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Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:3:18) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Sea Islands).
Grand Moff Claudius Rodney and Commander Sierra Rodney.

Claudius Rodney was standing knee deep in the warm waters that surrounded the sea islands. Instead of his uniform, or the formal robes of state, he was wearing a pair of khaki shorts, a loose fitting shirt, and a safari hat. At his feet was a Delayan sea cow who had come to investigate just what was going on as there was rarely any activity in the area. Next to him was a series of droids projecting images of their future floating island home several meters offshore. Nothing seemed quite right, and he was beginning to get frustrated in the hot sun. But, it was certainly better than being pent up in the castle where danger loomed at every corner. Given their inability to cause permanent damage to the ocean floor the architects had been severely limited in what they could do. He took a step forward, but tripped over the sea cow, and soon found himself falling face first in the shallow water. At least it cooled him off.

Admittedly, it was nice to get some fresh air. After the debacle in the castle, Sierra felt like she needed to get out. The islands were the safest place, in her opinion. Not only were they beautiful, it was the one place where she didn't worry about reporters in her face. Most importantly, it was the site of their future home. She was a little behind Claudius, having been busily rubbing her fair skin down with sunscreen. She took full advantage of the setting, donning a soft pink one piece bathing suit covered with cupcakes. Yep. Cupcakes, you wanna fight about it? Her blonde hair was pinned back messily behind her head. She dashed towards the water with her best Baywatch impression in time to see her husband faceplant into the shallow water. She joined him, playfully gathering him up to his knees by his hands. She spotted the sea cow almost immediately. As a lover of animals, she could not help letting out a happy squeak. "Awww." She cooed at the creature, reaching her hand out towards it. The idea of living here made her so happy. She was certain it was the right move for their family. She looked over her shoulder at Claudius. "What's wrong? Do you not like the blueprints we were given?"

Claudius rolled over onto his back and sat down in the water, which reached about to his neckline. By now he saw that his wife was more interested in the sea cow than he, which caused him to mockingly splash her. "No. Nothing suits me. I've seen elements I like, but I haven't found the perfect one yet," he said, before raising back to his feet. The sun beat down upon him, with a gentle breeze flowing across the waves to begin drying his skin and clothes. The atmosphere was perfect, but the engineers had their work cut out for them. "Is it edible?" he asked her, as his eyes gazed down under the water at the large, slow moving creature. He had worked up quite the appetite during his early morning surveying.

Sierra laughed, turning to playfully splash him back. "Why don't we look together? Perhaps we can piece something together that works for everyone." Under the water, her hand ran over the back of the creature the next time it passed close by her. She stood up straight as the sea cow drifted further away from her. The creature was very interested in them. "I suppose it is edible. I wouldn't want to eat it. These sea cows are just as endangered as every other creature here." Sierra began heading back up shore. "Come on. Let's eat. I promise not to molest you during picnic time today." Her bare feet sunk into the sand. There was already a blanket set up with food on it. After having her stress lifted from her, Sierra had picked her appetite right back up. "How long are the engineers estimating it'll take for us to get our dream house?" She asked Claudius while she sat.

Claudius was glad to get out of the son and, more importantly, get something to eat. As they moved off the white sandy beaches into the light tropical fauna beyond where the blanket had been set in the shade. "Oh. You know engineers. They say six weeks ... it takes six months," he said, rolling his eyes as he plopped down on the ground hard. "They're used to my parents lackadaisical approach to spending, and to Drusilla's extravagances. They try and milk me for as many hours as possible," he said, before getting into the picnic basket. "I like the designs that are circular, with the middle open to the sea," he said, as he started to fix himself a much needed emergency sandwich. In the distance he could see the massive sea cow had practically beached itself, following them, to investigate where they were going. (d)

Her eyes rolled, "Oye. If they take six month's time, I'll be as large as that sea cow. They won't like what happens if they take their time." Like any pregnant woman, nesting was on her mind. Her nesting process was more complex as the nest had yet to be built. "Let's aim for six weeks. I don't like the idea of anyone milking us for anything." She listened to him while making herself a sandwich. She picked out a starfish cookie that was meant for dessert and ate it. "I like a circular design better too. Do any of them have a good place to make into an observatory?" She finished her cookie. Further down the beach, she saw the sea cow already halfway out of the water. "If that sea cow comes any closer, it's going to get stuck." She commented nervously. She didn't start on her sandwich just yet.

Just as she completed her sentence it happened ... the sea cow had beached itself and was now trapped helplessly on the sand, nearly three quarters of the way out of the sea. "Yes. Six weeks is a must. Some people do not know how to follow deadlines," he complained, fed up with contractors and much preferring the Imperial way of doing things. "Hmm. An observatory. No, but now that you mention it ... being so far from artificial light I'm sure we could see much further with one here as opposed to at the castle," he said, before reaching for his datapad to jot down more ideas. He was oblivious to the plight of the sea cow as she had revealed the all important plate of cookies, which captured the entirety of his attention at that moment.

