TITLE: “Love and Duty: Ellie Skye, Princess and Advisor to the Princess of Theed” PAIRING: None, really. Ellie is married to her career, not to put too fine a point on it. Though, she is growi...
01.) Love: It was love – love of her people; love of her beautiful city; love of politics; love of that indescribable feeling of almost holy joy that comes when one is doing good and working so hard and so frantically that nothing else exists but the work and the need to do it and the perfect rhythm of steady accomplishment – that made her choose the career path she did, that made her accept her hasty, last-minute nomination for the position of Princess of Theed, after the current Princess of Theed unseated the corrupt Veruna and became Queen of Naboo, not any desire for power or position, though likely few if any not from Naboo (and perhaps also Alderaan and Chandrila) or the Jedi Temple would ever understand or believe such reasons.
02.) Hate: The Great Lady advocates love and acceptance and forgiveness and tolerance and personal growth, but she cannot help but hate the Trade Federation, for what they’re doing to her planet and people, first with their unfair and unreasonable blockade and later with their wholly illegal invasion.
03.) Pain: The pain of failure is so breath-taking that it take her a while to realize she’s actually been hit, in the process of fleeing the Palace.
04.) Joy: She felt such joy when she was elected and was full of such optimism for the future that it’s hard to believe things could have gone so wrong and gotten so completely awful so quickly, but the throbbing agony of her grazed (and so badly blistered) left arm tells her, irrefutably, that this is no mere nightmare, however much she might like to believe it to be.
05.) Fear: She’s too busy running to feel fear, but as soon as they’ve gotten safely away the adrenaline abruptly runs out, and she begins to shake uncontrollably, her body wracked with shivers so violent that even her teeth chatter.
06.) Trust: The trust between a sworn Lady and her handmaidens is meant to be absolute and sacrosanct, and so she has a hard time understanding why and how Queen Amidala could have purposefully ordered some of the handmaidens who were with her and who could have fled with her to instead stay behind, when she left with the Jedi, until it finally occurs to her that Amidala was (foolishly, perhaps, but doubtlessly motivated by the best of intentions) trying to protect her youngest, most vulnerable handmaidens from being killed or captured, as she came so close to being when she fled the planet.
07.) Betray: She’s determined not to betray just how much pain she’s in, from her wound, because she’s so sure that others more seriously hurt than she deserve to have whatever (far too few) medicines and care they have available, but her handmaidens can tell something is wrong, and they refuse to be put off until they finally get a good look at her badly burned arm.
08.) Promise: She made a promise to the people of Theed and to the Queen of Naboo, to uphold the peaceful process of a just democracy and protect the rights and freedoms and safety of the residents of Theed, and she refuses to let a stupid graze from a blaster keep her from helping the people now, when they have such a need for strong leadership!
09.) Appreciate: If nothing else, the blockade and invasion are going to teach her (and a whole lot of others, too) to appreciate all of the little things that beings so often take for granted and to know what real privation feels like.
10.) Annoy: She tries very hard not to let the (over)protectiveness of her handmaidens annoy her, but for pity’s sake, she’s the elected Princess of Theed, not some delicate little flower likely to faint at the notion of hard work or a child liable to shriek at the sight of blood, and they should trust that she’s aware enough of her limits not to push (too far) past them!
11.) Death: The death of her first handmaiden hits her like a proverbial ton of bricks, but by the seventh death she’s begun to go numb, and she fears, in a distant sort of detached way, the breakdown that will inevitably come, when she’s had the safety and room and time to adequately process everything that’s happened enough for all of those deaths to really hit her.
12.) Blood: She doesn’t even realize she’s been hurt (again) in the blast until Jinna’s hand comes away from her back smeared with blood, and, as things begin to go dim and out of focus (all the colors and light in the room bleeding together and fading in a sickening swirl towards darkness), it occurs to her that adrenaline really can be a double-edged blade, considering how much of the body’s reality it can obscure.
13.) Grave: Tradition dictates that the deceased be burned and their ashes scattered in Solleu River, but they’ve had to content themselves with making a certain abandoned underground warehouse into a mass grave of sorts, bodies of those slain in battle or attempted escape (or just for the hell of it, by the bullies recruited by the Trade Federation to “keep the peace”) preserved in stasis fields so that they can later be accorded the proper treatment and ritual that their heroic deeds more than merit.
