Fandom: Star Wars
Characters: Padmé, Obi-Wan, Anakin, Dooku
Word Count: 4,898
Summary: Padmé and Anakin land on Geonosis, and the Clone Wars begin.
Author's Notes: Another massive update, though not quite five thousand words this time. I seem to be incapable of writing TIS chapters below 4,000 words lately, for whatever reason. Possibly because I have to cram so much into each chapter. But my outline - which I'm still kind of trying to adhere to despite the fact that most of it has been tossed out the window - dictated that I get mostly done with Geonosis in Chapter 10, so that's what I did. Caution: I suck at writing battle/action scenes, so a lot of the actual battle is glossed over in favour of character thoughts, and the beginning action sequences aren't done as well as I'd like. Nevertheless, Chapter 10 got the Katie Seal of Approval(tm) so up it goes. XD And That Chapter is coming up next, the hot steamy one I've been writing and rewriting in my head ever since this plotbunny first attacked, so if you get through my action scenes I promise you a cookie and a hot chapter next time around. ^_^
PERSONAL RECORD: PADME AMIDALA
I can’t sit here and write.
But neither can I sleep.
I thought nothing could be worse than the waiting I had to endure while Anakin was gone. I was wrong.
This is worse, this is infinitely worse. I’m trying to shut out the horrible thoughts that keep coursing through my mind, but I can’t.
I won’t be able to think of anyone or anything else but Obi-Wan until I know he is alive and safe.
“Are you okay?”
Anakin’s soft question nearly caused Padmé to jump through the ceiling of her space cruiser.
“Wh – what?” she stammered, nearly dropping her datapad as she fumbled to put it away.
“I asked if you were okay,” Anakin replied, expertly manipulating the controls to bring them into Geonosis’ atmosphere. “You look like you just saw a ghost. When we watched Obi-Wan’s message I thought you were going to faint.”
Padmé blinked for several moments, carefully crafting an answer under the pretext of looking out the window. “Yes,” she finally answered, not believing the strength in her voice. “I’m fine. See those columns of steam over there? They’re exhaust vents of some type.”
“That’ll do,” Anakin said, still looking sideways at her as if he didn’t quite believe her response.
He has reason to, Padmé thought, because I am definitely not fine.
They landed quickly, masked by the steam, and prepared to leave the ship. Padmé wasn’t exactly sure what sorts of provisions might be needed, nor what sorts of beings they might encounter, so she packed her light blaster, several spare packs of cartridges and three canteens of water. There might still be a way to resolve this without fighting, but I’m not taking any chances.
“Look, whatever happens out there, follow my lead,” she instructed Anakin as she pulled on her white shawl. “I’m not interested in getting into a war here. As a member of the Senate, maybe I can find a diplomatic solution to this mess.”
Anakin rolled his eyes. “Don’t worry. I’ve given up trying to argue with you.”
They headed down the ship’s ramp, coming out onto a small platform cloaked in steam. Wordlessly Padmé pointed straight ahead, and Anakin nodded. There didn’t seem to be anyone – or anything – around, but she had to admit she was very glad to have him with her. She was a good shot, but nothing equaled the efficiency of a lightsaber when it came to deflecting blaster bolts.
A short distance along they came to a heavy steel door, hinged so that it lifted up and out of the way instead of swinging to the left or right. Padmé turned to Anakin, intending to ask whether he thought they should turn back and find another way in, when suddenly the door lifted with a grinding whirr. Slowly, they entered.
Padmé didn’t want to admit it, but she was starting to have second thoughts about this endeavour. However talented Anakin might be – and she knew he was indeed prodigiously so – they wouldn’t last very long if they met a whole army of battle droids, or even an army of Geonosians. There was no telling where the door might lead. Perhaps they were walking into a trap.
Suddenly the idea of the rescue mission seemed very foolish. But she couldn’t give up now; Obi-Wan’s life might depend on their being able to get to him quickly. Padmé knew she would never forgive herself if he perished and she didn’t at least attempt to help him. Well, I might never forgive myself anyway for waiting so long to tell him the truth, she thought. But this is a start.
