Chapter 33 - The End of the Beginning, or the Beginning of the End?
AN: And here we are with an epilogue/interlude for the story.
Harry's story will continue in the next chapter, while the star wars setting will be on hold. I have chapters and snippets written for that part of the story that will be released as chapters in Echoes of Imperium. The galaxy has been changed dramatically with the Potter Effect causing chaos, hopefully everyone has enjoyed it so far and will continue to do so.
So much for my plan that the previous 32 Chapters were only meant to be maybe 5 or 10 long at most :)
In the heart of Thunderchild, was the Emperors meeting room, one of the most secure chambers within the Jade Imperium. The walls were covered in mahogany panels, engraved with depictions of the tales of Vasuki, a gift from his most fanatical followers. Harry never explained why the table at the centre of the room was to be round, but he seemed most amused by the concept, red granite with gold inlays depicting the Imperium's crest at its centre. The only time that it differed from the standard green and black. Six seats were arrayed around it at equal distances, all equal in their design and comfort, another demand he had made upon its construction. A few more smaller seats rested by the wall behind the Emperors chair for his spouse and heirs.
It haunted Xora that Harry had never even had the chance to see the finished room before the end.
Out of the 6 seats, four were filled with women whilst the last two remained empty. No others were present within the secure meeting room. The immensity of the discussion to follow, pressed down on the shoulders of those present.
"So..." Riyo looked at the other Pillars present, "How do we handle this?"
Ahsoka glanced at Xora in concern as her skin rippled through colours until it returned to its normal green. "Harry is alive, but gone. What else do we know and how much does Sidious know?"
Xora frowned as she pushed forward a datapad across the table, "This is the transmission recorded from his armour."
Bo-Katan reached across and started reviewing the data, approving of the information contained. She dismissed the first fight and moved straight to the second, putting it on fast forward to speed through it for the answer she sought. There at the end, she witnessed the death of Palpatine along with one of Jades Sons. Then the data went weird, multiple signals overlapped to cause chaos and then it simply stopped. "You're sure he's alive?"
Ahsoka nodded, "The Force would have felt different if he had died, I can still feel his presence, it's just very muted."
Xora snapped her gaze up to Ahsoka, "Can you use that to find him?" The hope in her voice was painful for the others to hear.
"No." She raised a hand to stop Xora snapping at her, "It's like a background hum. No matter where I am in the Imperium, it's there, when I went on the mission to recover the Lily, it was muted even more, but still there. The loudest points I've heard it was on Yushan when I informed Weyland and strangely the lava lake where the last duel occurred. The centre of the lake was Harry's last location, there was a perfectly spherical hole cut from the world and the Force seemed... triumphant there. All three aspects of it were in harmony."
She reached out and squeezed Xora's hand, "He's not gone. You know him, he'll be back."
Bo-Katan grunted in agreement, "Tough as my father's old boots that one. Okay. Back to business, how are we going to deal with this?"
Riyo nodded, "To lose the Emperor this early into his reign and without a true heir, the entire structure will collapse. Never mind that we still need to fill the fifth position amongst us."
Xora took a deep breath and forced her mind to go silent for a moment. Equilibrium restored for now, she nodded, "We fake him. We use a body double and pretend he's still active. I'm sure we can wrangle some of his DNA somewhere and make an heir."
"That's not going to work." Riyo shook her head, "I've seen Dooku's research on Harry and his medical records were included amongst them, there was a large amount of archaeological research as well which was weird, but it looked like he was trying to find Harry's homeworld."
She glanced around the table, mentally noting who was surprised or not by that, "Theres also the fact that no sample of Harry has lasted long enough to use and we didn't get any before he left for his mission. Apparently, it usually turns into some kind of toxic organic acid. I'm not sure he was aware, usually it decays too quickly to cause any problems, but a few items have had to be repaired more than normal over the years."
"But..." Xora frowned, "nothings gone wrong when we slept together."
Riyo shrugged, "I've got no clue why you didn't melt from the inside out or die from poisoning, but his pillows had… have to be replaced every day as well as his shaving kit and brushes. I've seen some of the discolouration just from his drool whilst sleeping." She looked around at the others, "What? I was curious."
Ahsoka blinked in surprise at that, "Perhaps it's because he subconsciously didn't want to hurt you, so his weird effect didn't do its normal thing, he is saturated with the Force and Magic, Magic is all about power and intent. That could be why."
"Right," Xora sighed in annoyance, "ignoring our sex life. What do we do then?"
Bo-Katan leant forward, tapping the table. "We lie, just as you suggested. The Republic would have investigated the battle site. They would expect severe injuries to have occurred if he's still alive. We use that to our advantage. Pick a Force user who can pass as a body double, a full suit of armour, environmentally sealed, make sure it has life support aspects to the armour. Claim that he is so badly wounded that he requires the life support, but refuses to cease his duties. Say that he refuses cybernetics as they react badly with his people. I don't want to use a religious angle for not using them, that could get out of control. It will buy us time for Harry to return and we legitimise Riyo as the heir in the meantime as planned."
