Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:1:13) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Sea Islands) and Nerf Herder.
Lord Marcus Rodney, and Lady Zara Rodney.

After a brief stopover on Esseles, the Nerf Herder made its way back to Delaya. The explosives and tracking device placed there by Traebor and Previn had seemingly been removed, and the promise of a return to a normal life had seemingly been granted to them. With the chalet still damaged from the Imperial attack, Marcus instead guided the G1-A starfighter towards the Sea Islands where they were married and had their honeymoon. It was much warmer and more pleasant than the frozen tundra they had called home. As the small craft gingerly touched down on the beach, he turned his attention towards his wife, and offered a reassuring smile. "We made it through, my love," he said, as he reached across to her in the co-pilot's seat to aide in removing her safety harness. "Hopefully no recording devices this time," he said, as he led her from the cockpit to the ramp that would take them down to the sandy surface below. Almost immediately after he opened the hatch the smell of the fresh sea air began to permeate around them, a welcome relief from the harsh, polluted air that surrounded he capital city of Leiliani. As he led her down, he was quick to kick off his boots, allowing his naked feet to touch the warm sand. "I understand why this is an off limits wildlife preserve," he said, as he turned to watch her in the sunlight, which seemed to make her look even more radiant. "I would hate to see what's befallen the cities happen here," he said sadly, but remembered her work with the Galactic Green Project and smiled optimistically.

It had been one hell of a week. Zara felt it, too. After her stunts to procure information, she was left one exhausted girl, both emotionally drained and physically. She supposed she wasn't the lithe little thing she had once been. Regardless, she had been massively relieved when the information pleased Min and Tosha enough to release them. Though the devices were removed, she intended to comb through the ship with a fine comb at her first opportunity. After all, Zara wasn't trusting. She slept most of the way back to Delaya. She knew full well that they couldn't return to the chalet. The damage would need to be repaired. If the crib was destroyed in the mayhem, she swore to god she'd shove a knife down Min's throat. Her mind couldn't seem to rest. She felt horrible on the inside for too many reasons, some hormonal, others not.

It was nice to see the Sea Islands again. No matter how hard the paparazzi tried to dirty their special day, Zara had managed to keep the memory clean and beautiful, just as it was. She *loved* it there. She liked watching the waves move in and out. She liked the smell, the noises, and the sights. It was overall a very appealing place to her, and quite possibly the place where they needed to be right now. Her blue eyes rose to Marcus while he aided her with her safety harness. She was still dressed for war, only she had removed her helmet and armor. The clothing she wore was skin tight and allowed no breathing room. She hadn't even removed her utility belt until she stood from her seat. "I'll double check for them. I trust those Imperial bastards as far as I can throw 'em." Her hand slid into his. What awaited them outside the hatch was exactly what the doctor prescribed, a stress free environment away from Min, the problems with their house, Julius, and everything else. She took in a slow, deep breath.

The wind blew through her hair refreshingly. She took a moment to bend over and undo the various lacings of her boots, then step out of them, along with her socks. She continued down the ramp and into the sand. "I would too. I was surprised the first time you brought me here. I didn't think a place like this existed on Delaya." She trotted over towards him. "Hopefully that won't hold true for much longer though. The northern part will recover."

Marcus listened to her talk about the potential of Min and Tosha leaving unwanted 'presents' aboard the Nerf Herder, but the sun was shining too bright for him to care. He moved his arms swiftly towards her, and in an ungraceful motion he lifted her up into his arms, cradling her. He could feel the added weight as a result of Darrus growing deep inside her, but he was a smart enough man not to mention this to her. "Let's not worry about anything right now," he said sweetly, as he began heading towards the shoreline. The waves crashed, splashing over his feet, and causing a shiver to run up his spine as he transitioned from the burning hot sand to the warm, refreshing water. As he entered deeper into the water they became enveloped in the water, which roughly the temperature of a bath, given the area's close proximity to the equator. Their clothes be damned he though, as he let her go, allowing her to splash down into the chest high salt water. In that moment he hoped that they could get on with their lives, free from the turbulent galactic events that seemed to follow them wherever they went. He allowed his body to go limp, and before long he was floating on his back, arms outstretched, and allowing the Aldera star's rays to cascade down upon him. In the sky above thrantas carelessly soared above, before returning to their nesting grounds on one of them many islands that darted the archipelago.

