Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:9:14) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Leiliani: Rodney Castle).
Duke Marcus Rodney, Duchess Zara Rodney, and Magnolia Ta'em.

"Oh my gosh! She's going to be here soon!" Duchess Zara Rodney was feeling nervous about Granny Ta'em's first visit to Delaya to see the life she now lived. They had bonded so much on Coruscant that the elderly woman had wanted to spend more time with the family immediately. Zara was extremely happy about this. She wanted to take her grandma to Auntie Mae's. She wanted to show her all the various things the twins could do now, even though it had only been a couple of weeks since she'd seen Sia and Darrus. They were Zara's pride and joy. It seemed that so many things happy were pending. Iyah had enlisted Zara to help with preparations for Callista's sixth birthday, which Zara had taken over completely. Marcus' birthday was nearing. Every day brought them closer to the arrival of their second daughter. Zara allowed for Governor Arundel to occupy the back of her mind, not the front. That may have been a dangerous, foolish decision on her part.

Today was made to be a happy day. Zara was pacing with Darrus in her arms. She had sent a guard to pick Magnolia up from the port in the city. She had insisted on coming by her own means of transportation; the public sort. "Do you think she'll like it here? It's so different from Coruscant...different in a good way." Zara rattled off to her husband.

"Calm down, Zara. No need to be nervous. After all, it *is* a castle," Marcus told her, as he adjusted his tunic in the full body mirror in their unusually large walk in closet. "Don't worry. She'll be more focused on the twins than either of us," he reassured her, before adjusting his collar one last time and moving to be nearer to her. He came up behind her, placing a hand on each of her shoulders in an attempt to get her to stop pacing. "Shh. She'll love it here," he spoke directly into her ear, as he peered over her shoulder at Darrus. He scrunched his face together to make a funny face for the baby, before shifting his attention back to her. He moved his face forward, placing a series of kisses on the side of her neck and beneath her ear.

"It *is a castle..." Zara's eyes widened. "She could get lost. Should I put a tracker on her just in case?" Marcus had a good point. Her grandma had instantly fallen in love with their twins. It was like night and day when they left Granny Ta'em. She was much happier...and so was Zara. She had a piece of the Ta'em family to share with her new family. She turned her head to look at him. Slowly, she smiled. Darrus let out a shrill of a giggle. Both of his chubby little hands reached out towards his father. "Dadadadada!" Darrus rambled in the sweetest, most angelic voice Zara had ever heard. It was the first time Darrus had ever spoken. Normally, both twins just cooed, giggled, and, of course, screamed. Zara thought her ears had betrayed her, especially because Marcus was actually succeeding in calming her down. "Did you hear that?" She asked him. She could feel Darrus still struggling to reach his father at her shoulder. Again, he spoke. "Dadadadada."

"How far could she possibly get?" Marcus questioned her, with a smirk, before inevitably agreeing with her that she could get lost. However, before he could say anything more his son interrupted him for the first time. "Oh my Germanicus!" he said, as he stopped kissing his wife and shifted his attention to his son. "What did he say? What just happened?" he asked Zara, as his eyes widened and his mouth hung awkwardly ajar. "He's talking ... I think!" he said, excited, as his smile became so wide that it threatened to tear his face in two.

"I don't know! The library. The mountains. The chalet! I don't know how fast she moves these days." The conversation quickly shifted when Darrus made it clear that he knew who Marcus was. The dark haired little boy was getting bigger and bigger every day. Now he was talking?! Zara squeezed her son gently. "Darrus is talking!" She turned around and readjusted Darrus so he could sit with his back against her chest. The small boy reached out, grasping his father's tunic. "Dadadadadadada!" He rambled on to his dad. His face showed such a serious expression, like they were having a heart-to-heart. Behind him, Zara was filled with happiness. She laughed. "He's doing it! He's really doing it!" She inched closer to Marcus. Darrus saw the opportunity and quickly began trying to transfer from mother to father.

