Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:8:7) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Germanicus Rodney's undersea lair).
Duke Marcus Rodney and Duchess Zara Rodney.

"I ... I feel like he's watching us," Marcus said to Zara, as he stood in the undersea lair they had discovered, face to face with the sea monster that lurked within the lake and separated only by a few inches of transparisteel. He felt as if every step he took was trailed by the eyes of the hulking beast, which was seemingly floating in front of the viewport. He and his wife had been exploring the structure since his brother's family departed the planet. In the back of his mind he wondered why Bruce had been taken there and neither of his children had. He wanted answers, and fortunately he was married to one of the best procurers of data in the galaxy.

What happened at the blessing of the Rodney children was more than a little strange. Like her husband, Zara wanted to know more. She could sense that what happened rocked both Sierra and Claudius, and had purposely not pressed them for answers because of it. As soon as they were gone, Zara's curiosity could wait no longer. She stood in the ancient structure that assumedly belonged to Germanicus and Raeni Rodney. She peeked over her shoulder at the sea monster. "He *is* watching us... and it's creepy." She picked up an old book that creaked when she opened it. "Now that your brother's gone, we can talk about all that insanity. What was up with that? Did you see Sir Tentacles grab Bruce?!" Of course he had, but it didn't make it any less shocking. "And what was up with that hologram? You said that you and Claudius were taken here when you were young too. Did anything like that happen?" She questioned him. (D)

"Most certainly not. I surely would have remembered if I was attacked by a sea monster and dragged beneath the waves," Marcus told his wife, as he went through the dusty old room. He imagined it must have been nice in its day, and perhaps was worth fixing up, particularly with how close it was to their chalet. "I'm not sure why the creature grabbed Bruce, but fortunately he did not seem hurt," he explained to her, as he moved towards the viewport to look closer at the sea monster. "There is more going on here than I can possibly understand," he explained to his wife, as he got his face close to the creature. He had always wondered what it looked like in the months he had battled it over his herd of tauntauns. "Germanicus said the sea monster would identify the one destined to succeed him, and it chose Bruce ... not Darrus," he said, before performing his family's trademark pout.

He had a fair point. Zara hadn't been the one dragged underwater, but she would remember the event for the rest of her life. She set the book down and continued her search. She wondered what would happen if she brought Nana down to the lair. Perhaps it was the piece needed to jog her memory. Zara strolled towards Marcus. They were closer to Sir Tentacles than they had ever been. "It doesn't really make sense. He was talking about the Duchy, right? Darrus will be the one to succeed then. He should have been chosen...not that I wanted to watch our son get nabbed by Sir Tentacles." There had been generalized panic when Bruce was taken. It wasn't just Claudius and Sierra who thought the boy was a goner. It was *everyone*. "I wonder how Bruce made it here too. Claudius and Sierra were down here for awhile. I bet they found something. Let's go check upstairs!" As she spoke, she took her pouting husband's hand and led him up a small set of stars to the area of the lair where all the bedrooms were huddled together. "Woah, look!" She said, running towards what was obviously a child's room. There were still toys on the ground. It looked like the owners of the lair might return any minute, and the child would continue their games. "Marcus, there's *two* beds! This must be Desdemona and Romulus' room."

"What else could he have been talking about?" Marcus asked, now believe that his brother was keeping secrets. "Yes. If anyone should have been chosen it should have been Darrus," he bitterly confessed to his wife as he moved with her up into the living quarters. Suddenly he found himself in the twin's room, which she deduced belonged to Desdemona and Romulus. "It looks like they left in a hurry. Or planned to come back, but never did," he said, as he moved over towards the bed and cautiously reached out to touch it. It was like they had entered a time capsule. It was a very eerie feeling.

"I don't know! The hologram was pretty elaborate and the sea monster picked the wrong baby. It doesn't add up. Sierra and Claudius were acting all weird too." She supposed they always acted a little weird. It was all the Imperial nonsense in their heads. Inside of the room, Zara bent down and picked up what looked to be a handmade stuffed animal of Sir Tentacles himself. Zara showed her husband. "That monster really has been around forever." She commented. It was all so strange. "Do you know what happened to them? Like, was Raeni murdered or something? All this stuff reminds me of a HoloNet crime series. No one has lived here in a bagillion centuries, but, at the same time, it looks lived in. Like they might waltz through the door and continue doing their thing."

Before Marcus could make another bitter, jealous comment about his brother's family she found a plush of the sea monster. "That's for our children," he declared, sounding very selfish at that moment. "I wish I could tell you more, Zara, but I really don't know. There is a list of Dukes going back to the beginning, but all that tells us is that Germanicus' son Claudius succeeding him," he said, as he looked around at other things he could give to his children. "Should we try and reclaim this structure or should we fix it..." he began, and then he froze, as he spotted the giant eyeball looking at them. "Zara!" he yelled, as the sea monster had followed them and continued to watch over them. It was almost as if the structure was designed so that the creature could easily watch over every room.

