The Coruscant Air Taxi moved through the mid-afternoon skies of
Coruscant, frantically interweaving between the numerous speeders and
transports that were bustling through the sky lanes. The Quarren driver
angrily waved his fist at a nearby speeder as a collision almost
occurred, causing the vehicle to juke to the left frantically. After
some time the taxi found itself at the landing platform of the
prestigious Coruscant Museum, where numerous crowds had gathered to take
in the art and culture. "It's about time you children got some education
on this trip..." Claudius Rodney said as he opened the door of the taxi
and stepped out onto the platform. He was again wearing traditional
Alderaanian dress rather than his uniform as he attempted to blend in on
the remainder of his vacation. As he paid the driver he was careful to
keep an eye on Htaere and the children, reaalzing it was a long way down
should anything go wrong.
In a stunning burgundy sari trimmed in gold embroidering, and adorned
with an array of jewelry, Htaere descended the taxi and waited for the
rest of the family to unload, gazing about at the museum front eagerly.
"This will be lovely," she commented with a smile.
Ewwiekewwieikkie was wearing a white toga that covered most of her
blue-furred body, with a pair of gold sandals that she had picked up
during her recent trip to Gallinore. She thought they were very pretty,
but they were not all that comfortable. "Big building," she announced
cheerfully as she followed Claudius and Htaere towards the museum.
"When do we eat?" a clearly annoyed Drusilla Rodney said as she moved
her way out of the taxi and began walking with the group. She absolutely
detested museums as none of the beautiful things were ever for sale. She
saw them as nothing more than a cruel tease that did not interest her in
Claudius turned to Drusilla and dropped slightly, never quite knowing
how to deal with her. "When we get back to Cantham House a meal will be
served," he pleaded with her, always giving in to her demands. "Now if
you behave yourself and take in what we are about to see ... I will buy
you a new dress," he said, offering her his usual bribe as he began to
user his entourage to the entrance.
Htaere ignored Claudius' continuous placating of Drusilla, moving ahead
with Ewwie and letting her grey eyes pan over the layout of the
building, anticipating the exhibits. She cast a quick glance to Ewwie in
approval. "Your sandals are quite stunning by the way. You look most
impressive for a museum tour."
"Yay!" Ewwwiekewwieikkie clapped at Htaere's compliments as the two
walked up the towering staircase leading to the grand entrance of the
museum. A massive banner hung over the entryway arches advertising the
latest exposition of 1,000 year old art from Naboo was being displayed.
Nitt Thorgen, one of the security
officials, turned his attention to Htaere and held his hand up in
annoyance. "Your servant will have to wait out here," he ordered, his
eyes darting to the Squib that was stumbling her way up the stairs.
Htaere's brow knit, scowling at the
third time she'd been subjected to derogatory comments directed at Ewwie.
"She is my stepdaughter," she stated evenly, with a hint of acidity to
her tone. "Her presence is not negotiable."
Claudius hurried up the stairs after
Ewwie and Htaere when he saw the security guard giving them a hard time.
An angry scowl curled upon his lips as he berated the guard. "What is
the meaning of this?" he demanded, raising his hand to point at the man
"Her species is not permitted within the
halls of the Coruscant Museum," the security guard announced as he
pointed to a sign on the wall that listed the names of the sentient
species that were permitted in the facility.
Htaere's head canted, engulfed
completely in incredulity and stupor. "Why would you bar the splendors
of the museum from anyone interested in partaking? I do not understand."
"She will touch things. She will break
things," the security guard angrily replied to Htaere, wondering why she
would even ask such a question. "She is a Squib. They are filthy, dirty
race!" he announced, folding his arms in front of his chest as he glared
down at her.
"Squib!" Ewwiekewwieikkie announced, as
she began hopping down excitedly when she heard her species name
mentioned, but she did not understand most of what the man was saying.
"How dare you, sir!" Claudius said as he
stepped forward, interjecting himself between the security guard and his
daughter. "I demand to see your supervisor!" he screamed, which caused
the casual people around them to grow silent and stare.
