Ocean Elf had just sprawled on her bed when there was a knock.
"Ocean?" Sheev called.
"Oh, crap," the elf muttered under her breath as she sat up.
Since the new emperor had just been an important part of a little girl's judgment that was supposed to convince everyone (especially the elf), that Anakin was the most important and purist thing on Tatooine, Sheev was the last one besides Anakin that Ocean wanted to talk to.
"Ocean Elf?" Another knock followed.
Elf sighed and stood up. "Coming," she said, and in a few moments, opened the door. "Yes?"
"May I come in for a moment?" Sheev asked.
"If you like." the elf responded uncertainly, and withdrew to let him in.
Sheev took a seat in a chair against a wall. "What's troubling you, Ocean?"
"I'm trying to decide if I should stay over until your ceremony or leave for home and come back on the day of..." she replied.
"It is set for twelve days from now - two weeks to the day that Palpatine was annihilated. That will give enough time for the word to spread and everyone who wants to attend to get here. Much as we would love to have you stay over, we understand your wanting to go back home for a time until the date gets closer."
"Oh, speaking of which, here is my card," said the elf, handing one to him. "I still have to pass out the others before I go. And, thanks for understanding."
"And thank you for the card." said Sheev. "Now, what is really troubling you, Ocean Elf?"
"Please, talk to me?" he said gently. "I don't bite."
That earned him a slight grin and barely audible chuckle from the elf.
"What is it?" he asked.
Elf took a deep breath. "It's the little girl who arrived today. At least one good thing is that she wasn't missed and left out in the desert as I thought might've happened when we went to go get Shmi."
"That's true," Sheev said, and gently prompted the elf to continue. "But something else is bothering you about her."
"How she got here and why." Ocean responded. I have two theories."
"Go ahead, please." he encouraged.
"She said she was brought here and doesn't know how. What if she was imagining herself here to meet Anakin, and the force actually brought her here as a result? If her midichlorian count is high enough, could that happen?"
"That is very interesting," said Sheev, "and I think it could happen. I'll talk to Obi-Wan or Luke about that and other things. I know she's frightened of me. But maybe one of the others can help her to open up. I hope she will come to think of me as a good friend one day too. What's your other theory?"
"She said she was terrified. Well, I know how it feels being suddenly wooshed against your will and beyond your control to somewhere else. That's exactly what happened to me when Anakin summoned me here several days ago. So I wouldn't put it past him to do that again, this time with a little girl. For what reason, I don't know; but that the one person she kept demanding to see when she arrived was him. That's just a bit too coincidental for my liking."
"Yes, this is something else we will be looking into. But what I found out for why Anakin brought you here was because he tried to reach out and communicate, and never got any answer from your world."
"No communications reached our HQ from him. I'm not sure I would've answered even if they did."
"Why is that." Sheev asked.
The elf sighed, "Oh, never mind. He doesn't exactly have a stellar reputation on my home world." she said.
"Well, be that as it may," Sheev said, "It is also true that there's a high risk of communication failures at such great distances, but that is ultimately why he resorted to this."
The elf sighed. "Okay, understood, but not excused." she finally said. If he has done the same thing with the little girl as a means for him to get me to stick around for her sake so he can try to win me over as a friend - or something more serious - " she said with a grimace, "he can put that idea out of his mind, permanently."
Sheev looked surprised for a moment, then dismayed. He and Ben knew that Anakin might have had hopes for something like that, but now these frequent events helped the elf figure that all out so soon.
Sheev tried to appeal to the memory of what compassionate moments had transpired in the past few days. "Are you sure you want to throw all that away? After all that's happened? After all he went through?"
The elf sighed in annoyance.
Sheev continued. "After all you did for him?"
"You mean after all I did to stop an evil slime-mold from committing more sadistic heinous stuff. I didn't do it for just him. He brought me here, told me what was going on, and things went from there."
"You're the first woman outside his own family who wept over what painful treatment he had to go through for more than three decades."
