Summary: This is twenty-five random but essentially chronological moments from the life of Dané Cashillé, who is, quite literally, the sixth handmaiden in the second training class of potential h...
01.) Famous: Her mother and her aunt, Anicé and Roanna Cashillé, are famous (though perhaps infamous might also be a good description) on Naboo and all throughout the Mid Rim – oddly similar fraternal twins, identical in size and shape and features, but for the color of their eyes and the degree of curl (or lack thereof) and color of their hair, daughters of a line that has produced monarchs of Naboo and Princesses and Governors of Theed off and on for the past two thousand years, highly intelligent and kind sisters extremely interested in the welfare of both the Nabooian people and that of the myriad various sentient species of the Galactic Republic, but so incredibly beautiful that they were sought out by many different kinds of artists to act as models and muses from such a young age that they became known first for their beauty and ability to inspire others rather than for their extensive efforts to help improve the lot not only of everyday Nabooians but also that of beings caught up in disasters and conflicts all over the known galaxy – and her elder sister, Silviana, has already helped seal a pact for a much closer relationship between Naboo and Grizmallt by marrying their young King Gryna Ullætto Nejanis, so it’s not so very surprising that she should want to be involved in politics, though her mother tries her damnedest to keep her out of it, given how ugly and cutthroat the political realm has been since Veruna’s second term as King began, only to run far past the date when law dictated that it should have ended.
02.) Misfortune: The Princess of Theed is generally elected between the ages of nine and twelve, the Queen (or King) or Naboo between the ages of about fourteen and eighteen (at least for the first term), though there have of course been some exceptions (notably in the case of the last Queen and King who married or were wed while in office, Queen Madeva and King Vísudeva, or Lataré Madeva Najaffa, née Nabishu, and Aldron Najaffa, who were elected at twelve and a half and at twenty-three for their first terms and who essentially ruled together for two and half of their four combined four-year terms): she just has the misfortune of having lost out to Padmé Naberrie for the position of Princess of Theed and to be too untried to put herself forward as a replacement for Veruna (and unfortunately not the young girl already being groomed by Padmé to replace her as Princess of Theed and therefore not in line to replace Padmé if she becomes Queen), even though she is of the proper age and knows that she would be an excellent Queen, having essentially been in (unofficial) training for it almost all of her life.
03.) Joke: Yané is exactly two years and one month younger than she is: their mothers often used to laugh about how the younger of them has made up for her early tardiness by having her first two children earlier than her sister’s first two children (approximately four and a half years and two years earlier, respectively), but the joke soured somewhat for Dané after her young cousin chose to attach herself to Padmé Naberrie’s campaign to remove Veruna from the throne and so was invited (and accepted the offer) to become one of Padmé’s first handmaidens, after her election to the Nabooian throne, whereas Dané had to settle for applying to join the new Queen’s second handmaiden training class like a common petitioner begging for notice.
04.) Dishonor: There’s no dishonor in being a handmaiden rather than a monarch (even if, she supposes, one is being a handmaiden to a Princess of Theed rather than a monarch of Naboo, as Padmé has evidently persuaded her young replacement to agree in investing in, even though the Princess of Theed is traditionally not one of the two positions generally granted handmaidens or chosen companions) – in fact, historically speaking, it is often the bravest and most loyal handmaidens or chosen companions who most often tend to be immortalized in folklore and remembered in popular stories and art – but it nonetheless burns her, at least a little, to have to settle for handmaiden when she’s always expected to be Queen, and so she plans on being the absolute best at what she does and to make herself over into a decoy (despite her red hair and green eyes) and become so good at being Queen Amidala that she will make Padmé ashamed of the fact that she is the one receiving all of the acknowledgment and credit for being such a good monarch when Dané is the one actually doing the dangerous work and effectively out-Queening the Queen in the process.
