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Saga Saga - PT Community [OC Revolution]

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by TheRynJedi, Jun 2, 2019.

  1. TheRynJedi

    TheRynJedi Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Jun 20, 2018
    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.
    [​IMG]


    —————

    “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?
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2020
  2. TheRynJedi

    TheRynJedi Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Jun 20, 2018
    Part 2:

    “What are you going to be doing after graduation, Jess?”

    Sorche was curled up on the dorm room couch, sipping an iced caf as she studied for her Civic Engineering final exam. She stood up and stretched, arching her back. Jess tried not to notice the interesting things that did to the front of Sorche's tight blouse.

    “Apparently,” Jess sighed, “getting married.”

    “What? To who?” Sorche sounded shocked.

    “His name is Garan Durnee.”

    “When and where did you meet him? How did I not know about this?” Sorche said animatedly, hands on her hips. “When did you have time to date?”

    “I've never actually been on a date with him.” Jess murmured. “I've known him since I was a child, though. The Community Elders matched me with him when we were babies. I just didn't think our marriage would be so soon. Marriages aren't usually done until the youth are around 25 years old, so that we have five years or so to devote specifically to our work for the Community before having to devote time to raising children. I don't know how well I will be able to do what I've spent the last four years learning to do, not with taking care of a child.”

    “Do you have to have a child immediately?”

    Jess shrugged. “It's the whole point of being married. To prevent having children is a sin.”

    “But what about love, attraction?” Sorche asked incredulously. “Having a romance, for Forcesakes?”

    “The Community Comes First.” Jess said, her inflection indicated she was quoting something she had heard many, many times.

    “I know I'm supposed to be tolerant of people's beliefs, but I have to ask, Jess…” Sorche shook her head. “Why are you going along with this?”

    “Because it's who I am, and who I am meant to be: a member of my family, and my Community, and my purpose is to make the Galaxy a better place for them, above all else.” Jess was surprised to feel her eyes misting up in frustration. Jess shook her head. “I tried defying the rules once, a year ago. It got me nothing but trouble.”

    “Jess—” Sorche began soothingly.

    “I have to go, my parents are expecting me for dinner tonight.”

    She left the dorm so quickly she barely even checked that her scarf was secure.

    ***

    Now Jess was early. She had left the university dorms sooner than she had originally planned, trying to escape that conversation with Sorche. She didn’t want to deal with Sorche trying to tempt her away from the path she was meant to follow. Rules were made for a reason, when everyone followed the rules, communities prospered. This was why she was at the university, to learn how to become one of the people who would make and enact laws that helped everyone be safe and happy. When rules were broken, the lawbreakers had to pay for their sins, so that they could be taught to make better choices next time. When rules were unjust, you followed the rules for rewriting them.

    Jess parked her small, two-person speeder at the far edge of her family’s rural property, near the barn. She wanted some time to think as she walked the half-kilometer home. As she neared the house, she was surprised to see a couple speeders parked out front; apparently her parents had guests. She decided to go in the back door of the home, to not interrupt them with her early arrival.

    She walked through the house. She could hear voices coming from Father’s study. One of them had the telltale distortion of a holo transmission. The voice was deep and confident, with an aristocratic accent. It was saying something like “be ready” and “the Senator will be arriving tomorrow”. Was the Council planning to present some sort of petition to the planetary parliament during Senator Mon Mothma’s visit? Why were they discussing it here instead of the Council Chambers?

    The transmission ended, the study door opened. Jess stood aside to let whoever was inside pass. Father was the first one to emerge.

    “Jess. You are early! We did not expect you for another half an hour.” His voice was surprised, with an edge of worry. “How long have you been here? I did not hear your speeder arrive.”

    “I parked it out by the barn,” Jes explained. “I wanted to take a walk, but it did not take as long as I expected. I apologize if I interrupted.”

    “Not at all, Child.” One of the other Elders spoke up. “We were just leaving. Good night, Elders Dilan. Thank you for the use of your receiver for that offworld call. Ours should be repaired soon, and we will no longer need to impose on your family.”

    The Elders got into their speeders and left into the fading day.

    “Come, Jeskal, help me get dinner served.” Mother asked as she closed the front door. Father had returned to his study. Jess glanced in as she turned to follow Mother to the kitchen. Father was turning off a holographic display showing a diagram of what looked like the Parliament building.

    “How are your classes going?” Mother asked a few minutes later as Jess dished out the meal onto her and Father’s plates. “Everything on-track for graduation?”

    “Most of my final exams are complete,” Jess replied. “The capstone project for the Parliamentary Prep program is all that is left. We have to interview a member of parliament about a petition they will be presenting at the next session. I have an appointment to meet with Representative Tel’thar tomorrow afternoon.”

    “That’s good.” Mother replied. “I hope it goes well.”

    “It’s not part of the assignment,” Jess continued, “but I’m planning on asking for clearance to sit in the gallery for the opening session to hear him present his petitions.”

    “You do not need to ask.” Father announced in his ‘no arguments’ tone of voice. “You will not be attending.”

    “But it will be a great chance to see the Parliament in action,” Jess protested, her earlier frustration returning. “Isn’t that why I’ve been at the university for the past four years? To prepare to be our Community’s advocate to the government? Like the Council determined I would be?”

    “Do NOT question me, Child.” Father stood up, looming threateningly over her. Jess cowered in her chair.

    “We will need you here that day to help us with something.” Mother interjected, laying a hand on Father’s arm. “No need for getting upset, either of you.”

    “Yes,” Father said, sitting down again. “We will need you here that day.”

