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You Shall Become (Me)

Chapter Text

The guardian would have sneered if he’d had physical form at the moment. The Sith Lord that had just entered the temple was of a type the guardian was unfortunately far too familiar with. He was one of the Sith who had never truly earned his power. He’d never defeated another Sith, hadn’t even really attempted to challenge another Sith, not even his master.

Unfortunately, too many Sith Lords in the past millennium were just like this one- smug and sure of their power, but not a true Sith at all. Just as unfortunately, they were the only Sith the galaxy had, so the guardian of the temple had to deal with them.

Well. He had to deal with them when they acknowledged he existed, in any case. This one- the guardian skimmed through his mind, his mental shields were terrible- this Tyranus didn’t even seem to realize the guardian was there.

The guardian would have snorted. The Sith these days had fallen so far from what they had once been. The guardian blamed Bane, and his “two Sith” idiocy. No, Sith needed other Sith to test themselves. Still… Bane’s Sith were better than no Sith at all.

It had been the better part of a century since a Sith had entered this temple. The guardian was just about to contemplate revealing himself to the Sith Lord when something else intruded on his senses.

The guardian turned his attention to just outside the entrance. A group of beings had just arrived. Because they were outside the temple, the guardian couldn’t tell who or what they were, just that they were there. He focused, trying to get a good look at them, through the Force or just with simple vision.

The leaders- they looked like human men- were getting off their speeder bikes, while what looked like a teenage Togruta and two identical human men were arguing with them. Eventually, the Togruta and the other two men subsided.

The two leaders headed for the entrance. The shorter one entered first, and it was all the guardian could do not to manifest. As it was, a shiver went through the air of the temple. This one was a true Sith, one who’d fought and defeated another Sith Lord, and taken his title as he did so. The guardian hadn’t seen one of the true, old Sith in… far too long. No one but one of the true Sith could see it, of course, but the marks upon the man’s soul were there. The guardian tried to touch the Sith’s mind, to find out his name, but the Sith’s shields were complex and layered things, and the guardian couldn’t risk getting trapped in them.

The second, taller man entered. The guardian drew back, because this one felt like a Jedi… or almost like a Jedi. The true Sith looked over at the possible Jedi. “No matter what, Anakin, we stick together,” he said.

The guardian studied the Jedi. He was powerful, there was no hiding that but there was something there… anger, well controlled but present. Fear. Darker emotions that could be turned to the Sith’s advantage. And there was some sort of bond between the Jedi and the true Sith. The guardian didn’t dare examine the bond too closely, but it was there. He couldn’t read the Jedi any more than that, because his mental shields were nearly as good as the true Sith’s.

Ah. Of course. The Jedi must be the one the true Sith had chosen to be his apprentice.

The Jedi- Anakin, apparently, which was a good strong name for a warrior like this man obviously was- was responding to the true Sith. “No arguments from me, Obi-Wan. This place feels Dark.”

The true Sith- Obi-Wan- nodded. “It feels like…” he trailed off. “I think we’re in an old Sith Temple, to be honest,” he said. “Not one I knew about, or I probably would have warned you. Be on your guard. Sith Temples rarely like Jedi.”

The guardian felt like smirking, but of course he couldn’t. It was true, most Sith Temples barely suffered Jedi to live in their confines, and his Temple even less than most.

But this Jedi was safe, for now. He was with a true Sith, and obviously working with the true Sith. Even if they separated, this Jedi would be safe.

Of course, the guardian could test the young Jedi, if they were separated. There was no harm in that.

“No wonder Dooku fled here,” Anakin said. He flexed his right hand.

Dooku? Oh, of course. Tyranus.

The guardian spared a bit of attention to the other Sith. He was making his way through the temple, and still radiating smugness.

The Jedi pulled out a comlink. “Ahsoka, I don’t care what you sense, you are not to enter this building. No matter what. At all. Am I understood?”

“But Master…” a young female voice said.

“No, Snips. If we don’t return in 24 hours, contact the Council and tell them where we are. This is a Sith Temple. I don’t want my Padawan in here. Are we clear?”

“Do as he says, young one,” Obi-Wan said into his own comlink.

There was a sigh, then… “Yes, Masters,” the girl said. “I promise.”

“Rex, Cody, the same goes to you. Stay out. Don’t let anyone else enter,” Obi-Wan ordered

“Yes sir,” two nearly identical voices responded.

“Good,” Anakin said. “May the Force be with you.”

“And you, Master,” the Jedi’s Padawan said.

Obi-Wan and Anakin put their comlinks away and looked at each other. The guardian was completely confused, but…

Apparently, the true Sith was undercover with the Jedi? It… well, it made a certain amount of sense, especially if the Sith didn’t want to go to the trouble of finding a youngling strong in the Force and teaching him everything. Corrupting a Jedi was perhaps more challenging, but at the same time, more rewarding.

“Let’s go,” Obi-Wan said.

The true Sith and the Jedi set off into the guardian’s temple. The guardian watched them go. Whatever this true Sith was up to, he was playing a complicated game. The guardian could only approve.

Chapter Text

The guardian watched as Tyranus slowly made his way through the temple. The guardian didn’t impede his process, but he also didn’t help him. With a true Sith in the temple once again, Tyranus was merely something to watch.

The guardian glanced at Anakin and Obi-Wan, but they were heading down a corridor that was safe- the temple wouldn’t try anything there, so he didn’t have to keep it from acting- so he returned his attention to Tyranus. The Banite Sith was still radiating smugness- no doubt he expected the temple to deal with his pursuers- and his mental shields were still horrible.

The guardian delicately slipped into Tyranus’ mind. The Sith didn’t even notice. Honestly. Even the Jedi warrior had better shields. The Sith of this time were pathetic.

Tyranus was apparently thinking of his pursuers- he thought of them as Kenobi and Skywalker. Which was which, the guardian wasn’t quite sure, but he was sure they were the Jedi and the True Sith already in the temple. Tyranus didn’t think they were much of a threat. The guardian could have told him differently, but Tyranus wouldn’t have listened, sure in his power and strength. He was sure his control would be enough to overcome the two chasing him.

The guardian would have frowned in thought. He could tell that the Jedi alone would be enough to defeat Tyranus. And oh, how the Sith had fallen! Back before Bane and his silly rules, it would take an army of Jedi to take out one or two Sith Lords.

Of course…

The guardian paused. Yes. That might work. This Jedi really was too talented to remain a Jedi- no doubt that was why his True Sith companion was working with him. The guardian would have smirked if he’d been taking a corporeal form as he turned his attention to the True Sith and his Jedi. And he began to plot.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Anakin was currently leading Obi-Wan down the corridor. The guardian considered the two men for a moment. His plans required that they separate, but he couldn’t impede Obi-Wan’s progress. As a Sith Lord, and one of the true Sith tradition, Obi-Wan was entitled to the courtesy.

That left doing something to Anakin. Luckily, there was an old tunnel just ahead, one that had a gentle enough slope that Anakin would only be startled, not harmed. (It almost went against the grain to do his best not to harm a Jedi, but it was obvious this one would be Sith, and soon, so the guardian did his best to pretend he was simply looking after the newest of his order. Sith didn’t immediately attempt to kill or maim new Sith Lords- at least, not true Sith. New Sith Lords needed to learn, first. Then they could become part of the schemes and plots all the Sith Lords took part in.)

The guardian waited until Anakin was squarely in the center of the trap door, then triggered it. Anakin fell into the tunnel with a startled shout. Obi-Wan rushed forward, but before he could jump after Anakin, the guardian slammed the trap shut and engaged the old but functional shielding to protect it against a lightsaber.

“Anakin!” Obi-Wan shouted. He lit his lightsaber just as the guardian had expected and tried to carve into the old stone. Luckily, the shielding held. His blade was blue, but that was no matter. It was only in the last two thousand years that Sith had insisted on having red blades. In life, the guardian’s own blade had been green. Too, and the True Sith was pretending to be a Jedi.

The guardian split his attention once again. He had to make sure the Banite Sith and the young Sith-to-be met, while keeping the True Sith away from the confrontation.

Anakin was just coming to a stop at the bottom of the sloping tunnel, two corridors away from Tyranus. He rolled as he landed, and came up in a crouch with his own lightsaber ignited. The guardian took a moment to study it. It was well made, an excellent design for an aggressive, athletic style of fighting, and his blade matched Obi-Wan’s.

After a moment in which nothing attacked, Anakin turned the lightsaber off, but kept hold of it. He looked around and pulled out his comlink. “Obi-Wan? Can you hear me?”

“Yes, Anakin. Are you alright?”

“A little startled, but I’m fine,” Anakin responded. “I’m in another corridor at least two stories down from where we were. Can you join me?”

“The trap closed, and there’s some sort of shielding around it. I’m going to have to take the long way.”

Anakin nodded, though only the guardian could see it. “Understood, Master,” he said.

The guardian metaphorically sat up and listened. The boy already called the True Sith “Master”? That was excellent! It boded well for him indeed.

Obi-Wan smiled. “Be careful, Anakin. This could be the first move by this Sith Temple.”

“I will, Obi-Wan,” Anakin replied. “Snips, are you listening in?”

“Yes, Master,” the girl from earlier said. “It’s quiet out here.”

“For now,” one of the other men added.

Anakin stiffened suddenly. “Stay safe out there,” he ordered. “Obi-Wan, hurry. I think I’m close to Dooku.”

Everyone on the comlink stream started talking at once. Finally, Obi-Wan started talking over everyone else and they quieted down. “Avoid him if you can, Anakin. Otherwise… be careful, and remember that little technique we’ve been practicing.”

“I will, Master. And you be careful too.”

“Don’t worry, Anakin. I’ll be fine.”

“Master, just…” the girl trailed off.

“I will Snips,” Anakin said.

“Force be with you, Master,” the girl said.

“And you, Padawan” Anakin replied.

The guardian contemplated that for a moment. Perhaps the True Sith lineage would grow quickly now. Granted, he hadn’t really gotten a chance to study the Padawan, probably the Togruta waiting outside the temple, but if she was this Jedi’s Padawan, she might be worth watching as well. Obi-Wan would know better, of course. Once the Banite Sith was dealt with, the guardian would ask.

Tyranus rounded the corner, and he and young Anakin were only a corridor away from each other. Now to ensure that they met. It wouldn’t take much. The two corridors met at a junction less than 50 meters away. And there was a large training room nearby as well, they’d have enough room to maneuver.

Now, he just had to guide Obi-Wan down in time to watch as his chosen apprentice battled the Banite Sith. It was going to take a bit of timing to make sure he didn’t get there too early, but the guardian was sure he’d manage, even with a matter as unpredictable as a lightsaber duel.

The guardian hadn’t had this much fun in centuries!

Chapter Text

The guardian would have growled in frustration. Obi-Wan wasn’t cooperating! Obi-Wan continued to try to make his way to Anakin. While the concern the Sith showed for his companion was heartening- perhaps this incarnation of the Sith wouldn’t fall like all the previous ones had- it was also extremely annoying. Surely Obi-Wan knew this was a trial Anakin needed to face if he was to become a Sith Lord? Or perhaps Obi-Wan was worried Anakin wasn’t ready. He wasn’t a Temple Guardian, after all. He couldn’t see what the guardian could see. And Anakin was ready to become a Sith. The guardian had rarely seen a Jedi so close to being a Sith before.

The guardian relented and allowed Obi-Wan to find a set of stairs. It wouldn’t lead him right to Anakin, but it would get him to the right level.

Anakin was currently trying to stay away from Tyranus, but the Banite Sith would corner him soon, and the fight would begin. Tyranus was radiating power and smug superiority, which was, from what the guardian could tell, making Anakin more and more infuriated.

Good. Anakin would need his anger. The guardian watched as Anakin all but stalked into the empty training room. Anakin took a deep breath as he eyed the space. Slowly, he calmed himself down. The guardian wanted to shake his head at the boy, but…

The boy had been raised as a Jedi, after all. Long habit would be hard to break. Eventually, the boy would stop trying to control his anger and fear. Many Sith who were once Jedi had the same problems. Anakin would learn. For a moment, the guardian indulged in imagining Anakin at the height of his power, following Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan would no longer have to pretend to be a Jedi, and his power, too, would radiate as strongly as Anakin’s. They would have an army behind them, as they conquered the galaxy and finally, finally the Sith would rule as they should.

They would be glorious as they led the Sith to victory.

The guardian shook himself out of his imaginings. Not yet. Anakin wasn’t Sith yet. But… in time. In time, they would bring the Sith back to galactic prominence.

The comlink stream the True Sith and his companions were using came alive. “General Kenobi, there’s a couple of companies of battle droids approaching the temple,” one of the two men said.

Obi-Wan looked up, as if the ceiling could give him an answer. “Do your best to hold them off, Cody,” he said. “If you absolutely must fall back into the temple, do not go any farther than the main entrance. Barricade that door, and stay there.”

“Obi-Wan’s right,” Anakin said. “Ahsoka, don’t try to explore. Cody, Rex, do your best, but if you do need to retreat, follow Obi-Wan’s commands. I… I’m going to have to go silent, I need to concentrate.”

“Yes, General Skywalker,” the other of the identical men said.

“Yes Master,” the girl said.

Well, at least the guardian knew which one of them was Kenobi and which was Skywalker. Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, the men who would bring the Sith back to the galaxy. He liked the sound of that.

And, since it was clear that the two men and the Jedi Padawan were part of an army, one that Obi-Wan was already leading, he’d keep them in the first room of the temple if they did have to enter.

Obi-Wan was already a General in an army. Oh, this True Sith was proving himself far beyond the guardian’s hopes.

The guardian focused his attention on Anakin for the moment. And just in time, too, for Tyranus entered the room at the same time.

For a moment, the guardian was confused. He knew Anakin was in the room, but he couldn’t see the young Sith to be. Then the guardian saw him, hiding in the shadows on top of a walkway. It’s original design was to allow Sith Lords to watch trainees practice without getting in the way. Anakin was using it to either hide from a Sith Lord, or prepare an ambush. The guardian suspected it was an ambush, just based on what he’d observed of the boy’s temperament, but he couldn’t be sure until Anakin acted.

Tyranus looked up- not at Anakin, just at the room in general. “I know you’re here, Skywalker,” he said.

“I am,” Anakin replied, using a simple trick of the Force to make his voice appear to come from all over the room.

“Why won’t you come out and fight? Or are you afraid it will simply be a repeat of our first meeting?”

The guardian watched as Anakin clenched his right hand again. He’d done that the first time he’d mentioned Tyranus, and the guardian couldn’t help but wonder why.

Tyranus slowly prowled around the room. He was directly below Anakin when Anakin jumped down silently. Anakin waited until he was almost level with Tyranus before igniting his lightsaber and attempting to drive it into Tyranus’ head.

Only Force enhanced reflexes saved Tyranus as he flipped back and to the side, his own lightsaber igniting and barely deflecting Anakin’s away.

Anakin wasn’t put off by the deflection and brought his saber up into a high guard.

Tyranus swept his saber to the side, holding in a peculiar guard the guardian didn’t recognize.

“Come now, Skywalker. You cannot hope to defeat me.”

Anakin smiled grimly. “You’ll find I’m full of surprises, Dooku,” he replied.

Tyranus flourished his blade, and Anakin brought his down to meet it. The fight was on. The guardian was hopeful Anakin would defeat him. He didn’t actually need to kill Tyranus, of course. Defeating him in combat here in the temple would be enough for him to earn the title of Sith Lord. But the guardian suspected that Anakin would kill Tyranus. There was an obviously bad history between them, and Anakin was the type to kill.

The guardian took a moment to check that Obi-Wan would take at least a few more minutes to get here, before turning his attention to the fight.

And, of course, at that precise moment, the Jedi Padawan and the two men with her entered the temple.

Honestly, when the guardian had said he hadn’t seen anyone in the temple in a century, it was not an invitation for the whole galaxy to visit!

