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Star Trek/Star Wars – Galaxy at War: Part Thirty-Nine Revenge of the Sith Part IV Changing of the Guard
Star Trek Dimension – September 2735 C.E.
A Rogue Planet deep in the Typhon Expanse Beta Quadrant, dawn
In silence Darth Vader watched flames consume the body of his beloved Imera. He had constructed her funeral pry himself using what scant wood could be found on this rocky desolate planet. Against Sidious' wishes, and loud protests from Grievous (as if his opinion counted) Vader insisted that he return to give Imera a proper send off. She deserved that much. Other than Sidious who stood to his right head bowed slightly Vader was alone. Vader's cape flapped in the same cold wind which ruffled Sidious' robes and caused the fire to dance like some mad beast while it consumed Imera's body leaving behind only ashes. Vader collected a handful of these ashes he placed them in a pouch which he then clipped to his belt.
"I'm sorry, son. She was, unique," Darth Sidious said in an extremely rare show of sympathy.
"Leave me," Vader said not using the moniker 'master' nor looking away from the raging fire. Sidious would let Vader's flippancy pass unpunished, this time. "I want to be alone."
"Very well," Sidious said. "I expect you back aboard the Malevolence within half an hour. We have much to do before we depart this galaxy. Signal the ship when you are ready. I'll have you beamed up."
Vader nodded but said nothing. Sidious disappeared a second later in a wash of purple energy. Vader was then truly alone.
Vader felt dead inside. While his rage remained, and had, in fact, grown stronger if anything, it was no longer the blast furnace it had once been. If Sidious was a black hole of the Dark Side an invisible swirling maelstrom that bent everything to its will. Vader had become like a pulsating neutron star the light given off by which produced no warmth. Only a cold energy that caused whatever it touched to wither and die. Hatred was all Vader had left. Hatred for the Jedi. Hatred for the Federation. Hatred for the Republic. Hatred for his double. Hatred for Padme his ex-wife. Hatred for his old padawan (he had reviewed recordings taken from the body sensors of the dead Jem'Hadar that showed Imera's fate). Hatred for his former friends and allies. But most of all hatred for himself; his despicable weakness, his inability to protect himself or more importantly Imera from harm. His current situation reminded Vader of his mother's equally tragic death years before.
"I wasn't strong enough to save you, mom. I wasn't strong enough. But, I promise. I won't fail again." Teenage Anakin vowed as he knelt before his mother's freshly dug grave in the glaring light of the twin suns of Tatooine.
Vader clasped and unclasped his gloved hands in anger. He had broken his promise. He failed again to save someone he cared deeply about.
Vader knew there was only one solution, death. The man he was must die. He must forget his past erase it completely from his mind, from his soul. Darth Vader, a new Darth Vader, a stronger Darth Vader, the true Vader would rise from the ashes of utter defeat reborn. He would become a blade of the Dark Side tempered by the heat of loss. Illoan/Anakin Skywalker was was dead (and he deserved to be) long live Darth Vader!
"One to beam up," Vader spoke into the small communication device he plucked from his belt.
Malevolence in Hyperspace, one day later
"Are you certain, master?" Vader asked. In his hands was Sidious' red lightsabers. Vader found he had to constantly adjust his grip so the hilt would not slip from his large hands.
"Do it, my apprentice," Sidious hissed who stood only two feet away.
"As you wish, my master," Vader said rising the lightsaber in front of him.
Sidious fired the most intense surge of force lightning Vader had yet witnessed. As he was instructed Vader used the lightsaber to deflect the force lightning directly back on Sidious. After more than three minutes of this, a smoking Sidious lowered his hands. Force lightning ceased to flow in a loop between Sidious and Vader. Sidious stumbled back about a dozen feet and fell to the floor. Vader deactivated the lightsaber, clipped it to his belt and rushed to help Sidious up.
"Phase two of my plan is complete, Lord Vader," Sidious said grinning. His face was marred by deep ridges. His skin had turned a sickly shade of grey-white, including that of his hands. More than anything else the old Sith Lord now resembled a discolored humanoid raisin. "Phase three awaits our attention."
Sidious' plan for achieving ultimate uncontested supremacy of first their home galaxy and followed by this galaxy was as devious as it was intricate. Vader felt pride swell within bis being. This dark genius had chosen him of all Force-sensitive beings to be his partner better yet his eventual successor. Vader was truly honored.
Residence of the Kai on Bajor Alpha Quadrant the following day, night
"This isn't what it looks like!" Kai Winn exclaimed when Sidious and Vader somehow materialized in her private chambers. She instinctively attempted to deny any wrongdoing on her part in spite of the presence of the disgraced Gul Dukat and the former Federation traitor Ro Laren.
"Oh, I'm sure it is," Sidious said.
"Who are you?" Kai Winn asked.
Ready to protect her mistress, Ro Laren's right hand drifted to the hilt of her lightsaber. "I wouldn't do that if I were you," Vader sternly warned.
