Anything you recognise is either JK's, George's or Disney's. Anything else probably belongs to them too.
Palpatine audibly gasped as his newest apprentice died. The shock was as sudden as it was unexpected. Tyrannus had been tasked with orchestrating certain schemes from the background; he should not have been anywhere near anything remotely resembling a dangerous situation.
The visible reaction could have spelled ruination of his plans, as Palpatine was currently sitting within a metre of a Jedi Master. Fortunately, the Jedi in question had just given him some astonishing information that served perfectly well as cover for his momentary lapse in composure.
"My apologies, Master Mundi. Could you repeat that?"
The Jedi sighed. "I know how unlikely it sounds, but it is the unanimous conclusion of the Jedi Council. The human named Harry is from the future."
"An impossibility, surely?" Palpatine replied, not having to fake the note of worry in his voice as he used a meditative technique to bring his heart rate and breathing back to normal levels.
"To our current understanding, yes. But the Jedi are not so proud as to believe we know everything, Chancellor."
Palpatine paled. The humility turned the Sith's stomach, but that was not the reason his sudden pallor. That was due solely to a terrifying epiphany that shattered his control over his reactions.
If Potter was from the future, then he must know of the Great Plan. He knew who Darth Sidious was.
It had never been Sidious' intention to keep his identity a secret after the Jedi were obliterated. Once he controlled the entire galaxy there would be no need.
That decision had been made on the hitherto reasonable assumption that time travel was impossible.
As shattering as the revelation was, it was not the time to meditate upon it. He desperately needed to pull his attention back to the meeting.
"Were such a claim to come from any other source, I would have difficulty in giving it credence," he offered; a neutral statement, making no claim of belief or denial.
Mundi sighed. "It took the entire Council many weeks of deliberation before we finally reached this consensus."
Palpatine leaned forward. "What impact will this have on the galaxy? Are we doomed to a failure of temporal continuity? I must confess that I am not fully cognizant of the theoretical consequences of time travel."
The Jedi sighed and spread his hands. "We do not know. There are many theories, but no way to test them. His presence may have no impact on the galaxy, or it may fundamentally change our entire future. However, given the number of Jedi who died at the instant of his arrival, I would hazard that his presence has already had a great impact on the galaxy."
"I see. Forgive my candour, but I can't imagine you brought this fantastical story to me for no reason. You require my assistance."
"I do," Mundi admitted. "I cannot in good conscience allow the Jedi to adopt a passive stance towards this man. His presence presents a risk to the entire galaxy that needs to be mitigated."
Palpatine crowed inwardly, delighted that the Jedi were fracturing over the matter. He decided to adopt a neutral initial position to see how far into illegality Mundi would commit himself. "Surely you are not condoning murder? Despite the enigma of his origins, he is still afforded all the rights and protections of any sentient being."
"Not even if letting him remain free threatens the entire galaxy? I cannot allow that!" Mundi declared. The Jedi narrowed his eyes, and he glared suspiciously at Palpatine. "I am aware that he is intimate with a Nabooan Minister. Surely you are not blinded to the danger he poses simply because he is favoured by one of your people?"
Palpatine blinked at the unexpected paranoia on display. In his experience, Mundi had been, up to now, a thoughtful, unemotive Jedi. "Of course not, Master Jedi," he said placatingly and with complete honesty.
The Sith Lord had organised for the Nabooan Senate suite to have an explosive accident should Potter ever visit again, but it would not do for the Jedi to discover that.
"But you will not help me," Mundi almost snarled.
Fearing that he was about to lose the confidence of a Jedi on the verge of falling to the dark, he raised his hands in a conciliatory manner. "I cannot unilaterally strip a sentient being of his rights, however," he held up a hand in the face of Mundi's rising anger, "with his obvious Force abilities, it may be possible to adjust matters so that he is regarded to be under the auspices of the Jedi Temple."
Mundi's expression softened quickly. "You mean…"
"I mean, if the relevant legislation could be amended to define Captain Harry as a Force user operating under the Jedi, any action you take against him will be considered – legally – an internal Jedi matter."
"I see. That could work. Thank you."
"You are welcome, Master Mundi. However, I fear I must warn you that changing such established law so abruptly will be difficult. I would suggest that the amendment be presented by a Senator with close ties to your Order to stall any immediate objections. And while I shall do my best, I may also require your assistance to convince other Senators of the necessity."
The Jedi nodded. "I understand. I shall do what is necessary."
"Splendid. I am always pleased to be of assistance to the protectors of the Republic. If you will excuse me, I now have an amendment to draft and a candidate to select to present it during the next session. With your assistance, you will be free to act against Harry as you deem necessary before the end of the next Senate session."
As the Jedi thanked him profusely, Palpatine smiled genially. While changing long-standing laws would be difficult, it would be the Jedi and their allies spending their political capital to do so, not him. And the outcomes would be well worth his miniscule effort.
