Mace Windu vs Darth Sidious What really happened? (Revised & Updated)

Preface: Bear in mind when reading this blog that it was written years ago under Legends/EU canon. In light of Disney's incorporation of Star Wars and Lucas Licensing, EU continuity is largely no longer regarded as part of current SW Canon. As a result, many of the following sources are no longer acceptable, with a few exceptions such as film commentaries and articles from starwars.com. Read this blog as it pertains to Legends/EU canon system, as that was what it was written for and about; if you read it with current Canon in mind, only pay attention to the sources cited here that are still canon and omit everything else. If your interest is in a films-only interpretation of this event, I remarked on that very little here and will leave that up to you to form your own opinion. The reason for that is because the movie is mostly obscure about character intentions and motivations in this sequence, moreso even than EU sources, making interpretations from it highly subjective. The purpose of this blog was to analyze the duel in Revenge of the Sith from all sources available, not exclusively the films. This is the revised and updated version, in which more sources are provided and sources are viewed from their canonical importance.

This is a heated topic, and one which both myself and JediXMan have debated repeatedly in the forums. But I want to write this out here so I can avoid having to re-explain it ad nauseam elsewhere. The debate over whether Palpatine truly lost to Mace Windu in Revenge of the Sith or whether he allowed Mace to win the duel in order to win over Anakin to the dark side is a complex subject. In this blog, I will describe (and provide proof of) the circumstances of the duel, clear up misconceptions, and give my opinion on it. I will say that my perspective on the matter may not be perfectly accurate, but if nothing else, it is fairly evidentially supported. I can respect if others disagree with my assessment, but I would also appreciate it if you consider the case I present here and make an objective assessment on it. If in doing that, you still disagree, fair enough, but if I challenge you in the forums about it, you will need to be able to provide reasoning for it.

As we all know, the controversy surrounding this event is the nearly-factional argument over Palpatine's intentions: did he mean to lose to Mace, that is, be disarmed, or were both combatants fighting to win and Mace simply gained the upper hand? The opinion on one side suggests that Palpatine plotted the confrontation with the Jedi Council and granted Mace the apparent victory so that when Anakin raced in, he would see the Jedi Master passing an execution sentence on the Republic's Supreme Chancellor, the man Anakin trusts and reveres; by doing this, it's supposed that Sidious would compel Anakin to side with either the Jedi or the Sith. The opinion on the other side suggests that this duel is very transparent and that the intentions of all characters involved are revealed by the events at face value. There is little to nothing opaque about this sequence, and Mace simply outfought Palpatine. So what really happened, and which outlook is correct?

In order to dissect this duel, let me start by posting the scene where Anakin apprises the Jedi Council of Palpatine's Sith identity and then the duel itself. This is the sequence as it is occurs in the film: After the Jedi were informed by Anakin Skywalker that Palpatine is Darth Sidious, Mace Windu, Kit Fisto, Saesee Tiin, and Agen Kolar arrive in Palpatine's office to arrest him. After initiating conversation with the Jedi Masters that Mace quickly ends by informing Palpatine that they've come to arrest him, the Jedi Masters draw their blades, after which Sidious returns in kind. Then begins the duel. Sidious leaps from behind his desk and cuts down Agen Kolar and Saesee Tiin and then engages Fisto and Windu; Fisto too falls in short order, leaving only Mace and Palpatine. The duel progresses with neither procuring much discernible leverage, unless you count Sidious having his blade angled at Mace's chest while Mace's was at his side or one or the other retreating toward the window; they fight through the office until, after breaking a window, Mace kicks Sidious down, knocking him to the ground and disarming him. At this point, Anakin comes in and Palpatine pleads with Anakin to defend him. He fires Lightning at Mace, who reflects the bolts back onto him with his lightsaber, resulting in Sidious' visage taking on a warped, disfigured appearance. After this, Sidious withdraws the Lightning assault, asks for mercy, and Mace argues with Anakin that Sidious' immediate execution is necessary. When Mace moves in to deliver the killing stroke, Anakin cuts off Mace's sword hand, and Sidious then blasts Mace out the window, ending the entire confrontation.

There is honestly very little I can extrapolate from this on the subject of Palpatine's intentions. While there are a few items depicted here that I could surmise one conclusion or another from, such as the characters' facial expressions or obvious strain, I would need more source material to supplement my conclusion with, but when it comes down to it, I would personally refrain from dogmatically arguing an interpretation based on the film alone, because of how little verification there is for just about any interpretation from it. The movie is extremely nebulous concerning the debate at hand, and the comic adaptation offers even less information.

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Since neither the movie nor the comic adaptation explore character motivations very deeply, we need a source with more lucid exposition on Mace and/or Sidious' intentions. With this in mind, allow me to post the sequence from the novelization, as that grants a better view of the whole picture from the characters' perspectives.

The Coruscant nightfall was spreading through the galaxy. The darkness in the Force was no hindrance to the shadow in the Chancellor's office; it was the darkness. Wherever darkness dwelled, the shadow could send perception. In the night, the shadow felt the boy's anguish, and it was good. The shadow felt the grim determination of four Jedi Masters approaching by air. This, too, was good.

As a Jedi shuttle settled to the landing deck outside, the shadow sent its mind into the far deeper night within one of the several pieces of sculpture that graced the office: an abstract twist of solid neuranium, so heavy that the office floor had been specially reinforced to bear its weight, so dense that more sensitive species might, from very close range, actually perceive the tiny warping of the fabric of space-time that was its gravitation.

Neuranium of more than roughly a millimeter thick is impervious to sensors; the standard security scans undergone by all equipment and furniture to enter the Senate Office Building had shown nothing at all. If anyone had thought to use an advanced gravimetric detector, however, they might have discovered that one smallish section of the sculpture massed slightly less than it should have, given that the manifest that had accompanied it, when it was brought from Naboo among the then-ambassador's personal effects, clearly stated that it was a single piece of solid-forged neuranium.

The manifest was a lie. The sculpture was not entirely solid, and not all of it was neuranium. Within a long, slim, rod-shaped cavity around which the sculpture had been forged rested a device that had lain, waiting, in absolute darkness—darkness beyond darkness—for decades. Waiting for night to fall on the Republic.

The shadow felt Jedi Masters stride the vast echoic emptiness of the vaulted halls outside. It could practically hear the cadence of their boot heels on the Alderaanian marble. The darkness within the sculpture whispered of the shape and the feel and every intimate resonance of the device it cradled. With a twist of its will, the shadow triggered the device. The neuranium got warm. A small round spot, smaller than the circle a human child might make of thumb and forefinger, turned the color of old blood.

Then fresh blood.

Then open flame.

Finally a spear of scarlet energy lanced free, painting the office with the color of stars seen through the smoke of burning planets. The spear of energy lengthened, drawing with it out from the darkness the device, then the scarlet blade shrank away and the device slid itself within the softer darkness of a sleeve.

As shouts of the Force scattered Redrobes beyond the office's outer doors, the shadow gestured and lampdisks ignited. Another shout of the Force burst open the inner door to the private office. As Jedi stormed in, a final flick of the shadow's will triggered a recording device concealed within the desk.

Audio only.

"Why, Master Windu," said the shadow. "What a pleasant surprise."

Shaak Ti felt him coming before she could see him. The infra-and ultrasound-sensitive cavities in the tall, curving montrals to either side of her head gave her a sense analogous to touch: the texture of his approaching footsteps was ragged as old sacking. As he rounded the corner to the landing deck door, his breathing felt like a pile of gravel and his heartbeat was spiking like a Zabrak's head. He didn't look good, either; he was deathly pale, even for a human, and his eyes were raw.

"Anakin," she said warmly. Perhaps a friendly word was what he needed; she doubted he'd gotten many from Mace Windu. "Thank you for what you have done. The Jedi Order is in your debt—the whole galaxy, as well."

"Shaak Ti. Get out of my way."

Shaky as he looked, there was nothing unsteady in his voice: it was deeper than she remembered, more mature, and it carried undertones of authority that she had never heard before. And she was not blind to the fact he had neglected to call her Master.

She put forth a hand, offering calming energies through the Force. "The Temple is sealed, Anakin. The door is code-locked."

"And you're in the way of the pad."

She stepped aside, allowing him to the pad; she had no reason to keep him here against his will. He punched the code hungrily. "If Palpatine retaliates," she said reasonably, "is not your place here, to help with our defense?"

"I'm the chosen one. My place is there." His breathing roughened, and he looked as if he was getting even sicker. "I have to be there. That's the prophecy, isn't it? I have to be there—"

"Anakin, why? The Masters are the best of the Order. What can you possibly do?" The door slid open.

"I'm the chosen one," he repeated. "Prophecy can't be changed. I'll do—" He looked at her with eyes that were dying, and a spasm of unendurable pain passed over his face. Shaak Ti reached for him—he should be in the infirmary, not heading toward what might be a savage battle—but he lurched away from her hand. "I'll do what I'm supposed to do," he said, and sprinted into the night and the rain.

[the following is a transcript of an audio recording presented before the Galactic Senate on the afternoon of the first Empire Day; identities of all speakers verified and confirmed by voiceprint analysis]

PALPATINE: Why, Master Windu. What a pleasant surprise.

MACE WINDU: Hardly a surprise, Chancellor. And it will be pleasant for neither of us.

PALPATINE: I'm sorry? Master Fisto, hello. Master Kolar, greetings. I trust you are well. Master Tiin—I see your horn has regrown; I'm very glad. What brings four Jedi Masters to my office at this hour?

MACE WINDU: We know who you are. What you are. We are here to take you into custody.

PALPATINE: I beg your pardon? What I am? When last I checked, I was Supreme Chancellor of the Republic you are sworn to serve. I hope I misunderstand what you mean by custody, Master Windu. It smacks of treason.

MACE WINDU: You're under arrest.

PALPATINE: Really, Master Windu, you cannot be serious. On what charge?

MACE WINDU: You're a Sith Lord!

PALPATINE: Am I? Even if true, that's hardly a crime. My philosophical outlook is a personal matter. In fact—the last time I read the Constitution, anyway—we have very strict laws against this type of persecution. So I ask you again: what is my alleged crime? How do you expect to justify your mutiny before the Senate? Or do you intend to arrest the Senate as well?

MACE WINDU: We're not here to argue with you.

PALPATINE: No, you're here to imprison me without trial. Without even the pretense of legality. So this is the plan, at last: the Jedi are taking over the Republic.

MACE WINDU: Come with us. Now.

PALPATINE: I shall do no such thing. If you intend to murder me, you can do so right here.

MACE WINDU: Don't try to resist.

[sounds that have been identified by frequency resonances to be the ignition of several lightsabers]

PALPATINE: Resist? How could I possibly resist? This is murder, you Jedi traitors! How can I be any threat to you? Master Tiin—you're the telepath. What am I thinking right now?

[sounds of scuffle]

KIT FISTO: Saesee—

AGEN KOLAR: [garbled; possibly "It doesn't hurt"(?)]

[sounds of scuffle]

PALPATINE: Help! Help! Security—someone!Help me! Murder! Treason!

[recording ends]

A fountain of amethyst energy burst from Mace Windu's fist. "Don't try to resist."

The song of his blade was echoed by green fire from the hands of Kit Fisto, Agen Kolar, and Saesee Tiin. Kolar and Tiin closed on Palpatine, blocking the path to the door. Shadows dripped and oozed color, weaving and coiling up office walls slipping over chairs, spreading along the floor.

"Resist? How could I possibly resist?" Still seated at the desk Palpatine shook an empty fist helplessly, the perfect image of a tired, frightened old man. "This is murder, you Jedi traitors! How can I be any threat to you?"

He turned desperately to Saesee Tiin. "Master Tiin—you're the telepath. What am I thinking right now?" Tiin frowned and cocked his head. His blade dipped. A smear of red-flashing darkness hurtled from behind the desk. Saesee Tiin's head bounced when it hit the floor. Smoke curled from the neck, and from the twin stumps of the horns, severed just below the chin.

Kit Fisto gasped, "Saesee!"

The headless corpse, still standing, twisted as its knees buckled, and a thin sigh escaped from its trachea as it folded to the floor.

"It doesn't..." Agen Kolar swayed. His emerald blade shrank away, and the handgrip tumbled from his opening fingers. A small, neat hole in the middle of his forehead leaked smoke, showing light from the back of his head. "...hurt..." He pitched forward onto his face, and lay still.

Palpatine stood at the doorway, but the door stayed shut. From his right hand extended a blade the color of fire. The door locked itself at his back.

"Help! Help!" Palpatine cried like a man in desperate fear for his life. "Security—someone! Help me! Murder! Treason!"

Then he smiled. He held one finger to his lips, and, astonishingly, he winked. In the blank second that followed, while Mace Windu and Kit Fisto could do no more than angle their lightsabers to guard, Palpatine swiftly stepped over the bodies back toward his desk, reversed his blade, and drove it in a swift, surgically precise stab down through his desktop.

"That's enough of that."

He let it burn its way free through the front, then he turned, lifting his weapon, appearing to study it as one might study the face of a beloved friend one has long thought dead. Power gathered around him until the Force shimmered with darkness.

"If you only knew," he said softly, perhaps speaking to the Jedi Masters, or perhaps to himself, or perhaps even to the scarlet blade lifted now as though in mocking salute, "how long I have been waiting for this..."

Anakin's speeder shrieked through the rain, dodging forked bolts of lightning that shot up from towers into the clouds, slicing across traffic lanes, screaming past spacescrapers so fast that his shock-wake cracked windows as he passed.

He didn't understand why people didn't just get out of his way. He didn't understand how the trillion beings who jammed Galactic City could go about their trivial business as though the universe hadn't changed. How could they think they counted for anything, compared with him? How could they think they still mattered? Their blind lives meant nothing now. None of them. Because ahead, on the vast cliff face of the Senate Office Building, one window spat lightning into the rain to echo the lightning of the storm outside—but this lightning was the color of clashing lightsabers.

Green fans, sheets of purple—

And crimson flame. He was too late. The green fire faded and winked out; now the lightning was only purple and red.

His repulsorlifts howled as he heeled the speeder up onto its side, skidding through wind-shear turbulence to bring it to a bobbing halt outside the window of Palpatine's private office. A blast of lightning hit the spire of 500 Republica, only a kilometer away, and its white burst flared off the window, flash-blinding him; he blinked furiously, slapping at his eyes in frustration. The colorless glare inside his eyes faded slowly, bringing into focus a jumble of bodies on the floor of Palpatine's private office. Bodies in Jedi robes.

