The road to recovery was long and hard. After Delaya,
after Arden Zevrin had lifted a blanket concealing the
shocking truth, there lay the exposed, raw truth. Sierra
Rodney had left the children in the capable hands of
El-Nay and Kerrie. She had also purposely limited
Ewwiekewwieikkie and Melickielickie's sugar intake for
the day so they might stand a chance at falling asleep
without *too* much difficulty. Against all motherly
urges, she had left Bruce at home as well. With Drusilla
showing her that she was capable of watching the boy,
she decided that he would be safe. When she returned
from her date, maybe she would be able to bond more with
her brother without Sierra or Claudius lingering around
Sierra stood on the porch looking over the
picturesque scene stretched out before her. The sun was
setting, causing an orange glow to settle on everything
surrounding her. Her hands were planted on the railing,
leaning into it. She could see Sea Betsy, who was
swimming near the surface of the lake with three otters
on her back. It was no difference for animals and
humans, she thought, imagining playing with the girls.
Sierra pushed off the railing and turned around, leaning
into it. The warm weather had inspired her to shed her
uniform for a simplistic white sundress. . . Or perhaps
it was Sierra wanting to gussy herself up for her
husband. "Look at those otters. It's just like the
Squibs." She laughed.
Grand Moff Claudius Rodney never hesitated with his
wife offered him a reprieve from life aboard the
Retributor or his overcrowded house. "Drusilla really
said she would watch Bruce?" he asked, having
deliberately not asked about her date with the Prince he
pummeled. "I'm glad the sea cow has adapted nicely to
her name," he said, as he moved his hand to the small of
his wife's back. He was not just talking about the
Delayan sea cow, he was really talking about himself. He
closed his eyes and took a deep breath from the
refreshing air that surrounded the lake, which was much
more fresh than the recycled air aboard his command
ship. "I have to admit, they are very cute," he told
her, before leaning into her, placing his lips against
her neck in a brief kiss, with a longer bite at the end.
"She did... Surprising enough. She even said goodbye
to him before she..." Sierra stopped herself from saying
'went on a date'. It was never going to be easy to give
Dru a little freedom. It was a decision Sierra hoped not
to regret. Kerrie and El-Nay both had orders to shoot
Pollix should he keep her out later than was allowed, or
if he was touching her inappropriately ... or in any
way, for that matter! "They are." She said happily. "Did
you know that otters hold hands when they fall asleep to
keep from floating away from each other? Isn't that
adorable? Mm!" She squeaked. His bite caught her
attention. She turned around. "What are you up to,
"I'm just working on my sneak attack tactics in
preparation for our battles with the rebellion,"
Claudius slyly told her, before moving his mouth near
her ear, and gently biting on her ear lobe. "They hold
hands while asleep?" he asked her, as he let go of her
ear. He leaned forward over the railing to look at the
otters, while trying not to accidentally fall in. "Well
then start holding my hand when we sleep, because I
never want to float away from you," he told her, as he
turned his attention from the lake to his wife. "I can't
stand it anymore," he told her, as the familiar pout
returned to his lips. "Did she return on time?" he
asked, having been on his best behavior for as long as
he could. He had done anything to keep from talking
about it, but he could hold out no longer.
She let out a happy laugh. "Oooh, I see. I commend
you on your hard work, Governor." Sierra groaned. This
was exactly why the House of Rodney was guilty for the
sudden increase in children! Her hand rested on top of
his while he leaned over the railing. He made her heart
flutter with his words. Her fingers nuzzled in between
his. "Remember you said that tonight, because I'm
holding you to it." Her heart was doing flips in her
chest. She loved him so very, very much. "Let's find
out, shall we? If she didn't, I want to hear *all* about
the details as to the last moments of the little
Prince's life." Sierra had kept her comlink with her.
She had no hope that Pollix would manage to bring Dru
home on top, and was awaiting the report. She decided to
call Kerrie. If something had happened, then El-Nay was
probably finding a safe place to hide. "Commander Kiley?"
