Warnings and Threats

"The Emperor recognizes Senator Jerica, of the system of Naboo."

Jerica inclined her head and smoothed a tress of her brown hair back into place under the decorated hairpiece. Without further hesitation, she moved to the front of the senate pod. Emperor she snorted. Why even bother with Senators and formalities? He rules everything.

"My fellow delegates, esteemed Emperor Palpatine." It was all she could do not to gag on the address. She had already served as Senator Bellin's replacement for seven tendays, yet she could not adjust to the new level of political façades. Working in the palace in Theed was youngling's playtime compared to this.

She shifted in her stiff Senatorial robes as she continued. "I have come before you here today, to yet again present the petition of the loyalist sovereignties. Surely the Emperor can see the suffering of the people under leadership that is not their own."

A hush fell over the enormous room, but the Emperor appeared to be unaffected by her announcement.

"Long ago, the Empire was promised to be created for the galaxies' protection." Her pleading, brown-eyed, gaze moved across the expanse of senators, "Is that not what we gave up liberty for?

The silence remained, not even a hushed word was murmured.

"For Safety, Security, Justice and Peace, we surrendered democracy. On the promises of our Emperor we accepted a shift of power," her gaze returned to the chair. "For the sake of the children, that was the pledge. For the generations to come. But if this Empire is to stand for ten thousand years, changes must be made."

Looking directly into the face of Palpatine she said, "Danger, injustice and disorder plague our worlds. In twenty years, our problems have only escalated."

"Problems Senator Jerica?" The Emperor asked in his harsh voice. "You were not born in an age of problems. You do not understand how fortunate your generation is to be born in the era of the Empire."

"With all due respect," Jerica said, "I am not sure that is true. Famine and hostility plague the outer rim. On many worlds, primitive peoples are destroyed. Governors are imposing strict law that destroy-"

"Enough Senator," The Emperor interrupted. "I suggest you go back to your sector and reassess your claims. Some might consider your false statements to be threats against the very core of our values."

"Are you saying that my safety would be threatened?"

"Indeed," the Emperor said, after a strange pause.

A chill spread through Jerica at the look in Palpatine's eyes. She had the distinct feeling that had this conversation occurred in a disserted hall, with no witnesses, that she would be dead.

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"You words will be your undoing, Kyra," her father warned.

"I will speak only the truth," she had vowed.

Koln Darred watched as his daughter continued to pack, wishing he could convince her to stay. "Truth is rarely welcomed on Coruscant."

Kyra closed the last of the bags. It was a little late to be having this conversation. "Then perhaps you wish me to decline the Queen's request. All I have dreamed of is bringing about change."

"Your mother had the same wish, and look at how she was rewarded."

"I will not join the rebellion. I will appeal to the system. Nothing can last ten thousand years without going through change. Palpatine allows Senators to speak, and so I will speak."

Koln looked at his daughter, unable to hide his concern. "You will die."

Kyra couldn't believe what she was hearing. Sure things had changed, but Senators still had the ability to speak. The Empire was not completely a dictatorship . . . yet. "You think he will kill me?"

"Don't underestimate him. Palpatine did not gain his power through the system, nor did he use means of mercy. Deception and corruption, those are his ways."

"And those are the very things he swore the Empire would stand against. Perhaps I shall remind him. To think, a man of Naboo, scorning the galaxy in this way."

"Oh my daughter," he said, taking her chin in his hand, and lifting her face to look back at him. "You have the spirit of a warrior, but you are young and naïve. Even the greatest of heroes know when to fight and when to remain silent."

"Well," she said, "if that is so, then there are too many heroes about. Silence in this case will save no one."

Koln sighed and took her into his arms. "Promise me you will use good sense when you go to the capital. Don't let your . . . convictions lead you down a path that will kill you. I do not want to lose my daughter."

She pulled away from the hug, and looked back at him, "You won't lose me, father. I will make you proud. I won't be destroyed. I will help bring about a change that will better the whole of the Empire."

A sad look came over her father's eyes, "I love you, Kyra. Only . . . promise me you will return safely."

"I will, father," she said. It was then that door to Kyra's chamber opened, and the Queen's messenger stepped inside. "Senator Jerica," she said, calling Kyra by her given name. "The transport is ready."

Jerica nodded, and her bags were loaded on to the ship. In a matter of moments she would leave her beautiful homeworld for the political arena of Coruscant. Before stepping up the ramp to the ship, she embraced her father one last time.

