Rabé was beginning to truly appreciate why Anakin Skywalker had hated Tatooine. The rasping howl of the sandstorm outside was relentless, and what could not have been more than a few hours felt like years as she waited restlessly for it to end. It felt far too similar to the last time she’d been here, years before. Really, she should have known better. Everything had been going so smoothly - her arrival in Mos Eisley had gone unremarked, her contact had been waiting in the cantina as expected (just two travellers sharing a drink while waiting for the next leg of their journey) and the datachip carrying key intelligence was safely stored alongside several decoys in one of the pockets sewn in the bodice of her dress. Her informant had left while she waited a little longer for her prearranged lift off planet. Then the sandstorm arrived and with it the inevitable delay in her departure. Now here she was, slumped over a table in what was, thankfully, one of the more reputable watering holes in town, trapped with the memories of another time, and the aching hole of grief threatened to draw her in.
(young, they were so young, and oh so foolish, letting her leave the ship with only a jedi and anonymity as protection, how lucky they were, how very naive, if only they knew then how much it hurts to outlive a dream)
“Miss? Miss? Are you alright?”
Rabé looked up at the childish voice. For a moment she was fourteen again, sitting in the royal yacht listening to the excited chattering of a nine year old boy as he left everything he knew behind for a new life with the Jedi. But the vision cleared, and it was not little Ani in front of her but another blond boy with heartbreakingly blue eyes dressed in Tatooine style. His face was full of concern, eyes wide and mouth pursed in worry, and she felt her heart melt a little.
(would her child have looked like this, blond hair and blue eyes and a heart as big as a mountain? or would they have been all dark curls and sharp tongue matched with unrelenting conviction? would they have their mother’s compassion, their father’s fearlessness? she’d never know.)
She tried to smile reassuringly. “I’m fine. I’m just not used to the noise. We don’t exactly have sandstorms on Naboo.”
The boy looked slightly dubious, but curiosity soon overwhelmed any inclination to prod further.
“You’re from Naboo? Wow! What’s it like there? Do you have have rivers? Biggs was telling me that there’s no such thing, but I said…”
The woman who approached had the mildly exasperated look of someone all too used to attempting to corral an overexcited child away from potential sources of trouble. But her smile was warm, and it was with clear affection that she apologized for her charge.
“I’m sorry, my nephew tends to get a bit carried away. If he’s a bother…”
“Oh no, no. It’s fine! ” Rabé hastily interjected. “Somehow I don’t think I’m going anywhere soon, and I can think of far worse ways to pass the time than indulging a bit of childish curiousity”. And she needed a distraction. “Please, sit down.” she said, gesturing to the seat opposite.
The woman smiled, pulling the brightly coloured bag from her shoulder as she sat, the butt of a blaster rifle protruding from the opening alongside the edges of a rough spun cloak. Her face was marked by years of wind and sand carving out deep lines that added a decade to her features - Rabé realised with a start that they were probably of a similar age. Life on the edge of civilization was harsh, and undoubtedly the desert made it even harsher. Yet both woman and boy seemed uncowed, showing genuine delight in the offer of conversation.
“Thank you. It’s not often he gets to speak with offworlders willing to indulge his questions. I’m Beru Lars, and this one, as I’m sure you can guess, is Luke.”
Rather abashed, said boy shuffled from foot to foot before sliding in next to his aunt. Hiding a grin, the former handmaiden turned her attention back to his guardian.
“Rabé. I was due to liftoff earlier today, but the weather had other plans. Does it always change so quickly? ”
Beru laughed. “Oh it can, but I will admit that this one came in particularly quickly. Just as well my husband commed about a few last minute things, or else we could have been caught in the open.”
( she remembers the shrieking and groaning of metal, the way the ship rocks as winds howl outside, eirtaé huddled against her side as they pray the hull will hold. decades gone and still the memory chills. she understands. )
“You don’t live nearby then I take it?” Rabé asked, her smile a touch brittle.
“No, we have a farm out Anchorhead way. But Luke needed his shots against Rishellian Fever, and there were a few things we needed from the markets here. They don’t exactly deliver round these parts after all.”
