Author's Note: This is my first fanfic, so please, not too rough. Send the comments to me privately. Star Wars /Sil crossover.

Before I forget: OBLIGATORY LEGAL BLATHER: Don't own them, not making any money off them. This is purely for the edification of my own overrated egomania.

Oh, and see if anyone can guess who the "mysterious stranger " is? You may, if you know your literature well enough!;-)

It's Never Too Late…

Darth Sideous, better known to the Galaxy at large as Chancellor Palpatine of the Galactic Republic, turned from the mirror in which he had been examining his ravaged face. He then went and stood in front of a young, black-clad Jedi Knight who had just saved his life… possibly at the cost of his own soul.

"Kneel before me, Anakin Skywalker," Palpatine said. Anakin hesitated for a brief instant, and then knelt.

Palpatine placed his hands upon Anakin's head. "Is it by your will and desire that you join your destiny with that of the Sith?" he asked. Before Anakin could reply, another voice spoke up.

"You're making a grave mistake, you know," it said.

Palpatine looked up and took a step back as Anakin leapt up and whirled to face the doorway to the Chancellor's office. There, leaning against a wall, stood a hooded and cloaked figure who had, unheard, unseen and, most important of all, unfelt, had entered the room and was now casually studying them. Anakin immediately took a defensive posture between Palpatine and the strange figure, while Palpatine readied himself for possible action. Then, both men began to examine the stranger.

For one, it was tall, taller than all but a few humanoids. Secondly, the manner of its dress was not that of a Jedi. It was dressed in a long, blue-black circular cloak, trimmed in an intricate embroidered band of silver interlocked knots, similar to those that were found in certain ancient documents in the Galactic Art Museum, worked on a band of a lighter blue material that looked as though it was that almost legendary material called silk. It was clasped at the right shoulder with a large brooch, and its hood was drawn over the stranger's head, leaving only the nose and mouth visible.

The brooch itself was a marvel of craftsmanship, and was obviously hand-made. It was circular in design, and had a diamond shaped coloured field worked into it. The diamond-shape itself contained a thin, black circle that looked as if it was made of some black gemstone inlayed into the surface. The four corners of the diamond-shape outside the circle were filled with a light-purple enamel, and were divided into two halves by long, wavy flames of inlayed red gemstone that reached into a third, inner circle. Inside the circle was a yellow enamel field divided not only by the four long, wavy flames of red gemstone, but by another four wavy flames of the same stone, coming out of the same source as the long tongues of flame, but only reaching to the rim of the black circle. The third, inner circle consisted of a bright, sky-blue crystalline material and it was divided up into eight, wedge-shaped coloured segments. Each segment had at its core a wedge-shaped diamond chip, and consisted of segments of brightly coloured enamel. There were only four colours, and were arranged so that they alternated in such a fashion that blue was opposite blue, green was opposite green, orange was opposite orange and red opposite red. But the true glory was the large, globular, uncut gemstone at the centre. It shone not by catching the light and refracting it, but as if it burned with an inner fire of its own. The silver surrounding the oblong was delicately chased in a gracefully flowing script that neither man could identify. Overall, the brooch could have looked gaudy, but the delicacy of its craftsmanship and the quality of its material meant that, by itself, it could have easily commanded the price of one of the most exclusive estates on Corsucant itself.

The cloak was thrown back to reveal a red lining that, again, seemed to be of that mythical material called silk. It also revealed a dark-green tunic that was also of the same material. Extending to above the knees and slit to the hip for ease of movement, and with loose sleeves that extended to just above the elbows, it too was trimmed, but this time in a gold knot-work embroidery on a red background at the hem, sleeve cuffs and at the neck opening. From within the neck opening something glistened, as though he wore some inner shirt made of woven metal. The tunic was belted at the waist with a belt that consisted of fine gold leaves. Each was an individual work of art in itself, with the veins of each leaf delicately picked out in silver, so that no two leaves were alike. It was fastened at the front with a clasp that was shaped to resemble a delicate, six-petaled white flower.

