Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:5:27) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Leiliani: Rodney Castle).
Doctor Alessandra Bailo, Duke Marcus Rodney, Duchess Zara Rodney, and Doctor Pilaq Tohan.

It was turning out to be a wonderful evening for Duchess Zara Rodney. After days of feeling very, very tired, she'd woken up this morning feeling *good*. Really good. She decided to stop obsessing about when the twins would arrive and celebrate the now with her husband. The cooks had prepared a wonderful meal for them in the garden where Zara could get the taste of fresh air that she'd been denying herself. She sat across from her husband, pleasantly munching on a piece of nerf steak. She had so much energy! It gave her high hopes for an intimate evening in their bedroom once the meal was finished. "This is so nice!" She exclaimed as she looked to the side. The light illuminating the city far, far below looked beautiful from in the castle's garden. The dark night sky did a good job of concealing the pollution. Last Zara had heard, the Ithorians were preparing the best plan to attack Delaya's massive problem. She could hardly wait to start changing the world...but, one thing at a time.

She reached across the table. Her hand came to rest on top of his. "I love you, Marcus." Zara spoke the words so sweetly. Tonight wasn't about anticipating the birth of their children. Tonight was about him. Marcus had endured so much. Zara had been emotionally unstable and exhausted, so she was never sure if she was giving him enough. Tonight, she'd make sure he fell asleep knowing the extent of her love.

It was hard for Marcus to enjoy the freshness of the mountain air when he knew what the remaining citizens of Leiliani had to breath, but he did enjoy the morning with Zara in the lavish garden that he remembered playing games of hide and seek in with his brother in his youth. "I love you as well, Zara," he said, smiling across at her when she patted his hand. "It won't be much longer," he said, prophetically, as he looked at the stomach that was spilling out on top of the table. "I hope the Ithorians have finished transferring the medical equipment. Last I checked the medcenter in the city was not fully operational," he said to her, before wondering if she should check. His level of overprotectiveness had tripled as of late, watching his wife like a hawk, and taking borderline obsessive precautions. He had forgotten that *he* was the clumsy one in the relationship.

Zara was growing impatient with the twins. She'd read, and heard, so many people tell her that twins typically arrived early. In Zara's case? Nope. Nada. The twins seemed content to stay in their mother's womb, assaulting her bladder. The past nine months had seemed like forever simply out of anticipation. In reality, they passed by quickly. She was still feeling some nervousness regarding the whole birthing procedure. She didn't think she was ready...and so, she wasn't keeping an eye on the medcenter or what would be necessary during the process. Her skin seemed to turn a shade more pale as he brought it up. "I don't know.. The twins seem to have gotten cozy again." She wondered how long it would be until Doctor Tohan induced her. Her hand ran over her stomach. The twins were awake and as lively as ever. She sat back in her seat. "I hope everything is ready..." She had gone through a *very* short phase where she felt like she needed to make herself callous to childbirth. She watched a single episode of some horrifying show on the HoloNet about birthing. Eeee. She was scared! She reached to grab her glass of juice, but she had made herself so nervous that she only succeeding in knocking the glass over and spilling its contents onto her dress. "Aw... Damn it..."

The past nine months had sped by, and Zara had seen to it that they were the happiest of his live. He felt like a complete person for the first time in his life. She had made him whole. He gasped when he saw her spill her juice, and he rose from his chair to move to upright her glass and refill it. "Becareful," he pleaded with her, as he reached for a cloth and began dabbing it on her juice stain. "We need more servants," he suggested, as he turned his head slightly to look at her, as he continued drying her. Noticing the close proximity of his face to hers, he moved it a slight distance further and placed his lips against hers in a quick kiss. When done, he pulled away the napkin, and situated himself in the chair beside her, rather than across from her so that he could be closer in the event of another accident.

