The cold wind carries us far from our nest,
The cold wind sweeps us where it may.
Cold wind, bear us out of danger.
Cold wind, carry us home again.
—ancient Killik song, from The Joiner King by Troy Denning
The Millennium Falcon’s hold was as dark as the space beyond its worn hull and nearly as silent--save for a soft, mournful humming. Leia Solo was glad for the darkness; she feared having to see the source of the sad melody. Her fear was irrational, and she chided herself for it, but she wasn’t sure anything in the known universe could make the situation she was in any more palatable.
The voice startled her. It was not the voice of one of her children. It was the baritone of a young man she neither gave birth to nor raised. At the same time, the inflections were those Jaina often used when she was concerned for her mother’s emotional state.
Leia fumbled for a switch on the wall. Dim light flared over the hold, illuminating the scuffed floor, off-white walls and the young man and woman sitting in a shadowy corner of the room.
They flinched in unison as the light stung their eyes and then turned together to regard Leia. They moved as one being, smooth and eerily alien, and Leia fought the urge to turn and leave. She’s still your daughter, Leia reminded herself. Zekk’s unblinking gaze wandered over her face, strangely expectant, and she hastily amended the thought. And so is he.
“Is something wrong?” Jaina spoke this time, concern in her deep brown eyes. She was sitting close to Zekk, her head cocked to one side as he gently stroked her back.
“That’s what I was hoping to ask you,” Leia replied. Her smile felt empty, lost somewhere below her tired eyes. “You sounded sad.”
“We miss Taat,” Zekk said, his eyes softening in bittersweet remembrance.
“We want to go home,” Jaina added, rubbing her forearms together as she bit her lip.
Leia had to look away for a moment and take a long, calming breath to regain her composure. Her daughter’s incongruous gestures blended the idyllic past of childhood with the jarring reality of maturity. They took Leia back to Jaina’s days as a headstrong adolescent and then carried her right back to Jaina’s present state as a Joiner.
“We are lost,” Zekk whispered.
Jaina nodded, leaning closer to Zekk as though he could warm her. “It’s like … it’s like Ennth is destroying herself and our parents have died again.”
Leia started. It was the first time that Jaina adopted Zekk’s character traits and feelings. For most of the trip, his personality was overridden by hers. Another sliver of shock ran through Leia as she watched Jaina reach out and run her fingers down Zekk’s face; usually Zekk’s gestures of comfort went unreciprocated. In response, Zekk pulled Jaina even closer, and the two sat huddled together like lost children, clicking and humming and looking at Leia with wide, frightened eyes.
Snap-click. “We don’t want to feel like that ever again.” In Jaina’s voice Leia heard the wavering uncertainty of an orphan facing the galaxy alone for the first time. “We want to go home.”
Where is your home? Leia wondered, lowering herself to the floor before the two Killik/Human hybrids. In a nest? The idea hurt more than Leia thought was possible.
“Our home is with our family,” Zekk said, answering Leia’s unspoken thought. “With those who—”
“—understand us, those who need us,” Jaina finished. She and Zekk studied Leia, identical expressions of accusation and vulnerability on their faces.
“You don’t need us,” Zekk said, giving the vulnerability a voice.
“You don’t want us,” Jaina added mournfully.
Leia flinched. Since learning of Jaina’s strange state, she and Han were unable so far to come to terms with the fact that their daughter, linked as she was at the mind with another Jedi, could still be their little girl. Often, whenever Killik traits manifested in Jaina’s behavior, Leia and Han would hide their faces, breathe deeply, and try to understand what was happening.
Apparently, they were failing.
“It’s okay, Mother.” It was Zekk who spoke and, again, his use of the word mother made Leia start.
“You can’t understand.” There were tears in Jaina’s wide, dark eyes, mirrored by tears welling in Zekk’s eyes of emerald. “You don’t want to.” She pulled away from Zekk, her expression miserable.
A lump rose in Leia’s throat and suddenly the situation didn’t seem quite so strange; rather, it seemed absurdly simple. Her child needed her. She moved forward, placing herself in the gap between Zekk and Jaina, and pulled Jaina’s head down to rest on her shoulder. After a moment of indecision, Leia reached up and pulled Zekk’s head down onto her other shoulder.
“I’m trying to understand,” she whispered, and the two of them relaxed. Running her fingers through Jaina’s hair, she sent a wave of reassurance and love through the Force.
After a long moment, Jaina whispered, “We haven’t had a mother in a long time.”
Leia knew it was not Jaina’s heart that spoke, but Zekk’s. “I know.” Feeling slightly uncomfortable, she rested her cheek on the top of Zekk’s head. “I know.”
Zekk hummed contentedly and Leia gradually came to recognize the tune as the song the Killiks had sung in parting.
“The cold wind carries us far from our nest,” Jaina murmured, her voice soft as she joined Zekk in singing.
The rest of the song came to the top of Leia’s mind and, as she used the Force to turn the glowpanels dark, she began to hum along with the Joiners. “The cold wind sweeps us where it may.” Jaina and Zekk fell quiet, letting Leia continue to sing on her own.
The darkness, the stillness, the warm pressure of the Joiners leaning against her, brought a hitch to Leia’s voice. “Cold wind, bear us out of danger,” she sang, silently pleading for the cold wind carry them through this darkness, to take them to a place where they could rest, and heal, and become whole. …
“Cold wind, carry us home again.” As Leia finished the song, she felt her heart clench and added silently, Wherever home may be …
Original cover by Jedi_Commander_Faofa. HTML formatting copyright 2006 TheForce.Net LLC.