The Darker Side | Chapter 6 | Death of the Republic
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Jumping ahead to the end of the Clone Wars. Bear with…
For the past three years, Dooku’s political efforts generated countless allies who carried out numerous attacks (both minor and significant) against the Republic, clawing and picking at their forces so as to weaken their resolve and ultimately pressure them to acquiesce to the Grand Plan—the absolute rule of the Galactic Empire. The Senate, bogged down in proceedings and desperate for a way out, would have no choice but to usher in a new era of galactic peace. They would beg me for it.
Grievous wreaked havoc on the Republic throughout the Clone Wars. To my amusement, Grievous kept a collection of lightsabers from the Jedi he slaughtered thanks to the training Tyranus provided him in the art of the lightsaber.
As time went on, my spies informed me that Master Yoda had become suspicious of me. It was about time, really. I mean, three years of war preceded by ten years of preparing for war, masquerading as a humble Senator and then as Supreme Chancellor, and all the while serving galaxy as Master of the Sith. And yet, the galaxy’s citizens consistently put their faith in the pathetic Jedi who could not even sense the Dark Master unraveling the fabric of their existence.
It wasn’t just Yoda though. Those in my office who saw me regularly began to wonder where I went during the day and at night, why I randomly canceled meetings and left the office. As you know, when you see someone every day, you come to learn their patterns and behaviors. And so it was with the staff in my office. Some I could trust, some I could not.
I must admit though, my expectations of people are often too high. I’m chuckling now as I think back to Kenobi and the rest of the Jedi who didn’t sense a change in Anakin’s behavior patterns after he married Padmé. Or maybe they did, and Anakin’s marriage was the giant bantha in the room.
Regardless, I too could sense people wondering about me. Things would happen in the Republic that needed my attention and I couldn’t be located, even though Amedda expertly fielded most of the questions and operational issues. At about this time I decided the Senate would have to go. Though they served me well now, their incessant bumbling would only get in my way and frustrate me. I began laying ground work to give the regional governors direct control so that issues would be dealt with quickly.
One evening after dinner, with delicious Sullustan digestifs in hand, I conferred with Tyranus and we decided it was time to put an end to their relentless rumors and suspicions. We designed a plan to employ the duplicitous and heinous tactic of a good old-fashioned kidnapping. Someone important and powerful in the Republic needed to be kidnapped in order to sway the growing suspicions of the Jedi and a few others in the Senate Buildings. I am of course, talking about kidnapping myself.
The kidnapping of the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic would set the Jedi on a rescue mission and increase the intensity of the Republic’s response to the growing threat of the CIS, especially with the success of such a high-profile mission. Public outrage would flood the media channels and the resulting chaos would help tip the scales of the war to victory for the Republic, but you’ll see exactly what I mean soon enough.
Tyranus and I set a plan in motion that would allow Grievous and his Separatist army to attack the capital planet and kidnap me. The upcoming State of the Republic address on Coruscant would be the perfect high-profile venue for the kidnapping of the Chancellor. Now all we had to do was carry out the act in front of the entire galaxy. (Of course, Grievous did not realize that Palpatine and Darth Sidious were one in the same man.)
And so this is how it happened: Grievous and a droid army attacked the capital buildings and played their part well in the abduction and successfully extricated me from the planet’s surface battle. Along the way, they killed most of my incompetent bodyguards and a few defending Jedi, too. Then they transported me to the CIS flagship, the Invisible Hand. As the battle raged on around us, Grievous bound me to his desk chair in his private suite instead of the usual cramped quarters of a prisoner cell block or the ship’s brig.
I rather enjoyed the grand view of Coruscant from space that my prison chair on the Invisible Hand afforded. I made a note to myself to include such a view when Tarkin and his engineers designed my personal suite on board the Death Star, and again on the second Death Star.
Naturally, the Jedi launched a rescue mission. But seriously? They only sent two? They are far too trusting in their abilities. I’m insulted. Apparently, the Jedi believed that the well-regarded dream team of Kenobi and Skywalker were enough to retrieve me safely. Well, as Dooku was fond of saying, “Twice the pride, double the fall.”
