And now we started to form our plan. I was still having trouble believing that Padme was the Queen of Naboo. How could I call her Amidala? She would always be Padme to me. She would always be that rogue angel I had an emotional attachment to.
I wanted to talk to her in private, but she was too busy saving her planet.
The leader of the Naboo guards, Captain Panaka, and some of his men were sent to spy on the Trade Federation troops. A Gungan sentry sat on one of the big-headed Gungan statues to watch for their return.
"Daysa comin'!" he finally shouted.
All right! I'm just so interested to hear what was going on with the Naboo guards and the Trade Federation army.
The news was bad. Terrible, even. Most of Padme's royal subjects had been thrown into the prison camps. There was a small resistance movement made up of Naboo police and Naboo guards. But it was nothing compared to the size of the Trade Federation forces. They had a droid army larger than Padme's advisors had expected.
From the grim expressions surrounding me, I began to understand what we were up against. We would be totally outnumbered in battle. And I'm just a boy. What could I do to help? Despite my amazing genius, I was unarmed.
So here's what Padme's plan was:
1. The Gungans would form a diversion and fight the droid army. Great. To win, each Gungan will have to take down dozens of droids!
2. That said, the Naboo would get into the city using secret passageways. They'd attempt to enter the Royal palace and capture the Viceroy. Without him the droids wouldn't know what to do.
3. The Naboo pilots would go and blow up the Droid Control Ship orbiting the planet. Therefore the droids on the surface will be helpless.
So with a risky plan and a thin thread of hope, we were going to war.
There can be nothing as serious as going into battle. Especially a battle where many on your side might be killed. But at the same time there is nothing more exciting. The Gungans may have looked odd and peculiar, but watching their soldiers rise dripping wet out the swamp dressed in leather and body armor and riding powerful kaadu was really something.
Even more amazing were the Gungan soldiers atop the fambaas. I'd never seen creatures like this before. They were huge and looked like giant, scaly salamanders. Each fambaa was outfitted with a shield generator that would (hopefully!) protect the Gungans from the battle droids' weapons.
While the Gungans marched bravely off toward the grassy hills beyond the swamp, Padme, the Jedis, a small number of Naboo troops and starfighter pilots, and I headed for the city. I knew Qui-Gon didn't want me to go, but with the whole planet about to go to war, there was no safe place to leave me.
We quickly and quietly entered the main city of Theed through secret passageways. For a moment, I was struck by the beauty of the domed buildings and towers--but one look at the central plaza sent a shiver down my spine. Among the rubble from a recent battle, there were Trade Federation tanks and battle droids everywhere!
The sight of the enemy and the destruction it had already done made my throat grow tight. This wasn't a game. It wasn't a fight that could be settled with fists, or even a Podrace where someone like Sebulba wanted you dead. This was much, much bigger--an enemy of hundreds, maybe thousands of killing machines. And in the blink of an eye each one could blast a creature into a small heap of smoking ash.
My feet felt like they had turned to lead. Suddenly, my heart was pounding and I was having trouble breathing. What was I doing here? I'd gone along with Qui-Gon in the hope of learning to become a Jedi. I was 9 years old! I didn't want to die.
As if he'd read my mind (maybe he had!) Qui-Gon turned and gave me an encouraging nod. I think he understood what I was feeling. But the look in his eyes said it was too late. There was no turning back.
Our immediate destination was the central hangar complex, where the Naboo starfighters were kept. The hangar was connected to the Royal Palace. We had to get the Naboo pilots into those fighters and send them up to disable the Trade Federation's Droid Control Ship. The lives of hundreds of Gungan soldiers depended on it.
As we divided into two groups, Qui-Gon took me aside and whispered that once we got inside the hangar, I should find a safe place to hide and stay there. I wanted to help him, but I had to follow his orders.
We waited while the other group of Naboo guards snuck across the central plaza. Padme sent them a signal and the guards began to fire at the droids.
Instantly, the Trade Federation battle droids and tanks in the main plaza returned fire. Right. Let the shooting and killing...commence!
Meanwhile Padme's group rushed into the hangar. About a dozen bright yellow Naboo starfighters were inside. There were more droid guards in there and they started firing.
My ears were ringing with explosions and sirens as a battle began for control of the Naboo fighters.
Following Qui-Gon's orders, I ran under a fighter and hid there. The air sizzled with blaster bolts and lasers flying back and forth. I couldn't take my eyes off Padme. She led her troops well and fought bravely, ducking laser blasts and taking out droids with her blaster. Now that's really something.
A laser blast blew a hole in the floor just inches away from me. So close I felt its scorching heat. A shiver ran through me. If that blast had hit me, I'd be nothing more than a few chunks of burned flesh. Feeling light-headed, I backed deeper into my hiding place.
The fight continued with the Jedi Knights, Naboo guards, and pilots. They were pushing the Trade Federation droids back! Padme gave the signal for the Naboo pilots and R2 units to get into their fighters. The next thing I knew, a Naboo pilot jumped into the fighter I was hiding under! He yelled at me to find a new place to hide, and before I knew it, the fighter was lifting off. I was in the middle of the hangar, totally unprotected!
With random laser blasts still rocketing over my head, I frantically searched for a new place to hide. Isn't there any place...
I heard a whistle and turned to see the droid R2-D2 in an unmanned fighter. He looked safe in the starfighter. In the middle of the battle, with no place else to run, it sounded like a good idea. I climbed in.
By now lots of Naboo starfighters were zooming out of the hangar. Out in the central plaza, a Trade Federation tank whirled around and fired.
KA-BOOM! I winced as a starfighter burst into flames and crashed, Luckily, the others managed to take off unharmed.
Having freed the starfighters, Padme, the Jedi, and the Naboo guards turned toward the palace. The next part of the mission was to capture the viceroy. As they started out of the hangar, I began to climb out of the starfighter I'd been hiding in. Suddenly, Qui-Gon saw me and shouted that I was to stay inside the cockpit. Foiled! I tried to argue with him, but he insisted that it was the safest place for me. I can't say I was happy about it, but I did as I was told.
I watched as the rest of the group headed for the doors leading out of the hangar. Suddenly, they froze. In the doorway, blocking their path, stood the Sith Lord (DUN DUN DUN)!