Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:8:1) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Leiliani: Rodney Castle).
Ewwiekewwieikkie, Melickielickie, RO-E11, Duke Marcus Rodney, Duchess Raeni Rodney (as hologram), and Duchess Zara Rodney.

"Marcus! Marcus! Marcus! Marcus!" Duchess Zara Rodney roused her husband in the worst possible way: panicked. "Marcus! T-The Squibs are *gone*!" She sniffled. "T-They were in Ewwiekewwieikkie's room and they wanted to play hide 'n seek ... but I *lost* them!" Zara's eyes were filled with tears. The castle was gigantic...the perfect, and worst, place to play hide and seek. "Your brother is going to *kill* me!" She squeaked, darting underneath the blankets of their bed like a child might. "We'll never find them! This place is too big!" She dramatically informed her husband as her hormones took them both for a drive. The first night had been fun with the Squibs, though, it was exhausting too. Today, Zara didn't know how Sierra and Claudius did it. She knew that adoption was *not* in the cards for her and Marcus with their cutie twins and another baby on the way.

When Duke Marcus Rodney heard his wife screaming he feared the worst, and his hand moved for the Model 434 blaster pistol at his side. However, when he heard that it was simply a matter that Ewwiekewwieikkie and Melickielickie were 'lost' he hid his weapon and calmed down. "Darling, darling ... it's okay," he said, as he moved to wrap his arms around her. "Shh. Shh," he said, as he began repeatedly kissing her forehead. "Relax. I know just what to do," he said, as he moved towards the table where a bowl had been left. "Watch and learn," he said to his wife, with a broad smile, as he reached into the bowl and picked up ... a spoon. He outstretched his hand and held the spoon out for a moment, before simply opening his hand and allowing it to fall. When the metal spoon hit the marble floor with a loud *clang*, he folded his arms and looked towards his wife.

From several rooms away Ewwiekewwieikkie's ear twitched as she heard the unmistakable sound of silverwear falling to the ground. A spoon based on the particularly frequency the sound had given off. "Melickielickie! It's a spoon!" she said, as she came out from her hiding spot, which was an abandoned hope chest among her grandmother's old possessions. She began scrambling across the floor, then down two corridors, and then finally up the spiral staircase that led to Marcus and Zara's bedroom. When she arrived she found a spoon on the floor and dove dramatically upon it. "Mine!" she said, as she greedily clutched it. She looked up to Zara and began to giggle. "I found you!" she said, but there was only one problem ... she had been the one hiding.

"But I *lost* them," she argued while he tried to calm her. "T-They weren't in the kitchen either. They always hide in the kitchen." 'Hide' was a generous word. Zara had caught her nieces eating cake in broad daylight with nothing to obstruct them. She took a deep breath, nodding her head. She watched Marcus drop the spoon on the ground. "That's never going to work!" She said. She continued to watch and wait.

Melickielickie had made base inside of a closet. She was hiding in a pile of clothing which she had ripped off hangars. She poked her head out. Her little ears hadn't picked up the sound. Being that she trusted her sister entirely, she knew there was a spoon somewhere. "Spoon!" She exclaimed. She flapped her arms until the clothing fell off of her body. She was ten feet behind Ewwiekewwieikkie all the way until they reached the spiral staircase. "Ee..." Stairs were difficult for the little Squib. She moved down onto all fours and took them one at a time. When she reached the top of the staircase, she resumed walking on her feet. "Tadaaaaaaa!" She proclaimed, arriving in Zara and Marcus' bedroom. "Hi guys. Ooooh. Spoon!" She gravitated towards her sister. She had forgotten about the game.

Zara was in awe. Ewwiekewwieikkie appeared first, then Melickielickie. She wiped her tears away. She ate her own words. "Yup.. You found me." She looked at Marcus. "Where were you two hours ago when I couldn't find them?!" She had left the twins with Nana after it became more obvious that finding them wasn't going to be an easy thing.

"Easy when you know how," Marcus proclaimed, as he stood over both his Squib nieces. "I was right here, doing, uh, Duke stuff," he informed his wife, unwilling to admit to her that he had snuck in a nap. Taking care of his two Squib nieces had been the most exhausting task of his life, and more difficult than any bounty hunt he had been on. "I suppose if you heard from Sierra you would have told me by now," he said to Zara, as he looked down to the two girls in awe of a simple spoon. But then he noticed something else on the ground. Something shiny. And he reached down to pick it up. "Zara. This is one of the jewels of Delaya," he said, as he handed it over to her, but it was covered in bile and blue fur. "I thought the Empire seized these when they occupied the castle," he said to her, before gazing down to Ewwiekewwieikkie. "Ewwiekewwieikkie, where did you find this? Was it where you were hiding?" he asked her, quickly, as he knew she only had a short term memory.

