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STORY -- "Hearts of Havoc"

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BossaMatam
04.03.2013 , 07:55 AM | #1
HEARTS OF HAVOC
by Stefan St. John / © 2013

DISCLAIMER : This story is an original prose based on situations and themes from the MMO game Star Wars: The Old Republic. All characters, with the exception of all Original Characters created by the Author are the property of Bioware and LucasFilm, Ltd..
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This story is the rightful property of the author; all original characters and the plot depicted within are protected by copyright law.
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This story was produced to entertain fans of the original show, and is in no way, shape or form intended to be published for monetary gain. Please do not sue.



CHAPTER ONE

Aboard the Havoc’s Harpy,
In Transit to Coruscant from Mos Petti Space;
Year 11 ATC....




The rumble vibrating through the durasteel space frame of Havoc’s Harpy preceded the climbing pitch of her hyperdrive. Outside the cockpit view port, the stars stretched from pinpoints into streaks of white-blue light as the BT-7 Thunderclap rocketed through the translation from normal space into hyperspace.

At the controls, Sergeant Alli Brin sat stiff and straight, as she removed her hands from the hyperdrive’s motivator controls. “Transition from Mos Petti to hyperspace is complete, Sir. All systems read nominal.”

Standing with her hands clasped behind her as she hovered near the main chair in the cockpit, Captain Elara Dorne nodded briefly to herself, before glancing down at the young, auburn-haired woman in the pilot’s seat. “Nicely done, Sergeant.” Releasing her left hand to let it drift over to pat the armored plastron on Brin’s right shoulder, Elara said, “You’re progressing very well at the helm. A few more sessions, and you’ll be certain to earn your chief-pilot’s certification.” She allowed herself a small mental smile as Sergeant Brin let out a breath she clearly had been holding. “Just remember to equally apply yourself to all aspects of your duties, and you’ll make it far with Havoc Squad.”

The young Sergeant nodded, taking in the myriad of readouts on her console before turning to look up at the Executive Officer of Havoc Squad. “Yes, Sir . . . well, thank you, I mean-.” She swallowed the nervous knot and smiled before saying, “I do appreciate the encouragement, Sir.”

Elara nodded, returning Brin’s smile before gripping the young woman’s shoulder briefly. “We all strive to support each other in Havoc, Sergeant.” Stepping back, she let her eyes flow over the bridge; taking in the lights and data flowing across the consoles and the swirling pinwheel of the Known-Galaxy holo-map dominating the center of the closed-in bridge. “Continue with your duties. Alert myself or the Leftenant if something comes up.”

Sergeant Alli nodded. “Yes, Sir.”

With that, Elara turned and departed the bridge, moving at a measured pace down into the central area of the assault ship. The main compartment looked as sparse as the bridge, even more so than their Imperial counterparts. She knew from first-hand it was hardly devoid of comfort. Ships like the Harpy were utilitarian at best; only the bare minimum of bunk space compartments and facilities. Yet, in the recent months since joining Havoc she’d become so used to the Harpy’s spaces, it felt like her second-home.

Now that home was pointed back towards the Galactic Core; to the capital world, where surely another mission awaited her and her Havoc teammates. Stepping into the clear, she made her way over to the holo-transmission table to check for any incoming communications.

When a nearby hatchway opened with a thunk!, she paused to take note of the contingent of Troopers gathered in the space within. All wore the white-on-blue of Special Forces Unit 229, which were being taken back to Coruscant aboard their ship. Unit 229 had lost their ship in the latest action over Bos Petti.

As Elara started to regard the holo-table’s readout once more, one of the surviving senior non-comms from Two-Two-Nine emerged from the storage compartment, following the tall, feline-faced form of Lieutenant Aric Jorgan. They clearly weren’t meaning to be overheard, but the sharp tone in the Sergeant’s voice made her look back up and listen: “We’re not asking for much, El-Tee, but we lost some of our prime equipment in that last pull-out action-.”

