I am so sorry this has taken so long to get out. I confess, it's been as much to do with my being distracted – and writing a different story – as real life and uni. Kept meaning to, kept forgetting. My deepest apologies.
This chapter concludes Dark Queen and White Knight. I honestly don't know when the next story will be posted up. I have started it, but my inspiration is all tied up in a completely different fandom at the moment, so…
Check out my fanart at Twisting the Hellmouth, same penname, under the Star Wars section. And any of my non-fanart stuff you like as well! I'll soon be posting up some including the actors 'playing' Kin, Alethea and Nayan, so you'll get an idea of what they look like. Although Kin and Alethea's actors are a little young.
Chapter 12: Revenge of the Sith
Ninth month, 19 BBY, Coruscant:
"Get the children OUT OF THERE!"
Nayan flung himself up in bed, panting heavily. It was Anakin's voice that had screamed in his ear. The end was nigh.
Dressing quickly, he went to the Council chambers in hopes of someone remaining – Yoda had already left for Kashyyyk, but Mace Windu was there, meditating.
"Yes, Knight Kelsrin?" The dark-skinned Jedi asked.
Those two words caused a change in Mace's calm demeanour as he whipped around, staring at him, fire present in his eyes. The energy that was the Force seemed to burn in the Jedi Master's body, his Force-presence screaming to those within range, his aura blinding to those, like Anakin, capable of seeing it.
"I –" Mace broke off as he clutched his head. "There's a disturbance in the Crèche."
Nayan nodded, and the pair headed downstairs. On the way, they encountered Kin Deslad and his new Padawan, Whie Malreaux, also on their way to the Council Chambers.
"You too?" Nayan asked.
They nodded. "We need to inform the rest of the Council." Kin told Mace.
Mace nodded at the youngest Council-member, Obi-Wan's replacement and friend. "After we check the Younglings."
When they entered the Crèche, they found the Jedi Crèche-mistress frantically trying to calm the crying children.
"What happened?" Mace asked. "We could sense the disturbance in the Chamber."
The hapless woman shrugged helplessly. "A few of them – those gifted particularly in prescience and clairvoyance – woke up screaming. They're speaking of terrible visions, Master Windu – the Temple and the Jedi…"
"Burning." Whie finished, his face ashen.
"Calm, Padawan." Kin advised, noticing the fear. He looked to the adults. "We have to get the children out."
Mace nodded, and pulled out his comm. unit. "Initiate Plan Field Trip." He stated. Various shocked and horrified replies came his way, but all confirmed his orders.
It had been a horrible thing, to try and organise the evacuation of the younglings, initiates and Padawans while selecting the Jedi able to live and die. In many cases, they had had to avoid mentioning the plans at all, for fear that certain links to the Senate and Palpatine might betray them. Other Jedi had volunteered to remain, or to accept field command during the periods suspected and try and fight their way to survival.
Nayan and Kin had both wanted to remain. Both had been rebuffed as two of the brightest of the Order, and ordered to survive and make contact with the remains of the Jedi.
There was no way that all would survive. While the Order had already lost thousands of members over three and half years of war, there were still more than enough children to care for. They would have to adapt to the outside world – Codes would be broken. Already, some Jedi had planned family units, with numerous children. Some parents had had their children returned – one sickening advantage of the war was that there had been little time for Jedi to pick up new Force-sensitives, meaning there were far fewer babies and toddlers to look after.
Nayan and Kin had made their plans, knowing, somehow, that they had to stick together on account of their dreams. They were both human and shared a superficial resemblance that had led to their decision to pose as brothers. Unlike other Jedi, they had had the chance to store a ship and money away in preparation. Kin had then approached one of the Jedi Healers, Alethea Orbus, a human woman of exceptional healing ability. She was his age, about her mid-thirties, old enough to have 'had' several children. She had agreed to take on some of the younglings and/or initiates, and pose as Kin's wife, while Nayan would play a young widower. Whie was to pose as Kin and Alethea's eldest 'son', sharing his Master's fair colouring.
"Any word from Kit?" Kin asked Mace.
Kit Fisto had been sent to deal with General Grievous on Utapau.
Mace shook his head. "He should be there some time today. I can only hope he will defeat Grievous and we can end this today."
Nayan let out a dark chuckle. "With Anakin and Kenobi dead? They were the specialists in Sith."
"What now?" Anakin asked as the foursome sat in a lounge of a hidden senatorial apartment.
"Now we wait until we're called." Padmé stated. "We do nothing until then. My master's punishments are… brutal."