Marcus reached out and assisted in the transfer, embracing his newly talkative son while carefully supporting his head. "Will you listen to that?" he said to his wife with a smirk, as he cradled his beloved son quite proudly. "He said 'dada'," he announced proudly, wishing there were HoloNet cameras there to proclaim to the galaxy that his son was talking. It was one of the proudest moments of his life. "Quick. Tell the staff!" he told his wife, as they were completely alone and there was no one to bare witness to the momentous event. He looked down at his son making all sorts of comical faces in an attempt to egg him on.

It was one of the most amazing moments of Zara's life. Today, all he could say was 'dada', but it was the beginning of talking in full, coherent sentences. She was so proud of their son. Zara watched the two of them. "Of course he did. That's 'cause you're the best daddy ever." Every day, she witnessed how much Sia and Darrus loved their father...and their mother too. Parenthood had come easily to them. "You're right. I must tell everyone!" She began to dart out of their room when she heard Sia waking up from her nap. She gently plucked her sweet baby girl from the bassinet. "Good afternoon, princess. You woke up just in time to come with mommy." Her daughter yawned, slowly resting her head on Zara's shoulders and attempting to go back to sleep. As she moved through the castle, Zara told *everyone* about Darrus. She wasn't sure if the staff was sick of her and Marcus' excitement, or if they were glad to have it after decades of no children living within the castle. During her ranting, Zara was informed that Magnolia had arrived. She diverted to go greet her grandmother. "Granny Ta'em is here to spend time with you and your brother." She told Sia. "She's going to be so happy to see both of you."

Magnolia Ta'em stared at the foyer in Castle Rodney in awe. It had been hard to wrap her mind around Zara becoming Duchess of Delaya, especially because Magnolia imagined a twelve year old Zara trying to taken on the burden. When she saw her granddaughter, she was reminded how much she had grown since those days. "Sia!" Magnolia beamed down at the precious little girl. She placed a kiss upon the top of her head. It wasn't much longer before Zara was happily talking with her and leading her up to Marcus and Darrus. A crowd had covered to hear the first words of the young heir.

Marcus was only half serious when he suggested that Zara should tell everyone, but before he knew it she was off, running through the castle. "There she goes," he said to Darrus with a snicker, before moving to attempt to catch up with her. However, as she was less than half his age she moved so rapidly that he gave up trying to keep up with her and just maintained a steady pace. Eventually he was informed that Magnolia Ta'em had arrived, and began moving towards the foyer. Of course Zara beat him there, but he nevertheless arrived with the man of the hour, Darrus. "Welcome to Rodney Castle," he said in a boisterous, gregarious voice, before presenting his son and attempting to coax him into talking. He wanted witnesses of his achievement.

Zara embraced her grandmother with one arm while the other secured Sia. She'd thanked Marcus repeatedly for supporting her and helping her follow through on reconnecting with Magnolia on Coruscant. It had been scary. Like so many things, she couldn't have done it without him. "Granny, Darrus just said his first words. He said 'dada'." She moved to stand beside Marcus. They both were gleaming with pride. Their children were so amazing.

There was a warm welcome waiting for Granny Ta'em inside of the foyer. After she had reunited with Zara and Sia, she made her way towards her ... grandson-in-law with a look of astonishment on her face. "It's good to see you again, son." She looked down at Darrus, immediately trying to make him laugh with funny faces. "And you too, little Darrus. Will you talk to Granny Ta'em?" The positive reinforcement that both of Darrus' parents were providing seemed to be inspiring the boy to talk more. He showed his great grandma a toothless grin, then turned his mouth and began to gnaw on Marcus' shoulder. "Dadadadada." There it was. Darrus' first word. It wouldn't be long before Sia was talking too. Magnolia laughed softly. "Adorable. Now I need you to get a few years older so when I come visit, I can fill your tummy with cookies." She gently tickled the little boy's sides to make him giggle.

"Do you mean homemade cookies?" Marcus asked, as he imaged competing Granny Ta'em against Auntie Mae with a potential cookie emporium. He never missed an opportunity to tweak that horrible woman. It seemed that Darrus was not going to stop talking now that he had managed to learn how. A boy that liked the sound of his own voice would grow up to become a fitting Duke of Delaya one day. "Do you hear that?" he asked Magnolia, knowing full well that she could, but he was completely lost in parental bliss.