They crept cautiously along the hallway. Padmé noticed that Anakin’s hand never left the hilt of his lightsaber; he looked ready to draw it at any moment. So he’s just as jittery as I feel. She grasped his arm as something skittered away to their left. “It feels like … like we’re being watched,” she whispered.
“We are being watched,” was Anakin’s matter-of-fact reply.
“Great,” Padmé muttered. “And when exactly were you going to –”
“Wait,” he said, holding out a hand to stop her. They squinted through the gloom, trying to discern the source of the threat, when suddenly –
“RUN!” Anakin bellowed as dozens of flapping Geonosians suddenly poured out of the cavernous walls.
Padmé didn’t need telling twice. She took off at top speed for the end of the hallway, sparing a glance over her shoulder at Anakin. The Geonosians carried small guns that worked a bit like blasters, but he seemed to be holding his own against them. No, better than holding his own, she realized as he finished off the remaining creatures and hurried after her.
Quickly she punched a nearby control panel and a door slid open right in front of her. Padmé scrambled through and nearly fell down – the platform ended there. She had come out into an enormous battle droid factory. Dumbfounded, she blinked and stared around, unsure what to do next.
Footsteps pounded frantically behind her and she put a hand on her blaster, ready to defend herself. But it was Anakin. “Back,” he said, but before either of them could react, the door slammed shut and the platform under their feet started to retract. Padmé took a deep breath and leapt off, landing hard on a conveyor belt below.
“Oof!” she exclaimed, the breath momentarily knocked out of her. Clumsily she got to her feet and immediately had to dive back down as a row of mechanical arms carrying droid parts flew over her head. For the next minutes Padmé found herself ducking, dodging and backpedaling as she tried to avoid the various droid-making machines.
The factory was nightmarishly dangerous. She barely had time to recover her breath before she was scooped up by a Geonosian guard and tossed into a large metal vat used for pouring and compressing molten metal. Padmé would not have found her way out if it hadn’t been for R2D2, who had followed them and was able to plug into the computer system to stop the pouring process.
She lay on a metal drum after rolling out of the vat, panting and gasping and wondering where in the galaxy Anakin could have got to when suddenly, she was surrounded.
At least fifteen Geonosians encircled her, each pointing one of those strange blaster guns straight at her. Slowly and carefully, Padmé got to her feet, her hands in the air. She knew it would do no good to resist. And maybe, if she allowed them to capture her, she could break away and find Obi-Wan somehow.
That was the plan. Unfortunately, it failed almost before it could begin. Padmé was stripped of her weapons and shoved down a long hallway and into a conference room. Seconds later, Anakin was pushed roughly into the same room and hurried to stand behind her.
“Padmé!” he exclaimed. “Are you okay?”
“I think so,” she gasped. “What happened to –”
But the words died in her throat, for Count Dooku had just entered from a door on the other side.
What happened next seemed almost rehearsed, as though it was a prearranged meeting agreed to by both parties. Of course the idea was ludicrous; Padmé had certainly not intended to be captured by Dooku when this began, and she was betting he hadn’t counted on ensnaring such valuable quarry as herself and Anakin. Nevertheless, she had the unpleasant sense that now they were caught, all of this was playing out exactly as Dooku had anticipated.
Anakin shot her a look that said plainly, If you want to negotiate, the time is now.
So Padmé took a deep breath and faced Count Dooku across the table, her arms clasped tightly in front of her. She was very aware that this was the most important negotiation of her career – for Obi-Wan’s life might well be at stake. “You are holding a Jedi Knight, Obi-Wan Kenobi. I am formally requesting that you turn him over to me now.”
“He has been convicted of espionage, Senator, and will be executed,” Dooku said dispassionately. “In just a few hours, as a matter of fact.”
“He is an officer of the Republic!” Padmé answered, her voice rising in agitation despite her attempts to keep it steady. “You can’t do that.”
“We don’t recognize the Republic here,” was the smooth response. “However, if Naboo were to join our alliance, I could easily hear your plea for clemency.”
Part of her was tempted, she could not deny that. As Senator, her words held nearly as much clout at the Queen’s, and if she were to declare that Naboo was leaving the Republic to throw its lot in with the Separatists, the decision would be final and binding. My planet’s allegiance in exchange for my love’s life, she thought. How can he force me to make that choice? He knows what my answer must be.
