“So, are you a student, too?” Gomarr asks Kerr-Lonn-Ny as he hands her her dinner. She tells him about the Cerean university she attended on an athletic scholarship. “That’s cool,” Gomarr replies. “You’d be surprised how often cardio is important in your academic career. Trust me, never skip leg day.” They eat in companionable silence for a while. Occasionally, he hears muted conversation coming from the refresher.
After what has been a completely fair amount of time, the Gamorrean turns his attention to the second turkey club. He eyes it, then looks over at the closed door again. “Hey, you want…?” he starts. “Eh, you’re busy.” He picks up the sandwich, off-handedly justifying himself to Kerr-Lonn-Ny, “He didn’t want it before. He probably doesn’t want it now. Hey, can I get one of those milkshakes?”
The Cerean pulls one out of the minifridge for him and asks, “Were you forced to recuperate also?”
“Uh… no. I just picked up that poor Pantoran guy. He got beat up real bad. He had a rough day, kind of like you. He got stabbed with a knife, I think.”
“I was stabbed with a needle by a droid in a garden! I was just there to meditate!”
“Well, that’s your first mistake. Always be on your guard. Courtyards in front of temples? Just as dangerous as the temples themselves. You think it’s when you pass through the walls that the traps start? No. Traps are everywhere. Like, under this bed,” he points across the small room, “maybe there’s a trap. I don’t know! Could be a pit trap. It’s a big ship, you know. You gotta constantly be on the lookout. Zoning out?” He shakes his head. “Uh-uhn. Don’t do it. Clearing your mind? No. Always be on the lookout for threats.”
“That’s sounds like a stressful way to live your life. But zoning out? That’s not what meditation is,” Kerr-Lonn-Ny protests. “Meditation is honing your senses, turning in so that you can then turn out.”
Gomarr snorts. “No. Keeping my eyes open is why I’m still alive. Survive! That’s a saying on Gamorr. You do what it takes to survive. The number one thing it takes to survive: keep your eyes open. Look around. Look where you are going. Look where the doctor’s going, and don’t stand next to her. Especially don’t stand in front of her.”
The Cerean darts a glance over at the refresher door. “Do you have a problem with doctors?”
“Oh, no. My old advisor, Dr. Pramine.” He lets out a long breath, remembering fallen classmates. “But that’s behind me now,” he says, staring off as he sucks down a mouthful of freezing cold sugar.
* * *
When Tcho finally finishes up on his neck, JT comments, “Well, that’s looking a little bit better… Are you sure you still want to…” She glances down at his back, wondering how he is going to treat it himself.
“Sorry, you’re wasting your whole evening holding a mirror for me. If, uh…”
JT brushes off that concern. “Not a problem. Things are kind of on lockdown anyway, so… I think we all just need to lay low for a while.”
Tcho has her move the mirror around a bit and poke at a few spots so he can judge the burns and bruises, and then he starts prepping some stims. While he works on that, JT lowers the mirror to give her arms a rest. She picks up her datapad and begins planning. “So… I’ve got to win over Ursa Diol, find people the moff knows. This is a big ship, so I’m sure there are people who know the moff, people on his social level. What about that Stormtrooper sergeant guy? Was he nice?” Tcho does not even turn around, just silently points over his shoulder at the burns. “I’ll put him down as a maybe.”
Once Tcho has the treatments ready, he directs her to pick up the mirror again, so that he can tell her precisely where to deliver each hypospray. While they work, JT continues thinking out loud. “What about the captain? We could warn him that someone wants to get him out of the way. That could be a way to get in to see him. Then we can just be like, ‘Also, do you know the moff? We think he’s having a really rough time. It’d be great if you could help us talk to him. He’s under a lot of stress.’ A captain of a ship this big is of the right standing. He probably greeted the moff personally when he arrived. Probably they have a private dinner together one night.”
Tcho passes a hypospray back to JT. “I’m onboard with this plan, I just don’t think it will be quite as easy as you imagine. It’s not exactly straightforward for random passengers to get information to a captain. But stopping their search for me will make this all much easier. That should get rid of the lockdown and restore the social calendar. Whether they think I’ve escaped or I’m dead, whichever, but we need to decide what approach we want.”
“Maybe I could be a witness for you,” JT suggests. She practices, “Yeah! He went into that escape pod and blasted out, but apparently it was rigged to explode!” She administers the stim and hands the empty back to Tcho.
“An escape pod explosion? And then how do I get back into the ship?”
“I do have a sealed jumpsuit,” JT points out, reminding him that she is the Blue Streak. “I could bust out and grab you. We could make it explode, and then have a bunch of blue fireworks to advertise the gala.”
“I don’t think we want to connect those two things. Remember, we want you to be innocent.” Tcho passes JT the final shot. “If I’m going to be exposed to vacuum for any length of time I’ll need to prep myself with some things from Medical.”
JT looks at him like he is an idiot. “Why don’t you just get an EVA suit?” She administers the hypospray.
Tcho rolls his shoulders, testing out how his muscles feel. “That involves finding one that I can just walk away with…” It is not impossible, just an added wrinkle. And if he needs to be able to move around the ship for that… “Can you pull out your eyeshadow again?”
“Oh, sure.” She sets down the shaving mirror and digs through the pile of items from her purse that are still strewn across the counter. “Are you more of a cerulean? Midnight?” She holds up several shades. Tcho takes them from her and begins trying them out for covering his golden tattoos. While he works, JT suggests other possible disguises. “What if we make you look Chagrian, with the horns? Some of those are blue, right?”
“What, horn attachments? Chagrians are amphibians!”
“Okay, maybe not then. You could get a headdress, pretend to be a Twi’lek. Or you get a whole lot of body paint and pretend to be human. But you’d have to get some contacts, too.” Tcho rolls his golden eyes and applies the final touches to cover up his tattoos. JT thinks a bit and returns to their previous topic. “Probably the best thing, actually, is if I’m not the only witness. Someone who would recognize and confirm you, like this Stormtrooper sergeant you tussled with, would be good. I could point you out. That would lend it more credibility, and it lets us control when it happens. He has to see you die or leave. If you convince him, that’s probably sufficient, and I can help with that. But the sergeant has to see you, and you need to look like you. Not you now, you then.”
“Right, but I need to move around the ship before then. This will wipe off easily enough when the time comes,” Tcho says. Then he starts reviewing their plan, sounding more and more unsure of it as he goes on. “Okay, so we have to do some prep, and then I’m going to have to get that sergeant to chase me—”
“I don’t think you’re going to have to work very hard on that second point,” JT cuts in.
“And then I’m going to get away from him and into a—”
“You got away from him once, right?”
“Yes, but that was luck.”
JT smiles knowingly at him. “Was it, though?”
“Yeah. The chairlift hit me, and I passed out on it!”
“It sounds like you had just enough skill to get out of there. Luck was your friend Gomarr at the top, backing you up.”
“Uh, there’s one sandwich left,” Gomarr’s muffled voice sounds from the other room. “And you’re getting low on milkshakes.” At the second statement, JT throws the door open and rushes out to make sure she gets one before they are gone. Tcho grabs the hair dye from Gomarr and applies it in JT’s sink. When the time comes, he will wash it out, clean off his face, and run for his life. But for now, he will eat a turkey club.