Prologue | Chapter One A | Chapter One B | Chapter One C | Chapter Two A | Chapter Two B
Chapter Two C | Chapter Three
*new*Author's Notes: Long, long ago in a galaxy right under your feet, there lived a somewhat crazy fanfiction writer and her flighty muse. Now, this writer (Meredith) and her muse (Carol) started many stories, one of which was this, before Carol's intense case of hyperactivity drug Meredith off to fandoms far, far away.
Dudes, people, it's been two years since I've posted anything for Faces in the Passageway, and I would not be at all surprised if no one remembers it. I thought it was going to languish, forever unfinished, especially considering all the times I'd tried to break the writer's block and failed.
And yet, here it is. I'm shocked, my own self.
Back chapters are linked above-- I've done a little revising/editing, and uploaded them in a more readable format.
To any old readers, I owe you-- BIG TIME.
As always, you have my undying thanks and love for taking the time to read this.
who has medical staff on standby, incase anyone faints from utter shock of seeing a post. ^_~
Faces in the Passageway 4/?
by Meredith Bronwen Mallory
Lord Vader's sanctum was smooth and chill, black stone on black stone, shades of non-light deepening into spectrums that became dark and eerie mirrors. High vaulted and supported with columns of disturbing, twisted volcanic rock, it was a shell to suit the creature existing within it-- the dream of a precise and maddeningly sane mind. Corrin Antilles made her way down the hall towards the inner chamber itself, a thing of blinding white against the darkness, like the jaws of some creature ready to consume. Her gaze flickered constantly, never resting in one spot, for everywhere the polished surfaces reflected back muted ghosts of her image, at once blurred and all too distinct.
"Lord Vader," she said, dropping a strange hybrid of a curtsy and a bow. "You wanted the files on Yalith Minborne?" Her starched white tunic rustled loudly against her stockings, the only sound besides the merciless sea-tide of Vader's breathing. For several long moments, she stood there, carry case held like careless schoolbooks against her hip, strands of strawberry blond hair in her face. Finally, she snorted, despite the pain she felt seizing at the small of her back. "Are you going to _say_ something?" she prompted.
"You forget your place, Dr. Antilles," Vader said, and though his posture never changed, his form somehow seemed more threatening. Corrin's stance shifted just slightly, that of a child who respects and fears fire, but is compelled none the less to punishingly risk. A wave of Lord Vader's hand and a small, skeletal droid moved forward, tray at the ready. The colored data cubes clinked softly as Corrin laid them down.
"You have been treating this woman for some time?" Vader inquired, rising to take the cubes, placing the first delicate blue one in the large holo reader. Yalith Minborne's visage appeared, particles of light given structure; a fresh and somehow eerie youth, riotous red-brown hair pulled half away from her face. It was a school holo, as recent as the new semester, but looking at it now Corrin felt an uncomfortable knowledge building in her, far from her rational brain. Somehow the image of Yalith seemed different from the girl she had treated earlier that afternoon. Behind her rosy glasses, Corrin's eyes narrowed, the only outward sign of a frown.
"She's hardly a woman," Corrin said, not moving forward. Vader stood before the cylindrical dais, unmoving, a forest beast studying something living in the light. The image of Yalith gaze outward, smiling a small, sad little smile that was at once inviting and still clearly a mask. The high, stiff color of her Academy uniform made her face seem even more pale. "She'll turn sixteen in eight months, so she'll still technically be underage when she attends the Dance of 500 in the spring. Not," she murmured with heavy, dry knowledge, "that this particular fact is going to stop anybody."
Off in the shadowed recesses of the hall, something snapped and broke, an abrupt and echoing exclamation. Vader's mask turned on her fully, so swift and unblinkingly fierce that Corrin took a step back, biting the inside of her cheek. Never the less, she continued, "You know what goes on at these things. The girls are presented to the Emperor, may he live long and well," the last was said so quickly that the phrase became one word, almost nonsense. "After that, it's an open market." She snapped her fingers smartly, almost sing-songing, "Come one, come all to the slaughter house, get your brides young and tender, oh how they squeal."
"I am well aware of the aristocracy's decadence, Dr. Antilles," Vader said, his voice without heat or cold. "I want information."
"It's not as if her family is really well off enough to be included," Corrin went on after a moment, struggling past the slight pressure that Vader's will, iron and invisible, was exerting on her throat. "However, her father is one of the Emperor's pet scientists, top level, black-box and all that."
Inhale. "You have treated her for some time?" Exhale.
"She moved here when she was eleven-- her mother was already dead, her father presumably took the position to pay for her medical bills. At first, she was under the care of a Dr. Yuheda, in the Amalone District. She was transferred to me when her father was promoted." Sardonically, "I'm not cheap, you know." She took a shallow breath, "I'm to understand she has a cadre of nurses with her at home, not that's stopped her from playing a little spade-side Sabbac with Lady Death."
"Suicide?" There was almost a hint of surprise in Vader's tone, and he turned to study the image one more, seemingly drawn to it.
