Darth Vader: Hero of Naboo
AN To people who don't remember: Yes, its Boba Fett, not Jango. He traveled back in time, same as Vader.
"No luck with this one either?" Nym called up with a frown, muscled arms crossed over his chest.
"We're not exactly engineers," one of the Meres called from on top of a droid tank. "We can drive these things, but don't expect us to fix them."
"Great," Nym grumbled, scowling towards the hill, and the city that was beyond it.
He had hoped that they could help deal with the remaining droids, but they couldn't get in range without the droids potentially turning around and marching on them. And they'd be caught out in the open with very little cover to work with, a perfect killing ground for the droids.
So of course his first and best hope was to see if any of the AATs could still be useable.
But as smoke fumed out of the tank and a Mere lunged out of it with a coughing fit, that hope was quickly dying out.
"We could always take some of those riding beasts," the Mere suggested. "Go around the droids, get into the city and link up with Sixxa."
"That's assuming that the Gungans are willing to give up more of those things," Nym retorted with a scowl. "Besides, we'd have to double back all the way to their Boss's camp and then ride out. We'd probably make it to the city on foot by the time we might make it with those things."
The Mere made a growling sound, one Nym had learned meant they were thinking, not trying to intimidate someone.
"There-" the Mere in the tank said, pausing to cough half of his respiratory system out. "-is another idea."
"I'm listening," Nym grunted.
"We-gack!- follow the droids. Don't shoot. Just tail them. To the city. Get cover. Shoot them from behind," the Mere explained between breaths and coughs.
"We stick out of range, they'll never notice," the first Mere agreed, patting his comrade on the back.
Nym hummed. It wasn't a great plan, but it wasn't horrible. Droids were stupid enough that they could be tailed for miles without noticing. "Alright, we're doing that," Nym agreed, frowning as the Mere kept coughing. "You stay here."
"I'm fine," the Mere protested.
"I'm all for some bravado, but Sixxa might try to shoot me if I made one of his soldiers die from breathing in too much smoke," Nym remarked with a smirk.
"No, he'd try to drown you."
"Here, here, stop here," Sixxa ordered with a grunt.
"The archway?" one of the soldiers asked, looking up at the stone structure.
"Good a cover as any," Sixxa said. "This will probably sound horrible, but I'm used to fighting in places with a bit more collateral damage to use as cover."
None of them responded to that rather morbid notion.
"Okay, you two," he said, looking to the two without sniper rifles. "You go with the one in the hovercraft. Find out where everyone else is, and let them know the rest of the droids are here. They'll swarm blast over anyone they catch off guard."
"What about you three, Sir?" one of them asked in concern.
"We have enough alleys and streets that we can run off before they get too close," Sixxa assured.
There was a brief pause before the hovercraft fired the mounted gun on its front, blasting down at the droids. With that, it turned and left with the soldiers on top of it.
"What was that all about?" Sixxa asked in surprise.
"I think he just wanted to shoot the thing once, Sir," his sniping companion said with a small smile.
"I will never understand the fascination with cannons," Sixxa remarked as they took positions and began shooting as they peaked out from behind the base of the archway.
It was only a minute or so before the droids we firing on them as well, their blasters now in range of them.
"Dammit, do they ever run out?!" one of them yelled.
"Of ammo or droids?" the other called back in forced amusement.
"Yes!" the first answered in frustration.
"Keep calm," Sixxa advised sternly. "If you don't, you'll just miss more. Don't let it get to-"
The Naboo fell to the ground.
"Toals!" the Naboo sniper called out as Sixxa quickly leaned down, checking the soldier.
It was a testament to how many corpses he had seen, that Sixxa didn't react beyond a scowl when he saw the scorched and burst flesh around the side of the head. "He's dead!" he called over grimly.
"Shit," the survivor cursed, leaning against the archway.
Sixxa glanced back down the road and leaned back behind safety quickly. "They're getting too close. We need to make a run for it," he said, motioning to the street to the side.
The Naboo glanced at the dead body, a grimace on her face and a hard look as she tried to hold back tears.
