Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:5:34) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Leiliani: Rodney Castle).
Governor Papius Arundel, Duke Marcus Rodney, and Duchess Zara Rodney.

A week of parenthood had gone by in a joyous blur for Zara Rodney. She didn't mind the fact that she wasn't sleeping through the night because she enjoyed every moment she spent with her twins. Zara's recovery was moving very rapidly. Per her week postpartum check up this morning, everything was going well. She wouldn't see Doctor Tohan again until a month had passed. Sia and Darrus had also been promptly checked out. They were both right on schedule and gaining weight accordingly. Zara couldn't be any happier. This was all good news.

It was beautiful day outside so Zara decided to take advantage of it. Rather than making Marcus travel down the many stairs to the garden, she had set up a nice picnic for her family on the balcony. The twins were settled on a comfortable, thick blanket on the ground a safe distance away from any kind of danger. Both were awake on their backs, simply looking around at the bright world around them. Darrus' feet were in the air. Zara sat beside them both. She had a leg from the latest version of Marcus' exoskeleton which she hoped would be an upgrade, and less painful, than the one he currently used. Her hydrospanner screwed a piece into place as the proud mother grinned. Above them, a thranta cried out as it glided over the castle. Zara's eyes glanced down at their children. Her heart swooned every time she looked at them. "What are you doing!?" She said to them, placing a playful kiss on Sia's forehead and then one to Darrus' tummy. The little boy let out a happy shrill.

While he was technically Duke of Delaya the only title that Marcus Rodney aspired to was 'father'. He had spent the past week watching every movement of his twins. He had made the hard decision of allowing Governor Papius Arundel go unchecked, instead he was content to be a father, selfishly protecting his own children and ignoring his people. "Aren't they wonderful?" he asked Zara for the thousandth time. Every time be looked at them he saw something new and amazing. He was captivated by them completely. Until he met Zara he never expected to be a father, and now she had blessed him twice over. "I still can't believe it," he said, as his head momentarily turned away from the babies to look at Zara with a dopey smile plastered upon his face.

The arrival of the twins had wrapped them in an ignorant bliss. As long as Marcus and their babies were safe, the rest of the galaxy could suffer. Zara's attention had not strayed from her family. Responsibilities could wait. Family was all that mattered to her. Drawing her face up from Darrus, she looked towards her husband. "Absolutely. They're perfect." They were both in love with the Rodney family's latest addition. She could feel Darrus' small hand brush through her silver hair as she withdrew from it. He tried to grab it, but didn't have the motor skills to succeed *yet*. Zara sat back. She set aside her project to instead pay attention to Marcus. She embraced him tightly. Without her tummy, it was much easier to get closer to him. "I can't either. No matter how much I logically understood that we were having babies, seeing them was insanity..." Zara said in awe. "You're the best daddy ever, just like I thought you'd be." She kissed that dopey grin of his. She wished, more than anything else, that they could remain in a bubble of safety.

Marcus Rodney's seeker droids suddenly emerged on the scene with blankets, doing their best to comfort the infants Sia and Darrus. "Are you sure they're perfect?" a very nervous and erratic first time father asked. "I still can't believe that *we* created these children," he said, gawking down at them, and hanging on their every move. "I'm the best daddy? Well if that's so it's only true because you're the best mommy," he said, as he wrapped his arm around her while staring down at their children. "Did you see that the children were each given an Auntie Mae's flavor in their honor?" he asked, sounding a bit irritated at the notion. That ice cream impresario was getting rich off their celebrity.

Sia reached out her hands towards one of her father's droids. She gave it a large, toothless smile. Darrus, on the other hand, was still playing with his feet. He was enamored by the world around him. Zara squeezed Marcus. "Yup! I'm sure. You don't get much more perfect than them. Doctor Tohan said that they are right on track." She understood. She'd been nervous before Pilaq came to see to the twins. Zara leaned into him as they all sat together. She had been so worried that she would be a bad mother, but it seemed that she took to motherhood very easily. It made her giddy to hear him call her the best mommy ever. Marcus' opinion was the only one that mattered. Her little nose twitched as he brought up Auntie Mae's. Her eyes rolled. "I saw... Did you see the most recent 'passion fruit sorbet' commercial? When our private moments got leaked on the HoloNet, I didn't realize anyone would ever be able to use them to sell ice cream. We should make her stop." She grumbled. Hadn't the woman capitalized enough on the royal family? Zara's eyes fell back to their children. They made her smile so much. "Doctor Tohan said I'm doing good too. I feel pretty normal again. It's almost weird not having them kicking me all the time and being able to fit in normal-sized clothing. Since I'm able to move around better, I'm making you a brand spankin' new exoskeleton."

"I'm sorry, my love, but the attorneys tell me because of the public way I lived my life I have no grounds for a lawsuit against Auntie Mae," Marcus replied with a deep, profound sigh. "That woman is free to profit off us to her heart's content. Everything we do seems to only put more credits in that woman's pocket," he reported, finding the whole situation at both irritating *and*humorous. "I'm glad you're doing well, but let's face it ... it's all about the twins from this moment on," he teased, as he nudged her gently with his elbow. "A new exoskeleton?" he asked, as the current one was causing him quite a bit of discomfort after extended use. "Anything would be most helpful. We won't be able to keep the Governor at bay much longer," he warned, as all of his attention was focused on their twins.