It was a lot easier said than done, not worrying about things. For Zara, that seemed like all she could do. She saw Julius' pained face every time she closed her eyes. The guilt was heavier than the weight of her entire body, which Marcus picked up so easily that she didn't guess her added weight was a bother. Her arms moved into position around his neck. From where he held her, it took a while for the warm water to reach her body. She had no consideration for her clothes. Like everything else, they didn't fit properly. She fell into the water. The ocean waves swept over her torso until she got her feet underneath her. Her fingers pushed her hair back out of her face. She glanced up towards the sky, wondering when life would become calm for them again...or if it ever would.

Marcus seemed to be enjoying himself finally. He'd been through so much lately. Too much of that was a direct result of Zara. Somewhere in Min's cage, she had lost herself in a massive rut of confusion, self hate, and guilt. She didn't know how to bring it all up to her husband. So, she floated towards him. Her fingers ran over his cheek slowly. "I'm going to go check the ship, okay? I won't be able to relax until I'm sure we're not being tracked." That was true. She'd obsess about it endlessly. Placing a kiss on his cheek, she began swimming back towards the shore. When her foot touched with the sand, she began peeling off the one-piece suit until all she wore was her panties (white with Ewok faces), and a bra. At the Nerf Herder, Zara continued to play with her thoughts.

As much as Marcus was enjoying floating in the gentle tidal current that surrounded the islands, he was here to enjoy it with his wife. When she kissed him and swam away, he did not allow himself to linger, and instead swam after her towards the shore. As he exited the water the feel of the wet clothing constricting to his body was awful, and his shirt and trousers were soon pulled off and cast aside. It revealed the scarred and battered flesh from a lifetime of hunting and misadventure, where each blemish could tell the tale of a victory or loss. He watched her working on the Nerf Herder, but could tell that something was 'wrong'. He had been around her long enough to know when something was on her mind. Slowly, he moved up behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist, with his hands coming to rest upon her burgeoning belly. He pressed his near naked flesh against her back, and moved his crotch against her bum. His face descended towards the back of her neck, placing kisses upon it, as he tried to sooth her with physicality. "What is on your mind?" he said, softly into her ear, as he held her close against his wet firmness.

He wouldn't let her get away with this one, would he? Ultimately, that was probably for the best. Zara's headspace wasn't the greatest place to be at the moment. She was thorough in the beginnings of her search. What's the saying? Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice... She wouldn't see a second time happen. Her efforts took a detour. No sooner had she started was she captured by her husband's comforting arms. She backed up a half-step to ensure that there was no space between them. Her nearly bare back pressed into his torso. Zara let out a sigh to begin deflating herself. Her small hands rested on top of his. As if he hadn't already weakened her defenses, he had to kiss her neck, which did help soothe her. He was nothing but sweet to her. What could she expect? He was the best husband in the galaxy.

Another sigh came from her. "I-I don't know where to start." Her head turned so that her nose could nuzzle against his softly. "Min started something inside my head, something that I can't seem to stop. I feel like a horrible person, and a horrible wife, and a horrible *horrible*." She explained to him. Her head had turned away from him when she began to tear up. "I feel like I suck. I mean, look at the facts, Min was *right*. I messed up your whole *Nerf Herder* persona, which has resulted in you getting stuck in some crappy situations. If I wasn't here, you'd still be at the top of your game." Now she was on a roll. There was no stopping her emotional tyrant. "And then there's your family." Her hands left his so she could wipe the tears building on her cheeks. "Seeing your father. I don't know. It *impacted* me. I'd felt bad before that, but reality really sunk in at that moment. I thought I'd made the right decision for us. I don't think so anymore. He *should* know. He *deserves* to know. You deserve to have contact with your family. You deserve to have..." Zara's voice cracked, " have someone *better* than me. Someone who isn't totally messed up and alienated you from your own family. You *should* be Duke. You love this planet. You'd be amazing." She had talked herself out by now. Her small body shook against him while she sobbed. Just like that, her little monsters had jumped from her head and into the real world.

Marcus listened to his wife intently, and he could tell by the tremor in her voice that she was about to break. His heart melted when she spoke, revealing just how Min had traumatized her psychological with her vile words and holorecordings. He quickly took hold of the situation, spinning her around so that she would face him. He brought a single index finger to her lips as she began to sob, in order to give her a break from speech. "My love, that Nerf Herder persona should have been retired the moment we learned you were pregnant. That was my old life ... my past ... you and Darrus are my future and I need no longer be a bounty hunter adventurer," he assured her, as his own eyes began to well from the sight of her tears. "There is no one better than you, Zara. *No one!*" he said emphatically, as he looked down at her with confident eyes to reassure her. "Put your father from your thoughts. *You* are my family now," and, with that simple statement, he recoiled his finger and placed his lips upon hers.

