'Coronation' was the single word that Zara Rodney
did not want to hear anymore. All kinds of people
were coming out of the woodwork, contacting her and
Marcus in one way or another for details on the
coronation. A date had been set, and as it pressed
closer, the young woman felt more and more like she
was going to explode...or maybe that was her *due
date* that was resulted in that feeling. Though the
couple had returned to the chalet, they were only
granted peace away from the HoloNet terminal.
They were in a difficult transition currently. With
no turbolift (though Zara was already 'throwing a
fit' to make sure one was put in the castle before
they made their move), that left the couple staying
inside of a bedroom on the lower floor intended for
guests. She was doing best to be supportive and
strong for her husband. She was there for every step
of his recovery. At night, when she couldn't get
comfortable enough to sleep, she worried about the
Governor ever connecting the dots that Marcus was
the man who had been laid out just outside Papius'
garrison. She needed to figure out a way to make
sure he could *stand* for the coronation ... but
She had worked with ships enough that she understood
their mechanics. The mechanics of making something
invisible to the naked eye to help Marcus stand was
infinitely more difficult. Currently, she was busily
being frustrated by her side project. She sat on the
couch with her swollen feet elevated on the table in
front of her. She had a stylus in one hand and a
datapad in the other. Her latest drawing now showed
scribbles all over it. Another failed attempt.
Letting out a groan, Zara rested the datapad atop
her tummy and sat back. She was running out of
Marcus Rodney was sitting in a large, comfortable
chair with his legs up on a footrest, with a knit
blanket wrapped tightly around his lower
extremities. He looked, and felt, like a man twice
his age. Not being able to walk, or even use his
legs, had made the revered bounty hunter feel as
helpless as a young child. And he was ten days away
from having two children of his own who he worried
he would not be able to help with. The weight on his
shoulders was almost too much to bare, and as he sat
there eating his soup he barely said a word. The
only noise was the sound of him *slurp*ing the soup.
His eyes moved across to her, where she seemed
equally lost in her work on the datapad. "What're
you up to?" he asked, as he placed his half eaten
bowl of soup aside.
It was overwhelming for both of them. The twins
could arrive at any point, yet Zara's body decided
she wouldn't be fortunate enough to go into labor
earlier. She had seen a study on the HoloNet that
spicy food had been proven to inspire early labor,
and so, she'd been testing out that theory. So far?
Nada. Nothing but heartburn. She felt that she would
be better for Marcus if she wasn't an unstable
hormonal sea cow. Her natural worries about
motherhood bred with all the other worries. Above
all else, she felt insanely overprotective over her
husband. She needed to keep him safe.
The datapad on her stomach was suddenly kicked off
to the ground as she gasped. The twins wanted out as
badly as she wanted them out at this point. Rubbing
her belly, she responded. "I was trying to design
something for you... Something that can help you
stand, at least for public's sake." She bent over,
reaching across the mountain of her stomach to
collect her datapad. "I'm afraid that Papius will
find out who you are. I already think he's
suspicious since I had to pretend to be you in the
herdship. If we can fool him...if we can make you
walk...then he'll leave you alone." Her concern for
her husband rang out in her words. She loved him
beyond all else. At things stood, Zara *couldn't*
protect him from Papius Arundel. She didn't posses
the lithe, lean form of an active thief. Instead,
she was a slow moving target.
"The man's a fool, which should mean he's easy to
fool," Marcus said with a reassuring smile, as he
stretched his neck to attempt to look over at her,
but he could not quite reach far enough. "I suppose
there's no way out of a formal coronation..." he
said, as he had in his mind began considering
excuses to bow out of the ceremony. "Well, let's see
what you have," he said, swallowing nervously, as he
wondered if this was something she could pull off.
His wife was a technical wizard, but could she
really pull off something like this? To him it
seemed impossible, but Zara had surprised him
Zara smiled. "Not unless I go into labor. That will
only prolong it, not cancel it." She had looked back
into his family history to see if there was *any
way* out of it. Zara had found no shreds of hope.
Nothing. They were going to have to make do with it.
Slowly, she rose from the couch and waddled towards
him with the datapad in her hand. "I dunno how good
this is. There's a lot I have to figure out." She
explained shyly while removing her angry scribbles
from her blueprint. She showed him her drawing. It
depicted a device which was composed with metals. It
was made to follow down the length of both of his
leg to the bottom of his foot. The problem was
determining how to stabilize him. There would have
to be something involved in the portion that went
around his pelvis. All of it seemed farfetched and,
quite frankly, a terrible idea. "I... I'm not sure.