14.) Life: She and Dané (a handmaiden with shockingly vibrant red hair from the second class of handmaidens recruited for Amidala) take turns making motivational speeches, reminding the people that life is not life without freedom and safety from persecution and that their Queen is doubtlessly on her way back with the help they’ll need to secure the liberation of their world, and there are times when she wonders why she is Princess and not Dané, for Dané’s passion and eloquence is such that she can raise even Ellie’s flagging spirits and give her hope when fear and doubt begin to try to set in.
15.) Breath: The third time she’s hit, she knows as soon as it happens, because the shock of the pain from her perforated stomach literally knocks the breath out of her.
16.) Mind: Her mind keeps wandering, so much so that she can’t keep her focus on Jinna and what she keeps so urgently telling her, and it’s right about the time that Jinna begins to cry that it occurs to her that she’s probably hurt a lot more badly and in more danger than she was the other two times.
17.) Think: She thinks that it’s entirely possible that she might be dying, and all she can do is lay there, with her mind wandering everywhere, and be impotently angry that she wasn’t fast enough to get out of the line of fire in time to avoid getting hit.
18.) Share: She used to talk about everything that went on her life with her parents and four older sisters, but she knows, if she survives this, that this – the agony in her side that would have her screaming if only she could catch her breath; the reality of the danger; the nearness to which she is increasingly certain she’s coming to death – is something she will never share with anyone in her family.
19.) Toy: She had this toy, once (a stuffed bantha, named Little Miss Fluffy, of all the ridiculous things), when she was a child, that she would take with her literally everywhere and which she could not sleep well without having a hold of to cuddle close to her chest, and she has a strange longing for that plush toy, as they rush about trying to help her without hurting her any worse than she already is, so she can hopefully make it until they get back to the safe house.
20.) Guard: Her guard and (pitifully few) remaining handmaidens close ranks around her so absolutely that, even when she does start to feel better, she’s fairly certain that they aren’t going to let anyone short of the Queen herself in to see her.
21.) Moonlight: There’s not enough moonlight to be able to really see where she’s going, but she’s going absolutely out of her mind, cooped up like she has been in the safe house, and if she doesn’t get out and at least get some fresh air, she’s afraid that she’s going to start screaming and not be able to stop.
22.) Sunshine: The sunshine feels like a benediction, when they finally let her out of the safe house, and she’s entirely happy just to sit in the warm blanketing beam of light and relax until she beings to drift off to sleep.
23.) Wish: Her fondest wish used to be that she could help to bring the peace and prosperity of Naboo to other worlds in the Republic, but now she just wishes that Naboo can once again know peace and prosperity.
24.) Undecided: She’s not sure this plan of the Queen’s will succeed; yet, hesitant or not, undecided or not about the likelihood of any positive outcome to attempt something so reckless, she’s going to publicly support her Queen until the bitter end, for this plan is a source of hope that’s desperately needed by the people.
25.) Heaven: It occurs to her, rather vindictively, to hope that, if there’s a heaven or any kind of afterlife at all, that Neimoidians won’t be allowed in, but then she feels badly for wishing that on an entire species when surely not all of them are involved with the Trade Federation and adjusts her thinking to specifically target the Trade Federation and its smarmy Viceroy.
26.) Dispose: She wants to dispose of everything that will ever possibly remind her of the Trade Federation’s occupation, but some things can never really be gotten rid of, not even if the physical scars are all erased.
27.) Illusive: It’s an illusive sensation, the triumph of victory, for almost as soon as they’ve won the planet back, they’ve been robbed of their rightful due, as the lawyers and career politicians and other vultures immediately swoop in, snatch up, and spirit off the criminals responsible for all the pain and misery they’ve suffered, with nary so much as even a single cred left behind in reparations to go towards trying to repair the damage that’s been inflicted on Naboo.
28.) Inside: She finds herself crying and raging a lot, when she’s alone inside her rooms or locked in her ’fresher with the water option on and the sonics off, and it worries her, how emotional she’s become, because she knows that the grief for the people she personally lost during the invasion and occupation still hasn’t quite sunk in yet.
