Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:7:22) in the Essesia system: Retributor.
Governor Papius Arundel, Doctor Alessandra Bailo, Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, Major Sierra Rodney, and Doctor Pilaq Tohan.

Major Sierra Rodney navigated through the corridors of the Retributor towards the medical bay. She was in a rather good mood, as she had successfully gotten on top of her work. It was also time for Doctor Tohan to give her son his one month check up. It was hard to believe that Bruce had already been with them a little over a month. It felt like forever ago, but, at the same time, it felt like no time at all. The little boy had grown so much since his birth. It brought sanity into his overprotective mother's mind. The boy was seated in his carrier against Sierra's chest, gnawing on the stuffed bantha that Kerrie had gifted him with at the baby shower. Beneath Sierra's arm a box of Pilaq's favorite exquisite treats could be seen. In order to deliver the news she was about to, she needed to butter up the old Ithorian.

As she entered the sickbay, she spotted Doctor Bailo programming a medical droid. She had heard that she and Pilaq had taken care of Governor Arundel at Zara and Marcus' ball. She wondered how tempting it had been for them to not allow the evil man to bleed out. "Doctor Bailo," Sierra said with a polite smile. "What kind of mood is Doctor Tohan in today?" She began testing the waters early as she moved closer to the female.

Alessandra Bailo let out a long sigh from both of her mouths. She brought her fingers into a fist and gently bopped the medical droid on its head. Doctor Bailo was falling into a routine around the Retributor. She normally started her day with morning rounds amongst what patients occupied the sickbay. When her droid malfunctioned mid-rounds, she grew frustrated. "I'm the old one here." She grumbled. "I should be malfunctioning, not you." The doctor was good with her people patients...not the mechanical ones. She abandoned her work when she saw Lady Rodney. "Milady." She said, bowing her large hammerhead respectfully. She began making her slow way towards Pilaq's office where she readied to knock. Sierra's question made Alessandra respond with a slow rub of her chin. "...The kind of mood that requires you to be gentle with his heart." She replied nervously. It seemed like he was still recovering from the traumatic birth of Bruce Rodney. Asking no more questions, she knocked at his door. "Doctor Tohan, I believe you have an appointment."

Doctor Tohan was moving from plant to plant in the Imperial sickbay with a taste of Ithorian flavor, going through the process of watering each and every one with the appropriate amount of water. He did this because it reminded him of home, gave him patients that actually cooperated, plus the advantage of the therapeutic benefits of nature. When he heard Doctor Bailo announce he had an appointment, his large, bulbous eyes narrowed and he considered squirting some of the water at whoever had come to disturb him. He placed the water down, and reached for his walking stick, before laboriously walking towards the door. When he reached it, he thrust the stick forward to press the activator, to open the door. "Hmm," he muttered, as he looked towards the woman. "What has happened now?" he asked, already sounding quite weary. He was expecting the worst, which had been par for the course for the House of Rodney.

This was the first time where Sierra honestly felt nervous seeing Pilaq. The kind, old Ithorian had stood up to an Inquisitor for the sake of her and Claudius' son. That topped the long, long list of the things Pilaq had done for the House of Rodney. She offered him a gentle smile. "Oh! Uh, nothing has happened. Nothing bad, anyway..." She stuttered but quickly regained her composure. "I was hoping you could perform Bruce's one month check up." It was a good place to start. Sierra adjusted, grasping at the box for Pilaq. "I brought you this too." She offered it to him with a charming smile on her face. Beneath her uniform, Sierra had begun to sweat. She could clearly imagine the old Ithorian clutching his chest in a heart attack. Her blue eyes lifted from him. She could see Doctor Bailo lingering nearby like she expected Sierra to deliver bad news. It was *worse* than bad news: it was good news.

"Of course. Please bring him towards the table," Pilaq said, as the long digits of his hand tightened around the walking stick and he began to move towards a free table. However, before he got there she offered him a gift. "Oh. Uh. Thank you. Most kind. Most gracious," he said, as he reached out with a free hand and continued on his way. Being too old to wait for anyone or anything he opened the box and discovered some Ithorian delicacies. "Oh. How unexpected, milady," he said, as both smiles began to widen on his distinct hammerhead. He reached into the box and picked up his favorite, devouring it almost in one bite. "Alessandra, treat from home," he said, as he politely offered the box in her direction. "Now let's see the little big man," he said, as his attention shifted to Bruce.

