Hoth….shortly after the events of ‘Destiny’….
This was something she had to do. It was with little irony she strode through the old areas, past her former domicile constructed in the shadow of a Republic Dreadnaught; her daughter’s own ship the ‘North Star’ just around the corner. She remembered the day it crashed, they all looked skyward at the mess it made. All of that information, the knowing of what was coming. Alex knew of Karolin then, she followed her career closely. Yet, she could not help her or get her out of the disaster that was her life; her own life taking hold and the promises she made. It was one of those promises that brought her to that moment as she passed the shadows of the abandoned ships in the ‘Graveyard’.
An appropriate name. The ‘Graveyard’. More appropriate returning to it after so many years away from the White Maw and on her own. Alex moved silently, unabated through the snow and the ships. The White Maw, moving aside for their ‘Queen’. The gang was smaller now, the clan facing attrition at the hands of two opposing forces. The Empire came and then the Republic. Both of them damaging and forcing the organization to make hard choices. Alex had long since passed the mantle to others; still their unofficial ‘Queen’ she ran nothing; there was no desire to. Her desires lay elsewhere and had laid elsewhere since the day she discovered the existence of her girls. Even after she took his hand and said, ‘I do…’ she had no desire to run the clan. It was a marriage of convenience. Drogan knew that. But over time she learned to love him; almost as much as she loved Bernard. He was a part of her and would always be a part of her. After all, it was the Force that brought her to his doorstep and without him and the White Maw she never would have discovered the part of her life she lost.
But, the time had come. Both of those bonds now broken. There were no more promises to keep. It was time to go home, time to go and find her daughters and bring her family back together again. That thought made her apprehensive. So much time had passed. So much watching and waiting. And so much had happened to her girls. Karolin and Mrysti both were lost and found, then lost again only to be found once again by her. They faced death so many times, it was the Force that kept them alive and Alex had to believe that it was the Will of the Force that they remained alive for her. That the Force in its infinite wisdom would not deny her that which it dangled in front of her face her entire life.
Alex finally stopped. Looking down, she opened the heavy cloak she wore taking out the Rose she carried all the way from Alderaan. She knelt and brushed the snow away from the marker, smiling down at it.
“Hello, love…” She placed the Rose on the surface and continued to adjust the snow around it until the steel etched marker was visible and shining again in the midday sun, “I kept my word. I did what I said I would do…” Alex dipped her head and looked down, the words not able to come as she played them in her mind, “I wanted to say thank you…thank you for my life, thank you for helping me discover who I was and rediscover who I needed to be. But most of all…thank you for loving me, even when I didn’t want you to…”
Reaching out she placed her hand on the cold metal, closing her eyes slowly, “I should have said it more often…I should have said it as much as you did. I was ashamed…you never let that stop you and you saw me for who I needed to be…” Alex took the hand away and tucked it back in her cloak standing to look down at the steel, “I love you…Drogan. I’m just sorry I waited till now to say it…here, at the very end of things….”
Hoth…Years Earlier, Drogan’s office, after discovering her daughter’s existence…
Sitting up, Drogan looked at his Chrono as Alex rushed in. He glanced at her feet and was about to say something about tracking in the snow. As soon as he saw her face, he lost the thought jumping up quickly to round the desk. “Alex…what’s wrong? You look like you’ve seen a ghos—“
“I’m out Drogan! Done….I’m leaving.” She was still twitchy and looking around nervously as her mind raced to try and catalog rational thought. He put his hands out and laid them on her shoulders.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa…hold on, what’s happened?!?!”
She gently pushed the hands off and stepped away, “I don’t want to talk about it. I-I just need to go…”
In her hands she still held the Datapad, its light glowing off her leg as he glanced down at it. Drogan’s mind racing as well, he glanced at the pad trying to put things together. He knew she was over watching the data retrieval. The fact she held a Datapad said she found something, something that disturbed her to the point of losing her mind. Alex was acting irrational, nervous and still bobbed and weaved around the room, looking around.
“Alex…talk to me. No one just leaves the White Maw…” He glanced at the datapad again as Alex’s face twisted into anger. She gestured with the Datapad toward him, pointing it at him angrily.
“This is about more than your credits Drogan!!! Excuse me if I am taking away your biggest earner, but I have something more important that I have to do….”
Those words hurt. That she would think losing his biggest earner was the sole reason for questioning her. Drogan backed off, giving the nervous Mirialan some space. Folding his arms across his chest. It was the first time he seen Alex in a state such as the one he was witnessing. Lowering his voice Drogan knew it was time for calm. Looking at her sadly he spoke in a tone he usually reserved for his quiet moments, “You really think that…you think I am asking because I am worried about what you earn for us?” He started to reach for the Datapad, Alex jerked it away. Slowly, she relaxed her hand and allowed the datapad to slip from her grasp as Drogan took it.
