Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:7:10) in the Ringali nebula: Ringali Station.
Commander Dillon Hobbes and Major Elayne Passik.

Commander Dillon Hobbes stood in the hangar bay of the converted gas mining station operated within the Ringali Nebula by the Rebel Alliance. In one hand he was holding a datapad where he was meticulously inspecting the replacement starfighters that Captain Dartanyn had secured for them with the supply droid. "Back up to full strength ... for now," he observed, as he moved his hand along the exposed hull of the A-wing. One by one he began to mark off boxes on the manifest, content to find that each of the new craft was fully operational and ready for battle. "It was a lot more fun when I wasn't squadron leader," he complained, as he had spent the past couple hours going over the newly arrived vessels with the tenacity of the supply droid that was assisting him. "Last one," he said to the droid, as he handed over the datapad and began to move across the hangar to find Elayne. While he was glad to have been resupplied and reinforced he also knew that it likely meant they would soon be sent into battle again.

Major Elayne Passik let out a groan as she escaped the makeshift command center. Indeed, they'd be seeing battle far sooner than anyone liked. For now, those within the squadrons who were positioned on the gas station would be able to live remotely normal lives. There was plenty of supplies. Fresh blood would arrive soon enough. She rubbed her hip, headed towards her favored bench. She lowered herself down slowly. Her head fell into her hands. Her mind had been all over the place as of late. The anniversary of her imprisonment was on the rise. It served as a constant reminder of what had happened...and how much she had lost. It was a part of her life that she had been reluctant to expose Dillon to. Despite what people said, that 'love conquered all', she wasn't entirely sure if he was prepared to conquer that. She tried to distract herself by thinking of New Alderaan and that little blue house. Between her fingers, she saw a craft fly by. Would her new dream ever come true...or would she lose a lot more than just her legs to the Empire?

One advantage of being confined to a small, cramped station in the middle of the nebula was that it was never difficult to find anyone. In fact, there were times when someone who did not want to be found were easily discovered. "There you are," Dillon said, as he first glimpsed Elayne. He did not initially realize she was withdrawn in thought, but once he did he dropped his pilot's swagger and moved to be more near her. "Hey," he said, trying again, in a more serious tone. He quickly sat down on the bench next to her, moving to wrap his arm around her, drawing her near. "Credit for your thoughts?" he asked her, knowing that she had so much on her mind. He knew that the more they gained the more they had to lose.

Elayne allowed herself to take a trip down the slippery slope of her broken mind. She revisited that dark place time and time again, never seeming to truly move forward. She was staring off into outer space and didn't realize she was no longer alone. The second time he called to her, Elayne snapped out of it. She blinked several times. "Dillon." She said with a little smile on her face. "Did you finish inspecting the replacements?" She asked him. Elayne was already preparing to thrust the attention away from herself. It was something she liked to do when her mental health wasn't at tiptop. Today, she was feeling raw. She inched closer to him. "I was thinking." She admitted, looking up at him. "A damn lotta good thinking does, huh?" She lowered her head against him. "I was thinkin' about when I was captured." She said dryly.

"Yes, but now I'm here to inspect you. How are you doing?" Dillon asked, as he tried his best to comfort her by listening. "I always told you that if you ever wanted to talk about it, I'd be here to listen," he told her, as his hand moved from wrapped around her to the back of her neck. He began to rub it gently, trying his best to be a supporting influence when she seemed to need it the most. "If you're still not ready I understand," he told her, as his eyes looked up and down the corridor to ensure that they had privacy. Other than the monotonous beeping of an R4 unit, they seemed to have the temporary luxury of being alone.

"I'm a little rusty, Commander. Not gonna lie." Elayne confessed. It was essential for her to screw on her head properly before they headed out. Her misjudgment could result in death...or worse. She nodded her head. She recalled how supportive Dillon was. She had told him no specifics, yet he was open to hearing about the massive ball and chain that Elayne carried from one part of her life to another. She fell silent, considering if she was ready or not. She knew that the longer she held it all inside, the less likely she would ever say anything to him. She internalized in the worst ways. "Mm.' Her eyes rolled into the back of her head momentarily. His rubbing felt good. "I-I'm ready. Ready as I'll ever be. I am concerned that letting my darkness bleed into our relationship will hurt us. I love you. It isn't my intent to chase you away."