Alessandra was suspicious ... and concerned for Pilaq. When she returned back to her medical droid, she found it in perfect working condition like it had never malfunctioned several hours earlier. She wondered if hitting it had fixed it. Upon hearing her name, Alessandra made her way over to Sierra, Bruce, and Pilaq. Her eyes widened and she, too, began to smile. "Oh, thank you." She plucked up her own favorite treat and consumed it slowly. Since leaving Jubilee, she had not had any authentic Ithorian cuisine. The treat from Sierra was delicious...and it made her even more suspicious! She turned towards Bruce. "My! He's grown so much!" She exclaimed, shocked by his development.

Sierra carefully brought her son out from the baby carrier and rested him on the table. The boy's darkening eyes landed on the Ithorian doctors. The sight of them brought a wide, toothless smile to his face. He reached upward and outstretched his fingers. Sierra lingered near to him. As a mother, she found it necessary to always keep a watchful eye on her children. "You deserve much more than that, Doctor. I haven't had the chance to properly thank you for what you did following the Inquisitor's arrival." Sierra ran her fingers over the blonde fuzz covering Bruce's head. "I can't thank you enough." The old Ithorian had enabled Bruce to stay safe where he belonged.

Doctor Tohan waved his hand at Sierra, dismissing her suggestion that he deserved more. "You honor me, milady, but your husband saved my life when the Empire came to Ithor, and I am forever in his debt, and in the debt of his family," he said to her, as he began examining the boy. He began touching his feet and gauging his basic reflexes while the medical droid began scanning his vital statistics. To his great relief both his examination and the droid confirmed that the young Lord Bruce Rodney was fine. "Your son is an excellent health," he said to Sierra, before confirming it with a nod to Doctor Bailo. He had hoped this was the end of the turmoil that surrounded the youngster, but he was not yet aware of the Emperor and Lord Vader's interest in him.

Sierra wasn't ready to admit that Lord Vader would take her son from her at his fifth birthday. It seemed like if she said it, then she would doom it to come true. As terribly selfish as she was, she wanted the boy to grow up with his family. She watched over the checkup while continuing to speak. "You have repaid your debt time and time again, my friend. You have saved our lives, the lives of other members of the family, and the life of our *son*." She appreciated Pilaq to no end. His words took years off of her. Sierra released tension she didn't know she'd been holding. "Oh, thank you, thank you!" She stepped forward, giving the Ithorian a tight hug. She quickly turned to her son. Her fingertips tickled at his tummy softly just to get him to let out a happy squeal. "You're so healthy. I'm so proud of you, Bruce." Her lips pressed into his forehead. She picked up the boy and turned towards Pilaq. "T-There's something I do need to tell you." Sierra began. Bruce was now intently watching the Doctor.

Pilaq bowed his head politely to Sierra in response to her continued compliments, but did not attempt to dissuade her further. As he watched mother and son he found himself instinctively reaching towards Alessandra, and embracing her forearm gently. He thought the visit was over, and as he was about to return to tending his garden Sierra stopped him. "Oh?" he asked, as he turned to look at her. The sound of her voice and her body language was beginning to signal that there was something wrong. "What is it, milady?" he asked her, his fingers tightening around Alessandra's wrist as he felt he needed the support. He swallowed, which filled the room with an audible flushing noise.

Watching Sierra's interactions with Bruce made Alessandra very happy. She could clearly recall the birth of the boy and how stressed everyone had been over Sierra's early delivery. It was good to see the boy making such strides. She had come to understand that Claudius had been waiting for that boy for a *very* long time. Alessandra's hand came to rest over Pilaq's. She turned her head so he could see her smiles. Both of them quickly disappeared when Sierra made it apparent that she wasn't done. The female Ithorian made herself stand strong. Her hands guided Pilaq to lean into her. She would support him.

Sweat rolled down Sierra's spine. She, too, gulped. "Well," she began. Her throat had become more dry than the deserts of Tatooine. "I. . . I'm pregnant." She rapidly revealed. "I took an at-home test a few weeks ago. It was positive." The young woman felt so nervous revealing this information to Pilaq. "I was hoping you'd be my doctor again, and that you could confirm that the child growing inside of me is well too."

