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Musings of the Master

He meditates silently in the depths of the small, ancient Sith shrine under the Imperial Palace and ponders his galaxy.

Yes. His galaxy.

The Republic is gone, trampled to dust under the shiny boots of the new Empire that struts proudly across the stars, and in its place he pursues far, far more than the physical realm can ever provide. His underlings scurry to and fro by the hundreds, seeking to curry favor and earn the gracious benevolence of His Highness. In solitude, hidden from their false and fawning faces, Sidious laughs at them all.

Nearly all.

There is one who keeps him guessing. True, he allows it. He does not often invade the weak walls of that busy mind, for in the absence of worthy enemies, he is reduced to creating his own challenges and diversions. The pitfalls of absolute victory…ah well.

She entertains him.

He remembers the day she came to the office of the Supreme Chancellor, years ago, reeking of nervous anticipation and determination. He remembers the amusement and curiosity warring for control of his features as she sat across from him and revealed her knowledge of his true nature. So bold. So naïve. He remembers the inevitable outcome of the meeting: her death, until she made the offer.

The offer. Made so simplistically, so openly that for a moment he had been left speechless. A rare accomplishment for a politician of his caliber, he muses darkly.

Yet the offer intrigued him, and that brief fascination – a mere whim – saved her. He is glad of it in hindsight, for her sworn service to him has resulted in many benefits to his Empire. Her economic prowess keeps much of the Empire's trade and markets in complete order; corruption occurs only when he wishes it. Smuggling and economic criminal activity have nearly been eliminated in certain portions of the Core, and the wealthiest fools on the Imperial Ruling Council openly fear the power of her pen and the infamous Imperial audits.

They chafe under the watchful eye of a woman, a rare find in a group of hundreds of Imperial advisors. (How he loves the strife that carefully manipulated chauvinism can create in lesser creatures!)

More than that, they fear his shadow lurking behind her sharp, uncultured tongue. Few in the galaxy, not even most of the Emperor's Inner Circle, are entirely sure of the nature of their relationship. As it should be. No one dreams that such an important galactic official would call him "Master" in secret and carry out missions that would chill the blood of most. But they should have suspected; after all, everyone is a two-faced being according to the wisest of the ancient philosophers. Her gentle face hides the soul of a ruthless hunter.

It pleases him to no small end that a Jedi serves him so well. She would protest, has always protested that she is no Jedi, but a Grey Jedi. A rejected offshoot of the extinguished Order. She enjoys flirting with danger, that much is clear. What she will never realize in time: the Dark Side does not flirt. It teases and deceives and suffers no rival for its affections. By taking one step into the shadows, she has already lost her precious light. Not instantaneously, no, and certainly not yet, but the Dark is a malignant force, moving patiently and silently until resistance comes far too late to be effective.

Those who court his fire carry scars of infinite darkness, and he is only too willing to inflict the required lessons.

And this one… this one has potential.

Of course, if she should begin to waver at some point, to doubt her wisdom of proclaiming her fealty to him, then he will have her killed along with any near and distant relations, her vast possessions confiscated with terrifying efficiency. There is no mercy for traitors. Perhaps he will let Vader have her. Perhaps he will kill her himself, for it has been years since he claimed the life of a Jedi, and he misses the broiling in the Force that heralds the departure of their troubled souls.

But he has looked into the Force, and her betrayal is no time too soon, if ever. Always in motion, the future is, and he is most skilled in riding the currents to inevitable victory. If she should remain faithful – and yes, useful – to his service, her life will be long and profitable.

Lengthy or fleeting, glorious or wretched, one thing remains constant: the life of Lady Brievel, Agent of the Empire, lies solely in his hands.

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

"We are all two-faced beings, divided by the Force and fated for eternity to search out our hidden identities." – Republic philosopher Shassium (Darth Plagueis)

Palpatine contemplates one of his servants not long after the formation of his great Empire. This slight AU is written in honor of (and response to) fellow author Brievel, branching from our highly enjoyable discussions of Sith and Jedi. Check out her point of view on her story, "Confessions of an Imperial Secret Agent."