Riyo winced, but nodded in agreement to that, "There is a member of the Praetorians who was assigned to the duty as a body double if required in an emergency. We can use him. He's loyal to the cause and smart enough to take on the role. But he's nowhere near as powerful and has no magic ability. He'll listen to me if I tell him first."
Xora and Ahsoka both nodded as they realised who she referred to. Sad smiles crossed their faces at another young romance ruined by this war.
Xora sat back in her seat, "Not a bad choice, we can blame his weakness on his injuries and suit. Most don't understand magic so won't notice the difference. His voice is too different though."
"Voice modulation in the helmet," Bo-Katan said with a shrug, "it would be enough to distort his voice, enough to do the job and people wouldn't question the change due to medical reasons."
"And when he returns?" Xora asked with a cold glare daring anyone to say otherwise. Ahsoka just squeezed her hand in support.
Bo-Katan shrugged and sat back, "A miracle, or a damn good doctor. People will be too happy to look too deep. We can deal with those who do, if… when its needed."
Xora nodded at that, "Very well. I call it to a vote. There is no Pillar of Justice at this time, so it will be noted as abstaining." She took a deep breath before continuing, "As the Pillar of Truth, I vote for the motion."
"The Pillar of Strength votes for." Bo-Katan stated without any sign of doubt.
Ahsoka glanced between Xora and Riyo, "I'm sorry to you both, as the Pillar of Wisdom, I vote for."
Riyo winced at that, "I was kind of hoping for another option, but I will not let the dream die. As the Pillar of Honour, I vote for."
Xora nodded at that, "Four for, one abstain, none against. Best go inform our… Emperor of the news. We need him up and running before we can fill the position of the fifth Pillar."
Master Yoda and Bail Organa stood waiting on the landing platform in the cool night air as the Naboo vessel began to land. Three medical droid teams were waiting to one side, going over final checks before they got to work. Yoda fiddled with his walking stick in worry, something was wrong, he could feel the presence of Obi-wan flaring chaotically, emotions roiling within him as he landed the ship.
The moment the ship landed and the ramp began to descend, the medical teams began to advance, hurrying to their charges, any second wasted could cost a life.
Within moments, they had reached the medical bay and began to transport the two women back to the medical bay, the third team saw that the Jedi was mobile and uninjured to obvious sight, so hurried to assist the first team.
Obi-wan raised a hand to stop the second team, "I'll take her. Save the Senator and her child."
The medics glanced at each other and nodded to the obviously upset man and began to hurry after their fellows. One remained and followed Obi-wan as he picked up Sabe's body in his arms and carried her into the facility.
Bail Organa had already followed his unconscious friend, but Yoda remained at the bottom of the ramp. He waited for Obi-wan to pass with his burden, following in respectful silence beside the medic.
It took only a few minutes to reach the medical centre at their pace, Obi-wans mind still in turmoil at what had happened on the ship. Whilst he could understand Sabe's plan and reasoning, it would after all, help hide Padme and her child from those who would look for them. But he could not bring himself to understand her focused drive to kill herself to protect Padme, it seemed so... unnecessary.
They respectfully placed Sabe's body in a private room next to Padme's and met Bail outside Padme's room.
Bail glanced at them before returning to his pacing outside the door, "They won't let me in, I'm not family."
Obi-wan nodded at that and was about to join the Senator in waiting when Yoda smacked Obi-wan's leg with his stick. "Go. Skywalker is dead, his brother you are. Save them all, you must."
Obi-wan frowned, about to deny the statement, until he saw the unfocused look on Master Yoda's face, lost as he was in his vision of the future, until his focus snapped back to the present and he looked at the Jedi before him with such focus, it seemed to burn through to Obi-wans very soul. "Our last hope, they are."
Nodding in acceptance of the Masters will, Obi-wan walked over to the door and knocked.
A medical droid opened the door and its sensors swept over the Jedi before him, "Family?"
Obi-wan nodded, "She's married to my brother who won't be here."
The droid seemed to survey him for a moment before nodding and letting him in, "Good. The patient is unconscious and we need to know the wishes of the family in relation to the twins?"
"Twins?" Obi-wan queried, "I thought there was only one."
"Their heartbeats are in perfect sync," the droid answered as its fellows continued to work, "it would have been immensely difficult to hear them separately. The patient and your brother should have been notified in the medical checks. A male and female."
"Luke and Leia." Obi-wan whispered.
"Their names will be noted." The droid froze before nodding and returning to the conversation, "The mother is experiencing complications for no reason we can find. If nothing changes, we will have to operate and make the choice of who to save. That will be in your hands."
Obi-wan ran a hand down his face, "Save them all, I will assist as best I can."
The look he got from the medical droid gave him the impression that if it had an eyebrow, it would have been raised in confusion. "You have medical training?"
"No," he said as he shook his head, "But I can strengthen her, keep her with us as you work."
The droid looked him over and spotted the lightsaber before nodding, "Ah, Jedi. Very well, anomalies in the procedure will be assigned to your… abilities. It would be best to work immediately to improve their chances," the droid motioned towards a door to the side, "This way please, we need to ensure there will be no contamination."