“Equipment, Sergeant Rill, that Havoc Squad can ill-afford to spare,” Aric said gruffly. Taking a moment to pull a tabulation-pad from where it had been magna-locked on the compartment wall, the Cathar officer studied it briefly before rubbing one hand through his close-cut hair. “As it stands, we’re pushing the limit with what equipment and weapons we can requisition for ourselves. We’re more than willing to share a ride with you -- such as it stands that you lost your transport -- but we cannot give you what you should have had the insight to salvage before the Imps nearly punched your ticket back there.”

Sergeant Rill looked ready to snap at Aric, until he saw the unwavering look Elara was giving him from just behind Aric’s back. Faltering, Rill shook his head and said, “Look, we’re not asking you to give us the whole bolt and barrel-.”

“Then don’t.” Aric crossed his arms over his chest and frowned. “I sympathize with you, Sergeant. I really do. This war’s stretching all of our resources pretty thin all around. Yet, if I said we don’t have the spares, we don’t.” Pausing, he returned his eyes to the tabulator and added, “That’s the final word I can give you.”

Again, Sergeant Rill looked like he was about to explode, but he let his shoulders drop as he muttered, “Yes, Sir I . . . I understand clearly.”

Elara’s frown deepened, only to vanish when Aric looked up and sighed at the defeat in Sergeant Rill’s posture. “Look, I cannot give you any gear, but we do have a small surplus of medi-pacs and ration kits. I can give you some of those, but nothing else.” He held up one hand when Rill started to protest anew. “Take my advice, and what we can spare for you, Sergeant. Take up your case with Command when we reach Coruscant to get your equipment restored.”

“Yes, Sir . . . I’ll, do just that. Thank you, Sir.” Rill saluted Aric, before moving back into the compartment to rejoin his fellow teammates.

Elara took a step closer behind Aric and cleared her throat. “Nicely handled, Leftenant.”

Aric didn’t turn to face her, but he nodded to acknowledge her presence. “Take me and that Sergeant back about a few years, and I’d have been chewing his head off through his battle helmet. Just like a rookie non-comm to go asking for spare gear. Especially knowing what we all just went through during that meat-grinder of a mission.” He shook his head, before turning to face his XO, giving her a rueful smile. “I must be getting soft.”

Elara felt her lips lift briefly. “Hardly, Leftenant. I dare say you could still make the paint blister into a perfect outline of that Sergeant on hullmetal, if you really wanted to.”

Aric chuckled softly. “Could be . . . and could be I’m just too tired to even try, Sir.” He sighed gustily.

Elara nodded. The final action on Mos Petti has certainly taken a toll on everyone. Still, as she looked up at Aric, she could see he wasn’t quite ready to relent and find a jump seat to collapse into. In the year she had come to know Lt. Jorgan, he was dedicated, stalwart to a fault and would never quit until everything necessary to get their team ready for the next mission was done. “True, Leftenant. Fortunately, we’re not allowed to cause a ‘friendly-fire’ incident within our own ranks. As it were.”

“If you ask me, Captain, some of the troops would benefit from a good ‘blistering’.” Turning, Aric looked Elara in the eyes unblinkingly and asked, “In any case, was there something you needed, Captain?”

“Yes, Leftenant. For now, I’d like you to take charge of things. We’re en route to Coruscant -- Sergeant Brin has the con -- and aside from that, our expected debriefing with our CO will begin in thirty minutes.”

“Yes, Sir.” Aric said. “I’ll be more than willing to take care of things.” He then cleared his throat before jerking at thumb at the closed door across the way. “In case you were wondering, the Major’s in there. Said he needed some alone-time before the debrief.”

Elara glanced that way and nodded. “Thank you, Leftenant. You may assume your duties.”

Aric nodded with a salute. “Will assemble the men in thirty, Sir.” He stepped past her, dipping his head to give Elara a knowing look before vanishing into another compartment.

