(( Related: . The following is on my SWTOR smuggler, Captain Jacqueline “Jackie” Rees. ))
One leg draped over the arm of her captain’s chair, Jacqueline mulled over the holo display. The cockpit of the Gunstar was less a single-man fighter cockpit and more a reformed bridge, filled wall to wall with computers and displays. The captain sat at the center of it, lounging in her chair and a glass of whiskey in one hand, yet her focus fully on the data processing on the screen.
Spotting one line, she smiles. “There you are,” and with a tap of a button, she sent a holocall.
A woman appeared on the screen. She was young, her hair yellow but dyed with a variety of bright colors. From her casual attire, she seemed interrupted from somewhere at home. Though the holo left quality partly distorted, the swap from mundane boredom to complete shock was plain and obvious. She gasped, staring at Jacqueline like a woman seeing a ghost.
“The hell?!” she blurted, eyes bulging. “Is this some kind of joke?”
“Nope,” Jacqueline answered matter-of-factly, sipping her drink and wiggling her fingers about the glass in an improvised wave. “How’ve you been, Cheska?” She grinned through the glass.
“I hear that. A lot. Kinda hurts my feelings.”
“You’re dead! Where the fu -“
Jacqueline cut her off. “Dead, Ches. Definitely dead. Officially, anyway. All the data is legit. Everything’s there but a funeral.”
“And a damn body.”
“Well, yeah. I’m a slicer, not a magician.”
Pounding her hand on the table, Cheska unleashed a flurry of curse words, momentarily disappearing from the screen. The captain waited, allowing the woman to rant, choice words and expletives sounded off between bouts of static as Cheska paced from one end of the room to the other. Finally, she reappeared on the display, no less incensed than before but at least standing in one place.
“You better have a good damn reason to come to me, acting like nothing happened. No apologies, and you’re alive, and you’re drinking...”
“Damn right I am. Even a dead girl needs her comforts. And of course I’d call for a reason,” Jacqueline leans back in her chair, taking a sip. “So, how’re you?” Her tone straight-up conversational.
Cheska’s eyes bulged again. Her anger nearly reverberated through the holo itself. “Seriously? Just fuck off right now.”
“I mean it, Ches. I’m on the outside but still hear things. Something’s shaking up. You’re maybe one of two I can trust. The hell is going on?”
Cheska stared at Jacqueline a long moment, then sighed. Running a hand through her hair, she replies, suddenly sounding very tired: “Yeah, it’s another shake up. A big one. Not sure if I’ll make it through this time. When you called… yeah. I thought it was some kind of test. Thought I was really, truly screwed this time.”
“Test? Like what, some kind of loyalty test?”
“Shit, they know we were close. And your name keeps coming up, and not in a good way. You left with a bang, V -“
“- Not my name anymore,” Jacqueline interrupted, leaning forward in her chair. Her earlier amusement was gone. “Seriously, Ches. S’why I reached out. Even I picked up that something big was coming. The inside must be crazy. If they’re doing some kind of purge, you gotta get out.”
“And what, take out half a sector and leave kids like me dry?” Cheska smiled, partly joking, mostly bitter. “After you, it wasn’t all that easy. Hell, I don’t even think this frequency is safe.”
“C’mon, you doubt me? It’s fine. You could use this frequency for your damn holo diary.” Waving a dismissive hand, Jacqueline leaned forward: “What else is going on? Who’s leading this time?”
Raising an eyebrow, Cheska mutters: “So not just calling about me, huh? What, you just want to pump a girl for information?”
Jacqueline chuckles, looking down. “You got smarter,” Looking up, she smiles, a bit of pride to her voice. “Okay, fine. Yeah. They’re sniffing, Ches. Want to know if they actually know something.”
“Yeah, well. Obviously I don’t know anything about it, because up till a minute ago, I thought you were dead. If they know something, I don’t. Screw you, by the way. I’m not over the dead thing. That was stupid. Really stupid.”
“Missed you too, Ches,” Jacqueline winked at her, then set her glass aside. “You need to get out. I can help you. Don’t have to do it like I did, probably actually would be stupid. And takes too much work.”
“Yeah, you were always the flashy type.”
“Hey, explosions are pretty.”
Staring at Jacqueline, Cheska suddenly smiles. “You haven’t changed,” momentarily, she appears relieved. Days, perhaps years of stress appear in lines on her face. “Just for a second there, felt like the old days.”
“Heh,” picking up her glass again, Jacqueline takes a sip. “Maybe just a bit.” She trailed off, staring momentarily at the console. After a while: “So, you getting out?”
“Yeah. Not with you, though. If they’re sniffing, I don’t want to know. I got enough trouble. Just… damn it. Maybe don’t wait so long to talk to me next time.”
“Don’t want a next time.”
“You know what I mean.”
“Yeah,” Jacqueline replied, looking at her glass. The silhouette of her stooped in her chair, the holo display lighting her dark outline; she stared down into her glass and was the image of a woman weighted with many thoughts. “Alrighty. I’ll be in touch. Get out fast. Don’t do anything I’d do.”
“Learned that a long time ago.”
“Good,” Jacqueline grinned, sitting up and waving cheerfully. “Hi, by the way. So, I’m not dead. Surprise!”
Cheska laughed, “You’re such an asshole.”
“You love it.”
The call ended. As the light from the console faded, so did Jacqueline’s grin. She sat in the dark, her hand clasping the glass of whiskey, slowly swirling what was left of the contents.
“Shit,” she said to no one, then downed the glass.