"…there can be no return to the light for an adept who has entered the dark wood; that the dark side will not surrender one to whom, by mutual agreement, it has staked a claim." – Darth Plagueis

Chapter Thirty-Four

"Here's the thing," Obi-Wan watched his friend pace frenetically around the perimeter of the lift as it soared toward the Chancellor's penthouse. Managing to avoid the crowds and the dying battle that swarmed near the official lifts of 500 Republica, they had instead resorted to the industrial security lifts that led to the Chancellor's security office, adjacent to his personal suite. "Have you actually put any thought into how we intend to capture him without losing either our heads or his, if the others haven't reached him? I may not know him as well as you, but I'm thinking he may not like the idea."

Anakin grimaced. "He's already badly wounded. He'll be weak from blood loss. You saw the trail he left behind."

"I saw it, yes, but I also felt his power. Don't underestimate him, Anakin, or you'll suffer my fate."

Anakin paused his circling and offered a tight smile. There was no joy in it, only feral fear. "You survived."

"Barely," Obi-Wan shook his head. "Thanks to the light of the Force."

Anakin looked away, staring into the dark wall of the lift as though he might melt it into slag. "I've been thinking about what I heard in the holocrons, Obi-Wan. The Duros master Canan Laas spoke about the strength of our more powerful emotions. He said he used it against a dark side user. I think it might work on him. I don't think he'd be prepared. It could give us the edge we need."

Obi-Wan sucked his breath in. "That's a dangerous route, Anakin. We Jedi avoid strong emotions for a reason. They can be twisted, corrupted, turned into mockeries of the original intent. If he did resist the initial transfer, you could be easily overwhelmed by the power of the Dark Side."

"I know what the Dark Side can do, Obi-Wan."

"That's what I'm afraid of. I don't like-" He stopped suddenly, face going grim as his communicator flashed. "It's the Temple."

Cin Drallig's rough voice filtered through. "Master Kenobi! Where are you?"

Kenobi glanced at the lift's panel. "Nearly to the Chancellor's apartments. Anakin believes we will locate Chancellor Palpatine there. What news, my friend?"

"You're on the right track. Master Yoda and the others have contacted us here at the Temple. They have already gone in pursuit of Darth Sidious at 500 Republica. Master Fisto says they will endeavor to engage him there with the Separatist droids."

"Then the whole thing might work after all," Obi-Wan looked at Anakin, whose hands were tightly fisted together. "What of the battle?"

"The clones have accepted our assistance in the fight for the time being, but only a few of us are being allowed to assist right now. We are working with the top commanders to get emergency clearance orders for all Jedi on Coruscant. Governor Tarkin and Mas Amedda have restricted us to evacuation and protectionary forces. They won't grant us clearance into the Senatorial or Diplomatic sectors. We're only defending the civilians in the residential sectors."

"Good, the only true innocents in all this," Obi-Wan muttered. Louder, he added, "Are the Separatists pressing the attack?"

Cin's voice faded out briefly, as though he were leaning away to listen to someone else. "Just the opposite, actually. Master Jurokk reports that their forces appear disorganized and unpurposed. Republic troops are driving them from every sector, with excellent success rates. Minimal casualties at this point. We analyze most resistance will break within a standard hour."

Anakin lifted his eyebrows and moved closer to Obi-Wan. "Without Grievous, they don't have a leader that can keep them together. I believe we can kiss the Separatist movement goodbye after today, Master Drallig."

"One can hope," Cin replied. "I must go. Commander Merc of Division C47 is requesting the Council's representation. Master Tiin and I will keep you updated."

"May the Force be with you," Obi-Wan turned to Anakin, "and with us as well." He had sensed Anakin's sudden panic in the Force when Cin mentioned the other Jedi masters, and he laid a hand on the younger Jedi's arm. "Patience, Anakin. They will hold to their end of the bargain if at all possible."

"I'm not so certain," Anakin snapped. "They want him dead, wiped from existence. Without me there, what will keep them from doing just that?"

"A Jedi's word is as precious as his lightsaber. I know you don't trust the Council, Anakin, and you have reasons for that. Trust me instead, that I know they will uphold their word to you."

