around, Sierra took back over the controls in the
shuttle. As she prepared the ship to launch, she
noticed a miss comm message on the ship's computer.
Rather than activate it right away, Sierra opted to
take off from the Retributor first. Once the
shuttle's nose was pointed towards Esseles, she
allowed the message to play. She was surprised to
see an image of her sister-in-law appear on the
Zara Rodney said in a chipper voice on the message.
"I'm here to report that Marcus and I both made it
out of Delaya. We got Pilaq too." She darted away
from the camera so they could see Pilaq looking
unamused. "We're all okay and we hope you are too.
Brother, thank you for contacting Marcus about my
little ... fieldtrip. I wouldn't have made it out
without you. The hospital got pretty messed up..."
There had been nothing but panic surrounding Pilaq's
injuries. Zara had used the HoloNet to find out how
to check his pulse in between losing her mind. The
Zara that appeared before them now was relaxed.
"We've decided not to go back to Delaya, so don't
come looking for us. Send me and Marcus a message
and let us know you're okay too. We're worried.
Okay? Bye bye!" The recording ended at that. Zara
and her family was safe.
doctor," Claudius said, sounding more than a little
jealous as he watched Zara's transmission from the
co-pilot's seat of the Kwai. "Well. At least they're
okay," he said, but was muttering to himself,
wondering if this was payback for their jealousy
over his home in the Sea Islands of Delaya. He
leaned forward in his seat, bringing his hands up to
his face and rubbing it fiercely. "How is
Ewwiekewwieikkie? Do I even want to ask what
happened?" he pressed Sierra, as the shuttle passed
through the rings of Esseles and began their descent
to their hillside estate on the outskirts of New
Calamar. He could see the increased naval presence
over the Terril Naval Base. The Imperial war machine
had grown exponentially since their last visit it
seemed, but he had yet to review the facts and
figures Allegra and Meham'ohorovi'cloca had provided
for him. He was content to let Colonel Zevrin deal
with this ... it seemed to be what the Emperor
wanted anyway. His focus was his family.
we're going to have to share for awhile." Zara
needed Pilaq more than she did. The poor girl looked
like she was about to pop. Sierra was surprised that
she hadn't given birth during all the chaos on
Delaya...but, that was for the better at the same
time. "Yes, I'm glad about that. I'll send them a
comm when we get home to let them know we're okay
too. I don't know how Ewwiekewwieikkie is doing. It
appears Drusilla filled her with jewels..." Just
saying it out loud caused Sierra to make a face. "I
fear we'll have to let it run its course." She
brought down the shuttle slowly. It had not been
long since she last visited Esseles, but she was so
driven to look for Dru that she hadn't noticed all
the changes. She was going to miss Delaya and the
Sea Islands. She was careful to land the ship and
power it down. "Here we are. Home."
It was much
safer here than the Retributor, so Sierra thought.
As she rose, she looked at Claudius. "I'll take care
of Ewwiekewwieikkie. You need to go eat something."
She made a threatening face that wasn't threatening
in the slightest. "I'll be with you soon." She
kissed him on the lips. There was so much to talk to
him about. The rapid changes in their life seemed to
be pushing things further out of control. Sierra
helped Ewwie out of the ship. "Don't worry, sweetie.
We'll get your tummy in ice cream eating order
estate on Esseles had the feeling of a military
compound. There were high walls, guard towers, and
even an AT-ST. In a way it reminded him of the
garrison on Delaya. He did not look at any of the
Stormtroopers and simply hurried into the estate to
get away from it all. He did not even breath until
he got into the estate. "Thank you. I'm sorry about
Drusilla," he said to Sierra, tiredly, as he looked
over his shoulder as the two girls moved towards the
estate. His head then slowly turned back to make eye
contact with Sierra. "I love you," he said, as he
took her hands into his own and clung to them. He
then leaned forward, placing a loving kiss upon her
lips, before the children could interrupt them.
it's okay." Sierra had no qualms about taking care
of the girls. It didn't matter what they thought of
her because she *loved* them. Her hands squeezed
his. "I love you too." As completely as she could
and in every way, Sierra loved him. She kissed him
sweetly. They had endured so much since the
beginning of their relationship. All these events
had twisted them and coiled them tightly together.
There was not a doubt in her mind that this was for
*forever*. She kissed him until she heard a cough
followed by a *clunk* of another jewel hitting the
ground. Even then, she slowly backed her lips from
She was gentle
with the young Squib, guiding her upstairs and to
her bedroom. Just like with Claudius, she kept
certain medical supplies around for Ewwie. It wasn't
the first time, nor the last time, that the Squib
would eat something she shouldn't. She did her best
to make Ewwie comfortable in her bed. She promised
the girl up and down that there would be ice cream
once she was well again. Kissing her on the
forehead, Sierra left her room. She caught up to
Drusilla in the corridor. "Dru! Watch your sister
and please, make sure she doesn't choke on one of
the gems *you* shoved down her."
back downstairs to round up any food that wasn't
expired. She moved back to her room with a
smorgasbord of food that made her look *very*
pregnant with wilder cravings than her
sister-in-law. She set the tray of random food on
the little table within their room. Even she had to
admit that she was hungry at this point. She picked
at the crackers in a Drusilla-like fashion.
returned to the room she found Claudius sitting in
bed, still in his uniform, but having rid himself of
his boots. He had not eaten ... a direct act of
insubordination of his wife's orders. He had begun
reviewing the datapads that had been prepared for
him, but what he found was infuriating. There were
details of the ISB strengthening the Imperialization
of the worlds through execution and arrests ... and
then there were the people who simply disapeared. It
seemed this was the fate that had befallen Kerrie
and her band of mercenaries ... eliminating those
found undesirable by Colonel Zevrin. The worst part?