Ewwiekewwieikkie was using her dress to polish the spoon when her uncle began talking to her. As he had brought back the Rainbow Rancor and gave her both Auntie Mae's *and* Uncle Tae's she had decided she loved him again. "Oh that?" she said, as she looked up at him and started to giggle. "Dru said that was food, and made me eat it only..." she paused, before she started to giggle at the joke. "...only it wasn't food!" she said, as she jumped up from the ground excited. "She silly. She made me eat lots and lots. I got a tummy ache," he said, remembering, before going back to the awesomeness of the spoon.

"Mhmmm. 'Duke stuff'!" She rose an eyebrow at him. "You're right. She hasn't contacted me..." Zara's face paled. What if Claudius and Sierra decided to leave the Squibs here *forever*. She didn't verbalize that to Marcus, for it really scared her. They'd need to invest in a nanny droid for each girl, because Nana wouldn't be able to handle all of that. She looked at what Marcus picked up. "Where did that come from? Ew. What's on it?" She took the jewel from him. It was covered in something, but she couldn't place what until Ewwiekewwieikkie informed them what had happened to the jewels of Delaya. "What?!?! Gross!" She threw the jewel on the ground and immediately retreated to the bathroom to cleanse herself.

Melickielickie fell backwards on the floor. She kicked her feet and clutched her tummy as she laughed hard at the joke. "*Ha ha ha ha*! *They not food*!" She giggled, rolling around until she was back on her feet. She approached her uncle, sitting down at his feet. "Hi Uncle Marcy Marc." She waved a paw at him. "Rainbow Rancor says not to bite your friends." She informed him of the lesson she had seen on her show today. "Don't bite auntie Zara!"

Marcus followed Zara into the refresher, as he understood Squibbish well enough to know what his niece meant. "Zara, do you understand? Drusilla smuggled the family jewels off Delaya ... in Ewwiekewwieikkie!" he said, before turning to his sink, and moving to put cold water on his face. He could not believe his niece had actually done that, well, actually ... he could now that he thought about it. "Those should be ours. And then they should be Sia's, Darrus', and our other childrens," he said, as he looked at her, quite upset by this development. However, there was currently so much strain between the brothers that he was hesitant to push another conflict.

Zara was busily washing her hands. "What's wrong with that girl!? Ewwiekewwieikkie is a living person... Not a tauntaun!" She exclaimed, shaking her head. She prayed that Sia, Darrus, and baby Rodney would be kinder to each other. After adequately drying her hands, she sighed. The last time they traveled to Esseles, Claudius had a really bad panic attack. She felt anxious about approaching him now. If they weren't talking about sunshine and flowers, then she didn't want to see her brother. She came up behind her husband, wrapping her arms around him tight. "If it's any consolation, I bet Claudius didn't know Drusilla did that. Should we... Should we see if we can get more jewels out of Ewwie? We can make Nana tickle her?" She pressed her lips to the back of his neck. The family was so crazy at times. It wasn't like they could demand Claudius to pay back what was smuggled out in the Squib.

"Oh that sounds cruel," Marcus said, as he looked into the mirror at his wife, who was behind him. "But ... if the jewels remain in there Ewwie could get sick, right?" he said, trying to justify it in his mind. "Yes. Very well. Summon nana!" he said, as he suddenly spun around to look her in the eyes. "But put a towel down," he said, before he leaned to place a kiss upon his wife who could be quite cunning when the situation dictated. "...a guest towel!" he quickly added, to be as specific as possible. He led her out of the refresher, but when they arrived back in their bedroom he discovered a horrible sight. Both Ewwiekewwieikkie and Melickielickie had settled into their bed and begun to watch Rainbow Rancor on the HoloNet.

"Right!" She agreed. If there any left inside of her, then they had been there for a *long* time. She quickly kissed him, laughing as he made it clear not to use one of their towels. "Okay!" She wandered back into the bedroom where the girls had settled in to watch their favorite HoloNet show, which even Zara had seen roughly a thousand times since yesterday. She moved towards her end table, picking out a small controller from the top drawer. She pressed several buttons to summon Nana. She had left the twins with the nanny droid earlier while feeling worried about her malfunctioning problem. Now she wanted to reclaim her children while they attempted to rid Ewwie of all jewels. "Drusilla *seriously* did that?" She asked Marcus, sitting down on the bed. "Ewwie. Do you wanna play with Nana?"

Ewwiekewwieikkie was watching the Rainbow Rancor and did not hear what her Aunt Zara had asked initially, but after a few moments all of the words caught up with her. "Um. Um. Yeah!" she said, before she stood up on the bed and began jumping. She reached down to pick up one of Zara's special pillows, and hit Melickielickie with it, causing priceless feathers to fly everywhere. "This is the bestest bounce bed ever!" she declared, as she started to ruin the one luxury that the couple had embraced.

Nana arrived as quickly as she could once summoned, but was careful not to disturb the sleeping babies Darrus and Sia she was cradling with two of her four arms. The moment she arrived she regretted being summoned as the Squibs had been worse than any child she had to deal with, other than Magnus Rodney over seven centuries ago. "Yes, Duchess Zara," she said, but her eyes never moved off the Squib menace that was just meters away. Feathers were getting everywhere, and she hoped she would not be the one that would have to clean it up.

