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(( The following is on a SWTOR character of mine, Vanessa, the estranged daughter of Jacqueline “Jackie” Rees and currently in Brembal’s care. ))

Though space-bound ships never experienced sunrise as planets or moons do, Vanessa was quick to establish a morning routine. Bed never held her long and in the early morning hours, she sprung from the covers to wake Brembal and Bedisa. On some days, she leapt onto their bed, abruptly waking them both, and others she slipped in as quietly as a 5-year-old was convinced she could, hoping to sneak a few moments combing through Bedisa�s long hair. It was a different texture than Vanessa�s and delightfully held a braid all on its own. The Jedi was always so kind and patient with her, though not without firmer moments to keep the child on task with her lessons. Mornings were most fun when Vanessa could spend a few stolen moments playing with soft yet springy locks only Bedisa�s hair had. Sometimes Vanessa would catch Brembal looking at her as she snuck another morning braiding session. She�d grin at him, give him a hug, and almost flee from the bed, darting off to start the day�s lessons as she knew she dutifully should.

Her lessons were a mix of academics and, simply, play. She enjoyed her time on the bridge the most, shadowing the technicians as they completed their work day. Each of them entertained her for as long as she�d linger in their steps, though notably with a tense occasional glance over their shoulder. The young child didn�t notice, instead transfixed by the various consoles they tinkered with.

�What�s this?�

�What makes the ship go faster?�

�How do you turn the ship upside down?�

�How do you go to this one?�

�How do you know which planet is which?�

When the answer to the last question was recognizing the look of the planet and reading its name on the screen, Vanessa sprinted to Bedisa and begged her for an impromptu reading lesson. Reading was hardly the child�s favorite subject since it forced her to sit still for painfully long periods at a time, but her motivation shifted quickly at the idea of knowing every planet and moon in the galaxy. Or at least, as many as she could memorize.

Vanessa was hardly without escort. Even on the bridge with countless eyes about her, she was watched carefully by dedicated guards. The only rooms she was left to herself were her bedroom and training room. The latter was immense and looked out over the ship�s hangar, her second-favorite viewport aside from the bridge. On the bridge, she was convinced the wide viewport took in the sight of the galaxy�s every star. In her training room, she gaped at the one-pilot fighters leaving and arriving in the ship�s hangar. 

Like the windows on Nar Shadda, she occupied the viewport for long hours, watching how the ships moved. She was inexplicably drawn to them and often, through the Force, would attempt to move her own toy ships much like the real ones below. Her skills rudimentary, she found various degrees of success and failure in this determined venture. Simply floating the ships in place came easiest, but moving them proved far more difficult, especially in the graceful patterns she observed the acrobatic ships making outside the viewport. After much experimentation, she successfully taught herself to churn the toy ships in place, rotating like a real ship would to nestle itself tightly in the hangar bay. Eventually, she learned to nudge her toy forward a few inches at a time. With each success, she�d break into jubilation at her accomplishment and the toy would abruptly drop to the floor. She quickly learned from these disappointments that concentration had to be strictly maintained when using the Force. Unfortunately, a steady stream of concentration was a young child�s greatest bane. With great effort, she extended the length of her concentration in tiny increments, one session at a time, to the point that her second and third greatest adversaries were the eventual hunger pangs in her stomach and an unsatisfied pool of young energy that drove her to abandon the long hours Force playing and opt for running about the ship instead.

On the eve of many tiny such victories, Vanessa rewarded herself with another window-watching session, taking in the hangar below. Its crew always wove between the fighters, maintaining them, refueling them, keeping the one-pilot ships ready to scramble at a moment�s notice. It fascinated her. The crew acted as one, professional, practiced, and efficient. The hangar was one of the few places she was not permitted to go, unknowingly to her it was deemed too hazardous for her to visit in person, even with strict supervision. So she was relegated to the viewport, gazing at the goings on below, and it was then she was struck with a child�s idea.

Reaching a hand out, Vanessa concentrated carefully on one of the parked fighters. She wanted to see it move, if even a little, much like how Brembal once held out his hand on Nar Shadda and pulled a moving speeder towards her window. His power in the Force dwarfed hers, capturing a distant moving vehicle and pulling it against its own propulsion so a child could gaze at both it and him in wonder. But this fighter was stationary, far closer than the one Brembal grasped, and perhaps if she concentrated enough, she could move it, too. If even a little.

For long moments, nothing happened. Biting her lip, Vanessa tried to concentrate harder. Sometimes, more concentration helped her achieve tiny daring feats with her toy ships. Certainly, the same principle could apply to the real ones. Her brow wrinkled in concentration, her small hand still reaching out, Vanessa kept up her efforts, willing the fighter to move just an inch.

It moved, shuddering ever so slightly. Vanessa blinked in surprise, breaking her concentration. The fighter settled back into place. She pressed her face against the window, searching for a pilot or crewman who surely must have moved the ship themselves. But the fighter was alone, currently parked and refueling. Certainly that tiny movement was from her own efforts.

Reaching out her hand, she tried again. It took several moments to reach her previous level of concentration. Again, the ship moved, ever so slightly, lifting a few inches from the hangar floor, its movement barely visible except to the child so determined to play with it. The victory excited her and again her concentration broke. The ship dropped to the floor unceremoniously, an echoing clang drew the attention of the crew, which perhaps spared a few from the fatal events that occurred next: Jostled by the unnatural motion, the fuel line disconnected, fuel split on the floor, and an errant spark from metal grinding on metal set it aflame. The flames spread quickly, stemmed only by one crewman�s quick actions to cut the fuel line and prevent more spillage, but the flames were otherwise eager and able to lap up anything in their wake. Alarms screamed and crew scrambled, taking up emergency positions to contain the flames. Amid the chaos, crew dragged away fellows burned by the fire as others battled to contain the growing threat. 

Caught wide-eyed in the sight of the escalating danger in the hangar, Vanessa turned from the viewport and ran. Her feet pounded on the deck, outrunning both the horrid sight and her tears, running in a direction she somehow knew to go. She sought out Brembal, quickly finding him without instruction in spite of the immense nature of the ship. She was driven by an innate feeling, without understanding it fully, but heeding its call. He was of course surrounded by officers, being briefed on the situation below deck. The child cut directly to him, taking up his hand and tugging hard. The old man looked down at her.

�I�m sorry!� she pleaded with him, tears in her eyes. �It�s my fault, I�m so sorry! I did it! It�s my fault!�

Looking at her, the alarms of the ship still blaring, Brembal slowly smiled.

Author Ari
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