Disclaimer: Star Wars and all related characters and settings belong to George Lucas. It's just really, really fun to play in his galaxy. My OC belongs to me, though I doubt anyone would want him. ;)
Author's Note 7/7/2006: This story has been up for a while, but last night I decided to revise and update the prologue. I wasn't fully satisfied with it since the beginning, but I was unsure how to go about improving it. I finally settled that issue, and I think the result is a much better introduction to the story. Those who've read this before may notice some subtle changes in the way my OC looks at the Republic. After his segment, I've added a scene with two very important Jedi Masters that I think may interest you very much. I can honestly say I'm much more satisfied with the prologue now.
Please read and review. Reviews feed the author. ;)
The Galactic Senate, Coruscant
He moved through the ornate halls of the Galactic Senate as calmly and naturally as possible, feigning that he had every right to be in this place. The clothes he wore, that of a common senatorial aide, helped him out immensely, allowing him to blend in among the countless nondescript people working behind the scenes at the Senate at any given time. Gaining access to one of the senatorial rotundas took quite a bit more work, but he had this way.
It was amazing how similar to his home society on Coruscant truly was. The technology was more advanced, the people less idiotic about certain things, but when it came to illegal activities, money still spoke volumes. He had slipped one of the Senate guards a sizable handful of credits to let him pass, along with a concocted story about the senator being unable to attend and also unable to trust his regular staff to take his place. The guard was naturally curious at the unusual situation, but he also knew when to not pass up a good opportunity. It helped that he had specifically chosen the rotunda of a Senator notorious for a string of absences from Congress, over the most trivial of matters.
Now he stood amidst a thousand galactic Senators and their aides, watching as the Supreme Chancellor granted yet another executive power by the majority of increasingly paranoid politicians.
He listened to their frenzied cheers with an air of derision. They were fools, all of them; handing over their freedoms to a man who was hell bent on subverting them, in exchange for an empire built entirely on a deranged thirst for power.
When the individual observing this disgraceful turn of events arrived in this alternate existence, he was as amazed as anyone else from his home world would have been. Oddly enough, he hadn't known that it was the Republic at first. Alien beings were countless in their multitude, as were the strangely clad humans intermixed with them. How was he supposed to know where he was? It wasn't until he caught sight of a very familiar alien that he finally pieced together his location:
And there was only one place in existence where Twi'leks could be found.
Even so, he wasn't instantly convinced. It could be a coincidence; a strange race of aliens that somehow resembled his culture's fictional ones. So he continued to explore. One thing was aware of was the incredible fortune he'd been granted. Wherever he was, he now had a chance to observe a completely alien society, something that most scientists would kill to enjoy.
First thing first, he had to survive for the next few days. Going back and forth between his world and this one was easy, but he would learn nothing if he shied away from every little thing that made him uncomfortable.
Learning to communicate didn't turn out to be as difficult as he expected. He was pleasantly surprised to learn that the spoken language was identical to English. Written language, however, was much more of a challenge. He still hadn't picked up the strange calligraphy that passed for writing in this place. It all looked like gibberish to his eyes, and he wondered how anyone understood it with so many alien species running around.
It was hard to make himself at ease with the bizarre surroundings, at first. He was alone in an alien place, with weapons countless years less advanced. He had absolutely no idea what any of the signs or advertisements said, and it was only through careful listening and observation that he discerned which places were what.
He marveled at the endless assortment of them. Some of them were shops, others restaurants or bars, and some were ones he really didn't want to go into. Together they formed the never-ending web that comprised the planet's magnificent architecture. He felt very much like Alice, having tumbled down the rabbit hole into Wonderland.
His poker face came in handy here. Military training gave you a level of confidence few other things could match, and as experienced veteran, it was easy to pretend you were comfortable in a place where you really didn't belong. Most of the beings around him barely noticed his presence, so unless he did something absolutely stupid, he doubted he would draw attention to himself.
When he determined it was safe, he considered bringing his daughter there for a brief visit, once he was finished exploring. As someone equally disillusioned with some aspects of their world, Alessa would love this place.