"Eeee!" She rolled off the bed dramatically. "*I'm hit*!" She squeaked. She dug her paws into the blankets as she clawed her way back onto the top of the bed. She snagged one of her uncle's pillows, using it to hit her sister. "Lookit! Ducky feathers!" Her attention span ended as the feathers began to fly around her. "*Is snowing*!" She danced on top of the bed.

"Aww... My pillow.." Zara frowned. She had also pulled out her body pillow for the purpose of training herself not to sleep on her stomach anymore. Now it was destroyed. She was relieved to see Nana, and even more relieved to see her children. Her disappointment disappeared as she focused in on them. She darted over to Nana. "Nana. Hi." She said, offering her arms so she could transfer the twins to her. She couldn't believe they were nearing three months old. They were already getting so much bigger! With the twins in her arms, she cuddled them. "Um. Odd request. Ewwiekewwieikkie's sister force fed her some of the family's jewels. Can you... Can you help get them out? Like by tickling her? Don't hurt her...and don't do it on my bed." Zara pouted. It *was* the bestest bounce bed ever and she wanted it to stay that way.

"Oh! Oh! Oh!" the nanny droid shouted, as she began to spin around in confusion about why she was being tasked with tickling a Squib. "It will be done at once!" she said, as she had been programmed to never disobey the Duke and Duchess. She moved towards the bassinet where she placed the infants Sia and Darrus down and then moved over towards the bed. With a blink of her eyes she turned on a laser light to attract the Squib's attention. She then began moving her head around, shining the lights on the walls and the floor, but never leaving it one place too long.

"Whoopie!" Ewwiekewwieikkie yelled as she was struck with the pillow by Melickielickie. She fell on her back dramatically, outstretching her arms as she bounced up and down endlessly. But then she saw the nanny droid and, more importantly, the laser sight on the floor moving around. "What's that?!" she screamed, as she jumped out of the bed and tried to catch. "Ugh," she groaned, as it kept moving out of reach. Every time she moved towards it, it got further away, which made her more and more excited. "I can't catch it!" she whined, to anyone who listened, as she began to pant. No matter how hard she tried the light just keep darting away.

Melickielickie opened her mouth wide. Small feathers collected on her tongue. "*Canddd- ... ew*! *Bleh*!" She reached up to her tongue and began pawing at it while making choking noises. "Ewww. Dyinngggg." She drew her tongue out of her mouth until it reach passed her chin. Melickielickie did not suffer long, for the light which the droid produce caught her eyes. "What dat?" She asked, wandering off the bed and crouching on the ground in a pouncing position. "Mine!" She declared, pouncing at the laser. "I miss. I pounce you again!" She squatted back down on the ground.

"I realllyyy hope we don't regret doing this." Zara said to Marcus. "At least they'll be tired afterwards, right?" She was happy that it was only human babies for her and her love. "Do you think we should have called for Pilaq before we starting doing this? What if there's a problem? I've never eaten a jewel. I can't imagine what *passing* one would be like." She was glad the twins weren't at a memorable age. Even if they woke up, the memory of their cousin and her magical jewels would be buried deep in their minds.

The nanny droid knew what she was doing. Not only had she gotten the Squibs off the bed, distracted them from the pillow fight, but she was also causing them to run around and expend all their energy. Soon they would be tired, but not soon enough. As Ewwiekewwieikkie began to settle she moved to start tickling her, which caused the Squib to roll around flailing her arms and legs and laughing up a storm. "Oooh tickles!" she said, behind a big smile, gasping for air before suddenly a large jewel escaped her. "Ouchie!" she said, as she laid it like an egg, before continuing. Her leg kicked the droid, knocking it onto its side and josseling its circuitry. A moment later the eye projected a holographic image of Duchess Raeni Rodney.

It was ... working?! Zara winced at the large jewel that came from her niece. The poor Squib. She grabbed a tissue, picked up the jewel, and set it aside to be washed later. "No one can ever know what we did today." She told her husband, waiting Ewwiekewwieikkie squirm on the ground. When Nana fell, Zara darted towards it. "Ohno!" It had taken so long to fix Nana after Luna destroyed her. She imagined all the sleepless nights that would come with Nana not working again. "Nana! Nana! Speak to me!" She cried out as she dropped to her knees beside her. She was surprised to see a holographic image of Duchess Raeni Rodney. She had kept the picture that Ewwiekewwieikkie found in the library to preserve with other pieces from the family's history. "Nana. What's this?" She asked.

Ewwiekewwieikkie gasped as she looked towards the holographic image of Duchess Raeni. "Oh! Wow. Story time!" she said, as she crossed her legs in front of the hologram and began to clap. "Is just like the HoloNet," he observed, only there were no snacks. "Hmm," she murmured, as she brought her paw up to her chin and waited for the hologram to begin its story. The nanny droid seemed to be temporarily disabled, waiting for the hologram of the Duchess to play.

