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Saga Wife of Deceit, Book 3: A Terrible Game--Palpatine's First Lady pre-ROTS--Completed 3/30

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by DarthIshtar, Jan 24, 2009.

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  1. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    Title: Wife of Deceit, Book 3: A Terrible Game
    Author: DarthIshtar
    Timeframe: one month post-AOTC through the beginning of ROTS
    Characters: OC's, Palpatine and cameos or minor roles by everyone you can think of
    Genre: Drama, Angst, Romance, Humor.
    Summary: The story of Palpatine's wife throughout the series.
    Notes: If you're looking for books 1-2 (In Love and Truth and Taken For Granted), you can find them [link=http://boards.theforce.net/the_saga/b10476/27422970/p15]here[/link] and [link=http://boards.theforce.net/the_saga/b10476/28473734/p10]here[/link] respectively. This is Book 3 of 5 and will be the longest, since it's covering three years instead of a few months. I'll keep it as concise and well-paced as possible. As always, concrit is welcome, just not in the thread. PMs have to be asked for. And while I realize that Palpatine romance is yucky to pretty much everyone, myself included at times, please be polite about it. So, on with the show!
    *****
    Prologue

    There were few things as comforting as the weight of a newborn child in her arms. The galaxy was not at peace?it might never know the meaning of the word again?but for now, that did not matter. There was a perfect child cradled against her chest who accepted what comfort she could offer and returned the favor.

    The little one had finally fallen asleep again mere minutes after she had awoken, but Amne was far from joining her. Her eyes stared at the structured shadows beyond the terrace through a haze of exhaustion and grief, but her mind was terribly active. Even if she could not make much sense of what thoughts raced through her synapses at unhealthy speeds, every one of those thoughts left a trail of condemnation behind.

    She had only read the message that came through just after midnight once, but it had burned itself into her memory. She could not forget a single word of it if she tried and she had exhausted her ability to cry on the first flight from Coruscant. Now, her throat ached and her eyes burned, but she could not weep for the news that she had received.

    ?You should have woken me.?

    Amne turned her head just enough that she could watch Vali's approach. Her sister wandered onto the terrace as if sleepwalking, but her gaze was fixed protectively on the child in Amne's arms. Without a word, Amne handed her niece over, but remained in a sitting position on the long, low bench that she had occupied.

    ?How long have you been out here??

    ?Twenty minutes,? Amne admitted. ?Yla was making quite a racket and I didn't want her to wake up the entire household.?

    ?Including her mother,? Vali sighed. ?You shouldn't have to...?

    ?I couldn't sleep,? Amne interrupted. ?I had rather let you sleep a few hours in the meantime.?

    Without waiting for an invitation, Vali slid onto the bench and bumped her gently with her hip. Amne obligingly slid over enough so that they could all fit onto the bench that faced the sea. Vali did not speak for a long moment; she had harbored Amne for four weeks and they had repeated a similar scene in various rooms of the house at least three times a week since her arrival. She did not need to ask what was keeping her only sister awake. There were a thousand answers.

    Finally, she handed Yla back to Amne as if sensing that Amne needed her more than Yla needed her mother. Since her three-week-old niece had miraculously slept through the transit, there was no arguing with that logic.

    ?You shouldn't be out here,? Vali murmured. ?Someone might see.?

    Of course. There were spycams on patrol at this hour of night in this sector of Antibes just in case she happened to leave her hiding place.

    ?What was it tonight??

    Amne shifted Yla to her other arm and handed the datapad over. Vali gasped immediately at the fourteen-word message that had been all that an Imperial Intelligence operative named Jes had felt comfortable sending to a wanted fugitive.

    Delani killed during questioning. They will probably go to your friends on Alderaan next.

    ?I'm leaving as s
     
  2. RK_Striker_JK_5

    RK_Striker_JK_5 Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Jul 2, 2003
    Okay, the first part of that was heartbreaking. Poor Amne, there. :( :_| Nowhere to go, no one to turn to without hurting them...

    So, a new office/safehouse/thingie? That last line, though... urgh. *Clutches stake driven through heart* ;) Wonderful, Ish. More, please?
     
  3. Alexis_Wingstar

    Alexis_Wingstar Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2006
    Amne shook her head, half in denial of the idea and half in bittersweet amusement. ?When did you become the optimist in the family??