From it hung, at the left hip, a pouch of the type that one usually put things such as identity and banking cards, as well as spare credits. The difference with this one was that it was of tooled leather, worked over in a delicate botanical motif and stained in such a manner as to give the impression that it was worked of flowers and leaves. Next to it hung a standard communicator pouch. On the right side, though, hung what seemed to be a lightsabre.

It was, thought Anakin, the oddest lightsabre that he had ever seen. Its energy-cell (if that was what it was) had been worked into the shape of a chased pommel normally found on antique swords. The handgrip was covered in what appeared to be the skin of some kind of fish, and was bound to the weapon with fine silver filigree executed in a botanical motif. Near the emitter array were two small projecting wings, almost where, on an antique sword, one might expect to find a cross guard. Finally, the actuator stud for the lightsabre was, not as one might expect, a plasteel stud, but a smoothened circular gemstone.

On his forearms he wore two metallic bracers. Both were of a silvery metal and intricately chased, with a motif of two trees and what appeared to be three gems. But on his right hand he wore a black glove, which was similar to those worn to ease burn marks, while his left hand was bare. Both hands, though, looked strong, with long, slender fingers.

His trousers and boots, although in themselves finely crafted, were, by comparison with the rest of his clothing, almost disappointingly plain. The trousers were of the same colour as his tunic, but of a more robust, but still finely woven material and were tucked into plain, light brown, soft leather boots that laced up at the front That may explain how come we never heard him, though Anakin, but it still doesn't plain how come we never felt his presence. He has a lightsabre of some kind, but then, no Jedi I know of would dress like that!

The stranger, with virtually no effort, and with a catlike grace, pushed himself off the wall he was leaning against, and, again with a catlike grace, walked over towards where Mace Windu had stood when he accused Palpatine of being a Sith Lord. That alone, when added that he was clearly concealing his presence in the Force, warned both men that this was a very, very dangerous opponent in front of them. Despite the shift in position, however, the upper half of his face was still concealed by his cloak's hood. All it showed was a nose that was too perfect to be truly human, and a mouth that, save for the lines of an old pain that was not forgotten and, indeed, may have still been with him, would have been equally perfect. From within the hood, however, glittered two eyes that seemed to have some kind of bright fire within them.

Palpatine drew himself erect and, in an effort to regain the initiative, demanded, in as an imperious voice he could muster, "What do you mean by coming in here and making that statement? And who were you referring to anyway?"

The stranger shrugged, and took a step closer. "As to the first question, well, I speak from personal experience. About swearing oaths that none should make and none should take." As he spoke, he held up his gloved right hand. "As to the second, I was referring to young Anakin Skywalker here," he said.

Anakin was startled. "You know who I am?"

"Yes," said the stranger. "I've been watching you for some time now… both of you," he said. "I've also been watching the Jedi Order as well as the Sith. Personally, I think they made an error in not fully trusting you, something I intend to take up with Yoda and the rest of the Jedi Council… those who survive… when I see them."

"But you are no Jedi!" shouted Palpatine.

"Very observant, for one so blinded by his own fears," calmly replied the stranger.

"What do you know about my 'fears'", sneered the Sith Lord.

"More than you realise. Your fear of death, of loss of control, of being at the mercy of others, certain that you would get none… Oh yes, youngster, I know you and your kind quite well."

As the stranger spoke, Anakin watched both him and Palpatine. It seemed to Anakin that Palpatine flinched at every word the stranger spoke, as though he was physically attacking him. Anakin also noticed that there was a stirring in the Force around the stranger. To his Jedi-trained senses, it appeared that the stranger was starting to reveal the true nature of his impact on the Force. His strength, to Anakin's senses, showed as a light being filtered through a piece of paper… like an old-fashioned candle shining through an equally old-fashioned paper lantern.

"You know much… for one who is not a Jedi," said Anakin.

"Indeed," replied the stranger, as he shifted into a posture that, though graceful and relaxed, Anakin recognised would enable him to spring into action at either of them if he needed to.

Anakin felt another stirring in the Force… this one darker than the stranger's, and realised that Palpatine was attempting to probe the stranger's mind. The slight smile on the stranger's pain-afflicted mouth told Anakin that he was well aware of what Palpatine was up to. To Anakin's astonishment, he realised that not only was the stranger aware, he was amused by Palpatine's attempt to probe his mind.

