The Kwai shuttle braved the trip to northern Delaya.
This was Sierra's least favorite place on the
planet. The engines of the ship seemed to draw
Marcus and Zara's family pet to the surface of the
massive frozen lake near their chalet. With that
monster in mind, Sierra decided to land a
comfortable distance away from it. "How the hell do
they live here!?" It was snowing. Snowflakes pelted
down from the sky as the young Duchess ran from her
ship to her brother-in-law's chalet. Her fingers
were numb by the time she reached the door. She
*really* needed to keep a jacket on hand inside of
the ship for miserable trips like this. She knocked
at the door as a chill swooped over her. "Shit!" She
crossed her arms over her chest. Every bit of
exposed skin developed goose bumps. She would
probably freeze to death if one of them didn't
"There's someone at the door!" Marcus complained,
but remember that his wife was eight months pregnant
he knew the task was his and his alone. He had been
busy occupying himself with attempting to assemble
toys for the nursery when he heard the unwelcome
commotion at the door. "You don't think the sea
monster learned how to knock, do you?" he asked,
before moving down the stairs to the ground level.
He looked to the wall where his blaster rifle was
ready, but was satisfied with the pistol on his hip
as he slowly moved closer. Peering out the window he
was dismayed to see his sister-in-law out there
again. He opened the door for her, then looked past
to see if she had come alone. "You should let us
know when you make these little unannounced visits,"
he said to her, before ushering her in from the
freezing cold of the outside to the slight cold of
inside the chalet. "Zara! It's Sierra!" he shouted
up the stairs, as he was quick to shut the door
Zara was fully embracing 'nesting'. She was seated
on the bed folding clean baby clothing. There was an
array of pinks and blues spread out around her. At
this point, it could happen at any time. Pilaq had
stressed to her that it is normal, and healthy, for
women pregnant with twins to go into labor early. It
was those haunting words that had kept her anchored
inside of the chalet since they returned from their
casino trip. She was terrified of her water breaking
at the worst possible time...or worse: not being
ready. "It's the pizza I ordered five months ago! It
finally arrived!" She giggled, visualizing Sir
Tentacles sporting a pizza delivery uniform as he
knocked on the door. "You know... I kinda wouldn't
put it past Sir Tentacles. He's smart." She began to
scoot towards the edge of the bed. She felt like she
had been out of commission for so long. Now she was
trying to make up for it. She waddled towards the
"Oh thank goodness, you're home." Sierra sighed,
quickly passing through into the warmth of the
chalet. "If I let you know in advance, that would
take the unannounced out of the visits. That's no
fun." She spotted her sister-in-law making her way,
carefully, down the stairs. "I came to thank
you...and to give you an opportunity." She began,
moving to embrace Zara as soon as she reached the
bottom of the stairs. "How are you, sister?"
The little engine who could was going to be Zara's
new name. She chanted *I think I can* while making
her way down the stairs. It was an epic fight with
gravity. Zara cursed herself for ever deciding to
live in a home with multiple stories. Feeling a
shortness of breath, the teenager embraced Sierra.
"As good as a sea cow can be.." She sighed, coming
to settle beside her husband.
"I'm glad to see you up and around after your recent
misfortune," Marcus said to her, still not entirely
sure how to regard her. "It prevents accidents," he
said to her, as his right hand patted against his
holstered pistol, before withdrawing. "An
opportunity?" he asked, arching an eyebrow, and then
quickly turning his attention to Zara. He rushed to
her side to held her down the last bit of stairs.
When Zara mentioned 'sea cow' he frowned slightly,
reminded of how Claudius and Sierra had 'stolen' the
sea islands for themselves. However, this was not
the time, nor the place, to debate the pros and cons
of island life.
She understood why he had armed himself. When you
lived out in the arctic, you didn't get a lot of
visitors. Given whatever his double life might be as
the Nerf Herder, Marcus probably received more
unpleasant guests than anything else. "To see your
in-laws." Sierra's hand moved into the pocket of her
trousers. From it, she withdrew a piece of paper
with all the information as to where they were
located. She held it out to him. "The times you'll
be able to easily slip in and out of the facility
are on here. That damn Papius is shipping them back
to Esseles soon, however. Apparently Luna and Petrus
are involved in some Imperial special missions.
El-Nay confirmed that much. I don't have any
additional information. What I know is that these
two are causing the family a lot of pain." She
looked at Zara. "I'm sorry. Your sister is very
Zara had been worried that Claudius would show up
and do *something* once Sierra found out about
Marcus' other identity. Seeing her sister-in-law
made her uncomfortable. She clung to Marcus,
listening to what the woman had to say quietly. A
mix of emotions whirled inside of her. She
remembered Luna as she was when she was younger. How
had she turned so mean? She looked sadly towards her
husband. She still understood. Luna had done a bad,
Marcus took the piece of flimsiplast from her, but
found it difficult to look at with Zara standing
right next to him. He had been so concerned with the
complications she had been experiencing that he had
all but forgotten about Luna and Petrus. He had
almost hoped his blaster bolts would have put them
down for good, but now it seemed he would have to
slip into a facility and execute them like a common
assassin. That was not how he operated and it did
not make him comfortable at all. He looked down,
speechless, and struggled just to swallow. His head
eventually rolled upward, looking for Zara
desperately for not just guidance, but absolution.
