Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:8:6) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Marcus Rodney's chalet) and Kwai.
Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, Lady Drusilla Rodney, Major Sierra Rodney, Duchess Zara Rodney, and Snoke.

Despite the brief comm calls with El-Nay the other day, Sierra Rodney had opted to remain on Delaya a little longer. She found the mystery surrounding her son to be focused here; in the northern hemisphere of Delaya. Maybe she thought she'd learn more about him if they stayed longer. Maybe she was avoiding diving back into the chaotic life waiting for her on Esseles. She had left Bruce in the surprisingly capable hands of Zara Rodney, who acted like a baby whisperer now that she had twins. When she had departed from the chalet, Zara was on the floor with the children attempting to teach them all how to crawl.

Sierra stood at the banks of the lake on the black, coal-like rocks. She looked over the crystal blue water. The way the steam erupted over it gave the lake a magical feeling. She had not visited the home beneath the lake since Bruce's blessing. Originally, she thought she might spend more time there. Instead, she spent her time huddled up in her brother's chalet with the rest of her family. She extended her hand like she was trying to make contact with the monster of the lake. As she did, it could be seen breaking the surface from the opposite side of the lake. The monster seemed less violent now that Bruce was here. She had heard Zara make the same observation earlier in the day. One thing was clear, Bruce was destined for greater things.

Claudius Rodney was glad to be on Delaya, and even more glad to be away from the squabbling officers that comprised his sector command. He watched from the window of the chalet as Sierra moved towards the lake and, taking a final sip of his hot chocolate, excused himself and moved down the stairs and eventually out of the chalet to join her. "When I saw that thing grab Bruce I thought it was all over," he confessed to his wife, as he moved to place a hand on her shoulder. "I would never have forgiven myself. I wouldn't have been able to go on living," he confessed to her, as he looked out onto the steamy water of the lake. "I still don't know what to make of all that happened," he confessed to her, as he kept an eye on the sea monster. Thankfully it was keeping its distance.

Sierra jumped. She hadn't heard him approach her. Instead, she had been lost in her thoughts. Her eyes remained on the monster. "I did too," she confessed in an especially raw moment. She would never forget those seconds directly after Bruce was taken. Those were the moments she swore it was all over; her son was dead. She slowly turned towards Claudius. His confession had grown darker. She frowned, wrapping her arms around him to provide him the support they both needed right now. "It's a lot to process. The insanity surrounding Bruce's birth was a lot to take in. I didn't realize that there would be so much more." She told him. "It all feels surreal, to be honest. He's so small and helpless right now. It's hard to imagine that one day he'll be capable of the same things as Lord Vader...and maybe even more."

Claudius has served under Jedi Generals such as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Mace Windu during Clone Wars. He never understood their powers, nor did he think to ask. When they attempted to assassinate the Supreme Chancellor he had largely put the Jedi Order from his mind. Now, as he was dealing with it in his own home he wished he had asked. Lord Vader had nearly executed him, and if he contracted him about what was happening with Bruce he might take action now and not even wait five years. Inquisitor Thrope was his enemy and he would not reveal to her what was going on either. They were alone, with only holograms from Germanicus and Raeni to guide them whose appearance they could not predict or control. They were on their own. "In time he will grow to use his powers to bring peace and justice to the galaxy in the way we never can," he confessed to her, as he wrapped his arms around her as well. "I trust our son to grow into an honorable man who will use his powers to stabilize the Empire rather than inflict petty acts of vengeance," he assured her, as he lowered his head to place a kiss upon her.

Maybe if they were on better terms with Lord Vader, it would have been possible to find answers. He hardly seemed like the kind of person you could invite over for tea, crumpets, and questions about the Force. So far, every experience she had with the Force was negative. She'd watched Claudius nearly choked to death by Lord Vader. Inquisitor Thrope had demonstrated her skills for Sierra first-hand. She wished the ghost of Germanicus or Raeni would appear so she could question them and fill in the blanks in her mind. Instead, all she had was a little box that told her everything was going to be okay. There was no space between her and her husband. She decompressed against his chest. He rekindled the fire of hope inside of her that had gone out when the monster stole their son. She leaned upward to kiss him. "With you as his father, how could he turn into anything else?" She asked, nuzzling her nose against his. "Am I the only one feeling a little reluctant to return to life on Esseles?" She questioned him with a small smile on her face. "I'm sure all hell has broken out at home, *and* on the dreadnaught."

