In the well secured and luxuriously decorated audience chamber of the castle that has been provided to the Naboo delegation by the Toydarians for the duration of the summit, Queen Amidala and other key members of the Loyalist faction meet to discuss the death of clone Chorde. Most of them sit in standard conference chairs, with their aides sitting behind them. But Padme finds herself once again sitting on a throne.
This throne is much more beautiful than the cold steel throne on Naboo from whence she becomes the common consciousness of her planet. This one is cut from precious stones and cushioned with the finest down in the galaxy. This one carries all the authority and commands all the reverence of her simple seat on Naboo, but without any of the mutual understanding and sympathy. This one is just a throne.
Somewhere deep down inside her, in a place that Padme would never admit, she had been looking forward to an incognito trip to Toydaria. The dampening of her telepathic power was going to be the first time since the past generation of Amidala clones died that she would have had the opportunity to be alone. When Captain Panaka initially proposed that Chorde be sent as the official face of Amidala, with Padme in the shadows to offer support and advice to the child clone, Padme had begun to view the trip as something like a vacation.
Now, alone and yet surrounded by attendants, in conference with her political allies, it feels like a prison.
Threepio interrupts their discussion to announce the arrival of Chancellor Palpatine.
"Show him in," Padme says.
Everyone stands as the Supreme Chancellor enters, but he disregards their formality, rushing to greet the Queen of his homeworld. He sports a swollen black eye.
"Your Majesty, I am so sorry! I was a fool to accept an emergency private conference away from my guards, but I thought, what do I have to fear from a great man of peace like Visha Solo? It's all my fault."
"Nonsense, Chancellor," says the Queen. "The changeling fooled us all, and you clearly took your share of the pain. Please, join us."
As the Chancellor sits, Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan asks, "Do we have any idea who's behind the attack?"
Master Mace Windu, commander of the Jedi protecting the summit and defacto executive leader of the egalitarian Jedi Council, speaks next.
"It seems clear that the assassin was very particularly going after Queen Amidala, if it bypassed an opportunity to assassinate the Chancellor. It is possible this was the work of domestic Naboo insurrectionists."
Captain Panaka says, "We have been experiencing difficulties with disgruntled Gungan miners on our moons...."
"Nosa!" protests Senator Jar-Jar, straining not to fall headlong into his native dialect under all this stress, "Da Gungan peeple lub and suppurt da Queen. Weesa solb our fites wit demokaky--democracy!"
"I meant no offense to our stalwart Gungan allies," says Panaka, intentionally using big words.
"Meesa tinkin' Count Dooku wuz behind it."
There is a stir of surprise in the gathering.
"He is a political idealist," says Senator Organa. "Not a murderer!"
"Senator Binks, you must remember that Count Dooku is a Jedi," says Master Windu. "Master Dooku has always been too concerned for personal freedom to be able to join the Jedi Council, and I believe this is why he so passionately rallies others to the Separatist cause, but he is still a Jedi Knight. He couldn't assassinate anyone. It's not in his character."
"Why not da Jedi able to stop dis den?" Jar-Jar demands. "Fibe not enuff? Send mo!"
"Master Obi-Wan is already investigating this further," Master Windu says with resolute calm.
"I must agree with the honorable Senator Binks," says the corpulent Twi'lek Senator Orn Free Taa, "The Separatists are not as pacifist as we would like to believe, and I am beginning to doubt the Jedi Council's ability to protect us. The Republic needs more security, before this comes to war. We must confront these rebels now, and we need a standing army to do it!"
Palpatine scowls. "Must I remind you, Senator, that negotiations are continuing with the Separatists. Peace is our objective here, not war."
"My noble colleagues, I concur with the Supreme Chancellor," says the Queen, "At all costs, we do not want war! I was the target of this attack, but more importantly, these peace talks were the target. I have lead the opposition to building an army; I will not allow an attack against me to undermine that effort."
Orn Free Taa is not assuaged. "I recall a time not so long ago when you raised your own army, Your Majesty, without any consultation from the Senate."
"In response to provocation, Senator, not to preempt it, and those forces were disbanded long ago. Creating an army now would only legitimize Separatist concerns. Give diplomacy a chance to work."
"But if the Separatists do take up arms..."
Palpatine speaks adamantly. "I will not let this Republic that has stood for ten thousand years be split in two. These negotiations will not fail!"
"One thing remains certain, Your Highness," says Captain Panaka, "You are still in grave danger."
Palpatine looks to Windu. "Master Jedi, may I suggest that the Queen be placed directly under the protection of one of your graces?"
"Chancellor, please!" Padme protests, "The Jedi are here to guard the summit, not just me!"
"Your Majesty," Palpatine says, "I realize all too well that you do not wish to place your own safety above the safety of others. But perhaps there is someone who does not have immediate responsibility for securing the summit...like your old friend, Anakin Skywalker?"
"This is possible," says Master Windu, "Padawan Skywalker has not yet completed his training, but I believe he has the heart and strength to keep the Queen safe. Master Obi-Wan will have the final say over his student, of course, but I think he will agree to it."
The Queen continues to show hesitation, so Palpatine adds, "Do it for me, Your Majesty. I will rest easier, knowing you are safe. The thought of losing you is unbearable."
"Very well," she says.
Master Windu nods. "I will speak with Master Obi-Wan immediately, Your Highness."
The last of the Loyalists leave. Captain Panaka magnetically seals the throne room entrance and Padme feels like she can breathe again.
"My team has swept your private chambers," Panaka says, "The garden patio doors are not as secure as I'd like, but I'll have guards posted nearby, and I'll be in the room next door. I swear you have got nothing to fear, so long as I am here."
"About that, Captain..."
"Yes, Your Highness?"
"When the Jedi get here, I would like..." She sits up straight and musters the full strength of her royal demenor. "I have decided to send you back to Naboo, to guard Dorme."
"Your Highness, I--"
"There is nothing you can do here that the Jedi will not be able to do better."
Panaka stiffens. "I'm sorry that you feel that way, Your Highness, but I must protest. Every little bit helps. My presence here would only make you safer."
She speaks gravely, to make her point clear.
"How am I safe, when I am undefended on Naboo?"
Panaka blanches, caught in his mistake.
She continues, "You have served me well these past years, Captain, during some of the most troubling times I have ever known. But you have forgotten that I am more than this figure sitting before you. You have forgotten your Queen. Don't make this more difficult than it already is."
He cannot deny it. He kneels and casts his sight to the ground. "My duty is to you, Queen Amidala. I will do as you ask."
There is an awkward pause, then Panaka says without raising his head, "By your leave, I will go and prepare a report to give to Padawan Skywalker when he arrives."
She speaks gently now, fearing she has been cruel.
He looks up at the sound of his name. Tears roll down from his one good eye. She knows that what has been said cannot be unsaid. She nods, and lets her true meaning pass unspoken.
"...you are dismissed."