Secret of the Sith

Title: Secret of the Sith

Author: Smenzer

Rating: PG

Pairing: None

Genre: Drama and mystery with a bit of horror

Teaser: Set during Episode 3, Anakin and Obi-Wan investigate a possible new Sith ability.

Disclaimer: The characters are not mine. They belong to George Lucas. This is just for fun.

Author's Note: I watched Episode III the other day (as I was watching all 8 dvds in order, one dvd a night – 8 because I include volumes 1 and 2 of Clone Wars) and thought up this crazy idea, mainly due to Ani's red eyes when he kills the Trade Federation guys. Palpy's new ugly look seems to fit with the idea, too, so here it is. Oh, this story will have a Twilight Zone twist to it. Totally AU of course.

000

Obi-Wan Kenobi left Dex's Diner and entered the busy stream of pedestrian traffic, his brown hood pulled up over his head. The pleasant meal and conversation with his old buddy Dex had been the only real enjoyable time he had had since the Clone Wars had started. It was always one problem after another, with no real rest in between. But at least Count Dooku was dead, the Sith cut down by his former Padawan. Anakin had passed his trials and was now a Jedi Knight. Still, Grievous was on the loose and was causing a ton of trouble. His airspeeder was parked just ahead and soon he would be on his way back to the Jedi Temple, his little mini vacation taking less than an hour.

Ever watchful, Obi-Wan scanned the crowds around him as he sensed something wasn't right. There was a disturbance in the Force, like a black inky stain that was rippling outward from this area. Focusing on it, he sensed it was nearby, down a side street. Turning, the Jedi moved in that direction. A wide collection of motley shops lined the street on both sides, selling everything from used Speederbikes to imported herbs and spices. The crowds here were thick, shoulder-to-shoulder and consisted of beings from a thousand worlds. They wore a wide variety of clothing, but more than half of the crowd had their faces hidden by cowls just as he did. Finding a single person in this crowd would test his Jedi abilities to the max and he was doubtful if he could succeed. Still, he had to try.

Could it be the other Sith he sensed? And had Count Dooku been the apprentice or the Master? The Jedi Council was sure the other Sith they were searching for was here, on Coruscant. Eyes narrowed, he scrutinized the moving traffic, searching for whatever it was he had sensed.

There!

A particular inky black robe seemed to grip his attention, his blue eyes locked on it. The person in question was on the far side of the street from where he was. Whoever it was, they moved through the bustling crowds quickly and with a grace that made Obi-Wan feel clumsy in comparison, the heavy traffic parting before the other like waves. The Jedi tried to push his way closer to the mysterious stranger that emitted Dark Side ripples, but the crowds around him didn't cooperate. He received sharp elbows to his stomach, rude expressions and shouts of outrage as he stepped on a few feet in his haste to move across the traffic lane at a diagonal. Hopping through a thin gap that appeared before him, he bumped into a woman and caused her to drop her pile of parcels. Apologizing as quickly as he could, he called the boxes to his hands with the Force before they could be trampled by the masses. Shoving them rudely into her arms, he tried to hurry on his way and almost ran headlong into a towering Wookie. He allowed the furry alien to pass and then jumped into another narrow gap between two humans moving in opposite directions. Desperate, he scanned for the possible Sith he had spotted.

For a long moment, Obi-Wan had feared he had lost his mysterious quarry, but then he saw the familiar black hood and the long swirling cloak again just ahead and to the side. The cloak flowed with a strange grace, swirling outward behind the stranger's black boots. The thought that it looked familiar, that he had seen it once before tugged at his mind but he dismissed it. Surely there were hundreds of cloaks that looked just like that one on Coruscant… "Blast! Why doesn't this crowd move for me as they do for him?"

Craning his neck to see over the heads of the crowd that still separated him from his target, the Jedi noticed that there was a narrow alley just ahead between two towering buildings. Worried that the Sith might attempt to disappear down the unfamiliar gap, Obi-Wan shoved his way forward. Luck was with him for a few brief seconds and a clear path opened almost to the other side of the bustling street. Dashing down it before it closed up again, the Jedi allowed a small smile of satisfaction. The maybe Sith was just ahead now, a few paces ahead of him.

Reaching the alley, the mysterious target turned and grinned at the Jedi.

Upon seeing the person's face, Obi-Wan stopped dead in his tracks, his mouth hanging agape. Those eyes, that face… "No, it can't be!"

