"Six Flags Over Coruscant"
STANDARD DISCLAIMER: The characters in
this story belong to George Lucas. While Six Flags Coruscant is obviously
a fictitious place, there really are Six Flags amusement parks, and they
are owned by Warner Brothers.
It was a beautiful Saturday morning on Coruscant. Sunlight glinted cheerfully off of every available reflective surface, and the sky was a gorgeous bright blue. The very slightest breeze occasionally moved through the mild spring air. All in all, it was a perfect day for going to an amusement park.
Not that the thought of doing so would ever have entered Supreme Chancellor Palpatine's mind. He would have been perfectly content to spend some time out on his balcony puttering around with his small collection of potted plants. Perhaps later he would curl up in his favorite chair (the one that was currently sitting in its very own inviting pool of morning sunlight) and read a good book. Alas, Fate had other plans for the good Chancellor that lovely Saturday morning. In fact, Fate began ringing his doorbell just as he was sipping his morning coffee and thinking about going out on the balcony to take a look at his plants. One of his petunias (the really gorgeous purple one) looked ready to blossom, and he was anxious to check on its progress. Sighing in exasperation, Palpatine went to the door. He was rather dismayed to see Queen Amidala standing there, surrounded by her retinue of handmaidens. Ordinarily, he would have been pleased to see her, but this morning was different. For one thing, he had been looking forward to his appointments with his petunias and his book. For another, he would have preferred to greet his Queen while wearing something more appropriate (and less revealing) than a blue silk dressing gown and a pair of matching velvet slippers. Recalling that one of the Queen's handmaidens had a fondness for older men and a penchant for occasionally administering a surreptitious pinch to the backsides of men that she found particularly attractive, he warily cast his eyes over the royal attendants. For once, luck appeared to be on his side, as Sabé was nowhere in sight.
"Good morning, Chancellor." the Queen said cheerfully. Or rather, as cheerfully as she ever said anything. As always, her speech was tinged with the aristocratic accent of the well-born Nubian, making her voice sounded oddly forced and slightly strangulated.
"Your Majesty, what a pleasant surprise," he lied as the Queen and her attendants glided into his apartment. "Please forgive my, ah, current state of dress." The Queen turned to eye him critically.
"You should don more suitable attire, Chancellor. We will wait."
"I am almost afraid to ask, Your Majesty. Suitable for what?"
"Why, to appear at our side when we cut the ribbon to open the newest attraction at Six Flags Coruscant, of course." Palpatine gave a passing thought to his budding petunia and sighed.
"As Your Majesty wishes." As he headed towards his bedroom, the Queen's haughty voice stopped him.
"Chancellor, be sure to dress appropriately. We will expect you to accompany us on the attraction's maiden run." It appeared that the day was getting worse by the second for the Chancellor.
"Yes, Your Majesty," he agreed, trying very hard but nevertheless failing to summon enthusiasm appropriate for the occasion. The Queen's next words surprised him.
"You mustn't blame us for this, Chancellor. Bringing you along was not our idea." He raised his eyebrows.
"Obi-Wan, Anakin and Padmé are under the impression that you don't have enough 'fun' in your life." Palpatine frowned. He was certain he had heard the name "Padmé" before, but he simply couldn't place it at the moment.
"Are they indeed? Well I must say it doesn't surprise me in the least that Obi-Wan and Anakin are behind this, but who, pray tell, is Padmé?" The Queen smiled.
"She is our most loyal and trusted handmaiden, Chancellor." The Queen said. As she spoke, one of the handmaidens stepped forward and gave Palpatine a slight courtsey, which he returned with a rather ironic bow, dressed (or rather, undressed) as he was.
"I see. Well then I shall go see if I can find something to wear that is suited to the occasion. Please excuse me for a moment, Your Majesty."
"Of course. Oh, and one more thing, Chancellor."
"Nice legs!" Blushing furiously, Palpatine gathered the tattered remains of his dignity and went to get dressed.
It was still a beautiful
morning at Six Flags Coruscant. The sun was still shining, the breeze
was still pleasant, and sky was still blue. Naturally, the first
person Palpatine encountered as he entered the park was one of the two
people he least wanted to see.
