Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:2:31) in the Essesia system: Esseles (New Calamar: Claudius Rodney's estate) and Retributor.
Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, Commander Sierra Rodney, and Doctor Pilaq Tohan.

It had been the most dramatic twenty-four hours of Sierra's life. She could recall crying all the way home from Delaya, passing out fully clothed on her bed for a few hours, then rising and having to live through a new day. The hardest part was pretending like Jelena wasn't potentially alive and returning to work as normal. The Rebels had a twenty-four hour span in which to decide if they would trade Jelena Rodney for Iyah Xergo, or Commander Xergo would be executed at the hands of none other than Sierra. She had relayed all information to Claudius. She told him about meeting Kerrie, seeking out Marcus, the video, and getting the ball rolling on the deal. They both knew that they could not mention *anything* on the Retributor. When Sierra left home that morning, Callista and Ewwiekewwieikkie were already awake and playing together. She wondered if she should stay home to watch them. Was Drusilla the best person to leave in charge..?

Yet, the day passed by without a hitch. Sierra sat at her desk with a strong inability to concentrate. She felt so unlike herself. Her emotions were broken. It was like someone was slamming her tear response button inside of her head. She didn't need to obsess about it long. Sierra was a woman who knew her body well. She was aware that Aunt Flow had not come to visit within the appropriate time period. Given the stressers in her life, it was possible that Aunt Flow wasn't coming this month, or that her Auntie F wanted her to sweat it before arriving at the worst possible time. Sierra was aware and had opted to purchase an at home pregnancy test which boasted it could determine pregnancy several days *before* the missed period. It also stated that it was the most technologically advanced thing she'd ever pee on. . . Weird. She excused herself to their private quarters at the first opportunity. In her mind, it was still a safe haven.

All it took was five minutes of waiting to change *everything*. Sierra paced within the bathroom, test seated on the counter. It displayed the hilt of a lightsaber that would ignite if the test was positive. If not, absolutely nothing would happen. With her face in her hands, she did her best not to peek until each of those five minutes disappeared. Finally, she stood over the counter and glanced downward. In front of her, the lightsaber's blade had ignited blood red. "Ohshit!" She knew it would happen *eventually*. She hadn't realized that Farrah continued to poison her, thus preparing her body for this. The timing was terrible with everything going on. However, Sierra smiled. She was *happy*.

But she had to know for sure before she delivered the information to her husband.

She detached and threw away the end of her pregnancy test, keeping only the result. Departing the bathroom, the first thing she did was summon Doctor Tohan to her private quarters. "Bring things..." She said vaguely into her comlink, hoping that Pilaq could read her mind. She seated herself on the couch, staring down at the pregnancy test. Claudius would be happy, she thought. This baby was not unwanted if it actually did exist. She hoped Doctor Tohan would be able to help her learn more.

Doctor Tohan was exhausted. The trip to Delaya had taken a physical and emotional toll on the octogenarian Ithorian physician. When the comm from Sierra arrived he wondered what could possibly have gone wrong *this* time. "On my way," he informed her, speaking with both of his large mouths that created a stereophonic manner of speech. He reached out for a bag containing most of his instruments in one hand, and grasped his walking stick with the other. Slowly and laboriously he made his way from the massive vessel's sickbay to the personal quarters of Sierra. Without waiting for permission to enter, he simply surged forth, being too old to waste any time waiting. "Is all well?" he asked her, as he began visually examining her with his two, large bulbous eyes. Taking care of the House of Rodney had become an arduous task as of late. A task that his age might soon force him to relinquish.

She felt *extremely* guilty for leaving Doctor Tohan on Delaya. He was her old friend and she valued him much more than that. When he arrived in a timely manner, she first started by apologizing to him. "I'm sorry to summon you up here. Something has come up. I can't risk any extra eyes seeing this. All is well. Perhaps too well." She reached out to him. One of her hands brushed over his while the other opened to reveal the positive pregnancy test. "I need our visit to stay off the record for now." She told him. If Zara had told him the story of Arden Zevrin, then he knew exactly why she wanted things to be hush, hush. "Can you confirm this? I only trust these at home tests so much. I don't want to tell Claudius if there's room for doubt. If you can tell me anything else, please do." She was desperate for help from her old friend. She squeezed his hand, then released it.