"I'm in a relationship with you. All of you. Not just the surface of you, but what you're hiding beneath the surface as well. I love you. *All of you*," Dillon said, repeating the phrase, as he continued to gently massage the back of her neck and shoulders. "You won't chase me away, and nothing you can tell me can hurt *us*," he told her, as he shifted his weight to his side to turn into her. His hand moved up from her back to the back of her head, where his fingers moved between the locks of her hair and began to rub the back of her head. He knew this was not going to be easy for her, and he wanted to do everything he could to help her get out what was threatening to suffocate her.

The words he spoke brought on realization inside of Elayne. He had committed to her despite knowing that there was *something* more going on. He had decided to be with all of her...demons and all. She rested her hand on top of his leg. Her eyes diverted away from his as she found herself wrapped up in an emotional moment. Dillon's reassuring words and his continued massage helped to relax her. He took her to a place where she felt like she could talk. "Thank you." She whispered. Her heart swelled with love for him. The little blue house floated back to the surface of her mind, only this time it wasn't empty.

"Some years ago, I fought in the Battle of Atollon. There was a serious malfunction in the cockpit. Because of that, I had to land. It was hardly a graceful. Have you been to Atollon? It's a real shit shack." She grumbled, then proceeded to suck in a deep breath. She had never recounted the story of what had happened. As she sat in therapy session after therapy session following her return home, she would *never* tell anyone. "I was knocked out. The next time I opened my eyes, I had *no* idea where I was." She kept herself focused on the feeling of his massage to avoid letting pain overcome her.

Dillon, like most who had survived the early days of the rebellion, knew the Battle of Atollon. When she spoke the words he simply nodded his head in silent acknowledgment, afraid that if he said anything that interrupted her she might never get it out. As he listened to her begin her recount of the battle he swallowed, clenching his jaw uncomfortable as he listened to her tale. "You made it through. You survived," he reminded her, speaking in a soft voice to encourage her. Few understood the perils of starfighter combat ... being alone in a small craft where mechanical error, a well timed shot, or a wrong turn could instantly get one killed. It was the least forgiving avenue of the war.

She did survive, but not a day went by where she didn't think about what she had lost because of her time as a prisoner of war. She nodded her head. Survival had led her to a better point in her life. "Six months. I spent six months under the 'care' of an ISB officer named Keil Olaird. Somehow, I slipped through the cracks. My Major believed me to be dead and never looked into the situation anymore. No one came to rescue me. Olaird liked messing with my head. That bastard...he truly believed I knew something I didn't. His torture techniques became ... gruesome. He broke my legs first. Then he removed them. I was so fucked up." She told Dillon. "I can't tell you how fucked up it is to go to sleep with legs and to wake up without them. I didn't have prosthetics then. There was just *nothing*. It was the worst form of psychological torture. I got out by luck alone. The Rebels stormed the place where I was being held. I realized I'd have to integrate with the world around me again...and perhaps it was easier to be a victim than to deal with that." Elayne unloaded the pain onto him. Hot tears streamed down her cheeks.

The mere mention of the ISB was enough to bring a chill up the spine of any Rebel and Dillon was no exception. "I'm sorry that you were forgotten. I'm sorry for what they did to you," he told her, as he continued to gently rub the back of her head. Slowly he moved his other hand as well, gently caressing her cheeks to wipe the tears away. "It's over now," he reminded her, as his heart ached for her. No one should have to go through what she went through. "I'm still here. I still love you," he said, reassuringly, as he lowered his face and placed a sweet kiss upon her forehead. "And I will *never* forget you," he informed her, as her story made him love her more, rather than less, as it demonstrated that she had grown to trust him. The closeness they now shared was one he never thought the war would allow him to experience.

It had been hard to tell him. A hole of insecurities surrounded what had happened. Those six months had been life altering. She returned to the Rebellion as a different person. She felt Dillon's unwavering support for her as he wiped away her tears. His words...they cut so deeply. They cut through all the darkness that clouded her judgment from time to time. The tears began to come quicker. It was those words he said to her, that he'd never forget her, that she unknowingly needed to hear. The bond between them began to strengthen after she had told him her story. All the worries of losing him started to drift away. Elayne moved forward, wrapping both of her arms around him as if to say 'thank you'. "After everything that happened...after such a slippery, terrible recovery...I thought no one would love me. I found myself totally undesirable. I was terrified the first night we were together. The's all a bit much." She had found her 'keeper'. Dillon had claimed that title from the very first night, when he didn't show disgust at her legs. He proved it to her again with how open-minded he was with her secrets. She had nothing to hide from him anymore. She had shown him her demons.

