Title: Falling From The Light
Main Characters: Anakin/Padmé/Obi-Wan/Bant/Luke/Leia/Han/OC
Secondary Characters: OCs/Qui-Gon
Summary: The sequel to "Slipping Into Darkness." Palpatine knew that Anakin might defeat him, so he left something behind which may not only destroy the Chosen One, but his family as well.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of Star Wars, as cool as it would be if I did. Everything belongs to the Flannelled One. I do, however, own the OCs. They are mine, mine, all mine! (notices the strange looks she is receiving) I mean, (clears throat) They belong to me. (blush)
A/N: Here is the next part. Originally there was going to be another section included in this update, but it got rather long so I decided to break the post up. I already have about four pages of the next chapter written, and I am inspired, so Lord willing the next update should be up soon.
Many thanks to my incredible beta Darth Mom for her encouragement and incredible beta skills.
And thank you everyone for your kind welcome back and your well wishes. :) Enjoy!
Falling From The Light
It had been hours since she had reported her failure to Lord Sidious, but the Sith woman could still feel the weight of her Master's warning residing within her chest. It was not enough to restrict her pulse, but with every beat of her heart, it served as a reminder her of her failure.
She would not fail again. She would carry out her Master's orders, and serve him as was her purpose. Yet, in order to succeed, she would have to understand what had lead to her failure in the first place, and for that, she had to seek the guidance of the Force.
In the depths of the Dark Side where she now meditated, the blackness was absolute, and tides of energy washed over her like the waves of a violent sea. She had long been immersed in its currents, simply allowing them to carry her where they wished.
The faint glow which emanated from the corridor couldn't penetrate the darkness now shrouding her mind, and she had long since ceased to be aware of the room in which she knelt, the small cell that still held the remains of her stasis chamber. Instead, her gaze was turned inward, the Force drawing her into the distant reaches of her earliest memory.
She stood in the plains of her mind, the barren desert landscape appearing as it had before her Master had shaped it. The terrain was vast and untouched, and a dark blue sky stretched far overhead.
This was her world, the only one she knew. She had not been aware long, but she understood in a vague way that a world existed outside of hers. Her Master had told her that she was not yet ready to be a part of it, but he had begun teaching her, showing her what lay beyond.
The last time he had entered her mind, he had shown her his home world. Through him, she had seen the incredible water falls found there, the blue lakes, the green, rich valleys, and the flowers. Flowers… Something so small and simple, yet so complicated. She wished that she could see one for herself, not simply an image projected from her Master's mind. Perhaps someday…
Her thoughts ended abruptly as she sensed something. Distantly she recognized it as her Master. Knowing what would come next, she knelt, bowing deeply as she had been taught. She didn't move, even as she felt her Master's presence building like a dark, ominous cloud on the horizon. She could feel him searching through her mind, sifting through every thought. She didn't try to fight him. He did this often, and she knew that she could not stop him, for as her Master, it was his right.
She felt him pause as he came to her thoughts of just moments ago, the thoughts he had interrupted with his arrival.
"Child," he began, his form appearing before her, "I see you were reflecting on my last lesson."
"Yes, Master," she answered.
"And you wish to see for yourself what I have taught you? You desire it?"
"I do, Master," she answered.
She felt his power shift suddenly, growing in its intensity, and confusion flooded her. She had never felt anything like this before, but she knew he was displeased. The dark shadow that always seemed to follow him had suddenly overtaken the sky above her, all light vanishing in its wake.
The landscape before her became lost in that darkness, and at once, her mental form was no longer simply bowing to the great Sith Lord, but doubled over with a terrible sensation she could not name. It was not pain, she knew, for her Master had told her she had been created without the ability to feel such a physical weakness.
But, she thought, perhaps this was worse, for it was somehow deeper and more intense than what she imagined pain to be. It was as though something were writhing and twisting within her, devouring her from the inside out. She felt something slipping away and tried to hold onto it, but it was ripped from her grasp by the power her Master now wielded against her.
Attempting to focus her now scattered thoughts, she tried to call out to her Master. He sensed her call, and suddenly she was seeing through his eyes, watching as he used his incredible command of the Force to chip away at the ties that bound her to the world of the living. She watched as he slowly, methodically carved away at her connection to life, until only a thread remained. Somewhere in the farthest corners of her mind, she was aware of the sound of her heart struggling to beat, her lungs gasping for air.
She thought that her Master was simply going to end her life, but instead, he paused mid-strike, the still remaining, thin thread held precariously in his hands.
"Child," her Master said, his voice echoing in the very depths of her being, "Always remember this above all else: You are nothing. You exist only because I allow it. Your life is mine to do with as I wish. Your only desire shall be to carry out my will, my will, and nothing else."
With that, she felt life suddenly returning to her, and as the landscape of her mind reappeared, the shadow finally withdrew. She could feel her heart resume beating in its normal rhythm, and breath coming to her lungs once more.
