A long time ago, in a galaxy that is ... right here, a movie came along, and the story captured the imagination of many of my generation and of those to follow. Recognized characters are not of my imagining, but rather that of George Lucas (at least to him belong the rights). There are some original characters here, as my story diverges rather sharply from Mr. Lucas' in a great many places. I will presume that readers are familiar enough with the movies to know which ones I made up and which ones I've just turned on their heads.
This is unapologetically AU. Episode IV (the true Star Wars-oh, and Han shot first!) is the gold standard to which I am adhering, while the other five episodes will have changes of varying degrees of significance. So, when you read and review (and I hope you will), please judge this AU solely on its own merits as a story and not how close or far I might be from canon. While I'm enjoying the writing immensely, I hope that you enjoy the reading for the story I've chosen to tell.
My stories are not truly suited for children, nor do I think that Star Wars should be for children. My stories contain some fairly dark matter, including unflinching violence, non-consensual sex, nudity, and other more mature themes. I will note some of the sharper divergent notes in my AU here. In the first place, in episode 1 (mine being subtitled "The Puppet Master"), I have made Anakin's age older than it was in the movie/novel. I will freely confess that despite its canon nature, I never found the Padmé-Anakin relationship believable as presented. While I could believe he would fall for her, I found nothing in the movies made it seem likely that the reverse would be true. I also rather abhorred the midichlorian hypothesis, and never really liked the 'Ani' nickname (and I'm still convinced that "Annie" is a girl's name). Also, the birth name is not Anakin, but Deak. If you've encountered some of the earlier incarnations of the script for what came to be known as Star Wars (subsequently Episode IV or subtitled A New Hope) you'll know where the Deak name came from. He will become known as Anakin Skywalker, but not until the end of the first episode.
I have limited myself to the movies, novelizations of the same, and a few other source materials (the official website and Wookiepedia) to shore up knowledge regarding planets and species of the Star Wars universe, as well as spellings of various persons, places, and things, and to my imaginings of how things shouldbe. You will note that the Gungan species has been wholly re-worked (JarJar is sort of present, but you may not recognize the character, as I did feel the character had a place in the story which was better provided by the changes to the character and the species), and several details regarding pod-racing have been revised. Other details (like the ownership of C-3PO), the full names of the handmaidens, and various characters' ages (and family trees) have freely been altered where I felt necessary. Additional given names or surnames that I cannot find in canon have been added according to principles that made sense to me, as well as altering Sith names when I felt appropriate.
A few notes on conventions that I am using: italics with no quotation marks indicates thought; italics inside double quotation marks indicates that the speaker is using a foreign language comprehensible to the POV character. Such languages will be evident either by the species of the speaker or be identified at the beginning of the dialog.Prologue
The room was spartan, belying the wealth and power of its owner. Simple glittering black stone, seamless formed walls, floor, and ceiling. The aeolian harp whispered in a manner vaguely discordant, the eddies within the room born not of natural breeze but of man's will ... of one man's will.
Impossibly ancient, or so rumors said. No one alive was quite certain. The man cloaked in black robes, hood shadowing his face sat unmoving. Only the barest rise of expanding chest hinted that he yet lived. Outwardly, no motion, just the very slow rise and fall of his breath. Eyes fixed on a point where sight moved beyond visible, into the ebb and flow of reality itself.
"There is an advantage," he intoned, "in using the worlds of the Outer Rim. Here, you may experiment and move on before discovery, before the council deigns to meddle. Here, too, in plain sight we hide the weapon with which we one day will rule the entire galaxy."
"Yes, master," responded the younger robed man, his eyes also focused into that distant reality-beyond-real. Lids drawn over eyes, 'You old fool ... I have learned what I can of you, and now you will die.'
Far distant from the darkly glittering room, a simple room, a mere mat on a bare floor, between those of other mere mats on the bare floor. Bitterly cold, now that the suns had set. Upon this mat, the sleeping woman huddled beneath the thin blanket might have been attractive if it had not been for the appearance of aging brought on prematurely by a life of servitude toiling in the light of the suns. The hand caressed her arm, and she stirred in her sleep.
His body wrought of sheer will, shedding decades of age in the formation, he lifted the blankets away, the form-without-form sliding under the blanket beside the woman.
The still-slumbering woman whimpered against the added chill of his presence. Formless hands slid through fabric unfettered by the mere barrier of textile, reaching the bare skin of the curve of her breast, a gentle caress as the sleeping woman turned, her body yielding increased access to the willful touches of the not-quite-there.
"Sleep," the whispered voice entering her slumbering mind, and then the formless lips gained form, kissing, teasing.
His will gave him yet more form, firmness as he explored, caressing her, holding her tightly. He kissed her with an apparent passion, her sleeping mouth gaping and then joining in the kiss as their tongues began a dance. Prim, holding herself beyond the common usage of the body that was the usual lot of slaves by day; in her sleep, in the arms of the will of this man, she was wanton, her hands caressing a form which came to be in answer to the hidden desires of her mind.
He kissed around her face, to her neck, traveling from earlobe to the hollow of her throat, along the collarbone and back again, as the woman in her deep slumber arched against him. His head dipped, lewdly suckling on her breast, raising the rigid nipple and savaging the tender flesh between his teeth. Her legs parted, and he smiled in the triumph, his hands continuing to tweak the tender nipples as he penetrated her with one quick, deep thrust, claiming his prize.
The sleeping woman sighed as the lover formed of a distant man's will continued to possess her with quick, ever deeper thrusts, the force of his will melding with her flesh. Her slumbering form moved in counterpoint to his willed motions, taking his willed form deeper into herself, body arching, clinging to the form he created for her.
The blade was of ancient design, wickedly curved and barbed, the hilt of the knife carved with words in a tongue which had been dead 'ere the dawn of the Republic. Formed of a single piece of rock, honed to a sharpness beyond metal, beyond anything save perhaps the light saber. Glittering darkly, like the floor, like the walls, held in his hand.
The old man robed in black made no movement, his breath seeming to grow quicker, though still barely moving the darkly glittering robe he wore. No movement, no response, as the younger man moved. One quick, deep thrust. Dark, wet blood spilled onto the robe, dampening glitter, spilling onto floor, spraying across the room, marring the perfection of seamlessness.
Within the robe, eyes unseeing, ancient face losing the cunning, as the vacuousness of death took hold.
"Old fool," said the younger man, wiping his blade off on the black robes of his once-master. "Never saw it coming."
He took the cleaned knife-such a deceptively simple thing-and stowed it away in his belt.
He had not been in time. Though the once-apprentice knew it not, across the galaxy, the slumbering slave-woman moaned softly as the man of will continued his savage claiming of her. There would be no marks in the morning, no memory of this night for her, but in this moment his will overtook her, claimed her. He came, exploding from full-fledged form enveloping her sleeping form into a myriad of seed within her, the seed of will seeking the seed of flesh.
Deep under her heart, will met flesh to form a fatherless son of a slave woman adrift on the sands of a near-forgotten planet of the Outer Rim.