The elf flushed. "Who told you that?" her voice became stern with indignation. "I would've been just as upset over some sand person undergoing that for the same length of time. That was not affection for Anakin Skywalker, it was sheer horror."
There was a tense silence, and then Sheev finally said quietly, "I see."
Ocean continued. "And don't get me started on that whole business abut you having to judge this little girl as worthy to meet Anakin. Just who in the world does he think he is anyway?"
"Ocean - " Sheev said, "That is just a measure to make sure of safety."
"Oh please! The elf stormed.
The new emperor suddenly became stern, but gravely calm. He stared at the elf intently. "Shout like that again," he warned, "And I will banish you."
The elf glared at him. "As if that would be a punishment," she muttered. She took a step toward him and said menacingly, "I was brought here against my will. I will not be sent away against my will. Like it or not, you are stuck with me until I say otherwise.!
"Ocean, may I remind you that I am emperor here!" he fired back.
"And I am called Ocean for a reason. Don't try me if you want what's good for you!"
"You wouldn't..." he said.
"Threaten banishment again, and I will deluge your dwelling until there is nothing left!
He shuddered, and then said, "This isn't getting us anywhere." Then he continued with the previous explanation. "Palpatine just left everything open so anyone could come in and raid or otherwise make trouble." Sheev explained.
"Or zap foreigners in from galaxies away without their consent or even so much as a warning beforehand and mess with their emotions to make them comply."
"I can see where that would be very upsetting." he said.
"No, no I don't think you do." said the elf. That's just lip service. All you care about is Anakin.
"Now Ocean, that's - "
"Judging a little girl as 'worthy' to meet Anakin doesn't sound like a safety measure...AT ALL!"
"Ocean - " Sheev began again, "Even a child with the power of the force and an ill will could do serious damage, and with Palpatine being so recently destroyed, we were just making sure the girl bore no ill will toward Anakin."
"Ah yes, because it's really all about Anakin, Anakin, Anakin. Never mind the rest of the galaxy, let's all orbit around freaking Anakin!" the elf snarled. "Banish me if you like - when you've been sworn in. I'll be long gone by then and don't plan on coming back as long as everyone keeps carrying on about Anakin."
"Now, Ocean, that isn't fair." said Sheev.
"Exactly." she said.
"I meant what you're saying isn't fair." he said.
"Oh, but it's accurate from where I see it." she countered. "Ever since I got here, it was Anakin this, Anakin that, Anakin and his suit, Anakin and his past, Anakin and his pain, and just when I finally thought that was all over and we were going to start focusing on getting you installed as the new emperor, this new girl shows up and all of a sudden it's gotta make sure she's worthy to meet Anakin! Even she was whimpering desperately like some lovesick puppy to see him. That was already back in training before we saw her up the stairs into your room for that freak judgment thing. Gah! Makes me sick!" She wasn't shouting, but the dislike was clear in the clipped and hissing consonants and frosty tone of voice. She couldn't have looked more disgusted.
The emperor took a deep breath and pondered carefully about what to say next. "What we're really doing with this screening process is guarding against threats."
"But that doesn't make any sense..." said the elf. "If you're trying to keep travellers and newcomers safe here, you don't do that by 'judging' them, let alone as 'worthy to meet' some person. That's what I mean, this sounds more like a measure to protect Anakin and put him up on some pedestal than keep tourists and immigrants safe. It's not as if your precious Anakin is a saint. As Darth Vader, he freaking kidnapped and tortured his own daughter, then another guy who was working against the dark side, and it doesn't matter how long ago that was. He didn't just haul off and slug somebody in a fit of anger, he actually committed deliberate prolonged torture. So if you are still puzzled about why I hate this guy, I hope this clears it up!""
"But that was before, when he was still known as Darth Vader."
"I don't care!" the elf shot back savagely, "He's still Darth Vader as far as I'm concerned."
