The Man Who Would Be Emperor
"So this is how democracy dies..."
The Senate Dome was burning.
The crowd of protesters, Coruscanti of all species, from all works of life, circled their bonfire with gleeful wickedness. The flames echoed in their faces, their mad, mad eyes.
Sidious's own face was alight with satisfaction as he gazed down on the confusion from the office of the Chancellor. Slowly, decadently, he sipped from the glass in his hand, savored the bitter flavor of strong Kashyyyk wine before he swallowed. It was a slow, pleasant burn all the way to his stomach. He raised the glass to the crowd below and toasted his victory.
The victory of the Sith.
"It is fitting, is it not, that the Senate burns as democracy dies?"
The window-glass looked out into the smoke-filled night, and the hazy, ghostlike reflection of a face within its depths seemed to be haloed with fire.
The presence had crept up on him so subtly that he had hardly felt it. But now that he was aware of it, it was a wonder that the mixture of anger and bitterness had not burnt through his skin.
Irritation seeped into Sidious's pores like acid rain, displacing the happiness of before.
"How did you get in here?" He asked with a sigh, his voice sounding unnaturally hoarse in the large space.
The source of that pain and rage smiled and white teeth flashed in that angelic reflection. Fallen angel. "Wrong question, my Lord. What you should be asking is how you plan on getting out of here."
"You think you can kill me?" Sidious laughed as well, coughing a little. It gratified him a little that even now, his 'protégée' could still provide some entertainment. His weapon was a soothing weight on his hip and his wrists automatically flexed, snapping with lightning. The wine in his blood was adrenaline-hot, and his midichlorians all but leaping in agitation.
In the window, he saw the shoulders move in a slow shrug.
"Indeed, you have become more powerful than I ever anticipated but you will never be a match to me."
"I have not come to kill you, Lord Sidious-"
"What have you come for, then? To plea? To negotiate?" He sneered. "I have no more use for you."
"Yes, of course. You have only taken my trust and used it against my love, my values, my honor. You have only destroyed or despoiled everything I have ever cared for in this world. "
The voice was calm, too calm. Beneath that pale visage, Sidious could see the pain of betrayal. It tickled him as much as the wine burned him and he laughed again. "Your beloved has finally seen the light?" He mocked, choking in his good humor. "How sorry for you," he said, rasping and choked again, coughing badly. "D-did you c-come seeking c-comfort-"
"Like I said Lord Sidious, I have not come to kill you." And it was then he felt the malice. So strong, it could have choked a lesser being.
And the victory in that malice.
"I have come to watch you die."
It was then that Sidious turned around to gaze at the other. And after staring at the truth in his murderer's face, he followed the implacable gaze to the tall pitcher on his table.
Then to the glass in his hand.
Reflexively, he flung the glass into the far corner of the room where it shattered with the sound of crystals. The faint noise barely drowned the sound of laughter.
His hand went to his throat, but it was too late. The fire had consumed his chest, his skin, his pores.
"Surprised, my Lord? You think you are the only one who can embrace with one arm and kill with the other?"
Furious, he threw lightning at his tormentor but the fire went inwards and he scorched both within and without. He roared as the other laughed and jumped, thinking of strangulation, but he only fell to the ground.
"Mercy…" he gasped and hot blood spilled from his burning lips. "Mercy…"
A pair of boots stepped into his view, shifted, then his vision was filled with black leather... and suddenly that angel/demon face gazed upon him.
"I like the Empire you've made, Lord Palpatine. Perhaps I shall rule over it. Think of that as you die, old man. Think that in the end, I took from you the one thing you ever cared about. In the end, you made your kingdom for me."
The life left the would-be Emperor, the great Sith Lord, in degrees. Even after his lungs had turned to ashes and there was no more breath to scream, he still lived. Even after the blood had boiled and his bones turned black, he still lived. He would have taken his own life if he had the power but the poison did not work that way. Instead he watched his body die - his eyes were the last thing to burn - and his soul went mad before the end.
It was a slow, painful, shameful death and his killer reveled in it until the very last ember had faded from the hollow eye-sockets.
The dead man had believed that only he knew about the hidden escape from the Chancellor's office.
He had been mistaken about so many things.
The one who had once been Palpatine's protégée navigated the maze easily, always moving swiftly, quickly, dodging fragmenting columns, leaping over split floors, and reaching the waiting vessel not a moment too soon. The mechanism that had held back the inferno below had failed, and as the Chancellor's nemesis slid into the cockpit, she could see the flames beneath the docking bay.
Seconds after the craft was in the air, the Dome collapsed onto itself.
Flying towards what would soon be the Imperial Palace, Padmé thought about what that Dome had stood for. Thought of what it had contained. Thought of what it had cost her. Thought of all three evaporating like smoke.
And a smile graced the new Empress's face.
"If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared."
---Niccolo Machiavelli (1469 - 1527)
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