It seemed that Luke’s patience was at an end, and he leaned across the table impatiently butting into the conversation. “The shots really hurt, but I didn’t cry. But Aunt Beru said I was really brave!”
“I can imagine!” Rabé laughed, grin widening “Those can be painful! You must be as brave as Amidala!”
(why had she said that? it was a common saying now, the way a planet remembered their lost legend, a way for them to ensure that she was never really gone but why here? why now? when the memories were too close.)
Some of her discomfort must have shown on her face, because Luke began to back off, mouth open to apologise, and no. No. She would want this. She would have wanted her story told. She would have wanted to inspire courage, here at the end of the galaxy where hope goes to die. Rabé can do that much, Rabé can keep her legacy alive.
She took a deep breath and looked Luke straight in the eye.
“She was a Queen of my people. Beautiful and smart and oh so very brave. Do you want me to tell you her story?”
“Yes! Please Miss Rabé!” he eagerly replied with genuine glee. It seemed that even now Padmé had the ability to capture the attention of young boys from Tatooine.
“Of course” She smiled, brushed a stray lock of hair from her forehead, and settled more comfortably into her chair.
“ Now what you must first know is that a Queen of Naboo is chosen, not born. To be elected Queen is to give up your name, to dedicate yourself to the service of others and to embody the very heart of our people. It is believed that the role is best left to the young, and each queen will step down when her term is done to allow another to take her place. So to become queen you must prove that you have the strength and determination to lead when you are still a child; Queen Amidala was only fourteen when she was elected, but she had been preparing to serve since she was your age.”
( so young, not fully ready but willing, oh so willing to do her part- how could they not follow? for amidala, her queen who would not bend, she would have stormed the senate itself. for padmé, her sister who wept at injustice, she would have burnt it to ash. she still may yet.)
Luke was entranced. “Wow! My age? Uncle Owen doesn’t even let me near the speeder alone! But they chose her? And she gave up her name?” There was something about the emphasis placed on that last question that made Rabé suspect she was missing something. But there was a story to tell, and it would not do to be diverted before it truly began, and so she continued on.
“She did - she kept her first name for use with friends and family, but to her people she was Amidala. And Amidala is considered one of our greatest Queens, a true champion of peace. Long ago, when I was a girl, Naboo was threatened by the Trade Federation. They surrounded our planet with ships and threatened to invade with droids unless we surrendered. We were a peaceful people, and we had no army, so the senate sent two… negotiators to try and calm the situation.”
A quick glance told her that Beru had picked up on her minor substitution - openly speaking of the Jedi was dangerous, even here on the outer rim. At her firm nod Rabé let out a silent sigh of relief and went on.
“But the federation tried to kill the negotiators and invaded, taking Queen Amidala captive. They demanded her surrender, but she refused. They threatened her with bloodshed unless she signed their treaty, but she would not. They tried every trick to make her give in, but she persisted.”
“Because she was brave?”
“Because she was brave.”
(brave, courageous, determined, foolhardy, reckless padmé. queen of our hearts, sister of our soul. oh why did you always rush ahead of us? you who would give anything to protect us, why would you not let us do the same? foolish, wonderful, lost padmé.)
“Now the negotiators managed to escape and rescue the Queen” Rabé continued, blinking away the echo of tears.“ And they urged her to leave the planet, to seek help from the senate. But the trip would be dangerous. There was no guarantee that it would work, and Queen Amidala was torn. Then one of her handmaidens spoke up. And what do you think she said?”
Luke’s eyes were wide, eagerly waiting on every word she spoke. “What?” he breathed. Rabé grinned, sharp and fierce.
“She said: "We are brave, your Highness”. And if her people were brave then their Queen must be also. But Amidala was clever too! She and the negotiators boarded a ship to escape, but she left behind a pair of handmaidens, telling them to make it look like she was still there hiding from the Federation. “
(saché and yané had hated it, had hated to leave their queen, but though had been sabé under the finery, padmé had been the one to order it, an eyebrow twitch and side glance, and they were nothing if not faithful. even now.)
