Title: Community Timeframe: 22 BBY, just before Clone Wars Genre: Suspense Canonicity: Canon Compliant Type: Story Characters: Jeskal Dilan (20 yr old Mirialan female), other OCs, 2 Canon cameos. Summary: A year after a wild weekend that ended in tragedy, Jess’ life is slowly settling into the future that’s been all planned out for her. But she isn’t so sure of the plan any more. Last updated: 06/26/2020 Status: In-progress Other relevant information: Itanno Clan Series tangent. Download Links: Coming Soon Casting: In my mind, Jess is played by Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani, in a coat of green body paint. Spoiler ————— “Jess, can you hear me? Can you squeeze my hand again?” A hand strokes her cheek. She responds as strongly as she can to the request. “You! Get your filthy hands off my daughter!” The hand vanishes from her cheek, the hand holding her own hand starts to pull away. She squeezes it tightly, tries to keep him from letting go. “I said get away from her, alien! Why is she so uncovered? What have you done to her?” Her father's angry voice fills the room. “I- I don't know what you're talking about.” Danyal's voice sounds confused at the angry accusation. “Enticed by your sinful music, making her sneak away from us and dress herself so immodestly.” Father rants, again. “I recognize you from the vids I caught her watching, seducing her with your songs...” It's not the musician’s fault, it was her own decision to sneak away. She tries to force herself further awake, but her body is coming out of the coma too slowly. “Frankly, sir, she was the one who started it, coming on to me.” He doesn't mean to blame her like that, he is just trying to defend himself. “Did you touch her? Did you defile my daughter?!” They're screaming at each other across her hospital bed now. She wants desperately to sit up between them and explain. “You know what? I don't even remember, we were too DRUNK or maybe HIGH!” She remembers. He was so gentle, so kind, so passionate. His velvet-furred body so soft under her hands, his mouth so warm against her skin, his caresses so exciting. She had never wanted it to end. But they had been partying non-stop for almost 28 standard hours. They had fallen asleep almost immediately after their passion had run its course. The injuries to her body in the accident had been relatively minor. The doctor had later told her that sweet, kind Danyal had wrapped himself around her in the final seconds before the crash, shielding her with his own body; but it had not prevented Jess from receiving a serious blow to the head that put her in a coma for two standard months. The Ryn himself had suffered serious injuries in the speeder crash that had killed his band mates. He had healed quickly enough, though, that by the time Jess had fully woken (the day after Danyal's argument with her father) the musician was gone. The doctor had secretly slipped her a data chip the next day, saying it was from Danyal, and relayed that the musician was sorry to leave her without saying goodbye, but he did not want to cause further problems with Jess’ family. The chip had had the name and address of a bank on Ixtlar printed on it. The doctor said it looked like the key to a safe-deposit box. Jess now kept the chip on a cord around her neck, disguised among the idendicards and data chips for her classes at university. There had been much debate between her parents about whether Jess would be allowed to continue her classes. Father was determined to keep her on a tight leash to prevent her from “straying” again. But Mother had convinced him that wasting the money the Community had invested to send her to university would be the bigger sin. Far bigger than a weekend of youthful intemperance that she was doing penance for already. So, Father had allowed her to go back to school. But not until after a thorough (and thoroughly demeaning) inspection by the Community healer. Checking to be sure she had not contracted any diseases or somehow gotten pregnant. That was was ridiculous, really. Very few beings in the Galaxy were genetically compatible cross-species - except maybe humans, they seemed to be able to get into everything. For all of Father and the other Community Elders’ obsessions with racial purity, Mirialans were widely considered by the academics of the Galaxy to be an ancient human hybrid of some sort already. Jess dared not bring up that 'theory’ with anyone in the Community, though. The worry about diseases could have been valid, though, had Jeskal not already been in the care of doctors for the previous two months. They would have already found and treated anything she might have “picked up” from the Ryn. In the end, the young Mirialan woman was declared physically, though not yet morally, clean. So long as she continued to return to the Community Elders each week to follow up on her penance, she would be allowed to return to the university to continue her studies. Jeskal was studying Politics and Galactic Relations. The Community's goal was to have a member of their faith as a representative in the Wukkarian parliament, with the hope that she might someday represent all of Wukkar in the Galactic Senate. It wasn't what Jeskal would have chosen for herself, but it was what the Community Elders had decided she was destined to do. At least she was allowed to choose her electives. So, between courses on Galactic Trade Relations and Comparative Cultural Dynamics, Jess was studying music composition and performance. She had settled on a stringed instrument known by most of the Galaxy as a quetarra. Regional and cultural groups throughout the Galaxy had their own names for similar instruments, of course. Danyal had said his people called their version a guitar. Jess’ roommate Sorche had introduced her to the band Wachamio! a year and a half ago. Jess had immediately been struck by the lead quetarra player's skill, and was drawn in even more when she learned he wrote many of the band's songs (including all of her favorites). When she had found out they'd be performing on Ixtlar, a short hyperspace jump away from Wukkar, she had quickly formed a plan and sneaked away for a weekend of freedom and excitement. The weekend had turned into two months unconscious in a hospital. And now, over a year after that weekend, she was still affected by its events. Jess wished she could talk to Danyal, he had really seemed to understand her. She dared not try to seek him out, though. Her personal Holonet device's communications were still being closely monitored by her parents. Not that she knew where to even start looking for him (except maybe the bank chip). Holonews reports about the band's tragic accident had been sketchy, but all agreed