"Homemade cookies." The older woman confirmed. She had waited a long time to act as a grandmother again. Her son's children hadn't been around nearly as frequently as she wanted when they were young as a result of Starcaster's obsession with the Rebellion. "I did. And what a voice the little prince has." She turned towards Sia and her granddaughter. Magnolia was smiling. "It seems like you picked a good one." She referred to Marcus. Luna had always been getting in trouble with men. It was relieving to see Zara in good hands. "Sia looks exactly like you when you were a baby, Zara. After you left, I found more photos. I brought them with me." Granny Ta'em was an over sharer who was hopping aboard the proud grandparent train.

"Homemade cookies..." Zara rubbed her small baby bump. Right now, *all* sweet sounded good. Gunganese food sounded good too. She idly wondered what it would take to summon Doo Doo Fast to the castle since his restaurant (and food cart) had been shut down. "*More* photos? I thought you dug out all the embarrassing ones for Marcus already." Since then, Zara had secured the dewback costume picture where Auntie Mae's eyes could never see it. Her grandmother's compliment made her blush. She was well aware that the fated night of their meeting had allowed Zara to gain something infinitely better than a chrono. "We wanted to show you around town." Zara started. "There's an amazing ice cream parlor. I'm sure you've heard of it." She cuddled Sia. The great presence of Imperials in the city was the one thing that she wished Magnolia didn't have to see. She hated being stuck under Governor Arundel's thumb. The options were limited. She approached Marcus to collect Darrus. The twins would be staying home for this trip.

Marcus smiled broadly, easily flattered by Magnolia's description of him as 'the good one'. "Thank you, Granny Ta'em," he said, with a sweet smile, as he looked towards the woman. "Oh. *More* pictures?" he asked, decidedly wanting to go examine them carefully. He realized they were in a castle stocked to the rafters with embarrassing images of him from throughout his youth and beyond. "Yes. You must see Leiliani," he said, echoing Zara's sentiments, but when she suggested the ice cream parlor he was a bit surprised. Definitely the craving of a pregnant woman. Hopefully there would be enough purple potato ice cream or there would be another food riot to follow.

Zara would have a hard time not going nuclear if her favored ice cream wasn't in stock. "I'll be right back." The young Duchess whisked both of her children off. Darrus was continuing to talk, babbling endlessly just to show that he could do it. The little boy was just as proud of his accomplishment as the rest of his family was. Zara snuggled both of her children as she prepared to hand them off to Nana. "I love you both so much," she said as she kissed both of them. "Mama and dada are going to show granny the city. I bet she'll play with you when we get back." With a final embrace, she handed them over to their trusted nanny bot. She rejoined with her family. Her hand moved into Marcus'. "Let's get going!" She declared as she led the way outside of the castle and towards a speeder. Despite the Imperial presence, Leilani was recovering. It looked so much better than it had in awhile. The skies were blue. The air was clean. The massive changes the Ithorians had made were not ones Zara took for granted. As the Duchess, she was making changes to ensure things never got that bad again. "We have to take a holovid of Darrus later." Zara whispered to her love excitedly.

Despite the protest of the Alderaan Guard, Marcus would allow no one but himself to drive his pregnant wife. Once Zara and her grandmother were safely in the speeder he took the driver's seat and began to power up their armored, luxury speeder. He looked over his shoulder to ensure everyone was situated before accelerating the speeder down the mountain pass. "Yes. We have to make a holovid," he said, agreeing with his wife, while smiling broadly. Gone were the days he would take the route with reckless abandon, and instead he found himself driving down at a snail's base to avoid giving his pregnant wife even the slightest jostle. After what seemed like an eternity they arrived in the city. Once they were amongst traffic he seemed to drive even more slowly and cautiously, giving every speeder they encountered the right away. *Finally* they arrived at Auntie Mae's *original* ice cream parlor where all of the magic started. The paparazzi were in full force, as was to be expected.

