The pain is unbearable. I feel as if someone is viciously ripping my body to pieces. I hear a scream ring out and somehow I know it's my own. It rings painfully in my ears as I turn my head. I manage to look up. Obi-Wan is beside me; his face tense. I hear a baby cry out. The Medical droid's soft voice speaks; I close my eyes with a wave of pain.
I took a deep breath, words still struggling to come.
'It's a boy,' I thought, still unable to speak. I gathered precious air into my lungs.
"Luke," I breathed. Bittersweet happiness filled my heart when I saw him. "Oh Luke," I repeated as I reached to touch his face. Another wave of pain took hold; sharp and unforgiving. I screamed again, my eyes beginning to tear. The pain began to subside as quickly as it started and the droid spoke again.
Obi-Wan's voice narrated my thoughts. "It's a girl."
The rush of sad happiness filled my mind again. My breathing was harsh and rapid.
"Leia," I managed.
My eyes fluttered and I struggled to form words.
"Obi-Wan, there's good in him… I know… I know there's still…" I gasped, my head falling to the side. The bright birthing room began to fade and my ears began to ring.
"No! Anakin!" My breath caught in my throat.' How could he do this to me?' I tried to scream, but no sound came. My eyes blurred. My chest burned. A familiar voice rang out among my internal chaos.
"Let her go, Anakin!"
I felt my face begin to numb, the sulfur burning my eyes.
'I can't breathe…Anakin… please…' I gasped. My mouth formed the words, but barely any sound came. Only the searing wind of the planet and my desperate choking met my ears. Then blackness, nothing.
My eyes opened again. I looked around rapidly, trying to figure out where I was. I glanced down, my eyes fixating on someone on a hoverbed below me. The familiar yet foreign walls of Polis Massa surrounded her.
That's me!I started to panic, my chest tightening with every breath. Where am I? Why can I see myself?
Are the twins alright?Questions raced through my mind, faster than a skiff. I closed my eyes again, willing myself to calm down.
I must be dreaming,I thought, hallucinating… or dead.The latter wasn't very comforting. It seemed impossible, like a dramatic story on the HoloNews. I relaxed and focussed on waking up. Nothing happened.
I opened my eyes, trying to make the body below me do anything. Hoping by some strange miracle it would. Cold fear seeped into my chest, not being able to wake myself I began to panic. My recent memories rushed through my head.
"Padmé, I need your help. He's in grave danger."
I hear my voice, strained and worried, 'From the Sith?'
Terror ripped through me, the thought of Anakin dying unbearable. Obi-Wan started speaking again, his voice becoming soft and tender.
"From himself . . . Padmé, Anakin has turned to the dark side."
The fear and anger gripped at my throat, denial causing me to become disoriented. I shook my head. My voice sounded foreign as bile began to rise in my throat.
'You're wrong! How could you even say that?'
Obi-Wan turned away from me and paced forward. He sounded tormented.
"I have seen a security hologram of him," he paused. My palms began to sweat, my head began to tingle.
Shock made me reel. I attempted to regain my composure.
'Not Anakin!' I felt as if I was suffocating. My voice rose higher and became shaky. 'He couldn't!'
Obi-Wan turned, looking back at me. My breathing became harsh, I knew more unwelcome words were coming.
"He was deceived by a lie. We all were. It appears that the Chancellor is behind everything, including the war. Palpatine is the Sith Lord we've been looking for. After the death of Count Dooku, Anakin became his new apprentice." Sweat began to dot my brow.
I couldn't look at Obi-Wan; I needed to sit. My head span, I felt distant.
'I don't believe you ... I can't.'
My voice sounded parsecs away. I managed to find my way to the couch. Images swam in my eyes, my gaze locked on the empty wall across the room. I was only vaguely aware that Obi-Wan sat beside me. He spoke softly again, trying to soothe me, but urgency broke through his façade.
"Padme, I must find him."
The bile rose further in my throat, and anger flushed my face. I knew what he wanted, what he felt was necessary.
'You're going to kill him, aren't you?'
Again, I heard his falsely assuring voice, "He has become a very great threat."
In my head, frustration and anger formed words.
How could he think I would betray Anakin?
I wanted to scream at Obi-Wan, to make him see how cruel his intentions were, but I could only speak 2 words.
I looked away, trying to hide the hot tears that sprung to my eyes. I heard him move and I glanced down at the Japor snippet.
"Anakin is the father, isn't he?" Obi-Wan asked. I pretended I couldn't hear him. His words ripped through me, tormenting my soul.I didn't look up. I willed him to leave. "I'm so sorry."
Despair filled me and the anger threatened my composure once more. Sorry wouldn't stop him, sorry wouldn't change what he was about to do. Sorry wouldn't save the man I loved.
I waited until I heard him leave before I allowed the tears to run down my face. I called Anakin's name, hoping he would somehow respond. His words from the previous day entered my mind.
"Please, wait for me." I saw his face, concern hiding behind his smiling eyes.
I couldn't. I couldn't wait. I needed to warn him.
The memory was broken as something caught my eye.