On Palpatine's desk lay the head of Kit Fisto, faceup, scalp-tentacles unbound in a squid-tangle across the ebonite. His lidless eyes stared blindly at the ceiling. Anakin remembered him in the arena at Geonosis, effortlessly carving his way through wave after wave of combat droids, on his lips a gently humorous smile as though the horrific battle were only some friendly jest. His severed head wore that same smile. Maybe he thought death was funny, too.

Anakin's own blade sang blue as it slashed through the window and he dived through the gap. He rolled to his feet among a litter of bodies and sprinted through a shattered door along the small private corridor and through a doorway that flashed and flared with energy-scatter. Anakin skidded to a stop.

Within the public office of the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic, a last Jedi Master battled alone, blade-to-blade, against a living shadow.

Sinking into Vaapad, Mace Windu fought for his life. More than his life: each whirl of blade and whipcrack of lightning was a strike in defense of democracy, of justice and peace, of the rights of ordinary beings to live their own lives in their own ways. He was fighting for the Republic that he loved.

Vaapad, the seventh form of lightsaber combat, takes its name from a notoriously dangerous predator native to the moons of Sarapin: a vaapad attacks its prey with whipping strikes of its blindingly fast tentacles. Most have at least seven. It is not uncommon for them to have as many as twelve; the largest ever killed had twenty-three. With a vaapad, one never knew how many tentacles it had until it was dead: they move too fast to count. Almost too fast to see. So did Mace's blade.

Vaapad is as aggressive and powerful as its namesake, but its power comes at great risk: immersion in Vaapad opens the gates that restrain one's inner darkness. To use Vaapad, a Jedi must allow himself to enjoy the fight; he must give himself over to the thrill of battle. The rush of winning. Vaapad is a path that leads through the penumbra of the dark side. Mace Windu created this style, and he was its only living master. This was Vaapad's ultimate test.

Anakin blinked and rubbed his eyes again. Maybe he was still a bit flash-blind—the Korun Master seemed to be fading in and out of existence, half swallowed by a thickening black haze in which danced a meter-long bar of sunfire. Mace pressed back the darkness with a relentless straight-ahead march; his own blade, that distinctive amethyst blaze that had been the final sight of so many evil beings across the galaxy, made a haze of its own: an oblate sphere of purple fire within which there seemed to be dozens of swords slashing in all directions at once.

The shadow he fought, that blur of speed—could that be Palpatine?

Their blades flared and flashed, crashing together with bursts of fire, weaving nets of killing energy in exchanges so fast that Anakin could not truly see them—but he could feel them in the Force. The Force itself roiled and burst and crashed around them, boiling with power and lightspeed ricochets of lethal intent. And it was darkening.

Anakin could feel how the Force fed upon the shadow's murderous exaltation; he could feel fury spray into the Force though some poisonous abscess had crested in both their hearts. There was no Jedi restraint here. Mace Windu was cutting loose.

Mace was deep in it now: submerged in Vaapad, swallowed by it, he no longer truly existed as an independent being. Vaapad is a channel for darkness, and that darkness flowed both ways. He accepted the furious speed of the Sith Lord, drew the shadow's rage and power into his inmost center—

And let it fountain out again. He reflected the fury upon its source as a lightsaber redirects a blaster bolt.

There was a time when Mace Windu had feared the power of the dark; there was a time when he had feared the darkness in himself. But the Clone Wars had given him a gift of understanding: on a world called Haruun Kal, he had faced his darkness and had learned that the power of darkness is not to be feared. He had learned that it is fear that gives the darkness power. He was not afraid. The darkness had no power over him. But—

Neither did he have power over it.

Vaapad made him an open channel, half of a superconducting loop completed by the shadow; they became a standing wave of battle that expanded into every cubic centimeter of the Chancellor's office. There was no scrap of carpet nor shred of chair that might not at any second disintegrate in flares of red or purple; lampstands became brief shields, sliced into segments that whirled through the air; couches became terrain to be climbed for advantage or overleapt in retreat. But there was still only the cycle of power, the endless loop, no wound taken on either side, not even the possibility of fatigue.

Impasse.

Which might have gone on forever, if Vaapad were Mace's only gift. The fighting was effortless for him now; he let his body handle it without the intervention of his mind. While his blade spun and crackled, while his feet slid and his weight shifted and his shoulders turned in precise curves of their own direction, his mind slid along the circuit of dark power, tracing it back to its limitless source. Feeling for its shatterpoint. He found a knot of fault lines in the shadow's future; he chose the largest fracture and followed it back to the here and the now—

And it led him, astonishingly, to a man standing frozen in the slashed-open doorway. Mace had no need to look; the presence in the Force was familiar, and was as uplifting as sunlight breaking through a thunderhead. The chosen one was here.

Mace disengaged from the shadow's blade and leapt for the window; he slashed away the transparisteel with a single flourish. His instant's distraction cost him: a dark surge of the Force nearly blew him right out of the gap he had just cut. Only a desperate Force-push of his own altered his path enough that he slammed into a stanchion instead of plunging half a kilometer from the ledge outside. He bounced off and the Force cleared his head and once again he gave himself to Vaapad.

He could feel the end of this battle approaching, and so could the blur of Sith he faced; in the Force, the shadow had become a pulsar of fear. Easily, almost effortlessly, he turned the shadow's fear into a weapon: he angled the battle to bring them both out onto the window ledge. Out in the wind. Out with the lightning. Out on a rain-slicked ledge above a half-kilometer drop. Out where the shadow's fear made it hesitate. Out where the shadow's fear turned some of its Force-powered speed into a Force-powered grip on the slippery permacrete. Out where Mace could flick his blade in one precise arc and slash the shadow's lightsaber in half.

One piece flipped back in through the cut-open window. The other tumbled from opening fingers, bounced on the ledge, and fell through the rain toward the distant alleys below. Now the shadow was only Palpatine: old and shrunken, thinning hair bleached white by time and care, face lined with exhaustion.

"For all your power, you are no Jedi. All you are, my lord," Mace said evenly, staring past his blade, "is under arrest."

"Do you see, Anakin? Do you?" Palpatine's voice once again had the broken cadence of a frightened old man's. "Didn't I warn you of the Jedi and their treason?"

"Save your twisted words, my lord. There are no politicians here. The Sith will never regain control of the Republic. It's over. You've lost." Mace leveled his blade. "You lost for the same reason the Sith always lose: defeated by your own fear."

Palpatine lifted his head. His eyes smoked with hate. "Fool," he said. He lifted his arms, his robes of office spreading wide into raptor's wings, his hands hooking into talons.

"Fool!" His voice was a shout of thunder. "Do you think the fear you feel is mine?"

Lightning blasted the clouds above, and lightning blasted from Palpatine's hands, and Mace didn't have time to comprehend what Palpatine was talking about; he had time only to slip back into Vaapad and angle his blade to catch the forking arcs of pure, dazzling hatred that clawed toward him. Because Vaapad is more than a fighting style. It is a state of mind: a channel for darkness. Power passed into him and out again without touching him. And the circuit completed itself: the lightning reflected back to its source. Palpatine staggered, snarling, but the blistering energy that loured from his hands only intensified. He fed the power with his pain.

"Anakin!" Mace called. His voice sounded distant, blurred, as if it came from the bottom of a well. "Anakin, help me! This is your chance!"

He felt Anakin's leap from the office floor to the ledge, felt his approach behind—

And Palpatine was not afraid. Mace could feel it: he wasn't worried at all.

"Destroy this traitor," the Chancellor said, his voice raised aver the howl of writhing energy that joined his hands to Mace's blade. "This was never an arrest. It's an assassination!"

That was when Mace finally understood. He had it. The key to final victory. Palpatine's shatterpoint. The absolute shatterpoint of the Sith. The shatterpoint of the dark side itself. Mace thought, blankly astonished, Palpatine trusts Anakin Skywalker...

Now Anakin was at Mace's shoulder. Palpatine still made no move to defend himself from Skywalker; instead he ramped up the lightning bursting from his hands, bending the fountain of Mace's blade back toward the Korun Master's face.

Palpatine's eyes glowed with power, casting a yellow glare that burned back the rain from around them. "He is a traitor, Anakin. Destroy him."

"You're the chosen one, Anakin," Mace said, his voice going thin with strain. This was beyond Vaapad; he had no strength left to fight against his own blade. "Take him. It's your destiny."

Skywalker echoed him faintly. "Destiny..."

"Help me! I can't hold on any longer!" The yellow glare from Palpatine's eyes spread outward through his flesh. His skin flowed like oil, as though the muscle beneath was burning away, as though even the bones of his skull were softening, were bending and bulging, deforming from the heat and pressure of his electric hatred. "He is killing me, Anakin—! Please, Anaaahhh—"

Mace's blade bent so close to his face that he was choking on ozone. "Anakin, he's too strong for me—"

"Ahhh—" Palpatine's roar above the endless blast of lightning became a fading moan of despair. The lightning swallowed itself, leaving only the night and the rain, and an old man crumpled to his knees on a slippery ledge. "I... can't. I give up. I... I am too weak, in the end. Too old, and too weak. Don't kill me, Master Jedi. Please. I surrender."

Victory flooded through Mace's aching body. He lifted his blade. "You Sith disease—"

"Wait—" Skywalker seized his lightsaber arm with desperate strength. "Don't kill him—you can't just kill him, Master—"

"Yes, I can," Mace said, grim and certain. "I have to."

"You came to arrest him. He has to stand trial—"

"A trial would be a joke. He controls the courts. He controls the Senate—"

"So are you going to kill all them, too? Like he said you would?"

Mace yanked his arm free. "He's too dangerous to be left alive. If you could have taken Dooku alive, would you have?"

Skywalker's face swept itself clean of emotion. "That was different—"

Mace turned toward the cringing, beaten Sith Lord. "You can explain the difference after he's dead." He raised his lightsaber.

"I need him alive!" Skywalker shouted. "I need him to save Padme!"

Mace thought blankly, Why? And moved his lightsaber toward the fallen Chancellor. Before he could follow through on his stroke, a sudden arc of blue plasma sheared through his wrist and his hand tumbled away with his lightsaber still in it and Palpatine roared back to his feet and lightning speared from the Sith Lord's hands and without his blade to catch it, the power of Palpatine's hate struck him full-on.

He had been so intent on Palpatine's shatterpoint that he'd never thought to look for Anakin's. Dark lightning blasted away his universe. He fell forever.

Anakin Skywalker knelt in the rain. He was looking at a hand. The hand had brown skin. The hand held a lightsaber. The hand had a charred oval of tissue where it should have been attached to an arm.

"What have I done?" Was it his voice? It must have been. Because it was his question. "What have I done?"

Another hand, a warm and human hand, laid itself softly on his shoulder. "You're following your destiny, Anakin," said a familiar gentle voice. "The Jedi are traitors. You saved the Republic from their treachery. You can see that, can't you?"

"You were right," Anakin heard himself saying. "Why didn't I know?"

"You couldn't have. They cloaked themselves in deception, my boy. Because they feared your power, they could never trust you."

Anakin stared at the hand, but he no longer saw it. "Obi-Wan—Obi-Wan trusts me..."

"Not enough to tell you of their plot."

Treason echoed in his memory.

...this is not an assignment for the record...

That warm and human hand gave his shoulder a warm and human squeeze. "I do not fear your power, Anakin, I embrace it. You are the greatest of the Jedi. You can be the greatest of the Sith. I believe that, Anakin. I believe in you. I trust you. I trust you. I trust you."

Anakin looked from the dead hand on the ledge to the living one on his shoulder, then up to the face of the man who stood above him, and what he saw there choked him like an invisible fist crushing his throat. The hand on his shoulder was human. The face...wasn't.

The eyes were a cold and feral yellow, and they gleamed like those of a predator lurking beyond a fringe of firelight; the bone around those feral eyes had swollen and melted and flowed like durasteel spilled from a fusion smelter, and the flesh that blanketed it had gone corpse-gray and coarse as rotten synthplast. Stunned with horror, stunned with revulsion, Anakin could only stare at the creature. At the shadow. Looking into the face of the darkness, he saw his future.

"Now come inside," the darkness said.

After a moment, he did.

Anakin stood just within the office. Motionless. Palpatine examined the damage to his face in a broad expanse of wall mirror. Anakin couldn't tell if his expression might be revulsion, or if this were merely the new shape of his features. Palpatine lifted one tentative hand to the misshapen horror that he now saw in the mirror, then simply shrugged.

"And so the mask becomes the man," he sighed with a hint of philosophical melancholy. "I shall miss the face of Palpatine, I think; but for our purpose, the face of Sidious will serve. Yes, it will serve."

--Taken from Revenge of the Sith

In the novelization, the duel plays out in much the same manner as it does in the film with minor and mostly irrelevant discrepancies (such as added dialog or Fisto being beheaded, et al) and with less apparent dimensions being brought to the forefront (such as Mace's immersion in Vaapad). As it occurs in the film, the novel, and the comic, Sidious quickly kills Agen and Saesee; moves on to cut down Kit; and then begins a protracted duel with Mace. Ultimately, Sidious is deprived of his lightsaber at the window ledge, hurls Force Lightning at Windu before pausing that effort, Anakin intercepts Mace's downward finishing blow, and Sidious concludes the fight by shooting Lightning at Mace once again, pushing him out of the window opening.

Now, there are some very particular issues that need to be noted here from the novelization, and despite Palpatine's intended outcome being somewhat vague, there are certainties, such as the following:

  • Palpatine foresaw the entrance of the Jedi Council and arranged recording devices in his office to charge the Jedi Order with treason and murder.
  • Mace's speed/power was dramatically amped. He was operating on an exceptionally higher combative level than he ever has before, due to the events that took place.
  • In terms of sheer skill, even with a huge speed and power amp, he still only fought Sidious as a perfect equal.
  • Mace beat Palpatine by exploiting fear in him, but this fear was never there to begin with.
  • Palpatine could have killed Mace with Force Lightning anytime he wanted.
  • Yoda is a superior duelist to Mace and more powerful than he is with the Force, yet Palpatine fought on equal footing with him.