In the few seconds of Obi-Wan's shock, the mysterious figure slipped into the alley and disappeared from sight.

Snapping out of his astonishment, Obi-Wan dashed to the mouth of the alley and peered within. The alley was short, no more than a few body lengths really and it dead ended against the side of another towering skyscraper. Yet there was not a single soul in sight!

"That can't be right! I saw him come in here!" Obi-Wan hurried into the alley, a wild look in his normally calm blue eyes. Carefully he scanned the three separate durasteel walls for openings and saw none at all. Nor were there any windows or obvious trapdoors on the floor. The three buildings were smack up against each other as well, so there wasn't even a fingerbreadth between them. In several places the steel-gray durasteel walls were marked with odd scribbings of graffiti, but the Jedi ignored the marks as unimportant to his search. Junk littered the alley as well: broken bottles, empty food containers, twisted scrap metal from broken droids and bits of old wires. Pieces of debris scraped against his boots and he kicked it away, annoyed. "Where the Sith did he go? People can't just vanish into the thin air!"

Rubbing his beard, the Jedi sighed. "Perhaps I'm starting to imagine things, for I possibly couldn't have seen who I thought I did…"

Giving the alley a final look, he turned around and departed reluctantly back towards his airspeeder. His thoughts in turmoil, he climbed into the vehicle and lifted upward into the traffic lanes. Should he report this sighting to his fellow Jedi Council members or should he remain silent? Although he was now on the Council, he never had felt all that sure of himself and had always second-guessed his own actions. Often in battle this didn't occur, but in other situations like this…

"They'll probably think I've gone crazy, snapped from too much war…" the Jedi muttered to himself. And what if it was true? He had just gone through a nerve-wracking ship crashing where they had saved the Chancellor and landed just a half of ship. Who wouldn't be affected by something like that? But then, he was a Jedi and near death experiences were practically an everyday occurrence.

Still, he should tell someone, get it off his shoulders. Who should he tell? He thought about the matter as he landed in his familiar parking space at the Jedi Temple and jumped out of the speeder. Deciding on Anakin, Obi-Wan reached out with the Force to determine where his companion turned brother was. Feeling out his location was a snap and so he set out towards their quarters. Technically Anakin had his own quarters now that he was a full Jedi Knight but sometimes he preferred his old Padawan room, which didn't bother Obi-Wan at all really. He just wished the two of them could be a bit closer, as sometimes he worried that Anakin had problems that he was keeping bottled up inside. What those could be, Obi-Wan had no idea but it was clear something was troubling his young friend.

Reaching his quarters, the Jedi palmed the door open and went in. "Anakin, could I speak to you for a moment?"

"What is it, Master?" Anakin asked as he appeared from his old bedroom, looking tired. His face was drawn and there appeared to be dark circles under his eyes, circles that hadn't been there just the other day.

"Anakin, are you all right?" Obi-Wan asked, concerned and truly surprised. Had landing the ship strained him more than he had known? Or had it been the long hours with the politicians, praising him for rescuing the Supreme Chancellor? "I haven't seen you this tired in a long, long time…"

"I just had a bad dream the other night, that's all. I didn't get very much sleep after that I'm afraid…" Anakin admitted as he lowered himself onto the small sofa in Obi-Wan's quarters. "I'll be OK, I just thought that sleeping here…"

"Well, you're welcome here anytime you want, of course." Obi-Wan said warmly as he lowered himself onto the sofa next to his former apprentice. "Do you want to tell me about it? It might make you feel better…"

"I already spoke to Master Yoda and he relieved some of my anxieties…" Anakin replied as he shifted slightly so he could see Obi-Wan better. "Did you want to discuss something? Is there any news on General Grievous? He was right there, before us! I should have sliced him down when I had the chance! If only I had been faster, this war would be over already…."

Anakin hung his head, his shoulder-length wavy brown hair hiding his face somewhat.

"Is that's what's troubling you, Anakin, that Grievous got away?" Obi-Wan asked, concerned. "None of us are perfect. Why, I even find myself questioning my own sanity…"

Anakin raised his head quickly at the words, surprise clear in his blue eyes. "You, Master? But you're the most stable, sane Jedi I know!"

