A/N: Hello readers! I think what I'm going to do is have my latest update always be the last chapter, and older chapters would be reordered to fit with the chronological scheme of the entire story. This chapter takes place after "Explanation." By the way, if you are wondering who Karce is, don't worry. His character will be introduced in the future. Special thanks to AndrossKenobi and Olen jedi ikuisesti for their feedback!
One more thing, this is my first attempt at what I call a "hybrid chapter." I have several things set in motion in one chapter. How did I do? Does this work or is it too choppy? Please let me know!
Self-inserts often neglect… that sometimes you aren't alone, and sometimes the person you're stuck with isn't your best friend (alas).
I don't own Basic, data cards, or anything else retaining to Star Wars. I do own Umay and and Corwin's character.
Pick a planet, any planet. This was the first time I ever officially lied to anyone about my origin. Until now, I've been dodging those pesky health care workers with ambiguity and flat out ignoring them. Still, Raia wasn't a far away health care worker; she's my social networking neighbor. I need a lie, a good solid lie that I could stick to and hide behind time and time again.
I was browsing through the index of planets that have been drawn into the clone wars. In the six months it has raged, the numbers have mushroomed. Even limiting it to the first three months, which was all I could use because that's when they first found me in the pantry closet, the number of planets I could have fled from were still high.
So, pick a planet, any planet. Easy, right? Okay, if you know better than that, obviously you are smarter than me. I have very specific criteria. The area I claim to be from needs to be low tech and uneducated in order to explain why I'm so darn clueless about everything. It needs to be relatively unknown, so that I can pass off my quirks such as writing Basic with a Latin alphabet. It needs to hold enough humans so that in theory there can be a population with no non-human sentient species, seeing as how I still can't seem to make myself stop gapping every time I step in public and see a Reptilian speaking with an Aquatic being. Yeash. It would especially be helpful if the area I picked was relatively unknown, for any other complication I might run into.
If this task wasn't hard enough, I still read at a snail's pace. It was starting to get somewhat manageable, but I was still making extensive use of the audio features.
All of this, my friends, is what was causing me a headache. "Not enough conflict, too much technology, way too much information," I muttered to myself. Things were starting to look pretty grim. If only I hadn't told Raia that I was a refugee from the Clone Wars, then I could have said I was a refugee from an outer rim or wild space planet that no one has ever heard about for any other reason... though this could potentially cause more trouble, I suppose, from those that are hungry for research.
Like Karce. Darn you Karce, and your abundant education combined with your persistence. How was I supposed to find a lie good enough to get him off my back?
I rose stiffly, hobbling towards the giant windows. Floor to ceiling, they let in the orange glow of the Coruscanti sunset, a shower of lights from buildings and vehicles gradually becoming more evident. It felt good to be able to actually see the time of day, instead of having to rely on artificial mechanisms. What originally drew me away from the underground wasn't the pretty views, it was the content. It's a sector regional library, offering far more content on the planets I was rummaging through than the local library one would usually find me in.
Making a mental note to come up here again, I headed for the door. The Coruscant underground was pretty much equally dangerous no matter what time of day you traverse it. Closer to the sky, these things matter more, and I wanted to take advantage of safer travels while I still could.
I shuffled towards the computer, reluctant to tear myself from the stunning view. That's when I ran into these articles, the chronicles of the other Umay. I groaned, initial shock countered by the shear amount of junk I encountered. The sky was turning dark quicker than I had hoped, as I rested my head to the side of the public computes.
I couldn't believe it, here amongst the holonet's equivalent of newspapers and magazines, a decade outdated, was the one who was without a doubt my great aunt. The holograms even depicted the protruding chin that seemed so dominant on my mother's side.
In both name and information, I knew that this was the woman from my childhood stories.
Exhausted from research, even if internally energized, I gathered the data cards and started towards the sentient who watched the library tonight. As he entered typed a few keys with his elongate fingers, I couldn't help but to notice the librarian was armed with a hefty looking club on his side. The underworld I could understand, but here? Perhaps the war has made him paranoid too. Corwin keeps urging me to get a gun, now that I think about it. "You okay?" the librarian questioned.
