- Death-Major Character
- Death-Minor Character
- Action Adventure
- Science Fiction
Obi-Wan bore left, zooming through the gap between two asteroids. A few ships had pursued them across the first few systems, but he’d managed to shake them a few hours back. Still, he continued flying cautiously, trying to be unpredictable so they wouldn’t be able to find them again.
Padmé was in the passenger seat, holding a sleeping Leia in one arm while her other hand rocked Luke’s capsule. She looked much more comfortable with them than she had before, although she still seemed shaken from the encounter on Eriadu.
Erisi had retired to bed once they got clear, taking her turn sleeping.
‘They’re growing so big,’ he said, glancing over at Leia as he straightened their course.
‘Mm.’ Padmé smiled down at the girl before sighing. ‘I’m sorry we didn’t tell you when we first found out I was pregnant. We wanted to; we were so excited and wanted to share that with you. But we knew it would put you in a bad position.’
‘I can’t say I wouldn’t have liked to know.’ When Obi-Wan had found out how much Anakin had been hiding from him, he’d been floored. They’d been friends, and Anakin had been hiding a whole double life from him. ‘But I understand. I would have felt compelled to say something to the Jedi Council, and they would have kicked Anakin out of the Order.’
‘It would have broken him,’ Padmé said.
‘Perhaps it would have been better that way. Better to be a broken Jedi than a dead S – ’ Obi-Wan cut himself off, not wanting to risk hurting Padmé by finishing that comparison.
Padmé shook her head. ‘It would have turned out the same way. Being a Jedi meant everything to him. If anything, it would have made him more susceptible to Palpatine’s influence, especially after the nightmares started.’
‘Do you think this was inevitable, then?’ Obi-Wan asked, curious. He couldn’t believe that, and he couldn’t imagine her believing it either.
She didn’t reply at first, her eyes unfocused as if she were lost in thought. When she did speak, her words were hesitant. ‘Not inevitable, no, but the possibility was there from the start. The traits that made Anakin so brilliant and effective also meant there was always the risk of him going too far one day. Once, he suggested…
‘Well, it doesn’t matter what he suggested. I had hoped being a father would temper that part of him – that giving his children a happier childhood than he’d had would help him heal.’
‘What did he suggest?’
For a moment, he didn’t think she was going to respond. Then, in a rush, she said, ‘That a dictatorship might not be so bad if it were led by the right person.’ With a sigh, she continued: ‘It was a few years ago – long before he was turned. It was just a spur-of-the-moment thought, but at the same time, the foundations were there.’
Over the past few weeks, his anger with Anakin had started to abate, leaving only questions behind about what he could have done differently. This was one that he hadn’t considered before.
Had the Jedi been wrong to demand such total control over and suppression of one’s emotions? Justice had to be objective to be fair, and it would be wrong to use their abilities for selfish ends. But perhaps denying and suppressing their emotions wasn’t the way either. If Anakin had been able to marry openly, or if Obi-Wan had made him talk to someone about his childhood when he first became a Jedi…
He hadn’t even thought about it at the time. Having joined the Jedi Order at a young age himself, he couldn’t remember his own family and hadn’t fully grasped how important it was. Could all this have been prevented?
‘Maybe you’re right,’ he said. ‘Maybe Anakin needed to be part of a family.’
Something in his tone or expression must have alerted her to the direction his thoughts had taken, for Padmé rested a hand on his forearm. ‘Neither of us are to blame here. It feels like it sometimes, but the only people who were at fault were Palpatine and Anakin.’
Reaching over, he squeezed her hand briefly, knowing that she had to be feeling just as conflicted as he was. ‘One day, we will bring him down.’
‘One day,’ Padmé agreed, moving her hand back to continue rocking Luke’s capsule. ‘First, we have to work out where to drop Erisi off.’
The topic had been a source of strife for them over the last few hours. They were both in agreement that they couldn’t ask Erisi to continue on with them. She hadn’t known how dangerous the trip might be when she’d agreed to come with them, and they couldn’t ask her to go further without telling her the truth – yet the situation with Kalei had proven that they couldn’t afford to trust outsiders on this.
Yet they still needed access to a healer for both the twins and Padmé. They’d considered hiring a new healer who didn’t know where they’d started to help conceal their trail, but then it came back around to a question of trust. Besides, with Palpatine on the lookout, constantly stopping at different ports would just be courting unnecessary danger.
‘And what to do after that,’ Obi-Wan said. Their discussions had reached a standstill on that front.
