At moments like this, Claudius Rodney wished he had
his tea house, but Sierra's aide had yet to deliver.
With Callista, Ewwiekewwieikkie, and Melickielickie on
the ground floor with the bantha watching Rainbow Rancor
and Drusilla on the second floor with Bruce, Sia, *and*
Darrus there was nowhere else to go but the third floor
observatory. His special place that the children were
not supposed to violate, and only he and Sierra had the
ability to enter. If the brothers came to blows here it
would likely wreck his antique telescope, which he could
no longer afford to repair or replace on just a Grand
Moff's salary. They needed to find out how
Ewwiekewwieikkie had heard from her ancestor about
Sierra's ancestor and what it all meant.
Ewwiekewwieikkie's words had repeated in Sierra
Rodney's mind all the way home. All Zara said was that
she'd explain everything when they reached the estate.
Sierra knew a fair share of House of Dakkar knowledge.
She had never known anyone to kill a King. She felt
tired as she made it up three flights of stairs to find
some sense of solitude and quiet in the observatory.
This was her and Claudius' holy place within the estate.
She didn't know what words were about to come out of
Zara's mouth. What she did know was the accusation
raised her hackles. As she settled down beside Claudius,
she felt relieved that Alessandra and Pilaq were in the
garden: comfortably close. If Marcus decided to stab his
brother in the back again, at least they would be there
to help clean up the mess. It seemed the adrenaline from
Claudius' win had run out far too quickly. "What was
Ewwiekewwieikkie talking about?" She asked.
How did one tell their sister-in-law that, far back
in her family's history, there was a kingslayer? There
certainly wasn't a Hallmark card for that. Zara wasn't
given a chance to decide how she would bring up the
hologram, for her niece had spilled the beans too early.
Now, Zara was seated in the observatory using Marcus as
a human shield. "Um. Um." She began nervously. "Um..."
She shrunk smaller and smaller. "You tell them!" She
said, prodding Marcus with her fingers.
"Me?" Duke Marcus Rodney squealed, when he was
prodded by his wife. He was just glad it was
Ewwiekewwieikkie that spilled the beans and not him.
"Well, uh, we've been exploring the castle," he
explained, or at least tried to, as he suddenly felt as
if he was being interrogated. "We found an image of
Duchess Raeni with Lord Romulus and Lady Desdemona," he
explained, beating around the bush. "And then of course
we found the nanny droid, and she has been dropping
hints, but when Ewwiekewwieikkie knocked the droid over
we received a holographic transmission from the past,"
he said, as he began shifting uncomfortably in his skin.
"Duchess Raeni claimed that Count Sierrus Dakkar killed
the King of Alderaan..." he informed her, finding it a
bit difficult to tell her.
Sierra crossed her legs uncomfortably. After the
panic attack, she felt concerned that Marcus had found
some noteworthy dirt on the Dakkars and was bringing it
into the light. She already felt embarrassed for her
family. Claudius had the *pleasure* of meeting Rikka
enough times to understand what kind of life she had
come from. She was aware of who Duchess Raeni was. She
had listened to Livia's drunk stories religiously. They
*did* seem fabricated, but they were fabricated legends.
"What?..." She knew she was named after Sierrus Dakkar,
a *kingslayer*. She wondered if Rikka had known that
when she selected the name. Even her namesake was a
silent curse her mother had placed on her. She felt like
the wind had been knocked out of her. It wasn't Claudius
who was going to have a panic attack this time, it was
*her*. She pressed her forehead into his arm. "It... It
isn't surprising. My family's history is unfortunately
ugly. It makes sense why the Dakkars never successfully
took the throne on Alderaan."
Claudius turned his attention to his wife, wrapping
his arms around her, and drawing her against him. "That
was centuries ago. There isn't even an Alderaan anymore.
None of this matters," he told her, while instead he was
focused on simply keeping his wife comforted. He was
disappointed that Marcus and Zara had run of the castle
and were learning parts of the family history that he
knew nothing about. "You never had any interest in the
family history," he said to Marcus, sending over the
first shot, as he still was suffering from linger sorrow
over what had happened with Jelena. "Did the droid have
any more information?" he pressed, before looking
towards Sierra. He wondered if the ISB had equipment
that could recover the data.
"He's right, Sierra," Marcus said, not wanting any of
this news to make her upset or anxious. He wrapped his
arms around Zara, as he suddenly regretted that they had
ever found the droid. "We should go," he said to her,
having accomplished the dual goals of returning the
Squibs and informing them about Sierrus Dakkar. He could
tell he and his brother were still not on perfect terms.
"Oh," he began, as he started to lead Zara away. "I am
going to revive the tradition of taking our children to
Germanicus and Raeni's lake for a blessing. Would you
want to bring Bruce?" he asked, as he extended an olive
branch to his brother.
Sierra didn't like seeing her extra baggage piling
up. She also didn't want Marcus and Zara to dig around
in her family's dirty laundry. There was no knowing what
they would discover about the Dakkars. She was much,
*much* more interested in learning about Claudius' side
of the family than her own. She sighed. Claudius was
right. None of this mattered anymore.
Zara frowned. It seemed, for a second time, they had
upset Claudius' family. She didn't object to leaving.
Instead, she rose and mouthed ‘Sorry' to Sierra. "I
haven't been able to get any more information out of the
droid. She took care of Raeni and Germanicus' children,
but she was also hidden in the castle and turned off for
hundreds of years. I don't know how much I can get
back." Zara told him. She couldn't wait to return home
to Delaya and hide in the chalet with their sea monster.
