Disclaimer: I don't own Star Wars.
AN: Here's the first story in the Forever Destined Vignette series. This one will probably be around 3 chapters long, but possibly a little longer. I am unsure of the length yet, but I doubt it will go over five. This is only the first in what I promise will be a long series of vignettes. So sit back and enjoy, as we re-enter the storyline of Forever Destined with this brand new addition that begins one year after the end of Forever Destined.
Imperial Underground: A Forever Destined Vignette
The planet of Coruscant was known as the planet that never slept. Day and night, speeders, vehicles, transports, and ships of all kinds, filled with all different species of people bustled about through air traffic on the giant planet-sized metropolis. Buildings and skyscrapers reached into the clouds as far as the eye could see. Standing in the distance proudly like a beacon of truth stood the Jedi Temple, the home of the galaxy's protectors. The Jedi used their special abilities to keep the peace, stop criminals, and to fight evil. Standing adjacent to the grand Temple was another massive structure of prominence. The Senate Rotunda. This was the place that the galaxy's representatives met to make laws, propose legislation, and ultimately serve the people, making the decisions that were reflective of what was best for the citizens of the galaxy. Near the Senate Rotunda was a massive skyscraper that reached high into the clouds. This place was as infamous as the Senate Rotunda and the Jedi Temple, for it was the place various senate constituents resided. But that was not the reason for Republica 500's infamy. It was the very place where the galaxy's hero resided with his family. Anakin Skywalker, the Hero With no Fear, Jedi Golden Boy, Slayer of the Sith, and bearer of several other titles deemed upon him, lived there with his alluring, beautiful wife, the esteemed Senator Padme Skywalker and their three young children. The galaxy was fascinated by this couple and the Holonet Hounds or reporters were usually eager to follow them everywhere they could...whether they liked it or not. However, they usually kept a comfortable distance from the Senator and the children, for it was well known that Jedi Master Anakin Skywalker was fiercely protective of his family...and with good reason. While most adored him and any woman with a pulse pined after him; Anakin Skywalker had many enemies that wished to bring him down in any way possible. He was the number one enemy to those who wished to commit crimes and follow a path of evil. Most wouldn't even dare to try anything with him, but there would always be a few that would be devious enough to plot against the hero. Therefore, security around the Skywalker family was extremely tight. Still, those that adored him and lived to catch just a glimpse of him and his family were usually found trying to get as close to them as they in could in public, or as close to Republica 500 air space as possible.
As the morning sun began to rise over the horizon, the slight lull in busy traffic ceased and was increased, as citizens bustled to and from in the routine of their daily lives. The expansive penthouse apartment, belonging to the Skywalker family, still remained silent, as the sunlight peeked through Padme's lovely royal blue curtains that she had recently replaced the old with. As a ray of sunlight caught the beautiful Senator's eye, she rolled away and cuddled closer to her husband, resting atop his bare, muscled chest, as his arm instinctively tightened around her waist. Love permeated the air around them, as it always did. Anakin and Padme Skywalker were inseparable and so in love, it was practically nauseating to some. They shared a connection that no one but them could truly understand. It was an unbreakable bond of complete love and devotion to each other. There wasn't anything they would not do for each other; even walk through the fire and brimstone of Sith Hell to be together...and they had done so. Even now, as they lay in each other's arms, they could sense that their slumber had been ended and awareness was slowly coming to them. Padme's amber specked brown eyes fluttered open to meet her husband's own sapphire gems.
"Good morning, handsome Jedi," she cooed.
"It's always a good morning when I wake up in your arms, angel," he responded. She lifted her head and their lips met in a tender kiss. Even at this early hour, their love flowed strong and deeply. Anakin rolled his petite wife onto her back, as he settled over her, kissing her passionately. She hummed pleasurably, as his lips moved to her neck, tasting her sweet skin.
"Mmm.." Padme moaned, as she dropped her head to the side, allowing her husband full access to her slender neck.
"What a way to wake up," she mumbled, as his lips traveled up and down her neck, nipping and lapping at the flesh.
"Oh...as much as I never ever want you to stop, you and I both know that the kids will be up soon. We should go clean up," she mentioned, as she ran her fingers through his sun streaked hair.
