Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:6:2) in the Essesia system: Esseles (New Calamar: One Stop Baby Shop).
Melickielickie, Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, and Major Sierra Rodney.

The thing one has to understand about pregnant women is that there comes a time when the whole 'nesting' concept hits them like a brick. For Sierra Rodney, that day had arrived. Suddenly, it bothered her that there was *nothing* ready for her son. In fact, she obsessed about it all day long while reviewing boring datapad after boring datapad. By the time she boarded the Kwai to head home, she knew that this situation needed to be rectified ... which is exactly why she and her husband were spending the night out in New Calamar instead of relaxing at home. Sierra, ever the planner, had a datapad with a list of baby necessities. She was silly to think that she could walk into a nursery department store and actually keep to the list. Regardless, she wasn't going home until she felt like they were closer to being ready. She pitied El-Nay, left at home to baby sit the girls. There had been a disaster in the kitchen involving Sierra's pudding and Ewwiekewwieikkie.

In order to avoid interference, they both had dressed in civilian clothing and broke away from the Stormtroopers. Sierra wanted blissful peace while they bonded over Bruce. As she moved towards the baby store, she spotted a billboard that was lit up... Pudding Pops. Auntie Mae had officially discovered Sierra's craving. "Oh man... That woman's tactics are better than an ISB agent." She frowned as the Auntie Mae jingle suddenly got stuck in her head.

Leaving the Stormtroopers behind, Claudius was nervous for the wellbeing of his wife. He almost considered bringing the Mandalorian along, if only because she had a proven track record of being a human shield and suitable distraction. Orange Mandalorian armor was practically a blaster magnet. Baby shopping was not something he had ever done before. When Jelena was born the Clone Wars were raging and he was needed at the front, and Drusilla's birth coincided with his wife's death and drove him away from home. He had servants at the castle who took care of this sort of thing, but unless he was going to task junior officers with this then it would be entirely up to him and his wife. Sierra seemed to be the attentive parent, rather than the absentee one he had been, so he expected many sojourns like this as they neared the big day. Auntie Mae was everywhere ... like a plague of old spreading across the galaxy unchecked. "The woman is a menace," he grumbled under his breath, as he walked with her towards the baby store.

There was no way she'd task any junior officers with this. If Ensign Sheppard couldn't successfully deliver dinner, then she surely wasn't up to the task of picking out a crib or putting it together. With her hand in his, she attempted to calm him. It was never a good idea not to bring the Stormtroopers. As annoying as they could be, they provided protection and her and Claudius seemed to need it. However, her thoughts had settled elsewhere for the time being. She rolled her eyes. "I know. Her ice cream parlors are everywhere now." She had even seen one at a port in New Calamar. The woman was talented. Her ice cream even sold like hotcakes on the planet Hoth. "Here it is." She said, veering right into a store that smelled like, well, baby powder. Sierra stood just inside the doors, staring at a store that was nearly as big as the estate. She felt overwhelmed as she fumbled to grab her list from her purse. "Um. Wow! This place is gigantic. I'm suddenly not so sure I compiled a good list.. Where do we even st-" She never finished the word because her eyes were snatched up by the land of baby clothing in front of her, particularly a very cute sleeper. She laughed softly. "This is really happening, isn't it?" And she was nothing but happy for the arrival of their son.

As Claudius entered the store he was aghast by how large it was. There were shelves stacked towards the roof and rows that went back as far as the eye could see. "Remember, I no longer have access to the Delayan treasury," he said to her, quietly, as he began to wonder how much they could actually afford. They were going to need a baby shower to get *everything* they wanted. He could have used his position as Grand Moff to solicit bribes and seize assets to gain personal wealth, but that went against his personal code of honor. Colonel Zevrin, however, had a made fortune in bribes and seized assets. "Yes. It's happening. In a few months a new life is going to emerge from you and drain our accounts for the next two decades," he teased, as he followed behind her, letting her lead the way.

