Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Trieste, Oct 4, 2010.
Thought that was a good one!
Theed, Naboo, Amidala Plaza
An angry crowd surged toward Theed Palace waving the flags of Kerren shouting “Justice!” and “Let true democracy return to Naboo!”
Robert Norden, Captain of the Palace Guard, took one look at the crowd and knew that he had a problem on his hands. He could see that some of them were armed and were out for more than a stroll through Amidala Plaza. They were out for blood and they were angry. The death of Theodore Redmayne had brought chaos to Kerren. Now it was Theed’s turn to experience chaos.
“Sound the alarm! I want a perimeter around the main approach to the palace now!” Norden yelled into his comm. as he slid down a banister as guards pounded down the stairs in riot gear, emerging beyond the golden doors of Theed Palace in the direction of the surging crowd.
There had been riots in the past over unpopular issues but they had disbanded peacefully. Experience told Norden that something was different today. He wasn’t sure why that was or what might happen but above all else his job was to protect the Queen. He walked up and down the double-line of security that now prevented the crowd from advancing up the marble steps towards the palace. Nobody was going to pass and threaten Eleanor’s life. He had sworn an oath to protect her and he would do his duty.
“Citizens of Theed, cease and disperse at once in the name of the Queen!” Norden shouted.
The crowd stopped and stared at the line of security. Their eyes reflected the pain in their hearts at the death of two very prominent nobles of Naboo. Reason was starting to slip away from them. Full anarchy had nearly descended upon the populace who took the deaths of Underwood and Redmayne as a sign of all that was wrong with Naboo, all that was wrong with the undemocratic system that had ruled the planet for nearly 56 years. They wanted change and today they wanted change by any means necessary.
“Democracy now!” The crowd began to chant.
“Cease and disperse or I will give the order to fire!” Norden warned
The front line of the crowd surged forward, Norden took a step back. Maker, are they really so desperate?
“Fire at the pavement, one volley,” Norden commanded.
The first line of security aimed their blasters just in front of the crowd and opened fire. The shots sizzled into the cobblestone streets but still the crowd surged forward, ignoring the warning, ignoring the fact that they had crossed the line into open anarchy, open rebellion.
“Sir, shall we fire?” one of the security personnel asked.
Norden felt his mouth go dry. He looked back at the palace and half hoped the Queen would make an appearance, something, anything, to prevent the blood that was sure to be spilled.
“Put your blasters away! Use your batons, but for Maker’s sake, do not kill anyone!” Norden shouted as he looked to the crowd.
Screaming, yelling, the crowd launched themselves on the wall of shields as the security forces tried to beat back those who would threaten all that the ordered world of Naboo stood for and believed.
Queen Eleanor Vehn heard the screams of the battle down below and tried to rush to a balcony to see if there was some solution to this problem, something she could do to help.
“My lady,” one of her handmaidens cried out, “the security forces are falling back to the palace! They cannot hold, you must flee!”
“No,” Eleanor responded,” I will be staying here.”
“But your life may be in danger!”
“And that may very well be. You may flee if you must. I am staying,” Eleanor said.
A scream down the hallway drew her attention to the locked door of her private chambers. They were close.
“They’ve broken into the Royal Quarters! You must go!” Her closest handmaiden whispered.
The door to her private chambers burst open as armed men rushed the room. Several of her handmaidens resisted, they were shot down for their troubles. Eleanor screamed as the closest of the men threw a dark, smelly bag over her head and wrenched her to the ground.
She felt a sharp pain in the back of her head and then everything went black.
Norden, bloody and uniform tattered, half-collapsed into the Queen’s chambers. To his astonishment and horror, the Queen was gone. He saw the bodies of the dead handmaidens and feared the worst. An icy feeling settled in the pit of his stomach. Several
other security personnel slid into the room, weapons drawn.
“Sir, what’s wrong?”
“The Queen has been abducted by brigands from Kerren. All is lost and Naboo slips ever closer to war."
He had failed the Queen, more importantly, he had failed himself.
Chancellor’s office, Coruscant
“Madam Chancellor, there has been a development,” Saldor Kann said, entering Kerry Trieste’s office.
The word “development” was usually not good. Kerry set her datapad aside. “What’s happened?”
“Naboo,” Kann led.
Kerry closed her eyes. Naboo was supposed to be one of her chancellery’s crowning achievements and the protests that had broken out there had now turned it into a headache. As of right now it was an internal matter and Kerry hoped it stayed that way. However, the fact that Saldor was bringing it to her attention meant that it probably wasn’t.
“What’s happened,” she asked, her voice flat.
“Your niece…the Queen, has been taken from the palace. Whether she is currently alive or dead is unknown,” the Ithorian said.
Kerry opened her eyes. “Oh for Maker’s sake, are you Sithspitting me?” she stood from her desk, angrily.
“The palace was stormed by a pro-democracy mob,” Kann said, “Palace guards were unable to keep them back. Her handmaidens were killed.”
“What kind of frakking democratic partisans do they have there?” Kerry shouted, “Killing beings, frak me.” Kerry put a hand to her forehead. “This is just fantastic. Frigging fantastic.” She took a second. “Get me Senator Julmerth. Tell him it’s urgent.”
Half an hour later, the Kubaz Senator from Commenor entered the Chancellor’s office. She immediately took the Chancellor’s hand and buzzed words of greeting, which were translated for the Chancellor who was not fluent in the Senator’s language.
“Chancellor, an unexpected pleasure. How can I be of service?”
“Senator, as Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, I would like to ask you to assume responsibility for a certain matter that I am unable to attend to due to personal reasons, but one that is of great importance to the Republic,” Kerry said, pouring tea for the Senator.
“Whatever it is, I can assure you that I am willing to serve the Republic,” Senator Julmerth said. Kerry knew that the Senator would welcome any enterprise that would increase her prestige.
“Queen Eleanor of Naboo has recently been taken from the palace at Theed. This is, currently an internal matter to Naboo, but I would like the Intelligence Committee to look into the matter and, if appropriate, engage Republican Intelligence to investigate. Given my kinship to the Queen, it would be better if I am not involved in anything dealing with Naboo at the moment, as I’m sure you understand.”
“I completely understand, Chancellor,” Senator Julmerth said, “We will look after the Republic’s interests, which surely coincide with those of Queen Eleanor.”
“Please take no action solely because I would wish it,” Kerry said, “Only look to the Republic.”
“Of course, Chancellor.”
Saldor Kann entered the office. “Excuse me for interrupting, Chancellor.” He came over to whisper in her ear. “We have just received a courtesy call from customs on Naboo at Kerren. Miss Ayn Dormingale has just had her passport processed there.”
Kerry thought about this for a moment before turning her head to speak softly into the Ithorian’s ear. “Thank you. Keep me updated.” Saldor withdrew and Kerry sipped her tea.
“News, Chancellor?” Julmerth asked.
“Nothing of importance,” Kerry said with a smile.
Ayn was marked by the time she reacher her hotel. She had barely opened her luggage when the hotel comm gently pinged.
“Miss Dormingale,” the hotel concierge said, “There is a delegation that requests a few minutes of your time.”
“A delegation?” Ayn asked.
“So they say. They have asked me to say that they are organizers for Kerrens for Democratic Action. It’s the movement that has put together most of the major rallies in the city.”
“Send them up.”
A few minutes later the door chimed and three humans were revealed when it opened.
“Miss Dormingale, it is an honor,” the first said.
“A pleasure, even,” the second said.
“To have a Dormingale return to Kerren in our hour of need is a sign that will inspire the people,” the third continued.
“Please, sit,” Ayn said, “I left Bakura when I heard of Theodore Redmayne’s death. Now I hear Petr Underwood is dead as well and Queen Eleanor has been abducted after riots in Theed?”
“Riots are what the royalist reactionaries attempt to paint them as,” the second said, “They were spontaneous rallies of the people in support of democracy.”
“But they stormed the palace, didn’t they?” Ayn asked.
“To demand democratic change,” the first said, “The people’s voice has been long suppressed. Now they will have their say.”
“Miss Dormingale, your support would be the rallying cry to unify Kerren and from there all of Naboo,” the third said, “I can only assume you came here ot lend a hand to the cause?”
“I came here out of ancestral love for Naboo,” Ayn said, “love that once burned in my grandmother’s breast.”
“Force bless her,” the first interjected.
“I did not come to join a movement, but to do my part for Naboo,” Ayn continued.
“Miss Dormingale, your family has stood in honor with Kerren these last 50 years. Even the Quorro puppet ensconced in Jade Gate Palace recognized this. Lead the people. Let us have Princess Ayn to take us through the darkness back to democracy,” the third said.
A memory from nearly a year ago passed through Ayn’s mind. A vision of another universe, of her in the palace as Princess in her own right. It had been a shadow of what might have been when it first presented itself to her. Now it was a vision of what might be.
“No,” Ayn said with a shake of her head, “My life, lot, and happiness now lays on Bakura. But I will do for Naboo what I can. May I address your next rally to that end?”
“We will call one for tomorrow,” the first one said.
“When word you will speak is announced, the whole city will be on hand, I have no doubt,” the third said.
“Very good. Now if you will excuse me, the flight from Bakura has been tiring,” Ayn said, rising.
“Of course. Until tomorrow,” the second said and the delegation withdrew.
Ayn did not rest. Instead she got her datapad and started to write.
The next day Ayn ascended the steps of the Jade Gate Palace, the seat of power in Kerren. The plaza behind her brimmed with beings with signs and flags. The buildings that fronted the square boasted beings in every window and balcony.
“People of Kerren, for half a century the name Dormingale has been a beacon of hope—” cheers, “—a beacon of justice—” more cheers, “—and the guardians of democracy—” further cheers, “—and today a Dormingale returns to us!” Wild cheering. “She comes of her own choosing and not of our asking. She comes not for office or power but for love of Naboo. My fellow Nabooans it is my distinct privilege to introduce to you Ayn Dormingale!”
Ayn waved and smiled as she stepped up to the microphone. “Thank you. Thank you,” she said to calm the crowd, “My grandmother long spoke of the warmth and generosity of Kerren. I never doubted it, but today I have now experienced it.” That got the crowd going again. When they had calmed once more, Ayn resumed.
“People of Kerren, my heart rejoices in your yearning for democracy. Throughout the history of the galaxy the drive to take ownership of the collective good has been irrepressible. It speaks to the inherent rights that every being possesses by virtue of being alive and sentient. Often has it been repressed, but never has it died. Today it lives in the light on Naboo.” The crowd cheered.
“And yet my heart is troubled,” Ayn said, “For the palace in Theed has been stormed, the Queen taken. These are not the actions of democrats, but of a mob.” There were some boos in the crowd, seemingly directed at Ayn for taking a contrary stand. “Democracy is a worthy prize, but not by any means necessary as some would claim. ‘By any means necessary’ is polite code for ‘by illegal means.’ You prove yourself unworthy of democracy by acts of violence. So today I say march, speak with one voice, demand democracy—but lift not a hand in anger. Extend only a hand of friendship. If they beat you or imprison you then you have shown the inequity of the very system you oppose.
“And more—if those responsible for the abduction of the Queen hear me, know this: no true democrat will keep Queen Eleanor against her will for a moment longer. I know Queen Eleanor. She is like no other monarch in centuries on Naboo. She holds a view of the galaxy that sees beyond this world, that sees a greater future. She comes from democratic stock and she has proven she sits in no ivory tower, that the welfare of Naboo lies above her own.”
“We have finally stood for our rights, as Republicans, and you would have us give that away?” someone shouted at the feet of the steps.
“The question was would I have you not stand for your rights as Republicans,” Ayn repeated, “I would entreat you to hold yourself to the highest ideals of the Republic and to be the people worthy of democratic rule. It will not come from force of arms but from the conviction of your hearts and from saying, ‘That being is not my enemy. She is my sister and any difference of philosophy between us does not change that fact.’”
“Ayn, lead us! Show us how!” someone called out. The voice was joined by a chorus. With effort, Ayn quieted them.
“My heart lies across the stars even as it beats with yours,” Ayn said, “This road is not mine. Your road will be hard. It will take all you have. Walk with each other. Take your neighbor’s hand and know that in the hard moments you are not alone, but one peope. And when you reach that day, a day of truth, a day of hope, a day of peace, you will know that the long road was worth it, that the shortcuts never bring you to your destination, and that you have done something great for yourselves and for your children and their children too.
“Naboo is worth your best. Give it to her.”
Ayn stepped away from the microphone and the crowd was silent.
“What did you do?” one of the organizers asked her, well outside the range of the microphone.
“What was in my heart and what you needed to hear,” Ayn said.
Then the applause began.
Bakura Gardens, Salis D’aar, Bakura
“Have they started? Am I late?” Ayn asked hurriedly as she came into the Noble House box. Perhaps appropriately, the Miners were to face the Naboo Ducks today.
“Ayn! You’re just in time!” the Chancellor said. The Triestes had already taken their seats. “Come, come! The woman of the hour!”
“Hmmmm?” Ayn asked as she moved to the seats and went to take one in the back row.
“No, up here Ayn. I’d like you next to me today,” Kerry Trieste said, beckoning with her hand.
“Your holo next to her won’t be a bad thing to have, right?” Regan said teasingly.
“Hush. We’ve liked Ayn for years here, haven’t we?” Kerry said.
“Welcome back,” Declan said as Ayn shuffled by him. He rose and gave her a quick peck on the cheek.
“Glad to be back,” she said, returning the favor before she took her seat, “Though I feel like I’m missing something.”