She perked up when her husband extended the olive
branch. "It would be really cool if Bruce could be there
too. When our new children arrive, we can do it again
The relationship between the two brothers had been
battered and broken lately. Sierra didn't want to see it
go to waste. She decided to grasp the olive branch.
"Y-Yes. We would want to bring him." She looked up at
Claudius to make sure he was okay with her decision.
"There is one thing you should know," Marcus said, as
he paused and looked to them. "There is a sea monster
that dwells within the lake. It has caused a lot of
problems, but it has never hurt us," he explained, as he
remembered the first time he went out onto the frozen
lake and was attacked by the sea monster. Since then it
had attacked Sierra's ship, Petrus, their herd of
tauntauns and, unbeknownst to them, killed two Alderaan
Guards sent to protect them and spy on them. "We'll take
precautions, but with all the miscommunication
lately..." he began, only to stop himself and cringe.
"...I wanted to be sure I told you everything upfront,"
he said, as he squeezed his wife's hand. Despite the
potential hazard he could not bring himself to rid the
lake of the sea monster.
Claudius remembered his father talking to him about
that lake. He and Marcus had been taken there as
infants, but as they were the last two males to be born
for decades he had almost forgotten it. "Yes. We will
attend," he said, confirming Sierra's statement. The
news of the sea monster gave him pause, but he figured
that Marcus had the situation well in hand. He wanted
another excuse to return to Delaya on happier terms,
rather than hiding in bounty hunter armor.
The sea monster. Sierra remembered it. She hardly
would consider it to be harmless, as the beast had
nearly taken her ship to the bottom of the lake. She
wasn't entirely comfortable with taking her young son so
close to the monster, but, if there was one thing to be
said about Bruce, it was that he had a way with animals.
"Please let us know when the blessing will be. We won't
miss it." She looked up at Claudius. It was the perfect
excuse to take him back home. She watched Zara and
Marcus begin to make their exit, Sierra stood up and
approached them. "While you're diving into the family's
history, if you find something about..." She lowered her
voice, "*force sensitive* people, tell me
*immediately*." Sierra was so hungry to understand what
Bruce was. Before her eyes, she had seen her son begin
to demonstrate his power. It worried her.
Marcus looked from Sierra to Claudius and finally
back to Sierra after she mentioned the force. "Hmm. I
don't remember our parents ever mentioning a Rodney who
was a Jedi, and it seems like that's something they
would have bragged about," he considered, as he checked
his memory to confirm what he just said. He wanted to
ask 'why', but his old career as a bounty hunter often
instilled in him it was better to never ask that
question. Sometimes it was better not to know. "Zara is
going to try and get more information from the droid,
but there's always a chance we could damage it trying,"
he cautioned them, as he nodded his head again. His hand
moved to Zara again, giving her a squeeze. Things were
complicated here then he was led to believe.
It did seem like something Livia and Julius would
have bragged about. Sierra was going to have to accept
that Bruce's powers had not come because of genetics.
There was no rhyme or reason to why their son was
different. "Yes... It is probably a stab in the dark.."
She stepped back. "See what you learn. We'd like to be
kept in the loop." Sierra wanted as few people to know
about Bruce as possible for his safety. If that
information leaked, the small boy's enemies would
increase rapidly. She returned back to Claudius, looking
up at him. She *had* to tell him about what happened in
Zara thought her sister's request to be weird. She
assumed that the family would know if something like
that existed. "Yeah.. Nana is a very old droid. It's
hard to repair her, let alone try to access some of her
old memories. I can't promise anything. I'll try..."
Zara offered a nervous smile to Sierra, Claudius, and
Marcus. She had always been better with ships than
droids. She wondered why her sister had asked such a
weird question. There was more going on here. "We're
gonna collect the twins and go back home." She told
them. "So.. If you guys need anything, let us know."
Zara looked at Claudius. "If I go home and there's
HoloNet news about you sky diving or doing anything
crazy, you're in trouble!" Hmph!
"Sky diving ... I hadn't considered that!" Claudius
said, acting excited, but really it was just an act and
he quickly calmed down. "Thank you for looking after
Ewwiekewwieikkie and Melickielickie," he said, to be
polite, as he began leading them away from his
telescope. It had survived the family reunion. As they
descended to the second floor where Drusilla was running
a daycare, and onto the ground floor where the girls
were, he noticed he did not hear the Rainbow Rancor.
"Something is wrong," he said, as he moved quickly
towards the living room. He spied the girls sitting
around the nanny droid who was playing another hologram.
Downstairs, another incident had resulted in a new
hologram. Duchess Raeni Rodney was not alone in this
hologram. There were nerf calves which walked in front
of the recording device occasionally. She was outside. A
breeze blew her blonde hair into her face. Though she
was seated, she was noticeably pregnant. The videos
clearly weren't playing in any sort of chronological
order. "Claudius," she started with a smile on her face.
"Today's lesson is about animals. Nature has played a
large part in the success of your father and I." She
said, reaching over to pet a young nerf. "You shall not
fear the beast of the sea. He has protected our family
since before you were born." Raeni rose. She began to
walk towards a large lake. She reached a hand out over
the water. For all to see, a tentacle came out from the
water and touched with her hand. "If you do not respect
nature, then nature will tear you apart." She explained.
"Hmm. Hmm," Ewwiekewwieikkie listened to her
ancestor, before turning around to look at her father.