    Vali wrapped an arm protectively around her shoulders. ?When you forgot how,? she responded honestly.


    The close sister bond between these two is beautiful. This is a depressing story, but very well done. Don't forget to keep me on the PM list. :D
     
  4. Kyana-Morgaine

    Kyana-Morgaine Jedi Youngling star 2

    Registered:
    Oct 29, 2004
    Oh, wow...I really missed two updates of book 2 and the start of book 3.:oops:

    Please put me on your pm list, so I won't miss any chapter again. I really love this story! Can't wait how it'll end for Amne getting known to a very "different" Cos.
     
  5. Kyana-Morgaine

    Kyana-Morgaine Jedi Youngling star 2

    Registered:
    Oct 29, 2004
    Up!

    Another two months have passed...
     
  6. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    During which I had pneumonia, a cancer scare, my computer died and I had exams to do...and worked 40 hours a week. My post was on my computer. In other words, I'm trying!
     
  7. Alexis_Wingstar

    Alexis_Wingstar Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2006
    *Hands you a slingshot and rotten eggs to combat DRL*

    Now that you are well armed, you have no excuse! :p

    Seriously though, just 'cause we're looking forward to the next update, don't feel you have to rush writing it. I'd rather wait for a superb update than for a rushed mediocre one. *hugs*
     
  8. Kyana-Morgaine

    Kyana-Morgaine Jedi Youngling star 2

    Registered:
    Oct 29, 2004
    I'm sorry to hear that. Had had a knot 10 years ago...and computers, well, ...they always die when you need them :lol. As mine just before the due date of my master papers.
    I'm going to wait as long as I need!
     
  9. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    In the early days of their friendship, Bail Organa had made it perfectly clear that Amne was always a welcome guest at the Consulate. That had been enough for her to make a regular habit of visiting and the staff was accordingly and embarrassingly prepared to wait on her hand and foot.

    Bail was in a conference when she arrived, but within five minutes of her arrival, Amne had been ushered into his private reception area and supplied with a hot cup of riktal tea and julaberry tortes. Since she had chosen a relatively formal green knee-length skirt and off-white tunic, it made her feel as if she were having an afternoon tea rather than waiting for a conference with a Senator.

    When Bail entered, he looked anything but relaxed. She immediately stood, but let him make the first move so that she could gauge the tone of the meeting. He bowed formally and she reluctantly mirrored his formality. Once he had darkened the tint on the windows, however, he retrieved one of the tortes and sighed like a wearied child before dropping himself into the opposite chair. A moment later, one of the stewards brought an extra teacup and poured a serving for him.

    ?My apologies,? he murmured once he?d swallowed his first torte. ?I?ve spent the last two hours haggling the particulars of a vote with the senior Gran Senator.?

    If she recalled correctly, the senior Senator had been one of the most vocal proponents of the Military Creation Act. ?That sounds unpleasant,? Amne said frankly.

    He nodded and offered the plate. She took another torte, but refrained from eating it for now.

    ?Thank you for coming,? he said after another moment?s pause. ?I?ve been meaning to speak to you since Geonosis, but things have become?complicated.?

    That was something of an understatement. There had been nearly as many pieces of legislature proposed as there had been casualties and as a member of the Military Oversight Committee, Bail had been given more responsibility for directing the votes than he had before the outbreak of war.

    ?You?re managing remarkably well,? she assured him. ?It?s a relief to know that someone is working day and night to ensure that the Republic we knew ante bellum still exists when the Separatists sign an armistice.?

    In the wake of the declaration of war, she had resurrected an old campaign tactic. When dealing with the uncertainty of elections, she had spoken of things as eventualities rather than possibilities. It gave others hope to hear that she was willing to publicly believe in a successful outcome to the war.

    Something sparked in Bail?s eyes at her comment. ?That is my hope as well,? he commented, ?and my reason for asking you to come here today.?

    Amne took a sip of her tea and gestured with the teacup. ?Go on,? she invited.

    He set his own teacup and saucer on the end table so that his hands could rest in his lap. ?There are many in the Senate who have the same goals as the Loyalist Committee,? he stated. ?War creates a great number of patriots in our midst and those of us on the Committee are seeing the results of that. It?s reflected in the number of resolutions that I see every day in which senators propose less ambiguous constitutional restraints on emergency powers.?

