Disclaimer: Don't own Star Wars

A/N: Sorry, it has been too long (over a year _); The computer I was working on died, and it has taken awhile before I could access the files on it. Happy Valentine's Day and enjoy an extra long chapter of over 5,000 words!

Chapter Seven: What was Lost (And What has been Gained)

Light.

Cracking open his eyes that was all he saw. The room seemed to be comprised of it, bouncing off what he thought might be white walls. His drug addled mind fought to recall; it strained against the fog the drugs created as it tried to gain more consciousness- a consciousness that was fleeting at best. One of his fingers twitched, and the nerves in his hand tingled. He was still alive. Where these words came from, he could not discern, but they caused his throat to constrict. He was underwater; he gasped fighting with the instrument in his nose and mouth that regulated his air intake. His hands could not move, and bubbles blotted his view. His heart rate increased. There was glass- he was surrounded by glass… trapped by it.

Mumbled voices. The word 'subject'- possibly some numbers. He reached for something… something that was inside him. What, he could not remember. It was instinct. It was illusive. He was drowning. It had abandoned him. He still was alive.

"Grab him!"

Light hit Dukke's eyes as arms wrapped around him and pulled him from the water. He gaped, looking upward as he gulped for air. His hair obscured much of his vision as did the water that dripped down it.

"It's alright, Master! No need to jump in! I got him," the one named Anakin shouted toward the Jedi Master, who had been seated not far from the lake.

The Jedi Master scowled at his apprentice. "Be more careful, he's still recovering."

"He still remembers how to swim," Bant said pleasantly, while her hands skimmed across the surface of the water. "When Anakin isn't pushing into him, of course."

"Hey!" Anakin called, releasing his grip on a now calm Obi-wan, who was merely brushing his bangs away from his face and pushing his braid aside. "Knight Muln helped!"

Qui-gon watched on as Garen and Bant reminiscent about old times, noting the bated looks they focused on Obi-wan hoping to see some sort of recognition, but the boy, who should have been a man, simply listened and took in the information. Lines formed across Qui-gon's forehead; Obi-wan had been doing much the same for the week that he had been in Qui-gon's care. Simply listening- taking every grain of information with the intensity of one who had been famished. Gradually, Qui-gon returned to his seat, folding his arms against his chest. Obi-wan rarely spoke, unless addressed, and he would do as told to an extreme, a far cry from the padawan Qui-gon had known. Qui-gon now regretted any thought he might have had for Obi-wan to become a more obedient padawan. The boy had not even reacted to the knowledge that he should be much older than what he was… that he had been missing for so many years… that his very being had been tampered with.

Bant splashed Garen for some comment, and the knight reacted by returning fire; they were acting more like children than the Jedi that they were, but it sparked an interesting response from Obi-wan, and Qui-gon swore he saw a long absent spark in the boy's eyes. The trip to the lake had been a good one so far, especially after the week cooped up in their quarters, gradually adjusting Obi-wan's eyes. For the most part, Obi-wan was enjoyed the water, minus the moment when Anakin had bumped into him—now that had triggered something within the boy's mind as prior to it he had seemed quite adapt at swimming, but the moment his head sunk below the water, all that knowledge seemed lost as he flailed about trying to right himself. Qui-gon would have to approach him about it later. They were making progress, even if it was not toward recovering lost memories. 'However,' Qui-gon thought as he watched Anakin join in the water fight much to Obi-wan's displeasure when he received a splash to the face, 'we are finding hope that within that torn mind there was something left that had not been completely destroyed by the Sith.' Qui-gon's thoughts vanished.

"Can I help you, Master Windu?" As he addressed the Jedi Master, Qui-gon's posture grew rigid.

There was a pause as Windu surveyed the activities of those in the water. "I need just a moment of your time… there have been developments."

'Developments,' Qui-gon repeated in his head. "Anakin, watch after Obi-wan; I will return shortly. If he grows tired, take him back to our quarters."

"As always, Master, I am your obedi -." Anakin was cut-off by a force propel wave of water sent by Garen.

"You shouldn't lie, Anakin," Muln said, chuckling. "Everyone here knows too much about you to believe it."

"I can still out-maneuver you any day," Anakin retort with his usually bravado.

A smile tugged at Qui-gon's face. It was good for Obi-wan to be around this; he had been lacking human contact for far too long. Feeling secure leaving Obi-wan in Anakin's care, Qui-gon followed Mace to a quiet place within one of the many gardens present at the Jedi Temple.

