TITLE: “Gwené Maranno, Sixth Handmaiden in the First Class for Padmé Amidala” PAIRING: Not really applicable. Gwené never really sees the need for a partner while she has her cousin’s fri...
01.) Champagne: She’s barely thirteen – far too young for this kind of work, according to her mother; easily old enough to start making a different with her life, according to her mother; old enough to want what she wants and know it but young enough to still be a little frightened of getting it and to be more than a little relieved at the prospect of being able to go after it with her slightly older (though not much more than a year, really) first cousin keeping her company (or at least along for the ride once the second class of potential handmaidens has been properly trained, too) – and the champagne goes straight to her head, but she drinks it anyway, because she’s one of the three youngest girls to be accepted among the first class of handmaiden hopefuls for the new young Queen of Naboo, Amidala, and she considers it the first of many such victories, as she embarks on her career in politics.
02.) Ordinary: It isn’t greed or power-lust that makes her fight so hard to learn everything she can and be the best of all the handmaiden potentials but rather a desperate need to excel enough to make her mark among a group of such extraordinary young women that, for the first time in her life, she feels all but ordinary.
03.) Blood: The young Queen is partial to red, for its message of courage and bravery, but all she can see when she looks at all that scarlet and crimson and ruby is the willingly shed blood that it represents, and she starts to wonder if she’s really cut out for this line of work after all.
04.) Private: The private beaches of Varykino shine white and pristine and beautiful in the sun, and she wishes, wistfully, that they actually had enough free time to really appreciate and explore them and the other natural beauties of the Lake House Retreat, including the golden sands of the nearby satellite islands that are also a part of the Naberrie land.
05.) Gentle: Some of the instructors are rougher than others in appearance and manner, while others are merely gruff or brisk in manner but meticulously precise and careful of the students in action, and she finds herself caring a great deal for the good opinion of one brusquely matter of fact hand-to-hand combat instructor with a rough aspect but oddly gentle hands, so much so that she pushes herself hard to learn and to excel, even though she personally thinks that this kind of defensive/offensive training is excessive.
06.) Rare: The deafening bang of the old-fashioned projectile weapon makes her dive for the floor, taking down the stand-in for the Queen with her, and is rewarded with a rare sliver of a smile from their rare weapons instructor for reacting a millisecond quicker than the other two girls also being tested for the swiftness of their reflexes.
07.) Brilliant: Despite her own exceptional skills and intelligence (or perhaps because of it), she normally wouldn’t think that a girl only a few scant years older than she would have much of anything useful to impart to a group of people like her, but Sabé Dahn – the young Queen’s decoy and longtime best friend – is one of the most brilliant and demanding and devoted and gifted teachers she’s ever had in her life, both on and off of the ground of the training salle, and she finds herself desperately hoping to one day be half so clever and quick and graceful and wise and full of fire as Lady Sabé.
08.) Girl: She’s a well-born thirteen-year-old girl from a well-to-do household, not a trained athlete, and, as she takes stock of herself in the mirror one night, back at the Palace, she’s frankly shocked at the amount of physical progress she’s made, in just over a month of solid training.
09.) Dance: Dancing is something she’s always regarded as a private pleasure, and so it’s rather strange, at first, to have the workings of the royal court and their jobs within the confines of the court be described as a deadly serious dance; yet, after giving the matter some thought, she has to admit that the metaphor fits, and so she finds herself with a whole new hunger and appreciation and talent for dancing.
10.) Alarm: When the lights flicker and the temperature and climate control regulators abruptly go out, she knows that something is wrong and runs for the panic button that sounds the alarm in the wing of the Palace set aside for handmaidens’ quarters, thoroughly prepared to take any reprimand that might be handed out if this proves to be a false alarm but too filled with urgency and convinced that this is the real thing to hesitate at all over slamming the button down that will alert the others to a clear and present danger to the Queen.
11.) Help: With the help of her cousin (who was in the handmaiden training class after her and did well enough during that period of testing and instruction to be accepted as a member of the second school of handmaidens), she’s able to gather up most of her training class and over half of the class below hers and the group of potential hopefuls who’ve had the ill-luck to be brought to the Palace for evaluation on the same day as what appears to be a genuine crisis, and they make excellent time from their wing to the Palace throne room, so she’s understandably a bit disappointed when Sabé and the Queen are both already gone – off performing their switch – and it is Eirtaé who coolly tells her, “It is good that you came, but we are hopelessly outnumbered and cannot hope to fight our way out, and so you will all have to go back the way you came and scatter and go to ground: the Queen has commanded those of her handmaidens and handmaids who are not coming with her to go underground and organize a resistance if possible, while she attempts to make her way to Coruscant, to plead our case before the Senate, and I’m afraid that she’s already decided that she is not going to attempt to take any others aside from her principal handmaidens with her.”
12.) Young: If anyone had asked her even a week before the Trade Federation and their droid armies came swooping down upon their planet, she would have said that she’s too young – and therefore too little and too weak, really – to make an effective freedom fighter; yet, somehow, between the almost frightening military genius of the young handmaiden hopeful Dormé Tammesin, the willpower and fire and charismatic leadership skills of her fellow handmaidens Dané and Shelanné, and the rallying point provided by the incredibly young and extremely righteously furious Princess Ellie of Theed, who possesses awe-inspiring oratorical skills, she nevertheless manages to find the strength and courage and leadership ability to handle a cell of over one hundred fighters and spies and allied supporters of the cause of freedom and liberty from the Trade Federation’s unlawful yoke.
13.) Trap: She knows, somehow, that the supply depot is a trap from the moment they get there, and she’s calling for a full retreat almost instantly, too focused on getting her people safely out of there to even notice when the trap springs and battle droids and traitors armed with blasters start flooding out of the supposedly forgotten and unguarded warehouse.
14.) Luxury: The pain from the blaster shot is incredible, but she grits her teeth together hard over a shriek of agony and holds her ground and guards the line of retreat until everyone but her cousin (the damn fool idiot, who refuses to follow orders and get to safety until she comes away, too!) is clear, and then she bites back hard on the scream that still wants to rise and grabs Nanné and hauls her bodily back away from the fight with her, dragging herself and her cousin to safety and only permitting herself the luxury of unconsciousness after they’ve gotten cleanly away to the nearest safe house in the region.
15.) Challenge: She listens, stoically, as her former favorite teacher and trainer quietly tells her, “The wounds you took in battle have damaged your heart, Gwené, to the point where the med-droids and Healers all insist that any prolonged periods of stress will inevitably cause a fatal attack, and that the weakening and partial loss of the lining around the heart should claim your life within the next two to four years, anyway, even without excessive outside stressors. Padmé – who does not fully comprehend what it means, to be a handmaiden, as she is Queen – wishes for you to retire, so you can live out the end of your time in peace, but I will not belittle your loyalty by asking you to consider such a thing. We need trainers and teachers for the new classes of handmaidens who will be sought out and chosen to replace the losses we took during the Trade Federation crisis, and I want you to consider shifting from active handmaiden duty to active instructor duty. Whether you accept this request or not, please know that I am proud of you, Gwené, and consider myself fortunate to have served with you, as a handmaiden,” and doesn’t hesitate a heartbeat before joyously accepting the challenge being posed to her by Sabé, utterly determined to make the most of her life in what little time she has left (though it is not so little as the med-droids and Healers claim, as it will eventually turn out: she will die not in two to four years, but rather seven years, two months, three weeks, and one day later, claimed by the vindictiveness of a traitor she and her cousin will have exposed in the course of training, and it will take a grenade that will take them both out to actually overcome her).