As I observed the destruction around me in the space battle, I sensed Obi Wan and Anakin enter Grievous’ suite. Kenobi pompously greeted me and that’s when I noticed Dooku step quietly into the room. Unbeknownst to the Jedi, Dooku was waiting for them. I told them that they were no match for him because he was a Sith Lord. Obi Wan took the bait and prepared to fight, claiming that, in fact, “Sith Lords are our speciality.” If only he could hear himself talk sometimes. So arrogant.
Count Dooku, my faithful Apprentice, was fully aware of the importance of this duel concerning Anakin’s accelerated path to the Dark Side. I told him to knock Kenobi out of the way and then put up a good, convincing fight that would favor Anakin as the victor. Together then, we could persuade Anakin to join the Dark Side of the Force, with Dooku’s ultimate end as the new commander of a soon-to-be Sith Army.
So as Dooku battled Kenobi and Anakin, I naturally rooted for Anakin. Kenobi fought bravely, but his arrogance was his undoing. Dooku tossed him around like a child’s doll and collapsed some deck plating on him. With Kenobi out of the way, Anakin was free to focus his fear and rage on Dooku without his master holding him back.
Dooku continued to fight with Anakin, putting forth a marvelous display of lightsaber combat knowledge. At first I wasn’t sure if Dooku was actually playing with him or truly struggling against Anakin. I realized it was the latter as eventually Anakin’s impressive skills with a lightsaber swiftly ended the duel. Anakin sliced off both of Tyranus’ hands. I could feel anger surging through Anakin. It fueled a burning desire for revenge. (He was not Maul, but he certainly knew anger.) I laughed ecstatically at Anakin’s success. With Dooku on his knees, and his and Anakin’s lightsabers crossed at his neck, I ordered him to kill him.
You should have seen the look of betrayal on Dooku’s face. He never realized that I would sacrifice him to the Grand Plan. It seems, that over the years, he had forgotten the reality of the Sith: there can be only two. In stunned silence, the Count realized that he had always been expendable—a mere placeholder for my true Apprentice, Anakin. I felt pity for him, but only for a brief moment. I am, after all, not heartless, though he was of little concern to me now. With Dooku’s impending death, Anakin had proved to me that he was now powerful enough to take his place at my side.
Anakin hesitated, mumbling something about murdering a defenseless prisoner in cold blood. I felt his desire for revenge bubble up inside him seconds before he decapitated Count Dooku. As the lifeless corpse fell to the floor, I sensed regret fill Anakin’s soul. I congratulated him on a job well done, but he went off about the Jedi way. I told him that the Jedi way didn’t apply here because Dooku was too dangerous. Besides, it was completely natural for him to want revenge against Dooku because he had taken Anakin’s arm. Then I reminded him about the Sand People—how bad he felt, but how good and right his actions were.
He released me from my bonds and we quickly made our way to the elevator shaft. I so wished that he would have left Kenobi behind, but no, he faithfully returned to his master’s unconscious body and hefted him on to his shoulders. I should have admired his loyalty to his master, but I did not. Again, I implored him to leave Kenobi behind because I didn’t really want to hear his annoying voice any longer. But he refused.
Patience, I reminded myself. Have patience. I’ve waited years for this. After all, what’s a few more days? With Tyranus dead at the hands of Anakin, the (unofficial) training of my new Apprentice begins.
During our harrowing escape, the ship momentarily lost orbital control and its gravity systems failed. We fell down an elevator shaft but escaped with the help of grapple hooks. Thinking we were safe in the ship’s corridors, our escape was thwarted as super battle droids and droidekas surrounded us. The Jedi (Kenobi had regained consciousness by then) reluctantly surrendered and the droids escorted us to the command bridge where we met Grievous. I sensed a plan within the Jedi. Our capture was too easy. I was a bit surprised to discover that the entire ship was run by droids. I didn’t see any other organic life forms around us. A droid army can never be allowed to exist again.
As I suspected, the Jedi had a few tricks up their sleeves and a battle for control of the bridge ensued. I stepped out the way so they could fight. Once they captured the bridge and took control of the Invisible Hand, they freed me and almost captured Grievous. The fool decompressed the bridge and escaped into space. He almost killed us all! For the first time in years, I feared for my life. I thought we would be sucked into the vacuum of space. Fortunately, the blast shield quickly snapped into position and the bridge pressurized.
