In the end they had to combine their senses with statistical data dug up from the bottom of Coruscant’s computers before they finally zeroed in. But when a small group of Jedi, accompanied by Padmé, came to the sight and started traveling down, they soon found their efforts to have been worth it. The Jedi Temple had extended much further down than many of Coruscant’s structures, and many of its depths remained still untouched.
Not as much as Padmé initially thought though. As the small band entered the familiar looking corridors, the Dark Woman shook her head. “Sidious has been down here. He probably purged the computers as well.”
“Let’s keep going,” said Whie Malreaux. “He might not have gone all the way down.”
Even though she’d studied an old map of the Temple, Padmé hadn’t really fathomed just how far deep it did go down. The lifts were long broken and rusted, so they had to go on foot, and Padmé’s feet started to ache as she started to think they must have descended a mile. There'd been a good stairwell structure, better even then the emergency stairs of the old Senate Hall, but in places it was broken and burnt away, and the Jedi had to leap, and then use their abilities to pick Padmé up and carry her down, which was very awkward.
All around them it grew eerily quiet, Padmé noting the sudden absence of sounds she’d barely registered when she’d first landed on Coruscant and then paid no attention to at all until now, when they were gone. And Jedi boots made so little sound that her own shoes, chosen for sturdiness instead of stealth, rung in all their ears.
At last after Padmé had lost all track of time T’ra Saa said, “I don’t think anyone’s been here at all for far more than twenty-five years. We need only go a little further.”
About ten minutes more and Padmé saw her husband and children all start to smile and breathe easier. Even she felt a change in the environment, though she couldn’t pinpoint just what in made her feel better, made it easier for her too to breathe. She started looking around at the other Jedi for a hint of when they were going to stop.
It was another few minutes when T’ra Saa ordered a stop. As if by prior agreement, the group of Jedi gathered in a circle and knelt down facing each other. They all closed their eyes.
And then, nothing happened. Padmé stood there, watching them do nothing, feeling no change, assuming something was going on but that it was beyond her limited senses to perceive. She started to wonder, not for the first time since they'd come in, why she’d asked to come along.
Because someone has to report back to the Senate, she reminded herself. Someone has to give them their reassurances; especially when Palpatine's lies insinuated themselves enough that even when they know he was lying, they still don't trust the Jedi. I’m not sure what I’ll say about this bit, but I’ll think of something.
And she could try to think of something right now, too, since at the moment she had nothing else to do.
She considered the Jedi before her. T’ra Saa, the Dark Woman, whose original name Padmé still didn’t know, Quinlan and Sheldi Vos, Cerni Olanga, Whie Malreaux, Cortin Klistorin, and her own family. Only six of the ten had even lived in the original temple, though Anakin had been there once long ago, and of those, two had been forced to flee at very young ages. She could call this the older Jedi teaching the younger ones about their past, telling them about it, since she was sure they were, in this mystical manner. In the case of the Voses, there was even a father teaching his daughter.
Eventually she did start to sense a change in the air again. This time it was one she couldn’t describe at all, but she knew it was happening, and that it was coming from the ten Jedi in their circle near where she stood.
She could also sense it growing, extending down the corridors, back the way they had come, while around her there was a strange thickness, one that felt soothing on her heart. She closed her eyes and tried to focus on it, identify it, at least feel more of it.
She might have stood there for a very long time. She opened her eyes later and found everything appearing as she had left it, but she hadn’t thought to bring a chronometer, and down here time was impossible to keep track of without one. She recalled Luke saying to her once that sometimes when Jedi went into deep enough meditation, ten hours could feel like only a couple of minutes.
And then, to her great surprise, Anakin, Luke, Leia, and T’ra Saa all opened their eyes, and in one movement together, turned their heads towards her. “Come join us, Padmé,” said T’ra Saa.
Confused, but not at all reluctant, Padmé knelt down between her husband and daughter. She felt both of them touch her shoulders and their minds brush into hers, followed by Luke’s, then by the others'.
She wasn’t sensing their thoughts, exactly, but she was given an awareness of what they were perceiving, almost like she was hearing an echo. She had felt the Force before, in the final days of her pregnancy, so she recognized it; it was like being greeted by an old friend that she had expected to never see again. She was aware, also, that her companions were searching for something. She could not tell what, but even so she tried to find it for them, scanning what they sensed as best she could.
Then she felt a gentle touch from the minds of her family, and the very vague feeling that there was something going amiss, which alarmed her, all the more so because she had no hope of knowing what it was. What is it? What is it? She tried to actively think it at them, even though she knew they couldn’t even read each other’s exact thoughts, let alone hers.
But her panic was strong enough to them to feel, and Anakin’s mind touched hers again, giving her a feeling of looking, or a need to look, without trying to search for anything in particular. So nothing amiss, she thought with relief, she’d just misunderstood the situation.
She looked. At least that was the best way to describe what she did, there was no way to truly describe it.
She saw/felt/sensed something very strong, something very good, and she was aware that they were all focused on it. She wished she could tell what it was. She wondered if even the others could tell what it was.
They were taking it, whatever it was. She was helping them. She didn’t even have to consciously think about it; she was just doing it. It was coming into them, and now she knew more of it, knew that it was memory, more than anything else, though that wasn’t all it was, it was life and death and the Force and there could be great knowledge here, though she couldn’t access it; maybe the others could.
And then, suddenly, it was over, the rush of strange half-illumination. So was their meditation; Padmé came back to the mundane with a cold, hard start and nearly fainted at the suddenly snapping of the links from her mind to those of the others. She struggled to breath, her gasps echoing in her ears, still the only sound in the area.
Then she felt hands on her, and the three alarmed faces of her family, and Luke’s worried voice: “We forgot; she couldn’t come down like we could. Oh mother, so sorry...”
“Don’t fuss,” said the Dark Woman. “She’ll be fine in another moment.”
“Is that any way to be grateful?” Leia rose to her feet. “We owe her for what we’ve just done.”
“And we all thank you for it, Your Majesty.” T’ra Saa had come over and was helping Padmé to her feet.
“I thank you in return, Master,” Padmé automatically replied, and breathed easier as her surroundings settled down. She wondered exactly what it was she had done, or had been, that had proved so important in what she assumed to be some sort of retrieval of old knowledge. She wondered if her family would be able to explain it to her in words she could understand. Mostly likely, she knew, she would never know what had just happened, exactly.
“Well, we are done here,” said T’ra Saa, and the others were all getting up and into a group together. “Let us depart; it’ll take some time to get back up and out of here as it is.”