It took a few minutes for Obi-wan to be cleaned up and ready to enter the room, then he was motioned to stand beside Padme and do what he can to assist her. The droid simply returned to assisting its colleague.
"Padme," Obi-wan began, "I need you to listen to me. You need to wake up, you need to be strong."
From within his mind a sibilant whisper echoed from the Force around them, "She can't hear you. She doesn't want to. She has given up."
"No." Obi-wan denied without considering the voices origin, "She's strong, she's a fighter."
The droids glanced at each other in confusion, hearing only one side of the conversation, they chose to ignore the Jedi's oddities and continue with their purpose.
"Yes, she is." The voice confirmed, "But what happens when that fight, that strength runs out? When the one you hold most dear carves out your heart? She wants to let go. To be free of the pain."
"She can't." Obi-wan snapped, "She is too important." He growled as he rubbed his face in frustration, "She and her children are our last hope."
The voice chuckled in amusement before continuing, "Hope is like a candle in the dark. One little puff of air, and it is gone. Lost. But what if you can give that candle fuel? What if I told you there was a way to save her. You would need to bear the cost though, her light could not take it."
"Who are you?" Obi-wan snapped as he finally realised the danger present, looking around the operating room for the entity, "What are you?"
"I am many things," the voice sighed, "Once I was a healer, once a monster, once a scholar of the Force. I have had many names, none you would know. But your actions on Yavin echoed through the Force, they called to me, a kindred spirit. You found true balance in the Force, but cast aside your hold on it. I once did the same, but was slain in that moment of enlightenment. Caught within the balance until I am no longer."
"I asked your name," Obi-wan growled as he glared towards the shadows in the corner, sure he had seen something move within them, "you may be surprised at what I know."
"In this moment, I am the last chance you have to save her. And here is my price." The voice sighed in annoyance, "You must carve away a portion of your power and place it within her. Her heart and Will fails with every beat, so you must take on that burden for her. It will hurt like nothing you have ever experienced in your life, it will sear your very essence."
"What do you mean, speak plainly or be gone." Obi-wan glared at the shadows, two faint pins of light hidden within their depths seemed to meet his glare.
"Every beat of your heart will be matched by hers, every drop of willpower in your veins, will pump through hers." The voice intoned, surety and experience of such matters strengthening the power of its words, "As long as you live, so shall she, no matter if she desires to end it or not, she cannot end her own existence without you willing it so. You will bear the burden of her days. She will likely grow to hate you for it, for taking her choice from her."
"But she will live?" Obi-wan demanded.
"Yes." The voice sighed, "She will live. But, the balance must be held. The lights of the unborn are as beacons in the dark. Separate, they can be missed as one amongst many, like the stars in the night sky. But together, they will shine like no others. A supernova of power and light. You must separate them or all your hope will burn to ash in their wake."
"I cannot take one of her children from her she would never forgive me." Obi-wan answered without realising he had already agreed to the price.
"Better one than none. And should the Sith take the pair, then the light will turn in on itself and darkness shall rule this galaxy." The voice purred. "That is no warning, that is a promise."
Obi-wan gave only silence as his response, until the rapid beating of the machines as a failing heart tried to surge and live demanded his attention. His shoulders fell as he realised the futility of the struggle against his own wishes. She must live. The children must live. He would bear the shame of his actions for the rest of his life, but first he must save theirs. "What do I need to do?"
The voice was solemn and calm as it responded, no gloating of victory in its voice as it gave him instructions, "Open your mind and accept me in. I shall guide your flesh and take a portion of your burden with me. Then I will finally end, my purpose complete. You will be left with your own burden and my warning. The fate of the Galaxy rests in your hands."
Obi-wan bowed his head and let out a shuddering sigh, before he opened his mind to the voice. Icy lightning rushed through his veins, his hands flexed on their own and he placed one over her heart, the other over her brow. He turned to the droids, one eye blue, the other molten gold, both in a sea of stormy grey, an older and harsher voice fell from his lips, "The children will need to be cut from the mother."
Turning back to the woman beneath his hands, words never to be uttered by human lips poured forth, blood spilling from his torn tongue and shattered teeth. Tears of blood fell from his eyes, trickles of blood fell from his nose and ears as the power thundered through him, burning him with frozen fire and light. His hair began to grey at his temples as the burden of her years fell upon him. He tried to scream as something deep within himself was shattered and a shard of it was pulled though him and forced itself into Padme's chest to pierce her heart.
He staggered back, released from the others control as he clutched at his chest, moaning in agony as he felt that something was wrong, something was missing. Obi-wan glanced around in a panic, he felt weak, hollowed out and stretched over a too large canvas, but that hollow sensation was soon filled with a presence that was itself, broken and weak, the embers of a burning passion for justice and peace mixed with a deep agony of self-hatred and horror at the betrayal of the one she had let into her heart.
Within a blink, he found himself inside his mind, he could feel his long-trained defences already refreshing and reinforcing themselves against any further intruders.