Chapter Text

The guardian turned his attention to the entry room. He watched at the two men- identical save for personal grooming choices- and the teenage Togruta backed into the room. The Togruta was using two lightsabers to protect both herself and the two men. The two men were firing blasters of some kind over her shoulders, and seemed to be wearing some variant on Mandalorian armor. The guardian could tell they were fighting off droids of some kind. Droids. With blasters. Who thought that was a good idea?

The guardian couldn’t help but approve of having Mandalorians as part of the Sith army. It may have been some time since they had been allies and servants to the Sith, but the Mandalorians had always been fierce fighters when they were.

“Rex, see if you can’t get that door closed!” The Togruta- the guardian thought her name was Ahsoka- ordered.

Before the man with lighter hair could do more than take a step, the guardian slammed the entrance shut and turned on the shielding. It was old, but it would hold against any blaster fire. He also took the time to close all the doors leading farther into the temple. Obi-Wan had ordered them to remain in the first room, and they would remain there.

The guardian kept part of his attention on the lightsaber fight, even as he studied the Jedi Padawan. She… was not quite what he had expected. Well matched to Anakin, yes, and young, but… not a Sith. Possibly, she never would be. The guardian would have sighed, but it was true that many people didn’t have the temperament to become Sith. And yet, she was willing to work with a Sith Lord, so while she might be a Jedi, she might also be one of the more reasonable ones. Or she just didn’t feel she could contradict her Master. And yet, she clearly respected Obi-Wan.

The guardian gave up. These Jedi and True Sith were confusing. He’d just have to ask.

After Anakin dealt with Tyranus. One less Banite Sith in the galaxy would be appreciated. The guardian was fairly certain Obi-Wan would agree, or he wouldn’t have been chasing Tyranus. Nor would he have allowed Anakin to fight the Banite Sith Lord. And the fight was impressive. Anakin was holding up well under everything the Banite Sith could throw at him, which was admittedly a lot.

The guardian got the impression that they had faced off before, and Anakin had come off the worst of that meeting- or was it meetings? Still, Anakin had clearly learned from previous fights, and even the Lightning wasn’t keeping him down.

Suddenly, Anakin changed tactics. He jumped back, and up, landing on another walkway. “You’re predictable, Dooku,” Anakin mocked as he stared down at Tyranus.

“Predictability or not, Skywalker, you still cannot defeat me,” Tyranus returned.

Surprisingly, Anakin merely smirked in return. “I don’t need to defeat you,” he said. “Though I will.”

The Force was coalescing around the two of them. Destiny was about to change, or be made. The guardian barely managed to keep the temple from harming the Padawan and keep an eye on Obi-Wan as he got closer and closer, he was so distracted by the feel of the Force.

Anakin leapt from the walkway, heading straight for Tyranus. For a moment, the guardian feared that Tyranus would slice Anakin in half, but Anakin blocked Tyranus’ swing and ripped his lightsaber from his grip. The red lightsaber went flying to the corner of the room and Tyranus desperately brought his hands up and unleashed Lightning at Anakin, just as Anakin landed. Anakin blocked it with his saber as was driven back for an instant. After recovering himself, he charged at the older man, snarling as he kept blocking the Lightning.

Lightning reflected off of Anakin’s saber, seemingly nearly surrounding him as he approached Tyranus, who didn’t have the energy or attention to spare to call his lightsaber to him.

His desperation reached into the Force, but there was nothing he could do.

Obi-Wan entered the room just as Anakin reflected one last blast of Lightning, and drove his saber into Tyranus’ heart.

Everyone in the room froze. Tyranus’ eyes widened as he stared at Anakin, who seemed just as stunned. Obi-Wan stared at them both from the doorway.

Tyranus collapsed, sliding to the ground as Anakin turned his saber off. Anakin stared down at the Banite Sith, almost in shock. The Force seemed to rejoice.

And then the guardian felt it as Anakin’s sense in the Force changed. The guardian would have smiled. This was exactly what he’d hoped for- Anakin was Sith, now and forever. Anakin jumped and turned to look at Obi-Wan, who looked just as shocked. “Anakin?” Obi-Wan asked.

“I…” Anakin managed before taking a deep breath. “I had to, Obi-Wan,” he said.

“I know, Anakin. He might have been unarmed, but he was not without weapons.” Obi-Wan took a deep breath as well. “Your Force Sense is different. I’m not sure why.”

“And there’s something different about yours,” Anakin returned. “It’s…”

Ah, of course. Anakin wouldn’t have been able to tell that Obi-Wan was a Sith Lord until he too became one.

“There’s something about yours that now feels like Palpatine’s.”

“Palpatine isn’t Force sensitive,” Anakin replied.

“I know.”

It was time to greet the two Sith. And perhaps wonder about this Palpatine later.

The guardian focused on providing a form for the two of them to see. It might be petty amusement, but the guardian couldn’t help but smile at the two Sith Lords’ shock as he appeared.

“That was very well done, young Lord Skywalker,” the guardian told Anakin first. “I have not seen anyone handle the Lightning so well in almost 1500 years. And you, Lord Kenobi,” he said. “Your choice is perfect.”

Anakin and Obi-Wan exchanged confused looks. “Why do you call us Lords?” Obi-Wan finally asked cautiously.

The guardian paused. “Because that is what you are,” he finally said. “First, though. In life I was Lord Rivan, in death, I am now the guardian of this temple.”

Again, Anakin and Obi-Wan exchanged glances. Finally, Obi-Wan nodded. “Lord Rivan, I assume we have you to thank for the fact that this has not been a disastrous visit to this temple?”

The guardian smiled at Obi-Wan. “Yes, of course,” he said. “I knew you would have no troubles, Lord Kenobi, but your Jedi companion would have had I not interfered.”

“Why would Obi-Wan have been safe?” Anakin asked.

The guardian smirked and glanced at Obi-Wan. “Would you care to tell him, Lord Kenobi?”

Obi-Wan eyed him. “No,” he said. “Seeing as I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.”

The guardian froze. He could hardly believe it- but Obi-Wan was telling the truth. He had managed this much and he didn’t even know he was a Sith Lord? How much more would he do now that he was about to learn of his heritage?

“You mean… the Banites have destroyed that much? You don’t even know? Neither of you?”

The living men looked at each other once more. “Know what?” they chorused.

The guardian took a deep breath. “Lord Kenobi, when did you kill a Sith Lord? How?”

Obi-Wan blanched. “How do you… is that what I’m feeling from Anakin? Because he defeated Dooku?”

“Yes, it is, now answer my question!”

Obi-Wan swallowed. “Not quite twelve years ago- after he killed my Master.”

Anakin reached out as if to place his hand on Obi-Wan’s shoulder.

The guardian closed his eyes. “You avenged him, good,” he said. “In doing so, you took up an ancient title, Lord Kenobi. You are Lord Kenobi, Lord of the Sith. Perhaps the first of the true Sith that are not also of Bane’s line that has existed in a thousand years. And you, Lord Skywalker, just joined him in our order.”

Well. They might not have known, but their stunned reactions almost made that worth it.

Chapter Text

Obi-Wan had frozen in shock. Anakin was alternating between staring at the guardian, and staring at Obi-Wan. “What?” Obi-Wan finally managed to stammer out.

The guardian smiled. He might have overestimated Obi-Wan’s knowledge before, but that just meant he was going to be able to teach two new Sith Lords. “You heard what I said, Lord Kenobi.”

Obi-Wan winced minutely.

The guardian relented. “One of the rites of passage in our Order was to have an apprentice fight and defeat one of the more experienced Sith in the temple. Eventually, an ancient Sith- there are no records of which one- managed a spell that required such a feat before they could become a True Sith Lord. It was originally designed so that the defeat would have to happen inside one of the Temples. But then war came, and the Sith fought against the Jedi, and we discovered that if a Sith was defeated and killed outside the temple, their vanquisher became marked as a True Sith the same way we were if we simply defeated a Sith in the temple. That is what happened to you, Lord Kenobi. And you, Lord Skywalker, went a bit beyond what is necessary. Simply disarming Tyranus the way you did would have been enough, here.”

Anakin looked down at Tyranus’ body. Obi-Wan kept his gaze on the guardian. “So when I defeated Maul, when I hacked him in two, I became a Sith?” he asked.

The guardian sighed. “To any True Sith, to all the temples here, you are indeed one of us. But you need to learn more about our Order. You both do.” He brightened. “You hacked him in two? Tell me!”

Obi-Wan shuddered. “I… he had just killed my Master. I was still a Padawan, and I…”

“You lost your temper,” the guardian said when Obi-Wan trailed off.

“Yes,” Obi-Wan said. “I eventually regained control of myself and surprised Maul enough that I was able to kill him.”

The guardian didn’t like the sound of that “regained control of myself”, but they could work on that later. “Good,” he said shortly. “Maul was one of the Banite Sith.”

They both looked over at that. “Banite?” Anakin asked. “You used that word before. What is a Banite Sith?”

The guardian rolled his eyes. “Banites are practically all that’s left of the Sith, aside from you two. They follow Darth Bane, the only survivor of the last battle between the Jedi and the Sith. He decried that there would never be more than two Sith, a Master and an Apprentice. And they have given up so many of the ancient traditions. The ancient rite of combat is all but lost. I am… so very glad we have Sith who aren’t of Bane’s line.”

Anakin was scowling. “But Tyranus wasn’t a True Sith,” he pointed out.

“He was enough of one,” the guardian countered. “As, I suspect, this Maul was. Now, their Master may indeed be a True Sith. He would have had to kill his Master to become the Master. That might make him both True Sith and of Bane’s line. So you might want to keep looking for someone who has the same feel as the two of you.”

“You want us to kill him,” Obi-Wan breathed.

“The Banites are an aberration, wasting their Lordships, and forgetting so much of our Order. Yes, Lord Kenobi. Either kill him, or teach him what Sith truly are.”

Anakin gasped. “Obi-Wan, you said…”

“That twist in the Force felt like Palpatine,” Obi-Wan finished. “Sweet Force, I hope not. He would…”

“If we’re right…” Anakin swallowed. “If we’re right, he probably wants me.”

“I hope we’re wrong,” Obi-Wan said. “To think that it might be…”

The guardian narrowed his eyes. “Who?” he asked.

Obi-Wan pressed his lips together. “I’m not sure. I’d need to spend some time comparing Anakin’s Force presence with his. But…”

“If we’re right, it’s Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.”

“The leader of the Republic,” Obi-Wan added.

The guardian blinked. “Well. He’s done well for himself, but why, if he’s actually a Banite Sith, does the Republic still exist?”

Anakin and Obi-Wan just looked at each other. The guardian could tell that this was starting to get a little overwhelming for the two living Sith. He couldn’t really blame them, so he changed the subject. “There is one more thing, for both of you,” he said.

They looked at him. The guardian could practically see the “now what” in both their gazes. “The Sith must return to galactic prominence. Perhaps our chances to rule the galaxy are over, but we must be visible, and we can still lead the galaxy, even if we can’t rule it. You must learn our traditions, both of you. You work within the Jedi Order, and the Jedi have many of our holocrons locked in their vaults. Use the older ones to learn. You will need it. If it turns out that this Palpatine is the Banite Master, you will need every advantage you can get. He has been Sith, likely for longer than either of you have been alive. You both have defeated one of his apprentices, but you will need more power to defeat the Master.”

Obi-Wan took a deep, shuddering breath. “You’re right,” he said. “If he is the Sith Master- the Banite Sith Master- he can hide that he has any Force strength at all. He’s been right under our noses- right under the Jedi Council’s noses for over a decade. Anakin…”

Anakin scowled. “I know. I’ll keep this quiet,” he said.

The guardian nodded. “And come back, once it’s all over, and tell me of your battle. Having new Sith in my temple is the most fun I’ve had in far too long.”

Surprisingly, Obi-Wan smirked.

“Now, perhaps you might deal with your Jedi Padawan and the two Mandalorians. They’ve been stuck in the first chamber for quite a while.”

Anakin’s eyes widened. He glanced around, found Tyranus’ lightsaber, and called it to his hand. He hung it on his belt next to his own before looking at Tyranus’ body.

“I’ll do it,” Obi-Wan said. He gestured, and the body rose from the ground. Anakin and Obi-Wan started heading for the entrance, the guardian walking with them for a time.

Anakin flicked on his comlink. “Snips, how are things going?”

The Padawan snorted loudly enough that it carried through the com stream. “We’re stuck, Master,” she said. “We were pushed back into the temple, and all the doors just slammed shut.”

“We can hear the clankers trying to break the door down, sir, but there’s some sort of shielding protecting the door,” Cody added. “Did Dooku escape again?”

Anakin coughed. “No, Cody, he didn’t,” he said.

“Dooku won’t ever escape again,” Obi-Wan added. “Anakin defeated him. He’s dead.”

There was dead silence in the first chamber. Anakin glanced at the guardian, walking with them.

“The droids will not be a concern,” the guardian said.

“Who was that?” Cody, Rex, and Ahsoka all asked at once.

Obi-Wan looked briefly annoyed. “The guardian of this temple,” he said. “He… doesn’t want to hurt us,” he added.

They were quiet the rest of the way. The guardian released his hold on the chamber doors, except for the outer door, and they entered. The Togruta girl stared, first at Tyranus’ floating body, then at the guardian.

The two Mandalorians looked shocked for a moment, then resigned. “You’ve managed it again, haven’t you sir?” Rex said.

“Rex?” Anakin asked.

“Doing something crazy and impossible.”

Obi-Wan chuckled. “Yes, rather,” he said. “Now. Let’s see about returning to our ship, and then to Coruscant.”

“I will handle the besiegers,” the guardian said. He studied Ahsoka for a moment, and made a decision. Perhaps it would backfire, but you sometimes had to compromise, and Anakin clearly cared about this girl. “Anakin Skywalker, I do believe she fits very well. Bring her back when she is ready, and she can test herself here.”

Anakin sighed. “Thank you, guardian,” he said. He glanced over Ahsoka, who looked confused. “I’ll explain later, Ahsoka,” he said.

The guardian waved his hand. It was an unnecessary gesture, of course, but the Mandalorians had always preferred it when a Sith made some acknowledgement that they were using the Force.

A wave of the Force swept across the plain, disabling all but the speeder bikes the Sith and their allies used to arrive here. “May the Force be with you,” he said as the door swung open.

Rex stared at him suspiciously before looking out the door. “The clankers are down, Sirs,” he reported.

“Thank you,” Obi-Wan said. “I cannot promise that we will be able to return, but if we can, we will.”

The guardian smiled before releasing his physical form. The Mandalorians were the first out, followed by the Padawan, then the Sith.

He watched as best he could as they secured Tyranus’ body to one of the speeders, then left.

The guardian sighed and turned back to his duties. He was grateful the Force had seen fit to return the True Sith back to the galaxy. But now, he had to make sure the damage done by the lightsaber battle repaired itself. He could ponder on the events of the day later.

Chapter Text

Anakin stretched as they climbed off their speeders at the Landing Zone, and the rest of the 501st and 212th.

Most of the troops in sight were staring at Dooku’s body as Obi-Wan ordered him pulled off and escorted to the morgue.

Anakin was exhausted. It’d been nerve racking, back in the Sith temple, never knowing when they’d end up attacked, and then he’d had to face off against Dooku. He still wasn’t sure how he’d managed to kill the man, but he’d been forced to use his own power almost recklessly just to survive. He was tired.

And then, of course, the revelations of the day. Force Hells, the Sith Order was strange.

Obi-Wan glanced at him, as if he caught that last thought. “We need to let the council know that Dooku is dead.”

Anakin nodded. “Let’s head back to The Negotiator.”

Obi-Wan nodded. “And everything else, we can discuss with the council in person, understood?”

Anakin quite agreed. Personally, he’d prefer not to mention it ever, but if Obi-Wan thought the council should know, he’d tell them. “We need to talk,” he said.

