The Final Betrayal – The Fate of Ahsoka Tano
Ahsoka's heart dropped into her stomach and her eyes were as wide as the full moons of Coruscant. "M-master A-Anakin?"
He started toward her again and lowered the hood of his cloak. It was Anakin, but also wasn't. The look in his face was not quite right. His eyes no longer shone a bright blue, but rather seemed to peer out from within deep black holes. His face, framed by his long locks of dark hair, seemed to belong to someone else. Any youthful appearance he once had was since replaced with a harsh darkness lined with razor-sharp iciness.
"That's right Snips. I see you have done well for yourself since we parted ways. I'm very impressed with your skills, as always." He spoke with very little emotion. Even his voice didn't sound quite like his own.
Ahsoka pursed her lips, trying to keep them from trembling. "W-what's going on here?" Her eyes quickly shot from Anakin to the troopers and back to Anakin.
Anakin continued to slowly walk towards his former apprentice. "A changing of the guard, Snips. The time has come to clean out the refuse and usher in a new order."
"What do you mean?"
"The Jedi Order has been found to be corrupted my dear apprentice."
"Yes, Master Windu just tried to assassinate the Chancellor. He wanted to wrest control of the Senate from Palpatine so the Jedi could take control over the Republic. He almost succeeded, until I arrived."
Ahsoka was astonished. "That's impossible!" Before she realized it, Anakin now stood right before her and she had lowered her lightsabers to her sides, mesmerized by his words.
"It's true, Snips. Master Windu led some of the other Jedi masters to the Chancellor's office and tried to kill him. They wanted to undo all that Palpatine had done for the Republic and re-shape the galaxy into one easy for the Jedi to rule with their pompous self-righteousness!"
"I-I don't believe it…"
"Search your feelings Snips; you will know it is true. But the Chancellor is now restoring order and stability to the Republic, no thanks to the Jedi!"
With Anakin referring to her as 'Snips' in amongst all of the crazy talk, Ahsoka became very unnerved. This was what he wanted. He knew she had developed PTSD from her years of service in the war and exploited her condition. He gave his former Padawan a sinister smile.
Ahsoka continued to step away from Anakin, but did not raise her weapons. "Y-you're wrong! The Jedi have long kept peace and order throughout the galaxy in selfless service to the Republic." She paused with a thought that she did not want to speak, not to him. But she could not keep it inside. "The Chancellor must be the corrupt one!"
Anakin's face distorted with anger and he lunged at Ahsoka with a growl. She raised her lightsabers up crossed in defense, but did not try to attack him. He stopped short and again smiled, the anger gone from his countenance.
"It's okay, you're just confused," Anakin said calmly. "It's understandable. The Jedi Council wanted it that way, so they could have your undying loyalty."
Anakin began to step forward again. Ahsoka felt her spirit falter. He fed on her weakness. "Now, my dear Snips, put your weapons away and come with me. I will show you the error of the Order's ways. You can once again become my apprentice, and I can teach you the true power of the Force; the power that the Jedi Order kept from you."
Ahsoka now began to feel the Dark Side of the Force swell around her former master as she continued to step back away from him. There was nowhere for her to run. The walkway was only three meters wide and hundreds of meters above the planet surface. The landing pad was filled with the burning remains of her consular ship. The entrance back into the Temple was filled with numerous clone troopers, who were watching the whole spectacle. Anakin extended his gloved, mechanical hand toward Ahsoka.
Anakin felt the fear welling up inside of Ahsoka. "Come with me. Together we can unlock your full potential."
Ahsoka continued to shy away from Anakin. She shook her head. "No… Please leave me alone…"
Anakin feigned confusion and concern for his former Padawan. "But why, Snips? I only want the best for you."
Ahsoka could feel the blackness grow around him and she began to tremble all over. As she continued to slowly step backwards, she carefully passed by Master Thennal's body. Ahsoka did not take her eyes off of Anakin for even a moment. "You only want me to follow the dark path of the Force. Palpatine is the mysterious Sith behind everything, isn't he?"
Anakin continued to step towards the retreating Padawan. He stopped next to Master Thennal's body. His eyes narrowed as if they were burning a hole through Ahsoka's soul. "Your insight serves you well, my apprentice. You'll see this is how things were meant to be. The Republic has failed the galaxy for far too long, thanks to its dependence on the Jedi. The time has come for the Sith to regain control and restore proper order to the galaxy."
Ahsoka grew angrier with every word Anakin spoke. "You mean oppression!"
Anakin laughed. "Only for those who refuse to play by the rules, Snips."
Ahsoka gritted her teeth. "Don't…Call…Me…Snips!"
"Ahh, are we getting snippy again, my apprentice?"
"Only my master Anakin can call me 'Snips'! I don't care who you look like! You are not Anakin!"
Anakin rubbed his chin as if he thought deeply about her words. "I suppose you're correct. I am Vader. Darth Vader."
Ahsoka's blood ran icy cold with Anakin's words. He had become a Sith Lord after all. She stopped her retreat and extinguished her lightsabers in utter despair. Her arms hung limp at her sides.
