The estate on
Esseles was filled with... *girls*. Now that the
Rodney family had a visitor, it seemed like every
minute was an adventure. Sadly, many of those
adventurous moments had occurred in the wee hours of
the evening when Sierra was trying to get both
Callista and Ewwiekewwieikkie to bed. One would get
sleepy, then the other one would share their
hyperactivity. It was a never ending cycle until
Sierra did something desperate: cookie time. Using
perfectly harmless sedatives, Sierra gave herself
the gift of sleep. She prayed Claudius would never
judge her for the things she did that night. Oye.
A new day had
risen. Despite a serious lack of sleep, the girls
were bouncing around. Callista Nilar was especially
excited because today was to be her first tea party
with her auntie and uncle in some time. The little
girl was going all out. She had set a table up in
the garden. By the looks of it, one of Sierra's
formal dresses had been sacrificed as a table cloth.
Callista was currently dancing back and forth from
the garden to the kitchen. She had an armful of
flowers which she happily piled on the ground in the
kitchen at Sierra's feet. "Is it done yet?" Callista
squeaked, beginning to form a flower chain like her
mama had showed her. The little girl truly looked
like a princess today. She sported an elaborate,
pretty dress that already had several dried stains
on it. "Here Auntie! I made you a present!
more on the tired side as she plated shortcakes for
Callista's tea party. The advantage of shortcake was
that she and Claudius could have ones that were
significantly less sugary than the girls, who would
surely focus on piling whipped cream and chocolate
all over them as opposed to healthy fruits. She
looked down at Callista, smiling. As crazy as it
was, she *liked* things like this. "Almost." She
promised. "Oooh. What a wonderful surprise!" Sierra
placed the crown of flowers upon her head with five
other ones alike to it. "These are very nice,
Ewwiekewwieikkie went right for the shortcake,
grabbing a handful and shoving it right into her
mouth. "Om nom nom," escaped her mouth, as she
obnoxiously chewed with her mouth open. But then
suddenly she stopped chewing and looked around
cautiously. She then spit the remnants of the cake
into her paw and then stuck her tongue out while
make a noise. "Sierra, something wrong with cake,"
she said, sadly, as she began to pout. "You forgot
the chocolate," she said, before looking into the
tea kettle to see if that's where the chocolate was.
"Ahh," she squealed, when she began to realize this
was *not* a chocolate party.
Rodney arrived on the scene dressed in the same
black dress she had purchased for Jelena's funeral.
As she sat down at the table she brought her forearm
up to her forehead and unleashed an exaggerated,
melodramatic sigh. "You'll have to forgive me. I am
in mourning for our dynasty," she said, lamenting
the loss of her father's title of Duke of Delaya.
"Apparently some peasant girl is to be Duchess now,"
she said, before taking a sliver of shortcake so
thin that you could see through it. She ate the
piece, and then placed her hand on her belly. "Ugh.
So full. I really shouldn't have eaten even that
much if I am to keep my figure and marry into a
family that actually has a title," she said, before
turning her sideways in her chair to avoid looking
directly at anyone. "Woe is me. Woe is me," she
repeated, as she waited for the mandatory party to
Claudius Rodney wondered if he would not actually
need the castle now that there were so many
youngsters overcrowding his Esselian estate. As he
moved towards the tea party he was quick to move up
behind his wife, place his arm at the small of her
back, and lean his head around to steal a quick
kiss. "Tell me true, my dear. Which is more
difficult? Arranging this tea party? Or arranging a
meeting with Colonel Zevrin?" he asked her quietly
in her ear, with a smirk, before pushing forward to
join the others at the table. He was all set to pour
himself a cup of breakfast tea when he realized this
was all fun and games. The first hint that something
was amiss was the fact that the kettle was made of
plastic and had a face on it. "Sierra..." he said,
as he looked over towards her helplessly, ordering a
cup of tea with his facial mannerisms. "Oh. I almost
forgot," he said, as he reached into his traveling
bag that he always took with him into work. Out of
the bag he produced the tiara that Drusilla had
force fed to Ewwiekewwieikkie and he had cleaned.
