The drug took little time to take effect; its purpose was a sinister, yet necessary, evil.
Padmé felt her body growing numb to the poison. Soon she would be unable to even feel the pains of birth. It was the one side effect that she was grateful to experience.
She knew it would not be long before she would enter a state of hibernation. Unless one knew precisely what to look for there would be no evidence that would reveal her true condition. Even modern technology would not be able to pick up the evidence. For all intents and purposes, Padmé Amidala Naberrie would be considered dead and she could not have been happier for it.
Soon her children would be in good hands, and she would finally be free to embrace the birthright of her destiny.
A sharp pain pulled her from her euphoric thoughts and Padmé cried out. The sound of a baby's cry immediately followed. It was a boy.
"Luke," she breathed while struggling to maintain her focus. It was not long before the labour pains returned. It ensured that her attentions would not be diverted from her final task, and her greatest ruse.
Leia soon entered the world. Though Padmé wanted to close her eyes and rest, she could not bring herself to do it.
The sight of Obi-Wan's worn and weary expression reminded her that he had been through far more than anyone ever should ever experience. Padmé knew he did not deserve the fate bestowed on him. Fighting back the drugs that coursed through her veins Padmé broke the awkward silence.
"There is still good in him, Obi-Wan…I know there is still good left in him."
The former queen did not believe her own words. It did not matter, Obi-Wan was in desperate need of some hope and so she made it her duty to give him just that. She knew his friend Bail Organa would have said some similar if he could. However, Bail was not a man who spoke of such things freely, so she spoke the words for him.
Padmé closed her eyes as her thoughts began to clear. Her heartbeat began to slow and soon the rest of her major organs were following en suit. With one last sigh Padmé breathed her final breath and entered a state of hibernation.
The former queen did not emerge from this state until a few days after her very public funeral. By then all of her plans had been set in motion and with it the birth of the Empire's greatest threat.
In her dreams Bail was there. Dark eyes sparkling with life, filled with wisdom and the hints of mischief. The sight of her dearest friend and love brought a smile to her lips. He smiled back causing her cheeks to warm in bashful acceptance. It soon faded.
"How long do you plan to keep them waiting?" Padmé furrowed her brow in curiosity. The meaning of his words left her uncertain and confused. "Who is waiting?" He never answered her question. As soon as he spoke Bail was gone, leaving in his place a reflection of herself. The doppelganger wore the ancient garbs of an age old Naboo queen. "They are calling you, your majesty." It was not Padmé at all, rather her second-in-command and former decoy Sabé. "Whose calling? The people of Naboo?" Padmé tried again. The decoy said nothing. Instead she silently turned away her face transforming to reveal another handmaiden-her latest decoy-Dormé. "No, your victims."
Padmé furrowed her brow in curiosity. The meaning of his words left her uncertain and confused.
"Who is waiting?"
He never answered her question. As soon as he spoke Bail was gone, leaving in his place a reflection of herself. The doppelganger wore the ancient garbs of an age old Naboo queen.
"They are calling you, your majesty."
It was not Padmé at all, rather her second-in-command and former decoy Sabé.
"Whose calling? The people of Naboo?" Padmé tried again. The decoy said nothing. Instead she silently turned away her face transforming to reveal another handmaiden-her latest decoy-Dormé.
"No, your victims."
Padmé's eyes snapped open as her lungs drew in a sharp gasp. She sat up quickly and immediately regretted it. Her head pounded viciously warning her that this was no dream.
"Padmé, can you hear me?"
It felt as though too much time had passed as though she were out of focus and unable to connect. Immediately she tried to recall the events of before so as to situate herself. However the harder Padmé struggled, the worst the headache became.
Taking a moment to register her surroundings she soon discovered that she was no where familiar. The former queen had no idea where she was or even how she got here. It was unnerving.
"Where am I?" she hoarsely whispered feeling as though her tongue was made of sandpaper.
"We're still on Naboo."
Padmé recognized the voice and slowly turned her head to catch sight of Sabé who now placed a cool cloth against her throbbing brow.
"The funeral procession was a success. There were no sightings of Skywalker," Saché interjected. Padmé nodded uncertain if this was a good sign or one more reason to be concerned.
"Good. So long as he believes his angel is gone, I will be free to do my work," Padmé stated in soft but firm tones. Neither handmaiden missed her undertones of cynicism. It was then that her memories began to return. With it came another fear.
"What of the children?" she asked quickly. Sabé bowed and gave a soft smile. Her expression said more than words ever could.
"They are in good hands milady."
Padmé sighed and gave another weak nod; she tried to ignore her pounding head. It was one less thing she had to worry about.
As her memories began to return Padmé found it increasingly difficult to ignore the urgency of the moment. Unfortunately her body felt otherwise and upon attempting to get out of bed the room spun violently forcing the young woman to lie down once more.
"It will be a few days at least before you're back on your feet."
Unaware of the doctor's entrance, Padmé's eyes sought him out. The elder man-whom Padmé would later learn was Rabé's father- looked almost amused by her impatience. It did little to help her mood.
"I don't have a few days," Padmé insisted. "We must leave now. The Supreme Chancellor –Emperor," she corrected herself remembering the famous speech made that marked the Republic's demise.
"The Emperor is certain to tighten security. Now is our only chance to leave, while everything is still in chaos!"
Sabé glanced to Saché who silently folded her arms, both wore dark expressions.
"Padmé, you've been out of commission for over three days now. Security has already been established on most of the core worlds. Only the Outer Rim remains safe for travel," Saché said in polite, but concerned tones.
Padmé resisted the urge to curse. She had only awoken and already she was behind schedule. Bail used to always tease her about always running against time. He had a theory that she worked best when under pressure, and even better when the odds were stacked against her.
She was glad that he was not here now and hoped that he made the escape while he still had the chance.
"Saché, I trust you have made arrangements for our departure?" Padmé asked softly, before thanking Sabé who had brought her a glass of water. She never realized how thirsty she was until she felt the cool liquid pour down her parched throat. her expression stoic once more.
Saché gave a stiff nod in confirmation. Despite Padmé's absence, things were moving along nicely. A moment later Rabé was entering the room and Padmé gave her a polite nod in greeting.
"Everything is ready as you have asked milady," Rabé stated before adding, "all that remains now is for you to give the go ahead."
The doctor silently began to examine Padmé's levels ensuring that she was recovering without complications.
"Despite the doctor's orders, how much time do we realistically have? Padmé asked meeting Sabé's watchful gaze.
"The Emperor will be arriving in Fifty two standard hours. Our contacts says that he will be overseeing the establishment of Naboo's new leadership," Sabé answered.
"Indeed. I will be ready then.
"In the meantime please let our contacts know that Operation: Resurrection has begun," Padmé murmured softly.
She tried not to wince as the doctor gingerly touched her temples, but her motions were swiftly noticed. Sabé moved to intercede so as to dab her brow with a cold cloth, but the former queen shook her head.
"You are all dismissed," she whispered, finding that it hurt even to speak now. She needed rest and her handmaidens were swift to respect her orders. Only Sabé paused to give the former queen a compassionate look before departing.
The doctor continued to monitor her condition as Padmé closed her eyes and drifted off into a light sleep. A hint of a smile crept into her features as dreams for the first time in so long looked to the future. She had nothing now; no power, no titles, no money and no family to speak of. Yet for the first time in her entire life she was free.
It was the end of many things, for Padmé it was only the beginning.