Log:A Matter of Identity
"When I told my parents I'd be touring the galaxy, I didn't think it would include so many trips near home.." Chani's tone is dry, but humorous. The warm day has led her to shed the outer shell of her attire, leaving her in comfortable clothing fit for the heat of the swamp planet. The loose top covers her down to her upper thighs and its loose nature leaves most of her figure undefined. Passing in through the sliding doors into the pub, Chani's dark irises sweep the interior and drink in the distinct mixture of Naboo and Gungan architecture. She recognizes the clothing styles, the artwork, and even the music playing. It feels like home, even if it's not Naboo. "You're not like most nobles, you know. Running supplies to places.."
Aryn laughs, stepping in behind Chani and moving to her side. She gestures toward one of the open tables where a window is nearby, affording a view outside. Aryn is thankful for the interior of this building having bright colors that contrast to the hue of green the rest of the moon is dominated with. "I hail from a frontier world where work is constant. Like the Naboo, we pride ourselves in civic duty. My family recognizes its members for such by the type of cloak or cape we wear. Those who work toward the benefit and service of others wear a silver trimmed cloak, silver being the most prestigious and senior of colors, while those who serve in public office and represent the people will wear gold. Being a second born, my cloak has been silver for most of my life. It is why I chose to be a doctor." Aryn smiles. "I wanted to help people."
The gestured hand guides Chani's gaze towards the table Aryn intends, and the Naboo woman sets off for it with the soft taps of her booted feet against the pub's duracrete floor, the slightest of scuffs caused by the squared heels on them. She listens as she goes, head slightly rotated to offer the noble woman her ear. It's hidden by the veil of dark hair spilled over her shoulders and caressing against her bare upper arms. "We have some distinctions, but not like that. I'd say there are commoner colors and noble colors, but they are not used as a sign of anything. The only significant detail used to identify anything is chromium, and it's a metal used almost exclusively by the Royal House of Naboo to designate the queen's craft. Our starfighters have it, too."
Reaching the table, Chani's right hand extends to grasp at the top of the padded seat. Her fingers dimple the leather and plush cushion beneath it, and the subtle pull from her arm draws the furniture out. She slips into the seat, descending as she does, and both hands grasp near its edges to pair with subtle scoots forward to bring her closer to the edge of the table. "I feel like my chosen profession is a little more selfish, in retrospect. I told myself it could be used to help people, because music can bring joy, but.. I just liked playing it. I did my civil service in a hospital. It wasn't anything more than helping keep things supplied and doing menial tasks, but it was one of the times where I really felt like I was helping people."
Aryn takes her seat facing Chani, and sets her coat aside to fold over the back of a chair. She had brought it in case the interior of the pub was cold, because sometimes their environmental system could be a bit overzealous in its production of cold air. Mother knows the patrons could use it to combat the humidity outside. "Chromium is a beautiful metal, and distinctive. I could see why the Royal House of Naboo favors it. There are few precious metals in this galaxy that could surpass it."
Aryn situated the holo menu before them and glanced over beverages, listening while Chani spoke about her reason behind music and some history prior to that. "I think music is helpful to people. It heals in unseen ways and brings them peace; in that, it heals you too. I am sure there is satisfaction in knowing the music you play affects people, and you can convey things you would not normally be able to otherwise. I would not call that selfish, /even/ if you enjoy doing it. Music is intended to be heard, and the only way it could be selfish is if you kept people from hearing you." Aryn's compliment is accompanied by a gentle tone and smile.
"Did you enjoy working at the hospital?"
Aryn ordered a chilled brandy, something light on alcohol but tasteful with fruit accent. She oriented the menu for Chani to review, gesturing for her to choose their meals. She was the native afterall. The brandy arrived by droid, and a chilled glass was filled for each of them, filled being a modest term as only a third of the glass was occupied.
Half of her is cast in shadow, while the lower half of her is illuminated by the light beaming in through the window they've chosen a table net to. Chani peers through it, watching sentients pass on the walkways and glancing over the various nearby buildings while Aryn shares her appreciation for chromium. A hum rises out of her chest and dies muffled behind her teeth and lips, and Chani nods along to the words the noble woman speaks. Once she starts sharing her opinion on music, Chani's attention returns to her, gaze subtly flicking between the woman's eyes and moving lips, trying to watch the whole but unable to pick a singular spot to rest. The question pops and Chani's laugh is more a forced exhale through her nose than anything else.
"Enjoy would be a weird way to put it. I don't think I appreciated it at the time. I was young, restless, and I gave up quoits to do it. I think most of the time I just missed being in the water." Aryn orders the drinks. Chani orders them salads with small chunks of breaded meat mixed in. A rueful smile twists up her lips and she glances off out the window again. "Sometimes I dreamed of being a professional player like my father. I was in great shape back then. Yesterday made me regret giving up all the training." Chani hesitates for a moment and some of the smile dissipates. "Did you ever really get to choose what you wanted to do? I know sometimes nobles don't really get that choice."