The words that Doctor Tohan heard come out of Sierra's mouth caused all of the blood to flow from his head, making him feel lightheaded and dizzy. "Ohh..." he groaned slightly, as he tightened his hand around both Doctor Bailo and the walking stick. He backed up slowly until he could take a seat at the first opportunity. "Water ... water," he pleaded, as he lowered his head and closed his eyes. "Yes. Yes of course I shall be your doctor," he said, as he looked over at her. "Just give me a moment and I will begin the exam," he assured her, as he began breathing exercises to try and regain his composure.

The news that Sierra delivered was shocking. Alessandra's eyes darted to the woman's stomach, both in shock and amazement that it had happened again so quickly for her. She had to wonder if they were getting any work done upstairs other than expanding the House of Rodney. The woman could feel Pilaq losing his footing and wrapped her arm around him to help him to a chair. She disappeared rapidly to pour him a cup of water, and returned that much quicker. She offered it to him with one hand, while the other was placed on the middle of his back in a gentle form of affection. She looked down at him with a worried expression. "*We* will begin the exam," she corrected. Alessandra had infinite more experience in this than he. "Please, lay down." She instructed Sierra while crouching down to whisper into Pilaq's ear. "Let me conduct the examination." Part of the point of her being there was to take some of the weight off of the old Ithorian's shoulders. Alessandra made her way over to Sierra. "It seems we have no need to discuss birth control options now." Pilaq's sass was rubbing off on her. She began the exam, first by summoning her medical droid to take Sierra's vitals.

Pilaq didn't die. He didn't look good, but the news of her pregnancy hadn't been what killed him. The rest of the tension Sierra was holding disappeared. "Thank you. Claudius and I would see no one else deliver our children." She didn't mind Doctor Bailo at this point, but she would never hold the same weight that Doctor Tohan did in her life. Sierra did as Doctor Bailo instructed and laid back with Bruce on her chest. "It was a few weeks ago, while we were in Delaya, that I took the pregnancy test. My daughter, Ewwiekewwieikkie, told me that there was another Bruce in my 'tummy'. As crazy as it was, I had to check after that." She explained to Alessandra while the woman exposed her womb.

Pilaq reached out to take the cup of the water, and drank it hurriedly as if he had been left to language in the Jundland Wastes. While he was attempting to collect himself he found himself losing his duties to Alessandra, which prompted him to rise up from his chair far sooner than he was ready. With labored breaths he hurried over towards the examining table to join in on the inspection of Sierra. "That girl can smell a cookie two systems away. It should come as no surprise she can detect new life," he said, as he moved to stand beside Sierra's head while Alessandra conducted the examination. "You and Claudius did not waste any time," he commented, with a bit of sass, as it seemed they were heading right back down the wild path of childbirth right again.

She laughed. "You're not kidding. I hid some Wookiee cookies in the house one day. I never thought she'd find them. I was so wrong." Sierra spoke affectionately about her Squibs. She was doing her best to ignore what Alessandra was doing. There was no way for Sierra to maintain control when it came to a baby. She could do everything right and *still* lose the child. What Inquisitor Thrope had done to her had a great impact. She laughed fuller at Pilaq. "Well, considering how much older he is than me...can you really blame us?" Her eyes slowly drifted downward.

Doctor Bailo pressed a unholy cold device against Sierra's womb. Her large hammerhead moved up and down in a nod. "The test you took was correct. You are, indeed, pregnant again. If you aren't taking your prenatal medication, you will need to begin to immediately. You had a problem with iron deficiency during your last pregnancy. The more greens the better." Alessandra ranted. She hoped that this child would wait until the time was right. While she had said nothing at the time, Alessandra had worried that what happened would result in Sierra no longer being capable of conception. She was happy to see she was wrong. "But you, my dear, are doing well so far. It seems this child is on the road to being just as healthy as your son." Alessandra stepped aside to give Pilaq his own chance to examine her. She had wanted him to rest, but it seemed she only cracked the whip.

"Your late mother-in-law was compelled to hire a pastry chef when Ewwiekewwieikkie first arrived on Delaya," Pilaq informed Sierra, reminiscing about the late Duchess Livia Rodney. He did not comment about her sex life with Claudius, but when Doctor Bailo confirmed the pregnancy his eyes widened again. When Doctor Bailo concluded, he moved down the length of the table until arriving at Sierra's midsection. "Who am I to argue with a Squib's nose?" he asked them both, before reaching for the tool and begin his own examination of Sierra. "Yes. Eat healthy," he said, as his hand tightened on the walking stick and slammed the base into the floor to emphasize his words.