"You're right," he answered, as he stood up and she squealed lightly, as he tossed her petite body over his shoulder.
"Ani..." she protested. He chuckled and shifted her upright, now holding her bridal style.
"I thought you might like some help in the shower, star nymph," he whispered, his breath tickling her lips.
"And I most certainly welcome your help, sexy Jedi," she whispered back, as their lips met in a passionate kiss, as he slowly carried her into the fresher.
Anakin walked into the nursery, where their eleven-month-old baby girl was fussing. Padme was still getting ready and he was glad to take their youngest for a while. Little Kimberly Skywalker stood in her crib, holding onto the bars. She had almost a full head of soft, caramel hair and her mother's mesmerizing brown eyes. She was a beautiful baby.
"Dad...dy..." she whimpered, as Anakin lifted her into his arms.
"Good morning, baby girl," he cooed to her, as he put a teething ring in her tiny little hand. She knew what to do and it flew into her mouth. Anakin changed her diaper and then carried her out into the living area. He smiled, as he saw his pajama clad three-year-olds playing with their toys.
"Morning daddy," Leia said sweetly.
"Morning princess," he replied.
"Hi dad!" Luke shouted energetically, as he pretended to fly his speeders around.
"Morning buddy," he said.
"Oh, good morning Master Ani. I've already started breakfast and it should be ready soon," Threepio said.
"Thanks Threepio," he replied.
"Master Ani, would you like me to warm the baby's food?" Threepio asked.
"That would be great Threepio," he replied. The golden droid happily trotted back into the kitchen.
"Come on, tiny angel. Let's get you something to eat besides this teething ring," he said, as he carried her to the kitchen. Luke and Leia scampered after him and they convened around the kitchen table. Luke and Leia began to eat, as Anakin fed Kimberly, while taking bites of his own breakfast where he could. Luke munched on his breakfast and then opened his mouth to show Leia his half chewed food.
"Eww...daddy, Luke's being gross!" Leia exclaimed.
"Luke...chew with your mouth close. Don't let your mother catch you using bad table manners," Anakin scolded lightly, with a slight smirk. Leia raised her chin and looked at her twin with an air of superiority.
"Leia, finish eating," Anakin prodded. Leia turned back to her plate and resumed eating, just as Padme walked in wearing a deep blue Senatorial gown, with her hair up in buns on either side of her head.
"Morning mommy. Lukie was chewing with his mouth open again and showing it to me," Leia said.
"Tattle tale," Luke retorted.
"All right you two, that's enough. If you're finished eating, I want you to go wash up and get dressed. Threepio will help you," she said, as the twins hopped down. She kissed each of them on the cheek, as they scampered off.
"Threepio, make sure they brush their teeth," Padme requested.
"Yes Miss Padme," he replied. Anakin put some food on his wife's place, as she leaned down and kissed Kimberly's head.
"Mama..." Kimberly babbled.
"Good morning baby," Padme said, as she sat down next to her husband. As she ate, she idly read through the Holonews on her datapad.
"Anything interesting on there?" he asked, as he speared a piece of Shuura fruit with his fork and popped it into his mouth. She pushed it away with a bored expression.
"No, same old same old. I do wish the gossip columns would find something else to talk about other than us. Their obsession borders on ridiculous," she said. He shrugged.
"They're mostly harmless," he replied.
"They have regular discussions about what they think our love life is like. Not to mention they discuss you a little more than I think is necessary also," she said. He smirked and ate another piece of fruit.
"Jealous?" he asked. She huffed.
"Hardly. Why would I be jealous that every single woman in the galaxy practically drools over you. You are mine after all," she crossed her arms over her chest.
"You're right angel, therefore, you shouldn't let what they talk about bother you," he replied.
"They actually were discussing in this morning's article whether or not you wear boxers or briefs!" she exclaimed.
"Well, they can speculate all they want...but you're the only woman that will ever know the answer to that," he whispered seductively to her, as he scooted closer to her.
"I can't believe that this doesn't bother you more. They discuss you like you're a piece of rare Shaak steak. They even speculate about certain things they have no business ever knowing about you," she pouted.
