Title: "The Light and the Dark"
Chapter 1 in the "Heart and Soul" series. (1/5)
Part 1 of 2
Written by: Shawn
Summary: An unexpected Separatist attack 'accidentally' reunites two star-crossed lovers, giving them a brief moment of peace at a time of war.
Timeline: Obviously, knowledge of Star Wars: Episode 1 and 2 is needed. This story takes place one year and eight months after the beginning of the Clone Wars. Padme and Anakin have been married for that long. Check 'Authors Notes' for more information.
Disclaimer: George Lucas and Lucasfilm owns everything. I just want to give Padme and Anakin a happy, albeit passionate ending. Oh, by the way. I loved Episode 3!!!!!!!
Authors Notes 1: In this universe, the Clone Wars will last three and a half years. It's commonly known that Anakin and Padme were seperated for five months before Episode 3 when Obi-Wan and Anakin were dealing with the Outer Rim Sieges. This story picks up one year and eight months after Star Wars: Episode 2, and will take us through the Clone Wars and up until Anakin's moment of truth in the Episode 3. From there, I take things in my own direction.
Authors Notes 2: While slightly overdramatic as a couple at times, I also imagine a passionate, playful, deeply loving relationship between Anakin and Padme. They have so little time together, so when they have a chance to steal a moment together, it can go from intense to sweet to passionate and back again in a heart beat.
Authors Notes 3: Dorme, Padme's handmaiden and best friend in this story knows of her marriage to Anakin. Obi-Wan only suspects more is going on than he knows but, but elects not to pry.
A Republic Assault Cruiser
Currently located in the Far North Quadrant
One year and eight months into the Clone Wars
The darkness seemed to go on forever.
Alone on the bridge of the Republic Assault Cruiser 'The Engager,' Anakin Skywalker leaned against the railing, peering out over the long, wide glass hub into the endless black of space. He knows where he is, and that is not where he longs to be. Duty, he's sick of it, and yet cannot escape it's grasp. Having just left another newly liberated world from the Separatists, the communication awaiting them when they boarded the ship from Mace Windu informed of two other worlds requesting immediate assistance from the Republic, as Separatists forces were feared in the area, but had not attacked as of yet.
Despite his adamant argument to his Master that other Jedi be sent to assist the threatened world, Obi-Wan told the newly knighted Jedi they would be patrolling the area because Supreme Chancellor Palpatine mandated it himself. It seems those worlds mine minerals key in creating fuel for the Republic Military. Political issues as always. As a known defender of Palpatine, Anakin hated him at the moment. Not only had their troops seen non-stop hostile action for the last two and a half months straight with no rest period whatsoever, but he had not seen nor heard from his wife in all that time.
And that is killing him.
Shutting his weary eyes to the vastness before him, Anakin considered the differences he felt as his hands rested on the railing. His gloved hand only registered the solid weight of the railing, and that it was sturdy. His flesh and blood hand felt the coolness of the metal, as well as faint scratches along the surface. Minor details for sure, but acute enough for him to still feel half a man. Though his mechanized self only accounted for his arm from his elbow to his hand, sometimes he felt the cold metal run far deeper than that. Often times worse the longer he's apart from Padme.
Even thinking her name breaks his heart.
The squeaks and beeps of droids could be heard behind him in the distance. Maintenance bots performing their hallway duties while the crew slept. It's very late, and Anakin knows he should be asleep as well. Force knows his body needs it. He's exhausted beyond words, both mentally and physically, nursing an assortment of aches and
pains. His soul thirsts for it's mate, especially at night when the loneliness threatened to crush him. His eyes long for the sights of war to never grace his field of vision again. Death. Blood. Pain. Screaming. Hate. Rage. Violence. He can't seem to run fast enough, or far enough to escape them. There is no peace for him here. There is no peace for him anywhere his Angel is not with him.
In his minds eye, Anakin imagined Padme asleep in her apartment. She enjoys the majestic shadows of Coruscantís night sky cascading into her bedroom, so she leaves the curtains partially open. Just before bed she sprays on this very light floral perfume. The scent of which Anakin would sell his soul to inhale right now. His throat clenched from the memory alone. She told him she never slept in the nude before she met him, but since they've married she enjoys it, though only when he sleeps with her. She feels safer that way. His thoughts of her now give him something to at least hold on to. A reason to keep going, if for no other reason than to see her again.
The hilt of his lightsaber brushed his wrist, cool to the touch. Almost cold. Obi-Wan once told him that weapon is his life. No, he often wanted to tell his Master to his face. My life is Padme Amidala Skywalker. Any other title I hold is simply my duty to the Republic. Smiling to himself on the dimly lit bridge, he tried to imagine his Masterís face if he said those things to him. Obi-Wan Kenobi was many things, but speechless was never one of them.
