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The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Fic: The Hidden Face--Prologue: The Kavenya
Well, I started out writing a story of Padmé coming to Tatooine again after TPM, trying and failing to buy Shmi, and then talking to her for awhile, during which time she learned a bit about Shmi's culture, and found the basis for Leia's name (I would have done Luke's later). It was Padmé looking for the honorific I was asking about. But I realized as I wrote it that the whole thing was likely to be nothing but a frame for a story I started two or three years ago on the TFN forums and never finished, and that was the story I really meant to tell. So I'm going to post what I had of that (in digestable sections, I hope), and maybe later write a frame where Padmé learns at least parts of it. Telos of Crion is from Jude Watson's JA books, in which his son, Xanatos, was Qui-Gon's first padawan.

EDIT IN: I've added chapter 1 above, and will keep track of the story at the Table of Contents.

Prologue: The Kavenya

Coruscant, in the dying years of the Old Republic.

The holocams floated around the Senate on their appointed rounds, but today's business would hardly rate a broadcast. No one in the vast Republic cared to hear Outer Rim merchants submitting petitions for enforcement of trade laws, or to hear their Core Worlds suppliers scoff. It was dreary, workaday business, and even most of the Senators didn't particularly care about it.

Crion of Telos was in a particularly vile mood--the Jedi had refused to allow him to visit his son, an apprentice in their Order, even though it was the first time they had been on the same planet in five years--but he had been called by his government to speak on this issue, and speak on it, he would, even if no one was listening. He had their tacit support when it came time to vote.

"Your graces," the young woman from... well, whatever Outer Rim hole she'd said she'd crawled out of... said, "it is imperative that the Republic divert resources to enforcing the laws against piracy. The trade economy is threatened throughout the sector, and the smaller merchants are in fear of their very lives. Pirates steal our merchandise, but that is the least of it. Crews have been slaughtered, or taken into slavery--a practice which I would remind your eminences has been against the laws of the Republic for centuries. We have no droid armies or heavily shielded gunships. We have only faith in the Republic, that it will serve its people and defend them against these bands of outlaws."

There was some muted applause from the woman's compatriots.

Crion signalled for recognition, and as soon as it came through, the box was released upward toward the center of the Senate Dome. When he reached the center level, across from the Chancellor's box, he turned on his broadcaster.

"Senators, delegates, I am Crion of Telos, a simple merchant of the class my esteemed colleague claims to represent."

There were whispers; it wasn't unusual for guests to address the Senate, but it was rare for them to show disdain for Senators. It was a risky approach, but Crion knew that most of the Senators were weary of the issue, and wanted to get it over with. They would hardly care that he, in fact, tended to remain on Telos and send his employees out with shipments, guarded by gunships in his own fleet. The point of the matter was that he had seen to this defense himself, not begged the rest of the galaxy to see to it for him.

"It is true that these lawless creatures are common along the trade routes, and certainly they have made a nuisance of themselves, but we most certainly do not... how was it put?... live in fear of our very lives. Most of us know how to handle a blaster, and have always looked after our own defense. We are burdened already with heavy regulations and complicated diplomatic procedures. I see no scenario in which further interference by the galactic government would be anything but a further burden to us. We can take of ourselves. There is no need to coddle us."

He could see a few heads nodding vigorously. The Neimoidian delegate from the Trade Federation actually stood and clapped. The senator from Naboo--a young man named Palpatine, who always seemed to find a tasteful, understated place in prominent committees--caught his eye and nodded soberly.

Crion opened his arms to his audience. "No one knows better than a merchant that money is not an unlimited resource. There are so many in the Republic in need. Plague has ravaged the world of Tynna. Earthquakes continue to shatter the cities of Ampinua. Famine is rampant on Corellia. All of these worlds need the resources of the Republic. We merchants do not. Please, Senators... use good sense, and put the credits where the need really is."

He smiled. It was a winning smile, he knew. There was no applause, no outpouring of support, but Crion nevertheless knew that when the vote was called, more vital uses for Senate funds would be found. Most of those who had been leaning toward harsh enforcement were doing so out of fuzzy-headed sentimentality, and if they could place it with the starving children on Corellia instead of the traveling merchants of the Rim, they would be perfectly happy. It would make for better holos, anyway.