"What is-?" Qui-gon began.

"A last-minute petition is being brought forth in the Senate this afternoon. A group of Senators have learned of Obi-wan's presence here and are demanding that he be turned over to their custody as a prisoner of war… and they want him tried as such for crimes committed during the war."

"Th-This is prepos-."

"The Jedi serve the Senate; it has always been this way. However, given the circumstances, we cannot allow Obi-wan to be turned over, especially if the Sith Lord is in charge of the Senate as Dooku insists. It would be returning the Sith Lord's tool to him."

Qui-gon's former Master's words returned to him: "But I did not lie, when I said that the Sith Lord now controlled the Senate. Think, Qui-gon! Of the time just before and after Geonosis, and then, Qui-gon, you will see through the looking glass clearly and hopefully before it is too late for you. It is already too late for the Jedi Order." "This is the Sith Lord's doing. How else would a delegation of Senators find out that he is here? What is being done to stop this?"

"Masters Yoda and Gallia are presently at the Senate Building. They will address the Senate and try to stem this petition. However, if it does pass, we will be left with no choice."

"I should be there as well. I have spent the most time with the boy; I can better assert that he is no threat."

Mace sighed, his eyes veiled by his eyelids. "Your mind is clouded by your attachment to the ideal that he represents, my friend. The boy, while seemingly docile, is very much a threat. His mind is riddled with suggestions that at a flip of a switch will active. Assassinations, his own demise, infiltration, espionage… these are only a small number of possibilities for the suggestions. While Healer Charr is battling them valiantly, she is becoming doubtful that she will ever find and dismantle them all. There are places in his mind that she cannot reach… traps she nullifies rearm, while new ones form. She is battling someone, and she is out of her league." When Qui-gon remained silent, Windu turned to face them. "Do not lie to yourself, Qui-gon. See him as he is; he will only have a future when the Sith has been destroyed, and even then, you will have to hope that there is something left."

"What are you saying, Mace."

"It is not out of the realm of possibility that the Sith Lord's death will trigger another wave of suggestions… possibly more traps."

"I will handle that as it comes, until then, I am not going to watch as he is handed back to the monster that did this to him." Qui-gon's voice remained even as said this, trying to contain any emotion that was behind it.

"You are to remain here. Rest knowing that Master Yoda holds many of the same opinions as you regarding Obi-wan, though even he can see that though he may appear to be just a boy… he is nothing of the sort." Windu paused. "While not allowed to go to the Senate Building, I will be watching the proceedings along with other council members; if you would like, you are free to join us."

Qui-gon looked back the way they had come. Surely, Anakin could be trusted to watch over Obi-wan for just a little longer. "I accept your offer."

The Korun Master merely nodded his head, knowingly.

SWSWSW

Yoda and Adi Gallia stood as their pod was navigated to the center of the Senate Building just a few feet from the Chancellor's platform. Prior to this a laundry list of crimes and offences had been read against Obi-wan by the Senator from Telerath, who had been followed up my ten other senators. With these charges, the rest of the Senators had grown disquieted, talking to their peers despite Mas Amedda's cries for silence. Next to Yoda, Adi Gallia's lips thin.

"We will have silence!" Mas Amedda shouted one last time before the vice chair turned and nodded to the Chancellor.

"I acknowledge Masters Yoda and Gallia to explain this situation further. Masters, please begin."

Yoda nodded his head, and Adi spoke, her voice loud and clear. "It is true that we have captured a Separatist agent, and he is currently residing within our custody." More murmurs caused her to raise her voice higher. "The agent as stated within this petition is a former Jedi apprentice by the name of Obi-wan Kenobi, who disappeared more than twenty years ago, only to resurface with the alias Dukke—and his memories erased." The Corellian Master's face tightened as her grasp on her audience further diminished, and they began to echo shouts for a vote. "It should be noted-."

"Order! We will have order!" Mas Amedda cut-in.

"The boy has been used as little more than a puppet," Adi continued. "His mind erased frequently and reworked to fit the needs of his master." She finished.

With the final words, chaos erupted. Several senators had their pods detached and approached the platform in order to gain recognition that was not readily given. Yoda gazed at the three on the platform. The Chancellor remained silent, while Mas Amedda whispered in his ear. Yoda's ears lowered as he recalled Mace Windu's belief that is was very possible that Mas Amedda was the Sith Lord who was manipulating the senate. However, it was unwise to focus on just one. His eyes met those of Sly Moore, who remained impassive despite the uproar of the Senators.

