Fractured Galaxy — Fallen Hero (chapter 2)
“Mag-binders?” Anakin says with a healthy portion of irony, “Really?”
Obi-Wan casts him a look, but not one of playful retort. His brow furrows, he’s concerned, his pace is quickening too and Anakin stumbles trying to match it. “What is the matter?…” he begins the question, but stops when Obi-Wan breaks out into a run.
“Padmé.” His heart leaps, the Dark Side clouded everything, even the great plight of the love of his life. “How can I ever forgive myself?” he says and quickly catches up to Obi-Wan, despite the silly binders that encase his wrists.
“It’s Palpatine,” Obi-Wan says with grim certainty. “He tricked all of us, you no more than me.”
They reach the platform together, find R2-D2 beeping in supreme confusion and distrust at all he’s witnessed today. He’s spinning and angry, more than once beeping out threats that even Anakin cannot comprehend.
“I’ll tend to Padmé, your mind is still too clouded, old friend” Obi-Wan has an edge in his voice that Anakin can’t place.
“I can sense her, she’s still alive — I can help.”
“You can help,” Obi-Wan turns and squares up on him right before the boarding ramp, “by staying calm, old friend.” R2-D2 gurgles out a couple beeps and squeals in a cadence that even Obi-Wan can place as hostile. He casts a rude glance toward R2 then glides up the ramp in a few quick leaping steps.
Anakin knows what the clever droid really said though — the mag-binders are already disabled — R2 is very, very good.
“Look at me,” Anakin raises his metal-bound hands and grins sarcastically, “don’t I look calm?”
“Master Kenobi, it is so good to see… Oh My!” C-3PO says from within the ship and nearly tumbles backward at the sight of Anakin and R2 at the bottom of the ramp. “I do not believe I understand you humans sometimes…”
“3PO, get this ship in the air. We’ve got to get the Senator…”
“Anakin” Padmé’s voice quietly echoes through the halls of the sleek yacht, soft as a prayer, weak as a candle flame and tantalizes every inch of Anakin’s being.
Anakin’s attention zones in on her, the voice of his lover, his victim and the mother of his child. His heart is beating so hard in his chest that he can hardly feel anything else. He has no control of what is happening to him, rather the instincts of a lover and a father overwhelm the humanity in him. A primal urge to do anything to protect his progeny dissolves all control and unleashes the full power of the Force.
There is no dark, there is no light: there is her and me and us.
“Anakin, don’t” Obi-Wan activates his lightsaber and turns to face Anakin again from the top of the ramp, “please, old friend.”
Dark certainty fuels him.
His feelings are gone, burnt away like a forge purifies the imperfections in a mineral.
He is the the Force incarnate, Anakin or Vader be damned, he is power-made-flesh.
First step up the ramp. The binders click and shed from him, harmless as they ever were about his wrists and they tumble to the metal floor.
Second step up the ramp. Obi-Wan is shouting something, raises his blade, but it’s all but over already.
Third step up the ramp. Both of Anakin’s hands flash out precisely where the Force intends them.
Fourth step up the ramp. His metal hand clasps hard around the old man’s throat while the other swings up to claw Obi-Wan’s own lightsaber from his hand.
“Anakin, I trusted you,” Obi-Wan squeaks out, but can say no more. With a heavy sweep and thrust like a strike of lightning, the fallen apprentice silences his master, incinerating his old heart with his own regal blue lightsaber.
“I had to trust you!” Darth Vader bellows in immense anguish and with a flick of his open palm, blasts the limp body of his old master across the fuselage of the cruiser.
Not his body, but only his robe and clothes… but how?
The ramp beneath him shudders violently in the instant he takes to contemplate Obi-Wan’s vanished remains. His focus on the Force “blinks” within him, losing its zeal for only an instant as his mind contemplates a power beyond his imagination.
3PO is panicking, lifting off like a rocket at a severe and desperate angle.
Anakin is loose from the floor, the angle is impossible, he’s lost and knows it.
He reaches out — finds nothing…
“Padmé,” he tries to shout it, but his voice cracks and he falls from her.
“Anakin, why?” he hears it in his heart, he sobs, then hears no more.
R2 whines and whoops in terror as Anakin falls like an invalid to the platform. His defenseless body bounces on the glowing Durasteel. He is broken.
A dream overwhelms him, familiar and impossibly unnatural.
“You must now release the guilt and free yourself by choosing.”
“No!” Anakin says defiant to his core. The Force whips about him, a torrent of elemental power and splendor. “On your knees!” his voice booms.
“And now you see who you truly are…”
Anakin is resolute. He’s tasted Vader for the first time, but does not know it.
“…But first you must understand the truth.”
A rush of gravity takes hold of him and whips him away from the dream. He cries out for the image of his younger-self, but loses the memories in the scrubbing haze of the subconscious.
<<Beep, Boop, Beep, Beeep>>
Anakin finally responds, slightly moving as though he’s just starting the fight for consciousness. R2 has his fighter ready and the hyperdrive ring priming itself in orbit, he’s even dragged out a bacta sleeve to bind Anakin’s collapsed shoulder.
Consciousness slips and fades as he drags himself to his fighter. R2 does a lot of the heavy lifting, he’s supremely loyal and determined to get his master off this planet. Lava is everywhere, fire is severing major support beams and structures are collapsing in thunderous clamor.
He doesn’t realize what’s happening when he slips into his cockpit.
Can’t feel the Corellian leather in his seat, or the shudder of his modified sub-light drives as they rocket him and R2 out of atmosphere and far from the molten rivers and ashen clouds of Mustafar.
Can’t feel Padmé or his child’s life force anywhere in the galaxy. She’s gone, and all he can find when he reaches for her is… is darkness.
Darkness like the swirling arms of an expanding black hole to drain the life from all it touches, and at its eye: Sidious.
Leo Charles M.