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Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:5:21) in the Essesia system: Esseles (New Calamar: Claudius Rodney's estate) and Retributor.
Doctor Alessandra Bailo, Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca, Callista Nilar, Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, and Major Sierra Rodney.

Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca was standing at the overbridge display, which was currently displaying a map of the Ringali Shell. "There has been little Rebel activity as of late. They seem to have retreated into their base safely within the nebula," she reported, before stepping aside to give a full view of the map. "The Imperial Security Bureau has been continuing their Imperialization effort with arrests of individuals who are believed linked to the Rebel cell, or have publicly or privately voiced contempt of His Majesty or the Empire as a whole," she said, as she brought her datapad up to scroll through the daily agenda. She found these briefings to be an essential part of her job as tactical officer, even if the officers present found them to be tedious and even monotonous.

For once Claudius Rodney was glad to be at one of Meham'ohorovi'cloca's briefing, as the events happening down below at his estate horrified him. He wondered if he would ever be able to use the refresher again, or if he would have to have it completely remodeled. Hopefully the doctor had seen the children by now and had gotten to the bottom of it. Ewwiekewwieikkie always had a voracious appetite, and he worried that was spreading to Callista. "Very good," Lieutenant he said, in uncharacteristic praise, as he moved through his own datapad reviewing the day to day affairs of his Oversector.

Sierra Rodney and Doctor Bailo had toured the medical bay of the Retributor. It seemed that the good doctor wanted to see where Pilaq worked. Sierra was happy to oblige, as she had to travel to the medical bay to retrieve the medication for the girls. She was so happy that the great poop escape would soon be over in her home. She was confident that she'd sleep like a rock tonight, if she didn't pass out before then.

The young woman had decided that it would be fun to surprise her husband. He hadn't been present for the last look at their son, and Sierra was already in desperate need of her first second trimester prenatal exam. She decided to include Claudius... Which involved bribing Meham'ohorovi'cloca with a single tapestry. Sierra knew very well how much her husband *loved* listening to the Chiss Lieutenant's reports. He wouldn't see it coming at all. Doctor Bailo was able to hook her ultrasound equipment to the overbridge's display. As Meham'ohorovi'cloca continued her presentation, Sierra awaited for her to switch the input so Claudius would see a 4D ultrasound of his *son*. Only when she had completely blown away her husband would she reveal herself.

"Continuing on we have this report from Corulag," Meham'ohorovi'cloca continued, before bringing up information from the Inquisitorius. "Unfortunately, they have deemed most of their operation classified, per usual. They've requested our forces stay clear of the area until their operation is resolved," she reported, before segueing into the big reveal. "And, finally, we have an update concerning the fetus of a human male, aged eighteen weeks," she declared, before patching in the feed from sickbay. Moments later the image was on the overbridge display, before Meham'ohorovi'cloca placed her datapad down. "Congratulations, milord," she said, before stepping out of the room to give him much needed privacy.

If Claudius were not dealing with problems with Colonel Zevrin then there was the matter of Inquisitor Thanor to deal with. But before he could press for further details the monitor changed and revealed the latest update of his son. He leapt from his chair, circled around the table, and came to a stop right in front of it. He did not acknowledge the Lieutenant as he had been completely transfixed by the image. He raised his right hand and placed it against the display, while the years began to well up in the corner of his eyes and then slowly flow down his face.

In the sickbay, Sierra was seeing an identical image of their son. He was actively kicking at the doppler while the ultrasound was going on. Sierra had been patched through into the conference room, so she spoke. "Hi, honey." Pure happiness rang out in her voice. It didn't matter how many times she saw Bruce. Each time was touching and incredible. She could hardly believe how much he had grown. The features of his face were very evident. They could both hear the fluid, fast heartbeat of the fetus. "I hope you had a nice meeting." She looked at Doctor Bailo with a bright smile on her face and tears in her eyes. She already loved the lady Ithorian doctor for agreeing to help her spring the surprise on Claudius. On the screen, Bruce was stretching out his arms. Sierra could clearly count each of his ten fingers. She sniffed.

Claudius ran out of the conference room, knocking over a junior officer, as he made his way towards the turbolift. Anyone who saw him would have surely thought something horrific had happened. As he entered the turbolift he waited impatiently for it to descend into the lower levels of the massive vessel. When he arrived on the appropriate level he still had to navigate the length of the ship through ubiquitous corridors to reach her. He worried that with how long it had taken his son would have been born by the time he got there. He moved into sickbay, but instead of seeing Doctor Tohan, or Doctor Mozh, he saw a female Ithorian he was unfamiliar with. That could be explained later, he thought, as he rushed to his wife's side. He clutched at her shoulder as he watched the monitor with her, the tears still on his face. "I love you, Sierra. I love you both," he told her, as he was overcome with emotions on how much his son had developed since he last saw the imaging.

