A/N: Here's an update for those still interested. I promise I'm going to finish this. It's just taking its sweet time coming to me. Thanx for sticking around if you're still reading.
Warrior by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
As Anakin watched the century's newest debacle unfold, he couldn't help think that Obi Wan had been keeping secrets. Swallowing down the hypocrisy of such thoughts, a major part of him still hurt.
His love for Padme was pure and beautiful. The feelings Obi Wan shared with Asajj Ventress was a macabre, distortion of lust. How could anyone claim nobility and love a wretch as such as that? How could his master, his friend, choose her over everything else? Namely, himself.
Barriss Offee and Master Ti had been charged with the investigation of whatever had happened on Naboo. From security footage to the questioning of witnesses, the Mirilian had been a great medical asset while Shaak Ti had been meticulous in her research.
He'd seriously considered confessing what he saw that day hidden away in the tree line. Only years of saving each other's lives had stopped him. The ginger haired man was the closest Anakin had to a brother.
Obi Wan was a fool, he thought, sneering as he folded his arms across his chest. A fool who thought he knew everything and could save everybody. There was no rest for the wicked. Nothing that could make right the murder and terror Asajj Ventress had spread across the galaxy. Death should be her only salvation he thought, and even that would not be enough.
The smell of amber and spice filled his senses causing his ill thoughts to waver as he turned to see a familiar face across the room. Despite being a farmer's daughter, his wife was a vision of royalty and grace wrapped in crimson robes. Deep Mahogany locks were elaborately braided atop her head. Lidded brown eyes took on the room and its inhabitants nonchalantly despite the spark that illuminated their depths. She truly was perfection.
With a deep scowl he tried to convince himself that his situation was different as his heart fluttered wildly at the sight of Padme Amidala.
The trial of Asajj Ventress was finally taking place after months of hearings and negotiations between the Republic and the Jedi Order. The Jedi Order had been reluctant to try the dark assassin. Some thought it an opportunity to flip a valuable agent, while others preferred to keep a close eye on the notorious woman. Either way, Ventress found she was equally relieved as she was on edge. True her captors were decent, but how long until the proverbial rug was snatched from beneath her.
While the Order did not answer to the Republic, they were still mindful of their working relationship. For that reason, they'd eventually conceded to the government's demand of some type of trial.
Asajj stood tall dressed in loose white robes. Breathing deeply, she calmed herself for the trial that lay ahead. She pushed her bond to the farthest parts of her mind. It felt cold and lonely without the familiar presence of Obi Wan in her mind, but she knew she couldn't risk his life in that way for a few moments of comfort.
Squaring her shoulders and schooling her features into something less harsh, she prayed to the ancient deities of her world, to her mother, Ky Narec and to the force that had shaped her. After taking one last deep breath, she called out for the guard and steeled herself for what she knew would be one of the difficult moments of her life.
The walk to the Jedi Council room felt much longer than she knew it to be.
Flanked by a trio of clone troopers and Shaak Ti, Asajj was cuffed as they made their way to the great doors.
The scarlet toruga stared at her calmly as the clones pulled on the great doors.
"Your audience awaits." Master Ti intoned calmly.
Asajj held her gaze for only a second before staring into the open doorway filled with jedi and republic citizens who desperately wanted her demise. The remaining clone nudged her forward with a smart remark she barely heard. Swallowed by the light of the room she crossed the threshold to stand inside the round shaped hall.
She stared up at the counsel both with awe and wariness. Their faces seemed ancient and filled with the lines of a lifetime of hardships. She'd never thought war tiring as it was all she had known, but in this moment she absently wondered how much different everyone would look without such burden.
She knew how different she had looked.
The trooper forced her forward again.
This time she threw him a dirty look that made him pause before pointing towards the platform from which she would stand. With more confidence than she felt, she walked with as much poise as she could to take the stand.
Voices rose as she was presented with her list of crimes.
As Mace Windu began to speak, the world took on an unnaturally bright hue, and the former dark lady felt faint. She could hear words being thrown around and even felt herself responding, but something was off. Just when she felt the world fading, there was an explosion of sound and light as the room shook. The woman found herself flung to the floor as her vision went dark.
When she finally came to, the chamber was in chaos.
Clone troopers and droids alike stormed the room and all pandemonium broke loose.
Civilians were screaming and hiding while droids opened fire on everything that moved. Clone troopers fought hard to even the playing field, but the droids came prepared with reinforcements.
Crimson robes fluttered in the breeze pulling her foggy attention to the Nabooian queen who seemed overly distressed.
When she saw the wide eyed senator and the look on Anakin's face when she whimpered his name, the former assassin detected a multitude of emotions. But what stood out the most was the note of longing in her voice.
