Monday, December 31, 2007

DeathTalker 2: Chapter 3

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"Thanks for locking the controls."

Anakin, his arms crossed, stood in the cockpit and watched the stars flash by. Obi-Wan had just come in behind him.

"Don't you think that's a little dangerous?"

"Not as much as the alternative."

They stood in silence for a while.

"Anakin, why didn't you want to become a Jedi?"

Anakin was silent for a while.

"The night after Qui-Gon died, I had dreams. Terrible dreams. At first it was just the fear of them that kept me away. I had hoped that, in time, they would leave me and I could still become a Jedi."

"Yes; I was convinced that you'd change your mind by lunchtime the first day."

Anakin smiled.

"But they didn't stop."

"One of the worst involved mom dying. So, using the influence I had as 'planetary liberator,' I had her brought to Naboo."

Anakin faced Obi-Wan.

"The dreams stopped."

"How is she?"

Anakin rolled his eyes.

"Annoying as hell. I don't even want to think about trying to tell that I got my head blown off. I mean I can you exactly what she'll say…"

"Another dream?"

"No, long experience. First she'll say she told me so, and that I should have become a doctor like she told me, instead of going into the…"

"You were saying something about dreams?"

"Oh…er…right. Well as time wore on, I had other dreams."

"Some were good, some were bad, mostly they were just about the future – you know, mundane things like one time I dreamed of talking to a Gungan, and being really bored."

"I could have told you that."

"Yeah, well, he was a member of the Mud Splash water polo team. I thought he would be really cool, but he was worse than Jar-Jar."

"Oh my…"

"Yeah, you'd think that some of them would be interesting, but…"

"How does all this have to do with not wanting to become a Jedi?"

"Oh that, well, some of these dreams were weird – like having several endings to a story. Some were more vivid – more like memories than dreams. I later realized that some of them could be changed, and some could not."

"In one dream, my favorite pet died when he got caught in a fishing net while we were playing catch. So…the next day, I wouldn't come outside. I holed up in my room the whole day and kept Burp with me."


"He was my dog, you know the pet."

"You had a dog called 'Burp?'"

Anakin glared at Obi-Wan.

"Look, do you want to hear this or not?!"

"Alright, alright."

"At any rate, the next day he got loose and was electrocuted by a loose power relay."

Obi-Wan was frowning.

"That's a really weird name…"

"The point is, some things from these dreams could be changed and some could not!"

Calming himself a bit, Anakin continued.

"I had another dream. A terrible dream. This one was about the future with me as a Jedi. In that dream, many, many people died."

"What exactly happened?"

"That part was unclear."

Anakin shrugged.

"Of course, as present circumstances show, I'm not a whole lot better off."

"But everyone else is."

"There is that…"

Padme chose that moment to walk into the cockpit.

"Where are we going again?"


"Are we there yet?"

Anakin's jaw clenched.

"Some days I can see Palpatine's point of view…"

* * * * * *

Palpatine was considered a "success story" for modern Naboonian mental health. Here was someone who started out as what others might call "a bad egg," who was turned around at an early stage in life and went on to be a valuable and productive member of society. He was the sort of person that therapists use to bore each other to tears over: why they matter, blah, blah, blah.

In reality, Palpatine was a mental health nightmare.

True, he was a functioning member of society, but it was in a manner that was conniving, manipulative and utterly lacking in empathy.

But as a child, Palpatine had been small, cute, and disturbingly ruthless. He was constantly getting in trouble, sometimes seriously, and was a great source of stress for his caretakers.

He was raised by his uncle, his biological parents having died in a speeder crash that he had absolutely nothing, nothing whatsoever, to do with. This uncle, a certain Ty Emmer, was a very busy man. In fact, the more he came to know Palpatine, the busier he got.

Palpatine grasped social interactions, laws, and whatnot. He just didn't see why he personally needed to follow them. At a very young age, he demonstrated that there were only two things in the universe: what Palpatine wanted and the rest.

Unlike most other people, he did not give a damn about pleasing others, except as a means of manipulation. Furthermore the suffering of others meant nothing to him, though it did have a disturbing ability to make him smile.