To her there was only one 'Claudius' so when the
hologram started talking to 'Claudius' she assumed it
was talking to him. "Daddy is the lady talking to you?"
she asked, before suddenly a tentacle appeared in the
hologam. "Oooh. 'citing!" she said, as she began
bouncing up and down. She took a spoon and dumped it
into Sierra's pudding and began eating it, before
passing it over to Melickielickie and Callista. She did
not respect the concept of people's food, as she assumed
everything brought into the house was hers to eat.
Claudius watched the hologram of his ancestor, the
most legendary woman in Delaya's history. Somehow the
girls had triggered another message from the past and he
wanted to listen to every word of it. He reached out and
grasped Sierra's hand, squeezing it tight. "Even back
then there was a creature in that lake it would seem,"
he said to everyone, unable to fathom that it was the
very same one that still lurked beneath the now frozen
over lake. "No, honey. She's talking about your
ancestor, the second Duke of Del-" he started, but
quickly stopped himself when he noticed she was focused
entirely on the pudding and no longer listening.
Melickielickie was only a quarter paying attention to
the droid. She was seated on the floor, feet in front of
her, with her arms stretched forward. It looked like she
was gripping and invisible steering wheel. "Vvvrrooooom!
Vrrrrooommm!" Melickielickie had been inspired by the
race. She had put on her father's goggles backwards. "Oooh!
Close one!" She said, wiping her forehead dramatically.
"Oh! Oh!" She opened her mouth wide to eat the pudding
before quickly passing it on to Callista. "Can't nom,
Callie. Busy driving!" She rose to her feet and
continued her game throughout the lower floor of the
estate. "Vvrrooooom. Faster! Faster!"
This was the first time Callista had seen the droid
play a hologram. She was glued to it. "Mhm..." She
mumbled, taking the pudding and spoon from
Melickielickie. When she brought the spoon up, she
missed her mouth and smeared chocolate pudding all over
her cheek. She looked behind her to her uncle. "She
should address you as the ambassador of Candyland."
Callista had come home on a high horse after her time
with the Squib king. She was proud of the bargains she
Sierra stopped to watch the video of Duchess Raeni
and an array of animals. It seemed that the love for
animals extended far back into the family's past. "It's
hard to believe the creature is that old." It was still
very powerful. Sierra found it interesting to watch
Duchess Raeni interact with the sea creature. She didn't
fear it. If anything, it appeared that the two had a
Raeni demonstrated her friendship with the beast. She
shook its tentacle, then released it. "Of all these
animals, it is the thranta that is most important to our
family. You must always protect their presence here on
Delaya. If the thranta goes extinct, our family goes
extinct." She leaned forward towards the recording
device, adjusting it until Germanicus was in view. "Do
it. Call a thranta!" She called out to him.
For the first time the droid was displaying an image
of Germanicus Rodney. To the members of the present day
House of Rodney observing they would see a man who
looked like the statues, but was of course much smaller.
He was lifelike, and as legends tend to be not at all
what they might expected. He was quiet, shy, and seemed
to grow uncomfortable when the holo focused its
attention on him. As instructed he closed his eyes and
reached out into the distance. The recording played the
sound of a thranta shrieking which then came into view,
landing beside Germanicus, and ready to accept a mount.
He said nothing, but simply climbed on top of the beast,
continuing to speak to it telepathically.
"That's Germanicus Rodney!" Claudius said, excitedly,
as he moved towards the trio of girls in the front row.
"Would you look at that?" he said to his wife, as he
briefly turned his head to look at her. He never thought
he would ever get to see a representation of him like
this, and he was grinning from ear to ear. "Girls how
did you get the droid to show you this?" he asked, but
they were in pudding heaven and captivated by the light
show with all the animals. He doubted he would get an
answer, and if he did it would probably not make sense.
It would take a while for any of them to piece together
that because these messages were meant for Germanicus
and Raeni's children it would be the presence of
children that triggered the nanny droid to play them.
Sierra felt like she should have been sitting down
when she saw Germanicus Rodney and what he did. He said
nothing. He did nothing...and the thranta came to him.
It was obedient and not wild in the slightest. It
brought back memories to Sierra, first of the dangerous
thranta ride they had taken together on the morn of
Jelena's funeral, then to the moment with Bruce and
Governor Arundel on the balcony in Delaya. She watched,
speechless, as the holo showed him flying on the thranta
with no reluctance from the animal. Her jaw was on the
floor. She'd need to collect herself before moving
Soon, Raeni stepped back into focus. She looked
pleased. "One day, your father will ride with you, my
son. Never forget; we love you." With that, the holo of
Raeni disappeared. It left an impact on Sierra, who was
so desperately searching for answers that she'd take
anything. "Did you see *that*?!"
"Aww. It's over!" Ewwiekewwieikkie said with a pout
as the show ended, before looking towards the blank
HoloNet transceiver. "I wanna go to the zoo now!" she
said, as she rose up to her feet, and looked to
Melickielickie and Callista. "C'mon. We're going to the
zoo to see animals," she said, before walking past
Claudius, Sierra, Marcus, and Zara. "Hmm," she said, as
she neared the front door. She had not considered
something, and walked back towards the adults. "Where
the zoo? How get there?" she asked, impatiently, before
tapping her foot to encourage them to answer faster.
"I did see that..." Claudius replied, as he focused
his attention on his wife once the hologram had stopped.
