Prologue

Senator Padmé Amidala sat in the Jedi Temple Briefing Room struggling to appear calm, but knew she was failing. She forced her eyes to return to their normal size and closed her gaping mouth as the shimmering holomessage played out again in front of her and then flickered to a stop.

The two Jedi Masters watching her waited in silence, respectfully allowing the stunning news the message had delivered enough time to sink in.

Slowly, the young woman peeled her gaze away from where the holographic image of Obi-Wan Kenobi had been standing just a moment before and she turned to stare at Mace Windu and Master Yoda.

Could her ears have just possibly heard what she thought they did? Maybe if she spoke it out loud, she would awaken herself from this nightmare – or the Jedi now staring at her would inform her that her own ears had deceived her.

"Obi-Wan…" she could hardly bring herself to repeat the words of the brief message, her voice revealing her bewilderment. "Is leaving the Jedi Order….to marry Queen Iviana? Obi-Wan….will be King of Jovian?"

She continued watching the sullen faces across from her, praying against all hope that they would tell her she had been mistaken. But a slight nod of Mace's head and the words the Jedi Master spoke made her stomach churn with a sudden irrepressible nausea.

"It appears so, senator." Mace's tone was low and Yoda's expression was as equally calm, obviously attempting to soothe the turmoil of emotions that Padmé knew was being expressed in her face. She closed her eyes in an attempt to steady her nerves.

How had this happened? Obi-Wan had gone on a routine diplomatic mission just two months ago to Jovian to investigate the planet's qualifications in order to accept their plea for admission to the Republic.

It was routine, except for one thing. The haughty and proud Queen of Jovian had insisted that Obi-Wan come alone, leaving his teenage padawan, Anakin, behind at the Jedi Temple.

She had met the Queen herself at the diplomatic dinner and dance thrown in her honor during her brief stay on Coruscant. The woman was quite rude, but beautiful with her long black hair and icy blue eyes. In fact, she was quite stunning, but not so much so that Padmé had thought her capable of seducing Obi-Wan away from the Jedi. That was impossible…wasn't it?

Padmé silently reflected back to the formal dinner. She must have missed something...


AN: Cover for this story on my website (covers): see My Profile for a link.