The ships had only been in the Hunter's hanger for a few minutes when Glantry emerged from his cockpit and headed for the still humming transport.
As he crossed the hanger, he saw the one thing that he really feared right now - Padme.
She came bouncing along the deck, obviously excited to see him. "Hi, Glantry! Surprised?"
"Actually, yes. Padme, I thought I asked you to meet me in the staff room. What are you doing here?"
"I just couldn't wait for you any longer. You've been out of contact for days!" She stood on tiptoe to throw a hug around the tall man's neck, but drew back as she felt the tension in his shoulders.
Glantry said sadly, "Well, this is more public than I would have liked, but it can't be helped." He stepped back as a figure walked off the transport and came up behind him. "Padme, I'd like you to meet my wife, Samantha."
Farpoint Medical Unit
"I don't understand. She's supposed to be dead."
"Don't you think I know that, Padme?"
Phil sat by and watched as Glantry paced and Padme followed him, full of questions. This had to be the strangest day of his life, but somehow he was being very calm about this. Perhaps it was because he hadn't seen this woman yet. Immediately after arriving on Farpoint, she had been whisked into the Medical Unit for a series of tests.
"How can it be her? Are you sure?"
He understood Padme's feelings, but now seemed like a good time to rescue his father. If he didn't do something soon, Padme would start to wring her hands, and by the look of things that would just about bring Glantry to his knees. Phil crossed to Padme, put an arm around her shoulders and led her to a bench. "It'll be alright, Padme. We'll know who she is soon. What if we go get a cup of caf while we wait?"
Glantry shot a thankful glance to Phil. Padme was now clinging to Phil, and this hurt Glantry as much as anything else. But he couldn't reach out to her. Not now. Not with Samantha sitting in a room only 20 feet away. He rubbed his eyes wearily. What he needed was some sleep - then he could figure this whole mess out.
He didn't even know what he should do when the doctors came out with their report. What if they said this woman actually was his wife? Where did he stand then? He looked at Padme with a pang of regret. Nothing that was to follow was going to be easy, that was for certain. How would Padme react? Would she insist on re-running the tests herself?
And then there was the big question - what if this wasn't Samantha? She looked like Samantha. She even smelled like Samantha. But it had been so long. Had he completely idolized his dead wife? Why would she lie about it?
He didn't have time to decide, because right then the doors to the unit opened and Juno came out, datapad in hand, her manner very professional, yet kind. "I have some wonderful news. All the genetic tests show that this woman is Samantha Fett. She has been cleared by medical and is free to enter the base."
A tall, slim woman came through the doors and everyone in the room seemed frozen for a moment. Then Padme stood and crossed to Samantha with a firm step. She smiled and said, "Welcome, Samantha. I'm Padme. You must be tired. Come with me and we'll find you someplace to clean up."
Samantha smiled back at the petit women in front of her, "Thank you, Padme. That would be nice." She turned to Glantry, gave him the heart-stopping smile that he remembered in his dreams and said, "I'm sure you have things to take care of. Come and get me when you are done, OK?"
Glantry nodded, not quite able to speak, and Padme and Samantha walked out of the Medical Unit arm in arm.
After a minute of silence, Glantry walked over to where Phil still sat on the hard waiting room bench. "Well, son. How are you?"
Phil looked up at him, "She didn't recognize me, did she?" Glantry groaned inside but forced a chuckle. "Well, you were three years old. Just out of diapers and perpetually covered with mud, as I remember." Phil recoiled in mock horror, then gave Glantry his own version of the Fett grin. "Yeah, I guess things have changed a lot."
"Have they ever," sighed Glantry.
Survival training was a bust - six days of storms and mud on a numbered but unnamed planet, far from base. It turned out that no training was required. It was just one long dose of the real thing as far as Wraith Squadron was concerned.
Flying home, they had come upon the transport headed for Farpoint with supplies, news and one unexpected passenger.
After acknowledging the announcement from the transport, there was silence over the comms. The rest of Wraith squadron held their breath, wondering what Glantry would do. The tragic story of his wife's murder by Storm Troopers was well known, but seldom discussed. And since Glantry and Padme's wedding last year, his first wife hadn't even been thought of anymore.
Now Glantry said nothing. Not a denouncement or an objection. Finally, his strong voice came over the speakers requesting that the transport land at the next opportunity. The transport pilot didn't even argue.
It turned out to be several hours before they could land on a habitable planet and Glantry got his first look at this woman who claimed to be his wife. The rest of Wraith squadron stayed in orbit and they were soon back on their way to Farpoint, the usual banter over the comm strangely missing.
