My Master. My life. Everything I have, everything I am is wrapped up in you, even my Jedi strength that is supposed to be unaffected in matters like this. But my strength comes from you, Master.

The Council is wrong in thinking that they could ever force another Knight to take me. No one wants me, that I know. In their eyes, I'm still dangerous. They don't know what you did, Master, about what I am and what I could become. You were the only one who ever wanted to know me.

Of course, that's your job, isn't it? To know me. But maybe they're right. Maybe I am dangerous.

I don't know now. But if you die, I will be.

I saw everything, Master, and now I know that it's my fault that you're lying here, more dead than alive. A single sentence, a single word, was all it would have taken, and I, like a fool, kept my mouth shut. I would make excuses, I would say I didn't know what she was doing, but if I made the same excuses after something like this happened to someone else, you would frown and tell me to listen to the Force.

Oh, Master, if you survive, I swear I will listen to everything you say and hold it in the highest regard. Then maybe I would finally be the kind of Jedi that you want me to be. Then maybe I will know when someone is trying to murder my Master.

I'm going to kill her. I'm going to let her die slowly, hour by hour, day by day. I'm going to force her own vile poison down her throat and watch her choke as it slides into her stomach, burning its way down. And I'm going to watch as she dies with much more pain than you have now, because she won't have anything to make the dying any less torturous. It'll be just me and her, and I'll smash the painkiller on the ground in her sight. She's going to suffer, and I'm going to make sure it's prolonged and terrible.

These aren't thoughts of a Jedi. But tonight, I don't think that's what I am. I'm not a Jedi, at least for right now—I'm a son whose father is dying.

My mom is dead, Master. I can't lose the only father I've ever had.

Master, I can't bear it. You're too still, too silent. Even when you didn't speak a word, you were always talking to me, even if it was just a simple gesture. You're not talking to me now—I don't know if you'll ever talk to me again. And I need you, Master. If there's one thing I've learned from everything that you tried to teach me over the years, it's that no one else could have taken a Tatooine slave boy and turned him into a Jedi. No one else could have been my Master, or could ever be.

If you die, I'm leaving the Order.

Maybe it's not what you would have wanted, but it's what I'll do. It took you ten years to learn to control me and love me at the same time. Another Master could never do that, and I could never care for them and still respect and obey them as I do you.

Not that I obey all the time, but you're lucky to get even that, Master. It's interesting, how when my master was Watto, I didn't dare disobey and was always striving to make whatever I did perfect. Now, when I actually love my Master, for the most part I obey only when I feel like it.

I wish I could bribe death. I wish that I could promise to obey everything you tell me, or to become a great Jedi Knight for you, or just to pay more attention when someone slips something into your drink…and that if I agreed, death would take my price and let you stay with me. I'm afraid of dying, Master, but if death would agree to take me rather than you, I would do it wholeheartedly. Maybe things would be different if it wasn't my fault that you're in the infirmary, hovering on the edge of life, but it is. No matter what I do, it will never be enough unless you can return to life as it was before.

But not for my sake, Master—for yours.

I hear a timid knock through the thick door, but I ignore it. A healer wouldn't bother to knock, and I don't want anyone else in here. But the knock comes again, and this time I reluctantly call for them to come in.

Padme steps carefully through the door, an anxious expression on her face. Every time before that I've seen her, I always feel a little bit happier, a tiny bit more whole. But now I feel nothing. Not annoyance, not love—nothing. All emotions pale and die in comparison to the worry that weighs down on me, a crushing cloud of desperation.

"Any change?" she asks quietly. I shake my head. Padme doesn't question further; she knows that if there were any difference in his life signals, I would be the first to see it. Sitting here, by his bed, I can see everything—his heartbeat, temperature, blood flow—laid out on flat electronic screens. It's been nineteen hours, and every single number on those screens, down to the decimals, has remained eerily the same. It's almost as though he's hanging in suspended animation, frozen in time.