Padme was a woman in love. And by the horror painted upon the Jedi's chosen it looked as if Anakin was much the same. Suddenly the young knight's outburst in regards to this woman and Padme's own sneakiness made so much more sense.
These were the people Obi Wan held dear. Asajj was done with her old life. It had brought her nothing but scorn and ruin. She would never be able to right all her wrongs or reclaim the innocence she had lost. But she could stop whatever this attempt was.
Obi Wan would be devastated if anything were to happen to the arrogant jedi knight. And Anakin would lose his mind if anything were to happen to the girl.
Without a second to lose, Ventress leapt into action calling upon the force she had ignored for so long. It rejected her at first but the woman was determined. She thought of Obi Wan and his single-minded belief in the good of universe. The good of others- the good of her. It was this part of the force that responded to her hesitantly. It was soft, firm and completely unlike the rush she felt wielding her darker emotions this was the purest flowing of energy she'd felt in forever. True it was harder for her to wield and not nearly as strong as what it would've been if she were to wield the hatred she had grown into, but it was something and it was enough to save the girl.
Pouring in the force behind her attack, she came down hard on the unsuspecting general, causing him to drop the Nabooian Queen. He snarled until he realized who she was.
If he could still smile he would have. Instead his eyes held an unholy glint as his robotic parts hummed in anticipation. The wench was still alive, he mused. No matter.
Queen Amidala wasted no time melting into the fray of screaming citizens. However, she did steal a glance at the defiant woman. With no lightsaber to defend herself, how would she fare?
Snarling, the great general threw himself into the chase dodging light rifles and following the former acolyte's deft steps and jumps. Tiring of the game, he grabbed a trooper by the helmet and flung his flailing body at the more graceful Ventress, who didn't have the time to dodge.
The trooper's body slammed into hers sending her crashing to the ground with a heavy body on top. Grunting as she forced the stunned soldier off her. Ventress snagged something from his belt and hid it in her robe. "Hey..." he moaned.
"Shut it," she hissed grasping his sidearm.
All of sudden, the trooper was ripped from atop of her. Without a second thought she shoved the pistol forward and pulled the trigger causing the mighty Grievous to let out an enraged yell as his right eye was injured by the attack. Flinging her across the room in a fit of rage, he howled at the damage done.
Asajj tried to keep her wits about her as she slammed into the glass wall that allowed the counsel such a spectacular view of the city. She cried out as the glass splintered and she bounced off and hit the floor hard.
Shaking the fog from her head she pushed herself up onto her hands and knees, she looked to see the general glowering with his good eye as the other was burned, searing his mask.
"Dooku will be pleased with me for killing you," he snarled. "Or at least he would if you were still a threat."
She smirked as she drug herself up to stand. "Try harder, pet."
With a growl he launched himself at the former again. Ventress dodged his attacks but it was obvious she was losing ground fast.
The few jedi present were trying to keep the present dignitaries out of harm's way. However, one had seen the former sith acolyte save another and felt the slightest change in the force. Where once there was evil, and later a grey neutrality, now there was a seedling of something pure taking root.
"Asajj!" Bariss shouted. Pale ears perked and Ventress turned to see the hilt of a saber flying her way. With a determined look on her face, she managed to side step a killing blow and dive for the hilt. Tucking and rolling she sprang upright grasping the weapon with both hands. It phased on washing over her in a green light.
She smirked at the seething metal monstrosity. Both launched themselves at the other. Despite her reluctance in using the force and the use of one saber instead of two Asajj had lost none of her viciousness or grace. However her strength was nowhere where it once was. And Grievous' ferocity was more than a match.
One lightsaber against one was bearable, two on one was pushing it. Three had her back against a wall, while four reminded her how she was no match at all.
After a painful slash to the shoulder, Asajj cried out as a metal limb slammed into her chest knocking her off her feet and through a table. Gasping for air as her eyes shot wide open in pain, she didn't have time to hurt as she rolled away from a set of cleaving hacks.
"Dooku will betray you!" she hissed, looking worse for wear. Her face was cut and bruised, her arm was bleeding and her back had another laceration and burn courtesy of Grievous.
"You were a mistake. A weakling from the start. How does it feel to know you are no better than those warlords from your home world? Weak and disposable."
She gritted her teeth as those words hit close to home. "What would you know? Did you ever return to home to finish the freeing you started? How does it feel to know she died because you abandoned her for a droid's dream?"
His good eye narrowed and before she could blink, he was upon her again.
"You are no better than me," she spat. Pirouetting and slashing. "But I'm through playing victim." She landed a hit as her soul was ignited with something that shone brightly in her eyes. "People have always suffered." She flipped over him wielding her blade in an overhead attack. "What makes your suffering any different?" He managed to fend off her attack only to welcome another. Ventress snarled as she stabbed her saber through his shoulder.
