"Panaka took over the helm," says Obi-Wan, entering the rear of the shuttle, adding, "He seemed really eager, so I let him. Oh--" He sees Anakin in Padme's arms, sobbing.
"Anakin, I'm so sorry," she says, but she knows exactly how little comfort her words can provide. Jar-Jar pats him gingerly on the back, saying nothing.
"Anakin, listen to me," Qui-Gon squats before the boy, catching his gaze. "I believe that those we love never truly leave us. They are always watching over us through the veil that separates this world from the next, as your mother is with you even now."
Obi-Wan's eyebrows furrow in disagreement, but he keeps it to himself.
"She can't be dead," Anakin says, his demeanor growing cold. "We didn't actually see her get killed, right?" Nobody knows what to say. "What do you think, Ben?"
Obi-Wan looks helplessly to the others before replying, "Best to always keep up hope, kid."
Anakin wipes his snotty nose on his sleeve, eyes resolute with hope.
With the tension broken, Jar-Jar can't contain himself any longer.
"It had a lightsaber," says Padme. "Was it a Jedi?"
"No, I'm absolutely certain that was no Jedi," Obi-Wan shudders. "I would have remembered that face from the Academy!"
"That was a Sith," Qui-Gon says plainly.
"No, it couldn't have been a Sith, either," says Obi-Wan. "Where would a Sith learn to wield a lightsaber?"
"Anyway," says Padme, "the Sith have been extinct since the birth of the Republic."
"Not extinct," says Qui-Gon. "Just kept in check by the Jedi Order. But as we battled, it spoke in my mind with a foul voice. It called itself Darth Maul, and Darth is a title used only by the Sith. Master Obi-Wan is correct about one thing, though. That monster's red saber is something I have never heard of before. He was better trained than any Sith I've ever encountered."
Jar-Jar moans with frustration. "Dassa nohelben! Whassa Sith!?"
Obi-Wan speaks as if mocking the Gungan's ignorance, but also as if reciting a catechism. "A Sith is a person born strong in the Force who does not temper their power with the wisdom and training of the Jedi Order."
"Like me?" Anakin asks with concern.
"Goodness no! No, you're just a late admission, that's all. You can tell when a creature's gone Sith just by looking at them. The Dark Side of the Force horribly disfigures their body; their skin falls off or their blood turns black or they grow horns where they shouldn't. You saw that thing!"
"But if the Jedi Order doesn't want me..."
"Master Obi-Wan, don't scare the child," chides Qui-Gon. "The basic training you'll need to learn to control your Force powers is available to all sentient beings, Anakin. You'll not be denied. From there, you'll be able to choose whether to pursue full Academy training and become a member of the Jedi Council or find your own path in the universe."
"Of course he'll join the Council!" says Obi-Wan. "Ani, ignore Master Findyer-Ownpath here. He likes to act all independant, but he's still following me around every time the Council gives me an interesting assignment." Qui-Gon begins to protest, but Obi-Wan adds, "You can't deny it, old friend! The Council is where all the action is."
The Jedi squabbling is interrupted by the sudden light of a grin across Anakin's face. "I'm gonna be a Jedi!"
"That's the spirit! Don't want to start an adventure with a frown, do you? That's what I thought. Now, you ever seen a custom Jedi interstellar spacecraft before?"
"Then c'mon! We should be approaching any second now, and the view is best from the cockpit. You too, Jar-Jar. I'm guessing you don't get too many Gungans in space. You won't want to miss this!"
After the others have scrambled into the cockpit, Padme turns to Qui-Gon. "A Sith? If what you say is true, Master Jedi, then we face an enemy far darker than the Trade Federation."
"I pray I am wrong," says Qui-Gon, "But I won't bet on it. I will ask Master Obi-Wan to summon the Council members on Coruscant, and consult with them when we arrive. Somebody trained Maul in the Jedi arts. We will need the Council's help if we are to discover who that was."
Padme says, "I will plead our case before the Senate. Then I must find a way to return to Naboo; my place is with my people. I do not like where this is headed."
