Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:3:4) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Leiliani: Medcenter) and Kwai.
Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, Lord Gaius Rodney, Duchess Livia Rodney, Commander Sierra Rodney, and Bruce Tamir (death).

Claudius sat in the co-pilot's seat of the Lambda-class shuttle Kwai, watching his young wife pilot the craft on their approach to Delaya. "Hmm. You seem to be doing alright," he muttered under his breath, slightly irritated by the message that Kerrie had sent him. "I'm not sure why Kerrie said I should revoke your flight status," he said, not completely aware of her poor piloting on the mission to trade Iyah for Jelena. It had been a mostly quiet flight from Esseles to Delaya as Gaius had been deliberately vague about just what was wrong with his father. "I hope we'll be in time," he said, cautiously, as he reached across to place his hand upon his wife reassuringly. He had been prepared for his father's death just a short while ago, but the near miraculous recovery had put him back on the path of believing everything was alright. Now it seemed he might be Duke sooner than he thought, *again*. And that made him a target to whomever was against his family, be it the Rebellion or nefarious criminals. He looked towards Sierra nervously, hoping they were not walking into a trap.

There was no way to tell what exactly was going on. Even the Holonet produced no additional news. It seemed the noble family had been able to protect itself. Regardless, the news of Julius in the medcenter would reach near and far quickly. Sierra Rodney had not gone to see the father-like figure the first time around. As worried as she felt now, she also tamed it with a realistic perception. Julius could, easily, be throwing a dramatic fit to bring them home. She hoped that would explain Gaius' sudden, vague message. She blushed at the mention of Kerrie and her skills as a pilot. She had no comment, knowing full well that she had done a bad job. "I hope so too..." This was Claudius' chance to say goodbye to his father. Sierra wasn't going to miss it. Her hand squeezed his back. They would only survive this with joint support.

With great reluctance, Sierra decided to land the shuttle at the medcenter. If time truly was of the essence, then it was dwindling down to nothing. She could see a herd of blood thirsty reporters crowding in front of the medcenter. That was certainly one part of the life that she didn't miss. Contrary to Kerrie's report, Sierra landed the shuttle as softly as ever. She was very aware of the succession. The more that Claudius was cast into the spotlight, the more potential for him to get hurt. It was with that, that Sierra opted to arm herself. If she could avoid another terrible accident befalling her family, then she would. She took in a deep breath, fearful of the state of Julius. She recalled losing her grandfather. Watching his physical degression had been the most difficult part. Unbuckling herself and raising to her feet, she offered her husband a hand. "Are you ready for this?"

"No. Can we go back to Esseles?" Claudius asked, with a seemingly straight face, before smiling at her. "I don't even know what *this* is, my love," he said, as he rose from his seat in the cockpit of the ship. He helped her up, being ever more protective of her since the discovery. Although they wanted to keep the pregnancy secret, anyone that noticed the way he was gingerly caring for her would be able to know *something* was going on. He lowered the ramp of the shuttle to allow them them to debark the craft, but he already saw the Alderaan Guard approaching. "Looks like they're expecting us," he said to Sierra, as he took her by the hand and led her down the roof to meet with the Guard.

Bruce Tamir, a member of the Alderaan Guard, had been dispatched by Gaius Rodney to meet with Claudius and Sierra when their shuttle arrived. He had met Claudius years earlier, but he doubted the man would remember a lowly guard. The defection of Yekaterina Hanson to the Rebellion had opened up the path to promotion, and he was quick to move through the door. He walked towards Claudius, nodding his head to him obediently, before politely shaking his hand. His attention then turned to Sierra, but just as he stepped in front of her, a blaster bolt slammed into his back. He staggered forward into Sierra's arms, fatally wounded, but his act had saved her, and the baby's life. All around them people were running for cover and attempting to get Claudius and Sierra to safety, but as Bruce bled all over Sierra it was clear that it would be too late for him. "I'm sorry, Milady," he said to her, dramatically, before his eyes rolled back in his head, and he died in her arms.

