Disclaimer: I don't own Star Wars.
AN: Hello everyone and welcome to the next vignette in the Forever Destined series. This is the seventh vignette in the series and will prove to be full of twists and turns that you won't expect...or believe. That's all I will say for now, so I hope you are ready for one heck of an adventure. Sit back and enjoy, as we venture back into the AU world of Forever Destined.
Whispers of the Past: A Forever Destined Vignette
One year after the events in Disturbing Enigma
Rori...Naboo's Moon Prison Facility...
Ruwee Naberrie collapsed into a coughing fit, as he sat on the med table in the prison's med ward. The Healer was silent, as he looked over the patient's test results.
"Well, Mister Naberrie, it seems you have a severally advanced case of a disease known as lung asphyxiation. It is a condition, in which the pores in the lungs close and you can't get air. Eventually your lungs will collapse. I'm afraid the damage to the tissue is quite advanced and irreversible. Without a transplant, I give you six months to a year to live," the Healer reported. Ruwee was stunned by the news.
"Well, what do I do to get a transplant?" he asked. The Healer glanced at him pointedly.
"Let's be honest, Mr. Naberrie, you are here on a thirty-year sentence. They do not give transplants to convicted criminals, especially with a rap sheet like yours," the Healer said.
"So...you just handed me a death sentence and you're not going to do anything about it!" Ruwee roared, before collapsing into a horrible coughing fit.
"This is her fault," he wheezed, as he tried to catch his breath.
"She did this to me. That little tramp put me here. She did this to me!" Ruwee cried.
"While I'm supposed to remain neutral, I must say it is quite fitting in my personal opinion, after what you did and tried to do to her. She is the greatest leader our people have ever had. My suggestion to you, Mr. Naberrie, is to make amends if you can. Even if you were not in here and on the donor list, it is unlikely you would live to see a donor with you being in the most advanced stage of the disease. I am sorry. I don't like to give this kind of news to anyone, despite my personal or professional feelings on the matter. I suggest you take my advice and attempt to make peace," the Healer said, as he tapped on the door. Two guards entered and escorted Ruwee back to his cell. Ruwee sat down dejectedly in his tiny, cold cell. Anger burned inside him. He was in this position because of one person! His so-called daughter, the little tramp!
"You have a visitor," the guard said gruffly, as he let a man into the cell.
"Who the hell are you?" Ruwee spat, as the man in fine clothing entered.
"Xalazar De'reux, I'm sure you've heard of me," he said smoothly, as he lit a death stick and took a long drag.
"Can't say that I have," Ruwee said gruffly.
"Now put that out and get out of here," Ruwee spat, as he coughed.
"Oh yes, I'm sorry. You have a lung disease. Pity you aren't interested in hearing my proposal, which could get you that transplant," Xalazar said, as he approached the cell door. Ruwee coughed and put his hand up.
"Wait!" he choked. Xalazar smirked.
"I thought so," he replied.
"You can get me a transplant?" Ruwee asked.
"We both have a common interest. We want to see Padme Skywalker pay for all the trouble she's caused," Xalazar said.
"And just how do plan to make her pay with her Jedi husband hovering around her all the time?" Ruwee rasped.
"Leave those details to me. Once we have her, we'll see if she is a match and you'll have your healthy organs. Then, we'll be rid of her. The Chosen One will be devastated and then he will be taken out as well,"
"And what do I have to do for you?" Ruwee asked.
"You'll become an agent for the Imperial Underground. You'll go where we tell you and do what we tell you. You've proven that you can be a ruthless man and those are the kind of people that the IU look for," Xalazar explained.
"And if I refuse?" Ruwee asked.
"Then I leave you in here to rot and you die. If you agree to this deal and try to back out after the transplant, then you're a dead man. What will you choose? Loyalty to the Imperial Underground is the only path to life," Xalazar said.
"I would have to say that you have a new agent," Ruwee stated. Xalazar smirked.
"Excellent choice. Another agent will come to retrieve you soon," Xalazar said, as the guard let him out and he left. Ruwee smirked evilly, as he thought about his revenge.