29.) Home: She’s not sure where home is anymore, not when there isn’t really anywhere on the planet that feels truly safe anymore and her private quarters and offices have all been ransacked, robbed, or outright destroyed during the occupancy, but she doesn’t feel even a little bit safe in the Palace, so she flees from her guest quarters back to the patched-up remnants of her former places of residence and work the instant the Queen gives her the option of doing so.
30.) Sleep: Some days she longs just to stay in bed and sleep and sleep and sleep and sleep and sleep for days or weeks on end, but she knows it’s just the residual effects of the blockade and occupation talking, and so she deliberately limits her sleep to no more than five or six hours a day and avoids her bedroom as much as possible when not sleeping in it.
31.) Phone: She’s not allowed to go anywhere alone without at least three different comm units in easy reach of her hands, not even the ’fresher, because her guards and her handmaidens are so paranoid about her falling somewhere and not being able to get back up or call for help, but she’s not an invalid, for pity’s sake, and she’s tired of being coddled like a sickly baby!
32.) Discover: It doesn’t surprise her to discover that the Queen is in love with that young Jedi (who wouldn’t fall for such a handsome, polite, strong, heroic young man?), but it does surprise her, a little, to find out just how close the young Knight and new Master to the even younger hero of Naboo, Anakin Skywalker, seems to be to Padmé Amidala.
33.) Investigate: The Senate and the Judicials keep promising that there will be a full investigation into the various wrongs, war crimes, and crimes against sentiency that’ve been committed against the sovereign state of Naboo, the residents of Naboo, and various individuals involved in or related to those working in the government, but nothing ever seems to happen, despite all the impassioned talk and fine-sounding promises, even those of the newly elected (Nabooian!) Supreme Chancellor.
34.) Confide: She knows she doesn’t confide in her handmaidens nearly as much as Amidala does in hers, but her handmaidens seem to have a higher mortality rate than the Queen’s, and frankly she’s found it hard to trust them, sine they’re basically all new and they all conspire together to find ways to keep her from her work and sworn duty “for the sake of her health.”
35.) Follow: She’s aware of the fact that most of the population of Naboo would gleefully traipse after their young Queen into the mouth of hell itself, if she asked them to follow her there, but it doesn’t truly bother her that Amidala – who was off of the planet for most of the occupation and its senseless brutality – is more lauded than those of them who stayed and fought, for it means (in her mind, at least) that Amidala is the one the Trade Federation and their hirelings will target, for losing them Naboo, and fewer people targeting her and hers always seems a good thing, to her.
36.) Threat: After enough evidence is finally carefully gathered up to make it impossible for the Trade Federation to get out of at least having to pay some kind of monetary restitution for the harm its blockade, invasion, and occupation inflicted on both the world and its peoples, the threat of retribution from the Trade Federation becomes so high that they doubled her guard again and trebled the Queen’s; yet, for all these protective measures, there seems to be no way to consistently keep all of the crazies and the assassins away, and she and Amidala both start to loose guards and handmaidens at an increasingly rapid rate, to the point where she finally allows her handmaidens to hound her into retiring from her position as Princess of Theed for the sake of her health (though she does it less for her supposedly fragile and over-stressed nerves than she does it out of an attempt to preserve the life of at least one of her original handmaidens, if at all possible, and she insists on acting as one of the new Princess of Theed’s advisor, to try to help her avoid becoming another irresistible target for the Trade Federations’s lackeys).
37.) Survive: Her body has survived the attack on their reelected Queen (and why Ellie so foolishly threw herself between the bounty hunter and his rightful prey, she’s quite sure she doesn’t know), but her health hasn’t, and there are days when she wonders if it might not have been better to’ve received a quick clean death in battle instead of this slow, painful dissolution and increasing weakness and invalidism.
38.) Together: She was in the emergency Healers’ ward together with Amidala’s older sister after the attack, watching and listening as Sola Naberrie lost her child, and a part of her knew, then, that this woman was going to be problematic, but no one else seemed to worry about her at all, and she was the Queen’s sister, after all, and so Ellie held her peace and about her suspicions and, later on, tried to watch her, to make sure that at least one person kept an eye on Sola.
