Author's note: Hello everyone, I know it's been forever since I updated and I appreciated all the encouragement to write. I had a bit of a writer's block, not because I didn't know where the story was going, but because my last semester involved a lot of writing of its own and I basically had to unlearn all of my creative writing to do it. That and the fact that I've been swamped with assignments is the reason why it's taken soo long for an update. I'm really sorry, because we are so close to the end and I wanted to finish this story without taking over 6 months to update. Oh well, c'est la vie. Anyway here is the next chapter, I got hit with inspiration earlier this month when I went to Disney and got to meet Chewbacca (BEST HUG EVER), so you can thank him for this chapter. Thank you for reading and enjoy!
Thanks to Kolodey
A few years ago
A low beeping noise filled the sterile room and a medic droid glided around collecting patient information for the medcenter database. Obi-Wan stood beside the oval platform and stared at the still form of Padme Amidala. The medic droid had informed them that her state of unconsciousness was indefinite and really depended on Padme's will to wake up. Her eyes were shut and her complexion almost matched the white gown she was dressed in.
Only moments before she had given birth to the children who were now the future of the Jedi Order. Honestly Obi-Wan was still coming to grips with all that had occurred in the past few hours. When he had arrived from Utapau, nothing could have prepared him for the fight with his former padawan.
Anakin was his brother in arms, the closest thing he had to family. But the moment he had stared into Vader's amber eyes, he had known he had to kill him. If not to avenge the Order then to protect the galaxy. The Jedi were trained to be free of any emotion, including compassion and attachment.
Obi-Wan finally understood why those seemingly good emotions were forbidden, he had failed in his assignment. He had been unable to kill Darth Vader. Seeing some glimmer of the fierce determination he had once admired had caused him to hesitate and Obi-Wan had turned away from the man who had once been his partner.
He told himself that it was mercy, or that he had done it to ensure Padme's safety. But he knew what had he had done wasn't mercy, it was cruel to leave any living being in that condition. But he couldn't make himself do it, he knew now, he would never be able to kill Darth Vader. Not when so much of who he was reminded him of his lost friend.
"You chose to turn against me! You are now my enemy. I will find you and I will kill you!"
Fragments of Vader's words echoed through his mind causing a small sigh to escape the Jedi Master's lips. He moved to one of the small slats of window in the room. The glittering lights of Polis Massa eased him somewhat, reminding him that normalcy still existed in this torn galaxy. Giving Padme a final glance he stepped out of the room and joined Master Yoda and Senator Organa.
"How are the children?" He asked as he stood beside them.
"Asleep, peacefully for now" Bail replied looking through the glass at Padme. "And she…?"
"Is about the same as before." Obi-Wan said softly. "I don't understand it, physically there is nothing wrong with her"
"Given up, she has. Deeper than we could've imagined, her bond to Skywalker was" Master Yoda said with a touch of sadness to his voice. "Grow up without their mother these children must"
"No! I won't...we can't give up on her master" Obi-Wan protested with a shake of his head. "All of this, it can't have been for nothing." I can't have spared him for nothing.
Yoda observed him quietly, seeming to see right through him. "Our choice it is not, Obi-Wan"
Obi-Wan swallowed and turned away from them. "I know" he said. He could only hope Padme would find it in herself to live for her children.
Pain. Pain everywhere. In fact the pain was unlike anything he had ever felt. It wasn't a physical pain, but a burning hollow feeling that extended throughout his body gradually rousing him to consciousness. His first conscious thought was the memory of Padme's crumpled form on the platform of Mustafar.
No! Had he...killed her? Was that the pain he felt? The loss of her force signature?
The presence of others around him caused him to focus on his surroundings. A cluster of medic droids stood around him. They were working on him. Vader felt rage as he remembered Kenobi severing his limbs. His former master had gotten away with Padme, he had to get her back! Struggling to sit up, Vader fought the restraints that held him down.
"Sir, please remain still" One of the droids said in a firm robotic voice. "We need to test the function of your cybernetic limbs before we can allow you to use them."
Sparks ignited off the light fixtures as Vader's frustration grew. I don't have time for this, he thought in annoyance as he continued to thrash against the restraints. He was aware of the droids' panic and voices yelling frantically in the background before he felt a cool chill pass through the room.
"Lord Vader, can you hear me?" a raspy voice echoed through his eardrums and mind simultaneously.
Vader frowned for a moment trying to place the voice and turned to face it's speaker. A hooded form stood before him. Palpatine, no, Sidious his master. "Yes, My Master." he said, his throat feeling dry with disuse.
He looked around the room. Had Sidious brought Padme? Surely he had found her as well? Obi-Wan couldn't have gotten far with her. His master had arrived minutes after!
"Where is Padme? Is she safe, is she alright?"
Sidious stepped closer and Vader glimpsed a little of his shrouded face. A touch of sadness appeared to grace his master's face. "I'm afraid she died. ... it seems in your anger, you killed her."
