Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:3:17) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Leiliani: Medcenter and Rodney Castle).
Doctor Dorian Mozh, Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, and Commander Sierra Rodney.

It only seemed natural that the longest day in Sierra and Claudius' life would lead into the longest night. The ride to the medcenter had been torturous for her. Wherever they went, Sierra's mother followed closeby. Shortly before they arrived, she passed out again, thus making everyone's work a lot easier. The shampoo turned out to be the key to solving all of Sierra's problems. It didn't take much time to discover that she had been drugged with a powerful liquid form of GHB, better known as date rape. Even passed out, Sierra occasionally mumbled about a servant girl and shampoo. It was information that she was insistent upon getting out.

Sierra's hair was washed and she was admitted into the medcenter. The doctors handled her with utmost care. They were monitoring both her and the baby in her womb. Four hours after she had arrived wrapped up in a blanket, the drug's effects finally wore off. Despite how terrible the situation had been, doctors reassured the future Duke that both she and their son were doing well so far. There were so many monitors hooked up to her and her lower stomach. It was all necessary to make sure both of them were healthy.

She had been asleep for some time. Behind a closed curtain, darkness had fallen over Delaya. The city slept while the Rodney chaos continued. Sierra began to rouse from her sleep. "Claudius... C'mere..." She mumbled, reaching out to her side where he would normally sleep in their bed. There, she felt the coolness of the outer edge belonging to the hospital bed. The monitor reflected her heart as it sped up dramatically. She awoke in a panic. "Claudius?!" Before she could question where she was it clicked. She was at the medcenter, as she had been too many times before. She could see all the monitors. Bruce had his own screens. His heart was thumping at the proper fast pace for a little fetus. Her hand rubbed at her forehead. She couldn't remember what exactly had happened. There was the bath tub. There was a servant girl in their room. That was it. She needed her husband. She trusted he would be able to fill her in.

Claudius had been resting uncomfortably in the bedside chair beside Sierra, as once again events had taken him to the Leiliani medcenter. The media was on hand speculating wildly about what was happening, with much of the concern being for the unborn child she was carrying. When he heard her call for him he roused suddenly, his brown eyes opening wide. He sat up suddenly in the chair with an exclamation of fright before looking around to gauge his surroundings. It took a few moments, but he eventually remembered what brought him here and his attention turned to Sierra in the bed. "Sierra! How do you feel?" he asked, as he reached over from the chair to grab her arm, squeezing it, and looking into her eyes optimistically. It had been an awful night for him, uncertain of what was the cause of her breakdown. He needed her.

The events leading to her ending up in the medcenter were very fuzzy. She tried hard to think about it...had something happened? As concerned and scared as she was, Claudius' touch brought other things to the forefront of her mind. Her other hand touched his. "Tired... I'm so sorry." She looked away from him towards the monitors. "I'm sorry we ended up here again.. And after the funeral..." Both of her hands cupped his cheeks. Her baby blue eyes settled on his. "What happened to me?" She asked her husband. All she wanted to do was break free of her bed, hold him, and give *him* the opportunity to have a total melt down. She could see his concern and stress. Her hand left his, touching her forehead. She had been having the worst dream about her mother.

"You have nothing to be sorry for, my love," Claudius said, reassuringly, as he moved from the chair to stand beside his bed. His eyes darted over the bank of monitors displaying her vitals, but truthfully he did not know what any of them meant. He was just glad that nothing was beeping. Beeping was *bad* ... he knew that much. "It's alright. I enrolled us in a rewards program. The more nights the family spends in the medcenter, the more points we get," he said, with a soft chuckle, as he did his utmost to lighten the mood. "I'm not sure," he said, answering her question, as he raised his hand to run it through her blonde hair. "You were delirious. Hallucinating. Maybe you were just overwhelmed from my father's death, the incident with Jelena, Drusilla's insolence, or any of the other dozen problems we're face," he said, before lowering his face to place a kiss upon her forehead. "The doctor will be here soon," he said, before moving back to his seat. His back was killing him from a night in the chair.

Sierra laughed. "Oh my. I hope we can put the rewards points to good use. Heaven knows we've been racking them up lately." She smiled. Oh Claudius, as bad as it got he could still put a smile on her face. His explanation was strange. Her head leaned against his hand. "I can't remember any of that. I was having a really weird dream about my mother being alive again. It was a long day, but it didn't scream psychological break to me." Sierra worried. She kept one hand in his.