There was a silence. Sheev disdained torture as well, so this was news to him. Unable to come up with an answer that would both satisfy Ocean and keep himself out of possible trouble with Anakin, whom he actually feared, he chose to stick to the subject of the flawed judgment policy. He conceded, "I have to agree with you on that judgment policy, it doesn't make sense the way it's set up now. We were in such a hurry to put a measure into place when the child arrived so unexpectedly that I had no time to think it through. I'll do what I can to get this measure revised and re-worded so no innocent little child has to go through that again.
The elf stopped glowering, and then she said more gently, "I know you will all look after the little girl, and I wish her all the best."
"I'm sure you do," said the emperor, "Including that she has a mother and father. But if not - " his opening to attempt persuading the elf to start giving in to Anakin's agenda concerning her.
"Anakin might be a father figure to her, but it will never be Daddy Anakin and Mommy Ocean, never." said the elf, doing up her jacket to go."
"Never's a long time," said Sheev, "what if you two were the only two adults on this planet?"
"I do not ponder such hypotheticals. If that was the case, she could just live with him. Or I could take her to my home world and see about finding her an adoptive home. Besides, maybe the little girl already has parents. If not, surely there are other people around who would give a loving home to this child. Try looking beyond Anakin for once."
Sheev sighed. "This is going to break his heart."
At her wit's end, Ocean's expression hardened. "That's too damn bad." she said tersely.
"Ocean Elf," Sheev said with a stern edge returning to his tone, "I may not be officially emperor yet, but you watch your language when talking to me...!"
"Sorry, I'll re-fraise - that's too darn bad." she said. "Look, I realize he's probably wanting for good female companionship since he caused his wife to die of a broken heart by turning to the dark side, and don't give me all those excuses about how he did that to save her etc. etc. It ads up to epic fail all around. The fact is that companionship is not gonna come from me, not now, not in the near future, not in the forseeable or unforeseeable future, not ever..."
"He must've had such high hopes - " said Sheev, "Not since his late wife Padme has a woman come along and - "
"Yes, well, his hopes that I was supposed to help him attain, were met. He is healed now. He no longer requires the suit. Palpatine is a goner. I did what was originally expected, nothing more, nothing less. Anakin doesn't owe me anything but space and I don't owe him a - " she checked herself just in time to avoid another language admonishment, "freaking thing!"
"Ocean - "
She continued quieter but still in frigid tones. "We don't have anything in common and never will. His Super-sonic hearing creeps me out. I don't wanna stick around where somebody can hear what I say or what I eat and drink from who knows where else in the building. I am not even remotely attracted to him. Anakin getting any idea, after only a few days, that he and I could be an item, is repulsive and insanity off the charts." then her voice became quieter, deeper, and threatening. "And if he ever manages to put me somewhere against my will again, he will regret it, as the very last thing he ever does."
"You surely don't mean that." said Sheev, looking appalled.
"I - mean - it..." the elf said in a quiet but menacing tone that was nearly a whisper. "At this point, I just want him out of my life and hope this is a strong enough hint."
There was a punishing silence, then Sheev frowned, eyes looking angry as he collected himself. At length, he said calmly but decisively, "Ocean, I now relieve you of your duties here."
The elf narrowed her eyes accusingly at him. "It's clear whose side you're on. You didn't hire me, so you can't fire me; I quit."
"Must you always have the last word?" Sheev asked, becoming vexed.
"You're hardly the first to point that out."
"That does not surprise me." said Sheev, throwing his hands up in vexation.
"Bottom line is there will never be an Anakin and I, no matter how many tears he cries over it or how many people he gets to run interference for him. And he for sure wouldn't want me going after him if he rejoins the dark side, and I'm not dismissing that as an impossibility either! I've had it, I'm done, and trust me on this one, it would not be good for anyone if I was forced to stay here and fulfill some role out of obligation. So I'm off."
"Ocean, don't do this, don't leave this way. Let's talk it over." said Sheev.
"There is nothing left to say!" Look," the elf moved over to a counter and laid some small cards out on it. "I've got these business cards, one for Luke, Leia, Obi-Wan, and Yoda. Shmi and Felicity are welcome to contact me too, but they can just copy the info from one of these," Ocean lay the last card on the counter.