    “Yes, Father.” Jess murmured.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2019
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  3. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Interesting character! Jess just wants to live her own life. She seems very stifled in this situation, but she's also devoted and loyal to her people and her family. Hopefully Jess will be able to take a stand for what she wants in her own life. There must be some way to compromise. Plus, having a father who calls his nearly college-grad, 20 year old daughter "child" is really pushing it.

    I can't help but wonder if the visit from Mon Mothma and the diagram of the parliament building are connected -- I suspect there is trouble to come!
     
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  4. TheRynJedi

    TheRynJedi Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Jun 20, 2018
    Part 3:

    “So, that is why I am bringing this particular petition before Parliament tomorrow.” The jovial olive-skinned and grey-haired human paced the space behind his desk as he spoke. ”The people in the Southern Provinces have suffered through that drought far too long without getting nearly enough help from the wealthier provinces.”

    Jess finished up a few last notations on her datapad.

    “Thank you so much for your time, Representative Tel’thar.” Jess stood and shook the Representative’s hand as he came around the desk.

    “You will be graduating soon, correct?” he asked.

    “Next week,” Jess replied.

    “Have you submitted any applications to any Representatives’ offices to be an aide?”

    “I haven’t yet, sir.”

    “I would love to see one from you cross my desk, young lady.”

    Jess stuttered for a moment, searching for a response, no other representative she had spoken to had said something like that to her. She was saved by a knock at the office door. Tel’thar opened it, an aide was standing rather breathlessly in the doorway.

    “You have a visitor, sir. She says she is short on time today, but would like to meet with you as soon as possible.”

    “By all means, bring the Senator in,” Tel’thar announced. “I exchanged a few messages with her this morning, I’ve been expecting her.”

    “I will get out of your way, sir—” Jess began.

    “No, no, stay, it will be educational!” The elderly human beamed at her. He gestured for her to return to the chair she had recently vacated.

    Jess moved back to the chair, but did not sit.

    The aide reappeared in the doorway and stood aside, gesturing into the room. "Right this way, Senator."

    Jess felt her nervousness spike as a familiar human woman appeared in the doorway. Jess recognized the short bright red hair and typical simple, yet elegant, white dress. The woman nodded her thanks to the aide as she entered the office.

    "Wonderful to see you again, Senator Mothma!" Tel'thar said enthusiastically as he clasped her hands between his own.

    "And you as well, former Senator." The Chandrilan Senator replied. "How is your semi-retirement, and being a local Representative again?"

    "Wonderful. Especially when I get to mentor brilliant young students like Miss Jeskal Dilan." Tel'thar gestured to Jess, beckoning her forward. "Jess, Senator Mon Mothma of Chandrila."

    "A pleasure to meet you ma'am." Jess replied nervously, inclining her head in respect.

    “The pleasure is mine. Oh, you are Mirialan, like my Jedi protector.” Senator Mothma exclaimed softly.

    The woman standing just inside the doorway behind Mon Mothma inclined her head in greeting. She had been so silent and unobtrusive in her entrance, and Jess so focused on the Senator, that Jess had not even noticed she was there. But now that the green-skinned woman in the long brocaded robes and headdress had been pointed out, Jess had a hard time keeping her eyes off of her. An actual Jedi Knight, and a Mirialan!

    “A protector?" Tel'thar exclaimed. "Surely a Senator wouldn’t be in danger visiting a world like ours!”

    “Senators have been receiving threats of all kinds, Representative Tel’thar." Senator Mothma replied somberly. "Especially ones who have been fighting against some of the more criminal elements of the galaxy, like slavery. Or, Force forbid, famines and droughts like your world is facing. So, certain troublemaking senators have been getting assigned Jedi bodyguards. For this trip, Master Luminara Unduli has been assigned to watch over me.”

    “Just continue as if I am not here,” the Jedi replied serenely. ”Do not let my presence interfere with your work.”

    “Please have a seat, Senator,” Tel’thar offered.

    Jess hurried to push forward the chair she had been sitting on a moment earlier, it was the one closest to the Representative’s desk and the most comfortable. As the Senator and Representative settled into their seats and began discussing trade disputes and strategies for dealing with problematic royal officials, Jess retreated to the back of the office. She ended up standing near the Jedi Master against the wall by the door.

    “Your name was Jeskal?” The Jedi said softly, speaking in Mirialan.

    “Yes, Honored Elder.” Jess replied, trying hard not to stumble over her words in her nervousness and awe that the Jedi was not only speaking to her, but speaking in their ancient language.

    “I have studied our people’s culture extensively during my time in the Temple, and learned much from my master, who was also Mirialan.” The Jedi spoke softly, but with curiosity in her voice. “I have never seen the tattoo patterns you bear.”

    “My ancestors left Mirial many centuries ago, Master Jedi. Formed a Community here on Wukkar. They left because—“ Jess paused, thinking for a moment. “I do not know the exact reasons why, the stories I was told growing up say they were 'seeking a better life'.”

    “Fascinating. I have not heard of many off-world communities of Mirialans," Jedi Master replied; she began to turn her full attention back to her charge. "I would like to learn more about your Commune some time, when I am not occupied with an important mission.”

    “I would be honored, Master Jedi.” Jess bowed her head in acknowledgment and returned her attention to the Senator and Representative as well.

    Tel’thar and Mothma finished their conversation a short time later. As the Chandrilan Senator made her way to the door, she paused to speak to Jess. “I assume that I will be seeing you this afternoon at the university?”

    “Yes, Senator, I am looking forward to it.” Jess replied.

    “Why don’t you join us at the Parliamentary session as well?” Mothma suggested. “I will have my aide send you the details, and you two can meet us at the Parliamentary Building. If you and Representative Tel’thar arrive with me, I should be able to get you an excellent seat, and it would be seen as a gesture of support for Representative Tel’thar’s proposals.”

