Teaser: Palpatine tells Luke a story: how he learned to produce Sith Lightning
Disclaimer: The characters are not mine. They belong to Lucas. This is just for fun.
Author's Note: I'm back with yet another one-shot. This takes place in an AU version of ROTJ, but it won't deal with the whole space battle, etc.
Luke Skywalker stood nervously in Emperor Palpatine's Throne Room on the second Death Star. He had trusted his father to do the right thing, to come away with him but that plan had backfired terribly. His back straight as a board and feet far apart, he stared out the window before him. Different emotions bubbled through him as he watched blazing sparks out in the blackness of space. His friends and fellow Alliance members were out there dying and here he was trapped in the throne room with evil incarnate. He felt betrayed, helpless and incredibly naïve. How could he have been so stupid to trust a father he didn't really know? He had felt good in Vader, yes, but that had led him to his current predicament. Worst of all, he didn't know what to do. Should he try killing Palpatine? Was that even possible?
Turning, Luke once again studied the old man. Palpatine rested in his throne chair, his back to the circular window. His face was decayed and ugly, lined by deep grooves. He had the most horrible skin Luke had ever seen on a human and the sight twisted his stomach. But worst than his skin were his eyes. Evil dwelled in those red orbs, the unnatural color seeping into the wrinkled flesh directly beneath his eyes. His hands were thin and bony; grotesque bumps sticking out from the flesh for every vein. One clawed hand rested on Luke's lightsaber and the young would-be Jedi gazed at the silver weapon wistfully.
The Emperor noticed his desire for the weapon and his mouth broke out into a grin. "You want this, don't you, boy? Well, I can offer you power far beyond your wildest dreams. You'd be a fool to pass that up."
"I'm not interested in power." Luke replied, his blue eyes still on the lightsaber. Then they flickered upward to the dark silhouette of Darth Vader. His father stood silently on the other side of the Emperor's chair, the only sound from him being the mechanical breathing.
"Of course you are, boy." Palpatine shifted his red eyes onto Luke, the grin still pasted onto his decaying face. "You enjoy using the Force, don't you? It's like doing magic. You can lift things without touching them; make others obey your commands, drive as fast as the wind without hitting things. Is this not true?"
Slowly Luke nodded. He was fearful of a trap somewhere. It was no secret that Palpatine wanted to convert him to the Dark Side of the Force and would try to twist things around. And if he weren't careful, he'd fall into that trap.
"Well, would you like to hear a story?" Palpatine asked.
Luke blinked in surprise, his mouth gaping open. This was the last thing he had expected from the Sith Lord. He had dreaded the ride up in the lift, his heart pounding painfully in his chest. Torture had been on his mind or perhaps death. Those he expected from a Sith Master in large quantities. "You want to tell me a story?"
"I've told you father many stories." Palpatine admitted as he gazed calmly at the shocked young man. The Emperor caused his chair to swivel to his right so he could see Vader. "Isn't that correct, Lord Vader?"
Vader bowed his helmeted head. "That is correct, My Master. I suggest you listen to the story, Luke."
The young Jedi looked from one Sith to the other and shrugged. He didn't see what harm listening to a story could do. "All right…"
"Very well. I will tell you of the day I invented Sith Lightning. I remember like it was yesterday…"
Supreme Chancellor Palpatine strolled down the long hallway towards his office. He had just recently been elected to the new position and he was very pleased. Better yet, no one knew or even suspected he was a Sith Master. Still, his research into developing new powers was a complete failure and this troubled him to no end. He greatly desired a new trick, something powerful and flashy. Sooner or later he knew those drat Jedi would discover the truth and then it would be very handy to have a secret weapon at his disposal, something new that no one knew about. Palpatine's eyelids dropped and his head almost rested on his chest due to fatigue. He had spent most of the night trying new techniques and none had worked. This face troubled him greatly and the scant hours of sleep he had last night had been troubled.
The thick plush carpet was lush under his boots but he didn't notice as he sleepily dragged his tired feet towards his office door. Lifting his head to check his progress, he was dismayed to see the door was still far away. Why had they made this hall so long and empty? No other doors lined it and he was totally alone at the moment. Determined to reach it at all costs, Palpatine continued to stagger forward. With each weary step his feet scraped the carpet fibers, the boots rubbing loudly in the empty hall. Finally the door was just ahead. Eagerly he reached out to touch the metal door to open it.
Wicked bolts of bluish-white electricity zapped him, the current flowing around his own body. Palpatine jerked away from the door, his skin slightly blackened. White puffs of smoke rose off him as he lost his balance and fell to the plush carpet. Getting fried had hurt like crazy but the old man cackled gleefully at his discovery.
"And that, boy, was how I discovered the secret to making Sith Lightning. Ever since then I always travel with a long roll of carpet so I can build up the charge in case I have need of it."
Luke's mouth hung open and he stared at the Emperor, his blue eyes as wide as dinner plates. "That's the most stupid thing I ever heard!"
"It's not stupid! It took me years of research to discover that!" Palpatine bellowed angrily. "How dare you call me stupid!"
"But it's nothing but static electricity!" Luke cried in defiance. "Everybody knows that! Why, when I grew up in Anchorhead and went to school, kids would occasionally get shocked on leaving the school's library…"
"What?" Palpatine rose to his feet, his beady red eyes focused on Luke. Slowly he lifted his gnarled white hands and pointed them at the young man. "Are you telling me that kids know my secret?"
"Luke…" Vader warned.
"Everybody knows about it! It's common knowledge!" Luke insisted stubbornly.
"I'll show you static electricity!" Palpatine let the bluish-white bolts fly from his fingertips, the Sith Lightning striking the young man. Luke howled in pain and dropped to the floor, body writhing. It felt like every inch of his skin was being fried and it hurt like crazy. Mercifully, he soon passed out.
Some time later, Luke woke up in a bed. He felt incredibly weak and listless. Aches ran through his bones and his mouth tasted like sand, dry and rough. Glancing around, he soon spotted the dark figure of his father. His eyes focused on the black breath mask that loomed over him.
"Luke, I strongly suggest that next time you agree with Palpatine." Vader said in his low mechanical voice. "The Emperor is very touchy about his so-called discovery. I understand as a child he had flunked basic science."
"But it's just so stupid!" Luke repeated, winching as new pain shot through his face when he moved his mouth to talk. His skin felt incredibly dry and parched.
"Yes, I agree." Vader nodded his helmet, shiny white reflections dancing across the curved black metal. "Many times my Master has asked me to drag my feet across his roll of red carpet and then touch a metal item, but I begged out. My wiring and droid parts serve a very useful excuse; one that even Palpatine bows to. I suspect all too soon he will ask you to try the exercise. So far he has only convinced one other to do the foolishness; the late Count Dooku. How such a dignified Jedi could stoop to such an act of idiocy I don't know…"
Luke moaned, one hand on his forehead. He knew the answer all too well.
Power corrupted. And once corrupted, people were willing to do anything to gain more power.
Even drag their feet across a long length of carpet.