Obi-Wan nodded seriously. “Absolutely,” he said. He looked calm, but Anakin could feel his shock, just as he knew Obi-Wan could feel his. And that new twist to his Force sense was driving Anakin to distraction. He didn’t understand how he’d missed it before, even if only Sith could feel it. It was so obvious. Anakin’s hands shook for a moment, before he resolutely focused on what he needed to do. There was no way in all the nine Corellian Hells he was going to think about what the guardian had said just yet.

Obi-Wan shook his hands out as they boarded the same troop transport that held Dooku’s body. Anakin could feel Ahsoka’s curiosity as they headed up.

Once Dooku was delivered to the morgue, Anakin and Obi-Wan went to the holo room, after leaving Ahsoka, Rex, and Cody to write up their impressions on what had happened. The Council was already waiting. “Masters,” Obi-Wan bowed. Anakin was perfectly happy letting Obi-Wan take the lead. “Count Dooku is dead.”

There was dead silence, aside from the low hiss of the encrypted channel.

Finally, Mace Windu shook his head. “How?” he asked.

Obi-Wan hesitated. “It’s a long story, Master Windu. I would prefer to tell it in person. But Anakin was the one to kill him, and from what I saw, he had no other choice.”

Anakin looked down. “We were separated,” he said. “And Dooku wasn’t going to wait for Obi-Wan to get to me.”

“Happened, something else did,” Yoda commented.

“That will need to be discussed in person, Master Yoda,” Obi-Wan said firmly. “But yes, something has happened.”

“Very well,” Windu decided. “Return to Coruscant, with the Count’s body. We’ll inform the Senate, and make the announcement to the rest of the galaxy. How long will your trip be?”

Anakin frowned, making some quick mental calculations. They had to finish picking up the rest of the clones on the ground, though that would be relatively quick… “Four days,” he said.

“Then we will see you in four days, Master Kenobi, Knight Skywalker,” Windu said.

“Your report, we expect at that time,” Yoda added.

Obi-Wan bowed, and Anakin belatedly followed suit, and the transmission cut off.

“Anakin,” Obi-Wan turned to look at him. “I know you said we need to talk but I need…” he cut himself off, and took a deep breath. “I need to meditate before I try to discuss this. Do you mind if we wait?”

Anakin all but slumped in relief. They needed to talk, yes, but he didn’t want to just yet. “Of course,” he managed. “I think… I’ll do the same,” he finally said.

Obi-Wan managed a raised eyebrow but seemed completely incapable of making the joke that would normally accompany it. Yeah. Anakin poked Obi-Wan’s mental shields and got an answering poke on his own. Obi-Wan would be fine, eventually. Right now, no, but eventually.

Anakin headed for his quarters. He needed to get inside, get away from other people. Luckily, his troops were picking up on the fact that their generals were a little prickly right now, and he could hear and sense them warning the rest of the ship. (He could also sense the subdued celebrations starting, as the word spread that Anakin had killed Dooku.)

Anakin closed and locked the door to his assigned quarters and took a moment to reinforce his mental shields in the hopes of keeping Ahsoka from sensing anything. Then he allowed himself to drop all pretense and staggered to his bunk. It… it just could not be true. He wasn’t Sith. He’d never be Sith. No! He buried his head in his hands. He wouldn’t… he couldn’t… he wasn’t!

Anakin took a deep breath and tried to focus. It wasn’t working, and his mind did nothing but go in circles. He wasn’t. He’d killed a Sith. That didn’t make him one. It made him a Sith Killer. The guardian must have been insane. It had to be. Steeped in Darkness, forced to stay in the temple, never able to become one with the Force… it would drive anyone insane.

That had to be it. Because Anakin wasn’t a Sith, no matter what.

Anakin lay down and stared at the ceiling. “The guardian was insane,” he tried. Unfortunately, he couldn’t really believe that, not after he said it out loud. But he still wasn’t a Sith. He was a Jedi. He wasn’t Dark. He wasn’t. Sith were Dark, and he wasn’t Dark, so he wasn’t a Sith.

Anakin groaned and closed his eyes. He took another deep breath, blew it out, then repeated. He had to calm down. He had to. The guardian was wrong, he wasn’t a Sith. It was time he acted like a Jedi and proved it. He settled himself and pulled the Force around him, searching for the calm he needed.

Sith were evil, and all a Sith wanted was power. He didn’t. He wanted his friends and family to be safe. He wanted to spend time with Obi-Wan, just laughing and joking. He wanted to have a few uninterrupted days with Padmé, to just hold her. He wanted Ahsoka to learn and become a great Jedi. He wanted his men to live through this war. He wasn’t like the Sith.

Right?

Chapter Text

Anakin hadn’t managed to meditate, or even sleep, so when he had to get up and act like a general the next morning, he wasn’t in the best shape. It didn’t really help that everyone kept congratulating him on killing Dooku. It wasn’t that he was upset over killing the Sith Lord, but everything else…

He sighed and took another drink of caff. He really wasn’t in the mood for this, for all that it was just debriefs and explanations. Rex glanced over at him. “You don’t look so good sir,” he said.

Anakin sighed. It was just Rex and Cody with him right now, and he allowed himself to rest his head on the table for a moment. “Long night,” he said. “I couldn’t sleep.”

“Sir, we can handle this,” Cody said.

“I know,” Anakin said. “But I need to do something other than stare at the bulkheads trying not to think.”

Rex paused. “Sir… what happened? You and General Kenobi were barely holding it together when we left that temple, everyone noticed, and we haven’t even seen General Kenobi since last night.”

Anakin winced. “We got separated in the temple, and I had to face off against Dooku alone. Obi-Wan managed to get to us just as I killed Dooku.”

“Something else happened,” Cody said. “Or neither of you would be this out of sorts.”

Anakin snorted. No, they wouldn’t be. But he couldn’t tell them, not yet. He could wait.

“It’s nothing, Cody,” Anakin said.

“With all due respect, sir, that’s poodoo,” Rex said.

Anakin winced. He could feel Ahsoka approaching. “Not now,” he said. “Maybe- maybe later, after Obi-Wan and I have a chance to talk.”

The two clones nodded, though neither looked happy. Anakin wasn’t happy either, but there was nothing that would make him tell anyone what had happened, not now.

“Master,” Ahsoka poked her head in. “You turned off your comm, and Master Obi-Wan wanted to talk to you.”

Anakin froze, just for an instant, but it was enough for the others to notice. He quickly nodded. “His quarters?” he asked.

“I think so,” Ahsoka said. “Master, I need…”

“You can walk with me down there, Snips,” Anakin said. He might be dealing with issues, but Ahsoka was his Padawan, and she still needed him. He wasn’t going to let her down, no matter what.

“Master, who was that… hologram?” she asked as they headed down. “And why did he want you to bring me back there?” she shivered at the last word.

Anakin looked down at her. His Padawan, who he would make sure to never place in the situation he was in. “He was a ghost, Padawan,” he said. “He was a Sith Lord, once, and when he died, rather than surrender to the Force, he tied himself to that Sith Temple. He was insane, Ahsoka. He thought…” Anakin shook his head. “Never mind that,” he said. “The man was Sith, and insane. Let’s leave it at that.”

“Sith can do that?” she asked, shocked.

“Some of them, if they’re powerful enough,” Anakin said. “We don’t know how. Luckily, most, if they do it, are stuck in a place that’s strong in the Dark Side. Like that temple.”

Ahsoka nodded. “So why…?”

“He was insane, that’s all,” Anakin said. “Steeped in Darkness for so long, it’s not surprising.”

He stopped outside Obi-Wan’s door. “Don’t worry about it, Snips,” he said.

“But Master!” she protested.

He reached out and put his hand on her shoulder. “Exactly, Snips,” he said. “Let me worry about it. I’m your master, and it’s my job to worry about things like that.”

She didn’t look convinced, but Anakin didn’t have any other words to convince her. “Go on,” he said. “Obi-Wan and I need to talk about my fight with Dooku.”

Obi-Wan chose that moment to open the door and eye them both. He looked like he’d had about as restful a night as Anakin had. “Come in, Anakin,” he said.

Anakin followed him in and waited for Obi-Wan to close and lock the door. “Have a seat,” Obi-Wan said.

“Master,” Anakin started as he sat on the single chair. He paused, and couldn’t think of anything else to say.

“Anakin,” Obi-Wan paused for a moment, and sat on the bunk. “I could feel you last night,” he said. “And first things first- you are not Sith.”

“But… I can feel it, Master. You feel different. And if I concentrate, I can feel the difference in myself.”

“Anakin,” Obi-Wan said. “I’ve been doing some thinking. That… that feeling, the Sith think it means that someone is a Sith Lord, but it’s a mark of defeating a Sith. You defeated a Sith, Anakin. Of course that’s going to make a difference.”

Anakin eyed Obi-Wan. “You don’t believe that,” he said.

Obi-Wan deflated. “No,” he admitted after a moment. “But I was hoping you would.”

Anakin couldn’t help but smile. “Still acting like my Master,” he said. His smile faded. “What does this mean for us?”

Obi-Wan sighed. “I don’t know,” he admitted. “But I will tell you this, Anakin- you are not like Dooku. You might have that new twist to your Force sense, and maybe it’s from some Sith ritual, but you are not like him.”

Anakin looked down. “I could be,” he muttered. “I know I could be.”

Obi-Wan looked down. “Yes, you could be,” he admitted. “You have darkness in you, Anakin. I won’t deny it. But you aren’t like him. You fight it. That’s the important thing. And, Anakin… I could be too. All Jedi could be. But we fight it.”

Anakin looked at him. “Then what are you worried about?”

Obi-Wan shook his head. “I don’t know if I can put it into words,” he said.

“Try?” Anakin asked. “Please?”

Obi-Wan looked to the side. “What does this mean for us?” he asked. “I’ve been trying to figure that out. And do we tell anyone else? The rest of the Council, for example?”

Anakin winced. “They’d just use it as another thing against me. Another reason not to trust me.”

Obi-Wan winced in response. “I hope they’d be more reasonable,” he said, though he didn’t really sound convincing.

Anakin knew the majority of the High Council didn’t trust him- Obi-Wan was the only exception- he just wasn’t aware that Obi-Wan had realized how bad it was.

“What else?” Anakin asked.

Obi-Wan frowned as he looked up. “It’s… I know it’s been over a decade since I killed Maul, but the way the guardian talked about it, it’s been making me think.”

“Did I slip, when I killed him?” Anakin asked. “Is that why the guardian thinks I’m a Sith Lord?”

Obi-Wan jolted. “Yes, exactly,” he said. “And… what about other Sith Ghosts? Or other Sith objects? Would they think I was Sith? Am I really Sith?”

Anakin slumped. It didn’t make sense, but it made him feel better to know he wasn’t the only one feeling this way.

Chapter Text

Obi-Wan took a deep breath as their gunship approached the Jedi Temple. He looked over at Anakin, then at Ahsoka, Rex, and Cody. The latter three were getting impatient with him and Anakin, and Obi-Wan knew he and Anakin would need to make it up to them later.

He and Anakin had been forced to come to terms with what they’ve learned. He wasn’t entirely sure they’d succeeded, but he could feel Anakin was at least at a more even keel. Not totally back to normal, no, but he was at least beginning to accept their new situation. Well, new to them. Perhaps it wasn’t really new for Obi-Wan, but he hadn’t known about it.

Obi-Wan shook his head once and turned his attention to projecting calm. Anakin, of course, knew it was fake, but Obi-Wan didn’t think anyone else would noticed.

Anakin closed his eyes for a moment to build up his own mental shields and project his own normal not-quite-Jedi-calm. Obi-Wan nodded approvingly at him once he opened his eyes.

It had taken them nearly the entire trip back to regain even the proper feel of calm, if not the actual feeling. That, if nothing else, told Obi-Wan how badly shaken he’d been by the events in the Sith Temple.

He’d never wanted anything to do with the monsters who’d killed his Master, and now he knew that he felt like one of them, to them.

Obi-Wan couldn’t help but wonder if that actually made him one of them. The guardian had seemed to think so, apparently ignoring the fact that Obi-Wan was a Jedi.

And the guardian had even acted like they were younger Sith, giving them a mission. It wasn’t exactly a mission Obi-Wan was opposed to, because he would love the chance to destroy the Sith Master who had trained Maul. But they way Rivan had given them that mission… as if either killing him or simply teaching him that the rule of two was useless would do. Obi-Wan knew which path he wanted to take.

Even if it turned out that Obi-Wan’s suspicions was right. Perhaps especially if his suspicions were right, because if they were, there would be only one reason for the Sith Master to have befriended Anakin.

He really hoped he wasn’t right. And yet, the new twist to Anakin’s Force presence was a lot like the way Palpatine felt in the Force. Obi-Wan needed to spend some time comparing the two Force senses to be sure. And he wanted Anakin to tell him if he was imagining it or not. Obi-Wan dearly hoped he was imagining it.

They landed at the Jedi Temple. Obi-Wan took a deep breath, let it out, and led his small group onto the landing platform. He led the way to the small greeting party waiting for them. “Masters,” he said as he bowed.

Master Yoda nodded in greeting while Master Windu bowed. Anakin and Ahsoka followed Obi-Wan’s actions, and Cody and Rex simply saluted.

Obi-Wan turned as the second gunship landed, the one carrying Dooku’s body. Obi-Wan had ordered an escort for the coffin, simply to insure no one tried to make off with the body.

He wasn’t entirely happy to have Master Yoda here. Yoda had been Dooku’s master, back when Dooku was a Jedi, after all. He didn’t want Yoda to see his body. It was a silly impulse, for Master Yoda had seen many of his Padawan’s bodies over the centuries.

Still, as they watched the coffin, Yoda’s ears were drooping. “Dead, the Count is,” he said.

“Well done, Obi-Wan,” Mace Windu said.

Obi-Wan stiffened. “It was all Anakin,” he said. “I only witnessed the very end of their duel.”

Windu looked over at Anakin. “Well done, Skywalker,” he said, not nearly as warmly as he’d spoken to Obi-Wan. Funny. Obi-Wan had never really noticed that before. He’d known that Mace didn’t really like Anakin, but he’d never really grasped that it was that noticeable.

Had something changed? Or was Obi-Wan simply noticing something that had always been there? Anakin didn’t seem to think this was anything unusual, so perhaps Obi-Wan was just more aware. But… why would he suddenly start noticing these things?

Obi-Wan sighed and shook his head. “Masters, I know you’ve read our reports, but like I said, there are a few things that must be gone over in person, or as much as possible in this time of war. Can the Council be assembled?”

“Yes,” Mace said. “But why?”

“Not out in the open, Master Windu,” Anakin interjected. “It’s…” he paused. “Something about where I fought him.”

“Left that out of your reports, you did,” Yoda commented as they started for the temple.

“For a good reason,” Obi-Wan said once they were inside. “We chased Dooku…” he cut himself off. “We’ll explain in the chamber,” he finished.

Obi-Wan hoped that the council would believe his and Anakin’s story. If they didn’t…

Obi-Wan cut that thought off. He knew they would be able to find somewhere to go if they had to leave. He was fairly certain it wasn’t necessary, but he still had a few plans.

Anakin glanced at him and raised an eyebrow. Obi-Wan took a moment to settle himself back down.

Anakin turned to Rex and Cody. “Go see to the men,” he ordered. “Ahsoka, go with them.”

Ahsoka had known this was coming, so she wasn’t surprised. She wasn’t pleased, but she wasn’t surprised. “Yes, Master,” she sighed.

Obi-Wan tried not to smile. Ahsoka was good for Anakin, he could see that, but…

Well, sometimes watching them was like watching himself with Anakin, a decade ago. Not that he’d ever tell Anakin that. Anakin still didn’t know that Obi-Wan had had a hand in choosing Ahsoka for him. He truly did think she was the best Padawan for Anakin.

Obi-Wan turned his attention to their surroundings as they arrived at the Council chamber. “I believe it would be best if I stood with Anakin today,” he said before going in.

