___A tempestuous blizzard roared around Yoshiko. She felt the chill of the wind and snow on her face. The icy flakes stung her skin, and the howling wind threatened to tear her away. The woman was alone, trapped in the middle of a raging storm. She felt helpless and scared. Yoshiko had no idea where she was or how to return to safety. She had no choice but to press on, trusting the storm would pass.
___♫ Child, if it should happen that you grow and thrive,
Remember that you were brought up at your mother's knee. ♫
___A lullaby pierced the deafening din of the snowstorm. The song was hauntingly familiar, its words echoing through the air despite being in the open.
___"Mom?" Yoshiko called out weakly through her chattering teeth. She trudged through the snow towards the source of the voice.
___♫ Always recall in your heart these three things:
When you came, what you are, and what shall become of you. ♫
___Through the blinding white, Yoshiko could see a figure standing motionless, gazing down at the ground. It was a Fiani woman, her brown hair somehow still amidst the billowing nightmare of the blizzard. "Mom?" Yoshiko repeated, compelled by some overwhelming sensation in her heart, her voice barely above a whisper. The woman turned, green eyes meeting Yoshiko's. A warm smile curled up her lips, and she spoke.
___«Ra skae j'enazel.»
___In an instant, the tempest stopped, the wind calming to nothing more than a gentle, pleasant breeze. The chill of the air turned to a comfortable warmth. The world fell still around the two. Yoshiko's mouth fell open in disbelief as her eyes gazed upon her mother's face. She could feel hot tears beating at the back of her eyes and her heart pounding. Yoshiko collapsed to the ground, exhausted.
___"Is it really you?" she asked as her mother approached. Her mother reached down to place a warm hand on her shoulder, and renewed strength filled her body. An astonished Yoshiko slowly rose to her feet, her eyes never leaving her mother's face. "Mom?" she asked again, her racing heartbeat replacing the noisome din of the storm that had vanished without a trace. The woman nodded.
___"Yes, love," the woman replied. "My sweet, darling Iko," she cooed sweetly, her hand moving from Yoshiko's shoulder. Her fingers gently caressed her daughter's cheek, the tips softly brushing comforting lines from top to bottom. "You're as beautiful as I knew you'd be." her mother finished before turning away and walking back to where she stood before. Yoshiko tried to follow, but her body stubbornly refused to obey.
___"Wait!" Yoshiko exclaimed. "Mom, please, come back! I wanna go with you!"
___"Would that you could, my love, but this moment will have to be enough," her mother replied, facing her again. She still smiled that warm, loving smile when Yoshiko first saw her. Yoshiko continued fighting with her body, trying to will herself to move, and finally, it was working. One heavy leg lifted and dragged itself forward through the snow.
___"Yer leavin' again!" Yoshiko shrieked like an animal in its death throes, her voice cracking. "Why are y'leavin' Daddy again? Why are y'leavin' me again?!" she wailed piteously. Her body thrashed and struggled in her mind, and control was slowly returning.
___"Ra skae j'enazel, sometimes, things in life are decided for us," her mother answered. "You will understand someday, in the place where you blossomed from hill to dale," she continued, and as she spoke, the winds around them quickened. Yoshiko's control strengthened. "When all seems lost and darkness closes around you, search the sky, know that I am there and always with you. Momma always has and forever will love you, my precious j'enazel."
___Yoshiko's body obeyed. She lunged for her mother, seeking to close the distance and grasp her hand. As she reached, her perspective seamlessly lurched and shifted around her. She was a child again, slipping and collapsing into the snow whose touch against her skin was once more frigid. The winds blew into another flurry, smothering the Fiani child beneath a blanket of snow and cold.
___"Mom!" Yoshiko screeched, her tiny hand breaking the layer of snow to reach in vain for her mother, slowly fading behind the whirlwind of sleet. "Please don't leave me again!" she bawled, tears streaming down her cheeks in the place where her mother's fingers had been only moments ago. "Please come back! Please! Mom! Mom!"
___Yoshiko snapped up.
___"Mom!" she screamed, reaching out into her bedroom, her hand clawing at and passing through thin air in front of her. The woman was in her bedroom again, the sky outside dark, dominated by the sparkling city lights of Nar Shaddaa. Her breathing was deep and ragged, her face stained by the tears she had shed while sleeping. Di-Gi stood on the nightstand next to the bed, chirping with concern. Yoshiko lifted her hands to her head, her fingers combing through her messy hair. Her hands balled into fists, tightly gripping her locks to pull.
___"She's gone again," Yoshiko bubbled, her voice cracking. She felt like a hand of durasteel had plunged inside her chest and was squeezing her heart. Her breathing quickened, and her senses scattered. She couldn't focus. She couldn't concentrate. She was starting to lose her understanding of who and where she was. The sounds of the city outside dulled and muted behind the loud drumming of her heartbeat in her ears. Everything was so surreal.
___Then, a gentle sensation nudged her side. Yoshiko instinctively reached for it, her fingers coming into contact with something hard and smooth. The physical touch guided her back to reality, her vision sharpening and her gaze lowering. Under her palm, Di-Gi looked up at his mistress with his photoreceptors, inquisitively chirping with worry. Yoshiko's eyes flooded with tears.
___"Di-Gi," the Fiani wept as she curled her arms around her droid, embracing him. "Di-Gi, s-she's gone," Yoshiko howled as her head lowered against the top of Di-Gi's. The droid beeped and whirred as Yoshiko sobbed, squeezing her companion against her breast.