Behind a curtain of secrecy lurked Darth Sidious, a mysterious Sith Lord and puppet-master of the tumultuous events that brought an end to the Republic. The Sith order had been extinct for a millennium, yet somehow, two survived -- the Master Darth Plagueis and his apprentice, Darth Sidious. Plagueis, the wise, was an adept of some of the most arcane and unnatural applications of the Force. As Sidious described, Plagueis had uncovered a path to immortality through the manipulation of the dark side of the Force. Plagueis could, it was said, coax the midi-chlorians present in all living cells to create life from nothingness.
But for a Sith, immortality was a futile pursuit. The secretive Sith order counted upon the death of a master and the rise of an apprentice to further itself. True to tradition, Sidious killed Plagueis upon learning his Master's secrets. It was then that Sidious took an apprentice, who would eventually become Darth Maul. Maul would be Sidious' blunt instrument, his deadly weapon to carry out his plans while he remained in the shadows, conspiring to take over the Republic in its waning years.

Sidious arranged for the cowardly Neimoidians to brazenly blockade and invade the peaceful planet of Naboo in protest over increased taxation from the senate. Sidious never contacted the Neimoidians directly. Instead, he relied on holographic communication. Such long distance transmissions coupled with obscuring dark robes kept his identity and location a secret to all of his accomplices. The Neimoidians never suspected Sidious's public persona -- a highly placed Republic official who would benefit handsomely from the Naboo invasion.

Sidious ordered the Neimoidians to kill the Jedi ambassadors sent to negotiate a settlement. When they failed, Sidious dispatched Darth Maul. Throughout the invasion, Sidious was manipulating both ends, egging on the normally non-confrontational Neimoidians into combat, and somehow stalling procedures in the Senate to keep the Republic from interfering.

Eventually, though, Naboo's young monarch Queen Amidala returned and led a resistance movement that defeated the mechanized Trade Federation army. Darth Maul was killed by Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Though on the surface it would appear the Sith agenda was defeated, the invasion had long-lasting implications for the Republic. In the resulting political upheaval, Supreme Chancellor Valorum was voted out of office, to be replaced by the ambitious Senator Palpatine. And despite the death of his prized apprentice, none of the Jedi knew for sure of Sidious' existence, or of his true identity.

Having lost his apprentice, Sidious' next gambit centered not on the raising of a new apprentice, but the converting a suitable Jedi candidate. His selection was the legendary yet disillusioned Jedi Master Count Dooku. Sidious lured Dooku to the dark side, granting him the Sith title of Darth Tyranus. Unlike Maul, Tyranus possessed more guile and craft in meeting Sidious' aims.

Darth Tyranus led a Separatist movement that split the Republic and created a tense era of political upheaval. He also saw to the creation of a secret clone army that would figure in Sidious' plan to destroy the Republic. When the time was right, Count Dooku emerged as the leader of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, a militarized force of dissidents challenging the Republic for autonomy. The Republic responded with their newly discovered army, and the Clone Wars erupted.

During the Clone Wars, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine seized further political power in the name of galactic security. Sidious was pleased -- for in truth, he was Palpatine, a secret he had kept from the galaxy for decades.

His identity was exposed during his quest for the ultimate Sith apprentice. Having closely monitored Anakin Skywalker for years, Sidious felt he was the ideal Sith to make true his vision of new society built upon Sith principals. As Palpatine, he befriended Skywalker, becoming a close friend and a fatherly authority to a youthful warrior often confused by the seemingly boundless power and abilities he had at his disposal. Sidious's silken words of advice would steer Anakin away from the guiding tenets of the Jedi Code. Skywalker grew to trust Palpatine, believing that the friendly politician had his best interests at heart.

Sidious carefully engineered Anakin's fall. To test Skywalker's mettle, Sidious' ruse involved the "kidnapping" of Chancellor Palpatine by his Confederacy underlings. During the mission to rescue the Chancellor, Anakin confronted Darth Tyranus. The two dueled, and at Palpatine's goading, Anakin killed the Sith Lord. Anakin had the power and was ready to use it, Sidious grinned. Anakin would be his.

While the leading Jedi Masters concentrated on tracking down the military commander of the Confederacy, Sidious further ensnared Anakin. Skywalker was torn by prophetic visions of his wife dying in childbirth. Knowing of these premonitions, Palpatine revealed to Anakin he was the gateway to arcane Sith knowledge, including the ability to prevent others from dying.

The Jedi eventually discovered Palpatine's Sith leanings and confronted the Chancellor. Sidious lashed out with blinding speed, brandishing a previously hidden lightsaber blade in a sudden strike that killed all of the Jedi Masters Mace Windu had assembled to arrest the Chancellor. With Anakin Skywalker's help, Sidious was able to defeat Mace, though he was severely scarred by the reflected power of his dark side lightning. To conceal his disfigured visage, Sidious returned to his simple Sith robes.

With Anakin committed to the dark side, Sidious took him as his apprentice. He renamed him Darth Vader and dispatched him to destroy the Jedi Temple. Then, using his authority as Chancellor Palpatine, he contacted the clone commanders scattered throughout the galaxy to enact Order 66 -- a secret, executive decree that identified every Jedi as a traitor to the Republic. The loyal clone troopers executed their treasonous Jedi generals in cold blood.

Sidious then concocted a tale of his disfigurement at the hands of rebellious Jedi, and went before the Senate. By the end of his rousing speech, supported by the thunderous applause of fervent patriots, the Republic was no more. Sidious had declared his new order as the first Galactic Empire. He was now known as Emperor Palpatine, supreme ruler of the galaxy.
Darth Sidious aka Palpatine
by Predeckis May 27, 2006
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