“Very well,” Mace replied. They entered, and Mace and Yoda took their seats, while Anakin and Obi-Wan stood. Obi-Wan squared his shoulders and glanced at Anakin. He really hoped the Council believed him.

Chapter Text

Master Yoda had seen many things over the centuries. One thing that he never got used to seeing was his own Padawans returning to the Force. Even for a Padawan that had turned, it was still a hard thing to see.

Yoda didn’t blame young Skywalker. Skywalker had simply battled a Sith and won. It didn’t matter that the Sith had once been a Jedi Master, or Yoda’s own Padawan, Dooku had still been a Sith Lord.

There was something about this mission, however, that just wasn’t adding up. Master Kenobi and young Skywalker were being very cautious in what they were saying outside the Council room. Hopefully, they’d be more truthful once inside.

“What happened during your chase?” Mace asked once every member of the council had either arrived or was present via hologram.

“We followed the Count to a planet near the inner rim. There was no name, and based on the… building we chased him into, it was abandoned at least by the time of the last great war,” Obi-Wan began. “Masters, Anakin and I were the only two to enter it at first, and we realized almost immediately that it was a Sith Temple.”

Mace leaned forward. “What are the coordinates?” he asked.

Obi-Wan glanced at Anakin, who rattled off a string of numbers. Yoda felt his skin prickle as soon as he heard the first three numbers. “Survived that temple, no Jedi has,” he said. “Declared forbidden, that temple is.”

Obi-Wan and Anakin glanced at each other. “We weren’t aware of that,” Obi-Wan said. “And there were… circumstances we were not aware of when we entered.”

“What circumstances?” Mace asked.

“I’ll explain that as I tell the story,” Obi-Wan said. “In any case, Anakin and I decided that it was best to stay together. We didn’t want anything to try to trick us. Unfortunately, we were separated. Anakin was sent down a tunnel that landed him a few corridors away from Dooku.”

“I did my best to hide, but Dooku found me, and I was forced to fight,” Anakin said, picking up the story. “I… it was a hard fight.” He bit his lip in thought. “I eventually managed to disarm him, but he started using Force Lightning. I deflected or avoided most of it, and… I stabbed him through the heart.”

“When I found them, Anakin was practically encased in a sphere keeping the Lightning from hitting him,” Obi-Wan said. “It was an incredible feat of Force ability, especially as he was still moving.”

Anakin glanced down. Yoda knew that young Skywalker was always embarrassed when Obi-Wan praised him like that.

Obi-Wan took a deep breath. “There was absolutely no other way their fight could have ended. Dooku was not going to be captured, and he would not have stopped trying to kill Anakin. Anakin did the right thing.”

“Once the fight was over,” Anakin started. He frowned, and paused. “I noticed something. I…”

“Anakin’s sense in the Force changed,” Obi-Wan said.

Practically as one, the masters present leaned forward and touched Anakin in the Force. Yoda was completely unable to resist doing the same.

“I feel no differences,” Mace said, puzzled.

“No, you wouldn’t,” Obi-Wan said. He seemed… slightly wary. “It is…”

“Apparently, one of the ancient traditions in the old Sith Order was to have a Sith defeat another one to be named a Sith Lord,” Anakin said with a wry twist to his mouth. “And…”

Mace’s eyes widened. “Obi-Wan killed a Sith Lord on Naboo.”

Obi-Wan and Anakin nodded. “The guardian of the Temple apparently could tell. He thought I was a Sith Lord, and Anakin…” he frowned and tilted his head. “I think he thought I wanted to make Anakin my Apprentice.”

Yoda’s eyes widened. He reached out and searched through Obi-Wan’s sense in the Force, but though there was some turmoil, there was absolutely no Darkness that hadn’t already been there. Young Skywalker was next, and he felt the same as well.

Everyone waited patiently for him to finish. They all trusted that he would be the best to look.

“Dark, you are not,” Yoda finally said.

Both of them seemed to relax slightly. “Thank you, Master,” Obi-Wan said. They glanced at each other, and Obi-Wan nodded.

“The guardian apparently didn’t like Dooku,” Anakin finally continued. “He told us Dooku was not a True Sith.”

“Are you saying you talked to the guardian?” Kai-Adi Mundi asked.

“Yes,” they chorused.

“He thought we were Sith, Masters,” Obi-Wan continued. “Once Dooku was dead, he appeared to us and said…” he scowled. “He called us Lords, and told us that the Sith of the last thousand years had left most of the ancient traditions and rules fall to the side.”

“He… well, quite frankly, Masters, he gave us a mission.”

“What mission?”

“To find and either kill the current Sith Master, or convince him that the Rule of Two isn’t needed,” Obi-Wan said. “Personally, I’m sure we won’t be able to do the latter.”

Yoda couldn’t resist an almost uncharacteristic snicker. Every eye turned to him. He didn’t say anything.

“There’s… one more thing,” Obi-Wan said. He paused. “Anakin can’t confirm this yet, because we haven’t met him since Anakin killed Dooku, but… there is a politician who might have the same twist in the Force that Anakin now has. I can’t be certain, I would need to see him again, and I need Anakin to tell me if I’m right.”

Yoda’s eyes widened. “Know who the Sith Master is, you do?”

“Suspect, Master,” Obi-Wan said. “I am not sure. I can’t be sure yet. I need some time to confirm it.”

Mace narrowed his eyes. “Who?” he asked.

Obi-Wan shook his head. “I don’t want to cast suspicion on anyone, in case I’m wrong. If I’m right, I’ll tell you.”

Mace looked at young Skywalker. “What do you think, Skywalker?”

“I really, really hope he’s wrong, Master,” Skywalker said. “But he’s right. If he’s wrong, he’ll have accused an innocent man. If he’s not… we’ll tell you.”

Mace sighed. “Only you two,” he said. “We’ll read the rest of your report later,” he said. “You’ll have your time, Obi-Wan. Please try to make it fast.”

Yoda finally cleared his throat. “Tonight, join you both in meditation I will,” he said. “I sense no Darkness in either of you, but sure, I would like to be.”

Anakin bowed and left, as Obi-Wan finally made his way to his council seat.

“We did not plan on this,” he finally said, when several of the Masters kept staring at him.

Finally, Yoda cleared his throat and brought everyone’s attention to him. “Other issues, we must discuss. Worry about the Sith Lord in our midst, we need not,” he added with a small smile at Obi-Wan.

Obi-Wan snickered while everyone else gaped at Yoda. Yoda glanced at Obi-Wan. There was something almost… false about that snicker. Yoda sighed. He could easily believe that Obi-Wan was only acting calm about his new titles, not that he actually was calm.

Chapter Text

Anakin hurried toward the quarters he shared with Ahsoka. He wanted to send a message to Padmé, let her know he was on planet, but that it might be a few days before he could see her.

Unfortunately, he entered his quarters to see Ahsoka, Rex, and Cody waiting for him. He blinked. “Oh… uh…”

“Sit, Skyguy,” Ahsoka pointed at the chair they’d left available to him.

“Uh…”

Rex glared at him. “Sir, we’re worried. About you and General Kenobi.”

Anakin sighed. “It’s not something I can tell you just yet,” he said. “Not everything.”

“Master!” Ahsoka exclaimed.

“No, Snips,” Anakin said. “I really can’t. Some of it we’re not even telling the council yet. They know we’re keeping something back, and they’re willing to wait.”

Cody jolted. “They’re just…”

“It’s too important to be said out loud,” Anakin said. “Obi-Wan and I are dealing with the aftereffects of our last mission, I promise.” He smiled slightly. “Thank you, though, for your concern. It does mean a lot.”

Rex sighed. “What can you tell us, sir?” he asked.

Anakin frowned. “Well… apparently, if a Jedi kills a Sith Lord, there’s some changes to their Force sense,” he said.

Ahsoka scowled. “I didn’t notice anything different about you, master,” she said.

Anakin sighed. “You wouldn’t,” he said. “It’s some ancient Sith rite of passage. Only others who have killed a Sith Lord can sense it.” That was vastly oversimplifying matters, but Anakin didn’t particularly care.

“Meaning, sir?” Cody asked. He looked stunned, and… Anakin wasn’t sure what else.

Anakin grinned tightly. “The Sith Guardian thought Obi-Wan and I were Sith Lords.” He shook his head.

“So, Master when that guardian…”

Anakin nodded. “The guardian wanted me to take you as an Apprentice, not just a Padawan.” He turned and looked into her eyes. “It won’t happen, Snips,” he said. “I’m not going to turn to the Dark Side, and neither is Obi-Wan. We might use this to our advantage. If a Sith Guardian was fooled, then other Sith objects might be.” He took a deep breath. “But I am keeping you out of this, Padawan,” he said. “I will not allow you to be exposed to the Dark Side like that. I promise.”

Ahsoka took a deep breath. “Master I can handle it,” she said.

“Probably,” Anakin agreed. “But you shouldn’t have to handle it. You’re young, Padawan mine,” he said. “And I don’t want to expose you to more Darkness than you see when we’re at war.”

“Sir, can we help?” Cody interjected.

Anakin frowned. “Not now,” he said. The Force was whispering at him. “But you might be able to help later.”

“Now, go on, get out of here. I know Rex and Cody have things that they need to take care of, and Snips, I need to do a few things before I can come meet you in the training room for a spar. And if things keep going the way they’ve been going, we’ll need to work on your shields.”

Ahsoka groaned but she and the clones left.

Anakin smiled slightly. He hadn’t told them nearly everything, just as he and Obi-Wan hadn’t told the council everything. But he’d told them enough. Now he just had to hope Ahsoka didn’t try anything foolish.

Anakin sighed. She probably would. She was entirely too much like her master for her to leave it at that.

Anakin would just have to keep an eye on her to make sure whatever she did didn’t harm her.

He sighed and went into his room, heading for his comm station. He put in a call to Padmé’s apartment. He expected to have to leave a message, but Padmé answered almost immediately.

“Anakin!” she said.

He smiled without thinking about it. “Padmé,” he said. “I didn’t expect you to be in.”

“I’m working from home today,” she said. “Are you at the Jedi Temple?”

Anakin nodded. “I am. I wanted to leave a message, I’m going to be on planet for at least a few days. The Senate will probably want to question me and Obi-Wan, and there are a few Jedi issues I have to deal with. I don’t know when I’ll be able to get away to see you.”

“What happened, Ani?”

Anakin took a deep breath. “I killed Dooku.”

Padmé gasped. “Oh, Ani,” she breathed.

He smiled. “There are some repercussions from that, so… Padmé, be careful. Trust no one. We have some intelligence that suggests the possibility that even the highest levels of the government are infiltrated.”

“I’ll be careful. There are some allies I might be able to contact.”

“Don’t tell me who,” Anakin said. “Just to be on the safe side. And don’t tell them anything about Dooku. I probably shouldn’t have told you.””

“I know,” she said. She looked to the side. “Is it really that bad?”

Anakin nodded. “I’ll tell you everything I can next time we meet in person,” he promised.

She smiled at him. “Soon,” she said.

“Yes, as soon as possible,” Anakin agreed. “Hopefully this week.”

Padmé looked to the side and sighed. “I need to go…”

“I love you, Angel,” he said. “I’ll visit when I can. Are any days bad for you?”

“Only the usual,” Padmé replied. “I love you, Ani.”

He shut down the call and smiled. Somehow, just talking to Padmé had put him in a better mood. She and Obi-Wan were his anchors. With them, he could withstand anything, even the new suspicion that the Council was sure to have about him. And perhaps this time, Obi-Wan would notice how they were treated differently.

Anakin sighed and closed his eyes for a moment. He found Ahsoka, already at their preferred training room, and tapped her shields. It was their signal that he was on his way.

He needed to work with her. Her shields were good, but they could be better, and he needed to make sure she could sense Darkness when it was hiding.

Of course, if Obi-Wan was right, all the Jedi needed to work on that.

Anakin didn’t want Obi-Wan to be right. He knew what it meant if Obi-Wan was.

Forcibly, Anakin banished that thought. He’d find out, and soon.

Right now, he had to pay attention to his Padawan.

Chapter Text

Obi-Wan glanced at Anakin as they headed to Yoda’s quarters together. “You seem a bit more settled,” he commented.

“I told Snips, Rex, and Cody what the guardian believed,” Anakin said. “They probably needed to know.”

“Our commanders and your Padawan? Yes, probably,” Obi-Wan said. “Only that?”

Anakin nodded. “Of course,” he said. “It’s better they don’t know anything else right now. Ahsoka doesn’t need the worry.”

Obi-Wan smiled. “No, she doesn’t.” They entered the lift and Obi-Wan pushed the button for the correct floor. “Anakin, I… has Master Windu’s actions been different since we’ve returned?” he asked.

Anakin blinked, then frowned. “No…” he drew the word out. “Not that I noticed.”

Obi-wan nodded slowly. “And the fact that we told the Council you defeated Count Dooku, and he praised me first?”

Anakin shrugged. “That wasn’t unusual,” was all he said.

Obi-Wan frowned.

Anakin shook his head. “You have always been quick to point out when I did something, or contributed to something. I just thought it was… Master Windu doesn’t like me.”

“I never noticed…” Obi-Wan murmured.

“You noticed enough to make sure the Masters knew when I did something that deserved recognition.”

Obi-Wan shook his head. “I should have noticed before now,” he said.

Anakin pressed the “stop” button on the panel. “Obi-Wan, it doesn’t matter. So you noticed how the Council has always treated me. Even if you never noticed before now, you always protected me from the worst of it. So you didn’t fail me, or whatever you’re thinking now.”

As a matter of fact, Obi-Wan was thinking just that. “But I should have noticed,” he repeated.

Anakin frowned. “No one noticed,” he said. “Most of the Jedi seemed fine with just following the Council’s lead, in fact. You never did, but… you were a young Knight. I figured you just didn’t want to contradict them in words. I thought you were just…” he bit his lip. “I figured you didn’t think you could say anything, and by the time you could, it was habit to just not follow their lead.”

Obi-Wan sighed. “I’m sorry, Anakin.”

Anakin shook his head. “You have nothing to apologize for,” he said. “Never.”

Obi-Wan reached out and started the lift again. “I’m surprised you stayed in the Order,” he said.

“I… after the first couple of years, I thought I’d leave after I was Knighted, but the war…”

“Maybe we can end it soon. I don’t want you to leave, but if the distrust means you would be better if you left, I want you to be happy.”

Anakin smiled. “Master,” he started. “I won’t leave until the war is over. And even then, I have a Padawan who has to be Knighted first.”

Obi-Wan smiled. “Very well,” he said. “But I do want to talk later about why I suddenly noticed his attitude now, and not before now.”

Anakin nodded. “I thought you had, already,” he said. The lift opened and they headed for Master Yoda’s quarters.

“I didn’t,” Obi-Wan said. “At least, not consciously.”

Anakin glanced at him. “You were a good protector anyway,” he said.

Obi-wan smiled faintly. All their bickering aside, Anakin didn’t seem to blame him for any of his failings when he was Anakin’s Master. Obi-Wan didn’t understand why.

Before they reached his quarters, Master Yoda opened the door and looked them up and down, ending their conversation.

“Late, you are,” Yoda said once they were all inside and seated on the cushions Yoda kept in his quarters.

“Yes Master,” Obi-Wan said. He didn’t offer any explanation, and Anakin was apparently willing to follow his lead.

“Meditation we must attempt,” Yoda said. “Examine you both, I will, then show me the way you feel in the Force, you will.”

“If we can, Master,” Anakin said. “I’ve meditated with Obi-Wan hundreds of times and never noticed this twist before.”

“Known about it, you have not,” Yoda pointed out. “Perhaps now, see it I can.”

Anakin bowed his head. Without another word, Obi-Wan took a deep breath and straightened his back. He reached out into the Force and that old familiar power flowed into him.