There in a great ravine of razor-sharp obsidian at the edge of his essence, he found the entity who had saved Padme.
The figure stood there, tall and powerful, garbed in dark robes, embroidered with arcane sigils in a language that refused to be read, but still seared their image upon his soul, with a hood that hid his features in too deep shadows. Faint blue flames rippled around the edges of his robes.
"Hello, my friend, I had hoped you would come." His voice matched that of the whispers Obi-wan had listened to. The figure grunted in agony as the flames rushed up his limbs before halting again, "I have little time and I wish to ask you for a final act on my behalf."
Obi-wan stepped up beside him and took a moment to look around at the faint images reflected in the mirrored surfaces of the obsidian shards around him. His gaze fell upon a reflection of himself, but terrifyingly warped, a red armoured version of himself with golden eyes sitting upon a throne of bone, surrounded by adoring worshippers. "Go on." he said as he tore his eyes away from what he could have become if he had walked a different path.
The figure nodded slightly, likely aware of what Obi-wan had seen in his reflection, "When you next face Darth Sidious, and you will know when you do so. Can you give him a message for me?"
"I cannot promise anything, but should I have the opportunity, I shall do so." Obi-wan agreed.
"Excellent", the figure grunted again as the flames once more began to creep slowly along him, "Tell him Plagueis sends his regards. He will understand the message."
The figure turned and looked beyond Obi-wans essence into the storm of potential beyond, "It is so beautiful, looking into the Force and watching the futures unravel. I shall miss this."
With a sigh of relief, the flames rushed over him with a roar that echoed through Obi-wan's being, he blinked in surprise at Plagueis' final whisper, "Oh, how amusing. I win."
Blinking in surprise, Obi-wan found himself, once more, in the operating room, clenching hold of Padme's hand as he watched the babies be taken for checks as the droid began to stitch up Padme.
The one beside him cocked it's head in curiosity at the Jedi, "Whatever you did? It worked. She will live, as will her children. We will finish up here and move her to a secure ward, the children will be with her shortly. In the meantime, you require medical attention yourself."
Obi-wan nodded and rapidly regretted that movement as agonies burned through him, he tried to speak, but could only utter a ragged moan from his ruined mouth.
Gently, the droids guided him to a stretcher and took him towards the bacta tanks.
With the sickly stench of the bacta still filling his nose and mouth, Obi-wan grimaced around his reconstructed teeth, the numbness in his tongue had passed, but he could still taste that vile goop and the odd sensation of replacement teeth.
The three of them sat around a small table, plotting their next actions. Each glancing at the others, unsure of what to do and how to do it. The datapad Sabe had used sat like a coiled serpent at the centre of the table.
Yoda sighed before beginning, pointing at the datapad before him, "Pregnant, Sabe must appear. Her plan is sound. Hidden, safe, the others must be kept."
"We must hide them where the Sith or Jade will never find them." Obi-wan managed to say as he nodded in agreement, "Separating the children would be best, Anakin only thought there was a single child, not twins."
Bail nodded, "My wife and I will take the girl, we've wanted to adopt a child for some time now. We can adopt another as an added layer of protection. She will be loved and protected with us. I would have taken the boy but his hair is like Skywalkers, it would be too obvious. The girls hair is close enough to my own or Breha's, more likely to pass without notice."
Obi-wan nodded in frustrated agreement, frowning at the next issue, "Where would we send the boy?"
Yoda looked off into the distance before nodding, "To his family, send him. To Tatooine."
Obi-wan grimaced in memory of the backwater dump, nodding after a moment of thought, "That should work. What of Padme?"
Bail grimaced at that, "Officially, Padme died with her child. The medics were too late to save either of them. Sabe recently lost her own child and has agreed to be my daughters' nursemaid. Neither Padme nor Sabe ever visited Alderaan, there won't be anyone who could dispute that. The only people who know the truth will be my wife, Padme and us. It will let her be close to her daughter but keep them both safe."
Obi-wan winced at that, "It will hurt her greatly, but she will at least be involved in her daughter's life that way. She must never know about her son. She was unconscious throughout the birth, and we can wipe the droids and the records. This way she doesn't run off to find him. She knows us too well, she'd find him within the year."
Bail chuckled at that, "I can see her doing that, personally I'd give her less than a month from finding out about him. She'd tear through the Hutt's herself if she even had a hint of his presence. But Tatooine is a hostile and dangerous place, will he be safe there?"
Obi-wan glanced at Yoda for a moment, "I will watch over him. I'll hide nearby, get a ship of my own and pop up every so often on another world to draw attention and disappear back into the desert. If the Sith do search the world, they are more likely to find me than him. I can run and they would follow."
Bail frowned, "And if they don't follow? If they search for why you're there?"
"Ignoring that a lot of people go there to hide, I would warn the family when they need to run." Obi-wan countered, "They can disappear with the boy. I'll use what little funds I have to hire a pilot and ship for them to disappear with, I'll sort out some false identities for them and they can start fresh elsewhere."
Bail nodded to the Jedi, "I will provide what resources I can to help prepare our journeys. Call me if you need something."
