I would like to welcome both Cibbler and BabaBiP-I never had a chance to say thanks to either of you for your kind comments, my apologies:)
Fear leads to anger.
Anger leads to hate.
Hate leads to suffering.
Sabe knew the ways of the Jedi; although of late she had heard nothing but outlandish tales of their sorecery and had dismissed most of them. She had always held a deep respect for the Jedi and their talent as healers, mediators and combatants. She had mourned them when they had been cut down. But their words had remained with her, suffused into her very being. It had become not merely an expression but a perception. They had changed the way she looked at the world. Sitting in the darkness of Amidala's hyperbaric chamber, Sabe felt a chill envelop her that had nothing to do with the temperature of the room. Although it had not seemed like it at the time, Sabe had come to realize that the Jedi had understood more of the soul than most other beings. They had understood that the capacity for love was both a great and treacherous thing. Left unchecked, unreciprocated, the desire for love could so easily become fear. Fear became anger. And hate. And it did lead to suffering.
A great deal of suffering.
Shaking herself, Sabe roused from her bedside vigil and stood to pace about the hyperbaric chamber slowly. The night Jamillia had taken office, she had fled to her lakeside retreat. It had been the last time she had seen Amidala at peace. After she had watched the Queen fade into retirement, Sabe had thrown herself eagerly into her life as a civilian. She'd embraced her education, enrolled at the university and attended full time classes with relish. She'd rejoined her family and friends, renewed many old relationships that she had allowed to fall by the wayside in light of her status as the Queen's decoy. She had been shocked to hear of Amidala's appointment as Senator; but had supported her decision. Deep down, Sabe had been secretly pleased that she had rejoined the political arena. Amidala was a shrewd politician and it was a boon for their people that she was to represent them.
Sabe rubbed her eyes wearily as she moved to the 'fresher and quickly filled herself a cup of water from the sink. She had remained outside of Amidala's service—but had kept in contact with Corde, Dorme and Verse who served her on Coruscant. She had mourned for Corde, when the handmaiden was killed in the first assassination attempt. And she had sympathized with both Dorme and Verse, who called infrequently to share their ever-mounting frustration with their mistress' antics in light of the infrequent attempts on her life. And then—there had been the attempt that had nearly cost Amidala her life. And the lives of her unborn children.
Setting her glass down, Sabe sank to her knees and leaned back against the cabinet, putting her head in her hands. She tried to ignore the way they trembled as the memory of the accident still rattled her.
"I'm home!" Sabe called cheerfully. Pulling her keycard out of the lock, she had stumbled into the shared apartment with an armload of books that she promptly dropped on the table.
"Sabe!" Ryloxa called urgently, and Sabe froze, for her unflappable roommate had never sounded upset before. "You have to see this!"
"What is it?" she'd asked breathlessly, racing down the hall to the small vid room. She had flopped down on the couch beside Ryloxa and stuggled to make sense of the image on the screen.
"There's been an explosion. They're saying it was Senator Amidala's shuttle." Ryloxa told her gently, and Sabe stared harder at it, trying to put the pieces into focus. It certainly looked like a J324 Nubian shuttle, but that didn't mean that it was her shuttle. There were lots of Nubian shuttles on Coruscant.
"What happened?" Sabe asked in a whisper, for her voice had failed her.
"They don't know. There's rumor of foul play…" Sabe no longer heard Ryloxa's voice, for her entire being was focused on the bold typeface words that appeared on the bottom of the screen and declared that Senator Amidala of Naboo's shuttle had been shot out of the sky. It had plummeted over sixty levels through busy evening traffic, but there was no word as yet on the condition of the Senator herself. Sabe jumped when her personal commlink suddenly vibrated, and she dug it out hurriedly to find Dorme was as white as a sheet.
"Sabe," She whispered, "I need you to come to Coruscant immediately. I need your help."
