Chapter Two: Lies of the Shadow
Thousands gathered in the streets near what was to be the site of the Imperial Palace. During Palpatine's reign several influential senators favorable to the Chancellor had managed to piggyback legislation to accompany the security acts. That legislation authorized the rebuilding of the official Chancellor’s Residence, which last stood hundreds of years before the Sith Wars, and the construction had begun not too long before the Battle of Coruscant. The aerial battle between Republic and Separatist fighters had ravaged the building, making it unfit for work to continue. The building had to be demolished, and it was to be rebuilt as the Imperial Palace. In a sense, it represented the tearing town of the Old Republic, making way for the New Order that would lead the galaxy.
The Emperor would be present to commemorate this occasion, but the real reason for the vast turnout was the anticipated appearance of Anakin Skywalker, hero of the Clone Wars and arguably the most famous person in the entire galaxy. Even the isolated worlds in the outer rim knew of his exploits, thanks in part to the renamed COMPNOR organization. In the wake of the slaughter at the Jedi Temple, COMPNOR had worked feverishly to seize control of every piece of information, and manage every potential outlet for that information. What in reality had been the brutal massacre of Jedi led by one of their own had now become a heroic counterattack against the Jedi Rebellion, instigated by Mace Windu's assassination attempt on Palpatine. There were plenty across the galaxy, especially those who had known Jedi that would be hard pressed to accept that story as fact but there were many more who had accepted the Imperial presentation, some eagerly and some begrudgingly. The fact that Anakin Skywalker had led the attack gave it legitimacy; Jedi did not turn against each other without reason.
Upon returning to Coruscant, Anakin had made it his first order of business to ensure Padme’s health at the newly christened Emperor Palpatine Medical Center, so that both she and the children would be safe. That had come as a complete surprise to him, discovering that Padme was pregnant with twins was entirely unexpected, although not as unexpected as the pregnancy itself.
Thanks to Palpatine's medical capsule Padme had been stabilized. The pregnancy however was drawing rapidly towards its end; sooner or later even the stabilizing equipment would be unable to delay the birth of the twins. When that happened the doctors would have to remove Padme from her sleep and the next step was still in doubt. As soon as she awoke she would be close to death, and her weakened state put anesthesia out of the question. Anakin was a Sith now, but although he was able to embrace pain he could not bear to see it inflicted on Padme, and he expressed his concerns to each and every doctor attending her personally. The unspoken truth being that the doctors would share her fate.
In front of an enormous audience numbering in the thousands Palpatine took the pulpit, behind him stood the man the crowds had been so eager to see. In one of his few public appearances since defeating the Jedi Rebellion, Anakin Skywalker, known in secret to his master as Darth Vader, received a rousing ovation from the crowd. Not only did he have his fame, but an outpouring of support for the incapacitated Senator Amidala, nearly killed by a jealous Obi Wan Kenobi, had venerated him further among the masses. Where Palpatine was the voice of the Empire, Anakin Skywalker had become its face, and the citizens would have it no other way.
In the time since the end of the clone wars had passed, the public had become gradually aware of the connection between Anakin and Amidala as well. Reports had begun circulating that it was Padme herself that convinced Skywalker to abandon the Jedi Order and remain loyal to the government. Other reports suggested that Palpatine himself introduced them. Several widely discredited fringe reporters had written of their secret wedding on Naboo shortly after the battle of Geonosis, but this went ignored largely because most believed that such a thing could not be kept secret.
The crowds were teeming and growing anxious but order was being maintained thanks to the white armored troopers standing guard all over the plaza. The Grand Army of the Republic, now the Imperial Armed Forces, had replaced the Jedi as the guardians of order and stability in the galaxy. To embody this, Palpatine had chosen a new icon to represent the government. He redesigned the Jedi symbol, removing two of the spokes of the Jedi Emblem, removing the spokes representing the ancient Bendu ideals of serenity and pacifism. In the Empire, there would be no room for pacifism, for that is what led to the war with the CIS, and there would be no room for serenity. Passion was the key to Palpatine's rise to power. The fervor he could generate in the name of order, justice, and security was unmatched by any politician before him.
"Citizens of the Empire, let us take but a brief moment, to honor the sacrifices made by our armed forces. As we celebrate the end of war and as our forces return to the Core Worlds following the Outer Rim sieges. Let us remember that upon their sacrifices we are able to build a bridge to the future that will take the Empire further than the Republic has ever been!"
