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Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:F2:5) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Leiliani: Rodney Castle).
Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, Lady Jelena Rodney, and Major Sierra Rodney.

It had been some time since Sierra Rodney had arrived in Delaya for a reason other than business. The last time she had spent time on the planet, it was to perform to Governor Arundel...which was no fun. After the family's exciting trip to Auntie Maeland, followed by a short recovery, everyone headed to Delaya. They had arrived the prior evening just in time to tucker the girls out and put them to sleep. The following morning, and day before Marcus and Zara's ball, had Sierra running around like a chicken with her head cut off in order to make sure everyone had attire for the event.

As she crept up the castle spire after an impromptu shopping expedition, she was reminded of the time following the bombing at Jelena's funeral. She and Claudius were staying in the exact same room they had been at that time. "Oh, I'm *so* glad we don't live here." Sierra commented as her uniform boots constricted on her feet. At last, she reached their quarters and disappeared behind the door. The Ithorians had done serious work to the environment of Delaya. The smog that hung over the city was nearly gone. The sky looked so clean and clear that one could see for miles. Despite the Imperial presence, even the people of Delaya seemed happier thanks to the new changes their Duke and Duchess had implemented. As she entered, Sierra's hands moved behind her back. It was clear she was holding something in between them but it was impossible to see what. "Hi dear. I'm happy to report that no one will be going nude to the ball. Well ... in our part of the family anyway." She couldn't speak for Marcus and Zara with their HoloNet history.

Claudius Rodney had mixed emotions about returning to his home planet of Delaya. Part of him was glad to be returning as he missed his home very much, but another part of him was bitter that his sister-in-law had to arrange *permission* for him to return. In the back of his mind he knew that when they left this time he likely would not be able to return again for sometime. As they walked through the castle he felt like a stranger in his boyhood home, which caused him to remain silent until he and Sierra were alone in the room. When she approached him he knew immediately she was hiding something behind her back. Instantly the child within him took over, which made him forget his melancholy thoughts on his home, and instead incessantly focus on what was behind her back. "Hi. What's in your hands?" he asked, as he raised up onto his toes to attempt to look over her shoulder. "Hmm?" he asked, as he began to fidget impatiently, suddenly reminding her of the girls in the gift shop.

She had assumed that this was going to be a hard trip for her husband, which was exactly why she'd made some special arrangements prior to coming. There was no telling when he'd be able to stand on Delayan soil again. A smirk crept up her lips as he raised to his toes. She mocked the movement, giving herself the few additional inches that raising to her tippy toes did. "Whatever *are* you talking about?" She teased, fumbling with the box in her hands. "See?" She said, bringing one hand to the front of her. "I've got nothing." Her smile was growing wider and wider. As much as she enjoyed teasing him, it was very hard for her to keep anything from him!

When Sierra revealed only one hand he began to bounce up and down on his feet, but whether or not Ewwiekewwieikkie learned it from him or he learned it from her was unknown. "The other hand! The *other* hand!" he asked, with a high pitched, almost whiny voice as he leaned to his side to attempt to look behind her. At least the teasing had caused all of the unhappy homecoming thoughts in his mind to be extinguished. "C'mon! C'mon!" he pleaded, as he continued to bounce up and down, his eyes going wide, and his mouth beginning to salivate in anticipation.

She began to laugh once he was bouncing. Sierra certainly had his attention. "The other hand?" The young woman played dumb. She brought the hand she had showed him to her back so she could reveal the other hand. "There's nothing!" She was starting to see where the girls got it from! "Okay, okay!" She surrendered, allowing both of her hands to come to the front of her body. What she was holding should have come as no surprise. The box read 'Auntie Mae Pregnancy Test'. It also came with a peel off coupon for pudding, which is what drew Sierra into selecting it above all other tests. It also boasted that it could deliver early results...and they *needed* early results. "What do you think? Should we find out just how good our daughter's nose is?" She wasn't done surprising him today. She had to withhold that information otherwise she would tell him and spoil the surprise.