Whatever his response, even if laced with some disappointment, Anakin longed to see it.
The war's dragging on for too long, with no end in sight. Count Dooku is plotting on one side of the galaxy, General Grievous is attacking on the other. Always moving, hiding, working in secret despite being out-manned and
out-gunned. So how are they holding their own almost two years into this war, with the Republic's clone army now numbering well over three million? Anakin did not know the answer to that question, nor did he care a great deal. At last he's a full Jedi Knight, and he can set his sights on becoming the youngest master ever, if he actually cared. With the infighting, finger pointing, and whispers of corruption surrounding Palpatine, the Senate, and even the Jedi Council, Anakin of late wished them all away to nothing. If they only knew their HoloNet-crowned 'Hero' of the war, their 'Chosen One' would gladly toss his lightsaber out of the nearest air duct if Padme wanted a life on Naboo free of the endless bickering. On her word alone, he'd be gone so fast their heads would spin. Damn any accusation or threat, he'd leave all of this behind.
In his quarters at night he's had fantasies of building and flying advanced starships on Naboo, and then coming home to Padme in the evening. He has a ego and everyone knows it, but like his marriage in secret, his other secret is that he covets a far simpler, quiet life than anyone could imagine. All Padme need do is ask him to leave the Jedi Order, and it will be done that very second. No hesitation. With maybe, even a smile.
"You should be resting, Anakin," came a familiar voice behind him, steps approaching. "You've been up nearly thirty hours straight."
"I don't require a lot of sleep, Master. You know this. I've never slept particularly well."
Watching his Padawan closely, Obi-Wan joined him by his side, looking out into space, wishing he could see what Anakin did. He can sense the restlessness in his mood. Can feel it through the Force. It's somewhat disturbing. "I know you aren't pleased that we have a new assignment already."
Anakin's gaze remained on some far away place. "Our non-clone crews have been pushed to their limits, and even the Clone troopers aren't performing up to their capabilities. The Engager needs to be outfitted with new deflector shields, and we are short a full compliment of gun ships. A new assignment so soon, without any rest period or a chance to re-arm isn't the smart way to go into a fight."
"We are in a time of war. Sacrifices must be made."
"Sacrifices are one thing in the face of no other options. There are other options here."
"Perhaps your good friend Palpatine might listen more closely if you spoke to him yourself," Obi-Wan offered the suggestion carefully, gauging Anakin's reaction.
"I'm sure if he requested us specifically, then he has a good reason for doing so. His belief in our abilities is a compliment, but this is not a wise move. I don't agree with him."
For once, that was the exact response Obi-Wan hoped for. He's worried far to often in recent months over the growing friendship between Anakin and the Supreme Chancellor. "I see Palpatine is capable of being wrong in your eyes."
Turning towards his friend, Anakin quirked a brow, "You doubted that?"
Such an Obi-Wan like thing to say. Sighing, Anakin relaxed a bit, crossing his arms over his chest. "I'm sorry if I sound bitter, Master. I'm just frustrated."
"As we all are," Obi-Wan assured him. "Surely you don't think I want to sleep in any more tents or fend of anymore bugs or eat that atrocious canned meat product while waiting days for our trapped enemies to either give up or fight their way out."
"Actually, that canned meat isn't all that bad," Anakin considered with a grin wide enough to lighten his mood.
"I truly believe you will eat anything," Obi-Wan smiled.
"And for a Jedi Master, you are awfully picky about your food."
As if a breeze of fresh air blew in, Obi-Wan felt his friends mood shift to a better place. Sometimes all he needed to have with Anakin was the one thing he struggled with. Patience. "I am not a picky eater. I simply need to know what it is I'm eating. Can you honestly say you know what species of animal that canned meat comes from?"
Thinking it over, Anakin had to let that argument go for another day. Before he said another word he suddenly felt a intense wave of emotion come over him. A faint sense of peace and joy entwined with danger. It's been so long since he experienced something so profound that he blamed fatigue more so than trusted his senses. At that very moment Obi-Wan's communicator beeped.
Flipping the silver device, Obi-Wan answered, "Yes?"
'General Kinobi, we have a situation that calls for your immediate attention.'
"Go ahead, Commander Cody." Anakin flanked him close from behind.
'It seems a secret meeting between representatives of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine and the Banking Clan was to take place on the orbital space station of Orion Yves three hours ago. Apperantly, there was some hope of bringing the Banking Clan back into the Republic.'
"Orion Yves isn't far from here," Anakin added, to which Obi-Wan nodded.
