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Links to the Past, Part I

Posted on Tue Oct 15th, 2019 @ 3:13am by Zenarrah Sozo & Amare & 2-1BH "Useless"

Chapter: Chapter V: Unbound
Location: Medical Bay, Red Raptor
Timeline: Evening, Day 4


Zen turned in time to see Amare offering her persistent visage of confusion to her.

"What does he mean by 'notions of parenthood'? What do you want from me?" Amare asked.

The initial answer Zen gave her daughter was a mild sigh and a weary smile. "The same things I've always wanted from you..." she answered after a short pause upon reaching Amare's bedside. "...time and trust."


Amare scoffed. She couldn’t hide her heightening confusion and growing frustration with the middle-aged Nautolan stranger. “Time and trust? Who are you? You speak as if we are familiar with each other. Have we met before?”

Zen allowed herself a brief chuckle in reply.

“That wasn’t a joke,” Amare spat with a harsh glare. “I have a right to know who you are!”

“More than you know,” Zen said nodded with a smile.

“Stop being so insufferably evasive!” Amare shouted right before letting a sharp yelp of pain surging from her wounded leg. “Ow…nnnngh! It hurts so kriffing much!”

“Mistress, you must avoid stressful situations to prevent the bacta suture from dehiscing,” Useless chimed in.

“Nobody asked you!” Amare redirected her ire at the hologram. “Begone!” And quickly the medical program’s digital avatar winked out of sight.

“Continue to monitor her status, Useless, and thank you for the sound advice,” Zen ordered calmly then turned to Amare. “Such an odd name for such a helpful computer program. Rather disrespectful I would say. You must learn to accept wisdom when it's offered. Even from a droid.”

“I don’t have to listen to any of this,” Amare said with the limits of her patience tested beyond her present tolerances. She pointed at the door, “Get out! I have nothing to say to you.”

Zen ignored the petulant demand, understanding Amare’s deep rage and antipathy after having survived one of the most dangerous places and perilous battles anyone could ever imagine facing in their lifetime. She instead turned her eyes to examine Amare’s bare feet and was loathe to witness what she saw. She quietly turned and went to the supply drawers to search for what she needed.

“What are you doing?! I said—” Amare started to raise her voice again.

“Capasegno Wolph,” Zen quickly cut in louder as she found her objective, then lowered her volume when she controlled the narrative again. “Does that name mean something to you?”

The momentary silence from Amare offered the purest answer Zen had been seeking. The words Amare said after were just sprinkles on the cake. “How do you know that name?” Amare’s tone became dangerously furious as she took hold of her shoto at her side but kept just shy from igniting it. “Don’t you dare say it in my presence again.”

“The man you called ‘father’ for much of your life is…was a good friend of my family,” Zen said as she withdrew a simple plastic 500cc kidney-shaped emesis basin. It wasn’t the size she hoped to find, but it would have to do given the limited resources on the ship. Alongside that, she gathered fresh gauze, sterile pads, a small 8-ounce bottle of pink liquid soap, and some washcloths. She turned to Amare and said solemnly, “I am deeply sorry for your loss. I heard what happened.” Upon seeing Amare was at a loss for words, Zen turned to bring the basin to the water dispenser and added, “He helped my parents when they had nothing. The Wolphs were a generous brood. You were very lucky to have grown up with them. Our people are not as kind to one another as we once were.”

Hearing the running water helped calm Amare a bit as she gradually relaxed her grip on the shoto and stared at her feet dejectedly with a labored sigh. “I miss him a lot,” she said as her memory quickly flashed to the fatal moment when she shot him on the family’s starship. She closed her eyes tight and turned to the wall adjacent to her bed. “This is just so hard to believe.”

“What is?” Zen asked as she placed the nursing supplies on the beside table next to Amare.

“That you, of all people in this great big galaxy knew my father,” Amare said as she turned to look upon Zen again with heavy scrutiny. “It’s just…so…”

“Absurd? Ridiculous?” Zen gently offered as answers with a mild grin.

“I was gonna say improbable, but yeah, those too,” the younger of the two relented. “What are doing with that stuff? I’ve already been treated.”

“I’m a certified paramedic,” Zen explained as she began to add the soap to the warm water in the bin, soaked one of the washcloths, and began to gently stir the solution together to form suds on the water. “Had I not been taken into the care of the Jedi, I imagine I would’ve become a nurse or perhaps even a doctor. Those are nobler professions these days truth be told. I have grown to have more respect for homeless panhandlers on the streets than I do the Jedi. May I cleanse your feet?”

