Star Wars
According To Jack

Episode I
The Phantom Menace

Scene 2: Protocol

A golden metal man stands tall and proud before the great doors of the throne room. Concierge and herald for the Eternal Queen of Naboo, he can't help but feel honored by his duties. He's programmed that way.

"Greetings, Viceroy Newt Gunray! Greetings, Lieutenant Rune Haako! I am C-3PO, human-cyborg relations, at your service!"

"We demand to sssee the Queen at onccce!"

A spark flies through Threepio's annoyance chip. The two representatives of the Trade Federation appear to lack any understanding of proper protocol, though he knows this is common among the grey suited businessmen of the snakelike Neimoidians. If Threepio could, he might wonder how any race could rise to the topmost echelons of power in the galaxy-spanning Federation with so few manners. But droids are not programmed to wonder.

"I'm terribly sorry," he says in perfectly accented Coruscant standard, his default setting. "The Queen will not grant an audience with the Trade Federation until the Chancellor's ambassadors arrive."

Rune hisses a snide comment to Newt in their native tongue, and the Viceroy smiles. Threepio replies, "Even if you were so foolish as to attempt that, I think you'd find your blasters could not penetrate these doors. Though the Undying Queen would of course have nothing to fear from such intrusion, she would find it insufferably rude, and has taken all appropriate measures to prevent it. If it would please you to be entertained while you wait, I could summon JK-23, the finest jester droid this side of the Outer Rim. I believe you would not be disappointed."

Rune glares at Threepio over his darkened glasses. "Neimoidian? You underssstand Neimoidian? But no one underssstandss Neimoidian excccept Neimoidianssss!"

Threepio twitches with excitement; he is programmed to enjoy marketing his features. "I am fluent in over six million forms of communication, including the indigenous languages of every member planet in the Galactic Republic. My model was designed by top Techno Union engineers specifically for service to the noble houses of the ancient and exalted regency of Naboo, who spared no expense. If you would like further demonstration--"

"Enough of thisssss!" the Viceroy exclaims. "We come bearing manzzzanoro. By the protocol of thossse anccient houssesss, you mussst grant usss audienccce."

Threepio's arms raise up in a manner that is undeniably mechanical, but nonetheless sufficient to indicate surprise to most bipedal species. "Manzanoro! A unique gift of immeasurable value! What do you bring that would invoke such a protocol?"

Rune hands a briefcase to Newt, who lays it flat in front of him where it hovers as if thin air were a table. With a snap, the latches release and it pops open. Within it lies a ball of dull bronze, no larger than a human fist. "We call it Droideka."

Threepio leans over to look at it, eagerly recording this new information. "What does it do?"

Newt removes it from the case and holds it to his lips, whispering in his own language, "Protect." Then he rolls it gently along the marble floor; it bumps off a wall and lolls to a stop in the middle of the entranceway hall. He steps aside. Rune takes two quick strides towards it while drawing his blaster from beneath his lapel, then fires.

Faster than the laserbolt, the ball sprouts three insectlike legs and is surrounded by a whirling blue field. The laserbolt bounces off of it harmlessly, leaving a small charred mark in the frescoed walls.

"Goodness gracious me!" Threepio's arms zip up to the full height of their limited articulation. "Weapons fire in the antechamber! I must ask that you refrain from doing that again, unless direct threat is made to your bodily integrity, otherwise by the Galactic Charter of Parley our security forces will insist on confiscating your blaster at once!"

Rune sheaths his blaster. The droideka flips back into a ball and rolls back to Newt, who stoops to pick it up.

Newt looks on it with adoration as he speaks. "Activation and deployment of ray ssshields within closse range blassster fire. Sssurely more impenetrable than those doorsss. Do the Naboo know of anything like it?"

Threepio's arms drop. "No."

"And what value would the Naboo placcce on sssuch a thing?"

"The value would be...immeasurable."

Newt walks to Threepio, grabs his wrist, and places the droideka in the protocol droid's palm. "Then we will see the Queen immediately."

