Shadows of Darkness and Light
If my apprentices failed to understand the nature and often lengthy and uncomfortable processes of healing through the more evasive side of the Force, leading them to treachery and the self-absorption of wretchedness, I must take some real responsibility for that failing. But there has been so much darkness concealing so many untruths. Among the last of the old ones’ weapons of galactic genocide were great, finely tuned monstrosities, engineered to shift the very fabric of time and reality. Fueled at their core with two supremely powerful, highly select, fossilized and impenetrably deep Khyber shards, lie machines capable of projecting immense Force Shadows, twisting and distorting entire galaxies against the elegance of their original designs, lies and shadows that so many thousands of years later we have all but been buried with.
And yet we are from a bright and warm place, a rich place of blue and green, reminiscent of my beloved Naboo, a place that can only now just be returning to an age of ice and thick caps of cold white, a place where the sol shined on good summer days, for up to twelve hours at a time and our civilization late took to the stars, millenia after others had annihilated themselves, unable to conquer their own wasteful vices. We cannot return there now, if there are still registered or known colonies of imperial humans in those systems to return to. Long lost among the star maps of the foreign regions, on the borders of the known galaxy where the Chlorian decay is among stillest, our people evolved to be Force weak among the mildest of Force sensitive systems and planets. Even as the Sith legacy became more and more concentrated within our blood and bodies, such circumstances meant the feats of a Sith’s power were all but eclipsed. By the time we found ourselves in such large numbers again on a single planet, beneath the depths of Tython, the powerful and secretive among us were natural Force users.
What is our true history? And will it not die with me if Anakin will not accept the truth? In the beginning it is all but certain that some compromises were made to protect sensitive concentrations of Force power that could be turned again to nightmare weapons, agreements made by both dark and light. But after so many thousands of years of covert slavery, the ravages of war, secret long-standing royal dictatorships and dark criminal industries that have often lasted centuries, the falsehoods of ink are not only dry, but nearly as fossilized on the parchment pages as the rarest and most powerful Khyber. Those in the galaxy who believe themselves to be in places of power soon learn that fairy-tale dragons can be quite real, and are just as dangerous, evil and terrifying as they are charismatic, and they call themselves Jedi.
Suffice it to say, we were never Jedi. That word is anathema, when they are not their own hunters and murderers, they have been the genocide of billions, now lost among the stars, through the very magic their ancestors were taught to only use for good to save and preserve all life; their personal weapons and side arm, a perversion and abuse of the sacred, life giving Khyber mineral. When the healing light is first bent and compelled to draw a straight, cutting laser with the heat and power of a thousand bolts of lightning, the sound of the crystal fracturing and breaking can be heard not only in agonizing pain through the force, but audibly as the crystal screams.
Obeying their archaic orders of powers and robed council from the fortress and prison they kept for millennia on Coruscant, their path of conquering and annihilation only became more virulent when my would be descendent Anakin Skywalker was foremost deputized among them. The onset of war was the perfect distraction for the most hardened Jedi and other galactic criminals to be released upon the battlefields, the prison dissolved and abandoned to ‘cooler and more progressive’ senatorial heads, while the guards and whole families that lived within the complex were slaughtered by those satisfied or eager to forge the bloodiest path off Coruscant. After they had annihilated each other, the Jedi finally came at last for me, through their dark imp and finally the apprentice we had sought to battle over and both dared pin our divergent goals upon.
So many of my own memories and life history they have stolen from me, attempting to place it on that unfortunate desert urchin they wrested out of a Hut Mafia execution cell, for his reputed Force prowess. They were right. He was no prophet, at least not any more than I have been. And I did fall for him, wooed by him as much as the Force was in his hands. And I did try to save him from that dark imp, so filled with evil he had come to resemble the very wisened little green devil haunting countless cautionary tales and mythological hellscapes in every corner of the civilized cosmos. But I was an arrogant fool to think I could beat the devil himself, especially at his own game.
One morning when I was still a young child my mother took me by the hand and pulled me away from the other children. I was playing a game of dice and hot scratch on the clay pavement and winning. I was confused and thought I was in trouble for using the heating elements to make scratches in the rock that occasionally burned the careless small finger. She had always taught me to respect the different forms of intelligent humanoid life that were our neighbors, especially other elders and adults.