How could anyone possibly need all the supplies sold in this store? Sierra's list consisted of *immediate* needs, like a bassinet, some clothing, bottles, and blankets. That way, even if Bruce arrived really early (which she didn't wish for), they'd be ready. She intended to begin working on the mural for his bedroom soon. Everything else would follow. She nodded her head, smiling. "I remember. It's okay. I looked at our budget." She never wanted him to destroy his code of honor, especially not for money. It would all work out...and if it didn't, apparently Sierra could have a lucrative career in music. Since the video of her performing with Max Rebo gained attention, she had received offers for other concerts. Right now, she simply wanted to survive the Zevrin tour. Sierra laughed softly. "We mustn't spoil him rotten. I don't think we can afford Drusilla the Second." She smirked, guiding him through a jungle of blues, greens, and various other colored boy clothing. She decided to stay true to her list and led him around the store until she found the display with bassinets. Each one was so darn cute and brought her closer to that realization. In a few months, she would be a mother to her own son. "What about this one?" She said, pointing to a bassinet next to one clearly intended for Gungan children. It looked more like an aquarium than something to house a small child. Instead, Sierra found a deep blue bassinet with a mobile featuring various planets.

"I hate to break it to you, my love, but we can't afford Drusilla the First anymore!" Claudius said, as credit signs appeared in his eyes as he looked at every object on the shelves. Perhaps the store was owned by a Rebel and they could seize it! "We need to marry her off," he said, shrewdly, as it was one way of fixing their financial situation. "Honey I think that's for an aquatic lifeform, and our son won't have gills unless there's something you want to tell me," he said, with an accusatory glare, as he folded his arms in front of his chest.

"I thought about asking her to sell some of her old dresses to pay for her next shopping excursion. You know, the ones we've only seen her wear for five minutes. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I value my life and it's not worth it." Sierra laughed. At least they were on the same page with Drusilla. As much as they loved her, there was no taming her. "If you can think of a way to make a prince marry her, then that'll help." She nudged him playfully. The idea of marrying Drusilla off was scary. Could they really find someone who was willing..? She laughed again at the way he glared at her. She threw a smile back in his direction. "Ooh yeah. With how active my night life is, anything is possible." She laughed harder, leaning against him so she could steal a kiss. " I *love* you ... and I promise Bruce won't have gills." Suddenly, from beneath the covered bottom of the bassinet, a head poked out. It wasn't simply any ol' head. It was blue, furry, and had bright yellow eyes. A tiny, very young Squib. Sierra noticed it immediately. "Ohno! You were right! Ewwiekewwieikkie *was* pregnant!" It did resemble the one that they had left at home.

"You're going to ask her that? You're braver than I thought. I'll alert the medics," Claudius teased, as they continued their baby shopping. "Perhaps there's a deaf Prince somewhere," he said, as he brought his hand up to his chin to consider the option. The kiss was much needed, and caused him to momentarily stop complaining about his daughter. "I love you too. I'm holding you to that!" he told her, with a smirk. "Don't get any ideas. We already have one," he said, as he attempted to get Sierra away from the Squib infant before she attempted to claim it like the otters at the lake.

"Love, I don't think the medics can bring me back from that." Drusilla would wreck her on the spot. She would have to hold Max Rebo hostage and force him to play for Dru in order to patch up their relationship after that. Sierra couldn't stop laughing. "A deaf Prince? You might be onto something there..." She stepped back a few feet away from the Squib, but as she did, the Squib's eyes filled with tears and it, a young female, came running out from the basket of the bassinet. Her little arms grasped Sierra by the leg. "Mommy! Mommy! I want Mommy!" She cried. Something shiny on Sierra's pants, likely sparkles leftover from Callista's visit, attracted the little Squib. She opened her mouth and began gnawing on Sierra's knee.

"Ouch!... J-Just think, they can play together..! Ow! Okay fine, we can only have one." She bent down, running her hand over the young Squib's head. "Hey, it's okay. We'll help you find your mommy. Where did you see her last?" Sierra looked up at Claudius. It seemed their baby shopping would be briefly derailed.

The young Squib seemed lost and afraid, and as he looked down upon her he was reminded of young Ewwiekewwieikkie on Skor II. He frowned, as he bent down and took hold of the excitable young Squib, and lifted her in the air before placing her in their shopping cart. As he looked down the massive aisles of the oversized big box store he figured her parents could be *anywhere*. "Maybe the store manager could make an announcement?" he suggested, s suddenly purchasing thousands of credits in baby products was the least of their problems.

The Squib wiggled excitedly as she was picked up. She held her arms up in a superman pose as she came to sit inside of the shopping cart. Her little ears twitched. It seemed she had no concept of 'don't talk to strangers'. Try as she might, she couldn't remember where her mother was. "I want Mommy!" She stated, tears beginning to fill her big eyes.