A pastry chef. That was a great idea ... and a terrible one at the same time. Sierra imagined the Squibs ordering sweets all day and night until a section of the estate's wall had to taken out in order to get the girls out of the house. She, too, began to think of Livia. There wasn't a day that had gone by where she didn't resent the loss of such an amazing woman and a great influence in her own life. "I will." She promised. "Between Ewwiekewwieikkie and Melickielickie, the girls eat more than enough sweets for all of us." She sighed. Despite all of her efforts, she couldn't seem to get them eating healthy. She had even tried making 'healthy' forms of desserts that they enjoyed. Melickielickie wasn't fooled at all. She simply spat out the veggie-filled brownies and declared them as 'yucky'. Slowly, Sierra began sitting up. She had nothing but good news to report to her husband. "Thank you both. Life is moving smoothly at the moment. Something bad will happen sooner or later, so we best enjoy it."

Alessandra's hand helped the young Rodney woman sit up. She lingered close to Pilaq. "And stay away from that Inquisitor. Do everything you can to hide this from her." She warned. "Return in another month for your next appointment." Alessandra took a step back. She hoped that this family wouldn't be what killed Pilaq. She enjoyed his presence far too much. It would hurt.

Doctor Tohan watched as Alessandra helped Sierra up from the examination table. "Let the Squibs eat their cakes, but you *must* eat your vegetables," he scolded her, sounding more like her grandfather than her physician. "Do not focus on future woes, milady. Live for today," he instructed her, as he allowed Alessandra to escort Sierra from sickbay. He turned his attention back to the box of Ithorian delicacies, now understanding why she had brought them. He again picked out one of his favorites, enjoying the now much needed treat. What an unexpected turn of events this day had brought.

Alessandra took Sierra and her son to the corridor outside of the sickbay. She nodded to Sierra. "Milady, I will see you again soon." She would not take Sierra any further after the bomb that the woman had dropped. She stayed just long enough to watch Sierra disappear, then she made her way back to Pilaq. "What a day."

There were many worries that the visit to the doctors had cleared from Sierra Rodney's head. Against all odds, Bruce was doing well. Against all odds, so was the child she was currently creating. She returned to her office with a skip in her step and a smile on her face. For once, she was going to listen to Pilaq and live in the moment. She didn't think twice about bursting into Claudius' office to deliver the good news. "Honeeyyy, I'm home!" She called out. As if her smile wasn't enough of a sign of good fortune, the tone of her voice was.

At the sound of his wife's voice Grand Moff Claudius Rodney put down the datapad he was reviewing and rose from his seat. He knew his wife was going to sickbay both to have Bruce looked over by the doctors *and* reveal her pregnancy to begin her prenatal care. He had attempted to bury himself in his work to keep from thinking about it, but it had not worked and he had gotten very little done. He moved from his around his desk in a hurry to reach Sierra, but instead his right foot made contact with a Rainbow Rancor plush that had been left out on the floor. "Gaah!" he cried out as he stumbled forward, crashing into the floor face first with a tremendous crash. It had been a long time since he had to look out for children's toys on the floor when moving about his office.

If Claudius had gone with her, it was pretty likely that Pilaq would have whacked him with his walking stick. It was easier to have her husband hide while she took on the brunt of the old Ithorian's sass. Her smile grew as soon as she saw him, but that smile turned to a frown when he crashed into the floor as a result of Bruce's Rainbow Rancor plush. "Claudius!" She quickly set Bruce down in his bassinet, then bent down in front of her husband. "That looked painful." She frowned, offering him both of her hands to help him up. "We can't summon Pilaq. He will come up here and beat you with his stick." She leaned forward to kiss his forehead.

Claudius lay there until Sierra came to assist him, gratefully accepting her assistance in becoming upright. "Oh. It was nothing," he said to her, in an obvious lie, as he smirked at her and began dusting off his uniform. "No. Please don't. Keep that man away from me. He's more dangerous than any Rebel," he said to her, before she placed a kiss upon his forehead. "So ... what news?" he asked her, as he was genuinely concerned about what the doctors found during the examination of both his wife and son. He looked to her, trying to remain optimistic, but there was always a fear in the back of his mind of something going wrong.