"Whazzzzap!" Anakin yelled, raising his hand for a high five greeting. Palpatine gave him a withering look before turning away. Obi-Wan (the other of the two people Palpatine least wanted to see) snickered.
"I TOLD you he'd still be mad about that night at Mr. McGregor's Garden," Obi-Wan said. Anakin shrugged.
"He'll get over it."
"Not in this lifetime I won't," Palpatine snapped without turning around.
"See?" Anakin said. "It's just like I told you, he's a miserable old bastard. He should be HAPPY that he has friends like us who make him get out of that apartment once in awhile." Palpatine glanced back at Anakin, his eyes shooting daggers, then rather huffily hurried forward to walk with the Queen. Padmé moved out of her place in the Queen's retinue to walk next to Anakin.
"You sure do have a way with people," she murmured. He grinned and put his arm around her. Up ahead, the Queen and Palpatine had stopped in front of a large sign that read "OPENS TODAY!" They were engaged in an animated discussion with a young man wearing the uniform of a Six Flags employee. Padmé smiled at Anakin. "Time for me to go attend the Queen," she said ironically. She gave him a quick kiss and melted into the crowd.
"Look who else is here," Obi-Wan said quietly, indicating the dais where the Queen and Palpatine were standing.
"Rats," Anakin exclaimed as he spotted Mace Windu and Yoda standing a little behind Palpatine. Their presence rather put a damper on things, as it meant that the two young Jedi would have to behave themselves.
"You know what they say," Obi-Wan said mildly. "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." Anakin shrugged.
"Sure, why not?" They pushed their way through the crowd and approached the security people situated around the dais. One Jedi Mind Trick later, and the two young men stood proudly beside Yoda and Windu, neither of whom seemed terribly surprised to see them. They were listening attentively as the Queen gave her speech.
"…and so we officially declare Six Flags Coruscant's newest attraction, Darth Maul's Nasty Fall, open for business!" The Queen, Palpatine, and the park employee together wielded a large pair of scissors and rather awkwardly cut the red ribbon at the ride's entrance. The crowd applauded enthusiastically. Next, the park employee stepped up to the podium.
"Darth Maul's Nasty Fall is a unique addition to this park. This ride can accommodate up to four passengers at a time. Once they are secured in the car, the passengers will be taken to the top of the thirteen story steel tower, where they will remain suspended for a few seconds. The car will then release and plummet to the ground on its steel track, allowing the passengers to experience nearly two full seconds of weightlessness. At this time, I would like to invite Queen Amidala and Supreme Chancellor Palpatine to choose two other people to accompany them as they ride this attraction on its maiden run." The Queen again stepped up to the podium.
"We are afraid that we cannot ride this attraction, sir. Heights make us quite ill. We would ask that you allow our most trusted handmaiden, Padmé, to ride in our stead. We would also be pleased if you would allow our good friend Anakin Skywalker to participate as well."
"Yesssss!" Anakin exulted. He slapped Obi-Wan a quick high five as Palpatine, who completely missed that small exchange, stepped up to the podium.
"I would like to invite Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi to accompany us as well," he said rather smugly, mistakenly believing that he was exacting a mild form of revenge on the young Jedi for a certain drunken evening at a certain Coruscant nightspot. As Obi-Wan jumped up and down while whooping with glee, Palpatine belatedly recalled that not everyone disliked amusement park rides as much as he. This simply isn't my day, he thought as the park employee escorted them to the ride. He watched as Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Padmé boarded the ride and pulled the heavy safety harnesses down over their heads.
"Are you coming, Chancellor?" Padmé inquired casually. Resigning himself to the inevitable, he climbed on board, took the remaining empty seat next to Padmé and attempted to secure his safety harness.
"This doesn't seem right," he said as he struggled with it.
"It's supposed to snap in and stay down," Padmé said as she tried to help him. Palpatine had a few bad moments as he pictured the ride commencing before they got the damn thing secured, but it finally snapped into place. "See? Like that." He nodded, looking pale and apprehensive. "Don't worry, you won't fall out. These things are very safe." Her words failed to reassure him. He gave the young handmaiden a rather unconvincing smile.
