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Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:6:26) in the Essesia system: Kwai and Retributor.
Commander Allegra Ames, Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, and Major Sierra Rodney.

Grand Moff Claudius Rodney stood in front of the holotank on the Executor-class Star Dreadnaught Retributor as he watched the battle between the Imperial systems force and the Rebel roving line play out. At first glance the battle seemed to be doing well with his heavy ships positioning themselves properly between the nebula and the planet, but when a second Rebel force emerged from hyperspace and quickly cut off the Admiral's command ship. "What is that fool doing?!" he asked his officers, when suddenly the situation became more dire. His eyes lit up with anger and frustration as he watched the remainder of the battle unfold. While a couple of small Rebel ships were destroyed, the Admiral's command ships and several of her escorting vessels were destroyed. But perhaps the worst part came when the Rebel transports broke through and began landing reinforcements on the surface of the planet. "Turn it off. Turn it off," he demanded, as the holotank was deactivated. The officers gradually filed out of the room and darkness fell upon the Grand Moff and his wife, the only one who had stood by him as the news of the defeat came.

Today had brought so much frustration. Major Rodney had not been present for a battle like this. She'd never watched it all happen right in front of her live. There was *nothing* they could do as it unfolded and the situation became worse and worse. She felt angry and concerned. What kind of long term consequences would this have? The Rebel transports had broken through and so many ships had been lost. The only thing she would hope for was that the ground forces destroyed the Rebels before they got too far. When all was said and done, only Sierra and Claudius remained. Bruce had missed out on the entire battle. He was asleep close to his mother. She stood beside him at the place where the holotank had been. She set her datapad aside, for she would learn more about the attack in the days to follow. Her hand rose, then it slowly came to settle on top of the Governor's. She held onto it tightly. The battle was over, but the end had only just begun. "Let's go." She said simply.

Claudius breathed in sharply when her hand touched his, causing him to tremble slightly. His head moved slowly to look her in the eyes, but he said nothing. He knew what defeat meant, but he would not openly speak of it. When she instructed him to go he could only nod his head, before taking her hand and walking from the holotank. His plan was to return to the estate or perhaps the lakehouse for some time to think and plan their next move. There was still a very good chance that the ground forces could destroy the Rebel units landing on the planet, but it was undeniable that the tide had been turning in favor of the Rebellion. He felt as if his days, or perhaps his hours, were numbered.

Commander Allegra Ames moved quickly towards Claudius and Sierra, intercepting them before they reached the turbolift. "Congratulations, milord," she said cheerfully, as she nodded her head to the Grand Moff and his wife. She seemed to have a pleasant demeanor about it, which was ironic considering the Chandrila force had just been routed by the Rebellion. However, she had been on duty on the bridge and had not yet been made aware of the defeat. For obvious issues of morale and information control word had not yet disseminated through the rest of the officers of the setback.

Claudius stopped dead in his tracks when Allegra congratulated him, causing him to lose his temper and reach out towards her in a fit of anger. He pressed into her shoulder, backing her up against the durasteel bulkhead and pinning there. "You insolent wench. What is the meaning of this?" he asked her, from behind grit teeth and a reddening complexion. As he glared at her he began breathing heavily through his nose, as in his mind he was confronting the Inquisitor instead of a junior officer. Commander Ames had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Gah!" Allegra cried out as she was pinned against the wall, as she looked towards Sierra for assistance in dealing with her husband. "I am s-sorry, milord," she cried out, as she looked about for any kind of rescue. "B-but the news about your da-daughter just came ... came in over the HoloNet," she explained, swallowing slowly, which caused her throat to tighten ever so slightly. She was beginning to have trouble breathing as she feared the onset of an anxiety attack at being treated such a way. "She ... she is to marry Prince Pollix of Onderon," she blurted out, before closing her eyes and bracing herself.

It was time to regroup and attempted to string together what they would do next. Sierra's heart had shrank. She was *very* concerned about what this meant for Claudius. She feared that they'd arrive back at the estate to find a love letter from the Emperor. The lakehouse wasn't safe either. She needed to take Claudius somewhere else entirely. But where? Holding his hand, she began to lead him toward the turbolift that would take them to the bay where their ship was. It was then that Commander Ames appeared. The first word out of her mouth was the last anyone wanted to hear. The words that followed were no better. Sierra watched as her husband attempted to take out the brunt of his stress on Allegra, who was innocent this time. She swooped into rescue her. Her hand moved back into Claudius' and she started to pull him away from her. "She doesn't know yet," Sierra whispered, figuring that Allegra was only congratulating them on the birth of their son.

She drew him away in time for Allegra to deliver news that was just as devastating as the loss to the Rebels. "What?!" Sierra yelled. Her loud voice awoke Bruce, who, in return, began to cry softly. Suddenly, it was Sierra who was in Allegra's face. "I swear, Commander Ames, if this is your idea of a joke..." No. Dru *couldn't* be getting married. Sierra quickly returned to the room housing the holotank. There was a HoloNet hub as well, which she quickly used to determine that... Prince Pollix had selected a bride. "No, no, no." There was so much going on. They didn't know Pollix, nor did they know what his intentions with Drusilla were. She leaned over the terminal feeling like she might be sick. They had to go to Onderon and stop them.

