Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:5:2) in the Essesia system: Esseles (New Calamar: Avetti's).
Grand Moff Claudius Rodney and Commander Sierra Rodney.

*Vroom* the engine of Claudius Rodney's Ikas-Adno 22-B Nightfalcon roared to life in the garage of his estate on Esseles. With his wife on the back, he activated the repulsorlift engines and sent them flying out of the garage on what he hoped would be a quiet and uneventful night out in New Calamar. Dressed in casual civilian attire, which most normal folks would consider dressed up, he blew past the security checkpoint and began heading down the winding mountain road that would ultimately lead to New Calamar. "Hang on back there," he warned her, as he leaned forward, and pushed forward on the throttle accelerating well beyond the posted speed limits. He was being reckless, particularly for someone with a pregnant wife on the back, but he was confident in his abilities and did not want his force of bodyguards to be able to catch up with him. As the mountain road merged into the bustling city streets of New Calamar he throttled down to a safer speed, blending into traffic as he looked for a restaurant. Imperials were *everywhere* at Arden Zevrin's directive. It reminded him, painfully, of Delaya towards the end.

Behind Claudius Rodney sat his wife, Sierra. Her arms were wrapped firmly around his waist. In the line of reckless things they had done together, this seemed to rank low. Her trust in him was blindly complete. He would never purposely put her and their son in any danger. She was pleased with their plans for the evening: a night out without Imperials of any sort breathing down their neck. When life became increasingly difficult, it was important to escape it all and to have time to themselves. Her face was hidden beneath a red helmet. As least she put in the effort for some safety, right? She was dressed for an evening out with her husband. Her simple long sleeved dress showcased all of her curves. She wore a pair of black leggings underneath it for the sake of her own decency. She was, after all, riding a speeder bike. Her hair was an afterthought.

She clung a little harder at his warning. The world buzzed by them rapidly. She enjoyed this ride, much like she had enjoyed the one they shared in Delaya... *Delaya*. The wind swept over her body. It left pleasant goosebumps behind on her spine. Once they made it into the city, she softened her grip. Where could they go? The Imperial presence was so heavy in New Calamar. Sierra thought and thought. "I have an idea, keep going forward." She said suddenly. From behind him, she instructed him where to turn as they traveled deeper and deeper into the city. "There," she said at last, nudging his attention towards a restaurant with neon blue lettering. *Avetti's* it stated. The establishment itself wasn't shady in the slightest. At the same time, it wasn't top tier dining. She suspected they'd find no Imperials there either.

Unable to make reservations due to security concerns, Claudius had no idea where to go until his wife spied a location out of the corner of her eye. Following her directions dutifully he pulled the speeder bike up to the restaurant, and turned his attention to helping her off. He ran his hands over his body, attempting to dust off some of the dirt that had gotten on him during the ride down from the mountain. "Let's hope they have pudding for dessert," he said to Sierra, before taking her hand and leading her into the restaurant. As they moved forward into Avetti's it seemed to be a rather modest place compared to some of the places they had been. As predicted, it was too low key and off the beaten path to draw any Imperial officers, though it was always possible some enlisted personnel were there. "Table for two, please," he said, keeping his head down, but it was only a matter of time until someone recognized him. They were led to a small, private booth towards to the back of the restaurant where they were provided with water and menus. "What looks good?" he asked her, afraid that his pregnant wife was about to say 'everything'. "You know ... with all that's going on you probably didn't realize this," he said to her, as he put the menu aside. "...but it's our three month anniversary," he said, as he reached into his pocket slowly. He produced a small, modest gift of a bracelet that went back in his family's history. "Legend tells it was purchased for the wife of Germanicus Rodney, my ancestor and the founder of my dynasty, when they first met," he informed her, but he did not know if it was true ... mother always told such tall tales when she got into the wine. If Sierra examined closely she would still see the strands of blue hair. The places it had been and the stories it could tell.

