(After just over an hour working with Irsin at the praxeum plans, Q’ayla manages to haul herself out of his room, and she slowly makes her way back to the lift, back to her room to find sleep)
(As Q’ayla enters the bridge, something feels off to her. It takes but a moment for her to recognize what it is. Q’aleane has taken over the bridge and, instead of sitting in her normal place meditating, she is… pacing. All around the room are what appear to be holographically projected pages and notes suspended in mid-air. The pages seem to be in an archaic language Q’ayla doesn’t know, with diagrams. They appear to be from the book Q’aleane has been spending time with in the village. The notes appear to be drawn into the air directly and seem to be diagrams and equations and scrawls in Q’aleane’s handwriting. At least Q’ayla assumes it is her handwriting. While normally small, neat, and controlled, these notes appear to be more hastily scrawled in larger letters with uneven placement; some of them writing on top of other pages or even other notes, some written sideways next to pages, some just randomly in mid-air. In the center of the room on Q’aleane’s meditation seat is what appears to be a distended bag of flesh about the size of a person’s head. It, perhaps thankfully, does not appear to be doing anything. As for Q’aleane herself, the Force mark on her hair appears to be glowing. Not as brightly as it did the previous night, but still bright enough to be noticeable and quite obvious. At first, it looks like the light is white, but as Q’ayla looks at it, along the edges appears to be a waring swirl of yellow and red, making her Force mark almost appear to be on fire on the edges.
Q’aleane appears to be pacing around the room staring at pages, making short exclamations in a somewhat harsh language Q’ayla doesn’t quite recognize. Q’ayla has an almost subconscious image of her sister as a frustrated rancor hunting something or someone who is hiding just out of reach. Around Q’aleane’s hands there are swirling patterns of Force extremely similar to the glow from her hair. She seems to be almost absently drawing power and seems to be almost… doodling with it as it plays around her hands. It appears to be undirected and she appears to be at least partially unaware of it)
(Though it would normally be trivial to cross the bridge and enter her room, Q’ayla is literally stopped in her tracks by what awaits her just off the lift. Her mouth falls open a little as she slowly takes in the holographic pages, the designs and notes, and, finally, her sister in some kind of fevered state. As her faculties return, Q’ayla opens up her mind and carefully – oh so carefully – touches her sister’s thoughts)
(The normal quiet sense of calm that underlies Q’aleane’s thoughts seems to be missing. In her mental subconscious world the calm lake she is normally meditating over is literally a geyser she is standing on top of. This is unlike the episode with strong emotions previously in two ways: The first is, with the previous episode, she seemed to be off balance and unable to deal with the emotions. In this instance, she seems to almost be unaware of them or, if she is aware of them, she seems to not care that they are there. The second is that while the previous encounter was loud for Q’aleane, it was still far less loud than emotions her sister normally experiences. In this case, Q’ayla is almost knocked over by the intensity. When she does get a handle on what she is feeling, she realizes it is a massively magnified version of what Q’aleane would normally feel like when she had a problem she just had to solve… in the same way a hurricane is a magnified version of a light shower)
(Q’ayla lets out an audible groan as the force and intensity of her sister’s emotions come at her consciousness like an eruption; she literally swoons backwards for a moment, before righting herself. However, remaining connected to her sister’s mind as she does, she allows herself to sit down onto the floor of the bridge, just outside the lift-door, so that she doesn’t fall over bodily and hurt herself. In the mental space now shared by the sisters, Q’ayla perceives herself as outside the edge of the energy geyser her sister commands. For several moments, Q’ayla simply stands there, unsure of what to do – or what she can do here, in this space – before settling on something. With an effort of mental will, she begins to raise herself up off the ground, carrying herself in a spiral around the massive pillar of energy dominating the space. After what seems like an hour’s climb, she finds herself floating just off to the side of where her sister stands. Gliding in closer and closer, Q’ayla attempts, with all the care and tenderness she can muster, to bring her arms around her sister and hold her. In the tumultuous mental space the sisters now share, Q’ayla speaks ever-so-quietly into Q’aleane’s “ear”)
“I’m here, sis… let me help you. You alone need not solve all of the galaxy’s problems. I’m here…”
Fas! Bos sos si?