"Hey, Padmé," Anakin called. "Didja hear about the guy who died on a ride like this at Six Flags Dantooine?"
"Oh be quiet, Anakin." she said, unable to refrain from laughing. Encouraged, he enthusiastically continued his litany of doom and gloom.
"It's true. It was a guy about Palpatine's age. Had a heart attack or something. I think they said his safety harness wasn't snapped in right. What a way to go. Of course, they said that if the heart attack hadn't killed him, the fall would have done it."
"Anakin…" Padmé said reprovingly, suddenly not finding this particular brand of teasing very amusing.
"It's quite all right, dear girl," Palpatine said mildly. "He thinks he's being clever, but truth be told, the poor boy simply isn't bright enough for it."
"Hey!" Anakin protested, laughing.
"He's right, you know," Obi-Wan observed. "You're not all that bright."
"I totally agree." Padmé said.
"Oh thanks for making it anonymous!" Anakin said.
"I think you mean unanimous," Palpatine suggested helpfully as Padmé and Obi-Wan laughed. "And thank you for proving my point."
"Yeah, whatever," Anakin muttered. Just then, the ride shuddered into motion and began its slow ascent up the steel tower. "Hey, let's make out," Anakin suggested to Padmé, simultaneously craning his neck in an attempt to make good on his suggestion.
"I can see the Jedi Temple from here," Obi-Wan exclaimed excitedly. Padmé was laughing at Anakin's renewed efforts to make out with her despite the restraint of their safety harnesses. The Chancellor watched for a few moments.
"Please excuse me for butting in," Palpatine finally said. "But aren't you two being a bit disloyal to Queen Amidala?"
"What?" Padmé asked, sounding distracted.
"You are the Queen's trusted handmaiden! And Anakin is her… well, her special friend."
"Oh," Padmé said, frowning. "I see your point." The ride reached the very top of the tower and paused, giving them an excellent view of the entire park as the car swayed gently in the slight breeze. "Well, I suppose it's time you knew the truth anyway. I am Queen Amidala."
"You're WHAT?" he exclaimed. Further conversation on that topic was made impossible, for at that moment the car was released to plummet thirteen stories while its four passengers screamed at the top of their lungs. When Palpatine dared to risk opening his eyes, he found that they'd returned to their starting point.
"Now THAT was a nasty fall!" Padmé (or rather, Queen Amidala) exclaimed happily as she freed herself from her safety harness.
"My goodness, is it over already?" Palpatine croaked.
"Are we there yet, Mommy?" Anakin groaned.
"Do you think they'd let me go back and get my stomach?" Obi-Wan asked.
"What a bunch of wimps." Padmé said scornfully.
"Guilty as charged," Palpatine readily admitted as he clambered out of his seat. As they climbed out of the car, they noticed Yoda and Windu talking with the Six Flags employee. The young man was holding a blue painted stick up next to Yoda, who was shaking his head in resignation.
"What's going on, Master Yoda?" Obi-Wan asked. Yoda sighed.
"Always happens this does. Too short am I to ride this ride. Dislike amusement parks for this reason I do."
"Tough break," Anakin said, giving him a consoling pat on the shoulder.
"Man," Windu said. "You'd think that they'd make an exception for an 800 year old Jedi Master."
"Followed the rules must be, Master Windu. For our own safety they are made. Come, the Ferris Wheel we will ride." Yoda sighed as he and Windu walked away.
"C'mon," Anakin said. "Let's go ride something else." The group began walking up the midway.
"Hey, check it out!" Anakin exclaimed. "The Corkscrew!" They all stopped to take a look. The blue and white steel rollercoaster was aptly named, as it looked almost exactly like a giant corkscrew lain on its side. Palpatine watched as a car full of riders climbed slowly up an impossibly high incline only to drop suddenly and rocket through the three loops of the corkscrew at what appeared to be supersonic speed. It looked dreadful.
"Doesn't that look like FUN?" Padmé asked him.
"To be honest with you, 'fun' isn't the first word that springs to mind."
"Let's go get in line," Obi-Wan suggested.
"You three go ahead without me," Palpatine said. "I think I'll stay here and watch."
