the_starkiller: (Starkiller | Kneeling Before Master)
[personal profile] the_starkiller
OOC: Follows this thread.

The observation room had been repaired and rebuilt since the last time Starkiller had been there. His boots clicking softly on the metal of the long catwalk that stretched from the lift to the central platform below Palpatine's throne, he could not help but glance around as he walked. There, down and to his right, at the base of the massive windows that looked out into space, was where Starkiller had finished his battle against Vader, leaving the Sith Lord a smoking, broken hulk. It should have been his moment of triumph, ascending to the place of the Emperor's apprentice, the next step to becoming a Sith himself.

But then something still weak and foolish within him caused Starkiller to turn his lightsaber against Palpatine himself, who had taught the would-be Sith the price for betraying the wrong Master.


With every step that brought Starkiller closer to the throne, he could feel the weight of Palpatine's dark power pressing down on him, oppressive and stifling. Starkiller's stride slowed, but he could and would not stop and as long as he could, he would not be bowed. A brief look to his side showed Starkiller that the woman walking beside him, destination the same, was feeling none of the same debilitation. Mara Jade, the Emperor's Hand, walked proud and content towards their shared Master, with no sign that the Force was communicating any displeasure to her.

Starkiller understood. This would not be the day when he would be elevated as apprentice and more than likely, it would not be the day that ended his torment with death.

Stopping before the steps that led to the throne, Starkiller lowered himself to one knee. Red-masked and cloaked Imperial Guards stood silent and inscrutable a few meters to either side. "Master," Starkiller intoned with all the confidence he could muster, "you have summoned your servants."

"I wished to summon those who would faithfully and properly carry out the orders of the Emperor," Palpatine hissed, disdain coloring every word. "I see only one before me."

"Mara Jade," said Palpatine, tone softening. "You are commended for your loyalty and competence. As ever, you demonstrate the reasons you were chosen as Emperor's Hand. However, I find that I have neglected a small aspect of your training. You have been prepared to lead the Imperial forces when necessary, but have not been taught how to discipline. Stand here, beside my throne, in your rightful place and observe."

Starkiller followed Mara's progress up the steps. With the weight of Palpatine's disapproval pressing on him, he was unable to see the Imperial agent as the woman who had taken his virginity and unlocked strange, dark new desires within him. All Starkiller could see now was the Emperor's Hand, who served in the place he had, for a moment, held as his own. Yellow eyes, shadowed by a twisted brow and glowing beneath the voluminous hood of Palpatine's robes, turned to Starkiller and burned into his own.

"Starkiller," said his Master, every syllable heavy with disgust, "I see now how foolish I was to allow you to live. I had hoped that, in my generosity, that you would have learned from defeating Darth Vader that mine was the only true path to power. I destroyed all that chained you to your misbegotten life hoping to remake you. I see now that you are nothing more than what Vader created you to be: a weapon. A blunt instrument without direction or discretion, a blade without a hand."

He raised his head. "Master," Starkiller pleaded. "I only wished to accomplish my mission and instill the proper fear of your power in--"

"With that clumsy, inelegant show of force? I am the Emperor. I will decide how my power is used." Palpatine stood and shook back the sleeves of his robe. Starkiller knew what was coming. There was no escape. "And this day, I use it to punish you for your foolishness."

Purple-white lightning crackled around the Emperor's gnarled, wizened hands before arcing across the air. Without a moment to brace himself, Starkiller was surrounded by the Force Lightning. A scream tore from Starkiller's throat as the energy coruscated and leapt across his skin, leaving dark, smoking marks on flesh and cloth. The pain was excruciating and total. There was no part of him that was not in agony.

Barely able to register the sensation through the pain, Starkiller found that he was being lifted from the floor. Palpatine's dark powers raised his body even as the long, snapping strings of energy continued to race over and through Starkiller's body. His jaw snapped shut, and he tasted blood.

"You see, Mara Jade," Palpatine chuckled, "one cannot spare the rod when dealing with incalcitrant children."

The Emperor's attention returned to the writhing Starkiller.

"I require operatives upon whom I can rely. Demonstrations of power are sometimes necessary, but I will dictate their uses. You, Starkiller, were given a second chance, and you have squandered it. For this, you are punished."

There was a sound of metal straining. Through the haze of pain, Starkiller turned his head to see his right arm and leg, the artificial limbs that had been replaced after Palpatine's first "lessons", being crushed and mangled by the Emperor's power. The damage raced through the machine circuits and into Starkiller's nerves, pulling an even greater howl of agony.

Finally, the lightning ceased. Starkiller was still barely conscious, a fact he regretted, as it allowed him to continue feeling the pain of his tortured body. Palpatine released his hold and Starkiller crashed to the floor, smoking and trembling.

"The Empire is not without mercy. You will live, Starkiller, and continue to serve. But I see now that you are incapable of being effective without guidance. You are a blade, and to be wielded properly requires a hand. Mara Jade, this one is to be your servant. For him, your will is my will. Any defiance may be dealt with at your discretion. When the doctors are finished with him, you may collect him aboard the medical ship Caedus." Palpatine gave Mara a cold smile. "After that, you may use him as you wish. You are dismissed."

The last thing Starkiller saw was Mara descending the steps toward him from one side, and the sound of medical droids approaching from the other. He had failed once more, as he had failed every Master he had ever known.


OOC: [insanejournal.com profile] emperors_hand included with permission.
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Starkiller/The Secret Apprentice/Galen Marek

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