He looked towards her, with a pale complexion upon his
aged features. He looked as if he had just seen a ghost,
and in many ways he had. He swallowed anxiously as he
wrapped his arms around her, as he suddenly felt so much
of that Germanicus in Bruce. When Ewwiekewwieikkie
declared she was going to the zoo he realized the had a
more pressing issue. "I don't think now is the time, but
maybe later?" he suggested, which resulted in a series
of loud 'awws' from all considered.
"I wanna ride one." Callists said in awe. "He rode
one! I wanna ride one!" She crawled over to Ewwie.
"*That was so cool*!" She exclaimed, squeezing her best
friend. "I wanna go to the zoo! I wanna pet animals!"
All three girls were quickly on board with
Ewwiekewwieikkie's plans when Callista's uncle denied
them of zoo time. Callista was disappointed for roughly
three seconds. "Let's go play with the duckies!" She
said, rising to her feet and running towards the door.
"You're it, Ewwie! You're it!" She continued on outside.
The shrills of her laughter filled the silence that came
after the end of the recording.
The *last* place that Bruce needed to go was the zoo.
Sierra had dreams about a full-sized, not-so-cute Rancor
following them home. Ewwiekewwieikkie always wanted to
keep it and name it ‘Squishy'. She saw that Claudius had
been leveled by the information presented in the video.
As she embraced him, she did her best to guide him to
let her support them. The girls were already all running
outside to harass the ducks. It opened up the
opportunity for Claudius and Sierra to slip away. "Let's
go back to the observatory," Sierra suggested as she
began to guide him up far too many stairs to their
seclusion. When the door was closed behind them, she
spoke. "Bruce did something unusual in Drusilla's room.
He was reaching out for a dress. It was too far away
from him...no possible way of him reaching it. It
*moved* towards him. Drusilla saw it too. And then that
Everything seemed to be happening in a blur for
Claudius as he attempted to process what he had seen in
the hologram. He was sad that he had to veto the trip to
the zoo, but he would make it up to them ... perhaps
with a pool if he ever got his tea house that is. Before
he knew it his wife had him back in the observatory
where they could discuss everything without prying eyes.
"Bruce did what?!" he exclaimed, as he lowered his head
into his hand. In that moment he had the worst thought
he could ever have ... what if the Emperor was right? He
sighed, fearing what his son could become if he was not
properly trained. This time he had pulled a dress, but
what if he thought it was funny to push someone and they
got hurt, he continued to think as his mind went to
worse case scenarios. He could not simply ask Lord Vader
or Inquisitor Thrope on parenting advice ... this was
something he and his wife were going to have to stumble
through blindly. "The animals seemed to like them too,"
he said, as he looked at the ground through the gaps
between his fingers.
It had been such a simple action but it spoke so
loud. Sierra had been bottling up her fears and sadness
over Lord Vader's arrangement. She had done everything
she could to overlook it and appreciate every moment
that they had with Bruce. These developments made her
worry that he would be taken sooner. They also forced
her to look reality in the eye: Sierra and Claudius
couldn't train Bruce. Sooner or later, he'd be taken
away. She tired very, *very* hard to not break her calm
exterior. Claudius was involved in this in every way she
was, if not more. He didn't deserve to have to comfort
her ontop of processing the ordeal himself. Sierra
reached for the nearest piece of furniture to help
support herself while her heart was removed from her
chest repeatedly. She had internalized so badly since
that meeting with Lord Vader that she began to break and
cry. She brought her hand up to her face to attempt to
hide her tears from him.
There was nothing that Sierra could put in front of
her face to conceal her tears from her loving husband.
He moved towards her swiftly, wrapping both of his arms
around her, as if to squeeze the sadness from her like
squeezing juice from a starfruit. "I love you, and we
will figure this out together," he told her, as he
lowered his lips to her head and began to kiss her.
"Bruce will be okay," he promised her, although right
now he did not know how.
"Oh, Claudius..." She pressed herself against him as
closely as was allowed. Her arms locked around him like
durasteel doors. She unleashed her stresses in the form
of tears. There was no way that she could handle this
without him. Thankfully...he had survived the speeder
race and she didn't need to be concerned with that. "I
love you," she whispered, withdrawing her head to enable
him to kiss her and soothe her. "I feel overwhelmed by
the unknown. We have *nothing* to go off of here. There
are no parenting books on raising a force sensitive
child." She admitted sadly. "Seeing the holo made me
realize that as badly as I want to protect Bruce, I
c-can't." The words were hard for her to say. Sierra had
always gone above and beyond to keep the members of the
family secure. "That, in combination with what happened
in Dru's closet... I don't want to lose our son. I
respect Lord Vader, however, he isn't Bruce's father. He
isn't Bruce's mother. Lord Vader will send him down a
road to become a weapon designed for his own use. But...
what's the alternative? There are so many bad things
that can happen from now until Bruce's fifth birthday as
a result of no one understanding his powers... And what
of the rest of the family? Dru and Bruce have bonded so
much. How will she react?"
"Don't worry, Sierra. You're a great mother. We'll be
able to figure this out," Claudius promised her, as he
did not want her to worry or be sad. "It's easy to
become overwhelmed, but hopefully Bruce's powers will
continue to manifest themselves in harmless ways, like
manipulating inanimate objects like the dress," he told
her, but then he remembered the incident with the
thranta and Governor Arundel. Had Bruce done that? "I
don't know that there is an alternative, but Bruce will
carry our love with him. He will not become evil and
pety like Inquisitor Thrope. He will go on to serve the
Empire, learn to use his powers, and bring peace and
order to the galaxy," he naively reassured her, as he
raised his hand to the back of her head. "Perhaps, when
the Emperor and Lord Vader have passed on, Bruce might
even succeed them..." he said, suggesting something much
larger and ambitious than he had ever done before.
