Dravius was on Naboo, on enforced 'shore leave'. With the war happening, one relief was that the minutiae that crippled senior officer's tended to recede quite drastically, although 'shore leave' was still something he had to contend with. Even he had to take orders from the Grand Marshal. Whether someone had slipped the suggestion to the Grand Marshal, or IMEXCO were concerned for him he could never say, the Marshal and he had a frosty relationship, built partially on the fact that the Grand Marshal believed Dravius was conspiring against him, and partially based on the fact that he resented the younger man's popularity. Still, a Vice Marshal was required to follow orders of a Grand Marshal, and he was not insubordinate.
Naboo's lake country. The area was sparsely populated and the villa was owned by a farming family that had seen somewhat better days. Lucius of all people had found it with his eye for finding places that might prove useful. Still war was war, and so the arrangements were made through a complex web that by the time it was unraveled, the man himself would be safely back at the controls of a fighter that cloaked, docked in a capital ship that cloaked. The important thing was, it was safe, it was private and it was the perfect environment for relaxation.
A fire burned gently, the only noise in the large room the crackling of the wood. The lighting had been switched off and Dravius leaned back in the seat writing the letter onto the datapad. Dravius was in the library, which was full of datadisks that could keep a curious man occupied for a century.
His armour was in storage, and the mask he wore was hardly a replacement for the helmet of a stormtrooper, but his senses suddenly picked up a presence in the room, although it was friendly. He placed the datapad on the desk as a voice behind him spoke softly.
"You keep this up and i'll have to report you myself. You're supposed to be relaxing. Even you can relax"
She watched the datapad being placed on the desk and smiled.
"I thought I was quiet this time. Or do you really have eyes in the back of your head?"
"To answer your first question, I am taking some recreation time, and to answer your second, you were quiet. But you forget that I have been trained to fight without eyes, without ears, and without hands. A combat sense is a real thing, and without it...you die quickly. That's how I sensed you and that you were not a threat."
"Cute. What are you working on?"
"A letter. One that I did not want to write"
She came over and picked up the datapad
Code: Select all
Dear Mr and Mrs Xravida It is with sadness and a deep sense of regret that I write to inform you that your son Group Captain Fenzeon Xravida was killed in the line of duty. When he died, he was flying cover for troops in a mission that allowed us to win a crucial piece of territory in this war. Many lives were saved by his actions. No words of mine can hope to dull the pain, or fill the hole left by him. He was a fine soldier, and perhaps more importantly, a fine man. I am honoured to have served with him. Yours Sincerely, Vice Marshal Dravius Stari, Director of Flight Operations, Imperial Space Force
"That was beautiful. Did you know him well?"
"No. I met him twice, once at a general induction and once during a mission. Seemed solid. Hapes gave me a briefing on him."
"But....thats not honest"
"You're writing as if...you fought together...like you were brothers"
"We were. Soldiers are brothers. We're a brotherhood. A family. We breathe together, eat together fight, bleed and die together. He could have lived any other life, but he didnt. He chose to serve. That deserves to be honoured. His parents deserve closure with honour. I cant write all of these letters, not in peacetime, and definately not in war."
Dravius rose from the chair and walked to the window next to the fireplace and looked out at the starry night.
"I do what I can for the men that I lead. This is something small..so I will do it"
Mirandrax walked over to Dravius and stood behind him as he stared into the night and placed her chin on his left shoulder, close to his neck as her hands gently rested on his shoulder blades. He was silent, and the room was silent except for the crackling fire and the soft breathing of Mirandrax.
"You're a good man Dravius. Don't ever forget it"
He nodded slowly and spoke again, his voice dropping in volume, but still retaining its neutral tone.
"I will not. The letter made me think about myself. My own arrangements are less than stellar Mirandrax. If I died tomorrow in combat who would get my letter? McFini? The Supreme Commander?. Who knows how to look out for the clones? to feed and clothe them. To entertain them. To maintain the accounts, the base. I have no heirs, nobody to take over in case I die, which is more likely than you may think. My rank will not protect me in space. I am not invulnerable, nor am I immortal"
"Well I guess nobody is really immortal...are they?..
"No. Which I why I need an heir....and someone to manage my affairs in the event of my unexpected demise"
"You know your position as DFO isn't hereditary. If the worst happened, the ISF would pick a new DFO"
"Yes, thank you for that lesson. I am aware of this. You know I meant the clones. They still need better weapons, proper armour and we have to fill an armoury for them. Not to mention supplies, equipment, libraries, training facilities. There is so much to do."
