- "Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen."
Palpatine, also known as Darth Sidious, was the last Chancellor of the Galactic Republic and the first Emperor of the Galactic Empire. He was a Dark Lord of the Sith who followed the Rule of Two and was considered by many to be the most powerful Sith Lord who ever existed. Palpatine was able to establish his Empire by concocting a complex master plan, which involved starting the Clone Wars, a galaxy-wide conflict that cost billions of sentient lives. Palpatine himself headed both the Galactic Republic and, secretly, the Confederacy of Independent Systems, which allowed him to prolong the conflict in order to gain more executive powers from the Senate.
When his power as Chancellor had reached its peak, Palpatine abolished the Republic and replaced it with the first Galactic Empire with himself as leader. With the Imperialization of the galaxy, Palpatine effectively had total control over its people, and was able to create one of the most powerful military forces the galaxy had ever seen. For nineteen years, Palpatine's rule would go relatively unopposed, until disgruntled former Imperial senators founded the Alliance to Restore the Republic. The Galactic Civil War would last for many years, but in 4 ABY, he was killed by Darth Vader, his former Sith apprentice who redeemed himself as the Chosen One, during the Battle of Endor. However, this did not mean the end of the Empire.
His spirit traveled to Byss, where he inhabited a clone body that he had prepared beforehand. Six years after his first death at Endor, he launched a massive offensive from the Deep Core—one that came close to destroying the New Republic. The victories, however, would not last long, as Palpatine's clones were sabotaged by the former Emperor's Royal Guard, Carnor Jax. Palpatine was killed one final time during his attempt to possess Anakin Solo's body on Onderon, when, after Han Solo shot him, Empatojayos Brand, a former Jedi Knight, bound his soul to Palpatine's, dragging Palpatine deep into the depths of the Force.
Factual information about Palpatine as a child and as a young adult is extremely hard to come by. Records pertaining to his ancestry, immediate family members, and upbringing had mysteriously vanished by the beginning of the New Order. The general assumption is that these records were destroyed to conceal his identity as a Sith, but there is another, though less credible, possibility: there may never have been a real being named Palpatine born on Naboo; Darth Sidious, whose real identity prior to becoming a Sith would therefore be completely unknown, may actually have created the identity of Palpatine in order to enter the political sphere, and so there would be no records about a fictitious ancestry and family to destroy.
Palpatine was born on Naboo, a world in the backwaters of the Chommell Sector in the Mid Rim Territories. He would claim the planetary capital of Theed, a city on the banks of the Solleu River, as his home city, but it is not certain that he was actually born there.
The names of Palpatine's parents have never been discovered, but as he himself has been described as a noble, it is likely that they too were of noble lineage. He was not an only child; the existence of a remote grandniece, Ederlathh Pallopides (b. 4 BBY) indicates that he had at least one sibling, name and gender unknown.
Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious
- "Tell me what you regard as your greatest strength, so I will know how best to undermine you; tell me of your greatest fear, so I will know which I must force you to face; tell me what you cherish most, so I will know what to take from you; and tell me what you crave, so that I might deny you…"
- ―Darth Plagueis
As difficult as it is to learn concrete facts about Palpatine's youth, information about how he became a Sith is even more scarce. Even the reason Palpatine became aware of the dark side of the Force is a total mystery. Suffice it to say that somehow, his Force-sensitivity escaped the notice of the Jedi Order; instead, his gifts came to the attention of Darth Plagueis, a Muun Dark Lord of the Sith.
It was an ancient covenant of the Sith that apprentices must slaughter someone close to them to demonstrate their commitment to the Sith cause. Though there is no specific information concerning such a murder in Palpatine's case, it can be assumed that, if Darth Plagueis adhered to his cult's precepts, he would have commanded the young Palpatine to commit such a murder, only then having proved his worthiness to become a Sith apprentice. That Darth Sidious himself would insist on this commandment being observed by his own apprentices (Darth Maul nearly killing his master, the only being he had any attachment to, Darth Tyranus killing Master Sifo-Dyas, his closest friend in the Jedi Order, and Darth Vader first participating in the murder of Mace Windu, a being he had respected, and then personally slaughtering numerous Jedi younglings) is a strong indicator that Sidious also observed it.
Having judged the young Palpatine worthy of joining the Sith, Darth Plagueis formally initiated him into the cult. Those initiation ceremonies that have been witnessed have revealed certain common elements: the apprentice-initiate went down on bended knee to humble himself before his prospective master; the initiate pledged himself to his master, to the master's teachings, and to the ways of the Sith Order; the master confirmed that the initiate was joining his destiny to that of the Sith Order of his own free will. So affirmed, the initiate was formally welcomed into the Sith Order, proclaimed a Dark Lord of the Sith, and given a new name according to the Sith tradition. Assuming, again, that Darth Plagueis properly observed his cult's traditions, it is likely that Palpatine became a Sith apprentice in this manner.
From the time of Darth Bane onward, it was common for Sith names to begin with the forename Darth, a moniker that was as much a title as a name. Many factors went into deciding on the second name. At least one, based on observed ceremonies, is that Sith masters would enter a kind of communion with the dark side of the Force, question it, and within it find inspiration, an answer. Exactly what inspiration Plagueis found in this communion has not been revealed, but Plagueis decided that, from that moment forward, Palpatine would be known as Darth Sidious.
- "My mentor taught me everything about the Force, even the nature of the dark side."
- ―Palpatine to Anakin Skywalker
Darth Sidious's apprenticeship has been described as lasting many decades, though there is no specific indication of when it began or when it ended. In that time, Plagueis trained Sidious in accordance with Darth Bane's tradition. During the course of Sidious's training, Darth Plagueis once allowed him access to a number of Sith holocrons, items that, according to the arcane writing inscribed on their pyramidal surfaces, were recorded in the days of Darth Bane. The Jedi mistakenly believed that these holocrons sat in the Archives room in their Temple, but those were actually clever forgeries, a form of Sith disinformation. How the actual and false holocrons came to their respective owners is still not known.
Under Plagueis, Sidious deeply studied Sith history, learning of the ancient Sith Lords as well as the more recent ones, such as Darth Bane.[source?] Bane's teachings were of particular note, as they were the basis of the order. Plagueis's teachings were brutal, but they successfully molded Palpatine into one of the most powerful Dark Lords since Bane.
The murder of Darth Plagueis
Plagueis was obsessed with immortality. He delved into forbidden teachings, and possessed—or sought to possess—knowledge that could sustain those who were dying, or even return them from death. Both the Jedi and the Sith had sought ways to survive death for thousands of years, without success. The most powerful of the ancient Sith Lords, particularly Darth Sion and Darth Andeddu, supposedly knew such secrets, but they had been lost or misplaced. Plagueis then began taking his research to its greatest extreme, to create new life from nothing. Eventually Plagueis told Sidious of an experiment to influence the midi-chlorians to draw life directly from the Force itself. The child that resulted, Plagueis insisted, would potentially possess astounding powers.
Sidious at once suspected that Plagueis's real intention was to "create" a new apprentice to replace him. His position threatened, Sidious decided that he had learned all he could from Plagueis, and he already had his own secret apprentice in the form of Darth Maul. Soon after, Sidious killed Plagueis in his sleep and took the title of Sith Master for himself. To make certain the same thing would never happen to him, he kept a close eye on his own apprentices, and told them only the barest minimum of information about Plagueis. For much of his life, he would be on his guard, vowing to himself never to make the mistake of sleeping as Plagueis had.
Though Plagueis had died, there is evidence to suggest that his experiment came to fruition nonetheless: on the distant desert world of Tatooine, a thirty-year-old slave woman, Shmi Skywalker, gave birth to a son, named Anakin Skywalker (42 BBY). Though much remains unknown about Skywalker's childhood, it is known that his mother had no knowledge of her son's biological father, and when Skywalker eventually became known to the rest of the galaxy, it was discovered that he had more Force potential than any Force-user in history: his midi-chlorian count passed 20,000 per cell, far beyond the most powerful Sith or Jedi (by contrast, the average count for a standard, non-Force-sensitive human was less than 2,500 per cell). Sidious kept a close watch on Skywalker as he grew, anticipating that he could be a far more powerful apprentice than Darth Maul.
The training of Darth Maul
- "Do you feel the hate? … It is the source of your strength. You still hate me. No matter. Today you have delivered yourself into my hands. I have the power of life and death over you, Maul. Someday, you will hold that power over another. It is the honor of the Sith. You will devote yourself to the idea of domination."
- ―Darth Sidious
Shortly before he had murdered Plagueis, Palpatine had spirited a young Zabrak from his family on Iridonia, and had begun training him as a Sith. It was not without precedent that Sidious should have chosen a Zabrak for his apprentice. In ancient times, the Sith, taking notice of the martial prowess of the Zabrak, made lucrative contacts on Iridonia, and spent exorbitant sums to hire Iridonian Zabrak as mercenaries. Long after the Sith culture died out, the influence of the Sith remained a part of Zabrak culture. Zabraks were known to endure extreme amounts of pain, but nothing could have prepared young Maul for the brutality of Palpatine's training. Despite Palpatine's harshness, Maul held the utmost respect for the man, and was fanatically loyal.
A visit to the Jedi Temple
When Darth Maul was very young—so young that he would remember few memories prior to this (c. 54–52 BBY)—Darth Sidious took him to the Jedi Temple, both of them disguised as tourists. Sidious's command of the dark side was sufficient to keep both himself and Maul from being sensed by the Jedi, as long as they did not enter the Temple itself. As the building was not open to tourists in any event, there was very little risk of discovery. For the better part of a day, they stood there, and Sidious pointed out to Maul the various faces of individual Jedi as they entered and left the Temple, whispering into his apprentice's ear of the Jedi Order's ultimate destruction. Maul would long remember the thrill of seeing his foes, standing in their presence, hearing about their downfall, as they walked past, not one of them aware of the fate that ultimately awaited them.
Eventually, the time came for Maul's final test. Palpatine sent him out to a remote and isolated world, where he was hunted by assassin droids for a month. At the end of the month, Maul found Palpatine waiting at the mouth of a cave. Maul had not eaten for days, and was exhausted. Regardless, Palpatine challenged Maul to a duel, in which Maul was easily defeated. Palpatine stood over the broken man, and told him that he had been preparing another apprentice, should Maul fail as he had. Enraged, Maul flew at Palpatine with murderous intent. Palpatine was caught off guard, but was able to disarm Maul. Even without a weapon, Maul continued to attack, even going so far as to bite Sidious's hand before being ultimately defeated. Pleased, Sidious announced that Maul's training was complete, and that he was now a Sith Lord.
Before Palpatine could launch his grand plan for the extinction of the Jedi, he had to deal with a variety of dark side practitioners. The Sun Guard, the Sorcerers of Tund, and the Dark Force practitioners were all brought into line, and under Palpatine's direct control. The Sorcerers of Tund had in fact been almost completely eliminated by the last member, Rokur Gepta. Palpatine was intrigued by the Tundian secrets, and later would give Gepta the title of Scrivinir of the Centrality. In addition, Palpatine enlisted the Dark Force adherents, who were led by former Jedi Master Kadann, known as the Prophets of the Dark Side.
- "This Palpatine was a Rodian in Ewok's clothing!"
- ―Mon Mothma
The beginning of Palpatine's political career
Palpatine began his political career at a young age, carefully hiding his true persona of Darth Sidious. On Naboo, public service was mandatory from the ages of twelve to twenty, and he began his political career in this fashion (70–62 BBY). Unlike most of the Naboo, however, he elected to stay in politics beyond the normally accepted age. He entered local Naboo politics (62–52 BBY), working his way upwards. He lost more elections than he won, missing out on a string of political appointments.
When Senator Vidar Kim, Naboo's representative in the Galactic Senate, was assassinated by a never-identified gunman on a passing airspeeder (52 BBY), the thirty-year-old Palpatine stood for election to succeed him. The people of Naboo elected him as their sectorial Senator, to represent Naboo and the thirty-five other affiliated worlds of the Chommell Sector. It is not known if Palpatine, Plagueis, or any of their allies had anything to do with the murder, but whoever ordered it, only Palpatine stood to gain from it.
The Sistros statue
When Palpatine first came to Coruscant to begin his service in the Senate, a number of his personal effects came with him from Naboo, accompanied by a manifest. The manifest was submitted to Republic officials as part of a standard security scan. This procedure was mandatory for all equipment and furniture to enter the Senate building. One of these items was an abstract sculpture of Sistros, one of the Four Sages of Dwartii (these were controversial philosopher-lawgivers who lived during the early days of the Republic—the others were Faya, Yanjon, and Braata).
Palpatine's manifest clearly stated that this sculpture was a single piece of solid-forged neuranium with a bronzium finish. But the sculpture was not solid; it contained a small cylindrical cavity, in which rested one of his Sith lightsabers, sealed within the sculpture at the time of its forging. The security scan did not detect this cavity; neuranium was so dense that any piece more than a millimeter in thickness was impervious to sensors, and since nothing unusual was found in the scan, no one questioned it further. An advanced gravimetric detector would have revealed that one small section of the sculpture massed slightly less than it should have, but no one thought to use one at the time. The sculpture was admitted and placed in Palpatine's Senate offices (the floor had to be specially reinforced to bear its weight), and when Palpatine was elected Chancellor it was moved into the anteroom of his Suite in the Executive Office Building. Only after thirty-three years would Palpatine extract the blade within.
The senator's first "friendship"
- "Through me, you might have a voice in the shaping of the Republic. Through you, I better understand the Jedi and their ways."
- ―Palpatine to Ronhar Kim
The new representative of Chommell Sector wasted no time in forming relationships that could help him in the future. The first was the son of the man whose death ensured his own election. Ronhar Kim was a Jedi who had forsworn his family ties but had also been present to witness his father's murder. Palpatine approached the younger Kim even as he stood before his father's body, lying in state. Under his mask of sorrow and condolence, he studied Kim carefully. But he said little; instead, he demonstrated an art that would serve him well, and give him access to the powerful: his ability to listen, to serve as a confidant for others.
During their conversation, it quickly became clear that, rather than finding whoever struck down the father he had barely known, Kim was more concerned about himself and his own choices in life: Vidar Kim, lacking any other living family, had wanted his son to honor his bloodline again, perhaps follow him into politics. But Palpatine suggested that for a Jedi to become a politician would be a waste. Instead, perhaps the best course would be an alliance between a Jedi and a politician.
Kim agreed, and struck up a "friendship" that would last some three decades. Ronhar Kim would be the first of Palpatine's "alliances" with individual Jedi, but this particular alliance would be of great use: Kim would eventually be used as a pawn in a scheme that resulted in the creation of the feared Red Guards (32 BBY), and his eventual death in battle on Merson (21 BBY) would be used as propaganda fuel to further Palpatine's war aims. For these reasons, it can be said that a significant portion of the machinery that would destroy the Jedi would be created, unknowingly, with the help of Ronhar Kim.
Palpatine in the Senate
By the time Palpatine stepped onto the Senate floor for the first time, he already knew that the prominent power-brokers in the Senate looked down their noses at the more provincial delegates, expecting little to nothing of importance from them. He knew that he, too, was lumped in with the other hopefuls from Rimward worlds, those who, having never ventured far from their homeworlds before, would in short order be overwhelmed by Coruscanti politics.
Rather than do anything to prove the elites wrong, Palpatine encouraged them to keep thinking this way. Again, he failed to take advantage of opportunities that could have landed him on important advisory boards and powerful committees, and unless pressed, he never shared his observations with his colleagues; apparently he purposely sought to keep his advancement slow, knowing that the more he did so, the more harmless he seemed to potential rivals. The performance evidently worked; the powerful Senators, wrapped up in their own petty power struggles, simply laughed at the small and quiet provincial, and otherwise paid him no mind.
Palpatine surprised everyone as he became increasingly popular. He wrote extensively, his notes on power becoming popular texts among political and military science students, his theories even taught at leading universities throughout the galaxy. Despite this growing influence, Palpatine remained unassuming, and would spend many hours alone reflecting in his modest, yet well-appointed quarters. People remarked on how he remained a private man, rarely attending social functions, devoting all his time to his work. In fact, he spent much of his time in the training of Darth Maul and the furthering of his private Sith agendas; it was left to his senatorial aides and to droids, such as TC-4 to do much of the day-to-day work and maintain his guise as the mild-mannered representative of Naboo.
Friends and allies
Senator Palpatine began establishing relationships with respected public figures in key positions of government. As it grew, the list of friends included Senators both weak and powerful, military officers, members of the great organs of commerce, and even members of the Jedi Order. Many of those with whom he formed friendships would eventually have prominent positions in the Empire. Others would meet radically different fates.
Palpatine served as part of a Republic task force sent to monitor the demilitarization of Ando, where the two native species had resumed a long-standing feud over mining rights. It was here that he met Jorus C'baoth, a Jedi who was also a member of the expedition. Palpatine took advantage of the encounter to establish what would become a long-standing friendship with C'baoth. Upon returning to Coruscant, they often met to discuss politics, philosophy, and the state of the Republic. Eventually, at Palpatine's request, the Jedi Reassignment Council sent C'baoth to act as his personal advisor, and C'baoth became part of his staff. One thing they discussed during their time together held promise for the future: they spoke of the ExGal Society, a small, dedicated group of scientists studying the possibilities of life outside the galaxy, and the idea of an excursion beyond the galactic rim. It would be conversations like this that would result in the ill-fated Outbound Flight project.
Janus Greejatus, then a politician on Chommell Minor, had established himself as an isolationist—in fact his political language concealed a virulent anti-alien prejudice that stemmed from his earliest formative years—with a significant popular following on his homeworld. Through circumstances not known, Greejatus came to the attention of Senator Palpatine. Palpatine did not echo Greejatus's more divisive statements, understanding that they would only do harm to his own long-term plans, but he did see a use for Greejatus and took him under his wing. Palpatine's own feelings are a mystery, but Greejatus labored under the impression that theirs was a firm friendship. That friendship, if such it was, would endure for more than three decades.
Commander Terrinald Screed, then a young officer in the Republic Judicial Department, was contacted by Palpatine, and found that his own ideas easily meshed with those of the Senator. With the coming of the New Order, Screed, now an Admiral, would become one of the highest-placed officers in the new Imperial Navy.
Lieutenant Governor Wilhuff Tarkin, a government official on Eriadu who was descended from a ruthless and ambitious family, was contacted by Darth Sidious, who convinced Tarkin that they actually shared many of the same sentiments on government. It is not certainly known if Tarkin ever was aware that Palpatine and Sidious were the same person, but he served both faithfully and long. Even as the New Order was inaugurated, Tarkin was placed in charge of the construction of Palpatine's most secret weapons projects.
Lord Crueya Vandron, the head of a noble house in the Senex Sector, secretly joined Palpatine's camp. After the Empire was inaugurated, Vandron would become an advisor and the head of COMPNOR.
Senator Palpatine also brought his own loyal aides with him from Naboo and elsewhere. They served him in legitimate political and legal roles, but they also worked his will in darker and more secretive ways. It would be these functionaries who earned the greatest rewards, with the exception of Palpatine's Sith accomplices, that could be bestowed in the New Order.
Palpatine had maintained Sate Pestage as an aide ever since he had been but a minor functionary on Naboo. Pestage performed the day-to-day duties of a senatorial aide, but he also was fully aware of Palpatine's secret identity of Darth Sidious and willingly served Sidious as a covert operative. Under the New Order, Pestage was made Grand Vizier and given the power to control all access to the Emperor.
Palpatine treated Pestage's colleague, Kinman Doriana, in a similar fashion. Doriana had a kind of unspoken wish to be a spy, and Sidious indulged this by assigning him to perform covert work, but unlike Pestage, Doriana was not informed of the secret connection between Sidious and Palpatine. As far as Doriana was aware, they were separate people, and he performed tasks for both without realizing the truth. His service was so valuable that, years after his death, it was said that Palpatine could only fill his shoes with three others: Darth Vader, Thrawn, and Mara Jade.
The ruthless Ars Dangor was also an aide to Senator Palpatine at this time, though information about his activities is far more scarce. Dangor was eventually given a prime place among the Imperial Advisors, and Palpatine consulted with him on galactic-security issues, especially those dealing with the Rebellion. He ran much of the day-to-day affairs of the Empire, and as Dangor, like his master, was a powerful and charismatic public speaker, he was also responsible for all public addresses.
In 33 BBY, Sidious's shadow ally, Lieutenant Governor Wilhuff Tarkin, helped Sidious to engineer the murder of the Trade Federation Directorate, which were on Tarkin's homeworld of Eriadu for a trade summit. The pirate raids on the Trade Federation that had led to the summit had also been orchestrated by Palpatine, as was Nute Gunray's rise to power as Viceroy.
Shortly afterwards, Palpatine secretly funneled several million credits, believed to have been stolen by the Nebula Front, through the Bank of Aargau, and into the accounts of House Valorum. Palpatine's aide, Sate Pestage, ensured that the exchange was uncovered by Valorum's political enemy, Senator Orn Free Taa, who revealed it to the Internal Activities Committee, thus critically weakening Chancellor Finis Valorum's already tenuous hold on power.
In 32 BBY, Sidious convinced the Neimoidian leaders of the Trade Federation to blockade the planet Naboo, in protest of Senate resolution BR-0371, a measure that levied a tax on the major Rim trade routes. Sidious kept his identity of Palpatine unknown to the Neimoidians, although he revealed that he was a Sith Lord and made it quite clear that he held some power in the Senate.
The Naboo crisis (32 BBY)
- "At last we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi. At last we will have revenge."
- ―Darth Maul speaking to his master.
Over the past year, Palpatine had moved the major pieces into position. The Trade Federation was now angered, threatened, and led by weak individuals controlled by him. Chancellor Valorum could also be controlled by him, a huge advantage. And, finally, the monarch of Naboo had been replaced by a new one, as malleable as the rest. Palpatine now had control of every side of the board. It was time for the next round of the game. This was the Naboo crisis, the point where all the other plots intersected and dealt the first crippling blows to the Republic.
The blockade of Naboo
The Trade Federation rapidly built up its forces in the Naboo system, assembling enough battleships to ensure a tight blockade. At Sidious's command, they closed the planet off and strangled its formerly thriving trade business. No supply ships could land or take off. Then the Federation secured the outer gate to the system by stationing a battleship at Station TFP-9, its own outpost at the outer edge of the system, to ward off the curious and advertise the act to all who would listen. The last free entrance was closed off, and all incoming ships were informed that the Federation was acting in protest of the illegal taxes that the Republic had levied against them. The blockade of Naboo was an accomplished fact.
For the next month, the Senate debated fiercely, but did nothing to help the Naboo. The Federation's representative, Lott Dod, successfully argued that they had not yet violated any Republic laws; they had attacked no ships, nor had they moved against Naboo itself. And if no outright crime had been committed, the Judicial Department could not act. The stalling further weakened the Valorum government; their defiance of his measures was in itself damaging, but the longer it went on, the more impotent Valorum appeared. Partly to allow this perception to widen, Palpatine kept his monarch, Queen Amidala, from disrupting his plans, urging her to be patient and wait until the Senate reached a decision.
Amidala proved harder to rein in than expected: her patience spent, she contacted Valorum and told him that she held him personally responsible for her world's suffering. Shocked, pushed into a corner by his own conscience, and desperate to shore up his crumbling support, Valorum decided to act. He would call for a special session of the Senate to discuss the blockade, but to give him a strong bargaining position, he needed the battleships sent away from Naboo. He decided to send the Jedi to Naboo as ambassadors, hoping they would shake the Neimoidians' confidence and show them he meant business.
The invasion of Naboo
Palpatine may not have known Valorum's full plans, since the Chancellor went directly to the Jedi Council without informing the Senate as the law required. Eventually he learned about the ambassadors, but not that those ambassadors were Jedi. The presence of a Jedi Master, Qui-Gon Jinn, and his Padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi, took him by surprise. When the panicked Neimoidians told him, he fought hard both to manage his own anger and to get the Neimoidians under control, to focus them on the next task. The Jedi had been brought into the picture sooner than he would have liked, and Sidious ordered the Neimoidians to begin landing their troops. As for the Jedi, he had plans for them also, and he ordered them to be killed. The Neimoidians acted accordingly, destroying the cruiser that had delivered the Jedi and immediately jamming all communications. Then, the conference room the Jedi were in was flooded with dioxis. The Jedi however, survived.