"Trust me, he wouldn't want you joining him on the ground!" Sixxa barked loudly. "Now move!"
That got her moving, both of them running down the intersecting path.
"W-where now?!" the soldier called as they got away from the blaster fire.
"Another spot. An alley ideally," Sixxa suggested.
"What...what about the rooves?" she questioned.
"Unless we try roof hoping, we'll get pinned up there if the droids come after us," he warned knowingly. "Come on, over here!"
They ran between two buildings, Sixxa staying at the side to look down the street. He pulled back most of the way as the droids came into view. "Some of them are looking down here, but most of them are marching towards the palace. We'll have to be a bit-"
He stopped as he turned to the female Naboo and realized she wasn't listening. She was standing there, grasping her head with her eyes shut.
"...First time losing one of your own?" he asked in understanding.
"No. First time seeing them die in front of me like that," she answered, taking a deep breath.
Sixxa nodded. These weren't battle-hardened soldiers and this wasn't some cesspit planet that made law enforcement just as jaded as war veterans. "I get it. But I don't have time to talk you through this. So either pull yourself together or hide out in one of the houses."
She looked at him in surprise.
"I'm not judging. I don't know your name, so I couldn't say you deserted even if I wanted to. I'll just say you got lost, you make it up from there," Sixxa offered sternly.
"...My name is Setyn," she responded with a frown. "I just need...to ask a quick question."
"Is it better to vomit or just hold it in?" she asked with a grimace.
"I'd hold it in. I don't stop if I start," he answered honestly, glancing back to peek out down the street. "None of the droids are coming this way. We need to move."
Setyn nodded silently, gripping her weapon firmly with a deep breath. "How many are left?"
"The three of us took out a hundred. That's still over three hundred," Sixxa remarked as he moved down the alley.
"Dammit, where is Vader?" Setyn whispered as she followed after him.
Running across the street to the next alley, Sixxa eyed the line of droids marching down the main road. "He was supposed to deal with the army if it returned," Sixxa said in agreement. "He's not dead, I'm almost sure."
"Why?" Setyn questioned.
"Because I'm sure he'd have a very loud and noticeable death," Sixxa answered. "So, I can only assume and hope they're closing in on Gunray and unable to assist here."
Setyn nodded absently before both of them suddenly ducked as they heard someone firing as they got to the alley.
"That wasn't at us," Sixxa realized with a frown.
"How can you tell?" Setyn asked, back to the wall.
"I know what it sounds like when blasters are being shot in my direction, and when they're not. Those weren't," Sixxa explained as more shots rang out.
Glancing down the street, he quirked his head as he realized someone was shooting the droids from the rear, the droids turning around to fire at the unseen enemies.
"Hm. Looks like we have friendlies," Sixxa remarked, getting an idea. "One moment."
"What are you doing?" Setyn asked as Sixxa pulled out a communicator. "I thought they were jamming communications?"
"Just the long-range stuff. If you have the right communicators, their jamming doesn't work so well on the local level," Sixxa explained as he activated the device. "Nym, this is Sixxa."
"Bit busy here, what'd you need!?" Nym's voice hollered back over the line.
"Is that you shooting at the rear of the droids?" Sixxa asked.
"Who else would it be?! I brought your Meres with me too," Nym answered.
Sixxa could feel the savage grin in his voice. "We're nearby. We'll try to link up with you."
"Always happy to have more bodies to shoot at the scraps!" Nym called back as the line was cut.
"He enjoys this way too much," Sixxa grumbled to himself.
Setyn didn't say anything but silently agreed.
Panaka took his duty very seriously. It didn't matter if he agreed with the Monarch of Naboo, just that he kept them safe to the best of his abilities. Unlike some, he took no issue in being "shown up" at his job; which was fortunate he knew, as it was clear that the Jedi and Vader had been doing much of the work. How Naboo got so entangled in an ancient quarrel among wielders of the Force, he might never grasp.
That said, it still rankled his sense of responsibility to be leaving the Queen behind, even if she was in arguably better hands and a safer situation than he and his followers were.