Zara was happily pointing out various things to her grandmother. The city was filled with so many memories that she and Marcus had made together. Of those memories, perhaps the precious of all was the first trip to Auntie Mae's. She could never forget the children that had been there that day and how it made her imagine bringing their own little offsprings there eventually. Auntie Mae may have created an empire off of her family and occasionally make her furious, but this parlor was a happy place. She and Marcus had found relief there during the time when Julius was in the medcenter living out his last days. The sight of the paparazzi took the smile from her face. They were *always* camped out at this location. "Sorry, Granny. It's part of the gig." She glanced towards her husband with a look of concern. She recalled her first brushes with paparazzi. Even after a year, Zara still had moments where they were overwhelming. She took to protecting her grandmother as they stepped out of the speeder and made their way inside.

Magnolia had not visited Delaya in some time. She was more than happy to remain nestled up in her junk shop on Coruscant. However, times were changing and so was she. There was so much to catch up on from Zara's life. The old woman listened closely and nodded her head. Much to everyone's relief, the old woman didn't seem to care for the paparazzi. "Don't apologize, dear. Do you think they'll catch my good side?" She smiled. There were flashes all around them as they made their way into the parlor. The royal couple was escorted to a back room where the paparazzi couldn't take pictures of them while they attempted to eat ice cream. Zara was quick to order two scoops of her favorite ice cream. Magnolia decided to do the same. She expected the ice cream to be disgusting. She'd never heard of purple potatoes. On top of that, trusting the tastebuds of a pregnant woman was not always smart.

"What flavor are you gonna have this time, Marcus?" Zara sat down. Happy memories were still playing in her head while they created new ones.

Marcus hated the paparazzi, but he realized in these turbulent times that his people needed to see their Duke. He did not cover his face, nor did he protest their presence, but he did not waste time moving into Auntie Mae's either. Magnolia, it seemed, did not mind the new attention and he could not blame her. Fortunately they had arrived at perhaps the only ice cream parlor in the galaxy with a private dining room, where they were provided access to an assortment of Auntie Mae's classic and whimsical flavors. "Hmm. It's always a challenge..." he said to Zara, as he sat down, and took a look at the menu. "Perhaps I'll try the new Gungan Guberry," he said, as he brought his hand up to stroke his chin. That woman always seemed to have something new to try.

"I heard she brought that one out in honor of her new partnership with Doo Doo Fast." Zara hoped he got the Gungan Guberry so she could try a little. She was glad to put space between her and the paparazzi, but there was someone else Zara had to worry about. "They do ice cream cakes now!" She peered at the menu over her husband's shoulder. Excluding Callista, Marcus' birthday was up next. She had some plans for that. As the best husband ever, the best daddy ever, and the best person ever, Marcus deserved one hell of a celebration. She kissed his chin before sitting down. Her grandma was taking in the bright colored interior of Auntie Mae's. The next time the door opened, it was Mae Vinjagga who stepped through. The woman was better known as 'Auntie Mae'.

Mae had proven herself to be one hell of a business woman. After Auntie Mae's had been open for decades, she'd finally hit her stride when she decided to latch onto the House of Rodney like a parasite. She was delighted to hear that they had brought someone else along with them. Another mystery Rodney? The woman wore a huge smile. She'd only recently finished her 'big project' featuring Sierra and Claudius. She would soon reveal it over the holonet. She needed another project: she needed another scandal. "Duke Marcus, Duchess Zara, it's a pleasure to have you." She placed a bowl of ice cream in front of Zara as her sights focused on the older woman. "And who is this?" The woman sat down at the table with them and began to make herself at home. She prodded Marcus with an unnatural long fingernail. "You haven't taken my advice yet. Take your wife back to the sea islands before the ice cream goes to her thighs. I want another video!"

Marcus range of emotions changed so swiftly as Zara first mentioned the infamous Doo Doo Fast, but then quickly moved on to the topic of ice cream cakes. Initially repulsed, he soon found himself enthralled by the possibility of a delicious and delectable ice cream cake. However, before he could utter a word Auntie Mae herself walked into the room. Always a gentleman, he briefly stood up when she entered, before sitting back down. "Mae," he said, politely, with a soft nod of his head. He did not dare introduce Magnolia Ta'em, as he felt that was Zara's responsibility. "She is pregnant. Any weight that is added is for the health and benefit of the baby," he scolded Mae for mentioning his wife's thighs. As to the sea islands and a second video, all he could do is blush red from embarrassment and anger.

