The last of the tauntauns was gone. The experiment
in becoming a gentleman rancher had accomplished
nothing more than feeding the sea monster that lay
beneath the frozen lake that adjoined the chalet.
The presence of food would draw the creature nearer
and he doubted that it would ever move on now. When
he returned from the blood splattered ice fields he
was quick to remove his gloves, scarf, and hat as he
allowed the artificial heat to flow over his face.
In a way he was glad to no longer have to deal with
the tauntauns, but neither of them had a source of
income anymore. Her birthday was upon them ...
seventeen ... quite the scandal. He moved
apprehensively towards the sofa, where he eventually
activated the holonet screen in front of him. He was
nervous about what the coverage of Zara's birthday
would be like, but to his dismay all of the
attention was focused on Claudius and Sierra's
occupation of the sea islands. "What..!" he
exclaimed bitterly, as he felt his brother had
stolen his idea. "Zara!" he called out, sounding
equal parts angry and concerned. They had been
accused of trespassing for having their wedding
there, but the coverage seemed entirely positive
about Claudius building a home there. "Maybe I
should have agreed to be Duke after all," he
muttered under his breath, as he glared at the
HoloNet screen in front of him.
There seemed to be a daily battle for the safety of
the tauntauns. As they lay in bed the prior evening,
Zara could recall hearing the death cry of their
final tauntaun. It was over. Sir Tentacles was not
going to allow for them to keep livestock outside.
She began to seriously consider getting rid of the
chalet's most trusty bodyguard ... and the biggest
pain in the ass. This thought had taken her to far
as to sit at the HoloNet terminal and begin reaching
out to giant squid rescue agencies. It was important
that they found stability in the north. Even without
Sir Tentacles, it was unlikely that any HoloNet
reporters would be ballsy enough to brave the cold
to *potentially* catch them in a scandalous act.
To her relief, the HoloNet's attention had turned
away from that of her and Marcus. Her seventeenth
birthday could pass quietly without anyone pointing
out the large age difference between her and Marcus.
It seemed to run in the family...just look at
Claudius and his wifey! Zara was beginning to feel
her own bout of frustration. What the hell did she
do with Sir Tentacles?! As she attempted to burn a
hole in the screen with her eyes, Marcus lifted her
from her anger. The sound of his voice had her
rising quickly. "What is it?!" She called out
worriedly. She waddled towards him. "What did the
beast do *this* time?" As Zara lowered herself down
on the couch, she caught the news on the holoscreen
before them. "*What!?* What is *that*!?" She asked,
pointing to the news of Claudius building a home at
the sacred sea islands. For all the bull shit they
had gotten from the media, she was shocked to see
everyone supporting his brother's move. She heard
reports about how it showed how much the new Duke
*cared* about the environment. He was seeing to it
that nothing happened. "Bullshit!"
"There has always been a double standard," Marcus
lamented, as he moved to change the HoloNet
frequency to The Real Huttwives of Nal Hutta. He
could not bare to watch another moment of his
brother's endlessly positive press coverage. He let
out a deep sigh, as he rose from the sofa, and moved
to his *very* pregnant wife. "And how are you
today?" he asked, before kissing her on the lips
briefly. He then dropped to his knees and buried his
face in her stomach lovingly. "And how are you two
today?" he asked, before placing a couple of kisses
on her stomach as well. The act complete he stood
back up, letting out a slight groan, as he was
getting to the age where his old bounty hunting
injuries were beginning to cause pain to his knees
Zara felt furious. She hated the double standard. A
heir and a spare, just like Julius had said. She was
angry for all the times Marcus had gotten the short
end of the stick because he was younger than his
brother. She tried to not have an outburst: conceal,
don't feel. She managed to smile at her husband and
kiss him tenderly. "I'm feeling really good!" Which
was something when you were twenty-five weeks
pregnant with twins. She giggled as he buried his
face into her tummy. She could feel the twins doing
cartwheels. They knew when Daddy was around. "They
said there's not enough room in here and that
mommy's bladder makes for an amazing trampoline."
