Echoes of Light

An alternate ending to Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

By Mithostwen

:ii:

Disclaimer: This is only my interpretation of George Lucas' movie (with an alternate ending). The characters, worlds, etc are not mine, so I've tried to keep them as true to Lucas' characters as possible. If you have any complaints in that area, please tell me. Gracias.

:ii:

I want nothing to do with you anymore. If you're smart, you'll walk away right now.

But he knew Obi-Wan. He knew that wasn't going to happen.

His back deliberately turned toward his former Master, the flames that consumed Mustafar met the full wrath of Vader's glare instead. If it had been a staring contest, the Sith Lord would have won. The rumbling inferno of the volcanic world was only an insignificant echo of the one inside him. That one actually meant something.

Anakin was virtually shaking with rage as he stood there, impossibly still, running over and over the facts that could not be his reality.

They both betrayed me!

Two people he had counted among his closest friends for most of his life…

If it wasn't for the furnace of his rage, his heart would have been locked in bitter, impenetrable ice.

Obi-Wan had clearly come here with the intention of killing him, though he didn't say as much. And only because it was his duty as a Jedi. Anakin would have spat the words if he had spoken them aloud. He had never shared his Master's blind devotion to the Jedi doctrines, but now he hated him for it. How did stupid Jedi philosophy trump years and years of friendship? How could Obi-Wan do this to him? If his old mentor had let go of the rules just once, had done what was right instead of what the Council wanted, things would be so different now. Anakin tried to believe the influence of the other Masters was the only reason Obi-Wan had gone along with the ridiculous plan to take over the Republic; the reason he had not only hidden all of this from Anakin but asked him to betray the Supreme Chancellor, the only one of his friends who wasn't now stabbing him in the back.

But he couldn't quite convince himself that was the truth.

Anakin had long suspected his Master of holding him back, of not trusting him, as the Council clearly always had. Painful as it was, this was only confirmation of doubts he'd had for years. It was hardly a surprise.

Padmé turning on him though… nothing in the universe could ever have prepared him for that. The only possible conclusion was that it was Obi-Wan's fault. He had never threatened her in any way. The truth was exactly the opposite: Anakin had done all of this for her! He did things he would never have done otherwise, all to gain the strength he needed to save her from death. He loved Padmé with all his heart, and she knew it. She was supposed to be standing by his side after he threw down his new "Master". They were supposed to rule the galaxy together, as he had been trying to explain when Obi-Wan showed up ruined everything.

The only part he still didn't understand was what possessed Padmé to bring Obi-Wan here. He had gathered enough from his conversation with her to know that she wasn't oblivious to what the Jedi Master was up to. It sounded as if he had come right out and told her that Anakin had to be stopped! What could Obi-Wan have said that would convince her to help bring about her husband's death?

Anakin couldn't imagine, and he didn't particularly want to. He needed to focus on making sure they failed, not understanding how Jedi could brainwash good people. And it was made worse by the knowledge that they had been brainwashing him too, ever since the age of nine. It was a wonder he was able to break free of their snare of lies before it was too late.

"I will do what I must," he heard Obi-Wan's familiar voice saying.

That's all you ever do, Anakin fumed silently, every muscle in his back tensing.

The familiar snap-hiss of a lightsaber's emitter erupted through the other background noise, proving just how much the Jedi meant what he'd said.

So this was the end.

Up until now, he hadn't truly decided he was going to kill Obi-Wan, clinging to a pathetic shadow of a hope that he wouldn't have to. But that was no longer a choice that held much appeal. His "friend" had not only deceived him and turned the love of his life against him, but intended to kill him. What right did Obi-Wan think he had, bringing Anakin's entire life crashing down around his ears? Lord Vader's fingers itched for the handgrip of his lightsaber.

Suddenly he was looking forward to this.

"You will try," he shot back, gathering the Force for a back flip that would carry him within range.

Then everything was a bright red-orange blur as he catapulted backwards, activating his own lightsaber in midair. It met Obi-Wan's with a crash, and the duel was on.

He let his full fury loose on the Jedi Master, not even bothering or needing to aim, borrowing speed from the Force until his eyes could hardly keep up with the two whirling blurs that were their sky-colored blades. Obi-Wan parried every time, retreating slowly backward, but as usual he was being excessively careful. His blade didn't move any farther than it had to in order to block Anakin's every stroke, and he spun and twisted so much that the Sith Lord would have had trouble hitting him even if he hadn't diverted his attacks.

