Ten years later, a few weeks after the battle of Geonosis
Ducking into a side-alley Alamys Jorka was very cool. He could hear his pursuers shouting and cursing, a clear sign that they were far from professional. All the better for him. Jogging along the street, always keeping in the shadows of Alamar's blue light, he was already playing out the different options of escape. Space-worthy ships were scarce on Tyreena, and after Count Dooku's death the port of Tyra City itself would be closed down. Even an imbecile such as whoever led the security forces here was would think of that. So Alamys would have nearly no choice other than to lie low for a while. Unfortunately that would not do either. Once Sidious learned that the count was dead, he would undoubtedly have Tyreena searched with greater care and accuracy. He would find the Jedi Master. There was no doubt about that.
"Halt! Who goes there?" a male voice called out, and Alamys stopped dead in his tracks to peer at the figure ahead. From the man's stance he could tell that the stranger was more afraid of him than anything else in this street.
"Go about your own business," Alamys retorted good-naturedly and made to walk past the stranger. That one seemed to have been listening to the distant ruckus in the city-center, for he reached out to put a restraining hand on Alamys' shoulder. "Let go," the Jedi Master ordered softly.
"What happened back there?"
"The off-worlder who came to negotiate for supplies for his soldiers has been murdered, evidently," Alamys sighed.
The stranger gave a low chuckle. "Evidently? Then you must know who did it."
"Of course I know. It was me," he answered menacingly.
"Good for you," the stranger whispered. "We do not need mercenary soldiers feeding off our crops. Not with what is happening out there."
"A pacifist on Tyreena," Alamys joked. "Why am I so surprised? You folk usually keep to yourselves, as long as no one bothers you."
The stranger hesitated briefly, then took his hand away at last. "You may be right about that. But not everyone thinks that way. My uncle always wrote letters home, and he made us see a lot of things more clearly."
"Your uncle went off-world? Another exception then," Alamys scoffed. He did not want to linger and converse with a stranger, but something held him back.
"He was a Jedi Master."
It took Alamys Jorka a few moments until he managed: "A Jedi Master? How - unusual."
"He vanished years ago, on Corellia," the stranger explained wistfully. "I wish I could have met him. But," he continued sternly, "we should not hang around here for too long. I'll get you out of the city, if you can trust one enlightened pacifist?"
"I think I can about manage that," Alamys answered faintly. Perhaps the Force was with him after all. His cool had vanished in the matter of heart-beats, and now he let that stranger lead him through Tyra City's streets, realizing how much his home world had changed after all.
"There's a freight port close to where I live," the man explained suddenly. "We see to it that you can catch a ride from there tonight. Got to check the schedules back home at the farm, though."
"A good idea. I'd appreciate it."
"That I'm sure of!" the farmer exclaimed and clapped a hand on Alamys' back amiably. The Jedi Master winced despite himself, but was relieved to notice that the friendly gesture would leave nothing worse than a bruise. "My name's Alvey Alnour, by the way," the man continued.
"A nice name," Alamys whispered, but said no more.
He could not say more, not if he wanted to endanger his - nephew? Amerie had married a man named Soreen Alnour. They had had only one child, a son, he recalled, before Soreen died in an accident. Suddenly he realised that he had not heard anything from his family in years. He had ceased writing letters one day, he remembered, and had committed himself fully to his service to the order. He had known they'd understand. They had been too proud of their famous brother not to accept it. But now, as he climbed into the back of Alvey Alnour's battered speeder, he wondered what had become of his brothers, of Amerie.
"It's okay if you want to remain anonymous," Alvey said conversationally. "As long as you know that I won't tell the authorities a thing."
"If you did, you'd be a dead man," Alamys breathed.
"Aye, probably," his nephew mused thoughtfully.
They spent the rest of the ride in silence, and Alamys shook his head in disbelief when he found that they encountered neither patrols not control-points anywhere. Definitely amateurs. But soon, soon Sidious would send someone to investigate. He winced again, this time in anticipation of what might befall Tyreena. He was leaving chaos and suffering wherever he went, it seemed. Gazing out of the speeder's window, his eyes troubled, Alamys suddenly felt something he'd not felt for years: guilt. And that feeling deepened once they had reached Alnour's farm.