Marcus looked at the hologram, recognizing it has his ancestor and the first Duchess of Delaya. "Do you think you can get the message to play?" he asked Zara, before moving to pick up the jewel that Ewwiekewwieikkie had produced. When that was done, he moved towards the hologram, searching for any sign of facial features that he recognized in the current generation of the House of Rodney. "To think after seven centuries..." he said to his wife, as he hoped she could get it to function.

"Lookit what I found!" Melickielickie crept into her sister's lap. She was holding a carton of Auntie Mae's purple potato ice cream. Where it came from, no one would ever know. "Nom nom nom." She used the spoon that Marcus had summoned the Squibs with. She dug the spoon into the ice cream, offering her sister a huge spoonful. "Say 'ahhhhh'!" Melickielickie was trying to look at the hologram while feeding her sister. Ice cream dripped on her snout. "Mmmm!" She wiggled her tongue at it.

"Um... I think so." Zara had a chance to get to know Nana while she was in pieces. She poked and prodded at a front panel on the droid until it popped open, revealing dozens of blinking buttons. "I think this one is it." She explained, pressing her finger into a button. The hologram briefly disappeared, then it reappeared. The hologram began to speak.

"Claudius, my son, I have recorded a series of holograms for you to listen to should something happen to your father and I." It started. Zara sat back with Ewwiekewwieikkie and Melickielickie. They were now devouring the last carton of her favorite ice cream. Her boycott of Auntie Mae's hadn't lasted long. "This is the story of how close your father came to becoming the King of Alderaan. We were always outsiders in the court. Your father's fondness for animals led people to think ill of him." Raeni explained. Her features became softer. For the long dead Duchess, she was talking to her son, not her ancestors hundreds of years later. "Of them all was a man named Count Sierrus Dakkar. He humiliated your father time and time again. You should always be wary of those belonging to the House of Dakkar. Sierrus had everyone convinced that he was a good candidate to be King. I didn't believe it." She said, her eyebrows knotting.

Marcus was just about to ask for some of the ice cream, but as his hand moved towards the carton Ewwiekewwieikkie began to growl. He quickly withdrew his hand and decided it was best to just to watch the recording. "Sierrius Dakkar?" he said, as he turned his head to look at Zara. "I wonder if that's the same family Sierra is from," he asked, as he scrunched his face together as he considered it. What a strange confluence of events that would lead to this. He did not believe in coincidences ... there had to be a reason for it. "I'm so glad you found this droid," he told his beloved wife, as he leaned over to wrap his arm around her.

Zara heard Ewwiekewwieikkie's growl. She wondered if they were going to have to sing the song about not biting your friends again. "Do you think so? It was a really long time ago." She was happy that they had the opportunity to learn more about the Rodney side of the family. She wanted the children to feel proud of their ancestors. The Ta'em family ... well, it wasn't much. Her thoughts, very briefly, lingered on the day her family had been killed. She wished her dad had been around to meet the twins. "Me too. Now we get to learn all kinds of stuff we wouldn't know otherwise." Zara scooted closer to Marcus. The hologram skipped forward slightly as Duchess Raeni continued to explain things.

"When the King of Alderaan became ill, all the nobles began to linger around the palace. Sierrus tried to dampen our announcement of my pregnancy with you. He was a *very* horrible person. One night, Sierrus Dakkar made his way into the King's room. He strangled the old, sick man. The Alderaan guard caught him in the act. He was punished on the spot. Sadly, it was too late. The King was..." The laughter of a small child could be heard in the hologram. Raeni's serious face turned gentle when she smiled. "Your father is waiting for me. I'll tell you more stories later." The hologram of Raeni leaned forward before it shut off.

"Oh! Oh! Oh!" the nanny droid shouted as she came back to life once the hologram had finished playing. She rose back into an upright position and her head began to spin around excitedly. "Whatever happened?" she queried, as she instinctively moved towards the bassinet to check on Sia and Darrus. Still sleeping sound her attention returned to Duke Marcus and Duchess Zara. "Do you wish for me to continue tickling the Squibs?" she asked, unaware of what happened with the message from Duchess Raeni.

It *had* to be Sierra's family that Raeni was talking about. The chance that there was another Dakkar family on Alderaan seemed unlikely. Zara sat, processing what they had just learned. She was relieved that Nana still worked after the hologram had been access from deep, deep inside of her memory. "Oh, uh, nothing." Zara lied. "Can you take the Squibs out to the garden and play with them, Nana?" She asked. Since Ewwiekewwieikkie had birthed a jewel the size of her hand, she thought it wouldn't be fair to tickle out more. "I wonder if I can access more holograms like that. The way she talked, it seemed like there might be a series of them." She looked at the droid curiously.

