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Master Azronger
Master Azronger
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SS - Darth Maul (Ethan) vs. Darth Plagueis (Azronger) Empty SS - Darth Maul (Ethan) vs. Darth Plagueis (Azronger)

January 15th 2023, 7:10 pm
Darth Maul and Darth Plagueis are both as of The Phantom Menace. No other rules as of now unless new ones are agreed upon by both parties. Ethan is opening.

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SS - Darth Maul (Ethan) vs. Darth Plagueis (Azronger) Sheev_sig_3
Reynard (Ethanion)
Reynard (Ethanion)

SS - Darth Maul (Ethan) vs. Darth Plagueis (Azronger) Empty Re: SS - Darth Maul (Ethan) vs. Darth Plagueis (Azronger)

January 18th 2023, 10:32 am
SS - Darth Maul (Ethan) vs. Darth Plagueis (Azronger) 1019854026
Master Azronger
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SS - Darth Maul (Ethan) vs. Darth Plagueis (Azronger) Empty Re: SS - Darth Maul (Ethan) vs. Darth Plagueis (Azronger)

January 19th 2023, 8:22 pm
Message reputation : 100% (3 votes)

PREFACE

I realize I have requested you keep the debate concise and thus not unnecessarily spam 500 scans, so at first I took the whole “499 reasons” thing as merely a trollish jab and a means to bloat the post. However, in the event that you do genuinely believe everything you have posted is of relevance, and that you have written all this as a sincere attempt to sway me, I must sadly say you have infinitely more legwork to do. What I see when I look at your post is a heap of scans and quotes with vague and generic descriptions that are then used to draw highly specific conclusions, and/or just extreme misreadings of the material. What I am therefore saying, in essence, is that I do not at all understand how you could have gotten from point A to point B in your head; how your evidence is meant to support your conclusion. And as long as I do not understand that, I can never be convinced of your position.

Even were I to subscribe to your interpretation fully, it would still have to compete against my own evidence for Plagueis, to which I assign more value regardless. Although I myself was once an avid proponent of the scaling autism that pervades your arguments and opinions, I haven’t been on board with such rigidity for a few years now. I no longer believe that the most accurate assessment of the characters is found in taking feats and statements at face value; instead, I view both as pieces to a puzzle that, along with authorial intent as well as narrative and thematic cues, constitute an asymptote to truth. I would like to clarify, though, that I am much more partial to the author’s intuition rather than their conscious opinions, because by my estimation most authors are retarded. I likewise believe Leland Chee and most of Lucasfilm staff are retarded, so I do not adhere to their mandates as binding rules. The strongest type of evidence to me is the Star Wars universe as it is presented in the stories themselves; mainstream sourcebook statements that comment on the narrative rather than being part of it are valuable but secondary; and obscure candy bar quotes and stats are at the bottom of the barrel.

With all that in mind, I hope it becomes apparent why I believe what I do as you read my post. I also want to clarify that I will only be addressing the parts of your post that I consider to be directly pertinent to Darth Maul vs. Darth Plagueis, and ignore everything else, although I won’t shy away from giving a lengthy dissertation given you’ve already opened the floodgates on this debate being long. In any case, if you feel differently about the relevance of the ignored content, you can explain how in your rebuttal. My silence in such instances does not equate to a concession, and I retain the right to contest any and all your claims, that will go unaddressed in this post, in future posts.

NARRATIVE

Ethan wrote:So the Jedi have the hidden Sith in an arm-bar, and Maul's combat training breaks through it…
Why didn't Bane take on the Jedi back in the day? Why didn't any previous generation of Master and Apprentice just fight the Jedi openly?
Maul is snapping out of the Sith's restrictions because he's strong and because Sheev is a senator who can... do something I guess.
This is when the Sith decide to attack the Jedi and destroy them, because Maul is strong. And come TPM, he's free to do whatever he wants.
So that's my why I think it makes sense for Maul to be the best Sith of the Banite lineage from an IU and narrative standpoint rant.
The Banite Sith, until the time of Darth Sidious, are not powerful enough to reveal themselves to the Jedi, they have been forced into hiding by the Jedi. Maul's combative ability lifts that restriction. This runs concurrent to Jedi growth.
Also the Sith in general grow, they are looking for an opportunity to take down the Jedi, that's Maul btw. Plagueis couldn't do it but Maul can.And this is a Georgian, film concept, woven into the story itself, the Sith grow and bide their time until Maul reveals himself. This is timeless, Plagueis does not change this in EU sources because he can't.

There is absolutely nothing in the actual stories that supports your interpretation. If you want to claim this is “a Georgian, film concept, woven into the story itself” then you need to show where that manifests in the story, because I’m not seeing it. The Banite Sith have always been able to fight the best Jedi of their time directly, even since Bane himself. The reason they are forced into hiding is obviously that they can’t fight the entire Order by themselves, and the whole point is to use subterfuge to dismantle the Republic from within - which is what we see the beginnings of in The Phantom Menace: the reason the Sith reveal themselves is not because Maul is uniquely skilled or powerful compared to his predecessors, but because Palpatine is finally reaching a political position where it’s just a matter of time before the Republic falls. That’s the narrative around all the TPM-centric stories; I have not seen anything that singles out Maul’s prowess as the reason the Sith are making their move. It’s just your personal interpretations of a bunch of sourcebook quotes, which are at worst complete misreadings, and at the absolute best only equally valid to the way 99% of people in the history of this community have read them: my way.

1. Bane fights in high likelihood the best Jedi duelist of the time, Raskta Lsu, aided by another one of the era’s greats, Valenthyne Farfalla, and later by Johun Othone, all bolstered by battle meditation. I’ve underlined all the parts where Bane would have one-shot them instantly (or in general displays vast dominance and superiority) if they didn’t have the battle meditation amp or if they weren’t saved by each other.

Star Wars: Darth Bane - Rule of Two wrote:Master Raskta Lsu, an Echani, sat at the controls of her ship. She had the alabaster skin, pure white hair, and silver eyes common to all her species. She was almost as tall as Johun, with the muscles and physique one would expect in a species that valued physical combat as the highest form of art and personal expression. Named in honor of the legendary Echani warrior Raskta Fenni, acclaimed by many to be the greatest duelist of her time, Master Raskta had spent her life honing her martial skills so that she could one day equal, and even surpass, her namesake.

She had achieved the rare and prestigious rank of Jedi Weapons Master. Eschewing all other fields of study and forsaking the development of her other Force talents to focus exclusively on the lightsaber and combat, she had transformed herself into a living weapon.

Now tasked with training apprentices in the forms of lightsaber combat, Raskta had been part of the campaign on Ruusan. Wielding a blue-bladed lightsaber in each hand, and shunning any form of armor, she was a terrifying figure to behold on the battlefield. Johun vividly remembered her carving great swaths of destruction through the heart of the enemy ranks, leaving a litter of bodies in her wake. It was said that, by the end of the war, as many Sith Lords had fallen under her twin blades as had been killed by the thought bomb.

Star Wars: Darth Bane - Rule of Two wrote:It had been many years since Farfalla had fought while empowered by Worror's battle meditation. He had forgotten how much quicker and stronger the Ithorian's amazing talent made him feel. The Force flowed through him with greater power, filling him with its might. Yet even with their enhanced abilities, he wondered if they would survive the coming battle.

As they burst into the room a man who could only have been Darth Bane charged recklessly toward them. In any other instance the move would have spelled a quick end to the encounter, as Raskta raced ahead of Farfalla to carve the Sith to pieces.

Raska's blue blades flickered too quickly for the eye to see, neutralizing her enemy's initial, wild attack then landing half a dozen lethal blows to his chest and abdomen. But instead of toppling, the big man kept coming, never even breaking stride. He would have plowed straight into Raskta, trampling her under his heavy boots, had she not cartwheeled to the side at the last possible instant.

Bane never stopped, his momentum carrying him straight toward Farfalla. The Jedi Master had a moment to register the strange armor coat of hard, shiny shells he wore beneath his clothes. Then he, too, leapt to the side to avoid being crushed, surviving only because his reflexes were heightened by Worror's power.

Raskta was already back on her feet and flying through the air toward him. Bane spun and threw a wave of invisible dark side power at her. A Weapons Master was not skilled at defending against enemy Force attacks. The impact of the wave would have plastered her against the wall and crushed her had Farfalla not thrown up a shield to protect the Echani. Even so her muscular body was plucked from the air and hurtled backward, though she twisted and turned so she landed on her feet.

Farfalla saw the Sith Lord turn toward him, sensing the intervention that had saved Raskta's life. Bane unleashed a barrage of Sith lightning, gathering and releasing his power at the speed of thought. The Jedi threw up a Force barrier to shield himself, but the electricity tore right through it and arced toward him. Then suddenly Raskta was there to save his life, repaying a debt that was only a few seconds old as she threw herself in front of him. Fueled by Worror's battle meditation, she switched styles seamlessly, and her arms and blades became a blur as they carved figure eights in the air to catch and absorb the bolts of dark side energy.

Their enemy fell upon them again, following up the lightning with pure aggression. Raskta rushed ahead of Farfalla to meet this second charge. She crouched low, viciously slashing at his thighs and calves, attempting to leave their opponent crawling legless on the floor. Her blades carved through his boots and sliced wide gashes in his pants, only to reveal more of the chitinous shells.

Bane brought his lightsaber down at the Echani, who crossed her blades into an X, attempting to block and trap her opponent's weapon at the point of intersection. But the Sith's move was only a feint meant to distract her, and at the last instant he pulled his weapon back and swung an elbow around to catch her in the ribs. The contact lifted her off her feet and sent her sprawling. Then he was past her, and bearing down on Farfalla.

The Jedi Master dropped into an elegant defensive stance to meet the charge.

"The handle!" Raskta gasped as she scrambled to her feet.

The warning caused Farfalla to notice the hook-handled lightsaber of his enemy, and the unusual grip it required. This would alter the nature of his attacks, causing them to come in from odd and unfamiliar angles. In the regimented and hyperprecise world of Jedi-Sith lightsaber duels, it transformed his style into something unique and unexpected.

Valenthyne recognized, processed, and reacted to this information in a fraction of a second, allowing him to adjust his own weapon's course just enough to block a strike that otherwise would have slipped along the edge of his blade and taken his arm off at the elbow. Even so, the strength behind the attack tore Farfalla's golden blade from his grip, sending his lightsaber skittering across the floor. Unarmed and helpless before his enemy, he was saved by Raskta.

Knowing that her lightsabers couldn't penetrate Bane's armor, she slid in from behind and scissor-kicked his legs out from under him. He toppled over backward, turning his fall into a roll that ended with him back on his feet. However, the distraction allowed Farfalla to look over and reach out with the Force, calling his weapon back into his hand.

He spun back to the fight to see that the Echani Weapons Master had taken the offensive, sending quick flicks of her blue blades toward Bane's unprotected face - the only spot on his body seemingly not covered by the impenetrable shells. Remarkably, Bane was giving ground.

"Stay back!" she shouted at Farfalla. "You'll just get in the way."

Farfalla did as he was told, gathering the energies of the light side to throw up another protective Force barrier should Bane try to unleash his dark side powers against the Echani.

She seemed to be everywhere at once - in front of Bane, beside him, behind him, circling low, leaping to come in high, deflecting his blade with one of her own then stabbing three quick times in succession at his eyes. The big man's head ducked and bobbed, twisting and turning to avoid her blows as he tried to mount a counteroffensive.

Raskta's mastery of her blades was unparalleled, but even with her talents augmented by Worror's battle meditation she wasn't able to land a telling blow on such a small target through Bane's defenses. Still, the ferocity of her new strategy had turned the momentum in her favor ... or so Farfalla thought.

Bane continued his retreat, circling away from Raskta's blades, then suddenly turned and ran straight toward the unarmed Ithorian standing just inside the door of the room.

Battle meditation required Master Worror's complete focus; there was no chance for him to mount any type of defense. If Bane cut him down, the others would lose the only advantage that gave them any chance of surviving the encounter.

Farfalla released the power he'd been gathering in a single concentrated burst. Bane was suddenly encased in a shimmering stasis field of light-side energy, freezing him where he stood. But his command of the dark side was too powerful for it to hold him for more than a split second. The shimmering field exploded into fragments as the Dark Lord broke free, though the momentary delay had allowed the Echani to place herself between the Ithorian and the Sith.

Raskta's blades hummed and sang as she engaged him again, determined to keep him from reaching Master Worror at all costs.

He's too strong, Farfalla realized, even as he ran to help her. Both physically and in the power of the dark side. It's like trying to fight a force of nature.

"Johun! Sarro! We need reinforcements!"

[...]

Johun turned his head at the sound of Farfalla's voice.

"Go," Sarro shouted at him. "I can handle this one."

The young Jedi looked over to the far side of the room and instantly recognized what was happening. Master Worror was in danger; he had to be protected or his battle meditation - and any hope of victory - would be lost.

He leapt across the room, using the Force to propel him through the air so that he landed only a few meters from where Raskta was dueling Darth Bane, desperately trying to drive him back and away from where Master Worror stood but a meter or two behind her. He hesitated before attacking, noticing that the Sith Lord's skin was covered with a strange, crustaceous growth.

"Go for the face!" Farfalla shouted, arriving on the scene and throwing himself into the battle as Johun did the same.

Together the three of them held the Sith Lord at bay: Farfalla on the left flank, Johun on the right, and Raskta in the center. Between blocks and parries they cut and stabbed at his face, their combined efforts finally forcing their enemy into a defensive stance.

The young Jedi marveled at the speed and savagery of Raskta's blades. And while Johun's own clumsy efforts had actually seemed to impede Sarro when they fought side by side, Raskta appeared to thrive off his presence. When he went high, she went low. If he came from the left, she came from the right. It was partly a function of her choice of weapon: individually each of her lightsabers was more precise and accurate than Sarro's giant double blades. But it was more than that. Her reactions were so fast, her combat instincts so pure, that she was able to sense and anticipate what he was going to do even as it happened, then use his attacks to her own advantage.

On her opposite side Farfalla struck with clean, elegant blows, his form perfect as he harried Bane's right flank. Yet though they were able to hold their ground, they couldn't drive him back or defeat him.

They were at an impasse, none of their attacks able to connect with the one vulnerable part of Bane's anatomy. Then Johun caught a glimpse of white flesh peeking out from the seam between the Sith's armored gloves and the strange shells on his forearm. The gap was narrow, but it was large enough for a well-aimed blade to penetrate.

He slashed at his new target. Amplified by Worror's power, the Force flowed through him and guided his blade home. The contact wasn't perfect; his lightsaber glanced off the edge of the armored shells so that he only made shallow contact with the skin beneath. Instead of severing the hand, he merely sliced deep enough to sever nerves and tendons.

Bane bellowed in rage as his weapon slipped from his grasp, the wound leaving his fingers limp and powerless. But before Johun or any of the others had a chance to finish off their unarmed opponent, they were blown backward by an explosion of dark side energy, their enemy's power fueled by the sharp, sudden pain of his wound.

Lying on the ground ten meters away, Johun watched in helpless horror as the Dark Lord's lightsaber leapt from the floor and flew back into his hand. Amazingly, his fingers wrapped themselves around the hilt and reignited the crimson blade, his injuries somehow healing almost instantly.

There was no longer anyone standing between Bane and the Ithorian; like Johun, Farfalla and Raskta had both been thrown clear. The Sith Lord raised his blade to end Worror's life, and Johun thrust out with the Force.

He knew he wasn't strong enough to penetrate Bane's defenses, but the big man wasn't his target. Instead, the powerful push struck Worror, throwing him into the corner as the lightsaber strike that would have cut him in two swished harmlessly through the air.

Johun felt his strength and energy plummet, A wave of exhaustion and fatigue overwhelmed him, the beneficial effects of the battle meditation vanishing as Worror's concentration was broken. But the Jedi Master was still alive, and Farfalla and Raskta were back on their feet. If they could hold Bane off for just a few seconds, the Ithorian could resume his meditations and restore their advantage.

[...]

As he fell to the ground, Zannah turned her attention to Bane on the far side of the room. He was single-handedly battling three Jedi, slowly pushing them back toward where the Ithorian lay crumpled in a corner.

Gathering the dark side around her, Zannah created a concealing cloak to mask her power as she had done at the Jedi Temple. While she did so, she saw the Ithorian slowly rise to his feet and close his eyes in concentration. She felt the surge of light-side energy rolling across the room, as did Bane's opponents. Suddenly invigorated, they backed her Master up against a wall, concentrating their attacks on his face and the joints of his wrist where the orbalisks had left tiny gaps in his armor.

Zannah rushed to her Master's aid, coming up silently behind the Jedi. Her presence hidden by her spell of concealment, they never sensed her coming. She struck the Echani down first, thrusting her blade forward so that it pierced the Jedi's back and ran her through. The Echani cried out and slumped forward, dropping at Zannah's feet. The men on either side half turned toward her, momentarily forgetting the opponent directly in front of them. Bane took the opportunity to slice off the weapon hand of the man with the green lightsaber. He screamed and dropped to his knees, clutching his cauterized stump. The image pulled Zannah's mind back to the cave on Ruusan where she had taken her cousin's hand.

With a shake of her head, she dispelled the memory. Her distraction had given the young Jedi a chance to roll clear of the battle. Zannah hesitated, uncertain whether to finish him off or help her Master against the man he was still battling. The question became moot a moment later when Bane swatted the Jedi's golden lightsaber aside with his orbalisk-encrusted left forearm, then removed his foe's head from his body with his lightsaber.

2. 52 BBY Sidious muses that he and Plagueis are more than a match for the most powerful Jedi individually, only they can’t take on the combined might of the entire Order.