"What happened?" Sabe asked as she got to her feet and stumbled away from the grim wreckage of the shuttle, and the bickering of the newscasters. She staggered to the 'fresher, the only place in their small apartment that offered any privacy.
"I need you to come to Coruscant." Dorme repeated dumbly. Sabe sank down on the tiled floor and gripped the tiny screen with two hands.
"What happened to her?" Sabe hissed angrily. "Is she hurt, or—?" Sabe paused as she realized for the first time that Dorme might not have been calling only to tell her that Amidala was injured.
"She's alive, for now." Dorme looked suddenly old, and weary. "Her condition is far from stable."
"What is her status?" Sabe asked crisply; she had ever remained a vigilant handmaiden in service to her mistress.
Dorme sighed shakily, and sank down to sit on a bench nearby. "The shuttle was shot down around 0930. We have no idea what caused it. After the first shot took out the nav system, Lieutenant Piley tried to fly manually. The second shot destroyed the engines, and it started to go down. Typho went to the back and got her ready to evacuate, but it's so hard for her to move in her condition—"
"Condition?" Sabe demanded breathlessly, and Dorme's head jerked up sharply at what she had said. "What condition?"
Had Sabe not been sitting on the floor, she knew she'd have likely ended up there. As it was, her head was spinning. "How far along is she?"
"Is—did—" Sabe felt her lips moving but couldn't force the words past them. Dorme nodded gently, as she continued with her story. "Typho threw them both out of the shuttle and did his best to pick a good spot to land. Unfortunately, they missed the first platform and richoted down ten more."
Sabe let out a hiss as she hugged herself. "How badly was she hurt? What about the baby?"
"She suffered multiple severe injuries. Both legs broken, spinal trauma; there's a fracture at the base of her skull. Numerous contusions, some small burns, not to mention the inhalation of the smoke and gases from the explosion. Actually, it's the damage to her lungs that is most worrisome."
"It's all correctable with bacta immersion, right?" Sabe got to her feet; feeling for the first time that she was back on firm ground.
"They can't immerse her."
"Why not?" she demanded angrily.
"She's carrying twins."
Sabe felt the air whoosh out of her lungs and she leaned against the countertop once more. "Twins?"
"She didn't know. None of us did. They're doing their best, Sabe. The Chancellor has seen to it that she will receive the best care available. But I know she would benefit from having you at her side." Dorme twisted her hands together shyly and looked up at the camera. "They're going to try to allow the twins to remain in utero for as long as possible. But if they have to induce—Sabe, I can't do it alone."
Sabe nodded numbly, forgetting that Dorme could not see her face. "I'll be there as soon as possible." she whispered. She scarcely heard Dorme's warm gratitude as she closed the commlink with a snap. She stared into the mirror blankly for a moment until Ryloxa's face appeared beside her own. She started then, and looked down to where her hands clenched the marbled countertop.
"What happened?" she asked gently.
Sabe clenched her jaw; she knew that Ryloxa meant well, but it was deeply ingrained in her to maintain her mistress' privacy above all else. "I have to get to Coruscant."
Sabe had hurriedly thrown her luggage together and boarded a Royal cruiser to Coruscant that Queen Apailiana had been kind enough to offer. Sabe had eagerly taken her up on it. Amidala was revered on Naboo, and a dear friend and mentor to Apailiana. Of the two day journey itself, she remembered nothing. She had spent her time aboard the ship taking care of her affairs back home; giving notice on her apartment, withdrawing from her classes, paying bills. Dorme had met her as her ship had touched down, and had guided her quickly through the blinding throngs of paparazzi to the armored shuttle awaiting them.
"How is she?" Sabe asked as the door was closed, and Dorme met her eyes fully.
"No change, thus far. She has been able to hold the twins, thankfully. They've set her legs and treated her burns."
"Has she awakened?" Sabe asked bluntly, and sighed when Dorme shook her head.
"No. I'm not sure if they're keeping her sedated."