"I'm not so sure about that…" Obi-Wan remarked glumly. Although he trusted Anakin with his life, he had never been very good at sharing his thoughts and feelings, and now doubt chewed at his mind and soul. "I don't even know if I should tell you this…"

"Tell me." Anakin pleaded, imploring with his eyes as he reached out and grasped Obi-Wan's hand. "I won't think you're insane, if that's what's troubling you…"

The older Jedi glanced down at how Anakin gripped his hand and sighed. Anakin had always been one of those touchy-feely people while he preferred to remain untouched, unless touching was required. He supposed the young man's odd habits were the result of living on Tatooine and actually having a mother for many long years. Still, he felt ridiculous spilling this, as he knew intellectually it was impossible. "I … I thought I saw Darth Maul today…"

"Maul?" Anakin gasped, shocked. "I thought you killed Maul, sliced him in half…"

"I did!" Obi-Wan pulled his hand away and leaned back against the sofa's firm but soft backing, his arms crossed against his chest. The Jedi frowned. He remembered the fateful lightsaber battle all too clearly, the events scorched into his brain. Maul had killed Qui-Gon and had almost killed him as well, but he had managed to prevail at the last moment, slicing the evil Sith in half at the waist. Maul had never expected the move at all and had died with a stunned look of disbelief on his face. "I don't understand it any better than you, but I'm certain it was him. He had the same dark feel to him, that same swirling cloak…"

"Could it have been some other alien that just looked like Maul?" Anakin asked as he sought the most likely explanation.

"That's the first thing I thought of, but he had the Dark Side with him. I could feel its dark inky presence and that's why I started down that crowded street, to seek out its owner…" Obi-Wan rubbed his forehead, suddenly feeling very tired and exhausted. "He stopped before an alley and he turned to grin at me, as if he were baiting me on. But when I reached the mouth of the alley just a few heartbeats later, it was … empty. It was a dead-end, too. I searched for secret doors or openings, but I found nothing. It's as if he had vanished into the very air itself, like a ghost you see on some holovision movie…"

Anakin blinked his eyes, his face thoughtful as if he was thinking of something. "Perhaps … could the Sith have abilities the Jedi don't know? Maybe they have found some way to beat … death itself?"

"I doubt that." Obi-Wan huffed in annoyance. "But it's as good an explanation as anything else. I just hope it's not really possible, because if it is, we'll be up to our necks in Sith!"

Anakin leaned forward slightly. "Are you going to report this to the Jedi Council?"

"And have them think I'm insane?" Obi-Wan shook his head sadly. It had taken all of his courage to tell Anakin. He then turned his thoughts to the wonderful meal he had eaten at Dex's, including a single glass of his favorite alcoholic beverage. He didn't drink alcohol all that much, but on occasion he indulged in a drink or two. Surely the small glass of blue beverage hadn't been enough to make him intoxicated? No, he had been clear headed when he had seen and felt the person. "I did have a drink at Dex's…"

"And you can handle drinks very well, Master." Anakin replied honestly, his chin rose slightly. "I think you should research this possible Sith ability in the Jedi Archives. You excel at researching, far better than I do…"

Obi-Wan sprang forward, his blue eyes glowing with hope. "Yes, that's it! I'll research all the old Sith legends and myths to see if there is even the faintest reference to this odd thing I have witnessed today! Perhaps then I'll have something to tell the Council without appearing a total nutcase."

"I'll look into the matter as well…" Anakin said as he stood, stretching his muscles slightly. "Tomorrow. It's late and I need to get some sleep. If I find out anything, I'll be sure to tell you."

"Get some rest, my friend." Obi-Wan stood and laid a hand on Anakin's shoulder, feeling slightly better. Still, the idea that the Sith could do such a thing was profoundly disturbing. Surely it had just been a figment of his imagination? Obi-Wan followed Anakin to his old bedroom in their quarters. "Thank you for listening."

After watching Anakin disappear into his bedroom, Obi-Wan turned around and left his quarters for the Jedi Archives. He wasn't tired at all and a few hours of quiet research was just the thing he needed before retiring for the night. Over the years he must have spent thousands of hours buried deep in the datachip stacks the Archive housed, seeking out bits of arcane information. Truthfully, he enjoyed it. That was one of the reasons why he and Anakin made such a great team together. He enjoyed researching a mission while Anakin excelled at the more physical aspects: flying vehicles, fighting and so forth.