The invasion went splendidly. Within a day, most of the major cities, including the capital, were in Federation hands. Amidala was captured with her entire retinue, and the Neimoidians presented her with a treaty that would bring an air of legitimacy to the invasion. But she never signed it; instead, the Jedi, far from being dead, had escaped, rescued Amidala and her retinue, and commandeered a ship bound for Coruscant, successfully evading dozens of heavily-armed battleships in the escape. Sidious was livid, or seemed so. He took the opportunity to introduce them to Maul. But despite the anger Sidious showed to his Neimoidian agents, Amidala's escape did not inconvenience him. Had he been anyone other than the Senator from Naboo, his plans would have been greatly harmed. But it was the very fact of his public identity that ensured that, come what may, he would have little trouble in finding her, no matter where she fled. He had an inside source: Amidala herself.
The search for Queen Amidala
After Amidala's ship was damaged in the escape, Jinn and Kenobi recommended that they land on Tatooine, an obscure desert world in the Arkanis Sector, to repair the ship before going on. Amidala agreed, and they made for Tatooine, bringing this backwater planet into the spotlight for the first time. She signaled Palpatine, informing him that the ship had been damaged, was waylaid (she did not say where, in case the Federation was monitoring her communications) and that they would arrive after making repairs. Palpatine could now trace the signal to find out exactly where she landed. He handed the signal data over to Maul, giving him what he needed to find his prey. In a very short time they had narrowed the search to Tatooine.
The Neimoidians too tried to track Amidala, crafting a desperate-sounding message from Sio Bibble to be sent to her ship. They failed to get anything of use, but, desperate to stay in Sidious's good graces, they reported their scant findings. Maul knew the arid world had a small population, so it would not take long to find them. Sidious told him to move against the Jedi first and then take the queen. But Sidious also knew that Plagueis's "experiment" was on Tatooine. If the Jedi interfered, the child could be tainted, less susceptible to Sith teachings. Sending Maul to kill the Jedi under the cover of retrieving Amidala would prevent that. This was one reason why Maul was instructed to move against them first. But Sidious may not have told this to Maul; there is no mention of the boy in Maul's journals prior to his visit to Tatooine. As far as Maul knew, he was going to kill the Jedi and bring Amidala back to Naboo by any means necessary.
Maul left for Tatooine, but, he failed to kill the Jedi or retrieve Amidala. Soon after, Palpatine was surprised to find the queen arriving on Coruscant, determined to rouse the Senate to her cause. One of Sidious's more trusted non-Sith agents, Kinman Doriana, who was present for these events, indicated—or at least believed—that the original plan was to use the occupation of Naboo, which they expected to last for months or even years, to create turmoil and paralysis in the Senate, which Sidious and his agents could have used to devastating effect. The eventual goal, to lever Palpatine into the position of Chancellor, would likely have been achieved nonetheless, but more gradually. But Sidious was as capable at improvisation as he was at careful planning. He saw a new plan, one that would work far better than the first one.
The senator commands the monarch
Palpatine requested an audience with Queen Amidala in his apartments at 500 Republica to go over strategy. He had spent the last six months cultivating the queen's trust, knowing she would heed him better than Veruna would have. It was all for this moment, when, in a crisis, she had to rely on him. She came believing the Senate would help her, but Palpatine slammed the door in her face by announcing, with mock disgust, that the Senate was long past caring about the common good. Worse, the corruption scandal had weakened Chancellor Finis Valorum more than she had thought. Both the Senate and Valorum were closed off to her as options. That left her with nothing but the options Palpatine offered.
He gave her two: she could move for a Vote of No Confidence in Chancellor Valorum, and push for the election of a more effective leader, or she could take the matter to the courts. In offering her this choice, Palpatine risked nothing. Amidala had pinned her hopes on a quick resolution of the crisis. The longer Naboo starved under Federation occupation, the more of her people would die. If there was to be a solution, it had to be now. And the courts took even longer to decide things than the Senate. He had given her an option he knew she would never choose, could never choose.
So Amidala had to decide between working in the courts, while the death toll on Naboo rose to unimaginable numbers, or heeding her trusted Senator's advice. More specifically, she had to choose between Valorum or her homeworld. As expected, she chose Naboo. Only fourteen and still new to the throne, she had all the qualities of the great leader she would eventually become, but little experience. If Palpatine, who knew the Senate in ways she did not, said that Valorum had become an obstacle, that was enough for her.
The fall of Chancellor Valorum
- "Enter the bureaucrats, the true rulers of the Republic, and on the payroll of the Trade Federation, I might add. This is where Chancellor Valorum's strength will disappear."
- ―Palpatine to Queen Amidala
The long-anticipated special session of the Senate—the last under the Valorum government—had only two items on its agenda: a hearing of the Naboo delegation's case, and a debate on the Trade Federation's continued opposition to BR-0371. Few expected it to be anything other than routine. Palpatine alone knew what was coming. He knew that the Federation's representative, Lott Dod, would stall the proceedings with every procedural tool at his command. He also knew that the vice chair, Mas Amedda, would keep Valorum shackled by procedure no matter what. And he knew that, in the face of an attempt to stall, Amidala would have no choice but to act as he had suggested.
During the session, Dod and his allies threw up objection after objection; Amidala, unable to even finish her plea, grew more and more frustrated. Finally, Dod moved that a Senate committee be created to determine if her "accusations" were valid, citing senatorial procedures that Amidala had no hope of understanding. Then, Amedda pulled Valorum aside, subtly forcing him to concede that Dod was within his rights. When Valorum then asked Amidala to defer her motion to allow the committee to do its work, it was the last straw. She saw with her own eyes that Palpatine was right—Valorum was ineffective—and she had nowhere left to go. Palpatine hid his satisfaction as, next to him, Amidala delivered the words that sealed Finis Valorum's fate.
- "I will not defer. I have come before you to resolve this attack on our sovereignty now. I was not elected to watch my people suffer and die while you discuss this invasion in a committee. If this body is not capable of action, I suggest new leadership is needed. I move for a Vote of No Confidence in Chancellor Valorum's leadership."
- ―Queen Amidala before the Galactic Senate in 32 BBY
Valorum was thunderstruck, but by the time he could recover, events had moved past him. Senator Edcel Bar Gane of Roona seconded Amidala's motion, and the vote was on the floor. The Senate had waited for this for months, perhaps years, and so unpopular was Valorum that they fell on him with abandon, demanding a vote. It was all the Chancellor could do to postpone the vote until the following day. Palpatine already knew it would be a vote the Valorum government would not survive. It now remained only for him to ensure that he would be the one filling Valorum's shoes.
The scramble for the chancellorship
- "I feel confident that our situation will create a strong sympathy vote for us. I will be Chancellor."
The sudden power vacuum left a choice for the two major factions in the Senate. The loyal Senators saw the danger of an unstable government and sought to elect a strong leader to truly clean up the corruption in the Senate. The corrupt Senators wanted stability too, if only so they could continue plundering the system, and sought a figurehead who would provide the appearance of stability and just look the other way while they fattened themselves. Bail Antilles, representative of Alderaan, was the choice of the loyal Senators, while Ainlee Teem, representative of Malastare, was the choice of the corrupt Senators. These two nominations came as no surprise; both had been campaigning for months, even before the corruption scandal.
Much of the back-room politicking that led to Palpatine's nomination has been lost to history. What is known is that he had been working for months to catch the attention of an influential clique in the Senate, led by Senator Orn Free Taa of Ryloth. Taa was not satisfied with Teem or Antilles. As early as the breaking of the corruption scandal, Palpatine had caught Taa's eye as a potential compromise candidate. From Taa's point of view, it made sense: Palpatine had few enemies in the Senate, and many friends, ensuring that all factions could work well with him. Thus, it can be assumed either Taa or one of those Senators in his circle nominated Palpatine.
Palpatine returned to 500 Republica certain that the tide was with him. He declared to Amidala that he would become the next Chancellor, and meant it. In fact, he had already made certain of it. Even in the midst of all his preparations for the Naboo crisis, Sidious had availed himself of his connection to the Thyrsian Sun Guard. Before Valorum's recall ever came to a vote, Sidious had made use of these Sith mercenaries to assassinate a discreet, though pivotal, number of Senators whose votes could have endangered his scheme. Exactly which Senators were killed is not known, but they would have been the ones most likely to tip the balance of votes decisively in favor of his competition.
The election of Palpatine
When the Senate convened the following day to vote on the no confidence motion, the outcome was a foregone conclusion. Valorum had few friends left, and the Senate so wanted him gone that they did not hesitate. Finis Valorum was swiftly voted out in a humiliating defeat. His political career in ruins, he spent years in seclusion, waiting for the public's distaste for him to wear off. When he finally realized just what role his removal had played in Palpatine's grander scheme, Valorum made one last small but brave attempt to hold back the avalanche, but by then it would be too little, too late. Future generations, however, would look more kindly on him.
In his absence, the Senate voted for a successor. Probably, neither Antilles nor Teem could garner enough votes to achieve an effective majority, especially when the recent murder of certain delegates had removed some decisive votes from the equation. Rather than face a voting deadlock, the Senate eagerly embraced the third option. Antilles's supporters could take heart that Palpatine had seemingly kept his distance from the corrupt Senators during his tenure. Teem's supporters were encouraged by his apparent docility. Almost every faction in the Senate had become convinced that while he was incorruptible, he would work nonetheless to further their specific interests.
But the ultimate deciding factor, as Palpatine intended, was the groundswell of sympathy for the representative of besieged Naboo. Palpatine could rightfully claim that Valorum had promised to do all he could for Naboo in a time of crisis, and failed. Perhaps it was proper, many believed, that Palpatine himself should be given the chance to make things right. With such weight behind him, Palpatine received the most votes by far, becoming Chancellor—the last being ever to hold the title—by an overwhelming margin. He promised to reunite the disaffected among the people and restore the remembered glories of the Republic. No one could have realized that they had elected the leader of an order dedicated to destroying the Republic.
The liberation of Naboo
Even before Palpatine's election, Amidala declared her intention to reclaim Naboo from the Trade Federation. He made a show of concern and tried half-heartedly to keep her from going. She left anyway, taking both Jinn and Kenobi with her for protection. Thus she had taken all his enemies along with her into what could only be a death trap. He and Darth Maul contacted the Neimoidians on Naboo, instructing them to kill Amidala, and notified them that Maul would be joining them to deal with the Jedi personally. Then he sent his apprentice off, with orders to make certain the Neimoidians killed the Queen, and that the Jedi fell by his own hand.
Even while Sidious managed the election on Coruscant, he made time to go over the progress reports from Naboo that Maul was frequently sending to him. As they came in, Amidala's behavior seemed more and more baffling: not only did she manage to escape Gunray's reach, but she had forged an alliance with the Gungans and assembled an army in the Lianorm Swamp, possibly in preparation for a strike against the Federation occupation force. If true, she was acting far more aggressively than her tactical position suggested; he doubted she would last even five minutes in such a contest. He gave his approval to Gunray's plan to meet the Gungans head-on.
In truth, the outcome of what would be called the Battle of Grassy Plains mattered little to him. He had only sent Maul to Naboo, and ordered Gunray to destroy the Gungan army, to keep up the facade that he had an interest in Naboo, to keep the Neimoidians from seeing his true motives. Regardless of who won the battle, Palpatine would benefit: if Amidala and her defenders fell, she would become a martyr he could use to justify further and more decisive action against the Trade Federation, and if they succeeded, he could use her victory as a symbol of the new take-charge attitude the Republic would be showing under his guidance. Either way, he would be seen as a decisive leader, and validate his election.
Palpatine was soon informed that Amidala had triumphed. Against all odds, she had retaken her throne, and taken Gunray and Haako into custody. Of all the possibilities, he had not expected this one to come to pass, but in the end it did not matter. The occupation had already served its purpose. And his state visit to Naboo after the battle tied himself firmly with that victory. The loss of Maul, however, might have seemed like a defeat for Palpatine.
Whether this truly was is unknown. Palpatine himself has presented two conflicting points of view on the matter. The first, written as an addendum to the late Maul's journal very soon thereafter, indicates he was displeased with the outcome. "Defeated by a young boy, a naive girl and a Jedi Apprentice. It was not a good day." He also indicates that Anakin Skywalker had not come to his notice before now. The second, recorded many years later in the Telos Holocron, is quite different. He claimed that he had seen that Skywalker, whom had come to the attention of the Jedi Council just days prior, would ultimately become his apprentice and sacrificed Maul to this end. Maul was but a tool whose goal was to rattle the Jedi's long-complacent attitude regarding the Sith and to act as the catalyst for the relatively inexperienced Obi-Wan Kenobi to train Anakin.
All of this, he would claim in the Telos Holocron, was carefully planned and executed by Palpatine, although he had considered using Maul to pick off individual Jedi and act as a major distraction to the Order. Sidious likely had to rearrange his overall plan to take into account Maul's death once he foresaw his apprentice's death. He did express some regret at the loss of a valuable tool, but that was all; for all the childlike loyalty Maul had shown him, it was never returned.
In any case, he had gained far more than he had lost. He had also learned the role that a certain Anakin Skywalker, a former slave boy from Tatooine, had played in the liberation. Though barely large enough to reach the controls, he had piloted a fighter straight into the Federation control ship and destroyed it. He had caught the eye of the Jedi Council itself; suspicion was growing that he might even be the Chosen One of ancient Jedi prophecy, and after much debate the Masters decided he would be apprenticed to Kenobi. Sidious would have preferred it if the experiment had stayed on Tatooine, living an anonymous life, free from Jedi influences, but eventually he could still make the boy his. He made a promise to Anakin in the celebration, telling him his career would be watched with "great interest." He would keep this promise.
Returning to Coruscant after the victory celebrations, he must surely have had much to celebrate himself. True, the Jedi now knew of the Sith's return and their involvement in the crisis, and for more than a century the Jedi had been aware of rumblings that there were neither more nor less than two Sith at a time. They might search for that "second Sith," but such searches never could lead to him. They had claimed his apprentice, but he already had his eyes on the charismatic Count Dooku, whom would serve him as an adequate replacement until the young Skywalker was ready to be turned. The Jedi were now afraid, and that gladdened him. The greatest prize had been won. The Republic that the Jedi sought to defend was already in Sith hands.
An end to loose ends
Quickly, Palpatine removed incriminating materials left over from the crisis. Republic investigators had seized both Maul's ship, Scimitar, and his droid C-3PX on Naboo. Both contained knowledge best not revealed. But Scimitar refused to yield its treasures; the first Republic Intelligence technicians to try inspecting the ship were gunned down by security probe droids, and their bungled attempt caused the flight, weapons and communications systems to self-destruct, leaving little more than a burned-out carcass. When they called in Jedi Master Saesee Tiin to secure the ship, Tiin also found the onboard computers completely erased. There would be no clues about the "second Sith" from that quarter. Sidious had sacrificed the ship and all its equipment—Maul's surveillance gear, his explosives, his poisons and torture devices, and his speeder, Bloodfin. But it was worth it, just for the fear that ate at Tiin as he left the Infiltrator:
- "That ship is alive with the dark side, Master Yoda. I can feel it clinging to my robes. And worse, it still tempts me, calling me back with promises of fantastic journeys to the far reaches of the galaxy."
- ―Saesee Tiin
Tiin recommended that the ship's carcass be placed in the care of the Jedi Council, but the Senate representative from Kuat lobbied successfully to give Kuat Drive Yards an opportunity to study it. Before it could ever reach a KDY facility, however, it disappeared, at least officially. Few were aware that it had actually been diverted back to Naboo and stored in a clandestine hangar in Theed, an easy feat in a Republic so bloated that its left hand did not know what its right was doing—especially when Palpatine was guiding both hands. As for the droid, Palpatine saw to it that C-3PX's possibly incriminating memory was erased, then remanded it to the custody of Raith Sienar. Under Sienar and subsequent masters, the droid was re-tasked for other uses, and throughout the rest of its operational life, whether as a corporate espionage droid, a bounty hunter, even as an assassin, it had no inkling of its link to Sidious's former apprentice.
- "The Chancellor loves power. If he has any other passion, I have not seen it."
- ―Mace Windu to Obi-Wan Kenobi
The new Chancellor kept himself busy during the eight years of his legitimate tenure. Much of this work was an intrigue that would eventually cause catastrophic bloodshed, the Clone Wars. But he had other projects, smaller but effective, that further undermined the Jedi and the Republic they served. Many (such as the Outbound Flight Project) were designed to whittle away the Jedi ranks, a few at a time, to make his task easier when the time came to purge them entirely. And as he carried out these murderous intrigues, always he cloaked himself in the image of a responsible leader. This was the Republic under Palpatine.
Palpatine and Mas Amedda
One of Palpatine's first decisions as Chancellor was to maintain Mas Amedda as his vice chair and Speaker of the Senate. He had gone to great lengths to persuade Senator Taa's clique to nominate Amedda in the first place, and the Chagrian had performed exactly as expected. Amedda had been Valorum's friend, but he was loyal to his ideal of the Republic first, and to the Republic's laws and regulations. That strict adherence to the law had hamstrung Valorum as Palpatine had expected, and Palpatine saw that Amedda had the potential to remain useful in the long run. Amedda, like so many others, mistook Palpatine's mild temperament for malleability, and saw a unique opportunity to manipulate Palpatine into bringing the Republic back to what he had envisioned it had been, and Palpatine encouraged this naïvete: in his first years in office the new Chancellor made himself appear open to suggestion, enacting some legislation that Amedda brought to his desk.
But while he kept his mask on in Amedda's presence, Palpatine was also gathering information on the Chagrian to use as leverage. Shortly after the destruction of Outbound Flight (27 BBY), a project for which Amedda had passionately lobbied, Palpatine revealed to Amedda that he had ordered the mission's destruction and, furthermore, that he was actually a Sith Lord, Darth Sidious, sworn enemy of the Republic and the Jedi Order. At this point it was far too late for Amedda to tell anyone; Palpatine had enough incriminating material on him to keep him muzzled for life. Palpatine explained that he had known all along that Amedda and others had tried to manipulate him, but in truth, he had manipulated them, pitting them against each other. With little choice, Amedda became a willing member of the conspiracy. With the coming of the New Order, he would continue to serve Palpatine and keep his secrets, not paying too much heed to the thought that, eventually, his knowledge would make him more a liability than an asset.
Palpatine and Janus Greejatus
Palpatine's ascension to the position of Chancellor left a small problem; someone had to assume the now-vacant position of representative for Chommell Sector in the Senate. He used his influence to promote the election of Janus Greejatus from Chommell Minor, one of his political allies. Greejatus had long since demonstrated that he had a keen political mind, and though Palpatine could not be seen embracing them openly, Greejatus's anti-alien isolationism can be presumed to have served Palpatine's purposes. Still, the election did not long stand; his isolationism was at odds with Naboo's newfound multicultural stance, and prominent political voices on Naboo cleared their throats almost immediately. Eventually, Greejatus was replaced (ca. 30 BBY) by Horace Vancil of Naboo, but Palpatine continued to keep him close, making Greejatus one of his advisors.
The offices of the new chancellor
Palpatine maintained his private senatorial apartment at 500 Republica as his main residence, but according to custom he also moved into the Chancellor's Suite in the Republic Executive Building. Exercising the traditional prerogative to decorate the office as he saw fit, he purged all traces of Finis Valorum from it and made it practically a mirror image of his apartment. Within weeks, no one who had spent any time in the Suite during the Valorum government would have recognized it. Yet again he hid his Sith nature in plain sight: the color red now dominated the decor, and priceless objets d'art—many of them Sith heirlooms too obscure to be recognized as such—were moved in.
But there were two especially important pieces Palpatine brought in. The first was a new Chair of Office, black, throne-like, armored with ultra-dense lanthanide alloy. This chair, with certain modifications, would be his seat of power for more than four decades, and copies of it would be installed in every ship, outpost, and facility Palpatine was likely to visit. The second, and even more important piece, was a neuranium sculpture of Sistros, concealing one of his Sith lightsabers, sealed within the sculpture at the time of its forging. This he placed in the anteroom. Other reserve blades, and his black cloak and hood, he concealed in other art objects or in shielded compartments throughout the Suite, until the time when he would at last put them to use.
The coming of the Red Guard
It was at this time the controversial and crimson-robed Chancellor's Guard, or simply Red Guard, first appeared. The original impetus for the Guard was a Captain Prid Shan of the Senate Guard. As potential threats to the Chancellor's person increased, Shan began rocking the boat, demanding that the Senate provide additional funding to upgrade the equipment and training of the Guards and assign a Guard detachment strictly to the protection of the Chancellor. Publicly, Palpatine feigned embarrassment at the notion of trained soldiers specifically protecting his person—he wanted just such a bodyguard unit, but could not afford to be seen as directly advocating one. A personal guard for a chief of state was seen as a violation of the Republic's principles, and some in the Senate objected. The solution was to create a situation where one could be forced on him, so he devised a means to make it clear that Shan's concerns were valid.
Palpatine arranged for his "friend," the Jedi Ronhar Kim—son of his late predecessor as Naboo's representative, and one of his first allies in the government—to be present for a terrified warning from Senator Viento, concerned that Palpatine's proposed reforms had angered some enough to want him dead. At that moment, the Senate Guards flanking him raised their rifles. As Palpatine expected, Kim quickly neutralized them, but they killed themselves with a fast-acting poison before they could be properly questioned. The Senate Guard was seen to have failed at a crucial moment, and Captain Shan's words, backed by the voices of Viento and other Senators, now had enough weight to carry the argument.
The Red Guards—later to be known as the feared Emperor's Royal Guards—were quickly formed and placed under Palpatine's personal authority. Throughout the years both leading up to and during the New Order, he was rarely seen outside their company. As he would do many times, he saw to it that their design inspired fear in any who saw them. Their distinctive crimson robes and armor were based not only on those of the Senate Guard, but on two other, far more ferocious units: the Death Watch of the Mandalore system and the Thyrsus Sun Guards he had long ago consolidated under his own authority (in fact, by the time Palpatine was inaugurated as Emperor, more than a few of the fanatical Sun Guards—those he had not by then eliminated—had found their way into the ranks of the Red Guards.) As expected, there was some criticism, but as the years passed, the gradual passage of new security laws and the rise of the Separatist threat kept that criticism to a minimum.
The reelection of Chancellor Palpatine
As Palpatine finished his elected term in office (28 BBY), the election for the Chancellorship was held as scheduled. Despite the fact that Palpatine's best efforts at reform had been stymied (he himself had made certain of that), his own scheming and the lack of any genuinely viable opposing candidates ensured his reelection. It would be the last election for Chancellor to be held in the remaining history of the Republic; shortly before the next scheduled election (24 BBY), his maneuvers would result in an amendment to the Constitution allowing him to serve indefinitely. And once that election had passed unobserved, there would never be another in Palpatine's lifetime.
The Outbound Flight Project
Among the more well-known of Palpatine's lesser intrigues was the funding, and then destruction, of the Outbound Flight Project, the brainchild of Master Jorus C'baoth. Palpatine had worked with C'baoth before, and for years the two of them had discussed the possibility of life outside the galaxy. That possibility never truly left C'baoth's imagination, and eventually (27 BBY) it blossomed into a new proposal, the Outbound Flight Project, which C'baoth presented to Palpatine. Six Dreadnaught-class heavy cruisers would be linked to a central storage core, becoming a single vessel, and then launched on a course through the fringes of the Republic, then the Unknown Regions, then off into the void, eventually to reach a nearby galaxy, and back again.