"Claudius, if we go back, we'll miss the week long celebration to my uterus. It doesn't seem likely that such an opportunity will ever come up again." Sierra smiled at her husband. "Let's go find out what this is. If it's nothing, then we'll go back to our corner of the galaxy and hide." You could only deal with so many reproduction pep talks from your father-in-law, after all. She walked with him, feeling confident in their decision to hide her pregnancy. She didn't see all the small indicators in the way her husband acted around her. Even Sierra herself had become much more careful. They'd need to take extra precautions against the press throughout their stay in Delaya.

She couldn't believe they were back here so soon.

The sight of the Alderaan Guards did not concern her. It would have been strange had they not been present to receive her and Claudius. She was diplomatic as ever, greeting them with kindness and a gentle smile. As she stepped forward to greet Bruce Tamir, a guard who was taking initiative with them, the whole world flip-flopped upside down. Sierra's brain registered the shot of the blaster *after* it collided with the man directly in front of her. Everything stopped, then it started again so quickly that it was hard to grasp what was happening. The guards were scattering. The man who had greeted them was now in her arms. Warm blood came from the man in an endless fashion. Sierra, shocked and terrified, placed her hands over his open wound. She tried to apply pressure in a desperate attempt to stop the bleeding. Instead, the man's blood continued to leak all over her. Her entire body was shaking. Who's blood was this? Did it all belong to the guard? She began to cry as he apologized to her. "No..." The guard's ultimate sacrifice had saved her *and* her unborn son. She could feel people guiding her away from the body and into the medcenter. "Ohmygod," Sierra was in a total state of shock.

Claudius and Sierra were grabbed roughly, dragged into the doorway that led to the upper level of the Medcenter. "Sierra! Sierra!" he yelled frantically, as he could not see her. He was surrounded by guards now who were blocking his vision, and he could hear her screaming ... he thought she was hit. His heart was racing, and he very nearly heart attack. The guards were more concerned with getting him to safety than they were with being delicate with him. When they released him once they were inside he saw Sierra, but all his mind registered was all of the blood. "No!" he screamed, as he brushed off the guards and rushed towards her. "Help! We need a doctor!" he screamed, as the tears began to flow from his eyes. "She's pregnant!" he stupidly announced, fearing she had been shot, and that the doctors would need to know. The old man was behaving terribly irrationally right now, unaware that his wife was physically fine. There had been another attempt on their lives, and he wanted answers ... *now*.

Where was Claudius? Where was her husband?! Sierra had developed a bad case of tunnel vision in her panic. She couldn't see him. The only people within her grasp were the guards, who were *not* giving her any sort of freedom since she was covered in blood and losing her mind. "Claudius!" She yelled. Frantic insanity filled the corridor in the Medcenter until she finally saw *him*. Claudius was unharmed. Sierra, on the other hand, looked like *she* was the one who had been shot. She heard the words that came from his lips. Everyone heard those words. Suddenly, everyone was scurrying to find a doctor to check up on her. Sierra broke free of the guards who had wrestled her into the building. She met with her husband. Her arms locked around him. She cried into his chest. "I'm okay, I'm okay," she told him while trying to reassure *both* of them.

Gaius Rodney quickly moved towards Claudius and Sierra, with a frustrated look upon his face. Claudius Rodney was supposed to be dead, but there he was clutching his wife in the safety of the medcenter. He had one simple request of his daughter, to murder his uncle and cousin, but she could not manage that one simple thing. The news that Claudius announced his wife was pregnant struck him to the core ... his sperm had worked quicker and more efficiently than his assassins. "Cousin. Are you alright?" he asked, quickly checking on both Claudius and Sierra. The amount of blood made him optimistic, but it did not seem to be either of their blood. Claudius looked terrible, but the heart attack did not seem to be coming. He bit his lower lip to avoid frowning too obviously, before ordering the guards to check the surrounding rooftops for the assassin. He knew that Farrah would be well away by then.