"You'll pay yet for all the trouble you've caused me, daughter," he growled.
It was a beautiful, hot summer day and the Skywalker family did what they always did when on vacation at Varykino. They were down at the beach, playing in the lake. The Senate was in recess for a couple weeks and they had not missed the opportunity to take a family vacation. The Kenobi family had joined them, as did Jobal, Qui-Gon, and Shmi. Yan and Elana were on Serenno, attending to matters there and enjoying a respite together.
Padme and Sola laid on the beach, Padme in a white bikini, and Sola in a more modest, blue one piece, while their husbands and children played in the water. Padme smiled, as her wet, shirtless husband plopped down on the towel next to her.
"Having fun?" she asked, with a contagious smile.
"Loads," he replied, as they gazed out into the lake where their five children, all wearing life jackets, romped around in the shallow part. Anakin had put a couple buoys out in the water, where the drop off was, telling their children not to go out farther than that, even with life jackets. Their three youngest stayed close to the shore, while Luke and Leia got as close to the drop off as they could, without going past it. Obi-Wan was out in the water too, watching over them, along with Ryoo and Pooja. Padme sat up and smirked at him.
"Well, while you're here handsome, why don't you put more sun screen on my back," she said, tossing the bottle to him.
"With pleasure," he said, as he rubbed the lotion between his hands and began massaging it into her shoulders and back.
"Ohhh...that feels amazing," Padme said, as his hands kneaded her back in circles, as he continued to rub the lotion on her. She giggled, as he kissed the nape of her neck, gently blowing on her skin as he did so. She tilted her head back and their lips met in a passionate, deep kiss.
"Get a room," Sola said in a sarcastic tone, without looking up from her book. They broke the kiss and Padme shot her sister a playful glare.
"Maybe we will. Don't tempt me," she said, as she turned and wrapped her arms around her husband's neck, before pressing her lips to his again.
"Ewww...they're kissing again," nine-year-old Leia complained.
"Dad...come on," Luke whined. Anakin looked back at the twins and smiled.
"I'm coming guys. I was just taking a little...break," Anakin said wriggling his eyebrows playfully at his wife. She giggled and stood up with him, as they walked toward the shore. She watched, as Anakin trudged back into the water with the twins and Jenna in his arms. Kimberly waded beside him, her little hand in his. She sat in the surf, letting it wash around her, watching as Jayden went about building a sand castle.
"Mommy...can you help me? The sand keeps falling apart," Jayden complained. Padme smiled at her little boy and sat down next to him.
"You have dig for the wet sand, baby," she said, as she took his bucket and scooped up some very damp sand, starting to pack it in. Jayden helped by using sand toys to shovel more sand into the bucket. When they finished packing the sand, Padme carefully turned it over and pulled the bucket off, revealing their perfectly shaped tower.
"There. Let's make a few more and then we'll have a castle fit for a handsome little prince," Padme told him.
"Mommy...did you used to live in a castle?" Jayden asked.
"I did. I used to live in the palace in Theed. Who told you that?" she asked.
"Daddy. He said you were a Queen. Were you a real Queen?" he asked. She smiled and ruffled his hair.
"Yes, I was once a Queen, for about six years. Then, I became Senator," Padme replied.
"Did you like being Queen?" he asked.
"Sometimes, but I what I liked the most about being Queen was helping my people," Padme replied.
"Mommy..." Jayden began, then paused. Padme could tell something was bothering him. Ever since the incident with Sate Pestage, he had become more and more empathic.
"What is it sweetie? You know you can ask Mommy anything," she said.
"Why did your daddy try to hurt you?" Jayden asked. Padme was stunned. How did he know about Ruwee? He had never seen him and even Luke and Leia were too young the last time they saw him to remember, which she was grateful for.
"How...how do you know about him, sweetheart?" she asked.
"I heard Grandma Jobal talking to Grandma Shmi one day. She was talking about how your daddy used to do bad things to you. She was really sad about it. Why would he hurt you, Mommy?" Jayden asked. Padme wasn't sure how to answer.
