The Sidious Solution, Part Two: Royalty and Revolution

Chapter Three

Amidst all the turmoil of this galaxy far far away, the only lasting wisdom may be that power corrupts. Yet in the dying days of the Republic, we find a ruler who comes close to defying this principle: Padmé Amidala Naberrie, the Queen of Naboo. Owing to the puzzling political system of her home planet, Padmé has found herself elevated to supreme power at the age of only fourteen. Right from the start however, her youthful spirit is thrust into a complicated world of court intrigues, one where etiquette determines everything.

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After weathering the initial weeks of introductory niceties, her first real concern is a dispute about land rights with the planet’s native Gungans. Negotiations prove difficult, and the Gungans are soon threatening to turn hostile. This is where Qui-Gon Jinn involves himself, the wandering Jedi coming across Naboo on his aimless pilgrimage through the Outer Rim. Unlike most Republic politicians (or his fellow Jedi for that matter), Qui-Gon dares to be critical of the Naboo and their treatment of the Gungans. To her own surprise, Queen Amidala respects the boldness of this Master Jedi, especially when it leads to the successful resolution of the diplomatic crisis. Friendship between the two is fast to follow.

In response to the confrontation with the Gungans, Amidala comes to reflect on Naboo’s history; looking beyond the propaganda that accompanies a queen’s education, she does not like what she finds. The Naboo were never native to this planet, and as such their civilization has been founded in colonial conquest, an imperial past covered up with ornate architecture. She realizes that the Gungans must be allowed to regain their former glory, no matter the cost to the Naboo. However, she also knows that the social capital required for such a project is immense, and that no one but herself would thus be likely to achieve it. As such, she allows for an amendment to the Naboo constitution, extending the term limit that would ordinarily restrict her time on the throne. Though she fears that this may be a first step towards authoritarianism, her heart tells her that it must be done. And more importantly, she knows that Master Qui-Gon would agree.

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Besides her concern with domestic affairs, Padmé’s continued correspondence with Qui-Gon Jinn sees her increasingly involved with Republic politics. With her army of handmaidens frequently serving as stand-ins, she effectively manages to be in two places at once, spending much time on Coruscant in her self-appointed role as Senator. Over the next decade, Amidala builds up a formidable coalition of sympathetic Senators. Together, they frequently express concern about the growth of corruption within the Republic, as well as the relative underrepresentation of Outer Rim Worlds. When the Tatooine Revolution strikes, she is one of the first politicians to support the pleas of its delegation, using the power of her faction to grant Tatooine representation in the Republic. At the same time, she builds up a close personal friendship with the delegation’s leader, the rugged revolutionary known as Anakin Skywalker. Though the pairing seems strange initially, the coming crisis will see them grow even closer together.

And crisis is close at hand, for powers both near and far are seeking the downfall of this overly involved queen. While she remains popular with her constituents and those of other Outer Rim worlds, many members of the galactic ruling class are disturbed by her apparent endorsement of violent anti-colonial revolution. Perhaps the Hutts had it coming, but who is to say she won’t support those who are baying for their own heads? Criminal and corporate leaders all concur: Amidala needs to go. However, Naboo’s ruler is well-aware of these sentiments herself, and so has been actively seeking a greater degree of protection. Together with Anakin, she devises a scheme that would solidly secure the safety of her world; unfortunately, it also runs the risk of escalating political tensions within the Republic. But better to make the first move, she thinks, than to think oneself inviolate.

Chapter Four

At first, it seems like Amidala has been outplayed by her opponents. Responding to a secret invitation by reactionary Naboo aristocrats, an automated fleet of Commerce Guild ships arrives to blockade the planet and scramble its communications. Their broadcasted claims of legitimacy hardly fool the people of Naboo, and their queen makes ready to exercise her planned counter-maneuver. Yet it is precisely at this critical moment that the will of the Force, or at least the will of its agents, decides to intervene. While Amidala is relegating her orders to the defense forces, a covert Jedi taskforce barges into the operations center, its leader introducing himself as one Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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Yes, the Jedi Order has seen fit to involve itself with this crisis, dispatching Kenobi and Ventress to explore the veracity of the Commerce Guild’s claims, and ensure the safety of Naboo’s leadership if necessary. In the end, nothing much comes of these orders. Amidala does not wish to be rescued, and considers the presence of Anakin and his detachment of Tusken Raiders more than enough in terms of protection. Indeed, the presence of these Jedi only agitates, with the initial interactions between Kenobi and Skywalker being particularly hostile. With both desperate to defend their honor in the eyes of their companions, a lightsaber clash is quick to commence. It takes the levelheadedness of Ventress and Amidala to get them to desist, and even so the mood remains tense.