Until she met Marcus, she hadn't realized that a human being could ever make her feel so happy. She had been busily trying to find happiness in her risky heists. Like some reverse, fucked-up Robin Hood, she stole from the rich to serve the richer. "Sorry..." She frowned, looking as if she might really cry over spilled juice. He helped her out by drying her off and refilling her glass. Zara kissed him. Her otherwise insane emotions stabilized again despite the fact that she felt sticky and yucky from the apple juice. Her hand slide into his. "What would I do without you?" For one, she'd be like a turtle on its backside all the time. That beached whale feeling was starting to get old. She wanted to hold their children at last, but she had no hope that she would be spared from waiting for several more weeks. She began to rise from her seat. "Let's go back to our room." She urged him, wanting to shower and wash away the stickiness. Her hand slid to take his arm. He wasn't the only one in mega overprotective mode. Since the events at the Governor's garrison, Zara had been massively clingy. She simply didn't want anything *else* to happen to him.

"What would we do without each other?" Marcus quickly shot back, as he rose with her, careful to take her by the arm as they returned towards their room. How they were ever going to do *all* those stairs was beyond him. He had considered converting a room on the ground floor to make their lives easier, but he had security concerns with making her so accessible. And so they began to ascend the spiral staircase that would eventually lead to their bedroom. Several hours later, or at least what felt like it, they arrived back at their suite. "Phew," he said, as he winked at her, beginning to understand what the movers had gone through when bringing the furniture up and down.

She was glad that she would never have to find out what life would be like without him. Zara loved him much too much to ever let anything happen to them. As for the stairs...they had become a mortal enemy of the Duke and Duchess. Zara counted them every time she went up to inspire herself. She was like the little engine that could; 'I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!' On her way up, she began to feel horrified. She wasn't sure if she had spilled more apple juice than she realized, or if she'd simply had a little preggers accident. Regardless, she rushed up the remainder of the stairs so that her husband could *never* know if she did something terrifying like that. All of her pregnancy, she'd had an irrational fear about peeing herself. Had it come true!? "Oh my gosh, that sucked." She laughed nervously, shaking her fist at the stairs. "I.. I'm gonna take a quick shower, okay? I feel like such an idiot for spilling juice on myself.." Zara made herself disappear very quickly after that. She didn't bother grabbing something to change into. Inside the bathroom, she wrote off her weird feeling to apple juice. The silver-haired girl quickly stripped down and waddled her way into the shower. *Sighhhh*. The warm water felt so lovely. She turned her back to the water and let it massage down her aching body. That's when the weird feeling overcame her for a second time. "What the heck..?" Zara grumbled to herself. She *knew* she wasn't peeing! It was uncontrollable. It was... It was... "*MarcusMarcusMarcusMarcus*!" She yelled from the bathroom. The panic sound in her voice was enough to shave a decade off of any man's life. She sounded terrified unlike ever before. "*Marcus*!"

Foolishly, Marcus had thought he might use Zara's shower time to close his eyes and catch a quick rest. But nearly as soon as he closed his eyes and began to doze off he heard the horrible sound of Zara screaming. In a whirlwind he lept from the bed and streaked across the room towards the refresher. "Zara! What is it?" he asked, as he stepped into the refresher and practically tore off the shower door so that he could gaze upon her. "What is it?" he asked, and then he looked down, and began to hyperventilate. He took her by the back and slowly guided her down to the floor of the shower so that she would not fall. Once she was settled, he moved to turn the water off and then checked on her. "Wait here. I'm going to contact the doctors," he informed her, moving towards the comlink. "Doctor Tohan. Doctor Tohan. The babies are coming!" he screamed onto the comm and then, providing no additional information, lay the comm down and returned to Zara's side. "Help is coming," he told her, as he took her hand and squeezed it for support.

