3000 space yacht *Lady Drusilla* emerged from
hyperspace in the Alderaan system. On the bridge the
young Lady Drusilla Rodney, for whom the vessel had
been named, was wearing an elaborate dress more
suited for a formal ball than command of a ship. She
sat in the captain's seat, giving orders to the crew
she was grossly overpaying. "Get my stepmother on
the comm," she demanded, before clapping twice to
order the crewman, whom she viewed more as slaves
than servants. She had brought her sisters to Delaya
as instructed, along with the captive Callista, on
the instructions of her father and stepmother.
However, neither of them would be expecting her
dramatic arrival in an overpriced luxurious yacht.
"Tell papa his heiress has arrived," she said,
dismissively, to Sierra once her crew had opened a
communications channel. Notable she made a point of
not ordering her ship to land, as she was insistent
that they come to her. A grin crept upon her young
lips as she leaned back in her chair, putting her
legs up on the back of one of the crew she made
kneel in front of her as a makeshift footrest. Yacht
life was everything she had imagined it to be.
The draw of
paradise that the sea islands offered was hard to
resist, but, alas, it was time to bring the girls to
Delaya. Duke Julius' condition had neither improved
nor declined. They could not keep the girls away
after the news of the heir had spread, on top of the
most recent decision to move to Delaya. Everything
had been packed back up into the Lambda-class
shuttle Kwai just before Drusilla contact Sierra.
From their first communication over the comm, Sierra
was sure this was going to be an insane day. She had
avoided looking at what exactly her step-daughter
had purchased. Her current assumption was that the
estate on Esseles was now bursting with clothing and
given them no other option. Once Sierra received
word, she piloted the ship off of Delaya. What she
did not expect to see as they emerged from the
planet's atmosphere was a large space yacht. There
was no second guessing it: this was Drusilla's large
purchase. From the pilot's seat, Sierra made a noise
that was halfway between a gasp and a squeal. A 'queal'
if you will. "Oh my," she said in a voice that
sounded much more like George Takei than her own. "Erm.
Claudius." Like he didn't see the gigantic,
elaborate ship. Another comm opened from one of the
workers aboard the yacht giving her permission to
land in the hangar. "Yeah, thanks!" She said
sarcastically, aiming the nose of the ship towards
the hangar as she came in for a landing.
Rodney sat beside his wife sporting a nice tan,
hoping he was only temporarily leaving their would
be future home in the sea islands of Delaya. She
reacted before he even saw it, but when he did he
felt a sickness grow in the pit of his stomach. "She
must take it back," he said, angrily, before curling
his hand into a fist and slamming it against the
control panel in front of him. "The treasury must
last for the countless generations that will come
after us. As a Grand Moff I actually make a very
meager salary," he groaned, shaking his head in
frustration. She could not get the shuttle docked
quickly enough. As soon as the hatch was secure he
wasted no time in unstrapping himself from the
co-pilot's seat and rushing to board the yacht to
confront his youngest daughter about her latest
expenditure. He had talked a big game before, but
always backed down at the last minute. Normally he
would have helped Sierra, but he was moving with a
spirited determination to get to the bridge.
Welcome aboard *my* ship," she said, as she kicked
the crew member whose back she was using as a
footrest. She rose to her feet, but instead of
standing on the ground she chose to stand on the
man's back to give her much needed extra height. "Do
you like it? It isn't as stuffy as some old Star
Destroyer," she said, with a snooty look, raising
her chin upwards. "Where is your latest wife?" she
asked, tapping her foot impatiently as she waited
for the pregnant lady to make her way up to the
command deck. "I wanted to congratulate you on
*finally* having the son you always wanted," she
said, rolling her eyes at her father at her
misfortune. "And I wanted to thank you both for my
new yacht, which I have graciously allowed you
aboard," she said, before batting her eyelashes at
her father. "You didn't salute me," she pouted,
pursing her lips, and trying to look all innocent.
She had come with a plan.
It *had* to go
back. Sierra backed her husband on this one-hundred
percent. She didn't realize that she'd be leading
that conversation until the ship was settled. The
engines had not even fully powered down by the time
he was up and out of the shuttle. "Fuck," she
cursed, freeing herself from the pilot's seat. She
rushed to catch up with him while taking in the
yacht. With its large price tag, you had to wonder
what the hell it was like on the inside. One thing
she noted was how many people were working there.
The crew alone had to be costing the family a
fortune. Her irritation with Drusilla's financial
outburst was growing by the second. She had gone
much too far.
on the bridge in time to see Drusilla mistreating
her crew in every which way. The girl was using a
poor man to give herself extra height, meaning she
was actually *taller* than Sierra. She stood at
Claudius' side. "Hello dear stepdaughter... I see
you've taken advantage of the situation quite
nicely. All this is going back. The yacht. The crew.
This poor man you're using as a step stool...get off
of him! You need to show your father respect too. We
intended to tell you personally. We had no control
over what happened with the HoloNet." Well, that was
a white lie. That part was *all* Claudius' fault!!