"Like what?" he asked.
"Never mind," she replied.
"You know you want to tell me. Besides, what they say about me doesn't bother me. They're harmless, the lot of them. It's the degenerate men that I see on a daily basis watching you like some sort of prey. Do you realize how much self control I have to exert not to pummel every man who looks at you, because I can sense their impure thoughts?" he asked.
"And how is this not a double standard?" she questioned.
"Because those chatty gossip columns are harmless. Half the men you work around on a daily basis are not...and you know it," he replied.
"Maybe...but if you think that the women I work with are harmless as well, then you are being naive, my love," she said.
"Point taken," he replied.
"So...what did they say about me?" he asked again. She crossed her arms over her chest.
"It doesn't matter. Like you said, I'm the only woman that will ever know how you rate as a lover and how, um, well equipped you are," she couldn't finish the sentence without blushing. She smirked.
"They were actually discussing that?" he laughed.
"It's not funny. They have a lot of nerve, you know. You are a happily married man and I daresay a very satisfied one," she said, as she tugged him by his shirt collar.
"You're right, I am all those things. Therefore, you have no reason to be jealous, my star nymph," he whispered to her.
"Prove it," she replied. He smirked and tilted his head, bringing their lips together in a kiss so hot that she was surprised the smoke alarms did not sound. Their tender, passionate moment was quickly interrupted by their baby girl, as she pounded on her tray with her palms. Anakin and Padme looked to her tiny, pouting face.
"Sorry baby, mommy and daddy didn't mean to ignore you," Padme said, as she grabbed a wet washcloth and wiped her face and hands off. Anakin lifted her up and joined hands with his wife, as they carried their baby to her room to change her and dress her for the day.
About thirty minutes later, the Skywalker family was ready to leave home for the day. Padme kissed each of her children goodbye and then gave her husband a long kiss on the lips.
"See you tonight," she said, as she got into the speeder. Captain Typho and Dorme were in the front and it slowly sped away for the Senate building. Anakin put Kimberly in her baby seat in the back of their family speeder and the twins began fighting each other over the front seat. Anakin sighed.
"All right, that's enough you two. Leia, you can ride in the front this morning," Anakin said. Leia glanced triumphantly at her brother.
"But daddy!" Luke protested, but Anakin raised his hand to halt his son's coming tirade.
"And you can ride in the front on the way home tonight," he told him. Luke seemed to accept that and climbed in back with his baby sister, who smiled and giggled at him.
Leia climbed in the front with her father and they both fastened their harnesses, as Anakin turned the engine over and started off for his grandparent's penthouse to drop little Kimberly off, before the rest of them would head for the Temple.
Anakin parked the speeder on his grandparent's veranda and hopped out. The twins scampered inside, as he lifted Kimberly out of her seat. He chuckled, as he arrived inside, seeing that the twins were already being showered with attention by their grandparents and great grandparents.
"Good morning sweetheart," Elana said, as she kissed her grandson's cheek.
"Morning grandmother," he said.
"And good morning to you, little dolly. Come see great grandma," Elana cooed, as Anakin handed the baby to her. Anakin saw his father motion him over to the table and followed, sitting down next to his brother. Luke and Leia had scampered off to play with Ryoo and Pooja until it was time to go.
"Morning," Anakin greeted his father, brother, and grandfather, as his mother sat down a cup of caf from him.
"Thanks mom," he said.
"What time is the first Council meeting?" Anakin asked, as he munched on some of his mother's homemade bread.
"Actually, we'll be sending you and Obi-Wan to the lower levels this morning," Dooku said. Anakin took a sip of his caf and looked to Obi-Wan for a moment.
"What's going on?" he asked.
"Jedi Knight Olana Chion and Knight Sha'a Gi have been missing for three days. They were last known to be on their patrols," Qui-Gon said.
"You expect foul play?" Anakin asked.
"We can think of no other reason why they have not returned or checked in. Olana is accomplished enough, but we all know that Sha'a lacks a certain confidence," Qui-Gon said. Anakin snorted.
"That's putting it lightly. Sha'a is a coward and scared of his own shadow," Anakin said. Obi-Wan gave him a withering look.