On the ground floor Doctor Tohan's bulbous eyes grew increasingly large when he heard Marcus' voice. Then it dawned upon him that they were far above and he feared for both his heart and aching joints. Sending the droids on ahead with what supplies they could manage a caravan began moving up the spiral staircase to care for Zara. There was a buzz around the castle and it was not long before someone had leaked the development to HoloNet News. Spontaneously reporters and citizenry began to flock to the castle, eager for some joyous news after months of suffering. Eventually Doctor Tohan finished his death march up the stairs, having to pause several times to collect himself. "I do hope this is not a false alarm," he told Marcus and Zara, as he peered his head into the refresher.

Zara was nearly hyperventilating. All the worries that she had bottled up inside of her over the final weeks suddenly reached the surface. She was crying by the time Marcus reached her, which didn't take long at all. Her water had broken. With any luck, the twins would arrive before the end of the day. It took her husband to urge her down to the floor of the shower. She nodded her head, clutching her tummy like she was afraid everything would happen rapidly...silly Zara. From the refresher, she could hear Marcus' scream clearly. When he returned, her hand latched onto his. "I'm scared." She confessed with a sniff. "What if I'm a bad mommy? What if I'm really bad at child birth? What if Sia hates me when she goes through her rebellious stage? What about Darrus? How do you even wash a penis? I don't have one!" She was being completely irrational and all over the place. In her eyes, right now, these were very real concerns. Maybe she could stay in the shower and hide. That way, she wouldn't have to be a bad mother. Her mother hadn't even been there for most of her life. She could hardly remember the woman at times because she was *never* around.

Meanwhile, the press was already flocking to the castle where they would wait like vultures to hear something. Zara wasn't thinking about anything except how she would combat Sia's teenaged years. Her head poked up when she heard Doctor Tohan's voice. "It's not...I swear. My water broke. The stairs made my water break!" She exclaimed, shaking her fist for a second time in the general direction of the stairs. She clung to Marcus for support. Was she ready for this? Her body was wet and she had begun to shake.

"Don't be scared, Zara. You're going to be an amazing mother, twice over," Marcus said, trying his best to reassure her. His hand moved up from her hand to rub her head, when suddenly he was interrupted by Doctor Tohan. "Look, Doctor Tohan is here," he said, as he did his best to help her up from the floor of the shower. Together with the droids he helped her to the bed, whose sheets would never be able to be used again. "Don't worry. One of the first things I'll do is go on the HoloNet and look up how to wash a child's penis," he said to her, not realizing all of the trouble he would get into. For now he was focused on making her as comfortable as possible while the doctor and droids went to work. One of his hands gripped her hand, while the other repeatedly stroked her hair.

"The patient is two centimeters dilated, and her contractions are approximately 20 minutes apart," the medical droid reported to the Doctor. Pilaq relied heavily on his walking stick to keep himself upright, as he looked down at Duchess Zara. "Are you in great pain, Milady?" he asked her, wondering if it was time to medicate her. "You are in for an eventful day, but unfortunately not a quick one," he informed her, with a nod of his head. His attention then shifted to Marcus and unexpectedly he whacked him on the head with his walking stick. "There. Some pain for you too. So when your patience thins you'll understand what she is feeling," he declared, before turning his attention to Zara.

She blinked away her tears. Marcus' voice was reaching her through the crazy. This was the day that they had been waiting for: the day that Sia and Darrus joined the world. Zara realized that she wasn't going about this alone. Marcus even promised to look up washing a child's penis, which made her giggle. Okay, she *could* do this. She had no other choice, after all! She laid back on the bed and tried her best to relax. The early stages of labor was the easy part, after all. Her hand continued to cling to his. She found comfort in the way he caressed her hair. "Thank you, Marcus." She teared up this time for a completely different reason.

The droid reported that things were only beginning. Zara shook her head to Doctor Tohan's question. "No. No pain at all." Her face shrunk. She stood at the beginning of the most crazy, most wonderful day of her life. Thankfully, she stood with Marcus by her side. Pilaq made her laugh a second time. She was glad she had switched doctors ... and that he had survived the trip up the spiral staircase.

