Author's Notes: I know Author's Notes are often boring, but PLEASE READ these just this once! ^_^

**eclipse n. blocking of light from one heavenly body by another; loss of brilliance or power, etc.

            -v. cause an eclipse of; outshine.**

That's the definition of eclipse, but it's down to you, the reader, on how you interpret the title according to the story. I'm the author, Jurious, and I thought it best I make a few introductory notes (or introductory warnings) concerning this out-of-proportion fanfic before you go on to read it:

Firstly, it's Alternate Universe (a 'what if…?' story, if you like) and begins after Jango Fett and the Geonosians have apprehended Anakin and Padmé in the droid foundries during Attack of the Clones. It's rated PG-13 for its undeniable twisted-ness, and I know will contain a little bad language and at least one inferred sexual situation (not in this chapter, mind you); they'll never be too strong, though – the strength of your imagination may deem how intense you find the more 'extreme' parts of the story. If you're uncomfortable with things like that, turn away now; it's not going to be loaded with that sort of thing – far from it, actually – but it will be present.

Admittedly, on a side note, I write stories about characters, not about fights or what not… so everything is there to get something out of a character.

And, continuing from the 'twisted' note: yes this is the most disturbing notion of a story I have ever concocted! Needless to say, it does seem to work in some worrisome way. It was inspired partially by a cut scene from Clones, where Anakin & Padmé confer with Dooku, and also by another SW fanfic called Firestorm, by PadawanHAB – though it's only 'inspired', not 'based upon' that fic; and PadawanHAB's definitely not to take any responsibility for my freakish imagination! I'm concerned that it may be too bizarre for peoples' liking. You may read it and think that it's insane and deplorable, but, on the other hand, if you share my dark and warped nature, you may find yourself intrigued by its eccentricity and enjoying it.

And, now a final few notes:

· I have an immense respect for the characters of Attack of the Clones, and I do not wish to degenerate them in any way. I'm sure there are other twisted stories out there – and they're all relatively harmless insights into mad fan's minds, so don't take any of this, or any other story, to heart. ^_^ Believe me, it's for your own good!

· I have made Tyranus/Dooku more evil than I actually find him on some occasions, and when I have to identify him by his first name, he'll be called 'Serenn'. He's called that already in another, completely unrelated, Dooku story I wrote, so it's stuck. ^_^

· I have more than immense respect for the actor who made Dooku his own – Christopher Lee. This story does not reflect him, or any other SW actor, in any way whatsoever (to link an actor to their character in such a way is wrong, full-stop, but I'm just saying this…). Mr. Lee is a wonderful and decent man, and I pray he never reads this…

· No, I don't know where this story, or these stupidly long author's notes, are going… but I've enjoyed writing them (honest!). I'm currently in the process of writing two other fics at the same time, so don't expect me to ever finish this story! I'm a fulltime student as well, so schoolwork comes first… apparently.

· And, yes, there are too many italic and bold words in these author's notes…

Anyway, thankyou so much for reading these notes! You can now decide whether or not to read this fic – perhaps I'm making too much of a fuss about nothing, but better to be safe than sorry, and I can always say that I did warn you if you complain! And if you're under 13, please be responsible, for crying out loud! The ratings aren't there to tease you!

I'm quite happy to receive criticisms, as long as you do it in a decent way – after all, I can't get better if I'm constantly being told I'm God or something! (OK, that was an exaggeration… 0_o). I just don't appreciate being sworn at or anything – heck, nobody does! – so don't so it! Treat others as you want to be treated yourself.

If you want to email me to find out exactly what this story is about first, be my guest:

darth_jurious@yahoo.co.uk

And MTFBWY all! – Jurious

Disclaimer: I own nothing! His Highness George Lucas owns it all – I just take the characters, and utilise them in my own ways. But I would like a personal Count Dooku… u_u …Please.

(And, yes, here's the story now…)

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Jango Fett held his gun up toward Padmé's back, following her and her friend, Anakin, as some Geonosian warriors lead them down the passageways of the Stalagasin Hive. The corridors were dark and gloomy, and had a disgusting stale smell about them. There was always a constant 'dripping' sound to be heard in the distance, too, to add to the disheartening nature of the atmosphere.

Anakin and his senator companion had been found trespassing in the droid foundries, and had caused a commotion to say the least. It was clear to Jango why they were here, though – they had come in search of the Jedi Knight, Obi-Wan Kenobi, who had been arrested earlier for espionage. He had been caught spying on Count Dooku and his Separatist allies – and, on Geonosis, that came with only one sentence: death.

Jango grinned beneath his ominous helmet – there was no sweeter sounding word to his ears than death. He earned a living off of other's deaths, and it would very much please him to see Kenobi destroyed at the hands of some uncivilised insectoid beings that lived on the Outer Rim. And it would please him even more to see Amidala and her Jedi companion slaughtered along with the first Knight; he had been assigned to kill Amidala by Tyranus originally, but had failed after several attempts. However, he knew that there was no escape for the seemingly invincible senator now…

The party walked solemnly in silence, their feet pattering against the metal trellis of the floor below. Padmé and Anakin were holding their heads high, trying to remain as resilient as they could under such conditions. Each of the humans were flanked by two winged Geonosian warriors. These creatures each held a pike, and kept them at the ready in case either of their prisoners should try and escape. However, with their hands firmly shackled, and with a skilled bounty hunter behind them, trying to escape would be futile.

