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"Push, Sabé!"

Gathering all her strength, Sabé gave a loud yell, and pushed hard, one last time. She was sure that was as much as she could do, and fell back, exhausted. Amidala leaned over her, and wiped the sweat from her brow. The Queen glanced to the side, then broke into a joyful smile.

"It's over. The baby's here- you did it!" A piercing cry broke the air. "A girl," Amidala announced.

Sabé, still catching her breath, asked, "Ten fingers and ten toes?"

The doctor looked the infant over quickly. "She appears to be perfect and healthy, Minister."

"Thank the Gods," Sabé breathed.

***

Obi-Wan Kenobi was doing his paperwork at day's end. This was the part of the job he hated most- documenting everything he was doing in training his Padawan. He didn't remember Qui-Gon having to do that with him, but then again, he was never The Chosen One.

He leaned forward and dug his fists into closed eyes. He sighed, glad this task was almost over. Attempting to recall the day's events, he tried to remember if there was any detail he could have missed. Suddenly, he was distracted by a sharp noise. It sounded for all the world like a baby's cry, distant, but not, at the same time. One thing was certain-it was too loud. The quarters were nowhere near the nursery, so it had to be a holovid. He wondered what on Coruscant Anakin was thinking, playing the thing at that volume this time of night. Annoyed, he got up to complain and command the boy to turn the vid down.

When he rose, the sound stopped, but he made his way into the other small bedroom to warn Ani to keep it low. When he got there, the boy was at his workbench, building some device.

Obi-Wan scowled. "Ani, I know this is your leisure time, and I don't mind that you're watching a vid, but keep the noise down, it's too late at night for that," the Jedi declared.

Anakin turned from his project, puzzled. "Master, I don't know what you mean. I've been working on this ever since we got back from practice. I haven't had a vid on at all today."

Obi-Wan could see the boy was sincere. He regretted his haste in rushing to blame Anakin for his hallucination. "I'm sorry, Padawan." He shook his head. "Perhaps your Master has been working too hard. I'll talk to you later." He then turned to go back to his room. Strange, he knew he had heard something. He was going to have to meditate more....

***

Sabé felt she had spent enough time in the hospital. Even though the room was brightened by flowers and greetings from her parents, Bibble, Panaka and his staff, the Queen, and the handmaidens, it was not where she wanted to be. She was ready to return to her little apartment near the Theed palace. She had taken full advantage of this perk that came with her promotion to the post of Minister of Recruitment and Training of the Queen's Security. In the last few months, she had taken the dull and barren set of rooms and transformed it into quite a cozy nest for herself and her baby .

From her place in the bed, she looked over at her tiny girl, sleeping in the bassinet. Even with all of her preparation, she knew this to be the biggest challenge she would ever face. She fervently hoped that she could do justice to this life that she was privileged to guard for awhile.

A middle aged , matronly nurse entered the room, carrying a datapad with forms to fill out. The woman smiled. "Good day, Minister Calle. Looks like we'll be able to get you out of here tommorrow morning, you and the baby are doing beautifully. Why don't we get the documents in order? That way, you'll be released faster."

Sabé nodded. "Yes, thank you. That would be very nice."

"Your maiden name, Minister?"

"Sabé Uzza"

"Father's name and occupation?"

"Baris Calle, he was a pilot, killed in the attack on the Trade Federation droid control ship," Sabé stated, coolly. It was as if she had said it a thousand times.

The nurse bit her lip. "Oh, I'm so sorry. I didn't know. Were you married very long?"

Sabé's eyes met the nurse's, her expression steady. "It's alright. I didn't make it public. We slipped away while on Coruscant, and married as the Queen was addressing the Senate. We thought it would be better to do so while we had the chance. At least we got a little time together."

"Yes," said the nurse. Uncomfortable now, she wanted to move on. "And what is this charming baby's name?"

Sabé smiled. "Meira." She got up to take a look at her now stirring daughter. The child yawned, awakening. She stroked her baby's cheek with one finger, marveling at the softness of her skin.