"The Senator of Telerath, the Chancellor acknowledges you at this time," Mas Amedda shouted.

"His master? And who would this be?" The Telerath Senator questioned. "And why does it matter? The boy is still an accessory to the loss of several planets and the sufferings of their people as well as prolonging this war far longer than it should have been." He paused for a smattering of applauds. "So far, you have failed to explain why this criminal's capture was hidden from the Senate and the Republic that you serve. Nor why the prisoner has not been turned over to the Senate's custody to face justice! He belongs within the Republic Judiciary Center!"

"The planet of Malastare concurs with the Senator from Telerath. Criminals of war are to be turned over to the Senate as has been the case since the founding! We fear that the Jedi are merely trying to hide a mistake that they created. The prisoner was after all a former apprentice within their care."

Several others joined in as Adi tried to regain the floor. Yoda took this all in before he stepped forward. "Understand your concerns the Jedi do. Very dangerous, Obi-wan's Master is, and to prevent him from locating the boy, his capture a secret we kept. Reason to believe that the master is the one effecting the war, have we—a Sith Lord, possibly."

"A Sith? Are you speaking of Count Dooku, another former Jedi," The Senator from Malastare questioned.

"We believe that behind the Count there is another Sith pulling the strings," Adi answered.

"It seems convenient that there is always another one controlling the war, alleviating the burden that the Jedi hold for training Dooku and a very convenient excuse for the Jedi in regards to their inability to halt the Separatists." Others joined his sentiments in a loud roar, while others shouted against such allegations toward the Jedi. "And now, there is another one who has fallen through the Jedi's fingers, per say, only he is not at fault either; he has simply been misguided… controlled."

"Holds a full report on the boy's condition, Master Gallia does; Read over it prior to reaching a decision on the matter, we feel you should," Yoda continued unaffected by the Senator's accusations. "Regards to our actions, concerns us that reunited the boy will be, if released to the senate, he is. In the past, taken force sensitive prisoners that would otherwise be hard to contain, the Jedi have. Do so now, we do."

Master Gallia streamed the data to the various Senator's pods. Instant, discuss followed, while the Chancellor and his two advisors talk in hushed voices. "It is my belief," Chancellor Palpatine continued. "That we should take pause in delegations on this matter for a day and read over the information relayed to us by the Jedi. We will resume tomorrow afternoon given the importance of this matter, and by which time, we may assuage any of the Jedi's doubts."

"This could have gone better," Gallia said under her breath to Yoda as their pod returned to its place.

"Expected, this was… wants back his puppet, the Sith does." Yoda hobbled out of the pod, leaning heavily on his walking cane.

"Hence, why there will not even be a day's pause. It doesn't give much time for any opposing Senators to gather together." Gallia frowned as she came to stand next to Yoda. "The Chancellor's words… he is in favor of the turnover. Assuage our doubts. It seems little more than a hint to those in favor of the petition to formulate a plan to contain Kenobi that will appease us."

"Hmmmm…"

"Master?"

"Fear… much fear, I sense."

"From the Sith?"

Yoda's ears lowered further. "Seems Obi-wan's mind, he fears. Still exists, his essence does. Knows this, the Sith Lord does. Much arrogance. Thinks, he does… his identity, safe is."

"Not surprising… Kenobi's mind is a wreck. No memories…" They entered the hallway, where Yoda returned to his hover chair. "And the maze the Sith has created within promises continued long-term and short-term memory loss."

"His undoing his arrogance will be."

"Do you see something, Master?"

Yoda simply shook his head. "Meet with the others, we must. Allow Obi-wan to be given to the Senate, we cannot."

"Of course, Master."

SWSWSW

Dukke took the towel that was provided to him by Anakin. His hands clenched around the dry, soft cloth of it, rubbing it against his face and limbs before he wrapped it around his torso.

"Here," Anakin said before handing him a brown robe that fit better than the ones he was used to wearing, though it still hung loosely in places around his small frame. "We will catch you later," he then said to Bant and Garen.

"Of course," Bant replied. She came to stand behind Obi-wan and squeezed his shoulders. "We will be sure to visit frequently, Obi-wan."

"I'll come, at least, while I'm still here," Garen added.

Dukke did not respond, not sure what to say, though he thought perhaps he would enjoy further visits from the pair. They had been kind to him, and the camaraderie between them, which they had offered wordlessly to him, had put him at ease. Yet, he felt like he was stealing something valuable from them, replacing the image of the friend who they had known with what he was now. Dukke lowered his head, looking down at his feet. It was unfair to them.