    “Splendid idea, Senator!” Tel’thar enthused, turning to hear Jess’ response.

    Jess hesitated, Father had said she was not to go to the Parliamentary opening session, that she was needed at home that day. But walking into that building beside Representative Tel’thar and Senator Mothma… It could launch her career as a Representative before she even graduated. Perhaps it might even convince the Elders to postpone her marriage. She could fulfill her intended role in the Community so much sooner. But Father had been so adamant that she not go, and he and Mother were monitoring her messages, if they saw a message from Tel’thar saying to meet at the Parliamentary Building they would know she was defying their instructions…

    “That would be wonderful, Senator, I greatly appreciate the offer.” Jess replied. “I… I may have another engagement that morning. But, if you could send Representative Tel’thar the information, I will let him know by tomorrow if I am able to attend.”

    The Senator bade them farewell, the Jedi Master smiled and nodded to Jess. The women left the office to attend the Senator’s next meeting. Jess bade Representative Tel’thar farewell soon after, and left to return to her dorm room. She had a report to write before the Senator’s speech that afternoon.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2019
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  5. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Things might be looking up for Jess in a minute. She appears to be making a good impression on all the right people.
     
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  6. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Caught up at last! And I apologize that doing so has taken me so long—part of it was “beta who saw it first,” but part was just plain RL. So here I am, and I’m enjoying it very much—it’s off to a fantastic start and very much in the spirit of the “moral dilemma” challenge theme.

    It’s wonderful getting to know Jess better. I knew I liked her in “A Little Bit of You,” and this story really gives so much perspective on “where she’s coming from” in that story. We see that she wasn’t just any old naive first-timer—she was coming from a completely different and very strict way of life, and she was “trying something new” (though little did she know to what it would lead!). Jess is very much at a crossroads here. In a way she’s internalized that background strongly, as we see from her responses to Sorche’s questions about her clothing, her arranged marriage, etc.—and that’s understandable, because it’s what she’s grown up with. But that doesn’t mean she just rolls over and takes it either; when her dad changes the plan on her to make her marriage to that immensely creepy Garan (and more on him soon) earlier, she clearly wants to know why, and she tries to hash out in her own mind why it’s happening. And of course all along the way Jess is seeing that there’s something more out there—to the Galaxy, to the other Mirialans of the galaxy (from her meeting with Luminara—and that was a neat way to work in the backstory of her particular community as a whole), and to herself (as she negotiates the direction her feelings toward Sorche have taken).

    So in a way she’s got several moral dilemmas in progress at once here, and based on what’s been happening thus far I have a feeling that in not too long something will happen to push her decisively one way or the other. All the more so, given that some kind of fishy business seems to be going on with her parents and some of the council members: meeting in the private study, the end of that holotransmission, the holographic map. And, most of all, Jess’s father’s sudden change to his daughter’s plans, and the sudden veto against sitting in on the parliamentary session.... I could make some guesses, but for now the most I can really say is “[face_nail_biting].”

    And then there’s Rep. Telthar. I admit I’m not completely sure what to make of him. He seems supportive of Jess in her career, but he’s definitely very... effusive about it, too, which makes me wonder if he, too, doesn’t have some kind of ulterior motive. It’s nice to see that Jess’s mother is generally sympathetic and supportive of her, too, though I would guess she’s probably pretty much powerless against the Community’s decisions.

    Very, very curious to see how this will continue and what decisions Jess will be faced with—she’s a compelling and likable character whom I wish well in her search for truth! Keep it coming and thanks so much for sharing this with the challenge. =D=
     
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  7. TheRynJedi

    TheRynJedi Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Jun 20, 2018
    Part 4:

    As she approached the agreed-upon meeting place at the Parliamentary building the next morning, Jeskal's comm beeped for the third time in ten minutes. Mother had been the first two calls, this one was from Father. Jess took a deep breath and silenced her comm. She had already talked to Rep. Tel'thar, there was no one else she wanted to speak to this morning. She would be in trouble with her parents for just being here, ignoring her parents' calls couldn't make it any worse than it was already going to be.

    A line of hovercars was beginning to form, drivers dropping off their passengers in front of the grand building's main formal entrance. Representatives, of course, but also prominent businesspeople, hoping to make a good impression on the lawmakers they would be trying to bribe later on. A vehicle flying the Royal flag appeared, with the Crown Prince's flag just below it. The aging Queen of Ixtlar held no real political power on the planet, but was still the formal head of state. It looked like her son was appearing in her stead this morning.

    Crowds gathered, as crowds were wont to do when there was a spectacle to see. Jess thought she saw a few familiar faces in the throng. Certainly many of her fellow students, making their way eagerly into the building to find a good seat.

    A familiar voice shouted her name. She turned to see Sorche weaving through the crowd.

    "What are you doing here?" Jess asked her roommate in surprise. "I thought you had class this morning."

    "You sounded so excited this morning about getting to sit down in the -- whatever it's called -- the 'important seats' with Senator Mothma…" Sorche shrugged, her tightly woven beaded braids swinging as she tilted her head. "Well, I decided to skip class and see what all the excitement was about. We've already turned in our final reports, today's class was going to be a party, anyway. So, I came here and got a standby ticket for a gallery seat."

    "It's probably not going to be all that exciting to an engineer," Jess laughed.

    "But it's important to you," Sorche explained, smiling at Jess. "And, well… you're important to me, so I want to understand it better."

    Jeskal froze. "W-what did you say?"

    Sorche grinned, her brown eyes sparkling. She wrapped Jess in a tight hug and whispered into her ear. "You're important to me, Jess, I like you… a lot."

    Jess' heart beat so hard Sorche could probably feel it, thumping there against her chest. Jess returned the hug fiercely.