The nurse looked over some notes, then remarked, "The tests show the child has a midichlorian count that ranks her as qualified for the Temple. You'll be following the usual procedure, of course."

The new mother looked up, slightly alarmed. "What would the usual procedure be?"

"That's right, this is your first," the nurse said. "Well, here on Naboo, our system is set up to conceal these children. Most families would not have the Jedi whisk their precious babies away, never to be seen again."

"Really," Sabé commented. She pushed all emotion to the back now, and focused her attention on this new information. "Do you know about how many test positive and of those, how many go to the Jedi?"

The nurse started getting flustered. "Dear, I don't have those figures on hand. If I were to guess, one percent qualify. Only the poorest families actually give the children over, perhaps one or two a year, if that. Even as a single parent, your position will support you both, won't it?"

Sabé nodded, but was still in the middle of thought. The nurse looked at her, blinking in disbelief. She was appalled that this young woman might really consider giving the child over to the Temple.

Sabé looked at the nurse, and kindly but firmly told her, "One very valuable thing the Queen has taught me is to consider every option before making an important choice. May I have a few hours before we mark down her fate?"

The nurse was a bit taken aback, but recovered. "Of course, Minister. Call me when you are ready." She made a hasty exit.

Sabé gazed at her daughter, who was now stirring more vigorously. It was almost feeding time, so the mother picked her up, and cradled her while she suckled. Meira's eyes were wide, studying her mother's features, trying to imprint the face on her consciousness. Sabé began talking to her child. It seemed to help with the bond that was strengthing between them.

"Little girl, what am I going to do? The answer was so easy. I would have never dreamed of letting you go, but now I have to think about it. For the sake of the Jedi, some would urge me to turn you over. Here on Naboo, it seems almost prohibited. I'm not sure why. I want you with me, but I must do what's best for you. I wish I could speak with Master Jinn, he would have good advice. He said I should keep my talents secret, he said nothing about you. I wonder if he knew you were coming."

She returned to thought. For a short time all that could be heard in the room were the low sounds of the child feeding. Soon there were footsteps in the hallway, and the murmurs of excited people. Sabé became aware of the approaching visitors and smoothed her hair back. She recognized the chatter of her parents. Knowing how thrilled they were with their new grandparent status, she hated what she was about to do, but she had to have some answers quickly.

Sabé's mother, Raisa, almost burst into the room, rushing to her daughter's side, to view the new addition to the family. Her father, Hasin, was only a couple of steps behind, and his pride was obvious. Sabé smiled at them in greeting, then looked hard at her father. "Please close the door."

The big man could see that she was serious, and her mother caught that too. Raisa became concerned, "What is it, is something wrong with the baby?"

"No, Mother, she's all right, as healthy as can be. It's just...." She hesitated, then found the courage to continue. "We have to talk. Please tell me why I was kept here and not given to the Temple? Why would you not let me fulfill my potential?"

Hasin looked at his wife, then at Sabé. He cleared his throat. "You deserve to know. We should have told her much sooner, Raisa."

"You know I can't think about that," Raisa snapped, near tears.

"Sabé, give the baby to your mother, and we'll talk. Are you well enough to go out to the atrium?"

Sabé nodded. "I'm a little sore, but I'll do fine."

Hasin helped his daughter put on a robe, and offered his arm. "We'll be back soon," he told his wife. "Call for the nurse if you need anything."

Sabé and Hasin found a quiet place in the mostly deserted atrium. Settling down, she waited patiently for the explanation.

"We've never spoken of this because it causes your mother great distress," Hasin began, keeping his voice low. "You are not our first child."

Sabé's mouth fell open in surprise. All her life, she had been an only child, never had she known of a sibling. There had never been talk of another, no pictures, no sign of any kind. She was too shocked to speak.

"We removed all signs of him after his death. This is the first time I've mentioned him in years. Your mother blames herself, even though it's not her fault. There's nothing anyone could have done."

"Please tell me more about my...," she struggled to get the word out, "brother?"