Sabé winced in sympathy as she remembered the state Padmé had been in after her last punishment, so many years ago. It was a testament to her skill and determination that she had not suffered through one since. Sidious, it seemed, had a soft spot for her, if only because she was usually so efficient, competent and an excellent senator. Not to mention the control Padmé exerted unconsciously over her husband. Should she die… The only consolation Sabé could find in that scenario was that Anakin would definitely take it out on Palpatine.
Palpatine fumed as the self-proclaimed 'Delegation for the Two Thousand' left after their second meeting. Demanding that he give up his power! Suggesting that he was not doing what he was for the best of the galaxy! Fools! Imbeciles!
Yes, he would have to watch them all, particularly their fiercely pacifist leader, Mon Mothma. The Chandrillan Senator was young – the youngest ever, in fact, to enter the Senate. She was unfortunately popular. If there was a rebellion, he would guarantee her presence at the heart of it. Some of the others were less concerning – Bail Organa, for instance. His apprentice had made something of a friend of him in her role as Naboo senator, and assured him that while the man was firm in his belief in democracy, he lacked the backbone and drive to follow it up. He was, like all Alderaanis, a peacekeeper at heart.
This Delegation was worrying. Two thousand was the closest the Senate had come to a consensus since he had been voted into power. But perhaps his apprentice could be of some use. She, and his new servants, could hunt the traitors for him.
He pressed a button.
The young woman picked up her COMM-link. "Master."
"You are all here?"
"All present and correct, my Master. You have our orders?"
"Yes. I have just had an interesting visit from a group of senators calling themselves the Delegation of the Two Thousand. They presented a petition asking me to rescind my power and step down. In the middle of a war, no less. This smacks of disloyalty. Search out the ringleaders for me. They have Mon Monthma of Chandrilla as their spokesperson."
"And how are your companions?"
"They fall darker everyday. Skywalker and Kenobi are becoming further disillusioned by the cracks they are seeing in the Jedi. Sabé will never betray me." He could hear the confident smirk in her voice. "We all know the penalty of betrayal."
"Quite." Sidious smirked. He had ensured his apprentice learned that lesson long ago. "Be prepared for my call. The Jedi will to uncover my identity any day now. As soon as Grievous is disposed of."
"Yes Master. We will be ready. Do you wish for all of us to answer that call?"
"And the attack on the Temple?"
"You will lead them through it." Sidious informed her. "They must show their loyalty to me and the cause."
"What of hiding their identities? Even with our changes, they are still recognisable." Padmé explained.
"They shall be hooded and masked. You and Miss Kaltiere may decide on your own appearances. Do not be recognised."
The COMM-link shut off.
Palpatine let out a cruel smile.
Soon whatever fledgling Rebellion the senators had in mind would be crushed.
A number of Jedi were discussing movements when Commander Cody, of the troop of Clone Soldiers that had gone with Kit Fisto to fight General Grievous.
"Master Windu, may I interrupt? Master Fisto has made contact with General Grievous, and we have begun our attack."
Mace smiled at the clone commander. "Thank you, Commander Cody. Nayan, take this news to the Chancellor. Monitor his reactions. It will give us a clue as to his intentions."
Nayan Kelsrin nodded and bowed. "Yes, Master."
He left, privately wondering whether this would end the war, or, as they all feared, merely spill out into a new, quieter guerrilla war against Palpatine's new regime. The Dark Side surrounded him ever increasingly; it was worrying.
Mace turned to the other Jedi. "I sense a plot to destroy the Jedi. The dark side of the Force surrounds the Chancellor."
"If he does not give up his emergency powers after the destruction of Grievous, then he should be removed from office." Ki-Adi-Mundi stated with assurance.
Mace shook his head. "That could be a dangerous move… the Jedi Council would have to take control of the Senate in order to secure a peaceful transition…"
"…and replace the Congress with Senators who are not filled with greed and corruption!" Ki-Adi argued.
"To a dark place this line of thought will carry us." Yoda stated, shaking his head sagely. "Hmmmmm… great care we must take."
"How goes the evacuation?" Mace asked Kin.
"Alethea has taken the children to our ship, she and Whie are with them. The rest are going out in dribs and drabs. We should be done by the evening. I've rigged several explosives in the children's levels and planted a number of false bodies in order to disguise the fact that so many have gone missing." Kin answered.
"And the Archives?"
"The Holocrons are being scattered. We have split the Archives into smaller sections – various Jedi have hold of them. We cannot destroy these, since the Sith will suspect that we knew. But we have destroyed or hidden the Sith holocrons we had stored."
