Categories > Movies > Star Wars > Coruscant Shadows

The Handmaidens Discuss

by Izzy 0 reviews

Verse reveals to her fellow handmaidens a threat to their mistress, Senator Okiltine.

Category: Star Wars - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Angst, Drama - Characters: Amidala, Other - Warnings: [!] [?] - Published: 2006-08-05 - Updated: 2006-08-05 - 1562 words

The retinue of Senator Dorme Okiltine was silent for the entire time they were in public following her address to the Senate, but her handmaidens were very good at communicating to each other with glances and eye movements, underneath the notice of anyone, even their mistress. The Senator was clearly preoccupied anyway.

"They can't remove me," she muttered as she stalked into her apartment, "Palpatine won't let them do that to Naboo, or what's left of it. We've even elected a new Queen! I'd like to see a 'dead' society do that! Are we really dead?" She turned on the handmaidens and asked this question. There was a clear edge of desperation in her voice.

Three vehement denials erupted from the lips of the handmaidens, perhaps too hastily. "Right, right. Please, I need to be alone for awhile."

"That no bein' safe," protested Captain Tarpals, the Senator's Gungun head of security.

"Let her be," Corde told him firmly. "We're going." All three walked quickly out of the apartment before he could protest further. They had Senator Okiltine's safety in mind too, but were all of the opinion that ensuring it required them to talk together in private.

"My apartment," said Corde, and the other two followed her. As soon as they were in and she had locked the door, Corde turned to Verse and demanded, "What did you see?"

"Did I say anything?" Verse asked nervously.

"Why are you so nervous?" Padme asked her gently.

"We know you saw something," Corde pressed. "You made that clear."

"What I saw," Verse shook her head. "It's not what I saw. It's what I heard."

"Okay, then, what did you hear?"

But Verse only shook her head again, and pressed her lips together tightly. Corde grabbed her and shook her, ignoring Padme's protest.

"My father!" Verse blurted out, and Corde let her go, but still did not relent: "What about him?"

Verse was clearly clamming up again, so Padme said, "Isn't he the one who insisted you be taken as a handmaiden? There was some debate about that, wasn't there?"

"You two coming from common can have no idea...ever since Palpatine's parents were murdered the Costils and Excenils have each become convinced the other was responsible."

"Swamp take it!" Corde protested. "They were killed by the Trade Federation; everyone knows that!"

"Actually," Padme reminded her, "nobody knows anything. They could have been, yes, but there's still no concrete evidence."

"Is there ever?" laughed Corde. "Besides, now is not the time for family rivalries. We don't even have a planet anymore! We need to be united, not divided!"

"Yeah, that's what my father said," sighed Verse, "to pressure the Costils into approving my placement, not that he meant it. He was furious when a member of the Costil family took Naboo's Senate seat. He's effectively the head of the family now; just about everyone else is dead or scattered to the rims."

"What's he planning to do?" asked Padme, feeling terror creep into her.

"I don't know. All I heard was him say to my uncle, 'And of course we will get Verse to play her part. Though I fear she has taken too much to Okiltine emotionally.' As if I could ever be persuaded to betray a Senator I swore an oath to!" She said the last with so much vehemence that there was no doubting her.

"Well then," Padme pointed out. "If your father requires your cooperation, stopping him should be easy."

"No, he's more cunning then that. I think he's got some sort of plan that takes advantage merely my merely being near Senator Okiltine. We might not know what he plans to do until it's too late."

"All right," said Corde. "Then we need to tell the Senator. Now."

She had turned back to the door when Verse grabbed her arm. "No! We can't!"

"Why?" asked the other two together.

"Because what do you think Dorme Okiltine will do?"

They considered. "She'll probably have your father arrested," said Corde. "Verse, I know it's difficult, but your oath to the Senator overrides all other loyalties."

"It's not that," Verse protested. "It's that if she tries, the results will be disaster!"

"She's right," said Padme. "Every Excenil will be up in arms, and they'll have the Catalins and Talstrines right with them; her father's tied to both."

