Star Wars is and always will be the brainchild of Mr. George Lucas. All characters, places and creatures great and small belong to him and authors such as Karen Traviss, Karen Miller, Paul S. Kemp, Drew Karpyshyn and countless others. The same thing applies to the songs featured in each chapter. My musical talents only extend to the point of turning green with envy. I only lay claim to my OC's, who I am sending to wander this wide galaxy. Cheers!
"And when you were born, they looked at you and said,
what a good girl, what a smart girl, what a pretty girl."
"What a Good Boy" by Barenaked Ladies
Dantooine, Arhen farm, 40 BBY
Larna's head fell back into the pillows. She gasped, trying to catch her breath before the next contraction hit. When it did, she gritted her teeth and tried to remember her breathing, while at the same time attempting to muster the strength for another push.
Her older sister, Karmia, held her left hand tightly; making soothing noises in the back of her throat, while trying not to wince at Larna's strong, desperate grip. Tali, a second cousin on her mother's side, was carefully wringing out a wet cloth, before gently wiping the sweat from the laboring woman's forehead. It felt good and in the few seconds between the pains of labor, Larna managed a soft sigh and a weak, watery smile for the younger girl. Tali was only fourteen and she looked about as scared as Larna felt.
Whoever said that this becomes easier the second time around never had children, she thought, before her body was once more seized with a contraction and all coherent thought fled her.
"Now Larna, push. Push." Her grandmother was urging her on, her grey head bent between Larna's legs. Her hands, calloused from a life of work and spotted with age, were gentle as they helped Larna bring a new life into the family. Her mother, a seemingly older version of Larna, stood next to the family's matriarch, handing her tools or gently massaging her daughter's swollen abdomen. Like old Genesa, Tirma was a tried hand at midwifery.
Larna gritted her teeth and pushed. She felt the blood rush to her face, sweat pop from her pores. She gave up trying to be brave and screamed with the pain; loud and tired….until a second voice joined hers.
The release from the pain was almost like a physical blow and Larna let herself fall back, utterly exhausted by her efforts of the past few hours. She gulped in air, dimly heard the excited voices of the other women and listened raptly to the lusty cries of her newborn baby. She was suddenly overcome by feelings of terror, cold, an awful sense of discomfort and disorientation. For a moment, her eyes became unfocused, the lights appeared painfully bright and the ambient noise in the birthing room became senseless babble. She was afraid, so terribly afraid and all she wanted to do was scream and scream….
Her sister's excited and jubilant voice brought her back to herself.
"You did it Larna, you did it."
Karmia was still holding her hand, except now it was her turn to squeeze it almost painfully.
Still disoriented by her sudden – what? Panic attack? - Larna still found herself able to smile weakly at her sister, bemused by the older woman's antics. Karmia was already in her forties, with three children of her own. And still as excitable as a child. The thought made her smile widen and dispersed the last fragments of those strange, frightful few seconds. It must have been fatigue, the strain of her labor. She allowed her body to relax into the comforts of the bed, while Tali, also smiling broadly, wiped her brow again. She already felt better and her mood seemed to soar into unknown regions of happiness.
Then the baby stopped crying.
Larna jerked upright, her eyes wide in alarm. "What is it? What's wrong? Mama, gran?"
Her mother and grandmother were bending over the little bundle in their arms; exchanging first worried glances with each other, then looking back down onto the suddenly silent baby.
"I don't know Larna," her mother answered, while Genesa took the baby over to a table. "She just went quiet all of a sudden."
"She?" Larna asked weakly. "It's a girl?"
"Aye, a girl, deary," her grandmother croaked. "And a healthy one at that."
Tirma turned towards the older woman, her face a worried frown. "You sure, mama?"
Genesa gave an indignant sniff, favoring her child with a withering stare. "I'll let you know I've birthed more babies in my lifetime than ye'll ever see in yours." She hefted the baby, now safely wrapped in a warm, soft blanket, into the crook of her arm. Her wrinkled face lifted in a smile. "She be small, but she be strong and healthy." She cocked her head to the side, the braid of her grey hair falling over her shoulder. There was slight puzzlement to her tone when she said: "And happy. She be a happy child, too."
Soothed by her grandmother's words, Larna held out her arms eagerly. And when Genesa gently handed her daughter over, her face – tired, puffy and drenched – was transformed by a beatific smile. She felt so warm, so safe. So unerringly loved.
Gossinger held his new daughter gingerly; as if afraid she would break apart in his hold. She was such a tiny thing, practically dwarfed in the crook of his arm, well muscled by years of hard physical labor.
