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Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:5:3) in the Ottega system: Jubilee.
Doctor Alessandra Bailo, Lord Marcus Rodney, Lady Zara Rodney, Lieutenant Arrik Rost, and Doctor Pilaq Tohan.

The door to Marcus and Zara's quarters aboard the Ithorian herdship Jubilee opened suddenly and without warning revealing the arrival of Lieutenant Arrik Rost of the Imperial Security Bureau ... a loyalty officer. With the door already open, the Lieutenant raised his hand and knocked it against the bulkhead thrice. "Milords?" he asked, hoping they were decent, but given their reputation via the HoloNet he found that an extremely unlikely occurrence. "I would like to take a moment to speak to you about a recent development that has given us some concern," he explained, as he barged into their room without receiving permission to. The lanky Imperial barely fit into his cream tunic and black trousers. His nose hung low, and pointed out in front of his face. He was a man who looked suited to his position.

Privacy seemed to be something Marcus and Zara had a serious problem with in their lives. First, there was Miss Frumpy Hat herself who took to barging into their room at Castle Rodney, then there was the great Sea Island incident (which environmentalists were now using to generate credits to continue protecting the islands), and now *this*. The young couple had a one month dry spell coming along at any moment, so, they weren't exactly *decent*. The door leading into the bathroom was wide open. Currently, the couple was spending their time behind the shower curtain. Zara was happily washing her husband's hair while he bent down so she could actually reach his head. She was in an incredibly good mood. "Can we go to Auntie Mae's later?" She asked. "I went earlier but someone had bought up all the sweet potato ice cream. Who does that!?... And no, it wasn't me." She laughed. "Okay, your hair's all clean. Get out the soap so you can do mine next." She turned around, revealing all of that long, silvery hair. She wondered if she would pass it along to one of the twins.

All was good until she heard the sound of a strange man in their room. He didn't sound Ithorian. Their double mouths tended to make their voices distinct. Zara frowned. She was looking forward to a lovely scalp massage from her husband. "Why do people never knock..?" The slicer slid the shower curtain just slightly to the side. She could see the ISB officer. He wore a cream tunic identical to that of her sister-in-law's. She hid away back in the shower. "There's an ISB guy in our room, Marcus..." After all of the Imperial interactions that had been going on lately, she wished they would just leave her family be. "What do we do?"

Marcus was enjoying his day as a pampered princess, having his wife wash his hair and spoil him. He was just about to return the favor when the ISB loyalty office barged into their quarters. "Darn!" he said, as he shut the water off, and frowned at her. "I guess I won't be able to wash your hair," he said, with a playful sigh and a fake pout. "What do we do? Well, you can start by getting dressed!" he instructed, as he pulled back the shower curtain and reached for a towel. Drying her pregnant body reminded him of hosing off his transport after a particularly messy adventure in Hutt Space. As he dried his wife off he began to dress, helping her into a tent sized muumuu. "Just a moment," he said, angrily, as he opened the refresher door and walked out to confront the officer. "What gives you the right to just barge in here?" he asked, flexing his status as a nobleman, but as he said it, he realized that it was in his and his wife's best interest for him to calm his temper.

Where did all this hair come from!? Zara was forced to wonder while she squeezed the water from it into the shower. She was sad that she had missed a wonderful Marcus hair washing, but she was pretty sure she had the means to convince him to do it later. "But getting me dressed takes forever." She told him, finding it necessary to him to dry her off in order to get truly dry. She felt hugenormous at this point. If you put her next to a Delayan sea cow, she was sure she'd be the bigger of the two. She frowned, holding up her arms while Marcus dressed her in a muumuu. She recalled a time when she wore clothing that was skin tight. That was a day when she could still see beyond her belly. Instead, belly down had turned into a region known as 'the great unknown'. Zara grabbed a brush and began working it through her hair. She, too, made her way out to see what the ISB officer wanted. She recalled being jailed by Papius...oh, what an ordeal that was. Her temper was right on the tip of her tongue. She wanted to verbally assault the man for being rude. Instead, she sat at the edge of their bed. "What's going on? Why did you just barge into our room?" Yeah, she'd settle with that.