The Jedi watched as the Senator departed, motioning for the droids waiting outside to follow him, before continuing their conversation. Yoda turned to the young man with now grey hair at his temples beside him, aware that something profound had occurred in the operating room, "Master Kenobi. In your solitude on Tatooine, training I have for you."
Obi-wan raised an eyebrow at that, "Training, Master?"
"The Path to Immortality, an old friend of ours learned." Yoda cryptically said as he began to gather his things.
Obi-wan frowned in confusion, before he felt the Force hum at him, the faint whisper of a folk song being whistled was faint on the air, "Qui-gon?"
Yoda nodded in surprise, "Indeed. A secret of the Ancients, he studied. How to commune with him, I will teach you. How to join the Force, he will train you. Your consciousness you will retain, when one with the Force. Even your physical self, perhaps."
Bail walked along the facility's corridors until he reached the crews waiting room, C-3PO and R2-D2 following him. Motioning to the Captain to join him, he also motioned to an engineer. Once the door behind them sealed and they were alone in the corridor, he began, "Captain Antilles."
The Captain saluted, "Your Highness."
Bail smiled sadly at him, "Can you please send the message to the Senate that we found Senator Amidala. I regret that she did not survive her injuries. I am about to negotiate returning her body home to Naboo. Her child died with her."
"Child?" Antilles gasped, "I didn't know the Senator was pregnant."
"It was a private matter, I was unaware myself until informed by the medics." Bail answered as he rubbed at his eyes, "Either way, it doesn't really matter now. Sabe is... she is with her sister now. Please do not disturb them. I will be locking down my quarters on the ship to provide her peace and quiet on the return to Alderaan."
He motioned to the droids, "On a separate matter, I'm placing these droids in your care. Treat them well. Clean them up." He turned to walk away before stopping and turning back slightly towards them, "Have the Protocol Droid's mind wiped and see if you can replace the shell, the gold is too distinctive. The Jedi routinely wipe their astromechs between missions so that one should be fine."
With another salute, the captain motioned to the engineer who took the droids away as he returned to his crew to begin planning their journey.
Bail walked through the palace apartment onto the balcony with its view of the nearby mountains. His wife was sitting there, watching the dancing of a herd of Thranta's in the updrafts as she relaxed after a long day of leading her people.
Breha turned at the slight noise he made and smiled in relief, her posture relaxing at seeing her husband return safe and whole.
"I have someone I'd like you to meet," Bail said as he sat, passing the bundle in his arms across to her, "This is Leia."
"Leia." Breha sighed, "A beautiful name for a beautiful daughter." She looked up at her husbands pained look, the question in her eyes.
Bail sighed in acceptance, "As far as the galaxy is concerned, she is an orphan, her parents died in my service, saving me during all the confusion on Coruscant. I have the paperwork already done. I met Sabe and she was injured in the fight, she lost her own child and I convinced her to be the Nursemaid for Leia."
Breha's eyes snapped up to meet his with that last sentence, "Padme?"
His tone was sharp and curt emphasising his words, "Padme is dead." Bail frowned, forcing her to understand the new truth with his gaze, "Sabe is mourning the loss of her own child, it may cause issues later, but we are going to help our friend."
Breha sighed as she stroked the new-borns cheek, "I understand. It might be best if we finally adopt a few other children at the same time."
"I agree," Bail nodded at the comment before grinning at her, "I'll see to that in the morning. We always did dream of having a large family."
Yoda looked up at the hole punched through the fungal canopy above by his pod. He had been lucky to clip the massive mushroom and skip between the edges of its peers rather than strike head on. He wasn't sure he would have survived that.
Looking around in the gloom, the bioluminescence was pleasant but not too bright. It made a fragment of his youth ache for home before he buried that once again. Those who left, were exiles for life, voluntary or not, there was no going back to his homeworld.
Sighing, he gathered his pack and walked away, deeper into the world saturated with the Living Force. It would hide his presence well, until he was needed once more.
Carefully reaching out with the Force, he felt the edges of the native's minds and frowned at the darkness tainting them. He would have to leave them be, no matter how tempted he would be to help guide them back to the light.
It would take skill and balance, some violence and a lot of effort, but they would leave him be. The Rancors might be more of a problem, but he was small and skilled, he could avoid them for the most part. The small echoes of using the Force on the rest to guide them away would be missed in the background.
Now, Grandmaster Yoda, the last leader of the Jedi Order was gone, lost to myth and legend.
Only the Hermit remained.
Obi-Wan stood watching as Beru carried the bundle to her husband, a haunting pang ran through Obi-wan at his actions. Perhaps they had been wrong. Perhaps they should have kept the children together.
As he readied himself to leave the family behind him, the wind caught their words and stabbed them deep into his heart.
"His name is Luke." Beru's voice was quiet but full of awe.
Owen nodded as he looked at the boy's face in the bundle, smiling at the sight, "Luke Lars… Luke. I like it, think I had a great uncle called that."
Beru's smile faded a little as she looked at her husband with worry, "Do we tell him where he comes from?"
