Summary: Speculation on the Episode III duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin/Vader.

__________________

The usual disclaimers apply. George Lucas owns it all; I am not making any money on this.

__________________

Authors Note: This was just one of those evil plot bunnies that wouldn't let me write anything else until I completed it. This tale is purely my own fantasy and it should take about a week to play out.

________________

Broken

With every fall of worn boots, dust and small pieces of debris were sent skipping across the broken stone floor. Deep mahogany material brushed lightly against the brown leather as the silent figure paused before continuing his journey through the crumbling remains of one of Theed's great buildings.

Not even the gentle breeze that swirled in through the collapsed ceiling like the currents of the ever-flowing Force could soften the sound of footfalls.

A mournful cry of a kaari bird in the distance, weeping for its lost grasslands and poisoned springs cut into the strange pall that dominated chamber.

The gray floor rose up in a gentle crescendo before reaching a precipice that ran the length of the main hangar. Obi-Wan Kenobi stopped at the edge, staring down at the more than a meter drop. His exhaustion-dulled thoughts wondered what kind of firepower it took to shatter the floor and bedrock below.

A small frown slipped across the care worn Jedi's face. The truth was he knew exactly what kind of power it took. More times than he wished, he had witness the might of the Grand Army of the Republic, nee the newly christened Imperial Navy.

Turning toward the red tinged Naboo sky, the Jedi welcomed the warmth of the yellow light that filtered through the dust-clogged air. Watery blue eyes crinkled at the edges as he watched tender wisps of smoke move like ominous clouds overhead.

Bits of rubble tumbled over the diminutive cliff as the Jedi took a step closer to the edge. His calm gaze lightly scanned the crumbling walls of the hangar. A whiff of acrid air caught his senses and impelled Obi-Wan to stifle a cough.

Burying his hands in the billowing folds of his cloak sleeves, he continued his silent inspection of the hangar. The waterfall entrance had collapsed under the assault. It had been a miracle that the cliff face itself had not torn away. Glancing back over his shoulder, he noted the burned out remains of the only starfighter left in the hangar. Just a touch of the goldenrod yellow remained at the back edge of the crushed ship.

The rest of the starfighters had fallen in battle; their scattered remains littered the blackened countryside. The combined efforts of the Naboo and Gungan armies could do little against the might of the Imperial troops that stormed across the planet leaving a swath of destruction in their path. Those few that had survived the attack came away with little more than their lives.

The suddenness of so many lives lost left a psychic scar planet wide, the horror still fresh in the Force. The unseen tides slammed into the Jedi, the agony of a million voices suddenly crying out in terror. Not even the most intricately woven of mental shielding could protect the Jedi from the onslaught. Not that it mattered to Obi-Wan. Naboo's devastation was not enough to drown out his own anguish.

The wounds of his heart remained for no salve could heal them.

Reddish-brown of his cloak fluttered as he leapt down onto the sunken section of floor. Dust stirred upon a muted landing.

Maintaining his inspection of the chamber, the Jedi continued on his journey toward the palace entrance until a patch of white caught his eye.

Obi-Wan approached the object, which was coated completely in a yellowy mixture of cinder and stone, save for a small area that gleamed perfectly white as if beckoning to him. Answering the silent summons, he used the toe of his boot to clear a small area in front of the waiting object before kneeling.

Battle worn fingers grasped the bottom edge of a discarded helmet. Gripping the cool surface he roughly pulled it from the rubble and turned it over in his hands. With his sleeve, he wiped the face clean revealing the emotionless mask of a Clonetrooper.

Fingers tightening over the scratched surface until his knuckles paled but just as quickly as the brush of anger had exerted itself, it was released into the Force.

Caressing the edge of his cloak over the black eye slits, he wondered how this soldier had met his end. Only a few meters away, the Jedi spied the helmet of a palace guard lying upside down. Returning his focus to the Clonetrooper mask he felt the cold spike of memory. The foreboding that had been there on his journey to Kamino and the first time he had laid eyes upon the clone army came back to him only to be lost amongst the turmoil of the war between the Republic and the Separatists.

Whatever idealism Obi-Wan had possessed in the beginning of the Clone War had been vanquished by strife. He, like the other Jedi, mere tools in solidifying Palpatine's power only to be destroyed when they no longer served a purpose in his grand scheme for galactic domination.

Shaking his head, the Jedi wondered how he could have been so blind.

Offering a bitter laugh, he discarded the helmet with care, leaving it nestled among the debris.

He had been blind of so many things.

Rising to his feet with feline grace, the Jedi paused to tug at the frayed edges of his cloak and noted the singed material just above his left elbow, the remnant of a blaster bolt that had been far too precise.

Or not precise enough, he mused.

The strain of the past months wore heavily on Obi-Wan's face in the deep lines at the edge of his eyes to the somber expression he was unable to cast aside. It shown in the number of silvery wisps that had crept into his ginger strands over the last few years.

Fingers brushed back salted locks as he heaved a labored sigh but it did little to lighten his troubled spirit. With every passing day, the bindings that imprisoned his soul grew more difficult to bear. Soon, he was certain, the weight would crush him.

A small noise–the sound of rock over stone–drew Obi-Wan's attention and he turned as if expecting to greet someone, anyone.

Instead of a friendly face, he was met with the unrelenting glare of two bent, orange doors left sitting ajar. Taken in by the shear power of the scene, it left him unable to find the strength to pull away.

A lifetime had gone by since he had passed through the towering gateways with his master in pursuit of the tattooed Sith lord. In his memories, he saw the doors, whole and unbroken, slide open revealing the dark figure.

Swept up in a dream, the weary Jedi trekked across the broken floor.

We will handle this.

The protective folds of his cloak slipped from his shoulders and dropped without mercy onto the powder-covered floor. There was no hesitation in his movements as he strode the remaining distance.

The first time he had passed through the doorway, his world had been ripped apart and his life forever lain upon a path not of his choosing.

Could he take it all back by passing through once more?

Could he take back all of the lives lost do to his actions and mistakes by facing the darkness?