The Short Fic Weekly Challenge Thread!
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11.27.2012 , 09:56 AM |
(Maneera Sindri, do the math)
Senate Plaza spaceport, Coruscant. 0 BTC.
arrived on Coruscant, Captain Breslin left the bay doors open, trusting the offload of his cargo — refugee relief, he explained when Maneera had asked — to a clutch of scruffy-looking dockhands who looked like they couldn’t find “reputable” with both hands and an unabridged dictionary. Maneera objected — “You need to keep an eye on your freight, Captain. And besides, I can deal with this on my own.” — and the Captain blithely ignored every last word. With an arm across her shoulders, he guided her out of the hangar and into the central concourse.
The line coiled through what had been, in less stressful days, the checkpoint for customs and immigration. A harried-looking woman in a rumpled planetary security uniform stood behind the only open window. Silence hung over the room, broken only by the faint buzz of voices at the window and the whispering shuffle of feet as the line inched forward, one tragedy at a time. Once in a long while, someone would leave the front of the line with a look of profound, joyous relief, but smiles collapsed quickly under the weight of fellow survivors’ grim resignation, and the fortunate few scuttled away with all the speed courtesy allowed.
Captain Breslin nudged Maneera forward, and she was faintly surprised, after hours in the line, to find herself finally in front of the open window. “I’m... I’m looking for my family,” she stammered. “My kid brother and sister, and our parents.”
“Names?” the security officer intoned.
“Sindri. Family name, Sindri. Given names, Zeezee...” She shook her head. “Sorry. Zhara and Alendar, Jerec and Irialle.”
“Last known whereabouts?” The woman’s fingers were already jabbing at the keyboard.
“Umm...” Maneera wasn’t quite sure what she’d been expecting, but this was definitely not it. “In the Temple. Jedi Temple.”
More keys tapping. A bright red box popped up on the monitor, surrounding stern white capitals: NO MATCHES FOUND.
“What does that mean?”
“Search and rescue hasn’t yet recovered anyone with those names,” the officer answered, her voice still tonelessly flat as she recited her script. “If you would be willing to submit a genetic sample, we can begin checking unidentified recoveries for familial correlation.”
“Do it.” The woman held out the sampler. Maneera settled a finger into the indent, drew it back after feeling the sharp sting of the needle.
“I’ll need your name and contact information.”
“Maneera Sindri.” She wondered if that would turn up any records of a missing persons report. If there even
a missing persons report. Had they wondered where she had gone? Had it been a relief to be rid of the ugly not-Jedi duckling?
“Contact information?” the officer repeated, breaking Maneera’s train of thought.
,” the Captain replied, taking Maneera’s woolgathering for uncertainty. “Hangar bay 33, berth 6.” The officer nodded, typing again. As the Captain led her away, Maneera could feel the distant, itchy longing for little vials of red and gold.
Next morning, Maneera was up bright and early, beelining for the main concourse. Captain Breslin met her at the bottom of the gangway, a steaming hot cup of caf in each hand; she sprinted past him, waving distractedly. The line had already filled half of its allotted space. Hours later, she stood in front of the same exhausted officer.
“Family name — Sindri. Given names — Zhara, Alendar, Jerec, Irialle.”
The bright red box with its stark white letters covered the screen.
“Sample for cross-matching?”
“I gave you one yesterday.”
, bay 33, berth 6.” And that was that. Maneera wandered back to the ship, wondering what the Captain had done with her emergency stash, and if she could find it without him finding her.
Next morning, Maneera was up at zero-dark-thirty. A pot of caf had just finished brewing, but she ignored it in her rush to get to the concourse. The line was already beginning to form, and she scrambled to secure a place before the first bend. Within moments, the officer arrived to take her place, and the line began its slow march forward.
“Sindri. Zhara, Alendar, Jerec, Irialle.”
The red box and white letters glared back at her.
“On record.” Rather than returning to the
, Maneera stayed in the concourse until the officer packed up her equipment and closed the window. Once the last few hopeful inquirers were gone, Maneera huddled beneath the window, ready to trade the world away for her lost spice.
Maneera woke with a start to the smell of fresh caf. When the haze of a fitful sleep cleared from her vision, she saw Captain Breslin standing over her, cups in hand. She accepted one with a sheepish grin and murmur of thanks, watching the line fill in behind her. By the time she finally caught up to being awake, the officer had arrived and taken her place.
“Sindri,” Maneera stated, not waiting for the prompt. “Zhara, Alendar, Jerec, Irialle. Last known to be at the Jedi Temple. My genetic sample and contact information are already on record.”
Red box, white letters.
“Come on, Mans.” The Captain put his arm across her shoulders, guiding her out of the line. “Let’s get you some breakfast, and then we’ll figure out what we’re gonna do about —” His comm unit chimed. He unclipped it from his belt and thumbed on the display; a tiny labcoated figure stood in his hand. “This is Breslin, go ahead.”
“This is Doctor Lears Ohlmak.” He paused a moment, looking down at something in his hands. "I was hoping to reach a Maneera Sindri.”
The Captain tilted the comm toward her. “Here. Uh... that’s me. I’m Maneera.”
There was another brief pause as the doctor gave Maneera a puzzled once-over. “I understand you submitted a sample for genetic matching.” At her mute nod, Ohlmak continued, “We believe we’ve found one of your family, but we’ll need you to make a positive identification.”
“Who is it, who did you find?”
“Given the age and shared markers, I believe she’s likely your mother, but, as I said, we’ll need you to confirm or deny that.”
“Critical but stable. She’s in a tank now; we expect she’ll be up and about in a day or so.”
Maneera felt her knees wobble beneath her; Captain Breslin shifted his arm down to her waist, holding her upright. “Thanks for the heads-up, Doc,” he replied for her. “We’ll be there soon as we can, just need to know where we’re headed.”
“We have a field hospital established near the crash zone; sending map data now.”
The captain watched as text scrolled in across the bottom of the image. “Got it, Doc. Thanks again.” He closed the channel and resettled the comm unit onto his belt. Once Maneera managed to get her legs solidly back underneath her, he took his arm from her waist. “Come on, Mans,” he said, patting her shoulder. “Let’s see if we can’t scare ourselves up a cab.”
"I may be on the side of the angels,
but don't think for one second that I am one of them."