Ooooh crap. The sea cow was so interested in the people, or the food, that it got itself stuck. The waves shrunk further back into the ocean and did not return immediately. Sierra watched it, willing the water to return to take the creature back to the ocean. But... It never did. She rose to her feet. The beast was struggling and moaning now. It was officially stuck. "A large closet for Drusilla too..." He probably didn't need to be reminded of that. Sierra sounded distracted. While he started on the cookies, she decided that she *had* to help the sea cow. "Claudius, that sea cow is stuck! We have to help it." She looked back at him with concern in her eyes. They couldn't ignore it! She raced towards the creature much quicker than you'd think she was capable of. Sierra knelt down, touching it on the back. She could feel its body drying out quickly. "Shh, shh.. It's going to be okay. I'll get you back in the water." She grabbed a nearby pail which she may or may not have been using to prove to Claudius that she was a skilled sand castle builder. It was easier to demonstrate what she wanted their home to look like with sand, after all. She moved out to the water and filled it then returned to the creature to dump the first pail full of water. This was more than a little ineffective. She needed to think of something else.

Claudius took one last sip of his remarkably refreshing sparkling cranberry drink before moving to join Sierra down by the waterline. At least he had time to finish his rib sandwich before the creature became imperiled requiring their attention. As he reached the Delayan sea cow, he made the astute observation that the creature was 'stuck'. He placed two hands on the front of the creature and began to awkwardly attempt to push it back into the ocean. His feet dug into the sand, but despite doing his best the creature barely moved. "Ugh," he groaned, as the sweat began to pour from his brow as he struggled to move the sea cow. He turned his back, pressing it against the creature as he attempted to push himself with his feet to give himself more leverage, but that too did not work. "Help me, woman," he said to her, desperately, as he neared the point of a hernia in his desperately feeble attempt.

Like all one-hundred-and-twenty pounds of Sierra were going to make a difference! She watered the beast a second time while Claudius attempted to push the sea cow back into the water. She quickly moved to help him, first by pressing her hands against the creature and pushing, then by turning to her back. All of their efforts were futile. She wasn't sure if the beast even moved an inch. "Ugh, this isn't getting us anywhere." She groaned. She needed to start lifting. Holy crap, her arms were so weak! "Shit." The future Duchess needed to clean up her crude language! She grabbed the pail so she could throw water on the creature again. "Oh sea Betsy, did you smell our food?" Sierra had named it. That meant she would want to keep it. "Can you think of a way to transport it? We can use the ship, but what do we wrap it up in?" What material was strong enough to hold the sea cow during the short trip to the water. Time was ticking. Meanwhile, a droid was catching the whole debacle on video. Lovely.

Claudius sat down on the beach next to the sea cow, bringing his hand up to his forehead to wipe away the sweat. He placed his head between his legs and did his best to catch his breath. He was an old man, and decidedly out of shape. This was the most exercise he had gotten since the honeymoon. "Alright. We'll use the ship," he said, before struggling to get back onto his feet. He moved towards the cargo hold where he removed some of the survival equipment. "This tent should be strong enough," he said to Sierra, before handing it over to her to place beneath the creature. Meanwhile he moved to the cockpit of the ship, which he began to pilot off of the beach into a low altitude over the developing scene. He lowered a cable towards Sierra, which he hoped she could affix to the tent in a makeshift harness. This would be the only time he would allow himself to be caught up in a rescue like this. Everybody gets one, he thought silently to himself.

Only in the insane lives of Claudius and Sierra did such a thing happen. She had to continuously move back and forth between the ocean and the creature. While marine biology was interesting, it wasn't something she had studied. She had no idea how long the beast would survive. She looked towards her husband, feeling bad that he had worked himself so hard to try to save Sea Betsy. Taking the tent from Claudius, she nodded. "I think so too. Let's see if we can get this guy back into the water." If this didn't work, she had no idea what would work. A terrible amount of effort later, the young woman managed to surround the manatee in the tent. "It's almost over. You'll be home soon. No coming back on the shore, okay?" She spoke to the beast like it could understand. Taking the cable, she affixed it to the tent as best as she could. She gave him the thumb's up as soon as the sea cow was ready. They did not lift the creature far off the ground. It traveled a short distance into deeper waters with Sierra walking beside it. When she felt that it was safe, she released the cable and set the sea cow free. She stood in the water, watching it swim off slowly like nothing had happened. She let out a deep breath. "Stay away, Sea Betsy. We might not be here to save you next time." The woman made her way back to the shore. Now they could resume their intended purpose of being here: to relax.

