Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:2:19) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Marcus Rodney's chalet).
Lord Marcus Rodney and Lady Zara Rodney.

Marcus Rodney was sitting in the large bay window of the nursery, still mentally recovering from the fact that he had failed to safeguard his wife, which caused her to suffer at the hands of her very own sister. A second crib had arrived for the daughter they would name Sia, along with more products and decorations to make the room more suitable for a boy *and* a girl. He considered separating them, or knocking down a wall to combine two rooms into a larger nursery, but as a married man he had learned to wait for his wife before making a big decisions. Like tearing down their house. As he sat there watching the snow fall upon their arctic paradise he wondered if they were truly safe her, given that Luna and Petrus knew about their whereabouts, as did Imperial Intelligence. He decided that he would not be driven away from their home. Not by the Empire. Not by his family or hers. Not even by the sea monster in the adjoining lake. This was *theirs*, and one day it would belong to Darrus, Sia, and whomever else emerged from within his beloved Zara. As his eyes moved down towards the boxed crib on the floor he remembered the lessons of last time. There would be no surprises or valiant independent efforts. He *needed* her help. "Zara!" he finally called out, once he was done staring at his reflection in the window, feeling sorry for himself.

Four days away from Marcus was all it took to severely derail Zara. She kept playing the situation with Luna in her head repeatedly. She over analyzed it. Luna had never told her why, other than the obvious reason. In Zara's eyes, she could only remember her sister as a sweet, yet strong, young woman. Her sister had helped hold down the house when her parents were busy being Rebels. She couldn't recall ever doing anything to Luna that would warrant such seething hate. It didn't make sense. She'd already researched every nook and cranny on the Holonet, but she was simply looking for something that didn't exist. Her sister wasn't blogging about hating her family.

She had to look forward now. She was already nearly halfway through her pregnancy. When the twins arrived, they needed their mommy to not be off her mental game. Zara now felt a massive discomfort associated with not being close to Marcus. She didn't want her husband to know. So, instead of being on top of him, she had decided to stay in their bedroom and read up on having twins. Like anyone else, she had new Mommy worries. New Mommy worries which were, thankfully, put on hold when she heard Marcus call her. She rose to her feet, padding towards the twin's room. Since the box for the second crib arrived, she'd been waiting for him to call for her. "Have no fear, Zara is here!" She proclaimed in the doorway, happy to see that he wasn't bloodied from Round Two with the crib. A whoosh of sanity cleared her mind. She wouldn't let herself get kidnapped again. "Are we gonna tackle this second crib together? Maybe the instructions won't be in Huttesse this time."

Marcus looked at her as she arrived, with the light shining in from the hall behind her, causing a halo effect around her silver hair that made her look like an angel. "You're going to tackle it. I'm going to guard the door to ensure no tentacles destroy it," he said, jokingly, as he stood from the window seat, instructions in hand. "I'm afraid it's even worse than that," he said, as he put his arm around her. He moved into position beside her, embracing her, while holding up the instructions for her to read. "Yousa buildin' un bombad crib, okeyday," he read aloud the instructions, which were inexplicably in Gungan. "Do you understand this gibberish?" he asked, as he scrolled down a bit further on the datapad. "I don't think we need to attach the aquatic enclosure, do we?" he asked her, as he looked at the particularly daunting diagram. "Wesa goin' for a swim now, okeyday," he read, again, as he looked at what looked like more of a fish tank than a crib. "Perhaps this was meant for the sea monster," he asked her, shrugging his shoulders, and handing it off to her, as any clueless husband might do.

"Unless you rubbed it against the tauntauns, Sir Tentacles doesn't want it." She snickered. Zara waddled towards him, eyeing the data pad. "*Worse?*" No, no. There wasn't anything worse than last time. She nuzzled against the side of his body while he read the directions aloud. "Nooooo!!! Anything but that!" Gungan. *Gungan*! How had they managed to order a crib suitable for a Gungan child? Ew. How ugly a Gungan child must be... Ugh, that was a disturbing visual. "Umm.. I think we can muddle through it together. I vote no on that aquatic enclosure. If these kiddos come out with fins and gills, then I don't know what the heck happened." Her womb had only ever been occupied with one man's children and she intended to keep it that way!