"Wuss." Anakin snorted. Palpatine gave him a dirty look.
"Go on and get in line," Padmé said. "I'll be right there. I'm going to get a funnel cake." Palpatine walked with her over to the funnel cake stand, where Padmé ordered an extra large funnel cake and two coffees.
"You said something a little bit ago that I would like to ask you about," Palpatine said.
"Ask away," Padmé replied.
"Would you please explain exactly what you meant by claiming to be Queen Amidala?" Smiling, Padmé told him about her decoy/bodyguard, solving for him the mystery of the missing butt-pinching handmaiden. It was then that Palpatine recalled that his sovereign's full name was Padmé Amidala.
"Now," she admonished him, "you mustn't treat me like I am Queen Amidala, or you will blow my cover. You must address me as 'Padmé' and treat me as you'd treat Sabé."
"Only if you promise not to reciprocate."
"How so?" she asked. Regarding her gravely, he made a pinching gesture. Padmé laughed. "That I will promise you, Chancellor."
"That'll be twenty credits," the funnel cake lady told Padmé as she put two coffees and the hot, greasy, deep fried sugarcoated treat on the counter.
"Twenty credits? For THAT?" Palpatine was shocked.
"Yep." the funnel cake lady replied.
"That seems awfully expensive to me."
"Yeah, welcome to Six Flags Coruscant, have a nice day." the funnel cake lady replied. Padmé handed her a twenty credit note.
"Here," she said to Palpatine as she gave him one of the coffees. "My treat."
"Why thank you, Your… um, Padmé."
"Have some cake too," she offered, breaking off a large piece of the enormous, piping hot pastry. "I can't eat all this. It's huge." Munching, they walked back over to the Corkscrew. When they reached the entrance, Palpatine stopped. "Are you sure you don't want to come?" Padmé asked.
"Absolutely. I'll just wait right here, thank you."
"All right." She was looking at something behind Palpatine. "Oh, look, Chancellor - here comes Sabé. She doesn't like rides either, so she'll probably be more than happy to wait here with you." Palpatine turned and saw the young handmaiden wandering alone up the midway. He was able to spot her right away, though she had shed her Queen of the Naboo drag in favor of more functional attire. Luckily, she hadn't yet seen him. Forced to choose between a few minutes of abject terror and spending time with the woman who put the 'hand' in 'handmaiden', he muttered a particularly nasty Nubian curse word and grudgingly followed Padmé up the path to the Corkscrew.
wasn't as bad as it looked, Palpatine decided as they exited the ride.
It was actually much worse. He made a silent vow that he'd never
again board another amusement park ride, even if it meant being molested
by an entire army of amorous handmaidens. Actually, that might
not be all that bad…
"What do you guys want to do next?" Anakin asked, derailing that particular train of thought. As they passed the entrance to a very tall rollercoaster called The Steel Phantom Menace, they saw Mace Windu and Yoda. Windu was measuring Yoda's height against the sign listing the guidelines for the rollercoaster and shaking his head.
"Guess your age within five years or your weight within five pounds! Only three credits!" called a voice from ahead. They approached a booth where a young woman with a megaphone stood before an enormous scale. Behind her were shelves full of typical amusement park prizes: cheap plastic mugs, zany oversized sunglasses, stuffed animals, etc..
"I'm game," Anakin told her. "Guess my age." She glanced at him briefly.
"Damn!" he exclaimed, thrusting his hands into his pockets and coming up with three crumpled one credit notes. He noticed that Palpatine was watching the proceedings with a faint smile on his face. "Why don't you try it, Palpatine?" he snapped irritably. "Or are you scared of THIS, too?" Still smiling, he stepped up to the booth.
"All right, guess my age."
"Sixty-five." Palpatine's face fell. "Am I right?"
"Gracious NO! I'm forty-six!" The other three screamed with laughter.
"Don't feel bad, Palpatine," Obi-Wan finally gasped. "At least you won something!" That remark caused them to break out laughing again. Palpatine remained unamused.
"What did I win?" he grumbled. She smiled brightly at him.
"I'm sorry sir, you'll have to show me some identification showing your age before I can award your prize." Padmé stepped forward.