"Good. Good that is." Yoda nodded. "Preserved, the knowledge must be. Future Jedi must be taught well."
Kin couldn't help thinking, however, that the future Jedi would bear far less resemblance to the old Jedi than Yoda thought.
"Master Fisto has engaged General Grievous on Utapau." Nayan informed Chancellor Palpatine.
"Good. Let us just hope that he is up to it." Palpatine gave a sly, yet hopeful smile.
"Your Excellency?" Nayan frowned, confused.
"I apologise." Palpatine gave a smile. "It is just… well, one feels it ought to be Master Kenobi or Jedi Skywalker on this mission. Had they not been killed, it would have been them."
Nayan tentatively gave a nod. "I believe so, Chancellor. They were both excellent warriors."
"Anakin was your friend, wasn't he?" Palpatine asked, knowing the answer. "The Jedi have lost so many friends in this war. Your numbers have been decimated… It is tragic that this should fall from their own reluctance to admit that their ability to use the Force was weakened."
Nayan's eyes sought out the Chancellor, darkening with suspicion. "What do you know of that?"
"Only what has been rumoured, my boy." Palpatine gave a coy smile, this time. "There is no need to worry. One can only hope that the Jedi's ability to use the Force returns undiminished at the end of this war."
"Do you intend to rescind your emergency powers at the end, Chancellor?" Nayan asked.
"It would depend entirely on the situation."
Nayan's eyes sought out the Chancellor's and an image flashed before his eyes.
"I AM the Senate!" A dark, cruel voice yelled.
A Sith-red lightsaber flashed in the Chancellor's hands.
Nayan took a step back, shaken, perturbed by the kindly look on the Chancellor's face. A veneer, he now realised, hiding his true nature.
"Is that all, Jedi Kelsrin?"
"Yes, Chancellor. Do you have any messages?"
Nayan left the office as quickly as he could without running.
He arrived back at the Temple less than half an hour later, literally running into a group of Jedi.
"Master Windu, I must talk to you." Nayan panted.
"What is it, Kelsrin? We are in a hurry. We have just received word that Kit has destroyed General Grievous. We are on our way to make sure the Chancellor returns emergency powers back to the Senate." Mace explained.
Nayan shook his head. "He's not going to give up his power. I had a vision while I was in there. Chancellor Palpatine is a Sith Lord."
"A Sith Lord? He admitted it?" Mace asked. Ever since Nayan and Kin's visions, they had been searching for proof.
Nayan shook his head. "No. But he seemed to know of our diminished power in the Force. He baited me with suggestions that Anakin or Kenobi should have been on the mission to destroy Grievous." He sneered. "Spoke of my friendship with Anakin, almost blaming the Jedi for his death, as though I'd believe him. He is the Sith Lord. I know it."
"How do you know it?" Mace demanded.
"I had a vision." Nayan explained further. "He was using a lightsaber. A red one."
"Are you sure?" Mace asked.
"Absolutely." Nayan replied.
Mace sighed. "Then our worst fears have been realized. We must move quickly if the Jedi Order is to survive. You know what to do."
"When you go to arrest him…" Nayan began.
"He will not go quietly, I know, Kelsrin. Alert everyone, and get to your ship." Mace placed a hand on the younger man's shoulder. "Ensure some of the Jedi Order survives at least."
"But in what form?"
"Remain true to our ideals, and we will survive."
Nayan nodded. Mace and three others left. He watched them leave before rousing himself. He took out his comm.
"Kin? It's happening. Now."
A signal briefly went out to all Jedi in battle, along with the various groups of Jedi younglings, Initiates and Padawans, before going silent.
The first chapter of the survival of the Jedi Order was ending. The next – the battle for the lives of those left behind – was yet to come.
Nayan picked up what other sundries he could – including extras from the Temple stores for disguises, recalling that children grow – before taking a transport to their ship.
Alethea and Whie were already there.
"Prepared, sister, nephew?" Nayan asked.
"You mean…" She began.
"They've gone to arrest the Chancellor. It happens tonight."
Padmé received the signal.
"He's revealed himself to one of them. They'll be going to arrest him." Padmé informed the others.
