Chapter 6

Two months later

Ahsoka and her master were investigating the murder of Senator Riyo Chuchi. She'd been headed to her home on Pantora when someone had intercepted her cruiser, murdered all of her guards and then killed her as well. However she'd managed to get a distress signal to Ahsoka and Anakin who fortunately had been near Chuchi's location so they went to investigate. They went in the Twilight as usual bringing Rex and some of the more experienced clones with them.

They all landed in the hanger to find the bodies of clones and droids scattered around. Both Ahsoka and Anakin could sense that whoever or whatever had led this attack was still here, so they stuck together as they explored the ship.

They found dead clones in the corridors too and a hole in a ventilation pipe that looked like it had been cut by a lightsaber.

'Do you think it's Ventress?' Ahsoka asked remembering when the Rattataki assassin had infiltrated the Tranquility almost a year ago.

'I don't think so,' said Anakin, 'The dark aura in the Force is different. Let's keep moving.' He didn't mention that he could sense the presence of a certain Bounty Hunter. He didn't need to because Ahsoka could sense it too.

When they reached the reactor room they were ambushed. Five assassin droids leapt down from above blocking the way out. Then a white skinned woman with long orange hair tied in a ponytail landed in front of them. It was the Bounty Hunter Aurra Sing. And beside her was…

'Bane…' Ahsoka hissed glaring at the Bounty Hunter in hatred. All the dark memories came flooding into her. She was shaking not with fear but with rage.

'How are you doing sweetheart?' Bane asked smirking, 'You've grown. I'd like a chance to have some pleasure with you like last time but since you're not bound to a table this time I doubt you'll let me. Sing if you please?'

'Certainly,' Sing said and a red lightsaber flared into life. Ahsoka's green blade ignited (her 'new' lightsaber was almost identical to her old one) and Anakin ignited his blue lightsaber.

'You're going to pay for what you did to my Padawan, Bane,' Anakin vowed. Bane chucked quietly and Sing leapt towards Anakin who blocked the blow with ease. At the same time an assassin droid fired at Anakin's unprotected back but Ahsoka leapt between the bolt and her master sending the bolt straight back at the droid who dodged. Rex and the other clones started firing but the droids were agile and dodged the bolts with frustrating speed. Bane watched the fight with a smirk. Occasionally he would fire a shot into the fray, taking down a couple of clones but other than that he stayed out of the fighting.

Ahsoka sliced down an assassin droid while Anakin continued to duel with Sing. Then she charged at Bane her eyes burning with barely suppressed rage. Rex noticed this and followed her. Bane turned and ran out into a corridor. The blast doors closed.

'Bloody coward,' Rex growled covering Ahsoka from the assassin droids while she started to burn through the door with her lightsaber. Anakin seemed to have gained an advantage over Sing but the Bounty Hunter wasn't backing down. The other clones were shooting at the assassin droids distracting them from Anakin and from Ahsoka and Rex.

Ahsoka blasted the slab of metal she'd cut down the hall with the Force and leapt into the hall. Instantly blaster bolts zoomed towards her from Bane who was at a junction in the corridor. Ahsoka batted away the bolts and Rex returned fire but Bane disappeared behind the junction. Ahsoka followed him and found a door at the other end. She entered the room cautiously and Rex came behind her.

It was a cargo hold with food and supplies for the people that had been on this ship before Bane and Sing murdered them. It was dark but Ahsoka's lightsaber cast an eerie green light on the room and Rex switched on his headlights. Ahsoka was alert for the slightest sound or movement.

Then a shot vibrated in her montrals and she spun around as a bolt flew towards her out of the darkness. The bolt bounced off her lightsaber and disappeared into the shadows. Rex fired his pistols but Bane had clearly gone from the spot because he hit nothing.

'Rex, switch on the light,' Ahsoka ordered still alert for the Bounty Hunter. Rex hurried over to the door and switched on the light.

The cargo hold was larger than Ahsoka had first thought with shelves piled with food, drink, medical supplies etc. Bane could be hiding anywhere.

Cautiously Ahsoka and Rex crept through the room. Then Ahsoka heard a beeping noise and to her horror noticed a grenade had been tossed from behind a shelf. The explosion tore through the cargo hold knocking shelves over like dominos and all the supplies toppled out. Rex threw himself in front of Ahsoka grabbing her and holding her to his chest in a bear hug, shielding her from the blast with his body. The explosion sent them both flying backwards and they crashed to the ground hard. Ahsoka was winded and her body throbbed with pain but thanks to Rex she was still alive and she could still move. The clone was lying a few inches away from her. Half his armour had been blown away including his helmet but he was still alive.

'Rex!' Ahsoka cried trying to check how bad the damage was but she stopped when she heard a cold chuckle.

'How noble,' said Cad Bane stepping out from the dust and smoke the explosion had left, 'he shields you at the cost of his own pathetic, expendable life.' Ahsoka tried to get up but fell back in pain.

