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The alarm came suddenly, and without warning. We must be under attack, thought Kyle. Slowly, he climbed out of his bunk, stomping and grumbling at his lack of sleep, as the auto-lights came on after sensing movement in the room. The still-blaring klaxon impatiently reminded Kyle of the urgent situation. That’s when he saw it - an intruder, lurking in the corner. It must be trained in the Jedi Arts, for it was subjecting him to Force Blind. Kyle instinctively reached to his side for his lightsaber - not there - he was still wearing his nocturnal jumpsuit. Adding to his anxiety was that the intruder had somehow managed to shield its life signature from the Force. It must be very powerful indeed. Reaching out with the Force, seeking calmness, Kyle shot Force Lightning from his outstretched hand, rendering the corner lamp into a smoldering pile of debris.

“Kyle! Wake up!”, screamed Jan.

Abruptly screwing up his face into embarrassed understanding, Kyle sheepishly remarked, “Sorry about the mess.”

Looking him dead in the eye, she silently walked over to the alarm clock, and demonstrated, again, the simple deactivation procedure. “It’s an alarm clock, Kyle, not a battle klaxon, an alarm clock. Maybe it’s time you see someone about this after-the-fact anxiety syndrome you seem to have? I mean, the Dark Troopers, Jerec and his gang - they’re long gone. I’m worried.”

“Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m really hungry”, he said over his shoulder as he headed off to the food station.

“Me too”, she sighed, “but first I need to visit the refresher.”

The lights flicked on as Kyle entered the room, flies still buzzing around last night’s dirty dishes. Yuck, I wish someone would clean this mess, he thought. “Hey, Jan, the food station’s dirty.”

Still pixilated on the commode, she yelled back, “Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time to clean it up while I’m repairing everyone’s starships at work.”

We need to look into one of those hot little maid-bots to come out here every day, Kyle dreamed to himself.

Shortly thereafter, he was startled from his reverie by the roaring monster that was his stomach. Okay, okay, already, he grumbled. Giving the food station a quick survey, he noted that there wasn’t any free prep-area. He’d have to improvise. Heading to the food locker, he pulled out a couple cans of Cold Carbo-Clumps™. This will do nicely, he congratulated himself. Pushing aside a few dirty plates on the table, Kyle set down Jan’s can, and mucked around the dirty dishes for a few spoons. He found one resting in a flask of left-over Bantha-curds from last night, and another laying on the bulkhead, the later encrusted with dried Mynock eggs from yesterday’s breakfast. Giving them both a quick rub on his jumpsuit, he plopped one in Jan’s can, and one in his own, thoroughly proud with his resourcefulness.

Jan, freshly decontaminated and donning her mechanic’s coveralls, strode into the food station, clearly anticipating a tasty breakfast. The can of Cold Carbo-Clumps™ that Kyle motioned her toward perfectly embodied Jan’s feelings for Kyle at that moment.

Outside, a thoroughly unimpressive scrap heap fired its docking thrusters and nimbly settled itself on the landing pad outside their dwelling, the subtle throbbing of its engines announcing its presence. “I’m normally not the type of girl to eat and run, especially when someone goes through all the effort that you clearly have in preparing this culinary masterpiece, but duty calls”, Jan dryly remarked as she turned her back on the can of Cold Carbo-Clumps™ and headed off to work. And not a moment too soon.

“Have fun at work. See you soon-soon”, he called after her, as she and her ride lifted off, fading into the Coruscant skyline.

Polishing off the last of his Cold Carbo-Clumps™, *burp*, Kyle briefly looked around the food-station, and then promptly set his empty container down on the bulkhead. As good a place as any, he assured himself as he headed to the refresher.

Moments later, Kyle set down his copy of Jedi Party Tricks: Volume IV, stood up, and looked down to admire his creation, which remarkably resembled a Calamari cruiser floating in space. That one’s a beauty. I’ll save it and show Jan.

That out of the way, the new, luxurious Bacta Bath began beckoning Kyle to its inviting embrace. After a quick sniff under each armpit, just to verify that a dose of personal hygiene was in order, he quickly disrobed and settled in. The tub was expensive, but worth every centi-Credit. He could actually perceive his own sense of cleanliness and happiness rising as he sat immersed in the caress of the swirling Bacta currents.

After a ridiculously long time in the tub, Kyle attained an absurd level of sanitation and cheer, upon which he reluctantly emerged from the seductive grasp of the Bacta Bath, his shriveled skin not unlike that of the feared Emperor Palpatine. Noticing the similarity, he threw on his bathrobe, pulled the hood over his head, and cackled into the mirror, “Welcome, young Mara Jade. I have been expecting you. You want this, don’t you?” Clearly, Kyle’s imaginary Emperor had a different motive than Palpatine, and his pre-pubescent charade continued for several minutes.