"Their escape was not easy, the enemy shot at them and they only narrowly made it into hyperspace. Even then their ship was damaged too badly to make it back to the core. Still Amidala did not despair. They set the ship down on a remote planet and went about finding the parts to repair it. But they had little to bargain with, and Tatooine had little use for republic money.”
“Wait! They came here? The Queen came to Tatooine?!” If the boy’s eyes had been wide before, now they were like the endless expanse of the desert sky. “But how did they find the parts? And wouldn’t the Hutts want to catch the Queen too?”
Rabé’s laughter surprised herself. Young Luke was so earnest, so open in his excitement.
“Yes I imagine they would have. But they were sneaky, and as it happened the Queen managed to befriend a local boy who, with a bit of luck, helped them get what they needed.”
(little ani, grown so big and still with a smile that could light up a solar system. always the hero, always jumping in to save the day. where were you at the end? how did you fall? only death could have separated you from her.)
“With the ship fixed, onward they went, until at last Queen Amidala reached Coruscant - oh, sorry, they call it Imperial Centre now. She dressed herself in her finest clothing, put on her most impressive crown, painted her face with the sacred symbols of her people and went to address the senate. Have you seen a picture of the senate Luke?” He nodded vigorously, but remained quietly attentive. “There are thousands of systems, and thousands of planets, and in front of all those representatives she stood, and she spoke. She spoke of her people’s suffering, of their need for assistance, she told of what she had seen, the treachery of the Trade Federation. ” Her face turned cold. “And they did not hear. They called her a liar, they said she misunderstood, they dithered and debated until she saw that they would continue to do nothing while our people died. So Queen Amidala stood again, and this time instead of calling for aid she called for new leadership.”
(bitter, even now it felt so bitter. how clever he was. he had used them, used their people’s pain, their queen’s voice to grant himself power. they could not have known, but oh how she regrets)
“Did it work? Did they give her help?” Luke asked, a plaintive note in his voice.
She shook her head sadly. “No. They elected a new leader who was sympathetic, but could not convince them to move quickly. Queen Amidala knew then that to save her people she must find help herself! So she gathered her handmaidens, the negotiators who agreed to assist, and her new friend from Tatooine, and travelled back to Naboo.”
The boy’s look of puzzlement caused his aunt to let out a small guffaw. They shared a small look of amusement before Rabé turned her attention back to Luke.
“But who could they go to for help? If there was someone there why did they leave in the first place?”
“Ah. We humans were not the only residents of Naboo. While we lived in cities on the plains the Gungan people ruled the seas and swamps. And unlike us, they were warriors.”
“… What’s a swamp?”
(precocious desert child. so bright and kind and full of curiosity. no wonder if felt so right to tell this tale. maybe this boy too would grow up to save a damsel in her hour of need.)
It was not something Rabé had ever thought about. How do you describe a planet as green and rich as Naboo to someone who know only sand and wind? Thankfully she would not have to rely on words alone. She pulled a datachip from her bodice - not the one she was sent to collect, this one was much older and in some ways infinitely more precious. When the publishing company first suggested a book commemorating the second anniversary of the battle of Theed (an ambitious effort to combine the history and culture of Naboo with pictorial accounts of the conflict), Padmé had been more than a little reluctant. It seemed crass, thoughtless given the circumstances, and she had only given the initial go ahead on the proviso that she have complete editorial power over the final result.
The production draft had been provided in due course, and together they all had spent a memorable night tucked up in the palace correcting and critiquing the manuscript. Eirtaé had been scathing in her review of the political analysis. Sabé had wept as she rewrote the sections on the mythology and symbolism of traditional Naboo dress. Saché and Rabé had allowed their sarcasm full reign as they discovered some truly heinous geographic and chronological errors sprinkled throughout. Padmé herself had been disappointed in the emphasis placed on her role as Queen and wrote several impassioned screeds on the role of their Gungan allies, the significance of the continued local resistance movement and numerous other injustices perpetrated against the forgotten heroes of the conflict.