As suspected, an older doctor came walking into the room with a datapad in his hand. "Thank goodness, you're finally awake Lady Sierra." He paused at her monitors, jotting down the information he saw. Next, he made his way over to the bed where he checked over Sierra himself. He looked towards Claudius. "We've finished analyzing the shampoo you brought in. It was laced with a strong strain of a drug called GHB. It causes people to pass out, hallucinate, and worse. It appears to be out of Lady Sierra's system now." He said, turning away from them. He pointed at one of the monitors. "Your son has not shown anything indicating that he's suffering from the drug. His heart beat is ideal." The doctor's hand followed the up-down motions on the monitor while he attempted to soothe the couple that had been through so much. The old man could read the room like a book. "Why don't we take a peek at the little guy? Have you had a chance to see him yet?"

"You said you saw her..." Claudius told her, slowly, to avoid alarming her too much. "You said she had a ... knife," he added, swallowing slightly, uncertain of how she would take it. He decided it was better to be honest with her than try and sugar coat things for her. Before he could go on the doctor appeared, and he quickly silenced himself to concentrate his attention on what he had to say. When the doctor informed them that Sierra had been drugged his hands began to curl around the arms of the chairs, digging into the fabric as he angrily considered the news. There was the relief of knowing that their child was ok, but it was clear that another threat had been made against his family's life. "No. We haven't had a chance to see him," he said, excitedly, as he sat up on the edge of his seat. But, he realized that the decision should not be his alone. "Do you want to see?" he asked Sierra, but in the way he asked it was clear that he wanted to see. He smiled at her, eagerly waiting to hear her decision.

Sierra shivered. She had told him? The memories weren't there, but old skeletons threatened to consume her the more she thought about it. Sierra quickly closed that door of anxieties when the doctor reported that she had been drugged. The shampoo and the servant girl. She remembered that much. They had to be connected. Her anxiety oddly twisted at the doctor's question. The woman nearly audibly squeed. The last time she saw Pilaq, Bruce had been so tiny that there was really no *seeing* him. That had changed over the weeks she'd spent preoccupied with their family. The excitement she heard in her husband's voice warmed her. Yes, seeing Bruce was exactly what they needed. She grinned, nodding her head quickly in reply. "Of course! Please show us, doctor." Her hand squeezed her husband's.

The doctor had watched over the royal couple throughout their whole stay. He'd spent time with Julius. He was aware that the family had a trying day. Seeing them grow excited over their child warmed even his heart. He rolled out a blank monitor from behind the others which he hooked up to a handheld device. He removed the blankets and opened up Sierra's gown at her abdomen. As the screen turned on, Claudius and Sierra were gifted with the first sight of their boy. His heart continued to beat rapidly on the monitors. Even Sierra's heart began to thump quickly while she stared at the tiny, surprising baby-like features of Bruce. Since he was so young, she didn't realize how developed he was. He looked like a baby! "Our little Bruce.." She turned her head to look at Claudius as if to say 'we made that!'

Claudius' eyes were mesmerized by the display as his eyes gazed upon his son for the first time. He had spent most of his adult life waiting for this moment, and it had cost his first wife her life trying. His hand moved forward, touching the display and lingering there for a long while. He was overcome to the point where he could not move or even speak. It was a blessing in an otherwise sea of horrors. After some time he turned, focusing on Sierra, with tears of joy flowing from each of his big brown eyes. "We've done it, Sierra. I love you," he told her, as he rushed to her side once again. This had completely put out of his mind that she had been drugged. His mind was totally focused on the image on the screen. Nothing else mattered. *Nothing*.

Seeing him react made the moment that much more joyous. It was wonderful to see Claudius crying tears of joy and not sadness. Sierra could feel warm tears moving down her cheeks. She felt overwhelmed by love, happiness, and relief. Throughout the storm, Bruce remained just as strong and healthy as ever. The rest of their problems had taken a backseat to that image. She swore she could have stared at it for hours. There he was, floating inside of her. Blinking away fresh tears, she embraced her husband as much as she could without disrupting the doctor. "I love you," she whimpered. This was all she had wanted: a family who loved her, a child who she could love endlessly as a mother should. Her Claudius was a godsend. Nothing would have been possible with him. She giggled, "I can't wait to see him pout like you and the girls do." She kissed his chin. The doctor made a point to print a physical copy of a photo from the ultrasound. He handed it to Sierra who, in return, offered it to Claudius. "I want you to carry this around with you. That way, whenever something bad happens, you can look of it and be reminded of how bright our future is... and how cute our baby is." She grinned. As much as they never wanted the image on the screen to disappear, it was time for the doctor to make his exit. Sierra was certain a visit to Pilaq was in the future so they could get a second dose of seeing their baby. Free from all devices, Sierra wrapped both of her arms around him and squeezed tight.