Even as he descended the steps, he knew all that it would take was one word from Gunray to have the droids trying to kill everyone in that library. All it took was one person being too slow to push the Queen out of the way.
If he were a man of lesser training, he might have slammed into the secret door at the bottom of the hidden steps, so fast was his descent. He stopped, looking back over his shoulder to see his officers were right behind him, ready to go. Carefully, quietly, he opened the passage.
Or tried too.
"Sir?" the one behind him asked when nothing happen.
Panaka frowned, pressing the button on the terminal again. When that failed, he grasped the latch, the secondary method to open the door. But still, it didn't budge.
"Did the droids find out about this?" someone asked as they all started to mutter.
Panaka stood there for a moment before using to himself. "By the moon," he murmured. Of course, the one hidden door they needed to work on was the one known for being faulty. "The door is malfunctioning. It won't open."
They all turned grim at that.
"Can we force it open?" someone suggested stubbornly.
"No, too much noise, we'd just get into another firefight and let them know we're up to something," another reminded in defeat.
"We're heading back up," Panaka said firmly. "The Queen has to know that the plan won't work."
"Last Stand," one of them said with a snort. "There is something poetic about it ending in a library, but for the life of me, I can't come up with anything."
Panaka allowed a bitter smile as tired chuckles came from his fellow officers. Without another word, they began to head up the stairs.
"Sir?" the one right in front of him asked, whispering as the others chatted amongst themselves.
"Yes, Cadet?" Panaka answered grimly.
"Did Vader abandon us and the Queen?"
Panaka frowned at the question. "Who knows? Vader's interest in Naboo is a mystery, but it's not his only priority. Perhaps one of his own enemies showed up. Or maybe he's already up those stairs, ready to end Gunray."
"That'd be nice," the cadet said with a sigh.
Brannder and Rellen walked forth with guarded looks, Padme and Gavyn tailing them with the troops they had left. They circled around the tower, slowing their speed and gripping their weapons tightly as they eyed the droids down the bridge. Once they passed, they headed to the side, where a balcony looked down at the tower. They all shared a look before approaching the edge, peering up at the perch.
There stood Gunray, in all his fearful ego. Standing next to him was the "Queen of Naboo" along with four droids and two droidekas. All of them had their guns aimed down at them, save one battle droid pointing it at Sabe.
"Lower your weapons, all of you! Or I will order my droids to open fire!" Gunray warned, his voice hot with rage but strained from the pressure the day had brought to his mental wellbeing.
They obeyed, making a deliberate effort to place their rifles and blasters on the ground as slowly as possible. Though, the Naboo all silently noted that both Meres had blaster pistols secured on their backsides at the waists.
Prepare for everything in a fight, Padme mused to herself.
"You are not Naboo," Gunray called out, glaring at Rellen and Brannder. "Or Gungan!"
"How perspective of you, Viceroy," Brannder called back snidely.
"You are from Maramere!" Gunray recognized before turning to Sabe. "So, this is the rabble you plead to for help?! Raiders and pirates!"
"We raid and pirate only when it comes to your greedy skins," Rellen remarked with a smirk.
"Do you want me to silence you for good, sea-dweller?!" Gunray shot back.
"Rellen, control yourself," Brannder scolded evenly. "You might give him a heart attack with all this stress."
"I should be so lucky," Rellen said in amusement.
Gunray bristled at the insult, but Brannder interrupted any more insults that might be hurled. "Gunray, say what you want."
"What do I want?" Gunray repeated incredulously. "I have captured the Queen! My army is in the city! I have killed Darth Vader! I have won you fools! There is no further point to your resistance!"
"Are you sure about all of that?" Rellen asked coolly.
"If you don't surrender, it will be the Queen that suffers!" Gunray said, motioning wildly to the droids holding Sabe at blaster point.
"Yeah, well, she's not our queen," Brannder reminded evenly. "Our human friends here might have to stand down, but we don't."
"You are two outlaws, far from home!"
Padme watched the exchange silently, knowing the Meres were putting up an effort to stall. Stall for Panaka and the others to get out.
Or, that had been the plan.
