Disclaimer: Hey, guess what? I have nothing to do with owning any part of Star Wars. I am making no money off of this.
Author's Note: This website has some wonky things wrong with its uploading format and won't let you put more than one space between paragraphs. How annoying.

Immolation
by: TangledAria

i.

The Dark Side.

You still remember your first taste of it, the first time you immersed yourself in that black flame and were wholly consumed. You were remade in that fire, the weakness in you burnt away so all that was left was skin and bone, and a power beyond your imagination.

Oh, you had tasted that power before, always in fear or anger and never intentionally. Hanging from a precarious perch, a masked villain reaching out his hand for you, Join me, and a fear like nothing you had ever felt before reaching up to steal your breath away. It had come to you then. When you had reached for the comfort and security of the Force, you had found only the fire and heat of the Dark Side. You had tried to cast it away, to deny it entry into your heart, your soul. But it had gained a foothold, it seems. Imaginary claws and teeth digging deep into your weak human flesh.

But it was nothing like the real thing.

In that city of clouds and desperation, you had felt the heat of the flames and had reached out your hands to seize that power. But something had pulled you back. You had chosen death instead, and that suicidal desperation had chased the darkness away.

But it had found its way into your heart somehow, creeping in like some insidious disease, tunneling in like a sarlaac in the sand. It rotted your heart from the inside out, and you are nothing but a shell now, full of terrible, terrible power.

ii.

You remember the first time you reached for it. The first time you decided. In the Emperor's throne room, you knew there was no way the Light would be able to combat such a fearsome foe. You toyed with the idea of death again, thought to harness that suicidal desperation one last time. But you found that life was something you no longer wanted to do without. And in that admission, you realized that the desperation you had once felt no longer had any power. You could not fool the darkness; it knew that you would never willing give up your life again.

So instead, you made a conscious decision. You plunged your hands into that darkness, let it sink beneath your skin and slip into your veins where it twisted through you and dug its terrible black claws into your bones. And you were transformed. That black fire burnt away what was left of your Light. The useless Light that promised so much and delivered nothing. You were better without it; lighter, faster, more powerful without it weighing you down. The fire grows still, consuming more and more of your flesh, your heart, your soul. But you need none of those things now. When they have all burned up, you turn to lust and fear and hate and death.

iii.

You can kill anyone now. You usually do. In fact, you cannot remember a time when, confronted with a willing sacrifice, you didn't oblige.

They start coming out of the woodwork after you turn. Would-be assassins that the Rebellion hasn't officially sent and then the ones that they do. You can see your sister's touch in some of them, boys and girls with blond hair and baby fat in their cheeks, and if it's supposed to be a reminder of who you were, of what she loved best about you, well, it's a reminder of how weak you really were. If that's what she wants: for you to be weak and useless, then you guess she never really loved you at all.

The ones that you enjoy the most, the ones who don't pull at the tiny bit of humanity you haven't burnt away yet, are the thrillseekers, the gloryseekers who think that by killing you they will be making a name for themselves. You toy with them because it amuses you and helps to pass the time. They get closer and closer, hounds after the scent, only to realize too late that the scent they have been following has been false, and the only prize that awaits them is a long, agonizing death.

iv.

Sometimes you can still feel her through the tenuous connection between you. On that edge of consciousness, just before you wake, just before you fall asleep, when your control is at its weakest. Usually she is crying. Not like that cold face she shows the world, the heart turned hard and impervious to any pain you can cause. She whispers sometimes, "Come back, come back, come back."

When her children get old enough, she sends them after you. You stay your hand at first, let them chase you across half the galaxy. But they are tenacious, and it makes you smile because they are just like her. You wound one as a warning and when that doesn't work, you kill the other. They were twins, and you think that is the most fitting. The girl screams her rage at you from halfway across the galaxy and you know, one day she will join you in this cold, empty castle of metal and stars.

But for now, your sister leaves you alone. The connection between you is severed, gone forever. There is an ache from somewhere deep down, a place you thought dark and long dead. It reminds you that you still have work to do. If you do not master this wonderfully fatal, dark power, then it will master you.

You feed that feeling to the fire that has consumed your heart.

v.