"Have the Sith truly forgotten all about me?" asked the stranger in a lightly mocking tone of voice. "Or did you kill your master before he could pass that knowledge on to you? Or has that knowledge been lost, to both the Jedi and the Sith?" he asked, turning his gaze on Anakin.

Palpatine, seeing his opponent distracted by Anakin's presence, increased the pressure of his probe on the stranger's defences, which, from the even broader smile that appeared on his face, amused him even more. "There are things that you cannot even begin to dream of," he said to Palpatine, "things far older, darker, fouler and more powerful than you could possibly imagine. And I've faced them all. Compared to them," he continued, "you are but a stripling, as was your Sith master before you." This calmly-spoken barb appeared to enrage Palpatine. With sweat breaking out on his brow, Palpatine increased his efforts to penetrate the stranger's defences. And, letting a wicked grin break out on his face, the stranger lowered his defences so suddenly and unexpected that Anakin felt it, and realised that he had done so just enough so that Palpatine would find out who he faced.

At first Palpatine, so intent was he on breaking through his opponent's defences, let a look of triumph cross his ravaged features as he felt them go down. This was replaced by a look of puzzlement, as he realised that their collapse had been deliberate, and then a look of shocked realisation as he found out who his opponent was. With a cry of rage mixed with fear, Palpatine leapt back and, raising both arms, sent a torrent of Force lightning from his fingertips towards the stranger. The stranger, however, made no attempt to either parry the blast with his lightsabre, as had Master Windu, or to catch it in his bare hands and curl it up on itself, as had Master Yoda. Instead, he let it flow through him and around him, creating a kind of twisting aura about him and whipping his cloak back as though it was in a strong wind.

The stranger then threw back the hood of his cloak and, with a single movement of his left hand, unclasped the brooch that held it together and let the lightning whip it back, to finally come to rest against a wall. Now both Anakin and Palpatine saw what the stranger's face looked like. It was an ageless face, framed in a mane of auburn hair that was held back in a ponytail. Only the fine lines of pain that were at the corners of both eyes and mouth marred its ethereal beauty, and only the eyes, which now blazed with a clean, clear fire through irises as blue as ice chips, betrayed that this was indeed a truly ancient being. And, as he let his cloak fly aside, Anakin felt the stranger reveal his true presence in the Force. It was blinding, as though someone had uncovered a lantern in a darkened room and let its light shine forth.

Palpatine dropped his hands and, gasping for breath, staggered back against his desk. The stranger looked at Anakin, and said, "Young Jedi, I suggest you move to one side." Anakin, too stunned with what he had just witnessed, obeyed. The stranger then looked at Palpatine and said, "Now that we have vented that particular little outburst of temper, are we (and may the One help me, this is so cliché," he muttered under his breath), "going to come along quietly, or do we have to do this the hard way?" In response, Palpatine, bracing himself against the desk, gestured and, using the Force, swept up a lightsabre that had belonged to one of the slain Jedi. Activating it, he assumed a guard position.

Ironically, the lightsabre he was holding had been Mace Windu's.

"The hard way, then," said the stranger. Flicking his own weapon up off his belt, he activated it.

Anakin saw that, unlike normal lightsabres, this one's blade shone not with an azure or green colour, or even purple, like Master Windoo's. Rather, it shone with a silvery-white light reminiscent of the sun shining off of a polished sword blade. It even resembled the blade of an antique broadsword, an impression that was enhanced by the energy cross guards that came out of the projections on the sides. The stranger then flexed his left hand in a peculiar manner, and his left bracer immediately emitted an energy field in the shape of an old-style shield. I've never even heard of something like this, thought Anakin as he saw the stranger take up a guard totally unlike anything he had ever seen or learnt in the Jedi Temple.