Zara tucked the plush in her arm. She thought the twins might like many of the toys in the room. "It's okay. You have lots of family history and that was a long, long, lonnngg time ago. I'll keep working with Nana in hopes that she'll be able to tell us." She liked the idea of fixing up the structure and using it. The Governor had no idea that this place existed. It was the one place on the whole planet where they were truly hidden from him. Should anything go wrong, they could retreat here. "Gah!!" She shrieked. There was a single, huge eyeball staring. "Okay, if we fix up this place we need to invest in curtains. I'd be terrified to wake up to *that* thing watching me. Let's come back and collect some of these toys for the twins later." She departed from the bedroom and continued into another, only this one was entirely different from the children's room. It was empty. The flooring was hard. The walls seemed to be made of a different material, and there were strange indentations in them. "What the heck is this?" And, of course, there was a viewport to enable the sea monster's voyeurism addiction.

"Definitely curtains," Marcus said, as he moved with her to explore the other rooms. The room they stepped into was instantly recognizable to him. It could have only served one purpose. "This room looks like it was meant for training. Perhaps this is where the Alderaan Guard trained to protect Germanicus and Raeni," he theorized, incorrectly, as he moved deeper into the room. The marks on the wall looked like they were cut, rather than the result of blasters, but he knew of nothing that could cut through walls like this. It was all very strange and, before too long, they were being watched again. It was as if the creature was defending his home.

"Or maaybbbeeeee Germanicus was as much trouble as you! Maybe he was a crazy bounty hunter! Or a pirate! Maybe there's like a secret society of male Rodneys who have second lives. *Ahh*! Marcus! He's back!" Zara slowly inched behind him to hide from the beast. "You're being really weird, Sir Tentacles." She crept out from behind her husband. "Hm..." She approached the wall. Zara ran her fingers along the cuts. "These are weird. I've been around a lot of weapon in my day. None of them I can think of would cause marks like this. Anything vibroblade wouldn't cut so smoothly through the durasteel..." She didn't give Marcus much time to process the room, for she continued on through the house to the master bedroom which, of course, had a viewport. Sir Tentacles quickly shifted to watch them. "Until we invest in a bunch of curtains, there will be *no* sexy times here." Zara proclaimed. At least Auntie Mae's cameras couldn't find them here.

"Hmm. The Dread Pirate Rodney..." Marcus said, as he began to make up adventures for his famed ancestor. "I kind of liked the idea of being the only member of the family to pursue a career as a bounty hunter," he said, again sounding a bit rueful, as he pouted at the thought of not being *as* special. And then, predictably, the sea monster was back to watch over them. He again refocused on the cuts, allowing his finger to run across them. Just the thought that he was walking in the footsteps with his legendary ancestors was giving him goosebumps. "Agreed. I'm adventurous as any man, but he does not get to see," he said, as he extended his hand and began to give the sea monster a finger wag. There was one thing they had not discussed yet, and he was hesitant to bring it up. "Did you ... did you notice all the animals?" he asked, as suddenly the chalet had reclaimed its reputation as a haven for wildlife and a hunter's paradise.

She, too, could instantly imagine the adventures of Pirate Rodney. She thought it might be fun to tell the twins those kinds of stories before bed. Though, they could easily influence one, or both, of the twins to seek out a pirating life. She wrapped her arm around Marcus' waist and squeezed. "Aw, don't get jealous. I bet you're the only bounty hunter in the family. You're probably right. They trained the guard down here. Maybe Germanicus was really into combat and wanted to make sure his guards were amazing." She giggled while he wagged his finger at the sea monster. There was nothing that could turn her off quite like a gigantic sea creature watching her intimate times with her husband. "I did. Did you notice that Sir Tentacles hasn't eaten them all? He's been on his best behavior." Zara enjoyed the new burst in wildlife. There were so many animals...animals which she was determined to protect from poachers...and Governor Arundel. "Do you think them coming back had anything to do with Bruce and the sea monster insanity? I know, it sounds like a crazy parallel. After what happened the other day, nothing seems impossible. ...Wait! I remembered something Nana told me once! She said that Germanicus and Raeni were warriors... whatever that means."

Bruce ... again, Marcus thought to himself, regarding Zara's suspicions that he had something to do with it. "I do not know. There is something that neither Claudius nor Sierra are telling us about Bruce," he admitted to her, when the conversation once again shifted to his ancestors. "Warriors? Well that would certainly explain some of the damage in this room..." he said, as he led her away from the viewport just in case the sea monster could *hear* them as well as see them. He would not put anything past that foul creature. "I don't remember ever hearing about a war. Alderaan was always peaceful," he said, as he brought up his hand up to scratch at his head. "I am convinced more than ever that Nana has the answers we seek. Don't give up," he said to her, as he lowered his head and placed an affectionate kiss upon her lips. "If anyone can gather the data to solve this mystery it's you," he told her, as the kiss broke and he smiled down at her.

