"The Naboo Chronicles: Part 12"
STANDARD DISCLAIMER: George Lucas owns
Star Wars and the SW characters. I just play with them when
he's not watching. And I don't make any money from it, either.
"This is a hospital,"
Obi-Wan called out from the hospital's main entrance. "You cannot stand
in front of it blocking traffic." The reporters who were waiting to ambush
the beleaguered Chancellor ignored him, eagerly surging forward as Palpatine
appeared behind the Jedi Master. Anakin stood behind Palpatine, his dark
glower failing to discourage the crowd of journalists who immediately began
"Chancellor Palpatine, are you afraid of being voted out of office?" Palpatine shook his head imperceptibly as he followed Obi-Wan through the crowd.
"How's your wife taking all this, Chancellor?" Palpatine followed Obi-Wan, his head down, concentrating on watching the hem of Obi-Wan's brown cloak as the Jedi Master cleared a path through the crowd and flashbulbs went off all around them.
"Palpatine! Look over here!" Palpatine kept his head down, overcome by a sudden desire to behave contrarily by depriving the journalists of any usable holopics of his exit from the hospital.
"How did all these reporters get here so quickly?" Palpatine muttered under his breath as Obi-Wan led him through the crowd of reporters.
"Beats me," Anakin replied.
"Are you going to retire from politics if you're voted out, Chancellor?" another reporter called out.
"Palpatine, do you think Sabé will divorce you if you lose your position?"
"Don't you vultures have anything better to do?" Anakin shouted at the reporter, who immediately switched his focus to the young Jedi.
"Jedi Skywalker, how does it feel to be friends with a Sith collaborator?" Smiling pleasantly, Anakin cheerfully suggested that the reporter go perform a physically impossible act of masturbation.
"Don't, Anakin," Palpatine advised quietly. "They want to get a reaction, and you're obliging them nicely."
"We're almost there," Obi-Wan said, indicating the waiting air car hovering just ahead. He hurried forward and opened the door for the other two.
"Thank the gods," Palpatine muttered as he slid into the back seat of the air car. "I don't think I've ever been happier to see an air car in my life."
"I don't know how you stand it, Palpatine." Anakin said as he climbed into the car after the Chancellor. "Being followed around by a pack of paid stalkers would drive me nuts."
"Short drive," Obi-Wan said as he hurriedly clambered in beside Anakin, pulling the door shut behind him.
"Yeah, yeah," Anakin muttered. "Everyone's a comic."
"Are you two all settled? Belts all buckled and such?" Palpatine asked as he buckled his own safety belt. The two Jedi nodded. "Go," Palpatine instructed the driver, and the air car took off like a shot.
"You shouldn't stand
at the window like that," Sabé advised Padmé from her hospital
bed. "One of those reporters will take your picture."
"Surely not at this distance," Padmé murmured. However, she did withdraw from the window, pulling the curtain shut. "How are you feeling?" she asked her old friend.
"Tired," Sabé replied, giving Padmé a weak smile.
"Why don't you get some rest?" Padmé asked. "They won't be bringing the babies back for another feeding for awhile now." Sabé sighed.
"With all that is happening, how could I rest?"
"You have a point," Padmé agreed, pulling up a chair next to Sabé's bed. They sat in silence for so long that Padmé thought her friend has fallen asleep despite her protest. Finally, Sabé spoke.
"Padmé, do you regret sending your children to be trained as Jedi?"
"No, not at all. Of course, I haven't really sent them away. They are either on Naboo with us or at the Jedi Temple under Anakin's direct supervision. That's quite a bit different from sending one's children for fostering at the Temple."
"Yes, it is." Sabé agreed. "Do you think..." she paused, seemingly finding it difficult to put her thoughts into words. "Do you think the Jedi Council would agree to a similar arrangement with my children? Assuming they are suitably Force-gifted, of course," she added hastily. Padmé was astonished.
"I... I don't know," she stammered. "I suppose you would have to ask them." Sabé nodded slowly. "You want them to be trained as Jedi?" Padmé asked, still incredulous.
"Yes, I do." Sabé said firmly.
"How do you think Palpatine will take this news?" Sabé shrugged.
"I do not know, Padmé. But I do not want my children ever to be in a situation like Palpatine and I were in. I want my children to know how to use their abilities to defend themselves if ever they must."
"There are no more Sith," Padmé assured her friend. "That threat is gone from the Galaxy."
"You told me that Yoda said your children were born to fight the Darkness," Sabé reminded her. "If the Sith are extinct, how can his prophecy be true?"
