Music for this chapter: Pale White Horse, The Oh Hellos
The crystal caves of Ilum are as haunting as Obi-Wan remembers.
It is one thing as a small, barefooted Initiate to follow the murmuring calls of the kyber crystals into the pitch darkness, trusting that the Force would carry him to his intended crystal unharmed; but it is wholly another to enter the caves as a senior padawan with the weight of experience on his shoulders, knowing the caves serve as the clearest mirror to any Force-sensitive.
Obi-Wan follows the dark-cloaked silhouette of Master Dooku, illuminated only by the yellow-gold glow of the Sentinel's lightsaber, and feels the whispers in the plane of the Force grow into a gale as the walls of the caves press in around them.
Qui-Gon's voice, that first mission to Naboo, with Obi-Wan kneeling bruised and bloodied next to the still, cloth-covered body of Eir.
Obi-Wan's step does not stutter, even as Dooku's silvered head turns ever-so-slightly to glance at his grandpadwan.
Obi-wan grits his teeth through the hollowness of his stomach.
He is fine. Fine. He is not the Obi-Wan of beskar steel and ice-chipped eyes who had caused a full-grown gorgodon to whimper in fear – he is Obi-Wan Kenobi, senior padawan, friends to Huei Tori and Ezhno, apprentice to Qui-Gon Jinn, seeking to serve the Force above all else.
"Padawan Kenobi." Dooku has halted entirely now and turned to stare at him, something remarkably similar to concern on his features.
Obi-Wan shakes his head.
"This way," Dooku says, consulting the Sith journal in his free hand.
They move on in silence, and the blank blue ice of the caverns seems more and more incongruous the further they step into the caves. There are crystals shimmering at times down the passageways they pass, but never on this path they follow.
Obi-Wan glances from one blank wall to Dooku, and finds his grand-master already glancing back at him, a frown that mirrors his own on his features.
There should be the beginnings of crystals studded in the walls by by now – too poor in quality for lightsabers, but an echo of the purer light further in. But there is nothing – only empty gaps in the jagged ice.
The wail of the wind through the caves rises as if in mourning, and the two Jedi turn a corner and halt as one, transfixed by the sight before them.
Obi-Wan pulls his lightsaber from his side and activates it. The snap of plasma leaping from emitter echoes like a shout around the small chamber.
The blue light of Obi-Wan's lightsaber splashes on the jagged walls, illuminates the hundreds of hollows where kyber crystals had once rested, but now rest empty, their precious cargo torn from its walls.
"Someone took the crystals here," Dooku murmurs, splaying one elegant fencer's hand against the cavern wall. "This entire section – too deep for most padawans and initiates to notice, I would suppose. There are far too many side-caverns to wander down in the search for a lightsaber crystal."
The glitter of something in the ice at Obi-Wan's feet.
He crouches down on one knee. There – the merest sliver of emerald kyber, dim and lonely in the gutted chamber.
Obi-Wan hears Dooku approach.
"What have you found?"
Obi-Wan reaches out with his free hand and plucks the fragment from the ground–
–and releases it immediately, snatching his hand back in instinctive revulsion.
Dooku's hand is on his shoulder, steadying him.
"A Sith once touched that," Obi-Wan signs, looking up at the elder Jedi. "The Force didn't show me their face. But it was a Sith."
Dooku crouches beside Obi-Wan. Stretches out a long-fingered hand, hesitates for the briefest moment, then pulls the fragment into his palm with the Force.
Obi-Wan watches Dooku's lip curl, eyes tracking something in the Force Obi-Wan cannot see.
Then Dooku smiles once, viciously, and pulls a scrap of cloth from his belt and tucks the fragment away.
"I believe we have what we came for," he murmurs as he straightens. "Let us return to the ship."
As Obi-Wan follows Dooku back into the tunnels, a small part of him is relieved that there are no screaming Sith-creatures, this time.
Dooku halts abruptly.
"This is not the way we came," he says.
Obi-Wan steps up shoulder-to-shoulder with the elder Jedi.
The way ahead, which had been nothing but blued ice, is now studded with faintly growing crystals in blue and green.
"No matter," Dooku says, after a moment. "It would appear the ice-caves of Ilum have a lesson for us after all. Come."
They move on together, 'saber-light refracting off the thousands of crystals above and around them, brilliant fractals of transecting light.
Obi-Wan snaps his head towards Dooku.
