Anakin doesn't know how long he's been away now. The sky remains a constant brownish haze of artificial light and air pollution, so he has no sense of the time of day. Yet somehow it rains a bit here, a putrid oily rain that leaves him feeling even dirtier.
For awhile he avoids the populated thoroughfares. Fearing that the police might be after him, he sticks to alleys and eerie barren corridors whose walls extend upward into endless blackness. Alien rodents scuttle through trash in the shadows. As the shock of the fall and the crash wears off, he remembers that he is on this planet as a guest of the Jedi and the embassy of Naboo, all of whom owe him a debt for his help, and that anyone who's looking for him is probably more worried than angry. Yet when he returns to the main roads, he finds no police or search party, just a throng of foreigners, each stranger than the last, chattering to each other in a language that he can't understand, walking in the glow of signs and billboards that he can't read. Eventually he sits to rest on a quiet bench near and far enough from the foot traffic to feel safe.
He thinks about his mother. He hopes she made it away safe. He tells himself that the Sith was there for the Jedi, not for her. Surely the Sith would have left as soon as they got away, leaving her behind as an innocent bystander.
The face of Darth Maul flashes through his mind, loathing innocence.
Yet now Anakin knows his own power. When he returns to Naboo, he'll be able to find his mother and protect her from the terror of the universe, and they'll both be able to leave Watto behind for good and lead happy and loving lives.
If he returns to Naboo.
He doesn't want to cry in public. He stifles his tears, pressing his fist to his lips to bite them back, but a few slip through.
"Hey, kid," says a high croaking voice, startling him out of his sadness. "Wanna buy a deathstick?"
The short man in a leather jacket would look almost exactly human but for the antennae on his head. He holds out a small case filled with cigarettes.
"Um, no," Anakin says. "I don't want to buy a deathstick."
"Aw, you'll like 'em," the man says. "They'll open up your eyes and your mind..."
"I said I don't want to buy a deathstick!" Anakin snaps. He feels a tingle similar to when he opened the window latch, slowed his descent or repaired the power coupling--like he's just used the Force.
"You don't want to buy a deathstick." The way the man says it seems off, as if he's reading from a script for the first time. He tucks the case back into his coat and then stands there looking slightly confused.
Anakin's face dawns with the realization of what's happening. Extending his hand to focus his powers a bit more, he says, "You don't want to sell anyone deathsticks."
"I don't want to sell anyone deathsticks."
Anakin smiles. "You want to go home and rethink your life."
"I want to go home and rethink my life." The man turns to walk away.
"Hey, no, wait!" Anakin says, jumping up from his bench and grabbing the man by the arm. "First, take me to Senator Palpatine of the Naboo."
The man nods. "Take you to Senator Palpatine of the Naboo." He takes a few steps forward, stops, then grimaces and rubs his forehead, his antennae twitching with frustration. "I don't know where he is."
"Then find someone who does," Anakin says.
"Rogg," the man nods. "I'll take you to Rogg. Then we'll take you to Senator Palpatine of the Naboo. Then I will go home and rethink my life."
The man takes Anakin's hand and leads him down the road. Anakin looks relieved. The man looks terrified.
Senator Palpatine strolls along the dock toward his carriage, reciting instructions to his entourage of aides. "The Handmaiden is already at the Senate building. I need you to transmit the contents of this data crystal to her right away--she'll need time to read it before I get there. Tell her I've found a way, regrettable though it may be, for us to force the Senate's hand on this issue. The law provides us with one last resort, if the Chancellor will not yield. And you--I want you to try contacting the Jedi again. Find out if one of them will be there to testify. We're going to need--"
Somebody screams, and everybody turns to face the dock entrance. There stands a roughshod crowd of aliens and humans, pacing intently toward the Senator. Guards draw their weapons and shout orders to halt, but the crowd continues forward. The Senator then notices several officers of Coruscant law enforcement among the crowd, none of whom seem worried. Even stranger is that he recognizes some of the aliens at the forefront of the crowd as well-known criminals of Coruscant, all of whom look really nervous. The Senator waves his own guards back and approaches them.
They are lead by Greb Solo, number one on the Coruscant Intelligence Agency's Most Wanted list, a pinkish pale blob in a pinstripe suit. He walks right up to the Senator.
"Take the boy to Senator Palpatine of the Naboo," he grumbles.
The crowd parts, and out walks Anakin Skywalker, damp, dirty and bold.
The Senator's bellows of laughter can be heard across the whole dock. "There you are! We've been looking all over for you!"
"Senator, I'm really sorry it's just there was a spy and then I fell and--"
"Don't worry about it, you're just in time!" says Palpatine. "We're on our way to the congressional hearing, and I'd be most pleased if you sat by my side during the proceedings. There won't be time to clean you up, but I don't think it will hurt our case if you look a litte war-torn. You--" he points towards one of his aides, "--get Master Skywalker onto my ship and get him something to eat. You--" he grabs another aide and gestures toward the crowd, which is beginning to fall out from Anakin's spell, "--arrest the ones that need arresting, and give the rest a small reward for their help." Some of the criminals try to run, but they find themselves staring into the barrels of Naboo blasters. "Now come along, Anakin! It's time to save our homeworld!"