"Bera and the lads'll be asleep already," the farmer said softly. "But I'd ask you to be quiet nevertheless. It's been a hard day for the whole family. We have to get the seeds planted before the rains come."
It was the man's so ordinary worry that reminded Alamys of what he was fighting for, in truth, of what he should have thought of back when he had made his grand plans of destroying Sidious. This wasn't about revenge, or noble ideals. It was about the future of such people as Alvey Alnour, nephew to a Jedi Master, a farmer, a pacifist. They were what mattered. Alvey bade him to sit down in the kitchen and went to brew some hot Jeha tea for both of them. Meanwhile, Alamys began to scrutinise the kitchen's interior. There was not much to see. A farmer's kitchen, practical and simple. But then he noticed the glint of gold at the door, like a yellow sun in the gloom. A shiver ran down his back when he remembered sitting in this very kitchen on his sister's lap, listening to her telling folk-tales to her younger brothers. He had been born in this house! But Amerie had moved in with her husband, when she'd married, and Parell, the Jorka's oldest son, had inherited the family farm ...
Alvey, who seemed to have noticed his bewilderment, handed him a mug of tea, then sat down beside him on the bench by the oven and nodded toward the door. "When my uncle was made Jedi Master he sent a gold medallion to each of his siblings. My mother was always very proud of that. She hung it on the door personally, saying it'd protect us. When he vanished she said it should remain there, because it always reminded her of him. She sat right where you sit now, by the way," he pointed out. "Most of the days in her old age."
"I take it your mother has passed away?" Alamys asked, feeling gloomy. It would have been nice to see Amerie again. She would have been in her eighties now. And Alvey Alnour, broad-shouldered and large, with his father's black hair and brown eyes, was in the middle of his fifties, by the look of him. Only a few years younger than his uncle.
Alvey nodded gravely. "This past year," he said, and a thoughtful silence settled over both men as they continued to sip their tea, each remembering the same woman.
Suddenly Alamys felt tears in his eyes. He wiped them away as inconspicuously as he could. To his shame he saw Alvey tactfully turn his head away. Then the farmer put his mug down beside him on the bench and rose. He walked over to the kitchen's back-door and fetched the medallion from its place. Returning with it, he held it pensively, then looked straight at Alamys. "You should have it. For luck," he explained.
"I cannot accept that gift," the Jedi Master answered hoarsely, shaking his head. "It was meant to protect you and your family. What would your mother say, if you gave it to a total stranger?"
"I think she would approve." Having said those words, Alvey firmly pressed the medallion into Alamys' hand, then took his mug and went to put it in the kitchen sink by the window. "I'll go and check the flight schedules," he announced, and left the room.
Alone, Alamys gazed down at the gold coin sheltered in his callused palm, feeling suddenly bereft of any emotion. He had forgotten who he was. It had taken a farmer's tale of a sister's pride to remind him of that. His sister. His nephew. His family. He knew exactly what was imprinted on that medallion. Closing his eyes, he carefully curled his fingers over the gold coin and slipped it into his pocket. With a nod he rose from his seat, his body aching all over from tonight's exertion. Then, walking slowly, he made his way back into the central hall of the farm-house, where Alvey met him in the dark.
"I have the schedule, and I've drawn you a map. You can reach the port in a couple of hours' walk and you'll still be in time to catch the first ride," Alvey explained quietly.
"Thank you," Alamys murmured, as he took the map, then walked toward the door. He ducked through the low opening, out into the bright blue night of Tyreena. For a moment he stood just like that, gazing up at his namesake and the stars beyond. Then he turned his head to smile at Alvey. Amerie's son. No hero and no warrior, but so very brave and precious nevertheless. It was astonishing, how simple life could be, and how grand at the same time.