"Wait a minute," she said. "Are you telling me that you don't recognize this man?" The woman stared at him blankly.
"No. Should I?" Her puzzled expression caused Obi-Wan and Anakin to dissolve into laugher yet again.
"This is Supreme Chancellor Palpatine!" Padmé informed her. The woman shrugged.
"Look, Miss, I don't care if he's Emperor of the Galaxy. He has to show ID to get his prize." Silently, Palpatine retrieved his hovercar license from his wallet and handed it to the woman, who scrutinized it as though she believed it might be a fake.
"Well, I'll be damned," she said, handing it back to him. "You really are forty-six. Hey, you want me to guess your weight?"
"No I do NOT," Palpatine replied frostily.
"OK, whatever. You can choose any prize from the top shelf." He considered the offerings briefly before pointing to a plush toy Ewok.
"At least he won't be sleeping alone tonight," Anakin said to Obi-Wan as the woman retrieved his prize. Ignoring him, Palpatine gallantly handed the Ewok to Padmé.
"Oh how sweet. Thank you!" she said, cuddling it. Anakin opened his mouth to make another smart remark, but she cut him off. "That's more than my boyfriend managed to win for me," she said significantly, shutting Anakin up for once. Palpatine found that he had a very difficult time resisting the juvenile urge to stick his tongue out at Anakin.
"There you go, Anakin," Obi-Wan said as they strolled up the midway. "Straight from your home planet." He indicated a sign reading Tatooine Twister. "Shall we go take a look?"
"Sure, why not?" Anakin replied. The ride in question had recently ended, and its passengers were filing out past them. The attraction was a platform equipped with two rows of seats. The platform was suspended between two large arms. As the ride was not in motion, it was not immediately apparent what it did. Well, this doesn't look too bad. Palpatine thought to himself. Perhaps I'll try it… His ego still smarting from the implication that he looked twenty years older than his actual age, he decided to throw caution to the wind in an attempt to prove to everyone (mostly himself) that he was still a carefree, impulsive youth at heart.
"Well, let's go then!" he said decisively, striding ahead of the others, who eyed him with disbelief. Shrugging, they followed.
As they found seats on the ride, they were surprised to see Mace Windu and Yoda walk over and board the ride. Yoda certainly appeared too short to ride the attraction, according to the guidelines listed at the entrance. A few moments later, the young woman who ran the attraction walked over to the ride. She was carrying a painted blue stick, and she motioned for Yoda to step down onto the ground. She measured him with the stick and shook her head. Yoda's ears drooped dejectedly.
"Come, Master Windu. Leaving Six Flags now are we." Windu disembarked and followed Yoda away. The young woman went to stand behind the attraction's controls, leaning forward to speak into a microphone:
"What did she say?" Palpatine asked Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan shrugged. The woman flipped a switch and the safety harnesses began to engage, beginning with the traditional over-the-head harness that moved down and locked into place. Next, T-shaped metal rods that sprouted from the floor in front of the riders went into motion, slowly moving between their legs and pressing the top, T-shaped portion VERY firmly against the riders' laps. Anakin yelped in surprise, Obi-Wan made a choking noise, and Palpatine's eyes widened. Padmé seemed oblivious to their discomfort. The rods continued to move, pressing against them even more firmly.
"Arrrrrrrrrgh!" Anakin yelled. "I thought this ride was called the Tatooine Twister, not the Nubian Nutcrusher!" Obi-Wan was gasping, and Palpatine's eyes had begun to water. Padmé was laughing, and all three men unknowingly shared the same thought simultaneously: BITCH. The woman who ran the attraction flipped another switch, and the platform began to swing gently between its two arms. Forward and back, forward and back. This isn't so bad, Palpatine thought. Forward and back, forward and back…. The ride began to pick up speed and suddenly lunged violently backward and then up, so that the platform was high in the air and the riders hung suspended upside down, held in their seats only by their safety harnesses. The platform jerked again, executing a complete spin on its axis, then holding the riders upside down yet again. It went through these motions several more times before violently flipping the platform around one last time, then slowing and finally stopping with the platform back in its original position.
Talking and laughing together, Anakin, Obi-Wan and Padmé quickly freed themselves from their safety harnesses. Palpatine didn't feel like laughing or even talking. He felt rather… unwell.