My eyes darted to the movement. I saw Bail Organa and Obi-Wan Kenobi standing side by side in the viewing area. C-3P0 and R2D2 stood behind them. Obi-Wan was brushing his beard, a look of concern painted over his features. Bail's mouth was turned down and his eyes seemed distant.
Oh Maker no!
Fear washed over me, my fingertips tingled, my throat felt like it was closing. I looked again at my motionless body on the hoverbed.
I can't be dead! No! Obi-Wan, I'm here… Look up!I breathed out, my head feeling light. Just breathe, Padmé. You can get yourself out of this.
Another voice startled me. It was robotic, the sound of the vocoder echoing through the rooms.
"…she is gone. There is nothing more we can do. I'm sorry."
My throat burned with fear and anger. Hot tears sprouted at my eyes.
"Why can't you see me?"I screamed, "I'm right here. Luke…Leia… They need me!"
I stared down at my body again, this time I willed it to move, for my heart to beat, anything. My hope began to fade, and the harsh shadow of reality began to take over. I'm dead…The words tasted metallic, like blood. Dead.I repeated it over and over again. The words sounded distant, I still felt as if I was dreaming.
Obi-Wan entered the room, sadness tainting his stormy eyes.
"I'm sorry," he whispered. I felt tears fill my eyes again. I tried to blink them away. He reached for a stray lock of hair and all of my emotion rushed to the surface. As his hand brushed my forehead, I shrieked.
His hand recoiled in an instant. Shock flooded his face as he glanced back at Bail. Bail rushed into the room, his mouth pressed into a tight line, fighting to keep confusion at bay.
"What happened?" Bail looked over Obi-Wan's pale face. Obi-Wan didn't answer. His thoughts were running rampant, he was unable to focus. Bail placed a hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder, attempting to bring him out of his trance.
"Obi-Wan," he repeated, "What happened?"
"The Force…She spoke to me through the Force." Obi-Wan's voice was soft, but riddled with emotion. "I….I heard her scream. She's terrified, extremely upset."
He turned back, to look at my body. He knelt again and hesitantly placed his fingertips on my head.
"Obi-Wan!" My voice cracked, as relief flooded through me. "I don't know what's going on. I see you, I hear you. I'm floating outside of my body. I need your help. I need to live!"
Obi-Wan's hand moved away again, a mixture of shock and relief on his face. He turned to look at Bail.
"Bail, I need you to bring Master Yoda. Padmé is here, she is still speaking with me."
Bail stood for a moment, seemingly frozen. He looked at my motionless form, then back at Obi-Wan. Finally, he seemed to comprehend what Obi-Wan had just asked. Bail turned and rushed through the doorway. His boots clicked rapidly as he walked down towards the hangar bay.
Obi-Wan turned back to the hoverbed. He moved to sit and closed his eyes. I knew he was trying to reach my energy through the Force. I watched him in his meditation, listening to the soft hush of his breathing. I could almost feel his presence next to me, yet nothing more happened.
It seemed like an eternity before I heard the rhythmic clicking of Bail's boots once again. In between his footfalls came another, harsher noise. It sounded like wood.
Yoda's gimer stick. I thought. Thank the Maker!
Bail came into the room. Obi-Wan opened his eyes and stood slowly. Their eyes met; Obi-Wan nodded a silent thank you. Both of them turned as Yoda entered.
"Obi-Wan. Padmé is here, you say?" Yoda questioned, his eyes scanning the room. Obi-Wan followed Yoda's gaze, trying to figure out what the old Jedi was thinking.
"Yes, Master Yoda. When I brushed away a piece of her hair, I heard her voice scream my name. I held my hand to her forehead and she spoke with me again. She wants to live, she asked for our help."
Obi-Wan glanced at Bail, and then back at Master Yoda. He started again.
"She is using the Force as a medium. I tried meditation, and I could feel her energy. Unfortunately I could not speak with her again."
"Very unusual, this circumstance is." Yoda sighed, and slowly walked over to the hover bed. "Lived through the Force bond of others, very few have."
Force bond? I questioned, trying to get more answers. Yet the answers to my questions seemed to get more obscure with each passing moment.
The twins? They aren't bonded with me, yet, are they?
It must be him, I know it.
Relief washed over me for a moment, realizing that Anakin must still be alive – somewhere.
Obi-Wan looked at Yoda, shock widening his pupils. He opened his mouth but did not say anything. He closed it once again, his shocked eyes now filling with a mix of emotions. A frown furrowed his brow.
Yoda's eyes were downcast, not in thought, but in sadness.
Strangely, I could feel them in the room. It was as if my mind was brushing against theirs. Yet a black spot held me back, stopped me from reading their thoughts.
They're hiding something from me.
My anger began to bubble to the surface and I wanted to lash out at Yoda. Behind his wise features, he's deceiving me! I'm holding out on death, and they're worried about the Empire!My face flushed, and my eyes narrowed. Obi-Wan killed Anakin, and they want to take away Luke and Leia as well.
The fury became encompassing and it threatened to explode.
