of the Father: Chapter 10
hear the raised voices before she opens the door
to the ODP office. Lorian automatically
steps in front of her, preceding her into the room. Talesan Fry
is standing at Korsa Dae's desk,
arms folded over his chest, glaring at a middle aged man in a crisply
certainly will not give you blanket security
access to all Senate data repositories," the Imperial officer says.
instructed me – " Taly starts.
"The Emperor did
not relay the request to me," the
officer counters, cutting across Taly.
"Perhaps I can
be of assistance," Padmé offers,
stepping around Lorian.
officer's eyes go wide and he immediately snaps
to attention and bows.
"Milady," he says.
"You must be
Lieutenant Piett," Padmé says.
Taly shakes his
head derisively at Piett's formality.
"The Emperor has
made it clear," Padmé says,
"that Taly should be given the necessary access to continue his
milady," Piett replies with a crisp
bow. He immediately pulls a comlink from
his pocket and relays the necessary requests.
"It will be done in minutes."
Lieutenant," Padmé replies.
walks into the conference room and removes the heavy
cloak she has become accustomed to wearing.
Despite having been on Coruscant for weeks, Padmé still finds
uncomfortably chilled most of the time.
Bail's aides, Maxim and Hennah are already at work.
Lieutenant Piett continue their brusque negotiation
as Mehht and Lorian linger in the outer office, oblivious to the
hostilities. Padmé is convinced that it
was Mehht's loyalty to her deceased fiancé that upset her last
than anything Lorian did. Padmé still
has very mixed emotions about Mehht's involvement with Lorian, but she
specific arguments as to why Mehht shouldn't become involved with him.
says from the door.
Lieutenant?" Padmé asks.
security clearance has been pushed
through," Piett explains. "But
despite the Emperor's orders, this is a highly unusual request. I
would prefer to leave an Imperial escort to
monitor the situation. Is that
Padmé replies. She doubts Taly will appreciate the
babysitter, but Piett does have a point.
And Padmé still isn't convinced that Anakin is the only one that
the full truth of Taly, Mara and Obi-Wan.
"Will you be leaving an officer?"
Piett replies. "Unless you have an objection, I will
perfectly acceptable, Lieutenant," Padmé
replies. She likes Piett though she
isn't certain why. He's overly formal,
but he seems competent. He also lacks
the slimy, bottom-feeder vibe she has come to associate with most
As Piett leaves,
Mehht enters the conference room. Padmé takes one look at
her face and says,
"Let me guess, more clandestine meetings?"
Mehht frowns and
Padmé heads off her reply with an
apology. "I didn't mean to belittle
what you're doing," she says. Padmé
truly doesn't mean to take out her frustrations on Mehht. Without
a doubt, Mehht is taking up a cause
that needs to be championed. But Padmé
can't shake her pre-occupation with the mysterious fund re-allocation,
Orn Free Taa and how it all ties together.
"I need – "
Mehht says, pointing to the outer
Padmé finishes. "I know.
Take Lorian. I'll call
it appears, is not available. "Did he say where he was going?"
Padmé asks Threepio over the comlink.
"I'm afraid not,
Mistress Padmé," Threepio replies
tersely. "You know how humans
are. They rarely consult me in their
Threepio," Padmé says, lowering the
Anakin looks up
from the computer terminal where he is
examining fighter schematics. Padmé
enters the small office off the Imperial War Room, leaving both Korto
young Imperial officer who accompanied her outside.
"Where the hell
is Lorian?" Anakin demands.
Mehht," Padmé replies.
With a flick of
his hand, Anakin closes the office door,
denying Korto his ringside seat.
explicit orders not to leave your
side," Anakin says darkly, rising to stand, arms folded across his
"I sent him with
Mehht," Padmé replies, sitting
down on his desk.
as she takes a seat on a folder full of top
secret intelligence reports, his expression a mixture of pleasure and
annoyance. Anakin forces his attention
away from the folder - and Padmé's backside.
"Lorian works for me, not you," he says.
"Assign me another goon," she says. "Mehht is completely mired in
out these slavers and she needs someone to look after her."