Zara wasn't letting go of it. She still felt angry.
All of a sudden, she was opening her mouth.
"It's not fair! I hate the double standard! It'll be
a continuous, never ending thing too. Our son is
going to have to deal with the same stuff you did.
We should go confront them! Those islands are
special to us. They have a castle to live in
already." Grumble, grumble, grumble! She had
pregnancy on her side. They would fear her!
"You're right! It's not fair!" Marcus said, getting
more worked up, rather than attempting to calm her
down as he should have. Maybe it was the loss of the
tauntaun herd, or maybe it was a lifetime of being
treated differently than his *perfect* brother.
"You're right!" he said to her, before moving to get
her fur coat in a size six larger than normal.
Fortunately enough tauntauns had died to produce the
garment ... a silver living in their tragic deaths.
In a moment they were in their winter gear and
making their way through the blinding snow towards
the Nerf Herder. Her birthday was shaping up to
become another dramatic showdown between the
Life was *good*. Sierra Rodney was pleased. The sea
island home was getting closer and closer to
reaching completion. The HoloNet was *finally* on
team Sierradius. Not only that, but her connection
in the ISB had been more than willing to help her
dig up information on the unwelcomed visitor. She
was expecting to hear back from her friend soon with
additional info that could either make, or break,
the whole experience with him. The Duke and Duchess
of Delaya had escaped their responsibilities early
to enjoy the sea islands. They had set up a hammock
between two massive trees near the water. There,
Sierra was nearly falling asleep beside her husband.
The ocean calmed her. The sound of the waves was
like a lullaby. She stopped fighting the weight of
her eyes. As her breathing evened, she drifted off.
An unusual sound in the distance awoke her. It was
the hum of an engine. It was far away, but drawing
closer. Her eyes opened and a look of seriousness
crossed over her face. "Someone is coming..." She
announced. When the craft came into view, she
realized that it was Marcus and Zara's ship. Had
Claudius invited them for an outing? She was
oblivious that it was her sister's birthday.
Zara had all the time she needed to get herself
properly angry. She focused herself on the
mistreatment of her husband. What made Claudius so
*perfect* after all!? Sure, given media coverage, he
looked better than his brother, but that didn't mean
anything! Seeing the construction of Claudius and
Sierra's home infuriated her. "Oh my god, it's like
a freaking sea tumor!" Zara complained as she
attempted to shed her coat. The sight of the sea
islands alone reminded her of how warm it was. "Can
we blow it up?" She asked. It was really
questionable if she was kidding or not.
Marcus' hands moved to the Nerf Herder's weapon's
controls, as he targeted the under construction
estate that was being constructed off the shore of
the sea islands. His finger twitched over the
trigger, but he could not pull it. "Argh!" he
groaned in a mix of anger and frustration as he
instead circled the ship around to land on the sand
near Claudius and Sierra's shuttle. "No. It would
only damage the seabed," he said, justifying his
lack of action, as he rose from his seat to set to
the difficult task of helping his *very* pregnant
wife up from her seat and down the ramp. They were
at the site of their private wedding, which had been
transformed into his brother's latest home. He had
been banished to the arctic north while his older
brother spoiled the pristine nature of the sea
islands for a massive estate.
Was he seriously going to do it?! Zara watched,
neither pushing him on or trying to stop him.
Instead of watching fireworks on her birthday, they
landed on the island for some good ol'
confrontation. "Damn... You're right..." She snapped
her fingers then quickly undid her seat belt. Being
pregnant with twins wasn't easy when you wanted to
be upright. She *needed* his help. Don't mention to
her that, at max, she could have fifteen more weeks
left of this.
It made her even more unhappy to see the place of
her wedding marred by her brother-in-law's camp. "Nooo..."
She whined. "They are ruining the islands, Marcus!"
Zara stated dramatically.