"...and there goes our centuries old garden," Marcus Rodney said as he watched the nanny droid use her laser pointer to get Ewwiekewwieikkie and Melickielickie to proceed into the garden. "I can't believe Sierra's ancestor killed the King. I can't believe that my ancestor almost was King." he said, excitedly to Zara as he reflected on what he had heard from the hologram. "I wonder what else is on there. Did the malfunction just scratch the surface, or was that all there was?" he asked her, having never been this interested in his family's past before. "Maybe we should have Ewwiekewwie-kickie her again," he said, as he made a pun, and smiled at her.

"Me either! How crazy is that? I always thought it was a rumor that your ancestor almost became King. Do you think Sierra is secretly evil?" Zara had no right to ask that question. She had shot Sierra, and Sierra had never done anything to even the score. "Maybe all the evil in the Dakkar family is just in her mom." She suggested, having seen some clips on the HoloNet that were really terrible. "I don't know. I didn't mess around with Nana's memory too much because I was worried I'd accidently erase everything. Maybe I can try again." She wanted to know more. She was sure that Nana remembered a lot from back in the day, she just had yet to tell them everything. Zara laughed so hard she snorted at his pun. "..Or we could do that! It worked the first time!" She rose from the floor and offered him both of her hands. "Maybe that kick will fix all those weird problems Nana is still having." She took his hands and led him towards the bassinet to check on their twins. "Aw."

"I thought it was just a nice story my parents used to tell after getting into the wine," Marcus said, but now his mind was racing, and his curiosity had been piqued. "Ah. But her mother only married a Dakkar..." he said, as he considered the HoloNet release as well. "Do we tell her about this or leave the past in the past? I mean, we don't even know if Duchess Raeni was telling the truth," he said, as his imagination was beginning to run wild with possibilities. As he finished speaking she had helped him back onto his feet and they were moving towards the bassinet. "I want to know more about Romulus and Desdemona, the twins discovered in the library holo," he said, as he looked down at his own twins. He wished his parents were still alive ... maybe they knew more. They tried telling him, but he never listened. Now it was too late.

"Hmm... Let's see if we can find more holograms before we tell her. I don't think it'll change anything if we do tell her." Right now, Zara was afraid to say anything that might hurt Claudius. She was going to act as if he was made of glass from here on out. As she looked down on the twins, she thought that Sia resembled Raeni in some ways even if it had been centuries since Raeni's existence. She had yet to see a photo of Germanicus Rodney. She snickered, wondering if he was clumsy too. "I do too. We know Claudius was Raeni and Germanicus' first baby, but we don't know exactly what happened next. I wish I could get Nana to tell me everything. She's so vague sometimes." She made an annoyed face. She was going to get down to the bottom of it! She turned towards Marcus, offering him a wide grin. "I love you. We should look around in those boxes where we found Nana. I think they might help link us closer to the past too. There was a lot of stuff, especially baby stuff."

"Zara," Marcus said, as he suddenly seemed very serious and a bit emotional. "During the battle Germanicus Rodney Square was badly damaged. Do you think we should go into the treasury to restore it?" he asked, as he had neglected it until this hologram had brought it back to the forefront. "I," he began, but then stopped, instead, looking down to his children in the bassinet. "I was thinking about commissioning a statue of my father, but after the trial I do not think Governor Arundel would stand for it," he revealed, after a pause, still obviously very emotional about it. "Yes. We should go through the boxes. Maybe some of the baby stuff can be salvaged. We seem to have an abundance of babies here," he said, before reaching out and placing a hand upon her stomach.

There may have been no love between Zara and Julius, but what had happened at the trial had been unfair. She thought that Marcus and Claudius should be able to preserve the memory of their father instead of having it tainted. Julius was dead, and thus unable to answer any questions about the holovid. She frowned. "Yes. I think we should restore Germanicus Rodney Square. That way, when we chase that evil man off of our planet, we can construct a special monument for your father. I wish we could do it right now." Governor Arundel would see it as treason and see that Marcus and Zara were killed. They had to be so careful with Governor Arundel, who made it clear who was in control from the very beginning. She placed a kiss to his forehead. Every night, she prayed the Rebels would grow in strength and liberate them. She rubbed at her eyes to stop herself from crying in frustration over their ordeal. Instead, she focused herself elsewhere. She smiled softly. "We gotta go to New Aldera to see Pilaq soon. It's been a few weeks since we found out... Do you want a boy or a girl?" She lightly teased him. Her hand came down to rest on his. The family had lost so much over the last year...and gained so much at the same time. Zara would see that Julius was properly honored as soon as it was possible.

"Oh. Uh. Um. Well, what do you know? Look at the time," Marcus said, as his eyes shot down to his left wrist, only he was not wearing a chrono. With that, he moved towards the bed and to check the damage that the Squibs had caused. The last thing he wanted to do was have a discussion about what sex he wanted the baby to be, as no good could come of it he thought. "Uh. What do *you* want?" he asked, as he tried to put the feathers back into the pillow case. What had been done could not be undone so easily. Still, it was better than answering her questions.