As they spoke, she realized it would have been better
to express herself earlier than let it build until she
was hurting *bad*. There was nothing saying that Bruce
had truly influenced the thranta, or if it had been
incidental. Claudius pointed out that just because he
would serve the Empire, didn't mean Bruce would turn
into a cold, horrible individual like Inquisitor Thrope.
Bruce would come from a loving, supportive family. She
sniffed, slowly beginning to nod her head. "Y-You're
right. He doesn't have to become evil and petty. He can
still have a good life, even if that means handing him
over..." She remained close to him as she began to
settle down. "Maybe he will.." Sierra would never stop
thinking about, or loving her dear son. Choosing what
was best for him would be the hardest decision of her
life. Sadly, Lord Vader's training was necessary.
Claudius and Sierra would have to make it through the
fallout together. "I worry.. As astronomical as the odds
are, that this is going to happen again. I don't want
all of our children to be taken from us."
"Oh don't think like that, Sierra. There is no
guarantee that any of our other children will have this
ability. Marcus' children do not have it. Jelena and
Drusilla do not have it. I am not sure that it is
genetic. I'm not sure that anyone does anymore,"
Claudius replied, as he tried to keep his wife from
worrying. The last thing he wanted was to lose any
children to Lord Vader, let alone multiple children, but
if the alternative was Bruce's powers raging out of
control and perhaps injuring someone. "We will take it
one step at a time, together," he told her, as he moved
in to place another kiss upon her lips. He loved his
wife. He loved his son. They were a family and always
would be, regardless of where they were in the galaxy.
It was the not knowing that was the problem. There
was no one they could refer to. Sierra would simply have
to wait and see if they were to produce another
force-sensitive child. She forced herself to let out a
decompressing sign and calm down. Ultimately, she was
pregnant again and worrying herself into a tightly
coiled ball of stress would hurt Sierra *and* the baby.
"One step at a time..." She agreed. *Together*. She
looked up at him. Tears of a happy kind streamed down
her cheeks. He had ridden through the crazy day with her
and come to her rescue at the end of it. She kissed him
sweetly. "I love you. Thank you for being my sanity,
She felt like she could breathe again after their
conversation. A little smile started to form on her
face. "Now that you've begun your new career as a
speeder racer, I ‘suppose I'll retire and live off of
your royalties for the rest of my life." She winked.
"I love you too, Sierra," he said, as he brought his
hand up to dry her tears. "That was my first and last
race. I just wanted to see if I could do it, and you let
me," he said, as he gently squeezed her hands. "Besides,
with all of the collisions I was lucky just to make it
through the race," he said, with a mournful frown.
"Don't worry. We need to spend every moment we have with
Bruce making the most of our time with him, so that we
can influence the decisions that he will make later in
life," he told her, which made him consider the
connection to Drusilla. "How did Dru react? You don't
think she'll try and get him to use his powers to reach
out and grab jewelry she wants, do you?" he asked, as he
would put *nothing* past his youngest daughter.
Her mood was beginning to improve thanks to the
efforts of her husband. Her heart felt extra warm and
fuzzy for him. She squeezed his hands back happily. "Of
course I let you. Though, I got an earful from Doctor
Tohan, Doctor Bailo, your brother, even Zara" She
laughed. "If you want to do it again, I'll support it."
She admitted despite how concerned she had been for his
well being. Her smile grew. Bruce was lucky. He'd been
born into a wonderful family. His parents loved him. His
sisters accepted him, even if Drusilla was training him
to be her future little slave. "I agree. We can give him
a good foundation to build off of." She squeezed him.
His question was answered with a little snort.
"Claudius, Drusilla force-fed Ewwiekewwieikkie jewels.
Nothing is impossible with her." She spoke with
affectionate teasing. "Dru screamed. She seemed freaked
out by what happens. I didn't tell her anything. I don't
even know how to bring that up with everyone else."
"I don't think that we should bring it up with anyone
else. It will be very hard to explain, and truthfully we
do not even understand it ourselves," Claudius told her,
as he wanted to keep the news about Bruce under wraps.
As she reminded him about Drusilla's attempt to 'save'
the family jewels he laughed and shook his head,
realizing that his fear might come true. "Speaking of
the Doctors I suppose it is nearly time to find out the
gender of our second child," he told her, as he tried to
steer the conversation to something happier and
optimistic that they could look forward to.
She agreed. There were already far too many people
who knew as a result of the scene Inquisitor Thrope had
made on the day of Bruce's birth. When Bruce's fifth
birthday drew closer, then they would share the news
with the family and work through it *together*. Until
then, these limited days with Bruce were precious.
Sierra wanted to think of something else, so when
Claudius shifted the conversation, she didn't stop him.
"It'll be either Noah or Olivia, huh?" She reached down
to her growing stomach. She felt like she was showing a
lot earlier this time around than with Bruce. "...Or
both..." She laughed, though the likeliness of that was,
hopefully, incredibly low. "The Doctors are here... Do
you think we should be impatient and see if they can
find out early?" She wanted a spoonful of good
news...but not a spoonful of sugar that Ewwiekewwieikkie
might give to her to improve her mood.
