Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:3:1) in the Essesia system: Esseles (New Calamar: Claudius Rodney's estate).
Grand Moff Claudius Rodney and Commander Sierra Rodney.

Well, Sierra had dug her grave a good sixteen feet under at this point. Her grandiose promises to Jelena were potentially about to bite her in the rear end, which is exactly why the girl's impromptu shopping trip had taken so long. Deciding the best route to come at Claudius was difficult. There wasn't a piece of sheer lingerie on Esseles that would derail him from the truth: Sierra had gone her own direction. After making up a list of potential furniture purchases, the girls arrived back at the estate. "Wish me luck... If I don't come back, I want my funeral to be as awkward as possible. Strip me down and serve the finest food on my body while playing upbeat cantina songs." She demanded to her best friend, veering off towards the makeshift office where she was bound to find her husband.

Into the abyss she moved. "Hi honey." Her stomach lurched sideways, then performed an incredible cartwheel that would have won medals. "How are you?" She asked, removing her thin jacket as she approached him. "I saw Jelena turn into Drusilla just briefly today. If I wake up with night terrors later, just remind me we're a few years off from embarking on that adventure." Upon reaching him, she bent down and kissed him on the lips. Her psychology background said disagreements were natural, and arguing was healthy. She needed to be upfront with him about the apartment search.

Claudius was neck deep in datapads in a desperate, but ultimately futile, attempt to discover what Arden Zevrin was up to. The always pleasant distraction of his new wife prompted him to look up, but unfortunately caused the pile of precariously placed datapads to topple over. "No matter," he said to her, as he rose from his seat, and circled around the desk to greet her. "I am ... I am overwhelmed," he said, as he took both of her hands into his, and greeted her with a kiss on each cheek. "Was she that much of a diva?" he asked her, always suspecting deep down she had it in her. Afte rall, she was a Lady. "More than a few, thankfully. More than a few," he said, before he released his grasp on her and led her towards the window. From the perch they could look down at the city of the New Calamar with some of the buildings he selectively clearly identified. "So which did she choose?" he asked, as he plopped down on the window seat and looked up at her, eagerly waiting for a reply.

She watched his carefully stacked datapads fall. He needed her. She wasn't afraid to commit the rest of the evening to playing catch up with him. "I see that. Never fear. I'll help you." It was part of being Team Sierradius. Her hands squeezed his affectionately. "There was foot stomping. I saw a tear or two. Regardless, it wasn't bad. I think the worst part was the nasty realtors." Sweet, sweet relief. Drusilla would be presented with only the greatest of choices, unless she married immediately. These things were horrifying to think about.

She drifted with him towards the window. The building Jelena had selected was barely visible. Sierra could see its blue roof sticking out individually from the other drab colored ones. She stood in front of him, then looked down into his eyes. Sigh. "We ran into some problems with the Empire approved selections." She reported. "The alien xenophobia is becoming worse. One particularly vile realtor told us that our *slobbering*, *disgusting* Squib daughter did not belong in the building. This woman spoke those words to my face." Sierra settled herself on the window seat in front of him. She looked like she was getting angry again.

"Foot stomping?" Claudius asked, with a soft laugh. "I wish I had been there to see *that*," he told her, as he seemed genuinely happy by his wife and daughter potentially bonding during their apartment hunt. "What kind of problems? Xenophobia?" he asked, repeating her words, as he had tried to come to terms with it. "It must have been an isolated innocent. Give me the woman's name. I shall have her relieved of her position," he said, angrily, as he hated the way some chose to ignorantly treat his daughter. "I tell you, I have seen this before," he said to her, frowning slightly, as suddenly his mood and demeanor changed. He broke eye contact with her and instead looked out the window. "Ewwiekewwieikkie was not with you, was she?" he asked, almost afraid of the answer. He trembled slightly, but noticeably.