For the first point, the succession of events is described first from Palpatine's perspective in the novel, as he divines through the Force that Anakin is in anguish and that the Jedi Council members are on their way to arrest him. From this subjective third-person narration, Palpatine considers it "good" that the Jedi are coming, and uses the Force to conceal his lightsaber and prepare an audio recording device so that he can frame the Jedi for attempted murder. From this, we know with certainty that Sidious did engineer at least some of the factors at work that contributed to this whole confrontation, and we know for a fact that he wanted the Jedi Council members to challenge him.

The Coruscant nightfall was spreading through the galaxy. The darkness in the Force was no hindrance to the shadow in the Chancellor's office; it was the darkness. Wherever darkness dwelled, the shadow could send perception. In the night, the shadow felt the boy's anguish, and it was good. The shadow felt the grim determination of four Jedi Masters approaching by air. This, too, was good.

The shadow felt Jedi Masters stride the vast echoic emptiness of the vaulted halls outside. It could practically hear the cadence of their boot heels on the Alderaanian marble. The darkness within the sculpture whispered of the shape and the feel and every intimate resonance of the device it cradled. With a twist of its will, the shadow triggered the device. The neuranium got warm. A small round spot, smaller than the circle a human child might make of thumb and forefinger, turned the color of old blood.

As shouts of the Force scattered Redrobes beyond the office's outer doors, the shadow gestured and lampdisks ignited. Another shout of the Force burst open the inner door to the private office. As Jedi stormed in, a final flick of the shadow's will triggered a recording device concealed within the desk.

Audio only.

"Why, Master Windu," said the shadow. "What a pleasant surprise."

[the following is a transcript of an audio recording presented before the Galactic Senate on the afternoon of the first Empire Day; identities of all speakers verified and confirmed by voiceprint analysis]

PALPATINE: Why, Master Windu. What a pleasant surprise.

MACE WINDU: Hardly a surprise, Chancellor. And it will be pleasant for neither of us.

PALPATINE: I'm sorry? Master Fisto, hello. Master Kolar, greetings. I trust you are well. Master Tiin—I see your horn has regrown; I'm very glad. What brings four Jedi Masters to my office at this hour?

MACE WINDU: We know who you are. What you are. We are here to take you into custody.

PALPATINE: I beg your pardon? What I am? When last I checked, I was Supreme Chancellor of the Republic you are sworn to serve. I hope I misunderstand what you mean by custody, Master Windu. It smacks of treason.

MACE WINDU: You're under arrest.

PALPATINE: Really, Master Windu, you cannot be serious. On what charge?

MACE WINDU: You're a Sith Lord!

PALPATINE: Am I? Even if true, that's hardly a crime. My philosophical outlook is a personal matter. In fact—the last time I read the Constitution, anyway—we have very strict laws against this type of persecution. So I ask you again: what is my alleged crime? How do you expect to justify your mutiny before the Senate? Or do you intend to arrest the Senate as well?

MACE WINDU: We're not here to argue with you.

PALPATINE: No, you're here to imprison me without trial. Without even the pretense of legality. So this is the plan, at last: the Jedi are taking over the Republic.

MACE WINDU: Come with us. Now.

PALPATINE: I shall do no such thing. If you intend to murder me, you can do so right here.

MACE WINDU: Don't try to resist.

[sounds that have been identified by frequency resonances to be the ignition of several lightsabers]

PALPATINE: Resist? How could I possibly resist? This is murder, you Jedi traitors! How can I be any threat to you? Master Tiin—you're the telepath. What am I thinking right now?

[sounds of scuffle]

KIT FISTO: Saesee—

AGEN KOLAR: [garbled; possibly "It doesn't hurt"(?)]

[sounds of scuffle]

PALPATINE: Help! Help! Security—someone! Help me! Murder! Treason!

[recording ends]

A fountain of amethyst energy burst from Mace Windu's fist. "Don't try to resist."

The song of his blade was echoed by green fire from the hands of Kit Fisto, Agen Kolar, and Saesee Tiin. Kolar and Tiin closed on Palpatine, blocking the path to the door. Shadows dripped and oozed color, weaving and coiling up office walls slipping over chairs, spreading along the floor.

"Resist? How could I possibly resist?" Still seated at the desk Palpatine shook an empty fist helplessly, the perfect image of a tired, frightened old man. "This is murder, you Jedi traitors! How can I be any threat to you?"

He turned desperately to Saesee Tiin. "Master Tiin—you're the telepath. What am I thinking right now?" Tiin frowned and cocked his head. His blade dipped. A smear of red-flashing darkness hurtled from behind the desk. Saesee Tiin's head bounced when it hit the floor. Smoke curled from the neck, and from the twin stumps of the horns, severed just below the chin.

Kit Fisto gasped, "Saesee!"

The headless corpse, still standing, twisted as its knees buckled, and a thin sigh escaped from its trachea as it folded to the floor.

"It doesn't..." Agen Kolar swayed. His emerald blade shrank away, and the handgrip tumbled from his opening fingers. A small, neat hole in the middle of his forehead leaked smoke, showing light from the back of his head. "...hurt..." He pitched forward onto his face, and lay still.

Palpatine stood at the doorway, but the door stayed shut. From his right hand extended a blade the color of fire. The door locked itself at his back.

"Help! Help!" Palpatine cried like a man in desperate fear for his life. "Security—someone! Help me! Murder! Treason!"

Then he smiled. He held one finger to his lips, and, astonishingly, he winked. In the blank second that followed, while Mace Windu and Kit Fisto could do no more than angle their lightsabers to guard, Palpatine swiftly stepped over the bodies back toward his desk, reversed his blade, and drove it in a swift, surgically precise stab down through his desktop.

"That's enough of that."

--Taken from Revenge of the Sith

For the second point listed about Mace's powers, let me expound on how this happened. Mace received a temporary but critical combat, power, and speed amplification for this duel. This happened because of the nature of Mace's personal fighting style, Vaapad. Vaapad is an off-shoot of Juyo, the seventh form of lightsaber combat. Juyo is an aggressive and erratic fighting form, much more than even Ataru is, and it is this aggression that has made it a matter of discussion among Jedi whether Juyo is a safe style to learn. It relies on simply relentless strokes thrown continually until the user's opponent is defeated. The notable difference between Juyo and Vaapad though is that Vaapad is a channel for darkness.

Vaapad takes the user "through the penumbra of the dark side." It affords the practitioner the ability to harness their own inner darkness (darkness, not the dark side for clarification's sake) as a ferocity and drive in combat but does so without them falling victim to their darkness. In contrast with simply fighting against the temptation of their innate darkness as many Jedi do, the principle and technique of Vaapad is designed to actually revel in a fight and arrest the practitioner's innate darkness, such as their pain, aggression, negative emotions, and so on, and direct this darkness as a weapon that can be controlled instead of controlling them, a weapon for the light. Basically, Mace Windu, Sora Bulq, or Depa Billaba could draw on their darkness and still stay true to the light side of the Force. Mace divulged that the underlying principles of his form were an answer to his own weakness, which is a darkness that resides within him. Vaapad also works to turn the darkness of the enemy against them, but in spite of how that may sound, it does not equate to an instant victory against any dark sider. Because the amassment of darkness animates Vaapad, the more darkness there is in the user, the more potent Vaapad will be, and this is how Mace's abilities were amplified.

In Mace's duel with Palpatine, he achieved a fighting state he had never accomplished before, and this happened because at that time, the darkness, pain, and determination within him had been monumentally increased. They were increased because Mace had an attachment to and a love for the Republic that was shattered when Anakin told him that Palpatine, the Republic's Supreme Chancellor, was the Sith. The Republic Mace had been fighting for had already fallen under the Sith's influence, and this affected him at his core, heightening his darkness. On account of that, Mace managed to wield his own immensely accentuated darkness and Sidious' darkness to enhance himself.

The novel and other sources state this very plainly, pointing out that the focal point of Mace's existence has been a waste. The novel then describes that Anakin felt fury pour into the Force and that Mace endured with a "poisonous abscess" in his heart, a result of his attachment crumbling. More, it exposits on how Mace is immersed in Vaapad to a degree that had never been before, articulating that he was losing his individual being within it, and that he is fighting for the Republic that he loved. Lastly, the novel outlines that while Mace was in this fighting state, the Force "fed on [Palpatine's] murderous exaltation" and that Mace "accepted the furious speed of the Sith Lord, drew [Palpatine's] rage and power into his inmost center...and let it fountain out again." He was capable of absorbing Palpatine's darkness, power, and speed into himself and funneling it back out at him. With this "superconducting loop," Mace's own darkness, power, and speed was intensified to such an extent that the Force was pulsing with power around Mace and Sidious and their blows were too fast for Anakin to even visually track. Vaapad's property of absorbing and reflecting darkness is also what enabled Mace to deflect Palpatine's Force Lightning using his lightsaber blade later in the fight, which strengthens the point that he was in a state in Vaapad wherein he was amplified by Sidious' darkness.

Before Obi-Wan had left Coruscant, Mace Windu had told him of facing Grievous in single combat atop a mag-lev train during the general's daring raid to capture Palpatine. Mace had told him how the computers slaved to Grievous's brain had apparently analyzed even Mace's unconventionally lethal Vaapad and had been able to respond in kind after a single exchange.

"He must have been trained by Count Dooku," Mace had said, "so you can expect Makashi as well; given the number of Jedi he has fought and slain, you must expect that he can attack in any style, or all of them. In fact, Obi-Wan, I believe that of all living Jedi, you have the best chance to defeat him."

This pronouncement had startled Obi-Wan, and he had protested. After all, the only form in which he was truly even proficient was Soresu, which was the most common lightsaber form in the Jedi Order. Founded upon the basic deflection principles all Padawans were taught—to enable them to protect themselves from blaster bolts—Soresu was very simple, and so restrained and defense-oriented that it was very nearly downright passive.

"But surely, Master Windu," Obi-Wan had said, "you, with the power of Vaapad—or Yoda's mastery of Ataro—"

Mace Windu had almost smiled. "I created Vaapad to answer my weakness: it channels my own darkness into a weapon of the light. Master Yoda's Ataro is also an answer to weakness: the limitations of reach and mobility imposed by his stature and his age. But for you? What weakness does Soresu answer?"

Blinking, Obi-Wan had been forced to admit he'd never actually thought of it that way.

--Taken from Revenge of the Sith

Anakin's revelation—that Palpatine and Darth Sidious are one and the same—hollows Mace to the core. Not days earlier, he and other Jedi had risked their lives against Grievous's droid forces to prevent Palpatine from being abducted. Grasping that the abduction and the war itself has been nothing more than a deception, Mace leaps into action, promising to take Palpatine into Jedi custody, dead or alive.

--Taken from The Complete Visual Dictionary

Because Mace, too, has an attachment. Mace has a secret love. Mace Windu loves the Republic.

Many of his students quote him to students of their own: "Jedi do not fight for peace. That's only a slogan, and is as misleading as slogans always are. Jedi fight for civilization, because only civilization creates peace."

For Mace Windu, for all his life, for all the lives of a thousand years of Jedi before him, true civilization has had only one true name: the Republic.

He has given his life in the service of his love. He has taken lives in its service, and lost the lives of innocents. He has seen beings that he cares for maimed, and killed, and sometimes worse: sometimes so broken by the horror of the struggle that their only answer was to commit horrors greater still.

And because of that love now, here, in this instant, Anakin Skywalker has nine words for him that shred his heart, burn its pieces, and feed him its smoking ashes.

Palpatine is Sidious. The Chancellor is the Sith Lord.

He doesn't even hear the words, not really; their true meaning is too large for his mind gather in all at once.

They mean that all he's done, and all that has been done to him—

That all the Order has accomplished, all it has suffered—

All the Galaxy itself has gone through, all the years of suffering and slaughter, the death of entire planets

Has all been for nothing.

Because it was all done to save the Republic.

Which was already gone.

Which had already fallen.

The corpse of which had been defended only by a Jedi Order that was now under the command of a Dark Lord of the Sith. Mace Windu's entire existence has become crystal so shot-through with flaws that the hammer of those nine words has crushed him to sand.

Sinking into Vaapad, Mace Windu fought for his life. More than his life: each whirl of blade and whipcrack of lightning was a strike in defense of democracy, of justice and peace, of the rights of ordinary beings to live their own lives in their own ways. He was fighting for the Republic that he loved.

Anakin blinked and rubbed his eyes again. Maybe he was still a bit flash-blind—the Korun Master seemed to be fading in and out of existence, half swallowed by a thickening black haze in which danced a meter-long bar of sunfire. Mace pressed back the darkness with a relentless straight-ahead march; his own blade, that distinctive amethyst blaze that had been the final sight of so many evil beings across the galaxy, made a haze of its own: an oblate sphere of purple fire within which there seemed to be dozens of swords slashing in all directions at once.

The shadow he fought, that blur of speed—could that be Palpatine?

Their blades flared and flashed, crashing together with bursts of fire,weaving nets of killing energy in exchanges so fast that Anakin could not truly see them—but he could feel them in the Force. The Force itself roiled and burst and crashed around them, boiling with power and lightspeed ricochets of lethal intent. And it was darkening.

Anakin could feel how the Force fed upon the shadow's murderous exaltation; he could feel fury spray into the Force though some poisonous abscess had crested in both their hearts.

Mace was deep in it now: submerged in Vaapad, swallowed by it, he no longer truly existed as an independent being. Vaapad is a channel for darkness, and that darkness flowed both ways. He accepted the furious speed of the Sith Lord, drew the shadow's rage and power into his inmost center—

And let it fountain out again. He reflected the fury upon its source as a lightsaber redirects a blaster bolt.

Lightning blasted the clouds above, and lightning blasted from Palpatine's hands, and Mace didn't have time to comprehend what Palpatine was talking about; he had time only to slip back into Vaapad and angle his blade to catch the forking arcs of pure, dazzling hatred that clawed toward him. Because Vaapad is more than a fighting style. It is a state of mind: a channel for darkness. Power passed into him and out again without touching him. And the circuit completed itself: the lightning reflected back to its source.