(Seemingly the same thing happens in both realms at once: as Q’aleane turns to see her sister, Q’ayla gets a very clear mental picture of a disturbingly familiar rancor turning its attention. For a brief moment, Q’ayla can’t imagine a place she would rather be less than in the gaze of it. Then the moment passes and Q’aleane seems to come back to herself and notices her surroundings… In the mental realm Q’ayla finds herself back at lake level, but instead of being calm, the lake is roiling as if being tossed by a storm or, perhaps more accurately, as if boiling. But for the moment at least, Q’aleane seems to be Q’aleane of a sort)
Sorry, you startled me!
(Q’aleane at the time is physically near her meditation chair and she starts to sit down, realizing half way through that she is sitting down onto the bag of flesh. She then lifts it up with the Force, putting it down next to the seat where it makes a somewhat disturbing plop sound, and then sits down. She still appears to be a bit fidgety while sitting. Her eyes occasionally wander to what Q’ayla presumes is a note in the distance before coming back. She gestures to one of the other seats on the bridge)
If you are going to sit down, come sit over here. What’s up, is everything all right?
(At the sight of the rancor – the one from her nightmare, and the one whose head is in the cargo hold – Q’ayla lets out a sharp, slight scream and stamps down on the connection to Q’aleane’s mind and, even though she’s seated at the time, she still manages to fall over onto the floor of the bridge. As she is bringing herself back into a half-sitting, half-kneeling position, her sister speaks to her from her meditation cushion. Q’ayla scrambles to her feet, attempting to appear cool and in control, but failing. Her skin’s pallor already appears to be waning as she finally speaks)
“Is everything alright?”
“Is everything alright?!”
Are you kidding me?!
(Her arm movements emphasize her words as she takes a few steps closer to Q’aleane)
What the hell was that, Q’aleane? Never mind all of this—
(gesturing to the holographic pages and notes)
Why did you just appear as that rancor just now… the rancor from my nightmare?! And why is there is a bag of… oh gods, is that flesh of some kind?!
(She seems at a loss for words, and her skin is definitely pale now. A look of profound confusion comes over Q’aleane’s face, tinged with not a small amount of worry. She seems to be fidgeting a bit less as she responds)
What? Rancor? What are you talking about? Did you have another nightmare? This, this is a villip. I thought I had shown it to you before, but probably haven’t… It is a Yuuzhan Vong communication device of sorts, I was trying to get a hold of Master Shaper Rin and Master Vantai, but they weren’t there.
(She seems to fidget a bit more)
I am trying to get a handle on some of… of… this.
(She gestures to the room as if that explains everything. Q’ayla stops in her tracks)
What? No, I didn’t have another nightmare. I was just down with Irsin going over our repair plans for tomorrow. I came up here to get some rest and was met with all of this. In our bond… gods, Q’aleane, the ferocity of those emotions almost physically stunned me… So I tried to help ease and smooth out the most intense parts. And you spoke some weird language at me— something like “fass bossosy”… or not. And when you turned to me, both here in the physical, and in our mental space, I could see the rancor from my nightmare, the one Irsin and Trasa turned into. Also the same one whose head now resides in our cargo hold.
(Finally, she manages to get herself over to the seat and sit down, though she is still, clearly, very upset)
What’s going on, Q’aleane? First this morning you’re completely out for over an hour, and now this…
These things keep happening. I’m really worried about you, sis.
(Q’aleane seems completely bewildered and thinks for a moment, obviously latching onto the one part she understands)
Sorry, as I said you startled me… the language is Yuuzhan Vong… roughly translated well… the first word is a bit rude and the rest is “what was that?”.