"I don't know, Sabé," Padmé replied, trying to ignore the chill that went down her spine. "Perhaps he was wrong."
The Senate was in an
uproar by the time the Chancellor and the two Jedi arrived. The main "floor"
was dominated by the Alderaan and Trade Federation senate boxes, from which
Viceroy Bail Organa, the newly elected Alderaan Senator and Senator Lott
Dod argued back and forth. When the assembled Senators caught sight of
the Chancellor and the two Jedi arriving in the Naboo senate box, the whole
room erupted into chaos.
"Order! I will have order!" Senator Bel Ibis shouted from the Chancellor's podium as Palpatine navigated the Naboo box towards the podium.
"I got your order," Organa shouted at Ibis. "I got your order RIGHT HERE!"
"I was appointed by Supreme Chancellor Palpatine to chair this session. Until his return or the election of a new Chancellor, I am going to do so even if I have to call in some security people to maintain order!" Ibis thundered.
"Chair THIS!" Organa yelled, giving Ibis a rude gesture.
"That will be quite enough, Viceroy Organa!" Palpatine called out. The audio field automatically focused on the sound of his voice, amplifying it so that it filled the Senate chambers.
"Ahhh," Lott Dod breathed with satisfaction, "The Sssssith collaborator hassss found the courage to come before the Sssssenate again."
"The one who collaborated with the Sith has been here all along," Obi-Wan said accusingly. "You should have no trouble finding him in your mirror, Senator Dod." Obi-Wan held up a book he had produced from the deep pocket of his brown Jedi cloak and raised his voice slightly to be heard over the uneasy murmuring that began to fill the Senate chambers. "And here is the proof."
"Are you sure that was
a good idea, Obi-Wan?" Palpatine asked, nervously pacing around his office.
"How much worse could things get?" Anakin asked rhetorically, answering for his former teacher. Palpatine gave him a sour look. "Face it, turning your brother's diary over to the Senate can't do you any harm at this point."
"He's right, you know," Obi-Wan said. "They have the diary, and they have Anakin's and my sworn word as Jedi that as far as we can determine, its contents are completely factual. They will have no choice than to withdraw the call for the vote of no confidence." Palpatine shook his head.
"It doesn't work that way, Obi-Wan," he said, sinking into the chair behind his desk. "Once the vote is called for, it cannot be withdrawn. They will carry out the vote regardless of whether or not they believe that I conspired with my brother to get myself elected Chancellor. And if the vote goes against me..." His voice trailed off as he swiveled his chair around to face away from them, staring out the newly repaired windows at the air traffic outside.
"I thought you said you don't care about being Chancellor," Obi-Wan reminded him.
"I don't," Palpatine replied softly. "And if I am voted out, I will still be the Naboo senator. They cannot take that from me. Only the people of Naboo can do that. Once the contents of my brother's diary becomes public knowledge, the people of Naboo will almost certainly call for a senatorial election and vote me out of office. I will lose everything I've spent all these years working so hard for, and Sabé and I will return to Naboo in disgrace. The aristocracy will strip me of my title and my inheritance, leaving me with nothing to pass on to my children."
"Come on, Palpatine. You know Padmé wouldn't let that happen," Anakin assured him. "You heard what she said when she found out that you weren't born on Naboo."
"Padmé will have no say in the matter, Anakin. The monarch has no authority over internal matters within the aristocracy."
"Well," Anakin said after a moment, "you know Padmé's favorite saying: We will see. I bet she'll find a way to convince them to lay off."
"Perhaps," Palpatine said, but he sounded unconvinced.
"I'm telling you man, she won't let them touch you." There was a tap at the door.
"Yes?" Palpatine called. Sara entered.
"Senator Ibis called, Sir," she said quietly. "The Senate is ready to vote."
"I wish I could be there
with him," Sabé said softly. She sat in her hospital bed, watching
Coruscant News Network's live broadcast of the Senate hearings.
"It will be well, Sabé," Padmé said, squeezing her friend's hand. "No matter the outcome, you have each other and your two beautiful babies."
"You are right," Sabé agreed. "It's just that I cannot bear to see Palpatine humiliated so, with all of his dirty laundry being dragged out for the whole Republic to see - it's a crime, that's what it is."
"He is the one who insisted the outcome of the vote be broadcast live," Padmé reminded her. "And he does not look humiliated to me." She gestured at the holo, which showed Palpatine standing tall and straight in the Naboo senate box, his head held high. The Naboo box hovered in front of the Chancellor's podium, where Senator Bel Ibis stood ready to read the verdict.