Her father smiled sadly. "We had him a few months after the wedding. But Nathell was born sickly. He had good days, and bad days, the bad days became more frequent, and his little body gave out. His illness came from a genetic lethal disease that your mother carries. She never wanted to try again, feeling that she was cursed, even though the doctors said there was a good chance of a healthy baby.

"So you didn't expect me," Sabé stated.

Hasin nodded. "When we were surprised by you, she was tested and all the signs were good. You were carried to term and we kept you. I'm sorry that we hid the facts from you, but I think you've fulfilled your potential very well without becoming a Jedi. Naboo needs you more as you are. We need you, daughter." His voice was shaking. It was the first time Sabé had ever seen him so emotional.

She shook her head, "I'm sorry. I just found out about the taboo on giving children to the Temple. I didn't know you'd gone through the pain of losing a baby already. I understand now. I'll apologize to Mother." She paused, and reflected. "That's why she wanted to plan a 'safe' life for me."

"I think so," Hasin answered. "Ready to go back?"

She nodded

When they entered the room, Raisa looked up and cuddled the baby protectively. "What are you going to do, give her to the Jedi?" she asked.

"Not yet, Mother. I'll be fair and warn you, that may change,"Sabé told her. "For now, we will be together with you."

"Then we'll make the best of each day as it comes." Hasin said. They left it at that.

The next morning, Amidala and Rabé showed up to help Sabé and Meira go home. When they got there, the other handmaidens were waiting, and an impromptu "welcome home" party was thrown. The small quarters were decorated with pastel streamers and signs, and a cake was presented and cut. Sabé was relieved to see that meals for two weeks had been prepared and set in the preservation unit. All the women took turns cooing and playing with the new arrival. Gifts for mother and baby were presented, with the standout being a miniature flame handmaiden dress, made by Yané.

"What am I going to do for you all?" Sabé laughed. "There's no way I can ever match this!"

"You can take it easy on us if you ever impersonate the Queen again," Saché replied.

Soon Amidala could see that mother and child were tiring. She could also tell by Sabé's non verbal signals that she wanted to talk to her alone. So she began breaking up the party, sending the handmaidens off to various assignments, till finally it was the two of them.

After putting Meira down for a nap, Sabé came to the Queen. "Your Highness, do you think there'll be a trip to Coruscant soon?"

Amidala wrinkled her brow in thought. "I hadn't planned one, but do you have need to go? I'll help you."

"I do have need. There are facts I must know before I make the choice for Meira. I feel the Jedi Library is the only place I will find them."

"A research mission then. I'll contact Bibble, he'll get the wheels in motion."

Sabé bowed her head, "Thank you, Your Highness."

Amidala stood up, preparing to depart. She put on her coat, then hesitated. " You know we all love that little girl, and I'm looking forward to becoming a Godmother."

Sabé walked her to the door. She stopped, and took a deep breath. "I know, Amidala. But I will do what I must, when I find out what that is supposed to be." They clasped hands, and bid each other farewell.

Sabé went over to her desk and pulled out a datacard, the one that she got from R2. She began reading the first text in the library that Master Jinn had given her.

***

The next four and a half months went by quickly. Sabé worked with Panaka to train two new handmaidens. She and Saché planned a mission that would take place while she would be gone. There was the usual everyday duties of checking all the recruits, their references and processing the data. During this time, Sabé gathered more information on what it took to make a Jedi.

The day came to board the transport. There was some hustle and bustle around the platform generated by the many passengers from different worlds. Naboo was the last stop before all the dignitaries went on to the capital.

Sabé checked the carrier to ensure that Meira was safe and secure. She looked around for a familiar face . She wanted to be discreet, but she had hoped a friend or two would come to see her off. Shrugging, she grabbed the handle of the bag that contained the carry on luggage, picked up the baby and began walking up the ramp.

"Wait Minister, we're coming too," a voice shouted. Sabé turned around. Rabé and Rowan were hurrying to join her.

"How did you get on this trip?" Sabé asked, astonished.