She look the datapad with a silly frown on her face. "Maybe I should contact the seller. They should have made it clear that we were buying a crib for tiny Sir Tentacles.." She scrolled through the information. " Mesa gonna show you howsa build a crib. Yousa take Part As and attacheh it to Part C." She looked down at the parts, then decided that she would backseat drive through this adventure. She sat down on the window sill. "Don't worry Marcus, it's gonna be okiedokie." She giggled.

"If these kids come with fans and gills me and Sir Tentacles are going to have a *long* talk," Marcus teased her, as she looked through the instructions. He moved from her, getting on his hands and knees next to the box the crib came in. One by one he began to remove the fine Nabooian wood that would comprise the crib itself, and then the large transparasteel plating that would have made the aquatic tank. Next he pulled out the filter for the tank, and pushed it aside, as they would not need it. "I've got to stay off the HoloNet Shopping Network in the middle of the night," he said, as he finally finished unpacking. Despite the mishap they had have the parts for a very fine crib, just as nice as the one they made together for their unborn son, Darrus. "Whicha onesa is Asa?" he asked, before shaking his head at himself. "I mean, which one is part A?" he asked her, as he was surrounded by parts that all looked foreign to him. He brought his head up to scratch at his curly hair, wondering how he ever got so far in life as he had.

Zara laughed hard. "Stop getting jealous over Sir Tentacles, Marcus. I already told him that he can't kill you to marry me. He gets it." Seeing the crib outside of the box helped Zara visualize how it would all come together. Without the pieces that made the crib specifically Gungan, it looked like it would work. Soon, the room would be entirely ready for the twins. Zara had read so many things over the Holonet that said it was common for women pregnant with twins to deliver *early*. Granted, this information immensely stressed her out so she kept it to herself! "Don't worry, I've fallen prey to the HoloNet Shopping Network. Didn't you wonder where those ranchor snuggies came from?" She laughed again. She was soooo happy that she wasn't married to a Gungan. The sex had to be super awkward. "Ummm... Eeny meeny miny mo..." She started, pointing to different pieces of the crib, which, of course, were all unlabeled. "Well..." She turned the datapad to the side, eyeing the piece she was support to be looking for. I think A is that one.." She pointed to one piece. "And that one looks like C!" Her finger moved to a different piece. "Yousa put them together, okiedokie!" She giggled. "Do you think Livia forgot about the baby shower? I purposely avoided one-on-one time with her while we were in the city. She was too busy preying on Claudius' new wifey."

Marcus was full of vim and vigor as he began to assemble their daughter's crib with her guidance, and before too long roughly half of the frame was assembled with only minimal loss of blood. "Did you have a chance to make an impression of Claudius' teenage bride?" he asked, as he began assembling the side of the crib. "I'm not sure if you heard, but she built a refugee center where that awful camp once stood," he pointed out, as the pile of wood in front of him gradually began to look like something livable. "No. She has not forgotten the baby shower," he said, as he stood up, and backed away, to eyeball how it looked from a distance. "You may have gotten out of becoming Duchess, but you are still stuck with the shower," he said, as he wrapped his arm around her shoulder, being careful not to bleed on her. After admiring the nearly constructed crib for a moment he turned to her, lowered his head, and placed a loving kiss upon the side of her cheek. "We've nearly done it again," he said proudly, before returning to put the finishing touches on it.