“They are not like us Sheev.” I looked at the girl with the orange skin, red eyes and cleft montrals and she smiled back as if nothing was amiss. My mother spoke as she continued to hang our weekly laundry between the cliffs where our rounded multi-level housing compartments and street path wound towards the palace compound. And then I saw what she meant. Tobias was wearing a tunic made from the fabrics allotted to the families of the royal palace guard. He would never have to wash it. The fabric was made from dungen seal, stain proof and naturally deodorizing, but it could probably burn. The Queen used dungen seal ribbons in several of her formal hair braids. I hadn’t noticed, or maybe I thought it was not real dungen seal and some kind of less expensive imitation fabric that Tobias wore.
“We were going to go swimming.” I remember imploring, looking up at her face etched with concern and genuine care. Only the pools inside the compound were free from barnacle wasps and spider crabs. And my mother had warned me on more than one occasion that I was dangerously allergic.
“With who, the princes and princess?” She asked, plainly, without deceit.
“Come now Sheev, let’s not keep anyone waiting.” My mother insisted, the smile slowly fading from my face as I looked back at Tobias and the other children who had already returned to the game without me.
The next time I saw Tobias he was attempting to buy time and favors with a Togrutan girl who looked remarkably like our playmate that day, from a drey weed smoking Gungan bedecked head to foot in cheap sweat shop crafted Naboo gold. I couldn’t help but notice the Gungan had dark crimson red dungen seal ribbons woven through his filthy beard. The girl was also not someone I would have imagined Tobias with and had bruises on one cheek while the tip of her left montral was no longer pointed and sharp, but sunken and drooping from so many piercings in the same cleft of cartilage.
I was a third year patrol officer when Meban Amidala forfeited on more gambling debt than the whole Gungan Empire brought to the palace in their yearly tithe. He was banished by his brother who would later be celebrated and awarded for offering great mercy to the House of Amidala by retaining the extended royal line. Meban’s star cruiser was destroyed in a ‘docking incident’ above Coruscant, but his daughter was allowed to serve the people as Naboo’s youngest representative since the feuding times. Her safety was immediately in grave jeopardy and naturally her childhood was over. The first knight of her palace guard just happened to be my old friend, Tobias Dannoed.
Had I known then how strongly the eyes of the Jedi were already on the young princess and Naboo’s rare mineral technology, capable of fueling enormous starships and orbiting bases, along with my own personal technical designs, maybe we all might have had a chance, but the princess was swept away in a Jedi orchestrated, politically mechanized fate made for our people, the Gungans included, likely before the princess was even born. It was only my wise master who saved me from rushing in and using what little knowledge of the force he had taught me against an impossibly monstrous adversary, before I could even save myself, much less the princess or any of her scions.
To this day I have kept his true name out of the Jedi archives and if it is the last thing I do, his anonymity and that of his humble people will remain in secrecy. He was the first to teach me the healing arts the Jedi take for granted or forsake training in all together, in favor of more warlike ‘battle’ skills. He taught me to preserve the lives of small creatures that naturally only lived for weeks or even days, instead extending them for months or even whole years, rarely summoning the ability to resurrect small creatures from certain death all together. It was my small fuzzy green, Felvarian leech he insisted I allow to come to its natural demise that incited our first conversation about the ancient Jedi Warlock and monster.
The most reliable histories detailed reports that he had been alive in his current physical form for well over nine-hundred years, though there were stories and of course Jedi who boasted the real number was nine-thousand. His appearance alone was enough to frighten the most seasoned, battle hardened warlords, and indeed some say that he had shrunk in stature with his more perverse uses of the Force and had once been among a tall and even elegant people. That was no longer the case as his form now called to mind, the little green and red trident carrying imps and demons so often encountered in the tales of early humanoid civilizations with monsters, horned humanoids and scary devils abusing the Force in some manner. Life in the galaxy is diverse, but not quite that diverse. How strangely he must have learned to heed and cling to the darkness for the natural healing powers of the Force to evade one like him so severely; crooked perversions that would have usually corrected themselves by the most basic tenets of life that flows through us and the universe. Instead his crooked manipulations had made him stunted and a frightening deviant of even the darkest Force powers among the Jedi and even among his own long-lived species.
“His age, backwardness and fearsome power are not what should concern you dear apprentice.” My master warned shortly before he died of a long unremitting disease.
“Oh, I am not frightened. I know very well that fear is the foremost Jedi weapon and mind trick.” I lied.
“But you should be frightened. Because when they come for us, when they finally perceive us as a real threat to their lengthy plans, we will be the exact monsters in their story. We will be the tricksters of the force, the murderers of children and innocents.” And at that my master dived uncontrollably into another coughing fit that had been effectively killing him the whole time I had known him, stretching our uses of Force healing to its limits.