The crowed roared with its approval as Palpatine began reiterating a lot of the same rhetoric that had accompanied his career. Of the thousands of people in attendance, few of them were not straining their voices. One of them was Bail Organa, whose mind was occupied with events back home.
On Alderaan, a team of accomplished surgeons worked feverishly to rebuild a fallen Jedi master. At least one of them who had examined Obi Wan prior to surgery thought it was joke and asked why he had been summoned to operate on a cadaver. But there was a spark of life within him, and it would be all they would have to work with.
The limbs would be simple enough; cybernetic limbs had come a long way, ironically thanks in part due to advances in droid advancements made by the Techno Union and Trade Federation prior to the war. While Obi Wan would never again be as mobile as he was before he would have complete control of his new attachments. The damage to his internal organs and skin however was horrifying. His organs appeared charred as overcooked meat, their color consumed by the darkness of severe burns. His weak heart pumped slowly, and what blood that did flow was as oxygen starved as the void of space. His lungs were so fragile that they had largely turned to ash. But his brain still lived, and amazingly had suffered little damage; his face was recognizable through the collection of burns and gashes now accumulated.
The doctors had agreed that the only way to save Obi Wan's life would be a very radical and extensive operation that would place nearly every vital function of Obi Wan’s body under mechanical control, and exchange nearly two thirds of his body for cybernetics. Such operations were considered abhorrent by most people and unethical in the medical community. But Bail Organa had stressed that Obi Wan had to survive at any cost, and at any price. When Yoda had been informed the Jedi Master was visibly upset.
"The same science used, to create General Grievous, it was." He had said.
Bail had solemnly bowed his head. "I wish there were another way Master, but
Grievous was an abomination through his actions, not because he was a cyborg." Of course Bail knew there was nothing he could say that would convince Yoda that this was an entirely good idea. The reverence for life held by a 900 year old Jedi
Master did not coexist easily with the artificial life of high technology.
The operation had been in its final hours and there had been no serious complications, save for technicians struggling to program the central computer that would ultimately govern Obi Wan's vital functions. He would no longer eat, oxygen would be cycled through super medicating filters, his speech would have to come from a vocabulator, and his voice would never again have that gentle comforting tone that had endeared him to many.
There were a few improvements, optical imagery and audio-sensitive equipment suitable for the HUD of an elite clone trooper was integrated into his life support unit, essentially a suit of armor that protected him from the harsh reality of his condition. To soften the appearance, Organa's own tailors had begun crafting accessories made from bantha leather at the behest of the doctors, gloves that could be form fitted to resemble human hands, and armor-weave robes that would soften the appearance of the mechanical visage and provide some protection. Only the main life support panel would be entirely visible, as well as the expressionless mask. A skull conforming helmet with the wide eyes and breathing regulator composing the face would now be Obi Wan's image.
Yoda could not bear to watch the proceedings, electing instead to meditate in the
Force in a lounge nearby. Despite his reservations about the operation he could feel Obi Wan's connection to the Force strengthen, and as his new organs were installed and the remainder of his body stabilized Yoda felt the tether of the Force drift away from Obi-Wan as it was no longer needed. But the momentary relief for his friend allowed Yoda's mind to fill with memories, many of them pleasant, many of them bitter. Ever since his defeat something inside of him had been changed and he could not deny it. He could be of no help to his old friend, and he knew that he could not properly be able to cope with seeing Obi-Wan as a machine. It was part of the same prejudice that had led him to denounce Jedi Master Aquinos and his inorganic Iron Knights prior to the war.
As soon as this operation was over, Yoda would have to retreat and find sanctuary. As he pondered his exile a vision came before him in his mind, showing him a place of refuge. Yoda began picturing a solitary existence in this place, the swamp world of Dagobah. The isolation would allow him to clear his mind once again so that he would be able to thwart the Sith and bring light to the darkness. He had known this place for many years, and its location was known to few people.
Yoda’s vision began to change however as the vision reshaped itself, the dense swamps and the thick fog of the world was replaced with white sands and a pair of suns that illuminated the world while roasting its surface. On this world events had been set into motion years ago. And the voice continued to call out to Yoda, telling him that there was much to be learned. The voice belonged to Qui Gon Jinn. Now a part of the Force, yet maintaining his identity, Qui Gon insisted that the desert world would play a part in the events to come.
Yoda opened his eyes, and made his decision. As soon as Obi-Wan was out of surgery and Bail Organa returned from Coruscant he would depart, and go into hiding on Tatooine.