    ?I think that some of the strength of the Republic rests in its constitutional ambiguity,? Amne said carefully. ?For all of the framers? wisdom, it is prudent to give the governing bodies of the Republic freedom to adapt the articles to the needs of the people.?

    She stopped herself and hid a slight blush behind her teacup. ?I?m sorry,? she commented. ?I sometimes sound as if you should remember this for next week?s exam.?

    He cracked the first smile of the meeting. ?Not to worry. I am guilty of the same crime.?

    It was her turn to smile, since he had been the instigator of more than one filibuster in his time in the Senate. Rather than ask more questions, she set down her teacup and waited politely and patiently for him to explain why they were there.

    ?As I said before, there are any number of assaults on the Republi
     
  10. RK_Striker_JK_5

    RK_Striker_JK_5 Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Jul 2, 2003
    Great to see this updated again, Ish. :) Wonderful talk between the two, there. And good to hear Amne would stand up against Palps. Great show of strength, there. Can't wait for more!
     
  11. AngelQueen

    AngelQueen Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 1, 2001
    Oh excellent update!
     
  12. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    The safehouse at 500 Republica had started out as a last resort, but more and more, it felt as if the Chancery Mansion was nothing more than a summer home. It was not unusual for Cos to spend days away at a time and Amne, unable to intrude on meetings at a moment?s notice, instead waited for him at the lavish apartment that they should not have needed yet. It gave her time with him, but it never felt like home.

    Tonight, she had anticipated a relatively empty house. The servants and aides would be there at their appointed times, but the current crisis had been occupying her husband?s time for the past three days. Instead, he found her a little after 2100 in her private office.

    She looked up from the hutch along the right-hand wall and smiled. ?I didn?t expect you back this month,? she teased quietly.

    ?Nor did I,? he confessed. ?To be frank, I?m avoiding your brother-in-law and thought I?d kill two birds with one stone.?

    With the annual address to the Senate scheduled for the next month, she could hardly blame him for avoiding his speechwriter. ?I could make a call to Vali, sympathize with her about absent husbands and convince her to make him call in sick for a few days??

    ?A tempting offer,? he admitted as he greeted her with a kiss to the cheek. ?What have you been doing for entertainment??

    ?Answering correspondence and preparing lesson plans,? she responded. ?I was just about to finish the internship recommendations for the Spring term.?

    ?Ah.? He reached over to rifle through the datacards labeled with students? names. ?Would you recommend any of them to my staff??

    ?A few, but I don?t want to give them an unfair advantage,? she pointed. ?The liaison can take care of it.?

    She reached into the cabinet and removed one of the objects stored there. It was common for people on various worlds to present gifts to her, but this was the most simple and one of her favorites. The stuffed animal didn?t look strictly like one of the varieties of banthas on the artisan?s world, but it was the thought that counted. It had been presented to her by a Wookiee child who was still half her height while she was staying in their home during a summit.

    ?What?s the situation on Kashyyyk?? she asked after regarding it for a long moment.

    ?Unimproved,? he supplied. ?The 37th Regiment attempted to retake the capital this morning and were unsuccessful. In retaliation, one thousand prisoners were executed in one of the concentration camps.?

    Amne blanched and replaced the bantha in the cabinet. ?It will be some time before they make another attempt, then,? she murmured.

    She could not help but wonder where the child had been when the roundups began and if his family had been in the camp affected. Pushing that to the back of her mind, she turned.

    ?What is the plan??
    He sighed and withdrew to the chair opposite her desk. ?Clone Intelligence is assessing the status and we?ll know by morning how many further troops we should prudently commit to the next rescue effort,? he stated. ?The Trandoshan slavers and Confederate forces sustained considerable damage, so they may be willing to negotiate.?

    ?Doubtful,? she responded immediately. ?Were their allies willing to negotiate at Naboo or Geonosis??

    He gave her a grim smile. ?Precisely my argument. For all of my loathing of war, the Trade Federation has a history of what young Skywalker might call ?aggressive negotiations.??

    She had not even thought of Anakin Skywalker in a week. She had begun to think of the warriors in collective groups rather than individual members. It was not a pleasant habit, but it kept her from ignoring the issues and needs of the many. It was a mark of how frequently Cos had been absent that he hadn?t been mentioned.