“Haven’t you seen the Times?” Declan asked.
“No, I came straight from the spaceport,” Ayn said.
“You, my dear, are the new toast of the town,” Kerry said, “What was the headline?”
“I believe it was ‘Worthy of Democracy,’” Siona said helpfully.
“In short, the speech made quite an impact over here,” Kerry said, laying her hand on top of Ayn’s on the armrest between them, “Quite an impact.”
“I hope it has that sort of impact on the citizens of Naboo. It was for their benefit, not for Bakura’s,” Ayn said.
“That, Ayn, is entirely besides the point here. You’ve just become the spokesperson for Republican democracy in the Outer Rim—well, that might be going a bit too far, but given the fact that Bakura has always felt some kinship with Naboo, what you said there reverberated here,” Kerry said, “You’re not exactly a household name in the traditional sense, but in political circles beings took note. The right kinds of beings if one wishes to pursue a career in politics, certainly.”
“And you know this how?”
“Though I may not be the leader of Fianna Fail anymore, that doesn’t mean that certain elder figures do not periodically seek my advice and blessing. They recently were asking me about my thoughts on you,” Kerry said, “Don’t worry, I told them that we knew each other by long acquaintance and I had nothing but the highest respect for you.”
“Really now,” Ayn said contemplatively.
“Really,” Kerry replied, “Oh, you’d best look alive.” Kerry discreetly pointed. The large vidscreen inside Bakura Gardens was currently broadcasting footage of Ayn and Kerry sitting together. It had just gotten the notice of the crowd, which was rising and applauding. “You’d best acknowledge them. As someone who’s used to this, it’s better that way.”
Kerry stood and added her own applause. Ayn, with a slightly embarrassed smile, rose and waved. Over 100,000 beings were applauding for her. It was a rush unlike any other.
Ayn Dormingale, it seemed, had just made a name for herself.
Run Down Warehouse, Kerren
She breathed deeply and coughed hard.
She was alive.
And she was restrained.
Her head throbbed, her back ached, and she couldn’t see even though her eyes were open. The bag smelled of a mixture of grease and sweat. Where was she and how long had she been out? Flashes of blaster fire and of handmaidens screaming obliterated the darkness of the mask and its oppressive smell. She had known some of those ladies in waiting for years. Now, they were dead. Blown away by nothing more than political radicals.
“She’s awake,” a voice said.
“Leave me with her,” a second voice said.
“Yeah, sure,” the first voice replied.
Eleanor heard a door open and close. Then footsteps came to her and suddenly her mask was ripped off her head. She stared up into the uncovered face of her captor. He was young, but his face seemed to reflect an inner pain, and his eyes suggested that he meant business. She struggled against her restraints as her eyes settled on what the young man held in his hands. It was a blunt weapon, some sort of metal piping.
“Welcome, Eleanor,” the young man said.
“You are to refer to me by my title,” Eleanor responded.
“I will refer to you however I want,” the young man replied.
“Are you behind my kidnapping?”
“Why did you do this? Why did you kill my friends? What do you want?” Eleanor asked.
“It is time for your rule to end. The people have demanded it. Didn’t you hear the protestors? They want democracy! They want to choose their own destiny and not be led by a woman who has no claim to the throne,” the young man pointed out. “Who I am, that’s not important. No, all that matters is whether or not you should be made an example of for the people. A people who cry out for fair rule!”
“If the people truly want democracy I am sure that we can come to a suitable resolution,” Eleanor said.
“We are beyond negotiations, Eleanor,” the young man replied as he stepped around her and sniffed her face, her neck, slipped his disgusting tongue across her cheek.
“You are a pretty thing, aren’t you?” He teased.
“You bastard, leave me alone!” Eleanor screamed.
“I’m afraid I can’t do that, my lady,” the young man replied with a sick grin.
He took his metal pipe and wrapped it in cloth. Eleanor’s eyes widened in fear and she fought against her restraints again and again but they refused to bend. He brushed the pipe across her chin, laughing.
“Are you ready to play?”
“No, stop, don’t do this!” Eleanor pleaded.
The young man laughed and raised the pipe high above his head. He was about to bring it down on her leg when the door burst open to the large room. The second man, the man from earlier, had returned.
“What are you doing?” He cried out.
“What must be done,” the leader replied.
“Stop!” The other man said.
“Why? We’re about to have a little fun,” the leader giggled.
“Some woman, goes by Dormingale, is addressing the people of Kerren. You need to see this!”
The leader looked back at his terrified queen and smiled. He brushed the pipe across her cheek and whispered, “Don’t go anywhere.”
Royal Security Force Command Center, Theed, Naboo
The capital was in lockdown.
Armed security patrolled every street, searched anyone wandering around the capital beyond the curfew, and maintained a very heavy presence at Theed Spaceport. The Royal Naboo Security Forces were on the highest alert since the occupation of Naboo during the Neo-Sith War, some 66 years in the past. That war had led to the current problem facing Naboo today. The problem everyone recognized but nobody wanted to do anything about: the problem of a hereditary monarchy.
The Quorro dynasty, from 218 ABY to 267 ABY, had squelched any possibility of democracy. A generation had been born and grown older without ever knowing the power of the right to vote. But ideas are never defeated so easily. The older generation taught the younger about the glorious days of the past when monarchs were elected, Naboo’s guilds flourished, and the peaceful, serene, world was a leading member of the Republic. Filled with ideas, the younger generation schemed and ached for a true voice, a true representative of the people. But the majority refused to lift a finger against Queen Eleanor who was still very popular amongst her people despite the glaring burden of having never been elected to her position. And so petitions for change were filed but were conveniently “lost” by lower level administrators. The queen never got a chance to really see what the people desired.
A small section of the minority, extremists by any mark of the word, wanted to make a statement that would reverberate throughout the galaxy. For months they planned, meeting in the dark rooms of bars and the attics of homes in the country. They studied the patrol patterns of the Queen’s elite guard. They studied the layout of Theed Palace. They even staged a mock protest that helped them get an idea of the response time of the palace guard. Every entrance to the palace was mapped, every strength, every weakness, and so they struck on that warm spring day after inciting a massive riot from the disgruntled citizens of Theed. A small group of ten highly trained men slipped into the palace, killed her handmaidens, and abducted the queen. And then just as quickly as they had come they had disappeared.
All of this information had been supplied to the Royal Security Forces by informants operating in Kerren, Moenia, Deeja Peak, and Theed. Nobody had seen the queen or heard any rumors as to her location. Since the abduction, very few ships had entered or exited orbit. To Robert Norden, Captain of the Palace Guard that meant that the queen had not been shipped off-world, and that meant she was still on Naboo. The real question, the burning question, was where?
Robert Norden poured over the holographic display in front of him containing the latest tips, the latest musings, and all the while he replayed the events of that day in his mind. His security team had fought off the protestors and those that had broken through had been quickly stunned and arrested. To his credit, nobody actually entered the palace from the protesting masses. So that left him with a disturbing thought: How did the thugs get into the palace?
“Bring up a map of Theed Palace, 1300 hours, day of the abduction,” Norden commanded to the holographic display.
“One moment,” the display’s female voice replied.
Norden grunted. The voices for these computers were always female. He was surprised the feminists hadn’t filed a lawsuit against that one by now. He supposed that there was a good reason for the computer sounding female. Most investigators were male in Nabooan society and they probably responded better to the soothing purrs of the opposite sex rather than the more guttural male sounds that so often followed the human race.
The map displayed on the screen. Norden stared at the blueprints, rubbed his beard with his right hand. “Zoom in on grid Alpha68-1.”
The image fizzled, rotated, enlarged, and enhanced. He was looking at the hallway leading into the queen’s private chambers. Something about the image wasn’t right. One of the walls was a different shade of marble. Frowning, Norden isolated the image on that particular discrepancy and what he saw nearly made him collapse to the floor. A secret passage and one that was not on his set of blueprints and that gave him a scare that went far deeper than any fear he had ever felt before in his life.
Punching his datapad, Norden yelled, “Get me a security detachment outside the queen’s chambers!”
The secret passageway led down below the palace, beyond the waterfalls of Theed, and out into the prairie country where it exited unceremoniously from one of the many grassy hills beyond the beautiful city. Once again, Robert Norden was at a dead end. Frustrated, tired, he looked down at his feet and saw something shiny in the grass. Kneeling down, he picked the object up and rotated it in his hand.
“I’ll be damned,” Norden said.
“What is it, sir?”
“Queen Eleanor’s ring that she received upon her coronation,” Norden replied.
“I fail to see the significance, sir.”
Norden looked up at one of the security guards and for the first time in days, smiled. “The significance is that we now have a way to find our sovereign.”
Run Down Warehouse, Kerren
Her wrists were chafed, bruised, and bleeding from fighting against the fisticuffs. She realized that the leader of this revolutionary group had every intention of killing her. Chances are he would do it slowly. Start with the pipe and move on to something more serious. She had to get out of here. She had to find a way out.
The door burst open and the leader returned followed by the guy who had interrupted the show earlier. Eleanor tried to get him to look at her but his eyes remained downcast at the floor. There was no persuading this young man to help her. No, the leader would carry out his deadly task with or without the other’s approval.
The leader crouched by her face and stroked it with his fingers. Eleanor turned her head and bit hard on his exposed fingers drawing blood. The man cursed, looked at his bleeding hand, and then with a hardened gaze smacked Eleanor across the face with the backside of his good hand.
“That wasn’t very nice,” the leader said leaning in to examine his prey. “I thought you had better manners than that?”
Eleanor, blood dribbling from her mouth, spit at his face. The leader jerked and brought a hand up to wipe away the spittle. “My, you are a feisty one,” he giggled as he walked over to a nearby table.
When he returned the pipe was back in his hands. He tapped the pipe against her shoulder, and then against his open palm.
“What to do, what to do…” he said as he prowled around behind her.
“Let me go. This is your last chance to prevent your death!” Eleanor threatened.
The leader laughed, hooted, and whispered in her ear, “The only one dying here today, Eleanor, shall be you. The people will love me! Proclaim me a hero!”
“You heard what Dormingale said!” The other man warned.
“She’s not one of us,” the leader retorted.
“If you kill the queen, Maker help you!”
“There are consequences to everything in life, isn’t there?”
“Leave us,” the leader commanded.
“I will not! What you are doing here is wrong!” the other man yelled.
“I’m sorry you feel that way,” the leader replied and then pulled out a blaster and shot the other man.
Eleanor jumped, screamed, as the man’s body fell to the floor.
“Oh, I’m sorry, did I frighten you?”
Eleanor was shaking, hands were trembling, she was sure she was going to die.
“Now then,” the leader said examining his pipe. “Where were we? Oh, yes, I remember!”
He raised the pipe and brought it down with terrifying force on Eleanor’s thigh.
Republican Intelligence had been invaluable in the manhunt to find Queen Eleanor. Using resources that far exceeded the capabilities of the local security forces, RINT had been able to do what others before them had failed to do and that was pin down the exact location of the queen.
The skilled investigators of that venerable security branch had successfully used the ring that Eleanor had dropped from the secret passage to cordone off a run down industrial district of Kerren. Drone surveillance confirmed the location of the queen minutes later using thermal imaging and bio scans. Apparently, whoever abducted the queen had forgotten to take in to account the technological advantages possessed by those who cared deeply for her. Or maybe they were so far out of their minds they didn’t care. Either way, the words flying through the security forces communications were clear: Shoot to kill.
Royal Naboo Security Forces, wearing full tactical gear, closed in around the warehouse. So far, they hadn’t been seen. Norden breathed a sigh of relief as he and his tactical team, holding their weapons tightly to their bodies, edged either side of a door leading into the main corridor of the warehouse. Norden checked his chrono and then pinched his throat mic with his thumb and index fingers.
“Alpha Leader to Command, we’re beginning our assault now.”
“Roger, Alpha, happy hunting,” Command replied.
Norden pumped his fist up and down in rapid succession. They were a go. Weapons were hot and rumor had it there were plenty of tangos to kill. He stepped aside as two of his men planted explosive charges on the door. One of the men gave him a thumbs up signaling that the charges were primed and ready to do their deadly dance.
Norden nodded and made sure his free hand was visible to his unit. 3, 2, 1, went his fingers.
The door burst inward, smoke, debris, flying into the face of two unsuspecting radicals. Norden cleared right, fired off a quick burst from his compact blaster rifle, watched as one of the perpetrators collapsed against a far wall, dead. The other tango was dead by the time Norden returned his sights to the center of the room. The team advanced down the hallway and came to a door at the end of the corridor. This one led to the main room of the warehouse. Beyond this door was the queen.
He thought he heard a scream from the other side of the door but wasn’t sure.
Maker, I hope she’s still alive Norden thought as flashbangs were made ready.
The first blow rocked through her body.
Eleanor screamed the intense pain rolling across her leg and radiating upward in sharp stabbing motions over and over again. She’d never felt pain this bad before. This was serious. Her body was telling her that something was wrong, possibly broken. A wave of anxiety and nausea flew through her. She wanted to vomit. Nearly came close to passing out. Still, she held on.
“There, that wasn’t so bad, was it?” The psychotic leader commented.
Gritting her teeth, moaning through the pain, Eleanor managed to make a reply, “You’ll have to do better than that to break me.”
The leader enjoyed this little jab as he leaned forward and whispered, “I intend to, my lady.”
He was about to bring the pipe down on her other leg when he heard blaster fire from the door behind him. Whipping around, blaster in hand, the leader stared at the location of the sound. Grinning in that twisted way Eleanor had come to know the leader
seemed to almost savor the coming confrontation.
