The door is thrown open and there is an immediate flurry of
activity. She is shoved roughly to the ground, her knees scraping
across the expensive hand-hewn stone floors. Before she knows it,
her fingers are laced together behind her bowed head. There is so
much yelling, a deafening cacophony of sound. Next to her, Nee
Alavar says something and is smashed in the face with the butt of a
Padmé looks up at the clone trooper looming over her and stares
directly into the barrel of a blaster. How did the
Imperials know about the clandestine meeting? They took measures;
even if discovered, they have a cover story. From the chaos,
Padmé assumes the Emperor does not care to hear their
explanations. Perhaps this is it. Perhaps the Emperor has
abandoned all pretenses and dissolved the entire Senate. The
trooper pushes the cold barrel against her cheek, his face inscrutable
behind the mask.
"Enough!" Giddean Danu pushes the trooper away and his valor is
rewarded with a kick as a second trooper sends him sprawling to the
ground. He turns, faster than Padmé would have thought
possible, and kicks up at the trooper. "Run, Padmé!" he
yells, just before another trooper's boot smashes him in the face,
breaking his nose.
Padmé turns, springing to her feet and lunging toward the
window. But a gloved hand fists in her hair, brutally yanking her
backward and sending her crashing to the floor. The hand still
twined in her hair tightens its grip, dragging her to her feet.
The clone trooper holds her so she is forced to balance on tiptoe as he
presses the barrel of his blaster under her chin.
Then, the barrel under her chin and the fist in her hair are gone so
abruptly she is sent sprawling. Before Padmé can register
what's happening, a hand clamps tightly around her wrist. She is
hauled to her feet, her cloak pulled over her head. Stumbling and
struggling to remain upright, she is dragged from the apartment.
She eventually finds her footing, but she has to trot to keep pace with
the much longer strides. She tries to pull the cloak out of the
way so she can see, but her hands are brushed aside with such force she
does not attempt it again.
When she is finally released, her own inertia sends her twirling and
sprawling onto a bench. She sits there for a moment, head
spinning. Cautiously she attempts to remove the hood of her
cloak. When her hands are not batted away, her movements become
She pushes the hood back and looks around the room. It's the
interior of a shuttle. Across the enclosed space is Darth Vader.
Padmé takes a deep breath. She has never been this close
to Vader, but she is smart enough to tread carefully with the Emperor's
enforcer. Her first thoughts are not of her own safety, but of
the safety of those still inside the apartment. Nee Alavar, Ivor
Drake, Terr Taneel, Giddean Danu. If they are arrested, it will
be a huge blow to the Alliance.
She sits in silence for a very long time watching him. Vader's
heavy black cloak is pulled up over his head as usual so only his chin
They both have yet to move when three clone troopers walk up the
"Is it done?" Vader demands.
"Yes, my Lord," the commanding officer answers, handing Vader a datapad.
"All of them," the clone confirms.
Padmé's eyes fall shut as sorrow tears at her. Dead.
All of them dead. How will the Alliance recover? The data
should be safe. The Alliance has some of the best cryptographers
in the galaxy. It will take the Imperials months to break the
codes and by then, the information contained will be obsolete.
Vader looks at the datapad and then casually tosses it onto the
bench. “You came here directly from the apartment? You
spoke to no one?”
“We came here directly, my Lord.”
The snap-hiss of the lightsaber startles Padmé but before she
can cry out, the three troopers lie dead on the floor.
Vader stands there for a moment, staring down at the lifeless bodies.
Abruptly, he snaps out of his contemplation, extinguishing his
lightsaber and using the Force to tumble the bodies down the
gangplank. He pulls out a comlink. “Commander, there is a
mess on the landing platform. See that it is cleaned up.”
Padmé stares at the Sith Lord and he meets her gaze. She
can barely make out his features beneath the hood. Without a
word, he turns away. The gangplank rises, sealing shut with a
hiss. Vader closes himself in the cockpit.
It is many hours later when the shuttle lands. Padmé has
no idea where they are or what Darth Vader intends to do with her –
nothing good, of that much she is certain. She wonders if she
will soon wish she died with her fallen comrades. The thought is
The shuttle touches down and the door to the cockpit opens. Vader
strides past her looking no worse for the wear and stands in front of
the shuttle doors waiting for the gangplank to lower. The light
that streams inside the hold is nearly blinding. Padmé
He doesn't try to drag her down the gangplank, which makes her more
inclined to cooperate. She carefully steps down the gangplank,
holding her hand in front of her face to shield herself from the light.
“Lord Vader, to what do we owe the honor
of your visit?”