But in the end, Obi-Wan's considerable skill and effort hardly made a difference. He had allowed Anakin to drive him all the way to the edge of the landing platform. Just one more step backwards and Obi-Wan would be plummeting into the lava... He was so close, if he could just end it now…

But Obi-Wan found an opportunity to spin off to his left, and kept pivoting until Anakin was between him and his death. Frustrated and unaccustomed to such a challenge, the Sith Lord decided it was time to modify his strategy a little.

He kicked Obi-Wan in the chest hard enough to send him catapulting backwards, though the Force turned it into a controlled flip. Obi-Wan landed with relatively good balance, a lot more distance between himself and Anakin, and, most unfortunately, another escape route.

Anakin had sent him flying straight toward the open bunker doors.

He didn't even have to wonder if Obi-Wan would retreat inside. It never crossed his mind to be uncertain. Obi-Wan was Obi-Wan. That was what he did.

Though, arguably, it was the perfect strategy to counter Anakin's brutally fierce offense, so he shouldn't have been surprised. No one standing their ground or trying to advance was going to live more than a few minutes in a duel against the Chosen One. In fact, anyone but Obi-Wan would surely be dead by now. As far as Anakin could tell, there were only two reasons he had lasted this long: his obsession with the defense-oriented Soresu style, and his thousands of hours of sparring practice with Anakin. That combination could almost be considered cheating.

Except that it wasn't that same old Anakin that Obi-Wan was facing this time; it was Darth Vader. Vader knew all Anakin's little tricks, yes, but his fighting style was a lot less restrained. Vader's one purpose right now was to kill this double-crossing Jedi, and somehow, somehow find a way to save Padmé once he did.
Anakin redoubled his attack. He was getting exceptionally good at channeling his hatred for his opponent into strength. He had, after all, had a lot of practice along the way. The Tuskens, Dooku, Gunray… anyone who tried to take away someone or something he loved. They were evil. He hated them beyond words, and that more than included his former Master.

As Anakin lashed out at Obi-Wan again, his face twisted in wordless rage that would have sent a rancor scurrying for cover.

His unsuitably Jedi-colored blade was a deadly pin-wheeling blur, and Obi-Wan had to work harder to keep up, but neither of them was so much as scratched yet. Anakin supposed that he should be impressed, but all he felt was the sickening hate that drove his need for revenge, revenge that was entirely justified.

I would have let you live. You just didn't want to understand, did you? None of you did. Call me the "Chosen One" and treat me like an insubordinate Padawan. Put me on the Council and deliberately ignore my advice. Lie to me and then ask me to lie to a friend for you. Not in this millennium.

The erratic rhythm of crackling lightsaber clashes sped up as Anakin's rage built. Obi-Wan was making the occasional attack of his own, but Anakin indisputably directed the battle. The only way he could have attacked more quickly was to have multiple lightsabers, and that wasn't worth the changes he'd have to make to his fighting style. This was the way Anakin fought best: one on one, no rules.

He pushed away the nagging voice in the back of his mind that reminded him that wasn't entirely true. He and Obi-Wan had always worked better as a team than either of them alone. At least until Obi-Wan destroyed their friendship with his stupid "loyalty" to the Jedi Order. Obi-Wan didn't understand loyalty. He just used the fact that Anakin did to his own advantage.

This conviction became the fury behind his next overhead chop. When Obi-Wan blocked it and sent his blade spinning away yet again, it was as if he was taunting Anakin with the very fact that he was still alive. Alive because Anakin had defied orders, even abandoned entire missions, to come rushing to his rescue. That was what loyalty meant: willingness to do anything for your friends.

How many times have I saved your life? How can that mean nothing to you?

Obi-Wan spun again, skirting the very edge of his range. Anakin noticed, with a twinge of pride, that Obi-Wan was at least wary of him if not downright afraid. Anakin was stronger than he was, and he finally saw it, finally admitted it, as so many Jedi Masters had refused to do.

"... You are strong and wise, Anakin. I am very proud of you. I have trained you since you were a small child, and you have become a far greater Jedi than I could ever hope to be." A smile. A hand on Anakin's shoulder. A dip of his head, and then Obi-Wan turned to board the shuttle that would take him to Utapau…

He crushed the memory in a mental fist. Fine. So Obi-Wan had recognized his abilities before. Why then did he think he could defeat Anakin now? Was he the only Jedi left in the whole galaxy? The only being alive who thought he might stand a chance?

And was that really the last time they had spoken as friends?