Anakin let out an explosive sigh. "You know he's like a father to me, Obi-Wan."

The older Jedi tried not to let the comment fester in his mind. A few moments in the Force, and he succeeded. "I know, Anakin."

"He saved my life, and he's a friend, even if…even if…"

Now was not the time to pass judgments or warnings. "I know."

Anakin nodded, grateful. "Obi-Wan, I've never told you just how-" He stopped abruptly, a tickling warning in the back of his mind. The lift was drawing near to the security quarters.

Beside him, Obi-Wan stiffened. "I feel it too. Someone is coming to the lift." Together, they ignited their lightsabers and prepared to lunge when the lift doors opened. The hiss of decompressing air launched them both into action.

Anakin's lightsaber seared through the barrel and hull of an expensive snub-nose repeating blaster, not before it got two shots off, exploding harmlessly against the back wall of the lift. Obi-Wan ducked low and swung behind the surprised humanoid, grabbing the man's shoulders and pulling him off balance.

"What the frell!" the man managed to snarl, twisting himself sideways and kicking a hard-toed boot at Obi-Wan's leg. It connected, and the Jedi master flinched.

"Hey, don't talk to my friend like that!" Anakin was suddenly on the man, launching his durasteel fist into the sallow face and sending him to the floor. The human curled in on himself with a low moan, grabbing at his bloodied nose.

Obi-Wan brought his lightsaber to bear, hovering several inches above the pitiful figure. "Say, isn't this Sate Pestage, vaunted advisor to the Chancellor?"

Anakin joined him in staring down. "More like a worm that looks like a man. What do you suppose he's doing sliming his way around back here?"

Pestage fixed them both with a hateful glare. "What do you mean by this, attacking a member of the government? You're only digging yourselves deeper into your hole. Let me go this instant!"

"Oh, I don't think so," Obi-Wan lowered the blade. "We have it on good authority that the wellbeing of the Republic is not on your mind."

"In fact," Anakin knelt beside him, "I think it's time we take a look at that mind of yours and find out where you're slithering off to."

Pestage could not quite hide the fear that bled into his bulging eyes.


The feeling ached back into his arms and legs. Sidious struggled to throw off the effects of the stun weapon and managed to make it to one knee before Yoda was on top of him, saber slashing down to catch his own. The two energy beams cracked against each other and rebounded. The Sith Lord thrust out his free hand and sent a wave of dark energy into the Jedi Master, sending the small body tumbling end over end toward the waiting Separatist droids.

Rather than reacting, the assassins paused even as Yoda twisted in midair and caught his balance by latching onto the upraised barrel of a blaster and dropping to the floor. Sidious stared, and then hissed. Only his lightning reflexes saved him from losing his arm to Windu's sudden strike, and he still felt the burn of the purple blade scraping against his bicep. He dropped low and kicked Windu's feet out from under him, landing a direct hit on the scorched hole in his thigh.

The Korun master gasped and staggered back, and Sidious had a chance to breathe. Which, come to think of it, was not going very well, he realized. He needed out, but Yoda seemed disinclined to indulge him. Already, the tiny Jedi was launching forward again, ears lowered in determination. He batted the green lightsaber away, and Yoda turned to the side. He turned with him, realizing too late that Yoda had manipulated his blind side to the droids, who suddenly activated again with a whisper of warning in the Force.

Sidious found himself between Yoda and the droids, deflecting a new barrage of bolts and saber slashes. He reached deep into his reserves with a rasping snarl, drawing on the pure and terrible power of the Dark Side, prepared to unleash a storm of tangled lightning that would fry his opponent to ashes.

A stun bolt slipped through his defenses and impacted against his leg. Every nerve jangled in alarm as he collapsed to the floor a second time. Yoda was on him instantly, his clawed hand slashing out and striking the phrik alloy from nerveless fingers. The crimson blade deactivated and rolled down the hallway into the waiting hand of Mace Windu, hunched in pain but glaring at the Chancellor steadily.

