Across from the Cutting Edge, JT sees Tcho step out of the salon. He does not signal her in any way, just as they agreed; part of the purpose of this whole charade is to make sure JT is blameless in Imperial eyes. She points him out to Ursa saying, “There’s that Pantoran.”
Ursa snaps, “Renault!” to order her troopers into action, but the sergeant is already charging across the floor. JT watches as Tcho makes good time disappearing from her view and then turns her attention back to Ursa. “Do you have any additional information on this man’s habits in case he gets away again?” the woman asks her.
JT considers for a moment, wondering how she can get the chase back on track if Tcho does inadvertently slip his pursuers. “Uh, last time I saw him, I think he was heading for the observation deck.”
Ursa Diol frowns a little. At least the event planner’s head is no longer stuck in her gala, but that is useless: a one-time point of data, not a trend. She appreciates that Jai Tessa has brought this criminal to her attention, but clearly the younger woman is now just saying things she thinks Ursa wants to hear, trying to seem more helpful even when she has nothing of value to contribute. Jai Tessa begins heading in the opposite direction of the pursuit, and Ursa turns to accompany her for a bit. “We appreciate that you took the moff’s words to heart and have been thinking about these things,” she assures her.
JT is pleased to have Ursa’s good will, but it is also inconvenient right now. She has somewhere she needs to be if the Blue Streak is going to make her next appearance on time. Ursa continues to offer advice, speaking about the value of meditation for calming and centering, particularly as to how it pertains to dealing with the moff. This is all very useful for later, and JT does not really want to derail her, but the moff intervention is a future problem, and the Tcho rescue is a present one. “I really appreciate everything you’re saying, and I’d like to hear more, but I have some things I need to take care of. Can we circle back to that later? You could make an appointment, or I’d be happy to have a sidebar with you at the gala during my downtime there.”
Ursa waves a hand dismissively and offers to carry one of her many bags. “No need to bother about appointments. We can just walk and talk.”
“Oh, uh, great. I can introduce you to the singer.” Ursa will slow her down a little, but JT is still confident she can reach Lo Strimm’s quarters on time. Maybe she will get called away… JT takes advantage of the opportunity to talk about the necessity of her charity some more. “Not everyone is aware of how many orphans there are in the galaxy. Yes, the Empire is very powerful, but war has still ravaged the galaxy, and there are a lot of scars that some people just don’t take notice of.”
Ursa nods in agreement with much of what JT says. Then, as they pass a tech shop with windows full of holo screens, the older woman pauses. JT turns to see what has caught her attention and reads the headline “Unrest on Naboo.” A look of upset alarm covers her companion’s face. “Are you okay?” JT asks her. “I’m sorry; I’ve taken you away from your work. I’ve got all this gala stuff that I’ve got to do, but I don’t need to involve you in that, day in, day out. You should just take it easy.” She tries to reassure the woman, “It sounds like your sergeant is on top of things. He seems a really driven fellow. So, why don’t you get some rest? I’ll call you tomorrow and we can meet then.” JT repeats herself, drawing on the Force. “You should get some rest,” she insists. Who would ever have thought that I’d be trying so hard to get rid of Ursa Diol?
“Hmm?” With the news report before her, Ursa’s mind is lightyears from the chase taking place at this very moment. Indeed, she has barely paid any attention to what the woman has been saying just now. “I’m not concerned about that. Renault will handle it or he will fail. Right now, though, my planet is in turmoil.”
JT looks at the scenes of injured Stormtroopers and dead Gungans. She has seen worse herself, and even Naboo has been in worse shape. “Yeah,” she allows, “unrest isn’t good. But there’s been a lot worse, even on Naboo, right? You were invaded at one point. My homeworld was invaded, too. A lot of other worlds have been invaded. But this,” she gestures at the screens, “is a local problem that you can solve, it’s not—”
“This isn’t an invasion. This is Naboo tearing itself apart. We should be there,” Ursa insists, clearly referring to herself and the moff. “We should be dialoguing. Instead we’re here.”
“So…. Why are you here? Is this new?” JT asks, looking back at the huge monitors. “The report says continuing unrest. This isn’t the first thing that happened, right? Why are you on this cruise, then?”
“This level of unrest is new,” Ursa grants. That Naboo’s affairs have made it onto galactic news means that things have escalated well beyond where they stood when last she was home. As she watches, the report goes on to describe how Gungans sabotaged oil rigs in Lake Paonga and refineries along its shores. At the clips of wounded Stormtroopers and blasted Gungans, she wonders how things escalated so quickly. She pulls her eyes away to look back at her companion. “It was my idea to take the cruise back. I wanted to give the moff time to think. But I didn’t know…” She turns back to the images of violence. “I didn’t know things on Naboo were going to come to a head like this. I just… I didn’t want him doing anything hasty.”
That’s probably good, given what he has, JT thinks, but she keeps a lid on what she knows about Panaka’s movements and cargo. A buzz catches her attention, and she looks down at the ringing comm on her belt. She does not answer, but she notes the time on the display. Ah! I need to be in position! “I’m really sorry,” she tells Ursa. “I do really have to go. But I hope we can continue this conversation. Are you free tomorrow? I don’t usually get up early, but tomorrow morning at the meditation garden? Why don’t we try that?”
Ursa Diol catches herself, surprised to find that she has unburdened herself more on this socialite than she had meant to. “No, the apologies are mine. I don’t need to rope you into our galactic politics more than I already have. You shouldn’t have to trouble yourself with these things. You’ve been quite helpful this afternoon, and I’ve taken advantage of enough of your time today. But I will meet you for meditation in the morning. And of course, I will see you at your gala. Good day, Jai Tessa.”
JT beats a hasty retreat, repeating to herself that she has to get up early tomorrow morning, in the hopes that she will remember to set an alarm when she finally gets back to her own room. But for now, she heads to Lo Strimm’s.