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Saga "Water Flowing Underground"|OTP Fairy Tale Challenge

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Pandora, Mar 10, 2019.

  1. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Title: "Water Flowing Underground"
    Genre: Alternate Universe
    Characters (and pairing): Anakin Skywalker and Original Naboo Character.

    *This is what happens when I combine the Tatooine Slave Revolution AU much beloved of tumblr--particularly fialleril's ideas for their Fires on the Outer Rim AU--with my own dark take on Naboo handmaidens. (See here for reference.) You have been warned.

    *It's also a take off Hans Christian Andersen's story "The Little Mermaid" for the OTP Fairy Tale Challenge. Yes, I realize that was due back sometime in 2017, and it's 2019 now.

    *The title is from the Talking Heads' song "Once in a Lifetime."

    *This first post is on the long side (as in 5000ish words), but I couldn't really find a good place to split it up.


    ------------------------------------

    "Water Flowing Underground"


    Anakin Skywalker was not pleased to see me. Of course, I had expected as much from what I had heard before I came to Mos Espa. The First Speaker, his mother, had agreed to this meeting, but that did not mean he would be in agreement with her. He arrived at what they called the Gathering Room minutes after I had made my appearance—and when he did, he walked towards us with a hard hunting stride, his boot heels snapping on the tile floor. I would have known who he was even if I hadn’t already seen those few secret-blurred holos. He had dressed simply, in a soft cream-white tunic, and his long dark blonde hair was done up in a rushed messy bun.

    He looked the part of the revolutionary leader. He looked the part of the child of the desert, the boy with the nightstorm in his bones. The boy who had rebelled for the first time years before against the Jedi Order who had taken him in.

    But I did not expect this--once he saw me, he stared for a long silent moment. I watched him in return. Then he spoke: “You’re not Padmé.”

    “Excuse me?” I said. But if I was taken aback (by what he had said, and by the note of sullen-dark disappointment in his voice) I managed to keep that from the sound of my voice as I continued to speak: “I’m afraid I don’t follow. Who is Padmé?”

    It took me several seconds to even recognize the name he had spoken as being a Naboo one, and a traditional name as common as the wild snowdrop yardflowers. He did pronounce it with a long emphasis on the first syllable, and he said it as though the name itself were a beautiful flower. But I would not have thought that he knew Senator Amidala’s private name, or that he could say it so easily. Somehow, it seems to me now—when I can look back in retrospect—that I ought to have.

    The others present were looking on, and Shmi Skywalker knew when to speak: “Anakin,” she said from her place next to me, with a moth-winged flicker of her eyebrows that I did not know how to properly read. “This is Jonna Eyre, the emissary from the Queen of Naboo.”

    Yan Dooku was more direct: “She has been looking forward to meeting you.”

    “And it is a pleasure to do so,” I said, reciting the meaningless, but necessary, words. It doesn’t do to show much emotion, but I twitched my mouth in a ghost-smile.

    Anakin Skywalker looked down with a ruefully arched grin—oh, he knew when he had made a misstep. Then: “My apologies, milady. I was—expecting someone else.”

    “I thought as much,” I said. “But I am not a lady. I don’t have that title, nor any other. So there is no need to address me so formally.”

    It was only the truth, but I could see it pleased him. I couldn’t have planned it that well. He came to take my hand, and I came forward, the heels of my shoes making a hard knife-sharp click on the tiles, to meet him. It was over in only a moment, if even that long, but I can still remember how he (gently, cautiously) took my hand when I held it out towards him, and I folded my fingers down over his. He was tall, and this close, he smelled of a dark musty cologne—and more than that, of the hard sand-dry wind lurking outside.

    “Then it seems we have that settled,” Shmi Skywalker said, and gestured towards the long burnt-red stone dining table in the room behind us.

    Once we were seated, we had to first partake of this dark tea Shmi Skywalker served herself. Or at least: I thought it was tea. It had an odd taste, but after I had had several sips, I decided it wasn’t unpleasant. Several new people drifted in through the main doors, and took some of the available seats. They were all young, and wary-thin, and I only recognized one of them.

    That would be the girl who had introduced herself as Melee, the girl with the chaotic sneer of a name. She was small, with her dingy sand colored hair done up in braided rolls not unlike that of some of the country styles in northern Naboo. And she still wore a cloud-gauze white dress that drooped low in the back, and exposed the jagged locked mouth of a scar near her left shoulder blade. That was where, I knew from my research, she had had her explosive device cut out.

    It could only be for my benefit that she was flaunting it in such an obvious manner. Of course, I showed no sign I had even taken note of it—and that was for all of their benefit.

    She went over to Shmi and looped her arms around her shoulders in a hug, and Shmi leaned back against her and squeezed her hand. She exchanged a more formal greeting with Dooku. Then she dropped down into a seat next to Anakin, and turned her dark blaster-bolt look on me.

    Shmi had told me, when we were waiting on Anakin’s arrival, that while she could not speak for the other worlds in their alliance, they ran their own society according to the principles of the slave quarters: Everyone, every last person, had a voice. No one stood over anyone else. I had only nodded in response, but in private, I was dubious on that. Our politicians are fond of delivering similar sentiments, but that does not make them actually true.

    The handmaiden who had followed me into that room, and who stood hidden inside the corner shadows, her rose-peach dress a blur only I knew to see, was evidence enough of that.

    But I believed Shmi thought it to be true, and now Melee—who did not hold a position of any sort—was opening the floor: “You probably know this, but you’re not exactly the first person from the Republic to show up and try to make nice with us.”

    “We’ve heard everything they have to say,” Anakin said. His voice was flat, and he had slumped down in his seat. “And we haven’t been impressed.”

    “Oh, I am well aware of all that,” I said—and turned from them, to Shmi at her place in the middle of the table. She looked back at me calmly, her eyes the color of a moondark night sky. She was waiting to see what my next move, my next words, would be.

    I continued: “Then it is a good thing I’m not here from the Republic. I do not speak for them. I represent only the independent sovereign world of Naboo.”

    “Well, well, well,” Dooku said. “This should prove interesting.”

    “That’s a first coming from you, Yan,” Shmi said. There was a shiver of laughter from some of the others, including Anakin, and Dooku acknowledged her with a winked twitch of his left eyebrow. I used the excuse to have another polite sip of my tea.

    Shmi herself had her mouth tilted in a fond smile, and then she turned to me: “Yan is actually complimenting you. He hasn’t—thought much of our previous visitors.”

    “Ah, I see,” I said, keeping my voice carefully, distantly flat.

    She did not say that I had her interest--and while her voice did not change, I remembered, again, how when Anakin had left this town, and this world, with the Jedi in Queen Amidala’s rescued ship, Shmi had remained behind in slavery. I did not know any more details than that: and of course, what I could figure out from the omitted ones. But I knew that while she might not show it, Shmi hadn’t one reason to trust me.

    Anakin had never once looked away from her while we spoke. When she turned to him, he only nodded in return. He was allowing her the final word, and she continued in that dark sunlight warm voice: “Let’s hear what you have to say, Miss Eyre.”

    He was still sitting in that loose drooping slouch, but he was anything but relaxed: he had his one hand draped over the chair arm, and he was twitching his fingers, the bones in his hands shifting like viol strings. His voice had remained calm, but his eyes were glaring-hot. I did not look away from him as I leaned forward, and prepared, with a sharp hushed exhale, to speak.

    --

    This was my third offworld diplomatic assignment, but that wasn’t going to make it any easier for me. Then again: you can’t ever delude yourself into thinking this sort of thing can be easy.

    When we arrived into planetary orbit, I had already taken up my place in the cockpit with Captain Hays. I had perched on the co-pilot’s absurdly lush royal leather seat for the hyperspace exit bump, but now I stood up, even as the viewport window gave one last teethshaking tremble, to have my first look at the sunlight-glowing planet below us, surrounded by the floating wall of the Alliance defense fleet ships. I don’t pretend to any knowledge about starships—I lack both the aptitude, and the interest to overcome that—but I could see the ships they had managed to obtain were a ragged puzzlegame of different makes and decades, many of which had been modified.

    My own vessel, a dark dustgrey transport ship whose only resemblance to our sleek royal ships was its Nubian origins, fit in more than well enough. I couldn’t be certain just from my first glance from the viewport, but I doubt it was the only common-made Nubian there.

    Captain Hays was watching the view with me, and Lieutenant Mercurio had appeared to stand leaning against the wall of the opened doorway. I could just make out the shadowed-blur of his dark jacket. None of us spoke and interrupted the looming silence I could almost feel, as though the air had turned to glass. But then, I don’t think we could have said anything we had not already discussed.

    Finally, Captain Hays arched his eyebrows at me, and: “Here we go, mam.”

    “You know your lines, sir,” I said—and I smiled without planning it, and without knowing how it served as a weapon, the way I have noticed most other people do. Captain Ariel Hays had been my pilot for my past two missions, since the talks on Galatea IX, and he is one of the very few people I trust. The Lieutenant had only been assigned to me on the previous mission, but somehow—without my having to actually ask—his superiors had allowed him to join us once again.

    After several more minutes, there was a snarled burst of static from the com panel speaker, and then a woman’s aggressive deep voice spoke: This is Jassamine Sunwalker at Mos Espa Free Port. Please state your business.

    Captain Hayes leaned in towards the com unit: Jassamine Sunwalker (and not an anonymous detached voice) was waiting. “Yes,” he said. “This is the Naboo ship P1066, registered to the emissary representing the interests of Her Highness Queen Jamillia. Our business is with your Speaker. I trust that we have your permission to make landing?”

    Jassamine Sunwalker exhaled a breath that hissed out like cigarra smoke. Righto. I’m sending your arrival coordinates to your computer right now.

    While Captain Hays read the burning green words bursting onto the message screen, I followed the Lieutenant out into the main corridor. He ducked into the engine-room to check those last few updates we had discussed, and I went on to my bunkroom. Of course, I was as prepared as best I could. I had read over my research during the hours in hyperspace, and I could tell from that that I wouldn’t know what I most needed to until I met the players in person.

    And I had already dressed for my part earlier, before I went to the cockpit. If anyone tells you that one’s dress doesn’t matter, they are lying to you. It does matter—it always matters. This time, I had decided to keep to my usual image: I wore my classical period black silkvelvet jacket, with a string of copper armor buttons the color of droid skin, and a matching skirt that rustled like the copper-orange leaves embroidered on the underskirt. I had only to put on the shoes, and that could wait.

    The ship started into a downward glide, so we had to be making our way through the watchful fleet I didn’t have to see towards our landing spot. I turned into my bunkroom, and examined my reflection in the tall mirror nailed to the wall. There wasn’t much else I could do there—and besides which, my whiteface powder wouldn’t last the meeting. The shoes were perched on their heels in front of the bunk. I snatched them both up in one hand.

    The handmaiden appeared in front of me when I returned to the corridor. And yes: she simply appeared. “Do you need any assistance, mam?” she said.

    “No, I do believe I am capable of putting on my own shoes,” I said.

    She nodded, her face a moonlight blur in her hood, and stepped aside. I could see that much even without looking directly at her. She must have learned to expect as much from me, since she had been following me about for a week by then, and I didn’t much care if she liked it.

    Her name, which I had remembered, was Umé. But I preferred not to so much as think of her by it. She was young, too young—she looked to be only around sixteen, though I knew she had been already been assigned to Amidala—and they must have chosen her because she was blonde, though not in the same way I am: I have dark honey-blonde hair, and the handmaiden was so pale, with her fragile sunlight-yellow hair, that her eyebrows were blonde.

    We made our landing in a lot in the desert fringe behind the main street of the town. When I came forth from the ship, and into the hard white sunlight from the hovering blank sky, I wore my darkglasses, and carried the rosesilk sunshade I had found in the wardrobe-closet. It was really more suitable for a lakeside picnic, but it would provide enough shade for the short walk. The Lieutenant walked alongside with me, and the handmaiden was in her place behind us, like my shadow crawling over the sands, where I didn’t have to see her.

    As I walked along towards the huge hunched rock insect hive of the reclaimed palace in view ahead of us, I had time enough to regret my clothing choices. It was midwinter in this hemisphere, but this was still the open desert. The sunlight seemed to weigh my jacket down against my back, and I could already feel my face flushing with sweat. The Lieutenant was wearing his regulation bantha-blood leather guard coat, and I could but imagine what he felt. And those shoes, the little black country-witch boots with the tall heels that I wore so I couldn’t ever relax into being too comfortable:

    I was forced to walk with stiff mincing steps on the swaying knives of those heels, and after enough steps, the numbed rocks of my feet didn’t hurt, but I could feel the pain clenched up my legs. The sands swishing across the rough path pavement didn’t help matters.

