Tower of Time: Long Ago and Far Away
   

The Road to Rediscovery
Part 22 - Balancing Act

Kionee checked her chrono as she rushed through Admin Module 19 of Citadel Station. If this meeting goes quickly, I can be off again before four to get that shipment of pink nostrum from Toprawa before the business day closes tomorrow and be on my way to Bimmel in no time. The unexpected meeting with the Telos Restoration Project's newly hired Ecological Import Coordinator was enough to throw a hydrospanner into Kionee's tightly laid plans. Getting the cannoks out of her hold this morning had been enough of an adventure, and now this added to her delays.

In the past six months since its beginning, Citadel Station had mushroomed from a tiny research station to a livable complex large enough to comfortably house all of the restoration workers, military personnel aside. Still, it looked like little more than durasteel box after durasteel box, strung together into one sprawling orbital complex.

While Kionee was glad that they were finally getting someone to coordinate all of the shipments of flora and fauna to Telos, she scoffed at the administration a bit for not choosing her for that job. She could work out efficient shipment tables in her sleep, with all of her years at Rinnh Imports. They hardly needed to hire someone to sit around in an office on Citadel Station when she could have done it all from the cockpit of the Viridian herself on one of her long hyperspace journeys.

Kionee finally reached the office she was looking for. A hastily pasted paper on the dull durasteel door announced, 'Laylien Horabinger: Ecological Import Coordinator.' Kionee halted, fist raised and poised to knock. “Laylien Horabinger?” she marveled out loud, “They hired Laylien for the Telos Restoration Project?”

Suddenly, the door hissed open on a slender woman with vibrant violet colored hair in a long braid down her back. Kionee had not even knocked yet. “You see,” the woman said to the room behind her, “There is someone else here for you after all.”

“Kionee!” another woman, whose hair was a much more natural shade of brunette, exclaimed from her desk.

Kionee had to step back for a moment to process.

“Well, we should not take up any more of your time,” the man seated next to the desk began.

“Laylien, you're the person they hired for this?” Kionee spurted, “And what are you doing here Leiraya? I thought you and Kylan would never leave Corellia. You guys know each other?” She glanced wide-eyed between the three occupants of the sparse office.

“I shouldn't be surprised that you know the Sheffields, for the way you get around the galaxy,” Laylien laughed, “Come on in, Kionee. Clearly you're among friends.”

Kionee stepped inside and let the door close behind her. “Leiraya's family was one of my first trading partners when I started out working for dad,” Kionee explained to Laylien, then turned to the two Corellians and added, “And Laylien was my best friend growing up on Mon Calamari.”

“Mon Calamari?” Kylan observed, “Niether of you look particularly like fish.”

Laylien let out an infectious laugh and Kionee found herself joining in.

“But I haven't seen you since...” Kionee tried to think back to the last time she had seen her childhood friend.

“Since before I started my masters on Alderaan in public and environmental health,” Laylien pointed out. “That would have been, what, five years or so?”

Kionee nodded. That was before I got involved in the war, before I stupidly thought I could get away with smuggling kolto under the noses of the Sith. I guess it didn't all turn out so bad, though. “Wow,” Kionee marveled, “It really has been that long.”

“I think it's almost been that long since we've seen you too,” Leiraya pointed out. “Though I'm pretty sure I saw you on the holos a while back.”

“What is this about you being some hero of the Republic?” Kylan asked, teasing.

“That was just a lot of stupid mistakes with happy endings and being in the wrong places at the right times with the right people,” Kionee made excuses, then asked, sinking into an empty chair, “So what are you two doing here anyway?”

Leiraya remained standing comfortably with her hands on her hips. “We volunteered to start up a trial orchard here as a part of the agricultural restoration of Telos,” Leiraya explained. “We were just talking with Laylien here about the short-term and long-term goals and needs for our portion of the project.”

“And I'm hoping to get your help in getting what they need,” Laylien told Kionee. “Few people are as well connected in the galactic agriculture sector as you and your family, Kionee.”

“Huh,” Kionee marveled, “I've got say, I didn't expect to find any of you guys here, doing the same sort of thing as me.”

“It's amazing what a call for volunteers for an ecological restoration project can do to gather all the most fascinating tree-huggers in the galaxy,” Kylan mused.