Sierra snickered. It had been a good bonding session with Jelena. They were rekindling their friendship, which made Sierra massively happy. "Oh, I'll give you her name. She was kind enough to hand me a business card after she spouting her sickening bull shit." From which she produced from her messenger bag, positioned at the front of her body now. "I'm not certain it was an isolated incident. Ewwiekewwieikkie was not with us. We touched on the subject because of the apartment's front page. Look," she scooted closer to him. The second time she reached into her sack, she withdrew her datapad. She pulled up the first listing that Claudius had given her. First, she showed him where the alien-free premises rules were listed. "Wait," she prodded the number which instantly sent the call to a real estate agent. The first person who picked up was a pompous sounding male. "Hello, I'm browsing your website. I have a Squib daughter, is that..."

"No! We don't accept *those* kinds!" The man snapped. "Humans only. Squibs are a liability." Sierra hung up on the man. She quickly pulled up the apartment site to the woman who had struck a chord inside of Sierra. She used the woman's card to call her directly.

"Gem Xess speaking," the woman said, sounding polite. "Hello. I visited with my daughter earlier. Can you remind me of what you said about her Squib sister?" On the other side of the line, speech turned colorful. Gem Xess remembered *exactly* who she was speaking to. Sierra's blue eyes flickered up to her husband. She was building up evidence against these Empire approved locations.

Claudius was sitting on the opposite side of the room as he listened to Sierra's interaction with the realtors. He was furious. His face was turning red, and his hands unconsciously balled into fists. He took hold of one of the crystal glasses that he no longer used, as Sierra had curtailed his drinking, and threw it against the wall. He was seething with rage and quickly moved towards his wife, taking the communication device from her hand and terminating the call. "Okay. Okay," he said, his voice trembling, and his body shaking. She had painted a terrible and vivid picture of what exactly was going on down in the city. "So ... so did she find a place?" he asked, bringing his hand up to his temple, and massaging it lightly. He suddenly had a splitting headache. He attempted to get the conversation back on a more positive topic to calm his mood.

The sound of the glass shattering in the office seemed so loud. She idly pondered if Jelena was picking out the perfect cantina band for her funeral. "Sorry..." She was apologetic for all the scum that lived on their planet. She would use her anger later on to have Gem Xess removed her her current place of employment. For now, her husband was shaking and furious. She rose back to her feet, wrapping her arms around his waist loosely. "Yes, she did. It's not on the Empire approved list, but it isn't a shit hole either. There are advantages of her not living in one of these places where Arden's eyes can surely reach." She said, lifting a hand up to place on the back of his head. She cradled him against her.

"Look outside. Do you see that little blue roof? It's the only one." She turned her head away from him. "That's the one. I picked it out for her myself. There's security measures, but not so much that Jelena will feel strangled. They are accepting of all beings. Best of all, it's located right near the shopping district. She'll be close to everything she wants to do without having to worry about the girls visiting. I think it's a win-win. We can go and look at it together."

When Sierra revealed that Jelena had selected an apartment off the list he was not sure how to react. "Not on the list? Then it's not safe," he reasoned, but the comfort of her hand on the back of his head kept him from getting too bent out of shape. He looked outside as instructed, but the little blue roof was barely noticeable. He moved to grab hold of a pair of macrobinoculars he used to watch the space traffic. He stepped out onto the balcony, placing it over his eyes, as she looked down into the city of New Calamar. "That one?!" he exclaimed, as he zoomed in to the maximum focus of the device. Still it was barely visible. "I don't think it's safe..." he worried, as he lowered the macrobinoculars, and turned to look at Sierra with a frown. Now that he had his daughter restored to him all he could think about was making sure nothing ever happened to her again.

He was handling it well so far. There were no explosions. Frankly, Sierra could understand where he was coming from. Losing Jelena in the fashion that he had would cause any parent to move into overprotective overdrive. She met with him on the balcony where he attempted to see the apartment. "That one." She confirmed. Sierra watched all the worry play over her husband's face. "Come here." He didn't get a choice. His petite, yet bossy, wife didn't take *no* for an answer. She removed the macrobinoculars from his hands and persuaded him back inside. She settled on the window seat sideways, creating a place where she could seat him between her legs. Her arms sealed the deal, wrapping loosely around his neck. Claudius was stuck. "Why don't you think it's safe?" She asked him, considering his feelings first.