--Taken from Revenge of the Sith

As can be seen, Mace's own abilities were elevated for that one battle. If there is any doubt that Mace is not normally as powerful or as fast as he was in that duel, another issue to be aware of is this: that Windu has fought many opponents in the past without operating on the fighting level he did against Sidious. According to all adaptations and official descriptions on the Jedi Council members' encounter with Sidious, Palpatine killed Saesee and Agen before they could react. Drawing from Legends/EU sources for Mace's following battles, Mace and Saesee have dueled one another before (Star Wars #23: Infinities End), showing a contest in which Saesee can hold is ground. Saesee, Agen, and Kit are three of the most adroit swordsmen the Jedi Order has ever witnessed. If Mace can engage in the fighting level he reached against Sidious at any time of his leisure, why is it Mace was not noticeably faster than Tiin or able to quickly overwhelm him, yet he could compete with Sidious, who quickly blitzed and killed Tiin?

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"Given the strain on our current resources," Mace Windu said, "I recommend we send only one Jedi—Master Kenobi."

Which would leave Mace and Agen Kolar—both among the greatest bladesbeings the Jedi Order had ever produced—here on Coruscant in case Sidious did indeed take this opportunity to make a dramatic move.

He turned desperately to Saesee Tiin. "Master Tiin—you're the telepath. What am I thinking right now?" Tiin frowned and cocked his head. His blade dipped. A smear of red-flashing darkness hurtled from behind the desk. Saesee Tiin's head bounced when it hit the floor. Smoke curled from the neck, and from the twin stumps of the horns, severed just below the chin.

Kit Fisto gasped, "Saesee!"

The headless corpse, still standing, twisted as its knees buckled, and a thin sigh escaped from its trachea as it folded to the floor.

"Don't make me kill Anakin," he said. "He's like my brother, Master."

"The boy you trained, gone he is—twisted by the dark side. Consumed by Darth Vader. Out of this misery, you must put him. To visit our new Emperor, my job will be."

Now Obi-Wan did face him. "Palpatine faced Mace and Agen and Kit and Saesee—four of the greatest swordsmen our Order has ever produced. By himself. Even both of us together wouldn't have a chance."

--Taken from Revenge of the Sith

Most of the Jedi are deployed on distant worlds, but Mace manages to assemble a trio of celebrated swordmasters to assist him in arresting Palpatine: Agen Kolar, a Zabrak known among the Jedi to strike first and ask questions later; Saesee Tiin, a solitary Iktotchi who has never chosen a Padawan learner; and Kit Fisto, Nautolan master of Form 1 lightsaber technique, who distinguished himself on Geonosis and Mon Calamari, and who partnered Mace in battling Grievous on Coruscant.

--Taken from The Complete Visual Dictionary

Likewise, in other Legends sources, Mace's track record includes other duels where the outcome was not affected by a one-time power amp. As another such case, Mace has dueled with Sora Bulq and defeated him by knocking him unconscious with the Force (Jedi: Mace Windu). At the time, Sora had aligned himself with Count Dooku and had embraced the dark side. Why is it Mace didn't manifest a darkness-absorbing superconducting loop and achieve a similar fighting state against Sora as he did against Sidious or moved overwhelmingly faster than Bulq despite the latter's adherence to the dark side?

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Immediately following his duel with Sora, Mace fought and overwhelmed Asajj Ventress, driving her away (Jedi: Mace Windu). The Official Star Wars Fact File #108 stated that "Mace Windu had to use all his skills to defeat the dark-side fighter Asajj Ventress," and Ventress has also lost to Anakin, whose vision was too slow to even follow Palpatine and Mace's blades in RotS. Why is it Mace never fought overwhelmingly faster than Ventress or manifested a darkness-absorbing superconducting loop and achieve a similar fighting state despite the darkness within her and despite not holding back against her?

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Mace had a brief but fairly even duel with Count Dooku (Obsession #5). Dooku is, of course, a powerful Force adept and a master of the dark side, harboring darkness and rage of his own. Why is it Mace didn't manifest a darkness-absorbing superconducting loop against him and achieve a similar fighting state against the Count as he did against Palpatine despite Dooku's own inherent darkness?

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Mace dueled General Grievous, whom he defeated by exploiting Grievous' restricted mobility in that duel and then Force hurling him off the mag-lev train they fought on. How is it Mace never fought overwhelmingly faster than Grievous despite adopting Vaapad maneuvers against the General?

Kit's bulging black eyes indicated Palpatine. "They want to take him alive."

The words had scarcely left his mouth when something hit the train with sufficient force to whip everyone from one side of the car to the other, then back again. The Red Guards were just regaining their balance when the roof began to resound with the cadence of heavy, clanging footfalls, advancing from the rear of the train.

"Grievous," Mace grumbled.

Kit glanced at him. "Here we go again."

Hurrying into the vestibule between the two lead cars, they launched themselves to the roof. Three cars distant marched General Grievous and two of his elite droids, their capes snapping behind them in the wind, pulse-tipped batons angled across their barrel chests. Farther back, clamped by animal-like claws to the roof of the train, was the gunboat from which the frightful trio had been released.

Without pausing, Grievous drew two lightsabers from inside his billowing cloak. By the time they were ignited, Mace was already on and all over the cyborg, batting away at the two blades, swinging low at Grievous's artificial legs, thrusting at his skeletal face. The lightsabers thrummed and hissed, meeting one another in bursts of dazzling light. In a corner of Mace's mind he wondered to which Jedi Grievous's blades had belonged. Just as the Force was keeping Mace from being blown from the mag-lev's roof, magnetism of some sort was keeping the general fastened in place. For the cyborg, though, the coherence hindered as much as it helped, whereas Mace never remained in one place for very long.

Again and again the three blades joined, in snarling attacks and parries. Grievous was well trained in the Jedi arts. Mace could recognize the hand of Dooku in the general's training and technique. His strikes were as forceful as any Mace had ever had to counter, and his speed was astonishing. But he didn't know Vaapad—the technique of dark flirtation in which Mace excelled.

To the rear of the car, where Grievous's pair of MagnaGuards had made the mistake of pitting themselves against Kit Fisto, the Nautolan's blade was a cyclone of blazing blue light. Resistant to the energy outpourings of a lightsaber, the phrik alloy staffs were potent weapons, but like any weapon they needed to find their target, and Kit simply wasn't allowing that. In moves a Twi'lek dancer might envy, he spun around the guards, claiming a limb from both with each rotation: left legs, right arms, right legs...

The speed of the train saw to the rest, ultimately whisking the droids into the canyon like insects blown from the windscreen of a speeder bike.

The loss of his confederates was noted by whatever computers were slaved to Grievous's organic brain, but the loss neither distracted nor slowed him. His sole setting was attack. Successful at analyzing Mace's lightsaber style, those same computers suggested that Grievous alter his stance and posture, along with the angle of his parries, ripostes, and thrusts. The result wasn't Vaapad, but it was close enough, and Mace wasn't interested in prolonging the contest any longer than necessary.

Crouching low, he angled the blade downward and slashed, guiding it through the roof of the car, perpendicular to Grievous's stalwart advance. Mace saw by the surprised look in the cyborg's reptilian eyes that, for all his strength, dexterity, and resolve, the living part of him wasn't always in perfect sync with his alloy servos. Clearly, Grievous—onetime courageous commander of sentient troops—realized what Mace had done and wanted to sidestep, where General Grievous—current commander of droids and other war machines—wanted nothing more than to impale Mace with lunging thrusts of the paired blades.

Slipping into the gap made by Mace's saber, Grievous's left talon lost magnetic purchase on the roof, and the general faltered. Mace came out of his crouch prepared to drive his sword into Grievous's guts, but some last-instant firing of the general's cybersynapses compelled the cyborg's torso through a swift half twist that would have sent Mace's head hurtling into the canyon had the maneuver prevailed. Instead Mace leapt backward, out of the range of the slicing blades, and Force-pushed outward, just at the instant of Grievous's single misstep.

Off the side of the car the general went, twisting and turning as he fell, Mace trying to track the general's contorted plunge, but unsuccessfully. Had he fallen into the canyon? Had he managed to dig his duranium claws into the side of the car or grab hold of the mag-lev rail itself?

Mace couldn't take the time to puzzle it out. One hundred meters away, the gunboat retracted its landing gear and rose from the roof on repulsorlift power. Reckless shots from one of the pursuing gunships obliged the Separatist craft to skew, then dive, with the gunship following close behind.

--Taken from Labyrinth of Evil

Example after example of that sort could be elucidated on. In none of Mace's other fights did he ever reach such a state of solidarity with Vaapad or accelerate his movements to the degree that he did against Palpatine. To further solidify this point, Palpatine killed Tiin, Kolar, and Fisto before they could react to him, but other sources even state that Mace failed to initially react in time as well, which is commensurate with his failure to protect or save his confederates from being killed during the duel. In Canon, starwars.com describes that Palpatine "sprang into action and killed all of [the Council members] except Mace Windu," highlighting that Mace under his standard level of power lacks the reaction time to respond to Sidious' combat speed; in Legends/EU, another source even states that Sidious killed Kolar, Tiin, and Fisto "before Mace realizes what has happened." This shows the disparity in speed between Palpatine and Mace and, in juxtaposition with SW.com, shows that had Mace not tapped into a greater power level/fighting state, he would have lacked the reflexive capacity to match Palpatine's speed just like the other Council members.

No Caption Provided

Before the Jedi could react, Palpatine sprang into action and killed all of them except Mace Windu.

--Taken from starwars.com, Palpatine Biography Gallery, Image 26 of 29

Before Mace realizes what has happened, Kolar, Tiin, and Fisto have fallen to Sidious's blade.

--Taken from The Complete Visual Dictionary

In the inner recesses of his private office, the Jedi confronted the Chancellor. Palpatine produced a lightsaber hidden in his sleeve and let the dark side flow through him. It granted him unnatural dexterity and speed—enough to quickly kill three Jedi Masters and force the mighty Mace Windu back.

--Taken from The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia

The novel stated that Mace's powers were increased, sources stated that Mace failed to follow Sidious' attacks at the onset of the duel, and Mace never moved that fast before. So no matter how you look at this, if Mace's fighting capabilities were never circumstantially improved during this duel, then his fighting speed is eclipsed by Palpatine's, and it is entirely possible that Sidious would have overwhelmed Mace with his speed the same way he did to Saesee, Agen, and Kit.

What's more, this combative and speed amplification that Mace evinced cannot be replicated anywhere else. If you fail to pay attention to context and prior history, it would appear that in any duel with any dark sider, Mace can simply apprehend the darkness of his enemy to empower himself beyond his standard abilities, but this is demonstrably not the case. Mace has, when describing Vaapad, referenced the "superconducting loop" of its powers, but as I said, Vaapad has limits. If Mace could simply equalize himself with any dark side enemy he faces by looping their own dark power back at them, why is it in Legends he lost to Kar Vastor, a dark sider on the dark side permeated world of Haruun Kal? Why is it, despite assuming a Vaapad stance against Kar and despite not holding back against him, Mace was beaten by Vastor? Why is it Mace later conceded that he could never defeat Kar in direct combat?

The lor pelek crouched and lowered one hand to the ground, digging in the leaf mold, his sweat-glistening chest heaving, breath pumping darkness into him and out again. Gathering rage. Gathering power. The shimmer around him had gone from red to black.

Mace shook his arms loose. "Rules?"

Vastor's reply was the snort of a hunting akk. Jungle rules. A burst of power launched the lor pelek as a human missile, clawing his way through the twilight toward the Jedi Master.

Jungle rules it is, then, Mace thought, and leapt to meet him in midair.

They collided with a crash that shook the jungle around them. The collision was not just of two human bodies, but of two node-channels of the Force: invisible energy crackled, and vivid blue gap-sparks arced from leaf to leaf in the canopy above. For a moment, they hung in the air, supported by power, grappling, tearing at each other's flesh. The akk dogs lunged and whirled and slashed the air with their tails. The guards clashed together their shields, roaring with ferocious animal exuberance.

Vastor seemed to be all teeth and claws and fierce snarling assault. Arms like girders of durasteel caught Mace in an unbreakable hug, pinning the Jedi's elbows to his creaking ribs. Mace answered swifter than thought with an instinctive head-butt that split the skin on one of Vastor's cheekbones. The lor pelek lowered his head to Mace's shoulder as though to snuggle in like a lover—then sank his needle teeth deep into Mace's neck, chewing for his carotid artery.

Mace jerked a knee up to slam the inside of Vastor's thigh; Vastor only grunted and bit down harder, twisting his head from side to side like an akk worrying off a tusker's leg. His jaw pressure on the artery was restricting its blood flow; billowing clouds of darkness gathered in Mace's brain—but when Mace fired the knee again, Vastor jerked his legs out of the way.

Mace's knee caught him a decimeter below the navel. This brought a sharper grunt and a snarl that vibrated in Mace's neck, but instead of withdrawing his knee for another strike, Mace dug it in harder, forcing Vastor's body away from his own. This created just enough space that Mace could slip one arm up between their chests, and could stab his stiffened fingers into the notch of Vastor's collarbone. And shove.

With a convulsive gasp of astonishment, the lor pelek released Mace's neck. Mace kept on shoving, jamming his fingers into Vastor's windpipe. Vastor gagged, and his massive arms loosened. They fell together, tumbling, and as Mace finally pushed Vastor off him he managed to sneak in a quick snapping kick to the point of Vastor's chin that sent the lor pelek whirling like a topspun ball.

Mace recovered his Force-touch in time to flip upright and land in a balanced crouch; Vastor landed on all fours, absorbing the shock as effortlessly as a vine cat.

They looked at each other.

Blood ran from the bite wound on Mace's neck, painting his shoulder and part of his chest scarlet, but it was only a trail, not a jet: the artery must have remained intact. A similar trail rolled from Vastor's split cheek and dripped from his jaw.

Neither man appeared to notice.

Vastor's growl resonated in Mace's chest. Not many men can break my grip. You won't do it twice.

Mace didn't answer. Vastor was probably right. He was suddenly, acutely aware that he hadn't slept since the night before the fight in the notch pass. The night when a bark-drunk Lesh had come to him in tears, to tell him what Kar and the Akk Guards would teach him, if he lived long enough. It seemed like years ago.

He wondered briefly if the lor pelek would have gone ahead and torn out his throat despite what he claimed Depa had told him, or if he would have settled for the strangle. He decided he could live without knowing the answer.

That is, if he lived at all.

Vastor stalked toward him on all fours. Was that Jedi fighting? Poking and pinching? A little jab to stop the big dog? I am not impressed.