"You should have asked." Sabe bit her lip as Dorme looked crestfallen. "I'm sorry, I know you've been here doing the best you could."
"I haven't spoken with her family." Dorme admitted. "They've called, and I'm not certain what to tell them."
"Do they know she's pregnant?"
"They do now." Dorme pointed out sourly. "Some Holonet reporter leaked it, and it's been everywhere."
"We'll have to tell her family something. They'll be on the next transport out if they're not already."
The shuttle began spiraling down to a distant landing platform, and Sabe jumped as an X wing flew by her window in a standard flight plan.
"When did we pick up an escort?" she asked in confusion.
"The Chancellor assigned them to us. To milady. She's under armed guard and surveillance at the hospital. He'll take no chances with her safety."
"I meant to ask, what happened to Captain Typho?"
"He was badly injured as well." Dorme reported. "They've put him in a bacta tank, and he should be ready to come out again sometime tomorrow."
"I suppose with bacta treatment he'll make a full recovery?" Sabe asked.
"He should. His physicians are certainly hopeful of one."
As the shuttle landed, Dorme and Sabe got to their feet and slid out the opened door. It seemed strange, Sabe decided, to travel with all the power and prestige of the Senator's office when she herself was not present. They moved through the sterile corridors of the hospital and hurried to Amidala's private room on the third floor. As Dorme had already pointed out, security was tight. Both handmaidens showed i.d. and were waved through. Despite Dorme's repeated warnings, Sabe sucked in a breath when she saw Amidala's broken form lying on the bed.The hiss from the ventilator revealed she was intubated, and where the tubes did not obscure her face bandages swathed it. Both legs had been splinted and hung suspended above the end of the bed. Although there were no bandages on her arms, she was mottled with bruises that were every color in the spectrum. Oddly, the only part of that seemed to have been left alone was her belly; where the twins rested unaware of their precarious existence. Sabe reached out with a gentle hand and put a hand atop her protruding stomach. Beneath her touch, one of the twins rolled and kicked. Feeling close to tears, Sabe closed her eyes and removed her hand slowly.
Dorme had removed her cloak and sank down in a seat near the head of the bed. She took Amidala's limp hand and cradled it securely within her own and whispered that Sabe had come to join them at last.
"Has she responded at all?" Sabe asked crisply as she moved to the other side of the bed and took Amidala's other hand to press a gentle kiss to it.
"No." Dorme admitted sadly.
Leaning over the Senator, Sabe inspected the bandages wound about her head carefully, and then looked up in horror.
"Did they shave her hair off?"
"Yes."Dorme nodded, and wrapped her arms about herself tightly.
"All of it?"Sabe asked incredulously. She supposed it had been necessary, but it was terrible all the same.
"I believe so. I know when she first arrived they made short work of her clothing, and wasted no time rushing her in for body scans. By the time I got here, they had sent her up for surgery. I came as soon as I could." Dorme added hurriedly, when Sabe's expression soured.
"I know you did." Sabe soothed, and held out a hand for Dorme. "When did you last sleep?"
Dorme shook her head wearily. "Three days ago."
"I think you should go get some rest then. I'll stay with her for now." Sabe gave the other handmaiden a small smile. Dorme nodded, and got to her feet slowly. She shuffled toward a cot that had been placed in the corner. Flopping down on it bonelessly, Dorme put a hand over her eyes and seemed to fall asleep immediately.
Sabe sank down into Dorme's chair and stared silently at Amidala's prone form. The burns and bruises were slowly diminishing, as the bacta that had been spread over them did their job. She could only hope the remainder of her injuries would heal as easily. Sighing shakily, Sabe kissed her hand again and sat down on the edge of the bed cautiously. Studying Amidala carefully, Sabe could see a small chain about her neck beneath the flimsy hospital gown. Sliding a finger under it, she lifted the chain free and studied the small wooden pendant. It was hewn by hand, roughmade but smooth to the touch. The symbols carved into the wood were indecipherable; being neither Nubian nor Basic in origin. With a flash of insight, Sabe recalled young Anakin Skywalker had made the gift for Amidala while on Tatooine ten years earlier.