When the Senate broke for its afternoon meal, Crion didn't bother pretending that he meant to stay for the arguments. The Senator from Telos, a bland but capable man named Demodocus, would be able to handle it from here.

Instead, he gathered up his things and returned to the walkway near the Jedi Temple, watching, hoping for a view of his son. As the sun set, a young man with short-cropped hair and a long braid came out to him and asked him politely to leave. Doing so seemed eminently reasonable for nearly an hour, until Crion was back in his apartments, looking over the city at the Temple's spire, and he understood that the condescending boy had mind-tricked him.

Damn you, then, he thought, raising his hand to block the spire off the skyline. I damn you all today.

The freighter Kavenya, en route from Barabi to Ryloth. One month later.

Inazkai, the Day of Faces, was Shmi Skywalker's favorite holiday.

It was better at home, where everyone in Valshir came out for parades, wearing their tor-inaz, their god-faces, and dancing in the streets. Shmi had won the children's mask contest twice in a row, when she was eight and nine, and she wore the luck charms she'd been given on a twine bracelet.

But even here on the Kavenya, Inazkai was great fun. Mama wore the Zhera-in, the face of the Comforter-goddess Zhera. Papa had picked an Oreld-in, in honor of the merchant-god ("It may not help," he joked, "but it can't hurt").

The ten Skywalker children--at fourteen, Shmi was the oldest--had spent the week making all the tor-inaz from bits of packing material and circuits from broken merchandise. ("Why throw it out?" Mama had asked after the last raid. "We can find a way to use it." And they had; they always did.) Once the masks were built, nine-year-old Jeztiz, who had a steady hand and a good eye, had painted them with the signs of the gods, from the cradle of Zhera to the gold pieces of Oreld to the firebolt of Anak, the protector. They looked wonderful. Jeztiz had started repainting all the speeders and swoops in Papa's inventory this year, and customers always looked delighted at them.

The masks were lined up along the counter during the meal, glowing a cool blue in the light of the autopilot monitor, and the littler children (especially five-year-old Gorish) were looking over at them eagerly as the family laughed its way through dessert.

"All right, children!" Mama said, standing up and wiping cream from baby Frayin's nose. "All right, have we all had enough to eat? Maybe I should make more vegetables!"

Loud dissent, loudest of all from Papa.

"Masks!" Jeztiz called. "It's face-time!" He got up and ran to the counter, scanning the masks he'd made as though they were in a shop window and he was trying to decide which one to buy. His cloudy blue eyes flashed like lightening in an oncoming storm, and he smiled his impish smile. The moment passed without comment--it was just Jeztiz being Jeztiz--but that eager smile and those flashing eyes would remain with Shmi for the rest of her life, the single image that somehow held inside of itself the world she would lose forever less than an hour later.

Papa laughed. "All right. Pick your faces."

The children all rushed to the counter (Shmi tried for a dignified walk, but she was caught between Taruna and Ozpak and carried along with the tide).

Jeztiz grabbed the Anak-in before anyone else got there. No big surprise there--he loved Anak's dance and had been practicing it all week. The twins, Emalin and Etrisin, picked their namesakes (the sower and the reaper); Reisi chose the face of the beauty goddess, the Gur-in. Shmi grabbed a mask at random. As the eldest, she was expected to let the littler ones have the most fun. Her hand pulled up a gray confection, made from speeder trim, with the sign of the lock and key--the Leil-in, the face the of the hidden god.

The littler ones snatched up the colorful faces of the friendship gods and celebration gods, and Jeztiz pulled one last tor-in from a bag beneath the counter. It was white with the sunrise sign drawn on it, and he'd made it from cloth instead of light metal. His smile brightly visible beneath the elaborate Anak-in, he brought it over to baby Frayin and placed it on her face. She gurgled back at him. "That's the Kroa-in," he told her importantly. "The face for babies. Now you can dance, too, Fray!"