39.) Remember: Some days she has a hard time calling just what it was that drove her into politics, but then she remembers the terrified looks on the faces of her staff when the Trade Federation invaded with their droid armies, and she knows all over again that it’s just something she has to do.
40.) Mistake: It was a mistake to try to walk unaided so soon, but Goddess bless, she’s so damn tired of being stuck in bed or in a chair, and the Healers keep insisting she should eventually be able to walk again, and she wanted to try it alone, first, to keep from humiliating herself before anyone, which means now she’s going to get to suffer the indignity of having to be picked up out of the floor by either her handmaidens or her guard or a combination of both.
41.) Try: The Healers keep telling her to work harder and to try harder and not to give up, and some days she just wants to snarl at them and demand to know just what the frack it is that they think she’s doing, when she keeps on attempting to walk by herself and pushing herself to go further and further along the railing, if not trying and not working hard, but the look of hope in her newest primary handmaiden’s eyes ever time she succeeds at something else makes her grit her teeth and bite her tongue and force herself to smile and keep on pushing herself harder.
42.) Fall: She’s just so gorram tired of banging herself up, falling, that she finally tells them to either get her some mats or move her to a completely padded set of rooms for the rest of her rehabilitation, and, though the Healers seem shocked by the notion, her primary handmaiden (a surprisingly lovely and even more surprisingly fierce and loyal young woman by the name of Surana Barakis, who’d been one of the few handmaidens of the unfortunately short-lived Princess Chanté Cielle to survive her Princess’ death) sees to it that they bring the mats and line essentially all of the floors.
43.) Redo: If she could redo things, the only thing she’d change would be her reflexes – she’d make sure she knew to react fast enough from being hit by anything or anyone at all!
44.) Experiment: They tell her so many times that combining bota and bacta is still in the experimental stages that she dryly starts to refer to herself as the mad scientists’ new experiment.
45.) Hollow: There’s a constant hollow feeling in the center of her chest, where her heart used to be, right up until the day when they finally tell her she can start to work again (if only on a very limited advisory basis), and her heart instantly spring back into (painful) life.
46.) Missing: In the years that follow, she comes to feel as if she’s missing entire chunks out of her life, due to all her injuries, and, by the time the Clone Wars break out, she knows, with absolute certainty, that, even if the war ends quickly and the Separatists end up making adequate reparations to all of the worlds and peoples they’ve harmed, by inciting such a civil war, she’s never going to be able to completely forgive them (especially the Trade Federation) for the many wrongs they’ve perpetrated.
47.) Broken: She refuses to behave as if she were a broken doll, and her insistence on doing as much as she is possibly physically able to do for herself by herself drives her poor handmaidens to distraction, but she’s far too set in her ways to try to change her habits, even for her First.
48.) Sympathy: She seems to receive sympathy for her various injuries everywhere she goes, and, when she suggests to the Queen that perhaps a contingent of the walking wounded should go to Coruscant and testify against the Trade Federation and their ilk, to secure the sympathy of the Senate for Naboo for whenever it comes time for reparations to be made, she’s probably only less than half kidding.
49.) Collide: She’ll never forget how she found out: she was heading up to the offices kept in the Palace for the Princess of Theed for the days of open judgment (when the royal court and the judiciaries of Theed were all available to hear complaints and petitions from the residents of Theed and anyone else who made it in to Theed on such a day from elsewhere on the planet) when she and a tear-blinded Princess of Theed by the name of Quianna Alcmene collided and, for once, though the collision was hard, no one fell, though the world surely fell out from under her feet only moments later, anyway, when the young girl exclaimed, “Goddess save us, Ellie, but Senator Amidala has been confirmed killed in the Battle of Coruscant!”
50.) Surprise: It doesn’t really surprise her that Sola Naberrie was a traitor working with the Sith Lord Sidious or that the two Jedi are a true couple now, but it does surprise her that everyone seems to think that suffering High Justice will be punishment enough for the Separatists, after all the havoc and destruction they’ve wrought, and so she starts looking into the possibility of presenting that testimony before the Senate she’d sort of half jokingly suggested to the previous Queen after all . . . just in case there’s something else that she can do to help make sure that true justice is served.