(She pauses, obviously trying to parse out the rest)
Okay, well, that and the… vilp? That at least makes sense. Now, what about the rancor? And why that rancor? Does this have something to do with what happened out in the jungle that night? Is there something you’ve been hiding from me?
…truly sorry, I really am not sure what you are talking about. At the moment I don’t seem to feel anything weird internally, a bit of frustration and the like… maybe it is a bit strong…
(she pauses as she concentrates)
But not too abnormal given what we are going through… I haven’t thought about that rancor since that night, really. And you know as well as I do that I couldn’t really hide something from you if I had wanted to, which I don’t.
(Q’ayla notices that her sister is no longer fidgeting at all, if she didn’t know any better she would think Q’aleane was completely herself, having just come out of meditation. She looks around the room wistfully)
Gods, I wish I could figure this out.
(The Force she had been collecting sort of drains out of her a bit and her Force mark all but dies down. Q’ayla shakes her head a few times, sighing with exasperation, and her skin remains very pale; however, when she speaks again, some of the heat is gone from her voice)
Well, whatever, I’m sure I’m just crazy. I also thought the book was green earlier today, so I wouldn’t put it past me.
So, what is “this” that needs figuring out?
I’ve been thinking about that a lot… it’s entirely possible you did see the book as green. And it kind of ties into all of this. When I passed out this morning, what happened to me? I mean physically.
What happened? You fell unconscious. You still seemed to be breathing fine— it wasn’t like before you went to the Spirit Realm. You were just really out of it. I couldn’t wake you up. Irsin couldn’t wake you up. Barruka even tried some kind of Dathomiri technique, but it didn’t work either.You didn’t appear to be in any danger, at least not any that we could detect. You were just really unconscious.
No… no, I mean before that. Did anything happen to me right before I went unconscious that you could see?
Oh. Well… let me think. As a matter of fact— yes! Your hair! That lock of your hair, it flared up… green! Just for a fraction of a second, but it did, I swear it.
Okay, and at the time I was trying to pull on some energy that I thought I knew in order to see the emotions associated with it… turns out the emotions in question are unconsciousness but that is besides the main point. Now think back to last night: what did you sense from the ritual?
Well, there was definitely a lot of green associated with that ritual… the energy that bound Barukka to her fellow sisters, and the tendrils striking out at her from the pillar-flames in those braziers. And then, of course once we entered the circle, there was that strange feeling of a wind blowing against us, even though there was no wind.
Right… now it turns out, at least as far as I can tell and from what Barukka has shared with me, that the energy she was pulling on – and that I was trying to replicate – is the raw source of the Force, as it were. According to their lore, it can only be summoned and controlled by a shaman. Last night, Barukka had to use part of the life force, willingly of course, of her fellow sisters to try and bring it to bear. The amount of power in that energy is… well, obscene. I touched a small part of it this morning and it feels like I could go days without sleeping.
(Q’ayla can tell just by looking at her sister that, short of going days without sleeping, she is surprised Q’aleane is actually upright right now… Q’ayla is not sure without checking, but she is pretty sure Q’aleane doesn’t realize this)
The problem is, even with draining the life force of her sisters, she almost destroyed herself wielding it. It apparently has enough power to even create, as we saw last night. Now after this morning, I have no desire to touch that until I have a much, much better understanding of it all, and that is not going to happen here. However, I have some theories about how a shaman does it and if my theories are true… it means we have a big problem because… I don’t think even the full Coruscant Council has enough power to bring to bear to fight that.
I also think that we are going to find that Master Darach, as we know him really, is no more, but that is a different set of theories.
Wait, wait, wait… back up.
“I have no desire to touch that.”