Gavyn made a low ticking sound, grabbing her attention. He nodded past them, down the curved hall. There, Padme scowled in dismay as she saw Panaka just in sight with a grim, apologetic look. Those that had gone with him were just behind him, staying close to the wall and out of sight. The secret passage had failed, for whatever reason.
Time for Plan B.
"-and if you continue your petty assault, I will have the droids fire upon everyone in the palace!" Gunray roared back in frustration.
Everyone froze as Padme stepped forth, glaring up at the Viceroy.
"If you wish to make demands, here I am," Padme said boldly.
"And who are you?" Gunray asked in confusion. "A handmaiden? Here to plea for the Queen? Or some noble house of Naboo?"
"I am Queen Amidala, Monarch of Naboo," Padme answered firmly, chin raised and eyes defiant.
"What?! But that's..." Gunray said, glancing to the "Queen" he possessed. Sabe tried not to smirk at his sudden doubt. "You're...you're bluffing! Trying to confuse me!"
"Gunray!" Padme shouted authoritatively. "Do you think Vader really walked up to the palace alone with the Queen?"
Gunray opened his mouth before closing it.
"This was all part of our plan, Viceroy," Padme said sternly.
"I don't believe you," Gunray said stubbornly. "I have the Queen! You are just a decoy, a body-double! Vader died protecting her!"
"Did you see the body?" Padme countered with a raised eyebrow.
Gunray felt the silent ominously.
"Viceroy, regardless if you believe Vader is alive or not, you need me," Padme reminded firmly. "Either as a bargaining chip for your life or to sign your treaty. You need the real queen for that. After all, you no longer have Palpatine helping you."
"What?" Gavyn muttered in surprise, the other resistance members equally confused, while those that had been with the Queen to Coruscant looked grim.
Gunray frowned. "Again with this?"
"You don't believe me?" Padme challenged pointedly, but also curiously.
"It doesn't matter who Sidious is or isn't, Your Highness," Gunray countered. "What matters is that I don't believe he is dead."
Padme stood there and realized her and Gunray were in the exact same situation, in this one regard: both told by their enemy that their sith ally was dead, both having absolute certainity that the other was wrong or lying.
That made her wonder. She knew Gunray was wrong. But than...could she be wrong as well? Could Vader be wrong, and Sidious- Palpatine, whatever his name might be- had survived? That was cconcerning, considering what happened on Coruscant. She never really had the time and place to truly question Vader on the certainity of the treacherous senator's demise.
But that was for another time.
Gunray balled his hands into fists, glancing between the fake queen and the real queen. "I should just kill you all and be done with it. Say the Queen of Naboo never returned, that she abandoned her people or was otherwise lost to the stars."
"You could do that," Padme acknowledged. "But even if she's not the real queen, all the people saw Vader leading her to the palace's front door. You think the people will want to believe otherwise?"
Gunray seethed, not wanting to admit that she had a point.
"What is your decision, Viceroy of the Trade Federation? The Queen of Naboo is right before you. Isn't my capture what you've been wanting this whole time?" Padme pressed.
Her people and the Meres looked on with admiration. It was easy to forget that Gunray had started as the one making demands. One would be forgiven for thinking that Padme was the one holding Gunray's life in her hands, not the other way around.
Gunray trembled as if fighting with some decision within himself before forcing himself to come to a decision. "I-!"
"Orders, sir?" one of the battle droids inquired.
Padme frowned as Gunray's words suddenly died in his throat, the humanoid standing there with a perplexed and frightened look as he reached for his throat.
Gavyn raised both eyebrows at the scene. "What is he...?"
A rattling sound brought them all to silence, their eyes shooting down…down to their weapons, now shaking on the ground.
"Earthquake? Theed's never had those...?" Gavyn remarked in surprise.
"No, this is something else," Rellen said, looking to the stone railing, watching as the very dust seemed to rise off the surface.
"He's here," Padme said stoically.
Gunray continued to choke and wheeze, trying to gesture to the droids to help him, or to open fire. But the droids themselves began to tremble, their metal bodies groaning as some invisible, terrible might began to twist their bodies.
Even with his oxygen cut off, Gunray froze in terror at the sound, that terrible sound.