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis wrote:Elsewhere on the broad avenue-at key intersections, taxi stops, and mag-lev exits-stood groups of Jedi, a few with the hilts of their lightsabers conspicuously visible. For Palpatine the sight of so many of them in one place was at once exhilarating and sobering. Though thoroughly cloaked in the everyday, he could feel their collective pride trickle into him through the Force. Only the baseness of Coruscant's populace, the almost sheer absence of anything natural, kept the world from being as strong in the light as Korriban was in the dark. While he accepted that he and Plagueis were more than equal to the most powerful of the Jedi Order, he understood that they were no match for their combined strength - the Sith imperative notwithstanding. The Jedi would fall only with the full collaboration of the dark side; that was, only when the dark side of the Force was ready and willing to conspire in their downfall.

– – –

Ethan wrote:Well we know they were waiting for the birth of a Sith Lord powerful enough to return them from hiding, alright. Maul can do that too but moving on...
So Sidious is the first example of a Sith Lord born with the power/potential to reveal the Sith to the Jedi, but this phenomenon isn't limited to just him. This is something that happens because of the time the Sith find themselves in, and maybe to a degree, the work of the Sith before them.
Notably in these descriptions of Banite scaling, there is no requirement to be the Sith Master to be stronger than the previous generation of Sith Lords, simply that members of the Order expand their powers and are more powerful than their predecessors. The fulfillment of this doctrine is still to create a Sith Lord capable of defeating the Jedi and conquering the galaxy (I wonder who that is) and this process is described in sources about Maul, or relating to the first battle between Jedi and Sith on Tatooine.
Sidious was stronger than the nameless Sith Master of the early 2000s, as was Darth Maul.

Yes, it obviously isn’t a prerequisite for Banite Sith to be Masters to be greater than some of their predecessors as otherwise they would never be able to challenge their own Masters, but nothing you’ve posted proves Maul is a combative equal or superior of Sidious - you have quotes about Maul being the deadliest Sith warrior in the galaxy, a peerless swordsman, and a nonpareil warrior (which are addressed in the next section), but beyond those all you have is this bizarre narrative about Maul revealing himself to the Jedi that your own faulty intuition has fabricated. The fulfilment of the Banite doctrine is so obviously Sidious and not Maul I shouldn’t even have to post these quotes - but seeing as you yourself posted some of them and still think Maul is somehow relevant, I suppose it’s necessary:

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Star Wars: Labyrinth of Evil wrote:Aged, experienced, diplomatic, informative, brilliant with a lightsaber … Yes, all of these things. And not unacquainted with the power of the dark side. For that reason he understood just how dangerous this new Sith Lord was. He hadn't had a sense of that danger until he had fought Dooku on Geonosis.

Then he understood.

In self-exile for a thousand years, the Sith had not merely been waiting for an appropriate time to reemerge and exact revenge, but for the birth of one strong enough to embrace the dark side fully and become its dedicated instrument. This was Sidious: powerful enough to hide in plain sight. Powerful enough to instruct his apprentice, Dooku, to expose him, and still remain hidden from the Jedi.

Darth Sidious is the “one” who is powerful enough to return the Sith from hiding that the Banites had been waiting the birth of, “the Sith’s revenge” incarnate, the “fulfilment” of the prophecy of the Sith Order returning to prominence due to being “capable of exacting the Sith’s revenge on the Jedi,” the “one strong enough to embrace the dark side fully and became its dedicated instrument.” When Maul says that at last they’ll reveal themselves and have revenge, that’s really just Sidious revealing himself indirectly through Maul as an extension of his will - to think Maul has any agency either narratively or thematically is missing the point by such a gargantuan margin that it’s honestly below what literal normies would intuit when they watch the movies, and I don’t mean that as an insult. I genuinely think you’re just looking at all this incorrectly. The quote from Beware the Sith even outright contradicts the idea of Maul standing alongside Sidious in this respect: “It has been many centuries since a Sith Lord was powerful enough to step out from the shadows [...] Now, as Emperor Palpatine, he has emerged from hiding and placed the galaxy under Sith control.” It highlights Palpatine’s coronation as Emperor during Revenge of the Sith as the event that marks his unveiling to the galaxy.

– – –

Ethan wrote:And despite sensing the disturbance, and relating this to the strength of the Sith Lords in post, they cannot after ten years figure out whether Darth Maul was the Sith Master or the Apprentice.
Everyone sensed the above, balanced that against Maul's personal strength, thought about and discussed it for ten years, and then another 3.
Darth Maul's personal power and combat ability is in-line with the power detectable from the Sith Lords in the galaxy, which involves a disturbance so severe that all who are sensitive to the Force in the galaxy could detect it. 10-13 years of reflection on the abilities of Maul and the particulars of the disturbance + its growth do nothing to cast light on this mystery. Maul could very well be the Sith Master in the eyes of the Jedi. (Which is also another point against any prior Banite Sith as it is their power tipping the galaxy into imbalance).

The cosmic dark side gains strength from other things than the Sith’s personal power in the Force. The quotes from Labyrinth of Evil you yourself posted even state this plainly, with Yoda himself being aware of it. Obviously if the Jedi discover that the Sith have survived they’re going to suspect that one or more of their number is responsible for the current disturbance, but in their eyes it’s tied to manipulating background events more than Force power. It’s a blatant false analogy, as well as a fallacy of hasty generalization, you’re committing in comparing Sidious sensing Luke Skywalker and Asajj Ventress as growing focal points in the Force, to the broad political, cultural, and moral decay of the Republic over the last few centuries as the Jedi thinking Maul might have done that by virtue of his own Force power. There’s not one scrap of evidence you’ve posted that ties it to Force power; none of the quotes you’ve posted even remotely hint at that.

The Jedi were actually skeptical of the notion that an individual Sith Lord could unbalance the Force by themselves, and it’s not until Yoda fights Dooku on Geonosis and they confirm Sidious’s existence that they realize the true depth of the danger he poses - if Dooku is just the apprentice, then the Master must be a whole order of magnitude more powerful than they had believed if they initially thought it might be Maul. Before they found out Sidious was real, they even thought it was more likely that Dooku was Maul’s Master all the way back in The Phantom Menace even when he was still part of the Jedi Order, than for Maul to be the Master. You even posted that scan from Son of Dathomir yourself, and I have no idea how you somehow took that as a positive for Maul.

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Star Wars: Legacy of the Jedi wrote:"Count Dooku's fall has troubled us all," Obi-Wan acknowledged. "Now we have a great and powerful enemy." His thoughts turned to his battle with Dooku. He had never met such power in battle before. He had never come up against something that had completely overpowered him. Even meeting the Sith Lord who had killed Qui-Gon had not been the same.

Star Wars: Labyrinth of Evil wrote:The current war had been the result of a thousand years of careful planning by the Sith—generations of bequeathing knowledge of the dark side from mentor to apprentice. Rarely more than two in each generation, from Darth Bane forward, Master and apprentice would devote themselves to harnessing the strength that flowed from the dark side, and to making the most of every opportunity to allow darkness to wax. Facilitating war, murder, corruption, injustice, and avarice when- and wherever possible.

Analogous to introducing a covert malignancy to the body politic of the Republic, then monitoring its spread from one organ to another until the mass reached such size that it began to disrupt vital systems …

The Sith had learned from their own internecine struggles that systems were often brought down from within when power became their reason for being. The greater the threat to that power, the tighter the threatened would cling.

That had been the case with the Jedi Order.

For two hundred years before the coming of Darth Sidious the power of the dark side had been gaining strength, and yet the Jedi had made only minimal efforts to thwart it. The Sith were pleased by the fact that the Jedi, too, had been allowed to grow so powerful, because, in the end, their sense of entitlement would blind them to what was occurring in their midst.

Star Wars: Labyrinth of Evil wrote:“A stern Master Dooku was, to Qui-Gon and others,” Yoda began. “Powerful he was; skilled, disdainful. More important, convinced that lowering the shroud of the dark side was. Signs there were, all about us, long before to the Temple you came; long before Qui-Gon came. Gross injustices, favoritism, corruption … More and more, called the Jedi were to enforce the peace. More and more deaths there were. Out of control events were becoming.”

“Did the Council sense that the Sith had returned?”

“Never absent they were, Obi-Wan. But stronger suddenly. Closer to the surface. Spoke much of the prophecy, Dooku did.”

Star Wars: Labyrinth of Evil wrote:Today was not one of those days. Today the current was interrupted by eddies and whirlpools, hydraulic traps whose roar overpowered the voices Yoda sought to hear. Today the current was not pellucid, but muddied by red soil eroded from distant shores, treacherous with obstacles, tainted.

Though he was scarcely aware of it, his eyelids were squeezed tight, his eyeballs dancing beneath as if incapable of focusing on any one thing. He had an image of himself drawing aside a veil only to find another, and another beyond that.

The dark side frustrated his every effort to see clearly.

The experience was still something new to him.

Even though he’d had centuries to grow accustomed to foreboding, he had lived far longer without it. The dark side never completely disappeared—it scratched at the surface like an insect crawling across a transparisteel panel—and he had been able to sense its incremental increases in strength when the Jedi erred, or when the Republic erred, and soon the two were hand in hand.

Drawn into the mistakes of the Republic, the Jedi had been. But knowingly, and sometimes with full complicity. Allowed the dark side to take root, the Jedi had. Allowed arrogance to infect the Order, the Jedi had. A priority, holding on to power had become. Inflated by their own conquests, the Jedi became.

Some Jedi believed that Yoda wasn’t aware of these things, or that he hadn’t done enough to stem the tide of the dark side. Some believed that the Council had acted improperly or, worse, ineptly. What they failed to understand was that, once rooted, the growth of the dark side was inexorable, and could only be reversed by the one born to restore balance.

Yoda was not that one.

Aged, experienced, diplomatic, informative, brilliant with a lightsaber … Yes, all of these things. And not unacquainted with the power of the dark side. For that reason he understood just how dangerous this new Sith Lord was. He hadn’t had a sense of that danger until he had fought Dooku on Geonosis.

Then he understood.

In self-exile for a thousand years, the Sith had not merely been waiting for an appropriate time to reemerge and exact revenge, but for the birth of one strong enough to embrace the dark side fully and become its dedicated instrument. This was Sidious: powerful enough to hide in plain sight. Powerful enough to instruct his apprentice, Dooku, to expose him, and still remain hidden from the Jedi.

Basically, the strength of the dark side in the moment stays constant; it’s merely the Jedi’s perspective that shifts upon these revelations. Once again, things are all about Sidious (what a shocker) rather than Maul.

– – –

Ethan wrote:That pretty well covers that specific line of thought, why I think narratively it makes sense for Maul to be a greater combatant than Sidious. Now lets just look at IU and OOU evidence for this being true.

Did it never cross your mind that Sidious is simply choosing not to step into the warrior role, rather than being incapable of it, because of his own political station? If we go strictly by your duality quotes, then one would get the impression Sidious is not a fighter at all during The Phantom Menace… except we know he is thanks to other material, such as the quotes suggesting he’s a more skilled duelist than Maul that you yourself posted. Sidious occupying the role of the grand strategist and Maul the role of the hands-on enforcer of his will isn’t mutually exclusive with Sidious being capable of kicking Maul’s ass in a fight.

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis wrote:“And yet that also turned out for the best, for even after all you taught me, I might not have been able to take the final steps to the chancellorship without your help in manipulating the Senate and bringing into play your various and sundry allies. If it’s any consolation, I’m being honest when I say that I could not have succeeded without you. But now that we’ve won the race, I’ve no need for a co-chancellor. Your presence, much less your unnecessary counsel, would only confuse matters. I have Maul to do what the risk of discovery might not allow me to do while I execute the rest of the Grand Plan: growing an army, fomenting rebellion and fabricating intergalactic war, corralling the Jedi and catching them unawares …

“Rest easy in your grave, Plagueis. In the end, I will be proclaimed Emperor. The Sith will have had their revenge, and I will rule the galaxy.”

QUOTES

Ethan wrote:So that about covers the IU reasoning for why I think Maul has to be much stronger than virtually every Banite Sith, with some quotes that would include even TPM Plagueis sprinkled throughout.

I’ll go through the ones I believe someone could see as endorsing Maul > Plagueis:

1. Star Wars Big Flapbook: ”The Sith were believed extinct, but Darth Maul is proof that they’re back - and deadlier than ever” refers to the Sith Order collectively as being deadlier than ever before, but it doesn’t make internal comparisons between its individual members. To use an analogy, if Russia dropped a nuke with a yield of 200 megatons, it would be proof that their nuclear arsenal is deadlier than ever, but they could simultaneously have two 500-megaton nukes in store and the statement would still hold true. Similarly, Maul can be proof of the Sith Order’s unprecedented formidability while being its weakest current member - in fact, if Maul were the weakest (which he is), it would drive the point home even further, which the quote itself seems to recognize by exclaiming ”His skills as a warrior seem to exceed even those of the great Qui-Gon Jinn (and Maul is just the apprentice).” As an addendum, I’d also point out that the quote notes the Sith ”were believed extinct” but Maul is ”proof” to the contrary (and of them being deadlier than ever) to whomever believed it, presumably the Jedi - it isn’t comparing Maul to Plagueis as they never knew the latter existed outside of his public persona of Hego Damask.

2. Power of the Jedi: Darth Maul and Darth Vader: It’s unclear what ”dangerous” in this case means. I’m willing to believe combat ability is part of it, but it’s evidently not the sole factor given how Maul gets his ass kicked by Sidious, and Tyranus has numerous statements and comparisons favoring him over Maul in a fight. If Maul can be the most dangerous Sith alongside Vader but still have superiors in practically every facet of Force combat imaginable, it doesn’t definitionally restrict Plagueis in any way.

3. Star Wars: Ultimate Duels: ”It is clear from this duel that the Sith are very much alive and more powerful than ever” is syntactically the same as the first quote from the Big Flapbook. Maul can be evidence of the Sith’s increased power while still being the Sith’s weakest member, and given the phrasing ”the Sith were believed to be extinct” but the duel makes it ”clear” they are ”very much alive,” I’d argue it’s also from the limited perspective of the Jedi who have never met Plagueis (even going by just the movie, the audience knew the Sith were alive before the duel).

4. Star Wars: Insider #132: In terms of colloquial speech, ”get profiles of the deadliest Sith Lords” doesn’t have to mean that the first to nth deadliest Sith of all time are those n Sith with profiles in Beware the Sith, similar to how, to use an analogy, “in Harvard you’ll study with the smartest students in the world” may at most mean the highest average. However, seeing as you’ve gotten into technicalities with Plagueis being mentioned in the source but not being given a dedicated profile, then nowhere is it stated Maul is among ”the deadliest Sith Lords” like you attest. It’s possible for ”the deadliest Sith Lords” to have their profiles and for other Sith who do not fall into that group to have their own profiles as well, and the statement ”get profiles of the deadliest Sith Lords” would still hold true. The deadliest Sith could just be Sidious and Tyranus, but not Maul and Vader. The definition of “deadly” is “causing or able to cause death,” so it doesn’t have to refer to personal power in the Force or prowess in battle either; Palpatine and Dooku are the heads of the two largest military forces ever and have conspired together to incite a false war spanning the entire galaxy, so they could easily fit the bill that way. So, Maul may not be included in the quote in the first place, and the definition of the quote isn’t confined to personal combat ability. Plagueis could beat the shit out of Maul and this quote would stand just fine.

– – –

Ethan wrote:“Here are two quotes that put Darth Sidious above (Tatooine) Maul in personal combat. ”

`“Maul is equally as formidable to Sidious, and we can take this in the simplest possible way and say that they are equally formidable in battle, however in context they speak of Sidious power, in backing other entities, in his manipulation skills and in his ability to set events into motion, I believe this is meant to speak more to their overall formidability as characters.”

Why are you bringing up quotes that don’t support your case? Unless you believe a quote directly states TPM Maul >/= TPM Sidious or TPM Maul >/= Plagueis then at best it’s worthless to me, and at worst it supports my viewpoint and detracts from yours.

– – –

Ethan wrote:Maul does not believe that he has much at all to learn from Sidious when it comes to battle.

"Thus far your apprenticeship has been impeccable. You have never wavered in your intent, and you have executed your tasks flawlessly. Your skill as a sword master is peerless."
-Darth Maul: Saboteur

Alone in his secret chambers, Darth Sidious meditated on this latest set of circumstances.
In many ways Darth Maul was an exemplary acolyte. His loyalty was unquestionable and unshakable; Sidious knew that, if he were to command it, Maul would sacrifice his life without a second’s hesitation. And his skills as a warrior were nonpareil.
-Star Wars: Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter

Regarding the first quote, Maul can simply be mistaken as Sidious is known to keep secrets from his apprentices and believes it is the job of the apprentice to wrest all that they can from their Master rather than it being the duty of the Master to impart all they know to the apprentice. Or it can mean that Maul has learned from Sidious all about battle that can be taught - Kreia says the same thing to the Exile very early in the game, but obviously the Exile has a lot of growth to do before she catches up to Kreia. Basically, there’s what can be learned didactically, and then there’s a stage beyond it that’s about honing your power in your personal way, independent of the influence of your Master.

SS - Darth Maul (Ethan) vs. Darth Plagueis (Azronger) Image



And more broadly for all these quotes, none of them state Maul can actually beat Sidious in a fight. Lightsaber duels are reliant on more than just skill: Force power and mastery, namely. Maul can be as or more skilled than Sidious in the technical sense and Sidious can still be capable of stomping him in a fight. It’s also up in the air whether Sidious is even including himself in those statements when he’s just colloquially praising Maul rather than necessarily making hyperliteral proclamations. There's one OOU quote that you posted that implies Sidious is more skilled than Maul.

– – –

Ethan wrote:Second, there's the criminal syndicate Black Sun, which threatens to complicate Darth Sidious' plan. His solution: to dispatch the deadliest Sith warrior in the galaxy.

