Sierra Rodney had made herself a home inside of her
husband's medcenter suite. From there, she
obsessively tried to work out a way to free Zarcus
and quickly usher Papius off of Delaya. There were
datapads around her. She had requested all the
hospital footage from Gaius so she could find the
mysterious girl who she felt was the key to solving
all these problems. She had also used a resource to
have the remaining hair's DNA constructed. She was
expecting the results any minute now.
There were so many things wrong with the medcenter
footage. The girl simply wasn't there. In the places
Sierra *knew* the girl had been, she wasn't there.
The corruption was like a disease. Trying to be
clever, Sierra accessed older footage from the time
when Julius was still alive. Seeing the girl, she
was certain she could have made it in and out of the
medcenter without anyone noticing her...or stopping
her. Yet there was nothing! *Nothing!* The young
Duchess cursed under her breath as her eyes lifted
from the video she had watched way too many times.
She softened while looking at her sleeping husband.
She had been like a damn vulture since returning to
his side. The woman was watching his back, checking
his food for toxins, and noting *anyone* who walked
in the room.
All of a sudden, she heard a notification signifying
that she had a new message. The contents of that
message turned *everything* upside down. The results
of the DNA testing had arrived. She unfolded her
legs and sat back. She pressed her face into the
palms of her hands then ran her fingers anxiously
through her blonde locks.
A Rodney was behind all of this. (D)
Another day had done wonders for Claudius Rodney.
While he was not up and about, he was nevertheless
out of bed and in a chair near the window. It
reminded him of his father's final stay in the
medcenter, when he went to visit him and saw him
sitting in this very same chair. Was he already that
old? With the blanket that had been draped over his
lap and the hot cup of tea on the table next to him
he certainly felt old. He was even being 'handled',
as no one had bothered to tell him what Governor
Arundel was up to. He had no idea that his brother
and sister-in-law were in jail, nor was he aware
that AT-STs were in the streets of Leiliani and the
refugee center named in honor of his daughter was
being torn apart. He was the Duke in name only.
The situation outside the medcenter was out of
control. Sierra was aware what was happening to her
city. Taking into consideration Claudius' position,
she didn't thrust the weight onto him. The news that
had just been delivered was leveling. It was enough
to make Sierra *seriously* consider if they could
run away from Delaya and hide well enough that no
one would ever find them. This wasn't the Leiliani
that she wanted her children to see. This wasn't the
Leiliani she had grown up in. Defeated, Sierra rose
from her seat. She crossed the length of the room
and lowered herself into the chair beside her
husband. Her hand slid into his and gave it a
squeeze. She would need to part from him to attempt
to clean up the mess that was unfolding before her.
Her heart was split...should she protect Claudius or
try to protect the city?
The one bright spot in Claudius' wife was Sierra,
and she had responded to his latest mishap
exceptionally well. When she sat beside him he
reached across from her, placing his hand upon her's
and squeezing it affectionately. "I've missed you,"
he said weakly, but he was speaking much better than
he was just the other day. In a few more days he
hoped he would be back to his old self again. He
smiled at her happily, before moving to pour her a
cup of hot tea as well. His hand moved to his cup,
trembling slightly and spilling some, but eventually
got it up to his lips where he was able to sip on it
slightly. "How is Marcus?" he asked, not referring
to his arrest, which he was unaware of, but the
wrestling between them. It was his hope that he had
given as much as he had gotten. A false hope, but a
hope all the same.
"And I, you," Sierra couldn't make it through all of
this without him. The mishap had been enough to
remind her how precious life was. Her hand squeezed
his back. Seeing him slowly regaining his strength
gave her reassurance: her husband would be okay.
"Oh, thank you!" She said as she picked up the cup
of newly poured tea. He was doing so much better
already. Sierra thought that getting him out of bed
would help improve his mood...hopefully. She blew on
the steaming liquid before drinking some. The
mention of Marcus reminded her of Papius and Zara.
"Marcus... He is well." She stated. What if he
wasn't? Sierra had no idea what torture Papius was
putting them through. He seemed like the kinda guy
who wasn't above hurting a pregnant woman. She
looked towards Claudius. "I need your wisdom, my
love." She did *not* want to open this can of worms.
