"No. I won't
go," Mug Zoran, said in a pout, as he sat in the
window seat and looked out at the distant city of
Leiliani down the mountains. "You can't make me
either," he said, folding his arms in front of his
chest in stubborn fashion. Ever since Callista had
returned from her unauthorized shopping spree with
Claudius' children the request for a tea party had
been on the forefront of his mind. He did not want
to meet his older half-brother, Claudius, the
Imperial Grand Moff ... he hated everyone that wore
the Imperial uniform ... *everyone*. The Empire had
destroyed Alderaan and taken his mother's life,
along with billions of other Alderaanians. Then, to
rub salt in the wound, those who had been off world
when the planet was destroyed had been collected in
a poor refugee camp and denied basic food and
essentials by the oppressive Imperial regime. Even
though he knew it would be a tremendous
disappointment to his adopted daughter, Callista, he
did not want to expose his family to the Imperial
guests in the palace. He was in the faction that did
not want an Imperial Governor to ascend to the
Duchy, even if it meant acknowledging his father and
taking the title for himself. He sighed, unable to
look at Iyah, and instead was focused on drawing on
the window condensation. It seemed, today, Iyah had
two children to deal with.
come home with much to say about Claudius' children,
as well as Claudius himself. In her innocent mind,
he was just another person to play with.... And
another person to invite to tea parties, which is
exactly why they were in this predicament. She'd
made a special invitation for Claudius and slid it
underneath his door. Though he hadn't RSVP'd by
sending a flying dragon to her window, as her letter
stated in between horrible misspellings, she
believed he was going to show up. She was bouncing
up and down in Iyah and Mug's room. "Pweasepweasepweasepweeeeeeeeassssssssseeeeeeeeeeeee!"
She begged, dropped into her knees dramatically.
So it seemed
Iyah had two children. Mug, singing the I-don't-wanna-you-can't-make-me
song and Callista, desperately begging at her feet
for them to attend. The Commander wasn't pleased
with the situation. If her identity as a Rebel
Commander leaked to Claudius, who's to say what
would happen. She was doing her best to aid in Mug's
efforts to become the Duke, not squash them. She
perched herself on the window seat beside her
fiancee. She joined in with his window art, adding
to his picture so that they could create something
great together. "I don't want to do this either,"
she commented, looking at him. Derek had died on the
very same Star Destroy where Claudius reigned as
Grand Moff. "This isn't a *want* to do kind of
thing, it's something we *have* to do for the
greater good. If he becomes the Duke, those people
in Tarkintown will be screwed. You have to play nice
to save them." She understood Mug's feelings.
Alderaan was gone. In Iyah's mind, there was a clear
side to blame for that. Her other hand landed on his
knee, squeezing it softly. "We only have to play
nice for a little longer. Endure a tea party with
the man. We'll be able to watch him leave soon." She
leaned forward to kiss him on the cheek.
sealed the deal. "One cup," he said, as he raised
his right index finger at Iyah, the very same he had
been drawing with moments earlier, to signify the
number one. He let out a tremendous sigh that fogged
up the window again, rising up from the window seat
and looking down towards Callista. "Lead on,
Princess," he said, as he took Iyah by the arm and
began to follow their adopted daughter towards the
tea party. If he were not a contender for the Duchy
with the lives of all Tarkintown at stake, he might
have considered assassinating the Imperial. It would
be a real coup for the Rebellion to eliminate an
Imperial Grand Moff. "Did you see all the stuff she
came home with?" he whispered, uncomfortably to Iyah.
"We can't afford to pay for any of that stuff," he
said, still thinking in terms of their meager Rebel
paychecks. This was going to be the worst tea party
Callista cheered, jumping up into the air. She
patted her pretty pink dress down to make herself
look more ladylike. "One cup," Iyah repeated. One
cup was going to be more than enough. They could
mention nothing of their lives as Rebels. Her hand
moved into Mug's like she thought she might need to
be his human anchor should he decide to take flight,
or try to assassinate the Grand Moff on the spot.
The temptation had crossed the Commander's mind. In
an instant, she could slay someone who she hated,
who so many other people hated. She'd instantly
become a war hero. Unfortunately, this Imperial
Grand Moff was eventually going to be her
brother-in-law. Maybe his head would make a fitting
honeymoon present for Mug? She sighed. Callista had
taken to leading the way. She freely danced down the
hallways like she was the grand ballerina. Iyah
wished she could be so innocent minded.
his hand. "Don't worry. We'll figure all of that
out." She had spent nearly everything getting
Callista settled into her new life. Iyah had her own
financial worries, only she was trying to conquer
them as they came up.
in the Grand Moff's suite. She was looking at the
adorable picture that Callista had sent through the
door. This one pictured her and someone that looked
remotely like Claudius (only he was wearing neon
colored clothing) having an ice cream war. It had
taken one hell of a long shower to get all the ice
cream out of her hair after taking the girl's out.