"The harvest will be good," he said at last, and Alvey threw him a quick grin.
"If you say so," he shrugged. "Guess I can rely on a Jedi Master's prediction."
"You knew!" Alamys exclaimed, surprised.
Alvey, a shy smile on his lips, slowly raised his hand to tap his brow. "The eyes. They still look the same. Like on the medallion."
Stunned, Alamys was gazing at his nephew, trying to discern what had just happened. His eyes ... They were turning blue again. It seemed significant, somehow, and welcome too. Perhaps - perhaps not all hope was lost yet. The two men stood gazing at one another for a while, undecided, feeling that moment of kinship pass on a light spring breeze. Then Alamys turned away again and wandered out into the night, in search for destiny.
"Supreme Chancellor, there has been another incident."
The chancellor raised his eyes from the screen of his datapad absent-mindedly to look at the officer standing across from him. "Excuse me? Another incident?" he asked calmly. "Where?"
"Bilbringi," the officer explained, shifting nervously on his feet. "The troops are increasingly getting out of hand."
"So it would appear," Cos Palpatine mused solemnly. "The navy is on alert, I take it? And the Jedi Council, what are they proposing?"
"They have lost quite a number of their Jedi Knights and Masters in the previous incidents," the man explained. "They are very keen on resolving this situation."
"Ha," Palpatine rose from his seat, visibly agitated. "After they brought this upon us! A clone army!" He paused, a dreamy look in his eyes. "I confess, though, that it sounded like a good idea, in the beginning."
"Our scientists confirmed the first findings, and Kamino is co-operating fully with us. They even offer an apology."
"Which is of no use to us, if it does not stop this army of madmen."
"Emotional instability," the soldier added carefully. "They are - "
"Too much of a risk. I will have to severely reprimand the Jedi Order for their misconduct. They should not have created this army for them in the first place. One could almost believe they had foreseen this disaster," he growled.
"Surely not," the officer suggested weakly. "Imagine - " he stopped, a look of terror in his eyes.
"Indeed," said the chancellor, nodding his head gravely. "I believe it is time for the government to thoroughly investigate the proceedings of the Jedi Council. And I will be expecting full co-operation on the Council's part."
"Yes, sir. It will be done," the officer replied, then hurriedly excused himself, almost running in his haste to get away.
Taking his seat again, Darth Sidious leaned back in his chair, smiling. Oh yes. The Jedi Order had indeed known of the clone army's dangers. He would see to it that the evidence was there to be found. And then, regrettably, he would have to declare a collective ban on the Jedi Order. They would not like it. They would protest. But he did not plan on leaving them any chance at defending themselves. A few more incidents, a few more dead, no, a lot more dead, and the Jedi would be finished. Already they had lost a number of their order's members to the attacks of clones gone mad, to accidents, whatever Sidious could arrange, The most beautiful part about this scheme was that the Jedi would be blamed themselves. They would waste time trying to find out what exactly had happened, neglect their sworn duty. And then, without the order enforced by the galaxy's self-proclaimed defenders, chaos would envelop the Republic, and force its Supreme Chancellor to take even more drastic measures. Very drastic measures indeed. Of course, a few might suspect what he was truly planning, such as Bail Organa of Alderaan. But the viceroy would be careful to move without any allies to back him up. Still, that trouble was in the future. And for now, there was nothing to stand in Sidious' path any longer.
Aside from a certain young Jedi Knight, that was. Anakin Skywalker had grown into a worthy heir of his father's legacy, and Sidious was also aware of Alamys Jorka's continued efforts at sabotaging the Sith Master's scheme. In fact, the father was doing whatever he could to aid his son's investigations concerning the Supreme Chancellor's ambitions. Alas, young Skywalker was drawing the Jedi Council's ire onto himself, and he was getting increasingly frustrated with their lack of trust in his investigations. It would be a relative easy feat to kindle the young man's disappointment in his superiors even more, including his former mentor, Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. To ensnare Skywalker in a particularly deadly game was the next step the Sith Master planned on taking. He only needed a few more months to put everything in place. And then, at last, the Sith would rule once more.