Mace stood motionless except for the heaving of his chest. He knew already he could not match Vastor for raw power. With each breath, he stripped away another layer of restraint and inhibition. Another layer of serenity. He had to move his inner peace out of the way to let in the joy. The thrill. The sheer okay-why-not-let's-FIGHT. Because Vaapad was more than just a form of lightsaber combat. It was a state of mind.

Night had deepened upon the jungle, and around them glowvines began to pulse faintly. To use Vaapad now, out here, was incredibly dangerous—almost as dangerous as not using Vaapad. The ultimate answer for power is skill.

"Want to be impressed?" Mace said. "Let's see the impression my boot makes on your face."

Without warning, Vastor's stalk became a lightning lunge, fingers hooked like talons, his arms sweeping wide to close on Mace once more—but Mace wasn't there anymore. A slight sidestep and a weave of his head snuck him to the outside of Vastor's lunge, and his fist whipped backhand to snap Vastor in the base of the skull as he passed: a knockout blow.

But Vastor must have felt it coming; he pitched forward, rolling with the punch so that it flipped him end for end. He landed in perfect balance and sprang again, straight up; the kick Mace had aimed at his kidneys only grazed his calf muscle. He used the impact to whirl in the air so that he could fall upon the Jedi Master like a branch leopard taking a tusker.

But what he fell upon was Mace's fist, driven upward into his solar plexus by the combined power of the Force and nearly fifty years of Jedi combat training. Mace's hand sank in to the wrist, and Vastor's fighting snarl became an agonized struggle for breath. Mace used the Force to hurl him off and send him tumbling through the air to slam into the flank of an agitated akk dog. Eyes glazing, half stunned, the lor pelek slid bonelessly down the akk's armored ribs, and staggered as his feet skidded over gnarled roots.

Before he could find his balance, Mace was on him. "Impressed yet?"

Standing toe to toe, the top of Mace's head barely came to the level of Vastor's chin, and you could have tucked Mace's whole thick-muscled upper body inside Vastor's chest with room to spare. And even hurt, lurching drunkenly, Vastor still could whip his arms in blindingly fast raking slaps at Mace's head and wounded neck. But where Vastor's speed was blinding, Mace's was invisible. Not one of those slaps connected.

Before Vastor could even focus his eyes, Mace had hit him six times: two thundering hooks to his short ribs, a knee slamming hard into the same thigh he'd hit before, an elbow snapping up to the point of his chin, and two devastating palm strikes to either hinge of his jaw. An ordinary man would have been unconscious. Vastor seemed to be getting stronger.

Vastor fired another of those blinding slaps. This time, instead of ducking, Mace countered with a whirring hook that met the lor pelek's swinging arm directly on the nerve that ran up the inside of the biceps. Vastor threw the other even harder—which only made the inside of that arm connect that much harder with Mace's counterhook. Vastor's mighty arms spasmed and dropped limply to his sides.

"This is called Vaapad, Kar." A fierce light burned in Mace's eyes. "How many arms do you see?"

Then he hit Vastor twice in the nose before the lor pelek could even blink. Vastor howled in pain and raging disbelief, falling back against the akk dog's flank once more, twisting and turning to try to find some way to avoid the Jedi's flashing hands. Mace stayed with him, pinning him to the akk's flank, fists whirling through Vaapad flurries, striking not to disable or to kill, but instead to hurt: stinging flicks to soft tissue, smashing ears and nose, stabbing up under the chin.

The akk dog suddenly lurched away from them, giving Vastor half a meter of clearance. The lor pelek sprang sideways, diving away.

Mace let him go. "Go on and run, Kar. This is over. You lose. I'm the big dog here—"

Vastor turned his dive into a roll and spun to face the Jedi Master from one knee, and before Mace had even finished speaking the Force whirled around him and Mace found himself wrenched off the ground, hurtling backward through the air to slam against the smooth-barked gray trunk of a meter-thick lammas tree. The whole tree shivered with the impact, and a spiral galaxy birthed itself inside Mace's head.

He thought, I was wondering when we'd get to this part.

Vastor's face tightened. Strength must have been returning to his nerve-punched arms already, because he managed to raise one and gesture as though throwing a stone; Mace was whirled forward from the tree to crash against the skull of an astonished akk dog. The impact folded him over the dog's head and blasted the breath from his lungs; the dog's crown spines gashed Mace's abdomen, and when it tossed Mace aside with a twitch of its head like a Nymalian water-ox, his blood ran down the black outer shells of its eyes.

Jedi Padawans learn to counter Force kinesis before they even begin lightsaber training. Still in the air, Mace sensed the flow of power that held Vastor's grip upon him; with a sigh, he allowed his center—Vastor's point of Force contact—to relax and ground Vastor's power back into the jungle around them...

And that jungle came to life. A gripleaf trailer snaked down from above and seized one of Mace's ankles in its unbreakable clutch. His airborne tumble became a wide-swinging head-down arc.

Gripleaf trailers only grew tighter as their victim struggled, and their fibers were nearly as strong as durasteel cable; they could not be broken by mortal strength. This one squeezed his ankle, drawing blood with the edges of its sharp waxy leaves. Another trailer reached toward his other ankle, and from his upside-down vantage he could see a thick blade-thorned length of brassvine curving toward his neck. He almost reached into the Force for his lightsaber—

But that would be admitting defeat. Time to be clever.

He used the Force to shove the gripleaf trailer so that the arc of his swing sent him whirling out over the ring of dogs and men. One of the Akk Guards smirked at him as he swung overhead: "Big dog? More like little tusk-pig."

When his swing carried him back in, Mace reached down and grabbed the Akk Guard by the arm, yanking him into the air. Drawing upon the Force for a burst of strength, Mace whipped the astonished Guard up and over and used the edge of his razor-sharp shield to slice through the trailer before releasing him to flail helplessly through the air and crash into the jungle darkness.

Mace turned his own fall into a flip that landed him on an akk dog's shoulders. He bounded off into the air—

And Vastor's Force grip seized him again. Vastor was on his feet now, and his arms didn't seem hurt at all. His blood-smeared mouth spread wide in a howl of triumph as he yanked Mace through the multicolored glowvine-shaded night, pulling him in while he opened his arms for that lethal embrace.

Mace thought: Well, if you insist...

Instead of resisting or grounding the power of Vastor's Force grip, Mace added his own strength to it. The speed of his flight suddenly doubled; Vastor had only time to widen his eyes in dismay as Mace flipped headfirst in the air. The top of his head speared into Vastor's gut and drove the lor pelek to the ground as though he'd been hit by a concussion missile.

On the other hand, Vastor's stomach wasn't much softer than that lammas he'd slammed Mace into; the impact didn't do Mace's head a lot of good, either. Another spiral galaxy blossomed where the first had been as Mace rolled off him, lying on his back while he watched stellar clusters wheel inside his skull. Vastor lay beside him, making faint panting noises while he tried to pull air into his spasming chest.

Vastor's breath began to return in great whooping gasps, and Mace knew his time was running out. He shook the stars out of his head and reached down to his ankle to unwrap the severed gripleaf trailer. Limp now, dying, it was unresisting as an ordinary rope; Mace took one end in each fist, and as Vastor rolled over and gained his hands and knees, Mace slipped a loop of the trailer over the lor pelek's head from behind and tightened it around his throat.

Vastor straightened and his hands went to his throat, clawing at Mace's improvised garrote, but not even he was strong enough to break a gripleaf trailer with his bare hands. His face darkened, swelling with blood; the back of his neck bulged; veins writhed across his temples and forehead.

Ten seconds, Mace thought, hanging on, wedging his knees into Vastor's back. Ten seconds and out.

Vastor got one foot under him.

Mace swallowed, gasping for breath as he tried to tighten the trailer around the lor pelek's throat.

Pure will powered Vastor to his feet. He didn't even seem to notice the weight of a large Jedi Master hanging down his back.

Mace thought: Here it comes.

In an eyeblink, Vastor's grip shifted from the gripleaf trailer to Mace's wrists. He threw himself forward, bent at the waist, and with a surge of incredible strength yanked the Jedi Master over his head and slammed him bodily to the dirt.

The impact replaced the stars in Mace's head with billowing black nebulae; he'd never gotten his breath back properly after landing on the akk dog, and now he couldn't breathe at all. The jungle above faded into a black haze; through the darkness descending inside his skull, he barely caught a glimpse of Vastor leaping into the air to drop a body lam that would finish him. With a gasp, he rolled aside, and Vastor landed hard on the ground beside him.

Mace dizzily tried to pull himself up to his hands and knees; Vastor was still down, his hands clawing weakly at Mace's flanks. Mace pushed him off and made it to his knees. Vastor rolled onto his side, found a tree trunk, and pulled himself up it, leaning on it drunkenly.

Though Mace couldn't breathe—could barely see through the black-and-red haze inside his head—he could draw upon the Force to throw himself upright, and he lunged at Vastor, whirling, hands clasped together to deliver every erg of power at his command into one last thundering punch that lifted Vastor bodily off the ground, flipped him over backward, and dropped him on the back of his neck. Mace swayed, almost out on his feet. The jungle hazed in and out of focus. All he could clearly see was the lor pelek climbing to his feet.

Vastor was smiling.

Is that the best you have?

"I'm just—" Mace gasped for breath. His arms came up slowly; each one felt like it was made out of collapsium. "Just getting started—"

One of those open-handed slaps flashed out of the darkness; the next thing of which Mace was aware was a bell-like ringing in his ears, and the grip of Vastor's huge hand around his neck, holding him up off the jungle floor.

Mace's eyelids fluttered open. Vastor's blood-smeared grin was the only thing in the world.

Vastor growled, How many arms do you see?

Mace didn't answer.

He certainly didn't see the one attached to the hand that snuffed the world like a blown-out candle.

FROM THE PRIVATE JOURNALS OF MACE WlNDU

Vastor was willing to let Nick help me, and treat my more serious injuries with supplies from a captured medpac. He was willing to believe the battering he'd inflicted on me was nearly crippling. It wasn't far from the truth.

Nick was still simmering as he helped me to my feet, muttering under his breath a continuous stream of invective, characterizing Vastor as a "lizard-faced frogswallower," and a "demented scab-chewing turtlesacker" and a variety of other names that I don't feel comfortable recording, even in a private journal.

"That's enough," I told him. "I have gone to considerable trouble to keep us both alive, Nick. I'd prefer we stay that way."

"Oh, sure. Nice job on that." His voice was bitter, and he didn't want to meet my eyes.

I told him I was sorry about his hundred credits, and pointed out to him gently that no one had told him to bet on me.

He turned on me then, instantly furious, hissing savagely to keep his voice down, as the Akk Guards and the dogs were still milling about. "This isn't about credits! I don't care about the credits—" He stopped himself, blinking, and his familiar smile flickered briefly across his lips. "Shee. Did I really just say that? Wow. So okay, sure, that was a lie: I care about the creds. I care a lot. But that's not why I'm angry."

I nodded, and told him I understood: he was angry at me. He felt like I'd let him down.

"Not me," he said. "I mean, come on: Jedi are supposed to stand for something, aren't you? You're supposed stand up for what's right. No matter what." Angry at me as he may have been, he still swung his head under one of my arms and held it across his shoulders, so he could help me walk.

It was appreciated. Only as the adrenaline and concussion shock were wearing off did I begin understand what a beating I had taken; later, with access to the medpac's scanner, I would discover two cracked ribs, a severe ankle sprain from the gripleaf trailer, a moderate concussion, and some internal bleeding, not to mention the bite wound on my neck and an astonishing variety of scrapes and bruises.

As Nick helped me up onto the ankkox, I discovered what had made him so angry with me: more than anything else, it was that I'd declared we had been wrong to free the prisoners.

"I don't care what you say," he muttered darkly. "I don't care what Kar says. There were kids there. And wounded. I mean: those Balawai, they weren't evil. They were just people. Like us."

"Nearly everyone is."

"We did the right thing, and you know it."

It dawned on me then that Nick was proud of himself. Proud of what we had done. It may have been an unfamiliar feeling for him: that peculiarly delicious pride that comes from having taken a terrible risk to do something truly admirable. Of overcoming the instinct of self preservation: of fighting our fears and winning.

It is the pride of discovering that one is not merely a bundle of reflexes and conditioned responses; that instead one is a thinking being, who can choose the right over the easy, and justice over safety. The pride Nick took in this made me proud of him, too—though of course I could not tell him so. It would only have embarrassed him, and made him regret speaking at all.

I hope I never forget the fierce conviction on his face as he helped me climb the extended leg of the ankkox and clambered up onto its dorsal shell. "Just because Kar beat you like a rented gong doesn't mean he was right. Just because he won doesn't mean you were wrong to challenge him. I can't believe you'd ever say those things."

His answer came from within the curtained darkness of the howdah at the top of the curved shell.

"If you spend much time around us, Nick, you will learn..." Depa's voice was strong and clear and as sane and gentle as it has always been in my heart. "You will learn that Jedi do not always tell the truth."

Nick stopped, suddenly scowling as though he found himself unexpectedly deep in thought. "Don't always—hey..." he muttered suspiciously. "Hey, wait one second here—"

She pulled back the curtain once more, and pushed open the small swing gate in the rail. "Come on in. You look like you might want to lie down."

"I might," I admitted. "This hasn't been my best couple of days."

She took my hand to steady me as I stepped into the howdah, and she made room for me on the chaise. "I have to hand it to you, Mace," she said with a softly ironic smile. "You still take a beating as well as any man in the galaxy."

Nick's eyes bulged as though his head might explode. "I knew it!" He shook a fiercely triumphant fist in my face. "I knew it. I knew you could take him!"

I told him to keep it down, because Vastor and the Akk Guards were still moving through the trees nearby, and I had no idea how sharp Vastor's ears might be. I didn't tell him to shut up altogether because it wouldn't have done any good.

"I've got you figured. You hear me? I've got your Jedi butt scanned to the twelfth decimal point! I shoulda known you were gonna dive when you started in on Kar like that—you were spinning him up to make the confrontation more personal, like. The more you insulted him, the less he was gonna worry about taking anything out on me. And you kept on taunting him so that booting your Jedi can into next week felt so good that he basically forgave you for letting those Balawai go!"

I told him he was half wrong.

"Which half?"

