A/N 1: This is a reworking of 'Jump' by skywalker05. That story will be edited and extended by ArgenteusDraco and skywalker05.

A/N 2: The Star Wars canon and all related names, places, events and previously published dialogue belong to Mr. George Lucas. The original idea for this fic, the quote as in the summary, came from my brother. The name Ruen came in part from my Padawan. skywalker


Teaser Chapter

Anakin Skywalker remembered some of the feel of the old skill in this new place, the underbelly of Cloud City. It seemed to him that when Mustafar had charred his body some of his midi-chlorians had burned away too. Now Anakin inhabited the body of what he had always feared to be, an eternal Padawan. But when the Sith Lord slammed down from above out of hiding, Anakin still could meet the red lightsaber with his own blue. They fenced--block, twist-- both of them on a wide, corrugated corridor now, the heat seeming to search for the synthflesh patches still needed on his skin.

He was driven back, room to passage down to an alcove where an enormous window, artistically and fearfully styled, looked out on expanse, probably a reactor shaft. Darth Ruen paced forward, removed one hand from his lightsaber, and gestured. Anakin rushed forward, taking his opportunity to the younger man's lowered guard, but he was buffeted aside by something metal colliding with his side, pushing him away. He staggered. Metal tore and flew from the walls, almost gently pushing him around, bruising him--but the Sith would not let him die yet, and Qui-Gon had long since dissuaded him from working toward that eventual release. Darth Ruen retreated into the shadows, a twisted smile coming to his lips.

Anakin whipped hair out of his face in the maelstrom of Force-pungency and metal components hurtling off the walls. He stepped aside from a thick conduit and bisected it with his lightsaber, watching, always tracking as -- one half crashed through the window, and even while he ran back and crouched away from the glass the natural wind picked up, cold, and threw him off balance, off his feet, out into the void--!

He tumbled, but caught the railing of a catwalk stretching out into the reactor shaft. The world stopped blurring. He quickly pulled himself onto the solid surface, heart pounding. The abyss gaped around him. A trapezoidal door to his left lead to a control room.

Darth Ruen paced toward him through that door, red-edged cloak flaring around his black silhouette in the rare air of the shaft, and Anakin again lifted his aching arms with the lit sword.

They came together, clash clash. Sparks rained from the railing of the catwalk, victim of their clumsiness, Anakin's old weakness and Ruen's inhibition — and why was he inhibited? He faced the hero of the Rebellion, his ultimate opposition, and still Anakin had the feeling that he was being toyed with.

One deft move of Ruen's lightsaber took Anakin's left hand and lightsaber off at the wrist.

He had to realize what had happened, realize that he was screaming, lying weak at the Sith's feet. He lifted his hand of metal to grasp the Force, but its filaments slipped through the fingers of his mind and dilute blood. Ruen lifted Anakin on lines of energy the Jedi could barely feel, and slammed him against the cluster of sensor tubes at the walkway's end, high above anything. Anakin found a low handhold and would not release it, and tried to ignore his maimed arm, tried not to wretch, even though he was, by this point, almost numb to the idea of losing a hand. It hurt more the first time…

Darth Ruen, his sword put away, stood on the catwalk and towered over Anakin. "You are beaten." He said evenly, quietly. "There is no escape. Join me, and we will rule the galaxy together as the last Sith." He stretched a black-gloved hand out toward Anakin, human and yet monster-eyed.

Anakin struggled up and out of the way of his foe's reach, farther around on his precarious perch and farther away from the safe ground. So I must jump again…

He shouted, "I'll never join you!"

Ruen folded his arms over his chest. Calmly, emotionlessly, he said, "Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your child."

Anakin fought the hate and the tears in his eyes. If only he could leap, strike, control his younger self's unstoppable -- enough looking back at the dead. "'He told me enough. He told me your Master killed it. He went and found--"

Ruen spoke softly over Anakin's shouting. "No, Anakin. I am your son."

Anakin had come too far to speak. He jumped again--