Alamys Jorka was walking past the number three customs booth when he noticed a flash of pink from the dim depth of the small room, and a young female voice that was talking insistently to Bray La, the customs officer on duty today. Alamys knew him, just as he knew all other customs officials on Weyla. With a smile, he stuck his head through the open doorway and nodded at the Falleen in acknowledgement. The customer, he saw, was a human girl of perhaps sixteen, with a mane of unruly blonde curls and blue eyes that were flashing angrily. She had a gawky figure and would grow a bit taller than she was even now. Dressed in a pink jump-suit, she looked definitely out of place.
"Alamys, why don't you tell the lady that she should really take my advice and leave again?" Bray La asked, his tone one of exasperation.
"She'd make a nice collector's item," the former Jedi Master mused aloud, and the flash of fear that crossed her eyes was all he needed to know that she was fully aware of just where she had come to. But then anger replaced the fear, and she rounded on him, hands propped on her hips challengingly.
"Perhaps you have your own business to attend to?" she snarled.
But Alamys ignored her. Addressing the customs officer he asked. "The ship she came on, is that still here?"
"She sent it away."
"Interesting." Now he had no choice but to talk to her directly, it would seem. "Listen, young lady, this is no place for you to be," he tried. "It is dangerous for a girl like you to just waltz into a krayt dragon's den and expect to walk out unharmed and alive."
She looked him up and down quite pointedly, then tried a smile that would have melted any other man's resolve to send her away again. She definitely had some skills. But Alamys was unimpressed, even though he let her say her thing anyway. "How do you want to know that I don't know my way around ports like these?" she asked sweetly.
"No one who comes to Weyla sends their ship away, not even people who've lived here for years," the former Jedi countered coolly. "That's because no one wants to stay here. If you had the experience you claim to have you'd do the same. But you've sent your ship away. Because you want to force yourself to stay. In short, you've run away. By your accent you're from the Core, perhaps even Coruscant. Your clothes are expensive and I guess your parents are well to do. Perhaps you were bored? Well, it certainly won't get boring here."
For a moment she looked uncertain, but then she stuck her chin out again. "And what if you were right? I am here because I chose to be here. I am not stupid and I am not helpless."
"Really. What's your name?"
Alamys cocked his head to the side and smiled. "That's a lie. But if you want to keep your real name secret so I cannot track your background, you're welcome to do so, Meli Lars."
She blushed ever so slightly, then frowned. "Are you a Jedi or something?"
"Or something," Alamys replied lightly, then turned away to nod at Bray La. "I'll take care of this, officer," he announced.
The Falleen shrugged. "Better you than anyone else. I'd hate seeing the kid get hurt."
"I'm not a kid!" the girl exclaimed. But Alamys had already wrapped an arm around her slender shoulders and was firmly steering her toward the exit. "Let go," she hissed at him, but did not try to twist out of his grasp. So, she was not stupid, that one.
"As long as I am with you no one will try to pick you up," he told her quietly. "We'll go somewhere where we can talk, so you can tell me what you really want here."
"Is that armor you are wearing?" she asked, squinting at his attire as if seeing it for the first time.
"Yes. Especially light and padded." No need to tell her that the armour was necessary to prevent him from breaking all of his bones if he accidentally tripped on the street. "It helps."
"I bet it does," she huffed, then gave him another queer glance. "A neat scar you have there. What's your name?"
"Alamys. Yours?" He gave her a tiny smirk that made her blush again. Despite her demeanour she was still very young, he found.
"Yana," she pressed out at last, and it was as if a barrier had been broken.
"Yana," he repeated, smiling. "A pretty name."
He thought of Sidious' daughter, that he had almost killed all those years back. She would be the same age as ... His mind gushed with icy shock, Alamys did not dare look at the girl at his side at first. But then everything slid into place, crushing him underneath a mountain of revelation. Sidious had proclaimed himself Emperor a few weeks ago, had he not? Six years after the ban on the Jedi Order had been announced. Alamys remembered Almanda Dar, Yana's mother. He remembered killing her too, and sparing her daughter's life. The daughter who had run away from her father now that he had reached his ultimate goal. Was she trying to punish him, perhaps? It certainly was an interesting prospect.