Vader felt his heart shatter with his master's words. No! She couldn't be dead, he had done all of this. All of it was for her! To save her! How could he have been the cause of her death?
"Anakin, you're breaking my heart" her pained words echoed throughout his entire being.
A groan escaped Vader and he felt the Force run through him uncontrollably as everything in the room began to implode. "I couldn't have! She was alive! I felt her! She was alive! It's impossible! No!"
"I'm afraid not my apprentice"
"No! Stop! You're lying, you have to be! I would know, I would know if I had killed her" Vader screamed at Sidious. Finally his restraints snapped free and Vader stepped off the table. He momentarily froze as his body swayed uneasily on his new limbs but pushed past the feeling.
He reached deep to his bond with Padme, searching frantically for her Force presence. Relief coursed through him as he felt it, faint but nevertheless glimmering. She was alive! She had to be.
He took off running awkwardly at first, ignoring the yells of his master and the medic droids, heading to the nearest hangar.
A droid wheeled after him when Sidious stopped it. "Let him go. He will be of no use as long as he believes her to be alive"
Polis Massa Medical Center
It was early morning, or night. Obi-Wan was quite sure. He had been up for hours rotating between the twins and their mother. There had been no change in Padme's condition while the twins were a picture of health.
They were beautiful children, pink with health and lungs to match. Obi-Wan envied their innocent slumber as they rested in the medic nursery. The twins had been separated from their mother who remained in critical care in another area of the center. The rather lengthy trips between the two areas had left Obi-Wan rather exhausted and he now sat in some form of a private waiting room Senator Organa had managed to procure for their use.
Bail cleared his throat. "What is to be done in the meanwhile? She is too critical to move at the moment but we need a plan to protect them"
Obi-Wan looked back to Yoda for guidance. The Grand master was silent as he thought. "Dead to the galaxy Amidala must be. Or never will Vader give her any peace"
The two men nodded in silence. It seemed harsh, proclaiming a woman close to death as gone, almost as though they were setting her fate in stone.
"Pregnant, she must still appear. Keep her safe and alive we will till she awakens. Hidden, safe, the children must also be kept." Yoda continued.
Obi-Wan squared his shoulders and put aside his personal feelings. "We must take them somewhere the Sith will not sense their presence."
"Split up, they should be." Yoda agreed. The children were strong in the force, if kept together the combination of their strength would be a beacon hard to disguise by anyone of a lesser power.
"My wife and I will take the girl. We've always talked of adopting a baby girl. She will be loved with us." Bail offered quietly.
Obi-Wan nodded, a practical plan, the girl would be protected by diplomatic immunity for as long as it lasted in Palpatine's regime. "And what of the boy?" he asked, the memory of the baby's blue eyes sparking a feeling of protectiveness in him.
"To Tatooine. To his family, send him."
Yoda's words surprised Obi-Wan, but he took it in his stride. "I will take the child and watch over him. Master Yoda, do you think Anakin's twins will be able to defeat Darth Sidious?" he asked, daring to hope.
"Strong the Force runs in the Skywalker line. Hope, we can . . . Done, it is. Until the time is right, disappear we will."
Bail got up to leave. "I will go make the necessary arrangements. We must find an obscure location for Senator Amidala and disperse with the children. I'll have her monitored for any signs of life"
The two Jedi watched as he walked out of the room. Obi-Wan turned to return to Padme's room when Master Yoda stopped him. "Master Kenobi, wait a moment. In your solitude on Tatooine, training I have for you."
Curious, Obi-Wan turned to the short master. "Training?" he wondered aloud. What could Yoda possibly mean?
"An old friend has learned the path to immortality."
"One who has returned from the netherworld of the Force to train me . . . your old Master, Qui-Gon Jinn."
A forgotten feeling of joy washed over Obi-Wan even as shock overtook it. "Qui-Gon? But, how could he accomplish this?"
"The secret of the Ancient Order of the Whills, he studied. How to commune with him, I will teach you."
"I will be able to talk with him?" How many years had he longed for his master's instruction? He had often felt Qui-Gon had been taken from him too soon, especially in the early days with Anakin.
"How to join the Force, he will train you. Your consciousness you will retain, when one with the Force. Even your physical self, perhaps.'
Obi-Wan stared at him in awe before a loud blaring alarm sounded through the medic center. Immediately he connected with the Force and felt an unfaltering presence of darkness that was stark in its familiarity.
One look at Yoda confirmed it and Obi-Wan took off running to Padme's room. "We have to get them out of here."
Outside the waiting room, he found the medic center in utter pandemonium. Bail stood a couple of feet away arguing with a personnel officer. Obi-Wan hurried to him. "What's going on?"
"It's one of Palpatine's ship, Polis Massa is under attack. He's raiding the entire city, he must have tracked her ship here!"