It was all being done in his name. When Sierra
returned, he tossed the datapad aside, and offered
her a half-smile. "You might be interested to read
what they've had Zara's sister been doing," he said,
bitterly, as he shifted to watch his wife peck at
her food. "Not hungry either?" he asked, as he
stretched his legs and wiggled his toes. Sierra was
right about the boots. "How is Ewwiekewwieikkie?" he
asked, cracking a smile ... part of him thought the
entire situation was humorous.
He should have
known the kind of repercussions not listening to her
would have. After all, Sierra was a mean, *mean*
wifey. She picked up the tray and approached the
bed, sliding it in between them. All she did was
look at him, silently making it obvious that if he
didn't each, she was going to begin shoving food
down his throat like Drusilla had shoved jewels down
her sister's throat. She removed her boots and
joined him on the bed. "Ah, let me see that one.
Stupid Papius mentioned that she was up to
something." She set the datapad beside her leg,
intending to read up on her enemy.
"Not at all.
This is for our son, not for me." Her stomach hadn't
felt well in some time. She realized she had no
choice. If she wanted to keep getting better, she
needed to eat. His mention of Ewwiekewwieikkie made
her smile and laugh softly. "You know how there are
things you swore you'd never do until you became a
parent? I'd say pulling a fist-sized gem out of
Ewwiekewwieikkie's mouth was the first moment like
that for me." She shook her head. "I can't believe
Dru did that. I gave Ewwiekewwieikkie some medicine
to soothe her stomach. She's doing well enough to
beg for ice cream. Regardless... I can't imagine
what it'll be like to be her for the next few
hours." Surely not all the jewels would pass through
her mouth. She all but said that. "Now that we're
away from the Retributor, we can talk in private.
How are you? What are you thinking about, Claudius?"
heard Sierra say that she could not believe Drusilla
would do that he laughed, wondering if she was
prepared for the young girl's antics. The subject of
the conversation quickly turned from the slightly
comedic behavior of Drusilla and Ewwiekewwieikkie to
the more serious conversation about how he was
feeling. "I will never forget what I saw on Delaya,"
he said, as he reached out with his hand and placed
it upon her thigh for support. "I don't even know
what I'm thinking about," he said, with a tired
sigh, as he rolled onto his side so that he could
face her with his entire body. "I still can't
believe it. It's like it's not even real," he said,
as he stretched out his legs yet again. From down
the hall the sound of Ewwiekewwieikkie giggling and
then gagging broke the silence during pauses in
their serious conversation. It was going to be a
long night for everyone.
Sierra wasn't entirely sure she was ready either!
She was just going to have to learn on her feet. Her
hand rested on top of his. She wordlessly
transferred him all of the support she could offer.
She understood. The sight of the burning city was
unforgettable. She sunk down into the bed, adjusting
on her side until she was comfortable. She kept one
hand in his, resting it in between them on the bed.
"It all happened so quickly. Kerrie said that Papius
had given the order to raze the city. We were never
able to find Gaius. We had to leave immediately."
She inched closer to them. She could hear the sounds
of Ewwiekewwieikkie slowly emptying the gems from
her body. At least it sounded like she was having
fun ... kind of? Sierra intended to check on the
girl again later. For now, Dru was on Ewwie duty.
right on into his personal bubble until her body
settled against his. She held him once more, giving
him the opportunity to resume falling to pieces in
the comfort of their home. Her heart fell hard in
her chest. She had a terrible feeling about leaving
Livia behind. She had hoped to spend more time with
the woman. Now she didn't know when, or if, she
would ever see her again. Laying together, Sierra
began to speak again. "Jelena saved my life out
there, you know."
my love, one thing we can take from the disaster is
the satisfaction that Gaius almost certainly
perished," Claudius said, naively, blissfully
unaware that even now Gaius was huddled aboard a
Rebel medium transport mere feet from his daughter
Jelena. "She has really grown," he said, wishing he
had been given a proper chance to say 'goodbye' to
her. With the way the war was going he wondered if
he would ever see her again. "My command is a real
mess," he said to her, as he leaned over her to peer
at the datapad again. "As my adjutant what are *you*
going to do about it!" he teased, playfully, but in
truth if he were going to regain power from Zevrin
he was going to need Sierra's help. "Do we sit here
on the planet while Zevrin and Thanor have their way
... or do we attempt to govern and curtail their
grievous acts?" he asked her, the issue he had been
batting back and forth inside his brain since they
"Way to find
the silver lining. I'm sure Rikka is finally burning
in hell too." There was no way Gaius could have
escaped. She had been there, watching the
headquarters become nothing but debris. Jelena had
turned into a real hero. She hoped that their paths
would cross again and that Jelena would come home of
her own accord. She wasn't ready to say 'goodbye'
forever. She eyed the datapad. There was much work
to be done. She'd seen the mess of datapads that he
had acquired. "Off with their heads!" Sierra
declared as his adjutant, laughing. "Well, my love,
it seems we'll have to return to the Retributor and
set things right. Regardless of who wins this war,
the galaxy would a better place without Zevrin and
Thanor. I'm tired of Zevrin thinking she holds the
reins to our life. It's time for things to change.