“It seems you friends have arrived,” he commented.
“Surrender or die,” Eleanor warned.
“The only one dying today, my lady, is you,” he said as he quickly untied her from her chair and put the blaster to her head.
“When your friends come through that door, they’ll be in for a little surprise,” he giggled as he maneuvered Eleanor in front of him intending to use her as a human shield.
The door at the far end of the corridor crept open ever so slightly. The leader took aim and fired just as the flashbangs were being thrown into the room. The shots sizzled into the door. The leader spun away as the flashbangs detonated. He’d worn ear plugs and dark glasses to protect himself from their effects. So far, they had worked. A little planning had gone a long way.
“Come on, come on, come on!” He screamed as the security forces poured into the warehouse.
Norden was the first one into the large, relatively empty room. He’d been thankful that the door had held against the blaster shots directed his way. Now, his veteran eyes focused on the hostage situation rapidly developing in front of him. He saw the leader of the radical gang with his blaster pointed at the queen’s head. So, she was still alive, that was a good thing. But the queen looked beaten, ragged, and that worried him. She looked as if she’d been beaten up. Her face was bruised, pale, and her eyes suggested that she was in a lot of pain.
Norden brought his rifle to bear on the suspect. The suspect had positioned himself wisely and was not giving away clean shots to the security forces.
“Robert Norden, welcome to my humble abode,” the leader taunted.
“Who are you?” Norden asked hoping to talk the man out of his insanity.
“Grant McCullough, son of Alastair McCullough, former lord of Kerren,” he replied.
Norden stopped his forward movement as he thought on that little nugget of recent Nabooan history. Alastair McCullough had been closely allied to the Quorro regime during the reign of Camilla Quorro some years earlier. A representative of Kerren, he’d only agreed to a political alliance with the former monarch as a way of solidifying his position and power for years to come. Privately, there were rumors that he actually hated Camilla Quorro and her despotic rule. A champion of democracy and a leader of the radical Democracy First movement on Naboo, McCullough had “retired” from public life following the coronation of Eleanor Vehn. The official version was that his retirement was because of old age. The unofficial version took a different course altogether.
When Camilla Quorro was declared insane by the courts in 267 ABY, Liam Vehn who was married to her at the time took it upon himself to fix the conundrum facing Naboo in the absence of a direct heir. To avoid civil war, Vehn manipulated the Privy Council into accepting his niece, Eleanor, as the next in line to inherit the throne. The nobles were outraged at this idea and voiced their concerns. This didn’t go over well with Liam who decided to take matters into his own hands and planted a bomb that destroyed nearly everyone in the Privy Council chambers, save for Alastair McCullough and a few other notables.
Although Alastair couldn’t stand the other nobles on the Privy Council, even he was astonished and angry at the lengths Vehn was willing to go to usurp authority from the traditional order. From that day forward, Alastair plotted a way to get his revenge. And
so the abduction of Eleanor was a natural way to get that revenge. He would have the queen killed by his son, who was mentally deranged, and then place himself upon the throne as a protectorate of the people under the thinly veiled auspices of democratic government.
“Put the gun down, Grant,” Norden warned.
“Make me,” Grant taunted and then whistled.
Trap-doors in the warehouse floor sprung open as armed thugs attempted to ambush the security personnel.
“For the Queen!” Norden roared.
The cry was repeated by the security forces as they opened fire.
Norden killed two thugs with one burst. A fierce firefight erupted between security forces and the radical group. Lives were lost and for the first time in a very long time citizens of Theed and Kerren spilled blood in open combat. Norden took a bolt to the leg, collapsed to the floor and fought through the pain. But the untrained thugs were overmatched the professionally trained security forces who quickly turned the tables on the ambush and pursued the leader.
Grant was half-dragging the queen across the warehouse floor as the vicious firefight came to its violent conclusion. Laughing, Grant turned to face Norden who never took his rifle sights off of the leader. Grant returned his blaster to Eleanor’s head and the deadly standoff continued.
“You want to play, Norden?”
Eleanor, fighting through her pain, fighting through her anger, her fear, took one look at Norden and nodded. The two had an understanding, always had, the long time protector having sworn an oath to his sovereign to always look after her best interests until the day she died. She had been trained in the martial arts and always kept a sharp holdout vibro-blade strapped to the inside of her right forearm incase she ever ran into trouble. She was glad she’d worn something with sleeves. Eleanor slowly brushed her forearm against her body quietly praying that they hadn’t removed the blade, and felt the smooth handled surface of the weapon. So, these radicals weren’t very thorough. That was fine with her.
Grant clutched Eleanor tight and then noticed Eleanor’s hand traveling across her dress and whispered, “Now’s not the place for sort of behavior.”
“You’re right, it’s not!” Eleanor replied and then jabbed a hard elbow upward into Grant’s ribs. The blow knocked him back, knocked the air out of his lungs and gave the young queen enough time to break free of his strong embrace. Her vibro-blade came out and with the smoothest motion she turned and drove it hard into Grant’s stomach.
Grant looked down at the blood pooling from the blade and then up at Norden giving the man the faintest hint of a smile, “She does well for herself.”
“She should,” Norden commented icily. “I trained her.”
He pulled the trigger. The bolt slammed into Grant’s chest knocking him back but not killing him.
“You’ll have to try better than that!” Grant taunted.
“My pleasure,” Norden replied and fired a head shot that took the leader down.
The room fell silent as Grant’s limp body fell to the floor.
Eleanor stared in shock at her bloody hands and began to weep as the adrenaline wore off. She shook uncontrollably on the floor as she stared at Grant’s dead body, as she shivered in pain and anguish.
“Get the medics, now!” Norden ordered as he rushed to the queen’s side.
Norden looked at his sovereign with loving eyes as he cradled her in his arms. He held her tight and whispered, “You’re safe, my Queen, you’re safe.”
Eleanor whimpered in his arms and replied, “I don’t know if I will ever feel safe again.”
Transmitted from Wild Space via my datapad's DROID brain
Supreme Chancellor’s office, Coruscant
“Senator Julwerth, Madam Chancellor.”
It was late in the cycle of Coruscant, at least the part where the government district was. Kerry was burning the proverbial midnight energy cells. Even in a time of peace, there was still plenty of work to keep an organization like the Republic running. Very few beings appreciated this and it certainly wasn’t advertised in the civics classes.
“Please, send her in,” Kerry said, depressing the button on her desk comm as she did so.
The Kubaz entered the darkened office a few seconds later, once again assisted by an interpreter droid. “Madam Chancellor, I had not expected to find you here so late, but I was directed here by your office. Forgive the intrusion, but I wanted to pass along news that will shortly be reaching the Holonet.” The Chancellor motioned for the Senator to proceed. “Republican Intelligence has been informed by the RNSF that Queen Eleanor has been recovered.”
“Alive?” Kerry asked.
“Yes, though seemingly a little worse for the wear. The exact extent of her injuries are unknown at this time—at least outside of the palace at least.”
“That is something to be thankful for, at least,” Kerry said. Her mind flitted to Eleanor’s sister, the only one who still bore the surname Trieste, May. That daughter of Oisin and Verity bore scars from an earlier life experience, something that was not talked about in the Noble House by anyone. The Chancellor wondered if the sisters might find something in common now.
“The Intelligence Committee instructed the Director of Republican Intelligence to provide all assistance forthwith to RNSF. The recovery of Queen Eleanor was determined by the Committee to be of great importance to the standing of the Republican worlds in the Rim and in the interest of the member systems as a whole,” Senator Julmerth said, “A report of the committee has been signed by all Senators on the committee.”
Translation: we made sure the Republic helped your niece as much as possible and have provided you political cover should anyone doubt it.
“Senator,” Kerry said rising, “You are well and truly a loyal servant of the Republic. As Chancellor, you have my thanks. As a citizen of the Republic, you have them as well.” She clasped the hand of the Kubaz. “I know that service is its own reward to one such as yourself, but allow me to show my gratitude all the same.” Kerry went to her desk and pressed the desk comm again. “Saldor, if you have a moment?”
The Ithorian entered shortly thereafter. “Madam Chancellor?” he inquired.
“Senator Julmerth and I were discussing a report that the Intelligence Committee has drafted regarding the involvement of Republican Intelligence in what may be considered internal matters of the Republic by some parties, and therefore outside its purview,” Kerry said, “Please arrange for a closed session of the Senate to be called tomorrow so that the Committee can present its report to the Senate and brief its members without having to worry about security concerns.”
“Of course,” Saldor Kann said.
“Unfortunately, I must be off world tomorrow. As a result, I will need to delegate the powers of the chair for this closed session. Please draw up the necessary documentation designating Senator Julmerth chancellor pro tempore in my absence for the session,” Kerry instructed.
“As you wish.”
“Chancellor, this is most unexpected,” Julmerth said.
“And most deserved,” Kerry replied, cutting the Senator off gently, “I am sure you will do well in my stead.”
“Thank you, Madam Chancellor,” the Kubaz said before withdrawing.
“A deft move, if I may,” Saldor said when they were alone, “Closed session so it raises Julmerth’s standings among her peers without making the galaxy think that you’ve designated an heir apparent.”
“Julmerth is a good Senator. She would not be a good Chancellor. However, she rendered me a great service in this matter,” Kerry said, walking back to her desk to finish her work.
“Where shall I have them prepare the shuttle for?”
“Naboo,” Kerry said. They both knew no further explanation was required.
Captison Office Building, Salis D’aar, Bakura
With the expansion of Senate membership from 40 to 80, the Bakuran Senators had needed more room for their offices and that had resulted in the construction of the Captison Office Building. It was not too far from the Senate Building and the two buildings were connected by a rapid transit system to assist members in getting to the floor for votes and important events like Prime Minister’s Questions.
Assignment to offices in Captison was considered significantly less prestigious than having an office inside the Senate Building. Silas Madsen didn’t mind. His office here was larger, it was better furnished, and it commanded a view of the Senate Building itself. He would have been locked in a broom closet with his seniority had he been in the Senate Building. No, this was definitely more impressive.
This morning Madsen was looking out the window of his office at the Senate pensively. His datapad was still turned on from where it sat on his desk, a message illuminated on its screen. The contents were not pleasing.
“Senator, I have Senator Carhart for you.”
In his former place of business, Madsen would have simply yelled through the door. However, being a Senator meant that one had to demonstrate a little more decorum. He leaned over to his desk and pressed the desk comm. “Send him in.”
Two seconds later Corrina Carhart, the honorable Senator from Atalanta entered. Like Madsen, she was one of the centrists of the left-center Fianna Fail coalition and represented a county that never would have gone for a leftist candidate. In Madsen’s opinion, Senators like Carhart and him were what kept Fianna Fail from becoming an irrelevant fringe party. In his eyes, Senators like them were the party.
“Absolutely ridiculous,” Madsen said without preamble, “Absolutely ridiculous. Twenty frakking five years old and she’s getting talked about as a challenger to Wellqik in 276.”
“Let them. Wellqik has West Cape Suzette nailed down. He has ever since 266,” Carhart replied.
“It’s her frakking grandmother’s old seat!” Madsen said bitterly, “And one of our people should get it. If the Unionists could win a safe Fianna Fail seat so easily, then the case needs to be made that if we have a shot at flipping it, it needs to be one of our people!” Madsen slammed a fist on his desk in anger.
The topic at hand was a report that Madsen had received earlier in the day. The Watercrest Fianna Fail county party had extended Ayn Dormingale an invitation to meet the couonty committee in three days. That sort of invitation was only extended to beings that were being seriously vetted by the committee to stand as candidates. Though no one was saying what kind of position they were looking at, it was all too clear to those in the know. When Sabé Dormingale had ascended from Deputy Prime Minister to Marian Square, she had resigned the Senate seat that she had kept warm for nearly 40 years. The ensuing special election had been a free-for-all of Fianna Failers who had been warming the bench. The Unionists wisely put a centrist candidate of their own into the ring. He ran a flawless campaign and wound up winning in the end. With the incumbent’s advantage on his side, he’d held serve in 268 and 272 in what was an otherwise solidly liberal district. After 272, the powerful Fianna Fail Senatorial Caucaus had privately told their members that West Cape Suzette was looking like a lost cause as long as Wellqik held that seat. The exact words, as Madsen remembered them, was that a campaign would be “a fool’s errand” for any serious politician. Despite an advantage in registered voters in the district, the Caucaus had decided to put its efforts—and more importantly credits—elsewhere.
Then Ayn Dormingale had made a big splash on Naboo and became the new it girl in Salis D’aar. She had the right last name. She had persona. And Silas Madsen knew that she had ambition. Too much of it.
“If Dormingale wants to go tilting at Wellqik, let her,” Carhart said, “She’ll find out that better beings of less liberal opinions than she doubtless harbors have been filleted by Wellqik without so much as breaking a sweat.”
“They were nobodies. They were not a Dormingale,” Madsen growled, “She is a problem, Corrina. A very big problem. Wellqik can be beaten if one runs the right campaign. I know it. And I don’t want her doing it. I want that seat.”
Ever since entering the Senate representing the polar county of Arcterra, Madsen had quietly become the unofficial leader of the moderate wing of Fianna Fail. This often put him at odds with the progressive arm of the party that had attempted to follow in the footsteps of Kerry Trieste and had subsequently bungled two straight Prime Minsiterial elections in what Madsen felt was an absolute disaster of a campaign. If not for his moderate Senators, which had grown in the last two elections by four members, Fianna Fail would have lost control of the Senate entirely, thus giving the Union Party a free hand to legislate at will. Carhart was Madsen’s second in command, which was why he had brought her in.
