Book 2: My training begins
Dairy of a future Queen
The first day I attended classes with the FNL kids, I was characteristically nervous. I had Sabé, but she wouldn't be in class with me. Sabé and I walked to school together, but she left me part of the way their to head to the Theed's public school. I followed a group of girls on their way to the FNL program. The girls were laughing and talking about some incident the day before at lunch. The children had seemed so still during her visit, so well disciplined and behaved. Yet, these same children were walking down the street chatting like "normal" children.
"Hey," I called out to them. They slowed and turned toward me. "Are you guys FNL students?"
The oldest girl smiled. "Yeah we are. I'm Erykah, that's Moria, and this is Rabé."
"I'm Amidala, I'm a new FNL student," I replied.
"Welcome to the fold," Erykah said. "You can walk with us."
Very quickly, things seemed to be going well. I had made three new friends. I told them about where I was from and they explained their backgrounds to me. Erykah was from Theed originally and from a young age her parents had tried to get her into the program. They hadn't accepted her until she was seven. Moria was ten years old and had only begun attending the program last year. Rabé had been accepted early on and was one of the few students who weren't sponsored, because her family was wealthy.
I pulled out my data pad as I entered the school doors. I had downloaded my schedule the day before and the required course materials. Rabé was in my first class, "World Politics", so it was easier to enter. We sat side by side as Professor Passi entered. She was a tall woman who walked as if a board was taped to her back. And the first thing she did was look at me.
"We don't slouch dear, posture is part of your first impressions. If you sit confidently, you will always be thought of as such."
"Sorry Professor Passi," I apologized
"Class, we have a new child amongst us. And she will now define what you all defined on your first day. What is a leader?"
I thought for a second, it had to be a trick question, but still the simple answer still slipped from my lips. "The boss."
"No, a leader is not a boss but a what?"
A boy raised his hand and the professor called on him.
"A leader is a guide."
"A better definition, but not a full one." She turned back to me. "Your first assignment is going to be an oral presentation on the meaning of being a leader, citing evidence from historical sources. Now to our study of Bothan politics. . . . ."
The teacher didn't address me personally for the rest of the class. Rabé told me not to worry, that she did everyone like that on their first day. I had two more classes before Lunch. A biology class and great Naboo literature. The Biology teacher was a male, Professor Bombay all the girls seemed to have a crush on. I didn't, he gave me a report to do on the amphibious species of Naboo. The Naboo Literature class was a little better, I had always enjoyed poetry. We were studying the great poet Breshay. However, I also had a paper due for that class on era of Breshay's poetry. And on top of all the research I was going to have to do for all these papers, I had regular homework too. I had never had so much homework to do. Already I was overwhelmed and ready to go home.
At lunch the kids came out again. Anybody who felt like it slouched, kids chatted about things their favorite broadcast on the local channels, they traded trading disk and played around. Nobody disturbed the kids during their mid day break, this was exactly what they wanted for the kids, time to let loose and be relaxed. After you ate, you could go to the game room or go outside. I notice, despite the fact the mid-day break consisted of kids being kids, the conversations were sometimes more advanced and sophisticated than her other school. Especially on the subject of King Veruna, everybody had an opinion on him and few of them were good.
I sat with Erykah, Rabé, Moria, and some other kids. They were all talking about Veruna's lack of interest in the common people and how they couldn't wait until somebody got the nerve to run against him. I will, Rabé said speaking up, In a couple years I'll knock him right out of office. Some University students came by and banged on the windows and stuck out their tongues.
"And we're suppose to be the children," a boy mumbled.
"Don't worry about them," Rabé said pointing to the students at the window. "They're harmless adults,"
I had "intro to philosophy" with Professor Bonus after my mid-day break. Professor Bonus was a bit of a klutz, but he knew what the subject matter well. I hated how the students made fun of him. He was the only Professor I had been able to answer right all day. And he was the only one who seemed to like me. And he gave me homework, but didn't make me do a paper.
