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
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
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
"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
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