"I will be brief," Lieutenant Rost said, as he offered a subtle nod to each of them. "I am afraid you two have found yourself the victim of another HoloNet scandal," he said, biting his lower lip, in an attempt to feign empathy. "Your presence at Doctor Bailo's class has caused quite the stir. Since you are new here, perhaps you were unaware, but that kind of interaction between humans and the natives is frowned upon," he explained, with a firm nod of his head that caused his black hat to slide down slight. He was careful to raise his head and reposition it perfectly. "Ithorians are a dirty people given the time they spend among their precious plants. We would not want to see your children become infected with their disease," he said, shaking his head dismissively at them. "Due to your connection to Grand Moff Rodney I have taken the liberty of communicating with Grand Moff Wessex' headquarters on Paarin Minor, and they have agreed to send an Imperial medical team to assist you," he said, with a forced diplomatic smile as he looked towards the two.

Zara's skin grew more and more pale. *Another* HoloNet scandal? Since the sea islands, they had kept their intimacy pretty private. She couldn't think of a moment where someone could have seen something. She pictured images of her nude, pregnant body being sold all across the HoloNet. She was beginning to develop a green tint...and it wasn't due to the Ithorians. As the lieutenant cleared up her worried about a sex scandal, he filled her in about a scandal of a different level. It made her sad to hear that people frowned upon their interaction with the natives. She really liked the Ithorians. Zara could easily see past the division of their species. She didn't like how he spoke. *Dirty* people, her children *infected* with their *disease*!? Zara didn't like this man...not for a second!

But then everything had to get worse. "Wh...What...?" She didn't want an Imperial medical team. Pilaq had been their doctor for some time now. She liked his sass and how down-to-earth he was. She trusted him because of his lengthy affiliation with the Rodney family. She didn't want a *stranger* assisting her. She didn't think fighting with this man was going to get them much of anywhere. She *really* didn't want them to end up jailed again...and so, she did what any eight month pregnant woman might do. She faked contractions while hoping her husband would catch on to her act before he passed out from ass-clenching fear. "That's very ki-" Zara began, suddenly clenching her stomach. "Owwww!" It was like her act summoned the real deal. Her stomach felt tight and uncomfortable. Every trimester had its demon. For the third trimester, it was the lovely contractions her body decided to do randomly to get ready for the big day. She dramatically fell back on the bed, writhing in pain while hoping that the ISB office might get the hint and go away!

Marcus was grinding his teeth as he listened to the Lieutenant describe the Ithorian people in such vile ways. However, before he could respond, Zara groaned in pain and he rushed to her side. He placed his arms around her and began to lead her towards the bed. "I'm sorry, Lieutenant, but you'll have to leave," he insisted, as he focused all of his attention on his wife. He felt like he was taking on emotional whiplash as he switched from anger at the Lieutenant to fear for his wife. "What is wrong? Should I call for Doctor Tohan?" he asked, making a point to say that in front of the ISB loyalty officer. "Is this because I didn't wash your hair?" he asked her, as his hand moved to rub her head. He did his best to bring levity to the situation to try and keep everything calm. On the inside he was terrified.

The Lieutenant sneered dismissively at Zara's outburst, assuming it was a ruse to get rid of him. "I bid you good day, milord," he said, hating having to use that term to describe him. He nodded his head to the man, before turning on his heels and exiting their quarters. He could not wait until his small command was rid of Marcus and Zara Rodney. He did not want them meddling in his Imperialization efforts aboard the herdship. The return of the troublesome former herd leader Pilaq Tohan also failed to go without notice ... *he* could be the bigger problem.

Zara hated being at the mercy of her contractions. These days, it would be much easier to have her body before it became pregnant. She was confident that her and Marcus could make a difference if only... She sat on the bed. "Contractions..." Zara grumbled. Even her high pain tolerance was knocked down by the discomfort she felt. She didn't want to worry Marcus, but she waited to comfort him until they were rid of the ISB officer. Her husband made her laugh softly while shaking her head. "No. You spoil me rotten, you don't need to wash my hair too." Her 'ruse' worked because the awkward man left. When she was sure the door was closed, Zara looked up Dat her husband. "I'm okay." She reassured him. "This is supposedly 'normal'. Don't worry." She made a face. "I was trying to pretend to make that guy go away. Then my body was like 'hey, why not!?' That guy was an *ass*." Zara remained seated while battling her way through the brief fit of contractions. If this was getting ready, then she didn't know what the real deal would be like.

