Well most them where saved, some... well we need something for the sequel don´t we? Thanks for you comments both of you. Epilogue ...and thus I regretfully have to inform you that your daughter fell in service of her people and her nation. Bravely fighting to protect the lives of the innocent, true to her duty to her last breath. In recommendation of her actions she has been awarded with the Eriaduan Star for Bravery as well as the Imperial Silver Medal of Valor, a gesture of respect from those she gave her life fighting for. Both of these medals, will be returned to you, alongside her body, so she might find eternal rest on her beloved homeworld. She will live on eternally in our memory and the chronicles of the ORSF. May the goddess bless her soul and grant a place of honor at her side in the next world. Gratefully to her sacrifice, into eternally, Ulrika Grau Ulrika let out a sigh as she finished the letter, the eleventh and final one. This was amongst the worst parts of her duty as an officer, informing families that their daughter, sister, their child had died. She glanced briefly about the two medals that would go with the body. Cassandra Torin had organized the Imperial Silver Medals as a gesture of thankfulness for the aid the ORSF had provided to her world, and Ulrika was grateful for it. Both where huge decorations every soldiers would be proud of, but in her heart Ulrika knew that every family would prefer their daughter over these pieces of metal. She felt how guilt threatened to overcome her again, but she fought it down with all strength of her mind. If you start blaming yourself for losses in your squad... you will fall into a hole with no hope of ever coming back. She knew that for this some of her fellow officers didn't even bother to write letters to the fallen soldiers parents but instead just put their names into a prepared one. But Ulrika felt that expressing her gratitude to the lost soldiers families was the least she could do. They had returned to Eriadu not too long after the battle, left it largely to Laric and his soldiers to hunt down the remaining pirates on their world, who now without leadership or orbital support where easy prey for the experienced captain. Ulrika looked over at the other side of her desk, there seven more dossiers where waiting. Seven more letters to families to inform them of their child's fate, but it didn't felt right to her. They might be still alive. How can we declare them dead without knowing. Shortly after her return Ulrika had briefly entertained the hope of freeing her squad mates via a ransom. But now the war was declared, the Iron Alliance wouldn't negotiate anymore. Their seven captives had largely lost their value as hostages which left their fate in questionable hands. For a moment Ulrika was once more transported back to the Night Club, the worst week of her life. Now the fate of seven of her soldiers... She felt how despair threatened to overcome her and thus felt glad when someone rang the doorbell of her office. Letting them in Ulrika expected an officer to give another report to, but not... "Ilona?" she asked as she saw her rival approach her desk. As she had left the military behind she didn't wear an ORSF uniform anymore but instead a simple dark tunic and pants. Her pitch black hair a little bit longer than it had been during the last few decades. Things between them had changed in that night Ulrika had saved Ilona from being handed over to the Iron Alliance, but how much was still unclear as they didn't have much time to talk since. So Ulrika decided to keep her guard up for now. "Ulrika," Ilona said, her voice softer than usual when they spoke with each other. "My condolences to your losses." The colonel gave her a brief nod, "thanks. I appreciate that. They were good girls." "It's hard to have to replace eleven soldiers after a single battle, I know that from experience," Ilona added. "Twelve," Ulrika said, lowering her head. On their way back to Eriadu Dannika, their young medic had requested to speak to her and it had become clear that the horrors of the battle had shaken the young woman. "Dannika is going back to the hospital here on Eriadu. She has decided that the soldier live just isn't made for her." She had understood Dannika's decision and thus granted her the leave from her squadron. Sad to lose her, but also glad at least she would be in a safe place now. "Might have been the wisest decision," Ilona said and Ulrika nodded in agreement. Together with Elena Ulrika had already found replacements for the lost soldiers, but for now her second in command was still trying to get a new medic assigned to them. "How did your diplomatic mission go?" Ulrika asked Ilona after a moment of silence. Now it was for Ilona to lower her head, "not well. The Kathol Republic is under a military government these days, little wonder after having been left alone against the Iron Alliance for so long. They mistrust strangers, and Eriaduans even more so." She made a brief pause. "We've exchanged a lot of pleasantries and made promises but in truth achieved little of value." Another pause, "Aretha suspects that they might become interested in helping in this venture, but not yet. We need to score a big victory, show them, and the rest of the galaxy that the ORSF can take on the Iron Alliance." That made sense, but Ulrika was still a bit disappointed that help wouldn't be coming. "I heard some of your squad mates got captured," Ilona then said and her tone made it clear that this was the true reason for her visit. Ulrika looked up to her, but said nothing. Ilona took a deep breath, "you saved me from that same fate. Becoming