With his help, Sierra rose from the speeder bike. In a few months, she was *really* going to miss that thing. She took off the helmet, then rearranged herself. She couldn't believe she had developed a pregnancy craving food. It was like nothing tasted good during the morning sickness. Now that it had cleared, *everything* was delicious. She laughed and squeezed his hand. "Shhh. Don't say the 'p' word too loud. I don't want to be the face of Auntie Mae's next big thing." She had seen all of the ... *creative* advertisement that the woman was doing lately. Sierra was so, *so* glad not to be apart of any of that.

The restaurant was, as she hoped, quiet. They were granted a table without a wait or a scene. As they moved through the restaurant towards the back, Sierra noticed that there was some soft music playing live. She recalled reading a review about this place previously. She had wanted to give it a why not try it now? Sierra sat in the both, picking up her menu. She briefly gazed over it. Today, her body had decided that a good nerf steak sounded absolutely lovely. Sierra looked up at him. "Dessert." She winked, clearly not talking about pudding. In all that was going on, Claudius realized it was their three month anniversary before she had. Sierra blushed. "Is it really? Time is flying by now." She was happy to have given him three months of her life. She had so many more to share with him.

She ignored her menu, watching her husband withdraw a breathtaking bracelet from his pocket. Sierra felt like the queen of her castle. It was so, *so* sweet of him. Her hormones pawed at her, suggesting that now would be a great time to cry. Her eyes became hot... Damnit! "Oh my goodness, it's beautiful! Thank you!" She reached across the table. Her hands first ran over his in a slight show of affections. She offered him her small wrist for help getting it on. It was exciting to hear about the Rodney family history. It seemed no one had nice things to say about some of the Dakkars of the past. "Wow," and look, there was blue fur in it. She wondered if it had come out of Ewwie's mouth ... or the alternative. It was nice of Ewwie to help Claudius pick it out. Once it was on her wrist, she leaned in to share a short kiss with him. "Thank you for these last three months. You've made me into one happy woman. I'm not easy to please either." She warned. Her fingers drew invisible pictures in the palms of his hands. "May the force be with you for the next three." She grinned.

Claudius was positively beaming as he watched her take his present, but when she quoted the Jedi who had attempted to assassinate the Chancellor and overthrow the Senate he was slightly taken aback. He did not voice his thoughts on the subject, as he realized his wife probably was not even born when the events occurred. He did, however, wonder about her wretched mother, Rikka, and what notions she had put in her daughter's mind. Before too long a serving of Essellian snails arrived at the table, steamed within their large shells and coated with butter and garlic. "Ah," he said, as he took one into the serving device and forked one of the little creatures out. "These last three months have been the hardest in my life, Sierra, but I know that I am only here alive and well because of you," he said, as he looked into her eyes and slid his hand over to her, beneath the table, until it came to rest on her inner thigh.

Uh oh. That was probably a terrible joke considering the current allegations against her. The server saved them from a potential moment of Sierra stuttering her way through an apology. She looked down at the nails. They smelled so good! They may not be pudding, but they'd sure as heck hit the spot. She picked up her fork as she reflected over the last three months. They had suffered incredible pains together. They celebrated immense triumphs and everything in between. She plucked one of the snails from the platter. Her eyes remained on him. His words were so sweet. A single hand drifted underneath the table to rest on top of his hand. "The feeling is mutual, my love. At this point, I'm quite sure I wouldn't be able to function without you. You have become such a vital part of my life. I don't know what tomorrow will bring, or tomorrow's tomorrow. What I *do* know is that I'll be facing it with you. So, let the galaxy throw whatever it wants at us. We'll both survive." She smiled just before she took a bite into the snail. She was so modest and dainty! "I do have *onneee* request of you." Sierra was beaming. She was so much happier tonight.

"Wait a minute. You don't know what tomorrow will bring? You're my Adjutant ... you're supposed to be on top of these things!" Claudius replied, playfully chastising her, with a sly smile as his hand continued to tease her beneath the privacy the table in the dimly lit restaurant. "A request?" he said, as he pulled back, leaving the smile on his face. "I was warned marriage came with demands," he said, playfully rolling his eyes as he waited for her next words. "All right. Out with it," he said, as he leaned forward in the table. He had no idea what it could be, but if it involved him climbing stairs to fetch pudding he would be awfully disappointed. He would, however, oblige.