    ?Will he be involved??

    ?I doubt it,? Cos stated. ?He and Master Kenobi are needed in the Mid-Rim efforts.?

    That was something of a relief. Even with the additional support, it was more than likely that the other side would be reinforcing as well. With them firmly entrenched on a world where both ground and aerial assaults w
     
  13. RK_Striker_JK_5

    RK_Striker_JK_5 Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Jul 2, 2003
    That was a rather... sweet scene between Palps and Amne, there. The bit with the bantha dool, aww.

    Great little interlude, there. Can't wait for more. :D
     
  14. Kyana-Morgaine

    Kyana-Morgaine Jedi Youngling star 2

    Registered:
    Oct 29, 2004
    Great update! I'd loved the interaction between Cos and Amne; really sweet and intimate!
     
  15. Kevin_Solo

    Kevin_Solo Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 22, 2007
    After finishing my comments on Book 2, I went here to see what's been posted, and find it very good!=D=

    Prologue

    Things are appropriately nasty.:_|:mad:[face_skull][face_pumpkin] As I thought, this is after RotS, when Palpatine is Emperor, with Amne on the run, taking temporary refuge with her family:

    She broke off at the enormity of that lie. Of course there was a place she would rather be--at the side of the man she had married?but he no longer existed. The man who now called himself Emperor Palpatine was an impostor and the woman who had called herself Lady Palpatine had died in the fall of the Republic.

    I'll be very interested to see how you bridge the time gap between there and the end of Book 2, Ish.:D[face_thinking]

    I loved this bit best, of Amne holding her little niece:

    There were few things as comforting as the weight of a newborn child in her arms. The galaxy was not at peace?it might never know the meaning of the word again?but for now, that did not matter. There was a perfect child cradled against her chest who accepted what comfort she could offer and returned the favor.

    The little one had finally fallen asleep again mere minutes after she had awoken, but Amne was far from joining her. Her eyes stared at the structured shadows beyond the terrace through a haze of exhaustion and grief, but her mind was terribly active. Even if she could not make much sense of what thoughts raced through her synapses at unhealthy speeds, every one of those thoughts left a trail of condemnation behind.


    I'm sure she's also thinking of her dead sons.:_|:_|[face_praying] Her desire to leave her family out of things for fear of reprisals is sad, though understandable.:( :(

    Chapter 1

    The acquiring of safe houses was understandable after Amne's kidnapping, and the described assassination attempt. I liked how you described Palpatine's behaviour in acquiring it:

    Cos had obviously not brought her here for her blessing, but for her input. He had ushered her into the spacious living room and then allowed his staff to pull him aside on a matter of urgent business while she surveyed their second home.

    She had just finished her self-guided tour when he returned to find her in the library. He claimed that she had the option to veto the apartment, but the staff had already brought in half the contents of his office bookshelves.

    ?You approve?? he asked.

    She had to gather her thoughts before replying, lest she say something that might offend him. Frankly, while the design closely resembled her parents' home in Crevasse City, it would take an emergency for her to want to even visit the place.


    Well written!=D= While I wouldn't call his behaviour abusive, the way he pushed the place on her was disturbing.[face_plain][face_frustrated] I liked her reference to the rental cost.:D Both are even on amicable terms here:

    ?This is to be my second office,? he reiterated. ?You are here to decide if it is acceptable as a second home.?

    She grimaced. ?As last resorts go, it is acceptable,? she granted. ?If the Separatists invade Coruscant, though, you should probably look for me in the basement of the Mansion.?

    He nearly laughed at that. It was the first time she had seen him actually smile in days.

    ?I shall bear that in mind,? he assured her, ?and I would like to thank you for that decision.?

    ?Really,? she said.

    He nodded. ?This has two bedrooms. If we are not staying here, then some of my staff have an alternative to sleeping on their office couches after long nights.?

    This time, it was her turn to smile. ?That will make Vali happy,? she commented. ?They've only been married a month and she's already accusing you of ruining her marriage.?


    We already know how it's going to end.:_|

    A meeting with Bail Organa, where all hospitality is offered:

    In the early days of their friendship, Bail Organa had made it perfectly clear that Amne was always a welcome guest at the Consulate. Th
     
  16. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    Note: I will be participating in Big Brother and therefore not posting here for sometime.
     
