Author's Note: After a long while, I have finally done one of these 50 1-sentence stories challenges. Thanks, Mathematica, for pointing me toward the theme sets. Choosing Darth Sidious for my subject allows me to span the trilogies as well as some of the histories, so that I can discuss other characters too.
Theme set beta
The dark path is long, like a journey when you were a child and highways lasted forever, but it is comforting as well, and you find yourself merging with the sound of the engines, falling asleep in the arms of your inability to do anything else except continue on.
Sword-fights are like dancing, but dancing is like subterfuge: the Dark Lord attends the politicians' parties and shows them a pleasant face.
When he was very young, he sat outside at night and wished that the stars would go out, so that they would not stare at him so, and would not bid his gaze fall so far into the depths of distance that he felt he might never be able to get it back.
He is surprised for a moment, as Luke walks up the throne room stairs and Sidious truly investigates the boy's Force sense, finding it to be clearer and yet more blinding then any he felt from the arrogance-blurred, complacent Jedi Order, and for a moment he is afraid that he has all along been, as they say, a large fish in a small pond.
"Do not worry about the losses at Geonosis, Dooku; everything required for victory" (including your death) "has been preplanned."
Revan must have had a macabre sense of humor, because at the entrance to his tomb there is a warn rock frieze of a man and a woman, happy looking into one another's eyes, and there are many fissures in its surface.
He looks out over the ranks of clones, the white snow-field of deadly men, and he is proud of them for what they have not yet done, for what the soft senators beside him do not know that they are going to do.
VIII. Whiskey and Rum
The Iridonian wine stains their teeth, but he gives it to his apprentice (not the first one, of course not the last one, but the Zabrak will do, he'll survive long enough) because it is guaranteed to be clean, unlike the water in the Works.
He bids Luke look at the firefly-melee of X-Wings and TIE fighters and capital ships (he could name them, but they don't matter, not in comparison to this battle fought with scraps of metal), and while they are beautiful, in a distant way, they are also useless to the true battle going on inside, like all beauty is useless.
Vader was in love once, Sidious sees, and so discounts entirely the redeeming power of that emotion.
He does not remember how old he is.
He deliberates over which name, Palpatine or Sidious, to think of himself as—whereas he feels little but residual pride about his murder of the giver of one name, Plageus, he feels less still for his parents, for they were apathetic.
He has no direct hand in Republic propaganda, but he is proud of those who are; beside all the pictures of Jedi and clones in bloodless battles or common citizens walking the streets of insert-name-of-your-planet-here are clever phrases about justice and glory and good, words which can sway anyone, no matter their morality.
He senses Darth Vader, ensconced in the cocoon which is the only place he can breathe, visit in his mind every star there ever was.
(But Sidious can only feel Vader's surface thoughts, and there are hints that they are only a façade, but he does not bother to plumb further, because surely the hidden thoughts are only the guilt-hollowed love that Vader feels for Padme.)
He thought that he had reached a pinnacle of artistry with the Zabrak's tattoos, but no—Vader is a finer specimen, even more indistinguishable from his mistakes.
He chooses to call himself Sidious in his thoughts, so that when he is called Palpatine by the masses he can grin at their ignorance and hold his secret tight to his just-as-secret heart.
As he looked out at the suspended spheres of water, festive trappings for the Mon Calamarian opera, Sidious realized how deliciously ironic it was that if only Anakin stopped and looked at the dancers he might see how the galaxy was, to Sidious' mind's eye, as choreographed as they were.
Darth Maul quietly savours the word 'revenge', and Darth Sidious savors how the apprentice will never receive it.
Yoda, he supposes, is his ultimate enemy, but Sidious has to admire the little alien's ability to hide his true self behind a wrinkled grin, a mask of mirth.
Darth Bane was a brutish young cur, but his Rule of Two has served Sidious well, has kept him hidden from the Jedi masses.
Sublimation, he learned when he was young, meant a process by which the negative emotions are used in socially positive ways, such as the creation of art, and he has justified himself with it ever since.
There is a line from one of the great works of Twi'lek literature: "Can the one who was born underground ever truly be able to appreciate the sky?"
Never, in the Senate, does he fantasize about changing in front of a political enemy's eyes, of showing them Sidious just enough to kill them by lightning—he keeps his worlds neat and separate, until the time is right.
And by the time he has quit the disguise, he has gained their trust enough that they will look at his wrinkled-by-arcane-magics face and trust him still.
