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Anakin rested quietly, meditating in the wash of Force power that still flowed in the Temple. It was particularly strong here, a place where the greatest Jedi of the Order – beings for which Anakin still held disgusted contempt – had deliberated for ages. It strengthened him in the Light, and, by consequence, in the Dark, for subdued feelings, forbidden by the Code, had even existed here. Fear from Mace Windu, anger from Yoda, and… Obi-Wan… was that… love? 


Anakin almost fell from the current of the Force that he rode, as the vestigial feelings of Obi-Wan Kenobi rose in a cresting wave beneath him. Anakin finally came to several realizations at once.


First: Obi-Wan had loved him as brother.


That was no great shock; Anakin had loved him as well, but Obi-Wan was different; he wasn't supposed to love, he was the quintessential Jedi of all Jedi – and he actually loved? 


Second: Obi-Wan had known about Padme.


Anakin grimaced. Obi-Wan had been torn. Should he help Anakin with Padme, knowing what stability it gave his friend's life, or should he be loyal to the Order? An impossible conundrum, Anakin realized – almost as difficult as the one Sidious had placed before him a few hours prior.


Now flaming rage at Sidious added itself to Anakin's ice-cold bitterness and anger, and he began to actively search for clones, noting a few stragglers here and there, in the hallways, making their way up, inexorably up... toward where he was standing, passionately impassionate, before a huddled cluster of terrified younglings.


An echo in the Force caught his attention. Clone troopers, nine of them, making their way toward the Council chamber, riding the turbolift toward their imminent death at the hands of a Jedi-turned-madman.


Opening his eyes to the Padawans behind him and closing them to that oil-slicked pool of the Force, he said, "They are coming, Padawans. Get down behind the barricade. I shall handle this… personally."


The younglings obeyed without question, now gathering behind the makeshift barricade that they had created. Now some of their fear began to calm; the Master would care for them.


Anakin felt this collective thought in the Force as he stepped out the door and stood before the door of the turbolift, waiting, waiting… knowing that he could only do so much, suddenly feeling his unlimited confidence wane, realizing that he could die here, and he'd never see his wife again… that he might actually fail for once in his life.


Vader stirred angrily. That Sith-spawn, Sidious, did this to us.


Anakin nodded absentmindedly. He tricked us. We were just a tool.


A pawn, Vader acquiesced.


The turbolift door opened with a hiss, echoed by Anakin's blade firing to life. Before the clones could react, a blue lightsaber blade had taken off hands and arms, and they were staggering back, wondering what in the worlds could have sent Vader off the deep end just as their template lives were burned away.


A random shot suddenly struck the turbolift controls, and the door hissed shut, almost catching Anakin in it, and he sprang back as one last living clone tried to step up as the door came to, catching him by the arm. The soldier let out a scream of terror as the turbolift dropped to the ground level, called by another squad of troopers at the lower levels.


Anakin couldn't suppress a grimace as he kicked the severed arm aside. How unpleasant.


Suddenly, the turbolift on the other side of the hall was open, and as blue blaster bolts flashed through, Anakin became the Hero with No Fear again. He was among the troopers now as they tried to escape the deathtrap, spreading in a semi-circle of blistering blue fire that the dark Jedi Knight turned aside with an easy twirl of his saber. Spinning, ducking across the floor, his very body was a weapon, blade slicing through armorplast, the Force shattering glare visors.


Yet the troopers still came, blindly rushing to their destruction, driven by some force that Anakin couldn't see but he could feel… It was getting closer now as he backed away, toward the doors of the Council chambers, toward the younglings who waited, earnestly expecting Anakin to save them as he fought against impossible odds.


This was what he was born for. Saving people.


And then, through the eye of the Force, framed by shimmering red, he could see him.


Darth Sidious.


As his blade eagerly trimmed another head from its shoulders, Anakin realized that Sidious was coming to claim him. Vader raged at the idea, and he screamed across the Force, Come for us, schutta!


A reply sizzled through the Force. Not one of words, but of lightning.


Anakin had dealt with Sith lightning before. Dooku had blasted him with it on Geonosis at the beginning of this gods-forsaken war. But that was nothing like this.