Claudius smiled as his wife paid him the ultimate compliment, that he would be a good father, but when the subject turned to 'home' on Esseles he could not help but frown. "Delaya will always be my home, but wherever you are is where I am meant to be," he told her, as he leaned in and placed another kiss upon her neck. "It would be easy to resign and retire to civilian life here, but the Emperor has entrusted me with this problem and I do not wish to give up," he told her, honestly, as he pulled his head back up so he could look her in the eye. "If I can defeat the Rebels in the Ringali Shell and retire victoriously I could maintain the Emperor's favor, and perhaps continue to play a role in Bruce's life after he begins his training," he said, with naive optimism, as he looked towards her with a hopeful look. "Will you help me?" he pleaded with her, literally hanging on her next words.

'Home' truly was an ever changing place. Sierra felt relieved that their lives had become so tightly coiled together. It wouldn't be the same on the Retributor without him. Nothing would be the same without him. She could see the lure in throwing in the towel now. Instead of fighting Rebels day in and day out, they could live their days building up their family. Retirement would come...but now wasn't the time. She couldn't turn her back on the war. It needed to end first. His optimism was infectious. It spread into Sierra and took over her like disease. He showed her a path where they could continue to have a relationship with their son during his trainings, and that was something that was *very* important to her. The answer to his question was obvious. Despite what she dealt with from higher up officers, she would not leave her husband's side and hide from them. "Absolutely, Claudius. I have been here for wins. I've been here for the losses. I'll be there when we send the Rebels scampering from the Ringali Shell. I *will* fight this with you." She smiled. "You'll retire a hero. We can live here. We can live in Esseles. I don't care, as long as you're there." Sierra's mood was improving rapidly thanks to all these false senses of hope. "*We* can do it."

Before Claudius met Sierra he did not think victory was possible. It was not that Kerrie was a poor adjutant, but she simply did not inspire him or motivate him. She propped him up as best she could, but never convinced him to be bold, or take risks. She simply tried to tread water, but it was Sierra who had convinced him to attack the Rebels on Brentaal. She had delivered him a victory. A *real* victory. And with the retreat of the Rebel fleet at Chandrila everything was momentum was beginning to shift in their direction. He put all of the credit squarely on her. "Thank you, my love. I believe that," he said to her, as he leaned in and placed yet another kiss upon her. "I love you ... so much," he told her, as he became nearly overcome with emotion.

Her hands cupped his face softly while they kissed. Her mind, gradually, became leveled again. Her family was safe. Her husband was ... *amazing*. She had what she needed. "I love you *so* much." She told him passionately. It seemed that Arden Zevrin's intent to use Sierra to destroy Claudius had backfired in every single way. Instead, they had empowered each other to rise. She continued to cuddled him at the lake.

"Awwww..." Duchess Zara Rodney had snuck up on her sister and brother having a moment. "You guys are so cute!" She couldn't help being obnoxious after successfully pulling together Pilaq and Alessandra. "Oh yeah! I came out there for a reason. You guys gotta come back inside. There's a holonet news report that you *have* to see." Zara wasn't even going to begin to explain the short clip she had watched. Instead of standing out there in the snow explaining that their Squibs had a close encounter with a rancor, she'd let them see! Zara headed back into the chalet. It environment may have been thawing, but it was still very cold. She made her way back to the living room where the twins, and Bruce, were set up on a blanket. "Aw, Sia. You're getting it!" She cheered for her daughter, who was on all fours rocking back and forth as children do before they learn to crawl.

"Oh no. Has it been another attack?" Claudius asked anxiously, but instead decided just to see for himself. "Come, Sierra," he said, as he led her by the arm into the chalet. He feared what he was about to see, but instead of a Rebel terror attack the words 'Squib Menace' were plastered onto the bottom of the broadcast. "What?" he asked, as he moved forward, attempting to silence everyone, as he moved closer. As he listened to the reporter recap what had happened with the battle in the rancor enclosure, and the contamination of the choreamnos his heart began to stop. Apparently the zoo had to be closed and the damage was rising into the hundreds of thousands of credits. A xenophobic commentator wearing COMPNOR regalia was suggesting that the zoo, and other public locations, be designated 'human only'. He was mortified. "El-Nay..." he muttered, as his eyes looked over towards Sierra.

