Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:6:19) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Leiliani: Rodney Castle).
Duke Marcus Rodney and Duchess Zara Rodney.

Dawn came. The sun began to rise over the distant mountains, sweeping down first over the city of Leiliani and then the Rodney Castle. Duke Marcus Rodney was up early, with the thrantas, doing his exercise on the balcony. It had been a difficult recovery from the blaster wound he suffered while attempting to infiltrate the garrison, but with determination and experimental therapy he was now nearly whole. However, for a proud man like Marcus even such remarkable progress like this was not enough. The sun shone down upon his body, covered only in his boxer shorts and undershirt. When he was done, he moved to the railing, and leaned forward, trying to catch his breath as the sweat poured off him. He could see the city of Leiliani a little more clearly ... the Ithorian's work on the atmosphere was beginning to have subtle improvements. The city itself was slowly being rebuilt, but most of the people had fled to New Alderaan. As long as Papius Arundel was Governor of Delaya there was no sense in welcoming them back. His concern, however, was more focused on his children than his people, whom he expected to be awake soon. As he took in the crisp morning air he debated a shower versus a few moments longer in the open.

Though the Ithorians had worked hard to begin reversing the effects of extreme pollution, there was one dark cloud that could not be rid of: Papius Arundel. His garrison stood, entirely rebuilt, while the city around it still suffered. Duchess Zara Rodney had been ignoring the world outside Rodney Castle's walls. She had been preoccupied with her family so much that she hadn't bothered to monitor Papius from the device she'd placed in his garrison. The young woman began to naturally wake with the morning sun. She lay in bed. It was quiet in the room. Sia and Darrus were still cuddled up in their bassinet fast asleep. Quietly, Zara rose from the bed. She was dressed in a sheer, short nightgown. She wasn't expecting visitors, so she didn't bother covering up.

She paused just outside the balcony door where Marcus was. His body's progress had been insane lately. Day by day, Zara watched him display strength beyond anything she had ever seen. He was serious when he said he wanted to walk before the twins. A cool breeze slipped over the Duchess, making her sigh in relief. She would never forget how it felt to almost lose Marcus. For that reason, she had learned to treasure him more than ever. She stepped up behind him, wrapping her arms around his sweaty body. "'Morning, Marcus..."

Marcus was about to turn to face Zara when the unpleasant, yet recurring, sound of TIE Strikers soaring above the castle broke the tranquility of the morning and startled the nesting thrantas. "Good morning," he said, after a long pause, once the TIEs had passed overhead. No matter how many times he heard that noise he never would get used to it. They did not belong on his planet. "I hope they don't wake the twins," he said to Zara, as he looked past her towards the bassinet. "I was able to do a little more today," he told her, feeling quite proud as he recounted his latest developments. His hands moved towards her, sweeping her off her feet and raising her into his arms. He did not just want to tell her about his newfound strength ... he wanted to show her!

The young woman made a face. She *hated* the TIE Strikers. She had no idea how Claudius and Sierra lived next to such a ruckus. Each time she saw one, she swore up and down that things wouldn't be this way forever. They'd find a way out from the Empire's thumb. "Me too. Stupid TIEs... I'm going to invest in an RPG and make them stop flying overhead." Zara grumbled. Her irritation was short lived for the happy news her husband delivered. Her frown turned upside down. "Really!? Was it okay? Are you in pain? Do you need to sit down?" She asked worriedly. It came as a total surprise when he *picked* her *up*! Zara's eyes went wide. "Whaa!! You picked me up! How did you do that!?" Though she was very much so *not* pregnant anymore, she couldn't help the tears that suddenly rushed to her eyes. "Y-You picked me up.." She repeated. Her hands brushed over his face. "Marcus!" She kissed him quickly. Her heart was bursting for him. "You did it! And you're okay?" Pride filled her. She didn't know if she had the strength that he did. It was through that strength that he was capable of standing without support again.