"Mhm. *Nothing*." She would have needed to be dumb, deaf, and blind to believe that lie. Instead of making him admit that he was in pain, she led him towards one of the chairs in front of his desk where they could sit together with their knees against one another's. Her hands remained in his. "I actually have a lot of good news. Bruce is doing very well, as am I *and* the child growing within me. I told him. The news certainly seemed to floor Pilaq, but he's agreed to continue being my doctor. Thanks for leaving me to deal with his sass alone." She winked. "There's no other news to report yet. I'm relieved to hear everything is going so well for all of us." Especially Bruce, who Sierra worried endlessly about.

"No need to thank me, my love," Claudius teased, as he was moved to the seating area after his near death experience with his son's fearsome rancor monster. "Doctor Tohan is unharmed then?" he asked her, as he adjusted himself in his seat, becoming more comfortable now that he knew both his wife and child were alright. "I could not be happier," he told her, as he reached across and allowed his hand to come to rest on her knee. "I am glad that last hurdle has been cleared. Now we are free to focus on the birth of our next child," he said, with a broad smile, before reaching for the pitcher of water to pour them each a glass. With that done he was quick to raise the glass to his lips, heartily drinking from it.

"He seemed to be. I left him in the capable hands of Doctor Bailo. It was a good idea to bring him a peace offering. If I get pregnant again, I think something stronger than sweets will be necessary." Sierra laughed. She was happy that good times had settled in over their life again. "Either could I. The appointment with Pilaq was very productive. I didn't realize how much stress I was feeling while worrying about Bruce until Pilaq confirmed that he's healthy." Sierra's hand turned. She squeezed his hand. "I promise next delivery is going to be easier. I never want to put you through what happened with Bruce ever again." She turned, graciously picking up the glass of water. Her throat felt dry from delivering the news to Doctor Tohan. She drank slowly. "What were you doing while I was gone?" She said, eyeing the work left on his desk with a playful grin on her face.

Before Claudius could answer her question there was a beep from the terminal on his desk, indicating that there was an incoming transmission. "That's a promise I'm going to hold you to," he told her, before turning to look over his shoulder at his desk. "While you were gone?" he asked her, as he turned his attention back to her. "The same thing I do *every* time you're gone ... wait for you to come back," he said, before he leaned over to place a kiss upon her. "I'm sorry," he said, quietly, before rising up from the seating area and moving back towards his desk. When he arrived he looked down and saw it was an incoming transmission from Governor Arundel of Delaya. "Papius," he said to Sierra, in an angry tone, before he allowed himself to settle back into his seat. Reluctantly he moved his hand forward, pressing the button that activated the transmission.

The holographic projector embedded into Claudius' desk activated and a moment later a blue holographic projection of Governor Papius Arundel appeared in the seat opposite Grand Moff. "Ah. Governor Rodney," he said, with a smirk, and an arrogant tone in his voice. "I bring news from your home planet of Delaya," he said, with a confident shake of his head, as he relished in reminding him of the fact that he was in the man's home. "I was actually attempting to reach Major Rodney," he said, before looking for a hint of her presence. "The trial of your cousin, Lord Gaius Rodney, disgraced former commander of the Alderaan Guard, is set to begin," he continued, as he folded his hands neatly in his lap. "I request the presence of Major Rodney to oversee the trial, as this is a matter suited for the Imperial Security Bureau," he continued, biting down upon his lower lip to keep from showing too much enthusiasm. "As she was targeted by the man on numerous occasions I thought she might relish the opportunity," he added, dangling Gaius like a carrot to draw his prey.

"Hm?" She looked towards the terminal on his desk. Who was trying to reach her husband now? Hopefully not Pilaq, who was capable of resorting to transmitting his sass instead of making his way all the way up to their joint offices. His answer to her question brought the smile back to her face. She leaned back in her seat to relax and drink. "You're lost without me." She said it teasingly, but it was *she* who was lost without him. It was wonderful to provide him assistance in his work life and otherwise. "Don't be." She mouthed to his apology. He was the Grand Moff, after all. He had work to do.