Potter's continued existence would fracture the Jedi further, as those who championed a more conciliatory approach clashed with those who favoured neutralizing the man. And the Jedi would be taking the risks associated with attacking him; a good thing, given the shortage of Sith at present. The Jedi would also be blamed for any collateral damage Potter caused while fending off their attacks.
Yes, this would work well to Palpatine's advantage.
After the customary farewells, the Jedi bowed and turned to leave. The action gave Palpatine a view of a vivid yellow patch on the back of Mundi's elongated head. The Sith frowned as he stared at the Jedi Master's head until he had exited the office. The sight was… oddly familiar.
With a flash of recollection, he suddenly recognised the symptom, though had no idea what could possibly have caused it.
The Sith had thousands of years of research and experience turning Force users to the dark side. Some of the most powerful Sith in history were Jedi who had been turned from the light. There were innumerable methods to accomplish that; torture and abuse, philosophy and rhetoric, deceit and indoctrination, even chemical and pharmaceutical. It had only taken a few weeks for Sidious to turn Dooku, using little more than words, some dark side instruction in Force usage, and building on the dissatisfaction and frustration his former apprentice had for the Jedi Order.
Some Sith techniques worked well on all beings, some worked better on specific groups. Some worked on a specific phylum, some on a single species.
One of the more esoteric methods that only worked on male Cerean Force users involved the manipulation of a certain enzyme. On mundane members of the species, it did nothing but harmlessly alter the skin pigmentation. On Force sensitive Cerean males however, in addition to the unsightly sub-dermal stain, it cumulatively induced paranoia and suspicion, building over several weeks.
Due to the limited pool of potential victims and the length of time it took to deploy, the technique itself had been of intellectual interest only to Sidious' late, unlamented Master. The fact that there were more reliable, faster and more subtle techniques available meant that it had not been successfully deployed against a non-research-subject during the period of the Rule of Two.
Palpatine had not considered using it on Mundi himself, even when the Jedi had first been elevated to the Council. Mundi spent most of his time ensconced within the Jedi Temple, well protected from any such long-term tactics.
And yet, somehow, someone had deployed it against the Jedi Council member. Who, and to what purpose, the Sith Lord had no idea.
Could it be… Potter? Could the one man be behind the attacks on both the Jedi and the Sith?
If Potter was from the future and knew of the Great Plan, then he undoubtedly knew the principal participants. If he wished to derail the plan, the most expedient method would be to simply inform the Jedi of Palpatine's alter-ego.
But he had not. That meant that either he did not know of the Great Plan, or that he did not wish to derail it. Or at least, not yet.
Following that line of thought, Palpatine noted that to date, the man had only disrupted a handful of the Sith's schemes. Although some of his actions had, undeniably, advanced Sidious' agenda, especially those involving weakening the Jedi. Potter's actions that had damaged the Sith all centred around Sidious' apprentices.
Maul's death had been a blow, but it had not been an insurmountable loss. It had been his constant interventions preventing Skywalker from interacting with Sidious that thoroughly angered him. Only Tyrannus had been…
Could Potter have killed Tyrannus?
The Jedi Jinn had been dispatched to Pantora; the blockade being one of the projects Tyranus was supposed to be overseeing. The secondary goal was to have Anakin witness Jinn's inability to solve the issue. With the communications cut and the planet blockaded, there should have been no way to call for help. However, if the boy had managed to get a message through the communications block, it was entirely possible for Potter to be there. If issues with the project had caused Dooku to make a personal appearance, and the two faced off against each other…
Through the Force, Sidious sensed the veracity of the theory. He slammed his fist down on his desk. Potter killing one apprentice, that could be chance. Two apprentices, that was coincidence.
But three? Directly removing three apprentices from Sidious' grasp was neither chance nor coincidence. It was enemy action.
There was nothing recognisable in the deranged mind of the female who had arrived with Potter, but logic dictated that Potter knew the identity of Darth Sidious. That was disastrous. With his future knowledge, the only positive from the Sith's perspective was that Potter was actively working against the Jedi. Even if he was not antagonistic with a few.
Palpatine frowned. What was Potter's purpose? What was his end game? Why would he weaken the entire Order, yet curry favour with a handful of Jedi? Individuals with little power or influence at that? A retired has-been, a career police officer, and an unexceptional Padawan reportedly not ready for his Trial.
Potter had amassed an enormous fortune by shattering a galactic crime syndicate still weak from Sidious' own attack. Had he destroyed the Black Sun because they were a threat to him in the future? Or had he simply used them as the most readily available source of credits?
He had taken Skywalker under his wing, just as Sidious had hoped to. He had killed the leadership of the most wide-spread criminal syndicate, just as Sidious had. He had cowed the underworld, showing no hesitation in killing a powerful Hutt, nor any remorse, just like Sidious.
