As she rushes through the ship corridors, JT assures Kerr-Lonn-Ny that she knows someone on the crew who they can trust and who might be able to help her situation. The fit Cerean comfortably jogs along beside her. JT clumsily bounds around the last turn into her own hall and steadies herself as she collides with the wall. Ahead of her, in front of her door, is a Pantoran with a red and black scarf and pointed cap with his hand raised to knock. Standing next to him is a Gamorrean in a tweed jacket.
Well, they don’t look like Imperial officials, JT reflects as she slows down. She composes herself, straightening her jacket as she strides confidently down the hall towards these potential new friends. As she goes to smooth her slacks, her bulky shoulder bag slides off her arm to the floor, spilling out some of the contents, including the bindercuffs. JT quickly gathers the items and stands up again. Before she stuffs the thermos back into her bag, she takes another sip of milkshake.
The Pantoran’s face is muffled by the scarf, but JT notes him tracking what just happened. Then he speaks. “Jai Tessa! How good to see you.”
JT detects a bit of forced cheerfulness in the voice, but she recognizes it. “Tcho! Are you okay?”
He brushes off the question and turns to the Gamorrean. “Professor, this is my friend Jai Tessa.”
Gomarr snorts a little. Friend, right. Probably owes her something. But at least she’s not as bad as the Hutts. ‘Cause nobody’s as bad as the Hutts.
Jai Tessa comes forward to shake hands, introducing herself as JT to the Gamorrean. She is followed by a Cerean in a sleeveless tank top and athletic leggings. When JT asks again whether he is okay, Tcho suggests they take the conversation inside. It is getting close to dinner time, and other passengers could be coming down the corridor at any moment. The human has already shouted his name once, so there is no containing that, but the rest of this should be addressed in private. He steps back a bit and gestures to the door.
JT fishes around in her giant bag for her room key, continuing the introductions with a nod of her head toward the Cerean. “This is my friend Kerr-Lonn-Ny.”
“Uh, yeah, I’m Gomarr,” the Gamorrean replies. “I guess, Professor, uh, Assistant Professor Gomarr.”
Tcho notes the cut across the Cerean woman’s lavender cheek. Combined with the bindercuffs he just saw, this makes him wonder how Jai Tessa spent her afternoon. “What happened to you?” he asks the injured woman.
Worried that such a question might set Kerr-Lonn-Ny off, JT quickly interjects, “Why don’t we just step inside?” as she pushes the door open and ushers the Cerean forward.
JT’s third class berth is a combination sitting room and bedroom. The center of the room has a couch with a coffee table in front of it, and the bed is along one of the side walls. The other side wall has an alcove for a minifridge and the door to the private refresher. Leaning against the wall by the entrance is a large painting of a forested landscape atop a pile of torn brown paper.
JT holds the door as Gomarr and Tcho enter. She watches the Pantoran closely. He does not have on the coat she saw earlier, though he does have the red and black scarf. And of course, he is standing and conscious. Oh no, was that one of those future visions like Cal has? The Force sometimes speaks to her friend Cal through confusing imagery. JT wonders whether what she saw with Val Isa was meant to convey a message symbolically or whether it was something that might come to pass. She blows out a long breath and asks Tcho, “Were you attacked recently?”
Tcho pulls the door to the room closed and self-consciously adjusts his scarf as he quickly weighs his options for a response. He wrapped the scarf to conceal the knife wound up his neck, and he thought he had managed to drape it in such a way that the scorch marks above his right shoulder blade were also covered. That Cerean is an unknown, but if Tcho does not say something fast, Gomarr is likely to start advocating for the med center again. There’s no hiding this. I need to treat myself here. After a brief hesitation, he replies, “Yes, I… ran into some trouble.” He glances down at the purse containing Imperial-issue bindercuffs. “Did you?”
JT lets out a small sigh of relief that her vision has already come to pass and then says reassuringly, “Well, I wanted to meet the moff. I’ve gotta get him to come to this gala, remember? But it’s… You know… I’m still working on getting through to him.”
That was not the answer Tcho was anticipating. “You met with the moff?!” JT casually acknowledges this, and his eyes drift back down to her bag. He cannot quite keep the alarm out of his voice, as he asks, “And what did you tell him?”
