"What is known about this Anakin?"
"Very little, except for the fact that he was born into slavery nine years ago and was, until recently, along with his mother, the property of Gardulla the Hutt, then a Toydarian junk dealer." Dooku smirked. "Also that he won the Boonta Eve Classic Podrace." – Darth Plagueis
Fathers and Sons
Shadows… shadows with sharp teeth and leering smiles, shadows that wielded blades of fire sinking into unsuspecting chests. Coughing, dying, promises in the last breaths of air… He twisted the shadows in his hands to part them and see… Master….no, don't die, don't leave me here with the boy. You need to raise him. Not me… I can't. Don't you see? I'm not like you. I don't want to train him.
I promised to train him. Get up, he commanded and felt the muscles of his body mocking him, useless and cold. The Force encompassed him like a shroud, and he almost gave in to the caress of darkness, but his promise stirred him, a promise to a dying man, a good man.
He reached out to the distant light, and the sky began to open. He could hear voices, muffled and warped. He moved his hand to… well, he didn't know why, but it only twitched, and a cool sliminess surrounded his senses. A few more seconds, and he would be able to open his eyes. He would know.
And then something warm like liquid fire coursed through his veins. Paralyzing pain seized every nerve in his body, but he couldn't scream. He couldn't even open his mouth to try. The retreating darkness now approached once more, foreboding in the way it beckoned to him. No… please, no, I have to go.
All the reasoning in the world would not help him now. The shadows swallowed him and took his thoughts away. Even the thoughts of the good man… the dying man… no…
He drifted like a puppet cut loose from its strings.
Sate Pestage stared up at the battered visage of the young Jedi warrior, his beady eyes processing the moment the poison took effect with professional efficiency. Watching the face go slack, losing even the registration of pain, the agent quietly reflected. The job had been simple, a mere matter of splicing into the Jedi's nutrient lines of his bacta tank when everyone else was occupied with the celebrations and the safety of the attending diplomats. One failed little Jedi earned only the attention of a nurse who had been ridiculously simple to fool, the holocams easy to overwhelm.
Palpatine would be pleased. His master's decision had been inspired. This particular drug had a kickback preventative measure; any attempt to manipulate or negate its effects, and the drug would begin proactively shutting down the victim's nervous system, leaving a gibbering mess if the victim were lucky. For this one's sake, Pestage thought while staring up, the Jedi had better not meddle too deeply. Even use of the Force would come too late if they toyed with what they did not understand.
He cast one last look up and chuckled. "Sleep tight, Jedi. Don't worry, we'll take care of everything."
He had one last distasteful chore to complete before he could return to Coruscant and begin the next phase of his endless plotting. It was not difficult to convince the queen and his fawning supporters of his desire to mediate in privacy over his upcoming and sobering duties to the Republic. Naboo's reputation for privacy and symbolic ceremony came in useful. After all, the weight of the galaxy would soon be upon his shoulders, and who could blame him for wanting to collect his thoughts in the last bit of peace he would likely ever know, when his own planet had nearly been broken by war?
His reputation as an intensely private, solitary man came to his assistance. In Theed, he kept a modest apartment complex in complete seclusion, a throwback to his earlier years in Naboo's Apprentice Legislator program. Only a select few including Sate Pestage and Naboo Security Chief Panaka knew of its precise location, and all were sworn to complete secrecy.
Palpatine would be formally inducted into office in two standard days, once the office of the Supreme Chancellor had been transferred from Valorum's staff to his own, leaving him plenty of time to accomplish this mission and return to Coruscant. When the night reached its zenith, he cloaked his presence in the Force and concealing robes, took a triple-finned speeder to one of Theed's busiest space ports, boarded a small, nondescript courier ship, and shot past the glowing atmosphere of his home planet, setting the course for nearby Tatooine.
Once in upper orbit, he engaged the stygium-powered cloaking device and leaned back in the pilot's seat. Thanks to his limitless connections to both money and malleable sentients, the ship was a twenty-six meter Star Courier, a near twin of the infamous Scimitar that he had bestowed upon Darth Maul, which was now in the hands of the most talented Jedi technicians after the ship's auto-defense mechanisms had slaughtered multiple unsuspecting Naboo security guards upon its discovery in the palace's hanger.
