Chapter 37: One War to the Next
Anakin was not surprised to see that his Master had his back turned to him, as the throne was turned around, allowing the Emperor to gaze out onto the Coruscanti Horizon. Especially since the force had assuredly revealed to him Anakin’s imminent arrival. Anakin kept moving until he was about three meters away and then stopped, pausing in order to gauge his Master’s silence and scan the room for signs of deceit.
Sidious broke the silence first. “If you are looking for traps Lord Vader, you are wasting your time. If I had any, do you think that I would be so short sighted as to leave them detectable even to a person with talent such as yours?”
“With all due respect Master,” Anakin said, not bothering to disguise the contempt in his voice. “I would be stupid not to expect such danger, especially in dealing with a being with a reputation such as yours. Besides that, you were foolish enough to think that Grand Moff Tarkin could deal with me, and now here I am with all of your dirty little secrets laid bare.”
The chair turned, and Anakin was faced with the bright yellow eyes of Darth Sidious, Emperor of the Galaxy. He was immediately reminded of the time when Sidious had ordered him to go to the Jedi Temple and execute Order 66. The positions the two men occupied now were nearly identical to where they stood on that fateful night.
“Believe what you want, whether I overestimated Tarkin’s abilities or underestimated yours, the fact remains that had you failed you would have been unworthy to be my apprentice. You have come a long way from your Jedi past, but there is still so much you could learn from me Lord Vader. With Amidala gone there was nothing left to get between you and true power!”
Anakin’s rage boiled. “So you admit responsibility for her death!”
Sidious flashed one of his dark and sinister smiles. “You would have never reached your full potential with her around. She was strong of will, but weakened by her misguided philosophies. You know as well I do that she never would have sat by as we crushed all resistance to our Empire. Eventually she would have tried to intervene on behalf of her former colleagues in the Senate, the very traitors who right now wage secret campaigns against us!”
Sidious stood firm, knowing full well that he was making his apprentice even angrier, but it was a calculated risk. Even the most powerful of the Sith could be subdued once they had lost their temper, and thus control of their actions. “The only thing that I failed to properly evaluate was Amidala’s corruption of you Lord Vader! Your heart has grown far too soft, while you have fully embraced the Dark Side, you lack the vision to ever fully comprehend the teachings of the Sith, my teachings!”
Anakin snorted as his hand went to his lightsaber, his hand pressing over the hilt. “Even if that is true, even if you did kill me, you’ll never have another apprentice as powerful as I am. Eventually, my Master, you’ll have to risk getting your own hands dirty and when that day comes your failure will transform from possibility into eventuality.”
But Sidious was prepared for such a response. “Arrogant as ever, especially when there are two replacements readily available to me as soon your life expires.”
It didn’t take any time at all for Anakin to realize that Sidious was referring to the twins. Those words had more power than even the Sith Master had realized, simply uttering them eliminated the last insignificant vestiges of loyalty Anakin had left for the man he once admired, whose friendship he had cherished, whose tutelage he had sacrificed everything to gain. The lives of his children, the last thing he had in this world to connect him to Padme, were now threatened. Anakin’s desire for vengeance grew two-fold. He took his lightsaber into his hand, and pressed his thumb down on the ignition switch, igniting the red blade.
“Your time is up Lord Sidious, I will not allow the galaxy to be ruled by a traitor such as yourself. As of this moment I am declaring myself the rightful ruler of the Empire.”
Sidious laughed at the gesture. “So this is how it ends between us? Then you and your clones will die today. All of you have outlived your usefulness and the Empire will forge on without them. I look forward to the day when I am able to enlighten your children of how much of a weak willed coward you were.”
Then Sidious saw it, a small device attached to the hilt of Skywalker’s lightsaber. The Sith Master snarled at his former apprentice’s treachery when he realized what the device was.
Commander Bow heard the words loud and clear as he listened in on the conversation between Skywalker and the Emperor via the small communicator Skywalker had given him, and he was about as amused as a rancor with irritable bowels.