“West Cape Suzette will be a stretch in 276, especially for a being with no elected experience. Cape Suzette expects a track record out of their voters,” Carhart pointed out.
“Which is why if they’re smart, they’ll get Dormingale into a county supervisor seat this cycle. That’s probably the real reason the party’s bringing her in, to talk about the two year plan,” Madsen said, “And that woman…she is a voxyn. A voxyn in pretty fur, but a voxyn no less.”
And she’d already ruined one of Madsen’s plans. He had intended his adopted daughter to wed Declan Trieste, tying him visibly to the planet’s great political dynasty. It would have been a coup—and it would have happened if Ayn Dormingale hadn’t meddled and beaten him to the bunch. Becca claimed that Declan had found out on his own, but Madsen was sure that the young whelp hadn’t figured it out on his own. He hadn’t his mother’s instinct like that. Kerry Trieste was a battleship of a woman and her children were not. If she was smart she’d pass the family mantle of leadership to one of her nieces or nephews when the time came. Her children were soft, but one of them could have been useful to his own plans. Those plans were now well and truly over.
It seemed Carhart was reading his mind. “We should consider ourselves lucky it’s only a Dormingale. Anti-offworld sentiment can be stoked against her if need be,” Carhart said, “If we were talking about a Trieste…we would not have these options.” They both knew that the wrath of the Chancellor would rain down upon anyone who stood in the way of her childrens’ plans. If Declan had taken it into his mind he wanted a Senate seat, then it was a foregone conclusion that the party would jump to make it happen. Even Madsen.
“Dormingale’s getting too close to the Triestes. She’ll have the Chancellor’s protection soon enough,” Madsen said, “We need to end her career before it begins or we’re going to have yet another left wing radical in this party that will drag us all down into the muck. This party has never been stronger than when it has hewn to the center. That is our path to electoral victory and that is what matters.”
“We do not have many friends in Cape Suzette,” Carhart said, “It will be difficult to stop this from happening.”
“Then we need to make some friends,” Madsen said, turning back to the window, “You know, Corrina, I’ve always said that bipartisanship is a noble thing. We should reach out to the Union party in Watercrest. In the spirit of patriotism.”
The Chancellor disembarked from her shuttle. Unlike her recent visit to Mandalore, there were no throngs of people or dignitaries. She had requested a private landing and received one. She had only one question.
“Where is my niece the Queen?” Kerry asked. It was unclear which label had more influence in how Kerry Trieste currently thought of Eleanor Vehn.
Cape Suzette, Bakura
“…so with Supervisor Samara terming out this year, obviously the party could use someone of your standing to take a role in forming the county’s identity.”
Ayn Dormingale had listened and said nothing as the party organizers for the Fianna Fail Party of Watercrest County had explained their ideas to her. The deadline for declaring candidates for the party primary was rapidly approaching and they wanted her to run for the Watercrest 8th district, which would be left vacant due to term limits. While Fianna Fail had traditionally held the seat on the Board of Supervisors, open seats were dangerous things. They were prime opportunities for the opposition to flip the seat and then they would hold serve with incumbent advantage until term limits brought about another open seat.
They hadn’t minced words on why they were suddenly approaching her at this late hour. “We think that West Cape Suzette can be flipped. In the last election the planetary party didn’t agree and endorsed a candidate without a pulse. That’s the only reason that Wellqik won by the margin he did. If we show your track record in the next two years, we can get the planetary party on board. You can beat Wellqik and take back your grandmother’s seat.”
And there it was: the offer of a seat in the Bakuran Senate. Ayn would no longer be on the periphery of power, a being who was invited to parties because everyone knew her grandmother. She would be a being of power. She might ride the coattails of her surname, but once she won that election…she’d be a Bakuran Senator with all the privileges that derived. She didn’t need to enhance her standing with Declan’s family any further, but surely they would respect her if she was in the Senate for Fianna Fail.
Ayn thought carefully before she replied. “I hadn’t given much thought to public service, but I always admired my grandmother and everything she did for Bakura. If the county party believes I can do good for Watercrest, then it is my duty to try.”
“Then let’s do this thing, Ayn.”
“Madam Chancellor, the Queen is not receiving,” one of the four guards at the door said sternly.
Kerry Trieste had passed through five checkpoints to get here. Most of them had yielded on face recognition or the suggestion of the Senatorial Guard. These four bodyguards had not.
“Given recent events, I understand your caution, officer,” Kerry said, patiently, “but I would like to remind you that I am not carrying a torch nor a pitchfork. I am not here to abduct Her Majesty.”
“All the same, Madam Chancellor, the Queen has requested not to be disturbed. By anyone.”
“Officer, I doubt when she made that request that she was aware I was coming,” Kerry replied, patiently.
“Until she orders otherwise, no one is entering this room.”
Kerry said nothing for a second. “I would like to congratulate you, officer. Many years from now you will bring your grandchildren to this palace to tell them about the years of service you provided the great Queen Eleanor with. You’ll bring them to this very spot and you will say to them, ‘This is where I stood guard one day when Supreme Chancellor Kerry Trieste wanted admission. And I stood firm, I denied her. Now, my promising career was cut drastically short not too long after, which is why I had to take a job in a factory. Too bad, because I would have been captain of the guard in time and I would have been revered by Naboo for the service that I provided the planet with. But I got to tell a Supreme Chancellor no and that was worth far more than anything else I could have ever gotten.’
“So, officer, are you looking forward to telling that story or are you going to accept that when the Supreme Chancellor visits one of the worlds that makes up the Republic and voted to do so not long ago with over 90% of the vote that there are no closed doors to her, even in the palace?”
The officer looked uncertainly out of the corners of his eyes at his three fellow guardsmen. Then he stepped aside.
“Thank you. I will require no announcement,” Kerry said.
She turned the handle of the old door and stepped inside quietly, closing the door behind her.
Kerry Trieste stood just inside the door. She did not curtsy as she had for the past several years when entering the presence of her niece. She did not call her by an honorific.
“Eleanor,” was all she said.
I love Kerry's response to the guard. Absolutely brilliant!
She had locked herself away from the world. For days she lived in her private chambers. Days upon days.
All she had been able to think about was that madman hitting her with his lead pipe over and over again. In her dreams he haunted her and the image of his dead body burned in her mind and refused to fade away. Physically, she’d healed up well. Emotionally, that was another story altogether. She couldn’t sleep without a light being on in the room. She needed to have armed security outside her chambers at all times. And everywhere she went throughout the palace, she made sure to watch her back, never knowing when and where she could feel safe. She’d even persuaded Norden to allow her to carry a small holdout blaster just in case things went from bad to worse. Reluctantly, he agreed but had doubled the watch on the young Queen for fear that she may take her own life.
Naboo was an absolute mess. In the days after her rescue, palace security forces had raided the home of Grant McCullough and uncovered more startling connections. The radical politcal group he belonged to had it’s fingers deep into Naboo’s noble houses and many aristocrats who were currently serving in government had been complicit in the abduction of the Queen. There were old laws on the books that called for a terrible punishment for the capital crime of high treason. Eleanor was well within her rights to make a public example of her opposition as a grim reminder of the price of betraying your sovereign. But she had held off on such punishments. Now was the time to choose wisely and not strike out blindly into the dark. Her reign was already hanging by a thread and now was not the time to cut the lifeline. If the monarchy as Eleanor understood it were to survive the coming days, changes would have to be made.
Those changes would have to start with her initiative. She would have to address the people and salvage the situation. That would take courage. That would take an acknowledgement that McCullough had gotten to her. No, she would have to address the people from a position of strength not one of weakness. She would have to face her darkest fear, a fear that gnawed at her and made her strive for more, a fear of losing. She’d worked hard to get to where she was but she could see the writing on the wall. The people wanted democracy, the people wanted a voice, and after all that she had gone through, after all the suffering, she couldn’t blame them one bit. Were she in their shoes, she too would want a voice and full rights under the law.
Eleanor heard her name and looked up from her quiet reverie.
There before her was the Supreme Chancellor. There before her was the one family member who had been brave enough to see her. There before her was the one family member who wanted to see her. Not her mother, not her father, but her aunt, Kerry Trieste. That proud, venerable woman, was here, a woman that Eleanor loved and a woman who had never disappointed her or let her down. Somehow it seemed fitting that Kerry was here. Somehow it seemed right. As if only Kerry could understand what it felt like to be torn apart by the media, by the people she ruled, and maybe even by life itself.
Eleanor ran across the room and embraced her aunt. Her body shook uncontrollably as she cried and cried and cried. Part of her cried for Naboo, part of her cried because Kerry was the only one who really understood her, and part of her cried because she was a wounded soul who had now been damaged beyond conceivable repair. She held tightly to her aunt, no longer ashamed to cry in front of her, to let her guard down, to be vulnerable. She ignored the fact that her salty tears were leaving streaks on her aunt’s clothes as she released all the anger, all the grief, all of the emotions that had been blocked inside of her since her abduction. She stayed in her aunt’s embrace for a long while before finally pulling away and wiping at her red eyes.
“Sorry, Chanc-, Mrs. Triest-, Aunt Kerry!” Eleanor blurted out through shaking hands.
She turned away from her aunt and walked over to a holographic map of Naboo. Her delicate fingers traced a course through the imagery as the hologram rippled and responded to her every touch. After a long while of contemplation, Eleanor spoke.
“I’ve made a real mess of things haven’t I? I’m the one to blame for this mess. I’m the one to blame for Naboo’s hereditary system. I don’t have the strength to enforce change. I’m tired all the time, I’m so tired.”
“You know something? I never wanted to be Queen. This was my uncle’s hair brained idea. I was his escape hatch. His one shot to leave his wife and go and leave Naboo behind with all of its troubles. Oh, I’m aware the Quorro’s were a handful. I’m well aware that I had everything provided to me, wanted for nothing, so I have no real reason to complain,” Eleanor paused and looked down at the hologram. Her face grew taut with rage. She punched the switch that controlled the power to the hologram in frustration, the image of Naboo winking out.
“Frak it all! Frakking planet, frakking people, stifling customs! Why can’t I just have a normal life! I never wanted these problems! I never wanted this!” Eleanor moaned as she collapsed onto her bed, buried her face in her hands, and cried some more.
She wiped away more tears. Looked up at Kerry who stared at her with those wise eyes, those eyes that had seen nearly everything a lifetime’s worth of experiences could see. Eyes that understood her, eyes that were patient, and eyes that loved like only someone close could do.
OOC note: this is what I imagine Eleanor looks like right now.
Queen’s chambers, Palace, Theed, Naboo
When Eleanor embraced her, Kerry folded her niece into a hug of her own and used one hand to stroke Eleanor’s hair as she cried. She wondered what had happened to Eleanor, but knew that it didn’t matter. Not really, anyways. It was a certain kind of hurt that was hard to get rid of. As someone who had survived three assassination attempts (only one of which had been directed at her), two of which had ended in someone else’s death, Kerry knew that it was a pain that was never truly gone. It might hide for a while, but sometimes it would come back.
When Eleanor had spent her tears, Kerry let her go. Though she followed Eleanor as she moved slowly through the room, Kerry followed and listened at a respectful distance. When Eleanor threw herself on her bed and cried again, Kerry sat down gently on the bed and put one hand on Eleanor’s back as she sobbed. She gently stroked Eleanor’s back. After all, Kerry Trieste was a mother. She might have been Prime Minister too, but she had done this a few times. Not over such stakes, of course, but still. The instinct was similar.
“I know, I know,” Kerry finally said gently, “Few of us ask for our lot. You, less than others. I…well, I don’t think I get that excuse eight elections down the road.” Kerry smiled weakly. It wasn’t a particularly good joke, but still.
“The Quorros instituted what turned out to be half a century of aristocratic rule, not you. Whatever the string of events that led to you being here, they are not your fault,” Kerry said, “This is a moment of flux. This is a moment when many things are open to you. You, not anyone else, are in the prime position now. There are possibilities, Eleanor.” Kerry stood and walked across the room. She was looking for something in particular.
“As I said, there are options. There are always options,” Kerry remarked as she open up the doors of a cabinet and shut them after a brief inspection, “If you truly want out of your lot, there is abdication. I will personally guarantee your safe transit off Naboo, by way of the Republic, if you feel it is needed.” The Chancellor opened another cabinet and this time found what she wanted. It was a bottle of whiskey. Now she started searching for glases.
“There is, as I alluded to earlier, the path of reform. This would be a propitious moment to embark on such an endeavor. There are movements in play that, from our distant vantage on Coruscant, appear to have changed the political calculus at Naboo. Alternatively, you could stay in your room all day. I recommend getting more booze if that’s the case.” She poured the whiskey into two glasses. “By the way, I probably shouldn’t—the doctors tell me my liver is shot to pieces but that’s the beauty of access to Bakuran medical care. I’ll get another one soon enough. You could crack down and rule with an iron fist.” Kerry returned to the bed and handed Eleanor a glass.
“But what you must remember is that no matter what the Quorros did, they ensured one thing: that when the Queen decides, everyone listens,” Kerry said, “There is no one who is going to tell you what to do. You’re going to decide that.
“And no matter what, you’re a Trieste, even if I did let you change your last name,” Kerry said, “Cheers.”
Salis D'aar, Bakura
The invitations were simple and straight forward.
Your presence in Salis D’aar for the opening of the Fionn Dunross Trieste Memorial would be greatly appreciated by your Taoiseach.
