It had been many years since Liak'ykam had felt as strongly as she had. Kashyyyk grew smaller, and smaller, and yet she could feel it still, pulling at her as the moon pulls upon the waves, as the wind on the trees. Then there was a single moment and the stars burned and stretched and it was all so very far away. Her heart had let her once before, Liak'ykam thought, but this was the first time she had left it. "I will be back," she said softly - as softly as a Wookiee can - to the window. She did not like the taste of empty promises on her tongue.
Alderaan had been preferable to the ship - there was no cold steel (it was too much like a cage, Liak'ykam felt. The only warmth was in the engine room, where she found herself most of the time - the hum of the hyperdrive was a poor substitute for the forest's noise, but it was something), there was grass between her toes and wind in her fur. The freighter bay where Varen Kray awaited was acceptable. She had gotten used to all this steel and commotion after a few weeks off-world, but she did not think she would ever be truly acclimated to it. Liak'ykam had thought that this little bald one would help her, and she had been correct. She did not quite know how to navigate around these cities and starports - there were lots of words, which had no use to her. The small translation device which she had bartered for - and that, truly, was a stroke of luck, but a story for another day - was able to read some of it aloud to her, but she words did not seem to make sense. They got very angry at her when she tried to go to the Car Go Docks. Go was surely the word for leaving, she had thought. Why did they not let her leave there? The air was thick with the grease of fuel and the smell of money - it was nauseating, like sludge, the feel of commotion and clamor. Greed hung on the foreign words and foreign lips of all the people she tried to speak to. She found so many of them were afraid of her, rumbling into the device that was clipped to the collar of her hood. Very few had time for her, which she understood. It seemed that everyone had been quite busy, but she wasn't sure with what.
Varen Kray seemed more patient, which she had appreciated. "I am looking for someone," she had said. The machine spoke her words for her in Basic. It then spoke his words back: "I am looking for you." They discussed briefly the job - passage sounded very nice, and she trusted this Varen. She did not know much of off-worlders, and they were all so very different - and so very hairless, the poor ugly little things - but she could feel trust in him. He walked with it, and it hung about him in the air. The ship was cold and hard, but there was something faint covering it - memories, maybe. It was like the burnt ashes of a campfire, where long ago, there had been song and feast. Liak'ykam had spent many nights by forgotten campfires, and she thought she could spend a few more. None of her possessions posed any problem with the man, who had called himself a Captain. "I am not your slave," she had told him. "You're my crew." he had said back. That was okay to Liak'ykam. She had worked hard for many years, though never for someone.
Still, she was not entirely foreign to technology. She had lived a rustic life in Kashyyyk, but not an altogether primitive one. While this had been her first trip on a spaceship, she was familiar wtih them, with shields, with blasters, with sonic emitters, with all of it. She had used some technology throughout her life - over three centuries, it was hard not to - but she found so much of it to be so restrictive. She could not feel anything in it, when she held most of it in her hands. There was no life to it. Could these people around her, these spacers and smugglers, not feel things the way she could? Those on Kashyyyk could, she felt. Even those who seemed deaf to it, she could show it to them. Perhaps that was all the little ones needed. A little guidance.
Liak'ykam sat polishing her walking stick, humming softly to herself. Liak'ykam sat outside the ship by the loading ramp, sitting on the floor of the launch pad. She had no desire to stay cramped inside the spaceship any longer than was necessary, and Captain Varen Kray did not seem particularly perturbed by it. She had taken off the translator, as it was desperately and futilely trying to render her song into intelligible words, giving Liak'ykam a headache in the process. Liak'ykam finished polishing her walking stick and the Captain Man was still not ready to leave. She did not need to ask him, or even need to rely upon the Force - he sat tense and tight, coiled up and waiting. They were waiting for others, yes? That was okay with Liak'ykam. It would be like having a little family. She had not had a clan for many years, although she had a few contacts she had traded with from time to time. Sometimes, when other clans had those with sicknesses they could not heal, they found their way to her. She wondered if they would have any use for her here. Perhaps these off-worlders still had to deal with infections from deathspine varactyl bites. A few of them certainly looked as though they had. Just a few hours before she had seen someone entirely blue and without any hair at all. Liak'ykam had stood and stared, head tilted to the side. There must have been some terrible accident with that one.
The next one to come along was very strange to Liak'ykam. This one was all steel and wire, with a false spark of life in its chest. She gave it a warm smile and stood up, knees popping. She told it hello, and remembered she had left her voice translator on the ground. Liak'ykam sighed, and had a suspicion that she would have some communication issues in the future. The little steel one seemed nice enough, as best she could interpret its mannerisms. Strange that Varen Kray would want metal men instead of real ones, Liak'ykam thought. She would try and speak to it, but she did not know what to speak to it about. Liak'ykam had interacted with droids before, but never extensively. There were a few protocol droids she had crossed paths with, and the occasional medical droid, which were utterly useless in her opinion. They were never long-lived in the Shadowlands, at any rate.