"Should we go to Esseles and interrogate them?!" She regretted the question as soon as she asked it. She didn't want to give Claudius another panic attack. That ordeal had scared her more than she was willing to admit. She turned her back on the sea creature. It had made her uncomfortable long enough. She was ready to collect up some of the toys and head back to the chalet where Nana was taking care of Sia and Darrus. She paused to share a loving kiss with him. "You're so sweet, Marcus. I love you. Maybe I'll try to ask Nana more pointed questions. We can bring some of this stuff to the chalet. It could jog her memory. I wish we could take her back to Alderaan..." It was hard to grasp that the Empire possessed something capable of wiping out a planet. It had happened. Though the Squibs were busily cleaning up the debris, the debris left in people's hearts and minds would never go away. She grumbled under her breath. "Do you ever want to slap Claudius when you see him wearing his Imperial uniform?" She asked him, leading him back to the twins room.

"Yes. Let's bring everything we can," Marcus said to her, as he brought a hand up to stroke the side of her face. "Not him though. He stays!" he declared, as his head looked to flash a steely gaze at the sea monster. "I wish we could *all* go to Alderaan," he said, as he suddenly grew very sad. "Sia, Darrus, and Bruce are the first generation of the family who will never know an Alderaan," he told her, as he lowered his head, and placed his forehead on her shoulder. "Whenever he is wearing that uniform I just try not to look," he admitted, as they proceeded back into the twins room. What a different place the galaxy was when this lair was last inhabited. It was a better place for everyone then.

"Ew. I don't want him!! He's lucky I didn't have him sent off to some other planet." Now she couldn't. It seemed that Sir Tentacles was part of the family, or a heirloom of some sort. The mood became gloomy at the mention of Alderaan. Ultimately, it was the planet's destruction that brought her to Marcus in the first place. She frowned, pausing to cuddle him against her petite body. "I wish too.. Finding out all this stuff about your family has made me feel a little.. jealous, i guess. Or maybe I'm just sad." Zara admitted in his arms. "After my parents and my siblings were executed in Coruscant, I took everything I could when I was smuggled to Alderaan to live with Kain Burgan. That's the family friend who made chronos. I mean, I hoarded *everything*. I even took everybody's clothes." She laughed. "Now there's nothing but a chrono. I don't even know anything about my family's history. I was so young when it happened. As loving as my parents were, you can't classify them as ‘good' parents. Our children are never going to know who my parents were. They'd been gone awhile when we'll be five years in a few months. I'd say my brother was the only decent one of us, and he's gone." Zara explained. She didn't frequently talk about that time in her life. Needless to say, it was painful.

"Do you want to delve into the history of the Ta'ems?" Marcus asked her, as she revealed her sentiments. "I have to admit there has been awful lot of 'Rodney' talk lately," he said to her, as he moved with her to continue moving about the undersea structure. "That chrono brought us together. That is everything," he reassured her, as suddenly they were in something that seemed like it was once a kitchen. "You'll be able to tell them stories about your parents, and your brother ... maybe not your sister," he added, as he tightened his arms around her. "Our children are half Ta'ems. We can't let them forget that," he said to her, before moving to explore the kitchen. He moved to open the freezer and let out a century of dead air that was filled with a mist. As it cleared there was something he never could have expected. Purple potato ice cream.

It was everything. Had Zara not felt the chrono was so important, she would have never come to the castle on that fateful night. The happy memory brought a smile back to her face while she spoke of darker times. No one could ever take that chrono away from her. She hadn't decided if she wanted it to be saved for future generations, or if she wanted to be buried with it eventually. She always knew exactly where it was. "Not my sister.." Zara agreed. "I don't want them to forget that. Sometimes it's hard for me to remember everything behind the execution. I was twelve. I witnessed it. The first year after, that's all I could think about. It started to make everything else disappear." It prompted her to begin thieving and slicing. Her illegal activities gave her time outside of her troubled head. "I think it would be cool to find out more about the Ta'ems. I don't know *how*. My family lived on Coruscant forever. I'm sure I'm still wanted there. I can't go back to search for information. I've tried looking on the HoloNet." She explained as she perched herself on top of the kitchen counter. She watched Marcus open the freezer. She pinched her nose in preparation for the worst smell ever. Instead, she saw something *very* interesting. "*What*! *Noway*!" She noticed the purple potato on the front of the carton of ice cream. "*Century old purple potato ice cream*!?" She suddenly felt very close with the founding Duke and Duchess of the family. "I wonder if Duchess Raeni craved that ice cream too. Wouldn't that be funny?"