"Obi, are you feeling well?" Bant asked.

"I'm just tired, I don't think I have had this much exercise in awhile… that I can remember."

"Of course, Anakin will take you back now. Though, if you continue to not feel well, you should go to the Healers' immediately."

"Don't worry, I will see to that," Anakin said quickly. "After all, I am my Master's-." Garen snorted. "I'm in charge; I'll take care of him. Is that better, Master Muln?"

"I don't know if it is better, but at least, it is believable."

The other two Jedi left as Anakin continued to glare at Garen's back. "Don't listen to him, Obi-wan. I'm very responsible, so you are in good hands."

Dukke frowned as he looked up at the padawan. Doubt must have been evident on his face, because Anakin was quick to list events in his life during which he had shown some level of responsibility, though he had to pause at time and change the events quickly after realizing that some of the situations he was listing had actually ended rather badly.

"There was the time on Omman when I could have snuck out of the consul where Master and I were staying to- um… do stuff, but I chose to remain. That was being very responsible, even though it would have been fun to… but I was underage… and a padawan."

"If you were placed in the same situation again, you would have gone," Obi-wan commented. "So you are more irresponsible now than-."

Anakin's face took on a dramatic stance of disappointment. "Garen has already corrupted you, I see. Though rather than seeing it as me being irresponsible, you can think of me as being the fun one. You see I wasn't raised in the Jedi Temple, so I still have an idea of what fun is, and even the Jedi Council is jealous of me because of this which is why they like to discipline me." Anakin paused. "You still aren't buying any of this, are you?"

"I know too much about you to believe it."

Anakin smiled somewhat to hear Garen's words echoed, but the pit of his stomach churned at them. "And what do you know about me?"

The recently reabsorbed memories from the crystal emerged. "You are called the 'Hero With No Fear' who has shown time and time again to be an effective leader, a talented warrior. No one rivals your connection to the Force, which is why the Jedi consider you to be the 'Chosen One.' And it is why he wants you, as well."

"The Sith?"

Dukke paused briefly to gather his thoughts. It had been him, he could recall the words—the speaker, however, had been erased, but even so, he answered with certainty. "Yes."

"What else do you remember?"

"Waking… he was there I think, I could feel him, but in the actual memories he is absent. I was surrounded by liquid and glass."

"I triggered that?" Anakin pressed. "When I bumped into you? It's the reason you panicked."

Obi-wan bowed his head as he followed Anakin down the hallway. "I must have continually been placing it in my crystals as a hidden memory. Why, I don't know. It is too disjointed and having lost the memories that were around it or the logic of why I saved it… it seems a pointless memory."

"Yet, you think you have been continually saving it," Anakin said slowly. "It sounds like you were in something like a bacta tank. So, that is a clue. Do you recall anything else? Even the smallest of details might lead to a break through."

"There was light… a white room."

"A medical facility, perhaps. Though that does not limit 'the where,' I suppose." Anakin noticed the withdrawn expression on his companion's face. "But it is a start. As Master says, 'We will take baby-steps.' And it is promising. It seems the longer your mind is given, the more it heals itself."

"It is not healing," Dukke whispered. "It is a result of the crystal that I created, nothing more. One could even say that I program myself just as much as my Master does… only my efforts become more disjointed as time passes with pieces being lost along with crystals, or memories not being placed on the next crystal."

"So out there, there are crystals with some of your memories on them?"

"It is highly likely… though it is more of an assumption on my part. My Master has used me to complete several tasks for him; it is highly likely that while on some of those missions, I have lost a lightsaber or two and with them some of the crystals I have used."

"Ah, Master Qui-gon never gave you that lecture, huh?" Anakin chuckled when one of Obi-wan's eyebrows lifted. "This lightsaber is your life; don't lose it! Though technically, mine were destroyed… all four times. The first one met an unfortunate end after falling from an airspeeder in the upper reaches of Coruscant at a rather fast speed. The second… well, that wasn't pretty. The third I lost on Geonosis—it got caught up with the machinery. The fourth bought it at the Battle of Kamino… all oceans that planet."

"I guess I might have missed that one, or lost the crystal it might have been on."

"Ah, and one more thing, while we're on it," Anakin said. "The Sith—he isn't your Master anymore, so stop calling him that. You're free now."