However, if they didn't unite, then this yacht would
house the Rodney family.
informed her that the yacht was going back she began
to pout, stomping her feet repeatedly on the
crewman's back, eliciting groans of pain from the
poor young man. She frowned, let out a tremendous
sigh, and stepped off the man and down onto the
floor. She moved towards Sierra bashfully, and when
she neared her she moved to kiss each of her cheeks.
"Congratulations all the same," she said, before
giving a sideways glance to her father. "Papa, I
have been thinking," she said, before moving both of
her hands behind her back, and shifting about
awkwardly. "Sierra, you're a kind of doctor right?"
she asked, as a small smile curled upon her lips.
She was most obviously up to something. "Can you
tell me the difference between a boy and a girl?"
she asked, biting down on her lower lip and angling
her eyes up towards her, awaiting an answer. "Is a
boy better than a girl?" she asked, her eyes
alternating between Claudius and Sierra, as she
finally put the question to her stepmother. She
almost laughed. *Almost*.
Well, that was
too easy. Firmness did not mean she loved her
stepdaughter any less. She kissed both of her
cheeks. "Thank you, Drusilla." Sierra hated to think
of what Jelena would say. Drusilla fought with the
family's fortune. Jelena fought with words and she
was damn good at it. No sooner had the aggressive
part of her released was the conversation taking odd
turns. "Yes, I am. I'm a psychologist," she told
her. She worked with minds and yet the mind of a
teenager was still so complicated to her. Sierra had
yet to determine where all this was going. "*No*. A
boy is not better than a girl. I'd have been just as
happy if this baby was a girl. Goodness knows you'd
have to teach me how to dress her. I can barely
dress myself," she kept it light hearted. "As our
family is, you know the difference between a boy and
a girl. The duchy will be altered by this baby."
Bruce. She wondered if there was any candy aboard
this ship. Right now, she could use it!
"Hmm. I knew
it. A boy is *not* better than a girl," Drusilla
said proudly as she stood in front of Sierra, but
was decidedly looking at her father. "Then if a boy
is not better than a girl, there's still one thing I
don't understand..." she said, raising her lower lip
above her upper, as she played the part of an
innocent child ... which she most definitely was
not. "If a boy is not better than a girl like you
say, why do girls get passed over for their
inheritance in favor of a younger brother?" she
asked, as her blue eyes widened, emphatically
looking for an answer from Sierra. The only answer,
of course, was ancient sexism that had not been
corrected in the law. Her last chance to inherit
everything would involve a popular uprising of the
Delayan women in favor of her over the unborn male
child Sierra was carrying. With her question and
statement complete she arched her eye at her father,
before swiftly moving backwards towards her chair.
She folded her arms in front of her chest, allowing
her little legs to dangle down. She looked again to
Sierra and gave her a face to imply she was waiting
for a *good* answer.
Oh no. This
conversation really had taken a turn. Sierra finally
picked up where this was going. Feminism was growing
in popularity throughout the universe. In her mind's
eye, she watched Drusilla rallying with the
feminists in Delaya. There were so many negative
repercussions. The family would become divided
again, only Sierra would find herself fighting on
her side alone. She wasn't the type of woman to
force her husband to choose between his children and
his wife. In fact, she'd expect him to join in
Drusilla's insanity out of support. Another group of
people would seek to hurt Bruce. Following the train
of thought further, she imagined Drusilla taking
power in Delaya and bankrupting the planet that she
loved so much. The refugees would fall back to
very sick all of a sudden. Drusilla had time to work
out her strategy. She seriously considered running
back to the shuttle and crying until it was all
over. Quickly, she realized that was the hormones
talking above all else. One of her hands clutched
Claudius' arm. Quick to think on her feet, Sierra
spoke. "I see where you're going with all of this.
There is a perfect void that women fall into as far
as inheritance goes. I welcome you to challenge it.
You'll fight a good battle for your sister, Jelena.
I do hope you've thought out the repercussions. No
matter what you decide to do, the yacht is going
back. Your father and I have begun discussing moving
back to Delaya." She looked angry...and she was.
Drusilla said, unable to resist, as she shook her
head at Sierra. "You see, my poor sister Jelena has
been declared dead, and therefore has forfeited any
claim she had to the Duchy," she said, before moving
her hand up to wipe away tears that were not there.
"Of course we could announce she was alive, but
there's still that matter of her being declared a
traitor to the Empire and ... oh..." she paused,
bringing her hand up to cover her mouth. She really
had thought of everything. Her hand moved to the
control panel of her chair, slowly rotating it until
her back was facing them. "Yes. I will permit this
move. I should spend more time around *my* people,"
she declared, before giving the orders for the yacht
to descend to the surface of the planet.
at Claudius. He could help her any time now because
she was *drowning*. Drusilla could not see further
than her own nose. As much as she adored the girl,
it was a fatal flaw. And so, she released her grasp
from her husband and moved towards the girl. She
roughly swung the chair she sat in so they were face
to face. Her hands clutched Drusilla's shoulders.
"Drusilla, you're about to make a massive mistake.
We just pieced back together our family...and now
you want to detonate a bomb in the middle of it?! Do
you understand what you will put all of us through?
