Title: Fall of the Sith
Characters: Mace Windu, Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Various other supporting characters
Summary: Mace Windu makes a critical decision that changes the outcome of the entire SW saga.
The Chosen One
Palpatine staggered, snarling, but the blistering energy that poured from his hands only intensified.
He fed the power with his pain.
"Anakin!" Mace called. His voice sounded distant, blurred, as if it came from the bottom of a well. "Anakin, help me! This is your chance!"
He felt Anakin's leap from the office floor to the ledge, felt his approach behind--
And Palpatine was not afraid.
Mace could feel it: he wasn't worried at all.
"Destroy this traitor," the Chancellor said, his voice raised over the howl of writhing energy that joined his hands to Mace's blade. "This was never an arrest. It's an assassination!"
It was then that Mace finally understood. He had it. The key to final victory. Palpatine's shatterpoint. The absolute shatterpoint of the Sith.
The shatterpoint of the dark side itself.
Mace thought, blankly astonished, Palpatine trusts Anakin Skywalker...
Now Anakin was at Mace's shoulder. Palpatine still made no move to defend himself from Skywalker; instead he ramped up the lightning bursting from his hands, bending the fountain of Mace's blade back toward the Korun Master's face.
Palpatine's eyes glowed with power, casting a yellow glare that burned back the rain from around them. "He is a traitor, Anakin. Destroy him."
"You're the chosen one, Anakin," Mace said, his voice going thin with strain. This was beyond Vaapad; he had no strength left to fight against his own blade. "Take him. It's your destiny."
Skywalker echoed him faintly. "Destiny..."
"Help me! I can't hold on any longer!" The yellow glare from Palpatine's eyes spread outward through his flesh. His skin flowed like oil, as though the muscle beneath was burning away, as though even the bones of his skull were softening, were bending and bulging, deforming from the heat and pressure of his electric hatred. "He is killing me, Anakin--! Please, Anaaahhh--"
Mace's blade bent so close to his face that he was chocking on ozone. "Anakin, he's too strong for me--"
"Ahhh--" Palpatine's roar above the endless blast of lightning became a fading moan of despair.
The lightning swallowed itself, leaving only the night and the rain, and an old man crumpled to his knees on a slippery ledge.
"I...can't. I give up. I...I am too weak, in the end. Too old, and too weak. Don't kill me, Master Jedi. Please. I surrender."
Victory flooded through Mace's aching body. He lifted his blade. "You Sith disease--"
"Wait--" Skywalker seized his lightsaber arm with desperate strength. "Don't kill him--you can't just kill him, Master--"
"Yes, I can," Mace said, grim and certain. "I have to."
"You came to arrest him. He has to stand trial--"
"A trial would be a joke. He controls the courts. He controls the Senate--"
"So are you going to kill all them, too? Like he said you would?"
Mace yanked his arm free. "He's too dangerous to be left alive. If you could have taken Dooku alive, would you have?"
Skywalker's face swept itself clean of emotion. "That was different--"
Mace turned toward the cringing, beaten Sith Lord. "You can explain the difference after he's dead."
He raised his lightsaber.
"I need him alive!" Skywalker shouted. "I need him to save Padmé!"
Mace froze. His lightsaber lowered imperceptibly as he looked at Anakin Skywalker in the Force. His blood curled. His eyes widened in shock. Seething around The Chosen One were roiling waves of dark energy interspersed within the light side of the Force. It was unlike anything Mace had seen. It was conflict like nothing Mace had ever imagined. It was if the dark side and light side of the Force were battling for the very soul of this young Jedi.
And then Mace saw it. As clearly as he had seen that Anakin Skywalker was the shatterpoint for the galaxy earlier, now he saw Anakin Skywalker's shatterpoint. The fault lines that connected him to Palpatine ran out of the Chancellor's office, across the massive divide and straight to a small apartment in 500 Replica. The apartment of Padmé Amidala, Senator from Naboo.
Wife of Anakin Skywalker!
The Chancellor was somehow connected to their illicit relationship. Skywalker would never let him be killed! Anger poured fire into the Jedi Master's belly.
"How could you keep this from us!" Mace roared. He didn't even recognize his own voice. The fire burgeoned inside him. Skywalker should never have been trained. Twenty-five thousand years of Jedi history rode on the shoulders of this 'Chosen One'. Skywalker was never really a Jedi. A man of power, to be sure. But a man who refused to be anything more than just a man. A man who refused to accept the Jedi as his family. A man built for betrayal! How could the Council have been so blind?
Mace could see Anakin now as he had been those many years before in the Temple chamber being evaluated by the Masters of the Jedi Council. Yoda had fought to keep they boy from being trained and Mace had been inclined to agree. But the Council had defied their wisdom. Now the boy had an attachment so strong that he would never let go.
Mace Windu decided.
Anakin Skywalker can have his attachment.
The Jedi Master would not let go of his love either. He would save the Republic from the Sith.
No matter the cost.