Every member of the Noble House received one, even ones whose last name happened to be Vehn by choice. Attendance was clearly not mandatory, but it was also just as clearly a good idea. The Trieste’s residence was fully aired out in anticipation of their arrival, which was no small annoyance for Regan and Atticus who actually occupied one of the floors with their family to suddenly have the whole brood descending upon the Plaza. However, it was to only be a temporary annoyance and so they could bear it.
The Chancellor’s arrival on Bakura was greeted with more publicity than usual. This time she was not simply stopping into town for a quick Miners game. This time she was here to attend the christening of what had been the farewell gift of the Bakuran Senate to her upon her election to the Chancellery.
The design of the rotunda had taken over a year to design after funds had been approved for the project. Then it was a matter of construction (and the Unionist Prime Ministers were very disinclined to hurry things up on a monument that celebrated one of the great Fianna Fail leaders of all time) and it had taken nearly five years for the monument to be constructed. The larger-than-life statue of the man himself had been shaped by hand to capture the strong jawed and high cheeked Prime Minister appropriately. The Noble House had granted the sculptor access to their private holos to provide more intimate angles of Fionn than his public holos had given. It was a sculpture of Fionn Trieste in the vigor of his middle age, as Prime Minister, not the youthful spy nor the elder statesman that he had been as his children had matured. It was the portrait of a leader.
The memorial itself was situated on the bank of one of the two rivers of Salis D’aar in the heart of the government district. Though the Unionists had been loathe to give Fionn Trieste such a prominent place upon the waterfront, they had been forced to relent. He was the second father of Bakura, more responsible than any other being for its reconstruction after the ravages of the Sith. He had given his personal treasure to the cause and been its eloquent spokesman. It was for this reason that Trieste had cruised to victory twice as Prime Minister. The passage of time had caused political jealousies to die enough that Fionn Dunross Trieste was on his way to becoming as revered as Gaeriel Captison and Deredith Arden in the annals of Bakuran history. It was fitting that he should stand inside this shrine to his memory and overlook the gentle flow of the capital river.
The event was open to the public, but the Noble House’s members were all given seats upon the steps of the monument. Fionn Trieste had been their progenitor and they had come to pay respect to his memory, especially his children. Six of the seven still lived and his memory was still burned into their core. He had instilled greatness in all of them and they had risen to his expectations. Chancellor, Minister of State, admiral, scholar, Supreme Court Justice, financial guru, and poet. They had been dubbed the Wonder Generation in their youth and it had turned out to be true. And yet each of them had been instilled with such an abiding sense of love that they had known that none of what they had achieved had earned their father’s love. That had been given to them without condition so long ago.
The Noble House received a private tour before the commencement of the ceremonies with other dignitaries, including some of Fionn’s old friends. Sabé Dormingale had been reborn politically after her exile from Naboo thanks to Fionn when she joined his campaign and later became his Deputy Chief of Staff. Though she had worked closer with his daughter than him, Sabé still attended to pay her respects. Fantine Tyndale, Fionn’s Press Secretary, and Sandon Sheeborn, his Communications Director also attended. They were now well into their 80s, but benefiting from the usual Bakuran medical treatments. Both remembered Fionn’s children from when they had been born.
Senator Madsen had barely been born when Fionn had been in Marian Square, but he attended out of fealty to Fianna Fail. There were many elderly beings there whose presence could only be explained by themselves. “I knew the Prime Minister at the agency,” was all they’d said and his children knew they were old friends from Republican Intelligence. They would likely carry their stories of the being to their graves for reasons that could never be shared.
And there was one gaggle there who stood out. They were beings of all species and sizes, wizened but laughing. They were the crew of the Wicked Wench, a burnt out old cruiser even 60 years ago when it would have sailed the stars. They had flown with Captain Jane Wyvern and had known her husband in their piratical days. They were sneaking sips amongst them from concealed flasks (for though Bakura was wet in more ways than one, the Bakurans still had some laws about consumption of alcohol on public lands) and each of them shook the hand of Kerry and her siblings with a tearful eye in the memory of their mother.
“She wers the finest cap’n a being could have,” one said, “Crazy as a mynock sometimes, but she wers still the finest. I’da been dead thrice if it wersn’t for her, so you ever need anything from Jimmy Timbers you just holler.” The sentiment brought a smile to their faces. Though they were quite removed from the rough-and-tumble life their mother had enjoyed, the knowledge that they were only one generation from associating with such beings as these was rather pleasant.
Kerry looked upon them inside the monument. She knew them well. She also knew that her father had been a prodigious legislator in his day. In his second term he emptied the contents of what he called the “Doomsday File.” It was constituted of legislation that were supposedly political suicide to pursue. Fionn Dunross Trieste had passed every single one of them by maintaining an iron grip on his own party. A line-item veto constitutional amendment. Education reform. Allowing industrial protection tariffs to lapse after Bakuran industry had reestablished itself as a player inside the Republic. Those were just the highlights. It was perhaps a more impressive legislative record than she’d amassed in over three terms. Of course, she had winning a civil war to her credit, but still.
The Chancellor looked upon this statue of her father and said nothing.
“I don’t know if he was more imposing in life or here,” Regan said from next to Kerry. They had contended with each other to succeed their father as Taoiseach. That competition gave them a particular bond with the man who was memorialized here today.
“Neither do I,” was all Kerry said.
“It is one thing to memorialize a predecessor as Prime Minister,” Kerry Trieste began in her remarks to the assembled crowd, “It is another thing entirely to remember the man who was your father.
“Fionn Dunross Trieste accepted a mantle of leadership he had been groomed for, but never wanted. Extraordinary circumstances brought him to prominence—a galactic war, the near-destruction of the world that we hold so dear. He lived in bleak times. We stand here today, all of us, because Fionn Trieste believed that Bakura was worth saving. He had fled our homeworld earlier in life in disgust at our pettiness, our insular tendencies. He knew the worst of our natures.
“And despite all of this, he thought the galaxy would be a better place with Bakura in it,” Kerry said, “He saw the worst in us and he still knew that there was still enough goodness in what remained of the Bakuran nation to invest the prime of his life in rebuilding. He gave his time, his talent, and his treasure to see Bakura remade in the hope that it could be a beacon for the Republic and for the galaxy. In his words, ‘a city on a hill.’ Ever since Fionn Trieste uttered those words in 220, Bakurans have been striving to make that promise a reality. We do not see ourselves as a nation apart from the rest of the galaxy. We simply hold ourselves to the best standard that the galaxy can set. Our exceptionalism is not exceptional. It is what is decent and what Fionn Trieste dreamed of for us.
“The memorial that stands behind me does not simply help us remember the man that was Fionn Dunross Trieste. It reminds us of what he thought we could be. It is a lofty goal, one that we often reach for and fail to grasp. But because we are Bakurans we reach again. We strive because Fionn Trieste awakened a fire that was sleeping in our breasts. Fionn Trieste…my father, believed in us all without prejudice or precondition. Let the generations of beings who come here in the years that follow remember not the dark days that Fionn Trieste led us out of, but the brightness of the dream that we share.”
(For best results start at 6:31)
When the dedication was finished, Kerry leaned over and whispered to a member of the Sentorial Guard. The Guard nodded and the Chancellor motioned to the members of the Noble House who followed her back into the memorial. The ninth Taoiseach of the Noble House led her family through the rotunda and past the statue of their progenitor and down the steps that faced onto the river. There they stood on the bank, looking out upon the water, the eyes of Fionn Dunross Trieste watching over them as they did so.
“Dad told me a story once. He was sitting in a bar somewhere on Coruscant with Derek Vehn during the Neo-Sith War.” She looked over at Verity, Oisin, and their children. “Probably was some Maker awful place. The war wasn’t going well at the time. He took up a napkin and got an ink stylus and wrote down some lines of poetry,” Kerry said, her face turned towards the river, her family to either side of her and behind her, “I don’t know if he made them up…if he remembered them from somewhere else. All I know is that he shared it with his old friend all the same. After the second or third time he told me the story I memorized them.”
“I think we all did,” Siona said.
“I think he told all of us about that night,” Ronan said.
“It wasn’t hard—he cribbed from them for his first inaugural,” Oisin said, “He always knew when he had a good line, didn’t he?”
“Force bless him,” Regan said, running the back of her hand across the edge of her eye.
Kerry took the hands of Declan and Falene in her own as she started to recite.
“Do you hear the people sing
Lost in the valley of the night?
It is the music of a people
Who are climbing to the light.”
Her siblings started to join in.
“For the wretched of the earth
There is a flame that never dies.
Even the darkest night will end
And the sun will rise.”
And it seemed that they had all taught their children, for they added their voices.
“They will live again in freedom
In the garden of the Force.
They will walk behind the plowshare,
They will put away the sword.
The chain will be broken
And all them will have their reward.
“Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring
When tomorrow comes.”
The Noble House of Trieste stood as one on the banks of the river and remembered Fionn Dunross Trieste, who was in that moment not the second father of Bakura, but their father.
Those words were added not long after to the walls of interior of the Fionn Trieste Memorial at the gentle suggestion of the Noble House.
Cape Suzette, Bakura
It had been a crazy few months for Ayn Dormingale. Ever since the Watercrest County Fianna Fail Party had approached her to run for a seat on the county’s legislature, the Board of Governors, life had been non-stop campaigning. She’d expected a lot of public exposure—though everyone knew her grandmother they didn’t know her.
What Ayn hadn’t expected was that her first campaign would be a street fight.
The county party had assured her that the Watercrest 8th was a solidly green (the color of the Fianna Fail party) district. The party held an edge in registered voters, which was always a good starting point. The Unionists had not been expected to strongly contest the seat, though they weren’t going to roll over for an open seat.
Instead they did something totally unexpected—they threw an equally young and highly charismatic city councilman up against Ayn. The move had shocked Fianna Fail. Ayn’s opponent was Aero Korlix, a popular moderate conservative that everyone had assumed was angling to one day seriously challenge for mayor of Cape Suzette. It now seemed that he had much grander plans that involved county government—maybe even beyond. When he won the Unionist primary as Ayn handily won the Fianna Fail contest, it was clear this was going to be more than just a Supervisor’s seat race. Naturally, the Bakuran planetary media picked up on it.
“Cape Suzette, a usually stalwart Fianna Fail bastion has now become the site of a showdown between Aero Korlix, who is widely considered to be a rising young star for the Union party and Ayn Dormingale, daughter of former Prime Minister Sabé Dormingale,” the BBC News reported, “The race for the Watercrest Board of Supervisors is now being widely viewed as a precursor to the planetary political climate. A win by Korlix would indicate that a historic Fianna Fail bastion would suddenly be in play for the Unionists, which would radically alter the entire electoral calculus of the planet.”
It was a literal fight for every vote. This was going to come down to every vote and both sides knew it. Ayn drafted as many students as she could get using her famous name from UB Cape Suzette to volunteer for her campaign, but the other side had their own youth supporters that evened things out. She took a leave of absence from her position at the Belden Group to devote herself full time to the campaign—racking up debt for her own living expenses in the process. It was a necessary evil and the only way that she could have a hope of winning.
Days started early and ended late. Ayn knew that she wasn’t getting enough sleep, but she knew that was the price she would have to pay to pursue this course. She just didn’t know she was going to have to start paying it so early. It also meant that she hadn’t been out to the Valley in a long time. Going out to see Declan was a luxury that she could not afford right now. Even heading to Salis D’aar for Miner games was a risk. Though being seen at a Miners game was usually a good thing for any politician (aspiring or not) given the team’s popular status, this season was nothing to be excited about. In fact, given the dismal season, Ayn might have been better staying away, but at least she could prove she was loyal. However, the time she lost in transit was costly. Even if she was frequently seen in the company of the Chancellor, which didn’t hurt at all in Cape Suzette, personal interactions like Korlix was getting while she was away was even more valuable.
One person who was staying away from the race was Sabé. She’d made it very clear to Ayn that she was on her own. “If you need me to win, you don’t deserve to win,” the elder stateswoman had said.
“Most people could do whatever they could to support their family,” Ayn had said. She was not very pleased by her grandmother’s firm insistence on not getting involved. “Fionn Trieste plugged you hard for your Senate seat. You wouldn’t have won without him.”
“He was the head of the party and I was still viewed as a Nabooan,” Sabé replied, “You are second generation Bakuran. You do not have my disadvantages.”
“Just be prepared for me to owe you nothing when I win,” Ayn said.
“That’s the way every politician should start their career,” Sabé said, “Once you accrue a debt, it never comes off the books.”
Supreme Chancellor’s office, Coruscant
“Attorney General Tandy, Madam Chancellor,” was the announcement.
“Send her in,” Kerry said into her desk comm before rising. The doors had barely opened when Kerry said, “Helena, how nice to see you.”
“The pleasure is always mutual, Madam Chancellor,” Tandy said, entering the office.
“Something to drink?” Kerry suggested.
“No, thank you,” the Republic’s top official declined, “My business today is brief.”
“I don’t suppose there’s been a break in the ELL poisonings, has there?” Kerry asked, indicating that Tandy should sit with her on one of the couches in her office.
“No. There is still a startling lack of progress. But what can you expect from a bunch of Agamarians?” Tandy said with a dismissive scoff.
“Some good limmie,” Kerry said. Her Miners had been shutout and thoroughly embarrassed by the Agamar Packers earlier in the year.
“Of course,” Tandy said, correcting her course, “but as I said, no progress there. I’m actually here to discuss retirement planning.”
