Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:5:17) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Leiliani: Rodney Castle and Marcus Rodney's chalet).
Governor Papius Arundel, Ewwiekewwieikkie, Callista Nilar, Lady Drusilla Rodney, Duke Marcus Rodney, and Duchess Zara Rodney.

Marcus Rodney gripped the handrails on either side of him as he attempted to walk with the aid of Zara's device. If he were a younger man he might have had the strength and stamina to pull this off, but given his age each footstep felt like a mile. As he looked towards her at the other end of the walkway it was the only motivation he needed, as each laborious step brought him closer to her beauty. As he neared halfway down the walkway they had constructed inside of the chalet one of the gears in his left leg gave way, and he dropped to one knee awkwardly, and painfully. "No. Don't help me!" he shouted, as he waved off Zara from rushing to his aid. His hand shifted to the gear to make an adjustment before rising back to his feet and continuing on. He was starting to be covered with sweat by the time he neared the end. As he took that final step off the walkway he stumbled forward into her arms, wrapping his tired, sweaty arms around her. Although he wondered how a woman over eight months pregnant was supposed to keep him up on his feet. "This is going to be a long day. Perhaps, the longest day..." he said to her, softly, before turning to place a kiss upon her cheek. The morning of their coronation had come. The day was only beginning.

From the opposite end of the walkway, Zara Rodney provided him with a steady flow of motivation. Her eyes were glued to his legs. She was studying her device, mentally noting where she saw weaknesses and what she could do to make it better. "You're doing it!" She grinned. She could only imagine how difficult it was for him. Sadly, they had no time for rest. They'd need to keep going until they perfected him walking. "Nononono!" Zara saw the gear give way. Down he crashed to the ground. His anxious wife thrust forward. She fully intended on helping him back to his feet until he stopped her. Clenching her hydrospanner, she watched her strong husband rise again. "You made it back up! Come here and get your reward!" She dangled his favorite thing in the world in front of him ... his wife.

Her arms wrapped around his tired body. She squeezed him tightly. "I know it is. You're already doing so good. You made it down the whole walkway. We can make it through this, promise!" Zara's bright blue eyes shone with pride for her sweet husband. She was doing her best to *not* think about what was going to happen today. The coronation was a highly publicized event. "Here, let me make some adjustments." She guided him to the makeshift railing that they had set up. Zara squatted down in front of him. She tightened several gears and made adjustments on others. "Is there anything you don't like? How does it feel walking with these?"

There was no greater reward than an embrace from his beloved wife. "If only there were handrails in the castle," Marcus said, as he smiled down at her while she made some adjustments to the device. "I could, as my first decree, resume slavery and have them carry me to the coronation. Not only would Governor Arundel not suspect anything, but he might even be envious," he said, as he smirked down at her while she was doing her fine tuning. "Ow!" he said, as a small spark emerged while she worked, sending a brief twinge of pain through his body. "Hey! I felt that!" he said, having felt absolutely nothing down there since being blasted by the Empire.

"You'll have me. I'll be your support!" She declared happily. Or maybe *he* would be her support? She wasn't sure which way was more true. Zara laughed at his idea. "...D-... Do you think they can carry me too?" Zara guessed not! Her work came to an abrupt stop when she hurt him. She dropped her hydrospanner. "I'm sorry!" Her hands touched his leg. She felt *very* guilty for hurting him. It took her another second to realize. He *felt* that! A wide smile appeared on her face. "You felt it!" She repeated in shock. She wondered how possible it would be for him to make a recovery, even if it wasn't complete. "I'm sorry still. I didn't mean to hurt you." She kissed his knee lovingly then finished up her adjustments. At last, she realized that *she* would need to get up from the floor. "Oh.. crap.." The first attempt to stand up was a sad, pathetic failure. Her second attempt ended when her rear hit the floor. "Damn it. I'm so full of baby!" She cried. "Why won't they just come? *Normal* people who are pregnant with twins go into labor early. Why not meeeee?" By the way, Zara had officially declared spicy food *not* capable of swaying her body to go into labor.

