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Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:4:30) in the Ringali Nebula: Blue Haven.
Commander Iyah Xergo and Mug Zoran.

Commander Xergo hated days like these; days where she had to choose duty over the safety of her family. Since the message from Jelena Rodney and speaking with Ashori, a depression had settled over her. She was highly anxious about returning to Delaya where a Grand Moff ruled and an Imperial Governor had made himself a nest. The Imperials were quickly intoxicating the planet. The rest of the Rebel Alliance was up in arms over Delaya. She had no choice, she was being summoned to the planet to aid the efforts, save the refugees, and, hopefully, drive out both Claudius and Papius.

It was late. Iyah had left her bed after tossing and turning for hours. Little Callista continued to sleep like an angel in her own bed. Ultimately, Iyah found herself seated on her couch drinking ruge. She was considering all options...even running away. There was no where safe to place Callista should something go wrong. All over again, she was exposing her sweet daughter to war. Real, bloody war. Her fingers raked through her midnight black hair. She didn't know what she was walking into. She stared at a picture on her desk of a younger Iyah standing beside Derek Aito, grinning like an idiot. "I can't do it," she told her old mentor. "This could be a suicide mission. My hands will be stained with my own family's blood..." She ran her fingers over the picture. "It was easier for you... Damn it, why did you have to die?!" She slammed the picture onto the desk upside down.

Despite his relationship with the Blue Haven's commander, Mug Zoran was careful never to shirk his work detail. It had been a long day in the cargo hold, transferring the recently captured Imperial cargo to Ringali Station. When he arrived back at the cabin he shared with Iyah and Callista he was an exhausted, sweaty mess. When he entered he did not notice how distracted Iyah was, as he was too eager to sit down. He brought his sleeve to his forehead to mat the sweat, while trying to catch his breath. Because of his relationship with Iyah he felt he needed to work twice as hard to prove himself, but it was a grueling experience. After he caught his breath he looked towards Iyah and only then noticed something was wrong. "Iyah?" he asked, from his seat, but then slowly got back to his feet. He moved forward, placing his arm around her, as he looked at the upside down picture. He knew which one it was, but he did not say anything. He simply wrapped his arms tightly around her from behind, and pressed his lips to the back of her neck. "I love you," he whispered, as it seemed like something she needed to hear right now. "I believe in you too," he quickly added, as he understood how difficult it must have been to be a Commander.

The Derek picture wasn't around all the time. She had drew it out of her drawer to ask her mentor for help. Try as she might, drink as she might, her mentor would not reach out to her. Iyah's head hung low when Mug arrived after a long, terrible day. She lifted her head. Iyah wasn't blind to how hard Mug worked. Because he had fallen in love with the commander, he worked a thousand times harder than anyone else on her ship. It made her feel miserable that many people thought differently of him because of *her*. Falling further down the spiral, she wondered if she should have approached him more professionally. Would he be happier if he didn't have to come home to *this*?

Lost inside of her head, it was Mug who reached her and embraced her. She closed her eyes and sucked in a soft sob. He told her the words that she *needed* to hear at this very moment. No, he wouldn't be happier without her. As she doubted herself, Mug still believing in her was something she needed. She leaned back into his body, tilting her chin backwards until she was looked up at him. "I couldn't do this without you." She admitted to him. "I love you so much. I'm *scared*. We narrowly escaped Delaya last time. What if I get you killed? And Callista..." Her heart throbbed in pain.

"The Empire has displayed the power to destroy entire planets, Iyah," Mug told her, as he inhaled sharply, while tightening his grasp around her. "There is *no* safe place. The only thing we can do to make ourselves safe is to destroy the Empire," he told her, confidently, before moving his hands to her hips to spin her around so that she would be facing him. He lowered his head, placing his lips to hers in a tender and passionate kiss. "We can take a U-wing. Go in with only a handful rather than take the Blue Haven and Callista," he said to her, as he, too, worried about risking their daughter on the missions they had been undertaking.

The shocking destruction of Alderaan was something that she would never forget. Looking into Mug's eyes, she recalled not just his mother, but the fact that everyone he knew had perished in the planet's destruction. Indeed, nowhere was safe. She ignorantly let herself believe that she could protect Callista on their home turf, the Blue Haven. She kissed him, allowing his passions to part the doom clouds over her head. As he spoke, she realized that he deserved to be much more than a yeoman. He helped her see when she couldn't. Her arms wrapped around him in a sudden, warm, tight squeeze. "You're right. She doesn't have to come. We can keep the Blue Haven and Callista away from it all. I want you there with me every step of the way. All those poor refugees... They don't deserve what's happening to them. It's even worse than Tarkintown."

The conversation was getting heavy and the weight threatened to crush him. The loss of his mother and his home in the disaster was something he would never get over. "We should have known once the Grand Moff became Duke that an Imperial garrison would not be far behind," Mug reported, bitterly, as he looked down to the ground. His jaw clenched and his hands balled into fists as he thought of the needless suffering of the Alderaanian people. "Delaya is no longer a safe world for the Alderaanian people," he declared, shaking his head dismissively. "Something must be done. Perhaps we should appeal to the Princess..." he said, thinking out loud about the refugee crisis.

"You're right again. I'm sure he couldn't wait to start turning Delaya into a cozy place for the Imperials. I feel bad for them. The refugees, the people of Delaya, they didn't ask for what's happening to them. We're going to save the refugees, I promise you that, my love. I think we should take a look at what's going on before appealing to the Princess. Ashori wasn't able to give me enough information in fear of them finding her. We're going to go meet with her as soon as we land." Commander Xergo wanted to be better informed as to what was going on. She hated being kept in the dark like this. She lifted her head and stood. "Mug, I *promise* that one day the Empire will be destroyed. We'll avenge your mother and your home planet. I'm sorry it's taking so long." She pressed her forehead against his.

"If we hadn't been found out maybe I would have become Duke and been able to help my people and prevented all this," Mug said, sadly, as tears began to well up in the corner of each of his eyes. He never got to say goodbye to his father, nor was he able to attend the funeral ... although he did not start out liking the man the death of a father is always a difficult occurrence. "All right. We'll go and find out what's going on. Find out what happened to Ash and the rest of the cell," he said to her, trying to sound confident. "And I promise you that I will be at your side for the duration, Iyah," he said, looking at her with unconditional love. His mouth connected with hers again in a longer, impassioned kiss, that saw his tongue invade her mouth with the swiftness and ferocity of the Imperials on Delaya.

Iyah looked sadly at her love, shaking her head. "No, you can't think like that. You're infinitely better as a Rebel. We're going to go save the refugees...and you're going to take part in stopping the Empire from ever destroying another planet again. *You* can stop other people from hurting like you can stop things like Callista's situation from happening." She had to be confident now. Mug had pumped her up enough that she could stand once more. His love was astounding to her. She had never felt the kind of love that he gave to her. The way he trusted her forced her to see the good inside herself. She clung to him while they shared a long, passionate kiss. As the night grew later, Iyah slowly lowered herself onto the couch with Mug. There was only one way she wanted to spend the night before war.

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