Disclaimer: I own nothing, if you recognize it, it belongs to someone else. I make no profit for the following.
Constructive Criticism always welcomed. Flames cheerfully ignored. In a galaxy long ago, and far, far, away…
Ahsoka Tano stood inside the mouth of the cave and watched the world go wild outside. She’d like to believe that the storm that raged outside was simply a facet of this world and had nothing to do with what the cloaked figure inside the cave was doing, but being the last of the Jedi she couldn’t allow herself the luxury of that self-deceit. She turned and studied the figure sitting cross legged in front of a fire that was burning blue, a fire that seemed to leap in time with the howling wind outside. The figure was wearing a brown cloak, similar to, but not identical to Ahsokas own. She was chanting in an unknown tongue that sent shivers up and down Ahsoka’s back. After a particularly long and intense string of words, the markings on the ground, invisible until then, sprang into fiery life, a fire that burned with the same intense blue as the flames of the center fire.
Ahsoka suddenly felt a familiar presence in the Force enter the system. Speaking to the cloaked figure she said, “He’s here, you need to hurry up.”
The figure ignored her, continuing her chant. Ahsoka returned to the mouth of the cave and removed her light saber from her belt. She knew it was a useless gesture. Her former master was here, and he would not have to send troops down to kill her and who she guarded, for he was standing on the bridge of a deathstar. Within a half hour, at the most, the battlestation would be within range of the planet and he would simply destroy it, and the last two individuals who fought his reign.
The chanting behind her rose to a fevered pitch and she turned back to see the cloaked figure gracefully go from a lotus position to a standing one arms outstretched in supplication, the fire flared and Ahsoka felt something move through her, something that seemed to study her, to learn her, then depart. The fire and the symbols glared for a moment so bright as to be blinding, then it was only a fire again, sputtering orange and giving a little light and heat to the cave. The figure slumped forward slightly and said, “It’s done,” in a voice that was too husky to determine if it was a man or a woman.
From the back of the cave a loud, slow, clapping could be heard. Ahsoka moved, igniting her lightsaber as she threw herself past the brown cloaked figure she guarded, not even trying to figure out how someone had slipped passed her to get to the back of the dead end cave. A short, hunched figure moved into the fire-light, dressed a fine black robe, “Very nicely played, Senator, I congratulate you.”
The figure in the brown cloak pulled the cowl away from her face and turned to face the speaker. “I haven’t gone by that title for a long time,” she said, her voice somewhat recovered.
“Would you prefer if I called you Padme, or perhaps Amidala?” the figure sneered.
“It is long since I went by either of those too.” She said softly. Someone who knew Padme Amidala Nebari would be forgiven if they failed to recognizer her. Always thin she was now almost skeletal, her once thick brown hair was now pure white and almost stringy. Her deep brown eyes now featureless orbs, her skin parchment thin and stretched over the bone.
“My,” the figure in black sneered, “you’ve looked better,” pushing back his own cloak.
Ahsoka hissed, “This is impossible! You’re dead! I felt you die!”
“You’re correct Ahsoka, that is not who it looks like, it’s much worse.” Padme told the Togruta.
“You are both right and wrong senator. I am Palapatine, he is in me, as are all the dead.” He then stepped forward and Ahsoka didn’t hesitate. The last of the Jedi leaped and slashed through the center of the figure. The Senator had found and saved Ahsoka. She had been living like an animal on the planet where her ship had crashed, several months before Order 66 had been given. She’d felt the other Jedi die, and it had broken her. She was just living day to day, when she had come home to find Padme waiting for her, she’d wanted to run and hide in the swamps, the way she had when the bounty hunters had chased her after her shoot down, but Padme had talked to her, gave her a mission, a purpose again. She wouldn’t fail her the way she had failed the Jedi. Unfortunately, her lightsaber went right through the advancing figure without harming it.
“Curb your pet,” Palapatine snarled.
Loathe at doing anything the spectral emperor suggested, it would still be easier to talk with out the Togruta Jedi bouncing around the cave she said, “Peace Ahsoka, all this thing can do is talk. Don’t let that fool you though; it is one of the most dangerous talkers in history.”
