Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:6:25) in the Essesia system: Esseles (New Calamar: Claudius Rodney's estate) and Retributor.
Commander Allegra Ames, Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, and Major Sierra Rodney.

It was very early in the morning. The sun had yet to rise and all was quiet. Sierra Rodney had not slept a wink. Her mind was racing with thoughts of her husband enduring the Battle of Chandrila alone. She had gotten used to never doing anything alone. To her surprise, she had become very codependent on her husband...and vice versa. She recalled everything that they had endured, from Jelena's 'death', becoming Duke and Duchess of Delaya, suffering through both Livia and Julius' deaths, to Bruce's traumatic rollercoaster of a birth. Everything had one consistency: Claudius and Sierra worked through it together. Her fear for the Inquisitor minimized. She would *not* let him face this alone. "We're going to be with Daddy," she told Bruce confidently.

In the wee hours, she loaded up everything necessary for her son into El-Nay's old bucket o' bolts, and together, they set off towards Esseles. She trusted that her girls would remain safe on New Aldera, for Mug didn't have the heart to hurt a Squib. Jelena was there too, which made Sierra feel *slightly* better about what she had done. The Mandalorian Kom'rk class starfighter came to settle outside the estate long before the sun had risen. Sierra looked down at Bruce, who had slept for a majority of the flight. A smile crept up her lips. She loved him...and she loved Claudius. She marched towards the estate with Bruce's belongings in tow. She did not call out for her husband when she arrived as much as she wanted to. Instead, she began her search for him.

"Not on the couch," she told Bruce. She scaled the first flight of stairs with extra precautions since it was the first time she did it holding a baby. She peered into her room. "Not here either..." Bruce made a little whine. "I know. Don't worry, we'll find him." She paused to place a kiss on her son's forehead. At last, she proceeded up the final stairs and into the observatory. There, she found her sweet husband fast asleep. Sierra felt that warm sense of completion wrap around her body. She was home.

Claudius Rodney had lost his entire family on the eve of the biggest battle of his military career. He was too preoccupied with the new Inquisitor to pay any attention to Lieutenant Meham'ohoroiv'cloca's reports on the operation at Chandrila. When he returned home to went straight to his observatory where he programmed the coordinates of New Alderaan within the ash worlds. On that distant planet named for a world he once considered a second home lay his wife, his daughters, his son ... everyone that mattered to him. He wanted to be with them, but for him to give there would mean betraying the Empire ... betraying the Emperor ... and he could never do that. He did not want to spend the rest of his life running. He believed that if he could defeat the Rebellion here ... now ... he could live a life of peace with his family. He lay there looking upon the world, missing his family, until he finally fell asleep to dream of a galaxy where they were all together again.

Sierra watched him sleep. She debating not waking him up before realizing she was just as impatient as he was. They needed to be together, and it needed to happen *now*. She stepped forward towards what Ewwiekewwieikkie referred to as the 'big shiny'. She glanced at it. She didn't need to look to know where he was looking. Her poor husband. He endured so much. The hardships were likely never to end, only now he didn't need to take them alone as he had tried to. Sierra reached her hand out. Her fingers softly ran down his cheek. "Claudius," she whispered. Bundled up at her chest, Bruce watched intently. He had quite an exciting first day. His second day would be better because he wouldn't be separated from his father anymore. "I'm here."

Claudius' slowly opened his eyes when he felt Sierra's hand upon his head, but as he awoke he became startled and raised his head too quickly ... right into the telescope. "Ow!" he cried out, as he brought his hand up to his head to rub at the developing bump. It was only then that it dawned on him that Sierra was back. "Sierra?!" he called out, as if he was still dreaming, unable to accept that she was really back. But as it began to dawn on him what was going on he realized the danger in her being here. "What are you doing here? The Inquisitor!" he shouted in a panic, which only intensified when he saw she had their son with him. "Bruce?!" he called out as well, as he began to panic. He had worked so hard to smuggle her out of the system to be safe, but now she had come right back into harm's way. He was terrified.

She cringed as he hit his head on the telescope. Their son was doomed. *Doomed*! "Are you okay...?" She asked, looking worriedly at him. The realization crossed his face before her. She saw the panic and the fear on her husband's face that only grew with the appearances of their son. She *couldn't* leave him on New Aldera without her. "Shh, shh..." She tried to calm Claudius down. Sierra could feel Bruce begin one of his little kicking fits. He'd do *anything* to get out of the blanket. She sat beside her husband. She wore a serious look on her face. In a seemingly random action, Sierra reached into her pocket and pulled out what looked to be a worn piece of paper. She unfolded it, her blue eyes flickering up to his face. "Did you know I wrote you my own vows on our wedding day?" It seemed like Sierra had fallen off of her rocker during the hardest day of her life. "I was far too embarrassed to read them to you in front of all those people, so I'm going to read them to you now."