Leaning forward across the table he set it upon
Callista's head. "No party this magnificent would be
without a princess," he said, with a smile, as he
helped himself to a piece of shortcake.
Ewwiekewwieikkie was eating the shortcake faster
than Sierra could make it! She shoved a piece of
star fruit in her mouth while placing plates on the
table. "There's chocolate on the table, sweetie. You
can add your own." Those were Sierra Rodney's last
words. The doom cloud following her younger daughter
announced Drusilla's arrival. It was not surprising
to see her wearing all black. Sierra was letting the
girl mourn her way through Claudius' abdication.
"There, there..." She sighed, patting Dru's back.
She would never understand how the girl could eat so
little. The motherly urges inside of her wanted to
force food down her throat until she had eaten an
adequate amount. She hoped that she could do
something to make Dru feel at least a little better.
The problem was that pleasing Drusilla in a
non-materialistic way was difficult.
She was seated
at the table next to an empty seat when her husband
arrived on the scene. She smiled, kissing him
sweetly. His whisper earned a hard laugh. "I think
you know the answer..." There was a reason why
Sierra had yet to change into her ISB uniform. That
white top was just asking to be covered in food. She
smiled at him, rising to fetch them both a cup of
real coffee. As good as the imaginary stuff was, it
simply wasn't fulfilling.
on her best princessly behavior. She had a knife and
fork in her hands. She attempted to neatly cut her
shortcake to eat it, but her dexterity wasn't good
enough. She scraped her knife on her plate a few
times before picking up her fork and eating in a
less ladylike manner. "Nom! Nom! Nom!" Her tummy
felt happy. She saluted Claudius as he sat.
"'Morning Ambassasasdor!" She tripped on her words.
Her big, brown eyes followed Claudius' hands with
interest. The tiara pulled out made her gasp. "*Wooah*!"
Her eyes were as big as Ewwiekewwieikkie's now. "Oh
my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!" She stayed still
long enough for him to place it on her head. The
closed her eyes and squeed happily. "Eeeeeee!!" The
little girl was so delighted. She slid off of her
chair and ran around the table. She wrapped her
little arms around him as much as she could. "Thank
you!! This is the *best* day ever!!" Callista rubbed
her head against him. "Best day everrrr..." She
witnessed the whole event. What was that? The sound
of Sierra's ovaries exploding in the distance. She
pulled herself back into the kitchen to let out her
own girlish squeal. It was *so* adorable! Her heart
swooned for her husband. She didn't emerge with tea
until she had gained composure again. She set a hot
cup in front of Claudius. She joined her family,
snatching up a shortcake before they were gone.
lost her chance at the title, but had worked very
hard to ensure she would not lose the treasury ...
even going as far to subject her sister to ingest
the family jewels so they could be smuggled off
world. When she saw the tiara, which she already
felt was hers, go towards some *alleged* cousin of
hers it was all too much. Her face when white as all
of the blood rushed from her head. Suddenly she felt
very dizzy and lightheaded, and the room began to
spin. She lost consciousness, falling forward and
collapsing onto the ground. She had fainted. Perhaps
she needed more than a sliver of cake to sustain
passed out, Ewwiekewwieikkie's eyes went wide and
she began to laugh. "Dru fell! Hahahaha!" she said,
giggling loudly, and getting down on the floor next
to her. She lay on her back and began roll around,
side to side, excitedly, kicking his legs and
flailing her arms as if it was all part of some
game. "Party on the floor! Party on the floor!" she
cheered, as she rolled over Drusilla's fallen body,
to get beneath the table. She sat up, banging her
head on the underneath of the table, causing
everything on it to shake about wildly. "Ouch. My
head!" she said, as she began crawling out, then
between Sierra's legs, before coming out on the
Claudius exclaimed, as he moved from the chair and
rushed to her side. Ewwiekewwieikkie was no help at
all. All of his joy at entertaining the young
Callista and having a peaceful play date with his
family before work had gone by the wayside when his
youngest daughter turned into a teenage drama queen.
