Star Wars Infinities: The Master
By: Christopher W. Blaine
DISCLAIMER: All of the characters and situations contained in this story are ©2003 by LucasFilm Ltd. They are used here without permission for fan-related entertainment purposes only. This original story is ©2003 by Christopher W. Blaine.
THE GALAXY IS BEING TORN APART BY A THREE FRONT WAR. THE
GALACTIC EMPIRE, UNDER THE RULE OF DARTH RAVAGE, HAS
ORDERED WARLORD THRAWN TO REFORM THE IMPERIAL FORCES
INTO AN ELITE FIGHTING FORCE.
THE TARKIN CONFEDERACY HAS MAINTAINED CONTROL OF THE
CORELLIAN SYSTEM, BUT THE PREFECT HAS PLANS TO EXPAND
HIS INFLUENCE TO EVENTUALLY TAKE CONTROL OF IMPERIAL
CENTER. IN HIS PATH, THOUGH, IS THE REBELLION, WHICH HOPES
TO FREE CORELLIA AS WELL AS THE REST OF THE GALAXY FROM
THE GRIP OF TYRANNY.
MEANWHILE, ON THE PLANET KAMINO, EXAR KUNN, THE ANCIENT
DARK LORD OF THE SITH NOW RESIDING IN THE BODY OF BOBA
FETT, IS READY TO TAKE HIS FIRST STEP TOWARDS BECOMING
THE MASTER OF THE GALAXY…
The body that once belonged to Boba Fett, but was now the vessel holding the spirit of one of the most hated persons in history, stood at the large viewing window, looking down at what was called the Alpha Lab. The world of Kamino, home of a race generically referred to as Cloners, was dotted with several research stations and cities dedicated to biological sciences. This facility was under the administration of Taun We, a Kamino citizen that was intimately familiar with Boba Fett.
Decades before, Jango Fett, a Mandalorian warrior, was contracted by Count Dooku of the Old Republic to be the progenitor of the clone army of the Republic. Jango had requested, above and beyond his normal pay, to have a single unaltered clone of himself created to raise as his son. That clone was named Boba. Five years prior to this moment of history, Exar Kunn used Sith magic to remove the soul of Boba Fett from the body he now inhabited. Five years ago, Exar Kunn began to breathe life back into his plan.
In the intervening years, he had maintained the ruse of being Boba Fett and had sworn his patrons to secrecy regarding his presence on the ocean world. After thousands of years of imprisonment in the temples on Yavin 4, Exar could ill afford a mistake now. He was vulnerable, living outside the Force, away from that which made him something more than just sentient. Boba Fett was an impressive specimen, his body and mind as perfect as could be expected from a normal human, but it had been his soul that had been weak.
Exar knew from experience that the spirit was the true measure of a man and while Boba Fett had dreams of becoming something more than he had been, he lacked the intestinal fortitude to make it happen. He had lived in his father's shadow and Jango Fett, if the way the beings around here regarded him were an indication, was nothing less than a god. Of course, Mandalorians were always tenacious in their efforts.
And, he was becoming fully aware of, so was Taun We.
She entered the viewing platform, silently striding in on her long silvery legs. By now Exar had gotten used to the way the native peoples looked with their elongated necks and oddly child-like faces. Their silence disturbed him, but that was the price he paid for no longer being in contact with the Force. Were he in a proper body, he would be able to read the thoughts of any being on the planet. "Greetings Boba Fett," she said and Exar detected something akin to humor in her voice.
"Good morning, Taun We; I trust that the outlook for the day is profitable?" Exar replied, using extra kindness with his words. Above all else, manners were the rule of day on this watery world.
"Today marks the day we unveil our special projects and perhaps usher in a new era of genetic supremacy in the galaxy," Taun We said as she stepped up to stand next to Exar. A long-fingered hand dropped onto his shoulder. "But I did not come here to discuss such matters."
Exar was surprised by her frankness; normally she would spend nearly an hour in small talk before getting to the subject of her visit, which would be infrequent at best. "Please, Taun We, tell me what it is that you have been thinking about. I sense concern in your voice."
She continued to look down, but her grip tightened slightly. Below, technicians of various races and species, though mostly locals, continued to administer to the vats and cylinders containing clones in various stage of development. "I have had occasion to wonder why it is that a bounty hunter, a Mandalorian bounty hunter, would ally himself with a pair of dark Jedi."