"Claudius Rodney," she began, looking him in the eyes. "On this day, I vow to love you eternally. I vow to cherish you for every minute of every day that we're together." A little smile showed at the corner of her lips. "I vow to stand before you during the most violent of storms as well as rejoice in every triumph." She dropped the paper, taking his hand in hers. "Finally, I vow to never let you sleep alone. For the nights you've spent alone have come to an end. I love you." Her smile grew a little more until her dimples were visible. "I'm not going anywhere. I'm not leaving. I'm aware of the dangers but I can't ... I can *not* hide during this. We will be okay. *He* will be okay." She referred to their son. "But we can only make this work if you and I stay together."

Claudius did not say a word, but instead attentively listened to the words that she was about to speak. As she spoke the words she was too scared to speak upon their wedding day his heart began to melt and tears began to flow from his eyes. He felt ashamed that he could ever be upset that she came back to him. He brought his hands up slowly to embrace both mother and child, wishing he could remain like this forever. "I am glad you are here. Even a short time away from you is painful," he told her, as he lifted his head to place a kiss upon her lips. "Are the children safe? Is Doctor Tohan okay?" he asked, as everything happened in such a hurry he was uncertain if the fate of his family and loved ones.

Sierra gave him the tightest one-armed embrace she could. Her head met with his shoulder. She missed him so much. Neither heart, body, or mind liked being away from him. She had tears in her eyes when her head rose. "I know. It hurt far too much to not be by your side. I need you to embrace the fact that I'm going to be attached to your hip for a very long time.." She smiled. The kiss was so sweet. He brought strength back to her while they basked in their reunion. "Doctor Tohan is okay. Doctor Bailo said that after a few days of rest, he'll be a lot better. The children are safe. Ewwiekewwieikkie and Melickielickie are both with Jelena... And Dru... Ah, Dru's with the damn Prince." Sierra made a face. "She ran away after I grounded her. As much as I don't want her to be there, his castle is heavily guarded. It may be the best place for her right now." Sierra sighed. She didn't have the strength to chase Dru to Pollix's planet. She adjusted. "You know... Jelena got to meet Bruce." Sierra said, offering the half-bundled boy to his father. It seemed like Claudius could use the baby's affection as well.

As Claudius looked at the way Sierra had swaddled Bruce he wished that he couple wrap her up to keep her safe as well. He was glad that the children and Doctor Tohan were safe, but when the subject turned to Drusilla the news incensed him. Even in the midst of a power struggle with Inquisitor Thrope and an impending showdown with the Rebel fleet he still was very much a father. "Damn that boy. When this is over..." he said, angrily, but then she delivered some news that almost immediately calmed him down. "She did?" he asked, with a smile on his face, before his son was turned over to him. He was much easier to handle while swaddled as his arms and legs were not offering any resistance. "I missed you so much," he said to the boy, smiling from ear to ear as he looked on him in awe.

"...I'll hold the boy and you'll punch..? Or stab, I won't blame you either way." Sierra smiled. It was so good to return home. The battle that was about to take place would be extremely tolling. She cuddled close to her love now that she was no longer holding their son. "Mhm. He got all pouty on her too. She said that there's no need for a paternity test." Sierra giggled. That pout was killer! "I'm glad she had the chance to meet him." The new mother began to swell with pride as she watched Claudius and Bruce. Bruce had such a determined look on his face. He was trying so hard to get out of being swaddled. "He missed you too. It was his idea to come back home. All I did was drive. Doctor Bailo examined him more in New Aldera. She said he's a medical miracle. His developments are nearly a month ahead of schedule. No one can explain it." She rained down some good news.

Claudius comlink began to beep, but once again he failed to answer it in order to focus on his family. "He's pouting already? Oh no," he said, as he too pouted down at his infant son. He looked up from his son to Sierra, but did not immediately answer her question. "If ... if what the Inquisitor said about him was true we may have our answer," he said to her, nervously, as he tried to come to terms what the implications of having a force-sensitive child meant. He had served with Jedi during the Clone Wars, but from his point of view they had attempted to assassinate the Supreme Chancellor and take over. The power they had was considerable, and he feared an older Bruce having a temper tantrum and causing the house to collapse in on them. "You're too young to remember," he informed her, as he brought his hand down to caress his son. "Perhaps the Emperor wanted him to train as an Inquisitor..." he speculated, putting a brave face on a terrible possibility.