She shook like a leaf inside of her husband's arms. This was the first time she experienced something like this. She was covered with another man's blood. If not for the guard, then Claudius would have been forced to attend another funeral on Delaya. Sierra tried to calm herself with deep breaths. She was alive. He was alive. Their baby could continue to grow from the safety of his mother's womb. With an increasing sick feeling, Sierra's head emerged from Claudius' chest. She blinked away her tears. Gaius Rodney. She remembered him and appreciated his efforts to expose who had attempted to hurt the family *again*. "We're.. We're okay," she sighed. 'Okay' was as good as it got for now. "Who was that man, cousin? The one who sacrificed himself for me?" That man deserved recognition. He had, unknowingly, saved the future. Her mind was all over the place. She worried for the baby. She wanted to throw up. She needed to get out of her bloody clothing. It was *everywhere*. Even her pretty, blonde hair was stained with it.

Claudius clutched his wife like a newborn, terrified that something was wrong with her. Although she said she was 'okay', that did not register in his overprotective mind. Gradually they were helped back to their feet, and Sierra was placed on a gurney so that she could be seen by the doctor's to make sure everything really was ok. He clutched her hand as he walked with the gurney and the medical professionals as they moved towards the turbolift. He never acknowledged Gaius, nor gave any reaction to the others with them. His attention was entirely fixated on Sierra. Eventually they found themselves in their own room, not too far from his father. As the doctors entered the room to begin their examination of Sierra he felt very, *very* scared.

"His name was Bruce," Gaius explained to Sierra, as he stepped away from the medical staff as they began to prep her for transport. Perhaps he should have hired a more skilled assassin, but Sierra was *very* good at convincing him she was up to the task. His feelings for her had clouded his judgment and now a potentially catastrophic roadblock stood between him and the throne. "Make sure the child is alright," he said to the doctors as they rushed towards the room. He gave a sideways glance towards Claudius and Sierra, as the plots and plans filled his mind. "It would be a shame if anything happened to *it*," he said, with a faux frown, as he spoke with the medical personnel. "By the way, any idea what *it* is?" he asked, nonchalantly, as he made smalltalk.

Only the reassurance of medical professionals could put Sierra's mind at ease right now. She needed to hear *someone* tell her that the baby was okay. Her hand kept a tight grasp on Claudius'. They had come here to see his dying father, yet it was Sierra who needed Claudius more than anything else. Gaius tagged right along with them, which made her highly uncomfortable when doctors began to prod at her and remove the bloody clothing from her skin.

*Bruce*. The name hit Sierra hard. As soon as possible, she would gift that man with the highest honors in the land for what he had done for her, for her family. She turned her head back to Claudius. Her stress level was through the roof. She tried to comfort her husband with soft touches. Ultimately, the most comforting news didn't happen until the doctors had hooked her up to machines and done a full scan of her womb. She heard someone exclaim that the baby was a boy. The secret was out. At the moment, it didn't matter. Nothing else mattered until something *new* happened. One of the doctors turned on a device which was held to her lower stomach. The sound of the rapid heartbeat of a fetus filled the room. Words of relief followed: He's fine. The baby is healthy. Sierra lay back. She had yet to return to see Pilaq for an examination. This was the first time she heard the baby's heart. She looked up at her husband. "He's really there." As idiotic as the statement seemed, pregnancy is an intense phenomenon. There was a tiny person growing inside of her.

When Gaius heard the news that *he* was okay it shattered him, causing him to nearly vomit right on the spot. His hands instinctively curled into fists as the anger flowed through him, and he stormed off to find Farrah and discover what actually happened. Before leaving he was quick to post two guards at Sierra's room to report on the activities there to him. There was now *another* male between him and the throne, but fortunately for him it would still be many months before the little prince arrived on the scene. There was plenty of time for accidents to happen between now and then.

