MEANWHILE, ABOARD THE CARRIER TANHAUSER...
Lord Obsidian stared out the bay window at the blue planet before him.
He absently fingered the black ring on his left hand with his black gloves.
No eyes on this pitiful planet would see his ship, black, against the black of space. As was his gathered fleet. He rested a scepter across his shoulder, black, a rod of solid obsidian tipped in...in...
Oh those jokers. He picked the purple gem out of the tip, laughing, and replaced it with a polished gem of solid black. He'd have to have a word with his minions, after torturing them a little, those scamps. Why, just last week, they brought him coffee with cream in it. But he liked his coffee like he liked his wenches:
...with just a little bit of sugar.
The voice of Inez behind him. "Lord Obsidian. Your guest has docked."
Obsidian smiled. It was time to meet his old friend.
The ramp of the shuttle lowered with a hiss. Six men in bright red robes carrying force-pikes emerged and stood silently in two rows, his friend's guards. Not that he needed them--behind Lord Obsidian stood two companies of the Obsidian Guard. Still, he felt it better to humor his friend.
Then, a hunched, aged figure in gray robes emerged, scowling from a wrinkled face.
Obsidian opened his arms. "Sidious! How have you been?"
Sidious answered with a cracking croak. "Dead. Yourself?"
"Oh, I've been worse."
Sidious did not answer at first. But after a few steps, the old Sith said, "And now I sense a new conflict. Tell me, are you conquering this pitiful planet?"
"Not yet. It seems the Order of Light has found a chosen one to oppose me."
"They usually do."
"And he has help," Obsidian said. "A desert prophet, a young wizard, a troubador, a monk, an Elven warrior, a mercenary, and one of your former students."
"It is of no concern," Sidious croaked, "I have gathered many allies in my exile. They will be joining us soon."
Obsidian smiled. "You brought friends."
"Indeed. I attend a weekly 12-Step program for people like ourselves, Obsidian. You should attend. It will take your mind off your stresses. Does you a world of good."
Obsidian squinted. "But...then, aren't you falling off the wagon to help me?"
"That is the nature of Balance, my young friend. When the Chosen Ones fall off, so must we. And now, Young Obsidian, let us take our ease. Tell me. Do you play..." he turned to look Obsidian dead in the eye through his horrible visage, "...Connect Four?"
"Are you sure we're doing this right?"
"I'm telling you, that's what the recipe book says." Storm Trooper 67-B showed the book to the others in his unit. They leaned in to look while 85-X continued to stir the cauldron. Thick black liquid bubbled within, billowing steam onto the metal floor.
Storm Trooper 23-G looked up from the book. "Yeah but...the blood of his most hated enemy?"
"Yeah," 55-A said, "Ever try to get blood from Harry Freakin' Potter?"
67-B shrugged. "Look, I'm just telling you what it says."
"Well we're going to have to find a substitute," 23-G said, "Because I am not going after Harry Potter."
85-X grimaced in frustration. "Can you guys pick up the pace? My arm's gettin' tired."
67-B sighed. "Alright, what have we got?"
The storm troopers all looked at each other, until 55-A said, "Well...I got this vial of Angelina Jolie's blood I took off Billy Bob Thornton once."
23-G shuddered. "Oooh."
"That's not bad," 67-G said, "Nobody likes her. Throw it in."
The hatch of the ornithopter opened. Feyd gave his brother Rabban a shove out into the docking bay of the Tanhauser. He stood tall, and took a deep breath. Rabban coughed, and tried to lean on him, but Feyd pushed him away.
"Ay. Don't stand so close to me."
"Sorry." Rabban dusted himself off. "So is this the place?"
"This is what the old fart said."
"Better be worth it," Rabban said. "I had a date tonight."
"Well I guess she'll have to refund you then." Feyd took off at a stride. "Let's find this Lord Obsidian."
"...And that's when I fired my PR man. If you control the entire galaxy and still can't get a headshot that doesn't look like fossilized prune, than something is truly wrong."
Obsidian shook his head, and dropped a checker in, creating three in a row. "I understand, Sidious. I truly do. It's so hard to find good Henchmen--"
"Ah! Speak of the devil." He turned to Inez.
"We're being hailed by a fleet of robots."
Sidious smirked. "They're with me."