Zara watched him question dodge like no other. "Nu uh!" She said, watching his attempts to put *all* the feathers back where they belonged. The pillows were dead: rest in peace. Like the bantha had done the prior day, Zara darted up behind her husband and tackled him down to the bed. "Rawr!" She growled. There were feathers *all* over the place. "You're question avoiding. That means you're afraid to tell me the answer. Tell meeeeeeee! Tell meee! Tell me or I'll bring Ewwiekewwieikkie back up here and tell her you got rid of Rainbow Rancor." She threatened, pinning him to the bed so he couldn't get away from her.

Just when Marcus had *most* of the feathers back in the pillowcase, Zara tackled him and everything went flying ... again! "Ooof," he complained, as he impacted the bed, nearly breaking it. "No, no. Anything but that! Not that!" he begged, as he could still feel Ewwiekewwieikkie's surprisingly strong jaw clamping down upon his leg. "Okay. Okay. You win ... you always win," he told her, as he let out a deep sigh. "A girl. I would like another girl. I would be worried about a second son going through what I went through. It's not easy being the 'spare'," he told her, as a humorous moment suddenly became very serious.

She did *always* win. Zara beamed brightly on top of him. "That's right." She rolled off of his back and onto the feathery bed. It creaked beneath her from the abuse the Squibs had given it. Zara settled onto her side where he admitted he wanted another baby girl. His reasoning wasn't surprising. It made her think of how his parents had treated him before they found out about Darrus. Marcus was less to them because he was second. It didn't make sense to Zara, and it had been something that made her want to stay far, far away from the throne. She frowned, leaning forward to steal a kiss. "Oh my Marcus.." She cuddled with him. "I... I want another girl too." She admitted. "If we had another boy I'd never *ever* treat him like you were treated. I'd snuggle him and love him and annoy him with how overprotective I am just like with Darrus. He'll never be a 'spare'. He'll just be our son."

"You are still young and I expect we will have many more children before we are mysterious holograms in a droid. Perhaps one will be another boy," Marcus said to her, as he reached around her and pulled her up against him. "You could never treat a child as my mother treated me," he said, before he began to place multiple kisses upon her. As he settled in the bed a feather rubbed up against his nose, causing him to sneeze. "I never knew that this is what they meant by feather bed," he said to her, as he again wondered when Sierra, descendant of an alleged Kingslayer, would reclaim her Squibs.

She inched in comfortably close to him. Ultimately, Zara was nothing like Livia. She was more hands-on in the ways in which she raised her children. She certainly didn't drink like the woman either. "We have to have another boy, otherwise Darrus is going to be really busy scaring off guys who try to date our daughters." She kissed him repeatedly. She wondered if she should start recording holograms for their children in the case of their death. Tugging Marcus close and burying her head into his shoulder, she realized she didn't want to think about it. "Bless you!" She said, kissing his cheek. "I think this is an unfeathered bed now. What are we going to do with all these feathers?" She said, reaching up to pluck several out of her silvery hair.

"That's good. He and I could use the help ensuring our daughters never get married," Marcus replied, with a large smile that made one wonder if he was serious. "Can you imagine with Claudius and Sierra must be going through with that Prince?" he asked, rolling his eyes endlessly at what happened during their ball. "Hmm," he replied, considering what was best, as he began to stroke his chin. "We gather them up and send them back with Ewwiekewwieikkie and Melickielickie as presents, so that Sierra has to deal with them!" he said, excitedly, as he wrapped his arms around her tighter and began to kiss her a bit more intensely. Scheming with his wife turned him on like nothing else.

"Seeee? There's a perk to having another boy!" Zara laughed. Even though Marcus rolled his eyes, put in the same situation, he would have beat the tar out of the Prince as well ... and Zara would have been right there, rooting him on and turning the poor boy's life inside out with her slicer skills. His idea was absolutely sinister. She loved it. "Oh Marcus, you're so sexy when you're being evil. We're doing it. We'll tell the girls they get to take home goodie bags." Claudius' estate was soon to be covered in feathers. It seemed like a pretty good revenge plot, considering Ewwiekewwieikkie had played tauntaun for Drusilla sneaking out priceless family jewels. She clung to him. The intensity of his kiss drew her in and soon she was engaging him with her tongue. Her poor husband had married a teenager who turned into a tiger when he touched her the right way. "I love you!"

"I love you too, Zara," Marcus replied, as in his mind he was already imagining the assembly of the goodie bags. "How much longer will it be until the doctors can tell us?" he asked, bringing the conversation back to the gender of their next baby. The first pregnancy had been so chaotic, with having to travel to Hosnian Prime to visit a doctor in secret. How, at least they could use the family physician and not have to be as secretive. "So which of our stories so far are fit to record for the children, and which do we hope they'll never find out about?" he asked her, as he ran his hand up and down her back affectionately.

