Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Epilogue: The Sith Will Rise Again

Lightning cascaded across the southeastern skyline of Coruscant leading toward part of the industrial sector filled with warehouses and piles of scrap metal. A heavy rain began to set in contrasting sharply with spires billowing smoke and fire that dominated the area surrounding the large tower that Darth Sidious called home. He stood sulking in his chair overlooking the fiery landscape. They had suffered severe losses but it was not all for naught. Now the existence of the Sith Lords was undeniable and the Republic along with the Jedi High Council would be on guard. This was exactly the opportunity Sidious wanted. Lost in his thoughts, he was disrupted by the sound of screams coming from several levels below. It sounded like someone—an animal—was crying out in pain.

Sidious stood up and lowered his hood revealing his normal looking face. He had gray hair with some spots of brown still in it, a rounded face with piercing blue eyes. The Dark Side had not taken away his natural charm or his good looks. The Jedi truly were easy to fool perhaps even more so than the Galactic Senators both of whom he dealt with on a regular basis. By day he was known only as Sheev Palpatine the Minister of Defense, the highest ranking civilian member of the Republican Defense Council. That position required him to serve as the chief liaison between the Galactic Senate and the Jedi High Council. No one knew of his true identity of course—outside of some very close associates. Plagueis had taught him enough about the Living Force to know how to cleverly hide his Force-signature, but he could only continue doing so temporarily. Sidious knew that one day everyone would make the connection between Palpatine and the Sith—he just needed time to put his plans into motion before the Jedi or the Republic knew what had hit them.

He entered a smaller chamber and moved down to level seven in the bowels of his ashen tower. There were several large black medical droids feverishly laboring next to a familiar looking man lying on a long slab of metal. The man was writhing in agony. Blood ran down the side one side of the metallic slab over which the droids were working.

"I am sorry I failed you. I should have fled as soon as the Republican forces gave chase…I was too ambitious…" Sidious silenced him briefly with a wave of his hand.

"Nonsense, you did not fail me at all. On the contrary, you have created an opportunity we otherwise might not have had." The man lying on the slab could not believe what he was hearing.

"But the Federation has been wiped out, without them we will never take over Alderaan."

"Alderaan will be ours soon enough as will the rest of the galaxy." Sidious paused for a moment. "You knew that the Federation was unreliable and would fail us. Their foolishness enabled us to see how the Republic responds to a crisis. But you have done much more than I could have possibly imagined." The bloodied face of the man writhed in pain. Sidious grabbed his shoulder and sat next to him. "With Qui-Gon Jinn dead…it is only a matter of time before Kenobi turns to the Dark Side of the Force." The man's eyes opened wide as he stared at Darth Sidious' face.

"What are you talking about? What of the Rule of Two?" No one had considered breaking the rule that Darth Bane had set in motion generations ago limiting the number of the Sith Lords. Sidious smiled as he moved closer to the man's face.

"It has outlived its usefulness." The thought of taking on a second apprentice inspired him. "He has grown strong my young apprentice. We will have to exploit his latent resentment against you—his bitterness—in order to turn him." The younger of the two was intrigued by this proposition but was not sure of the implications of Sidious's approach.

"Yes." He looked away for a moment. "What are you planning my Lord?"

"When I came to speak with the Jedi Council, I sensed a massive tremor in the Force. So much so that I had to speak with Kenobi alone. He confirmed my suspicions with the way he fought on Alderaan. He may be the one that Plagueis and I inadvertently summoned into existence so many years ago with that ritual."

"You believe him to be the Chosen One that the Jedi have prophesied?"

"I have felt it. With him at our side no one will be able to stop us." Another thought occurred to the younger man.

"You spoke too freely with Senator Organa about our plans for an army. If they find out what you meant before the time is right, all our work will be in vain."

"Patience my young friend, I have someone very reliable working alongside our friends in Kamino." It did not matter that Bail Organa knew about the potential existence of a clone army. Soon everyone would know the full-force of that military force as it trampled throughout the galaxy waging a massive war that would ultimately bring the Republic to its knees. The younger man's eyes opened wide again as he grunted. He felt electricity flowing through him as the droids worked on his wounds. "We can no longer work exclusively in the shadows my friend, we must give them just enough information to cast suspicion on all their closest allies before we unleash our final attack on them."

"You believe that Jango Fett is trustworthy? He's a bounty hunter. He answers only to the highest bidder. He is less trustworthy than Nute Gunray was."

"The difference is that I have offered him something far greater than simply monetary compensation." He paused and stood up gripping the hilt of his own lightsaber softly as he spoke. "I have given him what all sentient life forms dream of—the chance for immortality. Plagueis would be pleased with our efforts." That last line drew a smile from the younger man whose grunts had by now subsided. "After all, it was my master's idea to use a clone army in the first place. How to do it without the Jedi Council or the Republic knowing about it…he left entirely up to me."

"And how are those cloners progressing?"