"I see you have been taking your medication," Doctor Tohan said, unable to resist the little dig at her expense. "Yes. I can investigate," he said, as he moved for his bag of medical supplies. Unfortunately, his grasp of the bag faltered and it fell to the ground, spilling its contents on the floor. He let out a dejected sigh as he attempted to bend down and gather them, but his knees ached and he could not reach. "I am sorry, Lady Sierra," he said, as he lowered his head in shame. Perhaps it was time for him to be replaced by a droid.

Sierra's face was instantly red. "Can't blame me. Let's face it, we needed all the help we could get." She smiled, preferring to make a joke out of the situation while being seriously embarrassed at the same time. The sounds of the supplies crashing to the floor felt so loud and alarming. Sierra sat up instantly, her hand patting his. "You have nothing to be sorry for, Doctor. Let me take care of it. It's the least I could do for abandoning you with Marcus," she preferred him much more than any droid. Pilaq was a friend, a close friend. She picked up the his bag, then began filling it with his supplies as she gathered them from the floor. "I appreciate you always being here for all of us. I'll want no other doctor should this test be true." She smiled at him. When she had finished plucking his supplies, she set them on the couch and offered him a seat next to her.

"It is good that you left me. I had to treat his jaw," Pilaq commented, growing increasingly snarky in his advanced age. He felt genuine shame that he could not handle his own equipment anymore, and it was difficult for him to watch her pick his instruments up for him. Once the tools were picked up he went through them to find the one that would ultimately reveal the state of Sierra's womb. He held the device over her stomach, much in the same way he did with Zara some months ago, until he received a report. He blinked his eyes slowly to confirm the report, before his large hammerhead slowly moved up to focus his eyes on hers. "The cheap test you purchased has indeed proved to be accurate," he told her, although he was not sure how he felt about it. His attention turned from her as he struggled to place his equipment back within the bag properly.

"Yes... That night turned out to be rather eventful." She sighed. Sierra didn't want to delve into everything with Pilaq. She had apologized so many times for being involved with Arden. Only time would prove who her loyalty really fell in line with. She eyed the device as he lined it up with her stomach. With the words he spoke, he confirmed that she was pregnant. The happy, tingly feelings started to come back. She couldn't hide the shy, excited smile that had started to form. "Thank you, my friend. I'm sorry to press you further. Can you confirm the gender yet? You and I both know that the whole House of Rodney is looking to me for a son..." There was pressure there. Julius had made his opinion clear. While she knew her husband wouldn't hate another daughter, she strived to give Claudius all the things he wanted in life. She knew blood tests existed which could tell the gender. She left it up to the medical professional. She knew the mind better than the body.

"Of course," Pilaq said, noting how comfortable she had become in her new position, ordering house calls, and making all sorts of requests. He held a different tool over her stomach where the fetus was still developing and an astonishing discovery came upon the screen ... Zara was pregnant with a son. He remained silent for a moment as he considered the news and the implication for all of them. He considered the implications of revealing the gender to him, given the potential pressure and stress it could cause them in an already difficult time in their lives. Ultimately, he could not conceal the information from her as it simply was not fair. "You are blessed with a son," he said to her, but there was no excitement or exuberance in his voice. He knew what this meant on a galactic scale. The child would soon became a pawn on a thousand games throughout the ship, Delaya, and the galaxy as a whole. It was a burden he did not wish on the young Sierra, but it was one she would have to learn to carry.