Vader reveled in the feelings he sensed in his former Padawan. "Yes. That's a good girl. Now come with me and we will eliminate the last remains of the traitorous Jedi scum from the galaxy!"
Tears welled up in Ahsoka's eyes and she looked down at her master's lifeless body at Vader's feet. His words bit hard at her very being, and she hated him for what he had done. She hated him for his ultimate betrayal. Ahsoka looked up and gave Vader a tearful, bitter scowl.
Vader spoke, almost inaudibly. "Yes, my apprentice. Good… Feel the power growing within you…"
Through trembling lips and gritted teeth, Ahsoka snarled. "Damn you. DAMN YOU!"
In response, Vader laughed and brutally kicked Master Thennal's body over the edge of the walkway to fall to the planet surface far below.
Ahsoka screamed. "NO!" She ignited both of her lightsabers and flew at Vader in an absolute rage.
Vader waited until the very last moment to ignite his saber to parry Ahsoka's attack. His blade stopped hers mere centimeters from his face. The duel had begun.
The action was almost too fast to watch. Every slash, thrust and swing by each combatant was parried, dodged or reversed by the other. Darth Vader and Ahsoka Tano used every centimeter of the walkway in their fight. They leapt high in the air and their lightsabers tangled in bright flashes of blue and green.
The troopers from the 501st dared not to approach the scene; they stayed right at the entrance of the Temple and watched the fight with great interest. They took bets – not on who would win, but how long Ahsoka would last against Vader.
Ahsoka and Vader continued their deadly dance. Slowly, Vader pushed his young opponent back towards the landing pad, which was filled with the remains of the destroyed cruiser. Ahsoka realized what he was trying to do, but every time she'd try to gain any ground he'd push her back even more. If she could just get past him, it wouldn't be too hard for her to plow right through the troopers gathered at the doorway to the Temple. With each passing minute Ahsoka grew more angry and frustrated.
Darth Vader continued to soak up the dark feelings he sensed in his former Padawan. It only made him stronger. He pressed Ahsoka further back towards the mountain of burning debris that was once a starship. They passed into the diameter of the round landing pad and the Sith lord stopped his advance. The heat from the burning wreckage lapped at Ahsoka's back as she stood in front of him out of breath. The world around her seemed to lose all color.
Vader again stretched out his hand. "I hope you see, my dear Ahsoka, that it would be folly for you to continue down this path. Put your weapons down and come back with me. You know it's your destiny." His hooded cloak flapped energetically in the wind like a symbolic flag of the new Sith Order.
Conflicting thoughts raced through Ahsoka's mind. She could go with Vader and then kill him when the moment presented itself. Or she could just kill herself and end the pain once and for all, for there was no more hope left anyway. Or she could fight with all the strength she had left, to avenge all of her Jedi brothers and sisters who have fallen to this devastating betrayal. She knew these were all paths that led to the dark side, which scared her since no other options came to her.
Vader sensed the conflict within the young Jedi. He inhaled deeply as if to breathe in the very essence of her anger, despair and vengeance. The power of the dark side of the Force only grew within him as he ingested those sensations. The effects were intoxicating.
Then Ahsoka did something he did not anticipate.
The young Togruta quickly scrambled up the smoldering pile of wreckage to a nearby pinnacle, careful to avoid any open flames. Her actions both surprised and amused Vader immensely. What are you trying to do, Snips? He thought to himself.
In the instant Vader allowed himself to be distracted, Ahsoka attacked.
Using the Force, she flung large pieces of the wreckage at Darth Vader. He could not quite leap out of the way of the first jumbled mass. It struck him hard in the side and knocked him over. He rolled back up on his feet just in time to bring his lightsaber up to vertically slice through a second heap that flew right at him. The split halves continued on their trajectory past him.
A third piece came at Vader, but this time he stretched out with the Force and stopped it mid-air. He could feel Ahsoka pushing hard on the piece as he held it in place. Vader was very impressed with her abilities. He knew that she hadn't seen real combat since they last saw each other, but here she demonstrated that she could still full-well hold her own.
Vader put forth more effort and managed to push Ahsoka's would-be projectile away. With the shift in momentum, she nearly lost her balance atop the mountain of twisted metal. Vader stared up at Ahsoka, and she down at him. His evil expression melted her spirit like the debris she stood upon.
There was not a single part of Ahsoka that was not shaking. She felt like saying something to Vader, no, to Anakin, but she knew that words were of no good anymore. They both were past the point of no return. She refused to deny being a Jedi, and he was determined to destroy them all. The years they spent together as Master and Padawan seemed like a cruel illusion to her.
At the top of his voice, Darth Vader called out. "This is your last chance, Ahsoka! Your fate is in your own hands! You will live, or you will die!"
He paused, thinking that she would respond. He grew impatient when she didn't. "It's your choice!"
Ahsoka had no more tears. She had no more hope. She had no more strength. She had no more options. Anakin had fallen to the dark side of the Force and she was the only one left to stop him.
With lightning-speed, Ahsoka flung herself down the hill of debris straight for her former master with her sabers blazing. "Go to hell!"