Extra-galactic travel had long been dismissed as impossible because of intersecting ripples formed in hyperspace by galactic masses. Palpatine may have suspected otherwise, if the reports from Zonama Sekot of possible extragalactic invaders were true. In any case, C'baoth believed the Jedi could use the Force to calm this turbulence, and tests in the briarpatch border of the Unknown Regions seemed to bear him out, so C'baoth recommended that he and as many other Jedi as possible join the expedition. Though other reasons surely factored into his supporting the project—the possibility of learning more about the so-called "Far Outsiders," for instance—its greatest value for Palpatine was to provide a single target, far from prying eyes, where a number of prominent Jedi could be disposed of easily, without being traced to him. So, while outwardly appearing cool toward the concept, he allowed C'baoth to move forward and worked behind the scenes to see the project through to completion.
But the Senate still hesitated to fund such an expensive expedition, so Sidious sent his spy, Kinman Doriana, to make sure C'baoth would gain enough credibility to sway the Senate to his cause. C'baoth had been dispatched to negotiate an agreement between the Corporate Alliance and a regional government on Barlok over mining rights. Doriana beat C'baoth there, inflaming militant Brolfi miners into making an assassination attempt, one that was meant to fail. As expected, C'baoth himself foiled the assassination and hammered out a deal both sides had little choice but to accept. With such a triumph under his belt, it was simple for C'baoth to convince the Senate to pass Measure 4213.0410, which provided full funding for Outbound Flight. Even the Jedi Council caved in to pressure and agreed—grudgingly—to assign six Jedi Masters, including C'baoth, and eleven Knights agreed to go as well. This was more than even Sidious could have hoped for, and, eventually, would be a loss the Jedi Order would be hard-pressed to recover from.
The destruction of Outbound Flight
Outbound Flight was launched in 27 BBY; now its Jedi passengers had to die. To that end, Sidious sent Doriana to oversee handpicked units from the private armies of his commercial allies. Against that, even six new Dreadnaughts should have been overwhelmed without fuss. But Sidious had not anticipated that his task force would be discovered by a young Chiss officer named Thrawn. Doriana sought peaceful contact—there was always the possibility that the Chiss could become allies—but the Neimoidian commander, Siv Kav, foolishly launched an attack without any discussion. Within minutes, all but one of Doriana's ships was destroyed, and that only because Thrawn wanted someone left alive to interrogate.
Doriana feared the punishment he would receive when Sidious learned of this debacle. But he found a way to turn a short-term defeat into a long-term victory. Skillfully using the scant intelligence from Tarkin and Sienar's expedition to Zonama Sekot, he evoked the threat of an invasion by the Far Outsiders, already establishing footholds at the edge of the galaxy, already sending scouting parties to plan the route of conquest. If Outbound Flight met their bridgehead, Doriana insisted, the galaxy would face a massive onslaught long before it was ready. Thrawn (who, as it turned out, already knew of incursions on the far edge of Chiss space) was convinced, especially after Doriana opened a holochannel to Sidious so Thrawn could discuss the matter with him personally.
Sidious too was occupied. He had learned that C'baoth had added Anakin Skywalker to the crew roster without anyone's knowledge; nothing could be allowed to happen to his prized apprentice-to-be. Palpatine traveled all the way out to Roxuli, the last stop of Outbound Flight before it left Republic space. Officially, he was there to secure C'baoth's services as a negotiator between the Roxuli government and its asteroid mining colonies, but he was really there to save Skywalker from the coming trap. That meant he would have to save Kenobi as well, since he could not yet separate Master and Padawan, so he secured Kenobi's services as a replacement negotiator, and Kenobi brought Skywalker with him. In their absence, Outbound Flight continued toward the Unknown Regions, and its fate.
Soon after, Doriana reported that Thrawn had destroyed Outbound Flight, partly by maneuvering a second power of the region, the nomadic Vagaari, into the engagement, to the destruction of both parties. And though Thrawn knew of Sidious's existence and Doriana's true identity and position, Doriana chose not to kill him, correctly guessing that the Chiss strategist could be of continued use to the Sith cause. Thus Palpatine gained a new tool as he lost an old one: the unstable C'baoth was dead, but he still had a way to make use of him in the future, if needed. C'baoth's blood had been drawn before the start of the doomed mission. If ever Palpatine had another special need for C'baoth, the cloning tanks would be waiting.
The search for a new apprentice
- "Soon I will have a new apprentice; one far younger and more powerful."
- ―Darth Sidious
After the untimely death of Darth Maul, Sidious was faced with an urgent task. Before he could continue in his plans to divide and conquer the Republic, he needed an apprentice who could be counted on to make the necessary preparations, to sow dissension among the Republic's member worlds. Maul clearly had not had the kind of political acumen needed; of the many skills he had possessed, subtlety and oratory were not among them.
Obviously, the ideal method would have been to locate another Force-sensitive youth to mold according to his desires, but that was impossible now. As a Senator from a less-than-prominent world, he could afford the time to train Darth Maul from infancy, but now the daily schedule of a sitting Chancellor precluded any attempt to do the same for Maul's successor. He could not risk his political career for his Sith duties, nor could he neglect his Sith duties for his political career.
But fortune played a part in giving him the perfect candidate, in the form of a disaffected Jedi Master named Dooku. As befitting his needs, this Jedi was already well trained in the ways of the Force and was a superbly accomplished swordsman, though not exactly in the same flamboyant style as Maul's. He was also patient, intelligent, and charismatic. All of these were qualities Sidious would need for the next phase of the plan. And, most importantly, there were other qualities in him, weaknesses that Sidious could exploit to make a Sith out of him.
At some point in this time, Palpatine was training other possible candidates for the mantle of the Sith. One known pupil was Vergere, who, at some point, after discovering the extent of Palpatine's plots and megalomania, attempted to kill Palpatine. She failed and was forced to flee, managing to escape the galaxy.
The seduction of Count Dooku
Dooku, always a maverick, had been appealing to the Jedi High Council to take the threat of the Sith more seriously. If there were always two Sith, he asked them, and one was believed to have been killed on Naboo, why were the Jedi not devoting their best efforts to finding the second Sith? Their apparent shortsightedness repelled Dooku, thus leading him to consider that his ideals and theirs might not necessarily be the same. He may even have been arrogant enough to believe that he, rather than some untrained child named Skywalker, might be the Chosen One.
Dooku set out to find the missing Sith himself. Instead, Sidious approached him. It became clear that Dooku was fascinated by the Sith, or at least believed that the Jedi could not save the galaxy from itself. After much discussion, Sidious gradually persuaded Dooku that he too believed that the Republic was collapsing under its own weight, that a new order was needed to improve things. Dooku became convinced that their separate visions of improving things were actually quite similar. It was not long before he decided to accept Sidious's offer: in exchange for Dooku's services, Sidious promised to teach him about the dark side and how to use it to achieve the positive changes they envisioned.
Dooku chose to believe what he had with Sidious was a partnership. It is clear, however, that from the very beginning of their relationship, Sidious was leading him on. Dooku was a necessary tool, as Maul had been. Sidious neither needed nor wanted a "partner," someone on an equal footing with himself. It was not the Sith way; it was certainly not his way. Dooku would be a useful placeholder, until Skywalker was ready for conversion.
The clone army
Certain details about the creation of a clone army, which would be commissioned as the Grand Army of the Republic and would later become the nucleus of the Imperial Stormtrooper Corps, remain clouded. It is generally accepted that the impetus lay with a certain Master Sifo-Dyas, a former member of the Jedi Council and a close friend of Dooku's. Out of all the Jedi, Dooku had confided the most with Sifo-Dyas. But as Dooku grew disenchanted, Sifo-Dyas grew concerned. He became convinced that very dark times were ahead, but the Jedi Council paid little heed. Desperate, Sifo-Dyas spoke to Palpatine, who likely convinced him that if the Jedi refused to see the approaching darkness, and the fate of the Republic was at stake, they themselves would have to act. It would have to be done in secret, so as not to alarm a galaxy accustomed to peace. Even the Jedi Order could not be told. So Palpatine sent Sifo-Dyas to the Kaminoans, a species that specialized in genetic engineering, to commission a massive army of cloned soldiers, an army that would defend the Republic in the future.
Sidious could not count on Sifo-Dyas to keep silent, so Sidious sent Dooku to eliminate him. Without hesitation, Dooku murdered the man who had been his closest friend. In doing so, he fulfilled the ancient covenant that prescribed the murder of one who was close as a measure of commitment to the Sith cause. Seeing that Dooku had embraced the dark side, Sidious awarded him the Sith name and title of Darth Tyranus. But the cloning project still stood, so Tyranus carried on where Sifo-Dyas left off. The first task was to make sure the Jedi never learned about it. Until he had been silenced, Sifo-Dyas had kept the project a secret. To ensure that it stayed one, Dooku erased all records of the planet Kamino from the Jedi Archives, along with thirty-seven additional systems (including Dagobah and Dromund Kaas) that Sidious had judged to be of potential value to the Sith—his last act before leaving the Order.
Tyranus's second task was to find a source of DNA for this clone army. To ensure that the clones could challenge the Sith's enemies when the time was right, their template had to have exceptional combat instincts, supplemented by superb training and experience. Sidious ordered his new apprentice to find someone who fit this criteria. After much consideration and a brutal trial, Tyranus determined that Jango Fett, the last survivor of the old Mandalorian shock troopers, would be the perfect candidate. Tyranus offered Fett a generous payment for serving as the Kaminoans' prime clone. Fett accepted, on the condition that, in addition to the credits, he received an unaltered clone of himself, whom he would make his own son and apprentice. Tyranus agreed, and the foundation was laid for Palpatine's legions of stormtroopers, the force that would help Palpatine build an Empire out of a tattered Republic.
The Separatist Crisis (24–22 BBY)
- "I will not let this Republic that has stood for a thousand years be split in two. My negotiations will not fail."
"If they do, you must realize there aren't enough Jedi to protect the Republic. We are keepers of the peace, not soldiers."
- ―Palpatine and Mace Windu
Palpatine had now completed his two four-year terms as Chancellor, and his army was nearly at the ready. Now he needed a full-scale galactic war to overthrow the Republic, eliminate the Jedi, and restore a long-vanished golden age where the Sith would rule the galaxy once again. The Clone Wars would do just that.
The rise of the Separatist movement
- "Master Yoda, do you think it will really come to war?"
"The dark side clouds everything. Impossible to see, the future is."
- ―Palpatine and Yoda
Under Palpatine's direction, Count Dooku united several commercial organizations—foremost among them the Trade Federation that had been Sidious's tool for seizing the Chancellorship—into the Confederacy of Independent Systems, thus forging the Separatist movement in 24 BBY. These organizations pledged the massive armies they had used to protect their profits to Dooku, thus making the Confederacy capable of overthrowing the Republic, and a threat in the eyes of the Senate.
Palpatine arranged for Dooku to construct the revolutionary government at the end of his term limit as Chancellor. Due to this, the oblivious Senate granted him an indefinite extra term in office—canceling the 24 BBY Galactic Republic Chancery election—to settle the Separatist Crisis. But the movement continued to strengthen, despite Palpatine's "attempts" at peaceful negotiations, including the formation of the Loyalist Committee, an organization of Senators that wanted to keep the Republic together and preserve its principles.
The false "peace initiative"
As the crisis expanded, Palpatine staged yet another "public relations" drama in which he could perform his favored role of the hurt innocent, offering from a position of strength the hand of peace. In 13:3:21, trillions upon trillions of HoloNet viewers across the galaxy found their regular programming interrupted by a signal that overrode all government channels and 90% of the private feeds. In a brief twelve-minute address, Palpatine offered an open invitation to Dooku to parley:
- "There are many on both sides of this grand debate eager to turn this dispute into war. It needn't degenerate into so wasteful an outcome. Together, we have the intelligence and the reason to find an alternative solution."
- ―Palpatine on the HoloNet, addressing the Separatists
As he spoke, he did everything he could to keep up the appearance of the wronged party, assuming the moral high ground by forgiving his enemy. Even at this late hour, he said, he was willing to discuss a diplomatic solution. Little plays like this would be useful later; when the time for war came, he could say that he had done his best to prevent it, putting his own credibility as Chancellor at risk for it.
- "I appeal to your sensibilities developed as a revered Jedi. I was witness not only to your practiced brand of diplomacy during the Sevarcos Dispute of three decades ago, but also of your former apprentice's noble efforts to protect the sovereignty of my world. From these examples, I know you are a proponent of peace… We have much in common, sir, for it is the inefficiencies of the Republic that are the focus of my Chancellery. But the solution lies not in insurrection, but rather through reform. The system will work, and together we will make it work."
- ―Palpatine on the HoloNet
At the end of the address, he proposed Bothawui, a neutral world, as a potential site for a conference. For "security reasons," he named no date, but announced that all avenues of communication to his office were open to Dooku. It did not matter; Sidious and Tyranus had planned in advance that there should be no response, and that, as a result, the Separatists would be seen as implacable, unreasonable. And the next time any violence was blamed on the Separatists, the militarists in the Senate could rightly claim that negotiation with such radicals was impossible, and the call for an army would become louder still.
Putting the Senate on the defensive
The false proposal had its desired effect; the demand for a military to defend the Republic intensified. But it was still not enough to tip the majority of Senators in favor of the Military Creation Act. When it came to a vote, they needed to approve both the Act and the surrendering of their own lawmaking powers to Palpatine, and do so willingly. There was only one thing for it: a round of assassinations that could be blamed on the Separatists, and cause the rest to circle their wagons.
Soon, various Senators, including Aks Moe of Malastare, were murdered (22 BBY). No terrorist organization claimed responsibility in any of these incidents, but with the Separatist threat on the rise, fingers were naturally pointed in their direction first, just as Palpatine had anticipated. And, also as foreseen, the inability of the Jedi to keep up with the wave of violence added to the overall effect. Ainlee Teem rose up in the Senate to criticize the Jedi. The conclusion was obvious: if the Jedi and the Judicials themselves were not enough to maintain order, an army was needed to fill the breach. Publicly undecided on the issue, Palpatine privately observed the debate with pleasure.
The night before the scheduled vote on the Military Creation Act, Palpatine made an address to the member worlds of the Republic. Again, he spun a complete fiction, expressing confidence in a peaceful solution and commitment to negotiations, though even the non-attentive press noticed that he was already "grudgingly" anticipating a Senate yes-vote.
Palpatine: Regardless of the outcome of the Military Creation Act vote, the primary path that this administration will adhere to is one of civility and intelligent discourse. If the constituents decide that a Grand Army of the Republic is indeed essential to the safety of our citizenry, we will erect a formidable force to assist our Jedi in maintaining the peace, not in starting a war… I assure the families of the Republic that hostilities will only be engaged in retaliation or in the protection of Republic soil, or in response to brazen acts of warfare brought on by the Separatists. It is not this office's desire to incite war.
The intent was to settle their fears. Whatever would happen, he maintained, the Republic would still be the Republic; that was not going to change. The tragedy was that their fears were well-founded, and that it would be this same man who would make them come true. He concluded:
Palpatine: On election day, we will demonstrate the strength of democracy as thousands of delegates make their voices heard in the Senate. It is this cherished freedom we must protect, at all costs. The days and months ahead call for clear, rational thinking. It is only as a last resort that arms will replace words as the means of settling this dispute.
The assassination attempts on Senator Padmé Amidala
Palpatine's successor as Senator of Naboo and the world's former Queen, Padmé Amidala, was almost killed by the Clawdite bounty hunter Zam Wesell after arriving on Coruscant to vote on the issue of creating a Grand Army of the Republic. Palpatine had the vote delayed and had the Senator put under the protection of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, her old Jedi allies from the Battle of Naboo a decade ago. After a second assassination attempt was made by using poisonous kouhun worms, Anakin was assigned by the Jedi Council to protect Amidala back on her homeworld of Naboo. The two both secretly started to fall in love with the romantic ambiance of Varykino. Anakin was clearly breaking the Jedi Code, and this guilt and secrecy would only bring him closer to the dark side.
Meanwhile, Kenobi—who had been sent by the Council to solve Amidala's mysterious assassination attempts—found out about Kamino from an old friend in CoCo Town, Dexter Jettster, located the bounty hunter Jango Fett, who was the army's prime clone, and infiltrated the Separatist stronghold at Geonosis to discover that the financial leaders supporting the Confederacy had an army of battle droids in wait and that to insure the Trade Federation's backing was to have Senator Amidala killed. Kenobi contacted the Chancellor and the Jedi Council back on Coruscant, but was taken captive by the local Geonosians.
As for Anakin and Padmé, the duo had secretly voyaged back to the desert planet Tatooine after Anakin had visions of his mother, Shmi, in agony. Anakin met the Lars family, who had freed Shmi from Watto years ago and learned that his mother had married Cliegg Lars. His mother's husband told him that she had been taken captive by a Tusken tribe. Anakin tracked her down to the Tusken camp, where he witnessed her death in captivity. The young Jedi slaughtered the entire tribe, creating a terrible disturbance in the Force that was felt by Yoda and Palpatine on Coruscant. The Chancellor was gladdened when sensing Anakin had committed another dark act, and Yoda even heard the spirit of the late Qui-Gon Jinn cry to him from the netherworld. Anakin returned to the Lars homestead to bury Shmi and, after taking his old protocol droid C-3PO back, he journeyed with Padmé to rescue Obi-Wan.
Though Kenobi had been captured on Geonosis, he had been able—or was permitted—to send out one transmission to the Jedi Council reporting his findings. Though he was cut off by droidekas arriving to take him into Geonosian custody, Kenobi had a great deal to say:
- "I have tracked the bounty hunter Jango Fett to the droid foundries on Geonosis. The Trade Federation is to take delivery of a droid army here and it is clear that Viceroy Gunray is behind the assassination attempts on Senator Amidala. The Commerce Guilds and the Corporate Alliance have both pledged their armies to Count Dooku and are forming an… Wait!… Wait!"
- ―Obi-Wan Kenobi's transmission to the Jedi Temple prior to being captured
Palpatine had in his hands the "proof" he needed to force the Senate's hand: the testimony of a respected Jedi regarding a massive military buildup. He no longer needed to convince anyone of the Separatists' intentions. Here was proof that, regardless of the Senate's hand-wringing about whether to risk a war with the Separatists, Dooku was already preparing to launch a war against them.
During a tense night-time conference in the Senate Office Building, Palpatine and Mas Amedda met with members of the Jedi Council and the Loyalist Committee, to ponder how best to counter the threat of an imminent Separatist attack. It became clear that even with an immediate threat hanging over their heads, the Senate would still not be able to approve the use of the clone army before the Separatists launched their offensive. Following an interminable session of argument, Amedda (no doubt prompted by Palpatine before the meeting) suggested that if the Senate were to grant Palpatine emergency war powers, he could then approve the use of the army immediately. Jar Jar Binks, representing Naboo in Amidala's absence, volunteered to make the motion in the Senate.
When Binks made the motion in his broken Gunganese variant of Basic, the Senate was shocked. They simply could not believe that Binks, the being they had all derided as a clown, was now possessed of a strength and eloquence they had never seen in him before, and as radical as his proposal was, it seemed the most sensible option, given the circumstances. Binks was advocating a complete about-face on militarization, and this reconciled a great many doubters. As Amidala's chosen proxy, Binks's position was seen as her position. If Binks said it, then by senatorial rules, she had intended for it to be said.
- "Itsa clear that desa Separatists made a pact witha desa Federation du Trade. Senators, dellow felagates, in response to this direct threat to the Republic, mesa propose that the Senate give immediately emergency powers to the Supreme Chancellor."
- ―Representative Jar Jar Binks before the Senate
The cheering and the chants of his name from the body of the hall went on, uninterrupted, for minutes, drowning out the few jeers of protest. By the time Palpatine held up his hands, calling for silence, he had, with the help of the unsuspecting Gungan, won the Senate almost completely. The rest of it—the humble speech with which he would soothe their belated fears about the future of the democratic system, and the actual vote on Binks's motion—was merely a formality.
- "It is with great reluctance that I have agreed to this calling. I love democracy. I love the Republic. But I am mild by nature, and do not wish to see the destruction of democracy. The power you give me I will lay down when this crisis has abated. And as my first act with this new authority, I will create a Grand Army of the Republic to counter the increasing threats of the Separatists."
- ―Palpatine, accepting his emergency powers
At the conclusion of his "acceptance speech," Palpatine asked only that once the crisis was over, he could retire to Naboo and live out his remaining years in peace—another heinous lie. Only one thing he said could be taken at face value: the clones were a fact, and he quickly legalized them as the Republic's armed forces. He had dealt the Republic a fait accompli, and they had not even imagined that he was even involved.
The great project that Sidious had spent more than ten years in making—the first full-scale conflict in a thousand years, and one of the most destructive in history—began on the right foot for him. He had at his command a force of well-trained, well-equipped soldiers answerable ultimately to him, and sweeping discretionary powers to use as he saw fit, which undermined the Constitution to an unprecedented degree. Now he put both of these to work in the long and bloody conflict that history calls the Clone Wars. On the surface, it was seen as the Republic's effort to suppress the militant Separatist movement. In actuality it was a war waged against the Republic itself by its own head of state.
From democratic diplomat to dictatorial despot
- "There are times when we must all endure adjustment to the Constitution in the name of security."
During the Clone Wars, Palpatine further consolidated his power in the crisis of the war. More and more amendments were made to the Constitution in the name of security, all of them transferring more, and more power to Palpatine, including Statute 312b, which gave more weight to votes cast by Senators from Core and Inner Rim worlds, those whose support of Palpatine was more dependable, than those from Rim worlds.
Palpatine continued to use his considerable skills at manipulation and subterfuge to play the Jedi and the Confederacy against one another. On one notable occasion, he issued secret orders to both Ki-Adi-Mundi and Aayla Secura, and as Sidious, to Dooku, for each to complete a mission on the planet Hitaka. Each mission's success depended on that of the other, with the end result being that Secura and Ki-Adi-Mundi were kept distracted by their mission long enough for Dooku to complete his.
The "Reflex Amendment"
Another wartime constitutional amendment that gave particular teeth to his emergency powers was Emergency Amendment 121b, dubbed the "Reflex Amendment" by both supporters and critics because it was claimed by those in favor that the amendment would increase the Republic's reflexes when dealing with Separatist attacks. The public justification was that 121b was necessary to compensate for the problem of overlapping jurisdictions in engagements where the battle spread across more than one system and thereby involved more than one local defense force. As usual, his supporter, Ask Aak, did the oratorical legwork by thundering in the Senate about the amendment's virtues:
- "The Separatists have taken advantage of our lethargic reaction time long enough. We will no longer be yoked by bureaucracies that have been fattened by the larder of the Trade Federation and other traitors."
- ―Ask Aak
The larger effect of 121b was that Palpatine and his handpicked officials would have far larger control over sector- and system-based defense forces than before. With its passage, officials appointed by Palpatine's military council were moved in to replace the commanding officers of several key loyalist forces. The opposition had hoped in vain for a solution that would have allowed for equal cooperation between local forces and the Army of the Republic. What they failed to realize was that cooperation had nothing to do with it. 121b was a crucial step toward the eventual absorbing of all local defense forces into the GAR (20 BBY), without which the awesome Imperial armed forces could not have been possible.
The disappearance of Seti Ashgad
As Palpatine called for even more extensive security measures, more and more Senators began to balk. One of these was Seti Ashgad, a former hyperdrive engineer who had designed the first Z-95 Headhunter starfighter and then used his fame to get elected to the Senate. Ashgad, often called the "Golden Tempter," was charismatic, charming, easygoing, and skilled in marshaling support. Had Palpatine not made his own move to oust Valorum and become Chancellor, Ashgad might have done so himself. For this reason alone, Palpatine had him closely watched; the playboy courtier Sarcev Quest, actually Palpatine's spy and close confidant, kept a close eye on Ashgad. And when Ashgad argued (21 BBY) against the installation of new surveillance cam droids in the Senate building, Palpatine acted. Ashgad was abducted by Sidious's agents and secretly exiled to Nam Chorios, the site of a former penal colony.
