Disclaimer: George Lucas used to own Star Wars, and it's now owned by Disney.
Warnings: This story is rated M for strong sexual situations, language and violence. You have been warned.
AN: This is the last update of the year, folks! Enjoy it while you can!
A collab fic by Lilac Moon and PyramidHead316
AN: Hello there! This fic has entered into the final phase of its story arc, folks! There are only about 9 chapters left in the story, maybe 10. We are not going to take this story into ROTJ territory. The span of years is too long, Anakin doesn't want to wait that long to confront Obi-Wan, and the Rebellion doesn't want to wait that long to confront the Empire. ;-) They want to strike while the Empire is still vulnerable, and while the Sith Lords are still gathering their power. In fact, several of the next chapters will be devoted to that, and you will see the various ideas on all sides. :-) It may seem like a lot, but since I have most of it pretty mapped out, it'll go by quickly! This is the last update of the year, folks! Enjoy it! :-D I can't promise that we'll update every two weeks, but I aim to have this fic completed and wrapped up by the middle of the coming year. :) That includes an epilogue, and any vignettes that arise due to this universe.
My ideal time frame is about three months, so that'll tell you something. :-) I have another project that I want to start, and I'm definitely looking forward to it, so I definitely want to get this story wrapped up as soon as possible. I think you'll very much enjoy it. ;-)
Until then, enjoy! Enjoy the new year, readers! :-D
Chapter 35: End of the Republic
Yoda landed on the Senate pod, as he avoided one of the pods that Palpatine had thrown at him. They were in the main Senate chamber now, having dueled into there as the Speaker's dais ascended into it. The empty audience chamber that was the center of the Republic almost made an appropriate setting for their battle, as the seat of democracy showed exactly what was at stake here. This was a battle for the very Republic itself, and control of the galaxy.
The attacks came swiftly, merciless in their nature. Yoda hopped from senatorial pod to senatorial pod, nimbly avoiding the ruthless attacks that Palpatine threw at him, sometimes mere seconds before they happened. Sidious easily levitated two pods into the air and then a third, calling on his mastery of the dark side. He lifted the pods into the air and then threw them at the Jedi Master with ruthless precision, forcing him to take cover. It was all Yoda could do to barely dodge the forceful projectiles, getting out of the way. Yoda grimaced at the severity of the situation.
It was becoming clear that he had seriously underestimated Sidious' capabilities. He was beginning to wish he had brought Anakin with him, or all of the remaining Jedi who were at the Temple, so that they could force the Sith Lord into submission, because it was obvious that Sidious was far more powerful than he had expected. On the other hand, if he had brought all the Jedi with him, that would have given Sidious and his soldiers a chance to eliminate all of the remaining Jedi in one move, in one place. So perhaps it was better that Yoda alone was here in the Senate chamber, taking on this nightmare, with all the energy he could muster.
Sidious continued tossing pods at him, hurling the deadly projectiles his way. Yoda was in awe of the way Sidious grabbed the pods effortlessly, manipulating the several ton machines as if they were mere pieces of paper. Yoda had always considered that the Light side and Dark sides of the Force were equal, but now he wondered if the aggression of the Sith didn't give them a slight advantage the Jedi couldn't hope to match.
He dove from side to side, dodging more pods. The attack was focused, relentless, meant to keep him from getting a single shot in. Sidious knew what he was doing, and relished in the thrill of having the Jedi Master helpless. He moved quickly, leaping from pod to pod, lest he be crushed by the onslaught of oncoming metal circles coming his way. His saber skill was tremendous, but he couldn't do much if he couldn't even get close to Sidious. Not unless he started throwing his own projectiles his way, in the form of concentrated Force energy. Once again, Yoda wished he had Skywalker's talent for long range fighting. He could see the Sith Master's grin from all the way down here: ruthless, malicious, and exuberant at finally having the chance to engage his hated enemy in combat, after all these years. Age was holding him back. Age, and the burden of sitting in a Council chair in their chamber without being on the front lines for an extended period of time. He had been on the Council for too long.
Sidious raised his hand, and branches of lightning arched up from his fingertips. The lightning struck the ceiling, and piles of debris began to rain down from extreme force, as it cracked the ceiling of the Senate Rotunda. Yoda caught the debris using the Force before it crushed him, tossing aside the pieces of dusty debris. Sidious pulled another pod to him, and then threw it at the Jedi Master with breakneck speed, as an animalistic roar left his horrid throat. Yoda barely caught it before it crushed him into dust. The Sith Master stood triumphant, cackling with a dark horrific glee, confident that he had the Jedi Master outmatched. Yoda gritted his teeth. He needed to get an edge. Yoda began to spin the circular platform with the Force, slowly revolving it, watching it catch speed. He wrenched the edges of the metal platform off, fashioning them into spikes, and then sent it at the Sith Master.