'He's not pathetic,' she panted, 'or expendable. He's a better man than you could ever be.' Bane's smirk widened and he pointed his gun at Rex and without a word or hesitation, fired. The bolt hit Rex in the head killing him instantly!

Ahsoka stared at Rex's body in shock hardly able to believe what had just happened. It had happened so suddenly that she felt stunned and was unable to comprehend that Rex was dead. She felt no grief at the moment only disbelief. Rex had been so tough, so brave and always a survivor. She'd been confident that he'd be one of the people that would survive this war but now he was dead and she hadn't even had a chance to say goodbye to him.

'Coward!' she screamed at Bane who was laughing quietly but mockingly, 'He was defenceless! You didn't even give him a chance to fight back!' Bane stopped laughing and his eyes narrowed slightly at being called a coward but he hid the anger with a sneer.

'Do I look like I care,' he jeered and aimed his pistol at her head. 'Your turn sweetheart,' he said softly but Ahsoka released a Force Push hurling the Duros backwards. Bane would have had his spine shattered if it weren't for several large bags filled with packets of food from one of the fallen shelves. Despite being cushioned by the bags he was badly winded. While he gasped for breath Ahsoka struggled to her feet grimacing as the movement sent pain through her body but a combination of fury and willpower kept her upright. She summoned her lightsaber and ignited it before turning to the Bounty Hunter as he tried to get up still wincing in pain.

Ahsoka had never felt so much hatred in her life. She loathed Bane more than Asajj Ventress, General Grievous and Count Dooku combined; she loathed him so much she almost felt as though she'd been injected with another of Dooku's toxins. When she spoke, however her voice was surprisingly calm.

'You're dead Bane,' she said, 'You raped me and then killed one of my closest friends.' Her eyes darkened and for the first time ever Bane felt genuinely scared of the Padawan. She was young, she was small and until now he'd merely considered her a child who was out of her depth, a toy for him to play with whenever he had the chance. Now he realised that she was no toy and she was far more than a mere child; she was a warrior and an angry one at that. Not two minutes ago she'd been on the receiving end of an explosion but somehow she was on her feet and her expression told Bane that she would kill him or die trying. 'I'M GOING TO KILL YOU!!!' Ahsoka screamed, her self-control snapping entirely. This man had flirted with her when they first met, tried to suffocate her in the vacuum of space, kidnapped innocent children, raped her and killed one of her closest friends. Ahsoka forgot all about the Jedi code and her brain shut down except for a single thought; take that bastard down!

Ahsoka hurled herself forwards lightsaber blazing. She was so angry that she could barely feel the throbbing pain in her body. Bane fired with both of his pistols but Ahsoka's lightsaber blurred and every bolt was deflected without Ahsoka consciously thinking about it. Bane tried to ignite his rocket boots and fly away but Ahsoka was too fast. Her lightsaber slashed through the air and Bane howled in agony as both of his hands were severed at the wrists and flew across the room still holding the pistols. Without hesitation, without stopping to consider that Bane was defenceless, Ahsoka turned her back, switched to the Shien grip and used a reverse lunge to stab Bane directly in the chest!

Bane's eyes widened in shock and he gasped. Ahsoka pulled out the lightsaber feeling a savage (and un-Jedi like) pleasure from killing the Bounty Hunter. Bane collapsed onto his knees gasping painfully, his red eyes wide with shock as he stared up at her. Ahsoka looked down at him feeling nothing except a savage satisfaction. Then the Duros fell flat on his face and lay still. He was dead.

The savage satisfaction died away and was replaced by grief as Ahsoka staggered back to Rex's body and checked desperately for any signs of life even though she knew it was hopeless.

'Oh Rex I'm so sorry,' she sobbed hugging his body close to her and crying into his shoulder. Ahsoka hadn't considered him an expendable clone she'd considered him a friend. He'd been a warrior more interested in fighting than anything else but he also had a softer side which he rarely displayed to anyone except her. She continued to cry for several minutes. Finally it was over and she kissed the dead clone on the cheek, 'Goodbye Rex,' she said even though she knew he couldn't hear her. She stayed beside the clone until Anakin and three other clones found her.

'Ahsoka,' said Anakin then looked at the body of Rex.

'I'm sorry Master,' Ahsoka whispered. Anakin looked at Rex's body then noticed the corpse of Cad Bane. He examined the corpse carefully. Bane had been known to fake his death before but this time Anakin was certain that the Bounty Hunter was truly dead.

'You killed him,' he said emotionlessly then he managed the ghost of a smile, 'Ahsoka you did it. You killed him!'

'What happened to the other one?' Ahsoka asked.

'Aurra Sing? She fled,' Anakin said dismissively then put a hand on Ahsoka's shoulder, 'Well done Ahsoka.'

'Well done?' Ahsoka said staring at him, 'Rex is dead.'

'But so is Bane,' Anakin said. Ahsoka could see he was just as upset as she was about Rex's death but was trying to hide it. 'With victory comes sacrifice. You did well.' Ahsoka suddenly felt guilty. She'd disregarded the Jedi Code and killed Bane in a fit of rage. Worst of all she'd felt satisfaction from killing the Bounty Hunter.

