Author's note: Huge thanks goes to Cariel for beta reading this for me! Inspired by a lovely tale which is currently in the works and is to be called 'Reign of the Dark Mistress'. For updates on this tale be sure to visit Cariel (user id: 296706)stories. Needless to say this tale does contain spoilers to said story…You have been warned!

Disclaimer: Not mine. None of it. Not even the pairing concept of Dormé and Vader which is Cariels XD

The Bird's Nest

Her hands shook but not enough to spill the contents of the small sachet that rested in them. Despite her nerves Rabé knew that there was no room for mistakes. Everything was about perfect timing and the element of surprise; two factors she was more than trained to handle. Her only fear was Sabé's unnatural sixth sense. However with the principle handmaiden currently absent, as she was in a meeting with Senator Mon Mothma and Senator Organa, Rabé knew the time had come to complete her mission.

You must act and quickly. With the recent shift in power things will be chaotic, but not for long. If what your colleague says is true, then there is a very distinct possibility that your comrades maybe asked to serve in Lord Vader and his lover's entourage. We cannot let that happen.

Your job is to eliminate all who may be chosen. If they aren't removed, the security of our regime will be utterly destroyed and all that we have worked for will be for nought.

We depend on your actions now more than ever. Please do not fail. The very future of the galaxy may come to depend on it.

Closing her eyes, Rabé cleared her thoughts, reminding herself this had to be done, and that she was only doing as she was asked, that lives would be saved because of her actions today. Only when she was able to achieve some semblance of calm did Rabé carefully poured the powder into the individual drinks that rested on the tray.

It came as no surprise that Lord Vader killed her superiors. Though she had no idea who this man was, Rabé knew from her husband that Force sensitives who practiced the dark side were less-than-stable. Still it was a waste and she could only imagine the set back this would bring.

The real surprise came with Sabé's admittance that Lord Vader had killed Padmé and that Dormé was now his lover. Rabé had never known a woman more loyal to their mistress–-save for Sabé herself—than Dormé Jaffa. Saché was even more shocked by the discovery and was quick to defend Dormé's good name, arguing with Sabé that the poor girl had been brainwashed or some such nonsense. Rabé didn't believe in such luck and thus Dormé became nothing more than a traitor who would one day meet the wrong end of her blade. If only there was a way around everything else! She closed her eyes once more and drew in a sharp breath as she reminded herself that soon it would all be over and she would finally be able to let go.

Half a teaspoon for the Vita water, she silently reminded herself. A full one for the two fluted glasses of burgundy spring wine.

She could hear Ellé weeping in the next room and knew she was more fearful of Dormé's demise than of her mistress. Ellé always did look up to Dormé and regarded her with a sense of awe, just as Moteé would regard her with feigned interest. Rabé could almost imagine Moteé's stoic expression and already knew that the wealthy handmaiden had nothing to lose. Her father was a wealthy man and could support her properly.

Another half teaspoon for the tea, and two thirds of a teaspoon for the juice, Rabé continued in her mind while trying to ignore her best friend speaking in soft tones of their next course of action. She didn't have the heart to tell Saché that such plans would not be necessary.

Pausing at the glass of milk, she removed a different vial from her hidden pocket and poured the contents from it into the glass. Only the mug of sweet tea was spared of any tampering. Clenching the now empty sachet tightly in her hand, Rabé tried to ignore the reality of the plastic crumpling in her palm. The soft crinkle it made caused her heart to leap to her throat as though the barely audible sound were as loud as thunder. Nevertheless, no one heard and when she arrived back into the living quarters with the tray filled with drinks, no one noticed that her hands were shaking.

Offering the appropriate glasses to everyone in the room, Rabé was politely thanked by most whom were only too parched from the long day spent in meetings and funeral preparations. But while their gratitude was noted, Rabé was unable to reply as the knot in her throat made it nearly impossible to breathe, nevermind speak. Once the drinks were served, she silently took a seat in her favourite chair and waited with baited breath for it all to end.

Fortunately Rabé did not have to wait long.

