Her Majesty Namiene Tolarri, Queen of Naboo

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The position of Monarch of Naboo was an oddity in the Galactic Republic. When most people think of monarchs, they think of a title that is hereditary. That was not the case for the for the Monarch of Naboo, which was an elected office. When most people think of powerful elected officials, they think of old males. That was also not the case for the Monarch of Naboo, a title that had been held by a teenage girl for most of the past 60 years. There had always been a weird belief amongst the Naboo's electorate that young girls possessed a pure wisdom that wasn't tainted by the cruelties of life, or something like that*. However, after the brilliant reign of Padmé Amidala, who had led Naboo to victory over the Trade Federation and had reconciled the humans with the Gungans at the mere age of 14, that belief had become much more ubiquitous. Since then, everyone continued to vote teenage girls into office until it became a tradition, and maybe even something more than that. Apparently, a lot of people frowned on the act of running for Monarch if you weren't a teenage girl, as Armé had discovered the hard way when she had run for the position at 23 years of age. During her campaign, Armé had attempted to point out how stupid the tradition was and highlight the importance of maturity and life experiences. Seeing that she had lost by a huge margin, it was obvious that Naboo voters hadn't bought her argument...

And this was how Armé found herself curtsying to a girl that was almost 10 years her junior who had amassed more power and influence than Armé could realistically hope to ever possess.

Namiene Tolarri, Queen of Naboo, watched Armé's requisite gesture impassively, her face a mask behind an impressive amount of makeup (another tradition of the Monarchs of Naboo). "Sit," she commanded, and Armé hastily obeyed.

"What brings you here?" Queen Tolarri demanded coldly.

Armé was caught off guard by the tone of the Queen's question. Sure Namiene and her had never quite seen eye to eye, but this degree of harshness seemed rather unnecessary. "I am, er, delivering an urgent message from Senator..."

"Yes, I heard that part already from the guards," Tolarri blurted. "No, what I'm asking is why you are here with this 'urgent' message. If the message is so urgent, why not send a holo-message?

"Because it's top secret, I thought that was obvious," Armé remarked irritably.

Tolarri pursed her lips. "You would do well to treat your Queen with more respect."

Armé gritted her teeth and said nothing.

The Queen sighed. "So what is this 'top secret' message you came all this way to deliver?"

Armé wordlessly unpocketed the datapad which she had been assigned to deliver and placed it on the desk between them. Tolarri took the datapad and booted it up.

"What is the passcode to get into this thing?"

"9... 0..." Armé's eyes drifted to the vaulted ceiling as she struggled to remember the PIN to get into the datapad. Armé had repeated the code to her boss multiple times before she had left for this voyage for the express purpose of being able to help the Queen (and nobody else) get into the datapad and see its contents. However, after all that had happened, that conversation felt like it had occurred a long time ago.

Eventually, the code did come back to her after as she thought back to the instructions Berenko had given her. "Sorry, that was supposed to be 9, 3, 0, 2, 1, 7."

Tolarri tapped the screen a few times then looked back up at Armé. "This looks like a typical datapad interface. Is your secret message somewhere on here?"

Still thinking back to the instructions she had received, Armé answered, "Open up the 'Files' program, navigate to the 'Personal' folder, then open up a file titled 'Anniversary Ideas'."

Tolarri looked skeptical but followed Armé's directions regardless. After a little bit more tapping, the Queen paused, a look of confusion crossing her countenance. "What is this gibberish?" she demanded, turning the datapad screen toward Armé.

Emperor's saggy balls...

The screen showed the file titled 'Anniversary Ideas', but all the content of the file was an incomprehensible jumble of unrecognizable characters.

Armé bit her lip. "The file is encrypted..."

"And how do I un-encrypt it?"

"The decryption code was on the astro droid Senator Berenko sent with me."

Tolarri sighed impatiently. "And where can I find this droid?"

"In a substantial number of pieces in a scrapyard somewhere on Rogue Moon," Armé squeaked.