That’s what you meant to say, right? Please tell me that’s what you meant to say. If you keep messing around with these things, Q’aleane, you’re going to get yourself killed. Do you have any idea how much I worry about what you might do, completely “by accident”? Do you ever think about what would happen to me if something happened to you during one of your experiments? Gods, even I don’t know what I’d do, but I can’t imagine it would be good, especially if it happens here. Please… promise me… that you won’t keep taking these massive risks like this. I don’t want to lose you, sis.
(As her sister continues, Q’aleane gets a very subtle, small impish smirk on her face)
Trust me when I say, I saw what almost happened to Barukka last night, and when I say “a much better understanding,” I mean a much better understanding, and nothing is going to happen without you knowing about it way ahead of time and only after we figure out how to do it safely and not anywhere near this planet. But some day, it may be decades from now, I will find a way to safely deal with it. But until then don’t worry, I have no desire to repeat this morning, let alone what almost happened to Barukka. As for this morning, I didn’t think that was an experiment… there was no indication that the green Force was anything more or less than the other ones I was able to draw on quite safely and that we do every day. I thought it was something akin to the yellow that we saw at the tree.
(She pauses for a moment to collect her thoughts before she continues)
However, risk taking is not something we can avoid, sis. You do it every day, you just don’t think the risks you take are as dangerous as the ones I do… but they are. Jury rigging a geothermal plant that has been dead for centuries… you could have easily taken out that whole complex… some of the battles we have had to fight, there was no guarantee we were strong enough to deal with them… there is no avoiding the risks. All I can do is, if I know or suspect it is going to be risky to us, is to talk to you about it… and that I said before I will do. But things like this morning are like if you had worked on that plant and found out that someone had secretly sabotaged it and had to frantically keep it from blowing up. From the information you had at the time the risk was minimal and worth it for the outcome.
(Q’ayla sighs again, turning her head and running a hand up through her hair)
I know we can’t completely avoid taking risks…
I just don’t want something to happen to you. Especially not something that I can’t comprehend or understand. I mean, if I blew myself up fixing the generator, at least you’d know what happened. But you slipping into some kind of coma and never coming out… I wouldn’t even know what to do with myself. I don’t understand all of the theory behind what you’re— what we’re dealing with here. It’s not my strong suit, and never has been. And so I’m constantly worried about you here, where the Force seems to eager to be messed with in strange and dangerous ways. Just be careful, okay. Please?
I understand sis, I really do… my heart still skips two beats every time you take a lightsaber, blaster, or sword to the gut. But I also understand that it is something that you love to do. I wouldn’t ask you to give up how it makes you feel to best a worthy adversary… you are too good at it. For me, regrettably, the Force is my battlefield. That means my worthy adversaries are secrets and theories that possibly no one alive knows yet. I don’t think it is too conceited to say I am good at it. I will include you when I know or even suspect, or if I don’t know the outcome… but I have to do this. Without me doing this, I doubt we will even have a chance at winning here. I know you have a lot of power now because of your deal, and I have no doubt I am going to need you to save me at some point… but I don’t think just one kind of power is going to save us here.
(Throughout this, Q’ayla bows her head low, fiddling with her braids here and there, and looking something of a cross between ashamed and sheepish. Finally, as her sister finishes, he raises her head up again)
I understand, Q’aleane. And you’re right, it’s unfair of me to judge you and your talents simply because I’m not you and I don’t possess nor understand them.
I seem to be doing that a lot, lately.
(She snorts a quick breath and shakes her head with slight frustration)
Though I wouldn’t say too much about my “power” just yet— I don’t really have anything to offer right at the moment in that area. But let’s go back to something else you said before…
You don’t think the Jedi High Council can stop what’s going on here? And you think Master Darach is lost to us?
