Author's note: Huge thanks goes to Cariel for beta reading this for me!
Disclaimer: Not mine. None of it.
The strangeness of harmony
It wasn't often that he had the chance or time to partake of such indulgences, at least not anymore. But on this extremely rare occasion, the opportunity availed itself, leaving Emperor Palpatine unable to resist. Closing his eyes, Darth Sidious breathed deeply as though drinking in the powerful and rich music that filled the acoustically designed room. It was sheer bliss and for a moment, he allowed himself to do something he hadn't done in years: lose himself in the music.
Taking a sip from the tea cup that rested in his hand, which was filled with a potent mixture of root milk and toxic tea leaves that would kill an ordinary man, he gave a peaceful sigh of contentment. A more peaceful moment, he couldn't have asked for if he tried.
The music began with a militant sort of beginning, the tribal sound of drums that slowly blended into a lovely combination of wood instruments that acted like the voice of the song itself. To the emperor, it was as though he was listening to the beginning of an epic tale. Not just any tale, but his own.
The song progressed with a rising crescendo that didn't belie the hint of desperation and an edge of haunting uncertainty, reminding him of his younger days when he was an apprentice to Darth Plagueis the Wise. Life had been so different and so clouded during those days, but it was all in the past now, as was the time for hiding in the shadows while plotting the demise of his enemies.
As if on cue, the elegant music shifted from its more militant roots, to something far more primal. The drums immediately took over giving the atmosphere around him, an almost tribal feel, as its powerful beats echoed off the walls. Altering the dark tendrils that decorated the blackened room for which only a Force sensitive could both witness and appreciate.
Through the Force the Sith Master watched as the tendrils of the dark side melded and intertwined as though permitting the music to guide it. It was as beautiful as it was deadly, adding to Palpatine's peaceful mood as he sipped of his tea, watching the ethereal patterns form before his eyes.
But soon the memories returned and with them the Force began to further to mimic images of the past. Suddenly he was witnessing the silhouetted form of a young man driving his lightsaber through the heart of a woman who threatened stray him away from the Dark side. A single kiss was shared between them in those final moments, Palpatine's first –her last and then it was done.
The music quickened once again and soon it was his master, Darth Plagueis, who was falling to his blade. With a strike across his throat and the old man was gone without even knowing or truly registering his demise. Plagueis had always been too careless and too arrogant in Sidious's mind and that moment of triumph confirmed it. A hint of a triumphant smile crept across the emperor's deformed features at the memory as he took another sip of his tea.
While this was by far one of the more defining moments of his life, it certainly wasn't his crowning glory. Closing his eyes once more, he breathed in the music. He couldn't help recalling, with some hint of disgust, the irony of how all of this could not have come to pass if it hadn't been for Anakin's assistance.
When it came to irony, his apprentice, Lord Vader, was the unwitting master.
Sidious always knew that, one day, he would become the master of the one the Jedi praised as The Chosen One. He couldn't say how, with the Order's supposed wisdom and intelligence, they would fall prey to the worship of a mortal idol, but he certainly wasn't complaining. After all, it made his job easier. The Jedi Order's pride and denial of attachments proved to be their greatest weakness and it was Darth Sidious who didn't hesitate to exploit to the fullest.
Opening his eyes, the Sith Master returned to watching as the music worked its way through the blackened tendrils of the Force. Now, tribal-like images of a young man and an older one twisted to life before his eyes, causing Palpatine frown. While Qui-Gon Jinn was a fool, Kenobi was not. Though Palpatine was still able to convince Anakin to depart from the light side, there were many times when the Jedi Master almost brought him back; too many times, in fact, for the Sith Master's liking. But in the end—as the even music seemed to portend with its powerful tribal drums beating to a tune that reminded him of victory—Anakin proved to be a most worthy candidate to uphold the mantel of the Sith.
It was just a shame the man-child was such an idiot.
The music softened then, as though reprimanding him for having such thoughts, causing Palpatine in turn to sigh softly. In truth, Anakin's foolishness proved to be both advantageous and annoying. Had it not been for the fact he was so gullible, the former Jedi would have never fallen prey to his tutelage. Yet at the same time, Sidious couldn't deny that he had come to have a whole new sense of respect for Master Kenobi's patience. Never in his life had he ever been more tested in this area as he was with Darth Vader.
The boy served his purpose and had it not been for his unadulterated rage and lust for power, Order 66 would not have been possible. Even now, the music seemed to mimic the memories that danced in his thoughts. Perhaps it was the other way around. Tendrils of the dark side twisted and turned taking on the forms of the dying, young and old, masters and younglings, who fell to Darth Vader's blade.
Through the Force, Sidious could still hear the satisfying sound of their soul's requiems, crying out to the heavens before their prayers were silenced forever by Vader's blade. Though most would have regarded this to be the greatest of his personal achievements, Palpatine knew that this was nothing more than reward for his patience and many years of hard work. The same could be said of the alliance formed between the self righteous Jedi Order and himself, nevermind the amount of work put into hiding his true identity and Force sensitivity from them.
He smirked then still recalling the sense of shock felt from the members of the Council that had come to arrest him. Though they knew this to be truth, being witness to the sight of their Supreme Chancellor drawing his crimson lightsaber was enough to distract them all, save one. But then Master Windu, like Kenobi, was no fool. It was just a shame that, like Anakin's former mentor, Windu could not be swayed.
Even so, Palpatine knew the moment his young apprentice came racing into his office with the intent of stopping Master Windu, his moment of victory had come. There would be no turning back and though he despised the thought of having to play the helpless fool, Sidious knew it was necessary and that this too was well worth the risk taken. The same could be said of his decision to send Lord Vader to tend to the Separatists on Mustafar, despite knowing the inevitable demise that awaited him.
Like the music that was now drawing to a close with its pulsating, crescendo of drumbeats, everything was about timing and Sidious knew he couldn't have chosen it better if he had tried.
That, in and of itself, was his true moment of glory.
Just being able to watch as years of work fell into place without a single beat missed reminded him so much of the many symphonies he enjoyed upon occasion. Though Palpatine was hardly a man of musical skill, he believed that he had a fair understanding of it. It was meant to change one's mindset, to take them to another time and place, to ease one's sorrow or calm one's anger. Music also had the power to create emotions where there was none, or take away when there was too much. Palpatine prided himself for bearing similarities to the composer's who crafted and wielded this benign power.
The downfall of the Republic, the Jedi Order and their sacred Chosen One was like the symphony he had been listening to, but had now since drawn to an end. Each event and occurrence, no matter how big or how small, was a note played, a piece necessary for the completion and construction of the masterpiece. Like a well-crafted piece of music, there was no room for flaws, miscalculated timing, or mistakes. Even the smallest loss would take away from its perfection. The creation of his Empire was without hesitation, mistakes, or miscalculation, and thus was, in his opinion, perfection in its truest form.
With this thought, the emperor silently finished the last of his tea before giving a contented sigh. Though his work was far from done, Palpatine was pleased to say that already, it was paying off. With Lord Vader well on his way to becoming a fully trained Sith Lord and the Rebel's on the verge of their demise, Darth Sidious was confident that his greatest masterpiece would unveil a new era. In time, the entire galaxy would become his empire, the most powerful and successful government in recorded history.
In his gloating, the Sith Master forgot one important fact: empires, like a symphony, not only have beginnings, but endings as well. His Empire was far closer to its own ending than anyone could have possibly guessed.