Abruptly lightning erupted again from the fallen Chancellor. The suddenness of the attack drove Mace back into the office, electrified by pure energy. The agony was immense but it did not overcome him.
Instead, he used it.
Mace Windu sank into Vaapad more easily than he ever had.
"Anakin!" The Chancellor rasped. He looked weak. The energy spewing from his hands seemed to be draining him and his horrific visage continued to morph. The transformation was extending beyond his face and Anakin's eyes went wide as the Sith Lord's entire body seemed to be consuming itself...withering away slowly but surely. "You must kill him. To save Padmé, you must choose! I cannot finish him myself. Choose now!"
It was a defiant roar. It was an order. It was a command from a man who knew that Skywalker would call him Master if he acted.
As the lightning continued to engulf him, Mace Windu--Korun Master, Jedi Master and second on the Jedi Council--drew a defiant breath and stood his ground. He roared and dropped his lightsaber away.
Extending his hands before him, the Korun Master gathered the lightning being driven at him as if collecting water at a river and shaped it into a sphere of raw energy. The room crackled with power and the ball formed and grew--fed by the Sith Lord's hatred and fear.
Palpatine's yellow eyes opened wide in astonishment as that ball of energy suddenly shot toward him with astonishing speed. Engulfing him completely, the Chancellor fell to the ground, writhing in agony for eternally long seconds.
Then he lay still.
"Noooo!" Anakin screamed as he ignited his lightsaber and charged at Mace. As he cleared the distance between them with the aid of the Force, Anakin Skywalker saw Mace do something he had never seen. It was as unsettling a maneuver as Anakin Skywalker could imagine. He felt it before he saw it.
Mace Windu smiled.
As rapidly as Anakin had been moving towards Mace, he suddenly found himself helplessly being hurled backwards. The power that Mace Windu had driven at him was greater than anything Anakin had experienced. To his utter amazement, he crashed hard against the opposite wall and quickly found himself pinned hard against it as surely as if he were shackled by durasteel clamps.
The wind knocked out of him, Anakin's lungs spasmed as he tried to summon the Force to free himself. But the harder he struggled, the more powerful, Mace's invisible hold grew.
Anakin was tired. He had not slept in days. Windu appeared to be growing more powerful by the second. His breath growing short and his muscles aching, terror gripped Anakin's chest in a vice.
As if to torture him more, the vision erupted in his mind as it had so many times before. He saw Padmé screaming for him and he was helpless to save her.
He blinked his eyes through the vision and watched helplessly as Mace Windu calmly picked up his discarded lightsaber and ignite it. Amethyst energy emerged from the handle as the Korun Master calmly approached the Chancellor's prostrate form.
"Chancellor Palpatine," Mace hissed. His voice took on a new baritone that Anakin barely recognized. "You have been found guilty of a pathetic plot to destroy the Jedi and a sinister conspiracy to destroy my Republic. I sentence you to death."
Palpatine's regained consciousness painfully. His now-yellow eyes that had once peered so precisely into Anakin's soul were bloodied and beaten. He could feel his death at hand. Anakin Skywalker, his great hope for the future stood pinned helplessly against the wall by a power that Mace Windu should not have. How could this have happened? It was all orchestrated so carefully! Mace Windu should be suffering at Anakin's hand by now! Where did the Jedi Master obtain this power?
And then he understood. He looked up at Mace Windu with acceptance and recognition.
"Unlimited power...Master Jedi..." Palpatine rasped, with a weak smile.
Anakin couldn't let this happen. He wouldn't! With a reserve of energy that he did not know he had, Anakin Skywalker, The Chosen One pushed against the Force hold Mace Windu had encased him in. The durasteel wall groaned in protest briefly before shattering beneath the strain. Ignoring the tattered wall, Anakin called on the Force to cross the distance between he and the Korun Master.
As Anakin leaped to save his friend--his only hope to save Padmé--the image of her death continued to play in his mind's eye.
Mace Windu must have been able to sense Anakin coming but he made no attempt to stop him. Instead, the Jedi Master plunged his lightsaber into the Chancellor's head, exactly as the Sith Lord had done to Master Agen Kolar mere moments before. He pulled it out with satisfying grin.
The Chancellor of the Republic crumpled lifeless to the floor.
Anakin felt the death in the Force like a blow to the chest and his leap brought him to stand in front of the Korun Master.
Mace stood ready for an attack, but Anakin felt no rage to fuel him.
No fear left to cling to.
Anakin collapsed at Mace's feet, sobbing.
Mace turned and regarded the youth who kneeled before him, weeping.
"She's going to die, Master Windu," he cried. "Her only hope just died."
"Skywalker...Anakin." The voice was soothing. The rage had seemingly evaporated. "Search your feelings and find the vision. Is it the same?"
Anakin fought back tears as the vision continued to play in his mind. He couldn't stop it if tried. Padmé continued to scream as she had so many times.
But something was different.