"What-" Sidious gasped out. He felt a fresh wave of blood oozing down the side of his face. The makeshift bandage must have come undone in the impact, the wound reopening. The sharp throb under his ribs on his left side intensified enough to leave him wheezing. Yoda stood before him, the green glow of his weapon only centimeters from the Dark Lord's throat. Slowly he sat up, hands held cautiously in front of his chest.

"Our turn, it is," the wretched creature warbled and pulled a small device from its robes.

Sidious turned his aching head cautiously. Down in the main room, Kit Fisto made a neat twist, tearing the helmet from Tanak Vor and slamming the hilt of his lightsaber against the captain's head. Vor went down without a sound. His companions already lay unconscious at his feet in a pile of blooded red that matched the rich carpet. Agen Kolar still slumped in the hallway, unmoving. Palpatine could still sense a sliver of life presence in him. Unfortunate.

Pestage was nowhere to be seen.

Good. He could sense that the small micro-recorder had also departed. Well done, faithful servant. All is not lost.

In his pain-hazed state, Sidious could not make immediate sense of the presence of the slim assassin droids, or why they did not turn next to the Jedi. Until…

"Look out!" Kit Fisto suddenly cried. Sidious tensed, and then he realized that the Nautolan was smirking widely even though his voice carried deadly promise. "Separatist assassin droids! Protect the Chancellor!"

Mace Windu moved closer to Sidious and swung his lightsaber through empty air. "Master Yoda! They're trying to take him. Cover him!" The grim satisfaction in his eyes sparked a deep hatred in Sidious, Yoda's lightsaber notwithstanding, he pulled on the Dark Side to send a wave of the Force that would atomize that expression right off his smug face.

It never materialized. The droids were moving again from some unseen command. Another stun blast caught him in the shoulder and rolled him backwards. The raw left side of his face smacked the floor; white hot pain exploded somewhere behind his eyes. He could feel the warm slide of crimson in the corner of his mouth, tangy frothy blood that came from somewhere deep within.

When he dared to look again, the rest of the droids had opened fire, and the Jedi Masters were deflecting the shots with ease around the chamber. Kit Fisto pulled two deep into the hall and sliced through their hulls, bisecting them. Yoda sent his blade twirling through three more, and they collapsed in a smoking heap. The remaining five doubled their rate of fire.

Windu shouted, "They have him, Master Yoda! They're taking him down the lift. I'm being driven back!"

"Cut them off, we must," Yoda chirped in reply. He used a Force-push to send the last droids tumbling into the lift, which swished closed and began its rapid descent.

The sudden silence became overwhelming. He could hear his own ragged breathing, the gentle hiss of the broken droids, the distress of the Dark Side an unintelligible, inaudible roar in his ears. The Jedi had turned their entire focus on him now, three lightsabers trained on his prone body. I think it might be prudent to stay here at the present time, Sidious thought distantly. He watched Yoda switch off the small device in his hand and marveled, How could they be so…devious? Had they truly just done something as deceitful as falsify a recording? Had they finally learned and adapted?

Had they…just played his game?

He began to laugh, soft cackles punctuated by harsh coughs. Why was it getting so hard to breathe? "Perhaps – perhaps we are not so different after all, Master Jedi." Mace Windu swam into his vision as he kneeled over Sidious, scowling down.

"We are nothing alike, Chancellor. You, sir, are a disease, and we're taking you into custody. Consider yourself under quarantine."

Sidious lifted his lips in a feral snarl, all pretense dropping away. "Your anger is commendable, Jedi. Why don't you end it now? Why don't you strike me down in your hatred and be done with it? That's what-what you do best: destroy those who disagree with you. I am defenseless." He opened his clenched hands, spread them slightly, felt the tingling blue fire deep in his bones. He had enough for one last, grand finale, and he wondered if Plagueis had felt this way with the Maladians.

He could take them all with him…

For a moment, it looked as though Windu might take him up on the offer, if not for the little green troll that placed a clawed paw on the taller Jedi's leg. "Peace, Master Windu. Listen to him, do not. Seeks to turn even you to darkness, he does."

Windu stood and stepped back, alarmed at his own emotions and somewhat chastened. "Then he has failed, Master Yoda. I will call the others, and we'll move while the city is still in chaos from the Separatist attack. This will make a perfect cover for our intentions, better than anything we could have hoped for."