"Why did he talk like that about the Ithorians? They are kindhearted. I don't see them as dirty or diseased. I'm not going to let any team of *Imperial* medics examine me. We have a doctor." She was so used to the way his family just accepted aliens. Claudius had his Squib daughter and it was well-known that he worked around various species. Zara loved watching her niece go wild for all things shiny. "I can't believe this is our new scandal."

Marcus frantically began moving all of the pillows behind Zara in an attempt to make her more comfortable. He had never seen her like this, and was beginning to grow gravely concerned. If this was what the next month was going to be like he would like age several years. "Normal?!" he repeated, in a panic, as if in disbelief. As the subject turned to the Lieutenant, his eyes moved towards the door to make sure that the man was gone. "There are many in the Empire who are not fond of alien species," he explained, as he began rubbing his wife's head in a further attempt to comfort her. "It goes back to the Clone Wars when so many species sided with the Confederacy," he explained, but he knew there was more to it than that. For now he was more concerned with the noises his wife was making rather than the Empire's xenophobia.

He was making her feel much more comfortable. Zara leaned back against the wall of pillows that he had built. She tried to relax her tensed body. The only problem was that she was *angry*! She was *furious*! She saw this whole Ithorian hate as a challenge. Like heck if she was going to stop hanging around them because some Imperials had differing opinions on alien races. Her fingers traced over her stomach like she was trying to make it stop hurting. His head rub was helping her, calming her. The storm of pain began to slowly end. She remained seated as to not further agitate the gods of pregnancy. "Can't I refuse treatment from their Imperial medic team? I've gotten really comfortable with Pilaq. He actually cares about our family. Whatever mess is going on with the HoloNet is only going to get worse... But maybe...maybe we can help spread the right message about Ithorians."

"Of course you can refuse their treatment, Zara," Marcus said, as he settled in next to her on the bed, with what little space his pregnant wife allowed him as they neared the end. "As far as I'm concerned Doctor Tohan is our doctor," he said, as he leaned forward, placing his lips to hers in a brief kiss so as not to exert her during this difficult time. "I think it would be great if we spread that message, Zara, but I think we should speak with Pilaq first," he said, as he placed his head upon her stomach. He closed his eyes as he lay his cheek there, trying to get closer to the twins. They would be with him in less than a month, but after eight long months he was beginning to become impatient. He felt like Drusilla.

She fully planned on it. The strong-willed pregnant woman couldn't be moved ... *literally*. She nuzzled herself against her husband's side. Having him near, having him be so supportive and sweet with her was helping to make her feel better. The pain had subsided. Now she was trying to settle. She kissed him lovingly. What in the world would she do without Marcus Rodney? She basked in the warmth of his love. It made her very, *very* happy all of a sudden. "I think that's a good idea too. Let's summon him... Do you think we should call for Doctor Bailo too?" She couldn't help snickering.

Lying there, she watched him place his cheek to her stomach. It seemed like the twins were in constant motion these days. It was like they wanted out even worse than their parents wanted it. She could feel each kick and punch as they grew excited to have another one of their favorite people nearby. As crazy as the class had been, it had also sent her impatience into overdrive. Her hand ran through his hair softly. "They're really going to be here soon. I bet Sia and Darrus will be like ... ridiculously beautiful. We'll put all other babies to shame with our amazing super babies."

"Oh you're cruel," Marcus said, with a sheepish grin and a subtle laugh. He leapt from his ten-percent of the bed and moved towards the comm unit. In short order he summoned *both* Doctor Tohan and Doctor Bailo to their quarters. "If anyone asks I'm saying it was *your* idea," he told her, as he smirked at her from across the room. "Of course they'll be ridiculously beautiful. Just look at me," he said to her, as he raised his hand to her hair that she had so adeptly washed earlier. He then sauntered back towards the pose, doing elaborate poses for the imaginary paparazzi that were usually with them. "Now, now. Don't go *too* far," he told her, as he sat down on his portion of the bed that seemed to be shrinking rapidly. By tonight he imagined he would be on the floor beside the bed.