    We were still one hundred yards away from the palace when a desert ragamuffin with sunhot eyes and dust short black hair came forward to meet us. They wore a small knife-polished blaster at their tiny doll-boned hip. When I introduced myself, they said (in a rusted-deep voice that didn’t go with their overtly feminine appearance): “I know who you are.”

    Just before I accompanied them through the great front doors, I took off my darkglasses and snapped them shut. It wouldn’t do for these people to have reason to believe, especially when we had only just become acquainted, that I was holding myself apart from them.

    The great hall inside was not empty: there was a drifting crowd of people, and assorted droids as well, wandering through on their varied businesses. There were even some little turtle-dogs that had come in from the desert in search of scrap-food. The ragamuffin took several steps back from us, and: “I’ll let the Speaker know you’re here, Jonna.”

    Once they had walked out of sight, and out of hearing, the Lieutenant turned to me and tilted his eyebrows. “Well, well. They’re not lacking for cheek around here.”

    “I do believe we’ve been warned,” I said.

    Several girls had paused nearby and were watching me closely—one of them was the human girl I would soon know as Melee, and the other was a green twi’lek with a bloodflower splotched headscarf wrapped about the tops of her lekku. I only looked back at them, with a blank stare that I know reveals nothing. It didn’t appear to move them, but the twi’lek girl’s smirk shrunk, and they went on towards the light of a set of courtyard doors.

    I had only a few minutes to look around before the copper-green doors at the far side of the room swayed open, and the woman I knew to be Shmi Skywalker walked forth, and I had to assume my role. It looked different without the shadowed-soft night of my darkglasses. I could see it was washed in a flushed-dark golden light from the long thick-paned windows high up on the northside wall. I hadn’t ever seen that sort of light before. But then, I had never been in the desert before. I would not have known how to even imagine it.

    --

    Once I had the floor, I turned my attention away from Anakin, and looked back at Shmi at her place across the table from me. I permitted myself to show a fadedquick smile before I began. It would soften the blunt approach I had decided was the best way, perhaps the only way, to deliver my speech: “Thank you, Speaker Skywalker. First of all, I should be absolutely clear about my government’s position. Naboo is not going to leave the Republic. Not now, and not ever. This isn’t only because we are the homeworld of the chancellor. Actually, I would say that is one of the least important factors. We have far too much invested in that association.”

    Several of the younger people present, none of whom I had been introduced to, exchanged smirks in the background. I believe it was my reference to Shmi as Speaker Skywalker that inspired that. But Shmi was listening without any reaction, and Dooku nodded.

    He knew—and he had also heard that which I had not said. “Understood, Miss Eyre. I can only speak for myself on this, but I would expect nothing less.”

    The green twi’lek girl, Soruya, took her opportunity to speak, after looking to her compatriots for support. “You sound really sure of that.”

    “That’s because I am sure,” I said. “But if—for the sake of argument—we were to leave the Republic, it could only be after we held a planet-wide vote, and if the motion were to pass. You ought to understand that. After all, I was given to believe that everyone here has a voice.”

    Anakin was watching me now, as he hadn’t even a moment before, and I could not decipher his expression. I had thought I had kept the sarcasm I felt from my voice, but (I remembered, with a glance at the discreet silverbright cylinder he wore like a blaster) he had been a Jedi, and he still had access to the Force I couldn’t so much as sense. Shmi said only: “That’s right, Miss Eyre. I won’t pretend we always do as well as we ought, but that is our guiding ideal.”

    “Right,” I said, and continued: “I have heard most of what those in the Republic Senate have had to say about you. I daresay I needn’t repeat any of it.”

    “Thank you,” Melee said. “Once was more than enough.”

    “You’ve become quite the power if they need to reckon with you,” I said. “But it seems clear to us that your alliance doesn’t mean to threaten the Republic. They have made--”

    While I had been speaking, a girl I hadn’t much noticed previously amongst the newer arrivals, a young woman with a messy cloudnest of dark hair and nightbrown freckles, leaned in towards Melee and a rosepink boy with black bug-eyed goggles for eyes, and muttered to them at a low yet obvious volume in a language I did not recognize. Once I heard her voice, I came to a halt.

    Everyone seemed to be waiting when she deigned to look over at me. I stared back as I waited. And trust me, I can wait a long time--I learned to be patient the hard way, and I can hold my bladder for far longer than I ought. Finally I decided to speak: “I trust that you are finished with your private conversation. If not, if you cannot respect me long enough for me to finish with what I have to say, I don’t see much need to continue here.”

    The girl turned away with a blatant and defiantly sneering glare, but she did not storm from the room in a scattering of footsteps as I thought she might. “Please continue,” Shmi said.

    I turned my attention back to her, with some relief, before I continued: “As I was saying—so far as I can see, they are making all the moves. You merely want to go your own way, and I respect that. The Queen respects that. Even if we did not, it is not our place to enforce the senate’s quarrels. But leaving that aside, there have been developments the Queen cannot ignore.”

    They knew what I meant by that: only that past month, two minor worlds just within the borders of our sector had joined with their Alliance of Free Worlds. Amidala had sent several messages from Coruscant over the matter, which I had not been privy to. But she was on Coruscant, and this matter concerned only our world, and hence was in Jamillia’s arena. She had been clear with me when she said, in that last meeting in her personal sitting room, that she had to make the first move.

    “That being the case,” I said, and I knew I had reached the moment when I needed to begin the finishing, ending argument, “The Queen wishes to open diplomatic relations with you, the same as we would do with any sovereign government. Hence this meeting.”

    There was a long silent pause, and I was reminded of my shoes by the pain chewing into the back of my right heel. I leaned it against the side of my other foot. Dooku was the one to speak first: “But there’s a catch in there, isn’t there.”

    “That would depend on how one defines a catch,” I said. “However, the Queen is reluctant to make any sort of formal alliance without further knowledge. There are some reports that are of concern to her. I don’t need to tell you about the incident with the farmers in the northern territories. We need to see how you intend to deal, as a government, with this sort of thing.”

    Shmi looked down at the table, and I heard her breath flush out in a sigh. “Yes, I know. There is no excuse for that sort of violence, Miss Eyre, and I can only say that the local assembly is dealing with the situation. We don’t plan to step in ourselves unless they ask for assistance.”

    “The Queen will be pleased to hear that, as I am,” I said. “But I’m not naïve. I know that you cannot fight a revolution without spilling some blood, even if we only ever had to spill machine fuel. That sort of mindset is not going to have gone away this soon.”

    That was kinder than what I truly thought: all those young fighters, many of whom were present in the room, had been guided by their burning screaming-loud fury as they carried out their revolution. They had made it righteous. But now their targets were gone: the slavers had either fled the planet, or died in the blitz guerilla attacks I had read about—and they were still angry. I could feel it even then. That had to go somewhere.

    “Quite,” Dooku said, and I could sense the teeth of his own sarcasm. “And we understand that you don’t wish to rush into an alliance. We shall need our own time to think this over.”

    Anakin had been listening, and watching me with an intense implacable glare, the entire time, and I had been waiting for when he decided to speak again. “You really know how to talk, Miss Eyre. But what would you know about getting blood on your hands?”

    There wasn’t one good way for me to respond to that: he had to already know that the only weapons I used were words. “I don’t see how that is relevant.”

    Anakin charged ahead, though he kept his voice deceptively flat: “If you don’t understand what you’re talking about, then yes, I think it is. Talk is real, but blood is something else.”

    “Then tell me about it, Anakin,” I said—and when I blurted out his name, speaking it for the first time, I surprised myself. “I can listen as well as I can speak.”

    That surprised him: he leaned back, and his eyes had a shadowdark gleam. He blinked. The revolutionary leader was left without his own words. Then he smiled, and I saw there was a wicked teasing glint to it. “Challenge accepted, Miss Eyre.”

    But it was Dooku who suggested that we have our discussion later on that day, over dinner: “Personally, I find that any conversation is improved over a glass of wine. I know how you like a fine ABP, but I might be induced to lend you one of my last bottles.”

    Anakin tossed his eyes in an drolly overdone roll, and: “Thank you, Yan. I don’t know how I would get by without your words of wisdom.”

    Shmi rose then, and it was clear this meeting was reaching its end: “Then that’s settled. What do you believe comes next here, Miss Eyre?”

    “You mean, besides her date with Anakin?” Melee said, speaking for the benefit of the group. I must have flushed for one startled moment, but they were occupied in enjoying a hahaha at Anakin’s expense. He knew how to handle that. He just snapped a grin at them.

    I followed Shmi’s example, and rose to my feet, and my tall shivering heels. When I had entered the meeting, I hadn’t known yet what my next move should be. I had hoped I would figure it out, and now I knew what to say: “Well, aside from my date with Anakin this evening, I mean to stay on here for a while. The only way I can learn what I need to know is to observe for myself, and report back to the Queen. If, of course, that is all right with you.”

    Of course, I had not mentioned this possibility to Jamillia, but I didn’t tell them that. I was certain she would understand my reasoning when I had my scheduled communication with her.

    Shmi allowed herself to show a gracious smile that was over in a moment. As I had thought, my asking for permission went a long way. “We should be pleased to have you, and your companions, as our guests.”

    While I was leaving the room, the handmaiden appeared from the shadows to take up her place behind me. I had nearly forgotten she was still there, and I looked away from her, though not before I saw her pinched-sharp face staring at me. And yes: I noted that even then, when she was exposed out in the open of the wide room, none of the people around us so much as saw her. They thought that everyone, everyone, mattered. They had been aware of the Lieutenant standing next to me even before I had introduced him. But somehow, they still knew what she was.

    There was no getting away from her for me, but I must say that I tried. I walked back out into the great hall, and towards the desert outside, as quickly as my shoes allowed me to. My feet were already starting to throb like a heartbeat-wound on the third step.

    *
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2019
  2. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Wow this is a very complex story and I will need to read it a 2nd or 3rd time in order to understand all the undercurrents.

    The name Eyre reminds me of a certain book of one of the Brontë Sisters, but this one had a happy ending with a Mister Rochester in it. This story here is full of pain, the same the little mermaid has when walking on land.

    Anyway, a fascinating read and a trip into the darkness of the soul. Very poetically done.
     
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  3. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    WOW. great start! You have such a talent for writing dialogue.

    This is a very interesting mix. I assume here in this universe that Anakin defected from the Jedi to honor his promise to free the slaves of Tatooine. His mother has become their leader - I always knew Shmi had it in her. After all, she raised this child all by herself through the worst of circumstances. Interesting that Dooku has established himself here. He doesn't seem to be a Sith here; like Anakin, maybe he defected too? Neither of them seem aligned to a Jedi/Sith philosophy.

    Jonna Eyre (I see what you did there...Now I am wondering why) is a very savvy person. She doesn't flinch or hesitate, and she's done her homework. I like this part:
    That's a great way to indirectly tell us what Jonna looks like. The handmaiden (Umé) does an exceptionally good job of becoming invisible, but that concerns Jonna:
    Here, amidst a crew of renegades and former slaves, the handmaid is still the lowest of them all - the invisible shadow in the room. I wonder if she is going to be more important as the story unfolds.

    But most of all, I love the way you write Anakin here. He is commanding, confident, and not at all the brash, reckless young man we see in the prequels.
    This is a thoughtful person who observes. Who knows how to get to the heart of the matter. He is a true leader here.

    I am curious how this is going to connect to "The Little Mermaid," especially in the desert. Maybe it's the idea of being in a different world than the one you are used to -- Jonna is from the elegant, cosmopolitan Naboo and she finds herself in the harsh desert? Of course, I suspect you are more heading in the direction of the tragic Hans Christian Anderson "Little Mermaid" and not the sanitized Disney version...

    Looking forward to seeing where you take this!
     
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  4. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    This is so evocative and atmospheric! @};- I love how you can kind of sense and even smell the desertiness of Tatooine, combined with the harshness of what Anakin and company have lived through. Though we don't get the gory details, it's clear that their rebellion was not a neat and clean one and it's left them emotionally marked even in victory. Jonna is an intriguing POV character; like many of your Naboo narrators she's immensely aware of the power dynamics that are found in the littlest of moments and the ugliness that can lie underneath the polished surface of things. She seems at least somewhat sympathetic to the people she meets, but one can definitely feel that she's out of her depth and there's a sense of wrongness to her presence there -- at least to her. The pain of walking on her poorly-chosen footwear parallels the original fairy tale in a disquieting way. The mysterious handmaiden who vanishes so easily is also interesting. Always more (and yet less as well sometimes) than meets the eye there.
     