Padmé sighed. ‘I’m just glad we only told Kalei what we absolutely had to. If I’d slipped up and mentioned where we’re going or that there are two of them… or even if I’d introduced you as anyone other than my partner…’
The weight of the disaster that could have befallen them was huge. It would have been easy for a casual gesture or comment to have betrayed them and undermined all of their protections. ‘But you didn’t. We told her nothing. All she knew was that there were two of us, and Palpatine already knew that.’
It felt like he’d been doused with cold water. The back of his neck prickling, Obi-Wan turned, and his fears were confirmed.
Erisi stood in the doorway, her hair mussed and her eyes dazed as if she’d only recently woke up. Guilt was written across her face. ‘I came in to see if you needed anything,’ she said. ‘I didn’t hear much, just…’
‘Just enough.’ Obi-Wan was torn. This would complicate things. He could make her forget what she’d heard, but it felt like it would be a betrayal of what the three of them had gone through together.
If he didn’t, then when they let her off the ship, they would have to rush out of that system and hope she hadn’t arrived early enough to realise Obi-Wan wasn’t the children’s father. But how could she not have? And if she were able to put the pieces together, would they lose her loyalty? Could they even trust her around the twins anymore?
‘Yes, not that it was surprising.’
Obi-Wan’s eyebrows raised in shock. ‘What do you mean?’
‘It all makes sense now. I knew you were on the run from someone. And you’re a Jedi, aren’t you?’ she asked, looking at him. ‘I saw your weapon on Eriadu. I’ve never seen a lightsaber before, but it couldn’t be anything else. If a Jedi is running, the person who’s chasing them has to be powerful. It makes sense for it to be the Supreme Chancellor. You’re the one he put out the alert for, aren’t you? Padmé Amidala.’
‘You understand now why we’re concerned about secrecy,’ Padmé said, not answering directly.
Obi-Wan let the ship idle so he could concentrate. ‘Where do we stand now?’
‘Why is he chasing you? Did you commit a crime?’
‘No, we didn’t. He wants to take Luke and Leia because, as the children of a Jedi, they are going to be powerful.’
Erisi nodded slowly. ‘Then we’re in the same place we were before. As far as I’m concerned, if you don’t want him to find you, I don’t want him to, either.’
‘How long until the children and I will be safe to travel without medical aid?’
‘You could do it now, but I would prefer to continue the treatment longer so your grounding is more solid first.’
‘You want to stay?’ Padmé asked, surprised. ‘Even though we’ve lied to you?’
‘You’re my patient, and I care about your progress. If I leave now, you won’t get another healer, will you?’
‘Probably not,’ Obi-Wan admitted.
‘Then how can I leave?’
Obi-Wan and Padmé watched one another.
‘I appreciate the offer,’ Padmé said, ‘but after what happened on Eriadu, we can’t take a risk like that again. I’m sorry; I will be forever grateful for your help, and I wish we could accept.’
‘That’s the only reason you’re refusing?’
‘Is it not enough?’
Erisi turned to Obi-Wan. ‘I’ve heard that Jedi can read minds. Is that true? Do it to me.’
Obi-Wan was shocked. Most people were scared of Jedi and what they referred to as their “mind tricks”. He had never had someone ask him to use one on them before. ‘It’s not reading minds, exactly. It’s compelling someone to do a certain action, which could include telling the truth. Are you certain? It doesn’t hurt, but most people find the haze that comes over them unpleasant.’
His voice flat and dispassionate, he said, ‘Tell me your true intentions towards us. Do you have any plans to do anything that might be considered betraying us?’
Her eyes grew hazy, and her voice was monotone as she replied, ‘I do not intend to betray you. I want you to evade your pursuers, and to continue to treat the woman introduced to me as Corina.’
It took a few minutes for Erisi’s expression to clear and sharpen again. By the time she was back to normal, having confirmed that the experience had been uncanny but not painful, Obi-Wan and Padmé had reached their decision.
‘Erisi, we would love you to continue with us for as long as you wish,’ Padmé said. ‘But first, my name is Padmé, and this is my friend Obi-Wan.’
M’haeli was stunning. As Padmé lowered the ship into its atmosphere, she was met with the sight of vast plains and extensive mountain ranges. Erisi had suggested the planet as their next destination, stating that it was somewhere she’d always dreamed of visiting. Padmé and Obi-Wan had acquiesced, reasoning that it was safer to choose a place with no connection to either of them.
Since the day when Erisi had discovered the truth, they had stopped by an out-of-the-way outpost to get three sets of fake identification papers for each of them – one for now, one for later, and one in case of an emergency – and to replace their ship again. The Eriaduan guards had most likely reported the kind of ship they’d been chasing to Palpatine.