For the first time, Sidious discerned that they truly did not intend to kill him, and he felt the uneasiness blare tenfold through the darkness, struggled to keep his focus. "And what exactly are your intentions?" he demanded hoarsely. "I am still Chancellor, all philosophical differences aside. The Senate will not stand for this. They'll see through your amateurish attempts to pin this on the Separatist forces."

"Perhaps not, Chancellor, at least not if we can manage to keep you and your friends quiet."

The voice was a clarion call of doom.

Obi-Wan Kenobi stood at the far end of the hallway, having come from the direction of the suite's alternate, top security-clearance transport lifts, tattered, bruised, bloody, and triumphant. Beside him stood an uncertain Anakin Skywalker, one hand on the shoulder of a cowering Sate Pestage, his pale hands bound tightly in front of him.

The boy was a disconcerting blend of the Light and the Dark.

The rest of the room melted away.

"Anakin," Sidious breathed. Anakin spotted him and his eyes widened in horror. The young, headstrong Jedi pushed Pestage into Kit Fisto's arms and shoved past the masters to kneel at the Chancellor's side. Yoda waved the other two back, green wrinkled face inscrutable in the harsh lights. Anakin reached out trembling hands towards Palpatine's face but stopped short of touching him.

"Are you-? Please don't move! I didn't mean for this to happen. I told them not to…" Skywalker was frantic, his hands moving in the empty air without purpose.

Sidious seized one flailing limb, the one still made of flesh, and held it still, pulled the boy close. "We can still do it," he hissed. Save her. Join me. "Help me, Anakin, and everything can be set right. We need only work together."

"I can't,"Anakin returned, just as quiet, just as desperate. He looked down. "I promised I wouldn't…I can't follow you down that path, Chancellor, at least not yet. I have to work it out."

The Dark Side froze.

"Skywalker!" Windu's voice was distant, but urgent. "Step away from the Chancellor. He's still dangerous!"

Anakin ignored him. "I'm sorry for what happened to you. We had a deal. Please, let us help you."

A deal? Sidious tentatively probed with the Force, and found to his growing apprehension that Anakin had consciously pulled away from his darker emotions and thoughts. What had he done? Or more likely, what had Kenobi done? The young Jedi's Force signature shone with a brightness not seen in months. "What do you mean, a deal?"

Above them both and to the right, Obi-Wan Kenobi stood, as solid and as irritatingly calm as he had ever been. A true, nauseating, specimen of the antiquated Jedi Order. Anakin followed his gaze to his former master and then glanced back at the Chancellor, refusing to make eye contact.

"Look at me," Sidious hissed aloud, digging his manicured nails into the Jedi's wrist. He was aware of the other Jedi protesting, moving closer.

Finally, Anakin looked at him and opened his thoughts, and Sidious saw even as the boy whispered, "They offered to spare your life if I helped them capture you."

The idea was simple, straightforward, daring. It stank of Kenobi and Amidala, of compromise, of sentimental weakness. It oozed a betrayal that he had not foreseen. I should have had them both destroyed long ago.

He looked deep into the Force, incredulous. The currents were quickly changing, too quick, too much. Then he looked up, meeting the tortured blue eyes of Anakin Skywalker. The Jedi did not look away. The energy began to build between them. The last bits of pale blue bled from Palpatine's eyes into a blazing yellow. This betrayal was monstrous, truly worthy of a Sith Lord! The Chancellor felt the remnants of the mild Palpatine slipping away as Sidious wormed into place. Icy hate bloomed in his chest.

The pain of his injuries slid away into the cold embrace of the Dark Side. He felt nothing. Nothing.

His voice was the furious growl of the Dark Side itself. "And you think I will come quietly, is that it? Like a Shaak to the slaughter, is that it? How long have you been planning this little outing for me?" He let go of the Jedi in disgust. In the Force, he felt the Jedi masters coiling for the coming fight. They were insignificant to him at the moment.