'The Corellian Mining Freighter ship the representatives of the Supreme Chancellor were flying in was attacked when a Republic refueling shuttle suddenly and severely disabled their vessel. It appears that Separatist forces learned of the secret meeting, hijacked the shuttle, and were going to use it to assassinate the representatives. The Republic fighter escort were scattered and seperated, but the representatives ship managed to fend off the attack when boarded. Their ship's engines are working at half-power and injuries are being reported. They are requesting immediate emergency assistance.'
"Send word to the Jedi Council and the Supreme Chancellors office, then take us at our top speed to their signal and have three battalions and two medical shuttles ready for launch when we arrive."
'As you wish, General Kinobi. Commander Cody, out.'
Obi-Wan turned to Anakin, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder. "This is a minor rescue operation. The attack has ended and the investigation can begin. I shall handle this personally. I want you to go to your quarters and get some sleep." Halting any sort of a rebuttal with a carefully held palm between them, Obi-Wan
added, "That's an order, Anakin. You're no good to me if you're dead on your feet. The med-droids and doctors onboard will see to the survivors, while our investigative crews will begin conducting interviews. This might stall us a day or so from our new mission, so I implore you to gain any rest you can from it. There's no way for us to know when we'll get another short break."
Something's still tugging at the back of his mind, though he can't quite reach it, not even with the Force. He can sense a presence... as well as his own exhaustion. Pushing those thoughts aside, he nodded. "Alright, Master. Contact me if you need me." Returning a friendly pat on the shoulder, he walked past his Master, descending the short steps leading to the bridges entrance doors. "Goodnight."
A Corellian Mining Freighter
Currently located near the Far North Quadrant
"How much longer before help arrives?"
"Another fifteen minutes, I presume," Captain Typho replied, standing just to the right of Senator
Amidala. Although he feels he knows her as well as she allows anyone to know her, he often wondered what she found so interesting when she gazed into the darkness of deep space. Especially without any surrounding planets in the vicinity. Sometimes she'd stare for over hours, her eyes ever so sad. "We were lucky to find a Republic Assault Cruiser in the area."
"Yes, we are. A little to lucky if you ask me."
He knew her well enough to recognize the ominous reflection in her voice. "What are you thinking?"
Turning away from the window overlooking the blaster-riddled hull of the freighter, she shook her
head. "What are the odds of us being within range of a Republic Assault Cruiser when we were assured by the Supreme Chancellor that all Republic Military vessels would be as far away from the meeting place as possible to avoid attention?" She waited as he considered her words, ever respectful of her keen mind. "Something doesn't add up."
"That is curious, I must admit. Most curious."
"We have always had spies in the Senate, but this feels different."
Captain Typho peered out at the ships hull, gauging the damage for himself. At least life-support and power hadn't been damaged severely. "If they wanted to assassinate us, why not aim for the fuel cells? These freighters weren't built with armament to withstand a blast like that. This ship would have exploded instantly, killing all of us."
"Unless they wanted to kill most of us, but not all. That's why they boarded the ship."
"If this was a kidnapping attempt, it was a poor effort indeed. Separatists droids are usually programmed better than this if their intent is to abduct someone in particular."
"From your military experience, do you feel the attack was sloppy?"
His hand rubbed at the stubble on his chin, pondering her request. "The security signal transmitted by the refueling shuttle had a Republic clearance level of nine. That level of clearance is so high I just don't know how the Separatists gained it without inside help. The attack wasn't sloppy, it just didn't make sense. They made no move to single anyone out, nor did they just kill us all when they had the chance."
Inside help. Padme feared as much. It is the only thing that makes sense. There are far to many possibilities, and far to few answers, at least so far. "Which Jedi command the 'Engager?"
"General Jedi Master Jy'Car and his Padawan Kyss."
Upon learning that their distress signal was picked up by a Republic Assault Cruiser, Padme's heart leapt with hope against hope that maybe, Forced-willing... alas, she had no idea who commanded the 'Engager,' and last she heard Obi-Wan and her husband were on the 'Valiant.' "As soon as they arrive contact me so that the investigation can begin immediately. I need to know what happened."
"I will contact you as soon as they are in range, Senator." Before he could walk away Padme spoke again.
"Thanks again for the extra blaster lessons, Captain Typho. Your insistence that I keep up my skills probably saved my life tonight."
They shared a friendly smile, apart from their rank. "You have always been a very good shot. You saved more than your own life tonight."
"I appreciate that. Thank you."
"You are most welcome, Senator." With a curt nod, he disappeared around the corner, on his way.