Kerry cocked an eyebrow. “You’re planning on leaving, Helena? I thought we had an agreement that you would serve to the end of the term.”
“Oh, of course,” Helena said, “You have my word, but obviously I’m thinking about the future when the term ends—as no doubt you are.”
“You’re an excellent attorney, but even I can hear the probing question. I’ve made no decisions about 276,” Kerry said.
“I know,” Tandy said reassuringly, “However, I’m not in the mood to take time off. It’s not in my nature.”
“No, certainly not. Very few beings could have given me the service that you have for so many years,” Kerry said, “I’ll be happy to give you my recommendation, but I assumed you’d returned to your private practice when you finished on Coruscant.”
“Now that I’ve gotten a taste of Republican service, I had something different in mind,” Tandy said.
“My job, perhaps?” Kerry laughed.
“I was thinking the High Court,” Tandy said casually.
The Chancellor’s mouth tightened. The Republican Court of Justice, also known as the High Court, was the highest appellate court in the entire Republic and an extremely prestigious posting. With its life appointments, subject to Senatorial approval, being a High Justice was the apex of the legal profession in the Republic, if not the galaxy.
“You know as well as I do that I’m at the mercy of deaths or retirements to fill seats on the High Court. It’s nothing I could promise anyone,” Kerry said.
“And you know as well as I do that Justice Tal-Arra-For has been contemplating retirement for years. His politics dovetail closely enough to yours that it is widely expected that he will resign his seat before your second Chancellery ends so that his legal legacy can be protected,” Tandy pursued, “I want his seat.”
“I’m not in the habit of promising things I can’t be sure that I can deliver, even on a speculative basis. The Senate—”
“Will do what you say,” Tandy interjected, “You’ve developed an outstanding relationship with them. They’ll give you this seat if you press them on my behalf.”
“Helena, all I can promise you is that you’ll be on the list for vetting if the time comes. That’s how this works.”
“No, I’ll be the list,” Tandy said.
“Helena, you’ve been an excellent Attorney General, but I’m going to recommend that you stop where you are and leave now,” Kerry said sternly, “before one of us says something we’ll regret in the heat of the moment.”
“Of course, Madam Chancellor,” Tandy said, standing, “But I sincerely doubt that you’d ever be carried away by the heat of the moment. Oren Mott said that’s not your style.”
Kerry stood and narrowed her eyes. That was not a name to be uttered in this office. “Excuse me?” Trieste said in a low voice.
“You know, after we created that false file on Mott and brought him into protective custody, he told us everything. Absolutely everything. Including about some old scores that he helped settle,” Tandy said.
Kerry Trieste knew exactly what Tandy was talking about. It had been one of the dirtiest hours of her career, but it had been her duty as Taoiseach. No one killed her brother and went unpunished by the Noble House. Srin Andolinne had learned that. “And did this criminal mastermind have proof of these alleged events?”
“No…but it’s funny how information about murders work. Sometimes all you have to do is put it out there in the ether and beings believe it,” Helena Tandy said.
“Thank you, Helena,” Kerry said, “Your point is well-taken.”
“I think we understand each other then, Madam Chancellor?” Tandy asked.
“Quite,” Trieste said, closing the conversation.
She remained standing as Tandy left the office before Kerry sat down. Usually she would pour herself a drink. However, Kerry Trieste needed to focus on nothing but the situation before her. It was not a good one either.
After some minutes, she rose and activated a private comm line. “Cracken Plaza, please. Director’s office.”
Royal Stables, Theed
The guarlara’s warm breath encompassed her face like the sweetest fragrance of the bluebells of Naboo. Here in the towering presence of this majestic animal, Queen Eleanor of Naboo found safety, comfort, and peace. A peace that she couldn’t have discovered while roaming the many halls of Theed palace or attending to matters of state, no, this was a moment of pure bliss of her, a moment that no one could take away, not even the nightmares that still haunted her long after her abduction. She'd also found a lifelong friend. A friend that would stay true to her through the darkest nights and the brightest days. That meant more to her than anything. That meant so very much.
Eleanor brought a gentle hand down the thick neck of her personal guarlara known as Ruby. Ruby nibbled Eleanor in response prompting a laugh. It had been a long time since she’d had reason to smile. Today was starting out so well. She wrapped her arms around Ruby’s neck and smelled her attractive fragrance, listened to her breathing, felt the pulse of her heart. Yes, this was where she needed to be right now, right here with her girl, right here in the safest place of them all.
Ruby was a beautiful chestnut colored guarlara, a rare color for this particular animal, and an absolute delight to ride. Focused, responsive, and loving to work, Ruby was the perfect mount for this glorious autumn day on Naboo. She’d been with Eleanor since the queen was a little girl. They knew each other, understood each other, and loved each other. Nothing could get in their way. Nothing could ruin today.
Eleanor guided Ruby out away from Theed, riding alone, across the green, grassy plains of Naboo. She rode hard, fast, pushing her guarlara further and further. Ruby didn’t protest. She loved to go, stepped right out, and hardly broke a sweat. Off in the distance to the north were the great snow-capped mountains of Naboo, mountains Eleanor had only ever seen but never actually visited. There was so much to this world that she hadn’t experienced as a result of being one of the most recognizeable faces on the planet. She wanted the freedom of a normal life even if that life meant struggling through hard times living paycheck to paycheck. She no longer wanted the media to hound her the way they had done ever since she was young. No longer wanted the controversy and intrigue that went with being a public figurehead, a ruler of the Naboo.
“Come on, girl, let’s go!” Eleanor screamed as she urged Ruby on into the lake country.
She felt absolutely at one with her mount. They were inseperable now, mind and body melded together it the perfect symbiotic relationship and as they traveled across the plains of Naboo and past a few of the smaller lakes, Eleanor couldn’t help but fall in love with Naboo all over again. She loved this place, this home, and despite what had been done to her she was realizing that she loved it even more now than she did before. She had learned to appreciate so much in life, the important moments, and times like these where she could get away from her busy lifestyle worked wonders for her soul.
Faster and farther she rode. Nothing could stop her. Not a care in the world. But like so many beautiful things in life, this particular day did run its course and Ruby did eventually get tired.
Eleanor eased Ruby to a halt, patted her sweaty neck, and that’s when she realized she’d traveled quite a ways away from Theed. She crested a small hill and looked back at the city that had been her home for far longer than she’d ever known. Slightly out of breath by the vigorous ride, Eleanor continued to stare at the city that was a work of art for the people of Naboo. A dawning realization came to her as she sat on her exhausted mount. Theed was ready for change. And so was she. In that moment, as the wind picked up and ruffled the grass around Ruby, Eleanor knew what she needed to do and it would require an act of bravery. It would require an act of true courage.
Gripping the reins, Eleanor tapped Ruby’s side with her foot and urged her forward.
“Ride on, girl, ride on!” She yelled to nothing but the endless sea of green prairie.
“After a great deal of contemplation and reflection, I have decided to amend the constitution of this glorious planet and hereby reinstitute an elected monarchy. Gone are the days of a perpetual monarch and gone are the last vestiges of the Quorro dynasty. Today is a new era for Naboo. Elections for my position shall be held in a month’s time. My fate, like those before me, now lies with the people as it always should have been.
I want to make it quite clear that I have always been supportive of the wishes of the people. I did not mean to continue the legacy of a hereditary monarchy for as long as I have. I meant to get around to it, I really did, but when you inherit the problems of past rulers and must right a sinking ship, well, certain tasks fall by the wayside that are very important but not in the moment of greatest crisis. I wholeheartedly urge the people to exercise their vote in the truest sense of the meaning and wish everyone the best of luck and fortune as Naboo enters a new era of restored rights and reform.
@Vehn enjoy seeing what you’ve wrought in the fanfiction side of my life. )
Chancellor’s office, Coruscant
“Couldn’t the galaxy have held its Sithspit together for just a year more?” Kerry Trieste called out to no one in particular.
Things had been going so well—so, so well—there for a while. Things had been peaceful and quiet. She was actually getting some free time. And then it all had to go to Korriban.
For starters, the Ssi-Ruuk had come back, which meant that Kerry’s homeworld had collectively lost its Sithspit and gone insane. Given the Bakuran people’s…unique relationship to the saurians, that was rather understandable. After all, when another species tried to enslave your entire world to be life energy for a bunch of machines…well that tended to leave a cultural scar even if the lizards in question hadn’t been seen for over two centuries.
That would have been bad enough, but when the Mandalorians had discovered that the Ssi-Ruuk had tried to lure them into a war with the Republic to distract Bakura while the Ssi-Ruuk swooped in then the Mandos did what everyone would expect Mandos do: want to go shoot everything in sight. Unfortunately, the entire Republican space stood between Mandalore and the Ssi-Ruuk Imperium, which was a slight problem for their massive war fleet.
Or it would have been, had Kerry Trieste not signed a deal with Manda’lor Beskaryc Taab to allow his fleet transit rights through the Republic. As far as Kerry was concerned, it served everyone’s purposes. The Mandalorians took on the Ssi-Ruuk, Bakura didn’t have to get involved in kicking the lizards’ tails, and there was a lot of trade to be done with the Mandalorian fleet that was good for business. The agreement had been good for Kerry in another way too—she’d gotten the promise of a favor to be done for her and the Noble House by the Manda’lor, whoever he or she was at the time of asking, one day in the future. It was never a bad idea to have something like that in your back pocket.
However, even the silver lining of the situation wasn’t all that shiny. The Senate—in keeping with apparently everybody in the galaxy—lost it when word that Kerry’s status of forces agreement was allowing the Mandalorians to travel across the Republic. There were the Senators who didn’t like her saying that she was being a vindictive Bakuran and trying to exterminate the Ssi-Ruuk out of pure hate. There were the Core Senators who disliked the Mandos on principle for being an unruly mob of Outer Rim bloodthirsty jackals. There were the war hawks who wanted to send the Republican Fleet after the Ssi-Ruuk. The people who liked Kerry Trieste these days and happened to be called Senator were rather slim.
So Kerry did what she knew she had to do: she started doing favors. Appropriations bills. Riders. Pet projects. Kerry loathed this part of governing, but it was the only way you could appease such a diverse body of politicians. They understood credits flowing to what they cared about and when Kerry opened the coffers of the Treasury their stances changed. Kerry knew this was going to undo a lot of her hard work to bring the budget under control, but she was counting on increased tax revenues from the Mandalorian resupply stops to at least partially offset, as well as increased defense spending.
Like on Rydonni Prime. Something was going on there, Kerry thought. But she didn’t know what. Queen Naathe K’ntarr was another thorn, though of all her thorns the smallest right now. Still, the situation in the Corellian sector had not stabilized, at least not to Kerry’s satisfaction. They claimed to simply be filling orders, but Kerry wasn’t so sure. There were a lot of credits moving in and out of that part of the galaxy. It was an area where Kerry had others keeping an eye on the situation. She knew she had more pressing things to deal with right now.
Such as Naboo. Eleanor’s announcement that she was returning the planet to an elected monarchy system had hit Coruscant in a big way, especially Kerry. This was exactly what she’d told Eleanor she could do after her traumatic events, but her niece had been a cipher to Kerry (she’d apparently picked up something of the political instinct) and hadn’t betrayed any of her thoughts. As a Republican world, Kerry could easily release resources to Naboo to conduct an election. The Senate had historically promoted democracy on its member worlds and routinely helped worlds inside its boundaries that were looking to make the transition. However, the Senate could only do so if Naboo requested it. They had to protect themselves from accusations of election tampering. Though it wouldn’t help in that regard, Kerry had the perfect election advisor and observer for Naboo if they asked.
Luckily they hadn’t asked yet, so Kerry could spend her time doing the sixteen billion other things she needed to right now. Her office was routinely having aides tramp in and out, taking files and usually leaving more. Kerry hadn’t even had a drink in a week with everything that was going on. She simply didn’t have time to relax.
Relax. Of course. Kerry rubbed her eyes. There was a piece of business she had to take care of. “I need the room,” Kerry announced.
The aides all understood and withdrew, leaving Kerry alone to make a holo call that had been long overdue.
“Helena, how are you?” Kerry asked.
“Fine, fine,” Helena Tandy, Attorney General said, “Now that we have a resolution on the Elite League poisoning matter, that’s one less open file. Though they’re saying that they’ve found some sort of device there. Old technology. As in old Republic. I’m sketchy on the details.”
Kerry raised an eyebrow. “Is it going to explode?”
“Not to their knowledge. Why?”
“Then right now it’s low on the priority list,” the Chancellor said.
“Of course, I would imagine that the Mandalorian situation is occupying much of your attention,” Tandy said, “I assume then that we have something to discuss along those lines? The bucket heads shooting things up and you need me to smooth over some incidents?”
“No, no,” Kerry said with a wave of her hand, “Though maybe they are. I don’t know if so. I wanted to return to our topic of discussion the other day. With recent events it…slipped through the cracks.”
“I’m flattered that you would have it on your mind in the middle of a war.”
“I just wanted you to know that your name is at the top of the short list,” Kerry said.
“I hope it’s the only name on the list,” Tandy said wryly.
“That would raise eyebrows and be premature. Let’s leave it at I like your chances when the moment arises,” Kerry said.
Tandy was silent for a moment and then nodded. “All right. Let’s leave it at that. Thank you, Chancellor. I’ll let you get back to your work.”
Kerry nodded and the holoprojector turned off. She waited for a second and then opened a drawer of her desk. The handle recognized her palm print, giving a satisfying click as it opened. Kerry withdrew a datapad from the drawer and she put her feet up on her desk as she powered it on. She’d read it once, but honestly this was such a good read she was going to enjoy revisiting the material.