"Will they really cross Palpatine?" Corde argued.

"Don't be fooled by his having his cousin in the Senate," Verse told her. "He's low on allies. Maybe if the Queen and the Sensaris sided with him...but I don't think they would. Our mistress might not talk about it, but my relatives do. There's a general feeling that he's turned his back on Naboo, that he used the invasion to get into power and now he's letting the noble families destroy each other while the common people live lives of misery."

"He's not!" cried Padme immediately.

"Letting the noble families destroy each other?" Corde repeated scornfully. "Can't they take responsibility for their own actions?"

"I'm not saying they're right! But too many people believe them. I'm afraid the Senator's in far more dangerous territory than we realized."

"Can't we just explain all this to her?" Padme suggested. "Being from her family means she has to have some idea about all this already; surely she'll understand."

"We could hope," replied Verse, "but in all honesty, as a member of the Excenil family, I can't say that if I was in her position, I would be able to act completely logically."

"And yet you claim your own loyalty against your family?" asked Corde, suspicious.

"An oath is an oath is an oath. It's the saving grace of our class, I think. We need for it to be if we're to stop ourselves from completely murdering each other."

She knew it wasn't meant, but Padme couldn't help but feel the jab, and Corde got openly angry. "Oh, so Padme and me can't keep oaths as well as you?"

"I didn't say that at all!" Verse sounded a little angry too now. "Look, when I swore that oath, it's like I changed families. I'm effectively a Costil now. Like I said, my dad really can't expect me to deliberately betray my mistress. That's why I'm so sure he intends something else."

"Never mind all of that," Padme cut in, "we believe you. Well, I believe her!" She shot the second statement at Corde, who looked like she wanted to protest. "The way I see it," she continued, "this choice isn't ours to make ours anyway. We have the duty to tell our mistress this and /trust her/."

"No, I don't think so," said Corde. "Our primary duty is and always has been her safety. You remember how Captain Panaka emphasized that we're to do this by any means necessary."

"But is it really necessary to keep this from her? Verse?"

"She made it sound like it is."

"Well," Verse started, "I may have panicked a bit; necessary is a strong word. If either way ensured her safety..."

"Is life ever that easy?" Corde rejoined.

Then something else occurred to Padme. "Should we at least talk with Roos about this?"

"Captain Tarpals? The Gungun?" Corde was clearly dismissive, and Verse looked like she had the same opinion.

"Don't be like that," Padme pleaded with them. "He's been good and loyal since he got to Coruscant."

"What choice does he have? He hopes to take advantage of our kindness and free his people on our sweat!"

"Are you really so ungenerous, Corde? We all have the same goal; we should be in this together. Do you trust noone? Do you trust her?" She pointed to Verse.

"Do you?" Verse asked softly. "I want to know, Corde. Do you?"

Corde was floored and silent. Strange how something almost whispered could be so much more effective than something yelled. Padme had observed her soft-spoken mistress benefit by this countless times. Perhaps watching her had taught Verse how to do it all the better. In another universe, she might have entered Senator Okiltine's service as a possibility for the heir to her seat; they all knew that.

"I'm sorry," she said at last. "I'm not thinking straight either. I do trust you, Verse. Please believe me, please."

"We need to be able to get Roos' opinion," Padme said firmly. "He's responsible for the Senator's safety, just like us. He has that right, and he's not an idiot, he really isn't."

"Agreed," said Verse, though she didn't sound entirely pleased, and Corde reluctantly nodded.

A quick comm to the captain revealed him to be unavailable, and Corde said, 'Hardly surprising. I guess it is a little late. We'll talk to him in the morning."

Verse lived with her parents, and Padme with her sister Sola, and Sola's family, in an apartment downstairs barely big enough for all of them, for which Senator Okiltine contributed part of the rent. But she didn't head directly there that night. Instead she wandered down to the end of the corridor, where out the window, the thickest part of the local traffic was visible. There she cried, afraid that no matter what she did, there was nothing for the rest of her life but to remain exiled on Coruscant, where she would never again get away from all the metal.
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