By Debbie Casselbury, Janice Mergenhagen, and Larry Tetewsky

This takes place just after AZARRA GOES TO CORUSCANT, and just before 
MediaWest 2001.

    The next morning, Palpatine was already in the dining room when Azarra 
entered.  He noted that she seemed almost radiant after her first night in 
the Palace as Empress.  She smiled silently, and allowed herself to be seated 
next to him.  After the attendants served her, she began to ask about the 
upcoming evening's banquet, and just who she might expect to see in the 
receiving line.
    The Emperor looked up from his plate of food.  "And what hat makes you 
think there should be a receiving line?  I certainly have better ways to 
celebrate my new Empress  than to stand and endure endless speeches from 
every dignitary that is invited to a dinner affair."
    "They're not coming to see YOU, so if you wish, I will stand ALONE in the 
welcoming line; a major social faux pas which I assume will be overlooked 
because you are the Emperor."
    Palpatine cast a grim look as he picked up his fork.   "Ah, yes...Still 
the Diplomat!  So I am now expected to conform to such trivial matters as 
etiquette. . .Very well.  Since  you think it best, I can endure this 
receiving line of yours."
    "How enlightened of you, Your Majesty," Azarra replied, noncommittal.  
"Should I be concerned about the menu?"
    The Emperor grinned.  "My chefs are perfectly capable, but meet with them 
if you must."
    "We'll see what they can do on their own.  But on to more pressing 
matters.    Since most of my wardrobe is still in transit, I will need to go 
out and find something to wear this evening.  Perhaps you would like to 
accompany me on this little expedition?"
    What little color he had drained from his face as flashes of a recent 
nightmare detonated in his mind.   He stopped himself from a withering 
retort, and managed to reply, "I ...regret that I have several appointments 
with my senior staff this morning, which would certainly delay you until late 
afternoon.   I'm sure that you can find someone to accompany you whose 
opinion about gowns would be more insightful than mine."
    "Majesty, I value your opinion and am naturally disappointed that you 
won't be accompanying me, but I understand that running the Empire comes 
first," she said with just a hint of mock dejection.    "I hope this is not 
an indication of how things will always  be."
    The rest of the meal was quiet, neither wishing to broach any other 

    Later in the day, the Emperor's private office door whooshed open 
abruptly and in walked Azarra, looking a bit exasperated.
    "For being the capital city of the Empire, the selection of fashion 
houses on Coruscant is shockingly poor.  I can't even remember how many 
stores I had to go to before I found something even remotely suitable.  I can 
now understand why your wardrobe is so limited."
    The Emperor glared.  "Didn't you ever hear of knocking before entering a 
room, or was that courtesy omitted in your upbringing?   And as for my 
wardrobe. . .I happen to prefer wearing these robes."
    Azarra was startled.  "You have more than one?"
    "I won't dignify that question with an answer.   Do you think  I have a 
laundry staff washing one robe over and over?  Please!"  Palpatine slammed 
his hand down on the desk and stood up sharply.   "Now, other than breaching 
the security code and sanctity of my office, did you have any business to 
address?" he snapped, making a mental note to have his office security code 
changed as soon as possible.
    Mildly amused, she said, "I learn something new about you every day.  How 
exciting this marriage is going to be.  I don't recall you telling me what 
time I need to be ready for our receiving line."
    "Receiving line at 7:30.  Dinner at 8."
    "Will we get through everyone in half an hour?"
    "There will only be 50 people's not another wedding event, 
Azarra.  When I organized  this dinner to celebrate your arrival, I was 
thinking it would please you to have a more intimate affair.  Was I wrong?"
    She paused a moment before answering.  "I would hardly call 50 people 
intimate, but I'm sure if you invited them, then I shall be intrigued to meet 
them.  You will be doing the introductions, won't you?  I do so want to meet 
the cream of Imperial society here on Coruscant, since I will be spending a 
great deal of time with these people.  But, enough of this idle chatter.  You 
 must have much to do, and so do I."  And she left as quickly as she had come.

    Lights from the Imperial Palace glittered like stars the night of the 
Emperor's welcoming banquet for His Empress.  A steady stream of aircars 
deposited the invited Imperial elite.
    The grand entrance that the Emperor wanted gave way to a receiving line.  
To The Emperor it seemed endless and when it was finally over, he knew that 
sitting down would be a blessing.  It was the last relief he was to enjoy for 
the remainder of the evening, for it was toward the end of the line that 
Azarra spotted...him.  He was introduced as the son of an ambassador from 
some planet Azarra had only marginally heard of.   As she gave the handsome 
young man her most alluring smile, he took her hand, kissed it, and she knew 
she had him.  Her first conquest!
    Dinner was exquisite.  If nothing else, The Emperor had hired excellent 
chefs.  She had convinced him that music was necessary; a nice background to 
her briefly visiting every table.  When she reached the table where the 
ambassador's son sat,  she gently nudged his mind with the thought of asking 
her to dance.  He quickly complied.  This Force thing could prove to be VERY 
useful, she thought gleefully.
    They danced until the wee hours of the morning, until finally His Majesty 
sent everyone home after he had nodded off several times at the table.  They 
left the hall and made their way to the lifts, followed by four Red Guards.     
    "That was wonderful,"  Azarra sighed.  "I could have danced all night."
    "Wonderful, you say?"  The Emperor turned toward her with a disapproving 
frown.  "You made a fool out of yourself, Azarra."
    She turned to him with a shocked expression.   "Did you expect me to sit 
with you at that table all evening?  I thought this banquet was given for me 
to get to know people here on Coruscant.  I certainly couldn't do that 
sitting with you.  When you didn't ask me to dance, I found a suitable 
partner to accompany me."
    "You spent every moment of your time mingling with everyone, including 
your handsome new 'friend', so I never knew you were interested in dancing 
with me.  I hoped you would want to be at my side.  This 'game' of yours 
doesn't amuse me, my dear.  Despite my indifference this afternoon, I do care 
for you.  I had intended to apologize with this gift... I suppose now is as 
good a time as ever."  Palpatine reached into his robe and pulled out a tiny 
granite box and handed it to her.  Inside were a pair of rare black opal drop 
earrings in a silver setting.
    "I guess we will have to work on our communication skills, " she said, a 
bit surprised.  "Interacting with people is so very different from 
subjugating them.  The earrings are magnificent, Your Majesty.  At times, you 
do have exquisite taste.  Tomorrow, perhaps, we can begin anew."
    "Perhaps we can begin our new found communication with a kiss; on the 
cheek, if nothing more."
    "Not on the first date, Your Majesty.  Just think what a scandal that 
would cause."  And with that, she was gone.

    Early the next morning, a far too cheerful Azarra interrupted the Emperor 
with the arrival of the carpenters she had hired to do some "minor 
alterations".   Waltzing into his private office, plans in hand, she swept 
the few things cluttering his desk onto the floor and began to explain about 
some walls being knocked out, several closets being built and would have gone 
on interminably, if he hadn't stopped her.
    After they were ushered out of the Emperor's office, the carpenter said, 
"Empress, to do the minor changes you propose for your level will not take 
the week  you told the Emperor we would need."  
    Azarra smiled over at him, "I know, but I'm going to give you another 
project that I need completed the day I return from Port Lansing.  It is 
meant to be a surprise for The Emperor."


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