Chapter Sixteen --Invasion

"Itís a trick, MíLady, the Sith donít leave survivors." -- Capt. Chaer Markk

Tyrannus had to wait nearly six standard hours in space for Dascheí to return his transmission, and she spoke in a halting whisper when she did appear.

"You are sure of this, my servant?"

"Yes my Master, I was there when she collapsed and revealed that she is with child. Judging by the physical signs I have been able to observe, I would estimate she will give birth within a week."

Tyrannusí heart burned with ambition at the thought of delivering an offspring of the most powerful Jedi in centuries to his Master. Then, something inside him sparked, and his mind slipped into a darker fantasy. Sidious surely did not know of the Senatorís pregnancy or she would already be in his custody. If Tyrannus secured the infant, he could raise the talented Jedi as his own apprentice and someday make his move to overthrow Sidious and complete his vision of a galaxy under his rules and order.

"Keep me informed of any news,Dasche.I will be there in a few days to collect the Senator and her child."

Dascheí switched off her comlink and stowed it safely back under her cloak. While a carefully-manufactured clone she was, she possessed none of her Masterís powers of the mind. In that, she was completely unaware of Sosha standing at her door during the conversation.

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Three days later, as dusk fell on Coruscant, Captain Typho stood at attention from his security station to welcome Count Dooku to Senator Amidalaís residence.

The Count brought a traditional piece of Nubain sculpture as a gift to Padme Amidala, and asked for an audience with her as soon as she was free.

Moments later he sat chatting with Padme Amidala in her sitting room. Dooku smiled inwardly, this was almost too easy.

"I bring my condolences, MíLady, for the loss of your husband, no please do not start, the Emperor has told me of your love for one another. It must be of great difficulty to deal with such a matter when no one ever knew."

Padmeís eyes drooped and her features fell as if suddenly remembering Anakin was gone.

"Yes, Count Dooku, Anakin was a special person. I miss him dearly."

The door opened and three of Padmeís handmaidens entered. Dooku was surprised to see Dascheí not among them, and his danger sense flared up. Surely Dascheí would not risk failing protocol at such a crucial juncture in this mission, she had been instructed much better than that.

Trying to make his interest seem casual, Dooku asked, "Perhaps I am mistaken, but is it not the service of four handmaidens who tend to a Nubian lady of nobility? You seem one short, Senator."

In the briefest of flickers, Padmeís eyes danced across the room to a closed chamber. Dooku followed her gaze and felt conflict behind that door through the Force. With the barest of flickers in his hand, he forced the door open.

Dascheí stood there, gagged at the mouth, with one of the Nubian security guards grasping her hands, his sidearm pressed firmly against her side.

Dooku whirled back toward Padme and his eyes narrowed.

"Clever as ever, arenít you, Senator?" he intoned as Typho and four other armed soliders burst in to the room to fan out around Padme.

Dooku chuckled and his voice dropped ominously lower, "Do you really think men with guns can stop me?"

All five Nubian security members felt their weapons seized from their grips suddenly, and flung toward the window, shattering glass as they exited.Typho charged Dooku and was Force-slammed into a table.

Handmaidens and guards turned in flight along with Padme, but Dooku crossed the room and seized the senator by the arm. He spun her around and towered over her.

"Not so quickly, my lady. Iím afraid I will keep your company a while longer, at least until you deliever me the heir to the Sith."

The senator stared up at him, clearly frightened, and Dooku stretched out with the Force, searching for the young unborn mind that he knew would be so potent in the Force ... and felt nothing.

He gaped down at Amidala and realized he had been tricked. In a rage, he threw the handmaiden Sosha, dressed up perfectly as the senator, against the far wall and stretched out again with the Force.

There was his prize, fleeing a level below, surrounded by security and headed toward her starcraft. He touched the mind inside her, then realized in shocked delight that it was not alone.

The Senator would give birth to twins, and he would have them both.

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The Nubian starship that Queen Jamilla had given Padme as a gift was in sight when one of her security guards cried out. Padme and company turned to see Dooku vault down from the high wall that surrounded the apartment complex. No mortal man could survive that leap without breaking a leg or two. Dooku strode forward.

"Did you really think your little gambit would work, Senator?" he called out at the true Padme. "Come with me now and I wonít have to kill your companions."

Padme froze. She looked back at her other handmaidens, Rabeí and Mischa, at the two older security guards she had known during her entire stay on Coruscant, and at C3PO, the last connection to Anakin she really had.

The senior security guard, Chaer Markk strode forward to stand next to Padme.

"Itís a trick, MíLady, the Sith donít leave survivors."

He fired a laser blast at Dooku, who blocked it evenly with his hands as Padme turned to run alongside her handmaidens.

Dooku lifted his hands and pulled the weapon away from Markk then lifted them toward the starship and it too began to shutter.

Fearing the worst, Padme and her protectors stoped short of entering the vessel when suddenly it clanged back down the the platform.

Rabeí turned and pointed back at Dooku.

"There!"

The rest turned and followed her finger, to see that another ship had materialized from behind the building. It hovered several feet off the ground, blocking Dooku from their vision.

"Go! Now!" Markk cried, bodily lifting C3PO up to assist the slower-moving droid whose protests were muffled by the revving engines of the Nubian shuttle.

So focused on hurling the Nubian transport off its base was Dooku that he was taken by surprise when the smaller ship dropped suddenly in front of him.

At once he recognized the make of the Jedi starfighter, a two-seat model. A closer inspection of the cockpit brought a hiss from Dookuís lips.

It was Kenobi.