"When he's older we'll explain as best we can." Owen said as he stroked her cheek, "Until then, he is ours and we'll raise him as such."
Obi-Wan rode off trying to hold back his despair at a final link to the boy he had raised being severed. The boy who had become his brother, in all but blood.
Perhaps he could still be pulled back to the light? Anakin was a hero, that just didn't go away. That light was still there.
Shaking that thought from his head, he allowed himself a glance back at the family watching the twin sunsets in the distance. Luke would be protected by this, maybe he could grow up and be happy as his parents should have been.
The cameras on Naboo watched the events with an awe and despair that could not be faked. News stations across the galaxy could not ignore the events and spread the images of the most important event occurring in the galaxy at this time.
At the centre of the largest plaza of the Naboo capital, with the Palace as a backdrop, a scene of reverence and pain was displayed to all.
Upon a bier of scented wood and silk paintings of her various victories, political and military, rested the body of Padme Amidala, former Queen of Naboo, Senator of the Republic, the surest voice for peace and tolerance in the galaxy, and a new title from the Senate as the Dissenting Voice. Her hands rested over her protruding belly, gently holding her unborn child within her womb. A crown of Japor Snippets rested upon her brow and she was dressed in all the regalia her rank and works deserved.
The Jade Emperor, in his new life support armour, had stood vigil over her body as it rested upon the bier for three days, unmoving as his doctor changed various containers on his suit. Millions of Naboo subjects had passed her body, weeping as they looked upon their greatest treasure. Members of the Imperial Senate attended and walked as equals amongst the common folk, joining in their mourning.
In a dark corner, a robbed man ground his teeth in hate as he watched his target stand his vigil. Beside him, a man, identical to the many others in his family, bowed his shaved head, showing the healing incision at his temple, and muttered newly learnt prayers for the spirit of a true hero to his kind. She had always spoken for the clones and done her best to improve their lot in life, they would always be grateful to her.
Maldorin had the easiest shot he could desire for days, and he was unable to take it. He would not turn the monster into a martyr. Never mind the damage to his relationship with the clones if they were all like his bodyguard. That was all ignoring the fact that the damned monster would detect and deflect the shot before it got close. Sniping Force users waste a waste of time and effort, it hardly ever worked and wasn't worth the risk.
After an hour of hate filled glaring, Maldorin tapped the soldier beside him and returned to the mission. He would be given another shot, one he could take and he would not miss.
The royal palace had been draped in black of mourning and tributes to her memory arrived with the pilgrims. A sea of flowers were placed around the gates, whilst other offerings were stored and awaited her family to decide what to do with them.
Riyo Chuchi, the Pillar of Honour, had declared a week of mourning across the Imperium as commanded by the Emperor before he began his silent vigil. He himself would mourn in the memory of such a star amongst the heavens lost to them. The day of Padme's death was to be a new public holiday, to commemorate all those lost in the terrible war that had torn the galaxy apart for so many years.
A full formal investigation into her death was quick and brought only great upset. The body was confirmed to be Padme Amidala through DNA records held on Naboo. The identity of her murderer was unknown, although some evidence suggested fanatics to Palpatine's image were behind the assassination. They had strangled her, killing both her and her child in the act.
The identity of the father to her unborn child remained unknown, no DNA testing was performed to find out, in order to protect Amidala's reputation. However, during the investigation, records were found of a secret wedding held at a family estate she had been attending at the time. No names were held on the record and the priest had died a year later, leaving only a diary describing the event.
There were no names recorded in the diary, and there was no description of the husband baring that he had a lightsabre at his waist. The only detailed description was one of the beautiful bride which held a very close resemblance to Amidala and that the couple had been very much in love but unable to let others know.
This, alongside the Emperors dedication to his vigil and his period of mourning fuelled rumours about a star-crossed love between those separated by the war and their duties to those they served. His actions in his attack on the Republic Senate, rumours of her activities on Coruscant and the silence on the matter from the Imperial palace on Eriadu or the new Academy on Yushan, were taken by many as evidence to support this theory.
The small, hand-carved wooden figure painted in the Emperor's personal colours that he placed upon Amidala's belly, would fuel such rumours for years, if not cement them as truth in the minds of the public.
As the sun set on the third day, the current Queen of Naboo stood tall and proud, dressed in black, having sworn to join the Emperor in his period of mourning, all the other living Ex-Kings and Queens stood as an honour guard behind her, ranging from Padme's successor all the way to an old hunchbacked woman who had a hovering grandchild with a chair waiting behind her.
The Queen stepped forward and raised a burning torch high, so all could see it, before her voice was carried across the Square by microphones and speakers, the words echoing across the Imperium through the Holonet.
"With this flame, representing our hopes and dreams, we send our sister to join her ancestors. Let her example to us all shine like the sun. Let her words whisper in your hearts like the wind. Let her faith in her people, flow through you like the rivers. Let her strength and dedication hold you firm like the mountains. Let her memory warm you on cold nights. Let the truest daughter of Naboo be an example for us all."
As her words echoed across the great plaza and the sun finally set, she lowered the torch and ignited the bier.