Claudius was so relieved that everything was okay with Sierra that he never bothered to acknowledge Gaius or the medical staff. "I'm so please, Sierra," he said, as he ran his hand across her forehead and through her hair. He was quick to help her out of the blood covered tunic so there would be less psychological torment for her to deal with. "I do not understand..." he said, still in shock about yet another terror attack on his family. "Who is doing this to us? It *must* be the Rebels he said," angrily and irrationally, as he climbed up into the gurney with her. Their combined weight caused the springs to creak loudly, but he did not care. His arms wrapped around his wife as he became increasingly paranoid, wondering whom he could trust, and where would be safe. He had forgotten about his father and why they had come here.

Gaius Rodney continued to slip through the cracks. The man responsible for *everything* was not five feet away from Claudius and Sierra. He was also the most unsuspecting person. While he wasn't a loved member of the family, he had never done anything to foreshadow such terrible treachery. No one batted an eye when he left. Together, Sierra and Claudius had lost a good five hundred pounds of stress weight. The bloody clothing was gone. Her mind began the road to recovery, though the sight of the bleeding guard would surely wake her at night. As he climbed into the gurney, she wrapped an arm around him and rested closely to him. She was being monitored for a short period of time. She could still hear the soft beat of their baby's heart. The paranoia was a shared feeling at this point. How did she keep her family safe?

"We have to delve deeper. I want those responsible hung!" Sierra growled viciously. Her second choice was a very slow, painful death. Adrenaline sunk away from her. As tired as she became from all of the drama, she realized that there was a single reason why they'd come back home. "We have to go see your father, Claudius," she reminded him. She showed no sign of movement. Simply being close to him was helping her feel better. Her body still had yet to stop shaking.

Claudius clung to his wife, trying to keep her calm, as he listened her threaten their unseen attackers. "Do not worry, my love. I am sure Gaius has the Guard investigating right now," he told her, as she turned the conversation to his father. His father. He had almost forgotten why they had come to Delaya. "No. No you must rest," he said to her, before showering his cheeks and lips with a series of kisses. "Once the shock has worn off we can go and see him *together*," he pledged to her, holding her as tightly in his arms as he could manage. If he had his way he would never be separated from his wife again.

The doors to Sierra's room swung open revealing the position of Livia Rodney! Claudius' mother had come to call on her daughter-in-law, and her unborn grandson. "Claudius! Let the poor girl breath!" she said, moving towards the bed more swiftly than she had in years. She started hitting him repeatedly with her purse until he exited the gurney. "You have done your job, boy. Now give her nine months to do her's!" she insisted, angrily, before shifting her attention to Sierra. "My dear. How are you? How is the child?" she asked, reaching towards her, clinging to her hands dramatically. "You mustn't go back to Esseles. You should stay with us during this time to see the safe delivery of your son to his future lands," she said, beginning the big speech, as she already planned her grandson's ascent to the throne.

Claudius' persuasive techniques were all too efficient. She couldn't very well defend herself against his kisses. Each one made her feel more sane than the last. For the second time in their lives, they bonded in a room of the medcenter. "Mmm... Okay, *okay*. Five minutes of rest." If they continued to spend so much time together, then they would simply attach at the hip. Thankfully, Claudius never showed any signs of wanting to be away from her. Her eyes closed.

Then they rapidly opened again at the unannounced arrival of her mother-in-law. "Mother?!" The news had spread rapidly. For a woman of her age, Livia still was one feisty, powerful woman. She hated to think of how weighed down her purse was by bottles of alcohol while she beat Claudius away like a dog. Sierra made a little face. She liked it much better when he shared the gurney with her. Sierra took the lead with Livia. Her hands squeezed her mother's. "I'm fine. The baby is doing well too. The doctors have already examined both of us." Don't go back to Esseles? These days, the estate was safer than the Rodney castle. She thought about the girls. She would never regret her decision not to bring them. It could have been Drusilla. It could have been Ewwie. "Mother, Esseles is the best place for me to be." She started reassuringly. "Claudius has been taking care of me there. With Doctor Tohan so near, we have everything we need." she patted the woman's hand.

