(Based on characters created by George Lucas)
Fire raged through his soul as he crossed the chasm in his mind. So close to the target. So close to revenge. So close to redemption. Redemption from all those lost souls caught in Palpatine’s vast web of treachery. Treachery Anakin was about to put a stop to. Once and for all.
His lightsaber shone in the darkness as he approached Palpatine’s throne. Its large imposing form dominated the room it stood in, emanating red light that shone like a warning for all that Anakin sought to destroy. Including perhaps, himself.
“Ah young master Anakin...the dark side is STRONG with you...” said Palpatine, emerging from the shadows, his eyes full of malice as he eyed the enraged Anakin.
“Come a long way you have my young one. Tell me…how long ago did she die?” he said, almost mockingly.
Anakin’s rage boiled like a volcano and sparks of lightning emerged from his hands to the ground.
“Not long enough, my old companion,” replied Anakin, now readying himself for the inevitable. “Your doom lies ahead, yet far removed from hers and twice the pain.”
Palpatine grinned at Anakin, feeling his rage grow as the Sith within him began to emerge.
“So be it...young Vader,” he said, ready for his plan to unfold like clockwork.
With that, Anakin’s eyes glinted red and Palpatine was thrust backwards. Force lightning emanated from Anakin’s hands in a display of pure power that was felt by Master Yoda all the way back on Coruscant, the place lit by pulsating energy that shone with the vibrancy of a thousand suns.
All the while, Palpatine cried out with laughter as Anakin tore into him, pulling him further into the grip of the dark side.
Meanwhile, some distance away, Obi-Wan Kenobi made his way in a star fighter to the scene of the crime. His vehicle stalked silently, undetected through lanes of Republic ships that headed towards Mustafar, Palpatine’s last stronghold and sanctuary of all that was left of his now dying regime.
He passed by one ship that reminded him of home, a distant world now teeming with life as a new century began and promises of hope emerged. He smiled as he powered forward, and emerged into the atmosphere of the deceptively dark world with no hint of enemy activity to be found.
He and the republic members knew this was a trap, laid by Palpatine to lure them in once they were within firing range, and he knew that many other Jedi lay waiting for such an attack, ready for the snake to strike.
Obi-Wan however wasn’t here for such frivolities. He and Master Yoda were aware of a great disturbance in the force, and he knew that, if he didn’t get there in time, there wouldn’t be much left of either Palpatine or his increasingly former friend. Palpatine was to be brought before the courts who lay waiting for him, and the law had to be abided by. A law he served and respected, and one which Anakin had long since forsaken in the name of revenge. A name that the Jedi refused to associate themselves with.
He lay his fighter down on a large metallic dome, one of many that formed the heart of a giant lava processing network which provided fuel for the planets main industries.
Entering through a doorway concealed at its base, a labyrinth of industrial tunnels lay ahead of him, but he used his force intuition to reach one particular sector which was full of piping that shot out steam at regular intervals.
He very quickly saw lightning as he rounded a corner and could barely make out the figure of his former friend and pupil, who was now shooting intense lightning into the almost limp body of Palpatine on the floor.
“ANAKIN! Stop!” Obi-wan shouted, his voice echoing through the vast infrastructure which now held the last chance of redemption for either man.
Anakin immediately shut down, and turned to Obi-Wan, his eyes full of hate and fury as lightning twitched from his hands.
“You...” he replied, now entering unstable ground.
“Anakin...” said Obi-wan, diplomatically “listen to me, what you are doing is wrong...this is the not the Jedi way...he must...”
“MUST WHAT!” Anakin boomed in response as Obi-Wan stood back a gasp, his voice reverberating through the place like thunder.
“Must...what, old friend?” Anakin said in a calmer, almost mocking tone.
His lightsaber quivered as Obi-Wan readied himself silently, a picture of zen calm if ever there was one.
“Must stand trial my old friend...he is a villain, yes, but we cannot become like him...he must go through the courts, you know this, you know it’s the Jedi way. The right way,” Obi-Wan said, trying to appeal to him.
Anakin merely regarded him with amusement.
