Marcus Rodney had easily settled into life on
Jubilee. The Ithorians were *so* nice! Though, some
of them seemed to treat Zara like a ticking time
bomb. She still missed the chalet and Delaya like
crazy. Against all of her curious urges, she had not
looked into the current shape of Delaya. It was like
she couldn't bring herself to turn on the HoloNet
and face it. They had already received word via
comlink from Sierra that their side of the family
was safe...but there were still so many questions.
No one had heard from Livia. If it weren't for being
massively pregnant, Zara would have insisted they go
back and look for her.
For now, it
was too dangerous.
pushing herself, Zara had begun to involve herself
in Ithorian life. After visiting Pilaq in the
medcenter, a nurse roped her into reading to a bunch
of the young patients who actually knew who she
was...which was still weird for Zara. Up until that
moment, she had never seen a young Ithorian. It was
cuteness overload to walk into a room with
approximately twenty of them and forty small,
smiling mouths. She was in *love*! She promised to
come back to read again the very next day. On her
way out of the medcenter, a female Ithorian
approached her with a flyer for a Lamaze class later
on in the day. Zara stared down at the paper all the
way back to their room. She hadn't brought up the
subject of how her pregnancy would end *ever*. She
certainly hadn't brought up Lamaze, or how
incredibly awkward it would be for her and Marcus to
attend one of these first-parenting classes. The
nurse had reminded her of the horrors, or joys, of
having twins: You can go into labor *early*. Those
words alone had shaved a decade off of Zara's life.
Was she ready?!
into the room like a zombie. "Mrrrr..." She groaned,
plopping herself on the first seat that she could
find. Being on her feet for long periods of time was
incredibly uncomfortable. She propped them up.
"Marcus, I got to read to a bunch of Ithorian kids
at the hospital." She reported to him in a sudden
upward hormonal shift. "They were soooooooooo cute!"
She squeed. "It was really tempting to steal
one...but I was good!" Zara declared with a laugh.
Unsure how to bring up the following topic, Zara
*accidently* dropped the Lamaze information on the
ground near his feet. Oopsies!
had taken to life aboard the Jubilee more cautiously
than Zara. He had been spending most of his time in
the room that had been provided for them, seeking to
avoid the Imperial officers who roamed the
corridors. He still was not entirely sure what
happened back on Delaya and was worried the Empire
might have unfinished business with his family.
Zara, however, seemed to waste no opportunity to
explore and ingratiate herself into Ithorian life.
"There you are!" he said cheerfully when his wife
returned to their room. Immediately she began
talking about the Ithorian children and he knew that
she was ready to be a mother. Fortunately, she did
not have much time left ... less than a month now he
figured. "I'm glad you enjoyed yourself, my love,
but you really need to take it a bit more easy now
that you're near the end," he suggested, as he went
into full overprotective mode. "Did you run into any
Imperials?" he asked, pressing her, almost foaming
at the mouth with hunger for information from beyond
"I know, I
know. Trust me, my feet are telling me exactly the
same thing." Zara could never get used to how easily
simple activities tuckered her out while being
pregnant. "I saw a couple on the way back. No one
said anything to me. I didn't hear anything either."
It had been tempting to hack into the herdship's
computers and unravel all of its secrets. She also
didn't want to make trouble. Behaving herself was
awfully difficult! "You should come with me to the
medcenter later." Zara spoke, deciding that she
could be mature. "There's.... There's a Lamaze class
there. It might be... *helpful* or horrifying, who
knows! I figured we should... errr... *prepare*
ourselves for what's coming." She said it without
saying it; Zara Rodney was feeling a taddd bit
terrified of the actual act of having children. The
amount of oversharing that occurs while one is
pregnant is incredible. Strangers had been
approaching her, sharing their *birth stories*. The
word itself make her shudder. It was like war vet
recounting their most grave, dramatic missions. She
had failed to tell him about all the women who
complimented her breast size and how she'd be
*great* at making milk.
mentioned her feet, Marcus sprung into action like a
dutiful husband. He moved towards her, removing her
shoes, and began the process of rubbing her tired,
swollen feet. "An Ithorian Lamaze class?" he asked
her, as he began to pull on each of her chubby
little toes. "Now *that* I have to see," he said to
her, as his hands continued to work their magic on
her feet, while he occasionally tilted his head so
that he could smile at her. "You're the one that
needs to be prepared, my love," he said, as he
tickled the sole of her right foot. "I just have to
stand there. If I manage to get through the ordeal
without losing consciousness I'm declared a hero,"
he said, with a cruel wink, before he went back to a
more delicate and affectionate foot rub.
