They had caught her completely off guard, and with no way of defending herself. Ahsoka had been alone at her home, mulling through a book she had bought herself, simply relaxing. Kaeden had been out, spending the day with her sister for once, no doubt exchanging all sorts of crazy gossip about their friends and loved ones.
Morai too was not around. The convor had taken to the skies in the morning, no doubt in search of food, and had yet to return. Not that Ahsoka was concerned about her bird friend. Morai had a tendency to disappear for a few hours sometimes. There were even instances of her vanishing for a few weeks.
So that had left her completely alone when the first intruder had busted through her doorway, a lightwhip in their hands ignited. Ahsoka had barely been able to summon her lightsaber to her side in time to deflect the attack obviously intended for her.
Her first instinct was that it was an assassin sent by someone. Possibly someone loyal to the Emperor, or maybe even a goon of some renegade rebel who didn't like her.
It wouldn't surprise her if that was the case, even if Draven had mysteriously disappeared a while back.
Ahsoka was still not convinced that Maul didn't have something to do with it, but she didn't ask questions.
In truth, she didn't really want to know what the Zabrak got up to.
The lightwhip of the intruder had clashed against the white blade of her lightsaber, locking onto it with a fierce grip and attempting to wrench it from her hand. Ahsoka had held steady as she too pulled with all her strength, attempting to unbalance the intruder. The figure was dressed in a dark black cloak, one that concealed their identity, but screamed darksider to her.
The tug of war lasted for a few moments before the intruder unravelled the whip from her lightsaber, before swinging it around it sharp flicks in an attempt to overwhelm her.
Ducking beneath a stray swing, Ahsoka pivoted on her heels, bringing her blade around her body in defensive motions, deflecting the whip and stopping it from making contact with her body.
It was then that a second intruder entered the room from behind her, smashing their way through a window, also armed with a lightwhip of their own.
Delving into the force, Ahsoka unleashed a sharp push on the intruder in front of her, knocking them back, and allowing her to shift her focus to the new intruder, who came at her in a similar fashion to the first hostile.
Rotating her lightsaber in her hand, Ahsoka deflected another volley of lightwhip attacks, before being forced to turn around and deflect an attack from the intruder she had knocked to the floor.
Said figure was back up on their feet now, and more worryingly was flanked by another two figures, also armed with whips of their own.
Try as she may, Ahsoka could not deflect all of the whips at once, and before long one made it past the threshold of her saber defence, wrapping around her midsection and delivering a sharp jolt of electricity all through her body.
Ahsoka cried out in pain before slumping down onto the floor, saber rolling away from her hands, and electricity rolling through her body still, causing her to squirm in pain. It was not nearly as bad as Sidious' force lightning, which had left her scarred for life, but it was still enough to render her immobilized.
In the back of her mind, she felt something twitch in anger. What she was unsure, but right now she had bigger issues to contend with.
As the electrocution began to take its toll on her body, she began to feel herself falling into a state of unconsciousness. Before she blacked out however, she caught a glimpse of a single figure standing before her, looking down with what appeared to be disdain for her. Unlike the others he was not armed, and was quite obviously their leader.
As her head slumped to the ground, she heard the man speak.
"We have her. Place the restraints on her and load her into my ship. We must hasten to the fortress immediately."
And with that, Ahsoka blacked out.
Ahsoka was unsure how much time had passed when she awoke. Her body ached from the damage done by the lightwhip, and her head span, her vision distorted, a side effect from her loss of consciousness.
But she was alive. That itself was a success.
Except that once again, she found herself in some sort of situation.
'Kaeden's gonna kill me!' Ahsoka thought humorously to herself as she surveyed the area around her. It was dark, and she was clearly inside some sort of secret stronghold belonging to someone. She could still feel the force, which was a surprise. Had those who had captured her not realized that she could willingly escape if she wanted to?
It was then that she felt something else. Sure, she could feel the force, but she almost wished she couldn't. Rather than the comforting light she was used to, the force around her was different. It was dark and foreboding, with a sense of both horror and hatred beyond anything she could imagine. It ate away at her, threatening to awaken her inner desires, as if it was trying to control her.