Claudius released his grasp on Allegra when she delivered the startling news that his youngest daughter had eloped. When Sierra confirmed that it was true a sickening feeling came over him. His day had just gone from bad to worse. "Leave us," he ordered the terrified Commander, before he refocused his attention on Sierra. "We are going to Onderon. We must put a stop to this," he said, before leading his wife towards the nearest turbolift. "Inquisitor Thrope can deal with the Rebels on Chandrila. I have to save my daughter," he said to her, as the lift slowly descended the monstrous ship to the hangar bay. "It's going to be okay. You're going to meet your other sister," he said to baby Bruce, who had been stirring since Sierra had screamed.

It took her a moment to collect herself. Life was coming at them so quickly that she wondered if they should collect the family and run *far* away. Claudius had her moving again. She tried to soothe Bruce once they were in the turbolift. Sierra's stomach did a flip as her husband reminded her that Bruce had yet to meet Dru. She could imagine that Drusilla would not be as happy about the development as Jelena had been. She clutched his arm while Bruce began his kicking. "If they meet, she'll marry Pollix just to spite us." Sierra commented anxiously. Her knee-jerk reaction was that she didn't want Dru to get married, but this was best case scenario. Should she be supporting it? Eventually, Sierra made her way up the ramp into the familiar Kwai. She looked at the cockpit, then down a Bruce. "Mommy has to fly the ship now." She told the boy as if he understood. In a whisper, she added to him, "I think Daddy needs your snuggles most right now anyway." She adjusted until Bruce was out of the baby wrap. She carefully transferred the boy to Claudius, then grasped a blanket for them. Keeping Bruce warm was key from what Doctor Bailo had said.

Finally, Sierra sat behind the controls of the Kwai. She took a moment to program the trip to Onderon, a planet which she had never been to. For now, it seemed like the loss had been forgotten, for Claudius had truly become a family man over a career man. Once they were flying, she peered back at the two men in her life.

Claudius put the safety harness on himself for the first time since his academy days, as he did not want to be jostled around while carrying his son. As Sierra attended the shuttle, he was focused on holding their son. "I wish you were old enough to help me beat up the boy trying to take your sister from us," he told the little boy, as he held him tightly in his arms. "She's not that much older than you. She's too young to get married," he said to Bruce, as he began using him as a sounding board for all of life's family problems. As Sierra blasted the ship out of the hanger of the Retributor he made excited noises to the boy, as he smiled down at him. "Wee. Mommy's flying," he said to the little boy, as he began bouncing him playfully to mimic the motions of the shuttle as it flew through space.

Sierra was piloting extremely carefully. She had become too relaxed. There was Bruce to consider now, on top of her husband. Behind her, the little boy stared into his father's eyes with his big, bright baby blues. He didn't understand a lick of what either one of his parents told him, but he certainly made for an attentive listener. "She *is* too young to get married." Sierra agreed with a long sigh. "I would like to see them prolong their marriage. If Pollix can manage to wait, you know, thirty years, then *maybe* I'll let him marry Dru." Take off was certainly uncomfortable for the baby. He grew scared and tensed his little body...but only for a moment. His whole face brightened up. He liked being bounced! He cooed, then, unexpectedly, he smiled. A big, open mouthed toothless grin for his father. Bruce Rodney would be breaking hearts in no time.

"Thirty years is a good start," Claudius said, as he looked towards Sierra, trying to put on a brave face. "Of all the times for her to pull something like this..." he muttered to his wife, as he reflected on all of the attention getting stunts she had pulled over the years. "I swear she knows when we're experiencing difficulties and uses it to exploit the situation in her favor," he said, not exactly flattering his youngest daughter. "Oh ... look at him smile!" he cheered, as he looked down at his beautiful baby boy. He, and Sierra, were the only bright spots in his life at the moment. Without them he would have nothing ... he would be nothing.

"Forty-five? Sixty?" Sierra chuckled softly. "I should have just let her have the damn yacht..." It was going to be a difficult task to stop the royal wedding. They both knew that Pollix had the financials to take care of Dru...but did he have the heart? Sierra had no doubt that her youngest step-daughter would do as Claudius suggested and exploit the situation. "We'll figure it out. We always do. I'll be the mean one. I'll slam my foot down and tell her no. You can be the loving parent she runs to afterward." She didn't mind playing the bad guy so Claudius could be the hero. She kept her hands steady on the controls as she turned slightly to look back at Bruce, who continued to grin since everyone seemed to be so proud of him. "Oh my goodness!" Sierra's heart turned to mush. "He's *so* cute!" Bruce confirmed it, Sierra and Claudius made some gorgeous babies. It served as additional proof that they were perfect together. Sierra adjusted. She set the course for Onderon so she wouldn't have to fly the whole way there. When she was finished, she undid her safety harness and stood. She lingered in front of her husband and their child. "Let's go relax for a minute."