“Then you and your clones will die today. All of you have outlived your usefulness and the Empire will forge on without them…”
This evidence was damning indeed, not only was it proof that the Emperor was planning on getting rid of the Clone Army, but other parts of the conversation had revealed him to be the mysterious Lord Sidious who was rumored to have directed the Separatists throughout the Clone War.
Bow wouldn’t have believed it, except that right now he and his men were staring down more battle droids than he had seen since the end of the war, and all of them had their guns pointed at his outnumbered and underpowered force.
He could always call Commander Vills with the rest of the 501st, but that would leave the children unprotected, and if he heard right and the Emperor wanted the twins, then leaving them under-defended was one of the worst decisions he could make right now.
The answer didn’t come immediately, and then a flash of inspiration hit. There were plenty of possible reinforcements on this planet. Millions of clones were stationed either on Coruscant or in the Skyhooks orbiting the world, thousands or so within the distance of a short range transmission.
But would they listen? Would they respond as Bow did upon hearing of what the Emperor was planning? Would they act on the threat of the active generations of clone troopers being exterminated in favor of more docile replacements? There was also the other part of the message that Skywalker must have carefully calculated. He had just declared himself the ruler of the Empire, and legitimate or not that simple declaration opened the door for the clones to choose who they would fight for, they could decide who was in command based on loyalty.
Bow sent the transmission, knowing that once it aired it would only be a short time before the ISB jammed the transmission and acted upon the threat of what he was about to do.
“All right you bucket heads get it together!” Bow screamed out to his men over the frequency the clones were using for their helmet communicators. “The excrement is about to hit the oscillator!”
At that moment, Bow had to do something he was not bred to do; something that Jango Fett and those moronic shiners who walked in his shadow would have called him insane for doing.
Bi Wan twisted and turned in the air as he evaded the onslaught from the Imperator-class Star Destroyer. The ship was too big, and his fighter too lightly armed, for him to be effective in diverting the Star Destroyers from bringing its heavy guns to bear on the approaching convoy. Desperate, Obi Wan dove in close hoping that a linked burst of fire from his cannons would be powerful enough to destroy or disable the gun emplacements, but the flak bursts were too much and Obi Wan’s shields were nearly depleted after one abbreviated pass.
“Iblis!” Obi Wan cried out over his communicator. “Change your vector! There is no way I can steer this Star Destroyer!”
No reply was received, and Obi Wan realized that his proximity to the Star Destroyer made communicating with the convoy impossible. Although Obi Wan had never believed in luck, he would not have objected to a miracle from the far reaches in space at that moment.
And a miracle is exactly what happened.
From behind the Star Destroyer, nearly a dozen small capital ships emerged from hyperspace. A mixture of older Marauder-class corvettes and modified Light Assault cruisers made up the bulk of the formation but taking the lead was an unfamiliar looking Corellian Corvette that Obi Wan was getting a strange feeling from.
Individually, the ships were no match for the Star Destroyer by a wide margin, but together, they posed a great threat, especially to the lightly protected rear of the ship. Maneuvering as fast as it could, Obi Wan breathed a sigh of relief as the convoy carrying Garm Bel Iblis made its way safely into hyperspace.
There was more good news. The small group of ships did not arrive alone, and they were aiding in escapes across the Dantooine system. Many ships were destroyed and lives were lost, but enough had escaped that the Rebel Fleet would remain a credible threat to the Empire.
Obi Wan swung his ship around, ready to engage the nearest Imperial starfighter he could find when he began receiving a transmission from the odd corvette.
“Unidentified P-38, this is the Corvette Custodian, break off your attack and rendezvous with us immediately for your evacuation.”
Obi Wan prepared his reply. “Custodian, I’m on my way.” Obi Wan had to resist from broadcasting it out in the open, but he finally recognized the ship. It could only have been the Tantive IV, now refitted and upgraded to handle the rigors of space combat. Voicing the transmission calling for Obi Wan to head for the ship was none other than Raymus Antilles.