Claudius allowed himself to be led by his wife, not giving any protest. When she sat him between her legs he suddenly forgot what they were talking about. He blinked several times in silence before he heard her question and got back on topic. "There are Rebels in our midst. Plus opportunists like Zara's sister. The list of people who would harm Jelena is so long," he said, sounding exasperated, as his facial features sunk. "The apartments on the list I gave you were under Imperial protection. The staff ... the residents ... all Imperial loyalists," he explained, as he moved to place a hand upon her for support. "She did not like any of them? I am sure we could get Ewwiekewwieikkie permission to be there," he said, desperately grasping at straws.

Behind him, Sierra listened intently to all of his concerns. "I know, I know. It's enough that we have the Rebels." And then there was Zara's sister, a predicament which she felt bad about. The betrayal itself had harmed the young pregnant wife of her brother. "It's hard to send her out into the world at a time like this. We'd like her to be among Imperials, but she won't be happy that way." She squeezed him. " It isn't ideal, I understand. Jelena is dying to assert her independence. I think your relationship with her will continue to grow if you give her a little bit of slack. It's better that she's in the city. She's still so close to home. We'll see her frequently. Come see it with me. If you aren't pleased with what you see, I'll take her out again tomorrow and continue the search."

"I don't care if she's happy, Sierra. I care that she's safe," Claudius said to her, starting to become increasingly anxious. "Twice she's been abducted by the Rebellion. Twice," he lamented, hanging his head in shame at his failure to watch over her. "And since I paid for the ransom of Zara, every criminal opportunist out there knows that if they get their hands on Jelena we'll pay to get her back," he said, wondering if he made a terrible mistake paying the ransom for his sister-in-law. "Maybe you could have the ISB investigate the tenants, the staff, and we can place additional security in the area?" he asked her, perking up slightly with his inventive ideas on how to rectify the situation.

It was becoming increasingly more complicated to find the middle ground. It wasn't like she couldn't understand Claudius' side of was that she understood Jelena's as well. Her chin rested on his head while she grasped for a resolution. "No. No ISB." Sierra rejected the idea right away. "Maybe I can do that on my own time, but not through the ISB. We will be sending a red flag up for that goddamn woman to see." And he knew which one she was talking about. "This is a hard situation, Claudius. If I could lock her up in her bedroom with the knowledge that she was content with it, then I would. I don't want anything to happen again either. At the same point, she expects us to make a move like that. If we place additional security in the area and she finds out, are you prepared to see her flee? She will be furious."

Claudius lowered his face into his eyes, rubbing them furiously, as he let out a tremendous roar of frustration. Gradually he lowered his hands, leaning backwards, and arching his head skywards. "What do I do, Sierra?" he finally asked her, giving up, as he had been completely overwhelmed. "I do not want to lose my daughter ... *again*," he pleaded with her, desperately. Suddenly it seemed as he was inexperienced youth and she was the seasoned adult. He had been a father for 19 years, and she had yet to give birth to their first child, but he now found himself totally relying on her. He no longer understood his daughter. He did not know what to do. He was stuck in a terrible situation, crippled with indecision, unable to act. He knew what he wanted, and now Sierra had explained what Jelena wanted ... they could not have been further apart.

Sierra had become a parent literally overnight. It was hard to determine what was right and wrong for her older stepchildren. A part of her also felt worried for Jelena's safety, while a grander part of her wanted her friend to live a good life without the Empire looming over her shoulder and watching every move. She looked down at her worn husband. "We compromise, my love." She finally said. "We'll allow Jelena to live in the apartment of her choice. However, I will research deeply into those she's living around. If there's a reason to believe that additional security is a necessity, then... We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. We have to give her the illusion of space in order to keep her protected and close." Sierra closed her eyes and held him tight. Her hands brushed over his heart. He was still holding too much to himself. She wanted to alleviate him. "Is there anything I can do to make you feel a fraction better about all of this?"