"Send Typho with
her," Anakin counters. "Lorian is the most proficient guard I
have. I used to have him tail Leia until
her skills surpassed his. I don't want
him wasting his time babysitting your little moisture farmer."
"I doubt he
thinks he's wasting his time," Padmé
"Lorian's opinion is of no concern to me. I issued an
I expect it to be carried out," he says
rolls her eyes at Anakin's high-handed pronouncement,
wishing for one minute he could acknowledge that the beings surrounding
him are real people with real lives. "Lorian
Mehht are … something," she
finally finishes lamely, realizing she isn't certain how to categorize
confusion is evident. "What are you talking about?" he
gestures with her hand. "Lorian and Mehht are … involved," she
"Dating maybe, I'm not sure."
The look on
Anakin's face is priceless. Padmé knows he would rather be
with his own lightsaber than spend another second discussing the love
Mehht Whitesun and Lorian Massineau.
"I told Lorian
last night that if he broke her heart
that I'd have him killed," Padmé offers only to prolong Anakin's
you're well within your rights to order
whatever executions you deem necessary," Anakin replies smugly.
doubt Anakin speaks the truth about ordering executions. The news
does not please her, which is
exactly what he intended when he said it.
shifts on her perch and looks around the office. It's as spare as
every other room he occupies
with the exception of the Fijisi wood ballroom.
The floor is black, the same as the Imperial War Room on the other side
of the door. The walls are the same dull
gray as his personal quarters. There's
no window and the only furniture is a black desk and chair. It
bothers her to think of him spending his
time here. She wonders what exactly he's
doing. She glanced at the schematics
when she came in and they don't look like Imperial designs.
can't you accompany me?" she asks.
"Surely you could look at these schematics as easily on a datapad
as you can on this terminal."
seems as startled by the request she just made as
Anakin. Trying to mask her own surprise,
she fixes Anakin with an expectant look.
Padmé isn't certain what possessed her to make the
She definitely loathes the idea of being
assigned another one of Anakin's assassins, but it's more than
She realizes that she does enjoy their
tête-à-tête and she occasionally enjoys looking at
him – when the desire to
punch him in the face isn't overwhelming.
"I'm afraid I
can't," he says and there seems to
be true regret in his tone. "I'm
leaving this evening for Csilla."
can't prevent the frown that tugs at her lips. "How long will you
be gone?" she
asks before she can stop herself.
A smile curves
his lips and he cocks an eyebrow. "Will you miss me?" he asks
replies in deadpan. "I'm just wondering how long I have to
complete my takeover of the Empire.
These things require precise
He steps closer,
leaning in toward her. "Trust me," he says
conspiratorially. "You don't want
wants to make a cheeky reply, she really does. But he's so
And his playful manner has suddenly turned
can clearly see the scar along his right eye.
The vibrant, twinkling blue of his irises is exactly the same color as
Luke's. She doesn't know why it is that
she always forgets just how sinfully handsome he is.
He leans in and
her hand automatically reaches out, cupping
his cheek and drawing him near. Their
lips meet on a sigh and he steps in closer, causing her to crane her
as he stoops over her seated form. His
kisses are gentle, nipping at her lips as one of his hands comes up to
cheek, his thumb playing along the delicate curve of her jaw.
Some part of her
knows she should fear this intimacy. It was only days earlier
that he turned her
own hunger against her, using it to wound and belittle. But this
isn't like the night of the Hapan
dinner. The air isn't permeated with
volatile emotions. And for better or for
worse, she does not fear him.
breathes. He takes the opportunity to deepen the kiss,
his tongue tangling wetly with her own.
Her hand moves along his jaw, down to the exposed flesh of his
neck. She can feel the muscles flex as
his kisses become more insistent. She's
mesmerized by the taste and scent of him, by how hotly his flesh seems
under her fingertips.
He pulls her
closer, gathering her up in his arms and she
goes willingly. Her body and soul ache
for this, for the feel of her husband's body wrapped around her
The hard, muscled planes of his are the
perfect complement to the soft curves of her own.
He whispers her
name and he sounds so needy, so lost that
she pulls him closer. She soothes him
with soft, comforting murmurs as her fingers thread through his short
locks. She presses soft, chaste kisses
across his cheekbone to the scar that Asajj Ventress gave him so long
ago. It's the other scars she truly wishes to
soothe, the scars undetectable to the eye, that have driven him to this
aggression and domination.
