There was a boy who wondered If attachment is such a great evil:
Why should we be so attached to the welfare of others?
Why should we be so attached to the Republic?
Why should we be so attached to the Force?
Why should we be so attached to the concept of "evil" at all?
He never received answers, but he learned well not to ask the questions.
In time, he devised his own answers.
There was a young man who reflected back flawlessly what those who saw him wished to see.
A Jedi saw a perfect, pious Jedi. A civilian saw a charming, humorous everyman. A politician saw an earnest, ambitious admirer. A smuggler saw a brilliant, rough-edged daredevil. A soldier saw a bright-eyed, obedient recruit. And he saw –
A pristine, yawning void.
But emptiness begat hunger.
A man took up his lightsaber, took on apprentices, and took the missions assigned to him by the Council.
The crises he resolved always were settled flawlessly. His apprentices always were the paragons of the Order. Those who worked alongside him always had no bad word to say of him.
But any who observed not just the impact of his immediate actions, but the ripples that spread out from them, might have had cause to wonder.
The crises themselves did not break out again, but ugliness festered in their wake: crime lords bloomed in the power vacuums left by their felled predecessors, and exceeded them in time; charming rebels grew bloated and monstrous as they gorged upon the remains of the regimes they had overthrown; miraculous fixes gradually displayed unforeseeable, hideous side-effects that dwarfed the problem they had once solved. His apprentices prospered, but in the shadows their light was dimmed: some left the heights of the Light for the depths of the Dark, others, while yet Jedi, grew austere, cold, and cruel, and one or two were whispered to have died by their own blades. His peers and allies, meanwhile, seemed to lead subtly tainted lives: some grew corrupt, others jaded, and yet others unchanged in their natures, but perpetually beset by a thousand troubles with seemingly no single cause.
None observed. Or, if any did, none spoke aloud, or took any action.
But had any done so, and dared to ask him why – even had he been attached to honesty, they would not have received an answer.
He did not have one, himself.
Well – that was unsatisfying. He might, out of some whim of sympathy, have struggled to devise one.
He might have said he was bored.
A man in his middle years circled a Sith and the Sith circled him.
The Sith did not matter. It might have been a male Zabrak, every inch of exposed skin tattooed red and black; it might have been a female human, her shaven head and bone-white skin lending her the appearance of a living skeleton; it might have been an old man, stately face and elegant lightsaber belying the savagery of his fighting.
It did not matter, because attachment to physical appearance was folly; all that mattered was that they were a Sith. And attachment to the title of Sith was folly; all that mattered was that they were an enemy. And attachment to the position of enemy was folly; all that mattered was that they were soon to cease to exist.
For attachment to existence was folly.
And it was a very great folly on their part, as it was for all Sith. "How can you cling to the foolishness of the Jedi?" they spat as he and the Sith circled each other, the clash of their blades resounding through the hall. "How can you not see the truth of the Dark Side?"
"Why do you cling to the foolishness of the Dark Side?" he asked mildly, parrying their blows with simple, instinctive ease. Their snarl was a sight to behold – for amusement.
"You Jedi can do nothing but parrot!" they shouted, unleashing upon him a flurry of blows, answered by a flurry of counters. "Why are you so attached to your detachment? Why are you so sentimental about your lack of sentiment? What would you be if you were perfect? Without attachment to anything – without emotion about anything – what is left of you? Nothi–"
So overtaken by passion were they that they left an opening in their guard, and found their sentence ending in a bar of green protruding from their ribcage.
"Indeed," he said, watching as the yellow light left their eyes. "Nothing."
An old man observed, with mild interest, a galaxy burning.
The Republic had collapsed, its rotted underpinnings no longer enough to support the massive senescent dead-weight of its own corruption. Oh, one might say there was still a Republic – in fact, many Republics, with the "most legitimate" one chiefly consisting of whichever one currently held Coruscant. But the Republic was gone. Nothing like it would arise for generations; perhaps nothing like it would arise at all. It had been, at its core, attachment to certain ideas, and now those ideas had been quite cruelly, inefficiently, and thoroughly killed. The dead did not come back; though some lingered on as spirits, they never again could assume the flesh. And so it was for the Republic.
The Jedi were equally crushed: private disputes had become internal schisms, internal schisms had become full-blown heresies, and full-blown heresies had called the very definition of orthodoxy into question. Paranoia about the Dark Side raged until many, in their fervor to purge any hint of Darkness, collapsed into Darkness themselves. Youth lost all respect for their elders, and elders all care for their youth; the unspoken, unrecognized attachments at the heart of the order of the Jedi's world dissolved, and the Jedi Order with them.
It was a terrible time for the galaxy. A tragic time.
But, then again, the notion of tragedy only existed because sentient beings had attachments; good and evil existed nowhere but in sentient minds.
He climbed atop a great heap of rubble that had once been the Senate and, shading his eyes, looked up at the fleet drifting overhead. Orbital bombardment – the latest orbital bombardment, to be precise – would begin soon. Nothing outside of deep-city shelters would survive.
He did not mind.
He had seen the greatest, most extensive, most ancient structures in the galaxy crumble like a child's castle of sand. Soon they would be washed away by the tide; he did not need the Force to foresee that. And so, all that might be seen had been seen. Someday, some warlord might unite scattered planets, or some monk might found a new, radical order – but that would be a very long time from now, and he would be dead regardless.
It had been interesting. He could not say he regretted any of it. The death-agonies of burning worlds were distracting, but he accepted those as the price to be paid for this new way of things. Others had been far more affected; he had to admit he had been a little embarrassed for Master Yoda, so stricken by what he knew perfectly well were mere temporary pains, all agony being as nothing beside the greater Force. But then, Master Yoda had known so little, hadn't he? Neither the cancer in his Order, until it was too late, nor its source.
In fairness, of course, there had been no malice to detect, just as there never had been for the Republic. Only curiosity. And that curiosity was now sated, and with it, the last attachment
It would not be long now.
Through the Force, he could feel the turbolasers warming up.