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Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:2:21) in the Essesia system: Retributor.
Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, Commander Sierra Rodney, and Major Arden Zevrin.

Major Arden Zevrin found herself in her officer aboard the Executor-class Star Dreadnaught. The news that Grand Moff Rodney and his adjutant, Commander Sierra Dakkar, had come as a surprise to her. However, what left her mystified was the fact that Commander Dakkar had returned a married woman, and was now to be referred to as Commander *Rodney*. She had tasked the beautiful young teenage Alderaanian to distract the man and keep him away from her affairs ... not to *marry* the man. As she sat there, with her eyes dancing between the different monitors that kept tabs on officials throughout the Ringali Shell and aboard the command ship, she considered how best to speak to the naive teen. Had she not married him, she might have simply disintegrated her, but now that he had taken her as his wife things had become *complicated*. She detested complications. Almost as much as she detested these bran muffins that Lieutenant Sheppard's mother had sent in the latest care package. Blech.

Well, bran muffins are a damn sickening concept. When labeling something with the word 'muffin', happiness and deliciousness is typically associated with it. Why, Sierra Rodney had gorged herself on delicious star fruit muffins just that morning. All it took was one uncomfortable night in her old bed for arrangements to be quickly made for her to live with Claudius. Everything changed as she was swept under his rug, where Arden eyes couldn't reach least, that was what she assumed. Sierra was ready to face the woman she hated so much. She had been reluctant at first. It was nice to play the ignorance game while living out the joys of being a newlywed. She knew in order to protect Claudius, she was going to need to step up against Arden... Yeah, those star fruit muffins *did* make a nice last meal.

And so, Commander Rodney did not wait around to be summoned. She launched an offensive attack against the woman. Shortly after settling into her desk, she left her husband's side to meet with her enemy. Their enemy. Upon reaching Arden's office, she burst into the office. Physically, Sierra had changed. Her posture had improved greatly. Her head was held up high, instead of appearing to sink into herself like a pathetic excuse for a woman. She was also armed, those her blaster was concealed inside of her clothing. She realized that protecting Claudius meant protecting herself too. What would he do if he lost her?

When Sierra arrived, a flash of color rushed to Arden's cheeks, and a wide smile curled upon her supple lips. "Sierra!" she exclaimed, as she rose from the desk, and swiftly moved towards the teenage Commander. "It is so good to see you back. I have missed you *so* much," she said, with exceptional politeness, as she offered a kiss to each of her cheeks. With the pleasantries complete, she began to lead her back towards her desk where a stack of datapads lay. She stood in front of her desk and began searching through them in a near panicked state of frenzy. "I can't seem to find it anywhere, Sierra," she said, as she looked at each one, and then carelessly tossed them over her shoulder, cracking their screens, and causing sparks to flame. "Something awful has happened, my dear," she said, as she turned to her, offering a dejected frown. She took a couple of steps back, until her butt was against the front of the desk. She placed her hands down on top and scooted herself up onto it, allowing her legs to dangle. "I must have misplaced my invitation to your wedding. You did notify me, didn't you? You did invite me, didn't you?" she asked, her eyes widening, as she bit suggestively at her lower lip. Surely she would not have done such a thing without consulting her, and requesting her approval. Surely not.

Sierra was firing on all cylinders. Like a snake, she lied in wait for the perfect moment to strike. The woman's bad act didn't fool her. There was no love between the Major and the Grand Moff's wife. She offered no pleasantries to the woman. Instead, she seated herself before Arden's desk where all of the datapads were cluttered up. It was beginning to look worse than Claudius' desk in here! From the way Arden desperately searched, Sierra could only wonder what she was looking for. Maybe a way to get under her skin? Electronics snapped and smoked on the ground during the woman's search. As soon as she mentioned Sierra's wedding, the rage inside of her grew. That was a holy event. It was one of the greatest moments of her life. Oddly enough, all of the best moments had happened within those ten days away from the dreadnaught. "No." Sierra began coolly. "My wedding only included family." Obviously, Arden would *never* belong in her family.

Her hands folded in front of her lap casually. "Enough with this act. I know you're furious. You told me to seduce the man. I fell in love with him and married him." And more, though she had was oblivious to the child in her womb. "I'm not going to do your bidding." Up to her booted feet she went. "I'm not going to let you control me, or hurt him through me."