“If the former Tantive IV is being armed then Bail Organa has to be getting more involved! If the Empire find out about this link then he is putting himself in great danger. I have to find him!”
“What do you expect to accomplish with that?” Sidious demanded. Although he had expected Anakin to pull some sort of stunt involving the clones, he did not expect his former apprentice to do something so reckless as to try and plunge the very heart of the Empire into civil war!
“Simple really, I’m taking over the Empire while making sure that everyone knows where they stand with you, a courtesy that you never offered me.” Anakin retorted.
“Even if you manage to corrupt every clone in the Empire I will still prevail, all it will take to subdue them is your death and your remains mounted somewhere quite visible.” Sidious spat as he raised his hands in an all too familiar manner.
The first bolts of Sith Lightning flashed forth with great speed and were met with an equally quick parry from Anakin’s lightsaber. He had learned much since his first encounter with the attack on Geonosis, and was almost disappointed that Sidious had chosen it as his opening attack.
But the bolts of arcane energy was not the only ability that Sidious had in his arsenal, while maintaining the attack with his right hand, Sidious broke the attack with his left and made a quick gesture with the right.
Anakin had little time to react as Sidious’ own lightsaber sprang to life from its hiding place behind him. The red blade shot through the air like a blaster bolt right at Anakin’s back. Aided by the Force, Anakin shifted his mass to the left in a bur, allowing the blade to continue on its path towards Sidious, who then caught the blade in his free hand.
Ceasing the lightning attack, Sidious leapt over the table and began to attack Anakin directly with ferocity. Knowing that his opponent rarely was forced into defensive postures, Sidious continued to assail with quick attacks. He augmented his attacks with the force, using a series of deft, almost effortless pushes to try and throw Anakin off balance and leave him wide open for a fatal blow.
But Anakin’s strength was too great, and he managed to parry every attack, until he finally started to gain ground, pushing Sidious back towards the throne. Letting his rage fuel each strike, Anakin began to gradually gain momentum. A slash by Sidious nearly made it past Anakin’s defenses, but the Jedi was quick to dodge, causing Sidious to leave himself perilously overextended. He raised up his mechanical hand into a fist, and threw it forward in a tremendous punch that struck Sidious across the face, causing him to cry out in pain and jump back. Anakin noticed that Sidious had spat out at least two of his teeth.
The Dark Lord however, was not so easily defeated. He said nothing, but uttered an ugly sounding sneer before Anakin began to sense the danger in the force. A powerful wave shattered the glass of the massive window behind Sidious, the same one replaced after the duel with Mace Windu. But this time the reinforced glass hovered in place for a moment before being flung forward in a terrifying whirlwind of razor sharp edges towards Anakin.
With little time to counter, All Anakin could do was hold his artificial hand over his eyes and channels as much of the Force to him as possible, diverting as many of the deadly shards around him as he could. IT was over in a few seconds, and none of the wounds scored were fatal, but there were plenty of deep cuts all over Anakin’s limbs and chest and made it painful to move.
That attack was followed by Sidious hurling the entire desk at Anakin, who was forced to slice it in two with his lightsaber before it could collide with him. But Sidious was right there as the desk parted, blasting Anakin with Force Lightning before he could react, sending waves of terrible pain through Anakin’s body and causing the former Jedi to fall to his knees.
“For a time I was indeed fond of you, my young apprentice, but now you will join your Jedi colleagues in oblivion!”
Anakin continued to struggle with the Force Lightning, he already felt as if his bones were smoldering, and his skin charring even after just a few seconds of exposure. He tried to call upon his anger and hate, the same way he had done so against Dooku and Obi Wan during the war and against Ventress and Quinlan Vos afterwards. But Sidious was far more powerful than anyone had had ever battled before, and he was able to match Anakin’s efforts with equal intensity.