“It has inevitably already begun. Many of the stronger signs say it is already much too late.” He rasped, now eliciting the true fear in my visage he wished to effectively tease out of me, until there was only the unity of the two, the serenity and harmony of eternal hope in the duality of the Force that I had sworn and avowed to in my allegiance to the path of the Sith.
“I will resist them master! I will look that green Warlock directly in what living remains of his oily viscous dark eyes and say he has met the light hope of all peoples that day! The very Force he has tortured and violated will have summoned its most valiant defender to face him, the Sith!” I said with perhaps the last of my youthful convictions, only days before my Master entered the soft light forever.
“I know you will Sheev. I know you will.” My master choked and heaved. The single light saber we shared, unused in battle for over five thousand years, its pale rose colored Khyber safe and quiet, resting between us.
A more intellectual man may have enjoyed the life of a governor and politician, but my path was alongside the princess and then queen as her only true protector. When I first met the Jedi and the young boy who would become our nemesis I can’t say my first reaction was one of revolt. For the most part they resembled conventional orderlies or even elite home guards. Were these in fact the betrayers of justice across the galaxy? It was their subtle shift in values from the traditional Naboo, the little details that revealed them to be under the control of a much more sinister construct than their uniform piety at first gave way. The murder of the Dathomir palace guard, a proud race of natural mind and soul healers, who had been anonymously corresponding with my master; he was surely a novice force user and no threat to anyone, but where my studies had already brought me some masquerade, he was evidently a glaring presence of the light side of the force to them, at once a mortal enemy. And then to butcher him grotesquely the way they did, in front of the child. I see now how Anakin was a pawn already within the grasp of the evil green wizard from the very outset.
The birth of his children and then immediate death of their mother and the belief planted in him by the Jedi that they were dead was the turning point for Anakin, before Luke had even found and was turned by the old grizzled Jedi lieutenant, Kenobi. Anakin’s insistence on blood-thirsty Jedi tactics should have been obvious, but what is a Sith without hope? I wanted to believe he loved his children and truly wanted to find them to save them from whatever elements of the Jedi remained in the galaxy, especially the fearsome lieutenant Kenobi that had sworn to kill me after Anakin used the Sith saber to dispatch the first Jedi who had already tried it. I failed Anakin, Padme and their children, worse, I failed the path of peace, the rule of the unity and trust between the Two, that makes the vows and oaths of the Sith even possible.
And then the loss of Sajja before we even learned Anakin’s daughter was being weaponized against us. When the Mandalorian, one of several professionals we were increasingly compelled to keep in reserve returned Vendearess’ remains to Baron Doffin, it nearly broke him. Naturally the Jedi would twist the fate of our undoing with Leia and her brother’s training through my most prideful creation, the Moon Stars. What they did to Sajja Vendearess so many years before should have been an even more painful warning, if we’d had the luxury to heed it. The secret apprentice of Dooku, a failed Jedi and colonial Baron Prince working against the rebels, Doffin had sought me out and steeled my side as sworn protector of the Queen. His information proved the Jedi to be even more insidious than my master had suspected. Long ago we spread fine delicate webs among ancient hidden temples of healing, faith and wisdom throughout the galaxy, making it possible for those that truly wish to learn about the Force and its healing powers capable of finding us. Of course by then I was virtually the sole store of that knowledge; many Jedi do not know or even believe the Force is capable of such feats of healing and restoration. That is at is should be as we are somewhat protected and defended from their aggression and will to hunt down and assimilate or kill other Force users. But Sajja was our light, our resolution, when I could not take on Doffin as an apprentice because of so many shadows clouding his connection to the foundational Sith healing arts. She did not argue when Doffin insisted it was once again time for the Sith to take up defensive and combat training. When she lit the bright pink light of the Sith saber for the first time in so many millennia, the pain, anguish and tears in her eyes, flowing from the splintered core of the glowing crystal, were too real and would have real consequences. And yet I must forgive the Jedi for what they did to her, as I have already forgiven Anakin. As a student sometimes must teach the master, and Sajja reminded me herself, forgiveness is the Sith way, the only way.
Did I still think I had any chance against Anakin, should he confront me like my own master warned me he would one day? Did the force bring me premonitions against the Empire as a whole, after my overwhelming opposition in the senate was only too happy to use my face as the genius behind the schematics for their Moon Star Base? I warned them of their potential folly and short-sightedness with venomous sarcasm, the imperial generals in their drab fatigues standing boldly beside us:
“Who needs a galactic senate when you have an entire star destroyer base at your command?”
