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Dear Mom and Dad, I typed into the datapad. How are you and the family doing? I know it’s been awhile since I’ve spoken with you, but I am doing well.

That was true, but it just sounds bland and stiff. Impersonal. It’s been awhile since I’ve written my parents and with the change in government and the end of the Clone Wars and all, I suspect they’ve been rather worried about me. It’s just been . . . difficult to write. In the sense that explaining everything that’s happened since we last spoke would be complicated. Even just writing this message seems harder than my dissertation on the origin and etymology of subjunctive tenses in Zabraki.

For example, I don’t even know what to say next. I suppose I should talk about my new job. That’s simple enough—or is it? How do you tell your parents that you randomly took a job on a freighter to avoid retribution from some thugs you accidentally offended by saving a spacer’s life and now you’re pretty sure that you’re a smuggler? They didn’t react well to me staying on Coruscant and finishing school while working at the spaceport during the war instead of coming home and helping rebuild the family fortunes. How would they react to learning that I’m now wandering the spacelanes with Captain R’hask Sei’lar, master of the Hawk-bat?

Something tells me they wouldn’t exactly approve of my new occupation. I don’t even know that I approve of my new occupation. Working at the spaceport, helping inventory and transfer cargoes, arranging maintenance for the ships, that was one thing. It wasn’t my job to worry about what illegal happenings were occurring when I wasn’t looking and I wasn’t in a position to break the law. Now, I’m on a ship that has a reputation for minor smuggling.

Okay, so they’re not exactly gunrunners or spice smugglers. But, it’s still . . . illegal, or at least, it was in the Republic. One of the things about working at a spaceport for a few years, you learn all the important regs and rules about cargo. You also learn to listen in to the spacer chatter in the spaceport cantina, and rumor has it that R’hask Sei’lar is a smuggler. Still, the same rumor has it that he’s one of the few honorable beings plying the spacelanes. The way he and his crew have treated me so far has been consistent with that. After I helped him escape those Trandoshans, he offered me a job so I wouldn’t get into trouble. He’s been courteous and respectful, even as he casually violates half-a-dozen tariffs and trading codes.

Dear Mom and Dad, I’m now part of a smuggler crew, but I feel that it’s the right thing to do. The laws that they break don’t hurt anyone else; they may be outside the bounds of the laws, but they are not what you’d think. These are honorable people.

That’s not going to be easy to explain either. Honorable smugglers and chivalrous pirates only exist in the stories, right? Doesn’t sound quite right, does it? I find it hard to believe myself, and I might not, if it wasn’t for Bespin. Ah, Bespin. How to explain that?

Dear Mom and Dad, I’m now part of a smuggler crew. But they’re nice smugglers. We went to a fancy dinner on Bespin to celebrate a successful run and I had a chance to dance with some of them. They’re all nice, polite people, and good dancers, too. Even Sarth.

Wait, why am I mentioning Sarth? They don’t even know who he is. I mean, I could tell them about Sarth, but should I? Is there any reason to? At the moment, life is complicated enough anyway without spending too much thought on the ship’s engineer and I’m not even sure if I should. There was something different about the way he handled himself around me. He seems to be awkward and halting most of the time, as if he’s unsure of how he should treat me, but on Bespin . . . I think he finally opened up and had a decent conversation with me. It was almost as if he was looking for an opportunity like that to loosen up and relax and show who he really is. There was something I think he almost said while we were dancing, something he was communicating by the way he carried himself . . . but it would be unfair of me to judge him without anything clearer. He may just have been particularly amicable that evening. I couldn’t say for certain if he was trying to tell me that he liked me or if it’s all just in my imagination. Sarth hasn’t said anything about it and here I am conjuring up all kinds of wild speculation like a blushing schoolgirl!

Dear Mom and Dad, I think the ship’s engineer, Sarth Kraen, likes me. It’s hard to tell, because he didn’t say so and nobody else has said anything of that nature. In fact, I’m just guessing based on five minutes of dancing. He seems like a nice enough man, and he’s been very polite.

No, that won’t be making it into my message home either. It’s hard enough to explain joining a ship of smugglers without adding that one of them might like me, especially without giving some hint of my thoughts on the matter. It’s definitely too complicated and speculative a subject for me to include, and it would raise awkward questions—both for them and me. I don’t want to attribute something to Sarth that he hasn’t expressed and I don’t want to confuse myself by trying to figure out something that might all be in my head. Better to skip that topic.

At this point, they’d probably start asking what happened to all my plans of teaching? Why am I not using my linguistics degrees to find a job as a teacher, or at least coming back home to Bakura? Where did all your dreams go, Cassi? What happened to that plan for your life you were following when you left home? They’re all valid questions, but the explanations are, like everything else I’ve considered telling them, complicated.

This message is taking longer to compose than I thought it would. How do you explain to your parents that you’re not the same bright-eyed little girl that you were when you left them? How do you tell them that the galaxy isn’t as black-and-white as it used to be? How do you tell them that the lines between good and evil aren’t as clear as they used to be?

Dear Mom and Dad, this is hard to explain, but I’m not teaching at the university because it was destroyed in the war. All that time I put into my education ended with one crashing ship.