"You think so?" the girl asked, sounding uncertain. She was preoccupied with something, and Alamys could well guess what that was.
Her reasons for running away could be manifold, but there was one thing they all would have in common: Yana was smart enough to realise that what her father was doing was wrong. With new-found respect the former Jedi Master looked at her, and his smile widened. Years ago her parentage had almost doomed her, but not today. "It is a very pretty name, Yana Dar. Truly fitting for such a clever young woman."
"You know!" she breathed, turning huge blue eyes on him just as she twisted out of his grasp. "How?" she demanded, and suddenly her temper flared again. "How!"
Alamys sputtered over the answer. "I - I knew your father," he managed, and was left only a split-second to push Yana aside as a blaster bolt tore toward them. "Get some cover!" he yelled, but she had already scrambled away from him.
Alamys shrugged off his worry for her as he made a grab for his lightsaber. He could sense her somewhere behind him, shaking, torn between fear and betrayal. He squinted at the buildings surrounding them, realising only belatedly that he had led them into the perfect trap. A movement caught his attention from the corner of his eye, but just as he whirled around to deflect the next shot, his white blade coming to roaring life, someone laid down cover fire to allow him to get into safety too. Somewhat surprised, he joined Yana at a street corner.
"Thanks," he said.
She shrugged. "No problem. I told you I was not entirely novice to this sort of port. I've been around," she added, waving a blaster in her right hand.
"I bet. Come. We need to get away from here." Together they hurried down the street, but he could sense that something was bothering her. "You thought I had betrayed you?" he asked quietly.
"When you pushed me away - " She hesitated. "When you pushed me away and I saw your lightsaber I knew you are a fugitive just like me. My father is looking for me," she added, "and I should have prepared for that too."
Alamys refrained from telling her just how he knew her father and that those shots had probably been aimed at him, not her. So he only nodded in understanding. "Well, he's looking for me too. That's one thing we've got in common, then," he joked.
Yana gave him a crooked smile. "Probably."
But Alamys was very serious when he replied. "We should split up. Go back to Bray La, the Falleen customs officer where I picked you up. Hurry. Tell him he's to help you and that I said so."
"You're going to face them alone?" she asked, incredulous. "For me?"
"An honour," the former Jedi Master told her and gave a slight bow. For a long moment they looked at one another, and both were smiling. "May the Force be with you," he said.
Yana nodded mutely, then turned away, without another word. He watched her vanish around the next corner, before he turned back to face his hunters. Perhaps the seed of light had been planted elsewhere too, he mused. Perhaps Yana Dar would once challenge her father and destroy him. Who knew? Laughing, Alamys Jorka prepared to fight his last battle.
There is no emotion - There is peace. There is no ignorance - There is knowledge. There is no passion - There is serenity. There is no death - There is the Force.
Alamys Jorka repeated those words relentlessly to himself, but they remained meaningless, where they had meant everything to him so long ago. He felt that he was slipping again, that he was losing control. With a soft moan he rolled around to lie on his stomach, his bound hands placed underneath his breast-bone. It took a supreme effort to draw his knees up, he had to be careful not to break his own legs. A feat he had managed more than once over the past years. The memory was not a fond one. Gently, oh so gently, he sat up and even more gently leaned his back against the cool bulk-head. For a moment he tried not to think of anything. But inside that serene shell of oblivion a roaring fire was fighting to break out, a darkness so powerful it was searing his insides and smouldering his heart.