"Mutual interests," he replied.
"I was not aware that Mandalorians were interested in forming academies that instructed in the ways of the Sith." Two years before, Exar had secured a section of the complex to serve as his Shadow Academy, where Malakie and Mara had begun to train the Dark Side forces that Exar would require in his conquest of the galaxy. They had very few members, as they could not safely travel far into the Core to look for candidates. "I am afraid that my curiosity has gotten the best of me and I have spent the last few weeks researching the Sith."
Exar did not stop looking down and for the first time in five years, he wondered about the certainty of his future. He was a combat machine, a living engine of destruction, but he wondered if some of the original clones were still here, acting as guards or hired assassins. Could Exar rely on his apprentice to come to his aid? Four thousand years before, Exar's apprentice had turned on him. "An interesting subject, but considering the circumstances around Malakie's parentage, not so unusual."
"Were you aware that some Sith practitioners, their Dark Lords as they were called, were so well-versed in the ways of the Force that they could actually transfer their very life-essence into other bodies?" She waited for comment and when there was none, she continued. "But only the most powerful of Dark Lords could have performed it…someone on the level of perhaps the former Emperor."
Exar suppressed a laugh; Palpatine had been powerful, but he had also been blinded by his own perversions. He concentrated too much on the small details and never on the bigger picture. It had cost him his life. There was no doubt that Darth Ravage, the current Emperor, was a clone of Palpatine, a clone that had most likely been grown to house Palpatine's spirit. Instead of taking advantage of the powerful, youthful body, Palpatine had instead wanted to try using one grown the old-fashioned way.
"In my research, I learned that there were other such powerful Dark Lords throughout history. Names like Naga Sadow, Freedon Nadd and Exar Kunn." She was very quiet for a moment. "Which one are you?"
Exar took a deep breath. "I am Exar Kunn, Dark Lord of the Sith, fallen Jedi and spirit of darkness. Choose any title you wish."
"Then Boba Fett is dead?'
"In the physical sense, yes he is," Exar admitted. There seemed to be no change in the atmosphere between the two of them and he started to relax. "Does that bother you?"
"I was fond of young Boba, but the life of a bounty hunter is a harsh one and I am not surprised that he has met his end already," she said, her tone as neutral as it ever was. "I am amazed that you have lived for four thousand years without a body, Master Kunn. I would enjoy conversing with you about this Force."
"Then you are not angry?" he asked.
She removed her hand from his shoulder and stuck them into the sleeves of her long robe. "It would serve no useful purpose. Though you lied about your identity, the specimens you have procured for us have put us decades ahead in our knowledge of midi-chlorian science. There is still much we do not know, but our relationship has profited both sides." She bowed her head. "I only wish to express concern for your safety."
She invited him to walk with her down to the lab proper, where his new body and the other experiment using DNA taken from Malakie's severed arm would be revealed to him. Neither Malakie nor Mara was permitted to be present. He asked her about her concern for him.
Two guards, humanoid in appearance, but obviously the products of genetic manipulation, stepped in behind them after the exited the viewing platform. They were silent, allowing their demeanor and large blaster rifles to speak about their purpose. "If you have slain Boba Fett, then I assume you killed his father as well?"
Exar shook his head. "I saw no need for it. He was an old man, past his prime and weak according to the memories of Boba Fett. Jango Fett was no threat to me."
"Ah," Taun We replied. "Then you do not understand the danger you are in."
"Please," he said from behind gritted teeth, "do explain to me my error." He hated the false manners he had to endure; after four thousand years he had learned to just speak his mind.
"Jango Fett was no ordinary bounty hunter. He was the culmination of generations of Mandalorian tactics and strength. He was a man who knew no fear." They stopped in front of the door to the lab and waited as the guards stepped ahead to verify there were no assassins waiting in the small waiting chamber between two sets of doors. The Alpha Lab was a high security area and no chances were taken.
After getting the all clear, the two of them stepped through the first set of door and waited on a large metal grate. Thousands of small scanners embedded in the walls were now looking over their bodies for biological and artificial contaminants. "He hunted Jedi. It was rumored he even hunted Dark Jedi for the correct wage. He was relentless, caring about nothing and no person." She then paused and held up a single slender finger. "Except his son."
A green light illuminated above them and they entered the lab proper, immediately surrounded by four guards this time. "Why he wanted a son in the manner we provided was beyond our ability to understand. As we understand it, humans enjoy sexual relations and this normally leads to proliferation of the species. Jango Fett was different. He never showed the slightest interest in sex; he instead loved for his mission."