*Papius* he said. Papius was transmitting to him. What could the sinister pervert possibly want now? Sierra instinctively folded her arms over her chest and crossed her legs. She watched the projection of the man she hated so much appear. He looked so full of himself. The narcissistic Governor of Delaya looked as if he'd found himself a fine bone...and it better be fine for him daring to contact Claudius. Seeing him made her angry. Hearing him made it worse. He had, indeed, found himself a bone by the name of Gaius Rodney. Sierra had taken the first step to justice by arresting him. She had assumed that she would not be allowed to partake in the trial, but now Papius was requesting otherwise. She saw this for what it was: a trap. The first step on Delaya forced her to step outside of Claudius' jurisdiction... and his protection. Sierra felt the pull towards justice. Gaius was directly responsible for Julius' death and indirectly responsible for the death of Livia. His list of crimes was lengthy. Could she give the House of Rodney what it needed.

"I'm here, Governor." She said, neither sounding pleased or unhappy. Sierra rose. She rounded Claudius' desk but remained behind his seat as to not allow the man to look on much of her body. "I would, indeed, enjoy to see my cousin dealt repercussions for his actions." She looked down at Claudius. Her gut feeling said this was a bad idea. She was morally obliged to make sure that Gaius wasn't set free to terrorize the family again. "I will oversee the trial under the stipulation that I will bring my own security detail." She answered. Her voice sounded confident. Inside, she had her fears.

Claudius did not like the idea one bit, but before he could answer his wife responded, and despite his disagreement he felt it important to present a united front. He grit his teeth and curled his hands upon the desk, all the while glaring at the holographic projection of the man who had caused them no end of trouble. If he had his way he would send an entire legion of Stormtroopers with her. He was trying to steady his breathing ... trying not to make a display that the Governor could use later.

"Oh how wonderful," Gaius said, as he looked up to Sierra who was hiding behind her husband in such a cute manner. "Yes. By all means. Bring that sorry excuse for a Mandalorian. With her history of wanton destruction of the castle, firing off rockets, I'm sure you'll be perfectly safe," he added, with a soft chuckle. "See you soon," he said, before flashing a smile at Sierra and delicately waving each of his fingers individually at her. With that the holographic image faded away, as he had much to do in terms of preparation.

Sierra remained composed as long as it took for the holographic image to disappear. She was haunted by the visage of the man, forcing herself to close her eyes and shake her head until it dissipated into nothingness. Both of her hands landed on Claudius' shoulders. It seemed like she was leaning into him to stop herself from falling over. Inside her breast, her heart was beating very quickly. "I have to do it," she immediately jumped into justifying her actions not just to her husband, but also to herself. "Gaius will slip through the cracks. Papius will see that he's released if I don't do *something*." Delaya had stopped being safe once Papius Arundel settled on the planet. She didn't want to think of what would happen this time. "The family has waited far too long to see Gaius suffer for what he did." Julius... Livia... Gaius had attempted to murder them so many times.

"That man," Claudius said, angrily, before raising his right hand and then slamming it back down upon his desk. The only thing keeping him from a complete outburst was the presence of his wife's hands on his shoulders. "I know you *have* to," he replied, with a defeatist attitude, as she began to recount the many crimes that his cousin committed against his family. The loss of his parents was still an open wound that was never getting a chance to heal. He lowered his head, bringing both of his hands up to support it. "He must be put to death," he said, coldly, of the man responsible for the death and injury of everyone that mattered to him. His only regret was that he could not pull the trigger himself.

It always seemed like Governor Arundel had a new trick up his sleeves in which to case trouble with. The wound that the death of his parents had left behind was never going to heal with Gaius still out there. Sierra wanted to provide the family with closure. "There is no more fitting sentence for him than death." The man had inflicted far too much pain. Life in prison wasn't enough. "What are my chances of getting him reassigned to your jurisdiction after he's sentenced?" She asked. Her hands gravitated upward through his hair, grasping at his hands. She guided him to his feet, then on towards the sofa in the sitting area of his office. She sat first, then persuaded him to sit with his head in her lap where her finger could dig into his scalp. She wasn't going to leave him riled up like this. She wouldn't even leave for Delaya until the morning.