"I...don't know baby. And it's not important really. He went away, so he can't hurt me anymore and I don't want you to worry about him. He was a bad man and I don't know why bad people do what they do. But you just need to remember that you have a wonderful Daddy that would never hurt any of us, okay?" she asked. He nodded.
"And you have Grandpa Qui-Gon too. And he would never hurt us either," she promised him, as she hugged him tightly. Jayden scampered off to play with his siblings, satisfied with his mother's vague answer about her father for the moment. Anakin approached and sat down next to her, noticing the faraway look on her face.
"Looks like you two were busy," Anakin said. Padme smiled.
"Jayden wanted my help to make a castle," Padme replied.
"He asked you about being Queen, didn't he? Is that why you're upset?" Anakin asked gently.
"No...I'm not really upset either. He asked about me being Queen, but that's not what is bothering me. He...he asked about my...about...Ruwee. He asked why my father would want to hurt me. I...I don't have an answer to that for him, Ani," she said softly. Anakin took her in his arms.
"And you don't need one. Jayden is very..." Anakin struggled, trying to find the right word.
"Empathic," Padme said.
"Yes. I'm sure what you told him was sufficient," Anakin replied.
"I know and it was. I just don't want him to worry about things like that. He's only four," she said.
"Yes, unfortunately, he is far from a normal four-year-old. None of our kids are what you'd call normal, angel. They're special...and sometimes that's not always going to work in their favor. But...as long as we have each other, everything will turn out as it should," Anakin promised, as he brushed a strand of curls from her face, seeing the unshed tears in her eyes.
"I know..." she said softly, as the sunlight sparkled around them, as it was beginning to quickly lower toward the horizon. Anakin pressed his lips to hers tenderly, kissing her with all the love he held for her in his heart.
"It will be getting dark soon. We should go in," Padme said, breathlessly. He smiled and pecked her lips a few more times.
"Yeah, I'm sure mom is starting dinner. And I'm looking forward to cuddling with my beautiful wife in front of the fireplace all night," he replied. She smiled, as he helped her up. They rounded their five rambunctious children up and started back to the house, with Obi-Wan, Sola, and the girls following them.
The badly played music blared loudly in the Cantina, as several female human and Twi'leks strippers entertained their paying customers. Tatooine, especially Mos Eisley, had the seediest establishments. You could go into a place like this and never come out, if you weren't careful. But if you knew what you were doing, you could make some of your best business deals in a place like this. And that's exactly why Riley Zander liked places like this. He was a scoundrel, a smuggler, and even a bounty hunter, as he had taken to a few of those jobs in the last few years. Ever since Jango Fett had been killed on Geonosis, he had become kind of the go to guy when someone needed a job done. He had built quite the reputation for himself as one of the best. He stood about five foot nine inches tall, with a lean, muscular build. He was fairly handsome, in a rugged sort of way. He sported an eyepatch over his right eye, having lost it in a fight about ten years ago with Fett himself. He had never got along with the other bounty hunter, as they had always been in competition. He gave Fett a few scars of his own in that fight. He had shoulder length light brown hair, well kept, as he considered himself quite the ladies' man. He also had a well trimmed mustache and bearded chin, also well trimmed. He wore black pants, a form fitting black shirt with a black leather jacket over it. Strapped to his back was a scabbard with his signature weapon. A well crafted Corellian sword sized saber, made of the strongest metal known to the galaxy and able to withstand the heat of a light saber. And Zander was an excellent swordsman, thus the reason he had the reputation that he did. A confident and cocky smirk was present on his lips, as one often was. He approached the table where a stocky, tawny haired man sat, sipping at a large mug of ale.
"Good...you made it," the man said. Riley sat down and pulled a death stick from his jacket pocket.
"Light?" he asked. The other man produced his lighter and Zander lit the stick, taking a long drag on it.
"Bring me another ale and whatever my friend wants," the man said to the waitress.
"Corellian scotch on the rocks. Make it a double, doll," Riley said, winking at the pretty waitress.
"Dad has a job for you," the man said, wasting no time in getting to the point.
"Well, your daddy always pays the best. What's he need this time, Devan?" Riley asked. Devan De'reux smirked and looked around, before producing a holo.
