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Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:3:5) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Leiliani: Medcenter).
Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, Duke Julius Rodney, and Commander Sierra Rodney.

It had been one incredibly long night. The trauma that Sierra had gone through dug deep into her head. Her subconscious played the scene over and over again for her in differing variations. Sometimes Bruce was there to save her. Other times, the shot penetrated through her abdomen and everything ended right then and there. Sometimes she was a young teenager again, enduring abuse like it would never end. Because of her vivid nightmares, she had slept very badly in the hospital bed. By extension, she didn't doubt that Claudius had suffered terrible sleep as well. When the morning came, she felt ill-prepared. There was Julius to see, a world of HoloNet reporters to avoid, and a baby in her womb who needed her more than anyone else. Sierra Rodney had to rise again.

And that was exactly what she did. After they had been served breakfast, Sierra began to dress for meeting with her father-in-law. Livia had seen to it that there were new, clean clothes for her to wear. Of course, Livia had taken advantage of the situation to dress her daughter-in-law up. As she slid into the dress, she realized how tight it was in the middle. She wondered if Livia had purposely selected it to accentuate her feminine curves, and to search if she was visibly pregnant yet or not. Sierra ran a brush through her hair. She was so tired that her eyes kept closing for minutes at a time until she accidently dropped her brush when she drifted off too far. "Are you ready for this?" She asked her husband, turning towards him. "The sooner we visit with father, the sooner we can take a nap." She promised.

Claudius had been too afraid to allow his wife to leave the medcenter, for he saw an enemy lurking around every corner. No matter how old or powerful he became he was still afraid of his father, and therefore he took his sweet time in eating his breakfast, showering, and dressing in his uniform. "I'll try and be ready for this," he said, as he looked over her attire, which was far more flattering than a hospital gown. "Are you trying to give him a heart attack?" he asked, commenting on how she was dressed, before moving to take her arm. "I could use a nap," he said, before leading her from her room down the well protected corridor towards where his father was being kept. "Of all things ... a fall," he complained to his wife, before stepping forward into the room. He gasped slightly when he saw the old man in traction in the small bed. Age had not been kind to him.

Even Sierra didn't know where to turn to. It seemed that there was nowhere to hide in Delaya. As lovely as it sounded to return to their castle spire, she simply couldn't risk putting such a large target on their backs. She had already decided that Claudius was the true intended target of her attack, not her. She sighed, "Blame your mother. This is why she isn't allowed to dress me." Sierra let out a deep breath and leveled her head. She needed to become a functioning support system for her husband, who endured much too much. With her hand in his, they took the first step into Duke Julius' hospital room.

The old man looked miserable. Sierra was awestruck at first. The last time she had seen him, he was being a perverse little old man at her wedding. That was night and day compared to his status now. It looked as if Death already held him tightly in its grasp. Sierra fought back tears, for crying would never stop the inevitable. Her hand squeezed Claudius' to remind him that she was there, taking every step towards Julius' bed. "Father," she said softly to rouse him. Respectfully, Sierra bent over the bed and placed a kiss on each of his cheeks. "I've missed you."

Julius' face lit up when he saw Claudius and Sierra enter the room. "There she is. The savior of Delaya," he said to her, as he struggled to reach towards her, but his broken hip prevented him from moving towards her. "I am so glad you are here," he said to her, but as she neared him, he was finally able to raise his hand and brush her hair. "And out of uniform too. Have you retired? Will you be joining us here on Delaya?" he asked, optimistically, as a wide smile crept onto his face. His hand then descended into territory it did not belong, gently brushing over her stomach where the future heir was currently taking up residence. If he was going to die ... at least he finally knew the succession was in order.

