It was late. Later than Jeir should still be awake, at least…the lack of sleep that had become the norm for weeks now was being intruded upon, yet for all the wear and tear on his body and the heavy eyelids his mind raced through far too many thoughts to let him have such peace.
Not wanting to bring further attention to the growing assault force at the Citadel’s northern gates, Jeir had flown the transport farther south, well out of range of the Citadel’s sensors. They would stay there with the seals open for air and all systems off for the night, then meet back up with the assault group in the morning.
The ship was new, a Corellian Engineering Corporation VCX-820 fresh off the bays of StarForge station…Jeir had been taking his previous two YT-2400 transports there regularly for maintenance and customization since their original purchase. Chidee Na Maak–the Duros he went to for work–had squealed at the chance to get his hands on the brand new model, unlike the slew of aging ships that typically went through the infamous station’s bays. Somehow, six months had passed and he still hadn’t come up with a name for the ship.
Jeir adjusted his position in the pilot’s chair under the pale glow the moons above cast upon the planet. It felt strange to pilot a transport in the center of the ship now…he could only imagine what Mark must think of the new model in the VCX series, they had both been longtime fans of the YT series. The 2400 model, in particular.
That train of thought quickly led Jeir’s mind back to the cause of the racing thoughts and sleepless night…the Wyler family. Wyler Clan was actually his first thought, and he smiled silently to himself at that realization; Kal’or was infectious with his pride and boasting of Mandalorian culture.
At any rate, Les had called him earlier. Jeir had been so caught up in flying them out of the Citadel and talking with Kiiara about her recon that he hadn’t bothered to look who was calling him, he had just answered and been surprised by the voice on the other line. Not that he would have decided not to talk to Les Wyler…well, perhaps not right at that moment though he believed he would have tried calling him back. They hadn’t talked since Jeir had left Xenen almost a year ago, by Jeir’s choice, and he felt there was a lot to explain to his former pupil.
“Dad?” The soft voice came from the passageway behind him, and he smiled to himself. Kiiara’s presence was often very soothing to him, the bond they shared through the Force being unlike anything he had known before. How could the old Jedi Order have not allowed such a connection to be made?
“Come on in, sweety,” he said. It had surprised him how quickly he took to being a parental figure.
Kiiara padded barefoot into the cockpit, sliding into the co-pilot’s chair to the right of him and bringing her legs up against her chest. Her pale skin glowed in the light, almost as if it were luminescent. She had left her leather headdress off after washing up, her tuft of black hair running down the side of her face and accentuating the already beautiful curve it had. He wished he could say she reminded him of her mother, Sienn, or something romantic like that but the truth was he remember little to nothing of the woman.
The last time he heard her voice had been a private message left for him at his mountain castle on Xenen, something about urgently needing to meet with him on Ryloth. He had been training Les then, who was close to completing his training, and it took him nearly a day before he even realized who it had been. She had called herself Sienn, which meant maiden, and was perhaps the most common name a Twi’lek female could have. While Jeir had never been much of a lady’s man, he had met more than a few women named Sienn.
His mind had snapped together the next morning, though, and realized who it was. When he had first joined the New Republic’s Commando Division, one of his first missions had been breaking a slaving ring in the Outer Rim. After the final mission which freed a ridiculously large group of Twi’lek slaves, there had been a huge party and one thing led to another between he and Sienn. It had been seventeen years since he had seen her, and though that allowed him a day’s worth of trying to remember he still felt the bitter sting of guilt.
Having already delayed an urgent request a little more than a day already, he rushed the Knighting ceremony he had planned for Les early and fled Xenen. He felt bad for that…Janet, Mark and Asya had been in transit to come see their son be promoted to Jedi Knight and he had taken that away from them. Everything had been so serious back then, so black and white to him…light side & dark side, honor & betrayal.
When he got to Ryloth, he discovered that the message had not been sent from the leisure of Sienn’s home, but as a distress call. Anger took Jinx Katarn over that day, and though he tried his best to recall the events of that day even now to atone for his mistakes he couldn’t explain what had happened. He killed a lot of people, he knew that much.
And when he found Sienn, he found her on her deathbed. There was no telling what had been done to her…drugs, spice, abuse, they all seemed to play into it. There were a lot of tears on both sides as she explained the strange looking Twi’lek girl beside them, Kiiara, was their daughter. Oh, how sorry she was she hadn’t told him. No, she couldn’t bring herself to before and yes, she had tried several times to find him in the last few years. Kiiara had actually been the one to send the message to him–her voice was definitely her mothers, he could say that much–and as she passed on to become one with the Force he carried his daughter’s fragile body into the daylight for her first time in years.
A year later, here they were…father and daughter, sitting in the cockpit of his new ship under the stars. She was just as strong in the Force as he was, if not more so. He found her to be the most beautiful girl he had ever seen, her unique appearance exotic and wonderful all at once. It was hard for him to comprehend how anyone could not look at her with admiration, though he supposed that was the paternal instinct talking for him. She had lived a horrible life growing up, and his only goal for the rest of his own life was to give her the life she deserved. Fighting and killing in a war may sound far from perfect to many, though he knew now that no one would ever make her their slave again.
Jeir snapped from his thoughts, blinking several times before looking to her again and smiling. “Sorry, lost myself there.”
She smiled at him, that shy and sweet smile that she only allowed him to see away from the world. “I miss her, too,” she said.
There was something to be said for that Force bond and the second conversation it almost held between them. “Do you remember me telling you about Xenen?” Kiiara nodded, glancing at the lifeless control board. “I had a call come in earlier, from Les Wyler.”
“Your former Padawan, right?” She asked. Her voice was quiet and soothing, almost singing from her chest unlike either a human or Twi’lek’s voice.
“Yes,” he continued. “It would seem a lot has happened in the last year. It’s…left me thinking, about a lot of things.”
“I would be okay with going there,” she said before he had a chance to further explain himself. “I’ve always wanted to live in a big castle anyway.”
“Heh heh,” Jeir chuckled. “Well, it’s kind of dark and gloomy,” he admitted. “Probably pretty dirty too, I doubt I left any maintenance droids behind to clean up.”
“Do you think Kal’or would come with us?” She asked. Jeir knew she had bonded closely with the man, in a lot of ways he had become a bit of a father figure to himself an the grandfather for her. What a strange family they made!
“Care to answer her, Kal’buir?” Jeir asked, directing his voice over his shoulder.
“Fierfek,” a gravely voice called from behind them. “How’s an old man supposed to eavesdrop when he’s around a couple Jedi all the time?”
Kiiara grinned, winking at Jeir to let him know she had sensed his presence as well. “Well, how about it, Ba’buir?”
Kal’or grunted, coming up to the cockpit a ways but not fully. Jeir could sense he felt a little awkward, likely from what he saw as an intrusion in a private conversation. “Depends, what would we be killing there?”
“That,” Jeir said carefully, his mood suddenly shifting, “is actually the scary part. It would see there’s a war that has begun, raging across the galaxy in just the last couple of months.”
“What?” Kal’or said, coming into the cockpit the rest of the way. “Between the Remnant and the Republic?”
“No, something else. They call themselves the Yuuzhan Vong…”