My exhaustion, though I can't feel it, must show on my face, because Padme gently lays her hand on my arm.

"Are you all right?" she asks. I brusquely shake her off without a word, and Padme steps back. Can't she see that I don't matter? Obi-Wan's dying—I could go without sleep for weeks, my only sustenence the knowledge that I have to stay with him.

"Anakin, you can't help him by being here," Padme says softly. She's worried about me, and I hate that.

"If he dies, I killed him," I reply numbly. She doesn't say anything, then turns and walks back to the door. I watch her go, relieved that I can be alone with my Master again—and then, I hear a soft beeping noise coming from the monitor behind me.

I don't turn my head right away. I just close my eyes, afraid of what I'll see when I look at him. I couldn't see him dead without breaking down, without losing my mind. But Padme whirls and runs to the bedside, and I know that I can't ignore it any longer.

Obi-Wan's face is pale, so pale that for a split second, I wonder who this white stranger is that they put in my Master's place. Blood pounds in my ears as I look at the blinking numbers on the screen. His body temperature has fallen drastically—I instinctively touch his hand, and feel the icy waxiness of a corpse.

A healer enters swiftly and gently pushes me aside, feeling for Obi-Wan's pulse. It's there, I know, beating through the skin that's as cold as death itself. But it only throbs once every ten seconds or so.

Before the healer tells me, I know: the poison has reached his heart. Unless they find an antidote within a few days, my Master will not survive.

If that witch had stabbed me in the chest, she couldn't have hurt me more.

I shut my eyes tightly, forcing the sudden tears back. I've spent too long anticipating this moment to try to deny it. But my mind has gone blank. I try to organize my thoughts, but they have blurred into each other, and I can't separate them.

Opening my eyes, I abruptly move toward the door. Padme's voice, as if from a great distance, behind me, is calling my name, but I pretend not to hear it, and it's barely even a lie. My steps are quick and even, heavy footsteps on the sanitized floors, as I head straight for the door to the infirmary. It's no longer a place of healing—to me, it's become a place of death.

There's no doubt in my mind where I have to go. Obi-Wan's going to die; I have no faith in the healer's abilities to find an antidote in three days when they have been searching for years. So she will pay.

Unlike most assassins and bounty hunters, cocky and overconfident, she didn't tell me her name. Her only words were well chosen, burning themselves into my mind as she had known they would.

"The Hunter has caught her prey."

That's all Obi-Wan was to her: prey. An animal to be lulled into a false sense of security, trapped, and then killed.

Even as I stared at her, horrified, she laughed at the expression of fear on my face. She wouldn't have known what it was like to lose someone you love. She couldn't have known. I clench my fists in anger as I realize how helpless I must have looked, not even trying to catch her, just watching as my Master's murderer disappeared into the darkness. But maybe that's for the best—she won't realize how powerful my anger is. She won't think to watch for me.

But she should. Because some night, when she's least expecting it, I will kill her.

No, I don't have her name. I have something better. You can keep a Jedi from your body, but only a strong Force-sensitive could keep a Jedi from their mind. Before she left, I caught a fleeting image of the place that she'll be next.

She's going to the Hapes Cluster, and I will find her there.

There aren't any guards at the hangar—no one thinks a Jedi Padawan would be going anywhere without clearance. Normally, I could spend hours picking out the perfect ship, but now I know exactly what I'm looking for. All I need is something fast.

She's smart. She wouldn't waste time in getting to her next job. I've lost nineteen hours, and I can't afford to lose any more. But time itself is on my side. In killing my Master, she unwittingly liberated me from any Jedi obligations I might have had. I could spend years tracking her down—and I will, if necessary.

Just before I take off, I close my eyes, hoping that, just this once, I might be able to get through to Obi-Wan. But there's not even a wall. There's just a blank, as there had been constantly since the attack. There's more poison in his body than there is Obi-Wan.

And I vow, with everything that I am, that I will destroy her.

I will hunt the Hunter.

I will murder the murderer.

If it takes me the rest of my life.