I didn't know whether to be irritated or grateful. "I'm fine," I stated, trying to sound even. I looked down and noticed my hands. They were pale and trembling.
I headed out, self-conscious of the data cards that weighed in my pockets. Thoughts swirled through my mind, and I knew I wouldn't be getting much sleep that night.
Turns out, I'm not the first one in my family to get stuck in a Galaxy Far Far Away. Sadly, when I had delved deeper into the articles, my worst fears had been confirmed. She spent years in an insane asylum for criminals, still carefully watched even when she finally got out.
The one down side to coming up to enjoy this beautiful, well equipped library: it was a relatively long commute home. It takes me a total of three train rides and catching a bunch of elevators downward in order to complete my journey.
It was at the third station I ran into Corwin, who was waiting for a different train. He pulled out his pack, shuffling the cards in a manner that could almost be considered elegant. I just sat at one of the café tables, attempting to dissect the 3rd grade literature on isolated savannah moons. I was tired and getting more impatient every time I re-read a line. Rubbing my eyes for the zillionth time, Corwin picked the right moment to pipe in,
"Do you ever play Pazaak?" he remarked, thumbing those cards.
As it was one of many things that I remained ignorant of in the galaxy, I stated, "Never heard of it."
He raised his eyebrows. Like so many other species here, most of his facial expressions paralleled the dominant race of humans. "Never played it is one thing," he remarked, "But never heard of it? It's got to be one of the oldest games in the galaxy."
"Is it like chess?" I tried to sound bland, but really the diversion sounded intriguing, at least more so than my current endeavor.
"It's more like a gambling game," he informed me. I could distinguish a slight smirk at this point, he knew he had me.
"Well, I wouldn't mind learning the game, anyway. No gambling though, that's unfair to a greenie," I insisted, hoping I was using the slang correctly.
Either way, it got the message across, "Your first Pazaak vocabulary lesson: you want to play by the Republic Senate Rules."
We made it through three games before his subway came. Even having just learned a new game from my new friend, the secret I bore weighed heavily, leaving me feeling more isolated than before. I didn't have to wait much longer before my train finally pulled in.
What would you do if, in the midst of the crowd, seemingly very alone in the world, there was someone within it that would, even for a moment, appear to be looking right at you? For that one moment, their gaze cut across the sea of strangers, and for that breath of time, it seemed he was trying to reach you past the wall the crowd had formed. For a heartbeat, you weren't entirely alone.
What I did was step on the train. The doors swiftly closed behind me, taking off at, by Earth's standards, shockingly rapid speeds. This cut me off from the eyes of the near-human face, widened with what could be interpreted surprise.
The male whose face was momentarily etched in my mind was clad in simple brown robes, so part of me wondered if it was one of the Jedi I had overheard others talking about in various places. Jedi are a politically prominent organization, surrounded by mysticism and mystery. As usual, I had little time for the larger political picture; this included Jedi. Thus, my knowledge remained severely limited, unless you count the narrow number of accounts from the movies.
Swiftly, logic swept aside these thoughts. For one, Jedi were rare, scattered across the galaxy. The odds dictated the individual I knew wasn't a Jedi. As for his penetrating gaze, I didn't recognize him from anywhere. As I mentally filed through my repertoire of acquaintances via work, school, or anywhere else; I had not encountered anyone of the boy's species. Going off of that: if he doesn't know me, I'm not really worth knowing. I work, I study, I sleep. I have no contacts, no special talents, no big secrets (except for the minor detail of my seemingly spontaneous dimension hopping).
At this, my heart beat as though I had jogged up a flight of stairs. For that moment, I was convinced that he knew of my origins. Or, at least what I thought of as my origins. Or maybe my Great Aunt's history was doomed to repeat itself with me: and he was looking to haul me off and shut me up in some hospital, with doctors shoving pills down my throat in hopes of convincing that everything I remembered wasn't real.