- "Senator Seti Ashgad has disappeared, days after he protested the installation of the Senate's new cam droids. Palpatine's office says the timing is merely a coincidence."
- ―Republic HoloNet News
Thus the public was told of the Golden Tempter's unexpected departure. By all rights, a dispute over holocams was hardly cause to make him disappear. After all, others like Bail Organa had opposed the measure also. But Ashgad was a cut above. More than Organa, Fang Zar, or Mon Mothma, Ashgad's case demanded a stronger answer than the strictly political measures Palpatine was employing against the others. The Golden Tempter could easily tempt others to support him. Perhaps, given time and room to maneuver, Ashgad might even gain enough support to propose a Vote of no confidence against Palpatine. Evidently, Sidious, with his uncanny gift to see potential futures, decided to pinch off this particular future at the very beginning. Thus Ashgad was left to rot on a desolate planet, under a sky in perpetual twilight.
The assassination attempt on Bail Organa
Palpatine had plans for Bail Organa as well. Organa was less dangerous—for the present—than Ashgad had been, but he too was a symbol of the old order Palpatine meant to destroy. And, as with Ashgad, it was better to weed out such potential threats early rather than late. The opposition had recently managed to table discussion (21 BBY) on the Enhanced Security and Enforcement Act, a bill which, if passed, would centralize even greater power in his hands. An "incident" that claimed the life of a public figure such as Organa might serve to rouse the Senate and get the bill passed.
Organa and his entourage were traveling back to the capital following an emergency personal visit to his homeworld of Alderaan. Sidious made arrangements for pirates to attack Organa's cruiser while en route. The marauders actually succeeded in boarding the vessel and were but a corridor away from reaching Organa himself, until the unexpected intervention of a pair of Jedi fighter squadrons forced the pirates to withdraw. Many of them were conveniently destroyed before they could escape, or be captured and forced to talk. It was enough to permit Palpatine to reintroduce the Security and Enforcement Act. Indeed, the Senate was so offended by the attack that they "insisted" it be reintroduced.
The re-emergence of Finis Valorum
It was then that Palpatine's predecessor, Finis Valorum, suddenly reappeared. Valorum had observed Palpatine's activities, both public and private, from a distance, especially how the Chancellor's opponents, like Ashgad, had a habit of disappearing. Possibly the Enforcement Act had been the last straw, and forced Valorum to action. But Palpatine had ears everywhere, even in simple custodial droids working in Bail Organa's residence at Cantham House, so when Valorum came to visit Organa there, it was not long before tirades like this reached the Chancellor's desk:
Valorum: The Senate barters away fundamental rights upon which the Republic was built! You trust that the tyrant you are creating will give them back to you when the crisis is over? Palpatine will give back nothing! No one who seeks power the way that he does ever surrenders it willingly! … Palpatine will make sure that any individual or group that opposes him or is in his way is removed! Look what happened to King Veruna! Look what happened to me! I know it was Palpatine who had me framed. I was forced to resign as Chancellor so he could ascend to it! Just as I am certain he arranged for those pirates to attack your transport! … I have no more proof of that than I do that he masterminded my fall. If I did have it, Palpatine would be in chains this moment.
Such words clearly buttressed Organa's courage, so the next morning he appeared at the Chancellor's Suite to insist that under no circumstances would he support the Enforcement Act, and that in fact he would oppose Palpatine on it. The Chancellor said nothing about it, but he did see fit to tip just enough of his hand to put Organa on edge:
Palpatine: Might I give you a small warning? It would not be wise for you to see Finis Valorum again. Dirt rubs off so easily, and can tarnish those who would otherwise seem clean.
Lord Sidious decided on Valorum's death; he was tarnished, but the passage of eleven years can change things; having seen what Palpatine's election had ultimately led to, some Senators would be far more sympathetic to Valorum, more willing to listen. The simple solution was to silence him now, while he was still seen as an embittered old political has-been, when no one would truly care. His disposal, of course, could be put to useful ends…
The Star of Iskin terrorist incident
The events behind the explosion (21 BBY) that destroyed the freighter Star of Iskin and killed everyone aboard, including Finis Valorum, were not known until a Jedi investigation uncovered the details. The actual bombing was carried out by Sajé Tasha, an Anzati assassin based on Coruscant who frequently performed high-end political murders. Either by himself or through his apprentice Darth Tyranus, Sidious instructed Sora Bulq, one of Tyranus's acolytes, to work with the corrupt Senator Viento to hire Tasha.
Once Valorum boarded the ship, Tasha drew him off to a place of privacy. As an Anzati, it was not enough to kill him; she had to drink his "soup" as well. But the wounds left by Anzati proboscises were distinctive, and it wouldn't do for his body to be discovered with such marks in his sinus cavities. Such a clue could lead to Tasha, and ultimately to Sidious. Placing a powerful explosive in a sensitive area of the ship solved the matter. In fact, considering how Palpatine exploited the incident, it is likely that Tasha was ordered to destroy the ship; he needed an incident to justify passage of the Enforcement Act. Since the pirate attack on Organa's cruiser had failed, a terrorist incident in the capital city itself would do a better job.
As Star of Iskin climbed away from the docks and into the Coruscanti sky, Tasha's bomb detonated, and the freighter faltered and dropped. It finally came to rest with such violence that it buried itself into the pavement of Jrade Plaza. And with it, in addition to the thousands of dead, was buried a specific corpse that was so charred that no traces of Anzati proboscises would be found on it, if the body could be picked out of the wreckage at all.
The vote on the Enhanced Security and Enforcement Act
The effects of the tragedy were everything Palpatine could have wished; the day after the incident, Senator Ask Aak took the floor and harangued the assembly in support of the resolution. Aak insisted that the role of any government is to protect its citizens, and a government incapable of doing so should be provided with the necessary tools. Aak yielded the floor to thunderous applause. It remained only for Palpatine to call for silence and, as ever, modestly accept what they were more than willing to give him.
Palpatine: My friends, I do not seek more responsibility to rest on my shoulders. You have already invested too much upon me as it is. However, if it is the will of this august body that, for the safety of the Republic, I assume this mantle as well, I will defer to your wishes. If there are no other voices to be heard?
Bail Organa chose this moment to have his voice heard. Palpatine had expected that Organa would try to block him, and decided in advance to just let the man have his say. To muzzle him now would only lend his cause credibility. So when Mas Amedda attempted to put the matter to rest by claiming that Organa was not officially registered to speak, Palpatine held him back, then stood there, composed, as Organa shouted down the many accusations of treason and tried valiantly to stop him.
Organa: The powers that this act seeks to invest in the Chancellor belong to the Senate. They are our responsibility and given to us in trust. Moreover, some of the powers in this act were never intended to be given to the central government. They are rights that belong to the citizens and to which we do not have a claim… I have often heard that these are extraordinary times, calling for extraordinary measures to deal with them. Sacrifices must be made. I agree with that. But we dare not sacrifice who we are… We fight for the Republic. But what is the Republic, if not the principles on which it is based? To cast aside those principles would make even a clear-cut victory in this war pointless… These are terrible times. They stir great passions. But we cannot be ruled by our anger… We cannot cede our responsibilities to others. We cannot allow events, however terrible, to make us less than we should be. We must say no to this act.
Thus Organa had declared himself as an open enemy. The Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of the resolution, and the Enhanced Security and Enforcement Act became the law of the Republic. But Palpatine still maintained the appearance of the mild-mannered politician who was magnanimous to his opponents, in victory or defeat. After the Senate had adjourned, he approached Organa and Mon Mothma and offered his good-natured congratulations. He could not be faulted if the Red Guards flanking him, their masked faces fixed on Organa, gave his kind words the flavor of a threat.
Palpatine: I want to tell you that I thought that was a passionate speech you gave in the Senate! … It is good to know, in these troubled times, leaders can still rise to the occasion. I know I cannot do it all alone. We will talk again soon.
Palpatine left them behind, his guards in tow. Behind him, he knew, they would be discussing their next move against him, but he was unconcerned. After the conspicuous losses of Ashgad and Valorum, one upon the other, it would be too obvious if he arranged for Organa and Mothma to disappear as well, but he had well-tried political weapons at his disposal. And he would need them; Organa had committed himself to blocking Palpatine at every juncture. It was not yet a fight requiring arms and soldiers; Organa too used his natural weapons, his political and oratorical skills. Though he had lost his respect for Palpatine, it would be a long time before he could be made to consider armed insurrection.
A few months after Anakin Skywalker's knighthood, Palpatine helped engineer a Separatist plot to turn Jabba the Hutt against the Republic by kidnapping his son Rotta and framing the Jedi for it. Padmé came to him and learned that Anakin was being framed by the Hutts and though Palpatine advised against it, she left to contact Ziro, Jabba's uncle. Padmé learned that Ziro conspired with Dooku explained the situation to Jabba. The plan failed as a result, but the outcome also suited Sidious' ends, since Jabba placed Hutt hyperspace routes at the Republic's disposal.
The trap on Vjun
Around this time, Sidious and Tyranus arranged a trap for Master Yoda. Dooku sent a message to Yoda, stating that he had gone too far and that Yoda should come to meet him on Vjun to discuss peace. In reality, Dooku simply intended to kill Yoda. To reinforce the plan, Palpatine sent Skywalker and Kenobi to Vjun, as well.
In Dooku's headquarters at Château Malreaux, Yoda attempted to convince Dooku to renounce Sidious. Just as Dooku appeared to consider the offer, he was informed that Skywalker and Kenobi had arrived: Palpatine's backup plan should Dooku appear to be swayed. Accusing Yoda of betrayal, Dooku escaped, remaining staunchly on Sidious' side.
The Sector Governance Decree
Throughout the war, Palpatine appointed governors answerable to him every time a Separatist world was freed. A few instances speak for many others. After a local uprising liberated Esseles, Palpatine appointed Griff Takel to serve as governor (21 BBY) instead of restoring Senator Gabrial Atanna. That same month, he did the same on Brentaal IV, which had languished under the provisional authority of Jerrod Maclain since its liberation the year before. Rather than restore Senator Arcel Mosbree, Palpatine arrested Mosbree for his role in allowing the Separatists to take Brentaal in the first place, and Maclain became the permanent governor. Even then, his critics speculated that it was only a matter of time before he did so everywhere. In the closing days of the war (19 BBY), Palpatine issued the Sector Governance Decree, which installed governors on all Republic member worlds.
Palpatine: I assure you that the Republic governors are intended only to make your systems safer—by coordinating planetary defense forces, and ensuring that neighboring systems mesh into cooperative units, and bringing production facilities up to speed in service to the war effort. That's all. They will in no way compete with the duties and prerogatives—with the power—of the Senate.
That was the reason he gave to his critics, and most felt it was the right approach. Increased coordination at the system and sector level seemed a sensible move in wartime. Palpatine now controlled those systems directly. With the rubber-stamp approval of his Senate supermajority in his hand, he wasted no time in sending his handpicked governors to their respective systems. They arrived practically before the ink had even dried on the decree. And to ensure that the planetary populations would accept the governors without too much complaint, he sent with each of them a full regiment of clones—security forces, he called them—more than enough to keep the locals quiet.
The search for Darth Sidious
As trust for Palpatine continued to erode, he continued to control the Confederacy through Count Dooku, who led an assault on Kamino to ensure that the galaxy would be locked in conflict for years. Dooku also started training his Dark Acolytes to help with the war effort and the Sith reemergence.
Because of the clouded post-war future, the Jedi Council started to suspect somebody from his Inner Circle, most notably Sate Pestage, to be the "Darth Sidious" that Count Dooku had revealed to Master Kenobi on Geonosis. They started to suspect this after the First Battle of Cato Neimoidia in 19 BBY, three years into the war. Republic forces under Captain Jan Dodonna captured Viceroy Gunray's mechno-chair, which led them to Sidious' hideout, the LiMerge Power building, in the Works on Coruscant, in turn leading to Palpatine and his advisor's apartment at 500 Republica. Facts became invaluable.
Palpatine knew that the end was near, and assigned the majority of the galactic capital defense fleet to take down what he dubbed the "Triad of Evil." At the same time, his alter-ego commanded the cyborg General Grievous to use a secret hyperlane through the Deep Core to attack Coruscant itself. The endgame for his decades long plan had begun.
- "All the players are now in place. It is time to initiate the end moves. The plan of many long years shall bear fruit at last!"
- ―Darth Sidious
During the chaos of the battle, Palpatine was spirited away to his bunker with General Grievous, the Supreme Commander of the Droid Armies, in close pursuit, killing many of his bodyguards and Jedi on the way. However, thanks to his own planning, he was "abducted". Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker were ordered to Coruscant from the ruined world of Tythe where their hunt for Count Dooku had led them to rescue the Chancellor. They eventually found Palpatine, bound on a chair in the General's quarters of Grievous's flagship, Invisible Hand. Before they could rescue him however, Dooku appeared and the three of them dueled. In reality, this was merely a test of Anakin's vulnerability to the dark side in a confrontation with Count Dooku.
Dooku was aware that this duel was meant to lead Anakin to the dark side, but he was unaware that he would be sacrificed to achieve this. Palpatine led him to believe that after he let Anakin subdue him, he and Palpatine would together convince Skywalker to switch to the dark side. Dooku would then surrender, pretend having been unaware of the atrocities committed by General Grievous, and then emerge as the venerable leader of a new Sith army and the right hand of Palpatine.
However, Dooku forgot about Bane's dictum—there could be only two. As they dueled, Palpatine silently rooted for Anakin. While Obi-Wan was rendered unconscious while confronting Dooku, Anakin continued to fight. When Anakin sliced off Dooku's hands and had him down on his knees, Palpatine broke his silence and urged him to kill Dooku. Dooku realized he had been nothing more than a pawn in Sidious's schemes, while Anakin argued that Dooku had to be judged by the courts. However, after Palpatine's warnings that Dooku was too dangerous to be allowed to live, Anakin finally sliced off Dooku's head, and his body fell to the floor. This was another victory for Palpatine. The only event he had not expected was that Dooku failed to kill Kenobi and that Anakin refused to leave him behind.
Palpatine becomes Supreme Commander
The day after the Battle of Coruscant, the Security Act was passed by the Galactic Senate by a wide margin. The Security Act was personally written by Palpatine but given to a loyal senator to introduce, in order to maintain the facade of the Senate forcing power on him against his will. It nominally transferred command of the Jedi High Council from the Senate directly to the Chancellor, thus providing him with the Constitutional authority to disband the Jedi Order. It also removed Jedi and Senatorial oversight of the Republic's military, placing the Chancellor in direct command and naming him Supreme Commander of the Republic Armed Forces.
Endgame (19 BBY)
Over time though, the Jedi began to grow distrustful of Palpatine, fearing what this ever-increasing power might mean for the Republic. At the same time, Sidious was sowing similar seeds of doubt into the mind of Anakin. Young Skywalker saw a vision of his wife, Padmé Amidala, dying after giving birth to their child. Palpatine, who could have planted this vision of the future in Anakin's mind himself, promised the young Jedi to open his mind to the Sith knowledge of sustaining or creating life, which—as he claimed—was the only way to escape Padmé's death (he had known of Padmé and Anakin's marriage after head of the Royal Naboo Security Forces, Panaka, informed him) He was able to secretly lure him by making him his representative on the Jedi High Council. The Council reluctantly agreed to permit Anakin's seat on the Council, replacing Master Even Piell, but he did not receive the rank of Master, angering him. Eventually the inevitable confrontation emerged, and Anakin delivered the revelation that Palpatine was really Darth Sidious, the Sith Master for which they had been searching for thirteen years, to Jedi Master Mace Windu.
Mace ordered Anakin to remain in the Jedi Temple, while he, along with Masters Saesee Tiin, Agen Kolar, and Kit Fisto, went to arrest the Chancellor. Palpatine greeted the Masters cordially, as though nothing had changed, though he knew that the endgame had begun. Mace boldly ignited his lightsaber, declaring that Palpatine was under arrest and that the Senate would decide his fate. "I am the Senate," Palpatine proclaimed, revealing an electrum saber of his own design hidden in his sleeve. A crimson blade ignited, and within seconds the Jedi Masters realized they had been tricked, that they were pawns that had been manipulated for the last thirteen years. With a Sith snarl more animal than man, Palpatine lunged forward and killed Masters Kolar and Tiin before they could defend themselves. Master Fisto held against Palpatine for a few seconds before he was slain by the Sith Lord's blade. Left alone with Mace Windu, the Dark Lord fought him in a one-on-one lightsaber duel.
After several minutes of dueling, despite Palpatine's formidable lightsaber style and technique, the Jedi Master managed to disarm Palpatine with a kick to the head, apparently causing Palpatine to drop his lightsaber out a window only moments before Anakin Skywalker entered the room. It is possible that Palpatine had sensed Anakin coming through the Force and was simply feigning defeat to gain Anakin's sympathy, knowing that the only way to break Anakin's connection to the Jedi was to force Anakin to choose between loyalty to them and his promises of the power to govern life and death.
Palpatine's attempts to defend himself with Force lightning were futile, as Windu used his lightsaber to reflect it back at the Sith Lord, seemingly melting and disfiguring Palpatine's face (although it has been debated whether his disfigured face had been his true form all along). Palpatine's voice grew ragged and deep, as he pleaded with Anakin. Mace deemed Palpatine too dangerous to be left alive, but Skywalker had decided that only Palpatine could save his wife from the death he had seen in his visions. He had to choose between the Jedi that appeared to abuse their power and the seemingly helpless and weak old man. The young Jedi Knight chose Sidious, severing Mace's sword hand. Sidious then sprang back to life and blasted Mace from the building with a devastating blast of Force lightning.
The birth of Darth Vader
- "I will do whatever you ask… Just help me save Padmé's life. I can't live without her."
- ―Anakin Skywalker
With Windu eliminated, Sidious regarded Skywalker. At last the boy was where the Sith Lord needed him to be; isolated and unable ever to go back to the Jedi Order now that he was an accomplice—no matter how unwittingly—in the revered Master Windu's murder. Desperate to save his wife's life, Skywalker had effectively sacrificed an ally and compatriot, perfectly fulfilling the Sith covenant that commanded the slaughter of one who was close. With no other place to turn, he finally yielded to Sidious's temptations, asking only that a way be found for Padmé to live. To smooth the transition, Sidious soothed his fears, and his conscience:
- "To cheat death is the power only one has achieved, but if we work together, I know we can discover the secret."
So for the second time he openly promised Skywalker that Padmé could be saved from death. This was strictly a deception, meant to turn Skywalker away from the Jedi fold. In the end, whether or not there truly was a way to save Amidala was unimportant. Anakin Skywalker went down on bended knee before him and pledged himself to the Sith.
- "The Force is strong with you. A powerful Sith you will become. Anakin Skywalker, you are one with the order of the Sith Lords. Henceforth, you shall be known as Darth… Vader."
The fall of the Jedi Temple
- "First, I want you to go to the Jedi Temple. We will catch them off balance… Do what must be done, Lord Vader. Do not hesitate; show no mercy."
Like Maul and Tyranus, Vader had to demonstrate his allegiance through decisive action. Sidious had already convinced him that the Jedi were conspiring to take power, so it was easy to nudge him into the right frame of mind, reminding him that the Jedi would not stop until Sidious was dead, and if he were gone, what hope did Padmé have? For her sake, the Jedi had to die to the last being. He ordered, "Do what must be done, Lord Vader. Do not hesitate. Show no mercy. Only then will you be strong enough with the dark side to save Padmé." To this end, he placed under Vader's command the 501st Legion, a special clone trooper unit he had long ago set aside for just such tasks, and sent them off to the Temple. It would soon be ablaze.
In cutting down the most vulnerable members of the Order to whom he had once sworn allegiance, Vader would tie himself firmly to the Sith cause. The slight chance that he could try to return to his old life would become no chance. It would especially serve to sever Skywalker's ties to his wife; no matter how much she loved him, there would be no way Amidala could understand, much less forgive, his actions. She might even lose the will to live, and could then be dealt with effortlessly at a time of his choosing.
His new apprentice performed splendidly; through the night and into the early morning Vader led his troops through the Temple corridors in an orgy of bloodletting. Before leaving the Temple on his futile charge to the Senate Office Building, Master Windu had instructed one of the few Council members present, Shaak Ti, to prepare the Temple for a possible counterattack, but her best efforts were hardly enough to repel an entire legion of his handpicked troops. So many Jedi were away that only a token force remained behind to defend the younglings. Almost unopposed, Vader's blade and the clones mowed down the Temple's younglings and their minders. The Jedi losses were tragic.
When Vader and the 501st—which would soon earn the name of "Vader's Fist"—completed their errand, the Jedi Temple, repository of twenty-five thousand years of the Order's history, was but a smoking ruin. Originally, the building was to be destroyed; however, for some reason, Palpatine decided not to raze the old edifice to the ground. Some rumors hinted that he would be converting it into his new official residence, but the monument of self-glorification that was the Imperial Palace would be erected elsewhere. Perhaps he simply wanted to be able to gloat over the ruin, to let it remain as a permanent reminder of the arrogance of the Jedi Order, and of just how far—through his cunning—it had fallen.
- "What about the other Jedi spread across the galaxy?"
"Their betrayal will be dealt with."
- ―Darth Vader and Darth Sidious
While Vader "sterilized" the Temple, Sidious saw to the other Jedi. After a thousand years of planning, the time for revenge had come. His instrument was, of course, his Grand Army. The clones had been issued a list of orders on actions to take during specific emergency situations. One of these was Order 66: should the Jedi become involved in sedition against the Republic, the clones were to deal with them. Order 66 was not hardwired into the clones by the Kaminoans. The "rebellion" allowed this order to be given plausibly. The Jedi would not see it coming; they had forged a bond with their troops, but the Jedi forgot that the clones served the Republic, not them. He—not the Council—was the supreme commander of the Grand Army, and its troops had been made to follow his orders without question, even if they were ordered to kill their own field commanders.
Returning to the sanctity of his private office, Sidious reached out to key a special frequency into his holocomm. He contacted the various clone trooper commanders to issue a single command and ordered them all to execute Order 66. With each repetition of the order, his satisfaction grew. He could sense what was happening—not in detail, but he felt the dark side growing stronger with each Jedi death.
On a thousand fronts, spread over some two hundred worlds, Jedi commanders suddenly found themselves facing the guns of their own troops. Almost to a man, the clones performed spectacularly; an official estimate indicated that out of nearly ten thousand Jedi, fewer than one hundred survived the initial wave—99% of the Order had been eliminated at a stroke. Only in one known instance, on Murkhana, did troops refuse out of conscience to carry out his order and allow their targets to flee—obviously their service alongside Jedi had contaminated them. The Emperor later sent Lord Vader to make a proper example of them, and for the rest of their genetically-accelerated lives, no other clone trooper made the fatal mistake of forgetting who their master was.
Aside from that singular surprising incident, he had expected that a few dozen Jedi would have survived the slaughter, either by eluding or overpowering their assassins. But that was immaterial; they too would be erased eventually. He would have done better to have been more concerned about those few humbled survivors than he was, for it was through the efforts of two of them—none other than High Council members Yoda and Kenobi—that he would finally be defeated.
So enthused was Sidious by this long-anticipated victory that after issuing Order 66, he went to the Temple site himself, to see the fruit of his labors in person. Indeed, he couldn't not have gone, so long had he worked and waited for this moment. In the Room of a Thousand Fountains, he found Vader finishing off a small group of younglings and their protector, Cin Drallig. Vader knelt in obedience, and Sidious praised him. "You have done well, my new apprentice," Sidious told Vader. "Your skills are unmatched by any Sith before you. Now, Lord Vader, go and bring peace to the Empire." They separated again, leaving Vader to see to his second task. For there were still a few remaining loose ends: the leaders of Separatist Council.
The fall of the Confederacy of Independent Systems
- "After you have killed all the Jedi in the Temple, go to the Mustafar system. Wipe out Viceroy Gunray and the other Separatist leaders."