Obi-Wan shook his head. "Not the Palpatine, Anakin." he said gravely.
Bail's brow furrowed for a moment as he put the pieces together. "Anakin…? Vader?" he repeated. "But I thought you said he was injured terminally"
"Not if Palpatine got to him quick enough, I disabled him to be sure, but he has beaten worse odds"
Bail looked grim. "We have to get them out of here. The children are safe, he doesn't know of their existence. Our priority is to make sure he does not get his hands on Padme, he hurt her once. I'm afraid to think of what he would do to her now."
"We have to prioritize all of them, the Sith cannot gain access to those children. If they are taught the ways of the Dark side the galaxy will be doomed. There will be nothing and no one that will be able to stop Vader and his children"
"Very well, I know little of matters of the Force. I'll leave the children in your care and I'll ensure Padme's survival" Bail said.
Obi-Wan didn't wait to acknowledge him and once again took off running. He had to get to the children and fast. As he ran he began to wish he hadn't allowed the medic staff to separate the twins from their mother. He ignored the turbolift and took the stairs up to the nursery.
He felt the ominous darkness of Vader's signature grow stronger and urged himself on. He had to save the children! Finally, he reached his destination and burst through the doors. Obi-Wan stopped in horror as he took in the largely empty nursery with a few scattered nurse droids and staff members. He grabbed the nearest droid and shook it.
"Where are the babies?!" He demanded.
"All younglings have been evacuated to a nearby safe location. I am not a liberty to disclose this location but will be happy to help you board the nearest evacuation vehicle. Family members will be reunited with their younglings as soon as the threat is neutralized"
"No!" Obi-Wan yelled. "You don't understand, I have to get them now! There were two babies, twins, born not too long ago. They have to be with their mother"
The droid began to repeat its earlier statement and Obi-Wan turned away from it in frustration. He tried the staff members and other droids but they were all just as unhelpful. The Jedi master tried to delve through their minds with the Force, hoping to glean further information but was only able to determine that the babies had been among the first to be evacuated.
He made his way through the hallways trying to locate anyone who had information concerning the younglings. He had been doing so for a couple of minutes when his comlink beeped. Pulling it out he answered quickly. "Kenobi?"
Bail's voice crackled over the frequency. "Master Kenobi? We are in the hangar ready for take off, where are you?"
"I'm trying to locate the twins, they've been evacuated. No seems to know exactly where they've been taken."
"We cannot worry about that, we just got word that Vader's ship landed not too long ago. He is heading toward the medcenter as we speak. We have to leave! We will locate the children later"
"I can't leave without them! We cannot let them fall into the hands of their father, Padme will never forgive us for that!"
"Master Yoda agrees it's for the best. Vader has no knowledge of the children as it stands. If we are found near them, he will know for sure then"
"I won't do it"
"Master Kenobi, I've already fixed the documentation of the medcenter. It will appear as though Senator Amidala died with her child, a decoy has already been sent in her place to Naboo. We must leave now"
Obi-Wan stared around the now empty nursery helpless and sighed. "Very well, I'm on my way. But we cannot go far, we must return for the children as soon as he leaves."
Bail said something affirmative and Obi-Wan began to head to the hangar. He had barely stepped aboard the ship, when Bail informed him that Vader had arrived at the medcenter. Watching the hangar decrease in size as they flew away, Obi-Wan found himself begging the Force and any other deity to ensure the safety of the Skywalker children.
Vader stood by as his stormtroopers searched through the medcenter. He had expended all of his energy tracking Padme's ship and racing to the small planetoid. Now that he had arrived, he felt rather ill and only remained standing by grace of the Force. A trooper dragged a frightened man to Vader and dropped him before him. "This man said he saw a woman who fits the description of the Senator sir"
Vader turned his gaze on the man. "Where is she?!" he demanded.
"She's gone, sir. I saw them put her on vessel headed for Naboo. It...it was the transport they use for corpses."
Vader flinched at his words. No. It couldn't be true. It couldn't be. "Do not lie to me!" He bellowed his energy returning as he bent to pick the man up by his neck. "What did you see?"
"I told you, she was dead when I saw her! They said she was a diplomat and her body had to be sent to her home planet!"
"Who is they?"
"A man, and a small sentient being"
Vader growled. "Obi-Wan" he spat. "When did they leave?"
"A few minutes ago, I swear that's all I know…" The man never finished his words. Vader didn't even realize he was crushing the man's neck until it snapped. He let go of him and stepped back, his chest heaving.
He couldn't have killed her, he just couldn't have. He loved her! Reaching for their fragile Force bond, he searched for her presence and found nothing. It was true, somehow in his anger he had killed her. He let out a pained scream.
When he felt calm enough, he stood up straight and turned to the nearest trooper. "Destroy this place, I want no remnant of this center to exist" he said.
He had lost the woman he loved and he would avenge her death, nothing would be left to remind him of his loss. Turning away, Vader marched from the medcenter. He was headed to Naboo, he had to confirm it for himself once more.