Padmé recognizes Bail Organa’s voice before her eyes have
adjusted enough to see him. From the crystal blue of the sky and
the crisp, fresh air, Padmé knows they are on Alderaan.
“Senator Amidala,” Bail gasps, unable to hide his shock. She can
hear his footsteps as he quickly hurries to her side. He takes
her arm and she looks into his concerned features. “Padmé,
we feared you were dead, too,” he whispers.
In unison, they turn to look at Vader. He stands there for a
moment, accepting their scrutiny. Then he turns, cape swirling
behind him. “Keep a closer eye on her, Organa,” he calls.
Bail turns away, yelling to one of his aides.
Padmé stands there, unable to look away from Vader. She
watches as he ascends the gangplank. When he reaches the top, he
stops and looks back over his shoulder. A gust of wind pushes the
hood of his cloak back and the lighting is just right. A beam of
sunlight crosses his face, revealing the startlingly pure blue of his
He turns away and is gone.
He stops in the doorway and glances
over his shoulder. The light catches him perfectly and she is
struck again by the intensity in his blue eyes. Without a word,
he turns away and continues down the hall.
“He doesn’t like me,” she says wryly.
“Padawan Skywalker,” Padmé
clarifies, looking out the window of her penthouse at the glittering
skyscrapers of Galactic City. “He doesn’t like me.”
“Anakin?” Obi-Wan asks
skeptically. “He is quite fond of you, Senator Amidala. He
has been since he was a boy.”
She frowns. “He may have been
fond of me as a boy, but I don’t think the young man approves of my
Obi-Wan bows his head for a
moment. “He is usually much more light hearted,” he says
quietly. “I’m afraid recent events have been hard on him.”
“Of course,” Padmé hastily
replies, feeling incredibly callous. “I didn’t mean to make light
of your losses on Geonosis. That was quite inconsiderate of me.”
Nodding, Obi-Wan says, “Thank you,
Senator. Geonosis was difficult. Many of our brethren were
Padmé looks at her hands,
searching for the right thing to say. "My condolences on the loss
of Master Jinn.”
Obi-Wan nods, but looks away
sadly. “Qui-Gon's death was an incredible loss to the
Order. Especially to Anakin. He was almost ready for the
Trials – for full Jedi Knighthood. With Master Jinn gone, there
is a great deal of uncertainty about Anakin’s future. The
adjustment is quite challenging for him.”
“Of course,” Padmé says again,
still plagued by her earlier words. How could she have said
something so insensitive to Obi-Wan? And why should a Senator be
concerned with whether or not her Jedi protectors like her?
They’re performing the duties requested by the Chancellor, that's all
Yet Padmé can’t shake the
sense of unease she feels when she is near Anakin. He always
seems to be watching her.
“I can’t explain it, Bail,” Padmé says wearily. “Vader
dragged me out of the apartment and brought me here. He didn’t
speak a single word to me.” She shoots a pleading glance at
The Queen wordlessly places her palm on her husband’s forearm when he
opens his mouth to speak again. At a curt shake of his wife’s
head, Bail falls silent. He turns away with a sigh, pacing to the
wide archway that leads out onto the sprawling private balcony.
“It doesn’t make any sense that the rest of the Alliance members would
be summarily executed and yet Vader takes it upon himself to deliver
you to my doorstep.”
“I agree,” Padmé says. “It doesn’t make sense, yet it’s
Bail looks older, more tired than usual. It’s
understandable. He is grieving. Padmé knows her own
reactions are still muted, delayed. She too will feel the loss,
frustration and grief currently plaguing Bail. Right now those
emotions are submerged under her own weariness, shock and a shameful
joy that she is still alive.
“I wish I knew what the Emperor was up to,” Bail says, more to himself
than to Padmé or his wife.
Padmé closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. Opening her
eyes, she looks at Bail. “I don’t think the Emperor is behind it.”
Bail gives her a sharp look and Padmé swallows harshly.
“Vader destroyed all evidence that I was present at the meeting,” she
says. “He killed his own men to keep it a secret.”
Bail’s eyes narrow. “Why would he do that?”
“I don’t know,” Padmé says. It’s the truth.
She doesn’t know.
But she has feelings, suspicions.
None of them make sense.
When she enters the small room, his back is to her, his head bowed in
meditation. Gracefully and silently, he rises to his feet,
turning to face her in a single, fluid movement.
“Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker are the same man,” Padmé says,
unable to keep the accusatory tone from her voice.
Obi-Wan winces, but quickly recovers. “Yes,” he says.
“Though that hardly seems relevant now. Anakin Skywalker no
longer exists. He was consumed by Darth Vader.
Murdered. My friend is dead.”
“Your friend spared my life and went to great lengths to keep it a
secret from his new Master,” Padmé counters.
