Star Wars: Episode I – Chapter VI

by E.V. Jacob on August 9, 2012

The small ship touched down lightly on the swampy surface of the uninhabited regions of Naboo.

Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan hurried down the ramp and began scouting the area, following Dex’s map of possible locations for the Gungans’ various hiding places. They had found nothing at their first stop, and time was running out.

This time was different, though – Obi-Wan could feel it the second they set foot in the swamps, their feet sinking into the dark, wet soil. They could sense that the Gungans were near, and probably armed.

They spotted a few well-concealed traps along the way, carefully avoiding them as they went. The walk was uneventful until a dart shot towards Obi-Wan. He dodged, but before he could regain his footing, a torrent of arrows shot in their direction. The two Jedi drew their lightsabers in a flash and cut through the onslaught, casting weary glances around for their attackers.

Without a sound, the Gungan soldiers emerged from the trees, armed and angry. The Jedi Knights glanced at one another, then slowly put their hands up.

Qui-Gon spoke softly. “We have not come to harm you, please. Queen Adriane asks for an audience with your leader – your planet is under attack.”

For a few tense seconds, no one said anything. Obi-Wan moved only his eyes, sliding them over to watch his Master, in case he had any idea what to do. The plan seemed to be to wait, though, so they did.

Finally, one of the Gungan soldiers lowered his weapon and raised his hand to his soldiers. They slowly turned their weapons down, still watching the Jedi closely, suspiciously.

“The Naboo Queen wants to talk to a Gungan?” the lead soldier asked, eyes narrowed.

Qui-Gon nodded. “She believes that together, the Gungans and Nubians can stop the Trade Federation from taking over and devastating this planet.”

The Gungan before them gave what Obi-Wan could only assume was a sardonic smile and nodded.

“Yes. Bring the Queen of Naboo here,” he said.

* * *
The walk back to the Gungan camp was a lot more difficult with the queen’s entourage trailing along with them. It was later in the day, and the swamp had gone from cool and mildly humid to stiflingly hot and muggy.

“How are we going to negotiate with these Gungans?” Obi-Wan asked, keeping his voice low as he pushed thick leaves out of their path.

“Honestly, I’m hoping the Queen will have some insight into that…” Qui-Gon admitted.

Obi-Wan glanced back at the adorned ladies. They had simplified their outfits for this trek, but they were still ill-suited to marching through a swamp. He could only hope that the Queen, whichever one she was, would be able to handle the negotiations.

Once at the Gungan camp, they were led by unfriendly soldiers to the leader, a large Gungan who went by the title “Boss Nass.” They approached him and bowed graciously, hoping to get things off to a good start.

He surveyed them, guarded and withdrawn. “What brings you here?”

Before anyone else could say anything, the Queen stepped forward and squared her shoulders. She was about to speak when Cordelia stepped up and placed a hand on the Queen’s arm. Obi-Wan wondered why a handmaiden was stopping the Queen.

They exchanged a look, and the Queen stepped back to the group.

Cordelia turned to face the Gungan leader. “Thank you for permitting us to enter your camp, Boss Nass. I am Cordelia Adriane, Queen of Naboo.”

Obi-Wan was glad that he wasn’t expected to say anything during this exchange, because he was too shocked by this revelation to think of anything coherent. Qui-Gon, on the other hand, looked thoughtful. He must have had his suspicions. Obi-Wan made a mental note to improve his skills at detecting lies.

The Queen – the true Queen – explained the situation to the Gungans; how the Trade Federation had invaded, how their droid armies were holding major cities captive, and planning to move to every corner of the planet, and how the only hope for Naboo’s continued safety and freedom was to unite and face this threat as one.

“You come to the Gungans now, asking us to risk our lives to save you?”

“To save our planet. The Gungans will not be safe if the Trade Federation is allowed to continue. They will start with us, but they will eventually reach you. And sooner rather than later.”

Boss Nass considered this, but he didn’t seem convinced.

“I am telling you this because I want to give your people a fighting chance. The Gungans deserve their freedom – and to fight to protect their freedom – as much as my people do. Though we disagree on many things, I think we can find common ground on that. Perhaps you won’t stand with us, but will you at least stand against our common enemy?”