She didn't mean to boss him around. Sierra valued the old doctor. She was appreciative that he'd come to her over this. Time came to a screeching halt while he conducted his short examination of her tiny, unborn child. Sierra's heart fluttered in her chest. This was a good thing. No matter what happened, this was the beginning of her and Claudius' child's life. It was major. She had no idea how she would tell him. She imagined him, at home, exhausted while he awaited her to return. She ached to be with him. For the sake of keeping appearances, she'd come to work from the ship today. Pilaq's voice confirmed something that was seemingly impossible. Sierra Rodney was pregnant with a *boy*. Her smile broke wider than ever. She had a brief understanding of what a male meant, but right now she decided to celebrate the news by hugging the doctor tightly. "Thank you, thank you!" She kissed both of his cheeks and then began to help him gather his things. "I have to go home. This is exactly what Claudius needs to hear." She stood, offering Pilaq her assistance back to the medical bay. "Let this information remain between us. No official documents." She warned him in fear that someone would attempt to take her baby boy away from her.

"Are you sure you should tell him?" Pilaq asked her, as the last time he saw his old friend he had laid out his own brother with a vicious and unwarranted blow. "You carry within you the future of a family that has endured so much, and will continue to endure in the near future," he counseled her, as he reached around her with his long arm for support. "You are still very young, and there are many who would use this news to their advantage. Unscrupulous individuals bidding for power and influence both here and on Delaya," he continued, perhaps a bit harshly, but he had seen it before. "I would advise you to share this news with as few as possible, lest you become the subject of intense HoloNet scrutiny like your brother-in-law and his wife," he explained to her, pounding the base of his staff into the deckplating for added emphasis. "Go now. Go to your husband, but consider my words," he said, before taking hold of the instrument that held the report of the child's gender. He dropped it to the ground, and then began bashing it with the base of his staff until all of the circuitry was destroyed. Little did he know that even now the ISB was watching.

Sierra listened to the wise words of an old friend. He was absolutely correct. This secret needed to remain between herself, Claudius, and Pilaq. If the HoloNet caught word of her pregnancy, then the whole galaxy would know within a few hour's time. She would not expose her family to it in the same fashion as Marcus and Zara. Enemies were lurking. She needed to watch her back for Zevrin. "I hear your advice, my friend. I will be very careful with what we now both know." It was necessary for the evidence to be taken out of the equation. She released him, backing away towards the door. "Thank you." The sound of his staff bashing the instrument was an echo in the background as she disappeared into the corridor outside of her home away from home.

Claudius was seated on a balcony that adjoined their suite, looking out at the distant city of New Calamar. A small breakfast had been served to him, but he had barely eaten. The small glass of juice was all he had touched, as the thoughts of a potential reunion with his daughter played upon the forefront of his mind. Whether it was aboard the command ship, or at the estate, he always enjoyed watching the endless line of space traffic that dominated Esseles. He closed his eyes, leaning back in the chair, as he listened to the engines of the craft that flew overhead. He knew what model each one was just by the sound of the engine. He was doing his utmost to let Sierra *handle* the trade of Commander Xergo for his daughter, but the old commander in him wanted to take charge. As his mind was focused on his past with Jelena little did he know his future with Sierra was about to take a dramatic turn several kilometers away.

The span of an hour had passed since Sierra learned of her pregnancy. As much as she wanted to, she did not immediately race home. This was a special moment, one which she wanted to make very pleasing to her husband. She shed herself from her ISB uniform and concealed her identity. While she landed the ship near her home, she headed into town to carry out her task right away. Her mind was working out how her and Claudius would keep their secret from the family. There were many details they'd have to work out together

When she did finally arrive home, she darted upstairs to her husband. Concern entered her mind as the adrenaline rush wore itself away. She had been reluctant to leave him in the morning. That same reluctance rose back to the surface. The teenaged girl entered their bedroom. She had not bothered to change back into her uniform. She wore a bag that bulged awkwardly. He was exactly where she had left him in the morning; on the balcony having not touched his breakfast. "Claudius.." She bent down to kiss him. "I missed you." Her nerves were beginning to take control. Was this the right time? When you were engaged in a war, when was the right time?

Claudius lept up in his chair slightly when she arrived, hoping that she had news about the impending operation to recover his daughter, Jelena. "I have missed you too, Sierra," he said, as he received her kiss, but his mind was understandably elsewhere. "Have you finalized plans? What news have you?" he asked her, in rapid succession, unable to contain himself. The desire to get her back meant everything to him. It was all he could think about. It was becoming an all consuming obsession for him. He looked at her with his big brown eyes, hoping that she had the answers that he needed to get the daughter back that he feared he had lost forever. Little did he suspect that the son he and his family had wanted all of his life was already growing within her.