“And if I don’t choose to join your rebellion, I assume this Jedi with me will also die,” Padmé said, stalling for time.
“I don’t wish to make you join our cause against your will, Senator, but you are a rational, honest, loving representative of your people,” Count Dooku replied, “and I assume you want to do what’s in their best interest. Aren’t they fed up with the corruption, the bureaucrats, the hypocrisy of it all? Aren’t you? Be honest, Senator.”
His words had a ring of truth to them, and she was certain there were many on Naboo who shared his viewpoints. But Padmé had always been taught that the best way to deal with an issue was to work within the framework already provided to solve the problem, not create an entirely new framework. “Suppose you make a new system which then falls prey to the exact same pitfalls that led to its creation?” she remembered one of her mentors telling her. “You will be back where you started and no better off.”
But did those ideals hold up, in the end? Was she willing to sacrifice her life, or Obi-Wan’s, or Anakin’s, in order to see that they were upheld?
She knew that Obi-Wan would give his life in a second to save the Republic. That was why she loved him – she felt the same.
“The ideals are still alive, Count, even if the institutions are failing,” said Padmé carefully.
“You believe in the same ideals we believe in!” Dooku vehemently responded. “The same ideals we are striving to make prominent!”
“But those are the ideals of the Republic as well,” Padmé argued. “There is no need to create an entirely new framework to support them because that framework already exists. If you truly believed in those principles, as you say you do, you would have stayed in the Republic and helped Chancellor Palpatine put things right.”
“The Chancellor means well, m’lady, but he is incompetent,” said Dooku dismissively. “He has promised to cut the bureaucracy, but the bureaucrats are stronger than ever. The Republic cannot be fixed, Senator. It is time to start over. The democratic process in the Republic is a sham. A game played on the voters. The time will come when that cult of greed called the Republic will lose even the pretext of democracy and freedom.”
“Perhaps, but that time has not yet arrived, and until it does, there are many like me who would prefer to work with the Chancellor instead of against him,” Padmé said firmly. “Besides, I know of your treaties with the Trade Federation, the Commerce Guilds and the others, Count Dooku. What is happening here is not government that has been bought out by business, it’s business becoming government! I will not forsake all that I have honoured and worked for, and betray the Republic.”
And you seem very eager to execute Obi-Wan, an indignant voice whispered inside her. That is not something that would happen in the Republic.
“Then you will betray your Jedi friends?” Dooku asked, almost as though he had read her mind. “Without your cooperation, I can do nothing to stop their execution.”
“And in that statement lies the truth of your proposed improvement,” Padmé snapped, unable to hide the irritation that crept into her voice. Irritation that was masking fear, and a deeper anger, and most of all an incredible sadness. Obi-Wan … oh, Obi-Wan, what have I done? I have done my duty, just as you would have wanted. But it will cost you. You’ll pay with your life.
But will I?
“And what about me?” she asked, her tone instantly smooth again. “Am I to be executed also?”
“I wouldn’t think of such an offense,” Dooku said, smirking slightly. “But there are individuals who have a strong interest in your demise, m’lady. It has nothing to do with politics, I’m afraid. It’s purely personal, and they have already paid great sums to have you assassinated. I’m sure they will push hard to have you included in the executions. I’m sorry, but if you are not going to cooperate, I must turn you over to the Geonosians for justice. Without your cooperation, I’ve done all I can for you.”
“Justice,” Padmé muttered disgustedly. It might pass for justice on some worlds, but I can never see it that way, she thought.
She refused to say anything more, and when a few moments of silence had passed Dooku scowled and ordered them to be taken away.
After a mock trial in which Padmé and Anakin were convicted of crimes against Geonosis and sentenced to be executed, the pair found themselves chained inside a small stone cart on a track leading to a gigantic arena. Geonosians were positioned around the cart as guards, but there was no need – neither Padmé nor Anakin had any weapons that they could have used to escape. Padmé’s blaster and cartridges were taken when she was captured, and Anakin’s lightsaber had been cut in half by one of the droid-making machines in the factory.