With the sea cow temporarily saved and the shuttle landed, Claudius made his way directly towards the hammock for what he hoped was some uninterrupted rest and relaxation before the coronation. As he lay in the hammock it began to sway side to side slowly, with a soft afternoon sea breeze coming in off the ocean and caressing his flesh. He pulled his pith helmet down over his face and closed his eyes, trying to keep the rest of the galaxy out of his life for a little while. "Wake me up in four to six weeks," he said to Sierra, his voice muffled by the presence of his hat over his face. He did not want to talk about their new home, the assassin, or the looming coronation, but he knew that he *had* to. As much as he wanted to hide, he could not escape his destiny.

Sierra glanced back at the water. She could no longer see the sea cow. Hopefully that meant that relaxation was in their future. On the way towards the hammock, she picked up Claudius' data pad. She swiped through it before carefully joining him on the hammock. She lay on her side, cuddled up against his. She kissed his neck several times. "Thank you for saving the sea cow." It wasn't their expertise, yet they did it anyway. "I could do that, but then you'd miss out on what the doctor sent me today." She playfully removed his hat and placed it on her head. Her hands held the data pad in front of him. Her finger tapped a play button, which then began showing a recording of the ultrasound she had in the hospital. "All of the ultrasounds are recorded, apparently." She informed him. "Ooh! Look! He's doing the family pout there!"

"You're welcome. It's what I do in between being Grand Moff of the Ringali Shell and future Duke of Delaya," Claudius said, with a playful tone as she began kissing him. He smiled as he saw the latest imaging of their son, almost immediately taking it from her hand and moving it closer towards his face to get a better look. "My family does not have a pout," he said to her in protest, as he began to pout. "We need to give him a Delaya that looks like this and not the polluted urban cityscape of Leiliani," he informed her, as he looked out past her into the beautiful untouched island paradise. He had seen images of Delaya from centuries ago when it shared most of the same natural beauty as Alderaan, rather than the polluted industrial center it had become. His family had become rich and influential beyond just the Alderaan system, but the people, and more importantly the planet, had paid an awful price.

"I know, I know. You're Super Claudius." As soon as his pout appeared, she giggled. Oh yeah. This family did have a pout. "I agree. Since he'll never get to see Alderaan, I want him to be able to look out on these islands and cherish them just as we do. There are some things we can do to help pollution in the city, but unless a planet magically appears that we can industrialize, there will always be pollution in Leilani." She wished she could share the good parts of her home planet with their son. It was easier to make Alderaan out into a fairy tale than have the actual thing, including with the monster who once dwelt upon it. She shook, forcing thoughts of her mother away from her head. The dreams had brought that nightmare back to the surface. She was still working it out of her system. "Lemme see," she said, taking the datapad back. She smiled down at the video of Bruce one more time before opening up a drawing application. "Looking at all those blueprints we received is frustrating. Let's build a semi-realistic drawing of what *we* want for our home, then we can take it to the engineers and see how possible it is." She swiped her fingers over the screen, roughly drawing a circular building with the middle open, just as Claudius had said he liked. "Life is changing drastically. You're going to have to stop holding up the world by yourself. The coronation is in a few days." She passed the datapad to him. "Draw. It doesn't have to be good. I even added Sea Betsy." She pointed to a smiling blob at the bottom of the screen.

Claudius listened to his wife's advice as he began to draw a primitive rendering of what he wanted his island hideaway to look like. It combined elements of several of architectural proposals that were sent his way including a circular shape with a hollowed out interior that allowed direct access into the ocean. The upper level contained residences for them, the existing children, and what he hoped would be future children. The upper level was half open to nature to allow them to look out onto the islands, observe wildlife, and watch the ocean. There was also a basic observatory on this level so that they could gaze out onto the stars. Rather than drill into the ocean floor to support the structure it was supported by repulsorlift engines, similar to a speeder, which would make it more costly, but less invasive. It was what *he* wanted, but he was only half of this pair now. When finished, he scribbled an artistic signature on the bottom and offered it up to her for approval like a child showing a preschool drawing to a parent.

Sierra settled in beside him close enough that she could watch him draw. Before her, he illustrated their future. Her imagination took over while he drew. She saw Bruce's room done up with an astrology theme. Drusilla's room with displays built into the walls so she could have an easier time finding all of her precious accessories. A play room for Ewwie, Bruce, and any other future children could fit into the upper level. She imagined holding her husband's hand, watching their brown-haired and blonde-haired children rampaging around. They would be able to teach the children about wildlife right there where they could observe it. The idea of repulsorlift engines was not one she had thought of, but it was damn good! When he had finished, she took the datapad and looked over the rendering he had created. The more she looked at it, the more she could see them living there; *happy*. Sierra became all teary eyed. Sniffling, she nodded her head. "I *love* it!"

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