"I have no idea, Admiral. I've only spent 10 minutes alone with her, myself. Apparently the person who died in the fire wasn't Sam, but an informant that the empire no longer needed. They planted the body for me to find." Glantry swallowed and went on. "Sam was actually taken by the Storm Troopers during the raid. They questioned her for days about my supposed involvement with the rebellion, and when they had no more use for her they sent her to the work camp on Cantros V. She was released two years ago, but had no idea where to find us, or if we were even alive. Several months ago she found out about Phil growing up on Naboo with Padme and then about my posting to Rogue Squadron. She was able to save up enough credits for the transport and made her way here."
"Why not contact you instead of coming herself?" asked Mike.
Glantry stared at him, "You've got to be kidding! This is hard enough. If I had simply received some holo-message I'd be out of my mind right now."
After Glantry had left the room, Burn turned to Fel. "You won't object if I make a few inquires, will you?" Fel shook his head, "Not in the least. Just be as discrete as you can."
Everyone seemed all too glad to welcome Samantha. It was as if each had suddenly been given a chance to see their own lost loved ones again.
Glantry and Phil were soon showing her all over the base, introducing her to friends and colleagues. Her warmth and easy charm made her an instant friend wherever they went. Phil soon knew why his father had married this remarkable women and he deeply regretted the fact that he had never known her before.
The problematic relationship with Padme was another issue. Padme kept to her office when on duty and returned home immediately afterwards. She answered calls and visits cordially, but didn't discuss her husband's other wife and politely cut short any discussions that headed in that direction. Friends and co-workers continued to try, but Padme shut a very effective bubble around her personal life and let no one in.
Glantry was hard to read. He should have been the happiest man alive, but he found himself sighing and shaking his head all too often.
Padme and Samantha
They had taken swoops out to the plateau. Racing the wind, both women felt free for the first time in days. By the time they arrived both were out of breath. They set down a cloth, arranged the food quickly and sat down to eat.
After a few bites, Samantha asked, "The day that I arrived, you were at the landing area so quickly. I thought your offices were here on the planet. How did you get to the Hunter so fast?"
"Oh, I used the rings. They are a bit unsettling at first, but you get used to them."
"That's all so amazing. Can you 'ring' anywhere?"
"No, they're like the Stargate. There has to be one on either end."
Padme was relieved to not be discussing the ever-present personal matters, so this conversation lasted until the sandwiches were gone. When they got to the fruit, Samantha firmly changed the topic to Glantry.
"This situation is taking its toll on Glantry. But I have to say that you seem very calm."
Padme shook her head, "The Tau'ri say 'Release a bird. If it returns to you it is yours. If it does not, it never was.'" She faced Samantha and said. "Honesty, I'm waiting to see what the bird will do."
Samantha looked surprised, and then nodded. "That seems very wise." After a few seconds of silence she said, "Tell me more about the Tau'ri…"
While this discussion continued, Glantry wandered into Viper's bar hoping for some sanity. He was looking for Coup, but he soon found himself surrounded by women. Red and Juno on one side, Thorn and Corry on the other. Strangely, he realized that he hadn't thought of these people as women before. He sighed. This situation was turning everything on its head.
Corry accepted a glass of something white from Lew and asked, "So, where is she now?"
Glantry looked up from his beer and said, "Padme took her out on the savannah for a picnic."
Red was usually outspoken, but this time she only asked what everyone else was wondering, "Is that a good idea?"
"I didn't have any say in the matter."
The others looked at each other and tactfully changed the subject.
The Fett quarters
For the last three days, Glantry had spent almost every off duty minute torn between Padme and Samantha. Breakfast with one wife, lunch with another. Then there was the torture of dinner with them both.
At the close of this night's meal, he started to gather the dishes from the table, but Padme said, "Leave them. It's my turn. Why don't you show Samantha the view from the top of the west wall?"
The sun was just sinking, turning the grasslands to a brilliant gold and the few clouds to a fiery orange. The couple stood silent for several minutes, taking in the sight. Finally, Samantha turned her back to the railing and looked up at Glantry.
"I spent this afternoon with Phil."
"Yes, he's wonderful. "
"I'm glad you think so. Padme did a fine job of raising him. "
"Do you ever wonder what he would be like if we had raised him? "
Glantry turned to her in surprise and she took that opportunity to step in close, wrap her arms around him and brush his cheek with her lips.
Glantry flinched backwards, "No, Sam. I can't."
Samantha didn't loosen her grip around his waist. "Padme has made her choice. Do you see her fighting for you? She knows it is right for us to be together."
