Beneath the Senate Chamber on Coruscant, in the office of the Supreme Chancellor, Palpatine and a handful of key Loyalist leaders discuss what they have just learned of the clone army.
"And you're sure your people knew nothing of this?" asks Senator Bail Organa.
"Queen Amidala knows all that my people know," says Palpatine, "And I know she would never approve the use of clones for war. But apparently, the people of Kamino did not think they needed permission from the people of Naboo."
Organa sighs and rubs his temple in frustration. "This doesn't add up. It's too convenient. Armies do not just appear out of the galactic aether exactly when they're needed, unless someone is trying to start a war. There's some mischief at work here."
"You heard what the representative from Kamino said," says Senator Orn Free Taa. "This army was commissioned by the Jedi Council. It is clear the Jedi Knights are not strong enough to defend the Republic on their own. Who knows what threat looms in their foresight?"
"We have not yet spoken to the Jedi to learn their intentions," says Organa. "Chancellor Palaptine, please, we must postpone the debate until you can meet with Master Windu..."
Senator Ask Aak grunts and whinneys, and his silver protocol droid translates into Coruscant Standard. "The time for debate is over. When the Separatists hear of this army, they will use it as a pretense to attack, whether or not the Senate has sanctioned it. Our hand has been forced."
"The debate is not over!" Organa insists. "The Senate will never approve the use of clones without the consent of Naboo. If nothing else can stop this, that will." Everyone looks to the Chancellor.
"Senators," says Palpatine, "I may speak as Supreme Chancellor and in good conscience as a human being to say that I would not permit this army unless I had no other choice. But I cannot speak for my planet; the conflict of interest is too great. My world has appointed others for that task."
Of those gathered in this office, only two have not yet shared their opinion. The first is Senator Jar-Jar Binks, who can only gulp as all eyes now turn to him. He is momentarily reprieved by the other.
"This is a crisis," says Mas Amedda, the Chancellor's closest advisor, a stoic robed figure with blue skin and two long horns extending both up and down from his expressionless face. This lifelong buereucrat has served at the side of five different Supreme Chancellors across political party lines, though he speaks rarely enough that most Senators consider him part of the office furniture. As he is not known for mincing words, those gathered now hang on to every one.
"And in times of crisis," Amedda continues, "the Senate may vote to give emergency powers to the Supreme Chancellor, so that decisions can be made with both the speed and prudence demanded by the threat."
Everyone starts shouting at once.
"That's as good as an authorization for war!"
"That's not good enough! We must make a decision now--"
As the politicians argue, Jar-Jar sits biting his lip and crossing his eyes in an attempt to think harder than he has ever thought before. Palpatine slides over to him.
"It's too bad Reverend Padme isn't here," the Chancellor says to the Gungan. "She would know what to do."
This seems to push a button in Jar-Jar, whose face becomes resolute. He stands.
"Senators!" he declares, "Meesa pwepared to take bowled action! I do what musten be dun!"
Firm in purpose, he walks out of the room.
Over the next few hours, word spreads among the politicians of Coruscant. The Loyalists are divided, and the fate of the galaxy now hinges on the opinion of the senator from Naboo. Conventional wisdom says the moderates will swing on his decision. The talking droids of the interstellar news networks dig up all that they can about Jar-Jar, trying to get into his head and guess what he will do. If he condemns this army, the Senate will likely vote to disband it, regardless of the Separatist threat. If he endorses it, there will be war, but there may be war anyway.
And if he defers...
In the Senate Chamber, under the gaze of the thousands surrounding him in the great arena and the billions watching this broadcast across the galaxy, Jar-Jar concludes his speech. He speaks bravely, and he believes he does his world proud.
"Senators, dellow felagates! Itsa clear, deasa Separtists made a pact wit de Federation du Trade! In wesponse to dis direct threat, meesa pwopose dat da Senate give immediately emergency powers to da Supreme Chancellor!"
The Chamber erupts in shouts and cheers. Chancellor Palpatine recuses himself from moderating the debate, but it does not last long. The Senate follows Jar-Jar's lead and authorizes Palpatine to use all necessary and appropriate force against those planets, organizations or sentients he determines are planning future acts of interplanetary terrorism against the Republic.
"It is with great reluctance that I have agreed to this calling," Palpatine proclaims, "I love democracy. I love the Republic. The power you give me I will lay down when this crisis has abated!"
Everyone applauds. Those who sought an army are satisfied that they now have the protection they need. Those who fear war are convinced that Palpatine will refuse to field the army. For his part, Jar-Jar is confident that today he has done justice to Padme's faith in him.
They are all wrong.
When Padme and Anakin return to Padme's quarters, the droids are jumping with the news. After viewing the many messages and transmissions that are waiting for them, they sit in stunned silence at the edge of Padme's bed.
"It's not your fault, you know," Anakin says, seeing a tear roll down Padme's cheek. "You had nothing to do with this."
"Ani, you don't--" Padme stands and moves away from him, speaking to the wall. "I can't believe clones have been used for this. I feel helpless. No, worse--I feel dirty. Violated. Cloning was not meant for this."
"Pardon me, Miss Padme," Threepio interrupts delicately. "There is one more message that you should attend to..."
"I just don't understand how they could do this without my knowing," Padme continues, lost in her sorrow.. "All of them. Lama Su. Bail Organa. The Chancellor. Jar-Jar! Oh!" She clenches her fist, coming as close to anger as she gets. "I could kill Jar-Jar!"
She'll never get the chance. Later this evening, Jar-Jar will be found murdered in his quarters. That is to say, it will take awhile to identify the victim conclusively, given the mess of tangled remains they scrape off the ceiling, but no one doubts that it is Jar-Jar Binks. Such bold action as he took today does not come without consequence.
"Miss Padme," says Threepio, "about that message..."