The relatively short journey to Tatooine was spent in complete silence as he meditated deeply in the Dark Side. His conversation with Anakin Skywalker as they walked to the funeral ceremony had revealed much. For being a slave, the boy certainly maintained a foolish ignorance and trust of strangers. Anakin confirmed Dooku's story of no father; he and his mother had lived completely within the power of a Toydarian shopkeeper by the name of Watto. The slave owner plied his trade in Mos Espa, where he haggled endlessly with the galaxy's scum and wagered his ill-begotten income on the local podraces.
Watto would pose no threat to him, but the mother was another issue altogether. In the Force, he tugged on one of the endless strings of the future and watched it unravel, spooling through his immaterial hands. He studied it closely, as a priest of ancient times might have studied the steaming entrails of a sacrificial victim. He tugged another fateful line and felt his presence humming with surprise. There were options here.
Opportunity abounded. So did danger. He would need to walk this path very, very carefully.
The soft, insistent pinging of his ship's entry alert system brought him out of the Force near Mos Espa. It was day here, and he watched the dusty swirls of sand plow across the barren surface below. Tatooine's bleak landscape inspired nothing, covered with sand, broken rocks and meteors, bones of long-dead species, and distant, insect-like lines of migrating Tusken raiders. He instructed the autopilot to set the ship down just outside the city limits and to remain completely cloaked.
He could hear the sand grating against the hull as the courier-class starship settled into the soft surface, its three claws splaying out and sinking nearly a foot into the ductile surface before stabilizing. Sidious pulled the long hood of his robes far over his head, and he pulled the illusions of the Dark Side over his features. No one would be recognizing him.
The hatch hissed open. A wave of sand flew into his face, and he tugged the lower part of his hood over his mouth and nose. A sandstorm often proved highly dangerous and disorienting to most beings of the galaxy, but he was not "most beings." Centering himself in the darkness, he strode out of the ship and moved swiftly toward the small spaceport.
The shabby town was nearly deserted in the epicenter of the storm. Only a couple desperate beings drifted in and out of his sight as he padded through the streets of the business sector, his boots sinking deep in the sand with each step, his senses stretching into every shadow and nook. There. A subtle shift in the Force had him arriving at the entrance of a non-descript shop, its sign battered and half worn away, but it still clearly identified Watto's mark. Cautiously, he waved the door open and slid inside, body taut with anticipation.
The interior was tiny, cramped, haphazard in the way droid and starship parts were tossed here and everywhere. He felt his nose wrinkle in disdain at the thick layer of dust that covered everything. His eyes quickly adjusted to the grim lighting, saw a miniscule droid lift its flattened disc of a head and chirp a sharp greeting.
"Niuta, be cotma!" The single eye in its front lit up with a deep blue glow, and it stood to its full half-meter height and came around the counter, processor drive whirring.
Sidious peered around the dingy room hoping to spy the Toydarian. "Achuta, mi bosco de Watto. Cha unco?" Thanks to Dar Wac's irritating habit of speaking Huttese in civilized circles, Palpatine's own grasp of the language had never grown stale. It benefitted him also, in that the harshness of the language served well to disguise his usual erudite tones.
"Hees la," the droid beckoned with a two-pronged appendage to a small door leading to the back of the shop. Sidious side-stepped a suspicious pile of slag and moved through the short door frame. The Toydarian dealer lay on his back under the broken hull of a bi-fin landspeeder, his large, clawed feet digging into the dusty floor as he maneuvered for a better angle.
The Sith Lord found a relatively clean bucket chair, ripped from some unfortunate racing pod, and took a seat quietly. He reached out with the Force and sensed that Watto's mind, like those of most Toydarians, was resistant to the will of the Force. Small matter.
"Goodde da lodia, Watto."
Deeply engaged in his work, Watto jerked with surprise when Sidious spoke a greeting, bashing his enormous nose against the bottom edge of the speeder. He flopped out from under the speeder and flapped into the air, waving both clawed hands, sputtering indignantly. "Da chuda!"
Sidious let a small smile escape from under his hood. "Chut chut, me tinka chuba haba hopa mi."
Watto's wings slowed to a steadier beat, and he hovered closer, but his eyes still gleamed with sharp suspicion. Who in their right minds went shopping in this sort of weather? "Stuta pachee? En sando?"
The Dark Lord shook his head. Watto's store held nothing of the slightest value to him. "Nopa. Konchee ta shag?"