She clutched his hand a little harder. Her other
hand moved to take the cup from his hands. The last
thing he needed was to spill burning hot liquids all
over himself. She set it aside. "Marcus has been
wrongfully arrested for attempting to assassinate
you. Papius is attempting to nail him for all of it.
Everything that's happened." She was becoming more
concerned by revealing this to him. "Meanwhile,
there was also another attempt on your life. It was
the girl again...I'm certain it was the one who was
responsible for what happened to me." She paused,
letting him digest the huge bite she was feeding
That was not the news that Claudius expected at all.
He was hoping perhaps his younger brother had a
black eye, a broken bone, or *something* from their
roughhousing. But he never expected that the
Imperial Governor would have dared to arrest his
brother. "What?! Didn't you inform him that we were
simply quarrelling?" he asked, his cheeks flushing
red, and his heart rate monitor beginning to sound
like a battle alert aboard the Star Destroyer. But,
before he could get overly concerned about his
brother's arrest there was the news that there had
been another attempt on his life by the same servant
girl that tried to poison his wife. "Was she
arrested?" he asked, leaning forward in the chair so
that she could hear him more clearly without having
to raise his voice. Much had happened in the very
short time he had been out of the picture. It seemed
that if he was not on alert all day, every day, then
the galaxy as a whole fell apart.
She sighed, "I'm getting there." Her other hand
rubbed his leg. She eyed the heart monitor. It was
going to get worse. Sierra had *no* good news for
her husband. She, too, leaned forward to drop the
volume of her voice. "I *tried*. I awoke at your
side while she was in the room. I pursued her. I
told cousin Gaius to lock down the medcenter. I
*told* him." Her eyebrows knotted. "I chased her to
the elevator." She adjusted the sleeve of her shirt
so he could see where the dark bruise on her forearm
was in varying states of healing. "It was too late.
I took the stairs. Gaius was there with the guard
when I reached the bottom. He did something very
bothersome. He pretended like he didn't know what I
was talking about, made it like I was hysterical,
and had me sedated. I was fortunate enough to yank
out some of the witch's hair...which leads us to the
most disturbing part of the story." She was paranoid
that someone was watching them here. It was exactly
like Arden all over again. Sierra leaned in. Her
lips were right at his ear. "I had the DNA tested.
There is no doubt about it. This girl is a *Rodney*.
I don't know the exact relation. I do know that she
has been wiped of the medcenter's footage. My gut
says that Gaius is in on this. He failed to deliver
the complete footage. He left an opening for the
girl to get away. He is so close to the situation
that no one would suspect him." She kissed his ear,
scooting back slightly.
"He sedated you?!" Claudius asked, feeling as if he
did not have all of the information. He could not
imagine any justified reason for Gaius to have his
wife sedated, but at the same time his cousin did
not strike him as someone bold enough to do
something like that on his own. Either way Claudius
was furious and his vital monitors showed it. "A
Rodney?" he asked, as he felt the room begin to
spin. He was becoming incredibly lightheaded, and he
began to lower his head and massage his temple with
his index fingers. "I fear there is more going on
here than either of us understand," he said to her,
wishing he could get up out of this chair and see to
it all. But he knew he was not yet capable of it. He
hoped that his wife was capable of acting in his
absence, but with an Imperial Governor run amuck,
his brother in jail, and another Rodney attempting
to kill him he was slightly concerned.
She nodded her head. Oooh yeah, Gaius had her
sedated and drooling over herself. She could see how
worked up her husband had become, both by his vitals
and his expression. Sierra rose. She stood before
Claudius, leaning down to embrace him and anchor him
in the difficult time. "I'm going to find out
exactly what is going on. There is one matter that I
need your help with. Zara and I met with the
Governor. I thought that explaining the situation
would lead to Marcus being freed. That is not so.
Papius wasn't having any of my logic. The meeting
did not go well. It resulted in Zara punching the
man in the nose. Now she's being held under the
assumption that she, too, is a traitor. I don't know
what route to take to have them freed. I thought
about trying to account for where they were during
certain events, but that's impossible. I highly
doubt they've positioned dozens of cameras inside of
their own chalet."