Arden gasped suddenly at Sierra's comment and clutched at her heart dramatically. She fell back on the desk, so that she were laying upon it, with her eyes staring at the ceiling of the room. "You wound me, Sierra. *Of course* I am like family to you," she said, before sniffing repeatedly, and bringing a hand up to dab at her eyes. She continued to lay there as she listened to Sierra dramatic protests and vows to escape her control. Arden's reaction was not entirely unexpected ... she burst into uproarious laughter. Without sitting up she clapped her hands together thrice and the room darkened, and several of the monitors behind her illuminated. One video showed Arden ordering then Vice Admiral Rodney to bring his family to the Ringali Shell. Another showed Arden interrogating Htaere and causing the miscarriage of Claudius' child. The next showed Claudius' confrontation with Arden following Jelena's defection. The next showed Arden clutching Jelena, with a bomb in her chest, in front of Claudius and his entire staff. But the final video was particularly heartbreaking ... it was Sierra agreeing to do Arden's bidding. "Tell me. After all I have done to him ... after all I continue to do to him ... do you think there is anything ... *anything* ... you can tell him to make him trust you?" she asked, before slowly, and dramatically, rising from the desk to face her again. "Even if you tell him you had a change of heart, fell in love with him, blah, blah, blah, blah ... it all started with *me*. *Me!*" she said, with a wink, as she allowed her tongue to slither over her lips like the snake that she was.

Sierra's eyes rolled at Arden's dramatic theatrics. Her hate for the woman never seemed to stop growing. She'd be lying if she said she didn't want to kill her. If she thought she could do it and walk out of here alive, then she would have. The monitors instantly began displaying pieces of the hell she had put Claudius through. She watched them, one by one, cringing at the video featuring herself. The evidence was all there on video. Arden had proved herself to be a villainous creature repeatedly. By association, Sierra looked bad. Internally, Arden had shaken her. The question she posed was a good one. Like it or not, she had been behind a major change in his life. Still, she knew she couldn't live with this hanging over her forever. The end game scenario had changed when she decided to marry him, though she hadn't been thinking about Arden when the Grand Moff proposed to her. She remained standing, breathing fire and spewing smoke from her nostrils. Seeing her tongue slither over her lips caused a sudden reaction that even Sierra wasn't ready for. A millisecond later, her right hand rose. She didn't slap Arden. Instead, her fingers curled into a tight fist and she *punched* that woman in the cheek with all of her weight behind it. Arden was crafted just the same way as her mother. Hitting her was like hitting the ghost from her past that had been obliterated in the destruction of Alderaan. The young woman wasn't done. She was puffed up and red-faced. "I will not let you destroy what I've built with him. So tell him. *Tell him!*" She yelled, stepping into personal space bubbles over and over again. "It started with you and it will end with *you*! So*tell him*!" She screamed.

The punch was completely unexpected, and send Arden reeling back down to the desk. She brought her hand up to her cheek almost immediately, and she could feel the wetness associated with blood. Her cheek began to swell and grow discolored beneath her hand, which caused her to become furious. She moved her jaw from side to side as she readjusted her face, and then quickly sat up from the desk. She tilted her head, still covering her wound, and she glared at the woman with heated intensity. She kept her face directly in front of Sierra's for some time, before she broke off from the staring contest and moved back to her chair. "Get out of my office," she said, as she brought up a small lighted vanity mirror to examine her face. "Get off of my ship, and take your *husband* with you. Get back to Delaya and stay there. Live in peace. Or my next report to the Emperor will not be as kind, and you will be a widow," she said, before reaching down and grabbing hold of one of the bran muffins. She hurled at Sierra with all of the intensity she could muster. It was harder than any rock in the known galaxy.

It felt good to get one hit on Arden. There was something triumphant in the way the blood appeared on her face. Sierra felt like she had gained some sort of an upper hand. She stared at that woman like she thought her eyes might turn to daggers and stab her! The young Rodney was on fire today. She didn't break eye contact until Arden did first. Only then she did she begin putting space between them. She didn't immediately leave Arden's office. She stayed long enough to hear the woman's threats (and to be worried by them). Without another word, she turned her back on the Major and began walking out of her office. Something unusually hard pegged her in the middle of the back. "What the hell..?" She mumbled, looking back at the ground where she saw something that looked distinctly muffin-like. What was that thing made out of?! It actually hurt! It didn't slow her departure down. She left Arden's office and began trailing her way back to her own office. She was massively conflicted. Where was the best place for Claudius to be? Here, where Arden could toy with him or sign his death away? Delaya, where he would become Duke and still have a target on his back? Or somewhere far, far away where they could retire and attempt to be happy. She sighed.

