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(( RelatedSWTOR Journal (Brembal): Parental Consent. The following is on my SWTOR smuggler, Captain Jacqueline “Jackie” Rees. Or is that her real name? ))

In the silence of the cockpit, Jacqueline Rees nursed a glass of whiskey alone. Her dark brown hair, though only just past her chin, hid most her face. Her eyes stared at a distance far further than the metal confines of her ship.

—-

Coruscant at its upper levels was a world of luxury and decadence. The crown jewel of the galaxy and civilization, topped by the golden tower of the Republic Senate. Its lower levels were dark and crowded, lawless and bereft of even the most basic conveniences. Food, water, shelter, safety, each sparked small wars between the desperate in the streets.

Better Black Sun than no sun,� some whispered to each other. At the depth of despair, any hint of light was clung to, no matter how foul its source and intent.

Within the cramped confines of a mechanic shop, two girls worked elbows deep on a large vehicle. One was taller, older, tattooed and with auburn hair cropped nearly to the scalp. The other was younger, smaller, of darker complexion with dark brown hair just past her chin. The eldest barked orders to the younger, clearly the lead of the two.

�Hey, Jackie!� A sneering voice called, echoing through the shop.

The elder girl rolled her eyes and looked up. �Yeah?�

A young man come in, smirking. His gait a swagger, his eyes boldly staring. �Jackie, Jackie, dearest Jackie,� he shook his head, opening his arms toward the auburn-haired teenager. She glared back at him, arms crossed with a heavy wrench clasped in one hand. �You got to give me the money. S�all I ask for.� He cocked a finger at her, mimicking the barrel of a blaster pointed towards her chest. �We can�t keep watching these streets if we can�t buy the guns for the job. You see our plight. Everybody’s gotta pay up.�

The younger, dark-haired girl hesitantly popped up from behind the swoop. �Jackie?� She interrupted them. �Is he� are� are you OK?�

Go home, Vee,� the auburn-haired Jackie snapped. �This is gang stuff. Remember what I said about gangs?�

�Yeah,� said Vee unsteadily, eyeing the man. She strayed only a moment before hastily heading toward the exit. The older girl�s voice followed her:

Keep going, Vee. Don�t turn around.�

—-

Vee entered her home through its only second-story window. Pinching aside a makeshift latch, she slipped inside her bedroom. She heard the muffled sounds of shuffling, swearing, and glass breaking through the closed door. A fist banged upon it, its rhythm drunken and punctuated with curse words.

�Vee! Where�s my whiskey? You didn�t… take it, did you Vee?� A man yelled through the door, his words slurring. 

�I don�t have it!� Vee yelled back. The banging against the door continued, threatening to bust it open. It was held firm not by one, but multiple locks, many of which appeared improvised and added to the door presumably by Vee herself. �Go away!� She told him, clutching her hands against her ears.

�You took it again, didn�t you? Damn you! Worthless piece of — � Another bang against the door overtook his words. �You� open the door! I�m your fucking father, open the� open the damn door!� His drunken rant continued, raging against the breaking door.

Get out!� Vee screamed, holding her head in her hands. �I didn�t take it!� As the door bent against its locks, she retreated to the window again, undoing her makeshift lock and fleeing into the dark. 

—-

At night, the lower levels of Coruscant somehow managed to grow darker. Staving off the cold, the homeless huddled against barely functioning generators or makeshift fire pits. No lawmen patrolled the streets. The only show of force came from men and women wearing armor adorned with a black circle spiked in the shape of a sun. Heavily armed and with the swagger to show it, they cut through the streets like self-imposed authority.

Vee walked the dark streets alone, rubbing her arms. Though by far the smallest of the vagrants tonight, she was overlooked, hardly a unique fixture. Finding an open piece of pipe of a dried-up spillway, she climbed into it and curled into a ball. Below her, she could hear one of the destitute whisper amongst themselves as the armored gang members stalked by:

Better Black Sun than no sun.�

Curling tighter against the cold, Vee fell asleep with her face streaked tight with dried tears.

—-

In the silent cockpit of her vessel, Jacqueline Rees sat with a thousand-yard stare. Her hand held an empty glass of whiskey. Suddenly, she snatched up the bottle and threw it across the room. The glass shattered against an empty bulkhead wall and whiskey spilled, the amber liquid weaving through the shards scattered on the floor like a thin, thirsty river between sharp rocks. Rubbing a hand over her face, she sobbed aloud:

Shit…�

Author Ari
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