of the Father: Chapter 16
He walks half a
step behind her, his hand resting at the
small of her back in a gesture that is both possessive and
Her palms and knees ache, her flesh abraded
from the rough stone floor. Not that
Padmé's complaining. At least he isn't
actively trying to scare her away.
She doesn't know
who he is right now – Anakin, Vader; she's
not certain. She doesn't know if that's
a good thing or a bad thing. He hasn't
shown any signs of feeling inclined to converse so it's difficult to
get a read
on his emotions or thoughts. She has the
impression she scandalized him with her earlier actions – shocked him
core. She doesn't think he quite knows
how to handle the recent change in their personal dynamics. She
is beginning to believe that for all of
Lord Vader's aggression, what he was really trying to accomplish was to
her from himself. She doesn't think he
believed it possible she could know the real him and accept him.
On that point,
she doesn't necessarily fault him. She knew – years ago – that
was changing. She could feel the
darkness in him, the secrecy mounting, the lies, the
And she looked the other way. She told herself he was a good man
– and he
was. But she denied any possibility that
darkness, true darkness lay in wait
inside him. She was so busy deluding
herself, pushing the truth away with both hands that when he finally
to her what he was doing, she was completely unprepared.
Padmé years to come to terms with his actions, with
her contribution to the outcome. But
fourteen years of hiding on Tatooine didn't change anything. It
didn't help anything. She thought she was so wise back
She was a Queen, a Senator. She achieved so much, experienced so
much. And yet, when it was all said and
done, when the Republic fell, when Anakin fell, she felt like a
child. She was heartbroken, humiliated, lost.
Time may not
have healed her wounds – she doubts anything
can ever heal those wounds – but it gave her a great deal of
perspective. Despite the depth of her personal tragedy,
she did continue to live, to draw breath.
She cared for her children, watched them grow. And somewhere
along the way, she learned to
live again. It wasn't a glamorous life,
not particularly joyous most of the time either, but it was a
And she is a far different woman today from
the heartbroken girl who followed her husband to Mustafar hoping he
it all back.
Lord Vader is
going to have to learn to accept her – and
himself. Because neither of them are
They turn a
corner and the hand-hewn stone gives way to
modern duracrete. Padmé breathes
easier. If she never has to venture into
the bowels of Imperial Military Detention Center H5 again, she will
herself blessed. They continue walking
in silence until they come to a small hangar bay. He ushers her
inside the shuttle, ordering the
pilot away and taking the controls himself.
Sitting in the
co-pilot's seat, she is surprised to find it
is still night. Time seemed to stop
inside that eerie place. A quick glance
at the console's chrono informs her that dawn will be quickly
approaching. She's so exhausted she isn't even certain if
she feels tired.
studies his profile for a moment. “What did Korto tell you?”
He doesn't turn
to look at her, keeping his vision straight
ahead. “Nothing useful.”
presses, “What about the schematics?”
He finally turns
and looks at her. “The plans he stole are old, obsolete.
They’re from a project that was abandoned as
soon as I became Emperor.”
“But Korto stole
the plans and then someone stole them from
waits a moment, then another, her patience wearing
thinner with every passing second.
“Anakin, what were the damn plans?” she demands.
He looks at her
again, smiling in amusement at her show of
temper. ”The plans were for a
technological terror Palpatine was hell bent on constructing. It
was a ridiculous waste of money and resources. I objected to it
from the very beginning and
as soon as he was dead, I scrapped the entire project.”
sinks back in her seat, chewing on her bottom
lip. The deeper they dig, the more questions they find.
The sky is
pinkening with dawn as they step out of the
turbolift and make their way to the door of her penthouse.
When they step inside, Mehht and Lorian are
waiting. Mehht immediately crosses the
room to Padmé. "Are you okay?"
Padmé says quietly. She can only imagine what Lorian might
told Mehht about the scene at the detention center. She supposes
it is quite a testament to
Lorian's attachment to Mehht that he mentioned anything at all.
She doubts he is accustomed to having
A quick glance
at Anakin confirms her suspicions that he's
glaring at Lorian. Across the room,
Lorian's expression is completely unreadable.
"Have you seen
or heard from Leia?" Padmé asks.
"Not since she
ran out of here yesterday
afternoon," Mehht replies.
frowns. With a
few mumbled excuses, she leaves Mehht and Lorian in the living room and
toward her bedroom with Anakin following close behind. "We may
have scarred Leia for
life," Padmé says wryly as her bedroom door hisses shut.
"She was more than happy to insinuate to you that I had a sordid
affair with your clone," he says.
"She can learn to live with our relationship."
Padmé thinks he's being a bit too flip about the whole
situation, she supposes he has a point.
Leia is for all intents and purposes, an adult. She may not want
to know the intimate details
of her parents' relationship, but she will have to accept that it
knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that this thing
between her and her husband is a relationship and it is going to
continue. She walks to the windows and pulls the heavy
curtains closed against the blossoming dawn.
She glances over her shoulder at him.
"We need to sleep."
She doesn't have to
open her eyes to know that she knows this place. The
wind whips around her and she can feel
the tiny pebbles of sand beat against her exposed flesh.
Slowly, she pushes herself up into a sitting
position, shielding her eyes with her hand as she carefully opens her
It's night. The cold of the Jundland Wastes bites into
her very bones. Before her is a
camp. She can see bodies spaced randomly
around the habitats, lying awkwardly where they fell.
Carefully, she rises to her feet. She
has no shoes and the uneven rocks and
sand dig painfully into her cold feet.
She stumbles forward, carefully picking her way between the
The howling wind is
the only noise. Several fires burn,
untended, in pits providing some illumination.
She searches from habitat to habitat looking.
She finally sees
crumpled to his knees in the doorway of one of the habitats, his back
her. Rushing to his side, she falls to
her knees next to him.
"Anakin!" She calls his name, but he doesn't
respond. His vision is riveted on the
scene in front of him, his face expressionless.
She turns and is
frozen with terror at the sight before her.
Luke lies in the middle of the floor, his eyes open but
seeping from the corner of his mouth.
There is movement in the corner of the dwelling and
Padmé's head whips
toward the figure shrouded in black robes.
Unable to move, she watches as the figure pulls back the hood,
silently mouthing 'no' over and over again.
She turns, shaking Anakin hard.
She calls his name again and again, but he won't look at her.
in getting his attention. He turns and
looks directly into her eyes.
comes awake with a start and finds herself staring
directly into her husband's eyes.
he demands with quiet intensity.
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