on the fact that the surviving member had quickly disappeared from public view after Wachamio!'s legal issues had been resolved. “Hey Jess, you gonna be in there all day?” A voice interrupted Jess’ thoughts. It was Sorche. Jess blinked, her mind slowly returning to the present. She was standing in her dorm room's 'fresher, wrapped in a towel. The green-skinned young woman had been taking a shower when her mind had started wandering… back to that day... “Be out in a minute.” Jess replied, hurrying to dry off and get dressed. “Come see this.” The dark-skinned human woman held up her datapad as Jess entered the common area of the dorm. Sorche's datapad was showing an announcement from the university. “Senator Mon Mothma of Chandrila is going to be a special guest at our next planetary parliament session. The university's going to be bringing her over to give a speech to you guys in the Parliamentary Prep Program.” “Wow,” Jess replied, taking the pad and reading over the details with interest. She admired Mon Mothma; the Senator was one of the champions of providing aid to the needy, and was even trying to stop slavery in the Outer Territories. “Did you know that she's our age? One of the youngest members of the Galactic Senate ever, she and Senator Padmé Amidala.” “She's got to be older than that. She's been in the Senate for years!” Sorche replied. Jess pulled up a biographical entry for the Chandrilan Senator and handed the pad back to her roommate. “Look, see, she’s 23, only three years older than I am.” “Well, having a family involved in politics starts you out pretty young, I guess.” The human shrugged, then glanced at her chrono. “It's 1800, you ready to go meet up with everyone?” “Almost,” Jess replied as she finished brushing out her long black hair. She braided it and coiled it into a bun at the nape of her neck. Then she covered her hair beneath a dark shawl that she wound expertly around her head and neck, then pinned securely into place. She adjusted the high-necked collar of her dark undershirt to make sure it covered her green-hued skin appropriately, and tugged on the undershirt's long sleeves. She shook out her dark green floor-length dress, and grabbed a small handbag. “You sure you won't roast to death in that outfit?” Sorche asked for the hundredth time. It had almost become a running joke over the couple of years they'd shared a dorm room. “I've spent my entire life wearing these sort of clothes.” Jess began, her usual response. “Well, most of it, anyway...” her voice trailed off. Her mind getting lost in a memory of a day and a half spent in a very short skirt and sleeveless top, her hair and skin scandalously uncovered. Sorche cleared her throat. Jess blinked, coming back to the present. She sighed in mock exasperation, continuing the now-familiar response, but with less enthusiasm than usual. “The people of my faith have worn this garb for thousands of years, Sorche. Long before they even came to Wukkar. I think I'll survive.” “Are you ok, Jess?” Sorche asked, her brown eyes worried. “You've been getting lost in your head like that a lot this week. You sure you didn't get any permanent brain damage in that accident?” “I'm fine, just…” Jess shrugged. “It was a year ago this weekend, it's been on my mind a lot lately.” It wasn't just the accident she was dwelling on, it was the day leading up to it. “Let's go, Jess.” Sorche smiled and put an arm around Jess’ shoulders. “We'll have some fun, distract you a bit, ok?” Jess liked Sorche. She was kind, funny, smart, cute... She had this way of smiling that sent Jess’ heart racing sometimes. There were days Jess wished their relationship was more than good friends. But she couldn’t do something like that, not with a non-Mirialan, and certainly not with another woman. She was on shaky footing with the Community as it was, she could be exiled, or worse, for sins like that. “Ok,” Jess replied finally. “But not too much fun, I have to report in to the Elders tomorrow morning.” *** It was always nerve-wracking, waiting outside the Council Chamber as the Elders conferred. Knowing that they were within, discussing your words, your deeds, your sins. Deciding the details of your fate. Jess tried not to pace and wring her hands. “Greetings, Jeskal Dilan.” A voice spoke. It was Garan. Jess suppressed a sigh and turned to greet him. “Good day to thee, Garan Durnee.” Jess replied formally with a small bow. “Come on, you don't have to be so formal with me.” Garan grinned, taking Jess’ diamond-tattooed hand and kissing it. “I am your fiancé, after all.” He leaned close to Jess' shawl-covered ear, his breath was hot on her cheek. “Some day, hopefully soon, we'll be getting plenty…informal.” “Please, Garan.” Jess whispered. She pulled away from the young man. “I'm standing outside the Elders’ Chambers waiting to see if my current penance is complete. The last thing I need right now is to have them think I'm being 'intemperate’ with you, even if we are intended.” “What did you do on Ixtlar, anyway?” Garan asked. “You disappeared for two months. Someone said you were in a medical facility in a coma? Then endless penances ever since you returned—“ “It is none of thy concern, Garan,” Jess responded, coldly formal again. She straightened her back and turned to face the Council Chamber door again. “You will have to tell me eventually, Jeskal,” the man replied, his tone going cold. “You will be my wife and will not be able to refuse me anything.” Jess did not respond. Garan stalked away, Jess could hear the anger in his heavy tread. “Enter, Jeskal Dilan, and hear the Council's decision.” It was her mother. Mother was a member of the Council, same as Father. Jess tried to read some clue of her fate from her mother's face, but as usual in times of formality, it was carefully neutral. “Jeskal Dilan,” Father spoke as the Voice of the Council as she came to stand before them. “Having reviewed thy penances of these ten months past, the Council has deemed thy soul to be pure and whole once again.” Mentally, Jess gave a sigh of relief. But Father was not finished speaking. “Furthermore, it is the Council's wish that upon thy graduation from the Outsiders' university next month, thy intended marriage to Garan Durnee will be performed as soon as possible, so that our Community may continue to grow and prosper.” Jess felt her heart, which had begun to feel light as her father began, drop to her guts. So soon? She was not ready to be a wife and a mother. What about the career they wanted her to have in Parliament? She couldn't do that while making a home and raising children, could she? Though her thoughts raced, Jess merely nodded, and bowed in acceptance of the Council's decision. What else could she do?