The request was an odd one to Amare. “My feet? Why? What’s wrong with them?” She gazed at them and wiggled her big toes. “They feel fine…I think.”

“There is a custom on Cularin,” Zen clarified. “Before the Jedi found me as a child, I vaguely remember my father washing the feet of his friends after a long day in the mines. Father was an assistant to the foreman, you see, and he believed that having authority over others should never be an excuse to dismiss opportunities to show compassion and humility after an honest day’s work. You would’ve loved him. He loved children of all species. The hardest thing he ever did was giving me to the Jedi, but…the offer of monetary assistance for three years was too hard to deny.”

“He gave you up…for money?” Amare asked, aghast at the idea. “That’s…wow...what a scumbag.”

Under normal circumstances, Zen would’ve snapped at her daughter for such Human-like insolence, but her own guilt as a child-abandoning mother tied that impulse down on a very tight leash. She simply stared blankly at Amare seeking permission for the cleansing.

To Amare’s credit, her time away from Glee Anselm hadn’t robbed her natural ability to read the silent Nautila request in the churning oil-like swirls in the older woman’s eyes and relented with a nod and a look of shame for realizing the depth of disrespect in her words. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s easy to judge others you don’t know,” Zen said mostly with accepting serenity, but also let slip a slight twinge of disappointment in her tone. She began to gently wipe and massage Amare’s feet with the soothing warm soapy water and clean hand towels. “But I understand your loathing. No parent should abandon their child for any reason, even if that child is justified in hating them for past wrongs. Everyone deserves redemption...well, almost everyone. I, too, made the same mistake, you see. So goes the father, so goes the daughter.”

That last statement wasn’t lost on Amare, but Zen’s technique had soothed and relaxed her so much, all she could do was stare in wonderment at such a remarkable confession.

“As for his fate,” Zen added after a brief awkward pause having expected a remark from Amare to what she just said, “he, along with my mother and brother, was murdered in a workers’ revolt. Father saved the foreman’s life at the expense of his own. My brother attempted to save our father, but the mob descended upon them too. Mother tried to fight back with just her hands to protect her family, but...the rioters had laser drills and knives. Had I been there...there's no telling what I would've done.” She shook her head, the very thought of the news of the tragedy causing her whole body to shudder with grief.

“I would've killed them all,” Amare said partly to herself in smoldering dark thought. “Not one member of that mob left alive.”

“It is righteous,” Zen said, partially disturbed by Amare’s inclination towards revenge, “and justified when blood calls for blood given what happened, but know that most of those people had spouses and offspring too. One should take great care when considering the act of vengeance; it has a tendency to create orphans. Anyways...” she breathed a sigh and added, “...I never got the chance to know them very well, the Sozos I mean, but I loved them all the same, and I never blamed father for what he did. When you’ve lived in squalor and misery for as long as they have, you would understand why he sent me away and took the Republic’s money.”

A moment of silence passed between them; Amare seated upright on the bed watching Zen’s calloused hands work on her tender feet. The former’s short bursts of impertinent rage had faded, and she found that she had no words for Zen’s terrible loss. Another terse apology didn’t seem fitting. Sometimes Zen would glance up at Amare’s face, and show a warm subtle smile, as if wanting to say something personal or wise to her. Amare could see the emotional swirls in Zen’s large aquatic eyes, and for the first time could feel there was something meaningful between them, but she couldn’t quite place what it was.

“How often do you meditate?” Zen quietly asked as she finished and began to pat dry the younger Nautolan girl’s feet.

It was yet another strange question that Amare, at first thought, wanted to shrug to in response, but then she remembered what she learned from the two Rift Jedi on Lorrd. “Not for some time. I…studied under a Jedi Master and his padawan for a short time not so long ago. They taught me the basics of meditation and its power to center the mind and body. They…” she sighed, wishing she hadn’t had to bring up the painful memory again, at least until she had the chance to finish the odyssey of her trials on Lorrd to Thane and Bomoor. “…they were good to me, but I…I…” She breathed heavy again, unable to power through her deep-rooted guilt.

Zen could sense the turmoil in Amare, the aura of dark power around the young one amplifying as she tried to explain what happened. Zen gazed down to the floor for a moment and fought a pitched internal battle in her mind and across her hearts over the agonizing decision to pursue using a Force technique she knew would change things forever, but it would definitively sort things out between them once and for all. What the consequences would be afterward were likely going to involve more turmoil and chaos. After years of meditation on the subject, however, she understood with every molecule in her body that it needed to be done. Amare deserved to know everything, even if it added to the pain. Zen Sozo owed the last known surviving Wolph the truth, and a whole lot more.