Depa answered for me. "The part about letting Kar win."

She knows me so well.

"You mean he really beat you?" Nick couldn't seem to believe it. "He really, really beat you?"

"We share a bond in the Force now, Nick. Did it feel like I threw the fight?"

He shook his head. "It felt like you were a smazzo drummer's trap skin."

"As you said earlier: Vastor is a difficult man to lie to. He would have known if I was holding back. Then the beating would have been much worse, and he might very well have killed me. What I did was pick a fight I knew I couldn't win."

"Couldn't?"

"Vastor is...very powerful. Half my age and twice my size. Training and experience can compensate only up to a point. And he is naturally ferocious in a way that no Jedi can duplicate."

"You're telling me you twisted his nose like that, knowing he was gonna beat you so bad your whole family would bleed?"

I shrugged. "I didn't have to win. All I had to do was fight."

The growl came from a black shape that rose like corpse-fungus from among the bodies.

So, doshalo. Here we are. For the last time.

"Perhaps."

The shape smoked with power. More power than Mace had ever felt. And he was so tired. So hurt. The lightsaber wound in his belly radiated pain that scraped away his strength.

The shadow beckoned. Come on, then: jungle rules.

"On the contrary," Mace said slowly. "Jedi rules."

What are Jedi rules'?

"You don't need to know," Mace told him. "You're not a Jedi."

Vibroshields whined to life. I am waiting for you, Jedi of the Windu.

Mace extended a hand, and his lightsaber found it. He stood, waiting.

"You fear to attack me.

"Jedi do not fear," Mace said. "And we do not attack. As long as you stand in peace, so do I. You have just learned two of the Jedi rules. For what little good they will do you. You haven't been paying very close attention, Kar. And it's too late to start now. It's over."

Nothing is over! NOTHING. Not while we both live.

"This is another Jedi rule." Mace took a couple of steps to one side, to find a space of floor where he didn't have to fear tripping over a body. "If you fight a Jedi, you've already lost."

The dark shape came closer. Fine words from a man I've beaten before.

"The starfighters have been ordered off. The city will stand. They've surrendered to the Republic. We have no reason to fight."

Men like us are our own reason.

Mace shook his head. "This isn't a big dog thing. If I must, I will hurt you. Badly."

You can't bluff me.

"No, but I can kill you. Though I would rather not."

More Jedi rules?

Mace sagged. "Do you have a move to make? I'm too tired for this."

Sleep when you're dead, Vastor snarled, and leaped.

Ultrachrome flashed. Mace could have met him, blade to shields, but instead he slipped aside. He had no intention of fighting this man. Not here and now. Not anywhere. Not ever.

Vastor was younger, stronger, faster, and immensely more powerful, and he wielded weapons that could not be harmed by the Jedi blade. Mace couldn't win such a battle on his best day, and this day was far from his best: he was exhausted, badly wounded, and heartsick.

--Taken from Shatterpoint

We find another example of this in the case of Sora Bulq. Bulq was the Jedi Master who along with Mace developed the technique of Vaapad. As told in Republic #72: Trackdown, there came a point during the conflict with the Sith when Jedi Masters Tholme and Sora Bulq traveled to capture Dooku, but they failed in this endeavor. Bulq fell to the dark side subsequent to this defeat at Dooku's hands and served under the Count. If the "superconducting loop" of Vaapad and its quality of absorbing an enemy's darkness and then redirecting that darkness back against them automatically amplified the user's skill and power, then why is it that Sora Bulq, a Vaapad practitioner, wasn't amped against Dooku in the same way Mace was during the latter's duel with Sidious in RotS?

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The answer: Vaapad has limits, which the RotS novelization corroborates in the narration during the Lightning exchange, "This was beyond Vaapad." Mace, or any other user of Vaapad for that matter, cannot initiate a power amplification of the sort he employed against Sidious anytime he wants. To summarize, the power of Vaapad is proportionate to the darkness of the user of Vaapad, because Vaapad controls and weaponizes that darkness to serve the light; by consequence, if the user is inhabited by more darkness, Vaapad becomes more powerful. The only reason Mace could contend with Palpatine's power and speed is because Mace was heartbroken by Anakin's discovery of Darth Sidious' identity and rank in the Republic, making his accumulated darkness comparable to Palpatine's own at the time, and this fed the darkness he poured into Vaapad, allowing him to create an unprecedentedly-potent superconducting loop between himself and Sidious, through which he gathered even more darkness into himself, augmenting his skill and power. Without that, Mace is not nearly as powerful or as fast as he was during that duel. The amplification Mace was surged with against Sidious came from Mace's own unusually-strong darkness and Palpatine's power/darkness, all of which was available to him in that one duel and that one duel only.

Next point: Mace and Palpatine fought as perfect equals. The novel is very clear that Mace, even when his speed and combat efficiency are so strongly intensified and when investing his all into defeating Sidious, is still only an equal with Palpatine in a duel.

Anakin could feel how the Force fed upon the shadow's murderous exaltation; he could feel fury spray into the Force though some poisonous abscess had crested in both their hearts. There was no Jedi restraint here. Mace Windu was cutting loose.

There was a time when Mace Windu had feared the power of the dark; there was a time when he had feared the darkness in himself. But the Clone Wars had given him a gift of understanding: on a world called Haruun Kal, he had faced his darkness and had learned that the power of darkness is not to be feared. He had learned that it is fear that gives the darkness power. He was not afraid. The darkness had no power over him. But—

Neither did he have power over it.

Vaapad made him an open channel, half of a superconducting loop completed by the shadow; they became a standing wave of battle that expanded into every cubic centimeter of the Chancellor's office. There was no scrap of carpet nor shred of chair that might not at any second disintegrate in flares of red or purple; lampstands became brief shields, sliced into segments that whirled through the air; couches became terrain to be climbed for advantage or overleapt in retreat. But there was still only the cycle of power, the endless loop, no wound taken on either side, not even the possibility of fatigue.

Impasse.

--Taken from Revenge of the Sith

This proves that Mace is incontestably not a more technically skilled duelist than Sidious regardless of what some may think.

Which leads us to the next point: If Mace isn't a more skilled duelist, how did he win? Setting aside the foregone conclusion that Palpatine allowed him to win, the novel shows that Windu won by exploiting Palpatine's fear, which caused him to become distracted and slow down. Mace felt fear emanating around the office, which he believed was Palpatine's, and abused it by breaking the window, resulting in Palpatine hesitating when he stood near it for fear of falling down. This allowed Mace to land the blow that disarmed him.

Mace disengaged from the shadow's blade and leapt for the window; he slashed away the transparisteel with a single flourish. His instant's distraction cost him: a dark surge of the Force nearly blew him right out of the gap he had just cut. Only a desperate Force-push of his own altered his path enough that he slammed into a stanchion instead of plunging half a kilometer from the ledge outside. He bounced off and the Force cleared his head and once again he gave himself to Vaapad.

He could feel the end of this battle approaching, and so could the blur of Sith he faced; in the Force, the shadow had become a pulsar of fear. Easily, almost effortlessly, he turned the shadow's fear into a weapon: he angled the battle to bring them both out onto the window ledge. Out in the wind. Out with the lightning. Out on a rain-slicked ledge above a half-kilometer drop. Out where the shadow's fear made it hesitate. Out where the shadow's fear turned some of its Force-powered speed into a Force-powered grip on the slippery permacrete. Out where Mace could flick his blade in one precise arc and slash the shadow's lightsaber in half.

One piece flipped back in through the cut-open window. The other tumbled from opening fingers, bounced on the ledge, and fell through the rain toward the distant alleys below.

--Taken from Revenge of the Sith

So Mace capitalized on the fear. However, the fear he felt was not Palpatine's; it was Anakin's. Before the Council members left the Jedi Temple to arrest Palpatine, Mace felt Anakin's fear in the Force, which was so cumbersome that Anakin couldn't maintain his composure. During his duel with Sidious, Mace also sensed fear and suspected that it was Palpatine's. But once Sidious was bereft of his lightsaber, Palpatine mocked him for thinking that he was afraid, and Mace sensed in the Force that Palpatine was not actually afraid at all.

In the Force, Mace could feel the monster inside Anakin Skywalker, a real monster, too real, one that was eating him alive from the inside out.

Fear.

This was the wound Anakin had taken. This was the hurt that had him shaking and stammering and too weak to stand. Some black fear had hatched like fever wasps inside the young Knight's brain, and it was killing him.

Because he is Mace Windu, within a second the man of sand is stone once more: pure Jedi Master, weighing coldly the risk of facing the last Dark Lord of the Sith without the chosen one—

Against the risk of facing the last Dark Lord of the Sith with a chosen one eaten alive by fear.

And because he is Mace Windu, the choice is no choice at all.

"Anakin, wait in the Council Chamber until we get back."

"For all your power, you are no Jedi. All you are, my lord," Mace said evenly, staring past his blade, "is under arrest."

"Do you see, Anakin? Do you?" Palpatine's voice once again had the broken cadence of a frightened old man's. "Didn't I warn you of the Jedi and their treason?"

"Save your twisted words, my lord. There are no politicians here. The Sith will never regain control of the Republic. It's over. You've lost." Mace leveled his blade. "You lost for the same reason the Sith always lose: defeated by your own fear."

Palpatine lifted his head. His eyes smoked with hate. "Fool," he said. He lifted his arms, his robes of office spreading wide into raptor's wings, his hands hooking into talons.

"Fool!" His voice was a shout of thunder. "Do you think the fear you feel is mine?"

Lighting blasted the clouds above, and lightning blasted from Palpatine's hands, and Mace didn't have time to comprehend what Palpatine was talking about; he had time only to slip back into Vaapad and angle his blade to catch the forking arcs of pure, dazzling hatred that clawed toward him. Because Vaapad is more than a fighting style. It is a state of mind: a channel for darkness. Power passed into him and out again without touching him. And the circuit completed itself: the lightning reflected back to its source. Palpatine staggered, snarling, but the blistering energy that loured from his hands only intensified. He fed the power with his pain.

"Anakin!" Mace called. His voice sounded distant, blurred, as if it came from the bottom of a well. "Anakin, help me! This is your chance!"

He felt Anakin's leap from the office floor to the ledge, felt his approach behind—

And Palpatine was not afraid. Mace could feel it: he wasn't worried at all.

--Taken from Revenge of the Sith

But if Mace won by manipulating Palpatine's fear, how did he win if Palpatine was never afraid in the first place? And why would Palpatine act as if he was genuinely afraid by hesitating and slowing down near the window ledge, especially since doing this is precisely what costed him the duel as it gave Mace the opportunity to disarm him while Palpatine was hesitant? This to me seems like the greatest implication from the book that Palpatine had set it all up. While I suppose there could be varied interpretations on this, I see no reason why Sidious would do this except to purposely lose the duel while constituting the illusion to Mace and Anakin that his loss was real so as to consolidate sympathy from Anakin.

Next: Palpatine could have killed Mace with Lightning at any point. Although we see in the movie that Palpatine seems to burn out when the Lightning he projects at Mace is suspended, and although he confesses weakness, he was faking this to entreat Anakin's help. To answer any objections to the idea that Palpatine held back his powers when he says, "I'm too weak," in the Revenge of the Sith commentary George Lucas filled in that he specifically added Palpatine feigning weakness in the Lightning exchange. Certain Legends sources contain identical accounts, such as that suggested in The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, which says that "Palpatine slumped in the corner, seemingly too weak to continue the lightning assault." Furthermore, a now-inaccessible Homing Beacon article on starwars.com, which included an interview with Lucas about Palpatine's battle with Mace, proposes the same inference: Palpatine discontinued his blasts at Mace under the pretense of being "too weak." This is evident in both the film and all related literary adaptations too, where Palpatine is clearly portrayed as feigning weakness until Anakin's loyalty to him is secured.

"Okay, well, this sequence always started out with Mace overpowering Palpatine, and then Palpatine using his powers to try to destroy Mace, and Mace deflecting his rays with his lightsaber. And it always was that Anakin cut the lightsaber out of his hand. But this part where he pretends to lose his power and be weak was something that I added later, 'cause this is, it moved the point where Anakin turns down to this moment right here, and you can see now, that it's very clear that he's, he, he wants him to go on trial so he can pump him for information about how to get these powers."

--Taken from "Revenge of the Sith" Commentary

Palpatine unleashed a torrent of Sith lightning at the Jedi Master, but Windu was able to deflect it back at the Chancellor. The evil energies twisted Palpatine's face as they flowed through him, scarring and disfiguring his once handsome features. His eyes burned yellow, his voice grew ragged and deep, and he became a well of dark side energies. Palpatine slumped in the corner, seemingly too weak to continue the lightning assault.

--Taken from The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia

So... with this revised duel, if Sidious threw the fight, it places an awful lot of faith on Anakin's timing ...and he suffered a kicked-in face to boot. For what it's worth to those arguing, I doubt there's anyone who thinks Palpatine's serious when he claims he's too weak. That's obviously a lie. But was the fall into the corner that preceded his pleas for help a lie as well?

--Taken from Homing Beacon #139

Moving on from that, according to the novelization, when Sidious started firing Lightning at Mace after losing his lightsaber, he generated so much power with his Lightning that Mace's blade was being contorted. The blade literally bent back toward Mace's face and would've slashed him if Palpatine continued. The book even goes so far to say that Vaapad is of no consequence; he just lacked the power to defend against it, and in both the novel and comic adaptations, Mace tells Anakin that Sidious is overpowering him.

Lightning blasted the clouds above, and lightning blasted from Palpatine's hands, and Mace didn't have time to comprehend what Palpatine was talking about; he had time only to slip back into Vaapad and angle his blade to catch the forking arcs of pure, dazzling hatred that clawed toward him. Because Vaapad is more than a fighting style. It is a state of mind: a channel for darkness. Power passed into him and out again without touching him. And the circuit completed itself: the lightning reflected back to its source.

Palpatine still made no move to defend himself from Skywalker; instead he ramped up the lightning bursting from his hands, bending the fountain of Mace's blade back toward the Korun Master's face.

"You're the chosen one, Anakin," Mace said, his voice going thin with strain. This was beyond Vaapad; he had no strength left to fight against his own blade.

Mace's blade bent so close to his face that he was choking on ozone. "Anakin, he's too strong for me—"

--Taken from Revenge of the Sith

Gallery image 1Gallery image 2

With this, we can conclude that even granting that Mace could beat Palpatine blade to blade, Palpatine could still outmatch him with the Force if he so chooses.