  17. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    RK_Striker_JK_5--LOL, love the ellipsis in there. :p And the bantha doll was one of my favorite moments. It was partially inspired by the doll in Mulan that they find in the burned village. Thanks. Sorry to keep you waiting so long.

    Kyana-Morgaine--Thanks! Glad you loved that part. And you're one of the few people not having issues with the words "Cos" and "intimate" in the same sentence. Great update! I'd loved the interaction between Cos and Amne; really sweet and intimate!

    Kevin_Solo--Welcome, dear friend! Thanks for finding it very good. :) Why the pumpkin? Yes, if you notice the pattern, the flash-forwards at the beginning of each book are getting closer and closer to the present time. I hope to keep you interested. There's a wonderful cover art in the Archive of Padme sitting against a wall and looking towards sunrise. The scene with Amne and her niece was inspired by that, as well as a scene in "A Time of Confessions" with Bail and Breha sitting on their private balcony with three-year-old Leia. Yes, she's definitely thinking of those. She is a huge liability for anyone who knows her well, as we see with Delani. Glad you liked the behavior description. It's very Palpatine for him to take initiative and then find ways of persuading others to like it. (i.e. "I will make it legal.) Thanks again. Yes, he has his own form of abuse, but it doesn't go that far. On the other hand, Amne is far too trusting of his intentions. She is as naive in some ways as Padme, which is why she remains with him. *Hands over tissue.*
    LOL, Bail I see as a very gracious host when you don't piss him off. :p Of course he's worried. Wouldn't you be? Hmmm! indeed. I doubt that after what happened last time (as she points out) she will tell him that without a lot more mitigating circumstances.
    Wow, corrupt MPs. We don't have any problems with corrupt Senators here in America. [face_plain] Anyway, he probably has checked where the money goes. And no, Palpy isn't entirely stupid. Glad that doll was a nice tuch. LOL, I was wondering when someone would start being grossed out in this installment of the series. Yes, it's a good thing for Amne to still be seeing Dau, though I do need to check the spelling of Dau because in Book 2, he was referred to as Du. I think. If you recall, in Book 1, Zia and Amia talk to her about having a small amount of Force sensitivity. Basically, she has it, but not enough to qualify for the Temple or really have control over it. Thanks again!
    *****
     
  18. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    Sorry I've been gone pretty much all summer, but I had a major crisis of writing motivation and a lot of difficult personal times. Hope you enjoy my 47,000th post!
    ****
    They were in the middle of a staff meeting when a knock came at the door. Nena opened it immediately and stepped aside to let Amia and Uli pass. They came to a stop at the edge of the circle that Amne?s staff had formed and bowed respectfully. She remained seated, but nodded her head in recognition of the gesture.

    ?Milady,? Amia said, ?you wished to see us??

    ?Yes, thank you for coming.?

    This was usually the cue for her staff to leave, but they had fair warning of what she intended and stayed in their seats. Amne gestured Uli and Amia to chairs before tapping a button on the remote control of her desk?s projector so that a display of a world came up.

    ?The Mon Calamari have accepted an offer of help in reconstruction,? Amne explained. ?Obviously, they will be taking care of most underground repairs, but there is much that Republic workers can do in the cities. Since I was just informed that you have been cleared for field work, I would like to request that the both of you accompany us on the mission.?

    Uli grinned broadly at the prospect of getting off-world and even the usually impassive Amia allowed herself a relieved look. She had obviously liked being cooped up in the Temple even less than her Padawan.

    ?It would be our pleasure,? she replied. ?When do you propose to leave??

    ?Two days from now.?

    ?That reminds me,? Dawrin, her communications director, interjected. ?The Chancellor?s press secretary fielded some questions on why we are not focusing our relief efforts on human-populated worlds.?

    Amne flashed him a mirthless smile. ?I hope that he pointed out that we would be happy to help any sentient, human or not, but the fact of the matter is that the Separatists have hardly been attacking Corellia and Alderaan.?

    ?With good reason,? Nena scoffed. ?They?re hoping that Corellia?s ?meditative solitude? means they?re one vote away from joining the CIS.?