And it felt familiar, like she had encountered it before.
Glancing around the room she was in in alarm, Ahsoka spotted something. Before her was a large window, one that overlooked a barren landscape. Barren that was, all except for the river of lava flowing in all directions.
"Mustafar?" Ahsoka questioned to herself quietly, staring out in horror at the planet that had become a symbol of fear for so many. Why had she been taken her?
She wasn't expecting a reply to her question, so when she received one she was genuinely both surprised and horrified.
"Correct Ms Tano, you are on Mustafar."
Ahsoka span in alarm from where she was sitting on the cold floor, away from the window overlooking the lava of Mustafar and towards a figure that was standing before her. He was the same one as before. The one who had spoken at her home after she had been captured.
Behind him, lurking in the shadows she spotted several other figures, each dressed in flowing black cloaks. The intruders who had attacked her earlier.
Ahsoka's eyes darted around the room, as if looking for a way out. There was always a way out after all, even in the most dire of circumstances. Anakin had taught her that.
When she found no immediate escape route, she shifted her eyes back to the figure before her, who was now taking a seat in a chair that rested before her.
"So, you broke into my home and took me hostage. Do I have the pleasure of knowing exactly who you all are?" Ahsoka snipped to the assembled individuals, all of which she identified as humans. Something was clearly up with that.
The figure in the chair, who Ahsoka assumed was the leader, had a face that screamed distrustful. Nothing about the man made her want to ever socialise with him, let alone talk to him. Normally, Ahsoka was willing to talk to anyone, regardless of gender, species or even looks.
But something about that man unnerved her.
And then he replied.
"I am Yupe Tashu, and we are the Acolytes of the Beyond."
Dread consumed Ahsoka. Kallus had told her about these people. Some sort of darkside worshipping cult, ones that worshipped both Sidious and Vader.
No doubt they were out for revenge.
Still, she couldn't let anything on. After all, her supposed ignorance to who they were was her only weapon at this point.
"Never heard of you."
Her response was harsh, and was not taken well by the black cloaked figures around her. A pair of them made to move forward, the handles of lightwhips in their hands ready.
That was until this man who named himself Yupe held out his hand, ordering them back.
"Oh I don't doubt that Ms Tano, after all, we work from the shadows, much like you have done. To put it simply, we are an organisation that looks to study and benefit from the darker aspects of the force, despite not being sensitive to it ourselves."
His explanation gave credit to Kallus' guess about who theses Acolytes were. Clearly they had some connection to the darkside, considering where they were currently.
"And you've captured me why? I'm not really in the business of teaching a cult how to use the force, much less the darkside of it." Ahsoka replied, a smirk coming to her face. If she could just keep up the charade of confidence, she might find a way out.
After all, she still had access to the force.
"Oh we do not need you to teach us Ms Tano, but you are important to us. Through you we will restore what you destroyed, and our masters will return."
Yupe's eyes seemed to expand in fanaticism as he spoke of his 'masters'. Ahsoka could only assume he meant Sidious and Vader.
"Tell me, do you know where on Mustafar you are? Do you know who this place belonged to?" Yupe continued, gesturing around the large room they were in.
Ahsoka assumed it was some sort of fortress of some kind, most likely built by the empire in order to…
'Oh no!' Was all Ahsoka could think. Now she knew why the darkness around her felt familiar. She had sensed it before, on Malachor.
And it appeared that even in death, the presence that was Darth Vader still emanated from his own fortress.
The look of horror in her eyes did not go unmissed by Yupe Tashu, who adopted a sinister looking smirk on his face, one that was not too dissimilar to Sidious'.
"Welcome to the abode of Lord Vader, one of the two true Lords of the Sith, and of the god that you killed!"
It was odd to hear Vader being called a god. To many he was more of a demon, an individual that only ever spelled doom for people when he appeared.
But then these Acolytes clearly worshipped both Vader and Sidious. It was no surprise that they would view them as gods.