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  5. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    PANDORA'S BACK, PANDORA'S BACK! [face_dancing] [face_dancing] [face_dancing] OK, ahem, calming down now. :p This story is off to a very intriguing start; very interesting AU concept here, and very cool roles for both Anakin and Shmi (I love that she's the leader of the movement—or even head of state of Tatooine itself, looks like?). I see some of the "Little Mermaid" connection in the way Jonna Eyre is a "fish out of water" on this desert planet, in the way she mis-estimates the climate and terrain (those shoes do sound painful!) and in her reactions to the people she meets. This rough-and-tumble desert world, with its recent revolutionary upheaval, is such a stark contrast to the very genteel and regimented world she hails from, and you portray that contrast with typical Pandora nuance and panache (though I have to say, whether you're from Naboo, Tatooine, Corellia, or wherever, that ragamuffin is clearly lacking in home training. :p )

    Wonderfully detailed characterization, as always; I have my eye on a couple folks in particular. First, the shrill Melee showing off her scar, who's clearly somewhat of a piece of work but also seems to know a thing or two. [face_thinking]. Also that voiceless, unnoticed Umé, because I suspect (after being an aficionado of your handmaiden tales for several years now ;) ) that she is going to prove to be very important somewhere down the line. It's definitely telling that even the much-Naboo-so-diplomatic Jonna notices the way the handmaiden isn't being noticed by the representatives of this movement that claims Everyone Matters. Of course, that says a lot about them, too... (And now I wonder if Umé might be a mermaid-like character herself, in some way... [face_thinking] )

    Can't wait to see more of this, and thanks so much for contributing to this challenge—it's never too late! :cool:
     
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  6. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    I love the way you have written this, such exquisite detail everywhere, including Jonna's take on things.

    I really like the way that you seem to have created a SW or otherworldly lexicon, simply by stitching two words together, like "silverbright" to describe Anakin's lightsabre - as a visual aid, it does the job.

    I'm drinking in the descriptives you use for your protagonist - I write a lot of female characters - so I find such things as actually remembering to describe the heels clacking across the hard stone; and frankly anything to do with hair, useful.

    Interesting sacrifice, that the painful footwear is deliberately worn so that she isn't lulled into getting comfortable.

    Not knowing when this was set, and not knowing what had and had not occurred in the wider galaxy, meant I was missing some of the big picture.
    I thought Amidala was still dead until there was mention of her sending messages from Coruscant.

    I understand that the slaves have kicked the slavers off Tatooine, and whatever entity they now comprise, two Naboo sector worlds have joined it.

    Are they and the Alliance of Free Worlds, the same thing?

    Also, noticing that when Jonno looks at her handmaiden, and Lieutenant, that she perceives their clothing as blurred...what's up with that? Are they ghosts?

    GREAT writing, great read, great talent shown here. :xwing:=D=
     
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  7. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Of course. The connection to Hans Christian Anderson's original "The Little Mermaid" -- in the original story, when the mermaid gains her human feet, they are so delicate and sensitive that she is in terrible pain when she tries to walk. Her literal first steps into the human world are agony. I hadn't caught that before!
     
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  8. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Thank you for the comments, everyone. I know it has been a while (as in two months) since I was last seen in this thread, but I have been working on the story, and I should have an update soon. Now onto the main business of this post:

    ---------------------------

    AzureAngel2: Wow this is a very complex story and I will need to read it a 2nd or 3rd time in order to understand all the undercurrents.

    Well, I hope it isn't too complex--but there is a lot going on, and much of the backstory is of yet lurking beneath the surface.

    The name Eyre reminds me of a certain book of one of the Brontë Sisters, but this one had a happy ending with a Mister Rochester in it. This story here is full of pain, the same the little mermaid has when walking on land.

    It is fairly obvious where I got Jonna Eyre's surname, but otherwise (potential spoiler alert?) I don't think there is any further connection with Jane Eyre. And I've a feeling, but it is just that, that the pain you're referring to is not just that discomfort which Jonna Eyre experiences from walking in those shoes.

    Anyway, a fascinating read and a trip into the darkness of the soul. Very poetically done.

    Thank you, and thanks for reading and commenting!

    *

    divapilot: WOW. great start! You have such a talent for writing dialogue.

    Thanks! I must admit that I haven't ever thought of dialogue as one of my strong suits, even after my thesis committee complimented me on it--and incidentally, when I read one of the stories in said thesis years after I graduated, the dialogue was the only part I didn't want to set on fire. So.

    This is a very interesting mix. I assume here in this universe that Anakin defected from the Jedi to honor his promise to free the slaves of Tatooine. His mother has become their leader - I always knew Shmi had it in her. After all, she raised this child all by herself through the worst of circumstances. Interesting that Dooku has established himself here. He doesn't seem to be a Sith here; like Anakin, maybe he defected too? Neither of them seem aligned to a Jedi/Sith philosophy.

    There is a lot going on in this universe--and it has been tricky to get the changes across (which, of course, Jonna Eyre doesn't know are changes deviating from "the real galaxy") without permitting one single info-dump. Yes, Shmi is the leader here in this brave new Tatooine--a reluctant leader at first, to be sure, but that really just makes her better suited for the job--and Anakin actually remembered his promise to free all the slaves. And that's alllll the slaves, not just the ones on Tatooine. As for Dooku, both he and Anakin have rebelled with a cause. You should learn more about them both as the story progresses.

    Jonna Eyre (I see what you did there...Now I am wondering why) is a very savvy person. She doesn't flinch or hesitate, and she's done her homework. I like this part:


    "they must have chosen her because she was blonde, though not in the same way I am: I have dark honey-blonde hair, and the handmaiden was so pale, with her fragile sunlight-yellow hair, that her eyebrows were blonde."

    That's a great way to indirectly tell us what Jonna looks like.

    It can be difficult to show what a first person narrator looks like (I'm sure you have seen the "looking at oneself in a mirror" technique both used and mocked), but I nearly always know what my narrators look like, and I want at least some of that to come across to those reading.

    The handmaiden (Umé) does an exceptionally good job of becoming invisible, but that concerns Jonna:

    "While I was leaving the room, the handmaiden appeared from the shadows to take up her place behind me. I had nearly forgotten she was still there, and I looked away from her, though not before I saw her pinched-sharp face staring at me. And yes: I noted that even then, when she was exposed out in the open of the wide room, none of the people around us so much as saw her. They thought that everyone, everyone, mattered. They had been aware of the Lieutenant standing next to me even before I had introduced him. But somehow, they still knew what she was."
    Here, amidst a crew of renegades and former slaves, the handmaid is still the lowest of them all - the invisible shadow in the room. I wonder if she is going to be more important as the story unfolds.

    Jonna is pretty clear that she is skeptical that "everyone, but everyone" really matters here--and after all, what might work in the small community of the slave quarters isn't likely to take on the scale of a planetary government--so she's already inclined to see any faultlines that might be there. Of course, that doesn't mean that she necessarily interprets what she observes correctly, so keep that in mind.

    (As a real world aside, the part you quoted is probably my reaction to all those times I have seen references around the fandom to how Anakin still liked Padmé when she appeared to be a "mere handmaiden"--as if a royal attendant wouldn't be light years above a slave in the human hierarchy. I can only suppose Anakin being the hero changes that. He also wasn't old enough to realize that a mere handmaiden wouldn't ever be permitted to have that much dialogue. Oh, snap.)

    But most of all, I love the way you write Anakin here. He is commanding, confident, and not at all the brash, reckless young man we see in the prequels.


    "Anakin had been listening, and watching me with an intense implacable glare, the entire time, and I had been waiting for when he decided to speak again. “You really know how to talk, Miss Eyre. But what would you know about getting blood on your hands?”"

    This is a thoughtful person who observes. Who knows how to get to the heart of the matter. He is a true leader here.

    Yes, Anakin is a different person when he has his mother in his life, and has been successful with what he knew at an early age was his proper life's work. He really would have been better off if he had parted ways with the Jedi, but that's an aside for another time. I can admit to some nervousness about how I wrote Anakin here--though I was pretty certain no one here would ever write "Anakin is totally out of character! He doesn't whine enough!"--so I'm relieved to hear you like him.

    I am curious how this is going to connect to "The Little Mermaid," especially in the desert. Maybe it's the idea of being in a different world than the one you are used to -- Jonna is from the elegant, cosmopolitan Naboo and she finds herself in the harsh desert? Of course, I suspect you are more heading in the direction of the tragic Hans Christian Anderson "Little Mermaid" and not the sanitized Disney version...

    You will have to see just how the story continues to connect with "The Little Mermaid." I referred to it as a take off that story in the opening notes, but I'm not certain that was the right way to put it--it is certainly inspired by Andersen's story, but it isn't anything like a retelling. I can say, though, that given I'm writing this for an OTP Challenge, there might be a romantic relationship of some sort? [ ;) ] It also won't be near as dark as the Andersen story--which is a weird sentence for me to type, but when it comes to the dark and depressing, I can't touch the man who wrote "The Little Match Girl."

    Looking forward to seeing where you take this!

    Thanks, and thank you for reading and commenting!

    *

    Kahara: This is so evocative and atmospheric! @};- I love how you can kind of sense and even smell the desertiness of Tatooine, combined with the harshness of what Anakin and company have lived through. Though we don't get the gory details, it's clear that their rebellion was not a neat and clean one and it's left them emotionally marked even in victory.

    As Jonna Eyre says, you can't have a revolution without spilling blood--and Anakin and his people know this because they have actually lived it, and their victory was not easily or quickly won. As someone somewhere on tumblr wrote, this is the revolution where they "straight out murdered the Hutts." Not all of them--some of the slavers were canny enough to know when to run to live and cheat another day--but enough of them. Honestly, I can't see it ever going down any other way.

    Jonna is an intriguing POV character; like many of your Naboo narrators she's immensely aware of the power dynamics that are found in the littlest of moments and the ugliness that can lie underneath the polished surface of things. She seems at least somewhat sympathetic to the people she meets, but one can definitely feel that she's out of her depth and there's a sense of wrongness to her presence there -- at least to her. The pain of walking on her poorly-chosen footwear parallels the original fairy tale in a disquieting way. The mysterious handmaiden who vanishes so easily is also interesting. Always more (and yet less as well sometimes) than meets the eye there.

    That's a good way of describing Jonna, so I really haven't much to add. As for the handmaiden--well, there is always something really interesting about that, or who, we're not supposed to even see.

    Finally, thanks for reading and commenting!

    *

    This has gotten quite long, so I'm going to stop here for now while I'm still at the length of a short story. The replies will conclude in the next post.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
  9. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Findswoman: PANDORA'S BACK, PANDORA'S BACK! [face_dancing] [face_dancing] [face_dancing] OK, ahem, calming down now. :p

    Like AC/DC, I'm back in black/it's been so long I'm glad to be back.

    This story is off to a very intriguing start; very interesting AU concept here, and very cool roles for both Anakin and Shmi (I love that she's the leader of the movement—or even head of state of Tatooine itself, looks like?).

    I can't really take credit for much of the AU concept here--as I wrote in the opening notes, much of this world is inspired by tumblr-style Tatooine Slave Revolution AUs, especially tumblr user fialleril's Fires on the Outer Rim AU headcanons. (As a quick aside that I should have written earlier, the main elements I have used from that are the alliance Tatooine and the other outer rim worlds form in the wake of multiple slave revolutions, Dooku playing a part in it all, and Shmi being the "First Speaker.") But otherwise, I do believe I have made the world that actually appears in this story my own.

    I see some of the "Little Mermaid" connection in the way Jonna Eyre is a "fish out of water" on this desert planet, in the way she mis-estimates the climate and terrain (those shoes do sound painful!) and in her reactions to the people she meets. This rough-and-tumble desert world, with its recent revolutionary upheaval, is such a stark contrast to the very genteel and regimented world she hails from, and you portray that contrast with typical Pandora nuance and panache (though I have to say, whether you're from Naboo, Tatooine, Corellia, or wherever, that ragamuffin is clearly lacking in home training. :p )

    As you know, I have written about the cultural differences between Naboo and Tatooine before (and with a different Naboo Girl and Tatooine Boy in the middle of them)--but the slave revolution and its aftermath here does dial up the culture shock to eleventy. Those planets are just so different in nearly every way--something the movies showed well enough that maybe they didn't have to blatantly spell it out for the audience--and while Jonna may have done her research, that's never a substitute for what you learn on the ground.

