Date: Monday, February 11, 2002 9:10 PM Azarra sent gifts for the holidays, but never arrived herself. Palpatine, expending an inordinate amount of credits with the desired results, knew where she was, but decided not to insist she return to Coruscant. He was becoming accustomed to life without her challenging presence. Two days before his birthday, Azarra swished into his private office as only she could. When he expressed surprise at her return, she offered, “You didn’t think I’d miss your birthday, did you? The party plans are all arranged. It promises to be a magnificent celebration!” And out she went. “Party?” he thought. “What party?” Someone on his personal staff would pay dearly for his lack of knowledge about this. At breakfast the next morning, Azarra would give him no further information, just that they needed to appear in the Grand Ballroom at 8:00 p.m., so he’d better be ready at 7:45 for their royal entrance. Her silver gown covered in “stardust” lit up the hallway. Her necklace and earrings, a set he had given her, glittered as they caught the light. Upon entering the Grand Ballroom, Palpatine had to squint, as he was dazzled by the brilliant lights and huge banner that proclaimed, “Happy Birthday, Emperor Palpatine!” The room overflowed with everyone who was anyone, and as they approached the dais, “Happy Birthdays” were called out. The evening passed with food, music and visiting, Azarra playing “hostess” in her inimitable fashion. She presented him with a jewel encrusted collar with the word EMPEROR emblazoned in diamonds. He accepted it quietly. A tremendous fireworks presentation was to be the evening’s finale, but The Emperor had planned a surprise all his own. As the last “aaaahs” died down, everyone filed back to the Ballroom to bid their farewells and leave. The Emperor regained his throne on the dais and signaled for quiet. He gazed at Azarra, relishing the moment. “Azarra, my dear,” he began quietly, “as overcome as I am after this magnificent celebration, it’s only fitting that I have a surprise for you.” At his words, an Imperial officer entered the Ballroom, carrying some sort of official looking scroll, which he gave to Palpatine. “Do you recognize this, Azarra?” “Should I?” “Oh I’m sure you thought never to see it again, but it was brought to my attention by a diligent Lord of Iskandar.” At the mention of Trinian’s planet, Azarra became uneasy. The scroll was passed to the Grand Vizier to read. “I, Trinian Palpatine, Prince of Iskandar, do pledge myself this day to Azarra Vader, Princess of Varelttas. A date of marriage is to be set in the future at a time mutually agreeable to both parties.” After a moment of stunned silence, The Emperor quietly asked, “Is that your signature, my dear?” Azarra looked. It was, and she nodded. “Take note of the date,” Palpatine went on. “Two years before you agreed to be my Empress. Obviously, my son believes in long engagements. I can only guess that when my offer came along, it was more advantageous than being the someday Princess of Iskandar, so you sought to have this document suppressed. But, it has now come to light. So, what do you have to say for yourself, my dear?” Azarra looked to her father before replying, “I have nothing to say.” “A first, I’m sure.” Palpatine leaned forward from his throne, staring intently at Azarra. “You deceived me into living this lie for the past year and a half! There was no marriage because you were legally bound to another. How could you be so low as to fool not only Your Emperor, but the thousands who so adore you? No more! They will now see you as I do, for the conniving, duplicitous amoral woman you...” “My Master!” Vader interrupted. “What is to become of my daughter?” Palaptine regarded him a moment. “She must leave the Palace immediately, with only her personal possessions. I want no more scandals attached to my name. The ISD Empress will take her to Iskandar, or wherever she wants to go.” When no more pronouncements were forthcoming, Vader led Azarra from the Ballroom. Seelene was in the Ballroom during this exchange, and immediately left to begin packing. She wasn’t exactly sure what The Emperor meant by Azarra’s “personal possessions,” but there wasn’t much she was going to allow to be left behind - jewelry mostly, which she was sure Azarra wouldn’t want anyway. When they arrived, Seelene suspected that the impact of all this hadn’t really set in yet. It was obvious that father and daughter had been discussing the document, but stopped upon entering the apartment. They had been packing for almost an hour when the Emperor appeared. “Checking to see that I don’t abscond with the silverware?” Azarra asked. The Emperor only chuckled. “I must compliment you on this brilliant scheme. An engagement document has you looking like the injured party in all of this. An excellent forgery, I might add. But then you were certain neither Trinian nor I would contest it.” “Of course you wouldn’t. That’s the sheer beauty of the plan. It’s just too bad your reputation had to be sacrificed. But, you can’t have everything. Although, you might like this as a souvenir,” and he handed her the document, turning to leave. Palpatine paused a moment, then, “I might even miss you at times, Azarra.” “Well, I certainly won’t miss anything about this arrangement. It should take us a few more hours to finish. Will that be acceptable?” It was, it did, and she was gone.
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