Nine and a half hours had gone by since the morning began. It was now dark in Delaya, yet people still remained crowded outside the castle as they awaited for news of the new royal babies. Doctor Bailo had joined everyone else halfway through. She would be there to play nurse to Doctor Tohan during the birth of the babies, as well as taking care of them immediately after birth. She did her best to help make the Duchess more comfortable. This was what she did daily in the herdship, after all.

For Zara, the hard part started after the fifth hour. Her relatively high pain tolerance started to melt away as she walked around the room to tempt the twins to come quicker. Marcus had become her support more than ever. As the contractions became more closely together, she knew the time was coming. Eventually, the pain became so intense that she vomited. At that point, everyone decided it was best to give her an epidural. As Zara scooted to the edge of the bed, instructed to sit hunched over uncomfortably with her back to Pilaq so he could administer the spinal tap, she clung to her husband roughly. The time was dawning on them. The twins would soon arrive. "I love you," she whimpered to her husband. She was tense, unable to prepare herself for how painful the epidural would be. "Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be the mother of your children." She looked up. She smiled, though she looked like absolute hell.

"I love you too, my Zara," Marcus replied, looking exhausted and worried. He never expected it to take this long. He imagined her simply squatting down and out two children would arrive. As the hours moved on he grew increasingly concerned, and desperate for any information. "You're the only woman in the galaxy who I would want to share this journey with," he told her, before lowering his face to place a reassuring kiss upon her sweaty forehead. His eyes then moved down the length of the bed where Doctor Tohan was preparing the biggest needle he had ever seen. He wanted to faint.

"Your pain will soon be over and your children will soon be here," Doctor Tohan said, as the medical droid very carefully prepared the syringe, thrice measuring the dosage. Needle in hand he approached the young woman, still a teenager, and placed the needle near her tailbone. A moment later he pressed down, penetrating her with the needle and injecting her with the painkiller that would soon make this a relatively painless experience. The droids moved closer to Zara, ready to retrieve the babies. Outside the castle the crowd had swelled and as the sun set over the mountains they began to light candles. There was even singing that could be heard rising up through the window balcony.

Awww! Zara's heart melted in her chest. She felt encouraged for the last leg of the otherwise insane day. Zara refused to look at the needle. In fact, she closed her eyes tightly during the procedure. The needle went into her spine. It was so painful. It was like being stabbed while someone set her spine on fire. She sniffed hard like she was going to begin crying from the pain. The intense pain of her contractions and the epidural rapidly began to fade. The drug was doing its job of numbing her from the waist down. Zara couldn't feel her legs anymore as she settled back into the bed. The drugs did nothing to cloud her judgment. She was still sharp mentally, and still afraid. Everything was ready; her body, the droids, Doctor Tohan, Doctor Bailo, and Marcus. In the sudden silence that filled the room, Zara could hear gentle singing coming from outside. Everyone was waiting for this moment. One of her hands was lodged in Marcus'. All at once, she was sure *she* was ready.

Doctor Bailo gently wiped the Duchess' forehead with a damp cloth. The Ithorian doctor smiled kindly. "It's time." She told Zara. "Begin pushing when you're ready. If you're still feeling scared, just close your eyes and focus on your children. They're ready to meet you too." She stepped back towards the end of the bed.

Doctor Bailo helped focus her. She had spent so much time wondering what her and Marcus' children would look like. She was going to find out now. She began to push, mindful to pace herself instead of using all of her energy and tuckering out right at the beginning. Her hand squeezed her husband's more tightly.

The force at which she squeezed his hand was enough to cause a small 'yelp' of pain to escape his lips, but Marcus did not want his wife to know she had hurt him. "Push, Zara! Push!" he encouraged her, while his free hand moved to continue to caress her hair. "I love you. I'm here for you, but if you push hard enough our children will also be here for you," he reassured her, as his eyes moved down from her to look at the doctors near the bottom of her bed. He was beginning to become impatient. He too wanted the children *now*. Nine months had been too long a wait. When he met her he was not ready to be a father, but now he was sure that he was. He had grown so much in the past year, and he owed it all to her.

