Disclaimer: I do not own Star Wars or any of its likenesses or characters. It all belongs to LFL.
AN: This is my first Star Wars fic, so please be kind. This begins just before ROTS, therefore, this will be a ROTS AU. Enjoy and let me know what you think!
A Matter of Trust
Chapter 1: Dark Side Conspiracy
Padme rubbed her eyes from exhaustion. She glanced up at the chrono on the wall and realized that she had worked through dinner. But one did that when all they had to go home to was an empty apartment. She picked up the budget datapad and decided to read through a few more files, before heading home. She was beginning to get hungry. She smiled, and put a hand to her growing stomach, as she felt a kick. The baby was getting hungry as well. She couldn't wait to tell Ani about their baby. She knew he would be so happy. She was too, but scared as to what it would mean for them at the same time. As she was scrolling through the files, she came across an encrypted once, in which she had never seen before. Her curiosity piqued, as she tried to break into it. Unfortunately, it was too well encrypted.
'If only Artoo were here,' she thought to herself. Suddenly, she remembered the encryption decoder that Artoo had left with her. If anything besides Artoo could crack into the file, it would be that. She packed up the datapad and grabbed her things, before leaving for her apartment. She had been very suspicious of Palpatine, as of late, and if this could tell her anything about his dealings, it might bring the war closer to an end and bring Anakin back home to her.
Padme entered her apartment and tossed her things off to the side.
"Welcome home Miss Padme," 3PO greeted.
"Thank you 3PO. Can you please retrieve that decoder that Artoo left for me?" Padme requested.
"Of course Miss Padme, right away," 3PO chimed in response.
"Good evening milady," Dorme greeted. Padme smiled at her most trusted friend. She and Captain Typho had been so good to her and were the only ones that knew of her secret marriage to Anakin.
"Hello Dorme," Padme replied. In her bedroom, Dorme helped her out of her heavy senatorial robes, which these days, were even heavier in order to hide her pregnancy. She was already showing quite a bit at 5 months due to her petite frame. It was getting harder and harder to hide.
"Padme, you seem stressed. You need to relax and not only for yourself, but for the baby as well," Dorme told her. Padme sighed.
"I know, I'm just frustrated. Peace talks are going no where and the Chancellor has taken no steps to end this war. And my husband is out there in the middle of it. I want him home," Padme said, as the last part came out choked, as she desperately tried to hold the tears back.
"I'm sorry, I just miss him so much," Padme apologized, as she slipped into a sky blue nightgown.
"You have nothing to be sorry about milady. I can't even imagine how hard this is for you, I don't know how you do it sometimes," Dorme replied.
"Me either," Padme replied quietly. Padme straightened, remembering the file she wanted so desperately to reveal.
"I'll be fine Dorme, you can go for the night," Padme replied.
"Are you sure?" she asked, with much concern.
"I'm positive," Padme replied. Dorme nodded and put on her cloak, before Padme saw her out.
Padme opened the datapad and inserted the chip Artoo had left for her. While the decoder went to work, Padme went to the kitchen for a glass of Shuura juice and something to eat. She returned sometime later and was pleasantly surprised to see that the decoder had done its job. She began scrolling through the various transactions and saw a few questionable things here and there. She frowned when she saw that no names were revealed on any of the transactions, only that they had been made by someone in the senate. She shook her head, thinking that she could definitely find better places for these credits to be spent. Suddenly, a name on one caught her attention. She quickly opened the transaction for a better look and what she saw caused her to gasp in horror. A very large sum of credits had been paid to an unnamed bounty hunter for the successful abduction and disposal of…Shmi Skywalker. She put a hand over her mouth in abject horror, as tears threatened to fall.
"This can't be right…Shmi wasn't kidnaped by a bounty hunter," Padme said. Her mind was reeling still when she remembered a conversation that had taken place at the Lars home after Ani had gone after his mother.
