She had expected the ship itself to be some great ominous black thing with menacing lines, designed to strike fear into the hearts of all who saw it approach. But instead it was just a simple grey shuttle, nicely streamlined and looking only big enough for four. She wondered if there was medical apparatus on board to deal with the possibility of her going into labor. She was close enough to term now that it was a risk. Or would have been, if she and Anakin had really intended to go with them.
Deceiving two Sith Lords wasn’t an easy task. At least neither was going to pretend to actually feel anything for them other than what they really did feel. Though Anakin was going to have control his anger and fear, because the two Sith could use it against them.
She moved closer to him as the ship landed. Partly for reassurance, but mainly because the success of their ploy depended on the Sith assuming the Force coming from her was in fact coming from Anakin.
The two Sith Lords were both old men dressed from head to foot in black with black cloaks. Their lightsabers were strapped to their belts-did that mean they had fallen for the it? Or that they just wanted Anakin and Padmé to believe they had?
“So...” The man they recognized as Darth Sidious, the Master, was close to them, but not quite close enough. “Her powers failed to manifest to the Hundred’s satisfaction, I believe?”
“And they kicked us out,” said Anakin. “After all the work we’d done, they told us we were worthless.” There was genuine frustration coming from him, which Padmé would have to ask him about if they survived this.
“So you wish to join us, instead?” As Sidious spoke, Padmé noted that he barely looked at her, and his apprentice did the same, which expressed their opinion of her, since they seemed to genuinely believe she could not sense the Force.
“I will pledge myself to your teachings.” Anakin even let go of Padmé, and they must have all felt her distress at losing that contact, and got down on his knees, trying to get closer to Sidious, but the dark lord took a step back.
“Will you, young Skywalker?” The Apprentice suddenly loomed over him, close enough...but they needed to use the element of surprise to take Sidious out.
“A very good question, Lord Tyranus,” agreed Sidious. “After all, there can only be two Dark Lords of the Sith.”
“I am not asking to become a Sith,” Anakin replied. “I wish only to serve the two of you.”
“I sense a good deal of deception in you, young Skywalker,” Sidious scoffed. “How long will you serve us until you attempt to kill us both one day? You have two children on the way with which to replace us both and then some.” Good, that was what he was supposed to think the deception was about.
“I know better than to challenge anyone as powerful as you two.” But Sidious was keeping his distance now, from them both. Padmé tried not to fear he hadn't fallen for it; she suddenly thought him sure to detect that.
Until he lunged at Padmé and before she could react she was pinned down with the blade of his red lightsaber at her throat. “Would you prove that? Would you let me kill her?”
“NO!” Anakin had no control over his reaction; it was instinctive, prompted by his sometimes too volatile heart.
“No?” Sidious turned his head away from Padmé, but she could feel his sneer. She had her hand on her lightsaber, but she probably couldn’t be fast enough. “Why not? If you truly desire the power the Hundred deprived you of, she will hinder you. I know enough about her to know that. And a servant has no need of children.”
“No, please, don’t kill Padmé. I can’t live without her.” Anakin had dropped all tricks and attempts at deception now, which was nearly enough to make Padmé panic.
“You really do mean that, don’t you?” He pulled away from Padmé so swiftly she hit the ground hard and needed a moment to regain her breath. “You know, that is not an attitude I particularly like in my servants. Can you prove yourself worthy being my servant despite it, I wonder?”
Anakin looked so completely flustered that Padmé decided she had to handle this herself. “Would you throw away two possible extra servants out of paranoia?” she asked.
He turned back to her, and he looked genuinely astonished. He obviously hadn’t been expected her to even have any opinions to offer. “Think about it,” she urged. “They’ll be yours from birth, and with my husband as the father they’ll both be very powerful.”
Anakin too was just standing there staring at her. But Sidious was now looking very intrigued. “You would let me have them, Amidala? You did not seem to me to be so mercenary a woman.”
This close, and Padmé was paralyzed with fear. She dared not be otherwise; otherwise he might sense the deception and all would be lost. “Do I have any choice?” she said, for lack of any other good reply.
He seemed to accept that for an answer. Then he put a hand on her belly, and it was a good thing she'd put it like that, because there was no way she could suppress her revulsion, how sick it made her that she had to let him, let him get his filthy hand so close to her innocent children, and it was all she could do to restrain herself from a useless attempt at striking.
He closed his eyes, and she knew he was about to try to commune with her babies, somehow. Touch them with his darkness, let that possibly be the first thing they were aware of when they entered the universe.
What Padmé would have done, or not done, had Anakin not acted, she would never know.
With another cry of “NO!” he ignited his blade and charged. Half in a trance as he was, Sidious had time to whirl his own blade around, but Padmé madly grabbed at him and somehow forced his arm away, and with one stroke, Anakin severed his head.
Behind them, Darth Tyranus started to laugh.
She turned to look at his mad grin and glinting eyes, and heard Anakin say, “Wait a minute. You could have stopped me.”
“But I did not want to. I admit, I would have preferred to kill him myself, but one way or another, it is done. Now tell me, were you really thinking of joining us, or were you trying to lure us to our deaths here? You can admit it if you were, Skywalker, because I think I will have you anyway.”
“Never!” Anakin cried, and threw himself at Tyranus, while Padmé hastily released her fear into the Force and also leapt to her feet and ignited her lightsaber.
Tyranus summoned his former Master’s lightsaber and with a blade in both hands parried their first strikes. “Come now,” he said to them, “you are not that foolish, either of you. I sense great fear in you, Skywalker. You have anger, you have hate, but you don’t use them.”
He matched them both; when Padmé used the Force to keep pace with him he merely raised his eyebrows and responded in kind. “Do you not know they will throw you out anyway, once she’s given birth? If you joined me, you could retain your current power...you could surpass it!”
“Anakin,” Padmé replied to him, “that would take you down a path I can’t follow.”
She meant it as a simple statement of fact, but she saw how Anakin looked from her to Tyranus, as if he had genuinely been tempted, then saw the Sith Lord grin, then frown, and advance hard on her, rage blazing in his eyes. Which left her no time to react, no think to think at all. As his blade passed too close to her face, her world narrowed by necessity to two blades clashing against to each other at lightning speed, and the vague awareness of two more too close, and too still.
Then the Force shoved her back into the rocks, knocked her against them multiple times. She frantically tried to buffet herself while holding her lightsaber up in front of her body, knowing it was the only thing that was keeping Tyranus’ blade from running through her heart. Her ankle hit a rock at the wrong angle; she cried out in pain, and thought she wouldn't be able to move.
Then Anakin was next to her. He grabbed her arm and a warmth flowed to her ankle and numbed it. Along With it she felt his mind clear; he had been tempted, but that was over.
They flew at Tyranus together, and which one of them did it she never knew, but suddenly one of his hands flew free of his body, but still he fended them off with one blade only.
Yet he fell back and back, until his back was against the cliff.
“Now!” Anakin yelled, and he thrust forward and under Tyranus’s arm, but even as their opponent was sliced in half, he brought his own lightsaber down, and when the two pieces of his body fell to the ground, the two pieces of the man who killed him fell next to them.
Padmé’s lightsaber fell quietly to the ground besides the remains of both men, and she fell herself to her knees, clutching at her ankle as the pain returned, and sobbed. “I should have known,” she cried to the darkening sky. “That day in the cave...I should have known it was this.” And she had accepted it, even not knowing, because she also knew the alternative would have been suffering and death all over the galaxy; logic could determine that easily.