Jedi Master Ood Bnar
The suite was that of the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic, located in the Republic Executive Building. The building was situated in the Senate District on the planet Coruscant, capital world of the Republic. One of the advantages that the holder of that office had was the prerogative to decorate it in any manner he or she saw fit. Weeks prior, it had been decorated in blue, the preferred color of the previous Chancellor. Now, however, the room was decorated a deep red, reflecting the nature of its current occupant. That person was sitting in the room's newly crafted Chair of Office, which had replaced the room's previously simplistic chair, looking out at the city before him as the sun began to set, casting a fading orange hue across the buildings.
Palpatine, newly elected Supreme Chancellor of the Republic and also known as Darth Sidious, Dark Lord of the Sith, watched it all with interest, knowing that the time was coming soon which this would all be his. Turning around to face the desk, he glanced at the datapad lying in front of him, going over the information contained within.
It had been eight years since the incident at Naboo, but his grand plans for the future had continued without incident. In fact, his term as Supreme Chancellor would have come to an end quite recently if not for the emergence of a group of separatist systems calling themselves the Confederacy of Independent Systems.
In truth, he had very much expected them to rise at this moment. Their leader, Dooku, was Count of Serenno and a former Jedi Master. Dooku had been unique among most of the other Jedi in the Order in that he had grown disillusioned by the actions of the Republic and had left them following the disastrous Battle of Galidraan a decade ago. He had left the Order two years later, following the death of Qui-Gon Jinn, and had not been heard from by anyone in the galaxy since.
In that time, he had found him, and begun molding him into the perfect Dark Lord of the Sith. The need to find a new apprentice quickly following the conflict on Naboo had been important. That had been the start of his journey to enact the final revenge of the Sith. The fact that Dooku had already held a great deal of distrust towards the Republic had made him an easy convert. All Palpatine did was show him that there was a way for him to bring about the change that he had desired.
And the way to that change was the Dark Side. The Jedi view its use as a negative aspect of the Force, that emotions were a deterrent. And that was what not only made them ignorant to the galaxy around them, but also unpopular with the general public, who had come to see them as an arrogant cult that thought their way was the only way.
It would be easy, perhaps too easy, to stoke the flames of that hatred the way that he desired. Already he had used the disillusioned attitude others had towards the Jedi to his own ends. After all, how long had it truly been part of the character of both Dooku and those who would follow him?
It did not matter. All that mattered was that that they would serve his purposes, and then be discarded. Dooku may think that he is destined to rule in the New Order, but like the majority of the players in his grand opera, his role was an insignificant one at best. There would come a day soon when Palpatine's chosen apprentice, the one for whom the upcoming conflict was specifically tailored, would take his rightful place at his side.
But that was a day far into the future. For the present, he had to concern himself with other matters.
Count Dooku stared out of the viewport in deep thought, thinking of the events that had led to his becoming Darth Tyranus, Dark Lord of the Sith. It had not been that long ago when he had been a respected Jedi Master. But he and the Council had not always seen eye to eye. Nowhere had their conflicting viewpoints been made more obvious than it had been a decade ago, when he had led the disastrous mission on Galidraan, when he had led a team of Jedi Knights, including his former Padawan Komari Vosa, to deal with the Mandalorians who had invaded the planet.
Looking back on that mission now, Dooku could see how disastrous it had actually been. What had meant to be a simple pacification mission against the group, whom he had been told were murdering political activists, had turned into a long and bloody battle that ended up costing many lives on both sides. There was the old saying that time would put a fresh perspective on things. And that was no truer than on that day, in which he had dealt a crippling blow to the Mandalorians. It had been a successful mission in the eyes of most, but that did not make the pain of losing a great deal of his comrades in the conflict, including his Padawan, acceptable.
No. Komari Vosa did not die on that war torn battlefield. She would die two years later, at his own hand, on Kohlma, one of the moons of Bogden. But she may as well have died on Galidraan. It would have saved her from dying a needless death.
