Birth of the Sith

Prologue

The world of Tatooine was harsh and unforgiving. Its sands buried the brave and foolish alike.

The woman now wandering its desert wastes didn't think of herself as either.

She wasn't in the desert by choice.

She wasn't even on this planet by choice.

If she had a choice, she never would have come to this planet; she'd still be on—

A strange feeling came over her as she realized she could no longer remember the name of her home planet. It was almost sadness, but it had been so long that the feeling shifted quickly to anger.

She hated her parents, even though she knew they didn't deserve it. She hated that they'd decided to take that journey to the Outer Rim and she hated the pirates that had enslaved them. She hated each and every world she'd been forced to travel to and she hated each and every one of her masters. She hated those who treated her cruelly, but she hated those who were kind to her even more, for not one of them had ever been so kind as to free her or to at least see to it that she was sold to another 'kind' owner.

And in that desert, she clung to that anger—she clung to her spite and anger.

Because she was alone in the galaxy, a slave since she was six, and there was no apparent chance of ever being free. If she escaped this desert, she would only find herself in the hands of a master who thought of her as no more than property.

Anger was the only thing that kept her going anymore.

But anger alone would not be enough.

She knew that.

Maybe a part of her even accepted that.

She hadn't been well fed in years. The clothing she'd been given by her previous master was not suited to the harshness of a desert. She hadn't had any water to drink in more than a day.

She was going to die.

Part of her raged futilely against that knowledge—the part that allowed her to keep moving forward.

And part of her didn't care. She was tired. She hadn't seen her family in decades and the last time she had, they'd also been slaves. For all she knew, they were dead. As a slave, she could lay claim to nothing—everything she had belonged to her masters. She didn't believe in anything. She'd never had a husband and would never be allowed to choose one of her own will. She'd only rarely had friends.

She pushed onwards on anger alone, just as she always had, but there was nothing waiting for her at the end of her journey.

If she died in this desert right now, the only person in the entire universe that would care was her newest master—because of the loss of a slave.

She knew that, of course. She'd known since she turned eight and had been first sold from one master to another, leaving her sobbing mother behind.

Anger kept her moving, but she wasn't going anywhere.

If she gave up now and died in the sand, it would just mean she'd die free, rather than as a slave.

Maybe that was a better death.

Then why did she keep moving?

She had no answer to that question.

She refused to even acknowledge it.

Instead, she buried it deep inside and tried her hardest not to think about it, because if she did, she'd realize she had nothing to live for and probably never would, and that would be worse than dying.

But no matter her wishes…she'd never really had a choice in her own fate, had she?

Less than two hours later, she fell.

The last thing she saw before she fell unconscious was a pair of dark figures, slowly approaching.

XxXXxX

As the pair reached the fallen woman's side, one knelt by her side and moved one hand to her neck.

"She's alive." He said. "But she won't be for long, Master."

The standing figure looked down at both the woman and his apprentice with cold, yellow eyes.

"Her condition is unimportant. Tell me what you see when you look at her."

The Apprentice's eyes shifted back to the woman.

"Human female. Over one and a half meters in height. Brown hair, brown eyes, approximate age of thirty. She is unused to this planet's climate; probable off-worlder, but I can't identify her planet of origin."

He fell silent, then, awaiting his Master's judgment with carefully disguised discomfort.

The Master knew it was there anyway, and held his silence for a few moments longer, dragging it out.

"What else?"

The Apprentice wanted to ask 'What else?' but knew that choice to be a mistake. Instead, he simple turned his eyes to the woman again.

It took him several moments to understand what his master wanted from him.

"She's a slave." He realized, looking at her callous hands, her clothing, and the harshness of her features and taking into account her being an off-worlder. The master made a vague sound that could have been either agreement or disagreement, but continued to watch his apprentice carefully. The apprentice, for his part, lost himself in his thoughts.

It was unlikely someone as…poor looking as her would have been able to find or afford a transport to the Outer Rim, except at the will of another, and they were now in Hutt territory.

There were other options, but slave was the most likely.

And with that answer came a dozen more questions.

Even so, the apprentice pondered his words carefully. It would not yet due to anger his master, even in a minor way.

"I apologize, Master," He said finally. "I do not understand."

His master briefly closed his eyes in resigned disappointment. He adopted that look when ever he'd expected his apprentice to fail and he did.

The younger of the pair quickly suppressed his anger.

He'd seen that look a lot.

"She's the one." His master said.

The Apprentice quickly turned to look back at the fallen woman, not trusting his self-control to keep his sudden shock and dawning horror off his face.

After pretending to observe the woman for a minute and carefully bringing himself under control, he risked the question.

"May I ask why you have chosen her, my Master?" He said, before, after quick deliberation, risking an attempt to dissuade him. "She is but an old slave; weak and feeble and ignorant of the Force. She is as dirty to us."

It lacked any subtly and he silently cursed himself for that lack, but this was an emergency.

Lives were at stake.

The most important of which being his own.

But the master merely glanced at him in amusement for his remark.

"And I will into the dirt and create life."

The master knelt by his apprentice and laid a hand on the woman's stomach.

Even so, his eyes remained on his subordinate.

"She is nothing; a nobody from a world that has no importance. And for this reason, I have chosen her and we shall see what manner of being I am able to bring forth from the dirt."

In contrast to his grandiose words, nothing visible happened.

But both Master and Apprentice knew better than to rely on their eyes. They could feel in the force that something was happening.

More so, they knew exactly what it was.

The Master stood.

"Come, my apprentice. There is nothing further for us to do in this place."

With those words, Darth Plagueis turned and walked away, feeling no concern for the lives he'd just shaken.

Darth Sidious watched his master leave before turning back to the woman. He wanted to kill her now, but knew that it would do nothing but spell his own end. He could not yet defeat his Master and so he dared not so thwart his plans.

But this weak, fallen slave woman was now the greatest threat to his life that he had ever known. If his Master's plans came to head, there would be no further use for him; he would die and be replaced by the being that had just been created.

He did his best to memorize her face, for soon he would leave and would have no way of tracking her down. Even trying to memorize her features was likely futile, but…

He had no other way available to him. Soon he would be gone and she would mix back into the population of this world. And after he left, there would be no way of knowing where she would be; she might even leave this world.

He would probably never see her again.

Which was likely what his Master had in mind.

He suddenly calmed, knowing exactly what he had to do. He couldn't kill this woman, but he had nine months to prepare himself.

Perhaps he couldn't stop what was to come, but he could ensure his master wasn't alive to see it.

When Shmi Skywalker awoke, she was alone and filled energy. She should have been dead, she knew, and why she was not, she could not say. Even so, she rose to her feet and continued walking.

In nine months, she would give birth to a son named Anakin; a boy without a father.