Skywalker reached out and caught him by the left forearm, tightening his grip as the Force began to gather and swirl. "I am not going to harm you," he insisted. "I will sort this out, and I'll make sure that you get fair treatment. Together we can-"

Sidious jerked at his arm, but Anakin's strength was compellingly immense. "Liar!" he hissed between his teeth, his voice shifting lower and crackling with derision. "Traitor! You seek to use the Dark Side to your own purposes when you don't have the guts to take the consequences. You think they'll spare me? I offered you the world!"

He coughed harshly, but the words would not stop pouring from his lips. "I offered you everything, and you've thro - thrown it back in my face. You call me the deceitful one. After all I've done for you. You're destroying the one Order that can change your wretched destiny. You…" And words finally failed him, his speech dissolving into a hate-filled rumble as he reached to twist free of Anakin with the Dark Side.

The dark energy buffeted Anakin with potent force, knocking him back on his haunches, but he still held on to Palpatine, crying out, "It doesn't have to end this way! I want to help you! We can help you!"

Sidious was nearly beyond reason, a rare and terrible experience. He prided himself on his cold-served revenge, his heartless plotting, the very nature that had bestowed his name upon him. This boy had changed the game, sparking some strange fire within his empty soul, fire that had not raged out of control since his days as a young, untried apprentice. He had regarded him fondly, skirting the edges of the Dark Side in his affection for the Chosen One. And the boy had responded, showering him with devotion and loyalty. The future had been bright, his power assured with this nexus at his side.

And now…

Gone in a heartbeat, over a decade of exquisitely tailored friendship and bonds destroyed in a single, inconceivable knife to the back. The Force had turned on him! Well, who was he to take orders from the Force? I will not spend my days as a lauded Jedi war prize, gawked at by incompetent frightened fools.

He would slaughter them all like animals.

King of the beasts, Father!

Forming his fury into a second wind, he lunged forward with Anakin, carrying the boy backwards to the floor with his momentum, hands stretching for the Chosen One's throat. He would not require a lightsaber to exact this vengeance. Blue lightning crackled in both hands. He doesn't deserve the power you've offered! Destroy him before all is lost! Destroy them all!

Anakin reached out and caught the Dark Lord's grasping hands in his own, barely saving his neck from the clawed fingers. Their hands glowed white together, Anakin crying out as the energy jagged up his arms. The other Jedi angled their blades down, but the strike was unclear, the Jedi and Sith melding together in the eyes of the Force in a deadly struggle to prevail.

"Anakin!" Obi-Wan shouted over the howling of the Force. "Now would be a good time!"

What is he talking about? Sidious had only a moment to wonder before the young Jedi's natural hand rose to meet his forehead. He felt Anakin's mind suddenly open wide in the Force and bring all its focus to bear on him. He was utterly unprepared for the wave of energy that poured into him from the Jedi's hold when Anakin ruthlessly tore open the bond between them.


Anakin felt the Dark Lord's body above him convulse wildly, hands clawing blindly at the source of the unknown agony. Anakin hissed between his teeth as the nails dug into his forearm, but he held and kept pushing the Light Side forward. He could feel Obi-Wan behind him, adding his strength to Anakin's. The young Jedi knight dredged up every rare and truly happy, loving moment of his life and shot it into Palpatine's Force signature, watching as the blades of Light were swallowed by the Black Hole. His mother, her loving smile, her willingness to let him go…


Palpatine's hands were growing weaker, sliding off his arm each time they tried to find purchase. Anakin focused on his selfless friendship with Obi-Wan, took the compassion that Obi-Wan even now radiated, and forced it forward so that the Sith had no choice but to feel the powerful emotions. Palpatine's good eye rolled back in his head, and he began to slump forward, but his mind still raged against the onslaught. The black shadows of his Force presence thrashed against Anakin's shields, desperate to tear him away.


I want to help you, Anakin sent. Please don't fight this! He pressed his advantage, now bringing his thoughts of Padme to the front, of his pure and undying love for her, and sent that too.


Palpatine fell heavily on his side to the ground beside Anakin, intact eye staring, unseeing, the other a deep wound still oozing blackening blood. His breath was coming in harsh gasps, as through his heart were seizing up. His hands alternately clenched and twisted, manicured nails cutting bloody half-moons into his palms, blue sparks flashing out. In the Force, he was a terrifying and blinding blend of Anakin's Light and his own Dark. Inside him, the Dark Side raged and howled at the Chosen One. Or maybe it was Palpatine. Anakin shivered.