"Uh oh," Obi-Wan said as he caught a glimpse of Palpatine's face. Anakin followed his gaze.
"Oh boy, he's gonna hurl!" Anakin exclaimed cheerfully. "Look out!" he announced loudly to the park in general. "The Supreme Chancellor's gonna blow chunks!" Shooting Anakin a look, Padmé took Palpatine's arm and helped him off the ride. She led him to a nearby seat, where he collapsed, doubled over in misery.
"He doesn't look too good," Obi-Wan said conversationally.
"Yeah," Anakin agreed, watching Padmé as she stood over Palpatine, rubbing his back with one hand and talking quietly to him. "Ten credits says he yaks all over Padmé, right when she least expects it." Obi-Wan snorted.
"Do I look stupid enough to take a bet like that?" Mere seconds later, much to Padmé's chagrin and Palpatine's embarrassment, Obi-Wan's wisdom in not accepting Anakin's bet was proven as the Chancellor's coffee and funnel cake made an unwelcome reappearance.
They sat silently in
the back of Padmé's rented hovercar as it sped through the blue
Coruscant sky towards Palpatine's apartment building. The driver
stopped and opened the rear door for the Chancellor. As he was exiting
the car, Anakin spoke to him quietly.
"Uh, you know, if you feel up to it later, there's this new club called Liam's Lounge that just opened the other night. We thought we'd go check it out. Wanna come?" Palpatine gave him a disbelieving look.
"Do you think I'm some sort of masochist? Every time I go anywhere with you and Obi-Wan Kenobi, I end up being insulted, humiliated, and physically ill."
"Aw, c'mon - you didn't puke at Mr. McGregor's Garden." Anakin pointed out in a reasonable tone.
"No, I didn't. But you were not with me the morning after that debacle, were you?" Anakin shook his head, watching, amused, as the normally quiet, easygoing Chancellor began ranting like a maniac. "Even taking into account our complete and total failure to consume insanely large quantities of alcohol, I feel that I really outdid myself today. It is not often that one is given the opportunity to vomit outrageously overpriced greasy pastry all over one's sovereign after riding a Sith torture device cleverly disguised as an amusement park ride." Anakin was openly grinning. Padmé was trying unsuccessfully to stifle her giggles, and Obi-Wan hid a smile behind his hand.
"OK, OK," Anakin said, laughing. "But if you change your mind, you know where to find us." Palpatine shot him a look, gave Padmé a brief bow and exited the car.
"He seemed a bit upset." Obi-Wan observed. Anakin shrugged.
"He'll get over it."
Feeling refreshed after
a hasty shower, Palpatine made a cup of tea and walked into his living
room, cautiously sipping the hot beverage. The sun was still pouring
in through the large windows, his favorite chair still sat in its warm
pool of sunlight, and a stack of books waited on the small table next to
it. Through the glass doors of his balcony, Palpatine could see a
splotch of purple peeking over the top of one of the terra cotta pots arranged
in a neat row outside. For some reason, he felt utterly disinterested
in going out to look at his new petunia. He walked around his large,
lavishly appointed living room… his huge, silent, empty living room in
his huge, silent, empty apartment. He frowned. Sighing,
he went into his office and activated his computer, logged into the network
and searched for directions to Liam's Lounge.
AUTHOR'S NOTES ON SIX FLAGS CORUSCANT ATTRACTIONS:
The attractions depicted
in this short story are based on real amusement park rides. Darth
Maul's Nasty Fall was inspired by Mr. Hyde's Nasty Fall ™, and
The Tatooine Twister was inspired by Texas Twister ™, both
of which you can ride at Six Flags Ohio. If you're interested, you
can see pictures of them here:
The Corkscrew can be found at Cedar
Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio. A picture of the Corkscrew
as well as a first person POV Quicktime movie of the ride can be found
The Steel Phantom Menace is a play on The Steel Phantom, a rollercoaster at Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh, PA.
UPDATE (5/23/02): I have just learned that The Steel Phantom has been REMOVED from Kennywood Park. Evidently they've replaced it with a coaster called Phantom's Revenge.