"With any other Governor professional courtesy might have caused him to deliver Papius into our midst," Claudius explained, but he knew there was no professionalism when it came to Governor Arundel or Grand Moff Praji. Before he knew it he was up and on the move again, but this time without tripping over anything, which was a small miracle with Bruce's toys and datapads piled up everywhere. As his head settled into her lap he closed his eyes and tried to relax, but until she began to rub his scalp that just was not possible. "Everything will be okay," he told her, as he exhaled in a relaxed sigh. "...but I would prefer if you did not take Bruce to Delaya," he asked of her, uncertain of how she would react.

"Professional courtesy; two words that are *not* in that man's vocabulary." She had no doubt that Papius would harass her even more if she wasn't hiding behind her husband. As strong as a woman as she was, Papius had made her feel miserable. "Everything will be okay," she repeated back to him. It seemed those were words that they both needed to hear. Her fingers continued their gentle, relaxing work. She knew Bruce couldn't come with her. It wasn't safe. At the same time, Sierra was closely bonded with her son. She would only be able to leave him knowing that he was in the capable hands of his father. "I... I would too. Papius hates our family. He wouldn't think twice about doing something to our son." She looked downward at him. "I hate leaving you both. I don't like it when we are separated. Can't I just hide you somewhere and bring you with me?" She laughed softly ... she wasn't kidding.

"Hmm. I *could* pull a page out of your playbook and disguise myself as a mercenary or Storm commando, *but* if I were discovered the Emperor's advisor has made the consequences clear," Claudius informed his wife, although the risk was not so great that it made him consider not going with her. "Though I confess I might not be of much use, as I've not had to fire a blaster since the Clone Wars," he said, with a soft chuckle as he imagined himself in full armor trying to blast away their enemies.

Sierra grumbled. Indeed she recalled that last meeting with the Emperor's advisor and all the unpleasantness that came with it. Claudius had come to her aid with the Retributor. Sierra didn't doubt that he'd do it again if he believed something were wrong, which would result in serious trouble. She looked down at him and grinned. "Oooh, something tells me if Papius gave you the grounds to shoot him, it would be the perfect shot." Sierra's fingers toyed with his hair while she giggled. "Disguise yourself and come with me. We'll have Kerrie fill in for you while you're gone to avoid suspicion. I'm sure she will welcome some time away from the estate only caring for one child." Her hands continued down his face. "As selfish as it is, I don't want to be away from you. I worry Papius will prolong the trial to keep me isolated on Delaya. He's going to make this trial as difficult as he can for me. I would much prefer you were there by my side, even if your skills with a blaster are lacking." She winked as she teased him.

When Sierra endorsed his idea of traveling to Delaya in disguise he moved his hand over his stomach, wondering if he could still fit into a suit of armor. "Alright, my love. I'll come with you. I don't want to be away from you either," he said to her, as he closed his eyes, and moved dangerously close to falling asleep with her lap becoming the most comfortable pillow he had ever experienced. "I'll be at your side. No matter how difficult Governor Arundel makes it for us," he said, before rolling over onto his back so he could look up at her. "You are smarter and more capable than him. He will not succeed at whatever it is this is really about," he explained to her, as he smiled affectionately up at her.

There was no doubt in Sierra's mind that her time on Delaya would be trying. It was best that Claudius agreed to come. She felt as if she functioned better when he was close in every way. The codependency that had formed between them was immense, but she felt no need to stop it. One of her hands came to rest on his chest while the other remained in his hair like she was trying to tempt him into a midday nap. "Thank you, my love. Regardless of whatever motive Governor Arundel has, I will get the justice our family deserves." She promised him, bending down deeply to steal a kiss. "I can't wait to see you in armor." There was a twinkle in her eye. The wheels inside of her head were already turning. She had so much evidence against Gaius that death was surely to be the only verdict for him. Sierra sat back and sunk into the couch. She was as happy as a lark.

After the kiss broke, Claudius turned his head to look at the chronometer. "Hmm. I wonder if there's time to hit the gym," he said, as his hand again came to rest on his stomach. "Nevermind. Let's go home," he told her, as he reluctantly rose his head and came into a position sitting next to her. "We should be home just in time to catch the end of the Rainbow Rancor," he told her, as he rose back to his feet, but not before checking the path to the door on the floor. He turned, offering her his hand, to help her up. He was going home, but the true purpose of his journey was beyond his understanding for now. He needed to get to the bottom of this, but more than that ... he needed to be sure Sierra remained safe.

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