"She struck him?" Claudius asked, sounding
absolutely aghast at the notion. There were many
things he could make go away, but striking an
Imperial Governor was not necessarily one of them.
"Things have gone too far in my absence," he
declared, before attempting to stand up. He got
about halfway out of the chair when he felt suddenly
lightheaded and collapsed back into the chair
without any grace or dignity. He let out an
exhausted pant, his hands gripping the arms of the
chair as he tried to collect himself. "On second
thought..." he began, before losing his breath, and
deciding to take another sip of tea to open up his
airways. "On second thought, inform Governor
I would like him to come here," he instructed her,
but wondered if it was inadvisable for him to be
seen in such a deteriorated state. It might inspire
him to be even more bold if the Governor felt that
he was out of the way.
Sierra wasn't going to let him go anywhere...and
apparently his head wasn't either. When he tried to
stand, Claudius fell back in his chair. A firm look
crossed her face. The Duchess placed herself in his
lap, seated sideways. She embraced the fact that she
could act as a paperweight right now. "No." She
objected. "He is not to come here. The man is a
vulture. He cannot see you like this, nor will I
allow it. You're out of commission until I see a
doctor clear you. You can work through me. You
*have* to work through me. I came for your advice.
So advise me, Grand Moff Claudius."
Claudius let out a continuous sigh, echoing his
earlier one. As he felt confined to the chair there
was nothing to do but lament his situation at times.
"Usually when a subordinate officer gave me trouble
I would simply send Kerrie to *convince* them," he
said, with a soft chuckle, before moving to finish
his team. "I have no authority over this new
Governor. And Grand Moff Praji views me as a rival.
Contacting him directly would only make things
worse," he reasoned, as he stared off into space
while finishing his tea. "I would consider a bribe
in this instance. He is young. He is ambitious. The
kind of a man that can be bought," he said,
reluctantly, but it was probably the best course of
action for that kind of man, or so he thought.
Nothing sounded better than sending Kerrie to do the
convincing. Sadly, that was out of the question. As
Claudius thought aloud, Sierra listened. She
understood that going over Papius' head to Grand
Moff Praji was idiotic. It would land them in a
world of hurt. She nodded her head. "I was also
thinking a bribe might be the best way to go. What
can I offer him that he won't say no to? I feel it
necessary to have Zara and Marcus released as
quickly as possible. It'll lighten the load, so to
speak." Her hands ran over his chest affectionately.
She would have massaged his shoulders, but she
worried one wrong move might hurt his head. Sierra's
motions were gentle. Even her words had become
softer and soothing.
Claudius pursed his lips as the wheels began to turn
inside of his brain. "The man clearly wants power.
He's a governor who wants to become a Moff.
Unfortunately, I don't have the authority to promote
him," he said, with a firm nod of his head, as he
considered their options. "Therefore we must make
his legitimate promotion easier," he reasoned, but
that was easier said than done. It also would not be
something that could be done in a timely manner,
which would mean that his brother and sister-in-law
would be stuck in their cells. "We must find him
some legitimately Rebels and allow him to take
credit for it," he said, decisively, but he had no
idea how to do that. He was convinced there were
Rebels on Delaya, but the Alderaan Guard had not
managed to find them. Could Sierra? And could she do
so in a timely manner?
Claudius' suggestion was easier said than done. It
would cause Sierra to abandon her search for that
girl and delving into Gaius. However, it was the
best way to free Zara and Marcus. It was her turn to
rub at her temples. If life kept going like this,
she was going to gray before she was twenty-five.
After thinking for a minute, she spoke. "Okay. If
anyone's up for the job, it's an ISB agent, right?"
She kissed him on the lips. He had given her exactly
as she had asked for. At the conclusion of their
kiss, Sierra backed her way out of his lap. She
glared at him. "You still aren't allowed to push
yourself. If you do, I'll stick Zara on you after I
get her out. That girl is pretty vicious. She broke
the Governor's nose." Sierra turned to face the city
that was causing her so much trouble. She was
determined to take control while Claudius was out of