"Push, Lady Zara! Push!" Doctor Tohan told her, as he watched and waited for the arrival of the latest members of the House of Rodney. He was not feeling very well, but he would wait until later to see for himself. Right now all of his remaining energy was focused on Zara and the expectant children. His large eyes blinked slowly, as he again encouraged her. "Push!" he said, in his curmudgeonly old voice, slamming the base of his walking stick into the ground several times to emphasize his point. It was not a suggestion, it was an order.

She wanted the children to be there too. Zara had always wanted to be a mother...a *good* mother. She didn't realize that she'd also find the perfect father. Marcus had made her a much better person and improved her life more than she could explain. They had endured so much over the last nine months. He'd continuously kept her safe and the twins. She closed her eyes tightly. "I love you!" She gasped. Everyone was encouraging her and she was doing everything she could.

Suddenly, the tension in the room was marked by an infant's cries. Zara let out a gasp for air as the first child arrived: Sia. Her cries reached the crowd below from the open balcony. The young Duchess looked exhausted. She tried to look beyond her tummy to see her daughter but she didn't catch her first glimpse of the child until the droid lifted her. Her eyes filled with tears so quickly that she couldn't control it. She watched Doctor Bailo take the child from the droid. She made a few quick notations, gently wiped the baby off, then rested the small, squalling little girl on Zara's bare chest. The baby didn't cry for much longer, of the familiarity of her mother's heart beating calmed her. Zara's blue eyes were wide. Sia was *beautiful*. She had light, silver fuzz covering her head, signifying that she had taken after her mother. Her eyes were closed tightly, but when they opened, they'd be a marvelous baby blue. Zara's hands gently ran over their daughter. She looked up at Marcus it complete awe. She wasn't done yet. There was still a Darrus to welcome.

Marcus gasped suddenly upon the arrival of his daughter, nearly forgetting how to breath in the process. "Zara!" he said, and then drew speechless. Tears were forming in the corner of his eyes and then he began to cry, almost uncontrollably, as he watched his daughter placed upon his wife's chest. But there was still one more to go ... his son. "Zara, you have to push again. I know you're exhausted, but just once more," he said, pleading with her, as his hand ran across her head again, trying to encourage her. He had his daughter, his beautiful baby girl, but now he was greedy and wanted his son as well.

Doctor Tohan was quick to check on the daughter, relieved to see that so far she was doing very well. "You have a healthy baby girl, Lady Zara, but now you must do it again," he told her, before looking down to wait for the second child to arrive. "I can see the head. Just keep pushing," he said, before slamming the base of his staff upon the ground several times more. He nodded to the droid, readily expecting the child to emerge shortly. It was almost over. He would need his rest after this exhausting, marathon delivery. He looked to Doctor Bailo, glad to have her assistance in case he found himself too fatigued.

Doctor Bailo was smiling with both of her mouths. This was her favorite part; the moment mother and father met their children for the first time. She stood close to Pilaq, offering him encouragement through her smile. She could only imagine how tired he was. It had turned into a lengthy day for everyone. She intended to help him tackle the spiral staircase so he didn't injure himself after a hard day at work. "You're so close, milady! Just give us a couple of good pushes."

"Marcus... Look at her.." The tiny human on her chest was the result of their love. Zara realized that she needed to do it one more time, because there was a second tiny human who wanted to be with his family. She had motivation on her chest and by her side. She could do it again...she *could*. She nodded her head, using one hand to gently cradle Sia against her chest while the other linked with husband's once more. Pilaq provided her with extra motivation: it really was nearly over. Zara ground back into action. She huffed and puffed while the pushed. She pushed once, twice, three times before there was crying again. Gasping for air, Zara's eyes met with Darrus Rodney for the first time. The first thing she noticed was how much hair he had. Deep, dark brown hair that looked nearly identical to Marcus'. It covered his head much more thickly than Sia's did. "M-Marcus..." For a second time, a squawking infant was placed upon her chest. Darrus nuzzled against his mother. Both children were completely covered in Zara's undying love. Her cheeks were painted with her streaming tears. It was a moment of such complete joy. Her and Marcus' children were here at last. Zara was absolutely beaming. She looked at Marcus, giving him the opportunity to hold his babies as well.

