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Dec 09, 2022 3:22 AM
One obstacle stands between Kina Skywalker and freedom: The Boonta Eve Classic. Also Darth Maul.
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Kina gives Padmé a fervently-meant hug.  "I promise, I will, m-Padmé.  I'll be careful as I can and I'll get help from, my friends, the people who care.  Like you and Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan and mom and Artoo and Threepio.  And even Jar-Jar," she giggles.  "He really does mean well."

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"Ooooo... yousa right, my meant well?" offers Jar Jar, from the ground. One of his ears is caught in a rolling oil bath that has splattered on Kina and Padmé, as well as knocking over its occupant, a now very annoyed R2-D2.

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"...You do, Jar-Jar, you do.  That doesn't really quite mean you can wave it around to make messes go away though, so let's clean this up, huh?" (She sounds so much like her mom, when she talks like this.  It's almost eerie.)  "Get the bath, would you?"  ...She hasn't tried moving liquids before, but she knows oil, she's worked with it for years...so, maybe...?

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Padmé helps clean up the spill, although mostly, she's just watching Kina trying to pick up droplets of oil with her mind.

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Some time passes.  The oil actually does get moved.

"...so, what happens when you get to Coruscant, then?  What do, the Naboo, plan on doing?"

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"Well, the first step is contacting Senator Palpatine, he's our representative and has a lot of influence in the Senate. If we can get the invasion recognized as against the laws of the Republic - which it in fact is - the Trade Federation won't be able to continue. What I'm worried about isn't that they'll be able to continue it forever, it's how long it'll take until it does end. Quite a few of the Senators have connections to the Trade Federation, and the Chancellor really doesn't have much power to override them if they start a filibuster. They're trying to hold the lives of our people for ransom, and I'm worried the Queen might have to surrender to protect them."

"If we can't force the bill through in time, I don't know what we'll have to do. Naboo only has a small police force, not anything that can stand up against the battle droids. And the Jedi have already expressed that they can't fight for us in any capacity other than protecting the Queen."

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"...You have to pass a bill to enforce laws?  That's!  Really weird!  Who came up with that?  ...We do have an actual Sith's corpse right here on the ship...can Artoo make a holo of the fight? And then...well, we have the lightsaber, we have the corpse, we can make it a question of 'do you want to be next?'  Get the squabbling Hutts united against an external enemy.

"...And what if we hack the droids?  Do you know if the specs are anywhere?  I'm good with machines!"

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"In theory, the laws are automatically enforced. In theory, the Republic should have already gathered an army and sent a rescue mission. In practice, not so much. I'm not sure how much the Sith will scare them, though... I didn't know what a Sith was myself until Qui-Gon told me, and besides, he can't look very menacing if he's cut apart." Although the Senate wasn't the only powerful group on Coruscant... "Actually, though, if we can prove a connection between the Sith and the Trade Federation, we can probably get it classified as Jedi jurisdiction, and send some of them to Naboo. I'm not sure whether that's worth trying or if it'll make it last even longer while the Chancellor assembles some subcommittee of historians."

Hack the droids? They were run from a Trade Federation battleship, one of the most advanced droid networks in the galaxy! Kina couldn't actually... then again, she might have said the same thing about winning Podraces and such early skill in the Force.

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"...I certainly don't see how the Sith can't be related to this, because the timing and placement is just...too suspicious, even without any of the other data.  He was looking for you.  He wasn't after the Jedi, in their position as Jedi, because he ignored me, the most powerful Force-sensitive in the room.  He was trying to make sure the Naboo delegation would not reach the Senate."

The Trade Federation is Watto writ large, and Watto is a cheapskate.  So Kina's money is on them being the shittiest quality work they can get away with.

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"Agreed, but just because something's blindingly obvious doesn't make the Senate accept it," Padmé says, bitterly. "I'm not sure how much evidence was on him. Let's get cleaned up, and then we can look it over."

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"Yeah."  Kina's got a somber look on her face as she thinks about that.  "We should do that.  Is Qui-Gon...moving around, yet?"

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"Yeah, he's still a bit fragile but he says he's feeling fine."

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"He should probably come too; he knows more about the Sith than either of us."

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Padme nods, and she sets off for her quarters to take a bath and get a change of clothes. They meet back up a little later and find Qui-Gon already waiting with the body.