Anakin entered the bathroom, to put in the colour contacts that would remain a semi-permanent feature for the next few years, and shortening his hair to a more military cut. He and Obi-Wan both placed on stiffened masks, covering the forehead, the nose and curling down at the sides to cover part of the cheeks, framing the mouth and chin. Hooded black cloaks shadowed the masked faces, covering their hair
None of them wore anything suggestive of the Jedi but for their hooded cloaks. Padmé wore her leather body-suit. Sabé wore tight-fitting leather trousers, heeled boots and a sleeveless, heavy cotton tunic, blaster and lightsaber hanging from her belt, her lower arms covered by leather arm-guards. The men wore black trousers and boots, with black shirts. Anakin wore one leather, gauntlet-style glove, over his right hand. This would one day become known as his 'killing' hand, and rumours would be circulated about it being a droid-hand, rather than flesh and blood.
Padmé smiled. "Very good."
"Won't someone recognise you?" Anakin asked.
She shook her head. "The Naboo use of decoys was well-known. With so many of us looking alike, wilful blindness will take place. There're a lot more brunettes than blondes on Naboo, especially in the south-west."
She took out four silvery pins. "Use these on your cloaks."
"What are they?" Anakin asked, even as he examined the circular pin with a bird-like symbol upon them.
"Our new symbol. The phoenix is ancient bird of myth on Naboo – but the myth was, ironically, brought from Tatooine by refugees. An eternal bird, that can survive even death, that rises reborn from the ashes of its own destruction." She smirked. "That is us. It is the symbol of our cause."
As she said it, they knew she did not mean the Sith.
"As you wish, mistress." Anakin grinned, pinning the cloak at the neck.
The others followed suit.
"Now to the Chancellor." Padmé ordered.
It was odd, Anakin processed, looking on the two women, how different they did look. Sabé had gone to the blonde-streaked brown she had not worn since her rape, shorter locks framing her face as the rest was twisted back into a plaited knot – her hair had always been worn down and curled in the Senate, not to mention far darker. Both women had emphasised their dark eyes with make-up, and their skin was darker from the time spent in the sun planetside on Dathomir. Padmé's hair barely brushed her shoulders, and was straight, a small portion of the front pulled back out of her face. Both women had painted their nails the white of Padmé's home village – and their new 'home village' – but it shimmered, instead of being matte. The clothes were so different to their usual style that they barely looked Naboo – they had none of the traditional opulence and colour. They were stark simplicity.
It struck Anakin as amusing that practicality had now also become the way of the Sith. How similar to the Jedi they were in that respect!
They arrived in an antechamber outside the Chancellor's office to wait. They had to wait for the Jedi to make their accusations first, before 'rescuing' the Chancellor.
They heard the entrance of the Jedi, and the snap-hiss of active lightsabers.
"Master Windu. I take it General Grievous has been destroyed then. I must say, you're here sooner than expected." Palpatine spoke mildly.
Windu's face and voice were grave. "In the name of the Galactic Senate of the Republic, you are under arrest, Chancellor."
"Are you threatening me, Master Jedi?" Palpatine's voice darkened, Padmé could sense his eyes narrowing.
"The Senate will decide your fate." Mace informed him.
"I AM the Senate!" The burst of anger from Palpatine caused all four Jedi and Dark Adepts to shiver.
"Not yet!" Mace responded angrily, raising his lightsaber.
"It's treason, then." Palpatine stated.
The Jedi advanced. Palpatine, rather than reveal his strength, faked worry. "Are all the Jedi in on this plot?" He demanded, edging away. "Are you determined to destroy the Republic?"
"We serve the Republic."
"You are here to assassinate me! Guards!" He yelled, knowing full well they had been knocked out by the entering Jedi.
Mace Windu raised his lightsaber.
And found that it was met by a Sith-red one. A petite female, hooded and cloaked, stopped his assault.
"You will not raise a blade against the Chancellor." She informed him.
Three other blades snap-hissed on behind her: lilac, green-black, and fire-red. The Jedi's eyes widened.
"Sith." Windu snarled.
"Jedi." The female sneered back. "Fallen so low as to kill an unarmed man."
"He is the Sith."
"You are a fool."
And then the battle began.
The other three Jedi were disposed of disturbingly quickly by the three Force Adepts, each filled with the sensation that this was how the confrontation was supposed to end. That they were saving the Jedi by dying.
Mace was using his superior strength to bear down on the female Sith. He didn't expect to suddenly feel a foot slam into his side and one of the masked men – the taller one – face him.
"Hey, pick on someone your own size." He snapped, bringing his fire-red 'saber up. That confused Mace. Was the man a Sith or not? The blade was not the right shade for the synthetic crystals used by the Sith, but the colour…
"I was doing fine." The female snapped.