Trying to find a solution, Anakin realized that he was trying to beat a Sith Master with Sith teachings, and recognized the futility of doing so. Then he remembered the other part of the Dark Side that called out to him, far more than the anger and rage Sidious had cultivated. The true reason behind his fall to the Dark Side, and his subsequent quest for vengeance, was his passion.
Anakin thought back to his last memory of his family, sitting on the balcony on his estate with his children in his arms and his wife watching over him, and how he would never have that again.
With a terrible, primal cry Anakin built up his own energy and started to absorb it, channeling it into twin balls of energy in the palms of his hands. The energy built up to a critical mass, being fed gradually by an astonished Sidious as Anakin stood back up and forced the energy upwards into a majestic column of light that destroyed the ceiling above, and allowed the light of the Sun to pour in through the now gaping hole.
Exhaling deeply, Anakin reached out with his hand and made a taunting gesture to Sidious. “Is that all you’ve got?” He said, acting nonchalant despite the obvious pain in his voice.
Sidious responded by diving towards Anakin again and the two locked lightsabers once more, neither one giving an inch with each passing strike.
Bow and the other clones saw the explosion from the top of the building as it pierced through the sky in a manner reminiscent of the sapphire blue lightsaber that Skywalker used to wield.
His message had been sent out, along with a short call for any help from his brothers, but none had arrived. The droids had begun to stir, as if awakened by the explosion, and were beginning to start actively aiming their weapons.
“Don’t let them take the advantage! Thermal detonators, now!”
At once the clones of the 501st began tossing their grenades, and scattering for the nearest cover, which happened to be the abandoned vehicles left by a fleeing crowd when the droids started to arrive. The droids began to open fire the second the first detonator exploded, taking a handful of the modified super battle droids with it.
Bow had nearly made it to cover when the protodekas began firing their rockets, destroying several of the vehicles. What was once the only valid option for protection from the droids weaponry had turned into prime targets for the airborne attack.
“We can’t do anything with those floating tinnies up there supporting them! Shoot them down!” He ordered, the clones readily complied but the blue bolts of the DC-15s were doing little damage.
Bow heard a loud explosion and saw that one of the protodekas had suddenly become engulfed in flames, while he wasn’t about to complain, he was clueless as to how it could have happened, none of his men were armed heavily enough to cause that kind of damage.
Just then another protodeka exploded, and another, and Bow began to hear the familiar humming sound of LAAT gunships as they cut through the sky, their missiles doing incredible damage to the droid’s air support.
A series of bright beams lanced out from the left of the droid’s position, and Bow then recognized the TX-130 Saber Tanks as they moved in, focusing their weapons on the shielded droidekas.
A BARC speeder pulled up next to Bow and the pilot dismounted, Bow recognized him by his armors red coloration and the rank insignia on his chest. “Commander Thire, I’m forever in your debt.”
“Don’t worry about it, besides you think I’m going to let a bunch of droids take over my job? I heard every word of that conversation you sent me, and it made me sick. The Coruscant took Padme Amidala’s protection very seriously. Her death was quite personal. I didn’t even have to ask if anyone in my unit had any objections.” Thire said, Bow could tell that his explanation was heartfelt.
Bow hefted his blaster rifle. “You did the right thing, and look! Now we have this wonderful battle on our hands, it will be just like fighting the war all over again!”
Just as Obi Wan’s fighter touched down on the deck of the Custodian, the ship was accelerating into hyperspace, escorted by the surviving ships it had arrived with, which now numbered seven. As soon as he exited the fighter and set foot on the deck, he was greeted by Raymus Antilles.
“General Cody, I thought that fighter might have been you.”
“Captain, it’s good to see you again. Where is Senator Organa?”
Antilles gestured towards the exit of the hangar, the two men talked as they made their way to the bridge. “I’m sad to inform you that circumstances have forced Alderaan to play a dangerous game. Ever since the theft of the Another Chance by an unknown group who later destroyed an Imperial warship, I assume that was your doing?”