In addition to having a strange culture that involved amphibians, Naboolian society also had a very strong social infrastructure. This basically means that Palpatine was identified at a young age as being "a challenge" and he was assigned several qualified mental health professionals™ to help him.

Palpatine's first councilor quit after two weeks, complaining that she had never, in her life, encountered someone so close to pure evil. His second one lasted a couple of months, managing to annoy the young lad so much that Palpatine actually embedded a staple in his forehead (for some strange reason, staplers persisted on Naboo).

His third and final councilor was someone experienced with dealing with "socially challenged" individuals (read: hardened criminals) and had something of a "tough guy" attitude. After an adjustment period (Palpatine left their first meeting with a black eye), it was made totally clear to the boy that no, he couldn't expect to behave the way he had and get away with it.

The future leader of the Galactic Republic resigned himself to the concept of rules and that they applied to him. Palpatine learned to be pragmatic early on – after all his therapist was bigger than him. And he had been tried in unarmed combat. And he had also carefully removed the stapler from his desk.

Thus at the tender age of 7, the young Palpatine found himself sitting one day by a beautiful stream, watching the clouds and pulling the wings off flies.

He was becoming increasingly frustrated with life. He was going to have to do something quite soon. He was contemplating methods and fire kept coming back as a good one.

Just then a group of laughing children ran by. Palaptine noticed someone watching them.

"Little bastards."

Palpatine looked at the man. Unlike most other adults he had dealt with, this person was partially transparent. The man sighed and turned away, then noticed Palpatine staring at him.

"Up yours, you punk."

"You sure talk strange mister."

The man cocked an eyebrow.

"You can see me?"

"Of course."

Just then, the group of children ran back past them. Idly, Palpatine tripped a little girl who fell flat on her face. He laughed as she got up, and ran away from him.

"You don't like other kids?"

"Not really, they're too loud."

"You seem…angry."

"And you're see-through."





The man, who seemed more substantial now, paused and considered.

"Mean, strong in the force and angry…have you ever considered a career as a Sith Lord?"

"Why would anyone want to sift boards?"

"I said Sith Lord you moron."

"Yeah well you're a…"

Palpatine noticed someone coming up behind him. He had a squat, determined bearing that he had grown to hate.

"Oh shit."

"Palpatine! I heard about what you did to that poor little girl!"

"Sorry, I gotta go!"

Palpatine turned and ran, the approaching figure pursued for a bit then stopped, took out a weapon and fired at the little boy. Palpatine dropped to the ground, stunned.

The individual that Palpatine had been talking with, who was growing more insubstantial with each passing moment, watched this take place.

"Now that's someone I can work with…"

* * * * * *

Palpatine sat on a cushion, trying to watch the Naboolian equivalent of TV as the spectral figure blathered on.

"Power! Unliiiiimited power!!!"

"Will you just shut up?"

The figure stopped abruptly and glared at the boy.

"During my time, someone who spoke to me that way would have his tongue cut out from his head."

"Then I'm glad you're just a…a wassname…pigment of my "

"The word is figment you dolt."

Now it was Palpatine's turn to glare.

"You're pretty bright, though, for a child of your age."

Palpatine brightened up.

"I do OK in school…when I'm not in detention."

"How often is that?"

"Most of the time."

"Have you ever wondered why you have to play by their rules?"


"Why not?"

Palpatine shrugged.

"They're bigger than I am."

The ghost opened his mouth for a second and then shut it. He made as if to speak again.

"Look, if I go to your house tomorrow will you just shut up?"

The ethereal man opened his mouth again, shut it, and then put his hands together up his sleeves in a wise looking pose.

"That will do."


"This place is boring."

"Shut up."

Palpatine was standing in a dusty hall. He had found the place by following the shade's instructions and spending a few days searching a hill near the town where he lived. All told, it had taken a few weeks, since the ghost had to bother Palpatine quite a bit in order to get him to keep searching.

"All this work just to find this stupid place?"

"Silence…you are in a sacred temple."

Palpatine fidgeted and looked sidelong at the figure. Down here, he looked almost solid.