It didn’t take long, Alex watched his eyes move over the data. They got wide at one point and as he continued reading, relaxed again. She could tell as Drogan read he was already thinking. After he finished, the silence of the room surrounding them broke with a large sigh. Running his fingers through his ashen hair, Drogan pushed off the desk and smiled weakly. Drogan then did something unexpected. Alex initially backed up as he approached. He slowed, taking a moment to place the datapad gently on the desk before turning back to her. Alex was looking at him wide eyed and questiongly, again he started to approach. Extending his arms, he slowly wrapped them around her and pulled her in close. Holding her still a moment. Alex was shaking. She had been shaking from the moment she entered his office. Once he pulled her in, she stopped. Being held was what she needed. It wasn’t every day that you discovered your long-lost children were out there, somewhere. Alex folded into him, her arms coming up between them as he squeezed. She started to sob, her voice muffled in his chest.
“I am a terrible person and a horrible mother…I should have gone back for them. I should have known after they weren’t among the dead that they had been taken. But I didn’t know by whom and I was stricken with such grief after the loss of…” She stopped speaking, she didn’t want to say his name for fear she would be struck down in the Force by him. A ghost from the past coming to claim the right of vengeance against a mother who abandoned their children. Drogan pulled her away and left his hands on her arms.
“Tell me about it then…and lets decide what we are going to do…”
Alex recounted the tale for the first time since all of it happened, she actually smiled as she spoke of Bernard and her girls. It was a perfect life, one of adventure; a house and a union built of love. He listened and actually smiled with her. Envy hit him. Envy that her life was so perfect. It made him feel small. No one would have guessed it the way Alex was as ‘L’ the Dread Pirate. She had truly changed, in her mind, sunken into the abyss. Drogan didn’t see it that way. He was not a big believer of the Force, but listening to Alex as she talked about her life and what brought her to his door, he began to have respect for it. Alex was a believer and as she talked, he could hear the conviction returning to her voice. A renewed hope and a repentance for having given up her faith. Alex was changing even as she sat there, returning to who she was. He watched her with a keen eye. In her mind, she was already gone. On her way to try and rescue the daughters she abandoned. Drogan knew he had to find a way to make it happen.
Alex fell silent as she finished the story, letting out a sigh of relief. Years of never telling it or living with the pain of loss suddenly felt lifted from her. Drogan noticed she sat up straighter, crossed her legs and had more of a regal air about her. She actually looked funny in a way, still outwardly appearing as the Dread Pirate, but sitting there in a proper ladylike fashion.
“Alex…I don’t have to tell you…” He got up and paced to the window to look out at the snow, “…what you ask, it’s difficult. No one leaves the account…it’s like giving up your citizenship only we don’t deport you, we kill you for that.” He glanced at her; Alex’s face was rigid with stern concentration.
“I don’t care. Either way, I’m leaving…if I have to kill every man in this encampment to do so, I will…”
Laughing at the statement, Drogan shook his head. Alex was deadly serious. It was Drogan’s attempt at levity. Drogan still loved her, he always had and had buried it deep for her sake. Even after professing it to her. He said it once, he meant it. Drogan was prepared to do whatever it took to make her happy. Not wanting to appear as if he was taking advantage, he turned, his one good eyebrow arching slightly as the businessman in him came out; taking the seat behind his desk.
“Alex…” he folded his hands together as he watched her, “…what I am going to propose will sound ludicrous, but I am speaking from more of a business perspective.” Sitting forward, Drogan let his one good eye bore into her. “There is a way you can go…in fact you would be able to come and go whenever you please, no one would ask any questions…not ever…” Alex leaned forward as well, extremely curious but maintaining her rather rigid posture, “…I am, in a way the defacto ‘King’ of this clan, I run things and have run things as I was shown by my father and his predecessors before him. There is only one other who would be able to do what I do…” He swallowed hard as he was about to say it, “…only the ‘Queen’ could come and go without so much as a ‘by-your-leave’…”
Alex tried to stifle it, the smile which was joining the darker flushing of her skin. The thought crossed her mind instantly that Drogan was actually proposing a ‘union’ just to get her into bed one last time. But she could see he was serious. Looking at him, Alex sensed his angst. It was not something he proposed lightly. And after the conversation they had, Alex telling him everything. It had to be sincere. Alex had poured her heart out to him and he listened to every word. Drogan legitimately cared for her. Part of ‘L’ the Pirate came back as she smirked, very carefully standing and moving to the other side of the desk. She stood before him. The time had come to shock Drogan’s world.
Without being prompted, Alex waited very patiently as Drogan got the hint that she was going to remain standing until he got up out of his seat. As he did so, she took his hand.
“Thank you, for offering me a way out…” Drogan looked down, prepared for the worst. No good conversation ever started out with the words “Thank You’ that weren’t immediately followed by, ‘No, Thank You’. She placed her other hand on his chest and smiled warmly. Alex’s lips moved silently and only for herself as she prayed. Softly, she closed her eyes. In her mind, she saw them. All of her Mirialan Ancestors. Alex was asking permission. ‘Unity, grant me peace. Give me the wisdom to guide him and love him…as he will guide and love me.’ Drogan was confused, but he didn’t move. Just as softly, Alex opened her eyes and smiled.
“Drogan….the Ancestors have spoken. And though I am unworthy, they have given me their blessing to move on. Drogan Summerset….will you marry me…”