EXT. SWAMP – DAY
The royal children and their bodyguards move through the swamp, winding their way through the tall trees and the thick foliage along a narrow path, taking as much care as possible to keep silent and remain from being seen.
OETA: (grumbling) Stupid speeder. Couldn’t get past the trees, could it? Had to get stuck, didn’t it? (to Panaka) I’m tired of this! My legs are cramping up!
AMIDALA: Shhh, Etey. This is hard on all of us. It’ll be over soon. I promise.
CAPT. PANAKA: Don’t worry, little prince. Lake Paonga has underwater tunnels that’ll take us straight to Otoh Gunga. We’re almost there.
AMIDALA: A group of Gunga will be waiting to take us to the city. We won’t have to find our way there alone.
CAPT. PANAKA: (hears a sound) Quiet! What’s that? (beat) Listen.
Standing completely still, they notice the low, distant WHINE of single trooper aerial platforms approaching. Moving fast, Panaka searches the area around them and finds a small, shallow pond half-hidden beneath the deep flora of the bog.
CAPT. PANAKA: (to his men) Grab the children and get over here! Take cover – quick!
The bodyguards hurry over to the pond, dragging the royal children with them, and roughly push them into the stagnant slime. Panaka and his men slowly lower themselves in after the children, keeping their heads and shoulders raised slightly above the mire, obscuring themselves behind the foliage as they bring their blasters into firing position.
A convoy of battle 'droids slowly cruises by, moving along the path the Nabu were following. The machines survey the area, looking out for their quarry, but fail to spot them. The automatons soon move out of view, disappearing into the thick trees.
AMIDALA: (whispers) Is it safe to come out now?
CAPT. PANAKA: (whispers) I think so. We should be cautious though. They may come back.
The royal children and their bodyguards draw themselves out of the murky water, stepping onto dry ground and wringing the moisture from their clothes. Panaka tentatively peers down the direction the Neimoidian ‘droids took. He signals the others to come to him. They join the captain.
CAPT. PANAKA: We’ll have to take an alternate route to the lake. We don’t want to come up behind those robots.
A line of blasterfire suddenly flashes past – missing their heads by centimetres – and shatters the branch of a nearby tree, sending its leaves ablaze.
A sole BX – a straggler – zooms down the path atop its STAP, firing its guns on approach.
CAPT. PANAKA: Kids, duck! (to his men) Open fire!
Ric Olié tackles Amidala and Oeta to the ground as the airborne 'droid speeds by them. The bodyguards aim and fire at the machine, their blasterfire striking the battle 'droid before it can reorient itself and evade, destroying the robot and demolishing its floating platform.
CAPT. PANAKA: We’ve gotta get moving. Let’s go!
Olié takes Oeta into his arms. They take a detour off to the left of the path and run through the thick trees as the convoy of Federation 'droids backtrack to their position, opening fire. A few 'droids try to follow them on their STAPs but are unable to maneuver past the thick trees; they end up blowing themselves to pieces against the massive trunks.
The Nabu try to stay together, attempting to huddle close to one another and run through the ingrown trunks at the same time. Amidala looks behind her to see the battle 'droids now following them on foot.
AMIDALA: Capt. Panaka, they’re following us!
CAPT. PANAKA: Just hold on, girl. We’re almost there.
EXT. SWAMP – SHORELINE – DAY
The heirs and their protectors finally break through the final line of trees, setting foot on the long shoreline of a vast lake. Far in the distance to their right stands a SEXTET OF GUNGA WARRIORS, in wait beside a partially submerged bongo submarine. The Gunga warriors are tall, lean, frog-like creatures armed with unusually shaped rifles.
The Nabu begin to run toward the Gunga. As they cross the shore, the Neimoidian automatons emerge from the trees. Gaining chase, the 'droids fire after the Humans.
LEAD GUNGAN: This way! Come! Hurry!
The Nabu make it to the Gunga and their bongo. The lead Gungan picks up Oeta and lowers him into the aquatic craft. Amidala steps into the submarine after him, followed by the bodyguards. Once the Humans are inside, the Gunga turn their weapons on the mechanical soldiers, cutting down three of them before entering the bongo themselves.
INT. GUNGAN BONGO/COCKPIT – DAY
The lead Gungan starts up the bongo’s controls and begins to steer the craft out into deeper waters.
EXT. SWAMP – SHORELINE – DAY
The battle 'droids come upon the bongo as it submerges, futilely firing into the blue water as the submarine lowers down and disappears beneath the liquid surface.
EXT. SPACE – CORUSCANT
A small bright streak of light flashes into existence, transforming into a Nabuan courier ship. The craft flies on an unsteady course toward the bronze ecumenopolis.