Her Master's form appeared before her.
"Do you understand?" he asked simply.
Her Master's words reverberated through her mind once again: "…Your only desire will be to carry out my will, my will, and nothing else."
That was why her Master had been angry, she realized. She had desired something she had no right to, wished for something that would never be hers. But now, she understood her place. She was only a servant. She had never been, nor would she ever be, anything more than that. Her Master's will was all that mattered.
At that moment, in a way she could not explain, she felt something deep within her break. She bowed her head.
"I understand. Forgive me, Master."
The Sith Lord's lips twisted into a smile.
"Of course, child."
At the words her Master had spoken so long ago, the memory ended, the images fading as the currents of Dark Side energy washed over her once again. Slowly, the Force released its hold on her, allowing her mind to return to full awareness The Sith woman opened her eyes, her black irises indiscernible from the darkness around her.
Her gaze swept her surroundings. This was a place she knew better than any other, the place her Master had given her long ago when he had chosen it for her creation. It was here that she had spent many years of her existence, and here that she meditated, since she was not worthy to use her Master's meditation chambers.
Her stasis chamber still stood in the center of the small space, the power cables and wires remaining suspended from the ceiling. Darkened monitors sat untouched nearby, though they had long since ceased to function. The glass she had shattered when she had woken had never been repaired and the crystal shards still littered the floor. It was this room that had replaced the plains of her mind, this room which was her world now.
It was at this thought that she paused, understanding dawning.
Skywalker and his family were not so limited in their knowledge, in their experience. They had lived their lives within the galaxy, and they knew many things she did not. That was why the Force had shown her a vision of her past, to remind her of who she was, and to show her that the Chosen One had an advantage she had not considered.
To defeat Skywalker, she would need to understand, and remove that advantage; she would have to gather more knowledge.
But how should she go about it? Her Master had taught her all that she now knew, and she didn't doubt that his wisdom extended far beyond the lessons he had given her. Yet, there was also a chance that her Master's Holocron, with its limited abilities, did not contain the information she needed, and even if it did, she was not certain which knowledge she lacked.
However, there was someone who had intimate knowledge of both the galaxy and the Skywalker family: The Chosen One's daughter. The Sith woman had seen inside her mind when she had torn through the barriers that existed there. Her only intention had been to cause pain as her Master had ordered, but a few images and thoughts had slipped beneath the woman's own shields. She had paid no attention to them at the time, believing them unimportant, but now those images resurfaced within her.
Yes, Skywalker's daughter would be able to provide the information she needed.
Rising to her feet, broken glass crushed beneath her boots, she turned and left her chambers, walking swiftly in the direction of the girl's cell.
It was cold, the stone floor not offering any warmth, but Leia hardly noticed. Instead, she sat motionless her eyes closed, her legs crossed, her posture relaxed. She had been this way for hours, trying to meditate. She had hoped, even without the Force, that this would somehow give her some peace, but the grief she felt each time she thought of her father was still too raw and intense. If anything, meditating had only made things worse, because it brought back memories.
She remembered when she had been a little girl, how she had hated having to sit still for any longer than was absolutely necessary. It was a trait she had inherited from her father, and though she had usually been able to conceal it from her teachers, he had always known when she was too restless to meditate.
Her father had taken her to help him work on his star fighter then, teaching her "moving meditation," instead. Luke would come too, and they would work for hours, talking about anything and everything. By the time they were done Leia had always felt relaxed.
Or, sometimes her father would sit and meditate with her, guiding her deeply into the Force, showing her how to walk the paths found there. With him by her side, she had always felt much more centered, and as she had grown older, she had learned to love meditating and did it as often as she could, hoping to someday touch the Force the way her father was able to.
But now, every time she opened her eyes she kept expecting her father to be there, smiling at her, only to see her empty cell. It was a terrible reminder that her father wasn't there… and might never be again.
Tears welled in her eyes, but she blinked them away. He wasn't gone yet, she reminded herself, and she would not mourn. She wasn't going to give up hope. She just wished that she could be there for her family. She had seen her mother's expression when their father had fallen, and she knew she would never forget it. And Luke, she could only imagine what her brother must be feeling…
Leia paused, her thoughts interrupted as a sound reached her ears…footsteps. She wondered briefly if it was Darris, or perhaps one of the other servants she had seen when she had been brought back to her cell, but as she listened she realized that the smooth, even cadence could only belong to one person: the Sith woman.
Leia tensed and rose to her feet, her hand automatically going to reach for the saber which usually hung at her side. A thousand questions flooded her mind. What could the Sith want? Had she decided to simply kill them, rather than allowing their father to be revived? Leia knew the only reason the Sith woman had agreed to Darris's plan in the first place was because she had been unable to fulfill Sidious's orders. What if now, she had changed her mind?
If that were the case, Leia wasn't going to simply give in. She doubted there was much she could do, but she if she were going to die, she would die as a Jedi, as a Skywalker.