"You don't think you're going to get out of here without company, do you?" Rabé smiled. "We're due for a mission ourselves, thank you."

"And your mission would be....?"

"Security for the Minister and her daughter, of course," Rowan answered.

Sabé was relieved. The time in transit and on the planet would now be tolerable.

When they got to Coruscant, they waited until the rest of the passengers had exited. Since most were higher profile representatives, cameras were broadcasting their arrival. Sabé sent Rowan out to check out when the journal droids had departed. It wasn't long before his return.

They were met by an assistant from interim Senator Sio Bibble's office. The young man hurried them along, getting them to the Senator's chambers in record time. Upon the sight of the four, Bibble greeted them with cordial enthusiasim.

"It's good to see friends from home. I'll be glad when the elections are finally held and I can return to Theed," he exclaimed. "And what a lovely baby, you have, Sabé. The nanny is ready and available as soon as you settle in."

"It shouldn't be long before your return. We have recovered well enough to allow elections to take place soon," Rabé reassured him.

"We miss you too," Sabé said. "But for now, I'm glad it's you here. Are the arrangements in place?"

"It's all been prepared. Do you want to take care of the documentation now? I have it on my desk."

Sabé nodded. She looked at her two friends. "Will you do the honors?"

They both nodded back. All proceeded into the inner office. Meira started getting a bit more vocal since she was waking up from the trip. Rabé helped distract her while Sabé went over what she had to sign.

"A forged Marriage certificate. I never even spoke with this man. I hope he wouldn't have minded too much," Sabé sighed regretfully. She signed.

Rowan leaned over and added his signature as a witness. "Baris was a good man. I don't think he would object to helping you under these circumstances."

Rabé passed the baby back to her mother, so she could sign as a second witness. The document was copied, and a data crystal presented to Sabé.

"There, that makes me socially acceptable, I suppose," Sabé said, tucking the crystal away. "Thank you, Senator. We'll get settled in and meet you for dinner tonight." They bowed at each other and parted.

The next morning, when the nanny for Meira had arrived, Sabé began the second phase of her task. She located the Jedi Temple Library on the map, and found it wasn't far away. Rowan and Rabé gave her an intense look as she departed. She sensed their question.

"You'll know when I know."

***

"Minister Calle, doing research for Her Majesty, Queen Amidala of Naboo," Sabé said, introducing herself to the Jedi Temple Librarian. She handed her indenticard to the woman, who checked it, and approved.

"Queen Amidala is well known as a friend to the Jedi," the woman answered, nodding. "We are honored to be of assistance to her in any way possible. I have a terminal ready for your use, Minister."

When she was seated, Sabé opened a few files that were available to the public, texts that were common and innocuous. She copied them onto the crystals that she had brought. Quietly glancing both ways, she checked to see that everyone else was occupied and that she would be left alone. She proceeded to more advanced material, especially the basic training of the Jedi, from earliest infancy on. There still seemed to be much that was left out, secrets that she would have to uncover. She made the copies and continued.

The place remained quiet, with no attention focused on her. Retrieving the last few crystals, she slipped out a note that had a confidential access code on it, followed by a list of works kept only in this library, some written by Jinn himself. Usually, they were allowed exclusively to properly authorized users. Sabé was not one of these, but she was sure that the Master wanted her to read these, since he had included the access code in the texts he left her in R2. This would be her one and only chance to get this material; she could not fail.

Centering herself and shielding her mind to conceal her nervous state, she went to the restricted access area in the library terminal. She entered the code and awaited a response. She was almost surprised when the area accepted the code and allowed her to read the files she needed. Trying not to appear in too much of a hurry, she found the works on the list and copied them as quickly as possible.

Her task done, she left the restricted area, and found a few more of the public files to copy, until her adrenaline had burned itself off. Taking a deep breath, she gathered her crystals, and prepared to leave. Pulling the hood over her head to conceal her relief, she passed the desk. The Librarian in charge noted her departure, and thanked her.