Windu might have been a useful apprentice, almost-accepting of the dark side as he was, but Mace did not see the value of following orders as Anakin did; even as Sidious' insisted he shrivel and die, Mace tried to jump, whereas Anakin would even die on Sidious' terms, so that he could be reborn.
It's very funny, how the Jedi carry him through the Invisible Hand, how they don't think he can even walk for himself.
He does not respect Darth Plageus—he was always taught that one day, each Sith apprentice must kill their master—but he enjoyed learning how to fight with the lightsaber, and even more so he enjoyed their verbal bouts.
The crystal statuette on his desk is pushed to the floor as he and Yoda jump from the table to the rising Senate pod, and under the vicious hums of the lightsabers he can barely hear it shatter.
He notices that Senator Amidala does not applaud his coronation, and thinks pity that she was so weak as to take the side of justice.
Yes—I am what you fear; I devalue every moral that ever gained you praise .
Sorrow: that which he has felt only rarely, and before he was old enough to learn to change the world.
Darth Maul is so focused on revenge that Sidious feels there would be some lovely irony if the apprentice's death could be counted as such, and so the report he receives from the Jedi of Jinn's death and Kenobi's Trial makes him smile before he forces a public, morose expression.
Senator Amidala has soft Naboo classical music playing when Senator Palpatine enters her sitting room, and for a moment his heart is tugged toward loyalty to his homeworld—but no; it can be sacrificed, if only so that all the galaxy could be his.
"Not from a Jedi," and not from me.
Grievous' transformation leaves the medical center smattered with alien blood, dark like caramel, but it will clean up, it will pave the way for the next experiment.
Words are important; one of the Senate's great weaknesses, he thinks, is its clumsy, forced speakers that the people have come to expect.
Months after Order 66, Jedi are still trickling back to the Coruscant Temple, bravely or in secret, and just to celebrate he kills a few of them himself.
It is not that he does not tell his apprentices all that he knows, but that along with the true knowledge he tells them carefully crafted lies within lies, such as that he could and would have reason to save Amidala's life.
The enclave on Ilum, that icy offshoot of the Coruscant nexus, is late to learn of Order 66, but it too learns.
Sith alchemy surrounds him with serpents of corruption and writhing passion, and he is uncertain of whether they are physically present or just within his mind, just within the framework of his raging selfishness.
After his election to Senator he goes home to celebrate Life Day with his parents, and their conversation is so banal, so simple and boring, that he vows to tell them that he is too busy every subsequent year.
He knows that Maul is perhaps his simplest apprentice, but Sidious remembered how so much of ancient literature and architecture discusses the permanence of written words, the link between symbols (characters) and identity (character), and so he designs the old-Sith-inspired tattoos that Maul wears so that one almost feels they could be read like a jagged primitive language, if only one had knowledge of the runes and one of the apprentice's rare stillnesses in which to read them.
We are as humans always so near death, always affected by it even if we do not know how, that immortality as the light side to death's dark (or perhaps the other way around) fascinated him.
As Luke Skywalker's head rocks backward with the force of the lightning wracking his body and arcing in blue sparks between his teeth, Palpatine feels as if he is the only right thing in the entire metal Death Star, the only one ancient enough to deserve a place in the world, a forest untouched by man.
It is only now, just before he dies, that he realizes that the missing value in the grand equation was Tatooine, that he overlooked it so quickly, that the story has all along been of a boy reaching for the horizon and taking it.
He is not a pilot—he sends Vader to fight for him in areas such as he has never cared about, and knows that his TIE pilots tend to be expendable, and so he contemplates how very useful the squadron who destroyed the Death Star would be to his fleet.
The Empire will be beneficial for all, establishing order out of a rickety past, keeping the primitive and unpredictable aliens in their places—but he cannot bring himself to say it is for the "good" of the people—he is enjoying his power too much for that.
The Senate is shattering (neither he nor Anakin will need it any more), the cameras are darkened( blinded by lightning,) the holonet is oblivious (he rehearsed what he would tell them long ago), and the world is compressed into Yoda is falling at my feet at last, like a scrap of cloth, like a stuffed toy dressed by a child.
Vader once asked whether the Force was truly more powerful than something as imposing as the Death Star, and Sidious answered yes—but only now, at the end, as he fallsandfallsandfalls and the Skywalkers are laughing in his mind, does he really believe it.