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Nothing to Prove
Zekk placed his hands on Jaina's shoulders, shook her gently.
"There's a chance Raynar and I won't make it back. He has
to go, and so do I - but I won't put you in that kind of danger."
Jaina looked past him out the cockpit viewports, pretending an
interest in the Sorosuub ion skimmer that had just cruised in the
docking bay. What gave Zekk the right to decide whether or not she
could put herself in danger? Her hands clenched and unclenched a
"If that plague gets loose, none of us will be safe anyway," she
pointed out, still trying to make him see reason. "There's a lot
at stake, and everyone's taking risks. Lusa and Sirra and Uncle
Luke are all going o the inspection team headed for Ryloth. They'll
all be in danger. So will you. You'd stand a much better chance
of coming out of this alive if I came along, you know." A long silence
stretched between them.
"I don't know if you can understand this," Zekk said at last.
He pulled her close to him - a move that surprised Jaina. His voice
was tight with emotion. "I made some choices back when I joined
the Shadow Academy - the wrong choices. I was willing to put the
whole New Republic at risk just to prove to myself that I was as
good as you and your family. All I managed to prove to myself was
how wrong I was.
"I came close to killing you once, because Brakiss had convinced
me - or I had convinced myself - that you thought I was unworthy.
Now the New Republic is in jeopardy again, and I'm one of the few
people who can do something about it." He gave a mirthless laugh.
"Funny thing is, this time I don't feel like I have anything to
prove. I just need to know that you're safe, that your family's
safe, that old Peckhum's safe. I want to make sure that humans,
Wookiees, and all other species are safe from anyone who rules by
murder and hate…or because they have something to prove."
Zekk pulled back, and his emerald eyes bore into Jaina's. "I'm
going to try to save Raynar's father. But if I can't, I'll do whatever
I can to keep the galaxy safe - whether it means blowing up his
ship, or my ship…or everything."
Jaina sensed the fierce determination in Zekk. Her eyes filled
with tears, and she tried to blink them away. Yes, she understood.
She understood only to well, and she knew there would be no changing
Zekk's mind. She unclenched her fists, slid her arms around his
back, and squeezed him tightly. ….
"Well then," Jaina said, somewhere between a laugh and a choke,
"what are we waiting for? We have a ship to get ready for its most
important flight ever. You got everything we need, Em Teedee?"
"Yes, indeed, Mistress Jaina."
Zekk pressed his cheek against hers. "Thank you," he whispered.
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