Star Wars
According To Jack

Episode I
The Phantom Menace

Scene 21: The Sunken Tomb

The tomb is exactly where his Master said it would be, a giant bubble of air clinging to the deepest corner of the lake. Eerie grey light makes its way through the dome of murky water, glinting off a thin waterfall gurgling into a basin near the back of the hall. Under a ledge behind the waterfall, carved into the lake wall, the looming elongated stone visage of the Last Sith of Old seems to meet Darth Maul's gaze, oozing the mysteries of the Dark Side.

Darth Maul smiles in triumph, even before his task is complete. He points a taloned finger at the statue.

"Dark Father Plagueis! I, Dark Lord Maul, Chosen of Dark Lord Sidious, command you to reveal your secrets!"

Nothing happens.

This angers Maul, who seizes upon the anger and repeats his command with more Force. The only thing that moves is the water, unperturbed in its fall.

Forgetting all formal ritual, the Sith raises both hands and shuts his eyes, concentrating all his power on tearing the statue away from the wall. It does not budge.

He howls in frustration, and those few fish swimming near the dome flee for their lives. He fears that he will fail. He must draw strength from that fear. He refuses to fail.

His lightsaber flashes to life. He leaps through the waterfall, hacking at the long face of the ancient Lord, but his saber bounces off without leaving a mark. He continues to strike it anyway, venting his emotion, until he senses a large school of creatures swimming toward the dome, oblivious to his presence.

His first instinct is to kill this annoyance as quickly as possible, but he remembers his Master's teachings. He hides himself behind the rocky folds of the statue's cloak.

The procession of Gungans passes through the barrier of the dome as if it weren't there, switching from paddle to step with the grace of swans landing--man sized snot colored swans. Most of them are warriors in their rusted armor; a few seem to be priests in dull robes, bearing yellow globes that cast a warm light.

One Gungan is fatter than all the rest and wears purple robes. "Hurryden! Hurry!" he says. "Da time is now! Alloden signs is here! Da bobots hab come! Da bongo is snapped! Come den! Deesin what we waitin for! Today we meetin da Choosin One!"

The Gungans shuffle about to stand in a presentable formation before their altar. One of them points up and shouts, "Look!"

They collectively gasp as the bongo pod descends from the ceiling on a thick vine. This has never happened before--usually the bongo plant simply digests anything that steps on it--so they are quite astonished. With a sudden spasm, it ejects its five gooey occupants onto the floor and retracts back into the lake.

"Visitahs fromda Naboo!" declares the Gungan assistant chief priest, "Beholden de Biggum Boss odda Gungans, Boss Nass!"

Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon leap to their feet but do not draw their sabers. Obi-Wan wipes his eyes quickly with his sleeves, and both Jedi assess their surroundings. The Queen is similarly calm and collected, as both Anakin and Panaka help her to her feet. Boss Nass looks down at them from the altar, the magnificent curtain of the waterfall behind him. The Queen steps forward to address him.

"Boss Nass, I am Queen Amidala of the Naboo. I come before you in peace. Although we do not always agree, Your Honor, our two great societies have always lived in peace...until now. The Trade Federation has destroyed all that we have worked so hard to build. If we do not act quickly, all will be lost forever. I ask you to help us."

He shows no response, only a dour stare.

The Queen falls to her knees. "No, I beg you to help us. We are your humble servants. Our fate is in your hands." Following her lead, her companions likewise prostrate themselves.

Boss Nass smirks, then chuckles, then lets out a full belly laugh. He speaks with a deep clear voice. "Honestly, Your Highness, get up off your knees. I know who you are, and I've been expecting you." As our heroes stand in awe of his diction, he addresses his fellow Gungans. "See! Is as meesa say--da Naboo no tinken deysa greater den da Gungans. Maybe wesa bein friends!" The priests nod, and the warriors whisper among themselves.

"Your--Your Honor!" stammers the Queen.

"Please, we are equals. You may call me Nass." He steps down from the altar, taking her arm.

"Thank you, Nass," she says. "And you may call me P--Amidala."

"P'Amidala," he says, and she blushes, hoping none of the others notice. "It is a pleasure to finally meet you in person."

"I wish it could have been under less dire circumstances. Our planet is in peril; the grand army of the Gungans offers us hope."

"Does it now?" he frowns, and gestures toward his soldiers. "P'Amidala, I'm sorry to tell you this, but these are the best of my warriors." One of the warriors picks his nose. "Why do you think we did not conquer you long ago? Do not fear, though, for your arrival here today foretells the coming of the one who will unlock the secrets of this tomb and lead our army to victory. One of you five is the Choosin One of Gungan prophecy."

"How will we tell?"

Boss Nass now speaks to them all. "It is said by our people that the bongo will deliver the one who can stop the flow of water through the holy basin, and only then will the blessings of our Creator be upon us. Which one of you has the power to do so?"

"Showtime," says Obi-Wan to himself, stepping forward. Qui-Gon reaches out to stop him, but gets shrugged off.

"Boss Nass, I am Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, Knight of the Jedi Order, and I think I'm up to the challenge." Nass nods for him to proceed.

Obi-Wan rubs his hands together, raises them before the waterfall and pushes with the Force. The crowd of Gungans gasp as the water slowly turns upon itself, becoming a tendril of liquid that shrinks until it is smooth with the surface of the dome. The Gungans cheer.

"See, that wasn't so hard," Obi-Wan says, mostly to himself and Qui-Gon, as water begins to rush around their feet.

Panaka points and shouts "The basin!" Water now gurgles up and out from the basin into which it recently fell, threatening to fill the cavern.

"Undo!" commands Obi-Wan, pointing at his seal, and the water comes crashing back down in its former fall, to everyone's relief.

"Hrm," Obi-Wan mutters. "I am absolutely certain that's not how water is supposed to work."

"Master Qui-Gon," says the Queen. "Hopefully you will have more success."

Everyone looks to him, but Qui-Gon shakes his head. "No, Your Highness. I sense a dark power in this place. I beg your forgiveness, but I am not the one to unlock its secrets."

More murmers from the crowd, and Boss Nass frowns. The Queen tries to apologize, but Nass just points to Anakin.

"What about the child?"

Anakin looks to Qui-Gon, but his Master looks suddenly puzzled, staring at him with a gaze as intense as Ki-Adi-Mundi's.

"Go on, then, Anakin," says Obi-Wan, pushing him forward. "Give it a try."

Anakin looks to the waterfall, raises his hands, and nothing.

"Try again," encourages Obi-Wan.

Anakin shuts his eyes and grasps internally for that feeling that triggered his powers in the past, but he feels only emptiness.

"Concentrate," says Obi-Wan.

Anakin whirls angrily to face him.

"Dammit, Ben, you know very well why I can't!"

There is stunned silence. Obi-Wan Kenobi is caught off guard, and doesn't know what to say. The boy knows.

A dark laughter of satisfaction echoes through the hall. Every eye turns to the altar as Darth Maul steps through the waterfall.

"Gungans, behold your Chosen One..." Maul grips his lightsaber hilt at its center, and both ends flash red, creating a staff of deadly light. "...and DESPAIR!"

Next Scene: Duel of the Fates