The last person Claudius wanted to see with his mother, and the emotions were magnified when she began hitting him with her purse. "Alright. Alright," he said, as he rolled out of the gurney and made his way to a seat next to Sierra. "Mother, you know we cannot move back to Delaya," he said to her, as he brought his hand up to his forehead to brace himself about what was to come. "How is father?" he asked, without raising his head. It seemed everything that could go wrong was going wrong and that his family was not safe. For all he knew it had been an attack on his father that prompted his own hospitalization.

Livia sighed when she heard that they would not be returning home, which is where she thought all members of her family belonged. "Well you don't plan to continue your career, do you?" she asked Sierra, accusatorily, folding her arms in front of her chest as she gave her the stepmother look. "You need to rest. And you need to look after the young man," she said, as she treated her like her own daughter ... that is to say, someone to boss around. "Of course if you wish to maintain your career I would be happy to look after the young man, as I did Claudius' daughters," she said, as they idea came to her to raise the heir herself. This appealed to her, and a soft smile crept upon her lips, accentuated by her violet eyes.

Sierra, too, worried about father. Gaius had done nothing to update them. She stared at Livia, waiting for a report. Instead, the woman harped on her about her career, then proceeded on to suggest something that Sierra wasn't going to have any part of: that Livia raise their son. She gave Claudius a look that said, *help me please*. "No, no, no. No thank you," Sierra firmly shook her head. "Claudius and I will raise our son. I will continue my career as long as I can. I have the knowledge needed to properly raise the boy," she reminded Livia of her own noble roots. Sierra would never use the same methods her family had on her to her own child. That wasn't something that Livia needed to be filled in on. "Mother," she said, touching the woman's hand. "I appreciate your willingness to help. Knowing that you are there to instill knowledge on me is a great gift. I will seek your guidance when I need it." Sierra tried to sugar coat her decision by sucking up. "Can you update us on father? Gaius did a poor job of letting us know anything."

"My husband has fallen," Livia said, sadly, as she moved to take a seat on the side of the bed opposite where Claudius was sitting. "He was doing so well, but his hip is broken, and they worry that by the time he recovers he may have forgotten how to walk," she said, with a frown, before letting out a dejected sigh. "I hope that when I tell him about the child within you that it will brighten his mood and speed his recovery," she said, before reaching into the gurney and giving her a reassuring squeeze. "You have done both of our families proud," she assured her, before looking over towards her eldest son. She wondered why it had taken so long for both of her children to start producing much needed male heirs. Maybe there was something in the water.

Sierra's heart lurched downward. *Fallen*? Had the man passed already?! She digested Livia's sad words. The situation was more serious than she expected. At this point, Sierra wanted to hear another Julius rant. The thought of telling him still seemed overwhelming. She wondered how far the news had spread. She thought of their girls. By the end of this, only Ewwie would still love her. Sierra tried to comfort her mother while resisting the urge to vomit. "I'm sorry, Mother. I'm sure the news will be helpful to him. We will go see him soon." She promised. Even as she said it, she began to slid into a hospital gown which had been left behind for her. She would worry about proper clothes at a later time. Right now, her mind was grinding forward. She could rest no more. The young woman sat up in the gurney. "Is the public running rampant with the news of my pregnancy yet?" She asked, rising to her feet.

Even now reporters and wellwishers were surrounding the medcenter. "Yes. It is the most joyous news the planet could have received," Livia said, with a broad smile, as she had released the news prior to her visit with the young couple. When she started to rise she, too, rose and nervously tried to help her along with Claudius. "My dear you carry within you all of our hopes and dreams. You must rest," she appealed to her, as she trio began unexpectedly moving forward towards Julius' room. "Wouldn't you rather get a good night's sleep and see him fresh?" she asked, as she began to fret. She wondered what they should do, and she looked towards Claudius for help in controlling his wife. She clutched her arm, desperately trying to slow her.