Sierra's heart skipped a beat. She immediately thought about the strange explanation Melickielickie had tried to give her over the comm. It made no sense at the time. Unknown to her, it was about to make a lot more sense. She looked at Claudius with concern as they rushed into the chalet. The first thing she noticed was the two words in bold lettering: Squib Menace. "Oh no." She watched the broadcast from the zoo. There was footage of Ewwiekewwieikkie, Melickielickie, and El-Nay inside of the rancor enclosure. Someone had filmed Callista rubbing her face into a choreamnos. All the while, the reporter was spouting terrible xenophobic comments. There was talk of segregation on Esseles, not to mention how much damage had been inflicted on the zoo. "El-Nay..." She never should have taken the Squibs to the zoo by herself. "We need to get back to Esseles as quickly as possible." She bent down to pick up Bruce from the ground. "We'll worry about a punishment for El-Nay later. Zara, will you get Drusilla for me?"

The silver haired teenager was sooooo glad this had happened on El-Nay's watch and not on hers. She wondered if they'd be attending a funeral for the Mandalorian sooner than later. She had hated her at first, but the orange armored idiot was really wearing off on her. She cringed as her name was tossed into the mix. "M-Me..? Okay..." Zara had a secret. She was *afraid* of Drusilla Rodney. She had endured a shopping trip with her and Ewwiekewwieikkie some time ago. That had been interesting to say the least. Reluctantly, she rose from the floor and moved up stairs towards the room they had put Drusilla in. Marcus and Zara were happy because Claudius' family made for *much* quieter guests than Petrus and Luna had. She didn't even mind it when Drusilla blasted them all out with cool jizz tunes. Anxiously, Zara knocked on her door. "Drusilla..? You're going home now." Zara's job was complete. She turned around to run away.

"Thank goodness," Drusilla Rodney declared, as she hated being isolated from civilization for this long. There was nowhere to shop, and nowhere to eat but home. She was already packed, and in fact had never truly unpacked. She did not have to be told twice, and when she descended the stairs with bag in hand she caught a glimpse of the HoloNet coverage. "Oh my Germanicus," she said slowly as she watched the chaos unfold on the screen. "You see!" she said to Sierra, making this all about her. "I am the best to be in charge. Not that tin can," she muttered, before letting out a 'hmph' and moving out towards the shuttle.

Claudius could not believe what had happened, Sierra would have to work her magic on him to prevent him from thoroughly chastising El-Nay for her misconduct. "I agree he said," just as he was hit by a dreaded 'I told you so' from his daughter Drusilla. "Oh boy. This is going to be a *long* flight," he warned Sierra, before moving towards Marcus and Zara. "Thank you for your hospitality," he said, as he reached out to hug each of them. "Please let us know if the droid does anything else, or if you find anything of note within that submerged structure. They had decided not to tell Marcus and Zara about the message from Duchess Raeni or the holocron. They did not understand it themselves enough to explain it, nor did he want them to feel concerned or even jealousy.

Zara squeezed her brother. "Nana, help them with their things please." She said over his shoulder. "Good luck. I'll do some messing around with Nana and see if I can get something working. If you guys need anything, call us." She gave Sierra a quick hug as well. She fell back beside Marcus. She wanted to them him the twins progress on crawling. "Bye!"

The 'I told you so' felt worse than watching El-Nay fight a rancor. "I agree as well..." Nothing like this happened on Drusilla's watch. Everyone remained within the estate when Dru watched them. Bruce also preferred her over both Kerrie and El-Nay. "Thank you for including us in blessing the children." She said to Marcus and Zara. With goodbyes soon complete, she made her quick departure towards the shuttle. She made sure to grab her datapad from the cabin as to continue to watch the situation unfold while Lieutenant Anson piloted them home. "Lieutenant, please take us to Esseles. . . as quickly as possible." She sat down and began situating Bruce and the safety harness. When everyone was prepared for lift off, the shuttle left Delaya behind. In the mysterious lake, Sir Tentacles seemed to wave a tentacle goodbye. Germanicus and Raeni Rodney's heir had finally arrived.

The creature beneath the lake had indeed sensed the existence of Bruce Rodney, a presence it had not sensed in seven centuries since the presence of Germanicus Rodney. The Emperor himself had sensed it, as had his apprentice Darth Vader, but so had someone else ... beyond the known galaxy ... more elusive. Deep in the unknown regions an ancient evil lingered, and had stirred, and had too sensed the distance present of the improbable infant now traversing the Galactic Core.

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