The room she was in was different. Her eyes were different. She wasn't weeping as she called his name. She was in pain, yes--but she wasn't dying! Anakin watched, astonished as he saw the child--a boy--placed in his mother's arms and she was smiling!
The image vanished as suddenly as it appeared.
"How...?" Anakin couldn't breathe. His confusion rose exponentially. "How is this…possible?"
"Anakin," the soft voice spoke again. Anakin had never heard Mace speak so tenderly. He found it odd that suddenly he and Mace were on a first-name basis. His head reeled.
"I am your friend," the voice continued. "Sidious was using you. I could see clearly that you were going to join him. And if you had, your vision would have become a reality. I saved you, Anakin--from yourself. I saved Padmé."
Anakin struggled to catch his breath...he felt weak...his legs grew numb. "Thank you, Master," he stammered finally.
"You're welcome, Anakin," Mace replied casually. "Now come, I must save my Republic from the rest of his disease-filled Senators!"
Anakin's blood froze.
Anakin looked up, for the first time since the Chancellor's death at Mace Windu. Mace was looking at him with eyes filled with fire. Eyes as yellow as the sun. Eyes that only moments ago, Master Windu had closed forever--Palpatine's eyes.
Anakin stood up and backed slowly away. He breathed deeply and searched for guidance. His only hope was the Force and he opened himself fully to it, allowing its energy to flow into him and through him.
His perception of the world shifted subtly. No longer was there a veil of darkness everywhere. He could sense everything. As he opened himself more fully to the Force, his awareness extended beyond the confines of the Chancellor's quarters and the Senate building itself. They stretched throughout Coruscant. He could feel every air taxi and speeder. He could sense every bolt of lightning that erupted in the sky.
He could feel Padme, weeping on her balcony--Padme!
Anakin focused his new-found perception on Mace. And Anakin Skywalker could see the dark side in Mace Windu. It boiled around him like a volcano. It oozed out of his very skin. The man who flirted with the dark side to become a master swordsman had fallen. As he stared at him, Anakin saw that power growing. The shadow was building in power around a new master.
"What is it, Anakin?" Mace asked, soothingly. "Are you not happy that I've saved Padme from you?"
"Master..." Anakin stammered...he lowered his head carefully as he had done in the Council chambers on many occasions in an act of contrition. "I have violated Jedi rules. You should bring me before the Council. You should call Master Yoda to seek his guidance on what to do with me. You have destroyed the Sith! I am clearly not the Chosen One."
"I know," Mace smiled. "I am!"
"Oh come, now, Anakin..." Mace smiled as he stepped casually over the body of the fallen Chancellor. Anakin noted that Mace was not closing the distance between them with some relief. "I destroyed the Sith, not you. Surely, you're not upset about such a little thing as being robbed of the title of Chosen One, are you? As I recall, you didn't even like being referred to that way. Well now, you have nothing to worry about."
"Besides, that's all irrelevant. I'm not going to bring you before Yoda, or the Council".
"You...you're...not?" Anakin sensed that he needed to buy time. He recognized clearly that Mace Windu was slipping further and further. Anakin didn't know what to do. He only knew that he needed help. He slowly closed his mind down and allowed the Force to flow more readily through him. The more he allowed his mind to slip into the Force, the more the dark energies that he could see around Mace intensified.
Was his vision becoming clearer or was Mace becoming darker?
"Of course not," Mace replied, continuing the conversation as if they were discussing philosophy in the Jedi Temple gardens. "They never listen to my guidance anyway. Fools. They allowed the dark side to grow this powerful. They failed you Anakin--we failed you. But I can remedy that. I assure you...your secret's safe with me..."
"If..." Anakin understood. Mace would attempt to seduce him as Palpatine had.
He had resisted Palpatine.
He would resist Mace.
He would tell the Council himself and face the consequences. It was the only answer. He could see it in the Force now. With the darkness emanating from Sidious lifted, Anakin could see so much so clearly now.
"If," Mace finished. "You and I become friends." Mace's smile was almost convincing but Anakin could see it in the Force for what it was--the smacking lips of a new predator about to devour his prey. "I will assume control of the Senate--provisionally, of course. You will be my right hand man. We will bring order back to the Republic. We will bring back civilization!"
It all sounded so reasonable. In fact, it was probably necessary, Anakin conceded. After all, the war was not over. And now, with Dooku, Grievous, and Sidious gone, there was no one alive to stop the charade. But Anakin could hear the callings of the Force and it filtered Mace's words for him. His clarity was unlike anything he had ever experienced. He had heard Obi-Wan talk about it but he had never known it. He breathed it in. It gave him strength.
What Anakin saw most clearly now was that he could not stop Mace alone.
Maybe not ever, but certainly not now.
He needed backup.
He needed The Team.
Anakin reached out in the Force and called.
In a sudden rush, he felt every Jedi in the galaxy hear him. But only one mattered. Only one needed to answer. He could feel Obi-Wan Kenobi answer him and knew that help was on the way.