Chapter 1 - Destinys
Darth Maul had killed Obi-wan Kenobi on Naboo?
Darth Maul looked down at the young Jedi Padawan hanging below him, and toed his lightsaber over the edge, sending it hurtling into the reactor below.
Maul considered toying with the Jedi before making the kill, as he had only one other mission to perform, despite the Viceroy of the Trade Federation's belief otherwise, but decided not to waste time. Something in the Force told him this would be a bad idea.
Maul raised his left hand like a claw, and reached out with the Force. The young padawan, Obi-wan Kenobi, was pulled from the wall where he hung, and clawed at the vise-like Force grip holding him up by his throat. A few moments later, the sound of crunching bones filled there air has Kenobi ceased struggling and joined the Force. Maul let his body fall into the reactor pit.
Maul walked over to the Jedi Master he'd skewed at the end of his lightsaber, picking up the half that the padawan had managed to sever. To his surprise, he found it was still operational, the padawan had just damaged the connection point. A few hours at a work table inside Scimitar, and Maul would be able to restore his lightsaber to double-bladed functionality.
Maul stood over the dying Jedi Master, and smiled at him. Strangely for Maul, he decided to say something to his prey.
"Thank you for bringing the boy with you. Had you left him on Coruscant, my job would have been that much more difficult."
Not waiting for the Jedi to voice a response, his emotional turmoil in the Force being response enough, Maul skewed the Jedi Master again, this time through the head, and then, with a gesture, sent his body down the reactor shaft to join his apprentice. His lightsaber, activated as a vicious parting shot by Maul, following soon after.
Pleased with the results of the duel, and the lack of evidence remaining, Maul moved off make preparations to intercept his real target.
The boy, Anakin Skywalker.
* * *
Anakin got out his starfighter, and was immediately hosted onto the shoulders of several members of Naboo’s security forces, amidst cries of joy and astonishment, as well as of celebration. They’d defeated the Trade Federation blockade, and had captured the Viceroy. Naboo was free. The crisis was over.
Anakin looked around, feeling that something was wrong.
“Where’s Qui Jon?” He said when the pilots finally put him down. “What about Obi-wan?”
The pilots looked at each other. “We don’t know. We assumed they were with the Queen.”
“No, they were fighting that Sith Lord when I left.” Anakin replied. “They should have beat him by now. Something is wrong.”
From his hiding place, Darth Maul felt the boy’s instinctive use of the Force. Untrained and unrefined, it reached out, searching for the Jedi. Had they still been alive, he probably would have found them. Impressive.
Maul was about to make his move, as there were only a few pilots, when he stopped. The Dark side had warned him…
Queen Amidaala and the rest of the security volunteers came in with her, minus Captain Panaka. And all of them armed.
“Congratulations!” Padme called. “I take it you destroyed the Federation Control ship?”
The lead pilot looked sheepish for a moment. “Actually, it was the boy that destroyed the Federation ship. He flew his fighter right into their hanger and blew up their reactors from the inside.”
Padme looked at Anakin in surprise. “You did what?” she couldn’t believe it. “That’s, that’s incredible!” She knelt down and hugged Anakin. “Oh, thank you Annie! I’m so proud of you. Aren’t you master Jin?”
Padme looked up, not getting a response.
“Master Jin isn’t back yet.” Anakin said. “I think they went in there, fighting the Sith Lord....”
Anakin pointed to the shield doors separating the palace from the reactor complex.
Darth Maul continued to be impressed with the boy. Either he was beginning to sense what had happened with the Force, or despite the commotion that had happened, had noted where they went, showing incredible attention to detail and recall. He wasn't sure which was more impressive.
“Okay, let’s go help the Jedi.” Padme said.
“I’m sorry ma’am” one of the security officers said. “I’m afraid I can’t let you do that. Captain Panaka asked me not to let you get close to the supposed Sith if it could be avoided.”
Padme looked at the security guard. “Lieutenant Typho, isn’t it?”
Padme sighed. “Very well. Lieutenant Typho, take security and find and help the Jedi. Two of your men will escort myself and Anakin back to the throne room. We’ll await your report there.”
Darth Maul retreated into the shadows, waiting for the security forces to leave. It would be a much simpler matter to take the boy later. For now, he would retreat to his hidden ship, and would wait until nightfall.
* * *
“Keep looking” Lieutenant Typho said “there’s no other way out of the reactor chambers. They have to be here somewhere.”
“Sir” a call came over his communicator “I think I found them.”