Oh no. Not the comlink again. Sierra registered it. After what had happened the last time they ignored their comlinks, she should have learned better. She couldn't bring herself to care right now. Especially not after Bruce mimicked his father's pout...only he was doing it because he was angry he couldn't free his legs. "See! I'm a sucker for that!" If Dru ever found out how well the Rodney pout worked on her, they'd be bankrupt overnight. The conversation turned back to a topic Sierra wanted to discuss. Bruce's 'abilities'. "When we were summoned to His Majesty's palace...when he took notice of me. It was almost like Bruce drew him in. The Inquisitor showed up so quickly after that... It ... it *has* to be true." She looked down at the boy. It was hard to imagine him growing into a monster like Inquisitor Thrope. It was even harder to imagine him dead. Her head rested against his shoulder while they spoke in the still of the morning. "That... That is a worrisome thought. We cannot hide from him. Eventually, we'll have to find out what his intentions are." Sierra brought her hand down on their son. "Do you think he'll really take Bruce away from us?"

"In the days of the Republic the Jedi would claim all force-sensitive children and take them into the Order for training," Claudius explained, giving her a firsthand account of the Republic history he lived. "I have had encounters with Inquisitors as of late, and given by their age I assume they are either remnants of the old order or children trained by the Empire ... but I never asked questions," he explained to her, as he continued to look over the delicate features of their baby. "I can't predict what the Emperor wants with our son. Maybe it is for this purpose, or maybe it is for something else entirely..." he said, growing increasingly worried, which caused his breaths to grow heavier. "We cannot avoid this forever. Perhaps you are better off on New Alderaan, which thus far has been out of Imperial sight," he said to her, as he started to tear up again. He did not want to be apart from his son, but he could no longer guarantee his safety within the boundaries of the Empire.

She listened to him. The Jedi Order had been disbanded some time ago. No one had attempted to revive it in all these years. She had heard stories of force-sensitive children who were born and put to death immediately by the Emperor. What he said made sense. There was no need to ask questions until when there was no one safe to ask them to. Sierra didn't want to think about the Emperor's intentions. In time, they were going to find out. If she could prolong it, she would. She shivered. It was hard to steel herself and stay strong. "No, no, no." She leaned over to kiss his cheek. "We must... We must leave the girls there." Sierra said softly. Her eyes began to lower. "Bruce and I can't go back. If the Emperor was able to feel our son in my womb, then how long will it be before he can feel him from New Alderaan? For Jelena...we have to keep New Alderaan undiscovered. We will remain here. With you. I don't have answers to any of our questions. I feel scared too, but we can't endure this without each other."

"The Inquisitor has shown she will stop at nothing to get what she wants. She tore apart the sickbay. She nearly killed El-Nay. She won't obey my commands, and I am not strong enough to defeat her in a fight," Claudius explained, going over a laundry list of reasons that were causing him fear. "She may be able to sense Bruce here even now," he said, with his voice featuring a degree of fear and trepidation. His comlink beeped again, which caused him to look at it momentarily, before refocusing on Sierra. "Every time I think we're making progress we seem to encounter even greater setbacks," he said, as he remembered how good he felt following his encounter with the Emperor. That Inquisitor had surely knocked him down a few pegs ... more than a few actually.

She tensed. The last thing she wanted to see was the Lepi who forced Bruce from her. She felt overprotective, angry, and raw. Sierra didn't like it when people decided it was okay to mess with her family. The comlink briefly distracted her. She could only imagine what was happening now... Claudius was standing at the front of one very large battle that he *needed* to win. "No. We're going to push through this like everything else. I don't want to run, hide, and play games with this Inquisitor. When the battle of Chandrila has ended, we will request audience with the Emperor and go find out what he wants. You've anticipated the arrival of our son much longer than I have. I will *not* allow these gray clouds to ruin this moment. That Inquisitor can come here. She cannot have Bruce. He is too premature, too small to spend time away from us. She may not fear you, Claudius, but *everyone* fears failing the Emperor." The comlink beeped again. "Dammit." She grabbed his comm, answering in an annoyed voice. "Major Rodney. What is it?" He needed his wife ... and his adjutant.

From aboard the Retributor Allegra Ames had been attempting to contact Governor Rodney, but once again he had ignored her repeated hails, which was endlessly frustrating. She was just about to take a shuttle down to the surface when Major Rodney answered the comm. "Ah. Major, I was not aware you were..." she began, but then stopped herself, as she realized she was talking out of turn. "News from Chandrila, milady. We've lost another cruiser. This time to sabotage," she reported, quick and to the point. It was a relief to be the bearer of bad news from orbit, rather than in person. "Please inform the Governor," she reported, before concluding the transmission.