Padmé stood like a statue in the cart, thoughts speeding through her mind. The rescue had definitely been a foolish idea, but she couldn’t help the sense that she was somehow closer to Obi-Wan than she had been since they landed on Geonosis. There was no sign of him anywhere, yet they were close. She could feel him.
It was just a shame that they would be executed before they could say a word to each other.
Executed … the word sounded so cruel. Killed before she accomplished anything more in the Senate, before she voted against the Military Creation Act, before she visited her parents or nieces or Sola again … before she got married or had children … before she saw Obi-Wan … how could they do this?
“Don’t be afraid,” said Anakin softly.
Padmé turned to him, eyes brimming with unshed tears. “I’m not afraid to die,” she whispered. “Dying for a cause I believe in is how I hoped I would go … I’m just sad that there are so many things I didn’t do. So many regrets.”
“Like how …” Anakin took a deep breath and seemed to be steeling himself to say something. “Like how you never got to fall in love.”
“Oh, I’ve fallen in love all right,” Padmé said bitterly. “A lot of good that will do me now.”
“Padmé, what if we do get out of this?” he asked. “What if by some crazy, amazing coincidence we actually manage to survive. What then? You could still live your life. But live it the way you want to instead of how you’re supposed to.”
“Ani, it’s more complicated than that,” insisted Padmé. “I can’t give up being a Senator or all that I’ve worked for just because I’ve had a near-death experience. Nor would I want to. I love my life. I love everything about my life.”
“No, I don’t mean give it up like that. I mean … add things to it. People. Like a husband. A – a family.”
“Anakin, I –”
“Remember when you and Qui-Gon and Jar-Jar came to Watto’s shop?” he barged on. “I took one look at you and I knew, knew in that moment, that someday I would marry you and we would have kids together. I was nine, I didn’t even know what half of it meant, but I know now it was the Force showing me a vision of the future. Don’t you see, Padmé? It’s your destiny!”
Padmé blinked. For a moment she had no idea how to respond. “Ani, I really don’t know if it is,” she said finally. “I’m not a Jedi, but … isn’t it more likely that you were being shown just one possible future, out of the dozens that must have existed? When you told me you were going to marry me we had only known each other for about five minutes. Qui-Gon could very well have walked out of that shop with the hyperdrive parts and I never would have seen you again.”
“But – but – that’s not the way these things work!” Anakin persisted. “I know what this vision was telling me. It was telling me my destiny. Yours, too. I think –”
He broke off as the cart suddenly lurched forward on its tracks and began moving towards the arena.
“Anakin, please,” Padmé said, feeling a lump constricting her throat. “You decided that you weren’t going to fall in love with me, remember?”
“I can’t help it, Padmé!” was his fervent response. “I need you. You keep me calm, centred, focused! I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have you to …”
His voice trailed off as he realized Padmé was no longer facing him. Her gaze was fixed instead on three poles in the centre of the arena. Obi-Wan was chained to one of the poles, watching their approach. And – was it Padmé’s imagination or could she read something like … relief on Obi-Wan’s face?
He’s probably just happy to see Anakin and I in one piece, she told herself.
She turned her attention to the two poles next to Obi-Wan. It didn’t take a telepath to surmise what was to happen: she and Anakin would be chained or tied to those poles and whatever horror awaiting them would be unleashed while they stood defenseless. Rather boring for the audience. I think I know a way to at least give it its money’s worth.
As she was pulled roughly from the cart and shoved over to a pole by two Geonosians, Padmé carefully kept her shackled hands near her waist, using them to hide her fingers fumbling in her equipment belt. At last she located a small wire and on the pretext of brushing a strand of hair back from her face, she stuffed the wire in her mouth. She then allowed herself to be chained up, listening to the conversation between Obi-Wan and Anakin.
“I was beginning to wonder if you’d gotten my message,” Obi-Wan was saying as he watched a Geonosian drape Anakin’s chains over the pole.
“I retransmitted it just as you requested, Master,” Anakin replied. “Then we decided to come and rescue you.”
Obi-Wan snorted. “Good job!”
