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Dooku of Serenno walked along the shore of an alien sea, alone. He had established his new headquarters here, and in an hour he would be back in the camp, surrounded by advisers, droids, servants, sycophants, engineers, and officers, all vying for his time, all presenting their schemes and stratagems, sucking like bees on the nectar of his power. Possibly Asajj Ventress, his protegee, would be there, clamoring to be made his apprentice. He had a meeting scheduled with the formidable General Grievous, who was even more powerful than Ventress, but a great deal less interesting as a dinner-table conversationalist. And of course at any time his Master might summon.

What are we? On the surface of the bay, water heaped and rolled, landing with a white crash to run hissing up the cold sand. What are we, think you, Dooku? The sea foamed up around his boots and then withdrew, leaving an empty shell half buried in the sand. Dooku picked it up. He had a sudden vivid memory of doing this back on Serenno when he was still a tiny boy, before the Jedi ever came. He could remember the smell of the sea, the thin salty mud trickling from the shell as he held it to his ear: and in this memory something wonderful had happened, something magical that filled him with delight, only he could not now recall what it had been.

He shook the shell to dry it, and held it up to his ear. An old man's ear, now: that child he had been had lived long ago. He felt his heartbeat speed up, as if-absurd thought-he might hear something in the shell, something terribly important. But either the shell was different, or the sea, or something inside him was broken beyond repair. All he heard was the thin hiss of wind and wave, and beneath it all the dull echoing thud of his heart. In the end, what we are is:
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