I've been trying to think of a design that's slim
enough that no one will notice it under your
clothing, but it also has to accomplish the task
without using a cane or some outside support
"Let's just hope you don't go into labor during the
coronation. Now that would be quite the scene,"
Marcus said, as he looked carefully at his wife's
schematics. "Well it *looks* wonderful. If we ever
lose the throne you can always move to Corellia and
sell caricatures at the beach," he said, with a
loving smile, as he leaned up to place a quick peck
on her cheek. "I have a lot of these parts in the
armor," he said to her, as he looked it over more
carefully. "The rest should be fairly easy to get
without attracting any attention. It's worth a try,"
he said, he trying to encourage her, and recognizing
the effort she put into it. He would never be able
to serve as Duke of Delaya without Zara at his side
as Duchess, and he knew it.
"Noooo! That *can't* happen. The last thing the
people of Delaya is more ammunition to support the
theory that I'm some trashy commoner." She groaned.
If Livia was still alive, this would have killed
her. Zara had found herself living under a
microscope since the news that she and Marcus would
be the Duke and Duchess had broken to the public.
The fashion police had even devoted a new section on
their site to her called 'Muumuu Watch'. Her hand
ran over his arm idly. She let out a soft chuckle.
"I'm glad you've already thought out our plan B."
She turned her face so as he kissed her cheek, she
told a kiss to his! "You do?!" Getting the parts was
another portion of the battle. Again, without
raising suspicion, Zara needed some pretty serious
stuff. His support was what she needed right now to
push her to try to accomplish her impossible task.
"Okay, I'll check out your armor and see what else I
need to get. We're running out of time already. Some
woman contacted me to come in for a fitting. What
the hell... Do they actually make nice clothes in my
size?" She couldn't do this without him. Every step,
even the little steps, were terrifying. Slowly, Zara
boarded the arm of his chair. She wrapped both of
her arms around her husband. "We'll get it all
figured out. It's kinda what we do."
"Of course they make nice clothes in your size,
Zara. Every designer in the Core is lining up to
dress you for the coronation," Marcus said,
realizing that all eyes would be on her and he could
wear any old thing. Just then he could spot lights
out of the window followed by the unmistakable sound
of a ship's engine. "Looks like my walking will have
to wait. We have company," he said, as he reached
under the blanket where his Model 434 blaster pistol
was concealed. It could have been the Empire, or
someone from his bounty hunter days looking for
revenge, or it could have simply been family. He
never knew what to expect these days, but he did
know that even if he had to crawl he would fight to
defend his family.
El-Nay Darr had piloted an Imperial shuttle to
Delaya on a routine courier mission for a very
important person, her newest friend, Sierra Rodney.
As she was an honorable woman she had not inspected
the contents of the box she was delivering, so as a
result she did not know she was carrying the crown
jewels of Delaya. As she landed beside the small
chalet where Marcus and Zara had retreated from
society she was mindful of Sierra's warning about
the creature in the lake, but she was not afraid. As
she descended the ramp instead of walking to the
chalet she moved towards the lake to see for
herself. "I bet there ain't even anything in there,"
she boasted, cockily, as she moved upon the ice. She
spun around 360-degrees, looking all around, but
seeing nothing she was confident Sierra was playing
a joke on her she began heading towards the chalet.
*That* was when disaster struck. The ice cracked
suddenly and a tentacles emerged from beneath as
swift as lightning, wrapping around her right leg,
and dropping her to the ground. "Gaah!" she
screamed, as the creature began pulling her into the
icy water. She quickly activated her jetpack, but
rather than bursting her free, all she managed to do
was to keep the creature from pulling her further
under. Thinking fast she activated the flamethrower
on her wrist gauntlet, shooting a column of flame
down at the tentacle, which caused it to release her
and retreat under the water. Unfortunately, her
jetpack was still at its maximum speed when it
released and it sent her towards the chalet at
maximum speed. She crashed through the window,
coming to a stop directly in front of Marcus and
Zara. She was dazed, but, remembering her mission
she quickly motioned towards the box. "Your
sister-in-law wanted you to have this," she
reported, without missing a beet. This was perfectly
normal for her.
The coronation was an overwhelming topic for her.
She had watched his brother and her sister-in-law
endure the ceremony. Sierra had even given her tips
on how to survive it whilst on the herdship.