You can't have him, fool! He was mine from his beginning!

The Chosen One felt his anger grow. No! He hesitated on the edge of the Darkness, then he took the plunge, sinking deep into the Darkness and letting his anger come to fruition at last. He is my friend! He's like a father to me, and you will not have him!

The Dark Side hesitated, then latched its oily talons deeper into Palpatine's twitching body. Sidious, barely aware, pulled the shadows deeper, willingly. You see how he chooses me? He is mine of his own free will. You cannot part us. Don't you know? Once on the path to darkness, never may you return. Til death do us part, oh Chosen One…But I go even beyond death, fool.

The black despair that washed over Anakin in successive waves was almost too much. You make empty promises. He chooses you because he has known nothing else. Give him to me!

Not possible, little Jedi, little laborer of light. Ghostly laughter filtered through the Force. He is mine, forever.

The gloating darkness sparked a helpless fury in Anakin. He remembered then his conversations with Palpatine. The Dark Side fought its user, and the user had to prove that he was strong enough to overcome it. One did not ask the Dark Side. One demanded.

So he did. He let the fury coalesce into a cold, weaponized anger and sent it slicing into the darkness that surrounded the Chancellor. You will give him to me! And then, more out of desperation than any strategy, Anakin let his years of admiration, care, and love for his mentor pour into the Force as well. The result, though he could never describe it completely, was something like a bolt of shadowed lightning that speared out and linked his Force presence to Palpatine's.

The older man's body twisted, writhed, and went completely limp. Anakin took a deep breath, hoping it might truly be over, and then the pain struck him, far worse than any lightsaber burn or Separatist torture droid. It felt as though his very essence was being dissected, pulled apart! And the entire time, someone was laughing, but not with joy. The room spiraled in his vision.

He screamed.


Obi-Wan felt his heart stop when Anakin's scream raged through the Force. The young Jedi had convulsed once and then collapsed onto his back next to the fallen Sith Lord, unmoving. "Anakin!" He cried, and rushed past the other Jedi to reach his former Padawan.

Yoda and Windu stood over him as he felt for a pulse. It was there, strong and fast, and Obi-Wan choked back a deep sigh of relief. Above him, Mace Windu's face tightened with disapproval. "The boy attempted more than he was able. I don't know how he did it, but he just increased his connection in the Force to the Chancellor. The shatterpoint lines are more unstable than ever, and yet stronger."

"Their fates, bound together perhaps they are," Yoda reflected, his luminous eyes passing between the unconscious Sith and Jedi. "Without precedent, this moment is."

Obi-Wan let loose a strangled laugh. "Yes, well, leave that to Anakin. He's very talented in that respect. He's strong right now. I don't sense any irreparable damage to his body."

"His mind could be another matter," Mace warned, "if that Sith disease managed to corrupt-"

"Down that path, we shall not yet go," Yoda interrupted. "Find out everything, we will in time, but now we must go. Continue, our plan must."

Kit Fisto moved toward them, dragging Sate Pestage along beside. The thin advisor had eyes only for his fallen leader, and they gleamed with hate for the Jedi he deemed responsible. "This fellow will need to come along with us, I think. Master Kolar is alive, but he's going to have a serious headache soon. We need to get him to the healers." He left Palpatine's political lackey standing by Yoda and stepped to the large window to make some calls on his communicator.

"Yes," Mace considered and looked at Obi-Wan. "On the way up, we turned the medical team and the Red Guards away with Force suggestions that the Chancellor was already moving towards the bunker, but I'm sure they will hurry back soon when they can't find him."

"Be here when they come, we should not," Yoda laid a hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder. "Carry young Skywalker, can you?"

"I'll carry him anywhere," and Obi-Wan meant it whole-heartedly. "It appears you set the stage well. With the Chancellor in our hands, the Senate will have only the audio of a desperate and horribly successful Separatist attack."