She couldn't imagine how much it sucked for
Ewwiekewwieikkie. They had returned to the castle in
a total mess. "I think it's time for you to meet
your half-brother. You can't deny an invitation like
this." She flipped the paper over. The scribbly
lettering was almost impossible to read. She could
see the time. It looked like someone had helped her
write that (likely Farrah). There was also a picture
of a winged creature carrying a scroll. It was the
very first time where Sierra thought about having
children for the sake of *having* children. Callista
was a special kind of adorable. It was easy for the
child to wheedle her way into people's hearts.
sitting in a large chair with his feet on a small
cushion in front of it and an antique quilt draped
over his lap. He had been resting ever since he
found out he had a half-brother and then
investigating the refugee camp, where he had taken
an awful blow to the head. He looked towards the
children's drawing and initially smiled, but then
frowned as he remembered a time when Jelena used to
do such things ... back when her mother was alive.
"Do I have to meet the bastard?" he asked her,
having grown increasingly more reliant on her since
arriving on Delaya. "Will you come with me?" he
asked, as he sat up in his chair with a soft groan,
bringing his hand up to rub the back of his head ...
there was still a knot. As he stood, he pulled down
his grey-green tunic to adjust his uniform so that
it was perfect. He extended his right arm to her, to
begin escorting her towards the momentous occasion.
"I will not take 'no' for an answer," he said to
her, as they moved towards the corridor towards
where he had discovered Callista the other day. In
the distance he saw the trio approaching and if
Sierra were not holding his arm, he likely would
have turned around and fled.
walking slowly behind his overenthusiastic adopted
daughter as they moved towards the tear party. Down
the corridor he could see his half-brother in that
vile uniform and he decided he had made the wrong
decision and that he hated the man. "One cup," he
reminded Iyah, as he moved to greet him. He
immediately suspected the blonde at his arm was in a
romantic tryst with him, as that was corrupt
Imperial officers did. The irony was that Claudius
and Sierra had not yet made love, whereas he had
been screwing *his* commanding officer from almost
the beginning. "Greetings ... *brother*," he said,
nearly choking on the words, and offering neither a
handshake or a bow. "I am Mug. This lovely woman is
my fiancé, Iyah, and I believe you know our
daughter, Callista ... she certainly knows you," he
said, to awkward silence, which was only broken by
the sound of a chair being dragged against the floor
as he pulled it out for Iyah. No matter how hot the
tea was he was going to drink it down in one gulp.
over the picture at him. "Yes, you have to. I order
you to," the young girl snickered. "Share one cup of
tea with the man and we can leave. I think it's good
for you to meet the man who intends to succeed your
father." She worried about his head and considered
ratting him out to Pilaq Tohan. "It still hurts,
doesn't it? Let me look at it when all this is over.
This meeting is only going to make your head hurt
worse." She did not intend to accompany him to meet
his bastard. She had a more relaxing afternoon
planned. One in which she utilized the large tub in
her suite...one which never happened. She was roped
up in Claudius' arm before she could scamper away.
Her arm hooked in with his comfortably. "You owe me
one..." A joy ride on the speeder bike sounded like
a pretty good way for him to pay her back.
sight of Callista, then her parents much too soon.
What do you say to your father's bastard? *Hey,
Daddy's semen made us both!* No. There was no
Halmark card created for such an occasion. Sierra's
grasp on Claudius seemed to tighten, as if reminding
him that he couldn't abandon her right now. It was
much easier for her to play the nice girl. She
smiled. "It's lovely to finally meet both of you. My
name is Sierra. I've had the pleasure of spending
time with your daughter. She's a very sweet little
spotted Claudius first. She squeaked. "Uncle!" The
little girl sprung down the rest of the length of
the hallway towards them. She first greeted Claudius
with a big, tight hug. Next, she squeezed Sierra.
"Auntie! Have you seen Ewwie!? Is she wearing her
friendship bracelet? She's my *bestest* friend
ever!" She lifted her arm up, showing Sierra the
gaudy bracelet that her and Ewwie had selected.