There are two ways to address this, one without factoring in author intent, and another with it. If we go by the former and simply take this at face value, then one can just point out Sidious isn’t a Sith warrior in the archetypal sense and thus isn’t included. You might be wondering why they’d call Maul the deadliest Sith warrior in the galaxy if he’s the only Sith warrior in the galaxy, but a strictly grammatical reading means by definition Maul is the deadliest if he’s the only one, and thus there’s no issue. If you want to factor in intent, then I’d be willing to bet actual money the writer of this quote doesn’t believe Maul is better in a fight than Sidious, and that the silliness of calling Maul the deadliest Sith warrior when he’s the only Sith warrior was done for plain marketing hype (it's on a website meant to promote the comic). No one looks at Sidious and thinks that’s a Sith warrior, nor is anyone thinking of him when writing about Sith warriors, similar to how Hall Hood nor any other author doesn’t believe the Emperor's Wrath in TOR is superior to the Emperor himself even though he’s the greatest Sith warrior in the galaxy.

In the absolute worst case scenario - and I want to stress that it’s expressly the worst case and not at all the most likely one - to Sidious, this is one quote in Maul’s favor that has to compete against the stuff Sidious has in his favor.

– – –

Ethan wrote:5. Despite Sidious being more powerful than Maul as a Sith Lord, Darth Maul is Sidious's most powerful weapon inclusive of individuals and traits of the "weapon possessor".
Even a (again pre Tatooine) Darth Maul whose training is limited when it comes to the teachings of Darth Plagueis is a greater weapon than Sidious himself, despite again being less powerful as a Sith Lord.

Again, we have the same two avenues here. Factoring in the writer's intent, it's so obvious that Maul being Sidious's most powerful weapon is not taking into account Sidious's intrinsic attributes like Force power. If you want to retort that the same source refers to Force abilities as a weapon, I would attest it's far, far more likely that the writer is being imprecise with their wording (as they often are) rather than intending for Maul being Sidious's most powerful weapon to mean Maul is better in a fight or more powerful in the Force than Sidious. That relies on the assumption that they deliberately chose to make a figurative statement that Maul is Sidious's weapon, and then in another part of the source write that the Force is Maul's weapon, as a clue for the reader to interpret the proper meaning of Maul being Sidious's most powerful weapon as Maul being a greater combatant than Sidious, instead of simply stating it plainly. No ordinary reader is going to make that sort of connection, so putting that in a source whose purpose is to give the reader easily discernible information about the Star Wars universe would be nonsensical, as well as an inexplicable outlier in how the source conveys information otherwise.

Another point that I have regarding the writer's intent is intuition. I have observed the dynamic between Maul and Sidious in every story that exists, and found universally recurring motifs: Maul is the apprentice and Sidious the Master, Maul is ubiquitously deferential to Sidious, and Sidious has beaten Maul in every on-page fight they've ever had. The first two remain true even if the writer of The Official Figurine Collection #5 has only seen the movie, but that's unlikely considering they're writing for a publication that references and exposits the broader literature quite frequently, so for every EU source featuring Maul and Sidious they've read, those data points become even more enshrined in their subconscious. There is no narrative source in existence that depicts Maul as more powerful or capable than Sidious, and you yourself admitted your case for Maul is built on the acceptance of an intricate web of obscure quotes that are practically meaningless when taken individually and require to be taken as an interconnected whole. But realize, Ethan: versus debaters are an exceptionally rare breed of Star Wars fan by default, and you and Jake are the first members in the history of this hobby to have dug through all these sources and come to hold the unique conviction that Maul is greater than Sidious - all others who do are merely reading the work you've already put together rather than arriving at that conclusion through their own research. You are extreme statistical anomalies among other statistical anomalies, and so the chances that the writer of The Official Figurine Collection #5 made a conscious decision to include a line that says Maul is stronger than Sidious are virtually zero.

Alternatively, going by the hyperliteral interpretation, you'd only arrive at Maul being more powerful in the Force than Sidious - any extrapolations you make from that aren't strictly supported by the text. It's not stated Maul is a greater combatant than Sidious, or that he can control all the power he has. For example, Anakin Skywalker circa AOTC is as if not more powerful than Yoda, but due to his inexperience cannot harness that power effectively in combat, hence losing to Dooku and struggling with Asajj Ventress. Maul's case could be similar, or even worse, it could only refer to his potential power rather than actualized power, since we know that Maul was more naturally gifted in the Force than Palpatine, as evinced by both the latter saying Maul could one day surpass him, as well as George Lucas stating Sidious desired an apprentice more powerful than himself to rule the universe with, and he was grooming Maul for this role before Anakin’s discovery. Ergo, nothing in the technical, hyperliteral reading of this quote necessitates for it to be proof of Maul’s alleged superiority to Sidious in combat.

– – –

Ethan wrote:So the gap between Tatooine Maul and Naboo Maul is Naboo Maul having astonishing reflexes in comparison, and Naboo Maul nearly knocking Tatooine Maul flat on his ass with a thrust, when his speeder enhanced attack did jackshit previously. (edited)
So Naboo Maul damn near Opresses Tatooine Maul.

I can accept there being a slight gap, but obviously any notion of a stomp gap is ridiculous and taking this one move out of the context of the rest of the fight given Qui-Gon contends well for most of its duration. Maul putting significantly more power into one thrust of his lightsaber doesn’t mean all of his other moves carried similar strength behind them, and it’s possible Qui-Gon himself wasn’t in an optimal position or mental state - the very same source notes he feels fear upon seeing Maul (which we know hinders a Jedi’s Force connection), but upon centering himself, he pushes Maul back on his own. This is honestly like using base Savage disarming Dooku and slamming him into a wall as proof that he stomps Dooku when the rest of the fight and generally everything else depicts Dooku as better, or all those times where people have landed Force pushes or briefly Force-gripped others as proof of breaking active Force barriers and stomping. Moreover, the Jedi being unprepared from Maul’s powers can literally just be taken to mean his double-bladed lightsaber, which the sentence already suggests heavily, and the next sentence (which you cut off from the scan lol) supports it even more.

Star Wars: Episode I Adventures - The Final Battle wrote:Qui-Gon grabbed his lightsaber, preparing for another assault.

But no droid army was entering, no battalion of warriors. Only one man blocked the door.

And he was more than enough.

On the Tatooine desert the warrior had been a predatory blur, but now Qui-Gon had a clear look. The face was hideous, tattooed in a jagged death-mask pattern of red and black. A ring of horns surrounded his head, and his yellow, soulless eyes glared only at Qui-Gon.

A Jedi felt no fear. That was part of the training, the creed. As a Jedi, Qui-Gon had long ago put aside fear in the service of his duty.

But as a human, he knew no feeling was ever truly forgotten.

The Sith Lord raised a lightsaber.

[...]

The Sith Lord raced through a small door and into a long hallway. Qui-Gon was close behind him, and Obi-Wan took pursuit.

With a sudden sharp hum, solid vertical walls of energy appeared, blocking the hallway. Qui-Gon stopped short, inches away from being vaporized.

On the other side of the energy wall, the Sith Lord mocked Qui-Gon with taunting facial expressions.

Nothing could happen now until the walls parted.

Be in the moment, Qui-Gon told himself.

The Sith Lord had shaken him. He would need to regain his balance.

Qui-Gon sat. Closing his eyes, he meditated and waited.

When the hum stopped and the wall disappeared, he charged.

The Sith Lord was at the end of the corridor now. It had become a walkway again, suspended over a new chamber, a deep melting pit.

Nothing existed below them now. Nothing but blackness.

The energy walls had appeared again. Obi-Wan was trapped behind the last one, separated from Qui-Gon by the thickness of a subatomic particle.

Qui-Gon went after the Sith Lord with all he had - a fury of lightsaber slashes that sent the black-clad warrior reeling.

SS - Darth Maul (Ethan) vs. Darth Plagueis (Azronger) Unknown

SS - Darth Maul (Ethan) vs. Darth Plagueis (Azronger) Unknown

Other factors that helped Maul in this duel are: 1) He is more skilled with a double-bladed lightsaber than a single-bladed one. 2) He was using his dark side abilities to blunt the Jedi’s Force connection. 3) He was drawing on the Jedi’s Force connection to fuel his own. 4) He had committed the layout of the battleground to both mental and muscle memory, and chose a location that would increase the effectiveness of his fighting style and hinder Qui-Gon’s once he was separated from Obi-Wan.

SS - Darth Maul (Ethan) vs. Darth Plagueis (Azronger) Unknown

SS - Darth Maul (Ethan) vs. Darth Plagueis (Azronger) Image

SS - Darth Maul (Ethan) vs. Darth Plagueis (Azronger) Image

Star Wars: Episode I Journal - Darth Maul wrote:He made the Jedi run. They had to use everything they knew and more to meet his skill. They went at him, two on one, and they could not defeat him. No doubt Maul used his formidable dark powers to blunt their use of the Force.

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace junior novelization wrote:Obi-Wan had never been in such a lightsaber battle before. So this is a Sith Lord, he thought fleetingly as he dodged and leaped. It was taking every skill he knew just to stay alive. The Sith Lord seemed to cloud Obi-Wan’s use of the Force, making it hard to sense his opponent’s moves and counter them in time.

Star Wars: Episode I Adventures - The Final Battle wrote:As the Naboo troops escaped through the hangar door, the two Jedi stepped up their assault on the Sith Lord. But he was like a mirror, taking their energy and reflecting it back magnified.

Star Wars: End Game wrote:Maul’s gaze swept the hangar’s broad entrance. A tunnel linked the hangar to the Palace, but Amidala would certainly assume that it had been booby-trapped, and would likely lead the Jedi and her infiltration team across the eastern fork of the Solleu River and through the narrow paths and across the sky bridges of the Vis district. But a lightsaber duel fought along that route or in the woods that surrounded the Palace would be difficult to control. Somehow he had to waylay the Jedi before they exited the building. Again he scanned the dim interior, and his gaze fell on the tall blast doors that separated the hanger from the contiguous power generator building. On his earlier visit to the hangar he had done little more than peer into the plasma power station, but now, eager to know what lay beyond the blast doors, he hurried through them.

A short walk took him to the edge of a curved inspection platform flanked by circular engineering consoles. A catwalk extended from the platform across a deep and wide circular extraction shaft studded with towering acceleration columns, within which plasma energy was intensified before refinement and storage. The flashing columns were linked at various levels by service catwalks no wider than the central walkway, which terminated at a narrow door on the far side of the shaft. Maul paced halfway to the door, then returned to the inspection platform and paced it a second time, marking the length and calculating the distances between it and the catwalks above and below. Several times he leapt to higher or lower catwalks. Once he had committed the arrangement to both mental and muscle memory, he walked all the way to the far door and through it.

The door opened on a soaring security hallway, interrupted at regular intervals by laser gates that sealed themselves in response to power outputs of the plasma activation process. Initially the firings seemed to occur randomly, but after he passed through the gates several times in both directions—cautiously at first, then as quickly as he could—Maul began to discern a subtle pattern. The pattern was by no means foolproof, and twice he came close to being fried by the firings, but in the end he had learned enough about the timing of the gates to provide himself with a slight advantage.

Beyond the final gate, the walkway broadened to encircle a narrow-mouthed plasma slough core of indeterminable depth. In an upper-tier maintenance station he found a hydrospanner and dropped it into the core.

If indeed the heavy tool hit bottom, the noise never reached him.

Maul paced the circular rim of the core, gazing down into the blackness; then he turned from the view to imagine and direct how the lightsaber duel would unfold. He would use the laser gates to separate the Jedi. He looked around. Yes: he would kill one of them just there. As for the other …

Well, he’d allow himself a surprise or two.

Confident that his actions would please his Master, he raced to the Palace to await word that Queen Amidala and the Jedi had entered the city.

Regardless, I seriously, seriously doubt the writer of the quote for Sidious thought some sort of gap existed between Maul on Tatooine and Naboo, and consciously omitted the latter from the implication that Maul is more skilled - he remains the apprentice throughout the movie, which is the basis for his inferiority. And if we get technical, even if Maul was far better in the second duel, the source of that ramp is rage, which only affects power, but not skill, so Sidious’s quote would still include his strongest version.

SS - Darth Maul (Ethan) vs. Darth Plagueis (Azronger) Image

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Last edited by Master Azronger on January 19th 2023, 11:44 pm; edited 2 times in total

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SS - Darth Maul (Ethan) vs. Darth Plagueis (Azronger) Empty Re: SS - Darth Maul (Ethan) vs. Darth Plagueis (Azronger)

January 19th 2023, 8:35 pm

FEATS

Ethan wrote:Lets talk about something else now, like all of the retarded instances where a Jedi senses Plagueis and they don't care one bit

Pre-prime Plagueis, both instances. This is like me using 3-year-old Maul collapsing after a few minutes’ exercise to judge his TPM iteration. To me this section just seems to be there to smear Plagueis with derisive but ultimately empty rhetoric that can be effortlessly toppled with quotes about Plagueis’s power growth - not to mention I disagree with your analysis of the feats themselves, but I’ll leave that aside for the moment. What I’d rather demonstrate is that lowballing goes both ways; if you want feats comparisons with pre-prime Plagueis, I can give you some:

1. Darth Maul gets wounded in a fight with a Togorian pirate armed with a vibro-axe and razors embedded into his fur:

Star Wars: Episode I Journal - Darth Maul wrote:He is just as surprised as I am. I see now that the objects twined in his fur are sharp razors. I realize that they could serve as effective weapons in a close fight. All the Togorian would have to do is fall on someone in order to slice them to ribbons.

I activate my lightsaber. With a grin, he drops the credits and takes his vibro-ax from his belt.

"There you are, " he says, licking his lips with a thick purple tongue. "Think you can escape me? Think again. I'll finish the job. "

There are those taunts again. I don't feel fear. But I do feel irritation. The rest of the pirates should be at the bridge now. Any moment they will start the engines. This detour is putting me in unnecessary danger.

We are at close quarters. I need to dispatch him quickly. He is big, bigger than the others, and stronger.

I whirl in an arc and go for his chest, but he is agile and sidesteps the attack. He misses my shoulder by a breath with his vibro-ax. It crashes down on the console. This won't do. I need a functioning ship. I leap past him and flip down the ramp, just out of reach of his vibro-ax. It clangs as it hits the ramp.

I turn for the attack, lunging at him as he jumps to the floor. This huge Togorian moves well. He shakes his fur, sending shards of light into my eyes. Momentarily dazzled, I lose my focus. I am in the middle of a vertical sweep when he twists, rolls, grunts, and comes up on my other side. I jump away, but the vibro-ax catches me on the leg.

The pain sends a red haze over my vision. He grins as he smashes one massive arm against my wounded leg. I feel the razors slice into my torn flesh. The pain sears me, but I bare my teeth at him in contempt.

If your enemy inflicts pain, do not allow him to see it. There is no pain where strength lies.

My rage is a torrent, a burning river. I leap, twist, keeping my weight on my good leg. My lightsaber is part of my body now, merciless, hard, cruel. I dance around him, slicing his arms, chest, shoulders. I want a thousand cuts to kill him. He falls facedown without a cry.[/font]

2. Darth Maul runs away from 30 Tusken Raiders, stating there are too many of them, and that the battle would tax him, not leaving enough energy to face Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan:

Star Wars: Episode I Journal - Darth Maul wrote:But as I gather myself for a combination move that will strike him down, several other Sand People suddenly appear out of nowhere. They spill out from behind dunes, underneath sand, from what appear to be mere cracks in the cliff face.

It is then that I recall another lesson about the Sand People: they travel in single file to hide their numbers.

There are at least thirty of them. They are all heading for me.

ENTRY EIGHT

Impossible as it may seem, I have made an error. Out of impatience or a residue of exhaustion, who can say.

The Sand People advance on me angrily. In their breath masks and goggles they are protected from the sand that now stings my eyes and clogs my mouth.

The howling intensifies. The Raiders shake their gaderffii and begin to surround me. There are just too many of them. I can take out four or five in the flicker of an eyelash, but that will just infuriate the rest.

Frustration boils inside me. These interruptions deflect me from my mission.

I never run away from a battle. But this one will tax me, and my strength is needed for the Jedi. If my Master hears I have been wounded, he will be furious.[/font]

3. Darth Maul fails to deflect blaster fire from pirates and gets hit in the leg multiple times.


(3:30)

4. Darth Maul fails to kill an unarmed Sugi rolling on the floor, and gets tackled and held down by a dog.



vs.

1. 67 BBY Darth Plagueis vs. the crew of the Woebegone. What’s impressive for Plagueis here is not the caliber of his opposition, but rather the efficiency and brutality with which he disposes of them. First, here is the full fight so everyone can come to their own conclusions, but I will present my own analysis afterwards:

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis wrote:The face-off tableau in the cabinspace had endured for only a moment when Wandau, who had served as a bodyguard for a celebrated Hutt, leapt into action, drawing and firing his blaster even as he raced for cover behind one of the bulkheads. A split second behind, Maa Kaap raised his weapon and fired a continuous hail of blaster bolts at the Muun. In the same instant Zuto and PePe, crouched low to the deck, sprang forward in an attempt to outflank their opponent and place him at the center of a deadly crossfire.

From the passageway that led to the cockpit came the rapid footfalls of the pilot, Blir’, and the ship’s Dresselian navigator, Semasalli. 11-4D knew that they had been monitoring cam feeds of the cargo bay, and thought it likely that they had witnessed whatever sentence the Muun had levied on Captain Lah.

The Muun’s reaction to the barrage of bolts that converged on him required almost more processing power than the droid had at its disposal. By employing a combination of body movements, lightsaber, and naked right hand, the agile sentient evaded, deflected, or returned every shot that targeted him. Slowly surrendering energy, the bolts caromed from the deck and bulkheads, touching off alarms, prompting a switch to emergency illumination, and unleashing cascades of fire-suppressant foam from the ceiling aerosols. No sooner had the Balosar and the Dresselian entered the cabinspace than hatches sealed the corridors, preventing any escape from the melee. Only 11-4D’s ability to calculate trajectories and react instantaneously to danger kept it from being on the receiving end of any of the numerous ricochets.