"We want you to kidnap this woman, unharmed," Devan said, as he showed him the picture of a brunette beauty.
"Pretty. What's it pay?" Zander asked.
"Five million," Devan replied. Riley didn't hide his surprise.
"Five million for a kidnaping? Correct me if I'm wrong junior, but isn't that a little steep for just a kidnaping, even for your old man?" Riley asked.
"Normally yes, but she will not be easy. Don't you recognize her?" Devan asked.
"Come to think of it, she does look a little familiar," Riley replied, trying to place her.
"She is Senator Padme Skywalker...the wife of Jedi Master Anakin Skywalker, also known as...the Chosen One," Devan said.
"Is your old man going senile or something? I'm good junior...but I ain't that good. I have no interest in getting hacked by that Jedi," Zander replied.
"Look...they're on Naboo, her home planet, for vacation. All you would have to do is wait till she goes to Theed with her sister or something. When the hubby isn't around, then you can snatch her. Be prepared though...she won't be as easy to capture as you think. She's a feisty one," Devan said.
"What's daddy want her for?" Zander asked, studying the picture.
"Let's just say that she was bold enough to cross the De'reux family when she saw to my imprisonment a few years back. You know that we De'reux's always get our revenge. She's going to meet a particularly frightening end," Devan said vaguely.
"It's a shame. She's one hell of a doll, though a little young for me. But what do I do with her once I have her? That husband of hers will be on my trail in no time," Riley said.
"You'll bring her to us. Father has an estate on Calvera. It's in the southern hemisphere of the planet, about three hundred miles from Theed. I'll relay the coordinates to your tomorrow...that is, if you take the job. I could always find another man to give the five million to," Devan said. Zander gulped down his scotch.
"Fine junior, you got your man. One million in advance though, or no deal," Zander demanded.
"The credits will be wired tomorrow. And stop calling me junior," Devan said in disdain. Zander smirked and threw a few credits down for his drink.
"Pleasure doing business with you, kid. Say hi to daddy for me," Riley said, as he waltzed out of the Cantina.
Ruwee glanced up from his cot, as he heard his cell door creek open. It was the dead of night, well past midnight, and he sat up, hoping that they had come for him. He was surprised to see a beautiful woman there. Her long, flaxen blonde hair fell almost to her waist and she stared at Ruwee with a pair of cold, ice blue eyes.
"I'm Anya De'reux, Mr. Naberrie. My husband has persuaded the warden to cover up your release by paying him a great deal of credits. I do hope that once you receive your transplant, you will repay us and the IU by being a valuable and useful agent. When my husband does not get what he pays for out of a business deal...he terminates it," she warned.
"I assure you, I am a loyal man. You won't regret this," Ruwee said. Anya handed him a cloak to cover up with.
"I hope for your sake that we don't. Let's go," she hissed. Ruwee put the cloak on and covered his head with the cowl.
"Have you captured my daughter yet?" he asked.
"We have hired a man for the job. He is almost in place and will simply wait for the right opportunity," Anya informed him, as she led him to the exit. Once outside, he was shuttled into a ship and it took off from the small moon and sped toward the blue/green planet in the near distance.
Padme sat at her vanity the next morning, primping for her day out in Theed. She, Jobal, Shmi and Sola were going to Theed on a mother/daughter shopping venture. Since Leia was getting old enough, she was going along, as was Pooja; being that Ryoo couldn't be less interested in shopping. They were also meeting Sabe for lunch and Padme was excited about her day out with the girls. They were leaving the rest of the children home with the men. Shopping wasn't any fun for Luke or the younger ones. Around her neck, as always, she wore her grandmother's locket and her japor snippet. And around her wrist, she wore the charm bracelet Ani had given her during Winter Festival a couple years ago. Her dress was dark blue and flattered her trim figure, hugging her curves and accenting her beauty. The scoop neck collar, knee length skirt, and matching open toed slides made the outfit the perfect choice for a warm summery day. She heard the fresher door slide open and observed her husband coming out, a towel wrapped around his waist.