Sierra knew he was coming. She terminated her contact with the conference room and laid back along the bed. Her tunic was pulled up over her stomach. Doctor Bailo was entering information onto a datapad with one hand while holding her tool against Sierra's belly with the other. She was making notations as to various sizes to ensure that the baby boy was right on track. Sierra was content to watch the monitor and wait for Claudius to arrive at the sickbay. Her face lit up as she spotted him. "Claudius!" She nuzzled her face against his arm affectionately. She was so happy to see him. The increase in her heart beat made Bruce all the more lively in her womb. His mother was excited, so he was too. She rested a hand on his and squeezed it. "I love you, my Claudius. I love you both." It would be difficult to wait out the last twenty-two weeks of her pregnancy.

They both had become very emotional over the sight of their boy. Doctor Bailo was grinning wide. Claudius Rodney was a good man, she decided in that instant. She had worked with enough expecting couples to know what it looked like when two people were truly in love. These two had found that in each other. "Lord Rodney," she said respectfully as she nodded her head, "Your son is very healthy." She commented, pointing at the monitor. "His genitals are developed well enough now that there is no doubt." She pointed to Bruce's crotch to show them. To the naked eye, it looked like nothing was there, but Doctor Bailo continued to explain. "You see these faint lines? There are two of them here. As small as that seems, that's the indication that the baby is a boy." She sat back. "Everything is developing on point. The due date that Doctor Tohan has given you appears to be accurate. Have you begun thinking about birth classes yet?" She asked the couple.

Claudius was staring at the screen with a dumb grin plastered upon his face. He was silent and intently focused when he heard the foreign voice call out to him. His head tilted slightly so he could look at the female Ithorian, wondering where Pilaq was. "Where is Doctor Tohan?" he asked, perhaps rudely, but his jealousy that *his* doctor was catering to his brother and sister-in-law was quite evident. "I'm sorry, thank you, thank you," he said, as it dawned on him how rude he had just been. He turned his attention to Sierra, hoping she could help get him out of the mess he had just stepped in. She had been his little problem solver as of late, which was fortunate because he was a man of many problems.

The wheels in Sierra's mind slowly began to turn again. She was so happy to see their baby. It was amazing to feel him move and watch the corresponding movements on the monitor. All those times that she wondered what he was up to inside of her she knew. Her eyes moved to Doctor Bailo. She understood Claudius because she, too, missed Doctor Tohan. She had an infinite amount of trust for him since she had known him for so long. "Doctor Tohan is special to us. He confirmed my pregnancy and he's been there for all of my appointments. I'm sure you can understand that we both feel very comfortable with him." She looked up at Claudius, smiling. She couldn't stop her eyes from darting back to the screen. *Bruce*! The long awaited boy was right there in front of them.

Doctor Bailo seemed to grow nervous. She had just begun attempting to earn the trust of the Rodney family. She nodded her head as he apologized and Sierra further explained things. "I understand. I've worked in labor and delivery on my herdship for decades. Many couples feel the same way. They grow attached to one doctor. Doctor Tohan has been preoccupied with Duchess Zara. The twins are going to arrive at any point now. He asked me to come to Esseles and attend to the family as much as possible." She explained. "Your next appointment won't be for another month. I'm certain that Doctor Tohan will be here for that exam. Until then, if you're a back sleeper (which Sierra was), you'll need to start sleeping on your side. As the baby and your uterus grow, they begin pressing on the main vein that carries blood back to the heart from the lower region of your body. When you lay on your back, it can become compressed and limit circulation. If you are feeling discomfort on your side, invest in a body pillow. Otherwise, you should see an improvement in morning sickness and begin to feel much better."

While Sierra made peace with the Doctor, Claudius was focused on the image of their son. But then the doctor referred to Zara as 'Duchess' and the new order of things began to set in. She was the Duchess, but he would never get used to hearing that. "Are you listening to all this, Sierra?" a nervous Claudius asked her, as with all their misfortunate lately he would not want to risk something going wrong simply because she slept on her back. "I am sorry, Doctor. I am sure you are an excellent physician. We are most fortunate that you came," he said to her, as he turned on his best diplomatic functions to further smooth things over. "Tell me. How are the girls? Are they well? Has a cause been found?" he asked, pressing them both, as he probed at whether or not it would be safe for him to return home for dinner.

Sierra was going to miss sleeping on her back. She had been trying to keep her stress levels manageable and taking precautions to make sure Bruce stayed a healthy boy. Even with the upcoming tour of Hell, Sierra managed to keep her cool without letting her stress infect the baby. Seeing him restored her. She was fighting for that little guy to be born on time and healthy as a horse. She looked back at Claudius when he mentioned the girls. "Oh...the girl's medicine..." She had gone stupid when she saw the ultrasound.