    ?And Alderaan is a Core world,? Amne agreed. ?If they need an explanation of our pro-alien stance on humanitarian aid, make sure there are some solid figures and polite statements available to them.?

    ?I?ll see to it,? Dawrin commented.

    ?In a way that doesn?t goad the Separatists into broadening their violent horizons,? Amia requested.

    ?Yes, ma?am,? he chuckled. ?Though I doubt they need much goading.?

    It was too true. They were proving themselves to be only too willing to strike first and many of their diplomatic efforts over the last few months had been nothing more than stopgap measures.

    ?Is there anything else??

    ?Not for now,? Nena concluded, ?but we do need all of those going to Mon Calamari to meet with the protocol officer.?

    ?We?ve been there before,? Amia reminded her.

    ?Not during a war,? Nena countered. ?It shouldn?t take long. The main concerns have to do with security and the possibility that the Quarrens will renew hostilities.?

    ?Is that likely?? Uli interjected.

    ?We don?t think so,? Amne replied, ?but it?s best to be prepared.?

    ?We?ll be back for the evening briefing,? Dawrin added. ?If you have anything else, you know where to find us.?

    They all stood, Amne included, and left the office. Amia and Uli waited for her to fall into step with them.

    ?I presume that two days will be enough?? she asked.

    ?Of course,? Amia chuckled. ?We?ve been keeping our vaccinations up to date just in case we were suddenly needed for field work.?

    It was her turn to grin. ?If I didn?t know better, I?d think you were getting stir-crazy.?

    ?Zia and I hadn?t stayed in the Temple for more than a few weeks since your husband took office,? Amia pointed out. ?The last six months have been educational, but difficult.?

    ?On the other hand, it?s been a comfort to go six months without worrying that you two will run afoul of a Separatist invasion,? Amne countered. ?Let?s keep it that way.?

    Amia bowed in an almost teasing manner, deferring to her highe
     
  19. RK_Striker_JK_5

    RK_Striker_JK_5 Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Jul 2, 2003
    So great to see you back, Ish! :D And hmm, looks like things are gearing up, there. A bit of tension about the twins, there. Makes sense considering the happy news with Michel. And a bit of... curtailing of the reconstruction efforts. Clever, Cos. ;)

    Can't wait for more!
     
  20. Kyana-Morgaine

    Kyana-Morgaine Jedi Youngling star 2

    Registered:
    Oct 29, 2004
    Wooohooo!

    Can't wait for more!
     
  21. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    Finally resuming this after an abominably long hiatus. I am going to get this Book finished in the next several weeks.
    *****
    The Jedi had put no restrictions on Amne?s use of their services, but she had adapted them as needed. There were more than a few people who had questioned whether she would be better served by a therapist who wouldn?t ascribe everything that happened to the will of the Force and Cos himself had suggested an alternative. He had not gone so far as to call Jedi judgment into question or to suggest that Healer Dau was not up to the task of helping his wife cope with the strains of leadership, but he had pointed out that she might be able to find someone who could relate to her better. She had pointed out with equal tact that unless one of the Senators was a licensed therapist, there were few people in the Galaxy who could relate to her at all. Dau was more than up to the task.

    They called it a good month when she only needed to schedule one meeting with him. More often than not, she turned up every week. Things were not getting worse on the personal front, but they were not getting better by any definition and that troubled her enough to merit some extra attention.

    Today?s appointment was something of a standing one. Her staff knew to tentatively schedule a session for the day after she returned from a mission and if she felt that it was unnecessary, she would call to cancel it.

    ?Amne,? Dau greeted her amiably as he ushered her into their usual room. ?You are making a holonet addict of me. I have been following your exploits with great interest this week.?

    That had been the point, in fact. While Cos had balked at the idea of her going on a mission during their late-autumn break, she had gotten enough of her staff to side with her for him to agree that a public relations boost would be a good idea. She had not gone to the Outer Rim with the intention of kissing babies or breaking ground for emergency shelters, but she had rolled up her sleeves and pitched in with everyone else. The fact that it had been broadcast on most major networks was what Trober would call a perk, not a motivating factor. Amne was only too happy to let her dirt-smudged chin appear on the nightly news if she was allowed to help the victims of the war.