He paused as he saw what was coming toward him. Sidious expertly dodged the platform that would have decapitated him instantly, flipping down into another pod below.
Yoda was instantly there, jumping across the massive Senate chamber to cover the distance in a single leap. Palpatine retaliated with a blast of lightning, knocking the lightsaber out of Yoda's hands. Palpatine groaned as he strained to hold back the Jedi Master, pouring waves of dark side energy into the attack in an attempt to overwhelm him with massive tendrils of energy. Yoda held back the Sith Lord, focusing with narrowed crystal clear eyes as he called upon the deepest reserves of his strength, catching the lightning with his bare hands. Palpatine surged forward with a growl, displaying stained, rotted teeth as he tried to overwhelm the Jedi Master with sheer brute Force power. The power built in the air, gradually forming a bubble between the two of them, until something happened. Yoda sensed an advantage and he pushed out at the Sith Lord, building the energy in front of him – he was determined not to let this monster win the standoff and get the best of him. Palpatine's eyes widened as he began to realize the Jedi Master was gradually overpowering his defenses. He forced more lightning into his flurry, but it was ineffective. And Palpatine winced as he found the potent Force energy being turned against him. The bubble continued to build in the atmosphere, until it exploded. Palpatine was thrown back with a burst of power, and Yoda slid back off the platform, clinging to the pod in a futile attempt to hold on to the edge. The attempt failed, and he fell to the floor of the Senate chamber. Thankfully, the fall was not a long one, and he fell to the floor with only a few contusions and bruises, after inadvertently striking the side of a Senate pod. Yoda looked up and saw Palpatine clinging to one of the Senate pods, maneuvering his way into the safety of the compartment inside.
Yoda looked downward in disappointment. The clone troopers Palpatine had employed would be arriving soon, and if he didn't flee the Senate chamber he would be dead. He hadn't done it. He had a chance to kill the Sith Lord behind this and restore justice to the Republic, and he couldn't do it. And now he would have to escape the Senate chamber for his life.
The Jedi Master began to back away from the main Senate chamber. Yoda swallowed the bitter ounce of disappointment. He had had a chance. And he had failed. Now the Republic would suffer the consequences of his failure. But there was nothing more he could do. He needed to get out of here before the clone troopers arrived. For once he wished he were one of the younger Masters who dared to push their power not knowing the consequences, instead of the experienced one who knew better than to push his power past its limits. Perhaps he could have triumphed here against the Sith Lord and redeemed himself later, instead of leaving it to the younger generation to resume his work. And he now knew that was what he was going to have to do. There was no other way around it. Yoda was no longer strong enough to defeat this man by himself, and influence the course of the galaxy. Yoda needed redemption, but something told him the galaxy was not going to give him a chance to find it anytime soon.
He crawled through the ducts of the Senate building, careful to maintain a quiet low presence in order to avoid being detected. He moved quickly, stealthily for his small size, nimbly maneuvering through the mass of panels and wires running through the ducts. He was thankful for the ports running through the building that allowed him to enter the tunnels, otherwise he would have found it difficult to make a quick getaway.
He pulled out the comlink he had carried in his belt compartment, and tuned it to Bail Organa's frequency.
"Senator Organa, require your assistance, I do," Yoda said into the comlink. "Careful timing we will need…" he advised.
The response on the other end was positive. Yoda relayed his coordinates to them, and received an affirmative. He hoped they would arrive before it was too late: he could only keep up the evasion for so long.
He breathed a sigh of relief, though he was still not out of the woodwork yet. And it was also tainted with the twinges of disappointment. No doubt about it: his mission had gone terribly wrong, and there was nothing that could be done to salvage it.
It looked like his time on Coruscant was coming to an end.
Bail Organa, Padmé, and Aayla Secura were all in the cockpit set to leave. Shaak Ti was with them, the younglings having been delivered to safety already. She had come along to make sure that everything went smoothly. They were waiting only for the sign that it was right to depart.
They were in the process of adjusting the controls when the call came through.
Sheltay Retrac put the call through. Bail Organa's assistant sat down besides the assorted group, hovering expectantly over the transmission along with them as they awaited word from the oldest Jedi Master.
"Master Yoda, are you all right?" Bail Organa asked, upon hearing how weary and terribly dismayed the old Master sounded. Yoda nodded his affirmative, and they all breathed a visible sigh that the Jedi Master was not injured. He provided them with his coordinates, and they set off to retrieve the Jedi Master from his errant situation before the Imperial troops could reach him.