The second time around seemed to go much more smoothly than the first. Zara really liked Sia's crib. It was just as gorgeous as the other one and coming along perfectly. "You know, after I nearly killed your brother by telling him about Tarkintown, I'm pretty sure his wife doesn't like me. She seems nice. It's really hard not to tease him about marrying someone so young." She giggled. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! Zara would only be seventeen when the twins were born, still several years younger than Sierra. "She did?! I hadn't heard..." Things had been pretty busy since Claudius' surprise wedding, and, you know, being kidnapped. "I'm grateful that is off of our shoulders. I don't know much about her, but she seems like she's cut from the proper cloth. I don't envy her. I'll invite her to the shower. Livia likes her, which means she'll make for a great human shield." Zara felt that her family was out of the line of fire. Darrus was safe. Marcus was safe. They could remain secluded and happy forever.

Her arms wrapped lowly around his waist. Her face nuzzled into his stomach. "It looks gorgeous, I love it. Thank you for doing all the hard work while I lazy around." She squeezed him. He left a smile when he pulled back from kissing her cheek. Zara rose from the window seat. She lingered close to her husband, taking in their babies' bedroom. "It's so hard to wait for them."

"As am I. I was never prepared to be Duke. I feel I dodged a blaster bolt getting out of that predicament," Marcus explained to her, as he felt her warm and loving embrace. "I'll do the work now, and you can be lazy. Then when they're born you can do the work, and I can be lazy," he said with a smirk, teasing his wife who was pregnant twice over. "Fair deal, yes?" he said to her, before leaning his head all the way back to look towards to see if she was smiling. He rose from his feet, dusting off his hands to celebrate his handiwork. "Do you really believe Gaius' assertion that Mug and Iyah were behind the attack on my father and the bombing at Jelena's funeral?" he asked her, realizing that they never got very far in their own investigation. He sat down next to her on the window seat, wrapping an arm around her, and drawing her in against him. "It just doesn't seem like something the Rebellion would do. I don't believe the reports that the Rebels killed Jelena either, candidly," he said to her, as he began to move his dirty, rough, bloodied hand into her near-perfect silver hair. Much was on his mind these days.

"I second that. I cannot imagine how difficult it is to be the Duke of Delaya. I didn't want that for you. I love you too much." She laughed at his proposal. "Keep talkin' like that, I'm gonna let Sir Tentacles take the bed. Besides, you got to be lazy while I was trying to make a baby with you." Liesss. They had been equal participants in all of that. Zara was happily teasing him. It was good to be home. The Rodney Castle had an amount of discomfort to it. She could feel the disapproval in Livia's stares. As soon as he joined her on the window sill, she made herself comfortable against him. She shook her head slowly. "I don't believe it either. Claudius will never see it like that. He's blinded to what's right in front of his eyes because of his affiliation with the Empire. Gaius only found a scrap of proof regarding Iyah's identity. He jumped the gun. He's acting foolishly too." She didn't care if he dirtied her hair. She would attend to his poor, abused hands soon. "Putting the blame on Iyah and Mug seems crazy. We met them. Your father only survived because their daughter got in the way of the assassin's shot. It seems unlikely that they would put their daughter in such a high risk situation. Maybe... Maybe we should keep looking into it? Everything that's happened feels much more personal. Your father. Jelena. The funeral."

"Lazy during the baby making, eh?!" Marcus said, as his hand moved quickly towards her inner thigh, and squeezed down tightly. "I'll show you lazy..." he said, as he quickly moved a top of, pressing her down on the small window seat. As he hovered over her, his face quickly descended to rain kisses upon her. Then the kissing turned the playfulness, as he raised his mouth up to bite at her nose. He quickly sat up, laying back against the cushions, and exhaling a deep sigh. "I'm sorry, my dear. I am too tired after building the crib. I guess I *am* lazy," he said, as he teased her ferociously. "Yes. Gaius is jumping to conclusions. I feel he wants a quick resolution to boost his reputation with Claudius so he can maintain his station when Claudius ascends the throne," he explained to her, reaching the wrong conclusion himself. "*Yes*. We must keep looking into it, because no one else will," he said grimly, as if they had already lost. Someone was after his family and he feared his wife and children would never be safe until he found out why.