Aryn watches Chani's face as she explains the restlessness of youth and the regrets that followed. She had a thoughtful expression through the whole explanation and nodded idly with each point. When asked if Aryn had chosen her profession, she nodded her head. "It was the advantage of being a second born child, I suppose. I was not the subject of my parents doting love or attention; that belonged to my older brother, Kier. He was the scion of our house, the combination of Cortess and Cole. For me, my wants were answered with wealth. I got to choose my education and pursue my ambitions. The only choice I was not afforded was love. Arrangements for unions are still a practice among my people, and it is something I cannot evade. Bloodlines /must/ go on, as my Mother says." Aryn shook her head and brought her drink close for a sip. She releases a long sigh and looks down, her cheeks a touch red with the topic.
Chani waits in silence while Aryn explains, gaze honed in to represent her intense focus on the blonde woman's response. Though her face remains mostly neutral, there are unhideable moments where her brows flicker towards one another and her mouth purses more towards fullness for the briefest of seconds. Her hands are folded in her lap and remain there while she leans back into the cushion of her seat, back straightened along its influencing shape. At the end, there's nothing but silence from the young woman. She draws in a quiet breath, but it still holds. "That sounds awful," Chani finally speaks. "I can't imagine something like that. Noble people on our planet don't have arrangements. Everyone is free to do as they choose." She trails off for a few heartbeats.
"I'm glad you were able to choose what you wanted to do with your life." She opens her mouth as if to say more, but decides better of it and closes her lips again. Before she can think of anything else to say, the droid is returning with their meals. Chani takes that moment to sip from her chilled glass.
"It is a unique experience. The Naboo's arrangement of monarchy differs from our own, where we have heriditary rights: Meaning, my children will be Princes and Princesses, and may one day rise to be King or Queen. It is a rare honor for power to shift from one House to another. More ironic is the situation with my brother." Aryn sits back as their food arrives. She places a napkin over her lap and prepares her cutlery. A quiet thanks is issued to the droid.
"He was exiled and stripped of his inheritance. What my parents had intended for him has now come to me. It is irony, I suppose. The day your parents think they can live without you is the day they suddenly realize your value. Now they look at me with foreign eyes, uncertain and weary of me. They want control; to manipulate things in my life to align with their own ambitions but I have become their largest obstacle." Aryn giggles at that. She begins to mix her salad. "My life is still my own, in essence, but I have to face many things that are not in my control. I am obligated to. Marriage, Alderaan, duty.. my life is a maze of service with a complex balancing act. My only escape has been.. well, moments like these or my /training/," she says with emphasis to mean the Order without saying it outright.
While Aryn speaks, Chani takes the time to lift her silverware and delve into the food. Greens and a chunk of the meat are speared through by the metal prongs, then removed with silence by the pressure of her lips against them. Chani chews slowly, perhaps thoughtfully, while listening to Aryn's explanation of Alderaanian politics. She chews more slowly when the topic of the noble woman's brother is brought up, and the topic garners enough interest out of the Naboo youth that her gaze lifts to focus on the blonde as she speaks. Only once she finishes chewing and swallowing does she start to respond. "That text I was reading talks about giving up all attachments and possessions. Are we not required to do that?" It's an innocuous and vague enough question.
"That is what the text says, but I guess the nature of our institution has changed a bit. It was easier for children to give up attachments and possessions because they had not been brought into their lives fully. For us, we have been brought in later in our lives. I have pondered if one day I might have to choose. It is hard to quantify the duty of our institution versus the duty of my people. I believe that I must choose my people. I promised Leia I would do what she could not, and I intend to keep that promise." Aryn begins to eat her salad. "I am not the only one who has similar arrangements. There are members who are married, and have children, and run their businesses and carry out their day-to-day lives in conjunction with our other duties."
"It sounds like an impossible position to be in. I still can't imagine someone telling me who to marry." The prongs of Chani's silverware brushes some of the leafy greens around rather than going for impaling them. She studies the plate for a few long moments, instead, as if she can divine the entire conversation through the fauna spread out on the plate. It crunches quietly when she finally applies the pressure to spear it through, and she restorts to quiet introspection during taking another bite of her food. Her mouth works slowly and her gaze rests on the plate itself rather than meet with Aryn's. She pauses only for a sip of the fruity beverage from the glass, smearing her fingers with the wetness from the beads of condensation gliding down its side.