"I know, darling." The man smiled. "But you know how I get jealous."
Mace's frown deepened. The Sith frowned on romantic attachments as much as the Jedi, so why was this permitted by the Chancellor, who was being tended to by the other female.
The duel was brutal and fierce. Mace hadn't fought anyone this good since Anakin and Obi-Wan died, but this man used darker moves and tactics than either. The duel took them around the room, a strike shattering the window and the room filling with wind. Palpatine suddenly struck out with Force lightning, the Sith female, now by his side, so it almost appeared to be from her. He blocked the lightning, sending it back into Palpatine as he did so.
"No!" The woman shrieked.
"No… Help me… Please, stop him…"
The red-sabered man seemed torn, but steeled himself, and as Mace's attention was distracted, hacked off his hand and 'saber.
Mace cried out in horror and pain at the loss, as his 'saber and hand disappeared out of the window. A lightsaber he had taken years to make and perfect, and had never lost or permanently damaged.
"Yes…" Palpatine hissed, his face deformed from the lightning.
But it was the Sith-female who struck out. Electricity raced from her fingers and into his body, forcing the Jedi out of the window, to drop into the city below. Palpatine had no idea that the attack had not been true lightning, and the pain only half as much. Nor had he any idea that Mace and his lightsaber had both landed in a speeder that, incidentally, belonged to the father of a future hero of the Rebellion. Mace would survive, with the eerie sensation that the two red-bladed Sith had in fact saved his life.
Palpatine picked himself up, brushing off glass and dust from his robes.
Palpatine's face was hideously scarred from the turning back of his own lightning. He looked around his office, his gaze falling on the dead Jedi that littered the ground. The four figures now stood to attention, garbed in black, lightsabers at their belts.
"Well done, my servants." Palpatine hissed. His throat had been affected too. "The Jedi have fallen. Their 'divide' will be known. Ensure that order is brought to the warring Temple."
"Yes, Master." The shorter female figure spoke.
"Darth Bana, you have trained them well. You all have done well. Now prove your loyalty to me, once and for all!" Palpatine ordered.
The taller of the two men spoke. "I do this only for A – Bana. She has my loyalty." He was careful to use her other identity, and not her true one.
Palpatine's eyes narrowed. "But since her loyalty is to me, Sir Vader, yours is also." He pointed out with a sneer.
The man stared. "Vader?"
Palpatine nodded. "You have proven yourself as Dark Adepts. Sir Vader." His eyes fell on Anakin. "Sir Anaf." Obi-Wan. "And Lady Dita." Sabé.
Palpatine turned to his desk and switched on his communicator. A clone appeared. "Commander. The time has come. Execute Order 66."
"It will be done, my lord." The Commander responded.
Palpatine turned to the Adepts. "Civil war has erupted in the Jedi Temple. News of the divide has come. You must go and ensure that peace is preserved, that no innocents are killed."
"Yes, my lord." Bana bowed.
She and the others left for the Jedi Temple.
Palpatine pressed another button and an aide entered.
"Find someone to get rid of these." He ordered, gesturing to the Jedi bodies on the floor.
They all felt the disruption of the Force in the Senate's office.
"It is time."
Clone troopers entered barely minutes later, shooting every Jedi in sight. Violence, panic and carnage raged, even as bodies, both Jedi and Clone, fell to the floor.
Then entered the others.
Everything seemed to still.
"Peace must return." The shorter of the two men spoke. "Any Jedi not allied with those who attempted to assassinate the Chancellor to us!"
Then they entered the fray. It was impossible to tell whether it was Jedi or Adept who killed as the flurry of lightsabers flashed.
All separated to their own jobs.
Bana remained in Sith mode, the only way she would be able to cope as the entered the levels of the Temple preserved for Younglings.
They were deserted. Fakes bodies lay everywhere, and she could sense the hidden charges.
"Oh, very clever." She applauded silently. "Oh, yes."
She used the Force to activate the charges after making a few marks. The explosions rang out.
Kin's eyes snapped open from where he had been observing the fighting at the Temple.
"She activated them." He cried.
"What?" His co-pilot asked.
"The Sith." Kin frowned. "She purposely activated the charges."
"I will not allow you to destroy the Archives." Jocasta Nu informed the Sith in front of her, with no idea as to his true identity.
Anakin had once saved the Archives from the Sith, but he had no intention of destroying them now.
"Why would I destroy 'em?" He asked, thickening his accent. "All that knowledge'll be in our hands now."
