“If I may say so, sir. You’ve had quite an impressive career. You’re the commander of the most elite squad in the Republic. You must be quite proud.”
Ash blinked with a bit of confusion, trying not to frown. She wasn’t certain if proud was the word, it felt odd to be considered so highly by a group she felt so conflicted towards. Internally wincing she opted for passive agreement rather than airing her muddled feelings on the matter, “it’s certainly an honour.”
Elara almost seemed to smile, “I remember when I first enlisted and qualified for medical specialization. My brother Aleksei completed his technical specialization on the same day.”
Ash only raised a brow out of interest but didn’t interrupt, she felt disconnected whenever family was brought up in conversations. During her service before Havoc Squad she would avoid socializing with her fellow soldiers, unable to talk to them about anything relevant besides the mission. She couldn’t have told them about the family she had to go back to, there wasn’t one, which would have been a lot simpler if it was just a case of a dead family.
“-my brother advanced quickly, but I became disillusioned as time went on.”
Ash mentally berated herself for getting distracted, frowning in what she hoped would appear as concern, “why did you become disillusioned?” she was honestly curious. The only reason she signed up with the Republic military was because she ran into them before the Empire, though she wasn’t about to bombard Elara with questions.
A displeased look crossed Elara’s features, “the Imperial military was supposed to stand for honour and discipline. But my superiors discarded those concepts any time a Sith asked it.”
Now that was a major difference Ash was aware of, how Sith and Jedi involved themselves with their respective factions. She did question the place of force users in military matters but if they could be competent enough she wouldn’t voice a concern.
Elara continued, “I’d always been taught that the Jedi and the Republic were ‘genocidal hypocrites.’ But the only brutalities I witnessed were committed by my own comrades.”
Ash tried to hide her confusion, among her old unit she was the more violent of them, the most willing to kill and the first to suggest aggressive actions. Luckily she followed orders even if she disagreed with them. Disobeying commands and acting out of turn among her old tribe was a quick way to earn death. But now she was in control and the one giving commands, she could do things her own way - within Garza’s reason - and that way was usually a violent one. She did wonder if Elara was subtlety pointing out her behaviour but brushed it aside, “did you try to change things or did you defect right away?”
Elara seemed to sigh a little, “I raised my concerns with my superiors but they only questioned my resolve. Soon I would’ve been forced to prove my loyalty by carrying out orders directly against my conscience. I chose to defect instead.”
Ash crossed her arms, Elara definitely fit into to the Republic better than she did. “Seems you made the right choice.”
Elara nodded, “once I made the decision I slipped away during my squad’s next night patrol. I was gone before anyone realized it. I surrendered to the first Republic patrol I came across and declared my intention to defect. That was over three years ago. It’s strange to realize how long it’s been. The Republic truly feels like my home now.”
Ash hunched her shoulders and tried to ignore the tight coil in her gut, “glad you found one.”