"Until the Rebels actually do attack so that we can defeat them we will not have leverage over the Inquisitor, nor the political capital to speak to the Emperor," Claudius informed her, reluctantly, as it was a terrible feeling to sit around waiting to get attacked. Just when he was about to continue Sierra snatched the comlink from him and received more troubling news from Chandrila. "Another cruiser?!" he exclaimed, before lowering his head. If he was not holding his infant son he would have reacted far, far worse, but for the sake of all involved he attempted to remain calm. "We can't get through one moment without bad news..." he complained, as he tried to refocus himself in the wake of the latest setback. The way the Rebellion was picking off his ships he wondered if we would even have a force left to deploy when the Rebel fleet arrived.

Bruce was the only member of the family who wasn't affected by all the bad news. All his efforts were rewarded when he finally freed a single, sleeper covered leg from his blankets. He had a rather smug expression on his face. Sierra and Bruce had been doing the dance all day long with keeping him wrapped up. The boy stopped fighting at that point, instead watching his father with bright, blue eyes. He cooed softly. Sierra digested the report from Allegra slowly. Another cruiser was gone. A voice in the back of her head whispered for her to gather her family and run. She looked down at their son, then to Claudius. "Another cruiser..." She shook her head. There was so much bad news that it was overwhelming. Sierra needed to attempt to pump up her husband as the Emperor had. In the wake of this bad news, she rose. "Take Bruce and go to our room, I'll meet you there."

She slowly made her way back down all the stairs. Her mind was full of worries and concerns. If Claudius lost the battle of Chandrila, she feared what would happen. Downstairs, Sierra prepared a bottle for Bruce, then began dragging his specialized bassinet up all those stairs. The woman felt dead on her feet by the time she reached their room. She placed the bassinet aside where their son would be close, but not so close that a whisper would wake him. She lingered near the armed chair in the sitting area within their room. She briefly took Bruce back from Claudius, if only to swaddle him properly before feeding. "Everything has been insane today. I'm forcing you to take a break. Now, sit down and take off your tunic." Sierra pointed to the chair. She laid out Bruce's blanket on the bed, then placed the baby in the middle of it. She expertly swaddled him. Her motherly instincts had arrived. When he was ready, Sierra took the baby back to Claudius. She gave him the baby, then a bottle. The close skin contact with the baby was instantly bonding for Sierra. She wanted him to experience the same. More than anything, there was nothing as mind numbing relaxing as feeding an infant.

Claudius followed Sierra's orders and moved down the stairs cradling his son. It seemed to take him a half hour, as he took every step gingerly, for the fear of dropping the baby was at the forefront of his mind. He moved into their bedroom, where he carefully sat down on the edge of the bed and waited for his wife to return. "Hi," he said, as he looked down at the baby, who he carefully placed down upon the bed. "I am your father," he said, before placing the tip of his forefinger on the little boy's cheek. "Mommy ... your mother ... will be right back," he said, correcting himself, as he briefly found himself drifting into a baby voice. It was then that Sierra returned, whom he hoped did not hear his 'cutesy voice'. "Yes. It has been insane," he said, as he watched her move away with the baby. Following her orders again he began to remove his tunic, stripping down to his undershirt. "Another cruiser..." he said, repeating her words from earlier. He was simply unable to let it go and put it past him.

Oh, you bet your bottom dollar that Sierra heard it. Her ovaries made a bigger explosion than the Imperial cruiser that had just been lost... Too soon? She didn't make a point to embarrass him over it. She found it completely adorable. All this time he worried about his abilities as a father. In reality, he was so damn good at it. "You stay in here, okay?" She said to Bruce once the blanket was wrapped around him. The boy let out a deep breath, then yawned wide. She knew that the cruiser wasn't something she could get out of his mind. For this moment, she would prolong that conversation. With Bruce prepared for bed, she handed him back to Claudius. She gave him a bottle too. "I think it's about bed time for him. Have a moment of peace with your boy, then we'll talk everything out." She kissed Claudius on the lips, then repeated the same action with Bruce. "Mommy loves you so much." Sierra spoke in her own 'cutesy' voice. She then laid on the bed in her normal spot. She had been ignoring all the aches of her recovering body for far too long.