(padmé never quite accepted that sometimes the symbol was considered greater than those it inspired, that amidala had become more than a ruler, more than a leader, but a paragon of virtue, and she loved her for it)
The book was never published. The resulting edits were deemed to have made the work unmarketable, and all that remained was the annotated draft littered with impeccably researched corrections and commentary. Rabé had the only copy. It had been a gift from Padmé when she left her service, unsure of her future direction but knowing she could not continue to serve in the nest of vipers that was the senate. Padmé had nodded understandingly, told her that her sisters would miss her and gave her the book to remember them by. A month later Cordé was dead, Padmé had nearly been executed, the Clone Wars had begun and Rabé had started her career in espionage.It had been easy enough - there was a need for bodyguards, particularly discreet female ones, and Rabé was an excellent shot. No one questioned a senator occasionally meeting up with an old friend over lunch, and if the discussion happened to turn to her experiences on the seedier side of town then it was no one’s business but their own. The datachip became her touchstone - when everything had fallen, when the universe felt too dark, when she forgot why she still fought, Rabé would take it out and remember the young women who laughed and joked and sought justice for the forgotten. But right now it was exactly what she needed to show a little boy something marvellous.
With an easy familiarity Rabé flicked the chip into her reader, quickly navigating to the relevant section. “Here, this is a swamp. See how the trees grow out of the mud. And these are Gungans - see how they have webbed hands to help them swim through the water? ”
“Wait. That’s water?! Enough water that they can hide in it?”
The awe was was tangible in his voice.
“Mm hm. In fact, the Gungan cities were all hidden underwater. You had to have a local guide to even know where to start looking! But it had been a long time since our peoples had been friendly. So before Amidala could even try to convince the Gungans to help her she first had to find them.”
The poor kid looked shellshocked. His Aunt had a more controlled reaction, but Rabé saw how keenly she eyed the images as they rotated through.
“Underwater cities? Whoa. So how did she know where to look?”
“ She didn’t. But on their way to rescue the Queen the negotiators had made friends with a Gungan who agreed to help. Here he is - Jar Jar Binks, he went on to become a representative to the senate and one of Amidala’s dearest friends.”
Luke giggled. “He looks funny!” And Rabé could not argue - while the candid shot included in the book was particularly ridiculous, as far as she knew there were no pictures of Jar Jar in which he did not look at least slightly bizarre. Force knows they had tried.
( jar jar, the oddly charming fool. hero and unlikely ambassador of his people. she doesn’t think of what came after, of empty villages, silent marshes and the path to otoh gunga closed once more. forget jar jar, sad and lonely in his exile once more. forget the leavings of an alliance shattered. she hurts enough without it.)
“He might look odd, but he was a good friend. The Gungan army had already begun battle preparations when he brought the Queen and her party to speak to their leader. Boss Nass was unimpressed at first, but Amidala was brave. She dropped her disguise and knelt before him and humbly begged for his help. Her honesty and courage convinced him, and they made a pact stand together against their common enemy.”
Rabé took a sip of water from her canteen. It felt like she had been speaking for an eternity. “They made a clever plan.While the Gungans fought the Federation’s droid army on the plains, Queen Amidala took what forces she could gather back to Theed. They took over the hanger and sent starfighters to destroy the ship controlling the droids from orbit. Meanwhile the Queen personally led a strike force to capture the enemy leaders who had taken over her throne room.”
The way his eyes lit up at the mention of starfighters convinced Rabé that little boys were the same the galaxy over, and a quick swish of her wrist brought up some shots of the orbital battle.
After a moment of distraction Luke was drawn back to the story.
“So they shot down the ship and the Gungans won the battle and the Queen got her throne back right?”
“It wasn’t quite that simple. The Gungans were fierce warriors but they were heavily outnumbered and bad luck left them without protection. The droid control ship was heavily defended, and the pilots had difficulty damaging it. And the Queen’s group was captured at the palace and taken to the throne room as prisoners.
(she does not mention the sith. if she cannot tell of the brave jedi who gave so much to protect them, if she cannot speak of master jinn’s sacrifice, then she will ensure their foe is forgotten also. they deserve that much. they deserve so much more.)
"But they did win, didn’t they?” Luke asked tremulously. He was leaning so far over the table his bottom was no longer touching the seat of his chair. “The had to have!”