The look Zara gave Marcus said everything without any words. She wasn't happy with Mae harassing them. The ice cream that she placed before her seemed meaningless now that the woman who had exposed intimate moments was there. She was trying to protect her grandmother from that. "Auntie Mae.." She greeted her in the best Duchess voice she could manage. Her sights were immediately on Magnolia, who would have her own ice cream flavor overnight. She stopped shooting daggers at Auntie Mae with her eyes and looked at Marcus who was, as always, exceeding at being her husband. She reached over to place a hand over his. "This is my grandma, Magnolia. She's here visiting us and the twins. As to our videos, there will be no more of that. You invaded our privacy by placing a droid on a protected island. Do you *really* want to be sued by us?" Zara had enough of being pushed around by the woman.

Magnolia may not have been as in the loop as all the others. However, she knew who Auntie Mae was. Her products were stocked up on the shelves of a variety of stores across the galaxy. There was a parlor not far from her home, though she had never visited it before. She was staring at a poster of her granddaughter and her husband on the wall when Mae demanded an introduction. She blinked and smiled. "Hello. I'm Magnolia Ta'em." She had no qualms about shaking Mae's hand. Zara had grown defensive. She was curious as to what kind of footage the woman had obtained without consent. It seemed to be a sensitive topic for her granddaughter, so she did what she could to make Mae leave sooner. "Excuse me, Mae? This is my first time in one of your parlors. Can you tell me about the flavors?"

Mae led Magnolia off towards the case of flavors. Zara could hear them jabbering on. She picked up her spoon and began digging at her ice cream. "Do you think it was a good idea to come here? I really gotta temper my pregnancy cravings with reality. Now Mae is going to tell her *everything*." She wondered if Marcus would allow her to crawl up in his tunic and hide.

Marcus watched in silent trepidation as Granny Ta'em questioned Auntie Mae about the flavors. This was her opening to discuss some of the HoloNet scandals that plagued him and his family over the preceding year. He tried to swallow, but unfortunately found his mouth to be very dry. Fortunately there was a bottle of Auntie Mae brand blue milk nearby, which he quickly reached for, downing so quickly that it left him with an awkward and noticeable blue milk mustache. "No. This place holds special memories for us. We can't hide from it," he said, as he reached over towards Zara and grasped her hand. "I'm not ashamed of anything we did. You shouldn't be either," he said, with a reassuring smile, before leaning over and giving her a grandmother appropriate kiss on the cheek.

Zara attempted to silence Auntie Mae with her eyes. Her efforts were futile. They ran down the list of ice cream until they were standing at the Extra Passionate Passion fruit which had been popularized thanks to them. The way Mae gestured wildly with her hands told Zara that the felinx was out of the bag. She refocused on Marcus before she murdered Auntie Mae. She smiled at her blue milk mustached husband. Those recorded moments had been some of the most special ones in her life. She supposed she should feel grateful that her wedding had been caught on tape, among with other parts. Zara brushed her hand over his cheek slowly. "You're right... Like always." Her other hand squeezed his.

Magnolia soon returned holding a large bowl of multiple flavors of Auntie Mae's. The woman simply didn't take 'no' for an answer, as seen with how persistent she was to Zara and Marcus. Whatever had happened at the ice cream case had given Mae a reason to leave. She departed with a 'toodeloo' and left the family to continue their reunion. Magnolia looked like she wanted to make a comment about Auntie Mae, but didn't for the sake of being polite. "Mae said your wedding was filmed. I would love to see it." She dug her spoon into a scoop of Deadbeat Dingleberry.

Marcus blinked when Magnolia asked to see the wedding tape. Then he blinked again, though he was not entire surely if he managed to breath. His eyes moved towards his wife, but his head never moved. He did not think he could move it if he wanted to. "Oh wouldn't you rather see the ultrasound footage of the baby Zara is carrying instead?" he asked, as his mind finally worked itself around to something he thought might be preferable to a wedding video. Would it work? He had no idea.