"What's your name?"

The specter turned slowly and menacingly towards the boy, his eyes glowed red.

"Naga Sadow."

Time passed.


The Sith looked put out.

"I'm gonna go watch qube-V."

"SHUT UP! And don't even think of leaving."

"Why not?"

"You know what I'm capable of…"

The ghost had ruined many hours of QV watching. Apparently, he could disrupt electronics, though it seemed to tire him.

Palpatine glared.

"Hurry up then."

The shad hissed and turned towards the hallway.

"C'mon punk."

Palpatine shuffled after him.

"This, is the hall of waiting…"

Naga looked sidelong at Palpatine and noticed his fidgeting. If it were possible for him to sigh, he would have.

"…and it's very old and important!"

Naga hurried off through the ancient room and headed down another corridor. Palaptine had to run to catch up.

"And most important of all is…"

"A wall?"

The sith looked worried.

"It wasn't like this before!"

"You mean you don't know where we're going?!!"

Naga Sadow recovered.

"Of course I do! This is merely a test of your patience!"

"I'm outta here."

"Right, well you'd better be back here tomorrow!"

Muttering under his breath, Naga Sadow flitted around the complex for the room he was looking for.


Palpatine walked through the dusty hall after Naga Sadow. He had on a head-lamp, not unlike the kind that miners wear. It was the only part of the whole venture that he had deemed "cool."

"What are we doing again?"

"I need to see if you have true affinity for The Force, or if you abilities are limited to talking to the dead."

"Why are we looking for a split infinity?"

"Affinity. I need to see if you can use The Force or not."

"If I can't will you stop bothering me?"

Naga Sadow made a strangling motion with his hands.


"Here it is!"

They stood outside a circular room. There were strange hieroglyphs carved into the walls.

"OK, so now what?"

"Do you see that hieroglyph on the opposite side of the room?"

"The what?"

"Just walk across the room to the opposite side."

"Then can I go home?"

The specter hissed under his breath.

"Do it!"

Palpatine rolled his eyes and walked across the room. He stopped and looked curiously at the carving. He heard disturbing giggling, then laughter. Turning around, he saw that Naga was laughing at him.

"What's so funny?"

"Hehehe...n-n-negative HA! HA! HA!"

Weird purple lighting began to play about the sinister figure.

"Hey, that's cool!"

The boy moved towards what Naga thought of as "optimum range" when a wind blew up around him. Unseen before, dust motes rose up into the air, obscuring his view.

"What the?"

The motes seemed to be attracted to him, but they would not hold still. Instead the swirled about, darting towards his eyes.

"Stop that!"

He closed his eyes and swung his arms about wildly. Suddenly, the motes were gone.

Opening his eyes he looked out to see what looked like a translucent globe, with himself at the center. Beyond its boundaries, looking unusually grim, was Naga.



It had been 5 years since the first meeting with Naga Sadow by the brook. Since that time Palpatine had "straightened up" and started behaving. While he wasn't the most popular kid in school, he had, never the less, found of way of at least co-existing with the others. In most respects, he was considered a "success story" in the annals of Naboolian social programs.

His councilor, of course, did not believe any of it.

"You don't fool me you little twerp!"

"Well at least I'm not getting in as much trouble as I used to…"

The beefy man squirmed uncomfortably and fingered his side arm.

"All right, that's true enough, but I think you're just biding your time."

The two people glared at each other.

"Well are you two finished saying goodbye?"

An elderly woman had entered the room and was smiling brightly at the two of them. With an effort, Palpatine managed a rictus-like grin. His councilor didn't even bother and just glared at her.

"He's a bad egg, a sour apple, mark my words, this kid is trouble!"

"Well I'll just take that as a 'yes'. Now come along Palpatine, let the nice shrink start shrinking someone else."

Palpatine followed her out the door. As they were leaving he stuck his tongue out as his councilor. The man made a sour face and looked at some paperwork on his desk.

"I expect you'll miss old Clive. He can be grouchy, but he means well!"

"If he meant any weller I'd be dead."

"What was that?"

"Oh nothing."

Palpatine rubbed some bruises and followed.

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