“I won’t leave you… not this time.”
Ahsoka voice was pained, yet unwavering. Her former master’s exposed eye stared down at her, widening for a brief moment before narrowing again as he remembered. Ahsoka tried not to guess what he was remembering, but the memories--her meeting of Anakin on Christophsis, the mission to Zygerria, her leaving of the Order, and her farewell to Anakin on Mandalore among the innumerable infinity of others--flooded into her mind, too. There were so many of them to be processed in a single second that had she not been completely focused on Anakin she would have collapsed under the emotional stress.
“Then you will die,” Anakin said, igniting his lightsaber after a moment.
Ahsoka watched, accepting her former master’s fall, and bracing herself as he stalked over to her.
Suddenly, Ezra rushed out to help. “Ahsoka!”
Ahsoka turned back, thrusting out her hand to force push him back outside of the collapsing temple. While she was distracted, Vader cleaved down with his lightsaber, but Ahsoka was able to block the strike with her white blades, crossing them behind her back in an “X” shape. After a brief moment, Ahsoka pushed back and escaped the blade lock, twisting her body around to block Vader’s second attempt at cutting her down.
She then went on the offensive, swinging her left blade up to slash Vader’s torso. Vader quickly parried, and Ahsoka brought her other blade up to attack him, which Vader once again expertly blocked. He was losing ground, however, with Ahsoka’s quick strikes pushing him ever closer to the center of the collapsing temple. Now with his back to the altar, Vader took advantage of the exhaustion brought about by Ahsoka’s brief frenzy to launch his own offensive, striking down on both of her white lightsabers to halt her forward momentum and force pushing to send back to the outsides of the arena.
Quickly recovering from the push, Ahsoka rushed back towards Vader. Vader readied himself for the predictable rush-jump-strike tactic she had used to open a hole in his helmet earlier. As Ahsoka neared Vader, the energy that had been building within the walls of the obelisk released itself in a massive explosion. The surge of energy was powerful enough to send both Ahsoka and Vader flying back towards the walls of the temple, crushing their bodies into the walls with painful amounts of force.
Ahsoka was certain that the blast and impact had broken a few of her ribs, but she persisted in standing up. She looked around for Vader and saw him beginning to stand about one hundred meters away. Almost unconsciously, she sent him flying backward into the altar, and the crack of his right leg was clearly audible.
Not wanting to exhaust herself any further, she slowly made her way back to the center of the Sith temple, igniting her lightsabers for the continued duel. As she approached, she could hear Vader’s mechanical laughter echo, and in a sudden, strange reverie, the memories of Christophsis came back to her all the more vivid.
You’re reckless, little one. You never would’ve made it as Obi-Wan’s Padawan,
Ahsoka could still feel the disappointment she had felt that day nearly twenty years ago…
But you might make it as mine.
And the jubilation.
It all felt so bittersweet to her now. The way Anakin had said that, with training, she might amount to something, the way he both hated and prided in her eagerness to follow and help him, it all hurt with its crushing nostalgia. Even though Ahsoka was not happy about the war and the suffering it caused, she still couldn’t help but selfishly want it back, with Anakin back to fight alongside her once again.
Wiping the tears away from her eyes, she felt a newfound pity for the Sith that was struggling to stand in front of her, but once he stood, Ahsoka’s rage returned and she re-engaged the duel.
She lunged at Vader, swinging her lightsabers over her head in long, drawn-out arcs. They collided with Vader’s blade, but, despite his weakening, he was able to hold her off with one arm. Pressing forward, Ahsoka heard their weapons sizzle and crack with the intensity of the opposing forces: the infinite heaviness of all that was lost to the dark side and the weightless glow of all that was redeemed from the bottom of that abyss.
“You are angry, little one.” Vader rasped, “You should embrace it as I have, and you can defeat me.”
“Never!” Ahsoka spit with a ferocious venom.
She leaped backward, distancing herself from Vader.
“You’re still in there, Anakin! Break free!” she begged.
After no response, she tried to communicate again.
“Do it for Padmé” her voice cracked when she said that name, and it trailed off as she finished her plea so much that it was almost silent. “Do it for me.”
Vader suddenly tensed, releasing waves of anger into the force, and Ahsoka could feel his strength growing exponentially.
“She’s dead now! She’s dead because of Obi-Wan, because of the Council, because of the Jedi! She’s dead because of you!”
The accusation finally sent her falling over the cliff in a cascading waterfall of tears. Those words that echoed throughout the temple were not the mechanical, sadistic voice of Vader, but the youthful, vibrant words of Anakin Skywalker. While they cemented in Ahsoka’s mind that Vader had corrupted Anakin’s body, they also cemented her hope that, because he was still in there, he could be redeemed.
Nevertheless, the emotion caused Ahsoka to collapse to her knees. Vader, however, was not as easily defeated by emotion. Suppressing the upwelling of his youth, he refocused and jumped over to strike Ahsoka down at her weakest moment.
As he slashed down with a crimson fury, Vader’s lightsaber was met by the half-hearted defense efforts of Ahsoka’s shoto saber. He sensed that Ahsoka, while not physically tired, was emotionally defeated. Manipulating this, he began to play into her fears, and as he danced around her, he was careful to pull only the strings necessary to break her, for any misstep would cause a rush of fury to well up from within her.
Ahsoka realized Vader’s manipulation soon and took it upon herself to meditate to escape it. She felt the oppressive walls of the temple fade, and the dreadful energy began to dissipate. As she slowly disconnected from reality, her blades continued to deflect Vader’s repeated attempts to capitalize on her weakness. Finally, the world disappeared, and a rush of the Living Force sent her consciousness spiraling into a vision.
Ahsoka opened her eyes and was greeted by an onslaught of pure Light.
Hello. The ethereal voice was omnipresent. It is nice to see that my Sister has returned to me.
Ahsoka turned and was face-to-face with a being of pure darkness. It was like an abyss, consuming all light and allowing no features to be visible. She attempted to speak but found she could not speak the words she wanted.
Instead, another voice of an equally ethereal tone boomed out from within her.
I am pleased to be back, Brother.
Astonished, Ahsoka looked down and saw her figure detach from her frame of vision. As it walked away, it began to glow the color of the realm, and the realm changed to a perfect Gray to balance the visibility of the figures.
I have brought Her to us. The figure said.
Then guide Her through the Gateway. The dark figure commanded.
The realm around Ahsoka blurred, then turned black.
Within a second, Ahsoka was shocked back into reality.
She realized that she was not in the position she had been before the visions, but was instead caught in a blade lock with Vader.
Losing focus, Ahsoka was thrust backward by Vader’s strength. She rushed back to attack him, but he pushed her back again with the force. Ahsoka tried once again, but as was the case with her previous attacks, she was sent backward.
Vader, meanwhile, was gaining ground. He slowly neared the walls of the Sith temple, and they opened up to reveal the ruined temple complex when he was about ten meters away. He continued to press forward until Ahsoka was standing on the edge of the pyramid’s face. Vader slashed at Ahsoka, and in a final push for survival, she attempted to block. Her attempt was pathetic, however, and Vader was able to destroy her shoto saber and disarm her of her main saber with one fluid motion before pushing his crimson sword into her abdomen.
“I’m sorry, Anakin--”
She winced as Vader twisted his blade deeper into her, and tears began to water her eyes.
“--I’ve failed you, again.”
With those final words, Vader removed his lightsaber from her stomach, leaving Ahsoka’s body to plummet down the side of the temple to the ground far, far below.