There was an awkward pause as Queen Tolarri dropped the datapad on the desk and gave Armé a hard look. "Well... thank you for wasting my time."

"This isn't a waste of time! This is important!"

"Your utter lack of preparation for this meeting indicates otherwise," Tolarri noted sardonically.

"I couldn't help it!" Armé protest. "My trip here was a journey from hell. I almost died!"

The Queen grimaced. "About your... journey. Did you arrive here on a ship called The Bantha, owned by a man named Joh Spivak?"

Armé blinked. "Yes, how did you know?"

Tolarri ignored her question. "And do you know where we could find The Bantha, Joh Spivak, and the other people that were with you during this 'journey from hell'?"

This new line of questioning was making Armé nervous. "The merchant district, probably. Why? What is going on here?"

"And is the girl with the snow leopard that has been standing in front of the east entrance of this palace since your arrival one of the people that was riding The Bantha during your voyage?"

"What's this about!?"

"Close enough, I suppose," Tolarri murmured. "So, to answer your question, I received a request from Rogue Moon about an hour ago to aid them in an ongoing criminal investigation. Apparently, a wave of violence hit a settlement known as Rust Alley, which is a charming place I'm sure, leaving a trail of corpses and carnage."

Armé froze. She could see where this was going, and every foreseeable outcome filled her with dread.

"So, the primary suspects for these crimes are believed to have fled on a ship called The Bantha here to Naboo, and Rogue Moon has requested that I send The Bantha and her crew and passengers back should she arrive. You have corroborated their suspicion that The Bantha is, or at least was, on Naboo at some You also confirmed that you arrived here on that ship, and you implied that you, or at least your property, had been to Rogue Moon. Have I made any inaccurate claims so far?"

"No, but you must understand, I didn't hurt anybody or damage anything!" Armé protested. "I got attacked! I'm the victim here!"

"Could you identify any of those responsible for these crimes?"

"...Yes." There wasn't any point in trying to deny the truth, as Rogue Moon would likely be able to identify the bodies of Ran, Jia, and Isul at some point if they hadn't already.

"Did you report these crimes to a public official upon witnessing them?"

"I... couldn't. I was being held hostage."

Tolarri gazed into Armé's eyes for several uncomfortable moments, then sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. "This is really complicated, isn't it?" she moaned.

Armé nodded.

"Are you still a hostage?"

"No."

"When did you cease to be a hostage?"

"About half and hour before I arrived at the Palace."

"Was Captain Spivak your captor or one of your captors?"

"No, my captor was a bounty hunter employed by the First Order."

Tolarri raised an eyebrow skeptically. "The First Order? Do you have proof of their involvement?"

"The document I showed you contains highly sensitive data about the military capabilities of the First Order. They came after me to stop me from delivering that datapad to you."

Tolarri still appeared skeptical. "Did this bounty hunter explicitly state that fact? And why didn't he take the datapad from you if that was what he was after?"

"She didn't know I had it," Armé explained, "and although she didn't explicitly state her mission, she didn't deny that she was working for the First Order when I asked her, either. It's a long story..."

"And unfortunately not one I have time to listen to at the moment," Queen Tolarri interjected. "As you should know, under the United Security Act, I am obligated to comply with Rogue Moon's extradition request."

"Nobody enforces nor follows that law," Armé pointed out.

Tolarri raised her index finger. "That may usually be the case, but I support the intention of the law and would like Rogue Moon and other systems to send fugitives back here when I request it, and so I will be happy to do my part to help the law be taken more seriously."

Armé sighed. "Okay, but... There aren't enough words I can use that will express just how badly I don't want to go back to Rogue Moon."

Tolarri studied Armé for a moment, and then her expression seemed to soften. "Perhaps we can come to an agreement with Rogue Moon. If you can tell us everything that you know, we can relay that information to their investigators and hopefully convince them that you are not a suspect. The problem may be that you will still be a witness, and so they will probably want to have you available in case this goes to court..."

"Does Rogue Moon even have courts?" Armé wondered out loud. From what she had seen of the place, nobody looked upstanding enough to be a lawyer.