"I have found that nothing is simple anymore," Aryn says softly and stoic. "I just handle each day singularly and move to the next. I hope this conversation does not affect our friendship. I... I have shared things with you I have not spoken of with others. I believe my burdens are such I carry with silence." Aryn looked to Chani briefly, using the pause to lift her own drink to savor the fruity chill of the brandy. It seemed to meld well with the composure of the salad, perhaps the intention of the Naboo native.
"I would never let something like that affect our friendship," Chani is quick to say, looking up so sharply that her hair flicks with the motion. "I don't judge someone for their circumstances. The only thing that matters about anyone is who they are. You're a respectable, honorable woman. My silence was only because I don't know what to say. You're always welcome to share things with me." Chani holds her gaze level with Aryn, refusing to let it waver or roam from its position. She holds it for a pair of seconds, then glances down to her salad to isolate one of the savory chunks for eating. It's tucked, subtly, into the pocket of her cheek. "None of us have to go through this galaxy alone. Others make us stronger, not weaker. I believe that's one of the finest foundations of the New Republic and its purpose."
"Thank you. I am relieved to hear you say such," Aryn says genuinely looking relieved. She sets back against her seat and it becomes more evident why she was often so tired. An invisible weight pressed on her shoulders figuratively, making it difficult to measure out who or what she should be. Aryn held her gaze for as long as it was, and she nodded to signify her gratitude. "I believe the same. Truly. My purpose in our fellowship has yet to be defined, but I want it to be teaching. I want to usher in the next generation to be lifelong students, to seek out the unknown and define it, and I want them to bring peace and help mitigate all the suffering in this galaxy."
Chani takes another few bites of the salad between listening to Aryn's explanation of what she hopes for herself. When she's finished with it, leaving a little less than half of the portion remaining, her fingers gently nudge the plate away from herself. She swallows what she's been chewing, and takes a larger drink of the fruity beverage to wash it all down. She exhales after, chilled breath skirting along the insides of her forearms where they rest against the table. "You can be apart of it, too. I can understand your position and that you feel like you may have to choose someday, but I hope that you'll remember that you don't have to right now. ..Maybe you'll never have to," Chani's shoulders lift in the gesture of a shrug.
"But right now, you don't, and you shouldn't live your life as if you do. Perspective, Your Highness. Live each day, not what might be."
"That is a fair assessment. Given my chosen trade, I have often tried to vaccinate myself for what lay ahead. It is not for the purpose of preservation, or some notion of fear. I /believe/ in what I am doing and the impact it will have. This is synonymous with both of my affiliations. I also believe that the two compliment each other. My mentor, Leia, was in a similar situation like mine. I believe she groomed me for this purpose. I only want to keep my word."
Aryn finally finished her lunch as well and gently set the bowl aside. She moved her drink to occupy the space directly in front of her. "I.. wanted to thank you for allowing me to speak freely. It is so rare I am gifted with such an opportunity. I fear I have dominated our lunch with it all."
Chani finds herself pausing for more long moments during this conversation than almost all others. The gravity of the topic is not lost on her, nor the identity of the woman sitting across from her. "I can't begin to understand what it is you go through every day," Chani starts with. "But there's one thing my father once told me that has stuck with me since I was young. He told me that while people may set expectations on my shoulders, and that life may sometimes feel like it's guiding me towards one thing, what's important is that what I want matters. I played quoits because of him. Part of it was that I wanted him to be proud of me. I think he saw that I set an expectation on myself when it came to his approval, and that's why he said what he did."
Chani savors another sip from the drink her fingers have been lazily curled around, no longer too cold to remain in contact with. "What I mean to say is that I'm sure your mentor is proud of you and if she trusted in you to do what is right, she trusted you to make your decisions, not hers." Chani shrugs. "I don't know. It's all over my head. All I know is that I'm afraid of failing and letting others down, too, and that's what I remember in those moments."
"Wise words. I should reflect on it, I think. I want both, but I recognize I walk a tight rope," Aryn reveals after listening to Chani and her father's words. Jedi of old would not have had such wisdom at Chani's age. There was value in knowing parents and experiencing their love and wisdom of life. Aryn believed the Jedi of old tried to cull the nature of people, and in doing so they colored the galaxy in black and white; a wrong choice or the right. Life grew beyond shades of light. While attachment and fear could lead down dark paths of thought, an educated mind could recognize the crux of the issue. A choice, like Luke had once said; A choice to be better.
"What is quoits like? I do not think I have ever seen it played before." Chani offers Aryn a smile after the noble woman says she should reflect on it. Chani recognizes she may have been overstepping boundaries. A young commoner like her could never grasp the high expectations of being born in a noble house, with the future of the culture and an entire people potentially ready to rest on one's shoulders. These are complicated issues she has no experience with. Her intent, however, was to act as a friend might act and to try to provie some solace from the worries weighing so heavily on Aryn's shoulders. The blonde woman's next question surprises her. "Quoits?" It's a stalling question, meant to buy her the time to order her thoughts. "It's played in the water with a ball. It's a team sport. You attempt to maneuver your ball over to the opponent's side and score. It's very.. physical."
