14

Coruscant – Residence of the Chancellor

Bail Organa sat drinking his morning coffee as he read over his agenda for the day. The unanticipated arrival of Commander Rex had been a bonus he hadn't expected, and it gave him a small measure of optimism. He was still reeling from the information that Rex had shared with him. It was hard to believe that Palpatine had managed to operate in the shadows for so long. He and his evil machinations had brought the galaxy to the precipice of disaster. If it hadn't been for the small group of Jedi who had taken matters into their own hands and executed the despot before his Empire got its footing. And yet, a great deal of damage had been done. According to the information he'd gathered, approximately ninety percent of the Jedi had been killed. Ninety percent. How the Republic would be able to function with only a handful left remained to be seen.

"Excuse me, your Excellency, but Senator Amidala would like to speak with you," Organa's protocol droid informed him.

Bail took the holo projector from the droid and opened it, smiling when he saw Padmé.

"Padmé!" he said. "It's so good to see you!"

Padmé smiled. "You too," she said. "I have someone here with me who urgently needs to talk to you," she said.

Bail nodded, a little surprised that Padmé had not shown any interest in catching up, but decided that she must have her reasons. And when a large man with long blond hair and piecing blue eyes stepped into view, he knew exactly what her reason was.

"Anakin?" Bail asked.

Anakin nodded. "Hello your Excellency," he said.

"I have to say that I'm surprised to see you," Bail said. "Pleased, but surprised."

"We have a plan that we hope you'll see the merit of," Padmé said. "One that involves Anakin."

"Oh? What is it?"

"I need your help to get to the capital," Anakin said. "I think you could use my help, but I'm not sure how safe it is for me to travel by conventional means."

Organa frowned. "I'm not sure I follow you," he said. "I'm assuming you're on Naboo."

"That's right."

"But you haven't been there all along."

"No, I've been on Tatooine for the past 3 months."

"How did you get there? To Naboo?"

Anakin smirked. "By means unworthy of a Jedi," he remarked.

"But we both think it would be prudent if Anakin had protection," Padmé said, "protection from the Senate."

Organa nodded. "I understand," he said. "How soon do you want to do this?"

Anakin and Padmé looked at one another.

"As soon as possible," Anakin said.

"Very well," Organa said. "I'll arrange everything and get back to you later this morning."

"Thank you sir," Anakin said. "I appreciate your help."

"Not at all, Anakin," Organa said.

Padmé closed the transmission and turned to Anakin. "We're going to have to tell him that we're married, don't you think? Surely he'll wonder why I'm with you when you return to the capital. Not to mention the twins."

Anakin nodded. "I agree," he said. "I don't think the secrecy matters anymore, do you? I've told Yoda and Ahsoka, and of course Obi-Wan knows. Perhaps it's time for the secrecy to end."

Padmé smiled. "I couldn't agree more."

Anakin looked down at himself. "I think I need to get cleaned up before I go see the Chancellor," he said. "Do you think we could send Threepio into town to buy me some clothes?"

"Good idea," she said. "You might want to lose the beard, too."

Anakin smiled and pulled her into his arms. "What? You don't like the scruffy look?" he asked.

"Well, the long hair is very sexy," she said, running her fingers into his hair. "But the beard – no. Hides your face. And your face is far too beautiful to hide."

Anakin nodded. "I'm glad you think so," he said. "How long do you think your mother will be out with the twins?"

"Why do you ask?"

"Well, I was wondering if you'd mind helping me," Anakin said.

"Helping you shave?"

"Helping me shower."

Padmé smiled. "I'd love to," she said, and took him by the hand and led him to the fresher.

Coruscant – later that day

"Hello again, Padmé," Bail Organa said. "We've got everything ready for Anakin. Is he still there with you?"

"Yes," Padmé replied, watching Anakin as he gave Luke a bottle. "He's right here."

Organa nodded, puzzled that a Jedi Knight would feel comfortable in the home of a senator. "I didn't know the two of you knew each other that well," he said.

Padmé glanced at Anakin, who was lost in the eyes of his baby son. "Well actually, Anakin and I are married, Bail. We have twin infants."

Bail's eyebrows shot upward. "You're married?"