Mace knelt over Palpatine's limp form, struggling with an un-Jedi-like disgust as he studied the gruesome wound, watched the unconscious Sith Lord struggling for every breath. "And this time, there will be no last minute Jedi rescue. He's badly hurt. This was no lightsaber…"

"A piece of conduit piping, actually." Obi-Wan shrugged. "I needed to improvise. You should probably patch that up, Master Windu. If he dies, Anakin won't be happy. And we did have a deal."

Mace's glare was legendary, but Obi-Wan was too relieved that Anakin was alive to worry. "I'm no healer," the older Jedi muttered, but he placed a hand over the bloody wound and managed to slow the blood flow to a near crawl. His own blood drained from his face as he made contact with the Sith's body. Breathing harder, he rearranged the bandage and pulled it tight. "I can't do more. He has internal injuries as well. This will at least keep him alive until we get to the Temple."

Kit Fisto looked back at the others. "I've received word. The Separatist attack is folding quickly. With Grievous gone, their ability to stand up to our defenses has all but disappeared. Shaak Ti estimates that most of the Separatist forces will be making the jumps to hyperspace any moment. For now, the clones are still working with us. Master Ti is sending additional Jedi to remove our other witnesses," he poked the body of one unconscious Red Guard with his boot, "to safer locations. That's our cue, friends."

"To Amedda, Tarkin, and the other governors, the Chancellor will be their first concern," Yoda agreed. "Call ahead and have the Temple ready transportation for our new companions." He glanced up at Sate Pestage, shaking his head slightly. "Come quietly, will you?"

The man looked down at the diminutive master with a sneer. "Oh yes, but if you think for a moment that you have won, you're all bigger fools than even he thought you were."

"Oh shut up," Kit exclaimed, earning a shocked glance from the other masters. "I've had enough bad guy bluster for one day. I need a break."

Obi-Wan broke the stunned silence with a sharp bark of a laugh. Yoda chuckled softly, and even Mace Windu's mouth curled at the edges. In the endless dark night, a tiny light of hope had broken through at last. They would take what they could get, but for now, first things first. Obi-Wan tossed Anakin's body over his shoulder, training his lightsaber at Pestage's back. Mace pulled Palpatine's hood over his face and lifted him from the floor, and Kit worked to rouse a groggy Agen Kolar, leaning him on his shoulder and guiding him to the lift.

The ride down was blessedly uneventful and silent. The sounds of battle were fast receding. At sublevel one, Yoda and Mace Windu remained on the lift with his unconscious burden while the others filed off. The two masters would need to take a less conspicuous route back. "We'll meet you at the Temple," Windu promised the others. "Docking gate 34D." They nodded to him, their eyes relieved, their shoulders strong and backs a little straighter than at the beginning of the day.

As the lift door swished shut, and the two masters continued to descend, Mace stared down at the bloodied body in his arms. It was small and frail to appearance and touch, yet he recalled the incredible force and darkness behind each blow, the life-rending hatred, and barely resisted the urge to shiver. Being this close to the darkness, even while the man was unresponsive, made him feel physically sick to his stomach. This was a dangerous move, letting the Sith Lord live.

"I've got a bad feeling about this," he sighed.




Well, Part 1 is done! What a trip.

From what I've witnessed in the movies and read in the EU, Anakin's impulsiveness is greatly limited whenever Obi-Wan is present. In nearly every case when Anakin begins to get ideas, and Obi-Wan is there, the older Jedi's cooler head wins the day. I think, for example, if Obi-Wan had been awake, Anakin would not have killed Dooku the way he did on the Invisible Hand. In my head canon, Obi-Wan is Anakin's Jiminy Cricket in one sense. I love that guy sometimes.

Most of this last chapter was written shortly after I first began the story in 2012. Part 2 is currently in the planning, drafting, and writing stages. I will probably post it on this same story line, so keep a weather eye on the horizon. Someday I may go back and trim some things down, change some things up, so if anyone has some constructive criticism about Part 1, I'd love to hear it in a PM for future revisions.

Anyway, feel free to leave a review! I have so appreciated the reviews, the favs, and the follows that have happened over the course of this story. I confess it does my Sithly heart good. :)