Title: An Appointment from Beyond Timeframe: 1 ABY Genre: Drama Length: One-shot Characters: Viridian-Maiden’s OCs Katya Starstar and Tilasa Si Nhala from The Legacy of the Last Starstar and The Commander's Holo-Com Continuity: Legends Notes: This story is a repost from my old Chyntuck’s Ramblings thread, which I’m breaking up into its component parts and where you will find the original reviews and replies. It was written as a gift for @Viridian-Maiden for the 2014 Fic-Gift Exchange. VM’s request is behind the spoiler tag. Spoiler I would like a story in Saga with: 1. A party outfit 2. A letter or cryptic message 3. A broken heart healed I don't want: Siriwan Characters: Any who are in the films and/or any of my OCs. (Seen here and here.) I said it in my original post and I’ll say it again: everyone should read Viridian-Maiden’s stories because they’re awesome and it was very nice of her to allow me to play in her very own sandbox. She made an appearance on the boards not so long ago, so I’m hoping we’ll be seeing more of her soon! An Appointment from Beyond The festivities in Theed were in full swing on this nineteenth anniversary of Empire Day. The annual military parade had been launched by none other than Lord Vader, and the Emperor himself was co-hosting tonight’s ball with Queen Kylantha. The Royal Palace’s sumptuous halls, balconies and terraces were crowded with representatives of Naboo’s every noble household as well as high-ranking Imperial officials, military officers and courtesans. Waiters weaved crisply in and out of the crowd, offering guests an endless variety of drinks served in glasses of the thinnest, clearest, most sparkling crystal, while the Imperial Symphony Orchestra, on its first tour beyond the Core Worlds to promote Human High Culture in the Mid-Rim, played piece after piece of the Neoclassical style of music favoured by the Emperor. As the musicians launched into a well-known waltz, attracting more couples to the dance floor, no one paid attention to a middle-aged woman standing alone in a corner of the ballroom. Had the Queen’s guests been less absorbed in their revelry, they would have noticed that the woman in question stood out in the crowd – if nothing else for the unusual material of the elegant evening gear she was wearing. On Naboo, as on Imperial Centre, nobility and socialites such as those present at the ball favoured the myriad styles of shimmering cloth, preferably silk, that had become fashionable in the last decades of the Old Republic. The woman’s dress was quite as sophisticated as that of any guest, with a bodice and skirt covered in elaborate embroidery, and a frock coat and waist sash studded with small crystals matching the Zenji needles holding up her greying hair; but an attentive observer would have noted that her clothing was made of the dark red, matte fabric woven from the fibres of hydenock bark. In other words, the woman was wearing a thinly disguised Alderaanian funerary shroud – and her face was so rigid that one would have thought it belonged to a corpse. But her well-composed facade nearly collapsed at the first notes of the Killik Waltz. Her hands started to tremble so violently that she had to clasp them together, and tears welled up in her eyes. She didn’t see Queen Kylantha turn towards her and point her chin fractionally, but she felt a soft contact on her arm when, a fraction of a second later, a slightly accented voice whispered in her ear, “Katya... Un-Sister...” Katya Starstar spun around to find her friend Tilasa Si Nhala staring at her, the outer edges of her eyes narrowed in what Katya has come to associate, over the years, with the deepest concern. Before she could reply, Nhala slipped her hand in hers and was steering her away from the ballroom towards the Palace’s main gate. “Now is not the time,” the Tilasa whispered when Katya went to protest. “The Queen recognizes that you have done your duty tonight, but she also knows that it is time for you to go home.” Katya bowed her head and accepted her friend’s care silently as Nhala collected her Alderaanian cloak from the coat check and placed it over her shoulders. Her thoughts wandered to her home planet – its majestic cities, its grassy plains and its snow-capped mountains, the latter being a sight she had been longing for throughout the long years she’d spent on Naboo, and one she was certain never to behold again outside her mind’s eye. The Empire had seen to it. Every survivor who happened to be off-world on that fateful day was reeling from the destruction of Alderaan, but Katya had experienced it more keenly than most. The power she was born with – the power she thought of as a curse rather than a blessing, the