Spying Blir’ and Semasalli, the Muun hurled the lightsaber in a spinning arc that took off the Balosar’s antenepalps and scalp and most of the wrinkled Dresselian’s left shoulder, misting the already agitated air with teal-colored blood. As alarms continued to wail and foam continued to gush, Blir’ folded and fell face-first to the slickened deck, while Semasalli, screeching in pain, collapsed to one side, reaching futilely for his severed arm with the other.

The lightsaber had scarcely left the Muun’s grip when Wandau flew from cover to bring the attack to the Muun, triggering his blaster as ceaselessly as Maa Kaap was still doing. This time, though, the Muun merely stretched out his right hand and absorbed the bolts. Traveling up the length of his arm and across his narrow chest, the energy seemed to fountain from the hand awaiting the return of the spinning weapon as a tangle of blue electricity that hissed from his tapered fingers, catching Wandau full-on and lifting him to the ceiling of the hold before dropping him to the puddled deck in a heap, as if his bones had turned to dust.

In strobing red light, Maa Kaap’s eyes tracked the rise and fall of his broken comrade. His blaster depleted, the Zabrak drew a vibroblade from a belt sheath and launched himself at the Muun, his large right hand intent on fastening itself onto the Muun’s spindly neck.

The Muun caught the lightsaber, but instead of bringing it to bear against Maa Kaap, he danced and twirled out of reach of the vibroblade and commenced parrying the Zabrak’s martial kicks and punches, until a side-kick to the thorax drove Maa Kaap clear across the cabin and slamming into the bulkhead. OneOne-FourDee’s audio pickups registered the snap of the Zabrak’s spine and the bursting of pulmonary arteries.

Now Zuto and PePe dived at the Muun from both sides and actually managed to get a hold on him. But it was as if the Muun had turned to stone. The Kaleesh and the Quara attacked with teeth and claws, but to no perceptible effect. And when the Muun had had enough of it, he positioned the lightsaber directly in front of him and gyred in their grasp, taking off PePe’s tusked face and Zuto’s blunt, whiskered snout. OneOne-FourDee’s olfactory sensors detected an outpouring of pheromones that signaled the death of the Kaleesh. Zuto, on the other hand—though gurgling blood and moaning in pain—could perhaps be saved if treated in time.

Straightening out of a wide-legged stance, the Muun deactivated the lightsaber and scanned the beings he had killed and those he had maimed with chilling exactitude. His yellow eyes fell on 11-4D, but only for an instant; then he fixed the lightsaber to his belt and went quickly to his nearest victim, who happened to be Doo Zuto. Dropping to one knee alongside him, the Muun gazed intently at the Quara’s twitching body, but precisely at what the droid couldn’t surmise. Zuto’s bulging marine eyes seemed to implore his assailant for help, but the Muun did nothing to stanch the flow of blood or offer palliative aid.

He remained by the Quara’s side for a few moments, then moved quickly to Maa Kaap, from whose crushed chest cavity blood bubbled with each shallow breath. Again, the Muun ran his eyes over his victim, from Maa Kaap’s tattooed face to his large feet. Eyes closed, the Muun adopted a posture that suggested intense concentration or meditation, and Maa Kaap snapped back to panic-stricken consciousness. OneOne-FourDee tuned in to the Zabrak’s pulse and found it regular—but only for a moment. Then the rhythm of Maa Kaap’s heartbeat grew ragged and breaths began to stutter from his lungs.

Soon he was dead.

As soon as Plagueis races into the room, the crew members unload a volley of blaster fire on him. Plagueis defends himself by swiftly moving his hands but stays otherwise still: “By employing a combination of body movements, lightsaber, and naked right hand, the agile sentient evaded, deflected, or returned every shot that targeted him.” Said defensive maneuvers are almost too fast for the droid 11-4D to perceive: “The Muun’s reaction to the barrage of bolts that converged on him required almost more processing power than the droid had at its disposal.” Given that 11-4D is capable of calculating the trajectories of and instantly reacting to ricocheting blaster bolts in a tight space, Plagueis’ combat speed while stationary should be vastly faster than even blaster bolts moving through air: “Only 11-4D’s ability to calculate trajectories and react instantaneously to danger kept it from being on the receiving end of any of the numerous ricochets.”

Plagueis then throws his lightsaber at two of the crew members, killing one and maiming the other. Simultaneously, he is still being fired at by one crewman and is attacked by yet another, who shoots at him as soon as the lightsaber departs his hand. Plagueis’ response is to absorb the bolts with the Force and channel their energy into Force lightning, with which he lifts one of his attackers to the ceiling and smashes him to the ground, knocking him unconscious. This happened while his lightsaber was still arcing through the air, demonstrating Plagueis’ capacity to multitask: he is able to telekinetically guide the movement of his lightsaber without hand gestures to precisely wound his enemies while focusing on two others, using his hands for both defensive and offensive Force abilities.

His blaster depleted, the other crewman assaults Plagueis with a vibroblade as well as his free hand and feet. Plagueis deftly evades or parries all strikes, and proceeds to one-shot his adversary with a simple kick that sends him flying across the cabin, snaps his spine, crushes his chest cavity, and busts his pulmonary arteries. Note that the victim in question is a Zabrak, a species renowned for their considerable resiliency and pain tolerance over humans, yet Plagueis effortlessly hospitalizes him in one physical strike.

The last two surviving crew members then jump at Plagueis, hoping to tear him to pieces. However, Plagueis tanks their attacks by hardening his skin with the Force, not flinching, not receiving a scratch from razor-sharp teeth and claws. A slice of his lightsaber then ends the confrontation.

Throughout the fight, Plagueis displays stationary combat speed far faster than blaster fire, easily superhuman strength with a casual kick (against another duelist, every single one of his lightsaber blows would carry the same strength behind them), immense durability, the ability to focus on two to three opponents at once while wielding two to three different Force powers simultaneously, and omnidirectional awareness. There is not a point in the fight where he is remotely serious; he toys with his victims and allows them to attack, only retaliating when he grows tired of their feeble attempts to harm him. And for context, Plagueis is both fatigued and had lost a lot of blood prior to the altercation, making him more sloppy than usual per his own estimation. His combat awareness and overall skill should be considerably greater when in peak condition. This is, if anything, a low showing for him.

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis wrote:Among the ship’s crew, the Togruta, Captain Lah, had been the strongest in the Force, but she was beyond his help by the time he reached her. Had it not been for sloppiness on his part, owing to fatigue and blood loss, and lightning-fast reflexes on hers, the lightsaber might simply have pierced her neck and cervical spinal cord. But she had spun at the moment of impact, and the crimson blade had all but decapitated her. The Zabrak, too, had a slightly higher-than-normal midi-chlorian count, but not high enough to make him Force-sensitive. How different it had been to observe the behavior of the Zabrak’s midi-chlorians compared with those of Darth Tenebrous, only two days earlier!

2. 67 BBY Darth Plagueis vs. Darth Venamis. This is his only lightsaber duel on-screen, and Venamis himself is an unknown, so there’s not much scaling that can be derived from here, but a few key facts about Plagueis can nonetheless be inferred. As done earlier, here is the full fight, after which I’ll dissect it myself:

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis wrote:Venamis charged.

To Plagueis, lightsaber duels were tedious affairs, full of wasted emotion and needless acrobatics. Tenebrous, however, who had pronounced Plagueis a master of the art, had always enjoyed a good fight, and had clearly bequeathed that enthusiasm to his other trainee. For no sooner had the blades of their weapons clashed than Venamis began to bring the fight to him in unexpected ways, twirling his surprisingly limber body, tossing the lightsaber from hand to hand, mixing forms. At one point he leapt onto an overhanging greel branch and, when Plagueis severed it with a Force blow, hung suspended in the air—no mean feat in itself—and continued the fight, as if from high ground. Worse for Plagueis, Tenebrous had made Venamis an expert in Plagueis’s style, and so the Bith could not only anticipate but counter Plagueis’s every move.

In short order, Venamis penetrated his defenses, searing the side of Plagueis’s neck.

The contest took them backward and forward through the trees, across narrow streams, and up onto piles of rocks that were the ruins of an ancient sentry post. Plagueis took a moment to wonder if anyone at the fort was observing the results of the contest, which, from afar, must have looked like lightning flashing through the forest’s understory.

Realizing that the fight could go on indefinitely, he took himself out of his body and began working his material self like a marionette, no longer on the offensive, instigating attacks, but merely responding to Venamis’s lunges and strikes. Gradually the Bith understood that something had changed—that what up until then had been a fight to the death seemed suddenly like a training exercise. Exasperated, he doubled his efforts, fighting harder, more desperately, putting more power into each maneuver and blow, and in the end surrendering his precision and accuracy.

At the height of Venamis’s attack, Plagueis came back into himself with such fury that his lightsaber became a blinding rod. A two-handed upward swing launched from between his legs caught Venamis off guard. The blade didn’t go deep enough to puncture the Bith’s lung but scorched him from chest to chin. As his large, cleft head snapped backward in retreat, Plagueis brought his lightsaber straight down, tearing Venamis’s weapon from his gloved hand and nearly taking off his long fingers, as well.

With a gesture of his other hand, Venamis called for his lightsaber, but Plagueis was a split second quicker, and the hilt shot into his own right hand. Sensing a storm of Force lightning building in the Bith, he crossed the two crimson blades in front of him and said: “Yield!”

Venamis froze, allowing the nascent storm to die away, and dropped to his knees in surrender as Sojourn’s risen primary blazed at his back through the trees.

“I submit, Darth Plagueis. I accept that I must apprentice myself to you.”

The second paragraph conveys important information about Plagueis’ standing as a lightsaber duelist: Darth Tenebrous, a noted enthusiast of the dueling arts, had proclaimed Plagueis a master swordsman. Tenebrous had a very low opinion of his apprentice, both privately and publicly, and criticized him for even imprecise verbiage, so a pronouncement of mastery from him should be taken seriously. This is despite Plagueis’ own distaste for physical confrontation, viewing lightsaber duels as “tedious affairs, full of wasted emotion and needless acrobatics,” in a sense conveying a degree of transcendence, the boredom of a champion who’s seen and done it all.

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis wrote:“Darth Bane’s early years,” Plagueis said through his transpirator mask. “Carrying on the ancestral business, as it were.”

Behind the faceplate of his own mask, Tenebrous’s puckered lips twitched in disapproval. The breathing device looked absurdly small on his outsized cleft head, and the convexity of the mask made the flat disks of his lidless eyes look like close-set holes in his pinched face.

“Bane’s seminal years,” he corrected.

Plagueis weathered the gentle rebuke. He had been apprenticed to Tenebrous for as many years as the average human might live, and still Tenebrous never failed to find fault when he could.

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis wrote:How, in all his wisdom, had Tenebrous failed to grasp that Plagueis was the culmination of the millennium-long hunger for revenge? How had the Bith failed to grasp that destiny had called him?

In a rare moment of compliment, the Bith had even said as much.

In the same way that tectonic forces cause a boulder to plunge into a river, forever diverting its course, events give rise to individuals who, stepping into the current of the Force, alter the tide of history. You are such a one.

The rest of the paragraph hypes up Venamis, describing him wielding his lightsaber ambidextrously and being able to mix different forms together, using the environment to his advantage, and even levitating at one point while continuing the saber-to-saber exchanges from mid-air. It’s also said Tenebrous inculcated his passion for dueling into Venamis, so we can infer him to have been a dedicated practitioner of the blade who had trained studiously for this fight. Further evidence of this is his familiarity with Plagueis’ own style, indicating he had been specifically prepared by Tenebrous to take Plagueis down, which Plagueis himself speculates about.

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis wrote:Immediately following the contest on Sojourn, Plagueis had commanded members of the Sun Guard to locate the starship that had allowed Venamis to infiltrate the Hunters’ Moon, then move it and the poisoned Bith to Aborah. Larsh Hill and the other Muuns had been apprised that an intruder had been captured and disposed of, but no more than that. An investigation of the ship had yielded data that might have surprised even Darth Tenebrous, who had provided the ship. It seemed that well before he had confronted Plagueis or learned of his Master’s fate, Venamis himself had been scouting for potential apprentices. Plagueis could not help being impressed, though begrudgingly. The young Bith would have done well in Bane’s era. Now, however, he was an anachronism, and by extension, Tenebrous also.

That Tenebrous had targeted him came as no shock to Plagueis. He and the Bith had reached an impasse decades earlier regarding execution of the Sith imperative. The product of one of the galaxy’s most ancient civilizations, Tenebrous believed that victory could be achieved through a mating of the powers of the dark side and expert Bith science. With the aid of sophisticated computers and future-casting formulas, the varied beings of the galaxy could be provided for, and the Jedi Order would gradually dwindle and disappear. Tenebrous had tried to persuade Plagueis that the Force did not play games of chance with the galaxy; and that while the fated ascendancy of the dark side could be predicted, its rise could not be influenced or hurried by the Sith.

The Muuns believed in formulas and calculations as strongly as the Bith did, but Plagueis was not a fatalist. Convinced that Tenebrous’s brilliant equations were missing an important factor, he had argued that future events—whether predicted by machines or glimpsed in visions—were often clouded and unreliable. More important, he had been raised to believe in the elimination of competitors, and viewed the Jedi as just that. The Order wasn’t simply some rival corporation that could be secretly acquired; it had to be undermined, toppled, and dismantled. Deracinated. He had assumed that, given time, he would have been able to win Tenebrous over, but his former Master had obviously pronounced him unfit to don the mantle of Sith successor, and had looked elsewhere. The unbridled desires of sentients were a blessing to the Sith, for those desires birthed an abundance of zealous and audacious beings who could be used to further the cause. Plagueis had been instructed to be on the lookout for suitable beings, just as Tenebrous had been when he had discovered Venamis. Perhaps Tenebrous had regarded the sneak attack as beneficial, no matter the results. Had Venamis been victorious, he was deserving of the mantle; and if not, then Plagueis might come to accept the true nature of the Master–apprentice relationship.

An old story that had never made much sense to him.

But it did explain Tenebrous’s curious behavior in the months and weeks preceding the events on Bal’demnic. It was impossible to know how long Venamis’s attack had been in the planning, but Tenebrous, for all his cool detachment, had plainly worried over the decision. On Bal’demnic he had been distracted, and that inattention had cost him his life. But in those final moments, before he had fully grasped the role Plagueis had played, he had been on the verge of revealing the existence of Venamis. It made little difference now, and, in fact, Plagueis found the Bith’s vacillation contemptible.

And although he does pierce Plagueis’s guard and sear his neck once, this happens “in short order” i.e. at the very start of the fight when Plagueis is still adjusting to his adversary’s “unexpected ways” and the fact that he knows the ins and outs of his style. After this Venamis gets no more hits in, and Plagueis is able to keep him at bay “indefinitely” and even pressure him as the skirmish is noted to have gone “backward and forward” interchangeably, with Plagueis being on the offensive prior to switching tactics. So not only can Plagueis match an ambidextrous master of multiple forms who is proficient in mid-air combat, he is also skilled enough himself to nullify stylistic advantages and disadvantages, pressing back and indefinitely stalemating a foe familiar with his every move who himself utilizes techniques foreign to Plagueis.

Further note should also be given to the environment in, and the speed with, which they fight. The duel takes place in a thick forest with rocks, rivers and other vegetation strewn about. If you’ve ever ran in a forest, you’d know how easy it is to stumble on stones or roots growing above ground, and these two are going so fast that Plagueis muses they would look like lightning bolts to an onlooker. This is consistent with the speed he displays against the crew of the Woebegone earlier. So not only does Plagueis have to focus on Venamis, but he has to simultaneously dodge innumerable trees and other things threatening to trip him up, demonstrating even superior omnidirectional awareness to his Woebegone feat.

After Plagueis realizes he’s not going to make any progress, he alters his tactics and enters a trance-like state where his body - his material self - becomes akin to a marionette that Plagueis’ unconscious motor functions - his higher self - control. He no longer makes a conscious effort of fighting and lets his body respond naturally on its own to Venamis’ strikes, similar to Ultra Instinct from Dragon Ball Super or the mushin mental state in real life. Incidentally, there is a Star Wars equivalent for Sith that Darth Maul during The Phantom Menace aspires to attain, as he writes in his journal.

Star Wars: Episode I Journal - Darth Maul wrote:When I complete my basic exercises, I power up my double-bladed lightsaber and practice maneuvers. My body is as strong as durasteel and as fluid as water. I shift from one position of attack to another. I fall on one knee and slash my lightsaber as I imagine cleaving my victim cleanly. I roll away and grip my lightsaber with both hands for a vertical sweep. I leap and twist and come down, leading with my left shoulder. I deliver a death blow and leap away, somersaulting in the air. I perform ten thousand slashes, lunges, attacks.

My lightsaber is no longer a separate weapon, but part of my arm. I move in the time it would take my opponent to blink. I move in the time he would take to raise his weapon. He would only see the space where I had been. He would feel the sudden shock of the blow that would knock him to the floor.

I do these maneuvers a hundred times a day. I do them even though my body knows them intimately, even though I have not made a mistake or a misstep in years. I do them until the memory of the movement is part of the muscle itself. The goal of the Sith is to fight without thought.

Maul performs "ten thousand slashes, lunges, attacks” “a hundred times a day” “until the memory of the movement is part of the muscle itself.” He states ”The goal of the Sith is to fight without thought,” which seems to be the ultimate the point of these exercises ”even though my body knows them intimately, even though I have not made a mistake or a misstep in years.” Maul has not yet attained the state of thoughtless combat, which Plagueis, conversely, is so efficient with that what had previously been a fight to the death transforms into a mere training exercise by comparison. Venamis redoubles his efforts to penetrate Plagueis’ defenses upon realizing his own inefficacy, yet nothing gets through; no matter how hard he tries, Plagueis’ instantaneous reaction times prove inerrant.