"Eeee!" Zara squealed as he tackled her. She giggled and pawed at his face while he rained down ticklish, loving kisses on her. "Okay! Okay! You weren't lazy! You did all the work and I laid there like a sack of potatoes. A sack of purple potatoes. Mmm... Hey! Ow!" She scrunched her nose up after he had bitten it. Rubbing her nose, she grinned at him. "I'll give you ten minutes to recuperate, deal? Then we're going to have to go downstairs just in case we bust another window." With a whole lot of effort, she sat up and readjusted herself so that she could lay with him. Her fingers brushed over his chest gently. "Gaius..." She groaned. That was one guy she didn't like. He reminded her of a vulture, anxiously anticipating the death of Julius so that he might clean the old man's corpse. She didn't like the idea that someone was hunting down their family. Zara was vicious, but even she was slowing down at this point. Not being able to protect Marcus was a pill she refused to swallow. Her hand touched his, fingers moving up and down it slowly. "If you take out all the logic from the equation. . . Couldn't Gaius be behind all of this? I don't know him at all. There's just something not right about him."

When Zara suggested that Gaius could be behind all this he laughed slightly, before slowly shaking his head at her. "No. I have known Gaius since he was a wee lad and he simply does not have the acumen to pull of something this complicated," he said, as he heeded her ten minute warning. "No. He is so far down the line of succession that he could never possibly think he could be rid of us," he explained, as he rose from the window seat with a tired groan. He turned, offering a supportive arm towards her to help her up from the seat. "The Empire once tried to have Claudius killed. I took the contract to intentionally fail it and save his life. That's what irritated Min Traebor so much," he explained to her, as he began leading her out of the increasingly full nursery. "I wonder if it could be the Empire again. While he was here they attacked two planets under his authority. Maybe there are people who want him away from the Ringali Shell ... permanently," he speculated, wisely, but incorrectly. "If they killed my father before Claudius abdicated, he would have been drawn to Delaya to serve as Duke. If they killed him during the funeral then they would have been rid of him completely, with Rebels to blame..." he continued, with his wild theory, believing that the Empire might be behind the recent perils his family faced. "And of course they have no love for us either," he said, as they descended the stairs towards the living area. It all made sense to him ... but he was *wrong*.

It was al elaborate plot for one man alone to pull off. Zara blamed Gaius strictly out of emotion and gut feeling. She had nothing on the man, especially since he had been injured in the bombing. "Fair point," she said, nodding her head slowly. She took his help. It made it a lot easier to rise to her feet. Zara looked at the cribs before they left for a final time. She hoped their children would be safe, spared of whatever curse was moving through the Rodney family. The Empire were real contenders. Min Traebor had come to their door to fetch them. She had done it once. She could easily do it again. There was a huge puzzle sprawled out before them. All the pieces had yet to show themselves. Zara simply wasn't sure. Her husband's theory on the Empire was the best she'd heard yet, because there was no way the Rebels were behind it. Especially not Iyah and the bastard.

She moved down the stairs slowly while they continued to talk. "That's a sound theory. Claudius would never blame the Empire. Maybe someone is manipulating him. As risky as it is, maybe we should do more research next time we go visit Doctor Tohan. If another plan to kill your brother is in the works, we need to do what we can to spoil it." Zara led her husband towards the window sill overlooking the lake. She had him sit. She settled in behind him as much as she could. Her growing bump pressed against his back. Her small hands rubbed over him. There had been so much going on. Nearly all of their relationship had been an insane roller coaster.

"I thought Doctor Tohan scared you, Zara?" Marcus asked her, as he moved towards the kitchen to prepare a couple of hot chocolates for them. Hers had an unholy amount of whipped cream, but she was now eating for three. There was even time for chocolate drizzle as he fashioned their hot chocolate with the same adeptness he applied to the crib. "I certainly don't want to go back to Doctor Degor after the problems she caused us on Hosnian Prime," he said to her, as he moved back towards her with the hot chocolate. "This will warm you up better than I on this day," he said, as he handed it towards her. "We can definitely go see Doctor Tohan if you wish, and if we uncover anything about my brother's safety ... then *oops*," he said with a devilish grin, before he began to drink his hot chocolate with an obnoxious slurp.