    As for the ragamuffin, you can probably imagine what C3PO would have to say about them--and at great and aggravated length. You may even get to read part of it.

    Wonderfully detailed characterization, as always; I have my eye on a couple folks in particular. First, the shrill Melee showing off her scar, who's clearly somewhat of a piece of work but also seems to know a thing or two. [face_thinking]. Also that voiceless, unnoticed Umé, because I suspect (after being an aficionado of your handmaiden tales for several years now ;) ) that she is going to prove to be very important somewhere down the line.

    You're right to keep your eye on Melee, though that is all I can say for now. As for Umé (and I have noted that she's been referred to by her name more in the replies than she is in the actual story itself, which is interesting) her part remains to be seen. I will note that for all that she is so good at being invisible, Jonna is always aware of her--even though she doesn't want to be.

    It's definitely telling that even the much-Naboo-so-diplomatic Jonna notices the way the handmaiden isn't being noticed by the representatives of this movement that claims Everyone Matters. Of course, that says a lot about them, too... (And now I wonder if Umé might be a mermaid-like character herself, in some way... [face_thinking] )

    There is a reason for this, and it should become clear in time, but that is all I can say for now.

    Can't wait to see more of this, and thanks so much for contributing to this challenge—it's never too late! :cool:

    Thank you, and thanks as always for reading and commenting!

    *

    Sith-I-5:
    I love the way you have written this, such exquisite detail everywhere, including Jonna's take on things.

    Thanks! I should probably admit here in public what has probably already been clear to those who have read my work: exquisite relentless details and observations are my "cool" equivalent of space battles. (Which, incidentally, I don't think I have ever written. I'll show myself out.) Writing that makes me think I should just return to poetry, but that is a whole other story.

    I really like the way that you seem to have created a SW or otherworldly lexicon, simply by stitching two words together, like "silverbright" to describe Anakin's lightsabre - as a visual aid, it does the job.

    It took me a while--as in years--of writing fanfictional works before I really allowed myself to come up with my own unique terms/words that suited a particular world I was writing about, rather than recycling something generically Star Wars-y. But I've gotten comfortable doing so by now. So yes, I'm glad you like it.

    I'm drinking in the descriptives you use for your protagonist - I write a lot of female characters - so I find such things as actually remembering to describe the heels clacking across the hard stone; and frankly anything to do with hair, useful.

    I'm glad to have been of help there--and having those descritives is nigh on a requirement when writing about Naboo female characters. Jonna might not be an overdressed child-queen, but she could probably still put together a killer outfit involving black velvet if she were stranded on an iceberg in the middle of some generic ocean-planet.

    Not knowing when this was set, and not knowing what had and had not occurred in the wider galaxy, meant I was missing some of the big picture.
    I thought Amidala was still dead until there was mention of her sending messages from Coruscant.

    I probably could have been more clear on the timeframe--which is more or less in the middle of the Prequel Trilogy/Clone Wars time period--and I might yet add that into the header. Jonna does refer to Anakin as a "boy" which indicates, along with his description, that he's quite young, so I thought that might provide a clue. But hopefully, the bigger picture should become more clear as the story continues.

    I understand that the slaves have kicked the slavers off Tatooine, and whatever entity they now comprise, two Naboo sector worlds have joined it. ...Are they and the Alliance of Free Worlds, the same thing?

    That is correct--and yes, the Alliance of Free Worlds, which the two worlds from Naboo's sector have just joined up with, is the entity in question.

    Also, noticing that when Jonno looks at her handmaiden, and Lieutenant, that she perceives their clothing as blurred...what's up with that? Are they ghosts?

    No, they're not ghosts. I have them appear blurry for two different reasons: in the Lieutenant's case, in that one particular scene, Jonna could only just see him from the corner of her eye, and thus doesn't see him clearly. In the case of the handmaiden, it's because Jonna would rather not have to see her at all.

    GREAT writing, great read, great talent shown here. :xwing:=D=


    Thank you, and thanks for reading and commenting!

    *

    divapilot: Of course. The connection to Hans Christian Anderson's original "The Little Mermaid" -- in the original story, when the mermaid gains her human feet, they are so delicate and sensitive that she is in terrible pain when she tries to walk. Her literal first steps into the human world are agony. I hadn't caught that before!

    Yes, that is probably the first obvious connection here to "The Little Mermaid." And it wasn't just her first steps in the human world that caused the little mermaid to feel as though she were walking on knives: I can't help but think that Andersen was getting a little overly "grimdark," because every single step she takes is hideously painful. It never gets the slightest bit better for her--she doesn't gain calluses on her brand new feet, as one might think, that would make walking more bearable. But that's HCA for you, and I suppose he was trying to make a point--that there's a price to pay for being something you're not.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2019
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  10. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 13, 2005
    *

    Queen Jamillia has a certain image that she needs to maintain. The public doesn’t so much as collectively guess at this—but then, that is much of the point. Of course, I wasn’t ever one of her most especial confidants, but I know enough from what she hinted at. She is an elaborate nightflower dress and a white doll-face mask with fevered balanced red dots. She gives speeches filled with pretty, but echoing-empty, words on democracy and its importance. She never reveals a moment of guile. She does not support those amongst the populace who believe, along with General Panaka, that we ought to have an official armed forces branch, though she doesn’t prevent them from speaking. That is what Amidala would do, and so it is what she does.

    But there is a reason she chose to send me out as her emissary. Once when we were having tea, she said—and I don’t recall the exact wording of what I had said to inspire it—with a musically sighing tilt to her voice: You’re so cynical, Miss Eyre.

    She was right: I was, and I continue to be, cynical, though I daresay (as I told her, keeping my tone equally light) I am not quite cynical enough. It isn’t considered to be a virtue in our culture, but I have never much pretended to virtue. That’s another reason she sent me on her errands. I might even say, in retrospect, that she trusted me to say what she never could.

    Personally, I couldn’t say what would become of this outer rim revolution. But I knew enough of history to suspect that, when it came to the galactic-wide view, it would be remembered, as much as it was remembered at all, as nothing more than a minor footnote.

    ---

    Once Shmi knew of my intentions to remain in the area, she invited us all to stay with them at the palace. I had planned that we would live on the ship—it was kept prepared for a fortnight length stay, and we had done just that successfully—but of course, I had known to accept. It wouldn’t do to insult them at the beginning of our acquaintance. The ragamuffin drove us back out to the ship for our luggage in a trashwood cart that swayed on its tall spindly wheels. Captain Hays was waiting for us in the shadow thrown out beside the ship, with his personal travelling satchel packed and tossed over his shoulder. That is the sort of man he is.

    We had already discussed what we ought to bring with us, and that wasn’t much. But when I was alone in my bunkroom, I ended up packing together my one wardrobe case in a daydreamed whirl. I couldn’t include the entirety of my shipside wardrobe, and I couldn’t decide which garments I wanted, or most needed, to have with me.

    It’s amusing in a way: I have always felt at a distance from the culture I was born into, as though I were naught but an alien-foundling, but when it comes to clothing, and the aesthetics thereof, I can admit that I am finally, and truly, Naboo.

    We needed hardly any time to get everything out to the cart. I don’t much like to be waited on, particularly when it involves a task I am well capable of doing for myself. Of course, I learned during my years in diplomacy that sometimes, I have to allow it in order in achieve the right appearance, but on this world, I didn’t see any reason to bother. The ragamuffin watched on as I brought my case to the cart. They had to have been surprised, but they kept their actual opinions to themself.

    Once we were back at the palace, we only had to haul our belongings across the wide shaded tawny-red sandstone courtyard to the stone stairs leading to the rooms Shmi had chosen for us. And yes, I was still wearing those shoes—I had considered pausing to change into a more suitable pair, but obviously, I hadn’t ever stopped for long enough to do so.

    Anakin was standing over near the west wall gate, in conversation with another older man, but he turned his attention to us as we passed. Once again, I didn’t know how to read his expression: his mouth was locked in a watchful pout that made him look suspicious, and his eyes were dark in the tangled shadows thrown out by the branches of the desert trees hovering over the wall. I didn’t let on that I had seen him, and then the moment was over.

    Captain Hays had noticed him in return, and when he turned to me, I knew what his question was, and I said only one word: “Yes.”

    “I thought so,” he said. Anakin had returned his attention to his prior conversation, but we didn’t know what he might overhear. “Well. It looks as though we’ve got a lot to learn here.”

    I must have nodded in return. He was right: there is always so much of a new place that I didn’t know, regardless of how much I researched its details back in my flat. But there is only the one way to learn, and I would have to do so—and so well, I could convince, or fool, those I needed to that I was a “quick study”—again here. It wouldn’t be easy, but as I wrote earlier, it never is.

    There was a copper-bright armored protocol droid, an actual protocol droid, waiting at attention at the foot of the stairs with its head tilted to one side. It blinked its firebug-glowing eyes at us once we had come into range, and walked forward to attend to its obvious task of escorting us. And I prepared myself to deal with it.

    ---

    The day was fading into a bruised-soft violet evening, making the light outside the window more bearable to see in, when I left for my dinner-date with Anakin Skywalker. I had—once I had the time to sit down in the room I was to refer to as mine—made haste in taking off those shoes. That had proved easier than getting them on had been, and my feet no longer hurt. But they still felt like swollen stuffed pillows when I walked in my practical dance flats, and my stockings had been stained-damp, and so dark it looked like blood. But when I had taken them off, I could see that I hadn’t actually bled. It was only, of course, only sweat.

    I had also take the opportunity to change into another outfit. It was still formal by the local standards, but it was the best I could do with the wardrobe I had. And of course, I had realized, only after I had searched through a heap of garments, that I had left the jacket I wanted to wear in the ship, so I had to make a hurried trip out through the hard white sunlight to retrieve it.

    Once I had that, I had needed only minutes to finish preparing myself: I arranged my hair into a braided crown--a simple style that I have known how to do since I was at least eight years old, and one that I did not need the Handmaiden to assist me with--with only the mirror, the tall mirror in the absurdly lavishly lion maned curled gold frame that had been left behind in the fresher, to guide me. I watched my staring image closely as I worked, and when I was finished, I stepped back.

    It still seems to me—even now, this many years after I left the training school, and began my life—that looking into a mirror at myself is an act of rebellion. And I looked, without any shame: my jacket was cinched in at my waist, accentuating the curves, the “full blown rose” curves, of my hips, my skin had a white moon glow through my fragile creampale blouse, and my breasts were as well-shaped and pert as when I had been eighteen.

    I was not only not shamed, I took the moment to revel in seeing myself. I was even defiant. Yes: I was this body, and when I went out, others could see me as I had done first.

    As an afterthought, I put on the two jeweled-bead flower rings Queen Jamillia gave me. She told me at the time that they were in the traditional style of the Siciline Archipelago, where she had done service as a political aide in the earlier part of her career. I hadn’t ever worn them on assignment before—and when I saw them in my vanity-case, and chose them, I did so mostly on a whim. But at the time, it felt more like an instinct.

    Before I left, I stopped in to see Captain Hays and the Lieutenant in their assigned quarters several doors away from my room. They had their own dinner--which I would have shared with them, as per usual, if it hadn’t been for the “date with Anakin”—set out on the grey stone conversation table. We stuck to simple foods that are easy to store, and to serve, and they were having a cold summer soup with a loaf of ryoo bread, and a queenberry puddingcake from the bakeshop in my building. Captain Hays had already taken out the card set he kept in his satchel for their post dinner game.

    I didn’t know where the handmaiden was. She couldn’t have gone too far, but once I had declined her services, she had removed herself from the room, and I hadn’t seen her since. And I was just as pleased not to have her around. It made it almost possible not to think of her either.

    “Well, I’m off,” I said. “Could you save some of that for me? You know—just in case. I don’t want to even guess what we’ll be eating at this meal.”

    “We’ll try our best,” Captain Hays. “Good luck with all that.”

    Anakin had his quarters in one of the other wings of the fortress, and C3PO, the protocol droid, was my escort through a series of corridors, and several rose-gold stone stairs. The stone was of obvious offworld origin, and expensive besides. That Hutt had certainly known how to throw her creds about. And while we walked, he was talking: “Oh, this place is a bit much to take in, especially at first. I can’t say that I properly know it even now.”

    “I can understand that,” I said—and I can admit I was relieved that I knew how to respond. Even now, I am not too familiar with droids. We don’t make much use of them on Naboo, and I had only ever encountered them in passing when on my previous missions. This was the first I could recall speaking to one in an actual conversation.