"There is no need for violence, child. We are all friends here." Sidious said. "Allow me to introduce myself. I am Darth Sidious master of Darth Tyranus the one true ruling Supreme Dark Lord of the Sith. This is my apprentice and heir Darth Vader." Sidious gestured at Vader. "I come before you today with a proposition Darth Hereticious. Yes, I know all your secrets. I require Lord Vader's assistance for a time at my side in my own galaxy. I wish you, Darth Hereticious, to rule the Sith Imperium which we will rename the Sith Dominion in Vader's sted until his return."
"What of Lord Tyranus?" Darth Hereticious asked.
"We'll deal with Tyranus," Vader said.
"Before I accept your generous offer, I have one small question," Hereticious said. "Obviously I'm a Bajoran, not just any Bajoran I'm the spiritual leader of Bajor. How can I possibly hope to maintain control of the Cardassians who make up such a vital part of Sith holdings in my part of this galaxy?"
"An insightful question. Which is where your friend comes in," Sidious said gesturing at Dukat. "He'll rule Cardassian under your strict supervision."
"I am no one's puppet!" Dukat angrily protested.
Dukat grabbed his neck as he began to choke. He was lifted off his feet. Dukat hovered there in the air his legs kicking futilely for purchase. Ro Laren moved to assistance her nominal ally but a warning glare from Hereticious stopped her in her tracks.
"Show proper respect when our master is talking, insignificant insect," Vader said.
"To ensure your future loyalty Dukat given such a display of open defiance I believe a bit of advanced Sith Alchemy is in order," Sidious said.
Sidious removed a vial which contained a roiling purple liquid from his left sleeve. Vader lowered Dukat to the floor where Sidious poured the liquid down his gullet. Vader then force choked Dukat into swallowing every drop of the foul tasting concoction. Dukat noted with fear how it burned going down.
"Release him, Lord Vader," Sidious ordered.
Dukat who had collapsed onto his hands and knees shot a venomous stare at Sidious who merely smiled back at him. Dukat pushed himself to his feet. He charged at Sidious but stopped an inch from making contact with the Sith Lord when Sidious gave him a command to do so. Try as Dukat might he could not attack the twisted human or his towering armored companion. Dukat's body simply would not do as he desired. What was happening?
"How interesting," Hereticious observed.
"My late master Darth Plagueis the wise called this formulation the Jailer of the Dark Side," Sidious explained. "It only works on those who are tainted by great evil and who do not possess a mastery of the Force. Once ingested the person becomes malleable to any command a user strong enough in the Dark Side gives them. The person cannot resist no matter how much they may desire to do so. Dukat is yours to command as you see fit Hereticious. I suspect he'll be an effective figurehead through which Cardassian can be brought to heel. Use him wisely." Sidious paused here for a moment. He let his words sink in. "Do we have a deal? Will you and your apprentice serve me and mine?"
"Eliminate that blithering idiot Tyranus and I'll pledge myself and my apprentice to your cause," Hereticious said.
"Excellent," Sidious said. "Lord Vader, phase three is complete. It's time we pay Lord Tyranus a visit."
Central Command on Cardassia Prime a few hours later, afternoon
Darth Tyranus had just finished putting on an exhibition match in his custom-built arena against a large group of POWs (prisoners of war) before a packed audience made up of various underlings. He had easily killed all the prisoners. Tyranus found such routine display of his martial prowess and force powers helped cement loyalty. Tryranus took a bow as everyone cheered. He so enjoyed being regarded as a living god by the Vorta and Jem'Hadar. This was the life.
"Hello, my wayward apprentice." A sickeningly familiar raspy voice hissed. The crowd gasped in shock.
'No, it can't be. It's impossible.' Tyranus thought. His blood turned to ice water. Slowly he lifted his head up from his bow. Sure enough, a hooded and deeply scarred Sidious stood there with General Grievous on his left and another jet-black cyborg Tyranus had never seen before to his right. 'How had they bypassed the security measures protecting his capital? They shouldn't be standing here yet they were. Why are they standing here? Had they come for him?'
"I see you've made quite a name for yourself. 'God of Gods' what a pretentious title. I think you require a lesson in humility." Sidious said.
"Lord Tyranus by the ancient right of the Sith Order I Darth Sidious current reigning Supreme Dark Lord of the Sith hereby challenge you to face my new apprentice in single combat. The winner will be the rightful ruler of the political entity known as the Sith Imperium the loser will die. Refuse my challenge I'll kill you where you stand." Sidious said his yellows eye narrowing. His hands crackled with grey tinged electricity.
"Master I-," Tyranus said his voice failing him.
Vader took a step forward. "Prove you are that you are worthy to continue leadership, that you are the better warrior. Face me Tyranus, unless of course, you are afraid?"
Tyranus hesitated not sure what to do. He looked around at the faces of his minions. He saw doubt in their eyes. More troubling still he detected their wavering faith through the Force, especially that of the Jem'Hadar and the ever-fickle Vorta. If he did not vanquish this semi-robotic monstrosity their loyalty would be forever lost. He had no choice. He must accept the challenge.
