Zeva made her way around the ring corridor to Silent Destiny’s crew quarters and knocked on the door. “Captain Varn?” she called. “It’s me, Zeva.” Had she even given her name back on Erawlon? The whole episode had been such a blur… when no answer came, she knocked again.
She heard the captain say “Why are you kno… oh, right. Come in, Jedi.”
Zeva opened the door to find Kes sitting on her bed, to the left of the door. The Zabrak had removed her shirt to examine the holes in it, and seemed at ease in her undershirt. The room itself was a tiny mess. A bed stood against each of the three walls away from the door; clothes and other possessions lay strewn about. Zeva wondered if the bulkheads were full, to have so many things unstowed. She also wondered, if she was to stay with this ship, where she would sleep.
“Thank you,” Zeva said, and began looking around for somewhere to sit. “Am I interrupting?”
Kes shook her head and gestured to the bed on the right. Once Zeva cleared a spot, it seemed terribly inviting. She sat, rather than lay, upon it. “Can you sew?” Kes asked suddenly.
“Some. Let me see it.” Kes tossed the shirt to Zeva, and pointed at the sewing kit at the foot of the bed, balanced precariously on the footlocker there. “Yes, I can mend this.”
“Sure.” Zeva got to work, counting her blessings. Master Tulu insisted that I learn this, since one never knows when it’ll be useful. My eyes and hands are finally cooperating. Oh, and I’m alive. Mustn’t overlook that.
“Zeeva, right?” She felt the captain’s eyes on her. “I’m bad with names.”
“ZAY-va. Yes. Though I might be better off with an alias now. Kaylani told me about what happened to the Jedi… about the Empire.”
She glanced up to see Kes frowning. “Sorry, kid. Are you… okay? Can you see enough to sew?”
“I feel better… physically, anyway. I’m not sure I’d call myself okay, though. I mean, everything I was… that I ever wanted to be… has been outlawed. And everyone I ever cared about is gone.” She moved on to the next rip in the shirt, fighting to keep her hands from shaking. “I keep hoping I’ll wake up. Or sense the dark side spirit that’s testing me. But this… this is real, isn’t it?”
“Yeah.” Kes seemed at a loss for words. “Sorry, kid. I know that’s really not enough, but… that’s really all I have to offer you. How old are you?”
Zeva looked at the ceiling. “Nineteen. Well, twenty-eight, if you count the nine years I missed. But I don’t feel like I should.”
Kes gave a low whistle. “Damn, kid. And you fight that well? What did they teach you in Jedi School?”
“I learned abount the Force. Truth be told, I’ve never been in many fights. I just had a good teacher. Your voice,” she said, glancing up at Kes. “It reminds me of hers.” She turned her attention back down to the shirt. “People believed the Emperor? When he said that the Jedi betrayed the Republic?”
“Yep.” Kes nodded and leaned back. “Why wouldn’t they? He’d finagled the politics to save everyone. Jedi were weird to people, so… Not much of a stretch.”
“I know what you mean. Many Jedi didn’t spend much time with… people. People outside the Order. Myself among them.” Eva took a deep breath, then asked, “Did you believe it?”
Kes shrugged. “I didn’t care at the time. I just stayed out of it as best I could. Imps didn’t make it easy, but we stuck to the edges.”
She was telling the truth, Zeva was sure. Captain Varn and Kaylani might be criminals, she thought, but so are you. And you’re not likely to find other trustworthy criminals any time soon. Flipping the shirt over, she asked, “And you still ‘stick to the edges?’”
“Yep. Survival.” She tilted her head at Zeva. “I guess you don’t have a place to stick, do you? Or maybe you do, I don’t know your situation. But you’re young, and you’re a wanted sort – not safe for you on your own.”
“No,” Zeva said. “I don’t have anywhere else to go. That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”
“Look, kid. You’ve got a good arm. You’re nice enough, I think. You saved our lives, given our luck. Not sure about how I feel about your Jedi senses and such, but you can sew.” She gave her a small grin. "If you can pull your weight, add your hand… We can keep you here. We’re not the best – you’ve got Casper’s ship for that – but – " She leaned in conspiratorially. " – I think we’re better." Her grin broadened.
I saved your life? Zeva thought, then pushed the notion aside. She’d always been fascinated by life debt – the idea that, in some cultures, someone whose life had been saved was obligated to protect their savior, even unto death. It doesn’t matter who saved whom, she thought. The Force binds us all together… some bonds are just stronger than others.