Whatever his motivations, he could now finance almost any project short of world-building. He could even bankroll a campaign to a Senate seat with a reasonable chance at success.
He swallowed, his mouth suddenly very dry. Was that it? Was Potter positioning himself to take control of the galaxy?
Such a goal was hardly unique. Many had tried in the past, some had even succeeded by certain metrics of their time. But if Potter was planning to do so by usurping the Sith's plan…
Sidious growled, deep in his chest. No, it would not happen. He would not allow it. But if Potter knew of the future, then Sidious needed to make unexpected moves. Moves that he could not have made had Potter not appeared.
He tapped a screen and decrypted the latest report from Kamino. Though now out of his reach, the woman who had arrived with Potter had imparted knowledge during her regular interrogations. The 'ritual' gleaned from her mind would take a few months to prepare, but that would do nicely. It would certainly be unexpected.
The newly Knighted Obi-wan Kenobi took the controls of the transport as it exited hyperspace. The vista looked disturbingly familiar.
"Oh dear. The Trade Federation. They've blockaded another planet," he murmured.
In the seat next to him, Tera Sinube harrumphed. "Ahem, yes indeed. And once again they have lost control of the situation. I wonder what drove them to take this course of action. It cannot possibly help them in their disputes with the Republic."
Obi-wan frowned as he glanced at one of the screens next to him. "There is a short-range distress signal… coming from the Controller Station itself. That's odd."
"Hmm, unusual indeed. Surely a ship of that class would have a sub-space distress beacon. Why would it need to use a distress signal with such a limited range, I wonder?"
Obi-wan turned to face the older Jedi. "What if the communications were not disrupted by the Trade Federation, but rather by another party?"
"Hmm, a possibility, yes. In any event, it has been a while since I retired, but protocol still dictates that we respond, yes?"
"Indeed, Master Sinube," Obi-wan replied, with a twitch of his lips.
The Cosian waved a hand, flipping a distant switch with the Force, activating the communications terminal. "This is Jedi Master Tera Sinube and Jedi Knight Obi-wan Kenobi. How may we assist?"
There was a pause before the comm lit up with a holo in response. "Master Jedi! Please help!" the holographic Nemoidian begged.
Sinube leaned forward. "That is our intention. What seems to be the trouble?"
"There is a rogue droid loose on the station! It is destroying everything!"
"Hmm," Sinube hummed, sounding thoughtful. "One of your battle droids?"
"No!" the hologram wailed. "This droid is not one of ours!"
"Do you not have battle droids for protection?"
"They are malfunctioning!" the Nemoidian moaned. "Everything on this cursed station is malfunctioning! Please, help me, I beg of you!"
Obi-wan cleared his throat. "The rogue droid you mention, is it approximately two metres tall, humanoid, with a silver body and a rust-coloured head? With a particularly violent protocol suite?"
"Yes! You know of it?"
The Jedi shared a glance. "We've met the droid's… owner," Obi-wan supplied. "Please release a docking bay and we will do all we can to assist."
Sinube watched silently as the medical droid efficiently prepared the corpse of the late (and former) Jedi Master for transport. Harry had barely given the remains a glance before giving Sinube permission to take them back to the Jedi Temple. He had then departed the medical bay, off to trigger whatever mayhem his presence would no doubt cause.
Harry's proclivity for inadvertent chaos was not Sinube's primary concern, however. The fact that a deeply respected (ex-)Jedi Master had turned to the Sith would be a metaphorical thermal detonator to the Jedi. The cracks in the leadership may not break the close ties among the Council, but it was far more likely that the Jedi hierarchy would shatter.
That Dooku had renounced his rank immediately after the Zabrak Sith had died logically meant that he had been the new apprentice to the shadowy Sith Master. It meant that the Sith were prepared to, and capable of, subverting experienced Jedi Masters. Something so unthinkable that Sinube imagined many other Masters would not accept the claim.
Sinube also had no doubt that the unknown Sith Lord would use that disbelief to sway another selected Jedi to his side.
With a deep sigh, he turned from Dooku's remains and hobbled over to where the children lay. Giving a small grunt of amusement, the Cosian Master raised his walking stick and jabbed the end into Anakin's leg. "You can stop pretending to be asleep, young man."
Anakin's eyes opened immediately. "How did you know I was awake?"
Sinube settled down into a nearby chair. "Your emotions gave you away. You heard the conversation I had with Captain Harry. I could feel your reactions quite clearly. You were surprised by his reasons."
Anakin swallowed, then nodded. "Yeah."
"Captain Harry described you as obsessively distraught over the death you caused," he stated.
The lad nodded.
"May I ask why? I don't imagine that you have never seen death before, especially with your childhood experiences."