Somewhere in Polis Massa
A small transport vehicle flew slowly through the city. Inside the sound of wailing babies was deafening. A nurse droid monitored the numerous cots talking soothingly to the infants. A woman entered the room and sighed. "We are going to have to relocate these younglings to another medcenter. We've just received word that the medcenter was destroyed"
At her words a baby near her began wailing loudly. The woman bent to pick up the little one and cooed at her. "Hey, it's alright little one" She glanced at the name tag attached to the baby's arm. "It's alright Leia, we will get you to your parents soon"
The baby stared at her as if she understood her words and quietened down. The woman bounced the baby gently and walked back to the cot she had retrieved Leia from. Placing her back inside, the woman repeated her words. "It will be just fine."
Vader counted the flashes of blue light from the bedside chrono. For some reason, the piece of machinery was pointed directly at him and it's incessant flashes insured the man got little sleep. Not that he could have fallen asleep if he wanted to. Sighing, Vader stretched his legs and sat up. Glancing to make sure Padme remained asleep beside him, he stood up slowly and grabbed a loose shirt off the table. He slipped it on before glancing back at his sleeping wife once more and stepping out of the room.
He made his way to the cockpit and stared at the screen of the navicomputer. Several hours had passed and they were close to their destination, Alderaan. It would take them another hour or two at the most. Soon he would be reunited with his children and with his wife beside him, they could be the family he had always wanted. His thoughts ran along this line until the memory of Padme's relationship with Obi-Wan soured his thoughts. A scowl settled on Vader's face as he felt familiar jealousy rise up within him at the thought of his former master.
He caught sight of his face in the transparisteel and stared at his reflection. He looked awful, angry, and exhausted. His blue eyes swirled with amber and mixture was frightening in its intensity, even he could admit that. Vader gave a growl and moved from the transparisteel.
He looked exactly as he felt. He was angry, at Padme, at Obi-wan and at himself. The last time he had been filled with this much rage had been that fateful night on Mustafar. He had been fueled by a rage he didn't recognize, at least this time he could identify the source of his anger. He stood there for several minutes, unable to stop from immersing himself in his anger and allowing it to fester.
A small flicker in the force caused Vader to take a deep shuddering breath. He had to calm himself. Hiding his simmering emotions below the surface, Vader faced the cockpit door as it opened and Padme stepped in. She didn't looked surprised to see him and gave a sleepy smile.
"Hey, I was looking for you. I can't seem to find a comfortable position to sleep in. I think the baby is practicing their kicking skills" She said with a small laugh.
Vader nodded at her in acknowledgement but moved to leave the cockpit. He stiffened as he passed her and her fingers brushed against his arm, stopping him from leaving. "Why are you up Ani?" she asked softly, stepping beside him and resting her hand on his shoulder.
Vader folded his arms and shrugged. "No reason, I can't sleep. Same old." he said, gently pulling out of her touch and walking back toward the window.
"You're angry at me" She said perceptively.
Vader scowled. "No, I'm not…" he started to protest.
"You won't look at me" Padme cut him off. The room grew quiet and the control panel creaked as she leaned against it. "I'm sorry"
Vader scoffed. Sure she was. "That I'm angry at you or that you...care for Obi-wan?"
"No, I can't. I...I don't understand why…"
"Padme, I said forget it. You've clearly made your mind up so let's not pretend you care about my opinion " Vader snarled. His wife's face puckered at his tone and she looked at her clasped hands quickly. He had hurt her. Vader knew he should care, but his anger made him indifferent to her feelings.
He reached into the Force, gathering it around him. The more the dark side fueled him the harder it grew to suppress the urge to storm out of the room and kill Obi-Wan. Nevertheless, he restrained himself.
If he had learned anything under Sidious it was that patience was a virtue not to be taken lightly. The man planned everything carefully and watched it come to fruition. There would be a time to kill Obi-Wan, one that wouldn't cause Padme to leave him.
The familiar feeling of their unborn child reached Vader and he felt mild surprise at the calming effect it had on him. The child had brought him through the hell of Sidious' prison, and he knew he would it love as much as he loved Luke and Leia. He glanced behind him at Padme and noticed she had turned away from him, her shoulders shaking slightly. The anguish she was releasing into the Force was unmistakable. Sighing he walked over to her and stood beside her.
Padme sobbed quietly, her hand covering her mouth. "Padme" he began, reaching for her.
"I just wanted to be open with you" She said pushing his hand away. "Before, we always kept things from each other, I don't want that to be us again. I just...I just want us to be happy"
"I am happy" Vader said flatly.
Padme hiccuped a few times. "Don't lie"
Vader looked away from her and folded his arms. She was telling the truth, he didn't want her to keep her feelings from him, however platonic they were. The entire situation was less than ideal and he was far from happy. But whatever he felt, that didn't mean he didn't want her by his side. He simply did not want to share her affections. Why did that make him a terrible person?