(There’s a sudden weariness the passes over Q’ayla’s face, and she supports her head with her hands)
No, I think even the Jedi High Council doesn’t have the power to fight this head on. Using the Force in this case is like bringing a vibroblade to a turbolaser fight. We are not just outclassed, we are massively outclassed. In this instance we have one of four choices: we need to figure out how to make the turbolaser miss, disable the turbolaser, get a turbolaser of our own, or convince the person in the turbolaser not to shoot. Now could the Jedi Council do this? Possibly. But they are not here. And I am fresh out of turbolasers. If I had a decade, maybe we could figure out how to make one. But with that off the table, that leaves us with only three options.
And what about Master Darach? How does he factor into this?
I am starting to think he is the shaman. It doesn’t add up. If they had the power of a shaman prior to Sky Bowl, why did they attack it the way they did? Why tip their hand, why not just start with the shock and awe and cut everyone off? Whether by design or accident, things got a hundred times worse after Master Darach was taken. They had something prior to taking him, whether that be a plan or… I don’t know… but there must have been some reason an entire village was attacked just to get him. And every scenario I come up with means bad news for Master Darach… maybe I am wrong, I am, after all, working on very incomplete info… but I am not hopeful.
(The weariness in Q’ayla’s face deepens)
Do you really believe it, Q’aleane? That Darach is the Shaman? That means…
Then he’s dead. And we have no hope of saving him, and getting him and Yevra off this planet.
(She lets out a sharp breath that resembles shock mixed with bitter resignation)
And if the High Council can’t defeat him, and we can’t save him… then what are we still doing here? This is just suicide. We need to get back to the Jedi and bring to bear everything we have against the Nightsisters. But even then, if what you said is true, what good would it do? The High Council wouldn’t be able to defeat the shaman, and gods know how many Jedi and witches we would lose fighting in vain against this power. What are we going to do, Q’aleane? And what we if can’t get off the planet to warn the Jedi and bring them back with us? What if the Nightsisters can keep us grounded here? What are we going to do?!
(She’s starting to ramble now, and though questioning Q’aleane directly, she doesn’t appear to be actually talking to her)
Okay, sis… stop. Breathe. Remember, I could be wrong about Darach. I just… you know what it feels like to me? This is going to sound stupid and it is only a guess. But it feels like— remember the stories about Exar Kun and Yavin 4 where he possessed one of the Padawans there? Or had you never heard that one? Well anyway… the best theory I have right now is something like that with a previous shaman. But if that were the case, think about what that energy did to me when just touching it, and think about what it must have done to his spirit to be lashed to another that is channeling it… but like I said, that is a guess. We may find out he is nothing more than a prisoner. But I think we need to be mentally prepared to deal with the possibility that we might need to kill him to stop whatever is happening.
As for getting the Jedi… if it is power in the Force we need, it is here… have you ever even heard of a Jedi master – any Jedi master – creating a physical object through the Force? These witches have more power and knowledge than our order gives credit for. But a thousand people with vibroswords against a turbolaser head on just results in a thousand dead people with vibroswords. So what we need to do is figure out a way around the turbolaser long enough for us to convince – possibly permanently – whoever is in the gunner seat to stop shooting. Which is what all this—
(She gestures around the room)
…is. But I can’t figure it out. I don’t think I have enough to even think of an answer… Some threads of one but nothing that connects. On a more practical stage, I am worried that when it comes down to it, we might need to deal with Yevra dealing with having to kill her master. Which is hard in its own right.
(When Q’aleane mentions the story of Exar Kun, Q’ayla shakes her head slightly)
I’m not sure I remember that part of the story…
(Then, as her sister finishes)
We can’t ask that of her, Q’aleane. If it comes to that… one of us will have to do it. I can’t possibly ask her to do something so horrible. Think about that: what if it was us, and this was Master Tahl we were talking about?
I might be mixing up my Sith lords, I am sure Irsin probably knows better about it… or maybe not… but either way it’s just a guess. I definitely agree with you, if we can’t avoid it one of us should do it. But I am starting to get the fear that she might end up having to be a part of it. More of a part than I think any of us are comfortable with. It all comes down to how we manage to distract him, if it is him. But either way, that is just something we need to be aware of in case it happens. Let’s hope my fears are unfounded. However, I am still left with a puzzle which is how to disable, distract, or somehow trick a shaman into not killing us all.