    ?I?m glad you had something to entertain you,? she said lightly. ?Was there nothing else on??

    ?I could have watched the smashball finals, but that had nothing to do with my work, so I couldn?t justify it,? Dau rejoined.

    ?Next year, I?ll develop a personal interest in one of the players so that you need to study his performance to help me,? Amne promised. ?Do you have a preference??

    ?Togoria would be a favorite.? He closed the door behind her and she immediately took a seat on the bed, kicking off her heels. ?I was surprised to see you. The mission seemed to go well, did it not??

    On many other occasions, Amne would have found it necessary to explain where he had misinterpreted the situation. The Holonet tended to sweetener-coat everything and there was always a story that could be told about what had really happened. On one notable occasion, a GAR outpost had been burned to the ground by the indigenous people of a planet and Republic Nightly News had cheerfully reported that a heating crisis for the regiment on that world had been resolved. Today, however, was a bit different.

    ?The mission went off without a hitch,? Amne stated honestly. ?And that is why I decided to come today.?

    Without further comment, she lifted her hair from her neck and lay down, letting it fan over the pillow. The session started, as always, with a few minutes of meditation. Usually, she would take that time to drive all distractions from her mind, but today, she had to be single-minded. On occasion, Dau had presumed to interrupt her contemplations to chide her for being too distracted, but he seemed to take her crowded mind in stride this time.

    After an indeterminate amount of time, he cleared his throat and Amne let her eyes snap open. Her heartbeat was not as q
     
  22. RK_Striker_JK_5

    RK_Striker_JK_5 Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Jul 2, 2003
    Interesting mood whiplash there from Dau to Cos. Not surprising, though. Poor Amne. [:D] If only she knew...

    Great post, Ish. Great to see this back!
     
  23. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    Author's note: So, first, Amne now has a diary covering the time between Books 1 and 2. It's called Matters of State and can be found here. Secondly, the story of Barab I in this post is borrowed from Texas before the American Civil War.
    *****
    Barab I was not meant for humans. Not Core-bred humans who spent too much of their time on the 407th floor of Republica 500, anyway. Between the 97th-level office that her staff used and the fact that the Chancery Mansion was built appropriately at the same height above sea level as the Senate, Amne did not have much occasion to spend time on ground level. The Barabel spent most of their time underground due to the radiation and it took some getting used to. The conditions could have induced claustrophobia in anyone on a normal basis, but the earthquakes that had displaced tens of thousands of Barabel on the north continent had not finished their work. There were the periodic aftershocks that accompanied previous tremors, but within two days of the Republic's intervention, three more significant earthquakes had taken place.

    In terms of preventing further catastrophe, there was little that they could do. A team of seismologists had accompanied the relief workers and they had made a number of recommendations, but most of them involved consolidating the already-crowded Barabels into caves further from fault lines or terraforming the problematic strata. Half of the the Barabel ruling council seemed to think that terraforming was an affront to the Barabels and Barab I itself.

    "You have to admit that they might have a point," Amia commented after one particularly trying meeting. "If we had a single Barabel seismologist on hand, things might be different, but we're humanoids, Core-worlders who have the gall to tell them that their beloved homeworld is faulty as soon as we set foot on it."

    "Not faulty, per se," Dr. Sovign corrected. "Unusually unstable."

    Amne cracked a grin for a moment and kicked off her work shoes. "I'm sure they'll like those words better."

    "If they can understand them," Nena scoffed. "Can't we find a translator droid so we can talk to more of the people?"

    She fell silent at a look from Amne. They had swept their quarters for listening devices, but that was no guarantee of security and one of the last things that they needed was enmity caused by eavesdropping.

    "Officially, we must go through the Council," she said. "If someone chooses to make overtures to other Barabels, we will have to forgive them later."

    "I'll pass that information along to my team," Sovign promised.

    "Good." She turned a stern and uncompromising gaze on the man and lowered her voice to underline the meaning of her next statement. "I don't want them upset."

    "We're talking about taking fourteen thousand homeless Barabel to a place where they will have no home and six hundred thousand roommates," Uli pointed out. "They're going to be upset anyway."

    "There's a difference between coming across an irritable nek and kicking it in the head," Amia responded. "We are here to help these people heal, not open new wounds."

