Not so long from now, in a place much like our own...
The unity of the Galactic Republic hangs by a thread. What began as a few dozen planets resisting Senate control has spread to thousands. This Separatist movement, lead by the mysterious ronin Jedi Master Count Dooku, has thus far limited itself to nonviolent means of political dissent, but on the eve of the meeting of the Galactic Hundred, whispers of the possibility of open rebellion flood the interstellar networks.
In the emerald city of Felucia on the planet Toydaria, leaders from the one hundred most powerful planets in the galaxy meet in hopes of resolving the Separatist crisis peacefully. At stake is the creation of a standing Army of the Republic to replace the temporary militias and police coalitions that have protected the galaxy since the birth of democracy. While many believe this drastic step is necessary to ensure security in these troubled times, many others see it as the final straw...
"Anakin, are you even paying attention?"
"Not at all, Master."
Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and his apprentice Jedi Padawan Anakin Skywalker sit on top of the vine covered outer wall of the Grand Central Station of Felucia, looking down on the landing platform where the leaders of the G100 slowly arrive. The bizarre megafungus of the Toydarian jungle glitters like stained glass all around them. Its heavy perfume permeates the air with the peculiar effect of dampening psychic powers, making Toydaria an agreeable and trustworthy place for tense political summits such as this.
Obi-Wan is one of only a handful of Knights that the Jedi Council has sent to guard and protect the summit; despite the importance of the gathering, all agree that five is more than sufficient, for thus is the power of the Jedi Masters.
Anakin, still a student, is there to watch and learn. Yet his eyes and his thoughts are cast toward the misty sky.
Obi-Wan is especially disappointed at his padawan's inattentiveness to his lecture, as he thinks he was on a particularly informative roll.
"You seem a little on edge," the master says. He knows Anakin well enough that he can still sense his padawan's strong emotions despite the aromatic interference of the jungle. "I haven't felt you this tense since we fell into that nest of gundarks."
"You fell into that nightmare, Master, and I rescued you, remember?"
"Ah, yes," Obi-Wan chuckles, placing a hand on Anakin's shoulder. "You're sweating. Relax. Take a deep breath."
Anakin shrugs off the hand. "I haven't seen her in years, Master."
"She's not going to be the handmaiden you remember, Anakin. She never really was that to begin with."
"I know, it's just...you can't understand. You weren't--"
"--born of Naboo, I know."
Obi-Wan smirks to see his young padawan, who long ago grew into the body of a man, show a little bit of the boy that still remains in his heart. The Eternal Queen has ruled for the full written history of Naboo, not by violence or fear, but by the loving and willful consent of her people. She is connected to her people by a telepathic bond that Obi-Wan knows very well he can never really understand. And she is not the only great power to come from Anakin's homeworld.
"Hey, look," points Obi-Wan, "There's Chancellor Palpatine!"
The crowd of milling delegates below them parts to grant wide passage to the highest ranking member of the Galactic Senate, come to greet his native Queen. He is flanked on either side by guards cloaked and hooded in the crimson color that has become the emblem of his contentious rule.
"He looks sadder than I remember," says Anakin.
"Leadership takes its toll on even the strongest man," says Obi-Wan, "And Palpatine always struck me as kind of soft." Anakin throws a dirty look at his master, who laughs. "No offense! The people of Naboo have much to brag about. I dare say you've become one of the top ten of the top hundred..."
Anakin's eyes turn back to the sky. "Here she comes!"
The Naboo royal cruiser drifts down out of the clouds, guarded by a single small fighter escort. The cruiser is a large and elaborate ship, etched with ornate gold trim yet built to give the impression of an anachronistic seafaring vessel floating in the sky, complete with flapping solar sails and ornamental oars.
The hatch opens, and a parade of Naboo dignitaries step out. Among them is the Queen's protocol droid C-3P0 and the Gungan outcast turned political wonderkid, Senator Jar-Jar Binks. They and the other attendants form a line on either side of the hatchway, bowing their heads in respect as Queen Amidala of the Naboo exits the ship.
Though she carries herself with the grace of a creature that has lived for ten thousand years, the young girl dressed like a porcelain doll in regal attire looks barely old enough to speak a complete sentence.
"I don't understand..." Anakin mumbles.
"She's a clone!" Obi-Wan exclaims. "Anakin, we really should have expected this. For all but the brief time we knew her, Amidala lived with fourteen bodies to call her own. Of course she would have grown new ones since then; her clones are what ensure her longevity. And with her secret out in the open, she has no reason to try and hide it anymore. That girl down there is Amidala--they're ALL Amidala. But that's not Padme."
Anakin pouts. "Yeah, we should have known."
"Careful, if you radiate any more disappointment, you're gonna make me cry."
"Quiet," says Anakin. "I want to hear what they're saying."
Both of the Jedi stretch their senses, and it is as if they are standing at the center of the action on the dock. As the Queen processes toward the Chancellor, two pilots jump out of the escort fighter. One wears a helmet with a darkened visor. The other is their old friend Captain Panaka.
"We made it," the Captain says to his companion. "I guess I was wrong. There was no danger at all."
The young Amidala reaches Chancellor Palpatine, nodding politely. "Your Honor," she says, the steadiness of her voice seeming eerie given her visible age, "It has been far too long."
The Chancellor's eyes becomes uncharacteristically wild. His face locks into a maniacal grin. He draws a blaster from beneath his robes and fires upon the child queen.
Onlookers scream. None of the guards know quite what to do. The Chancellor cackles as he flees, and the crowd makes way for him out of habit.
Anakin dives from his perch in pursuit, plummeting many stories before he lands on the platform with a loud crunch.
"I hate when he does that," Obi-Wan mutters to himself, grabbing a vine to swing after his padawan.
Meanwhile, the masked fighter pilot pushes through the guards and scattering crowd, crouching over the fallen Queen.
"Chorde!" cries the pilot.
"I'm so sorry, Padme..." the little girl groans, "I have failed you..." Spasms rack her body, followed by the stillness of death.
"NO!" Padme rips the helmet from her head, cradling and kissing her dead clone. "No, Chorde, it is I who have failed you..."
Captain Panaka runs to their side. "Your Highness, you are still in danger here!"
Padme speaks through tears. "I shouldn't have come here. It's happening all over again..."
Panaka is stern. "This conference is very important. Chorde did her duty, you must do yours. Now come!" She does not move, but only grips Chorde tighter.
Reluctantly, she steps away from her body and lets Panaka usher her to safety. Threepio follows, muttering, "Oh dear, oh dear..."