Helping her up, he looked towards Sierra, and
sighed, dejectedly. With her situated, his attention
turned to his wife. "You're a psychologist. Can you
help her?" he whispered, realizing how she had
already done so much. Lately it felt like all he was
doing was asking her to help him with *his*
problems. It made him feel terrible and selfish. A
grand gesture was needed when things settled down.
jumped up from her seat so rapidly that the smacked
her knee against the bottom of the table.
Ewwiekewwieikkie went through her legs. The feeling
of her soft fur on her bare legs made her giggle. It
was tickly! Resuming her course to Drusilla, she
bent over. "Oh Dru, you've got to eat more.." She
said to the fainted form of her stepdaughter. "Leave
her on her back." Sierra briefly left. She returned
holding pillows which she used to elevate Drusilla's
legs to restore blood flow to her brain and reawaken
her. She pressed her fingers into the girl's next to
monitor her heart rate. She looked upwards towards
Claudius. Could she help Drusilla? Maybe if she
treated her like a patient who had lost a loved one,
she decided. Dru would be her hardest patient yet.
Slowly, Sierra nodded her head. "I'll see what I can
do." She promised him warmly. There was nothing she
wouldn't do for the safety and happiness of her
family. She worried about Dru. The teenage years
were crucial and difficult. It was easy to get swept
away. When the girl had awoke, Sierra held her back
into her seat. There, she piled fruits on the
shortcake she had barely touched. "Eat." She
lovingly ordered her. Sierra stepped back to her
husband. She could hear Callista and
Ewwiekewwieikkie destroying the house. "Would it
make you feel more comfortable if I worked from home
today? I'll see to Dru."
swallowed uncomfortably when he heard Sierra suggest
that he work alone today. He pointed skyward slowly.
"Me? Go up there? Alone?" he asked, with a pout on
his face that hinted that perhaps Drusilla did not
fall too far from the tree. "Whatever you think is
best, Commander Doctor Rodney," he said, with a
wink, as he looked over the room. "I need some tea
before I go," he said, as he sat back to the table.
"How about you, your highness," he asked, as he took
up the plastic tea kettle and poured her an
imaginary cup of tea. He then went around the table
pouring everyone a cup of the invisible liquid. He
finally got to himself, last, and poured himself one
as well. As he raised the cup, he took a delicate
sip, and smiled. "Mmm. This is the best tea ever,"
he told everyone, with a smile. He loved his
complicated family not in spite of their flaws, but
because of them.
She made a
face. Not that infamous Rodney pout! She planted her
feet into the ground and forced herself to be
strong, for he knew full well that the pout worked
on her. "I'll make it up to you *somehow*." She made
her way back over to the table and sat. She finished
off the last of her shortcake while watching
Claudius go around and fill everyone's imaginary
tea. Sierra's heart swooned for a second time. He
already was an incredible father. She was proud that
they would soon have a son together. And, thanks to
Callista, a daughter *someday*. She smiled brightly.
Her hand brushed over his forearm. "I love you.
You're so wonderful."
grinned upwards at her uncle. "Thankies!" She picked
up her cup. Concentrating hard, the little girl
stuck out her pinky finger all fancy-like. She
sipped her tea slowly. "I made it myself! I even
made you some for work!" She reached to the ground
near her feet where she had a brown paper bag. It
was filled with shortcake and a plastic tea cup. She
set it on the table and pushed it towards her uncle.
There were pictures drawn all over the paper bag.
More lovely drawing depicting the two of them with
gigantic crowns doing random activities like sitting
in the grass together outside her home on New
"I love you as
well, Sierra," Claudius said, as he helped himself
to a second serving of imaginary tea. "...although
I'm not sure I envy you," he said, under his breath,
as he imagined the mess that would likely unfold
throughout the course of the day with so many
children in the house. As he took the bag he looked
at the drawings, narrowing his eyes as he studied
it. "And where is this supposed to be, your
highness?" he asked her, as he smiled across the
table at her. His chronometer beeped, indicating he
was late, but as he was the Grand Moff everyone
*had* to wait for him. It was one of the small
benefits of being in charge, at least on paper.