Within a small room, recently refurbished, stood two men. Both of them happened to be Dark Lords of the Sith, the only two in existence. Within the Emperor's chambers at 500 Imperia, Anakin and Palpatine were able to speak privately again as Vader and Sidious. For the first time since Anakin had made his decision and severed the hand of Mace Windu, he and his master could take time away from prying eyes, and discuss things as Sith.
"You have gained a tremendous following as of late my apprentice. The entire galaxy praises you; even your former enemies have no choice but to acknowledge your abilities."
"Such things do not concern me Master." Vader said, his gaze fixed on the Jedi Temple, which still smoldered over the city’s horizon.
"So it would seem." Sidious noted his apprentice’s fixation.
"With your permission my lord, I wish to enter the temple, and have access to the holocrons kept sealed away by the Jedi Council.”
Vader had been aching to have access to those holocrons the minute he had been nominated to the Jedi Council, brief as his tenure there was. He made no effort to hide his desires now though. While Sidious was more than a slight bit irritated at his apprentice's obvious expectation to have his request granted, he was pleased that he still sought deference to his master. No longer was he hiding his desires either, he was accepting the ways of the Sith quicker than expected.
"You have leave to do so Lord Vader, but I will have need for you again shortly."
Vader bowed in respect and exited the office where he had made his fateful decision, once again becoming Anakin Skywalker as he left. He finally had the chance to search the holocrons, and what little remained of the Jedi archives, in order to discover the way to save his dying wife. Sidious however was not quite ready to resume the persona of Palpatine quite yet though. There was business that needed to be attended to while there was time to spare. He walked as a shadow to a secret elevator not unlike the one leading to his former sanctuary in the works, although this one led much deeper and had required a far greater effort in order to properly conceal. Down the turbolift he went, until it stopped some ten minutes and several hundred meters later to a bottom floor in the deepest levels of Coruscant, in the place where he had murdered Darth Plagueis, in the place where he had been raised. The dwelling of his youth now served as a vault for his darkest secrets, one more critical to the grand design than even the secret of his dual identity.
He entered a sparse wide room of the small complex and gave his crooked smile.
Before him, chained to a table and bleeding, lay a man in tattered brown and tan robes. The man, tried to spit a curse at Palpatine, but his dry mouth was unable to muster the words.
"Greetings Master Dyas, still defiant to the end I see. If only your friends above could see you now.” Sidious paused as he circled the imprisoned Jedi with a deliberate slowness.
“Then again even I am surprised that you were able to outlive them all. Even your friend Dooku, although you and I both knew he wouldn't last much longer hmmm?"
Sifo Dyas struggled against his bonds, trying to summon the Force, but each desperate attempt to reach out with his feelings and give into the force failed.
"You can end all of this you know, if you reveal to me the knowledge I require."
Sifo Dyas wheezed a dry hacking cough as he looked to his captor. Speaking with his eyes, giving him the only answer he was capable of.
"A pity really," remarked Sidious, "I suppose then you should know that there is nobody left to save you now. As of but a few days ago the Jedi were wiped out, destroyed by the Clone Army that YOU ordered."
At first he did not, could not, believe what Sidious was saying was the truth. But in the years of his captivity he had learned that Sidious was a deceiver, but not a liar. Sidious used the truth as his weapon, and a powerful weapon truth was in the hands of the greatest manipulator in the galaxy. The grief in Sifo Dyas' heart was like a starship crashing into him.
Many years ago, shortly after the funeral of Qui Gon Jinn, Sifo Dyas had sensed the coming of a great conflict. He knew that nothing would stop the greed of entities like the Trade Federation, and that one day War would be the only answer for the Republic. However there was no way the Jedi Council would listen to his actions, and there was no way that one man alone, even a Jedi Master, could raise an army of the size necessary to defend the Republic when the time came. A few thousand Jedi would be no chance for a nearly limitless supply of battle droids.
He had traveled to Kamino, keeping his movements secret. He had placed the Order for the Clone Army in secret, using both the Force and his incredible guile to ensure secrecy. The Kaminoans had only requested a template for the clone and payment in advance. Beyond the order for an Army of Soldiers though, he had also placed a smaller order of his own accord, a clone of himself, which would be the demonstration as to the effectiveness of the process.