a slave to the Iron Alliance. Therefore I will do everything in my power to help you rescue your squad." For a moment Ulrika sat there in silence, she had expected condolences for the loss of her girls, but this... this was more than she had expected. Ilona Malek was offering to help her? Maybe she had misheard, but no, in her heart she knew that this offer was genuine. And so she allowed herself to let her guard down. "Thank you Ilona," she said, softly. "This means a lot to me." They had been rivals for so long, it seemed almost surreal, but as much as she had despised Ilona during these years, she also knew the head of the Malek Family was smart, brave and skilled. With her help, maybe there truly was a glimmer of hope. "It's the least I can do for you, after what you did for me," Ilona said firmly. "Besides, I think it's time for us to stop fighting. Not while there are true foes against to crusade." Ulrika took a deep breath, remembered how Adrian and Daron had said similar things. "True," she stood up and gestured Ilona to follow her over to the couch in one of the corners of the room. The two woman sat down next to each other, then Ulrika took the jump, "I'm sorry Ilona, for how I acted that day in the summer camp. I should have stayed with Tobin, or at least stood up for what I did. Not have acted all confidently as if I didn't care. You and Kat were in the right." Ilona looked at her, with a softer glance than she had ever since that night, "I didn't act completely right either. I acted as if you had gorged Tobin's eye out on purpose, instead of seeing it as an accident. Took me many years to accept it had just been that." Ulrika laid a hand on her shoulder, "given how I acted, I can't really blame you for thinking that. Goddess, I was such a spoiled brat back then. I hated you for so long... now it only makes me sad, sad to realize that I could have had a good friend." "Me too," Ilona said. "But who knows, maybe in some ways it was a good thing. Maybe this rivalry brought up the best in each of us. That´s at least what my dad thinks, was similar with him and mom, even if their rivalry was a more friendly one than ours." Ulrika thought about this for a moment, than she nodded slowly, "maybe. I always pushed myself to surpass you at everything. Loosing you and Kat that night, if nothing else it taught me to be more thoughtful of my actions. Who knows, if you hadn't called me out I might now sit in some prison after a giant careless screw up." Ilona's face turned red, "matter of fact, I recently discussed how our lives might have turned out how our lives could have turned out if I hadn't punched you that night..." with her face turning redder and redder she told Ulrika the story she had told Adalia. Ulrika allowed herself a chuckle after Ilona was finished. "Who knows, maybe it would have happened, but it's hard for me to imagine you as being that spineless." Ilona returned the smile, "or for you to be that callous. You can be quite reckless at times, you have a foul tongue and mind. You can make me angrier than anyone else, but in the end your heart is in the right place Ulrika, and I know you will do the right thing when it comes down to it." Ulrika gave her a warm look, "not getting too schmaltzy here aren't you?" But then she added. "And you can be the queen of girl scouts, a unbearably straight laced little know it all. But you are a good woman Ilona. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise." "Honestly, just finally do it, give us the kiss the galaxy has been waiting for," Elena's voice called over to them. The Lieutenant was leaning against the wall of the office and looked over to them. Ilona raised an eyebrow, "how long have you been standing there?" "Long enough for the best bits," Elena replied. Ilona knew of Elena's attraction to Ulrika, and thus decided to play her game to tease her rival a bit. "Well then, darling." She leaned over to Ulrika. Ulrika gave her a grin, then quickly leaned forward and gave Ilona a brief kiss on the lips. As she moved back she made gave an expression of disgust, as she said, "what a disappointment. As if I was kissing my mother." She gave Elena a twinkle. Only then did she saw the datapad in her hand, and the picture she had just taken on it. "And there is my new background," Elena said, mockingly. "If you don't want me to send this all over the holonet you two will have to do everything I say for the rest of your lives." The three women shared a laugh together, before Ilona's voice became serious again. "Now that, that's finally settled there is still something for you to do Ulrika." The blonde woman nodded slowly, she already knew that Ilona meant. She had now apologized to both her and Tobin. It was time to finally put that night to rest. "I need to talk to Kat, I know. I treated her just as poorly as you." Ilona gave her a small smile, "indeed. And it so happens that she might be able to help us." "She can?" Ulrika said, rising her head. "She has used her time on Curean well," Ilona explained, "made a few new contacts that could prove useful in finding your missing squad mates. Besides she also has someone in her dungeon who might have further information as well." "That pirate woman yeah," Ulrika agreed. "If this helps us recover our soldiers and maybe even gain more information on our enemy, I'm sure high command will allow me and my squad to follow these leads." "I'm sure they will," Ilona said. "Which only leaves one question, how fast can you get moving again?" Ulrika looked up to Elena, "please tell me that you have found a medic for us." The grin returned to Elena's face, "I have, and she's amazing."