It’s been a busy, strange few days, and it was about to get a whole lot stranger. Why was I not surprised?
My first day on Naboo was for the most part quiet, but then that's how it always starts isn’t it, quiet. I got up very early and walked to the main Retreat building. It was extremely empty at that hour and it was easy to find the office assigned to me. The one furthest away from anything, no one it seemed wanted to talk to me or Lord Vader should he, by chance, happen to grace the retreat with his presence. I was pretty certain given the amount of negativity surrounding his feelings for this planet. He would not be showing up that often, not unless the Emperor required him to do so. That meant I was on my own. I kinda liked it that way so, no big deal.
I sat and waded through the mail, the junk and the fan mail. Yes, Lord Vader got fan mail. Hard to imagine, I know, most of the time I answered these letters with a form letter and stamped signature. He wasn’t the only one either, many of the Imperial Officers received fan letters. I found that a little strange to deal with at times, especially the professions of love and desire to have offspring. If Lord Vader received fan mail then I could only assume the Emperor did as well, and I was very glad I didn't have to deal with that.
Some of the letters had a tendency towards the weird, though. For example, To’kaey from the Coruscant wrote:
Dear Lord Vader,
I have long been an admirer of you and your work. I feel that law and order is a valuable commodity in this galaxy and one that is sorely undervalued. I have applied several times now the Imperial Academy but they turn me down because of my tentacles and my three legs. I understand that there is a policy against tri pods but could you not in may case make an exception? I promise not to get slime every where and I would polish my storm trooper amour every day. Do they make storm trooper armour for beings with three legs? I was hoping you would put in a good word for me with the Emperor because I would really like to work with you one day, and do your bidding.
Thank you for listening I remain a loyal fan,
To’kaey de Merituzs
Ps. Can you send me an autographed picture of you in your armour? Thank you.
And as if that were not bad enough he also gets a lot of letters like these:
My dearest Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith,
How I have long thought over the words I should use to write once again to you of my undying love. Have you no idea of the effect that you have upon the hearts of women such as myself when you stride through the streets on Empire day with your armour shining and your cloak flowing. Every time I hear your name my heart beats with anticipation of the latest news of your works.
Do you not get my letters? Do you not read how much I need you and long for you? I am certain that we are meant to be together and I dream of our union every day. I have decorated what will be our bedroom and living quarters in imperial red and black, I hope they will be to your liking and I have fashioned my self a gown in a similar style to your own handsome black outfit. Do you not understand that as each moment ticks by it is a moment lost in which we could be together, surely the Emperor could find another to help him run the galaxy, I need you here to run my heart!
Oh dearest Darthy, please write to me and tell me that you also love and desire me, and we can run away to the furthest reaches of the galaxy and be married. I wish for nothing else. I enclose a small holo of myself so that you might see me for yourself.
Anxiously awaiting your reply,
You get the idea. Some of these letters were just down right strange and some of them I had to wonder if these people really knew who Lord Vader really was. I would just shake my head and sigh, send out a form letter or pass the really weird letters along to the Imperial Intelligence network. He got death threats and marriage proposals and offers to father a multitude of children as well as normal every day run of the mill fan mail.
It was amazing how much of this sort of mail there was and how much of my day it took up to deal with it. More than once I have handed this job over to my droid because the letters either make me really cross or I end up laughing so hard I can’t do anything else.
I sorted out Lord Vader’s appointments for the next couple of days and made note of the official functions were his attendance was required, such as the reception held in the evening. I suppose this was the welcome to Naboo, festival kick off reception. Have I mentioned I hate these sorts of things? Have I mentioned that Lord Vader hates them twice as much as I do? Just imagine the fun we both have.
Actually it was boring. Well, almost boring.
After the Holo meeting with Lord Vader to discuss his agenda which after he had added an item is now my agenda I went back to the house to sort out my stuff. Unpack and put things away. I went through every dress I had and found one with long sleeves and long skirt that was formal enough to get me through the reception but not over the top.
The reception was held in the main hall, a wide open room with beautiful marble decorations and an intricately patterned stone floor. When I got there it was already full of people mingling, eating the vast array of finger foods and drinking what ever it was that was being carried around on silver trays by very serious looking waiters and waitresses.
I scanned the room for people I knew and saw no one. I had not heard a word from Shiv or any of his group and my guess was that they were either very busy of had gone back to Coruscant. Lord Vader had not arrived yet, the word I had gotten from him was he would be coming later and would meet me here. So like the rest of the finely dressed people here I grabbed some food and after making sure there was not funky additive in the drinks either I managed to snitch a glass of wine from a fast moving waiter and headed straight for the other side of the room to where the ornate glass doors were open leaving out on to the enormous balcony, well it was more like a wide and very long terrace really except it was high tip off the ground and over looked the lake. I could see my house from here. I had left a light on.
It was pleasant to stand outside, the breeze was gentle and cool and although there were enough people out side that one did not feel alone the lighting was low and people spoke in hushed tones as opposed to inside where there was much more chatter and laughter going on as well as music. I hoped the Emperor would make his entrance soon, so we could hear the speeches and then I could go home and curl up with my books. I was not the best example of a palace courtesan I guessed. Not interested in intrigue, not interested in fashion, not interested in flirting and carrying on about the court and I wasn’t terribly terrified of Lord Vader.
I heard the crowd suddenly quiet down and thought that it was the Emperor but no, it was Lord Vader and walking beside him having a heated discussion was Captain Thrawn. I slowly made my way indoors I would be rude not to acknowledge Lord Vader and I was most curious to know what they were talking about.
“Ah, there you are.” Lord Vader said to me as I reached them.
“My lord, good evening I trust your trip here was uneventful.” I said cheerfully. He never wasted time of pleasantries such as hullo, how are you, have you settled in and so on. “Captain, welcome back, I trust you had a successful mission saving the galaxy from evil doers?” I turned to Thrawn with an equally cheery smile. Lord Vader regarded me with one of his long hard stares. I ignored it.
“It was most interesting, Miss Gabriel.” Thrawn said with a slight smirk. “Perhaps I will regale you with some tales of adventure later if you are so inclined.”
What I really wanted to say was ‘oooh I love it when you use those big words.’ But I just smiled and said, “Something to look forward to then.”
Thrawn gave me a look I could not decipher and smiled. “Perhaps, more so than you bargain for. Excuse me.” And with that enigmatic statement he strode off into the crowd to talk to one of the officers in uniform, someone I didn’t know.
I looked at Lord Vader. “What was that supposed to mean?” I asked.
Lord Vader just turned his head and looked at me. “I am certain when the time comes you will be given the necessary information required to perform your duties.” He said tersely.
“And what does that mean?” I said becoming a little more annoyed. They were playing games.
But I didn’t get an answer because just at that moment the Emperor arrived and everyone dropped to one knee and the hall was filled with awed silence. I had the feeling this was going to be an annoyingly long evening.