Elara sighed and rocked on her heels, before she stepped away from the holo-transmitter and made her way to the sealed door Aric had indicated. Pausing to briefly straighten her uniform tunic, she reached up to tap the ‘Admittance button on the lock panel.

A tone sounded, followed by a soft hiss from the intercom speaker, through which a male voice said, “Enter.

With a snap-hussssh! the door opened, allowing Elara to step into the compartment beyond before it closed tight behind her. Inside, Elara took in the tall, sandy-haired figure seated on the standard-issue bunk along the far wall; his lower body still clad in the white durosteel leg plates and boots of his combat armor, while his upper lay bare to a brief undershirt that only covered his chest and abdomen. Lifting his head from where he was regarding something he held in both hands, Major Steff Davion smiled briefly at her. “Elara,” he said, before dropping his eyes back down to the object in hand. “What’s the status of the ship and crew?” he asked absently.

Elara’s coolly-schooled features melted into a warm expression as she stepped towards the small desk across from the bunk. Reaching out, she pulled out the small stool stored underneath it and pulled it over so she could seat herself in front of him. “All ship systems are nominal. Currently we are on schedule to arrive in Coruscant within the hour. Some small matters are being seen to by Leftenant Jorgan . . . and we do have our debriefing in thirty minutes,” she said, coming to a stop when she realized he was too engrossed with what he held to look at her. “Steff, is . . . something wrong?”

“Hmm?” Steff jerked his head upright, and blinked his deep-blue eyes at her. “No, no, nothing’s wrong at all.”

Elara pursed her lips and stared hard at him. “You are certain, then?”

Steff straightened up and frowned. “Now, why would you think something is wrong with me, Elara?”

She raised both eyebrows and made a perfectly-shaped pout with her lips. “Because you’re only half-out of your combat gear, sitting in here alone with me and you haven’t even tried to kiss me. Yet.”

Steff’s frown fell away, a slow grin spreading across his wide face as he regarded her. “Well,” he said, drawling the word so that it sounded like a rumbled murr. “You could have just asked me to kiss you, Captain Dorne.”

Elara’s expression turned coy. “Are you making that an order, Major Davion?”

Steff slowly put the object in his hands on the bunk beside him. “Per regulations?” Lunging towards her, Steff wrapped his hands around her waist and pulled her off the stool and back with him onto the bed.

Elara privately thanked whoever constructed their ship that all of the compartments that made up the main living quarters had insulated walls. The shriek she gave -- while delighted -- would have embarrassed her to no end if the rest of the team had heard it. Still, it was hard to think about avoiding embarrassment when she found herself wrapped in Steff’s arms. Especially when he was kissing her as soundly as he was just then. Submitting to his embrace, she curled her arms around his neck and held him close.

Eventually, they broke off and Steff tipped her back against one arm, using his free hand to caress her cheek. “Sorry I didn’t do that sooner.”

“I would have reminded you to do so, after a fashion.” Elara shared a smile as she and Steff stared at one another, before she leaned up and briefly kissed him again. “Now,” she asked before looking down at the now-discarded object on the blanket next to them. “What is it that had you so distracted?”

Steff turned to stare at the wide rectangle of plastic and black metal, before sighing and picking it up. “Oh, something I’ve been looking at for a while now.” He turned it so he could thumb a recessed control along its edge, before holding it up to eye level. In a second, the surface of the placard came alive with a holographic field, and the three-dimensional image of a cluster of figures appeared.

Elara focused on the group, then gasped softly when she recognized Steff among them -- albeit a much-younger looking, more carefree version of the Major. He was flanked by two taller men and a young girl; the former bore a resemblance to him, as did the girl. Comprehension blossomed in Elara’s mind. “It’s, your family?”

“My father, older brother and younger sister,” Steff said, maudlin touched with pride in his tone. “That’s Russell, Kett and Sussana.”

“I see,” Elara said. Tipping her head slightly, she rested it against his cheek and added, “They all look rather happy with you there.”

“This was recorded just before Kett joined the Academy in Utare,” Steff said simply. “And, yes, he’s still serving the Republic, though he’s just a clerical officer, or so I was told by our father the last time we talked.”

Elara nodded, before lifting her head to look at him. “Do you miss your family? I notice you don’t speak of them much.”

Steff put the holo-placard down on the bed, looking away briefly before replying. “I haven’t mentioned them . . . mostly because I didn’t want you to be sad.” He looked at her, the truth in his blue eyes. “Because of your family.”

Elara felt a slight lurch in her chest, and she nodded slowly. “If you’ve been trying to spare my feelings . . . thank you, but you shouldn’t worry about me.”

Steff resettled himself on the bunk, shifting her so she was sitting close to him. “Why shouldn’t I worry?” He gripped her hands in his larger one. “Elara, I can always go back to see my father and siblings. I can’t imagine what it must be like, not being able to see your parents-.”

Elara pressed the fingers of her free hand to his lips. “Steff, I won’t lie. I do miss my father and mother . . . but I made my choice long ago.” She sighed and turned her hands so she could cover his in between them. “I would dearly like to see them again, but we both know that’s not possible. I serve the Republic now. They are still a part of the Empire, and I knew when I defected that there would be a cost for my choice.”

Steff nodded. “I know. I just didn’t want you to be hurt or upset, if I ever mentioned my family.”

Elara looked up at him with a stern expression. “You’ll be hurting me more if you do not tell me about them, Major Davion. After all,” she added with a mock-punch to his shoulder, “they’ll become my family as well, when we’re married.”

Steff grinned and ducked her mimed blow. “Okay, okay! You win, Captain.”

Elara gave him a pert turn of her head. “As I always will.” She nearly squeaked when he suddenly enveloped her with both arms, pulling her back into his lap as they both began laughing at his spontaneity. When it died down, Elara asked, “So, tell me about why this has come about now?”

Steff gave her a serious look, before saying, “Partially because of what you just said -- us getting married -- but, it’s mostly because of the last action we just went through.” Steff hugged her close, and she went willingly. “I don’t know what new mission is coming up for Havoc Squad when we get back to the capital, but before we’re ordered out again, I want to take you home.”

“Home?” Elara looked up at him with some surprise.

“As in home to my family, on Andara.” He pulled back, taking in her suprised expression. “You don’t like that idea?”

Elara said, “No, it . . . it is actually a wonderful idea. I mean, I should meet your family. After all, we cannot exclude them from the wedding, now can we?”

Steff nodded. “No, we can’t. Considering my father would be pretty upset with me if we did.” He looked off for a moment, before smiling. “He and my mother had always hoped to see either myself or Kett married one day.”

Elara noted the sad undertone in his words. “Did she . . . I mean, is she still-?”

“It was a sickness, Elara.” Steff closed his eyes, but opened them when he looked back at her. “Not long after my sister was born, and it was a mercy that she didn’t suffer long.” When Elara cupped his cheek, he sighed and added, “You would have liked her, I think.”

“I believe you. Especially if the way you’ve treated me is anything to judge by.” Elara smiled. “I think she’s done well by you, in that stead.”

Steff took her hand and squeezed it. “So, you’ll come then? still get to meet father and Sussana. I doubt Kett can make it there in time for a visit, but I’ll make sure he attends the wedding.”

“He must at least make the attempt,” Elara said, some humor in her tone as she hugged him closer. Laying her head on his shoulder, she asked, “So, we should look about arranging this visit without delay.”

“I was actually thinking of contacting General Garza, when we drop out of hyperspace,” Steff said. He nuzzled into her blonde hair, breathing deeply before adding, “After we get done with our debriefing, that is.”

Elara nodded. “Ah, the debriefing. That should be started in approximately twenty-five minutes.” She pulled back to stare at Steff, a lift to the corners of her mouth accompanying the flash of mischief in her eyes. “Which only gives us about twenty minutes of privacy, Major.”

Steff grinned, before shaking his head slowly. “Why, Captain Dorne! One would think you would suggest that we could do something, utterly scandalous in that time-frame,” he said.

Elara arched one eyebrow, before she leaned up to put herself nose to nose with Steff. “I’m not suggesting anything of the sort,” she said, her usual cool demeanor melting under sultry overtones, before she kissed Steff soundly. “I’m making it an order, Sir.”

Steff enveloped her in a deeper embrace. “Do I ever tell you enough, that I love it when you pull rank on me?”

* * * * *

The couple made it to the debriefing with moments to spare, after they both put themselves and their uniforms back in order.

The meeting itself took very little time at all; a fact that Steff himself was thankful for. Yet, while he tried to focus on the majority of details and information shared by the rest of Havoc Squad, his thoughts were still very much occupied by what he and Elara had discussed in his quarters.

Getting married, he thought. Taking such a step together was a major undertaking for an average couple. For two people like himself and Elara, being they both had their duty and calling with the military . . . . It’s going to take some extra work to pull this off. he told himself. More so with what I have in mind. Though making the request from General Garza-? He snorted softly to himself. She’s no creampuff when it comes to matters of the heart.

When Steff eventually called and end to the meeting, the sudden diminished sounds of the Harpy’s engines brought everyone in the room to a standstill. A moment later, the meeting room’s inter-comm chirped. Reaching out, Steff thumbed the receive-key. “Bridge, this is Major Davion. Go ahead.”

Sir, we’ve just transitioned into Coruscant-Space,” came the pilot’s reply. “Shall I request immediate advancement in the landing pattern, per wartime regulations?

“Negative. Put us into a high-orbit holding pattern, for now.” Steff said.

Yessir.” The inter-com went silent.

Looking up from the table, Steff was met by the surprised looks of the majority of his squad -- only Elara was aware of his intent -- and the question spoke by Jorgan: “Um, is there a problem, Major?” When Steff arched one eyebrow, staring sharply at him, Aric quickly added, “I, ah, mean . . . is there a reason why we’re not trying to land as quickly as possible?”

“There’s no problem at all, Lieutenant,” Steff said. “I do need you to get on the comm and put a call through to General Garza. There’s a matter I need to discuss with her.”

Blinking, Aric quickly recovered and nodded as he started towards the doorway of the meeting room. “I’ll get the comm-channel open right away, Sir.”

“As soon as you can, transfer the call here, Lieutenant.” Steff looked at the rest of the squad. “Everyone is dismissed. Captain, I need you to stay here with me.”

“Yes, Major.” Elara nodded and moved around to the holo-terminal inside the room to stand next to Steff. As the rest of the team exited the room, she twisted her fingers together in a gesture that was uncommon for the austere blond woman.

Steff noticed. “Are you nervous, Elara?”

“No more than usual, Steff,” she replied. “I mean . . . I admit I’m only, concerned. What if General Garza doesn’t approve of this--?” She stopped speaking when Steff placed a hand on hers, squeezing them both.

“It’s going to be all right,” Steff said, smiling reassuringly. “I understand what you’re feeling, Elara, but worrying about the negatives won’t do us any good.” He leaned over and kissed her briefly on the cheek. “Just trust me, okay?”

“I knew you would say something like that.” Sighing deeply, she gave him a fond look before saying softly, “Well, when you put it that way, Steff, I shall do my best.”

“That’s all I could ever ask for.” Steff said, coming to attention as the holo-terminal on the table came alive with light. Elara composed herself as well, just as the image of Aric Jorgan’s face appeared in the digital field. “The uplink with Republic Command is coming online, Sir,” he said. “I’ll have General Garza on in a moment.

“Very good, Lieutenant.” Steff said.

Aric’s image looked down, then he said, “Transmission uplink established . . . Receiving communication now.” His face vanished amid a wave of holographic static, to be replaced by the image of SpecForce’s commanding officer. She turned to face them, her silver hair pulled back into a tight bun that allowed her stern, aged face to show the look of surprise draped across it.

“General Garza, this is Major Davion, Havoc Squad.” Steff said as he and Elara both stood straight at attention.

Major Davion . . . and Captain Dorne. This is an unexpected surprise,” the holo-image of Elin Garza’s face became wreathed with interest as she stared at Steff and Elara. “I just received confirmation of your arrival in-system, but I expected you to appear in person to report on the mission in Bos Petti.” She glanced to the side and asked, “Is there a reason you are in contact with me now? Without the rest of Havoc Squad present?

Steff held up one hand in a dismissive wave. “Havoc Squad is all accounted for, General and I’ll be delivering my report on the operation after we make port. However, Captain Dorne and I need to speak with you about a specific matter.”

Ah, I see.” General Elin locked her hands behind her back. “Proceed then, Major.

Steff glanced at Elara for a second, before he cleared his throat and faced the General squarely. “Permission to speak plainly, General? Also, can this transmission be ‘locked’?”

Arching one eyebrow, Elin took a moment to adjust something out of transmitter-range. “Very well, Major. This channel is now secured.

Steff nodded. “Thank you, General. You are aware that Lieutenant Dorne and I have started . . . a more personal relationship together, yes?”

Nodding, Elin said, “Of course. The digital copy of Form 3578 K crossed my terminal, not an hour after you and Captain Dorne signed it. Publicly, I cannot comment one way or another on the matter. After all, the regs specifically state how Republic Command feels about such relationships, but you both followed the appropriate protocol.” Her usual dour expression softened a bit as she added, “Personally, however I have to admit . . . I do believe the two of you have made a good choice in forming a personal bond together. Havoc Squad has once again become the best of our forces in the field, in no small part because of the fact the both of you do work so well as a team. You both have gone to great lengths to support each other, both in your duties as Republic officers and outside of Havoc Squad.

Steff looked at Elara, sharing a small smile before he said, “We do make a pretty good pair, General.”

“Though, we cannot take all the credit, General,” Elara said. “Our unit would never have had such success, without help from our squad-mates.”

Elin nodded. “For that, the reason I don’t disallow your involvement with each other is clear.” She pointed at Dorne. “As well, Major, I know that Captain Dorne would never have gone forward with any relationship -- with you or anyone else, for that matter -- if she did not have great respect for you as both an officer and a gentleman, and vice versa.

Steff blinked. “You’ve . . . been keeping an eye on us then, General?”

Elin’s smile widened a little. “A good commander keeps up with all of their troops, as best as they can. Otherwise how else could I know them enough to lead properly?” She arched her eyebrows and asked, “Still, I sense there’s more to this than your merely contacting me to confirm your relationship?

Nodding, Steff cleared his throat again. “It just that . . . Elara and I both know that the war between the Republic and the Empire has only just begun, General. It’s clear it won’t be won quickly and . . . well, Havoc is bound to be at the spear-tip of many of the future actions taken by our forces--.”

“What Steff is trying to say, General,” Elara said as she moved to stand closer with him, “is that we would like to request some time away from the unit, together.” She looked up at Steff, and getting a nod she went on speaking. “I have yet to meet his family,” she said, taking his hand in hers. “As such, since we are planning to be married soon--?”

Steff took up as she trailed off, saying, “It wouldn’t be for an extended time frame, General. Just long enough for my family to get to know Elara. I’d say, at the most, a week’s time.”

Ah, I see.” Elin’s hologram tilted her head, and frowned all the more as she regarded the two of them. “In all fairness, Major, I cannot have you leave your unit just now. Considering the state of our war against the Empire, for the commanding officer and executive officer of my most elite combat team to request an absence . . . well. It would be ill advised.” She made a slow gesture with one hand. “There’s any of a number of systems the Empire is currently targeting for a renewed assault, and Havoc Squad would be essential to spearheading any defense that is needed.

Steff felt the disappointment radiating from Elara, and he tried not to mirror it in his own reply, “Ah, that is true, General. I--.”

Just a moment, Major. I said it wouldn’t be advisable . . . ‘professionally’.” Elin’s image shifted -- vanishing for a second as she stepped out of range of the holo-transmitter -- before she returned with a data-unit that she lifted, looking down at its viewscreen. “However, the latest battle reports have come in, and in the last twenty-four hours most of the primary actions taken by the Empire have halted,” she said. “A few minor skirmishes are being contained, and projections are good that the Imperials won’t attempt something major within two or three weeks.” She looked up and shook her head. “As it stands, in my personal viewpoint, I don’t see why your request cannot be allowed.

Steff grinned, feeling the sharp intake of breath from Elara beside him. “Does that mean we have your permission to take our leave, General?”

“Yes, Major, but only if you do so with the following caveats.” Garza lifted one hand and ticked off two fingers. “One, I’ll authorize your leave, if you are certain Havoc can function without you for that span of time. In any event the Empire does attempt something in your absence, I’d like to know I can deploy them at a moment’s notice.

Elara smiled knowingly. “I do believe Lieutenant Jorgan can keep Havoc Squad in shape and ready to move out, as well as lead them in any action, as required,” she said.

Steff said, “He’d better, or I’ll know the reason why, General.”

Knowing how you and the Major can and will work things out with the Lieutenant, eases my mind on that score.” Elin said. “Secondly, I recommend that you alter your travel plans to include enough time for you to have your impending nuptials. I suspect that you should have the ceremony after your visit with Major Davion’s family.” She smiled. “I believe it is only fair that you two should be married before you return to active duty.

Nodding, Steff said, “That last point won’t be a problem.” He looked at Elara. “What do you think?”

Elara nodded. “We can also plan our ceremony while we are visiting Steff’s family.”

In that case, I’ll begin processing your furlough request at once,” Elin said, “and you can expect it to be formalized before the end of your unit debrief with SpecForce Command.

Elara nodded, then in a brief lapse of her professionalism, she turned and kissed Steff on the cheek. Composing herself, she said, “I shall inform the Leftenant of our impending leave of absence at once.” She nodded to Elin, saying, “Thank you, General Garza. If you’ll excuse me?” before turning to leave the compartment.

Steff watched Elara leave the room, sighing as the door closed before he turned to face Elin once more. “I can’t tell you how much this means, for the both of us, General.”

Thanks are not necessary, Major. You’ve done more than enough for the Republic, that I am more than willing to do this for you.” She paused. “I will say this much, I do wish the best for you and Captain Dorne,” Garza said somberly. “I can only tell you from prior experience--.

Steff cut her off with a small gesture. “Your advice is appreciated, General. However . . . I do have one small favor to ask of you.”

Elin asked. “Oh? Just a small favor, Major Davion?

“Actually,” Steff said, drawing in a deep breath as he steeled himself. “It is a very large favor, Elin.”

Both of Garza’s eyebrows shot upwards in surprise. “If this is forcing you to use my first name, Major Davion, then I have to wonder just what you are wanting me to do?

Steff ducked his head briefly, before he said, “Forgive me, It’s just . . . what I have to ask is so very important. Not for myself, but mostly for Elara.” When Garza said nothing in reply, he forged ahead. “You see, it’s about her parents--.”

Her parents!?” General Garza drew back in shock. “What about them, Major?

Steff squared his stance -- like he was about to confront a full battalion of Imperials -- and said, “Let me explain this fully, then you might understand the full gravity of the situation, General . . . .”

* * * * *

To be Continued . . . .
The SpecForce Elite Republic Havoc-Marines
The Shadowlands
“Sino Haud Falsidicus, Neque nec Trado Vestri!”