Dooku shook his head, realizing that Vosa's death was not unnecessary. It had to be done. She was leader of the Bando Gora, a destabilizing influence in the galaxy that would not a part of the vision his Master had for the Galaxy.
Turning, his thoughts turned to the plans that his Master had for the galaxy. The time was coming soon where he would lead the disenfranchised elements of the vast cosmos in a war against the Republic. He would tell them that it was because the Republic was weak and ineffectual, and that a change was needed in order to set the universe right.
That was a half truth. A change was indeed needed in order to bring an end to the weak and corrupt influence of the Republic. But it was not to be the corporate entity or their soulless armies that would take its place. It was, in fact, his Master who would bring about that change.
Darth Sidious, in his guise as Palaptine, the current Supreme Chancellor of the Republic, had done what no other Sith in the nearly 25 century history of their order had accomplished: brought the Republic to its knees. Many in the past had tried to attack it with brute force, their efforts wasted as the combination of Republic might and their own internal bickering kept them from succeeding at the one thing they all wanted to accomplish.
It had all changed a thousand years ago, at the Battle of Ruusan. It was then that Darth Bane, the only survivor of that conflict, instituted the Rule of Two, which had fundamentally changed the nature of the Sith from that point forward. Where before there had been massive armies and warriors, there were only two individuals: one Master, one apprentice. Dooku was Sidious' current apprentice, brought into his fold after the death of Sidious' former apprentice, Darth Maul, during the Naboo incident.
It was only after killing Sifo-Dyas, one of the Jedi in the Order that he could call "friend", that Dooku's journey had had truly begun. Sidious had informed him that in the coming decade, he would play a vital role in the events to come.
But Dooku knew that there was one other. He was to be the public face of the growing movement against the Republic, but the army that was to be built from the armies of the Trade Federation and other galactic corporate entities would need a warrior at its head. None of the current leaders of the potential Separatist movement were capable of handling the role. One of them had even lost his hand and part of his arm when attempting to perform in a warrior's capacity. If that was any indication as to how the rest would react, then the army would fall apart within weeks, perhaps even sooner.
No, Dooku thought. The Confederacy of Independent Systems which would help create needed a strong warrior at its head, a turbolaster counterpoint to his subtle vibroblade.
Dooku knew there was one being in the galaxy that could fill this role. And it was his task to mold him into the perfect weapon of destruction. Entering the cockpit, he turned to the FA-4 pilot droid piloting the craft.
"Set course for Kalee."
The being's name was Qymaen jai Sheelal, though since the death of his comrade Ronderu lij Kummar, he had become known as Grievous, scourge of the Yam'rii and the most powerful warlord on Kalee. At the moment, however, he was a broken husk of his former self, floating suspended in a bacta tank. The last thing he remembered was piloting the Martyr away from Kalee to resume the war against the Yam'rii that had long been the scourge of his people.
Then...nothing but pain, death and loss.
He had longed for death every since Kummar's death long ago, but he hoped for a death more befitting of a warrior of his stature. Being slain by an enemy on the battlefield was preferable to perishing in a shuttle crash.
Through the glass of the bacta tank, Grievous saw a figure enter the room and approach his position. The Kaleesh recognized the being as San Hill, Chairman of the Intergalactic Banking Clan. It had been the Muun who had first offered him the job of becoming the enforcer of the IBC. Grievous had taken the job when Hill said that he and the IBC would help to relieve the financial burden placed on Kalee following the Huk war.
And so he had performed the work expected to him by the company. It was satisfying, and after dealing with the pain of Kummar's death and the defeat he had suffered during the war with the insectoid Yam'rii, it had been almost a relief to engage in warfare, even if it was the sort favored by businessmen and corporations rather than warriors of his stature.
These thoughts passed through Grievous' mind for the briefest of moments, but were soon replaced by a questioning wonder as to what Hill hoped to accomplish by coming here. Had he come to gloat at Grievous' misfortune, mocking the once proud and noble warrior for being dealt a death blow in the most embarrassing of manners? The truth was, Grievous couldn't deny that Hill had every right to do so. All it would do was validating his feelings about the situation.