(Q’ayla gestures to the holographic pages)
And you think the answer might lie here? These are pages of the book from the Singing Mountain clan, I presume? What do they say?
Not just here… but these are just a piece of the puzzle. Really these pages are frustratingly lean on the subject… they are generally just treatises on how they view the Force. I was hoping that understanding that might give me some insight I am missing.
Ultimately, I guess it comes down to what or who is acting as a control conduit for this Force. In the case of Barukka, she tried to use the life force of her fellow sisters to do it… I think maybe the shaman uses a symbiotic relationship with one of the spirits. So, ultimately the question once again comes down to… What the heck is the relationship between these spirits, this world, the Force, and shaman?
(Q’ayla sighs audibly, and then chuckles)
This is so over my head it’s not even funny, Q’aleane. I guess I should have paid more attention during my Force theories and history classes, instead of getting into arguments with the masters…
Well, is there any way I can be of help to you right now? That is, after all, what I asked you when I first arrived, before things got all rancor-y. And considering how much engineering I’ve picked up from Irsin these past couple of days, what’s one more completely alien skill for me to try my hand at?!
(She smiles warmly at her sister; Q’aleane chuckles)
Well the good news is it is way over my head too. That’s the problem at its crux, in a way I have to unlearn all those Force theory classes because they don’t help here. None of the masters I knew would even believe me if I told them about the spirit realm, let alone have an explanation for it. Even among the Dathomiri witches it seems to be a theory that is out of vogue… Barukka mentioned the others thought of it more as a metaphor. So we are in realms of Force theory that, if they have been written, have been written in the hidden tomes of Nightsisters and other Force traditions. And even then I doubt any of them have ever had the sheer stupidity and audacity to set the task of disrupting a god for a short period of time. It’s the kind of thing that is generally frowned upon by any society that believes in them, after all.
(Q’ayla lets out a light laugh)
So then what does that make us, huh?
I still can’t believe we actually spoke with Bogan, though… Mother and Father would never believe us.
(Q’ayla suddenly looks pensive)
It makes us heretics… but most of all it makes us desperate. Yeah… they wouldn’t believe us… too much time trying to merge the philosophies of our people and the Jedi.
(Q’ayla removes her visor and places it in her lap, rubbing at her face for a bit before she continues)
I was talking with Irsin earlier and…
…you guys are right. I shouldn’t go back to the Jedi. There’s no way to be sure that things wouldn’t go sideways, and I just can’t risk it. I have no idea how to communicate what’s happened to Masters Tahl and Ang, but I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. I will do something, though. That I have decided. But anyways, while we were working on the security plans for tomorrow, I got to thinking of something else, and I wanted to run it by you before I gave it any more thought.
Even if we don’t go back to Taris… do you think we could go home for a while before we start looking for more holocrons? I mean, like, real home. Back to Alpheridies, to Mother and Father. Just for a short time. I think it would do us some good to re-center ourselves there. And… I thought it might be nice to introduce Irsin to them. After all, he and I well… you know.
(She blushes; Q’aleane again chuckles)
Well no, not really; despite Irsin’s concerns, I don’t actually spy on you two. But I get what you are saying.
If it makes you feel any better, I am sorry you can’t go back and explain it to the Council. I wish it were different.
I… am not sure about Alpheridies. The last time we were there was… we must have been what, six? I don’t know really how our parents think about the Jedi, the Force, and whatnot… I am not sure it would be fair to them. And I guess it depends on what happens.
(She sighs as if the weight of the galaxy rested on her shoulders)
I wish things were not so complicated. I suspect that is why no one has fixed this pattern before. It is easier to just pretend and deal with things as a Jedi than change an entire galaxy’s way of looking at things.