It could not harm anyone now, not anymore, and that fact had brought him here, aboard this ship, found and captured by Darth Sidious' minions at last. They had taken away his armour and his lightsaber, of course. Alamys knew that he would not survive the upcoming encounter with the Sith Lord, but he did not care anymore. Somewhere, deep in his mind, he knew that he had no reason to fear any longer. With a wistful smile he tried to gather an image of his son, a fleeting image that kept slipping away, but he could still feel the fondness that had made him walk away then, on Naboo, to protect the child. It had not hurt to leave, not at all. He had had to do it, for the sake of giving his sacrifice meaning, and his son a chance to survive. Anakin had survived, had become a hero of the Clone Wars, even. A Jedi, like his father. Thinking of Anakin brought focus into his thoughts, and clarity to his mind. For a moment Alamys wondered what Shmi might have told her son, how she had tried to explain what had happened to her. She would not have remembered, of course.
A noise at the door caught his attention, and he could just faintly make out voices on the other side of it. "Is he still asleep?" a man asked.
"No, he seems to be awake," a female answered. "How much longer?"
"Not long now. Two hours at the latest."
"Good. That guy is giving me the creeps, don't ask me how," the woman growled.
So, two hours until he would meet his executioner. He should have killed Sidious back on Malika, no matter the cost to himself. But, alas, that revelation came far too late. In hindsight everything was always so obvious, wasn't it? Alamys smiled coldly. Politics had not interested him over the past decades, he had been troubled enough with staying alive and pursuing his revenge. But Sidious' rise to Emperor had been hard to overlook. The Jedi Master set his jaw grimly. And the Jedi were dying. He knew exactly that this had been foretold in the prophecies, the demise of the Jedi, the decline of the light. But he had taken precautions, had he not? Anakin was more powerful than any Jedi or Sith alive, his power a combination of his own innate talent and that of his father. Giving up the Force had not been as hard as he had anticipated it, when confronted with what the future would hold for the galaxy, Alamys mused.
Anakin would survive, he knew with certainty. It could not be any other way. Exhaling slowly he let go of his anxiety. No need to worry. If Anakin had retained only half of the kindness and maturity he had shown on Naboo he would manage to deal with the darkness, would manage to find his way. He would recover the light, no matter how long it would take. Smiling, the Jedi Master closed his eyes. His confidence in his son was unbroken.
Content, Alamys settled back to sleep another two hours.
He had not planned to stay on Byss that long, but shortly before his intended departure a message had reached him, and he had stayed after all. So, Alamys Jorka had finally come to the end of his journey. He had been captured on Weyla, of all places, and apparently he had not put up much of a fight. Good. The ship carrying the former Jedi Master would arrive in another hour, time enough for Sidious to ponder what exactly to do with him. He thought of the other ruined warrior hidden deep down in the medical ward of the citadel, injured and despairing, almost ripe for the taking. A cruel smile came to the Sith Master's lips. Anakin Skywalker would share his father's fate once, but not just now. For a moment he considered arranging a meeting between father and son, just to see their reaction, but then decided against it. It was too risky, especially now that Skywalker was still hopeful, still defiant. There was no telling how he would respond, no telling at all.
Fortunately Alamys Jorka's reaction to both his capture and his impending death was foreseeable. In undeniable glee Sidious rubbed his hands, and laughed to himself. This was so grand! His old nemesis at last back in his grasp, his new foe under control, and soon to be not enemy but servant. Father and son, both his. Now he truly was master of all Sith, with Roj Kell safely confined to Korriban, Anakin Skywalker imprisoned here on Byss, and Alamys Jorka about to meet his end. Yes. Alamys was Sith, though he would deny it vehemently. Yet he had betrayed the Jedi years ago, had embraced the darkness fully. And Sidious would tell him to the face, would tell him exactly how he had failed. Darth Sidious' smile faded again, to be replaced by a cold, calculating expression. Soon now, there would only be two true Sith left, a master and an apprentice.