This was an angry claw of hatred, dazzling him with its intensity as it tore through the flesh of clone troopers like an angry vaapad, reaching for him, trying to tear his life away. Instead of succumbing, Anakin remembered Obi-Wan, and he raised his saber.


The lightning was suddenly caught, trapped in the grip of Anakin's saber as it scintillated through the air, landing ineffective as Sidious stepped from the shadows, hands upraised, as contorted as the lightning-fingers that spread from the depths of his soul.


Suddenly, they were all alone. Just Darth Vader and Darth Sidious. The former apprentice, and the former master.


Anakin grimaced as he held back the phosphorescent bolts, letting their grinding hatred flow into him, empowering yet weakening him with each passing second. Then, bitter, caustic rage filling him, he spoke:


"Darth Sidious. When I left you, I was the learner. Now, I will be the Master."


Sidious grinned a tortured grin, the corners of his deformed mouth turning up in an expression of amusement. "A master of what, pray tell? You are a traitor, Anakin Skywalker. A traitor to the Republic, a traitor to the Jedi, a traitor to the Sith. Forlorn and friendless."


The Vader in Anakin recognized the words as the Sith technique of dun moch, an attempt to distract the opponent with words, thereby opening them up to… dismemberment, torture, whichever method of death the Sith desired. But the Anakin within him, always undisciplined and unstable, burned at the insult and tried to lunge.


Suddenly, Sidious' lightning was no longer angrily reflecting off of Anakin's lightsaber blade. Now it was actually digging into the flesh of the erstwhile Jedi, slamming him angrily against the closed door to the Council chambers with a resounding clang. The Sith Lord laughed deep in his throat. Then, a twitch of the Force and his holdout saber was in his hand, blood-red blade glowing malevolently.


Anakin tried to stir, but for all his rage and hatred, he was impotent. Again. Unable to do anything, just left to sit back and watch as the Sith Lord stepped toward him with all the menace of a vicious rancor. Abandoned by the Force, left to sit back and feel Sidious' saber in his gut, left to hear Sidious' voice down by his ear as the Sith Lord laid his free hand on the Jedi Knight's head, saying, "Let me show you something…"


Watching as he is swept up into the future by a black current of the Force.


Watching as a black-clad figure – my son – takes careful, measured steps toward where the Emperor sits.


Watching as Sidious ruthlessly lances the boy with Sith lightning. Unable to move.


Watching as the boy dies, his body turned into a twisted, burned corpse.


No!


Watching as the galaxy perishes in holocaust. And the current dropped him, and he was lying on the floor, Sidious' blade no longer in his gut, but the Sith Lord right in his face, smiling softly, that knowing, patronizing smile that made Vader want to tear the face right off the old man. And once more, Palpatine spoke to his one-time apprentice.


"Congratulations."


Far away from – yet completely within -- the home he had always known, a Dark Jedi falls friendless, unloved, hated by both sides of the conflict. His name is now a watchword for weakness. The Sith revile him. The Jedi draw away from his memory with horror. He is Anakin Skywalker.


And thus enveloped in his thoughts does Darth Vader – Anakin Skywalker – expire, breathing out as blood fills his lungs. In the background noise, he can hear a child's high scream of terror, and he knows that Sidious has found the younglings.


His thoughts go out to his loved ones.


Padme. I'm sorry, my love. So sorry Please forgive me. 


His unborn child. Will he ever forgive me before the end?


Obi-Wan Kenobi. Old friend, I took you for granted. Forgive me.


Then, in the last seconds as he labors for air that refuses to enter his body, his thoughts suddenly turn to the Force and he realizes that it tried to guide him all along. Trying to keep him on the path of the Light like a familiar Jedi he once knew, and suddenly he sees the face of the Force, wrenched with grief and disappointment: Qui-Gon Jinn. Anakin sobs out to him, screams in sudden agony: Forgive me!


Then, Anakin Skywalker dreams again. He is swept up through space and time, hurtling past incidents that amaze and confuse him, beings in the throes of war, the deaths of countless innocents in pointless combat again and again and again, until Years later, Luke Skywalker stands over the chasm where the Emperor has just fallen, and he wonders if his father would have been proud. As his eyes open and the synthetic blood-red shine of his blade slowly extinguishes, he contemplates his new title and murmurs it aloud, savoring it as it passes between his lips.


Dark Lord of the Sith. 

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