INT. COURIER SHIP/COCKPIT
The COURIER, a short man in his mid-twenties, struggles to stabilize his turbulent trajectory. Fighting with the ship’s controls, he pulls the goggles over his eyes up and off, wiping the sweat from his brow as he does so.
COURIER: No good … no good … this is not good.
EXT. SPACE – CORUSCANT
One of the courier ship’s engines suddenly flashes bright, throwing the whole craft into a spin. The craft tumbles toward a giant orbiting mirror. It strikes the reflective surface of the mirror, damaging the fragile material, and careens off, falling into Coruscant’s atmosphere in an uncontrolled re-entry.
INT. COURIER SHIP/COCKPIT
Klaxons begin to blare and warning lights begin to flash. The courier flips a number of switches and presses a couple buttons.
COURIER: (panicking) Lateral controls are gone now?! Dammit it all to hell! Why is this happening to --?!
EXT. CORUSCANT – GALACTIC CITY – DAY
Several Coruscanti civilians notice the courier ship as it descends from the sky trailing smoke, pointing skyward with expressions of alarm on their faces.
INT. COURIER SHIP/COCKPIT – DAY
COURIER: Please hold together, baby, please? You hear me, you piece of junk?! Hold together! (yells) Hold together long enough for me to land you and safely get the hell out!
EXT. GALACTIC CITY – PLAZA – DAY
The courier manages to stabilize the craft just enough to make a safe, if rough, landing on a plaza. A crowd gathers as fire and medical units arrive on the scene.
The ship’s outer hatch pops open and the courier staggers out. Medics rush to aid him as he collapses to the ground; reaching him, they lift him into a stretcher.
MEDIC: Are you hurt? Did you sustain injuries on the way in? Sir, can you hear me?
COURIER: I – I have to speak to the Senate – the chancellor! The Federation – the Neimoidians have taken over Nabu! I have to get help --!
MEDIC: It will all be taken care of. For now let us help you. Let’s get you looked at.
COURIER: You don’t understand! The royal family sent me! We have to get back to them before it’s too late!
MEDIC: (to his colleagues) Let’s get him out of here.
INT. SENATE BUILDING/CHANCELLOR’S OFFICE – SUNSET
The two highest ranking members of the Coruscanti Jedi Council – MACE WINDU and YADDLE – stand before the desk of SUPREME CHANCELLOR VANTOS COLL, a robust middle-aged male Human. While Windu is a bald, dark-skinned Human male, Yaddle is a short, gnome-like female creature with green skin, long, tapered ears, and shoulder-length brown hair. Both are attired in the black-and-gray uniforms of Coruscanti Jedi masters.
VANTOS COLL: (trailing his fingers back-and-forth along the desktop; cont’d) You now see why we need your help with this situation, masters. In your capable hands we can surely succeed.
MACE WINDU: Understood. This will be a difficult undertaking, Chancellor. There can be no doubt about that.
VANTOS COLL: None whatsoever, Master Windu, which is why I’m asking only for your top acolytes for this mission.
YADDLE: Our best?
VANTOS COLL: Indeed, if it is not too much to ask ….
MACE WINDU: (turns to Yaddle) There is Master Nivlem at the academy on Chommell Minor. It’s the closest world to Nabu with a Jedi presence ….
JARD DOHKU: (O.C.) The fleet amasses around Corellia, does it not?
Hearing the deep, resonating voice, the two Jedi masters turn around. Standing there in the open door behind them is Jedi Master JARD DOHKU. A tall, imposing man in his sixties, Dohku has dark brown hair turning silver at the temples. Like Yaddle and Windu, Dohku is adorned in the garb of Coruscanti Jedi masters. Unlike them, however, he relies on a black cane for support.
JARD DOHKU: (cont’d) I hope I’m not intruding ….
VANTOS COLL: No, of course not. Come in. (beat) As for your question, the fleet is assembling above Corellia. Why do you ask?
JARD DOHKU: A friend of mine, Obi-Wan Kenobi, is stationed there with my apprentice. They are assisting the Corellians in their rebuilding efforts.
VANTOS COLL: Obi-Wan Kenobi. (beat) He was the one who helped repel the clones from Alderaan, wasn’t he?
JARD DOHKU: Indeed he was. If it weren’t for his efforts, Alderaan would have been lost to the Athans.
VANTOS COLL: And he’s one of yours?
MACE WINDU: (stoney) No, he is not.
YADDLE: A ronin is Kenobi – a Jedi Knight without an order.
VANTOS COLL: Indeed?