Jocasta moved suddenly, lightsaber in hand, evidently trying to lock down the Archives.
Anakin's – Vader's – lightsaber blocked her way. "Nuh-uh. I won't let you destroy 'em either."
Jocasta's lightsaber flashed out.
The duel was swift, impressive, but fatal to the aged Jedi Master.
"I'm sorry." He whispered before he struck the final blow, her eyes widening before the lightsaber pierced her heart.
Anakin drew in a deep breath, before turning to another Jedi and fighting again.
In little time, the Jedi had been subdued.
Senator Organa had witnessed the killing of an orphaned Padawan who had been struck with a terminal disease. The child had understood was what happening, and preferred to stay and fight, rather than become a heavy cost on whoever cared for him.
Organa had not known that truth, but he had seen enough to know that the worst was happening.
Later that night, the Adepts returned to their rooms on Coruscant.
The three non-Sith spent much of it emptying the contents of their stomachs into the 'fresher.
"I knew it was going to be horrible, but…" Anakin closed his eyes. "They knew…"
"Hold onto your grief, Anakin." Padmé ordered him fiercely. "Hold it, shape it, master it. Make it steel, make it a weapon. And store it away. With every passing grievance, shape it again, let it grow stronger. And eventually, you can release it." She whispered now in his ear, positioning herself so no camera could see or hear what she was saying. "Release it against Sidious."
Anakin nodded. "I will, love, I just…"
Padmé kissed him gently. "Come to bed. Release in another way."
Both were thankful that her ability to heal had meant she could engage in 'marital activities' far earlier than most women after giving birth. They made love through the night, allowing their grief to pass into anger and harden, becoming adamantine will for their future battles.
Even as they did, Obi-Wan and Sabé comforted each other, praying for the end of what was proving to be the most difficult times of their lives.
"Goodbye, Tarfful. Goodbye, Chewbacca. Miss you, I will." Yoda gave his farewells to the Wookies who had saved him as he climbed into a small space-pod.
His thoughts were on the devastation at the Temple. Much had been planned without him, but it had proven wise. Many old friends were dead, but he rejoiced as he recognised masking, as oppose to death, taking Younglings' presences away from the Force. His children were safe. For now, at least. But he would return to face Sidious.
And who were these new presences in the Force, who had participated in the slaughter? What would they mean for the future?
The Senate, the next day:
Bail Organa entered the Senate late, after picking up Yoda and Kit Fisto and allowing them to head to the Jedi Temple.
"…and the Jedi Rebellion has been foiled."
"I was held up. What's happening?"
"The Chancellor has been elaborating on a plot by a faction of the Jedi, to overthrow the Senate." Saran Bibble, the new Naboo senator, replied.
"That's not true!" Bail replied, the dark image of the child being shot in his mind.
"He's been presenting evidence all afternoon." The older man shrugged, but Bail suspected that the shrewd man didn't believe Palpatine any more than he did.
"And the Senate will go along with it, just like they always do." Bail sighed dispassionately.
"Their attack has left me scarred and deformed, but I assure you, my will is as strong as ever!" Palpatine announced to applause. "The remaining traitorous Jedi will be hunted down and defeated. Any collaborators will suffer the same fate. Those who remain loyal will, of course, be welcomed back with open arms."
The Senate burst out into applause again.
"These have been trying times, but we have passed the test."
"Who are those with him?" Bail asked, looking at the four figures – two male, two female – that stood with the Chancellor.
Saran shook his head. "Unknown. But they look like some kind of guard. Or worse."
"The war is over!" Palpatine announced to applause. "The Separatists have been defeated," more applause, "and the Jedi rebellion has been foiled. We stand on the threshold of a new beginning."
There was a loud raucous cheering and applause. Bail thought he could make out a sneer on the men's hooded and half-masked faces. Why were they masked, he wondered. Deformity? Or did Palpatine want to stave off their recognition, allowing them to go about their business unnoticed otherwise?
Saran drew in a breath. "Well, this is the moment we discover if he intends to return the Republic to a democracy."
Well observed, considered Bail. The man had signed their petition, but remained outside the main ring of leadership. He suspected, however, that he would support them if what they feared was to pass.
"In order to ensure our security and continuing stability, the Republic will be reorganized into the first Galactic Empire, for a safe and secure society which I assure you will last for ten thousand years." Palpatine announced.
There was a cheer, taken up and sustained by thousands of the senators, all thinking it ideal. Bail and Saran sat staring, incapable of speech, too far into shock.