"Well, yeah, but Doctor Tohan is nice. He came to the hospital and made sure the babies were okay. That makes him a good guy in my eyes." She watched him make her cup of hot chocolate like a starved wolf. Yummy! No one made it quite like Marcus. She swore she fell more in love with him watching him whip up that delicious treat. It also kinda turned her on. Being pregnant was so confusing at times. "We're never going back to Doctor Degor. I posted like a billion bad reviews on her. Hopefully it's enough that she'll have to become a gynecologist for Gungans or Hutts!" She growled. Doctor Degor was responsible for leaking the news of the twins, thus giving them no time to enjoy it before the press snatched up the information. Pilaq would keep the Womb Report to himself ... or Zara would kill him with her hormones! "Ooh, thank you!" She took the cup, happily drinking up the hot liquid. It was her turn to make a mess out of her face with the whipped cream. "It's so good!" It warmed her to the core. Marcus' hot chocolate was better than anything Auntie Mae could come up with. "I like that plan. We can keep an eye on everything. There's been enough death lingering over the family this year."

"Someone told me that Doctor Degor is being given a HoloNet show where she reveals the father of children to women who slept with multiple fathers given the fame she found from telling the galaxy we had twins," Marcus said, as he pulled down the cup of chocolate revealing chocolate stained lips and a dab of whipped cream upon his face. "I'll arrange our travel back to the Ringali Shell. Now that the honeymoon is over," he said, smirking slightly at the idea of his prim and proper brother carrying on with a nineteen year old. He moved towards her, placing his hand upon her stomach, and smiling. "I want only the best medical care for my family," he explained to her, as he attempted to feel the babies. "I love you so much," he confided in her, before moving his face towards her, leaving a chocolate outline of a kiss upon her cheek.

"Whaattt!? No! I wanted to destroy her!" Zara still, on occasion, wrote in a nasty review about her doctor. It wasn't right for Doctor Degor to be glorified for breaking doctor-patient confidentiality. His messy face made her giggle. It was another perk of lovely hot chocolate; cleaning it off of him. "I wonder if we won't be the only ones having children next year. I'm sure your father has already applied pressure to Claudius' wifey. It's just kinda his thing." She didn't fear returning to the Ringali Shell. She liked the prenatal appointments. Doctor Tohan would make them stress free, as there was no way he would ever betray their family. She peered down at her stomach as he placed his hand on it. A few minutes later, she felt the odd shifting followed by kicking, or punching, against his hand. Feeling the children move was reassuring in itself. It was a reminded that they were safe. "I love you so much, Marcus." She turned her head, kissing his cheek quickly after he had done the same to her. "I think we'll be getting the best care with Doctor Tohan. I want to talk to Sierra about the whole Luna affair too." It was the first time she'd brought it up in days. As much as she wanted that skeleton to go away, it wasn't. "I still feel so horrible about that. I don't want to show my face around the rest of the family." For what everyone had to put out to ensure she was rescued peacefully.

"I certainly hope he had more than daughters contained within, or there'll be a push for Darrus to succeed Claudius down the road," Marcus admitted to her, as his mind already drifted towards the *next* succession crisis. "But knowing my father he gave her a word of encouragement before they left on their honeymoon," he added, with a wink, as he felt the babies move within his pregnant wife. "About my father ... it's good to see him up and around again. It seems the time in the medcenter freed him from what ailed him," he pointed out, unaware that it was simply a cessation of poison being delivered into his system at the castle. When the name 'Luna' escaped his wife's lips noticeably cringed and tensed up in her grasp. "Don't feel horrible about that, my love. It was my failure to protect you that caused all of this," he explained to her, hanging his head in shame. "My family adores you. Do not be embarrassed," he pleaded with her, attempting to do his utmost to fill her with the confidence she needed at this moment.