He felt Anakin reach out to him, and they fell into the Force together. Some time later (perhaps a minute, perhaps an hour) another joined them. He felt Yoda reaching into his Force sense, and relaxed, allowing the older Master to study him. He could feel Anakin beside him, struggling to do the same.

He could practically hear the mental “hmm” as Yoda studied them both. He could feel Anakin trying not to be resentful of this study. Anakin knew that any Jedi who were in their situation would be treated like this. Anakin knew that Obi-Wan was being treated just as Anakin was in this situation. So Anakin knew that this wasn’t just the Council being suspicious again.

Yoda eased away from them both, then the request for Anakin to focus on the way Obi-Wan felt different floated through all their minds.

Obi-Wan kept himself open for Anakin to sense. Anakin seemed to simply surround him for a moment, and then retreat.

Slowly, the three of them surfaced from their meditation. “Hmmm,” Yoda said noncommittally. “Dark, neither of you are,” he said after a moment. “Unchanged, your Force sense appears to be. When sensing through young Skywalker, feel the changes I do. But otherwise, feel it I do not.”

Anakin and Obi-Wan exchanged glances. “So even though you know it’s there, you can’t feel it?” Anakin asked.

Yoda reached out through the Force to them. “Feel it, I do not,” he confirmed. “Strange, it is,” he continued. “Felt it, I did, though young Skywalker. But now, gone it is. As if it was never there.”

Obi-Wan shook his head. “Amazing,” he murmured. “So, if we’re right, and the Sith Master killed his master, and he’s hiding his sense in the Force, Anakin and I are the only ones who would recognize him. ”

“A suspect, you already have,” Yoda said.

“I do,” Obi-Wan said. “But I hope I’m wrong.”

“Force, so do I,” Anakin breathed.

Obi-Wan reached out and squeezed his shoulder. It was mostly for Anakin’s sake that Obi-Wan hoped he was wrong. A Sith Lord would have befriended a Jedi Padawan for only one reason. Obi-Wan tamped down a sudden flare of protective fury. He might still be wrong.

“Good, it is, that to the Senate you must go. Announce Count Dooku’s death tomorrow, we will.”

“And they’ll want to celebrate us, and give the newsfolk even more reasons to talk us up,” Anakin completed unhappily. “As if we were the only Jedi who matter, when others are just as successful.”

Obi-Wan rolled his eyes. “At least we should be able to get close to our suspect.”

Yoda cackled. “Expect this, no Sith would,” he commented.

Obi-Wan narrowed his eyes at the smaller Jedi. “What are you up to, Master Yoda?” he asked.

Yoda just smiled. “Sith Lords, you may be, by their ancient rules,” he said. “But Jedi, you are as well. Turn the Sith against each other, we will.”

Anakin coughed, snickered, and then just gave up and laughed.

Obi-Wan chuckled helplessly. Only Yoda would see it that way.

Chapter Text

Padmé did everything she could not to pace as she waited for Anakin to arrive.

He’d sent her a brief message earlier in the day. *Home for dinner. Bringing Obi-Wan. We need to tell him.*

She wasn’t sure why Anakin wanted to tell Obi-Wan now, of all times, but she almost didn’t care.

The small speeder landed and Anakin and Obi-Wan got out.

Anakin headed right for her, and pulled her into his arms. She sighed and tilted her head up for a kiss, and he obliged her.

“Anakin?” Obi-Wan asked as soon as they parted.

Anakin smiled down at her. “I… Master, I know you’ve met before, but may I introduce my wife?”

“Your…” Obi-Wan trailed off. “Ah. That does make sense.”

Padmé blinked at him. “You’re not surprised,” she accused.

Obi-Wan smiled. “I knew there was… something between you two. I didn’t realize you were married, of course, but I knew that you were attached.”

Anakin smiled wryly. “I never could hide anything from you for long. I don’t know why I expected to hide this.”

“You’re not… upset?” Padmé asked.

Obi-Wan paused. “Not… really,” he said. “I already knew you were up to something,” he said. “So… the marriage is just an extension. When were you married?”

They entered the apartment, and Padmé signaled Threepio to bring drinks out. They settled on the couches, Anakin and Padmé on one, Obi-Wan on the other. “Just after Geonosis,” Padmé said. “When Anakin escorted me back to Naboo.”

Obi-Wan smiled, glanced at Padmé, then at Anakin. “Then you have my belated congratulations,” he said.

He frowned. “Anakin, is this why you want to tell her everything?”

“Or nearly,” Anakin agreed.

“What is it?” Padmé asked.

Anakin’s mouth twisted into what looked like an attempt at a smile. “I already told you Dooku is dead,” he said. “But there were…”

“Side effects,” Obi-Wan said. “Apparently, killing a Sith Lord is not something to be done lightly.”

“What do you mean?” Padmé asked.

His explanation stunned her. By the time she regained her composure, Anakin was staring at her worriedly. “I…” he started.

She lifted her hand up and covered his mouth. “You’re still you, right, Ani?” she asked.

Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Obi-Wan mouth “Ani?”

“Yes,” Anakin said. “At least, everyone says so.”

“Then I don’t care. If this means you can find the other Sith, the one who planned the invasion of Naboo, and is probably responsible for the war, then it’s a good thing.” She took her hand off his mouth.

“But…”

“No, Anakin,” Padmé said. “I don’t care if you’re a Jedi, a Sith, or a podracer. You’re you, and that’s the important thing.”

Anakin practically melted against her. “Thank you, angel,” he said.

She smiled up at him. She meant it, of course. And really, it just appeared that the whole Sith mark thing just marked them as Sith Killers, and not Sith themselves.

Threepio had appeared with drinks and some appetizers, and Padmé hastily took a drink of the wine he had served. “So, what do you plan next?” Padmé asked.

“Well, there’s the Senate questioning tomorrow,” Anakin said. “After that, we’ll see. We might…” he frowned and glanced at Obi-Wan with a raised eyebrow.

Obi-Wan frowned in thought. “It might be best if we don’t tell you our current assignment is, milady,” he said. “If others find out about it, they might harm you if you know.”

Padmé sighed. Anakin had kept war related things from her before, and she didn’t like it, but she understood it. “Very well,” she said. “But promise me you’ll be careful, Anakin.”

“As careful as I can be,” Anakin replied.

Padmé sighed, but that was the best she was likely to get. “I mean it,” she said. “Any other bombshells?”

“Not right now,” Anakin said. “There might be one in the future, but Obi-Wan and I are both hoping not.”

“Just be ready,” Obi-Wan said. “There might be some political turmoil soon.”

“When isn’t there?” Padmé asked.

Anakin chuckled. “If this happens, it’ll be worse than most.”

She scowled at him. “I wish you could tell me,” she said.

“I wish I thought it was safe to do so,” Anakin replied.

She watched them as they ate, and teased each other. She could tell that the whole thing was worrying Anakin, and she didn’t like it. “Anakin,” she said once the meal was done. “Why are you so worried about this?”

Anakin sighed. “Part of it, I can’t tell you yet,” he said. “And part of it is just… a Sith Temple thinks I’m a Sith, Padmé. That we’re Sith,” he amended, gesturing between himself and Obi-Wan. “The guardian all but said that he arranged it so I killed Dooku and became a Sith.” He sighed, glanced at Obi-Wan, then shook his head. “I’m just worried this will make it easier for me to turn. You know I have a temper.”

“Anakin,” Padmé and Obi-Wan started at the same time, in almost the same tone of voice.

Obi-Wan gestured to her. “Anakin,” she repeated. “You aren’t evil, and you never will be,” she said.

“Do you worry about me?” Obi-Wan asked. “After all, I’ve had this… I’ve apparently been a Sith Lord since Naboo.”

“You could never fall, Master,” Anakin said. “Never!”

“And I believe the same about you, Anakin,” Obi-Wan said. “Especially now that you’ve started thinking about your temper, and what could happen if you use the Dark Side. If nothing else, this little mishap has helped with that. But I trust you, Anakin, even if you don’t trust yourself.”

“So do I,” Padmé said.

Chapter Text

Anakin shifted slightly as he and Obi-Wan arrived at the Senate Dome. “Is it a bad thing that I hope you’re wrong? I mean, if you’re right, we might be able to end the war sooner. But if you’re right…”

“No, Anakin, it’s not bad,” Obi-Wan said. “I hope I’m wrong too. I don’t want to…”

Anakin felt another one of those flashes of protective fury, quickly controlled.

He’d been feeling them off and on since they’d first realized what the fact that Palpatine felt like Anakin now did might mean. It was… nice. It was proof that Obi-Wan cared about Anakin and didn’t want anything bad to happen him. Including whatever a Sith Lord would do if he had the trust of a young Jedi Knight.

Anakin had been trying not to think about that for the past few days. He’d trusted Palpatine. And if Palpatine was a Sith Lord trying to get his trust, then he couldn’t believe anything the man had ever told him. And even if he wasn’t, Anakin was starting to wonder just why the politician had befriended a young Jedi Padawan.

They left the troop transport and headed to the Arena area. Just before they got there, they were intercepted by a small group of Senators. “Senators,” Obi-Wan said as they both bowed. He smiled after a moment. “It is good to see you again, Senator Organa” he added.

“Master Kenobi, Knight Skywalker,” Bail Organa said. “I know you both know Senator Amidala, but this is Senator Mon Mothma of Chandrila. She was just elected and has only been on Coruscant for a few months.”

“Lady Mothma,” Anakin bowed over her hand. He smiled his most charming smile. “It’s an honor to meet you.”

Obi-Wan contented himself with a simple bow.

“We do know why you are here today,” Padmé added. “Knight Skywalker, congratulations on your victory.”

He nodded. “Thank you, Senator Amidala. I was lucky.” He hated having to pretend to be formal around her, but they were in public.

“Anakin, don’t play down your accomplishment,” Obi-Wan said. “He was amazing, Milady, and I think any Knight in the Temple would have been hard pressed to match his skills.”

And Anakin felt a slight flush in his cheeks. It always embarrassed him when Obi-Wan praised him like that. And hadn’t Obi-Wan embarrassed him enough last night?

Bail glanced at him and smiled slightly. Perhaps recognizing that Anakin really didn’t want to talk about it like that, he changed the subject. “We were just heading toward the Arena, would you care to join us in the Alderrannian Pod?”

Obi-Wan shook his head. “Thank you, Senator, but we’re speaking from the Council’s Pod today.”

Bail nodded. “Of course,” he said. “We will see you in session, then.”

Anakin had to force himself not to watch them walk away. “Let’s head in, Anakin,” Obi-Wan said. He was clearly hiding a worried frown. “I…”

“We’re going to figure this out, Master,” Anakin said. “I…”

Obi-Wan nodded. “Let’s hope I’m wrong,” he said.

Anakin nodded as they reached the entrance to the Council Pod. Master Yoda was already waiting for them. “Ready, you are?” he asked.

“As ready as we can be, Master,” Obi-Wan said.

The three of them entered the Pod, and took their seats. Anakin and Obi-Wan flanked Yoda and glanced at each other. Anakin nodded and Obi-Wan looked down at the smaller master. “Master Yoda,” he started. “Do you think this feeling is reliable enough?”

“Know enough, I do not,” Yoda interrupted. “Believe you, I do. Believe you, most Jedi will. But enough for the Senate, if what you believe is true, it will not be. Proof we must find, beyond your own feelings.”

“I was afraid of that,” Obi-Wan sighed.

“So was I,” Anakin admitted. “The Senate doesn’t view Jedi in a very favorable light.”

“Like you and Obi-Wan, they do,” Yoda pointed out.

“But not the Jedi as a whole,” Obi-Wan mused. “Perhaps it’s the Sith’s influence.”

“If he has influence,” Anakin said. They couldn’t begin to believe that Obi-Wan was right, not yet.

“I suspect, even if I’m wrong, the Sith Lord has a lot of influence in the Senate.”

Anakin nodded. “And if you’re wrong, I hope we can find them.”

“Me too,” Obi-Wan said. “Well, the feeling is quite distinctive,” he said. “I doubt anyone who else would have it.”

“And we already know that we can’t hide it from each other,” Anakin said, referring to some experiments they’d done the night before.

Obi-Wan nodded. “And it wasn’t anyone we met on the way in,” he said. “Thankfully.”

Anakin smiled faintly. “I’m glad,” he said. He and Obi-Wan exchanged brief smiles.

Yoda ignored their talk, instead focusing on the slowly filling Senate Pods. “Check those already here, you must,” he said.

Anakin sighed and closed his eyes for a second, sweeping out with the Force to feel the presence of the people around him. The only one with that twist in the Force was Obi-Wan. He felt Obi-Wan doing the same. “Nothing,” he reported as he opened his eyes.

“He’s right,” Obi-Wan said. “If the Sith Lord is in the Senate, he’s not here yet.”

Anakin sighed and shook his head. The suspense was what really worried him. He just wanted to know, one way or the other.

“Anakin,” Obi-Wan said. “If it’s really him, you need to be able to pretend you don’t know,” he said.

“I know,” Anakin said. “I’ll do my best.”

“That’s all I ask of you, Anakin,” Obi-Wan said.

Anakin swept through the Force presences once again. He was too nervous. He wasn’t even worried about the report he would have to give on Dooku’s death. No. He just wanted to know if Obi-Wan was right or not. And Anakin didn’t really see how Obi-Wan could be wrong. He wanted his old Master to be wrong, but he didn’t think he was. It made too much sense.

Anakin suddenly realized he already half believed the Chancellor was the Sith Lord, without even any proof. All it had taken was Obi-Wan’s suspicions and Anakin started questioning everything.

The low chime that indicated the session was about to begin rung, and Anakin and Obi-Wan glanced at each other and swept the Arena once more. Still nothing.

The central column rose and the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, and two guards entered the Arena.

Anakin focused on the Chancellor and felt Obi-Wan do the same beside him. Almost immediately, Anakin knew.

Anakin stared at the Chancellor, trying desperately to hide the horror he felt. It was true. Obi-Wan was right. Chancellor Palpatine was a Sith Lord.

Chapter Text

Chancellor Palpatine, the Sith Lord Sidious, frowned as soon as he was alone in his office. He hadn’t wanted Anakin to kill Lord Tyranus just yet. Anakin had always been impatient, though. Palpatine could adjust his plans for Tyranus’ death, but there was something else he wasn’t sure about.

Anakin had changed, in the Force. He now felt like Kenobi. Oh, the differences between the two men were still there, but now there was an overlay that Sidious had always felt in Kenobi. Sidious didn’t like it. He didn’t like anything that had Anakin getting closer to Kenobi. It was already going to be hard enough to convince Anakin that Kenobi had betrayed him.

But now… what did it mean, that Anakin and Kenobi felt so similar in the Force? And Sidious had felt Anakin’s shocked horror in the Senate. The horror had been well hidden- better than Anakin could usually manage- but it had been there. And it had centered on Sidious himself.

Sidious took a deep breath and focused on the Dark Side. The pieces were coming together, far too early and in a configuration Sidious didn’t like. He had to make sure his suspicions were correct. He wandered the paths of the Dark Side for nearly an hour before he was sure.

Somehow, Anakin had figured it out. How, Sidious didn’t know. Hopefully, the mistrust between Anakin and the Jedi Council meant that Anakin would either not reveal what he’d discovered to the Council, or that the Council would not believe him.

Sidious wasn’t sure if that was possible, of course. The Council, as blind as it was, wouldn’t be that stupid, right?

He could hope, but he didn’t really believe it. Now, he didn’t know how long he had. He probably had a couple of weeks, at most. The Jedi would want proof, of course, before they tried to take him out.

How had Anakin realized? It didn’t make sense. Sidious had been so careful for so long. His shielding hadn’t slipped, nothing had changed… except Anakin felt like Kenobi now.

What was that about? Why would Anakin feel different?

Sidious frowned. It didn’t really make much sense, but perhaps Anakin was using the Force differently. He had killed Tyranus in a Sith Temple, so perhaps that was what did it?