Suddenly, the party halted. Padmé looked about unsurely as the points of her flanker's pikes came close to her face whilst she was pulled to a stop. Anakin was infront of her, and seemed equally uncertain as to what was going on, turning slightly to each of his captor's resentfully – they both only knew that they were in trouble.

Jango spoke out from behind, his voice fizzling mechanically through the receptors in his helmet; "Put the Jedi in a cell… he can suffer in the same way as his Jedi friend…"

The winged Geonosians up front grabbed one of Anakin's arms each, and hauled him off toward another passageway. Anakin tried to resist, leaning backwards and cringing in irritation. One of his guards pointed his pike into his back, though, and made him think twice about resistance. He reluctantly walked with them, turning to look back at Padmé for a brief second; it was all the time he could manage.

"Ani!" Padmé called after him, restrained by her Geonosian escorts, who clutched her arms tightly.

"Stay strong, Padmé!" Anakin called after himself as he was carted out of sight down a passageway, "Don't give in to them!"

Padmé watched the last space Anakin had been in, listening until she could hear his footsteps no longer; she inhaled deeply – she had lost the man she knew she loved, yet hadn't had the time to tell him it herself.

"All right, keep moving!" Jango insisted sharply, prodding Padmé's back with the nozzle of his gun, urging the Geonosian warriors who bordered her to move onward. They began to walk again; Padmé's posture was undeniably different this time, with her head hanging a little, and her heart filled with loss – what if she never saw Anakin again? What were these Geonosian beasts planning on doing to her and her fellow captive Jedi? She was well known for her strong manner and will, but now, for the first in a long time, she felt helpless, and had no idea how to handle her feelings…

They walked for what seemed like an age… yard after yard of the same metal grilling past below Padmé's feet as she was dragged roughly along by her captors. Her handcuffs rattled with every step she took, making her feel like some enslaved animal, and water constantly dripped down the subterranean walls of the Stalagasin Hive, giving it an eerie, unwelcome edge. Every tunnel they walked down was dark and gloomy, and just as grimy as the last, and the stale smell got increasingly more potent as they passed through some kind of Geonosian dorm area. Here, it wasn't unusual to see a Geonosian suddenly appear from a crack in the wall, having been camouflaged there originally, and then crawl off up through a vertical tunnel, chattering to itself in its own bizarre language.

Padmé felt very uncomfortable down here; the monotony of the scenery made her begin to feel particularly disorientated. She was beginning to wonder, as the minutes ticked by, where she was being taken – why hadn't she been imprisoned in a cell as well? What made her so special as to not be incarcerated with the others?

And just when she was beginning to think that she was to be marched along forever in these dark passageways, the party came to an abrupt halt.

Padmé looked up, swallowing.  The two Geonosians holding her had turned to Jango, seeming to await further instructions.

"Leave her to me," Fett ordered brusquely.

The insectoid beings nodded in respect to the bounty hunter, releasing the Nubian Senator from their hold, before then scuttling off down yet more passageways that stretched on ahead.

Amidala's heart dropped – she just knew that something bad was going to happen. She turned to look at Fett, keeping her mouth shut for the time being, and swiftly frowned, noticing that the silver-clad hunter was inputting a code into a small control panel upon the wall – she hadn't even seen it when they'd first walked past! It was well concealed in the cavernous walls, camouflaged alike the Geonosians who inhabited the hives. She plucked up the courage to look straight into Fett's bland helmet, curious as to where she was being taken.

He abruptly turned back to look at her once he'd finished plugging his code in, and took a hold of her right arm, holding his gun to her back as a door in the wall hissed open. Padmé watched as it withdrew to reveal another yawning great passageway, but one infinitely cleaner than the latter ones. The air that flowed from it smelt fresher, and the atmosphere within seemed less close.

Fett nudged her on, "Come, milady," he sneered mockingly, pushing her just ahead so that he could keep his gun on her from behind. He maintained one hold on her arm, keeping in close vicinity to her. Padmé did all that she could do – which was to do exactly as she was told – and walked onward down this hidden corridor. It became incredibly dull once the secret door behind them shut, yet Fett seemed confident that he knew where to tread, and continued to drive her on speedily.

Padmé soon realised that the dripping noise had ceased, and that a welcome unsullied breeze was now gently drawing by her; she theorised that they were heading upwards, to a part of the hive above ground.

After a good hundred-metre stretch of simple straight passageway, they reached a narrow, sandstone stairway, leading upwards. Fett urged Amidala further on, and she carefully made her way up, the steps being tricky to tread upon in the gloom, and surprisingly slippery. She constantly felt the bounty hunter's gun nozzle in the small of her back, which was most off-putting, and didn't help her ascent up the flight of steps at all. Jango was becoming evidently irritated by her seeming clumsiness, constantly snorting with frustration when she stumbled or had to stop – but Padmé was well aware that he'd probably walked up this stairway before; she didn't have that benefit.