Frayin had no idea what was going on, but Jeztiz was her favorite, just as he was Shmi's, and she caught that he was happy, and clapped her hands delightedly. Jeztiz plucked her out of the seat and sat down on the floor with her.

While they'd been choosing masks, Mama and Papa had moved the table to clear the floor, and Papa now sat in the chair at the center. It didn't really matter which parent told the tales, but in Shmi's family, it had always been Papa. Mama said she didn't have the heart to spoil the holiday for him. Shmi was glad--she loved Papa's low, soft voice, the way it rolled around the freighter like distant thunder.

"The galaxy shows us many faces," he said, as soon as all of the children were sitting down. It was the traditional opening of the tale-telling. "It shows us the face of mercy, the face of justice, the face of love, and the face of anger. One day each year, on the day the universe was created, we give form to the faces. But all the faces are one face, and all dances are one dance. As we dance, we thank the universe for all its gifts."

Emalin, who liked music, started the syncopated clapping that went along with the stories, and the others joined her as soon as the rhythms came back into their heads. Mama sang the traditional background melody on the nonsense words tira, tira, li, tira, tira lo. Reisi, who never remembered the real words, sang along with her.

Shmi dropped down beside Jeztiz and slipped an arm across his shoulders as Papa called the names of the sower and the reaper, and the twins got up to do the traditional steps. "Good job," she whispered. "I love my Leil-in."

Jeztiz smiled even more broadly, and nestled in against her side. "I like the Leil story," he said. "With the veils and the caves and everything."

Shmi tightened her arm in a little squeeze of a hug. She knew perfectly well that he liked the Anak story best--how the galaxy's soul had shown its protector face at the beginning of things, and defended the children of light against the children of darkness. But she also knew that all stories delighted him.

The twins had finished, and Papa went on to sing about Gur, the beauty goddess, and Reisi went through the fluttery motions of that dance.

When she finished, he called out Leil, and Shmi got to her feet.

"Leil, Leil,
called in silence,
called in grief..."

Shmi began by kneeling so her mask was tilted to the floor. She rose as Papa's voice rose.

"Leil, Leil,
hidden well
and hidden deep..."

The steps of Leil's dance were simple, and Shmi barely needed to think about them. She just let herself glide about the room, her arms offering gestures of comfort.

"Leil who is found
When all else is lost..."

Shmi caught Mama's eye and was rewarded with a smile, then pivoted to face Papa, who just kept intoning the rhyme.

"Leil, the true hope,
When we have paid the cost."

The clapping and the tira-li, tira-los went on, and Shmi went through the stylized movements that told the story of the hidden goddess, the one who was found in her secret place when all the galaxy's other faces disappeared. Then her part was over, and she bowed playfully to her siblings.

Jeztiz went next, as Papa called for "Anak, Anak, strong of arm and fierce of sword." That dance was more energetic, and Jeztiz leaped with the rhythm of the clapping. He looked like he might really leave the pull of the artificial gravity, and walk in the sky as the family's name whispered.

"Anak, the protector," Papa finished, "The fire of the light."

Emalin signaled to speed up the clapping, making Jeztiz move his feet faster and faster to keep up. Shmi watched him happily, her hands stinging from clapping. He seemed like something of another world...

At least until Emalin took the clapping one step too far. The rhythm became too fast, and Jeztiz's able feet tangled, spilling him onto the floor. Mama gave Emalin a sharp look, but once the tales began, they had to be finished without interruption, so the clapping simply slowed as Jeztiz got up and made his way back to Shmi's side. He didn't look any the worse for wear, but he was looking despondently at his mask. The Anak-in had fallen and a bit of the lower part was pulled away from the main body. "I should go fix it," he said. "Before the games."

"You stay and hear the stories," Shmi said. "I know you love them. I'll take care of it."

Jeztiz kissed her and handed her the mask, then his eyes went back to Papa, who was singing Taruna through the story of Hezik, the goddess of the wind. She stopped at the door to the lounge, not really knowing why. They were beginning to laugh together as Taruna got her steps mixed up beyond recognizability. Jeztiz was already up, helping her through, and the twins were whispering between themselves, with little Varei looking up from the level of their knees. Mama had picked up Frayin, with her little mask, and was pretending to move her through the dance.