Sifo Dyas though had another idea in mind for this clone, an idea that if successful would allow him to further delve into the mystery of the Sith behind the invasion of Naboo, for Sifo Dyas had a special talent with the Force. He could transfer his consciousness into a new vessel, leaving a comatose shell behind. He had practiced on several non-sentient creatures at great risk and in secret, and eventually he had practiced on sentients as well. His training occurred down in the lower area of Coruscant, known as "The Works". Until one day he was prepared for the test. His clone prepared by the Kaminoans and all traces of the encounter forgotten via a trick of the Force, he made the transfer into his new body. The mindless clone, sequestered away across the galaxy, lay in wait. Sifo Dyas released his luminous being from himself, and traveled the vast distance along currents of the Force, finally arriving into his new host.
The experiment was a resounding success. Sifo Dyas was now free to investigate the Sith at his discretion, should his life become in danger he could now escape to his secondary body on Coruscant, and return to the sanctuary of the Jedi Temple.
But the Sith, had came for him sooner than expected, just as they came for Qui Gon on Naboo. When Sifo Dyas had first anticipated the assassin hunting him he had expected another being clad in the garb of a shadow, acting as silent killer. What he had encountered instead was his old friend, Count Dooku. They had battled and it was never even close. Dooku had him outclassed in every way. In the moment before his death, as Dooku gloated over him and raised his saber, Sifo Dyas had escaped through the Force, making his way safely to Coruscant.
But when he returned to his body, a surprise lay in wait. A menacing being of smaller stature but greater power than Dooku waited for him at the abandoned complex far below Galactic city's surface.
The being referred to himself as Sidious, utterly crushed Sifo Dyas. It was in a far different way though, instead of the lightsaber, Sidious had burned him badly with Force lightning, and then used the Force to break his bones. Sifo Dyas, giving in to his fear attempted to escape, but in his absence from Coruscant the shroud of the Dark side grew darker, and wider. No longer was he able to flee from his body.
That was the day that he had been imprisoned. The Dark Lord Sidious had discovered his great power. Using Dooku as a proxy, he forced Sifo Dyas' hand into what amounted to be a masterful trap. At first he was imprisoned with the help of a Sith torture mask that prevented him from concentrating enough to use the Force, however, after several days of unimaginable pain Sidious had finally removed the mask, revealing Sifo Dyas’ broken and battered face. Sidious then used an ancient technique once used by both the Jedi and Sith to disconnect powerful prisoners from the Force. That had not only ensured Sifo Dyas’ indefinite imprisonment, but added to his great despair.
Sifo Dyas had been promised that he would have the Force returned to him, if he would reveal the secret of consciousness transference he had mastered. And for almost ten years Dyas had gone without breaking, despite minimal sustenance and long periods of isolation in this underground dungeon. He knew in his heart that there was no worse torture than a Sith with the key to immortality. Sidious however, had refused to allow him to die, using knowledge stolen from his mentor Darth Plagueis, Sidious had prolonged Sifo Dyas life along with his suffering.
The plan to save the Republic had backfired. The Empire of the Sith was built upon the rubble of the Jedi's Republic. There was nothing left for him now, and he wanted desperately to touch the Force again. Even the strongest tree eventually broke under the strongest wind. Sidious cackled as the Jedi's spirit broke.
"Good, Good, I see you have finally come to your senses."
But Sifo Dyas was not without a last resort plan of his own, Palpatine's abilities were forcing his body to continue working, but in his many years of study into the Force. Sifo Dyas had learned that there was another, more permanent way to separate his essence from his body. Sidious watched on powerless to do anything as the physical form of Sifo Dyas disappeared, becoming one with the Force.
Angered, Sidious used the Force to crush the table that Sifo Dyas had laid upon. The power he desired continued to elude him, but not lost. In his position as Supreme Chancellor, and from information gained from Darth Tyrannus, Sidious knew that Sifo Dyas had worked closely with the Jedi Master Ashka Boda, who might still posess the secrets he needed.
But that hunt would have to wait. The Empire was still in its infancy, and there was still a great deal of consolidation to be done. However, the time when Sidious could exert with will with unlimited impunity was soon arriving, and the Sith Lord eagerly awaited that day.
Eager to return to his work above as Emperor of the Galaxy, Sidious decided it was time for his apprentice to have the knowledge he so desperately sought. Knowledge that wouldn’t come from the false holocrons in the Jedi Temple, but from the ways of the Sith.
"If it's true that our species is alone in the universe, then I'd have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little."
-George Carlin (1937-2008)
"Have some of you Americans actually seen Football? Of course there are 0-0 draws but that doesn't make them any less exciting."
-Dr Roberts, with quite possibly the dumbest thing ever said in 10 years of SDNet.
Last edited by Darth Fanboy on 2008-12-28 04:20am, edited 2 times in total.