"Well Marcus and Zara had twins, and so did Raeni and
Germanicus, so I would never rule anything out. These
things can't be planned," Claudius told her, as he moved
his hand through her blonde locks. "Noah or Olivia," he
repeated, with a smile, before leading her down from the
observatory and back down to the lower level of the
estate. When he entered into the back yard where they
last saw Doctors Tohan and Bailo he was surprised to see
that Marcus and Zara had the same idea and were
currently in the process of their own checkup. There was
a word for the emotion he was experiencing right now ...
Zara Rodney had to take advantage of the situation.
She and Marcus had already spoke of necessity to travel
to see Doctor Tohan, but, they had ironically bumped
into each other on Esseles. "I'm so excited!" Zara's
second pregnancy had come as a surprise to her. She
certainly wasn't feeling the same bout of sickness that
she had with the twins. She hoped she wouldn't feel
quite so whale-like in the last trimester either. "I
promise I won't make you climb up the stairs to my room
when I go into labor." She told Pilaq. "I'll spend the
last month of my pregnancy on the lowest floor of the
castle." The doctors were first checking on Zara and the
baby's health. The gender would come soon. She grinned
at Marcus. She was pleased to be making him a father for
the third time.
"That is good, because I would not climb the stairs
Duchess Zara. I would have your husband or the droid
carry you down the stairs to me," Doctor Pilaq Tohan
informed the pregnant Duchess as he began examining her.
Out of the corner of his eyes he spied Claudius and
Sierra exiting the house. Suddenly he felt as if he had
been caught having an affair. "It seems we double
booked," he said to Doctor Bailo, before starting to
laugh. "I will be right with you, Lady Sierra, but she
was impregnated first," he told her, as he wished he had
a receptionist and a waiting room. "This will not take
long," he said, as he examined Zara, while Doctor Bailo
got the image ready. They would soon know whether it was
a boy or a girl.
Zara blushed. "Thanks for that, Doctor. Because you
soooo needed to add fuel to Marcus and Claudius' little
competition." She leaned forward slightly to see the
3D/4D image of the embryo inside of her womb. It was
just as exciting as the first time they had seen the
twins. She grinned brightly. There it was; an ity bity
baby lookin' embryo. There was so much of the child that
had yet to develop. At the same time, the child already
had definable arms, legs, body, and head. Zara lifted
her head to look at Marcus. Another Rodney was on the
way. "Marcus..." The ultrasounds were her favorite parts
of the check ups. She enjoyed seeing their babies grow.
She was determined to make sure this baby was born just
as healthy as the twins.
Doctor Bailo chuckled. "Pray that Iyah does not get
pregnant, otherwise you'll need to hire a receptionist."
Alessandra had good timing. With the family growing,
Pilaq needed an extra set of hands in order to keep
everything healthy in the trouble-prone family. She
looked at the image of Zara and Marcus' third child. She
quietly conducted her part of the examine, but it was
the blood sample she had taken from Zara in the
beginning which would confirm the gender, as the genital
would not develop physically for a few more weeks.
"Hmmm..." She said, leaning towards a beeping device she
had placed beside her. She began to smile with both of
her mouths. Alessandra knew the gender. "Would you like
me to tell you now, or would you like us to exam Sierra
first and tell you *together*?"
Marcus found that he was less anxious this time than
he was the last, as he knew what to expect and was less
confused. However, he was not completely without anxiety
and watched the movement of the doctors carefully.
*Very* carefully. When the time came where they were to
learn the gender, he leaned in towards Zara, and took
her hand in his carefully. "That's why we're here,
Doctor Bailo. We want to know, but..." he said, as he
looked towards his brother. "We can wait a little while
longer," he said, hoping that Zara would not be too
disappointed in him. He needed to make some gestures to
regain his relationship with his brother.
Zara felt more comfortable as well. Now that she had
done this once, she didn't feel like she needed to tie
pillows to every part of her body and act as if she was
made of glass. She was sure that the baby would be okay,
as long as she didn't decided she wanted to pick up
bounty hunting, skydiving, or classic speeder racing.
She didn't mind waiting to find out a little longer.
"Yup. We'll wait, doctor." She adjusted her top when the
exam was finished and Doctor Bailo reported the child
was indeed healthy. It was impossible to tell that Zara
was pregnant, as she did not show in the slightest. She
stood up and moved to Marcus' side. "They know! We're
going to know soon too!" She looked at Sierra. It was
cool that they would be pregnant for the second time
together. She hoped that maybe this could repair the
bonds she had broken with her sister. Sierra was much,
*much* kinder to her than Luna had ever been.
Sierra suddenly felt very shy. Every appointment with
Pilaq had been so quiet and secluded, but now the whole
family was there. She could even hear the quacking ducks
as the girls chased them. She sat down before Doctor
Tohan and Doctor Bailo. "You really do need a
receptionist, especially if you're intending to keep
being a menace with that walking stick..." She smiled.
As she sat back, she untucked her tunic from her
trousers to give the Doctors free reign of her stomach.
As excited as she was, the audience was nerve wrecking.
Her face was pale. It looked as if Pilaq was now seated
in the splash zone for the moment went Sierra's anxiety
turned into vomit.
Doctor Bailo smiled down at Sierra. "Don't worry, my
dear. Your family is very good at making healthy
children." She took Sierra's hand to take a blood
sample. It was both for the purpose of genetic testing,
as well as gender.
"What I really need is for Ewwiekewwieikkie's nose to
be gender specific, because then we can skip the imaging
technology and rely on the smell test," Doctor Tohan
commented, as Zara moved away and Sierra entered. "You
should understand that there is no group discount,
although I do much prefer when I can do both at the same
time," he said, as he banged the bottom of his walking
stick on the ground twice. While Doctor Bailo began the
testing he was quick to check Sierra's vitals. "Relax.