"The honorable members of the Galactic Senate have voted," Ibis intoned solemnly. Sabé exchanged a worried glance with Padmé, who gave her hand another reassuring squeeze.
This is where my
entire future is decided, Palpatine thought. He felt like his whole
existence had been narrowed down to this one moment in time. When Ibis
finally read the outcome, he was certain he had heard it incorrectly. It
was only when the Naboo box where he stood floated up to the Chancellor's
podium that the reality finally sunk in. Senator Bel Ibis bowed as Palpatine
stepped out of the Naboo box, looking rather dazed.
"I return the authority and duties, the rights and responsibilities of the office of Supreme Chancellor of the Republic to you, Palpatine of Naboo," Ibis told him. Standing again in his old place at the Chancellor's podium, Palpatine found his voice at last.
"Honorable members of the Galactic Senate," Palpatine began. "I thank you for this expression of your belief in my leadership, and I will continue to strive every day to be worthy of it."
"Oh thank the gods!"
Sabé said, tears of joy running down her face as Padmé hugged
her. "Perhaps now that the Senate has the full story, the Neimoidians will
at last be made to face justice!"
"I would like nothing better, Sabé." Padmé said quietly. "They have much to answer for."
"I think this time they will not get away with their plotting," Sabé mused. "Before this voting fiasco began, Palpatine appointed the new Senator from Alderaan to chair the Special Committee he has investigating the Trade Federation."
"Viceroy Organa?" Padmé asked, surprised. "I would not have thought of choosing him." Sabé shrugged.
"I understand that the Viceroy is quite a formidable opponent. I would not want to cross him."
After a short recess
for lunch, the Senate reconvened so that Senator Organa could present the
evidence against the Trade Federation that his investigation had produced.
Once again, the Alderaan and Neimoidian senate boxes floated before the
Supreme Chancellor's podium, but now Palpatine was back in charge. Senator
Dod eyed the Chancellor nervously, then leaned over to confer with his
new companion, a grayish-green Neimoidian that none of them had seen before.
"Come on, Dod," Senator Organa taunted. "You don't have to ask your pal there if you knew the guy was a Sith. Just answer the question."
"My counsssssselor advises me not to ansssswer that," Dod finally said. Organa's eyebrows shot up.
"Your counselor, huh? This mope is your counselor?" Organa gazed around the Senate chambers with a Do you believe this crap? look on his face. He abruptly returned his attention to Dod. "What makes you think you need a counselor all of a sudden?" The Neimoidian remained silent. "Now see, you lawyerin' up like this makes me think maybe you know you're in a jackpot here."
"I - " the Neimoidian began. Organa cut him off.
"Give me one good reason the Special Committee shouldn't slap your government with a notice to pay reparations to the planetary governments of Corellia and Naboo. Go ahead, Dod. I dare ya. 'Cause that's what's gonna happen. It's just a matter of time. And between your deals with the Sith and Neimoidian involvement in building illegal cloning technology - not to mention that slave ring you were getting ready to set up - you mopes are in it up to your necks."
Several weeks later...
"Look at all those stars,"
Palpatine murmured in Nubian. He held his infant son up so that Nick -
the nickname they'd given little Anakin - could see out the transport's
window. Nick burbled and cooed happily. Palpatine smiled and kissed his
son's head, resting his mouth against the soft copper locks, inhaling their
clean baby scent. "We're going home."
"We're about to land," Sabé said, coming up behind him with their daughter in her arms. Palpatine shifted his son so that he could put his arm around Sabé. Patty - the nickname they'd bestowed upon little Padmé - craned her neck to burble at her brother.
"I wonder what sort of welcome we'll receive," Palpatine mused. "Perhaps there will be mobs in the street, shouting for my resignation." Sabé shrugged.
"The facts of your birth matter not. You are every bit as Nubian as I, Palpatine."
"I am doubtful that everyone will see things that way."
"It doesn't matter what happens. We will be together regardless."
"But what sort of future will our children have?" he wondered.
"I have been thinking of that myself," Sabé admitted. "And you are not going to like my conclusion." Palpatine's eyebrows went up.
"Oh?" he asked. "Don't tell me you want them trained as Jedi," he teased. Sabé bit her lip.
"Well..." she began. Palpatine stared at her for a moment, then burst into laughter. "What's so funny?" she demanded. "Our children should be trained to use their powers! What if -" He shook his head, still laughing.
"Oh Sabé," he said, pulling her more tightly against him. "I agree!"