Due to sacrificing accuracy and precision, Venamis leaves himself vulnerable to Plagueis’s next move: he delivers a strike with a singular burst of speed so fast that from Venamis’ perspective it appears as “blinding.” Take a moment to remember how fast these two were just moving: Venamis was matching Plagueis’ velocity perfectly, and the latter’s speed was greater than what he displayed against the crew of the Woebegone and would have looked to an observer like flashing lightning. Yet even in the context of that speed, Plagueis’ attack is “blinding” to Venamis and gets through his guard, scorching his chest and chin. Plagueis then follows it up with a disarming slash, depriving Venamis of his weapon.

The fight ends by Venamis attempting to Force pull his lightsaber back to his hand, but Plagueis outpaces him and places both blades to his neck in a scissor position reminiscent of Count Dooku’s death. The energy for the Force lightning Venamis had begun to gather fades away as he surrenders to his enemy.

In summary, Plagueis here is in much better condition than he was against the crew of the Woebegone, and his physical stats and dueling skill would be heightened accordingly. His casual combat speed while dodging hundreds of trees and other obstacles in a thick forest is likened to that of lightning bolts, and he can ramp it up even further in concentrated bursts so fast they appear blinding to even those going at the aforementioned “lightning”-speed. From a standpoint of technical skill, he was declared a master fencer by Tenebrous, his harshest critic, a dueling aficionado, and a superior swordsman to Darth Bane by merit of Banite scaling; demonstrates the ability to match an ambidextrous master of multiple forms including aerial combat; and has the know-how to mitigate stylistic factors completely, stalemating an opponent equipped with detailed information on his specific fighting style. But most impressively, he showcases a flawless execution of the mushin/Ultra Instinct equivalent for Sith, transcending technique into the realm of pure reaction, and shows the ability to trigger this mental state on and off consciously on the fly. Essentially, Plagueis has attained what Maul believes ”The goal of the Sith” to be in terms of combat, and thus has attained what Maul views as martial perfection.

3. 54 BBY Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious vs. 200 combat automata. Again, the full sequence, followed by my analysis:

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis wrote:On Hypori they were the prey, standing back-to-back in their black zeyd-cloth hooded robes at the center of concentric rings of droids, retrofitted by Baktoid Armor to function as combat automata. Two hundred programmed assailants—bipedal, treaded, some levitated by antigrav generators—armed with a variety of weapons, ranging from hand blasters to short-barreled burst-rifles. Plagueis hadn’t allowed his young apprentice to wield a lightsaber until a few years earlier, but Sidious was brandishing one now, self-constructed of phrik alloy and aurodium, and powered by a synthetic crystal. Made for delicate, long-fingered hands—as much a work of art as a weapon—the lightsaber thrummed as he waved the blade from side to side in front of him.

“Every weapon, manufactured by whatever species, has its own properties and peculiarities,” Plagueis was saying, his own blade angled toward the ferrocrete floor of the battledome’s fabricated cityscape, as if to light a fuse. “Range, penetrating power, refresh rate … In some instances your life might depend on your ability to focus on the weapon rather than on the wielder. You must train yourself to identify a weapon instantly—whether it’s a product of BlasTech or Merr-Sonn, Tenloss or Prax—so that you will know where to position yourself, and the several ways to best deflect a well-aimed bolt.”

Plagueis put his words into action as the first ring of droids began to converge on them, staggering the attack and triggering bursts at random. Orbiting Sidious, the Muun’s blade warded off every volley, returning the bolts to their sources, or deflecting them into the façades of the faux buildings surrounding them or into other droids. At other times Plagueis made no attempt to redirect the attacks, but simply twisted and torqued his rangy body, allowing the bolts to miss him by centimeters. Around the two Sith, the automata collapsed one after the next, gushing lubricants from holed reservoirs or exploding in a hail of alloy parts, until all were heaped on the ferrocrete floor.

“The next ring is yours,” Plagueis said.

Rugged, uninhabited Hypori belonged to the Techno Union, whose Skakoan foreman, Wat Tambor, owed his seat in the Republic Senate to Damask Holdings. In exchange, the bionic humanoid had made Hypori available as a training ground for members of the Echani Sun Guard and provided the necessary battle droids. Calling in another favor, Hego Damask had requested a private session in the fabricated cityscape, so that Plagueis and his apprentice could be free to employ lightsabers—though only for the purpose of deflecting bolts rather than dismemberment or penetration.

When it came Sidious’s turn to demonstrate his skill, Plagueis spoke continuously from behind him, adding distraction to the distinct possibility of inadvertent disintegration.

“A being trained in the killing arts doesn’t wait for you to acquire him as a target, or establish him or herself as an opponent, as if in some martial arts contest. Your reactions must be instantaneous and nothing less than lethal, for you are a Sith Lord, and will be marked for death.”

The droids continued to converge, ring after ring of them, until the floor was piled high with smoking husks. Plagueis issued a voice command that brought the onslaught to an abrupt end and deactivated his lightsaber. The pinging of cooling weapons, the hiss of escaping gas, the unsteady whir of failing servomotors punctuated the sudden silence. Alloy limbs spasmed and photoreceptors winked out, surrendering their eerie glow. The recycled air was rotten with the smell of fried circuitry.

“Feast your eyes on our handiwork,” Plagueis said, gesturing broadly.

The first paragraph introduces the situation: Plagueis and Sidious are surrounded by 200 combat droids arranged in concentric rings, wielding a diverse range of projectile weaponry. In the second paragraph Plagueis tells Sidious he must be able to immediately identify the type of weapon his foe is using, and its exact properties, so that he may be able to best guard himself against it and counter it. Plagueis is then described as putting “his words into action,” so we can infer he is an expert on every type of projectile weapon. I feel it’s reasonable to extend this intimate knowledge to melee weapons such as lightsabers as well, given the risk of being dropped into combat against Jedi is very real, and if he emphasizes the importance of familiarizing oneself with something as mundane as blasters and the like, I don’t see why he wouldn’t do so for lightsabers. So it’s probable Plagueis knows how to counter the double-bladed and curve-hilted lightsabers just as well as the straight-hilted, single-bladed one.

Plagueis runs around Sidious fast enough to successfully deflect every volley of the omnidirectional fire. At other times he intentionally eschews blocking the bolts, but instead contorts his nimble body so that the bolts would miss him by centimeters. After all the droids are scrap metal, Sidious takes over for the next ring, and the two Sith take turns one ring after another, repeating the feat multiple times in a row. Here Plagueis demonstrates the ability to perceive the trajectories of each and every blaster bolt in real time and move fast enough to intercept them while they are coming from every direction - from his front, his sides, and his back - and also pay enough attention to the specific type of weapon they are fired from. Essentially, in a fight he is able to consistently divide his attention between innumerable entities and make note of the slightest of details.

Finally, he comments to Sidious that as a Sith Lord, he must be perpetually prepared for the possibility of an ambush or a sneak attack, and that his reactions must be instantaneous and always lethal. It can then be inferred Plagueis is constantly on the watch for potential assassination attempts and in a fight always goes for the kill without toying with his opponents.

4. 54 BBY Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious vs. hundreds of Kursid warriors:

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis wrote:The location of the planet known to the Sith as Kursid had been expunged from Republic records in distant times, and for the past six hundred years had been reserved for use as a place of spectacle. Masters and apprentices of the Bane lineage had visited with enough regularity that a cult had come into being in that part of the world based on the periodic return of the sky visitors. The Sith hadn’t bothered to investigate what Kursid’s indigenous humanoids thought about the visits—whether in their belief systems the Sith were regarded as the equivalent of deities or demons—since it was unlikely that the primitives had yet so much as named their world. However, visiting as apprentice and—more often than not—as Master, each Sith Lord had remarked on the slow advancement of Kursid’s civilization. How, on the early visits, the primitives had defended themselves with wooden war clubs and smooth rocks hurled from slings. Two hundred years later, many of the small settlements had grown to become cities or ceremonial centers built of hewn stone, with social classes of rulers and priests, merchants and warriors. Gradually the cities had become ringed with ranged weapons of a crude sort, and magical guardian symbols had been emblazoned on the sloping sides of defensive walls. At some point previous to Darth Tenebrous’s visit as an apprentice, replicas of the Sith ships had been constructed in the center of the arid plateau that served as a battleground, and enormous totemic figures—visible only from above—had been outlined by removing tens of thousands of fist-sized volcanic stones that covered the ground. On Plagueis’s first visit, some fifty years earlier, the warriors he and Tenebrous faced had been armed with longbows and metal-tipped lances.

That the Sith had never demanded anything other than battle hadn’t kept the primitives from attempting to adopt a policy of appeasement, leaving at the ships’ perpetual landing site foodstuffs, sacrificial victims, and works of what they considered art, forged of materials they held precious or sacred. But the Sith had simply ignored the offerings, waiting instead on the stony plain for the primitives to deploy their warriors, as the primitives did now with Plagueis and Sidious waiting.

Announcing their arrival with low runs over the city, they had set the ship down and waited for six days, while the mournful calls of breath-driven horns had disturbed the dry silences, and groups of primitives had flocked in to gather on the hillsides that overlooked the battleground.

“Do you recall what Darth Bane said regarding the killing of innocents?” Plagueis had asked.

“Our mission,” Sidious paraphrased, “is not to bring death on all those unfit to live. All we do must serve our true purpose—the preservation of our Order and the survival of the Sith. We must work to grow our power, and to accomplish that we will need to interact with individuals of many species across many worlds. Eventually word of our existence will reach the ears of the Jedi.”

To refrain from senseless killing, they wielded force pikes rather than lightsabers. Meter-long melee weapons used by the Echani and carried by the Senate Guard, the pikes were equipped with stun-module tips capable of delivering a shock that could overwhelm the nervous systems of most sentients, without causing permanent damage.

“The next few hours will test the limits of your agility, speed, and accuracy,” Plagueis said, as several hundred of the biggest, bravest, and most skilled warriors—their bodies daubed in pigments derived from plants, clay, and soil—began to separate themselves from the crowds. “But this is more than some simple exercise in proficiency; it is a rite of passage for these beings, as they are assistants in our rise to ultimate power, and therefore servants of the dark side of the Force. Centuries from now, advanced by the Sith, they might confront us with projectile weapons or energy beams. But by then we will have evolved, as well, perhaps past the need for this rite, and we will come instead to honor rather than engage them in battle. Through power we gain victory, and through victory our chains are broken. But power is only a means to an end.”

To the clamorous beating of drums and the wailing of the onlookers, the warriors brandished their weapons, raised a deafening war cry, and attacked. A nod from Plagueis, and the two Sith sped across the plain to meet them, flying among them like wraiths, evading arrows, gleaming spear tips, and blows from battle-axes, going one against one, two, or three, but felling opponent after opponent with taps from the force pikes, until among the hundreds of jerking, twitching bodies sprawled on the rough ground, only one was left standing.

Around six hundred years before 54 BBY, so ever since 654 BBY, the Banite Sith have used the planet Kursid as a training ground, facing off against its inhabitants. The rite entails combating a swarm of the native Kursid warriors in the hundreds, while wielding non-lethal weaponry. The goal is to incapacitate every last one while sustaining as few injuries as possible, testing one’s agility, speed, and accuracy. The rite usually takes several hours, thus also requiring great stamina. Plagueis completes this trial once as an apprentice and once as a Sith Master, suggesting he scales far above his first time during which he, logically, demonstrated excellence in all of the aforementioned attributes the rite is meant to test, capable of taking note of and reacting to every blow coming from every angle as he is surrounded on all sides while precisely disabling hundreds of his assailants one by one without error.

5. Darth Plagueis vs. 24 Maladian assassins:

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis wrote:At the same instant Hill’s right knee touched the polished stone, a jangle of foreboding laddered up Plagueis’s spine. Turning ever so slightly, he saw that 11-4D had rotated its head toward him in a gesture Plagueis had come to associate with alarm. The dark side fell over him like a shroud, but instead of acting on impulse, he restrained himself, fearful of betraying his true nature prematurely. In that instant of hesitation, time came to a standstill, and several events happened at once.

The high official gave a downward tug to the pendant he had placed around Hill’s neck, and the old Muun’s head toppled from his shoulders and began to roll down the tipped stage. Blood geysered from Hill’s neck, and his body fell to one side with a thud and began to jerk back and forth as one after another of his hearts failed.

Yanking their hands from the roomy, opposite sleeves of their robes, the hooded members of the order made sidelong throwing motions, which sent dozens of decapitator disks screaming through the air. Muuns to both sides of Plagueis fell to their knees, their last breaths caught in their throats. A disk buried deep in his forehead, one of the Sun Guards twirled in front of Plagueis like a crazed marionette. Blood fountained, turning to mist. Struck in at least three places and leaking lubricant, 11-4D was trying to limp to Plagueis’s side when another disk whirled into its alloy body, touching off a storm of sparks and smoke.

Plagueis pressed his right hand to the right side of his neck to discover that a disk had made off with a considerable hunk of his jawbone and neck, and in its cruel passing had severed his trachea and several blood vessels. He cupped the Force against the injury to keep himself from lapsing into unconsciousness, but he fell to the floor regardless, with blood pumping onto the already slick stone circle. Around him, slanted in his faltering vision, the assassins had drawn vibroblades from the other sleeves of the robes and were beginning a methodical advance on the few Muuns who were still standing. A hail of bolts streaked from the blaster cradled in the arms of the remaining Sun Guard, sweeping half a dozen hooded beings off the rim of the circle, before he himself was butchered.

Tricked, Plagueis thought, as pained by the realization as he was by the wound. Outmaneuvered by a group of inferior beings who at least had had sense enough to place artfulness above arrogance.

[...]

Slumped on his right side, knees drawn up to his chest, eyes open but unmoving, Plagueis watched the second Echani succumb to multiple stabs from the assassins’ vibroblades. With blood welling out from under Plagueis’s cupped right hand and glistening in a pool on the floor beneath his neck, they had taken him for dead. But now they were moving from the body of one fallen Muun to the next, checking for signs of life and finishing what they had begun. A few had lowered their black hoods, revealing themselves to be Maladians—the same group Sidious had employed to deal with Vidar Kim.

For an instant he wondered if Sidious had secretly taken out a second contract, but he immediately dismissed the thought—born as it was of his not wanting to admit to himself that the Gran had bested him. He wondered if the Maladians had actually been bold enough to kill the prominent Canted Circle members they were impersonating. Unlikely, given that the assassins were known and respected for their professionalism. The members had probably been rendered unconscious by gas or some other means.

Not a meter away stood 11-4D, five decapitator disks protruding from his alloy body and telltale lights blinking, in the midst of a self-diagnosis routine. Having run himself through a similar test, Plagueis knew that he had lost a great deal of blood, and that one of his subsidiary hearts was in fibrillation. Sith techniques had helped him perform chemical cardioversions on his other two hearts, but one of them was working so hard to compensate that it, too, was in danger of becoming arrhythmic. Plagueis moved his eyes just enough to fix the locations of some of the two dozen assassins that had survived the Sun Guards’ counterattack; then he dug deep into the Force and catapulted himself to his feet.

The closest of the assassins swung to him with raised vibroblades and rushed forward, only to be flung backward off the canted stage and against the room’s curved walls. Others Plagueis felled with his hands by snapping necks and putting his fists through armored torsos. Spreading his arms wide, he clapped his hands together, turning every loose object in the vicinity into a deadly projectile. But the Maladians were far from run-of-the-mill murderers. Members of the cult had killed and wounded Jedi, and in response to confronting Force powers, they didn’t shrink or flee but simply changed tactics, moving with astounding agility to surround Plagueis and wait for openings.

The wait lasted only until Plagueis attempted to unleash lightning. His second subsidiary heart failed, paralyzing him with pain and nearly plunging him into unconsciousness. The assassins wasted not a moment, throwing themselves at him in groups, though in a vain attempt to penetrate the Force shield he raised. Again he rallied, this time with a ragged sound dredged from deep inside that erupted from him like a sonic weapon, shattering the eardrums of those within ten meters and compelling the rest to bring their hands to their ears.

In blinding motion his hands and feet smashed skulls and windpipes. He stopped once to conjure a Force wave that all but atomized the bodies of six Maladians. He spun through a turn, dragging the wave halfway around the room to kill half a dozen more. But even that wasn’t enough to deter his assailants. They flew against him again, making the most of his momentary weakness to open gashes on his arms and shoulders. Down on one knee, he levitated a Sun Guard blaster from the floor and called it toward him; but one of the assassins succeeded in altering its trajectory by hurling himself into the path of the airborne weapon.

With nothing more than the Force of his mind, Plagueis rattled the floor, knocking some of the assassins off their feet, but others rushed in to take their places, slashing at him with their vibroblades from every angle. He knew that he had life enough to conjure one final counteroffensive. He was a moment from loosing hell on the Maladians when he sensed Sidious enter the room.

Sidious and Sate Pestage, in whose hands a repeating blaster fashioned a hell of its own, a barrage of light that separated limbs from torsos, hooded heads from cloaked shoulders. Hurrying to Plagueis’s side, Sidious lifted him upright, and in unison they brought swift death to the rest.

Firstly, let’s examine the context of the scene. Plagueis does sense danger before the attack happens, but he restrains himself to avoid betraying his true identity prematurely. The mistake of leaving himself vulnerable costs him “a considerable hunk of his jawbone and neck” along with his trachea and several blood vessels, which were all severed by the decapitator disks, resulting in a “faltering vision,” losing “a great deal of blood,” and one of his hearts going into fibrillation. Again, it should be emphasized that Plagueis left himself deliberately vulnerable; if he had erected his defenses, he might very well have been able to tank the disks considering he could endure the claws and fangs of a Kaleesh and an Aqualish in the Woebegone fight without a scratch on his skin, so this can’t be used to lowball Plagueis’ durability. Regardless, these are the injuries Plagueis was suffering from for the duration of the entire fight, and despite attempting to cup “the Force against the injury to keep himself from lapsing into unconsciousness,” “he fell to the floor regardless, with blood pumping onto the already slick stone circle,” and the blood was continuing to well “out from under Plagueis’s cupped right hand,” and nowhere in the text is it stated that the bleeding ceased, so Plagueis’ condition would have gradually worsened the longer the fight went on.