The Ithorian woman patted Sierra on the shoulder. "I'll deliver the medicine and assist with your daughters." She offered the woman her tool. "When you're finished, press the orange button." She sensed that they would want to talk to one another in private. She slowly rose, making her way out of the sickbay. She felt all sorts of awkward while making the assumption that she'd be able to find that Bethany woman who had brought them to the Retributor.

Her shaky hand clenched the small device. Sierra's face grew serious. "Doctor Bailo said the girls had an excess of laxatives in their systems. It must have happened in Delaya. Did Callista or Ewwiekewwieikkie mention where they got all those treats from?" She asked him thoughtfully. "Here, you do it." She offered him the device that gave them a peek into her womb.

"No matter where we go we're always confronted with orange," Claudius said, referencing El-Nay, as the doctor left them alone to look at the image. "I don't think I made a good impression," he said, referring to his missteps in speaking with the doctor. "Laxatives? We don't have any laxatives in the estate..." he said, angrily, as he wondered what was going on here. "No. But then again I sometimes I have a hard time understanding their exact meaning," he revealed, with a shrug of his shoulders. "They said Delaya, so I assumed they were from the coronation," he shared, before she turned over the device to him. "We should ask Drusilla," he suggested, before me moved it across her belly to get a different angle. "Let's hope he is spared the Dakkar derriere," he said, with a smirk, as he tried to see more of his son.

Sierra laughed. She thought of El-Nay. "Orange does signify a lust for life. Doctor Bailo will get over it. She's just entered our world. She seemed a little shell shocked at home, but she did well with the girls." Sierra nodded her head. She, too, had assumed the treats came from the coronation. If so, someone had played a cruel trick on the new Duke and *Duchess* of Delaya. "As soon as I get home, I'll find out from her. You'd think with all the people that went to the coronation that it would be all over the HoloNet if something was laced with laxatives." She would have to look into that too. For now, Sierra shifted onto her side so she was facing Claudius. "Try from this angle. He's moving around so much right now!" She reported excitedly, bursting into laughter as he referenced her booty. "This is the only scenario where I'll ever hear you complain about my 'derriere'." She was still laughing over it. "Look at him. We're nearly halfway there, Claudius. Time will pass and we will have our son." She anticipated that day.

"That's good news. Doctor Tohan won't go on forever, and she seemed younger, but one can never tell with an Ithorian. They all start out so wrinkly," Claudius said, as he lamented the loss of his old friend and confidante. "I'm trying not to think the children were specifically targeted," he said, as she shifted uncomfortably, although it was looking more and more likely that this was the case. "Look at him move. He's going to be a real handful for you," he teased, as he knew she already her hands full with their two children, plus Mug and Iyah's extra. "It feels like we just met, and now this ... time is really flying," he said, before leaning his face in and stealing a kiss. It was moments like this that made all of the hardships of life bearable.

She smiled, reaching her hand out to brush it over his cheek. "We'll get our Doctor back. I miss his sass." It would be very low for someone to target the children. There was one person she could think of that wasn't beyond it...well, *two* people. Her eyes flashed up to his, snickering. "I know, and you're already planning the next one." Sierra teased her love. "Those extra mommy arms can start springing out any time now." Time really had gone by rapidly. Meeting him, falling for him, marrying him, and all the hardships they had endured. She kissed him sweetly. Her fingers ran through his curly hair. She was content to remain like this until her comm began to beep annoyingly. She released the kiss to answer it when she realized it was 'home' calling.

"Auntie! Auntie! Auntie!" Callista squeaked. In the background, Drusilla could be heard screaming and Ewwiekewwieikkie seemed to be mocking her with screams of her own. "We saw you on the 'net!" She said happily, dropping the comm so she, too, could join in the screaming.

Sierra cringed, keeping the comm away from her ear. "Are you okay, Callista?" She asked nervously. She couldn't tell if it was *bad* screaming or *good* screaming. "Callista...what...?!" It was too late. The only noise coming from her comm was screaming. Sierra silenced the call as she turned as white as a ghost. She looked at Claudius, thinking of their *very* public sex. She feared that the second Rodney sex scandal was about to surface. "Oh goodness." She reached down near her feet where her purse was. From it, she drew a datapad and quickly access the HoloNet. "I have so many messages." She commented as another popped up from someone named Rikka Dakkar. On the HoloNet, she saw that *she* was trending on the number one spot. By this time, she was nearly hyperventilating. As a page loaded, she witnessed article after article after article exploiting details of her life. In it all, Sierra saw one thing: her performance with Max Rebo had gone absolutely viral. As her fingers began to tremble, another message poured in from Rikka Dakkar. She said nothing, only rose her hand to collect the tears that were beginning to form in her eyes. She didn't want this.