power she had kept a closely-guarded secret her whole life – meant that, unlike her compatriots, she did not learn of the disaster on the HoloNet News. Instead, she had heard the clamour of millions of voices letting out a terrified cry before they were obliterated. She had felt the fabric of the Galaxy tear itself apart. She had sensed a faint echo within the chaos of fear and despair as the lives of those people she knew – Viceroy Bail Prestor Organa, for whom she had been acting as an agent on Naboo since Chancellor Palpatine had proclaimed himself Emperor, her onetime rival Sabé from the days when they were both handmaidens to Queen Amidala, who had been raising the queen’s child after her untimely demise – were snuffed out. It was a grievous, a gaping, a suppurating wound in her heart, one that she knew would never heal, and one that was ripped open once more only days later, when another, agonizing echo signalled that the man she had been hoping to see again, if only once, had become one with the Force. The memories kept churning in her mind as Nhala guided her off the deserted Palace Plaza and into a side alley leading to her apartment in Garden City, near the Southern Water Rim. To her, the past nineteen years had been years of loss – the loss of everything that had given this exile from her home and family a sense of identity. She had lost Padmé, whom she’d continued to serve after the young queen stepped down from the throne and became senator for the Chommell sector. She had lost – felt the loss, lived the loss – of the entire Jedi Order, of a whole class and generation of sentient beings with the same power as her. She had lost Queen Apailana, who had been gunned down for harbouring a handful of surviving Jedi. Every year, nearly every month, she had lost one or another of her friends and allies, as they faded one by one in the shadows or were taken by the Empire. She had lost the homeworld she had not seen in decades and the chasm city where her ancestors dwelled for centuries. She had lost Obi-Wan Kenobi, twice – once when he disappeared all those years ago to go into hiding, and once more a few months ago. And now, she lived in the constant fear of losing Queen Kylantha, whose discreet protection had enabled her to stay at her post and feed information to the Rebellion, and without whom she would have lost her name, her past and probably her life. Save for Nhala, who had somehow managed to avoid the Empire’s attention, she was truly alone. And yet... yet there was someone out there. Her old wrist comlink – the one from her time as a palace attendant during the Clone Wars, the one she kept against every security rule, hidden in the false bottom of a drawer, the one where Obi-Wan would have been able to contact her – had come to life moments after that painful ripple in the Force told her that he was gone forever. She had been holding on to it as a memento more than anything else, for she did not expect it to work after so many years, but its gentle, insistent beeping pulled her out of the state of nervous prostration she found herself in when the piercing pain of his Force signature fading away hit her as she sat at her desk. Some secret hiding place, she thought as she pressed her thumb to the invisible reader that opened the camouflaged box. But her surprise at the fact that the little comm still had power grew into bewilderment when she saw the message itself. She could not trace the transmission – as a matter of fact, there had been no transmission; all indications were that the message had been saved in the device itself, waiting to be activated. Why it had activated then and there was a mystery. And it merely told her to take an evening stroll in the Theed Water District, without specifying when or why. Katya was so lost in thought that she didn’t notice that Nhala was still talking to her as they reached her building. The Tilasa was speaking in hushed, urgent whispers, visibly trying to keep her frustration in check as she saw that not a single word she said made it through to the other woman. Katya thanked her absent-mindedly before the door slid shut. It was not only the tidal wave of memories that distracted her – there was also the constant buzz in the back of her head since Alderaan had been destroyed, a buzz that seemed to pull her in the most incongruous directions at the oddest of times. She’d had to restrain herself earlier in the day while listening to Vader’s speech, as something indefinable prompted her to open herself up to the Force and feel the true nature of the darkness enveloping him. She caught herself in the nick of time before the Dark Lord could sense the presence of another Force user on