    "I like you, too, Sorche."

    "I know you do, silly," Sorche said, breaking the embrace, but laying a hand on Jess' cheek. "I've been trying to get you to admit it for months, but you're too scared of what your parents will think."

    "Not any more." Jess replied, grasping Sorche's hand, wanting to say more but an approaching hovercar caught her eye.

    "Representative Tel'thar is here, you better get in that standby line if you want a chance to see me parade in, in all my glory."

    Sorche laughed that warm chuckle that Jess loved hearing. "Ok, ok, I'm off. I'll catch up with you later."

    "Definitely," Jess replied.

    With a quick wave, Sorche disappeared into the crowd, heading towards the line forming in front of the general public entrance.

    Jeskal stepped forward as Tel'thar's hovercar came to a stop. The young Twi'lek driver was halfway to the passenger door when Tel'thar opened it himself and waved the young man away.

    "I'm fine, get back in and get moving, there's still lots of much more important people that need to be unloaded."

    The driver bowed and jumped back into the driver's seat.

    "Ah, Miss Dilan! How wonderful to see you!" Tel'thar enthused. "Are you excited for this morning?"

    "Yes, sir. Nervous too." Jess replied.

    "Not to worry, not to worry, just stick with me, and all will be well!" the Representative grinned.

    They chatted amiably as they watched the line of hovercars disgorging their charges onto the plaza and hurrying away to make room for the next car. Every District's representatives were there. As each approached, Tel'thar had a hearty greeting. As each walked away towards the building, Tel'thar had a whispered comment to Jess about their political leanings, current alliances, and general level of trustworthiness.

    Abruptly, a hand grabbed Jess' arm from behind, and a voice hissed angrily in Mirialan: "What are you doing here, Jeskal?"

    Jess turned, blinking in surprise, her heart racing again, this time in terror.

    "I could ask you the same thing, Garan Durnee." Jess whispered back, sounding (hopefully) more confident than she felt. "Don't you have some farm work to be doing?"

    Representative Tel'thar turned to Jeskal, concern on his face. "Is everything all right, dear? Oh, is this young man family of yours?"

    "Could you excuse me for a moment, Representative," Jess said, putting on a smile. "I will be right back."

    Tel'thar nodded. "But hurry, the Senator should be arriving soon."

    Garan tugged on Jess' arm, all but dragging her to a small clearing in the crowd beside a fountain.

    "You are NOT supposed to be here," he growled in Mirialan.

    "Did my Father send you to fetch me home?" Jess demanded, wrenching her arm from his grasp. "If so, it is not going to happen, I am NOT ruining this chance to launch my career."

    "None of that will matter any more, not after today." Garan replied, shaking his head. "As your fiancé, I order you to come with me, now."

    "No, Garan, I will not." Jess said defiantly, her tattooed fists clenching, trying desperately to keep herself from quivering in fear. "I- I don't care if the Community casts me out, this is where I am supposed to be."

    "Please, Jess, come now, before it's too late." Garan's usual haughty demeanor faded for just a second, and real, true worry appeared there.

    That gave Jess pause, it was the first time since their childhood she had seen a real caring expression on her fiancé's face. What was going on? Was there really a feeling towards her in him that wasn't dominating possessiveness?

    Why did he look so scared? Before it's too late? What did that mean? Was he just trying to scare her into changing her mind? No, she would not be swayed from her decision today.

    "I'm sorry Garan, I am not leaving." Jess shook her head firmly.

    The hard look returned to Garan's eyes. "So be it. Goodbye, Jeskal Dilan."

    He turned and rushed away, all but fleeing the plaza.

    Jeskal was puzzled as she returned to Tel'thar's side. She tried not to let Garan's strange behavior distract her from this important day, but something about their conversation had given her a bad feeling she couldn't shake.

    --

    Sorche bounced on her toes, nervously excited. Oh, not for the Parlimentary session, she was sure that it would be as boring as watching lacquer dry on one of her brother's custom speeders. She couldn't wait to meet up with Jess after the session, and get to watch her friend excitedly recount her interpretation of the morning's tedium. They had so much they needed to talk about. Jess' choice to come to the session today, against her family's wishes, had given Sorche the proof she'd needed that Jess wasn't going to continue to submit to their demands any more. She was breaking free to pursue her own interests. And perhaps to pursue their interest in each other. Sorche knew there was a wild and free spirit in Jess somewhere. If there wasn't, Jess wouldn't have snuck off-planet a year ago and done all the crazy, exciting things she'd confessed to Sorche that she'd done that weekend.

    As Sorche passed through the doors into the Parliment building, she saw a flash of tattooed green skin through the crowd. She wondered if Jess had come looking for her. But as she came closer, she saw that it was a young Mirialan male, perhaps fifteen standard years old. He looked nervous.

    "Hey, are you ok?" Sorche asked, the boy jumped at her touch on his arm. "You look lost."

    "N-no, I'm not, " he stammered in accented Basic. "I-I'm meeting someone here, and just haven't seen them yet."

    "Ah, ok," Sorche replied. "I hope you find them soon."

    The youth nodded, and went back to scanning the crowd again, fidgeting with a comm unit that he kept checking, as if hoping for a message to appear at any second.

    Sorche turned back to the standby line, it was moving pretty steadily, she would probably make it in to the session.

    It looked like it was going to be her lucky day.

    --

    Senator Mothma's hovercar finally arrived just as Jess was beginning to wonder if the Chandrilan had perhaps fallen ill, and her aides had not passed the message along.

    Jess saw Representative Tel'thar grin as Senator Mothma's aide hopped out of the pilot's seat and ran around to open the vehicle's passenger door.