No, that didn’t make any sense at all. The Temples were ancient relics of the old Sith, foolish as they’d been. There was nothing there that the Sith could use now, except as traps for the unwary.

Sidious closed his eyes again in thought. He needed to preempt any Jedi plots now. Anakin was going to be his. Anakin might take a different path now, but he would become a Sith Lord, Sidious was sure of it. If Kenobi was somehow influencing Anakin even more, he needed to die as soon as possible.

And Sidious needed to discover just why Anakin and Kenobi hadn’t been harmed by that Temple. It wasn’t something that made sense, after all. That Temple was notorious for killing all Jedi that entered it, but Anakin and Kenobi were able to simply enter, kill Tyranus and waltz right back out, none the worse for wear.

Sidious felt a sudden chill. Something had changed. He closed his eyes and concentrated. Anakin was going to tell the Council. He needed to act…

No. He had some time. The Council wouldn’t act right away. They’d wait for proof. They wouldn’t believe Anakin right away.

He had time. Not a lot, but he had time.

First, he had to lure Anakin to his side, by whatever means necessary. Then, he could kill the Jedi. Perhaps he’d have Anakin kill Kenobi first, to prove his loyalty. Then, he could deal with the Separatists. Finally, he’d create his Empire.

Sidious tilted his head. He could do several of those steps at once, if he could lure Anakin to him.

Perhaps Anakin wouldn’t want to turn to the Dark Side, but there were means to make him.

That boy had more weakness than most Jedi, and it was time to take advantage of them. Sidious took a deep breath and let the mantle of Palpatine fall over his voice as he activated the comm to talk to his secretary.

Once he was done, Sidious took another breath, to allow himself to appear to be Palpatine. He needed to be seen as nothing more than Palpatine until his leverage was in hand.

He turned and activated the screens of his desk. He had a little bit of time, and he could study the war efforts while he waited. It was ultimately useless, of course, but if anyone visited unexpectedly, it looked good.

He didn’t have long to wait. His secretary buzzed him with news that the person he wanted to see was here. Sidious smiled thinly. Yes. He had what he needed now. His guest was in for a surprise, and this would save him a lot of effort. Get Anakin angry enough about this, and he’d turn. Sidious would just have to convince Anakin that Sidious wouldn’t really do as threatened. “Send her in,” Palpatine said.

He turned as the door opened and his guest entered. “Ah, Senator Amidala. Please come in. Thank you for agreeing to see me.”

Chapter Text

Mace Windu settled in his seat as Obi-Wan and Skywalker stood in the center of the chamber. “Did you find the Sith Lord?” Mace asked.

Obi-Wan closed his eyes. “Yes,” he said quietly. “It was as I feared.”

“Tell us, you will,” Yoda said.

“And then we will destroy him,” Mace added.

Skywalker swallowed. “It won’t be as easy as that,” he warned. “He’s politically very powerful.”

“Who is it?” Ki-Adi Mundi asked.

Obi-Wan sighed. “Chancellor Palpatine,” he said. “He has that exact same twist in his Force Sense that Anakin does. That I do.”

Skywalker nodded somberly. “He’s either the Sith Lord or he’s killed a Sith Lord.”

“And we know he hasn’t simply killed a Sith Lord,” Obi-Wan said grimly. “I had hoped I was wrong, Masters,” he said. “But I’m afraid I wasn’t. The Republic is under the control of a Sith Master.”

No. Mace stared at the two of them in shock. It couldn’t be.

“Impossible,” Agen Kolar breathed out.

“With the Force, nothing is impossible,” Yoda said. His ears were drooping down in a clear sign of his unhappiness. “Truth, they are telling. A Sith, the Chancellor is.”

“We must stop him,” Plo Koon said. “But we must also be cautious.”

Skywalker closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He opened his eyes, and all hints of his emotions were gone. Mace had never seen such control from Skywalker. Perhaps this mess did have some advantages after all. “The Chancellor has a lot of political power. I know some Senators have been growing concerned with how much power he has. Perhaps we should speak with some of them.”

Obi-Wan glanced at him. “Senator Organa comes to mind,” he said.

“He is one of the ones I was thinking of,” Skywalker replied. “He can be trusted, Masters,” he added. “He’s consistently opposed granting the Chancellor additional power.”

Mace tilted his head. Skywalker was making sense, which was unusual outside of a battlefield. “There are others,” he said.

“Yes, of course,” Skywalker said. “Senator Amidala, Senator Bel Iblis of Corellia, and Senator Antilles of Iago come to mind. And Senator Organa introduced a new Senator, Senator Mothma, to Obi-Wan and I today. She might also be able to help.”

Mace could see surprised looks being exchanged all across the chamber. He had certainly never expected Skywalker to be so in tune with the political matters on Coruscant.

Obi-Wan didn’t look at all surprised, but then again, he never seemed surprised at what his former Padawan could do or know.

“I can also speak with some of my less reputable contacts,” Obi-Wan added. “Surely someone can come up with something.”

Yoda nodded. “And, speak, you two must, with some of the holocrons we hold.”

Everyone frowned at the oldest master. “Uh… Master?” Skywalker finally managed.

“We have, in addition to the Jedi holocrons, six Sith holocrons. If, like the Temple, they believe you are Sith, talk to you they might.”

Everyone was silent for a long moment.

“I didn’t even think about that,” Obi-Wan murmured.

Skywalker had paled. “We have Sith holocrons in the Temple?” he breathed out.

“Do not mention that to anyone, Skywalker,” Mace said sternly. “The only reason you know is because of your misadventure in the Sith Temple.”

Skywalker nodded. “Understood, Master,” he said. He glanced at Obi-Wan.

Obi-Wan returned the glance, though Mace couldn’t interpret either look.

“We will need a Force Shielded room,” Obi-Wan finally said. “I don’t want any hint of the Darkness from the holocrons getting out to the Temple in general.”

“In a shielded room, they already are.”

Obi-Wan nodded. “We can at least ask, then. Though they might not listen to us no matter what they believe we are.”

“Understood,” Mace said. “Now, we need to figure out what to do with the proof when we get it.”

“As much as I would like to, we can’t just storm his office and kill him,” Obi-Wan said grimly. Everyone stared at him for a moment. That sounded more like something Skywalker would say, not Obi-Wan. Then again… Palpatine had apparently targeted Skywalker, and Obi-Wan was the man’s former Master. Mace imagined how he’d feel if the Sith Master had targeted one of his Padawans, and had to nod in understanding.

“Do that, we must not!” Yoda exclaimed. “Bring about our downfall, it would.” And that statement had a ring of prophecy to it.

“We could take it to the Senate,” Plo mused. “And present it there, for the galaxy to see.”

Skywalker tilted his head slowly in thought. “Or perhaps… Masters, he might not know we know. If I can get him to…” he frowned, and changed tack. “He wants me, Masters. We know he’s been trying to corrupt me since… since I arrived on Coruscant, practically. If I pretend to be further disillusioned with the Jedi, he might admit something to me, and we can use that.”

Mace could feel Obi-Wan instinctive denial of that idea, before the other Jedi turned pensive. “Anakin,” Obi-Wan began. He was interrupted by the Chamber doors slamming open.

Everyone present turned to the Padawan who had run in. “Masters!” Young Scout said. “The Chancellor is missing! He was meeting with Senator Amidala of Naboo, but neither of them left the room. When Palpatine didn’t respond to a comm saying his next appointment had arrived, the guards checked. There’s signs of a struggle.”

Skywalker took a step toward the Padawan before restraining himself. “Oh Sithing Hells,” Kenobi breathed.

For once, Mace agreed with using strong language in the Chamber.

There was a beat of silence before Mace surged out of his seat and started issuing orders.

Chapter Text

Padmé struggled to wake up. What had happened? She was meeting with the Chancellor, then… she stilled. The Chancellor had attacked her.

She’d put up a fight, she knew, but he’d quickly overpowered her. He’d resorted to some sort of… no. He’d pulled Lightning out of thin air and thrown it at her. Only Sith could do that.

She tried to hide that she was awake, taking in all she could without opening her eyes. She was laying down on a couch, though she was still wearing the senatorial robes she’d had on when she met with Palpatine. She could tell that her hidden blaster was gone, as was the dagger disguised as part of her headdress. She could feel a slight vibration through the couch that told her she was on a ship in hyperspace.

Her arms were loose, as were her legs. She opened her eyes and looked around. She was in a nice, though small, room. It was decorated in a Nubian style.

She sat up and took a better look at the room. Yes, it was definitely a Nubian vessel, she could tell by the way the walls curved. And while it was decorated in the Nubian style most popular around the southern mountains, it was darker than what she was used to. Red and black where most from the south preferred greens and blues.

This was Palpatine’s vessel. She took a deep breath. Now she understood why Anakin had warned her not to trust anyone, why he and Obi-Wan hadn’t wanted to explain their suspicions. It was almost treasonous, until and unless someone had proof.

Padmé nodded tightly. She didn’t know how long she had been out, or how long she had before Palpatine returned. She had to get up and search for a weapon, or a way out.

Resolutely, she stood up. She swayed for a moment, and gripped the edge of the couch to keep her balance. Right then. She’d been unconscious for a while. Carefully, she began to walk, always keeping a hand on the wall, or the furniture.

It really was nice furniture. She wasn’t surprised. She knew Palpatine had good taste, so it made sense that he had outfitted his personal ship well.

She narrowed her eyes and focused on the door. There had to be a way to get it open. She wasn’t going to take getting kidnapped by a Sith Lord sitting down. She’d get out, she’d get a blaster, and then she’d shoot him in the head.

The vibrations suddenly changed- they had come out of hyperspace. Good. She’d have a better chance at escaping on a planet. And where ever they were, it couldn’t be too far away from Coruscant. She leaned over and tried to pry the cover panel off the controls. She knew how to override almost all Nubian vessels, and she knew she could open the doors on this one.

The engine pitch and vibration changed again. Palpatine, or whoever he had flying this ship had set the engines to standby. They hadn’t landed. They were either drifting in space, or orbiting a planet.

She scowled and backed away from the door. And just in time. She was just far enough away from the door that it didn’t look like she had been messing with the mechanism when the door opened.

Palpatine eyed her for a moment before chuckling. The hairs on the back of her neck rose. There was something off about his laughter now. “You were trying to open the door, Senator Amidala,” he said.

She did everything she could not to shudder. His voice was different, too. It was no longer the kind, if stressed voice she had always heard from him. Now, it dripped with evil. She raised her head. “So what if I was?” she snapped. “You have no right to attack me or kidnap me.”

He chuckled again. “Oh, perhaps not legally,” he agreed. “But, my dear, you must understand that I am above the law. I am more than any law made by lesser beings.”

She couldn’t contain a snort. “Sith think highly of themselves, don’t they?” she said.

His gaze darkened. “So you know.”

“I figured it out when you tried to electrocute me!” she snapped.

“Oh, that was simply to get you to stop resisting,” Palpatine said. “If you hadn’t tried to fight back, I would have simply knocked you out.”

She glared at him. He chuckled. “Oh, my dear, you are truly perfect. It’s such a shame you know who I am. Until I have what I want, I cannot allow you to go free.”

She refused to let him intimidate her. Even if he frightened her now, she was still Padmé Amidala, and she would not be cowed. “I’ll escape, and then I’ll ruin you,” she gritted out.

He simply smiled. “Oh, my dear Amidala, you’re mistaken. You may leave, someday. But you will be the consort of my apprentice when you do, and you will be willing to help us in our plans.”

“I thought Anakin killed your apprentice,” she parried. She didn’t like what he was saying at all, but she was not going to show it.

Palpatine smiled thinly. “I know,” he said. “But I’ll have another soon enough. And I know you’ll join with him.”

She flattened her lips but didn’t reply. There was no way she’d ever “join with” any Sith Apprentice.

He tilted his head. “Not even if it’s Anakin?” he asked.

Her eyes widened. “Anakin will never join you!” she snapped.

He shook his head ruefully. “Yes, he will,” he said. “Anakin will be a wonderful apprentice, and with him I will finally take the Revenge our Order has been working toward.” He smiled slowly. “The Jedi will die,” he said. “The Republic will be destroyed. The Empire will be born. And you, my dear, will be right by our side, helping us with every victory.”

“You’re insane,” she breathed out.

“No,” Palpatine said. He shook his head. “I am not. But for now…” he gestured, and she was pushed back into the couch. “I have a ship to land, and I can’t have you interfering. Sleep, Senator Amidala, and wake after I put the cuffs and gag on.”

No matter how hard she fought it, she couldn’t stop her eyes from closing.

Chapter Text

The guardian was sure it had only been a week or two since young Obi-Wan and Anakin had left. So, when another Sith arrived, he couldn’t help but be shocked. He had no idea who this new Sith was, nor who his companion was. Perhaps a better term would be captive.

The Sith- both a True Sith and a Banite Sith and therefore likely the Sith Master- was simply floating his companion along. His captive was a young woman, perhaps a few years older than Anakin, and… the guardian studied her. Yes, she had some strength in the Force, though probably not enough that she could have become a Jedi. She was also absolutely furious, though since she was bound and gagged, she wasn’t able to say anything about it.

The guardian entered her mind and found her name- Padmé Amidala- and the name of her captor- Palpatine. Palpatine hadn’t even acknowledged the guardian, so the guardian was going to assume he was like the worst of the Banite Sith.

The guardian would have frowned. He’d heard the name Palpatine before… ah, yes. That was the name of the man Obi-Wan had mentioned when he was here.

“There,” Palpatine said as he dropped Padmé on the ground in the same training room Anakin killed Tyranus.

She glared up at him. He waved his hand and her bindings fell off. “I know you have questions, my dear. But we merely need to wait until Anakin and Kenobi arrive. I won’t answer your questions, so don’t bother asking them.”

She scrambled to her feet. “Why would…”

“I brought you here so that Kenobi would answer my questions,” Palpatine snarled. “He and Anakin changed after Anakin killed Dooku here, and I want answers. And I won’t kill all three of you afterwards, if you are still useful to me. I always intended on having Anakin kill Dooku eventually, but apparently he just couldn’t wait. No matter. I’ll have the boy under my control soon enough. And you as well, Padmé. As for Kenobi… perhaps I’ll take him as well. Or simply have Anakin kill him. We will see.”

The guardian was distracted as two more beings entered the temple, both at a near dead run. He looked at them and all but sighed in relief. It was Obi-Wan and Anakin. The guardian appeared before them.

“Lord Rivan,” Obi-Wan said, not sounding surprised at all as he slowed to a stop. “Were we right? Is Sidious here? We saw a ship landing when we arrived, but we can’t tell if it was the right one.”

The guardian glanced at Anakin, who looked horrible, then nodded. “He is. He and his hostage- a Padmé Amidala- are in the same room in which Lord Skywalker defeated Tyranus. I… cannot interfere with your fight, you are all True Sith. But I would prefer if you would win. Palpatine seems to be like the worst of the Banites. He’s talking about controlling Lord Skywalker, and killing you, Lord Kenobi.”

Anakin scowled. “I’m not surprised,” he said. “Two faced bastard…”

“Let’s just get to them,” Obi-Wan said. “Anakin- I will NEVER let him control you. Never. Lord Rivan, can you tell us if he expects us so soon?”

“I don’t believe so,” the guardian said after checking on the other Sith Lord. “He seems to ranting at the woman.”

“Is she alright?” Anakin asked.

The guardian frowned. “She appears to be a little frightened, but mostly angry,” he said. “Otherwise, she seems well enough. I think she might have a few small injuries, but nothing that would slow anyone down.”

“Good,” Anakin said. “Let’s get to them.”

“Anakin are you…”

“He’s expecting me,” Anakin said. “And probably you. So let’s give him what he wants.”

Obi-Wan looked worried. “Anakin… are you sure you’re ok?”

“He took my wife, Obi-Wan,” Anakin snarled. “I’m not going to be ok until she’s safe.”