Saché who was renowned for drinking vita-water by the bottles when she was stressed was the first to feel its effects. Growing drowsy, she remarked the long day had worn her out and that she was going to take a nap. Rabé's dearest friend didn't even make it down the hall when the poison finally took hold of her body. The others began to fall soon after, reminding Rabé of the warning given to her about the toxin.

Be mindful of how much you mix and with what. If done properly, even a sip or two can take a grown man's life. But if mixed incorrectly, your prey will wish they had never been born. Unless of course that is the effect you want—

Rabé drew in a shaky breath and prayed she had mixed it right. She didn't want them to suffer; she only wanted to ensure they died as a noble warriors, not traitors and monsters.

Some of the girls struggled to stand to rush to Saché's aid only to fall lifeless to the floor as the poison snuffed out their souls. Other's more aware of the situation swiftly turned their attentions to Rabé who could only watch them in pained silence. She said nothing to them and in truth, she didn't want to either. Lying just cheapened the moment and an apology would most certainly not be accepted. So instead drew her weapon in silent warning just as they were attempting to draw theirs. Rabé knew it wouldn't be necessary for while the girls now knew the truth, they were too poisoned to do anything about it.

Moteé was the only one who was able to make an attempt at firing a shot. Hissing curses at a rather placid looking Rabé, the former decoy didn't even have a chance to fire when Rabé shot first. In silence, she watched as the laser bullet pierced a hole between the former decoy's eyes, rendering her lifeless before her corpse fell to the floor. Rabé never did like Moteé much anyway.

Only after her corpse landed unceremoniously onto the floor did the surrealism of the moment fade. The pistol slipped unnoticed from her fingers as her mind reeled while tears filled her amber eyes. Now was not the time to mourn or to weep and desperately, Rabé tried to bury the past, to ignore the rush of fond memories that it encouraged. What was done was done. There was no point in dwelling over simpler, happier times, as there was no place for them in this harsh reality. Allies had become enemies, freedom had become slavery and all that she loved was now dead, either by the hands of the new empire or her own.

In silent reverence, Rabé's hands slipped to the other hidden pocket of her gown and from it she removed a small handful of traditional burial coins. The young woman frowned at the sight of them. She wondered what her grandfather would think of her now if he knew what his precious little benyta was about to do with the sacred coins he had bestowed upon her when she was but a youngling. But the elder high priest had long since returned to the realms of Harmony, leaving in his wake only the blessed coins that rested in her clammy palms and the history that came with it.

He once told her that ancient legend believed the metal of these sacred coins would ward off chaos fiends. The creatures devoured the spirits of those who were recently deceased who were on their journey to the realms of harmony. The blessings made on the coins themselves were meant to protect the owner so long as life filled their lungs.

But knowing what she had done, Rabé felt it was only appropriate her sisters carried the coins. Unlike her, they deserved a safe journey back to the realms of Harmony and ultimately back to the care of their mistress. Rabé wasn't exactly a believer of any faith, but she was superstitious. It was because of this that she now found herself gingerly placing a coin against each of the handmaiden's lips. It was common belief that the souls of the fallen always departed through the mouth of its mortal shell.

Upon completion, Rabé didn't dare remain for long, as she knew it would only be a matter of time before Sabé would return. She also didn't move or alter the bodies in any way as she felt it was inappropriate. Another ancient superstition she never bothered to pay much mind to until now.

Yet as she prepared to depart, Rabé couldn't help but feel as though a piece of her had died along side them. She also couldn't deny the sinking feeling that she was about to embark on the darkest hours of her life.

Though Rabé knew she had been victorious in her mission, all she felt was a sense of emptiness. It was as though she was alive in body, but no longer in spirit. Though she knew now was not her time, there was a part of Rabé that wished she had died alongside her sisters. However knowing that it was too late now to bear such thoughts, Rabé took another deep breath, put on her mask of stoic calm, and departed without another moment's hesitation. There was little time left to her now and she still had one more small thing to do before her mission was truly complete.

Elsewhere, a simple message was received by a lone figure that stood watch over a rundown factory that would soon become the remnant Separatist's headquarters. Though it was highly encrypted and scrambled once deciphered, all that it revealed was three words that held all the information needed.

Nest is clean.