Padmé glanced around to be sure no guards were watching, then slipped the wire out of her mouth and began to pick at the lock securing her cuffs to the chain. It was a simple enough device, and it popped free after a few minutes of experimentation. Quickly she grabbed the end of the chain and began hauling herself up the side of the pole. Seconds later she crawled up and over the side and heard Anakin mutter, “I have a bad feeling about this.”
Padmé spared a look over her shoulder at the arena and saw three gigantic, nightmarish creatures approaching. A green insectoid acklay that walked on six pointed claws was tottering towards Obi-Wan’s pole and a red four-legged reek plodded towards Anakin. A third monster with bristling fur and a mouth wide enough to swallow a human body in one gulp headed in her direction.
“Just relax and concentrate!” Obi-Wan said.
“What about Padmé?”
Obi-Wan looked up at her and Padmé smiled reassuringly. “She seems to be on top of things,” he noted.
She barely had time to chuckle before the monster – which she heard someone in the crowd refer to as a nexu – had reached her pole. Woman and beast eyed each other for a few seconds. Then, in the same instant, both acted.
The nexu sprang up the pole and Padmé, realizing immediately what it was going to do, spun around. Next moment a searing pain ripped through her, but the last-minute turn had served its intended purpose: the nexu’s razor-sharp claws missed her stomach and chest area, sparing her vital organs. There were four deep slashes in her back, which felt as though it was on fire, but they would heal with proper treatment. As quickly as she could Padmé turned around and whipped the monster across the face with her chain. It slid halfway down in its surprise.
While it was distracted, she then tossed the free end of the chain over the pole, grasped it firmly and leapt away. Her equilibrium carried her around in a circle to kick the creature directly in the stomach. This time it fell completely off the pole and stayed down. She sighed, temporarily relieved, and climbed back up to perch on the top.
Padmé continued to pick at her shackles while she waited for the nexu to regain consciousness, gazing around at the arena as she did so to see what had become of her friends. She was impressed but not really surprised to see that Anakin seemed to have tamed the reek and was riding it through the arena. And Obi-Wan … her breath caught. He had stolen a spear from one of the Geonosian guards and was attempting to fend off the acklay without much success.
He won’t last much longer with his hands shackled, she thought, and had a sudden idea.
“Anakin!” Padmé called. “Over here!”
Anakin brought the reek over to her pole, goring the nexu to death in the process. He nodded to show he understood her intentions. “Jump!”
Padmé did just that, landing neatly behind him and wrapping her arms around his waist. She felt him tense for a moment at her touch, but next second thought she must have imagined it because he flicked the reek’s reins nonchalantly and made it gallop towards Obi-Wan and the acklay. Padmé held out a hand and Obi-Wan hopped aboard.
“Thanks,” Obi-Wan panted.
She allowed her hand to brush his leg for the briefest of brief moments – to make sure he was secure, she told herself – and then had to fight for control as she felt his hands slide around her waist. In a different situation, Padmé would have found that touch unspeakably erotic. As it was she took a sharp, uneven breath and resisted the urge to clasp his hands and move them lower. This was not the time.
Later, she promised herself. If we make it out of this.
In the years to come when Padmé looked back on Geonosis, she often found it difficult to remember what events had occurred next, and in which order. The memories presented themselves in a series of flashes, like a speeded-up holovid. Droidekas uncoiled in front of them … lightsabers ignited all over the arena, carried by Jedi who had come to rescue them … all hell broke loose as an army of battle droids marched in and the Jedi were forced to engage … she, in the middle of all this, using a stolen droid blaster to pick off the enemy’s mechanical soldiers … the surviving agents of the Republic being backed into a small circle as gradually the army proved too much for even the Jedi.
It was at this point that her memory became clear again. Dirty, exhausted and soaked with sweat, Padmé stood in the centre of the circle next to Anakin and Obi-Wan. She had a sense that the situation was coming to a close, for better or worse, and that in a few moments they would be dead or something miraculous would happen. She didn’t reflect on the fact that she, Obi-Wan and Anakin had survived their “execution”; there hadn’t been time for that. As with everything in the arena, thoughts and emotions were shoved aside by adrenaline to be dealt with later.