"Perhaps he was not attractive to human females…"
"No; we had several brought in to see if he required their use while he stayed with us. Our goal was to make him as comfortable as possible. Those females assured us he was quite desirable."
Exar sighed, growing tired of the narrative and wanting to see his new body. However, with his secret out, he had to be doubly pleasant to his hosts. He was normally agreeable to long conversation, but today was a special day. "Then perhaps he had other reasons; what does it matter. Perhaps he was interested in same sex relations…"
"Doubtful," Taun We replied, her tone indicating that Exar had made a verbal slight. The Kamino peoples were a race of pleasant and thorough scientists, who saw a natural order to the universe. Same sex relationships were to them an abomination to evolution, counter productive to life. Exar could care less; he enjoyed women just fine. "My point is that Jango Fett was the perfect hunter. He was skilled, well equipped, dedicated and relentless. If you left him alive, then he will come after you. It is not a question of how or why, but of when."
"I'll keep that in mind," Exar replied.
"Forgive my frankness, but I doubt you will. You have lived for forty centuries and no doubt feel you can overcome any obstacle. It is what akins you to the Jedi." They stopped in front of a large cylinder that was filled with a black liquid. He recognized it immediately as the cylinder where his clone body had been growing. He had looked upon it from the viewing platform every day for five years. "But I am sure you already know that."
Exar didn't reply but instead removed his helmet, revealing the dark features of the Fett family line. He got close to the glass and tried to will is vision to pierce the black mass of liquid that surrounded the body. "How will you conduct the transfer?" Taun We asked.
He continued to look at the glass and spoke as if he were lecturing his apprentice. "There are essentially two types of Sith; those who work to become proficient on the Force and those who use the Force to make them proficient in something else. For example, Darth Maul used the Force to become nearly unequaled in combat while I have spent four thousand years studying to use the Force in a more general way. Through my apprentice and his bride, we will conduct an ancient Sith ritual that will exchange the life-forces between this body and the one you have grown for me."
"Then the body of Boba Fett will be in a vegetative state?" Taun We asked.
"Yes, though it is unfortunate. This is a good body, your handiwork is most impressive."
Taun We stepped closer. "Then you will have no use for it?"
Exar turned around and frowned. "I had planned on conducting the ceremony far away from here, but since my secret is out and we have come to terms, I see no reason why you could not have it afterwards." Exar assumed that they would want to study the body to see how well their science had worked over the years. What was the condition of the immunity system? The size of the brain? Hair growth analysis. From what he could tell, these beings lived for nothing more than their science.
Small pumps began to whirl and the liquid level began to drop slowly. Taun We indicated to Exar that he should watch. The Dark Lord turned, excited in a way that he could not recall ever being in previously. This body was a combination of Boba Fett's and Malakie's DNA, with artificially enhanced midi-chlorian levels to bring it up to the level that Exar's body had originally possessed. In this new body he would take command of the Shadow Academy and begin sending his agents throughout the galaxy. Over the course of the next few years, they would encircle the Core Worlds, eliminating political and military adversaries until nothing but a bunch of inept fools were in control of everything.
Then he and Malakie would step up and assume control. It was much the same way Palpatine had taken power, but he had not taken the precaution of eliminating all of his enemies. Instead, Palpatine seemed to have possessed some sort of desired to be looked upon as a hero and he was constantly trying to justify himself and his New Order to his former political rivals and the peoples of the galaxy. Exar would not do that. The sentient races would accept his rule or they would die. It was that simple.
That was the way of the Sith.
The liquid was by now well past the head and what Exar saw disturbed him. Before him was a face composed of both Malakie and Boba Fett, two handsome men, yet combined they looked ugly and perverse. The lips were too big, the nose was too large and the hair was white and wavy. Exar even saw the hint of horns sticking out of the skull, reminiscent of Darth Maul.
The body wasn't much better. The arms were too large and the chest was not developed enough. He counted one set of ribs too many. The hips were wide, like a woman's. The genitals were far too small. "What the hell is this?"
Taun We did not seemed affected by the course language and she stepped up to the glass. "It is obvious that there were some problems with the gene splicing."