Obi-Wan's whirring lightsaber brought Anakin back to the present, and he blocked it behind his back as he side-stepped and turned, getting at a better angle to counter. Obi-Wan spun out of range yet again. Anakin followed, pivoting as he stepped forward, ready to strike again, until—

What was he—?

Their backs collided, and both lost their balance for a moment, mentally as well as physically. Anakin recovered first, and slashed sideways at the Jedi Master, hoping he might finally catch him off guard.

No such luck. If there had been such a thing, of course. The Force had undoubtedly warned him just in time.

Obi-Wan staggered backwards, but blocked his assault easily enough. An increasingly irked Anakin was forced to follow him into the next room as he retreated yet again, through a hallway that was just a little too narrow for their spinning blades and ended up showering them with yellow sparks.

Anakin couldn't have minded less. Maybe the traitor would catch on fire—that would save him all this trouble. Of course, wishing was a pointless use of his focus. If he wanted this tedious fight to end sometime today, he needed to concentrate on Obi-Wan.

The Jedi Master spun, and ducked, and swept Anakin's blade away again and again. He just couldn't seem to hit him, no matter what he tried, and Anakin was trying every trick he knew. The only problem was that, not by coincidence, this was also every trick Obi-Wan knew. It was impossible. It was worse than impossible. It was like fighting himself.

"Palpatine was right. I should have just left you to die back on the Invisible Hand."

He didn't realize that he had spoken the words aloud until Obi-Wan gave him a pained look and answered.

"Please tell me you weren't his apprentice even then."

He blocked Anakin's next attack as if he was still engrossed in the duel, but his attention was obviously on the conversation.

"No, of course not," Anakin said, even as he continued to rain blow after blow on him. "Now it's your turn. Were you planning to overthrow him even during that rescue mission?"

"What? Anakin—"

The Sith Lord grimaced. That was the tone that preceded every lecture he had ever gotten from Obi-Wan.

"Save it. I'm not your apprentice anymore. It's time you got used to it."

Another twinge of hurt crossed his Master's – no, old Master's – face. Anakin found that he was beginning to enjoy it.

"I have failed you, Anakin," he admitted slowly, nodding, for all appearances meaning every word. And Anakin, of all people, would know. "I have failed you."

He wasn't sure what that was supposed to mean, and now wasn't the time to figure it out, either. So Obi-Wan was finally admitting the truth. The words might be sincere, but they were meaningless with Obi-Wan still bent on killing him. It was a little too late for saying sorry.

Anakin rushed him while he was still waiting for his reply. The Jedi leapt backwards onto the huge conference table that dominated the room, and Anakin was forced, once again, to follow or lose his advantage.

The instant his feet landed solidly on the smooth surface, he faked a wild spinning slice to the left. And Obi-Wan actually fell for it! Anakin physically seized him by the throat, bending him back until he was practically upside down. All he had to do was keep squeezing, and keep Obi-Wan's lightsaber hand out of the way…

A strangled rasp escaped Obi-Wan's throat as he gasped in vain for breath. He stared up helplessly at his ex-best friend, but he wouldn't be finding any mercy in those ice-blue eyes. Regret that it had to come to this, maybe, but that was the Jedi's own fault. If he was going to try to kill him, Anakin was perfectly willing to see to it that he never got the chance.

"Ugh!"

His booted foot sent Anakin flying forward over his head, losing his grip on Obi-Wan's throat and landing hard on his shoulder. He hardly noticed the pain though, in his sudden panic.

He had lost his lightsaber.

There was at least one thing Obi-Wan had managed to drill into his head so completely that he couldn't have forgotten it if his mind was wiped: "This weapon is your life!"

Anakin scrambled to his feet, fully expecting fatal, white-hot pain to end his existence at any instant. He didn't even waste time with a sigh of relief when he saw that Obi-Wan was still reeling from being starved of oxygen and not thinking of attack.

Anakin lunged forward, centered his balance only a heartbeat later, and pulled off a perfect place-kick. His boots slammed solidly into Obi-Wan's stomach, and even though he landed hard on his hip, he didn't care. He had hurt Obi-Wan more. As he regained his footing, Anakin's eyes followed the blue blur that was Obi-Wan's blade as it spun across the room and landed with a clatter. Now they were even again.

This weapon is your life, Obi-Wan! Ha. See how you like it.