Shmi smiled at them, then slipped into the quiet corridors, hoping to fix the mask quickly and get back to the celebration. They had put the masks together in the playroom, two levels down from the family lounge, and most of the supplies were still there. She fixed the Anak-in quickly but carefully (she had a knack for fixing little things), and clamped it to hold while the sealers dried and solidified it.

She was looking for something to do while she waited when the Kavenya was ripped out of hyperspace with a bone-crunching jerk.

The game shelf tipped over, spilling a village full cheerful characters onto the floor. It fell across the doorway, blocking the way.

Then the alarms began to bray.

"Papa!" she shouted, scrambling as well as she could over the rubble, but there was no answer. The ship was jolted again, rudely, and she was thrown backward into the toychest.

Something clamped onto the hull.

From above, she heard Papa's voice, yelling at the little ones to get further into the ship, to hide, but they were screaming, and Shmi couldn't hear them leaving.

Something screeched, metal on metal, then the ship lurched again, like a giant child was tossing it impatiently from hand to hand. Mama screamed.

It was all Shmi heard. She didn't hear the supply crates shifting behind her, and when they fell, striking her between her shoulder blades, she had no notion what hit her.

She grayed out.


nodmuch. waistoftaim, isay. whatterthaycellin, anyway?

Something crashed against the wall, and fell down beside Shmi's face. A mask. The Anak-in, still in its mending clamp. Heavy boots were tramping through the broken games.


kidstuff. jaseeyem upthere? mustabin aduzzen ovem.

Shmi reached out slowly and wrapped her fingers around the Anak-in. She had no reason for it, except that it was familiar, and she was suddenly more frightened than she had ever been in her life. She couldn't seem to move more than a millimeter or two at a time.

The room was filled with a smoky haze, and she could see two humans--giants, she thought--walking around with shadow halos. They were speaking Basic, Shmi thought. An ugly language she'd never been able to follow in school, and had been glad to drop when Papa had brought them out into the travelways.

messilittelthins, arntay?

One of the giants turned, bent down. He reached out an arm toward Shmi.




The other giant came over. Shmi couldn't see their faces through the smoke, but she could tell by the way they were leaning that they were looking at her.

bizimama, one said and laughed.


Both giants appeared to think about whatever question was asked, then the one that seemed to be in charge shook his head.

na. sheezoldern dothers. betsheez priddytu, whenshee heelzup. wecoodcellar.

The leader grabbed Shmi's arm and pushed something heavy off her back, something she hadn't realized was there.


Shmi fought for her footing. Her legs seemed to be responding slowly, and her knees felt weak.

iasctyu akweschin!

The hand shook her violently. That's right. A question. He asked a question. Shmi didn't know what the question had been, let alone how to answer it. She raised her head to look him in the eye. He was young, but he looked mean. "Where's my Papa?" she asked.

The two men--not giants, not now that she was upright--looked at each other, and they looked surprised.

sheeduzzint speek--


That was the one holding Shmi's arm. He jerked her forward, and her legs buckled. Her knees landed in broken toys, and she could see them starting to bleed. The pain hit a minute later. Her feet and hands were starting to tingle. She wrapped her fingers more tightly around the mask.


She didn't need to know the exact words to get the impression. She forced herself to her wobbly feet. The one with her arm shrugged.


They pushed her out the door into the corridor. The smoke was clearing now, and Shmi could see five or six other pirates in the rooms to the side, rifling through Papa's inventory.

The fear that had paralyzed her a moment ago ripped up through her like a knife. "Where is my Papa?" she begged. Her voice echoed against the walls. "Oh, please, where is my Papa?"

wats sheewant?

The one dragging her laughed about something. imbettin sheeseezit ina minnet.

They pushed her up the narrow stairway that led toward the lounge, and Shmi suddenly wanted to be anywhere else in the galaxy. The mask cut into her hand, but she couldn't make herself loosen her grip.

Diswhat yuwant? the dragger asked her as he pushed her out into the room. Disaboutit?

Shmi's legs gave way and she fell forward, the same despairing pose that began Leil's dance. She couldn't see what she was seeing, couldn't look.

