M. J. SKYWALKER MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER, DAY ROOM
"Mmm," Tandra mumbled appreciatively, taking a bite of the hearty beef-and-vegetable stew that the Medical Center's stalwart chefs had prepared. "Not bad, for something you serve crazy people." She rolled her eyes, to the knowing chuckles of her fellow patients. There were ten of them in the sunnily-lit Day Room at the Mara Jade Skywalker Memorial Medical Center. All ten--five men, four women, one child--were clinically certified to be insane.
Only one, however, claimed to speak to the dead. That was why Joran poked her. He wasn't one of the patients with a "potential for violence", as Tandra knew to her immense relief. He was simply a man who had slit his wrists after surviving the raid conducted by Sethos' men. Why had he lived, and his wife and children had not? It was as simple as this: As the thugs hired by the Dark Lord of the Sith had fired six blaster shots--two apiece--into each of their quivering foreheads, Joran had been hiding in one of the bedroom storage compartments, cowering. That, and not grief, was the real reason why he had decided to end his life. His cowardice haunted him day and night.
He was desperate for comfort, and release from his all-consuming guilt. When Tandra Kerthian, one of his fellow patients on the ward, said she could speak to those who had passed "onto the other side", Joran found hope at long last.
"Tandra?" he asked timidly. "Session tonight?" His eyes were wide, yearning.
"I'm sorry," she replied with a kind smile, wanting to squeeze his hand. "Not tonight. The doctors and nurses are still trying to adjust my sedative dosage." Even though this was perfectly true, Tandra did not want to admit that she'd told Nurse Meilan about him--and that a counselor would be coming his way.
"That's all right. I'll w-wait until tomorrow." He didn't know if he could.
Suddenly the child, a young boy, pointed. "Violent patient outburst?" His voice was utterly cold, a flat monotone. He only spoke in short, descriptive phrases which may or may not have meant anything to the person hearing them.
Tandra gave a start. "I sure hope not..." She glanced around furtively.
The child clutched Tandra's hand, not unkindly, and pointed it toward a mysterious figure. "Armed man," he said. "Headed down toward our rooms."
Tandra's arm dropped reflexively, and she remained perfectly still from fear.