You actually laugh when that old smuggler turns up. How he managed to find you, you have no idea. Better yet, how he managed to escape the watchful eye of your sister is the real miracle. Or maybe that's the trick - your first real friend, a semi-father figure where there had been none before - trying to convince you that you're walking down a dark path. But even if you are your father's son, Han Solo is nowhere near Obi-Wan Kenobi. And you are too far down that path to turn back now.

That's your first impression, at least, to see obvious deception where none exists because that's simply how your sister is. But men, of course, fathers and friends and brothers, are different. You can see him for what he truly is. You look down at him with your black, pitiless eyes and see what is unseen, the hate that burns in your friend's heart.

You try goading him, telling him how his son screamed and choked on his own blood before dying with your lightsaber in his heart. But your old friend is silent. The fire of his hatred never dims. You revel in it.

He is still good with that blaster, even after all these years. You spend far too much time deflecting blaster bolts. But a blaster is no match for a lightsaber and the power of the dark side. It is a sweet delight, to slowly take his life away. A near miss with your lightsaber that could easily kill him, but you hold back and turn the blade aside. The crackling of lightning from your fingertips, making that body curl in on itself, bones cracking and tendons snapping. He is a mess when you are done with him, blood and tears pouring from his eyes. But he smiles up at you. "I had to try, you know," he says. "I thought I might save her the pain, might save her from herself."

"My sister," you hiss.

A slow nod. "She will never stop chasing you now. She will hunt you down, even if it means the destruction of everything. She will destroy the universe if it means stopping you."

"Your daughter," you tell him. "She will be mine, I have seen it." A lie, a cruel attempt at breaking an old friend's heart.

"Never."

You draw back. He has seen into the heart of you somehow, looked into the emptiness of your soul and found some light at the very bottom.

"I'll see you around, Luke," Han Solo says. "Maybe in the afterlife, huh?"

It makes you smile, for the first time in a long time. "Will you wait for me in hell?"

A small grin. His eyes close and he breathes his last.

vi.

They won't let her be president after that. Or maybe she is, a figurehead to rally the troops, but the death of a spouse is enough to drive anyone mad.

The man that greets you over the Holonet is weak, a fool. "Supreme Chancellor and Emperor," he says. "I am honored to make your acquaintance."

"Where is my sister?" you ask, a demand and a threat.

The man swallows hard. What has happened to the Mon Mothmas of the universe, the General Rieekens? If this is a victory, then it is empty. They cannot have capitulated this easily. The Republic he knows is relentless and uncompromising.

You wave a hand dismissively. You will not give him a chance to surrender. "I will ruin every planet you inhabit, destroy every galaxy under your power until you stop me." You smile and the other man shivers. "And the only way you can stop me is to kill me."

The next Republic representative that greets you is a scarred man in a General's uniform with flat, dead eyes. He doesn't say his name or waste time with false pleasantries. "We will give you no quarter. We will never willingly give up a single star system. We will not stop until you are dead to the last man."

You tip your head in mocking salute and break the connection without a single word. Finally, you think. The dance begins anew.

vii.

After that, you spend month after month, year after year standing on the bridge of your flagship, watching planets die, listening to the death rattle of a million voices. It has become impersonal. There is no one left who knew you as you were before. No one to remember your glorious transformation.

The darkness is beginning to catch up with you. The boredom makes it restless. If there is nothing left for it to consume, then it will consume you. A thrill of fear washes through you and that is a feeling you have not felt in some time. It pacifies the darkness, a drop of water in an endless desert.

You shift nervously, shrugging your shoulders to shake off a twinge that isn't there. You are growing paranoid, feeling eyes on your back. You catch an ensign at the comm looking up at you from under a bowed head. You strike him down with your lightsaber and when a lieutenant behind you gasps, you pick her up with the Force and smash her into a bulkhead.

It releases the tension between your shoulders and you sigh as you stalk off the bridge.

viii.

At first, you think it is some remnant of the Force. Or maybe the severed connection between you and your sister is opening again, tendrils of energy slipping through. After all, you never did find out what happened to her. But it is not the same feeling as your sister's Force presence. Similar, but different. Perhaps she has changed. Has she experienced the same transformation that you have?