On a side note, the magnaguards and their electrostaffs impressed me. It made me think of the royal guard who watched over me on Coruscant, several of whom had died during my kidnapping. I will have to sort through the ranks and weed out the weaker ones in order to move forward. I’m also thinking that while regal, the current ceremonial navy blue uniform of the Senate guards is so dull. I need something much more striking and intimidating…something that visually invokes a sense of power…something…red.
Anyway, seconds later, the ship broke in half. I experienced quite the dramatic afternoon, let me tell you! For the second time that day, and in only a few moments, I feared for my life. I was, however, very grateful that Anakin had assumed command and sat in the pilot’s seat to fly the crippled starship. I knew it would be a rough ride, but I didn’t expect us to crash-land on Coruscant. This I had not foreseen. The white and blue astromech called R2-D2 kept chirping status updates to Anakin, who apparently could understand him. For a brief moment, I actually thought I sensed the Force flowing through the droid.
The emergency landing strip appeared in front of us as fire ships flew alongside us extinguished the flames. Much debris rained down on Coruscant from space. I anticipated the clean-up costs would be staggering, so thank goodness for droid labor. I admit I felt nervous about safely stopping our chunk of starship, especially when we took out the landing strip’s control tower. However, Anakin’s exquisite piloting skills kept us alive as we slid to a stop at the end of the landing strip.
A personnel transport arrived on-scene and after assuring the medical droids and staff we were all right, security entered the hull and began neutralizing the remaining battle droids who survived. When the transport took us back to the Senate buildings, a number of happy (and suck-up) Senators greeted me welcomed me back. Obi Wan held back from the politicians and Anakin secretly met up with his wife. Young love. So beautiful…and so terribly annoying. It’s a good thing he doesn’t realize she had become, like him, a piece on the board of a larger game that must be played out.
By successfully hiding his illicit relationship with Padmé, Anakin unwittingly displayed his adeptness at deception to me and the Jedi. I really don’t think the Jedi suspected anything, and it’s been three years. He has learned well.
During evening meditations that day, I sensed the Force teeming with an anticipation I have rarely felt before. I sense it won’t be long before he betrays the Jedi and becomes a Sith. Speaking of Anakin becoming a Dark Lord of the Sith and my new Apprentice, I need a name for him. Darth…something. Something dark, something evil, something that means a malevolent, dominating, and threatening force. Darth Prowse? Darth Anders? No, doesn’t sound menacing enough. It will come to me when the moment is right. The Dark Side will not fail me.
It never has.
SETTLE DOWN, GRIEVOUS
Since the end of the war approached, I needed to arrange all the pieces on the board to accomplish victory. With Tyranus dead, I took direct control of the now leaderless CIS (hidden on Utapau).
During one of our calls Grievous whined about the loss of Count Dooku, claiming that none could match his prowess or power. While Anakin might not have been the political savant Dooku was, Anakin’s leadership would fall more in line with the enforcer that I needed him to be. So, I coddled Grievous and explained that Dooku’s necessary death would benefit us all for soon I would have a new Apprentice at my side, one far younger and more powerful.
Grievous accepted my answer and seemed temporarily satisfied. I could sense that his lack of knowledge about my plan—something he was used to having with Dooku—left him unsettled. I did not let this concern me. In truth, my spirit trembles with anticipation for Anakin, who is more powerful than Dooku could have ever hoped to become. Grievous will see this soon enough.
I instructed Grievous to send the Separatist/CIS governing body (a lame one, at that), including Viceroy Nute Gunray, to the Mustafar system for safe keeping, and ultimately, to commit them to their final act in service to the Grand Plan.
Later that night I reached out across Coruscant to Anakin with the Force. I sensed his mind was unusually troubled again. He was having a nightmare. Anakin’s recurring nightmares proved to be quite useful to me. As I studied his mind and the things that tormented him, I infused, no plagued, his dreams with nightmares full of fear and suffering at the notion that Padmé’s would soon be ravaged by pain, hurt, and that she would die in childbirth. He thought he was sensing the future. While I cannot deny his ability to foresee things with the Force, all I had to do was nudge the Force within him to help him see what inevitably would befall his bride.
As time passed, I sensed the Senate would soon grant me more executive powers. I wasn’t sure what why, but I knew the stakes would be high. I summoned Anakin to my office. It was good to see him again. With the Jedi so busy dealing with the CIS, I didn’t see him as often. I truly enjoyed seeing Anakin’s journey toward the Dark Side grow more complete as each day passed. The Force swirled around him with such power these days, as if it converged on him, knowing and preparing him for his new role as my Apprentice.