Anakin dove at him again, but he met Obi-Wan's flying knee in mid-air instead. His back slammed into the plasteel tabletop with a sharp thud. The impact jolted his head, and all he saw was white light for an instant, but he wasn't too dazed to notice Obi-Wan calling his lightsaber back to his hand. Anakin reached out desperately toward his own, and it smacked into his palm and ignited an instant before Obi-Wan's killing blow would have been just that. The Jedi continued to force the crossed blades down toward him, until they were almost scorching Anakin's face. He forced aching arm muscles to hold, every ounce of hatred plainly written on his face as he fought to remain living a few seconds longer.

Obi-Wan tore his lightsaber away first, and Anakin seized this unexpected chance. He sent a surge of the Force at the Jedi Master; just enough to knock him off the table and buy himself time to get up.

Thoroughly satisfied with the change of the tide, Anakin got to his feet and leapt off the tabletop to reengage. He landed with perfect balance and a firm grip on the Force. He was more than ready to end this, and the reluctant determination on his old Master's face told him the decision was mutual.

Finally, no more games.

Obi-Wan stood his ground this time as Anakin pelted him with everything he had. The Jedi Master didn't make a single attack of his own, but he blocked every blow like he had meant to put his blade in that spot all along. Anakin wasn't even coming close to hitting him anymore. Unlike the droids they had often faced, he was familiar enough with Obi-Wan's "impenetrable wall" act to know that the best strategy was to stop trying to hit him. Instead, Anakin tried to throw him off by spinning his lightsaber over his wrist in a bent figure eight, off to his back and right, then left, right, and left again.

It took a couple of seconds for Anakin to notice what Obi-Wan had started doing in the meantime.

Oh, seriously, this is sad.

Obi-Wan had begun that same exact flourish at the same exact instant, mirroring him perfectly. Their identically colored blades flashed brighter as they crashed together yet again. Anakin could tell Obi-Wan hadn't been intentionally blocking that time. If they hadn't chosen attacks that overlapped, they could both have been in pieces right now.

Stop reading my mind, he wanted to shout, even though he knew the Jedi was doing no such thing. What more could he do? Maybe while Obi-Wan was focused on their weapons, he could try…

Anakin's free hand shot forward with snakelike speed, accompanied with a blast of the Force.

When his hand got there, Obi-Wan's open palm was already only inches away. He could feel the explosive energy of their opposing, simultaneous Force-pushes, and it was getting difficult to hold. As it slipped out of his control, all he could do was glare daggers at the man who had been like a father to him for so many years, and wait to see which of them would end up flying off his feet.

And suddenly Obi-Wan shrunk from inches away to the entire room away. Anakin's back slammed into a very solid wall-sized monitor, and as he got up off of the controls, a frantic beeping sounded. He didn't bother to look at the warning on the screen; he could feel the energy shields surrounding the bunker shutting down.

Great, he thought sarcastically. Soon it would be raining lava inside.

Obi-Wan had crashed into one of the consoles on the opposite side of the room, in a disturbing replay of what Dooku had done to him back on Grievous' ship. Two quick bounds assisted by the Force brought Anakin into attack range again. Obi-Wan blocked once before springing away, and—

"No!"

Anakin stopped short so suddenly that he swayed, but didn't dare look behind him. He didn't need to anyway; even if he hadn't recognized her voice, he would have known from Obi-Wan's reaction who it was.

:ii:

Pain was the first thing Padmé's dazed mind registered.

Physical pain was the easier one to understand; she was lying on a hard stone floor with no memory of falling. Falling… the word was nudging at something in the back of her mind, but she couldn't quite grasp it.

With an effort, her eyes blinked open, but she thought for a moment that she might very well be dead. Everything that wasn't black smoke was glowing a hellish red. But no… this was a little too familiar, too…

Mustafar.

Anakin.

Suddenly she remembered all too much.

She let her eyelids scrape shut again, and heaved a shuddering sigh as the tears returned. She didn't want to remember. She could hardly stand to be alive, if that meant these horrible memories would be her reality forever.

"My lady, I'm so glad you're all right!" a metallic voice exclaimed. She sat up reluctantly to see the gold-plated protocol droid standing just off to her left, and only now did she notice that R2-D2 had been prodding her repeatedly.

With a distinctly apologetic whistle, he stopped.

"Threepio, where's Anakin? Where have they gone?"

R2-D2 gave a series of tootles and beeps, which C-3PO obligingly translated.

"He says he last saw Master Anakin and Master Kenobi heading toward that bunker, over there. I would advise you however, considering your current condition and the potential danger, to return to the ship."

"Potential—? No, I can't! I have to—"

Have to what? Know if Anakin is all right?