Zara giggled. "Okay, you can blame me... And when we're at their wedding, I'm gonna say, 'I did that!'" What was a Ithorian wedding like!? She hoped that she had the opportunity to find out once in her lifetime. The pressure was on, Pilaq. While Marcus posed, Zara pretended to be a paparazzi. She took photos with her fake camera. "Ooooh, Lord Rodney, do that pose again!" She faked a silly accent while laughing her way through it. Zara felt bad for all the space she took up on the bed. She wondered if they should have asked for a room with two beds so they could push them together to create one, gigantic bed.

Doctor Alessandra Bailo had just finished up her rounds at the medcenter. She stood at the Ithorian nurse window, looking down at all the young infants who would soon go home. She wore a smile on both of her faces. As much as she loved working on the Jubilee, lately she found herself desiring *more*. A nurse stopped by to let her know that she had been summoned to the Rodney suite. "Goodnight, children." She whisper to the young, heading straight towards their suite.

The news of Zara and Marcus' latest HoloNet scandal had already been brought up to her. She was aware that people were saying some colorful things about Ithorians. She wondered if she was being summoned to the suite to calm the young couple. The Ithorian doctor rounded a corner into the corridor where their room was. She was shocked to see Pilaq Tohan making his way to the exact same room. Given that he was Zara's official doctor, she shouldn't have been so thrown off. Instead, Doctor Bailo began to blush. "D-Doctor Tohan," she stuttered, pausing outside Zara's room. She thought she'd never see him again. It reminded her of life many moons ago that he had come back, no matter how brief his visit was.

When Doctor Tohan received the message from Marcus Rodney that he was needed it did not come at all as a surprise given that this was Zara's first pregnancy and she was so close to her delivery date. Grabbing hold of his medical kit in one hand, and his walking stick in the other, he began his slow but steady movement towards their quarters. As he turned the corridor he spotted Doctor Bailo and wondered if he had received the message. He turned around as fast as he could, which turned out to be painfully slow, when he heard her call his name. Blast, he had been seen, he thought to himself, as he clung to his walking stick and debated his next action. "Greetings, Doctor Bailo," he said, as he turned back towards her and Marcus and Rodney's cabin. He kept his large hammer shaped head hung low, avoiding eye contact at any and all cost.

Alessa wasn't preoccupied with expectant couples this time when she saw the doctor. She picked up that he was avoiding her. There were only two reasons to avoid someone...and she was quite sure she didn't have anything silly on her face. Maybe he didn't like her. She continued forward until she was standing just outside their door. Her eyes looked over him. She was happy to see him, as seen by her continuous smiles. "I apologize for the other day. I hoped to speak with you, but I had a particularly naughty class to teach." She felt terrible that the videos and pictures had made their way onto the HoloNet. She was going to personally see to it that the couple had the utmost privacy should Zara give birth to her children on the herdship. "I..." She started, hanging her own head. "I hoped we'd have a moment to catch up at some point." She reached up to activate the door. "Let's see to our patient." He wasn't the only one feeling shy. She felt awkward when the door opened. Her eyes landed on Zara on the bed. Marcus had been paying attention in class. She saw how comfortable he had made his wife. She moved towards the bed. "Hello milady, milord. How are you feeling?" Doctor Bailo was like the pregnant woman whisperer. She knew how to inflict a soothing, caring tone when she spoke. She was very gentle.

Zara was very happy to see both Ithorian doctors join them. Now Pilaq would be forced to talk to the lady Ithorian! She was receptive towards Doctor Bailo. "I'm better now! I was having some contractions. Marcus helped make me feel better." She was one proud peacock over her husband.