"Both hands! Both hands!" Claudius pleaded, sounding like a boy fifty years younger than his actual age. But when she showed him the Auntie Mae branded pregnancy test he suddenly stopped bouncing and became decidedly more serious, as someone had just flipped a switch on him. "Can it really tell us this early?" he asked, as he moved closer towards her. He reached his right hand up, placing it upon her shoulder, while his eyes looked down to the packaging. It was so colorful and bright that he was amazed one of the Squibs did not attempt to eat it. "Yes. Yes I think you should," he said, as suddenly his eyes lit up with the frenzied, impatient glare that was there when she had teased him. "Right away," he told her, as he began walking her towards the en suite refresher.

"Maybe. The test's early results are supposed to be part of its perks." She told him. She had went to great lengths to ensure no Squib found the test. She didn't want to explain to Ewwiekewwieikkie what the test exactly was or why she was taking it. Suddenly, he was pushing her in the direction of the refresher. "Don't hover outside. I won't be able to do it if you're hovering." She teased. She headed into the refresher with the box and closed the door. There were mile-long instructions inside of the box for a process that really seemed quite simple. The stick itself was awkwardly made to look like an empty ice cream cone. If the test results were positive, then the cone would become topped with ice cream. If not, it would remain empty.

As if to make her impatient husband even more impatient, it took Sierra *forever* in the refresher. She was nervous. She was excited. It was hard to perform under such pressure! Ultimately, she left the bathroom without the test nearly ten minutes later. "Five minutes and we'll know." She reported to him as she glanced towards the chrono on the wall. Five minutes, 300 seconds, 300,000 milliseconds... *Forever*. Her face paled as she broke down the time into the tiniest increments. "We'll never get a result." She dramatically informed him.

"I won't hover. I won't hover," Claudius promised, but as soon as the door was closed he began to hover. His body was practically pressed against the door, with his head turned so that he could place his ear directly against it to listen. As the door opened, he backpedaled quickly, but there was no way he was able to conceal his hovering. "Five minutes? That's an eternity," he said, as he pouted in her direction. "Here. Come sit down," he said, as he led her towards the foot of the bed and helped her sit down, already acting overprotective. Once she was down he began to pace back and forth, his eyes never leaving the wall chrono. It was the longest five minutes of his life.

He was hovering! That's what caused her performance anxiety. She didn't bust him for it, for she was already counting down each second mentally. "It *is* an eternity. Can't they make these tests quicker?" Sierra asked impatiently, sitting down at the end of the bed. They immediately both did the same thing: stare at the chrono. It felt like a form of torture that they had to sit and wait and wait and sit for five whole minutes. Sierra decided then that she would create a pregnancy test that came with an ice breaker game to play for the time they had to wait for results. Three minutes in, even Sierra began to point. "Oh my gosh, just go check!" She demanded, shooing him off with her hands. "Ice cream means baby, no ice cream means no baby. Hurry! Go look!" She didn't want to look herself. There wasn't a 'bad' outcome here. A positive result expanded their family. A negative result meant continuing to try to expand the family. There was certainly a result they both wanted.

"Alright. I'll check," Claudius said, as he moved to get the test, before stopping dead in his tracks. "Wait. What? Ice cream?" he asked, as he brought his hand up to the back of his head and began to scratch. "Oh. Nevermind," he grumbled, as he moved to find the pregnancy test fashioned after an ice cream cone. "We don't want Melickielickie 'lickielicking' this," he called out to her, before picking up the test. He looked at it for a moment as it dawned on him that there was ice cream visible. He was quiet for a moment, which seemed to last an eternity. "Sierra!" he called out, suddenly finding himself very lightheaded. He backpedaled until he found himself up against the toilet, before quickly sitting down upon it to collect himself. "Sierra!" he called out again, finding himself as helpless as the child that he now knew to be growing within his wife.