As Claudius watched Sierra put their son to bed he reflected how absent he had been with his previous children. He wondered if his mother had ever done anything like that for him, or if she had the servants do it. He was not sure when his mother started drinking, but before he could try and think back on the subject Sierra was back on the bed with him. His hand moved to his belt, which he quickly unfastened, and then he allowed his pants and boots to hit the floor. He shifted his position so that he was laying on the bed, facing his wife, who he was grateful to have back in his company. But he knew that above them lurked an Inquisitor who would have no qualms with tearing them each limb from limb to get her paws on their son. Tonight he would sleep with one eye open ... if he could manage to sleep at all.

Sanity crept back into Sierra's mind. It was impossible for her to sleep away from Claudius. The few hours she had managed to sleep, due to exhaustion, on the way to New Alderaan was all the resting she'd done since Bruce's birth. She felt that now that things were beginning to slow. Sierra scooted towards Claudius until her body was nudged against his. There, her arms locked around his neck in a way that said she was *never* letting go. "Claudius, my Claudius.." She said as she kissed his chin. "We're going to make it through this together. In the morning, I'm coming with you to the ship and we'll work through it all. You've been dealt another terrible hand of cards, but I still believe in you."

Claudius never wanted Sierra to let go, but he knew at some point they would have to face what was out there waiting for them. He tensed when she mentioned the idea of joining him on the ship ... *she* was up there. "I do not think she can be reasoned with," he confessed to her, as he had never met with an opposition such as her before. "Are you sure that's a good idea?" he asked her, as he had his doubts. The Inquisitor possessed powers he had never seen firsthand before. She had instilled true fear in him. He really believed that if given the opportunity she would kill Sierra. He knew their lives did not matter to her ... only her mission mattered ... and despite what she said about Chandrila her mission seemed to be Bruce.

"I don't either." She feared the Inquisitor as well. If Inquisitor Thrope pulled the same stunt with her again, Sierra might not survive. She rolled her head up to look at him. "No, but don't you think it's better than Bruce and I becoming sitting ducks here? She claims she's here to aid your victory. She should be on Chandrila then." Sierra sighed. "I wish we could all hide in a bubble until this is over. I'm so angry about what she did." She finally started showing her feelings on the most recent events in their lives. "She took Bruce from me. She put both of our lives at risk for what...a display of power?! Everything was going so smoothly and she took it from us!" Sierra was furious and upset. She began to cry. "S-She took it from us..."

Claudius had tried to hide her in a bubble. A bubble called New Alderaan. But, she was back now, and he knew she would not let him talk her into leaving again. "It's alright. He came a little sooner than we expected, but he's here now ... and he's healthy and beautiful," he explained to her, as he brought his hand up to her face to wipe away her tears. "We still have everything. We just have to fight a little harder to keep it," he told her, trying to sound confident for both their sakes. He did not want to see her cry. Perhaps he should try swaddling her like she had swaddled their son.

The bubble had to include him too. New Alderaan wasn't a safe haven for Claudius. For now, she'd have to accept the bubble that she found in his arms. There was safety here. She tried to stop herself from crying. Everything had been entirely too stressful. "H-He is healthy and beautiful. . ." She agreed. Physically, he really looked like both of his parents. He was adorable. It was love at first sight. His attempts at being confident were enough for her. Sierra sniffed. She didn't regret bringing both her and Bruce back home. They all needed each other. "We will. We'll keep fighting for as long as we have to." Sierra wouldn't argue about being swaddled. At this point, she'd probably enjoy it. The tears slowly stopped. She took a deep breath. She needed to be at peak performance tomorrow, which meant that they needed to actually go to sleep. She settled very close to him. "We're going to figure out everything and bring the family back together." She told him, recalling that he had fallen asleep looking towards New Aldera. "Until then, Bruce and I will keep you strong." With her words, Sierra kissed her husband.

Claudius thought he could face up to any enemy in battle, but in Inquisitor Thrope he had an enemy who chose to attack him by exploiting his love for his family, and that he could not face. "We will. I know we will," he told her, trying to be brave and confident for her sake. In truth he did not know what they would face as they returned to the command ship. Chandrila had been under attack for days. If the Rebellion was ever going to come to their aid he imagined it would be soon. The kiss suddenly broke his chain of thought, and as it broke he looked at her, blinking slowly. "I love you. I feel stronger already," he told her, as he wrapped his arm around her and drew her near. As his arm tightened around her he wondered if he would manage to get any sleep. He was exhausted, but every time his eyes began to fall shut he opened them, stirring slightly, terrified that the Inquisitor was going to burst in. Eventually he did fall asleep, as a light rain began to fall outside the estate, causing a relaxing patter upon the windows. Storm clouds were rolling in ... and not just on the surface ... a sector away the Rebel fleet was preparing for battle.

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