Sierra didn't know what had brought Marcus to the
islands. Perhaps he was sick of the cold and seeking
out the tropical paradise. She moved quickly out of
the hammock, scrambling to grab her cover up so her
relatives wouldn't see her in such a state of
undress. After shielding her bikini clad body from
the sudden guests, she darted through the sand
quickly to meet up with Zara and Marcus. She
couldn't help staring at Zara's belly and feeling
entirely too grateful that fate hadn't given them
twins. She couldn't imagine how the younger teen did
it. A smile appeared on her face. "Brother, sister!
What a wonderful surprise!" By wonderful, she meant
terrible. Her nap had been derailed.
Claudius was trying to relax when Sierra told him
that someone was coming, and then the sound of the
engines forced him to open his eyes and look up at
the sky. He knew at once that it was his brother's
ship, and he moved to climb out of the hammock as
well. It was always a difficult task to get out of
it and rather than gracefully escape he found
himself falling face forward onto the sand. "Oof,"
he groaned, before staggering to his feet and
following behind Sierra to greet his brother and
sister-in-law. He echoed his wife's sentiments, but
was more standoffish than her. As he caught up to
Sierra he moved his arm around her back to hold her,
waiting for them to make the first move in the
Marcus descended the ramp of the Nerf Herder still
wearing his arctic wear, having not bothered to
change given how angry he was. He looked ridiculous.
"Brother, this is unacceptable," he said, in a
protesting voice before even a formal greeting was
offered. "These sea islands should be uninhabited.
My wife and I were crucified for merely setting foot
on these beaches, and now you're building a house?"
he asked, arguing at the double standard. It was yet
another strain between him and his brother. As he
looked over the massive construction project
offshore he only became more incensed. He was
feeling the role of the spare more and more.
The sight of Claudius served to anger Zara more. She
saw herself as Marcus' protector in everything. She
didn't like it when her husband was disrespected and
treated like he was less than his brother. From the
first meeting with Julius and Livia, she had been
defending him. Poor Sierra was unaware that a
vicious animal such as Zara was attracted by motion.
The second the Duchess opened her mouth, Zara's
tunnel vision centered around her. She refused to
look at the project again. She wanted to cling to
the image of the islands that she had experienced
when they were married. It was dark and beautiful.
There had been so many fireflies.
"And you're being praised for it!? We saw a report
about your new home. All we did was get married. We
barely touched the islands!" She couldn't help
thinking about the scandal and what it was like to
see nude posters of herself hanging in shops.
Absolutely *nothing* happened to Claudius and
Sierra. "It isn't fair! You guys get to stay here
while we freeze our butts up in the north. It just
shows the divide between the heir and the spare.
That's *exactly* what your father called it. He said
it would be the same way for our son. Marcus has had
to deal with getting less his whole life."
Sierra leaned against her husband affectionately.
Observant as she was, she didn't see this coming.
Marcus and his wife instantly began launching their
attack on the blind sided couple. They were angry
over the sea islands home...no...they were angry
about the division of fairness in the Rodney family.
When Zara brought up Julius, she, too, could recall
that moment. It had made her feel uncomfortable. She
began to speak. "I promise you, the construction of
our new home was done with no vindictiveness towards
either you or Zara. Claudius and I treasure the
islands too. They also offer a level of privacy that
we can't obtain within city limits. We have taken
every precaution to make sure the environment isn't
hurt by this. I am sorry. It was unfair of us to not
consider your feelings." She wasn't sure how to calm
them both down. "The castle is nearly empty. You two
can move in there... " She suggested nervously.
"The castle?" Marcus repeated, incredulously, as he
looked down to Sierra. "No one wants to live in the
castle. Let mother haunt it until her dying day," he
suggested, folding his arms in front of his chest,
while rolling his eyes at her ludicrous suggestion.
"The natural wonder of these islands should be left
untouched. Live in the castle. Live on a Star
Destroyer. Just don't live here," he demanded,
frustrated by what Claudius could get away with, and
what he was persecuted for. He shook his head and
began to turn away, as he felt their arguments were
falling on deaf ears.