Sierra could be heard laughing in the bedroom over his joke. "No, no! We'll dispose of it properly once we're done using it." The silence that followed was even worse than waiting for the results to appear...or not appear. Sierra sat on the bed, her whole body tensed, listening hard for Claudius to tell her the results. Her heart was beating just as fast as if she'd been running a marathon. The first time he called her name, Sierra was up on her feet in an instant. The second time, she darted into the bathroom at full speed. "What is it!?" She asked, immediately feeling a rush of concern as she saw him seated on the toilet. Sierra wrapped her arms around his neck and drew him close to her. She was beginning to assume that the test had been negative and that he was taking it hard. Sierra bent her head down and kissed the top of her head. "It's okay, my love. We'll keep trying. Maybe it didn't happen this month, but it could happen next." She squeezed him tightly. Her heart sank, but only a little. She was confident that there would be another baby in time.

Claudius leaned back after she kissed the top of his head, smiling up at her without uttering a word. He reached up, showing her the ice cream cone, which was now topped with ice cream. "...and it's even my favorite flavor," he told her, with a wink, which was glistening with the tears that were beginning to form. He leaned up, placing his arms around her, while raising up to place a loving kiss upon her lips. "I love you. A thousand times I love you," he told her, as the kiss broke, before he settled back upon the toilet ... the only throne he would likely ever rest upon.

There was ice cream in the cone. There was ice cream in the cone. *There was ice cream in the cone*! Sierra's eyes widened while her mind caught up with what she was seeing. "Claudius!" She exclaimed, beginning to laugh and cry all at the same time. She found his joke to be hilarious and perverse ... she liked it! The test had confirmed that Ewwiekewwieikkie's nose did indeed *know*. Her arms locked around him even tighter. She was so happy and excited. This was wonderful news! She squeezed him tightly while kissing him. "I love you. A thousand times I love you." She sniffed, collecting the tears at the corners of his eyes. *Another* baby, Sierra thought. Her heart swooned to think that it had happened so soon. It only went to show just how much they were made for each other. Wiping her own tears away, she began speaking. "I-I'm not done with you today. We have an important brunch to attend very soon." She told him, though she did not stop embracing him. The moment was so happy. She tilted her head down, nuzzling her nose against his. "What do you think? A girl this time? Or will it be all boys with us?"

"Hmm," Claudius said, as he brought his hand up to his chin in a manner similar to Ewwiekewwieikkie. "A brunch, eh? I could eat..." he said, as he smiled up at her, now glowing as much as a pregnant woman himself. "It's a shame neither the test nor her nose is gender specific. That's a mystery that will remain with us a little while longer," he said, pouting again, as he began to reflect on what he wanted. He had already been blessed with two daughters, and now a son, so he had all of the bases covered. "Whatever we are blessed with will be fine for me, but every mother should have a daughter," he said, as he brought his hand up to brush his hand across her cheek. Somehow in this moment she looked even more beautiful.

"Yes. It seems we can't get away from this 'patience' thing." She groaned. She revealed no further details about their brunch. Now that she was pregnant, no one was going to stand between her and food. His smiles were addictive. She couldn't stop smiling herself. Her heart was filled with pure joy. "I would love to have a daughter, but I won't be disappointed if it turns out to be another boy. We can finally have a 'Cup Rodney' in the family that way." She teased. Her heart turned into his hand. She loved his affection. She loved how he made her feel so *good*. This happiness never would have been possible for her without him in her life. "Come on." She said, taking his hand in hers. "I don't want to make our guest late and we've *still* got to conquer the stairs." With those words, Sierra whisked him away. There was a skip in her step. They would spend the rest of the day happily celebrating the positive pregnancy test but for now...for now she had something else in mind.

Sierra led her husband out to the garden where a table had already been set...and someone was there waiting. They were dressed in the uniform of an Alderaan Guard, so it was impossible to tell *who* it was until they were close. A knowing grin burst out on her face the closer they came to the table. It was wonderful to see her best friend again: Jelena Rodney.

