PROLOGUE: SECONDS TO LIVE

It was going to be a strange way for a Jedi to die - hardly honorable, or noble, or heroic. It was pathetic, really. There I lay - wounded, terrified, immobile - about to die at the hands of my own tribe.

I watched with wide eyes as Naomi unsheathed the force pike and held it, trembling, over my heart. I tried to scream, but no scream would come. I only whimpered in pain – begging, entreating.

"Please... don't..."

Naomi hesitated. The spear hovered in the air, still held tight in her palm, though her whole body shivered. I heard the Empress order, "She is our enemy, Naomi. She is a Jedi. Kill her. Kill her now!"

My strength was gone; I pleaded with my eyes alone. My heart raced. I couldn't speak, couldn't breathe. Please, I thought. I'm not a villain. I'm a Jedi. I'm one of you.

Naomi was frozen for a split second, with fear or compassion I did not know.

The Empress spoke again, all malice gone from her voice. She was speaking sweetly, now; concealing her hatred and fury. There was something horribly chilling about the feigned kindness with which she marked me for death.

"Do it for your people, Naomi," she murmured. "Do it for your family. The Jedi have brought nothing but pain and loss. But, Naomi, you can stop her. You can end this. You'll be a hero, Naomi. You'll have ended the meddling of another useless, filthy Jedi. You'll be a warrior. You'll have proved yourself, Naomi. Your family will be proud of you. Your entire tribe will be proud of you. Just kill the Jedi. Don't think about it. It will all be over in a moment. Just a quick stab, Naomi… that's all it takes. A brief blow… and it will all be over."

Naomi looked at me, looked at the Empress, looked at me again. I coughed violently, struggling to speak, somehow stammering, "No. Don't..."

The Empress growled angrily. "She is playing with your mind, Naomi. She means to control you, to enslave you… as all the Jedi do."

"No," I gasped. "Naomi… I…"

"Silence, Jedi!"

"Please, I… I…"

The Empress backhanded me across the face – hard. If I had been standing, the blow would have knocked me over. As it was, my neck was violently jerked to the side, and I cried out.

The Empress turned to Naomi again, her eyes brimming with liquid rage, her fists clenched, her teeth bared like the bloodthirsty predator that she was.

"Kill her! I have had enough of these games. Either you are one of us, or you are one of them. Mark my words – there is no room for error. Do not fail your people, Naomi. This is your family, and that... that filth… is your enemy. You must choose. Now! Kill her!"

Naomi gritted her teeth, closed her eyes. I braced myself for the death that I saw so clearly now, so close, I could almost taste it.

But then – Naomi lowered the force pike, slowly. "I… can't. I'm sorry."

The Empress stared at Naomi, breathless with disbelief. Her mouth hung open like a wolf. Slowly, deliberately, she spoke, her anger building with each word, her shoulders heaving, her power building.

"You have failed, then. But your honorable sacrifice will not save your new friend!"

In an instant, the Empress' blades were ignited; the crimson lightsabers blasted out of their hilts. And then they were spinning, coming closer, faster than I could believe, ready to deal the death blow in what would be a final flash of blood-red light and heat.

I would be mauled – torn to bloody, unrecognizable pieces.

Naomi watched, eyes wide, teeth clenched. But suddenly, she was running towards me. The Empress wheeled around in panic. I felt my hope return abruptly, like a flame bursting to life again…

…and then the force pike plummeted, like swift judgment, like lightning from above. The blade buried itself in my chest. I saw blood; a pool of crimson, spilling rapidly across my torn shirt. The blow had been swift, but the realization was slow in arriving.

Naomi would not save me. She had dealt the finishing blow.

I groaned. Winced. Shrieked aloud.

The blade... it seared the wound… like acid, or poison. I tried to think, to reason, but my surroundings blurred, and violent vertigo came over me. A strange nausea settled in the pit of my stomach. Something was wrong. I was taking too long to die. Was this some sort of torture, devised to make me suffer all the more? Had Naomi's earlier defense of me been an act? Perhaps this was all a twisted, sadistic plot to make me die an emotional death before the physical one. I had heard of such torture methods, used by monsters like Ventress when victims deserved particularly unspeakable agony.

I moaned again. The stinging… it was rapidly worsening with each passing second. The vertigo, too, increased in strength, and I found myself forced to close my eyes… Still, there was pain… Such pain

And then there was dark.

Author's Note: This is going to be a later scene in the story, but I wanted to write it first because #1 I was anxious and #2 I thought that it would create interest in the story to leap to a climactic scene. If you are confused as to who Naomi and the Empress are, that is because they are my original characters. :) More will be explained once I jump back to the beginning of the story and work from there. Please review this if you don't mind - reviews are very important to me. But please don't leave outright nasty reviews: "This sucks" "This stinks", etc. Helpful criticism - grammatical, style-related, etc. - is always welcome. If I don't finish this FanFic, please don't be annoyed. I tend to jump from story to story very spaztically lol. Hopefully you enjoyed this! :D Ahsoka is my favorite character, so if you like Ahsoka I advise keeping up with any updates on this story.