It is in this condition - missing his jaw and half of his neck, sporting a severed trachea and a failed heart, and bleeding profusely - that Plagueis jumps to his feet and begins to lay waste to the assassins. Those nearest to him are smashed against the walls by telekinesis, and the following ones have their necks snapped and torsos penetrated by Plagueis’ hands and fists. Next, he pelts his assailants with loose objects that he turns into “deadly projectiles” with telekinesis. Even when his second heart abruptly fails, “paralyzing him with pain and nearly plunging him into unconsciousness,” he recovers quickly enough to raise a Force barrier to halt the onrushing assassins, and responds with a Force scream that shatters the eardrums of those within a ten-meter radius and compels the rest to bring their hands to their ears. Plagueis once more switches to melee, smashing skulls and windpipes with his hands and feet “In blinding motion,” and then unleashes another wave of telekinesis to “all but atomize” six of the Maladians, who were wearing armor, and then drags the wave around to kill six more. Investigators later suspected bombs had been detonated as a result of the carnage Plagueis wreaked.

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis wrote:Assassinations, murders, and other crimes were no match for the codes of silence that had governed the Order of the Canted Circle, the Gran Protectorate, Santhe Security, and the Jedi High Council almost since their inceptions. Had the elite members and private guards of the Canted Circle not been drugged and found unconscious in dressing rooms and other places, police investigators summoned to the headquarters by two Jedi Knights would never have been allowed to enter the landmark building, let alone the order’s vaunted initiation room, in which were discovered the bodies of two Echani, believed to be bodyguards; a dozen Muuns, killed by decapitator disks and vibroblades; and three times that number of Maladian assassins dressed in borrowed robes, who had succumbed to blaster bolts, blunt-force injuries, and, in some cases, traumatic amputations. So scattered were the latter, investigators initially suspected that an explosive device had been detonated, but no trace of a device was ever uncovered. The Muuns were quickly identified as top-ranking members of a clandestine financial group known as Damask Holdings, though its wealthy founder and chief operating officer, Hego Damask, was believed to have survived the sneak attack. The Jedi who had alerted the police never revealed what had drawn them to the Fobosi district to begin with, or why they expressed such interest in the case. As well, the members of the Order of the Canted Circle refused to answer any questions.

The Maladians only manage to get hits on Plagueis by “making most of his momentary weakness” (unspecified, sadly). However, despite striking at him with vibroblades, they can at best open “gashes on his arms and shoulders” even though a vibroblade should easily sever a limb, indicating Plagueis can harden his body to mitigate obscene levels of piercing damage. And while he’s being struck at, he is able to levitate a blaster pistol to his hand, but one of the assassins manages hurl himself in front of its flight path, so instead Plagueis shakes the floor with telekinesis, knocking some of his assailants off their feet. More take their places, however, and continue “slashing at him with their vibroblades from every angle,” but despite this, Plagueis is confident that he could still unleash “hell” on the Maladians and was a moment away from doing so until Sidious and Sate Pestage interrupt the battle, indicating that the vibroblades were still having scant effect on Plagueis, or that he was dodging them. Sidious and Plagueis then quickly butcher the rest together.

The Maladians’ battle prowess should also be highlighted. They are “far from run-of-the-mill murderers,” having “killed and wounded Jedi,” being “very good at what they do.” When confronted with Force powers, their tactics are to move with “astounding agility” to surround their opponent and wait for openings to pounce on. Also consider how many sources depict non-Force-users challenging even high-tier Force-users.

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis wrote:Palpatine directed a scowl at the comlink cam. “Why didn’t you warn her about Ronhar?”

“I did warn her. Maybe she wanted to add another Jedi kill to her résumé.”

“Another?”

“As I told you, the Maladians are very good at what they do.”

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis wrote:The closest of the assassins swung to him with raised vibroblades and rushed forward, only to be flung backward off the canted stage and against the room’s curved walls. Others Plagueis felled with his hands by snapping necks and putting his fists through armored torsos. Spreading his arms wide, he clapped his hands together, turning every loose object in the vicinity into a deadly projectile. But the Maladians were far from run-of-the-mill murderers. Members of the cult had killed and wounded Jedi, and in response to confronting Force powers, they didn’t shrink or flee but simply changed tactics, moving with astounding agility to surround Plagueis and wait for openings.

Despite all that, Plagueis obliterates his opposition. He one-shots multitudes of Maladians with his hands and feet one after another before any of them can react, and one-shots them with telekinesis as well, pulverizing six of them in the vein of an explosive device. The Maladians are clearly fast enough to dodge telekinetic attacks from other Jedi and can hang with them in melee combat, but against Plagueis they are utterly helpless; his speed, both physically and with the Force, is far too much for them. This also shows Plagueis can alternate between physical and Force attacks seamlessly on the fly, and is creative with his applications of telekinesis, using it to attack his opponents directly and exploiting the environment by hurling loose objects at his foe or unbalancing them by shaking the ground.

The Maladians only manage to get close toward the end of the fight when Plagueis has continued to lose blood, and even then only by taking advantage of a “momentary weakness.” Regardless, they could only do comparatively minor damage, demonstrating that even when being swarmed with hordes of enemies who are relentless attacking him, Plagueis can utilize a variety of offensive Force abilities while enduring the onslaught with his baseline durability. And Plagueis would have won that fight on his own, by the way: the text notes “He was a moment from loosing hell on the Maladians when he sensed Sidious enter the room.”

In summary: Maul’s flesh is wounded by a Togorian pirate’s vibro-axe and razors; Plagueis can turn his skin to stone against sharp claws and teeth, and endure vibroblade hits to an extent. Maul runs from some 30 Turken Raiders armed with gaderffii sticks, and states the fight would tax him; Plagueis incapacitates hundreds of Kursid warriors armed with spears, axes, and bows, first as an apprentice, and later does so presumably far more effortlessly as a much stronger Sith Master; and he also annihilates 24 Maladians who are trained and experienced Jedi killers in a far worse condition than any fight Maul has ever been in. Maul gets shot multiple times in the leg during a span of 24 seconds while trying to run from a dozen or so pirates and block their fire; Plagueis blocks or evades omnidirectional blaster fire from roughly a hundred combat automata and destroys them all with deflected bolts. Maul cannot slash a Zabrak bounty hunter who is rolling on the floor in front of him, fails to notice a dog running up to him from directly in front of him, that then tackles and pins him to the ground while he struggles to get it off of him, and one freed grapples briefly with the bounty hunter to subdue her, having delivered two kicks to her over the course of the altercation; Plagueis is able to maintain awareness of the attacks of two, three, and even a dozen adversaries at once while surrounded and target multiple of them with distinct Force abilities simultaneously, his kick sends a Zabrak flying across a room and hospitalizes him on the spot, and his hands and feet casually snap necks, smash skulls and puncture armored torsos before any of his armed, Jedi-killing opponents can react. Maul considers the goal of the Sith to be able to fight without thought, and he repeats exercises he has performed flawlessly for years in order to achieve this goal; Plagueis has already achieved it, and is able to toggle said mental state on and off at will, turning a fight to the death, against a master of multiple lightsaber forms and aerial combat who was also familiar with the specifics of Plagueis’s own style, into a mere training exercise by comparison, if he so chooses. All of Maul’s mentioned anti-feats are during or after The Phantom Menace, while all of Plagueis’s mentioned feats occur decades before his prime when he is tremendously more powerful.

I would put far more weight on all those comparisons considering they pertain to actual combat rather than Force sense. That is, if you want to stick to your lowballing and still think Naat Lare is somehow any more relevant than the weather outside. Even then, I’d pose the challenge of whether Maul or any of his opponents like Qui-Gon, even with their best feats and performances, can stack up to just those mundane feats Plagueis has on a consistent basis. Maybe they can, maybe they can’t. I’ll wait and see what methodology you opt to employ.

[hideedit]

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January 19th 2023, 9:20 pm

DARTH PLAGUEIS VS. DARTH SIDIOUS VS. DARTH MAUL

In 34 BBY, Plagueis and Sidious are discussing Maul’s training, and when Sidious tells him of his fight with him on Hypori three years earlier, Plagueis states that Sidious has allowed Maul to believe he is more skilled than he actually is. Conversely, Plagueis replies he has always been honest with Sidious when the latter assumes his Master has done the same to him - given the context, the obvious implication is that Plagueis and Sidious have fought in a way evocative of the Hypori duel. Adjacently, there is no evidence, that I am aware of, that anyone or anything besides Plagueis himself is responsible for the bulk of Sidious’ base proficiency with the lightsaber. All the skill, ferocity, and technical prowess he displays in The Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith are something Plagueis instilled in him, only filtered through his own Force attunement.

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis wrote:Just arrived on the Hunters' Moon, Sidious studied Plagueis as the Sith Lord and his droid, 11-4D, viewed a holorecording of a black-robed Zabrak assassin making short work of combat automata in his home on Coruscant, some hovering, some advancing on two legs, others on treads, and all firing blasters.

Twenty years had added a slight stoop to the Muun's posture and veins that stood out under his thinning white skin. He wore a dark green utility suit that hugged his delicate frame, a green cloak that fell from his bony shoulders to the fort's stone floor, and a headpiece that hewed to his large cranium. A triangular breath mask covered his ruined, prognathus lower jaw, his mouth, part of his long neck, and what remained of the craggy nose he'd had before the surprise attack in the Fobosi. A device of his own invention, the alloy mask featured two vertical slits and a pair of thin, stiff conduits that linked it to a transpirator affixed to his upper chest, beneath an armored torso harness. He had learned to ingest and imbibe through feeding tubes, and through his nose.

Seen through the Force, he was a nuclear oval of mottled light, a rotating orb of terrifying energy. If the Maladian attack had weakened him physically, it had also helped to shape his etheric body into a vessel sufficiently strong to contain the full power of the dark side. Determined never again to be caught off guard, he had trained himself to go without sleep, and had devoted two standard decades to day-and-night experimentation with midi-chlorian manipulation and attempts to wrest a few last secrets from the Force, so that he - and presumably his human apprentice - might live forever. His inward turn had enabled him to master the equally powerful energies of order and disorder, creation and entropy, life and death.

“You have made him fearsome,” Plagueis remarked without turning from the recording, as the athletic Zabrak cleaved a Colicoid Eradicator droid down the middle and whirled to cut two others in half. The yellow-eyed humanoid’s hairless head bore a crown of small horns and geometrical patterns of black and red markings.

“Fearless, as well,” Sidious said.

“Still, they are only droids.”

“He’s even more formidable against living beings.”

Plagueis looked over his shoulder, his eyes narrowed in question. “You’ve fought him in a serious way?” Reconstructed vocal chords and trachea imparted a metallic quality to his voice, as if he were speaking through an enunciator.

“I stranded him on Hypori for a month without food and with only a horde of assassin droids for company. Then I returned to goad and challenge him. All things considered, he fought well, even after I deprived him of his lightsaber. He wanted to kill me, but was prepared to die at my hand.”

Plagueis turned fully to face him. “Rather than punish him for disobedience, you praised his resolve.”

“He was already humbled. I chose to leave his honor intact. I proclaimed him my myrmidon; the embodiment of the violent half of our partnership.”

“Partnership?” Plagueis repeated harshly.

“His and mine; not ours.”

“Regardless, you allowed him to believe that he is more skilled than he actually is.”

“Did you not do the same for me?”

Plagueis’s eyes reflected disappointment. “Never, Sidious. I have always been truthful with you.”

The key takeaways from the discussion are that, as of 34 BBY, Maul is not as close to Sidious in a lightsaber duel as he might think, and Sidious is inferior to Plagueis. Additionally, Sidious perceives Plagueis through the Force as “a nuclear oval of mottled light, a rotating orb of terrifying energy,” and “a vessel sufficiently strong to contain the full power of the dark side.” Quite self-explanatory: Sidious is outright terrified of Plagueis’s passive Force aura only two years before The Phantom Menace.

A year later, Sidious hatches a scheme to procure a nuclear weapon from a clandestine arms dealer, Iram Radique, located inside the high security prison, Cog Hive Seven. He dispatches Maul to infiltrate the facility and acquire the weapon in order to use it on Plagueis while the latter is in his private residence on Sojourn. While Maul’s operation is ongoing, Sidious is “careful to sound as casual as possible” when speaking of it to Plagueis, spinning a cover story he had “carefully fabricated to hold up to the most intense scrutiny, if necessary.” However, when Plagueis probes into his intent in slightly more detail than usual, Sidious feels “an unwelcome warmth beginning to climb upward through the back of his neck, enveloping his cheeks and forehead.” He is adamant that “At no point in the operation could the Muun be allowed to speculate that Sidious had truly sent Maul to Cog Hive Seven in order to purchase the nuclear device that the Bando Gora would ultimately use against Plagueis.”

Star Wars: Maul - Lockdown wrote:You must be relentless, Sidious had told him. Use every means at your disposal to gather information. We have an extremely finite amount of time in which to arrange for the purchase of the nuclear device from Radique and its delivery into the hands of the Bando Gora. But throughout it all you must keep in mind that in Cog Hive Seven, the name of Iram Radique will always be spoken with dread.

Star Wars: Maul - Lockdown wrote:“Listen to me, boy. There’s no time for excuses. I saw Iram Radique. I need to know anything else your father can tell us about Radique’s relationship with the Bando Gora. They are the ones who are going to take possession of Radique’s most destructive weapon, a proscribed nuclear device. This is my mission.”

Star Wars: Maul - Lockdown wrote:"Yes." Behind the transpirator mask, Darth Plagueis offered what might have been a faint smile. "I know we had plans to meet later in Monument Plaza for our usual stroll, but something's come up and I had to alter my schedule at the last minute. I thought it best that we meet now." He turned to Sidious and cast a passing glance back at the LiMerge Building. "I take it that you've been in touch with the Zabrak?"

"As a matter of fact, I just-"

"I recall you mentioning that you've dispatched him to Cog Hive Seven to find this elusive weapons dealer?"

"Iram Radique, yes." Sidious was careful to sound as casual as possible, although inside he was already puzzled. Darth Plagueis knew only the broadest generalities about Darth Sidious's ongoing work to destabilize the Outer Rim planets and orchestrate the Galactic Civil War. He rarely asked specific questions about where the weapons were coming from, or how exactly Sidious intended to use them to facilitate the Grand Plan.

"This Radique," Plagueis continued in the same conversational tone as he gazed out the window at the approaching Avenue of the Core Founders, "is rumored to be one of the most powerful arms dealers in the galaxy?"

"Radique is as dangerous as he is unpredictable." Sidious was aware of an unwelcome warmth beginning to climb upward through the back of his neck, enveloping his cheeks and forehead. "Which is why I sent Maul to assassinate him."

"I see."

Sidious leaned slightly forward in an attempt to catch Plagueis's eye. "I've been meaning to inform you. My mission there-"

"Is something I have absolute confidence in your ability to execute." Plagueis placed a hand on Sidious's shoulder. "I must commend you on your foresight and commitment to our ultimate purpose, Darth Sidious. As you might have guessed, with the increasing demands of my own … private pursuits on Sojourn, I find it profoundly liberating that I do not need to monitor the particular means with which you uphold our united goal."

"Yes, of course." Sidious regarded him speculatively. What exactly was Plagueis telling him? Did the Muun harbor his own dark suspicions about what Sidious had hoped to achieve in sending Maul to Cog Hive Seven? Or was Plagueis simply probing him for more detail?

Star Wars: Maul - Lockdown wrote:“As I said,” Sidious began, “the assassination of Iram Radique was necessary in order to further our ultimate goals with the Grand Plan …” He paused, deliberately leaving the explanation unfinished long enough to observe whether Damask might be interested in hearing more of the cover story, which had been carefully fabricated to hold up to the most intense scrutiny, if necessary. At no point in the operation could the Muun be allowed to speculate that Sidious had truly sent Maul to Cog Hive Seven in order to purchase the nuclear device that the Bando Gora would ultimately use against Plagueis. Such a possibility, even now, was inconceivable.

Star Wars: Maul - Lockdown wrote:Sidious stared at the Muun for a long, searching moment, wondering if there was something else beneath Plagueis’s words, an entire substratum of meaning that he’d overlooked until now. Had Plagueis begun to guess at his true purpose in sending Maul to Cog Hive Seven? How would he react to the revelation of what had happened in those final moments, if he ever found out that the Bando Gora had been there and taken possession of the nuclear device whose procurement had been his ultimate goal there?

You’re presumably familiar with the mock hypothetical “Well, why didn’t they just nuke him out of orbit?” Except this time that’s literally what Sidious tries to do rather than face Plagueis head-on; he’d rather go through all the trouble of sending in Maul to acquire the nuke and have it delivered to Damask’s political enemies, and concocting an elaborate cover story that he shits his pants over the prospect of his Master seeing through, rather than simply lure the guy to a secluded location where he could take care of it personally. That’s how powerful Sidious views his Master to be only a year before The Phantom Menace. Later, Plagueis’s survival of the bombing makes him appear “almost omnipotent” in Sidious’s eyes, who is overcome with envy.

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis wrote:Plagueis swung to the navicomputer as concussions rocked the ship. He had placed one hand on the device’s keyboard when the sky seemed to give birth to a sphere of blinding light. Following a moment of absolute stillness, a cascade of infernal energy descended on what remained of the fort and concentric rings of explosive power radiated outward, leveling everything within a twenty-kilometer radius from ground zero. The Infiltrator was lifted like a bird caught in a thermal, and for a moment all its systems failed.