Despite her wired mood, Padme set about a aimless stroll down the rusted corridor of this old freighter. Once more, she is alone. Far to many nights have been this way, and even in the wake of yet another life and death situation, she can only think of her Ani. Out there, somewhere, fighting this insane war she neither supports nor fully understands.
To the Republic, the Senate, and the HoloNetís gossip hound reporters, she is the reclusive, single, and somewhat aloof Senator representing Naboo. She's a name behind a title. Senator Amidala. A woman who's entire life has been dedicated to public service, sans a personal life she had little interest in.
Then came that unexpected detour to Tatooine that changed her life forever. Naboo historians will tell the tale of a heroic Queen and her band of Jedi, handmaidens, and guards that fought the Separatists forces off her precious home world, all the while evading a Sith attempting to kill her. The book was written some four years ago. Padme's read it on nights she couldn't sleep, wondering how an author she did not know could uncover so many detailed facts about that time in her life, and yet dedicate no more than three pages to the most important person in her life. The boy she met at that time that grew into the man she lives for now. The man she misses desperately.
How could the author know? No one did except her, Anakin, Dorme, and their personal droids. She lives a very public life, and so her public life is reported. There's something to be pleased with that her private life remains so, even in the face of some not so nice exposťís on her that were vastly untrue. Alas, none of that matters. None of it at all.
Stopping at the end of the dull gray corridor, she's gazing outside the ship once more, looking towards the far reaches of space for the world her Ani might be on tonight. She hopes and prays that he is safe and sound, thinking of her as he carries out his responsibilities. She hopes that he can somehow, no matter where he is, feel her absolute love for him, and that her love will give him the strength he needs to survive this war. There's light at the end of this dark tunnel, she longs to whisper in his ear while holding him.
In addition to a bad headache, her right wrist is sore from the hard fall she took when the attack began. The refueling shuttle pulled up alongside the freighter, seemingly about to dock before they made their last space-jump to the secret meeting rendezvous point. Instead of docking, several barrages of laser blasts rocked the hull of the freighter. Then they were boarded by Separatists droids who fired first, asking no questions. In a time of war everyone stays armed. Even Senator's who travel with their own security forces. Never one to sit idly by while others hold her life in their hands, Padme stood firm with the few Republic clone troopers onboard, as well as the other bodyguards and Senators who were willing to fight. For thirty minutes they held off the Separatist forces until a few of their fighter escorts returned and helped them overwhelm the invaders.
At the end of the siege seventeen men and women were dead. At least she won't be counted among them.
Is this what her beloved's life is like every waking moment? Is the threat of death looming closer by the hour? Does his heart pound so hard he worried it might burst from his chest? That's how she felt tonight. That's why she isn't afraid now. She conquered her fear because she had too. Tomorrow night this time she will be back on Coruscant in her secure apartment. Her handmaidens will prepare something good for her to eat. The bed she sleeps in will be soft and comfortable. She'll turn on some light music and finish up whatever work she needs to have done for the next day. She will be safe.
Anakin will not be safe.
The HoloNet broadcasts air the horrors of the war on a nightly basis. Reports on the front lines of thousands killed daily across the galaxy. Hills of the dead, buried together, forgotten individually. Padme's suffered through footage from worlds where entire villages have been burned, and cities scorched from the sky by heavy laser fire. She's listened to the terrible stories of famine and disease. Of genocide and looting. She's seen brief images of such catastrophic destruction that have left her sleepless at night with worry. So she needs no sympathy, nor wants any for what happened tonight. Others are going through far worse. She saves her prayers for them.
And for her beloved husband. She will have no true peace of mind, no real joy until he is in her arms again, and she can hold him to her hearts content. Until that day, she is only surviving as best she can. Par for the course considering the current state of the galaxy.
The secret meeting never took place, and is likely to be discovered was a ruse all along. Further hope dashed that a peaceful resolution to this war could be found, or at least begun. Padme is tired of the mind, body, and spirit. She could use some sleep. A cup of warm Cillian tea would sooth her nerves nicely. She'll try not to think about having not seen Anakin in over two months and a half, nor having any knowledge of his whereabouts. She knows he is alive because from the pit of her soul she knows she would feel it if he died. His death... his true death, would kill her as well. So she hopes that he is strong and on his feet. For him, she will remain strong, as well as for herself.
His strong arms will hold her again.
She will see him again.
The broad shadow of a Republic Assault Cruiser caught her off guard, darkening nearly the entire corridor as it appeared out of nowhere above the freighter. Footsteps approached her from behind. Captain Typho appeared by her side.
"They request we all gather in the hanger immediately, Senator. The Jedi onboard want to begin his investigation immediately."
"Very well." Padme followed him to the nearest working elevator.
Part 2 coming soon.