Relax," he said to her, as both her heart rate and blood
pressure were elevated. Clearly something was troubling
her, which made him wonder if there was something he
should hit Claudius in the head with his walking stick
Sierra could feel how quickly her heart was beating.
There was no hiding it from Pilaq when he had monitoring
equipment on her. The day had been stressful and she had
yet to fully unwind from it all. That was showing in her
high blood pressure. She did her best to relax herself
while Doctor Bailo produced an image of her child, only
slightly less developed than Zara's. In that moment, the
world stopped spinning. Sierra stared down at the first
image of the baby that she had ever seen. Her heart
melted. She was pregnant *again*. She felt the tears
coming. She did her best to blink them away. Her chin
rose as she looked to the man she loved...the man who
made this all possible. He had made her a mother for the
second time. "I love you," she mouthed to him.
Motherhood had become part of who she was. Her big heart
could love her family as much as it wanted without
having to worry about getting hurt. She saw Doctor Bailo
nudge Pilaq and show him her device to let him know the
gender of both Zara and Sierra's children. Sierra looked
at him impatiently.
Doctor Tohan was smiling down at Sierra, realizing
that this would not take long. "You have nothing to
worry about, Sierra. We have *just* been through this
together," he said, as he completed his examination of
the woman. He took a look at the datapad casually,
checking on Zara's baby, and then both of Sierra's
babies. "All three babies are fine," he told them, as he
smiled at everyone, happily. "Wait," he said, as he
looked back towards the datapad. He reached for his
walking stick and gave it a thorough whack, but even the
magic of his walking stick did not change what he saw.
"*Three* babies..." he said, before staggering backwards
and collapsing onto the garden bench beside the duck
pond. "That's it. I've had it," he declared, as suddenly
a pregnant duck moved towards him for her exam. *Quack.
Wait...did he say *three*. Sierra looked at Claudius,
then she slowly turned her head to look at Zara.
*Three*! "Doctor Tohan...are you okay?" Sierra worried
about the old Ithorian, who was taking the news hard.
She helped him to the bench while the questions ate away
at her. "Hold on, doctor, I'll get you some water..." No
one was trying to kill Pilaq, only complicate his last
years of life to the max. Sierra darted back inside her
home rapidly to get a glass of water for the poor, old
"Threeee?!" Zara squeaked. "We're having twins
*again*!?" All of her hopes of this pregnancy being
easier were dashed in that instant. Zara wasn't unhappy
with the news. To the contrary, she hoped that they were
having two girls. Marcus and Darrus would both be
overwhelmed in estrogen. They'd need to spend a week at
the chalet every month to avoid the war zone that Zara
and her daughters would create. "Marcus! Twins!" She
pounced him. "At least the second one didn't hide like
last time. I bet that was Darrus. Sneaky little guy..."
Doctor Bailo took the datapad back from Pilaq.
"Three? How did I miss..?" She reviewed the image of
Zara's baby. There was no doubt that she was having a
single pregnancy. She overlooked Sierra's ultrasound for
a second time. That was the point when she realized it
was Sierra who was having twins. With wide eyes, she
stared at the two Rodney brothers, pondering how it had
all happened. As Sierra returned back with the water for
Pilaq, Alessandra looked down at the pregnant duck. "Pilaq,
your next appointment is here to see you." She couldn't
help being sassy with him. She took the datapad,
switching to Zara's ultrasound. "Zara and Marcus, you
are *not* having twins again. The test confirms the
child you are expecting is female." She offered the
datapad back to Pilaq to deliver the news to his
"Shoo! Shoo!" Doctor Tohan said as he tried to move
the duck away with his walking stick. Unfortunately
Duchess Zara was getting way ahead of herself, which
caused him to frown slightly. He was too winded to stop
her, but fortunately Zara had the situation well under
control. When she handed him the datapad he let out a
deep sigh that caused a roar to escape both of his
mouths, which had the added benefit of startling the
duck, which ran away, flapping its wings and squawking.
He moved over towards Claudius slowly, before lowering
his head. "Old friend, it is you who has been blessed
this time. Two there are ... a boy and a girl. No more.
No less," he informed him, as he looked to Sierra to
share the joyous news.
Sierra was floored by the news that *she* was having
twins. A boy *and* a girl. Her mind cranked backwards.
She had noticed differences in this pregnancy than her
first. Her womb seemed to be growing much more rapidly
than before. Her hormones were in overdrive. She had
cried watching a touchy-feely episodes of Rainbow Rancor
the other day. It also seemed as if she was never
endingly hungry. Never had she thought she was carrying
*two* babies, she just thought she was carrying one who
had the appetite of a Squib. A smile burst out over her
face. It was so wide and so bright that her dimples
showed. She wordlessly approached Claudius and wrapped
her arms around him tightly. A year ago, Sierra hadn't
even built a nest. Now, her nest was overflowing with
wonderful children. "Twins.." She said in awe, extending
an arm to embrace Pilaq as well. "Thank you, Doctor.
Thank you so much!"
Claudius was just about to congratulate Marcus and
Zara when the news hit him that *he* was the one who was
having twins. When Sierra came to wrap his arms around
him he was wondering what was keeping him upright.