"Let us try to remember the one other thing Master Obi-Wan is right about, Miss Padme. We must always have hope."
"I would find that a lot easier to say were I not that hope," thinks Padme, but she says no more.
The Jedi ship is simply indescribable, a wonder to behold, unlike anything the people of Naboo have ever seen. Undiscovered by the Federation blockade ships, it remains cloaked by some mechanism known only to the Jedi, sliding into sight only as they approach, dim in the shadow of the second moon.
"Will this be your first jump into hyperspace?" Panaka asks Anakin as they and Padme buckle into the rear seat of the expansive cockpit. Anakin nods. "Well, my advice is, don't look directly into the center of it. Men have gone mad at the sight of it."
"Oh, don't tell him that!" groans Obi-Wan from the front passenger seat. "A kid his age? Now he's got no choice but to look!"
Panaka leans over to the boy and whispers, "Just look out of the corner of your eye. It's best that way."
"Here we go!" Qui-Gon calls out, pulling a lever, and with a great whir, they're off.
Anakin sits with his hands splayed out over his face, peeking through his fingers. At first, it seems like the stars stretch themselves out into lines, converging at an infinitely distant point. Then it is as if all light and color in the universe has melted together into a single brilliance. Every passenger averts their gaze except for the Jedi, and Anakin slowly lowers his hands.
"Careful, now," cautions Qui-Gon. "Captain Panaka wasn't kidding."
Ani sits entranced for a moment longer, then from the passage outside the cockpit comes...
"MISSA PADME!" Jar-Jar pokes his head in, one hand sincerely splayed across his eyes, and a slight stench follows. "Meesa sowwy. Meesa peewed."
Padme leaves to go clean up the Gungan's mess. Slowly, the other passengers accustom themselves to the view of hyperspace, none of them going mad. When the wonder wears off a little, Anakin excuses himself and joins her.
She is on bended knee in the passenger quarters, furiously scrubbing a floor made of some inexplicable Jedi material that doesn't take well to Jar-Jar's abuse.
"Here, let me help you with that," he says, crawling down to take the rag from her. "I help Mom with this sort of thing all the time. She says I have a real way with messes--making them, and cleaning them up again! I never told Watto though, or else he would've made me program his droids AND clean the house!"
"You'll miss her a lot, won't you..." Padme says, not quite realizing that she's speaking out loud.
Anakin pauses in his scrubbing, then opts to change the topic. He nods at Jar-Jar, snoring away under the influence of fast acting flight tranquilizers. "Why'd you bring along one of them things, anyway? You're far too pretty to be tending to an animal like that."
"The Gungans aren't animals, Anakin." Padme's tone is more informative than scolding. "They're sentient beings, just like you and me. And a very old prophecy says they'll have an important role to play when Naboo's need is most dire. It is said they guard the Chosen One."
"The Chosen One? Who's that?"
"I don't know. I'm hoping our friend here can help us find out. Anyway, if this is what I must do to stop our people from suffering and dying, then this is what I will do. It's what the Queen would do."
"I don't think she's dead, either." Padme shows no response, so Anakin continues. "But you're definitely too beautiful to be scrubbing floors. Are you sure you're not an angel?"
Padme blushes. She has been called an angel many times, but none have ever felt so sincere. "Really, deep down, I'm still just a kid, Anakin Skywalker. Just like you! But I'm afraid we're all going to have to grow up a lot faster than we thought we would, if we're going to save Naboo."
With a few more strokes, Anakin proclaims, "There! Done!" He looks up at Padme, and she returns his smile. "Hey, I want to give you something!" He removes a small wooden pendant from around his neck. "So you'll remember me! I'm...I'm not sure what's going to happen to me. I dunno if I'll ever see you again."
Padme takes the pendant. "It's beautiful! But I don't need this to remember you, Ani. Many things will change when we reach the capital, but my caring for you will always remain."
The boy grins. "You really like it? I carved it out of a japor snippet. It will bring you good fortune."
"We need all of that we can get. Thank you!" He embraces her. As she holds him, she can feel it. The faintest glimmer. Hope.
Thus they make their way to Coruscant.