"Make it your top priority," Claudius said to his wife, relenting her and letting her get her way. He clung to her, afraid that if he let go he would float away into oblivion. "Should we have a surveillance device?" he asked her, sounding a bit like Arden Zevrin. He was paranoid with a genuine concern that someone would come along and snatch her up. "I just don't want anything to happen to her again. She's been ... she's been through so much," he said, wishing he could have kept her young, innocent, in an impenetrable force field for all time. "Just make sure nothing happens to her. Please..." he pleaded with her, before he lay back against the window to attempt and get some rest. This had been overwhelming experience for him. He was not cut out to be a father. He was used to simply issuing orders that were clearly followed by obedient subordinates. Children were not subordinates ... as much as he wished they were.

"Of course," she responded, sounding more like she was taking an order. Family was her top priority at all times. "I will allow for a couple of discrete outside devices." Her hand touched his cheek. "I'm going to do my best, Claudius. We'll get this apartment debacle figured out. Rest. I'll keep you company." She didn't want the universe to take Jelena from them again. Ultimately, she preferred Jelena hating her and being safe over anything else. Sierra tucked a pillow beneath her husband's head and covered him with a blanket. It would have been lovely to curl up as his little spoon and drift away, but Sierra Rodney had important things to get done! She sat at her husband's desk, diving into her work immediately.

Sometime later, a notification arrived for her on her datapad from Gaius Rodney. It took her a moment to recall which Rodney he was. Her brother in explosives, she supposed. There was an audible groan from the young woman followed by her face colliding with her hands. Julius Rodney was back at a medcenter. A mass message to the family detailed out that his condition was worsening again. Sierra supposed old age was weighing down on him. She hadn't seen the old pervert since her wedding. Through parted fingers, she looked at her husband. Mother fucker.

Just when Claudius thought Sierra had worked everything out concerning Jelena and the apartment, her mood suddenly soured as she got back to work. He looked at her, furrowing his brow, as he tried to figure out what it was by the expression on her face. "Have the Rebels struck again?" he asked, fearing the worst, as his distance from the command ship has lessened his tactical grip on the situation. He rose slowly, uneasily, and began to move towards her to learn more about why she was looking the way she looked. "What is it?" he asked, stopping dead in his tracks before he got any further. He could only bare so much.

She was going to vomit. Their life had become an insane roller coaster of dramatic up-down motions. Had they not had each other, then it was questionable how all this insanity would have played out. Death for both of them seemed like a real possibility. Before she could respond, she quickly ducked her head into his garbage can. Her head was shaking. No. Not the Rebels. Right now, it was attack of the Bruce. She tried to regain her composition quickly. Her hand clutched over her stomach uncomfortably. "Father. He's back in the medcenter. Gaius claims that his condition is worse than before." Sierra rose quickly to support her husband.

"It never rains, but it pours," Claudius observed to Sierra, as he wrapped his arms around her tenderly. "We must go to him. I'm sorry," he said to her, knowing how difficult his father could be. He wondered if perhaps this was all some stunt to get him back on Delaya so she could receive another pregnancy pep talk. "Please. Make the necessary arrangements," he said, as he backed away from her to take a much needed seat on the sofa. The room began to spin as another tragedy seemed to be on the horizon. "Do we take the girls?" he asked her, lowering his head into the palm of his head, as it suddenly felt like it weighed hundreds of pounds. "...and do we tell him you're pregnant?" he asked, as he considered all of the decisions that needed to be made. They could not have a simple quiet day.

