It seems to me that time passes by slowly when you wait for something, especially if you are looking forward to it but if you are sort dreading something, then time has a way of sneaking up on you. Before I had even had time to digest the news that I was, yes, quite violently allergic to glow-spice, and now had to be very careful about ever ingesting it again, that the books Thrawn had sent were not just good, but very good, so much so that I was annoyed when I had to stop reading them to go to work and that the droid designer who had annoyed Lord Vader’s obituary was on page three of the daily news-mag, the day of the grand ball was upon us.
I spent a half day in the office. Lord Vader was not around, I suppose he had his own thing to do to get ready, I hadn’t asked, there are just some details I did not want to know. I had been sent a comm from him telling me to be ready at 19:00 CST, and wait for the escort. It was vague, but what else was new? I had gotten my work done then left. It is a five day work week on Coruscant for the most part but weekends were something that meant little to Lord Vader so my schedule was not anything reliable, not that I minded. On Tatooine it had also not been a reliable routine after all, it wasn’t as if ships broke down on schedule. I didn’t mind much. The hours I worked were flexible depending on what was going on and since I was more or less on call twenty four hours a day, days off were pretty much non existent. I tended to shift my work times around, depending on when Lord Vader was actually around and what needed to be done.
I went home and decided to soak in the bath for a while. It was a luxury I just could not quite get used to. I come from a world that is covered in sand. It almost never rains. In my life time I don’t ever remember rain at all, but I have heard tales of it happening. The water I used for my bath could have made my father rich. Water was money on Tatooine and a bath full was a lot wealth to be wallowing in.
I remember the first time I had ever seen rain. I was off world on Corellia, with one of the delivery shuttles. It had been a good chance to get off planet and see something new and since my father was the pilot at the time no one said anything about him bringing his little girl along.
We landed in one of the smaller outposts on the planet, in one of the forest zones. Corellia was as far removed from Tatooine as I had ever seen, lush and green, as well as a little chilly with only a single sun. The air was filled with scents I had never experienced before, grass, leaves, and flowers, sweet, heady and intoxicating. It was also full of moisture. Humidity my father had called it. It was luxurious and I ran around the area while they unloaded the delivery like a mad thing. They had just finished the unloading when a sudden squall sprung up. A thunder-head coming in on the afternoon heat, normal for the area the landing pad manager had told me.
He had said. “Better get back on board little lady, it’s gonna rain.”I can still see the look on his face when I asked him “What is rain?”
I was quite young and I had never seen rain before, at least not that I could remember.A few moments later I learnt what rain was. I gloried in it, the lightening and thunder didn’t scare me it was awe inspiring. In the desert sometimes when conditions are right you get dry lightening even some thunder if you are close enough to hear it, but never like this. I danced around like a wind devil getting soaked. I wanted to catch all the rain I could and take it home because it tasted so sweet but my father told me that was not allowed, there might be organisms in the rain that would damage the eco system on Tatooine, all incoming water had to be certified. Within the space of twenty minutes it was all over, the storm had moved on and the rain had stopped leaving everything wet and shiny in its wake. I had splashed around in the puddles. Shaken all the branches and plants that were near to me just to watch the water sparkle in the sunlight that had broken through the clouds. The air felt thick and heavy. I was almost drunk on it and cried when it was time to leave. I suppose it was then and there I decided that I would learn to pilot so that I could visit worlds that had rain any time I wanted. I had refused to change my clothes and sat soaking wet all the way home. It was the first time I was sad to come home. The heat assaulted us when we disembarked. Dry, and hot with almost no scent in the air to speak of except fuel and the standard city smell, people animals and something indefinable.
Now, I could lie in a bath full of water and even pollute it with scented oils and bubbles if I wished. No matter how much I told myself that, here on Coruscant it was normal and feeling guilty about it didn’t do anyone least of all me, any good I still maintained a sense of absolute wonder that I could fill a bath tub with the stuff.
I had some time before I needed to be ready so it was nice to relax and lie up to my neck in scented bubbles. I let my mind drift and allowed my sense to roam free. I closed my eyes and just breathed. The Doctor at the med center had given me something for the allergy and the headaches had mostly gone. He had explained that the chemical that makes the spice glow is actually a toxin and some people were just allergic to it, rare but happened. They had seen more cases in the last year because the spice was being used more and more as an additive in drinks, to make them all sparkly. I felt a little justified that, in general, my own taste in drinks ran to the plain and simple. He had also given me the heads up that if I was attending the Grand ball I might want to ask what was in the drinks first as glow-spice was high on the ingredients list this year. Just my luck, I had thought.
The thing about letting your thoughts drift is that if you are Force sensitive you get images of things sometimes, or feelings about people that are somehow connected to the force as well. I wasn’t searching for anyone or even trying to practice technique. I was just drifting. I could sense many beings. Nothing concrete just the sense that they were there, all drawn to one source though. It was like a deep dark hole and it radiated power. I stayed as far away from that point as I could.
I had often wondered if Thrawn was head blind to the Force, I never got the feeling from him that he was in any way sensitive to it, but I knew he would not easily be mind pushed, his will was too strong for that. It never stopped me from trying to find him though. Instead, as usual, I connected with Lord Vader.
I did not manage this level of relaxation all that often but each time I had tried I had somehow managed to find him. I could no longer stop that. Just a brief brush and I knew who it was. While his thoughts were closed, like a locked vault, to me, there was some sort of connection forged. It had been there almost from the beginning and I had no idea how to break it or even if I wanted to.
The first time this had happened he had been furious, aboard the Devastator and he had broken the connection so severely it had hurt. But I had tried it many times since then, each to varying degrees of success. It was like flame to a moth. I could not stay away. I suppose in some way it was a perverse game of telepathic tag. I needed to know I could still do it. Each time he had shut me out and severed the tie brutally, but this time he allowed me to linger. He, too, in his own way was meditating and because he did not shove me away or slam down the connection I did not push. For now, it was enough for me that he had accepted my presence. Not for the last time would I wonder about these tenuous threads that bound us all together.
It was as Jyrki had said, all was connected. But he had not told me that sometimes it was possible to bind yourself to someone so tightly that it became almost impossible to break the tie. I felt the Force around me and it had rippled when I had thought about Jyrki. Lord Vader’s touch on my mind became a question but I had no answers. Physically, I shook my head, thoughts suddenly unclear and chaotic, images of my own past mingling with things I had never done came crashing down upon me. It was painful and I could not stop it. I felt Lord Vader react and he broke the connection with a jolt. But before it had been completely severed, I could almost have sworn I heard him telling me not to be late.
With a sigh, I let go and opened my eyes. In spite of him saying that he had wished to take on a student, there had been no time for any lessons. I suppose that, given the circumstances, it was normal and to be expected, but I was a little hurt by it. I wanted to know more and learn more. Become stronger with the weirding ways I had lived with my whole life and he was the only connection I had to that. It never occurred to me that perhaps he was protecting me in some way or perhaps protecting himself.
I got out of the bath, the water now tepid, the bubbles pretty much gone and wrapped myself in a towel. I made my self tea, put on a dressing gown and sat down to read a little bit. I had a little bit of time before I needed to get ready and the best way how to get away from all the thoughts and memories that chased me was to read.
I hoped that Thrawn would be at the ball so that I could at least thank him in person for the books. I was not looking forward to the evening and the task of turning myself from ‘Rim-Girl’ as Shiv liked to call me, to retro Nubian lady look-a-like, well…I wasn’t even sure that was possible but I had a few hours to work on it. .