    This time, Anakin was the first one present. When I arrived at the small round dining room, in one of the corners of the palace, he was standing at the window. He had not changed his clothes—but then, I hadn’t expected that he would have. The last smoldering light from the sky outside made his hair glow with a firelight tinge. I don’t know if he had realized we were there, but he didn’t seem surprised when he turned back to the room.

    There was an awkward moment, then: I don’t think that either Anakin or I knew, now that we were both here, what the protocols were for our date. I began a statement that I abandoned after only the first two rather stilted words. Anakin did much the same, and then smiled—a rather flushed, rueful grin that made him appear younger, closer to his actual age.

    Finally C3PO spoke, with a flicker of his eyes that I interpreted as being more than somewhat nervous: “Miss Eyre is here—Anakin.”

    “Thank you, Threepio,” Anakin said.

    The table was already made ready, and someone (and I could not have guessed who) had lit a plump cream-dull candle. I could smell something grease-moist and sharp with a spice that was almost familiar. As I already knew, we would be having the same meal as everyone else. Of course, I had ways of managing this sort of situation: most usually, I would tell people I am a vegetarian. It isn’t that far off the truth—when I do on occasion eat meat, I only eat fish—and it insures I won’t have to eat the meat of an animal I would rather not consume.

    Yes, I am aware that a diplomat ought to have a “spirit of adventure,” but I am not ever going to eat the flesh of a feline, and I have no shame in having my limits.

    We took our seats—and I didn’t have to think once, with Anakin, before I pulled out my own chair—and went about serving ourselves. There were a number of small dishes, and I was relieved to see, as I looked them over, that most of them were vegetarian in nature. I took from several of those, as well as a piece of the thick sand-golden bread on a bone-white stone platter.

    There was also the promised shadow-dark bottle of wine, though we had a pitcher of water, actual water, for the meal. When I looked over at it, Anakin said only: “Yan insisted on it. Don’t worry, Miss Eyre. He wouldn’t ever have less than the best taste.”

    I had expected that Anakin would want to charge forth into a political discussion. So far, he hadn’t held back when he wanted to speak. But instead, he wanted to talk about Senator Amidala: and yes, though I was now aware of who Padmé was, he used her political name to make it easier for me. I wouldn’t have thought she would have that sort of common name; a servant’s name, and—as I would know—a handmaiden’s name. But then I reasoned she was most likely a younger daughter, and her parents could not have known what she would become when they named her. Of course, I didn’t see the need to tell Anakin any of that.

    It was clear to me, as he spoke of Amidala (of Padmé), that he still thought of her as the girl-queen she had been when she was fourteen years old. But then again, he was not alone in that, as most of the Naboo public continue to see her that way even now, years after her terms ended, and she became human again—and when they have all seen her true face.

    He didn’t get too far along , however, before I had to inform him that I had only met Amidala several times. “You would know her far better than I do,” I said.

    “Yeah, maybe,” he said--and if there was a sulky-dragging note of disappointment in his voice, it was gone before I could be certain of it. “But I haven’t seen her in over twelve years. Sure, I know what they put out on the holos, but everyone who wants to knows that.”

    “Then I can tell you she isn’t any different in person,” I said. After I remembered to take a sip from my waterglass, I went on: “But Anakin, it really isn’t the done thing to spend all your time with one woman talking on about another woman. Didn’t your mother tell you that?”

    I had intended that to come off as a joke, which I wouldn’t have usually tried for. But Anakin looked down at his plate before he said: “Don’t laugh too much, but actually, she did tell me something much like that just a few hours ago.”

    “Well then,” I said—and realized that I was tapping my fingers on the side of my water glass in the sort of thoughtless nervous gesture I don’t usually permit myself to get away with. And I hadn’t so much as noticed when I had started. I let my fingers relax and moved my hand away. “I shall only laugh a little. But I thought we were here for you to tell me about revolutions.”

    “The nature of this particular revolution, at least,” Anakin said. “No, I didn’t forget. But I thought we should eat first. I do remember from my time with the Jedi that there are rules for this sort of thing. And more importantly, I was hungry.”

    “You need explain no more,” I said, and he grinned.

    “So,” he said, and he looked away from me for a minute, towards the dark sky outside the window. I could hear C3PO’s footsteps trotting about through the nearby rooms. “I don’t really know where to begin, or what to say. It isn’t that I haven’t tried to explain things before. But everyone here knows already—and when I tried to tell the Chancellor, he never even listened. He just waited until he had the chance to speak so he could lecture us all on peace.”

    “I told you that I would listen, and I meant it,” I said. I had never before heard anyone say that word, peace—the most important amongst all our concepts—with so little respect. “But Anakin, that doesn’t mean I will necessarily agree with everything you tell me.”

    “That’s fair enough,” he said. He tapped his foot in a restless chronic ticktick I could just hear, and: “You were right about one thing: it wasn’t pretty. But then, it couldn’t have been. If we could’ve just asked the Hutts to get gone and gotten results, we would have been free a thousand years ago. As it was, I don’t think there was enough bribe money in this galaxy.”

    He paused to scoop a heap of some sort of meat in a blooddark hot sauce onto his plate I wasn’t about to dare to try. When he saw me watching on, he said: “Don’t worry. We don’t serve womp-rat to our guests. I’ve heard you have to work your way up to liking that.”

    “Ah, thank you for letting me know,” I said.

    He poured a shivering silverpale gulp of water into his glass, and took a sip. “But that’s not really the beginning. Maybe I’m going about this all wrong. I should just tell you about what I mean, all of it, like it’s a story. I should start with the real beginning.”

    Then he began: “When I was nine years old, I wanted to free all the slaves, and I thought I had to become a Jedi to do that. After a while, I learned that actually, I had to stop being a Jedi.”

    He did not ask me if I was familiar with the official accounts of their revolution, and the subsequent alliance with the other worlds. He would have already known the answer to that—and I had read through all the relevant files in the Royal Archives, which (well, of course) the mere public hasn’t access to. But then, that wasn’t the story he would tell me--I find interesting to hear a person’s own version of a common story, how they tell it, what they remember, and what details mattered to them. And yes, I do have a talent for listening: I was trained to do so from my earliest memories, and while there are times I resent it, it has been useful to me.

    (As he spoke, I did wonder—though only in passing--if he had ever thought how he might tell this story, in an imagined future, to Padmé. But she wasn’t here to receive it. I was.)

    Of course, I don’t remember, word for exact word, all of what he told me, but I remember most of it: how, after weeks of nightmares, he returned to Tatooine with Dooku, who had been his mentor in the Jedi, leaving only an excuse. He was sixteen years old, and after six years of being told to release his questions, and his concerns, into the Force, he realized what he already knew—he wasn’t going to receive the answers he wanted. He would have to seek them out.

    He made it clear the revolution was already in motion: Shmi had perfected the design on the scanner he had left behind, and it wasn’t the only one in operation. She was already free—while the accounts I had read indicated Anakin had found her exactly where he had left her—and while she freed people from their explosive chips at night, in secret, and ran the underground news chain with her neighbors, the more obvious front was making its first moves against the Hutts, through their enforcers. They had their custom blast-rifles, but Melee in particular was the better shot. She had to be, and none of those who encountered her lived to tell tales.

    “I like to think I’m indispensible,” Anakin said, accompanied by a shrugged-off grin I was beginning to recognize. “But the truth is, they could have done all this without me. Of course, they sure appreciated the help when I joined in. And when Dooku parted ways with the order, and came into a motherlode of creds, that didn’t hurt either.”

    He did not mind, it turned out, when I spoke up with a remark of my own. After his time with the Jedi, I think he might have preferred it.

    When he was on the subject of the slaves he and his compatriots had rescued—or released without permission—during the days when the revolution was still growing in the shadows, I said: “You make it sound as though these people were utterly helpless.”

    “We didn’t actually rescue them,” he said. “That’s not how it felt, anyway. It was more like-- we just helped them to do what they already wanted. And truth is, not all of those people did want to go with us. Most of them were just in from off-world. They didn’t trust the masters, but they didn’t trust us either. We didn’t push it. As Mom said, it was their choice to make.”

    “I did not know that,” I said.

    “Yeah, well,” and he shrugged. “They must have left that one out of the scare stories they put out in the Core. As Yan would say, it didn’t suit their narrative.”

    After a while, he had opened the wine bottle, and while I had only taken several sips from my glass—as a personal rule, I don’t allow myself to drink—it was of obvious quality. I had leaned back in my chair, and when I noted I was toying with one of my rings, I had let that gesture go.

    There was a burst of shouting laughter outside in the darkness, and someone shot off a blast-rifle in the distance. Anakin paused, and took a drink of his wine. His hair had come loose in disheveled restless wisps from his bun, and his eyes were glossybright—as though he had done more than merely tell his story, he had relived it. The voices outside continued at a lower level of braying volume, and he stood up and walked over to his place at the window

    But he turned to face me when he said: “What do you think?”

    “You’ll have to ask me that again in another week,” I said. And I watched him as I continued, with a sighed out breath: “You have been honest with me, so I should return the favor. I won’t pretend that I understand everything behind what you’ve told me. And I don’t see how violence, no matter how righteous it might be, can come to much good in the end.”

    Amidala had made a similar statement in the Senate during their previous session, in regards to the then recent shipworker-slave revolt on Nubia. But then, we had both been raised up with the same principles of peace our own people had once had to win.

    There was another reason I didn’t understand: when I took my own freedom, I hadn’t had to fight even so much with words. I had simply walked away. It had been that easy in the end. But of course, I did not tell Anakin that. That is one part of being the listener I don’t believe many people ever consider: You know everything the person speaking has revealed with their story, including what they don’t know you have heard, but they don’t know one single thing about you.

    Perhaps I should have told him some version of that part of my own story, because I know now what I suspected then, which is that he didn’t understand me. He was disappointed—and for the first time, I truly felt the fifteen years between our ages—in me: but Amidala, Padmé, would have wounded him at the heart. He was safe in that way with me.

    But he only said: “You’ll just have to get to know us better, Miss Eyre.”

    He sat in a perch on the broad stone window seat, and I stood next to him. My eyes had adjusted to the dark sky outside, because now I could see what he did: the stacked puzzle-pieces of hovels clustered just outside the fortress walls, the slave quarters that people still used to live in—and now, the windows were golden with starlight glowing light, and there was a gathering ongoing in a courtyard. I heard a hawk-pitched guitar wail sing past. Then it was gone.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2019
  11. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    So we open with Jonna reminiscing about her official role as handmaiden to Queen Jamillia:

    Interesting. It's as if Amidala has become the Gold Standard, and in doing so she has inadvertently doomed everyone to a static view of what the queen should do and be. Even the queen herself looks like a copy of Amidala.
    Even the idea that a permanent armed forces makes sense, especially in uncertain times, if Amidala didn't do it then Jamillia won't either.

    Interesting scene here:
    "Looking into a mirror at myself is an act of rebellion." Why, I wonder? Is it because she is supposed to be a copy of every other Naboo woman, who in turn is a copy of Amidala? If she's a copy then what new thing is there to discover by looking in a mirror?

    She is not only not ashamed to see herself, she "revels" in it. It is an act of defiance. And this is what she chooses to look like when she approaches Anakin, the rebel leader himself. Let him be aware: she is no stranger to rebellion, either. The fact that the words are in italics tells me that she is the decider of what she will look like to others. She sets her own standard, thank you.

    Interesting deviation from the canon. So Anakin was apprenticed to Dooku, not Obi-wan. Huh. And he has his doubts about the Jedi much, much earlier -- at sixteen. I wonder how Dooku's training made him so much more willing to question; maybe because Obi-wan was devoted to the order and never wavered whereas Dooku was more of a free-thinker?

    Cool connection to "The Little Mermaid" here. Of course, the mermaid is incapable of speech so all she can do is listen. But a good listener can read between the lines, can infer what isn't being said, can notice what topics are deliberately avoided. And a listener doesn't reveal things accidentally. It's like the mirror scene- she determines what the other person gets to learn about her. This is an interesting way to approach Anakin's revolution - her apparent passivity is actually giving her an advantage.

    Beautifully written!
     
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  12. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Caught up at last! That was definitely quite a dinner date, and if anything it threw the differences between Jonna's regimented, whisperprim Naboo world and Anakin's more rough-and-tumble Tatooine life into even starker relief. The story about the "rescue"—or, rather, the "release without permission" particularly so. Jonna clearly disapproves of Anakin and co.'s "by any means necessary" approach to the revolution; I'm put in mind of Dobby's reaction to Hermione's house-elf liberation attempts in the Harry Potter books. But it definitely shows us readers that the situation with the slaves is not entirely black and white, and that there are going to be nuances and subtleties involved in finding a larger solution. Of course Jonna's used to dealing with nuances and subtleties, so I'm not too worried about her, but Anakin might need a bit of work in that area! :p I too find it interesting that he's no longer officially a Jedi in this universe; I get the feeling he's kind of a "gray" type of Force user now, à la Ahsoka.

