Zeva allowed Kaylani to lead the way – the Jedi had never gone ‘shopping’ before, but the pilot seemed to know exactly where to go on the crowded orbital station.
They purchased some supplies to clean the ship, and some functional second-hand outfits. Zeva wanted a new jacket -hers had already been shabby when the Council gave it to her, and she’d mended the blaster-burned right shoulder with electrical tape – but she couldn’t find anything she could afford. It was just as well, really; shiny new clothes might attract more attention.
The two women stopped to look at weapons. Zeva kept an eye on their surroundings while Kay looked in the display cases. To her relief, no one paid any attention to them; there was simply too much going on.
Still, the Imperial presence was oppressive. Squads of stormtroopers stood at nearly every corner, and tiny security droids flitted above, monitoring the crowds. Zeva found some comfort in Kay’s calm, and used that as the foundation for her own peace of mind.
“Could I see this one, please?” Kay asked the droid behind the counter, which took a flimsy-looking blaster pistol out of the case and placed it in her hand. Kay held it up and drew aim on the back wall, frowning.
“You don’t like it, do you?” asked Zeva.
Kay sighed. “I’ve been stung by bugs that’d hurt more, but I ain’t going into that meeting unarmed.” Earlier, Captain Varn had made it clear that bringing illegal weapons to sit-downs with Very Imperial Persons was unacceptable. She tried a different gun. “This is about as good as I’m gonna find, though. Did you want one, too?”
“Blasters are tools of ill omen,” Zeva said, quoting Master Tulu, “and I’m not very good with them.”
“A sword, then? Knife? Baton?”
“No, thank you. I hardly think those would be appropriate things for a seamstress to carry.”
Kay glanced at the Jedi before turning back to the pistol in her hand. “I just don’t want you getting hurt for want of shooting back.”
“I appreciate that, but I can’t afford a weapon right now. And the idea of owning things is still new to me.”
Kay returned the blaster to the droid and turned fully to Zeva. “What do you mean?”
“We don’t believe in materialism.” Fortunately, Kay understood who ‘we’ were, saving Zeva from saying ‘Jedi’ aloud. “Possessions distract us from… from what’s important.”
“Oh. Well, I could buy two, then, and you could borrow one. Then it doesn’t really belong to you.” Kay smiled in triumph.
“I thought you were short of cash.”
Kay shrugged and turned back to the display cases. “A bit. But, like I said, I don’t want you to get hurt.”
“You’re too kind. Believe me, I’ll be fine,” Zeva said. “Maybe once we’ve made a little more money.”
Kay wanted to continue the discussion, but broke off when she found the blaster she needed. After arranging license and payment, they were on their way.
- – - – -
On their way back to the Silent Destiny, Kay stopped in front of a store window, her attention captured by a slinky dress of brilliant red. Zeva looked from the dress to Kay, then back again.
“Kay? What is it?”
Zeva scratched her head. The dress would rip with any sudden movement, and would be transparent to cold weather. It seemed impractically long, with a purposeless slit up either side, and didn’t cover arms at all. A woman would need an undershirt to cover her front and back… and where would she hide a weapon?
Still, there was something about it that enthralled Kay… something that Zeva couldn’t comprehend, but could almost sense, just out of reach… then Zeva saw the price tag and laughed. “Are they serious?” asked the Jedi. “People pay that much for… for a red handkerchief?”
Kay nodded. “Some people. Not people like us, sure, but some people.”
“The appeal is lost on me.”
A look that Zeva couldn’t read came over Kay’s face. Disappointment, maybe? “Oh. Yeah. We should get back to the ship.”
“Kay, what is it? Did I upset you?”
“No. Come on, let’s go.”
Zeva reached for Kay’s shoulder and turned the pilot to face her. “Please, Kay.”
Kay looked back over Zeva’s shoulder at the dress. “I just… I know it’s expensive and stupid, but I thought… I’d look nice in it.”
Zeva turned to look back at the window; as she imagined Kaylani in the dress, everything made sense. The dress’s exposures took on a different air when her mind filled them with Kay’s rich golden skin, just as the curves of Kay’s body somehow became more real when hugged by the red fabric. Somehow, both Kay and the dress had each revealed things about the other that Zeva had not seen before.
Something Master Tulu had told her rang in Zeva’s ears, the words unclear. She blinked in confusion; when she opened her eyes again, she simply saw the dress on the mannequin. Zeva stared at it for a brief eternity before finally saying “Yes. Yes, you’d look very nice.”
Well, she thought, that sounded stupid. She turned to apologize, but Kay had already started back toward the ship. Fortunately, she hadn’t gotten far before realizing that she’d left Zeva behind.
They talked for the rest of the trip – Kay did most of the talking, really – and by the time Zeva reached the Silent Destiny, Zeva knew what she had to do.