He was so clever, their Plagueis. In one short lifetime, he had taken 10,000 years of Sith knowledge and reached further than all who came before.
In one way, Plageuis understood balance beautifully: blending the mysticism of his people with science and nearly creating immortality. He had worked so hard and studied so well that They were tempted to let him violate the laws of nature and continue on forever. But what Plagueis had done to get there...
Oh, they ached for what Plagueis might have been.
Plagueis had ritually sacrificed another Sith, resurrected him, and sacrificed him again and again until he was little more than blood and the midi-chlorians that bound all their children to Them.
Feeling the dead Sith’s pain meant little to Them, for pain was part of life. But feeling their child unwind from the very fabric of existence and break into nothingness that could never rejoin Them… that was too much. Though, They loved Plagueis dearly and might have forgiven him even that much offense.
Plagueis went on and did the same to all the creatures he held as experiments, creatures he had imbued with the dark and twisted in further defiance of nature. (He’d made abominations to be sure, but the process was forgivably clever.)
These affronts were nothing compared to the danger Plagueis courted by having Sidious at his side, showing the man the runes and sacrifices necessary to unwind one of their children from existence.
(They did not love Sidious nearly so well as Plagueis. He had not his master’s mind. If Sidious were the one directing these experiments he would have been punished already.)
These were all forgivable offenses until Plagueis and Sidious slipped into a meditation and tried to create life for themselves from the mist of midi-chlorians they’d harvested from corpses.
The Force around the two men twisted, darkness flooding from this place. The abomination was such they contaminated the very threads of the Force and tipped it from balanced into darkness.
For all they loved Plagueis, this could not be pardoned.
As Plagueis and Sidious reached into the Force to make a never-ending life of their own, They reached back.
They took the life Plagueis had tried to create and tucked it away in a bundle of cells half a galaxy away. Someday Plagueis and Sidious would know their abomination this night had created the end both Sith so feared.
Then, They closed the door between Them and the Sith, unwilling to speak to the two men until They were not quite so disappointed.
That ought to have been enough. Plagueis and Sidious were punished, no matter how much linear time it might take for the bundle of cells to grow into retribution.
But for some reason, They followed the trail of what would be.
And They… were not satisfied.
Plagueis’ punishment would come at the hands of Sidious, a betrayal he would not foresee and that their Plagueis did not deserve. Sidious would succeed for as long as some species lived, but it would not be enough for him. His line would end for a time until another found his writings and began the work again. And in the interim, so many of their beautiful children would die. Death meant nothing, of course, since the children would only be returning to Them. But in this moment, with Sidious thinking that he and his master should have unwound more children into nothingness, knowing he would kill their clever Plagueis, that punishment was not enough.
And so They reached, but not for the bundle of cells They had just created.
If things went forward as they were, that bundle of cells would be as disappointing as Sidious, an apprentice not nearly so beloved by Them as his beautiful master. A bundle of cells that would end with his own well-deserved punishment for his abominations.
But the beautiful one… he would be punished in a thousand ways he did not deserve, but he would not fall. By the end, that beautiful boy would come near balance, then step forever away from the tipping point between light and dark in fear that he would take one step into the dark and tumble over like a cliff’s edge.
They paused and contemplated letting the darkness go unfought for just long enough that their beautiful boy would step over the line.
(Incorporeal though They were, They shuddered at what their beautiful boy would become. Not Fallen. Never Fallen. But if he crossed the line fully, he would spend eternity wishing he had dissolved into gross matter.)
No, Sidious should have no victory and They could trust their beautiful boy to see it done.
But to make it so, a string of fate must be plucked.
They reached to another beloved who had walked the line between light and dark. At the moment in time Plagueis and Sidious occupied, this other beloved had long been in their care. But time and space had no meaning to Them. And so they reached, and they plucked, and the world shifted.
His first thought was that this was some new kind of torture. The Dread Masters had tortured him with unescapable terror for over a century. They must have thought that giving him a moment of peace before subjecting him to another bout of unending terror would make it even worse. (They were right. Each breath was filled with dread of his own making about what would come next.)
As a Jedi Master, he was ashamed about how long it took him to realize that he wasn’t simply feeling fear, he was effervescing it into the force.
He might have stood there for hours, waiting on the knife’s edge for terror to take him, but the child started to cry.
He might be good as dead, but no man worth the name ignored a crying child.
The Dread Masters had not conjured the illusion of a babe being tortured – thank the Force. The child was simply in a creche, a row of bassinets full of younglings who couldn’t yet be trusted to not to roll out of their beds in the middle of the night.
A force presence reached out to check on the child, but left him un-soothed. What fool thought a babe so small should be able to lull himself back to sleep without help? He scoffed that the Jedi checking obviously didn’t understand that human-strain younglings needed touch, but then his mind caught up with his senses.
He could feel the Force.
Not simply the Force dwelling in his own cells, slowly being driven mad by the Dread Masters, but the Force.
The joy of connection to other living things made releasing his terror a moment’s work. The child whimpered in relief. He stepped forward to brush a hand over the babe’s forehead and lull him to sleep, but his fingers passed through the boy with a glow of blue light.
He flinched, expecting his old Master to appear from nowhere and scold him for swearing in front of Younglings. She didn’t, of course, because his master had joined the Force long before he’d been captured and put into stasis to be tortured until he broke.
He knew he was still in stasis. He could feel the strange deadness in his limbs that meant he was still attached to his body but had not left it well. But he was also a force ghost, which meant he was dead. He kept brushing his fingertips over the child’s forehead, across his chubby cheeks, and over the bridge of his nose, careful to avoid slipping past the boy’s skin but mindlessly soothing himself with the motion.
A long, slow sift through the Force told him this was Coruscant – unless another planet in the galaxy had stupidly given itself over to be consumed by city – and he was at the Jedi Temple. (Further stupidity that the Order had located itself so far away from nature, but the Order heads had been daft in his time so he couldn’t imagine how much worse they had gotten in the interim.) The child had not been crying when he arrived, which meant that the babe hadn’t managed to call a Force Ghost through time and space to soothe him. That meant something had pushed him to the child’s side and his own fear had been what disturbed the boy’s sleep.
He gave an apologetic brush through the boy’s red hair, mourning that he could not feel the downy fluff that stood on end in the way all children’s hair did before it understood gravity.
That was when he noticed the boy shifting, unconsciously pushing his face up looking for touch.
He tapped the boy’s nose, misjudging and slipping past the boundary of skin. But the boy sneezed, glowered, and went back to jutting up his chin like that would bring back a touch he wasn’t supposed to feel.
“Well, don’t tell my Master I said this in front of you, but: what the fuck?”
He laid his hand over the boy’s belly and the child flopped a fat hand on top. And suddenly, his hand was solid.
He was still a ghost, but for all he couldn’t make himself be there, the boy could still feel him. The child was radiating peace and pleasure into the Force, giving idle pats to the larger hand like he thought the adult needed soothing.
That was the moment he chose to stop asking questions. If the Force had seen fit to give him a moment’s reprieve, even one so strange as this, he would take it.
With a flick of the Force that he should not feel, he shut off the forcefield surrounding the crib and dragged over a chair. He did not trust whatever allowed the child to touch him enough to pick him up from the crib, but he could sit here beside the boy, soothed by his slow, steady breathing, and have a moment’s peace.
He leaned in close and whispered words that the child ought not be able to hear. “I am Revan, dear one. And I am pleased to meet you.”