The emperor continued his vigil over the pyre until all that remained was ash. Kneeling, he drew his fingers through the ash and made two lines of ash down the cheeks of his helmet. He could no longer cry, so he made the mark of their passing.
Only then did he turn away and return to his duty.
And with that, a lie was made truth.
Padme Amidala and her child were dead.
In a small family run restaurant, Jorro sat staring at the empty seat across from him. His suit was old and was once his fathers, but he had fixed it and neatened it up as best he could. For once, his hair was neat and tidy, his ever-present stubble was gone and he was even wearing a tie.
The candlelight had been awkward to organise, but the owner's daughter was an old friend from school. Salika had been very helpful when she heard what had happened and why he was doing this.
He poured himself a glass of the house wine, and raised it as a toast to his missing guest, "To Sabe, I hope you are happy wherever you are. You are sorely missed."
Another glass chinked against his own, Salika smiling sadly at him with a matching glass of wine, "Its bad luck to drink alone, especially in memory of the lost." She pulled up another chair to sit beside him, "Tell me about her."
Jorro smiled, some of the weight lessened, "I think the first thing I really liked about Sabe was her laugh, it was so free and happy…"
Chion sat waiting in the doctor's office for an update on his patient. The doctor was a loyal servant to the cause and it was going to be such a shame to lose him as a resource when events followed as planned.
Her plans, not Sidious'.
She had seen the armour and cybernetics awaiting Anakin and his injuries. Brutal, barbaric, soaked in pain and anguish.
Her Masters visions had shown him a Champion burnt by the fires of victory. His plan would have taken the titan he had created and carved away at it until all that was left was a lobotomised puppy. Obedient and trained, but not even an echo of the greatness he could be.
She sighed in frustration, annoyed at her Masters paranoia and fear of his apprentice's. Of course, he should be worried, she would be as well if she was in his boots. But he let that fear rule him, not fuel him to greater heights.
She had such hopes for the galaxy her Master could have forged.
It was such a pity, what he had allowed to live in its place was weak and fractured.
No matter. She would guide things back on track, they may have shared the vision, but he lacked the Will and drive to see it done.
But Anakin... Oh what glorious opportunities lay ahead with him at her side.
She reached out and felt Anakin's fire as his mind drifted within the Bacta tank, lost to dreams and nightmares brought about by his experiences and the sorcery placed upon him.
She looked forward to showing him the recording of Amidala's funeral.
His reaction to that and the slightly doctored intelligence reports should be very interesting. To think that Anakin's wife had had an affair with his greatest enemy and carried his child. Such a pity her body had been destroyed before they could confirm it further.
Such a pity…
From a pouch at her belt, she pulled the lock of Amidala's hair that Anakin had on his person when he had been brought to the facility, rolling it in her fingers as she pondered the future. No, she thought as she tucked it away again and opened her comm to type a command. Her agents would clean the apartment, there would be no trace of Padme Amidala on Coruscant left to be recovered.
Except for the hair in her pouch, a reminder for how close she had come to losing the game. Perhaps she would have a clone grown. Perhaps a handmaiden for herself to play with, to serve her. She would have to keep the girl hidden until Anakin annoyed her for something. Oh, how much that would burn and hurt him to see. Perhaps she should give him one to play with as well. Infertile of course, we wouldn't want any… accidents to happen.
She wondered if any of the Kaminoans would be interested in working for her.
Bored with her wait, she gestured at the desk and the medical record leapt into her hand, reading through it, she was amused at the list of injuries that Jade had inflicted upon Anakin. Bones had been replaced or repaired, muscles healed, but the scars were kept as she had commanded. Bruising on his organs had also been healed, caused either by too much of the Dark Side flowing through him, or injuries gained in his fight with Jade.
Either way, he would be at least as strong as he was before, if not stronger for the suffering he had experienced.
She frowned at a note about his cybernetic hand, the nerves connected to it were ruined, the doctor had theorised using a direct link to his spinal column to bypass the damage, but felt it would possibly cause issues in its control and the interfaces held within.
She pondered the option for a moment before smirking. Grabbing a pen, she wrote a note agreeing to the procedure and to make sure that there was residual pain caused by the interface. A pain, only she could soothe.
A change in the Force alerted her to Anakin waking, dropping the file back on the desk, she waited as he was decanted from the tank. She had planned this moment so carefully; she could not afford anything to fall out of place. Patience, she reminded herself, she had already won, it was simply a matter of how much.
There. She sensed the faint light of hope rising within him as he asked the doctor any one of a hundred variants of the question, 'What happened to Amidala?'
The Doctors response would be simple.
It would be blunt.
It would be terminal.
The flare of the Dark Side thundered around her as his anger erupted and destroyed everything around him. She shivered in pleasure at her future lovers presence, her nerves sang at his touch. The flares of lives consumed rippled amongst his rage and she knew she would need to replace the entire medical team. At least the droids would be easy to replace.
Stepping to the door, she smirked as she felt his burning rage push against the metal of the door, the sheet bulging and rippling with his torment. She waited for a moment, her hand hovering over the control until she felt the dark torrent balance out, no longer surging forth to hurt others. With a light touch, the door squealed open in its damaged tracks.