"Slowly but steadily they are moving forward." He thought for a moment how simple it was to bring the cloners at Kamino on board. Sidious had murdered the venerable Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas and used his access codes to place the order without the knowledge of anyone. Soon they would reap the fruits of their harvest. The Kaminoans liked working under the utmost secrecy. They would never betray the orders they had been given to anyone outside of the close-knit circle of Fett and the Sith Lords. Nevertheless, in this endeavor Sidious decided it was wise to take precautions. He discreetly deleted any reference he could find to the cloners and to the mystery order of Sifo-Dyas. The Jedi were not totally foolish. They would eventually discover who placed the order for the clones to be created but by that point Sidious would have other plans in motion that would occupy them. "They need five more years for the first batch to be combat ready. But when they are, I will make it so that the Republic will have no choice but to use the troops. Republican armed forces will not be enough to counter the threats I will put before them."

That would be time enough for Sidious to return back into hiding. He did not like skulking around the shadows and alleyways of Coruscant anymore than the next bounty hunter, but he had no choice. The gambit at Alderaan had been costly in exposing the Sith but it also enabled him to see the lay of the land strategically and begin to formulate a coherent plan of attack for their next strike. The young man's voice spoke up.

"And then we will deal with Kenobi…"

"For now…we will leave him and his new apprentice alone. We will let the wounds dealt to him by the death of his master work in our favor. He cannot contain his anger and resentment forever. Sooner or later he will have no choice but to join us."

"And the House of Organa…what of their meddling?" Sidious cackled loudly, his voice reverberating throughout the cavernous room.

"Queen Amidala may have won this round but we shall see how well she is able to govern her system when I put a heavy price on her head." He paused for a moment. "I have something special planned for her. I promise you this much, we shall have our revenge."

The senior medical droid turned toward Sidious and spoke up. The remaining droids stepped away from the body that lay on the slab—almost as if it had been prepared for a funeral—as the man began to stir ever so slightly and move his limbs.

"He is ready my Lord."

"Good…excellent."

"Rise, Lord Maul…Rise!" The battered and heavily scarred figure of Darth Maul stood erect. The lower half of his body felt heavier. He stared down and saw why he felt so different than before. He took a few paces forward and almost fell over, still not entirely used to his new legs. Maul's body still rocked in pain from the previous fight. Where once there had been a spry step to him, a youthful vigor and energy, now there was hatred melded with a throbbing pain from his back and sides that never went away. He felt his chest rubbing the fresh scars dealt to him by Kenobi's lightsaber and the fall he took off of the cliffs. He moved a few more steps and saw that his old stability had returned. Darth Maul looked up at Sidious and smiled. "How do you like your new legs?" The metallic legs gleamed with a dark glow—a blackish tint mixed with red shown when the light struck it at a certain angle. Now he would strike more fear into his enemies.

"They are perfect my master."

"You will need them very soon Not all of the Jedi were fooled or satisfied by our disappearing act. You know the one I refer to."

"Dooku." Sidious nodded his head. The venerable Jedi Master had resigned his seat on the Council and had gone rogue. At least that's what the bulk of the Republic and most Jedi were led to believe. Sidious believed otherwise. There was something decidedly purposeful in Dooku's actions. He recalled the moment only weeks before when he had locked blades with the older Jedi. Sidious felt peace in Dooku but, equally so, much suspicion and doubt. Dooku questioned the very fabric of the Republic. If he had gone rogue it was with the express purpose of saving the Republic from its own vices. Nevertheless, the Dark Lord could use these conflicting feeling to advance their cause.

"Never before has a Jedi Master resigned under such circumstances. We must be mindful of him."

"Do you believe he knows of my fate?"

"There is no doubt of that Maul." Maul clenched his fists tightly as he moved to stare out the window.

"You can have the privilege of dispensing with Count Dooku. Kenobi is mine, and neither you nor anyone else will stand in my way when it comes to him. Do you understand that?" Sidious was struck by the newfound authority in Maul's voice. No one had ever uttered a command like that to Sidious—at least not since the time since Darth Plagueis had lived. A part of him was frightened by the unadulterated ambition and passion emanating from Maul. He could sense the desire for revenge is his apprentice. He hated Obi-Wan Kenobi with a passion few could feel even among the ranks of the Sith Lords. That would make Maul a formidable opponent, but it might also eventually turn him into a liability. Darth Sidious kept these thoughts to himself as he moved closer to Maul and gazed out the window.

"I understand completely my young apprentice. I promise you we will deal with them in due time." In the distance, the two men could see the outlines of the Galactic Senate and further away the mighty spires of the Jedi Temple. Their enemies had little idea how close the Dark Lords were to the center of power. In time all would be revealed and neither the Jedi nor the Republic would be able to stop them from carrying out their designs. The two Sith Lords gazed out further into the distance as a small Jedi transport made its way to the docking bay at the platform. Sidious could sense a familiar tremor in the Force. Soon enough Kenobi you will come to me. You will strike down all who stand in your way. You will come to me and give in to the Dark Side of the Force. He smiled at the thought and raised his hood as the ship landed quietly in the distance.

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