Cockpit Conversation

The steel crafted door hissed shut on the cockpit of the N-420 Nubian Medium Transport entombing it’s occupant in a cacoon of flashing switches and thrumming mechanics. A smile lifted the extra fold of skin on the face of the sullustan as he eased back in the captains chair and placed his hands behind his head in complete satisfaction.

Finally, an environment he could relate to; the familiar surroundings of a starship. How many cycles had he waited for the opportunity to sit in this seat; the single most prominent seat in the galaxy to those like himself - those who knew the call of the stars. To those who knew the language of those vast reaches out there, this place was a shrine of fulfillment; this chair, a throne of absolute power!

Tso Guihu closed his large, bulbous, black eyes and inhaled deeply as his pulse quickened with the thought of lift off; of all the raw thrusting power that would defy Naboo’s gravity and propel he and his companions out into the galaxy! Then he would be useful. Then he would be contributing something to the team. Finally he was in his element!

For a few precious moments, Tso relaxed in solitude. The others had returned to their temporary lodgings in the Queen’s palace to gather their things and prepare to raise ship within the next few hours. Tso knew that he should do the same, but there would be time enough for that later. Now was the time to just unwind and take a few moments to himself; a few moments to reflect and gather his thoughts without the pressures and stresses of his new comrades. Tso had enough to sort through without the incessant personality conflicts and deep, personal tragedies of the others.

Through all that had happened in the last weeks, Tso found himself feeling more and more outclassed by his travelling companions; these jedi warriors and professionally trained soldiers of the galaxy all seemed to pull their own weight during their various missions and excursions. Even the Bothan, Brin’tac Kyen’tir, who had been a simple politician on Corruscant, had somehow learned to tap into a latent talent with the force and had surprised them all with his unexpected surge of fighting prowess during their final conflict with the Federation forces here on Naboo.

If he was honest with himself, Tso had to admit that he had held his own in combat well enough, but his failures behind the controls of every vehicle he had piloted since joining this group had shaken his confidence and still nagged at his sense of significance to the group. Then there were the constant verbal barbs from Tarrsk! The trandoshan seemed to take great delight in reminding Tso of his imperfections.

“As if that son of a motherless ugnaught could do any better.” Tso allowed himself to sneer as he indulged his defensive nature. “Mr. Outcast from his own people, dirty, rotten wookiee-slaver gone soft! If he’s all that, why don’t he fly the next hover craft at top speed through a maze of buildings while being bombarded from every direction by blaster fire? I’d like to see how he does!”

Suddenly aware that he had let himself drift into unproductive musings, Tso wrestled his thoughts back to the present. His parents were practical people and he had been taught at a young age the uselessness of dwelling on things that he could not change. “Trandoshans will be trandoshans after all.” he concluded and sat up in his chair with a shake of his head.

“Enough of that!” he said out loud to himself as he began to run his hands over the panels in front of him. “I’m not going to crash this one. No way! She and I are going to become good friends...”

At that exact moment, his reverie was interrupted by the cockpit door sliding open. Geldar entered behind him catching the last phrase of his statement.

“You wouldn’t by any chance be talking about Lialla would you?” he asked.

Tso was taken aback by the question. “Lialla? No!” he corrected. “I was referring to the ship.”

“Oh, of course. I should have known. What’s a mere woman compared to a shiney, new ship.” Geldar sat in one of the passenger seats behind the co-pilot’s chair and fixed Tso with one of his all-too-familiar penetrating gazes. “Your not still stewing over Tarrsk’s comments about your piloting skills are you?”

“You’re a difficult one to keep things from aren’t you?”

“Well you’re not exactly one of the hardest beings in the galaxy to read either, my friend.”

Tso’s expression warmed to the padawan. Geldar had become a good friend in the short time Tso had known him and he found himself drawn to the young human’s compassion. “No, I suppose I’m not.” he agreed with some amusement. “But, I assure you - however my feelings come across to you - that I will not let some swamp-breathed, oversized reptile intimidate me! I will be fine.”

“Good.” Geldar encouraged. “Because Tarrsk really is an old softy at heart. You just have to get under that tough, scaly hide of his. And besides, I think he respects you more than you think he does.”

“Oh, really.” Now Tso was amused and nearly laughed at the rediculous statement. “Are you sure you speak Dosh?”

“I know it’s hard to read it in him, but give it time and you’ll see what I mean.”

Geldar paused and then changed subjects. “By the way, I came back to the ship to inform you that we’ve all been summoned to the Queen’s audience chamber back at the palace and are expected in about an hour. So you might want to fetch your things pretty soon. I believe Queen Amidala wishes to see us off personally.”

“Yes, I suppose I should get my head out of the clouds and back to the situation at hand.” Tso replied. “It was a nice moment while it lasted. It seems so long since I’ve felt truly at home anywhere.”

“And you feel at home in this ship?” Geldar raised his eyebrows questioningly.

“I feel at home in this chair.” Tso clarified simply. “It is a dream fulfilled. I only hope to honor the trust placed on me.”

“You’ll do fine, Tso Guihu.” Geldar placed his hand on the sullustan’s shoulder and began to rise. “Your a fine pilot and if the force is with us, we shouldn’t have any pursuers trying to shoot our tails off this time, at least not until we get to Darga Prime.”

“I certainly hope not! The Phoenix Moon is a well groomed ship. I would hate to see her wings singed.”

“Phoenix Moon, huh.” Geldar considered. “I wonder who gave it that name.”

This time it was Tso’s turn to read thoughts.

“I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the Senator’s daughter was involved. She strikes me as one who would appreciate the strong, yet graceful image of a fiery bird.”

Geldar was caught off guard. “Who, Lialla?”

“She was the one on your mind when you entered was she not?” Now the Sullustan was taunting the younger man as he too stood to exit.

To Tso’s surprise, Geldar did not laugh, but turned abruptly and made his way off the ship as if pretending not to hear the last comment and beckoned for the pilot to make haste lest he be late to the Palace.

“Well, I guess Jedi aren’t the only ones with powers of perception.” Tso thought to himself. “These humans and their passions! It’s amazing they do as well as they do in the Galaxy.”

With a shrug, Tso followed his young friend, closing the hatch behind him.

The End

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