Samantha's words stung, but he couldn't deny that they were true. Padme had gone out of her way to put them back together. He shook off the idea. "I can't do this. You don't know how long I have been dreaming of this moment, but always knowing it would never happen. Now that it has… I can't."
Samantha released him, turned suddenly and walked to the stairway. When she reached the door she said bitterly, "The last 16 years were not my fault Glantry. Why don't you think of someone else, instead of worrying about your pride?" and disappeared into the darkness.
Corry heard the gate room doors open. It was awfully late at night, but some times preventive maintenance just won't wait, so here she was, right in the middle of a full diagnostic run. She slid out from under the Stargate ramp to see who had entered.
She stood when she saw the face. It couldn't be anyone else. Glantry had described her in detail one day over lunch. But how in the world had she gotten in here? Didn't security do anything after hours?
"You're Samantha Fett?" The woman nodded. She was beautiful, but not in the vacant, self-absorbed way of so many beautiful women. This woman was driven and resourceful.
Corry extended her hand. Samantha took it with a steady grasp. "It's good to meet you. Glantry's been telling us about you. I'm Major Vrecken." Samantha smiled at that statement, but then frowned as Corry didn't release her grip. Instead she used her hold to firmly guide the woman toward the door.
"Unfortunately, this area is restricted." Corry tried to soften her obvious rudeness as they walked, "I'm afraid you'll have to leave now. Perhaps Glantry can get you clearance…"
Before they had gone another step, every nerve in Corry's body seemed to explode.
The women known as Samantha Fett pocketed the Stinger, stepped over Vrecken's body and moved to the computer bank.
Early morning was Glantry's favorite time to fly. The sun was just touching the tops of the buildings and there was still a slight frosty crunch to the ground as he and Phil crossed the tarmac toward the main hanger.
The guard at the entrance sketched a salute and when Glantry returned it he said, "Your wife's waiting for you in the flight room, sir." Surprised, Glantry almost asked, "Which wife?" but Phil beat him to it.
"Samantha Fett, sir. She came in almost half an hour ago. She said she was supposed to meet you here. Aren't you taking her on a patrol this morning?"
"No…" Glantry's remark was cut short by two almost simultaneous events. The base Intruder Alert began blaring, and a single X-wing burst clear of the hanger and disappeared into the low clouds.
Aid ward, south of the Stargate Room
A medic was tending to a burn on Major Vrecken's ribs, where the stun charge had gone off at point blank range. While he worked, Admiral Burn strode angrily back and forth, firing off questions at Vrecken.
"You didn't think that there was anything wrong with her suddenly showing up in the middle of the night, in a highly restricted area?"
"Actually, I did, sir. But…"
"But what, Major?"
Corry considered her answer, Sir, it was Glantry's wife. I was just trying to be polite. That just wasn't going to cut it. She opted for the most direct route.
"I'm sorry, sir. I have no excuse. I didn't follow the protocols."
"Too right you didn't! From now on anyone, and I repeat anyone, without authorization so much as sniffs in this room and you hit the Security Alert. Any questions, Major?"
"Now for the bad part. What did she get?"
Corry shook her head. "I was in the middle of a full diagnostic, sir. Everything was wide open. She could have gotten it all."
"Security codes? Dialing coordinates?"
"I want to know exactly, Vrecken."
"Yes, sir." Vrecken was off the table and through the doors before the Medic could object.
"I'd suggest rest for the Major, sir."
"Not now," barked Burn as followed Vrecken into the hall. "This is too important."
Glantry and Phil ran through preflight in record time and were aloft in Archangel and a spare X-wing before Admiral Burn had finished his account.
"…left a trail of three unconscious security guards and Vrecken. As far as Corry can tell she got a good three-quarters of the database. I know this is your wife, Glantry, but she has to be stopped. Hunter was able to get off three shots before she dove back down into the atmosphere, but they got a good vector. Hunter is coming around to the far side of the planet, but there's no telling where she will run. It's up to you two."
Glantry saw Phil give him a nod from 20 meters off his wing and knew that he had heard everything.
It wasn't 10 minutes before the struggling X-Wing came on their sensors. Who had trained her had been good, but she could never match the experience of the two men following her, nor even begin to understand their ability to squeeze the last few drops of acceleration out of their ships.
Glantry didn't bother with formal exchanges. "Who are you?"
The voice that came over the comm held none of the warmth that Phil had come to expect. It was the laughter that made it sound cold. "Why did I know that would be the first thing out of your mouth? What, you can't believe your precious Samantha would do anything sordid like sell information for money?"