Today however, it was time to take yet another step forward with the Grand Plan. I was so close to fulfilling what so many Sith (Bane, Gravid, Tenebrous, Plagueis, Dooku) had patiently worked for. The Force confirmed that I would be the one to achieve complete success.
I chose to play the wounded savior card with Anakin. I shared with him that I was deeply troubled and I had a very important task that I could entrust only to him. With his curiosity peaked, I told him that I would now depend on him to be the eyes, ears, and voice of the Republic. Humbled by my (grandiose) request, I then appointed him as my personal representative on the Jedi Council. I knew full well that this would force (no pun intended) the Jedi Council’s hand into granting him a position of leadership within the Order and a promotion to the rank of Jedi Master with the duties and privileges incumbent of the role. I suspected knew that this would fuel his easily upset ambitions.
Naturally, I also knew that Master Yoda would be furious because the Supreme Chancellor was meddling (again) in the affairs of the Jedi Council. They would not easily or willingly accept that I gave them a direct order about how the Council should be run and who should be on it.
As it turned out, they were quite upset with me. Though they did admit Anakin to the Council per my request, in their arrogance they refused to promote him to the rank of Jedi Master. I had suspected that would be the case. They Jedi are too predictable sometimes. Instead of just going along with the plan, they had to put a stake in the ground and politely remind me of my place.
You must understand that the sole purpose of this elaborate ruse was to have the Jedi Counsil frustrate Anakin even more so that he could be more engaged with his emotions. All I had to do was continue sowing seeds of distrust within him and trust the Jedi would do the rest for me. And in reverse, my appointment of Anakin would cause the Jedi to question everything about me. More confusion. More doubt. Why do all the hard work, when you can have your enemies do it for you, am I right?
All too easy.
A NIGHT AT THE OPERA
And now, dear citizen, the circle is complete. At last, we may return to a piece of the story that I alluded to in my entry titled Squid Lake, the moment when I deliberately brought Anakin another step closer to the Dark Side: when I told him about the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise.
One night, along with members of my Inner Circle, I enjoyed once more the widely acclaimed Mon Calamari opera Squid Lake. (You might assume correctly that Squid Lake is my favorite opera.) I (as Palpatine) had invited Anakin to join me in my private box because I had received exciting news I wished to share with him. Our Clone Intelligence units had found General Grievous in the Utapau system. When Anakin’s excitement about the end of the war got the best of him, I worked him good. I told him that I would find no confidence in the Jedi Council’s wisdom if they didn’t select him for the assignment of capturing Grievous because he was a clearly their most talented and best choice, especially after achieving victory over Count Dooku.
I carried on the melodrama, sharing with Anakin that as Chancellor I could no longer rely on the Jedi Council because I suspected they wanted control of the Republic and were planning to betray me. When he objected, I told him to search his feelings because I knew that he was already aware of this reality. Anakin hesitated, but then quietly revealed the Jedi didn’t trust me. I nodded and reinforced that they didn’t trust me, the Senate, the Republic, or democracy, for that matter.
Anakin confessed that his trust in the Jedi Council had been recently shaken. When I asked why, he paused. I probed his mind and found my answer. Relying on the closeness of our friendship, I innocently asked if the Council had asked him to do something he didn’t want to do. I could feel the turmoil within him. I knew those accursed Jedi had asked Anakin spy on me. I loved it! Pandering to his friendship and trust in me—when I appointed him as my representative—put him in such an awkward spot once the Jedi asked him to perform counter-intelligence on me.
Seizing the moment, I reminded him of his earlier teachings, that, “All who gain power are afraid to lose it.” The Jedi, I told him, had acquired much power throughout the war and now they were afraid of losing it with the end of the war in sight. He quickly reminded me that the Jedi use their power for good. I do admire his loyalty…it will be an asset to the Sith. Once again he yearned for my wisdom, so I explained that good is a perspective, and that the Sith and the Jedi were in fact similar in many ways, including their quest for greater power. Every objection he had about the content of my counsel I patiently rendered harmless or unimportant. I could sense great confusion and hesitation in his mind. I knew that he was scrambling to understand the smaller pieces of a bigger thing. I had to help him focus on the bigger picture before his confusion became mistrust or doubt. So, I played the next card and told him about the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise.