Padme sniffled "I mean, we are not happy now, but we will get there. It will just take time" she said in a low voice.
Vader snorted. Things hadn't changed between them, not really. She was always optimistic about the future, never about the present. Padme always lived in the future, she saw things that hadn't happened or that could happen. Him? He wanted to live in the present, he wanted what he deserved now and he didn't want to wait for it. Time.
"Whatever you say" he muttered.
Vader opened his mouth to retort but froze as an unpleasant feeling crept over his skin. Obi-Wan. Vader's distaste was palpable. He glanced at Padme.
"Sometimes time isn't enough Angel" he said. No amount of time would make him forget his hatred for Obi-Wan. It had always been a fault of his, his tendency to hold onto grudges for eternity.
Almost as if Padme could read his thoughts, she muttered "I don't understand why you hate him so much. From where I stand he has every reason to hate you".
All intentions of hiding his boiling rage, disappeared and Vader's eyes made the full switch to their amber color. Vader glared at Padme in anger. How dare she? Didn't she know any of what had occurred on that night? Obi-Wan had made her betray him and to add salt to injury taken his limbs from him. "Don't you dare speak like you understand" he growled.
"Make me understand!" Padme yelled back at him, clearly not willing to back down and bury this conversation as Vader would have prefered.
"He took you away from me! If he hadn't talked to you, filled your head with doubts about me…"
"He wasn't lying, he told me the truth! Tell me Anakin, would you have told me that
you had slaughtered all those people? If you had come home to me, would you have told me?"
"I never got the chance to anyway, so why does it matter?" Vader snapped. "All that matters is that you believed his words over mine, I told you to stay home. If you had listened to me, none of this would have happened!"
"Oh my god, Anakin! Now it's my fault? Why can't you just admit you made the wrong choice? Trusting Palpatine was the wrong decision, turning to the dark side, killing those children, choking me, those were all wrong decisions and they were your choices to make!"
Unable to feel anything but pure anger at this point Vader charged at her. "Shut up!" He yelled backing Padme against the control panel. "Don't you dare, don't you dare tell me that. I did it for you! I couldn't lose you...I can't lose you. Why can't you see I love you? Isn't my love enough? Must I be some saintly Jedi parading around claiming to save the entire galaxy?"
Padme looked at him, her large eyes brimming with tears. Vader took a deep breath and stepped away from her. He didn't want to hurt her, but her words had cut him deeper than he cared to admit. Shaking his head, he moved away from her scared of what he might do next.
"I will never be a saint, you knew that when you married me. I can't be him " he said in a low voice.
Padme made a strange noise that sounded suspiciously like a sob. The silence in room was deafening for a moment, before Padme's soft footfalls broke the silence. She tentatively placed her hand on Anakin's shoulder and trembled as he stiffened. When he didn't pull away she spoke in a muted voice. "I don't want you to be like Obi-Wan. I just want the man I fell in love with" she said.
Vader scoffed. "I don't know if I can be that for you anymore. The man you loved, I don't think there is anything left of him anymore"
"Don't say that Ani"
He turned to face her and pulled into a tight embrace, as if he was afraid she wasn't really standing before him. "Losing you changed me Padme, I...I can't be Anakin Skywalker again"
Padme froze against him. "I refuse to believe that" she said, her voice muffled by his chest.
Before Vader could reply, a loud beep sounded from the navisystem and he hurried to the controls. They had arrived. He sat in the pilot's seat and began to prepare the ship to transition out of hyperspace. He was vaguely aware of Padme sniffling behind him as she moved to sit beside him as copilot. A familiar jolt told him they had began the transition and the bright light of passing stars appeared.
"Did you have a particular location in mind?" Vader asked, barely glancing at Padme.
"Uh...yes. I have a standing docking slot at the Aldera Royal Palace." she said after a moment's hesitation.
Vader gave a half amused snort. "I always figured you were close friends with Organa. I simply never dared to hope that you were actually alive and were instead hiding from me"
Padme sighed. "Anakin..." she began.
Vader held up his hand to stop her and frowned as Alderaan loomed before them. "Something's wrong" he said.
The normally busy enough planet was surrounded by several ships, more than normal. Freighters, passenger vessels and as well as several Imperial ships were gathered around the blue planet. Vader leaned forward to study the markings on the various imperial vessels. "All these ships under the command of Members of the Central Command" He said mostly to himself.
Padme frowned and followed his gaze briefly. "What?"
He shook his head at her words as though trying to clear his mind. "The Imperial Central Command. It must be…" Vader trailed off.
Padme took in the imperial vessels and a prickling of fear crawled up her spine. Had the Emperor somehow anticipated where they were heading? Had they found the twins? "Are they...are they looking for you?" she asked in a bare whisper.
The worried look in his blue eyes answered her question and Padme swallowed. "Okay...I thought about this...we need to hide you. There is a secret compartment just below the engine room…"
A crackle sounded over the communications system and Vader stopped her words by raising a finger to his lips. "Alderaan cruiser Discreet XI, this is Imperial command. Do you copy?"
Padme's wide eyes met Vader's and he took a measured breath before he replied. "This is Discreet XI, we copy"
"State your docking slot and business on Alderaan" The clipped tone ordered.
Padme moved quickly, grabbing a datapad and typing words across it rapidly. She and Obi-Wan had prepared countless times for a situation just like this. Vader read off her directions slowly. "Aldera Royal Palace, slot J-25. We are carrying one of the palace aides on board."
"Number of persons aboard the vessel?"
"Five" Vader replied as Padme shot him a panicked look.
"Alright, we are verifying your information." There was silence on the other end and Padme leaned toward her husband and covered the microphone with her hand.
"Are you insane? They probably have dozens of holograms of you, Veers and Piett and maybe they have your DNA fingerprints and they'll do blood tests and…"
Vader shushed her by touching her cheek. "Padme. Calm down" He said. "It will all be fine." He briefly glanced at the ships flying around Alderaan. "No more hiding, no more running. I'll face this now, if I must"
Padme bit her lip and looked away quickly, her eyes rapidly filling with tears. "But...I...I just got you back" she let out a sound that was half sob and a sigh. "I don't…"
"It will be fine." Vader repeated, his tone reassuring but Padme knew her husband well enough to hear the strain of fear in his voice.
"Discreet XI do you copy?"
"We need to speak with the palace aide Rose Black. Is the Aide Rose Black present?"
Vader looked to Padme and she leaned toward the console. "Yes, this is she" she said masking her nervousness with a more polished tone.
"I understand you are traveling with an assistant and pilot and crew?"
Padme silently thanked whoever had verified her information in the palace, despite the discrepancy in number of people. "Yes, that is correct"
"Well milady, we apologize but at the moment no ships are being allowed to land or leave without a complete board and search. So if you'll prepare your vessel to dock at the nearest imperial ship, we will do our best to have you on your way in no time."
"Wait, I don't understand. This vessel is protected by diplomatic immunity. Why is this necessary? Why are we being singled out?"
"That information is none of your concern and these measures are being carried on all vessels attempting to land on planets that are affiliated with the Galactic Empire. Proceed to the nearest ship and follow docking procedure "
The silence that echoed after his words was stark and Padme exchanged looks with her husband. Vader broke the eye contact first and set to piloting the ship towards the large imperial vessel.
"You should go warn the others. Let them know what we're up against" he said in a quiet tone.
"Anakin, are you sure this is a good idea?" Padme watched his jaw muscles tense at her words and decided not to push him further. "Alright, I'm going"
She stood up slowly and made her way to the small break room where she found Veers and Piett strapped up and talking in hushed tones. One look at her face told the men all they needed to know and they showed no surprise as she brought them abreast of the situation.
Moving to the small medic bay she opened and shut the door. Obi-Wan stood as she entered and sighed. "How bad?"
"Pretty awful actually. They aren't allowing any ships to land without a complete search. He decided to risk it" She leaned against the shut door and bit her lip. "Seems pointless, we made it this far for nothing"
Obi-Wan shook his head. "Vader's smart, I'm sure he knows he has a plan. It might be reckless but it might work" he said comfortingly.
Padme wished she shared her friends optimism. "We're just so close. I mean we could have risked it. Flown past the whole platoon or something."
Obi-Wan laughed. "Maybe so. But that would have just sent said platoon chasing after us."
Padme sighed and stood off the door. "Oh well, I'm going to go sit with him. You should strap up" she said.
"Padme?" she stopped and looked back. "Give him this. It was his before...he should have it. Just in case" Obi-Wan handed her a lightsaber.
Padme took the piece of metal and marvelled again how heavy it actually felt. "Thank you Obi-Wan. Truly" she said. She paused at the doorway looking at her husband's lightsaber. "What happened that night Obi-Wan?" she asked softly. "I've never asked...he just seems so angry about it"
Obi-Wan's face remained neutral and he chose his words carefully. "After you passed out, we...Anakin and I fought. It wasn't pretty, the only way I was able to escape was to cut off his leg and arm...It's how I got his lightsaber."
He gave a laugh. "He held such a grudge against Dooku for taking his arm, I can't say i'm surprised he is still angry at me for that night. Taking my hand must've been a small triumph for him"
Padme remained silent as Obi-Wan continued. "Although, I get the feeling that he was more angered by the fact that I went to you. He considers you his in every way and I infringed on that. I don't think he'll ever forgive me for that."
Padme gave a minute shake of head. "You know him well"
"Of course, I fought beside him for years. I thought I knew him better than anyone"
Didn't we all? Padme thought ruefully to herself. "I better go" she said out loud.
Obi-Wan nodded and moved to the small strap up seat in the corner. Padme made her way back to the cockpit and found Vader had piloted the ship to an imperial hangar and was waiting behind another ship to dock. He returned Padme's smile with a small one of his own. "Hey you're just in time" he said.
Padme sat beside him and strapped herself in. She handed him the lightsaber. "Obi-Wan said you should have this" she said.
Vader stared at the lightsaber for a long time before his hand closed around it. "If it comes to it" he said.
The ship in front of them docked successfully and Vader moved the ship forward and reached for the communications system. "This is Discreet XI reporting for docking"
"Discreet XI you're cleared, prepare to dock." A scratchy voice replied.
Vader reached over and squeezed Padme's hand as they entered the ship's tractor beam and began the docking process. Several minutes passed before there was a loud buzz letting them know they had docked successfully.
"We should open the doors, we don't want it to look like we are hiding anything." Vader said after a few seconds of silence.
Padme nodded. "Right" she said, but she too remained seated, neither making the move to open the doors. Vader rolled his shoulders and let out a frustrated sigh.
"Screw it" He said reaching over and jamming the button more aggressively than necessary. As the motor powering the door hinges began to hum through ship, Vader turned to Padme. "They will most likely send a few troopers and a first rank officer to search the ship. The troopers will do most of the work, the first officer will be here to supervise."
The sound of marching up the gangway prompted both of them to stand up quickly. Vader and Padme met the five troopers at the door just as they reached the top of the gangway. Neither parties spoke to each other and simply stood staring at each other.
A single officer dressed sharply in imperial uniform was the last to board the ship. He had a young face with beady eyes that didn't seem to miss anything. He came to a stop in front of them and nodded to Padme, while eying Vader suspiciously. "Rose Black?" he asked.
When Padme confirmed he gestured to his troopers and they walked past Padme and Vader to begin the search. When they disappeared, he turned back to the couple.
"I am Lieutenant Koda. My men will conduct a quick search of you vessel, if you are found to be harboring any fugitives or conducting illegal activities, you and your crew will taken into custody and prosecuted to the full extent of the Empire's law. Do you have any questions, milady?"
"I don't believe so" Padme said with a small shake of her head. At least she didn't have any questions that wouldn't make her look suspicious.
Padme glanced at her husband. For the most wanted man in the Empire, Vader seemed extremely calm in the presence of the enemy. He stood beside her with his arms crossed and shoulders squared. Judging by the frustrated looks Lieutenant Koda was giving him, his lack of intimidation was annoying the imperial officer.
The officer turned his beady eyes on Vader and noted the exhaustion showing on his face. While Vader had had ample opportunity to rest, he was still rather gaunt in appearance. "Long trip huh? Where did you come from?" Lieutenant Koda asked him.
Vader gave him an even stare. "The outer rim" he replied after a while.
Koda arched an eyebrow in acknowledgement. Just then the troopers appeared and nodded to their commander. "Nothing suspicious observed. Two members of crew and the aide's assistant were present." one them said much to Padme's relief.
Koda made an impatient sound and gestured to the troopers. "Sorry to have taken up your time." he said to the waiting couple.
Padme released a sigh of relief and smiled gratefully at the Imperial. "Thank you" she said a little more joyfully than necessary.
Vader gave her an irritated look as the men disembarked. "You didn't have to thank them. It's not like they did us any favors" he said as he slammed a button to close the door.
Padme rolled her eyes at her husband's foul mood and moved to the transparisteel window to watch the men walk toward a small command center. "They did do us a favor. I was thanking them for their inability to recognize you."
The troopers dispersed quickly while Lieutenant Koda stopped to talk with the men at the center. Padme frowned as the men glanced at the ship and huddled together in discussion.
"It wasn't any inability, I used the Force to conceal my identity" Vader grumbled as he headed back to the cockpit. "As did Obi-Wan. It was more of a suggestion actually..."
"Anakin" Padme interrupted in mild alarm as several troopers began to congregate around the center. "Ani, I think we have a problem" she said hurrying to the cockpit.
Vader glanced up from the control panel. "What is it?"
"They must know or at least suspect, they're gathering troopers." She said gesturing with her hands nervously.
Vader frowned and stood up. He peered out the transparisteel window and gave a growl of annoyance. "Kriff!"
He hurried back to his seat. "We have to move now! A bunch of troopers are headed this way." He got into the seat and began to punch controls wildly.
Padme dropped in the copilot's seat and reached for the intercom. "Piett, Veers! We're under attack, we need the two of you to control the canons."
"On it Milad... "
Piett's voice was interrupted by a loud authoritative voice. "Discreet XI, this is Imperial command. You are not cleared to leave. Cease all take off operations at once."
Vader gestured with his hand to the intercom. "Turn that off!"