The third one made Liak'ykam tense for a moment, her fingers curling around her bowcaster, which she was now polishing (indeed, everything she owned was polished like a motherfucker by this point, but Liak'ykam was a reservoir of patience if nothing else, and not bothered in the least). It was a Trandoshan, one of the few alien species Liak'ykam was well-acquainted with. It carried slavery on its teeth, and its scales did not hide its secrets from her. Liak'ykam stared it for several long moments, not trying to mask her enmity, feeling it billow off her like a cloud. But she breathed in deep and did not think this one was like the others. They were not trustworthy, any of them, but this one smelled too much of juma juice. It did not walk as a predator or carry violence in its hands. He had some weight upon him, which Liak'ykam noted. He is slow,
I should think. He is not one of their hunters. No, she thought, returning her gaze to the old bowcaster (much like the ship, she could feel the memories in it, warm to the touch, thrumming with things she could not forget). Liak'ykam did not seek to greet that one. She would not be cruel to the little one, but she saw no need to befriend one of the enemy.
Liak'ykam remembered once a kath hound she had found deep in the Shadowlands. It had been crippled by one beast or the other, and its back leg was bent almost completely backwards. It howled and screamed in pain, but had enough fury left in it to ward off any predators. It sat, bleeding and dying, as the forest waited for it to weaken. Liak'ykam had felt such pity for the little thing, broken and alone, even though it might have tried to kill her had it been not in the process of dying miserably. Liak'ykam had knelt beside it and sung it to sleep, feeling its heart slow with each verse. When it was calm, she had struck it quickly and ended it with peace. Liak'ykam was reminded of the poor kath hound when the fourth one came in. Such a sad creature, Liak'ykam thought. It was the blue hairless one she had seen before. Oh, the sad thing. Liak'ykam wanted to embrace her. Such a small little thing would never find a mate, Liak'ykam thought. She could not give someone tall sons, and it had some kind of strange tentacles coming from the back of its head. She was far too short and had hips far too thin to make any clan leader consider her for marriage. Liak'ykam had seen one of its kind, she thought, many years before, but it had been green, a nice earthy tone. Liak'ykam resolved herself to be kind to this one, who was surely very alone in this world. Even the ugly ones may have nice spirit, Liak'ykam thought. Liak'ykam did not think she would let the scaled beast or the dead metal one insult this one on account of its hideousness. No, she had some use on Varen Kray's ship, old though she might be - she had her little ones to watch for. Perhaps with some salves she might get a little hair to grow on the blue one. Liak'ykam could feel its sadness, and its fury too. Liak'ykam thought, under the hood it wore (it knows it is furless and tries to cover itself, the poor little one) the same darkness she had felt in the Shadowlands, where there was nothing but the hunt and the prey. It had suffered, Liak'ykam thought. That is okay, little one. I have suffered too. Liak'ykam could tell that this one could feel life, as she could - the breeze when the air was still, the noise when the animals slept, the sun when the night had come. Yes, she would take this little broken one and make her happy, even if she could not make her beautiful. Liak'ykam sighed and put the now-completely-glistening bowcaster down by her rucksack of belongings. There was much suffering in the galaxy, Liak'ykam thought sometimes, and she did not have enough years left to fix even a sliver of it.
Then there was a strange one. It had hands for feet. Or feet for hands. She could feel this one was bitter, and its steps clinked and clanked with metal. It was not dead like the metal one, but it certainly was trying to be. Why would one surround onself with the machines, Liak'ykam wondered. She had gathered some flowers from a field in Alderaan (unbeknownst to Liak'ykam, she had ensured the utter failure of an Organa ancestor's performance in an Alderaanian gardening competition in the process) and was weaving them quietly into her fur, neatly adorning her greying braids. They had stranger scents than Kashyyyk's, but were not entirely unfamiliar. She thought some of them were reminiscent enough of the ones she'd crushed to make dyes, and could almost feel their purpose in her hands if she carried them long enough. Liak'ykam thought perhaps travelling - if not as good as Kashyyyk - could still be enjoyable.
As the many-handed one clambered on-board, Liak'ykam felt a sense of readiness. Our clan has gathered, she thought, gathering her few possessions. She slung the rucksack over one shoulder in a gentle, fluid motion, entirely ignoring the bag's weight. Her bowcaster was strapped over her chest and she used the walking stick to steady herself - although she was not so old that she needed it quite yet - and walked into the ship, savoring one last taste of the fresh air outside before ducking her head down low to walk in. Liak'ykam found her quarters rather instinctively - they just felt like the right ones for her - and set her belongings down. Liak'ykam was not too worried about anyone taking her things. After all, they were a clan now. More pragmatically, Liak'ykam new, the thick scent of wroshyyr trees hung about everything she owned, even if these little ones lacked the noses to smell them. Anyone who fancied themselves a thief would not easily escape the old Wookiee's perception. Liak'ykam moved back into the central area where Captain Varen Kray was and sat down on the floor, resting her back against the wall. She quietly affixed the translator to the collar of her hood as the Captain spoke, and the little earpiece she wore conveyed his words without noisily filling the room with a Wookiee's echo of his words. They seemed reasonable enough demands, although the little one seemed very focused on making his voice heard. Liak'ykam had heard many who spoke far louder - a Wookiee's roar could travel far, indeed - but she often found herself more concerned with the quieter ones. Liak'ykam wore a gentle smile as she watched her new companions settle in. Liak'ykam had taken a position as a crew member with this Captain Varen Kray. She was not fully aware of what it entailed, but she would be traveling with him for quite a while as she understood it. That would be okay. There was lots of the galaxy to see.
Liak'ykam leaned back in gentle silence and watched and waited.