Unholy eyes brightened in pain and victory. Righteous fury was something he never grew tired of snuffing.
Wrenching the impaled saber out of her grasp, He grabbed her tightly by the throat heaving her flailing figure in the air. Asajj pried at his grasp until an unspeakable pain caused her to cry out as the smell of seared flesh filled the air. Yellow eyes flashed and narrowed conveying the general's satisfaction as he shoved two sabers through her midsection.
The sensation had her howling as tears blinded her vision. So much pain. It was overwhelming. Gasping she managed to fiddle with her garment, seemingly clutching at his second set of arms.
"You fool," she wheezed.
Her words were meet with barking laughter as he slowly pulled a saber out only to push it deeper. She whimpered. "He will discard you too."
Savoring his victory as he watched the light fade from her eyes. He never noticed the pins that feel from slim fingers.
Asajj Ventress came to with a lurch as she gasped. Her blue eyes were bright with confusion as her mouth hung open.
She had died, hadn't she?
Wasn't she dead?
Pale hands touched places where holes should've been. Where Grievous had stabbed her.
What... just happened?
Blinking, she noticed a room full of faces peering curiously at her.
She was on her knees in the middle of the jedi council room. The same room Grievous and those droids had burst into.
Slowly the events that led to this moment tumbled to the forefront of her mind.
Today was the day of her trial.
They'd asked her questions about her involvement with Count Dooku, her use of the dark side, and her knowledge of the Separatist's operations. She'd answered honestly as she could when she'd felt faint and overwhelmed.
Had all of that been a premonition of some sort? She wondered as her eyes darted around the room. Finally Asajj stilled, calmer but still befuddled. The jedi didn't seem disturbed at all. Surely the force would have reached for them before it troubled with her.
Master Yoda stared down at her approvingly. Mace Windu was reserved. Other faces looked on with concern, while some were faced with obvious disdain.
"Confused you were, but clear your decision was."
She slowly made the connection feeling both foolish and embarrassed. She realized they'd use the force to test her will and loyalties. Feeling violated, she hoped she hadn't given anything away.
"Now we will discuss the matter," Mace Windu announced loudly. "Master Okeefe."
Bariss stepped forward with a neutral expression on her face. Nodding to the elder members of the council, she escorted the jedi prisoner away.
Despite the whirl of whatever had just taken place, Asajj couldn't help but stare around in unease.
"Come, Asajj Ventress. The council will soon decide your fate."
As she was led out of the great room, she couldn't help but stare helplessly at the ginger-haired man who was poised to enter just outside the doors. His eyes said many things he dared not say aloud. But Asajj could tell even without their bond.
"Secure her inside her quarters," Bariss instructed a trio of clones. "Master Kenobi," she greeted once the dark lady was escorted away.
Obi Wan smiled tightly, preparing himself for whatever awaited beyond those doors. "Trust me." Was Bariss' gentle encouragement. The jedi master risked one more look towards the woman who owned his heart before entering those heavy doors.
Stepping inside the room he prepared himself for what would possibly be the biggest gamble of his life.
Most in attendance were jedi as well as a few allies who'd had dealings with Asajj before.
After he'd defended his beloved with as much neutrality expected of a jedi, Obi Wan allowed his honest opinion to filter through in response to the aggressive questioning his comrades submitted him to.
"And how Master Kenobi, can you be so sure of this change of heart?" Mace Windu asked shrewdly. "How is it that you know so much about her state of mind?"
"Before all of this. When she had captured me and Grievous was brought in to break me, she saved me. She snuck into my cell and healed my wounds and later set me free. After that…I became intrigued. I knew that there was a part of her that still remembered and cared for her first master. It felt like a calling to try and convince her that there was hope for the galaxy as well as herself."
"Touching response, Master Kenobi, but somehow I doubt that's all of it. How are you so sure of her?"
He took a deep breath before answering.
"Because I saved her from Boz Pity and attended to her for months on Naboo."
Silence met his confession before a great siege of emotion was wrought forth by many bodies in attendance. "You did what?!"
"I saved her life and tucked her away."
"You didn't think that securing a high value target would be within the best interest of our forces?"
"I thought it best if she were away from the war mongering that ultimately began her descent into the dark side. The woman she was-is now is nothing like the vicious assassin most of us have had dealings with."
"Do you not realize the absurdity of such a statement?" Mace Windu barked. "You thought the spiritual rescue of a Separatist Commander- a dark apprentice- was more important than arresting her?"
"A former dark apprentice, and no… I saved the woman she was before the dark side, not the separatist commander."
The chatter in the room seemed to rise in volume until the jedi master could no longer hear himself think. His heart thundered in his chest as he awaited judgement to befall him. Emotions swirled erratically throughout the room as all present processed his confession differently.