"Got it in one," Corrin said cheerfully. "I took her on about a year and a half ago. She hasn't tried any of that since I've been treating her, but time was, she was giving it her best shot three or four times a year. She started young-- eleven, I'd say." Though Vader said nothing-- death's head still riveted in the flickering light of the holoproj-- Corrin sensed the air change slightly, and felt compelled to explain, "Everything about her medical diagnosis is in the cubes. She's a doozy, all right-- her lungs are the most obvious problem, but that's not even the half of it. From what I've seen, her father's not the most stable individual in the universe-- he's got the science bug. All work and no humanity, dubious value though that has."
Breathing still regulated, but lengthening. At last, "And the girl herself?"
Now Corrin's pinched features registered real surprise, and she pushed her glasses up on her nose. "As a person?" she asked dubiously, clearly unused to such a question. Particularly, she flinched internally, from this particular source. "She's a nice enough girl, I guess, if you like that sort of thing. Pretty isolated socially, but considering her peer group, that may just be a sign of good taste. I don't know-- she's got a lot of empathy and feeling, but at the same time, it's like she's not there. Can't say I'm fond of her-- but you've got to admire her knackers."
"Your meaning, doctor?" There seemed almost the faintest ribbon of humor in Vader's tone, patient amusement, but Corrin knew if was not directed at her.
"Well, she's got a spine, is all. She's got no love for the Empire-- wrote a pretty daring essay on the responsibilities of government and the definition of justice for Academy testing last year, almost got suspended for it. She's lucky she didn't get worse. I guess she managed to dance around any real criticism. I had to read it, what with that Articles of Proper Citizenship-- make sure she didn't have any," Corrin lifted her hands half-mockingly, "'rebellious pathologies'. She seemed to feel pretty strongly about it, but I'll be shot to sithspawn if you tried to call her a rabble-rouser. She's got class-- could call her a politician, if they weren't all lying sacks of Hutt-rotted mynok droppings."
"I find that unsurprising," Vader remarked, and the sentence hung in the air, seemingly without context. Something about dark Lord's stance, his rapt and unwavering attention, curdled the skin along Corrin's stomach, conjuring ghostly hangs from the past. Big, work roughened hands, under a small cotton nightgown. Shuddering visibly, Corrin opened her mouth, eyes widening even as the words came out. "A little young for you, isn't she?"
The blast that hit her was formless and without mercy, a Force of darkness so true it could not be seen. It slammed Corrin backwards, the angry, uncaring hand of some demonic god, until her body met rudely with the marble wall at the far end of the room. There was a dull, china-cracking thud as her body met with the paneling, and she slumped, form like a stingless puppet, before she was hoisted again by her neck, throat closing around her scream. Vader stood motionless, hand raised in one great black fist. He was looking at her, really looking, and Corrin fervently wished he wasn't. For the first time since she'd seen his white, grave-shade's face in the bacta pool, Corrin Antilles felt truly, honestly afraid. Not the healthy fear of a being so coiled and dangerous, not the ginger, respectful handling of something with endless, hungry fangs. This was a naked terror, plain her face, and it sunk into her bones even as her skin began to bruise from pressure.
"You will never imply such a thing again," Vader's voice was as uncompromising as the ghostly fist around her neck. "Breathe a word that even hints at such, and I will not hesitate to make sure it is your last." Corrin nodded, as quickly and desperately as her trapped body would allow and, when his will released her, she lay unmoving, cool stone tile a balm against her cheek. She did not move, even as Vader turned to examine the other data cubes, sending several small, hunched droids scuttling with a wave of his hand. Relief did not come to her, as it does after a violent storm-- she understood the difference between Vader's swift anger and this unimaginable, virulent protectiveness.
'Dr. Antilles to autopsy room four,' she thought in a dizzy, giddy haze of pain, 'we have proof of an organ previously thought nonexistent.' She imaged it there, on a clear silver table-- Vader's heart, wrapped and rotted, black and veined, dead but still pumping like some endless gasping scream. A revenant, dug up in the dead of night.
After some time, she was able to rise without blacking out, though pain draped her in a cloak of iridescent, red-hot nerves. Slowly, carefully, she left the chamber, and Vader spoke not a word. She drug herself, with all her own hate and that little, cotton-clad girl's fear, to her speeder, and was mercifully driven away.
At home, Corrin Antilles dressed her external wounds, took a heavy shot of Corellian firewater, and swallowed pills she should never have prescribed to herself. She slept, was dreamless, and put Yalith Mindborne firmly out of her mind.
From the files of Doctor Corrin Antillies, Registered Chest and Thorasic Healer:
NAME: Yalith Kage Minborne
DATE OF BIRTH: 19th Day, 15th Month in the Galactic Standard Year 3099
PLANET OF ORIGIN: Koe
FATHER: Dr. Souji Minborne, Microlaser Physisist
MOTHER: Musei Randein, School Teacher
Patient suffers from accute Degenerative Lung Disease, which corrodes the outer layer of the lungs (see notes on Parentage. This disease is unique to those from the Noad Cluster systems, planets including Boath, Daigor, Naboo and Semilee), preventing tissue from transfering oxygen to the bloodstream. Dead cells and blood collect in her lungs and block the esophogus. Alergens (see list of Reactions) and emotional stress may trigger attacks of coughing, vomiting, and loss of conciousness.