"Don't talk to my wife like that!" Claudius shouted,
in dramatic fashion, as he learned the lesson of not
immediately sticking up for her during their
encounter with Rikka. He grabbed his brother from
behind, wrapping his arms around him tightly. Soon
they were on the sand, rolling back and forth, and
kicking and scratching at one another. Before too
long they were in the ocean, rolling into the surf,
and even on top of the sea cow. It was up to the
women to either break it up or let them get it out
of their system.
The castle wasn't frozen solid... It seemed like a
good compromise. It did not please Marcus. Sierra
was quite sure she had only succeeded in making her
brother more upset. He was remarkably rude with her,
going so far as to turn his back on her when the
conversation wasn't over. Sierra felt mildly
irritated while trying to still reason with the
couple. To her surprise, Claudius came right up to
defend her to his brother for a second time. It all
played out too fast to stop him. In the blink of an
eye, both men were on the sand acting like they were
half their age. Sierra felt pride in him for
defending her even when she was damn certain
wrestling wasn't going to solve anything. She saw
Marcus' warm hat on the sand as the two men trailed
towards the water. Sea Betsy watched them excitedly.
She thought they were joining her in the water for
play time. When they began to fight on top of her,
she merely crept further out towards the sea. Sierra
shook her head and laughed. "Let them go. They need
to get it out. I understand how Marcus and you are
feeling. I didn't realize how far the division was
between the brothers until speaking with Julius. I
know why you're worried. The fact that we all
recognize there's a problem gives us a chance of
Like Marcus, Zara was turning her back on
everything. There was *no* way that they were going
to live in the castle again. They had left as a way
to live without every eye in the Rodney family
focusing on them. Besides, the idea of living with
Livia scared her to the core. Zara was still
furious. It didn't stop when Claudius savagely
attacked her husband. "Get him in the jaw!" She
called out supportively. A Zara never forgets. She
had not fully let go of the fact that her
brother-in-law had broken her husband's jaw. "If I
wasn't so pregnant, I'd fight you." Zara grumbled,
giving in to Sierra to for the time being. Both of
the women sat on a blanket on the beach. "It really
isn't fair. The only time Marcus was treated
differently was when we considered him becoming
Duke, and then when Julius found out about our son.
It's fucked up if you think about it." She crossed
her legs. Hmph!
Claudius and Marcus were rolling about in the water,
much too aggressive as they both needed to let out
steam. Unfortunately the next roll slammed Claudius'
head into a submerged rock, cracking the back of his
skull and rendering him unconscious. Marcus did not
realize what happened at first, but eventually he
could see that his brother had stopped resisting and
the water near his head was beginning to turn red.
When he stopped fighting he saw that Claudius was
unconscious and he immediately released his grasp on
him. "Oh no!" he screamed, as he looked towards
Sierra and Zara on the shore. "Help! Get help!" he
said in a panic, realizing everything had gone much
too far. Once again what started as a small quarrel
had become a family altering event.
Until Marcus began to scream, Sierra was content
with trying to reassure Zara that all was going to
be okay. She was willing to work with them to right
whatever wrongs she could. Her eyes went wide,
attention shooting down into the water where she saw
*blood* and the lifeless body of her husband. Her
heart ripped in half, emotions and panic gushing out
all over the place. The little voice inside of her
head was screaming. If her mind was anything like
the movie Inside Out, then all of the emotion
personas were screaming. She looked over to Zara.
"Use your ship to call a medical transport!" She
shouted, having enough of a working mind to help the
pregnant woman back to her feet. "Hurry!" She
pleaded, heading towards the water. She passed a
look of death and violence over Marcus. As gentle as
she could, she paddled back to the shore with
Claudius. She supported his upper body, especially
his head. She quickly removed the wrap she wore over
her swimsuit. She wrapped it around his head to keep
the wound as free from sand and additional
infectants. Sierra checked his vitals. "Claudius..."
The pregnant teen didn't realize what was going on.