The universe has an ironic streak. The offworlder girl who wasn’t even from a Republic world survives an attack on Coruscant, capital of the Republic, while millions of others perish. A Republic warship that was supposed to be protecting the planet falls from the sky and crashes on the university. Most of the students and professors had evacuated, but it seems like everyone lost people they knew in the battle. The graduating class in xenolinguistics dropped by 38 in the course of a single day. The school is shut down until is can rebuild so there isn’t much chance of a job anytime soon, even if I was willing to accept such an offer. There was so much destruction, so much loss, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

All the plans that I had, all the plans that we talked about, Mom and Dad, they’re gone. Forever. I don’t think I could go back, even if I could. How could I go back to the university without seeing the faces of the mentors and classmates who were lost every day that I walked in the halls? I couldn’t even go to the memorial service. I stayed in my apartment and cried all day for all the bright young lives that had been snuffed out. I only knew a few of the people that died, and not very well, but it still hurt. The only thing that kept me going were my friends at the spaceport. That’s why I can’t go back. That’s why I’ll never go back.

Maybe that’s why I joined the smuggler ship, or at least one reason why I haven’t left. All of those memories from university, the wars, the turmoil that engulfed Coruscant, are behind me, stuck back there while I’m free amidst the stars. Out here, you can leave it all behind: your past, your mistakes, your failures. It’s been liberating.

When I’m staring out of the viewport at a giant crimson nebula in all its radiant splendor, the fiery orbs of baby stars illuminating its scarlet tendrils and mists, it’s a lot easier to forget about all those plans that were destroyed on that day. When I’m gazing at the layered rings and banded clouds of a gas giant spinning its way through space in an eternal cycle, or looking out across the landscape of a new planet, I don’t think about the past. I think about the new horizons that I’m seeking. Does that make sense?

I suppose not; they’ll wonder why I haven’t sought safety back at home, on Bakura, on the farm with them. I want to, some day, but if Coruscant’s taught me anything, it’s that you can’t depend on anything to be safe. At least out here, I feel alive. Out here, my focus is solely on watching out for what’s ahead and not looking behind me. My crewmates watch my back for me, and I’m watching theirs and that’s good enough.

That’s probably not the best explanation I can give to my parents, but it’ll have to suffice. For right now, my place is here, on the Hawk-bat. I’ve always dreamed of seeing what other worlds are like and right now, I’m following that dream. I don’t have any obligations or any burdens to tie me down. Yes, some of what we’ve done has been illegal. I can’t fully justify that, but I’m not an Imperial citizen anyway. I don’t feel particularly obligated to follow all of their laws, some of which are unjust and wrong anyway. I’ve never seen Captain R’hask or his crew act out of malice and cruelty; they are a rough bunch, but they only use violence in self-defense and their smuggling isn’t spice or weapons or anything truly bad. Yes, there’s danger—I probably shouldn’t mention the recent pirate attack over Corellia to my parents. I have accepted that and even if it terrifies me, this is part of the journey I’m taking. Right now, this where I belong.

It’s odd. I have a degree in linguistics and I can speak multiple languages fluently and yet it’s hard for me to use plain old Basic to write a message to my parents. Everything has changed for me since I left Bakura, so much so that it’s hard for me to relate to that dreamy-eyed girl with the two suitcases sitting at the spaceport waiting for the transport to begin loading while her parents stand by her side. I’ve grown up now.

It’s been a wild ride since I joined the crew of the Hawk-bat, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’d be nice if our ventures stayed strictly legal and we could avoid further pirate attacks, but I feel alive out here. I’m part of the crew and I’m following my dreams. One day, I’ll come home, but I have wanted to just explore all of my life and after Coruscant—I needed to get away from everything that was on that world.

My comlink is beeping now; it’s Captain R’hask. Apparently he wants me to check on the cargo before we exit hyperspace, so I need to finish this up. How do I condense all that explanation into something my parents can understand? How do I convey the message that their daughter has changed from the idealistic, dreamy teenager who left Bakura to go become a teacher? Ah well, here goes nothing.

Dear Mom and Dad,

I’m sorry I haven’t written you in awhile. I am okay, so please don’t be worried about me. The war has caused some disruption in my plans and the university position that I was considering was terminated abruptly by a falling starship. It’s a long story, but I wasn’t there when it fell. After that, I don’t think I can teach on Coruscant anymore, though.

It was hard, seeing all that destruction, being around so much grief and loss, mourning those who had died, but some friends at the spaceport helped me get through it. When I said I wanted to leave Coruscant, they got me a new job on a ship, a freighter called the Hawk-bat. The captain’s name is R’hask Sei’lar, and he and his crew are very nice. They’re honorable people and they take good care of me. I’ve seen more worlds in the past month than I ever have before and there are some things in the galaxy that are absolutely beautiful. I’ll attach the holos so you can see some of the places I’ve been.

I know it’s hard to think of me as a spacer now, but don’t worry, I don’t plan on doing this forever, or even for very long. I just needed some time to get away from Coruscant and to rethink what’s important in life, to think about what comes next for me without any other pressures or influences. One day, I’ll come home and settle down and my wandering days will just be a story we’ll tell the nephews and grandchildren, but right now, my place is out here in the stars.

I love you both very much and I miss you. Give my love to Hylia, Charis, Storin, and Alessa. I’ll be home before you know it.

Your loving daughter,

Cassi Trealus

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