"I'm sure you'll remind me," Claudius teased, as he
stood there on the porch overlooking the pristine lake.
There was much to love on his adopted home of Esseles.
He had lived here much longer than he ever imagined, and
believed this would be his last command before he
retired. If Delaya no longer wanted him, he was
beginning to debate whether he should want Delaya.
Perhaps, instead, he should simply retire here. "Oh," he
said, as she moved for the commlink, not entirely
expecting that. He swallowed, backing away slightly, so
that Kerrie would not hear him breathing heavily on the
comlink with anxiety about her answer.
"Commander Kiley here," the voice of Commander Kerrie
Kiley replied over the comlink from across the planet at
the Rodney estate outside of New Calamar. "How may I
assist you, milady?" she asked, as she was monitoring
the situation from the outside of the Rodney estate.
Watching Drusilla, Bruce, and the Squib was not the most
prestigious task in the Empire, nor was it the most
challenging, but she did take pride in the knowledge
that *she* was the one who had been chose to safeguard
them. She knew that both Claudius and Sierra valued
nothing more than their children, so she used that to
convince herself that being assigned back to their
personality security was actually a promotion.
It was a good sign that Kerrie picked up so quickly.
If it weren't for Kerrie and El-Nay, Sierra and Claudius
would never get a night off. She was picky about who was
capable of watching the children. She listened hard
between the lines of Kerrie's words. The Clawdite didn't
seem panicked or angry. She couldn't hear any Squibs
either. "I'm sorry, forgive me for being such an
overprotective parent... How is everything going with
the children? Did Drusilla return home on time or did
you have to 'punish' Pollix?" Sierra had done her fair
of threatening to the Prince before she even told
Drusilla he was at the estate. It seemed like things
were relatively calm with the children. She refused to
see one of them hurt.
"Lady Drusilla returned home on time, but I did not
encounter His Royal Highness," Kerrie replied, simply,
as she danced around the issue. "Lady Drusilla has
ordered me out of the house, telling me I was 'in the
way', and is seeing to the care of Lord Bruce
personally," she reported, uncertain as to how Sierra
would respond. "Ewwiekewwieikkie and Melickielickie are
at the tail end of a parade of ducks. Every time the
Squibs get close to the ducks they waddle off, and the
girls just keep following. This has been going on for
*several* hours," she explained, sounding exasperated.
"Rest assured, everything is well here," she informed
her, as she prepared for her reaction.
Sierra deflated. "Oh, thank goodness." Prince Pollix
was, for lack of better words, a 'whipped' boy. Sierra
felt if she was cruel enough to him, he would do as she
wanted. She was touched that Drusilla was taking such
charge with Bruce. Sierra couldn't miss the big smiles
he had been giving his sister earlier. It was so cute
that Sierra had a difficult time not gushing and
embarrassing Dru over it. Kerrie report was all good
news. She chuckled, shaking her head. "No surprise
there. They love the ducks. Let them continue to play
their game. You'll see the benefits at bedtime. As to
Drusilla, I trust her with Bruce. Give her the space she
wants. For whatever reason, she doesn't want us to see
that she actually likes her baby brother. Thank you,
Commander." The conversation was comforting all around.
It would make spending private time with her husband
that much better as they could rest assured that Dru was
safe at home ... and Bruce was in very, very good hands.
As she ended the call with Kerrie, she looked at
"I feel sorry for those ducks," Claudius said,
covering the light topic first, as he smiled across at
his wife. "Do you think she's up to something?" he asked
her, which a terrible thing to say about one's old
child. "She just isn't usually this cooperative," he
said, having become so jaded in regard to Drusilla's
behavior that he now looked at everything she did with
an ulterior motive. "Still, if she is warming to Bruce,
but just embarrassed that we know ... that's good ...
right?" he asked her, as he looked to take some goodness
from the conversation. He wanted to believe.
"...Me too. Maybe we should bring them here for a
break next time." She suggested as she inched closer to
him. "I had considered that Dru had another motive.