"I would assume so, but I couldn't tell you for certain at the moment. I have not done much business with Rogue Moon until just now."

Armé frowned. "Wait, so you're bending over backward to help a system that you don't really care about?"

"It's a matter of principle and doing what is right," Tolarri replied defensively.

"Have you verified that this request is actually from Rogue Moon's government?"

"Yes... mostly."

"Mostly?"

Tolarri rolled her eyes. "Look, so I too was dubious when I was first notified that I had received a transmission from Rogue Moon requesting my aid. However, we quickly ascertained that the identity of the sender was a public official of Rogue Moon, and his information regarding The Bantha appeared to be correct. We do not know much about this official. I have people looking into him further, but for now, he and his transmission seem legitimate enough to warrant consideration. In the meantime, we have a decision to make. Do we wait until we've dotted our 'i's and crossed out 't's before taking action, or do we start rounding up these suspects now and risk embarrassing ourselves should the transmission later prove to have come from an imposter? Given the tendency of Spacers to come and go quickly, we are opting for the latter option."

Armé sighed and fell back into her chair. The Queen's reasoning was understandable, but that didn't mean she had to like it.

Tolarri hit a button on her desk, opening the door into her office. The two guards that Armé had passed on the way came into the room, one holding a set of handcuffs and the other holding his hand over his blaster.

Armé gulped. "Is this really necessary?"

"Perhaps not," Tolarri answered, a smug expression overtaking her visage. "However, I've been eagerly awaiting an opportunity like this after some of the things you said about me leading up to the election. Sorry, Armé, but it sucks to suck. I'm sure you'll make it through just fine. Cooperate with us to the best of your ability, and I'm sure you will get off the hook."

The guard with the cuffs roughly yanked Armé's arm and began reciting her rights as he cuffed her hands together. Armé clenched her jaw. She was getting really sick of getting dragged around by other people...

"...and send someone to arrest that girl who's been hovering at the East Entrance."

"She's a suspect too?"

Armé jerked her head up to see Queen Tolarri issuing orders to the other guard. "Crystal didn't hurt anybody!" she protested.

"Oh I'm sure," Tolarri shot back. "She will be given the same opportunity to prove her innocence as you will. Now please stop interrupting me."

Armé remained quiet for the next few minutes while the guard that was arresting her concluded the summary of her rights and pulled her to her feet. Meanwhile, the guard that had been talking to the Queen bowed and left. Just as her arrester was about to drag her out as well, Armé piped up, "Can I ask you one last question?"

Queen Tolarri rolled her eyes but acquiesced. "Shoot."

"How did you know that I arrived here on The Bantha?"

"I didn't really know until you confirmed the fact, but before that, the transmission from Rogue Moon said that you, Joh Spivak, J'nali Anubel, and Saphira Halcase were suspected to be onboard, along with others of unknown names."

Armé frowned. "How did they know my name, and who is Saphira Halcase?"

Tolarri shrugged, then did a "shoo" gesture with her hand. The guard pulled Armé out of the Queen's office and the door closed off behind them.

As the guard took Armé's arm and guided her out of the palace, Armé pondered something that was troubling her. She had never declared her name to any Rogue Moon authorities, nor even laid eyes on one for that matter. So how had this supposed Rogue Moon official learned her name and managed to identify that she had escaped on The Bantha? Actually, now that she was thinking about it, how had the First Order's Bounty Hunter known that she would arrive at Rogue Moon in the first place? Her arrival at Rogue Moon had been an accident, hadn't it? Unless...

Unless her arrival to Rogue Moon hadn't been an accident, that contrary to the pilot's claim, he hadn't plugged in the hyperspace coordinates incorrectly. Maybe he had been bribed by the First Order to deliver her right into the Bounty Hunter's trap. Armé also recalled that they had been redirected to another landing bay. Could the First Order have bribed the Orbital Controllers as well? If so, just how far had the First Order's tendrils extended? Could they be responsible for this transmission that Tolarri was arresting her for as well?