"My, my," Hill spoke, his voice raspy. "It seems that you have had quite an accident, my dear General."
"I won't be pitied, Chairman Hill," Grievous spat out, his voice carrying over the speakers in the room. "Allow me to die in peace as befits a warrior of my stature."
Hill approached the bacta tank and ran a hand across its surface. "Ah, but my dear General, there is no need. We can keep you alive."
"Of course," Grievous dismissed. "But I would be hooked up to life support machines for the rest of my life, unable to lead your warriors in battle as I once was. I ask again, let me die in peace."
"None, of that, my dear General," Hill said, his voice taking on a note that sounded almost akin of concern. This made Grievous wonder whether Hill was genuinely worried for the safety of his prized warrior. "You will walk. You will speak. You will retain your memories...your mind."
If he could, Grievous would have contorted his face in disgust. "I have a mind, Chairman. What I lack is a body."
"I am aware of this, my dear General," Hill replied. "But I know a way to give you the body that you desire. But it will have to require sacrifices on your part. You will have to give up more than you have before. And you will no longer be able to know the pleasures of the flesh."
"Flesh is weak, Chairman. You need only cast your gaze on me to realize this."
Hill rubbed his chin. "Indeed, General." He then paused, building up the dramatic suspense of his next revelation. "A war is coming, General. I am unaware of when it shall begin, but when it does, it will shake the galaxy to its very foundations."
This grew Grievous' interest. "A war? Who will start this war? The Trade Federation? The Republic?" He watched as Hill shook his head once, then asked, "Who will start this war?"
"You will come to know him, General. And when you do, you will be impressed. He is a wise and powerful individual who has great plans for our galaxy"
As much as Grievous found himself tempted by this, one question continued to plague him. "If he is so wise and powerful, why does he need me?"
Hill chuckled, a sound that felt as if he had reached through the transparisteel of the tank and slapped him across the face. "General, as a warrior among your own kind, you should be very much aware of the fact that in every war, there are leaders and commanders to send troops into battle. Think about it, General. You could go down in history as the leader of the greatest army the galaxy has ever known."
Grievous thought about this for a moment. It would be a crowning achievement in his life to lead an army against a far superior foe. But he was also disgusted by one particularly obvious fact: the forces he would no doubt be leading in this battle would be droids. The IBC had a sizeable army, mostly composed of their hoop wheeled hailfire droids.
The idea of leading droids once more, even into a war in which his name would be remembered for ages, displeased him. "A commander of droid's, Chairman. An army of droids."
A smile formed on Hill's thin lips that could only be described as lecherous. "Ah, but there in lies the irony, dear General, for leading this army will be a living being. A living being that can bring the vibroknife that is our army down onto the very heart of the Republic and watch as it bleeds to death. And it can be you, General, if you so choose. I thus give you a choice. General Grievous, warlord of the Kaleesh, will you accept my offer?"
To Grievous, there was no need to ask the question. Though it once again meant that he would be shackled to the whims of others, it would grant him the ability to vent his frustration over the situation on those who had wronged him. And that gave the Kaleesh great amusement. To think that long ago the Republic had the chance to prevent this situation from happening by coming to the aid of his people. But they did not, instead leaving them to flounder and die.
Grievous would take Hill's offer. But not for himself, not for the wives and daughters he would leave behind. Not even to honor the memory of his long departed Kummar.
He would do this for himself. To bring about the justice that the Republic failed to give him, and assuage his anger towards the fact that they had done nothing to help his people in their time of need.
The Republic, in failing to act and stop one danger, had unknowingly released another to the galaxy. And unlike himself, it would not live to regret their mistake.
For he was General Grievous. He would be leader of the army to be unleashed on the galaxy to bring about the destruction of the Galactic Republic.
And he would kill any who stood in his way.