"I fear nothing," Tyranus said activating his curved-hilt lightsaber.
"You will," Vader said activating the new lightsaber he had constructed mere hours ago. Sidious and Grievous retreated to a respectable distance. The crowd cheered from the boxes high above.
With the grace of ballet dancer, Tyranus twirled around Vader who simply stood rooted to one spot. Vader effortlessly deflected each expertly placed thrust of Tyranus' blade but did not bother to counter. Vader seemed bored by the duel.
"I sense much anger in you. Come, try to strike me down." Tyranus taunted during a brief saber lock.
"In due time," Vader replied evenly breaking the lock with a mild shove that nearly toppled Tyranus over.
'He's very strong, I'll give him that much.' Tyranus thought.
For the next few minutes, Tyranus danced around Vader time and again making no headway. Having become frustrated Tyranus directed a quickly paced flurry of strikes against Vader. Tyranus hoped one of his blows would slip underneath Vader's guard. But, this did not happen. Instead, Vader caught the last blow with his own lightsaber which slipped directly under Tyranus' hilt. Vader brought up his blade with great force. Vader's blade sliced cleanly through Tyranus' arms below the wrists literally disarming his foe. Tyranus cried out in shock as much as pain. He fell to his knees. The crowd gasped in disbelief then the arena became ghostly silent. You could have heard a pin drop.
"Good Lord Vader, good," Sidious chuckled. "Now, finish the traitor, do it!"
"Yes, master," Vader said stabbing his blade straight through Tyranus' chest the tip of which emerged out Tryanus' back. Vader held his blade there a moment before he violently pulled it free.
No one in the crowd reacted for a long time. They were stunned by what they had just seen. Their seemingly invincible master had been swiftly dispatched by this fearsome new warrior. What were they to do?
"From this point forward I rule this organization through Lord Vader or his hand-picked representatives." Sidious declared. "If anyone disagrees they die." Sidious let loose a storm of Force Lightning that painfully shocked everyone in the crowd. He then introduced the reinstated Gul Dukat and the masked and hooded Darth Hereticious by her side was the hooded by unmasked Ro Laren.
"I have returned to lead our organization to ultimate victory. My treacherous former assistant Demar and his band of rebels will be brought to justice for their disgraceful behavior." Said Gul Dukat who was back in his old Cardassian military uniform.
"This is Darth Hereticious," Vader said pointing at the masked Sith. "In my absence, you are to follow her orders and those of Gul Dukat without question and anyone they delegate their authority without question. Behold the fate of those who would dare be disloyal."
Without any warning, Sidious whirled around and zapped Grievous with a quick yet powerful burst of force lightning. Grievous was paralyzed by the unexpected attack which had damaged many of his vital electronic components already weakened by Windu's force crush of a week before. He slumped in place unable to move or defend himself. Vader stepped in front of Grievous his crimson lightsaber at the ready.
"Why?" Grievous managed to ask through his static-filled voice in spite of his damaged amplifier.
"Because you can't be trusted, General," Sidious said smiling. "You betrayed Lord Tyranus without a second thought after he personally trained you in lightsaber combat. If you could so easily turn on one who you worked with so closely you could turn on anyone. We'll all be much safer with you gone. Lord Vader, do the honors." In truth, Sidious simply had no further use for Grievous now that the war back home was about to end and he had more servile & lesser overtly dangerous servants here to manage things. Disposing of Grievous when he outlived his usefulness was always part of the plan.
"With pleasure, my master," Vader said. Vader spent the next minute hacking the defenseless General Grievous to pieces. It was a gruesome death one those who witnessed it would never forget.
"Phase four is complete," Sidious said to Vader hours later as they prepared to leave Cardassian Prime. "On to phase five, my apprentice."
Near the Barzan Wormhole Beta Quadrant, two days later
While Senator Bail Organa was disappointed he and his delegation had not had time to meet with any Republican expats (expatriates) part of him was revealed their missing Supreme Chancellor was finally accounted for. Operating in conjunction with USS Voyager the Venator-class Star Destroyer he was traveling on had stumbled upon an Imperium shuttlecraft with two life signs aboard; one was a badly scarred Palpatine the other his apparent rescuer a tight-lipped cyborg of some unknown type. After thanking the crew of Voyager for their help (something Palpatine seemed reluctant to do) the delegation with Palpatine and his mysterious savior in tow returned through the anomaly to their own galaxy. Before anyone could closely question the disfigured Palpatine or his new friend they locked themselves in the private quarters prepared for the Supreme Chancellor by the ever-slimy Sate Pestage, who later joined them behind closed doors. Bail thought the whole thing was exceedingly strange. Still, he was happy to be going home. He hoped the worst was over. Bail would soon learn just how wrong he was.
To Be Continued
Next "Up Revenge of the Sith" reaches its dramatic conclusion with Part V "Rise of the Empire". Following which, things will never be the same. After that "What You Leave Behind" rolls our way.