==============================

Another day, another hundred credits earned by standing around for hours waiting for someone to try something stupid. Being a royal palace guard wasn't that bad a job, but it definitely could be quite... dull.

Guardsman Herik Jiordere had been assigned to watch over the East Entrance for the day. The weather was nice, not too warm nor too cold, and most of the visiting tourists, officials, and businessmen had been courteous enough. The morning had been pleasant, and by extension, rather boring, but that had changed a bit when the two chicks with the snow leopard had arrived. They had briefly conversed, and then the slightly older looking girl with the darker hair continued toward him while the younger girl stood on the stairs nearby with the big cat.

Once she arrived, Herik had requested to see her ID, which she promptly showed him. Her name was listed as Armé Natala, a name that he felt like he recognized from somewhere but he couldn't remember where. Maybe it was just because her name was kinda similar to that of the famous Queen Padmé Amidala.

The younger girl and the cat, after a brief conversation with a Chiss guy that had been standing nearby, proceeded to stick around for a very long while, which put Herik and his partner, Rhys, in a bit of a pickle. The cat was clearly intimidating a lot of the nearby pedestrians, and loitering in front of the palace entrances was kind of illegal. On the other hand, the girl wasn't exactly hard to look at, and neither Herik nor Rhys were particularly eager to mess with the cat...

With the cat discouraging casual visitors, business slowed down a fair bit, and eventually, Rhys disappeared for a moment to go use the restroom. Shortly thereafter, Herik's radio buzzed to life.

"Guardsman Jiordere, Guardsman Hess, this is Captain Riggs, do you copy?"

Herik silently groaned. Perfect timing. "Captain Riggs, this is Guardsman Jiordere. Hess is using the restroom at the moment, but should be back shortly. What can I do for you?"

"I need you to arrest that girl that has been loitering in front of your entrance."

"You need me to arrest her for loitering? I haven't even given her a warning yet," Herik confessed.

The guardsman heard his superior groan on the other end of the radio. "No, she is a suspect in a murder case that happened on Rogue Moon or something. I don't know all the details. Just tell her that she is suspect in a criminal investigation on Rogue Moon and tell her to come with you the Palace Security Station."

Herik took a deep breath and glanced over at the girl and her cat. "And what should I do about the big snow leopard that she has with her?"

"Instruct her to have it come with you to the station," the captain replied impatiently on the other end.

"What if it attacks me?"

"Shoot it."

"What if it gets to me before I shoot it?"

The captain sighed. "Do you want me to send backup?"

"Yes please."

"Very well, hold your position until backup arrives, then arrest her and the cat. And Hess, if you are hearing this, get your ass back on duty."

After the captain was off, Herik put his radio back on his belt and nervously looked at the blonde girl and her white leopard. He was not looking forward to this, not one bit...

==============================

"Theed Security Dispatch to Tower Control Merchant District, do you copy?"

"We hear you loud and clear, Security Dispatch. Are you calling about another suspected smuggler ship?"

"Something like that. Is there a ship called 'The Bantha' parked in any of your bays?"

"I believe so, just give me a moment...hmm...yeah, here we are. She is in Bay K 237. Would you like me to send you a log of her reported goods?"

"Sure, why not? Anyway, we are sending a team to pick up the captain of this ship and his crew. We would like you to keep your staff as far away as possible for their safety."

"Of course. Anything else I can do for you?"

"No thank you Tower. Just, whatever you do, do not alert them that we are coming."

"Roger that Dispatch Good luck, may the force be with you..."

-

*In all likelihood, the reason for this nonsense is that George Lucas felt the need to come up with something to justify Padmé Amidala holding the title of Queen of Naboo in The Phantom Menace and still be an attractive young heroine in Attack of the Clones, which took place 10 years later. He also portrays Padmé as a staunch supporter of democracy, and thus it probably wanted the Monarch of Naboo to be an elected office, because Padmé probably wouldn't have appreciated democracy as much had she inherited the throne.

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