An hour later the two bounty-hunters who had made the catch announced their arrival at the Citadel, and Sidious moved toward the throne-room to receive them and their captive. The throne-room was an exact replica of the one he had had built in the Imperial Palace on Coruscant, with black marble tiles covering the floor and sheer black walls rising high toward the ceiling. A single giant viewport opened the view into the blood-red sky of Byss behind the throne itself, which stood on a pedestal two meters above the floor, accessible only over a wide set of stairs. Those stairs Sidious climbed regally, before he settled down on the throne at last. Nodding at the two red-robed guards standing watch at the entrance, he waited for his visitors to arrive. When the three of them entered, though, he only had eyes for the Jedi Master.
Alamys Jorka was dressed in plain civilian clothes. A dust-covered black jacket, wide, dark grey pants and a long-worn belt of brown leather. Black, knee-high boots completed his attire. Time had not been gentle with him, and his dark blond hair had thinned and grayed considerably. But he stood between his captors displaying a defiant, calm pride that irked the Sith Master no end. One of the bounty-hunters, a woman, handed something to one of the guards, who in turn came up to kneel before the Emperor, holding the handful out to him. A Jedi medallion, a few more trinkets and a credit chip. Sidious took the medallion, then impatiently waved the bounty-hunters and guards away. Finally, once he and the former Jedi Master were alone, he rose from his seat and walked toward his old enemy, smiling. Alamys Jorka frowned at him darkly, and his right hand dropped to his belt instinctively, searching for the lightsaber handle that would usually hang there, but he only caught air.
Suppressing a smile, Sidious flung out a hand to throw the Jedi to the floor hard. He could hear bones crack from where he stood. For a moment Alamys lay paralysed, but then he struggled to his feet again, his mind aflame with agony and hatred, his face fixed in an inhuman snarl.
"Finally we meet again," Darth Sidious said, his voice dripping with dark satisfaction. "It has been a long time, my friend. But at last you have come."
"Don't think I will beg for mercy, Sidious," Alamys Jorka spat, his baritone voice laced thickly with contempt and obvious strain. But then his scarred face twisted into a mocking smile. "Now that you have captured the last of my kind, will you triumph at last? Will you show your true face to the galaxy?"
Sidious shook his head. "Alamys. The last of your kind? You? Not at all. But I have been waiting a long time to have you in my grasp again. You have kept yourself hidden from me long enough."
A flash of pain crossed Jorka's face. "Whatever advantage you had hoped to gain by capturing me, you are too late," he answered thickly.
"Really? Whatever makes you think so?"
Now Jorka's expression was positively triumphant. "And in the time of greatest despair there shall come a saviour, and he shall be known as the Son of the Suns," he quoted slowly, deliberately. "Sounds familiar?" He was smiling, a smile at the very verge of madness.
Amidst low chuckles of genuine amusement, Darth Sidious started clapping his hands in mock applause. "Well done," he said at last. "If you want to play a game of prophecy, why not name this one? 'The most potent instrument of balance undoubtedly is a fusion of light and dark, of dark within light and light within darkness. The dark side of the sun, and the bright, merged in a glorious fire of power.' You obviously had no time to study the Jen'da Prophecies, Alamys," he added, sounding almost sad.
The Jedi Master's face paled. "What do you mean?"
"I know, Alamys. I know where you have been hiding, and I know what you did in your despair. As it was foretold, as it was prophesied. The dark within light, Alamys Jorka, was you." Darth Sidious' voice dropped into a whisper as he continued. "And the light within darkness is mine already. He will teach your son when the time is right, and your son will become my tool, my creation. Such power, Alamys," he sighed in undeniable delight, "such delicious power as you have commanded! Oh, how I envied you!" Laughing out loud, the Emperor brought his hands together in a loud clap, earnest once more. "Enough of these games. Your time is running out. Yet I must thank you for your diligent efforts in assisting my own plans. A true friend. I will always be indebted to you. And now, Alamys, I will release you from your bonds." His voice dropped to a malicious whisper. "As a friend would do for another."
Alamys stared at the Sith Master, speechless. His mind was filled with dread and despair, knowing full well that he would die now. He longed to fight, longed to tear that hated face to shreds, but knew perfectly well that he stood no chance at all against the Sith. Not anymore. But hope was still with him. Anakin was alive, Anakin would triumph where he had failed.