Padmé nodded. "For three years," she said. "We've had to keep it secret. I'm sure you understand why."

"Of course," Bail said. "Wow," he said softly. "You kept your secret well."

Padmé smiled. "The twins and I will be returning to Coruscant too, but not with Anakin. I'll need do some packing before I'm ready to leave."

"I understand," Organa said. "My captain will be arriving at the Queen's private hangar in approximately 2 hours," he said. "He will send guards to meet Anakin and escort him to the ship. Where should they meet him?"

"I'll give you the coordinates."

Coruscant

"General Skywalker is coming here?" Rex asked in disbelief.

"Yes, he should be here soon," Organa replied. "Captain Antilles contacted me to tell me they'd dropped out of hyperspace."

"How did Antilles know where to go?"

"Senator Amidala contacted me," Organa said. "Anakin went to Naboo." He hesitated for a moment before continuing. "Did you know that they were married? She and Anakin?"

Rex's face registered surprise, for he in fact did know, but hadn't expected that Organa would. "Yeah, I've known for a while," he said.

"I just found out," Organa said. "I imagine they've felt compelled to keep it secret, given the strictness of the Jedi code."

"Excuse me sir, but Anakin Skywalker is here," announced Organa's aide over the comm.

"Let him in," Organa said. He stood up and smiled when Anakin entered the room. "Anakin, it's good to see you."
"Thank you, your Excellency," Anakin said. He turned to see Rex and smiled. "Rex, I didn't expect to see you here."

"I figured I could be useful to the Chancellor," Rex explained. "I have to admit that I'm surprised you've come out of hiding, sir. What's the plan?"

Anakin looked at Organa. "The plan? To stop the clones and restore the Jedi Order," he said. "Do we have any idea how many Jedi are left?"

Organa shook his head. "I'm afraid not," he said. "I haven't felt it safe to recall those who went into hiding, not until we get confirmation that all the clones have heard and obeyed the cease and desist order."

Anakin nodded. "How do you plan to do that?"

"I've been contacting the commanders of each squadron," Rex said. "There's really no other way to make sure they got the order."

"I suppose," Anakin agreed. "But that could take a while. Have the Kaminoans given any assistance?"

Organa scoffed. "They won't even admit that they had any part of this conspiracy," he said.

"Unbelievable," Anakin muttered. "Perhaps I can get them to cooperate," he said.

"How?" Organa asked.

Rex looked at Anakin and smirked. "You might not want to know, sir."

Padmé arrived at the capital two days after Anakin. She brought Dormé with her to help with the babies. She had not heard from Anakin since he had returned, except when he let her know that he'd arrived safely. Given the current situation, it was important for him to maintain radio silence. She understood that, and knew that he was undoubtedly busy putting his plans into place. She just hoped that whatever it was he'd planned, it would work and the nightmare they'd been living in would soon be over.

Luke and Leia had just gone to sleep whenPadmé was contacted by Chancellor Organa.

"HelloPadmé, are you all settled in?" Organa asked.

"For the most part, yes," Padmé replied. "The twins are asleep and I'm getting unpacked."

Organa nodded. "I'm sure you understand that our friend is unable to contact you," he said.

"Of course," Padmé replied. "Is he all right?"

"Yes, he's fine," Organa said. "He is one his way to Florrum right now."

Padmé frowned. "Why? Isn't that rather risky?"

"I trust that he knows what he's doing," Organa said. "He has friends there, after all."

Padmé realized that he must be talking about Obi-Wan. "I'm glad."

"I won't keep you, Padmé," he said. "I just wanted to see if there was anything you needed."

She smiled. "My husband," she said. "But given that isn't possible right now, nothing. Thank you."

Organa nodded. "This will be over soon, Padmé," he said. "I'm hoping you'll return to the Senate. Your absence has been keenly missed."

"In time, perhaps," she replied. "Luke and Leia are too young right now. Perhaps in a few months, if the offer is still open."

"Consider it an open invitation," he said. "No expiry date."

Padmé smiled. "I like the sound of that. Thank you, Bail."

"You're very welcome. Please don't hesitate to contact me if there's anything you need."

"I will. Thank you, Bail."