Star Wars
According To Jack

Episode I
The Phantom Menace

Scene 6: The Communications Disrupter

Rune Haako's sunglasses do more than keep the bright Naboo sunlight at bay. Standing at the chain link gate of the interstellar communication dish, he glares north with amplified vision toward the drainage caves at the foot of Theed, watching the Jedi watch him. He hopes they can also hear him. He speaks to 00M-9, the battle droid standing next to him.

"Commander, I have good reassson to believe that the two essscaped Jedi may be coming here. Thisss outpossst isss valuable, but we have our own communicationssss in orbit. If you sssee any sssign of them, or of the handmaiden or sssoldier they ressscued, I want you to blow up thisss whole compound without hesssitation. Do you underssstand?"

00M-9 salutes. "Roger roger!"

There, that should give them pause, thinks Rune.


00M-9 is poised and ready to give the command to blow the dish, but there is no need. The two figures walking down the concrete road toward him are not Jedi, nor palace survivors, just a harmless protocol droid and a...something else. When they're about twenty paces away, the something else suddenly turns and runs away, then stops, smacks itself on the head, returns to its companion and finishes the journey to the gate.

"Halt!" 00M-9 chirps. "State your name and purpose!" He's addressing the protocol droid, but it's the something else that replies.

"Meesa Jar-Jar Binks! Meesa proud Gungan warrier! Meesa commin wit den bombad bobot forda Lootata Hackey, otay? Meesa make grand jesta fur olloden Gungen papa, furrinden meexa un lexxa, dattin dey no BOOM deelio cities but makim de biggol peace tuba SMASHIN Naboo, okeyday?"

00M-9 looks at the thing, then at the droid, then at the thing, then at the droid. "What?"


00M-9 begins a quick parse of his order queue, checking to see if he can blow them all up anyway. He doesn't notice the two brown blurs zipping over the fence behind him.


"Follow me," 00M-9 chirps.


The interstellar communications dish forms a vast building with an inverted dome, the dome being the dish pointed ever at the sky, with thick blaster-proof walls hanging down at its rim to protect its underbelly. Over the top shimmers an expansive ray shield. 00M-9 leads the droid and the Gungan inside.

"Wait here," he chirps. "Lieutenant Haako is away right now, but he will return before nightfall. He will listen to what you have to say, and maybe understand it. Until then, don't touch anything. Corporal!"

One of the two battle droids guarding the interior of the building says, "Yes sir?"

"Watch them. They should not be any trouble, but if they are, blast them."

"Roger roger!"

Jar-Jar Binks gulps prominently as 00M-9 leaves, the door snapping shut behind him. Threepio examines their guards for a moment, then offers his hand to one of them. "I am C-3PO, human-cyborg relations, at your service."

The guard mutters something quick in a mechanical language.

"How rude!" replies Threepio.

Inside, the ceiling is a jungle of wires and cables, some thinner than any of Threepio's own, others thicker than Threepio's whole body. They drape from a central pillar to uncountable sockets of all shapes and sizes along the outer wall. Jar-Jar looks around for something to do, then leaps and tries to grab one of the low-hanging wires. He misses. The guards don't respond, so he tries again, and misses again.

"Master Jar-Jar," cautions Threepio, "I wouldn't do that if I were--"

On his third leap, Jar-Jar grabs a cable, tearing it out of the wall. He holds the sparking end of it in his hand.

"Don't touch anything!" the guards say, raising their blasters and advancing on him. Frantically, he jumps to try and plug it back in.

With a snap, the two guards are on the ground, and two Jedi are standing in their place, lightsabers humming.

"Meesa SOWWY!" cries Jar-Jar. "Meesa wooned EBBYTING!"

"No, you did just fine," says Qui-Gon, taking in their surroundings.

"But seriously, don't touch anything," says Obi-Wan, pointing his saber in Jar-Jar's direction.

Jar-Jar slumps to the floor, sitting on his hands, and says dejectedly, "Nosa tuch NANYTING."

"Now we just need to figure out how to work this thing," says Qui-Gon.

