Prologue

Anakin stood at the window, looking out at the darkening Coruscant sky. Tears rolled down his face, his heart ached in turmoil as he watched the never ending traffic outside.

I did the right thing, he told himself over and over; I told the Jedi about Palpatine. And yet, had it been the right thing? He could not get over the shocking conversation he'd had with Palpatine earlier that day, when he had revealed himself to be a Dark Lord of the Sith. How could I not have seen it? How did he hide it for so long?

And yet, that was not important now. All that mattered now, all that Anakin could think about now was the promise that Palpatine had made to him. Only through me can you achieve a power greater than any Jedi. Learn to know the dark side of the Force, Anakin, and you will be able to save your wife from certain death.

If this were true, then shouldn't he be doing everything he could to prevent Palpatine from being harmed? If he and he alone held the key to saving Padmé, then his life had to be protected at any cost, even if it meant disobeying the Jedi, even if it meant taking the side of a Sith over the Jedi. The thought of living without Padmé was beyond his ability to even consider; he knew that should anything happen to her, his own life would not be worth living. And that was enough to make the decision for him.

Brushing the tears from his face impatiently, Anakin hurried out of the Jedi Council chamber, and ran down the corridor. His heart pounding within him, he headed for the landing platform, knowing that every second counted if he were to prevent the unthinkable from happening.

The landing platform was crowded with speeders when Anakin arrived. With single-minded determination he ran to his own vessel, jumping in and taking off at once. Pushing all thoughts of what the ramifications would be of what he was about to do, Anakin set his course and raced for the Senate building.

Weaving in and out of traffic, Anakin pushed the speeder for all he could in his haste to reach the chancellor's office before it was too late. Dodging slower vehicles, he raced at breakneck speed through the busy causeways, drawing closer and closer until he reached one of the many tunnels that lie along his route. He careened along the walls, banking his speeder until the hull of it skimmed the surface of the tunnel's side, sparks flying as he flew over the cement wall. A flash of sparks flew up in his view screen, temporarily blinding him. When the sparks dissipated, Anakin looked out the clear screen once again. But he was no longer in the tunnel. In fact, he was no longer on Coruscant. Confused and disoriented, Anakin did his best to get his bearings, not noticing that he was on a head-on collision with a large, Calimarian transport ship.

"Unidentified craft, what the hell are you doing?" a voice shouted angrily over his comm.. "Pull up!"

Anakin yanked hard on the controls, managing to avoid a head on collision at the last second. But the wing of his fighter grazed the hull of the larger ship, crumpling it like paper. Immediately Anakin lost control of the ship, as the controls went haywire.

"I have no control," he shouted into the comm..

"Hold on, pilot," the voice on the other end told him. "We'll bring you in."

"Make it fast," Anakin replied, "the damn thing's overheating!"

"Copy that."

Anakin did his best to remain calm as the cockpit of the fighter become unbearably hot. Sparks started to fly from the control panel as he attempted to shut down everything but life support. Finally he felt the lurch as the ship's tractor beam grabbed a hold of him. He started to cough as smoke began filling the cockpit. He put his hands over his face as he was pulled into the larger craft.

As soon as he felt his ship touch down, he activated the hatch, smoke billowing out of the cockpit. He stood up, coughing and fanning the smoke away from his face. Hands helped him get out of the ship and lead him away from the wreckage. His eyes burned and watered from the smoke, and for a moment he couldn't see where he was.

"Take it easy, pilot, you're safe now," the voice told him, still holding him by the arm. Anakin rubbed his eyes as he continued to cough. "Let's get you to the infirmary."

"No," he replied hoarsely. "I'm alright," he assured his as yet invisible savior. "Thank you," he added.

"No problem," the man replied. "What the hell happened out there?" he asked. "You just appeared out of no where."

"I don't know," Anakin said, his eyes starting to adjust and feel better. "I was on Coruscant, on my way to the …"
"Coruscant?" the man said. "You mean Imperial Center?"

Anakin looked at the man, taking note of the strange uniform he wore. "Imperial Center?" he said. "What is that?"

The man lifted his eyebrows. "Looks like you may need some medical attention after all, friend," he said. "Let's get you looked at."

"I don't need medical help," Anakin said, frustrated at the man's insistence. "I need to get to the Senate! The Jedi…I need to talk to a Jedi. Surely you must have some on board your ship."

"Jedi?" the man said, growing more alarmed by the minute. He was about to say something when the door opened and a middle aged man entered.

"Everything alright, lieutenant?" the man asked.

"Well, I'm not sure, sir," the man replied. "Maybe you ought to talk to our visitor here. He seems a little disoriented."

The man nodded, looking at Anakin suspiciously. "Who are you? And how did you get here?"

Anakin looked at the man whose uniform was similar to the other man he'd encountered. "I…I don't know how I got here," he replied at last. "As I told him, I was on my way to the Senate, when suddenly I appeared outside your ship."

The man looked at his younger counterpart, the disbelief clear on his face.

"I was about to take him to the infirmary, General," the guard said.

"Good idea," the older man said.

"Wait, did you say General?" Anakin asked. "You're a general?"

The man turned to him. "That's right," he said. "I'm Carlist Rieekan, General."