They eventually (to Padmé's relief) reached the top of the flight, and walked out into a corridor that was substantially lighter than the tunnel. Padmé squinted in the influx of radiance, her eyes steadily adjusting to the lighter conditions. They walked on down this cathedral-like passage, where sunlight beamed in through ornately designed window hatches, until they came to another door. This one was not imperceptible, like the last, but had some kind of regal edge to it; the room, or whatever was behind the entrance, was obviously of some great importance.

Fett nudged Amidala to the side, sheaving his blaster, and inputting a further code into a panel at the side of this door. It bleeped in recognition of his code, and gradually hissed open. She watched cautiously as the door opened; beyond it was a small room that seemed to lead to yet another. There were a few bare seats in the room, and light streamed attractively through the windows to the chamber's right.

Before Padmé could take all this in, she was roughly shoved forward across the threshold of the doorway; Jango's rough handling caused her to lose her footing, and she fell awkwardly upon the floor, unable to adequately support herself whilst her hands were shackled.

"Clumsy girl…" Fett hissed. He gave her an unexpected kick to the stomach, "Get up!" he yelled.

 "I'm trying…" she growled through gritted teeth, cringing in response to his kick. She attempted to get back to her feet, but her hands were bound too well, and she found it incredibly difficult. She heard Fett sigh with further frustration.

 "Try harder!" the hunter demanded. He was clearly a man of very little patience.

"Enough, Jango…"

Fett's head rose from looking down upon Amidala to the far doorway, from whence the voice had come. He straightened to attention, and nodded in a mark of respect; "My lord," he said courteously to the new presence, "I have Senator Amidala here, brought at your request."

Padmé frowned, the deep voice of the other man unknown to her. She arched her head up from her position on the floor, and took in the sight of an aged, yet regal human male, stood in the far, and now open, doorway. He had silver hair, and a considerably warm face, adorned with a trim beard. He wore dark clothes, and a sweeping brown cloak, with high, black boots, and was distinctly tall, with the most rich, baritone voice. All this meant only one thing: she was – for the first time, she may add – in the presence of her political opponent, Count Dooku.

"Help our guest to her feet, Jango," the Count continued, looking upon Padmé with his deep, brown eyes, smiling mildly toward her, "And bring her into my office."

"Yes, my lord," Fett nodded gruffly, grasping Padmé's arms and yanking her up onto her feet again.

Amidala frowned – why was Fett addressing Dooku as 'lord' if he was a Count? She didn't have time to think about it further as the bounty hunter discourteously towed her into the Separatist leader's room, and pushed her over the far doorway. She winced as she fell onto her knees again: if anything, she was just glad that she was now out of the bounty hunter's hands…

Dooku had by now walked across the room he had called 'his office', and stood by a desk at the far end. It wasn't a huge room, but it seemed a decent working space; it was plain, with a few small windows about the ceiling, and the typical Geonosian 'twin sickle' motif bordering the walls, carved into the rock face exquisitely.

"Thankyou, Jango… you are, for now, dismissed," Dooku said agreeably, placing a hand upon his desk, and looking up to the bounty hunter, "Feel free to go and refresh yourself, and then return to your son."

Jango made a short nod back to the Count, "As you wish, my lord," he said, turning and leaving the room. The doors hissed shut behind him, leaving Padmé alone with the infamous Count of Serenno.

Amidala stared hard at Dooku, and he stared harder back; there was a brief moment of electric tension as their compelling gazes met, each sizing up the other, their political rivalry evident in the close atmosphere of the room.

Padmé decided to break this silent staring battle, and asked incredulously, "'My lord'? I thought you were a 'Count'…?"

A slow smile crept up at the corners of Dooku's mouth, and he beheld her with a certain gentle amusement; "I'm many things, my dear," he replied calmly, his tone low.

He made a waft with his hand through the air before him, almost as if he was making some kind of signal – and just before Padmé thought he'd lost it, she felt the air rumble about her, and her shackles dropped from her wrists to the floor with a clang. She gasped, looking down, startled – how on earth had he done that…?

Slowly looking back up to him, Amidala was unable to prevent a slight expression of veneration from forming upon her face; he stared back with a resolute confidence.

'You know milady that Count Dooku was once a Jedi…'

Padmé recalled the words of Mace Windu from earlier – of course, Dooku had a knowledge and mastery of the Force; he therefore had the ability to do such things. That didn't help in boosting her confidence, however...

She shot to her feet, brushing herself off, and looked to him sternly, keeping alert. He didn't seem to make a reaction; he just stood there motionless, apparently amused by her antics.

"You are holding two Jedi Knights captive," she said, getting straight into business. The Count's eyes held her unwaveringly, and she began to feel most self-conscious under such an imposing gaze. She continued, gathering herself, "I am formally requesting that you hand them over to me now, and allow us to go free."

Dooku's eyed wandered downward, and he slowly paced a few steps away from his desk. He stood to the far left of the room, holding his hands behind his back, and turned gallantly to look back at Padmé, saying in a deep, measured tone, "I'm afraid I can't do that, my lady." His face had lost its primary amiability, and now seemed somewhat cold and foreboding.