Before they’d left the outpost, they had finally given Anakin a funeral pyre on a grassy atoll overlooking a lake that glittered in the sun. His body had been perfectly preserved, but it had felt surreal not to cremate him until months after his death. At first, she had been constantly on edge, feeling like she might shatter at any moment. Now, while she was still heartbroken, she felt more put-together.
She’d cried, but she hadn’t wept.
He’d deserved better. But then many people did.
Staring out at the beautiful scenery, Padmé felt the hope that had been stirring in her chest begin to fan into a flame. After months in space, constantly fleeing and travelling from place to place, the twins were finally going to get the chance to experience what having a home felt like.
The several months they’d spent on M’haeli had been a time of healing for all of them. They had bought a small cottage, funded by the credits they had left after constantly downsizing their ship, and settled into a routine. The twins were much bigger now, and no matter what happened in the future, Padmé would always fondly remember N’croth, its capital city, as the place they’d said their first words and taken their first shaky steps.
For once, it felt like she could breathe, the weight that had been ever-present since Anakin’s death fading. It still snuck up on her on occasion, but those moments were becoming further and farther between.
Information about what was happening elsewhere in the galaxy was hard to acquire. They’d been trying to learn whatever they could, but most people on M’haeli didn’t care about news from long-distant systems. That was both a boon and a hindrance, allowing them an anonymity that kept them safe while also meaning they had to make sure not to appear overly invested in Coruscant.
However, they had heard enough to piece together a general understanding of what was going on. While he was yet to openly condemn them, Palpatine had passed a series of laws to restrict the influence of the Jedi, playing off the populace’s general distrust towards them. Nevertheless, the Jedi were still fighting the clones, holding the line.
They knew it was going to get worse, but when Padmé had asked Obi-Wan if he wanted to go back, he’d refused.
Still, it was time for them to leave, as bittersweet as it would be.
Padmé had started to view N’croth as home, and she would have been happy to stay longer. But Padmé had reached the point where she no longer strictly needed Erisi’s help, although she would miss her friendship and support. And they still wanted to change identities one more time, cutting the last ties to their old lives before settling down permanently, and it would be better to do so before the twins got any older to help prevent confusion.
They had held off until after the twins’ first birthday, wanting to share the day with Erisi, but it had reached the point where they couldn’t delay any longer. If they did, they might never leave.
‘Thank you,’ Padmé told Erisi as they parted. ‘We can’t tell you where we’re going, but if the day comes that we can be open about who and where we are, please find us.’
They had told the healer she was welcome to continue on with them if she wished, but she had chosen not to. Instead, she planned to remain on M’haeli for several more months, exploring more of the planet than just the capital, before finding another patient to leave with. ‘One day, I may want to settle down in one place,’ she’d said. ‘But for now, I like travelling too much for that.’
As Padmé and Obi-Wan boarded the ship once more, she didn’t feel the sense of grief she’d thought she might. Instead, for the first time, she was full of excitement for the future.
Ben, Falynn, Link and Marri Botein arrived on Bakura a few weeks later. It wasn’t the planet Padmé and Obi-Wan had initially decided on; they had followed Erisi’s lead in choosing a place without a connection to either of them. Far enough away from the central systems that they were unlikely to be recognised, and busy enough that nobody would even realise they were new, it seemed like the perfect place to disappear.
Ben and Falynn were teachers who had been born and raised in a small, isolated town amid the mountain ranges before moving to Gesco City for access to healing services when Falynn fell pregnant – or so the story went.
They would have to work, of course. Padmé and Obi-Wan’s supply of credits was enough to sustain them for a long time, but Ben and Falynn’s wouldn’t have been. But Padmé thought that would do the twins good; while she never wanted them to experience poverty like Anakin had, she wanted them to relate to the common people in a way that even she herself had sometimes struggled with.
When the twins were older, Obi-Wan would begin to teach them the ways of the Force, and Padmé would tell them everything: the truth about their father, their past, and who they were: colloquially Link and Marri Botein, legally Luke and Leia Kenobi, and biologically Luke and Leia Skywalker.
From there, they could choose who and what they wanted to be. They might stay on Bakura for the rest of their lives as Link and Marri. They might join the Jedi Order as Luke and Leia, following in the path of Anakin and Obi-Wan before them. They might choose another path entirely.
She would wait only as long as she had to – only until they were old enough to understand why it was so important to keep up such a front. After all, secrets, lies and broken vows was what had gotten them there in the first place.
For now, subterfuge was necessary for their continued survival. But when the time came to overthrow Palpatine, victory would not be achieved through lies and deceit, but through truth and transparency.