Sierra had totally forgotten why they had come into the store. This little Squib *needed* them. As she began to cry, Sierra reached into her purse and found a small bag of Wookiee cookies. If nothing else, she thought they might help calm the girl until they found her family. "Here. These are my daughter's favorites. I think you'll like them too." She said, but before she could even open the bag the Squib girl had snatched it and began biting down on the package. Sierra preferred to sacrifice Ewwiekewwieikkie's emergency stash of Wookiee cookies so her knee didn't get bitten again. She looked at Claudius. "Let's do it. This store is far too huge for us to ever find her mother without help." Sierra replied quietly.

The little Squib grabbed a sleeper from the cart and held it up. "Bawbby?" She said with a mouth full of packaging. "Bawbbyyy!" She threw her arms out, embracing Claudius.

As the little Squib girl embraced Claudius he could not help but be transported to that dark day following the Battle of Skor II when he found the young Ewwiekewwieikkie amidst the ruins of Metrobig City with her dead parents. A tear began to form in his eye and he looked to Sierra, needing her more than she knew. His war experience was relatively quiet compared to many, but what he did see still stuck with him. "She needs her parents," he said to Sierra, stating the obvious. "I don't know how they could lose her. She isn't exactly quiet," he said, with a smirk, as he embraced the Squib back to be supportive. He could only imagine what she was thinking.

She felt concerned for the little Squib, who had to be even younger than Callista. There was no leaving her behind. They had to get her back to where she belonged. Sierra's worried face met with that of her husband's. She caught on that there was something going on for him beneath the surface, though it wasn't something they could bring up with a small, scared Squib. To show her support, she wrapped an arm around his waist and squeezed. "I don't know either. It seems she's left a trail of fur." Sierra pointed out a patch of blue fur sticking to a display of crib bedding. As they rounded the corner, Sierra heard a loud squeal followed by a tiny version of the same squeal from the Squib. The little Squib peered out from behind Claudius, her eyes brightening. "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" She kicked excitedly until Sierra helped her down from the cart. Her mother, a *very* pregnant Squib who had six other Squib children with her, looked relieved to see her. The Squib woman embraced her daughter, silently thanking Claudius and Sierra for returning her daughter. As Sierra grabbed her husband's hand and led him away, she could hear the little Squib. "Oooooh, shiny..!"

Sierra rounded into an aisle of nothing but blankets from floor to ceiling. There, she embraced her love with both of her arms. "Are you okay? I'll listen if you want to talk."

Claudius was pleasantly relieved to see the Squib returned to her family, which was more than he could say for his poor adopted daughter. "I'm okay," he said in a way that made it transparent that he was not okay. "I was just thinking back about the Battle of Skor II. The little girl reminded me of Ewwiekewwieikkie when she was young," he explained, as he began looking at random baby items to take his mind off of it. "I'll never get those images out of my mind," he said, as he began looking at baby monitors. "I figure you can just requisition an ISB monitoring device, yeah?" he said, with a wink, as he put the baby monitor back down.

Her fingers intertwined with him. She was certain she knew where his mind had wandered off to. The Squib really did look much alike to Ewwiekewwieikkie. She knew the abridged, clean version of that story. She couldn't begin to imagine what it was actually like for Claudius. Ewwiekewwieikkie would never know about the true fate of her parents, for that knowledge threatened to destroy her innocence. She caught him up in her arms in the aisle. "I'm sorry, Claudius. I can't begin to understand what that was like. It shows what kind of person you are that you saved Ewwiekewwieikkie. Two decades later, she's laying jewel eggs around the house and eating every sweet that she sees. You gave her a life she wouldn't have had otherwise." She wished she could stop the images from tormenting him. Instead, she had to settle with providing him an endless amount of support. His joke earned him a smile, and a gentle slug in the arm. "You're just trying to get in trouble today, aren't you? C'mere." Hand back in his, she drug him further through the aisle until they made it to a section with holoprojectors. "I saw one of these on the HoloNet, check it out." She poked the display model of a certain holoprojector. It projected a huge, starry-filled map of their sector. She stared at the colorful planets, then looked up at Claudius. "We should make Zevrin fund our future children expenses." She said seriously. "That woman is always stealing money. What else is she doing with it besides buying whiskey?"