The old man had strong words for her. Sierra did not think of herself as a savior of any kind. That was an honor she would only give her husband. Without him, she would be so far lost. She smiled, shaking her head. "No, I'm sorry, Father. You know we cannot join you here." She was kinder to Julius than she had been to Livia. It felt highly uncomfortable for him to touch her stomach, which had yet to grow round with her and Claudius' child. Internally, she cringed. Her hand caught his. She guided it back to his bed. She held it for good measure. "I have not retired, however, I assure you that the family is taken care of. Doctor Tohan only recently confirmed my pregnancy. We had not had the opportunity to tell you yet." Her eyes lifted towards her husband. "Is there anything we can do to help you during these difficult times?"

Julius sunk when it dawned on him the heir would not dwell within the walls of the family's castle. He sighed, laying back in his bed, before he began the process of contenting himself with the fact that she was pregnant with a male heir. "Yes. There is. You can get me out of this place and back to my home," he said to them, as he reached down, attempting to scratch at his leg, but failed. He coughed several times, as being laid up for days had caused fluid to build on his lungs. Being in a medcenter made him feel sicker than he actually was. "You have done well, Sierra," he said, before allowing his body to go limp in the bed, struggling to relax. He was incredibly uncomfortable.

Claudius found it difficult to see his father like this, more so because he had disappointed him with the news that Sierra would be remaining at his side on Esseles. "I am sorry, father," he said, as he hid behind his wife, using her as a human shield to block the emotional guilt that was being thrown at him. He knew how much has father had wanted him to produce a male heir, and he was proud that he had been able to deliver that. However, once his father got what he wanted there was always something *more*. He tried his best to smile at his father, despite his obvious concern for his wellbeing. As much as he wanted to honor his father's request, he did not think that he could. The emotion was beginning to build within him. The nap Sierra had promised him was much needed.

Give the man an inch and he'll take a mile. Pleasing Julius was impossible, Sierra saw. She didn't like that the old man was acting disappointed in Claudius. On the outside, she remained soft. On the inside, she firmly decided it was time to leave. The man's condition was bad enough that they needed to be close. It wasn't bad enough that they needed to stay in the medcenter, right underneath his thumb. She took initiative. "You should rest. We will see you again soon." And she abruptly ended their conversation. As she turned away from Julius, she allowed Claudius to see past her veil: she was irritated.

Sierra led him back into her room, which was much too close to Julius'. In the open doorway, she moved onto her tippy toes and kissed her husband. "You have *nothing* to apologize to him for. Your life has been devoted to pleasing him. No more." Claudius, the perfect Duke to succeed Julius. Claudius; the man who had ensured the Rodneys would remain in power for two more generations. "I feel like he is sick enough that we need to stay on Delaya," she said, cradling him in her thin arms. "I have an idea." Summoning her inner nobility, Sierra departed from her husband. She caught one of the Alderaan guards. She could be seen making dramatic movements with her hands while acting like an absolute brat. Sierra was requesting their ship be loaded up with certain supplies and that it be done *immediately*. Upon finishing, she retired back to her hospital room. "How much do you trust me?" She asked her husband. It was the kind of question that had to be followed by insanity.

Claudius breathed a sigh of relief when Sierra led him safely from his father's bedside. "Do you really think it that bad, Sierra? It was *only* a fall?" he said, clutching her arm, both out of affection and necessity. He was unaware of just how detrimental a fall could be to someone elderly, or he was simply in denial out of a wish to believe that his father would go on forever. "What kind of idea?" he asked her, as he tried to interpret her manic gestures to the guard. "Uh. Of course I trust you. I trust you with my life and my future," he said to her with a nervous smile, realizing it was the only thing a married man *could* say to his teenage bride. Privately he was filling with apprehension, but on the outside he maintained a pleasant demeanor. Whatever she was up to there was nothing he could do about it ... that was the true price of marriage.

"It could be," she said, maintaining her position so that she could help hold him up. "I think our best course of action is to stay for a few days and see what happens. I don't want you to feel regret or resent if we run home and something happens." Sierra did not answer his question. The wheels were turning in her head, as visible by the look on her pretty little face. He responded to her question in a political manner; he said yes to keep the peace. He had surrendered a degree of his freedom the moment he said 'I do' to a youthful young woman. Thankfully, he was in good hands.

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