Claudius was enjoying the intimacy of looking upon the image of their children when the comlink suddenly erupted with the voice of a very erratic Callista. "Is everything okay?" he asked Sierra, as she talked to Callista. When the news came across that Sierra was on the HoloNet he, too, feared the worst, and was quick to look over her shoulder at the datapad as she searched. She saw the messages from Sierra's mother and he knew how she'd react, so he tightened his grasp around her, drawing her incredibly near to her. He moved swiftly, taking the datapad from her, powering it off, and placing it face down. "That's enough of that. I have decided that this is going to be a happy day, and last I checked I still outrank you ... at least aboard this vessel," he told her, with a smirk, before placing another kiss upon her.

It felt like someone had exposed her to the flesh. There were deep seeded reasons why she disliked playing live so much despite her musical talents. The information on the datapad was too much for her, in addition to Rikka figuring out a new platform in which to contact her. She wasn't going to read anything from her. She needed Claudius to do what he had done. She needed to disconnect from what was on the HoloNet. She closed her eyes, nodding her head slowly. A smile crossed back over her face. The mess that was digitally unfolding couldn't take away what she already had. She decided to ignore the world for her husband. "Only aboard this vessel, Governor. When we get home, you get to be my yeoman for what I endured last night. My dogs have been barking alllll day. I think you owe me a rub!" She teased him. As he leaned in for a kiss, Sierra gladly accepted it. Her heart rate began to slow back to normal. "What in the world would I do without you, Claudius?" She asked him, taking his hand and directing it down to her stomach so he, too, could feel the activity of his son.

"It's good practice for all the diapers you'll have to change," Claudius said, teasing her, before moving towards the bottom of the hospital bed. He reached for her right boot and pulled it off, with some difficulty, nearly shaking her leg in the process. His attention then moved towards the left boot, pulling it with the same force as the other. His hands went to work rubbing each of her feet as best that she could, eager to repay her for what she went through last night so that he could get some sleep before work. "What would you do without me? Well, for one thing, you'd have a lot less toilets to clean," he again joked, doing everything in his power to lighten the mood and take his mind off of what had just happened. Then she guided his hand to her stomach where he was able to feel slight motion caused by the baby that they had combined to create. But as they shared this moment of happiness he could not help but dwell on the fact that another action may have been taken against the children.

"You're looking for trouble today, Claudius!" Sierra played. She didn't expect for him to rub her feet right then and there, but you wouldn't hear her objecting. Sierra was taken to a very happy place while he rubbed her small feet. The anxiety that had formed inside of her began to loosen up just like the knots in the soles of her feet. "Mmmm. Goodness, that feels good. Thank you." She felt repaid and then some. Though, in all seriousness, he never needed to repay her. His joke made her laugh again. "And I'd probably find myself stepping on less precious gems." Which was probably the reason why had feet ached so bad to begin with. She left her hand on his, looking up at him. A seriousness fell over her. She knew what he was thinking about. Her little peek on the HoloNet told her one thing: the Duke and Duchess weren't suffering the same fate as her girls. With Zara's love for sweets, there was no way that she had eaten much differently from Ewwiekewwieikkie. "We're going to get to the bottom of it, my love. Until then, we will keep our children comfortably close. The doctor even said that Callista and Ewwiekewwieikkie would begin to feel much better once they had taken their first dose of medicine. At least they won't be in pain anymore."

"Yes. It's such a first world problem that you keep having to step on my family jewels," Claudius again, teased her, before sliding over to climb into the bed with her. He lay his head on her shoulder and closed his eyes, hoping that none of his officers would report in and disturb their time together. "That's good. It must have been horrible for them," he said, wanting to figure out who did this to the girls and strike back. As he clung to her all of the other problems of the galaxy seemed to wash away, and it was just the three of them together in peace. He would remember this moment to take comfort the next time an adversity struck him ... which based on his track record would be in about two hours.

Sierra laughed so hard that she snorted, which then embarrassed her to the point where her cheeks were red. She was more than happy to accept him into the bed. It was much easier to make herself comfortable when he was close. As she began to unravel, a warm happiness filled her internally. She loved him so much. She was happy that she'd gotten pregnant so soon, because she loved being a stepmother. Life with Bruce was promised to be amazing. Adjusting one last time, Sierra placed a kiss to her husband's forehead. Having not slept much more than a wink the previous night, she began to feel tired. "Five minute power nap..." She declared sleepily. Her arms wrapped around him and slowly, Sierra fell asleep. Those who had tampered with the girls' food were going to pay. You simply didn't mess with this family.

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