- ―Darth Sidious
Following their withdrawal from Utapau, the Separatist leaders and their aides had holed themselves up in their heavily-defended redoubt on Mustafar and waited for further instructions from Sidious. To pacify them until the blade fell, Sidious offered soothing words and the implication of a handsome reward. But as always, they needed further reinforcement. In his Senate holding office on Coruscant, he noted an incoming message from Mustafar. Initially he wondered if something had gone wrong; he had not expected a transmission from there yet. When he pressed the response button, and an image of Nute Gunray, with the rest of the Separatist Council behind him, appeared on the projector built into his desk, Sidious realized that Vader simply had not reached them yet.
Sidious endured Gunray making yet another report—the last, he hoped—about how the plan was proceeding. Sidious answered almost by rote, congratulating the Viceroy, and promising his new apprentice to 'take care of them', hiding the euphemism in his words. Sidious was pleased by the ambiguity in his words. Vader would not exactly be presenting them with cases filled with credits; he had a better reward in mind. Sidious had reached for the controls to end the transmission, but thought better of it and surreptitiously kept the channel to Mustafar open, to observe the carnage as it happened. Vader soon arrived. Equipped with the installation's deactivation codes by Sidious, his fighter landed without its automated defenses even noticing.
From his desk, it excited Sidious to see the Council members turn to face Vader as he arrived, offering him a fawning welcome. Vader was outside the range of the hologram pickup, but the expressions of the Separatists, changing from surprise to bewilderment and finally to fear, were clearly visible. Then, Vader's blue blade flashed through the pickup field, and parts of Poggle the Lesser were sent aloft. He saw the rest of the Council rouse themselves and desperately try to run, screaming, until the transmission cut off from their end. There was a reason for his satisfaction; thirteen years before, Sidious had remarked to Darth Maul how happy a day it would be when he no longer needed the Neimoidians and their ilk.
Sidious gave new instructions to Vader, telling him to deactivate the droid armies. Vader did as instructed, and a coded signal was sent out over every HoloNet repeater in the galaxy. When received, every battle droid simply turned itself off. The manufactured threat of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, having served its purpose, was decapitated, and the Clone Wars, the most destructive conflict in the last thousand years, had ended.
The inauguration of the Galactic Empire
- "So this is how liberty dies—with thunderous applause."
- ―Padmé Amidala
It remained only for Palpatine to win the Senate's support, so he called for a special session to inform them of the "Jedi rebellion." For the sake of his audience, he covered the damage to his face. He could have appeared in his usual black robes and hood, but for this triumphant day, something more eye-catching was needed. He chose a robe of burgundy material, with a matching velvet mantle and hood in the Sith style. As a coronation robe, it sufficed.
The Senate saw his face twisted and distorted, his blue eyes, penetrating but friendly, replaced by harsh yellow ones, far more penetrating and anything but friendly. For the rest of his life that face would be seen, appropriately enough, only in shadow, shrouded by a hood, those piercing yellow eyes its most visible feature. The galaxy eventually reconciled itself to this new face; portraits and statues of him incorporated it without shame. As he intended, that countenance was seen as a mark of pride, a wound suffered in the service of the people.
The Senators were informed of the Jedi plan not just to kill him, but to overthrow the Senate as well. As evidence, they heard recordings from his private office, and the voice of the late Master Windu accusing the Chancellor, in whom the galaxy had placed its trust, of being a Sith. And while the emphasis was always on the "treacherous plot against the Republic," never did Palpatine deny the accusation. Instead, he blamed the Jedi Order for everything he had done for the past three decades: they had manipulated the galaxy. Through their "puppet" Senators (conveniently, all members of the opposition), they were blamed for fostering corruption in the government to undermine the Republic. Through Dooku, they were blamed for manufacturing the Separatist movement to push the Republic into war. Through Sifo-Dyas, they were blamed for commissioning the clone army. Between these two proxies and the armies they commanded, he insisted, the Jedi had presided over a sham war, all to weaken the Republic so that the Council could take power openly:
Palpatine: The Jedi, and some within our own Senate, had conspired to create the shadow of separatism using one of their own as the enemy's leader… The Jedi hoped to unleash their destructive power against the Republic by assassinating the head of government and usurping control of the clone army. But the aims of would-be tyrants were valiantly opposed by those without elitist, dangerous powers. Our loyal clone troopers contained the insurrection within the Jedi Temple and quelled uprisings on a thousand worlds… The remaining Jedi will be hunted down and defeated. Any collaborators will suffer the same fate.
Thus he played on the long-accumulating mistrust and resentment of the Jedi, much of which he had fostered, to confirm what for some had become a firm conviction: that the war was nothing more than a Jedi plot. In the face of anti-Jedi biases, it was easy for Palpatine to depict Order 66 as a just and necessary measure.
Those who knew the Jedi in a better and clearer light and could have defended them, including much of the Senate opposition, were in no position to argue; the mood in the hall was clearly against them. In any case, they could see armed shock troopers stationed throughout the chamber, allegedly for the Chancellor's "protection."
Palpatine: These have been trying times, but we have passed the test. The attempt on my life has left me scarred and deformed, but I assure you my resolve has never been stronger. The war is over. The Separatists have been defeated, and the Jedi rebellion has been foiled. We stand on the threshold of a new beginning.
Here the opposition held its collective breath. It had been assumed that with the end of the war, and with the destruction of the alleged "hidden powers" behind the war, Palpatine would keep his promise to relinquish his emergency powers, step down from office and go into retirement on Naboo. But he had other plans, and when he announced them, the opposition was sent reeling:
Palpatine: In order to ensure our security and continuing stability, the Republic will be reorganized into the first Galactic Empire, for a safe and secure society, which I assure you will last for ten thousand years. An Empire that will continue to be ruled by this august body and a sovereign ruler chosen for life. An Empire ruled by the majority, ruled by a new constitution.
So he had confirmed their worst fears—there would be more changes to the Constitution, if that document was not to be scrapped entirely. It soon became frightfully clear that there would be more direction to the Senate, than ruling by the Senate. Many just didn't care; they knew where the power lay, and their support would gain them influence later. Those who did care remembered that there were blasters in the room. Palpatine continued, skillfully evoking the glories of empires past for a galaxy tired of disorder:
Palpatine: By bringing the entire galaxy under one law, one language, and the enlightened guidance of one individual, the corruption that plagued the Republic in its later years will never take root. Regional governors will eliminate the bureaucracy that allowed the Separatist movement to grow unchecked. A strong and growing military will ensure the rule of law… Under the Empire's New Order, our most cherished beliefs will be safeguarded. We will defend our ideals by force of arms. We will give no ground to our enemies and will stand together against attacks from within or without. Let the enemies of the Empire take heed: Those who challenge Imperial resolve will be destroyed.
The next two decades saw the violent suppression of all opposition, including intimidation, arrests, executions, the destruction of cities, even the destruction of entire planets. He would have gone further, and destroyed entire star systems, had his rule remained unchallenged. But the Rebel Alliance was years in the future. For the present, its future founders, Bail Organa and Mon Mothma, had no choice but to support their new Emperor; they could do more good alive than dead. Seduced by promises of safety, security, justice and peace, or perhaps just intimidated into silence, the Senate unanimously voted "yes." The Galactic Empire was an established fact.
The last stand of the Jedi Order
- "I have waited a long time for this moment, my little green friend. At last, the Jedi are no more."
"Not if anything to say about it, I have."
- ―Palpatine and Yoda
Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda eventually caught up with the betrayal and deceit, realizing that Anakin, now Vader, and his troops had slain everyone in the Jedi Temple, Masters, Knights, Padawans and younglings alike. Obi-Wan begged the old master not to send him to battle his former Padawan and friend, but there was no choice; Yoda thought the new Emperor would be far too powerful for Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan was sent to confront Anakin on Mustafar, while Yoda met with Sidious in the Senate Building on Coruscant. There, the Dark Lord of the Sith and the Grand Master of the Jedi Order dueled in a battle that destroyed a good portion of the Grand Convocation Chamber. The two were equally matched, demonstrating amazing strength and skill in the Force, as well as lightsaber combat. The battle ended in a draw after Palpatine's Force lightning was returned to him in a blast so powerful that it pushed the two masters apart. Sidious managed to grab onto a Senate pod, but Yoda fell several stories. The Jedi Master, exhausted and unable to continue the fight, realized that Palpatine could not be defeated in battle and so fled. "Into exile, I must go. Failed, I have," he remarked to Bail Organa, who hurried him away in his speeder. Emperor Palpatine waited for a time while shock troopers searched for Yoda's body, but when they learned that Yoda was still alive, Palpatine gave it little more thought. He commanded them to double the search, and gave them permission to blow up the Senate Building, but took no further action himself. It was a mistake that would eventually destroy him, but Palpatine could hardly be blamed. He had more pressing problems.
The transformation of Vader
- "Rise, Lord Vader."
The battle between Kenobi and Vader had ended much differently. Kenobi had succeeded in wounding his former apprentice, leaving him for dead. Hurrying to Mustafar with speed only the Emperor of the galaxy could afford (and with vigor that surprised even himself), Palpatine found his apprentice burned and alive.
Even as he made his way to the body, Sidious wrestled with anger and indecision. Part of him wanted to leave what was left of Vader to burn to ashes in the rising lava; even if he had survived, his body would be crippled, as would be his powers. Even the dark side of the Force required living beings to generate it, and too much of Vader's living flesh would have to be sacrificed in the act of saving him. Whatever the outcome, Vader would no longer be the perfect being to continue the Sith legacy, no longer be able to fulfill his promise. However, hobbled as he was, Vader would still be powerful, and there were no more Jedi to oppose him. So Sidious kept walking and, finally reaching his apprentice, placed a hand on Vader's forehead, using the dark side to keep him stable, while his shock troopers prepared a medical capsule for the return to Coruscant.
- "Live, Lord Vader. Live, my apprentice. Live."
- ―Palpatine's thoughts upon saving Vader
In the shuttle's rear compartment, Vader lay in his capsule as if in state, flanked by Red Guards. Sidious sat before him, using all his powers, every potion and device his medkit contained, to keep Vader stabilized, and wrestled with his own feelings. What if Anakin should die? he thought. Though he had nearly left Vader to die back on Mustafar, Sidious held, perhaps, the merest sliver of affection for him that he had never held for Maul or Tyranus. The reason for this may lie in Vader's one-of-a-kind potential. To find another being even half as powerful could take many years, and even then it would probably never happen. Sidious would have to really discover a way to bend the midi-chlorians to his will, to conceive a being as powerful as Skywalker had been, and that too promised to be impossible. It would be miracle enough if Vader was restored to life, which was far removed from actually returning someone from death.
Back in the capital, at the Emperor Palpatine Surgical Reconstruction Center, Palpatine commanded that Vader be rebuilt using prosthetic replacements, a long and painful process that Palpatine made sure Vader would be kept conscious for, in order to make him stronger through pain. Upon being completely rebuilt and outfitted in a life-supporting suit of armor, Vader asked his master what had become of Padmé. How much of the story Palpatine knew is unknown, but he apparently believed Vader himself had killed his wife in his anger, which worked to his own advantage by breaking Anakin Skywalker's spirit once and for all; Anakin's transformation to Vader was now fully complete. Vader fell into a rage and destroyed the operating theatre in his rage, even attempted to reach out and kill Sidious. However, he could not, his injuries had cut his potential in half, and he was no longer strong enough to stand against Palpatine. Ultimately, Vader didn't want to and gave up, understanding that Palpatine was the only one who would accept him. Palpatine was pleased: one of the most powerful Sith Lords of all time was born in pain and suffering, and it was his apprentice.
Meanwhile, Yoda and Obi-Wan fled into exile. Anakin's offspring were also separated; Leia went with Bail Organa to Alderaan, while Luke would be taken by Obi-Wan to Anakin's stepbrother Owen Lars on Tatooine, their existence hidden from Palpatine.
- "Once more, the Sith will rule the galaxy… And we shall have peace."
With the rise of the Empire, all the institutions of the old Republic found themselves either dismantled or changed beyond recognition. There was a riot of renaming all things "Imperial" to glorify the new Emperor: overnight, the Coruscant Sector was renamed the Imperial Sector, Coruscant itself was renamed Imperial Center, and Galactic City was renamed Imperial City. The Galactic Senate became the Imperial Senate. The Republic's clone troopers had already been rechristened the Imperial stormtroopers and formed into the Stormtrooper Corps; now the remaining surface-based and space-based forces of the Grand Army of the Republic became the Imperial Army and the Imperial Navy, respectively. The four decrepit intelligence agencies of the Republic were merged into Imperial Intelligence, with former SBI director Armand Isard at its head. The old Palace of the Republic, or Presidential Palace, was rebuilt and expanded, becoming the Imperial Palace, eclipsing all other buildings on Imperial Center. The former Commission for the Protection of the Republic (COMPOR) was renamed the Commission for the Preservation of the New Order (COMPNOR). Within days, there were few names left to remind the people that there had ever been a Republic.
Under the leadership of Palpatine's advisors, Crueya Vandron and Ishin-Il-Raz, COMPNOR gained a powerful hold over the Empire, and its organs insinuated themselves into every corner of society. The Imperial Security Bureau (ISB) was established as a branch of COMPNOR to act as a counterweight to Imperial Intelligence, and it became the Emperor's all-pervasive secret police organization. The Coalition for Progress established monitoring agencies to keep track of all aspects of life. The fleet would prove somewhat insubordinate, and a tension between the Coruscant government and the fleet admirals existed throughout this period, creating the need for the ISB to install political officers throughout the military as minders.
The dark times
- "He's a most disturbing man."
- ―Ko Sai
Although this attempted totalitarian regime remained weak, it was continually strengthening until the break-up of the Empire in 4 ABY. Examples of its broad scope include an Imperially promoted aesthetic style of military-inspired simplicity, in contrast to the opulence and ornamentation Galactic Republic-era. Non-Humans and women were excluded from much of this New Order, and atrocities committed by powerful regional governors were common. Palpatine's first purge of the Imperial Navy occurred within just two weeks into the Empire's rule.
In 18 BBY, Palpatine invited former Jedi Ferus Olin to Coruscant to ask him a favor: find the saboteur of the computer system of the planet Samaria. Ferus refused at first, but when Palpatine told him about the arrest of two of Ferus's friends, he had to accept. As Olin later found out, Palpatine had been using the crisis as a way to gain complete control of the planet. Darth Vader also thought that the Emperor wanted Ferus to turn to the dark side of the Force. Palpatine would later taunt Olin with the same thing he had used to turn Anakin to the dark side: the ability to create and save lives.
During the Great Jedi Purge, Palpatine passed a rumor that Darth Vader tracked down and destroyed a conclave of fifty Jedi single-handedly, greatly exaggerating the event, which only involved eight Jedi and also required the aid of the 501st. The false rumor helped keep fear running in the galaxy.
Palpatine soon began his tests for Vader's gradual descent to becoming a true Sith. He had a historian Fane Peturri to secretly assist Vader in the history of the Sith. He also knew of Vader's desire for an apprentice to help him overthrow the current regime.
Palpatine was also responsible for the devastation of Caamas. The Emperor saw the respected Caamasi as a threat to his New Order. A group of Bothan infiltrators were responsible for sabotaging Caamas's shield generators, leaving the planet vulnerable to Imperial orbital bombardment. The once beautiful world was devastated during this attack, turned into a poisoned wasteland. The peaceful Caamasi were dispersed throughout the galaxy. In 18 BBY, the Emperor constructed the huge, asteroid-shaped superweapon Eye of Palpatine in order to use it to destroy a Jedi enclave on Belsavis. However, the deadly superweapon was sabotaged by two Jedi Knights and the Jedi on Belsavis managed to escape. The Eye would remain forgotten until 12 ABY when it was recovered by Roganda Ismaren.
Shortly after the declaration of the Galactic Empire, Darth Sidious began constructions in the dangerous Deep Core on the planet Byss to turn it into a secret throne world immediately after he became Emperor. To do this, he utilized thousands of alien workers from countless conquered worlds including Utapau, Gamorr, and Toydaria. Byss was a dark side conduit, able to give its inhabitants great power in using the Force. Along with the power of Byss, Palpatine slowly fed on the life energy of his workers, to lengthen his own life.
He and Darth Vader also brought a number of captured Agricultural Corps survivors and other Padawans to the planet in order to train them into powerful servants. Vader was ordered to select worthy pupils, and dispose of the rest. He initially selected four of the best pupils including an Agricultural Corps member named Tremayne.
On a number of occasions, Palpatine visited the ancient Sith graveyard world Korriban for advice from long dead Sith Lords. He also unlocked secrets of the Force from a captured Jedi holocron. Emperor Palpatine wrote the Dark Side Compendium, a study of the nature of the dark side, and finished two books while in power, and began a third which was never completed.
Birth of the Rebellion
In 18 BBY, the Emperor sent Vader to Kashyyyk to find and destroy a rogue Jedi named Kento Marek. Once Kento was killed, Vader immediately discovered that the Jedi was hiding a Force-strong son: Galen. Vader adopted the boy, and began training him as his sith apprentice. According to Vader, he was secretly preparing Galen to overthrow Palpatine, but this claim was dubious.
In 3 BBY, Galen's training was nearly complete and Vader sent him to various missions to prove himself ready: killing rogue Jedi and dueling the simulated Sith spirits of Darths Desolous and Phobos. In order to keep his presence hidden from the Emperor, Galen had to eliminate all witnesses; Imperials as well as resistance fighters. However, Palpatine eventually discovered Galen and a fleet at his command surrounded Vader. Vader was ordered to kill Galen after stabbing him for his exposed existence, which he appeared to do, but secretly sparing the boy in hopes of getting more use out of him.
6 months later, the ressurected Galen was sent by Vader to assemble an army of the Emperor's enemies to oppose the Sith Master. Unfortunately for him, Vader captured the Rebels and revealed to Galen that it was all a ruse to have them reveal their treachery. Galen soon proved resistant after escaping and truly defected to both the Jedi and the Rebellion. He and his Jedi friend, Master Rahm Kota, confronted Palpatine aboard the nearly completed Death Star, and surprised the Emperor by defeating Vader in combat.
Darth Sidious, as a Machiavellian who used everyone until they outlived their worth, was actually pleased that Galen was the victor of the duel. Ever since Mustafar, the Emperor had viewed Vader as a broken shadow of his former self: Anakin Skywalker. For years, Sidious was bitter about the fact that he had spent a lifetime trying to obtain an apprentice of Skywalker's caliber, and just as he succeeded, his prized pupil was forced to become "more machine than man," thus dashing any hopes the Emperor had of making Vader a powerful Sith.
In Galen, Sidious finally saw an opportunity to rid himself of his hobbled disciple. Galen, by defeating his own master in combat, proved that he had the potential to be the perfect apprentice that Sidious had been searching for. Vader was a lost cause, and thus he was only meant to do the Emperor's bidding until a new apprentice could be found. Upon seeing his chance to finally cast Vader aside, Sidious goaded Galen to kill his fallen master, and then take his rightful place as a Sith Lord and the Dark Lord's new apprentice.
Although tempted, Galen resisted what his master could not: falling to the dark side through Palpatine's manipulation. Using telekinesis, he hurled objects at Sidious, who absorbed the blows, at great personal injury to himself, and attempted to goad Galen into dealing the deathblow. Galen, realizing that killing Palpatine would turn him back to the dark side, backed off. Palpatine summoned his full strength and sent lightning at Kota, attempting to force the issue, but Galen unexpectedly took the blast for his friend and was fatally wounded. With his dying breath, Galen caused an explosion with the Force, incapacitating Palpatine long enough for a group of captured Rebel leaders to escape.
Palpatine took no joy in the death of Galen Marek. He had plans for the boy, as he once had with Anakin. Galen was meant to root out the rebels so that they could all be revealed and destroyed, yet Sidious bitterly admitted that Galen's sacrifice would only inspire them to fight a full-scale war against the Galactic Empire. On a more personal note, the Emperor had lost what was supposed to be Vader's successor as the new Sith apprentice. To have lost someone of Galen's potential and having to still make due with a cyborg apprentice was a frustrating setback as well. All in all, the combination of Galen's death and the survival of the Rebel leaders led Darth Sidious to the wise conclusion that unless he destroyed every single rebel now, the Rebellion which he and Vader unwittingly helped to create, would be the undoing of the Empire and even the Order of the Sith Lords itself.
The Emperor, left with no alternative now that Galen was dead, was forced to keep Darth Vader as his slave until he could find a new apprentice, and then, like Darth Tyranus, Vader would be swept aside. However, the incident with Galen also served to drive the master and his apprentice even further apart then they already were. Like Tyranus before him, Vader had been betrayed by his master in favor of an apprentice far younger and more powerful. And it would not be the last time that the Emperor would try to replace the half-mechanical Sith Lord with a worthier apprentice, as the encounter between the Sith Lords and Luke Skywalker would later reveal.
Dark side Adepts and Trachta's insurrection
At some point during his reign, Palpatine communicated with the Shreeftut of the distant Ssi-ruuvi Imperium through the use of the dark side. He appeared in the Shreeftut's dreams and claimed that he was the ruler of an Empire in the Galactic Core. Palpatine traded with the Shreeftut for some battle drones in exchange that a large number of "subjects" be present for entechment by the Imperium. This would result in the Ssi-ruuvi invasion of Bakura in 4 ABY.
Emperor Palpatine also employed a large number of Force-sensitive agents. These people, the Dark Side Adepts, were outside the Empire's official organization, but reported directly to Emperor Palpatine or (when necessary) Lord Vader. Palpatine intended to replace key officials with the Adepts, though their number was too limited. It is unknown how these adepts got around the Sith Order's Rule of Two. Technically, Palpatine and Vader were the only ones who styled themselves as Sith Lords, so they may have just been paying lip service to the Rule of Two. It is also possible that, since the Republic was gone and the Jedi extinct (or at least presumed extinct), Palpatine may have rendered obsolete the Rule of Two. But since they did not train the adepts with Sith-exclusive knowledge, they were technically not Sith.
In 1 BBY, Palpatine and Vader were the targets of a group of treacherous Imperial officers led by Grand Moff Trachta. Trachta saw the Sith as foolish and archaic, and believed that the Empire should not be ruled by a two-man cult. They planned to use a batch of altered stormtroopers loyal only to them to destroy the two Sith Lords. However, their plot failed in part because of internal fighting between the co-conspirators.
Just prior to the First Battle of Tatooine, he personally went to Bothawui with a team of elite Royal Guards to destroy the traitorous Bothans, who supplied Imperial traitor Kalast with top secret Imperial data. He gathered information that Tantive IV was headed to Tatooine.
The New Order in practice (0 BBY)
- "The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away."
- ―Wilhuff Tarkin
The dissolution of the Senate
From the beginning, Palpatine sought to remove the Senate. The first reason was symbolic: he could not leave a reminder of the Republic lying about. The second was political: some Senators still opposed him. His obedient majority tried keeping them in check; they understood they were only there to prop up the illusion of democracy. He dealt with the outspoken ones when they appeared, but others sprouted in their place. Worse, some of them, he suspected, were providing the Rebels with funds, information, and resources.
He had waited until the time was right, all the while sapping their power. Finally (0 BBY) he was ready. Their replacements waited in the wings: the governors, Moffs, and Grand Moffs were in place, and the military, as always, obeyed him without question.
Warrants were issued for the arrest of all suspected Rebels. Stormtroopers burst into the Senate, and hundreds were detained. Some—those learned to have had Rebel affiliations—were never seen again. The following morning, the remaining Senators, unaware of what had happened, came to work only to find themselves locked out of their offices and chambers. Some tried to appeal to Palpatine directly, but were told that their diplomatic access to the Palace had been suspended "for the duration of the emergency."
Many of them had been present when the Senate gave power to him. They too were arrested and interrogated. Many who were released left Coruscant for their homeworlds, and a peaceful—and isolated—retirement. The small number of Senators that remained, the ones who had most voraciously upheld the party line, were generously rewarded with their lives and new positions. Many of them donned ornate jeweled robes and joined the swelling ranks of Imperial advisors.