The door chimes,
but does not open.
stops, her arms still wrapped around his neck, her
lips pressed to his temple. Her breath
comes in ragged bursts, like she's just run a long distance. His
body still trembles under her touch, his
breathing as labored as her own.
Korto's voice says through the speaker
mounted near the door. "There is an
incident in Fobosi District which requires your attention."
"I informed you
I was not to be disturbed," Anakin
bites out in reply.
"Yes, My Lord,"
Korto says, "but I'm afraid
this incident involves your daughter."
Anakin exit the shuttle in the seedy little
port. They go only a few steps before
Padmé can hear two male voices raised in anger.
One of the voices belongs to Typho who is standing at the base of a
nearby freighter's gangplank, blaster drawn and aimed up into the
hold. The ship is a YT series Corellian
freighter that looks like it's seen better days. Padmé
wonders if it can even make orbit.
"I don't give a
damn," the other man says,
apparently the freighter's as-yet-unseen captain. "Someone is
going to compensate me for
Typho roars. "You're holding the
Imperial princess hostage. You'll be
lucky to escape with your life."
reaches the bottom of the freighter's gangplank,
Anakin at her side. His hand is pressed
protectively against her lower back.
Typho glances at them. At a nod
from Anakin, he holsters the blaster.
Looking up the
gangplank, Padmé can see both the captain and
Leia. The captain is a tall, handsome
human male with dark, unkempt hair and a cocky smirk. He appears
to be in his late twenties. He's standing at the top of the
blaster in hand. Leia is sitting on the
floor at his feet, knees drawn up to her chest, expression
There's a thick metal cuff around her neck
and she is clearly unhappy but otherwise seems unharmed.
As Anakin steps
into full view, the captain's cocky smirk is
quickly replaced by a sober expression.
He looks down at Leia nervously.
"You really are
a princess?" he asks nervously.
"I really am a
princess," she replies dryly.
laughs mirthlessly and his eyes dart around the
interior of the ship. Padmé has the
distinct impression he's checking exits in case he needs to make a
away. "There's been a big
misunderstanding here," he says.
Anakin says darkly. He extends a hand and both the captain's
blaster and a small remote that had been clipped to his belt float
Anakin's grasp. Anakin looks pointedly
at the remote and then the collar around Leia's neck. The collar
is a crude mechanism, the likes of
which Padmé has had the misfortune of seeing in the past.
Such devices are packed with explosives that
can be detonated by remote.
can't run for it, the captain straightens his
spine and meets Anakin's gaze.
"It's a dud," he says.
Leia gives him a
look of sheer outrage, springing to her
shrugs unrepentantly. "How else was I supposed to keep you
from tearing my ship apart, Jedi brat?" he asks.
Leia opens her
mouth, but before she can reply, Padmé says
reluctantly, Leia stalks down the gangplank, clawing at
the collar around her neck. When she
reaches the bottom, Anakin releases the closure and tosses the useless
away. He grabs Leia's chin and swivels
her head from side to side, inspecting her neck in the light.
Satisfied that she hasn't been damaged, he
ushers her behind him.
supplies. "Han Solo. Smuggler.
I tracked him from Aargau."
swivels around, looking at Leia. "What were you doing in Aargau?"
"Trying to hitch
a ride into the Deep Core," Solo
replies. "I found her after we'd
already left orbit. I ended up having to
abandon my run and come all the way back to Coruscant to ditch the
"Aargau is not
far from Coruscant," Anakin replies
"Tell it to my
customers," Solo counters. "Hyperspace lanes into the Deep Core
extremely temperamental. Not just any
pilot can navigate them. Now I'm behind
schedule and this whole shipment might be a complete loss."
exactly would the shipment be, Captain
Solo?" Anakin asks darkly.
"Phrikite ore –
" Solo says.
offers at the same time, smiling
nastily at Captain Solo.
Solo gives Leia
a withering glare and crosses his arms over
his chest, cocking one hip out as he looks down at Anakin.