"Bleep bleep blip bloop bleep." The sound comes from near the central pillar.

Obi-Wan says, "Let's check there."

The Jedi advance on the central pillar, with Threepio scuttling close behind. "Blip blip bleep bloop beep beep beep."

"Why, it's an astromech droid!" Threepio exclaims. The Jedi look to him for further explanation, so he continues. "A programmer's code delivery droid, capable of interfacing with just about any binary system, designed to provide modular interoperability across all platforms. Why, he should even be capable of providing basic mechanical repairs to anything with a standardized configuration. It's very uncommon to find one outside of a research and development lab, as they are very difficult to construct." To a series of additional beeps, he replies, "You're welcome!"

As Qui-Gon keeps watch, Obi-Wan sheaths his saber and kneels down in front of the small trashcan-shaped droid. Its upper dome rotates, housing several sensors and dials, while from its canister body a thin rod extends to plug into a circuit board on the central pillar.

"So this little guy is probably the communications disrupter we're looking for," Obi-Wan says.

More beeps; Threepio translates. "He says his name is R2-D2, and his master did indeed instruct him to disrupt all communications to and from the continent that are not Federation authorized, but that his original programmer left an override that would allow any communications...from you, Masters Jedi."

"Well, there's a lucky break!" says Obi-Wan. "Sounds like we've got ourselves a saboteur on the inside."

"We haven't much time," says Qui-Gon, "Let's not waste it. How long will it take him to contact Senator Palpatine?"

"He says that the Senator is already on hold, awaiting your call." As Threepio translates, a holographic figure blinks to life, emitted by the astromech droid. The figure is an elderly man with puffy white hair, wearing the formal robes of a Galactic representative, and he speaks first.

"Master Jinn! Master Kenobi! So good to hear from you finally!" Senator Palpatine's voice is pleasant but urgent. "The Trade Federation have escalated their boycott into a blockade. My entire homeworld has been under a communications blackout since shortly after your arrival. What news can you give of Naboo?"

"Nothing good, I'm afraid," Qui-Gon says. "The Federation have invaded your planet and taken the capital by force of arms. Your Queen is dead."

Palpatine gasps, bracing himself against some untransmitted object. "The Queen! No! That's impossible!"

"I'm afraid so, Senator. All residents of the palace were slaughtered, except for the Captain of the Palace Guard and one of the Queen's Handmaidens. We have kept them safe for now."

This news seems to steady Palpatine a bit. Qui-Gon continues. "We have a full recording of the attack in the possession of a protocol droid..."

Unprompted, a small rod snaps out of the astromech droid and plugs into a socket on Threepio's leg, prompting a brief "Oh me oh my!"

"...which we are transmitting to you now. Also included will be the eyewitness testimony of the palace survivors."

"Thank you, Masters Jedi!" the Senator exclaims. "This will do much to convince the Senate to intervene. Can you get the palace survivors to Coruscant?"

"Can you get us off Naboo?" asks Obi-Wan.

"I'm afraid that even with the evidence you've transmitted, it could take several days before the Senate approves conclusive action. And no Naboo ship at my disposal would be allowed through the blockade..."

"We'll find a ship," says Qui-Gon. "We've got our own ship in orbit, we just need to find a landing shuttle to get us there. It shouldn't be too difficult."

"Thank you! A thousand times thank you! I've been at my wits end, there's been simply nothing--"

"No need for thanks," says Obi-Wan, "We're just doing our job."

"Just have the Senate ready to convene when we arrive," says Qui-Gon. "We'll do the rest."

"Oh, I will, Masters Jedi. And thank you again!" The transmission ends.

"Well, that wasn't too hard," says Obi-Wan. "And to think--"


The companions turn to see Jar-Jar running away from the entranceway, where stands Rune Haako, smiling his sick snake smile. He waves as the blast doors slide shut in front of him. A calm feminine voice echoes throughout the chamber, informing the companions,

"Sixty seconds to self-destruct."

Next Scene: Lucky Shot