Dooku stops and looks at him, a frown forming between his brows. "Padawan Kenobi?" he says, the sounds somehow dull, disjointed.
Kenobi, the caves whisper.
Head spinning, Obi-Wan takes another step on icy stone, the cold lancing up through his boot-soles into the very bones of his feet, and a crystal above him flashes–
–Zan Arbor's chilling, scarlet smile on Ventrux, acid Azariel eating into the flesh of Obi-Wan's arm, his inner voice screaming for Master Qui-Gon through the agony though his lips cannot–
–Xanatos DuCrion's unhinged laughter amidst the destruction of the Sith Temple around them, a scarlet fang in those long-fingered hands and brilliant blue in Obi-Wan's the Sith holocron whispering poisonous words into his mind that some small part of him wishes to follow–
–Ugly rage burning up from within him as the slave-trader sneers down over Anakin in Shmi's arms, Shmi turning her shaking, obedient bow into a protective curl over her infant son as the dark voice in Obi-Wan's psyche growls I could kill them I could kill them all if I didn't have to ensure Shmi and Anakin's lives–
–Tarun and Tuari's twisted, writhing screams over the frienzied howl of activated vibrowhips tearing through flesh, hot tears streaming down Obi-Wan's grimy cheeks as he presses his forehead against the durasteel vent wall in an effort to block out the horror and the shame–
–Cruel victory surging through his veins as he holds Gardulla by lighstaber edge, only to end in desperate, seeping pain as he staggers the last few steps to the hangar edge to fall to his knees beside his abandoned Jedi cloak, the echo of Anakin's last cry for him fading fast into the Force–
Dimly, Obi-Wan hears a voice he thinks might be Master Dooku's calling his name–
His vision tears like a thousand precise lighstaber cuts across the Force-lined mirror of the world, and he is rent apart and reassembled with brutal, uncaring efficiency.
He comes to mid-flip in a blast of superheated air, his lightsaber screaming in sympathy with his thudding heart as he completes his arc above his opponent's red blade and thrusts his lightsaber through muscle and bone.
His opponent chokes out a gurgle as the scent of seared flesh assaults Obi-Wan's senses. Obi-Wan jolts, eyes widening, as he meets the burning yellow-red gaze of the Sith a mere handspan from his own as it extinguishes in death.
The Sith slides off Obi-Wan's blade and crumples to the ground–
–And Obi-Wan stumbles as the noise and the heat and the light and the scream of the Force reaches him fully.
He staggers to a halt, wide-eyed, as the battle roils on about him. Hundreds of lightsabers, crimson to blue and green clashing in a maelstrom of desperate adrenaline, screams and howls of the dying meshed with echoing battle-cries as tides of black-robed figures clash with of russet-robed Jedi. The cavern above is hewn from black stone, obsidian floors already slick with blood of Sith and Jedi alike, currents of rage and hatred and calm duty and metallic battle-fervor mingling in a storm surge so overwhelming that Obi-Wan nearly drops his lightsaber right there and then.
The scent of death lays heavily in the air.
There, beyond the battle itself and guarded by rank upon rank of scarlet lightsabers, is a pyramidal fortress built into the far cavern wall. There is an echo in the Force there – a convergence that calls to him, as though the Force wishes him to seek it out.
Then a scarlet blade lances into the edge of his vision, and Obi-Wan's sword-arm moves before he is fully aware of it – instinct hooking his azure lightsaber around the buzzing, blood-coloured blade and tearing it out of its wielder's hands.
Obi-Wan stares at the human Sith acolyte an arm's reach from him, and the Sith stares back, weaponless, defeat and anger at her oncoming death so very clear in her yellowed eyes even as a Twi'lek Jedi master leaps up behind the Sith and beheads her in a single, clean Sai Cha strike.
Blood sprays Obi-Wan in the face, and he flinches despite himself, iron in his mouth and the gorge rising in his stomach.
"Move, young one!" the Jedi master barks at him, before darting into the battle once more.
Obi-Wan watches the Sith acolyte's head roll to a halt at his feet, her eyes dull and fixed wide, her white, braided hair limp in a growing pool of her blood.
Then there is another crimson blade coming at him, and another, and he tears his gaze away from the dead and the dying and survives.