So, the language and that Twi'lek…two things that hinted at his true location. Still, he refused to acknowledge the possibility. It was impossible. The galaxy where the saga took place was nothing but fiction…everybody knew that. This was a fascinating place, but where was the Empire? Where were the Jedi and their lightsabers? No matter which time period it was, there were always certain stables of the saga that made it easy to recognize and none of them were here, save for two that could easily be coincidence. It wouldn't be the first time he had seen non-human creatures that used the English language. This was an incredible alien world, but that was all it was, and he'd do better to just go home and safeguard the coordinates to this place. Who knew what would happen if someone from this place got their hands on his timer.
That feeling lasted for the better part of two days, until he caught sight of a meeting being broadcast over some kind of holographic transmission medium. He would later learn it was the HoloNet, the Republic's version of television crossed with a computer network, and the meeting was of the Senate, the governing body of the Republic itself.
And that was when he saw him, for the first time.
Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.
The Emperor, Darth Sidious, the Dark Lord of the Sith…without a doubt, the most evil man in the history of the Galactic Republic, regardless of whatever name you called him by.
Ironic how things changed so quickly. He'd heard a few random stirrings of conflict, but because there was no sign of an Imperial presence, or any type of raging war, he'd assumed it was just the usual stuff that plagues all civilizations. Besides, he wouldn't be there much longer, so he barely thought anything of it.
Until he saw Palpatine.
That face…that pale, aged face, put everything into perspective. No longer was he just a visitor to some oddball alien planet in an alternate universe. Suddenly this place was rife with dangers. He half expected to see storm troopers marching down the street at every corner, or Star Destroyers show up suddenly in the skies. Never in a billion years would he have believed it was possible to find yourself in the goddamn Jediuniverse, and now that he was here, he sure as hell didn't want to stay there knowing Palpatine was about to bring everything crashing down. The smartest thing to do was get the hell out of there and erase the coordinates to this place so that nobody could ever follow his steps there. And for one extremely tempting moment, he considered doing just that.
Yet something held him back.
He wasn't sure what it was, only that it spoke to him with a clarity few things ever had before. Was it the Force? He doubted it. No divine power had ever shown an interest in him before; at least, no one positive. Besides, this place was doomed. If Palpatine was in power, it wouldn't be longed before the Jedi were wiped out, the Senate rendered useless, and a maniacal tyrant given control of the entire galaxy. He had no desire to get caught up in a war…he'd had enough of that on his world as it was.
But the voice was insistent. The Jedi had to be warned. Padme had to be warned. Anakin couldn't be allowed to turn. On and on it went, until he got tired of the argument raging in his mind. Was it his conscience? Probably. Like all people, sometimes that part of him was too troublesome for his own good.
One week had passed since that time. And now here he was sitting in a corner of the Galactic Senate, watching as a crazed tyrant pretended to be the most benevolent man who ever lived.
The Senate rose from their seats as the Chancellor accepted yet another emergency power, the latest in a series of moves by fearful politicians desperate to keep themselves safe from an enemy called General Grievous. He was good, the man reflected, watching as the Chancellor gracefully accepted the applause from the audience chamber. Too good; it was no wonder nobody suspected Palpatine's true nature. Had he not known for sure the man's peaceful façade was a lie, he might have believed in it himself.
He eyed the assembled beings with a mixture of pity and disbelief as the senators gullibly signed away another one of their freedoms to their future Emperor. If they only knew what they were voting for, he thought wryly, watching with a small measure of contempt as Palpatine humbly accepted the motion, declaring as always that he would lay down his powers as soon as the war came to an end.
As quickly as he appeared, the visitor left the rotunda he was observing from, having seen enough of this charade. Fine. He would warn the people of this world about Palpatine's duplicitous intentions; it was only right. But that was all he would do. He was a warrior, not a hero, and he had no responsibilities towards this world, or universe, or whatever one chose to call it by. If the Jedi and the senators accepted his warning, good; he wished them all the luck in the world.
And if by some chance they didn't accept his warning… well then, that was none of his business.
