Joss Whedon owns "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and related characters; George Lucas owns "Star Wars" and related characters; I own nothing.Author's Note:
I found out about the Order of Sanctuary
while researching for another fic, and this bunny hit.~*~*~
Standing in the damp cave that served as the antechamber to the complex that stretched throughout the plains surrounding Theed, Sabé pulled her cloak tightly around her. Across the cave, Saché conversed quietly with Rabé and Fé, while Eritré stood quietly on her own. Next to Sabé, Yané, the youngest of the handmaidens selected to serve the new Queen, moved from foot to foot.
“Yané, calm yourself,” Sabé urged her quietly, taking the younger girl’s hand in her own.
“Sorry, Sabé,” Yané muttered, ducking her head. “I’m just nervous, that’s all.”
Sabé gave Yané’s hand an encouraging squeeze, although she didn’t blame Yané for physically expressing what they all felt. This was the last step of their training as handmaidens, and by far the most secretive. Not even Captain Panaka knew about this.
A light appeared at the mouth of the passageway, illuminating the figure standing there.
“It’s time,” she said, gesturing for the six young women to follow her. They filed behind her as they were led deeper into the caves. The air became warmer as they descended until finally their guide stopped and turned around.
“What you are about to see must not be shared with anybody else,” the woman told them in a quiet voice. “Your discretion is vital.”
The handmaidens nodded and Sabé felt a knot form in her stomach. Just what were they getting into?
The woman pressed a pad next to her and the door behind her wisked open. “Follow me,” she ordered, stepping inside the dimly lit chamber.
Stepping inside, Sabé could faintly make out the forms of five other women standing in a semi-circle as their guide joined them. They were dressed in robes similar to those worn by the handmaidens while they were on duty, the hoods raised to conceal their faces.
Without saying anything, the handmaidens arranged themselves in a mirror of the robed women. Sabé glanced at her companions, but while Saché had schooled her face into one of polite interest, everybody else had their curiosity and nervousness clear for anybody to see. She knew she was no different.
“Millenia ago, this planet was settled by the first human colonists,” one of the women in the center said. “Humans fleeing the ravages of the Sith Wars unleashed upon their homes. Unfortunately, the planet they believed to be their sanctuary was home to wells of the dark side, places that corrupted and turned out monsters that preyed upon the colonists and multiplied rapidly”
“The colonists turned to a mystical group who had traveled with them, asking for help,” a second woman continued, picking up the threads from her companion. “These men deliberated before deciding on a solution. They chose a young girl and infused her with a touch of the Force, giving her the abilities to battle the monsters that roamed Naboo. One girl, in all the world. When she died, the mantle passed to another, the cycle continuing for centuries.”
“Until one day, when the current warriors decided to change the rules.” Both of the speakers were talking now, their voices forming an odd counterpoint to the other. “One became many, and the Order of Sanctuary was founded.”
Sabé bit back a gasp. The Order of Sanctuary was one of Naboo’s oldest legends, a secret society of female warriors that protected the inhabitants of the planet. It was the realm of stories mothers told their younglings before bed. Not the thing of reality.
“When the monsters were at last vanquished, one by one, the number of warriors diminished, but the Order didn’t go away. The nature of the Order changed to one of vigilance, watching over the people of Naboo should the need for their services ever rise again. We carry on their legacy, guarding it for future generations.”
The two women in the center stepped aside to reveal what was behind them: an old, red bladed weapon lay on a stone table, glinting brightly in the faint light. Behind it, on the wall, a mural depicted two women--one blonde, the other brunette--standing back to back with their eyes closed, clasping the other’s hand. Surrounding them were the faces of hundreds of young women, all staring at the viewer with the same fierce determination. Above them was another woman, her arms outstretched over the scene and her white hair floating around her jubilant face.
“As handmaidens to Queen Amidala, we invite you to join in our protection of Naboo,” their guide finally spoke. “We just ask one simple question.”
All six women, as if on cue, raised up their hands and lowered their hoods. Four of the women Sabé recognized as former handmaidens who had assisted in the selection and training of the current group. The other two, however, bore uncanny resemblances to the two women clasping hands in the mural.
The women clustered around the ancient weapon, holding their right hands over it. Sabé felt a shiver crawl up her spine as one, the women spoke:
“Are you ready to be strong?”