"Problems? It's a monster! I can't use that body!" he cried out, slamming a fist against the glass. "Malakie and Mara have a child and it doesn't look anything like this! It's a beautiful child with flowing red hair…"
"There are many benefits to natural reproduction," she explained calmly and Exar wondered if maybe Palpatine hadn't been so foolish after all. "The womb is nature's perfect incubator. We cannot, no matter how far along we come, replace that completely."
"I've waited five years, Taun We," Exar said. "I have not touched the Force for five years. I'd rather be dead," he suddenly admitted. The weight of being cut off from that which he known for so long was finally settling in on his shoulders. His eyes drifted to his blaster.
"Perhaps I can offer another alternative," she said, taking him gently by the arm and leading him over to another set of tubes. The glyphs over the top of them indicated that each one was in a different stage of development and they stopped in front of one marked "adult – young". She nodded to a technician who began the pumps to empty the cylinder out.
"This has been my personal project, though I confess it is not perfect. I have worked based solely on scant records and rumor, but I believe you will be pleased."
Exar watched, but his heart was heavy. Even Dark Lords could come to the realization that their time was done and over. They understood failure as much as the Jedi. He was, despite everything, only human. The liquid dropped much more rapidly and what he saw brought a faint smile to his lips.
He had never met Darth Maul and only knew of him through the Force. That sort of intimate connection went far beyond physical recognition. He would not know the deceased Dark Lord by sight if it had not been for the descriptions given him by Malakie. He looked upon the body in the cylinder and was horrified and full of admiration at the same time.
"The detail of the tattooing is perfect," he said, but he really wasn't sure. The face was a crimson and black design of pure terror, highlighted by a crown of yellow horns on the top of a bald head.
"We made some minor adjustments, especially to the dental features. His race, whatever it is, is given to severe tooth decay. It may have led to their eventual extinction." She went on to explain that his exact species was not in their genetic database, but it was not surprising. That database had not been updated for centuries because of their isolation from the rest of the galaxy.
The body was perfect, well muscled and frighteningly fit. "It is beautiful."
She handed over a report on flimsy and he scanned it quickly. "Is this the natural midi-chlorian level?"
"We are unsure of how midi-chlorian levels are affected through ancestry. We assume that the levels are somewhat subdued depending on the parentage. We were able to screen out the mother's genetic material and any gaps we had we replaced with some Jedi stock we had on hand." She handed over another flimsy. "As you can see, this clone is approximately 75% Darth Maul and 25% Anakin Skywalker, or Darth Vader as we believe he was once called."
"This level is…is…incredible!" Exar said, nearly wanting to faint. It was impossible for a single body to contain such power he thought. "Where did you get Skywalker's DNA?"
"We received it from the Emperor when he contracted us to make several clones of himself. He wanted the DNA tested."
Taun We shrugged. "I do not know. My predecessor was in charge of the project and he is now dead. All of the records were given over to the Empire. The original sample had been logged away in our archives until I found it and began using it in m experiments. She waved a hand to the other tubes. "My goal is to create the perfect Jedi…or Sith depending on who I am inclined to work with."
"A most inventive goal," Exar surmised, his hopes rising as the black liquid fell. The galaxy suddenly seemed a whole lot brighter to him and his elevated spirit was almost palatable. "I wonder why it is that you tell me these things?"
"In my estimation, the three-fold civil war raging through the former Empire will eventually grind down to a series of major battles that will decimate entire population, eradicate species and have other unforeseen results." She waved her arm in a gesture meant to encompass not just the lab, but also the whole facility. "You have seen first-hand what benefits cloning can offer. We are not the answer for all problems, but we can aid in eliminating most of them."
"But the Rebellion is like the Old Republic; they hate clones…despise the entire technology," Exar said, turning slowly to face Tuan We. He could not take his eyes off of the hybrid Darth Maul clone without making a supreme effort of will.
"Though I cannot speak for all of my people or every facility, it is my hope that the Rebellion meets an inglorious end. The Republic betrayed us; we provided them with the greatest army ever and they rewarded us with scorn. They called us monsters." Her eyes seemed to indicate a slight bit of anger, something Exar had never seen. The truth be told, he had not involved himself very much in the day-to-day activities of the residents of Kamino. He never understood their motivations or desires until this moment.