“They did. But it was close. After a fierce battle one brave pilot managed to fly right into the control ship and blew it up from the inside. Which let the Gungan army overpower the droids. And the Queen had been cunning - she had split her group in two, and the other half was led by one of her handmaidens in full royal dress. When the Queen and her men were brought in front of the enemy leaders the handmaiden attacked, convincing them that the Queen was a decoy. Which gave her just enough time to enact her last plan.”
“Why to grab the blasters hidden in her throne and hold the leaders hostage of course!”
This time it was Beru’s laughter that echoed out of the booth.
“Brave indeed! I think I would have liked to have met your Queen!”
Looking at the farmer’s calloused hands and lined face lit up with mirth, Rabé rather thought the feeling would have been mutual. Padmé had always been fond of meeting other strong women. She grinned conspiratorially.
“Oh, Nute Gunray never lived it down! Imagine, being sent to capture a teenage girl with an army at you back and ending up captured yourself with your army destroyed! The invasion ended there and then of course, and the alliance between the Humans and the Gungans was sealed with a great ceremony!”
A tap of her fingers and the image changed to one of the celebrations in Theed, a widely smiling Padmé standing alongside Boss Nass on the centre of the dais.
“That’s her? That’s Queen Amidala? She’s beautiful!” Luke exclaimed. “Do you have any more pictures of her?”
“Of course.” Another quick gesture. “Here she is addressing the senate, and this is her at her coronation. In this one she’s presiding over the memorial for the fallen, and this is her… wait, no. I’m fairly sure that one’s her handmaiden.”
Luke’s laugh was bright and full of cheer. It felt like a soothing balm on her soul. To the side his Aunt looked at him with great fondness as he scrolled through the pictures. Seeing their happiness, Rabé though that perhaps this trip hadn’t turned out so badly after all.
“What did she do after Miss Rabé?”
“Pardon Luke, after what?”
“After the war. I mean, she was a Queen so I guess she did royal things, but she probably went and did more brave things too right? She wouldn’t have stopped just cause this part was done!”
(as if she could ever have stopped. courage made her bones and justice ran though her blood. for a while they had wondered, would love be enough for her to abandon her battles? but it was only at the end, only for the sake of another, that she was willing to take the peace she so desperately fought for. in the end it had not mattered.)
“She did many things, Luke. She oversaw the rebuilding effort, she strengthened our ties with our neighbours, she oversaw a period of great prosperity for our planet. When at last her time as Queen was over our people did not want to see her go, and was asked to represent us in the senate. She might have said no, decided that she had done enough, but instead she went and continued to speak out against tyranny and corruption. She was a fierce advocate for peace, a champion of the democratic rights of all sentients. She organised many relief missions and her investigations exposed several cases of illegal activities among the political elite. She made many enemies, but even more admirers. And that is why, when we praise someone for their courage, we say they are as brave as Amidala, who never gave up.”
Luke was clearly awestruck, and even Beru looked strangely moved.
“Wow. Where is she now? I bet she’s out running the rebel…”
“Luke! Hush!” Beru’s face was clearly panicked. “Don’t mind him, he thinks the universe is like one of his holofilms-”
Rabé pushed down the spasm of grief, quickly assuring the other woman of her lack of concern for the boy’s potentially seditious leanings.
“No, that’s fine, I know how imaginative kids can be.” She looked at Luke, his face bright red. “You might want to be a little more careful about how you phrase things in the future though.”
“Yes Miss Rabé.” He muttered.
Taking a deep breath, Rabé decided she may as well answer the question. Luke should learn sometime that even heroes may die. But she would also teach him how to make their memory count.