JARD DOHKU: When Obi-Wan drove the clones from Alderaan, he was but an apprentice. In the time since, he has gone through his trials and attained the rank of full knight. He is more than capable of handling a mission of this enormity.
MACE WINDU: (frowns) We have acolytes of our own who are capable of handling the task. We do not need to enlist the aid of an outsider to do our job for us.
JARD DOHKU: Obi-Wan has proven himself.
MACE WINDU: That is beside the point! Kenobi is –
VANTOS COLL: (raises his hand) Enough. I’ve already made my decision. (to Dohku) As you said, Kenobi does not belong to your sect. Are you certain he would be willing to partake in this mission on your behalf?
JARD DOHKU: Not on our behalf, no, but he would do it because it is the right thing to do.
VANTOS COLL: Very well. It’s decided, then. We will assign Obi-Wan Kenobi to the Nabu rescue mission.
While Dohku smiles at this news, Windu can only frown with distaste.
INT. SAAK’AK/CORRIDOR OUTSIDE NUTE GUNRAY’S PERSONAL CHAMBERS
Deep within the confines of the Neimoidian Lucrehulk-class battleship Saak’ak, Viceroy Nute Gunray slinks down an empty corridor, moving with an unnatural stiffness which betrays his desire to remain unnoticed. Coming to a door he stops, looks down both ends of the corridor to make certain no one is around to see him, then opens the door and quickly slips inside the dim chamber beyond, closing the door behind him.
INT. SAAK’AK/HOLOPROJECTION CHAMBER
Gunray steps into the darkened chamber. In the centre rests a large holographic display. At his approach, the display surges to life, projecting the three-dimensional, blue-tinted image of a shadowy horned figure clad in black robes. This is the Zabrak KHAMEIR SARIN.
KHAMEIR SARIN: Speak.
NUTE GUNRAY: We have secured Nabu, my liege. We had the city of Theed bombarded, as you requested, and stormed the palace. Our soldiers disposed of King and Queen Naberrie and the princess Sola.
KHAMEIR SARIN: And what of Oeta and Amidala?
NUTE GUNRAY: Ah, yes – yes! As you see, my lord ….
KHAMEIR SARIN: (frustrated) Out with it, you blithering worm.
NUTE GUNRAY: Yes, Lord. See, I – I mean we, we … the ‘droids –
KHAMEIR SARIN: (angry) Now!
NUTE GUNRAY: They escaped us – twice.
KHAMEIR SARIN: Twice.
NUTE GUNRAY: At the palace and in the swamps. The Gungans – this world’s aboriginals – are helping them. We know that they live in aquatic cities. We’re attempting to locate the nearest settlement relative to their last known position.
KHAMEIR SARIN: (enraged) You ignorant fool – the Gunga are allied with the Nabu! You didn’t stop to consider that they would assist the royal family beforehand?!
NUTE GUNRAY: My lord, we didn’t think –
KHAMEIR SARIN: Precisely! You don’t think! You are as stupid as you are clumsy!
NUTE GUNRAY: Liege –
KHAMEIR SARIN: Shut up. I will hear no more of your pitiful excuses.
KHAMEIR SARIN: As you wish, my lord. I serve only to please you.
KHAMEIR SARIN: Once you have found the Gungan city, destroy it. We will not be taking any chances with these children; I want them dead.
NUTE GUNRAY: Yes, Liege, as you command. (beat) I ….
KHAMEIR SARIN: You have something more to say?
NUTE GUNRAY: My lord, the Empire will not stand for this. I fear we will face a retaliation from them sooner rather than later.
KHAMEIR SARIN: Have your ships formed a blockade around Nabu?
NUTE GUNRAY: Our capital ships are in orbit around Nabu, yes, keeping patrol, but there aren’t enough of them to cordon off the entire planet.
KHAMEIR SARIN: The Ragnos’ Vengeance is still on approach?
NUTE GUNRAY: It is still on its way, Lord.
KHAMEIR SARIN: Then don’t worry yourself. Once it has arrived, you will have no need of further ships.
NUTE GUNRAY: My lord … it was a risky move siphoning ships away from the main fleet for this invasion. The Board has not sanctioned this endeavour; should they learn of my involvement ….
KHAMEIR SARIN: Should you fail me, Viceroy, there will be a greater dread than persecution from the Imperials or your fellow Neimoidians waiting in store for you. I promise you this.
NUTE GUNRAY: (swallows audibly) As my lord wishes.
KHAMEIR SARIN: Serve me well, Viceroy. You will be soon rewarded.
The viceroy bows before Sarin’s image. As the holographic Zabrak passes his hand over the Neimoidian’s form, the hologram dissolves and the display grows dark.