    And, of course, the shadow of Padmé is hanging over everything—for both Jonna and Anakin, though in completely different ways. For Jonna as the model of Perfect Naboo Political-Girl-Womanhood, and for Anakin, well, we know what, and Jonna clearly does too. I wonder if she'll appear in person in the story...

    So, was this dinner date a success? [face_thinking] I imagine it's still too early to tell, but I shall very much look forward to seeing what the implications will be—so do keep it coming! :)
     
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  13. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    I still think of something witty to comment now, but divapilot and findswoman are always so mind blowing & brilliant. The only thing I can up with is: will this story continue any time soon? Will Padmé´s mighty shadow remain hovering above everybody else in this story? Can there be a happy ending? Because Hans Christian Andersons´ endings are not happy in this world, but in the afterlife really. As far as I remember the little mermaid and another character of his - a girl freezing in the streets after having visions of her beloved granny.
     
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  14. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 13, 2005
    divapilot: So we open with Jonna reminiscing about her official role as handmaiden to Queen Jamillia:

    Actually, Jonna isn't a handmaiden--her official title is Queen's Emissary, which means she is basically an all-purpose diplomat. (And for reasons that I hope will become clear in time, she would probably take being thought of as a handmaiden as an insult, so it's a good thing she isn't writing these replies.) She speaks for the Queen--and she can also say what Jamillia cannot.

    Interesting. It's as if Amidala has become the Gold Standard, and in doing so she has inadvertently doomed everyone to a static view of what the queen should do and be. Even the queen herself looks like a copy of Amidala...Even the idea that a permanent armed forces makes sense, especially in uncertain times, if Amidala didn't do it then Jamillia won't either.

    I think the role of the Queen on Naboo has been static for a long, long time--they are all the same copy of an ideal goddess-woman that has existed for hundreds, maybe thousands, of years. As for Amidala, she was so beloved by the populace in part because she broke that mold--if it hadn't been for the Trade Federation invasion, and I don't know if that counts as irony or not, she would have served out her terms as another royal copy--but at the same time, she couldn't be that popular if she didn't keep to the rules they value most.

    "Looking into a mirror at myself is an act of rebellion." Why, I wonder? Is it because she is supposed to be a copy of every other Naboo woman, who in turn is a copy of Amidala? If she's a copy then what new thing is there to discover by looking in a mirror?

    She is not only not ashamed to see herself, she "revels" in it. It is an act of defiance. And this is what she chooses to look like when she approaches Anakin, the rebel leader himself. Let him be aware: she is no stranger to rebellion, either. The fact that the words are in italics tells me that she is the decider of what she will look like to others. She sets her own standard, thank you.

    Once you find out more about Jonna's background, that scene should make more sense. (Or so I hope--in true Naboo style, I tend to be overly subtle.) But yes, she feels like she is rebelling by being seen, by being noticed--by herself, and then by others.

    Interesting deviation from the canon. So Anakin was apprenticed to Dooku, not Obi-wan. Huh. And he has his doubts about the Jedi much, much earlier -- at sixteen. I wonder how Dooku's training made him so much more willing to question; maybe because Obi-wan was devoted to the order and never wavered whereas Dooku was more of a free-thinker?

    That's correct--in this universe, Dooku took on Anakin's training when he came to Naboo in the wake of Qui-Gon's death (to Obi-Wan's considerable relief--he wasn't at all ready to take on a padawan, and I think he knew it), and Anakin hardly knows Obi-Wan. I think at that point that Dooku was thisclose to leaving the order, and it was training Anakin that kept him there a while longer--well, until they had both had enough. Yes, this time, Anakin had considerable doubts about the Jedi Order--which I think he should have had more of in the movies, but that is another subject--but when he was still only ten years old, he could only really go along with things. Then he grew up.

    Cool connection to "The Little Mermaid" here. Of course, the mermaid is incapable of speech so all she can do is listen. But a good listener can read between the lines, can infer what isn't being said, can notice what topics are deliberately avoided. And a listener doesn't reveal things accidentally. It's like the mirror scene- she determines what the other person gets to learn about her. This is an interesting way to approach Anakin's revolution - her apparent passivity is actually giving her an advantage.

    That's a good point--so good, in fact, that I don't think I can add anything to it.

    Beautifully written!

    Thank you, and thank you for reading and responding!

    ----------------------

    Findswoman: Caught up at last! That was definitely quite a dinner date, and if anything it threw the differences between Jonna's regimented, whisperprim Naboo world and Anakin's more rough-and-tumble Tatooine life into even starker relief. The story about the "rescue"—or, rather, the "release without permission" particularly so.

    Once again, the cultural differences between the Naboo girl and the Tatooine boy rear up--and what is interesting is that Jonna keeps herself under particularly rigid control (she would probably admit to identifying with this line from Radiohead's song "Creep"--"I don't care it if it hurts, I want to have control"), so she is actually relaxed during this dinner--she just isn't relaxed by local standards. As for the "rescues," I think it's interesting that what she objects to is that the wording makes the slaves in question seem helpless.

    Jonna clearly disapproves of Anakin and co.'s "by any means necessary" approach to the revolution; I'm put in mind of Dobby's reaction to Hermione's house-elf liberation attempts in the Harry Potter books. But it definitely shows us readers that the situation with the slaves is not entirely black and white, and that there are going to be nuances and subtleties involved in finding a larger solution. Of course Jonna's used to dealing with nuances and subtleties, so I'm not too worried about her, but Anakin might need a bit of work in that area! :p I too find it interesting that he's no longer officially a Jedi in this universe; I get the feeling he's kind of a "gray" type of Force user now, à la Ahsoka.

    It's interesting: when I was writing Jonna's lines where she denounces "righteous violence" the words felt false, like she was just repeating a cliche without any meaning behind it--and most likely, that's how it felt for her, even though she doesn't say as much, and even though her sentiment is genuine enough. That's how peace has been on Naboo--an abstract concept people take for granted--and that's probably how Anakin saw it.

    And yes, he's not so fond of subtleties (though thanks to Dooku's teachings, he does know how to recognize one when he sees it)--he thinks those are ways of wasting time when you could just barge to the point and get things done.

    And yes, he is no longer a Jedi--he went rogue and then his master joined him--but he'll always have the Force, so I suppose he is indeed a gray or independent sort of Force user by default.

    And, of course, the shadow of Padmé is hanging over everything—for both Jonna and Anakin, though in completely different ways. For Jonna as the model of Perfect Naboo Political-Girl-Womanhood, and for Anakin, well, we know what, and Jonna clearly does too. I wonder if she'll appear in person in the story...

    Oh yes, Jonna knows what Padmé means to Anakin--but then, we are talking about Anakin, who in the movies openly told his stern and disapproving Jedi Master that he thought about her every single day, even after he hadn't seen her for ten years, so I think nearly everyone who knows him knows that. Jonna herself has (as a result of her background) conflicted feelings towards Amidala that go beyond her obvious public image--and she may be even more conflicted about the side Anakin knew and who she has never seen. As for whether or not Amidala will show up live and in person, I obviously can't reveal that, but there might be a spoiler lying in wait in Andersen's "The Little Mermaid."

    So, was this dinner date a success? [face_thinking] I imagine it's still too early to tell, but I shall very much look forward to seeing what the implications will be—so do keep it coming!
    :)

    Thank you, and I hope to have more coming at some point in the near future. As always, thank you for reading and commenting!

    ----------------------------

    AzureAngel2: I still think of something witty to comment now, but divapilot and findswoman are always so mind blowing & brilliant. The only thing I can up with is: will this story continue any time soon? Will Padmé´s mighty shadow remain hovering above everybody else in this story? Can there be a happy ending? Because Hans Christian Andersons´ endings are not happy in this world, but in the afterlife really. As far as I remember the little mermaid and another character of his - a girl freezing in the streets after having visions of her beloved granny.

    I can't always come up with wit on demand, either, so don't worry about that. And yes, I hope to continue this story soon. (I have a post in motion, and I hope to reach the end in the near future.) As for the ending, I can't give that away, but while it might not be terribly happy, I don't expect it will be on HCA's level. He really never did have happy endings, did he? (With the possible exception of "The Ugly Duckling.") Let's just say that I figured out soon enough, when I was ten and first reading his stories, that I wasn't in Disneyland anymore.

    Thanks for reading, and commenting!
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2019
  15. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 13, 2005
    *

    When the knock came on the door of my room, I was sitting at the edge of the bed painting my toenails: I was holding my left foot up by the heel as I applied the copperpenny polish. It was a small knuckled taptaptap, but I knew I had heard it. After I polished the broken-clawed nail on my little toe, I set my foot back on the floor, and: “You may come in.”

    I didn’t know who, of the people I had met that day, would come to see me—but I was still surprised when it was Melee who walked in through the opened doorway, and stopped only several feet into the room, at a respectful distance from me. She was wearing a long wine-red velvet coat with an arched lace collar over her white dress against the cold wind-breathing night. It was loose on her, and she had dragged the cuffs over her fingers.

    She looked taken aback at seeing me. I couldn’t have said why: I didn’t look much different than I had when she had seen me before. I haven’t ever bothered with disguising makeup. My face is, as I have well observed, enough of a mask as it is. She looked down at her little hoof-heeled boots, but her voice was still easy when she said: “I hope I’m not bothering you, Miss Eyre.”

    “Not at all,” I said—and lifted up my right foot, and returned to polishing my nails. It was warm with echoed heat in my hand, and I could feel the dried sandgrit from the floor on the sole. “I wouldn’t have let you in if that were the case. Is there something I can help you with?”

    “No, I just wanted to talk,” she said. “You know, at the conference, when Rania—well, she was sitting with me and you’ll remember her—was talking out of turn--”

    Oh yes, I remembered Rania, though I hadn’t previously had a name to know her by. Melee continued: “You were right to take her to task like that. You just can’t let people push you around if you can help it, and we’re all free here.”

    That was not what I had expected her to say, and I waited a moment to respond: “Ah, yes. I shall take it I don’t need to know exactly what she said.”

    “Yeah, you’re right about that,” Melee said. “It wasn’t even interesting. And honestly. The way I figure it, if you’re going to insult someone, either do it straight to their face, or do it far enough behind their back that they don’t ever have to know.”

    “That seems fair enough to me,” I said--and finished with the polish, I closed the little brush back into the bottle, and stood up with a bird winged swish of my white petticoat-skirt. I didn’t know what I should say to Melee now: it did occur to me, rather absurdly, that I might ask if she wanted to use my polish, but it seemed too likely she would take that as an insult.

    Melee was looking around the room. I found it interesting myself: it must have been intended for the Hutt’s more favored guests: it was a large room with a high cloud-pale ceiling, and the rosebrown-and-cream gameboard tile floor that was very much not original to the building. Then there were the mosaics painted on the walls, even in that fresher. After I had returned from dinner, I had taken a close look at them—and the style was one that I hadn’t seen before. The mosaic on the south wall showed a scene of a cluttered rock tower with shaggy junipers in front, and a woman with a heart-flower shaped face and blonde hair and tawny round feline ears. Whatever it was, this wasn’t Hutt art. It must have already been there when she took over this fortress.

    “I heard you were staying in here,” Melee said, finding the subject for us. “It was probably past time we made some use of it. This is the first I’ve been back in here since we took the place.”

    That had been over four years before: and I knew already, from the stale dust smell when I had first entered the room, it had been closed for most of that time. “I should have thought you would have found a use for it sometime ago.”

    Melee gave a tiny arched shrug. “A lot of bad stuff went down in here. You can just imagine who Gardulla allowed the pleasure of staying in this room. She wasn’t a pervert like Jabba or anything, but she turned her loving eye away from whatever her favorites did.”

    All I knew of Gardulla was that she had decided—unlike her clan-rival Jabba—to take the terms Shmi offered her and leave this planet alive. She had taken refuge with a cousin on Nal Hutta, where she was reduced to some sort of begging-relation, and the Hutts had created some noise in the senate which I knew of mostly secondhand. That was for Amidala to deal with.

    “You know, I forgot all about those paintings,” Melee said.

    She went over to stand in front of the lion-woman at her rock tower, and watched that as she continued. “I’ve heard that certain events can leave this sort of ghost-sense behind—like a darkcloud you can feel, but can’t see. I know Shmi felt that way about this room, and I trust her. But maybe, now that you’re here, that’ll change.”