"We should be able to find out any time now. I was a lot further along this time when we found out than last time. I guess we can thank the lack of morning sickness for that.." Zara crossed her fingers that she wasn't jinxing herself at the moment. There had been a couple queasy mornings, but it was nothing like being pregnant with the twins. She wondered if it was because she was less stressed. In a lot of ways, everything was easier this time. "We should go see Pilaq on New Aldera. He travels for us a lot... That, and he's like five-hundred years old. It's the least we can do." His question made her think about their life together. She smiled, thinking of all the happiest moments. "I'd record the story of how we met... How we *really* met, not the cover story we tell people. I'd include that one time you went to Auntie Mae's super late at night because we ran out of ice cream." She giggled. "Anddd. I'd talk about our wedding.. And hope they never found out about the sexy HoloNet video." She laughed. "Our wedding was such a high point in my life. It was so perfect." She looked in his eyes. The love she had for him had grown so much since their wedding day. "What ones do you think are fit to record? Which one do you want them to never find out?"

"Hmm. I would like to tell them about some of our adventures. Like stealing the grain to help the refugees. Battling Imperial Intelligence. Fighting Toledo," Marcus said, although maybe that was not the best idea. He was proud of everything they did, but was also worried he might inspire young Darrus to become too adventurous as he got older. "I agree with you that I hope they never find out about the HoloNet video, but maybe we could tell them about the sea monster at the chalet," he said, as he remembered that bit of adventure. It had been a long time since he had been there and wondered if the sea monster still survived. "You know, speaking of that, it used to be tradition that children were blessed in that lake, as it was Germanicus and Raeni who founded that old hunting lodge that became the chalet," he said, as he remembered some of the traditions he always thought were unimportant.

"Toledo..." Zara said. She was taken back to Etti IV where Marcus had found her. Her hand ran over his back softly. She recalled how badly he had been burnt while stupidly protecting her. It had been how far he went to protect her that immediately lowered her defenses. She saw no need to have walls up around someone like him. She kissed his cheek, silently thanking him for finding her on that planet and bringing her to a better life. "I think we should record all of those too." The children would know about their secret lives one way or another. The chalet was full with their trophies and perhaps the greatest of all trophies, Zara's chrono, was something she kept close nearly all the time. "Sir Tentacles!" She exclaimed. "You can mention how he almost killed you too so that the future generations will leave him alone." She felt like they had an understanding with the sea monster at this point. He didn't ruin the chalet. Zara and Marcus released taun tauns for him to eat occasionally. She was interested by the tradition in the lake ... and a little worried. "Can we do that? I mean, the north was completely different when they were alive. It's so cold now. Do you think Sir Tentacles would bug us?" By 'bug' she meant 'try to kill'. Her head lifted, glancing towards the bassinet. She was glad the twins were having a nap and that she and Marcus were sharing some quiet time together. "Maybe Nana knows more about that tradition?"

"Hmm," Marcus replied, as he considered Zara's request. "Well, it's not just the sea monster. The water is also frigid," he said, wondering what the HoloNet would say if they dunked their babies in a frozen lake with a sea monster lurking beneath. "I suppose we could call out the Alderaan Guard and have the weapons at the ready. And lot's of Auntie Mae's hot chocolate," he added, as now that he was Duke he was beginning to understand his father's sense of a connection, and obligation, to those who came before him. "Nana seems like she was there for most of the events of the formation of my family," he said, as he looked over towards her. "If there's anyone in the galaxy who can recover the data it's you!" he said, before placing a kiss upon her to encourage her.

"Ugh! Too much pressure!" Zara grinned brightly. She leaned forward to kiss his chin. "What are the chances of the lake thawing? It's so cold there.." Zara imagined dunking Sia into the lake. She'd be *furious* by how cold it was. Darrus wouldn't be anymore pleased. She couldn't imagine that the sea monster would be okay with having delicious Rodney noms in its lake either. "I'll see how far I can get with Nana. Germanicus and Raeni probably had babies in the winter. She said they had a big family." She rolled onto her husband. "When are we gonna go to New Aldera? Huhhuhuhuh?" She nipped his neck. Ewwiekewwieikkie bringing out the old hologram of Raeni was exciting. Zara felt like it was possible to learn a lot more about the founding fathers of the house she had married into.

"Well we have not been to the chalet in so long that it's possible the Ithorian environmental rehab has already thawed part of the lake," Marcus said, as he missed their old chalet, from before they had become Duke and Duchess and lived a simpler life. "For all we know the sea monster could have moved into our old home now," he teased her, but given his close encounters with the creature he would not at all be surprised if he walked into the chalet and found the creature on the sofa watching the HoloNet. "As soon as the Squibs are safely returned to Claudius and Sierra we can make our way to New Alderaan to see the doctors," he said, as he was excited too, but after how he had hurt Claudius he was hesitant to send a transmission to Esseles demanding they hurry up and reclaim the girls.