At this, the Gungan leader smiled. Or at least, he seemed to be smiling.

“The Gungans do deserve that, don’t they? Just as much as you, you say? You are a strange Queen, Adriane – you are different from the ones I’ve met before. We will help you, Queen Adriane. We will stand against this ‘Trade Federation’ and show them what those born of Naboo are really made of.”

The Queen smiled and nodded. And then the planning began.

* * *
Qui-Gon’s communicator beeped. He looked surprised, but clicked it on, walking away from the table where a holographic map displayed the capital city of Naboo, Theed. Something of a rudimentary war committee had formed and was gathered around the map, discussing the best course of action.

He answered the call, pulling up a little hologram in his hand.

“Master Qui-Gon,” Yoda said. He sounded displeased.

“Hello, Master Yoda.”

“Lost Anakin we have.”

Qui-Gon blinked, “You – what? Where could he be?”

“Not in the temple he is. Find him I think you shall. With you I believe he is.”

“With us? Here?” Qui-Gon asked, still stunned.

“Indeed,” Yoda said shortly. “Be safe, Master Qui-Gon. May the Force be with you.”

“May the Force be with you…” Qui-Gon responded automatically, his mind racing.

“Anakin is here?”

Qui-Gon turned to see that Obi-Wan had followed him away from the war committee.

“Master Yoda seems to believe so. We have to get to the ship quickly. We must find him.”

The two Jedi hurried away from the battle plans and back to the ship. Obi-Wan tried to focus on the boy’s presence, but he couldn’t sense Anakin. He wasn’t surprised by this; the boy could shield himself amazingly well.

They looked all around the ship, but there were many places where a small child could hide. Using the Force was almost useless in this situation, since as far as they could tell, he wasn’t there.

After quite some time, Qui-Gon finally found Anakin, fast asleep behind several stacks of boxes in the very back of the storage room.

“Anakin,” he said, shaking the boy awake.

Anakin woke, startled.

“Anakin, what are you doing here?”

The boy blinked a few times, trying to shake off the daze of sleep. “I…didn’t want to stay behind.”

“Anakin – you…” Qui-Gon shook his head and squeezed the boy’s shoulder. “You can’t just sneak off with us. That’s a terrible thing to do – the Jedi were very worried about you. And this is no place for a child.”

“I know,” Anakin said softly, “but…I didn’t know anyone there. I didn’t want to stay there all alone.”

Qui-Gon sighed heavily, he was not happy about this, though he realized he shouldn’t be surprised – Anakin was far from his home, and had just lost his mother. Attaching to someone even vaguely familiar was not in the least unusual. The Jedi Master felt guilty for not considering this earlier.

“Well, I can’t leave you here. Come on, now. You’re going to get to see a real war council at work,” Qui-Gon said, leading the boy away.

* * *
The Trade Federation representatives stared blankly at the messenger droid.

“Could you…repeat that?” Nute asked. He was standing in the palace, and up until a moment ago, he’d been feeling rather pleased with himself on the progress they’d made in conquering Theed.

“There is an army marching on the city,” the messenger droid repeated. It consists largely of Gungan forces.”

Nute turned to Rune, his fellow representative, but neither had any idea what to do with this situation.

Sitting on the throne, drumming his fingers idly, Darth Maul pulled out his communicator and called up his Master. When he’d explained the situation, his Master considered this carefully.

“It seems as though I have underestimated these Jedi. They have gone beyond simply protecting the Queen – Darth Maul, go. You are free to take whatever action necessary. Just remember your commitment to me,” he added in a hiss.

“I understand, Master.” Darth Maul ended the call and stood up. He grinned at the members of the Trade Federation and said, “I’m running things now. And this is no longer an invasion – it’s a war.”

* * *
The Gungans had amassed an impressive army – much more than Queen Adriane had thought them capable of – and with that army, they drew the attention of the Trade Federation’s forces upon themselves.

It was risky, and she could feel the guilt hanging over her if things on her end went wrong. Tens of thousands of lives would be lost if she failed.