It has been many years now, too many. Am I even still an imperial senator? I cannot recall the last time I heard the commander called ‘Emperor’ by our subordinates even if I am certain to include it on all my official correspondence to his office. There is no more prison on Coruscant, or prison industry for hunted war criminals, but I am no longer permitted to leave the Moon Star of my own accord and all of my interactions are highly regulated, naturally to protect such an ‘asset’ from wandering Jedi, bounty hunters or other terrorists, or so I am told by the General’s council.
It is natural for a force user to create new technologies and I should have known the empire with only fleeting reticence from Anakin would construct a weapon of ultimate destruction, sealing a perpetual military presence on the peaceful co-habitants of the Moon Stars. At once they were a military target for any number of factions, including the resurgence of any Jedi terrorists. I had designed them to bring life to barren planets without gravitational seasons or ocean tides, not as weapons for the complete obliteration of entire planets. It turned out the evil of the Jedi and the green Warlock in particular did not even have to be present to spread their poison among the galaxy. Murder, though a favorite past time for beginner Jedi, is child’s play compared to the precise motives and objects of fear, hatred and enmity the Jedi Master are capable of projecting across the galaxy into the minds of Royals, Captains, Generals, Admirals and of course young apprentices to the Force in particular. While I was attempting to heal and repair the damage the Jedi had done to Anakin and his connection with the Force, the evil warlock imp and Lieutenant Kenobi were holding his son and daughter captive unbeknownst to us and planning a demise more cruel and inhuman than I dared imagine. My Moon Stars and I were sublime targets of the Jedi and a dangerous failure it seemed before I had even drawn out the schematics all those years ago on Naboo.
They say there are no storms on Naboo, that it is a paradise planet, but few oceans or reef systems have such small poisonous creatures that can kill with a single bite or sting and of course there are terrible lightning storms beneath and inside the planet, the match of any electrosphere with a more turbulent gravitational cycle. Illirium dust can only be harvested from the deep underground rock walls of the Lirrum Cavity during the very worst of the subterranean storm season, when lightning has been known to bring down whole enormous lake sized pockets splitting off from the main caverns. And without the hydro-therapy and herbal healing arts of the Gungans would be immediately fatal on contact and impossible to safely collect by hand. That is how the dust was first mined and collected, before much safer methods of extraction did not take a toll on so many born, raised and working their entire lives mining the caverns that were anything but a paradise. And I ruled over and failed to reconcile that duality as much as I have failed the Sith and Anakin, the Queen, Padme and her children.
I try to think kindly of the green wizard as the death shocks from the charged blackened fingertips of his last Jedi enervate every fiber in my body with wracking pain, as they have blinded and boiled my eyes in their sockets and caused my tongue and mouth to sputter and steam. The small sorcerer of swamp serpents and bog creatures could not have always been a monster. At some time he must have been a child like Tobias and I. Perhaps Yoda had such a hidden and enslaved childhood like Anakin or Luke on Tatooine, or the poorest Gungans in the Lirrum mines. When his apprentice finally accosted me in my more studious apartment on the Moon Star, what had the wizard planned for him to see? Another corrupt senator, a rich man, a slave driver who profited and gained from the blood off the very backs of his own countrymen, for some dust that was often found cheaper elsewhere? Will they even know, will they even have been told that I am trained in the true art they purport to follow, the true and original path of the Force, of universal peace that is the Sith? I don’t see it in them. They only allow the force to enter and flow through them with pure hatred until there is a resistance where they can block and then begin to channel it back outwards. The Force does not know anger. The Force does not know hate. And their hate is powerful and it flows through them like a violent and unrelenting tempest.
And yet they have no concept of the true immensity and power of the Force and all of its wonders. They know only a fraction, as they know those parts they have fractured from it. They only know the Force as something to be used, manipulated, an end to justify some means. As such they can only become the great death of the cosmos, foretold when all hope is lost. And as their electric hate seers into my very heart and chest, as if like the Khyber crystals they violate, so too I will slowly turn to ash. But I will not cry out like the famed seria sopranos of Coruscant. I will no longer beg for Anakin to embrace the true serenity and compassion of the Sith. I will not call out the name of my beloved Master in pain, anguish or vanity. I will not think of my mother’s unfinished goals and wishes for me when she was still young, before the sickness, like my master, took her. I will not think of my home, the lost paradise of Naboo, with the beginning and then center of our new Empire, the trappings and political machinations of so much death and war across the galaxy, the wrath of the Jedi. I will surrender to the Force, I will feel it as it flows through me and everything at once in shining rainbow brilliance like the veins of Khyber beneath Tython, and I will only hope.
All Rights Reserved – Lucas, Disney, etc.
By Thomas Corbett October 29, 2019.