(Q’aleane is starting to look more tired than she was yesterday after the ritual… Q’ayla can tell her sister hasn’t mentally realized it yet, but she seems inches away from collapsing… Q’ayla is not sure why, or even how, her sister doesn’t realize it. Q’ayla noticeably deflates upon hearing Q’aleane’s answer, and that weariness in her face returns)
Are… you sure we can’t go back? I mean, yeah, I guess it has been quite some time, but still. They’re our parents. If there’s anyone in the galaxy that can understand us— and if not understand, then at least accept us as we are, it should be them. I know they deeply respect the Jedi, but they also held dearly our Miraluka beliefs, and what we’re going to attempt is far closer to our people’s ideologies than those of the Jedi. They might understand…
I just… I told Irsin this but… there’s a part of me that can’t let go of the Jedi, Q’aleane. No matter how many times you or Irsin talk to me about this, there’s still war inside of me when it comes to this. But I am trying… and I thought… maybe returning to a place that carries meaning for me, but lies outside the influence of the Jedi, might do me some good. And seeing Mother and Father at our knighting ceremony made me realize how much I’ve missed them, and it would be good to catch up again…
(Over time, Q’ayla begins to notice how tired her sister looks, and she abruptly changes the subject; rising from her seat, she walks over to her sister and extends a hand)
But enough of that for now, I guess. You look absolutely drained, sis. I don’t know how you can function like this. Let me get you to your room, and then we both need to get some rest.
No, I really am not sure. Not sure about a lot of things. If you want to go, I will go with you, but I would like you to consider them when you decide. Remember what they gave up when they sent us to the academy… how much dedication to the Jedi way they must have to have brought us to a place where they knew they wouldn’t be able to talk to us for our entire childhood. Then think about what it does to them if we go back and say, “Hi Mom, hi Dad— by the way, we broke with the Jedi and here is my boyfriend, he was raised a Sith.” I will go if you need to or want to, but we need to be very careful… maybe stop by before we break with the Order formally… Although Yevra complicates that. I just don’t know. This one will have to be your decision. I will go along with whatever you decide, just be careful.
(At the mention of rest her face gets a set of determination on it)
No I have to take another look at this, in case I missed something. I will be fine.
(She then stands up, apparently too abruptly, as she falls back down to her knees)
…Ouch… Then again, maybe I should sleep.
(Q’ayla tries – too late – to catch her sister before she falls. Coming closer, she takes a hold of Q’aleane and helps her to her feet)
Come on, now. Doctor’s orders— well, Sister’s orders, at least. Has to count for something around here. Shut down all of these projections, and you can work on them tomorrow while we’re finishing up at the praxeum. Come on— it’s late, sis.
(Q’aleane lets her sister guide her up; Q’ayla can tell she is actually almost out of it by the time she is standing, and she offers no resistance as Q’ayla leads her to her room. Once inside, Q’ayla leads her sister to her bed and helps her down onto it. Kissing her forehead, she whispers to Q’aleane)
I’ll think about what you said. Maybe there just isn’t a place of solace for us after all…
…Good night, Q’aleane. I love you.
(As Q’aleane lies down she half responds…)
I love you too, I wish…
(…and then falls asleep. As Q’ayla leaves her sister’s room, she realizes Q’aleane hadn’t even summoned the energy to tell the ship to turn off the projectors, as the room is much as she left it, complete with villip, notes, and scrawls. Back out on the bridge, Q’ayla can’t help but sigh at the organized mess in front of her. With some trepidation, she picks up the fleshy bag and carries it into Q’aleane’s room, leaving it inside just to the side of the door. Returning to the bridge, she at first thinks to ask the ship to shut off the projectors, but seeing the notes still scrawled out over the pages, she simply sags her shoulders, mutters a good night to the ship, and shuffles her way back to her room, and, hopefully, to some rare, restful sleep.)