Her head was yanked back hard enough to hurt her neck, and her eyes opened involuntarily.


Shmi couldn't have answered even if she'd understood the question and known the way to answer it in Basic. A scream was caught in her throat, and she couldn't breathe around it.

Papa was lying on his stomach, his blaster in one outstretched hand, a burn hole the size of a dinner plate in the middle of his back. Mama was crouched in the corner, her face turned away. Blood had soaked her white holiday dress, and the Zhera-in had fallen off to one side. Shmi wanted to not see the little hand that was draped lifelessly over Mama's knee, but now that her eyes were open, she couldn't shut them. The twins and Reisi had hidden behind the counter, but it hadn't hidden them for long. The little ones...

The first part of the scream came in a hitching whine, and the man who had Shmi's arm slapped her across the face.


A sharp pain in her hand distracted her long enough to take in a gulp of air around the bottled scream. The Anak-in had finally broken the skin on two of her fingers, and when she looked down at it, a drop of blood was sliding down across the firebolt.


She didn't see Jeztiz anywhere.

Please, she prayed to the face that was all the faces. Please let him be hiding well.

SEVREEWON? The hand on her arm jerked her to face him. Ansermee.

I won't tell, she thought. I won't tell. And when they leave, Jeztiz can get away. He can stay hidden. I will be the protector this time. I will be Anak this time, and he will be Leil.

Another sharp blow drove her to the floor, and this time she felt something crack.

The Leil-in.

She was still wearing it.

She saw a shadow above her, the pirate's arm raised to strike again. She braced herself and then there was a blur of motion from the corner.

"Leave my sister alone!"

Shmi looked up to see her favorite brother, a sharp dinner knife in his talented hands, rushing forward, not needing the mask--for that moment Jeztiz Skywalker was Anak-in, was the face of the protector.

But Shmi had his bloody sign in her hand; the power was with her, not with him.

The scream came out. "Jeztiz, no!"

He didn't even pause. The knife came down on the wrist of the man holding her, spraying the lower part of her face with something warm she didn't want to think about, and then there was a ferocious blast of light, coming from four directions, and Shmi felt Jeztiz fall against her. They slid together to the floor. He took two shallow breaths. His clothes were smoking from the laser blasts.




"I know." Shmi took the mask she had been holding to so tightly, and placed it lightly in his hand. "Anak, protector," she whispered. "Strong arm and fierce of sword."

He tried to move it to his face, but she stopped him. No one should die with his face covered.

He smiled horribly, then slipped away.

One of the pirates grabbed her hair and pulled her up.


She was pulled out of the broken room, through a hole in the hull where a temporary joining had been made. Pirates bustled around her, carrying Papa's merchandise. He would have handed it over. He always said he would hand over anything to keep the children safe.

They'd never asked.

Couldn't they have asked?

The tears came in a wild shriek, and she couldn't stop them even when the pirate with the bloodied, useless hand shoved her to the floor of their ship and yelled at her to kuddidout. She kept shrieking as they pushed her into a cargo hold, and screamed as they locked her into a cage she couldn't stand up in. It went on even after they left her there alone, and didn't stop until her throat was too raw to go on, and she curled herself into a ball in the corner of the cage, weeping silently until sleep finally took her away, the Leil-in pressing its harsh comfort into the soft flesh of her cheek.


9 comments or Leave a comment
malabud From: malabud Date: June 26th, 2005 08:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, this is intriguing. You leave a lot of unanswered questions, but they entice the reader to want to know more. What connection does Crion have with the pirates? What language did Shmi speak, and did she teach it to Anakin? We know he spoke Huttese and Basic and probably understood the Jawas, but who knows beyond that? I like the origins of Leia's and Anakin's names, but then, where does Luke come from? Your interpretation of how Shmi hears the sounds of Basic was interesting and certainly plausible. Did she ever tell her son about her parents and siblings?

Like I said, lots of questions. I expect a lot of these will be answered in the course of the story. I wait in anticipation for more.