A purr was
nearly audible from the young pregnant woman as her
husband rubbed on her sore feet. She seemed to sink
deeper and deeper into the couch that she was laying
on. "Ooooh my gez, I love you so much." He was
working wonders on Zara's poor feet. She was happy
that he had agreed to dive into the class with her,
knowing it could potentially go awfully. She looked
up at him, laughing. "That's no fair! I get the hard
part! You better not pass out. I can't do it without
you.." She frowned. Chances were that the twins
would be born here, not on Delaya. She was too far
along to manage the stress of what had happened to
their home planet. "I have no idea what an Ithorian
Lamaze class will be like. They have an
advantage...they've got two mouths for breathing!"
The door to
the room Marcus and Zara occupied opened suddenly
revealing the arrival of Doctor Pilaq Tohan, who was
finally up and about. Against better judgment he was
carrying a small tray of food for Lady Zara. Even
though they were technically a guest in his home, he
felt that visiting them in their temporary quarters
required a small gesture. With the food in one hand
and his walking stick in the other he laboriously
made his way towards them. "Greetings, gentle
beings," he said, as he offered Zara the tray of
local fruits and a sundae from the Auntie Mae's
kiosk that had recently opened. The HoloNet business
station recently did a profile on her, which
conservatively estimated her as one of the top 20
richest woman in the core due to her lucrative
franchising and marketing blitz in the wake of
Marcus and Zara's visit. The woman had recently
released a version of Marcus and Zara's sex tape
where all of the unseeable areas were covered in her
logo, therefore making it viewable on mainstream
HoloNet frequencies. Some thought it was in bad
taste, but it did wonders for sales among young men.
As if Zara
couldn't be anymore spoiled, the good Doctor Pilaq
appeared bearing gifts of fruit and a sundae from
Auntie Mae's. She wanted to squeeze her Ithorian
friend, but decided it best that he recovered more
before suffering from a Zara tackle. "Doctor Tohan!"
She exclaimed happily. "It's good to see you up!
Thank you!" She took the tray from Pilaq, resting it
in her lap where she and Marcus could share it. She
first picked a strange, bright pink fruit up from
the tray and began to eat it. *Mmmm*! She had to
admit, the food here was amazing. Thankfully, Zara
was unaware that her sex tape had been made even
worse than the original, unedited version. She tried
to avoid looking at how many copies had been
downloaded and bought. She supposed it should be
comforting to know that she and Marcus could do
adult films with each other if they ever *really*
needed the money. "How are you feeling? We were just
talking about going to the Ithorian Lamaze class
later." She reported to him happily, rambling on. "I
got to read to little Ithorian babies today." Her
eyes went wide. "They were so cute!" Yes, Zara was
going to tell *everyone* about it. Even Sierra would
be exposed to Zara's rambling later on via comlink.
"I am better
than your brother-in-law would prefer," Doctor Tohan
said, with a bit of sass, as he took a seat in their
room. "Ah. Yes. I am familiar with that class. Among
my species the teacher is considered very
beautiful," he reported, as a trace of a smile
appeared on both of his mouths. "I am sure they
enjoyed it very much, but you must be mindful. Your
image is very well known ... even in these parts ...
thanks to the sale of Zara's Island Passion Sorbet,"
he reported, blinking both of his large bulbous
eyes. Even he had to admit it was a delicious and
refreshing flavor on a hot day.
bring him up. I'm gonna make his head hurt next time
I see him." She was sorry. She had apologized to
Pilaq for it roughly three million times while he
was out in bed. If she was lucky, Petrus had died
slowly and painfully. Her eyes lit up and a naughty
grin crossed her face. She looked at Marcus. She
could not resist the chance to tease Pilaq. "Really?
Maybe you should come with us then. I'm sure your
lady friend wouldn't mind it..." Teeheehee. Zara
couldn't help playing matchmaker. The conversation
led her to wonder how on earth Ithorians bred. Did
they put on some smooth jazz and make jiggy with it?
Zara's face turned red. She considered Ithorian baby
making for *way* too long. She was red for an entire
other reason when Pilaq brought up her signature
sorbet that Auntie Mae was selling. "One time. *One
time* on the beach!" She grumbled.
briefly flared when Pilaq confirmed his suspicions
that Petrus was the one responsible for his
injuries. The pain those two were unleashing on the
galaxy had spilled over to the Ithorian doctor,
perhaps the kindest and most innocent soul in their
orbit. "Speaking of the class ... we're going to be
late if we don't hurry ... and you don't exactly
move very fast anymore," he said, as he rose up and
moved to help his wife. He attempted to lift her up,
but he made zero progress. He grit his teeth,
groaning slightly, as he finally pulled her up from
her chair. He could not wait until the twins were
out of his wife ... carrying all three of them was
beyond his strength.
began stammering when Zara suggested *he* attend the
class as well. He began to blush as much as the
brown skinned Ithorian species could. "Oh. No, no,
no. I really would be out of place," he said,
nervously, as the long digits of his hand began to
flail wildly. As he saw them rise up he, too, rose
from his seat. "I will walk with you though," he
said, as he grasped his walking stick and began
walking down the busy corridor of the city sized
ship with them. Ithorians and species of all kind
were busy going through the business of daily life
... all under the watchful eye of their Imperial
minders. In many ways it was much like his time as
herd leader 20 years ago, but in some critical ways
it had been forever tainted by the Empire.
