Miat Alpha commands his clones through the process of constructing “the Machine” amidst the ruins of the royal palace. He is met with his fearsome ally, Fenn Shysa, the heavily-armored mercenary from Mandalore. Miat must tie up any loose ends if construction of the Machine is to proceed smoothly, and that means eliminating young Padme. He tells Fenn of the precious crystals hidden in the escaping freighter, and Fenn obliges the offer. He boards his Firespray-class interceptor and blasts off from Alderaan’s besieged surface.
Anakin, Padme, and ZeeGee land their damaged freighter at the Tatooine spaceport of Mos Eisley. You know what it’s like there if you are reading this so I will dispense with the descriptions of the alien bazaars and cantinas.
They reach the junkyard where Obi-Wan told them to go and find that a scruffy young Owen Lars is the owner. They tell him that his brother Obi-Wan is marooned on Alderaan, which has fallen under clone occupation.
Owen tells Anakin and Padme he does not wish to get wrapped up in the war. However he agrees to help if it means his brother will be alright, though he still does not approve of Kenobi’s idealistic, crusading ways. It is through Owen that Padme learns the location of Tatooine’s only interstellar transmitter.
Anakin wants to return to Coruscant to sell the crystals, but Padme wants to transmit the message inside ZeeGee to the Fleet and return to Alderaan to liberate her people. If Padme gets her way, Anakin cannot get to Coruscant because the Republic will have placed the planet under mobilization lockdown. If Anakin gets his way, more of Padme’s people will die at the hands of the clone army.
Owen agrees to fix Anakin’s ship in exchange for some of the crystals, but it will take some time.
Obi-Wan undertakes a recon mission to the site where the Machine is being constructed. After using the Force to distract a couple of clone guards, he enters the inner workings of the massive contraption. Inside he discovers thousands of pods containing clone bodies being fabricated at the cellular level within liquid-filled tanks. The Utapauans are building another, more powerful Machine with which to overrun the Republic!
But before Obi-Wan can report his findings to Bail and the royal guardsmen in the woods, he gets captured by a detachment of clones under the personal command of Miat Alpha. Kenobi gets taken prisoner. Miat tells Obi-Wan he has walked directly into his trap.
Nighttime on Tatooine…
Anakin, Owen, and ZeeGee all rest in Owen’s modest dwelling near his junkyard. But Padme, only pretending to sleep, decides now is the time to strike out on her own. She quietly collects ZeeGee and embarks on a dangerous journey through the streets of Mos Eisley to the interstellar transmitter. She has only her blaster and her wits for protection.
To be continued…