I sat with the data pad on my lap staring out of the window, the great nothingness of space, when I was very small I used to look up at it and wonder what it was like to be amongst all those twinkly stars, but when I got out here I discovered that it was nothing like those dreams. All those stars that twinkle so beautifully are just pin pricks of light and the darkness outside is deadly and cold. I had stayed in my quarters, since I had awoken, wanting to be alone. Too much to think about and I also had work to do, but it was the least interesting thing on my mind. I had skimmed through the old journal my father had given me but could find nothing to ease my troubled thoughts. All I knew was in conflict and who ever had written the journal felt the same as I.
The Force is like a sword. It has two faces. It can be used with finesse and skill, and will slice cleanly, elegantly through all. Or it can be used without skill; a simple crude tool that hacks it’s way blindly through everything it meets. The weapon is merely a tool; it is the user who defines the use. To use the Force with finesse, takes years of dutiful practice and calm meditation.
I hate this. I hate the work, the dullness of it all. Dutiful meditation, pah! I cannot bear this day that drags out before me like a wounded Bantha.
How can my mistress speak of such drivel? Does she not know how much easier it is to tap in to the energy I get from being angry? Yesterday, I was in tune with the Force as I never have been before. I reached deep within myself, thought of my father and what he was, what he had done and allowed that anger to flow through me. It was sweet, a sweetness unlike anything I have ever known. I will master the Force it shall not master me.
I stared out into the darkness. Had Lord Vader been right? Had Jyrki really been a Jedi? I knew there was truth in Lord Vader’s words, I had seen it, I could almost always tell when someone was lying to me and Lord Vader had not lied. In fact, he was one of the few people in my life that had ,so far, never lied to me. He spoke the truth as he saw it, in some strange way that had comforted me. I wondered, not for the first time, where Jyrki had gone and if he was still alive. I was certain he was, certain that the tenuous thread which had connected us would have some how alerted me if he were no longer alive. I wondered if he ever thought about me.
I closed my eyes just for a moment, I wanted to connect with the Force, I wanted to connect with Lord Vader but quite suddenly I hit with a terrible, gut-wrenching sensation. A feeling of a great and sudden terror and dreadful pain and as quickly as the sensation had hit me so it suddenly vanished, leaving me breathless. I had no idea what had just happened but what ever it was, it had been swift and terrible. I tried to catch my breath, to relax enough to stretch out with the Force but I could feel nothing more, almost as if where once, something vibrant had been, was now a great void. A few moments later the alarm claxons in the ship went off, scaring the wits out of me.
“Buggery sand-rats!” I yelled at no one in particular.
I decided to see what Jorae was up to, maybe he could shed some light on what all the noise and fuss was about.
Jorae worked in the Communications Center and it was busy as all hell when I went in. He looked up from his consol when I tapped him on the shoulder. Since, I had clearance now, no one bothered about me being here, no one was willing to argue about it or take it up with Lord Vader. I guess it beat sneaking about the ship, but it took some of the fun out of it.
“What’s the hell is going on?” I asked, when he took off his headset and looked up at me.
“Something really big just came across the boards, the Core News Feeds all went mad a couple of minutes ago, something about a planet being destroyed.” He said.
“A planet?” I asked, suddenly my legs were shaky. “A whole planet?”
“Whoa!!” Jorae grabbed me a chair and I sat down. “You’re as white as a ghost, are you okay?” he asked.
I nodded. I didn’t think that telling him I had felt the destruction of that planet as though I had been hit in the stomach would do much good. Jorae had said on more than one occasion that he didn’t believe in the Force and no amount of Vader’s weird power was going to convince him otherwise. I guessed that he had never seen Lord Vader in action. Jorae had shaken his head and said that so far he had managed to stay under the Vader radar. I had giggled at the joke. Jorae thought that he was very funny, and, sometimes he was. Lord Vader , on the other hand, was anything but.
“So, what do the news feeds say?” I asked.
He shrugged. “Not a lot, there is nothing specific, no details, just that all major shipping lanes are all closed and everything is being rerouted due to space rubble.”
“Do they say what planet?”
“Alderaan.” He said. “The shock wave warnings are so many that we can’t keep up with it.”
