Predators and Prey 3

Chut chut, Captain,

I suppose that until I am able to learn your lovely language, you will have to put up with mine. I learned Huttese at the same time I learned basic. I think this was at my father’s insistence rather than my mother’s. It is the language most used on Tatooine so I guess he had a point but I find it coarse, harsh, much like the desert. While I have not heard a lot of Cheunh, what I have heard sounds like music, so all innuendos aside; I would very much like to learn it fluently some day. Perhaps you could start by telling exactly what A’mia Tekari means and the literal translation of what ever it was Navaari kept calling me. Come to think of it, I am curious why it is that you don’t call me that as well?

I thought that you might like to hear how last night’s Nubian Gala went, seeing as how you missed it this year. You were right about one thing; the Nubians sure know how to hold a grand event. The palace is stunning. I wished I had had more time to spend just looking at some of the paintings. I had only been in the library before so I missed this the last time I was here.

The grand ball room was decorated with the most beautiful pale white flowers and floating lanterns made from some sort of delicate tissue paper that held little twinkling lights in them. From a distance it almost looked like the room was filled with stars, something to do with the representation of all the members of the Empire, Shiv said. Unlike the Emperor’s grand Ball, Shiv doesn’t have anything to do with the décor for this event so he was just as surprised as I was when we walked in the main entrance and were announced.

There was an orchestra and a very large buffet set up. I don’t think in my life I have ever seen so much food, you could have fed an army. The orchestra was very good, not sure if it was the same one from Coruscant or not. They didn’t play the Kai’y’en-sai Waltz. I did get to dance though, and to be honest that was one of the more fun things about the entire evening. GA Zaarin was also there and, yes he did ask me to dance several times throughout the evening. He is actually not too bad on the dance floor but he lacked something I couldn’t put my finger on. He knew all the steps and was competent at leading but it was very mechanical. So, you owe me a dance when you come back.

Mostly, I stuck to myself and watched people. Shiv, as always, had to sort out small emergencies through out the evening. It can’t be easy what he does, dealing with the courtesans and such. I did ask how he managed but all he said was he enjoys the drama. You would have smiled when he nudged me to go and mingle though.

I was surprised by the number of Gungans attending. I was under the impression that the Emperor was not overly fond of non humans but he seemed to rather enjoy mingling and talking to some of the more prominent Gungan leaders. In difference to the Grand Ball on Coruscant, he was very approachable and spent a lot of time actually talking to people. Well, important people that is. I stayed away from him; he scares the sand jiggers out of me and I get to see enough of him as it is.

It is the first time I’ve seen Queen Kylantha up close as well. She seemed very sad and maybe just a little bored to be honest but then again it is hard to tell under all the make up that she wears. Shiv mentioned that all the Royal clothes and the face paint are very ceremonial and representative of Naboo’s history. I know that in one of the books I had read on Queen Amidala they touched on this as well, I should probably re read it again. I think it would be interesting to know what the clothing and the facial paint means. Every culture does this though, I mean the Sand people have their clothing and mask rituals as do the Dantassi. I never really gave it much thought before and speaking of Dantassi clothing, just so as you know, hand washing them is a big pain!

There was lots of idle chit chat going on and I am sure you would have enjoyed all the banter and it’s associated under currents. Me, I can’t make heads or tails of that stuff most of the time. Many people asked me why Lord Vader had not come, it seems that while people fear his presence they question his absence more. I gave them my standard answer. People’s faces do funny things when the word rebel is uttered.

The strangest thing about the whole evening though was meeting a young man named Tlokal Idanjay and his mother, Ilara. He and his family are from Alderaan. He was studying off world at the time of the “accident” and his parents were visiting the school. It seems that, after a lengthy conversation which started because of the paintings in the great hall, his mother knew my mother. It was just plain weird. I had not visited Alderaan since the death of my mother. I know I had family there but we were not close. Her family were not happy that she married my father, married beneath her they all thought. She had been born into one of the noble houses and was supposed to enter into an arranged marriage. Guess no one there was too happy when she fell in love with my father and married him instead. It was only after I came on the scene did her family contact her. No one knew that I was adopted so they all thought I was the last of the blood line. How ironic. She was invited back home to visit with me in tow, everyone wanted to see “the baby”. I think I was about 3 at the time, I have vague memories of that particular visit; a lot of aunts, uncles and cousins. My grandparents argued with my mother a lot and I remember her crying. I went back to Alderaan with my mother two more times before she was killed and both times we stayed away from her family. It seems strange to me now that the destruction of the planet did not have a greater effect on me. After all, they were family. I wonder why I don’t mourn their loss more. It was very surreal to hear Ilara tell me stories about my mother from when they were young. It seems as though my mother was quite outspoken and a bit of a tomboy. She told me that everyone was very saddened by the news of her death. I didn’t have the heart to ask her why it was then that no one came to my mother’s memorial on Tatooine. I got the feeling she didn’t exactly agree with how my grandparents handled the whole situation. Are large families always this messy? She asked to keep in touch with me and I told her yes, but I don’t really know why. She seemed so sad when she spoke of my mother and I felt as though it were my job to comfort her. I was relieved when Shiv came to the rescue and asked for a dance.

