With a sigh Padmé sank into Anakin’s arms, letting their bodies curl around each other. Both his hands stroked her hair; at least he wasn't shy with the metal one anymore. “What a day,” she moaned. “Ever since this war began...”
“At least the day’s over,” said Anakin.
Then the console beeped.
“Ignore it,” he urged her.
“You know I can’t,” she replied, and distangling herself from him went to answer it.
It was a good thing too, because the comm turned out to be from Bail Organa. “Padmé,” he said, “Senator Taa’s just been to see me. He claims to believe there is a Separatist threat from within all our refugees on Alderaan.”
“He’s really sunk so low?” Padmé asked, appalled.
“I was shocked too, but there you are. If he shows up at your place tonight, be ready for him.”
“Senator Amidala is not seeing anyone else today,” Anakin cut in.
“No, Anakin,” replied Padmé sadly, “if we try turning him away we’ll be handing him fuel.”
“She’s absolutely right, Captain,” Bail added. “Sit there, hear him out, then remind him of all the reasons why his theory needs a lot more backing than it has, thank him for his concern, and send him on his way. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to contact the other Senators with refugees on their worlds.”
“Of course. Goodbye, Senator.”
When she turned the comm off Anakin carded his hands through her hair again, and pulled out a couple of the pins. Her scalp felt the relief immediately, but she said, “Ani, I *will* see him.”
“You don’t have to keep your hair up for him.”
“Yes I do,” she said, swatting his hands away. “Surely you’ve seen by now how people jump on people like me when we have a curl out of place. I wouldn’t put it past Taa to bring a reporter with him...”
“But wouldn’t it look strange if it’s this time of the evening and you’re still looking perfect, almost as if you expected him?" He pointed out. "I have seen enough to know we’d be giving Senator Organa trouble if we let them think that.”
“True...but don’t undo it entirely-leave the base ponytail as it is.”
Anakin was no hairdresser, but that was straightforward enough. He worked quickly too. He was just clapping his hands and saying, “Done,” when the console beeped again. “Do you think that’s Taa?”
“Probably not...” It wasn’t. When Padmé saw the identity of the sender she ordered a delete and pressed through the confirmation.
“Who was that?” Anakin asked, looking very surprised indeed.
“Some crazy concerned citizen who is convinced that Palpatine’s gay and keeps sending me concerned messages about it. There are no words for how much I don’t want to deal with him.”
“He’s from one of those planets?”
“I don’t know; he’s never said what planet he’s from. He expresses concern that Naboo might object. He might even believe it; it’s easy for an outsider to get confused about the attitude of the nobles.” Then the console beeped a third time. “I hope that’s not him again.”
This time it was a no-response-expected message that looked to be from a Senator she could not immediately recall much about. It was text-only, consisting of five words: “Everyone turn on your holofeeds.”
“Turn on our holofeeds?” asked Anakin. “What for?”
“I don’t know, but it looks like it’s been sent to everyone in the Senate.” She glanced over the co-recipient list as Anakin went to turn on the holofeed.
“-number possibly into the thousands.” When Padmé turned around, she saw on the screen an image of a society in flames. Somewhere on a planet she had never seen before, tall buildings were burning in front of the holocam, while at the bottom of the screen a terrifying amount of smoke obscured where the true death and destruction had left the ugliest remains of its carnage.
“Lilost Darunnip, Senator for the Tion Cluster, has been notified of the attack on Jaminere, and we are waiting for a comment from him," the news anchor was saying. "We have heard from one of his aides.”
They showed a clip of the aide speaking. In stages of grief, he seemed somewhere between shock and anger. “I am sure the Senator is as pained and concerned as I am to hear of this horrible tragedy," he was saying. "All I can think right now is ‘Why?’”
Was he thinking Why us? Or was he thinking Why are we at war anyway? Padmé couldn’t guess.
The anchorbeing was back on screen, and was saying, “Well, I am sure he speaks for all of us right now, wherever we are. A terrible, terrible massacre. I’ve just received word that our correspondent from the Tion Cluster is en route to Jaminere, and hopefully will be able to give us a more full update on conditions there.”
Then the console beeped again. Padmé seriously considered not answering, but in the end her sense of responsibility won out and went over to the console to see who it was. When she saw the ID, she very nearly didn’t answer anyway.
It was with great reluctance that she finally brought up the image of Onaconda Farr. “Yes, Senator?”
“Senator Amidala. I haven’t caught you at a bad time, have I?”
It was a game Padmé wasn’t in the mood for. “I am watching the news about the attack on Jaminere just like everyone else is. What is it you want from me?”
“So you have found out what has happened, I see. That saves me the trouble of telling you. I hope you will consider, Senator Amidala, the implications of this attack.”
There was little that disgusted Padmé more-and she had spent over two and half years now in Galactic Senate-than this kind of political maneuvering. She was so angry she didn’t even try to hide it. “I will think about them, Senator Farr, and at great length, but now is not the time for that. If you have nothing more to say to me then good day.” She cut the transmission on him with his snout raised very high.
She turned back to the holofeed but the console promptly beeped again. Assuming it was Farr calling her back, she turned around and had her hand on the delete when she saw it was Bail again. She hastily switched buttons to bring him up.
“Padmé,” he said, “Senator Taa came back. He’s gone home now. Says he’ll be meeting with you and all the Senators from worlds with refugees, but he’s not going to start until tomorrow at least.”
At least he had some sense of decency, unlike Farr. “Thank you for telling me, Bail. I don’t think I could meet with him right now.”
“I know,” Bail agreed. Then she saw him glance down at his console, and his expression turn ill. “Senator Farr is calling me.”
“You can probably deal with him better than I did,” Padmé noted. “Are you going to answer?”
“I really have to, don’t I? I’m sorry. Bye.”
“Bye.” The transmission cut. Padmé closed her eyes, spent several seconds exhaling, and nearly jumped when the console beeped once again.
She didn’t recognize the sender this time; the message was no-response-expected. When she commanded the console to play it the room was blasted by corny music and a loud voice demanded, “How is your sidereal shaping up? Are you-”
The voice was cut off as Padmé deleted the message. From across the room Anakin sighed. “Advertisers! Why did the filters have to fail now?”
The holofeed was now showing two people talking. “...or just to wreck general havoc,” one of them was saying to the other.
“But wouldn’t an area further into the galaxy be more suited to that purpose?” asked the second.
Then the console beeped again.
“That’s it!” Anakin exploded. “I’m turning that thing off!”
“You can’t,” Padmé protested, but she lacked the will to stop him. Before he powered it down she caught a glimpse at the ID but didn’t recognize it. Feeling numb, she walked away from the console and plopped herself in front of the holofeed. Anakin was right; this would probably be enough to deal with at the moment.