She looked at him hard, shaking her head slightly with denial; "And why not?" she questioned him gravely, her eyes narrowing onto him "I am a leading member of the Galactic Senate, who has the authority to-"

"Don't play fool with me, Senator," Dooku interrupted, his voice reverberating off of the walls of the room commandingly, "You could be anyone, for all I care, but you and your friends have been found trespassing on private property. It is a crime, no matter what skin you wear."

Padmé swallowed hard, his voice inflicting quite a shock upon her. She continued to look toward him, though.

Dooku took a breath, stepping toward Amidala, "The first Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi, has been convicted of espionage," he revealed uniformly, his tone now taking on a sinister form, "He will be executed at the Geonosians' hands in a few hours time, I believe..."

Padmé couldn't maintain her composure, and she shouted in horror, "No! You sick, twisted man! He's an officer of the Republic, you can't do that!"

Dooku's face tightened in wrath, yet he smoothly controlled his ire, and growled in a composed, measured tone, "We don't recognise the Republic here, Senator."

Amidala raised her lip in disgust and disbelief, shaking her head once again - how could he just say that? Peoples' lives were on the line!

The Count walked back toward his desk, and perched upon its edge in a composed manner, clasping his hands in his lap; "But, if Naboo were to join our alliance," he went on, "I could easily hear your plea for clemency..."

Padmé inhaled, trying to remain calm - he was trying to win her to his cause through blackmail.

As though he read her thoughts, Dooku added, "I don't wish to make you join our cause against your will, but I assume that you want to do what is in the best interests of your people…?"

She suddenly felt the need to hesitate, and glanced down to her side. The Count allowed a slight smile, realising that he was getting to her quite quickly; "Aren't they fed up with the corruption?" he murmured gently, his voice flowing like a gentle stream, lashing at the edge of Padmé's uncertain mind. He slowly made his way toward her, taking large, slow steps, a proud smirk etched into his face. Amidala raised her eyes, and warily monitored his approach, looking at the chilling grin upon his visage.

The Count continued, "The hypocrisy? The bureaucrats…? Aren't they fed up with them, too?"

He stopped before her. Padmé could only look down, his presence a shockingly massive weight on her mind. She swallowed hard, watching the tips of his cloak gently clout about his shins, feeling herself succumb to some strange sensation – she felt so claustrophobic, and closed in, like the essence of Dooku was itself a huge personage in the room, clouding about her, and stifling her; she felt like a caged animal, even though her wrists were no longer bound. She knew he was somehow orchestrating the ambience in an attempt to dominate her for his own wicked amusement.

The Count held his smirk, "Aren't you fed up with it all?" he asked hushly, on a more personal note, his voice placid and strangely soothing. He folded his arms over his chest, and looked down upon her, surveying how she began to break under his powerful demeanour.

She blinked hard, feeling her heart rate increase, and her breaths quicken - why was she panicking? He wasn't doing anything! She mustn't show weakness.

She forced herself to look up at him, glaring intently into his eyes, but only found herself swallowing timidly again. Though he now seemed to behold her with an element of sympathy, his eyes only falsified the tyrannous presence that Padmé felt from him – she still felt under enormous pressure.

She endeavoured to think of a response to his questions, and stared down to her feet in an attempt to regain her equanimity. She heard Dooku chuckle amusedly, and she gasped, startled as he suddenly grabbed her chin, and raised her countenance up to face his, "My, my Senator," he grinned whimsically, "We are nervous... I was under the impression, from your outstanding reputation, that you didn't suffer from such a trait."

He was toying with her, she just knew it; she slapped his hand away from her jaw and snarled aggressively, "Well, I do happen to be on unfriendly 'Separatist Territory', rudely overshadowed by a man who, quite frankly, makes me sick…"

Dooku's eyebrows rose in amusement, and he chuckled at her words in what he had deemed a pitiable comeback; "I'm sorry, milady… you must forgive me if I intimidate you," he said, holding his smile, a chilling coldness edging his tone; he didn't move from where he stood, however.

"You're just a power-mad bully, Dooku," she growled, gazing fiercely at him, ignoring her peculiar, unrelenting fears, "The ideals of the Republic do still exist, even if the constitution is failing."

"We believe in the same ideals, Senator," the Count replied frankly, opening his hands to her in gesture, "But it is the Separatists who are trying to reinstate the prominence of these ideals… I see no effort within the barracks of the Republic striving to do such."

"Well, if what you say is true, then perhaps you should stay in the Republic and help Chancellor Palpatine put things right…" she retorted strictly.

Dooku nodded slowly in reaction her comment, and – to Padmé's relief – began to pace a little further away from her, circling her unhurriedly; "You talk of idealism. I was once an idealist, and in some respects, still am. But the universe doesn't adhere to the rules of idealism. I've stepped out into this 'real world' from the bubble in which the Jedi live, and have seen where idealism gets one… nowhere. I once hoped to believe that the Supreme Chancellor meant well when he was elected, and would rectify the problems this Republic faced, but I see now, more than ever, that this was never his goal – he is more than what meets the eye, milady. To call him a sham would be an understatement. He promised to cut the bureaucracy, but the bureaucrats are stronger than ever, are they not? He promised many things which have fallen by the wayside…"

He completed a full circle about her, and stopped once more infront of her, looking down into her fiery eyes, "I realise now the truth – and above all that the Republic cannot be fixed."

"A hoard of sceptic remarks, made by one who wants nothing but war!" she snapped in response.

Dooku was not prepared to be shouted down, and loudened his rumbling voice, "It can not be fixed, my lady," he repeated sharply, walking behind her, and grasping her shoulders forcefully in his hands. Padmé looked down to one of his hands tentatively; his very touch sent an abnormal shudder of fear through her body, as if it, alike his presence, incited a foreign apprehension into her through some insidious means…

She jolted her head back forward as he lowered his head by the side of hers; she felt his breath on her neck, and she closed her eyes uneasily as he whispered into her ear, "It is time to start over." She gulped, feeling so distressed, yet unable to pull away, as though she didn't have the capacity to defend herself, or to repel his advances – he was doing something to her, somehow manipulating her…and she couldn't seem to stop him.

He chuckled again, seemingly satisfied with how he'd driven her from a being an assertive Senator into a tense wreck. He slowly withdrew his head, and slid his hands leisurely from off her shoulders, strolling to the side of the room. Padmé exhaled deeply, the weight on her lifting a little as he wandered a short distance away.

"The time will come," he said certainly, turning back to look at her, "When that cult of greed called the Republic will lose even the pretext of democracy and freedom… and if your naivety forces you not to see that, and you refuse to join my cause, I can do nothing to prevent your friends' executions, for, yes, the second Jedi will be executed too."

Amidala hammered the Count with a deep, hurtful gaze, "And what about me?" she asked sardonically, "Am I also to be executed?"

Dooku looked momentarily insulted, and, putting a hand to his chest in a light gesture of disbelief, retorted, "I would never think of such an offence!" He turned his back to her, his cloak sweeping behind him, and walked across his office – but slowed to a stop around its centre as if suddenly remembering something. He slowly turned his head to look at her. She returned his gaze guardedly.

"There are 'individuals', however," he said in a low voice, stepping progressively toward her once again, "Who may have a strong interest in your demise…"

Padmé finally forced herself to take a step back as she watched him approach, feeling that she was losing control of herself in here; the offhandedness of his tone was frightening when the subject of his words was considered.

He came to a firm stop within thirty centimetres of her, and muttered down to her hoarsely, "And I'm sure they'll push to have you included in the execution."

Padmé tried to maintain a stiff upper lip and regarded him with contempt, scowling toward him.

He looked upon her with a degree of mercy, adding, "And, as I have stressed already, without your co-operation, I've done all I can for you and your friends."

"I will not forsake all I have honoured and worked for and betray the Republic," she said with antipathy toward him, "I know of your treaties with the Trade Federation, the Commerce Guilds, and the others, Count. What is happening here is not government that has been bought out by business... it's business becoming government!"

"Believe what you will, my dear," he slyly smirked, cocking his head a littler to the side beguilingly, "But if you are not going to co-operate, then I must turn you over to the Geonosians for justice. I've done all I can for you."

Padmé looked at him in horror, shaking her head in frenzy, "How were you ever a Jedi?" she hissed in contempt, "How can you just sit back and let these things happen? How can you watch two of the Order you were once part of go to their deaths, trying to aid the Republic you once served? How can you live with yourself, knowing that you betrayed so many people who trusted you?"

Dooku's smile dropped, and his lip twitched in anger; he grasped her sharply by her chin again, and held her face up to look into his own, "Don't scorn me, girl," he snarled viciously. Again, Amidala felt his very touch send a chill through her body, as though he himself were cold and empty within, filled with that which makes fear itself. She looked to him wide-eyed, trying to shake the fright he sent pummelling into her – he must be manipulating the Force to disturb her so; she had heard of the more dangerous and frightful things that it could be twisted to do, and had no doubt that he'd mastered these vindictive techniques.

His grip loosened on her chin, and she hoped that he was to let her go – but, to her ultimate shock, he impetuously and sensually kissed her, pulling her into him, and locking his mouth hard about hers. She didn't have time to think – she just felt herself fall into a bizarre lull as his surprisingly soft lips pressed against her own, caressing her fervently. The restraint was on her again – a powerful force that dumbed-down her will to escape, and made her helpless and vulnerable. It was the strangest feeling.

By the time some kind of resistance stirred within her, and her mind finally realised that she should be breaking away, Dooku had slowly withdrawn from her. He looked into her eyes deeply; she could only stare back in astonishment; he may have been a Separatist and a menace, but she had thought him at least a gentleman. That view was now quashed.

"How dare you?" she finally managed to tremble, stepping away from him shakily, unable to comprehend the problems she was having with her own emotions.

The Count looked alarmingly unashamed, and a playful grin crossed his aged face, "Better a former Jedi, free to do as he will, than a Jedi Padawan, forbidden to do such…" he hissed snidely.

Padmé's eyes widened in a bewildered fear – he knew about her and Anakin? But how?

He identified her realisation of her lost secret in the shock strongly radiating from her thoughts; "Your mind's an open book to me, Senator," he sneered arrogantly, "In your moments of weakness during our conversation, you have left your mind unguarded to my mental advances… and I can clearly sense your love for a certain Padawan."

She gulped, unable to take everything in that was happening; "Rather him than you…" she unsteadily retorted, in what she felt was a poor response, but all she could handle.

He chuckled grimly, stepping right up to her again, and running a finger down her face, "Padmé," he purred teasingly, "You like it really…"

She pulled away from him in derision, "Don't flatter yourself!" she seethed furiously, "Now, prove to me that there is some courtesy left within you – let me go!"

"I've told you, I can't do that," he repeated, wheeling about and lightly walking behind her once more. Padmé quivered nervously, sensing him at the rear of her – she couldn't get over her erratic feelings; she couldn't control her fear! She was well known for her composure and valour – but today it seemed as though Dooku had made her leave her strongest qualities outside of the door. She didn't recognise herself.

She inhaled sharply as he took a hold of her shoulders again, stepping close behind her – the iciness trickled from his touch through her veins, and spread infectiously around her body again. She clutched her fingers tightly together and closed her eyes, a darkness seeping into her mind. She felt light-headed, almost faint, and the feeling intensified as the Count moved so that his body was stood touching her back. She breathed in a panicky manner, beginning to sweat a little for the first time…this was not good at all. She knew she wanted to break away, but she had no will to – it had gone.

"Join me Padmé," Dooku asked her tenderly, though it was an order more than an option. He gave her shoulders another stroke, engrossed by the power he had over her. She swallowed before exhaling nervously, the Count's caresses relaxing her shoulders against her will – she didn't want to fall further under his sinister and hazardous control, but she couldn't help it…it was terrifying.

"I can't," she whispered, his uncanny, intangible influence subduing her.

"You can," he urged her, sliding his hands down to her waist and taking a light grip there, "Because you have nothing to go back to…"

Padmé finally peeled her eyes open, "What?" she asked, staring into the space of Dooku's office before her, feeling his body still close behind. She sensed another grin rise on his face, though she couldn't see him, and felt his hands rub just above her hips tenderly – she ignored his affections for the moment, too concerned with his inexact words.

"What if I told you that the Sith Lord the Jedi seek is right under their noses?" he whispered softly into her ear, "What if I told you that this Sith Lord has a place in the senate? What if I told you he controls the senate…?"

Padmé gasped in horror, shaking her head a little, "You're lying…" she murmured; her own will fleetingly broke the unearthly hold that Dooku had her in, and she tore from his grasp, and wheeled about to face him, "You're lying!" she shouted.

Dooku was unmoved by her despair, "I almost wish that were so," he quietly replied.

She began to breathe rapidly again; "Tell me you're lying…" she demanded desperately.

He just looked back, his visage indifferent, but honest.

Padmé clutched her hands into tight fists, and pelted Dooku on the chest fearlessly, "Tell me you're lying!!" she repeated distraughtly, holding the tears of terror in as best as she could. She didn't break easily.

The Count grabbed each of her hands calmly, and firmly placed them back down by her sides, "I'm not lying, Padmé," he clearly stated, looking hard at her.

She shook her head, pulling her hands from his clutches, "It can't be true!" she cried, "How could it be? The Jedi would know! They'd sense it!"

Dooku's eyebrows rose selflessly, "Just like they sensed the Sith had returned ten years ago…?"

The Senator hesitated, looking hard into Dooku's fathomless eyes; it was true that the Jedi had failed to sense the Sith's presence ten years before, and it had taken the sacrifice of Qui-Gon Jinn to prove to them the existence of the Sith… What if Dooku was telling the truth?

"Join me, Padmé," he asked her again, "Help me overthrow the Sith!"

Everything looked hopeless, and something within her told her that Dooku's offer was the only salvation. Surely he was only full of lies and deceit, though…?

But, if he weren't lying, then the cost to the Republic would be devastating. If it was true, then they were already doomed.

"If you don't join me now, it will be too late, my dear," he reminded her, "And when we're all under Palpatine's dictatorship, I'll only be able to say that 'I told you so'."

Padmé's eyes widened in further shock, "Palpatine?" she shrieked in dread.

"Yes, Palpatine!" he stated unquestionably, "Didn't I make it clear to you? Your fellow Nubian is the Sith Lord!"

Amidala shook her head – the man she had enabled to be propelled into power, when she called her 'Vote of No Confidence' ten years back, was actually the Sith Lord? He'd blockaded his own planet, orchestrated Qui-Gon's death, and caused so much strife…?

"No…" she uttered fearfully, her eyes glazing over with trepidation.

She lost her courage and strength to a combination of Dooku's unseen power and her own feeling of defeat and fear, and when the Count's hand touched the back of her head, she willingly leant into his chest, and allowed a tear to run down her face.

"The forces I am gathering will stand against Palpatine's dictatorship," Dooku went on delicately, stroking the Senator's hair gently as she lay against him, beset by his elusive influence, "War is inevitable, Padmé. Just make sure you're on the right side…"

Amidala was totally lost – what could she do?

Dooku lifted her head from his chest, and looked into her face, "Make sure you're by my side…" he whispered softly, before lightly kissing her upon the lips. Unintentionally, Padmé began to unconscientiously kiss him back, closing her eyes, feeling empty and numb inside. The darkness was still there, enclosing round her emotions, and rendering them cold and unfeeling – she was hurt and vulnerable, traumatised by her new view of the Republic, and of her key involvement in the elevation of a Sith Lord to power. Dooku took advantage of this susceptibility, and with his skills and powers, manipulated her emotions, and drew her to him.

By the time Padmé got passed the numb control over her, and realised what she was doing, she didn't break her lips away from the Count's; perhaps she wanted to be safe, to be comforted… whatever she desired, she felt that, at this moment in time, only Dooku could give it to her.

She had been won over by the charisma of the Separatist.

"ECLIPSE"

A Star Wars 'Alternate Universe' story

'What am I doing?' Padmé asked herself, looking at her own reflection in a shining, silver goblet in the quarters of Poggle the Lesser, the Geonosian Archduke. Nothing felt real to her at the moment; everything felt like a bad dream. The prospects of war had lingered so long in the Republic that Padmé had begun to believe that it'd never actually occur. Nor did she believe that, if it did occur, that she'd be joining the side of the Separatist forces; but most of all, she never thought that she'd end up in a passionate embrace with a man who had not only until recently been her political opponent, but who was doubtlessly old enough to be her grandfather…

Age wasn't everything, though; she knew better than most, having been made Queen when but 14 years of age. She sighed – she was only telling herself that to make herself feel better.

What about Anakin? What had happened to her feelings for him? Now that she was alone, she felt her love for and devotion to Anakin again, but was now unsure about it, and confused; her time spent with Dooku had messed up her mind.

She sighed, looking downwards – she wasn't at all sure about joining the Separatists, but staying in the Republic was no longer an option. And at least, through joining the Count, she had now given Dooku the power to free her friends – something good was going to come from this coalition at least. She just hoped that she could get her political followers, from within the Republic, to understand her conversion.

Yet, she still had no proof of Dooku's Sith claims being true. What if he had manipulated her mind as well as her emotions, and made her believe that Palpatine was a Sith Lord? Could his powers extend that far? Or perhaps he wasn't so powerful…perhaps she was just a lot weaker than she thought she was.

Now was not the time to lose confidence. War was brewing, and she'd need to keep her wits about her. She could trust no one any longer.

Suddenly, the doors behind her opened. She turned about and watched Dooku enter with the Geonosian leader, Poggle. This Geonosian seemed different to the others she'd encountered – he had grown some decorative appendages upon his head like a headdress, and also had one drooping alike a beard, hanging from under his chin. He wore gold bangles on his wrists, and beautiful jewels were encrusted onto his metallic clothing; plus, in his hand, he carried a cane – it was clearly more decorative than actually supportive, though, made of an attractive metal, and plated in parts with gold.

The Geonosian stopped still, tapping his fingers upon his staff, his beady eyes sizing up the young Nubian Senator. Dooku looked from the insectoid to Padmé; he opened his hand toward her, "And here she is," he said. It was obvious to Amidala that the two had entered the room mid-conversation, and had been talking about her prior to their entry.

Poggle continued to look over her doubtfully, before he toddled up to her, his head bobbing up and down in a characteristic way as he ambled over; ["Are you sure she'll be an asset to the Confederacy? What does she have to offer?"] Poggle chirped in Geonosian, a language Padmé could definitely not understand – it sounded like a load of indistinguishable snorts and whistles.

Realising that the Count understood the alien perfectly, she felt suddenly uncomfortable again – she could not be privy to what Poggle was saying now, which was most unsettling, especially when she knew it concerned her.

["What does she have to offer?"] Poggle continued, standing straight, his hands upon his cane, and turning his elongated head to look back at the human Count.

Dooku paced over, his disconcerting grin making a reappearance, "Much," he replied confidently in Basic – he could comprehend Poggle, but, as a human, didn't have the capability to talk back to Poggle in his language.

Poggle's beady little black eyes looked upon Dooku unsurely, ["Much what?"] he asked, giving the Count a suggestive stare.

Dooku's grin widened, and he chortled in a twisted geniality, "Come, come, Archduke… you know I'm better than that."

Padmé frowned, glancing between the two men warily – she didn't like the tone of Dooku's voice, nor the look on Poggle's face.

["Just a bonus, is it?"] Poggle grimaced, trotting about his chamber, fluttering his wings briefly, ["I tell you what, Serenn, if you can do this well at your age, then I'll easily be able to win the Queen of the Marxin Hive over…"]

Dooku laughed again, then returned to a slightly more grave manner, "Jokes aside, Poggle – Senator Amidala here can bring us many an asset. She is a highly regarded leader of a group of systems opposed to the 'Military Creation Act'… unfortunately, war is inevitable, and she has realised this. The Republic has betrayed her and her allies by blindly allowing a Sith Lord to rise amongst its ranks. She will now advise her allies to join my cause – the side repelling the advances of this 'phantom menace'."