“I understand,” Zen empathized as she set the cleaning materials aside. “Let me see your wounded hand.” She carefully removed the bandage and gauze over the burn where Nala’s lightsaber had grazed the base of Amare’s left palm, just above the wrist. “Very fortunate she missed the rest of your hand. I would hate to see you with one of those cybernetic prosthetics; very ugly. The bacta healing looks good. Useless did a fine job. How is the leg?”

“It’s been better,” Amare replied, the pain thoroughly dulled by her medical dressing, but even the analgesia wasn’t enough to hold back the entirety of the lightsaber slash. The wound was deep enough for Zen to dare not remove the dressing just yet. “Aren’t you going to ask me about them? The Jedi, I mean?”

It was Zen’s turn to breathe in a heavy dose of recycled starship oxygen as she shook her head and cleaned her hands with some alcohol-based hand sanitizer. “Sometimes words aren’t needed. There are better ways for our kind to learn the truth from one another. You are indeed powerful in the Force, this much is easy for me to see. I can teach you a method to share thoughts more efficiently with those closest to you. It is an intimate form of communication that makes it so that one can convey raw truth through an exchange of feelings and memories. You are wary of me, this much is certain given what you’ve been through, but I promise this will not harm you in any way. I warn you, however, that the things you will learn about me may not be pleasant, but you would know me far better in a few minutes than what years of spoken conversations could ever come close to achieving.” She extended one hand to Amare, palm up, to take hold of. “Please, take my hand. I will open all my truths to you without reserve. Anything you learn can be shared with your friends if you so choose. I have nothing to hide from you or them.”

Amare gazed down at the offered hand and cautiously held her hand over it. She gazed up at Zen, searching for even the slightest sign of duplicity in Zen’s eyes, but could neither see nor feel any through the Force, at least on the surface. “How do I know this isn’t some kind of Jedi trick?” Amare asked.

Zen smiled, “You don’t, but I am no longer a Jedi, and I promise you this is no trick. Search your feelings, child. All I ask is your trust. It is within your power to honour me or deny me. And if it was a trick, you have the power to do something about it, don’t you?” She nodded, and Amare nodded back in agreement that she was possessed of the mystical and physical means to fight back, but she had a gut feeling that wasn’t the outcome Zen hoped for. It didn’t take the Force for Amare to perceive Zen’s genuine respect for her, and Zen did, after all, fight to protect her from Nala on Korriban. A debt of trust was owed, and Amare had grown up with the mantra that “Wolphs always pay their debts”.

Gingerly, Amare’s hand descended gently upon Zen’s. When the elder Nautolan extended her other hand out, Amare glanced at Zen one last time before accepting it with her wounded hand. Zen was careful not grasp it too heavily, avoiding the still-tender burn wound as much as possible.

“What do I need to do?” Amare asked with hesitant anticipation.

“All you must do is focus your will towards me,” Zen replied softly, “and I will meet you halfway. If at any time you feel too uncomfortable, you have the ability to break away at will. Simply let go, and the link will end. We will also need to stand for this. Can you manage?”

Amare swallowed her fear down and nodded with some lack of confidence as she tried to rise. “Yes, I think so, but why must I stand?”

“Normally, I would do this underwater,” Zen explained, “but since we lack that luxury, standing will permit the power to flow between us more easily. Your burden will be eased momentarily as the exchange progresses. Are you ready?”

Amare nodded skittishly, careful not to place much weight on the bad leg.

“I won’t let you fall, I promise,” Zen assured her. “Now, close your eyes, and probe your will through my hands. Feel the Force between and around us. Imagine it as a waterfall passing down into a lagoon that feeds into a river flowing out to the sea. Let the current of its power guide you to my thoughts.”

Amare took a slow breath as they each followed Zen’s instructions. For a moment, Amare felt almost nothing beyond the mundane, but then something triggered starting with a mild tingle in her fingertips as she touched Zen's soft skin, followed by a rushing surge of heat running through her arms. Zen, likewise, felt very much the same. A brief few seconds later, their lips parted ever so slightly in tandem, a soft inhale of exhilaration breathed into their lungs as their head tendrils—all twenty-eight between the two of them—began to rise up in the air above them, the tips stretching up to brush the metal ceiling. As their sensory appendages rose up unnaturally, their very bodies started to feel light, and they began to levitate together several inches above the floor.

For the next five minutes of time, two minds had blended to become one. So deep was the intimacy of the link, that neither had fully realized in the midst of their hovering connection that their holding of hands had evolved to a loving embrace. The mother had finally, and truly, been reunited with her daughter.



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