05.) Proud: Every time Yané sees her, she frowns and mutters darkly about how Dané is too proud and takes far too much for granted and needs to seriously consider the fact that the right person may have very well actually been elected Queen after all; yet, it’s not until she goes in for a personal audience with Amidala and finally gets a chance to truly meet her (outside of a venue of public debate) and is quite literally rocked back onto her heels from the sheer unadulterated power of the Naberrie girl’s charismatic presence and obvious intelligence and caring that Dané truly understands what it is that Yané has been trying to tell her: so far as she knows, she is the first of many to refer to Padmé Amidala as a living flame of a woman, and, though this epithet might, on the surface, seem more applicable to Dané, with her flaming red hair, since her meeting with the young Queen, she would be the first to insist that this saying more fully and truly embodies Padmé than it could ever really fit her.
06.) Shame: Dané’s shame burns her so deeply that, after leaving the Queen’s presence, she immediately vows to herself to amend her foolish, self-centered ways, and to become the very best handmaiden she possibly can – not out of any selfishly self-aggrandizing attempt to one-up Padmé, but instead to give the Queen the kind of due and service that she so manifestly deserves.
07.) Different: It’s different, to have been raised in a position of power, expected to rule one day or to at least take charge of one of the larger cities or provinces, and to have come to the Queen’s service due to either lack of better alternatives or else due to a mere interest in politics (with no real weight of familial expectation to govern), and so she has much more in common with Eirtaé and Yané, but she tries hard to avoid seeming to closet herself with her cousin and former acquaintances, having no wish to have to deal with perceptions or even charges of snobbery.
08.) Duty: She wonders sometimes about the generally consistently quite high levels of Force-sensitivity among her people and whether or not they might perhaps be neglecting their duty to the rest of the galaxy by refusing to send many of their children to the Jedi for training as Knights and Masters, but the values of the Jedi Order are just too inherently wrong-headed for Nabooians to feel comfortable at the prospect of abandoning their children, thus, and so she usually ends up shrugging the whole thing off an unavoidable failure of compatibility, rather than as a lack of responsible behavior on the part of Nabooians.
09.) Program: In the days when a Queen’s handmaidens and a King’s chosen companions were essentially religious acolytes devoted to a monarch who was quite literally regarded as an elected living avatar of the Great Lady, a strict training program was utilized, with training beginning as early as possible (even in infancy, in some cases) – with the earliest training stimulating sensory awareness through sound, color, texture, odor and taste, kinesics awareness through spinning, rocking, warmth, cold, and emotional awareness through fear, joy, anger, love, hate, and security; rigorous year-round programs throughout childhood that were deliberately designed to broaden both cognition and physical ability while resisting all forms of specialization, so that mental and physical development could be pushed to the limits in all possible fields of study; a strict and unforgiving disciplinary code to promote the goal that every potential acolyte be both completely self-directed and yet utterly able to obey orders given by higher authority no later than the age of thirteen, including construction and maintenance of living quarters and training facilities, sports that developed strategy as well as both leadership and obedience in addition to physical skill and dexterity (with some, like long-distance running, aiding the disciplinary code and the five-day-a-week curriculum in either producing a fully ready candidate for the novitiate or in washing one out of the program), and both the evening silence and the weekly fast, as tasks performed by the younger candidates and enforced by the elder, who punished breaches with a severity they had learned in their turn from their predecessors; and, in the final preparatory year, at about fourteen, students, having been thoroughly grounded in such subjects as propositional and predicate logic, inference, modal deduction, transfinite induction, statistics, multivalent analysis, conceptual synthesis, /n/-dimensional geometry, formal linguistics, and transcendental phenomenology meant to provide the mental linkages necessary to accept subsequent training as acolytes (should the individual student succeed in mastering them and so prove worthy of pledging service to a sworn lord or lady), were tested in their ability to retain both related and unrelated information, with final tests involving such feats as absorbing a series of ten thousand items long random strings of combined letter and number sequences and duplicating them perfectly, down to the timing and spacing as the original, the recitation of entire books from memory, the