The HoloNet was ablaze with a new advertisement
featuring Auntie Mae's latest flavor, Sierra's Scandal
Squib Sinsation, which featured a mix of vanilla and
berry ice cream that was described as too hot to miss.
As Claudius sat on the bed in the lakehouse watching the
ad he was mortified, so much so that he actually
*wanted* to pet Nea. "C'mere," he said, as he reached
out and scratched at his head. It was just supposed to
be a simple trip to the Squib medical school, but he
should have expected complications whenever the Squib
people were involved. At least they were at the
lakehouse where no one could tease them about the latest
holonet scandal. Never again would he be able to look at
the King of the Squib Polyanarchy the same way again.
There had only been one option: run away. Sierra
Rodney felt she might be safe from the cruel HoloNet at
the lakehouse. She had been in the refresher taking a
much needed shower. She'd been in there for so long that
the warm water ran out. Even if she lived to
five-hundred years old, she would never forget how it
felt to be assaulted by the King of Skor II. As she
emerged from the refresher, dressed in only her robe,
she heard the Auntie Mae commercial. Wordlessly, she
turned off the HoloNet. There were videos of the whole
incident circulating. Sierra didn't need to explain
herself to Claudius. He'd *seen* it all. "Ewwiekewwieikkie
is *not* going to that school!" She declared as she made
her way up into their bed. "Can you believe that? He
expected me to...to *do things* with him!" She had
thrown away her trousers. They would never be the same
again. She reached towards Nea, slowly petting further
down the felinx' body.
"It's good to be the King," Claudius told her, before
raising his hands in a defensive position to protect
himself in case she threw a pillow at him. "I'm sorry,"
he said, as he tried his best to look apologetic. There
was, however, something humorous about what had
happened. "Agreed. Maybe we could find a school here on
Esseles that she could commute to and you could
supervise what's going on," he suggested, as he did not
like what 'hands on laboratory exercises' meant at the
Squib school. "Are you okay?" he asked her, as they
began petting Nea together. He looked over at the
bassinet to where Bruce was currently resting, unaware
that the sea cow and otters had excitedly began swimming
about outside his window.
She made a face. "Ooooh. It's easy for *you* to joke
about. You weren't the one getting humped! You may be
injured, but I can still make you sleep on the couch!"
Sierra threatened him playfully. She inched closer to
him. After all that had happened, she was glad to be
home. "I like that plan better. She's too far away on
Skor II ... and I don't trust that pervy King... She saw
him *naked*, Claudius! There's going to be questions! I
was hoping to wait, you know, another twenty years
before we had to explain all of that to her." She
sighed, "I'm okay. I feel terribly embarrassed. The
HoloNet is going to keep this in the spotlight for a
long time." Her fingers rubbed over Nea's back. Petting
the felinx helped some of her discomfort disappear. "Are
you okay? Despite our wants, it seems Nea has become one
with you." She watched the felinx soak up the affection.
He rubbed his furry head against Claudius' hand
"Melickielickie didn't see, did she?" Claudius asked,
more concerned about the child than the adult. "He
always seemed so nice..." he said, his cheeks reddening,
as he tried to put it from his mind. "I'm sure there'll
be another scandal in no time to get you out of the
headlines," he said, trying his best to reassure her.
"I'm feeling better by the minute now that the felinx is
no longer perched on my chest," he told her, as he began
petting the felinx again. "I'm not sure why he is
behaving this way towards me," he said to Sierra, as
suddenly the felinx began rubbing his hand. "Ugh," he
said, rolling his eyes and wondering if somehow Bruce
was involved in this behavior.
"No... Thankfully she was asleep. We were able to
preserve her innocence." The HoloNet would have its fun
with her and then it would be over. No matter what was
reported, her family continued to love her. That was
what mattered. "I'm glad to hear you're feeling better.
I was worried about you." Her hand rolled off of the
felinx. Instead, she cuddled at his side with her arm
gently draped around him. "Because you possess whatever
trait that your family has that makes animals attracted
to them. Think about it. Our special thranta ride." Her
eyes lit up. That was an especially precious moment in
her life that she treasured. "I don't think it's Bruce
this time. I think it's you." Her fingers ran up and
down over his arm. "I'm sure you're relieved it's Nea
who wants to cuddle on your chest and not Crassus."
Sierra revealed slyly. Oh, she knew all about that
Claudius lay with his wife processing what she had
said. She was right ... he had a lot of special
encounters with creatures himself ... even before Bruce
was born. "You're right," he admitted to her, before
turning to place a kiss upon her forehead. "You're
always right," he added, admitting that she had a much
better assessment of things than he did. "Crassus? Who
told you about Crassus? I'd almost forgotten about
him..." he admitted, as getting married and have a child
had made his shipboard pet an afterthought. He wondered
what would happen if Bruce ever crossed paths with that
"Don't you forget it," she said playfully, though she
was far from always being right. She hadn't been right
about the trip to Skor II. "I caught Kerrie preparing
his meal one day. I was jealous you had a worrt and
didn't tell me." She teased. "Then he almost ate us...
So, I think you're the one with the magical animal
touch. I have to ask ... where did you get him?" The
age-old mystery would finally be solved! Sierra still
thought that Crassus had been pocketed when he was small
enough that pocketing was possible. "Do you have any
other secret pets? I'd imagine you could fit a lot on
"He almost ate you?!" Claudius exclaimed, having
never wanted his wife near the vicious creature. "I'm
afraid there isn't much of a story there. I was doing an
anti-piracy patrol near Hutt space and the creature was
amongst the cargo," he explained, as he knew that it was
a subject of some conjecture among the crew. "I did not
want to have him disintegrated so I took him as a pet,"
he explained to her, as he recounted the rather mundane
tale. "He has been with me for over a decade, but,
unfortunately, not without incident," he explained to
her, reflecting on all of those that had been injured
... and *worse* ... during the years of transferring him
from ship to ship.