"An empire that will continue to be ruled by this august body, and a sovereign ruler chosen for life…"
The Senate cheered again.
"No." Saran whispered.
"An empire ruled by the majority… Ruled by a new constitution…"
"Majority?" Saran muttered as the Senate applauded again. "He means humans! They are applauding their own loss of liberty!"
"We cannot let this happen." Bail stated, beginning to stand. Far from the lack of backbone Bana had described to her master, Bail Organa had a will of titanium when his very core principles were offended, and a hot head when angered, for all his pacifism.
The older man grabbed his arm, sitting him back down. "Not now!" He hissed. "There will be a time." He looked into Bail's eyes gravely. "Whatever happens, I am loyal to the Republic."
Bail nodded, understanding the man's words.
The Rebellion was already forming in the minds of those senators who still believed in democracy. Ironically, a loyal rebellion.
"Alderaan is a Core World." Saran observed blandly. "In a good position to oversee things happening on the capital. But it is in the danger zone, should they oppose the Empire."
Bail nodded again. He knew exactly what the older man meant. Keep your head down and your mouth shut, and you might not only survive, but gather intelligence.
I can serve the Rebellion better by staying silent and saving my family, than from a prison cell.
He thought of the little girl his wife had adopted as daughter and heir, who he had already fallen in love with from photos.
I will do it to protect you, Leia.
The four Adepts left the Senate Hall, all feeling their own mild versions of disgust.
"Get to the Jedi Temple." Padmé ordered Obi-Wan. "The signal's been out long enough. Change it to a warning."
He obeyed, with no idea that he would change the warning and leave mere minutes before Yoda and Fisto made their way into the Archives to do just that.
Fisto frowned at the message circuitry.
"It's been recalibrated already." He informed Yoda. "Telling all that it was a trap, that the Chancellor has effectively declared war on the Jedi, not to trust his lies."
"Changed by whom, was it?" Yoda asked.
Fisto examined the code and the Jedi Master's eyes widened further. "M-Master Yoda, it – it has Master Kenobi's signal."
"Help us from beyond the grave, does Obi-Wan?" Yoda frowned slightly. "Strange, strange."
Fisto pushed the circuitry back in, before turning to the holoproj of records. He went to touch the controls…
"Do not. Enough that protected, the children were."
"We need to know who attacked us."
"If look into the security recordings, you do, only pain will you find." Yoda warned him, wary of the sight of his colleagues being slaughtered.
The holoproj's images were hazy, but four figures appeared. Yoda frowned, feeling something familiar, yet he could not place it. The Dark Adepts fought with style and finesse, the smallest woman seeming to be in charge, and the darkest, while the other woman seemed to be the least skilled. The men fought like Jedi, only more fiercely, more darkly, more dangerously.
"Four of them!" Fisto gasped. "Four Sith?"
"Only one, a true Sith is. Sidious' apprentice. The others… Dark Jedi, Adepts only. Her servants."
They watched the fight in the Chancellor's office.
"Darling? Jealous?" Fisto frowned. "That doesn't seem…"
"Attachment, there is. Confusing, yes. Very confusing." Then his eyes widened as they watched more. "Follows only her, this Vader does. His love and loyalty, with Darth Bana lie, not her master."
"We can exploit that."
"We will. In time."
Yoda attempted to kill the Emperor to no avail. He retired to Dagobah. Kit Fisto returned to Mon Calamari, formerly a Separatist world, which was just as likely to want nothing to do with the Empire. They had entered the war on principle, not selfishness.
Bana and Vader were sent to dispose of the Separatist leaders. They slaughtered them on Mustafar.
Bail Organa returned home, taking his daughter in his arms for the first time.
"She's perfect." He whispered. "But where…"
"Her parents visited me." Breha confessed to her husband. "Told me that they trusted us to keep her safe, to bring her up correctly. They feared something dreadfully." She closed her eyes. "She's Force-sensitive, Bail. I think her parents were Jedi. They said that they were in danger. They knew what Palpatine had planned. They gave her up to ensure her safety, her childhood, her future." She frowned, and looked surprised. "What they knew… They knew I was childless. They knew you were a good man. They trust us."
"And we shall honour it." Bail responded decisively.
Breha smiled, and nodded. "They left two droids with us, the astromech is to never have a memory wipe, and to take a record. I wiped the memory of the protocol droid already. They are toys, guardians and carers. She has a brother – a twin – and a family out there, Bail. She'll meet them some day. Somehow I know they will."