It's time for you to gain control again." She knew
how dangerous it was. At this point, she'd been in a
lot of dangerous situations. At least now they were
safe inside of their own home without servants
trying to kill them. "However," Sierra added, "You
can't overwork yourself. As your adjutant, I get to
arrange your schedule. You'll come home with me
every night even if I have to drag you." She smiled
Ewwiekewwieikkie came running frantically into the
room wearing a giant, oversized diaper. "Waah. I
don't wanna wear this!" she said, as she leapt onto
the bed between her father and stepmother. When she
impacted the bed, her stomach was compressed, and
out came an entire string of pearls. "Glug," she
groaned, as she reached up with her paw and pulled
out the strand. "Here you go!" she said, as she put
the pearls on Sierra, complete with a mixture of her
saliva and stomach bile. "Boy I ate a lot!" she
declared, completely interrupting the private, alone
time that Claudius and Sierra desperately needed.
"Ice cream?" she asked, looking towards them both
with her large, yellow eyes.
"Ewwiekewwieikkie get back here this instance!"
Drusilla Rodney shouted, as she marched into the
bedroom with her squirt bottle of bad Ewwie water.
She aimed it at her sister and began squirting it
viciously. "Off the bed. Off the bed," she said, as
she squirted away. "...and that's not yours!" she
snarled, before she reached to pull the string of
pearls off Sierra's neck. "Oh thank goodness. Could
you imagine if this had come out the other end?" she
asked, as she held up the long string of pearls with
only two fingers as it was remarkably gross. "My ...
*our* ... fortune will soon be saved," she said, as
she pulled her adopted sister away from her father
It was all so
comedic that Sierra couldn't help but laugh. This
was the insanity she lived in and she *loved* every
second of it. The quiet time with Claudius had been
derailed by their girls...the sight of
Ewwiekewwieikkie looking unhappy in a diaper would
never, ever cease to make her laugh. The poor Squib
threw up a full string of pearls, warranting Sierra
to wonder just how much was inside her stomach.
"Ooh, thank you so much, Ewwiekewwieikkie. They're
lovely." The smell of stomach bile was sickening.
The girl's willingness for ice cream had to be
commended. If she had thrown up as much as Ewwie,
she would never want to eat again.
in with a squirt bottle. She used it like one might
use it to chase a cat away from a tree. "Hey! Your
sister coughed these up for me." She teased Drusilla
as she sat upright. She grabbed the tray of randoms
from the bed, offering it to Ewwiekewwieikkie. There
wasn't ice cream, but there was something that
looked like hostess cupcakes. "Here Ewwie. Eat
something that's actually edible. Dru, take that
diaper off of your sister!" Saying the words made
her start laughing again. She looked to her husband
with happiness in her eyes. Of all the things they
hadn't been able to save, all the most important
things they *had* saved. All of a sudden, Sierra
wrapped her arms around both her daughters and
dragged them down to the bed with her and Claudius.
She forced them all into a group hug. This was what
it was like to have a family.
thing Sierra could have done was to hug a Squib
pregnant with jewels. As the Rodney family came
together and she was squeezed by her parents and
sister she felt a sudden rush coming from her
stomach. "Oh. Oh. Oh!" she squealed, as she opened
her mouth and began to pant. A moment later the
family scepter emerged from her mouth and fell in
between the members of the family. How on Delaya she
ever got that down her throat would remain a
mystery, but like the saying said ... Squibs would
Drusilla cheered as she squirmed about uncomfortably
in the group hug. As she gave Sierra a pat on the
back ... the only form of affection she knew ... she
moved her other hand down to stash away the lost
scepter. Although they seemingly no longer had a
planet to rule, every noble needed a physical
implement of power. "Now if only the crown and tiara
would come out..." she said, as she looked over at
Ewwiekewwieikkie. That was going to take a lot of
effort. "Hey. Do you think it's going to be harder
for me to marry an Emperor? Or a King? Or a measly
Prince now that our Duchy is gone?" she fretted, in
her own little world, seemingly the least affected
Rodney of them all.
embraced Sierra, Drusilla, and Ewwiekewwieikkie in a
much needed group hug. Although it was torture for
Drusilla, it was a wonderful moment for him. As he
looked back on what he had been through over the
past couple of days he was glad for the blessing of
this family. "I love you all," he told them,
becoming quite emotional again. Delaya was gone, but
his home was wherever his family was.