    “Perhaps," I said, and then, since I couldn't think of how else to continue with the conversation: "So I take it that you also live here at the fortress."

    “Yeah,” Melee said, and turned back to me. “I have an apartment upstairs, up at the very top. You know, some of us wanted to tear this place down at first. And I admit it, I wouldn’t have tried to stop them. I never would have thought I would live here. But well, here we are.”

    “Indeed,” I said. "And I would imagine Shmi has an apartment here as well?"

    “No, she still lives just outside of town,” Melee said. “Which is good. She needs to have some time away from leading the planet, and taking care of us, and her husband prefers it there.”

    That was not what I had expected to hear, but when I spoke, I permitted only a faint note of interest to show in my voice: "Anakin never mentioned that Shmi was married. Oh, he didn’t outright tell me that she was single, but he certainly implied that was the case.”

    Melee let her breath out with a ruefully shrugged sigh. “That doesn’t surprise me. Anakin-- tends to leave out those details he doesn’t like. But yeah, she is married. Hermes has always preferred to work in the background, but you’ll probably meet him before too long.”

    After she had left, I pulled on a midnight-blue sweater coat I had found in my wardrobe—it was one of the simplest things I owned, adorned only with glassflower buttons—and stepped out onto the stone balcony perched above the dark desert. I could just make out the shivering burning bush of a bonfire out in the distance, closer to the town. It was cold—and there was a strong fisted wind tearing about, tossing grit onto my eyeballs. I stepped back closer under the overhanging. We don’t have weather like this where I come from, and I had only experienced the like of it once before.

    I thought back to what Melee had said as she stood at the fresco. She had meant it, as she would not have said it otherwise--and she wouldn’t have known politicians are given to saying much the same thing. Yes, they have even done so with me: You grace this house with your presence, the royal governor on Xyline II told me, and while a Jedi was standing mere feet away.

    I knew of only one person in the course of my work who had been so truthful with me before: Theomet Danlé, the royal services lieutenant who, once his part in that assassination attempt on Amidala was found out, was sent into exile in the southern polar wastelands. That isn’t what the public was told, but I don’t care what story they believe. It wouldn’t be inaccurate to say he was condemned to the wastelands--to live years of a dead solitary celibate life.

    So yes, he had no reason to make nice with me when I arrived at night, in the wind-whipped moonblank darkness, out on the tundra plain near the stone tower he was assigned to. I wouldn’t have blamed him if he hadn’t even allowed me inside. Certainly, he deserved that much dignity. He had listened with a cold stare while I told him how his grandparents had come before Queen Jamillia to beg for this bargain, but he had not been moved. He hadn’t given me one word of information.

    Amidala hadn’t died in that explosion. She hadn’t even been hurt. As for the two handmaidens who were killed: well, they are of no importance, and they have no names.

    I didn’t remain outside for long before I stepped back into the room. It was so quiet at first, a glass-frozen absolute hush—and then I overheard Captain Hays’ murmured voice nearby, with what I must admit felt rather like relief. I did not so much as consider going to visit him: it sounded as though he was having his regular call with his wife. I picked up my datapad and returned to the file of thick black words I had been studying since I had finished my requisite call with Jamillia.

    I didn’t believe there was a stain left from the events that had once taken place in this room, and I would never see anything while I lived there to alter my opinion.

    But I did think of it again when I had gotten into bed, and turned onto my side and folded my legs up as close against me as I could. That is still the only way I can manage to fall into the darkness I know when I am asleep. It seemed more plausible in the shadow-lit room, and I didn’t care to think of what dreams I might imagine. And yes: after only a few minutes, I got up and turned on the ambergold glow of the bedside nightlamp. I would not have any dreams that night.

    ---

    The next day, and the days following after that, I went out into the streets of the town of Mos Espa. That was always the one way I could learn what I needed to about a new place. Captain Hays and the Lieutenant did the same, though they went on their separate ways. There was a reason for that: people, especially those of the common classes, tended to behave differently around them when I was not also present. We had first learned to take advantage of that on Xyline II, where the royal housemistress had assigned them to the servant’s quarters, and without consulting me.

    It might have been an insult, but it proved to be a useful one—they came to know the servants, and they learned all the rumors, and the information behind them, I would not have ever heard. We had agreed, while we were working out our plans, that would be even more so here.

    And yes—the handmaiden was out in the town as well. When she made her appearance in my room that first morning, I had forced myself to speak to her long enough to suggest she do so, which I knew she would take as the orders she needed.

    She had nodded—which I saw mostly as a shiver of her reflection in that fresher mirror--and then she spoke: “Of course, mam.”

    I couldn’t tell how the town had changed since the revolution. Much of the criminal element was gone now—they had left in the wake of the surviving slavers, when it was clear to them (as Shmi had told me) the new leadership hadn’t much use for them. But that was not a change I could see, and overall, I suspect the town was much as it had always been: the business district on the broad main street was crowded with people, and assorted droids, going about the shops and the cluttered puzzle of vending stands at the outdoor market, through the thick golden-lit air. Their voices moved in a variety of conversations and transactions, in a fluttering, swaying song.

    Most of them kept to the shade, away from the hard blue sky hovering over the roofs, and I followed their example as I walked along. It was too hot for my liking even in the mornings—though I did note once, when I could bear to look up, the faraway faint white smudge of a cloud.

    There was a variety of transportation methods such as I hadn’t ever seen before: I saw the more expected speeders, many of them junked-up and patchworked together, as well as carts made from salvaged wood dragged along by beasts, though one was pulled by a pair of the advanced battle droids. People even rode beasts. I saw several pink sand-furred animals I believed were eopies standing side by side in a doze in the porch shade outside the main mercantile mall.

    There were people sitting at the small card tables lined up on the walkway outside the mall, and the koffe house perched next to it, engaged in varied games that seemed to wander on for hours, as they must have for years. There was one older man with a sundried ragged face and shaggy grey beard who played several companions at a board game that looked much like Castles. On the second day, a little girl with fat red curls, and a long nosed black wulf-dog pup in her lap, was sitting with him.

    But there was one change I only learned to notice after some time: in all the cacophony of voices, like a constant rainstorm, not one of them spoke Huttese. As Melee would tell me later, after I had returned to the palace: It’s still here in my head, and maybe it always will be. But that doesn’t mean I have to actually speak that garbagetalk ever again.

    While I was aware that I wouldn’t be able to blend into the crowds as I prefer, I did what I could—I wore a plain barkbrown skirt, with the wine-red embroidered lilies kept to the underskirt, with a long fawn summer jacket, and practically heeled woods boots. That first morning, I bought a black summerhat at one of the stalls in the market, and the seller took the Republic-issue creds I had to pay with, and I wore my darkglasses to hide what I looked at.

    And as it turned out, I was far from the only offworlder around: Mos Espa is the regional spaceport-town, and Tatooine is located along the Treillus Hyperspace Route—which must have been one factor in why the Hutts had taken it over—and with their alliance, trade had only increased. The people around me, and even those I interacted with, did not pay me much mind.

    I was watching a streetside play being performed with two actors on a makeshift float-shade in front of an empty adobe garage while I ate an onion-fish pasty I had just bought from a quickfood cart when Anakin appeared next to me. He must have just returned from the trip to the orbit-fleet Shmi had told me about, the one that had kept him away overnight, and he wore a black shirt with ghost-shadow grey embroidered flowers, and an amber-bead bracelet drooped on his left wrist.

    He waited until I had turned to see him before he spoke: “Miss Eyre. I heard from a reliable source you were in town today, but I hadn’t thought I would run into you.”

    “And yet here we both are,” I said—though I could only just hear my voice through the eruption of giggles from the audience gathered in front of the stage at some joke I hadn’t heard. “Oh, and please don’t tell me how you recognized me straight away.”

    “But that wouldn’t be the truth. I didn’t even need my Jedi skills,” he said. “No offense intended, but you look like a rich outlander.”

    “But I am an outlander, and a reasonably well-off one,” I said. “In other words, rich. So you might say it would be disingenuous for me to look as though I were otherwise. Besides which, I didn’t have any peasant clothes to bring with me. No offense taken.”

    “I can’t argue with that point,” he said. Then he turned his attention over to the stage ahead of us, where another play appeared to be starting up, and: “Oh, I know this one. I’m just going to follow your example, Miss Eyre, and fetch one of those pies.”

    He returned only several minutes later, bearing two of the pastries, and a underwater-green tinted bottle of the local favored beer. When I raised my eyebrows at the pastries, he only grinned. Once we had taken our seats on a burned-white bone log bench Anakin knew to find back behind the rest of the audience, we watched the play, and ate, in polite silence.

    The story the play told was obviously one descended from local folklore: the sort of story that gets told, with a number of changing versions, over and over and over again. We don’t much of an oral tradition, so I had known that only as an abstract notion. As I must have indicated before, I have an interest in stories—I took my graduate degree in literary studies—and while this story did work differently than those I was most familiar with, it wasn’t so different as I would have expected.

    It was about ordinary people, the sort who show up in the folkstories our country people have tended to keep to themselves, though the realist fiction writers did imitate them—the character of “Yes Master,” who the kitchenmaids had to trick as the point of the narrative, appeared only as an echoed-boom voice from behind the stage. I could but wonder how they would have performed it before the revolution. The Hutts had, I knew from my reading, banned those stories they did not want known, but this one was silly enough that they might have overlooked the subtext.

    The audience did not watch on with polite silence. When I first attended the Midsummer’s Fair festival, before I had even officially purchased my flat, I had found the crowds to be too raucous, and I wasn’t interested in their loud feedback. But it did prepare me for this style of theatre. These people nearly became a part of the play themselves: they called out advice to the characters, and laughed at every bawdy joke, and even threw out ones of their own.

    When the stage swayed back and forth to represent the effects of the sexual encounter between “Dummy Kattina” and the offworld dandy-smuggler taking place offstage, Anakin laughed along with everyone else. I didn’t laugh myself, though I actually find bawdy humor amusing.

    Yes, I was thirty years old before I ever saw one of the “courting plays” performed--but I learned some of the most trashy and bawdy jokes during my wasted girlhood years in training. It was one of the first ways I defied the Sisters, and I wasn’t alone in doing so. Of course, we were aware that we could only ever know about sex in the abstract—handmaidens are condemned to celibacy, even before they enter their royal service and take the vows. But we wanted to know as much as we could, even if that was in the form of a codpiece joke.

    When Dummy Kattina left the stage and ran out through the crowds—thus ending the story of the play—she passed right by me. For that moment, I could only see the moving blur of her hair, and the leaf rustle from her feedbag skirts. Then she was gone, and those people nearest us, who had turned around to watch her, were already turning away.

    “So,” Anakin said, stretching his back. The actors had swept a tall patchwork-mended sheet of a curtain across the stage, and the crowd was breaking up and moving on around us. I had to lean towards him to hear his voice against the background babblesong. “What did you think? It must be pretty different from the stories you know.”

    Since he had asked, I knew he was interested in what my answer would be, and it was easiest to merely tell him the truth: “You might be surprised. It reminded me in some ways of the country folktales I’m familiar with.”

    “Oh, really,” Anakin stood up, throwing his dustsoft dark shadow over me, and I stood up after him with a swooping shake of my skirts. I brushed at the rough sand-dust crumbs from the pastry in with several obvious darting swats. “Tell me more.”

    As we walked back along the street, he said: “I have to admit that I don’t remember hearing anything like one of the kitchen-stories when I was on Naboo.”

    That was when I first noticed how he spoke of Naboo--as though he knew it well, with a long understanding, when he had only been there once, and years before. I suspect that, if I had been able to know him longer, it would have come to be an irritant for me. As it was, I could ignore it: “Really, Anakin,” I said. “They’re not much for folkstories at court, and I don’t expect they let you wander off to the palace kitchens. So it’s no wonder you wouldn’t have heard them.”

    “Oh, they didn’t let me.” He nodded in passing at a trio of acquaintances without leaving our discussion. “But I did do some roaming around with my own permission, and I’m sure I would have found the kitchens if one of the servants hadn’t found me first.”

    “I should have expected nothing less from you, Anakin,” I said. “But yes. I can’t say that I am much of a storyteller, but I will have to share a few of our stories with you before I leave.”

    “I am going to hold you to that, Miss Eyre,” he said.

    It isn’t the thing to take a personal approach with a diplomatic relationship—and on my previous missions, I had always been aware, regardless of how friendly my outward demeanor was, of what the limits to that had to be. But this world, and the people I had met here, did not work according to those rules—and it is also not the thing to treat each mission as the same.