Her legs were gone. There was no way to control the news of her pregnancy. Only in passing had Sierra thought of the press finding out. She assumed it would come out when she could not physically hide it anymore. Instead, her daughters were bound to find out the truth through the Holonet. Their friends knew. Their enemies knew. She suddenly clung to both her husband and mother-in-law, momentarily giving her legs a moment of recovery. Suddenly, she felt ill-prepared for Julius. She thought of the man who had sacrificed himself for her. Bruce. "...Yes, you're right." Sierra agreed, backtracking towards the gurney. She sat on the edge of it. She didn't feel angry at Claudius for the news coming out. Had she been shot, knowing about the baby could have saved both of them. The limelight had never been cast over her like this. She was feeling a lot of regret for not telling their family at home in Esseles. She put on her best smile for Livia. "I'm sorry, Mother. I am exhausted. I'll meet with you again in the morning." It was the best promise she could give to be alone with her husband, who she clung to with one hand. Only when Livia was gone did Sierra lay back down. "Fuck," she cursed unladylike. "Is the offer to run back to Esseles still valid?"

Claudius was quick to help her back to the gurney, but did not comment until his mother had left the scene. When Sierra was back in the bed he moved towards the window, pulling the blinds, and peering down at the crowd. "Oh no..." he said, with an impassioned sigh, as he rolled his eyes. "Yes. We can go back to Esseles right away," he said, but his eyes continued to look down at the crowd, rather than turning to acknowledge her. He clutched the blinds for some time before he began to move towards her again, trying to come to terms with the fact that their new pregnancy was the top HoloNet story. "The girls..." he said, in a panic, wondering if they were watching back home. He suddenly felt sick, moving to climb into the gurney again. "I'm sorry. Me and my big mouth," he said, apologetically, as he buried his face in her bosom to hide his embarrassment of the big reveal. There was no getting away from it now.

*Oh no...* Those two words said it all. Sierra, Claudius, and their unborn son had visitors. She didn't look. As long as she remained in the medcenter, the reporters would keep their distance. He had agreed to take her home, but her sense of duty was so strong. They had to see Julius. They had to asses the situation before turning a shoulder to all of it. She groaned, imagining Drusilla sharpening a knife somewhere. The new relationship she had with Jelena was gone.

She accepted him into her gurney, wiggling until she was as close as possible. Her head ducked down. Her nose nuzzled into his hair where she inhaled his scent. "Don't be sorry. If you hadn't feared for our son while I was covered in blood, that would have sent off red flags. I'm glad you care so much, my love." She wasn't lying. "We will see to the girls as soon as we can. We're married. Having a baby was in the cards..." Her voice trailed off. A smile suddenly appeared on her face, "You know, Drusilla's favorite shop is still open.." She giggled, kissing his cheek. "Are *you* okay? We're going to face your father tomorrow. It sounds like he's actually hurt." Sierra wished that they could go see him now. If she marathoned through seeing Julius, then she could get them back home before the sun rose in the morning. Her body rejected Sierra's insanity. She did need rest.

"I suppose I'm ok," Claudius said, as he lay in a hospital bed with his wife, next to his declining father's room, after surviving an assassination attempt. His comlink began to beep, but he ignored it, choosing instead to give his wife his full attention. Far away on Esseles his youngest daughter, Drusilla, had purchased a yacht and drained a small fortune from his accounts. He was powerless to do anything about it. "My father is a tough old bastard. He will get through this," he vowed to her, before placing another kiss upon her. "I love you. I am blessed to be here with you," he said to her, before dimming the lights in the room. It had been an awful day ... one which they had barely survived.

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