“What do you mean, you think?” Typho said, replying into his wrist.
“I’m in one of the heat sink rooms. There’s blood on the floor, some signs there’s been a fight. It also looks like something was kicked or shoved down the heat sink pit. There are marks on the floor, and what look like foot prints leading to the edge…”
Typho felt his blood run cold. “I’ll be right there. Do not, I repeat, Do not inform the Queen until we have confirmation.”
* * *
Darth Maul was on one knee in the cockpit of the Scimitar, awaiting the grace of his master, Darth Sidious, the Dark Lord of the Sith. Maul was prepared to wait his masters convenience, holding his position until then.
He didn’t have to wait long. A moment later, a blue hologram of Lord Sidious materialized.
"Rise, my apprentice"
"What is thy bidding, my master?" Lord Maul said, looking at the hologram, both there faces partially shrouded by the hood of their cloaks..
"Take the Scimitar and conceal it on the far side of the Naboo system. I foresee it may not be necessary to forcibly acquire Young Skywalker. Other factors may play in our favor, including the dogma of the Jedi."
"Yes, my master." Lord Maul said with a bow.
The hologram disappeared, and Maul moved to carry out his masters will. Inwardly, he wondered what his master may want with the boy, but ultimately, it didn't matter. He lived to serve Lord Sidious, and through him, the Dark Side of the Force.
And if Lord Sidious intended for this body to become his apprentice, then the superior apprentice would prevail, and the Sith would be stronger for it.
Such was the nature of the Dark Side.
* * *
"Master Yoda, Master Windu, may I have a word with you?"
Despite his weary emotional state from having presided over the funeral of another Jedi master, Yoda stopped.
"Of course, Supreme Chanceller." Yoda said, turning to face the newly minted leader of the galactic government. "Do for you, what can we?"
"On behalf of the people of Naboo, I'm curious as to what will happen to young Skywalker. As you can imagine, right now, he's quite the hero to us, and we’re concerned about his future. I understand that Master Qui Jon was going to take him as his Padawan. Will another Jedi be taking him?"
Mace looked at Palpatine. "It was decided, before Qui Jon's attempt at defiance, that young Skywalker would not be trained. All the evidence points to tremendous potential, but he's too old to be properly educated. We were considering sending him back to Tattooine."
"I must say, Master Jedi, that sounds like a bad idea" Palpatine began. "Tattooine is in Hutt territory, and from what I understand, his mother is a slave there. The odds are, he'd be re-enslaved by his former owner, or end up on the streets, perhaps joining up with criminal elements. If his potential is as great as you say, wouldn't that be dangerous? The kind of life he would face is full of anger, hatred and betrayal."
"Yes" Yoda said, his eyes half closed. "All of those, paths to the Dark Side of the Force."
"This presents a problem" Mace said. "He's too old to be trained, but to dangerous to not be at least mentored or monitored.” Mace considered for a moment. “Perhaps into one of the Service Corps?"
"Perhaps I can offer a solution" Palpatine said, as if a thought had just occurred to him. "I could adopt the boy, and free his mother, and bring them both with me to Coruscant. He'd be given a fine education, have access to councilors, wouldn't have to worry about his mother, and could be monitored by your graces. Should you deem it prudent, you could step in any time it was required to bring a wayward Anakin under control, even training him if you deem it is so required."
Mace nodded. "There is wisdom in this suggestion."
Yoda looked at Palpatine. "Why such a thing, would you suggest?"
"I'm old, Master Jedi" Palpatine said. "I have no children, and only distant, at best, family relations remaining. I believe I have a lot to offer a child, even one by adoption. That boy may have single handedly saved my home and brought us hope, and it would seem that doing the same for him would be the least I can do."
Yoda nodded. "Then decided it is. Palpatine will adopt young Anakin Skywalker, and the Jedi council will assist in the education and mentoring of the child, so that he does not follow the path of darkness. A time might come where Skywalker must join the order, but now, that time not is."
Palpatine kept his composure and nodded to the Jedi Masters, but inwardly, as Sidious, he was quite delighted.
The Jedi had just played into his hand, once again.
* * *
Padme came into the small apartment in the Palace she’d given over to house Anakin until the Jedi or the Republic figured out what to do with him. She’d almost been tempted to house Anakin in her own quarters, but had decided against it. She’d had no doubt at least a few reporters would want to talk to Anakin in private, and she’d already had problems with her office having been bugged with spy cameras. She didn’t need them in her private quarters.