My next class was "Mathematical Equations" with Professor Matic. I really wished I had gotten the astronomy class Erykah had, but she said it was for older students. Professor Matic was a play no games Professor like Passi. And she gave me a test, in front of the entire class. She said it was to asses where I was, I felt like she was trying to embarrass me. I got along well enough and could easily catch up given time, but I hadn't learned any of this stuff at my old school so I looked like a fool in front of everyone.
My last class of the day was called "Exercising the Body". Sabé was right, it was gym. Her dad was there, a tall kind man who was still an active part in Royal Naboo Security forces. He and another man rotated the duty of training these young students. I still remember his speech.
"The mind and the body are one, they depend on each other. Neglect one and the other may suffer. Do you understand?"
"Sir, yes sir," the class replied, shocking me with it's harsh military sound.
We did some push ups, jogged, and a few other small exercises before the day
was over. This class was situated perfectly for me, all the tension I had from
being swamped with homework I worked off.
I had left my pass key for home in Professor Bonus' class, so I had to run back after school to get it. He was still their compiling his notes. I paused upon seeing him. He really wasn't an ugly man, certainly better looking than Professor Bombay. He wore a pair of broken glasses that were held together with tape. Without the glasses, he looked a lot like my father.
"Looking for this?" he said with a smile handing me the pass key.
"Yeah," I replied receiving the key. "Thanks." I went toward the door. "And thanks for not giving me a paper."
He laughed. "I wouldn't do that to you on your first day."
"Why not? All the other teachers did."
"Precisely why I didn't. Somebody has to give you kids a break? You know, I read your file. Your from my old homestead."
"Really," I said happily.
"Yeah, I wasn't well liked, too smart. You have a lot of friends?"
"Good for you. So, does Digia still run the school?"
"Retired before I started." I stared at his glasses. "Why don't you get those fixed?"
"Well, I tend to keep rebreaking them. You know I was such a klutz I wasn't well liked even among the FNL kids."
"Now everybody is a little older, wiser."
"Does wisdom comes exclusively with age?"
"Interesting question. Why do you ask?"
"I have a paper do describing what a leader is. I figured it was relevant."
"Professor Passi?" Bonus inquired.
"Wisdom and age I think you'll find often come bundled, but not exclusively so. A man can be very old and have no wisdom. And in varying instances and child can have far more wisdom. Have you read much about the Jedi."
"Only heard stories. As far as I can tell their a bunch of wizard warriors who carry laser swords."
"Well actually there's a lot more to their order than that. What text we civilians can get a hold of about their order is mostly sketchy outsider observations. "May the force be with you" is a common enough phrase, but not many people understand it.As far as I can tell, the force exist as a balance of life. I'm a part of it, your a part of it, but the Jedi can speak to it and it can speak to them. Through them, we learn it's will and how to live better. By the time a Jedi student is your age, I would say they're wiser than many adults I know three times your age."
"I wish I was a Jedi, then I could have given Professor Passi a better answer and I wouldn't have had to do this paper."
He laughed and went to a nearby file cabinet. "I have a couple data tapes for you," Prof. Bonus said going onto his bookshelf. He pulled out two titles.
The first box said "Naboo is Red, How Naboo became a democracy" and the
second, "I am Me" a book about the great Queen Dimani. The data card box had a
huge picture of the Queen wearing the scar of remembrance on a powder white
face. King Veruna hardly ever wore these ancient symbols. She had this odd
feeling, a sort of connection with the nobel and beautiful face.
By the time she got home, Sabé was there chatting with Winema.
"How was your first day of school?" her grandmother asked
"Okay, Prof. Bonus was nice. He gave me some data tapes on Queen Dimani for my report."
"I waited for you after School," Sabé said. "And to my regret, I ran into Rabé."
"You know her."
"She's the very reason most FNL kids suck."
"Well I like her."
"You can, I never will. So if you two are going to hang out warn me ahead of time."
"You two cut it out," my grandmother interceded.
