Chapter One

Senator Amidala listened to the Chancellor's report with growing alarm.

Ever since having become involved in a senatorial faction opposing the Military Creation Act, Padmé often found herself before the Chancellor in meetings such as this, which typically involved the presence of the Jedi as well. Several Masters were present today and showing their shared concern over the increasing number of separatists, those who had withdrawn their alliegance to the Republic, and were rumored to be creating an army in order to bully their way around the Galaxy.

But that was not what alarmed her.

Master Mace Windu of the Jedi Council had just informed the Chancellor that a team of Jedi had disappeared after having responded to a distress signal coming from somewhere near the orbit of the planet Hoth.

"What were they doing there?" Senator Organa from Alderaan asked, but Padmé already knew. Just a few days ago, she had eaten mid meal with Obi-Wan Kenobi and his former padawan, Anakin Skywalker, and they had informed her of a possible separatist training facility having been established on Dorvalla in the Elrood Sector. Obi-Wan had told her that a team of Jedi would probably be sent soon to investigate.

It sounded like a dangerous mission, and she had wondered who the Council had sent. She had meant to ask Obi-Wan before now about it, but it looked like she wouldn't have to.

During her reflection, Mace Windu had kept talking and a few words had escaped Padme's attention, but when she heard the council member mention two names in particular, her attention became much more focused.

"Who did he just say answered that distress call?" The senator whispered into a cupped hand, aiming her question toward her ever-present assistant, Dormé.

"Kenobi and Skywalker, Mi'Lady." Dormé whispered back, and Padmé's face blanched.

"What's being done about it?" She suddenly and uncharacteristically blurted out to the surprised chagrin of Chancellor Palpatine and the stern glare of Master Windu.

"Two Jedi, leaving soon to recover them, there are." The ancient Master Yoda replied with a gentle gaze, but Padme wasn't the least bit comforted.

"It could've been a trap!" The young woman pointed out. "They could be in danger!"

"Aware of that, we are." Yoda responded.

"Our most qualified Jedi are preparing to leave as we speak." Mace Windu attempted to ease Padmé's worries.

And worried, the senator was. But she was also, something else.

Dormé recognized that look on Padmé's face. It was the same look she had, when, as Queen of Naboo, she had charged into Theed to battle the Federation army that had taken over the city.

Dormé had been nervous then, and she was nervous now. There was no telling what the young woman had up her sleeve.

"Which Jedi?" Dormé heard her employer say.

From the back of the group, standing behind those seated, stepped forth an attractive young Twi'Lek female knight, whom Padmé immediately recognized. Anakin had mentioned her once after she had nearly beaten his Master during lightsaber practice. Her name was Aayla Secura, she believed.

"I'm going." The bluish-hued female stated with an authoritative air, and some of Padmé's anxiety was relieved. Who better to go rescue her friends than the second-best warrior in the Jedi Order?

Maybe, she wouldn't have to go rescue them herself after all, Padmé thought.

However, following the meeting, the young senator overheard a discussion between Master Windu and Aayla that quickly changed her mind.

"We had decided that Fisto and Eerin were going, not you." The older Jedi told her.

"Mace! I'm going, so don't try to talk me out of it!"

"Aayla..." The council member's voice softened dramatically and Padmé had to really concentrate to be able to hear it. "I don't think it's such a good idea, I mean with you and Kenobi's history and all."

History!? Padmé grasped onto the word to examine it more closely. What did that mean?

"I'm going Mace, with or without the Council's permission."

As the Chancellor was wrapping up some last-minute details with Master Yoda, and Bail Organa was telling her something about the record-low temperatures on Hoth during this time of season, Padmé stole a glance at the Twi'Lek. Were those tears in her eyes?

And before Dormé could stop her, or she could really think about what she was about to say, Padmé turned her attention away from Senator Organa's galactic weather report to address the Supreme Chancellor.

"Chancellor Palpatine." She heard herself say. "I would like to accompany the Jedi to investigate the rumors of there being separatist groups forming in the Elrood Sector, and I am formally requesting permission to do so."

From behind her, Padmé heard a sharp intake of breath, obviously from Dormé, which she resolutely ignored, focusing on the concerned face of their leader, who apparently figured that the Naboo senator would be safe traveling with Jedi, because much to her surprise and Dormé's disappointment, he granted her request.

Padmé turned and smiled at her handmaiden even though the young woman was scowling. The young senator knew there would be hell to pay. Dormé didn't care for cold climates.

Well, too bad. Padmé decided.

They were going, and that was that. Only, she didn't quite understand why she had insisted upon it.