And one day, those would make the name General Grievous spoken in hushed whispers out of fear and known throughout the galaxy as one of death and destruction.
Kneeling in front of the image of his Master, Dooku listened to him speak, though his mind was on other matters. With all they had done to set up the pieces for the upcoming conflict, Dooku was somewhat concerned. There was much that could cause their plans to go wrong. And unlike Sidious, he could not see how their intricately constructed plan could be salvaged if one of the supports keeping it together was weakened.
"Your thoughts betray you, Lord Tyranus."
Dooku knew that his Master would pick up on his latent feelings, but was not afraid of reprisal because of it. He was as important to Sidious' plans as anyone else, and it would not be logical for the Dark Lord to discard him at such a critical juncture.
This knowledge made it safe for him to speak. "My Master, I must admit that I have...concerns about your plan. The death of Maul..."
"...was unexpected, yes." The voice was without emotion, but Dooku knew that it held restrained power at being questioned. "But unlike my predecessors, I have found a way to compensate for this disruption to my plans. I have found a new apprentice to carry out my will...unless you now believe that you are unworthy, Lord Tyranus. Do your newfound concerns for my plans somehow reflect a weakness in your character? This did not seem to matter when you murdered your friend."
Dooku kept quiet, but he knew that Sidious had struck a nerve. In order to become indoctrinated into the Sith, he had to eliminate one of the few in this galaxy he could truly call friend. Master Sifo-Dyas had seen the changes in the galaxy, and had placed an order for a clone army to the cloners on Kamino. Sidious had allowed this, but had ordered Dooku to eliminate Sifo-Dyas, saying that the army must remain a secret until he was prepared to let the Republic and the Jedi know about it.
And over the course of the next eight years, nothing seemed to be able to stop Sidious in his grand march towards the Sith's ultimate revenge. Dooku knew that his Master was always making his opponents guessing, seeing plans within plans within plans. This made him a dangerous adversary. And one not to be crossed.
"Indeed, my Master. It was necessary."
Sidious smiled. "As is what is to come. Do not worry, my apprentice. When the time comes, you shall play your part. And you shall be remembered throughout the galaxy."
The hologram faded, and Dooku got to his feet. In this, Sidious was right. He knew that, when all was said and done, he would be remembered as the man who led the disenfranchised and the embittered people who thought the Republic had abandoned them in a crusade to bring about the end of the corruption that both they and he felt towards it.
But in the end, only he would remain to see it. And one way or another, Dooku found comfort in that.
Turning from the holoprojector, the cloaked being made his way back to the desk, hands moving to removed the hooded robe he had worn during the conversation. Placing it inside a secret compartment, he sat down in the chair and gazed out the window, looking at the skyline of the city.
Palpatine smiled. Long ago, the Sith had sought to rule the galaxy. Soon, they would do so again. In fact, one could argue that, with himself as Supreme Chancellor, the Sith were already in control of the Republic. Its citizens merely did not realize it yet.
But they would. And by that time, it would be too late for the Jedi to stop him. For by then, he would have the citizens of that vast city that lay before him so blinded to who and what he truly represented that they would not accept him as anything less than what he seemed: a simple man with only the best interests of the people at heart.
The Jedi could fight any enemy. The coming war would prove that. But one enemy they could not fight was public opinion. And by the end of this war, the public would be crying for the Order's destruction, an act that he would enjoy carrying out.
But not in the name of the people. In the end, they were naught but tools for him to use to bring about his ends. He would do what he had to do in the name of the legacy that had begun a thousand years ago by one who, like him, saw that change was needed in order to accomplish what was necessary.
And what was necessary was the revenge of the Sith. Revenge against the Jedi Order which had for too long preached that their way was the only way to master the Force and which had preached peace and serenity in a galaxy full of strife and discord.
The Code of the Sith preached that through passion, one gained strength. And that through strength, one gained power. And that through power, one gained victory.
Palpatine had the strength. He had the power. And soon, he would claim the victory.