Summary: RotS AU – Anakin has a slightly different vision his first night back in Coruscant. But will it save him, or merely change the nature of his fall into darkness?
Fandom: Star Wars
Warnings: Violence, bad language, character death. And it may feature slash…all my fics do eventually.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Some dialogue lifted shamelessly from the film.
No-one would describe night on Coruscant as peaceful. Traffic streaked through the skies heedless of the darkness, music blared from the clubs and bars on the lower levels. However, the senatorial apartments did manage to acquire some degree of serenity…which was broken by a young Jedi Knight awaking from a nightmare with a cry of horror. Breathing fast and shallow, Anakin Skywalker sat up in bed and ran a trembling hand through his hair. He shook his head in a vain attempt to clear it of the terrible images from his dream.
A dream, he reassured himself shakily; just a dream. But Anakin had never been much good at lying to himself, and he knew perfectly well that it was more than just a dream. It had been a vision.
Resigned to getting no more sleep that night, he swung his legs off the side of the bed and got a little unsteadily to his feet. His steps traced the familiar path to the balcony, and he leaned against the fountain as his eyes subconsciously traced the lights of passing vehicles. Not just a dream. A warning.
"Ani?" a voice came from behind him, and he turned to see Padmé blinking sleepily at him; "Ani, what's wrong?"
"A dream…" he hesitated; "…like the ones I used to have about my mother. Just before she died."
Her voice quivered as if she was afraid to ask: "What did you see?"
"I saw…" his eyes unfocussed as he struggled to recall the details: "I saw the Temple. The Temple in flames…taken unawares by attack in the middle of the night." He closed his eyes, once again seeing flame flaring across his vision, the searing light of blaster fire, lightsabers flickering out one by one… He jumped at a sudden, unexpected touch on his forearm, and looked down into his wife's huge brown eyes.
"It'll be alright, Ani," she whispered, leaning against him and laying her head on his shoulder; "Come back to bed."
And how was he supposed to turn down a proposition like that?
Anakin was not normally the sort of person who was open about his feelings and fears. But this vision had shaken him more deeply than he was willing to admit, and it concerned the whole Jedi Order, not just him. Thus it was that early the next morning, he found himself seated in front of Master Yoda, while the tiny green Jedi studied him speculatively.
"Premonitions you say you have, young Skywalker. Glimpses of the future, hmm?"
"I believe so, Master," Anakin replied, forcing himself to be properly respectful and deferential.
"And what saw you in this vision of which you speak?" Yoda asked. Anakin looked down at his worn boots.
"I saw the Temple in flames, Master," he said, a little of the apprehension he felt seeping into his voice; "Clone troopers…gunning down younglings with their blasters. Thousands…thousands dying."
For a long time, Yoda was silent. He clasped his hands around the top of his stick and regarded the young Jedi before him over his stubby green fingers. Not for the first time, he wondered why the Force had chosen to place this burden upon Skywalker. Surely one more respectful of the Code, more at ease with the life of a Jedi, less volatile and temperamental… He shook his head to clear it of such thoughts, his pointed ears twitching. "Meditate on this, I will," the wizened little Master said thoughtfully; "If in danger the Order is, swift action we must take." Yoda narrowed his eyes at Anakin; "Late for Master Kenobi's briefing on the Outer Rim Sieges, you are."
Anakin was perceptive enough to know when he was being dismissed. Stifling a flicker of irritation at being so casually waved aside, he rose and bowed: "Thank you, Master."
Anakin walked quickly down the echoing corridors, the rhythmic thudding of his boots setting up a swift tempo which neatly underscored his thoughts as he headed for the Briefing Room. Sithspawn – with everything else going on, he'd completely forgotten about the briefing which was to take place. It was already over by the time he got there – people were leaving. Anakin swore under his breath and continued into the room. Obi-Wan was shutting down the projector, clearing away the data disks. He glanced up on hearing Anakin enter; "You missed the report on the Outer Rim sieges.
Anakin shrugged: "I'm sorry, I was held up. I have no excuse."
"In short, they are going very well," Obi-Wan told his former Padawan, shutting down the last of the equipment; "Saleucami has fallen, and Master Vos has moved his troops to Boz Pity."
That was good; Anakin had always rather liked Quinlan Vos, and had actually had a rather embarrassing crush on Quinlan's Padawan, Aayla, when he was fifteen. Something about the blue-skinned Twi'lek had always made him get- Anakin realised he was getting distracted…very distracted. Noting that Obi-Wan still seemed worried, he asked; "What's wrong, then?"