The Anakin she loved would never be all right again, not as long as this new Lord of the Sith lived. And Obi-Wan was trying to kill him, probably even at this very moment…

"Threepio, help me up."

"My lady, I strongly—"

She hauled herself unsteadily to her feet without his help, leaning on the smooth dome of Artoo's head. She just couldn't accept that Anakin was beyond saving. Someone like him, someone so good, couldn't simply snap and become a heartless monster. There had to be good in him, lost somewhere inside.

Hot, stinging tears rolled down her cheeks as she made her way slowly toward the bunker C-3PO had indicated, one painful step at a time.

Because she had seen the monster in his eyes, as vividly as she saw the flames of Mustafar now. The man using the Force to choke her, glaring at her with blazing yellow eyes, death written all over his face… that was her Ani.

She was beginning to understand how Obi-Wan, his best friend, could come to her door and ask for her help in killing him, and the revelation was tearing her apart. How could she?

"But—my lady, where are you—?"

"I'm going to find him."

Which "him" she was referring to, the droid didn't ask, and Padmé wouldn't have known how to answer.

:ii:

"Stop, please…"

Conflicting emotions clawed at each other inside Anakin's head. Mostly, he just didn't know what to make of her return. Was that a simple cry to stop the fighting, or actual concern for him? Or… he wondered, his heart plummeting sickeningly, was it concern for Obi-Wan?

He searched for the answer in the Jedi Master's eyes, not trusting him enough to turn his back and look at Padmé.

Obi-Wan's blue-grey eyes pleaded with him to change his mind, to be someone he no longer was. His expression conveyed the disappointment of a lifetime, as if everything Anakin had done, and was doing, caused him physical pain.

"Is there nothing left of Anakin Skywalker in this 'Darth Vader'? I thought you at least still cared about your wife. She loves you!"

Boiling rage threatened to overtake him, and he would have stabbed Obi-Wan right then and there if Padmé's sudden arrival hadn't left him lost in shades of grey again. He didn't need this, not now. He had made his choice already, hadn't he?

"You have no right to say that," Anakin fumed, his mechanical hand screeching as he clenched it too hard. "You're the one who turned her against me!"

"What?" Then realization dawned on Obi-Wan's face. "Anakin… she didn't bring me here to kill you; she refused! And for her loyalty, you left her back there to die!"

The Sith Lord blinked. That… that couldn't be true, could it? It was too good to possibly be the truth. Obi-Wan was lying.

Without thinking, he turned to look at her for confirmation. Her beautiful face was red with tears, and when she met his eyes, hers were full of fear.

Fear of me.

That realization twisted into his heart like a knife. She hadn't betrayed him at all, and he had attacked her…

What have I done?

In the silence, the hum of his lightsaber was obnoxiously loud. Wait, his lightsaber! A sudden panic made him whip around again—so stupid, how could he have forgotten—? Obi-Wan was still behind him, ready to—

But Obi-Wan hadn't taken the perfect opportunity to kill him. He was just standing there, his own weapon hanging loosely in his hand, deactivated.

Anakin could only stare at him, not comprehending.

The corners of Obi-Wan's mouth twitched in just the faintest suggestion of a smile.

Anakin automatically opened his own mouth to tell him off him for smirking.

"Hey, don't—"

And then he realized what he was saying. Overwhelmed with the fog of confusion, he closed his eyes and tried to think. He hadn't slept in so long, it was hard

"Anakin," Padmé's voice called him back. He opened his eyes again as he felt her turn him gently toward her, brushing stray hairs out of his face. Her warm, soft hand was trembling. "Anakin, don't do this to me. Forget about everything else. It—it doesn't matter. Please…"

He took her hand in his human one, and pressed it to his lips. His eyes were swimming and blurred, but his mind was finally clear.

He just couldn't think of the right words that could begin to explain it all… what he had done… She would never accept it. And in truth, neither would he.

"I'm sorry," he choked finally, grimacing against the unstoppable tears. He turned his lightsaber off, and just stared at it, hating the thing. It was the same weapon that had ended the lives of all those innocent younglings back in the Jedi Temple, and for what? He still couldn't save her.

She didn't reply, but she pulled him into a hug, clinging to him as if he had come back to life and she was afraid of losing him again. He rested his head on her sweet-smelling hair, and just savored the perfect moment he had never expected would come again.

She didn't ask anything of him, just held him as they both stood there shaking.

No, the shaking was coming from outside.