As the words came out of Granny Ta'em's mouth, Zara could only wonder what kind of a trap Mae had set. She probably left out the sexual encounter and told her that holovids of the wedding existed. Zara wondered how long she could protect her grandmother from seeing it. At this point, there was little for her to feel ashamed of regarding the video. Her and Marcus had remained a strong couple who was loyal to each other. She could feel his eyes on her. Wordlessly, they were both growing uncomfortable over the video. From Marcus' mind came genius. Zara perked up. "Yes! I just saw my doctor about a week ago. We have recent footage of our second daughter. Can you imagine? Soon there will be *three* of them!" Zara began to feel well enough that her purple potato ice cream tasted good.

The promise of seeing her second great granddaughter was more than enough to derail Magnolia. By the way she played with the twins, she was more than happy to have young children in her life. "I'd love to see. You're almost halfway through again. Do you two have any ideas for names? She took a bite of each various ice cream. Some were better than others by the faces she made. That new Gungan flavor? Magnolia was not a fan of it!

Marcus exhaled a sigh of relief as he had successfully changed the subject from the past to the future. He smiled at Zara, giving her hand a 'we did it' squeeze. Everything was right in the family again. "Yes. She'll be here in no time," he said, agreeing with Magnolia, before looking towards Zara when the subject of baby names came up. "We were thinking Cupa," he said, making a sly reference to his half-brother, Mug. He bit his lower lip to keep from bursting into laugher, but after the bullet he had just dodged he was beginning to test boundaries.

Names. Names were always so difficult. There was so much to consider when naming a human being. After all, they would be called this for the rest of their lives. Sia and Darrus had been such good names. Coming up with another name that was just as good was difficult. Zara had thought about it. She'd pulled up list after list of baby girl names and still nothing. She looked at Marcus as he manage to say 'Cupa' without bursting out laughing. "Cupa Rodney.." Zara couldn't keep a straight face. She began to laugh softly. "We really don't know yet. I was banking on our daughter not arriving for months yet, so we still have time to figure it out." Her fingers slowly laced with Marcus'. Her smile turned gentle and sweet.

Granny Ta'em had been filled in on the family drama. Zara had rattled on and on as they sat together on Coruscant until she understood who the main members of the House of Rodney were. She was aware of Mug's existence. A name like that is simply unforgettable. The old woman laughed and shook her head from side to side. "You kids! Back in my day, we gave children good, strong names." She began to lecture them even though she had named her first son Starcaster. "At least name her 'Kettle'!" The old woman laughed. By then, everyone had finished eating as much ice cream as they were going to. It was time to scurry back up to the castle. Now that Darrus was saying 'dada', Zara wanted to get Sia there too.

"Lady Kettle Rodney..." Marcus repeated slowly, and as it slipped off the tongue he realized it did not sound half bad. But then he shook his head, smirking at the silliness of it all. "We actually like the name Fiona," he said, in a serious tone, and an emphatic nod of his head. Names were very important among the ruling house of Delaya, so he had been careful not to mention their idea to anyone else ... not even his brother and his family. As he said it, he rubbed his thumb across Zara's hand and smiled at her, content in their decision.

Even she had to admit that 'Kettle' flowed far too well. Zara couldn't imagine cuddling their daughter and calling her sweet little 'Kettle'. Fiona was a far superior name. Lady Fiona Rodney. No one realized that they weren't safe inside of the parlor. While they shared their name with Granny Ta'em, they also shared it with the world. Zara glanced down towards their hands. She loved him so much. "I wonder what she'll look like...if she'll have silver hair or take after her daddy." She had no doubted that their third child would be every bit as cute as their first two. With her hand remaining in Marcus', she rose from her seat. She wasn't looking forward to round two with the paparazzi.

"Fiona..." Granny Ta'em repeated, then nodded her head. "I think it suits her perfectly. You can pass 'Cupa' over to your brother. I will do what I can to come when she's born." That meant that Magnolia would be there the week prior to Zara's due date, anxiously awaiting another great grandchild. She, too, rose. "I want to see that footage." She reminded them, referring to the ultrasound. "*After* I play with those little cuties." One could see where Zara got it from. In many ways, Zara took after her grandmother over her own parents. Just as Marcus was overprotective of Zara, Zara was watching over her grandma like a hawk in the crowd of paparazzi. Now that Zara had gained a piece of the Ta'em family, she didn't want to let go.

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