"Goodness, I hope so too. If they come for Darrus, I will release our kraken on them." Zara supposed the advantage of Claudius taking a young wife was that she had plenty of childbearing years left on her. They had time to produce a heir who would carry the Duchy on his shoulders. Perhaps it was her outsider-ness that made her so opposed to the Duchy. Perhaps she was a dumb, young girl who wanted to keep her family so closely together. Regardless, Marcus had sided with her and never shown any signs of wanting to be Duke. She couldn't help but laugh. As much as it sounded like Marcus was joking about his father, she knew he was not. "I agree. His color has returned back to him. He looks better than he did the first time I met him. Do you think we should spend more time with him?" Because after that scare, it really seemed like his days were numbered.

Zara could feel him tense up at the name of her sister. She felt sad that he was blaming himself. She nuzzled her head beneath his chin, using her own head to gently raise his. "You didn't fail. We both thought that I was in good hands when I left the funeral. I shouldn't have opened my arms to strangers so easily. I exposed our home, and us too." She kissed his neck, sharing in sweet affection with her husband. "Are you sure..? It was a lot of credits..."

"No. I don't think we should spend more time with him," Marcus replied, in a state of frenzied panic at the mere suggestion of it. "Remember, right now the only third generation male heir to the Duchy resides within your belly. I assure you, *he* has not forgotten," he explained to her, his face almost going white with the thought of *more* time with the family. "She wasn't a stranger. She was your sister. You could have never suspected she was capable of such an heinous act," he said to her, as he accepted his kiss, feeling a warmth growing within him. "Did you look at her, though? It seems she got the worse of it," he said to her, referring to how she was covered in bruises that seemed to only grow in severity each time they saw her. "Have you checked on how El-Nay is recovering? I just kind of forgot about her to be honest. She was nice enough to try and help," he explained, although she did not actually prove much use during the battle. However, she was a fairly effective distraction.

She didn't want to think about the many succession crisis problems of the Rodney family. The weight wouldn't drop away from their family for some time. If Claudius and his wife could manage to produce a boy, she would be at the Ringali Shell in a heartbeat to thank the man with a nice, warm handshake and a pat on the back for a job well done. She didn't want to spend more time with the family, especially Julius. She wasn't going to argue the point. Zara realized how little she had told Marcus about her capture. He was still under the impression that Luna was being beaten by her fiance. "I...I really don't think it was like that. When I was in my cage.." She said, her face screwing up while she remembered Petrus fucking Luna, smashing her face into the bars repeatedly. "...He hurt her on purpose ... and she liked it. It was so sickening." She shivered, reminding herself that she was in the chalet, with Marcus, and safe. "I have been keeping an eye on El-Nay. She's doing well. The doctors suspect she'll be discharged in a few days. We should probably pick her up and give her a proper thank you. It was nice of her to try." Although Luna had set fire to the woman.

"What?" Marcus said, grim faced, as he listened to his beloved wife recount her torturous experience in the hands of her sister. "I am glad I did not know that then, Zara, or I would have killed him," he said to her, his face reddening with a distaste of all violence of that nature. His hands involuntarily clenched into fists, filling with an unquenchable fire that made him hate her tormentors even more. He tried his best to calm down, but when she mentioned El-Nay was on the road to recovery he smiled towards her happily. "That would be nice of you, but she can find her own way home. She is *not* the person we want in our HoloNet News coverage. Some credits and passage on a ship will more than suffice," he said, as he placed a tender kiss upon his wife's forehead for her efforts at kindness. But, below his warm exterior, the heat of rage towards Petrus and Luna still remained. He felt that he let them off too easily, but he would not unnecessarily kill in front of his wife. The bounty hunter in him had to stay retired if he were to be a loving husband and a good father.

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