Another nice part of the evening was meeting up with Sola Naberrie again. It should not have surprised me that she and her family were there because this gala was pretty much a who’s who of Naboo and her family have a big name in politics here. Her youngest daughter, Pooja, was a member of the Imperial Senate until it was dissolved. Anyway, I met Sola some weeks back when I went to visit her sister, Padmé’s grave. She was very kind to me that day and, as it happens sometimes, I felt this strange, strong connection with her. I think people were shocked when she hugged me. She was very surprised to see me and even more surprised when Zaarin, who was standing next to me at the time, informed her of just who it was I worked for. Although, I didn’t get the feeling she disapproved. It’s hard to know how to deal with that sort of thing because; after all, as you so aptly put it I am just an office girl. When I said this to Sola, the GA nearly choked on his drink, I thought he was going to snort champagne out his nose. Does he know something I don’t or was he just being a poodoo head?

Anyway, we managed to speak a little more later on out on the terrace and the upshot of this is I have a standing invitation to visit the next time I am here. I have really mixed feelings about leaving Naboo. How is it possible to fall in love with a planet that one has no real ties to? Don’t get me wrong, Tatooine will always be home and there are so many things I love about it that I could not possible name them all, but this place has a magic I can’t define. It does seem a bit odd that the two planets Lord Vader despises above all else are the two that I love the most, and he hasn’t killed me yet…how about that?

Something else I found out last night, did you know that the wee house I currently live in is supposed to be haunted? Shiv told me. The story is good and the way Shiv tells it you almost believe it could be true. I must admit I have never felt or sensed anything strange there but it could be that I am so at home with ghosts and other weird things that I wouldn’t notice?

So, now the focus is on packing up everything and getting it ready for the move which starts the day after tomorrow. HR asked if I wished to relocate to housing away from the palace and I think I surprised them by saying I’d rather stay. There are places in the palace that I have grown to love and I am, believe it or not, looking forward to seeing them again. Shiv was telling me that people have gotten lost in the Imperial Palace and that the children of families who live there are not only allowed to play hide and seek they are encouraged to do so. I think it would be fun to learn some of the Palace’s secrets, don’t you?

Anyway, I hope that you are well and that your visit to the Sikadian Gardens was everything you expected. I look forward to hearing about it. Gardens are not something I have a lot of experience with; they are not very common on Tatooine, but I imagine they must be very peaceful and gentle places to visit.

Kaniwaturiki kinkin,


A’mia Tekari,

Your letter arrived yesterday and it was a bright moment in what has been a difficult week. I was happy to hear that you enjoyed the Nubian gala and managed to find some joy in what I suspect you would normally call a stuffy, boring night full of over dressed diplomats and Imperial courtesans. Perhaps there is hope for you yet.

I am certain that by the time this reaches you, the mass return of the Imperial Court will be complete and you will be once again settled in your home in the Palace. I hope that the move was not too stressful and less chaotic than usual.

You asked what A’mia Tekari means. I shall endevour to explain but keep in mind I am not a linguist by profession, so bear with my clumsy explanation. It is a fairly informal written greeting used between friends and family. A literal translation would end up along the lines of to the person for whom I have fond feelings, so to simplify you could say it means to my dearest. If you should wish to use this in writing to me you would use the masculine form and drop the ‘a’ in front of the word Mia (the possessive form of me) and add the letter ‘e’ before the word Tekari. Mia e’tekari is how it would be written. Tekari as a word on its own can mean many things, as so many words are apt to do in Cheunh, but its core meaning is beloved. This meaning, however, waxes and wanes depending on use and context.

Tjällh is a little more difficult and I have already explained its limited use but the absolute basic translation would be ‘little one’ or perhaps since this is the feminine form ‘little girl’. I don’t call you that for the very obvious reason, in my eyes you are not a little girl. Given the nature of our relationship, it would be inappropriate for me to call you that. Cheunh is a very complex language. I am afraid I could not begin to teach it to you, and while you will no doubt pick up a word or a phrase here and there from me, teaching you to speak it is beyond my abilities. However, I will see what I can do to help you study the language should you truly wish to do so.