    First to appear was Master Unduli, her brocade accented skirt swishing as she exited the hovercar. She nodded in greeting to the Representative, and Jess standing beside him, then moved to one side. Jess noticed the Jedi seemed distracted, scanning the crowds with a somewhat unfocused gaze. Jess wondered if she was using the Force, searching the crowds for potential danger. There was something about the Jedi Master's hyper-vigilance that brought back the uneasy feeling Jess had been fighting since talking to Garan.

    Tel'thar gave his hand to Senator Mothma, assisting her as she stepped out of the car and onto the ancient cobblestone plaza.

    "Good morning, Senator!" he greeted with an enthusiastic smile. "I hope the traffic in the city today wasn't too much of a problem."

    "A little, but not too bad." Mon Mothma replied pleasantly. "Once you have lived through a few Coruscant airlane traffic jams, normal ground traffic pales in comparison."

    Tel'thar chuckled, as if he remembered far too many of those from his time as a Galactic Senator.

    "Miss Dilan, how are you this morning?"

    "I--"

    "Senator! Get back in the car, NOW." The Jedi commanded suddenly. "All of you, get in!"

    Jess turned reflexively to look in the direction the Jedi Master was staring in alarm. Jess didn't see anything out of the ordinary.

    And then her world exploded.
     
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  8. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Sorry to be so late with this comment—it's been busy times by me, and I've got a lot of catching up to do, but I'm still following this and looking forward to seeing where it will lead! :)

    Lots is going on in this chapter! Jess's head is probably already whirling from the fact that it's her big day as Tel'thar's aide, when she'll get to witness his petitions to parliament from "the big seats"... and then Sorche shows up with an unexpected confession of her feelings for her... and then Garan shows up... I love how the suspense builds in this. First there's Garan's sudden shift to actual, real concern, and there's something kind of bittersweetly ironic in the fact that the first time he shows any true concern for Jess is something she takes (indeed, has to take) as a bad sign. Then there's other Mirialan boy scurrying around, then Master Unduli's sudden inkling of danger... and what a cliffhanger ensues! :eek: Something big has just gone down, and I can't wait for you to continue this story so we can find out just what it is—and whether Jess and Sorche and Tel'thar and Mothma and Unduli and everyone else will make it through OK! Great work with this, and definitely keep it coming. =D=
     
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  9. TheRynJedi

    TheRynJedi Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Jun 20, 2018
    Part 5:

    The world around Jess slowly swam into focus. She was lying on a floor, but it was rocking gently beneath her. She tried to sit up, but a hand pressed against her shoulder, keeping her lying down.

    “Be still,” Master Unduli commanded, firmly but gently. Jess struggled to hear the Jedi Master’s words over the ringing in her ears. “You have been unconscious and I have not had time to thoroughly examine your injuries. I need you to remain still until we arrive at Senator Mothma’s secure suite at the hotel.”

    “What happened?” Jess asked groggily.

    “There was an explosion in the Parliament Building.” Tel’thar’s voice came from somewhere above Jess’ head. “We were all knocked off our feet, but you fell unconscious. Master Unduli lifted you inside the Senator’s hovercar, we followed and evacuated the area. We don’t know much more yet. It has only been five minutes or so and we have been focused on getting the Senator to a secure location.”

    “Oh no, no, no, no…” Jess moaned, her breath starting to come in shallow gasps.

    “What’s wrong, Jeskal?” Senator Mothma knelt beside Jess on the floor of the luxury hovercar and took her hand.

    “Sorche… She was in the building… no, no, nononono…” Jess struggled to sit up.

    “Please stay still, Miss Dilan.” The Jedi instructed again, but Jess could not hear her. Jess’ mind was full of her last image of Sorche, waving and disappearing into the crowd outside the Parliament building, grinning at the promise to meet up later and talk about their future.

    “Oh, no,” Senator Mothma murmured, her free hand covering her mouth in sadness. “Someone she cared for was in the building..."

    “Take us back, I have to go back, Sorche was in there!” Jess cried, struggling against the hands holding her still.

    “Master Jedi, is there something you can do to calm her?” Tel'thar pleaded.

    “Shh, sleep, child,” came the Jedi Master’s voice, speaking in Mirialan. A cool hand touched Jess’ forehead. “I am sorry,” was the last thing Jeskal heard before darkness carried her away again.



    Jess stared numbly at the holoterminal. Images of death and destruction had been playing non-stop across the screen for the past two days as the news cams covered the aftermath of the bombing of Parliament. The building had been completely leveled by what was suspected to be multiple coaxium-based explosives placed throughout the public-access areas. There were rescue teams still searching the rubble, but they were having difficulty finding intact enough bodies to even identify the victims.

    The Crown Prince was dead, along with as-yet-uncounted hundreds of civilians and just about every member of the planetary Parliament. Rep. Tel'thar was the most senior representative left alive. He had been sent for yesterday by members of the Queen's Guard, who had escorted him to the Queen's secure bunker to help coordinate the response and recovery. Senator Mon Mothma had been in holocalls with her Galactic Senate contacts almost non-stop since they had arrived at her suite.

    No group had claimed responsibility for the destruction, at least not yet. The Queen had just delivered an address offering a substantial reward for any information that led to finding the party responsible for the bombing.

    Both the Galactic Republic and the Separatist Confederation of Independent Systems had offered experts to advise and lend support to the planet's crippled government. Senator Mothma was able to use her own influence to have the Galactic Senate to send a team of Jedi investigators. As that information had spread, the Separatists had quietly withdrawn their offers.

    Jess had been brought to the room she now occupied in the secure suite when the Senator and her party had first arrived. Jess had awoken later as Master Unduli was performing her examination. The Jedi declared Jess "shaken and bruised, but not seriously injured.” She explained that a preexisting injury to Jess’ brain had made her more susceptible to unconsciousness upon receiving what had been only minor trauma.