Internal conflict had blown up by the time she returned to their shared office. She found his desk, thankfully, empty. Her head was killing her. Sierra plopped herself at her desk, kicked off her boots, and snatched up her favored violin that made any stresser easier to combat. She sat back and began to play. Her eyes closed and her mind opened wider. Her violin cried sadly, just as sadly as the violinist might. As much as she loved much as she wanted to believe he would trust her over wasn't going to happen. Glancing down at a picture of them huddled together for their wedding, the only picture on her desk, she had to come to grasp with the truth. Someday, she was going to lose Claudius. By associating herself with Arden, she had already ripped his heart out. She closed her eyes again. She could nearly feel the presence of her husband.

Claudius Rodney was sitting in his office looking over the day's affairs, doing his best to catch himself up with everyone that occurred while they were on Delaya. She had him remove the Alderaan ruge from his workplace, which he did so reluctantly, but he found himself getting much more done than on previous occasions. He read about the swiftness of the Inquisitor's strikes on Esseles on Brentaal, which went against his implied instructions not to be heavy handed with the locals. As he reviewed the footage of her attack on Trade Hall he was absolutely flabbergasted that the Emperor had applauded *that*. He could only assume that because of the unimportance of the oversector only the barest of facts had crossed the Emperor's desk. As the day draw on he came to miss Sierra more and more. Her absence, even for a short while, was felt, and weakened him. His mood was all the more dour given the knowledge she had gone to see his archnemesis, Arden Zevrin. He would not feel safe and secure until his wife was returned to him unharmed. The ISB had been an unwanted thorn in his side since he assumed command.

Time had dragged inside of Arden's office. Sierra hadn't left as the top dog. Arden would always have a certain amount of power over her. She did feel *small* and lost. It was the second time as of late where she had thought about sweeping every part of her life that she cared for into a ship and disappearing forever. Not to Delaya, or Esseles, but to somewhere entirely different. The galaxy was a vast place after all. As the adrenaline rush wore off of her, she began to feel tired. Believe it or not, she depended on him too. Sierra functioned better when she was close to her husband. If nothing else, he had put a shield between her and her past. Her mind seemed sharper. A more aggressive nature had begun to rise inside of her. She appeared in their office with Arden Zervin's blood on her knuckles and a thoughtful expression on her face. Her baby blues met with her husband. Seeing him instantly caused her mood to elevate. He was there and *safe* ... for now. She could feel pain in her chest. Had she doomed them both by marrying him? He didn't regret it now...but someday, somehow, he would. "Hi honey..." She even sounded tired.

"Sierra!" Claudius cried out with youthful excitement, as he carelessly cast away the datapad he was studying, and surged towards his wife. He was so concentrated on her face he did not notice her bloody knuckled, and thus he moved to to wrap his arms around her tightly. His face descended upon hers, plating that first, passionate kiss upon her lips. "I missed you. How did it go?" he asked, as the kiss broke, almost afraid of the answer. His brown eyes locked on her blues and he did his best to give her a reassuring smile. He did not understand why the Empire even had an ISB. He saw no purpose for them. "Come. Sit down. Tell me everything," he said, as he led her towards the seating area in the front of his office. The small, intimate area was well decorated with plush chairs and a small table with only water to drink. As he helped her sit down, he sat across from her, so pleased to have her back.

Reunited and it feels so good. Sierra's mood began to arc back up to a happier spectrum, thus reminding her how horrible it was to manipulate her husband, even on the smallest level. While they kissed, her damaged self esteem was reminded of how much they loved each other. It was nice to pretend that he would believe her over Arden and her videos. "I missed you," she repeated. Where did she even start? "Oh, you know, crummy. I can't say Arden makes for good company." She offered him a small smile. She knew he worried while she was away. Arden had caused so much damage to him. The woman was pure evil. Defeated, Sierra followed him towards the seating area; the very same place where everything began. She perched herself on the couch. She sat so close to him that her knees brushed against his. "I punched her..." The blonde looked down at her hand, realizing then that her knuckles were stained with the blood of her enemy. She tried to wipe it off on her pants before he noticed it. Her other hand touched with her forehead. "She started talking about our wedding. I saw red... Argh! I hate that woman! She's a goddamn psychopath." She was letting herself get angry again. Taking a deep breath, she attempted to keep herself from running back to Arden's office and attempting to knock her out.