"This is one time I'm glad you hurt me, Zara ... but don't do it again!" Marcus said, playfully, as he smiled down at her. Finally some good news. He did not know what it meant long-term, but he would take any small sign of hope that he could. He watched in horror as Zara went to the ground not once, but twice, but there was relatively little he could do for her. He made an adjustment to the device, locking his legs in position so that he would not fall either. As he still had full use of his upper half, he leaned forward, extending both of his arms towards her. "I have a bad feeling about this," he told her, as he grabbed hold of her and attempted to pull her back onto his feet. "As soon as we move into the castle we get servants," he said, optimistically, as his face turned a shade of dark red as he strained to pull her up.

Zara was stuck. The only way to get back on her feet would be to scoot to a stable piece of furniture and use it to get up. The girl pouted and looked like she might begin to cry. Despite all that had happened to him, Marcus was still trying to help *her* get up. Her hands locked with his. "Be careful.." She warned. She tried to meet him halfway by helping as much as she could. "We're going to need them if this happens again." Zara was nearly to her feet when it just became too much. The device snapped in the left leg and they both crashed down to the floor. "Oww... Marcus, are you okay?" Her rear ached. In fact, many portions of Zara's body ached at this point. She hoped she hadn't hurt him again. She saw that the device had broken. "Oh no!" She grabbed her hydrospanner and started trying to fix him. She didn't know how she was going to get Marcus off the ground, let alone herself. She regretted not keeping El-Nay around this was the only time she'd ever have thoughts like that.

Looking down, Zara realized her hands had lost their steadiness. Today was such a big, daunting day. Time was pressing. Soon, they'd have to fly to the city where they would change and prepare for the ceremony. To make matters worse, her body may have not been ready to have the twins yet, but it was certainly ready to practice. The Braxton-Hick's contractions did nothing to improve her mood. "We need a droid or something." She mused as she tried to put on a calm exterior so her husband didn't worry.

"Waa! No! Zara!" Marcus cried out as he began to topple over, sending him crashing to the ground and breaking the device, once again leaving him a crippled heap on the floor. The pregnant Zara and the disabled Marcus made quite the pair as they lay there on the floor, neither able of much use at this point. But, just when hope was nearly lost he once again heard the sound of an engine. "Well if they're here to kill us then hopefully they'll pick us up off the ground first," Marcus said, as he began crawling across the ground towards the rifle he always kept hidden on the ground floor of the chalet.

The door to the chalet burst open with a sudden level of excitement expressed by only one person ... Ewwiekewwieikkie. "Aunt Zara! Uncle Marcy Marc!" she screamed as she went bustling into the room, but did not notice them on the floor. "Where are you? Are you *hiding*?" she asked before running up the stairs to look for them. She got about halfway up the stairs when she stripped and fell, banging her knee. "Ahh!" she screamed, as she clutched her knee, and started to cry. But then she was right back on her feet and continued up the stairs, darting in and every room looking for them, but finding no one. "Oh no! We missed them!" she said, as she moved towards the stairs again. She climbed up on the railing and slid all the way down, leaving a trail of blue fur down the carefully polished wood. "Wee!" she squealed before crashing onto the ground at the foot of the stairs. *That* is when she saw Marcus and Zara on the ground, and began surging towards them. "Auntie! Uncle!" she said, before pouncing them, causing her to burp up a gemstone ... one of the family jewels that was rightfully one of theirs. She began giving licks and kisses to both of them. "We're here for the circumcision," she said, getting the word wrong, before bouncing around happily.