Pertaining to Mace deflecting Force Lightning back onto Palpatine, it's widely believed that Palpatine's deformations stemmed solely from this event, and this is correct according to current Canon. On Darth Sidious' biography gallery on starwars.com, the caption says that the Lightning "forever scarr[ed] his face." However, if Legends/EU sources are being considered, this is at best only partially true. Sidious had studied alchemical practices that adjusted his facial structure and masked his appearance with the face of Palpatine. The Lightning Mace deflected onto him simply revealed the deformed face that was already there, adding some further scarring and deformity but not being the sole cause of it. In the EU, Palpatine's deformities are primarily a consequence of his use of the dark side.

No Caption Provided

Mace cornered Sidious, and the Sith Lord unleashed torrents of dark Force lightning at his opponent, some of which were deflected back at Sidious, forever scarring his face.

--Taken from starwars.com, Darth Sidious Biography Gallery, Image 10 of 24

As often as Plagueis maintained that the Rule of Two had ended with their partnership, the Muun remained the powerful one, and Palpatine the covetous one. Bane’s dictum notwithstanding, denial was still a key factor in Sith training; a key factor in being “broken,” as Plagueis put it—of being shaped by the dark side of the Force. Cruelly, at times, and painfully. But Palpatine was grateful, for the Force had slowly groomed him into a being of dark power and granted him a secret identity, as well. The life he had been leading—as the noble head of House Palpatine, legislator, and most recently ambassador-at-large—was nothing more than the trappings of an alter ego; his wealth, a subterfuge; his handsome face, a mask. In the realm of the Force his thoughts ordered reality, and his dreams prepared the galaxy for monumental change. He was a manifestation of dark purpose, helping to advance the Sith Grand Plan and gradually gaining power over himself so that he might one day—in the words of his Master—be able to gain control over another, then a group of others, then an order, a world, a species, the Republic itself.

--Taken from Darth Plagueis

That warm and human hand gave his shoulder a warm and human squeeze. "I do not fear your power, Anakin, I embrace it. You are the greatest of the Jedi. You can be the greatest of the Sith. I believe that, Anakin. I believe in you. I trust you. I trust you. I trust you."

Anakin looked from the dead hand on the ledge to the living one on his shoulder, then up to the face of the man who stood above him, and what he saw there choked him like an invisible fist crushing his throat. The hand on his shoulder was human. The face...wasn't.

The eyes were a cold and feral yellow, and they gleamed like those of a predator lurking beyond a fringe of firelight; the bone around those feral eyes had swollen and melted and flowed like durasteel spilled from a fusion smelter, and the flesh that blanketed it had gone corpse-gray and coarse as rotten synthplast. Stunned with horror, stunned with revulsion, Anakin could only stare at the creature. At the shadow. Looking into the face of the darkness, he saw his future.

"Now come inside," the darkness said.

After a moment, he did.

Anakin stood just within the office. Motionless. Palpatine examined the damage to his face in a broad expanse of wall mirror. Anakin couldn't tell if his expression might be revulsion, or if this were merely the new shape of his features. Palpatine lifted one tentative hand to the misshapen horror that he now saw in the mirror, then simply shrugged.

"And so the mask becomes the man," he sighed with a hint of philosophical melancholy. "I shall miss the face of Palpatine, I think; but for our purpose, the face of Sidious will serve. Yes, it will serve."

--Taken from Revenge of the Sith

"Always two there are"—not only master and apprentice, but persona and true face. Unmasked by deflected lightning during his duel with Mace Windu, the Sith Lord's true face is revealed to the world.

Palpatine affected the simple clothing of a simple man, but drew his powers of persuasion and control from the blackest depths of the dark side of the Force. While the Force has twisted his face, it has also sustained him beyond his years, and even in his old age the Emperor remains a figure of terrible power.

--Taken from The Complete Visual Dictionary

The Emperor was as scheming ruler, planning events far in the future, using the Force to foresee the results. So powerful in the Force was he that the very essence of the dark side ravaged his form.

--Taken from The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia

Last fact: Yoda is a more accomplished duelist than Mace and a more powerful master of the Force. Nick Gillard, who was designated by Lucas to choreograph the duels in the movies and conversed with Lucas about character abilities, has stated twice that Yoda is superior to Mace with a blade. The first was in the Episode II: Action Featurette, the second in an Episode II production archive.

"We've not seen Mace fight yet, and we know that he's second only to Yoda."

"Mace Windu's fighting abilities are second only to Yoda."

--Taken from starwars.com, Teacher of the Masters

In various Legends sources, Yoda is decorated as the most formidable swordsman on the Jedi Council and very possibly the most skilled swordsman in the Jedi Order's history.

Though it was true that he had slowed slightly in the years that Mace Windu had known him, Yoda's skill with a lightsaber was still second to none on the council.

--Taken from Darth Maul Shadow Hunter

To the uninitiated, lightsaber combat can seem like a confusing blur of swipes and blade clashes, but on close examination, the secrets of the Jedi Knights become clear. To understand the combat of these warriors, we must delve into the sacred history of the fabled Seven Forms of Jedi lightsaber combat and look at how these have played out in the Star Wars saga. Only then can we understand the extraordinary combat moves of Yoda, perhaps the greatest lightsaber master the Jedi Order has ever seen.

--Taken from Insider #62

Yoda has also beaten Mace in combat before.

Master Windu was also known within the Order for his unusual fighting style, one that he developed after studying the dueling styles of various lightsaber masters. His attacks consisted of relentless, unpredictable blows, like shots from an autoblaster. Master Windu himself remained perfectly balanced and centered. In the history of the Jedi Order, only two opponents ever overcame him in battle. One was Master Yoda, who some said was the Order's true master of lightsaber combat. The other was former Master Dooku, whose own fighting style was archaic, yet stunningly effective.

--Taken from Power of the Jedi Sourcebook

Concerning power, based on Legends sources, Yoda is considered along with Mace to be the most powerful Jedi Master in the Order's history as of The Phantom Menace and the most powerful practitioner of the light side as of Revenge of the Sith. In Canon, as far as the RotS novelization is concerned, Yoda alone is named the most powerful enemy of the dark in history, and the article "10 Best Fights" on SW's website esteems Yoda and Sidious as "arguably the most powerful beings in the galaxy."

Along with Mace Windu, a senior member of the Jedi Council, Yoda was the most respected and most powerful member of the Jedi Order. His views held sway with the other members of the Council, who respected his deep insight into the ways of the Force.

Along with Mace Windu, with whom he served on the Jedi Council, Yoda was the most respected and most powerful Master ever to have walked the corridors of the Jedi Temple.

--Taken from The Official Star Wars Fact File #11

This truth: that he, the avatar of light, Supreme Master of the Jedi Order, the fiercest, most implacable, most devastatingly powerful foe the darkness had ever known...

--Taken from Revenge of the Sith

Inside the spacious interior of the Galactic Senate chamber, Yoda challenged the Emperor. The two engaged in a spectacular duel—a contest between the most powerful practitioners of the Force’s light and dark sides.

--Taken from The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia

Battle of the ultimate Masters. That’s what this fight is, as it moves from precise lightsaber combat to an awesome back and forth display of Force wizardry. The Emperor revels in unleashing his power, gleefully tossing Senate pods at the Jedi Master and cackling as he blasts his “little green friend” with Force lightning; Yoda is calm and determined, able to evade the attacks and absorb Sidious’ dark side powers. As a meeting between arguably the two most powerful beings in the galaxy, this battle does not disappoint. And it reinforces what we learn in Return of the Jedi, which is that the Emperor wants to fight, as the fight is where he thrives — Yoda learns this the hard way. While he holds his own with the Sith Lord, even the ancient Jedi cannot outright defeat him.

--Taken from starwars.com, "10 Best Fights"

I bring this up because in spite of facing an opponent who is factually more powerful and more skillful than Mace, Sidious stalemated or at most defeated Yoda in their clash, depending on which sources you consult. Against Yoda, Sidious brought all of his powers to bear and proved himself to be Yoda's peer with the Force, something he should by all accounts be capable of against Windu as well. By itself, Palpatine's relative equality with Yoda respective of the Force would be confirmation of nothing, but in concert with the previous point, that Palpatine could've overpowered Mace with Lightning according to the RotS novelization, this affirms that Sidious' powers exceed those of Windu's.

It came when the avatar of light resolved into the lineage of the Jedi; when the lineage of the Jedi refined into one single Jedi. It came when Yoda found himself alone against the dark.

In that lightning-speared tornado of feet and fists and blades and bashing machines, his vision finally pierced the darkness that had clouded the Force. Finally, he saw the truth.

This truth: that he, the avatar of light, Supreme Master of the Jedi Order, the fiercest, most implacable, most devastatingly powerful foe the darkness had ever known...

just—

didn't—

have it.

He'd never had it. He had lost before he started. He had lost before he was born.

--Taken from Revenge of the Sith

No Caption Provided

Yoda confronted Sidious in the heart of the Senate chambers. This erupted into an intense duel between these masters of the Force, a fight that Yoda ultimately lost and was forced to flee.

--Taken from starwars.com, Yoda Biography Gallery, Image 13 of 18

No Caption Provided

Master Yoda made a last-ditch attempt to stop him, and their fight spilled over into the now-empty Senate rotunda. Darth Sidious overwhelmed Yoda with the destructive energies of the dark side, and the Jedi Master fled Coruscant.

--Taken from starwars.com, Darth Sidious Biography Gallery, Image 12 of 24

No Caption Provided

Yoda is eventually outmatched by Sidious. Beaten, Yoda retreats into a maintenance tunnel and is rescued by Bail Organa.

--Taken from starwars.com, Revenge of the Sith Story Gallery, Image 45 of 53

No Caption Provided

Yoda escaped Order 66 and returned to Coruscant in an effort to stop Sidious. The Jedi Master and the Sith Lord dueled in the Senate chamber, but Sidious was too strong for Yoda to defeat. The ancient Jedi was forced to flee, going into exile deep in the Outer Rim.

--Taken from starwars.com, Coruscant History Gallery, Image 39 of 41

All of these points are validated by several canonical sources. Whether Mace non-circumstantially beat Palpatine or not, these points cannot be overlooked.

To refute an argument frequently lauded to disregard the supposition that Sidious let Mace win the duel, it's sometimes assumed that Palpatine's fearful sense of self-preservation would prevent him from enacting plans that necessarily risk injury or death, and so he would never purposely lose to Mace because there would be fatal repercussions if his plan failed. In view of Palpatine's standard propensities for converting someone to the dark side, this contention is unfounded in the films alone, to say nothing of the EU. Earlier in the plot of Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine orchestrated the Battle of Coruscant where he himself was captured by General Grievous and Count Dooku; this was of course a stage piece laid out to persuade Anakin to loose his restraints, kill Dooku, and usurp Dooku as the Sith candidate. However, this whole scheme was replete with risk; not only was Palpatine "detained" in the Invisible Hand, which was a military capital ship under Republic fire, but after suffering many functional losses, Anakin miraculously landed the only half of the vessel still intact with many of the Hand's primary functions inoperable. Fast-forwarding to Return of the Jedi, the Emperor provoked Luke to recall his lightsaber and attack him; Palpatine himself was unarmed and never even raised a hand to defend himself, instead electing to have Vader parry Luke's swing.

In both cases, Palpatine places an extraordinary amount of faith in Anakin's/Vader's allegiance to him, and in both cases, that trust was rewarded with its desired result. But more to the point, as I already substantiated earlier, Sidious did in fact pretend to be beaten and weak after his face was marred by his Lightning. Doesn't that also entail some measure of risk? Supposing Anakin chose not to side with him, Palpatine would then have to face Mace's blade unarmed, which is just as dangerous as letting Mace disarm him in a duel.

This facet of Palpatine's trust in Anakin is explicitly discussed in the RotS novel. When Mace and Sidious were battling one another, Mace searched for a shatterpoint in hopes of defeating Sidious. What he found in the Force was Palpatine's trust in Anakin, the Chosen One. Mace, not realizing that Anakin would be subverted to Palpatine's side, believed that this confidence was misplaced and that Anakin would side with the Jedi. Obviously he was mistaken, and Anakin ended up cutting off Mace's hand and was christened a Sith Lord. However as it turned out, Mace was correct in thinking that Anakin was the shatterpoint of the Sith; after all, he was the Chosen One who destroyed them in Return of the Jedi and restored the Force's balance. Unfortunately, Mace didn't realize that Anakin would serve the Sith first. But the fact of the matter is, in many instances including in Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine's strategies often place him in life-threatening situations and his survival in the midst of these plans depends almost exclusively on his confidence in Anakin.

Which might have gone on forever, if Vaapad were Mace's only gift. The fighting was effortless for him now; he let his body handle it without the intervention of his mind. While his blade spun and crackled, while his feet slid and his weight shifted and his shoulders turned in precise curves of their own direction, his mind slid along the circuit of dark power, tracing it back to its limitless source. Feeling for its shatterpoint. He found a knot of fault lines in the shadow's future; he chose the largest fracture and followed it back to the here and the now—

And it led him, astonishingly, to a man standing frozen in the slashed-open doorway. Mace had no need to look; the presence in the Force was familiar, and was as uplifting as sunlight breaking through a thunderhead. The chosen one was here.

"Anakin!" Mace called. His voice sounded distant, blurred, as if it came from the bottom of a well. "Anakin, help me! This is your chance!"

He felt Anakin's leap from the office floor to the ledge, felt his approach behind—

And Palpatine was not afraid. Mace could feel it: he wasn't worried at all.

"Destroy this traitor," the Chancellor said, his voice raised aver the howl of writhing energy that joined his hands to Mace's blade. "This was never an arrest. It's an assassination!"

That was when Mace finally understood. He had it. The key to final victory. Palpatine's shatterpoint. The absolute shatterpoint of the Sith. The shatterpoint of the dark side itself. Mace thought, blankly astonished, Palpatine trusts Anakin Skywalker...

Now Anakin was at Mace's shoulder. Palpatine still made no move to defend himself from Skywalker; instead he ramped up the lightning bursting from his hands, bending the fountain of Mace's blade back toward the Korun Master's face.

