Padme had been a prisoner more times than she cared to count. She knew that soon, someone would come, open the door, and demand she answer them. She knew that she would not give them what they asked. But mostly, she knew that waiting around for them to come was the worst part of it all.
The anticipation frayed her nerves in a way confrontation never had. Despite what she projected to others, patience was not her nature. Waiting always brought her sharply back to the moments on Coruscant when the adrenaline of her flee from Naboo and the assassins had worn off. She had sat and waited in comfort while her people suffered. Not just her people, but her friends and family. It nearly killed her, but it had also given her the strength to survive in the following years. She knew that if she had withstood that longing and fear, she could withstand anything.
So Senator Padme Amidala sat up and pulled back her shoulders. Her eyes cleared of any sting of tears, trained on the door. She held her head high and waited for what came next.
Hours or moments passed, she had no way to know which, before the door finally opened.
A man descended, the attendant from the Senate chamber. He looked the same, his dark cloak still hung from his hulking shoulders. His hands clenched at his side. Only now, his hood was lowered, revealing his face. His orange eyes found her the moment he entered but quickly found somewhere else to look. The right side of his face was marked with a nasty scar, like lightening, reaching up over his eye and even the bridge of his nose. That was the only sign of his true nature. Otherwise, he looked ordinary, even handsome. The eyes, despite their color, were nicely shaped. His features almost perfectly mirrored from one side of the face to the other, and the jawline was strong. His brown hair fell in waves down nearly to his shoulders, perhaps in an attempt to cover the scar.
“What are you?” she demanded, getting to her feet. He did not look at her again. Instead, he turned his attention to the new shadow filled the doorframe.
A figure cloaked in equal blackness entered. His face was far from ordinary. A Zabrak male, covered from the top of his head to the collar of his robes in black tattoos. His head was crowned by sharp, curled horns. He was older and larger, but she recognized him immediately and the shock pushed her back. She stumbled and fell back onto the metal bench.
“Welcome,” he sneered.
“You killed Master Qui-Gon Jin and his apprentice,” she spat back.
“So you remember me?” he mused and gave a strange look to his companion, but he got no reaction from the man.
“The Republic will find you and you will stand trial before the Jedi council,” she told him, this time keeping her tone even. She was not some hysterical damsel. She had seen first hand what the Jedi had done in the war. They were not the same as the two unprepared men he had fought in her palace. She spoke with truth and she would use it against him. “I will tell them all that you did and they will have justice.”
The monster began to laugh.
Padme got back on her feet.
“Even if a Jedi survived being gunned down by their own troops,” he finally sighed. “This ship is designed to mask us in the force. They have never found us, and now they never will. The Jedi have become the hunted ones. I will find and execute them for the slaughter of the entire Galactic Senate.”
He reached out a hand and his long nails brushed her chin.
“Don’t worry, my lady. I will avenge your death,” he whispered.
The man beside him flexed his fingers.
Padme realized what he was saying, that the Jedi were lost. The clones had turned against them. There were no other survivors from the senate. Everyone she knew and loved believed her to be among the slain.
“My apprentice will see to your needs while you remain with us,” the monster continued. He did not remove his nails from her face, instead, his grip tightened and she felt the sharpness dig into her skin. “Every breath you take is indebted to him now, and to me.”
It was clear he was going to say more, but Padme drew the pin from her sleeve and struck him. His hand pulled back from her face, taking a bit of her skin. She saw the surprise and pain enter his eyes, but it was not like the look of pain she had seen in anyone before. There was a spark in them that had not been there a moment ago.
Before she could blink, the other man had come between them, using the force to push them apart.
Padme looked back and forth between the two of them. For a moment the man looked almost afraid. She tried to ready herself for her chance to escape. If they fought, there would be an opening. That is, so long as the man in front of her ever stopped staring at her. His eyes were fixed on hers.
Then the other began to laugh. He held his side, but the blood was slipping between his fingers. He let his head fall back and cackled louder and clapped his other hand on his companion’s shoulder.
“My apprentice has dangerous taste,” he sniggered. “She’s all yours, boy. I like mine grateful.”
He backed out of the cell, leaving her and the other man alone. The apprentice looked at her again, his eyes unreadable. For a moment they stayed frozen like that. Drops of blood from her chin splattered to the floor. Then he reached out and used the end of his sleeve to wipe her face. It was so surprising, she did not react.
“Come,” the master interrupted. “That’s enough.”
“Yes, master,” he answered, taring his eyes from hers with some effort. The door shut between them. She was left alone, searching for a word. The word was ancient and evil. Prying the word loose from her memory, the severity of her situation became undeniably clear.
She was a prisoner of the Dark Lords of the Sith.