But then Sidious cocked his head to the side, a questioning frown marring his forehead. "Do I sense a glimmer of hope here? I wonder what could have sparked that now of all times."
"The future," Alamys answered, his voice rough. But he managed to stop shaking.
The Emperor smiled. "The future? Let me tell you about the future, my friend. I will rule. I will command the power of my Empire, and I will finish the Jedi's destruction. Your son has been of great help to me already, and he will be happy to continue serving me further, I assure you."
Alamys paled, and suddenly he felt dizzy, almost fell, his knees weak as jelly. "My - son?"
"Oh yes," Sidious replied lightly. "He suspected my plans, or should I say, you pointed him my way?" he asked, a horrible smile on his weathered face. Alamys' eyes widened as he realised that Sidious had known, had always known whose legacy Anakin Skywalker had been meant to carry. "He challenged me to a game, just as you once did," the Sith Master continued softly, obviously enjoying this. "His Jedi friends did not believe him, of course, so he had to fight alone. Never a good position, as you should know from first-hand experience, old friend. In the end he thought himself betrayed even by his beloved wife. The path he chose three years ago on Tatooine then became his forever. The path to the Dark Side. Of course, you never treated this as a game. He did."
"No!" Alamys dropped to the floor, oblivious to the pain. It could not be true! Not Anakin!
"But yes. You made a mistake, Alamys, when you left him to grow up with his mother. He grew too attached to her, and when she was murdered, he felt the lure of darkness for the first time, and gave in to it. Just as you did, years ago." Sidious walked closer, cupping the kneeling Jedi's chin in one hand and bent down to meet his clear blue eyes. Alamys did not resist. "You should have killed me on Malika."
"I know." Alamys found his emotions rapidly dying along with hope. Shmi was dead? He had never known ...
"You should have destroyed the virus."
The Jedi Master nodded very gently. "Yes," he breathed. "I should have." Tears brimmed his eyes, but he did not feel anything. No fury, no hatred, no sorrow. Nothing. He was dead, in more ways than one.
"But you failed," Sidious finished in a tender whisper. His hand slid up the Jedi Master's left cheek, then closed over his forehead. "The price for failure is death, always was. You know that as well as I do."
Alamys could not answer. He had no chance, no way to shield himself against the power that began to shred his mind into pieces, working through his neural centres, through his brain, shutting down his vital functions, killing him bit by bit. Gasping for air, he felt the tears fall at last. When his lungs ceased to function Sidious released him, leaving him just a tiny snippet of awareness to allow him to witness his own death. Alamys' body hit the floor hard, the impact breaking his right arm and shoulder, and snapping his collarbone. He felt the jolt of pain most acutely, but his eyes lost their sight gradually, sparing him the image of Sidious' gloating expression. He had failed. He had delivered his son into the hands of the enemy. He had given the Sith the ultimate weapon, the ultimate tool to ensure his rule.
In that he had failed his son, most of all. The tears leaking from his eyes ran down his numbing cheeks in a river of cold mourning. But still the Jedi Master clung to the image of the small, earnest face he remembered from Naboo, like a bright sun, his son's kind blue eyes, so unlike his father's, his innocent smile. And that face was drowning in darkness.
It was in that moment of utter weakness and despair that he recalled Hagen Dycos' words concerning the balance of the Force, that the Force was a reflection of all, and all was a reflection of the Force. He felt like that now, as he was floating into oblivion, on a sea of darkness, just like his son. A tiny speck of light, filled with darkness, submerged in darkness, drifting toward a distant light. He stared at that pinpoint of glaring brightness, uncomprehending at first. Only gradually did the revelation come, the conclusion to Hagen Dycos' unfinished thoughts, and it made him smile inside. There was no balance of light and dark, if one was the reflection of the other. There was no balance that could be broken.
There was the Force. And only that.
PS: Thanks to all my readers, especially The Sh33p! This tale continues in The Art of War - Rewritten and The Storm.