"She's your sister," he said, passing the credit to
her. "Wh-what would you have me do?" he asked her,
his voice trembling, struggling just to speak those
few words. It was not a fair situation to deal with
when they were a day away from their baby shower and
a month away from their delivery. He just wanted to
be left alone, but it seemed the galaxy kept having
She didn't know if she could say the words. Kill my
sister. They didn't come out easy. They even sounded
foreign inside of her head. Her eyes fell to the
floor. In her mind, it made no sense why Luna hated
her so much. Zara had looked up to her. If she was
dead, then Zara would never get the sister back from
her past. Her head tilted upwards to look at Marcus.
She knew her answer to the question. She didn't want
to reveal it in front of Sierra. She had stood in
Sierra's shoes before. She wanted Luna dead directly
after being captured. "I-I don't know. Let me think
on it." Her eyes said *we'll talk about it later*.
"It's a tough situation." She said to Sierra. "I
don't know if I can spare Marcus long enough for him
to carry anything out." Zara admitted quietly. The
end of the pregnancy scared her. She didn't want to
go into labor without Marcus there. Right now, it
was a convenient excuse to feed Sierra.
"I see..." Sierra could tell that she shouldn't push
them. Zara was right. The couple had enough on their
hands right now. She would leave it for them to
decide, for it was Zara's family in the long run. "I
have one more thing to tell you before I leave since
you'll be at the castle tomorrow. Gaius Rodney is
the one responsible for every attempt on our family.
He is hungry for the Duchy. That's summing up the
long story." She produced a datapad from the
messenger bag at her side. She turned it towards
Marcus. "Gaius has a daughter. I do not know exactly
who she is. Watch out for her. They are working
together. I have no idea when these two will strike
again." The picture showed Farrah from one of the
recordings from inside of his room.
Marcus listened to Sierra's news concerning his
cousin Gaius ... a man he held in no regard. The
development that *he* was behind everything struck
him as impossible. "Gaius?!" he repeated, sounding
dismayed, as he struggled to process the news. Had
has skills really slipped to the point where he
could not detect treachery in his own family? He
took the datapad from her, scanning it briefly,
before offering it over to Zara, who infinitely
understood these technical things better than him.
"Thank you ... thank you for the warning, sister,"
he said to her, as the air in the chalet suddenly
felt much thicker and harder to breath. It was a lot
to take in.
Zara had always thought Gaius to be ... well, a bit
of an idiot. From the first time she saw him at the
medcenter, she had never thought much of him. He was
the last person to be expected, yet something told
her that the ISB commander had done her research
before presenting this to them. The concern on her
features grew as she took the datapad. "Gaius..?"
She committed the girl to memory. Tomorrow's
occasion was going to call for protection. She
wanted Marcus armed if something should happen. With
another sigh, she handed the datapad back to Sierra.
"Thank you. This is all a little overwhelming..."
She implied that it was time for her sister to
Sierra took the datapad back. "I will do what I can
to see that Gaius is not in the castle tomorrow.
Otherwise, it's up to us. I'll see you both in the
morning." She embraced both Marcus and Zara before
venturing back out into the cold.
The pregnant teen needed to sit *now*. She weakly
crossed the room to sit down on a small sofa for
two. "Marcus.." She ran her hand through her hair.
"I don't want you to kill Luna. I don't even want
you to go see her. Sierra said it herself. They are
going back to Esseles. They will leave us alone."
Her eyes were full of tears. She began to cry. "Why
is she so mean to us?! What did *I* do to her?"
Marcus did his best to say goodbye to Sierra, but
everything that had been discussed did not make him
much of a conversationalist. As he saw Zara begin to
get emotional, he began to surge forward ... but
instead of towards her he was quickly into the
kitchen. He opened the massive freezer he had
installed that was filled to the brim with Auntie
Mae's ice cream and quickly grabbed a carton of
purple potato ice cream along with a spoon the size
of a small moon. He was back at her side in no time
with the much needed treat, when she began to detail
the trauma that existed with her sister. "She's been
twisted by the harshness of life, Zara. It's not
your fault," he said, as he sat on the arm of the
sofa and wrapped his arm around her shoulder to
She sniffled on the couch. To her surprise, Marcus
returned with a carton of her favorite ice cream. It
was so touching and sweet that she began to cry
harder. "Marcus!" She wrapped her arms around him as
much as she could. She nuzzled her head into her
sweet, loving husband. He made her feel better. He
wasn't going to disobey her wishes and hurt Luna.
Zara knew him better than that. "I love you." She
lifted her head from him. Deep inside of her mind,
Zara hoped that she didn't regret letting her sister
live. If Luna wronged her family again then there
would be no choice. She would kill Luna herself.