You set your tech people onto her trail. She cannot be far. You thought the connection between you was dead. She must be close indeed if you can sense it again.

It is a nervous man who give you the news. The Republic executed your sister nearly five years ago.

You scream your rage across the universe. You destroy ships in mid-air, crush throats on planets you can't even see, send your Star Destoyers to any and all galaxies, burning a path of destruction unlike the universe has ever seen.

Your only consolation is that the darkness in you is quiet once again, a seething presence that you hold in your power instead a fire that licks at the wasted remains of your body.

ix.

You have almost won. It is within your grasp - the complete and utter defeat of the Republic. You are so confident, so concentrated on your near victory that you nearly fail to sense him. The dark warns you, like a lover whispering in your ear. You stretch out your senses and find him - the Force presence you felt those long months ago.

You smile like you haven't smiled in months. The riddle has been solved, the puzzle untangled. He is Leia's son. A skilled opponent that has nearly disguised himself completely. If the darkness hadn't warned you, you might never have sensed him - if you had still been chained down by the Light, he would have waltzed onto your ship and killed you without even trying.

But that is why you cast the Light aside all those years ago.

You wait in your chambers, surrounded by black marble and red guards.

He makes his way to you, the doors opening in front of him and you rise to greet him. The boy has dark hair and brown eyes. And this close, you can smell the blood in him - your sister and your best friend, a child they had managed to hide from you for all their lives.

"We are kin, you and I," you say as way of greeting.

"I am kin to no one," he answers.

"Your name," you say, a demand not a request.

"Solo," he says.

You smile, a smile that has made star systems surrender without a single shot fired, a smile that has struck down men and women just because of the fear it produced. "I know that," you say. "Your first name, so that I may know my nephew's name before I kill him."

"Anakin," he says and the darkness inside you recoils at this. You are reminded of your father, and the darkness is reminded of one of the best students it ever had.

Your lightsaber in your hand, bathing your face in a blood-red glow. The boy has a blue blade and a short knife in his belt.

You wait, tall and foreboding on the higher ground. The boy flourishes his blade and starts up the stairs. Lightning sparks from your fingers. He tangles it on his blade and lifts his hand to push you back. Your feet slide a few inches backwards but you do not fall. He does not arrest his headlong rush and you smile. This will be easier than you thought; his father presented more of a challenge than this. He throws his lightsaber and you pull it into your hand. You cross the blades, aiming for his throat. He pulls his knife from his belt and ducks low to stab you in the stomach. You let him because it will only bring him closer to his own death.

He stabs you and you laugh. No mortal weapon can kill you. "If you think you can stop me-" It races through your veins, burning like the sun on a summer day, like a lover's kiss, like a child's laugh.

He straightens in front of you, and you can see that he, too, has hardly broken a sweat. A clever ruse, the legacy of a consummate politician. "It was on a dead moon in an uncharted galaxy in the Outer Rim," he tells you calmly. "The blade is made of pure Light. They used it on Dark Jedi to bring them back to the Light. It acts like a shock to the system, cleaning it of the Dark for one brief moment. They say that it can save even the Darkest Jedi."

You cannot speak, cannot breathe. The pain drives you to your knees. You fall to your back and arch against the deck plates.

He sinks to his knees next to you, one hand on your convulsing shoulder. "But I knew you could never be saved."

This is it, you think, as your vision bursts like a star gone supernova. The terrible Light that promised so much and delivered so little is consuming your black soul, devouring your black heart.

He leans over you, hand still on your shoulder, eyes studying your face in curiosity and you know he sees his mother in your features.

"You've killed me," you say with a smile. "Your mother would be proud."

"They are waiting for you," he says softly, a kindness you don't deserve.

But you have not turned back to the Light and there is no one waiting for you. No happy line of dead family, no sister, no best friend, no father, no mentor. You haven't sacrificed yourself for anyone; there was no one left to save.

There is only the dark with its wide, hungry jaws. The dark that holds its black arms open in a tender embrace. You let yourself sink into that endless abyss.

You will fall forever.

finis