Once outside and successful in her task, Sabé seated herself on bench near the Jedi Temple, one that faced the platform where transports docked and served those departing and returning from missions. It was still far away enough from the crowd to give her some privacy. Taking the crystals, she inserted a training manual for early childhood and skimmed through it to give herself some idea of what she would have to know to rear her daughter properly in some of the Jedi principles.

After hurriedly reviewing several of the writings she came for, she found herself overwhelmed. She knew she could be a good mother because of her love for her child, but she could not imagine herself as being able to teach her all of what she had just read. She tried to accept that even though she possessed some of the gift of the Force, at this age and with no real teacher, it seemed her skills would never be better than those of an initiate. Even the preteen Padawans at the beginning of their apprenticeship seemed more advanced than she could hope to be. This realization was nearly enough to bring her to tears. The idea that she could not do right by her daughter in training her was almost unbearable. If she could not help her child fulfill her potential, perhaps the proper course of action was to give her to those who could.

Then, subtly, she felt his presence. Obi-Wan was near and getting closer. Instantly she erected her shields , better at concealing her feelings and whereabouts in the months she had been practicing the techniques. She hoped she had acted in time, before he had noticed her.

She was safe, his attention was on his mission. With such a large place and so many people here, Sabé was sure if she remained as she was, still hidden by the hood, quiet and out of the way, she would not be seen.

Sabé allowed herself to glance up to see Obi-Wan prepare to get on the transport. A slender, elegant figure wearing a black robe disembarked from the ship and walked to the young Jedi. Obi-Wan glanced up when he sensed someone approaching. Initially, his expression was one of disbelief, but it transformed into a warm smile. The large hood of the cloak fell back and platinium colored hair spilled out. The young Jedi Knight bowed in respect to an acknowleged Master. They spoke for a moment, then parted as Obi-Wan took his place on board.

Sabé could no longer hold back the tears. With as much control as she could muster, she stood up and saw a side alley. Walking briskly, but not too fast, she entered, saw there would be no one there to witness her, she leaned against the wall and let herself sob.

Her inner soliloquy began, and it only served to depress her more. ::They're all so centered and self assured. You can never be a part of that. You'll only hold your baby back. She should be here and make the most of her potential. Perhaps she'll even get to know her Jedi father. You should just go and make the arrangements now.::

A soft black gloved hand touched Sabé's shoulder from behind, and a maternal voice said, "Whatever it is, it can't be that bad, can it?"

Gasping and catching her breath, Sabé turned to find herself face to face with the Master that Obi-Wan had greeted. She seemed middle aged, but still very beautiful. She had an air of serenity about her that one could almost touch. Her violet eyes revealed that she possessed a wisdom that had been earned through great loss. Sabé felt the Living Force vibrating in her. It was a strong connection, much like Master Qui-Gon's had been.

In soothing tones, the Master spoke again. "I sensed distress, perhaps I can help. Please come with me, we'll find a place to sit and talk." The Jedi gestured towards a cafe table in the shade. Sabé took a handkerchief from a pocket and dried her tears as the two of them sat down.

After a few moments to gather her thoughts, and sip at the cold water brought to them, Sabé spoke. "Thank you for your concern, Jedi Master. I have a difficult choice to make, and I'm confused. I just want to do what's right for all concerned."

The Master studied her for a moment. "You are still young, you're not used to making these decisions. I wish I could say that such things become easier, but it's not always so. Perhaps if you speak of your problem aloud, the solution will come to you."

Sabé took a deep breath, then began. "I have a baby girl, one who shows potential for entrance into the Temple. I want her to have access to the facilities and teachers that can help her understand and use her gifts. But, there's one obstacle, at least for me. Jedi Master, I love my daughter more than anything in the galaxy. I had no idea I could love anyone that much. I feel that I cannot bear to part with her, even if it's in her best interest. Can you understand that? I'm sure your answer would be to sacrifice my own selfish interests in favor of the Temple and the service of the Republic. Were I not speaking of my own child, I would say that too." Sabé paused in her confession.