"You asked my opinion because you said I was objective and clear." Bariss stepped forward in the defense of her friend. "I have seen the soul and future of the woman who was once Separatist Commander Ventress and she is no longer that person. If you cannot trust Obi Wan Kenobi who has acted on his heart instead of our teachings, trust in me. The force is neither good nor evil, and the remorse and resignation that pulses inside of this woman is not that of a sith. Sith feel no regret and they feel no remorse. Sith do not sacrifice themselves for the good of others. We have lost so many and so much to the dark side and those who wield it with only power and oppression in mind. Why punish her for stepping into the light? Are we merely bones that spew rhetoric or do we hold true to our most sacred principles? We are not the Republic and as jedi we should strive to take care of our own."
"She is no jedi!" One shouted.
"And are we to deny Ky Narec? Her first master? Are we to turn our backs on his padawan? You preach to us how redemption is earned and not given. Let her earn her keep! If we give her to the Republic she will surely be put to death."
"Which is no less than what she deserves!"
"So we are no longer beings that kindle and nurture the light? Were her former masters correct in their assessment of the Jedi Order?"
"Master Okeefe!" Mace Windu admonished heatedly.
Bariss pushed on unfazed. "If you are so sure that there is no light in her sentence her to judgement with the destroyer." Silence. Even Master Yoda looked taken aback by such a suggestion. Obi Wan felt his stomach fall. "If it is pleasing to the council, I move that we offer her to the pit."
The Destroyer was an ancient being that lived deep beneath the jedi temple. A relic from times long gone. There was something pure and terrifying about the ancient. It devoured darkness and shirked away from light. The creature itself was not evil, it simply was what it was slinking within the catacombs waiting for the world to pass itself by. It was a great deterrent, and an even better judge of character.
To sentence one to such could be considered a great act of cruelty as the Destroyer devoured its prey, enthralled by the taste of darkness.
"Your arrogance will be your undoing, Master Okeefe." Windu smirked feeling both amused and annoyed by her gall. His gaze hardened as he turned his attention to Obi Wan. "And what say you, Master Kenobi? Are you still so confident?"
He looked to his mirillian friend whose eyes screamed that he trust her. Another set of eyes caught his attention as well. Despite the swirling emotion in Anakin's gaze, he knew his friend well enough to know that his answer would surely diminish their relationship. Tearing away from angry eyes he swallowed his fear and answered as surely as he could.
"I am." Gasps could be heard around the room. "The Destroyer will not harm her."
A few days earlier…
"What you say here, shall stay here."
Obi Wan raised a brow, curious of what could make his mirilian friend so deathly serious. "Barriss?"
The gardens were as peaceful as ever. Few, if any, students lingered on the lush and carefully maintained grounds. The two warriors walked side by side as they spoke comfortably amongst themselves.
"Master Yoda and Mace Windu have trusted to me the investigation of your involvement with sith acolyte-"
She cracked a smile. "Former sith acolyte Asajj Ventress."
He nodded despite the thoughtful expression on his visage.
*"Are you in love with her?"* She asked with no judgement through the force. Barriss waited for his answer.
"Yes." He answered quietly as he continued to look ahead. "I'm afraid that I am." His laugh was sad.
"And you trust her?" She asked aloud studying him.
"She has been cleared of charges against Padme Amidala."
The jedi master blinked as he processed the information halting in his steps. "Wh-what?"
"Upon careful review of the evidence provided as well as witness accounts, yours included, we have determined that person responsible was a bounty hunter by the name of Zolan Gatz. A clawdite with ties to Cato Parasitti."
Blue eyes brightened at the news. "That's…" He found himself lost for words.
"Wonderful?" Barriss supplied with an easy smile as they continued forward wandering deeper into the tranquil landscape. "But really it is not. While the clawdite has been captured and interrogated, there is still the issue of Asajj being a war criminal. I'm afraid there isn't much that can be done. The Republic wants her dead."
"And the Council?" He asked unsurprised but disheartened nonetheless.
"It is hard to say." She watched the emotion that flittered across his face as he processed the absurdity of the whole situation.
"I don't know what to do…" He admitted as his shoulders sagged and his heart began to ache with thoughts of the former dark lady. Her spirit had splintered and yet somehow she was able to stand and grow all the same. There was so much strength and light inside her. Was he truly the only one to see her for who she was?
Taking pity upon her friend, Barriss blocked the jedi master's path as she grasped his hands and looked him full in the face. The words she whispered into his mind scared him beyond compare. It was suicide and exile all rolled into one. Her expression was encouraging and sad, and yet Obi Wan knew there truly was no other way to give his beloved a chance. "Do you trust me, Master Kenobi?" She finally asked aloud.
He studied her briefly knowing that he did. He had yet to be expelled and Asajj was still within his reach. "I do." He said after a while.
She smiled releasing his hands.
Till next time. -T