They met him at the aforementioned coordinates. Sure enough, it was the exit vent to one of the ventilation ducts at the Senate. Senator Organa went to assist him, and Yoda hopped into Bail Organa's speeder expertly, landing nimbly in the passenger's seat beside the Senator.
The senator guided him back to the ship, and they escorted the speeder into the docking bay of the ship. Yoda rushed into the cabin of the ship, and the senator was not far behind him. They surrounded him as they went to check on the Jedi Master, but it was his next statement that really shocked them into awareness.
"Into exile, I must go," Yoda lamented miserably. "Failed I have…" he trailed off, staring down solemnly at the ground.
Padmé and the others were silent, as they were shocked at the enormity of that statement. The idea that Yoda could go up against this man and lose, it underscored how powerful this enemy that they were up against really was.
This was no mere man playing at being a tyrant. This was a monster, and they had to regain their bearings and gather all their resources in order to defeat him.
"Assistant Sheltay, leave immediately we must," Yoda commanded the senator's aide. The young brunette woman nodded her assent immediately, and went to prepare things in the cockpit.
"I won't leave without Anakin," Padmé said determinedly. Her face was a mask of determination, serious and ready.
"Senator, there is no time. The fighters are going to be here at any moment," Yoda said, turning to the assistant and where she was now conferring with the pilots. And indeed, they could see the shapes of fighter ships approaching them. "Captured we will be. Find his own way off the planet, Skywalker will.
Allow your attachment to interfere with our mission, I cannot," Yoda said.
"Then we'll be captured," Padmé said simply. She pursed her lips. "Master, I am not going to leave my husband stranded here in the hands of the Sith! We either leave together, or not at all," Padmé said defiantly.
Aayla looked at Yoda in slight shock. She had thought that Master Yoda would be alright with Anakin's attachment, but it seemed the Master was not quite content to accept it just yet. She wondered if Yoda was going to reproach Padmé for her attachment, if he would dare to suggest that she abandon Anakin here on this hostile world, to be at the mercy of the Sith. She had thought she respected the Jedi Master, but if Yoda dared to suggest that they abandon Anakin here, then Aayla was going to be furious with him, and would lose a fair bit of that respect in the process – possibly enough to smack him, if she was feeling so bold, for his stubbornness. Once, Aayla had agreed about attachment, and would have encouraged Anakin to let go of Padmé, for the sake of the order, but then she had been with Kit. Now, in all good conscience Aayla couldn't encourage Padmé to go along with Master Yoda's thinking. She would not let Padmé abandon her husband to the same fate that befell Kit.
The room waited with bated breath, awaiting the moment to see if Padmé would explode with outrage at Master Yoda's instructions or not. There was a moment of silence, while they waited for the results. Padmé didn't give them time to witness it. She went straight to the cockpit to address the pilots, and made it clear that she wasn't going to follow Yoda's instructions. "Go after him, now," Padmé ordered the pilots, who instantly acknowledged her instructions. They nodded their assent, either too afraid to defy her, or else agreeing silently with her rationale. Sheltay also looked at her seriously, like she understood exactly what the other woman was thinking.
The group sat there in a painful silence. It was as clear a sign as any that she was not going to follow Yoda's instructions. She would follow her own path, and like it or not, they were along for the ride. They could do nothing to interfere, and even if they wanted to, Bail and his staff were already on her side, and if the pilots were also on her side, then it was over. There was no way any of them could interfere, even though no one besides Yoda wanted to.
Yoda cast his gaze downward, dipping his ears in a melancholic way. "Open defiance I sense in you, Senator. Need that you do not," he said resignedly, sighing wearily in frustration. "This attachment of yours, puts us all in grave danger it does," he said, trying one last time to convince her.
Padmé looked grim. "Perhaps. My children need their father, Master, and I am not going to leave him here to the Sith," she said seriously. She went over to check on the pilots in the cockpit.
Silence reigned in the craft. No one could think of anything to say to that, because she was right. How could you respond to something like that? And in every way that mattered, she was right, and they knew she had the moral upper hand here.
Well, Shaak Ti thought, staring idly at Yoda. Some of us know it.