It made Iyah
sick to her stomach to see her daughter loving on
the Imperials. She wanted to hide Callista away from
all of them. The tension filled the air the very
instant they were all together. "Hello, Lord
Claudius, Lady Sierra. Callista has told us so
much." Iyah wanted to throw up in her mouth... or
grab her tea spoon and use it to dismantle both
Imperial officers. Instead, she smiled. She had a
difficult time lowering herself into her chair. It
seemed everyone anticipated the end of this tea
party. Iyah picked up the kettle, pouring drinks for
her, Mug, and Iyah. The water was steaming. Damn it.
looked down at Callista and returned her hug,
wondering how he could explain to the young girl
that Sierra was not her aunt. In the end, he decided
it best to simply say nothing and not confuse her
further. When he was done with Callista his
attention turned to Iyah, blissfully ignorant to the
fact that she was a Commander in the Rebellion. "My
dear, your daughter is lovely," he said politely, as
he reached out with his hand, bowing, and placing a
soft kiss upon the top of her hand. His attention
next to turned his half-brother ... the resemblance
was uncanny and he could not protest the family
connection. "I welcome you to *my* home ... Mug," he
said, finding it difficult to even speak the name.
He wanted to make a comment about the man's name,
but bringing up the sore subject of the man's mother
would be a mistake. Damn his father for not being
able to control his urges, he thought, as he sat
beside the beautiful young blonde who had been
escorting him around the planet and was noticeably
*not* his wife.
daughter call Claudius 'uncle' was a bitter pill to
swallow, even if it were factually correct. "Thank
you for your kindness towards are daughter, and for
allowing her to be included in the children's
excursion to the city," he said, politely, as he
took the first sip of his hot tea. "A palace can be
a difficult place for a child to grow up," he said,
with a slight dig at the man's upper crust status,
as he took another sip. He was drinking the hot tea
as quickly as someone drank an iced tea. "Thank you,
to you, too," he said, to the woman in the ISB
officer, whose eyes he could not look into. The only
thing worse than someone in the Imperial Military
was someone in the ISB. Why had Iyah had poured him
such a large cup of tea? Was she torturing him?
Callista. She *had* to call her Auntie, didn't she?
Sierra felt embarrassed and frazzled. If whatever
sat between them was obvious to a child, then what
did the adults think? She had avoided spending any
time with Claudius' wife. Perhaps the ISB officer's
hole of guilt went deeper than it seemed. She was
thinking more than Iyah was. When she poured
Claudius a cup of tea, she made sure it was less
than half full. She mocked the same behavior for her
own, then dropped in roughly ten pounds of sugar
Iyah needed to
wash her hand. No. She needed to burn the clothing
off of her body after spending time with these
pieces of human scum. She saw how much Claudius and
Mug looked alike. It made it difficult to look at
the man in fear that her sex life would die for
months. "Thank you, Lord Rodney. We'd never dreamed
of staying anywhere like this. It was such a freak
incident." And one that she shouldn't have brought
up. Open mouth, insert foot. The Rebellion was
deeply seeded in her life. They wouldn't have been
here without it. Beneath the table, her foot tapped
Mug's. *Behavvveee* her eyes said. He was taking
down that steaming hot tea like a champion. Iyah was
far behind him. She'd barely taken a sip. "So...
Callista has been over the moon about your
daughters. I hope she treated them well." Iyah felt
so awkward. She wished she could sneak underneath
the table and disappear. Claudius couldn't know who
they really were.
And then there
was Callista, who happily sat herself far too close
to Claudius. "Wanna come see my room after tea
time?" She asked him, gently tugging on his arm.
There was blue hair absolutely *everywhere* from
Callista inviting Ewwie over. "Can Ewwie spend the
night tonight? We got all messy with lots of ice
cream on us yesterday. Mama said I needed a
lonnnngggg bath so she couldn't sleep with me last
night." She giggled. She would never forget it.
"Auntie Sierra got so messy too! Ewwie was licking
the ice cream off of her all the way home. Did you
have to take a long bath too, Auntie?"
"Yes. I heard
about your *accident*," Claudius began, before
taking a delicate sip of tea. As he raised the cup
he extended his pinky finger and was extra careful
to ensure he did not slurp. "It was fortunate you
were there when you were, to both save our father,
and discover your true identity," he said, as
reached forward to pluck a starfuit scone. "One
thing I did not see in the reports," he continued,
taking a break in speaking to finish the scone.