"Patience? Not one of my family traits," Claudius told her, as he listened to her suggest the awful name of 'Cup', which almost assuredly ensured it would one day come to pass. Up off the toilet she helped, which would become an increasingly common occurrence as he continued to age. "Stairs. I had almost forgotten," he said, as he took her hand and descended the stairs with her. Into the garden he went where he had so many meals with his now departed parents, but this day it seemed it was becoming a break spot for the Alderaan Guard. He was almost annoyed at their presence before he drew close and saw it was Jelena. He looked from his daughter to his wife, knowing that she had been meddling again, which he thoroughly approved of. He moved towards the table, slowly, before he came to a stop in front of her. He was trembling. "Jelena..." he said, being overwhelmed with such a conflux of emotions that no other words could find an escape from his throat.

Jelena Rodney had come to Delaya for Marcus and Zara's ball, once again changing into the disguise of the Alderaan Guard to blend seamlessly into the castle staff. If Governor Arundel even suspected she was here he likely would tear down the castle brick by brick until he had her in his grasp. When she saw her father she did not know how to react, as she had just directed military resources to openly strike against him. She looked at him, wanting to be angry, but he was still her father. She swallowed, looking past him and towards Sierra for assistance. "Father..." she said, matching his tenor and tone. It seemed this might be a quiet brunch.

Sierra tilted her chin towards him. Delaya was the perfect grounds for them to meet. Bringing Claudius to New Alderaan wasn't an option. Parading Jelena around Esseles wasn't either. Since they had not seen each other in some time, Sierra was sure to arrange a meeting knowing that Iyah and Mug would be making the trip from New Alderaan.

Sierra slowly lowered herself into a seat at the table. The awkwardness started off thick. Such was being involved in a family torn by war. Sierra tried to help the situation along. "It's good to see you on better circumstances, Jelena." She reached across the table, squeezing the girl's hand with a single one of her own. "How are you? Are you being treated well?" Her hand left her stepdaughter's and roamed back to her husband. It seemed that they both needed her support today. "We just got back from taking the girls to Auntie Maeland. You'll have to stop by our room to see the pictures." She smiled, "There was one ride with a mechanical Rainbow Rancor. Ewwiekewwieikkie got so excited that she crawled out of the boat, swam to the rancor and hugged it. I'd never seen her smile so big in my life."

Claudius slowly moved towards the table, sitting down next to Sierra and across from Jelena. He was still smiling from the news that Sierra was pregnant, which was magnified now that Jelena was back in the fold. As Sierra began to speak, he simply leaned forward, speechless, with a dumb grin plastered upon his face. He missed her ... so much. There was so much he wanted to say, but the man who had earned his reputation as a diplomat suddenly found himself speechless.

Jelena was glad that Sierra was speaking, because neither he, nor her father was saying more than a word. "Yes. Who would have thought that Uncle Marcus would have settled down, found a wife ... younger than us I might add ... and had *two* children," she said, with a smile, as she focused entirely on her friend for the time being. "I'm doing well. Oh ... Auntie Maeland? Really?" she said, sounding slightly disappointed and left out, despite the fact that she would never publicly admit to wanting to go to a child's amusement park. "There's pictures?" she asked, suddenly sounding more enthused, as she leaned forward towards Sierra. She looked to her father, who seemed a little distracted, but for now she would simply focus on Sierra.

Sierra laughed. "Right? What is she, sixteen? I want to know where he found her." It was a question she had never thought to ask. However, given Zara and Marcus' illegal activities, she imagined that it was the link between them. Maybe they had worked together. Marcus had yet to realize what kind of woman he had married. Sierra would always have bitter feelings towards Zara. She simply wasn't one of *them*. "Really. We'll find you a nice hat and you can come next time, okay?" Sierra wore a knowing smile. It would make a wonderful trip next time if they could get *all* of the family to come. "There's so many pictures. I probably shouldn't be allowed to carry a holocam with me ever again. I purchased this one souvenir photo..." Sierra said, calling to mind Beggar's Canyon. "You might want a copy." She nudged her husband with her elbow gently. Nothing could take her from the cloud nine that she was currently seated upon. The day was turning out so good. She was mindful of not making Jelena uncomfortable when she laced her fingers with Claudius' and inched closer so her shoulder rested against his.