replication of spatial configurations (such as the layout of a city after having seen the place or plans of it only once), the combination, division, sorting, filing, and accurate retrieval of pieces of discrete information with ninety-nine point nine-nine-nine-eight-five percent accuracy per ten thousand items, the absolute recollection and perfect repetition of conversations word for word and gesture for gesture from start to finish, mimicking the cadence and vocal inflection and stance and shifting of weight and movements of each participant (up to and including ten different both human or nonhuman participants), and, finally, the successful extrapolation from given information to alternative explanations of the causes or the effects of that data, with at least a two-place ranking for the likelihood of the interpretations offered and the primary hypothesis never failing to be less than ninety-two to ninety-eight percent reliable as to the actual cause or outcome of any given set of events; and then and only then, having successfully proven that they’d freed their reasoning from dependence on absolutes and that they possessed broad and accurate knowledge of at least ninety-five percent of everything occurring within the scope of their world and the ability to predict and extrapolate both the causal reasons behind and effects of said occurrences and were able to correct for the assumptions hidden in another’s inferences (being able to accurately see every sentient being as a set of behavior patterns ready to be orchestrated), were students finally pronounced ready to serve their sworn lord or lady in the conception and proposal of detailed alternate future pathways, courses of actions, and explanations of events, aiding in the planning and husbanding of economic, political, and military strategy by offering up various different courses of action and accurately inferring the most probable of all of the many dozens of possible consequences of pursuing, altering, combining, or disengaging any of these specific, myriad courses, helping to plan for the long run, negotiate delicate diplomatic matters, judge matters of life and death, and, in essence, serve as advisors and helpmeets to their Queen or King, becoming beloved chosen companions and handmaidens to the elected avatar of the Great Goddess – and, though these methods seem perhaps overly harsh, she can see traces of the same training at play in the raising of sons and daughters of Naboo for political and social service, especially in the backgrounds of people like Amidala and even herself, and it is her considered opinion that a return to the old ways would not be all that difficult and would also indubitably do their troubled and threatened planet a world of near-infinite good.
10.) Unreasonable: The Trade Federation is being entirely unreasonable in its demands and not only can she not, for the life, of her understand what it is that its leaders think they’re going to accomplish or why or how (the majority of their plasma trade is with the Galactic Republic’s government, after all, and that democratic government won’t be able to justify taking any kind of goods from a planet that’s undergone a violent, hostile, illegal takeover, as the Trade Federation seems to be threatening to do), she also can’t quite escape the nagging feeling that there’s some other party involved that’s orchestrating events towards some dark, mysterious purpose.
11.) Vindictive: Before the Trade Federation’s invasion, she would not have said that she is a vindictive person – scrupulously just, perhaps, and unlikely to ever forget a wrong, though only for her own edification and warning, not to really hold against the other person – but then their planet is seized by force by greedy Neimoidians and some of their own turn traitor rather than have to relinquish power or risk their precious hides in fighting against the usurpers, and people start dying, friends and family both as well as innocent bystanders, and she finds her heart rapidly hardening against beings like the Viceroy and Rosé Ganesa.
12.) Conscience: When she’s calm enough to consider the matter dispassionately, she’s fairly certain that the citizens of Naboo who can be turned against their Queen are those who are either heartless/soulless and utterly lacking in conscience (and so are not at all the kind of people they want on their fair planet, much less their side in any conflict, anyway) or else those who have never met Padmé Amidala and so are being blackmailed or otherwise pressured (perhaps even tortured) into turning traitor (as otherwise she’s quite sure that the Queen’s sheer force of will and heart would forbid their turning); however, unfortunately, not all the serenity in the world can convince her that handmaidens who willingly turn against their Queen are anything other than unforgivable blackguards or that she won’t rejoice to see each and every one of them strung up to strangle to death slowly in a highly public forum, in accordance with the oldest letter of the law, whether others might deem her vindictively vengeful and blood-thirsty for desiring such an end for those treasonous bitches or not!