"Well, he almost ate Kerrie first." Sierra smiled. As
mundane as the story was, it demonstrated one of the
many reasons why she loved her husband so much. He was
so sweet...even to the gigantic worrt which was
responsible for all sorts of trouble. She adjusted into
an upright position before carefully maneuvering over
him to kiss his lips without disturbing the felinx or
hurting him. "As difficult as it has been to keep
Crassus, it's better than him being disintegrated. We'll
just let Kerrie keep taking care of him.." She kissed
his forehead. No sooner had she resumed a comfortable
position did her comm begin to beep from the other room.
Sierra groaned. "If that's King Ebareebaveebeedee, I'm
going to scream.." It took her a moment to gather
herself and rise from the bed. The comm continued to
beep until she reached it. "Major Rodney," she answered
professionally. It wasn't work-related. It wasn't King
Ebareebaveebeedee related either. In fact, it was just
*weird*. Five minutes later, Sierra made her way back
into their bedroom. "Do you think someone put something
in my food at the college? I *have* to be hallucinating
Apparently we've won an Auntie Mae sweepstakes..."
"What?!" Claudius exclaimed so loudly that it
strained his ribcage and startled Nea. "Why did you
enter an Auntie Mae sweepstakes? Wait, you wouldn't have
... Ewwiekewwieikkie? Melickielickie?" he asked,
throwing out suggestions as to who might be behind it.
"What did they say we won? Is this real, or is it a
trap?" he asked, rapid firing questions as his level of
trust had fallen with everything they had been through
lately. He imaged that Ewwiekewwieikkie or
Melickielickie could have very easily pressed something
on the holonet that automatically entered the family in
any number of sweepstakes. He was just fortunate they
had not overwritten the parental controls on the holonet
"It had to have been a mistake by one of them...or
both. Or maybe Sorbet figured it out. I don't know!" She
reached the bed and settled. She looked Claudius in the
face, but began laughing before she delivered the prize
to him. "Yousa gonna love dis surprise... And yes, I
think it's real... We won a Gunganese destination
wedding." Sierra was laughing again, "At Una Bombad
Smilin Shrine on Pavo Prime. Isn't that just ‘nutsen'?"
She wiped the tears away from her eyes from her
laughter. "We have to do it! How could we not!?" Sierra
reached towards Nea, petting him happily. "You can bring
"A Gunganese destination wedding?" Claudius repeated,
as if shocked that even such a thing existed. He
imagined it as being the only thing more chaotic than a
Squibbish one. "Una Bombad Smilin Shrine?" he again
repeated, before bursting in laughter, no longer able to
keep a straight face. "Are we being pranked?" he asked
her, in absolutely sincerity as such a thing did not
sound plausible. "Alright. We'll go," he said, as he
reached over to pet the felinx, with growing affection.
"...but I think we'll leave him behind, lest he end up
on the menu," he said, unsure of what exactly Gungans
ate. He had his suspicions.
"I hope not! As long as we don't have a repeat of
today's incidents with a Gungan, all will be well."
Sierra would never leave the house again if that
happened. "Ooh, good point. Gungan cuisine can be rather
interesting..." Interesting was a gentle word. Sierra
reached over to turn out the lamp beside their bed.
Night had fallen outside of their content lakehouse.
Bruce was asleep, and, with any luck, he'd stay that way
until morning. Sierra gripped the blankets to cover both
of them, including the felinx who wasn't going anywhere.
She clung to her husband as she prepared to drift off
with him. "Well, even if it's really weird, I'm sure
we'll have some funny new stories. I also get to
accomplish my dream of marrying the man I love again..
Granted, I thought it would be some time before we
renewed our vows." She felt at ease with him. She
expected the Gungan destination to be nothing other than
chaotic, but it would be chaos with Claudius. That was
"So Nea is going to sleep with us from now on? Is
that how this is going to work?" Claudius asked Sierra,
dryly, as he looked down at the felinx that seemed
completely unfazed by the movement of the blankets. He
turned on his side, wrapping his arm around her and
drawing her near. He was fortunate to have her back in
his arms after the near fatal attack on Delaya and her
chaotic encounter on Skor II. He never wanted her to
leave his side again, for one never knew when a horny
head of state was lurking about. "I love you, Sierra.
I'm happy to renew our vows in whatever culture Auntie
Mae decides," he said, with a wink, before leaning
forward and placing a kiss upon her lips. "Goodnight, my
love," he said to her, trying to fall asleep, despite
the presence of the felinx.
The answer to his question lay openly on Sierra's
face. Oh yes, the felinx was staying. She snickered.
"Just for tonight." It was a little white lie. Nea had
made himself the owner of his people very quickly.
Sierra inched right into Claudius' arms. A happy sigh
escaped her as they cuddled together. It was so good to
be home: the home that was in his arms. Her heart filled
with happiness at their reunion. Likewise, she never
wanted to leave his side again. She avoided it like the
plague. "I love you, my Claudius." Her heart skipped a
beat in her chest. He knew just what to say to make her
feel like a very special woman. Her lips locked with his
in a final goodnight kiss. "Night, night, love. I'll see
you in the morning." The felinx didn't phase her. As
soon as she found her favorite spot against his chest,
she was out. As she fell asleep, the final thought that
entered her head was that she was so grateful to have
him in her life.