We smiled at each other then. We weren't really mad at each other, it was just a small disagreement. Sabé invited me to her house for dinner. I had to refuse, because of homework. She asked me how much could I have. I told her and her mouth fell open, she hadn't gotten any homework, they never did the first day after a break from school. We agreed to meet and walk to school tomorrow and she left. I studied till dinner time and for a few hours after. All my homework was done, but I hadn't gotten to any research for my papers. I really don't know how I got into bed, I can only assume my grandmother put me there after I feel asleep at my desk. I had never had to work so hard for homework.
I had an odd dream that night though, that I do remember. I was in a field
and Prof. Bonus took me in his arms and danced with me. It was really weird, it
would be hard to look at him the next day. But the dream wouldn't go away.
I had never had to be dragged out of bed. I usually looked forward to school, but I didn't even want to think about facing Passi and the rest of the teachers. Well, except Bonus, he was friendly. I'd wanted to get to the Queen's tapes, but I hadn't. At my old school, I would have finished them after my homework and brought them back the next day. I had a feeling Prof. Bonus would understand.
By the time my grandmother actually got me out of bed, I only had time for a light breakfast before I met up with Sabé. Like before, I broke off with Sabé in time to meet up with Erykah and company. Reading my tired face, all of them asked me if I was okay. I was ashamed to admit to them that homework had washed me out, they would think I wasn't as smart as them.
Passi picked on me again in my first class and got on me about my appearance. Having been exhausted by homework, I hadn't gotten all my reading done. It seemed like every teacher called on me for this reason. For the first time in my life, I felt like Benge. He was this boy at my old school who was always picked on by his teachers because they knew he didn't know the answers. But he didn't even try to study, I had, all night. Thank goodness for Prof. Bonus, he was the sunshine of my day. I might have quit all together if it wasn't for him. The five laps around the track was a nice relief at the end of the day too. I had a feeling at the end of the term, the only thing I would be passing was philosophy and gym.
After school I went to see Bonus again. This time, I admitted to myself, he looked very handsome. He had gotten his glasses fixed, I wondered if it was because of my comment the previous day.
"Hey, my girl's back," he said patting the chair beside his desk.
I loved hearing him call me "his girl". I ran and jumped in the chair.
"Yours is great."
"How you flatter," he said with a smile, leaning back in his chair and immediately falling out of it.
"You okay," I asked jumping up.
He said he was fine and got up with a broken pair of glasses in his hands. "Did you read the text I gave you?"
"I didn't quite get to them or any research. I feel asleep doing everybody's homework."
"You know the counseling center has a study skills program."
"But I could always get everything done at my old school."
"At your old school you weren't challenged. That was the problem."
"Wasn't a problem for me," I grumbled.
"Oh come on little one, don't tell me you preferred the easy life. I read your file. You use to challenge yourself and invent assignments."
"That was true, when I got bored I'd write out complex math problems and solve them."
"The difference was then you worked hard when you felt like it. Here you have to adhere to our schedule. With smart kids like you, the hardest part is teaching you that life's suppose to be a challenge."
"I already knew that. My families not exactly the heads of society. I mean I love them, but. . .they don't exactly have it easy."
"But you, personally, have graced along so far, right?"
"Yeah," I finally admitted. In general, my life had been easy up to this point.
"Our teachers want to break you out of that fast."
I understood. It wasn't that they didn't want me to believe in myself, they just didn't want me to believe my advanced intelligence excused me from hard work.
"Thanks for the talk Prof. Bonus," I said with a smile.
"Any time, how about I take you to the palace day after tomorrow. School's closed and I have a friend their who can give us a tour. Might be good research and more interesting than reading."
"Can my friend Sabé come."
"Marty's kid? Sure."
"Thanks Prof. Bonus," I said running out the room.
I met Sabé this time, because she waited. We walked back to the apartment complex together, but I told her I had too much homework. She said that the FNL program was going to scar me for life. I actually did a little better, I got some research done, but still fell asleep at my desk and woke up in my bed. My Grandmother had to again drag me out of bed and give me a light breakfast. The day wasn't much different from the one preceding it. I did do better asking questioned when called on and Passi had made me so self conscious about the way I looked, I checked and re-checked my outfit several times before I went to class. Still, I was glad for the end of the school week. I didn't study when I got home, well I read some more about our former Queen, but I considered that fun. Sabé had her dad drive us to game vid and played the virtual reality game worm hole. Then he took us out to eat junk food.
