Star Wars: Cruise Control | Scene 16.2

When the event moves down to Cargo Hold B2, JT is still nowhere to be seen. PD-101 greets the guests at the door there, as he did abovedecks, and escorts each group to their table. True to its theme, Under the Sea, the space is decked out in shades of blue with coral pink accents, including the origami reef centerpieces handmade by JT. Aquamarine drapes and deeper blue bunting along the walls improve the acoustics and give the feel of being surrounded by water. An area for non-oxygen breathers is separated from the main space by an airlock and a transparisteel wall that enables both sides to enjoy the decor on the other. Part of the shipping container stage extends into that compartment, allowing some numbers to be performed on that side. There are also environmental suits and rebreathers on hand so guests can circulate through both spaces. These serve the dual purpose of also reassuring the attendees; in case of another hull breach, plenty of life-saving devices are nearby.

Once the guests have all been directed to their places for dinner, the lights dim briefly. Everyone hushes, wondering if something is going wrong with the Dame. Then the room grows darker, and the voice over begins.

“In a galaxy torn asunder…” There are muted sounds of explosions, clearly coming over a public address system, not from other parts of the ship. “Families are torn apart.” Another explosive noise. “But you can save them. Your credits can help.” And then a literal streak of blue crosses the heights of the cargo hold, sparkles trailing behind. The Blue Streak flies across the space as fast as she can, glitter falling everywhere around her. “Justice comes for us all, but compassion needs your help! Give today, citizens, to the War Orphans Fund. And enjoy the gala!”

JT has made sure with the waitstaff that no food will be brought out until after the opening number, so the glitter does not jeopardize any meals. She has also arranged for some plants in the audience. Her aerial show is accompanied by cheerful cries of, “It’s the Blue Streak!” One person gets a little more creative and gives a frustrated shout of, “Blue Streak!” as though their evil plans have been foiled. The captain, though not primed by JT, calls out in delight, “That’s the Blue Streak! She saved the ship!” When the aerobatic act is over, the vigilante exits the room in a final explosion of blue fireworks.

The lights come back up, and PD-101 takes the stage. “And now, I would like to present to you Jai Tessa, chairwoman of the War Orphans Fund,” he announces, gesturing to the center of the platform. There is no curtain set up over the cargo containers, but there is a staircase rolled up to the back in the middle. JT mounts that and steps out before the crowd looking composed and sophisticated in her gown of many blues. The floor-length skirt is aquamarine, while the sweetheart bodice and partial outer skirt are a dark teal. A string of opalescent pearls dangles from each dress strap, looping around JT’s pale white biceps. The dress is complemented by Val Isa’s teardrop-shaped talisman, which JT wears as a pendant necklace. In the right light, the thin veins of crystal in the stone sparkle, as do JT’s blue eyeshadow and lipstick.

JT welcomes everyone and makes a broad appeal. She will be visiting individual tables throughout the night, of course, but she lays the groundwork now, sharing her personal connection to the War Orphan Funds mission. “I spent my very early years on Christophsis, but during the Clone Wars, I became an orphan myself. I was lucky to have a family after that, but not everyone is so lucky. Can you help add a little bit of luck?” Should’ve gone with a gambling theme, JT reflects, momentarily distracted by her own words.

Looking out over the crowd, JT knows she will have to really work tonight. Many people are still somewhat uneasy, since the ship was almost ripped apart, but the presence of the Blue Streak has comforted some of them. Others are here tonight just to unwind—they were on vacation, after all—and are not necessarily prepared to open their credit accounts. When JT descends from the stage and begins to mingle, she hears appreciative murmurs acknowledging that she is trying to do something good for the galaxy and recognizing her authenticity. Filled with confidence, she begins to make her rounds.

This is the first time that Quarsh Panaka has heard Jai Tessa’s personal story, and it resonates with him in a way he was not expecting. The Clone Wars was a difficult time for him, as well. It is so rare to encounter a hopeful soul in this galaxy that he had not quite believed up until now that this charity was a legitimate enterprise. He is surprised such hopeful souls still exist. Any optimism he himself ever felt was burnt away by an assassin’s firebomb years ago.