Marcus! I feel as big as a Hutt." She took his
hands, needing his help to rise again. He wasn't the
only one looking forward to life after having the
twins. Zara missed being able to fool around with
him in the chalet without causing him serious
injury. Stairs would also no longer be her worst
enemy. Her hand remained in Marcus' as she guided
the group down the clustered corridor. Together,
they moved towards the medcenter where the class was
being held. "You can really stay. I'm sure no one
will mind.." Zara hinted at Pilaq on the way.
Bailo stood in front of an open door. She wore a
friendly smile on both of her mouths. She was
greeting all the anxious, expecting couples.
"Welcome, please sit in and make yourself
comfortable. There are refreshments located on the
front table." The female Ithorian nurse had been
working in labor and deliver for a *very* long time.
The Lamaze classes were one of her favorite parts of
her job. She knew that she could instill confidence
in some of the nervous couples expecting their first
children. Her smiles grew brighter when she saw
Marcus Rodney and his incredibly pregnant wife.
There was an additional member in her group who she
recognized: Pilaq Tohan. It had been some time since
he had been the herd leader, but she still recalled
him. She walked towards them, offering Marcus a long
fingered hand. She took his hand, shaking it.
"Congratulations, Marcus Rodney. I oversaw your
wife's treatment here." She told him. "Your babies
are very healthy. You should be proud." Then to
Zara. "I heard what you did for the children. Thank
you. They *loved* it." And finally, to Pilaq. "It's
good to see you around, Doctor Tohan." He was the
last person in line to receive a handshake from the
nurse. Instead, he ended up with a warm, one-armed
eyes went wide when he saw Alessandra again ... just
as beautiful as he remembered. When she attempted to
speak to him his weak old heart began to beat out of
his chest. He turned suddenly, doing his best to run
away, but his knees did not cooperate. "Ow," he
cried out, as he wobbled down the hall, stabbing his
walking stick into the deck in a desperate attempt
to get away faster. That was too close, he thought
to himself, as he rounded the corner to catch his
breath. He was not prepared for that at all.
silently as he watched the elderly Ithorian run
away. Clearly he had an attraction to the Lamaze
instructor, but had yet to work up the nerve to do
anything about it. Perhaps he should try to give the
doctor some courage. A pep talk might help. Before
he could introduce himself to the teacher, some of
the other students had come forward to take pictures
and ask for autographs. Several of them were even
eating Zara's Island Passion Sorbet, which
advertised it was now made with *real* Delayan sea
cow milk. Feeling swarmed he did his best to please
everyone, before finally taking a moment to exchange
pleasantries with Alessandra. "Thank you. Thank you
so much, Doctor Bailo," he said to her, with a
courteous smile as he shook her hand. "I'm sorry. I
hope we don't provide too much of a distraction," he
said, as one more flash went off, forever capturing
the moment to be replayed endless on the HoloNet.
Tsk. Tsk. Zara
was going to have to work overtime to play the part
of Pilaq's little matchmaker. He *clearly* had a
thing for the Ithorian nurse. As much as it was none
of her business ... she was making it into her
business! Her attention split away from her doctor
friend when the first flash went off. *Nooooooooooooo*.
It appeared that the young children were fans of the
couple because their parents were. Zara liked it
when the children flooded around her. It was much
easier to make little ones happy. Now there were
full-sized adult Ithorians swarming them. Zara did
her best to keep a pleasant attitude while realizing
that yet another intimate moment would be exploited
on the HoloNet. She looked apologetic at the nurse.
understanding. The appearance of such a noble couple
had excited everyone. "All will be well, Lord
Rodney." She reassured him with her calm, endless
smiles. "Make yourself comfortable." She made her
way to the front of the class. "Hello everyone!" She
called out in a pleasantly soothing voice. "Please
take a moment to place all electronic devices inside
of your personal bags. Let us give our guests some
privacy." She winked towards Marcus and Zara. She
could sense that they were nervous just like every
other couple there. In order to provide them with
some comfort, she needed to shield them from another
HoloNet video leak. While she stood in front of the
class, Zara slowly lowered herself on the plush,
amazingly comfortable, ground where the other eager
couples listened to Doctor Bailo begin to talk about
the beauty of life and other wonderful things. Zara
grinned to herself, looking down at her belly. Life
had changed so much in the last year. She had never
imagined that she'd be married and starting a family
with *two* children.