And there he was ... his son and heir. For decades his family had worried about just such an event. "Oh my..." he said, and suddenly he felt the need to sit down. Taking a seat next to her bed he watched in awe as Darrus was placed upon her chest, as it dawned on him he was a father twice over. He could already see similarities in each of the children to himself and Zara, which made his heart flutter. He wished his parents had been alive to see this, but he dared not voice that to Zara ... not now at least. The feelings he had caused him to feel warmth flow throughout his body, overcome with joy. "I love you," he said, not just to Zara, but also to his children for the first time. His teary eyed widened as he looked lovingly at his entire family for the first time. "You did it, Zara. You did it," he said, as he once again resumed stroking her head. He had everything he wanted, and each time the children moved he lurched forward. If he was overprotective of Zara, he would be *over*-overprotective of Darrus and Sia.

It was an utterly overwhelmingly happy moment. Though the twins had dwelled in her womb for nine months, it flipped her world upside down (in the best way possible) now that they were here. She was amazed at how much they *really* looked like her and Marcus. As she suspected, they had created perfect babies together; the perfect family. Her heart felt like it was bursting with love and adoration. "I love you," she said to them all. She loved her family so much. Her smile grew. As tired as she was, she wouldn't be capable of resting until the excitement began to wear off. "We *both* did it." Zara couldn't stop looking at their sweet twins. The skin-to-skin contact bonded them all immediately. She cradled them gently. She was the happiest mother in existence.

Marcus reached for Sia delicately, as if she were made of glass and the slightest touch would cause her to break. Once he had Sia secure, he reached for Darrus, and with both of them in his arms he held onto them dearly. He inhaled deeply through his nose, feeling a mix of emotions ... love, relief, pride ... that were weighing him down. His exoskeleton hurt, as he had overused it today going up and down the stairs. His body needed rest, but his mind was wide awake. He knew he would not be able to sleep until he passed out. The two lives he held in his arms meant the world to him, and it showed on every line of his face. "Look at them, Zara," he said, in complete awe ... as if she had not taken her eyes off them from the moment they emerged.

Zara watched him pick Sia up. She really couldn't stop looking at them. It was amazing, a miracle, and completely out of this world. Without the twins on her chest, she laid back and rested. Like Marcus, her body was tired but her mind was wide awake. She watched the twins cuddle with their father. Finally, they got to meet the voice they'd been hearing. Sia opened her eyes slowly. Her eyebrows were furrowed as she took in the world around her. The little girl cooed, determined to win her father's heart over right from the first moment. Darrus, too, had opened his eyes. They both had the same baby blues, though it was uncertain how long they would remain blue. Zara giggled happily. "I know, they're so beautiful." She was in just as much awe as he was. "Look at all of Darrus' hair! Oh my gosh!" The little man closed his eyes again. It seemed like Marcus and Zara weren't the only one feeling tired. Sia and Darrus had a crazy day too!

While both children were of equal importance to their parents, it was Darrus Rodney who would one day assume the title of Duke of Delaya, and thus held an importance not just to his family, but to the entire population of Delaya ... and beyond. Doctor Tohan carefully took Darrus from Marcus, and then with his walking stick in one hand, and Darrus in the other the little boy was blessed with a streak of starfruit juice upon his head. The doors to the balcony were then dramatically flung open and the Ithorian slowly walked out upon it. In triumph to the crowd below he held out a naked and confused Darrus to see *his* planet and *his* subjects. The crowd erupted in applause before a silence came over them, and they slowly bowed to him. The little prince had arrived.

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