My thoughts became irrational, my emotions uncontrollable. Every little thing the Jedi had done seemed to become like an extra charge of Baradium. Obi-Wan opened his mouth again and spoke, barely audible.
"She will find out, sooner or later. Can you help her?" Yoda looked up at him, a frown creasing his brow. He began to shake his head, and I could feel the regret emanating from him.
I shrieked. 'Why are you hiding the truth? Of all the people I thought I could trust!'
Fury clouded my vision in crimson.
I can't hold back any longer. They need to know what I'm feeling, what they've done to me.
I closed my eyed and focused on Obi-Wan and Yoda. Almost instantaneously, I felt a shockwave rip through the room. My anger began to ebb and I opened my eyes. Obi-Wan stood, his mouth agape. Yoda's eyes were wide, either in awe or shock. The room was in disarray, droids shut down in the corners, the wall cracked, and the large viewing window shattered.
Did I do this? I felt confusion fill my chest. How?
Obi-Wan looked at Yoda and asked "What do we need to do?"
His voice was tense, it threatened to break at any moment.
"A moment, I need. Meditate, I must." Yoda replied. He was hesitant, still weighing the consequences. Yoda closed his eyes, sighing. His breathing slowed and became soft. After a few minutes, I felt a strange presence near me. Realizing who it was, I tried to reach out to it, and as I did it became more pronounced.
"Master Yoda," I heard myself speak, "Iam here. Can you help me?"
The presence grew still and I waited for a response.
"Yoda,"I repeated again. I looked down at the three people I knew so well and I waited again. Soon, Yoda's energy became discernible. I could almost see his figure floating near me. I felt him reach out to me.
"Release yourself, you must. Only allow you to return, will the Force, if serene you become." Yoda's strange voice rang in my ears. "Relax, you should. Guide you, we will"
Hesitant at first, I closed my eyes once more.
I focused on nothingness, trying to forget my surroundings.
Relax, calm.I told myself. You are free.
I felt a pull and I let go. I felt myself floating away from where I had been, I felt Yoda's presence drift away. With another pull, stronger this time, my entity moved closer to my body. I continued to relax, and the cycle continued.
Suddenly, a bright light shone in my eyes. My ears began to ring, my body to tingle. The light's intensity grew and I felt heat. Intense heat. My skin felt as if it was burning, my mouth felt dry, like the deserts of Tatooine. My eyes felt like molten lava and my head began to spin.
The light faded, leaving me in darkness.
I heard a noise, constant, rhythmic. As my ears stopped ringing, the noise grew louder.
'What is that?'I asked myself. 'What's going on?'
My eyelids felt heavy, as if I hadn't slept for days. I struggled to open them to no avail. I tried to move my arms, nothing. I tried my legs, nothing. They seemed to burn with the effort.
Why can't I wake up? Did I make it back to my body?
The questions swirled in my head and it began to throb. I tried to speak, but my lips were stuck together and my throat raw.
A voice rose from the uncertainty surrounding me. It was tinny and emotionless.
A medical droid.
"Jedi Masters Yoda and Kenobi, Viceroy Organa, we cannot keep the patient under sedation for much longer. There are two options that are available at this time. We can put her into hibernation - until she can be awakened - or we can take her off of life support. I suggest that she be placed in hibernation. The awakening process can often keep a patient stable for a long time period, even without medical intervention."
What is wrong with me? Why can they not wake me up now?
Onceagain, questions began to take over and I felt helpless. I could barely hear the voices as they discussed the meagre choices. I felt as if I were underwater; the bass of their voices were the only sound to reach me. A numbing chill fell over me as I realized I was still dying. My fear crept out once again, before fading into a vaporous sigh of helplessness.
Is there nothing I can do?
I reached out to the Force again, hoping that it would save me a second time. My effort was fruitless. I fell back into the arctic waters that surrounded my consciousness.
"MD-04, we shall put her into hibernation," someone decided. I recognized the voice.
I heard the whirring repulsorlifts on the droid as he made his way closer to me. The cold appendages moved my arm slightly and the temperature seemed to make my body ripple. The mechanical movement of the droid resonated in my head as I felt pressure against my forearm. Pain flooded my body as the droid administered an injection.
My awareness instantly began to fade away. I struggled against the tide of drowsiness. Every part of me felt as heavy as permacrete. My brain resisted against the drug taking effect, but I knew I couldn't fight any longer. I tried desperately to find something to hold on to. A thought, a memory, a dream. I felt myself losing my grip on reality - even with my desperation to stay conscious - I knew I had just moments left. I reached for the twins; my heart was aching. They weren't there.
Worry rose in my chest and then - I felt them. Relief dulled the pain as I tried to speak, to comfort them. As my voice failed to express them, I focused on the words again, only thinking and hoping that the twins would understand.
Be strong. I love you.
As I my conscious self was fading, a memory took hold.
A familiar voice, one I held dear.
"Don't be afraid."
Anakin. I tried to use his memory as a safe haven, to forget the pain he had caused me for one moment. He spoke again; more warmly than before. "I love you."
I mouthed the words in return and stopped fighting. A peaceful emptiness washed over me before I drifted into the shadows.