Part 3: Beats Back The Envious Siege.
(Richard II (1595) act 2, sc. 1, l. 40)
While the Master and Padawan talked, Padmé had spent her time briefing the pilots Obi-Wan had rescued, outlining the way they needed to destroy the control ship. Another tale of his achievements that her husband had told her, when he was still that innocent little boy she remembered fondly, not the dangerous, yet utterly vulnerable young man whom she married. At nine, Anakin had no conception of his immense power within the Force, counting every action he took in that flight as pure chance, an accident he paid for obeying Qui-Gon's orders to stay in the cockpit of the ship. He had been so determined to help, ignorant of the glory and gratitude it would bring him. Only later, when he became so accustomed to those acts of heroism, did he begin to crave the benefits that they bestowed.
Under the Jedi escort, she, her security, her handmaidens and pilots returned to the palace grounds from which they escaped only hours ago. While the bulk of the invasion army had gone to meet that of the Gungans in the plains, search groups were still patrolling the courtyard, looking out for those who had recently escaped their capture. As her security sent the pre-divided groups to the other side of the plaza, Padmé knelt down between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, remembering the former's words of caution to Anakin that were said here, but a few days later. In her future, this victory would come with a terrible price, the first of many.
Hopefully, her decision to act earlier would prevent that price from being paid.
Captain Panaka signalled his reply to her own call, the flash of a laser torch, then began to attack the droids by his side of the Plaza. Padmé watched, waiting for sufficient distraction, then rose up with the Jedi and her group, heading for the entrance to the main hanger bay.
They opened fire on the droids within as soon as they entered, clearing the space until the chance was present for the pilots to run to their ships. Padmé had no time to draw on what comparisons which may lie between this attack and the events in her memory, for her mind was focused on survival, as she aimed her blaster and shot at the droids, dodged the response of their firepower, and shouted orders to her people when the time came.
All the same, she could not help directing a glance towards the one of the exits, holding her breath as she and the Jedi passed them without incident, the doors refusing to slide back and reveal a being from her nightmares, a Sith apprentice ready to inflict the price for this victory. She was relieved to find Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon still beside her when they reached the passage entrance to the corridors for the throne room.
There seemed to be more guards here this time as she and her team entered one of the central grand halls that lay enroute to the throne room. Klaxons echoed throughout the magnificent building, the alarm system had sounded since she was first rescued by the Jedi. Padmé raised her blaster, aimed and fired at one of the droids. Their response quickly followed, deflected by the humming blue and green lightsabers. She had seen Anakin and Obi-Wan work as a team and had always marvelled at the sight. Now she found herself doing the same with he and Qui-Gon. There was a contrast; the movements of the blue and green lightsabers were both aggressive, when with Anakin Obi-Wan had switched to a more defensive style. But other than that, Padmé could find no difference, except in what actions she had taken to change the future.
Despite the large numbers of guards, it did not taken them long to reach the enormous grand panes of transparisteel flanked by marble pillars, where in her memories she had chosen to change tactics. Speed would also be a valuable ally at this moment, helping them to capitalise on their surprise attack.
"We don't have time for this, Captain," she called out to him between blaster fire.
"Let's try outside," he replied, increasing his response time, before aiming a shot to the partitioned panes as the Jedi stepped forward to provide cover for their flight to the window.
With the Jedi either side of her, Padmé fired her ascension gun and they ascended to the upper level, cutting out another dash up the grand hall which they had just left. Upon the higher ledge, she retrieved her blaster to break the window as she had done before. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon went ahead of the Naboo, using their lightsabers to deflect the blaster shots which came towards them, as the droids noticed their arrival and proceeded to attack.
Padmé aimed and fired at the droids. The doubts in her mind that this was the right course of action had lessened since they began to carry out the relief attack, but she still worried that things would go wrong on the grassy plains outside Theed where the Gungans fought the army of the Trade Federation and above in space with her pilots against the blockade and control ship. She had told the pilots exactly what Anakin had done to destroy the craft which powered the droids, but none of them possessed the ability to use the Force, something which could prove costly.