"Zara Ta'em may have been wanted on Coruscant, but now you are Duchess Zara of Delaya and I am sure you would be welcomed there," Marcus reassured her, as she began moving through the ice cream. "If you want we can take a trip there. It might be good to get away for a while after all that's happened, before you get *too* pregnant to enjoy something like that. You could research your family," he said, as he moved deeper into the freezer. "It's not just purple potato ice cream," he said, as he began pulling out all of the flavors that Auntie Mae made famous over the past year, although none of them had topical names. They were, however, unmistakable the original classic flavors, including the one that was named Rum Raeni in the first Duchess' honor. There were mysteries around every corner.

She bit down on her lower lip. She was nervous about going to Coruscant. The time she went with Marcus to obtain food for the people had been the first time she returned home since the incident. It had taken everything in her not to cry or blow their whole mission over sentiment. They were so new in their relationship at that point that she wasn't prepared to tell him all about the messed up parts of her life. Over a year later, Marcus knew her better than she knew herself. She gulped. "Okay... We'll take a trip there. I'm scared though. It's been so long. Our trip there was short and sneaky. This trip will focus on some of the not so pretty parts of my life. I hope all Ta'ems aren't horrible people. Maybe Luna's evil is a birth defect or something." She briefly glanced down at her flat tummy. Baby Girl Rodney resided there. Though Zara had yet to show, in her mind, she imagined herself getting as large as she had with the twins. She lifted her head to look in the freezer. There were all kinds of ice creams in there. She recognized them as the flavors Auntie Mae produced. There was even a rainbow sherbet flavor. "Did Raeni and Germanicus have a Squib too? Lookit all this ice cream... It's just like the ones at Auntie Mae's..." Zara looked at Marcus. "Is she stalking our family?"

"Don't worry, Zara. Nana will protect you," Marcus told her, before laughing slightly and placing a kiss upon her. "I'll be at your side the entire time. I promise. Your children will be with you too," he pledged to her, as his hands never left her. He wanted her to feel safe and protected at all times. "I believe they had a Twi'lek," he explained to her, vaguely, as he tried to remember more of what he could about them. "I would not put it past her," he said, shaking his head, as he moved her from the kitchen to begin their ascent back up to civilization with the toys they had collected. He missed their children already.

She giggled. How could Zara mourn the loss of her old family when she had such a wonderful new family? Marcus and their twins made her so happy. She was glad that she was pregnant again. Their family would continue to grow. "Thank you, my love. I appreciate you guys being there for me. That will make everything much easier." She closed the freezer and moved with him towards the ladder leading outside. "A Twi'lek? I wonder if that's who ‘Magnus' is. When I was working on Nana after Luna destroyed her, she started yelling that name repeatedly." She explained as she began to head back up to the surface. She moved onto the next topic: the twins. "I think Sia is getting really close to crawling. I've seen her trying really hard lately." Zara was known to have crawling lessons with the babies. She loved getting on the ground and playing with them. "I read an article on the HoloNet that said this time in the babies' lives is really important. If you talk to them a lot, studies say they'll be smarter." She rose next to a baby nerf. "Aw, hi little guy! Stay away from there." She herded the little nerf away from the rocks where the access point to the lair was hidden.

"Hmm. I've never heard of a 'Magnus' Rodney," Marcus admitted, which meant if there *was* a Magnus Rodney whatever happened meant the name was never passed down through the centuries. "Crawling? Already? Looks like Nana is going to have her hands full," he said, joking, as he knew that they would not rely on the nanny droid entirely, but he did concede she was a blessing. "Alright. I'll talk to them. I'll regale them with tales of my early bounty hunting adventures," he said, proudly, as he puffed out his chest. But, as he broke the surface he saw that she was more focused on the baby nerf and not hearing him. Of course, he thought to himself, as it seemed that the animals who had arrived for the ceremony had yet to migrate away. "Thank goodness Ewwiekewwieikkie and Melickielickie are not here," he said, as he looked across the plains to see thriving wildlife.

"Maybe it was just a malfunction. That poor droid is a million years old anyway." Zara was still listening ... sorta. She was thankful that the land had been restored. Slowly, it would begin to reflect the place Marcus knew growing up. His mention of their Squib nieces made her laugh. "They are a handful, aren't they? There's one thing I do miss..." A troublesome smile crept over Zara's lips. Suddenly, she pounced Marcus to the ground. Toys went flying *everywhere*, and there Zara was, acting even younger than seventeen. "Pounce party" She exclaimed from on top of him. She leaned toward to kiss him. Despite how hard it would be to find out about her family, she was happy to do it with Marcus. He truly was the perfect hubby.

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