progressed, Doctor Bailo explained the *whole*
birthing process from a medical standpoint. Zara
tried not to listen. She tried to ignore all the
graphic parts that made her want to cry. Looking
around the room, she could see other pregnant women
who looked like they were going to pass out. When
terror time was over, Doctor Bailo passed out baby
Ithorian dolls and cloth diapers. Zara had become so
nervous that she dropped the doll as soon as it was
placed in her hands. "Oh no! I dropped our baby!"
in horror as their pretend baby fell to the floor.
"No!" he cried out, lunging forward in a desperate,
but ultimately futile effort to catch the doll. As
it impacted, the head popped off and slowly rolled
across the floor. It was the most horrific sight he
had ever seen. He crawled upon the floor until he
retrieved the head, and began trying to screw it
back upon the body. "It's ok! I fixed it!" he said,
as he handed it back towards Zara, with the head
screwed on backwards. Neither of them knew what they
were doing and in less than one month they were
going to have a real one to take care of. *Two* of
member of the Rodney family had been beheaded in a
cruel testament of fate. "No!" She could see flashes
going off behind her. Despite the doctor's orders,
Zara and Marcus were not meant to be left alone.
"I'm so sorry!" She whimpered, quickly fixing the
baby Ithorian's head. As for the cloth diaper...
Zara was clueless. The Ithorians were tree huggers
in the most intense of ways. She thought of her
go-bag located inside of the Nerf Herder which held
everything they thought she, and the twins, might
need when she went into labor. They had decided to
use diapers like *normal* people. She picked up the
cloth. "Okay, Thermos Rodney, let's get you
ready..." Zara fiddled with the cloth. Beside her,
she could see the future expert parents navigating
their way through the Great Baby Trials like it was
nothing. "Um, maybe like this..." She started
wrapping the cloth around the baby's waist. "Er, um.
Um." She was growing tense. The occasional flashes
made her feel like her inadequacy was now out for
people to publicly humiliate her over. She looked at
Marcus for help.
could see the noble couple growing more and more
tense. It seemed she couldn't stop people from
ruining a special moment between a mother and
father. She approached her helper, tapping the young
nurse on the shoulder. She whispered something, then
moved towards Marcus and Zara. She was very gentle.
"Come with me you two." The nurse led the way out of
the room with all the couples. She moved into the
empty room next-door. When she flipped on the
lights, she revealed a room identical to the one
they'd been in...only this one was empty. She closed
the door behind them. "Why don't we try this again?"
She asked, rounding to the front of the room. In a
box, she pulled out a diaper which she then gave to
Marcus. "I know our ways can be a little ...
had spent the past two decades earning a reputation
as one of the most fearsome bounty hunters in the
galaxy. He had battled foes across the known galaxy
and had often found himself in hopeless, desperate
situations ... but he had *never* changed a diaper.
"Me?!" he asked, as he looked from Doctor Bailo to
Zara, and back to the Doctor. "Shouldn't *she* go
first?" he asked, incredulously, as he was hesitant
to take the baby prop yet again. Finally he rolled
his eyes and unleashed a sigh of acceptance as he
took the baby and moved towards the changing
station. He had done extensive repairs and
modifications to his transport, assembled weapons,
disarmed explosives, and penetrated impregnable
security. But it was a mystery to him how to place
the diaper on the baby. He tried it one way, but
that did not work it all. Then another, but somehow
the diaper ended up on the baby's head. "No. That's
not right at all," he said to himself, as he rolled
up his sleeves and tried again. Six hours later the
diaper was on, but everyone else had gone. "There!
Perfect!" he said, as he looked around, but realized
the lights had been turned out and he was alone.
In that time,
Zara had spoken with the doctor about everything.
The Ithorian woman provided her with some comfort.
She even demonstrated how to manage holding two
babies at once, seated. Ultimately, Zara ended up in
a glider with two of the plastic babies in her arms.
She rocked them softly, watching her husband until
she nodded off. She only awoke again when he had
successfully placed a diaper on the baby. "Hm?!" She
blinked. The lights were off. It was late at night.
He had been so determined that Doctor Bailo had let
him continue on. She saw that he'd successfully
diapered the baby and squeed. "*Yay*! Good job,
Marcus! You did it!" Zara rose from the seat. She
placed the babies inside of a box containing all the
other dolls. From behind, Zara hugged her husband
tightly. "I know you're going to be the best daddy
ever." She said, "Because you already are." Though
the class had been a disaster, it left Zara with the
feeling that they were, in fact, ready.