Obi-Wan sighed. “Just remember, Anakin, that this anger is what he wants. He doesn’t want you to be able to think.”

The guardian frowned at Obi-Wan. Anger was useful, especially if one had to fight a Sith Master. Both of the young Sith had bad habits from their time in the Jedi Order.

Obi-Wan caught the frown and simple tilted his head.

“You should use your anger,” the guardian said. “You will need it, dealing with a Sith Master.”

Obi-Wan scowled. “I hope you’re wrong,” he said.

The guardian gave in to temptation and threw his hands up in the air in exasperation. “You are both Sith Lords!” he exclaimed. “True Sith, and the first we’ve really had in a thousand years. Why don’t you use your power?”

Anakin and Obi-Wan just looked at each other. “Later,” Anakin said as he headed down the tunnel toward the training area.

Obi-Wan nodded and matched him stride for stride. The guardian rolled his eyes and followed them. “Is there anything else you can tell us?” Obi-Wan asked.

“The woman- Lord Skywalker’s wife?” Obi-Wan nodded. “She is free to move about the room, though I suspect that will change when you arrive.” The guardian glanced at Anakin. “And I thought the Jedi order wasn’t allowing their members to get married just now.”

“Anakin…”

“I’m not very good with that rule,” Anakin said. “Padmé is…” he shook his head and fell silent. He flexed his left hand, trying to control his anger

The guardian was pleased by Anakin’s anger. And even Obi-Wan’s, though the latter had his under far better control.

Both of them were furious, and the guardian could detect a well of fear in Anakin’s mind as well. All those feelings were under that damnable Jedi control they both had, but they were there.

This fight might be just what was needed to draw it out. It just didn’t do for Sith Lords to have as much control as Jedi.

And, almost as soon as the guardian thought that, they arrived just outside the training room.

Anakin and Obi-Wan exchanged glances before Anakin took a deep breath and set his shoulders. The guardian released his physical form, determined not to interfere.

Side by side, Anakin and Obi-Wan walked in to confront the Sith Master.

Chapter Text

The guardian watched as Palpatine turned to face Anakin and Obi-Wan. It was true that he couldn’t actually interfere. They were all True Sith, and disputes between True Sith had to be decided between them. The guardian couldn’t interfere- for either side.

“Ah, Anakin,” Palpatine started.

“Don’t call me that, Lord Sidious,” Anakin interrupted with a snarl. “You were never my friend.”

Oh. OH! That rather explained some of the anger. Anakin was feeling betrayed. The guardian could imagine how it all happened.

Obi-Wan didn’t say anything as he stared at Palpatine.

Anakin looked at his Lady. “Are you alright?” he asked.

“I’m fine,” she said. Her hand drifted down for a second, before she clenched her fists. “He didn’t hurt me.”

Palpatine looked amused. “Quite. I simply needed to get you here, Anakin.”

“I said don’t call me that!” Anakin snarled.

“Would you perhaps prefer Lord Vader?” Palpatine asked.

“What?” Three voices chorused.

The Sith Master smiled. “That will be your name, once you join the Sith and become my apprentice.”

“Once I…” Anakin trailed off, and suddenly his eyes lit up. “You don’t know,” he said.

Obi-Wan’s jaw dropped. “He doesn’t,” he breathed.

“Know what?” Palpatine snarled.

“What happens when you kill a Sith Lord.”

Padmé jolted, eyes wide. “You’re not going to…”

“Don’t worry, Padmé,” Anakin said. “I think he’ll like this. Lord Rivan? I know you said you couldn’t interfere, but Lord Sidious apparently isn’t aware of the Rite of Combat. Would you be willing to explain it to him?”

Well, since he was being polite… The guardian materialized off to the side. “Lord Skywalker, Lord Kenobi, Lord Sidious,” he said. He glanced at Padmé. “And Lady Skywalker,” he offered with a bow. Anakin was trying to make a point here, so he would be formal about things.

She looked surprised, but not shocked, so evidently, her husband had told her about the temple. The guardian turned to Palpatine. “As for you, Sith Master of the Banite Line, I am Lord Rivan, guardian of this temple. And I am truly appalled that our Order has lost so much.”

“We have lost nothing,” Palpatine snarled. “And you are a Sith guardian, what are you doing allowing Jedi here without harm? And allowing them to kill another Sith Lord?”

The guardian sniffed. “You know nothing, or you’d know that Lord Kenobi hasn’t been a Jedi- or hasn’t only been a Jedi- since he killed your apprentice over a decade ago.”

Palpatine sneered. “And that is why I will be taking his apprentice from him,” he said. “Obi-Wan Kenobi is a Jedi, and nothing else.”

Anakin shook his head. “No,” he said. “You won’t.” He smiled suddenly. “And no, he isn’t.”

“Lord Skywalker is right,” the guardian said. “After all, since ancient times, one of the methods to become a Sith Lord was to defeat another in one of our temples. And of course, they could also kill a Sith Lord outside of our temples, as Lord Kenobi did.”

Palpatine blinked, then apparently put the pieces together. “No,” he snarled. “Kenobi is not a Sith!” he leapt forward, his lightsaber sliding out of his sleeve and igniting almost instantly.

Obi-Wan barely got his blue lightsaber up in time to block the red blade and flipped back as soon as he could.

Anakin lit his own saber and attacked Palpatine.

The guardian moved to stand next to Lady Skywalker. “I don’t know if your husband can win,” he told her quietly. “And my own rules do not allow me to interfere.”

She nodded as they watched the fight. Anakin and Obi-Wan were doing their best, but they were up against a Sith Master with several decades more experience in both the Force and the Dark Side. And they still wouldn’t use their anger and hate!

It was obvious who was going to win. The guardian didn’t want that, but he couldn’t interfere, not between True Sith. They were on the cusp of creating a new dynasty of Sith, and Palpatine would ruin that if he killed the other two Sith Lords.

The only thing saving Anakin and Obi-Wan was the fact that they were fighting as a team and protecting each other. One would take the lead, and just before Palpatine would overwhelm that one, the other would dart in and give the first a break.

But they were in a place that was steeped in the Dark Side, and facing off against a Master of the Dark Side. Their Jedi sensibilities wouldn’t help them here. They needed to use the anger the guardian could still feel from them.

Padmé clenched her fists. “I wish I had my blaster,” she snarled. “I’d shoot that…” she continued in some language the guardian didn’t know, but he guessed whatever she’d just called him was highly uncomplimentary.

The guardian considered that for a moment. True, he couldn’t interfere in a fight between True Sith, but Padmé wasn’t Sith, and she wasn’t involved in the fight. And she was the wife and confidant of a Sith Lord. It was only right she had a weapon. If she just so happened in interfere… well, it wouldn’t be the guardian’s doing. “There are some old Mandalorian weapons here in the temple, but I cannot guarantee they work, Lady Skywalker. And even Jedi can avoid a blaster shot.”

“Just having a blaster would be nice,” she said.

The guardian could understand that. He liked Lady Skywalker, more than he thought he would when Palpatine brought her here. He certainly liked her more than he liked the Banite master, For all that she wasn’t trained in the Force, she was remarkably strong willed, and a fine match for a Sith Lord.

He concentrated for a moment, before he found one weapon that actually still worked. It had belonged to one of his own favored soldiers, a woman not much bigger than the petite Lady Skywalker, but an incredible shot and one of his best fighters back when they’d both been alive.

The stone behind Lady Skywalker slid to the side, and she glanced at the blaster before picking it up and checking it. “A little old fashioned,” she murmured. “I haven’t seen a blaster of this style outside of a museum.”

“It is over two thousand years old,” the guardian replied. “But it should still work. Hopefully, you won’t need it.” He turned his attention back to the fight. It really wasn’t going well for Anakin and Obi-Wan. In fact, just as the guardian looked over, Palpatine managed to disarm Obi-Wan and leveled his lightsaber at Obi-Wan’s throat.

“Don’t move, Anakin,” Palpatine said. “Or I’ll kill him. In fact, throw your blade down.”

Anakin froze, still holding his lightsaber, before he carefully turned it off and set it on the ground. “If you kill him, I’ll kill you,” he snarled.

“You and Kenobi together cannot hope to defeat me,” Palpatine said. “I have no reason to fear you alone. But if you join me, Anakin, I will let him live.”

Anakin bit his lip, and glanced at Obi-Wan. “I…”

“Come now, Anakin,” Palpatine said. “You have a short time to join me, or I will make you chose between your wife and your Jedi Master.”

Anakin’s eyes narrowed. “Never,” he snarled. The Guardian saw Obi-Wan smile in pride.

Palpatine sighed. “Oh, very well then,” he said. “Chose which one I will torture, and which I will kill. Or I will chose for you.”

Before anyone could say anything else, Padmé brought her blaster up and fired at Palpatine. The guardian hadn’t expected it, and neither had the rest of the Sith.

The shot went right through the Sith Master’s head, and he slumped down. Obi-Wan dove to the right to avoid the lightsaber and came up to stare at Palpatine- at Palpatine’s body.

To the guardian’s shock, he felt the Force gather around Lady Skywalker.

Almost at once, Anakin and Obi-Wan turned to stare at her.

Trained in the Force or not, she had enough strength in the Force that she was now as much a Sith as they were.

Chapter Text

Silence. The guardian wanted to say something, but this had, to his knowledge, never happened. Sith had always been defeated by someone who at least had training in the Force. Lady Skywalker- and wasn’t that an even more appropriate title now- had never so much as had training in how to lift a stone.

Padmé shifted. “What is it? I saw the chance and I took it.”

“And I am grateful for that, milady,” Obi-Wan said. “But…” words seemed to fail him.

“What?” Padmé asked.

Anakin shook his head. “Aren’t we a group?” he finally asked the ceiling. “Two Sith Lords who stumbled on it by accident, and a Sith Lady who hasn’t even been trained.”

“WHAT?” she all but shouted.

“When you kill a Sith Lord, you take his title,” Obi-Wan said faintly. “I didn’t realize it didn’t matter if you’re not actually…”

“I’m not strong in the Force!” Padmé protested.

“You are,” the guardian said. “Perhaps not strong enough for the Jedi, but you do have some strength in the Force.”

“He’s right,” Obi-Wan said as he studied her. “It’s why do so well in the Senate, why you’re such a good shot. You’re not Force blind.”

Padmé looked over at Anakin who blinked and headed to her side. “Padmé,” he said quietly, after he pulled her into a hug. “Do you think less of me for killing Dooku?”

“Of course not,” she mumbled into his chest. “You didn’t ask to be a Sith, and anyway, it’s not like you’re trying to take over the galaxy.”

The guardian very carefully didn’t frown at his fellow Sith. At least they were Sith, even if they seemed to have no grand ambitions.

Anakin chuckled. “So why should I care that the same thing happened to you?”

“I’m not a Jedi like you are,” she said.

“Er.” Anakin paused. “Um.”

She pulled back. “What did you do?”

“We… might have disobeyed orders,” Obi-Wan interjected. “Stolen a ship, left Coruscant after being told to stay put. Nothing major.”

“We made Snips stay behind,” Anakin offered. “But I think she, Rex, and Cody were getting a team together to come after us.”

“Wouldn’t surprise me,” Obi-Wan mumbled. He paused. “Where did you get that blaster, it looks like a museum piece?” he asked, in a clear attempt to change the subject.

“I gave it to her,” the guardian said. “I didn’t expect her to…” he gestured to Palpatine’s body helplessly.

He really hadn’t expected it when he’d given her the blaster. He’d thought, at best, she’d distract Palpatine for a moment. But…

Slowly, he started to smile. It was truly poetic justice that a woman Palpatine had dismissed as harmless had destroyed the Banite Order.

“Anakin, how did you know?” Padmé asked. “How did you know that Palpatine was taking me here?”

Anakin sighed. “You know we have a bond in the Force,” he said. “It’s nothing like the bond I share with Master Obi-Wan, but it’s there. I… just knew. But Obi-Wan was the only one who would listen to me. Master Windu ordered me to stay on Coruscant, while they searched for Palpatine. I couldn’t do that.”

“And I wasn’t going to let him go alone,” Obi-Wan interjected.

Padmé shook her head. “You are going to be in so much trouble, Ani,” she said.

Obi-Wan snickered. “I’m on the council. I can say I authorized it.

Wait. The guardian blinked at him. He was on the Jedi Council?

Anakin, unaware of the guardian’s shock, snickered in return. “Master, they ordered us both to stay put. And by now, they know we didn’t.”

Padmé glanced between us. “Well, there’s nothing we can do about your complete inability to avoid rushing into trouble, but we should probably head back. What’s our story?”

Anakin frowned down at Palpatine’s body. “It was retaliation,” he said. “Dooku is dead, so the Separatists kidnapped Palpatine and shot him. You were caught just because you were meeting with him at the time. Obi-Wan and I arrived him time to save you, but they killed him before we even got there. That will work until we can prove to the galaxy that he’s behind the war.”

Obi-Wan tilted his head. “That might work,” he said. “Milady?”

“I dislike the idea of lying,” Padmé replied. “But if we don’t…”

“No one will believe us,” Anakin finished. “And we all know it.”

“How many people know he was a Sith Lord? And when did you find out?”

Anakin bit his lip. “From our side? Just us and the Jedi Council,” he said. “And we only knew for sure at that last Senate meeting, just before he took you captive. He must have realized we knew. I’m sorry, Padmé.”

She sighed. “It’s not your fault, Anakin,” she said. “What about his body?”

Anakin turned and scowled. “Space it,” he said.

“Anakin!” Obi-Wan yelped.

“Master, we can’t bring his body back. You know it. I know it. We have to make out like the Separatists shot him and spaced the body.” He sighed.

The guardian simply watched them. “You can leave it here, if you wish,” he said. “This is a Sith Temple, and there is a crematorium here.”

Padmé nodded once. “Very well,” she said. “We’ll do that.” She looked down at him. “If someone who is actually trained wouldn’t mind carrying him, you can lead us there, Lord Rivan.”

He eyed her. “Lady Skywalker, if I may ask… why were you meeting with the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic?”

She smiled thinly. “I’m the Senator for Naboo, his home planet. And another one of his pawns,” she added bitterly.

The guardian blinked but turned to lead the other Sith to the furnaces. A Senator, a Jedi Councilor, and a Jedi Knight. The revitalization of the Sith Order was off to an excellent start. Now he just had to get them to realize that. They had the ability to take over the galaxy. The three of them together could rule, and rule well.

“No, Lord Rivan,” Obi-Wan said.

“Lord Kenobi?”

“Whatever you’re planning. We don’t need to rule the galaxy.”

Rivan sighed. “Would that I could keep you here until you understood the true power of the Force,” he muttered. “Until you realized just what it means to be Sith.”

“We’ve got too much to do for that,” Anakin said as he floated the body along.

Unfortunately, Anakin was right. He did have to let them go. But eventually, someday, they’d understand. When that happened, he could hope they would let him advise them.

They were silent the rest of the way to the furnaces and as they loaded the dead Sith Master’s body into it.

Finally, once the cremation was done, Anakin broke the silence.

“I know one thing,” Anakin said.

Everyone glanced at him. He smirked. “We aren’t telling the Council about Padmé.”

Chapter Text

Finally. Ahsoka was about ready to strangle someone. Probably her Master. For the past few days, she had been caught between a rock and a hard place. Master Anakin had all but forced her to stay behind while he and Master Obi-Wan went off to save the Chancellor and Senator Amidala. She’d immediately gone to the 501st, and with them the 212th.

Unfortunately, Cody and Rex hadn’t been willing to just take off and search for their two Jedi Generals. For one thing, they hadn’t told Ahsoka where they were going.

And then Master Windu had found the three of them. He’d been (quietly, because Jedi were serene) absolutely furious, and even more furious when he learned that no one knew where Anakin and Obi-Wan had gone.