Plagueis sat in enraged disbelief.

Somehow, Veruna and his cohorts—Gardulla, Black Sun, and the Bando Gora—had gotten their hands on a proscribed nuclear device. None of the Sun Guards could have survived the blast; but then they didn’t deserve to. Nuclear weapons were scarce, and the Echani had obviously neglected to check with the few black-market suppliers that had access to them.

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis wrote:The Muun’s renewed vigor had taken Sidious by surprise. The mere fact that he had escaped the devastation on Sojourn made him seem almost omnipotent. Though even when ensconced in his affluent citadel in the Manarai district, he had yet to relax his vigilance or submit to sleep.

Repressing a sudden feeling of envy, Sidious began to wonder if—blinded by the dark side—he had actually failed to divine Veruna’s attack on Sojourn, or if he hadn’t allowed himself to divine it.

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis wrote:“I could have let you die in the Fobosi district, but I couldn’t allow that to happen when there was still so much I didn’t know; so many powers that remained just outside my reach. And as it happened, I acted wisely in rescuing you. Otherwise how could I be standing here and you be dying? I actually thought you would die on Sojourn—and you would have if the Hutt hadn’t tipped you off to Veruna’s scheme.

Even after Plagueis’s death, Sidious is “Wary of approaching the corpse of his former Master” out of worry he might have cheated death after all. He is ”concerned for his own safety” and holding his breath in, only letting out a sigh of relief after verifying his Master’s passing as a certainty. While Sidious is a notoriously paranoid individual who has expressed fear of the talents of those far beneath his own level (e.g. Asajj Ventress and Luke Skywalker), the only other being besides Plagueis who he has been reluctant to engage in direct combat is Yoda. He doesn’t shit about the prospect of fighting Mace and the B-team, pre-suit Vader, Luke, Dooku, or Maul and Opress - only Plagueis and Yoda can boast they’ve made Sidious anxious about fighting someone.

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis wrote:Also sprawled there, Plagueis: his slender limbs splayed and elongated head turned to one side. Dressed in finery, as for a night on the town.

And now dead.

Or was he?

Uncertainty rippled through Sidious, rage returning to his eyes. A tremor of his own making, or one of forewarning?

Was it possible that the wily Muun had deceived him? Had Plagueis unlocked the key to immortality, and survived after all? Never mind that it would constitute a petty move for one so wise-for one who had professed to place the Grand Plan above all else. Had Plagueis become ensnared in a self-spun web of jealousy and possessiveness, victim of his own engineering, his own foibles?

If he hadn't been concerned for his own safety, Sidious might have pitied him.

Wary of approaching the corpse of his former Master, he called on the Force to roll the aged Muun over onto his back. From that angle Plagueis looked almost as he had when Sidious first met him, decades earlier: smooth, hairless cranium; humped nose, with its bridge flattened as if from a shock-ball blow and its sharp tip pressed almost to his upper lip; jutting lower jaw; sunken eyes still brimming with menace-a physical characteristic rarely encountered in a Muun. But then Plagueis had never been an ordinary Muun, nor an ordinary being of any sort.

Sidious took care, still reaching out with the Force. On closer inspection, he saw that Plagueis's already cyanotic flesh was smoothing out, his features relaxing.

Faintly aware of the whir of air scrubbers and sounds of the outside world infiltrating the luxurious suite, he continued the vigil; then, in relief, he pulled himself up to his full height and let out his breath. This was no Sith trick. Not an instance of feigning death, but one of succumbing to its cold embrace. The being who had guided him to power was gone.

– – –

Ethan wrote:So again, though there is a parity indication between Sidious and Plagueis, I do not think it means TPM era Sidious and Plagueis, I think there is a gap there. So even though Plagueis is alive much later after the retcon, the principle powers he would've taught Sidious remain the same, and the relationships between Maul and Sidious as of TPM, I believe, remain the same, and I think the relationship between time of death Plagueis and Sidious is the one called into question, based on the difference in timescale and the properties the characters exhibit in-universe.

You posted these quotes yourself, but it’s established multiple times that “In true Sith tradition, Sidious killed his Master upon acquiring the skill and ability to do so.” The preposition “upon” necessitates that Sidious reached his Master’s level within a narrow timeframe of committing the murder i.e. he didn’t wait around for years to dispose of him by his own hand. Not only is causation implicit in the wording, but “true Sith tradition” is an obvious reference to the duels Banite apprentices challenged their Masters to once they hovered around equality. TPM Sidious and Plagueis are peers with only a marginal edge to the former. Even then, James Luceno believes that “had it come down to a contest of lightsabers or Force powers” “Plagueis may have found a way to undermine his apprentice.”

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Star Wars: Darth Plagueis wrote:During the long period between the Gran's sneak attack and the first Gathering of the new era, Sidious had spoken with Plagueis only by holo. Left to progress on his own, he had trained the Zabrak in secret on Mustafar, Tosste, and Orsis, visited several Sith worlds, and spent considerable time studying the Sith texts and holocrons that remained under guard on Aborah. From the Sun Guards, Sidious heard that Damask had locked himself away in the fort and was scarcely seen. On the few occasions Damask had summoned them, they had found the living quarters in shambles, some of the experimental subjects dead in their cages or cells, and many of the droids malfunctioning. Creatures from the surrounding greel forests had invaded and taken up residence in the place, making nests in the turrets and devouring anything edible. While Damask - unwashed, emaciated, erratic in his behavior - had seemed capable of speech, it was 11-4D who had communicated Damask's orders and requests to the guards. At one point, the guards had been ordered to install more than two hundred holoprojectors in what had been the fort's armory, so that Damask could both monitor current events and immerse himself in historical recordings, some of which dated back hundreds of years.

Sidious knew that his own powers had increased tenfold over the decades, but he couldn't be certain he had learned all of Plagueis's secrets - "his sorcerer's ways," as the Sun Guards referred to them - including the ability to prevent beings from dying. He sometimes wondered: Was he a level behind? Two levels behind? Such questions were precisely what had driven generations of Sith apprentices ultimately to challenge their Masters. The uncertainty about who was the more powerful. The need to test themselves, to face the definitive trial. The temptation to take the mantle by force, to put one's own spin on the power of the dark side - as Darth Gravid had attempted, only to set the Sith back countless years...

– – –

Now, let’s see how TPM Sidious vs. TPM Maul goes:

Star Wars: Episode I Journal - Darth Maul wrote:Suddenly, my lightsaber is gone. It flies from my hand across the room. It lands in the hand of my Master.

I never see him enter. Not if he doesn't want me to.

The smile of triumph fades from my face.

"Do you think, " Lord Sidious says, walking toward me, "you can ever relax your guard?"

"No, Master. " What a clumsy, weak mistake. I should be prepared for him to enter at all times. How could I have forgotten that, even for a moment?

The lightsaber whirls in the air, twirling, held in my Master's hand. I can't track it, it moves so fast. But I know it's heading for me.

Lord Sidious moves faster than my eye can follow. I smell heat and smoke. The laser traces the outline of my body, my face, my hands. The buzz is loud in my ear. One flinch, one involuntary twitch of a muscle, and I am dead.

I do not flinch.

At last, Lord Sidious deactivates my weapon. He tosses it toward me. The sweat on my palm almost causes me to drop it.

"Do not let me see you relax your guard again, " my Master says. His eyes burn. "You are valuable, yes. But you are not indispensable, Lord Maul. I can do without you."

A flick of his robe, and he is gone.

This is perhaps the biggest on-page curbstomp in the history of published Star Wars media, rivaled only by Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Caedus. Genuine speedblitzes are exceedingly rare, as they are often the result of calculated bursts that catch the opponent off-guard, rather than indicative of such an enormous disparity in power that the weaker Force-user is unable to do anything to mount a defense (cf. exploiting lapses in Force shields vs. breaking through them). Yet Sidious’s movements are so fast that Maul cannot track them - not merely too fast for his eyes but still perceptible through the Force, but outright impossible to follow at all. Sidious then proceeds to trace the outline of Maul’s body with such faultless precision that “one involuntary twitch of a muscle” would have been the end of him. The common rebuttal has always been that Maul was unarmed, but that detail is wholly superfluous. How would he block strikes when he cannot process where they are coming from? How would holding a lightsaber in his hand be of any use when the entirety of the surface area of that hand, alongside that of his face and the rest of his body, is covered in the plasma from Sidious’s blade? How could he raise his arm in defense when flinching a muscle kills him? Another excuse I’ve seen is that just prior Maul was slightly hungry and had fought three assassin droids, but I’m not going to dignify it with a rebuttal unless you happen to use it in your next post.

This is effectively a Darth Krayt/Darth Talon situation where Krayt laces her entire body with lightning. Maul is Sidious’s minion who spends every waking moment of his existence trying his hardest to please his Master, and whose life and death are wholly defined and controlled by him. Even the line, “I never see him enter. Not if he doesn’t want me to,” conveys an enormous gap in power, mastery, and status: Sidious, if he so desires, can be totally invisible to Maul. The whole scene is the most blatant, in-your-face declaration of the dynamic between the two.

I won’t touch too much on midi-chlorian manipulation in this post, but I will highlight the feat Plagueis has moments before his death, since it can also be used as a comparison in the amount of effort Sidious puts into trying to kill Plagueis vs. casually speedblitzing Maul to further emphasize the disparity between the characters. As with Plagueis’s other combat feats above, I will present the full scene first and then my analysis of it:

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis wrote:Plagueis had given the Sun Guards the night off, and the only other intelligence in the sprawling apartment was the droid 11-4D, their servant for the occasion, pouring wine into expensive glassware as they removed their cloaks.

“Sullustan,” Plagueis said, holding the glass up to the light and swirling its claret contents. “More than half a century old.”

“A toast, then,” Sidious said. “To the culmination of decades of brilliant planning and execution.”

“And to the new meaning we will tomorrow impart to the Rule of Two.”

They drained their glasses, and 11-4D immediately refilled them.

“Only you could have brought this to fruition, Darth Plagueis,” Sidious said, settling into a chair. “I will endeavor to live up your expectations and fulfill my responsibility.”

Plagueis took the compliment in stride, neither haughty nor embarrassed. “With my guidance and your charisma, we will soon be in a position to initiate the final act of the Grand Plan.” Making himself more comfortable on the couch, he signaled for 11-4D to open a second bottle of the vintage. “Have you given thought to what you will say tomorrow?”

“I have prepared some remarks,” Sidious said. “Shall I spoil the surprise?”

“Why not.”

Sidious took a moment to compose himself. “To begin, I thought I would say, that, while we in the Senate have managed to keep the Republic intact for a thousand years, we would never have been able to do so without the assistance of a few beings, largely invisible to the public eye, whose accomplishments now need to be brought into the light of day.”

Plagueis smiled. “I’m pleased. Go on.”

Speaking in a low monotone, Sidious said, “Hego Damask is one of those beings. It was Hego Damask who was responsible for overseeing development of the Republic Reserve Administration and for providing financial support for the Resettlement Acts that enabled beings to blaze new hyperspace routes to the outlying systems and colonize distant worlds.”

“That will come as a revelation to some.”

“In a similar fashion, it was Hego Damask who transformed the Trade Federation—”

“No, no,” Plagueis interrupted. “Now is not the time to mention the Trade Federation.”

“I thought—”

“I don’t see any problem with calling attention to the arrangements I facilitated between the Republic and the Corporate Alliance and the Techno Union. But we must take care to avoid areas of controversy.”

“Of course,” Sidious said, as if chastised. “I was speaking off the top of my head.”

“Try a different approach.”

So Sidious did.

And as the night wore on, he continued to amend and improvise, touching on Damask’s childhood on Mygeeto and on the elder Damask’s contributions to the InterGalactic Banking Clan during his term as co-chair. Wineglass in hand, Sidious paced the richly carpeted floor, often vacillating between confidence and misgiving. More than once, Plagueis voiced satisfaction with everything he heard, but he urged Sidious to save his energy for the morning. By then, though, Sidious was too wound up to heed the advice and kept reworking the order of the remarks and the emphasis he gave to certain points.
The droid brought out a third, then a fourth bottle of the Sullustan wine.

Pleasantly intoxicated, Plagueis, who had wanted nothing more than to revel in the sweet taste of victory, was beginning to find his collaborator’s performance exhausting, and wanted nothing more than to close his eyes and drift into imaginings of his march into the Senate Rotunda; the looks of surprise, astonishment, and trepidation on the faces of the gathered Senators; his long-anticipated emergence from the shadows; his ascension to galactic power …

Unfortunately, Sidious wouldn’t let him.

“That’s enough for now,” Plagueis tried one final time. “You should probably return home and get at least a few hours’ rest before—”

“Just one more time—from the beginning.”

“The beginning?”

“Lord Plagueis, you said you wouldn’t rest until our win was a matter of fact.”

“So it is, and so I shall, Darth Sidious.”

“Then let us celebrate that, as well.” Sidious beckoned to 11-4D. “Fill our glasses, droid.”

With dreamy weariness beginning to get the better of him, it was all Plagueis could do to lift the glass to his nose. No sooner did he set the drink down than it tipped over, saturating the tablecloth. His eyelids began to flicker and close, and his breathing slowed. In twenty years of never having had to contend with Plagueis in a state of sleep, the transpirator clicked repeatedly in adjustment, almost as if in panic.
A few meters distant, Sidious came to a halt, gazing at Plagueis for a long moment, as though making up his mind about something. Then, blowing out his breath, he set his own glass down and reached for the cloak he had draped over a chair. Swirling it around himself, he started for the door, only to stop shortly before he reached it. Turning and stretching out with the Force, he glanced around the room, as one might to fix a memory in the mind. Briefly his gaze fell on the droid, its glowing photoreceptors whirring to regard him in evident curiosity.

A look of sinister purpose contorted Sidious’s face.

Again, his eyes darted around the room, and the dark side whispered:

Your election assured, the Sun Guards absent, Plagueis unsuspecting and asleep …

And he moved in a blur.

Crackling from his fingertips, a web of blue lightning ground itself on the Muun’s breathing device. Plagueis’s eyes snapped open, the Force gathering in him like a storm, but he stopped short of defending himself. This being who had survived assassinations and killed countless opponents merely gazed at Sidious, until it struck him that Plagueis was challenging him! Confident that he couldn’t be killed, and in denial that he was slowly suffocating, he might have been simply experimenting with himself, actually courting death to put it in its place. Momentarily taken aback, Sidious stood absolutely still. Was Plagueis so self-deluded as to believe that he had achieved immortality?

The question lingered for only a moment, then Sidious unleashed another tangle of lightning, drawing more deeply on the dark side than he ever had.

“Let’s go over the second part of the speech, shall we,” he said, smoothing his tousled cloak. “You useless old fool.”

With a snarl, he threw the cloak back behind his shoulders and leaned toward Plagueis, planting his palms on the low table that was now puddled with spilled wine.

“It was Hego Damask as Darth Plagueis who came to Naboo, determined to suck the planet dry of plasma and set the Trade Federation up as its overseers. It was Hego Damask as Plagueis who then set his sights on a seemingly confused young man and, with meticulous skill, manipulated him into committing patricide, matricide, fratricide. Darth Plagueis who took him as an apprentice, sharing some of his knowledge but withholding his most powerful secrets, denying the apprentice his wishes as a means of controlling him, instilling in him a sense of murderous rage, and turning him to the dark side.” Sidious stood to his full height, glaring.

“It was Plagueis who criticized the early efforts of his apprentice, and who once choked him in a demonstration of his superiority.

“Plagueis, who denigrated him in private for hiring an inept assassin to carry out the murder of Senator Kim—and yet who allowed himself to be tricked by the Gran and nearly killed by mercenaries.

“Plagueis, who turned away from the Grand Plan to focus entirely on himself, in an egotistical quest for immortality.

“Plagueis who had the temerity to criticize his apprentice for having inculcated too much pride in the assassin he had trained.

“Plagueis who attempted to turn his equally powerful apprentice into a messenger and mere intermediary.

“And Plagueis who watched in secret while his apprentice tasked their true intermediary to reveal the reborn Sith to the galaxy.”

Sidious paused, then, in derision, added, “Plagueis the Wise, who in his time truly was, except at the end, trusting that the Rule of Two had been superseded, and failed to realize that he would not be excused from it. Plagueis the Wise, who forged the most powerful Sith Lord the galaxy has ever known, and yet who forgot to leave a place for himself; whose pride never allowed him to question that he would no longer be needed.”

Still struggling for breath, Plagueis managed to stand, but only to collapse back onto the couch, knocking a statue from its perch. Sidious moved in, his hands upraised to deliver another bolt, his expression arctic enough to chill the room. A Force storm gathered over the couch, spreading out in concentric rings, to wash over Sidious and hurl objects to all corners. In the center of it, Plagueis’s form became anamorphic, then resumed shape as the storm began to wane.

Sidious’s eyes bored into the Muun’s.

“How often you said that the old order of Bane had ended with the death of your Master. An apprentice no longer needs to be stronger, you told me, merely more clever. The era of keeping score, suspicion, and betrayal was over. Strength is not in the flesh but in the Force.”

He laughed. “You lost the game on the very first day you chose to train me to rule by your side—or better still, under your thumb. Teacher, yes, and for that I will be eternally grateful. But Master—never.”

Sidious peered at Plagueis through the Force. “Oh, yes, by all means gather your midi-chlorians, Plagueis.” He held his thumb and forefinger close together. “Try to keep yourself alive while I choke the life out of you.”

Plagueis gulped for air and lifted an arm toward him.

“There’s the rub, you see,” Sidious said in a philosophical tone. “All the ones you experimented on, killed, and brought back to life … They were little more than toys. Now, though, you get to experience it from their side, and look what you discover: in a body that is being denied air, in which even the Force is failing, your own midi-chlorians can’t accomplish what you’re asking of them.”