Her move would have been much too fast for a clone trooper to properly react, but she wasn't up against a mere clone. She was facing the Chosen One, quite possibly the most powerful Jedi ever, who was now a Sith lord.
So powerful was Vader, that he simply raised his left hand towards Ahsoka and unleashed a barrage of Sith lightning. She was struck by the lightning mid-air and fell to the landing pad in a convulsing heap with residual electrical arcs dancing around her body.
Slowly, Ahsoka pushed herself up and repeated, "go… to… HELL!"
Ahsoka again lunged towards Darth Vader and once more he blasted her. She spilled onto the deck and convulsed even more. Her clothes and body were singed from his attacks. She tried to speak but could only whimper.
Vader walked up to Ahsoka and stood over her. She lay sprawled out on her belly, barely able to move. She tried to get up, but her body just could not respond to her will. She whimpered once more.
Darth Vader knelt down over Ahsoka and lifted her head up so he could look her in the eye. He regarded her for a moment and grinned. She looked barely alive.
"If that's where I'm going, my former apprentice, then you're going to show me the way."
Suddenly, with one final desperate push of strength, Ahsoka Force-pulled one of her lightsabers back into her hand and ignited it. She screamed and swung her blade at Vader. He leapt back just beyond the reach of her attack. Reflexively, he unleashed an even more powerful blast of Force lightning upon her.
Ahsoka cried out in utter agony as her body was pierced by countless fingers of electrical energy. Vader poured all of his anger into his counterattack and the lightning glowed much brighter with the surge in power.
The Dark Side energy flew unceasingly from Vader's fingertips. Ahsoka was completely helpless to his attack, and she continued to scream in torturous pain as her body was continuously bombarded by the electrical energy. She wanted to beg Vader to stop, but was unable to.
Deathly hatred shone from Vader's face as he continued his assault upon Ahsoka. He hated the Jedi. He hated them for not recognizing his full potential. He hated them for their lies. He hated them for betraying him. He had hoped that Ahsoka was not one of them.
Vader did not stop his attack until Ahsoka ceased to cry out.
Ahsoka lay motionless on the landing pad. Wisps of smoke gently rose from her unmoving form and blew away in the wind.
Vader remained where he stood for a moment and took a deep breath. He stared at his former Padawan laying lifelessly on the platform. His expression of anger gradually became one of cold neutrality. He felt a sense of satisfaction that another Jedi was dead. However, deep inside and barely perceptible, the Anakin who used to be was filled with profoundly intense grief and guilt. The pain of what he had done only further strengthened the grip the Dark Side had on him. Vader slowly walked over to where Ahsoka's body lay.
The Dark Lord of the Sith knelt down and gently picked up Ahsoka, and carried her in his arms back towards the Temple and the waiting troops from the 501st Legion. They couldn't believe what they just witnessed. It was one thing to see Darth Vader slaughter the random Jedi he came across, but to watch him kill Commander Tano, his former apprentice, was unexpectedly shocking. The troopers silently stepped aside as Vader carried Ahsoka back into the Temple.
The siege on the Jedi Temple was over. Much of the Temple was in flames and thick black smoke filled the twilight sky. Every Jedi encountered by Darth Vader and the clone troopers was killed. The troopers began the task of dragging all of the dead Jedi out of the Temple and piled their bodies up outside of the main entrance. There they made a pyre for all of the Coruscanti public to see. The newly-created Galactic Empire would report over the Holonet News that the Jedi Order had betrayed the Republic and were dealt with accordingly.
Darth Vader did not carry Ahsoka out to be burned with the other fallen Jedi. Instead, he alone took her to a hidden garden that the Jedi had used for meditation and reflection. It had miraculously remained untouched by the fighting. It was a beautiful, peaceful place with trees, grass and a small pond with a waterfall. The garden was rich with the living Force, though Vader could no longer feel it.
The thick smoke that billowed out of the Temple above blocked the low light of the waning day, leaving the garden dimly lit. There, Vader dug a grave for Ahsoka and gently placed her inside with her lightsabers in her hands crossed over her chest.
Vader stood silently next to the open grave for several moments, as if to give an unspoken eulogy for a true heroine of the Republic. Though she was burned by Vader's lethal attack, Ahsoka looked peaceful and dignified as she lay there.
As Vader filled the grave, Ahsoka slowly disappeared beneath the cool, soft soil. When he was done, he carefully replaced the grass over the top of the grave in order to conceal it. There, she would lay undisturbed. Vader would make certain that the garden would remain unspoiled and intact, no matter what happened to the rest of the Temple.
Once more, Darth Vader stood next to Ahsoka's grave for a few silent moments before leaving the garden. A single tear slowly streamed down his scarred cheek as he re-entered the Temple.
Vader returned to the main entrance of the Temple where he met his master Darth Sidious, the Emperor Palpatine. Vader received his orders to go to the volcanic planet Mustafar. There he was to kill the Separatist leaders, thereby ending the war and sealing the Empire's control of the galaxy.
The Emperor watched with a wicked smile of satisfaction as his loyal servant departed for his next assignment…