'Free?' Dukke could have almost laughed at such an idea. 'I am never free.' It would only be matter of time, but he felt it would not be so bad to indulge himself, even if it would vanish like the rest. After all, he could only go so far before returning to the beginning; it was a game that provided his Master much amusement, or so he could imagine.

"Did you hear me?"

"Of course."

"You're just humoring me, aren't you?"

"Yes."

"You'll see… soon, the Sith will be dead." Anakin nodded to a passing Master, who he remembered from his student years. "Almost back, I hope Qui-gon has started lunch; I'd hate to take you to the dining hall as I don't want to overload you, though nowadays it's quiet in there with everyone away." Anakin wondered what had pulled his Master away, though he assumed it had something to do with Obi-wan; there was no other possibility that would pull him away from his former apprentice to whom he had been like a shadow for the past two weeks. Anakin's forehead furrowed. He was shocked that his Master had not returned by now. 'It doesn't bode well.'

His feet knowingly turned a corner, approaching the door to the quarters he shared with his Master. Using the Force, he opened the door before waving Obi-wan in first before following. His Master sat on the sofa, pouring over a pile of datapads, while seeming to take notes on a separate one. Disappointment hit Anakin when he realized there was no lunch waiting or even started. His Master's face jerked upward as they entered.

"Good, you two are here," he said, his gaze lingering on Obi-wan as if to ascertain improvements, but the youth remained blank. Anakin also noticed this change and wonder why Obi-wan had suddenly reverted to his emotionless state. Anakin was grateful that his Master had not seen him moments earlier as such knowledge would only hurt him.

"Is everything alright, Master? You seem disturbed by something."

"The Senate has discovered that we are holding Obi-wan; I've been conducting research on previous cases within which Jedi have maintained custody of Force-sensitive prisoners before meeting with the Council-. Sith's spit… I'm running late it would seem. We will be formulating a plan." He paused as he came to stand in front of Obi-wan, placing his hands on his shoulders. "I promise you that we will not allow you to be handed over. As much as I detest politicians, I fear we will have to depend on them to at least sway or outnumber those who support the petition. Anakin, I will need you to watch Obi-wan for a little longer. Be sure that he stays with you."

"Of course, Master. May the Force be with you."

"Thank-you, Ani. Your presence has been very helpful to me."

Anakin smiled as warmth sprang through the bond they shared, even as he hid the plans that were formulating in his mind from his Master. Qui-gon turned toward the door, and Anakin stood still as his Master rush out it. He waited several more minutes before he turned to Obi-wan. "Go ahead and change into something dry and grab another cloak. I know this place with really great food…"

"I doubt Master Jin would be pleased, if you removed me from the Temple." Dukke could not even believe the Jedi Padawan had suggested such an idea. "Neither would the Jedi Council."

"Remember I'm the fun one," Anakin said, pushing Obi-wan toward his temporary room. "Besides, Master said to keep you with me, and if I happen to leave the Temple, I guess I would have to take you with me. And there is a bonus. Master wants senators on his side, well, I just happen to know a prominent Senator. So, you see, it is really in our benefit as well as the Council's for us to meet with said-Senator."

"Loopholes."

"Exactly. So go get changed, and I will do the same."

After a few minutes, the pair found themselves maneuvering their way to the landing pad with their hoods pulled over their faces. It was not an unusual sight in the temple for Jedi to wear their hoods up, but Anakin knew that if they met the wrong Masters, their excursion would be short-lived. 'Master just might kill me this time.' He brushed his mind against that of his companion's gaining nothing of what he might be feeling now as walked along rows of airspeeders, and Anakin did not dare reach further in as he did not want triggered something within.

"Ah, this one will do nicely. It has the right color and capabilities." Anakin smiled. "Hop in!"

Dukke remained standing, gawking as Anakin swung into the cockpit. Apprehension washed over him as if to warn him that getting in the airspeeder would probably not be the wisest decision he could make. Anakin pat his hand on the back of the passenger seat, and Dukke finally climbed in only to have the back of his head collide with the top of the seat as Anakin pulled the airspeeder into reverse. Dukke was certain that the airspeeder was going at a pace forbidden in the landing deck area. Grabbing hold of the dashboard, Dukke prevented his head from receiving a further bashing as Anakin changed direction. 'I hate flying,' he thought. He felt as if his stomach was trying to exit through his throat. 'Why did I step into this airspeeder.'

"Alright there Obi-wan?"

Dukke just nodded his head as he tried not to look at his surroundings. A chill passed over his body, causing him to tremble. "Over- There! What's that!" He shouted over the wind that berated his face.

