Chapter 12. Guardian
It was not a memory. More like a mental jigsaw puzzle pieced together from different sources –a vague recollection of her sister’s retelling when she was nine, official Imperial records that she had found when she was eleven, and a letter that Matol Jankerrie, Sable’s mother had given Padmé when she was sixteen…
Winama, who was probably the only person alive that really knew, never told Padmé how her parents died.
Some of the pieces in the puzzle would be missing forever.
A quiet evening, the mother sleeping by the window, the father and the big sister teasing the baby by the heart. A serene evening in the Naberrie household. Nothing to indicate that their family would soon be destroyed.
There had been no warning.
“IMPERIAL POLICE! OPEN THE DOOR!”
The loud knock alone would have broken down a sturdier door. Jobal Naberrie jerked out of her sleep, her eyes wide with shock. Ruwee looked up from his little daughter and his face paled. Over Sola’s surprised eyes, the two adults exchanged looks.
Ruwee’s hand went over her mouth at once. “Shhh, Sola…”
But it was too late.
“OPEN THE DOOR!”
Jobal went to her husband, stood by him.
“The children,” was all she said.
Ruwee looked down at Sola and Padmé. The little girl was five, her sister barely a baby.
“Papa,” Sola said quietly, her voice trying bravely to keep steady. “What’s happening?”
Ruwee smiled at her, kneeling down so he could look her in the eye. When he spoke, his voice was extremely hearty. “We’re just playing a game, you see…”
Behind him, Jobal had gone into the study. Sola’s eyes followed her mother anxiously and Ruwee gently but firmly turned her back to him.
“Just like hide and seek…”
“WE’LL GIVE YOU FIVE MINUTES AND THEN WE’LL BREAK THIS DOOR DOWN!”
Jobal came back to the room, a dark object in each hand. Ruwee moved quickly so that his body blocked her from his daughter’s view.
“… only this time longer.”
“Ruwee…” Jobal said in an urgent whisper from her post at the window. “They’ve placed a code breaker on the door.”
In one swoop, Ruwee picked up the baby on the floor, grabbed Sola by the arm and started sprinting with her through their house.
Padmé started bawling.
“And this time, you’ll try hiding somewhere else…” Ruwee said in the same eerily cheerful voice. “Like, in the garden in your school.”
“Papa,” gasped Sola, jogging to keep up with him. Everything was happening so quickly. The rude people at the door… This strange game… Her mother holding two blasters in her hand… Papa not bothering to comfort Padmé when she was crying her eyes out.
Ruwee took her to the back door, the one that led into the garden. The sounds from the front door faded. Ruwee paused at the door, looking round frantically before they dashed into the garden ahead. They ran to the fountain where before her astonished eyes, he opened up a little cage door buried in its side.
Inside the door, all she could see was darkness. There was a tunnel inside that could fit a very small child.
Ruwee shoved the crying baby into Sola’s arms. “See it’s a clever game, Sola. Just keep going and you’ll get to the school.”
From somewhere in the house, there was the sound that Sola would later know as blaster fire.
Ruwee shouted and then he shoved his children into the tunnel.
“Take care of each other,” he said and there was no false heartiness in his voice.
Then the tunnel door closed and they never saw him or their mother again.
Husband and wife
Found guilty by Imperial Tribunal on three counts of terrorism and occultism.
Sentenced to death and executed by order of his Imperial Majesty.
Eleven-yr-old Padmé Naberrie read the carefully recorded files of her parents’ death. Then she asked the Archivist at the Junior Legislator Academy very nicely for permission to make copies.
When she followed Sabé home for the holidays, she sent the copies via anonymous mail to her grandmother.
During that holiday, Winama came to visit. Unannounced as always. Padmé went for a walk with her mother, Matol Jankerrie’s worried gaze boring through her back as she left the house.
Not one to beat around the bush, Padmé asked her grandmother as soon as they were out of earshot: “Is this why they killed Sola?”
Winama’s old eyes closed briefly as pain filtered through her features but all she said was: “Your sister died in an accident.”
Padmé stopped walking. Anger like she had never felt filled her. “They killed her and you know it! You are the cause of it!”
Winama closed her eyes again.
But Padmé was feeling merciless. “That’s why my parents died, isn’t it? That’s why I can never live with you, isn’t it?” Her hands balled into fists. Never had she felt so powerless in her life. “Answer me!”
Tears stained the woman’s cheeks but she didn’t open her eyes. “Padmé, please…”
“Tell me, Nana, are they worth it? These people that you’ve sacrificed your family to defend? Are they worth me?”
Winama opened her eyes and just stared at her granddaughter.
“Padmé, my little one…”
Padmé stepped away from her grip. “Choose now – me… or these Jedi.” Despite herself, Padmé shuddered at saying the name out loud. It was superstition but it was a powerful one that saying their name would send them coming.
Winama’s eyes actually widened at Padmé’s daring but she shook her head, “It’s not that simple. If you can only let me explain.”
“Padmé, please…” The old woman’s hands stretched despairingly for Padmé but she didn’t say a word – didn’t say the words that the little girl so desperately needed to hear. Winama’s hands hung empty for a long time.
Then they fell down in defeat. “Padmé.”
“No,” said Padmé, choking.
Then she turned on her heel and ran all the way back to the Jankerries’.
When she got home, Matol took one look at the girl and swept her into a hug. That was when Padmé realized that she had been crying all the way.
Guardian – Self-proclaimed protector of the Jedi occultists. Could be of any species of sentient. Usually not suffering from the hyper-chlorian abnormality that gives the Jedi their unnatural abilities. Still highly dangerous sentient, with strong connections and influence over widespread Jedi coven. The penalty for anyone professing to be a Guardian, training to be a Guardian or colluding with one is death.
Letter to my daughters
My darling Sola and Padmé
My little angels. If you are reading this, I know I must have already gone.
Matol Jankerrie closed the door gently behind her. She had barely walked down the corridor, when she heard the first sobs from Padmé’s room.
Winama stood by her window and watched the sixteen-year-old girl make her way to her house. She was old enough that when her heart stopped, it was not only figuratively. Love and fear warred within her. Was Padmé here for a reconciliation? Or was this a trap? It would not be the first time that a Guardian’s own family had betrayed her.
The doorbell rang and Winama went to open it at once. Betrayal or no, she could never turn her only living grandchild away.
Padmé stood at the door. She hadn’t grown any taller since Winama had seen her last at eleven. But she was clearly a young woman now. At first, she just looked to Winama like a distorted image of the late Sola. But then the old woman looked closely and suddenly, Ruwee, Jobal and even herself were suddenly staring at her from that face.
Emotions suffused Winama but she held them in check. There was no expression on Padmé’s face.
“Can I help you with something?” Winama asked. Her voice tried to be cool but it broke at the end.
Padmé just stared at her with that expressionless face.
Then she ran into her grandmother’s arms.
There was smoke, and there was fire. And her subconsciousness warned Padmé that she was going to die.
It is a pity to die, she decided in that place in her mind that was never fully awake or asleep. But everyone has to someday.
And it was good that the one last piece she had of that unfinished puzzle was a happy one…