Star Wars: Cruise Control | Scene 6.2

The moff’s condescension does not faze JT. She is used to this sort of treatment from her own crewmates. That is just how organics are; they get very excited. JT is glad her own family is not that way. Organics are also very pliable, something that can be augmented with the Force. As the thought occurs to her, she hears a voice.

[Panaka might seem harsh, but he was not always like this. War has done this to him. It does not excuse the atrocities he has caused, but he has suffered from war as have so many others. You can heal this situation. JT, use the Force.] 

JT has not heard a message so clearly from Val Isa in a long time. In a way, JT supposes, her own charity work is a continuation of what the ancient Jedi was doing during the Mandalorian Wars. The thought of trying to change the moff had not occurred to JT; she was just viewing him as a tool or an obstacle. Val Isa has reframed this whole situation. “Whoa, heavy stuff,” JT murmurs aloud. She starts to reach into her shoulder bag, and the movement makes her aware that the moff still has his arm across her shoulders. “Do you mind if I have a drink?” she asks, as she pulls out a little thermos that Renci gave her to stay hydrated. She takes a sip of her emergency milkshake. Ever since Nyn offered JT and her new friends these cool, refreshing beverages in her Nabat headquarters after they fled Teemo the Hutt, JT has found them the perfect antidote to stressful situations. Plus, they are great to have on hand to treat acid burns from creatures twisted by the Dark Side, as she found out during their excursion on Gesaril….

JT wrenches her easily distracted mind back to the matter at hand and leans on the Force, trying to establish some sort of rapport with the moff. “Sometimes it is hard to remember. Sometimes there are things you don’t want to remember. I know your things were intruded upon and that could be very dangerous,” she acknowledges, “but I’m just trying to organize a charity dinner for war orphans. Is that something you can support? I don’t know how these war times have affected you, but they have affected a lot of people in a lot of ways. During the Clone Wars, my planet, Christophsis,” she flicks her blue hair, “was invaded. We need to get back to better times, more peaceful times.” There may be a happier time somewhere in the past back before the Clone Wars that this older man could be moved to remember, but JT is unable to connect with him through the Force the way she did with Tcho in this same space just a few hours earlier. If there is light in this moff, it is deeply buried.

Panaka moves them across to another crate, one JT saw Tcho near when she was flying around as the Blue Streak. The crate is partially open, and the moff pushes the lid completely aside. He then grabs a set of bindercuffs from within, slapping a cuff around one of JT’s narrow wrists. How rude!

“Think very hard,” Quarsh grinds out at this simpleton. “We know that crew member did something to this box. What did you see him doing over here? What other boxes did he touch?”

It briefly occurs to JT to close the other cuff around the moff’s wrist, but she suppresses the impulse. That would not be the best way to move this moff from antagonist to buddy. Once again, she reflects upon how she has no backup here with DRS all off pursuing their own personal interests, much as she is. Her jetpack and whipcord launcher are back in her room. She has her hydrospanner in her bag, of course, but that is a tool of last resort before an audience, particularly one such as this.

“He was futzing around with this box, yes,” JT confirms, since the moff clearly already knows that. She is certainly not going to mention anything about the repulsor trap she and Tcho talked about. “Look, I told you everything I know about this guy.” She again offers a vague physical description of Tcho’s height, build, and palette. She points out the general area of the room where he stood while calling Petey, though she does not mention the protocol droid by name. As she reconstructs the scene in the least informative way she can, she speaks in short, simple sentences to further cement in the moff’s mind that she is way beneath these sorts of affairs. “He made a call. It was a regular comm. He called the load-lifting droids. I thanked him very much. He was very helpful!” Her tendency to wave her arms as she speaks is a bit hampered by the manacle. “Then we went out into the hallway. I took the turbolift back. He went a different way.” She omits Tcho resetting her shoulder, another detail the moff does not need to hear from her. 

JT gives an innocent shrug. “I’m really sorry I can’t be more helpful. It sounds like your Stormtroopers are on the case, and they’re the galaxy’s finest. I already told you everything I know.” She reiterates, “He was standing right over there. He made a call to another crew member to help arrange the droids. Those droids came down. Can we reactivate them? I feel really bad when they’re deactivated. They’re just trying to do their jobs. And we still have to set up the space for the charity gala! Is there another place we can store your crates? Or could we just put a big tarp over them? You could come to my charity event. A lot of crew members are going to be there.”

Turned off droids?! Decorations?! Quarsh slaps the other cuff onto the idiot’s free wrist. He recognizes the wave of anger rising in him and takes a deep breath. “Clearly, you are finding this environment too distracting. I think you need a nice sit-down in a room where you can concentrate. You will need to think a little harder for a while in a place where you can focus on what is important in this galaxy.” His frustration builds as he speaks, and he reaches out toward the woman’s shoulder to shove her toward his chief-of-staff.

JT senses the incoming blow. “Well, okay,” she agrees, rotating toward Ursa and taking a step to smoothly move out of the way. She doubts that anywhere they put her on this cruise liner will be able to hold her very well, but she needs to de-escalate this situation as much as possible. The moff certainly needs to cool off a bit. As for the bindercuffs, she will deal with those later. “I’ll try to remember. But this charity dinner for the War Orphans Fund really needs to happen, and it would be great if we had some Imperial support. Can you make time in your schedule to attend? Or can you support a table? And maybe I’ll remember something about Tcho.”

Tcho? So she knows the suspect’s name. Maybe more will come back to her in lock-up. Quarsh motions his chief-of-staff over and nods. “Talk to Ursa about the details. She will escort you somewhere you can think things through.” Meanwhile, he can work out an approach that will be more productive with this naive, trusting fool. She seems to believe that this crew member, this Tcho, is just an innocent, helpful person. What will it take for her to realize the threat he is to the important Imperial work going on here?

JT cheers privately at the moff’s acquiescence, but she refrains from trying to give him a hug since the bindercuffs would just make it awkward. “Thank you so much!” she blurts out. As she leaves the cargo hold under escort once again, heart racing from the stressful encounter, her mind jumps ahead. I’ve still got to get more donors! Maybe Ursa… And the decorations, the entertainment…