Later. Later. Later. It was becoming a mantra.
Padmé leveled her blaster at the approaching super battle droids, ready to go down fighting. Her finger was on the trigger when suddenly the droids folded their weapon arms and were silent. The little group looked around, puzzled by the abrupt show of mercy.
“Master Windu, you have fought gallantly,” announced a formally-accented voice. Everyone turned to see Count Dooku gazing down at them from the dignitaries’ box, a small smile on his face as though he were quite enjoying the affair. Which, Padmé reminded herself, he probably was.
“Worthy of recognition in the archives of the Jedi Order,” continued Dooku. “But now, it is finished. Surrender, and your lives will be spared.”
“We are not hostages to be bartered, Dooku,” Mace Windu snapped immediately.
Padmé jumped slightly as a sweaty hand found hers. Turning to her left, she had to work hard to suppress further surprise as she saw that the hand belonged to Obi-Wan. He met her gaze steadily and with a gentle smile. She allowed her hand to slip into his, and he squeezed it in comfort.
“Then, I’m sorry, old friend,” Dooku replied, not sounding very sorry at all.
He raised his arm, no doubt to order the battle droids to resume their firing. Padmé gave Obi-Wan’s hand one final squeeze in return and gripped her blaster with both hands, moving her finger towards the trigger. But … something wasn’t quite right. There was a distinct roar coming from – above their heads? Confused, she looked up and gasped.
Dozens of gunships were moving into position over the top of the arena, bearing white-armoured humans and, most puzzling of all, Master Yoda. Padmé didn’t waste time trying to solve the mystery. Instead she exclaimed, “Look!”
All eyes glanced upwards and then abruptly back to the battle on the ground as the droids opened fire. But this time the Jedi and Padmé had a means of escape, for the gunships were landing and creating cover fire as Master Yoda beckoned everyone to climb aboard. Anakin and Obi-Wan spun their borrowed lightsabers furiously to provide cover for Padmé so she could clamber aboard one of the gunships. As soon as they were all aboard, it lifted off.
Padmé thought before that the battle was confined to the arena, but as the ship flew higher she realized what a foolish assumption that had been. Thousands of the mysterious white-armoured soldiers were setting up encampments and making use of various items of weaponry to hold the line against the droids that the Separatists were deploying. But where in the galaxy had they all come from?
A loud explosion sounded behind them and as the dust cleared, a small figure on a speeder bike became visible, fleeing the battle. “It’s Dooku!” Anakin exclaimed. “Shoot him down!”
“We’re out of rockets, sir,” the pilot responded.
Clones! thought Padmé. They’re all clones!
“Follow him!” Anakin snapped.
The pilot obeyed instantly, without regard for the fact that blasterfire and flak was exploding all around them, causing the ship to rock backwards and forwards. “You’re going to need some help!” Padmé exclaimed.
“No, there’s no time!” Obi-Wan shouted back. “Anakin and I can handle this!”
Padmé bit down on her sudden fright. True, it would be two against one, but she had seen enough of Dooku to suspect that wouldn’t matter. Obi-Wan is a Jedi, she reminded herself. It’s his duty. And if they catch Dooku they can end the war right now, before it gets worse. So she bit down on her fear and filed it away, as she had with so many other emotions, to be dealt with later.
The two fighters flanking Dooku’s speeder banked suddenly away and were behind the gunship and firing before the clone pilot could take any evasive action. The ship bucked violently as it was hit. Padmé barely paid attention; her mind was whirling with ideas to help Anakin and Obi-Wan. Dooku probably has a secret hangar somewhere. Once he gets there I can use the gunship’s radio to signal more clone troopers and Jedi who can come and help. But we need the coordinates first.
She was completely focused on her plan, and it was that, perhaps, which caused her to hang on less securely than she should. The gunship was rocked so violently that it was flipped nearly on its end. Anakin and Obi-Wan, their Jedi reflexes trained on the present, were able to stay inside with a few quick scrambles and the assistance of the Force. But Padmé lost her footing and tumbled out.
She plummeted towards the ground and was only dimly aware of hitting it, hard … rolling over and over, all of her body stinging and smarting with the impact … and then everything went black.