I called my mother that weakened, she said I looked healthy and that her and dad missed me. I told her about school, though I didn't say how hard it had been on me. I instead said it was challenging. The truth was I didn't hate the work, I would have enjoyed it if it didn't seem to pile up so fast and exhaust me at the end of the day.
I woke up when I felt like it the next day, studied for a few hours, watched a nature program with grandma, and then went to get Sabé so we could meet Prof. Bonus. He was waiting out front in a speeder. Sabé liked Prof. Bonus, thought he was nice, but didn't think he was as cute as I did, so I never brought it up again. We sped off and went to Theed palace.
His friend was a woman who worked for one of the Royal Council Members. She usually didn't provide tours, they had people for that, but she said Bonus was a personal friend. She was a small woman with blond hair and blue eyes. And I saw this goofy smile come over Prof. Bonus' face whenever he saw her, I hated her. I didn't really pay attention for that very reason.
The palace had an area sectioned off for tours and we were suppose to stay in this area, but Sabé insisted she knew the palace and that she could get us in the kitchen where they had some of the tastiest pastries on Naboo. I didn't like to steal, but Prof. Bonus and the woman I now know as Miss Duca were getting on my nerves, so I followed Sabé off as soon as we found an opening.
About the fifth time we turned a wrong corner, I got the feeling Sabé had no idea where she was going. And somehow we ended up in a huge ball room with a skylight so far above me I could hardly believe it wasn't linked to the sky. I loved the room and it was empty so Sabé and I decide to stay awhile. I began to dance around the room with myself, telling Sabé one day I was going to work for the King and get him on the right track. If Rabé was around, I probably would have told her I would work for her in the palace one day and we'd make up stories about it. Me, Rabé, Erykah, and Moria were always talking about the day we would all work in the palace together. But with Sabé I didn't say this.
"What are you kids doing in here?" a deep voice bombed into the room.
"Captain Panaka," Sabé said with a gasp.
"Panaka?" I questioned.
"He works with my dad," Sabé said running to give the man a hug.
"You mischievous one. Always getting away and roaming the palace like you own it. She says one day she's going to be queen."
Sabé blushed, as if this was a private dream that she didn't want shared. I smiled and patted her on the back.
"Well I would be glad to serve her."
"Your lucky I caught you," he said guiding them out of the room. "You could have been in a lot of trouble."
"Can we show her the hanger bays Panaka?" Sabé asked as if they hadn't just been caught in a place they shouldn't have.
"Sure? But first lets find your chaperons, I'm sure they're worried."
Prof. Bonus looked a little disappointed when he saw us, but Panaka made it okay. He gave them a tour of the "real" sections of the palace, where it's rulers actually worked and lived, a place few visitors got to see. And he got them some chocolate from the palace Kitchen. It was a very expensive off planet import. And it was the most delicious things we had ever tasted.
When I finally got home, I was to sleepy to study, but to be sure I was ready for the next school day I had to spend most of my day studying. I didn't really mind. I got most of my papers done and I was still well ahead of the due date. But the one that was still racking my brain was the one about leaders. As far as I could tell a leader was the man or woman in charge, the boss. I didn't know what Passi wanted. So I put it to the side.
Winema came in just as I was climbing into bed.
"I don't have to put you to bed tonight?
"Nope, I'm finished."
"I know school hasn't been easy on you."
"I've never had to work so hard."
"Do you want to go home?" my grandmother asked. "You can anytime you want."
"I am home Winema." I reached up and gave her a hug. I felt more than saw the pleasure in her. I really didn't see how I could go back home after experiencing the FNL program or Theed.
"Can you tell me one of your stories?" I asked as my grandmother tucked me in.
"How about how your father met your mother?" she said crawling in bed beside me.
I nestled down next to her and listened to her tale until I fell back into
the dream of Prof. Bonus and I dancing in the field.