She could have gone on and on and on if he hadn't stopped her. Zara had allowed herself to feed to the idea that she was no good, and that she hadn't improved his life. Her sad eyes landed on his. She wasn't physically injured yet she felt so much pain. How did she make it go away? The words he said to her were the ones she needed the most. Insecurity wasn't normally a problem for Zara. Until recently, she really hadn't felt doubts about their relationship. She loved him too much to ever let him go. She was going to try harder to make life better for him too. No one was better than him. No one would ever compare to him in any way, shape, or form. Still crying, Zara wrapped her arms around him tightly. She kissed him with all the love she could muster. Emotions fluidly rolled between them. Marcus reminded her, in more than his words, that he loved her. They'd been married on this very same beach because of those feelings...because they were ready to devote forever to each other. She trembled against him until her tears stopped falling.

As Marcus was recovering from their midday frolicking on the beach, the worst sound he had ever heard woke him from his bliss. The deathly scream of one of the majestic thrantas filled the sky, it's whaling cries heard as it slowly crashed to the surface. He sat up quickly, and he knew immediately what was happening. "Poachers!" he yelled towards Zara, as he began to move towards the ship where he would acquire his weapons. The hunting grounds where their chalet was located had been frozen over, forcing local and tourist hunters to violate the last, untouched lands on the planet. The naked bounty hunter scrambled up the ramp of the ship, desperate to locate his rifle in an attempt to put an end to the unauthorized hunters threatening the thranta's protected nesting grounds.

After all the craziness with Min and the intense sex, Zara was ready for a nap. Apparently Marcus was too! They didn't make it far from the ship. She lay on the beach, arms wrapped around Marcus, silently snoozing away. Zara had sleepy dreams of eating French silk pie off of her husband. Apparently her cravings and her lively lust had collided. What could have been a fantastic dream, that she would take to the grave with her, ended when a horrible noise awoke Zara. "Mmm..?" Her eyes blinked the sleep away. All it took was one word from Marcus to get her functioning properly again. "*What*?" Poachers were the worst kind of evil (okay, maybe second worse). Many species of animals had gone extinct thanks to meaningless hunting. She put two and two together, realizing that the thrantas were being attacked. She, too, rose to her feet and moved towards the ship. She didn't think about her exposed body, only about where she had put Marcus' rifle while rearranging the Nerf Herder for the millionth time. She moved into the ship quickly, soon appearing with the rifle which she handed to him, and her helmet underneath her arm. "What the hell? What sicko is doing this?!" She plopped her helmet on her head, adjusting it to zoom in on the party attacking the thrantas.

Getting dressed was such a simple task ... he had been doing it with ease since childhood ... but for some reason he was unable to manage to get his pants on at this moment. He was still recovering from their romantic interlude, and he was moving much to fast to aide the thrantas, so it seemed to take something of an eternity from him to dress himself. Fortunately, Zara had saved him considerable time by locating and handing him his AXM-50 "Blast and Smash" rifle. Moving swiftly, he exited the ship, dressed in his clothing and sufficiently armed. Moving with Zara, he penetrated into the overgrown fauna of the interior of the island, brushing against vines and other obstacles until he came upon the hunting party.

The hunters were a small group of three of four who made no attempt to be hidden or conceal their illegal actions. With the Duke's health dominating the news no one seemed to be paying attention to the planet's few remaining ecological preserves, and hunters from across the core were paying big credits for the opportunity to introduce upon the idyllic natural setting and plunder it. They seem enraged to see the interlopers intrude upon their camp, as they were working on preparing the dead thranta for transport back home where they would be preserved and displayed as a trophy. Marcus was seething, and was quick to raise his weapon at them. Before he met Zara he would have simply lobbed a grenade and been done with them, but he was going to be a father and he vowed to no longer be a killer. "I'll have you in irons for this," he said, angrily, as he began giving them instructions to surrender.

Zara dressed as quickly as she could...meaning she wasn't really paying attention to what she was doing. Somehow, she ended up in a pair of Marcus' pants, frankly, they felt more comfortable than her own, and a shirt that actually fit her properly. She almost forgot her boots when they set off together towards the interior of the island. She felt furious. It wasn't like the thrantas had done anything to deserve this. Even Sir Tentacles, the troublesome beast of the lake, was to be carefully transported to a better place before any of the environmental work would begin on their icy home. She burst through the foliage until they came upon the small group. After dealing with Imperials, a group like their own seemed like nothing. Zara was only armed with a single blaster, which she held pointed towards the group now.