"I have acquired a ship to transport Xergo in which will not make us suspicious in the ISB's eyes. There has been no news from the Rebels. I'm trying to track the signal from the recording Xergo had us listen to." She looked at him sadly, "I won't let her get away, my love. I will use whatever bargaining chips needed to bring Jelena home." Her hands rolled down his arms. She took both of his hands in hers. "Come with me," she persuaded, leaning back softly to help him to his feet. The balcony wasn't safe enough. For all she knew, Arden had Stormtroopers keeping an eye on what played out there. As paranoid as it seemed, it was also very realistic. Sierra was growing more anxious. Pilaq's words played in her ears. Was her husband prepared for this information? What if it only made him unhappy? The information was pressing. She had no choice. He *needed* to know.

Claudius allowed himself to be pulled from his seat on the balcony into their bedroom. "You must save her," he implored her, clutching her arm, and seeming as if he had aged ten years since they had first met. When they entered the bedroom he quickly took a seat at the foot of the bed, looking to her optimistically. "I hope they have taken good care of her. I hope she is not hurt..." he told her, as he allowed his mind to go to a dark place. "How soon?" he asked, unable to think of anything else at the moment. He wanted Jelena back *now*.

She saw how this all wore on her husband. Sierra was doing everything in her power to make it end quickly. "If the Rebel scum know what's best for them, they will return Jelena in peak condition." From what she had seen on the video from a lifetime ago, her friend looked *okay*. There was no way to tell until they saw her face-to-face. She released her husband once he had sat. Sierra remained standing. Her discomfort was beginning to show. "They still have twelve hours to respond. I shouldn't have been so soft," she reprimanded herself. She felt that applying some pressure would achieve results. So far, she was wrong. "This is the closest we've come to getting her back. This opportunity isn't going to get away from us. I came home early to continue my research. There has to be a way to identify where that comlink signal came from." She didn't know how to bring up her pregnancy. "I know things have been impossibly hard lately... I'm here for you. Lean on me for support." She looked at him.

When Sierra said she was there for him to lean on, Claudius took her words literally, and took her by the arm, ushering her down onto the bed beside him. He leaned his head upon her shoulder, emitting a tired sigh as he snuggled into her. "How has your day been so far?" he asked her, as he reached across her lap to take her hand into his. He squeezed her hand, more to reassure himself than her. She had worked her way into his life so quickly. Although they had only recently begun spending time with one another, she nevertheless had become indispensable to him. If anything happened to her he would now be lost completely. For Claudius there was no longer a life without Sierra. His last wife had been a presence in his life, but she was oblivious to what went on with his career. She was not just his partner in his personal life, but she was also instrumental in his professional life as well. There was no longer a Claudius or a Sierra, simply a Sierradius.

She joined him on the bed. Both of her arms wrapped around him. She really did attempt to take some of the extra weight off of her husband. The poor man was in need of a break from all of this insanity. What happened with Jelena only happened on soap operas, not in real life. When he asked about her day, she found herself forced to look her task in the eye. She had to tell him. Squeezing his hands, she offered him a reassuring smile. "Let's not talk about my day at this moment. I brought you something." She loved him so much. Becoming a key part of his life was a very fortunate thing to her. She functioned perfectly with him on an emotional level and a professional level. As his adjutant, she was gaining confidence. In time, she'd gain all the skills she needed to aid her husband. She kissed his cheek. Her free hand dove into her bag, pulling forth a small, rectangular box. It wasn't wrapped or anything.

Inside the box and through a forest of tissue paper, Claudius would find all the evidence he needed to either make, or break, his day. A soft blue newborn sleeper was carefully folded beneath the paper. It had thranta feet and a cute image of a baby thranta was printed on the right side of the chest. Beneath it, the tiny words *Daddy's Little Man* were legible. In between the folded sleeper, he'd find the positive pregnancy test, sans the part that she had thrown away. Sierra removed a shaky hand from his. This was it.