He looked up, and there was no visible damage to the bunker's roof yet, but in the Force he could feel it beginning to come apart under the relentless shower of lava. He glanced at Obi-Wan, who still hadn't budged, but was also watching the ceiling with apprehension.

He may not have murdered Anakin when he had his first chance, but that didn't mean he still intended not to. Anakin was never going to make the mistake of trusting him again. Unfortunately, his first priority right now was getting Padmé away from here, so he was going to need either Obi-Wan's cooperation or his death.

"So what now?"

Obi-Wan raised an eyebrow, but in honest surprise rather than as part of some inside joke like it always used to be.

"If you're willing to refrain from slicing my head off, I'd be obliged to do the same. We can argue out our differences when there isn't immediate peril. Preferably without lightsabers."

He held out his hand, as if they were meeting for the first time.

Anakin pulled gently away from Padmé and slowly, suspiciously, reached out and shook the Jedi Master's hand. Obi-Wan's expression was, for once, completely unreadable.

"So what now?" he echoed Anakin's question after an uncomfortable silence.

"We get out of here before this place comes apart."

"Back to the ship?"

"You mean Padmé's?" Anakin frowned in thought. Something else had just crossed his mind. Something that was probably even more important than how they were going to escape. That part would be easy. After all, they had more than enough experience with that kind of thing.

"Master, what do you say we go pay a visit to the last Lord of the Sith?"

Did I just call him "Master"? Stupid old habit…

:ii:

Palpatine was worried. Yoda had vanished, but chances were less than slim that he was actually dead. The revolting green creature had a tendency to be frustratingly difficult to kill.

But that was only half of what bothered him; something had happened to Lord Vader. One moment, he had felt his apprentice was in danger, and the next, he could sense nothing of him at all.

Some bungling idiot Jedi hadn't actually survived and defeated him, had he? If so, Palpatine had wasted years molding the wrong Jedi into the perfect Sith apprentice.

No, he decided, Anakin had been the right choice. He was undeniably one of the most powerful Jedi of all time, and one of very few that hadn't been brainwashed quite thoroughly enough by their misguided principles. Anakin was the perfect choice, and Palpatine actually suspected that before long, the boy would surpass even him in power.

No, no one could possibly have defeated him. There must be another explanation, and he was going to find out what it was.

"Ready my ship," he ordered the commander of the clones who had answered his call.

"Right away, sir," came the obedient reply, and half the squad rushed off. Palpatine followed at a slower pace with the rest of them. Despite his anxiety for his apprentice, he wasn't going anywhere without a few bodyguards. His own safety was the main concern, and there was no telling if more Jedi might have survived, unlikely though it was. If they had, he would be their first target.

They continued on for several minutes before Palpatine sensed something wasn't quite right. There was a distressing disturbance in the Force, as if Yoda himself was standing right in front of him…

He started to order the clones to halt, but a burning bar of blue energy at his throat cut him off pretty abruptly.

"Hello, your Excellency."

Out of the blue, Obi-Wan Kenobi had dropped from the ceiling and landed in the midst of half a battalion of clone troopers and a Sith Lord. What was more, he seemed to think himself terribly clever because of it. It was as if he actually believed he could win. Palpatine would have laughed at the very idea, if his throat wasn't millimeters from being burned right through.

This detail cast a slight doubt in his mind, but he knew Jedi like Kenobi too well. More likely than not, he would attempt to take him prisoner rather than kill him right here. He just had to play his cards the right way.

"And what do you intend to do with me?" he asked, contempt dripping from his every word. There was no need to be too subtle.

"Oh, I'm not going to do anything," Kenobi replied conversationally.

He heard another lightsaber hum to life behind him.

Yoda. It must be. That would explain the unaccountably strong presence of light, which he knew could not possibly have been Kenobi alone.

"Master Windu was right. You're too dangerous to be left alive."

Alarm bells went of in his head a little too late. That wasn't Yoda's grammar, and it certainly wasn't Yoda's voice. It was Anakin!

Palpatine found himself having a very bad feeling about this…

"I should kill you. So consider yourself lucky you've failed to suck the weak, forgiving Jedi out of me. You're under arrest."

Palpatine turned to face him. The boy was entirely serious. How did this happen? Where was the powerful, fiery-eyed Sith apprentice he had sent to Mustafar mere hours ago? And why was Kenobi with him? This wasn't right!

But Palpatine was good at concealing his thoughts, as well as coming up with improvised plans. There was still one obvious way to bring Anakin back to the dark side where he belonged: kill Kenobi. And if that didn't quite do it, at least it would make Palpatine feel better.

:ii: