Sins of the Father:
Cocessions and Contention
at Padmé. They’re in Padmé’s bedroom.
vision flickers over the trunk that Kore and Sullee moved earlier in
afternoon. It feels like a lifetime ago. After Anakin’s
abrupt departure, Bail asked Padmé to meet him at his Senatorial
They spent hours sifting through refugee paperwork and barely managed
scratch the surface.
Padmé hoped to return to her apartment, soak in the luxury of
bathtub and then collapse into sleep. However, she returned to
Mehht pacing the halls, contacting transport companies to secure a
passage to Tatooine. After Anakin’s deplorable treatment of the
woman and Padmé’s regrettable yet unavoidable desertion,
doesn’t fault Mehht for wanting to go home.
“You don’t need me here,” Mehht says firmly. “Kore and Sullee are
than capable of serving as your handmaidens.”
“They are, yes,” Padmé agrees, “but I asked you to come here as
Mehht sighs and sits down on the corner of the bed.
she says gently, “I love you like a sister. I don’t know what I
have done without you these last few years, but you have friends
Important friends. Friends who can help you with your official
and friends who know which fork to use at a fancy restaurant.”
Tears prick Padmé’s eyes and this time she allows them to wet
cheeks. She crosses the few steps to Mehht and sits down next to
on the bed. “I’m sorry,” she says quietly. “I can only
how difficult it must be for you being thrown into the chaos of my life
Guilt instantly softens Mehht’s features. “Padmé,” she
gently, taking Padmé’s hand. “I don’t mean to
I just feel so ... useless here.”
Padmé smiles through her tears. “Mehht, trust me, you
never be useless.”
A wry smile lights Mehht’s face. “I don’t know,” she says
“I’m not sure knowing how to cure bantha hide is a particularly useful
in Galactic City.”
Padmé laughs. “Maybe not,” she agrees, “but you are very
to me.” She takes a deep breath and squeezes Mehht’s
“I do have friends here,” she says, “but you’re the only one who really
Mehht’s expression sobers and she studies Padmé for several long
“Do I?” Mehht asks carefully.
“Of course,” Padmé answers almost defensively.
Mehht stands and turns to face Padmé again. “I thought I knew
very well,” Mehht says. “But I don’t understand that man.
I don’t understand why you’re still married to him. It makes me
if I really do know you at all.”
“You know me,” Padmé says firmly.
Padmé rises to her feet and walks to the window, trying to
Mehht’s perceptive gaze. “He’s Luke and Leia’s father,” she
“It would be impossible to remove him from my life.”
“Perhaps,” Mehht says skeptically, “but this is the first time you two
seen each other in how long?”
Padmé actually has to do the math. “A little over fourteen
“Exactly,” Mehht says. “I don’t know why you don’t just file for
“File with whom?” Padmé asks. Her voice is not unkind,
weary. “He is the Empire. It would never be
The paperwork would never be processed. It would be a death
for the legal clerk who dared to enter it into the judicial system
Mehht’s lips purse in a frown. It’s clear that she deeply
of Lord Vader and of Padmé’s judgment where he is
Padmé figures she’s earned the disapproval and accepts it as her
“After fourteen years, why hasn’t he divorced you?” Mehht presses.
Padmé’s bites her lip to curb the bark of hysterical laughter
question threatens to trigger. “He would never do that,” she
thinking back to Anakin’s proposal after the Battle of Geonosis.
compulsively traditional in certain respects.”
Mehht huffs in irritation and all Padmé can think is join
“He wants an Empress,” Padmé says wearily. “He has always
wanted an Empress.”
“And here you are fourteen years later offering to fill that role,”
“It would appear so,” Padmé agrees with more than a little
Mehht crosses her arms over her chest and stares at Padmé.
what does an Empress do?”
“Good, I hope,” Padmé answers.
Mehht’s frown intensifies and Padmé knows Mehht is looking for
goals. “To start with,” she says, “there’s a refugee crisis in
Something has to be done to alleviate the suffering.”
“And you can do that?” Mehht asks skeptically.
“I can try,” Padmé answers.
Padmé refuses to look at Korto as he leads her through the
hallways of the Imperial Palace. The castle's sterile opulence is
and intimidating, no doubt by design. Though not Anakin’s
Padmé knows that without asking. She wonders what he
of his home. She imagines it makes him uncomfortable. Not
he will ever admit it.
Palpatine commissioned the monumental rebuilding of the former
Palace as soon as he crowned himself Emperor. Being murdered by
own apprentice less than two years later, he never saw its
Padmé doubts that Anakin spared more than a few moments thought
the design of the Imperial Palace, allowing whatever architectural
Palpatine ordered to be completed.
“This way,” Korto says, stepping aside as two uniformed guards pull
a gigantic set of heavy wooden doors that must be at least fifteen feet
Behind the doors is a grand staircase that descends, curving away to
left out of her line of sight. She can hear voices below and the
of a scuffle. Korto is already forging down the stairs. She
that with his girth it would be difficult, if not impossible, to stop
he started. She knows he hates ushering her around like this and
makes her smile.
She follows Korto around the stairs’ artful bend and a magnificent
is revealed. As first a Queen and then a Senator, Padmé is
stranger to grandeur, but this space is truly impressive. Forty
high columns of deep blue cortosis ore support a ceiling of intricately
highly-polished Fijisi wood. More richly hued Fijisi wood covers
floor and the entire room is permeated with its subtly alluring
In the far corner of the room is a flowing waterfall. The room
Padmé of the Room of a Thousand Fountains in the now-ruined Jedi
However impressive the ballroom may be, it is obviously not used to
foreign dignitaries. Knowing Anakin, that is not
The room appears to have been re-invented as training space.
Oblivious to her arrival, Anakin is sparring with a young human
They aren’t using lightsabers, but rather archaic looking weapons
to a Geonosian static pike. Both men are bare to the waist, their
damp with perspiration. They wear dark, loose-fitting pants and
shoes. It’s apparent that they have been sparring for hours.
The weapons are crude and elegant at the same time, long staffs crafted
a heavy metal alloy with a hilt at one end. There’s a deep
thud each time the weapons meet. The two men battle back and
advancing and retreating in a vicious dance.
Anakin’s opponent appears to be a couple of years older than Luke and
His hair is dark black and matted to his head with sweat. He’s
height with a lean, muscled build. The young man is well trained
hand to hand combat, but judging from the gash across his ribs and the
he favors his left leg, Padmé is certain that Anakin is the
Anakin doesn’t even appear to be breathing hard. Much to
consternation, she can’t help but notice that no matter how impressive
young adversary's physique may be, Anakin's is even more so.
has added a few pounds to his frame, but in a very aesthetically
way. His shoulders and upper chest are more thickly muscled than
were in his youth, and his firm abdominal muscles still taper to a lean
Korto clears his throat loudly and the two combatants break
Anakin glances over his shoulder as his opponent takes the opportunity
double over, bracing his hands against his knees, fighting to catch his
Anakin stalks over to where Padmé stands with Korto, his bare
making little noise on the Fijisi wood floor. He's not impressed
Padmé can almost feel Korto cower despite the fact that the
"My lord," Korto stammers, still out of breath from lumbering down the
"you instructed me to never keep the Empress waiting."
"Indeed," Anakin bites out. He sends Korto away with a nod and
waves over two Imperial guards that had been stationed against the wall.
"Get rid of them," he commands.
Padmé watches as the guards walk quickly towards several small
Padmé hadn't noticed either the half dozen cages or the small
they contained, placed throughout the vast room.
"What are those?" Padmé asks, looking at the furry, lizard-like
just under half a meter in length.
"Ysalamiri," Anakin replies.
Padmé's furrowed brow is question enough, so he explains, "They
"Oh," Padmé says, now understanding why Anakin was so annoyed
Korto. He hadn't sensed their arrival. And that displeased
He's a Jedi – or was at one point. She can't imagine why he would
to the trouble to create an artificial environment devoid of the
Is he truly that perverse?
A servants' door at the far end of the cavernous room clangs shut as
two guards disappear with the ysalamiri. Anakin extends his hand
summons a towel, using it to wipe the sweat from his face and torso.
Padmé can't help but appreciate his athletic physique.
catches her watching him and grins at her wolfishly.
Padmé blushes and retreats several steps, giving him her
expression. She doesn't fool him for a second. Padmé
her head as if to clear it. "Why do you want to repel the Force?"
asks, returning to his earlier comments.
"Because if I don't," he says smugly, "it's nearly impossible to find a
Padmé suppresses the urge to suggest that had he not murdered
Jedi brethren in cold blood, then perhaps he could find someone adept
to kick his ass from time to time. That comment certainly
help the refugee crisis in Abhean.
"Then he's not your apprentice?" she asks, motioning toward the young
standing several meters away who is not trying particularly hard to be
The young man catches her gaze and the grin he gives her is lurid,
He stares at her as if she were standing nude in the middle of the
rather than wearing her quite modest light gray gown.
she takes a step closer to Anakin.
"Leave, Kogo." Anakin's tone is a cold promise of violence.
Seeming to realize he's made a grave mistake, the young man quickly
Anakin's glare follows until Kogo slips through the servants' door.
Turning back to Padmé, Anakin says, "I don't have an apprentice."
“What is he then?” she asks.
“A member of my staff.”
Padmé studies him for a moment. “An Imperial assassin?”
Anakin holds her gaze for a heartbeat. Then another. “Yes,”
says, "a very talented one. It will be a shame to lose him."
Padmé momentarily closes her eyes in disgust. She opens
again. If she pauses to catalog all of Anakin’s sins, she’ll run
back to Tatooine. None of them have time for that. "Why no
she presses. “Because of the Sith tradition of Masters being
by their apprentices?"
Anakin gives her a cold smile. "Perhaps."
"And you don't intend to take one?" she asks.
Padmé stares at him for a moment and he meets her gaze
"Does Leia know this?" she asks.
Anakin looks away. He stares at one of the cortosis columns for a
"No," he admits quietly. He meets her gaze and for the first time, she
something there, some echo of the man she married. It's quickly
as he turns to retrieve his black under tunic from where it's draped
He shrugs into the under tunic, but leaves it open. Her gaze
over his sculpted chest for a moment before settling on his face.
“I know you’re enjoying the view,” he says smugly, “but I doubt you
all the way over here this morning to watch me dress.”
“No,” she says firmly, her lips pulling into a frown. “I came to
some changes I want to make to the Office of Displaced
Their budget has been cut drastically the last five years.
a brewing crisis in the –“
He silences her by holding up his gloved prosthetic hand. His
and bone hand pinches the bridge of his nose as if he’s in acute
pain. “Is any of this military?” he asks.
“Then I don’t care,” he says shortly, dropping his hands and looking at
pointedly. “You’re the Empress. Do whatever you want.”
She eyes him warily. “I want you to guarantee me that. I
extend promises of relief to these people if you or one of your
is going to come in and undercut me a moment later.”
He frowns and turns, walking toward the waterfall in the far corner of
room. His movement forces Padmé to follow if she wishes to
“I hate politics,” he says. “And politicians.”
“I hadn’t noticed,” she replies bitterly, trying not to remember a time
he would automatically extend her an exemption to his assessment of
They reach the water fall and he stands with his hands clasped behind
back, watching the water. “I expected you to rule at my
There’s a hint of regret, but no maudlin sentiment. It’s merely a
Padmé has no idea how to respond. She understands that her
to help the peoples in need hinges on his good will. But though
pride may have taken quite the beating, it is not entirely gone.
couldn’t,” she says flatly.
“Couldn’t,” he repeats. “Past tense?” He raises an
She doesn’t answer.
“And now?” he presses.
“I don’t know,” she admits. “Hiding from reality obviously hasn’t
anything. Maybe it’s time for me to become part of the solution
than the problem.”
He looks at her for several long moments before turning back to the
“You are the Empress,” he says. “Rule your Empire the way you see
He narrows his gaze at her. “But stay out of the military.”
And stay out of my way is implied, but Padmé can accept
Anakin has no stake or interest in the myriad human rights violations
“And if my authority is questioned?” she asks.
“No one will question your authority,” he replies dryly.
“But if it is-“
“No one will question your authority.”
Padmé looks at him for a moment and then inclines her
“Thank you,” she says.
His hand flexes and for a moment, Padmé thinks he’s going to
out to her. But he doesn’t. He turns back to the water.
“Can you find the logs for,” Padmé pauses, scrolling through the
to locate the cruiser’s name, “the Fleetfoot?”
Bail leans over and sorts through the stack of papers, stopping as his
chirps. Mehht does the same with her own stack of
It’s largely futile, but Padmé wants to see if she can locate at
a portion of the shipments that should have been bound for the refugee
in Abhean. The staff of the Office of Displaced Persons was
from Imperial service the previous morning. The Administrator, a
named Korsa Dae, was most displeased with the news.
Padmé, Mehht, Bail and two of Bail’s Senatorial aides are
to get things back on track. Padmé turns to the guard who
at attention by the conference room door. “You can sit down,” she
He doesn’t respond. The guard, Lorian Massinau, was sent over by
Emperor yesterday. As far as Padmé can tell, Lorian must
taking orders directly from Anakin because he most certainly isn’t
to her. Padmé has no doubts that Lorian is another of
trained assassins. She would much rather have Typho at her side,
she already knows that Anakin believes her loyal security officer is
too old to do his job effectively. Given Anakin’s oddly generous
as of late, she’s disinclined to argue the point.
"I'm not sure the Fleetfoot ever existed," Mehht says, lips
in a wry expression. For lack of anything else to do, Mehht is
her time helping the ODP. Just as Padmé thought, though
has never worked in an environment like this, she is picking it up very
“That was Ajun,” Bail says, indicating his comlink. “He spoke
the head of Besati Shipping. They’re still our best bet for
supplies and people quickly. I’ve arranged a meeting at a tapcaf
Eastport. I must go.”
“Of course,” Padmé says, watching as Bail grabs his cloak and
for the door with one of his aides.
“Don’t worry,” Mehht says dryly, “we’re not going anywhere.”
Bail gives them a final nod and walks through the conference room
A moment later they hear the office’s outer door slide shut.
glances at her chrono.
“What time is Luke supposed to arrive?” Mehht asks.
“In a few hours,” Padmé replies, “if he’s on time.”
The door to the outer office slides open and Padmé looks up
to see Bail. Lorian has already moved, positioning himself
Padmé and the door. Over his shoulder, Padmé sees
Dae followed closely by Orn Free Taa.
Padmé immediately rises to her feet. Subtly, but
Lorian palms his vibroblade.
Taa’s hand is situated in the small of Korsa Dae’s back and pushes her
the room. Taa smiles at Padmé, proudly exhibiting his
full of teeth filed to sharp points. Padmé’s features are
but she’s disgusted. She forgot just how repulsive Orn Free Taa
“Senator Amidala,” Taa says, then makes a show of correcting
“Oh, forgive me. I meant Empress Skywalker.” His
smile confirms all of Padmé’s concerns. Senator Taa quite
does not take her seriously.
“Senator,” she replies evenly.
“You’ve already met my companion,” he says, his voice poison
“When Korsa came to me in such a state of agitation yesterday, I knew
must be a grave misunderstanding.”
“There was no misunderstanding,” Padmé replies, cutting short
longwinded diatribe Taa had planned. “Administrator Dae was
from her position for gross incompetence. She should be grateful
isn’t being charged with embezzlement.”
Orn Free Taa feigns shock, laying one corpulent three-fingered hand on
chest. “You can’t be serious,” he says.
“I am quite serious, Senator Taa,” Padmé replies firmly.
that is the only reason you are here, then we’re finished and I suggest
Taa’s features harden into a sneer. “We shall see about that
Amidala,” he says. “The Emperor won’t stand for your meddling in
affairs. This is my domain.”
“Ask him yourself,” Padmé says boldly. She hopes she’s not
Anakin promised her his support, but he has promised her many things.
Taa laughs. “I will,” he assures her. He looks her up and
“You always were one of those bleeding hearts,” he sneers.
none of your political leanings rubbed off on the Emperor. And
try and claim to be the Empress to me. You may have returned to
but everyone knows you’re staying at your old Senatorial apartments and
the Imperial Palace.”
Padmé’s features tighten. It’s the truth and it probably
common knowledge. She’s been avoiding HoloNet for exactly that
But she doesn’t appreciate Taa publicly speculating on her relationship
“Ask him,” she repeats in a biting tone.
Taa leaves Korsa Dae standing there glaring daggers at them while he
into the outer office.
Lorian never moves a muscle. Mehht openly stares at
At least Bail’s other aide, Maxim, extends her the courtesy of
to be absorbed in his work.
Finally, Orn Free Taa returns and one glance at him is more than
His features are a mixture of outrage and fear. He grabs Korsa
too gently by the wrist and pulls her to his side. “Forgive me,”
he says, nearly choking on the words, “Empress Skywalker. It
I was mistaken.”
From the level of contrition in Taa’s tone, Padmé suspects that
likely made it know just how much he despised being dragged into
of this sort. Padmé doesn’t know if that’s a good thing or
Orn Free Taa is a powerful man and she would prefer not to have him as
“Good day, Senator,” Padmé says.
He inclines his head deferentially, but pure hatred shines in his eyes.
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