Pilaq's dual mouths began to chew nervously as Alessa spoke to him, and his response was to simply nod his head in awkward, embarrassed silence. Thankfully they had business to attend to that would quickly break the tension. He followed in behind Doctor Bailo, allowing her to greet the couple first. Having known Marcus for more than two decades he saw no need to be as formal as her. He was simply too old to care about the protocol for greeting nobility. "You are better?" he asked Zara, repeating her words, as he moved towards her with his medkit. "And when did you become a doctor?" he asked her, as he began examining her both with his large bulbous eyes and his medical scanner. "Everything seems in order. The House of Rodney will soon welcome two new members," he declared, with confidence, before moving to take a seat. Standing for lung periods was beginning to become a problem for him.

"When didn't I become a doctor, Pilaq?" Zara teased him with a wide grin. Still, he subjected her to a checkup which provided peace of mind. She liked Pilaq. She didn't know if she could ever give him back to Claudius. The doctor seemed to bring relief, but there was one key word that didn't sit well: soon. How soon!? That was the problem with pregnancy. It involved so much waiting. Zara had spent eight months anxiously anticipated the arrival of their twins. Every day seemed to pass so slow now that they were reaching the ending of her pregnancy. "Thanks for checking up on them. We actually wanted to talk to you both about something else." How did she bring up the ISB officer and the terrible things he spouted? She looked at Marcus. "An ISB officer came into our room earlier. He had some terrible things to say about Ithorians and the stuff that leaked with Marcus and I in your class." She said, nodding her head at Alessa. "Now they are sending a group of Imperial medics. Neither of us want to change how things are."

Doctor Alessa's eyes brightened. Pilaq's sassy attitude certainly hadn't gone anywhere. She looked like she was holding in a chuckle. She stood beside Pilaq, ready to help him with his examination should he need it. She understood the anxiety that first-time mothers felt towards the end. Sometimes your body didn't tell you that it was time until it was too late. She stepped away from Zara, coming to sit in a small, armed chair. She looked distraught by the unwarranted stress that the Imperials were causing the young, pregnant woman. She was aware of how Imperials thought of Ithorians. She made a noise like a 'hmmm', her head lowering slowly.

From his seat across the room he examined Zara with his large eyes with their piercing orange pupils. "If you are in need of medical assistance I will gladly make the effort to come to you, but if you wish to talk ... perhaps you could come to me?" he suggested, already envisioning his long walk back towards the medical facility where he had taken up temporary residence. "It is true that some elements of the Galactic Empire view my people negatively. I opposed this as herd leader when they first came. I was dealt with ... *harshly* ... until your brother personally intervened," he explained, as he looked off into the distance, thinking back to that dark, difficult period in both his life and the life of his people. "As you are no doubt aware the ISB is by far the most wicked of the Imperial officer corps. I advise you ... not just for your sake ... but for your children to avoid them at all cost, and comply with them when able," he explained, slamming the base of his walking stick upon the for added emphasis. He had treated a number of patients who had returned from ordeals at the hands of the ISB and he did not want to see the same fate befall Marcus and Zara.

Zara was beginning to wonder where in the galaxy they could go that the Imperial's hands hadn't touched. She didn't know if going back to Delaya was an option, especially because the Rebels had not succeeded in chasing out Governor Papius. Without Claudius and his wife there, if they were arrested again, no one would bail them out. Pilaq's words rang out in her head. A deep frown formed on her face. Was there no way to fight them? Her and Marcus had always worked hard to keep an arm's length away from the Empire. Now it seemed to be sucking them in, daring to drown them. At this point, Zara's number one priority was finding a safe nest for her family. Not having that was itching at the corners of her sanity. "So ... there's nothing we can do except comply?" Now her mouth felt dry. She didn't regret coming here. Because of that choice, Pilaq was able to survive. She simply hated that people were terrible and that the galaxy was involved in one massive war. "Should we leave..?" Zara asked Marcus. No one knew if the chalet was still standing in the icy northern Delaya.

Doctor Bailo felt for the young couple, but in this manner, she had to side with Pilaq. Her large head nodded up and down slowly. "There are some people who will go very far to make a point. I would suggest allowing the Imperial medical team to take over your prenatal care here on Jubilee." She hated saying it. She had a heart for helping people. She, too, had seen what happened when people defied the ISB. There were many dead inside of the coroner's office that had suffered the worst of fates. "I can understand your concerns, milady, but you have to acknowledge your current state. You'll give birth any day now."

