Returning to the Rebel
safehouse in the city of Rhire on Rhinnal, Jelena Rodney
had not said much, as she silently reflected on having
seen Htaere and Kerrie once again. She really was alive,
she thought to herself. It was not that she did not
believe Parka, but rather seeing her with her own eyes
caused it to sink in. When they arrived the door was
harder to open than usual, and she entered she quickly
discovered why ... the heating unit had died. "Ugh," she
groaned, following with an exasperated sigh, before
turning her attention to Parka. "Can you get your
boyfriend to fix it?" she asked, teasing her about
Commander Atio, as she quickly moved towards it. She did
not know the first thing about engineer, so all she
could think of was giving it a couple of kicks, but the
unit did not activate.
"Not my boyfriend," Parka
insisted, scowling at the cold. "And yes, I'll talk to
him. If you can sit tight for a short while, I'll get on
the horn ASAP. Any other requests while I'm at it?"
"Oh. Sorry. He *likes* you
though," Jelena said, looking for something to talk
about besides what had happened in the marketplace. She
was still a teenage girl, after all, and she could
notice things like that as notions of love had not yet
been driven from her by age. "Is it safe here?" she
asked, turning to look at Parka for reassurance, before
sliding her hands in the pockets of her jacket, and
tried to keep warm.
"Derek likes almost anything
with female parts," Parka dismissed the comment. She put
her hands on her hips and thought for a moment. "Yes, I
do believe it is...but...now that I think of it, I don't
think you should stay." She nodded in affirmation. "Why
don't you pack whatever stuff you have. I'll bring you
with me. Not that I think Htaere or Kerrie would do
anything to voluntarily betray what they learned
but...no telling what the Empire itself might try." She
started to move back out the door, pausing. "Besides,
last I heard, Princess Leia wasn't hiding in a bunker.
She is out, eyeballs deep in the action. Let's get you
out of here."
It did not take much coaxing
to get Jelena to move towards her bunk, and fill her
duffle bag with the small possessions she had taken with
her from when she left the Warspite, and from her room
back on Delaya. She was then quick to move towards
Parka, a smile forming upon her face as the thought of
excitement fueled her. "Did they ask about me again?"
she asked, nonchalantly in the way only a teenager
could. She wanted to know what happened, she just did
not want Parka to know that she wanted to know.
"Who?" Parka asked, waiting
patiently, eyes shifting from down the corridor to
"You know who..." Jelena
said, referring to Kerrie and Htaere, before shifting
uncomfortably in her large coat. "We never really talked
about what happened," she said, quietly, looking down at
the ground, rather than the Hapan that was beside her.
"Oh!" Parka smacked her own
forehead. "Seriously?" she shot the girl a scrutinizing
look. "I thought they gave you an earbud to listen in.
And...Htaere gave me this to give to you. The reason she
wanted to meet was to make sure you were alive,
Jelena reached out with a
delicate hand and took the message from Parka. "Did you
read it?" she nervously asked her, looking down at the
ground. Awkwardly she scuffed her foot back and forth
against the ground, as she had been unprepared for this.
"No. I didn't listen. I didn't want to..." she added,
uncomfortably, as she had hoped when she fled her family
she would not have to look back.
"Didn't read it, or listen
to it, or whatever she concocted," Parka replied
casually. "Just had the folks in IT give a little scan
to make sure she didn't put any ugly little bugs in it."
While waiting for Jelena, Parka wasted a bit of time on
her own datapad, reviewing any communications or new
assignments from Derek or his superiors.
Jelena stared at the disk
for a moment, as she debated whether or not she should
listen to it. Her hand trembled and part of her
considered just throwing it to the ground and smashing
it. Reluctantly she moved towards a player that was
sitting upon one of the tables. Her small feminine form
was again trembling, but this time it was not the cold,
but a sense of dread as to what the message might
contain. Finally, mustering what courage she had, she
inserted the datadisk into the device, and waited for
the message to play.
The small holo flickered to
life to reveal the grainy figure of Htaere. Only ten
years Jelena's senior, her stepmother looked pleasant as
usual, yet subtly plagued. "Jelena, I hope this message
finds you well. I wish to remain as neutral as possible
amid the family disruption, so I shall keep this brief.
I understand your frustration, and whatever your reasons
for choosing such a definitive side, I am happy to see
you exercise that freedom and choice. Your father
believes this was an act of coercion. His sole obsession
has been your recovery." Htaere paused, finding the
words to come difficult. "I hope to see you again,
though I would sincerely advise never returning here
again. I know what awaits you if you do, perhaps you do
too, and despite his claims, your father will have no
power to stop that." Htaere released the grave
expression she'd not realized she'd taken on, and
managed a slight nod and an endearing smile. "I wish you
the very best. I find myself...envious of your escape."
Jelena silently listened to
Htaere's words, the very mention of her father causing a
conflicted wave of pain and emotion to flow over her,
nearly causing her to break. She trembled slightly, her
knees buckling, as she moved to turn it off, but instead
knocked it fromt the table, shattering it. Her eyes
closed tightly and she began to backpedal towards the
nearest chair. It was only at this moment that she truly
came to the realization that she no longer had a family.
It was more than just her father ... it was Dru, Ewwie,
her grandparents ... all of it was gone from her life.
She could find no words to speak to Parka or to anyone,
but instead sat there in silence, in utter dejection,
with her head hung low.
Parka's attention was pulled
towards the room, a singular eyebrow arching. "No time
for your sorrows now," she noted. "Your family will be
fine. But there are a many in the galaxy who are not,
and need help." Parka tucked away her personal datapad
and shifted. "If you're coming with me, take another 30
seconds to collect yourself and your stuff, and then
soldier up. Choice is yours. Just make it quickly."
Jelena used every one of
those 30 seconds to gather herself, before raising from
the chair to move towards her duffle bag. "Coming," she
said, before throwing the bag over her shoulder ...
likely the only time in her young life she had carried
the bag herself. "Well this is one place I'm not going
to miss," she said to Parka, as she exited the structure
for the untold adventures that were to come.