Well everybody, all good things must come to an end. Although I am sad to see the story finished, I am thankful that you all joined me for the ride. I hope everyone enjoyed reading it as much as I loved writing it. My thanks to Jenn and Kim for their wonderful beta reading talents, as well as their insightful comments. Thanks again to all my loyal readers.
Sweet Christabel: It definitely wasn't an easy moment for Sabe, but as always she did what she thought was right. Thanks so much for reading!
Stephanie C: Glad you liked the twist. Padme was especially wicked in this one. Yes, I too cannot believe the story is over. Thanks so much for reading!
Pokey: It was especially fun to write our favorite characters from an evil perspective. Thanks for reading!
Emerald Green Queen: After awhile, even a curvy road has to straighten. Glad though I kept you in suspense for a little while. ;) And yes, creepy Padme is not done ;). As for NC and its sequel, they too will have their disturbing moments, bt probably nothing at this extreme. Thanks so much for reading. Your comments and suggestions were extremely helpful!
The long funeral procession came to a halt at a large, duracrete mausoleum that had been recently built near the governmental complex. Behind the two caskets, the Emperor Vader stood with the tiny Sienna Kelaria in his arms. Gathered about them were the Empress Vader and their two children, the Crown Prince Luke and Princess Leia. After the Naboo holy man finished the ceremony, the caskets belonging to Thomas and Sabé Piett were interred. Anakin and Padmé exchanged brief glances before she moved to the front of the procession.
"My faithful subjects. We gather here today to pay our final respects to our honored dead. It should be known for all time that Thomas and Sabé Piett were true patriots. They made the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in order to end Palpatine's tyranny. And while we mourn their loss, we must be thankful that their deaths were not in vain. As their friend, I know I will miss them terribly. But I am comforted by the fact that a little piece of them will remain within me and my family forever."
Once the duracrete markers were sealed, a tear soaked Sienna looked up at Vader. "What will happen to me now?"
He offered the child a sad smile, recalling how lost he had felt when Qui-Gon Jinn had died. "Padmé and I are going to take care of you. We're your family now."
"You mean I can stay with Luke and Leia?"
Vader nodded. "You will be their baby sister."
Sienna sadly smiled then buried her face against his chest. Meanwhile, Padmé returned to his side where she began to sing the traditional chant of sorrow. A crack of a smile crossed her face when she heard Sienna join in softly. Padmé smile grew as she saw the Coruscanti sunlight illuminate the child's deep auburn hair — just like her mother's. Looking up to the heavens, Padmé whispered, "Farewell, my sister."
At that same moment on Naboo, Ryoo Naberrie settled down with her sister in front of the holoviewer to watch her favorite holonet show when the transmission was abruptly turned black. A synthetic voice announced, "Please stand by for an urgent message from the Empress."
"Empress?" Pooja curiously asked.
Ryoo shrugged. "I thought I heard something the other day about a change on Imperial City, but I don't know who this could be."
The holoviewer flickered several times before the image of the funeral procession appeared. The two youths watched the interment and their mouths dropped when the new Empress appeared to deliver her address.
"Mom!" Ryoo and Pooja yelled in unison.
Sola, who had been fixing an arrangement of flowers in her workroom, hurried into the family room. "What's the matter?" She asked with deep concern. Both girls turned and stared blankly at her. "You both look like you've seen a ghost."
"I think we have, Mom." Ryoo somberly answered. "Look," she requested, pointing at the holoviewer.
Sola briefly contorted her face before looking up. The only sound that was heard was the breaking of glass from the vase she was holding. Clearing her throat, Sola muttered, "Pack your things. We're going to Coruscant."
Deep in the Outer Rim, an Imperial shuttle landed at the nondescript medical facility. A team of physicians and nurses met the officers who unloaded the stasis container with a single occupant. The head doctor immediately approached the senior officer. "We just received the transmission from Coruscant about this transfer."
The officer nodded. "The Emperor and Empress have demanded constant monitoring and care for this patient." He then handed the doctor a large datapad filled with her history.
"Do you know who she is?" The doctor asked as he peaked into the stasis tube.
"Everything you need to know is in that file." The officer then straightened himself. "But if I were you, the less you know, the better off you will be."
The head physician stared at him blankly prior to glancing over the datapad. "As you may or may not know, no one sent here in this severe of a coma has ever awoken."
"In the unlikely event of that occurring, you are ordered to contact the Imperial family immediately," the officer snapped.
"Of course, sir." Shaking his head, the doctor turned to his team. "Get her inside and hook her up to the monitors. We have a new guest."
As the medical team pushed the stasis tube inside, the illuminated form of Obi-Wan Kenobi stood safely nearby, watching. If he had required breath, he would have released a deep sigh at seeing the woman he still loved being discarded and left for dead. Despite this, a slight, knowing smile filled his face.
Sleep well, my beloved. One day you will be needed…