"Fear not, Elayne. I love you, and I always will. You're more to me than the sum of your parts," Dillon vowed to her, as he continued to hold her while she experienced her emotional catharsis. "Wars are terrible things, but our cause is just. What *they* did to you is reason enough for us to fight. We will beat back the Empire here and then in other sectors so that they can never again do to someone what they did to you," he told her, confidently, as he nodded his head emphatically. "I'm glad you told me. I'm glad you're no longer holding back. Maybe now when this was is over and we retire to that house on New Alderaan you'll sleep soundly each night," he told her, gently, as he lowered his head to place another kiss upon her head. He never loved anyone so much as he loved her right now.

Her lower lip quivered. His kind words words like a mental bacta patch. They flooded the places that needed repairing inside of her head, and slowly began the healing process. Elayne dipped her head against his chest. Tears overwhelmed her there. Some were sad. Some were angry. Others were absolutely happy. Dillon was right. They had to stop the Empire from ever hurting someone else the way they hurt her. All over the galaxy, people were suffering. The suffering *had* to stop. Slowly, Elayne lifted her head. She was glad that they were alone. This was a side of her that she only wanted to show him. A smile started working its way onto her tear stained face. He knew, more than anyone else, that some nights were harder than others. There were nights where she'd wake him just because she wanted to be cuddled and supported without having to tell him what was going on. "That would be nice. I keep thinking about that house and what life will be like after we beat those damn Imperial asses out of the galaxy." She looked up at him. "I'm glad I told you. I'm glad that you are such a sweet, wonderful man to understand and listen to me. I promise you, I'm going to give you an amazing life when this war is over. I'll make you a father time and time again." She seemed to have warmed up to the concept of having a family. It was hard to tell if it was attributed from opening up to him, or spending the length of the evening at the ball with two Squibs.

"You've already given me an amazing life, Elayne. Much more wonderful than I could have ever imagined," Dillon told her, as he continued to embrace her, right there on that bench. "I'd like to have children, but not until this war is over. I can't see myself bringing new life into a galaxy torn apart by war where such evil exists," he confided in her, as he moved his hand down his hip flask. Removing it from his belt he unscrewed the top and offered it to her. "Need a drink after all that?" he asked her, as there was many a night where Corellian whisky had gotten him through. There would be no pilots arriving soon. New sorties to prepare for. The war would continue, but he knew not how long. There were moments where he caught a glimpse of the sheer size of the Imperial war machine and wondered if victory was even possible, but meeting her, and sharing his life with her, had made him reach deep down to fight just a bit harder.

Elayne's heart began to warm. She took pride in the fact that she could make him happy, just as he did to her. She remained wrapped up in him with no intent to move any time soon. The Major did nothing to hide her relationship. She wasn't about to change that. "No, no... Neither can I. I don't want to expose a child to all of this." She thought about Xergo and her adoptive daughter. Elayne couldn't do it. She couldn't knowingly bring a child into this world, then separate herself from that child every time war called. The young woman took the flask from her love. "You know me too well, Dillon." She flashed him a smile and brought the flask to her lips. The battle against the daunting Empire was one she would never stop fighting...especially now that Dillon fought by her side. She wanted to create a better world. She wanted to bring on a day where flying was fun, and every time they were in a cockpit wasn't life risking. She handed the flask back over to him so she could squeeze him tightly. "I love you, Commander."

"I, uh, love you too, Major," Dillon replied, calling her by rank rather than by name to match her statement. As they sat there on the bench, their arms tightly wrapped around each other, it seemed they had found a moment of peace in the unending war. With the flask back in hand, he took a quick swig, as he settled in against her, doing his best to process what she had told him. With her in his arms he could see an end to the war. A happy life on New Alderaan. Children. Everything that a normal couple *should* have, but war had denied them. In his mind each victory in the cockpit would bring them a moment closer to that post-war fantasy. But he also knew that in an instant the enemy could take it all from them. There were no guarantees, but he would cherish each moment they had together. He would cherish no moment as he would this.

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