Sierra Rodney was back in her home away from home. Her trip to the medcenter was short lived after the symptoms from her drugging wore off. She was back to normal, fully restored by the powers of her husband and her son. The woman had left the medcenter classy as all hell. She came out, politely shooting down all the speculations that the HoloNet reporters by giving her official statement: she was pregnant in her first trimester. Every woman should understand the complications of morning sickness. Couple with the death of someone she had been so close to, it was exhaustion and concern for the baby that brought her to the medcenter. For Sierra, it was the way she said things. She could string her words together perfectly. Like a magical spell, the HoloNet reporters moved into a sympathetic role instead of attacking her. At least one of the family's attackers was at bay.

She was now seated at the love seat. She wore a nightgown which showed she intend to sleep at some point...but not yet. Her eyebrows were furrowed. She was thinking hard. "Claudius, I think I remember something." She told him. "When I came back to our room, I wasn't alone."

Claudius was glad to be back in the castle, even though it was the site of the recent attack on Sierra. He had taken the liberty of speaking with cousin Gaius and increasing the security at the castle. He had spent most of the night basking in the glory that was their unborn child, reviewing the image that they had been given of him over and over and over again. "Hmm? What's that?" he asked, briefly looking up from the datapad containing the image to acknowledge Sierra's statement. He placed the datapad down and only then did he hear what she had to say. "You mentioned a servant," he said, as he rose from his seat and moved to join her on the love seat. "But I thought you might have hallucinated her as you did your mother," he said, as he moved his arm around her, behind her back, and drew her in near. The embrace was warm and loving and served to bring them physically closer during this difficult time.

Sierra was not going to let fear drive her away. In this room, someone had *failed* to kill her. When they returned to do the job right, she'd be there waiting. Seeing Bruce had provided her with even more strength. She had thought hard about the events leading up to getting in the bathtub until she pieced something together...enough to report to her husband. It was *relieving* to be close to him. He did her wonders over and over again. She scooted in close to him. Her head nuzzled into his chest. "Yes.. I'm not sure if the servant was a hallucination. I can't remember anything about mother that wasn't in my dreams." That woman was *dead*. Sierra had to tell herself that repeatedly again. Even if she magically appeared, Claudius would *never* let her fall into the same situation. Her hand rubbed up and down his leg slowly. "When I came back from seeing to the girls, I recall a small servant girl in our room. She scared me. I didn't even notice her. I remember thinking that she seemed too young to be working in the castle. She told me to take a bath. She said she prepared it herself." Sierra explained. "For the life of me, I cannot remember what this girl looked like. She was short. Much shorter than I. The rest of it is a blur." She looked up at him. "Think about it. A servant girl makes sense. She would have to be working with someone, but she has had access to all of us."

"Well, *someone* had to inject that GHB into your shampoo," Claudius said, doing his best to reassure her that she was not complete crazy. "Small servant girl?" he asked, repeating her words, as the wheels in his head slowly turned to determine if he could think of anyone. "Should we have all the servants in the castle rounded up for inspection?" he asked, realizing that there were only a few hundred to sort through. It would not take *that* long. The servants had access to the entire castle ... their food ... *everything*. If it was one of the servants they never would be safe. "I think we should expedite our plans to move to the islands," he said to her, fearing neither he, nor Gaius, could ever protect them in the castle given this worrisome development.

She did feel less crazy. The thoughts before her bath were jumbled up. It was determination that helped her recall what details she could about the girl. Sierra shook her head. "As badly as I'd like to do that, I think the girl would slip through our fingers the second we begin rounding up servants. I think we can catch her still. Kerrie Kiley is still on Delaya. Given that she is a Clawdite, I think we should ask her to go undercover for us. I agree with you, my love. We need to expedite our plans to move. There's simply no way to control all the factors anymore. Do you think we should hide out elsewhere? Is living in the castle even a viable option anymore?" She sighed. She feared that next time it this girl would actually succeed. Neither one of them could make it through this insanity without each other. The coronation was around the corner as well. Sierra took a deep breath. She needed to be more aware of her stress level. "We should plan out the house and hire someone to build it immediately. I hate the idea of being chased out of the castle."