A pregnancy pep talk sounded much better than Julius' death. He was extraordinarily good at making people feel awkward. She nodded her head. There was no doubt in her mind that they were now headed back to Delaya. "I'll take care of everything," she told him reassuringly. This needed to be as pain free at it could for him. She made her way over towards the sofa and weakly planted her body next to his. Hand in hand, Sierra prepared themselves to face who knows what. "Not yet. Let's see him in person, then we'll determine how.... How he's actually doing." She didn't want to bring the girls to Delaya if this was just a baby call. It sounded like she was speculating as well. Her father-in-law had weeks to think of new, creative ways to bring his eldest son back home. The second question caused for a longer pause. So few people knew about the baby at the moment. Sierra felt determined to keep her baby boy safe. Even she had to consider the idea that Julius might truly die this time around. "I don't know. Do you think he'd keep it to himself? I imagined waiting as long as possible, or simply showing up with a baby and pretending like it's some big surprise." They had managed to keep the information between themselves, Pilaq, and Arden.

When Sierra asked him if he thought his father would keep the news of her pregnancy to himself he began to laugh hysterically. Finally something to lighten the mood! He turned his head towards her, giving her a broad and cheerful smile that seemed to change his entire disposition. "My dear, my father has never kept anything to himself in his entire life. The news of a potential heir would spread from his lips to every corner of the known galaxy in seconds," he explained to her, shaking his head in dismay. "I will support whatever decision you make, as I have come to do so many times," he said to her, with a firm nod of his head. "If we tell him, he will tell everyone. If we don't tell him, we risk him dying without knowing the succession is secure. Neither outcome is ideal," he explained to her, as seemed to be the case with most of their decisions these days.

She should have known better. This was Julius Rodney, the man who, reportedly, had nearly died while holding a recording of Marcus' wife's ultrasound. "No! That's not so! He kept his affair *very* hush, hush!" Sierra couldn't help but smile back at her husband. Sometimes it was hard to believe that Julius had any sort of a hand in his creation. Her head rolled. The news would explode. "I'm sure that he would also write our reproductive organs a very heartfelt thank you speech. You're playing the politic card, hubby dearest." He wasn't picking sides. "Neither outcome is ideal," she repeated. Did she allow the old man to die with uncertainty or expose their child to the spotlight? Now she was the one leaning on her husband for support.

"Not yet, Claudius. We can't tell him yet. Unless the situation is just entirely dire, we have to keep it a secret. Our boy is still so tiny and fragile. I don't want to exploit him, *us*, to whatever evils may come out of the cracks to ensure he does not see the light of day. I love Bruce so much already," she let the name she'd been considering for their baby slip from her lips. It wasn't traditional for the Rodney family. She suddenly felt very embarrassed. Jelena, Drusilla, and Ewwiekewwieikkie had already drawn many of her motherly instincts to the surface. Her heart was already all tangled up in little Bruce Rodney.

"Oh that affair. Don't get me started on that," Claudius said, as he lowered his head, but then his mind quickly shifted to the bastard's daughter Callista who was just in the next room. "Do you want my father to give a speech praising your uterus on HoloNet News?" he asked her, snickering softly, as he imagined his father certainly doing such a thing. "Very well. We shall keep the news to ourselves," he said, as he rose from his seat and moved swiftly towards her. "One day our son will have to manage this family. I hope he does a better job than I," he said, as he leaned forward, and placed a loving kiss upon her lips. He wrapped his arms tightly around both of them, savoring the moment of solemnity before the difficult trip home to Delaya to discover the true plight of his ailing father.

"A speech, and a week of celebrations dedicated to my uterus will do." Sierra giggled. It wouldn't so funny if she thought Julius wouldn't actually go for it. "You seriously don't give yourself enough credit," she returned the kiss. When you were dealt a bad set of cards, you simply did your best to keep afloat. In holding him, Sierra found the same realization which she always did; everything was going to be okay. Life was going to throw them this way and that, but, ultimately, they'd stay standing. She was no in rush to leave his arms. "I love you. You should relax for as long as you can. I'll get us ready." She promised, intending to bring some of his work along so she could keep him on top of all of his duties. There was no telling how long they'd have to stay on Delaya.

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