Still, he had thought he had known everything about the Sith… He remembered researching the Sith after Qui-Gon had fought that very first duel against Maul on Tatooine. There hadn't been very much, mainly just that the Sith used greed, anger and other dark emotions instead of the lighter feelings. Nor did the Jedi Archives carry detailed information on Sith beliefs, their studies or anything of that nature. Hurrying down the wide and gently curving staircase, Obi-Wan reached the doors to the Archives and passed within.

The elderly Librarian, a former Jedi Knight too old now for active duty, greeted him. "How may I help you this evening, Master Kenobi?"

"I need information on the Sith." He stated calmly to her, a gentle smile on his face. "Do we have anything beyond the common everyday facts on them?"

"I believe there are a few datachips on them in the Forbidden Section." She replied as she started to walk deep into the Jedi Archives.

Obi-Wan followed her, surprised. "We .. we have a Forbidden Section?"

"Yes, it's only for the Jedi Council members." She replied as she led him to a second durasteel door that sat just behind her librarian desk. Punching a code into the keypad right next to the door, it hissed open. "Even I'm not allowed in, but it's arranged in alphabetical order or so I've been told by my predecessor. There is also a number of datachip readers within, as the chips themselves are not allowed out of the room."

"Very well." Obi-Wan bowed to her politely and vanished into the new room. He had seen the door many times on his visit to the Archives but just had presumed it was a small room for the librarian's use. The door hissed shut behind him and he paused a moment to get his bearings. The room was much smaller than the regular archives, but still held a decent number of shelves. Quickly find the section that held the "S" subjects, he found a few datachips on the Sith. Grabbing them off the shelf, he made his way to a reader. It appeared for the moment that he had the entire Forbidden Section to himself, the room as silent as a tomb. Sitting down before the computer, Obi-Wan stuck the first datachip into the reader and called up its contents onto the screen. The words 'Types of Sith' jumped out at him.

"Types of Sith?" Obi-Wan asked the empty room as an odd feeling settled into the pit of his stomach. "I thought all Sith were the same, more or less…"

There are two types of Sith. The first type is the most common and are Jedi that have fallen to the Dark Side due to forbidden emotions such as anger, hatred and greed. While difficult to defeat, they are easier to combat than the second type.

The second type is the Sith Lords that had ruled the galaxy over a thousand years ago, soaking the known worlds in blood and misery. Not many verified facts exist on them and accounts are varied, most collected from bits of myth and legend. Some human Sith Lords claimed to be several thousands of years old, but that is hard to believe. These Sith Lords were raised as Sith and seem to have had special supernatural abilities. Of course, the Jedi themselves could claim to have supernatural abilities as seen from the eyes of uneducated peoples. Many accounts insist these Sith could actually fly without the help of any devices and that they could literally hang in the air, suspended by nothing but their powers. They seemed to be immune to most weapons and hardly ever received physical wounds no matter how severely they were attacked. Their Dark Side powers were especially strong and could inflict huge amounts of damage on their opponents with just a thought – or so rumors say. Others rumors say that a rare gene may be responsible for these abilities. There are even a few myths that claim limbs that were chopped off would either regrow or reattach themselves, but this is often dismissed due to hysteria.

It is not known if fallen Jedi can become the second type of Sith Lord, but most believe it is not possible.

Obi-Wan sat back in his chair and rubbed his beard, thinking. Could Maul have been this second type of Sith and no one had known? Had he actually been the Sith Master and Dooku had been his apprentice? He certainly had moved incredibly fast and smooth, that was for certain! In all his years as a Jedi, Obi-Wan had never seen anyone move so effortlessly, as if he had been gliding across the floor without effort. But how much of this information was fact and not just myth? There was no way to separate one from another, as the information from that dark time was incredibly spotty.

Could that dark time be returning? Would the streets once again run red with blood? And did that just simply mean war as they had now or did it mean something far worst? The records weren't exactly clear…

Standing, Obi-Wan called the datachips back to his hand as an icy chill ran down his back. This was truly disturbing news, even if it may be only made-up half-believed stories. If a Sith could truly live thousands of years and regrow limbs, why, they would be practically immortal!

"Perhaps its time I report this to the Jedi Council."

Obi-Wan replaced the chips on their shelf and then left the Jedi Archives in search of Master Yoda. He had read enough to convince himself that the figure of Maul he had seen must have been this second type of Sith. Surely Yoda would know what to do.

To be continued…

Author's Note: Just one more chapter should be enough to complete this story.