Don't be surprised if she asks for money for babysitting
when we get home. She's acting like she doesn't want us
to know. I think it's good. She was on Onderon when he
was born, so they didn't have the time to bond then.
It's good to let them have their time together." Before
Lord Vader took it away. The smile just briefly dropped
from Sierra's face. How would the children react in five
years when they returned to Mustafar? They would be
*devastated*. She had a real fear that the child growing
within her womb would be force-sensitive as well, thus
giving Lord Vader another child to pluck from her nest.
Sierra attempted to push those dark thoughts towards the
back of her mind. It was out of her control. There was
no hiding from Lord Vader.
She pushed herself against Claudius' chest. Her arms
wrapped around his neck. "I have been thinking a lot
about the revelations in Delaya." She said to him,
carefully shifting the topic so he wouldn't see that she
had gotten briefly upset. "I wonder if it might do us
some good for me to go to New Alderaan and seek out
answers from Jelena."
"Bring them here? Can you imagine what they would do
to the sea cow? To the otters?" Claudius asked her, was
he worried for the safety and sanity of all the
creatures the inquisitive, animal loving Squibs crossed
paths with. "Alright. I'll trust you to ensure all goes
well between Dru and Bru," he told her, immediately
hating the way it sounded the moment it passed his lips.
Then the conversation took an abrupt turn to New
Alderaan and Jelena, which had been on his mind since
the 'trial' of Gaius as well. "There's always a danger
when you go there. To her *and* you," he reminded her,
but he knew his wife well enough to know once her mind
was made up there was no changing her mind. "You'll take
precautions?" he asked her, rather than try to get her
to stay here and not go.
She looked up at him. "Of course. I have already
asked El-Nay to borrow her armor and ship." Sierra
wondered if they'd have to expand El-Nay's chest plate
to accommodate her. Perhaps it was her backside that she
should be more worried about. "I wonder if it is a good
idea or not. It isn't the danger alone. I don't want to
destroy what we've built up with Jelena. If I corner her
about your parents, there's nothing saying she'll be
pleased about it, open up, and tell me everything. She
certainly didn't tell me then--and it was going on while
I knew her. What do *you* think? It this going to hurt
her, or enlighten us?"
"Oh dear. I wonder if you might be safer in ISB armor
than that orange armor," Claudius pointed out, as he
laughed, shaking his head at it. "It is a good idea. We
*have* to know. It'll eat at us not knowing," he said to
her, as when it came down it to it he was just as
insatiably curious as the Squibs. "Go, and if she opens
up ... good. And, if she doesn't ... then don't press
her," he said, trying to tow the middle. He moved
towards her, wrapping his arms around her tightly. He
held her, not wanting to go, as if he were afraid she
would float away when he fell asleep. He was an otter at
"I might have to go in ISB armor. I don't know if I'm
even going to fit in El-Nay's armor... Especially not
from the waist down." Sierra covered her face and
laughed in embarrassment. "You're right, you're right.
I'll do what I can." It would be nice to see Jelena
again. Her gut feeling was that it wasn't going to be a
good visit. She wanted peace within the family, but it
seemed like she would never have it. "I love you," she
said. "I want you to put my aide to work while I'm gone.
I refuse to come back to stack of datapads as tall as
the trees on Endor when I return." She smiled. Sierra
nuzzled her body against his. This wasn't going to be a
long trip. She simply couldn't stay away from him. She
closed her eyes and pressed her head into his chest. She
never wanted to let go either.
"They'd know that booty anywhere," Claudius reminded
her, as he moved his hand down her back, allowing it to
come to a rest on her behind. "I love you too," he
reassured her, before lowering his head to place a
tender, loving kiss upon her lips. "Yes. I'll get him
busy. We do need help with the addition of the tea house
to the estate," he remembered, but he was hesitant to
see to its construction without her. As she lay her head
on his chest he raised his hand to the back of her head,
holding her against him, as the otters did. He would not
let go. He could not let go.