    But I was acting on instinct only, without any calculation, when I said: “There’s no reason really to be so formal with me by now. You may call me by my given name if you like.”

    He hadn’t expected that, and I continued on after a paused moment: “When you consider that I already call you by your given name, it is only fair. Otherwise, it would be best if I were to address you as “Meister Skywalker.”

    That made him laugh in his usual fashion. “You’d probably better not. If you called me Mister Skywalker, I wouldn’t know who you were talking to.”

    We returned together to the fortress, riding on the back of one of the tall-wheeled carts underneath a snowlily sheet sunshade. I would not experience riding in a vehicle Anakin had the charge of driving until later. When we walked into the busy courtyard, I saw Melee was standing in front of one of the tangled twisted juniper trees by the wall. She only arched her eyebrows at me, and I shrugged in return. Everyone else continued with their business.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2019
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  16. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Ooh, that is one interesting OC backstory that is slowly coming to light! I had wondered what was up with Jonna's attitude about handmaidens. And I really liked that she got to talk to Melee and Anakin more -- their stories about what happened in this AU are fascinating. (I had wondered if we would see more of Melee, and she seems much more complicated than she did at first meeting.) Can't blame Jonna for feeling disturbed by sleeping in a not-literally-but-still haunted place.

    Really enjoying how we get to see more and more of the real personality beneath the diplomatic facade. And Jonna sure does have a lot to say at times, even if only to herself!

    [face_laugh] And yes, the "date" was very interesting. Anakin doesn't seem OOC at all to me -- still can't talk to women in any universe. :p Though he has his positive traits too, and this AU brings them out, I think.
     
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  17. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Interesting, and encouraging, conversation with Melee at the start of this; she and Jonna seem to be more on the same wavelength now, where at first they seemed pretty much at odds with each other, and I get the feeling Melee will turn out to be not such a bad ally for Jonna to have as she continues to negotiate her mission. I'm curious about the painting of the sort of leonine woman on the wall and whether she should remind me of anything. I'm guessing, too, that when Gardulla owned this place, this room was where she let her favorites (anyone in particular?) go about their, er, pleasures; Jonna being a practical sort is clearly not fazed by that, but I almost wondering if there might be a bit of foreshadowing at work here. Very intriguing to know that Shmi's got a husband, and that it is apparently not Cliegg Lars; color me very curious now about this very private Hermes fellow.

    Woot (pardon that very non-Naboo expression) for another impromptu date of sorts with Anakin! :D It’s not entirely surprising that he recognizes her at once without even needing to use the Force, even with her sunglasses and hat; I can imagine that she does stand out pretty much wherever she goes on Tatooine. And yet—it’s interesting to note that some of her own people’s stories are not really al that different from those Tatooine street play stories, suggesting that in some essential, deep-down ways the two worlds have more in common than they know. I wonder what stories she plans to tell Anakin; their relationship is definitely taking a more familiar turn here if they’re now on both first-name and storytelling bases. What will that lead to? (I think the answer to that is suggested by your hint about...

    ...the Padmé-related spoiler hidden inside the original HCA tale. I think I have a guess what form that might take, and if my guess is anywhere near right, then I’m definitely entering “waiting for the shoe to drop” mode! [face_nail_biting]

    Looking forward to more, as always! =D=
     
  18. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Our little mermaid is decorating her bargained-for feet, which, as I recall, were killing her not too long ago. Interesting.

    While I'm here, can I just say that "Melee" is a brilliant name? It has that kind of Naboo feminine lady-in-waiting structure but a completely different literal meaning.

    Melee seems to have faith in Jonna. Perhaps Jonna is so unlike them that she can see what they miss because it's too familiar? Or maybe Melee senses that Jonna is not the type to waste time with niceties. Like her literary namesake, she gets to work and gets things done.

    :eek: They let an innocent man be sentenced to exile, two women died and nobody cared enough to even identify them --- that's some kind of cold-hearted. No wonder he didn't care for pardon. He's not going to allow Jamilla the luxury of being magnanimous in forgiving him, having to thank her for her mercy, when it was she who imprisoned him in the first place.

    I like the street theater show - very Shakespearean, with the crowds getting into the act, very like the medieval Everyman stories told in front of the churches. The description of Mos Espa was wonderful - your knack for creating vivid details is inspiring. I could not just see the streets jammed with vendors, I heard them and felt the heat from them, too.

    Great update; I am curious how this situation with Anakin is going to play out. I'm also wondering how old he is here. I'm thinking in his 30s?
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
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  19. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Kahara: Ooh, that is one interesting OC backstory that is slowly coming to light! I had wondered what was up with Jonna's attitude about handmaidens. And I really liked that she got to talk to Melee and Anakin more -- their stories about what happened in this AU are fascinating. (I had wondered if we would see more of Melee, and she seems much more complicated than she did at first meeting.) Can't blame Jonna for feeling disturbed by sleeping in a not-literally-but-still haunted place.

    Well, I'm glad to hear that Jonna's backstory is becoming more clear--I didn't want it to come as a gotcha! surprise, and I was beginning to suspect I was being more subtle than subtle. And there is certainly more to Melee than she showed at that first meeting. Originally, I had her figured for having a sort of antagonistic relationship with Jonna, but I think it's better that I went in this direction instead.

    Really enjoying how we get to see more and more of the real personality beneath the diplomatic facade. And Jonna sure does have a lot to say at times, even if only to herself!

    Jonna does tend to notice more than she lets on--rather like some other Naboo characters.

    [face_laugh] And yes, the "date" was very interesting. Anakin doesn't seem OOC at all to me -- still can't talk to women in any universe. :p Though he has his positive traits too, and this AU brings them out, I think.

    Yes, there was a reason Shmi had a Talk with Anakin prior to his dinner with Jonna (and I suspect she didn't just advise him against spending the whole time talking about Padmé). But he's nothing if not honest, and that counts for something--and apparently, being a revolutionary leader is good for his mental health in a way that being a rule-following (and I think he did try to follow the rules) Jedi was not.

    Thanks for reading and commenting!

    ---------

    Findswoman: Interesting, and encouraging, conversation with Melee at the start of this; she and Jonna seem to be more on the same wavelength now, where at first they seemed pretty much at odds with each other, and I get the feeling Melee will turn out to be not such a bad ally for Jonna to have as she continues to negotiate her mission.

    They have started out at odds (and as I said to Kahara, I originally planned for them to continue that way) but Melee isn't as aggressive as she sometimes seems. She gave Jonna a chance, and Jonna gained her respect. And in return, Jonna is giving her another chance. So yes, I think she will prove to be an ally for Jonna, and given how fierce she can be, she's good to have on your side.

    I'm curious about the painting of the sort of leonine woman on the wall and whether she should remind me of anything. I'm guessing, too, that when Gardulla owned this place, this room was where she let her favorites (anyone in particular?) go about their, er, pleasures; Jonna being a practical sort is clearly not fazed by that, but I almost wondering if there might be a bit of foreshadowing at work here.

    There is something mysterious about that leonine woman (and what she might have represented when that painting was done) but she doesn't have a direct connection otherwise with anything in the narrative. (Of course, that, like everything else, is subject to change as the story progresses.) And you're right about what this room was used for under Gardulla's rule. Jonna is not only practical, she isn't at all spiritual (and she's Force-blind) so that does inform how she approaches the history of the room, but I do think--while she doesn't believe for one second she's going to see any ghosts or visions from the past--that knowing it has some effect on her.

    Very intriguing to know that Shmi's got a husband, and that it is apparently not Cliegg Lars; color me very curious now about this very private Hermes fellow.

    Originally, I was going to have Shmi be married to Cliegg Lars--who would have a role similar to the husband she does have, and who may show up in passing in the role he now has--but I take the whole concept of AUs too seriously. If you change one thing, you change many things. Shmi leaves slavery a fair bit earlier in this universe than she apparently does in the movies--and therefore, the circumstances under which she and Cliegg married never happened, and she meets Hermes, who she never knew in the canon universe. As for Hermes, he should show up at some point, but he is very private.

    Woot (pardon that very non-Naboo expression) for another impromptu date of sorts with Anakin! :D It’s not entirely surprising that he recognizes her at once without even needing to use the Force, even with her sunglasses and hat; I can imagine that she does stand out pretty much wherever she goes on Tatooine. And yet—it’s interesting to note that some of her own people’s stories are not really al that different from those Tatooine street play stories, suggesting that in some essential, deep-down ways the two worlds have more in common than they know. I wonder what stories she plans to tell Anakin; their relationship is definitely taking a more familiar turn here if they’re now on both first-name and storytelling bases. What will that lead to? (I think the answer to that is suggested by your hint about...

    They are definitely getting to know each other, and on more than a diplomatic basis. (Of course, from Anakin, that's a big compliment.) And they have--cue The Carpenters--only just begun. But yes, there is that spoiler you spoke of lurking in the background of the Andersen story, and you're right to be wary.

    Looking forward to more, as always!

    Thanks, and thank you for reading and commenting!

    -------------

    divapilot: Our little mermaid is decorating her bargained-for feet, which, as I recall, were killing her not too long ago. Interesting.

    They were killing her, but she got better? Seriously, this is the sort of story-appropriate foot imagery that once years ago (the story in that case was a "Cinderella" re-telling) had some of my classmates saying in jest that I had a foot fetish. I don't--I was just going with the source--but I found that amusing.

    While I'm here, can I just say that "Melee" is a brilliant name? It has that kind of Naboo feminine lady-in-waiting structure but a completely different literal meaning.

    Thank you about Melee's name, but I can't take the credit for it: she's actually a canon character, one of the Tatooine kids in that one scene in The Phantom Menace.

    Melee seems to have faith in Jonna. Perhaps Jonna is so unlike them that she can see what they miss because it's too familiar? Or maybe Melee senses that Jonna is not the type to waste time with niceties. Like her literary namesake, she gets to work and gets things done.

    Jonna earned Melee's respect (as exactly someone who gets to the point, and gets things done), and that is no small thing. As I said in an earlier set of replies, I didn't intend for Jonna to be much like Jane Eyre beyond her name, but she's more and more like her than I had realized.

    :eek: They let an innocent man be sentenced to exile, two women died and nobody cared enough to even identify them --- that's some kind of cold-hearted. No wonder he didn't care for pardon. He's not going to allow Jamilla the luxury of being magnanimous in forgiving him, having to thank her for her mercy, when it was she who imprisoned him in the first place.

    I'm afraid he wasn't actually innocent--he was involved in a plot to assassinate Senator Amidala. (Which is not the exact same assassination attempt as the one at the beginning of Attack of the Clones, but apparently, poor Cordé and Versé have to die in every universe.) He had a minor role--he passed on the information of her exact whereabouts at an exact time to the assassin--but that is still enough to count as high treason, which would be a capital offense on many worlds. There isn't a death penalty on Naboo, hence the exile to the tower in the wastelands. It is the traditional punishment for his crime, and Jamillia really hadn't any other choice. (All of this, by the way, every syllable, is my own fanon.) The most she can do is soften his sentence if he aides in the larger investigation against those who hired him--and he refuses to do so, because it's really one of the only choices left to him.

    I like the street theater show - very Shakespearean, with the crowds getting into the act, very like the medieval Everyman stories told in front of the churches. The description of Mos Espa was wonderful - your knack for creating vivid details is inspiring. I could not just see the streets jammed with vendors, I heard them and felt the heat from them, too.

    I hadn't intended to give the theatre scene a Shakespearean/Elizabethan feel, but it probably just goes to show that is so embedded in my psyche, I did it naturally and unconsciously. I'm glad that Mos Espa felt like a real vivid place to you. I very much wanted it to feel real, and not like just a stage set.

    Great update; I am curious how this situation with Anakin is going to play out. I'm also wondering how old he is here. I'm thinking in his 30s?

    You'll just have to see how the situation with Anakin develops. As for his age--he must come across as mature for his age, because he is in his early twenties. Jonna refers to him as a "boy," and mentions at one point that there is a fifteen year difference in their ages, and she is obviously the elder. (Also, I don't think he would wait until he was thirty to get to freeing the slaves.) It's Jonna who is in her thirties--for exact ages, he's twenty-one and she is thirty-six. I realize that many people don't care for that kind of age gap, but the characters needed to be the ages they are for the roles I had them in. Besides which, I really, really, really did not want Jonna to be another Brilliant and Perfect Young Wonder.

    And for what it is worth, Anakin is quite different from a modern American twenty-one year old with their parents' hovering protective helicopter blades whirring overhead.

    Finally, thanks for reading, and commenting!
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2019
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