"Lalalalalalalala." Callista sang out on a joyous voice as she skipped into the chalet belonging to her uncle and auntie. It had been a long time since she had seen Auntie Zara. The girl never stopped idolizing the woman who would soon be the Duchess. "*Auntieeeeeeeeeeeee*! *Uncllleeee*!" She cried out in a loud voice that echoed off the walls. Ewwie had gotten in front of her and was now engaged in a game of hide and seek. "Where are youuuuu?" She ran around the lower floor of the chalet, including the kitchen. When she saw the refrigerator, she realized how hungry she was. "My tummy hurts... Need... food.." She squeaked dramatically, opening up the freezer side. She found a carton of Zara's favorite Auntie Mae's which she quickly grabbed up and began to eat with her fingers. A trail of purple ice cream led away from the kitchen as she spotted her best friend and her uncle and auntie.

"Auntie Zara!" She dropped the carton on the ground and surge forward into the love fest. "Uncle!" She, too, began to lick and kiss everyone. "*Yay*! *Circumcision*! *Yay*!" She didn't realize Ewwie's mistake. She couldn't wait to tell her Daddy all about the circumcision.

Zara began a slow scoot towards the closest piece of furniture. "Worst timing ever. Who could it be this time? Do you think it's El-Nay again?" There was nothing they could do. Right now, Marcus and Zara were exposed and helpless. Zara prepared for the worst when something entirely unexpected happened; Ewwiekewwieikkie showed up. Never had Zara been so happy to see the blue Squib. "Ewwiekewwieikkie!" She yelled in a desperate attempt to catch her attention, only to hear her come crashing down the stairs. It wasn't much long after that when she found them, still positioned on the floor in desperate need of some help. Zara squirmed as she was greeted by her niece. "Hi Ewwiekewwieikkie!" She said, squeezing the girl affectionately. Her face was coated in slobber. Zara looked at Marcus, silently wondering if Claudius and Sierra had opted to show up or not. Zara had mixed feelings about that. The day was already made to be difficult. It would be worse if they added in family drama. "Ewwie, who else came with you..." Zara began to question before a second child tackled her: Callista?! She squeezed both of them. This was exactly what she and Marcus needed: a distraction.

When the dust settled Lady Drusilla Rodney casually strolled into the estate wearing hew new coronation gown, and the diamond necklace that Sierra had provided her. The gown was a small price of escorting Ewwiekewwieikkie and Callista to the coronation. As she saw everyone on the ground of the living room she rolled her eyes at the sad, pathetic display. "Oh do get up. Let's not keep my people waiting," she declared, as she checked her chronometer and impatiently tapped her foot. "This is a fine way for the Duke and Duchess of Delaya to behaving," she said, dismissively, still irate that she had lost any hope at the title. "As my father is prohibited by Imperial decree from setting foot in this sector, and my sister is either suspected of being dead or an Imperial war criminal depending on whom you ask, *I* have been asked to represent him at your coronation," she said, as she examined her manicure instead of looking at him. "That is the word you're looking for, children. Coronation. Anyone with HoloNet access knows you've already missed the circumcision," she teased, as she gave a wink to her uncle.

Never before had Marcus had been that excited to see Ewwiekewwieikkie, but as both he and his wife were flat on the floor he was glad to be rescued. "Ewwie, help Zara up," he said, as he tried his best to sit himself up. When Drusilla declared that *she* was in charge of the girls he immediately began to worry that on top of dealing with the coronation they would also have to be mindful of both of his brother's more unpredictable children. That day that already seemed impossibly long found itself growing longer.

"Everybody up! Up! Up!" Ewwiekewwieikkie said, as she grabbed hold of Zara and used all of her strength, which was not much, to lift her off the ground. As she did, her hyperactive nose got a small of something, and her nose began to spasm as she sniffed, sniffed, sniffed. "Babies!" she squealed, with a giggle, before she began to dance around her aunt excitedly. She could tell it would not be much longer. She then moved behind her uncle, placed her arms beneath his armpits and pulled up sharply, lifting him up off the ground. "Wee!" she said, as he went up, and she went down, hitting hard and producing yet another gemstone.