She would have no way of knowing if this would work until they reached the throne room, and she had captured the Viceroy. Determinedly she turned away from the doubts and continued to aim and fire, waiting for the next show of strength from the Trade Federation, all the while hoping quietly that they would unconsciously repeat their own history.
"Destroyer Droids," Obi-Wan called out suddenly, and inwardly Padmé breathed another sigh of relief.
"Throw down your weapons," she ordered. "They win this round."
"But, Your Highness, we can't," Captain Panaka cried, as the Jedi turned to look at her in surprise and shock at her decision.
Padmé cast a look at the Master and Padawan, then at Panaka. "Captain, I said throw down your weapons."
She let her blaster drop to the floor, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan shut off their lightsabers before tossing them also, forcing Panaka to reluctantly followed suit.
"Have faith, Captain," she murmured, as she moved her hand to the com device which encircled her other wrist, tapping the encoded message through to Sabé.
The destroyer droids rolled away from the doors, the soldiers picked up the surrendered weaponry, and encircled the Naboo. Ahead of them the entrance to the throne room opened, revealing the triumphant figures of Nute Gunray and his lackeys.
"Your little insurrection is at an end, Your Highness," he crowed. "The rabble army you sent against us south of the city has been crushed. You and the Jedi are my captives. It is time for you to put an end to the pointless debate which your Senator instigated in the Republic Senate. Sign the treaty now."
Padmé didn't have to answer, for her decoy did, as Sabé and her forces filled the corridor which she previously surrendered in.
"I will not be signing any treaty, Viceroy!" Sabé shouted, using the formal tone which her sovereign adopted when speaking as Queen. "Your occupation of our planet has ended!"
"After her!" Nute Gunray ordered the droids surrounding the Jedi and the Naboo. "This one's a decoy!"
Their distraction secured, Padmé backed away to her throne, and once seated, reached out with her hand for the controls to open the concealed weapons hatch. She called out to Panaka and tossed him a blaster, before taking one for her herself.
Catching on, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan called for their sabers, the Force snatching the weapons out of the grasp of the astonished droids who had retrieved them from the floor.
"Jam the doors," Panaka directed his aides.
"Now, Viceroy," Padmé began as she came to stand in front of Nute Gunray, "we will discuss a new treaty."
For a time the Viceroy stood still, silent and bewildered at the turn of events. Mere hours ago he had the planet under his complete control, the people subdued, the Queen captured and on her way to a camp. Even when her ship escaped the palace hangar bay, he thought himself triumphant because it failed to break orbit, saving him the embarrassment of contacting Lord Sidious and asking for assistance. The Sith frightened him, though they were allies, his anger over the involvement of the Jedi had made Nute decide to not inform him of when the pair of Force guided warriors escaped their ship for the planet and disappeared.
Now they stood beside the Queen, who held a blaster to his head, even while his forces fought her decoy outside, and the army battled that Gungan rabble south of the city. Incredulity ruled his beleaguered brain; it was impossible that she had the gall to command him and his forces to surrender, when she would soon be defeated. Time was all he needed to turn this round. Lord Sidious had promised to help the Trade Federation in their fight for power within the Republic. Even the Jedi would be terrified of him when they saw him. He must delay, until his droid army defeated the Gungans and returned to the palace to save him.
And then the sound of the blaster fire which had echoed through those large grand entrance doors abruptly died, taking with it all his hopes for victory.
"What's going on?" Captain Panaka asked.
"Try communications," Padmé replied. "Activate the view screen."
She watched his movements with a pounding heart that did not slow until her dark brown eyes caught sight of the triumphant Gungan army celebrating around the defunct droid army, the explosion of the control ship above them in space, and the empty melting room of the power station.
"Now, Viceroy," she remarked calmly. "Lets discuss that treaty."