'I gave into my anger though,' she mumbled, 'I killed Bane in a fit of rage.'

'I know,' Anakin said, 'I sensed you're rage while I was duelling Sing. But I don't blame you. What Bane did to you was unforgivable, plus he killed Rex too. I would have given into my rage too.'

'But anger's not the Jedi way,' Ahsoka muttered, 'I let my emotions take control. And I…' she couldn't bear to look him in the eye, 'Master, I…I felt satisfied when I was finished. What if…what if I turn to the Dark side?'

'Ahsoka, look at me,' Anakin said and Ahsoka raised her head. 'I don't believe you'll turn to the Dark side,' Anakin said firmly, 'you've got a good heart, but sometimes even the best of people can be pushed too far. I know that from experience because I felt the same way once.'

'When?' Ahsoka asked and Anakin hesitated. He'd only told two people this secret, Padme and Chancellor Palpatine. He looked at the clones he'd brought with him.

'You all have to promise you won't tell anyone not even your brothers or Plo,' he said speaking to all of them. They all nodded and Anakin took a deep breath. 'After…after my mother died,' he said, 'I gave into my rage and killed a whole village of tusken raiders. I felt the same way you do, satisfied at first but then guilty afterwards. I still do feel guilty but I have to move on because we can't change the past. Besides, not every Jedi that gives into their anger turns to the Dark side. Obi-wan gave into his anger after the death of Qui-Gon Jinn but he's still on our side isn't he?' Ahsoka smiled, feeling comforted. Less than ten minutes ago she would have been horrified that Anakin had killed a whole village of tusken raiders but she didn't feel that way now that Bane was dead. Anakin had gone through the same thing she was going through. She felt a combination of guilt and satisfaction. She felt no pity for the Bounty Hunter; he got what he deserved, she only felt guilty for breaking the Jedi code and risking the Dark side.

'Come on. We need to go,' Anakin said snapping Ahsoka out of her thoughts. Ahsoka struggled to her feet. Now that the rage had died down, the pain in her body caught up with her. She ignored it and stumbled towards the door refusing to let Anakin or any of the clones support her. She wasn't going to let this pain slow her down; she'd suffered pain far worse than this in this war.

Count Dooku was sitting in his meditation chambers on a Separatist cruiser when a droid came in carrying a hologram of Darth Sidious. Dooku bowed before the hologram.

'What is it my Master?' he said.

'There has been an unfortunate incident,' Sidious said, 'I thought you should know that Cad Bane has been slain. The interesting thing is that he was killed by a teenaged girl.'

'Skywalker's Padawan?' Dooku guessed. Sidious nodded and then shrugged.

'It is an unfortunate setback,' he said but spoke dismissively as though it was of little or no concern, 'but not a disaster. Even without Bane we can and we will win this war.' Dooku nodded as the hologram flickered out.

Dooku thought about Bane. In truth he wasn't very upset that the Duros was dead. Bane had almost always asked for horribly high fees and he had a nasty habit of taking things too far. Dooku still hadn't forgotten the way he'd abused Skywalker's Padawan two months ago and he still felt uneasy about it. Sometimes he was angry with himself for feeling that way but no matter how much he scolded himself the feeling was always lurking somewhere inside him and he could never fully ease it. Bane had been a tool nothing more.

Clone troopers rarely had proper funerals. Many considered them tools, little more than droids who were made to follow orders, fight and die and nothing more. But Rex was given a funeral for his service. It was a small funeral with only Ahsoka, Anakin, Obi-wan, Commander Cody and some clones including the group that had been with Anakin and Ahsoka on the mission attending it. Ahsoka watched the funeral fire burning around her friend's body. She was still sad but it was a warmer kind of sadness. It was oddly comforting to watch the smoke rising up from the flames almost as though it were Rex's spirit departing. She remembered when she'd first met him at the battle of Christophsis, when he'd told her that he believed experience outranked everything. She remembered the time she'd saved him from General Grievous and when he'd caught her during the crisis with the Blue Shadow Virus. And she remembered his last moments when he'd thrown himself between her and the grenade, taking the blast himself and sacrificing himself to save her. She wiped her eyes to stop tears from coming and Anakin put his arm around her shoulders comfortingly.

'At least he didn't die in vain. We'll remember him won't we?' he said quietly. Ahsoka nodded and noticed that her Master's eyes were watering slightly. Anakin kept his arm around her and they continued to watch the funeral fire crackling around Rex's body.

Well there you go. Ahsoka got in touch with her Dark side. That's the end of this story but in case you're still interested I never intended to have Ahsoka actually turn to the Dark side; if she did then I think Anakin would have to be really stupid to do the same after seeing Ahsoka destroy herself. If you ask me, Ahsoka turning to the Dark side is a bad idea especially if she does it before Anakin does.

Just in case any of you don't know Aurra Sing was once a Jedi which is why she had a lightsaber.