He’d at least not taken it out on anyone else, but Ahsoka was worried about how he’d react to her master when he returned. And now the small shuttle Master Obi-Wan had… requisitioned was returning. She could feel her master on board, and Master Obi-Wan, and Senator Amidala, but not the Chancellor.

Ahsoka was afraid to learn what that meant, even if she already knew, deep inside. Chancellor Palpatine was dead.

Ahsoka hadn’t liked the man, but her master had, and she knew that Anakin would see this as a failure. She resolved to be there for her master, as much as possible.

She saw someone arrive and turned to look. Master Windu was staring at the shuttle with a strange look in his eyes.

“They did it,” he said as they landed. Suddenly, the strange look was gone.

As the ramp dropped, he strode up to the ship and waited. Senator Amidala, looking a bit worn, was the first off, flanked by Anakin and Obi-Wan. “Master Windu,” Padmé said quietly. “Thank you for sending Master Kenobi and Knight Skywalker after us,” she said. “I regret that… they were unable to save the Chancellor. But the Sith Lord, Sidious, is dead.”

Ahsoka’s eyes widened. That was good news. The Sith were dead!

Anakin’s gaze found hers. “Perhaps we should take this to the Council chambers,” he said. “We have things to report, Master Windu.”

Ahsoka just knew she wasn’t going to be included in that report.

Still, she could hope, so she followed them up to the Council chambers. To her surprise, Master Obi-Wan eyed her for a moment and then glanced at Master Anakin.

Master Anakin sighed and nodded. “Come on, Snips,” he said.

Master Windu didn’t say anything as they all entered the chamber.

Ahsoka took her position just behind Master Anakin, and waited.

Once the Council was assembled, Master Obi-Wan began to talk. Ahsoka listened, eyes getting wider at practically every word. How could Palpatine have been a Sith Lord? Then, suddenly, she realized something. Her master, and his master were hiding something. Not… not a bad thing, no. And the only reason she knew was because she shared a bond with her master.

She didn’t say anything. If it was important for her master to keep it from the Council, she wasn’t going to go against his judgment- not until she had more facts, anyway.

She stayed silent as Master Obi-Wan detailed the whole thing, as he explained that Anakin had had a vision and he’d recognized where they’d needed to go- that old Sith Temple- and how they’d taken the fast shuttle, so they had only been a little bit behind the Sith Lord. Most of the Council didn’t look pleased, but none of them said anything.

The whole thing was a little off, but Ahsoka knew no one else on the Council had noticed. Finally, Master Anakin and Senator Amidala were released, and Ahsoka with them. Master Obi-Wan stayed behind for a proper Council meeting.

Ahsoka and Anakin escorted the Senator to her apartment, and it was only once they were there that Ahsoka turned to Anakin. “What didn’t you tell the Council, Master?” she asked.

Anakin smiled ruefully. “You know me too well already, little one,” he said. “It’s about Palpatine’s death,” he said.

“I was the one to kill Palpatine, not Anakin or Obi-Wan,” Padmé said. “I shot him when he was distracted, threatening Obi-Wan.

Ahsoka’s eyes went wide. “But… if you kill and Sith Lord and then…”

Anakin nodded. “Padmé is completely untrained in the Force, but she’s just strong enough that she’s a Sith Lady.”

Ahsoka sat down hard. “And…”

“I don’t trust the Council,” Anakin said. “They don’t need to know, because Padmé isn’t interested in taking over the galaxy.” He sat down next to her.

Ahsoka frowned down at the floor. She didn’t quite understand why her master didn’t like the Council, though this was hardly the first time she’d seen the attitude, but…

“Okay,” she said. “I won’t tell anyone.”

Anakin sighed in relief.

“If you tell me how you really knew where to go,” Ahsoka continued.

Anakin blinked at her. Padmé laughed. “Oh, you do know Anakin well,” she said.

She glanced at Anakin and leaned forward slowly to kiss him on the cheek. “Ahsoka, Anakin and I have a bond through the Force. It’s not like the bond he has with Obi-Wan, or even you. But it’s there.”

Ahsoka was silent for a long moment before… “MASTER!” she screeched.

Anakin winced. “Yes, Padawan?”

“How… when… What…” she couldn’t even finish her sentence.

“How? I love Padmé,” Anakin said. “When? We got married shortly after the battle of Geonosis. As for what, I think I just explained that.”

“Married?” Ahsoka asked. It… she tilted her head. “Master Obi-Wan knows, doesn’t he?”

Anakin nodded. “He’s agreed to let me tell the rest of the Council on my own time.”

Well… if Master Obi-Wan was fine with it. “You are going to tell them?”

“We had originally planned to wait until Anakin was knighted before he told anyone and left the order, but the war pushed that back,” Padmé said. “He wanted to honor Master Jinn and his mother by being knighted first.

“The war will be over soon,” Ahsoka whispered. “Without the Sith controlling everything, it’ll stop.”

“Yes, but I won’t leave the order until you, Padawan mine, are Knighted.”

Padmé smiled. “And I agree with that,” she said. “We discussed this a while ago, Ahsoka. You need him, and that’s important.”

“But… I don’t…”

“You’re not a burden, Snips,” Anakin said as he took her hand. “You’re my Padawan, and I’m going to do everything I can to see you become a great Jedi Knight. That’s more important to me than my own desires to leave the Jedi Order.” He hesitated for a moment. “But that’s only if you want me as your Master, still. I won’t force you to stay with me if you don’t want to. Obi-Wan and I talked on the way back, and we’re probably going to be working on a lot of Sith Objects, since it seems it’s safer for us to do so. I don’t want to expose you to them, but we might have no choice.”

“Master, I don’t want to leave you,” Ahsoka said.

Anakin smiled. “Good, I’m glad,” he said.

Padmé finally sighed. “The Council will be notifying the Senate soon. I expect I’ll have a lot of work to do.”

Anakin sighed as well. “I’ll help as much as I can,” he said. “Part of the mess is my fault.”

“It’s not your fault Palpatine was a Sith Lord.”

Anakin didn’t look convinced, but he nodded. “Snips, come on,” he said. “We’ll head back to the temple, and figure out where to go from there.” He eyed her for a moment. “But no matter what, lots of shielding training, especially if we end up having to go to Sith temples and tombs.”

Ahsoka sighed but nodded. At least she’d get to go.

Chapter Text

It was finally time. And none too soon, because Anakin was running out of patience.

In the last few years, Anakin had kept his head down and done his best to not irritate the majority of the Council. He had been on the front lines of the remaining part of the war, and had accepted almost every assignment he’d been given. And he’d trained Ahsoka. Ahsoka, his Padawan he’d never wanted. And then she’d become his little sister. He looked up as he felt Obi-Wan approaching him. “I didn’t know what to tell her,” Anakin said. “I never…”

“Neither did I,” Obi-Wan said. “She’s the first one of our line since… oh, since Qui-Gon’s first Padawan.”

“Others will say she’s too young,” Anakin said.

“She grew up in the war,” Obi-Wan said. “Not to mention all the trials since.”

Anakin nodded and returned to his vigil. Obi-Wan sat next to him. As they waited, Anakin was aware that a few clones had joined them- Cody and Rex, Fives, Kix, and about half a dozen others.

He glanced over at them. Rex smiled. “We figured no one would want all of the 501st and the 212th in the Temple. We’re the representatives. Everyone else listening in through comms.”

Anakin smiled before turning his attention back to the doors he sat in front of.

Luckily for him, he’d been paired with Obi-Wan more often than not, especially while the fighting was still going on. They were too much of a good team to separate them. And they were also often paired when dealing with Sith artifacts.

Unfortunately, they’d had to deal with a lot of Sith artifacts as the Order started investigating Palpatine and his plans. Most of the artifacts saw Obi-Wan and Anakin as fellow Sith, though a good chuck of them tried to get them to actually use the Dark Side. Their study of the Sith artifacts had led them across the galaxy and into- and out of- several traps.

But for the last couple of months, Anakin had insisted on remaining on Coruscant. The Council hadn’t objected, as they seemed to realize just why he wanted to stay at the Jedi Temple.

“She’s fine,” Obi-Wan said.

Anakin nodded carefully. “I know,” he said. He tapped his left forearm. “I have a strong bond with her as well.”

Obi-Wan smiled. “I know,” he echoed.

Anakin fell silent once more. Out in the galaxy, the war had faded without Sidious and Tyranus to push it along. Slowly, the Separatists were beaten back. Those who had committed war crimes, on both sides, were tried. Those who had been unwitting pawns to the Sith were freed. And those who truly fought for peace were rewarded.

The galaxy was slowly recovering under Chancellor Bail Organa’s guidance. Padmé had become one of his advisors. Obi-Wan, too, had started advising him, giving him a Jedi’s perspective. Anakin knew he wasn’t suited to politics or diplomacy and had mostly stayed out of it. The only time he had intervened was when the Jedi Order as a whole had petitioned the Senate to give the Clones full rights. It had taken nearly half of the order threatening to, basically walk away from the Senate’s requests, Obi-Wan and Anakin each giving a speech (somehow, they were still considered the most popular Jedi in the galaxy), and a few Senators and their persuasiveness to pass that law.

Anakin had been able to ignore a lot of the Council’s attitude to him, since he knew Obi-Wan was confronting them behind closed doors about it. It hadn’t done much good, but he knew Obi-Wan was fighting for him. And he knew it wasn’t going to last for too much longer.

Not too much longer at all, no matter what happened.

His last responsibility to the Jedi Order was Ahsoka. And soon enough, she’d be done with her training. It was not a moment too soon- Padmé had just learned she was pregnant two weeks ago.

Anakin had been very careful, though. He was not going to make Ahsoka an unwanted obligation. She was his Padawan, and he loved her like a sister. She was not a burden and he would never begrudge her the time it took to train her.

As he thought that, the doors he was sitting in front of opened and Ahsoka stumbled out. Almost on instinct, Anakin caught her before she fell. “Easy, young one,” he said.

“Master?” Ahsoka rolled her head back to look at him, apparently exhausted.

“I’m here, Padawan,” Anakin said.

He was aware that the men behind him were suddenly concerned.

“You did well,” Anakin said. “Most impressive, Snips.”

She took a deep breath and pulled herself up. “Anakin is right,” Obi-Wan said. “You did very well indeed.”

She looked over their shoulders at the clones waiting with them. “Rex?” she asked. “And… why is everyone here?”

“Well, I’m your master, and I promised I’d wait here,” Anakin said. “Obi-Wan helped me train you, you know. And…”

“We wanted to be here for our Commander,” Rex added.

“And now,” Obi-Wan said. “Is everyone listening?”

“Yes sir,” Cody said as he held up a small comm unit.

Anakin smiled. “Master, if you would,” he said.

“Ahsoka Tano,” Obi-Wan said formally. “We of the Council, and your Master Anakin Skywalker, have observed you in the past two months.” He paused and ignited his saber. “Today, you faced your Trial of Spirit, and you showed the true strength of your Spirit. By the power granted to me through my position as Councilor…” he lowered his saber to touch first one shoulder, than the other. “I now pronounce you Knight of the Jedi Order.” He brought his saber up in a salute before turning it off. “Congratulations, Knight Tano.”

Anakin smiled and placed his hands on her shoulders. “Congratulations, Knight Tano,” he echoed. He heard the men behind him cheering, both in person and through the comm.

She smiled at him and then carefully took off the strand of beads that marked her as a Padawan. She held it out to him. “Master,” she said. “Thank you.”

He took it carefully. “And thank you, Padawan mine,” he said. “You were a wonderful student.” he gave into impulse and hugged her. “And, if you want, we can take a short trip,” he whispered. “Just you, me, Obi-Wan, and Padmé. We could use someone else who can handle Sith artifacts.”

Ahsoka smiled up at him. He knew, without even thinking about it, that she’d agree.

Chapter Text

Fifty Years Later

Jedi Knight Ben Skywalker shivered as he followed his cousin Jacen Solo into the building. “Where are we?” he asked. “It feels so Dark here.”

Jacen smiled as he glanced at his twin, Jaina. “We’re in the Rivan’s Temple,” he said.

Ben’s eyes widened. “We’re where?” he squeaked. “But I thought…”

“Everyone agreed that you’re ready,” Jaina said. “If you want it.”

Ben bit his lip. Did he want it? His other cousin, Anakin, hadn’t, and neither had his mother. No one ever said anything about it, or treated them any differently.

And while it was a (mostly) Skywalker only thing, the family wouldn’t be upset if he didn’t want it.

And yet… his family did so much good. His aunt Leia was one of the foremost experts on Sith Artifacts in the Jedi Order. His uncle Han, though not Force strong in any way, was almost always right by her side. His cousins were starting to follow in their parents footsteps, though Anakin actually seemed to prefer to follow their grandmother into politics.

Ben nodded. “I’ll do it,” he said.

Jaina smiled happily. “Oh good,” she said.

He followed his cousins into the depths of the temple. “So… I know I have to beat someone in a duel,” Ben said. “But… what sort of duel? And how serious does it have to be?”

“We’ll use lightsabers, Ben,” Jacen said. “And we do have to keep the ‘sabers at full strength or it won’t count. But otherwise, think of it like an open spar.”

Ben nodded and followed. As he did, he couldn’t help but think of what had happened since his grandparents and Uncle Obi-Wan had become Sith. The Jedi Order had begun to make changes almost as soon as Anakin Skywalker had left the order, and then he and Padmé Skywalker had refused to allow the Order to take their twin children. It had been slow, but by the time Luke and Leia were four, the Code had been revised- or rather, rewound. Master Fisto had discovered the Old Code, the one used until just after the Revan war.

It had been a revelation, and a lot of the younger Knights had started demanding change. They’d found a staunch ally in Master Kenobi.

And now, Ben was in the second generation of Jedi who had been brought up by their parents, and trained later in life.

The Order hadn’t experienced a Fall in nearly thirty-five years.

And within the Jedi Order, a small number of “Sith” also sat. It wasn’t widely known who were technically Sith- though most every Jedi thought the Skywalkers and Solos were up to their eyeballs in it- but all Jedi knew that the “Sith Order” was charged with containing the relics of the Dark Side. The Sith Order numbered nearly two hundred strong and their leader was still going strong, even in her seventies. Padmé had never been formally trained, but every Sith agreed that she was the best to lead them.

They arrived at a large room. Ben looked around while his cousins played a quick game of three hands to decide who he would face. Jaina won.

“Is this where…?”

“Yes it is,” an unfamiliar voice said. “Where Tyranus and Sidious both died- and with them the Banite Sith. Though I am still waiting for the current Sith to take over the galaxy.” The last part sounded extremely peeved.

Jaina grinned. “Lord Rivan,” she said. “May I introduce our cousin, Ben Skywalker.”

“Young Skywalker,” Rivan said, inclining his head. “You would be young Luke’s son, then. Welcome.”

“Uh… yeah, I am. Thank you,” Ben mumbled.

“And I’m sure we’ll get to taking over the galaxy eventually,” Jacen added. “But we’re a bit more subtle than the last Sith. After all, we’ve got a Sith as head of the Jedi Order right now.”

“Ah, so Lady Tano was appointed to that position. Lord Kenobi mentioned it when he was here last year.”

“She was,” Jaina said, justifiably proud of her Jedi Master.

“And has young Anakin finally seen sense?”

“Ah… no, Anakin still doesn’t want to be a Sith Lord,” Jacen replied. “He says he’s having too much fun in the Senate.”

“Hmph,” Rivan grunted out. “I suppose not everyone is cut out for the Sith Order.” he studied Ben. “This one, though, looks like he’ll do well.”

“Thank you?” Ben didn’t mean to make it a question, but it ended out coming out that way.

Jacen and Jaina both chuckled. “Come on, squirt,” Jaina said.

They both drew their lightsabers as they moved to the center of the room. Ben saluted her with his unlit blade. Jaina returned the gesture.

“Alright,” Jacen said from off to the side. Jaina and Ben lit their sabers. The green light from his blade mingled with the light from her silver blade. “Begin.”