“As it happens, Senator Amidala didn’t live past the Empire’s founding. Nobody quite knows how or why. Some say her heart could not take the end of the democratic system she championed. Others say her enemies took advantage of the chaos to remove her influence. All we do know is that a week after the republic ended we watched and mourned as they carried her body to her final resting place, in the city she once ruled. ”
( twilight, shadows, a thousand candles held in hooded hands. not a sound as the bier progressed through the street, white flowers shining through the gloom. apailana, her silver face bedecked with tears, blue for shiraya, clear for herself, a queen grieving her icon. sabé, her face as stone, as the tomb is sealed. motée weeping, begging forgiveness for losing track of her, for being unable to follow her. dormé folding and refolding infant clothing, never to be worn. teckla rocking from side to side humming discordantly. sorrow. pain. she is dead. part of them died with her. )
“But Luke, she’s not gone - not truly.” Her eyes blinked back tears. “She lives on, in us. Every time we stand up for what is right, rather than what is easy. Every time we look evil in the face and refuse to surrender. Every time speak for those with no voice. As long as we remember to be brave like Amidala, her legacy remains. And we will be brave. We promised…”
She felt the impact as small arms wrapped tightly around her chest. Blond hair tickled her neck from the head tucked under her chin. A warm hand lands on her shoulder and Rabé looks up into sympathetic eyes.
“That sounds like a fitting way to honour her memory. To do good deeds in her name. We should all be so lucky.”
“… me too” came the muffled voice from her torso. “I’m gonna be brave too. Brave like Amidala. I promise. I’ll make her proud. And when I grow up I’m gonna make lots of friends, just like she did and we’ll help people and tell off the bad guys ‘cause that’s what she would have wanted right?”
Something emerged from her throat that was neither a laugh or a sob, but carried echoes of both. “I can think of no better tribute Luke.”
After a while Beru lifted her hand and rummaged about in her pack.
“Luke, I think we could all use a little something to eat. Here, go see what Kruk has to offer - nothing too fancy mind!” That this would give Rabé a chance to compose herself again went unsaid. She found herself immensely grateful for the thought.
“Wait.” She reached into a pocket for a credit chip and handed it to the boy. “A friend of mine once mentioned a fruit of some sort that he had here once? Paddies… parries?”
Luke’s eyes lit up “Pallies! They’re the best! You’ll see!”
Beru sighed. “Now you’ve done it. Off you go Luke - make sure to get something a bit more filling too. We still have a long trip home.”
“Yes Aunt Beru!”
They watched his back disappear towards the bar.
“He’s a good kid.”
“I know.” Beru’s expression turned wistful."There isn’t a day goes by I don’t marvel at how lucky I am to have him.” She turned to look at Rabé straight on. “Thank you. For the story. I could see how much it meant to you.”
“It was nothing.” Rabé demurred. “I’m glad to have shared it with such an appreciative audience.”
Beru frowned, obviously torn as to her response. For whatever reason she came to a decision and her expression cleared. Carefully weighing her next words, she spoke.
“No. It’s more than that. Luke, he’s my husband’s kin. I never knew his father well, but his grandmother treated me like her own daughter when Owen and I wed. Their history is mine, and when Luke’s old enough it’ll be his too. But his mother’s people I know almost nothing of - I only met her the once.” Her head dropped. “I never even got her full name.”
Rabé made as if to speak, but Beru raised a hand to forestall her. “No, hold up. See, we talked a little, and I knew she wasn't from some dirt poor dustball on the rim, but I forgot the exact planet she mentioned.” She shook her head ruefully. “Never thought it’d end up being important. But her accent sounded just like yours, and the pattern of your clothing is very similar. Even the way she wore her hair” she gestured towards Rabé’s head of dark brown curls. “If she wasn’t from Naboo she was close. So thank you. Thank you for giving him something of her, a piece of her people’s heritage that he can be proud of.“
"What was her name?” Rabé asked, unsettled by the raw emotion in the Tatooine woman’s voice. “There are common elements we use on Naboo, I may be able to recognise it if I’m lucky.” It wasn’t much, but she could at least try to confirm Beru’s guess as to her sister in law’s origins.
Beru looked hesitant. “Padmé. Her name was Padmé.”
(for a moment she cannot breathe, cannot speak, what if? what if? the hope drowns her but no, no hope is dead, hope died with the republic. padmé, her padmé, is gone yet compassion lives and this at least she can give.)
“Padmé” she somehow choked out “I had a friend named that - it’s definitely a name from Naboo.” She thought for a moment. “Actually, for that matter, so is Luke.”
“It is?” Beru’s eyebrows rose. “I’d always assumed… You think she named him them?”
There was something intent in her tone, and even if she had wanted to Rabé could not have remained silent.