Inside, the shattered lights flickered, leaving a void in which Anakin knelt within a small crater of warped metal. Medical equipment was crushed and torn, twisted into strange shapes and thrown with great power to smear against the walls. The droids torn apart in fractal patterns within the wreckage.
Only red slush with pale fragments showed where the organic staff had been standing, crushed and shattered from Anakin's furious hate and pain. The Doctor who had answered him was still reasonably intact, impaled on a dozen spears of fragmented metal like a strange primal effigy, a sacrifice to the kneeling god before him.
A god, she would forge with her bare hands and whispers to become eternal, just as she would be. She had found the hidden records and holocrons her master had tried to hide from her. She even had a few from the Jedi Archives that her agents had acquired for her before her Master's own agents could complete the process. She had been diligent and done her research, it would takes years of preparation and planning, but it was doable, even with serving her master for now.
Anakin's purpose was simple, to bring the galaxy to its thankful knees before her throne and to serve her in all things until the stars burned out.
Then she would ignite new ones and the cycle would continue.
The echoes of his emotions roiled around the room, a feast of power and emotion that pounded against her mind, she took a deep breath, savouring the pleasure that burned through her nerves and veins, before walking through the destruction, to kneel beside him.
Carefully, she reached around him and pulled him into a hug, whispering her poison into his ear, "Hush, he wasn't lying, she died, the Jedi let her die."
Anakin suddenly burst into tears and hugged her back, his body shaking as the despair and loss wracked his form. Stroking his hair as he wept in her arms, "It will get better. I promise you. I swear to you, it will get better."
Darth Lumiya grinned in victory as she felt that tiny little flicker of hope finally wither and die in him.
Within the Galactic Core.
Within a system wreathed in energies which burnt worlds to ash.
Upon a world armoured against the galactic core's onslaught by ancient technologies and sorceries known only to the greatest of the Sith.
Above a city filled with shadows, hiding from the burning heavens above.
Within a great stronghold that towered above all those beneath it.
Within all this, thousands of tanks were filled with variations upon variations of experiments performed in the name of one being.
In one of those numerous tanks, the clone within twitched, its heart rate picked up and brain activity surged as a twisted and deformed arm was raised up and pressed at the armoured glass.
In one of the control posts, the technician on duty frowned as an alert went up on a tank. Opening his comms, he called through to the technician on patrol in that sector, "Patrol Krill Nine Usk. There's a sensor trip on Eleven Thirty-Eight in your sector. Can you see what's happening?"
Out in the darkened gantries amongst the storage tanks, the technician in question sighed in annoyance, before opening his comms back to control, "This is Krill Nine Usk, I am en route. I passed that row about five minutes ago and there wasn't anything wrong then.
His comm crackled, "Confirmed. It's not logged as a Dreamer. Eleven thirty-eight is logged as brain dead with life support, so we shouldn't be getting anything at all from it."
The technician shook his head as he began walking along the row in question. "Weird. I'll do a check of the systems when I get there. It might just be a glitch on the sensors."
He walked up to the tank in question, seeing nothing obvious, "Okay, I'm here." He began looking at the attached screens as they displayed what was occurring within, "Life support is still running, Bacta is cycling fine. No contaminants detected. Confirm?"
Interference was worse here than before as the comm crackled and hissed at him, "We confirm from our end. Alerts are still going though."
The technician frowned at that, "I've no idea what's going on then. Let me have a look inside the tank."
Moving to the tank itself, he pressed the control to open the armoured shell so he could look through the thick reinforced glass to the body held within. Rather than seeing the body floating in the fluid as expected. He instead looked up and froze as he met the heavy gaze of the solid black eyes with burning yellow iris' examining him.
The technician froze in shock and opened his mouth to call out before the hand on the glass flexed slightly and with a pulse of the Force, the technician was shredded by the glass shrapnel. His blood mingling with the fluids and draining away through the holes in the gantry.
The twisted form of the clone pulled itself out of the wreckage and thick liquid, pulling the mask with its tubes from its face and tried to take a deep breath of air.
It gurgled for a moment and then bent over to vomit a thick and dark stagnant liquid from its mouth.
Wiping the goo and spittle from its mouth, the twisted form turned to look around before pulling the remaining tubes and needles from its flesh and moving along the walkways towards the nearest control post, its body jerking as it tried to stagger along its route. With each step, it gained more and more control over its distorted limbs, until by the time it reached its destination; it had brought its twisted form into a semblance of order.
Annoyed by the closed door and the muffled calls for help from within, it raised a clawed hand and made a grasping motion before pulling with the Force. With a screech of tortured metal, the door tore free of its frame to fly past the deformed clone.
It stepped through the twisted wreckage, where the panicked technicians froze as its burning yellow gaze fell upon them like a heavy weight upon their hearts. They each flinched as it raised an almost skeletal hand, until it pointed its too long fingers at the technician with the highest ranking on their uniform.
AN: And now we return to Earth and the Hogwarts years.