"Damn... I bet he's watched all of our recorded episodes of The Real Huttwives of Nal Hutta..." She snapped her fingers. "After Claudius and Sierra come get their Squibs, we'll go to New Aldera.. Then we'll celebrate by spending time at the chalet. We can look at the condition of the lake and hope that the sea monster isn't *too* comfortable in our home." She liked the idea of putting some space between her little family and the Governor. "Deal?" As impatient as she felt to leave, she knew that they couldn't pressure Sierra into coming early. Claudius probably needed a break. Zara had thought he was scary and heartless at first. After she got to know him, she actually came to like him. She hoped he was okay. Him and Marcus had such a hard year.

"Deal!" Marcus said, but before he even finished speaking the word there was a large crash that could be heard out the window ... from the garden. "I'm not even going to look," he admitted to his wife, as he buried his head in her shoulder rather than rushing to the window to look at what had occurred in the garden. As much as he loved his nieces, he preferred them in small doses. "We should take nana. It's possible it could jog her memory," he theorized, as he once again drifted on the past. He needed to rebuild Delaya after what the Empire had done and believed that there were things he could learn by the example set by the first. He was in danger of becoming the last if the Empire continued to ravage his world.

Zara bit her lower lip. She wasn't sure if the Squibs had just destroyed something in the garden, or if Nana was now lying in a million pieces on the ground. "Nope. Me either. Alls I gotta say is that your brother's going to owe us." She loved her nieces as well. Zara was in awe of the kind of destruction they could quickly caused like Thing One and Thing Two. "Okay. Let's do that. I wonder what she would say if we introduced her to Mug. It might make her explode." She was content to hide from the world in bed for right now. Soon, they would need to rise and take control of so many situations. Zara sighed. The video that had leaked with Julius and Livia had scared Zara into never wanting to ask Iyah to come to Delaya ever again. How long would it be before the ISB found Holovids of her and Marcus conspiring against the Governor? "We should try to rebuild the city even though Governor Arundel is here. There might be ways to make stuff better for our people." She was clearly thinking about their Duchy To-Do List.

"Yes. Yes he is," Marcus said, as his mind lingered on what could have possibly happened in the garden to make that racket. "Well, we don't want her to explode, but maybe she could play something for Callista. After all, this is her family too," he said, not at all enjoying how Mug and his family had been treated by his family. If not for their connection to the Rebellion he might have legitimized his half-brother, but that would not be possible unless the Alliance somehow pulled off a miracle and won the war. "Yes. We must build a new Delaya. A clean and prosperous one for the people who have decided to stay. They deserve it," he said to her, as he felt the weight of the planet upon his shoulders.

Zara thought about how close Mug had been from becoming Duke. She rolled over. "I feel so bad for Mug. One day, he was just a normal guy. Then he found out he was the bastard of the Duke and now that's what he's known for. It's not like he controlled who his mom was... Yeah." She didn't want to think about that. Yucky. Gross. "I hope we can make Callista a real princess someday. She'd like that." Callista was a wonderful little girl. If Sia was a fraction as sweet as her cousin, Zara would be thrilled. "We can do it, Marcus! If there's anyone that can fix the city, it's you and me. I'll get out there and help clean up." She had no qualms about working hard. "We've got the Ithorians working on the environment. The Squibs are cleaning the debris from the atmosphere. All we've got is the city on our plate." Zara placed her hands on his shoulders. She was going to help him carry this tremendous weight.

"You mean one day he was just a normal guy, and then he found out he had the most awesome brother ever," Marcus replied, before giving her a cheesy smile. "I'm sure we can. Callista is an innocent in all this. When the war is over, and peace is again restored to the galaxy things will return to normal and we can really start to make a difference," he pledged to her, with perhaps a naive optimism. "Yes. We have one group of Squibs clearing debris, and then a pair causing more debris to form," he said, referencing their nieces who had run amuck. "I could never do anything without you. I cannot be Duke without my Duchess," he told her, as he leaned forward, and placed a loving kiss upon her as she held his shoulders.

She laughed and laughed. "Yup! Lucky Mug!" Zara hadn't gotten to know her half-brother as much as she wanted to. He seemed nice even if Iyah was a little scary. "I can't wait. We're going to clean up this planet and give to to Darrus in a much better condition than what we received it in. Delaya is going to be so different then." She was naive. Zara had never been groomed for such a role. Her parents mostly neglected her for their role in the Rebellion. She truly didn't know what she was doing. Though the other members of the family didn't bring it up, she could tell no one was happy with Zara, a peasant, becoming Duchess. "Don't tell the Squib King. I don't need him to clean up the debris in the garden." She had burned the datadisk he'd gifted her. She only wished she could hack her mind and clear her memory banks. Marcus was so wonderful. He made her feel capable of doing this overwhelming job. They functioned as a team, which made her less afraid of her role. She squeezed him. "I love you. You'll *never* have to be Duke without me. Someday, we're going to be super old and throwing our fiftieth anniversary ball." She kissed him. The conversation they had made her feel really good. She felt like they had a plan in how to improve life all round. Zara was looking forward to what tomorrow held...but she hoped there was less feathers in tomorrow!

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