Claudius thought it a bit odd that she had chosen now to give him a present, but he accepted the box with gratitude. He lifted his head off her shoulder, holding the box in his lap, and slowly opening it. There was enough paper in the box to clog the refresher a dozen times over, but at the very end he found the newborn sleeper. It confused him, and he furrowed his brown, before looking to her with a blank expression. "Is this for Zara's baby shower? If so, I'm no longer going," he declared, believing this was an attempt on Sierra's part to make peace between the brothers. However, he was no longer interested in such things. He was almost done with the box when he saw something else, and is hand descended into the box to find the pregnancy test. He looked at it, his mouth hanging open, as the wheels in his brain slowly drove to the conclusion that Sierra was also pregnant. His hand trembled, releasing his grip on both the box and the test, spilling them to the floor. There were no words, only a look of absolute joy and astonishment that finally made the old man seem young again. It was wonderful and much needed news for a man who had seemed to suffer greatly these many months. He looked to her for a moment, before moving towards her to wrap his arms around her. He buried his face in her bosom, shedding tears of joy as he slowly came to terms with all that was happening.

It was hard to watch when Sierra felt like running into the bathroom, locking the door, and dealing with this like a young child might. Perhaps another pillow fort was in order! She thought about stopping him roughly three thousand times while he worked his way through the tissue paper that she had shoved in the box while feeling fear about telling him. The newborn sleeper came into view. It did *not* have the desired effect. Sierra was going to have to tell him with her voice. Her gifts weren't doing a good job of speaking for her Until...

Until he saw *it*.

There was shock as the gifts fell to the ground. The young woman prepared for whatever was coming next. She worried he'd be mad with her about not waiting until a better time. Instead, Sierra received a reaction unlike any other. He was *happy*. Her arms held him as tightly as she could. Her chin rested on top of his head. She, too, began to cry happily for the gift they had been given. They were going to have a *son*. Sierra kissed his head. Good fortune had finally made its way into their lives. "I love you. I'm so happy we're having a baby boy." She cried, cradling him to her.

"How?" was the first word Claudius spoke. It was the only word he could think of. Slowly he pulled his face away from her chest, his tear stained brown eyes rolling up to look at her. His hand gripped hers firmly, clinging to her. He was afraid to let go. Now that he had everything he always wanted he was afraid to lose it. Suddenly he was holding her tighter, and sitting closer to her. "You should not go on the mission to recover Jelena," he said suddenly, fearful that the Rebels might injure her and cause her to lose the baby. His overprotectiveness was growing as if it had been injected with stimulants.

"Well, when a man loves a woman..." Sierra started, winking at her wonderful, teary-eyed husband. "I suspect it was our first incident in the shower." She leaned forward, stealing a kiss from his lips, then nuzzling her nose against his. All of the tension her body had been holding released, even if it was just briefly. Sierra had no intentions of moving away from her husband for some time. She clung back to him, because he was everything she ever wanted and so much more. Her head shook slowly. "I know you want to protect me ... to protect *us*, but we must carry out the plan as we intended. We cannot raise any flags. I swear that I will take appropriate precautions, wear armor, and allow for Kerrie's extra body to act as a human shield. Pilaq is the only other person who knows that I'm pregnant. He confirmed it, then destroyed his device to avoid leaving evidence."

Claudius did not find much humor in her joke given the high strung mood he was in. He did not think himself capable of producing a son, given his three previous failed attempts. He looked to her as she explained she was still going forward with direct involvement in the Jelena rescue. His heart suddenly began to beat more rapidly and his rib cage felt as if it weighed twice what it should have. He lay back on the bed to make himself more comfortable as he began to come to terms with that he was about to become a father again at his advanced age ... and to a son no less! "It is important as few people know as possible. You've seen what Marcus and Zara were just put through when it was revealed they were pregnant," he said, as his eyes looked up at the skylight over the bed. He began to mentally compute how old he would be at certain milestones in his son's life. It was terrifying arithmetic.

