Tower of Time: Long Ago and Far Away
   

The Road to Rediscovery
Part 12 - One Pilot to Another

Kionee parked the Viridian in the residential hangar and, leaving her ship in the capable hands of MT-412, descended the lift to her father's flat. She tapped her feet absently to the lift's jazzy jizz music. Alone in the lift, her gaze fell on her own reflection in the mirrors that wrapped around three sides of the lift chamber.

Tall and blond with light green eyes, Kionee hardly looked her age. She feared that she would never grow into her overly-broad shoulders. Her clothes were far from fashionable as well: a pocket-bedecked flight vest over a simple collared shirt, sleeves bunched up around her elbows, and a pair of pants decked out with even more pockets. She looked like a pilot, not a young woman. Kionee sometimes wished that there was a better balance between style and practicality in flight wear. Not that she tried improving her wardrobe very often. Looking at herself, Kionee scrunched up her face in a frown. She had a reddening pimple coming in on her chin. Serves me right for not hitting the 'fresher in transit from Anaxes. She sighed. I'll never be as pretty as Laurel or Roshind.

Just before Kionee had made the jump to Coruscant, Roshind called her to gush and celebrate that the other Nubian in her dueling circle on Corellia had finally asked her out, after months of mooning over him. Having heard Roshind's account of every little detail in the development of that relationship in the last half-year, Kionee was delighted for her sister.

And yet, she suddenly realized how lonely she really was.

“You'll never find anyone, Kinnie, if you don't settle down somewhere,” Roshind had teased her, “Or at least slow up, for once.”

Maybe true, but Kionee did not want to settle down. What would she do? It was a pilot's life for her. Her brother Cash had met his fiance at a random spaceport stop. Who was to say that she could not do the same? Still, that did nothing to stop her from feeling lonely. She was glad to have her dad to visit for a few days on Coruscant. He always had a spare bedroom ready to accommodate any of his children coming to visit.

The lift slowed to a stop and the doors slid open with a gentle hiss. Kionee's ears popped at the change in pressure. She stepped out, leaving the calm jizz music behind her. Walking along the curving corridor, Kionee came to the door of her father's flat and keyed in the passcode.

The door slid open and Kionee hear her father talking with another man inside.

“It really is a sign of recovery. I'm glad to see us heading in that direction, as a republic, for once in a long while.”

“It has been one major war after another. I would like to see this peace last.”

Kionee skirted through the entryway and towards the guest room, doing her best not to disturb them.

“You're not worried about your career?”

“Not with my new position with the Telos Restoration Project. And besides, soldiers all want peace just as much as anyone else. Probably more so.”

The guest's voice suddenly struck a chord with Kionee. She veered her course and burst into the sitting room. Carth Onasi sat stiff as a soldier on the blue divan couch across from her father, who lounged cross-legged in his favorite arm chair.

“Kionee, you made it back,” Gad exclaimed warmly and bounded up from his seat. He crossed the room in three long strides and wrapped Kionee in a tight hug. He released her and stepped back. “Look who stopped in to say hello.”

“Carth,” Kionee started, a bit surprised, “How are you doing?” She had no idea that Carth and her father were friends now.

“Just fine,” Carth replied, “And yourself?”

Gad moved back to his armchair and Kionee sat herself next to Carth on the couch, sitting almost as stiffly in his presence. “Oh, I've been fine,” Kionee answered awkwardly, “Pretty busy, as usual.” What's Carth doing here anyway?

“Your father was telling me that you have been back to Kashyyyk recently,” Carth commented. “How does it all look now?”

“Yeah,” Kionee replied, “Zaalbar and Mission are doing great things there. The Wookiees are really starting to organize, but they still have a long ways to go. So, what have you been up to lately.” The last time they had met had to have been the victory celebration about a year ago.

“I have been chasing the Sith from one arm of the galaxy to the other,” Carth answered, “Thankfully, that's over for me now. I have been assigned as military adviser to the Telos Restoration Project.”

“Oh right,” Kionee exclaimed, “I saw you on the news the other night, in the senate. You must be so happy.”

Carth cracked a smile. “I am,” he affirmed, “I never thought I'd be going home again, or that I'd have a chance to play such a substantial part in its restoration.”

“Wow, congratulations,” Kionee marveled. Carth really was a great man, even if he didn't seem to realize it himself.

“Actually, I came here hoping to talk to you about that,” Carth shifted the conversation.

“About Telos?” Kionee asked.

“Carth here called me yesterday at the office, looking for you,” Gad explained brightly, “I told him I could do one better than the Viridian's info. I could get him to you in person. It really is your lucky week, Carth.”

Carth laughed politely. “You're right it is,” he agreed, “Anyway, Kionee, I already talked to your father about this, but I know I promised to look out for some kind of job you might like.”

“Oh, you didn't have to worry about me,” Kionee protested quickly.

