"Queen Amidala! Good morning! I hope you were able to rest well after last night's proceedings." Palpatine rises from his chair to greet her as she enters his office. She is adorned simply and attended only by Captain Panaka, but she carries her regality with her now, as if the simple mortal handmaiden has become an unnecessary pretense.
"Congratulations on your election, Chancellor Palpatine," she says. "I regret that I could not be there when it happened. I hear that it was nearly dawn before debate ended."
"Your boldness has saved our people, Your Majesty. It is you who should be congratulated! Together we shall bring peace and prosperity to the Republic."
The Queen remains diplomatically deadpan as she says, "I don't require congratulations, Chancellor. I require a clear legal condemnation of this invasion from the Senate. I fear by the time you have control of the bureaucrats, there will be nothing left of our cities, our people, our way of life..."
"You must understand, Your Majesty, that the Federation has control of the planet; the law is presently on their side. I can cut through the red tape that Velorum could not, but even our allies will need some reassurances before authorizing forces to intervene on your behalf."
"What reassurances do they need?"
"Well, to be honest, some of our greatest opposition comes from those who have recently overthrown their own ancient monarchies, men like Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan."
At this, she nearly betrays emotion. "Alderaan! But we were steadfast supporters of their democratic revolution! They know that Amidala rules only through the consent of the governed."
"Exactly. Senator Organa knows this, but they're walking their own thin line, afraid that condemnation of the Federation invasion would carry condemnation of their own liberation in its wake. And the Federation itself is already building a strong case against you; when they thought you were dead, they were content to leave well enough alone, but now that they know you live, they're spreading rumors that you've got the whole of Naboo under some kind of Jedi mind trick. I'm afraid your display at last night's proceedings didn't help. They have even begun to use the term witchcraft..."
"Enough of this!" Amidala commands. "I have survived millennia of such accusations; they shall not dissuade me now."
"My apologies, Your Majesty. I meant no offense, and I know these are lies. I only meant to impress upon you the tenuousness of our position. As it please you, I can arrange for you to meet with Senator Organa and others over the next several weeks, to provide them the reassurance they need. Show them the person behind the legendary Queen, and they will learn to trust."
There is a long breath as she examines the Chancellor. "No, Chancellor. I will not well serve my people by remaining here to argue my legitimacy with offworlders. This is your arena. I feel I must return to mine. I have decided to go back to Naboo."
"Go back! But Your Majesty, be realistic! You would be in danger!"
"My fate will be no different from that of our people."
"Please, Your Majesty, stay here where it's safe until all legal options can be exhausted," pleads Palpatine.
"No place is safe, if the Senate does not condemn this invasion." She eyes him cautiously, as if contemplating many possibilities. "Chancellor, you have said that you will do everything possible to stop the Federation. What can you do to help us now? Surely there must be resources available at your discretion."
Palpatine sighs and looks down in thought, then snaps. "The Chancellor's Guard! There aren't many of them, but they have ships of their own. I'll spare as many as I can to send with you. They're supposed to be protecting me against assassination, but I am proud to face the danger in defense of Naboo."
This seems to dissipate the tension in the room. "You have our gratitude, Chancellor. The two Jedi who brought me here have also pledged to return with me, to protect me from the monster that attacked us at the Skywalker home."
"Speaking of which...what of the boy? What is to become of young Anakin Skywalker?"
The Queen does not immediately respond; she peers at him as if he has become indecipherable. Then she says, "I am told the Jedi Council is deciding his fate as we speak. Our hope is that he will be sent to the Jedi Academy to train."
"It has been long since Naboo has produced a Jedi," says Palpatine. "I'll be watching his career with great interest."
Amidala gives a single practiced nod. "As will we all. Chancellor, thank you for your help. I pray you will bring sanity and compassion back to the Senate." She turns to Panaka. "Come, Captain! We must take back what is ours!"
Chancellor Palpatine smiles and waves as they leave. "I bid you safe journey, Your Majesty, and may the Force be with you!"
Shortly thereafter, Queen Amidala and Captain Panaka walk down a hallway that has been cleared for the Queen's safe passage. She finds these security precautions unsettling, but now that she is reduced to a single body, they are likely all that is standing between her and death. She is unperturbed by the political machinations revealed by Chancellor Palpatine; she learned to roll with those punches a long, long time ago. Yet the absence of her entourage of Handmaidens and the distance between this body and her people has left her feeling dulled in the senses, and the universe seems to have become dark, cold and silent. She feels isolated and alone, quite unlike herself.
"Excuse me, Your Highness...Your Highness? Queen Amidala? Reverend Padme?"
She snaps out of her introspection to realize that she has stopped, and Captain Panaka stands staring at her anxiously, arms out in preparation to catch her should she faint. "Are you alright?" he asks.
"Yes, thank you Captain." She regains her composure immediately. "We should never have come here; Reverend Padme was not yet fully grown, and we let the instincts of our young body overwhelm our courage. We must return now, reclaim our throne and crush those who have dared to invade Naboo."
"Yes, Your Highness!" Panaka says, saluting sharply and smiling. "Shall I begin preparations for an assault on the Palace?"
"Not yet, Captain," she says, continuing their walk down the hall. "The Federation will have it well guarded, and without the backing of the Senate, our people will be conflicted, unsure of what is right and hesitant to pick up arms. Luckily, ours is not the only security force on Naboo."
Panaka raises an eyebrow at her as they turn and enter the guest suite.
"Jar-Jar Binks..." she says. The Gungan looks up at her dumbly from his place on the floor, where he has been mashing buttons on a hologame controller. "I need your help."