Regardless, she was insecure and afraid of
embarrassing him. Unlike him, she hadn't grown up in
the public's eye. She saw things on the HoloNet that
played with her hormones...and her insecurities. She
felt like she needed to be *more* than what she was,
yet her birthright was something she could never
change. Her emotional state was mostly due to how
pregnant she was. You have no idea how massively
uncomfortable she was. Her head snapped towards the
front door. The sounds of an intruder were
unwelcoming. She worried first that Papius had sent
someone to see Marcus, or the Governor himself had
shown up. Zara rose to her feet and tensed. "Who is
it..?" They had a fierce security system outside.
She intended to check surveillance before anyone
entered the chalet.
That was her intent anyway. With El-Nay, entrances
are always key. The large, bay window before the
couple exploded as the Mandalorian made her sudden
entrance. If not for her distinct orange armor, the
woman would have been shot down the very second she
crashed into their adobe. Zara had never liked
El-Nay. The girl rubbed her in the wrong way to the
point where she didn't back down even once she saw
who it was. Maybe it was that El-Nay reminded her of
a younger Luna in some aspects. Maybe it was
entirely irrational and unseeded in any logical
reason. She looked towards the box. It was from
Sierra? "I don't want it! Take it back to her!" Zara
could only assume that her sister-in-law was furious
with her and sending some sort of hate gift. "Take
it back and fix my window!" Zara cried.
As the window crashed, Marcus swiftly drew his Model
434 blaster pistol from beneath the blanket,
preparing to firing it. If the entrant had been
wearing any color besides orange he surely would
have blasted them into oblivion. "Use the door," he
complained, as he placed his weapon back down. When
he saw the box he wondered what on Delaya could be
worth all that trouble, but before he could
investigate Zara had already declined it. He had no
choice but to side with his wife, and it was clear
to him she was not yet ready to accept anything from
his brother or sister-in-law. "Return it," he
demanded, echoing his wife's sentiments. "And exit
through the damn door," he said, glaring down at her
from his chair.
El-Nay stood up slowly before thrusting her hands
upon her body to knock the dust off. "Oh no. I
didn't come all this way carrying this box just to
have to bring it back," she said to both of them, as
she extended her hand with the box. "Take it. Or I'm
going to get in trouble," she said, frustrated that
she had found herself in the middle of some family
dispute. "I'm sorry about the window, but this
creature attacked me and I had to get away," she
said, lowering her head and making excuses. "How
about I just leave it here?" she suggested, as a
compromise. In her mind that constituted doing the
job that was asked of her. Her debt to Sierra would
not permit her to fail the mission.
What the hell was in the box? Zara stared at it. She
was still waiting for repercussions to be served for
shooting her pregnant sister. It hadn't been a great
moment in her life, she'd admit that much, but she
couldn't handle retribution right now. She perched
herself back on the chair. The broken window was
allowing for an icy chill to sweep into the chalet.
She'd need to move Marcus and summon someone to have
the window properly fixed. . . more to add to her
lengthy to-do list. "Sir Tentacles? Is he okay? Did
you do anything to him?" The sea beast was their
protector. He had paid his rent on more than one
occasion. The compromise didn't seem good enough for
Delaya's newest Duchess. She looked at El-Nay
suspiciously. "You open it. Let me see what's inside
the box." She recalled when Julius had hired her to
make peace. Perhaps this was a peace offering and
not hate mail. Zara sighed. Her hand moved into her
husband's. The perks of living in the chalet were
soon to fade. Visitors would be a common thing once
"Uh. What?" El-Nay said, as she glared at Zara from
beneath her helmet. "Is the creature okay? How
about, am I okay?" she asked, suddenly becoming very
insulted at her question. "It tried to drag me under
the lake so I gave him a taste of my my
flamethrower," she boasted, before bringing her arm
up over her torso and slamming her hand into her
chest plate triumphantly. "Fine. Fine, I'll open
it," she muttered, as she set it down upon the
coffee table. All of Zara's concern had worn off on
her, and as she held her hand against the opening
she began to wonder if maybe there was something
more to it than she realized. She closed her eyes
flipping the lid open and when an explosion did not
occur she slowly opened her eyes. What she saw was
nothing short of amazing, causing her mouth to hang
open in awe beneath her helmet. In front of her view
were the crown jewels of Delaya. "Listen, honey. If
you don't want 'em I'll take 'em," she said, as she
swung her head in Zara's direction.
She rolled her eyes. If the sea beast had attacked
her, then she had almost certainly gotten too close.