Marcus laughed as Zara discussed her plot to shoot down the TIEs, but he realized that every time you destroyed a single TIE it was replaced by several more. The Empire seemed to have vast, unlimited resources, and Delaya had no arms to speak of whatsoever. "Everything is fine, Zara," he said, as he cradled in her arms, after she kissed him. "I'm okay," he reassured her, before walking with her back into their bedchamber. He lowered her slowly until turning to close the door to the balcony in the hopes it might drown out the sound of the TIEs and allow their twins a bit more sleep. When done, he turned to face his wife with a bit of swagger and a cocky look on his face. He was exhausted, but he was nearly his old self again.

She was speechless. Zara had spent so much time worried that the Governor would find out about Marcus' secret identity. If there was just one slip from her exoskeleton, then the whole charade could fall apart...and then what? She was terrified she couldn't protect him from the Governor, and those feelings weren't going anywhere. At least they could rest assured knowing Papius would *never* find out. Her arms wrapped around his neck. He could even *walk* holding her. "Ohmygosh, I'm so proud of you." Zara sniffled. "You're so amazing." She stared at his legs once she stood by herself again. There he was, moving around with ease. Her hands linked with his. It seemed the twins opted to sleep through the noise. Her eyes glimmered. "Let's go shower. You're and sweaty and I haven't been shared shower size in forever." She grinned, darting towards the bathroom. She made sure to keep the bathroom door open so she could hear if their children awoke.

Time was of the essence, so Zara started the water and began to strip. "I liked helping you dress. Can I keep doing that?" She winked, happily undressing him before disappearing into the warm shower. She couldn't help but awe at all the room she had in the shower. It was still novel for her, even a month after giving birth.

Marcus did not need to have his arm twisted to get into the shower with Zara. Being carried into a bath was not the same as being able to stand in the shower. "As long as the purple pants never appear again you can," he said, as he moved into the refresher. Once inside he began to strip out of his boxer shorts and undershirt, revealing his still athletic physique and the unfortunate blaster burn on his back. She was first into the shower, but it did not take him long to join her. "How long do we have before they wake up?" he asked, as the warm water began to cascade down upon him, soothing his aching muscles after morning exercise. He reached forward with his hands, pushing at her shoulders until she was pressed against the shower wall. It had been a long time since he had been up to this as well.

It had been far, far too long since they had been intimate with each other. All it took was for him to press her against the shower wall and she was ready to go. Zara looked up at him and grinned. "Long enough." The twins had spent some time up in the middle of the night. She was hoping they'd grant their parents with enough time to enjoy themselves *together*. Her hands began to explore over his body. She touched his face and his chest. Her hips, ever the naughty instigator, began to roll against his. "I don't even know how we've gone so long without.." She pressed her head forward. Her tongue ran over the side of his neck. Her ears were listening close for the twins. Her body was demanding something else entirely.

"Neither do I," Marcus said, as he pinned her against the shower wall. His face moved towards her, pressing his lips against hers, and then slowly moved down the side of her face to her neck. He fell to his knees in front of her, but this time it was not because he was hurt, but because he was impassioned. He began kissing at her belly button while the water continued to crash down upon him, but the warm water was no longer as hot as his blood.

Marcus felt his knees began to buckle as he went weak against her, barely able to stand, not because he was injured, but because he was utterly spent. "I love you, Zara," he told her, as he pressed his lips gently upon her. The old Marcus Rodney was back.

She hugged him close to her body. "I love you, my Marcus." Her heart swooned. The day had begun amazing. As they both came down from their morning romp, she could hear the cooing that recognizably belonged to Sia. Darrus' little cry followed. The twins had granted them with just enough time. Zara's eyes brightened up, as did her smile. "They're awake." She reported happily. "Why don't you finish up? I'll get a head start on our beautiful babies." Zara headed out of the shower. She dried off and quickly dressed herself in a robe. "I'm coming, I'm coming." She called out to her infants. She was soon as the bassinet. She collected each of her children into her arms. "Good morning, my sweet peas!" She kissed both of their little chubby cheeks. In the month that they had been alive, they both had become more cherubic and cuter than ever. Of course, Zara was biased. She went through changing diapers before settling in the glider to feed the twins. Darrus acted like he was starving at every feeding. Sia, on the other hand, seemed distracted. She was looking for her daddy.