Concealing her pregnancy from everyone was going to eventually become tricky. Sierra's mind had already begun to obsess and plan. Planning kept her from losing her cool, which she hated. Slowly, she lay back with her husband on her side. She held him. She could feel how quickly his heart was working beneath her hand. It had all been so much for him. Her worries grew as she lay, placing together a future that included their son. "I agree. That kind of attention is unsatisfactory. If we intend to continue to utilize Pilaq, which I believe to be the best option, we will need to conduct our appointments elsewhere." She crept up on top of him to stop his mind from wandering. She attempted to distract him from the dark path with a kiss. "I told you that you were capable of producing more than girls." She cradled his head in her hands. "Nothing will happen to our boy. Once we have finished rescuing Jelena, I will play quieter parts to ensure his safety. We cannot tell anyone else in the family. Your father would climb to the highest peak in Delaya and scream the news from the top of his lungs."

Claudius wrapped both of his arms around her as she crawled atop him, welcoming her kiss and responding diligently with a press of his lips back against hers. "You must promise me you won't let anything happen to you or our son," he said to her, desperately, as the fear of something happening to her during the encounter with the Rebel cell overshadowed everything else. "My father..." he said, as he looked past her, imagining what it might mean to him. "No. No we can't tell him ... yet," he said, as he considered the implications of their every action. "I am uncertain of his current health situation and news like this could put him right back in the medcenter," he told her, as he came to realize that everything they did, or did not do, reached far beyond their bedroom. It was difficult being an important person ... more so for an unborn child.

It was good to be home. For her home had been created for her in the arms of her husband. "I promise, Claudius." Her safety mattered most during the transaction. If it all went wrong, Sierra would need to make herself disappear quickly. She could not butt heads with Major Zevrin anymore either. Sierra was certain that she could keep that woman from knowing as long as they didn't utter a word on the Retributor about the baby. Her head dipped down. She kissed his neck softly. Life was standing still for a moment. She knew it would go wild again, like a roller coaster teetering atop a high mountain. Eventually, they'd have to make their way down. "You're right. There's no gentle way to tell him. We will wait as long as we can. When he has recovered more, then maybe.." She was relieved that the ghosts of her past were dead. Her mother would never touch her baby, nor would she ever hurt Sierra's son. "I noticed you hadn't eaten." Sierra pointed out. "You can't let yourself waste away. If you leave me alone with Drusilla, Ewwiekewwieikkie, and our son, I will be very unhappy." She rose off of her husband to collect his breakfast from the balcony. She returned to the bed, kicking off her boots along the way. "Eat with me."

The slow series of kisses Sierra placed upon him gradually caused his mind to focus on the present, rather than the future. "You should eat. After all, you're eating for two," he explained to her, as he pushed the plate away from him and towards her. After looking at the expression on her face, he reluctantly plucked a piece of bacon and ate it, under protest, to please her. "Satisfied?" he asked, acting as if he was one of the children being pressed to eat an unsavory vegetable. Already she was starting with the demands that he take care of himself. He smiled to her, hoping that they could enjoy this moment together before the storm that was to come surrounding the prisoner exchange. He was so close to having *everything* he always wanted, which was usually when disaster struck.

"Oye. Already starting in on that? I'm like a month pregnant." She laughed. The look of disapproval she offered to him when he refused to eat worked. How he could eat bacon and look so unhappy was mind bottling! She picked up a piece of fruit to munch on. "I was good this morning. I ate my breakfast. I won't be satisfied until you eat more." It was lovely to see Claudius smiling again. Her heart warmed. Despite everything happening, *nothing* could get between them. She felt like each trial they proceeded through brought their relationship more strength. The endless list of the reasons why she loved him kept growing. Sierra was certain he would make a good father to the child within her womb. Together, they could have some semblance of a happy family. She reached towards him, playfully running her finger through his girls. "I love you now. I love you always. I love you forever." This moment would get her through the days that she stood before. Sierra couldn't resist without her love. Together, they had truly become *Sierradius*.

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