"You do?" she asked in disbelief.
"Yes, darling, I do. And assuming we will be staying on Coruscant, there is no reason they must be sent to the Temple for fostering. Otherwise..." He shrugged. "I am sure we can work something out. That's assuming the Council even accepts them, of course." Sabé nodded, relieved.
"I was afraid to bring up the subject," she admitted. "I thought you were going to put up a fight about it."
"And I the same. We must learn to communicate better." He leaned over to kiss her.
"Aunt! Uncle!" Leia called, running up the corridor towards them. "Look at my grown-up dress!" Leia twirled, showing off her new gown of pink silk, cut in the Nubian style with puffed sleeves and tapered wrists. Luke followed behind at a more sedate pace, clearly unhappy to be confined in his miniature Nubian robes done in green silk.
"You don't look very happy, Luke," Palpatine observed. The little boy scowled.
"I hate getting dressed up. You can't run, you can't play, and Mummy said if I get these nice clothes muddy, she'll kill me."
"At least you look fit to be part of the Royal party," Obi-Wan observed mildly as he ambled up the hallway towards them. "You usually look like a little urchin."
"He IS a little urchin," Anakin said as he approached.
"Like father, like son," Palpatine murmured.
"No kidding," Anakin agreed amiably, gesturing at the baby Palpatine held. "Check out little Copper Top there."
"At least he comes by it honestly," Sabé said, laughing. Padmé hurried up the corridor to join them.
"How do I look?" she asked Anakin, adjusting the skirt of her deep purple gown and hastily checking her white make-up in the reflection of the transport's window.
"Like a vision," Anakin assured her, taking her in his arms and bending to kiss her lips. She pulled away at the last second, giving him an "air kiss" instead.
"No kissing until after we land," she told him. "You'll mess up my make-up." Anakin shook his head, sighing.
"You believe this?" he asked the group in general.
"Kissing girls gives you cooties," Luke reminded his father sagely. "That's why YOU don't kiss girls, right Obi-Wan?" he asked. Obi-Wan pretended not to hear the question.
"It's good to be home," Padmé murmured as the transport touched down and the noise of the engines gradually subsided. The transport's ramp unsealed and began to open with a pneumatic hiss. Sunlight filled the corridor from outside as the ramp lowered. The group peered outside, surprised by the sight that greeted them.
Thousands of cheering Nubians lined the streets in front of the Palace. When the Queen appeared at the top of the ramp with her consort, the cheers intensified. Padmé walked down the ramp, followed by Anakin and their twins. Obi-Wan appeared in the transport's doorway, and the cheering swelled once again. The Jedi Master blushed at the attention, waving shyly at the crowd as he descended the ramp to stand somewhat behind the Royal party. A small hovering microphone appeared at Padmé's side, buzzing around like an oversized bug. She waited for the cheering to subside somewhat before she spoke.
"People of Naboo," she began, speaking in Nubian, her words echoing throughout the city square. "Every year we come together at this time to commemorate the Battle for Naboo. This year, the remembrance of that event is sweetened somewhat by the knowledge that at long last, those who caused our suffering are being made to answer for it. While the Neimoidians can never return to us those who suffered and died during their illegal occupation of our sovereign world, at least their crimes against us have been acknowledged by the rest of the Republic and reparations will be paid." She paused, her eyes sweeping over the assembled crowd. When she spoke again, she chose her words very deliberately. "It is because of Chancellor Palpatine's tenacity, his refusal to allow that atrocity to pass unpunished, that we are able to enjoy such satisfaction. Truly he has served his homeworld well." The crowd began to cheer again, and Padmé judged the moment to be right. She glanced back towards the transport, motioning for the rest of the group to join her. When Palpatine and Sabé appeared, each carrying an infant, the cheering intensified, reaching a crescendo as they walked down the ramp together. When they reached the Royal party, Palpatine handed the baby he carried to his wife, preparing to bow to his Queen. With a gesture, she stopped him. He frowned, puzzled.
Very slowly, so that no one could possibly miss the gesture or its importance, Padmé turned to face Palpatine and sank to the ground in a deep curtsey. Into the astonished silence that followed, Padmé spoke quietly but very plainly. "Welcome home to Naboo, Lord Palpatine. Always you and your family will be welcome among us at court." She rose to her feet, motioning Sabé and the babies forward. As the cheering erupted again, Anakin nudged the astounded Chancellor.
"Hey Palpatine," he said.
"What, Anakin?" Palpatine asked, glancing over at the Jedi. Anakin gave him a huge grin.
"I told you so."