Marcus' face lit up when he heard the sound of his twins, but he needed a shower to clean up after his shower. "I'll be right with you," he said, as he remained in the shower, letting the hot water wash off the linger effects of the sex. He wasted no time in washing off as now that he had been a husband it was time for him to be a father. He turned the water off and stepped out onto the ancient tile floor, slowly drying himself off as he looked at himself in the mirror. He looked a day older everyday. He wrapped himself in a comfortable robe before stepping into his slippers and slowly moving back into the bedroom where Zara already had her hands full with the twins. "Good morning, Sia. Good morning, Darrus," he said, as he sidled up to to Sierra and began beaming down at their twins.

Zara loved feeding the twins. It made her feel so bonded to them. She rocked gently in the glider. Sia immediately stopped drinking when she saw her father. The small girl let out a happy coo. She reached out her arms and kicked her legs towards him. Darrus, on the other hand, was a man of business. It was breakfast time for him. Zara adjusted. "Here. Why don't you feed Sia from a bottle? She seems to like that better." Her silver-haired daughter was so cute. Zara's smile grew bigger. "They're just about a month old now. Time has flown since they arrived. In all the time leading up to having our twins, I couldn't have guessed how wonderful parenthood would be." It was coming up on a year since Zara had broken into the castle and gained so much more than a chronometer. She laughed to herself at the thought, shaking her head. "We'll have our anniversary soon too. Do you realize how long I had to study the map of this castle to memorize its floor plan?!" She grinned.

Marcus heard one word in three that Zara was saying as he was far too engrossed in being a father. Darrus, as his first born son, would forever hold a place of prominence in his life, but Sia, being his precious daughter, would be watched as if he were a thranta. He held her so carefully, supporting her head, while making sure no air built up in the bottle. "Then of course there are secret passages not on any map," he said to her, as he continued to feed Sia. "They made sneaking out, or sneaking in, so much easier in my youth," he said, with a smirk, uncertain if he was smiling more because of his joke or because of the look on Sia's face as he fed her. He had taken to fatherhood wonderfully. He could not believe how much he had changed in the past year and it was all because of his wife. "What do you want to do for our anniversary? A parade? A ball?" he asked, suggesting some outlandish ideas that were the right of the Duke and Duchess.

"What! Secret passages?! That's just ridiculous!" She threw up a hand, laughing happily. Her other arm was cradling Darrus. As soon as he finished eating, Zara propped him up against her shoulder and burped him. Her heart was all tangled up in these twins. It didn't matter how many times she woke up in the middle of the night to care for them, she felt *happy* to see them, for Zara once lived a life where a family wasn't in the cards. She laughed again. "A parade? Well, I *have* been working on my Duchess wave." To which she demonstrated by sitting up with Darrus. She gave Marcus a fake smile and slowly waved in a Princess Diana-like fashion. She snickered. "It's good, right?" She did entertain the idea of a ball. Deep down inside, she had been terribly alike to Callista as a child. She read books and fancied some of the ideas having to do with being a 'princess', well, she supposed she was more like a queen. That thought was horrifying. "A ball? Wasn't there a ball going on when I robbed you?" She winked, sitting back with Darrus seated in her lap. "I'm good on my feet. D'you think you can keep up?" Now she was starting trouble!

"Oh you have been practicing, Your Grace," Marcus joked with her, before pulling the bottle away from Sia once she had completely drained it. "Yes. There was. We used to have a lot of balls ... before the Empire came," he said, as he moved to sit next to her. He walked as slow as a man twice his age, as he did not want to take any chances while carrying his daughter. He had never been so overprotective in his life. When he finally neared her, he sat down, cradling his baby girl while continuing the conversation. "Keep up with you? Never! You're still a teenager and I'm an old man," he said, as he gave her a little nudge. "Whatever we end up doing for our anniversary I'm sure it will be wonderful," he said, as he looked to each of his twins with nothing but unconditional love in his eyes.