In the deepest recesses of the Force, the spirit of a dead Jedi Master stirred awake. For those who had passed on from the physical world, the Force was a realm beyond describing. Civilizations on countless planets held beliefs about the afterlife, yet no mortal could ever hope to imagine the unparalleled beauty, the sheer magnificence of the Force as the deceased saw it from within. It was truly the greatest aspect of all existence.
As the Force was everywhere and everything, no being could ever hope to truly escape its influence. One way or another, the Force was always with you, surrounding you until you became one with it again.
It was believed by many beings in the universe that a person moved on from the land of the living, their soul was finally at peace, forever free from the constant struggles of daily existence. Therefore, it was to many an individual's chagrin that they discovered this was simply not the case. In fact, some would dare to say it was as far from the truth as one could possible get.
Qui-Gon Jinn was one such individual.
One of the greatest advantages of a transcendental existence was being able to look back on the world you departed from. Death was not the end; as the Jedi were fond of saying, "there is no death, there is the Force." And the Force had many layers to it. It was therefore surprising to many people when they discovered they were still able to observe the happenings of the physical world, if their will was strong enough, and they were aware of the right ways to do it.
Consequently, in their haste to keep track of their still living relatives and friends, many people also discovered that the blessing of extended sight was often times a double edged sword. And despite a very common misconception, simply because you were able to 'look down from Heaven' did not mean that you knew all and saw all. Even in death, omniscience was a truly rare gift.
It was a lesson Qui-Gon learned all too well.
Over the past several years, the late Jedi Master had learned the secret to communicating with the living world. All souls which had moved on were capable of glancing past the barriers that separated the physical world from the nether realm of the Force. Few however, could communicate effectively with the inhabitants of that place of existence without encountering one of the many obstacles in their path. It was an ancient skill that was lost to many cultures in the universe, not just those in the Republic.
And yet, despite this immense accomplishment, Qui-Gon was still no certain of the future after his death than he was before it. He was aware of some greater truths, but others remained equally as obscure. Worse, he had become highly aware of the rising darkness that was rapidly forming a veil of evil across the galaxy. Twelve years since his death had not changed the bleak situation the Republic was facing at the time of the Battle of Naboo.
Qui-Gon worried over what awaited its citizens. He worried for his old apprentice, now a renowned Master in the Jedi Order. He worried for the boy he had saved from slavery on Tatooine, now a conflicted young man who struggled with his gifts and the strict confinements of the Jedi Code. But most of all, he worried for the sake of the entire Jedi Order and the Republic itself. The Republic was crumbling with each month the Clone Wars dragged on and the Jedi had yet to make any progress in ascertaining the identity of the Sith Lord at the heart of it all.
Focusing his concentration, the Jedi was able to pierce through the shroud that divided the planes of the existence. Searching for the familiar illuminating aura that stood out like a beacon in the Force, he was not surprised Jedi Master Yoda deep in meditation. He sent the barest of whispers against Yoda's senses, alerting the great Jedi Master to his presence.
Master Qui-Gon, heartening it is, to sense your presence this day, Yoda responded through the Force.
Likewise, Master Yoda, Qui-Gon said.He hesitated. I take it you sensed the disturbance in the Force?
Sensed it, I have, Yoda confirmed. But, unable to determine its nature, I have been.
As have I, Qui-Gon said, with the telepathic equivalent of a sigh. All I can determine is that this disturbance may in fact have profound repercussions for us all. Events are already in motion.
Does your immortality not give you higher insight?
The dark side clouds our vision, Qui-Gon responded, as it does that of the entire Jedi Order.
Unaware of this, we are not, Qui-Gon. Feel the strength of the dark side growing, we do, Yoda stated.
Yet still you underestimate it, the deceased Jedi countered. The Sith Master is closer than you think. The dark side may obscure his identity, but I know enough to tell you he is a position to do great harm to the Order.
And how are we to route him out? Stretched enough as it is, our resources are. Prevent us from doing an extensive investigation, the war does.
You don't need an in-depth investigation to uncover the truth, Master Yoda. All you need is to trust your instincts. Look to the Senate and that which looks most suspicious. Be mindful of the living Force, Master, Qui-Gon advised him.