    There was a soft knock at the door of Jess' room.

    "Come in." Jess responded, in a voice completely devoid of emotion. She had run out of tears early that morning, a few hours after receiving a voice message from Sorche's mother. Helene Planess had not heard from her daughter all day on what was Sorche's last day of school. She was getting concerned, so she tracked down her daughter's roommate to see if she knew where Sorche was. Jess had broken down completely. She could not bring herself to speak to Sorche's family, not when it was Jess' fault Sorche had been at the Parliament building at all. Senator Mothma had taken the task upon herself, reaching out to the authorities of the Southern Provinces with Sorche's name and her family's contact information.

    Master Unduli opened the door, and stepped aside to let Senator Mothma enter.

    "How are you, Jess?" the red-haired young woman asked.

    "I'm fine," Jess replied, not at all convincingly.

    "The authorities from the Southern Provinces just contacted me," Mothma continued. "They let me know that an officer has been to see Sorche's family."

    Jess nodded.

    "Is there anything I can do for you, Jess?"

    Jess was silent, staring at the continuous holos of devastation. That morning in the plaza replayed over and over in her mind: Sorche saying goodbye, the Representative arriving, the Senator arriving, the explosion. Gradually, a forgotten memory surfaced, one that had been lost in the trauma of Sorche and Senators and explosions. Something resembling an emotion flickered across Jess' tattooed face.

    "Yes, Senator, there is," Jess whispered. "I need to speak to the Queen's investigators. I think I know who is responsible for this."

    A memory of Garan Durnee, desperately trying to get her to leave the plaza. And of her parents, so insistent that she not go to the Parliamentary assembly that morning.
     
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  10. TheRynJedi

    TheRynJedi Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Jun 20, 2018
    Part 6:

    <Good morning Wukkar! Our top story today is a major decision in the Parliament Bombing investigation. Leaders of a local religious group known as the "Community" have been convicted of planning and carrying out the deadly attack that killed over 600 people, including Wukkar's Crown Prince.

    Investigation into the Community's involvement began when a member of the Community itself brought evidence to the Jedi team working on the case. Though her identity was kept a secret while the trial was ongoing, public court documents acquired by Wukkar HoloNews identify her as 20 year old Jeskal Dilan, a Parliamentary Prep student at Capitol City University. Her testimony during the trial was key to the Court's decision.

    Sentencing will begin tomorrow for the eight Community elders and multiple other Community members currently in custody. The convicted elders implicated the Confederacy of Independent Systems as a co-conspirator in the plot, but a representative of the Separatists has staunchly denied any involvement-->


    "Oh, I'm so sorry, would you like me to turn this off?" the human woman behind the desk at the detention center asked, her hand reaching for the holoscreen power switch.

    The young Mirialan woman sitting patiently in the waiting room shook her head. "It's alright. I've gotten pretty good at ignoring reporters."

    "It was very brave what you did, by the way," the woman continued. "Testifying against your own people."

    "Thank you," the young woman replied quietly.

    A Duros security officer entered the room. "Jeskal Dilan?"

    The young woman stood, smoothing out her long dark skirt and veil covering her hair.

    "Follow me, please."

    Jess followed the security officer down a hall and into a small, secure room.

    "I'll be right outside if you need me," the security officer explained. "Your mother has been determined to be low-risk enough to give you a bit of privacy during your visit, but we do have a droid monitoring the holocam feed who will alert us of anything concerning."

    "Thank you, officer," Jess replied.

    The Duros nodded and closed the door, leaving Jess in a bare room with two chairs and a table, bolted to the floor. A door on the other side of the room led to the interior of the prison, where the inmates were held.

    Jess paced the short length of the room, nervously fiddling with the datachip that was strung on a long chain looped around her neck.

    Across the room, the door opened and a warden escorted Jess’ mother into the room. The warden looked to Jess, and asked if she wanted her to stick around. Jess shook her head and the warden backed out of the room and shut the door.

    Mother was wearing a plain grey one-piece jumpsuit and had been allowed a grey scarf to cover her hair and neck.

    "Hello, Mother." Jess said, breaking the tense silence.

    “How could you turn against the Community, Jeskal?" Mother demanded. "I thought we had taught you better.”

    “You taught me that laws were to be respected and followed,” Jess replied, simply.

    “Yes, our laws," Mother growled, tapping her chest. She pointed to the door behind her. "Not evil ones that oppress our people.”

    “Who are you to decide what is evil, Mother? You helped kill innocent people!" It was becoming difficult for Jess to keep her voice calm.

    “Corrupt people, making corrupt laws that only furthered their own ends," the Mirialan woman replied. "Stealing our hard-earned money to send it to strangers on the other side of the world."

    "They're taxes, Mother," Jess sighed. "It's how a government pays for the public services they provide."

    "They take too much."

    “And this was why the Community sent me to university," Jess said in exasperation. "So that I could help change laws by bringing the Community’s voice to Parliament.”

    “It was happening too slowly, and then you” -Mother jabbed a finger towards Jess- “Proved yourself untrustworthy and unfit. We got a proposal for an opportunity that would change Wukkar for the better, immediately.”

    “By killing innocents?” Jess replied incredulously.

    “By disrupting the corrupt government!" Mother explained. "Our benefactor was ready and waiting to help us throw off the Republic’s shackles and usher the planet into a better future, one that was more sympathetic to our cause. All we had to do was enact the plan. The Republic Senator was supposed to be in the building.”

    “Do you hear yourself, Mother?" Jess replied, agony coloring her voice. "Conspiring with off-world forces to throw our planet into chaos?”