Padmé's grip tightened on the leather chair in front of her. Hang on, Ani. We're coming…
They had dueled all the way up to the surface of the Senate. Time had passed by as the two combatants immersed themselves in the duel. They were now on the streets near the Senate building, engaged in the dizzying array of movements and strikes as speeders flew overhead on their way to their destinations, unknowing of the battle that was transpiring below for the sake of the galaxy. Anakin had steered the duel outside, in an attempt to gain an advantage from the wide open space, keeping his distance from Obi-Wan, but also fiercely attacking when possible. Anakin tried to aim at Obi-Wan's ankle, but Vader parried the movement. Anakin tried to slash at Vader's side to take him out quickly, but Vader quickly blocked the attack and retaliated with his own strike. Anakin had tried several times to end the duel quickly, to deal a killing blow to the hated former Obi-Wan and rid himself of the terrible burden finally, but Vader quickly dissolved those notions. But Vader was also unable to gain an advantage over Anakin, much as he tried feverishly to do so. They knew each other too well.
They glared at each other with hateful eyes. They initiated another rush at each other. Their sabers became a blur of flashing lights as they threw furious slashes and parries at each other, unleashing all their fury in a blaze of determination and Force enhanced attacks. Vader came at Anakin with attacks meant to dominate him through sheer force, but Anakin came back at him with equally vicious counter-attacks honed from all the months of training on his new home world. They found themselves at a stalemate.
Somehow, they realized that this battle was at a turning point. Whatever happened here would determine the nature of their lives for the next several years, perhaps forever. With neither one of them being willing to give an inch, they charged again at each other in a second rush. They exchanged a fearsome series of maneuvers and attacks, looking equally matched from the outside. Their blades crossed with each other, blue and azure clashing as each one sought to gain control over the other, but neither one managing to gain the advantage. Anakin found it easy to match Vader's maneuvers, but Vader was unable to penetrate through his defenses. Anakin exchanged a series of slow, concentrated strikes with his former master, frustration bleeding through in their strikes, as they were unable to gain the upper hand on the other, until they parted blades with two focused, outraged strikes.
The opponents glared at each other, conveying a world of emotion in one single look.
"I can't believe how far you've fallen, Obi-Wan," Anakin said, shaking his head at the horrible visage that stood in front of him. How had this man fallen to these depths? It was a question that Anakin had asked himself over and over, and one that he still didn't have the answer to.
"Lord Sidious has merely shown me how to harness my true self," Vader said simply, staring down his old Padawan across the landing platform. He had a dark, fully confident look in his eye, as if he was truly confident of what he was saying. He truly believed this was his true core. "And you cannot escape your destiny, Anakin. I trained you, and I raised you into the man you are today. You belong at my side. Join me, Anakin, and we can rule the galaxy side by side, as long-term rulers," Vader stretched out his hand, going for what he knew was his last chance to convince Anakin. He knew how much Anakin hungered for order, to bring peace to those he defended, by any means necessary.
Anakin stared seriously through the fog of emotion. "I will never join you," he said, resolutely. "I'm not a slave anymore, and I haven't been one for a long time. And I will never be your slave again. I should have never allowed you to put me in that position in the first place," Anakin said. He glared at the man who was in front of him, who had once been his former master, and was now his hated enemy. He wondered if the man had anything left to say in his defense, if he would dare to suggest that his actions were appropriate and not horribly evil after all this time. The tension grew thick around them, like an almost visible cloud of smoke and ash suffocating them with its very atmosphere.
Vader stared silently for a moment. "Then, this is the end for you, my old Padawan," he said simply. There was a dark, grim determination now that was not there before. Anakin saw it in his eyes. If he couldn't have Anakin, then no one else would, not Padmé or anyone else. He was his, and Vader wasn't going to let him go without a fight. The only option was for one, or both of them, to die.
Anakin lifted up his lightsaber, readying for the inevitable attack. They charged at each other one final time, their blades clashing in a flash of blue and azure as their lightsabers crossed. They dealt hard, powerful strikes, aiming at each other's weak points, trying valiantly to overwhelm the other. Anakin struck hard at his former master, trying furiously to find some opening in his defense, some weakness that he could exploit. Vader countered hard, matching all of his moves, equally determined to gain the upper hand on his old Padawan. They moved their blades in a concentrated pattern, almost too quick to see with the naked eye, standing defiantly in the middle of the platform. The flurry continued unrelenting in its exchange of strikes, until Anakin finally swatted away Vader's lightsaber, only to have Vader rapidly bring it up again.
Anakin backed off for a single instance. He needed some kind of opening. There had to be something he could do to distract Obi-Wan, and take advantage of the situation. He needed to end this duel quickly, or else Obi-Wan was going to overpower him. There were the warning signs that were tingling in his stomach, and sending an ominous feeling there. He was getting tired, and Vader still showed no sign of slowing down. The dark side was clearly imbuing him with more energy. He couldn't afford to let Padmé down, and allow himself to get captured.