She made her way to the personalized cabin. Instead of sitting down, she grabbed up one of the bags she left inside the craft with necessities in it so she didn't have to pack herself up again whenever they left the estate. "It isn't exactly the most ideal time to bring this up but..." She pulled a datapad from her bag, dropping the bag on the ground. "It's been five months. Five months since we wed. Five months since you changed my life forever." She approached him. "I'd wanted this to be a surprise for *after* Bruce was born... Then things worked out a little differently. It's not done yet, but..." She opened up a file on the datapad and showed it to Claudius. It was a list of parts for an XJ-6 airspeeder. There were checkmarks next to the ones she'd managed to track down and acquire. "I've been hiding the parts out at the lakehouse. I figured we might be able to put your dream speeder together ...  *together*."

Claudius moved to the rear cabin of the ship with their son carefully in his arms. He moved to sit down to better support the baby, but was surprised when she did not. "The past five months have moved so quickly. I wanted to give you a victory at Chandrila as a present," he said to her, before frowning, and performing the pout that had become so famous for his family and now even his son mimicked. When she showed him the datapad with the parts list for the classic XJ-6 speeder his heart began to melt and the tears began to flow as he released all of the emotions that had built up inside of him over the proceeding days. "I failed you. I failed our son..." he said to her, as the tears continued to fall. He knew she would not see it that way, but it was how he felt.

Sierra came to settle on the couch beside Claudius. She cast the datapad aside to embrace the love of her life in a tight squeeze. She let him cry for however long he needed, for the days had become so immensely difficult. She felt her eyes becoming hot, especially as he admitted that he felt like he had failed her *and* Bruce. Her hands took his face, gently guiding him to look at her. She was going to fight his demons for however long it took to kill them. "*No*." Sierra began firmly. "You didn't give me a victory at Chandrila. And if you derive your success from that alone, *yes*, you failed. But." She said, running a finger along his jawline slowly. "You have been so strong this week. You were thrown that damn Inquisitor which set into motion the insanity that brought us Bruce early. You could have spent that time away from me, Claudius. You could have. You could have completely poured yourself into planning for this battle, magically gotten additional resources, and won. You also would have missed the birth of your son. You would never have had the chance to put yourself between our son and the Inquisitor. Claudius, I am always going to support you in your military career. I'm always going to try to help you as much as I can, but failures on the battlefield *aren't* failures with me. You won so many times with me just in the last few days." Her fingers began collecting his tears. "You've become the father you've always wanted to be... *No*, you're even better." He was right. She couldn't see it that way, so she was going to show him how *she* saw it.

"I love you so much, Sierra," Claudius said to her, as she managed to say all the things that he needed to hear at his darkest moment. "At least we're getting a vacation for our anniversary. Have you ever been to Onderon?" he asked her, as he tried to put a smile on his face, turning this into a positive. "Thank you for this beautiful, healthy boy," he said to her, as he lowered his head to look at his son again. He moved his face down until his lips connected with his forehead, placing the first of what would be a lifetime of kisses upon Bruce. He could never recall a week in his life that had so many highs and so many lows.

She was going to be his strength for now. She saw him in his darkest moments and was determined to bring light back to him. "I love you so much, my Claudius." She continued to cuddle him, softly laughing as he referred to the assault on Pollix as 'vacation'. "No, I've never been to Onderon. What about you?" Pride settled upon her face as he thanked her for Bruce. "Thank *you* too. You did some of the work... Okay, *most* of the work." She snickered. "He's so wonderful." She reached over, running her finger along Bruce's small hand. He grasped at his mother's finger while staring at his father. He was in the best mood he'd been in yet with his family nearby. "Look at this hair." Her hand roamed over Bruce's blonde fuzz softly. "It looks like you're second batch of children are going to be blondes."

"No. I've never been to Onderon, and after what I'm about to do to the little prince I doubt they'll ever have me back," Claudius explained to her, as he imagined both of them taking turns hitting Pollix' head as if it were a shockball. "Maybe during the conception, but the delivery was all you," he said to her, with a wink, as he hoped Bruce could never understand that they were saying. "They'll take after their mother," he said, as he glanced up at her glamorous blonde hair. He smiled at her, admiring her beauty, whose elements he could already see clearly defined in their son. "Despite all that has happened I am glad to be here with you on this day," he said to her, as he moved one of the hands safeguarding their son and placed it upon her thigh affectionately.

She laughed, having a like-minded image of her own playing in her head. With Bruce's little kicking legs, she bet he'd want to join in to protect his sister too. Sierra's cheeks flushed red and she giggled shyly. It was going to be hard to keep her hands to herself for the next month. "I give you some credit during delivery. Without you, Doctor Tohan would have grown *very* impatient with me when I refused to push." The poor Ithorian. She hoped that he would be okay. She didn't know if she could ask him to do it all over again when the time came for another child. Her blush grew as he looked at her. The blonde had certainly come from her side! She could see Claudius in him too...especially in his pout. Sierra's head rose. Her hand took hold of her husband's. "I am too. I'm glad I get to be here with you for tomorrow, and tomorrow's tomorrow, and so on. Becoming your wife was easily the best decision of my life." Sierra leaned in close. She kissed him hard. She kissed him lovingly. All these obstacles would eventually pass and they would remain together.

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