"Oh yes. That's much better. A life full of gastrointestinal problems," Claudius said with a snicker, as it seemed just about every one of Ewwiekewwikkie's orifices was having issues at the moment. "She's getting pretty old. I wonder, will she marry and leave us?" he asked, as he had never really given any thought to her future. "...or will she be with us long after our son has grown up and moved on?" he said, as he was led towards the holoprojectors. When she turned on the projector he was amazed by the view of the galaxy it displayed. It was every bit as technically sound as the one Meham'ohorovi'cloca used to give him his briefings. "Oh. Now that's hitting her where it'll hurt," he said, as he brought his finger up to poke her in the cheek. "...and since all of those credits were ill gotten she cannot exactly complain either. I like the way you think," he said, before picking up one of the projectors and placing it in their cart.

Sierra laughed, hiding her face behind her hands. "Always gotta find the crap lining to a silver cloud, huh? You can't win 'em all, Claudius." She grinned at her husband. The idea of marrying off Ewwiekewwieikkie seemed foreign...but still..? "Squib culture is more of your expertise than it is mine. How... How would we even arrange that?" Maybe, in time, there would be Squib grandchildren! With Jelena gone, it seemed like it wouldn't be long until Drusilla left the nest too. Claudius' first batch of children were nearly fully grown while his second round was just arriving. She simply couldn't imagine the house empty, though, once she made it through two decades of being a mother, she might enjoy that quiet. *Maybe*.

She smirked. "That's why you married me, isn't it? My brains ... and my bum." It was her turn to tease him back. She was happy to see that he liked the projector. She thought that it would go perfectly in Bruce's bedroom. "There's one other thing I want to pick up before we go. Next time, we'll shop on Arden's tab." It took a little searching around until she found what she was looking for; baby carriers. She had done some research online and already picked one out that wrapped around one's torso and was supposed to be extremely comfortable for babies. "How long of a paternity leave are you going to take once Bruce arrives? I was thinking about bringing him with us when we return. He'll always be close and safe."

"If your brains were as big as your bum we'd have already solved Zevrin and won the war," Claudius teased, finally solving the ageless riddle as to whether he was a breast man or a butt man. As they walked through the store he saw so many things that he would have liked to have gotten if he were not on a Governor's salary. Perhaps he was paid so low because the Empire assumed he would be corrupt and supplement his income. He was jealous of Marcus who would be able to purchase whatever he wanted for his children without even giving it a second thought ... perhaps he could adopt Drusilla. "I don't know. I'll have to ask Colonel Zevrin how long she'll give me," he said, half joking, but with an element of truth beneath it. "Bringing him aboard the command ship?!" he exclaimed, not sure if he wanted him around the ISB. "Is this for you or me?" he asked, as he examined it, already hearing the laughter of the crew behind his back if he were to wear it.

She laughed and laughed. "Hey, my large bum has solved plenty of other problems. Just ask the guy down below!" Now she knew just how much he liked her butt. She could remember a day where girls made fun of her in the Academy... Well, that shows them! "Ugh, not her. You better butter her up. I saw her gobbling up Ensign Sheppard's cookies last time I was in her office. Perhaps ask her parents to send a larger quantity before you go talk to her." She held out the baby wrap, smiling at him. "No... *This* one is for you." She said, poking a flaming hot pink one on the shelf. Sierra snickered. "It's for me, silly. What are the options besides bringing him aboard? I'm not going to let a stranger take care of him. Do you *really* want El-Nay to care for our newborn?" Sierra imagined her using her jetpack while holding Bruce. No!! El-Nay was a good friend, but Sierra was made to be an overprotective mother.

"That buffoon. I still can't believe she let Ewwiekewwieikkie crash the Retributor. She was fortunate she was *only* demoted," Claudius said, showing off that he could be quite the Imperial villain under the right circumstances. "El-Nay? Never!" he said, shaking his head at his wife's poor choice in friends. In his mind she imagined her picking up his son and accidentally crushing him from the weight of her armor, or accidentally firing a rocket or activating her flamethrower. "You're right. You're the only one capable of watching our son," he said, as he reluctantly took hold of the pink harness and placed it in their suddenly full cart.

"I think she feels like a buffoon at this point. We did let Drusilla put her to work." Not to mention how exhausted Bethany looked after a night babysitting the Rodney children. Her imagination stopped working out each horrible scenario involving El-Nay and Bruce before she made herself upset. For now, the boy was busily kicking inside of her. He was unaware that they were shopping for him. With the cart suddenly full, she figured it was a good idea to escape the baby store while they still could. She veered the cart towards the cash register. She smiled at her love. "I can't wait." She squeezed his arm. Sierra felt much more prepared now. Nineteen more weeks, she thought to herself.

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