Zara had become so wrapped up in her anger that she
couldn't see the men getting into trouble. The next
thing she knew, the Duchess was bringing her to her
feet and demanding she call for help. Zara looked
down to her screaming husband. His brother wasn't
moving. Her stomach shot up to her throat. *Ohno*!
She comedically waddled towards the Nerf Herder at
full speed where she made an emergency call to the
medcenter which everyone had spent *way* too much
time in. "Hurry!!!" She said, repeating Sierra's
word, only Zara couldn't keep her cool like that
woman. The thief was crying hard. The transport
would be there soon...was it enough? She came out of
the ship looking defeated. Sweet seventeen birthday.
Marcus reached under his brother to lift him up out
of the water, cradling him in his arms, as he walked
towards the shoreline. He had no idea how much
damage his brother had sustained, but it was enough
to render him unconscious and draw blood. It was a
real disaster, and as soon as he was out of the
water he lay his elder brother down upon the beach
blanket. He looked to both Sierra and Zara but said
nothing, as he was in too much of a panic to say
anything. He swallowed nervously, breathing hard,
with the water still dripping off of him. "Where is
the medical transport?!" he asked in a panic as he
suddenly broke his silence. Even though it had just
been called he was already growing impatient. It
needed to get here *now*.
Powerlessness settled between the three of them.
They could do *nothing* more for Claudius. As
terrified as Sierra was, she couldn't let go of her
sanity. "It's coming, it's coming..." She repeatedly
dryly, holding onto her husband like she could
inject her life force into him. As a dark hour
began, the sound of another engine broke up the
silence: a medical transport. The news of the Duke's
injury had been taken seriously. They arrived, a
team of professionals instantly surrounding
Claudius. For Sierra, it was like an out-of-body
experience. She heard things occasionally. Head
injury. Blood loss. Someone guided the young woman
into the transport while they prepared to move
Claudius. It all happened so quickly. No sooner had
they arrived was the transport taking off. People
were already working on him. Sierra kept a hand in
his. "You have to be okay, Claudius. Come back to
me..." She whimpered, tears breaking through.
Soon, all that was left on the beach was Zara,
Marcus, and a bloody towel. Her emotions had shifted
altogether. Instead of being angry, she was upset
and crying hard. "W-we have to go to the medcenter!"
She demanded, grasping her husband by the arm. She
dragged him off towards their ship rapidly. What if
something terrible happen to Claudius? They were
never going to be the best of friends, at the same
time, she didn't wish terrible things on her
brother. Zara was in such a hurry that she took the
pilot's seat and began lift off immediately. "He's
where he needs to be," Zara started trying to soothe
her love. "The doctors will find out what's wrong
and fix it..."
Marcus stood there silently as his brother was
lifted onto the medical shuttle. Sierra was a mess
and he was the cause. He could barely hear what Zara
was saying, and his body began to shake with small
tremors. He was in shock. He blinked slightly, and
turned to look at Zara, finally hearing what she had
said. "Are you sure we'd be welcome?" he asked her,
as his eyes slowly moved towards the Nerf Herder.
"Can you fly?" he asked her, before letting out a
deep sigh and slowly marching towards the ship's
ramp like he was going to his death sentence. He
practically collapsed into the co-pilot's seat,
weakly strapping himself in, before staring down
aimlessly at the floor of the transport. "What ...
what if he dies?" he asked her, fearing the absolute
Zara didn't respond to his first question. Truly,
she wasn't sure how they would be received at the
medcenter. If Sierra wanted them gone, she wouldn't
blame her. "I'll fly..." It wasn't Claudius alone
who she worried about. She saw how upset her husband
was. It wasn't something that was fixable either.
While she powered up the engines, Marcus gave a
voice to the thought crowding up her head: what if
Claudius died? Her hands shook on the controls as a
bumpy take off began. "Y-you can't think like that,
Marcus. He'll be okay. He *has* to be." What if he
died? He'd leave a hole far too big to fill behind
between his daughter, his wife, and his unborn son.