Naturally, he had never heard the story, as the Jedi are not prone to teaching their young padawans about Sith Legends. I taught Anakin that Darth Plagueis’ knowledge of the Dark Side was so great that he could resurrect the dead and save the ones he loved by influencing the midi-chlorians in their bodies. He could save everyone around him that he loved, but he couldn’t save himself. I took the opportunity to undo years of Jedi training with one simple statement: that the Dark Side of the Force was a pathway to many abilities some, like the Jedi, consider to be unnatural.
Then, playing off his fear of losing Padmé, I sowed more seeds of lust for power and a promise that a wider perspective of the Force would save his precious wife. With childbirth immanent, I had realized that time was short especially if Anakin’s foreknowledge of the future was accurate. He knew he had to act in order to save her. When he asked if it was possible to learn this power of restoring life, I simply said, “Not from a Jedi.” Then I let him mull over it and enjoyed the rest of the opera. I could see his inner struggle as the Dark and Light sides of the Force swirled through him.
I CAN FEEL YOUR ANGER
More nightmares, more distracting thoughts, more deception. When Anakin’s emotions churn it’s so easy to make him feel lost. Nightmares are a Sith Master’s best friend.
The council, of course, dispatched Kenobi to Utapau, as I had foreseen. The Council foolishly believed that Kenobi would have success. I knew that Grievous would dispatch him quickly because Obi Wan’s confidence would be his undoing. That would provide me with ample time alone with Anakin. The time had come to reveal my true nature to him.
Anakin stopped by my office during the day and reported that Kenobi had engaged General Grievous on Utapau. I could sense such tension within Anakin. Clearly my earlier suggestion that he should have been sent to capture Grievous (further discrediting the wisdom of the Jedi Council) troubled him deeply. I used his angst and played off his feelings to help him understand that the Council purposefully excluded him from their deliberations and decisions because they feared him. He shared that he already believed the Jedi chose to hide a great number of truths about the Force from him, so I seized my opportunity. This choice, perhaps, was the riskiest gamble with Anakin and the Grand Plan.
Coming out is often a difficult moment, but when you willingly reveal yourself to be the long-hunted Dark Lord of the Sith, everything hangs in balance. I put off lingering notions and mere suggestion and outright invited him to embrace a larger view of the Force by joining with me so he could learn the Dark Side of the Force—to save his wife from certain death. I love playing off of his emotions because I do it so well.
I let him probe my mind with the Force during this pivotal and risky moment. That’s when he discovered for himself that I was the Dark Lord of the Sith the Jedi searched for. He needed to understand, however, that I was on his side, and as such, I was not a threat to him. He drew his lightsaber to protect himself from the threat the Jedi told him I was. But Anakin had known me for years and I trusted that our long friendship would give him the wisdom to understand that I was not the evil monster the Jedi had painted in his mind.
I encouraged him to claim his life for himself and stop being a pawn of the Jedi Council. As he deliberated, I could feel his anger growing inside him. It made him stronger. I could sense his desire to abandon the Jedi and exact revenge upon them. Clinging one last time to the righteousness of the Jedi Way, he promised to turn me over to the Jedi, and in the process, he would discover for himself the true nature of the Jedi Council’s plans. I reinforced that he was a wise man and once more encouraged him to escape the narrow teachings of the Jedi and embrace the Dark Side and the power the would save his wife, Padmé.
THE JEDI ARE COMING TO TAKE ME AWAY, HOO-HEE-HA-HA
While working late in the evening I received an alert that Kenobi had killed Grievous.
Now, I’m sure, the Jedi will expect me to turn my emergency powers back over to the Senate…
Sorry, I just recovered from a fit of laughter…where was I…
I also believe that Anakin has had the chance to report back to the Jedi Council about my true identity…which means they’re going to pay me a visit. Ah, the Jedi. I welcome the chance to slaughter Jedi any day. It’s about time, too. What I didn’t realize (when the Force rippled—presumably because the Jedi were alerted to my true nature) is that they would leave him alone in the Jedi Temple to wait. I sensed his frustration and impatience so I reached out across the planet’s surface and tormented his heart.
Beyond Anakin, I sensed a new disturbance in the Force, one focused on the Jedi’s demise. But now, I sense the need to stop writing…
The Jedi are coming to take me away.
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