"Jah peedunkee Skywalker? Jee dwana he," Watto chortled. He tossed a small spanner from hand to hand, impatient to be rid of this interloper. Sidious also sensed a great amount of annoyance and bitterness at the mention of the boy.
"Nopa, me naga ta cheeka." He watched the comprehension settle on the miserable creature's face. An impression of the woman's visage swam into his mind, vague and tired.
"Chuba naga cheekta?" Watto's wrinkled proboscis curled and twisted. "Da wanga! Wan cheekta?"
"Bargon u noa-a-uyat," Sidious intoned softly, hoping that the Toydarian's greed would win out, and planning to fulfill no such bargain if it did.
Watto appeared to think about the offer. He studied the human's rich black robes, tried to peer at his face without prying. He finally shook his head and backed up in the air. "Me dwana wanga. Me hagwa naga dwana andobah."
"Chess ko," Sidious warned.
Watto's face flushed with anger. He pointed a gnarled finger in the human's direction. "Ah'chu apenkee? Hi chuba da naga?"
The time for bartering was past, Sidious could see it now. For some inexplicable reason, the dealer was not willing to part with the mother. Stubbornness was rarely a virtue in this mad galaxy; one really needed to learn to bend with the changing tides. He stood slowly from the chair, the grimy air around him darkening with his intent. Watoo's eyes bulged. He lifted the spanner in front of him as though it were a weapon.
"Boska!" Watto growled. "Droi! Hopa mi!" He abruptly threw the spanner at the human and made a scrabbling dash for the exit. Sidious waved the spanner aside with a twitch of one hand and lifted the other into a loose fist.
Watto's flight was short lived. He let loose a hoarse squeal of pain as the Dark Side constricted around his thick throat. His spindly limbs came up to claw at the invisible grip.
Sidious rotated him in a half circle and stepped closer, smiling, taunting. "Koona t'chuta? Me hagwa tinka."
Behind him, the droid appeared in the doorway and released an alarmed series of chatters. Its efforts went unappreciated. Sidious waved his free hand and watched in satisfaction as the small metallic body was crushed into the side wall of the shop in a blaze of sparks.
He turned his attention back to Watto and finally released his death hold. Watto collapsed to the floor like a boned fish. He gasped for the precious, dusty air. The Toydarian huddled in the dirt for several seconds until he remembered his guest. "Your-ra not from around here!" he forced out in heavily accented Basic. "Whaaat, are you some kinda Jedi?! Like the others?"
"I wouldn't say that," the Dark Lord stared down at the helpless, quivering lump of flesh, felt the disdain crawl across his shoulders.
"You roughing me up for a slave? You beat me up and you get nothing, eh?" Watto coughed and rubbed at his throat, eyes rolling up to regard the human closely. "Treat me wrong, I won't talk."
"Oh, your ability to speak is quite irrelevant," Sidious purred softly. He knelt beside the Toydarian. One sharp knee pinned Watto's left wing to the floor. The thin membranes tore under the pressure.
Watto froze, like a non-sentient quadruped scenting mortal danger on the wind. His trunk of a nose trembled in the stillness. "Mind trick? Your tricks don'ta work on me, you see?" He pressed his head lower to the floor when Sidious suddenly reached out a slender, pale hand.
"Nothing so mundane as a mind trick," he assured the creature and hovered his fingertips above the greasy forehead. "Unfortunately for you."
Just Palpatine typing up his loose ends and making sure nothing will impede his plans. Housekeeping is a pesky thing, sometimes, but very necessary when plotting the takeover of a galaxy.
Apologies for any typos found within, and I hope you enjoyed the chapter. Leave a review, I won't mind. :)
(Translation of the Huttese in case the context clues weren't enough (may we just say, there are some very dedicated sites out there…)
D: Please, come in.
P: Hello, I am looking for Watto. Is he here?
D: He's there.
P: Good day to you, Watto.
W: Hello/What is it? (irritated phrase)
P: Excuse me, I think you may be able to help me.
W: Are you looking for parts? In a sandstorm?
P: No. Where is the slave?
W: The boy Skywalker? I sold him.
P: No. I want the woman.
W: You want her? That one! Why her?
P: Your services will be rewarded.
W: I sold one. I don't want to sell another.
P: Be careful.
W: Who are you? What do you want?
W: Get out! Droid, help me!
P: Going somewhere? I don't think so.)