Hatred stained Sidious’s eyes.

“I could save you, of course. Return you from the brink, as you did Venamis. I could retask your body to repair the damage already done to your lungs, your hearts, your aged brain. But I’ll do no such thing. The idea here is not to drag you back at the last moment, but to bring you to death’s door and shove you through to the other side.”

Sidious sighed. “A tragedy, really, for one so wise. One who could oversee the lives and deaths of all beings, except himself.”

The Muun’s eyes had begun to bulge; his pale flesh, to turn cyanotic.

“You may be wondering: when did he begin to change?

“The truth is that I haven’t changed. As we have clouded the minds of the Jedi, I clouded yours. Never once did I have any intention of sharing power with you. I needed to learn from you; no more, no less. To learn all of your secrets, which I trusted you would eventually reveal. But what made you think that I would need you after that? Vanity, perhaps; your sense of self-importance. You’ve been nothing more than a pawn in a game played by a genuine Master.

“The Sith’ari.”

A cruel laugh escaped him.

“Reflect back on even the past few years—assuming you have the capacity. Yinchorr, Dorvalla, Eriadu, Maul, the Neimoidians, Naboo, an army of clones, the fallen Jedi Dooku … You think these were your ideas, when in fact they were mine, cleverly suggested to you so that you could feed them back to me. You were far too trusting, Plagueis. No true Sith can ever really care about another. This has always been known. There is no way but my way.”

Sidious’s eyes narrowed. “Are you still with me, Plagueis? Yes, I detect that you are—though barely.

“A few final words, then.

“I could have let you die in the Fobosi district, but I couldn’t allow that to happen when there was still so much I didn’t know; so many powers that remained just outside my reach. And as it happened, I acted wisely in rescuing you. Otherwise how could I be standing here and you be dying? I actually thought you would die on Sojourn—and you would have if the Hutt hadn’t tipped you off to Veruna’s scheme.

“And yet that also turned out for the best, for even after all you taught me, I might not have been able to take the final steps to the chancellorship without your help in manipulating the Senate and bringing into play your various and sundry allies. If it’s any consolation, I’m being honest when I say that I could not have succeeded without you. But now that we’ve won the race, I’ve no need for a co-chancellor. Your presence, much less your unnecessary counsel, would only confuse matters. I have Maul to do what the risk of discovery might not allow me to do, while I execute the rest of the Grand Plan: growing an army, fomenting rebellion and fabricating intergalactic war, corralling the Jedi and catching them unawares …

“Rest easy in your grave, Plagueis. In the end, I will be proclaimed Emperor. The Sith will have had their revenge, and I will rule the galaxy.”

Plagueis slid to the floor and rolled facedown. Death rattled his lungs and he died.

The scene begins by Plagueis and Sidious sitting down to revise the speech Sidious would give the following day when he would ascend to the chancellorship. Plagueis keeps chugging down wine, and in the end becomes so inebriated he passes out, so keep in mind his hazy and clouded mind most likely significantly compromised his ability to call on the Force with clarity. His transpirator also starts acting up, clicking “repeatedly in adjustment, almost as if in panic” due to “never having had to contend with Plagueis in a state of sleep” “In twenty years.” Sidious remains sober, however, and decides to fire Force lightning at his Master, specifically at the breath mask. So not only is he drunk and drowsy, but Plagueis is outright “suffocating” - keep that in mind for the following.

Sidious’ lightning causes Plagueis to wake up and begin focusing the Force to defend himself, but he ceases doing so and instead taps directly into his midi-chlorians to keep himself alive, “actually courting death to put it in its place,” “Confident that he couldn’t be killed.” In response, Sidious increases the intensity of his lightning, “drawing more deeply on the dark side than he ever had.” Meaning that Sidious was putting more power and effort into his lightning than any other feat he had ever done, including unbalancing the Force alongside Plagueis a decade earlier, or speedblitzing Darth Maul a few days/weeks prior. Despite this, there is never made any note of Plagueis suffering damage; in fact, Sidious’ description of the Muun after his death has him looking “almost as he had when Sidious first met him, decades earlier: smooth, hairless cranium; humped nose, with its bridge flattened as if from a shock-ball blow and its sharp tip pressed almost to his upper lip; jutting lower jaw; sunken eyes still brimming with menace,” with no mention or any injuries such as charred skin or body parts burned to a cinder.

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis wrote:Wary of approaching the corpse of his former Master, he called on the Force to roll the aged Muun over onto his back. From that angle Plagueis looked almost as he had when Sidious first met him, decades earlier: smooth, hairless cranium; humped nose, with its bridge flattened as if from a shock-ball blow and its sharp tip pressed almost to his upper lip; jutting lower jaw; sunken eyes still brimming with menace—a physical characteristic rarely encountered in a Muun. But then Plagueis had never been an ordinary Muun, nor an ordinary being of any sort.

Plagueis, while blackout drunk and asphyxiating, endures the most powerful attack of the most powerful Sith Lord in galactic history up to that point, simply by keeping himself alive with midi-chlorian manipulation rather than defending himself conventionally - no Force barrier, no tutaminis, not even a passive Force shield -, without suffering a scratch. Maul, by contrast, is so helpless against a lesser display from the same Sith Lord as to be wholly incapable of following Sidious’s movements, even with Force perception, and has to stop himself from moving a muscle lest he die. The fact that Sidious feels it is necessary to exert himself more against a drunk and dying Plagueis than Maul says enough on its own, too.

Now to deal with potential lowballing. The claim he couldn’t prevent himself from being choked out carries no merit because at the beginning, the text notes he was “in denial” that he was suffocating; in other words, he doesn’t even believe it was happening, so he sees no need to rectify the situation. As the scene progresses, “Still struggling for breath, Plagueis managed to stand, but only to collapse back onto the couch.” So by the time Plagueis does accept he is actually dying, he is so unfocused and weakened from intoxication and suffocation that he can’t even stand. His enfeebled state is further highlighted in his following telekinetic attack: “A Force storm gathered over the couch, spreading out in concentric rings, to wash over Sidious and hurl objects to all corners. In the center of it, Plagueis’s form became anamorphic, then resumed shape as the storm began to wane.” Plagueis can’t even focus his power on the enemy in front of him and instead unleashes a haphazard Force wave in all directions that accomplishes nothing. In fact, the wave is so weak it only hurled furniture all over the place - we know Plagueis’ power level is much higher than that as seen with him pulverizing Maladians two decades prior and scaling from Darth Bane collapsing a temple, so that should be clear cut evidence he is in an abysmal state near the end of the scene. Sidious even outright states “in a body that is being denied air, in which even the Force is failing, your own midi-chlorians can’t accomplish what you’re asking of them,” attributing his failure to command his midi-chlorians to his shit condition, not any insufficiency in power level. The feat stands.

– – –

Ethan wrote:Interestingly enough it is this shadowy quality that makes Maul believe that Sidious is the most powerful being in the galaxy.

You posting this only hinders your case. The last time Maul saw and fought Sidious was before the latter killed Plagueis and got his power boost, yet he believes Sidious is more powerful than anyone he has met up to Sith Hunters, which includes but is not limited to the following individuals:

1. Obi-Wan Kenobi: Proves a formidable opponent to Maul in The Phantom Menace, even more so than Qui-Gon Jinn, and has grown in both power and skill since.

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace wrote:They fought their way back toward the laser-riddled service passage, past Qui-Gon's still form, and into a tangle of vent tubes and circuit housings. Steam burst from ruptured pipes, and the air was filled with the acrid smell of scorched wiring. Darth Maul began to use his command of the Force to fling heavy objects at Obi-Wan, trying to throw him off balance, to disable him, to disrupt the flow of his attack. Obi-Wan responded in kind, and the air was filled with deadly missiles. Lightsabers flicked right and left to ward off the objects, and the clash of errant metal careening off stone walls formed an eerie shriek in the gloom.

The battle wore on, and for a time it was fought evenly. But Darth Maul was the stronger of the two and was driven by a frenzy that surpassed even the frantic determination that fueled Obi-Wan. Eventually, the Sith Lord began to wear the young Jedi down. Bit by bit, he pressed him back, carrying the attack to him, looking to catch him off guard. Obi-Wan could sense his body weakening, and his fear of what it would mean if he, too, were to fall, began to grow.

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2. Asajj Ventress: Faces Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker many times in a duel, both individually and collectively, and always demonstrates at least relativity, and at times even superiority; also faces Savage Opress with only one lightsaber.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbBKHB1Sffg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=us5sYw_Hm_4&t=90s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZmltPampkg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7q2TNPxSxj0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUJ5zAK4EYE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpLiiD1Gsjk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYv_gHAKp1I

3. Savage Opress: Proves himself the most able of the Nightbrothers, and is then subjected to a tenfold increase of his strength by Mother Talzin; is said by Count Dooku to soon rival the power of Darth Maul at the start of his training; briefly holds off Anakin and Obi-Wan, scuffles with Dooku alongside Ventress, and then gains the upper hand on all four of them by tapping into his rage and raw power; and is stated to actually eclipse Maul in power only a short time after Sith Hunters. Note that Maul has been “restored to his former power” by Talzin.

Star Wars: The Wrath of Darth Maul wrote:Ah, but you do. And once among them your life will be very different. On Dathomir, you will be nurtured and trained as the Winged Goddess and the Fanged God meant you to be trained. When the time is right you will face the Nightbrothers’ equivalents of the Tests of Fury, Night, and Elevation. And should you pass those trials, you may be fortunate enough to be transformed into an extraordinary warrior. Your strength will be enhanced tenfold, and those puny horns that stipple your head presently will become long and lethal.”

Star Wars: The Wrath of Darth Maul wrote:The hulking man claimed his name was Savage Opress. Like Maul, he was a Zabrak. According to Opress, Talzin had transformed him into a monstrous warrior, endowed him with dark side powers, and given him the amulet and sent him in search of Maul. Maul had no recollection of the amulet, the talisman Talzin had brushed against his bloodied arm years earlier. He didn’t remember anyone named Talzin.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyqumJxg3SI&t=240s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqit0cZAdZ4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7s3x8ox2ToE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjXGhpReD90

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SS - Darth Maul (Ethan) vs. Darth Plagueis (Azronger) Image

As well as himself. You might bring up my earlier criticism of the “Maul is Sidious’s most powerful weapon” quote, but note that that’s in response to a hyperliteral reading. If we take into account the meaning behind Maul’s words instead of fixating on just the words themselves, I think it’s quite evident he’s speaking of Sidious holistically when he says he was “apprenticed to the most powerful being in the galaxy once” and that Sidious is the most powerful being he’s ever encountered. Colloquially, no one talks in hyperprecise terms; Maul is not saying Sidious is powerful but not necessarily skilled, or that Sidious is powerful but can’t necessarily control that power, but that Sidious is overall the best Force-user, combatively and otherwise, that he’s ever met. Sidious’s power clearly means something in Maul’s eyes, and in this case it’s not conducive to proper interpretation to look too deeply into his words beyond the obvious.



As an addendum, Maul’s reaction to his Master’s presence in “The Lawless” is utter dread. I deem it relevant because the whole PT mega scaling is simply an unintended consequence of having dozens of disparate authors write disparate works for over a decade with no correspondence or oversight. Nowhere in any story, sourcebook, or behind the scenes commentary, is it acknowledged - not by the characters, the narrators, or the writers - that Sidious or the Jedi grew a hundred times more powerful over the 13 years leading up to Revenge of the Sith. “A presence I haven’t felt since… Master!” Maul is sensing the same presence whom he last sensed in TPM, the same man who repeatedly abused, tortured, and toyed with him, the same Darth Sidious who he knows could kill him in the blink of an eye.



Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Darth Maul: Shadow Conspiracy wrote:The feeling had begun as a faint stirring in the Force, like the tiniest ripple of something moving slowly through deep water, far away but drawing steadily closer. It intensified, until it felt like the Force itself was roiling, heaving like the sea in the grip of an enormous storm.

“I sense a presence,” Maul warned Savage. “A presence I haven’t felt since...”

And then Maul knew.

“Master,” he said, leaning forward on the throne.

The commandos guarding the royal chamber reached for their throats. As Maul watched, an unseen forced lifted them high in the air, then slammed them to the floor, where they lay motionless in their red-and-black armor. The doors opened, then closed behind a figure in dark robes. A deep cowl hid most of the face, leaving only a pale chin and a downturned mouth visible. To most eyes the man in those simple robes of rough cloth was unremarkable, just another being making his way in the universe. But to those who could feel the Force he was anything but ordinary. To them, he was a dark sun blazing with power that was simultaneously hypnotizing and terrifying to behold.

Darth Sidious, the reigning Dark Lord of the Sith, had come to Mandalore.

Savage stared at the new arrival in astonishment, transfixed by the sight. Maul felt himself leap from the throne, mechanical legs clacking down the steps and toward his old Master. The motion was almost automatic, involuntary. Maul’s earliest memories were of that hooded figure—his tests, his teachings, and also his torments. He had been Maul’s father, his protector, his torturer. He had been everything.

Maul halted before Sidious and kneeled, bowing his head.

“Master,” he said simply.

[...]

Maul had fought his Master many times, starting when he was little more than a child and continuing through his apprenticeship. His body bore innumerable scars from those duels—lessons in the peril of being too slow or two quick, too weak or too distracted. During Maul’s apprenticeship he had always known that Sidious had been willing to kill him. The Sith had not survived their centuries of exile by being sentimental, and a student who couldn’t stand against his Master in a mere training exercise was worse than useless—he was a waste of valuable resources better used elsewhere. But Maul had never faced his Master when he was actually trying to kill him.

Maul had grown more powerful since the last time he’d been in Sidious’s presence, before the Neimoidian invasion of Naboo had turned disastrous and Obi-Wan had bested him inside the Theed power core. His hermitage on Lotho Minor, his lessons on Umbara, his restoration by Mother Talzin, and his training of Savage had all strengthened him, made him a more worthy vessel for the dark side to fill with its power.

But strong as he had become, Maul found himself in awe of Sidious. The Sith Lord was astonishingly fast and efficient, and the Force flowed through him effortlessly. His sabers stabbed and slashed through the smallest hole in an opponent’s guard, his movements never carried him a millimeter out of position, and he could sense every attack Maul and Savage made before it developed.

The narration in the second excerpt also clearly implies TPM Sidious >> TCW Maul > TPM Maul. ”Maul had grown more powerful since the last time he’d been in Sidious’s presence [...] But as strong as he had become, Maul found himself in awe of Sidious.” That is how everyone who doesn’t have their head spinning from scaling autism would read this. The narrator and Maul are both comparing him to the Sidious Maul knows, not a Sidious who has grown fifty one-shot gaps since then.

Tying this back to an earlier point: Sidious is outright frightened of confronting Plagueis head-on, and decides to hatch an elaborate scheme to have him literally nuked to death from orbit. He only takes him out by hand as a spur-of-the-moment decision once he notices Plagueis is drunk, asleep, and not defending himself, and he uses more Force power on this act than any other he has ever performed before. By contrast, when Sidious wants Maul neutralized as a player on the galactic chess board, he travels to Mandalore personally to beat him and Savage down. He telekinetically pins them to the wall, chuckling, then deliberately lets them go and draws his lightsabers with a big smile on his face, courting combat. I do not believe there is a big enough difference between TPM and TCW iterations of Sidious for it to matter in this comparison.

CONCLUSION

I think the post speaks for itself, but I’ll reiterate my main point for emphasis: When it comes to power levels, I value most that which is presented in the stories themselves. I do not put nearly as much weight on random lines from sources no one has ever heard of as I do on what is shown to us directly. If a quote goes against the spirit of the narrative, I’ll toss it out - not that that necessarily needs to be done here, as many of the quotes you’ve brought up can be looked at in their proper context rather than trying to invent a new narrative that cannot be found on its own in any of the interactions between Darths Sidious and Maul.

As for feats, I’ve highlighted some of Plagueis’s less discussed ones to paint a more comprehensive picture rather than just reiterate what usually gets talked about, e.g. galactic unbalancing and midi-chlorian manipulation. While the deriding of Maul’s feats is exaggerated in order to emphasize a broader point about the fickle nature of feats comparisons, I do think feats carry value overall in that they can inform us about the nature of the characters in question, and certain feats would be treated as incredible in any medium. For Plagueis, we have the added benefit that his chief writer, James Luceno, has written material for Maul and Qui-Gon, as well as for other characters like Obi-Wan, Anakin, Dooku, Vader, and Luke, so we know what types of feats and accolades he tends to give his respective characters and roughly how he views their power levels, and I think Plagueis clearly wins that contest with most of those characters sans Luke, perhaps.

The only other major work where Plagueis appears as a character is Maul: Lockdown by Joe Schreiber, and in it Maul incidentally receives arguably his best showings, but Schreiber still treats him as Sidious’s bitch, even having him be choked from across the galaxy. Conversely, Schreiber builds on Luceno’s ethos of Plagueis being Sidious’s peer/superior by centering the whole narrative of the book around the all-new plot point that the scheme to nuke Hego Damask by Ars Veruna in Darth Plagueis was actually masterminded by Sidious, with him shitting bricks over the prospect of Plagueis finding out.

All that sort of brings me back to my introductory belief that one can use the various evidentiary instruments at our disposal to get an idea of the “truth” behind power levels. In that sense, I think Plagueis is simply a “higher” character than Maul, and that anyone who doesn’t obsessively hyperanalyze the material (i.e. the people who write it, ironically) can intuitively recognize him as such. Putting Darth Maul above Darth Plagueis is like putting Darth Malgus above Emperor Vitiate - it just wouldn’t happen or be acknowledged in any source, even if it’s technically possible to argue that by stringing together dozens of different quotes or lines of scaling. It’s probably going to take ASI-level arguments to convince otherwise.

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Last edited by Master Azronger on January 20th 2023, 1:21 pm; edited 1 time in total

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