Threepio's head tilts momentarily to indicate processing, then with a socially appropriate measure of resignation he says, "Immediately."

By some unseen mechanism, the doors to the throne room open with a long slow groan, and Threepio leads the Federation representatives inside.

They walk along a red carpeted path beneath shimmering titanium arches supported by pillars on either side. Beyond the pillars, for all appearances, lies outer space, riddled with stars and comets, novae and even galaxies packed in much more closely than they would ever truly be, but impressive to behold. If the Trade Federation is impressed, Threepio cannot tell, and so he continues without further commentary until they reach the observation platform. Motioning for the Federation representatives to hold back, he climbs the few stairs that lead up to an empty dais and an abrupt ledge, where he proclaims,

"We call upon thee, Amidala,
 Eternal Queen of Naboo!

 Undying ruler of millennia,
 Attended by angels,
 She is Naboo and Naboo is She!

 Let all here gathered greet her
	with bowed head and bended knee!"

Newt and Rune remain standing. "Typical," Threepio snorts to himself as he shuffles aside to make way for his Queen.

Beyond the platform, in the darkness, there arise twelve flames. As they draw closer, one sees that they are not flames, but women in robes of burning orange and yellow. They sing a wordless choral fanfare as they gather to form a circle. At the center, fading through translucence into solid existence, appears the Queen.

She is beautiful and fierce. Her ornate blood red robes flow into a horny obsidian crest around her head, from which a bone white face peers with crystal eyes. As her attendant host hover behind her and bring their song to a close, she lands delicately and speaks with deadpan force.

"Your display in our hall was impressive, Viceroy, but you will not like what we have to say. Your trade boycott of our planet has ended."

"I wasss not aware of sssuch failure," hisses Newt.

The Queen continues. "We have word that the Chancellor's ambassadors have landed, and when they see the abuses you have wrought upon us, you will be commanded to reach a settlement."

"Asss you know, our boycott issss perfectly legal, and we'd be happy to recccieve the ambasssadorssss. We would never do anything without the approval of the Ssssenate."

"Do not lie to us, Viceroy! The Federation has gone too far this time. You may be able to hide your misdeeds from the buereucrats on Coruscant, but we see all that happens on Naboo."

Her angels intone in response, "For She is Naboo and Naboo is She!"

"Of courssse."

Queen Amidala glides over to C-3PO and accepts the droideka from him.

"This technology is indeed unique and invaluable. We shall study it with great interest. We apologize if you find this audience was not worth the cost, but we have nothing further to say."

As she reascends, there is no bow from the Federation representatives; they stand confidently, as they have throughout. Threepio makes a note in his memory that the number of their infractions has now exceeded the normal bounds for diplomatic immunity, and he may now submit his recording of this entire event to the Legislative Subcommittee on Diplomatic Standards as evidence for censure of the Federation. He is drawn out of his self-satisfied feedback loop as Newt speaks a single command clearly and boldly in Neimoidian.


Threepio gives a small yelp. There is a whorl of laserfire and sparks from beyond the dais. Fluorescent lights flicker on and wash out the universe, revealing the screens on which it had been projected. The smoke clears to show bodies strewn across transparent steps, with one small droideka standing at attention on the remains of the Queen.

Rune laughs, and races up the steps to retrieve it. "The Undying Queen! Eternal! Ha!" He kicks her corpse.

"Now we do to Naboo asss we did to Sssshe," says Newt. "Begin landing troopssss; I want the capital sssecured by the end of the day. And deploy Droideka throughout the palaccce. Let none essscape alive!"

C-3PO remains motionless as they stride past him and out of the room; lucky for him, droids tend to be ignored in these situations, so long as they don't call attention to themselves. Not that he has much choice; the overwhelming number of breaches in protocol have rendered him practically inoperable. When the coast is finally clear, he does the only thing that seems proper. He runs away, as fast as his mechanical legs can carry him.

Next Scene: Escape from the Palace