"But surely," Sheev said, troubled by something she said earlier, "you didn't actually mean you'd make good on that threat if summoned again. Tell me you don't mean that literally."
"Nobody is ever gonna get away with that again. Suppose I got spirited away and couldn't get back, and suppose something happened to one of my family while I was here? What if something already has? I don't wanna go back only to find one of my parents is in the hospital or has died!" the elf sounded and looked on the verge of tears, but fought them back with a vicious bluster, continuing, "And if that's the case, I'm holding Anakin personally responsible!" she hissed.
"I realize this must've shaken you terribly. But I don't know how to break this to Anakin." Sheev said.
The elf glared. "Anakin Schmanakin! He's a big boy, he'll survive! Just tell him to forget about me. Unless he's already overheard... the others are welcome to contact me - but not on his behalf!" Her glare mellowed into a determined gaze as she looked at Sheev. "He is not the new emperor...You are."
Ocean," he said. "I feel as if I owe him - to make up for the things the last emperor did."
"Well, you don't." she replied. "The debt Palpatine owes to every citizen he's harmed simply can't be repaid." The elf's expression mellowed even more. "You can only forge ahead and be the best emperor you can be, to all citizens."
"That's sound advice. "Will you take mine? Go home, make sure your loved ones are all right, then get yourself some rest. Forget about Anakin Skywalker."
"Gladly." the elf said, "but you threatened banishment, so I will not be back." she gave him an ice cold glance. "goodbye, sir."
With that, she disappeared.
Shaking his head dejectedly, Sheev made his way slowly out of the room and went on his way. He went looking for little Felicity.
He tried so hard to reassure Felicity that he was not a frightening individual, and he had to inform the others that Ocean Elf had left.
Luke and Leia were surprised and dismayed, as they enjoyed her company.
Cosima and Ameh were about to call it a 's slow work day at Mission HQ when a door was roughly opened and slammed. The closet door was subjected to the same treatment, and the coat hangers were violently jangled.
Neither fairy had the chance to get up and go see who it was. A furious elf stalked into the room.
"Ocean!" Ameh exclaimed.
"Welcome back, what happened?" asked Cosima.
"Guys, I'm really sorry about this, you all must've been worried sick. It wasn't my idea to go in the first place, let alone be away this long.""
What happened?" Cosima repeated. "Are you okay?"
The elf huffed and seemed to clam up. "No, I am not." she said. A few moments later, she picked up the phone and dialled.
There were a few minutes of emotional conversation with first her dad, then her mom, and then she hung up, heaving a big sigh. "Thank goodness everybody's all right." she said, looking much better for a few moments.
"Do you want to talk about it, Ocean?" Ameh asked.
The elf shook her head. "I'm just glad everyone back here is all right. And this will never happen again!"
What?" Ameh persisted.
The elf looked livid. "Only the most exasperating, spirit-crushing, ignominy of a trip I never asked to go on! Nobody gets away with that!"
Who was it?" asked Cosima.
"Ocean shook her head. "It's just too insulting to go into detail. Nearly a week out of my life that I'll never get back!" she huffed. "But we're going to take care of something right now. I want this property and area surrounding it secured so no one can set up portals and grab people from here against their will ever again!" She worked with Ameh and Cosima to put those measures in place.
Soon afterword, she had a tearful reuniting with her family, who had all been worried sick about her. They threw a dinner party to welcome her back.
She finished up the evening holding her pet rabbit and de-stressing to some degree, but it was just enough to bring her adrenalin down so she could have a good cry. Now with the party over, and no one around to overhear her, she finally succumbed to furious sobbing.
Once she subsided, she went all around the HQ building and methodically put away all Star Wars items she could find. Since they didn't belong to any one person, they were spared the destruction they would've gotten if they had been exclusively her possessions. But she did not want to see anything about that would remind her of the worst and most insulting failure of a trip she never consented to in the first place.
Having finally done that, she went to bed and eventually drifted off to sleep.