Star Wars: Cruise Control | Scene 17.1

Gomarr gives his presentation while the main course is underway. He opens by dedicating the talk to his fallen classmates, those lost in the archaeological expeditions of his tumultuous education under Dr. Pramine. Taking into consideration the focus of the gala, he reflects, “Academia is not war, but you still lose people, and they leave behind folks that need taking care of. Yeah. But this blaster…”  He is still not very comfortable talking in front of large crowds, so he stumbles his way through sharing his research on the ancient gem-encrusted blaster he recovered at a creepy temple on the planet Lamaredd. An elegant weapon of a more civilized age is how he describes it.

During the dinner hour, JT moves among the tables, making small talk about the food and music. Most people are not paying much attention to Gomarr’s talk, simply because it does not match their interests. JT, though, lends an ear, as technology of all kinds is interesting to her. As he talks about the temple, a shudder runs down JT’s spine. It sounds like a dark place to her, and she wonders whether it was actually a Dark Side convergence like the temple on Gesaril. Not the kind I need for the moff.

When Gomarr’s talk is done and Lo is doing another bluesy number, JT drifts over to where Agnes Floggingham is admonishing her husband Abner to eat some greens. “I’m so glad you two could make it!” JT greets them. “I hope the rest of your trip has been going… okay… given everything.”

“Well, I haven’t lost my other arm, so…” Abner says brightly.

“That’s very nice! How are you liking the food spread? Sometimes you can be a picky eater, I’ve heard,” JT ribs him. The Ithorian couple is quite happy with the wine selection, which includes some from their home planet. JT makes sure to point out that there are many non-green vegetable options available, if it is simply the color that Abner objects to. She talks up a purple seaweed in particular. Discussion of this topic wins over Agnes, whereas JT’s description of the dessert cart and milkshake bar is nearer to Abner’s interests.

Trying to move the conversation toward her goal, JT asks whether the Flogginghams have any children, but they turn out to be childless. They just never got around to it, with so many other things going on in their lives. “There’s just so much of the galaxy to see!” Agnes says.

“There is,” JT acknowledges. “The galaxy is such a huge, huge place. That’s part of why I’m trying to jumpstart this charity here. There’s a lot of ground to cover. I really appreciate you coming to the gala. If you feel comfortable, we are absolutely taking additional donations. Or if you’re looking for some artwork, we have over there in the corner on display a piece we’ll be auctioning off later. It’s by the famed Jeppo, Jr., of Corellia, one of his recent works. You can gaze upon the beautiful vista it presents.” The Ithorians bob their heads in appreciation, having already admired the trees earlier. 

After a bit more chit-chat, they inquire of JT how to include the War Orphans Fund in their estate planning. “We don’t have any children of our own to pass things on to, so why not pass it on to these deserving children that your charity helps?” Agnes says. JT is thrilled and arranges for them to get the necessary forms.

The next person JT encounters as she circulates is a Gran who looks slightly familiar. He approaches her, actually. In an overly-familiar fashion, he throws his arm around her shoulders to usher her away from a table so they can do a walk-and-talk. “Now tell me,” Tenex Sinemet starts, “just how deeply embedded in your charity is Tusk?”

While JT herself has sometimes been viewed as too friendly, the arm move does make her slightly uncomfortable. She reaches her hand up to where his rests on her shoulder and takes hold of it. Then she slips out from under his arm, spinning as she does so to turn this into the less common dance-and-talk conference style. That sets Tenex a little off his game. 

Lo’s smooth jazz provides the backdrop to the discussion as JT responds, “Tusk gave us the initial seed money, and of course his name is associated with us as part of a set of charities. But on a day-to-day level he’s not really involved. He’s very busy with other parts of his business enterprise. That’s why I’m the chairwoman. But we’d be very glad to have you onboard. If you are able to donate credits right now, they’re always welcome. Or, do you have an apprenticeship program in your starship company?” Having a starship engineering background herself, JT mentions some specific certifications and trades of interest. It is important to provide a practical education to the orphans so that they can lead productive lives as adults, too.

As she whirls around on the dance floor, JT catches sight of the Flogginghams across the room now with their milkshakes, two straws in each to delight both sets of mouths. She mentions to Tenex that they have included the charity in their estate planning. “Do you have a corporate giving plan? Matching donations for employees? I understand that the Empire imposes a certain level of taxes on companies… This could be a way for you to mitigate that.” 

From their conversation, JT picks up that Tenex feels a rivalry with Tusk, even though the latter’s star has lately fallen. He seems to be angling to get the name Sinemet attached to the charity in a way that it can start to overshadow Tusk. JT shares, “When Tusk set up this charity, that was a good thing he did, and it really helped him clear his name. There were a lot of people who disagreed with certain business practices he had, but when he made that important turn in his life, people changed their opinion of him. They remember him for the good things he did, and I think that’s how a lot of people want to be remembered. So what about you? Is there a particular sector that you would like to fund or maybe the apprenticeship program that you’ve been talking about?”

Tenex strokes his chin some, considering his options. Ultimately, he settles on a pile of credits now, the apprenticeship deal—provided his name is splashed across it—and a donation-matching policy with his employees. JT is happy to establish the Tenex Sinemet Starship Apprenticeship Program. She sees no problem providing brand recognition for him, particularly now that he will be sharing news of her charity across his company. This has turned out much better than JT expected. Elated, she finishes the dance by giving him a big hug, and then she is off to continue circulating.