Cordelia didn’t dwell on that, though. Now that her identity had been revealed to her crew and the Jedi, she openly took matters into her own hands, and she needed to focus on the mission at hand.

She led them along the back streets of the city, which were eerily quiet and deserted. Cordelia wasn’t sure if everyone was in hiding, or if her people had been imprisoned.

As they got closer to the palace, the guard grew heavier. A droid wandered into view, patrolling the area, but the group slipped around it, sneaking by unnoticed.

They were almost to the passages that would lead to the palace. These hidden walkways had been built as a security measure, to allow the Queen to escape in the event of an emergency, but she supposed sneaking in to reclaim her throne was just as valid a purpose.

Cordelia peeked around the corner and cursed under her breath. There were two droids blocking their path. There was no way to sneak by and still reach the passages – they would have to fight.

She glanced back at her group – her four handmaidens, all of whom were trained in combat, Captain Panaka, who was also a skilled fighter, and the Jedi. And Anakin – they couldn’t leave him in the Gungan camp, since that had become part of the battle field. Bringing him along wasn’t ideal, either, but Qui-Gon felt too responsible for the boy to leave him behind.

He would complicate things, no doubt.

“There are droids ahead. On my mark,” she said quietly.

“Milady, if we may,” Qui-Gon said, gesturing to his lightsaber.

Cordelia nodded. “Very well. Make it quick.”

The Jedi nodded and advanced.

“Halt. State your name and security clearance,” one of the droids said in a robotic voice.

“My name is Qui-Gon Jinn, and I’m sure I don’t have permission to be here.”

There was an electric crackling as their lightsabers came to life. Within seconds, the droids were incapacitated.

Obi-Wan poked his head around the corner, grinning with the excitement of the day. “All clear.”

They moved forward, but Anakin stopped at one of the droids.

“Wait. I have an idea,” he said.

Cordelia was about to protest, but Anakin was already tearing a panel open on one of the droid’s heads, pulling at the wiring and control chips. He moved quickly, his little fingers working nimbly. He took one of the droid’s eyes and wired it to the chips he held in his hand, then twisted a few wires together and prodded the chip gently with one of the tools that he seemed to carry with him everywhere he went.

There was a soft crackling, and then a hologram sprang up, showing a detailed map of their area. There was a small orange dot, indicating their position, and many green dots surrounding the map.

“What are those green spots?” Captain Panaka asked.

Anakin studied the map. “They’re other droids. Stationed at their guard posts.”

Cordelia raised her eyebrows. Maybe the boy wouldn’t be such a hindrance. He was still in danger, though, and that worried her.

She pushed her attachments aside and nodded, giving Anakin a small smile. “That’ll be incredibly useful. Thank you, Anakin.”

She was rewarded with a small smile, and they resumed their walk, using the map to chart the best course to the palace.

It was calm inside the hidden passage ways, but once they reached the palace, all hell broke loose.

* * *
Nute and Rune sealed off the throne room and assured themselves that they were safe. From there, they watched the battle rage between the Gungans and the droids, and followed the movements of their droids on a large map that hung over the room.

“Our droid army is far stronger than their primitive forces,” Rune said.

“Absolutely,” Nute agreed.

They watched the battle unfold, pretending not to feel as tense and afraid as they did. Neither mentioned the Sith, or what they thought he might do. They were simply relieved to be away from him.

* * *
Darth Maul had to be very careful – the situation was tricky, and there were much more important things than the possession of a small planet and the assassination of a queen at stake.

Certainly, those objectives were still on his mind, but Darth Maul had a much more important set of orders to follow, and if he could secure his one main goal, then everything else would fall into place.

He walked through the halls quickly, letting the Force guide him. Whenever he encountered someone who was of no use to him, he would run them through with his lightsaber, or slash them across the face and chest. The Jedi would recognize the marks. They would realize he was there. They would come for him.

* * *
“Where are we going?” Obi-Wan asked. The hall was dark and damp, and he had to duck his head now and then. He felt bad for Qui-Gon, who was considerably taller, and had to stoop almost the whole way.