“I’m not great at sewing,” she said, tossing the mended shirt back to Kes. “But something tells me I’ll have ample opportunity to practice.”
Kes pretended to be insulted. “Laugh it up.”
I don’t know how else to face this, she thought, but put on a crooked smile all the same. “It’s in a Jedi’s nature to serve. But it doesn’t feel like coincidence that I’ve come to serve you. It feels more like… destiny.”
Kes’s grin diminished, but didn’t leave her face. “Sure, kid. Whatever you say. Destiny, the Force, magic. I believe ya. Glad to have you around, anyway.” She rises. “But, uh, one thing.”
“While you’re in here, in this room – don’t touch that footlocker over there.” She pointed to the foot of her bed, her face suddenly solemn.
“Sure,” she said after a pause. “You’re the captain. Um, Captain.”
Kes smiled again. “Atta girl.”
Zeva had always believed in the Jedi ideal that nothing truly belonged to any one person, but she was no longer among the Jedi… “This ship’s my new Order; you’re the one-woman High Council. Etcetera.”
“I don’t know about all that. I don’t do well with responsibilities, kid. That was my husband.” She rolled her eyes. “After a fashion, I guess.”
Husband? Was? This isn’t the time to ask. “Responsibility is another Jedi speciality. So…. where will I sleep?”
Kes scratched her head. “Right. Well, Kay sleeps in the bed you’re on, so you can have that one.” She pointed to the bed across from the door, buried under piles of… things. “Unless you really want Kay’s – I don’t recommend it, personally, you end up with cooking utensils coming out your nose – in which case, you could pester her for it.”
“No, I don’t want to disturb your current arrangements.”
“All right. We split up chores, except cooking, Kay does that most often. I burn things. Get distracted, forget it’s cooking. Usually a day-to-day thing.”
“I see. I’m not of a cook, either. I definitely can’t compare to Kay. She seems nice.” What a strange thing to say.
Kes didn’t seem to notice, frowning at something on the ceiling. “She’s very nice. Nice girl. She’ll talk your ears off if you let her.”
That didn’t sound terrible to Zeva,. She found her attention drawn to the ceiling, as well. “What are you looking at?”
“There’s a crack. That’s not good.” She looked back at Zeva. “I’ll have to fix that.” She smacked the wall behind her. “Y’hear that, ya bucket of bolts? I’m gonna fix that, whether you like it or not!”
Zeva’s smile broke on a yawn. “Your relationship with the ship is… different from Kay’s.”
She snorted. “This ship hates me. Hated me from the moment I stepped on it. Smacked me with the same loose pipe three different times. I refuse to admit it has a gender, it’s a ship!” Something creaked, as if protesting. “Kay loves it, though, and it loves her. She panders to it, calls it ‘girl’, bla bla bla. I don’t buy it. It’s a deathtrap. My deathtrap, but a deathtrap.”
Silent Destiny wasn’t just a ship that belonged to Captain Varn and Kay; it was their home. And it was also Zeva’s home, now. The very idea made her smile again. “If there’s nothing you need from me,” she said, “I thought I’d try to get some rest before we reach Velcor’s Cross.”
“Nope. Go ahead.” Kes stepped towards the door. “I’ll let you sleep. Did you eat? You look so thin.”
“I had a little soup, yes. It’s strange, to be tired after nine years of inactivity, but I spent a few hours doing nothing but shaking…”
Kes frowned. “You woke up not knowing where you were, running after crazy mercenaries, evading bullets and asteroids on a strange ship with a bunch of strangers. If I were you, I’d be dead on my feet from just yelling. Get some sleep, kid.”
Zeva nodded and got up to clear off the third bed. As the Jedi sat to pull off her boots, Kes hesitated by the door. With a wink, she said, “I dunno. Do they still tuck in kids your age?”
“Earlier, Kay said she would tuck both of us in.”
Kes raised an eyebrow in confusion, and shrugged. “I suppose she could do that. I’ll leave that to her, then.”
“I assure you,” Zeva said with a straight face, “it’s not necessary.”
Kes snorted. “If you’re sure you’re sure – sleep tight, kiddo.”
Zeva climbed into the bed and her eyes fluttered shut. “Thank you, Captain Varn.” Again, with more emphasis: “Thank you.”
Kes turned out the lights and left the room.
Zeva slept, but did not dream.