Claudius sat there silently as he listened to Sierra's idea. He had been in military service for two decades, and immediately a strategy dawned upon him ... but it was risky. "We *could* retire to the sea islands..." he began, although from the sound of his voice it was clear that was not the option that he wanted. "Or, we could stay here and use ourselves as bait to draw out the attackers," he suggested, but regretted it almost immediately after saying it. He wanted to catch the individuals responsible for the attacks on his family and the death of his father, but it was very foolish to risk his wife's safety and that of their child to achieve it. "Yes. We'll get a naval architect started on it right away. There are a few ideas I have. If Drusilla left us any money to fund the project," he said, laughing and gently shaking her a bit in his embrace. "As for Kerrie, as long as we don't get her in trouble with Zevrin you can go ahead and see if she can infiltrate the staff for us. That is, after all, what her original purpose was," he said, describing her like a tool rather than a person.

She listened to the option he already favored over departing to the beautiful sea islands. It sounded wonderful to wake up to sandy beaches, fresh air, and happy thoughts that no one was trying to kill her family ... but, Sierra wasn't going to run. This girl was a key in discovering what happened to Julius and securing her family. "Let's stay. I don't want whoever is behind this to get the idea that they've succeeded in anything except making a powerful enemy. The culprit has already gotten sloppy. The girl allowed me to see her. We have to be *very* careful. No solo baths." She felt his need to bring justice to their family. Those responsible were coming for *them* and no one else. Sierra laughed, "I make no promises on that. She insisted she needed a dozen accessories last time we went shopping. We'll need to build her a large closet. Tell me what you've got in mind." She hadn't expected the day to twist and turn like it had. She was happy now. She had not been beat down by the attack. "I'll have her come to the castle tomorrow. We can discuss everything then. As long as I'm not driving her anywhere, I think she'll do it." She would be careful to work away from Arden's eyes. Sierra turned, boarding her husband's lap. Her arms wrapped around his neck. "Are you holding up okay, Claudius? It's been a terribly long day. It made me very happy to see Bruce."

"No solo baths? Now that's an agenda I can get behind, Duchess," Claudius said, referring to her by her future title for the first time. "Since you saw her they'll either try and strike quickly before you can identify her, or retreat in the shadows and bide their time," he reasoned, but was not sure of which approach they would take. "Perhaps we should make her a countess. Give her a modest annuity. It will help when the time comes to marry her off," he said, getting about the business of planning his family's mundane future in the face of their adversaries. "How am I holding up?" he asked, with a smirk, as he rolled his eyes at her. "Alright I suppose. I've got the weight of a planet upon me now," he said, tiredly, as his eyes moved across the room towards the bed. "You really ought to sleep. Cousin Gaius positioned two of his best men at the door to our suite. No one will get in," he said to her, trying to reassure her and coax her into the bed for some much needed sleep.

Sierra was beaming and laughing. She *kinda* liked it when he called her Duchess. Okay, she liked it a lot. "Good. I decree our first conjoined bath shall occur in the morning." Sierra made her voice sound all proper-like. Whatever was coming, she felt ready. The man who had her back was the person she trusted more than anyone else. What more could she ask for? She laughed again. "You know, making Drusilla a countess is not a bad idea. It could help soothe the yacht debacle. She gave me a look colder than the tundra earlier. Teenagers, am I right?" Marrying Drusilla off was still quite a scary thought. She imagined her and Claudius holding extensive interviews with potential suitors. They weren't going to let just *anyone* take Drusilla away.

"C'mon Claudius, it's only the weight of *one* planet." Even Sierra had to admit that she was tired. It was like she had been awake for a hundred hours. She slowly slid her way out of his lap. "Alright, Duke of Delaya. It's time to get some sleep." Her hands took his. She led him back towards bed. She collected the datapad with the picture of Bruce on it along the way. Once they were laying in bed, she snuggled close to him. "One more time," she reasoned as the picture of their son appeared on the screen. Another failed attempt had pushed Claudius and Sierra closer together.

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