Palapatine smiled, “It’s always nice to be appreciated. I think that’s why I’ve let you live for so long.” He’d reached Padme and began walking around her, head cocked to the side mockingly. “You really didn’t think that I wasn’t aware of your plotting? I could have crushed you anytime I liked. But I decided that I’d save you for something special, do you know what that is?”
“No,” Ahsoka snarled, “But I’m sure you’re going to tell us.” She stalked outside of the emperor, reaching out with the force, what she felt disgusted her, but if it changed enough that she thought an attack would work she’d be all over it.
Ignoring the Jedi, the Emperor continued, “I’ve saved you two for last, because with your deaths I will become corporeal, and then this universe shall be mine, then, all the others.”
Padme, tired after her castings sat on a rock and closed her eyes, “Perhaps it will be as you say, but then again, perhaps not,” Looking up at the figure of the Emperor with sightless eyes she continued, “You cheated.”
“Cheated?” The Palapatine asked in a shocked voice. “How?”
“When you arranged for my son to be killed; a minor thing that no one could ever really tie to you, so minor and trivial that no one would ever realize its significance.”
Palapatine sat on a rock opposite of Senator and asked, “And how would you realize this thing that no one else ever did?”
“I sold my eyes so I could see, First,” Padme replied coldly. “I asked for the knowledge to understand what had happened. I saw what should have been, Palapatine’s death at Anakin’s hands to save our son, instead of Darth Vader striking down his master to complete the Sith Cycle yet again.”
“But you saw that too, so you took action to prevent it. Subtle, oh so subtle, perhaps even more subtle than Palapatine’s maneuvering of the whole Galactic Senate into appointing him Emperor, to make sure that a war he started and orchestrated never happened again.”
“And this subtle thing?”
“You made sure that Luke had a lucky night at Sabec, so instead of heading home early to fix a balky initiator on his land speeder, he stayed at the bar with his friends. The next day his uncle bought a couple of droids. One of them tricked him into removing its restraining bolt and it ran away. The next morning when Luke went to begin pursuit the initiator on his speeder failed, and his uncle was up before he could complete repairs. Owen Lars was still yelling at him when the Storm Troopers followed the trail of the droids to the farm.
“Without Luke, Leia was killed by Tarkin after the destruction of Alderann. Obi-Wan was killed on Alderann, he still had his one man Jedi fighter and a hyperspace sled hidden in the system. He traveled to Alderann to get the information in R2 to the Rebellion. The Rebel Alliance was destroyed at Yavin IV. During the victory celebrations Palapatine let his guard down and Darth Vader killed him.”
“You cheated, that gave me an opening.”
Palapatine studied the ex-senator then turned away contemptuously. “No matter, I’ve seen who you’ve chosen as your champion, though I think I would have requested her after the fall of Sunnydale, rather than while she was sacrificing herself to save her sister. That one would have been more seasoned,” he commented, seemingly disinterested in the proceedings.
Padme shrugged, “She would have also been more resentful. Thinking she had earned her rest, to be thrust into the Clone Wars immediately? No, the one I chose will be thankful of the rest she receives as she recovers from her injuries. As she gets bored she will enter into the conflict on her terms, rather than the Council’s. The Queen of the Slayers would be resentful of the Jedi Council, she has earned her place as a leader and she would not surrender it easily. There would be much friction between her and Mace Windu and several of the other more traditional minded council members. The one that sacrificed herself for her sister will be more amiable for someone else to do the thinking, at least for a while. Once the friction starts, it will be between individuals who have the measure of each other.”
“Bah, that Slayer will pine for her sister that never was; the living Palapatine will recognize this and will use it to twist her to the dark side. You’re plan has failed before it has begun. Soon I will be supreme.”
Palapatine turned and looked. Instead of a shattered, defeated women, he instead saw one sitting there with the ghost of a smile on her face, it was not a smile of triumph, but rather a smile of hope. He was still trying to figure out what it meant when the bolt from the Deathstar crashed through the roof of the cave on its way to the planets core. When he didn’t become material with the death of Padme and Ahsoka the entity called The First screamed in impotent fury. It disappeared into the past to try and undo what Padme had done.