Zara really did practice! She truly wanted to fit the role of Duchess in every way. The people of Delaya had been kind enough to take to her despite her lack of a royal background. She wanted to ensure that they were treated right. Someday the Rebels would make the Empire go away from here forever... Someday. Her eyes glanced downward. "We'll have more balls again. We're gonna get the Empire out of here eventually. It'll be a good way to boost morale." She touched his shoulder and squeezed it before moving her hand back to her little boy. Her fingers ran through his hair. It had grown in so thick! Darrus reached his hands out towards his mothers while Sia cooed. She was in her happy place.

"Oooh, 'I'm an old man' says the guy who just got dirty in the shower!" Zara pointed out with a playful laugh. "Let's have a ball. We'll invite as many people as we can and publicly celebrate our love. When it's over, I'll whisk you off to that empty island retreat your brother had built. It'll be wonderful." She would never stop feeling blown away by the shift in her life. Had Marcus not gone after her, she'd still have both of her hands in her illegal doings and be in a world of unhappiness. Yet, there they were. A year later, married, and parents. She let out a happy squee. "I love you. I love *all* of you!"

"Zara!" Marcus shouted, as his cheeks flushed red with embarrassment. "Don't talk about our S E X life in front of the children," he said, as he wondered how much they could understand even at a month old. "Then a ball it shall be!" he declared, stomping his foot to cement his authority as Duke of Delaya. "I understand that Drusilla might have a guest in mind," he said, with a wink, as he was one to keep up on all of the family gossip as they spread out throughout the galaxy. This ball might be just the excuse to bring the far off members of the House of Rodney back together if only for one night. "I love you, and our children, Zara," he said, as he very carefully leaned over to place a kiss upon her without disturbing Sia.

She laughed at how he spelled out 'sex' like the twins could pick up on it ... uh oh, could they!? Her eyes narrowed as she looked at Darrus, who was desperately trying to reach his foot. Her cheeks started to heat up. Thankfully, Marcus moved the subject right on. There was family gossip that she didn't know about. "Whaatt!? Who? Tell me more! Is he suffering from Stockholm syndrome? Do I smell royal wedding?" She giggled. She loved her niece but she had noooo idea how Drusilla did it. She'd seen the girl wear Zara's weight in accessories and still demand more. She liked the idea of seeing all of them again. She wondered if they could get Mug and his family to make an appearance too. Zara had been so busy with the coronation when Callista visited last that they didn't get to enjoy a tea party together. She met her husband halfway so they could share a kiss. It may have been stroking her own ego, but they made for super awesome parents!

"From what I understand he's a genuine Prince," Marcus informed her, as he moved in closer to her to whisper the gossip so that the twins would not hear. Apparently he had a hard time understanding that they were not completely developed people yet. "Maybe there will be a royal wedding ... if Claudius does not kill him and if Drusilla does not bankrupt him," he teased, as his attention shifted down to Sia. "This one, however, is *never* getting married. No one is good enough for her. In fact, I'm never letting her out of my sight," he declared, as he became the most fearsome father to any male child being born that would one day become a potential suitor to Lady Sia.

A Prince was exactly what Drusilla needed. He was someone who could afford her. She had seen the girl wipe out fancy boutiques at record time. It was quite amazing, in all seriousness. She laughed. She couldn't imagine how the Prince felt. Even she had thought Claudius was scary at first, and she wasn't attempting to marry his youngest daughter. "I hope he comes. We'll have to meet him!" Zara didn't like the idea of anyone marrying her daughter. She nodded firmly in agreeance. "Nope. No one is good enough for her. She can live with us forever. You too, Darrus." She leaned down and kissed his little, button nose. "We can be extra scary to any of Sia's suitors because we actually know how to use weapons ... and hack stuff." Zara was already plotting how she'd chase away any male suitors. Thankfully, she needn't worry about that from some time. Though it was true that Sia was the most beautiful girl in the whole galaxy, no male would bother her until she was much older.

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