“You really think that the courts will deal with the likes of him?” said Anakin, pointing towards the quivering wreck that now lay on the floor, barely recognizable now as Palpatine, his face horribly contorted, and his hands now reaching out for mercy.
“He is nothing. He is FILTH, and will die by my hand,” Anakin said, determined to carry out his only course of action.
Obi-Wan looked on, a sigh etched across his face.
“Anakin...he is a Sith, yes, but you are no better than him if you succumb to this...rage,” he said as he then reached out with the force.
“I can feel it...it consumes you, I had such high hopes Anakin. Hopes that you would reach a higher place than this, that you would become our best but this?” he said, gesturing to Palpatine, “this is madness.”
Anakin merely looked on with disgust and back to Palpatine.
“The whole republic is madness Obi-Wan,” said Anakin, his voice grim with reality “what we’ve dedicated our lives to...what we’ve defeated, all the wars we’ve fought...the values we’ve upheld. It’s madness. I’m merely aiming to bring an end to it once and for all. Maybe the Sith have a point...emotion is crucial, and cannot be withheld.”
He shot Obi-Wan a look.
“Or suppressed,” he said, now in a darkened tone.
Obi-Wan could feel the tension building and subtly prepared himself for action.
“What are you saying Anakin? that you’ll succumb to the dark side?” he said, his voice full of worry.
“No...” said Anakin, “but it is tempting...after all, who better than to destroy him than another...one who can come back from the dark...who can beat that which no other Jedi can face, or control.”
“Even you,” he said, looking at Obi-Wan more intently.
“This is a dangerous game you are playing...” said Obi-Wan, “the force is a powerful ally...a sacred companion...one that demands total respect from all those who wield it...not corrupt it...the Jedi are...”
Anakin cut him off.
“The Jedi...” said Anakin, now outraged, “a feeble enterprise of old men who could not see the evil that lurked, right within their grasp. The Jedi are weak. WE are strong. WE are the chosen ones. The force can only tolerate so many weak fools before they must be stamped out utterly. And I am the cure.”
Obi-Wan couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Anakin had been so destroyed by Padmé’s death he could no longer see reason. Only hate. Hate towards all those but himself, whom he now regarded as the savior of the Galaxy. The only one to defeat the Sith and the Jedi once and for all. Ending their centuries long conflict for good.
“Anakin...” said Obi-Wan, now clearly struggling, “you are my friend...you are my brother, and I am sorry for your loss...truly...but this is not the way. This is the dark side, and if you will not let me apprehend this man and return to the way things were…well…”
He exposed his lightsaber hilt.
“I will have no other choice...old friend,” said Obi-Wan, now reluctantly.
Anakin merely looked back at Palpatine and smiled.
“You have no idea what this man did to me...what he took away from me...all that I ever cared about, all that I ever loved...no more. Slain by a vain coward who killed an innocent. All alone in a dark room with no hope of escape. No hope of comfort. No hope for a hero…just when she needed him the most. No, Obi-Wan,” he said, preparing his power once last time, “he has to die, and by my hand it shall be.”
Obi-Wan closed his eyes at that moment and reached out. Reached out to a distant past where memories were happy and he and Anakin shared adventures like brothers. Blood brothers. Blood brothers who were now to spill each others, and determine the fate of the Galaxy. He felt Anakin’s rage, all of his hate, building up for years in secret that only Master Yoda knew about. A firebrand of jealously over Padmé, resentment at Obi-Wan, resentment of all those who did not use the force to its full potential. A firebrand ready to unleash sparks of death that would erupt over the whole Galaxy, extinguishing its light forever.
“So be it,” he said, sighing wearily, and igniting his lightsaber for perhaps the last time.
Obi-Wan deflected Anakin’s lightning and the fight began, master against pupil, ally against ally. Friend against friend. The battle above began too, Palpatine’s forces emerging from the darkness like sparks of the furnace that now raged below, alighting all before them as ship engaged ship.