Her legs swung
underneath the table rapidly. The little girl was in
a better mood than even the previous day.
Eventually, that sugar rush she was on was going to
run out. Sierra found find her passed out somewhere
random in the estate eventually. "It's my castle."
She informed him, leaning over the table to show
him. "That's my garden." She said, showing him
multicolors that were supposed to be flowers. She
pointed to what was distinctly a tree. "My favorite
part is the swing. Do you like to swing? It's my
*favorite!*" To demonstrate, she kicked her legs in
and out like she might at home.
look like the castle on Delaya," Claudius said, as
he held it up for Sierra to see. "You have a garden
and a swing?" he asked her, assuming now that it was
an imaginary place. "Yes. I like it very much!" he
said, as he wondered if he should add a playground
to the estate on Esseles. Though he was not entirely
sure how one might play in the shadow of an AT-ST.
He wished such level of protection was not necessary
to safeguard his loved ones, but until he vanquished
the Rebellion he felt his family would never truly
over. Callista's drawings were precious! She had
seen the little girl sitting at the table, crayons
in both hands, rapidly drawing on the paper bag. She
recognized the house to be the one on New Alderaan.
"This is the home I visited, isn't it?" Now that she
thought of it, she remembered the swing hanging down
from taller branches on the big tree just outside
their home. He wasn't the only one thinking about a
playground. Ewwiekewwieikkie would certainly enjoy
it along with their newest addition, and, of course,
girl wore a smile that spread so wide over her face.
She had finished her meal. Now she was enjoying the
attention that the adults gave her. "Yay! I'll make
you lunch tomorrow too!" Callista declared happily.
Her head nodded up and down so quickly that she
seemed to become dizzy. "Yup! Yup! Auntie came to my
castle." Her eyes went wide, seeming to remember
something. "Auntie said she has a baby in her
tummy!" Then came confusion. That statement still
blew her mind. She didn't begin to understand *how*.
"Didya know?! He's gonna be my second bff!" She
thought back to running around her home naked with
Ewwie and feeling awed that Sierra had gotten to eat
so much cake. She wanted to eat that much cake!
"This is ...
this is New Alderaan?" Claudius said to Sierra, as
his face was locked onto the image she had drawn on
the bag. "He'll be here soon, your highness," he
said, as he rose from the table, reluctantly to head
off to work. "Just about 35 more weeks," he guessed,
as he looked towards Sierra's burgeoning baby bump.
"Walk me to the shuttle my dear?" he asked, but as
he was quite insistent he took her by the arm and
began leading her through the estate towards the
door. "Goodbye girls. I'll be home for dinner," he
said, but wondered if the estate might be destroyed
by then. Once they were out of the estate and
walking towards the Kwai he stopped in his tracks
and looked at her. "I have to go there. I have to
see it with my own eyes," he said to Sierra, in a
serious tone, as he clutched her. "I know it's risky
... for so many reasons ... but I have to," he said,
with a nod of his head for emphasis. He lowered his
head, and placed a loving kiss on her face before
reluctantly backing away towards the ship.
laughed. "35? More like 23 more!" In her pregnant
mind, it struck her that it wasn't a lot of time.
The first half of her pregnancy had passed very
rapidly. She really needed to begin considering
Bruce's room. The thought was passing as it was now
time for Claudius to go to work. "Of course." She
wasn't going to fight him on it, yet the way he held
her arm told her that he had something to say that
couldn't be said around the girls. She looked up at
him. His statement wasn't surprising. Perhaps she
saw it in his eyes as he looked at Callista's
drawings. "I know. I will see to arranging a trip
for us. It will be risky. We have to be *very*
careful." She shared a kiss with him while worry
awoke in the pit of her stomach. Taking a Grand Moff
to a Rebel safe planet was going to be difficult.
She would need to borrow El-Nay's craft again, given
that she had it properly fixed up. She stepped back
and watched him walk towards the ship. "Have a good
day, love. I'll be waiting for you." As she spoke,
she could hear something crash behind her. She
winced. It was going to be a crazy day.