"Well he is. Force, you could chase him to the ends of the galaxy with one of Luke's toy blasters," Anakin said.
"Be that as it may, we still must find them. We all know that the Jedi Order has many enemies out there. We knew the time would come when an attack against our own would be imminent again. You both must be very careful," Qui-Gon instructed them.
"Surely this isn't a plot to get to me? I mean, if it were, why would they kidnap Sha'a and Olana? Neither of them like me," Anakin said.
"We should assume for now that they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whoever did take them, may have wanted to abduct a couple Jedi that are closer to you, but perhaps the opportunity did not present itself. Or perhaps..." Dooku trailed off.
"Perhaps what?" Obi-Wan asked.
"You both must prepare yourselves for the fact that you may not find them alive," Dooku told them grimly. They nodded.
"We'll take the children to the Temple with us. You two should get going," Dooku said. They rose and nodded.
"Ani," Qui-Gon said, as his youngest son turned to him.
"I'll send Aayla and Kit to the Senate building to keep a close watch on Padme's security...just in case," Qui-Gon said. Anakin nodded in relief.
"Thanks dad," he replied, as kissed his children goodbye. Obi-Wan bid goodbye to Sola with a soft kiss and kisses to his daughter's cheeks, before they took the lift to the garage below. They both hopped into Anakin's yellow, open cockpit speeder. Anakin backed out of the garage and then went speeding into the lanes of traffic, quickly making his way to the lower levels...
Padme sat in her pod in session, looking rather bored. Senator Malachai of Bespin droned on about the need for funding of some ill-fated tourist trap.
'More casinos and scum infested cantinas is just what Coruscant needs more of,' she thought to herself, waiting for the chance to debate. She loathed Machius Malachai more than most. He was tall, with dark hair and a pair of piercing green eyes. He was what you could call fairly handsome she supposed and had a distinguished air about him. He was also an arrogant bastard that considered himself the Force's gift to all women. In short, he was the definition of a corrupt politician. She noticed Aayla and Kit up on the balcony overlooking the Rotunda. Usually, they were not assigned to Senate security detail, being members of the Council and all. She knew this meant Anakin was likely out on the trail of some criminal or organization, for it wasn't unusual for grandfather to increase her security. It usually meant nothing and were usually just routine precautionary measures, because they could never be too careful. She didn't protest the increased security, because she knew how many enemies her husband had and how they would love to kidnap her or one of their children to use against him. Senator Malachai finished his little spiel and Padme pressed her comm, signaling her request to speak.
"The chair recognizes Senator Padme Skywalker of Naboo," the Chancellor's chair speaker, Darin Dalryn, a young Alderaanian man spoke.
"The debate is open. Senator Skywalker, you have the floor," Bail said.
"Thank you, Chancellor Organa. Senators, Galactic City is not in need of yet another casino/hotel resort," Padme began.
"Tell that to the tourists," Malachai refuted.
"Senator Malachai, I believe we can find better uses for our funding than constructing another tourist trap," she responded.
"I beg your pardon, Senator, but those tourist traps rake in billions of credits annually. They create more funding," Machius argued.
"Let it be known that my planet's casinos donate millions to charity every year," Malachai said smugly.
"So you claim, Senator. But I still believe our funding should be used for the people directly. We need to use this funding to create jobs for the poor that have none, thus reducing poverty levels. There are also thousands of under funded orphanages that need credits to feed and care for orphaned children. And we need more shelters, not only for the homeless, but for battered women. Abused women need a safe place to go and the shelters need the means to seek help for them," Padme said. The call for construction of more women's shelters was something very close to her heart. Before Anakin, she had been one of those battered women, running from an abusive relationship. Sola had been one too. And she knew that most women did not get as lucky as she and her sister had. Senator Malachai didn't bother disguising the snort of indifference.
"Those are all worthy causes," Senator Amidala.
"Skywalker," she interrupted him.
"Yes, of course. As I was saying, those are all worthy causes, in which, I promise my resorts will make sizeable donations to on an annual basis. And I'll make sure your little shelters get built with a percentage of the profits from the new resort," he said, in a patronizing manner. Padme fumed.
