by Bernadette Crumb, Courtney Kraft, Ginna Wilcoxen, and Season Irwin

PART I Jerella entered the commercial ship's lounge area, carrying a shoulderduffel just big enough for a few days' worth of belongings, in company with the pilot, who had introduced himself to her as Marvin.

"You were lucky in your timing," Marvin said to her as they came in, "if you hadn't caught this flight, you'd have had to wait another week."

Near the lounge door, a man dressed in casual wear with long black curly hair and chocolate colored skin glanced up at the newcomer as she passed.

He squeezed the woman's hand that rested in his. She turned to him. "You know, I'm a bit thirsty, darling. Let's go get something to drink." She smiled at the person they were chatting with and moved away.

Captain Marvin guided Jerella around the edge of the lounge to the door of the port side forward stateroom. "There should be an empty bunk in here you can use. Make sure you secure your stuff for take off. The lounge chairs are acceleration couches too, so you don't need to be in there when we lift." Jerella nodded her thanks and the Captain left her to enter the stateroom by herself. He headed back towards the outer ramp to finish up the preflight inspection, as she opened the pressure door in front of her. Three of the bunks looked as if they'd been slept in, but the top one on the left was still pristine. "I guess that's mine then," she muttered to herself and tossed the duffel up on the mattress. "Hardly enough room to swing a cat in here."

"Do you think a cat could swing in this small area?" Octavia Syn-Jinn said coming into the small bunkroom behind her. She had seen the new arrival enter and was surprised when the Captain put her in the same cabin she was in. She couldn't explain it, but she was curious about everyone on this ship and why those chose to go to Yavin.

Jerella jumped, startled, and then grinned hesitantly at the woman who entered. "Well, maybe a very small one!"

She paused by Jerella and nodded. "Would have to be very small," she said, looking around the room. "My name is Octavia." She offered her hand to the shorter woman. "I didn't mean to startle you."

"I'm Jerella--" She stopped before giving her "new" last name... She still wasn't comfortable with advertising her odd relationship to the Princess and Master Skywalker. "And it's okay...I was just a bit preoccupied. I'm looking forward to getting back to Yavin."

"You've been there before?" Octavia asked. "What is it like?" She couldn't pass up a chance to get answers from someone who had been there.

Jerella saw a panel set into the wall at the end of her bunk and opened it, finding just enough space to stuff in her duffle. "Hot, humid and wet, but I love it! I've only been there for about six months...since last Life Day, but it's become home to me." She hoisted herself up onto her bunk and began to pull off her boots. "Pardon me, my feet are killing me!"

"Sounds like a nice place. I've spent too many years on ships, a planet would be nice to see for once." She smiled. "I know how that is make yourself comfortable. I know how tiring boots can be."

Jerella pulled a pair of slippers from the duffel and shoved the boots in on top of it, closing the tiny cupboard's door, hoping it would hold shut during the lift off. "They're new and I haven't had a chance to really break them in. Jerella jumped down from the bunk, running her hands over her gray and green jumpsuit to smooth it, her palms skimming over the odd cylindrical bulge in the left thigh pocket, and glanced up at Octavia. "I don't suppose the galley is open while we're groundside, is it? I didn't have enough time for breakfast in the rush to get a booking back to Yavin."

Octavia studied Jerella, trying to figure out why the woman looked somewhat familiar, when she knew she hadn't met her ever before. "I'm not sure, we can check it out if you want. I'd be interested in seeing if they've added anything new."

"Great!" Jerella followed Octavia from the bunkroom.

"It's this way, if I remember correctly." Octavia pointed the way.

The galley had a limited choice, but there were enough munchies to take the edge off of Jerella's hunger and she nodded toward a pair of chairs by a bulkhead counter. "How about over there? Or are all the seats "assigned"?"

"That will be fine. I haven't heard of any seats being assigned. It's basically been first come first serve." Octavia took a seat and waited for Jerella to do the same. "Can I ask you a question about Yavin?"

"Okay..." Jerella stretched out her legs and wiggled her feet as she sat down. "That feels good. I've been cramped up under a navigation console for the past two days trying to install some new modules, but the ones we really needed haven't arrived yet. Rob felt it wasn't wise for me to be away from the Academy much longer, so here I am while he's tracking down parts for the supply ship." She then nodded in answer to Octavia's question. "Sure! Not that I know everything yet, but I'm learning a lot!"

"You mentioned the Academy. Are you a student there?"

Jerella nodded, "Umm-hmmm! A rank beginner, really, when I look at what some of the Masters can do; but I'm getting along. Are you coming to study with us?"

Octavia nodded. "Perhaps. I have to interview with the Masters, that is what Luke Skywalker said. They could always say no." Why did that thought bother her? She never cared if people said no before.

"Well, I've not heard of them rejecting anyone with the slightest bit of Force sensitivity...I wouldn't worry much about it. I hope you're in good physical shape, though... " She grinned ruefully and rubbed at her calf muscles. "We do as much physical training as we do the more esoteric stuff."

"I'm used to the physical stuff," Octavia grinned slyly. "Well, some physcial stuff," she chuckled.

Jerella opened another snack bar. "So, who recruited you? I know several of our people went to Port Lansing."

"Would you believe a ghost?" Octavia answered flippantly.

Jerella raised an eyebrow. "That's--different."

"Well, in a way. I met a student named Rachel and we discussed this dream I had been having and she suggested that I find Master Skywalker. I had decided against it, until I saw the Emperor." Octava shivered slightly. Jerella's face froze momentarily at the mention of the Emperor and she forced herself to react as anyone else would. "I hear he's awfully scary. You mentioned someone recommending that you find Master Skywalker. Did you meet him on Lansing? I know he went there."

"Yes he is, and I have no desire to see him again. As for Master Skywalker, yes I did meet with him and he's on the ship."

Jerella smiled. "Oh! I wasn't expecting to get to see him until I got back to Yavin."

From where they sat, eavesdropping, Benedict's eyes turned back to her husband Soul. She softly said to him, "Okay, so those two are a positive. They say some guy named Skywalker is on the ship too. That's three....sixty-thousand."

"But we need to figure out which one he is first," he replied softly.

Part II
Story Index