“A whole planet gone. “ I said in a whisper. “How could such a thing happen?”
Jorae frowned. "It's very confused. No one knows.”
I sat back in my chair and fought to remain calm, it made no sense to me and I felt a deep wave of sorrow for all those people who were so suddenly killed. I got up to leave, Jorae looked at me, worried.
“I'm fine, go back to work.” I said. And Just then someone yelled “Hang on to something!”
The shockwave from the destruction of Alderaan hit the ship, rocking it like a tiny speeder in a sand storm. I was flung backwards and landed on the floor, others hung on to their consoles for dear life. The ship bucked once and rocked for only a few moments more and then stabilized out. Everyone went back to business and I got up off the floor. Jorae gave me an ‘are you alright look?’ and I nodded, I’d been half strangled by Lord Vader, landing on the floor with my butt wasn’t anything I should worry about. Jorae was polite though, he never asked about the bruises.
I left the Communications center and wandered aimlessly. I could not begin to fathom that someone or something had obliterated an entire planet full of living, breathing beings. I could not imagine how I would even begin to feel if that had been my home world. Everything I had even known and loved suddenly gone in the blink of an eye. It was unimaginable and terrifying to think about.
Without thinking about where I was going I made my way through the ship and ended up making a wrong turn somehow. I found myself in a small place near the bow of the ship, a place were everything was silent. There was a view port and nothing else. I didn’t know what use this space was and much less cared. It was peaceful and empty so I stood looking out of the view port and thought about home. Some time later when I made it back to my quarters there was a package waiting for me. Even in the midst of disaster the mail somehow managed to make it through. I expected that it was from my family but it was not. My fingers trembled as I read the letter that accompanied the small parcel.
My Dear, Miss Gabriel,
I trust that this letter will find you well and enjoying your work, with Lord Vader aboard the ISD Devastator. I wished to tell you how much I enjoyed our chance meeting on Coruscant and once again, to apologize for my rude behavior. It is not in my nature to act so rashly. I hope that you will not hold it against me the next time we should happen to meet.
A recent visit to a rather interesting planet brought you to mind. I found, quite by chance, a set of antique Zenjji Hair sticks, similar to the ones you had in your hair the night we met, and could not resist the desire to give them to you as a gift. I hope that they will bring you as much pleasure as I had while being with you.
I remain, respectfully yours,
I sat down on the edge of the chair and gingerly opened the slender box so beautifully wrapped in a silk so fine it was almost non existent. Inside, lying on a velvet so red it almost glowed were two of the most exquisite Zenjji hair sticks I had ever seen. That he had likened them to the ones I had worn in my hair that night on the balcony was almost a joke. The Zenjji hair sticks I had were plain and simple.
A gift from one of my father’s pilots, a woman who had come from Ruusan, called Bedi Nuale. She had fascinated me with her incredibly long, curly hair which she always put up with hair sticks. I was very young at the time. It was she who taught me my first serious piloting skills and it was she who had taught me the subtle skill of using Zenjji hair sticks to hold up one's hair. Not as easy it looked but she was a patient teacher and I was a willing pupil. Before she left for another job on some other planet, saying Tatooine was just too hot for her, she gave one of her sets of Zenjji sticks. They were, slender, plain, carved from the bones of some long dead animal and much used. I loved them.
The Zenjji sticks that Thrawn had found were truly antique and extraordinarily beautiful. Made from a silvery metal that almost appeared to have its own light, the slender sticks had been ornately carved and were finished at the top with a large, faceted bead made from a polished milky white stone. When I played with the sticks, so the light played with the stones, it revealed a fiery blue- green core that danced like fire within the heart of the beads. I gasped, I knew exactly what this was, and it was as incredibly rare as it was incredibly precious, milky ma’arilite, a stone so scarce it was fabled to have magical qualities. There were many legends and stories told about it.
I shuddered to even think what these hair sticks must have cost. I set them back in their beautiful box and sighed. I re-read his letter and didn’t know what to think, I didn’t even know how to reply to it. Somehow a simple thank-you did not seem enough for such a precious gift. I got up and went back to staring out of the view port, lost in troubled thoughts. Today, it seemed, nothing would bring me peace, not even such a beautiful gift from a man I barely knew.