"Oh, I see. Swimming is a taxing exercise. You must have been in remarkable shape." Aryn observes, her head tilts upward like she is trying to imagine it being played. Chani had mentioned earlier how she experienced regret for giving the sport up; Aryn assumed it had to do with stamina. "Is the game divided into.. rounds? Or like.. terms where its participants have to rotate out? I am weary to rely on my own swimming stamina were I faced with such a challenge."
"Swimming can be quite strenuous. The game itself used to be quite relaxing during the time of the old Republic. It taught concentration and patience and was a more simple form of exercise. You took the quoit, a ball that fits into your hand, and then attempted to throw it into small poles. This would give you points. It eventually developed into something competetive. The opposing team attempts to prevent you from making a shot, for example. It doesn't consist of rounds. The first team to a certain total wins the match. For understandable reasons, it's a game of endurance, but not one that can be played for a long time in one sitting. Players can switch out, but they try not to. It can be seen as weakness," Chani laughs at the idea. "And to think that holding a sword for awhile made my arms feel like they wanted to fall off."
"Perhaps it is a different type of muscle," Aryn responds in kind to Chani's last statement. "My brother told me when he attended university as an officer, the hardest things for him to do were often the simplest. Holding something up for awhile, he said.. hurt. I put no stock in it when I was young because I equated it to the bravado of a young soldier, you know?" Aryn clears her throat and laughs. "Then I joined the Resistance," this is said in a lower tone. "I had never interacted with soldiers outside of speaking with my father and brother. So when I was around all these other soldiers, I saw it to be true. Simple things caused the most grief with endurance. The Sergeants would always scream about repetition; and that kind of training built up a tolerance for their struggles. I know it did for me."
"It's something I'm familiar with. Between music and quoits, I've dealt with a lot of repetition. Eventually it just becomes something you can do without thinking. Still, there is such a thing as being prepared, and I feel as if I'm not remotely prepared for the demands this training will put on me. Not as prepared as I could have been, I mean, had I not given it up." Chani speaks with ease and at a measured pace no longer weighed down by the shadow of their earlier conversation. She finishes off most of the drink, though a few fingers-widths of the blue concotion is left in the bottom of the glass. She glances out the windows once more, before flicking her eyes down towards where the sun touches her skin and warms it. Her attention lifts to the Princess.
"Despite the difficulty, I'll work hard at it. I believe it's worth it, espceially if it means I'll be able to protect those who can't protect themselves." Chani sits up straighter in her seat. "Thank you for taking me with you. I realize that you have no responsibility to me beyond bringing me to the place I could learn. By that, I mean that you're not obliged to let me tag along to all these places you go. I'm grateful that you do, though. I feel like I've seen more of the galaxy in this past week than I ever have in my life. Including touring with the orchestra. Some of it has been unpleasant, but it's been eye opening."
"You are welcome to come with me anywhere, Chani. I believe learning to be what we are begins by understanding our environment. You will never know how much your help is needed until you witness the suffering first hand. This ties into your training. You may not realize it yet, but in time you will; when you activate that tool on your belt, you are illuminated. To your foe, you represent the justice they have evaded for so long. To the innocent, you are the light in the dark. The more /we/ travel, the more you will come to realize just how important you are. I have always been poetic enough to believe we can save the galaxy. I do not think that equates to the galaxy as we see it. It is the galaxy interpreted from the perspective of the person you saved. You saved their galaxy. How many galaxies can you safeguard?" Aryn smiles and finishes her brandy off with practiced bearing. When he glass is set down, she reaches over for her coat. "Care for a walk back to the ship. I believe they have finished delivering my cargo."
Aryn's explanation and guidance needs nothing further from her. Chani simply nods at the end. An enthusiastic nod that expresses the fervor such an idealism instills in her. Finishing off the last of her drink, Chani begins to scoot the seat back away from the table. She speaks as she rises. "Do you know where it's going?" There's intrigue in her voice. A hunger that expresses her desire and hope to see something new, just like all the other new things Aryn has shown her. Reaching her height, Chani pushes the seat back under the table and guides her left hand to the hem of her top so that it can be edged up to expose a pouch near her left hip. Drawing enough credits for her meal from it, she adds a few more before setting them next to her plate.
Aryn folds her coat over her arm and nods. "I do. Our next stop is Aurea, the forge world. It is a place steeped in art with grand fire forges and beautiful glass structures. I think this world will touch your heart." Aryn says. She places a few creds down with Chani's and pivots to exit the pub with her to gradually walk the pleasant pathway back to Restuss port and their ship.