Despite the gravity of the topic, the ancient Jedi could hear the mirth in his former pupil's voice.
Need to tell me that, you do not, Master Jinn. Your former apprentice, I am not.
Qui-Gon almost laughed. He had indeed shared that mantra with Obi-Wan on many occasions throughout their time together. So much in fact that it had become one of his apprentice's most hated sayings, right after anything that implied his rebellious Master was once again going to defy the Council.
Qui-Gon released a sigh of disappointment. Yes, Obi-Wan was a stubborn one. Took after his master, many would say. Except that they were stubborn in completely opposite ways. Qui-Gon was stubborn about following his instincts and the will of the Force over the Jedi Code. Obi-Wan was stubborn about adhering to the Code, regardless of what his instincts told him.
It wasn't his fault. Like most Jedi, Obi-Wan had been raised from an early age to believe the will of the Council was equivalent to the will of the Force. The Council followed the Code and the Code was written to express the nature of what it meant to serve the Force. It was a belief that was deeply ingrained in the teachings of the Jedi, and had been that way for thousands of years. Even Qui-Gon had been lulled into that reassuring tune on certain rare occasions. Only now did he see what a fallacy that truly was. The Force was beyond mortal comprehension – it was far too celestial to ever be bound in a book of illogical, antiquated rules.
Talk to him, you do not. Why? Yoda inquired, sensing the late Master's line of thought.
I cannot, Qui-Gon replied, firmly yet with a sad tone. He would like nothing more than to speak to his former student once again. Unfortunately, he could not turn a blind eye to the truth. Obi-Wan isn't ready to hear what I have to tell him. Not yet.
The resolve in the ghostly voice told Master Yoda there would be no arguing with the dead Master on this one.
What about young Skywalker?
Anakin doesn't need my guidance. What he needs is the faith of those around him. Including the Jedi Council.
A difficult thing to give that is, Qui-Gon. Very troublesome, the boy's actions are. Aggressive and ambitious, he is. Too much so for a Jedi Knight.
Be that as it may, you must be patient with him. He is the Chosen One, Master Yoda, I know it. But he will not fulfill his destiny if the Council is too afraid of him to give the chance. They must acknowledge him as a true Knight of the Order, not as a potential enemy to be feared.
The ghostly voice disappeared back into the ether. Yoda's eyes opened as the ancient Jedi Master emerged from his meditative trance. He breathed out deeply, contemplating everything Qui-Gon had conferred in him. The deceased Jedi had certainly given him a lot to think about. Not for the first time he considered sharing the subject of their conversations with the other Council members.
He dismissed the idea almost immediately. The others wouldn't understand the significance of what Qui-Gon had accomplished. They would be extremely skeptical at best; some might even have the gall to wonder if the legendary Master Yoda, a staple of the Jedi Order for hundreds of years, was finally going senile from old age. Those who might believe his account, like Master Windu, would likely still be dubious of any advice given by the spirit of the maverick Jedi whose rebellions against the Council were still the stuff of Temple folklore.
Qui-Gon brought up a good point about Skywalker. Perhaps they had been too harsh on the boy. How did they expect him to serve the Jedi faithfully if they criticized him at every turn? Yoda would have to address this issue with the Council soon. He would start with Master Windu – one of Anakin's greatest critics, yet also one of the few Jedi who truly believed Anakin could be the Chosen One.
And then there was the subject of the recent disturbance in the Force. He was well aware that no one else on the Council had sensed the disturbance save for himself, which lent considerable weight to Qui-Gon's statements of the Council being blinded by the dark side. That such a disturbance could occur on Coruscant and go completely unnoticed by the rest of the Council was appalling. Never in his eight centuries of being a Jedi would Yoda have believed they could become so blind.
Because it was happening. It had already happened and unless they did something about it, the galaxy would be plunged into darkness. For as the Jedi's own power waned, their enemy's power grew. In spite of what some members the Council believed, the Dark Lord of the Sith was all too real. The chance of him becoming an unstoppable force was not one Yoda was willing to take.
Closing his eyes once more, Yoda allowed himself to settle into another session of meditation. He had much to contemplate before he spoke with Master Windu.