Then, without warning, he was lifted into the air, his feet kicking and thrashing as he was turned around.
There, at the entrance to the balcony, stood Darth Vader in all his glorious wrath, hand outreached with a grasping gesture. He stared into Gunray's horrified eyes for a moment before raising him up him and flinging him down, sending the Viceroy hurtling into the floor.
It was not Gunray alone that his wrath was unleashed on. The machines were flattened and mangled by the force, the droidekas forced back into spheres, their shields flickering away as they were pressed smaller and smaller, far beyond what they were supposed to be, until they were not but balls of scrap metal.
Sabe breathed a sigh of relief. "I was beginning to worry you were actually injured."
Without a word, Vader approached the balcony, looking down at the group.
Or rather, at Padme. She wasn't harmed and that was his only concern right now.
"About time you showed up!" Rellen called up with a grin on his scaled face. "Hey, we're a bit stuck down here. Don't suppose you can fix the elevator?"
"Stand back!" Vader ordered sternly and-
They could all feel a rush over the air, something heavy about them as they instinctively stepped away from the edge. Without warning, the parapets on both buildings cracked and broke, large sections floating.
To their disbelief, the debris floated forth and started to form a floating staircase, leading up to the balcony.
"Or he can do that, apparently!" Brannder remarked, shaking his head in bemusement.
"Everyone, move," Padme ordered as they all retrieved their weapon. "Captain!" she called to Panaka, waving him and the others over.
Everyone began rushing to the "steps" with the two Meres at the front. They hesitated only at the first, making experimental steps on them. Finding that they weren't going to suddenly buckle under their weight, they headed up more confidently, with the humans following up after them.
A blaster bolt fired out at them. They all ducked, and one of the soldiers almost fell. Vader glanced to the side, glaring at the droids marching down the bridge and firing from the side.
"Move, move!" Brannder yelled urgently, pulling them up, the Naboo rushing as the enemy fire became more intense, several of them trying to shoot back.
"Do not bother engaging them, just step away from where they can attack you," Vader instructed.
The blaster fire hit one Naboo near the end, sending him tumbling and knocking two more off the edge, including Gavyn.
Or, they would have, if they weren't held up by Vader's power. Being the only ones left, Vader hurled the steps aside, striking at the bridge and disrupting the droids while he floated the three humans up onto the balcony.
"Lieutenant, are you alright?" Panaka asked as he helped Gavyn sit up.
"I should be," he said as he sat up, looking over to the soldier that was shot. "What about her?"
"She is unconscious, but she should live," Vader remarked, looking to Padme. "Apologies for the delay."
"At least you didn't intend to take so long then," Padme said in acceptance, looking over to the wheezing, coughing Gurney.
"I never thought I'd see this day," Brannder remarked as he stepped forth, towering over the downed Neimoidian. "I'd say good day, Gunray, but you're obviously not having one."
"You...I..." Gunray tried to speak while cowering before them, attempting to get back to his feet.
"No, no, just stay down," Rellen said, kicking him back down.
"It's over, Gunray," Padme said sternly. "You've lost."
The defeated Neimoidian just glared up at her weakly…or, more accurately, at the Sith Lord over her shoulder.
End of Chapter
There, Vader's back and Gunray is more or less defeated. As you all expected, the fight ended the moment Vader stepped in.
Not much else to say on this. I was honestly surprised by the dislike for the Battle for Naboo Arc. I did my best to make it different based on ripple effects of Vader's actions, so that it wasn't just a repeat of EP1. But apparently some people felt it somehow got too slow or stretched out.
I can't really say I'm sorry as I honestly had fun writing this mini-arc, the Anti-Feds getting a chance to help Naboo push back against the Trade Federation, exploring what battles against droids are like for the average person, etc. And I felt the arc was important in its own way.
Also, Hero of Naboo is nearing its end- it'll end in two, three chapters at most. Then it'll be time to ready the sequel. Bit too soon to be saying this but thank you all for being along this ride with me.
Early viewing of chapters 37-38 avaliable on my pat-reon:
p a treon . com (slash) akumakami64