The thranta that they had taken from the sky lay dead; a large spike buried into its side. And for what? Credits, of course. The crucial last moments of Julius' life meant no time for protecting the environment. Zara wanted to change that, as she had shown in embarking on 'fixing' the planet. The members of the group looked shocked to see anyone. It was as if they'd done this frequently, but only now were they getting caught with their pants down. The thought only made Zara angrier. "Step away from the thranta, now." Zara growled. To be taken seriously, she shot once towards the ground at their feet. The group began chattering away in a language that Zara didn't understand, but they did as she said and took a step away from the beast. All at once, the trio turned their back and ran. Zara was off like deadly silver-haired bullet. She wasn't going to kill them, but she sure as hell wasn't going to let them get away. She caught up with a younger man who'd collided with a large spider's web. He stood, wiggling in the sticky web. The thief stopped her pursuit, arms crossed over her chest. A disgustingly massive spider lingered further up the web. The man, stuck in the web, screamed. "Not so strong now, are you?" She took her time in dancing over to the man...enough time to make him sweat over the spider.

While Zara was dealing with the younger of the hunters, Marcus pressed deeper into the jungle in pursuit of the two who were attempting to get away. He had spent many weeks over the course of his life exploring the islands, learning their intricacies, whereas the men he pursued were relatively inexperienced and soon became lost. As he chased them towards an impending cliff face. There was a sudden scream as one of the hunters emerged from the clearing only to end up at the edge of the cliff. The man lost his footing, falling down the rocky escarpment, bouncing off the cliff face, and impacting the rocks and ocean below, dead before he even hit the ground. The remaining hunter, fearing for his life, and unsure of where to go, quickly surrendered to Marcus as a prison sentence was preferable to death on the island. Marcus slowly led the man through the jungle until they arrived near Zara and the other hunter, who was being tormented by the spider. "Shall we leave him or take him in?" he asked her, before knocking his captive in the small of his back with the barrel of his rifle.

The hunters were getting what they deserved. Nature was striking back in the best of ways. The silver-haired girl made no efforts to save the hunter. She was happy to watch him squirm. There was a scream in a distance, one that didn't belong to her hubby, so it didn't worry her. She knew he'd capture the men he'd gone after. He proved such when he returned with one in hand. It seemed the other had landed himself in a like situation. "Ummm..." Zara pretended to think. She tapped her fingers on her chin. The spider was now dangerously close. "One more minute. Let's make sure he learns a lesson." The spider's furry legs were almost touching with the man when she finally stepped in. "Oookkayyy. I *guess* we'll take him." She let out an exaggerated sigh. "What happened to the other guy? Did a spider eat him?"

Together, they freed the man from the web before he could be slowly consumed. It took a joint effort between the two to reach the Nerf Herder. Lucky for them, Marcus had a place to store bounty, which is exactly where the poachers were left. It kinda felt good to bust the group for what they had done. Before taking off, Zara scanned the area for any other life forms. She wanted to be sure that they weren't leaving another group of poachers to do their dirty work. She plopped down in the copilot's chair, quietly coming to the realization that they were going back to Leilani, the place where her father-in-law was dying. Zara reached across the seat, grasping her husband's hand. "Since we're in Leilani..." She smiled brightly, "...Can we go to that super yummy ice cream place you took me to?" That craving had gone unchecked for way too long. They had purple potato ice cream there...did it really get any better? She squeezed his hand, allowing him to take them to their destination. The vacation had been short, but accomplished so much in Zara's mind. She was glowing again, smiling as bright as the sun.

With the two hunters in the cells aboard the Nerf Herder, Marcus retrieved the freshly killed thranta. Rather than allow it to go to waste, he planned to bring the meat to Leiliani to donate to the refugee camp. He was strapping himself into the cockpit when Zara brought up the ice cream, and he laughed slightly before smiling at her. "Of course we can," he told her, as he reached across to place a hand on her, patting her gently. He realized as she went further into her pregnant the number of cravings and their potential for bizarre items would increase exponentially. His hands moved over the controls, lifting the G1-A starfighter off the sandy beach, and sending them across the sea to the main continent where the city of Leiliani lay.

It was unfortunate that they could do nothing for the thranta. It would become a good meal... So, that was the silver lining that came with the unfortunate circumstance. Zara was plotting and scheming for more than just ice cream. She wanted to make sure things like that didn't happen on Delaya anymore. Once the ice melted in the northern parts, life would increase all over the planet. Some of those animals would need protection. She felt the need to take those creatures under her wing. As they took off, Zara's smile spread across her own face. It seemed like she'd found a new way to utilize herself...a way that didn't involve constantly putting herself in danger.

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