"The chair recognizes Senator Bel Iblis of Corellia," Darin said.
"I must agree with Senator Skywalker. We must ask ourselves if we really need another lavish resort that only the wealthy and upper class can afford," Bel said.
"Senator Iblis, it is a well known fact that you enjoy a good game of Saabac on a regular basis," Malachai responded.
"True, I do, Senator. But you won't catch me in one of your over priced, crooked resorts. Please Chancellor, we have much more pressing issues that warrant discussion," Bel said.
"I agree, Senator Iblis. Discussion is closed on this matter. We will vote now to decide the fate," Bail said. It was silent, as votes were transmitted to Darin and automatically counted by his database.
"The votes for construction of a Cloud City style resort here in Galactic City are in. Forty three thousand, four hundred and fifty two in favor, Sixty-seven thousand, three hundred and twenty two not in favor. Motion for the new Galactic City resort is defeated. Onto the next motion," Darin announced. Padme allowed herself a small smile, as she could feel Machius glaring at her. He had adamantly disliked her ever since she had turned down his advances a few years ago. After debating and helping to defeat another useless motion that would not benefit the people at all, Chancellor Organa dismissed the session for the day, and she docked her pod, before walking to her office. She sat her things down on her desk and sat down to go over a few items. It was only two o'clock and for once, she wasn't overwhelmed with busy work. She decided she would finish a few forms and then leave for the day. She was looking forward to spending the rest of the afternoon with her baby girl and decided she would call Zia to arrange a play date this afternoon. She and Zia had become great friends and little Kimberly and Mara loved playing together. Her intercom chimed and she answered it.
"Yes Ellie?" she answered.
"Milady, Senator Malachai is requesting an audience with you," Ellie said.
"Tell the Senator to schedule an appointment," Padme replied.
"He is insisting that he speak to you now," Ellie answered. Padme suppressed a growl. Ellie was a sweet girl and Padme loved her dearly, but she had no backbone. Motee would have told the Senator to go to Sith hell. She missed her old friend, whom had been murdered by Palo the night he attacked her.
"Rest in peace, Motee," she mumbled.
"Send him in Ellie," Padme said shortly, as she rose from her seat.
"Senator Malachai, what can I do for you?" Padme asked, as he entered and she motioned him to sit. He refused.
"You can explain to me why you have repeatedly sabotaged my motions, Senator," he said crossly. Padme sat back down.
"Your motions seek to benefit only the wealthy," Padme retorted.
"My resorts create thousands of jobs for the middle to lower class, Senator and you know it," he said.
"Your resorts rob people of their hard earned credits. And your gentlemen's clubs and cantinas exploit young women, who are led to believe that their only option to make an income is by using their bodies," Padme responded.
"Oh please, save your self righteous talk. Those girls make good money doing what they do and they enjoy it," he said.
"So you say. However, I could never consciously support such a thing when there are so many other worthy places to spend our credits," Padme replied, as she stood.
"Good day, Senator Malachai," she said.
"Senator...I only ask that you hear me out. If you would, then you would see all the benefits this would create. Tourism is a multi-billion credit industry that ultimately gives back to the galaxy. Perhaps...you'll join me for a drink to discuss my cause," he leered, as he touched her arm.
"I wouldn't share a drink with or anything else for that matter, even if my life depended upon it. I am a happily married woman and you would do well to remember that. I suggest you leave before I am forced to call my security; who by the way, reports directly to my husband," Padme said. He withdrew his hand, more quickly than he would have liked and backed toward the door.
"Good day Senator Skywalker," he fumed, as he left.
"Ugh...what a creep," Padme said, as she closed things up for the day and left. Captain Typho proceeded to drive her to Dooku's penthouse...
