Darkness caressed him with all the affection of a mother for a favored child – soothing, intoxicating… He was bathed in its non-Light, nourished by its vampiric power…
Darth Tyrannus stood at the edge of the hangar, his tall, dark figure like a black sword blade against the red glow of the fading daylight. His eyes tracked the path of the near-invisible craft that had just taken off from the hangar until it flew over the horizon. He remained standing there, hands clasped behind his back, a look of grim concentration on a face that had never been handsome, but was still strikingly aristocratic.
"Everything is going according to plan."
Never had his Master's words proved more prophetic than they did at this moment. The impervious, impeccable, almighty Jedi Order had capitulated. After holding out for even longer than Lord Tyrannus had credited, the 'guardians of peace and justice of the universe' were now no better than the mass-produced clone mercenaries that populated the Republic Army. Threatened with the danger of losing their tenuous influence on the Republic, the Jedi Order had capitulated to the Senate's demands. Tyrannus was hardly surprised. It was not the first time he had been disillusioned by his former family.
So why was he so besieged with anger and disappointment?
Had he actually been holding onto the dream that the Order he had given more than half his life to… the Order that had taken and taken and taken from him – his name, his free will, his 'sons', his conscience… the Order that had only given in return criticism of compromised values… the Order that had mired itself in the corruption it was supposed to condemn… the Order that had reduced its finest Knights to little more than the Chancellor's elite assassins…
Had he actually believed that now the same Order would rise above itself?
The eddies of Dark currents flowing through and around him trembled violently.
There were no more illusions. The battle line had been drawn as clearly as the red sunset that scarred the horizon of Geonosis that fateful day.
He recalled his encounter with Knight Kenobi. Tyrannus had given him truth and Kenobi had rejected it. Denied it. Just as the young Knights he had encountered on Raxus Prime had. And all the while they had clung to their self-righteousness in the face of their own murderous assignment, their refusal to listen to reason. They all insisted on clinging to their dream of a Republic that no longer existed. A Republic where peace and justice ruled. That dream was dead - and no good men existed with strength enough to resurrect it.
There was no light or dark side. Only power and those who had the courage to use it. There was no good or evil. Only the strength of those who were unshackled.
The Jedi had hidden and shackled themselves in their ivory temple for decades. Living, eating and breathing their stagnant, constrained, complacent Code while the Republic withered around them and the Galaxy fell. Now they were spurred into action for the worst possible reasons. Now, as the glorified soldiers of a Sith Master, the Jedi had nailed the first durasteel nail into the coffin of their self-annihilation.
Too little. Too late.
With a sweep of his robes, Lord Tyrannus turned from the edge of the hangar. He had got all he needed from Coruscant – first hand confirmation of the Order's decision, consultation with his Master; and an interlude with his most faithful ally and spy – the one person in the Galaxy he could trust…
There was still no word on the location of Jango Fett's ward who had escaped Raxus Prime in the confusion of the Jedi's attack. Had he been taken in by the clone soldiers? Perhaps mistakenly as a younger clone?
Tyrannus smirked. Not mistakenly.
Then his smile vanished as his thoughts became angry. He should have killed the boy a long time ago when he had the chance. Holding back had been foolish and dangerous; now the very real and threatening possibility of the boy revealing his secrets to the Jedi Order hung over the Sith's head like a two-bladed lightsaber. Tyrannus grimaced. His occasional flights of compassion were crippling weaknesses he needed to eliminate.
His old, stern face hardened further.
He had lost one strange child but he was determined to lay hands on the other.
His quarry had returned to the Temple at last, and the reasons for his departure were fantastic. If anyone other than his most trusted contact had told him that well-kept secret, the Sith Lord would have been hard pressed to believe it.
And so, Tyrannus' thoughts were drawn to the topic of Anakin Skywalker, who had gone to Naboo in chase of a woman who had rejected him…
As he stepped into his vessel, the Sith Lord recalled that one impressive encounter with Kenobi's apprentice's aura. For the first time, Tyrannus remembered something beside the arrogance, the power and the foolish impulsiveness. He remembered the threads of anger, the fount of passion released as if from a spring, the black slashes of fear, resentment, of forced duty that had run through Anakin Skywalker's aura like a badly knitted tapestry. It was an unsettlingly familiar pattern: one that Dooku recognized all too well. For he was cursed with unfailing memory and could still remember his own apprenticeship; and all the stages of anger and denial; the hopeless task of contorting himself to a society that he could not conform to; the driven urgency with which he had tried to find even one other Jedi like himself; the despair and deception when he discovered there was none, and he was utterly alone. The same badly knitted tapestry that had threaded the soul of Anakin Skywalker, Jedi apprentice had also run through the soul of young Yan Dooku, Jedi apprentice.
Unbidden, unasked, a current of sympathy for his enemy was felt by the old Jedi Master.
Darth Tyrannus shook off the unwelcome emotion like an unwanted shawl from his shoulders. He wrapped his cloak around his body, the Darkness around his soul and ascended into the polluted skies of Coruscant.
He was a Lord of the Sith.
The only dealings he had with Jedi were the dealings of the clash of lightsabers. The dealings of death.
And he would deal ungrudgingly and generously.
The battle line was drawn.
No retreat. No surrender.
Continued in Thwarted Fate, the Book of Descent, Volume II
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