Palpatine's eyes glowed with power, casting a yellow glare that burned back the rain from around them. "He is a traitor, Anakin. Destroy him."

"You're the chosen one, Anakin," Mace said, his voice going thin with strain. This was beyond Vaapad; he had no strength left to fight against his own blade. "Take him. It's your destiny."

"I need him alive!" Skywalker shouted. "I need him to save Padme!"

Mace thought blankly, Why? And moved his lightsaber toward the fallen Chancellor. Before he could follow through on his stroke, a sudden arc of blue plasma sheared through his wrist and his hand tumbled away with his lightsaber still in it and Palpatine roared back to his feet and lightning speared from the Sith Lord's hands and without his blade to catch it, the power of Palpatine's hate struck him full-on.

He had been so intent on Palpatine's shatterpoint that he'd never thought to look for Anakin's. Dark lightning blasted away his universe. He fell forever.

Another hand, a warm and human hand, laid itself softly on his shoulder. "You're following your destiny, Anakin," said a familiar gentle voice. "The Jedi are traitors. You saved the Republic from their treachery. You can see that, can't you?"

"You were right," Anakin heard himself saying. "Why didn't I know?"

"You couldn't have. They cloaked themselves in deception, my boy. Because they feared your power, they could never trust you."

Anakin stared at the hand, but he no longer saw it. "Obi-Wan—Obi-Wan trusts me..."

"Not enough to tell you of their plot."

Treason echoed in his memory.

...this is not an assignment for the record...

That warm and human hand gave his shoulder a warm and human squeeze. "I do not fear your power, Anakin, I embrace it. You are the greatest of the Jedi. You can be the greatest of the Sith. I believe that, Anakin. I believe in you. I trust you. I trust you. I trust you."

--Taken from Revenge of the Sith

As it stands, even without citing Legends stories, Palpatine has exhibited a disregard for risks of personal danger if he is confident in the success of his plans, especially where Anakin is concerned. Therefore, the opinion that Palpatine staged his loss to Mace can't be discounted on the grounds that Palpatine's sense of safety precludes him from putting himself in danger; he has done exactly that more than once and did exactly that after the Lightning deflection from Windu.

Two misconceptions I feel I should address is Lucas' remarks on the fight, one being the aforementioned comment from the Revenge of the Sith commentary and the other from The Making of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Here is Lucas' first statement:

"Okay, well, this sequence always started out with Mace overpowering Palpatine, and then Palpatine using his powers to try to destroy Mace, and Mace deflecting his rays with his lightsaber. And it always was that Anakin cut the lightsaber out of his hand. But this part where he pretends to lose his power and be weak was something that I added later, 'cause this is, it moved the point where Anakin turns down to this moment right here, and you can see now, that it's very clear that he's, he, he wants him to go on trial so he can pump him for information about how to get these powers."

--Taken from the Revenge of the Sith commentary

If you fail to pay attention to context, this sounds like Lucas said that Mace in fact did defeat Palpatine. However, you need to notice the comment as a whole. These statements were recorded over the scene where Palpatine begins blasting Lightning at Mace. Lucas starts off by offering a description on a certain scene, but then he moves on to tell how he fitted details in with one another and revised the whole sequence. But this is the distinction: he describes a sequence of events as the viewer sees them at first, giving a brief background on what sequence in particular he is talking about, but then his focus shifts from what the audience sees to what the characters' intentions are and what they experience and think.

The initial comment about Mace overpowering Palpatine only addresses what we as the audience see on-screen and what Lucas' original draft for the scene was; it does not disclose character mindsets, intentions, or motivations that he added later. Only the second half of Lucas' statement deals with those character-driven factors by pointing out that he adjusted the scene for Palpatine to feign weakness as he fired Lightning at Mace to force Anakin into a decision, which also overwrites Lucas' initial note that Palpatine intended to kill Mace with Lightning; instead, this quote actually confirms that Sidious did in fact feign weakness during his Lightning assault. So from the context of simply a perceivable sequence, no, this does not constitute proof that Lucas stated that Palpatine was not holding back, and from the context of a sequence that was changed, no, this does not constitute proof that Lucas stated that Palpatine meant to kill Mace with Lightning. The fact is, Mace did overpower Palpatine; that has never been in dispute. We see that on-screen. What is in dispute is whether or not Palpatine planned for Mace to overpower him, and Lucas' commentary here does nothing to settle that dispute.

The other input from Lucas I should cover is the following:

The actors rehearse their dressing gowns and then adjourn for final costume adjustments, while Lucas and Knoll continue to examine the footage. When Palpatine easily strikes down Mace's three associate Jedi at the outset of the scene, Knoll says, "Look at this—Mace brought the B-team!"

"You have to be either Mace or Yoda to compete with the Emperor," Lucas says. "If Anakin hadn't got all beat-up, he could've beat the Emperor."

--Taken from The Making of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Typically, what is gathered from this quote is that Mace under his normal power can contend with Sidious with no contextual details or circumstantial factors influencing the duel. This is fair, but given the various circumstances prevailing the duel as derived from the RotS novelization, let me offer another point of view. All Lucas says is that either Yoda or Mace are required to oppose Sidious on anything resembling even terms. He doesn't say anything else than that. The novelization of RotS very plainly advocates the idea that Mace's fighting abilities were demonstrably upgraded on account of the very specific circumstances preceding and during the duel. With that said, let me ask this question: Does Lucas' statement refute what the novel narrates? Not at all. You do have to be either Mace or Yoda to compete with the Emperor, because only Yoda possesses the intrinsic power to match him and only Mace possesses a mastery of Vaapad that could weaponize a trauma and darkness of the kind that Windu was subjected to.

In Legends and Canon, Mace was the only true master of Vaapad still remaining and therefore the only one who could be consumed by it so thoroughly as to be able to challenge Sidious; additionally, Mace is the second most powerful Jedi in the Order at the time of TPM according to Fact Files. The other blademasters that accompanied Mace failed to even react to Palpatine when the latter chose to exercise his speed, and Yoda was convinced that Obi-Wan was not strong enough to challenge the Emperor. Only Yoda could stand his ground against him under his own power. Mace could definitely outperform the other Council members and potentially hold his own for a time, and provided he derived skill from a circumstantial resource related to Vaapad's attributes, he can arguably battle Palpatine to a stalemate or possibly beat him. Therefore, Mace could compete with the Emperor, as Lucas said.

Lucas' statement that "You have to be either Mace or Yoda to compete with the Emperor" is no less true just because Mace had to be temporarily amped by a unique application of Vaapad to match Sidious' blade; only Mace could have exploited the power amplification that was available to him. No other Jedi in the Order knew Vaapad, no other Jedi in the Order had a battle-useful darkness in them that would assist them against a Sith Lord, and Yoda and Mace are two of the most powerful Jedi in the Order, only Anakin possibly rivaling them. Hence, only Mace and Yoda can compete with the Emperor, and Lucas' statement is not incompatible with the novelization's account of the event.

To end the question of Lucas' opinion on the matter, here is a source, the Homing Beacon editorials from the official starwars.com, where Lucas himself leaves the matter open to debate, and this article also more corroborates what I said above about the context of Lucas' statements in the RotS commentary. This article gives hints to both translations of this duel, lending credence to the opinion that Palpatine held back during the duel based on Lucas' original intent for the filming of the scene and also lending credence to the opinion that Mace won legitimately based on Anakin's timing, but ultimately, this archive presents neither view as the final word. In the text of the Homing Beacon's interview with Lucas, it says that "he's not telling." Therefore, it can no longer accurately be said that Lucas decided that Mace is the true victor without outside factors; the Homing Beacon article disproves that assertion because Lucas withheld a definitive answer. Thus, this topic is still subject to dispute and still has no authoritative statement to one side or another and by extension cannot be dismissed on the grounds that Lucas supposedly distinguished Mace as the winner. Based on the Homing Beacon article, he didn't. The only opinion of Lucas' that concerns this debate is that it is a debate and is open to interpretation. Nothing more, nothing less.

It's one of the fieriest debates of online fan forums: when Palpatine was cornered in his office's giant window-frame, was he really overpowered by Mace? Or was he faking to lure Anakin? Could Mace really have gotten the upper hand on the Sith Lord?

George Lucas is the ultimate keeper of the true answer, and he's not telling... yet, anyway. If you had asked me in the Summer of '03, when the sequence was first shot, I would have had a solid answer. But, if you asked me in the Fall of '04, when the sequence was re-shot, well... for those who want to debate, it's best to know more of the story of how this scene came to be.

This entire sequence changed significantly during postproduction. What we witnessed in Sydney told a different story. Anakin did not earn Mace's trust by ratting out Sidious right away. He did not agonize over his decisions while sitting alone in the Jedi Council chamber. He did not rush in at the last minute to witness a questionable balance of power. Instead, he stayed at Palpatine's side, in the Chancellor's private office, as Mace and his posse of Jedi barged in.

So... with this revised duel, if Sidious threw the fight, it places an awful lot of faith on Anakin's timing ...and he suffered a kicked-in face to boot. For what it's worth to those arguing, I doubt there's anyone who thinks Palpatine's serious when he claims he's too weak. That's obviously a lie. But was the fall into the corner that preceded his pleas for help a lie as well?

--Taken from Homing Beacon #139

Additionally, there are three pages on starwars.com that all neglect to confirm the legitimacy Mace's victory in the saber duel. The first is the article "10 Best Fights," which points out that the conclusion of the duel is debatable. The second is Mace Windu's databank entry, which says that Mace "seemed" to defeat Sidious, not necessarily did. And the third is Mace Windu's biography gallery, which includes an image saying that Mace "appeared" to defeat Sidious. In Legends, the novel Death Star by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry also mentions the possibility that the entire duel was staged. Therefore, recognizing that we have these altogether canon sources as well as the Homing Beacon article where Lucas refuses to inform us whether Sidious lost intentionally or not, this entire sequence is subject to viewer interpretation without any definite facts closing the debate.

The ending continues to be debated; Windu seemingly has Sidious beaten, unarmed and cowering. But was this all planned to get Anakin to come to his defense?

--Taken from starwars.com, "10 Best Fights"

Mace seemed to defeat Sidious and raised his lightsaber to strike down the Sith Lord, but a desperate Anakin ignited his own weapon and severed Mace’s forearm.

--Taken from starwars.com, Mace Windu Databank

No Caption Provided

Mace prevailed and appeared to defeat Sidious. Anakin begged Mace to spare the cornered Sith Lord's life, fearing that without Sidious's knowledge he would be unable to save Padme Amidala. But Mace countered that Sidious already controlled the Senate and the courts and was too dangerous to be left alive. He raised his saber to strike Sidious down.

--Taken from starwars.com, Mace Windu Biography Gallery, Image 31 of 32

A last point respective to the duel itself, in the EU's direct sequel novel to Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine muses that all of his plans for leading Anakin to the dark side had been successful and "without incident." This is mentioned immediately subsequent to a paragraph discussing the transference of the Emperor's art collection from his holding office and the deaths of the four Jedi who fought him in that office. Anakin aiding Palpatine in the holding office, choosing Palpatine over the Jedi, was one of the most crucial moments in his fall. It's very possible this indicates that Palpatine had set the entire incident up, but this is not conclusive as it never specifies when or what plans that led to Anakin's proselytization, only that the plans succeeded.

Darth Sidious had had most of his beloved Sith statues and ancient bas-reliefs removed from his ruined chambers in the Senate Office Building, where four Jedi had lost their lives and one had been converted to the dark side. Relocated to the throne room, the statues had been placed on the dais, the sculptures mounted on the long walls. Swiveling his throne, Sidious gazed at them now.

As some Jedi had feared from the start, Anakin had been ripe for conversion when Qui-Gon Jinn had first brought him to the Temple, and for well over a decade all of Sidious's plans for the boy had unfolded without incident.

--Taken from Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader

Having gone through all of this, I think my opinion is obvious: I believe Sidious allowed Mace to win to persuade Anakin to help him. In my opinion, the events are too convenient.

  • In the film, Palpatine communicates with Anakin through the Force while Anakin is in the Council Chamber, goading him to come to the chancellor's office just prior to his confrontation with the Council members by telling him that if he dies, the knowledge Anakin needs to preserve Padme's life would be lost.
  • In the novel, Palpatine sets up a recording device in the holding office which he alters to make it sound as if he was the victim of an attempt at assassination and governmental overthrow.
  • In the novel, Palpatine senses the approach of all the Jedi and notes that it is good that Windu, Kolar, Tiin, and Fisto are coming, just as it is good that Anakin's confusion and agony is good.
  • In SW.com's commentary, Palpatine fights faster than any of the Jedi can react, including Mace, and in all mediums that show this fight, Mace is unable to defend the other Council members.
  • In the novel, Mace won by exploiting a fear in Palpatine that never existed in him at all.
  • In all representations of this fight, Palpatine pretends to be overpowered after Mace deflects his Lightning at him, only to resume full strength once Anakin betrays Mace.

I could also list minute details, like Palpatine's virtual disuse of his offensive Force powers until he lost his lightsaber, but those are much more negligible points in my opinion and hardly reinforce one side or another definitively. In Mace's defense, the RotS novel states that Palpatine sent a Force push at Mace that nearly launched him out the window, which suggests Palpatine may have wanted to kill him from the outset.

By and large, all available sources lead me to believe that Palpatine restricted himself purposefully in order to apprentice Anakin. If you disagree, I can understand and have no complaint with that. This is only my opinion, not a fact. Do I believe this is a credible and logical assessment of the occurrences? Obviously, or else I wouldn't believe them. But the fact is that there is no fact on this. Even though it would be nice to have an official confirmation on this duel one way or another, I don't believe we will ever really know without a doubt who won the duel, since it may or may not ever be stated in any canon source or by anyone from Lucas Licensing; all available sources from SW media, including George Lucas and starwars.com, have chosen not to state with any certainty what really happened during Mace's duel with Sidious, leaving us to make up our own minds. But we can draw a reasonable conclusion from it, and this is mine. However, simply because we have no irrefutable fact on whether Sidious lost on purpose or not, we do still have to acknowledge the facts we do have that surround that ambiguity, such as the facts I covered above. The fact is that even if Mace did win legitimately without Sidious intending that outcome, it speaks nothing of Mace's standard abilities because of the amplification he received for that one duel, a resource he does not have access to under normal circumstances.

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