"I have a proposal I would like to bring before the Jedi Council." Senator Palpatine, secure in his rapidly growing popularity, rose from his seat at the famous round Council table. His gaze roved over the assembled Masters, passing over the non-humans slightly quicker than the humans. Evidently he liked what he saw, because a small smile lifted the corners of his mouth for a moment.

"You may proceed," Eevan Maru, moderator of the Council, nodded.

Palpatine turned and beckoned to a heavily cloaked figure standing behind him. "Gentlemen, I present to you the future." He pulled the cloak away, revealing a tall human male with a remarkably blank stare. "Here is the answer to your problems."

"What's this, Senator?" Maru asked, although with a sufficient lack of surprise that more than one Master decided he'd already known of Palpatine's guest.

"The Jedi have grown few in number, as you well know. There have been increasing difficulties with your efforts at keeping the peace. However, with the aid of this fellow here and his compatriots, you may extend your reach to calm even the most troubled waters."

"What nonsense is this?" Yoda, still influential despite no longer holding his position of leadership on the Council, leaned forward intently. "No soul this man has! No presence or knowledge of the Force do I sense. How can such a one be of benefit?"

"How wise the esteemed Master is, to perceive the unique qualifications of this specimen so fast," Palpatine said, with an oily smile. "For this is not truly a man. He is a genetically manipulated clone, one of a large host at your disposal. These clones, created on my order from genetic material donated by a magnificent warrior, have been grown, trained, and developed for one purpose only: to serve the Jedi Order."

An undisciplined flurry of questions broke out. Palpatine let the unrest sweep over him for a moment, then raised a hand for quiet. "One at a time, if you please. I shall endeavor to answer all your questions."

The arguments began then, spanning an entire week of over-long Council sessions. From the beginning, Yoda knew it was a losing battle, but he tried anyway. Most of his potential supporters, friends of the old ways and true Jedi traditions, were already gone. Barely a month before, the Council had agreed to disagree, resulting in a disturbing split between the traditionalists and the "progressives," as they thought of themselves. Yoda was the only traditionalist remaining on the Council, and he knew that the timing of Palpatine's unprecedented proposal was no accident. Strike now, while the new Council was still full of the sense of victory, and the radical idea seemed new and exciting, rather than the perversion of nature it truly was.

At length, Eevan Maru called a halt to the increasingly repetitive argument. "Enough," he said, raising a weary hand to silence the Council. "We have examined this issue from every possible angle. It has come time to make a decision. What say you, Jedi Masters, on the issue of the creation of a clone army? You know the drill. Green light for yes, red light for no, and absolutely no votes of 'maybe' allowed on this ballot."

Within moments, there was a ball of light floating over every head save Palpatine's and the silent clone's. Only the light above Yoda's head burned red, with a defiant light in the unbroken circle of green.

"Excellent," Senator Palpatine said, rubbing his hands together and smiling beatifically. "Now, at last, progress can be made."

"Progress," Yoda muttered. "Progress, it is not! Oppression it is, to assume control—"

"We have heard your tired arguments repeatedly, Master Yoda," the Senator interrupted. "Your opinion has been recorded. But even a venerable Jedi Master such as yourself can not impede the progress of the future. I know this."

"Humph. Barely a hundred years you have, Senator." Yoda's ears dropped and his forehead wrinkled, expressing scorn. He let his red light continue burning fiercely over head, although others around the room had already extinguished the little balls of Force energy. "And yet you claim to know so much."

"It's not a question of time," Senator Palpatine murmured. Yoda's ears twitched at the appreciative murmurs around the room. "Any number of years will not grant omnipotence or omniscience. However, careful study of society as a whole can yield accurate predictions of future trends."

"If the future this way is to be, then lost already have the Jedi." With that, Yoda sighed heavily and rose to his feet. His red light finally flickered and died. Everything about the small green figure drooped. "May the Force be with you, for I cannot."

Yoda turned and left the Council chamber. For the first time, the revered Jedi Master appeared old. His ears drooped, his shoulders hunched, and he moved stiffly, haltingly, like he needed support.

Behind him, the Masters stared for a moment, before returning to the business at hand.

"I trust there's no furhter protest to the propsed course of action? Then let us move on to the most efficient use of the new troops..."

Business moved on as usual. No one in that room ever saw Yoda again.

* * * * * * * *

They called the planet Dagobah, the Jedi Masters who actually knew of its existence. Totally out of the way, off any known shipping line, the planet hung in a close orbit around a dim sun, small and steamy. Dagobah had few distinguishing characteristics beyond the one that mattered: interdiction by the Jedi Council, and exclusion from the trade and travel maps of the Republic.

The small spacecraft dropping through the thick atmosphere was the first to visit the planet in hundreds of years. Yoda resisted the urge to grumble in discontent as he piloted the craft down to an area he'd once called home, so long ago that the Republic had been young and stable. Back then, the Jedi Order had been pure and idealistic, back before the machinations and power-plays so common today...

Yoda sighed. No point in dwelling on the past. It was over and done with. It no longer affected him. And yet... yet... The lessons of the past must never be forgotten. Even if he was the only one who remembered, who carried on the traditions and the old ways... even if he was, as he hoped, the only one who still remembered where Dagobah was located.

His old dwelling was still there, although it was in a dreadful state of disrepair. So was the spot of darkness, the glaring reminder of why this planet had been interdicted so long ago. Failure... yes, failure, for he could have found some way to keep the rogue Jedi from giving in to the Dark Side, he was sure... but no matter. What was done was done. And now, the death of the fallen Jedi would serve a purpose, for the dark energy surrounding the place of his death colored the atmosphere enough to conceal Yoda's living presence. And who would think to look here, where Yoda had suffered such a humiliating defeat? He could live out his remaining life here, on a planet rich with diverse lifeforms and filled with the energy of the Force, despite the continual nagging evil of the dark and malign presence that would never fade.

And someday... Someday, Yoda knew, there would be a time when he would influence the worlds again. His vision was clouded by swirling clouds of confusion, allowing incomprehensible glimpses of destruction, horror, and change beyond imagining. But through it all shone one steady glimmer of hope: someday, there would be a chance for redemption. Someday, there would come a young human, who would utterly destroy this growing cloud of evil, who would blow it away in a blaze of light and bring back hope to the universe and end the oncoming rule of evil.