Shaking her head, Sabe was unable to stop the smile from spreading on her face.
"You are a lucky woman, milady." She whispered softly.
Sabe had no recollection of falling asleep, but she woke to find a young nurse standing before her. Sitting up groggily, Sabe started to apologize but found the nurse shaking her head.
"It's all right. I hoped not to wake you, but the surgeon would like to talk to you." she whispered. "And besides, I should change some of her dressings." Casting a look to Dorme, who was still sound asleep in the cot, she raised an eyebrow inquiringly.
"My name is Sabe. I was once a handmaiden to the Senator, years ago. Dorme asked for my help." Sabe stood and stretched, and the nurse nodded.
"Dr. Tesplaev is waiting for you in the hall." She said simply, and Sabe hurried to the door. The surgeon was a balding, middle-aged man who looked as weary as she felt. He smiled wanly at her, and gestured for her to join him in a small lounge. As she sank into the seat, he poured a cup of caf and offered it to her.
"Thank you." Sabe took the cup and breathed deeply. The caf was thick and gritty, but she drank it gratefully nonetheless.
"I assume you are part of Senator Amidala's entourage?" the physician asked as he took his own cup and sank wearily into the seat across from her.
"Yes, I was one of her handmaidens while she served as Queen. Dorme called and asked for my assistance." Sabe explained, swirling the dregs of her caf absently.
"I am of Naboo as well." the doctor admitted quietly. "She saved my family during the invasion."
"She saved many lives." Sabe said.
"Indeed." The doctor shifted uncomfortably as he drained his caf in one go. "Her injuries are severe, which I'm sure you know. We have splinted her legs, and I believe the fractures will heal quickly. We've also dealt with the worst of her burns and cuts. The remaining injuries are what concern me most, frankly. The spinal trauma is luckily nothing more than bruising, really. But the fracture to the base of her skull has prompted some bleeding. We're pushing medication to try and stop the bleeding, and we'll need to operate to ease some of the pressure on the area. I believe if we can alleviate the swelling, this will reverse itself with no further complications."
Sabe nodded, meeting his gaze steadily. "What of the damage to her lungs?"
"We have her intubated for the moment. They were badly damaged, both by the gasses in the explosion, and two separate punctures from her fall. In light of her multiple serious injuries, we simply opted to treat her other wounds first. Once she has been stabilized and the bleeding has stopped, we will begin treatment."
"And the twins?"
"They have come through this incident extremely well, considering the circumstances. Both heartbeats are normal, and neither infant seems to be in distress. However, it will be a long and difficult surgery to correct the fracture to her skull. It might be best if we were to simply perform a cesaerian and minimize the stress for both the children and their mother." The physician stared at her levelly, and Sabe sighed.
"I do not know if I am authorized to make such a decision."
"You are, Sabe." Dorme chimed in from the doorway. "You were named in her dossier."
"Long ago—" Sabe began to argue, but paused when Dorme shook her head adamantly.
"She never removed you."
"What of her family?" Sabe asked expectantly. "I know that they are likely on the list as well, and their desire must surely supercede my own."
"I don't believe so. Milady loves her family, but has confided in me on numerous occasions that she does not trust them to make a rational decision where she is concerned." Dorme crossed her arms and leaned against the doorframe. Biting her lip, Sabe studied her folded hands anxiously. After a long moment, she looked up and met the physician's gaze earnestly.
"I give my permission for milady to undergo a c-section." she said formally. "I will be in the room with her."
"I can't—" the physician began, and Sabe shook her head adamantly.
"I will be in the room, or no procedure will take place."
"Very well." He conceded, and got to his feet. "I will make the arrangements."