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(( Related: [SWTOR] Break (Jacqueline). The following is on Vanessa Rees, the estranged daughter of my SWTOR Smuggler, Jacqueline “Jackie” Rees. ))

Little feet ran through the metal halls of the Dreadnaught�s decks. Armored feet of her escort kept pace behind her. Bidden by a sense of pain, a growing urgency that wasn�t her own yet was so close, Vanessa descended to the crew deck and her mother�s quarters. Countless foreign emotions churned in her mind, each difficult to understand. They came so strongly that tears fell, her small legs outrunning them as they streamed down her cheeks. She never felt a pain like it before.

Entering her mother�s quarters, Vanessa finally saw the face of that pain in full view. Her mother stood ready in the center of the room, a bottle upraised, its contents partly spilled on the floor, her face contorted in a snarling rage. The girl gasped, frightened, almost not recognizing the visage of her mother at first glance. Inexplicably, at least to Vanessa�s eyes, Jacqueline also gasped. She pulled away so suddenly that the bottle shattered on the floor. The sweet but unsettling smell of liquor filled the cabin as it languidly washed over the shattered glass on the floor like jagged boulders in a stream. Her mother backed away like a frightened animal, leaping from a revealing light until she encountered a wall. She slide down against it, collapsing till her head rested in her hands.

�Vanessa, you� you should really be above deck,� Jacqueline�s voice was hoarse, barely above a whisper, a weight on it the child had never heard in a voice before.

�I want to help,� Vanessa pleaded. The earlier fury of emotions she felt was still there, but were put on hold somehow; clamped down on, though barely. Now in the room with Jacqueline, the child could feel them directly emanating from her. They were like her own emotions but far deeper, like a richer crimson against a shallow, primary red. Try as she could to understand them, their depths quickly mesmerized, mystified her. Wading into them momentarily as she tried, she was forced to stop early on their shores, overcome by the matured pain the emotional torrent dealt. Somehow, deep down, she felt as if her mother was on the other side of this ocean, far in the distance, out of sight, out of reach, even though she slumped no more than ten feet from her. She didn�t know what words to use, what words could cross that distance.

�Just please go back upstairs,� her mother replied, her head still bowed. �Don�t� step on the glass. Just� go and��

�Mommy?�

The word silenced Jacqueline. Slowly, she lifted her head. Two sets of brown eyes met, both rimmed in tears. One was deeper set, a depthless color of brown from the span of years, the other a bright glass, shined by the simpler yet still pained tears of a child.

�Mommy?� Vanessa repeated. So overcome by what she felt from her mother, the child couldn�t put it her comfort, her helplessness to full sentences. She wanted to embrace, hug, comfort the tears she saw in her mother�s eyes. Now, she sniffed against her own tears, only able to conjure the one word so many children knew, hoping it was enough.

Seeing the girl’s tears, Jacqueline managed the tiniest smile. �It�s not your fault Vee,� she said. �It�s okay. Go upstairs.�

Fault. That word. Those words. Brembal used them, too. Something about them, how her mother spoke them, the way it felt, it was different to Vanessa. Wading into that ocean, hearing them, those words seem to echo far. Perhaps further than… She stepped forward, mindful of the glass as her mother instructed her, but walking the opposite direction she was told.

�Vanessa — � Jacqueline began.

Whispering, Vanessa spoke four words aloud, calling across the chasm between them. 

Jacqueline stopped, stared. 

Vanessa drew to her, not sure if she was heard the first time. She found her mother frozen in place as she put her arms around her, pulling close to her ear in hopes her whispers could be better heard this time: 

It�s not your fault, Mommy. It�s not your fault.�

Within the child�s tiny arms, Jacqueline shuddered. The tremor began deep, shaking itself to the surface along with a wrenching sob. Vanessa felt the ocean of those emotions spill forth again but also the warmth of her mother�s arms encircling her, enveloping her in an embrace. Clutching onto her child through the storm, Vanessa Rees formed a raft that held them both aloft.

It’s okay, Mommy. It’s not your fault, Mommy. I love you.”

Author Ari
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