Obi-Wan finds himself caught in the current and thrown across the battlefield like a solitary coracle tossing in the storm-fueled waves, and as the lightsaber in his hand cleaves flesh from bone and extinguishes neutron star after neutron star that is each Sith that steps up to replace their fallen brethren, Obi-Wan is drawn ever on towards the single, compressed singularity in the Sith fortress ahead.
He feels with a heady awe the sheer surge of the will of a thousand Jedi pushing forward as one behind him, and the blue-green tide overwhelms the last lines of crimson blades before the fortress itself in a devastating flood that hisses like a breaker over obsidian sand.
The same obsidian sand that borders a molten river somewhere in the future of the Force, beyond Obi-Wan's grasp–
A voice that is not formed from his own thoughts but from the collective will of a thousand Jedi tells him to raise his free hand as every Jedi around him does, and the fortress doors – solid black stone a dozen arm-spans wide and fifty metres tall – tremble in their iron braces.
The Force builds under Obi-Wan's feet, light so thick and clear that Obi-Wan almost weeps from the sheer power of it, rushing up through his feet and into his soul, connected as one brilliant light in a field of shimmering stars as the Jedi reach out with their hands and pull as one.
The towering stone doors shatter like ceramplast, great shards of glistening stone smashing to the ground in a thunder that shakes Obi-Wan to his very core.
The Force carries him up over the rubble as a renewed battle cry rises around him, up into the Sith fortress and through its halls, where Sith acolytes and twisted creatures leap out at the advancing Jedi only to fall under the onslaught of green and blue plasma blades.
But the Force is calling, calling to him further up and further in, and Obi-Wan ghosts through the battle and up through the labyrinth of corridors until he battle fades into an echo behind him – until he blinks and finds himself sprinting down a passage alone, the metal and stone of the Sith fortress around him silent save for his own breaths and the patter of his boots on the floor.
The convergence in the Force is so close now, and Obi-Wan throws himself around the last corner and throws open the doors before him–
And a red lightsaber half the length of his own spears towards his chest.
Obi-Wan shifts to the left in a shriek of boots against stone and throws his full weight behind the defensive strike. The red lightsaber clatters against the wall of the chamber and extinguishes.
Obi-Wan is halfway into the killing blow before he registers the red-yellow eyes set in a snarling face that is still rounded with baby fat.
His lightsaber halts a hairsbreath from his opponent's throat.
The Togruta child – no more than ten summers old, by Obi-Wan's reckoning – raises fell yellow eyes to meet his and tilts her chin up, as if challenging him to make his final blow and end her life. There is a telltale tremble in the fists she holds close to her sides, but it is the sheer, unbridled hatred in her eyes that hold Obi-Wan in place.
Behind her, a cluster of younglings in the red and black of Sith robes huddle against the far wall. Some hold unactivated lightsabers in their hands, the hate-filled yellow glow of their eyes hauntingly bright in the shadows of the chamber, while some, yet younger, have a faint yellow tinge to their irises but also have shatterpoint-like cracks in their Force-signatures.
It is with a horrifying jolt that Obi-Wan realises that Sith, too, were once children.
"Do it, Jedi," The Togruta girl snarls. "Do what your cowardly kind do best."
Watching her, this child washed in the blue glow of his lightsaber, Obi-Wan looks into the Force.
The Force allows him a glimpse – a glimpse of a wandering soul this child had been, forced to scrape and scavenge for even the merest sustenance, until the Sith had found her and had given her food and clothing – in exchange for training so pain-filled she at times wishes she was dead – but there, beyond all, the promise of power, the ability to kill any enemy she wished, even her masters, should she have the power and will to do so.
She hated them. She hated the Sith, hated the other children her masters forced her to fight, hated herself most of all for her weakness.
And she hates Obi-Wan now, this light-filled warrior before her with the power to take her life.
Obi-Wan shudders. The lightsaber in his hand wavers at the young Sith's throat.
"Why do you hesitate?"
Obi-Wan straightens in shock as a familiar figure in a dark russet cloak steps up beside him.
Dooku's silver hair is matted with dried blood, and the curved lightsaber hilt in his grasp crusted with grime, and yet he moves with the same languid grace as he always does.
"The battle is almost won," Dooku says, with a satisfied note in his tone. "The last of the Sith acolytes in the halls below are being wiped from existence. Complete this task before you, Obi-Wan, and Ilum will have finished her history lesson."
One of the younger children whimpers, and is instantly silenced with a burning glare by one of their older compatriots.