Palpatine was behind her. They saw Anakin sitting on a chair, looking a little upset. Probably at Qui Jon’s death, as well as the ambiguousness of his situation.
“Padme!” Anakin said, happy to see her. He got up from his chair and wrapped his arms around her.
Inwardly, Palpatine noted the apparent affection Anakin had directed towards Padme. To his Sith senses, it was very apparent Anakin had, what was called a ‘crush’, on Padme. He noted that as useful for later.
“We’ve got good news for you.” Padme said. “It’s been decided where you’ll be living.”
“Here with you?” Anakin asked.
“No silly” Padme said, tickling Anakin briefly. “You’re going back to Coruscant. Chancellor Palpatine has made arrangements to adopt you.
“What?” Anakin said. “You don’t want me to stay here?”
“Oh, of course I do Anakin. But believe it or not, this isn’t really a place for you to grow up. You’ll be able to visit and talk to me a lot though. I promise.”
Palpatine knelt down. “I promise you Anakin, I’ll do everything I can to make sure you get everything you want, and you deserve.”
“So, I’ll be living with you on Coruscant then?”
“Yes” Palpatine said. “You’ll be able to go to school, have lots of friends, and never have to worry about the Hutts or Sandpeople again.”
“What about my mother?” Anakin asked.
“I’m making arrangements to have her freed. It’s going to be expensive, but for the Hero of Naboo, the people have agreed to pay for her release. She’ll be given a job and a salary at our new residence on Coruscant. You’ll have a family and a good life Anakin, I promise.”
Delighted, Anakin transferred his hug to Palpatine. “Thank you.”
“Oh no, son, thank you.” Palpatine said. “if it wasn’t for you, Naboo would never have been freed from the Trade Federation. After everything you’ve done for my people, for me, this is the least I, or anyone else, could do, for you.”
Inwardly, Palpatine was very pleased. Using the Jedi’s own dogma and fears against them, and with a simple kind action, he’d just acquired Darth Plageusis’s experiment, the so called the Chosen One, as an apprentice.
And no one, outside of himself and Darth Maul, had realized it. And Darth Maul would quickly be convinced of another purpose for Skywalker, or he’d be eliminated in Anakin’s favor.
All in all, not bad for a plan that had seemed ready to spiral out of control and into disaster.
* * *
Normally, this was the sort of thing he’d send Darth Maul to handle, but Lord Sidious sensed that it would be better for him to attend to both stages of this personally.
The situation, was after all, unexpected, and required a lighter touch then Darth Maul was capable of. While simply killing the Troydarian and kidnapping Anakin’s mother would be easier, such an action didn’t really mess well with his plans for young Skywalker.
Sidious looked at the entrance to the shop that Anakin had previously worked in, and despite it’s exterior, found himself pleased by it. If it’s condition, compared even to the rest of Tattooine, was anything to go by, Anakin was not used to comfort by any stretch of the word, and corrupting him with luxury and power would be rather easy. Annoying really, but Sidious wasn’t a Sith Lord for the challenge. Well, not entirely for the challenge anyway.
Sidious entered the establishment and wrinkled his nose at the smell. Very metallic, and very filthy.
“Ah, a customer, can I help you?”
A quick glance at the Troydarian, and Sidious decided he didn’t want to bother with banter. He wanted this over and done with as swiftly as possible. He had far more important things to deal with then this.
Plus, his nose was protesting from the smell as hard as his eyes were from the appearance of the shop and it’s keeper.
“You name is Watoo, isn’t it? I understand you lost a great deal of money gambling recently on the Pontha Eve races.”
The Troydarian took an involuntary ‘step’ backwards. “Who are you? Whoever you work for, they’ll get their money.”
“Of that, I am sure.” Sidious said, stepping forward. “I’m not here to harm you, Watoo. I’m here to get you out of your debts.”
Sidious felt the Troydarian’s fear turn to greed. “Really? How?”
“I understand you are in possession of a female human slave named Shimi. I wish to purchase her for the value of your gambling debts, plus an additional 10%.”
“That’s a lot of money. Why do you want her so bad?”
Sidious fixed the Troydarian with a look that left absolutely no room for discussion. “That is none of your concern. I am aware of the exact value of your gambling debts. I simply find myself in need of Shimi’s particular.... talents, and I am willing to pay you the amount I offered for her. But I should warn you. I am perfectly willing to purchase your debts from your creditors, and then call them all in, at once. I believe that would be considerably more then your total assets, counting the slave. I understand the Hutts do not look favorably on gamblers that can’t cover their debts.”