Have you even considered what happens if your
attempts to rile up the feminist don't actually
work? Or worse...what if they do? Those who could
advise you and help you won't be there because you
burned them along the way."
been silent, trying to absorb everything Drusilla
was saying. The male members of the House of Rodney
had ruled Delaya for almost 800 years and no one had
ever questioned it. He had spent his life trying to
produce a male heir, and now just when the entire
family could breath a sigh of relief his spoiled
little girl was getting ready to make a mess. He
moved quickly to separate his wife from his
daughter, leading her away before the confrontation
got out of hand. He led her off the bridge so that
Drusilla could not hear what he was about to say.
"What if ... what if we let her keep the yacht if
she agrees to renounce any claim to the Duchy?" he
suggested, feeling overwhelmed. His first instincts
were to give in to her, just as he had always done
in the past. He was not a very good father and in
most ways Jelena's criticisms of his parenting had
been spot on. They would be landing soon and he
needed a plan. He brought Sierra into his arms,
realizing he should have spoken up back on the
bridge. "I'm sorry I did not intercede my love. It
has always been difficult to say 'no' to her because
of all she has been through," he said, as he
embraced her firmly. Just when he thought everything
was beginning to go well there was *another*
While a woman
may someday succeed, that day had not come. Drusilla
would not be the beginning of female rulers for
Delaya. She wasn't ready for that. People would riot
worse than the Trump presidency. Sierra didn't know
how to protect Drusilla without hurting her with the
truth. She felt upset and agitated. There was no
calm. When it seemed like life would reach
stability, it was blown out of the water again. As
he led her away from the bridge, Sierra said
nothing. She could hardly believe Drusilla was doing
this. Even worse, Claudius did not help matters.
"What!?" Had he not been present on the bridge? The
yacht was an unnecessary tantrum, as was the Duchy.
Sierra's cheeks were red. She looked like she was
either going to scream, or cry and pull her hair
out. "No." She snapped back instantly, now a caged
animal trapped against her lover's body. She buried
her head into his shoulder and suddenly began to
cry. It had been an extremely stressful life lately.
With Drusilla acting like this, she could only
imagine how hard it would be to deal with Jelena. "I
can't do this, Claudius," she whimpered. "I've been
her stepmother for roughly three seconds. I don't
know how to handle this situation. It's not like it
was in my text books! I don't want Drusilla to go
through with this. There is no way to please her."
She drew her head up from his shoulder. "I feel
horrible. All our son is doing is causing burdens
and pain. Even you're immensely stressed out because
there's a target on my back. I wanted to be a mother
so badly." And she still did. "And that guard..." He
had died for the baby. For *her*. She didn't know
how to comprehend everything going on, so she began
to push away.
"Shh," Claudius said, as he lifted her chin and
began to dry her eyes. Before she could say another
word he placed a tender kiss upon her young lips.
"Do not trouble yourself with Drusilla. *I* will
find a way to handle her," he said, trying to sound
strong and confident for her. "Her birth caused her
mother's death. It's a terrible thing. I allowed her
to get away with too much for too long," he
explained to her, as he began to feel the ship enter
the atmosphere. When she attempted to push away it
only made him hold onto her tighter, loving her, and
not wanting to let her down now. "In my absence she
has become spoiled. Rotten to the core, but she is
not irredeemable," he said, before moving his hand
up again to gently rub away the tears once again.
"It is not your job to please her. Put it from your
mind. Let's focus on our new home, and our son," he
said, before he positioned his hand behind her head
and cradled her against him. Their complex, hybrid
family would take some work on his part. Work he
should have done ages ago.
The kiss was
like a mental reset. Crying, she kissed him back. In
her attempts to be a good stepmother and wife, she
was driving herself insane. There was no getting
away from Claudius. Her fight ended shortly after it
began. He'd seen her. He knew all of her
imperfections. Even running wouldn't be enough to
hide from him. She closed her eyes tightly. She
listened to him explain why Drusilla was the way she
was. His confidence was semi-reassuring. What path
he would take with his youngest daughter was
questionable. One thing was for sure; this family
was difficult to hold together. She wanted to help
Claudius with Drusilla. She needed to learn to be
empathetic while becoming a whole hell of a lot less
spoiled. She understood how it got so bad, but it
had to end now.
The tears fell
slower. She wished she could be better for him.
Drusilla wasn't the only one who possessed fatal
flaws. Being abused for over half of her life had
left its fair share of scars and insecurities. She
knew she should be doing better by Claudius. She
tried to relocate her thoughts to their new home and
their son, but all she could think about was how she
would mess the boy up. Would he love her? She had
never seen mothering done right outside of HoloNet
shows. What if, deep down inside, she was prone to
turning into her own mother. She shuddered against
her husband. "I'm trying." She told him, finally
withdrawing her face. She couldn't put anymore
weight on him. She would need to fight her own
demons for now. Releasing her grasp, she stepped
back. "I'll take care of getting the yacht returned.
I'll leave you to Drusilla." Sierra sounded more
businesslike as she used the excuse to part with
him and return to the shuttle. Inside the pilot's
seat, she could release her tears shamelessly. It
wasn't Arden who had broken her. It was Sierra who
had broken Sierra.