“A page turner if ever there was one,” Kerry said with a smile slowly creeping across her mouth.
Cape Suzette, Bakura
The reemergence of the Ssi-Ruuk had changed literally everything about the races on Bakura. Though they were only local ones in a midterm, it had still utterly changed the landscape politically on Bakura.
And Ayn Dormingale was caught right in the middle of it.
All of a sudden all of her carefully crafted positions meant nothing. The only thing anyone on Bakura was talking about was whether the Defense Fleet should join the Mandalorian assault on the Imperium. In some circles, the question wasn’t whether they should—it was whether they should get there before the Mandos so they could kill more Ssi-Ruuk. Every question she received was on whether the Senate should make a declaration of war against the Imperium and when she tried to return the conversation to the issues that had previously marked the election, reporters ignored her.
As a second generation Bakuran, Ayn understood the intense hatred that people felt towards the Ssi-Ruuk. But she also didn’t feel what they felt. She knew the Ssi-Ruuk had been a threat, but there had been no attack. There were no Imperium ships anywhere near Bakura. An increased security alert condition made sense, but talking about preemptive strikes did not sit well with Dormingale.
It was paralyzing her campaign. Her opponent, Aero Korlix, had come down hard for military action and was hammering Ayn at every turn on the issue. “Ayn Dormingale doesn’t have the guts to take on our enemies over there. She’s a Cundertol-style coward and we all know how that worked out,” he said repeatedly at every chance he got, “I’d rather fight the lizards there so we don’t have to fight them here.”
Ayn was tired of it. Therefore, against all advice but trusting her gut, she was going to lay things to rest once and for all. That was why she’d called every reporter who was covering her campaign to a speech. She was pretty sure it would get live coverage on some of the Bakuran news networks.
“Let’s talk about the Ssi-Ruuk,” Ayn started, “They have apparently returned and while their intentions are unclear to us now, Bakura must think about what this means for us. I would like to point out that this is a federal matter, not a county matter. Therefore, I believe my opinions are of little worth to the wider debate going on in Salis D’aar. However, as my potential constituents wish to know my thoughts about this issue, I will oblige them.
“I applaud the Prime Minister for his immediate steps to raise the defense condition. In a time of uncertainty, we must be ready for the unexpected. I have full faith in the Defense Fleet to protect Bakura, as well as in the Republic to honor its promises of protection under the basic guarantees of membership in the Galactic Republic’s constitution should a need arise.
“However, I fervently hope such things will not be necessary. The valor of the beings of the Defense Fleet is unparalleled and I will never sacrifice their lives, if in a position to make such a decision, for vindictiveness or petty jealousies. There is a responsibility that comes with election to any office and the highest is to respect the lives of those who have pledged theirs to service of their homeworld.
“Accordingly I do not support military action against the Ssi-Ruuk until there is a clear and present danger against the Bakuran homeworld. As my opponent has said, we may have to fight them here. The truth is, I’d rather fight them here than fight them there. When it comes to defending their homes, the beings of Bakura will do their duty and do it well. But offensive wars of expedition are dangerous and too often turn into boondoggles that have far reaching effects politically and economically for a world. The Mandalorians are going to fight. That does not mean we must join them.
“To those who would say that these sentiments are un-Bakuran, I say that I am sorry to hear that peace is un-Bakuran, that examining galactic history is un-Bakuran. I do not believe that Bakurans are vengeful, filled with vindication, spiteful, and want to see other beings killed. I refuse to believe it. That is not the Bakura I know.
“If these comments cost me this election, then so be it. I would rather lose for peace than win for war. And that, gentlebeings of the press, is all that I am going to say on this matter for the remainder of the election season. Thank you.”
@Bardan_Jusik since he wanted to see how things turned out, and
@Tim Battershell because I see that Tim Dodd likes to keep abreast of Bakuran politics these days.
Dormingale for Supervisor headquarters, Cape Suzette, Bakura
She have been the daughter of a former Prime Minister, but Ayn Dormingale was still on a tight budget for running her campaign. Though her race had gotten planetary attention, her war chest had always been very limited. That was why her campaign had been run out of a storefront in a strip mall. The space had formerly been a bakery that had gone under and though the space had largely been taken down to a blank slate, the walls of the kitchen had remained with its tile floor. Ayn’s strategy meeting with her consultants and advisors had been held in the kitchen and right now that was where Ayn was sitting, on the old island cutting block with a small vidscreen on one of the counters underneath unfinished wall where some cabinets had been removed.
It was just Ayn in the kitchen. Declan and her mother were out front with the volunteers and consultants who had worked hard for her campaign. Ayn knew she should be shaking hands and thanking everyone now that the polls were closed, but she just couldn’t take it. Well, it wasn’t the volunteers she couldn’t take. It was the waiting. It was driving her mad. The Cape Suzette polling stations had closed an hour and a half ago and the Bakuran Election Commission (BEC), which was the federal non-partisan authority that oversaw all elections on the planets (because Bakura wasn’t so stupid as to entrust an election to local election boards—what kind of crazy society would allow that and the ensuing chaos where each board was responsible only to itself?). Thanks to the population of Watercrest County and its position on a midterm election cycle that separated it from the bustle of a Prime Ministeral election, the BEC had dispatched some of its top observers to Watercrest for the election. The election was not official until they called it and the BEC was nothing but cautious. In fact, the BEC preferred to keep the voters and candidates in suspense until all votes had been counted. There was no gradual release of polling station results—just one announcement of who won and who lost.
The BBC did exit polling and they had declared the Dormingale-Korlix race too close to call. As a public institution, the BBC was equally cautious about calling races. The BBC would have called Kerry Trieste’s fourth electoral victory during the Bakuran Civil War—in which there essentially wasn’t an opposition party—“too close to call,” Ayn knew. For all of the good that the BBC did, it could be a bit too cautious for its own good sometimes. Unfortunately, the internal polls that Ayn’s campaign had access to were all within the margin of error. They had absolutely no idea what was going to happen tonight.
That was what was killing Ayn tonight. She just wanted it to be over.
“And we are getting word from our reporter on the scene at the Watercrest Capitol that Niall Kirt of the BEC will be announcing new confirmed results shortly,” the anchor said on the vidscreen, “Kirt has already announced that the governor’s mansion in Watercrest will stay in the hands of Fianna Fail and based on early returns and our own projections it looks as if Fianna Fail will retain control of the Board of Supervisors. The margin, however, is highly in question. Fianna Fail could have a vibroblade-thin majority if they lose some key races. As we wait for Kirt, I’ll remind most of our viewers that Niall Kirt is, of course, the significant other of Bakura Miners captain Alana Glencross, a Watercrest resident when she isn’t playing in Salis D’aar. Glencross is set to play in the Elite League Limmie All-Star game on Nar Shaddaa in a few weeks, which you can see here on the BBC.
“And Kirt appears ready to speak,” the anchor said, “We’re going to him live.”
“Gentlebeings,” the dark haired Niall said from a podium outside the Watercrest Capitol building, “The Watercrest Department of State and the Bakuran Election Commission has reviewed the returns from 100% of the precincts in the Watercrest Eighth District—” Ayn’s heart jumped and she heard from the other side of the door a sudden hush. “—and all associated absentee ballots. After a full and complete count, with 275,088 out of 547,986 votes cast, marking 50.2% of the vote and a majority, the Watercrest Secretary of State’s office and I, on behalf of the BEC, certify Ayn Dormingale the winner of the Watercrest Eighth District.”
Ayn yelped in surprise and put a hand over her mouth and the volunteers in the front exploded in celebration. Ayn barely heard that she had prevailed by 2,190 votes.
The kitchen was shortly invaded by her supporters, grandmother, and boyfriend. Ayn registered almost none of it.
Her career in politics had begun.
Captison Office Building, Salis D’aar, Bakura
Silas Madsen’s grip on his glass was threatening to break the tumbler, so great was his anger at what was being reported on the national BBC.
“…a close victory, but a victory nonetheless for Ayn Dormingale, who is now certainly one of the new young stars for Fianna Fail. Her victory will likely quiet many who were ready to declare the end of Fianna Fail had Korlix won in such a traditionally liberal city. Though Dormingale held the Eighth with a narrow victory, it shows that Fianna Fail is alive and well in one of its heartlands.”
Madsen, unlike the Supreme Chancellor, was not a glass thrower. Had he been, he would have thrown it right then.
Ayn frakking Dormingale, he thought as he slammed his glass down on his desk. That harlot had ruined his plans for Becca and Declan. Things had been going so well into she’d butted her pointy nose into things. Without her he’d likely have the Chancellor’s son tied to him by marriage. That was no insignificant ally—not in this party.
This party. Fianna Fail was going to the voxyn if little doves like Dormingale were winning elections. Madsen wondered if he should just jump ship and join the Unionists. His county, Arcterra, was extremely conservative and it had only been through Kerry Trieste’s help that a Fianna Fail Senator had gotten elected there in the first place—and a very moderate one at that. Silas Madsen was a pragmatist. He knew that leaning too far to either side was a recipe for defeat. Stay in the middle ground and that was how you won elections and held onto power.
No, Silas knew that he had too much influence holding down the centrist bloc in Fianna Fail. He’d just be another Senator in the Union camp if he switched sides. But he wasn’t going to sit here while Ayn Dormingale and her brood ruined this party.
He picked up his desk comm and punched in a number. “Senator Silas Madsen,” he announced, “I would recommend that you connect me.”
Chancellor’s office, Coruscant
The next day
Kerry had put in a congratulatory call to Ayn Dormingale the day before. She liked the girl; she had spunk. Not many beings at the age of 25 would jump into politics so soon. Well, a Chiss would—they were mature at the age of 12—but that was beside the point. Though Kerry no longer had official loyalties to Fianna Fail, she still sympathized with their agenda on Bakura. The fact that Dormingale was now a fully-fledged member of the party seemed like a bright omen for the party that Fionn Cormac Trieste had built over 200 years ago.
“Chancellor, breaking news on Bakrua,” Saldor Kann’s voice said, cutting through Kerry’s work on the latest Senate mess. The Mandalorian issue was continuing to cause her no end of grief.
“Thank you,” Kerry said, turning her office vidscreen on. She had specifically instructed that it receive the BBC for just such a moment.
“—a surprising turn of events, to say the least. Through a procedural motion supported by a group of moderate Fianna Fail Senators, the Unionists forced through an immediate floor vote on the Prime Minister’s war resolution against the Ssi-Ruuk. In what could only be described as chaos with Senators rushing to make the vote from their offices, once again, the Bakuran Senate has passed the resolution by a vote of 52-38,” the anchor said, “Bakura is now formally at war with the Ssi-Ruuk Imperium. Marian Square has already issued a statement saying that the Prime Minister as commander in chief has activated the reserves and that plans for full mobilization are going into effect immediately. He has dispatched senior commanders to coordinate and rendezvous with the Mandalorian field marshals. As we reported earlier, today’s vote came as a total surprise and contrary to all events. The Deputy Prime Minister, who serves as majority leader for the Fianna Fail Senators, had appeared to be keeping the war declaration on the back burner until, in his words, ‘proper debate,’ could be had on the subject. This break in ranks among his own 43 Senators could mean that the Deputy Prime Minister has lost control of his ranks.”
Kerry turned the vidscreen off with a sigh and rubbed her temples. War for Bakura.
“Well frak,” Kerry said to her empty office.
Superintendent’s office, Bakura Fleet Academy
“What do you mean I’m not being called up?!” Admiral Fiona Westenra shouted at her holoprojector, “I am the most experienced admiral in the frakking Fleet!”
“You have been deemed more essential to the war effort in your current position. That’s the official determination,” her superior officer on the other end of the connection said.
“You mean the Prime Minister hates my sister and he’s resolutely decided he’s not going to let me participate in a battle of historic proportions because I was born with the wrong last name!” Fiona yelled.
“Admiral, you have your orders. Now forgive me, but I have other matters to attend to,” her superior said, cutting the transmission.
Fiona looked at the dead holoprojector for a second and then with a great sweep of her arm pushed fourth fifths of the content of her desk onto the floor in anger. She had fought at G’rho. She had enforced the Maple blockade during the Civil War. She had broken the defense of Nouvelle Orleans—she was one of the Heroes of Nouvelle Orleans. And this petty Prime Minister was going to leave her on the sidelines because she was Fiona Trieste Westenra. She had given a leg to service of her planet and this was how she was to be repaid?
“Frak it!” Fiona yelled in rage.
There was a gentle knock on the door, which opened slightly. “Now would be a bad time, then?”
Fiona looked up to see her daughter’s head poking into her office. “Sierra—what are you doing here?”
“Don’t you remember? It’s break,” Sierra said.
Fiona ran a hand through her hair. “Yes, sorry…things have been a bit crazy here since the Ssi-Ruuk came back. I have ensigns who are clamoring to go to war right now. They’d be worse than rooks out there. I’m afraid that our idiot Prime Minister is going to indulge them. He clearly hasn’t shown much good judgment right now.”
“Oh is now a bad time?” Sierra asked.
“They’re keeping me here. They’re not giving me field command,” Fiona said.
“Mom,” Sierra said, crestfallen, “Oh Mom.” She came all the way into the office and hugged her mother tight. “That’s terrible. I know how much field command means to you.”
“The historic enemy of our people and I’m going to be at home,” Fiona said, “nursing babies.”
“I wish this hadn’t happened now. We shouldn’t be here.”
“We?” Fiona said, pulling back from her daughter a bit.