And she was the one who had slain their gods.
"So what? I take it you are out for revenge then. Going to kill me or something?" Ahsoka inquired, trying to remain confident in the face of certain death.
Yupe laughed, something that unnerved Ahsoka even more. This man was clearly dangerous. That he found some sort of humour in her situation clearly meant that he was hiding something.
"That was the original plan, but then I had an idea. You see the Acolytes are currently divided with what to do with you. Some see you as a god slayer, such as myself. Others see you as the heir to the power of both Sidious and Vader, and wish to worship you. That I cannot allow. But I am a pragmatic man Ms Tano. If you can somehow convince me to 'worship' you, then I will let you live."
Now Ahsoka was especially creeped out. People being out to kill her was normal, and she expected it in her day to day life, thus she held no real feelings about it.
But the fact that there were some members of this darkside cult that wanted to worship her as a god… that just felt wrong.
"Hate to tell you this but I'm not god, and I'm most certainly not the heir to the throne of the Sith or whatever." Ahsoka replied, disgust in her tone. Glancing around the room, she looked for a way out.
Still none presented itself, thus she would be forced to deal with these Acolytes a bit longer.
"That is not what Lord Vader seemed to think."
Yupe's response drew her attention immediately. In his hands he held a datapad, one that clearly had something on it that was of interest to him. And if his prior words were anything to go by, Ahsoka was certain she would not like what was on it.
"You see, Lord Vader kept a journal of sorts. One full of reports he made to imperial officials, as well as what appeared to be his personal thoughts on certain matters. Mostly they make sense. That is up until the events that occurred during the Siege of Lothal. Shortly after his return to his fortress, his entries begin to become, somewhat obsessed. His focus appears to be solely on an individual he only ever refers to as 'The Apprentice'."
Ahsoka was right. She did not like the contents of the datapad one bit. She had known at the time that Vader had wanted to capture her, most likely to either kill or corrupt her. He had said as much on Malachor.
But the thought that in the last few months of his life, Vader had become obsessed with finding her gave her no comfort. The thought that the kind loving person that had been Anakin Skywalker had become something equivalent to a stalker made her shudder.
Yupe ran his hands across the datapad, as if flicking through various different entries, before settling on one to read.
"The Apprentice was spotted today on Takobo. Reports from the Seventh Sister and Fifht Brother suggest that she is still a prominent user of both Jar'Kai and a reverse Shien grip. She still possess much potential in the force, potential that only I can unlock."
Yupe them began to scroll again, moving to what Ahsoka assumed was another entry.
"The Apprentice has not reappeared since Takobo, but her influence in the growing rebellion is obvious. The use of her forehead markings to represent the 'Fulcrum' network suggests that she is the rebel spymaster. Colonel Yularen seemed surprised by this revelation. Clearly he does not think as highly of the apprentice as I do. That is his mistake. If she has managed to outmanoeuvre even him, then it is quite possible that she should assume command of ISB when she returns to my side."
Ahsoka could only feel despair as Yupe read out what was obviously Vader's private thoughts. They were private for a reason, and only now was it clear to her just how fixated he had become on her since finding out she was alive.
Yupe didn't stop there, flicking through to find another entry.
"I am now almost certain that the Apprentice was single-handled responsible for the death of the Sixth Brother on Raada only a year after the formation of the empire. Whilst reports are unclear about what transpired there, evidence suggests that the Jedi in question was armed with white lightsabers not too dissimilar to the ones the Apprentice reportedly uses to this day. Such weapons are unique, but unbefitting of my new apprentice. I will see to it that she has more acceptable weapons when she comes to me."
Ahsoka sighed. She had worked hard to cover her tracks after Raada. If anyone knew who she truly was, she would have been hunted and her alias as Fulcrum would have been exposed.
And in truth she had succeeded. For over fifteen years no one had discovered her true identity, not until Vader.
So the fact that he had purposefully attempted to track everything that she had done, even back then, only furthered her despair. Vader had really wanted her to join him.