“You know, Kionee,” Laylien started, “I was surprised to see you on my list of freighter pilots for this project. I thought you'd never leave your dad's company.”

“I haven't,” Kionee shook her head, almost startled by the assumption. “Actually, I hate to cut this short, but, I have a pick-up on Toprawa tomorrow, local time, that I have to run off to pretty quickly.”

Leiraya clicked her tongue disapprovingly. “Will you ever learn to relax?” she teased.

Kionee laughed wearily. “I like being busy,” she replied, “I like being useful. I've got plenty of time in hyperspace for napping. I want to utilize every moment of real space that I've got.”

“I'm surprised you haven't settled down in one place yet,” Laylien observed, “Your dad could give you a nice desk job any place you like, I'm sure.”

“I haven't found any place that can hold me yet,” Kionee shrugged.

“Or just not anyone?” Laylien teased, winking at her.

Kionee blushed and looked at the floor. “No,” she admitted, “not yet.”

“Last time I saw you, your brother Cash was engaged,” Laylien said, “Is he married now?”

Kionee nodded. “And Roshind too,” she replied, “Cash and Laurel had a beautiful wedding in Cinnagar on Empress Teta. And then Cash joined the Koros Imperial Pilots so that he could fly with Laurel. Roshind just got married last winter to another Nubian she met on Corellia, and now she's managing the sector office on Kuat.”

“But no desk job for you,” Leiraya observed, “Figures. It's not my style either.”

“Suits me just fine,” Laylien admitted. “I'm just excited to find a way to be a part of this project. The Ithorians here really are fantastic to work with.”

“It really is amazing that an entire heard of them came to dedicate themselves to this project,” Kylan said, “They will be the new Telos' first alien immigrants.”

“But why are you juggling two shipping jobs anyway, Kionee?” Laylien brought the conversation back.

“Well, Carth—er, Admiral Onasi came to me and asked me if I wanted to do this,” Kionee replied, “And, just like you, I am thrilled to be part of the restoration. I have a lot of hope in it and what it could mean for other damaged planets out there. I really want to see this succeed and to do my part in it.”

“But why are you still working for your dad?” Laylien pressed. “You know he won't love you any less for turning in your resignation. Clearly, Cash did that.”

“Well...” Kionee started, but struggled to find a good answer. I guess it hadn't crossed my mind in a long time... “I've always done this, I'm good at it, and I like it, I guess.”

“That sounds pretty halfhearted to me,” Leiraya said, “Compared to your reasons for working here.”

“You could do a lot more for the Telos Restoration Project if you didn't have to ship fruit around for Rinnh Imports,” Kylan added.

“I—” Kionee fell silent and thought it over. Dad has never once pressured me to stay with the company. He's even tried to push me out to do other things now and then. Working with the Telos Restoration Project is really a cause I believe in. I'm helping people for the future. I'm helping a whole planet get back on its feet.

“Not to sway you or anything,” Laylien started, “But I was calling you in to ask you to make a few more runs for me. We're short-handed on pilots willing to put wild animals in their holds for as low a salary as we're giving.”

Kionee sighed and looked around at her three friends. Here she was, working for a cause she believed in with friends she loved and wanted to spend more time with. She didn't want another five years to go by missing them and not even noticing it. I would get a lot more out of my real space hours if I just had more of them. “You all want me to quit Rinnh Imports, don't you?” Kionee asked, meeting their eyes.

“Well, there is some bias here,” Leiraya replied with a shrug and a smile.

“We just want you to be happiest,” Laylien said firmly, “And I think you're short-changing yourself with all the work you've loaded on.”

“You might be right,” Kionee admitted. “But I need to think about it.” She checked her chrono and nearly jumped out of her seat, “But for now, I need to get going to Toprawa if I'm going to make my shipment in time.”

Laylien smiled. “Tell me what you decided when you get back to Citadel Station with your next load from Onderon,” she said.

“And do drop by our orchard on the surface some time,” Leiraya invited, “I think you'd enjoy it.”

“Thanks you guys,” Kionee said with a smile and stood. “I'm so glad I ran into you all here. See you soon!” It feels good to be able to say that. It was nice to be able to leave know that she really would see her friends soon again.

- Next Part -


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