I really enjoyed reading your description of your Gala night out. I almost felt as though I was there myself. I could see it very clearly through your eyes, which is delightful. It would have been a most pleasant evening to have spent with you, especially as you mentioned that you had not seen the paintings that hang in Theed palace. I smiled at your description of dancing with Demetrius Zaarin. Many of the Imperial Officers are from wealthy families and learn the finer aspects of courtly behaviour from early childhood; this includes learning how to dance. Many men find dancing to be beneath them and an activity that while it is a requirement of court, must not need be enjoyed. I sometimes think that some of these men approach the dance floor as though it were a battlefield, something to be conquered. Unlike many of my fellow officers, I actually enjoy the art of dance; it is a most pleasant art form that gives many insights into one’s partner. It is one thing to know the mechanics of the various dances; it is another to be able to feel the dance’s soul. For a dancer such as you, a partner who cannot get beyond the mechanics of the dance to feel its soul must be a most unsettling thing. As far as this subject is concerned, I am happy to owe you a dance or two. It is possible that I will be returning to Coruscant for Winter Fete Week and I am certain there will be ample opportunity then for you to collect on this debt then.

It was refreshing to hear that His Excellency, the Emperor was in good spirits and was mingling with his subjects. This puts the rumours of his failing health to rest. I can certainly understand your fear of him, he is very powerful in many ways but you appear to have his favour at the moment so I don’t believe you have anything to worry about.
Gungans and the regency of Naboo have long been favoured by the Emperor. I must admit I do not know the story behind this but I am sure given your love of reading and research, you could probably find out. I was under the impression that many Gungans had become reclusive since the dawn of the Empire, however perhaps this is just rumours and bad gossip.

You mentioned the ceremonial wear of the Queen. Indeed every item of ceremonial clothing has some historical meaning attached to it. I do know off the top of my head that the red mark that divides the Queen’s lips is called the Scar of Remembrance, but I am not sure what it is in remembrance for. Clothing plays a very important role in most species lives, at least those that wear some sort of clothing. I don’t know much about the significance of it for the Sand People though, perhaps you can enlighten me. On another note, you do know that the fabric used in Dantassi clothing can be machine washed.

You have piqued my curiosity now … why would you be mentioning the word rebel at an event attended primarily by Imperials?

It must have been very surreal for you to meet a childhood friend of your mother’s but what an opportunity to learn more about this woman you loved so much, who shaped who you are with her life. I can certainly understand your hesitation about befriending Ilara Idanjay but bear in mind this woman probably misses her friend as much as you miss your mother. I have often observed that family members who have lost a loved one seem to end up comforting those outside the family who would mourn the loss as well. Families no matter how small or large are complex, my dear. I won’t bore you with details from my own familial experience but needless to say you are not alone.

I don’t believe I have heard the name Sola Naberrie before, but I am not up on all the great families of Naboo. It sounds as though you have made yourself a good friend on the planet and I am glad to hear it. As you have mentioned in passing before, because you work for a man who commands much respect and fear, you are also ostracised by many of your peers. It is comforting to know that not everyone in the galaxy transfers their fear of Lord Vader onto you. Ignore Zaarin, he has some difficulty understanding why you not only seem to survive working for Lord Vader but also appear to have his confidence. You have quite the reputation among the Imperial officers for being somewhat of an elusive mystery. You would probably laugh yourself silly if you were to hear half of the speculation and rumours that are whispered about you. It would have been very amusing to watch the GA snort champagne. I doubt very much that he ‘knows something you do not’; he was more likely, as you so eloquently put it, being a poodoo head. You spurn his attentions so that makes you a frustration. Men of power do not like to be frustrated, especially by pretty young women.

You seem to have that rare ability to see past the negative and accentuate the positive. It does not surprise me that you have fallen in love with Naboo. It is a stunning, lush planet full of beauty and life. That you should love your home world so much is not unexpected. I could not even begin to guess what it is about these two worlds that Lord Vader despises so much but I suspect your affection for these places has little effect on his feelings towards you. You stay alive because so far you have given him no reason to eliminate you. I would venture to guess that your love of both Naboo and Tatooine is a source of some amusement and, at the same time, some annoyance to him.

I did indeed know that your little home by the lake was supposed to be haunted and I also know the story behind it. Ghost stories it seems run rampant on Naboo, both the Nubians and the Gungans have a strong history of such stories and belief in the supernatural. You might want to ask your friend Sola about the Night of Lights and Spirits, the one night of the year where the dead are able to walk among the living. I am not sure how rich the storytelling culture is on Tatooine but on Csilla we also have a strong oral tradition and many of the tales also involve the supernatural world. There are some amazing stories of ghostly happenings; this is of course doubly important in the Dantassi enclaves. Perhaps one day, when there is some time, I will share some of the more interesting ones with you. I will warn you in advance though, storytelling is not my forte. I am willing to wager that Kirja’navaar’inkjerii is an extraordinary storyteller, just as his grandfather was. It is a vital part of being a Dantassi hunter, the ability to retell the hunt in an exciting and captivating manner. A culture’s oral history is quite fascinating.