An image of Vader flashed in her mind, on his knees, a gash on his helmet exposing his eye, handless and at her mercy, begging her to help him.
And she had killed him, rather than show mercy.
Yupe flicked the datapad again several times, clearly advancing towards what Ahsoka assumed was the end of the journal.
The man shook his head before turning to datapad around in his hand for Ahsoka to see. With little else to do, she read the entry, one that was far shorter than the previous ones.
"She is on Malachor."
And that was it. That was the last entry. There appeared to be no more, and if the date was right, it had been written only hours before their confrontation on Malachor.
Their final confrontation.
Lowering her head in shame, Ahsoka barely witnessed the smug satisfied look on Yupe's face as he powered off the datapad, passing it to a cloaked guard behind him.
"It took me a while to deduce that the apprentice was you. For some reason Lord Vader was determined to get you to join him. Many in our cause have taken that as reason to worship you. They see you as his successor. But I am not so easily swayed. So tell me Ms Tano, why was Darth Vader so obsessed with you?" Yupe snarled, leaning forward in his chair, an aura of disgust about him.
Ahsoka had no answer, not even an obvious one. Part of her wondered if it was some small part of Anakin within Vader that wanted to protect her, another wondered if it was some sort of dark sense of accomplishment if he managed to turn her.
In the end, it didn't matter. He was dead, she was not.
When Ahsoka gave no response, Yupe sighed aloud, before bending down to pick something up off of the floor.
When the Togruta looked up, her eyes widened in surprise at what was in his hands. A long cylindrical hilt of a lightsaber. Her lightsaber, from her time as a Jedi.
She had left it on Mandalore, in a grave marked with Rex'x name. What was it doing here? Had Vader recovered it?
And what exactly was Yupe planning on doing with it?
The human gently moved the hilt around in his hand, giving it a few experimental twists and turns in the process. He had yet to ignite the blade though. It was clear that he was savouring the moment somewhat.
"And amongst all of his possessions, of which were few, the one he seemed most proud of was this. At first it confused me. Why would Vader keep a lightsaber of a Jedi on a plinth in his quarters? Was it perhaps a trophy? Or maybe a shrine?" Yupe spoke, his voice full of what seemed like both awe and wonderment.
And then his eyes shifted away from the hilt in his hand, locking onto Ahsoka's eyes.
"But now, now I understand why he had it so close to him, especially knowing who it belonged to, and who he planned on returning it too."
Which a flick of his wrist, Yupe fingered the ignition button on the lightsaber, the blade flaring to life.
However, the sight of the blade only sent deep feelings of horror down her spine. Seeing the blade as it was made her feel sick.
No longer was it the bright emerald that it had been during her day, but instead, the blade was a deep red, the light from the weapon cascading over both Yupe and Ahsoka, bathing them in crimson light.
Ahsoka knew instantly what had happened. Vader had taken her lightsaber and defiled it. Twisted and corrupted the crystal within it, destroying everything in it that had belonged to Ahsoka Tano, and turning it entirely over to his darkness.
And from both the journal entries of Vader, and Yupe's own words, the reason behind it was obvious.
Vader had intended to return the saber to Ahsoka, as a symbol of not only his power, but of the destruction of his past.
He had taken his own steps to destroy parts of Ahsoka Tano, just as he had Anakin Skywalker. All in the name of her returning to his side.
Ahsoka had to stop herself from retching at the sight. Never in a million years did she ever anticipate something like this!
Yupe chose that moment to continue onwards. "Lord Vader put so much faith in you. He was certain of your loyalty to him. But in the end you betrayed him, like everyone else he once claimed he held dear. For that, you are no heir to our master's power, but his enemy. And for that, you must die!"
Ahsoka did not flinch at the dark tone of voice used by Yupe. She was used to death threats on a daily basis. Growing up a child soldier had removed all fear of death for her.
Still, that didn't mean she had any intention of dying today, much less by the lightsaber that Yupe Tashu currently held.
