oh *no*! You don't think she's seen the video, do you? I don't have to fill her in on anything then." She blushed brightly, bringing her hands up to her face to shyly cover her embarrassment. The video would always exist. It still held popularity all over the HoloNet.

"Hey. Slow down. Shh. Shh. Shh," Marcus told her, before leaning forward to place a kiss upon her lips. "First we need to find her," he told her, as soon as the kiss broke. "After that we can worry about how she'll react and what she has seen and hasn't seen," he told her, trying his best to reassure her about the hopeful reunification with her grandmother. He knew that *anyone* could have seen the holovid so the chances were she probably had seen it, but of course he would not reveal his opinion on that. "I can't believe Claudius and Sierra were nearly killed..." he said to her, as he frowned slightly, attempting to change the subject and take her mind off her grandmother and the Emperor.

It felt like she was preparing to open Pandora's box. The recent interactions with Luna had skewed Zara's perception of her family. Had the traumatic event altered her perception of her home life? She hoped not. She hoped that there were other good and decent Ta'ems in the world that she could introduce her new family too. If they never found Magnolia, maybe Zara would never have to find out. He realigned her thoughts to the original reason why Papius had come. "Claudius! Sierra! We have to call them and make sure they are okay. I don't trust Papius' report. He's a buttface." 'Buttface' was putting it kindly. Zara leaned forward, stealing a quick kiss before she rose. "We could go to Esseles and check on them." She suggested as a means of avoiding the now inevitable. She searched around their room for a moment to find a comlink, which she offered to Marcus. "Check on your brother!" She didn't mention the pink bantha in the room: the Rebels they had allowed to stay in the sea island retreat had hurt Claudius and Sierra. For that, Zara felt *really* bad.

"Alright. On our return from Coruscant we can stop on Esseles to check on them, *and* tell them about our encounter with the Emperor and your grandmother," Marcus quickly shot back, as he had been married her long enough to know she was simply attempting to put off the inevitable. He smiled at her briefly in acknowledgment of what he had said, before leaning in to place a kiss upon her lips. It was not just any kiss, but one with fierceness and passion behind it, so much so that he allowed his tongue to press between her lips, over her teeth, and rub back and forth against her own tongue. *Anything* to take her mind off the nervousness she was feeling over this trip. Although he knew she was anxious he also believed it would be good for, and he feared what the Emperor might do if they refused him.

Zara's plans had been foiled. "Nooooo! That's not what I meant. We should go to Esseles *first*. I heard Sierra and Claudius have a pool now... Maybe we can spend some time there..." She attempted to give him a purely innocent smile, but broke and laughed. He *had* been married to her long enough to know what game she was playing. "Okay, okay. We'll go see them afterwards." She was a little bundle of nerves until he started kissing her. Sure enough, he swayed her towards his affections. Her body turned towards his to share in that sweet, fierce kiss. He took her breath away. "Marcus!" She brought her hands to cup his cheeks. His kisses reminded her of what she needed to keep at the forefront of her mind: she had *him*. She had someone to make these family discoveries with...and to meet the Emperor with. Her tongue tangoed with his inside of her mouth until she needed to breathe again. "I love you, Marcus. Marry me again, 'kay?"

Marcus smiled at her second marriage proposal, but the impish rogue that lay within him could not help what he was about to say next. "Of course I'll marry you again, my love..." he began, doing everything within his power to keep his smile from splitting his face in two. "...we can ask the Emperor to officiate the ceremony," he added, fully expecting at least a playful smack in response. He winked at her, before leaning in for another kiss. He loved her and he knew that they would get through this Coruscant trip as they would get through everything from now on ... *together*.

"Awww. I'll get you a really big, flashy ring and everything." Zara said after he accepted her proposal. Her smile quickly turned into a glare as he brought up his idea of having the Emperor officiate their secondary ceremony. She playfully shoved him. "Nope! Nope! I take my proposal back! You'll have to deal with only be marrying to me once!" Zara's arms crossed over her chest. It was hard to be playful mad at him because he was so darn cute. He drew her back in with a kiss. "O-Okay... I don't take back my proposal. I love you, you silly butt." With that, Zara crawled on top of him. Just like the first time they married, it would start with consummation first and the ceremony later. Unlike their intimacy on the shore of the island, they were safe inside of their quarters. As Zara embraced him, happiness spread back through her body. Marcus made her the happiest girl ever.

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