Satisfied that Imaginary Emperor had proved his manliness to Imaginary Mara Jade, Kyle finally got dressed, pulling on his Jedi Knight outfit, complete with lightsaber. Slicking back his hair, Kyle pointed an imaginary gun at the mirror, winked, and made that clicking sound with his mouth that cool alpha males often make. “You da man”, he flattered himself.

Strutting into the main living space, Kyle took a deep breath and surveyed his domain. It was clearly time to have some fun. Picking up the Holo-comm, he placed a call. After a couple tones, the image of a red-haired woman materialized over the holo-projector, answering the comm with, “Jade here.”

“Mara? Oh, I must have punched in the wrong code. Sorry about that. Since I’ve got you on the comm, how have you been?”, Kyle schemed.

“Fine, thanks. Yourself?”, Mara cautiously responded.

“Great, Mara, just great. Say, you and I have a lot of catching up to do. Would you like to come over this afternoon?”

After a brief pause that felt to Kyle like the passing of seasons, Mara replied, “Okay, let’s give it a shot”, and shut down the channel.

In preparation for Mara’s arrival, Kyle turned on the Holo-tube, and then the Soni-Vibe to some music appropriate for the occasion. And then he waited.

A few minute later, the door-tone sounded, and Kyle answered the door, exuding all his manly charm, “Mara Jade, how do you do?”

“I’m doing just fine, Kyle. Here, I brought you these”, she said as she handed him two rare Alderaanian Moon Melons.

“Wow, thanks”, Kyle replied, not really knowing what to do. “I’ll to set these down over here”, he said more to himself than to Mara as he set them down on the table next to the sofa, before returning his attention back to Mara. An awkward pause ensued, with Kyle and Mara just standing there, staring at each other.

“Want to hear a joke?”, was Kyle’s solution.

Frowning slightly, Mara nodded.

“Where does a noble Sand Person live?”

“You know what, Kyle? I have no idea. Where does a noble Sand Person live?”

“In a Sand Castle! Get it? Sand Person - Sand Castle. Get it?”

“Yes, Kyle, I get it. Very funny”, she patronized him, wondering what she’d gotten herself into.

Kyle too, was not lost on the fact that he was going down in flames, desperate for anything to reverse the tide. I know, I’ll give her a compliment. “Hey, Mara, I just have to say, I really love your melons. They’re so firm and round…”

The cloudy darkness was slowly replaced by small blotches of light that gradually formed the blurry shapes of both Mara’s and Jan’s faces. In addition to his wounded pride, Kyle quickly became aware of the stinging, hand-shaped welt welling up on the left side of his face. “Where am I? What time is it?”, croaked Kyle.

“It’s 18:00. I just got home”, answered Jan. “What happened?”

“He came on to me”, accused Mara.

“Nooo….”, Kyle mumbled, “…I was referring to the gift you brought, your melons.”

“Humph”, was all that Mara had to say.

“I’m sure it was just a misunderstanding”, soothed Jan. “Tell you what, let me visit the refresher, and then we’ll all sit down and visit.”

No sooner had Jan entered the refresher, than a blood-curdling scream filled the quarters. Drumming up all his strength, Kyle got to his feet and stumbled into the refresher, right after Mara. “What is it?”, he demanded.

Jan was curled up in the corner opposite the commode, squatted on the floor, trembling in terror. “There!”, she shrieked, pointing to the commode.

“Oh ya, isn’t it cool?”, Kyle asked as he walked over to the commode. “Looks just like a Calamari space cruiser.” However, when Kyle looked down, he noted that time had not been good to his masterpiece, leaving it more a cloudy vapor than anything recognizably spaceship-like. “Hmmm, I guess you had to be here”, Kyle shrugged.

A chorus of silence was their reply. And then, “Men are pigs”, accused Jan.

"I'll have you konw that I'm a man's man...not an actual man's man...not that there's anything wrong with that", was Kyle's bungled defense.

“Come on, Jan”, Mara comforted with a tender hug. “Let’s go out to the living area”, and they exited the refresher, showering Kyle with icy glares.

“What? What’d I do?! It's not my fault!”, he plead.

Out in the living area, Mara gave the shaken Jan a much-needed backrub, Jan luxuriating in Mara’s cozy grip. “Mara, that feels so good”, Jan mewed. “I don’t know how to thank you.” She turned and gave Mara a big hug, and the two smiled at each other in their newfound friendship.

Pouting at his misfortune, Kyle stomped off to his bunk, leaving the women alone, changed into his nocturnal jumpsuit, and crawled under the covers. As a parting shot before drifting off to sleep, he muttered under his breath, “May the Farce be with you.”

-- Vagabond, 07/28/01




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