This disease is mostly genetic, though neither of her parents' blood cultures show any immediate DNA history of such. Though degeneration can be slowed, this variant of Lung Disease will proove fatal.
Patient has been perscribed up to five different pills, to be taken in combinations according to the severity of her attacks. (See perscription list.) In addition, Miss Minborne has been supplied with a portable breather, which will release medication designed to relax her throat muscles and allow air to pass through. Red Water therapy (usually used with burn victims) has prooved benificial, but the effects are not long-lasting. At current rate of remission and decay, the patient will probably only live to her twenties.
Though her body is already incredibly fragile, Miss Minborne has a habit of abusing it further. Patient has on two occassions over-dosed on a mixture of perscription drugs and Correllian-spiced brandy to near-fatal levels. Another suicide attempt was made by cutting her wrists, which has, to some extent, further hampered her blood circulation. In total, Miss Minborne has attempted to destroy herself a number of five times. (See case history, as these incidents occured while patient was not under my care).
Further, the young lady in question indulges, from time to time, in petty cutting. Most of her self mutilations are in the abstract shape of wings, drawings of flames and/or random symbols. (Her previous doctor identified at least some of these as coming from Huttese charms, but such similarities may be only coincidental, and have not prooved conclusive during Miss Minborne's treatment.)
Patient was accurately diagnosed at the age of five with extreme pyrophobia. Her original doctor decided to concentrate solely on this fear-- through a series of therapies, Miss Minborne has reached the point where candles and other common-place uses for fire only give her discomfort. Her reaction to large, open flames is considerably less controlable. At the age of seven, she began attempts to end her life; after the first two, this devolved for a few years into the simple cutting mentioned above.
Originally, Miss Minborne was diagnosed with Fractured Personality Disorder by her third doctor (see case history for complete list of healers and medics consulted). Her symptoms included fugue states, during which she would 'blank' out, refusing to answer when her name was called and failing to recognize family members/close friends. Patient also suffers from occassional sleep paralysis and night terrors-- the majority of her nightmares, when she will talk about them, revolve around her fear of fire and a 'Death's Head', who offers her his hand. It has been hypothisized that she may be a victim of sexual molestation-- however, aside from the overwhelming male presence in her dreams, there is really no evidence to support such a theory. It is my considerate opinion that this 'Death's Head' is not a literal figure, but instead a personification of the things inside herself Miss Minborne unconciously refuses to face. That she has attempted her own death so many times figures in greatly. Patient also has 'waking dreams', during which she relates to those around her in an somewhat different manner. (Only three of these episodes have been documented-- twice Miss Minborne [at the time only eleven] asked to see her children)
Later tests have proven the original diagnosis of Fractured Personality Disorder to be false. Under hypnosis, Miss Minborne will still respond to her name, and-- when asked who is present in her mind-- replies that it is only, 'myself and me'. When questioned further, she only answered, 'We are the same thing, two me-s, I and I, one person". These two "entities" are not individual enough on their own (though Miss Minborne is certainly very individual in and of herself!) to be called seperate personalities; in fact, they overlap in almost every area. "Yalith" seems to have active knowledge of the world around her, while the other has some limited active and complete passive understanding, and knows some things "Yalith" does not. It is the opinion of this doctor that Miss Minborne suffers instead from Dissociative Phantom Personality Disorder, in which her concious and unconcious mind have an unusually large "gap" between them. The Yalith I speak to during sessions is essentially the Yalith at the core, give or take a few minor details.
Sleeping pills have been perscribed in addition to her other medicine. Since her personality disfunction is not severe, and because her "selves" are not fully seperated, the two 'entities' can not readily be merged-- her DPPD and the root of her 'Death's Head' nightmares remain untreated.
Though young Miss Minborne is rather bright, creative, and confident in herself, she clearly lacks a drive to involve herself in daily living, and has a fear (which almost borders on distaste) for people in general. While compassionate and willing to help others, she does not wish to become close or involved with many-- a sort of emotional shielding.
FILE DOWNLOADED FROM KYOSHIMA CLINIC MAINFRAME, ON THE 3RD DAY OF THE SEVENTH MONTH OF GALACTICA STANDARD YEAR 3114.
FILE ENCRYPTED, LOCKED, AND REMOVED ON PERSONAL ORDER OF LORD VADER.
MEREDITH: *eyes Carol* Well, young lady, now what do you have to say for yourself?
CAROL: *chowing down on McDonald's* Mfah wga yah jahwf!
MEREDITH: *rolls eyes* Don't talk with your mouth full.
... muses. What can you do? ^_~
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