JT brightens to the topic. “Well, I told him how important this gala is and that it would be really helpful if he could come.” Almost as an afterthought, she adds, “He asked some dumb questions about when we were in ‘his’ space. He already knew there was a Pantoran, so I told him, sure, there was a Pantoran. He didn’t really like that answer, so he tried to lock me up in the passenger recuperation area.” She starts tripping over her own words in excitement. “I met some really nice people there! I found a great crooner for the gala; I met my nice friend Kerr-Lonn-Ny there…” JT gestures over to the couch, where the Cerean is now perched on the edge, holding her well-sculpted arms and rocking a little. JT’s voice softens a bit. “She’s having a really rough day.”
“No, no! It was a perfectly fine day!” Kerr-Lonn-Ny stammers out. “Until, until, until… and then…”
“Take it easy, dear,” JT soothes, as she crosses the room to the mini-fridge. She pulls out a beverage, then hands it to the other woman. “Here, emergency milkshake.”
Kerr-Lonn-Ny accepts the drink and takes a sip at the straw, then looks at the liquid in surprise. She is used to downing green smoothies and protein shakes; her trainer would never let her have anything as sugary as this. She gives JT a conspiratorial grin and resumes slurping.
“Just take it easy,” JT continues. “We’ve all had a rough day today…” She looks around at her companions, and her eyes settle on the Gamorrean, who himself is looking longingly at the milkshake. “Well, I don’t know about you, professor.”
“Compared to some others I’ve had? I’m still walking! So far, I haven’t been hurt. That’s better than half the days, right there!”
“Since you are still walking,” Tcho says to Gomarr, “would you mind heading down to the mercantile deck and picking up a few things for me?”
“Well, it is almost dinner time. I could pick up something to eat. Do you like turkey clubs? Sorry, I ate it last time without asking if you wanted any.”
“Sure, sure, turkey clubs are fine,” Tcho replies distractedly as he digs through his satchel for credits. JT enthusiastically agrees, and Kerr-Lonn-Ny asks for a power salad bowl instead. Tcho hands a stack of credits to Gomarr. “And I need you to pick up a few other things for me.”
“Buddy, what do you need? Other than a new career.”
“I need black hair dye and gold eyeshadow,” he says casually. Attaching himself to Gomarr as a student assistant is a good start, but he cannot walk around with the scarf wrapped around his head for the rest of the voyage. He needs to change his hair and extend his facial tattoos.
“You want a disguise?” JT blurts out. She starts rooting through her own bag. “I don’t have any gold, but I have about five or six different shades of blue.” She pulls the eyeshadow set triumphantly out and steps up to Tcho to judge the colors against his skin tone. “This one? This one?”
That sounds perfect to Tcho. Covering up his tattoos would be even easier than altering their design. And blue is a natural Pantoran hair color, also. “Oh! You must have blue hair dye!” Maybe he does not need Gomarr to get anything after all.
“What? No. Why would I have that? I was born on Christophsis,” the human says. Tcho stares at her blankly. “In January,” she adds, as if that explains everything. “Oh! You know what you need? An oil bath. I have supplies for that.”
“Ugh! Just put black oil in?” Tcho cannot suppress a shudder. “That would destroy my hair!”
“No, no, it really brings out the sheen!” JT insists, as she slicks her own blue hair back with some oil, smiling at the sensation. “It’ll look great later.”
Once again, this human has gone from helpful to insane. Tcho turns to Gomarr. “So just get the hair dye, professor.”
Something in JT’s bag chirps, and just a moment later, there is a buzz from Gomarr’s satchel. Their datapads have just received an update of the ship calendar accompanied by an alert: “Large gatherings are temporarily suspended while we assure your safety.”
Gomarr snorts at the cancelation of his lecture. “Well, that’s just a hundred people I don’t have to talk to. Unless they ask for their money back, that’s fine. I still get to enjoy this cruise.”
JT is not so blasé about the impact on her gala, but she takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. “That’s all right. We’ll put it on somehow,” she says with resolve. “If a lot of things are canceled a lot of people will have free time.” She rubs her hands together as she starts considering possibilities. “We’ll put something together. We’ll make this work. We’ve just got to sort this out in time.”
“You’d better get to the restaurant quarter before they start shutting other things down,” Tcho tells Gomarr. It does not sound like things have gone as far as bulkheads being locked, but the first step has definitely been taken.
The possibility of food service being interrupted affects Gomarr more profoundly than his lecture being canceled. “Turkey club, turkey club, power bowl—”
“And black hair dye,” Tcho adds.
“Relax, okay?” Gomarr tells the younger man. Then he steps out into the hall and gets his bearings before heading off, muttering to himself. “What number is this? What deck am I on? This ship is huge! Glad we never had to investigate a crashed ship. That would’ve been terrible…”