Drusilla too?! Zara was sure that they'd be able to make it off the ground now. With the strength of the three girls combine, which may be necessary for her. But, her niece was off in her own little world as she chastised them like *they* were the children. Zara blushed wildly when she dredged up the HoloNet scandal. Given that her and Marcus status was changing, the video had gained popularity again. There was a devoted Science Mystery Theater with their sex tape in it. It was all getting so out of hand. Of all the things Duchesses were known for, Zara was the first to have such a widely publicized sex video. "Drusilla!" She cried, feeling embarrassed and helpless. With Ewwiekewwieikkie's help, Zara was back on her feet. "Thank you so much, Ewwie. I was afraid I'd never get up." The girl's nose was twitching. Zara watched as she felt her stomach tighten uncomfortably. Like at her baby shower, she questioned if Ewwie could tell how close she was. Was she close enough? Would today be the day?! Zara smiled. "The babies will be here soon. You'll have to come see them when they're here."

Before she could remind Ewwiekewwieikkie to be gentle with Marcus, she had him roughly up on his feet. Zara caught him by the hands and let him lean on her until he had better footing beneath him. "We made it off the ground." She smiled. "I guess the next challenge is making it out of the house." Her eyes hadn't been fooling her...Ewwie was producing gemstones. Where? How? *Why*? Zara wondered what her brother's home was like on a day-to-day basis. "Callista, does your daddy know you're staying with Ewwie?" She asked. If Claudius and Sierra were holding the girl captive again, Zara was going to lose it.

Callista was busily squeezing her uncle. She peered up at the couple, nodding her head so rapidly it looked like she briefly became dizzy. "Yeah! Daddy said it would be okay if we played together. Ewwie took me on a turbolift!" Her eyes grew big. "It goes up and down and up and down and up and down..!!" Her hand rose up and fell down to demonstrate it to Zara and Marcus. "I missed you guys!"

Marcus took a step towards the door of the chalet ... and then another. He was not suited to run a marathon, but slowly and increasingly more steady he was making his way towards the exit. When he reached the door he realized there was a problem ... who was going to fly? He was not physically capable, and Zara would have a difficult time reaching the controls. His eyes looked towards Callista, and then Ewwiekewwieikkie, and finally Drusilla. "Uh. How old are you again?" he asked her, with a laugh, as he ventured out into the frozen cold. "You're flying kid," he said, as reached out in an attempt to rub her head like he did when she was a child, but that was before the days before she spent hours on her hair.

As the makeshift family piled into the Nerf Herder with Drusilla at the controls they were headed towards the castle and the unknown. As the ship departed, the ice at the lake began to crack and the sea monster slowly emerged. Poking his head up as he watched the ship fade away he flailed his tentacles wildly as if to say goodbye.

Rodney Castle had seen better days between Sierra's rescue mission and the Imperial occupation, but that the structure that sat high in the mountains over the city of Leiliani had nevertheless come together for the coronation of Marcus and Zara Rodney as Duke and Duchess of Delaya. The remaining people felt that this is the way it should have been all along. The children had taken up prominent seats in the great hall while Marcus and Zara had been afforded some time alone to change and prepare. Marcus had been forced to wear a pair of pants with a poofy flair to concealed the device that lay beneath. "I look ridiculous. I look like some cheap pimp from a HoloVid," he declared, before flashing the Rodney pout at Zara. "I am never wearing these again," he said, as he tugged at the baggy pants, wondering if he should be wearing a giant chronometer around his neck. "I am fortunate to have so lovely a wife as all eyes shall be on you, and no one will remember what I wore," he declared, as he put the finishing touches on his ceremonial robes of state. He felt he looked like his father as he remembered him when he was young, before he became old ... and fat.

