Chapter Three

Jaina was familiar with the base on Borealis from her stay there years earlier, so she knew the path from the hangar bay to the quarters where Soontir and Syal would be staying well. It was easy for her to scout discreetly along the route that they would take, looking for any potential threats and identifying places where they would have to be especially careful.

As Jaina walked along the path, all of her senses were on alert and she stretched carefully out into the Force, spreading out her awareness to encompass the nearby areas. By the time, that she had reached her destination, Jaina had neither seen nor felt anything suspicious.

She turned randomly down a smaller side corridor rather than standing in front the quarters that had been assigned to the Fels and activated her comm. link as she started walking.

When Lowie answered, Jaina asked quickly, "Lowie, have they left the hangar bay, yet?"

The Wookiee's response came back to her garbled by the comm. distortion, leaving her straining to understand what he had said.

"They're still there? Okay, good. I'm going to explore the route some more on the way back. I'll meet you there," Jaina added.

Lowie grunted an agreement and then they signed off. Jaina picked her way carefully through the corridors, taking a different way back then the way that she had come. She watched as carefully as she had before, but this time she was distracted by what she was about to do.


The communications relay station was almost deserted except for the few technicians who were manning the station, when Jaina entered. She glanced around the quiet room and waited until the senior technician looked up at her. Her eyes were cold and the man almost flinched from her gaze.

"Everyone out," she said quietly, her voice steely.

The man hesitated, unsure how to respond to her unusual order. He hesitated a moment to long for Jaina's fraying patience to deal with.

"I said out!" Her voice was louder this time, sharp with anger. This time no one considered disobeying her command and the room was quickly emptied.

As the door slid shut behind the retreating group of technicians, Jaina waved a hand and triggered the locking mechanism on the door with the Force. Once she was certain that she would not be disturbed, she slid into a seat in front of one of the active consoles. She monitored the incoming and outgoing comm. traffic for a moment as she tried to find her way back to the calmness that the Force could grant her. It kept eluding her, though, and the nervousness at the pit of her stomach clutched at her with icy fingers that refused to relinquish its grip on her.

It was not a feeling that Jaina enjoyed, and soon her nervousness turned into anger and irritation with both herself and the being that was making her feel this way. It wasn't fair after so long. She had thought that she had put this behind her years ago. She didn't like being proved wrong. She almost growled in irritation as she punched in a series of codes and a comm. number that she had memorized a long time ago, but never used.

Jaina didn't realize she was holding her breath as she waited for the channel to be opened from the receiving end. She finally exhaled as she saw the connection go through. She straightened marginally in her seat, almost without realizing what she was doing. The lines of her body were rigid with tension and her right hand was resting unconsciously on the hilt of her lightsaber as she waited.

The holodisplay in front of her startled her as it sprang to life. The image in front of her was as clear and crisp as if the being was standing in front of her rather than thousands of lightyears away. Jaina sat frozen.

From the moment that she had realized who Syal and Soontir were, she had know somewhere in the back of her mind that she would have to initiate this communication. Still, she didn't have to be eager to do so and she certainly wasn't prepared for it.

The man in the holoimage didn't smile at her. She hadn't expected him to smile, actually.

"Jaina."

What she hadn't expected was the way that a mere word from him flooded her with the feel of his presence through the Force. It was an intoxicating and distracting sensation, so distracting that, for a moment, she couldn't think - couldn't breathe. She was choking on the wonderfully familiar feeling of his presence surrounding her in the Force.

It only took her a moment to catch herself and with a ruthless thought, she cut herself off from her perception of the Force, denying herself that feeling. She needed to not be distracted for this conversation.

"Jagged." His name came out harsher than she had intended. Striving for neutrality was not so easy.

"It's been a very long time, Jaina."

Her temper flared at the simply stated remark. "The holorelays work both ways," she replied coldly, wishing as even as she spoke, that she could take the words back.

His demeanor hadn't changed so much in the years that had passed since she had last seen him. If anything the traits of his personality that had been so ingrained before had only had more time to deepen and mature. His tone and the cadence of his speech were clipped with a hint of Chiss influence that grated on her nerves as much as the formal, empty tone of voice that he was using.

She reminded herself that it was no longer any of her concern how he acted.

Jag didn't respond to her sharp retort. He stared at her and she couldn't catch a hint of his emotions in his deep green eyes. It did nothing but infuriate her more. Any response was better than no response at all.

"Jaina, I have a squadron meeting in less than half an hour and I don't want to be late. Did you have a reason for contacting me?"

His pointed comment made her flush with embarrassment. Only Jag could affect her that way. She hated that particular weakness more than anything else.

"I've been pulled from my usual missions and been assigned to act as a bodyguard for your parents," she stated bluntly.

Jag blinked in surprise. It was the first involuntary response that Jaina had gotten from him since their conversation had begun. But his surprise was gone almost as soon as it appeared. For a brief moment, it was replaced by concern.

"Did something happen to them?" he asked quickly.

"No," she hurried to reassure them. "No, I just…" she hesitated. She didn't know what to say. Whatever she and Jag had been, they certainly were not that anymore and hadn't been for a very long time. "It's nothing. Good bye, Jagged."

She reached up slowly to switch off the connection. Jaina remained in her seat for a moment and then stood up heavily. Her comm. link chirped quietly at her from its place on her belt. She glanced at it and identified Lowie as the caller. She hesitated and then clicked it off.

Without her usual grace and ease of motion, Jaina walked to the door. She carefully used the Force to undo the locking mechanism and then hesitated. A single tear rolled down her cheek and she wiped it away with the palm of her hand. The door slid open with a hiss and she walked out, a slight awkwardness in her gait the only indication that she was not the confident Jedi Knight that she appeared to be.

Lowie and the Fels were waiting for her.

(3/31)