"I just don't understand why they would take her. She was no threat to them and no where near their territory," Cliegg Lars said in frustration. That peaked her interest.
"Forgive me, but I've heard that the Tuscan's are ruthless killers. Why does it surprise you that they took her?" Padme asked respectfully.
"You're right, the Tuscan's are ruthless murderers, but usually here on the moisture farms and near the cities, you're safe from them. Tuscan's usually only attack people who are unfortunate enough to wander out into the Jundland Wastes and beyond. That's their territory and it is unusual for them to come in this far," Owen explained.
Padme had thought it was very strange that Shmi had been kidnaped by Tuscans after that conversation. But Cliegg and Owen had told her about the Tuscan tracks out by the vaporators, where she had last been. Since she did not know enough about the creatures at the time, she dismissed the whole incident as a very unfortunate tragedy.
But now…bounty hunters. They were very good at making sure to cover their tracks. Had one actually kidnaped Shmi and left her near that Tuscan village? But why? Who in the senate would want to hurt her and…Anakin! Who would want to hurt her Ani like that? She remembered his confession to her. He had slaughtered all those creatures in anger over his mother's death. An incredible anger and hate had taken a hold of him. It made him do something that her Anakin just wouldn't do had he been in control. She had heard Obi-Wan speak of the dangers of emotions like anger and hate for a Jedi. He said that they could and often did lead to the dark side.
She covered her face with her hands, as she lightly sobbed. Could someone really be trying to turn Ani to the dark side. If that were actually so, then that would mean…that the Sith Lord was somewhere in the senate. The true horror of that was too much for her, as she ran to the refresher to empty to contents of her stomach.
Padme finished rinsing her mouth and brushing her teeth. She knew that she had to take great care in who she revealed this information to. The only senators that she trusted implicitly were Bail Organa and Mon Mothma. She sat down on the couch and buried her face in her hands. Could she trust the Chancellor? He had always been very fond of Anakin and he would want to know if someone was trying to hurt him.
But...something in her gut told her not to tell him. Something told her to keep Anakin as far away for the Chancellor as possible, though she didn't really know why she felt that way. At one time, Palpatine was her mentor and most trusted advisor. When had things changed so drastically? She guessed that the change over the last thirteen years had been so subtle that she hadn't really noticed it. She felt a little kick in her stomach and smiled. It was getting late and there really was nothing more she could do tonight. She would go to bed and in the morning, she would pay a surprise visit to the dear chancellor and get a feel for how much he knew.
She pulled back the covers and climbed into bed. She shivered slightly and pulled the blankets up around her. She sighed sadly, as she put a hand on Anakin's empty side of the bed. It had been five long months since she had seen him last, but she would never forget that magical night.
Anakin wrapped his arms around her slim waist from behind, as they stood together on the veranda. He had just returned from a meeting with the Jedi Council. As he feared, his two weeks of leave were ending and he was leaving in the morning. Sensing his sadness, Padme turned in his embrace and wrapped her arms around his neck.
"When do you leave?" she asked.
"Tomorrow morning," he replied sadly. She nodded numbly and laid her head against his chest.
"I don't know how much longer I can be away from you like this," he said, as he kissed her forehead.
"I know, I hate this war too," she replied.
"I'd leave the Jedi if you asked me to," he said. I looked up at him.
"I know you would, but I can't let you do that. Too many people need you. You were meant to be a Jedi and they need you just as much as I do," she replied. Anakin scoffed.
"The Jedi don't trust me, they never have. From my first day in the temple, I've always been looked at like an outsider. The other padawans were always afraid of me and the knights and masters were leery and skeptical of me. You're what I need, what I've always needed," he replied.
"I know, you're all I need too. And once this war is over, we can both retire and finally raise a family. But I have to make sure that I do everything I can to end this war. I want to raise any children that we have in a peaceful galaxy, not one torn by war," she said passionately. Anakin caressed her cheek.