    “You have to break something down in order to rebuild it to be better. You saw that yourself in your penances this past year." Mother gestured to Jess. "You had to be brought low so that you could be built up again.”

    “That is what it was, wasn’t it?" Jess' fingers touched her lips in horrified realization. "The menial labor, the humiliating examinations, the repetition of the sacred words. It was not to humble me and expunge my sins as the Council claimed. It was to break my spirit, to make me docile and compliant. To submit to your rule, to my fiancé’s eventual rule.”

    “Apparently it did not work as well as we had thought.”

    “No, it did not,” Jess replied, her voice calm and controlled, though inside her emotions spiraled. “I am not sorry for what I did. Sneaking off-world, having a weekend of freedom, even if it did end in tragedy. Experiencing the consequences of my mistakes by myself would have been a better teacher than any of your conditioning. That alien who Father chased out of my hospital room with his screaming fit--yes, I was awake enough to hear all of that--that young man showed me more kindness and true concern for my wellbeing in one day--while half drunk--than I have had from you in the past ten years. He showed me that it's ok to have feelings for someone very different than yourself. And that it was ok—necessary, even—to be who you are instead of who other people think you are.”

    Jess pulled a handheld holoprojector from her pocket and activated it. A holo appeared of a young human woman with a beautiful smile, deep brown skin and a multitude of beaded braids in her black hair. “Look at this holo, Mother. I want you to know her face, and know her name. This is Sorche. I cared for her, might have even been in love with her, and she me. But I will never know because you killed her, along with 623 other people, when you destroyed the Parliament building to bring about your revolution that went nowhere."

    Mother was silent. Whether from anger, or shock, Jess couldn't tell.

    “I came here to say goodbye.” Jess held up the chip she had worn around her neck, hidden in plain sight for the past year. “I'm taking this datachip back to Ixtlar to see what the alien who gave it to me left for me there. Who knows, maybe I’ll even find that beautiful man himself, and I can tell him personally how much the time we spent together meant to me.”

    Mother sputtered in mingled horror and anger.

    Jess turned to leave, and out of habit, checked that her scarf was secure around her head. She paused, gave a short laugh of realization and turned back to face her Mother.

    "You know, Sorche used to always ask me if I was going to roast to death in these clothes. I have realized that I actually was." Jess unpinned her scarf, unwound it, and placed it on the small table.

    "Not because they are too hot, or too overly modest." Jess unbound her hair and shook it loose to cascade in waves down her back.

    "There are plenty of other people who wear clothing like this for their own very valid reasons. The Mirialan Jedi who saved my life, for example." Jess began to pull the bottom edge of her shirt out of the long skirt it was tucked into.

    "No, I was roasting in these clothes because they represent the Community's burning fanaticism." Jess stripped off the long-sleeved top, leaving only a thin-strapped camisole covering her vibrant green chest.

    "Slowly roasting me to death as you tried to control me, to melt me down so that you could mold me into who you wanted me to be." Jess dropped the shirt onto the table beside the scarf. Soon after, the long heavy skirt followed, leaving Jess in the cami, form-fitting black leggings, and the chain looped around her neck that held the key to her next adventure.

    "Good bye, Mother."

    ---

    "What can I do for you, Jeskal?" Prime Minister Tel'thar asked the young woman who had recently arrived in his office. She had a haunted look around her still but looked better than she had for weeks. She was less formally dressed than usual as well. Suit pants instead of a dress or skirt, a light summer-weight blouse, with her black hair loose and head uncovered.

    "I was wondering if you could help me get to Ixtlar to attend to some business there," Jess asked.

    "Haven't you received the Queen's reward for your information?" Tel'thar asked. "Surely you have plenty from it to charter a hyperspace shuttle to take you there. Or buy your own ship, for that matter."

    "I couldn't accept the reward. I brought the information to her because it was the right thing to do, so that justice could be served." Jess shook her head, tears began to mist her eyes. "I should not be receiving a reward for betraying my family, even if they were guilty."

    "Jess, my dear, do not think of it as a reward." Tel'thar came around his desk and took the young woman's hands. "Think of it, perhaps, as justified recompense for their betrayal of you. You believed in them, trusted that they only wanted the best for you, and you found out otherwise."

    "Perhaps," Jess murmured.

    "Take it, use it to buy your own ship, and go see the Galaxy," Tel'thar urged. "It is a big place full of wonderful sights. Go, and leave Wukkar and its painful memories behind."

    "That sounds like a good idea, actually," Jess replied, the idea growing on her the more she thought about it.

    "Go, pack your belongings," the Prime Minister insisted. "I will contact the Queen and handle the paperwork."

    "Thank you sir."

    Tel'thar smiled and gave a fond hug to the young woman who had become almost like a granddaughter to him in the past few months. "Good luck, and may the Force be with you, Jeskal."
     
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  11. TheRynJedi

    TheRynJedi Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Jun 20, 2018
    (Entry for Pride story prompt)
    Epilogue:

    Jeskal Dilan walked slowly across the tiny new green grasses of the memorial park. The sun’s rays occasionally penetrated past the dark green leaves of the more drought-resistant trees, but shone freely through the branches of the dryer varieties. Nature was still struggling with the drought in the Southern Provinces, but the cooler weather recently had brought some rain to these rural plains. Life was slowly emerging from the dampened soil. The young Mirialan woman, with her skin that was as green as the tiny blades of grass, felt as if she just might be beginning to emerge to a new life as well.

    She passed by dozens of stone memorials, some of them centuries old. Soon she arrived at the newest one, at the very end of the row. Jess knelt in the new grass in front of the stone and passed her hand over the holoprojector disk set into the carved marble. The disk glowed brightly, projecting an image of a young woman, smiling for the holocamera, her smile brilliant white in her dark brown face. The young woman waved, then gestured to someone off-camera. An older woman and a young man who looked just like the young woman joined her and they all waved to the camera, arms wrapping around one another’s shoulders as they laughed and smiled together as a family. The holoimage faded, then returned to the first image of the smiling young woman. Jess tapped a control, pausing the playback there.