“The Telos Restoration Project is going to need a fleet of good, trustworthy pilots,” Carth continued, “to bring the new plants and wildlife to Telos from other planets. You're exactly the sort of responsible, adaptive pilot we would be looking for.”

“And the Viridian is already pretty well outfitted for carrying cargo like that,” her father pointed out encouragingly.

“Uh, wow,” Kionee stammered. She had never thought of doing anything like that. “I know the project means a lot to you...” she began slowly, not sure where to go next.

“I'm not asking you to do this for me, Kionee,” Carth assured her, “I'm offering it to you as an opportunity to try something different, if you want.”

“I couldn't leave Rinnh imports,” Kionee protested automatically.

“You don't need to stay with the family business your whole life, you know,” her father pointed out.

“But I'm so established in my routes, with my clients,” Kionee made excuses.

“I have hundreds of other pilots at my disposal, Kionee,” Gad reminded her, “Many of them have worked with your contacts before. The only delicate contact I'm not quite ready to hand over to anyone else yet is in Rwookrrorro.”

“Well, I guess I really can't—” she started.

“But there's no reason you can't still manage Kashyyyk's trades and try out the job Mister Onasi here is offering,” Gad interrupted.

“I—I—” Kionee stammered.

“Due to the difficult nature of your cargo, you would get an increase in pay from Rinnh Imports,” Carth promised.

“I don't know...” Kionee murmured.

“Think of this as another chance for an adventure, Kionee,” Gad urged, “Think what a cannok in your hold would look like.”

“Cannoks?” Kionee asked, wrinkling her nose at the idea of those ugly predators in the belly of her Viridian.

Carth nodded. “Onderon is one of the worlds in the running for a source ecosystem,” he explained. “Some others are Ithor itself, Felucia, Rodia, or even Kashyyyk.”

“Those really are all gorgeous worlds,” Kionee said approvingly.

“A lot is still up in the air still,” Carth qualified, “But I wanted to invite you as soon as I had a chance. It will take at least several more months to set up operations on Telos and ready the planet for a new ecosystem.”

By shipping for TRP, Kionee could help in breathing new life into a dead planet, all-but-destroyed by the Sith. She remembered the day Telos fell. She remembered the heartbreak of yearning to do something—anything to help those people on that planet. Had she gone numb to that feeling in her promise to stay out of the war with the Sith? There were still millions of homeless Telosians, heartsick and homesick, waiting to return home. Kionee felt a twinge in her own chest, thinking about it. “You know what?” Kionee started again with renewed vision, “I'll give it a go, as long as I can still work part-time with Rinnh Imports.”

Both Carth and Gad smiled, satisfied with her decision.

“I'm glad to have you aboard, Kionee,” Carth said, “I can send you a contract as soon as we have a timeline for when freighters like you will be needed. What is the best way for me to get a hold of you?”

“You could hail me on the Viridian,” Kionee thought out loud, “But I spent an awful lot of time in hyperspace. Probably passing on a message through Dad is the best way to make sure I get it.”

“Got it,” Carth nodded. He glanced at his chrono and winced. “I hate to run off on you already, but I have an appointment in the senate district in an hour.”

“Then we won't hold you any more,” Kionee said apologetically.

“You won't join us for dinner?” Gad invited good-naturedly.

“Thanks, but I really can't,” Carth replied, standing. “It was good to see you Kionee, Gad. I will be in contact with you when I know more. I look forward to working with you.”

“Thanks for thinking of me,” Kionee said. He has a lot of more important things to be thinking about.

“And thank you for stopping by,” Gad added, standing to see him off, “Feel free to drop in again some time.”

“I will, thanks,” Carth said and raised his hand in a quick wave before heading for the door. He let himself out without another word.

Gad sat down again and smiled fondly at his daughter.

“You think I made the right decision?” Kionee asked.

“I expected no less from you,” he replied.

“I just can't leave Rinnh Imports,” Kionee explained, as if he did not already understand how she felt.

“You know,” her dad pointed out, “you don't have to stay with Rinnh all your life. Just because this is my dream doesn't mean that it has to be yours.”

“I know, but...” Kionee started weakly. She never had a good answer when the conversation turned this way.

“Sometimes I worry about you, kid,” Gad admitted, “You lock yourself into this job without giving yourself the room to dream for yourself. I'm glad you took that new job, if only part-time. I know there's more up in that noggin of yours than a simple pilot-for-life. You've just got to find out what it is, and you're not going to do that by doing the same thing you've always been doing.”

Kionee looked down at her shoes uncomfortably. “I know, Dad,” she murmured. “And I do want to do this, after all.”

“Good,” he said firmly, “Now, perk up. I've made enough nerf and corn casserole for the both of us to eat that we'll still have enough left-overs for Emtee to stare at.”

Kionee grinned, “I love you, Dad. It's good to be back.”

“I love you too, sweetie,” he beamed.

- Next Part -


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