“The hangar bay – there’s a storage room on the map that looks like it’s heavily guarded, which probably means prisoners are being held there. Likely pilots. If we can free them, we’ll have a huge boost to our side – no one flies like Nubian pilots.”

Cordelia was in the lead, holding the little map Anakin had engineered from the droid’s internal guidance chip. She led them to a circular room that opened up from the tunnel they’d just been inside. There were five other tunnels branching out from there.

The Queen seemed to be counting. Finally, she led them down the center tunnel. It was a long walk, but the dread that hung over them, and the fear of what they’d find when they had to leave the safety of the tunnel, made it far too short.

When they reached the end of the tunnel, they found a blank stone wall with only a number pad in the center. Cordelia punched in a code, and they all waited, silent and breathless, to see if it would work.

It did. Cautiously, they stepped out into the hall. A few battle droids stood ten yards down, but Cordelia’s guards took them out quickly, and the group followed the Queen to the hangar.

“Anakin, find a place to hide,” Qui-Gon instructed, drawing his lightsaber.

The plan was to charge in, free the pilots, then get the Queen to the throne room. It would be chaotic, and dangerous, and utterly unpredictable.

For once, Anakin did as he was told without question.

The group entered the hangar, and the battle began.

Droids fired rapidly, taking out two of the handmaidens. Anakin was frozen by the sight, but Obi-Wan grabbed him and shoved the child behind a large piece of machinery. Anakin fell to the floor, and for a moment was disoriented. When he regained his bearings, he could see that he was behind a hydraulic lift, used to raise technicians up so they could repair hard-to-reach areas of ships.

He crawled around the machine on his stomach until he could see what was happening in the hangar.

There were about twenty small fighter-class ships – absolutely beautiful, the kind of thing he could have stared at for hours. At the very end of the hangar, like it had just arrived, was the ship the Jedi had taken to Tatooine, the one Anakin had first ridden on. Apparently, Qui-Gon had been right to think that the ship would not be safe.

The droids that were unloading the ship raced over to the other end of the hangar, guns drawn and firing wildly. The Queen and her guard had taken refuge behind some supply boxes, popping out to fire at droids, then ducking back down to avoid being hit.

The Jedi had not hidden – both were right in the middle of the droids, lightsabers flashing madly. Qui-Gon waved his hand and a whole group of droids was thrown back and out of the mouth of the hangar. Anakin marveled at the gesture, the simplicity of it, and the power of it.

Obi-Wan slashed and ducked, moving so fast that he was almost as much of a blur as the blade of his lightsaber. When droids shot at him, he knocked the blasts right back at their owners, taking them out with their own guns.

The droids piled onto the two Jedi, and Cordelia led her group around to the room she thought would house her pilots. Almost all the guards had left to join the fight, and those that remained were distracted. Captain Panaka charged ahead, gunning down the droids and punching in the code to open the doors.

Nothing happened, though. The Jedi still fought the droids, but Cordelia and her captain couldn’t get the storage room to open.

Anakin crept around on his stomach, then onto his knees. He scurried around the edges of the room, staying low to avoid any stray blasts. He watched the battle closely, hoping he’d have time to duck if a stray shot came his way.

He saw it out of the corner of his eye, a beam of energy shot toward him, slicing through the air at an impossible speed. Anakin reacted without thinking, twisting his body and throwing his hands out to protect himself, like he might push the beam away.

The beam of energy exploded in midair, as though it had hit its target. The blast threw Anakin against the wall, and singed his clothes and hair, but he was alive. He wasn’t sure what he’d done, but he didn’t have time to dwell on that – he got to his feet and ran flat out toward the Queen.

Cordelia was madly punching at the keypad as Captain Panaka and the two remaining handmaidens kept the droids at bay. Anakin slid up to the Queen’s side, stumbling to a halt.

“Here. Let me.”

He tore off the back of the panel and went to work on the wires while Cordelia joined the fight.

The doors hummed and slid open.

Inside were about twenty pilots sitting on the floor, with more than a dozen droids standing guard over them. The droids began to fire when they saw who had opened the doors.

“Look out!” Anakin said, diving out of the way.

The other four turned and opened fire on the advancing droids. Anakin tried to replicate what he’d done earlier, but he couldn’t do anything – apparently, his previous success had been a fluke.