Palpatine had killed what was left of the Constitution. A new pyramidal structure was imposed, with himself at its summit, then the Grand Moffs who ruled Oversectors, then the Moffs who ruled Sectors, then the governors of individual worlds. All of them owed their careers to the Emperor and gave him their allegiance. But even here, he had extra guarantees. He had long since inserted COMPNOR into every level of the bureaucracy, to insure that each one followed his dictates. For all the power of the Moffs and Grand Moffs, COMPNOR stood behind them, more powerful still. And behind them all stood the Death Star, enforcing his will at gunpoint.
An example is made
Palpatine was equally thorough in dealing with Senators who were off Coruscant at the time, or had escaped. One was Senator Canna Omonda, Mon Mothma's successor as representative from Chandrila. Many Senators had hoped Omonda would intercede for them. But Omonda, seeing no point, did not try to gain an audience, instead becoming one of the few Senators, perhaps the only one, to leave Coruscant before the noose tightened. But she made a parting shot in her remarks to the press as she boarded a transport bound for Chandrila:
- "I am gratified that my colleagues are coming, however late, to the realization that talk is not a suitable means of communicating with Palpatine."
- ―Canna Omonda to Palpatine
Omonda left the capital; just in time, as her colleagues were arrested. But Palpatine could not let her remain at large; he dispatched an "honor escort" of three Imperial Star Destroyers to Chandrila, to bring her back to Coruscant for a "short interview" with High Inquisitor Halmere. The Chandrilans took the hint that the "escort" would devastate Chandrila if they refused to release her; Omonda was turned over to the Inquisitorius. Omonda soon confessed to acts of treason, giving her interrogators the names of people she had passed classified information to. The night of the confession, in his before-dinner remarks at the Palace, Palpatine again donned his well-worn mask of firm benevolence for the sake of the press:
- "I have always valued Omonda's counsel and advice. After all, no leader is so wise and great he cannot benefit from criticism. Sadly, while seeing Omonda return to the Imperial fold pleases me, the penalty for high treason is quite specific. However much I may wish to do so, I cannot spare her now and remain true to my pledges to honor law and order above all else. The Empire will miss her."
- ―Palpatine, after Omonda's execution
Omonda's public execution was scheduled as part of the traditional New Year Fete Week celebrations (1 ABY), but this was canceled in light of "security concerns." No specific reason was given, but the government likely feared that Rebels or their sympathizers might disrupt the event. Even without the executions, the awesome power of the New Order was displayed to full effect. The traditional parade passed before the Palatial Balcony, where Palpatine occasionally appeared, flanked by Vader and numerous lieutenants. Since Palpatine was not on the balcony throughout the entire parade, possibly he went to visit her before her death—or watch her die. Palpatine was also heard to remark that if sending up two traitors in a row was how Chandrila rewarded him for his favor, it might benefit from more direct supervision. Chandrila duly received its direct supervision, and its legal government soon vanished. In its place, Grandon Holleck was installed as governor.
The same event in different languages
A postscript to the dissolution of the Senate can be found in the way it was explained by the government. At some point, of course, the obedient press and the citizens of the Empire's member worlds would have to be told what had happened to the Senate. The duty to explain the new decree fell on Ars Dangor, one of Palpatine's ranking advisors. Appealing to a people that had endured the threat of war and unrest from the Clone Wars onwards, Dangor painted the Rebels as just the latest variation on the Separatists of old:
"During this time of crisis…"
Dangor issued a galaxy-wide holomessage, directed to all the citizens of the Galactic Empire. Appealing to a people that had endured the threat of war and unrest from the Clone Wars onwards, Dangor used all the tried and tested hallmarks of New Order propaganda to paint the Rebels as just the latest variation on the Separatists of old:
These are dangerous times. Our grand Empire of united star systems now faces a threat that could destroy us if action is not taken quickly.
As always, we shall act quickly.
The rebellion against the Emperor's fair and just rule has flared into a flame greater than we anticipated. It threatens to become a civil war, and as such we have declared it an emergency situation.
To better protect our citizens and our member worlds, the Emperor has superseded and suspended the Imperial Senate for the duration of this emergency. The Moffs and Grand Moffs will now have direct control of their systems until such time as the danger has passed.
We are sure you shall all do everything in your power to assist us during this time of crisis.
"No longer of any concern…"
Dangor also sent out another holomessage, this one specifically to the regional governors. This message, not intended for public distribution but nonetheless leaked and exposed by Rebel sympathizers, dispensed with the flowery rhetoric about law and order that the people had come to trust over more than two decades and made an honest appeal to rule through fear and intimidation.
We understand that you have been concerned of late about this "growing" rebellion. I have even heard concern about the support this rebellion has been gaining in the Imperial Senate.
Listen well. The Imperial Senate will no longer be of any concern to us. The Emperor has permanently dissolved that misguided body. The last remnants of the Old Republic have now been swept away.
Senatorial representation has not been formally abolished, you must understand. It has merely been superseded "for the duration of the emergency." If that duration remains a permanent fixture, so be it. You, the Emperor's regional governors, will now have direct control and a free hand in administering your territories. This means that the Imperial presence can at last be brought to bear properly on the vacillating worlds of the Empire.
From now on, fear will keep potentially traitorous local governments in line. Fear of the Imperial fleet—and fear of the new Death Star battle station.
Have I made myself clear?
Some of these governors, such as Wilhuff Tarkin, were greatly encouraged; it cannot be doubted that Tarkin recognized in Dangor's message many of the same sentiments he and his mistress and confidant Daala had expressed in his memorandum to the Emperor some five years before. So elated was he that when he reported its essentials to his Death Star command staff with Vader in tow, he did so in jaunty mood, even making use of some of the juicier quotes.
Tarkin: The Imperial Senate will no longer be of any concern to us. I've just received word that the Emperor has dissolved the council permanently. The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away… The regional governors now have direct control over their territories. Fear will keep the local systems in line. Fear of this battle station.
Palpatine had demonstrated that his and Tarkin's ideas on governance were closely linked. The doctrine that already bore Tarkin's name was becoming widespread.
- "This station is now the ultimate power in the universe. I suggest we use it."
- ―Conan Antonio Motti
The exemplar and symbol of the New Order was no longer to be the stormtrooper, or the fleet, or even, to an extent, Palpatine himself. It was to be an armored space station he and his lieutenants had spent some two decades in the building, enduring a seeming eternity of research and development, accident, sabotage, great leaps forward and disappointing steps backward. He did not know, or did not care, that in the end, it would make the Rebellion even more emboldened than before.
The destruction of Alderaan
In the absence of the Senate, Palpatine had established an environment where even his subordinates were capable of terrible atrocities against sentients. From the very beginning of its design, it was intended that the Death Star be capable of destroying entire planets. But most Imperial strategists were certain that the threat alone would be enough to keep most worlds in line. Tarkin felt differently; as he saw it, the Rebels were growing bolder, and only a very public demonstration of the battlestation's power against a Rebel target would succeed in giving them pause. His argument convinced Palpatine.
So Palpatine approved in advance the destruction of a planet—and thereby the mass murder of its entire population. He knew it would be used on an inhabited world. But he did not know in advance that it was to be Alderaan. Tarkin alone made this decision, facing down even Vader to do so. If Palpatine knew about Tarkin's intent from that point onward, it would only be because Vader made a report to him after the decision was made, but before the station entered the Alderaan system and carried out its mission, an act that, by current estimates, caused the deaths of 1,999,940,000 sentient beings.
Palpatine's private feelings on the tragedy were a mystery, but publicly he adopted his benevolent persona, announcing that he was saddened by the loss of such a noble world, and adding that had Alderaan entrusted itself to Imperial protection, it would still be thriving. In other words, the destruction of Alderaan might not have been necessary had Bail Organa simply bowed under as he was supposed to. But he made a "magnanimous" offer to resettle the sixty thousand remaining Alderaanians, those who were away when their homeworld was destroyed, on his "private resort world."
Palpatine: These people have lost a homeworld through no fault of their own. Offering them a new homeworld is the least I can do to compensate them for their loss.
Exactly how many Alderaanian survivors took Palpatine up on his offer and moved to Byss is unknown. What is certain is that it may have been better for them to have died in the disaster, considering what really happened to those hopefuls who came to his Deep Core stronghold. Many were simply rendered mindless slaves, going about their lives in a deadened bliss while Sidious and his dark side confidants fed from their life energies.
It was later announced by Palpatine's proxies that he himself had ordered the destruction of Alderaan after the Empire had obtained "irrefutable evidence" that this planet of pacifists, which had not even possessed a standing armed force, had supposedly been creating bioweapons. The possibility that some of these bioweapons had been taken off-world to Rebel cells was dangled in front of the compliant press, to keep the terrified Core Worlds in line and justify a permanent state of emergency. As a result, the Empire put more time and resources than ever before into crushing the Rebellion, flushing out Rebel strongholds throughout the galaxy and conquering worlds that had allied themselves with the Alliance.
The Galactic Civil War
Tarkin had promulgated a fear-driven principle of governance later called the Tarkin Doctrine, and intended that the galaxy sink in fear. But shortly after the destruction of Alderaan, the Death Star itself was destroyed by the Rebel Alliance in the Battle of Yavin. Grand Moff Tarkin, who was aboard the battle station at the time and refused to evacuate, was killed in the station's destruction. But while this was a great loss for the Empire, Palpatine nonetheless found ways to turn the situation to his advantage. Even so, he punished Darth Vader for this incompetence by severing his already-mechanical right hand.
The punishment of Bevel Lemelisk
Others would have to answer for their incompetence, most notably the Death Star's principal engineer, Bevel Lemelisk. Upon hearing of the Yavin fiasco, Lemelisk, correctly fearing for his life, went into hiding. It did not take long for Imperial Intelligence to track the engineer to his remote retreat on Hefi, and "summon" him to an audience with his Emperor. When he entered Palpatine's audience chamber, he made the tragic mistake of trying to bluff his way through, believing that Palpatine did not know what had really happened. The Emperor set him straight at once.
- "I just received word that your Death Star was destroyed at Yavin. A puny band of Rebels with outdated fighters found a weakness in your design—a thermal exhaust port that allowed a single X-wing pilot to strike a fatal blow. One pilot obliterated an entire battle station!"
Palpatine used the Force to trap Lemelisk within a wire-mesh cage, and then released into the cage a swarm of winged insects, piranha beetles he had long ago "rescued" from Yavin 4. Palpatine was greatly amused as the insects made shreds of his engineer. But he still needed Lemelisk, so he used the Jedi Holocron taken from the late Ashka Boda, transferring Lemelisk's unwitting essence to a clone body. The exercise properly expressed his disappointment to Lemelisk, but it made for a trial run of the process he himself might yet have to endure, should his own body at last fail him.
- "Now don't fail me again, Lemelisk. I'd hate to have to think of an even worse execution for next time."
Inevitably, as Lemelisk sought to rectify the failures of the Death Star's design, Palpatine did have to conceive even more excruciating deaths for every subsequent failure, seven executions in all, ranging from the horrid to the whimsical, each time reviving him and letting the lesson of his latest execution press him onward. The engineer was launched out an airlock, his organs destroyed by the pressure and cold. He was locked in a vault filled with thickening acid mist that ate into him with even bloodier vigor than the piranha beetles had. He was once slowly lowered into a vat of molten copper which burned his body away a centimeter at a time. When, a month later, Lemelisk felt bold enough to ask why copper, Palpatine simply told him that that was what the smelter had used that day. These were not mere acts of sadism; they had an underlying purpose, employing pain to encourage progress.
- "We have a new enemy. The young Rebel who destroyed the Death Star. I have no doubt this boy is the offspring of Anakin Skywalker."
Palpatine was unconcerned about the Rebellion. For the present, it was useful, to accustom his subjects to a state of permanent martial law. He could accept some interference from the Rebels if it helped him in the long run. Without the Force on their side, they could never truly hurt him.
The threat of Luke Skywalker
- "The Force is strong with him. The son of Skywalker must not become a Jedi."
"If he could be turned, he would become a powerful ally."
- ―Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader
Following a major victory in capturing a Rebel base on Hoth (3 ABY), Palpatine told Vader that his son, Luke Skywalker, was alive and was the Rebel pilot responsible for the destruction of the Death Star. He was now trained in the Force and becoming a great threat to the Sith. Vader convinced Palpatine that it would be beneficial for both of them if Luke was converted to the dark side. Actually, Vader already knew that his son was alive, and had been actively searching for him, secretly planning to use Luke to help him overthrow his master. What Vader didn't know was that Palpatine was toying with him; Palpatine knew that Vader already knew about his son, and that Vader planned to use Luke against him.
The plot to assassinate Luke Skywalker
- "You will kill Luke Skywalker!"
- ―Palpatine to Mara Jade
Palpatine dispatched his Hand, Mara Jade, to Tatooine, certain that, at some point, Skywalker would go there to rescue his friend, Han Solo. When he did, she was ordered to kill him. At the same time, he ordered Vader to Endor, to oversee the construction of the new Death Star. His apprentice would be useful in speeding up the workers, but it also put him well out of the way. By the time he joined Vader at Endor, he would have heard the comforting mind-touch of Jade, assuring him that Skywalker was dead. Let Vader suspect all he wanted; even if he did learn the truth, it would only encourage him to remember where his loyalties lay.
But when Jade's mind-touch was heard, he was distressed to learn that she had failed him, a rare event indeed. Skywalker had eluded her by sheer chance, and by Jabba's personal strength of will. The Hutt had refused to let her on the barge that was to take Skywalker to his death, and so she could not be there to make sure he died. And there was little hope that Jabba's thugs could accomplish it themselves. Killing Skywalker was not an option now; converting him to the dark side was the last hope Palpatine had. It could be done; Skywalker had learned of his father's true identity, and would risk all to try to steal him back from Palpatine's grasp. The Emperor counted on this to lure the boy into his trap. First, he would destroy Skywalker's friends and loved ones. Then, he would force him to kill his father, the man he loved as much as he hated. Like his father before him, it would be slow, and perhaps harder this time around. But at the end, Skywalker would accept the dark side of the Force.
The Raygar threat
With the approval Emperor Palpatine, the scientist Doctor Raygar went to Endor aboard a ship commanded by Admiral Kazz to seize the powerful artifact called the "sunstar" from the native Ewoks. His mission was successful; meanwhile, Palpatine traveled to the system to retrieve the sunstar. But when Raygar analyzed the gem and recognized the power it held, he decided to use it to kill Palpatine upon arrival and make himself the new Emperor. Raygar constructed a powerful weapon to use against Palpatine's shuttle, but as he prepared to test the weapon, Raygar was attacked by the Ewok Wicket W. Warrick who had infiltrated the ship. As Palpatine's shuttle approached, the scuffle between Warrick and Raygar resulted in the misfiring of the weapon; it hit the starboard wing of Palpatine's shuttle, forcing a retreat until all was clear. The Ewoks reclaimed their sunstar, while Raygar was accused with fabricating the gem's existence. He was charged with high treason, and Palpatine personally saw to Raygar's punishment.
Partnership with Black Sun
During this time, Palpatine also had extensive involvement with Xizor, the leader of the Black Sun crime cartel. Xizor saw himself as a rival to Darth Vader and worked hard to ingratiate himself to Palpatine and alienate Vader from his master. According to Xizor, Palpatine seemed to enjoy goading the two rivals, ordering Vader to express gratitude after Xizor revealed the location of a Rebel shipyard. Palpatine also approved a plan of Xizor's to eliminate the Bounty Hunters Guild, again over Vader's objections. While Vader desired to capture Luke Skywalker, Xizor made repeated attempts to kill the aspiring Jedi. Palpatine observed this power struggle and planted the Second Death Star plans on a freighter of Xizor's—which was intercepted and captured by the Rebels. However, when Vader destroyed Xizor's skyhook and fleet, Palpatine showed little concern over the loss. To him, Xizor was merely another in a long line of expendable servants.
Treachery of Zaarin
The ambitious Imperial officer Grand Admiral Demetrius Zaarin, dissatisfied with his status, led a coup d'état against Palpatine while the Emperor was aboard his ship, the Imperial-class Star Destroyer Majestic. Miraculously, Zaarin's forces boarded the ship and captured the Emperor, putting him on a transport to be delivered to Zaarin himself aboard the Imperial-class Star Destroyer Glory. How Zaarin's forces were able to detain the powerful Sith Lord is unknown; it is possible that Palpatine merely feigned weakness and allowed himself to be captured much like at the end of the Clone Wars, possibly as a test for his servants or merely to humor Zaarin. Nevertheless, refusing to make the mistake of the Republic in 19 BBY, the Imperial forces, led by Darth Vader, Admiral Thrawn, and Maarek Stele rushed quickly to the scene and battled Zaarin's forces. Vader and Stele fought their way through Zaarin's forces in their TIE/D Defenders to reach and "rescue" Palpatine much in the same way that Vader had, as Skywalker, done almost 25 years ago at the Battle of Coruscant. Zaarin escaped Coruscant, however; Thrawn hunted him down and destroyed him soon after.
The exile of the Prophets
As Palpatine made the last preparations for his trap over Endor, he received his Supreme Prophet, the diminutive Kadann. For decades he had consulted the Prophets nearly as often as he looked into the dark side himself, to be sure nothing happened that he hadn't foreseen. But this time, Kadann saw the return of balance to the Force, and the end of the Empire. Palpatine laughed at him; he hadn't seen this in his meditations. But Kadann trusted his visions, so he gathered the Prophets and left Coruscant. Only Cronal remained. They were the first of Sidious's paladins to desert him and strike out on their own. Palpatine could not let their defection go unanswered, so he sent his Inquisitors to Dromund Kaas to "reeducate" them. To escape his wrath, they fled to a more secure temple on Bosthirda, where they could watch events unfold in safety.
It is doubtful that Palpatine dismissed Kadann's vision because his foresight was any clearer: rather, he denied the very possibility of defeat, and refused to acknowledge any prediction revealing anything less than complete victory. He clung to his belief that he would crush the Rebellion and corrupt Skywalker, because the alternative was so terrible he could never consider it. Skywalker could destroy all his power, unless he turned Skywalker first. For this reason, Endor became the focus for all his hopes. He correctly believed the coming battle would decide everything. But at that crucial moment, his uncanny foresight seems to have failed him.
The downfall of the Galactic Empire (4 ABY)
- "You have failed, your highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me."
- ―Luke Skywalker
The trap at Endor
Hoping to put an end to the Galactic Civil War and solidify his rule once and for all, Palpatine crafted an intricate plan to lure the entirety of the Rebel Alliance into an inescapable death trap. A second, more powerful Death Star was being built over Endor, a forest moon orbiting a gas giant of the same name, protected by a shield generator on the moon's surface.
In 4 ABY, Palpatine undertook a pilgrimage to the Sith tomb world of Korriban, accompanied by a large number of stormtroopers. Although he sensed the presence of the Rebel Renegade Squadron on Korriban, he dismissed them as an insignificant threat and allowed his stormtroopers to deal with them. However, after the squadron not only captured a Sith tomb close to the Emperor's shuttle but also began destroying valuable Sith artifacts and a large statue, the enraged Palpatine entered the chamber and began slaughtering the members of Renegade Squadron. The squadron managed to flee, and as they left, they blew explosives that closed all three of the tomb's entrances, trapping Palpatine inside the tomb. While he was trapped, Renegade Squadron stole his personal datapad from his shuttle and learned he would be on the Death Star at the time of their attack.
Palpatine turned this temporary setback to his advantage and allowed other Rebel spies to learn of the Death Star's location while planting disinformation which suggested the superweapon was not yet operational. In reality, the station's prime weapon was complete and fully functional, and an enormous contingent of the Imperial Navy was there to protect it. Darth Vader and later Palpatine himself went onboard the battle station, believing that if the Rebels thought they had a chance to destroy the Empire's new superweapon and kill the Emperor himself in the process, they wouldn't pass up an opportunity to launch an all-out attack, and they were correct.
Subsequently, Luke Skywalker, who was convinced that his father could be turned back to the light side, allowed himself to be captured and brought to the Death Star. There, Palpatine manipulated Luke into battling his father so that he could inherit his mantle at the Emperor's side. Luke resisted at first, until Vader probed his mind and learned that Leia was Luke's sister. With this knowledge, Vader speculated that he could corrupt her instead, a threat that enraged the young Jedi and drove him to attack Vader with full fury.
- "Good! Your hate has made you powerful. Now fulfill your destiny and take your father's place at my side."
- ―Palpatine encourages Luke's dark feelings
Although he nearly killed Vader and cut off his mechanical right hand, Luke controlled his anger at the last minute; realizing that he was dangerously close to suffering his father's fate, he discarded his lightsaber and turned to face the Emperor, stating that he was a Jedi, like his father before him.
Palpatine was enraged. Everything was falling apart. Still using a portion of his powers to monitor the battle, he was aware that the Rebel fleet, though bloodied, was now holding its own against his most powerful armada, and that, worse still, the Rebels on Endor had somehow cut off the shields protecting the Death Star; the station was now vulnerable to attack. None of these problems were insurmountable, as long as he had Skywalker in his grasp, but as with Galen Marek, he had failed once again. He would have no new apprentice now. Skywalker was a lost cause, and a real threat.
The balance of the Force
- "So be it, Jedi. If you will not be turned, you will be destroyed."
- ―Palpatine to Luke Skywalker
Palpatine had one concern left: the venting of his awesome rage. Even to kill Skywalker was not enough; he had to suffer for his defiance. Raising his arms, Palpatine released a withering barrage of Force lightning that tore through the boy and brought him to his knees. Skywalker had never been trained to repel such an assault, nor could he call on his saber to block it. He taunted the Jedi without pause:
- "Young fool. Only now, at the end, do you understand. Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the dark side. You have paid the price for your lack of vision. Now, young Skywalker, you will die."
- ―Palpatine, before blasting Luke Skywalker with Force lightning
Palpatine intended that Vader also pay for seeking to use Skywalker against him; Vader would be forced to carry his son's dead body to the core shaft and throw it into the chasm. If Palpatine had any doubts, they were answered when he saw Vader dragging himself to his feet and resuming his place at his master's side. However, Palpatine had forgotten what had first enabled him to convert Anakin Skywalker—his desperate need to keep those he cared for from dying—and he had never anticipated that Vader would refuse to watch his son die, and act to prevent it. Thus Palpatine did not notice that, right next to him, a long-buried Anakin Skywalker had emerged.
The first death of Palpatine
Without warning, Anakin grabbed Palpatine from behind, pinning his upper arms to his torso. The Emperor struggled against Anakin's grip, his hands forced high into the air, shooting bolts in all directions, damaging Anakin's life-support systems beyond repair. Anakin carried him to the edge of the shaft, lifted him high over his head, and, with the last of his strength, hurled the Emperor into the abyss. He plummeted four hundred kilometers down the shaft, and even as he fell, he refused to admit defeat. Perhaps he was lying to himself, or perhaps he knew what the Skywalkers, father and son, did not: the absolute certainty that death could not claim him.
Emperor Palpatine was dead. Minutes later, his former apprentice Anakin Skywalker also died. With them ended the lineage of Sith Lords that had existed unchanged since the time of Darth Bane. It was this that brought about the long-awaited restoration of balance to the Force. But the Rebel Alliance—and later the New Republic it established—still had much work to do on its own before the era of peace foretold by the ancient Jedi prophets came to pass. The Empire would not surrender its holdings without pitched struggle, and the Emperor himself was loathe to cast off his power, or his life.
The question of Palpatine's Battle meditation
In Palpatine's absence, the Battle of Endor continued unabated for several hours, but despite its best efforts, his fleet was losing. The very fact of his death, it was later commented, seemed to trigger a significant and noticeable demoralization in the ranks of the Imperial forces. This has caused some to ask if his death played an even more significant role in the Empire's defeat at Endor than has been assumed.