Amazingly, the next day felt like a normal day. I was the first one to raise my hand for a math question in class. I had the best chain-of-comand diagram tree for politics class, I could tell Passi was impressed. In biology, I answered all the questions on the bog frog and turned in my paper on amphibians of Naboo. Everyone was beginning to see why I was picked for the program. The only problem I had was Prof. Bonus seemed mad at me for embarrassing him in front of his friend. I just wanted to be his friend again, so I resolved myself to apologize after school.
When I arrived at Bonus' door, a boy named Kai was sitting in class asking him for an extra credit assignment, I waited patiently for a half hour then headed home. I ran into both of my friends on the way, Sabé and Rabé. They were standing out front of the school arguing.
"Your just a stuck up, spoiled rich brat," Sabé yelled.
"Yeah, well your just a rude, stupid, barbarian," Rabé spat back.
"Just because I don't learn as fast as you, doesn't mean I'm stupid."
"No, your stupid because--"
"STOP," I screamed. It was time to put an end to this. "Now I like you both, your both great people. Did you know you both want to be Queen?"
"That unsophisticated--" Rabé began
"Don't start," I cut in. "The first elected ruler of our world didn't have an FNL program to prepare him. He was a good leader because of what he had inside at that very moment. And that's all that matters, not how much money either of you have or where you go to school. Why don't we all hang at the end of the schoolweek and see if we can come to an understanding.
"I'll try it, but it won't work," Rabé yelled stomping off.
"I'll do it, but only so you'll see who Rabé really is."
Sabé stomped off in the opposite way Rabé had. I suddenly heard clapping behind me and turned to see Prof. Bonus standing there. He was smiling. I walked over to him with a nervous smile.
"FNL program, we have an actual Future Leader. You know, despite our name we get very few actual leaders."
"What do I know about being a leader? I can't even define it."
"Think about what you just did," Prof. Bonus said kneeling down to me.
"What, I just settled a squabble, temporarily. I had too, they were both my friends. I don't want them fighting for the rest of our lives."
"You took control of the situation, but without actually bossing anyone."
"I did, I didn't even really think out what I was doing."
"I think if you go home think about what went on, you'll have your answer for Passi."
I smiled. He wasn't as mad at me as I thought. "Sorry about embarrassing you in front of your girlfriend. I'll bring your data tapes back tomorrow."
"I wish, she's not my girlfriend. And keep the books. I think they'll serve you well in the future. Want a ride home?"
"Yeah," I said excitedly and ran to the waiting speeder. I was more happy than Prof. Bonus could know about the woman not being his girlfriend.
On the ride back I did think about what I had done and cross referenced it
with what I had read and suddenly I had my answer.
I stood in front of the class, confidently, remembering my posture as Prof. Passi would have wanted me too. I realized being a leader was also in the presentation. I inhaled once, proud of what was going to be said, but not sure of how it would be received.
I began: "King, Queen, Viceroy, Senator, President, these are one of a thousand titles for rulers and not one of these titles makes a leader. A leader is not a simple thing to define. On the surface, it does seem to be someone in charge. A leader should be concerned with their image to a degree. How you carry yourself and how you dress can demand immediate respect, but they don't begin to get into the true nature of it. A leader is someone who sees a problem and tries to show people a way out of it. A leader is someone whose not afraid to speak up and go against the grain when their conscious says what's being done is wrong. Leaders are people who teach people better ways handling disagreements or keep arguments from escalating. Leaders must also be learners and be able to bend when necessary to the needs of others. A leader must never put themselves above the people they serve, for the people's interest should guide their actions. Being a leader is not a right, but a privilege built on trust. And it's a privilege no one should take for granted. For being a leader is to be a servant to the people you serve."
Their was silence when I finished speaking. The whole class stared at me for second at a time. Then suddenly, Prof. Passi smiled. It was the first smile Passi had ever given me. And the whole class clapped.
I didn't know what would happen with Sabé and Rabé or if I'd get over Prof. Bonus or grow to love him more. But this was my moment, proof that anything was possible.