Obi-Wan stares into the eyes of this Togruta child at bladepoint, who has only known a full belly as a reward for a terrible task accomplished, or a death at her hands, and only knows survival at the expense of any and all she meets – as she has been taught to do, from the moment of her birth.
He thinks of tea brewed by Qui-Gon, warm and sweetly bitter; nerf-stew in ceramplast bowls served around a table erupting with laughter; Huei and Ezhno's hands in his and the Room of a Thousand Fountains as they leap from its highest waterfall; the warm, comforting hold of his master as he half-carries Obi-Wan to safety after an injury in the field; the way Feemor smiles at Huei sometimes, even if Huei cannot see it; the soft glow in the Force between Ezhno and Fyrnock that neither of them can sense but is present when they stand together.
He thinks of Huei Tori, lost and masterless and newly blind, and Feemor Ner'iah's instant willingness to be everything to this lost child that had not been his own.
Obi-Wan wonders what this Sith-trained child before him would be were someone to make her tea like Qui-Gon does for him; show her care without worry of consequence, compassion without price.
And it is with this thought that he understands he could never kill her.
He lowers his lightsaber.
The determined hatred in the girl's eyes gives way to confusion, and Obi-Wan quirks a small, reassuring smile at her.
The acid wash of Dooku's displeasure flashes over Obi-Wan in the Force.
"You are Qui-Gon's padawan, after all," he says, bitter disappointment in his voice, and the hiss-snap of his lightsaber activating drowns out the ringing in Obi-Wan's ears.
The Sith child closes her eyes as Dooku's blade lances towards her chest in his favoured Makashi lunge–
And the scream of plasma meeting plasma echoes through the small chamber as Obi-Wan brings his blade down on Dooku's, scoring a molten rift into the ground at their feet.
Rarely has Obi-Wan seen such obvious shock in Dooku's gaze as there is now, a handsbreath from his own as both of them strain against each others' lightsabers, hands clenched around their hilts and the lightsabers melting a hissing hole in the ground beside them. In the ringing silence, broken only by the buzz of their interlocked blades hissing in the ground, the clatter of the Sith children's footsteps sounds like thunder as they flee into the corridor.
Dooku's wrist twists as though to bring his blade into the path of the last child stumbling past–
–and Obi-Wan reverses his grip and wrenches Dooku's lightsaber out of the way, so that plasma misses the child's hair by a whisper as the child scrambles away.
"Padawan Kenobi!" Dooku thunders, disbelief and something perilously close to rage in his gaze.
Obi-Wan looks up at his grand-master, and shakes his head once.
Something dangerous and dark flashes like a shadow across Dooku's face. His lips part in a growl.
And then suddenly Obi-Wan's vision is filled with the yellow-gold of Dooku's blade, and he throws himself backwards in shock.
"If you refuse to understand this lesson, then I will make you understand," Dooku hisses, his lightsaber a Ysalamiri's tongue that strikes and evades with deadly precision.
Obi-Wan braces under the onslaught – his lightsaber a desperate whirl of sapphire that meets Dooku's in a shower of sparks, turning a strike that would have skewered his chest into one that sears the skin of his upper arm instead. He opens his mouth in a soundless yell and leaps into the currents of the Force, drawing a perfect double-helix above Dooku's head–
But Dooku is right there when Obi-Wan lands, the cold, emotionless mask of his face impassive as he tears Obi-Wan's blade from his grasp with a single flick of the wrist and slashes Obi-Wan's sword hand across the palm with the follow-through.
Pain explodes in Obi-Wan's hand. He falls to his knees, a silent scream almost retching from his lips, staring at his palm.
It is unmarked, but somehow the pain is still there, as though Dooku has drawn a line of fire across his skin.
Shiim, a swordsman's strike to mark dishonour.
It is a damning strike. One that condemns the receiver to shame –that the opponent does not go for the Sun Djiem that would have split the hilt of the lightsaber in two, but marks the sword-hand instead in a clear sign that the receiver keeps his limb only by his opponent's will.
Somewhere down the corridor, there are screams. Children's screams.
Dooku does not stop him as Obi-Wan staggers to his feet and out into the corridor.
Two steps on, he realises he has forgotten his lightsaber, but the horror at what he sees wipes the thought from his mind completely.
The last of the children fall silent, impaled on the blue blade of a russet-cloaked Jedi, who catches the child almost tenderly as she slides off the blade, her Togruta lekku limp.