While some of the droids guarding the pilots fought, others turned their guns on the pilots, who were scrambling to their feet and rushing to the open doors. Anakin couldn’t see them well, but he could hear their cries.

A hole appeared in Captain Panaka’s forehead – clean and perfectly round, burned right through. He fell just feet before Anakin, his eyes open and empty.

The boy stared at the body. He hadn’t been fond of Captain Panaka, but he hadn’t expected – or wanted – him to die. Anakin reached forward and took the Captain’s gun. At the very least, he could try his best to survive this.

The air crackled with electricity and heat, and the cries of others echoed all around the vast chamber. Anakin fired at every droid he could see, losing himself in the chaos.

As quickly as it had started, the battle came to an end, with the last remaining droids falling to the ground. Anakin looked around, surveying the damage.

Eight of the twenty pilots were dead, along with all but one of Cordelia’s handmaidens, and of course, Captain Panaka. The Queen looked terrible, bruised and bloody, her left arm cradled in her right as though it were broken.

But she didn’t hesitate for an instant. “Pilots, man your ships. Get out there and find the control ship for the droid army; it’s in orbit above the planet. Jedi, we have to reach the throne room, I need to reclaim the palace.”

Everyone rushed to obey their orders, and the Jedi hurried to Cordelia’s side.

“Good work, Anakin,” the Queen said. She wasn’t speaking to him like he was a child anymore – she sounded like she was addressing one of her soldiers.

“Stay here, stay out of sight, I’ll come back for you,” Qui-Gon instructed as he led the Queen out.

Anakin nodded and leaned back against the wall, his heart hammering and his mind racing. He closed his eyes and tried to control his breathing, but it was all too much.

Not for the first time, Anakin wished for his mother.

* * *
The Jedi led the Queen and her lone handmaiden down the hall. As they went, they saw the unmistakable evidence of lightsaber burns on several bodies.

Obi-Wan’s stomach lurched. “You don’t think it’s—”

“I do,” Qui-Gon answered grimly.

“Master, Anakin is here…” Obi-Wan whispered.

Qui-Gon nodded. “We shouldn’t have left him in the hangar.”

Everything was wrong. How were they going to secure Naboo’s victory and keep the Sith from getting the Chosen One, all without getting themselves killed in the process?

Qui-Gon seemed to be thinking along the same lines.

“Obi-Wan, stay with the Queen, get her to the throne room. I’m going back for Anakin.”

“Master, are you sure that’s –”

“It’s the only choice we have. May the Force be with you,” he said, hurrying back the way they’d come.

Obi-Wan took a deep breath and turned to Cordelia.

“Lead the way,” he said.

Obi-Wan was far more alert and afraid with his Master gone. He had always known that someday he’d have to face these things alone, but he hadn’t expected it to be today.

When they reached the throne room, Cordelia tried the code, but it had been changed.

“It’s a shame we left Anakin in the hangar…” the handmaiden said, glaring at the door,

“Allow me. I don’t have the boy’s finesse with machinery but…well…I think I can do something about this,” Obi-Wan said, stepping forward.

He drew his lightsaber and plunged it into the door.

* * *
Qui-Gon ran the length of the hall back to the hangar. It was too far – he would never make it in time. The Sith had been prepared, and they had not. Qui-Gon had let this detail slip through the cracks, and now the Jedi might lose the Chosen One.

He might lose Anakin.

“Anakin!” he called as soon as the hangar was in sight. How could he have let the child stay there alone? Amidst all that chaos, and all that danger? What had he been thinking?

Qui-Gon couldn’t sense Anakin anywhere, but he focused his mind and tried anyway.

“Anakin?” he called again as he stepped into the hangar.

Behind him, a lightsaber crackled to life.

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***DISCLAIMER: Obviously, these characters aren’t ours, because none of us are named George Lucas, and none of us are crazy-rich off the Star Wars franchise. We have omitted some characters, added some people, and altered a few basic plot points, but the Star Wars stories still don’t belong to us. Everything belongs to George Lucas – we’re doing this purely for the fun of it.***

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