Buried Deep, Scattered Wide 8
Mos Espa looked like a giant serpent from the air. It was a largest city on the planet and mostly be default the unofficial capitol. The shuttle flight to get there from Wayfar was two hours long and not especially pleasant. I was in the end, glad uncle Vahlek had come with me.
We disembarked and the smell hit me like a slap. Mos Eisley smelt dusty, the air tinged with the scent of transport fuel and oil. Here, there were too many beings all living on top of one another. The city smelled of fear, sweat and the refuse from over population. It was unpleasant and I wrinkled my nose. Uncle Vahlek laughed softly.
“Core worlds have spoiled you, lei’lei.” He said as he manoeuvred easily through the crowds of people who swarmed about the shuttle port. I had to trot to keep up with him and was jostled as those who had moved out of his way filled the space where he had been back in again.
“Where are we going?” I asked as we walked swiftly through the twisty streets.
“You want to know about the Boonta Eve Race, yes? We go ask someone who knows about it.”
The town hall was a fairly large building, and uncle Vahlek seemed to know his way around the building. I followed him through the labyrinth of corridors and stairs down into the basement, to a dimly lit room.
“Bareq, Bareq! You here or sleeping!?” my uncle yelled as we entered the room.
“Shut up d’ yelling, I’m old, not deaf!” came the gruff reply, two minutes later, appearing from behind one of the floor to ceiling archive shelves was a very annoyed looking Ithorian.
“Oh ‘tis you, what you wanting now?” Bareq asked my uncle, ignoring me. I had seen very few Ithorians in my life up close, although one or two did come through Mos Eisley, they mostly kept to themselves. They were among the more unusual looking beings in the galaxy. They were mostly peaceful, graceful beings with a long curved neck and T shaped head. They had two mouths, two throats and really melodic almost beautiful voices.
“Manners, Bareq, my Nahlei’lei Merlyn is with me today.” Uncle Vahlek said pushing me in front of him so that Bareq could see me. “Bareq, is a bit blind so forgive his rudeness.”
“Blind my…” He stopped before saying what ever it was he really wanted to say and bent down to peer at me. “Ah, never be knowing you had attachments Akosh, be thinking you a loner guy. What you wanting?”
“My Nahlei’lei wishes to know about the boy, Anakin Skywalker and the Boonta Eve Classic he won. You are the city’s archivist I thought, perhaps wrongly, that you might be able to help her, however we can go talk to Agle instead.”
“Naw naw, you in d’ right place. I be knowing all. I have facts, files, much informations. Anakin you say, Skywalker…” he nodded and then shuffled back into the stacks. “He d’ only human to win d’ Boonta Eve race ever. Big thing!”
At my uncle’s urging I followed Bareq into the stacks as the Ithorian searched for information.
“I was there, saw d’ race. Very exciting, lots of folkses unhappy they bet against d’ boy.” He sighed. “Ah yes, here we are.” He pulled out several data pads and shuffled back towards me. “You can be reading these, it’s all we got on d’ boy. Was a slave here you know, he and his mother. A junk dealer called Watto owned them. He was a cranky ol’ b… . It all in d’ datapads. You can sit in d’ corner there and read them, not to leave this room though, forbidden. You can be making notes if’n you want. Will be ten credits for my work.”
Before I could dig any money out my uncle had already paid the fee. “Are you content to sit here and read for a few hours while I’m gone?”
“Yes, Zte’sa.” I nodded wondering how it was that people who had known you since babyhood could always somehow manage to make you feel as though you had never grown up.
“Good, I have business to attend to, should be back in three hours or so. I know a good place for lunch, so don’t go anywhere until I come back for you.” He told me.
“Yes, Zte’sa.” I said again rolling my eyes. I was convinced he still thought I was ten.
He laughed and patted me on the head. “Bareq? Bareq!” he yelled.
The Ithorian ambled back out from behind the stacks. “Quit with d’ yelling, I tell you, I can hear fine. What you want now?”
“Look after my Nahlei’lei, or I will tell the kreetles to come and have lunch in this room.” Uncle Vahlek said.
The Ithorian shook his great curved head and sighed. “You a rough man, Akosh, mean to me. Your little charge is safe here, Ithorians look peaceful but we being very handy when backed into a corner and have to fight.”
My uncle smiled and nodded. “Fine then.” He said and he left without further conversation. Bareq looked at me for a moment and shook his head. “Was never knowing that man had anyone he cared for. How you get in his heart? Men like him have no one they treasure, too dangerous.” He asked.