the Palace Plaza. And now this unexplainable impetus was pushing her inexorably towards the hidden compartment that held her two most valuable possessions – the mysterious comlink from the Royal Palace of Naboo and the lightsaber that had come to her through generations of Starstars who, after a lifetime of roving the Galaxy, had all faithfully returned to Crevasse City on Alderaan. She reached for the small electronic device to read the message again, but her hand changed directions and seized the lightsaber instead. The impulse to use it was overwhelming. Her thumb found the activation switch and, as the viridian blade illuminated the room, she let the Force flow through her, basking in the sensation of the thousands of lives, sentient and non-sentient, that surrounded her – from the fragrant potted millaflowers on her doorstep to the newborn child of her third-floor neighbours, to the fluffy voorpaks gambolling in the Royal Gardens, the Queen’s herd of gualamas in the Palace stables and the thousands of guests still dancing at the ball. She pulled back when she felt the brush of two dark presences – one of them a churning whirlwind of pain and hatred, the other an abyss of the deepest black – and continued her exploration of the threads of light that connected every living being in Theed. She wandered through the narrow streets and the sumptuous plazas, followed the course of the river and crossed the Water District before returning to her apartment. A whim nudged her mind once more, and she summoned the comm device to her hand, letting out a gasp of surprise when it turned on of its own accord to display the mysterious message as it flew across the room. And it suddenly dawned on her why she had never noticed the existence of this message in the nineteen years since she’d last used her comlink. The message was Force-activated, and she had not been using the Force. Katya didn’t stop to read the message again or even to take the time to think. Her despondency gone, she threw her cloak back on her shoulders, tucked the comm device in her pocket, clipped her lightsaber to her belt and left her apartment hurriedly, bypassing the Palace Plaza for the more direct route to the Water District. She did not realise that she had been running until she reached the entrance of the club where, some twenty years ago, she had first met Obi-Wan Kenobi. She paused briefly to catch her breath and collect her thoughts, and resumed her night-time escapade at a more leisurely pace through the centre of the borough, hugging the walls to avoid attracting unwanted attention and reaching out to the Force with all her might in the mad expectation that... that what? she wondered. What could there be for me here? She slowed down further and immersed herself deeper in the Force as she traced back the steps she had walked in the Jedi Master’s company. Its flow sharpened her memories of their first conversation. They had spoken of Alderaan, of her sense of uprooting, of her unconventional training in the ways of the Force and of her broken lightsaber – broken until Obi-Wan had presented her, some time later, with the gleaming crystal that gave the weapon its viridian blade. Her lips curled into a smile at the recollection of the scene. The threads of light had now dissolved into an all-encompassing glow that wrapped her, bathed her, brought her solace, and she had attained a state of meditative serenity when a warm, familiar voice whispered in the back of her head. There is no emotion, there is peace. There is no ignorance, there is knowledge. There is no passion, there is serenity. There is no chaos, there is harmony. There is no death, there is the Force. “There is no death, there is only the Force,” she repeated aloud as she abruptly snapped out of the comforting trance. A dark, ominous presence – the churning whirlwind of pain and hatred – had invaded the luminous nebula shrouding her. It took her a few seconds to gather herself as she bolted in panic, but then she smiled again. Yes, she thought, there is only the Force. Her hand went to the hilt of her lightsaber, and she took a step towards Darth Vader’s approaching shadow, but the voice whispered to her again – or did it? Maybe it was just the flow of memories that brought the familiar, wry tone back. My dear, there is only the Force, but you do not have to die just yet. There are still people who need you in this Galaxy. She froze in her tracks. Her smile turned into a chuckle, and she spun on her heel, making herself tiny in the Force as she set off towards the spaceport. Obi-Wan was right, of course. This was not the time to die. It was the time to stop hiding and join Padmé’s children – and the Rebellion.