A moment later, as though her thoughts had somehow been heard, the Sith woman stepped in front of Leia's cell, her black cloak seeming a mere extension of the darkened corridor in which she stood.
Leia raised her chin in response, her posture defiant, unconsciously echoing the stance she had seen her mother use when facing a difficult opponent in the senate. She met the Sith woman's gaze squarely. Sidious's servant didn't react, but instead simply stood there studying Leia intently, her blank expression unreadable.
"Have you come to kill me?" Leia asked when the silence remained unbroken.
The woman still did not answer.
"Are you here to boast, then? Is that it?" Leia continued. "You've come to gloat about your great victory over my father?" She kept her voice hard and even, but she could not help the slight waver that entered it when she spoke those last words. Yet, she pushed those emotions aside, and continued, determination edging her tone. "You may believe that you have won, but you haven't," she said fiercely. "Even if you defeat my family, there will be others. You will be stopped. The Sith will never rule the galaxy."
As she finished speaking, Leia braced herself. Surely the Sith woman would not react well to her captive's perceived insolence, and she remembered all too well the sensation of the woman tearing through the barriers in her mind. But instead of the wrath Leia had expected, the Sith woman simply remained silent, her black fathomless gaze boring into Leia's own.
Leia nearly jumped as the Sith woman finally spoke.
"Why?" she echoed in confusion, uncertain as to what the woman was asking.
"Why did you father sacrifice himself for your brother?"
Leia didn't answer immediately, caught completely off guard by the question. It wasn't something she would ever have expected the woman to ask. Was she trying to trick her in some way?
The Sith woman seemed to sense her hesitation.
"Your father should have conserved his strength to attack me," she continued. "If he had, and had defeated me, you and the rest of your family would have been spared. The boy should have been an acceptable loss. Yet, he chose to save him, forfeiting his own life in the process. Why?"
Confusion flooded Leia. She was still wary that the woman might be deceiving her somehow, but she finally answered, uncertainty reflected in her voice.
"My father saved him, because Luke is his son and he loved…" she stumbled slightly when she realized she had spoken in the past tense, "and he loves him," she corrected.
There is still a chance, she reminded herself.
The Sith woman tilted her head in puzzlement, a slight frown marring her features.
"But love is weak," she answered, as though stating an indisputable fact.
This had to be some sort of trick, Leia thought, her bewilderment growing with each moment. The woman had to be baiting her somehow, had to be trying to lure her into some sort of trap.
The question seemed so simple on the surface, but it couldn't be… could it?
Hoping that perhaps she could find some sort of answer, she studied the woman before her. Her expression was still nearly blank, and something about the way she held herself brought to mind a predator. But as she stood there now, Leia couldn't help but be reminded of the younglings at the Temple. The confused expression she wore was identical to the ones Leia had seen from the children in the crèche, when the Masters were explaining something they didn't understand. Leia tried to see malice there, the hidden motives and cruelty she expected, but found none.
The Sith woman simply remained silent, as if waiting for an answer.
Leia was baffled. This didn't make sense. This woman was a Sith, the embodiment of the evil that existed within the galaxy.
Leia remembered the many stories her father and Obi-Wan had told her about them, and the suffering they had caused for so many in the galaxy, and for her own family. She remembered the sadness she had seen in Obi-Wan's eyes as he spoke about his Master's death, and the way her father's mechanical hand had clenched as he spoke about Count Dooku and the Sith disciple, Ventress. She remembered the terrible pain she had sensed from her father when he had explained his vision, and the battle he had fought with Sidious.
The Sith destroyed families, and reduced worlds to rubble without so much as a thought for the lives they shattered. They killed and betrayed without mercy, concerned only that their actions served to further their goals. And worse, they reveled in the agony they caused, gloried in their victim's grief.
Yet, in the Sith woman… she could see only her confusion, perhaps even curiosity.
The words Darris had spoken as he'd walked her to the throne room rose unbidden in Leia's mind: "She could have been so much more, if only he had let her…"
Leia hadn't understood what he'd meant at the time, but now, she couldn't help but wonder… What could she have been? And, could it be that there was still a chance for the Sith woman to become something else?
An idea rose in her mind, and Leia tried to dismiss it. The image of her father's death played again before her eyes. How could she try to help the one who had killed him? But, something in the depths of her being told her that if the Sith woman could change, then it might be her only chance to save her family.
Considering her answer carefully, her voice even, Leia finally responded to the Sith woman's earlier declaration.
"If love is weak," Leia asked, "Then why was my father able to defeat your Master?"
The woman didn't reply, but Leia could see that the question had affected her. Her frown had deepened, and her eyes glittered with something Leia couldn't recognize.
Without a word, the Sith woman turned, and stepped back into the shadows.
(waves hand) You will review! (waves hand again) The submit review button on the lower left is the option you are looking for. Once you have reviewed, you can go about your business. Move along. ;)