"Yes. You should come next time," Claudius said, as he suddenly found himself blurting out words, albeit awkward ones. "Ewwiekewwieikkie misses you," he said, attempting to tug at her heart strings, but the direct way he delivered it came more as an emotional wrench. "We went to celebrate the adoption of Melickielickie. You have a new sister," he told her, quickly, as he was still a bit out of sorts from the news that Sierra was pregnant and Jelena was back. He had just delivered her a one-two punch of fast family facts.

Jelena was just about to throw shade on Zara when her father *finally* said something more than her name. "She does?" she asked, sounding a bit upset, as she knew that her Squib sister could not understand why she was absent. But before she could even emotionally process that there was the news that Melickielickie, the young Squib whom she had met on New Alderaan, had joined the family. "Oh. I do?" she asked, as suddenly she went from sad to happy, as her father took her on an emotional rollercoaster to make up for her missing Auntie Maeland. "Well, you've all been busy," she said, as she briefly looked to Sierra. Something was definitely *different* about her father.

"She does. It would do her a lot of good if you spent some time with her before you leave. She misses you. No matter what explanation we give her, none is going to be good enough." Sierra replied seriously. "She and Melickielickie have quickly bonded. We also allowed her to get a miniature bantha. As you can imagine, it makes life around the estate a little. . . chaotic." By the tone of her voice, she seemed pleased with that fact. She and Claudius had lived within the estate alone. It wasn't right. The news from the morning confirmed that they'd have children in the house for years longer. She nervously wondered how Jelena would react to that news.

"Wait a second. You have two Squibs and a Bantha living with you?" Jelena asked, in a mixture of shock and disbelief. "Glad I moved out," she said, but quickly flinched when she realized how it had pained her father. "Sorry," she said, as she looked down at the table. "You'll need a lot of shampoo. *A lot*," she said to Sierra, as she recalled her own experiences Squibsitting in her youth. "Any word on Drusilla?" she asked, as she wondered if she had married that Prince after all. In the past year her family had changed so much.

Claudius flinched when he heard Jelena was glad that she moved out, but as he reflected it on he understood why a girl her age would not want to be living with her parents. "Yes. Two Squibs *and* a bantha," he repeated, and even he did not know how Sierra managed the household at this point. And now with an infant, and a new bay on the way, Sierra was going to need an entire squad of nanny droids to keep up with everyone. He was careful not to say anything that could turn this touching family reunion into an awkward political encounter. His ears suddenly perked when he heard the unmistakable sound of Imperial Stormtroopers marching on the marble floors of the castle ... Governor Arundel and his entourage had arrived. "You have to go..." he said to Jelena, before turning his head to Sierra.

"Yeah... Ewwiekewwieikkie suggested we use spoons to buy a bigger house." Sierra said with a laugh. She understood why Jelena was glad she moved out, but also saw how it could hurt Claudius. She squeezed his hand. "I buy it in bulk these days." The shampoo, that is. The brunch seemed to be going by as well as it could until a certain Governor decided to rain on their parade. She heard the Stormtroopers. Zara had made it known to her that a stipulation of Claudius being allowed on Delaya was that *he* was allowed to show up. She hated Papius Arundel, but, as long as she had her husband, she felt like he couldn't pick on her. She was concerned about making sure Jelena was safe. She rose from the table. "Your father is absolutely right. You *have* to go." She frowned. Each time they said goodbye, Sierra feared it would be the last. Her arms wrapped around her friend in a tight squeeze. "Never forget, we're always here for you if you need *anything*. I love you."

Jelena sighed when she heard the sound of Stormtroopers marching through the castle. It was very painful for her to know that her home was under Imperial occupation. "I understand, and thank you," she said to each of them, before she raised her hand to her helmet, to slide the blast shield down over her head. With that, she slid away from the table, and began to move back into hiding until the evening of the ball. She missed her family, but she felt the Rebellion needed her, or perhaps ... she needed them. As she brushed past a squad of Stormtroopers she wanted to cry, but hew time on New Alderaan had made her strong enough not to.

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