Marcus would *never* forgive himself. As soon as the
ship was off the ground, she grasped his hand
tightly. Whatever happened, they were going through
it together. "It was an accident." She reminded him.
He never meant to hurt his brother.
The flight from the sea islands to the medcenter in
Leiliani had been a remarkably quiet one, as Marcus
sat in the co-pilot's seat unable to live with what
he had done. As the smog filled capital city of
Delaya grew larger in the transport's viewport his
heart rate began to accelerate as he realized they
would soon have news of his brother's condition. He
had become a pessimist, and had grown to expect the
worst. As Zara landed the ship on the roof of the
facility he attempted to rise, but was so out of
sorts that he had forgotten to release his safety
strap and ended up forced back into the seat. He
snorted once at himself before moving to release the
strap, and then began attempting to attend to his
wife. Gradually he made his way down the ramp, but
each footstep was labored. He was afraid of what was
about to happen next. More afraid than he had ever
It took every bit of concentration Zara had to fly
them safely to the medcenter in the city. Dark
thoughts clawed at her mind. She was still stuck on
Marcus' question: what if he died? It wasn't worth
confronting him, Zara told herself. She felt bad for
ever marching out of the chalet feeling angry at
Claudius and his wife. They hadn't started the cycle
of unfairness, it was Julius! Upon landing the ship,
Zara did not rise immediately. She felt like all the
strength had been zapped out of her. Together, the
two managed to leave the ship and then, very slowly,
enter the medcenter. It was chaos inside. Like a
beehive, there were nurses and doctors running every
which way. It was *so* busy. Reporters were already
flooding the area outside of the hospital.
Claudius had been taken to an operating room. Sierra
had been shut out of it. She looked defeated, seated
on a chair outside the OR with her head in her
hands. The woman anxiously awaited news but had
heard nothing yet. After a minute, she noticed her
brother and sister. She looked at them with
exhausted eyes. She did not snap. She didn't unleash
a torrent of fury on them. Zara felt so much worse.
She rushed towards her sister, removing her large,
tauntaun coat and placing it on her shoulders.
Sierra was dressed in her swimsuit, not exactly
hospital ready clothing. "I'm so, so, so, so
Marcus said nothing. He was completely silent as he
followed behind his wife like a broken animal.
Unfortunately Marcus did not get very far as
Imperial Stormtroopers were upon him almost
instantly. "Marcus Rodney, by order of the Imperial
Governor of Delaya you are under arrest for the
attempted assassination of Grand Moff Claudius
Rodney," the lead Strormtrooper said, as he was led
off down the corridor. He did not even try to fight
as he knew that would make it more difficult on him.
"Stay at the medcenter," he encouraged Zara, before
one of the Stormtroopers jabbed him in the back with
the barrel of his E-11 blaster rifle to silence him.
He took solace in the fact that the Stormtrooper
said *attempted* assassination, because it meant his
brother was still alive.
The day couldn't get worse...yet it did. While Zara
attempted to comfort Sierra, a group of
Stormtroopers came. They declared that Marcus was
*under arrest* for the attempted assassination of
his brother. Zara shot up to her feet immediately.
"No!" He didn't fight back, so she was going to
fight back doubly hard. "You can't take him! He
wasn't trying to hurt his brother! It was an
accident! He wouldn't do that to Claudius!" She
tried to reach him only to be blocked from his grasp
by a Stormtrooper who grabbed her by the shoulders
and advised her to calm down. Zara grew more upset.
She kicked and clawed at the Stormtrooper. "Don't
take him away! I won't let you!"
It was the doing of the Governor, Sierra thought.
She couldn't let Marcus be taken away. Sierra took a
more direct route that her sister. She stood before
the leader. "This is not as it seems. It was simply
an act of rough housing gone wrong. I demand to see
the Governor." Only she could not leave the
medcenter. She needed to stay close to Claudius...as
close as the walls allowed. Her resolve to help Zara
and Marcus quickly crumbled when a nurse softly
called for her. She quickly rushed to find out an
update on her love. Marcus had to wait for now.