Though four of Palpatine's Grand Admirals—Nial Declann, Makati, Takel, and Teshik—were present at Endor, the one who was, perhaps, his greatest, Grand Admiral Thrawn, was not—he was still on Nirauan, overseeing the pacification of the Unknown Regions. But by the time he returned to the Empire proper nearly five years later, his suspicions—aroused by his insider's knowledge of the Emperor's methods—had crystallized into a working theory, which he related to one of Endor's most pivotal participants, Captain Gilad Pellaeon, the man who had ultimately sounded the Imperial retreat:
- "You must have wondered how a few dozen Rebel ships could possibly rout an Imperial force that outgunned it by at least ten to one… The Rebels did indeed fight better, but not because of any special abilities or training. They fought better than the fleet because the Emperor was dead… you must have noticed it. The sudden loss of coordination between crew members and ships; the loss of efficiency and discipline. The loss, in short, of that elusive quality we call fighting spirit… You had no real fighting spirit of your own anymore—none of you in the Imperial fleet did. It was the Emperor's will that drove you; the Emperor's mind that provided you with strength and resolve and efficiency. You were as dependent on that presence as if you were all borg-implanted into a combat computer"
- ―Thrawn to Giliad Pellaeon, regarding Palpatine's battle meditation
Thrawn was speculating, then, that the Emperor's forces, his legions of troops and his fleets of ships, were all guided by Palpatine's own indomitable will. His ships numbered in the hundreds of thousands, his soldiers in the billions, trillions, perhaps quadrillions. One can only speculate if it was within the power of a Sith Lord, even one as powerful as Darth Sidious, to be this all-controlling, but Thrawn later demonstrated (9 ABY) that the technique worked, and was limited only by the insanity of the Dark Jedi he had found, Joruus C'baoth.
Thrawn also may have been aware that one of his colleagues, Grand Admiral Declann, a secret Force-sensitive who himself died at Endor, had been trained by Palpatine himself in the use of the dark side, and since Declann was said to have possessed the ability to telepathically meld the forces under his command into a more effective fighting force (subsequent research has revealed that after Palpatine died, Declann himself used this power to maintain coordination of the fleet), it stood to reason that he had learned it from the Emperor.
It was within Palpatine's power to use this facet of the dark side—a perversion of Jedi battle meditation, perhaps—to control his forces, even across great distances. And then, without warning, that control was cut off. The fleet was scattered, and the Rebels were able to lead a successful assault against the Death Star, which was finally destroyed in a risky attack on the station's reactor core. Without its leader and its ultimate weapon, the fragile foundation of the Empire crumbled, bringing all above it crashing down at a stroke. The Empire itself soon fell apart, plagued by warlordism and eventually shrinking to the small and insignificant Imperial Remnant.
- "Flesh does not easily support this great power."
But even death was not the end for Palpatine. Unlike his Sith predecessors, Palpatine had never intended to be replaced by an apprentice, expecting his Empire to rule the galaxy eternally, with only himself as its true leader. Unable to rediscover his Master's lost secret, Palpatine had to find a different way to cheat death. During the Clone Wars he tasked Jedi Arligan Zey to capture rogue Kaminoan Chief Scientist Ko Sai following her defection to the Separatists a year and a half into the war. Palpatine hoped Ko Sai would be able to engineer him a longer life span. However, he was denied the chance when Ko Sai showed up dead in 21 BBY.
At an unknown point in time prior to his death at the Battle of Endor Palpatine had found a different way to cheat death by preserving his spirit after the death of his body, by the method of spirit transference. He arranged for a series of clones of himself to be created for his spirit to possess, in the event that he would perish. His primary supply of clones was kept on Byss, guarded by loyal Dark Jedi and immense genetically-altered guards and maintained by a trusted private physician. Unfortunately, the clones were heavily ravaged by the dark side and not sustained by the Force. Each body he took would age and deteriorate more quickly than the last. But the Dark Lord wasn't concerned; he had an endless supply of clones which he could use to rule the Empire.
After the destruction of the second Death Star, Palpatine's spirit was forced to journey in the maddening, bodiless existence of the void, eventually taking possession of the body of Emperor's Hand Jeng Droga. Palpatine called out to Sate Pestage, who rescued the broken body from Kaal and returned it to Byss. Though Droga went mad in the process, he was able to journey to Byss, where Palpatine was able to take possession of a clone of himself. There, on Byss, he would remain for years and would rebuild his strength and Empire. Resurrected, Palpatine planned to replace the Galactic Empire with a "Dark Empire", a universe-spanning magocracy ruled through the dark side of the Force alone, without the need for regional governors or technological domination.
Following Palpatine's death, a year-long period of mourning was instituted throughout the Empire.
Palpatine's rule was so absolute that his apparent death at the Battle of Endor fragmented the Galactic Empire. Without an heir, opportunistic Moffs and other officers turned into warlords and set out to carve their own kingdoms wherever they could. This worked to the advantage of the New Republic, which succeeded in reclaiming much of the galaxy.
Palpatine's reaction to Thrawn's campaign
While Palpatine was still recovering in his Deep Core stronghold, his former advisors received word (8 ABY) of the arrival, from deep in the Unknown Regions, of the last surviving Grand Admiral. This was the Chiss strategic mastermind Grand Admiral Thrawn, who was armed with a plan he outlined to them that would defeat the New Republic. Heartened by the possibility of wresting back their power from the Rebels, they managed to set aside their differences and grant him overall command of their forces, with an eye toward making him their figurehead emperor once they had a throne back to give him. When Palpatine learned of this, he was genuinely devastated. He had liked Thrawn, as much as he was capable of liking anyone. He had entrusted much to Thrawn's genius, even as he had used that genius for his own ends.
There is no evidence that Palpatine ever took Thrawn into his confidence on his "post-mortem" plans. Not knowing about Palpatine's survival, Thrawn did know that the declared government of the Empire was in danger, and, for his own reasons as much as theirs—largely his old hope of securing the galaxy against the so-called Far Outsiders—he offered his help.
Palpatine's reaction may have to do with whatever role he was planning for Thrawn in his own upcoming offensive, Operation Shadow Hand. If anyone knew all there was to know about Thrawn's activities in the Unknown Regions, Palpatine knew. He had to have known what resources Thrawn commanded. Possibly he was only waiting for the right moment to reveal himself to Thrawn and offer him a place in his revived Empire, as he would soon do with many others, but never did. Instead, he let Thrawn make his bid to defeat the New Republic and, in secret, made every attempt to undermine that campaign. This terrible example of Palpatine's pettiness may have cost him everything. A combined offensive, consisting of his own forces launched from Byss, and Thrawn's launched from Nirauan, would have meant the quick and painful death of the New Republic.
- "You've grown very strong in the Force since we last met… But then, so have I!"
- ―Palpatine to Luke Skywalker
Thrawn's cunning tactics and unerring strategies brought the Imperial Remnant to the brink of victory in 10 ABY, and he would have had complete victory had it not been for betrayal by his Noghri bodyguard Rukh. Encouraged by Thrawn's successes, the remaining Inner Circle of Imperial warlords staged a devastating attack on the galactic capital Coruscant. Much of Imperial City was laid waste as a result, and the New Republic was forced to evacuate. Once on the surface, the Imperials splintered again, and skirmishes dragged on in the devastated cityscape.
It was then that the resurrected Emperor struck. Using his dark powers to create a powerful Force storm, he swept Jedi Master Luke Skywalker to Byss. There, he revealed himself to Luke, and revealed the power of the dark side. Faced with an immortal foe, Skywalker did the unthinkable—in order to defeat the dark side from within, he knelt before Palpatine, and submitted himself as the Emperor's new Sith apprentice.
Unfortunately for the Empire, Skywalker stubbornly clung to his old loyalties. Immediately after being appointed Supreme Commander of the Imperial forces, Skywalker accessed the top-secret codes that remotely controlled the World Devastators, and transmitted improper signals. It was this abuse of his new authority that enabled Skywalker to scuttle the Devastator Silencer-7, for instance, and in other ways, both large and small, sabotage Palpatine's work.
Skywalker's treachery obviously could not go unnoticed for long. From the beginning, Palpatine and his most trusted officers were aware of it. Behind the scenes they began expressing their concerns to him about Skywalker's actions. Palpatine reassured them, at the same time reminding them that military considerations were not the only considerations:
- "I expected to take some damage from him. Any worthy opponent is going to inflict injury. If he doesn't, he's not worth troubling with. Let a few Devastators be destroyed. Let Skywalker think he's getting the best of me. As long as he believes he's succeeding, I have him in my grasp. And as long as I hold him, the more vulnerable he becomes to the unfathomable power of the dark side. Think what he'll do when he is fully mine, when he is working for the Empire, working to help us win!"
- ―Palpatine regarding Luke Skywalker
Quietly, Palpatine countered Skywalker's moves, maximizing his gains and cutting his losses. Ultimately, victory or defeat in a single battle, or even an entire campaign, was less important than acquiring an apprentice as powerful as Skywalker promised to be. It was not without precedent; during the Clone Wars he had planned entire campaigns in such a way as to ensnare Vader.
- "One day soon Skywalker will wake up and find that he can no longer go back to his friends. He will look in a mirror and he will see his true face, the face of power… the face of the dark side."
When Leia Organa Solo arrived on Byss attempting to rescue Luke, she only succeeded in getting herself captured, along with her husband, Han Solo. Palpatine quickly attempted to turn her to the dark side, tempting her with a Jedi holocron he had in his possession, and stirring her anger by revealing that he planned to transfer his mind into the body of her unborn child once he was born. Unfortunately, his attempt backfired and she flipped over the bed he was lying on and fled. Initially Palpatine was pleased, but his glee quickly turned to rage when he discovered she had stolen a Jedi Holocron he kept. Luke Skywalker aided her and Han's escape before attempting to rebel against Palpatine.
- "Does your dark side knowledge tell you how many other so-called 'Jedi Masters' failed to vanquish me? Does your knowledge tell you that I have already beaten you?"
In the end, Skywalker was too enmeshed in the dark side to successfully rebel against his new master, despite marching into the cloning lab and smashing all of Palpatine's cloning tanks. Before he could finish the job, Palpatine transferred his spirit into one of the last clones. Luke then attempted to subdue Palpatine, citing that his time as the Sith Lord's apprentice had given him knowledge of Palpatine's weaknesses. Palpatine scoffed at this and seized one of the lightsabers he kept in the lab. Palpatine then engaged Luke in a spectacular lightsaber duel. However, even Luke's skills with Djem So weren't enough, and he fell before Palpatine's brutally intense swordplay. It was only from his sister, Leia Organa Solo, that he gained the strength that he needed.
Appearing in his Eclipse-class Star Dreadnought Eclipse above Pinnacle Base, Palpatine demanded the return of his stolen holocron and the presence of Leia, who complied, in exchange for a possible truce with the New Republic. When Leia arrived aboard Eclipse, she implored Luke for help. Skywalker managed to cast off the veil of the dark side that cloaked his mind and turned on Palpatine. Enraged at this latest development, Palpatine brandished a blue-bladed lightsaber and struck at Luke. Despite Palpatine's viciousness, Luke managed to defeat the Sith Lord in a brief but intense lightsaber duel, slicing off his hand.
Palpatine was hardly finished, summoning a Force storm against the New Republic fleet. However, the siblings banded together and were able to use the light side of the Force to temporarily sever Palpatine's connection to the Force, causing him to lose control of the Force storm he had summoned. The wayward storm then destroyed Eclipse, killing Palpatine again whilst the pair fled, before dissipating, ending the Battle of Pinnacle Base.
The last clone
After the Battle of Balmorra, two Dark Side Adepts Zasm Katth and Baddon Fass began to slaughter the secret auxiliary clones Skywalker didn't kill. Executor Sedriss killed them for their defiance, as the last clone of Palpatine emerged, planning to resume conquest of the galaxy.
Having returned in yet another clone, Palpatine continued his scourge against the New Republic. Armed with the deadly superweapons, the Galaxy Gun, and his second Eclipse-class Star Dreadnought, Eclipse II, Palpatine forced many New Republic worlds to submit to Imperial rule. But, despite his growing Empire, Palpatine was again deteriorating and becoming frail and weak.
Even worse, the Emperor began to succumb to genetic tampering done to his clones by the treacherous Imperial Sovereign Protector Carnor Jax. He tried to clone other bodies so that he could resurrect himself, but Jax had succeeded in tainting even the genetic source material. With his body wasting away rapidly, he went to the Sith world Korriban to consult the ancient spirits of his forebears. They advised that he enter Leia's newborn son, Anakin Solo.
Palpatine brought Eclipse II to Onderon, where the Solos had relocated their children. While the New Republic engaged the Imperials, a team of Jedi, led by Luke, sought out the Emperor. They did not find him aboard his ship since he had slipped down to Onderon to find Leia. During the battle, Lando Calrissian and R2-D2 had infiltrated the flagship. R2-D2 then sabotaged the vehicle's automated hyperdrive engines and set the coordinates to match the location of the Galaxy Gun, which was over Byss. The flagship fled into hyperspace, despite the efforts of the crew to regain control of the vessel. There above Byss, both superweapons collided with each other. The Galaxy Gun's final missile was pulled into the planet's gravity and exploded, destroying the reborn Emperor's throne world.
Palpatine's final death
Meanwhile, the Emperor faced Leia and demanded that her newest child be his to possess. She fought back, but was no match for the Emperor. Before he could complete his plot, Luke Skywalker and two other Jedi, Rayf Ysanna and Empatojayos Brand, arrived. Palpatine killed Ysanna instantly and fatally wounded Brand, but was shot in the back by an enraged Han Solo during the conflict.
His last body destroyed, the Emperor's cackling spirit flew towards young Anakin Solo, but was intercepted by the dying Brand, who threw himself in the way. The Jedi Knight bound the Emperor's soul to his own departing life force, taking it with him as he became one with the Force. Railing and cursing against the Skywalker family, Emperor Palpatine's spirit was dragged into the depths of the Force, where every deceased Jedi would ensure his dark essence would never again return to wreak havoc upon the galaxy. There he would experience disembodiment in darkness, perpetual madness as if to always live with an open wound; terror without respite.
Darth Sidious, considered by many to be the greatest Dark Lord of the Sith of all time, was finally dead.
Even the final death was not the end for Palpatine. At the time of his seemingly last death, most of the galaxy was in ruins and trillions of people were dead because of his policies by that time. But his New Order continued to survive, and some people craved for yet another one of his returns.
Some nineteen years after the Battle of Endor, and more than a decade after the last of the clone bodies of Emperor Palpatine were destroyed, it seemed that he had arisen in another and become head of a coalition seeking to reestablish the Empire. The Great Leader of the Second Imperium was supposedly the Emperor reborn yet again. The Emperor's image was transmitted regularly to the Shadow Academy. Although the academy leader, Brakiss, found it difficult to imagine how the Emperor had survived, he knew that with the Force, many things were possible.
The Great Leader was transported to the Shadow Academy sealed within a room-sized containment unit. Brakiss eventually discovered that the Great Leader was not Palpatine after all, but a series of recordings and props used by four Emperor's Royal Guards to trick the galaxy into thinking that the Emperor had returned to rule the Second Imperium.
Sometime before his final death Palpatine compiled his knowledge into the Telos Holocron, acting as one of the Holocron's gatekeepers and offering his knowledge to future aspiring Sith. He detailed the importance of an apprentice, his rise to power, the cloning techniques he used to cheat death, and more about the Sith in general. It was unknown to Tionne Solusar how Palpatine came upon the Telos Holocron or when he did. The Holocron was eventually obtained by the Jedi in 40 ABY, preventing its dark knowledge from corrupting curious Jedi.
Powers and abilities
- "The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural."
Considered by many to have been the greatest Dark Lord of the Sith in the history of the Sith Order—something he himself also firmly believed—he was the only Sith Lord in a thousand years to achieve the ultimate goal of the Sith: to eradicate the Jedi Order and bring the galaxy under the rule of the Sith.
But his greatest strength, what made him the appropriate Sith to exact their order's revenge, was the way he could manipulate beings all across the galaxy—good or evil. Indeed, as Jedi Grand Master Yoda once described it, the shroud of the dark side clouded everything.
He exacted the revenge of the Sith not only through political machinations and his mastery of the Force, but also with the help of several powerful apprentices—including Anakin Skywalker, whom he manipulated into falling to the dark side and becoming the powerful Sith Lord, Darth Vader.
Sidious possessed a superior intellect, had a cunning understanding of the Human mind, and was skilled in the use of the Force in foreseeing the future, so he could manipulate events as though he were a dejarik grandmaster moving pieces on a board. He had a broad expertise in areas such as psychology, bureaucracy, and philosophy, and was known for enjoying the power he wielded with simple mind games.
Despite his frail appearance, Darth Sidious was in truth an enormously talented fighter, with great expertise in lightsaber combat. Thanks to his tremendous skill, he killed Agen Kolar and Saesee Tiin each with a single blow, and Kit Fisto moments later. He also managed to fight Yoda to a draw in a lightsaber duel later on. Many years later, Palpatine, in one of his clone bodies, engaged and defeated Luke in a one-on-one lightsaber duel in his clone labs on Byss. He was ambidextrous and could change his fighting style at a whim—keeping his opponents unsure as to his next move. A master of every weapon and every style, Sidious drew his opponents in, fighting less than his true capability, and then striking the fatal blow when his opponent thought they had the better of him.
Sidious claims that he had grown stronger after returning from the dead. Considering that he may have spent time near becoming one with the Force, it's likely he wasn't exaggerating. His younger, fit, clone bodies would also contribute to his power.
In fact, the only people known to have defeated him in a lightsaber duel were Mace Windu on Coruscant Sith-turned-Jedi Galen Marek and Luke Skywalker onboard Eclipse, but Skywalker had to have his power augmented by his sister and unborn nephew through the Force, and there is speculation that Palpatine may have intentionally lost his duel with Windu.
- "I've played along with your Jedi dueling games long enough! Now you will experience my full potency... I live as energy... I am the Dark Side!"
In addition to his fighting skills, Sidious was a master practitioner of Force lightning, and the only known practitioner of the Force Storm. It should be noted that even though Sidious claimed to be able to conjure a storm with a mere thought, by his own admission he was not able to fully control it. His skills in telekinesis were such that he was able to simultaneously levitate several Senate pods, including the one he was standing on, with incredible dexterity and precision, considering their size and weight. As he could lift himself in the air with the Force, it can be assumed that Darth Sidious also was a master of Force Flight.
In the end, only four beings have ever been known to duel the Emperor on equal terms: Jedi Master Mace Windu, Jedi Grandmaster Yoda, Grandmaster Luke Skywalker, and Sith-turned-Jedi Galen Marek.
Personality and traits
- "The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am."
- ―Darth Vader
Sidious was nothing if not a man driven by ambition. He at first had gained a reputation for being a good and modest man from Naboo, an extremely humble and peaceful backwater world. He was a prolific author. As both Senator of Naboo and Chancellor of the Republic, he promised to bring justice to the government, which had been mired in corruption and chaos. In his roles as Senator and Chancellor of the Galactic Republic, he appeared as an unassuming, tea-drinking old man, almost grandfatherly, with elegant robes. He was a known patron of the arts, attending the occasional opera and surrounding himself with unique statuary. Many of these served as convenient hiding places to stash Sidious's various Sith artifacts and lightsabers. With his cheery demeanor and trademark smile, he won the hearts of billions during the Clone Wars, setting up the perfect facade to gain acceptance for his new Empire. After Mace Windu's attack on him, he created a new persona, that of a pitiable victim of a random act of violence. He had been left after the attack with the appearance of a gnarled, ancient man with pale skin, searing, sickly yellow eyes. He wore a heavy dark cloak, and carried a glossy black cane, leaning heavily on it, creating an illusion of weakness. This was in fact his face all along: a body ravaged by the dark side.
His acts as a loving politician and later a helpless victim served only to bolster his true persona, that of Sidious. He was manipulative and seductive, easily bending others to his will in his quest for Sith supremacy and ultimate power. A narcissist, Sidious identified his own dark essence with the very blackness of space. Although possessed of an insatiable hunger for power, he honestly believed a Sith government would be best for the galaxy, and in time came to regard himself as something of a savior. He also viewed all sentient beings bereft of the Force as "inferiors", likening them to children floundering about aimlessly, ignorant of their own shortcomings and incapable of fulfilling their aspirations. As articulated in The Weakness of Inferiors, Sidious considered the "wise and powerful"—specifically Force-sensitives—as responsible for providing guidance for such lesser entities in order to allow for a thriving civilization. Seeing no one wiser nor more powerful, Palpatine deemed only himself worthy of realizing this philosophy, and thus endeavored to control the galaxy forever.
Styles of Address
- Senator Palpatine of the Sovereign System of Naboo.
- His Excellency Supreme Chancellor Palpatine of the Galactic Republic.
- His Imperial Majesty Emperor Palpatine of the Galactic Empire.
- Darth Sidious, Dark Lord of the Sith or Lord Sidious.
Romances and Children
It is unknown what, if any, romantic or physical relationships Palpatine had during his lifetime, and to what extent. Palpatine himself seemed never to give such matters any attention. However, a number of beings claimed to have been, at the very least, physically involved with Palpatine, including his Director of Intelligence Ysanne Isard. Isard once told Corran Horn that she had loved the Emperor, but mostly for his power. In fact, most who claimed intimacy with the Emperor did so out of a desire to position themselves as power-brokers.
Even more chillingly, some of them, such as the Emperor's Hand Roganda Ismaren, sought to wield power in the name of the children they expected to assume the throne on Palpatine's death. In Ismaren's case, her son Irek Ismaren, sired by a fellow Emperor's Hand, Sarcev Quest, was put forth as the fruit of one of Palpatine's dalliances in a plot to gain the vacant throne. The plot failed, but there is a fair chance that it was but one of many such instances. Perhaps they were the inevitable result of basing the government on a dynastic structure, where the summit was a throne around which the entire galaxy revolved.
During the height of the New Order, it was assumed that Palpatine had sired a son, named Triclops, by an alien woman who had three eyes. In fact, the truth of Triclops's parentage is more convoluted. Early in his first term of office as Chancellor, Palpatine commissioned two Shi'ido scientists, Mammon Hoole and Borborygmus Gog, to undertake experiments in the spontaneous generation of life, essentially continuing the studies begun under Darth Plagueis. Palpatine's aide, Sly Moore, supplied Gog and Hoole with a "volunteer" test subject, a certain Niobi, a gentle and meek female from Bordal. According to rumor, their first experiment went terribly wrong, resulting in the birth of a three-eyed mutant. Hoole and Gog blamed Niobi for the failure, and the Chancellor's confidant Sarcev Quest spirited Niobi and Triclops away.
As Triclops grew, he was trained by the Prophets of the Dark Side to eventually become an Emperor's Eye, a far-seeing extension of Palpatine's own will, but Triclops began spouting "insane and dangerous" views about peace and disarmament, views that were anathema to the Emperor. Palpatine could not permit Triclops to remain free, but he could not kill him either; his subconscious visions of war machines were most inspiring to his weapons manufacturers. As a third option, he banished Triclops to the spice mines of Kessel, to live as a common slave.
Behind the scenes
From the very beginning of the writing process on Star Wars, George Lucas had in mind a character that would eventually develop into the Emperor as he is currently known. One of the earliest documents—perhaps the earliest—regarding the project is a paper dating to early 1973, a roster of names he compiled to potentially use in the story, many of which were not used. At the very top of this list is the name "Emperor Ford Xerxes XII" (Xerxes was a historical Persian king who was assassinated by his own son), soon after changed to "Alexander Xerxes XII," then "Emperor of Decarte."
Political, historical, and mythological allegory
- "You sort of see these recurring themes where a democracy turns itself into a dictatorship, and it always seems to happen kind of in the same way, with the same kinds of issues, and threats from the outside, needing more control."