Padme hurriedly silenced the repeating warning as Vader begun to override the detaching protocols. A loud grating sound rung throughout the ship as it shuddered violently. Immediately after a loud alarm began to sound from the panel.
Padme winced at the sound. "Anakin, we're locked in, we can't leave!"
"Not if I have anything to say about it." Vader said through gritted teeth. As he begun to push the ship's engines. The ship jerked again and the loud grating sound filled the ship.
"Anakin stop! You'll damage the ship." Padme yelled as her husband set up to try again.
"Padme, we have no choice." Vader said desperately. He revved the engines and the sound intensified to an almost unbearable decibel before the ship snapped free and the swerved unsteadily. Immediately the sound of blaster fire and yelling could be heard outside the ship. Vader's lips thinned in determination as he guided the ship out of the hangar.
Once out, he headed straight for Alderaan. Padme watched on in concern. "Anakin, we can't land at the palace"
"At this point, we'll be lucky to land at all. It looks like I damaged some of the landing gear" Vader said rather grimly. Padme shot him a horrified look, he gave her small smile. "I'll do my best to make sure we survive this"
Padme swallowed as they flew towards Alderaan. Her ship entered the planet's atmosphere at an alarming speed, still Vader was calm as sparks flew outside the ship. Padme held her breath as they sped toward the rapidly approaching ground.
Zed ran quickly through the hallways of the large ship. He pushed past many indignant officers until he reached a small private communications room. Stepping in, he composed himself by taking a deep breath and squaring his shoulders before the blue projection of the Emperor.
"Your majesty, there is has been a reported sighting of Lord Vader. An individual who matches his description was spotted aboard a diplomatic vessel attempting to land on Alderaan"
"I assume that you have him in custody?" the raspy voice of the Emperor said.
An audible gulp filled the room. "Well...see….your highness...we..urm they managed to escape"
"Do you care to explain to me how a fugitive was able to outsmart an entire crew of officers and troopers?"
"They are not entirely lost, we have several fighters following them, at the last update they were entering the Alderaan atmosphere at a dangerous speed"
"I mentioned I wanted him alive?" Sidious bellowed. "He is the only link to his children"
Zed swallowed again nervously as Sidious yelled. "If I may your majesty, perhaps we should get in contact with the palace. Surely, the Queen will prefer not to cross the Empire by harboring a fugitive like Vader?"
"Do what you must, I want Lord Vader apprehended immediately!"
Zed remained with his head bowed till the Emperor's image flickered out. He stood quickly and made his way to the hangar. He would get Vader, one didn't need the arts of the Force to be successful.
Padme opened her eyes and glanced beside her. Vader was already out of his chair and was kneeling beside her in concern. His eyes lit up with relief when as she blinked at him. "Are you alright?" he asked.
She nodded slowly, not quite trusting herself to speak. "And the baby?" Vader asked placing his hand on her belly.
Padme stilled as she waited for any signs of life from the little one within her. A firm kick a few seconds later caused both parents to laugh in relief. "I think that answers your question" Padme said with a smile. Looking around, she noted that the ship lights were dim and they were tilted slightly at an angle. "You wrecked my ship" she said with a frown.
Vader laughed. "Hardly angel, it's still flyable. I landed quite smoothly considering the circumstances"
Padme rolled her eyes and released her safety belt. "I forgot how reckless of pilot you are" she said standing up slowly.
Vader hurried to steady her and they made their way out of the cockpit. Piett and Veers were apparently more hardier than Padme and were already gathering their weapons in preparation for a standoff. Obi-Wan appeared from the med-bay and glanced at Padme.
"We better get moving, it won't be long before they locate us." Vader said, turning to the door and beginning to manually override it's controls.
"I contacted the palace using the transmission system in the medic bay, they are sending transport to pick us up at a rendezvous point not far from here." Obi-Wan said.
Vader didn't acknowledge his words but frowned in concentration at his task. Padme mouthed a thank you to Obi-Wan and ignored the intent stares of Piett and Veers. The door opened and slammed down rather loudly. They exited the ship cautiously and made their way to the point under Obi-Wan's direction.
They were a few meters from the spot when several TIE fighters were seen heading for the abandoned ship. Taking care to keep cover they arrived to find a speeder bus waiting. Padme recognized one of the palace pilots, as an alliance member and gave him a grateful smile.
After they boarded she turned to give Vader a grin and squeezed his hand. "We made it" she whispered as bus cleared their surroundings and headed steadfastly toward the palace.
He gave her a tired smile in return and leaned his head back against the headrest, shutting his eyes. Padme knew her husband enough to know he wasn't resting, and was instead worrying himself to death with different possibilities of how things could go wrong. Padme sighed and leaned back in her seat, she couldn't wait to see her children again and she was sure Vader felt the same way. At least we are at the end of our journey, she thought with relief.
Senator Bail Organa stood before a blue projection of the Emperor. "My Emperor, to what do I owe this honor?"