I shrugged. “I’ve known him my whole life.” I said. “What do you mean by ‘men like him’?”
Bareq gave me a long steady stare which was a bit unnerving. “He a finder, among other things, very deadly.” He said. “No attachments, no strings.” And then with snort he turned his back on me. “He not be happy with me telling you his business if’n he hasn’t already told you. Best be reading now or else he be back and have to pay more credits.”
I did as he suggested. Curled up in the surprisingly comfortable chair in the far corner and began to read all about the Boonta Eve pod race and the boy that changed its history.
Time just slipped by, the archives Bareq had given me were really interesting, with images and information, the actual race had been captured and the highlights were to be seen. It made me wish I had actually been there, it looked so exciting. I had never seen a pod race live; the Empire had banned them from taking place, not that this actually stopped it from happening.
There were also stories about Anakin and his mother, where they had lived, who their owner had been, and lots of other little stories and gossip which had been gathered to round out the life of this little boy who had won the pod race. There was one small image of the boy with a small group of people gathered around him after he had crossed the finish line; two of the faces were known to me. One was Amidala, the queen of Naboo in disguise and the other was the Jedi Qui-Gon Jin. I stared at he image for a really long time hardly believing that this man who was dead was the very same who kept appearing in my dreams. I found it strange to think that this little boy had become the hero of the Clone wars. He looked so young, just an ordinary kid. I was deep in thought when uncle Vahlek returned almost four hours later.
“Did you find what you were looking for?” He asked bringing me out of my reverie. I looked up from the datapads.
“I think so.” I said, and then showed him the picture.
He nodded. “That’s Qui-Gon alright. Ready for lunch?”
“Yep.” I said getting up. I had made notes and copied some of the images and data into my own datapad.” I took the pile of archives and gave them back to Bareq who was now sitting at the desk near the front of the room.
“Was helping you?” he asked.
“Yes, thank you.”
“Any time you be wanting more help and informations I am here.” He said and then looked up at my uncle. “And you be speaking nice to the kreetles, they do terrible bad damage to the archives. Tell them to stay away or bother Agle instead. I be having enough troubles as is without d’ bugs destroying things.”
Uncle Vahlek grinned. “Thank you for all your help, Bareq.” He said and with me in tow, left.
“You wouldn’t really send kreetles to destroy his archives, would you?” I asked as we walked out.
Uncle Vahlek laughed. “No, Bareq and I have known each other a very long time and we argue like an old married couple. He is one of the most amazing beings I know, truth be told.”
It was hot outside in comparison to the soothing cool of the archive room and bright. I trotted beside uncle Vahlek as he made his way through the crowded streets. He took me to a small, somewhat out of the way café and we sat outside under the shade of the awning. A cranky Rodian came and took the order and came back with our drinks. I watched people passing back and forth, going about their business, ignoring us and everything around them. Lunch came and it was surprisingly good. Uncle Vahlek chatted about some of Mos Espa’s more interesting aspects and I listened. It was a nice way to pass the time and I was grateful that I could spend it with him. In the last week I felt that we had become very close. I had gotten to know him as more than just a fun uncle who brought me interesting toys and pets to play with. He had become a friend and someone I could talk to.
I was happy with the information I had found in the archives. I knew that Lord Vader would probably not have been so pleased about me digging up Anakin Skywalker’s past but I was becoming more and more convinced that the two Skywalkers were somehow connected. I was pretty certain that once I sorted these connections all out the story would make itself known to me. I wasn’t sure if finding all the information at the archives was at all what my dream had meant but it seemed to me that I had accomplished all I could in this town. I was looking forward to going home. Uncle Vahlek had just paid the bill when he suddenly got up, seeing someone across the street.
“Stay put, I’ll be right back. I need to talk to that man, it will just be a moment and then we can go. Bedi is apparently planning a full scale family dinner tonight, this means we need to get there on time. I do not want to risk her wrath.” He told me. I nodded and watched as he made his way across the street weaving through the people and the traffic with surprising ease. I lost interest in what he was doing once he had stopped the person he wanted to talk to.
The late afternoon was always a nice time of day. I sat back in my seat and watched the world around me. My thoughts drifted a little to all the things going on in my life and I wondered what would be in store for me when I returned to the Imperial City. Now that I was away from it I realised I didn’t miss it at all. I missed Thrawn. I missed Master Kjestyll, Shiv and I missed Lord Vader but I did not miss Coruscant, the palace or the Emperor. It was a relief to be so far away from it all.