    “Hey, Sorche,” Jess said to the image. “I’ve got some good news and some not so good. The good news is, I have my very own hyper-capable ship, now. When the Queen found out what I was planning on using her reward for, she took Tel’thar to the Royal hangar and introduced him to her son’s huge collection of personal hyperships. The Crown Prince had collected quite a few over the years, and, well, he wasn’t going to be using them any more. She was already thinking of downsizing the collection, so she told Tel’thar to choose one he thought I would like. A crew is refitting it right now, repainting it, making it look a bit less… royal. Her majesty also threw in an astromech droid to pilot the thing until I can learn to pilot it myself.”

    Jess stroked a few blades of budding grass around her as she continued. “The not so good news, as you can probably guess, is that I’m leaving. The trial is over, the lawyers have gotten all the testimony they need from me. I don’t want to be here to face another round of reporters waiting outside my door every day to get my reactions. To tell you the truth, I don’t even want to know what the court’s final sentence is. I said my goodbyes to the Community yesterday.” Jess laughed suddenly. “I even got rid of those stifling clothes you always teased me about, stripped and dropped them in front of my mother and walked out of the detention center in a camisole and leggings.” Jess grinned, but then sighed and reached out to brush her fingers along the edge of the holoimage. “I don’t know, maybe I shouldn’t go. Everything I’ve ever loved is here on Wukkar…”

    “You should go, honey.” A voice spoke from behind Jess, making her jump in surprise. She turned to see Helene, Sorche’s mother. The woman sat down beside Jess and looked at the holo of her daughter. “I don’t think Sorche would ever forgive you. If you didn’t take this chance to leave this place with all its bad memories and go see the Galaxy. It’s what she wanted to do, it’s why she was studying engineering, so she could find a job on Corellia, maybe, building starships or space stations.”

    “I’m so sorry I wasn’t here for her memorial service,” Jess said, her eyes beginning to tear up. “Reporters were following me everywhere, and there was worry that I might be targeted by members of my Community or even by grieving families—”

    “I understand, honey,” Helene said, putting her arm around Jess’ shoulders and giving her a squeeze. ”Sorche would have understood, too. She really did love you, you know. Spent so many hours talking my ear off about how smart you were, and how talented, and how beautiful. But also how strictly you were raised. She always had hope, though, that someday you’d get up the courage to love her back.”

    “You never… thought she was strange for falling in love with a girl?” Jess asked hesitantly.

    “Nope,” the older woman said with a smile. “Sorche has never shown a lick of interest in boys, not in her whole life. Well, she loved to be friends with them, and had a couple she would go have fun with, see holos and stuff, but she was never in love with them. Girls, though, she’d get all kinds of excited about the girls, but none of the ones in this small town returned her affections.”

    “I… I like both,” Jess admitted. It was hard to do, speaking these feelings out loud for the first time, but freeing, too. “Well, all, actually. There was a student in one of my classes whose species has, I think, five genders they said? And zhe was pretty attractive too. And... I like other species too, they’re all so fascinating and beautiful in their own natural ways.”

    “You see? Isn’t the diverse nature of the Galaxy wonderful? There’s so much out there to learn and to see, Jess.” Helene hugged her again. “Go out and learn it, go see it, for Sorche.”

    Jess nodded, she would do it. For Sorche. For herself. For the pure adventure and romance of it all.

    The End
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
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  12. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    I'm sorry I came so late to this, although I'm kind of glad I got to read the whole story in one sitting. That was really sweet and really lovely and did a wonderful job at showing LGBQ+ relationships in all their nuanced gorgeousness. I pulled some of my favourite bits and my reactions to them as I was reading.

    Run girl run! The moment anyone says anything like that to you, get out of there as fast as your legs can carry you!

    Aww. Poor little love. That sense of having to conform to community and family is so overwhelming and so strong and it's so hard to get out of it.

    Oh no! I teared up at this part. Poor Sorche, one could only hope that she knew that she was loved in return. Such a horrible way to die though.

    YES! You go girl!

    And this is when I got all teary again. That was so beautiful and sweet and I loved it. Luckily I wasn't facing anyone when I read it so I didn't have to explain why I was wibbling in front of the computer.
     
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  13. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Hooray! [face_party] Congratulations on finishing this wonderful story! And what a fitting finish, too, in so many ways, as Jess grieves for Sorche (and I love how sympathetic Mon Mothma is about that), works up the courage to burn bridges with her own family and the Community—and finally makes the break in a very striking fashion, shedding her religiously mandated clothing and speaking the truth to her mother. You have a real knack for writing these deep, difficult conversations between characters (another recent one being Danyal and Gandan in Crisis of the Heart); I love how you made it clear that Jess is shedding just her own relationship to the Community, not bashing the idea of the religious clothing in general, and I also thought it was neat how both she and her mother had, in their way, good points—her mother is clearly the adversary here, and deservedly so, but she’s not a cardboard cutout either. And what a beautiful closing scene with Jess and Helene bonding at Sorche’s grave—how fitting that this is where Jess comes out In earnest about her sexuality, just before she strikes out on her own. (Gorgeous incorporation of the green natural surroundings for the Pride prompt, too!)

    Big congrats to you once again on completing this beautiful and heartfelt origin story for Jess, and if I may say so, I feel pretty stoked to have been able to be part of it in some way. I’ve loved thiis character from the start and can’t wait to see where her new life will take her! Bravissima once again. =D=
     
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