This is a non-profit work of fan-fiction based upon the Star Wars films. All related characters, places, and events, belong to George Lucas, and are used without permission. This story, and all original content, belongs to the author, © 2005.
Spoiler warning! Inspired by a certain scene in Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith. (5/22/05 - Revised ever so slightly after a second viewing of the movie.)
Adrenaline surged through his body, strengthening his posture. He could feel the dark energy filling his limbs, even the ghost arm which no longer had a connection to the Force. Even as Anakin fed off this intoxicating black power, he could feel a sliver of pain deep within his chest. Regret, for the path he'd chosen. Guilt, for the pain he caused. For a moment, he almost slowed his thunderous charge into the Jedi Temple. He could still turn back. He could fall at the Council's feet and beg forgiveness. He could right the wrong by killing Palpatine... and then... then he could stand by and watch his beloved wife die in childbirth.
He would not allow himself to feel remorse or sorrow or guilt. What he did, he did for her sake. For their child's sake. He would not let her die. He did this... all of this, for Padmé.
His cloak billowed behind him as he crashed through the Temple door. An unsuspecting Jedi gaped at him, and quickly lost his life. Three more ran up, their lightsabers illuminating their consternation and fear, bathing their expressions in a wash of colors – green, yellow, and white. Did he know these men? Had he fought side by side with them against the Separatists' droid armies? No matter, they must face their fates, even as he faced his own. Even fighting together, no Jedi could hope to beat Anakin Skywalker. He left a trail of smoldering bodies behind as he ascended further into the Jedi Temple.
Once a place of sacred instruction and noble teachings, the Temple now posed as a tomb for all Jedi within. There would be no escape from the cold blue flash of his lightsaber, or the precise targeting of the clone troopers which followed in his wake. Anakin could feel the confusion spreading through the building, as his fellow Knights picked up on the emergency unfolding. But no – no longer could he claim any kinship with the Jedi. He forsook that privilege the moment he protected Palpatine from Mace Windu's justice.
How could he give up so easily that which he'd striven so hard to attain? Never would he forget the pride which engulfed him as Master Yoda declared him a padawan no longer and severed the narrow braid from his hair, or the proud look on Obi Wan's face when they faced each other as brothers, no longer master and apprentice.
For her. For love. For Padmé.
Another level. Another group of bodies. Another pang of distress quickly submerged into the deepest part of his consciousness. He could not feel, he could not mourn. He could only act, repeating her name like a mantra to shield him from his own actions.
He strode into the teaching sector, his eyes scanned the rows of desks and computer terminals with unfeeling efficiency. No signs of life. He allowed his lightsaber to extinguish, so that it might have a chance to cool down and recharge. Onward he moved, like an unstoppable cloud of death.
There! Movement. His hand twitched at the lightsaber's controls, but a small child stepped out from the shadows of the council chamber.
"Master Skywalker!" The boy looked up at him with the wide eyes of hero worship, much the same way Anakin had once gazed at Qui Gon, and Obi Wan. At his belt hung a miniature lightsaber, meant only for training, not powerful enough to even cut a sheet of paper. Behind him, several other small heads popped up from where they'd been hiding. Younglings, children training to be Jedi. Not one of them looked older than eight years old, the smallest perhaps only four. All of them appeared scared, though their fears eased considerably at the sight of someone they knew and trusted – the tall young man they knew as the Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker.
"Master Skywalker," the little boy repeated boldly. "What are we going to do? There are so many of them!"
The seasoned clone troopers did not distinguish between warrior and civilian, adult and child. If they reached this level, they would shoot down every last child, just the same as they would a battalion of armored soldiers or droids.
The youngling gazed at Anakin with such hope, such trust.
It wasn't too late...
He could still make things right.
Anakin closed his eyes, ever so briefly. The image of the boy standing before him burned itself onto his eyelids. So much like himself at that age... so much like his own son might be... if Padmé lived to bear him.
Lord Vader opened his eyes. His lightsaber hissed.