The long day had become even longer. Upon reaching the castle, Zara's uncomfortable feelings went into hyperdrive. It took so much time and effort just to dress herself. Some unnamed fashion designer had taken the career suicide plunge that was making Zara Rodney's coronation gown. It was a gorgeous piece of clothing, she had to admit. The problem was that it was tight fitting. It felt like it was a size too small, and thus, already nervous, when she saw herself in it all she saw was the millions of ways people were going to ridicule her on the HoloNet. She had yet to learn that you couldn't possibly make everyone happy when you were a Duchess. She was doing everything she could to rise to the new challenge and just do a good job.

She was seated at a vanity letting her feet relax while she wrestled with her long hair. Her eyes rose to him. The pants were, indeed, baggy. It was the best they could do to keep their secrets. Surely Papius Arundel would be watching in one way or another. "Can we trade..?" She asked. "You look *amazing* Marcus. If this dress wasn't more complex than a Rubik's cube, I'd do *things* to you!" Her eyebrows wiggled playfully. She let out a sigh, bringing her hair into a pretty up-do. "Noooo. I don't want them to watch me. If I burst out of this dress, it'll be so embarrassing. The muumuu watch is going to have a great day today..." Zara rose. Contrary to all of her requests, she had been granted high heeled shoes which sat by the bed. They were her new mortal enemy. She ignored them, instead approaching the love of her life. She hugged him. "I love you, Marcus. They love you too." She said, directing his hands to their overactive twins.

Marcus remembered Claudius' coronation, which was only a short time ago. He did his best to remember the order in which the ceremony flowed so that he would be prepared and not make any mistakes. "No tradesies," he teased, as he stuck his tongue out at her whimsically. "Don't worry, my dear ... they've seen *everything*," he reminded her, as he took her by the arm and closed his eyes to mentally prepare himself. "I love you. A thousand times I love you," he pledged to her, as he moved with her towards the large doors that separated them from their destiny. Giving the signal two members of the remaining Alderaan Guard opened the doors, allowing them to move down the aisle of the great hall of the castle that was filled with the remaining Delaya and Alderaanians, most of whom were Imperial collaborators or war profiteers. It was not the best and the brightest as they had made their way towards New Alderaan. In order to disguise his injury he stopped along the way to acknowledge some of their guests, which inadvertently did much to flatter them and strengthen their position. As he looked down the aisle where the thrones sat it looked much further than he and Zara had practices for, but it was only in his mind ... his wife had of course made precise measurements. One thing they did not prepare for, however, and that was the step up to the platform where the thrones were perched. He turned his head, slowly, to look at his wife. He swallowed in a way that caused his Adam's apple to bulge against the collar of his shirt, nearly choking him, and then raised his foot onto the platform. It was the most difficult step of his life, but fortunately his guests attributed it to nervousness. Another step and he was up on the dais, which allowed him to finally, mercifully, sit down upon *his* throne, facing the crowd.

The experience was completely different between being a face in the crowd versus this. Zara's fears took a back seat. Looking at Marcus before they entered the great hall, she found her strength. Every step they made, they made it together. It was more than a metaphorical statement. She held his arm softly as they began to walk down the aisle. Zara had familiarized herself with the guest list in attempt to make a better impression. She took pointers from her husband, greeting those who she recognized with kind words. It made the procession to the throne take longer, regardless, it was necessary. Her mind worried about Marcus. Their practice sessions had been so few. Not a lot of time had passed since he sustained his injuries. If her device failed them, then the deception would be over.

Her head rose towards the thrones. She instantly noticed what he did: a step! Zara felt sweat roll down the back of her neck. She simply didn't know if he could make it. Her hand clung to his arm a little harder. She looked up at him. Zara gave him her best reassuring smile. They had no choice: they had to do it. Taking it slowly, Zara did everything she could to provide her husband with extra support while he took the step. The slight signs of relief showed in her facial features. That was one hard part over and done with.