Phil could almost hear Glantry grating his teeth. "I asked who you are."
The women's voice, his mother's voice, came over the comm, "I'm Samantha - and not Samantha. I'm the happy product of a cell sample that was taken when Phil was born. Did you people learn nothing in the clone wars?"
Phil concentrated on jamming all the long-range frequencies that she tried, but the voice over short range was clear in his cockpit as she laughed at Glantry.
"You were just too convenient. And your friends were all too easy to manipulate. It was sad, really. They all wanted you to be happy, so they relaxed just enough. Everyone was very glad to tell me all about your new life, and to trust me long enough for me to get what I wanted. Admiral Steele will reward me well for this information."
Glantry was now almost within range, and even the wild twists and gyrations of the escaping fighter were not enough to shake him. Phil knew that in a few seconds his father would be able to fire, and after what Glantry had just heard, he wouldn't hesitate to do so. That would be the end of the problem… or would it? Could he let Glantry cause his wife's death a second time? Even if it wasn't really her?
"Glantry, break right!" Every instinct of the pilot took over and Glantry's X-wing rolled to the right, breaking contact with the escaping ship, as he called to his son, "What?!"
But Phil was instantly in position, matching her speed and maneuvers. Within a second he had a lock, and he armed and fired without a word. There wasn't even a cry from the other ship as it tore into components and then vaporized into little golden lights.
After a moment Glantry's voice filled his cockpit. "Phil?"
Phil thumbed his comm and said, "It was better this way."
Two days later - Admiral's Staff Meeting
Admiral Fel took the time to look at each of the senior officers sitting around the oval table before he continued. "Somehow we have to be sure this never happens again. Too many of us could have been the victims of this kind of deception. Sazzel, I want Medical and Research to look into this. And security will now have a new chapter in its manual. This is never going to happen again. At least not on this base."
It was quiet for a few moments and then Thorn asked. "What about Padme and Glantry?"
Phil answered, "They've gone to Naboo."
Naboo - Padme's Family Home
A warm wind blew the long transparent drapes aside, revealing an exquisite view of the high lakes. This was supposed to be a relaxing retreat. Glantry had found it anything but.
He concentrated on Padme's voice, trying to center himself in the here and now. But truthfully, all he felt was numb.
"Glantry, we have been friends for many years. Marriage seemed to be the logical next step for us. But we seem to have left out a part of the equation." Glantry looked at her in surprise.
"We never courted, Glantry." Padme gave one of her signature sighs and smiled sadly. "Now I understand that I want more than friendship. I want what you and Samantha had. The real Samantha. I know now that I won't settle for less." She stood and gracefully moved toward the open arches, the drapes fluttering around her.
Her voice rippled back to him, "The Tau'ri say 'Time heals all wounds.' But time hasn't yet healed you, Glantry. Even now you grieve for her. I don't know what will happen, but time must be given a chance for us."
Glantry sat up straight, suddenly confused, "What are you saying Padme?"
"I'm saying that I won't be going back to Farpoint with you. And I won't continue to be your wife. We need time, Glantry. We both need time. Maybe someday…" She turned her back to him and gazed at the lake.
He had one final argument, "What about your career? Your work at Farpoint? Don't they mean anything to you?"
"Of course they do. But it's already done, Glantry. The Admiral has approved my extended leave."
Naboo - the lakeside
Padme was dressed very simply by Nabooian standards. The gown was dove grey silk, its full skirts and long bell sleeves only heightening Padme's youthfulness. Her hair was braided like a coronet, with cascades of fine black lace falling down her back. The only jewelry she wore was the single strand of BalMornian pearls that Glantry had given her for a wedding gift.
This had all happened so quickly, Glantry had not realized that he didn't own a dress suit. The last one he owned had been burned in the fire that had changed his life. This morning he had chosen to wear his New Republic uniform.
With three witnesses standing silently by, the couple grasped the handle of a large silver urn and drew water from the lake. Side by side they poured the water into two separate goblets and then set the urn aside.
Padme delicately lifted her goblet and poured the water back into the lake, her voice was clear and strong as she said, "What was mine I now return. Freedom and peace are yours."
Uncomfortable with the ritual, Glantry schooled his face and emotions. He quietly repeated the words that she said and emptied his own goblet back into the lake.
Each of the witness came forward to bow; first to Padme, then to Glantry. Then all three walked toward the nearby temple. When they were alone, Padme gave Glantry a resolute smile, dropped into a graceful curtsy and without a word turned and walked away.