Zara patted his back. "It's okay. We can destroy her from the inside. I'll hack into the franchise and..." She winked. Taking down Auntie Mae was more trouble than it was worth. "At least her ice cream is actually good. Mmm purple sweet potato ice cream." It seemed that Zara's pregnancy craving had decided to stay. She giggled, shrugging her shoulders. "You know... That's fair. If there's two people in the world I don't mind losing you to, it's these guys." Zara released Marcus so she could sit forward and carefully scoop Sia up from the blanket. Darrus sat, staring like he was wondering when it would be his turn for snuggles. Zara sat back with Sia. The little baby girl planted her hands on her mother's shoulders and tried to push off, attempting to hold up her head though she wasn't capable of doing it for a long time yet. She rested against Zara, drooling on her mother's shoulder. "I think the new one will be better. The old one was built in such a rush. There's so much I could have done to make it better." She made an audible growl at the mention of the Governor. "It's unfortunate that he didn't die the last time the Rebels attacked... I guess we'll have to deal with him. With all the evil that pumps through his veins, I'm surprised he hasn't come to see us." It was going to take Rebel intervention to get Papius out of Delaya. It was the only way her and Marcus could protect their babies *and* save their people.

"We've made a monster out of that woman with our endorsement of her product," Marcus confided, as his attention remained focused on their children. "I am grateful for any help you can provide, Zara, although I do admit I would like to be up and walking before our children," he confessed, with some vulnerability as his gaze alternated between the twins and his wife. He had everything he wanted, and he was eternally grateful.

And then, as if on cue, a group of Imperial Stormtroopers in their iconic white armor entered the room. Once it was secure Governor Papius Arundel arrived, with a cunning look upon his face. "Your Grace," he said, as he strode into the room, before coming to a stop in the center of the room. "On behalf of His Majesty, the Emperor, I come to officially bless your children," he said, with some level of repugnance in his voice. He felt fortunate to have a drunk playboy like Marcus as planetary leader now, as he felt the man would do little to interfere with Imperial authority. However, he was not here for the short time, he was here to ensure the Empire would rule Delaya *forever*. And that meant the young Darrus Rodney would one day become Duke under Imperial authority, and so he had come to see him with his own eyes.

Zara offered him a supportive smile. Her free hand squeezed one of his. "You will. I'm gonna make sure of it. I need someone to help me chase after our children." She winked, turning her head to cuddle the small Sia. Their family time was interrupted by the abrupt arrival of Governor Arundel. Zara used her foot to kick the new exoskeleton out of view. "Shoo!" She yelled at Marcus' seeker droids. She then, rapidly, yet carefully, picked up Darrus and cradled him against her chest in the same way she did with Sia. Her hackles were raised. The defensive new mother glared at Papius. She wasn't going to let him touch either her son or daughter. She looked at Marcus. Play the fool, she reminded herself. For Papius Arundel didn't know what they were capable of. "Governor Arundel... Thank you for coming." Zara said quietly as she began to rise to her feet. "It is very kind of you.." The teenager felt increasingly uncomfortable with him being close.

Governor Arundel did not want to be there anymore than Marcus and Zara wanted him to be there, but he had his orders from the Emperor himself. "You should consider yourselves truly blessed," he explained, with a firm nod of his head. "His Imperial.Majesty wishes me to extend his heartfelt congratulations on the birth of your children, Darrus and Sia, who will no doubt go on to govern the planet with great success," he explained, as he moved forward, to glimpse the two babies. "His Majesty also wishes to inform you that hs is to welcome young Sia to court when she comes of age," he said, with a look towards Zara, as he revealed the Emperor's intentions towards her children.

Blessed? Yeah *right*. Zara felt like she'd been cursed with the presence of Papius before he started talking. Now she regretted the fact that he could even stand before them and speak. Zara remained standing with the twins, neither letting Papius see them easily nor stepping backwards in attempt to get away from him. She could feel Sia gnawing on her shoulder again while Papius delivered his big news; the Emperor wanted to welcome her daughter to the court when she came of age. Though a long time off, these words made Zara furious. Her children would not become Imperial pawns. It took everything to keep from flipping out in front of the Governor. Instead, she internalized it. "Please send our thanks to His Majesty. We appreciate that such a busy man had time to think about us and our children." At that moment, Sia began to cry. Zara was sure she was hungry. She hadn't been terribly interested at her last feeding. Zara transferred Darrus to Marcus, who she knew would keep their son safe. She settled in a rocker uncomfortably close to Papius and began preparing to feed her daughter. Suddenly, she was uncomfortable with Papius even looking at the small infant.

Marcus was not at all pleased with the unscheduled arrival of Governor Arundel, but he suspected the man would be dropping in with whenever he wanted, He wanted to lash out and order the man away, but he also remembered his own decision to play the fool to keep his family safe. As a result he did not order the Governor away, but instead chose to accept the Imperial praise. And then, before too long, he found himself holding Darrus and the presence of the Governor became an afterthought. His beautiful young son captured all of his attention.

Governor Arundel accepted the superficial ignorance of Marcus and Zara, unaware that they were both play acting for his benefit. "I am glad your son is healthy," he said, making no further mention of his daughter. "I am pleased you have secure your reign under His Majesty's authority," he explained, with a firm nod of his head, before turning to leave. He knew in time the Emperor would take possession of Sia to use her to control Marcus and Darrus. His role was merely as an emissary, but he expected to become a Moff long before Sia came of age.

Darrus was a happy little boy. He stretched out in his father's arms. His little hands played with Marcus' chin. He was oblivious to the evil Governor. Zara said nothing more to Papius as she began to feed Sia. She stared down the man until he was gone. Before her eyes, she saw what was happening. The children were already involved in the Emperor's plans. She felt angry that Papius had ever come to their planet...that the Emperor had never come to be. She looked down at her daughter. "Don't worry, Sia. I won't let that happen." Zara's head rose. She saw Marcus with his son. A smile began forming on her lips. While she had no grounds to stand on, she was confident that they could keep the twins away from the Emperor.

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