Your comments about the Imperial Palace brought to mind the story of the unfortunate woman, Frona Zella who was found dead at her desk a year after she had died. This caused quite a stir and was the reason behind the wearing a com link at all times rule. The Emperor does indeed encourage the palace children to play Hunter as a method of learning the Palace lay out, although I am in still a little unclear how this helps the muddled adults find their way about. I am quite certain that you could spend a lifetime exploring the palace, looking for its secrets and still only scratch the surface. There are many rumours about hidden passages and entrances and exits and one has to work hard, I think, to separate truth from fiction. You, my dear, stand a fair chance of finding one or two with your gifts and your astonishing sense of direction. I look forward to hearing about your finds.

You asked about my visit to the Sikadian Gardens and there is much to tell. After some delays, I landed on Sk’rrr near the Gardens, with two junior officers, Wolver and Tier. There I met with a Shi’ido named Hoole and two human children, Tash and Zak. The young girl, Tash reminded me sharply of you, fearless and outspoken. It would have amused you to hear her grill me on my reasons for visiting the gardens. Of course little did any of us know that what I thought would be a pleasant side trip to learn a little about the Sk’rrr turned into something out of a very bad horror holo.

I don’t know how much you know about Sk’rrr but they are an insect based life form descended, as it turns out, from the drog beetles. The Sikadian Gardens were based on a delicate balance between the beetles and their predators the Shreev. The beetles eat, well, everything and the shreev eat the beetles. Without the Shreev the beetles would pretty much overrun not only the garden but the planet, so you would think that this planet and its inhabitants would have a vested interest in keeping this balance in check. This, sadly, was not the case.

The Sk’rrr have an interesting duality in their culture. On the one hand they greatly value art in its varied forms but on the other hand they also value the art of warfare. As one of their kind informed me, many of their artists are also poet warriors who have mastered both the light and the dark side of their personal natures. This could be seen in the layout of the gardens, it was most intriguing until it took a turn for the surreal and life began to imitate art.

To make a long story short, it seems that the caretaker of the garden went mad and through his actions created a dreadful imbalance in the beetle population. The beetles, as I mentioned before eat anything and they devoured Lieutenants Wolver and Tier. It was most disturbing. I lost two good men all because of a madman. Needless to say leaving the gardens became a bit of an adventure as both my shuttle and the ship belonging to Hoole were disabled. What the Shi’ido and his two young charges were doing there I have no idea but I got the distinct impression there was more to their story than they were letting on. I would have found out had there been time; however surviving the beetles seemed a tad more important.

It never ceases to amaze me how short sighted fanatics are when it comes to the object of their beliefs. Had the Vroon, the garden's caretaker, not taken it into his head to upset the balance between the Shreev and the Beetles, none of the unfortunate and unnecessary deaths would have occurred.

I managed to learn a great deal about the Sk’rrr from the small amount of time I was able to spend in the garden before it was overrun and subsequently destroyed. I was also reminded of the short sightedness and closed mind views that seem to be quite prevalent about the Empire amongst its citizens. I do not know how many times I have heard and continue to hear that the Empire is evil and ‘up to something.’ How many times can one say the Empire is merely a system of government? That many, many worlds rely on this system of governing for law and order. That many hundreds of planets have never even see a Storm trooper garrison or the Imperial navy does not seem to enter into the minds of such people. It does not occur to them that all the planets under Imperial rule rely on the Empire for supplies, food, clothing and so on. The ridiculous propaganda being spread by the members of the insurrection known as the rebellion is most annoying. I have to wonder if, while they are fighting for their beloved beliefs, they have thought about what will happen to law and order should the Empire collapse. Running an Empire or for that matter any system of government is no easy matter. One can read many accounts from many worlds about governments being toppled and the aftermath of chaos that follows because there was no coherent plan in place for taking over. While freedom, which is a most intriguing word and concept in itself, is a desirable thing it becomes quite secondary when there is no food or shelter being provided and when infrastructure vanishes. There will always be someone who opposes the party in rule; it seems to be the law of nature, balance and opposition, predators and prey. The incident in the gardens only served as a reminder to me of what happens when that balance is upset. Anyway, my dear, I must end this letter and shall not bore you further with my musings on governments and those who dislike them.

I trust that you are keeping well and staying out of trouble. I very much look forward to spending some time with you when I return to Coruscant. Perhaps we can arrange to visit the Art Gallery together or go out to dinner. Think on it and let me know you there is something in particular that you would like to do. I will get in touch when I arrive and we can arrange something.


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