Poggle tapped his cane upon the floor again, and angled his head back to look at the Count; he pursed his lip as best as he could, and rubbed his beard-like appendage with his free hand, ["I don't know, Serenn,"] he admitted unsurely, ["Nute won't appreciate it at all… and she is still so young…"]

"And I'm old, but age is of no consequence," Dooku lightly retorted, walking behind Padmé and placing his hands onto her shoulders, "And since when has that pusillanimous Neimoidian appreciated anything except his own well-being?"

Padmé sighed dejectedly, briefly closing her eyes as the ethereal 'cold' of Dooku's touch emitted from his hold again.

["You said it, my boy,"] Poggle shrugged indifferently. He stepped to the desk, by his chamber wall, where his silver goblet that Padmé had been admiring stood, and continued; ["She is a Senator from Naboo, is she not? Naboo and its equally passive allies have little to offer your movement in the way of arsenal or strength…"]

"Every system counts, Archduke," the Count urged him to consider, "We have enough arsenal provided from the more affluent members of the Confederacy… we need no more. Senator Amidala here is a powerful figure…" – he tightened his grip on her momentarily, making her swallow anxiously – "The mere impact of this unexpected move will be enough to effectively aid our cause… just as my leaving the Jedi Order came as a horrific blow."

Poggle made a sigh of consideration, picking up his goblet and taking a mouthful of the juice present within. He placed it back upon the desk, and replied finally, ["Fine, Serenn… I am swayed to see your point of view. Though, you are a man, alike myself, and I believe that to be your motivation enough in this case…"]

The Count grinned again grimly, "How can you suggest such to me, Archduke? I am most offended…"

Poggle made his version of a chuckle – though it sounded like someone trying to blow his or her nose when congested to Padmé; ["I'm sure…"] he jeered.

"And, on another point, I want the Jedi freed," Dooku added sternly.

Poggle's eyebrows rose, ["Freed?"] he snorted, ["On what grounds? They are criminals – even this Senator here. I have received the reports of their acts of espionage and devastation around these parts, and know that, under our laws, they should face execution. I am willing to make an exception for the female here on behalf of the Confederacy, Serenn, but I cannot afford to free the others…"]

The Count hadn't wanted that answer.

Amidala felt the weight of the atmosphere increase, and tighten about her as Dooku's rage burned steadily within him; "You can afford to free the others," he snarled monotonously, seeming to be ordering Poggle about. Padmé glanced to her side at the Count's hand upon her, then looked to Poggle with insecurity – the Count was manipulating the Geonosian using a Jedi mind trick! 'They only work on the weak minded' Anakin had said – and Dooku knew that, too.

Poggle's eyes seemed to glaze over, and he became almost inanimate, ["I can afford to free the others,"] he said – he sounded even more robotic than usual.

"We have Senator Amidala on our side now, and in return, you must allow her friends to be freed," Dooku went on.

["We have Senator Amidala on our side now, and in return, I must allow her friends to be freed,"] the Geonosian repeated.

"I can go and free them now."

["You can go and free them now…"]

"Whilst you go for a walk."

["Whilst I go for a walk…."]

"See you later, Poggle."

["See you later, Serenn…"]

And with that, the Geonosian turned from his desk and left his chamber steadily. The door hissed closed behind him as he departed, and a long silence followed.

"What was that all about?" Amidala asked, beginning to feel the atypical claustrophobia again as the Count held her shoulders.

"The Archduke has accepted you, and your friends can go free – I am a man of my word, am I not?" Dooku replied quietly. He patted her shoulder affably, and walked to her side, "You're as good as joined to my Confederacy now…"

"You need a second opinion?" she asked incredulously.

"No," he replied honestly, "But it'll make your acceptance into the Separatist forces easier; if Poggle is there to back me up, then the prejudiced amongst our members may be encouraged to follow suit... there are some who really don't like you, my dear."

"And what were you talking about when you feigned offence?" she asked, wanting to know, "I didn't like the sound of your voice…"

Dooku thought back to his conversation momentarily, "Oh, that… it was nothing," he smiled shrewdly, hooking his thumbs into his belt and walking slowly to the exit of the room.

Padmé's brow knitted tightly, and walked infront of him irritably, stopping him in his tracks, "I've joined your movement – I need to know I can trust you. Tell me."

The Count nodded faintly, charmed by her outburst of anger, "Well, if you must know…" he smiled provocatively, taking her by the shoulder, and walking her along by his side, "The Archduke claimed that my being a man was my motivation for getting you to join my cause."

Padmé's eyes widened, and she looked up at him hard, suddenly feeling even more uneasy.

Dooku snickered under his breath, opening the door of Poggle's chamber, and walking her out, "Ignore him, my dear," he smiled in the outer hallway, the door hissing closed behind them, "I really don't think I have the time."

Padmé looked down, frowning fretfully as he laughed again, shaking his head at her shock; he brushed past her, marching off down the corridor; "Come, Senator," he called behind him, "Your friends await…"

TBC…

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NB: Gees… that was a long chapter! Forgive me, I do have a strange fascination with Count Dooku… I can't help how I feel.