    "An apt analogy," Amne commended. "We have four people on our team who are fluent in Barabel. I expect each of our groups to include one for tomorrow's activities, should a genuine need for a translator arise."

    "I'll see to it," Guardsman Akolu assured her from the perimeter of the room.

    She nodded and shifted her focus to him. "What are the security arrangements for tomorrow?"

    "The same as they have ever been, milayd," Akolu responded politely. "Would you like to change them?"

    "I want to have a few guards keeping an eye on the Council," she instructed, "and their aides. One on electronic surveillance, and others making sure they don't kiss a baby without someone from our envoy knowing about it. And be discreet."

    "As always, milady," he said. "Was there anything in particular that you..."

    "You'll know." Amne shut off her datapad and sighed. "We need to have a decision on the evacuation by tomorrow night and we can only hope that nothing happ
     
  24. RK_Striker_JK_5

    RK_Striker_JK_5 Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Jul 2, 2003
    An unwise move on the Barabel's part, here. Rather glad to see this pass with little incident. Sebatyne? Any relation to future Jedi? ;) :D

    Great to see this back up!
     
  25. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    There were times throughout the years that Amne welcomed her husband's hovering tendencies. In the early days of their marriage, she had taken his moments of intense concentration on her well-being as signs of affection. That had been before she grew to recognize that his apparent concern largely stemmed from a need to be in control of his circumstances. Sometimes he hovered because he cared; most of the time, he hovered because he thought that things were not going according to plan.

    After ten years of marriage, Amne fully expected him to meet her at the landing pad for a somewhat public display of that tendency, but a quick call to Trober let her know that he was still in session at the Senate. That indicated that either Anakin Skywalker had kept his promises or that Cos was reserving the brow-beating and tongue-lashing for the comfort of their home. She was not sure which brought her more comfort.

    "Be sure to stop by once RSB is done with you," Trober suggested.

    "I don't think I will," Amne sighed. "It's been a long journey and if I go to him at the office, he'll never have reason to come home."

    She could hear him sigh, but he did not argue the point. "Yes, milady. It's good to have you home."

    Debriefing with the Republic Security Bureau took little time, since she only had to discuss the circumstances of their departure from Barab I and forecast the possible ramifications. She had no control over what the next step would be and frankly, she did not want to have any part in deciding whether to send troops in. With so many homeless or injured Barabels, she had no desire to turn Barab I into a battlefield where the indigenous population might be caught in the crossfire.

    It was late afternoon when she returned to the Mansion, but her staff had thoughtfully cleared her schedule for the day. She put in calls to Delani and Jes to let her know that she was home and safe, but not up for visitors. She unpacked in a few minutes and then settled in to wait.

    She had updated her personal files, reviewed her notes for an upcoming speech and read through three-quarters of a history of Corellia that had just come out when she heard the approach of a speeder to the private entrance. It was the portico just below the master bedroom's east windows and Cos used it when he did not want to be delayed by a thousand last-minute questions. She heard his purposeful footstep on the staircase a few minutes later and the low rumble of voices that cut off abruptly once he reached the landing. He had the choice to turn left and go into his personal study or to head right to join her in the bedroom and it was with some relief that she heard the floorboard in front of the bedroom door. For all of the Mansion's eccentricities, she had always enjoyed its antique feel and the hardwood floors were included in that.

    The door opened a moment more and she set down the datacard. She had been anticipating her husband's self-satisfied annoyance since they cleared the atmosphere of Barab I and she was not disappointed by the tightness of his jaw muscles. He looked as if he had caught her setting herself on fire after repeated warnings of playing with flint.

    "I'm glad to see you home and safe," he said simply.

    She could have risen to the occasion and engaged in an argument right there and then, but this was not a time to get into a slugging match. "It's good to be home," she responded. "Thank you for being here."

    "I had to see if the rumors of your return were true or if you were off endangering your life somewhere else," he said with a dark chuckle.

    Without further comment, Amne extended a hand, palm up. "Come here," she invited. "I want to talk."

    For once, he complied, but he left his robes on, indicating that whatever she had to say needed to be spoken in short order. It wasn't exactly the atmosphere that she needed, or wanted, but it would have to do. And it was better than having this discussion over a comm connection.

    "I won't be risking myself again," she said quietly but firmly. "I may have been punishing you
     
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