The Jedi deactivates his lightsaber and lowers the child to the floor. Closes her eyes, arranges her hands on her chest, then lowers his head as if in mourning. Around him, other Jedi are doing the same; passing hands over the heads of the children that fell by their blades, faces full of sorrow.
Obi-Wan lunges for the nearest Jedi and passes clean through him, like smoke dissipating into the wind–
–And the world fragments around him again.
Obi-Wan stumbles to his hands and knees on blue-hued ice, suddenly terribly, terribly cold.
There is no pain in his hand or his arm, nor blood on his clothing. His lightsaber is clipped at his side. He looks up into the soft glow of daylight the edge of the ice cave and the wastes of Ilum beyond, and sees Dooku silhouetted there, gaze unreadable.
Obi-Wan struggles to control his breathing. There is a phantom ache across his sword-hand now, and he lifts his unmarked palm to examine it.
"You are unhurt?"
Obi-Wan raises his head, and does not quite succeed in masking the incredulous revulsion from reaching his face.
Dooku regards Obi-Wan's emotion impassively. "I would not dwell on the matter. We were both aware it was a Force-vision. I highly doubted any injury sustained there would continue here." When Obi-Wan does not reply, he continues. "I trust you know where that was. Temple history lessons cannot be quite so useless."
Obi-Wan stands stiffly, runs his ragged mind over his memories.
"Malachor," he finger-spells, the movement stiff with cold. "I forget which Sith War."
Dooku nods. "Close to four thousand years ago." Then: "I had greater hopes for you than this, Padawan Kenobi."
Obi-Wan looks up sharply. Something dark and seething and dangerous curls at the edge of his consciousness – something he has not felt since Nal Hutta, with Gardulla's oily smile beyond the lash of a vibro-whip.
"The historical texts made no mention of killing children," he says, wielding the words in his hands with the sharpness of a blade. "So I will not apologise for disappointing you, Master Dooku."
Dooku smiles thinly.
"The texts state that the Jedi wiped every last existence of the Sith then from Malachor," he says, as though explaining something to an exceptionally stupid child. "Every. Last. Existence."
The breath stutters in Obi-Wan's chest.
Dooku steps closer.
"Tell me, Padawan Kenobi," he says with a slow, deliberate gravity, "Do you think that if the Sith were to ever storm the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, they would leave the youngest of our order alive?"
No, Obi-Wan knows. They would not.
"But we are not the Sith," he counters instead, and hates the seeping cold that turns his words to slow, disjointed movements.
"No, we are not," Dooku says, face like stone. "But the Sith will continue to be a danger to the galaxy that cannot be fully contained until they are wiped from existence. The Sith were intelligent enough to know that to win their final war against the Jedi, they would have to ensure every last trace of its existence was destroyed. We must to the same with any remnant of the Sith, if we are to ensure the peace of the galaxy."
"They were children," Obi-Wan says, and the shake in his hands is not from cold, now. "They did as they were taught and did not know better."
"Yes," Dooku says plainly. "But that does not diminish their taint in the Force."
Obi-Wan folds his hand into a fist at his side.
"Come now," Dooku says. "You cannot truly believe what our Order did then was so wrong. A few young Sith left alive would have fostered the roots of yet another war."
Blast you to the Sith hells, Obi-Wan thinks.
Perhaps some of this sentiment leaks into the Force. Dooku's lips thin with displeasure as he flicks his cloak over his shoulder and begins to circle him, like an Asharl panther teaching its young to stalk.
"Tell me, Obi-Wan," Dooku begins – Obi-Wan startles at the use of his first name – "Do you think the Order would have freed all the slaves on Nal Hutta, if Stewjon had not declared war upon Hutt Space for your sake?"
Obi-Wan's hands jerk to retort – but pause, halfway into the first word.
Qui-Gon had come for him. Tahl and Feemor as well, when Qui-Gon had rushed on first alone.
But for all those enslaved under the Hutt clan?
It had perhaps been fortunate that Obi-Wan had the title of Crown Prince of Stewjon, then – enough to call attention to the thousands of sentients unwillingly bonded to a life of servitude. But if Stewjon had not come into play, and Corellia, Naboo, and Alderaan with her, Obi-Wan doubts Qui-Gon and the others could have released any of his fellow slaves except Shmi and Anakin. Because Obi-Wan had insisted, then. Insisted that he would not leave without them.