The battle was drawn as Anakin fought fiercely. All of his rage now directed at Obi-Wan, who dared to stand in the way of his form of justice. The only justice. Brothers were now enemies, who not only anticipated the others next move, but fought in epic displays of force energy that had to be seen to be believed. Anakin threw pipes at his former master who deflected them before shoving Anakin into a wall, ploughing away half of its surface in turn before throwing Anakin’s lightning into the now enraged steam pipes, which now hissed with fury as anger filled the space with hate. Hate emanating from Anakin like a lit fuse of pure energy.
His voice echoed demonically through the passageways, now lit by red as the steam collided with lightsaber blades, causing them to flicker and pulsate as if drawn by some imaginary hand. A hand that now propelled them both further and further towards the vast lava fields that the factory now harvested for energy.
Meanwhile, Palpatine’s insane laughter could be heard, echoing through the halls as he felt Anakin becoming a rage filled creature of hate. The creature he wanted to tame and make his own.
It had not been difficult to kill Padmé. Soon after revealing himself to Anakin, he had predictably tried to destroy him, but Palpatine was too cunning for that, easily deflecting him and journeying to his secret hideaway deep in the capital bowls. There, he dispatched an assassin, who carefully and secretly slew her while she lay in bed, leaving enough evidence behind to send Anakin a message: come find me.
Anakin, inconsolable and full of fury, journeyed to the planet in secret and found Palpatine just as he expected. By now Republic Forces had tracked him down and were engaging his last remaining reserves of Confederacy forces as Palpatine held back his secret ace in the hole. A flaw in the system that would allow him complete and total victory. And one he was happy to sit on until the time was right.
He now contented himself by feeling Anakin’s rage now reaching fever pitch as he duelled his former master, the dark side taking hold as Anakin lost control.
By now Anakin’s eyes blazed with hate, and Obi-Wan had to struggle to regain control of the fight, which was now reaching a vast lava field, serviced by mechanical droids and walkways that hovered above it, gently drawing in the energy that emanated it.
They fought like the end of the world was upon them, and indeed it was. Far above, Republic warships engaged hundreds of smaller fighters that now emerged, wasp-like from the factories hidden inside Palpatine’s War Planet, a vast and elaborate construction that he intended for this very purposes. Ships of untold numbers swarmed around the vast ships they attacked, blasting massive holes in their sides, and occasionally coming together into much larger vehicles before disengaging to resume the attack. It was an Ungodly spectacle, and Republic forces fought for their lives, before quickly gaining the upper hand as Palpatine intended.
Far below, above the lava field, Obi-Wan was holding on for dear life. His friend, now turned enemy, hovered above him as force lightning swirled around him like some insane tornado of energy. Anakin had played with him like a rag doll, before force choking him and throwing him off the catwalk, which he now lifted and dangled above the raging lava below. His energy was now focused entirely on his surroundings, and Obi-Wan was but an insignificant insect that he had firmly under his control.
Obi-Wan could now no longer feel his friend, the dark side energy now being so intense that it blocked out everything else and merely presented a black hole of energy, sucking in everything in its path.
He had never felt anything like it before, an energy of such immense proportions that it now rippled through the force, weakening Jedi already fighting for their lives on ships being invaded by Palpatine’s troops.
Anakin could not control himself, shooting vast lightning bolts into the walls and machinery that he now made into vehicles - thousands of small war machines that shot out through holes in the ceiling that he created, sending them flying up into the melee above.
The ships now resembled a straight line of pure energy as they tore into the battle above, sending Palpatine’s ships flying and bursting into Republic ships that in turn crumbled under their combined might, several now disintegrating into the atmosphere below.
From Padmé’s death a new being was born - a being so powerful that reality was now dented from its presence. Its presence in the force created ripples that extended all the way to master Yoda, who knew it portended something far worse - an entity of such singular power and unity that it was the force. A force to be reckoned with and an instrument of reckoning that was now beyond any higher form but itself.
He was now beyond death. Beyond Jedi. Beyond Sith. He was a singularity. A force of sheer power and will that could bend the Galaxy to whatever he wanted. Like the ships he mended, he now sought to create his own vehicle of destruction. To bend the very fabric of reality to his liking and become the ultimate instrument of order and salvation in the Galaxy. He was now, a God. Something which both Palpatine and Obi-Wan knew had to be destroyed. Or at least, brought back down to Earth. In this case, lava. He was, for all intents and purposes, the fallen angel. And they both knew it.