"Twins," he repeated, as he raised his arms and
tightened them around her. "Thank you, Doctor," he said,
as he looked down to his old friend and doctor. He could
not believe that he was months away from becoming a
father of seven. Seven, he thought to himself, and now
he really felt faint. "Well. Seven is a lucky number,"
he said, before he placed a loving kiss on his wife's
*Seven*. Sierra had to mentally count to confirm.
*Seven*. Claudius had certainly made her dream of
wanting a large family come true. She hadn't expected
the number to grow so quickly, but it was! Her arms
remained locked around him. Her mind was still
processing this development. "Seven.." A laugh escaped
her lips. "I love you," she said, rising up to her tippy
toes to receive his kiss. She was a lot less bashful
around her relatives as a result of the new, good news.
She kissed her husband lovingly. "I'm happy, *really*
happy. A little nervous, but mostly happy." The
rollercoaster of emotions seemed to be leveling out for
Sierra. She was pleased that they would have another
son, in addition to the daughter they had both wanted so
"Awwwww.." Zara squeed. "They're soooooooo cute!" For
once, she was talking about Claudius and Sierra, *not*
her favorite Ithorian couple. She was glad that they
were both so happy. Claudius had been very different the
first time she met him. He almost seemed younger in some
ways. She reached out, grasping Marcus' hand. "We're
going to have to start thinking about girl names,
Marcus... and how we're going to keep all the boys away
from our daughters." She inched towards Pilaq. "Doctor
Tohan.." She gave him a quick squeeze. "When are *you*
going to give us some good news? I saw you being cutesy
with Doctor Bailo at Iyah's wedding." If it was possible
for Zara to embarrass the elderly doctor, then she was
going to find out how today. "Marcus and I were
wondering what an Ithorian wedding is like... Or are you
the secret eloping kind?"
Doctor Tohan was resting comfortably after delivering
the unexpected and quite startling news when Duchess
Zara suddenly brought up his personal relationship with
Doctor Bailo. He looked at her, his brown skin flushing
with embarrassment, but as she was a pregnant woman he
could not simply whack her with his stick and send her
on her way. "If the good news you wish is a pregnancy, I
believe I am too old for that to be biologically
viable," he informed her, before looking away, his
anxiety almost becoming too much to bare. "An Ithorian
wedding? Hmm..." he murmured, wishing he had the
strength to run away. He sometimes forgot because of her
position and children that she was still, above all
else, a teenage girl.
Marcus could not believe that it was Claudius who was
having twins this time. But more than that he could not
believe that his wife was being so bold in her prodding
of Doctor Tohan. He moved to his brother to shake his
hand and squeeze his shoulder. But then he turned his
attention to Zara, moving to her side, and taking her by
the arm. "Zara!" he said, before moving his head towards
her ear to whisper. "Are you trying to kill him?" he
asked, quietly, while outwardly smiling to the venerable
Ithorian who was old even when he was young.
At the moment, Doctor Bailo wished she was a Quor'sav
so she might put her head in the ground, or use her
lengthy legs to run away from the situation. Zara was
embarrassing her to no ends. Her relationship with Pilaq
was delicate and sweet. Alessandra was happy to have
companionship in her life. She hoped Zara wasn't about
to ruin it. "Milady, milady..." She said, rushing to
attempt to save Pilaq. "You have your children and your
pregnancy to worry about..." Doctor Bailo's reddened
cheeks were obvious. She was relieved that Marcus moved
to collect his wife before Pilaq suffered from a heart
attack. "We will be returning to New Aldera." She told
all of them with a nod of her head. She leaned over to
help the old Ithorian move. "Hurry!" She whispered with
both of her mouths.
"Ew. I wasn't talking about *that* kind of good
news." Pilaq was roughly a million years old and ... *ew*.
She didn't know which was worse, the Squib mating
instructional video or this. Zara nervously bit her lip.
She hoped that someone had burned that datadisk and that
Ewwiekewwieikkie or Melickielickie hadn't found it. She
stopped pressing Pilaq for information even though she
was curious about an Ithorian wedding. The likelihood of
it happening seemed small unless Zara proposed to
Alessandra for Pilaq. She ignored them, setting her
sights on Marcus. She smiled wide at him. "Nooo! We need
him. I don't want to kill him. I was just wondering.
C'mon, you were curious too." The Ithorians were already
making an exit by the time Zara's attention shifted
again. She moved on to other things, like the fact that
they were having a baby girl. "Are you excited?" She
asked him happily.
Marcus was glad that Doctor Bailo stepped in, for he
did not want his wife to be the cause of the death of
the old doctor. "Of course I'm excited. Another girl who
will grow up to be as beautiful as you, but never being
allowed out of the castle," he declared, and since he
was the Duke he could do that. "Your heart is in the
right place regarding the two doctors, but his heart
can't bare it right now," he told her, as he led her
back inside the estate where his niece was unexpectedly
watching their twins. "So now it is Sierra's turn to
have two," he told her, before leaning in to press his
lips to hers. Now they knew.
She giggled. He was being serious, wasn't he? Zara
was waiting for the moment she woke up to bars on the
castle windows. It would be difficult for them when
their children reached their older teens. For now, Zara
was going to enjoy her days of not chasing boys away
from her *two* daughters. She was shocked to see
Drusilla watching the twins *and* doing a good job. Sia
and Darrus looked to be perfectly happy. "I'm happy for
them." Zara loved cuddling the twins at once. It was one
of her favorite parts of the day. Now Sierra would have
many children to cuddle too. She happily shared a kiss
with her love. They'd come to try to stop Claudius from
being wild, and it turned into a very happy gender
reveal. "Let's go home. We gotta go visit our sea