Htaere put a hand on Claudius' arm. "Let
us just depart, Claudius. Perhaps we can find something else to do, like
find the girls a dessert parlor or some such thing," she whispered,
eager to vacate the premises.
Claudius allowed Htaere to calm as they
began walking back towards the taxi. His heart was beating out of his
chest as a fury came over him like he had never before seen. He had
never been so insulted in his life. "Dessert ... yes," he said, sounding
a bit dissoriented as he made his way down the staircase.
"No pictures?" Ewwiekewwieikkie asked
Htaere as they went back down towards the air taxi. She was very
confused by what had happened, although the word dessert was quick to
perk her up. The poor creature had no understanding of the
discrimination against her, although she was disappointed by the fact
that she was not going to get to see all of the 'pretty things' that had
been described to her.
Htaere herded them towards the air taxi
pad just to move the family along before a catastrophic public scene
played out. "No, no pictures," Htaere patted Ewwie's head. "They ran out
of pictures, so dessert instead, ok?" She risked a glance at Claudius
before moving close to him and addressing him quietly. "Easy Claudius,
let us compose ourselves and think what we can do about this injustice
without being arrested for creating problems with security."
"I cannot understand this, Htaere,"
Claudius said as he made his way back into the air taxi. "The Squibs
were loyal during the war. They serve the Empire by hauling away all of
our trash..." he continued, as he situated himself. He let out a tired
sigh as he looked at Ewwiekewwieikkie, whom he cared for very much. "She
deserves better," he said as he helped the three women back into the
"Do I still get my dress?" Drusilla
asked as she sat down in the speeder, hoping that this rejection on the
part of the museum guard would not prevent her from getting her reward.
"I was perfectly well behaved on the way into the museum..." she quickly
pointed out as hopeful eyes looked to her father.
Htaere looked appalled. "Hauling the
trash?!" she shook her head in disgust. "Claudius, listen to what you
are saying! Can you not hear your own words?" Frowning, Htaere folded
her hands in her lap and shifted her gaze out of the window, unwilling
to make an issue of it in front of the children.
"The King himself negotiated the
contract..." Claudius pointed out as he reached out for Htaere,
attempting to calm her. "They consider it a great honor. Like a treasure
hunt. You've seen how she is with the forks!" he said, smiling over
towards the Squib whose face was now plastered to the side of the taxi
looking out at all the vehicles flying by.
Resisting the urge to shake her head
again in dismay, Htaere remained silent and motionless, keeping her eyes
averted to the world of durasteel and glass beyond the viewport of the
air taxi while envisioning their return to Esseles.
At long last the taxi arrived at a sweet
shop on Coruscant's lower levels, which the driver had recommended. Here
in the lower section of Coruscant there were hardly any humans to be
seen as most of the aliens had been forced down into the depths. There
seemed to be poverty all around and a generally gloomy mood about. "Are
you certain we're in the right place?" a nervous Claudius asked, to
which the driver only nodded.
Htaere stepped out of the cab, eyes
narrowing slightly as she looked about at the destitute populace of
non-human species. Stifling a sigh, she glanced around for the dessert
parlor in question before casting a glance to the Rodneys. "Shall we?"
Ewwiekewwieikkie was the first out of
the cab, her golden eyes widening as she took in all of the variety of
aliens that were lurking about. She had never seen so many species
before and it was an amazing experience of sights and sounds for her
that threatened to overwhelm her. "Where are we?" she asked Htaere,
blinking slowly as she studied a nearby Aqualish.
Claudus helped a reluctant Drusilla out
of the air taxi and made his way to the front door of the sweet shop.
"Everyone stay close to me," he said, as he prepared to open the door.
