The craft had entered the Naboo Sector. The distinguished passengers of Space Force One converged on the main bridge to watch the approach. The large viewscreen flickered once and then the jewelled planet filled its entirety. There was a collective sigh.

"Isn't she beautiful?" murmured Chancellor-Elect Palpatine with all his characteristic sentimentality.

The austere figure standing beside the Chancellor nodded his grave acquiescence. Mentally, Jedi Councillor Windu gave the being on the other side of Palpatine a small nudge.

His old friend, Ki Adi Mundi nudged back.

Councillor Mundi turned slightly to Chancellor Palpatine and spoke gravely.

"Your Excellency is pleased, I'm sure, that the crisis was resolved so quickly."

"Of course!" The Chancellor replied in surprise. Then he checked himself at once. "Your Grace, it's not that I'm particularly pleased. Not at all. It won't have made any difference if a world other than my own – I mean, I would be equally as happy to see such a crisis resolved on Kashyyyk or Alderaan." The Chancellor rambled on as he took pains to explain how seriously he regarded his new position of political neutrality.

Councillor Mundi barely hid his smile. Not exactly a sentient that paid his cards close to his chest, was their new Chancellor. At any rate, his transparency was a refreshing change to the inscrutable Valorum and the scores of increasingly double-faced workers at the Senate.

The craft was skimming over low clouds and white vapour filled the viewscreen.

"Even my admiration of Naboo's beauty is more of accepting an academic fact that any kind of patriotically biased opinion. Not that I am not patriotic, far from it, Your Graces," Chancellor Palpatine was saying earnestly.

Councillor Windu looked grimly ahead and rolled his eyes. "Four years," he told Ki Adi mentally.

"I say two. And he steps down himself."


"Winner's pick."

"You're on."

The craft broke threw the atmosphere and the city of Theed loomed up before them, as radiant as an organic gem.

The Chancellor made another purely academic sigh of pleasure and the Jedi Masters had to resort to using Force calming techniques to maintain their straight faces.