He'd finally been allowed into the birthing room, after pacing restlessly for hours in the hallway. While men were a necessary, and appreciated, part in the creation process, the actual birth remained a domain exclusively reserved for women. At least on Dantooine. So while his wife had labored to bring their child into this world, he had been rendered…well, impotent. Unable to help, to hold her hand or soothe her, he'd paced like a caged nexu under the amused eyes of his father-in-law and assorted male relatives. It had been frustrating, now just as much as it had been when Garett had been born.
But this…this made up for everything. His daughter scrunched up her face, then blinked her still unfocused eyes. They were a startling shade of teal. Just like her mama, he thought and felt himself break out into a foolish, dopey grin. His daughter gurgled happily in return.
"She's wonderful, isn't she?" Larna asked from her position on the bed. The other women had made sure she was comfortable before leaving the new parents alone: changing the sheets and Larna's nightgown, washing the sweat from her body, even combing out her pale blond hair.
The same hair that crowned his daughter's head in small, fine tufts. "Yes, Larna. She's absolutely beautiful."
He sat down carefully beside his wife, feeling the mattress dip under his large frame. Whereas Larna was as slight as a willow, Gossinger was a mountain; easily six foot three. Judging from how tiny she was now, Gossinger figured his baby girl would favor her mother's side of the family in size as well.
"What should we call her?" he asked.
Larna leaned against him, a thoughtful expression on her face. They'd discussed names of course, but even in nine months they hadn't been able to narrow the list of possibles down.
Gossinger looked down at his daughter, gently tickling her chin with one large, blunt finger. The baby gurgled again, waving one hand in an uncoordinated attempt to capture the teasing finger.
"What are you little one?" he mused, slowly. "Are you a Tiana or a Malory? Are you a Seckna or a Yfandra?"
Teal eyes blinked at him again, this time slightly puzzled, as if she were trying to understand what this impossibly large giant, her father, wanted from her.
"Roweena," Larna said suddenly. "Let's call her Roweena."
Gossinger gave a despairing groan. "For heaven's sake, why punish the child with a name like that?"
Larna glared at him. "It's not punishment, it's perfect." She poked him just for good measure. "And Roweena is a lovely name. Besides, it was your aunt's name. I'm sure she'd be pleased."
"My aunt," Gossinger said with some dignity, "was an old woman. I will not give my child an old woman's name."
Larna rolled her eyes at this. "Your aunt was a pilot and explorer. Just think of it," and she sighed in dreamy thoughtfulness, "flying among the stars, visiting distant and exotic worlds. It's just so," she waved her hand in the air, as if dismissing the enclosed space of the room surrounding them, "adventurous."
"Sometimes Larna, I think the only reason you married me was for my family history."
She was about to reply, and hotly no doubt, when there was a knock on the door. Venner, Larna's younger brother, stuck his head through, grinning at the pair. "There's someone here who wants to meet his new baby sister."
A boy of four, tall for his age, but slim, with the Arhen's platinum blond hair, hesitantly stepped into the room. Gossinger smiled reassuringly at his son, beckoning to him with a jerk of his head. Garett stepped to the bed, his eyes, teal like those of his mother and sister, were wide with wonder.
"C'mon in son and say hello." Gossinger knelt on the floor, holding the little girl on eye-level with his son. The boy bent over curiously.
"She's all wrinkly, like gran." He stated. Gossinger chuckled and he could see, from the corner of his eye, Larna covering a grin.
"That'll smooth out, son. You'll see."
Garett looked from his father, to his mother, then back at his new baby sister. For a moment, Garett's face furrowed into a frown of concentration, before being split nearly in half by a huge smile of delight.
"She likes me." He declared. His eyes met those of his father, alight with joy. "She likes us all."
For a moment, Gossinger was too startled to reply. Then he caught himself and answered his son with a grin of his own. "Well of course she likes you, Garett. She's got the best big brother in the whole wide galaxy, after all."
Garett beamed with pride, standing a little taller, before asking: "What's her name?"
"Well," Gossinger looked at his wife, who, in turn, was looking at him with her large, entreating eyes. She had on her best puppy-dog face. Gossinger sighed. No matter how long they'd been married, he'd never been able to defend himself against that face.
"Roweena." He told his son.
Garett wrinkled his nose, tasting the name. "Ro. Wee. Na. Roweena. Ro."
The baby squealed, wriggling in her blanket towards the new voice. Garett looked down at her and gently placed his hand over his little sister's heart.
"Welcome, Ro. We love you."
Author's note: And so my story begins. Just so you know, this will be an OC story. Some familiar character from the Star Wars storyline will appear, but my focus will remain on my OC's, the Arhen siblings and my ARC trooper.