"I'm not sure what kind of place this is..." he cautiously whispered as
he opened the door, and stepped inside. Immediately he was hit in the
face with the pungent aroma of 100 different flavors of sweets from all
across the galaxy. A child-like smile formed upon his face as he was
immediately taken back to his youth when he would indulge in such
things. "Perhaps it won't be so bad..." he said to Htaere as he ushered
Htaere drew a deep breath, and found it
immediately melt away the tension of their previous ordeal. Welcoming
yet another deep breath, the corners of her mouth lifted involuntarily
as she savored the scent. "By the goddesses, that smells divine," she
mumbled absently, stepping further inside, and pulling one of the drapes
of her sari about her shoulders a bit more.
The alien working behind the counter
glared at the humans entering the shop, having served mostly aliens. He
was annoyed that he had been forced to close his business on the upper
levels by the request of the humans only for them to have the nerve to
come down here to his shop. Drusilla and Ewwie began frantically picking
out treats, while Claudius retreated to a small table, stopping to dust
off the chair before he sat down. "This is not how I remember Coruscant..."
he said to Htaere quietly as he looked around at the hapless aliens
aimlessly walking through the streets.
Htaere followed suit, taking a seat at
the table and letting her glassy eyed gaze shift over the interior of
the store, wall to wall with confectionaries. "Everything changes,
Claudius," she replied absently. "Change is the only constant." Drawing
herself out of her revelry, she looked towards Ewwie and Drusilla. "Well
the children do not mind the change of plans. I am enjoying this as
Drusilla quickly arrived at the table
with a plate of cookies and small pastries that were reasonably priced
compared to some of the dishes she usually ordered. Taking a bite she
quickly smiled and in that instant appeared to be a perfectly normal
Ewwiekewwieikkie's face was already
turning brown from the sweets she was devouring and her tongue extended
from her mouth to frantically lick it from her face. "Yum! Yum!" she
cried out in delight as she continued to fill her snout with the food.
Claudius took hold of something
resembling a brownie and savored it for a moment, smiling across the
table at Htaere. "Oh yes. This is much more enjoyable than that ...
flower ... I tried to digest the other night," he smirked as he finished
the rest of it in a few quick bites.
The heiress flashed a grin. "Perhaps we
should not tell Dr. Tohan of this indiscretion. He will not be so
pleased with such dietary disregard," she commented. "It is a nice
Claudius could not help but feel out of
place as he felt the patron's set of eyes glaring down upon him.
Something was definitely out of sorts among the non-human population of
Coruscant, but he was not entirely sure what. He brought his left hand
up to shield his eyes as he could not stand the sensation of being
stared at in such a way any longer. "Pilaq has been trying to get me to
modify my diet for 25 years..." he reluctantly admitted as he moved
towards a cookie with a jelly filling in the middle.
"It is easier to end this war I think,"
Htaere ventured a joke, letting him grovel in the various delectable
"I was hoping she could have seen the
museum..." Claudius said sounding somewhat dejected, cheered only by the
pleasurable sensation of the cookie. "There were so many wonderful
exhibits that I'm sure she would have loved. I intend to make a formal
inquiry regarding the policy..." he said to her, shaking his head in
disbelief, not wanting to believe xenophobia had taken hold of the
"You are willing to risk any favor
gained by this event? Any chance of promotion?" Htaere asked curiously,
folding her arms on the table top. "You are willing to gamble on your
career for stirring up trouble with the Empire's policies?"
"I refuse to believe this is the policy
of the Empire," Claudius replied as he dug through the pile of cookies,
like an experienced treasure hunter. "Perhaps ... one more..." he said
mostly to himself as he grabbed hold of a cookie and took a small bite.
"This is obviously the action of some minor bureaucrat who perhaps had
an unfortunate encounter with a Squib," he assured her, being in
complete denial of the New Order and its policies.
"Yes, of course," Htaere consented
quietly, leaving it go to Claudius and his delusions. "Should we be
returning to the embassy shortly?"
Claudius eyes moved from Htaere to the
two daughters, who were laughing and giggling as they were enjoying the
treats. As he watched them he wished that all humans and all aliens
could behave as the two of them were doing right now. "Perhaps ... just
a little longer..." he said as he flashed a smile at Htaere across the
table, content to live in the moment. "Ad perhaps ... one more cookie,"
he added with a laugh as he went diving for another treat.