Obsidian smiled. "Patch it through."
He turned to a large screen. On it appeared a tall strong man in black leather with short spiky hair and black sunglasses. In a thick accent, he said,
"Ah!" Lord Obsidian beamed, opening his arms. "Welcome, soldiers of Skynet! First, let me extend my compliments. I am a big fan of your work. Please dock in Docking bay 7. My men will see to your needs." He turned to Sidious. "Well done on that one. I've been trying to get in to talk to them since--"
The Terminator on screen said, "This had better be worth ouah trouble. We abandoned a trap to catch John Connuh to be here."
"Absolutely, sir. When this is over, I personally guarantee we will help you with your little annoyance. Obsidian out." He closed the screen.
Sidious scowled. "Yes. I saw the movie. They really aren't doing very well these days."
"Indeed. Well they have my sympathies."
"Mmm." Palpatine nodded.
The click of boot-heels on the metal floor. The accompanying voice was a fit male in his thirties, with just a hint of serpentine upperclass-ness. "Sidious, why have you summoned us here?"
Lord Obsidian turned to look. There stood a tall, slender man in Royal, Asian-cut clothes, his long black hair falling behind his head, the rest held in a topknot by a diadem in the shape of a flame. Next to him, a slender girl with a predatory smirk, and a tall strong bald man with an eye tatooed in the middle of his forehead.
Obsidian went wide-eyed. "Is that--"
"Ah. Ozai. Welcome. We've never actually met. I'm Darth Sidious. Azula has told me all about you." Sidious stood up. "Azula. Good to see you again."
"The pleasure's all yours," she drawled.
Sidious studied Ozai carefully. "Your voice is familiar. Have we perchance met before?"
"It is the voice of royal command." Ozai began to pace. "No doubt you are accustomed to hearing it from your own lips. Lord...Obsidian, is it?"
Obsidian beamed. "Yes, Your Majesty. And may I say what an honor it is to--"
"Yes, yes, we can get to pleasantries later." Ozai gave a dismissive wave as he stood before the bay window. "I've had my spies look into your little problem. These are no mere Chosen Ones we face. These are Chosen Ones who have emerged victorious. They've already defeated us, and come into their own power."
He turned to face Sidious.
"Tell me who else you have contacted."
Darth Sidious grinned hideously. "Only the best."
"Careful with that, you fool!" Gannondorf gave the moblin a slap up the side of his head. "That's an antique! It's older than your family!" Two Moblins carried the statue of Din off the shuttle, grunting under the weight.
Behind him, a wraith-wizard glided up. He spoke with the hiss of the undead. "Sire, the local guardsmen are helping to unload our cargo."
"Excellent. See that that statue is presented to Lord Obsidian as a gift. Do you have Sidious's present?"
"Yes Sire." He proffered a box of Legend of Zelda Monopoly. "Collector's edition. It awaits only your autograph."
"Perfect. Hold on to that for me." He looked around at the shuttle bay, spying two men he knew well, young red-heads in desert stillsuits. "Aha! Feyd! Rabban!"
Feyd grinned. "Gannondorf! You old blackguard, how the hells are you, mate?!" He took Gannondorf's hand and pulled him into a manly hug.
"Splendid, Feyd. Splendid. And your uncle?"
"He couldn't make it. He's gettin' his skin done."
"Oho. I see. Well I'm glad to see you in any case. Shall we go see about this friend of Sidious's?"
"You couldn't get the Baron." Ozai glared at Sidious.
Sidious scowled. "The Baron is incompetent. His nephews--"
"His nephews are inexperienced! Baron Harkonnen may have been physically inept, but he was a brilliant strategist!"
"Well what do you want me to do, Ozai, barge in and drag him out by his hover belt?!"
Ozai sighed and turned away. "At least tell me you got Princess Calleigh."
Ozai sighed peevishly. "No."
Lord Obsidian turned toward the click of a staff on his floor. The figure moved in shadow at first, but soon emerged.
Sidious said, "I found one of us who was not defeated."
The staff was held in the hands of a tall, slender mage with a bald head and a short white beard. Arcane symbolds covered his robes.
"Lord Obsidian, Phoenix-King Ozai, may I present, the only man to defeat The Bard."
The old mage grinned. He spoke with a voice smooth as silk. "I am called...Mangar."