Slowly, he became aware of a massive contest of wills between the two combatants. He noticed the differences in their demeanour: Palpatine, sweating, trying to gain supremacy in morale over his opponent; the stranger, calm, expressionless, waiting. Suddenly, Palpatine broke. With a roar, he lunged at the stranger, who calmly parried the thrust with his energy shield and counterattacked with an overhead cut from the right. Palpatine parried and then, swung a cut at his opponent's head. He calmly stepped out of the way while glancing Palpatine's blow from the blade of his weapon and immediately, using the energy obtained from Palpatine's attack, riposted with a reverse cut to Palpatine's flank, following it up with a cut from the "edge" of his energy shield. Palpatine just barely parried the cut, but was unable to stop the shield, which crashed into his right side, flinging him across the room towards the broken picture window.

Palpatine got up, and shakily assumed a guard position. It was quite clear that he was hopelessly outclassed in this sort of fight. It was also quite clear that the stranger was not fighting to kill but rather to subdue. Palpatine reached out with the Force, but not in an attack on the stranger. It was clear that he was looking for something. Suddenly, a humming noise came from outside the window. Palpatine's face creased into a smile and, with a roar of fury, threw his lightsabre at the stranger, who dodged it. To Anakin's horror, Palpatine then stepped backwards, and then jumped out of the shattered window.

Running towards the window, both the stranger and Anakin looked out and saw that Palpatine had landed on an automated cargo hauler and was busily crawling towards the control centre. "He'll hijack that hauler," said the stranger " and head to somewhere where he can get a hold of an interstellar communicator, and send out his codeword."

"What codeword?" asked Anakin.

"He has a special codeword implanted into the clones. 'Order 66' is what he calls it," said the stranger. "Once they get that, they will then begin to hunt down every Jedi knight in the Republic, starting with the leaders of the Republic's armies fighting the Separatists."

Anakin was horrified. "Can we stop him?" he asked.

"No, but we can alleviate it. But first, we have a little problem to deal with," said the stranger.

"What problem?"

"What to do with you," he said. With that same catlike grace he placed the tip of his lightsabre at Anakin's throat. "So, are you Jedi or Sith? Answer me true," he said.

Anakin thought. "If I said I was Jedi, what would you do?" he asked.

"Turn you over to the Council. But I would be there with you."

"And if I was Sith, would you kill me?"

"No. I would still turn you over to the Council. But then I would not be with you."

Anakin thought: Am I a Sith? What Master Windu wanted to do was wrong. Palpatine should have been brought in for trial. Does that make me a Sith? Yet what Palpatine plans for the Jedi Order is also wrong. So, does that make me a Jedi?

Anakin made his decision. He looked the stranger in the eyes and said, "I truly do not know."

The stranger grunted. "Good enough," he said, and deactivated his weapons.

"What will you do with me?" Anakin asked.

"Search inside yourself, Anakin. What do you want to do?"

Anakin thought some more. "I really, really do not know. What do you think I should do?" he asked.

The stranger crossed his arms and leaned back against the window frame. "Go to the Council, when it convenes, and tell them everything. Even your marriage to Senator Padme Naberrie of Naboo," he said. "I'll be there with you."

"Will you?" asked Anakin.

"Count on it," said the stranger. "But first," he said, moving towards the Chancellor's desk, "we have a Sith lord to thwart as best we may."

"How can we do that?" asked Anakin. "How can we stop the clones from massacring the Order?"

"With some cunning and foresight," said the stranger, as he punched up the desk's holoprojector. He's not the only one who has had dealings with the clone masters of Kamino," he replied. "Oh, can you please get me that cloak? I'll need it," he said as he began to punch in a sequence.

Anakin went over, picked up the cloak from where it lay, and brought it to the stranger, who put it on, pulling the hood over his head. "Here's where Part One comes into play," he said. "When I first became aware of Palpatine's plan to undermine and dominate the Republic, I followed his trail to Kamino. I then spoke to the clone masters and, for some rather rare items, got them to slightly alter some of the accelerated conditioning they give the clones. Instead of Palpatine's 'Order 66', I had them place one of my own, which I am now going to activate." With that, he activated the general message circuit, which connected every clone unit to the Chancellor's Office.

In his best imitation of Palatine's voice, he said, "Utulie'n aure!" He then stood back and crossed his arms.