13.) Girl: There’s a girl Dané had wanted to convince to join the handmaiden program but unfortunately never really got past the point of suggesting it to, once, in passing, before the Trade Federation’s droid armies invaded and everything went to hell, so she’s shocked when, on one of their missions, they find someone there before them, efficiently robbing the Trade Federation of the supplies and creds her team were planning to take, and even more shocked to realize, when that person has turned about and cheerfully demanded to know what’s been taking them so long, that it is none other than the self-same girl – Versé Rhisiart, someone she knows from the social circles her family moves in, though unfortunately her knowledge of Versé is not nearly as great as that of her older sister, Ansia Rhisiart, since Versé is a year younger than Dané is whereas her elder sister isn’t quite a year older than Dané is and, as she recalls, had been quite eager, when they first met, to be able to say that she was an ally and close acquaintance of one of the famous Cashillé children – grinning recklessly at Dané from over her shoulder and asking if she thinks this will qualify her for a position among the Queen’s next group of handmaidens, when she returns from Coruscant, or if she’s still going to need to put together a proper application packet.
14.) Tick: Shelanné Glenn is the most mysterious, infuriating, enchanting, maddening, charming, intoxicating, bewitching, desirable creature she’s ever known, and she would give a great deal to know what makes Shelanné tick and why it is that she can always seem to both motivate Dané immensely and yet keep her from doing anything rash that she might regret at a later date (with a more cool head), and it’s not until Versé Rhisiart – who’s wholeheartedly joined their resistance – laughingly refers to the fact that those we love always have immense powers over us that it even occurs to Dané that she’s in love.
15.) Heart: Dané wouldn’t have ever thought she’d find her own heart’s mate among the other handmaidens – she’s always been inclined to brief flings that are fun and entertaining and good for making friends and allies but otherwise essentially meaningless, and most of her excessive flirting has been with boys (they were so very easy to discombobulate and to wrap around one’s fingers, after all!) – but then, to be honest, she hadn’t ever thought a lot of things would be the way they are now, so she probably shouldn’t be so surprised that the mate of her soul is a fellow handmaiden with doe-eyes and lovely hair like sable-in-sunlight by the name of Shelanné Glenn.
16.) Compare: It’s the silliest thing, really: Shelanné thinks herself wild and wholly undignified (in her natural element), because she enjoys being out of doors and likes to be more active than some prefer, and so declares herself utterly bewildered by any and all attempts to compare her to the Queen’s primary decoy and best friend; yet, Shelanné’s enjoyment of the outdoors isn’t predicated on movement – she can sit silently in a pool of light for hours on end, meditating, and be as content (if not more so) than if she’d been out hiking or swimming or riding – and she possesses such a sense of calm and tranquility that she projects steadiness and serenity upon others (including Dané!), promoting thought and deliberation and calmness in others in much the same way that Lady Sabé does, therefore accounting for the tendency of the other handmaidens to compare her to that formidable young woman, even if Sabé may have seemed less inclined to run about climbing trees or exhausting herself by swimming against the tides, as Shelanné is sometimes known to do.
17.) Sense: Shelanné always seems to have a better sense for who might make good working partners (and perhaps even more, given time and room for feelings of friendship to deepen and ripen) than Dané does: despite the fact that Dané prides herself for her observational skills and is quite good with the management of people as either individuals or as a larger group, she simply has no head for relationships or match-making, so she often finds herself gently (and somewhat bemusedly) teasing her beloved about Shelanné’s tendency to play at matchmaker, finding it amusing that someone so level-headed could also be so good at and derive so much pleasure from helping individuals find their matches.
18.) Death: She won’t kill the girl herself in cold blood (though Lady knows she deserves nothing less than death) and she won’t attempt to justify what would essentially be a vengeful killing for the death of one of her cousins (Rosé having been the one to suggest that it might be possible to break Yané Cashillé if her young brother were captured and brought in and tortured – an act that had resulted in Constanoin’s death), by trying to claim that she has the right, under law, to execute the traitor out of hand, but she can and she will turn the streppoch over to the mob screaming for her blood, and she can and will also absolutely refuse to ever feel guilty about it, later on, given how unpredictable mobs can be (especially when their desires are thwarted) and how many individuals whose safety and well-being she is at least partially responsible for might have been injured by the mob’s wrath, if she were to try to deny its howling masses the traitor, and if the Queen wishes to attempt to try her for a war criminal, for this decision, later on, well, then just let her /try /it!