Obi Wan did not know how to reply, but Antilles was reassuring. “It’s ok, it was better that way. The Empire’s so called reforms are starting to have dramatic effects on the worlds that do not demonstrate the utmost loyalty. Alderaan’s people may be pacifists but they are hardly thrilled with the idea of tolerating the restriction of freedoms Palpatine and Skywalker are imposing.
“I understand that, but this fleet could not have come cheaply. Someone must have committed either a lot of money or a lot of influence to put together such an arsenal.”
“Both actually, it was my brother in law’s idea.” Antilles responded.
Obi Wan’s curiosity grew. “What happened though? Alderaan’s situation was dire before but Bail had never taken such drastic steps?”
“Telos happened,” Antilles said grimly. “Information about the attack on that world has been ruthlessly suppressed, but watching a world get destroyed in a quest for vengeance certainly affected Bail. It affected him more when he found out that it was a massacre committed in Padme Amidala’s name, since it was part of an operation hunting down those responsible for her death.”
“Well you couldn’t have picked a better time to intervene, that battle could have been disastrous for us.”
“You Jedi can’t be responsible for saving the galaxy every day; someone has to watch your back.” Antilles joked as they stepped aboard the bridge.
A junior officer was quick to greet them. “Captain, Senator Organa is expecting you, I’ll put him on our main holo-display now.”
“Aren’t you afraid the transmission will be detected?” Obi Wan asked.
“We’ve recreated and rebuilt a sizeable portion of the CIS Shadowfeed, using our own encryptions and hidden relays. The Empire can’t listen in on us.” Antilles explained.
The shimmering blue image of Bail Organa appeared. “Good work Captain, were you able to locate General Cody?”
“Yes Senator, he’s here with me right now.”
“That is excellent news! General Cody it’s good to speak with you again!”
“It is good to speak with you too Senator, I regret that I departed your service with such haste.” Obi Wan sheepishly answered back.
“Don’t apologize for anything General, you did the right thing for the galaxy as a whole, and you made the choice that I couldn’t. But I won’t need to put you or anyone else in that position for long. Once I have finalized the details I’ll be joining you and the rest of our forces in the Outer Rim. I’ve resigned as Senator of Alderaan and the official record will also show that Breha and I are separating over our differing opinions on Imperial policy.”
Obi Wan was almost startled, Organa was making an incredible sacrifice. “Officially you say, and unofficially?”
Organa smiled. “We’re meeting for dinner next week. We do what we must for Alderaan and her people, but it is hypocritical to sit back and do nothing, when other worlds and peoples suffer far more. I cannot in good conscience sit idly by while others die in the name of protecting the very rights that Alderaanians clamor for once more.”
“You’re starting to sound like Mon Mothma, she would be very proud.” Obi Wan said.
Bail hung his head. “Her death was just as disheartening as Amidala’s. Too many good Senators die while the corrupt continue to occupy the Senate Hall. I hope to change that when this war ends, should I be blessed enough to survive it.”
“You and I both Senator, you and I both.” Obi Wan replied. Bails words had stirred his memories, and his mind was now awash in images of those around him who had died since the war ended, just so that Obi Wan could be standing where he was and still able to fight.
"Mon Mothma, Captain Slayke, Master Shryne, Master Vos, Jambe and Nam, all of those soldiers who died under my command. You all gave your lives in such a short time, never shying away from the coming battle even as the last war ended. I will honor your sacrifices, by never relenting until the Empire has been beaten. I promise you."
"If it's true that our species is alone in the universe, then I'd have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little."
-George Carlin (1937-2008)
"Have some of you Americans actually seen Football? Of course there are 0-0 draws but that doesn't make them any less exciting."
-Dr Roberts, with quite possibly the dumbest thing ever said in 10 years of SDNet.
Last edited by Darth Fanboy on 2008-12-25 10:54am, edited 1 time in total.