Marcus looked to Zara when she asked him if he should leave, but he was not sure if there was anywhere else to go. He was not sure what the situation on Delaya was, but there was always the option of going to Esseles to join his brother and his family. "What do you think?" he asked his Ithorian hosts, as his head slowly tilted upward to look at each of them. "Should *we* leave?" he asked, as his hand moved across Zara's body to take hold of her hand, clutching it to it dearly as he awaited their response. They had become refugees.

Pilaq suddenly grew very nervous as Zara asked what they could do, as they nearing the line that separated idle talking and treason. "You, Lady Zara, must concentrate on giving birth and assuming the responsibility of motherhood twice over," he said to her, firmly, as he nodded his large head at her. "It is for those without such a responsibility to carry the fight," he said, but his head turned sharply when Doctor Bailo mentioned turning over her medical care to the Empire. "Absolutely not!" he said, as he reached for his walking stick and rose back to his feet in dramatic fashion. "I have seen every member of the House of Rodney come into this world since the Clone Wars and I will not relinquish my duties until I am good and ready!" he said, getting quite out of sorts at the notion that he would be pushed aside. Not for the Empire ... not even for another Ithorian.

Alessa blushed wildly. She hadn't realized that Pilaq had aided the Rodney family in the birth of so many children. She saw how much it mattered to him and no longer wanted to relinquish responsibilities to the Imperials. Her first reaction was to reach over to Pilaq and wrap her long fingers around one of his arms. "I apologize, Doctor. I didn't realize." Her skin was turning a strange red-brown. It was she who would be rushing off shyly after this meeting. "It is your choice to deny their treatment, Lady Zara. My medcenter will continue to be at your disposal. I would not recommend leaving. With the state that your home planet is in, this is the safest place. We can continue to house you, feed you, and provide you with anything else that you need." Zara was too pregnant to be moving all over. Slowly, Alessa released Pilaq. She was getting too old to handle someone who made her feel like she was a young nurse again. That's exactly what she had been last time she saw him.

Zara's fingers weaved between her husband's. She was nervous and stressed for the second time today. She recalled her father, Starcaster, who fought the Empire until he was hung along with his wife and his son. It was an awakening for Zara. Her and Marcus had to stay out of this. She sighed, letting her head rest on his shoulder. "She's right. We have to stay. The last thing I want is to be wandering around in the ship when the twins decide to show up." What Zara wanted most was to go *home*. She'd even be happy to hear the tauntauns screaming while Sir Tentacles made himself a meal and Marcus became furious over it. She wanted the snowy arctic that had kept them, for the most part, safe. They had put so much effort into the nurseries for their children and now they were unsure that they would even get to use them. Zara closed her eyes tight. She shielded herself from both Ithorian doctors and began to cry into Marcus' shoulder.

As Zara began to cry into the arms of her husband, Doctor Tohan sensed it was time for him and Doctor Bailo to leave. "Come, Doctor. Let them have their moment," he said, as he reached forward and opened the door for her. As they exited he waited to see what direction she was going so that he could go the other way, regardless of where it took him, or how much walking it added to his journey. The wise old Ithorian physician had plenty of advice to dish out to others, but none for himself. It was going to be a complicated month in the tight confines of the Jubilee. As he walked he looked towards the Imperial officers collecting payments from the Ithorian merchants as well as helping themselves to unpaid for merchandise. He murmured in a low key at the sorry state his people found themselves in. If he had been stronger all those years ago perhaps this would not have happened, or perhaps they would all be dead like the Alderaanians.

Marcus mouthed 'thank you' to the doctors, as his attention focused entirely on Zara. "Don't cry, Zara," he whispered softly, as his arms attempted to wrap around her, which had become a monumental task as her stomach had grown to accommodate the twins. "We will make the most of our time here," he said to her, as he placed his lips to her forehead. "We will get our home back, but first we need to make sure it's safe," he said, as he thought about home and the rest of his family. "I would investigate, but I do not wish to leave you so close to your delivery," he told her, as he turned his body into her, to intensify the cuddling.

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