19.) Good: It’s a damned good thing that they took the Viceroy and those of his minions who actually (unfortunately!) survived the retaking of the Palace and the planet away quickly, once they’d been captured, because otherwise she knows that she would have found out wherever they were being kept and killed every last one of them, for the misery they so selfishly and casually inflicted on both her family and her people.
20.) Damaged: Yané has obviously been . . . damaged, by her time under Lietté and Roché and Rosé and Essé’s “tender” care, and not just physically (if it were just a mater of physical wounds, they could easily heal her with a little bacta and perhaps a bit of surgery and be done with it, after all), and she is so furious about the fact that two of those saidhín khiel-streppain escaped that she makes sure she fills out the paperwork necessary for the government to legally issue a warrant for their arrests and their deaths, should they ever return to Nabooian space or surface on a planet (or elsewhere) with good extradition laws, even though Lietté and Roché are not likely to resurface anywhere they can be caught out and returned to Naboo for trial.
21.) Mob: She tells Amidala quite frankly about how she gave Rosé over to the mob, and, though the Queen seems saddened (not exactly disappointed in her, mind, just . . . grieved, or perhaps aggrieved, that such a thing should have happened, on Naboo, and perhaps also that she cannot summon up enough distance from what Rosé was and did to feel proper horror for what happened to her), she doesn’t seem at all inclined to chastize or pass judgment on Dané, and, so far as she can tell, the only ill effect she suffers is a lack of immediate advancement (if indeed her lack of promotion to the position of primary decoy is due to the Queen’s dissatisfaction with her – and not the fact that Dormé is, quite simply, the better choice – which she honestly doubts), as she remains the Queen’s secondary decoy rather than advancing to the primary position when Sabé departs for the Senate.
22.) Beloved: Shelanné, her beloved, tried to distract her from her fuming preoccupation with the traitors who escaped, pointing out that it will be more productive to seek to undo the wrongs they did than to brood endlessly on the evil of them and how she would like to answer than evil with ill deeds of her own; yet, even though she knows that what her beloved says is only good sense, she finds it hard to focus on anything but what she’d like to do to those bloodless bitches when Yané is alternating between being a sobbing, raving mess and all but catatonic with remembered fear and pain, for Yané has always been both wiser and stronger than Dané, and it frankly kills her to see Yané in such a state.
23.) Pity: She thinks it’s a pity that the young Jedi who slew the Sith and who so obviously captured both the Queen’s and her primary decoy’s hearts during their desperate attempt to reach Coruscant and report on the Trade Federation’s illegal activities regarding Naboo evidently is one of the few living Jedi who’s chosen the path of utter chastity, for she’s fairly sure that, otherwise, he could have been . . . ah, persuaded to stay on Naboo, with Padmé and Sabé, and she is also quite certain that, if he had stayed, they would be in danger of suffering a lot fewer retaliatory attacks from the Trade Federation (and their probable still living second Sith ally, given that Master Yoda has insisted that there are always two Sith), for Obi-Wan Kenobi surely would have seen to things even if he’d had to go chase down and execute both the second, mysterious Sith Lord and the Trade Federation’s Viceroy himself, to eradicate the danger against Amidala.
24.) Trust: She doesn’t trust Palpatine, for to be perfectly frank it seems to her as if he’s done nothing but profit off of the misery of their people, and she does not hesitate to make her opinion on the matter known, or to make it equally clear that she thinks the Queen can do just fine on her own, with her loyal handmaidens to help her, and so doesn’t need to wait about on advice from their former Senator.
25.) Bad Feeling: She has a bad feeling that something awful is going to happen from the moment Amidala first announces she will make her state of the planet address live from the open square before Theed Palace, and she argues vehemently until she’s finally allowed to be the one give the speech, to protect the Queen against any possible threat (even though it technically should be Dormé’s job, if anyone is going to stand in for Padmé as Amidala), so she can’t claim to be very surprised when the crowds erupt with blaster fire and old-fashioned projectiles and first her left shoulder and then her midriff and upper left thigh explode with agony, though she is, wistfully, regretful to be proven right in such a way, especially as Shelanné sacrifices herself in a vain attempt to shield her already dying body . . .