Meanwhile, an entirely different conflict is unfolding in the skies above Naboo. As the local security forces put up a token resistance, Commerce Guild strategists are getting ready to deploy their newfangled droid army. With the use of these automated armies still being somewhat of a novelty,  their controllers are assisted by Geonosian workers, those who have assembled and tested the mechanical soldiers. Unbeknownst to their corporate minders however, these workers have been fed a great deal of worker’s literature by Tusken infiltrators; now they are more than willing to throw off the chains of hive slavery. Turning the droids on their masters proves all too easy for the workers, after which they shut down the army entirely. Soon the Geonosians are meeting with representatives of Naboo, Tatooine, and the Gungans. Thankful for the opportunity that these allies have offered them, the workers swear to protect this planet, its people, and the larger cause of Outer Rim Liberation.

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Though the greater battle is now resolved, Amidala still has this Jedi presence to take care of. Kenobi has likely picked up on her political game just by being here, and might very well leak its details to unwelcome authorities. For a moment, she considers keeping him in custody on Naboo; then, she realizes that something so blatantly aggressive would only excite further involvement from the Jedi.

The “Kenobi problem” is ultimately resolved by Ventress, who offers to find him a proper hermitage, one where the two of them can wait out whatever political storm is likely to follow Naboo’s defiance. Knowing that he is in no position to negotiate, Obi-Wan agrees with this scheme. Should the Jedi Council have any need of him or Asajj, their location will be entrusted with the one man he trusts unconditionally: Qui-Gon Jinn. After a cover message is sent to the Council, the two Jedi depart to their unknown destination.

Throughout the history of the Republic, many great wars have been sparked by small confrontations on the galactic periphery. In the Crisis of Naboo, we find another such incident, and its political reverberations are sure to be significant. Not only has a lone Outer Rim world resisted the encroachment of corporate authority, but it has done so by appealing to the rights of slaves and natives, those who have been systematically ignored by the Republic’s upper classes. In the eyes of many rulers and representatives, Amidala has set a dangerous precedent by empowering the oppressed. What could such turmoil do to their own worlds?

A conflict is brewing between Revolution and Reaction, one that will soon spill over into the halls of galactic power. Amidala will be there, ready to defend her people and her cause. If she was ever seen as a child of the aristocracy, then such sentiment must have long abated. Nowadays, friends and foes all know her as a Queen of the Revolution.

END OF PART 2

BonteriAmidalaMeet-HOBS

Second Interlude

Ahsoka felt awkward. When she defected to the Separatists, she thought she would be assigned to some faraway world, helping its locals to resist Republic aggression. Instead, she was now in charge of security at a Senate reception, protecting these DFIS representatives from the threat of inebriation. The presence of Queen/Senator Amidala was all that kept her from resenting the assignment. While other politicians always appeared artificial to Ahsoka, she never doubted the sincerity of Padmé’s words. Even here at the reception, her speech sounded genuine, though Ahsoka had a hard time making sense of all the political jargon within it.

“…and now that the ratification of our Democratic Constitution has permanently secured our rights and liberties, we can look forward to the real struggle of enforcing them. Any government can claim to rule on behalf of its people, but to us falls the challenge of true delegation: how do we ensure that the will of our constituents is communicated up through the local, regional, and then senatorial council? I suppose that’s where the Constitution becomes important again, for it restricts us Senators as much as it frees all others. Force knows I should have been reigned in once or twice…”

Laughter emerged from those gathered around Amidala. Even Ahsoka permitted a small chuckle, although most of her attention had now been caught by a strange fellow near the far end of the room. This Neimoidian was clearly trying to look nonchalant, and failing quite badly at it. He kept glancing around nervously, turning his eyes to his datapad after each sweep. Then, she noticed that his attention focused on one part of the room just a moment longer than all others. Looking in the general direction of this focus, she did not see much of interest for the longest time, until she realized that was the point of it.

At the center of the Neimoidian’s gaze was the most normal-looking woman Ahsoka had ever seen. If some Kamino cloner had bred this person to blend in with the crowd, they could hardly have done a better job. Luckily, Ahsoka had been trained to look for the casual and nondescript, as the most dangerous intentions were often hidden behind such a façade. The unnaturally subdued nature of such evil left a distinct impression in the Force. For a Jedi like her, it wasn’t too hard to spot; you just had to know what you were looking for.

The concealed figure was moving towards the center of the room now, towards the very spot where Padmé was rounding off her speech. Their hand moved casually to their suit pocket, quickly patting it in search of something. If they were about to strike, Ahsoka would head them off. And though a Jedi was supposed to prefer serenity, she rejoiced at this opportunity.

“Fire!” she yelled, and using those few seconds where the confusion of a crowd turns to panic, she threw herself onto the least suspicious person in the room: the assassin.

 

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