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Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:5:14) in the Essesia system: Esseles (New Calamar: Claudius Rodney's estate).
Ewwiekewwieikkie, Callista Nilar, Lady Drusilla Rodney, Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, and Commander Sierra Rodney.

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! *Surprise*!"

Sierra looked 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, Callie."

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.

Drusilla 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 end.

Grand Moff 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.

Callista was 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 sang.

Sierra 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.

Drusilla had 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 herself.

When Drusilla 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 other side.

"Drusilla!" 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.

"Dru!" Sierra 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."

Claudius 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."

Callista 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 Alderaan.

"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.

"It doesn't 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 be safe.

Sierra leaned 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, Callista.

The little 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.

Sierra 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.

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