At first I didn’t notice the woman who was standing a little ways away from the café, staring at me but after a few moments it became unnerving. I stared back at her wondering if I knew her at all but she didn’t look familiar to me. She was an older woman with a face that had seen better times. She dressed typical to the region and her hair, which had been tied up in a simple bun was a sandy grey colour. After a few moments of staring I looked away. I thought she would just go away but instead she came up to the table and continued to look at me. It was unnerving. Unsure of what to do I looked around for Uncle Vahlek, but he was still deeply entrenched in what looked like a fairly serious conversation and I didn’t think that would be ending any time soon.
“Can I help you?” I asked the woman who seemed utterly fixated on me.
“Your name is Merlyn, yes?” she asked.
I nodded. “Do I know you?” I asked.
She shook her head. “No, but I knew your mother.”
I raised my eyebrows in question and asked with some disbelief. “You knew Eri’ Gabriel?”
She shook her head. “No, I knew your real mother, the woman who gave birth to you.” She said, “The one who gave you your name.”
“What?” I managed to whisper. Despite the warmth of the day all the hair on the back of my neck was suddenly standing on end.
She took a very deep breath and shook her head. “I don’t even know where to begin. She told me this would happen but I didn’t believe it.” She wasn’t making any sense, and I could feel her distress coming off her in great waves. It made me a little nauseous.
“I have no idea who you are or what you are talking about but I need to go, my uncle will be waiting for me.” I said starting to get up. Suddenly, I didn’t like the feeling that my world was about to come crashing down about me in a very messy way.
She grabbed my hand and pulled at me. “Please, listen to me.” She spoke quickly. “I know how this must sound, but it is true. You were left someplace for others to find and raise, probably a transport ship. She left you with a journal only you can read and you probably have some remarkable talents that most people don’t. Am I close?”
I sat back down hard in the chair. She now had my full attention. I nodded in answer to her question and looked again over to where uncle Vahlek was still standing. In my heart I knew there would be no avoiding this now, something set into motion that would be impossible to stop.
“Will you come to my home with me, I’d feel better about explaining all this to you there and I have something that belonged to your mother that she wanted you to have. I have waited a long time for this moment.”
“Who are you?” I asked realising that I did not even know her name.
“My name is Rikka Blane. I was your mother’s best friend.” She said. I knew that everything she had told me was the truth. She had not lied but she was scared. I knew that she was very upset about seeing me. I could feel that without even concentrating. From some place deep inside of my soul I knew this was the answer to the unasked question, this is what I been waiting for. I could choose to get up and walk away and never know the truth or I could take the chance and go with this woman and find out where I really came from and perhaps why I had been so readily abandoned.
“I need to tell my uncle where I am going.” I said pointing at him.
“That man, the one with white hair is your uncle?” she sounded more than a little surprised.
I nodded. “Well my Zte’sa actually, we’re not actually related.”
She made a face that was not happy and shook her head. “Come with me, he’ll find you, it’s what he’s good at.” She said bitterly.
I looked over at him and then back to Rikka who had now stood up. “Please,” she said. “I have carried these secrets a long time waiting for you.”
I didn’t know what else to do. I stood up and began to follow her through the streets of Mos Espa. I looked back over my shoulder but uncle Vahlek had moved and I couldn’t see him any more. He was going to be really cross with me but I needed to know if what this woman was telling me was real.
She lived in a quiet street off the main core of the city, about ten minutes away from the café. A small unassuming house tucked away behind some larger apartment homes. As I followed her in through to door I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t think that I was in any danger but I had terrible knots in my stomach. Her home was nice, simple and tidy. She ushered me into the small kitchen and gestured for me to sit at the table there.
“Can I get you something to drink?” she asked.
“No, thank you.” I said folding my hands on my lap. “How do you know I am who you are looking for?” I asked trying to sound calm and business like.
She made a ‘wait a moment’ gesture with her finger and vanished from the room for a second. When she came back she handed me a holo-picture. It was of two young women hugging each other and laughing. One I knew was a much younger version of Rikka but the other made my heart skip a beat and I forget to breathe. My hands shook as I put the holo image back on the table. A very sickly, prickling sensation starting from the pit of my gut worked its way up into my head and I though, just for a second, I would pass out.
‘Breathe just breathe’, I heard the man from my dreams voice whisper in my mind.
“I know who you are,” She said seeing my reaction, “because you are the spitting image of your mother. Will you have something to drink now?”
It was all I could do just to nod. That tail eating snake had finally hit the wall and it hurt like hell.
Posted by Merlyn at 09:14