Anakin's face drooped, and he remained silent.
Sinube reached out and patted his leg. "You do not need to confide in me. But I would suggest that you tell Qui-Gon. He has an attentive ear."
"I-I'm not… I saw… something," Anakin stammered.
Sinube remained silent, letting the Padawan formulate his words.
"I had a vision. I think. When the Sith cut my arm, I mean."
"What did you see?" the Jedi asked, no doubt or disbelief in his tone.
Anakin swallowed audibly. "He should have cut it off," he whispered.
Sinube blinked. "Your arm? You – mostly – avoided the blow."
Anakin nodded. "Yeah. He should have… I saw him cut it off. I think. It all happened so quickly, but because I backed off, now everything is different."
The Jedi Master leaned forward. "You had a vision? And by your own choice, you prevented it from coming to pass?"
Anakin shrugged. "I don't know. I guess."
"Hmm, interesting. Visions come to the Jedi on occasion. I understand that this would not be your first. I understand that you had a vision of your mother's abduction as it occurred. It seems that you have a notable talent. However, Jedi can also occasionally see possible futures. It seems that the Force was warning against your action, as was Captain Harry. I am pleased you listened. Many do not." He snorted softly. "Perhaps too many."
"Maybe," Anakin said, unconvinced.
Sinube tapped Anakin's forearm with his stick. "Should you ever need to remind yourself of the benefits of thinking actions through, you need only look down at this hand."
Anakin flexed the fingers on his hand. "I guess."
"Your connection to the Force is extraordinary, young man. To experience a vision of such clarity in the middle of a stressful situation… is remarkable." Sinube leaned forward slightly. "However, that does not explain your distress at the death of someone attempting to kill you."
"I just… I also saw darkness… if the Sith died."
Sinube took a slow breath. "Can you describe the darkness you saw?"
Anakin's face scrunched up as though he was in pain. "I don't know! It was just darkness everywhere… across the galaxy! All because I killed him. It was horrible. Everything bad happened all because I killed him."
"Ah, I see."
"Really?" Anakin asked, hope and disbelief mingling in his voice.
Sinube waved his stick. "You are not the first Padawan to have experienced a vision of darkness. It can be a distressing experience. However, while the Sith's death may well lead to the darkness you saw, I can categorically say that your singular action will not be responsible."
Sinube held up a hand. "Such pervasive darkness cannot come about because of a single action by a child, no matter how talented. The entire Jedi Order, every Master and Knight, would need to repeatedly fail in their duty for darkness to encompass the galaxy."
Anakin paused for a moment, before nodding. "Okay."
The old Jedi leaned back. "That's not to say we would not need your insights. Should you have any further visions of this darkness, I would suggest that you inform Qui-Gon immediately. From your brief description, it sounds quite unappealing."
Anakin's lips twitched. "Yeah. I guess."
"Good. Now, I know you overheard Captain Harry's reasons for killing the Sith. What are your thoughts?"
"He said that he didn't want me to have a death on my conscience."
Sinube sighed. "Not what he said; I was there too. What do you think about his motivations?"
"I think he was wrong. He didn't even try to save the Sith. It would have been better to at least have tried."
"An answer that does you credit. Undoubtedly, it would have been better to try, at least from the perspective of the Jedi. But Captain Harry comes from a vastly different culture and has lived, - even thrived – through circumstances that few people could hope to survive. He was born into war, sold into slavery, then fought and killed as a child. And, as you heard, was then abandoned by his people. Someone who experiences such events cannot be expected to have the same ideals as a Jedi."
Anakin frowned briefly. "Master Qui-Gon says that the Jedi need to make the right choices, even if they're hard."
Sinube nodded. "Yes. However, you should consider that the Jedi are able to act altruistically because we have the backing of thousands of fellow Knights, along with the patronage of millions of worlds. We have the luxury to choose a difficult but correct course of action over an easy but wrong one specifically because we have immense support.
"Captain Harry had no such luxuries. His actions are born of efficient, brutal necessity, but I have seen no evidence that he takes joy, or even pride, in killing."
"HK does," the lad groused.
The old Jedi chuckled. "True. That droid has a rather infamous history among the Jedi, though the records are incomplete. You would do well to review the data package our esteemed librarian compiled. In any event, Captain Harry's actions are a direct result of his experiences. The mistakes he made during his childhood haunt him, but with time, I believe he can be convinced that he does not need to act with such… irrevocability."
"What mistakes? He didn't say anything like that when I travelled with him."
Sinube rose and patted the lad on his shoulder above the wound. "Perhaps you should ask him yourself. In the meantime, you should ponder his reasons for acting as he did. He values your friendship, and I would be hesitant to sever ties with him over an event that you both wish had not occurred. Who knows? Perhaps you will be the one to convince him to act in a more measured manner."