"What caused you to see our father? You didn't know
he was your father at the time..." he continued, but
his interrogation was halted by Callista. "I am not
sure if I will have time to see your room, my dear,"
he said, as he shifted the gaze of his brown eyes
towards the youngest person at the table. "You will
need to ask your parents of Ewwiekwwieikkie can stay
over, but I've no objection," he said, as his eyes
went towards Iyah for her tacit approval. Unexpected
he moved to refill his tea ... he was settling in as
there was no such serving in his old room.
Mug sat there,
deciding that it was best not to cause confrontation
due to Callista's innocent mind and the fact that
she had become enamored with her new family. She had
gone from abandoned in the refugee camp to becoming
a member of the first family of Delaya ... what a
whirlwind she had been on lately. When he asked why
he was with the Duke his face went white, and his
eyes descended into the cup of tea. His foot moved
under the table towards Iyah in a desperate effort
to find help. Before he answers he moved to grab one
of the scones, placed it in his mouth, and bit off
more than he can chew. Suddenly he was choking on
the crumbs of the dry pastry ... forcing a dramatic
incident was the only thing he could think of delay
answering the Governor's very pertinent question.
Mama?! Can she!? Please!" Callista was oblivious to
the tense situation growing at the table. She
received a large triumph when Iyah nodded her head
and agreed. Her little fist flew into the air. "Yayyy!"
As if she didn't already *love* Claudius, the sight
of him properly holding out his pinky did her in.
Her bright smile lit up the whole table, but it
wasn't enough to draw away the dark clouds that had
settled over them. She danced out of her chair to
talk to Sierra about all the grand events that had
happened yesterday. In Sierra's mind, the
conversation was going pretty well. She didn't feel
overly confident about these two taking over. At the
current moment, her role was to make sure things
remained human between the bastard and his brother.
She kindly spoke with Callista.
promptly put them in a corner. The Grand Moff's
question was answered with blankness. It was a hard
question to answer when you really *didn't* have a
reason to be there. Surely, this question was
destined to come up. She should have had an answer
on deck for it. In her defense, Iyah's mind was a
little bit preoccupied by everything going on. She
was busy fighting Gaius off, not this man.
What the hell?
Who was playing foostie with her? Sierra's cheeks
turned red. Was that..? Her head turned towards
Claudius suspiciously. No way. It was the bastard?
Maybe Iyah, the woman? If it was Claudius, then she
didn't understand the message.
choking! Oh no! Iyah hadn't realized that he had
purposely made himself choke. It seemed like just
the freak incident to pop up at the moment. Not
thinking, Iyah jolted upward. Her mashed against the
table roughly. "Ouch!" The table tipped uneasily
towards Sierra and Claudius. Iyah was busily moving
behind Mug. She wrapped her arms around his waist.
Was she really saving him? If he choked on a pastry,
at least he could die with something yummy in his
mouth. She could kill the Grand Moff after that.
of tea splashed over, sending hot liquid running
down the table and into her lap. Instead of
acknowledging the pain, she grabbed the table and
evened it out. While chaos ensued around them, she
picked up her empty teacup and looked at Claudius.
"One cup." It was time to go.
on the verge of getting answers out of his
half-brother when the imbecile began choking on the
scone. He rolled his eyes at the conveniently times
calamity, when Iyah suddenly had upended the table
on him, covering his newly pressed Imperial uniform
with tea and cream. He rose swiftly, throwing his
arms up in the air, and shouting angrily. His
attention first turned to Sierra, to ensure she was
alright, and then he looked over towards the
bastard. "Miss Xergo, I leave him in your assuredly
excellent care," he said, as he offered a nod
towards the young woman. "Fare thee well, Callista,"
he said, with a wink, and a dignified wave, before
he proceeding back towards his section of the castle
to clean himself once again.
to choke on the scone when the table suddenly went
flying, the shock of which caused him to spit out
what was left of the pastry on the ground in front
of them. When Claudius and Sierra were out of sight,
he turned to Iyah with a wink. "That was *too*
close," he said to her, as he began to raise himself
back up to his feet to return to the opposite side
of the castle. "Did you enjoy your tea party,
Callista?" he asked her, as he reached down to scoop
her up. With his fiancé at his side, and their
daughter in his arms, he beat a hasty retreat. He
would make it a point to avoid his half-brother
during the rest of his stay on Delaya. Hopefully he
would be quick to leave following his daughter's
memorial and expected abdication.
Mama and Daddy
sure were acting silly with each other! She giggled
during the whole affair, entirely oblivious to the
fact that Sierra had just burnt her thighs and that
her father had nearly choked. It was the *best* tea
party yet. She happily nuzzled her face against her
father's. "I did! Thank you, Daddy! Thank you, Mama!
Let's do it again tomorrow!"