It was then that she felt something. A pinprick at the back of her mind. Something was coming. A being of the force. It was dark, not unlike the fortress's aura around her, but different, as if it was in control, rather than spiralling around in chaos.
And it was recognizable.
Ahsoka had to resist the urge to smirk, less she give the game away.
That being said, she did decide to have some fun considering who was coming for her.
"Quick question Mr Tashu? If Vader is your god, and I am viewed as some sort of heir to his power by your followers, wouldn't killing me bring about the wrath of your own god upon you for your heresy?"
The silence that followed was golden to Ahsoka, even as she kept a dumb look upon in her face as a form of mockery. Behind Yupe, the various black cloaked figures began to look to each other, as if contemplating Ahsoka's words.
Yupe meanwhile simply stared down at Ahsoka, distaste in his eyes for her, clearly not threatened at all.
"Lord Vader is dead Ms Tano, and we are the instruments of his will." He replied, taking one step forward and raising the crimson blade above his head.
"I thought gods were immortal? Do you really want to risk it? After all, you know what a Sith Lord is capable of, don't you?" Ahsoka continued, smiling sweetly up at the man who was soon to be her executioner.
The black cloaked figures continued to look around, some clearly worried, others not.
But Yupe's face remained unchanged.
"We are the faithful Ms Tano. Lord Vader would never harm us, in life or death."
"We shall see Mr Tashu. We shall see." Ahsoka replied, the pinprick in her head now much stronger, indicating it was closer.
No one moved for a moment, the only sound in the room being the ominous hum of the lightsaber in Yupe's hand.
Ahsoka could see he was preparing to swing.
If only he knew.
And then another sound flooded into the room, as well as a terrifying sight over by a doorway that clearly led into the room.
A crimson lightsaber burst through the metal door, beginning to slowly cut a circular hole in it, a hole large enough for someone to come through.
The Acolytes burst into various actions, some dropping to their knees in horror, others readying their lightwhips for a fight.
Amongst the commotion, Ahsoka couldn't help but visibly smirk at the cries of voices around her.
"It is Lord Vader! He had come for us!"
"We have blasphemed! Have mercy Lord Vader!"
"She IS the heir to his power! All hail Lady Tano!"
"What Jedi nonsense is this!?"
The last voice was Yupe's, who had now turned away from Ahsoka and was approaching the door, lightsaber at the ready. From the way he held it it was clear he had no training with such a weapon.
Not that it would matter for long if he did.
"It would appear that your god is most displeased with you." Ahsoka couldn't help but call out in mockery as the Acolytes entered various stages of panic. She might not agree fully with what was about to happen, but she wouldn't stop it.
After all, they had been about to kill her.
Yupe seemingly snarled at her for a moment, before his attention was drawn back to the crimson blade that was protruding through the door into the room. Said blade had now completed a complete circle, melting away the metal and causing it to slowly fall forward, exposing the room beyond it.
Nothing came through it at first, the room around Ahsoka eerily quiet. She knew what was on the other side. She could feel it.
Movement then occurred. A small entity came barrelling through the cut open doorway, flying high into the air above the occupants of the room, hooting all the while, causing the attention of the Acolytes to shift to the strange bird like animal that had appeared from nowhere unexplained.
It was clear to Ahsoka that it was merely a distraction from the main threat, one that entered the room seconds later.
A terrifying roar of rage pierced the air, coupled with the sound of air being distorted by a fast spinning lightsaber blade.
Ahsoka watched as a rotating red blade came spinning through the doorway, controlled by a familiar Zabrak, who pivoted on his heels as he entered and cleaved a pair of the Acolytes in two.
By the time the Acolytes had realised what was going on, only three of them remained, the rest having been cut down by Maul's wrath. Ahsoka had to admit that it was good to see the Zabrak, even if he was slaughtering a group of people.
Not that she blamed him mind you. They were worshipping not only Vader, but Sidious too. Maul would always have his internal hatred of anyone loyal to his former master.