She burst out laughing. "Well, I'm the worst Adjutant ever!" No, no. Sierra was too anal and OCD to be bad at her job. She knew his days inside and out. The playful teasing beneath the table was alluring her. She was a woman, after all. Her husband was incredibly attractive. It was natural to want to jump his bones no matter where they were. Just ask the pieces of his coffee table that they had destroyed on the Retributor. He kept her laughing and enjoying herself. She playfully withheld her request. She, too, leaned forward until she could kiss him once more. Her heart soared in her chest. She looked at him, completely serious, and said. "I need you to take out the trash." The seriousness melted into playfulness immediately. She scooted right next to him. "I want you to dance with me." She said, her eyes flickering over to the musicians were playing. "Some people have really insane sexual fantasies... And I do too... But I also have a fantasy about dancing with you." Sierra was blushing again. She became so shy that she looked away from him.

Claudius was a little slow on the uptake when Sierra asked him to take out the trash, as he was sure they had people for that ... and if they did not he would surely hire them straight away. But then the subject turned to dancing and suddenly he would rather take out the trash. He felt himself grow nervous, and the collar of his shirt suddenly felt like it was two sizes too small. "Dance? Uh. Sure..." he said, knowing he could not deny his wife on their anniversary. He took her by the hand and led her towards the dance floor where he embraced her close to his body. One, two, three, one, two, three, he counted in his head as he began to slowly move around with her. He was no expert ballroom dancer, but he could at least perform a couple of basic moves without breaking her toes.

She was pleased to be whisked away towards the dance floor. Honestly, she thought it would take more convincing. She wore such a wide smile on her face. If the lights had broken in the entire establishment, she could have lit it back up. Her arms wrapped around him at his shoulders so her head could rest beneath his chin. Her body pressed into his comfortably. Her little heart soared. She could feel how tense he was. He was overthinking it. She began to lead him with her own body. Moving to the music was very natural for her considering the fact that she'd played since she was capable of holding a violin properly. "This is wonderful.." She was a massively spoiled girl. Next month, she would spur a nice surprise on him. Her tummy felt like there was butterflies in it. In reality, she was simply feeling the gentle, subtle movements of their son. Slowly, her head lifted from his chin. "I love you so much, my Claudius." She pressed her lips into his neck. He had been gently teasing her at the table. Now, on the dance floor in such an intimate position, it was Sierra's turn. Her hips moved slowly with his. She ground on him gently, but it wasn't extremely obvious to any onlookers.

Even though they were in a crowded restaurant experiencing its dinner rush, Claudius felt as if he and Sierra were the only two people there. As her body pressed against him he felt a closeness he had never before shared with another human being. "I love you too, Sierra," he told her, before he lowered his head, pressing his lips to her as the dance continued. There was nowhere else he would rather be, and no one else he would rather be with. Despite the loss of his father, his mother, his daughter, and indeed the very city in which he grew up he was a very happy in man in his wife's loving arms. It did not make sense, but then again ... love seldom did. As he looked down at her he forgot all of his problems and simply danced the night away.

If any other couple had faced the woes that they had, then it wouldn't have worked. Every day presented challenges. Some were harder than the others. Sierra had been there to watch Claudius bury his daughter and his mother. She had been there for every moment of him sitting at the head of his family. Through all she had seen of her husband; Grand Moff Claudius, Duke Claudius, and a father soon to *four*, he had demonstrated this inspirational strength. He used it to hold her up when she was scared or sad. As they kissed, Sierra reflected on how fortunate she was. She could never point to herself before him and explain how broken she had been. It was still true. He gained her affections the first moment she stepped into his office. At that moment, nothing else mattered. Not the crowd, not Arden, not Papius, not *any* problem. It was a mystery as to how he could make her so happy. Sierra could only explain it as that they were simply meant to be.

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