- ―George Lucas
Like many personalities in the Star Wars universe, parallels can be drawn between Palpatine's character and certain historical figures. Dictators such as Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Ferdinand Marcos and Alberto Fujimori used methods similar to the Emperor's while turning their respective republics into personal dictatorships. Some commentators see similarities between Palpatine and Abraham Lincoln, who also centralized political power in response to a secessionist Confederacy. But, unlike Palpatine, Lincoln laid his powers down upon the southern Confederacy's defeat. Palpatine's method of implicating Senators in a false conspiracy during his Declaration of a New Order is similar to that of Joseph McCarthy during the Second Red Scare in 1950s America.
During the 2005 release of Revenge of the Sith, many viewers compared Palpatine to U.S. President George W. Bush (a parallel picked up by the Expanded Universe; such Bush parallels as the "Triad of Evil" and the "Homeworld Security Command" have been added to Star Wars continuity). George Lucas has denied writing Palpatine specifically as an allegory for Bush, pointing out to the Associated Press that he wrote the original drafts of the Star Wars films during the mid-1970s, inspired by then-US President Richard Nixon and the constitutional crisis he ignited that caused the fall of his administration.
Thus, though the character's creator was inspired by certain real life figures, it is probable that it is Palpatine's nature as an archetypal dictator rather than deliberate, specific references which make him seem similar to any politician who a viewer sees as an actual or potential tyrant.
In many ways, Palpatine is an archetypal villain, whose only motivation seems to be pursuing and maintaining power, although Palpatine viewed himself as a savior and truly believed that creating a totalitarian state would bring about peace, as revealed in Revenge of the Sith: The Visual Dictionary and Lucas's commentary on the Revenge of the Sith DVD. Nonetheless, he relies on deception and manipulation to control and corrupt individuals throughout the films and Expanded Universe, and as a result is a classically diabolical character. As the Emperor, he appears to be a frail, weak old man, but is actually quite supernaturally powerful. Palpatine may be viewed as the quintessential wolf in sheep's clothing.
Emperor Palpatine also shares many similarities with the concept of a biblical Antichrist, who would be a person that would come during a time of turmoil; be a solitary, charismatic person who leads and unifies during a time of crisis, promising peace and prosperity; and be heralded as a savior. Of course, as his rule would grow longer, he would become less amiable and more sinister as his rule solidified and eventually lead to a time of tribulation and violence. The Antichrist would eventually be defeated by a messiah or Christ-like figure just as Palpatine was eventually defeated by Anakin Skywalker, the Chosen One.
Palpatine was originally conceived as a much different type of person. He was neither a user of the Force nor a great political strategist; instead, he was a weak-willed dullard with delusions of grandeur who had been elevated, first to President of the Senate and then Emperor, by his plotting ministers (such as Tarkin) who controlled the Republic/Empire by controlling Palpatine, a figurehead controlled by the Imperial bureaucracy.
Although this version of Palpatine appeared (through descriptions and recollections) in the Episode IV novelization, it is obviously superseded by every other appearance since which revealed Palpatine to be the mastermind of the events of the Star Wars saga.
Aside from this, although after Episode V it was clear Palpatine was a Force-user, it was not made explicitly clear that he was a Sith until the prequel trilogy; before that, several Expanded Universe sources had even implied that Palpatine was not a Sith.
The younger Palpatine of The Phantom Menace, the middle-aged Palpatine of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith and the elderly Emperor Palpatine of the original trilogy are all played by actor Ian McDiarmid, although the holographic image of the Emperor that briefly appeared in the original version of The Empire Strikes Back was played by an unnamed actress (a woman with the composite image of a chimpanzee for the eyes) and was voiced by Clive Revill.
For the 2004 DVD release of the original trilogy, the scene in The Empire Strikes Back was re-shot with Ian McDiarmid replacing Revill as the Emperor, with new lines recorded for both McDiarmid and James Earl Jones (the voice of Darth Vader). The re-shoot was shot as part of the Episode III production.
His lightsaber sequences during Revenge of the Sith, especially his fight with Mace Windu, were done by Kyle Rowling (who was also the stunt double for Christopher Lee) and Bob Bowles. Much like Lee, his face would be replaced in post production by McDiarmid's. Sebastian Dickins performed Palpatine's acrobatics, but when the Emperor broke the laws of physics, a digital stunt double was used for his most inhuman and spectacular feats.
In the Clone Wars cartoon series, Nick Jameson voiced Palpatine. Jameson has also voiced Palpatine in different video games, including Star Wars: TIE Fighter, Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, and Star Wars: Battlefront II, and in the Dark Empire audio adaptation by Time Warner Audio Publishing.
For The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi National Public Radio dramatizations, Palpatine was voiced by Paul Hecht.
- "Everything he does is an act of pure hypocrisy, and that's interesting to play. I suppose it's rather like playing Iago. All the characters in the play—including Othello until the end—think that 'Honest Iago' is a decent guy doing his job, and he's quite liked. But at the same time there's a tremendous evil subconscious in operation. There's a moment in one scene of the new film where tears almost appear in his eye. These are crocodile tears, but for all those in the movie, and perhaps watching the movie itself, they'll see he is apparently moved—and of course, he is. He can just do it. He can, as it were, turn it on. And I suppose for him, it's also a bit of a turn-on; the pure exercise of power is what he's all about. That's the only thing he's interested in and the only thing that can satisfy him, which makes him completely fascinating to play, because it is an evil soul. He is more evil than the devil. At least Satan fell; he has a history, and it's one of revenge."
In a recent interview, McDiarmid commented on this complex character:
- "He has a black, irredeemable heart. There's nothing that can be said about him that's good. When we first saw Vader in the original trilogy, we thought he was the heart of darkness, and nobody could be darker. But now we understand what happened to him. And one of the exciting things about seeing this movie is that you can follow Vader through Anakin's journey every step of the way even if you don't agree with the choices he's making. In part his decisions stem from his traumatic childhood, and his impatient lust for power. And it's that which my character takes and then uses against him."
- ―Ian McDiarmid
Debates and discrepancies
- "The attempt on my life has left me scarred and deformed. But, I assure you, my resolve has never been stronger!"
During his confrontation with Mace Windu, Palpatine's appearance changed as he was hit with his own Force lightning, which was reflected by Mace Windu's Vaapad, which acts like a channel for dark energy, back at him. Palpatine went from being a handsome middle-aged man to having a sagging face with burning yellow eyes, scarred grayed skin, rotten teeth, and long black fingernails. What caused this radical change of appearance has been the subject of much debate.
The scar theory
One possibility was that his own lightning simply scarred and melted his face, in the same way that electricity in the real world damages anything it hits. Though most of the circumstances behind Palpatine's duel with Windu and the other Jedi Masters were not publicly revealed, he did garner sympathy in the Senate by claiming that he had been disfigured when the Jedi attacked him, a claim that was truthful, from a certain point of view. Until the release of Dark Nest III: The Swarm War, in which it is revealed that pushing one's limits in the Force can cause physical deformities as it did to Luke Skywalker in a non-extreme, non-permanent way, no other Human hit by Force lightning was physically deformed in the Star Wars movies or in the Expanded Universe.
The disguise theory
Another theory is that Sidious's deformed appearance was his true face, which had been gradually deformed due to the immense dark energies he wielded (a process that has happened to other devotees of the dark side, though to a lesser extent), and that prior to his fight with Windu he had been using some kind of Sith or other technique (like Force Concealment) in order to cloak his true form and appear normal to others. He may also have had cosmetic surgery which "corrected" his real face, like Seti Ashgad did, who looked many years younger than he actually was. According to this theory, he dropped the disguise either because he wanted to look injured and weak to Anakin (and in turn to the Senate, earning the sympathy of many), or because he lost concentration while fighting Windu. It is also possible that it would take too much energy to continue to maintain it, or just because the lightning literally melted the mask away, and he kept this look in order to frame the Jedi for deforming him. The short story Sithisis supports this theory, depicting Sidious literally masking his face with a Sith ritual, though it could be argued that his true face in the comic does not appear as deformed as it does after his fight with Windu. Sithisis could possibly explain Palpatine's younger and healthier appearance in Revenge of the Sith when compared to Attack of the Clones. Further, in The Unifying Force, Luke Skywalker muses that Palpatine had been "prematurely wizened by years of calling on dark power."
It is most likely, though, that both theories are partially true. It makes sense that some of Palpatine's deformities (presumably those that seem characteristic of concentrated burn wounds, such as melted skin and facial indentations) were caused by the lightning itself, while other supposed deformities (presumably those that couldn't possibly be caused by lightning and are known to have been the side effects of intense Force—and particularly dark side—use, such as pale and wrinkled skin, raw eye sockets, yellow eyes, bad teeth and elongated, blackened fingernails) were aspects of Palpatine's true appearance being revealed. Moreover, Sidious's hands (and presumably his entire body) remained unchanged after the disfiguration of his face. The next time he was seen though, he had pale, swollen hands with long, black fingernails. Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary appears to support the Force mask theory and provides another canonical source, making it very likely that the theory is true.
The "mask" power
There has been an attempt to reconcile these theories and provide a definitive and cohesive answer. On the website for the official Star Wars Roleplaying Game, published by Wizards of the Coast, "Jedi Counseling" representative Gary M. Sarli was asked what exactly happened to Palpatine's face, given a choice between the scarring theory and the disguise theory. In answering this, Sarli first discussed the flaws in both these theories, using logic that complemented the questions many fans have had about them:
- "There are problems with both these ideas: The idea that he was physically damaged by the Force lightning doesn't match Return of the Jedi. Luke was being hit by Force lightning for some time, and he wasn't scarred like that. On the other hand, if Palpatine was using an Illusion-assisted Disguised check… he couldn't possibly keep it up continually. Moreover, Illusion is a mind-influencing Force power. It doesn't work on droids or recordings (in other words, someone might notice that he doesn't look the same in recorded speeches), nor would it work when projecting a holographic image across the galaxy. Finally, one would wonder why he maintained the illusion in his earlier holographic appearances as Darth Sidious. It would seem more prudent to "turn it off" to preserve the Palpatine identity."
- ―Gary M. Sarli
Rather than side with one or the other theory, Sarli gave this answer:
- "Palpatine, who has delved extensively into Sith lore, was using an almost-forgotten technique to hide his true self."
- ―Gary M. Sarli
The technique Sarli identified was aptly titled "mask," which used Sith alchemical techniques to alter the user's features, either to make them appear more horrific or to conceal them with a fairer appearance. This was considered different from a mundane disguise (which was temporary) or cosmetic surgery (which needed much more time to use). Instead, this alchemical mask altered the subject at the molecular level, rendering the subject's genuine appearance undetectable by sensors or even by a medical examination. The mask could be dispelled by another dark side power—in Palpatine's case, Force lightning—and should the subject fail to repel the dispelling power, the mask would be dropped and the subject's true face would appear. The sudden transformation would physically distort the subject with dark side energies, making any future attempt to use the "mask" ability, even to create a mundane disguise, far less successful.
Making use of Sarli's theory, the likely hypothesis is this: Palpatine had for some time been using the near-forgotten "mask" ability to alter his true features to appear as the benevolent middle-aged man he claimed to be. The power kept his true face hidden from both organic and mechanical observers, even under the closest scrutiny, but because it worked at the molecular level, he could not simply "turn it off" at will, requiring the use of the black cloak and hood to hide his face from his co-conspirators, such as the Neimoidians in The Phantom Menace or Grievous in Revenge of the Sith. When confronted and disarmed by Windu, Palpatine resorted to the use of Force lightning, but Windu used his lightsaber to deflect much of the lightning back at Palpatine's face. The power of the lightning was the triggering event that dispelled his "mask," and though even then he may have had the ability to save the "mask," Anakin Skywalker was present to witness the entire exchange, and according to Sarli, Palpatine may have voluntarily failed the save and dropped the mask when it no longer served his purposes—he used the damage both to sway Skywalker into intervening on his side, and to convince the Senate and the Galaxy at large that the Jedi had attempted to murder him. The consequence of this is that Darth Sidious's true face, whatever it was before this point, was distorted into the ruined countenance that would be seen for the remaining Star Wars films.
The name of Palpatine
There is a great deal of speculation among fans concerning Palpatine's name. For a character with as great a significance to the Star Wars universe as Palpatine, it is remarkable that no one has yet revealed his full name. There is even some discussion as to whether or not he has a full name. When Steve Sansweet, director of Lucasfilm's content management and a member of the corporation's inner circle, was asked about this issue on the official website (2003), he responded with:
- "Palpatine's first name, if he even has one, has yet to be revealed. That's not so unusual even in our own galaxy. For example, in one of the world's most populous countries, Indonesia, many people go by one name. And even some last names are just that, not family names. In the Star Wars universe, we doubt that there are many in the know for whom just plain "Palpatine" isn't enough.…"
- ―Steve Sansweet
Sansweet is correct; there are indeed cultures, in our own real-life universe and in the Star Wars universe, where individuals identify themselves by only one name, which may or may not be a family name that can be passed down from parent to child. However, it is unlikely that among the Naboo of Theed and its surrounding environs, where individuals have been shown to use both a personal or first name and a family surname, there should be such a noteworthy exception. Padmé Naberrie, his peer, has been firmly established to have been born of parents named Naberrie, and that she had siblings who were also so named, with different first names. Furthermore, other Naboo citizens, such as Sio Bibble and other members of the government, had both first and last names. It is possible, but hardly likely, that Palpatine has only one name.
Of course, there are Naboo citizens with single names, but these are strictly the political names bestowed on the elected monarchs, and given in addition to their normal names: Padmé Naberrie became Amidala upon her election, and certainly Veruna, Jamillia, Apailana and Kylantha, the other known monarchs of this period, had to possess their own birth names which have not been revealed. It may be that new political names are bestowed to Senators and other members of the Naboo political system, in addition to monarchs, since Padmé Naberrie kept her political name when she stepped down from the throne to become the Senator Padmé Amidala. But is that strictly because she had been a monarch, or is that the norm? Barring any grand revelations about his backstory, it is impossible to accept the theory that Palpatine ever occupied the royal position. Rather, he chose to take a more fearful title.
Outside of local Naboo conventions, there are indications that the wider galactic society had its own perceptions of what the style "Emperor Palpatine" represented. Notably, two other pretenders to the Imperial throne—Demetrius Zaarin and Xandel Carivus—styled themselves as "Emperor Zaarin" and "Emperor Carivus," respectively, which suggests that they at least regarded the name "Palpatine" as a surname, to be used as a dynastic name, rather than a given or personal name. When the Empire enjoyed a renaissance in the wake of the Yuuzhan Vong War, those who became its sovereigns, culminating with Roan Fel, each styled themselves as "Emperor Fel," and their ruling family as the "Fel Dynasty," another indication that they regarded the name of the Emperor, whoever that Emperor might be, as a surname and dynastic name. By this reckoning, then had Palpatine ever permitted a legitimate son to ascend the throne, that son too might have been styled "Emperor Palpatine" and his family would have been referred to as the "Palpatine Dynasty."
Other examples of the name
The name Palpatine appears to be quite rare in the Star Wars universe, but there does exist at least one other example of the name, though an obscure one, in Star Wars canon. This same example also casts some doubt on the absolute certainty that the name Palpatine, in the case of the Emperor, is intended to be a last name. This is the example of Lieutenant Colonel Palpatine Essex Yerac, a Rebel intelligence agent and presumably, as of 2 ABY, a member of the 342-being Task Force on Alliance Security. For understandable reasons, Yerac had no inclination to use his first name openly, and in most of his affairs signed his name "P. Essex Yerac."
Despite possessing the name of the Emperor, Yerac appears to have fought tenaciously to oppose his apparent namesake's New Order; there is one recorded incident of Yerac participating in a crucial engagement on Alsakan, against both Imperial forces and a faction of the Assassin's Guild supported by the Empire, in which Yerac served with distinction against insurmountable odds (there is every possibility that the burden of carrying this first name may have even encouraged him to set a greater example than he would have done otherwise).
The reason Yerac was given the name "Palpatine" is completely unknown; the scant facts can be interpreted in a number of different ways. It may have been a simple coincidence, but this would imply that Yerac was born and named before Palpatine ever achieved prominence. If he was named after Palpatine became a public figure, then it can be speculated that he was named by a parent or parents who wished to honor the political celebrity. Whatever the reason, the question of whether or not the name Palpatine is always used as a first name, or was so used strictly in Yerac's case, remains unanswerable, and thus the issue of Emperor Palpatine's full name remains open.
In the absence of an official first name for so prominent a character, fans of the saga have used their imaginations, fueled by careful study (and sometimes not-so-careful) of Star Wars lore, to fill the breach. For instance, Lucas's rough draft for The Star Wars, dated May 1974, named the ruler of the Galactic Empire as "Cos Dashit," and so many Star Wars fan fiction writers have quite incorrectly adopted the name "Cos Palpatine" in their stories and web pages—so much so, in fact, that it has become fanon. The name "Dantius Palpatine" has also been adopted, though its origins are more ambiguous, seeming to come from SuperShadow, a website of fraudulent Star Wars material. Another first name, Ethril, was apparently used in early drafts of Episode I: The Visual Dictionary, but was vetoed by George Lucas. Other names postulated by fans include "Albert" and "Augustus" (based on the presumption that the "Augie" in Augie's Great Municipal Band from the Episode I soundtrack refers to Palpatine—though it was established in 2007 that it referred to a Gungan named Augara Jowil). A long-running joke among fans claims that Palpatine's first name is "Frank." The "evidence" is a line spoken by Palpatine in The Phantom Menace: "I must be frank, Your Majesty…"
The real-world origin of the name "Palpatine," meaning the reason George Lucas should have chosen this name for the character, is not known. Certainly, the fictitious name conjures up associations with other real-world words that speak volumes of his personality. One resemblance is to the English word "palp", meaning a tactile "probe" of sorts used by insects and spiders to manipulate objects, as well as the fleshy part of the fingertip--certainly fitting for a politician who had stuck his fingers into every pie, so to speak. While the name resembles the word "palpate", meaning "pulsate," it may also be inspired by the word "palatine," meaning "relating to a palace," which is fitting for a supreme dictator. Because of this association, some have speculated that Palpatine was named for the Palatine Hill, where Romulus and Remus were found and raised by a she-wolf according to Roman mythology and where the palace of the Roman Emperors was located. Another theory suggests that it refers to Senator Charles Palantine, a character in Taxi Driver portrayed by Leonard Harris.
Palpatine's Sith name, Darth Sidious, is believed to be derived from "insidious," a word with multiple meanings, such as "treacherous," "cunning," and "seductive"—all of which accurately describe the Dark Lord.
Dark Empire possible discrepancy explanation
In the Dark Empire series, Palpatine tells Luke that the Battle of Endor was not his first death, and that he had started transferring his spirit into clone bodies years prior to that, when his original body had degenerated as a result of heavy use of the dark side. However, Lucasfilm official Leland Chee has recently stated that Palpatine was lying to Luke about having died previously, and that Palpatine's demise on the second Death Star was definitely the first time he died, although not the last.
Chee also stated that, while Palpatine's clone bodies do degenerate as a result of the strong presence of dark side energy within them, his original body did not degenerate in the same way, and he only had to start switching bodies periodically as a result of having to use clone bodies following the destruction of his original body at Endor.
- Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds
- Star Wars Galaxies
- Star Wars: Battlefront II
- Star Wars: Bounty Hunter
- Star Wars: Empire at War
- Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption
- Star Wars: Rebellion
- Star Wars: TIE Fighter
- Shadows of the Empire
- Star Wars: Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike
- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
- LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game
- LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy
- LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga
- Hate Leads to Lollipops
- Force Fiction
- Failing Up With Jar Jar Binks
- Tag & Bink: Revenge of the Clone Menace
- Old Wounds (Mentioned only)
- A Death Star Is Born
- Tag & Bink Are Dead (Mentioned only)
- Prey Template:Am (Mentioned only)
- Trooper Template:Am (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars Infinities: A New Hope
- The Emperor's Court
- Star Wars Infinities: Return of the Jedi
- The Return of Tag & Bink: Special Edition
- Do or Do Not (Mentioned only)
- The Revenge of Tag & Bink (Mentioned only)
- Tall Tales Template:Am (Mentioned only)
- Collapsing New Empires Template:Am (Mentioned only)
- The Other Template:Am (Mentioned only)
- The Secret Tales of Luke's Hand
- Star Wars: Visions of the Blade (Mentioned only)
Notes and references
- ↑ Star Wars: Blogs | Keeper of the Holocron's Blog | Major Character Birth Years, last accessed April 7, 2007
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 The New Essential Guide to Characters
- ↑ The New Essential Chronology
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Star Wars Insider 88
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Star Wars: Complete Locations
- ↑ Rebel Alliance Sourcebook
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Dark Empire Sourcebook
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 Star Wars Chronicles: The Prequels
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 Star Wars Episode I Journal: Darth Maul
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 Labyrinth of Evil
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 14.7 14.8 14.9 Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 Outbound Flight
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 16.2 Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith novelization
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 18.6 The New Essential Chronology
- ↑ Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
- ↑ Death Star
- ↑ 21.0 21.1 The New Essential Guide to Alien Species
- ↑ Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter
- ↑ 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 23.4 23.5 23.6 Evil Never Dies: The Sith Dynasties
- ↑ 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 Star Wars Republic 64: Bloodlines
- ↑ 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 25.4 25.5 25.6 Cloak of Deception
- ↑ 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 26.4 Imperial Sourcebook
- ↑ Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook
- ↑ Star Wars RPG: Revised Core Rulebook
- ↑ 29.0 29.1
- ↑ 31.0 31.1 The Essential Chronology
- ↑ 32.0 32.1 32.2 Secrets of Naboo
- ↑ 33.0 33.1 33.2 Star Wars Episode I Journal: Queen Amidala
- ↑ Episode I 20-Month Calendar, November caption
- ↑ 35.0 35.1 Coruscant and the Core Worlds
- ↑ Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope novelization
- ↑ 37.0 37.1 37.2 Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force
- ↑ 38.0 38.1 The New Essential Guide to Droids
- ↑ Star Wars Insider 96
- ↑ Star Wars Gamer 10
- ↑ Galactic Crisis!
- ↑ 42.0 42.1 Revenge of the Sith: Incredible Cross-Sections
- ↑ HoloNet News
- ↑ Chain of Command
- ↑ 45.0 45.1 Planet of Twilight
- ↑ Star Wars Gamer 5
- ↑ Star Wars: The Clone Wars novelization
- ↑ 48.0 48.1 Yoda: Dark Rendezvous
- ↑ 49.0 49.1 Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith junior novelization
- ↑ Casualty Report: Order 66
- ↑ Star Wars Insider 84
- ↑ Star Wars: Purge
- ↑ Star Wars Dark Times 12: Vector, Part 6
- ↑ Specter of the Past
- ↑ 55.0 55.1 Children of the Jedi
- ↑ 56.0 56.1 Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
- ↑ Star Wars: Empire at War
- ↑ 58.0 58.1 Rebellion Era Sourcebook
- ↑ Heroes & Rogues
- ↑ 60.0 60.1 Star Wars Adventure Journal 3
- ↑ Star Wars Adventure Journal 5
- ↑ 62.0 62.1 Star Wars Adventure Journal 4
- ↑ Star Wars Adventure Journal 7
- ↑ 64.0 64.1 64.2 Galaxy Guide 5: Return of the Jedi
- ↑ 65.0 65.1 Darksaber
- ↑ Tales from Jabba's Palace
- ↑ Star Wars: Ewoks—"Battle for the Sunstar"
- ↑ 68.0 68.1 Shadows of the Empire
- ↑ The Dark Side Sourcebook
- ↑ 70.0 70.1 Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
- ↑ Heir to the Empire
- ↑ Return of the Jedi radio drama
- ↑ Heir to the Empire Sourcebook
- ↑ Republic Commando: True Colors
- ↑ X-wing: Rogue Squadron
- ↑ Star Wars: Battlefront II
- ↑ 77.0 77.1 77.2 Revenge of the Sith: The Visual Dictionary
- ↑ Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary
- ↑ Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (novel)
- ↑ X-wing: Isard's Revenge
- ↑ The Lost City of the Jedi
- ↑ Alliance Intelligence Reports
- ↑ Leland Chee on the DarkHorse.com Message Boards