"You punched her?" Claudius exclaimed, unable to believe the audacity of his teenage bride. When he saw the blood on her hands as she not too subtly tried to wipe it off he panicked, wondering just whose blood it was. "Are you ... are you alright?" he nervously asked, as he watched over her intently. "We all hate her. I don't think anyone actually likes her," he said, as he rose from the chair, and began to move towards her to examine her hand directly. "How did she react to this?" he asked her, fully aware of Arden's temper and penchant for revenge. He took her hand into his and began to gently rub the knuckles that had delivered the blow to Arden. Oh, how he had wished he had done so in the past, but despite her crimes against him he could not strike a woman. He took great satisfaction in watching his former adjutant, Major Kiley, throw Arden into her bank of terminals and electrocute her, but it seemed to have only made matters worse in the long run. He reached for the pitcher of ice water and dipped a napkin into it, bringing it back to brush at her hand with the cold, wet napkin to remove the blood and sooth any potential swelling. He knew, even know, that Zevrin was watching. She was *always* watching.

"It wasn't exactly planned..." Her head rolled. Away from the miasma of anger, Sierra still found it hard to take back her punch. With Arden's hand lightly holding her, she knew the woman would squeeze eventually in the likeness to a vulture with its prey between its claws. "I'm okay, don't worry about me. She threw a rock or something at my backside while I left, but real physical retribution. It's okay." She tried to soothe him all the while worrying herself more. Her eyes avoided his. Instead, she watched the way his hand touched her own. Beneath the blood, her knuckles were fine. How did she react? Bad. Arden didn't need to get physical to get a hit in. "Furious, obviously. I worry about what hell I've cast upon our family... I'm sorry, Claudius. She's the only one who can make me lose my composure so easily. When I'm with her, it's like being with my mother all over again. I hated her before we even said a word to each other." She finally let her head rise. Her hand tensed in his for a moment when he began working the blood off of her knuckles. This was the man she had married, a man who was too damn good for her. Be it intentional or not, she began to feel better with him. Her other hand dropped to his knee where she idly rubbed him. "She threatened you. She wants us to leave. To go back to Delaya." Sierra confided in him. "When I'm with you, I'm sure we should stay here. With her...I feel like we're threatened. My flight or fight response says to fly away and never return because there is *no* beating her." She looked to her husband for advice.

Claudius listened patiently as Sierra spoke about her opinion of Arden, which is one he shared, only she did not cause him to react as violently. Her fire of youth had stirred an uncontrollable passion that had spilled out onto Zevrin and perhaps endangered them all. "You have nothing to be sorry for, my dear," he said, as his hand finished with hers and instead moved towards rubbing the side of her face lovingly. "We must not leave. We cannot give her what she wants ... *ever*," he explained to her, confidently, although he certainly would have liked to turn tail and run towards home on Delaya. "We will endure as we have endured. She cannot maintain her station forever. She lost it before. She *will* lose it again. The higher one soars, the greater they will fall," he vowed to her, before placing his lips against her cheek in a soft kiss. "I should mention that I received a message from Marcus. He and his wife will be coming to consult with Doctor Tohan about their pregnancy. We'll soon have guests," he said to her, trying to change the subject to something more pleasant. While he was concerned about Zevrin and the ISB, he decided it was best to maintain business as normal to both spite her and not give her the satisfaction of controlling them.

It was nice to get it out. Simply saying the words and having him listen was helpful. She needed to get all the vile, venom out of her body before she turned as evil as *that* woman. Sierra inched closer to him. His touch was so loving and inviting. He instilled the same kind of infectious confidence that had gotten her in trouble back inside of her. Like lighting a lantern, Sierra began to brighten up. If they ever had to leave...if the necessity arose...then they would do what they had to do to survive. The idea of Arden losing her post was pleasant. It made her seem less invincible. "My Claudius, I'd be nothing without you," she told him truthfully. She turned her head to quickly steal a kiss of her own. Internally, she felt right again. She had to build a shield between herself and Arden so that meeting with her didn't cause a bomb to detonate in her chest.

The news of Marcus and Zara was a nice change of subject. She perked up more. "That's great news! We'll be seeing more of them if they intend to continue seeing Doctor Tohan. I'll see to it that they have somewhere comfortable to rest should they need it." She had no idea that Zara intended to meet with her about her capture. Sierra's mind churned back to the moment in the medcenter when she saw the ultrasound of the twins. It was probably the moment that awoke her maternal clock. Damn Zara! On the loveseat, Sierra snuggled into her husband's side. "I hope we can sneak away when the twins are born. They were kinda cute... You know, in the weird ultrasound graphics way." She smiled. Subject change...check!