The Works. It had been Palpatine's ingenious hideaway, constructed underground and below an abandoned warehouse in the slums. Only those extremely close to him knew of its existence. Palpatine's most loyal would carry out their Master's instructions, even though he was now dead. Sate Pestage was to be named Grand Vizier upon the rise of the Empire. But instead of enjoying a lavish life that was promised to him by his Emperor, he was lying low in hiding, in the slums no less. But he would do his Master's bidding, by obeying Palpatine's successor, his new Master, who also remained in hiding. Only Sate and a few others knew of this person's identity, but served them without question. It was his assignment to copy all files from Palpatine's databases in The Works, specifically his deceased Master's ultimate plans. Then, once the information was safely copied and stored, the databases were to be destroyed. They risked that the Jedi might find The Works, otherwise. In fact, his associate had discovered two Jedi, poking around the slums, a little too close to The Works for his taste. It seemed though, that the two were half wits, especially the male, but he didn't want to take any chances. They would finish today and then leave Coruscant for a safe haven on Cato Neimodia. His associate would kill the two fools first and then dump their bodies in the lake on their way off the planet.
Sha'a Gi jumped in fright, as their captor glared at them from outside their cell. She was a humanoid woman with long, dark hair and dark, cruel eyes. Her mouth seemed to be set in a permanent scowl and her lips were tainted with black lipstick. Her eyes were also rimmed in black makeup as well. She wore a black skin tight body suit and wielded a red light saber. They had heard the other people call her Lady Ziya. Olana had quickly concluded that she was a Sith assassin, working for Palpatine's still extensive, but now underground network.
"Sha'a, you must calm down," Olana scolded. Sha'a was a Jedi that sort of slipped through the cracks so to speak. His Master, Daakman Barrek, felt sorry for him and believed he could train him to be less fearful and more trusting in the Force. But when Barrek was killed by Grievous during the Clone Wars, this made Sha'a more jumpy and skittish. Sha'a was never deemed worthy of the trials, but after Barrek was killed, the Council was at a loss with what to do with the padawan. He was never officially Knighted, but relieved of his padawan braid. He was usually give mundane assignments around Coruscant, such as the routine patrol he had been performing with Olana. But it was his wrong turn that had got them lost and somehow they had ended up in the dangerous slums of Coruscant.
"Calm down? They're going to kill us," Sha'a panicked.
"We do not know that yet. We have been missing for several days. They are surely looking for us," Olana replied.
"Looking for you maybe. They'd rather I just disappear," Sha'a said bitterly.
"Do not say things like that. We must stay calm and hope that we are found. There is something sinister going on here," she said.
"Great, with our luck, they'll send Golden Boy down here," Sha'a snorted.
"He's not my favorite either, but he is responsible for ridding us of the Sith," Olana said, reflecting on Anakin. Her dislike for him was unfounded, really. She had been found by Obi-Wan and his father Qui-Gon when she was just a girl. She had been quite impressed with Obi-Wan and had hoped he would consider taking her as his padawan when she was old enough. But once the time came, Obi-Wan opted to assist in Anakin's training instead. He was his baby brother, after all, but she resented the fact that Anakin had the opportunity to train with the Order's most powerful Jedi. She was not alone in her feelings, though most did revere and respect Anakin, especially after Palpatine's attempted takeover. The Sith Lord had defeated even Masters Yoda and Dooku. In the end, only Anakin had possessed the necessary power to defeat him. But she still thought he got far too much attention. Still, she did not care who came. She just hoped they did...and soon.
Anakin slowly drove the speeder through some of the dirtiest, poorest parts of Coruscant, as he and Obi-Wan delved deeply into the Force, trying to sense the presence of the missing Jedi.
"What in blazes were they doing down here in the first place?" Obi-Wan wondered.
"Dunno, but it's way off their patrol route. I sense something eerie though. I think we might be close to finding something," Anakin said.
"Eerie, how?" Obi-Wan asked.
"Elusive...dark..." Anakin answered.
"The Sith," Obi-Wan stated.
"Or those still working for Palpatine. I wouldn't have thought he'd operate down in these parts, but maybe that's why he did," Anakin said, as he came to halt in front of a rundown, abandoned warehouse.
"In there..." Anakin said.
"There?" Obi-Wan questioned, as he pointed at the dingy building.
"Whatever I'm sensing is coming from there," Anakin said, as he parked the speeder and they got out. He pressed the yellow button on the door and a black seal closed over the windshield and open cockpit. On the door panel, he set the alarm and locking code. If he didn't, there would be no speeder when they returned. Together, the two brothers strode purposefully into the rundown, dirty warehouse...