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"Kina, Padmé, it's good to see you," says Qui-Gon, privately wondering why that one handmaiden seems to turn up everywhere. "The body wasn't recognized, but I've looked over everything the Sith was carrying." He gestures to a collection of objects on the table, including the ominously large lightsaber. "The message history on his communicator was almost entirely encrypted, but R2-D2 managed to map out the general locations of everything he's recently sent and received. Several to Naboo - where the only functioning signal is controlled by the Federation - as well as another few to Coruscant. He might have been contacting Senator Dod, but it's also possible he has other contacts there. R2 did notice that his robes match a Coruscant style, so he's likely been there before. How the Jedi didn't detect him, I don't know."

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"That's still proof he's been contacting the Trade Federation!" says Padmé. "Even if we can't fully prove a conspiracy, it's sufficient grounds to authorize a Jedi investigation on Naboo."

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"When did he send those messages, relative to events on Naboo?  Can we track the path his messages took to get where they ended up or started from and figure out who his co-conspirators are, since we know the source of the messages and the contents?  Can we dial his most recent contact and see who that is?  And can someone tell me what happened on Naboo?  It feels really weird for a bunch of Wattos to suddenly become Sebulba; are we sure that the Trade Federation was in charge?"

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"There's no history on the device since a few days before we landed on Naboo," Qui-Gon replies, "but that doesn't mean he wasn't already in communications with them. I really don't know what inspired the Federation to do this, although I suspect this isn't the only Sith we'll have to deal with. The Order should be able to prove a connection once we make it to Naboo, possibly by reverse-engineering the signal. But as of yet, I don't think we have enough to authorize open combat, although we can escort the Queen back into her palace if necessary."

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"If we time it right, we might be able to take Nute Gunray into custody. Do you think we could arrange for a group of Jedi to neutralize their central forces as a part of protecting the Queen?"

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"I'm not sure. If we can convince the Jedi Council to help, we can probably pull enough strings to support a resistance, but I highly doubt the Order will get the authority to actually force the Federation to leave on our own."

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"...Can't really help with the politics.  If you can prove he was getting calls on Naboo before the Federation invaded...he was scouting.  I'll work with Artoo and Threepio to see if we can crack the communicator somehow, for the next few days.  That should give us something useful, whatever it is.  And we really should set up a tracker or something, in case someone calls him.  ...I wonder...Lightsaber crystals are all...Yours is different from Obi-Wan's is different from his.  Do you think we could figure out where his crystals came from?  That would mean we'd have some idea of when and where this was made, though it feels...risky.  To try and poke it.  And I think we'd have to do something Forcey to narrow it down first.  But...I don't think we should rule it out."

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"The communicator's certainly worth another try; the Trade Federation will say regardless that there's no proof the calls were about conspiracy, even if you do break into it, but it could be the key to swaying the Senate. I believe the tradition of the Sith was to forge their crystals synthetically, rather than finding them through the Force as a Jedi does. But you can take a look at the saber if you want." Qui-Gon hands it over. "I hope I don't have to tell you how much caution is necessary handling one of these."

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"A lot, and then some more on top.  And then a little bit extra because this one might be evil!"

Well, Kina knows what she's doing for the remaining days of travel  - when she's not poring over communicator hardware and software and protocol with the droids, she's taking apart the lightsaber (very, very carefully) to see if any of the parts have serial numbers, and seeing if she can look into the history of things that aren't as likely to bite her face off as a Sith lightsaber.

If she can...then on the very last day they're in hyperspace, Kina Skywalker rounds up the two Jedi on this ship.

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Obi-Wan is not exactly happy to see the pieces of that lightsaber again, but he recognizes that it's probably important. "What did you find?"

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"It's not exactly what I've found - though there are a couple parts whose serial numbers we can trace, and there's also only so many capable forges - as much as what I hope you can help me find.  I've been...trying to look back into the past, like I can get impressions of the future, or know things in the present - and I've had some success in it just by myself...but if I'm going to use that technique on a Sith's lightsaber, to, see back to how it was made, to see who influenced its construction...I think I'd better have all the support I can.  I have...a good idea of how to do it, I think, but...this feels like it could be dangerous.  I...understand if you don't want to.  I just think we need something, something that we haven't gotten yet, because Artoo's still trying to crack that communicator even though we have made it go a million times faster, and this is a thing I think I can some."

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