Ahsoka watched as one of the remaining Acolytes attempted to attack with his lightwhip, wrapping it round one end of Maul's crimson double bladed lightsaber. The Zabrak snarled in response pulling with all his might and forcing the Acolyte to lose his balance. The loss of balance proved to be lethal, as the cloaked figure fell forward onto one end of Maul's saber, impaling himself and killing him instantly.
The second remaining Acolyte then attempted to attack, only to suddenly be held aloft by Maul through the force. Ahsoka could hear the poor man chocking as Maul squeezed his throat, only to sudden be released to the floor dead.
That just left Yupe Tashu, who stood still with horror on his face at the massacre of his followers. The lightsaber in his hand fell from his grip, his entire body giving out underneath him as he slumped to his knees, as if preying.
Not that it mattered to Maul. The Zabrak clearly had no time for worshippers, let alone ones that had captured his friend. Instead, the Zabrak simply moved past Yupe, swinging his blade lightly in the process and decapitating the man, before heading over to Ahsoka to release her wrist restraints.
Rubbing her wrists gently to sooth the cramp that had formed, Ahsoka accepted Maul's gesture of help to stand before she spoke.
"How did you know where I was?" She inquired to the Zabrak, who still seemed to be calming down from what Ahsoka could only call a blood rage.
"Your avian friend told me. I don't think she likes me very much Lady Tano." Maul replied, gesturing to the creature that was now flying towards Ahsoka, before perching itself on the top of her montrals.
"Don't take it the wrong way Maul. Morai is a bit picky with her friends." Ahsoka replied, lifting one hand to the convor to lightly stroke her beak. The convor hooted again in appreciation, clearly happy for the safety of her friend.
"Tell me about it. The bird compared me to her brother to begin with, whoever the kriff that is. Still, are you unharmed my friend." Maul replied, his golden eyes showing a small if not brief look of concern.
Stretching her arms above her head, Ahsoka nodded. If worst had come to pass, she was almost certain she would have found a way out of such a dire situation. She hoped at least.
However, either out of the 'kindness' of his heart, or because he wanted something, Maul had rescued her.
The Acolytes had openly attacked her today, and whilst their leader may now very well be dead thanks to Maul, Ahsoka was no fool. There would be others, each as dedicated to continuing Darth Sidious' legacy.
And if she was one of their targets, that was fine with her. She would be ready for a fight.
And if they dared come after anyone she cared about, then they would need all the power of their so-called 'gods' to save them.
Looking out of the window again, Ahsoka's eyes were drawn to the flowing rivers of lava. Dangerous, yet surprisingly calm. In control.
That was she hoped she was these days. In control.
Closing her eyes briefly, Ahsoka centred herself in the force, before she began to head for the door, Maul following beside her, and Morai above her.
Before she left however, something caught her eyes. A single silver cylindrical hilt of a lightsaber.
Her lightsaber. The one Vader had corrupted.
Part of her wanted to take it and keep it. To ensure that no one would ever use it again.
But another part of her wanted to leave it. It was no longer hers. And even if it was, someone else had corrupted it. All in the name of returning it to her.
Not for the first time, Ahsoka found herself disgusted at the actions of the man who used to be her master.
Instead, she took a deep breath and bent down, scooping the hilt into her hand and bringing it close to her chest, as if it was some sort of prized possession.
She knew what she wanted to do with it.
Minutes later, she found herself standing outside of Vader's fortress on Mustafar, overlooking a lake of lava, the hilt of her old lightsaber in her hand.
It was her past. Of a time when she had been a Jedi, not whatever she was now.
Both Obi-Wan and Anakin had always told her that 'her lightsaber was her life'.
But she had a new life now. One full of rest and general happiness. Her old life was gone. Dead thanks to the actions of the empire.
And thus, she no longer needed to keep any real aspect of it alive, much less her old saber.
Gripping the hilt tightly in her hands, she reared her arm back, and threw the hilt down towards the pool of lava, where it was instantly consumed by the raging fires of Mustafar.
Her old lightsaber was a symbol of the past, one that Vader had tried to control.
Now she had new sabers, and if a lightsaber was truly her life, then she wanted the one that came with them.