Zara folded her arms over her chest. She didn't
blink as El-Nay slowly began to open the box after
placing it before them. As soon as she saw what was
inside, she realized she should have thought of it
since the beginning: the crown jewels of Delaya. The
contents of the box had been in their family for
centuries. They served as yet another reminder that
time was running out: the coronation was coming.
Zara needed to work on her prototype. She glared at
El-Nay. "No! These pieces are important to our
family... Even if I'm not happy to see them." Sierra
had told her the crown was heavier than you realized
until it was on your head. She had wondered if those
words were metaphorical or not. Zara's shoulders
fell in defeat. "Tell Sierra thanks... " Her eyes
were already moving from El-Nay to the front door,
hoping she got the point.
"I will, Duchess," El-Nay said, with a very poor
curtsey. Once the exchange had been made, instead of
leaving, she just stood there with her hand extended
as if she was expecting a tip for delivering the
box. Only when it looked like Marcus was about to
shoot her did she move away from Zara and begin to
leave ... this time through the door. As she walked
towards the ship she considered firing her rocket
into the lake to make one last effort at the sea
monster, but she decided it was not worth her
trouble. Instead, she dutifully returned to the ship
to head back for more mindless Imperial service.
"Well, that was thoughtful of them," Marcus said,
carefully, in a gentle effort to make nice with Zara
considering the rest of the family. "You going to
try it on?" he asked, as he looked at the large
tiara, which could have passed for a crown on some
worlds. "I've been told it's going to practice," he
said to her, with a smirk, and a soft laugh. "Go
ahead and set the crown on me, if you feel you can
lift it," he joked, as his eyes looked over towards
it with some reverence. They had been in the family
for more than 700 years and he had come to respect
them, despite the fact he never expected, nor
wanted, to become Duke. However, now that he and his
wife were to assume the mantle, he thought it only
right that they should have all of the perks that
came with the job.
Zara watched El-Nay leave with discomfort. She meant
to threaten the woman not to bother her sea beast,
but then opted not to. If she wanted to fight with
Sir Tentacles, then she would find herself in a
world of hurt. The beast was massive and powerful,
as they had learned from a first-hand close
encounter. When she was gone, she turned her
attention onto the contents of the box. She looked
at the tiara. "It's huge! It looked a lot smaller
when we weren't close to it." She eased herself when
the sounds of El-Nay's ship disappeared. Reaching
into the box, Zara's hands carefully took hold of
the crown. "Oh gez," she said, surprised to discover
how heavy it was. "You're not kidding. If I lifted
this thing every day, my arms would be huge."
Between both of her hands, Zara lifted the crown
from the box. Her hands were visibly shaking from
fear of dropping the crown and injuring herself.
Clearly, the crown would win. "I'm pregnant, I'm not
supposed to be doing any heavy lifting." She stuck
her tongue out at him playfully. She stood before
him, carefully lowering the crown onto his head.
"How's that?" She asked him, adjusting it. The tiara
was the next piece that she brought out of the box.
She offered it to him rather than putting it on
herself. "You look like a Duke, Marcus." She leaned
in, kissing his cheek.
Marcus let out a soft groan as the crown was placed
upon his head, thankful that his neck did not snap
from the sheer weight of it. "I don't think I'd be
able to walk with this even if I had not been shot,"
he said, as his hands quickly moved towards the side
of the crown to make another adjustment.
"Fortunately, we don't have to wear these very long,
or often," he said, as he tilted his head down to
look at the tiara that she had handed him. He
reached up with all of his strength to place it upon
her head. "You deserve this. More than any other
woman I have ever met," he said to her, as he looked
up from his helpless position. "You are the best
possible Duchess to lead the people of Delaya out of
the ashes," he said to her, as he leaned back to
simply look up at her and admire how she looked with
the tiara upon her head.
"You're right. They took them off Sierra and
Claudius super fast at their coronation." That was
something to look forward to. She couldn't imagine
wearing something that heavy on her head all the
time. Looking at Marcus, she felt her pride in her
husband swell. He may have not wanted the crown, but
he deserve to wear it. Her insecurities lied in if
*she* deserved to wear the literal ton of tiara in
her husband's hands. As she had been warned, the
tiara was heavy. As it settled in the crown of her
soft silvery hair, Zara felt no different. She was
still herself...still the woman that Marcus loved.
His words were immensely touching. She began to cry
almost spontaneously. He always knew what to say,
when to say it, and how to make her feel a lot
better about *everything*. "Marcus!" She sniffed.
Her arms locked around him tightly. Her lips pressed
into his. The transitional period in their lives was
scary, but, as long as they had each other, they'd
keep riding it out forever and ever.