For five years, he had simply believed that they were profiteers, willing to tamper with genetic code in exchange for a fistful of credits. Instead, he now realized that this was a society devoted to science as much as he was devoted to the way of Sith. They were kinsmen in a clan of the excommunicated. They represented groups that did not follow the guidelines of political correctness that refused to abide by rules established by those who were inferior intellectually, morally and socially. "Their ignorance will be their undoing," he assured her. "I can promise you that I have intentions that could bring great prestige and profit to those who support me."
She acknowledged that she had guessed as much. "When I started to believe that I was dealing with a member of the Sith, I asked myself what it was that they would desire most."
"Power does have its benefits, as does sharing it," Exar offered.
"Which is why I am showing you this body that I have no use for now. I have taken my research as far as I can go and the body we made for you appears to be unsuitable," she said as she stepped over to the glass. She put her fingers onto the glass and her voice took on a whispery tone. "Is it wrong to desire revenge, Master Kunn?"
Exar straightened and walked over to join her, putting his gloved hand on top of hers. "No. Revenge is the tool to order. A balance can only be struck in the Force when wrongs have been righted. You do not achieve equilibrium for a strike to the face with a sorrowful word." He swallowed and strained to remember the ancient texts he had read. Revenge had never been his strong suit, only the quest for power and most Sith writings dealt with that subject in excruciating detail. "Your people have been ostracized by the galaxy for developing knowledge. The Sith were treated much the same way because they wanted to bring order. The galaxy is a chaotic place and it needs strong leadership in order to evolve correctly."
"The weak genes must be weeded out for the strong?" she asked. She seemed so beautiful then and he realized that he was basking in the power that came with pulling someone over to your point of view. Here was an intelligent being who saw her existence as marred by, what she perceived, as the bias of the uneducated liberal ideals of a fallen Republic. She wanted to join in the fight to correct the galaxy but up until now she had no idea where to turn.
"Yes, Taun We, but as good as this body is that you helped to create, I need something that will give me access back to the Force. I need that clone body," he said, turning his head to examine it. The tattoos covered the entirety of the clone's skin and he recognized the design as reminiscent of designs he had seen in tomes the Krath had used 4,000 years before. They had also turned to the Dark Side to help rule the galaxy but they had failed. Exar had that time to fine-tune his plans.
"But, will your apprentice help you? Will his senses not be enflamed when he sees you trying to replace his father?" Taun We asked, moving her hand away from Exar's.
"An interesting point, but I have a solution. I have a student in the Shadow Academy, a Firrerreon named Hethrir. He has shown some true talent in the Dark Side. I will instruct him to perform the ceremony," Exar announced.
"Is that wise, trusting a mere initiate?"
Exar chuckled. "Do not worry, the Sith prepared for such an eventuality. There is a related ceremony that will allow Hethrir to tap into power he never dreamt of." The Exar leaned in close. "Of course, the end result is that I live while he dies."
"I see," Taun We said, looking down at the ground. Useless death went against her beliefs and Exar wondered if she were in league enough with him that she was willing to betray her ideals to help him. If she did, it indicated that he had one more ally and a useful one at that.
Finally she looked up. "I will not interfere. Once the process is done, please contact me and we will make arrangements as you see fit."
Exar smiled and took Taun We's hand and lifted it to his lips. She did not understand the gesture but accepted it readily enough. "I promise you, Taun We, that your people's reputation will not only be avenged, but the galaxy will sing praises to your work."
"It is all that I ask; in return I will provide you with whatever you desire. Money. Armies. Fleets. Concubines. I am unfamiliar with your ways or customs, but I will endeavor to satisfy." She made a small bow and then turned, exiting the lab with her guards in tow.
There were no escorts for Exar and he realized that she had just turned over her entire facility to him. Here was the first step; his first kingdom in what would be his empire. A true Sith empire where the Dark Side was worshipped with all of the hate, jealousy and lust a sentient being could muster.
Exar Kunn smiled then. He thought about all of the things he could accomplish here. It was beyond his wildest dreams and he cursed himself for not realizing what Taun We had wanted from the very beginning. Of course, without the benefit of the Force, he had to rely on normal human gut instinct and he decided that came with experience. He had just spent four thousand years with his spirit trapped in limbo so he could excuse himself for his ignorance.
No longer, though, he told himself. In a few short days, the time it would take to instruct the doomed Hethrir on the intricate procedures involved in life-force transplantation, he would be once again a true Dark Lord of the Sith.
Then he remembered Taun We's warning about Jango Fett and he dismissed it. In the body he was going to have, a simple Mandalorian warrior was going to be no trouble at all.