"You should watch yourself. ISIS dont like threats to the Federation".
"This I know. I've sparred with Crystala, although it wasn't by choice. Besides, the only thing they're really doing is rennovating an old factory and working for the Director's sister. That's hardly a conflict of interest"
Mirandrax nodded and fell silent as Dravius broke gently from her grip and moved to a larger window, resting his hands on the sill.
"I have decided that until I have the heir I need...You will handle my responsibilities. If the heir is too young, you will act in this capacity until they are of age. Age is an elegant benchmark, but it surprisingly enough it works most of the time. Do you accept?"
As he turned to face her her eyes widened in surprise as she nodded.
"Yes...although I did not expect that you would ask this of me. You know I would of course do anything that I can to help you. Without you I would not even exist....and as for an heir...I can help you with that"
He shook his head slowly as he paused before continuing. Long conversations were never his strong suit, but he had them when they were required, much like a physical, or much worse a psychological assessment. Those were the bane of his existence.
"No. My heir must be produced through engineered means. It will be cleaner that way. You cannot provide the necessary material as my DNA is linked with yours. There would be...difficulties. Even though such a heir would not be produced naturally....and I know you would miss certain processes in regards to that, I cannot afford any errors. I have to build from the ground up with fresh genetic material..but I am grateful you offered"
Mirandrax's lips twisted into a mask of anger and her hand clenched into fists as her eyes narrowed slightly
"I'm not offering you a lift to your ballet recital Dravius. You know that I have a limited lifespan. I have what, 10, 15 years?. I am fertile, I am strong. I can give you the heir you need and you're worried about a few proteins. We're not siblings and you aren't my father. The levels of genetic similarity would place us as something along the lines of distant cousins at best. You should know, you engineered our DNA. How many other chances will I have to have a child?"
"There can be no margin for error. Not even one. Do you think this decision was easy to make? I am engineered. It is not an easy life. You would not want the problems it brings. I saw in you from the early days potential. Clones come out the same, but do not develop the same. You have showed more drive and determination than all of the soldiers we produced. You even gave yourself a full kit of emotions. I trust you. I know what it means to not ask you. Even if it wasnt a natural reproductive process. But I am what I am, and I am not perfect. I made the call. I am truly sorry I could not ask you. The other truth is you're too valuable to me to be a genetic sample."
The hands slowly unclenched from fists as her lips untwisted and her eyes opened as she nodded.
"Alright. If you had asked me..."
"I know. I spent a long time thinking about it, believe me."
She grinned and chuckled softly. "You don't make impulsive decisions. I know. Those are emotional ones"
He nodded and stepped closer to her, and within a second his hand gripped her throat. The grip was gentle, but firm, and she gasped in shock as his hands closed around it. Mirandrax was too stunned to do anything other than stare at him with wide open eyes.
"You are closer to me than any person in this galaxy. I permit you certain...allowances I would never make for another. But now you know things that could have me executed. If you betray me, I promise you that I will hunt you down and kill you. No matter what. You need to understand that. Do you understand?"
Mirandrax nodded and as quickly as it had gripped her neck, the hand whipped back. No marks were left on her neck, but she gingerly felt around her neck before staring at him.
"Sometimes I know why they hate you. You can be so damn cold. Its fine with the clones, and the men, and with the enemy, but with me?!"
"I know. I didn't mean to hurt you. But you know that if I have to do what needs to be done, I will"
She nodded and shot him a look full of vitriol as he moved closer. She stepped back out of instinct, but he was faster, and his hands pulled her closer to him. She nodded and rested her head gently on his shoulder and whispered softly.
"You can be so kind, and so cruel. There are times I wonder who you really are"
"We can find out together. After all, I just made a physical overture towards you. From what I understand, not being kicked in the face puts me in a very small minority of men in the Federation"
Mirandrax giggled as she removed herself from his arms and patted his shoulder gently.
"I'm glad you brought me here. You should meditate by the fire...and know that I am in the Amidala room, two doors down from you. I'll be waiting"
"I have the answer to the question you posed with me"
With a grin and a wink she exited the room and Dravius moved back to the chair. He sent the letter to Beatris to distribute and his eyes closed as he began to meditate.
...who are you Dravius Stari?....
It seemed one person knew the answer. Perhaps he should visit. It would after all, be the polite thing to do.