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Enter the Foreign

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Prologue


"You do know, don't you? If the Jedi destroy me, any chance of her saving her will be lost."

It was strange that the voice echoing in his thoughts, the one that had provided comfort for thirteen years in the same patient, rich tone, should now be a harbinger of his beloved's doom. The irony was bitter, enough to make Anakin Skywalker crush the fingers of both his flesh and bionic hands together in an effort to draw blood. He let out a heavy breath and separated his hands. They were clean, of course. They were always clean, no matter how wretched he felt on the inside.

Padmé…

When he'd spoken his vows by the lake on Naboo, he had never imagined that he might lose her like this. He had never imagined losing her at all. In the deep places of his heart, he had refused to consider death a possibility.

"The dark side is a pathway to many abilities…"

In an instant the shadows had been swept away, the secrets of the mysterious Darth Sidious had been laid bare, and Anakin had hesitated. Lightsaber drawn, close enough to kill, to wipe out evil forever, to end the war and make the galaxy safe for his family, and he had hesitated.

Jedi weren't supposed to hate, but Anakin did. He hated the very idea of the Sith, loathed their existence to his core. Of all the oaths he'd sworn upon being Knighted, that was the secret one he'd promised never to break. The Republic would continue to bicker, and the Jedi Order would be indecisive; but the Sith – who had lived in shadow for a millennia – were preparing for the final push, the one that would end in galactic domination. That would end in the deaths of everyone Anakin held dear.

He hated Sidious, yes, but he had never hated Palpatine. How could he? The Chancellor had watched over him ever since he was a boy. He had talked to him when no one else seemed to understand. What if the Jedi were wrong? What if Palpatine was a Sith Lord… and a good man?

That would mean the dark side was an answer to his troubles. The lure was undeniable, and his reasons would be nobler than those of his predecessors.

I can't, he pleaded with himself. Not without losing my soul.

He had taken an oath to the Force, to the light.

To Padmé.

He gasped as he felt her across the distance between the Jedi Temple and 500 Republica. In his mind's eye he could see her rising from the couch, going to the window, as if she could feel his desperation. He went to the transparisteel that separated him from the sweeping majesty of Coruscant and reached for her. He felt her love, how she worried for him, even now, with the war's end so close. He felt the faintest hint of a consciousness still-forming in its mother's womb, a consciousness that was curious and fearful and, above all, alive.

I can't let them die. I can't let her die.

I won't.

The Chancellor was a Dark Lord of the Sith, the enemy of the Jedi for thousands of years. He was also Anakin's mentor, his friend… his only hope.

Though she possessed no Force-ability of her own, Anakin could feel Padmé answering the touch of his mind. She wanted him to be safe. She wanted him to come back to her. She wanted to set things right between them.

I'm going to, Padmé. I'm going to save you, and then we'll be free.

Twin tears escaped his eyes as he turned away from the window. He brushed them away with his left hand and ran to the door, his stomach tightening in a cold knot, his heart pumping chilled blood through his body.

I have to do it. Just this once.

He opened the door and stepped across the threshold, feeling too late the sense of danger that flared up as something connected with his head and sent him plummeting into restless darkness.

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