The Order served the Republic. And the Republic did not want to dispute with Hutt Space – not even in the case of slavery.
"So you see," Dooku says calmly, halting before him. "Youth is one thing, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Naïveté is another."
Obi-Wan closes his eyes. He does not wish to let Dooku see the pain in them.
He had known, in the instinctive way those maturing out of youth did, that the Order was not the perfect thing that he had imagined it was when he was a child. It is quite another thing now to see evidence of it himself.
"Did Qui-Gon ever tell you," Dooku says, as though from somewhere far away, "that when Qui-Gon was a padawan, he nearly lost his life to an assassin. I ensured that assassin understood that she would never do such a thing to a padawan of mine again."
Obi-Wan slowly opens his eyes. Looks up to meet Dooku's dark, tunnel-like gaze. He has an inkling that the assassin's understanding involved a lot of pain and a lightsaber.
"But if she had been a Sith," Dooku continues, "If she had been a Sith, and I had to give up Qui-Gon to ensure her death, I would have."
Obi-Wan forgets to breathe. "Your own padawan," he signs slowly, disbelievingly. "The apprentice you swore to teach, to protect."
There is a terrible finality to Dooku's expression, now – the face of one who has turned over a question again and again in his long-fingered hands, and found the answer an agony he cannot bear, but chooses to follow it all the same. "It would have wounded me beyond your imagining. But I would have done it. We must ensure no trace of the Sith remains in the galaxy. Not now, and not ever."
And then, even more softly: "You understand now, why I gave up Huei's apprenticeship."
The wind has become more than ice, now. It is a knife that plunges deep between the folds of Obi-Wan's tunics, deep into his bones.
Beyond the opening of the cave, Ilum's sun has begun to set, and long shadows crawl from the feet of the two Jedi.
Dooku's gaze holds Obi-Wan in place with unwavering intensity.
"Is this the lesson you wished to teach, then?" Obi-Wan asks, eventually. "The sacrifice of any and all for this cause?"
"Yes," Dooku says. "If it meant the final destruction of any remnant of the Sith. Do you understand, Obi-Wan? If there comes a moment – any moment – you had to choose between ridding the galaxy of the Sith or saving Qui-Gon, or any of your compatriots – you choose the Sith. If Qui-Gon or any of your friends ever turned, it would be your duty to kill them."
Qui-Gon. Huei and Ezhno. Feemor and Tahl. Anakin and Shmi, far-flung and lost they may be in the wastes of the galaxy.
Anakin, with his tiny, chubby hands clutching Obi-Wan's river stone, whose presence in the Force was so unsullied and clear that it had brought Obi-Wan out of the despair of defeat at Gardulla's hands and given him new reason to fight anew.
If Anakin ever fell into the darkness…
The scent of molten lava and burning sand drifts into the air, from a future far in the distance, towards which space-time bends like woven silk in a furled shatterpoint…
He couldn't. Not if Qui-Gon, or Huei, or Feemor, or Anakin fell.
Obi-Wan's hands rise of their own accord.
"I don't think I can," he says. "And I…do not think it is right."
Dooku turns away.
"Then you are a fool, Obi-Wan Kenobi," he says, and the tightly furled loneliness in his Force-signaure shakes Obi-Wan to his core. "I only hope that when the shatterpoint comes, you are not the one to make that final decision."
Obi-Wan has had enough.
He moves past Dooku and strides towards the cave opening. The full glare of Ilum's sunset slams into him, blinds him for a long moment.
But the wind does not prevent Dooku's finishing words from reaching him, lancing through the icy air like a Makashi strike to his heart. There is something not dissimilar to regret in Dooku's tone.
"That attachment will kill you, you know."
Obi-Wan stuffs his blue hands into his sleeves, grits his teeth against the cold, and staggers onwards against the wind, leaving Dooku trailing in his long, warped shadow.
Next up: The situation on Coruscant changes abruptly, and Obi-Wan slides further towards an unavoidable shatterpoint.
Thanks for reading, guys! I've wanted to write this chapter for a long while - but its setting and the assault on one of Malachor's Sith temples came to me just as I started to write this chapter proper, because I wanted it to mirror a specific scene from Star Wars canon.
I've crossposted a bunch more works to AO3 since I posted the last chapter of this fic, including a new fic that will chronicle Obi-Wan and Satine's letters to each other after they separate on Mandalore in their youth. Happy reading!