The Master did not react immediately, instead she seemed to think over what she had just been told. After a moment, she asked, "The girl's father, what has he to say about this?"

Sabé swallowed hard, glanced down, then looked up. "Her father doesn't know about her." She noted a flash of disapproval cross the older woman's face, but the Jedi quickly assumed the serene, understanding demeanor once again.

Sabé continued, "Please, let me explain. You see, we can't be together. He has his calling, and I have mine. The baby was conceived when we were at war, I didn't know if I would survive the next week, let alone time enough to have a child and be at the point to make this decision."

The Master looked straight at Sabé. With a solemn tone, she asked, "Do you have feelings for the father?"

She didn't know why, but the young woman started to feel more confident with herself and the Jedi. She decided it was safe to admit the truth.

"I'll be honest. At the time, there was affection between us. I respect him, I admire him and his abilities. I care for him deeply. If things were different, I would hope to have him in my life."

The Master smiled at her response. When she spoke, it was with confidence. "If you feel that way about him, perhaps you should not give up his child. The Force may have moved you to bear her because no one else can rear her better than you can. As her birth mother, you can give her much that the Temple will never be able to provide. That she was borne of an affectionate, even if temporary union, makes it more special. In the end, you must decide. I can only give you one possibility."

Sabé closed her eyes and breathed a sigh of relief. Someone finally validating that she was not only competent, but could excel in rearing her baby, was just what she needed to hear. "Thank you, kind Master. I think I can go and make the choice now, you have given me much to consider." She stood and bowed to the woman, then left to make her way back to the Senate Quarters.

The smile broadened as the woman watched the young Minister go. In low, almost inaudible tones, she said, "Up to your tricks, were you, my old love? You know you shouldn't play with your Padawan and such a sweet young girl like that."

//Favianne, it will work out for the best, trust me,// Qui-Gon responded in her mind.

The Master shook her head as she finished her water. That's what he had always said in situations like this. She shouldn't have expected him to be any wiser now.

***

Sabé returned to the quarters high with elation. She felt her way was clear now.

Rabé and Rowan watched her enter. Trepidation was in their eyes.

"It'll be nice when this mission is over so we can go home together. All of us," Sabé announced, reaching for her baby.

Her companions broke into wide smiles.

Sabé dismissed the nanny and went into the next room to feed Meira. As she did so, she pondered her encounter with the mysterious Jedi Master. Something told her that this woman may be important in her child's future. Comforted by that thought, she leaned back and planned her trip home.

Soon, she started feeling uneasy. She couldn't pinpoint the reason why. Meira was finished with her meal and ready to take a nap. Sabé covered herself and put the baby down to sleep.

Stepping back into the living room of the apartment, she glanced at Rabé and Rowan chatting at one another in soft tones. They glanced up and saw the worried look on Sabé's face.

"Meira's alright?" Rabé asked.

"Yes," Sabé replied. "I have a bad feeling, but it's about something else. Have there been any messages from home?"

Rabé got up from her seat and walked over the the comm center. She wrinkled her brow. "No. If you want, we can check in, though."

"That might be a good idea. I'd like to be sure that this is just my imagination." Sabé joined Rabé at the center.

Rabé had already started the transmission. She punched in the codes that would get them through to Panaka's office. They were surprised when the Captain's image popped up in the holo.

"Rabé, Sabé! I'm glad you called when you did. Something's gone wrong," Panaka said. His voice was serious, his expression pained.

The women's jaws dropped. Rowan jumped up and joined them at the center. "We're here, Sir," he said. "What's happened?"

"Sabé, don't take this too hard," Panaka began.

"What!?" Sabé demanded.

The Captain bit his lip. "While following the plan, I think Saché was discovered. We've lost contact and haven't had any word from her for hours now."

Sabé went pale, covered her mouth and turned away for a moment. Rabé reached out and touched her shoulder. She recovered, then faced the transmitter to address Panaka.

"We'll be home as soon as possible, Captain. Naboo Quarter 1 out."

The End