There was a pause before Obi-Wan replied; "The Senate is expected to vote more executive powers to the Chancellor today."
"Well, that can only mean less deliberating and more action," Anakin said, unable to see the problem; "Is that bad? It will make it easier for us to end this war."
"Anakin, be careful of your friend Palpatine," Obi-Wan said patiently, but not without a little sharpness in his tone. A lesser man would have been very frustrated by the younger man's apparent naïveté by now. True to his nature, Anakin sounded genuinely confused when he replied: "Be careful of what?"
Obi-Wan was silent for a moment, internally debating whether or not informing his former Padawan of he latest development. Eventually he said somewhat reluctantly: "He has requested your presence."
"He would not say."
"He didn't inform the Jedi Council?" Anakin said in confusion; "That's unusual, isn't it?"
"All of this is unusual, and it's making me feel uneasy," Obi-Wan replied, starting to get a little frustrated; "You're probably aware that relations between the Council and the Chancellor are stressed."
"I know the Council has grown wary of the Chancellor's power," Anakin retorted; "Mine also for that matter. Aren't we all working together to save the Republic? Why all this distrust?"
"The Force grows dark, Anakin, and we are all affected by it," Obi-Wan warned; "Be wary of your feelings."
Yeah, whatever. Anakin was sorely tempted to say something to that effect, but managed not to. People thought he had no self-restraint, but they would probably have been even more worried had they known that the reckless and hotheaded nature they were familiar with was Anakin with substantial self-restraint. They didn't know the half of how bad he really was. So Anakin exercised that self-restraint: he bowed perfunctorily and left the room again.
The walk to the Chancellor's Office was not a particularly long one on a planetary scale…but Anakin took his speeder anyway. Whether this was due to impatience or laziness was open to debate.
Some time later, Anakin made his way back to the Temple in a daze. The Council! He was on the Council. He would be a Master…the youngest Master in the history of the Order, if he was remembering the little he'd retained of his history lessons rightly. It was incredible…
Still…he doubted the current Council members would be pleased. Master Windu in particular wouldn't be happy. Anakin was glad that he would be spared the ordeal of informing the Council himself. He parked his speeder outside the Temple and walked inside. He wondered when the Council would be told he was to join them.
Little did he know they had already been told, and were discussing what to do at that very moment.
"I don't like it," Mace Windu said bluntly; "The boy has no place on this Council, and Palpatine has no right to tell us who to take on."
"I agree, but we must be diplomatic," Ki-Adi-Mundi, present only in holographic form, said placatingly; "It would be unwise to alienate one of our strongest and best-known Jedi in the middle of a war."
"That still doesn't alter the fact that-"
"We could use this situation to our advantage," Eeth Koth interjected; "Having a member of the Council – even one in name only – so close to the Chancellor could be very useful."
"Master Koth makes a good point," mused Ploo Koon, who was also visible as a hologram; "After all, we have been looking for a way to keep a closer eye on the Chancellor's private dealings…And now, as his 'representative', Skywalker has a perfectly good reason to take an interest in such things."
"Unsure of this, I am," Yoda said, shaking his head. He had thus far been silent, listening to the debate, but now he finally spoke; "Headstrong young Skywalker is, yes, but not without morals. Like the idea of spying, he will not."
"He is too much under the influence of the Chancellor," Mace Windu said; "Keeping an eye on Palpatine is a sensible precaution, but Skywalker will not see it that way."
"Master Kenobi, you know him best," Ki-Adi-Mundi said in an attempt to settle the argument; "How would you advise we handle this?"
Obi-Wan was silent for quite some time, every eye trained on him as he considered his answer. They needed someone to spy on Palpatine for them, this much was true, but…Anakin looked up to the Chancellor. Force only knew why, but he did. Asking him to betray – and that was how Anakin would see it – a man he respected would put the young Jedi under more strain than he could cope with. "It is true that Palpatine has…too much influence on Anakin," Obi-Wan said slowly; "It would not be…wise…to invite trouble by asking this of him. We should not contest the appointment, but I think it would also be a mistake to make Anakin a Master so soon." His ego needs no further fueling; "In the meantime, keep him away from Palpatine as much as we can without arousing suspicion."
"Agree with Master Kenobi, I do," Yoda said firmly; "Send for Skywalker we shall, and of our decision inform him."
"We should be prepared for a very negative reaction," Mace Windu warned the other Jedi.
"Surprise you, young Skywalker might," Yoda said cryptically.
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TO BE CONTINUED