"You're right, we need to end this war first," he replied.
"And then, we'll move back to Naboo and make beautiful babies," she said with a smile, as she gave him a tender kiss on the lips.
"You just have to promise me that you'll be careful out there and that you'll come back to me," she pleaded with him.
"Nothing could ever keep me from coming back to you, angel," he replied, as he swept her into a searing kiss. She felt her knees go weak, as her husband trailed soft kisses down her neck.
"We should make use of the time we have left together," he said, giving her that trademark sexy half smile she loved so much. She smiled and kissed him again, as he lifted her into his arms and carried her to their bedroom.
She smiled at the memory of how they had made love well into the early hours of the morning. And when she awoke, he was gone, on his way to fight in the outer rim sieges with Obi-Wan. Finally, she managed to drift off to sleep with thoughts of her husband fresh in her mind.
The next morning, Senator Padme Amidala strode confidently toward the office of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. Suddenly, she was meant with an astonishing sight. The chancellor's guards were laying haphazardly on the floor. She heard voices coming from the chancellor's office and wasted no time in barging her way in...
"You have become incompetent Chancellor. My master and I have promised to deliver you to the Separatist leaders," Count Dooku said, as he secured the Chancellor's hands in the shackles. Dooku looked up, as he sensed another presence. Senator Amidala entered the office, scowling at Dooku.
"Senator Amidala...this is quite a surprise. I'm afraid that you've chose a most unfortunate time to see the chancellor. No matter though, my master may find some use for you," Dooku smiled evilly. Using the Force, Dooku ceased her movements so he could bind her hands. As much as she struggled, she could not break his force grip. She tried hard to keep calm, but her composure was fading fast.
'Oh Ani, I'm so sorry,' she said to herself. Dooku brought his mouth to her ear.
"Don't worry dear senator, you'll be seeing your Ani soon enough. My master and I have foreseen it," Dooku told her. Padme's eyes widened in horror. She had been right! The Sith were after Anakin! She gritted her teeth in determination. They couldn't have him, not if she had anything to say about it...
Count Dooku led his two prisoners to his transport, which would soon meet up with General Grevious' flagship.
'Oh Ani, I'm so sorry,'
Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker jolted awake in his quarters aboard the Republic cruiser he was currently assigned to.
"Padme..." he whispered. He didn't know how, but he knew that something was seriously wrong. He threw back the blankets, as he heard his comlink chirp.
"Skywalker here," he answered.
"Anakin, I'm sorry to wake you, but you need to come to the bridge. We have received an urgent message from the council," Obi-Wan Kenobi said.
"I'll be right there master," Anakin answered, as he threw on his clothes and headed for the bridge.
A hologram appeared before them in the forms of Jedi Masters Yoda and Mace Windu.
"Greetings Master Kenobi and Knight Skywalker," Yoda began.
"Hello masters," Obi-Wan greeted, as he and Anakin bowed respectfully.
"What is the urgency masters?" Anakin asked.
"We have very distressing news. Chancellor Palpatine, along with Senator Amidala, have been kidnaped by Count Dooku," Mace revealed. Anakin felt his heart tighten in his chest. He immediately walled up his emotions and managed to remain stoic.
"Taken to General Grevious' flagship the Imperial Hand they have been. The council's decision it is to send you both on this rescue mission," Master Yoda told them.
"Very well masters, Anakin and I will leave immediately," Obi-Wan replied.
"May the force be with you both," Mace told them.
"May the force be with you as well masters," Obi-Wan replied, as their transmission blinked out. He turned to Anakin, only to find that the young knight was already heading for hanger bay. He could faintly feel the emotional torrent going on inside of Anakin, despite his efforts to conceal it. He sighed heavily and followed his former apprentice. He truly hoped that the suspicions he had about Anakin and the senator were wrong. Coruscant was a 14-hour flight from where they were and it was time he and his former padawan had a long talk...