"Morning handsome," she smiled at him, as he rubbed a towel through his damp, shaggy curls.
"Morning angel. You look beautiful, but then you always do," he replied, as he kissed her softly.
"Thanks sweetheart. What are you and the boys going to do today?" she asked.
"Luke is begging to go out on the boat, so dad and I thought we'd just round up all the kids and Ben and go out on the boat for the day. Dad said he's going to ask mom to pack us lunch to take with us. Luke wants dad to teach him how to fish, even though Ben insists that any kid that came from my loins can't be quiet long enough to learn the art of fishing. Luke has a way about him though, so I can't wait till he catches a whopper and shoves it his uncle's face," Anakin said, with a sly grin. Padme giggled.
"Yes, Luke is quieter than our other children. I think he gets that from me," Padme teased him. He looked at her sharply, with a playful smile.
"Quiet? You? I beg to differ, angel. You're the most outspoken woman I know and that's a good thing," he replied. She smiled.
"I guess that's fair. Your mom is quiet, until someone she loves is threatened. Perhaps he gets it from her," Padme said.
"Perhaps. Speaking of outspoken, Leia's all ready to go and I think she has been since like six this morning. She keeps asking when you're going," Anakin said.
"She's excited. I told her we would go and pick out a few new dresses for her," Padme replied, as she watched him slide his pants on and buckle the belt. He slipped into a black, sleeveless shirt, ideal for the summer weather also, and Padme couldn't help but admire the way it accented his muscled arms and chest. She watched him clip his light saber to his belt and smiled, as he looked up at her.
"See something you like, milady?" he asked.
"Very much so," she replied, with a dreamy smile. He approached her, taking her in his arms gently, and kissing her tenderly.
"Have fun today. I'll miss you," he said. She smiled.
"I'll miss you too. But I fully plan on making up for today with some time alone with you tonight," she replied.
"That sounds perfect. I can't wait," he said, before kissing her passionately.
"Mommy...we're all ready to go! We're waiting on you!" Leia said, as she came through the door.
"I'll be there in a minute, sweetie," Padme promised. Leia rolled her eyes and walked out, just as Padme pressed her lips against her husband's again.
"See you tonight," Padme said softly, as they parted.
"Okay. Love you," he called.
"I love you too," she replied, as she started down the stairs. The men accompanied them down to the dock, as they boarded the ferry and set off for Theed.
"Now do we get to go on the boat?" Luke asked impatiently.
"Yep, we're all set. Let's go," Anakin said, as he lifted Jenna into his arms and took Kimberly's hand.
"Yay!" Luke cheered, as he started for the boat.
"Wait for me Luke!" Jayden called, as he started after his brother.
"Boys," Ryoo rolled her eyes, as she ran after them.
"Daddy, can we go fast in the boat?" Kimberly asked.
"Of course," Anakin smirked.
"Force help us all then," Obi-Wan joked.
"Better than when you drive. People fall asleep with you at the wheel, because they're moving so slowly," Anakin retorted.
"Well, at least I don't give everyone a stroke, because I have the need to drive like a maniac," Obi-Wan jabbed.
"Boring, uptight old man," Anakin retorted.
"Reckless, cocky brat," Obi-Wan shot back. Qui-Gon rolled his eyes. They were far worse than the children at times.
Riley had just received word from his employer that his target would be in Theed today, without the accompaniment of her Jedi husband. He knew an opportunity like this would not arise again and prepared to complete his mission. He looked at the holo of his target that he'd been given. He was no stranger to Naboo and had been there many times over the years. It was full of beautiful women and he had his share of one night stands on this planet, just like many others. He particularly enjoyed Naboo, however, and the young women in this holo bore a sort of a familiarity that he couldn't place. He chalked it up to the fact that he had a thing for brunettes. He knew the fate that awaited her at the hands of the De'reux family was gruesome at best, but the money was simply too good for him to let his conscience get in the way; not that he would admit that he even had one to begin with, because he didn't.
"Sorry sweetheart, but five million is just too good to turn down, even for a pretty face like yours," he said, as he tucked the holo away and prepared to complete his mission...