As the ship entered the atmosphere, Koln had the sinking feeling that he might never see his daughter again.

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In her office, Senator Jerica stared out her window overlooking the bustling city below. Nice work, she scolded herself. This is only my seventh tenday, and already I've made a horrible fool of myself.

"Convictions," she said aloud, disgust ringing in her words. "Father was right. They have no place here."

A summons tone from the office foyer sounded, startling her. She shook her head. Another visitor, she thought with a sigh. Sending a reply to allow the guest in, she moved to the front of her desk. The doors opened with a gust of air and Senator Mollon of Polis Massa stepped inside. Well, Jerica decided he was once an advocate for the Republic. He shouldn't be too hard on me.

"Senator Jerica," Mollon began.

Jerica noticed there was a tone of disproving in his voice.

"Senator Mollon," she answered. "Perhaps you have come to discuss my . . . questionable tactics from this afternoon."

"Questionable is an understatement," Mollon said, with a terse raise of his eyebrow. "Openly questioning the Emperor is not the most favored tactic. There is a reason for that. Many good senators have been silenced for speaking out of turn."

"I did not question him-"

"Initially," Senator Mollon conceded. "But I am sure that whatever senators the Emperor disproves of you are now among them."

"I don't doubt that."

"And you are not concerned?"

"I suppose I should be," she said, moving to sit behind her desk. "But I came here to help bring about a change-"

"It's too late for that. The generation of our parents had the chance, when the Jedi still existed and democracy reigned. They could have prevented it. Now . . . the old Republic is gone. If you do not accept that and follow the agenda, you will not survive."

"Hmm . . ." she said, setting her face in a mask of calm. "I seem to be getting a lot of threats today. Perhaps I should be concerned."

She knew she sounded flippant, especially by the look on Mollon's face, but she was too tired to care. Mollon stammered for a reply, "I don't think you understand-"

"No, Senator Mollon," she said, rising from her seat. "I do understand. I understand that I am the only one in the senate with a sense of decency! How could this have happened? How could good men sit by and do nothing as freedom was stolen away! I won't let it go unanswered. It's better to stand and fight then sit by and let the enemy win. You, yourself, once valued democracy, now you have abandoned it."

"I have not. I appreciate your convictions, but the fight does not belong in the senate. The battle against Palpatine must be fought elsewhere."

"You are speaking of the rebellion?" she asked, raising an eyebrow. "I don't think so. Palpatine pays little attention to that band of misfits. If they were truly of any consequence he would not be sitting so calmly in the senate. It is in the senate that he has placed his attention, that is where we can win our freedom back."

"You are so naïve. Even if it was possible, you lack the subtlety to accomplish it."

Jerica shifted slightly and took a moment to consider his remark. She felt the sting of the accusation that she was too naïve for this job, but she quickly brushed it aside. All she knew for sure was that she was tired of the conversation, "I know you are concerned, Senator Mollan, and I do appreciate your advice." Then she twisted the focus back on to him, a common political trick. "However, if I am truly in a compromising position, it occurs to me, Senator, that by coming to meet me, you are putting yourself at risk."

Mollon was not easily swayed, "If your life is spared by my warning, then it is worth the risk."

Jerica shook her head, "But you must know by now that I can not disregard my convictions."

"If you are so blind to reason," Mollon countered in frustration, "then you are already lost."

Jerica moved from behind her desk, "I'm sorry if my principle disappoints you, but there is nothing you can say to persuade me otherwise."

Mollon nodded, before turning to leave, "Just remember, you can do nothing to right this wrong, if you are dead."

His statement had a startle effect, for it was the same warning her father had given her not so long ago. Maybe she should be concerned about Palpatine. Once Mollon had exited her office, she pushed her doubt aside and moved toward the door that lead from her office to her private quarters.

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"Tell me," Emperor Palpatine said as he sipped his expensive drink. "Is there really such dissension in the senate. There have always been rumblings, but fear has kept order."

"The young senator of Naboo has caused quite a stir," one of the advisors admitted.

"Yes, but she can easily be quieted." The Emperor considered making Naboo the first planet to be destroyed, but he quickly dismissed the thought. The planet was still of some use. It would be best to just be rid of Jerica, to make an example of her rather than the whole planet.

"I'm not so sure," the advisor continued.

There was warning in the glare Palpatine gave the advisor, "What are you saying?"

"There is more to be concerned for, my lord," the advisor began tentatively, "Senator Jerica is not just a nuisance. She is the daughter of Sabé Darred."