“Yes, we,” Trellam, Hapan royal, said, stepping into the doorway awkwardly, “I had expected this to be a slightly happier occasion than it is. My condolences, Mrs.—I mean, Admiral Westenra.”
“Happier? You had higher hopes than you should have for your first trip Bakura,” Fiona said, shaking Trellam’s hand. They had met earlier this year at the Miners/C-Bucs game. “You do know it rains a lot here, especially in this part of the planet, don’t you?”
“That’s not exactly what he was referring to…” Sierra said, stepping next to the Hapan. She embarrassedly held up her left hand. After a moment Trellam did the same.
Fiona looked from one to the other.
“You have got to be kidding me,” Fiona Westenra said, her face falling.
As if this day couldn’t get worse.
Cape Suzette, Bakura
Ayn Dormingale was the celebrity of the day in Cape Suzette. The morning paper had declared her “THE NEW FACE OF FIANNA FAIL.” Everyone wanted to congratulate her and curry favor with the new Supervisor.
Then word of the war declaration fell and a pall fell over the city. They were a planet at war again, not much more than a decade removed from their own Civil War.
“Any comment, Supervisor-elect?” one reporter asked Ayn on the street.
Ayn Dormingale thought for a moment. “I think the Prime Minister will find that once he has let slip the dogs of war, they are not easily kenneled. I hope I am wrong.”
From various concerns of the planet, and even the galaxy, the Noble House gathered via holoconference for a meeting of some significance.
“Let’s get down to it,” Kerry started, “After all, some of us have jobs.”
“Here, here,” Ronan agreed.
“As if the rest of us didn’t,” Siona said indignantly.
“As if sitting on corporate boards for a living was work,” Regan replied.
“And listening to others arguing and handing down whatever judgment you wanted in the first place is?” Siona shot back.
“Ladies,” Oisin interjected, “To business. Like Kerry said, we all have places to be.”
“You’re a poet, Oisin,” Nessa said with a roll of her eyes, “For Force sake.”
“A poet whose brother in-law just got caught cheating on his wife,” Oisin clarified.
“I did not!” Doian Lynd immediately chimed in.
“Not you,” Oisin said.
“Though we are going to have to have a conversation when this is finished,” Siona said to her husband.
“Liam Vehn,” Oisin continued.
“He cheated on Kaitlyn?” Fiona exclaimed.
“Maker help us, she’s going to be testy at the Black and Blue Battle,” Kerry moaned.
“That’s putting it lightly,” Mandy said.
“Didn’t someone say we had business to deal with?” Declan piped up.
“Yes, and once again this family is just going out of control,” Ginny said.
“So we’re talking about your prosmicuity then?” Trixie said.
“Trixie!” Ginny shrieked, “Aunt Regan!”
“Oh come dear,” Regan said, “She has a point.”
“We are not here to discuss me!” Ginny said, “We’re here to talk about Sierra’s reckless decision to get married without even finishing college!”
“You know we are right here,” Sierra said with her new husband by her side.
“Right you are,” Atticus said, “But the purpose of this conference is…?”
“Well obviously to decide if we’re going to let them stay married,” Fiona said.
“If I could say something—” Trellam started.
“Absolutely not,” Siona said, cutting him off, “You’ve already said quite enough already.”
“I haven’t even—” Trellam tried.
“‘I do’ was your sole contribution to this conversation, my dear boy,” Regan said.
“You’d better let them just roll,” Sierra consoled Trellam, patting his hand.
“Same goes for you, Miss I-Should-Have-Known-Better,” Mandy said.
“Look who’s talking, Miss Married-While-In-College-Myself,” Nessa quipped.
“I never went to college. He did,” Mandy replied, indicating Ronan, “and it was grad school. Totally different.”
“Sounds like split hairs to me,” Fiona said, “Now about my daughter?”
“Of course,” Kerry said, “Only one real option.”
“Divorce,” Ginny said immediately.
“Heavens no!” Siona said, “Think of the scandal.”
“Oh yes. Not like we’d tolerate anyone related to us to get divorced,” Oisin said sarcastically.
“They’re Vehns,” Regan said dismissively, “They can embarrass themselves if they want.”
“I think he was referring to me,” Fiona said, “And let’s be honest: the only option is an annulment.”
“Because that’s better,” Atticus said sarcastically.
“Then it never happened,” Fiona said.
“Legally, yes, but have you seen the Holonet?” Falene asked, “It’s all over it.”
“That’s why we need to put an end to this!” Ginny insisted.
“Really dear, pots and kettles,” Nessa said.
“I am not a kettle!” Ginny exclaimed.
“I think you’re actually the pot in the metaphor,” Elfie interjected.
“As I was saying, there’s only one option,” Kerry sighed, “Trellam, Sierra, you realize you’ve put this House in a very difficult position on several levels.”
“If I may—” Trellam started again.
“You’d better not,” Sierra interrupted.
“In-laws have a strict probationary period on speaking in the Noble House,” Nessa said.
“How long does it last?” Atticus asked.
“At least five years,” Mandy said.
“Mine was three,” Verity chimed in.
“Verity! Didn’t know you were on,” Fiona said.
“Just got on,” Verity said.
“Then you missed all the nasty stuff about your brother that we said,” Trixie piped up, “I’ll tell you all about it later. Or now.”
Verity rolled her eyes. “Let’s not talk about my brother.”
“As I was saying,” Kerry started again, “Trellam, Sierra, I have just one question—”
“I’m sorry, but I have something to say,” Cillian Lynd said suddenly.
“Cillian!” Siona said with exasperation, “Not now!”
“No, I have to,” Cillian demanded, “I’ve joined the Marines.”
“You what?!” Siona shouted.
“The Ssi-Ruuk are back and we’ve declared war,” Cillian said, “It’s my patriotic duty.”
“You were supposed to be going to college for med school!” Siona yelled, “You are not going to war!”
“Speaking of med school,” Oisin said.
“Not now Oisin!” Siona said, “Kerry, stop my son from making a terrible decision.”
“Terrible?” Fiona said, “It’s wonderful that a Trieste is going to get the opportunity to kill some saurians.”
“Can we stop with the self-pity Fiona?” Ronan admonished.
“How would you feel if someone took your bank, Ronan?” Fiona challenged.
“They basically did that with Eden,” Ronan reminded his sister.
“Back to med school,” Oisin continued, “May’s been accepted.”
“You mean university,” Declan said, “May’s 18.”
“Yes, and we mean med school,” Verity said.
“As in May is a prodigy,” Oisin follow up.
“Dad! You know I don’t like being called that!” May chastised her father.
“Well it’s true,” Oisin said in his defense.
“What medical schools?” Dorian asked.
“Roon, UBCS, and Theed,” May replied.
“Force almighty, those are good med schools,” Nessa said.
“Well clearly it will be UBCS,” Ronan said, “We could use a family doctor to do some organ replacements down the line.”
“Yeah, they could give my Mom a heart,” Trixie interjected.
“You are going to be so grounded after this holoconference that sunlight is going to be a luxury,” Regan warned her daughter.
“See what I mean!” Trixie said, pointing at her mother.
“All right! That’s it!” Kerry shouted, “No new topics of discussion and nobody talks but me!”
The holoconference went quiet.
“May: the choice is yours but medical school on Theed has advantages. I believe that your sister Eleanor could use someone in the House on Naboo as she helps them go through their democratic transition,” Kerry said.
“I understand,” May said, “I will definitely consider that.”
“Cillian: you’re 20 years old,” Kerry continued, “If you want to join the Marines we can’t stop you. I’m not going to encourage you to do this, but if it’s what you want to do, then go do it and serve with honor to make us all proud.”
“I will Aunt Kerry, I will,” Cillian promised.
“Trixie: stop aggravating your mother,” Kerry said.
“Fine,” Trixie sighed in frustration.
“Sierra and Trellam: I have one question,” Kerry stated as she turned to the whole reason for the holoconference, “Do you two love each other?”
“Absolutely,” Sierra said.
“With all my heart,” Trellam said simultaneously.
“Then call your aunt, Trellam. We’ll have to throw a reception and we’d love to have the Queen Mother attend,” Kerry said, “Welcome to the tribe.”
That was absolutely hilarious!
The Noble House has a certain brand of crazy about it from time to time and I thought now was a perfect time to show it off.
And that was a fine way to do it.
Great post! Hilarious!
Election Day, Theed, Naboo
Queen Eleanor Vehn had campaigned hard and fast in the past month to prove to Theed and to all of Naboo why it was that she was the best candidate for ruling the planet in the coming years. So much change had happened since she first ascended to the throne in 269 ABY. Naboo had struggled with a gaping administrative hole after the bombing of the Privy Council in 268, natural disaster in the flood of Moenia a year later, fought briefly in the RTO Civil War of 271-272 ABY and joined the Republic a few years later. Now Eleanor was facing arguably the greatest test of her brief rule and a direct challenge to her authority: a democratic election.
Her opponent, Lady Rebecca Netrybko of Kerren, had fought Eleanor to a grand standstill in debates and on issues of great importance to the electorate. Truth was, most analysts depicted Eleanor winning by a few points, nothing denoting a landslide and surely nothing indicating defeat. Many of the people felt that Eleanor had done a good job navigating through one crisis after another for Naboo and wanted to see her continue in that capacity for several more years at the very least. But the battles had taken a toll on Eleanor. Nobody had ever told her how hard campaigning and defending your core values could be even though she came from a family, the Triestes, who were synonymous with democracy and another family, the Vehns, who were synonymous with getting things their way by any means necessary even if they weren’t entirely legal.
Eleanor was ready to be done with this election. She was ready to move forward with her life. She was ready to be queen for another few years and then pass on her mantle to someone else, someone who was hungry, someone who wanted Naboo to continue being that golden beacon in this part of the galaxy. She had done her best and nobody could fault her for not trying to appease the people and set things right.
“My lady, the results, they’re coming in,” one of her handmaidens whispered into her ear.
Eleanor strode out into the great hall of Theed Palace to watch the results come in on a nearby vid-screen. Theed and Moenia were hers which prompted loud cheers and an early declaration from Theed News Network that the young queen had secured a victory. But then something strange happened, something unexpected.
“The final results are Lady Rebecca Netrybko 51 % of the vote and Queen Eleanor Vehn 49% of the vote, Naboo, it is safe to say, has a new Queen. Queen Rebecca Netrybko of Kerren, what a stunning election, unprecedented, historic upheaval…” the announcer said, a bit of shock slipping into her voice.
The rest of the cities on Naboo, including the influential Gungan vote, had aligned with Netrybko and the perfect storm of political defeat suddenly was thrust onto Eleanor’s shoulders. In a matter of minutes, she’d gone from assured victory to watching her lead slip away from her grasp and into the dark chasm of defeat.
“You could challenge, my lady. Force a recount,” her good friend and chief handmaiden, Sierra Atwater, said.
Eleanor suddenly felt as if a great weight were lifted off her shoulders. She felt relieved. She felt liberated. But also sad, disappointed, and filled with slivers of regret, of what could have been. Her reign, not even a full six years, had come to an end. Her time as monarch of Naboo was over and had come and gone, now it was someone else’s turn, a daughter of Kerren, a daughter of democracy.
“No,” Eleanor replied in a quiet voice, “there won’t be a recount. We’ll accept this defeat with honor. We must be gracious in defeat as well as victory, Sierra. Please inform the new queen of my congratulations on her victory and let her know if there is anything I can do to be of assistance to her during the transition.”
“But my lady,” Sierra protested.
“The people have spoken and I must abide by their decision. It is over for me, Sierra,” Eleanor said.
Sierra started to cry, started to shiver. So much had changed and so much would change now that Eleanor was officially out of office. Eleanor brought a gentle finger to catch some of her good friend’s tears and said, “All things must end, dear friend. Cry no more.”
Eleanor shut off the vid-screen and walked down the great hall towards her private chambers. The great court entourage parted for her and bowed their heads in respect.
“Your lady,” some said.
“Your majesty,” others added.
“My queen,” Chief of Security Robert Norden said with a heavy face.
Eleanor paused and took Robert’s hand in her own. “Ever have you been my loyal guardian, my servant, a man of the people. Remember me when I’m no longer here, will you?”
“Always, my lady, always,” Robert replied, his voice shaking.
Eleanor happened to look out the window as a crowd of thousands descended on Amidala Plaza. She knew that even in her hour of defeat she needed to say goodbye to them, one final speech, one final time in the spotlight of monarchical fame. She stepped out onto the balcony where the multitudes below cheered and shouted, “Eleanor! Eleanor! Eleanor!”
She quieted the crowd down with a gentle wave of the hand and began to speak.
“We have had a unique relationship with the people of Theed since coming to power not so many years ago. I have done the best I could for Theed, for Naboo, and I hope that is what is remembered. I am not bitter about my defeat and neither should you be. Defeat and victory are one and the same, a part of life, a part of the journey we must all take to better ourselves. Please do your part to support our new queen, Queen Rebecca Netrybko, as she emerges from what I imagine will be a very long shadow that I have left behind. Honor her as you have me, keep Naboo always in your hearts, and be thankful that today Naboo spoke in a democratic voice for the first time in nearly a century. I have loved you all as I would a dear friend. You have been so good to me and now my time has come. Thank you, Theed, thank you, Naboo, for giving me this great opportunity. I would not trade this experience for anything. Maker Bless You All!”
Eleanor waved to the crowd and then retired to her private chambers. It was time for her to pack. Time for her to contemplate what further changes were coming in her life. Time for her to move forward.