At last, they were both seated before the crowd. Zara looked out over all those who had come to see the coronation. *Circumcision* she thought to herself, internally chuckling at Ewwie's mistake. The minister began to speak to the crowd. He rambled on and on endlessly while Zara tried to remain still on the throne that literally felt like sitting on a rock. She knew the crowns would come, and then they would assume their new titles. Life was changing in so many ways. When she broke into this very castle to steal from Marcus, she had never expected that they'd end up married, at the edges of parenthood, becoming the Duke and Duchess of Delaya. He was the most unexpected, greatest surprise of her life. Zara smiled to herself. Yeah, they could do this. She turned her head to show Marcus that she was feeling happier because she had *him* in her life.

There would be one noted change between the coronation of Claudius and Marcus ... the presence of Papius Arundel, the Imperial Governor of Delaya. His entrance came midway into the coronation, walking down the aisle without acknowledging anyone. He was flanked by an elite guard of Stormtroopers, one of whom was carrying the very same box that contained the crown jewels of Delaya. As he came to a stop in front of the dais, he lifted open the box and rose Marcus' crown and Zara's tiara for all in attendance to see. "By the authority of His Majesty, The Emperor I crown thee Marcus and Zara, Duke and Duchess of Delaya," he said, in a loud, booming voice to signal that the freedom and independence of Delaya was now merely symbolic and that he, as the Emperor's representative, held the power now. As he placed the tiara on Zara and the crown on Marcus he leaned between them and whispered. "It is I who put these crowns upon thy head, and it is I who can take them off," he warned, with a forced smile, before pulling away, and turning to face the crowd.

Tension rocked through Zara's body as she saw the last person she wanted to see: Papius Arundel. Her clothing made her incapable of carrying a concealed weapon. She was exposed to the man who was, unknowingly, hunting for her husband. Her fingers gripped the arm of the throne, readying to rise if she needed to cut Papius off from Marcus. Instead, it was *he* who placed the crowns upon their head. First, he settled the tiara on her head. Its weight felt insignificant while she sat in the eyes of her enemy. She watched him place the crown on Marcus. She didn't miss his snarky little comment. They would see. They would see...

Callista Nilar was idly petting Ewwiekewwieikkie's head in the crowd. She had no idea that the man who held her mother was the very same one which waltzed past her. What she did know was that he had ... *crowns*! The rest of the crowd had gone silent so when Callista let out a squee of joy, *everyone* heard it. "Crowns! Crowns!" She was so happy to see that *someone* had listened to her requests. Within her messy brown hair, she *still* wore the very same tiara that her uncle had given her. She only took it off when she slept. "Auntie! We match!" She called out before someone nearby shushed her. The little girl looked on adoringly. It was like a fairy tale! Now her auntie and uncle were going to get to live happily ever after in the big castle. *Sigh*! She was so happy!

Drusilla Rodney watched helplessly as the family jewels that she had so carefully smuggled off Delaya when the Imperial sacked the city were given to her aunt and uncle. She could *not* have looked more bored, as she sat there, leaning her chin upon the palm of her hand. When Callista began to get excited she made no effort to silence her, as a simple coronation dress was not enough of a payment for her to attempt to exert control over her. She had been bribed to get them there and back, but she would go no further. When Jelena defected she had begun planning her own coronation, but now that would never come to pass. There was nothing worse than *almost* becoming a Duchess.

The ceremony reached its conclusion and the time to stand came again. Another crucial time had come for her husband. In attempt to make it easier in front of Papius, Zara clasped his hand. As they were introduced as the Duke and Duchess of Delaya, she rose. There were applause from the crowd. Zara forced a sweet smile even though the Governor's presence had greatly displeased her. One way or another, he needed to go.

Marcus was outraged as Governor Arundel, an outsider and the orchestrator behind the decimation of Leiliani placed the crown upon his and his wife's head. The implied threat that came elicited no reaction from him, as he knew it was the Governor's trap. As he heard Callista's outburst he thought of the young girl's mother, whom this Governor was holding captive. He rose with Zara to receive the adoration of the people. As he looked out at the sea of happy faces the momentous nature of this occasion finally hit him. The spare had become the Duke of Delaya.

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