But Padmé had too much time to think as they traveled half the length of the galaxy with that awareness of each other’s presence, even more so than during the last year, and the more she thought about it, the less Mara’s explanation for why she and Anakin had wanted Padmé to come with them made sense. Her knowledge of Coruscant in general was probably useless when she hadn’t been there for so long, and Mara had hacking skills sufficient for finding out more information about Palpatine’s private offices than she could provide.
They were to abandon the ship they had stolen on Brentaal and adopt new identities in order to get onto Coruscant. When they were about an hour from entering Brentaal’s system, Padmé decided it was then or never.
Long years of political experience helped Padmé talk Mara into seating herself in the corner of the cockpit with her chair pressed against the bulkhead and unable to rotate. She seated herself opposite her, positioning her chair slightly to box her in. Even in the ship’s limited space, it should make her feel like her space was shrunk down and she was cut off. Padmé was surprised to notice for the first time that while Mara had probably reached her full growth, she was still the shorter of the two, though she carried herself as if she was taller. As she got into position, she saw the girl’s eyes narrow, realizing that Padmé had trapped her.
“I know you haven’t told me the truth,” she said without preamble, since her actions had provided preamble enough to the observant Mara. “I don’t know why. I truly can’t guess why you wouldn’t tell me the truth. But I can’t follow you blindly, either of you. I made the mistake once of trusting a person more powerful than me, who used and betrayed me. He too told me that it was necessary to do this and that, and I believed him because I didn’t understand the situation. I don’t think I understand this situation either. I won’t help you unless I can believe you.”
Mara Jade wasn’t the sort of person who looked uncomfortable too often. Padmé had admired her for it. This was the first time since they’d first met that she’d really appeared to Padmé to be like the young girl she actually was. “You’re not going to like this,” she said.
“Then we might as well have it over with.”
Her eyes turned blue, then shut as she shook her head. Padmé thought she heard her mutter, “No, I’ll tell her myself.” When she opened her eyes, then were green again. “We need for you to kill Palpatine.”
Several objections ran through Padmé’s head, and started to tumble out in no particular order. “But the prophecy...”
“The prophecy says Anakin has to destroy the Sith. It doesn’t say he has to kill them both himself. We probably will kill the apprentice, if there is one, and he or she isn’t too young to possibly be saved; he or she may very well be. You don’t have to worry about that. But neither of us can kill Darth Sidious.”
“You think if you two can’t do it, I can?” asked Padmé in complete confusion.
“It’s not a matter of physically being able to do the deed. In fact, we’ll help you by subduing him for you first, even hold him down if necessary. What it is is that I don’t dare strike the final blow.”
“I would do it with hatred,” she said quietly. “As would he. He’s done too much to us for us to keep our anger at bay.”
“And you think it wouldn’t be the same for me? Perhaps he hasn’t hurt me quite as deeply as either of you, but he’s hurt me enough for the result to be the same. Surely, one or way or another, you have seen enough of me this past year...”
“Pa-Senator, even if you tore him limb from limb, it would be safer for you to do it. You’re not Force-sensitive, which means you don’t have the ability to take his place.”
“Oh.” Padmé had spent long enough amoung Jedi to know what that meant. The tiny cockpit was suddenly swept with a deep chill.
“I don’t mean to frighten you...” Mara started.
“Well, you should,” Padmé cut her off. “Because I'm thinking right now that all three of us seem a little too close to Palpatine in what lies in our hearts. I know Ben says fear is of the dark side, but for me, at least, it serves as a needed reminder. I’ll deal him the killing blow if you view that as safer for the galaxy, but please, don’t expect me to save either of you from yourselves, if you can’t do that on your own. I tried that once and it nearly killed me. Perhaps in a way it ultimately did.”
She wondered then if it was possible for her to speak any longer, and with Mara’s eyes on her flashing blue again suddenly felt boxed in herself. Deciding that the conversation was definitely over, she rose and hastily walked to the other side of the ship, even though it was only the other corner, where she stayed, undisturbed, until Mara called to her to strap herself in for landing.