I only have a small quibble with what you've got so far. I always assumed that Shmi (and presumably her parents, grandparents, and so forth) was a Tatooine native because of the Skywalker surname. Many Tatooine humans seem to have compound surnames, which we don't find anywhere else: Skywalker, Whitesun, Darklighter, etc.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 26th, 2005 09:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, Anakin had only been there since he was three, according to TPM. "Skywalker" may be a Basic translation of whatever language she's speaking here. (I may take her home away from Valshir, which is on a world I made called La'azum, and leave it vague.) I assumed she learned both Basic and Huttese as a slave, and neither is her native language, thus handily accounting for her Swedish accent. They come from the planet Stockholm. :p

Luke's name would be from some other story, if I ever finish this one. Probably Naboo origin, something from Padmé's family, altered as "Leia" is from "Leil."

I don't know if we'll see Crion again--he did his damage when he stopped the Senate from giving more protection to the trade routes--but we might. I don't know. I'm mostly going to take it through Anakin's birth until the two of them are sold to Gardulla the Hutt.
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fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 26th, 2005 09:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yup. There just aren't enough Shmi stories out there for my taste, so I guess I'd better do it myself. ;)
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fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 27th, 2005 12:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Xanatos, I assure you, is not going to be making any surprise appearances. :p Crion was useful to set the tone of danger to merchants from pirates, and the Senate doing nothing because of interest groups pushing it to be apathetic. As with all things EU, I don't let dislike stop me if it seems useful at the time!
espresso_rabbit From: espresso_rabbit Date: June 27th, 2005 04:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, for the record, I'd be interested in reading the thing with Padme talking to Shmi, if you ever get around to it.

I love how you have the names here--very nifty. I love knowing what names mean in general, and I like how you gave him something that fits and tied it in with Leia, giving her a name that fits. Makes me want to know what Luke means in whatever language it happens to be in. I mean, it could mean the same thing it means in English, but that would just be boring. And I also liked how Shmi hears the pirates speaking Basic, though it did slow me down a bit.

I'm kinda rambling...there were a few images here that I really liked, particularly Shmi describing Jeztiz, because I could see her being constantly reminded of him by Anakin, both through the name and physically.

Also, this is as good a time as any... I had avoided reading "Family Portrait" because I had no interest in reading about an EU character (to be fair to me, I never saw that it was gen when it was on TFN) but I started seeing recs for it everywhere after ROTS came out, so I gave in. You have to stop writing these stories that suck me in so much :) One of the things I love most in SW is the relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan (the other being between Luke and Vader, which began my obsession with fictional fathers and sons) and you did really good with it. I actually had lots I liked about it, but I can't think of anything coherent to say right now, and I've already rambled enough, so I will just stop here.

In short: yay for you. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 27th, 2005 05:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you. :)

I probably will add the frame story before I would submit to TFN or anything, but I want to make myself go through this part first. Padmé and Shmi talking is mostly Padmé and Shmi sitting around and talking... needs some flashback interruptions. ;)
stephantom From: stephantom Date: June 28th, 2005 02:03 am (UTC) (Link)
This is wonderful. I haven't come across any fics about Shmi, or even Anakin's early childhood for that matter. But maybe I haven't looked hard enough. Anyway, I'm thrilled that you're doing it. I know it will be a great story. I loved what you've written so far. I liked that you gave Shmi a big family. And Jeztiz was a great OC. So tragic. I'm sure Anakin would remind her of him. The explanation for the origin of his name was very cool. Also the explanation for Shmi's accent (I had wondered about that... but then, I've also wondered how Obi-Wan can be British and Mace American, etc. if they were all raised in the Temple... heh, oh well.) Also, he juxtaposition of the distanced, beuracratic Senate meeting with the tragedy here was great; if Anakin hears this story from his mother, it adds a lot of weight to the political ideas he expresses later. Anyway, great story. Hope to see more sometime soon!
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: June 23rd, 2006 11:27 am (UTC) (Link)
I was re-reading your lj star wars stories and I had a rerun with this one. I know you don't really write in the star wars fandom again, but I'd be very interested in that 'frame' story you mentioned - Padme trying to buy back Shmi.
9 comments or Leave a comment