Padmé has to give him credit. Few people, especially
smugglers accused of
kidnapping the Imperial princess, would be brave enough or stupid
stand their ground with the Emperor. She
takes note of the second-class Corellian bloodstripes that decorate his
pants. Obviously Captain Solo is not
lacking in bravery. It remains to be
seen if he is also possessed of a sense of self-preservation.
Growing tired of
the situation, Anakin waves his hand in
Solo's direction. "Compensate
Captain Solo and send him on his way," he says to Typho.
outraged, but Solo smiles smugly.
relieve him of any illegal cargo," Anakin amends.
Now it's Typho's
turn to look smug while Captain Solo huffs
"Do you have a
problem with the terms of our
arrangement?" Anakin asks Captain Solo darkly.
great effort, Captain Solo shakes his
head. "No. No problem."
replies. "See to it our paths do not cross
"Won't be a
problem," Captain Solo bites out.
The three turn
back to the transport shuttle, Leia stalking
ahead of her parents. They reach the
shuttle and Leia throws herself down into one of the seats. "He
treated me like a slave," Leia seethes at
"and all you did was take his spice."
his gaze at his daughter. "You have yet to explain what you were
doing stowing away on a vessel bound for the Deep Core."
"I would have
taken Luke's ship," Leia replies
flippantly, "but you impounded it."
Anakin is not
pleased with Leia's demeanor and says,
"Well, yes, now you and Luke can enjoy your punishment together.
Neither of you are allowed offworld."
Leia demands, springing to her feet.
"You can't ground me," she sputters. "I'm not a child."
says smoothly. "You're definitely acting like
Leia stares at
her father in outrage and something washes
over her, something dark. The consuming fire
of rage seems to submerge, replaced by an icy cold fury. She
looks from her father to her mother,
taking careful note of how closely they sit, of how Anakin's thigh
silence, she turns back to her seat and carefully
sits down, staring out the window.
paces back and forth on the veranda, trying to ignore
the sense of impending doom. Leia hasn't
spoken a word since the shuttle ride to the Imperial Palace. Anakin
escorted Leia to her suite and
informed her in no uncertain terms that she was not to leave the Imperial Palace for any
accompanied Padmé to her own apartment where he
remains, watching his wife pace the veranda.
explained why you're going to Csilla,"
Padmé says, stopping and turning to face him.
"Something to do with the Chiss?"
seeming as deeply troubled as Padmé. "I have to finalize
that were cut short by the Hapan visit," he says. "It can't
looks at him and Anakin runs a hand through his hair
in frustration. “Perhaps I should take
Leia with me,” he says.
“That would only
reward bad behavior,” Padmé says.
again, but clearly does not relish the idea of
traveling to the Csilla tonight. What
neither he nor Padmé wants to mention is the fact that if Leia
leave, it’s doubtful there is anything anyone save Anakin can do to
the few paces that separate them, coming to a
stop directly in front of Padmé. She
stares blindly at one of the many colorful, potted plants that decorate
veranda. Gently, Anakin reaches out and
grasps the Japor snippet between his thumb and forefinger, rubbing it
“I have to go,”
“If I don’t leave within the hour, we won’t make it to Csilla in time
for the summit. You know how the Chiss
are about timetables and propriety.”
nods without looking at him.
“I’ll be back as
soon as I can,” he says softly, pressing a
kiss to her cheek.
And then he is
rubs her cold hands together and turns back to the
apartment. She halts at the sight of a
short, wiry, middle-aged human male with receding black hair.
Typho steps forward, introducing the man as
Astor, Padmé’s new guard. Typho explains there are two more
guards stationed in
penthouse, Padmé eventually finds Mehht in the
kitchen looking forlorn. “Where’s
Lorian?” she asks.
“He didn’t tell
you?” Mehht asks and from her derisive tone,
Padmé knows that the he refers to
reassigned,” Mehht says. “He’s supposed to keep an eye on Leia.”
mentioned that Lorian was Leia’s guard in the past.”
reply and it is clear that she’s unhappy with
the situation. Padmé bites back the
desire to apologize. Lorian is an
Imperial guard. Watching Leia is his
duty. And it is quite evident that
someone needs to be watching Leia.
“I’ll see you in
the morning,” Padmé says, leaving Mehht to
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