"Children *are* wonderful," Claudius stated, agreeing with her, as he enjoyed the snuggling on his office's loveseat. "I'm sure we can. The House of Rodney seems to grow larger each day," he said to her, as he tightened his arm around her. "I'm sure my father would be very happy if *we* could add to that tally," he joked, as he smiled at her, while playfully stroking her hair. "I have been thinking as of late about our niece ... and her tea parties," he shared with her, as the color began to leave his face, and he frowned slightly. "It is sad to think of her in the hands of those Rebels," he lamented, ruefully, as he tried to find something positive to cling to. "D-do you want children?" he asked her, nervously, breaking eye contact, and instead focusing on the bottle of water on the table, whose contents were still moving from his earlier disturbing it.

Looking back on her life, she had such little experience with children. She supposed Ewwiekewwiekkie was the closest she'd gotten. Her child-like state of mind was enjoyable. Even when shopping trips went terribly wrong, Sierra didn't stop enjoying the presence of the squib. She giggled softly at his joke, though it succeeded in getting the wheels in her mind turning. Callista had been a pleasure. Sierra had frequently seen her bouncing around the castle. She could make *everyone* smile. "I miss her too." As did Ewwiekewwiekkie. She squeezed him. "If you'd like, we can put effort into tracking her down. There can't be many children traveling with the Rebels." She wanted to see those Rebel bastards again...if only to retrieve Callista and give her a better life. It would be nice to hang Mug and Iyah by their toes for causing severe damage to her and Gaius. Would the Emperor show the child mercy when the Rebellion was finally crushed? The next question wasn't awkward, but natural. They were married now, after all. Frankly, she was happy he broached the topic. As an older man with grown children, she wasn't sure if *he* wanted to procreate with her. "I do," she answered simply in a pleasant voice. "I wasn't sure until I saw Zara's ultrasound, then I was entirely *too* sure." She felt a little nervous. "I mean, it's up to you, as I wouldn't be having anyone else's children." If he didn't want children, then she needed to go see Doctor Tohan as soon as possible. There was a lump in her throat. Gez. Why was she so nervous?!

"We should track them down regardless. They were responsible for the bombing at my daughter's funeral, and potentially the attempt on my father's life," Claudius said angrily, as he remembered Gaius' warnings about the dastardly couple. "Well, I'm sure given my genetic history in time I will bless you with a daughter," he said to her, as he moved his face forward to place yet another kiss upon her. "I should have myself genetically tested to see why only daughters spring forth from my loins," he said to her, laughing slightly, but not that he regretted either of his two daughters. "I want more children, Sierra. I really do," he said to her, before he shifted slightly until he was upon her. He looked down at her lovingly, feeling so blessed that this wonderful woman had come into his life at this particular junction. "You have saved me," he said to her, before lowering his face and placing a kiss upon her. He bit at her lip, brushing his tongue against hers, before penetrating deep into her mouth. The intensity between them was hot. Hotter than it had ever been with either his previous wives. He never would have considered a midday encounter in his office before and now here he was acting like a fresh cadet in heat.

Given the whirlwind of events, tracking Mug and Iyah had not been something she'd looked into much...not that it had lost any value with her. She hated them for what they had done, and that they were suspected of doing. Their conversation had turned the tides. Sierra had returned to the office feeling angry, sad, and confused. Claudius promptly swept away the dark clouds blinding her and reminded her of what mattered. He helped her focus on the future. She happily kissed him back. Her small hands planted on either side of his face. Sierra laughed, "Maybe we'll win the genetic lottery together, or else we'll end up to our knees in daughters." She was really happy that he wanted to have a family with her. Motherhood was something that had swept her up very suddenly, but she was completely sure about it. She was sure that the arrival of the twins would solidify this feeling.

It had become a lot hotter in the office. The atmosphere was so different from normal. Sierra recognized it for what it was. The talk and the closeness caused her body to naturally react. As soon as he was upon her, saying the sweetest words she'd ever heard, their lips locked. Her body shivered beneath his. This was so taboo! Sierra was normally such a modest young woman. Right now, nothing sounded as pleasant as being taken on the little love seat. Her tongue was busily engaging in a passionate dance while her hips started to nuzzle against his. "I love you so much," she gasped into their kiss. The heat was rising. Her needy fingers gripped at his tunic. If they were going to do this, they were going all in! She started to undress him in between kissing and intimately touching him. Eventually, their clothing was but a heap on the floor. Her legs were crisscrossed behind his back. "Let's do it, Claudius. Let's make a baby." She whispered into his ear. The world needed to see an offspring of Claudius and Sierra.

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