The Republic gunship soared through the air, swiftly making its way towards its destination with gunships in hot pursuit.
Padmé hung cautiously in the cockpit. Their eyes were scanning for any signs of their targets. "Look, there they are," she said, pointing at a certain point in the distance. The images gradually became clear, until they revealed two individuals dueling on the street platform, who were rapidly approaching them.
"I see them," one of the pilots said, adjusting the controls on the right of the console.
"Let's take her in easy," the other pilot said, as he began to guide the ship gently down into the lower area of the district, to pick up their final passenger.
Anakin felt rather than saw the gunship approaching in the air behind him. Padmé had come to his rescue. He didn't know whether to be relieved, or concerned that she hadn't stayed where he thought, and had placed herself in danger. He backed away slightly, prepared to make a jump if necessary. Obi-Wan noticed the approaching ship and sneered, adopting an ugly expression on his face. "So, your wife has come to save you. You can't even finish a duel on your own. Is this what you have turned into, my old Padawan?" Obi-Wan taunted, gesturing with his arms wide as if challenging Anakin to challenge his words with bold action. Anakin ignored him, knowing Obi-Wan was only trying to rattle him. He held his saber up ready, in case Obi-Wan tried to harm Padmé on the ship.
Suddenly, he didn't have a choice. Obi-Wan rushed towards him, and Anakin was forced to put up his saber to defend himself. Vader struck at him with opposing force, as they engaged in slashes and parries that would have dominated any other opponent. Anakin felt a twinge of desperation, as he crossed blades with Obi-Wan. He needed to escape, but it seemed Vader was determined not to let that happen. He needed to push through, but every move was forcing him to keep up, unless he wanted to get killed. Padmé couldn't land as long as Obi-Wan was on the ground, and Anakin couldn't jump as long as he was engaged in the duel with Obi-Wan. He had better think of something, and soon.
Padmé saw Anakin dueling with Obi-Wan on the platform. "Shoot him down," she said.
The pilot shook his head. "They're too closely grouped together. We can't get a clear lock on Kenobi," he said.
Padmé cursed viciously inside her mind. Damn it, they needed a distraction. She thought it over hard in her mind, and came to a decision. "Shoot at the side. Maybe that'll create a distraction," she said.
The pilot nodded. "Yes, ma'am," he said.
Padmé stared hard at where Anakin and Obi-Wan were dueling. I hope this works out… she thought.
If Anakin was the one who fell for the distraction rather than Obi-Wan, the consequences were not ones that she wanted to contemplate.
The gunship began to fire at the ground next to the dueling warriors, blasting a hole in the duracrete. Obi-Wan turned his head to the side for an instance in surprise, and that was when it happened. Anakin saw his chance and he took it. He slashed his saber upwards across his former master's face in a calculated move. Obi-Wan arched back in self-defense, but not quickly enough, and the first few centimeters of the blade passed across his face, touching him with its burning power. The defeated former Jedi Master fell backward to the ground, crying out in agony while holding the left side of his face.
Anakin shut off his lightsaber. The duel was finished. He stared at the sight of the Sith Lord, writhing in pain and thrashing like an animal, and couldn't help but feel a great sense of dismay at what had become of the once great Obi-Wan Kenobi. He felt sad a bit, even though he hated him, and his master had done some unforgivable things, because how could it have come to this? He felt the waves of hatred rolling off him and the conflict in Obi-Wan's soul, and shuddered deeply in his body at the thought of what had become of his former master. How could this be the same man who trained him as a child, the man he loved as a mentor and father figure? He remembered the man he knew as a child, and was unable to reconcile the image with the wretched monster he had become. Anakin hated Obi-Wan, and would never forgive his master for what he had done, but there was almost something akin to sorrow as he stared at the writhing, thrashing mess on the ground. He actually felt some pity for him, regardless of all past actions and possibilities.
There was only one solution for this. It was to put him out of his misery. Anakin stepped forward to do it, but then he stopped. He looked back at the ship, and saw that fighters were rapidly approaching it. He looked back at Obi-Wan, and stopped cold. Padmé only had a few seconds before the fighters would be on her. He couldn't do it. If he took any longer, Padmé and the others were going to be captured, and all of this will have been for naught. He had to make a choice. And he wasn't going to endanger Padmé's welfare to satisfy his own thirst for revenge.
Anakin jumped on the entry ramp to the ship, and made his choice. The gunship sped off into Coruscant's atmosphere far in the distance, until it was only a speck on the horizon.
The fighters arrived just a few seconds too late, pausing their search in mid-air as they saw the wounded Sith Lord on the ground...