Three and a half years prior, The Morning After the Gathering of the Captains….
She got out of there quickly, leaving even before the sun crested over the valley and while it was still well below freezing outside. Alex moved quietly as not to disturb Drogan, the last thing she needed was him waking up and adding to an already awkward situation she was desperate to escape from. She didn’t care about the temperature or the fact that she could very well die on the walk back to her own pre-fab. All she wanted to do was escape. Rolling over, grimacing and then seeing who it was laying on the floor with her; not to mention where she was, Alex could have been struck dead in that instant and it wouldn’t have felt worse. Already feeling like she betrayed her husband’s memory, all of what she was doing; becoming ‘L’ the Dread Pirate, destroying things, stealing things. Finally, waking up next to Drogan. Her whole life was a betrayal of everything she once stood for. And she sealed the lid on the coffin, her final act; to sleep with a man she cared nothing for after a night of drunken partying.
Placing her hands on her fresher sink, the steam of the shower she took still thick in the enclosure, Alex slapped down on the basin hard. “What am I, twelve?” Alex certainly felt as if she was acting like a child, everything was leading her down the wrong road. Her sleeping with Drogan simply proved the obvious that she chose to ignore. Alexandra De’nabre was lost and she cast away the last thing she had with the previous night’s activities; her dignity and self-respect.
There was a slight awkwardness at waking up alone. Drogan kicked himself for thinking it, what did he expect in the first place? She wasn’t in her right mind. That she would even care one ‘legitimate’ iota for him was a pipedream. Still, it hurt. For the first time Drogan was now on the other end of something he had put other women through most of his life. He was the lovesick child, he was the one looking at the door to see if she was going to magically walk back through.
Getting up off the floor, Drogan looked at the thermometer on the holo-display. His eyes widened a bit, she must have been desperate to get out to subject herself to the dangerous temperature. His face dropped as well as his posture; shrugging slightly. At least it was one time, he could be thankful for that. And we would gladly do it again if called upon. Void, maybe he could even get her to like him; a little. Drogan smiled thinking it and shook his head. 'Nah, Alex would never go for that.' He knew he had to say something to her, clear the air. He didn’t want there to be awkwardness between them.
The warm feeling started to work its way back into the pit of his stomach again as he stood there thinking of the beautiful green goddess and the night’s previous activity. Never once had he given up on something he wanted. Clearing the air or not, he was going to tell her how he felt about the whole thing.
They both left simultaneously, she from her door and he from his. The temperature finally at a manageable level. Alex had worked herself up into anger. She was furious that he would take advantage like that. All of it was a smoke screen. Alex was mad at herself and she needed someone to take it out on.
Drogan was looking at his feet and talking to himself as he walked slowly, trying to rehearse what it was he was going to say, “Look…lets just call it what it was…two people who needed one another. Ships colliding in the nigh—NO, that’s stupid.” He continued to walk not seeing that Alex had already noticed him and was making a beeline his direction, “Ok, whatever it was…I have to say this, I have been and am now madly in Love with yo—“ The slap was hard and fast, Alex reaching up to strike the man with all her might. She even placed some of the Force behind the blow and it nearly knocked him down as he bowed to the right from the left-handed slap. He slowly rose and was about to ask, ‘What the kriff?!?!’ Alex never gave him the chance.
“That was for last night!!! To think I ever trusted you for one tiny instant!!!”, Anger started to rise in him, but he held his tongue glaring at the smaller woman, “You are a pirate!! A Scoundrel…you waited until I was vulnerable just to pounce. Well, I hope you had fun Drogan, because that’s as close to me as you will ever get again!!!”
“Yea, you keep believing it went down that way, Alex. You keep telling yourself that.” Now he was mad and ready to lash out. All thoughts of professing love, gone. “You want to blame me for something that was completely your fault!!!”
“My fault?!?” She stepped forward, even going so far to place a hand on the top of one of her sabers, his eyes followed the hand as he took a step back, “Oh…so I guess I just kriffed myself?!?! Is that it???”
“Oh I wouldn’t say you kriffed yourself…but you can definitely go KRIFF YOURSELF right now….” Drogan folded his arms, he saw the look in her eye and realized where the anger was coming from. Since she attacked him he couldn’t lose the opportunity to twist the knife, “This is about your ‘long lost life’…” he said it while making quotation marks in the air, “…you feeling guilty for kriffing another man? Your husband is DEAD Alex. It’s time to start living….like you have been.” His voice got softer at the end, Drogan realizing where he was going. He should have never mentioned her husband. Alex was enraged, her voice getting low as she stopped screaming to take her own step back. Narrowing her eyes, she looked at Drogan with a sneer.
“Mention him again…and I kill you where you stand….” She turned around to leave, no more to say and not wanting to even if she could muster words.
“Oh that’s it Alex…RUN!!! Run like you always do, like you have been for the past three years. Who was it that took you in?!! Huh??? Who gave you purpose, a home, a family again? ME!!! I did!!”
Alex stopped cold and Drogan swallowed hard. There was a threshold with Alex and he just crossed it as he watched her turn back around slowly.
“And you think that means I ‘owe’ you? Is that it…is that what all of this, last night, everything is all about?” Alex gave a deadly smile, “Honey…you have nothing I need. But if jumping in the sack with you is all I have to do to keep you off my back, then fine. You wanna kriff? Anytime…I’m always ready.” Drogan was trying hard to stand his ground as he watched Alex approach, her hand still on the top of one of her sabers, “But know this…none of it, including you, mean a damn to me. All of this is just an act. A sad sick little play I find myself in…” She stopped close to him locking eyes, letting her dark red irises burn into his, “And that includes loving you or giving a damn about what you do to me or with me. THAT, will never happen…you can count on that….”
White Maw Base, Hoth…after returning from the Korriban Sector…
The largest datamine haul in the history of the White Maw, that’s what they were calling it. Alex knew if she was able to advertise, she would most likely find it made Galactic record books. And they didn’t even get all of the stuff. Some of the servers lost when the ship exploded, her slicers determining which were the most valuable and trying to cart away as much as possible.
Drogan was pleased, she was pleased. The two of them well rewarded her men, with much time off and bounty; some of which Drogan kept in the private stores. He wanted to throw a party, but Alex convinced him that there wasn’t time. They may have stolen the data, but they had yet to decipher all of it. It was not over, no one could cash in on the data found or sell it to any bidders until they discovered exactly what it was they had.
While Drogan was busy trying to make contacts in which to sell it or estimate how much they had in order to calculate how much they were going to bring in; Alex busied herself with oversight. It had been a week, only twenty percent of the data had been deciphered and cataloged. It was enough to start filing systems in which to begin deciding which contacts would be interested in the various bits information. Compromising Holo-transmissions. Corporate Records; it was a treasure trove. Drogan started reaching out. Czerka was back in the bidding as one the primary bidders. The Corellian Arms Company was not far behind. Neither corporation wanting their involvement with the Sith to become public knowledge. Drogan didn’t even have to mention it, the bidders did. Knowing full well the Pirates already knew. They all wanted to buy their own stuff back, some of it so priceless they didn’t want prototype schematics or information on secret projects to fall into the wrong hands. Compromising information was at the top of the list. It was all proprietary and all of it rested in the hands of the White Maw. Credits ran the universe, even for a so called ‘righteous’ company that wish to help humanoid kind.
Alex scoffed at the corporation’s righteous indignation. She didn’t like them when she was a Jedi and she definitely didn’t like them now. Just stepping out of the shower, Alex moved the water over her face, finishing her morning regime. Primary exercises were done. There was a meeting with Drogan, target practice; another exercise regime and meditation to do. And all of it before noon time. It was going to be a long morning as it always was, but she subjected herself to it because routine kept her sane. It gave her a semblance of stability in such a chaotic line of work.
Moving through the quad, the passing pirates all tipped hats or acknowledged her with a smile. Greetings of ‘Mornin’ Captain’ or simply a kind look were enough to know she had more than earned her place. The latest haul was the biggest in the history of the White Maw, there was even talk of perhaps an elevation. Someone to work alongside of Drogan. Perhaps even replace Drogan should the opportunity arise. Alex had no designs on that, it was just talk. Drogan didn’t seem nervous about the rumors, at least he didn’t appear that way. Things were still ‘icey’ between the two of them and had been for years since the one ‘episode’. The conversation on the way back to Hoth on board ‘The Karolin’ did a little to crack the ice. After Drogan left her cabin, neither of them spoke about it again. Alex knew where he stood and Drogan knew she was unhappy. He kept his distance after they returned, kept things professional. Alex wouldn’t have it any other way.
In her heart, Alex was sorry for what she did that morning after. Though much too proud to apologize to him. Even in her cabin, she didn’t apologize. Not that Drogan was seeking it even after he mentioned it. Alex never let on that in that moment, as the two of them stood off against one another, she sensed his desire; his love for her. Drogan professed it again on board her ship. And Alex knew It was genuine. Not some schoolboy’s fantasy or a desire from a lusty Pirate Lord. Which was surprising to her given what he was. Pirates traditionally didn’t have attachments. In a line of work that could very well see you dead from one moment to the next, attachment complicated things; destroyed focus. Still, Alex initially wanted to run to him on that morning. To give in to the desire he had for her. More because she desperately needed someone. And had professed her unhappiness in that regard on board her ship. But, Alex destroyed all of that with those final words. Only repairing it slightly by not repeating them after Drogan professed his willingness to do anything she needed him to do in order to make her happy. Alex had to face a difficult truth. All of it rested with her. They would never be a ‘thing’ if she didn’t want it to be. They wouldn’t be together if she wouldn’t have him. The decision was all Alex. Drogan made that very clear.
Walking into the Comm shelter, Alex stomped her feet to shake off the snow and removed her coat. The slicers, still hard at work briefly turned to acknowledge her before going back to their duties. Not many of the Pirates in the White Maw possessed the kind of slicing skill required to not only extract the data, but catalog it. The work was mind-numbing. A Slicer had to truly love what they did and understand the need for it to be done to stay focused. These were ‘tech guys’. On the open market, they would still find employment and perhaps make even more credits independently. Something always brought an individual to the White Maw. Those slicers were wanted, had Death Marks or were hiding from something.
Even working in shifts, Alex took it upon herself to keep regular hours with them. If for no other reason than to ensure they stopped, stretched their legs and got something to eat. Slicers were notorious for working long and getting so involved with data they forgot the time. Days, sometimes a week would pass. Then there were the ‘stims’. Drugs some of the slicers took so they could keep going. Losing track of time, they often forgot how many ‘stims’ they taken. Take too many, the heart would explode. Alex kept tabs on that as well.
The Slicer crew was desperate to finish extracting all of the data. Not because of a time crunch Alex or Drogan had placed on them. They were looking for the ‘golden mynock…’ A Cybertech term referring to the diamond in the rough, the one piece of data that stuck out and would make all of them extremely wealthy. Finding some very interesting pieces of information as well as some very lucrative ones already. It was like Life Day for them. A present waiting to be opened. And they desperately wanted to be the first to find it. Sleep deprivation and overdose was becoming a very real threat. Alex walked in and saw all of the rings under their eyes. The hollow looks from all of the men. But she wasn’t going to stop them, not yet. Looking down at the checklist she was keeping on her portable wrist unit that gave her information about that particular shift; she saw that they were actually the freshest bunch. It made sense; this was the time of day Alex spent the most time in the shack with them. Mothering them. Moving to the adjacent room, Alex took her place behind the desk and picked up the holo-pad to go over what had been found during the previous nights work.
Her finger traced the screen of the holo-pad, categories like <Schematics>, <Intelligence Files – Sith – Republic>, <Communiqués – General>….she stopped at the last one; <Projects> and opened the file. Something seemed to buzz in the back of her head. Usually it was the Force. Years ago she listened to it every time it buzzed or pinged at her. Years of not following her instincts or listening to what it said and simply choosing not to; had weakened her connection. But it was still there. She may not have been as attuned to the Living Force as her late husband Bernard was, but she could hear and sometimes even see if she concentrated.
The file opened, there five entries. Alex scanned them briefly skipping over the top one as all of them were listed in Alphabetical order. Her eyes went back to the top as she read them all, going back to the first listed as <Alpha>. The buzzing increased and Alex actually put the holo-pad down a second to bring a hand to her forehead and pinch the top of her nose, “UGH…stop…” She picked the pad back up and expanded the file.
Her eyes cascaded over the information, the glow of the holo-field lighting her face. As she read, she saw the notation under two of the test subjects of the project, she read their backgrounds. Slowly her heart began to sink.
<…Recovered in a burned out colony on one of the moons of Felucia…two infant twins…Mirialan…tests conducted on viability of protocol as one child designated <Control> the other <Test>….highly gifted…strong in the Force…Test began immediately following acceptance into the program….>
Moving quickly, Alex got up to close the door, her heart racing.
Quickly, Alex picked up the pad again, still standing; her eyes moving over the screen as she read the rest. Eyes got wider as she saw there were Holos of all the test subjects, the ‘twins’ in particular. Alex quickly transferred the pictures to two different Holo-comm units and slapped the pad back down on the desk.
The images popped up on the screen, both girls floating in the ions above the transmission pad and slowly Alex picked both units up to hold them in her hands. It was the reason for the buzz in her mind, it was why the Force was screaming at her as she picked up the pad in the first place.
There....in the ions of the two holo-units floated Mrysti and Karolin De’nabre….her two little girls, not so little anymore.
Breathing increasing, Alex started to feel lightheaded. Grasping the desk to hold herself up as she bent at the waist. Struggling to hold back tears and emotion. Not sure what she was thinking, her mind racing at the possibility. Hope. Something she lost and hadn’t had in years. Alex dropped the two holo-units on the desk. The images fizzling at the impact. Before she looked up, everything she ate that morning came up. Alex bent to the side and retched the morning meal all over the floor. Sickness engulfed her as guilt overcame everything she was feeling. After reading what the Republic had done and was doing to them, it made her sick. Alex shook her head and fell back against the servers lining the wall. What had she done? If ever she felt she betrayed Bernard’s memory in what she was doing with the White Maw, she felt worse now. The two she swore to protect, were being used by the hands of a ruthless government. A government she and Bernard once swore to protect.
Trying to regain her composure, Alex looked around quickly; her mind racing as she wiped her mouth. What was she going to do? She looked around the room. Erasing the file came to mind. Erasing it and herself, fleeing the White Maw and heading out to Republic space in order to recover her daughters. Alex found she couldn’t keep a thought in her head, nothing rational. Emotions started cascading through her like a kaleidoscope. Anger, hate, rage, guilt, sadness….all of them coming and going in a flash. The room was spinning and Alex knew she needed to get control of herself.
Gritting her teeth, she snatched up the holo-pad and stormed from the room. It was time to see Drogan, she had a meeting with him anyway. The information would most likely come as a shock to him. The possibility of it ending her time with the White Maw came to mind. She was going. That was a foregone conclusion. Even though Alex could not sync her thoughts logically at the moment that was the one thing she was sure of. She had to leave the White Maw in order to go get them. Her daughters were out there and one way or another, she was going to get them back.