“ANAKIN STOP!” Obi-Wan cried out to his friend who was now surrounded by a whirlpool of intense energy and debris that resembled a shield as he levitated above the lava field.
“This is madness...I can’t hold on for much longer!” he yelled, now hanging on for dear life.
Anakin merely opened his eyes, his thoughts now turning to his former master, whom he held like a piece of fruit at the end of a long branch, waiting to snap.
“You’re right...you can’t...goodbye, Obi-Wan,” Anakin said, his eyes turning red then white, as he prepared to end it all, one and for all. However, just at that moment, Palpatine shot out enough lightning to upset Anakin’s equilibrium, sending him crashing back down to Earth, along with all the debris he had now created.
It all came tumbling down in a vast display of hubris that was now his fate, Anakin struggling to regain position as he fell on a walkway that both he and Obi-Wan now managed to keep afloat.
The two opponents now eyed each other, face to face, Obi-Wan’s a face of grit and sheer determination, while Anakin could only look on with rage.
Obi-Wan managed to exert just enough force power to keep Anakin at bay for the time being.
“Anakin...don’t make me destroy you...you are my friend, and I wish to help,” said Obi-Wan, now desperately trying to reach what was left of his old friend.
He merely looked on with disgust.
“I am beyond you Obi-Wan...” said Anakin, “I am beyond all things, and now you will die here, at the end of all things.”
He ignited his lightsaber, and tossed Obi-Wan his, which he had taken from him earlier.
“Goodbye...old friend,” said Anakin, now ready to take his place among the stars he sought to control.
“Goodbye...Anakin,” said Obi-Wan, nodding with grim acknowledge and steadying himself for the last goodbye.
The two immediately clashed in a fight so swift and deadly it was over in seconds, with seconds becoming minutes as Anakin’s rage forced him to overstep himself. A step which Obi-Wan had sadly predicted and allowed him to succumb to, sending him over the edge and into the lava.
Anakin cried out as the lava consumed him, trying desperately to shield himself from it, but to no avail. Obi-Wan simply looked on with sadness as his friend contorted and writhed in agony. Up above, many Jedi masters did the same, now falling at the hands of Palpatine’s Stormtroopers who by now were carrying out their orders.
Obi-Wan felt this, and rushed away from the scene as Palpatine hovered nearby, preventing the lava from consuming Anakin and raising him onto the platform above and instructing his minions to convey Anakin to the nearest medical facility.
He stared at Anakin with grim pride as Anakin returned his gaze with dying rage - the dark side consuming him, and whatever was left of him now disintegrating in the lava that burned with fierce intensity.
Anakin would become Darth Vader. If only to serve the master he would one day face to kill again, this time for good. For now, though, he let the dark side take him, and Anakin Skywalker vanished into a deep well of rage and grief that he would be held in, like a prisoner, for many years to come.
As he did, one last memory returned to him. It was of Padmé and he, together on Naboo, before the dark times came. Her hair was Golden in the sunlight, and he kissed her cheek as she caressed his. A silent moment of joy that would remain with Anakin for the rest of his life. And one that would greet him again when he paid the ultimate sacrifice, many years later.
She would be waiting for him, and he knew it. All that remained now was to serve his new master, and wait for the moment of reckoning, which he knew would draw in hand sooner, rather than later.
In the meantime, Palpatine’s forces spread like a virus, and consumed the Galaxy in their tight grasp for what seemed like an eternity. The dark mask of Vader became its symbol, one of oppression that many would come to fear and respect. A mask that Kylo Ren now awoke to, as he emerged from a dream of altered history and deep regret. Regret that he never lived to see his great hero at the height of his power. Never lived to fight by his side.
He would now carry that regret with him for the rest of his life, waiting for the moment when he could come face to face with this legend from the past. A legend now waiting for him, on the other side.
Authors note/disclaimer: I do not own the characters of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Master Yoda or Palpatine, and based their characterizations on the movie portrayals for which I have great fondness. All comments and reviews welcome :) May the force be with you!