Recriminations

Chancellor Palpatine gave a cordial smile to the Jedi High Council, "This young man came to me with a problem, but, given its nature, I assumed that this would best be handled by your Order."

The young man beside him barely looked like a 'man' at all, more an upright beast. His long, reddish-brown hair fell long and loose around thin shoulders, his body was gaunt, his fingers ended in thick talons and his brown eyes jerked about the room in the manner of cornered animal. He moved with an animal's grace and his broad, flat nose periodically sniffed the air cautiously. His clothes were simple and clean, new, ill-fitting. But none of that drew The Council's attention so much as the writhing tendrils visible beneath his sunken cheeks.

"Anzati, you are." Yoda said simply.

"You murdered my people." His voice was cracked, with a slight hiss.

"You are referring, I presume, to the battle on Kiffex?" Jedi Master Mace Windu replied calmly. "We had no choice. The Anzati attacked our people. . ."

"You let him live!" There was little restraint on the fury in his voice, "You let The Dreamer live! You let him draw us to him. Turn us into animals. It is your fault my family died!"

"I don't understand." Anakin Skywalker tried to meet the creature in the eyes, but his gaze was too quick. Too evasive. Anakin had heard rumors of the Anzati, long-lived creatures who lurked in shadow and drained the brain matter and cerebral fluids from sentient victims by means of the feeding proboscis hidden within their cheeks. Cerebral vampires. They were the stuff of children's stories, nightmares. He had not believed that they actually existed. This one was far from imposing, he was clearly sick, drained of life. The Force was weakened and twisted within him, as if it had been forcibly wrung from his soul.

"Long ago The Dreamer was Anzat. Anzat Jedi. But he turned against Jedi, killed many. The Jedi defeated him, but let him live. Awake. Aware. Imprisoned in body but free in spirit. He called to us across the void. In our dreams. So we came to Kiffex. Worshiped him as he enslaved us, leeched the life from us!"

"Volfe Karkko was once a great Anzat Jedi. He turned to The Dark Side and attempted to harvest the 'Soup', the fluid Anzati drain from the minds of their prey, from other Jedi. He was incredibly powerful, and slew many Jedi before he was defeated." Master Windu explained. "After his capture he was imprisoned within a temple on the planet Kiffex. Unknown to The Order, he began luring other Anzati to his prison, where they fell under his mental control and worshiped him. He drained the very Force itself from them, transforming them into feral beasts. Thousands of Anzati fell into his trap. Several years ago we learned of the situation. Volfe Karkko was briefly freed but was slain by Quinlan Vos. The vast majority of his followers were killed in the battle as well."

"My people were slain! My family!"

Yoda shook his head, "No way we had of knowing. Forgotten, he was."

"Forgotten? You let that monster live, let him enslave us, and forgot?!" The Anzat hissed in rage and disbelief, "Never your Jedi noticed Anzati flocking to Kiffex? Never you felt him in The Force, when we Anzati heard his call?"

"Why did the Jedi not kill this creature?" Anakin asked, "If he was so powerful and dangerous? The Council should have at least kept track of him."

The Anzat turned to Skywalker, regarded him thoughtfully. "You are not like the others. You know pain. You have lost love?"

"My mother was . . . Murdered on Tatooine." The agony in his voice was evident.

"Then we share a pain, Master Jedi."

"To answer Master Skywalker's question, The Council chose to allow him to live because they knew that he had once represented all that was great and noble in the Anzati race." Master Windu said, "They had hoped his imprisonment would give him time for reflection, repentance. They were wrong. They had no way of knowing . . ."

"They should have known!" The Anzat fairly screamed. His feral anger was beginning to trouble the assembled Jedi Masters. "You Jedi fight and kill millions to force worlds who want to leave your corrupt Republic to stay against their wishes, but you let Volfe Karkko live to destroy thousands of Anzati."

"Blame there is for all." Yoda stated calmly, "To 'The Dreamer' came the Anzati."

The Anzat's face twisted in fury and his writhing proboscis emerged from his cheeks. The Jedi tensed for a possible attack.

Chancellor Palpatine calmly placed his hand on the creature's shoulder, "What happened to your people was a great tragedy. But the Jedi responsible are long dead. Why sacrifice yourself for a hollow revenge against the innocent?"

The Anzat turned toward The Supreme Chancellor, "Is anyone 'innocent'?" He shook his head, "But you speak with wisdom. I still live to tell of what The Jedi did to us."

"Forgiveness is difficult, is it not?" Palpatine spoke with sympathy.

"Anzati are long-lived, and have long memories. Even if I am killed, others survive. My people will know the true face of The Jedi."

The Anzat turned his back on The Council and moved to leave the chamber.

"We can arrange for a ship to take you home. To Anzat." Master Kit Fisto offered gently. "It is the least we can do . . ."

"I have my own vessel. It took me years to escape Kiffex and the Kiffar patrols, but I finally succeeded." He didn't elaborate. "And yes, it is the least you can do." With that he walked out.

It was only then that they realized he had not given them his name.

Several hours later,

"The Anzati are a deeply private people, so much so that many do not even believe that they exist. They rarely risk revealing themselves so openly to others. His grief and rage must be tremendous to have exposed his true nature before The Jedi Council itself. I cannot blame him, I can only pity him." Palpatine looked out from his office window over the vast chamber that hosted the representatives of thousands of worlds. He turned toward Anakin, a look of sadness in his eyes. "Anzati are not evil creatures, Anakin. They are merely predators. They survive as their nature dictates. Though they are not represented in The Republic, they are still a wise and ancient race, worthy of our respect."

"The Council calls me reckless, irresponsible, but they let a thing like Volfe Karkko live, forgotten and growing in power?" Anakin knew that the current Council was unaware of Volfe Karkko's very existence until it was too late for his many victims, but they should have known. What were The Archives for, if they did not warn the Order of the mistakes from their past? He had also learned that Quinlan Vos' parents had been slain by Anzati traveling to Kiffex to serve The Dreamer. How many families, how many lives had been destroyed by such ignorance and secrecy?

"Yes," Palpatine sighed heavily, "Many Anzati died because those Jedi refused to do what was necessary, not to mention all those whom the poor, feral beasts killed on Kiffex. It will take centuries for the few surviving Anzati to recover the life energy that Karkko stole from them, those who are not already completely lost. The Jedi could not bring themselves to kill Volfe Karkko, despite how dangerous and corrupt he had become. That is often the problem with The Order, they are too weak, too soft to do what is necessary to protect the universe from such threats. Sometimes a firm hand is needed to deal with evil. A firm hand, and the will to use it."

"Perhaps . . ." Skywalker mumbled softly. He realized suddenly that some on The Council had known of the fate of Quinlan Vos' parents for over a decade. Master Windu and Yoda had lied to the Anzat. They had known Anzati were traveling to Kiffex. And they had done nothing. They had not even told Vos, he'd discovered it on his own. Quinlan Vos himself had avenged his parents and slain Karkko.

Without The Council's help.

Anakin felt a dark pang in his heart. Master Windu had lied to him as well.

Palpatine smiled inwardly. Everything was proceeding exactly as he had foreseen.

The End.

Volfe Karkko appears in the Star Wars:Darkness graphic novel from Dark Horse Comics. The back-story is canon, and I think The Jedi were idiots for letting Karkko live. Anzati are not naturally evil, even the Jedi recognize that.

Master Fisto and the others were not on The Council when Quinlan Vos was orphaned and probably knew nothing of it and the Anzat. Windu and Yoda knew.