"We will not deprive her. But she is also our daughter now. The future Queen of Alderaan." Bail smiled, sitting beside his wife gently. Leia's eyes, now a dark brown like her mother's, opened, seeming to smile, despite the fact she was barely a month old, if that.
Neither Organa had any idea that when her tiny hand reached out to touch Breha's belly that the woman was healed. That Leia would continue to heal as she grew older, though more often with words and medicines than the Force. They would have no idea until Breha conceived again, several months later.
On Tatooine, Beru Lars smiled over her nephew as she fed him from a bottle.
"He's certainly a voracious little thing." She murmured aloud as she watched the babe guzzle the milk.
"He is at that." Shmi observed as she entered, smiling. "He must get it from his father."
Beru chuckled. "I remember when he came for the wedding."
Shmi smiled, remembering the amount her son had managed to eat. "I think most men are built with hollow legs. Especially Skywalkers." She looked down at his grandson. She looked back at Beru. "When will you and Owen give us a child to spoil?"
Beru looked up, startled. "Oh, I, well, I have no idea." She blushed. "I would love a child though."
"Well, we'll have plenty of help." She looked out, seeing In'den and Anah deep in conversation with Owen and Cliegg about something. The Halbarrs – they were now using In'den's name, since it was unknown and safer – had decided to stay with the Lars family. Not only did it allow them to provide more protection, but it gave Cliegg and Owen a hand on the farm, although Anah, used to a much more moist planet, was given to bitter complaints about the lack of water and the sonic, over real water, showers.
"We will." Beru smiled, gazing at her husband. Owen looked up and locked eyes with her, giving her a smile, before turning back to his father. "And the Darklighters have a little boy a few months older than Luke. We can introduce them."
"Yes, Biggs, isn't it?"
"That's one of them." Beru smiled.
"Yes. Got to make sure our little one has friends." Shmi nodded. "Friends make life so much easier."
"Just like love."
Eleventh month, 19 BBY:
The HoloNet reported the news.
"… have undeniable proof from the Jedi Temple that a faction of them purposely murdered Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, two of their own! They also organised the deaths of Padmé Amidala Skywalker, her unborn child, and Sabé Kaltiere, believed to have been in a relationship with Kenobi.
"With such proof of the Jedi's villainy, how can anyone think of harbouring them? Are those loyal to the Empire truly so, or are they faking it?
"In other news, Lady Bana's reorganisation of the old navy into the Imperial Starfleet is going well. Sir Vader, her husband and advisor, has recommended that all aspiring pilots make their way to the new Academy to be set up to train the pilots and navy officers of the future…"
Dormé and Lyle Typho looked at the ship askance.
"I know it's not much, but it's the best I can do." The pilot informed them. "Chandrilla, right?"
The pair nodded. Dormé's hand lay protectively on the bump beneath her gown.
They needed to get off Naboo as soon as possible. Palpatine would not ignore them for much longer. And a message had recommended they head to Chandrilla.
Once there, they would be met twice. First by a group of four people, anxious to greet them and get their help. And second by a recruiter for the whispers of rebellion, whom they had been ordered to help by their new employers.
They were to be go-betweens for the Sith.
The Mother Courage:
Kin Deslad looked at his 'wife' and smiled. "How're the Younglings doing?"
"Well." Alethea replied with a smile of her own. "Better than I would have expected, given the circumstances. What are we to do now?"
"We need to find somewhere to settle." Kin replied. "Somewhere quiet where we can get work, train the kids, but still have the chance to travel around, collecting news. And eventually, when the kids are older, we contact the rebellion."
"There's a rebellion?"
"Under an Empire?" Kin asked grimly. "There has to be."
Nayan entered with a grin. "Well, at least I don't have to worry about faking a marriage to everyone. You know in most culture, spouses share rooms, right?"
The 'older and wiser' pair of Jedi Force-flung their food at him.
The Silent Dawn:
"Things change so swiftly." Padmé observed. "Years, decades of planning, and the change takes place in a week."
"And yet the next change will take equally as long." Anakin replied.
"But this time, we'll be the ones doing the manipulating. We'll be the ones planning the change, not working around my master's."
"And one day," Anakin vowed, "we will all truly be free."
The End of Dark Queen and White Knight, the first of a Trilogy
Hope you enjoyed.
Let me know what you think. I wanted to make sure I at least finished this story, if not its sequels. I have plenty of notes, so hopefully I'll be inspired again at some point.
P.S. Happy Christmas in advance! Or Happy Festival of Light (Diwali, Hannukah, Yule…)!