Watoo caught Sidious’s implied threat. “Do business with me the way I want, without questions, or else we’ll do things the Hutt way.” If Watoo didn’t co-operate, and his apparent customer was able to go through with his claims, Watoo would lose everything, including his life, in very short order, and Shimi would be his anyway. This man would win, and Watoo would lose.
And Watoo hated losing.
“Fine. I was considering selling her anyway” Watoo said. “How do you wish to handle this?”
Sidious smiled. “I’ll provide you with the landing port of my ship. Have Shimi and her belongings their in 24 hours, slave chip removed. But, be warned, should you attempt a betrayal of any kind, I’ll withdraw my offer and seek our your creditors, immediately.”
“Sure, sure” Watoo said quickly. “Just have my money ready.”
“On more thing” Sidious said, “I want her droid as well.”
Watoo sighed. “Fine. What landing bay are you in?”
* * *
Looking up at the ship, Shimi found herself very worried. All Watoo had told her is that she’d been sold to a man that wanted her specifically for some reason. And it wasn’t Qui Jon Jin, or another Jedi. He’d spoken of her ‘talents.’
Shimi looked at Watoo with some disgust. Had the little vermin sold her as a sex slave?
“Mistress Shimi?” the droid, C-3P0, asked. “Are we getting on that ship?”
“I think so Threepio.” Shimi replied, still amazed the droid was standing. Without coverings, it was amazing he didn’t take more damage from the local weather. Perhaps it was a testament to the parts Anakin had used.
Without preamble, the entrance ramp to the ship lowered, and a small droid floated out, carrying a parcel attached to it.
“Your money” the droid said simply, lowing to the ground and releasing the package. “The woman, droid and other cargo are to board the ship immediately.”
“Well, I guess this is good-bye Shimi” Watoo said with a laugh. “I’ll see you around.” Watoo turned to the few pit droids he owned for work around the shop. They hadn’t been used for several years, but Anakin had kept them in good repair. “Okay, come on, grab it already!”
With a feeling of trepidation, Shimi, backpack slung over her shoulders, followed the messenger droid up the ramp, followed by C-3PO.
“This way” the droid said in it’s genderless, monotone voice.
Shimi followed, not putting her pack down. She could feel her dread growing as the ramp closed, and the ship began to climb. It was almost as if there was some great evil about this ship.
“The woman is to enter the bridge” the droid said, then it looked at Threepio. “You are to remain here.”
“Do as he says Threepio” Shimi said, butting her bag down. She straightened her clothes, and entered the bridge.
“I’m Shimi” she said, stepping in. “I believe you paid for me?”
“Indeed I did, but not only for myself. Someone else here wanted you, and very badly. My co-pilot in fact.”
Shimi didn’t recognize the voice, but she did recognize the co-pilot, as the seat turned and he erupted out of it and into her arms.
“Anakin!” Shimi said, nearly falling over with surprise. “What are you doing here?”
"Saving you!" Anakin said. "My new father helped me"
"Father? I don't understand."
The man in the pilot seat turned. He was an older man, with an aura of kindness, if authority, around him. Quite the opposite of the dreadful feelings she’d had while entering the ship.
"Allow me to introduce myself my dear. I'm Supreme Chancellor Palpatine of the Republic, and I've freed you from slavery, and adopted your son."
“But I thought, Anakin was going to become a Jedi…” Shimi sat down in a chair. "This is going to be a long story, isn't it?"
* * *
Shimi rolled over in bed, unable to believe her families good fortune.
They were free! Anakin, her little miracle, was free. He'd been adopted by the most powerful man in the galaxy. The entire galaxy was literally before him now. He could become anything he wanted!
Including, perhaps, one day, a Jedi Knight.
Shimi couldn't help by smile. Anakin had promised to return to Tattooine one day and carry out his dream of freeing the slaves. Maybe now, he actually could. After a few days, he was already of to a good start.
"Do not count your luck so easily or quickly, Shimi Skywalker. I brought you here not out of kindness, but for a purpose."
Shimi turned over in bed. She hadn't heard the door open.
Palpatine stood in the door, but he was wearing a cloak that somewhat concealed his features. There was something, menacing about him, as there had been about his ship.
"You bore the future of the Sith in your womb. Now you will help me bring it to proper maturity."
Darth Sidious stepped into the room, the door closing behind him. A device activated.
Had the device not been active, someone would have heard Shimi scream.
(Edit): End of Chapter 1