Obi-Wan’s expression gives no hint to his thoughts, but he nods
slowly. “I knew Vader shuttled you here,” he says. “I
didn’t know he kept it a secret from Sidious. This is a most
interesting turn of events.”
“Why would he do that?” Padmé presses. “Why would he spare
me and then destroy the evidence that I am an Alliance conspirator?”
Obi-Wan shakes his head. “That question I cannot answer,
Senator. I do not know.” He watches her carefully.
“Why do you think he spared you?”
Padmé shrugs off the question irritably. “How should I
know? Anakin Skywalker despised my very existence. I have
no idea why Vader would go to any trouble to protect me.”
“Master Jinn used to say only two
forms of life were never to be trusted, a Sith and a politician.”
She turns to face him, frowning
sourly. “Do you take pleasure in insulting me?” she demands.
“It is not an insult, Senator, merely
… a different opinion on your vocation. Isn’t that what
politicians love to talk about, differing points of view?”
She turns away, deciding the best
course of action is simply to not engage the young Jedi in
conversation. He seems intent on enumerating her perceived
flaws. It’s hardly a new concept to her. She has been in
enough political contests that she has developed the hide of a bantha
when it comes to others' opinions of her. Yet she feels strangely
compelled to defend herself to him.
Emboldened, she quickly spins to face
him. "What about you? Obi-Wan says the Council is ready to
put you through the Trials, yet you keep balking? Aren't you
certain you want to be a Jedi?"
His expression shutters and
Padmé feels a creeping sense of dread in the way he seems to
withdraw into himself. Her words hit very close to the mark.
Recovering, Anakin sticks his chin
out defiantly. "It's not fair," he snaps. "If Master Jinn
were still alive, they wouldn't be treating me this way. Their
behavior is outrageous. I'm ready for the Trials but they want to
put me through additional tests. It's insulting." He paces
several steps across the room, absently using the Force to manipulate a
decorative crystal orb. "They're jealous," he says quietly,
darkly. "I'm stronger than them and they know it. They've
never wanted me. The only reason they allowed me to be trained
was because none of them were brave enough to defy Master Jinn.
Now, with him gone, they think they can disrespect me this way."
Sullenly, he looks up into her eyes.
She holds his gaze, keeping her
features inscrutable for several long moments. Eventually, she
sighs, turning away. "You don't sound like a Jedi," she says
haughtily, glancing over at him as she reviews her datapad. "You
sound like a spoiled child. The Jedi have your best interest at
"The Jedi don't have hearts," he says
quietly. "Love is forbidden for a Jedi."
He watches her with such intensity
Padmé is forced to look away. She feels hot, flushed and
Swallowing thickly, she fights for
composure. For reasons she cannot explain, this Padawan has an
uncanny ability to provoke her. Year after year she has schooled
herself to be above such reactionary behavior. In politics, it is
absolutely essential to maintain a level head and open mind, even when
discussing the most heated topics. It is intensely uncomfortable
– not to mention humbling - to have her emotions played so
effortlessly. She has to regain the upper hand. "What would
you know about love?" she asks coldly. "You're just a boy.
And a petulant one at that."
The look he shoots her is so dark for
a moment she almost fears what he will do. It's absurd, of
course. Petulant or not, he is still a Jedi. He would never
harm her. But he is most displeased with her words.
After what seems to be an
interminable moment, he turns away, leaving her office without a
word. She should feel relieved. She wants to feel
relieved. But she fears she may have just made a terrible misstep.
Padmé lifts her head, wiping at her cheeks as Breha enters the
lavish guest suite Padmé occupies at Aldera Royal Palace.
"I conveyed my condolences to Giddean's wife," Padmé says
quietly. "I wish I could tell her more."
Breha puts a gentle hand on her shoulder, sitting down on the bed at
her side. "You know you can't do that. You could
potentially compromise yourself and the Alliance. Giddean didn’t
pull Tessa into this and we can’t be certain she can be trusted with
the full truth."
Padmé shrugs, looking away. She stares at the beautiful
Alderaanian sky, turning rich shades of oranges and reds with the
coming night. "She deserves to know her husband died trying to
save me. Giddean's son deserves to know his father was a
hero." She looks at Breha intently. "You know the Imperials
are going to create some horrible lie to explain his execution."
"Of course they will," Breha says sadly. "We all knew that when
we agreed to be part of the Alliance."
Once again looking out into the night, Padmé frowns, consumed
with frustration. “I just wish there was more I could do.”
“There is,” Breha says quietly. “When we rid the galaxy of the
Empire, we will be doing it on behalf of billions of people like Tessa
and Brin. But for now, secrecy is vitally important.
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