"The Works. Why?"

Unable to voice words, Dukke just shook his head, even though a sinking suspicion told him that he had been there before, but he could not be certain. Next, his eyes strayed to the Senate Building, he had seen it from the Temple, but now it was closer along with the assurance that his Master was near. Anakin turned their craft toward the Senate Apartment Complex before parking them along one of the landing docks. It took Dukke a while to realize that they had come to a stop and little bit longer for him to release his hold on his seat. Anakin, however, sprang from his seat rushing to greet a rapidly approaching woman. Dukke watched as they embraced; the woman confused him. 'How could anyone have three life presences?' Closing his eyes, he focused the Force into his eyes. There was her blue light and in her stomach two more gray blobs. She was pregnant with twins. This knowledge caused Dukke to clench his fists, and he regretted his intrusion for what he knew his Master also knew… he would be unable to hide it.

"Annie! What are you doing here? I thought you wouldn't be able to get away from the Temple with every-. Who is this, Knight Skywalker?" Padmé switched into what Anakin commonly referred to as her Senator mode.

"Padmé, I would like you to meet Obi-wan Kenobi."

Padmé's lips parted as she looked from Dukke to Anakin. "Are you sure this is safe? I've read the reports on him. If he is still controlled by the S-."

"Don't worry, Senator-."

"No, she is right," Dukke said, cutting Anakin off. "You should have never brought me here… what I know, he knows—I can hide nothing from him." Dukke caught Padmé lower her hand over her stomach as their eyes met. "I am sorry."

"But that will only happen, if he gets his hands on you again," Anakin said quickly. "Which brings me to the point at hand, and for that, I need your help Padmé."

The senator nodded and directed them into her apartment. "I'll have food brought up. Please, make yourselves comfortable."

Dukke sat on the sofa, while the senator and Anakin walked over to a comm station. The senator ordered various foods before she once again addressed Anakin. "What do you need for me to do, Annie?"

"I need you to lead the opposition to the petition, gather your allies… we cannot afford to let it pass, if it does, we will merely be handing Obi-wan back to his slaver. His mind will be wiped, and he will be back on the battlefield providing the Separatists an edge against us." Anakin swallowed. "You have seen his records; you should know that he belongs in Jedi care where he can be better cared for. I ask this of you not just because it will help my Master rest easier but also for me. This has become very personal to me."

Padmé grabbed her husband's hand and squeezed it. "Because he is where you were."

Anakin locked eyes with Dukke. "I had it somewhat easier. I at least was allowed to keep my identity."

Dukke turned away as the doorbell rang and concealed his face. Two of the Senator's handmaidens brought the food in and placed it on a table in the dining area before they left. Dukke paid little mind to what happened afterwards, simply eating what was placed on his plate. Senator Amidala talked of other Senators that she felt would rally in opposition.

"The Chancellor has a lot of sway, Anakin… and he seems to be in favor of the Senate taking over as Obi-wan's wardens."

"Why would the Chancellor—Don't worry, I will speak with him personally and clear up a few things, once Master Jinn can- haja. Sorry, Senator Amidala, but I fear we need to return to the Temple before our absence is noted."

"Of course, I would not want you to get in trouble with Master Jinn or the Council… again."

Anakin frowned sensing something from his wife—her desire for him to wait. "Obi-wan, go ahead and get in the airspeeder. I will be out shortly." After he had left, Anakin turned to Padmé, wrapping his arms around her. "Is there something wrong, Angel?"

Padmé rested her head against his chest. "I'm pregnant, Annie."

His eyes widened, while his mouth opened and closed. "I am sorry." The words reentered his mind as he shifted his head to where the airspeeder waited. 'He knows.' His fists tightened as he looked back at Padmé. "I will protect you and our child no matter what, Padmé." He kissed her forehead. "Believe me that that monster will never come near either of you, I promise you." With that, he released his hold of her and disappeared onto the land dock. She heard the airspeeder take off shortly afterward.

Padmé merely stood, her eyes closing as an eerie sensation passed over her. A strange taste was in her mouth.

SWSWSW

Author's Note: I'm going to make a push to finish this piece. I won't promise an update every week, though an update every other week just might be my goal. I need to rework the outline a bit, as I combined this chapter with another and changed up events a bit, but the next chapter should be Chapter Eight: War Waits for No One. Thank-you for your patience and support, and once again, I apologize for such a long gap.