“Probably, it’s not a common name, but it’s a very old one on Naboo. It means "light”.“ The former handmaiden could not help but grin. "Rather appropriate really. He is a sunny child.”
The corner of Beru’s eyes crinkled up. “It means something here too. I’d always figured it’d been his father who gave it… thank you. That’s twice now you’ve given us something irreplaceable.”
Rabé raised her hands in denial. “I haven’t done anything more than tell a story and agree with your own suspicions. If anything I owe the pair of you for the distraction from the storm!”
Beru shook her head. “Names are important. You lose your name, you forget who you are, where you come from. Luke already carries part of his father’s name - it’s right that he should have something of his mother too. And if it weren’t for you we wouldn’t’ve known.”
Her tone brooked no argument. Instead Rabé shrugged and asked “What does it mean here on Tatooine? Luke’s name?”
Beru’s smile was secretive. “It means he is free.”
There was a moment of silence as they sat in quiet camaraderie, before the subject of their conversation returned in a tangle of limbs and almost airborne foodstuffs.
“Aunt Beru! Kruk says they’ve got the sat feed back up, the storm’s nearly over he says!”
“Well then, let’s sit and enjoy our meal together - by the time we’re done it should be gone and we can all start to head home. Rabé, here, try a pallie.”
The meal was one of the best Rabé could remember in a long time. The pallie was sweet on her tongue, and the savoury flatbread was filling, but it was the soft laughter of her new friends that have her the greatest pleasure. They spoke of life on the Lars’ farm, of the open skies and endless plains and the unfortunate incident with the bantha. She spoke of Naboo and it’s waterfalls, and how she discovered she was allergic to traditional Gungan stew. Eventually the sandstorm eased, and as much as they might have wished for it to continue Rabé’s comm beeped, signalling her transport had arrived.
“It was wonderful to meet you Beru. And you too young master Lars!” Rabé said, leaning to shake their hands.
“No Miss Rabé, it’s Skywalker! Luke Skywalker.”
(the world stops.)
Skywalker. Skywalker! He lived! Blond haired, blue eyed, with his mother’s smile, Padmé’s child lived! But how?
She turned to Beru only to find her face hard and wary, one hand slowly moving towards her rifle. Oh. Of course. Luke lived because he had been hidden. Her shock had given her away and Beru knew she had recognised the name. Rabé was a good judge of character, and by her count she had only a minute to establish that she was not a threat before her new friend ensured that she never could be.
She smiled widely.
(he lived! he lived! and she once again had hope, because if this miracle could come to pass then surely so might others.)
“Well then, young Skywalker, I am happy to have met you! Before you go, I want to give you something.”
Moving slowly, keeping her hands visible, she pulls out the datachip from the reader and places it in the boy’s hand. She looks over his head, keeping eye contact with his guardian as she speaks.
“Since you were so interested, I thought you might like to have this. All I ask is that you keep it safe for me. It once belonged to a very dear friend of mine. Her name was Padmé Naberrie. She was a sister to me in all but blood. ”
A snap intake of breath and an easing away from the rifle told her her message had been received. Clueless to the unspoken conversation going on above him, Luke studied the chip intensely before regretfully holding it back towards her.
“I can’t keep that, it’s too important.”
“Take it Luke. Padmé would have been happy to see it in good hands. She would have loved to have met you, I know.”
“Was Padmé brave like Amidala?”
Rabé’s smile was incandescent. “Oh Luke, sometimes I think she was even braver.”
She knelt, holding him in a brief embrace before standing to offer the same to Beru.
“Thank you, Beru Lars, for everything. I promise to keep our secret safe.”
“What secret?” Luke whines.
“A none-of-your-business secret is what.” Beru’s hug was hard enough to crack a rib. “Keep safe Rabé, if you’re ever in the area again be sure to visit.” It was not an invitation but a command, one Rabé was all too willing to keep.
“Goodbye Miss Rabé! Stay brave!”
“I will, Luke. I promise.” she said, then turned and left the cantina, and it’s miraculous occupants behind.
And she would.
She had a job to do, information to deliver and an Empire to thwart. More importantly, she had hope, and soon her sisters in arms would too. It was time to be brave. For Amidala.