Anakin sometimes wondered how his best intentions always ended up crashing and burning so kriffing spectacularly. This time it was totally not just his fault though – he and Padme wouldn’t be stuck chained to pillars in a giant arena if Padme hadn’t insisted on coming to help Master Obi-Wan.
Not that Obi-Wan had thanked them, of course not. Nothing Anakin ever did or tried to do was good enough for his Master. Anakin’s stomach tied itself in a tight knot as three beasts were released into the arena to the cheers of thousands of beings. He’d been in worse situations, but never with Padme in danger beside him.
“Master?” he asked, trying to cover his alarm as the beasts slunk closer.
But there was only silence.
There was something very wrong with his Master’s presence in the Force, now that he was paying attention. Almost against his will, Anakin turned to look. Obi-Wan was bent forward, head tucked against his chest in a tight arch that twisted his bound arms almost grotesquely.
Something dark and predatory brushed Anakin through his Force sense, an inferno so intense it burned with the pitiless cold of space.
He was going to fucking kill that fucking Gungan. That was Venge’s first semi-coherent, bloodthirsty thought as he wrestled the panicking mind suddenly abutting his into a nice quiet cocoon, adapting his shields on the fly to contain the other presence.
Anakin was on his right, and bloodlust floated on the air like perfume.
Venge’s eyes snapped open to harsh sunlight and a large, sandy arena. Above him was a strong presence, Dark and somewhat familiar.
It was a sad testament to the fucked-up-ness that was Venge’s life, that he took a near-ten-year time shift (forward. Into a past that would hopefully never happen again) and his sudden relocation from Korriban to Geonosis in stride.
Ignoring his padawan’s alarmed presence, Venge felt all three of their chains with the Force and sheared through the links right above the cuffs. That should give Anakin and Senator Amidala enough of an advantage to work with.
Venge wrapped the Force around him and propelled himself forward, blurring by the giant insectoid beast that snapped at him in passing.
Blood roaring in his ears, Venge bounded and rebounded up the arena wall, twisting past the brown-cloaked Jedi as he came down in the midst of the audience, the natives rising on startled wings around him.
He was gone before the Jedi even realized that her lightsaber had been appropriated from her belt.
A final leap brought Venge face to face with Dooku, his borrowed green ‘saber hammering down on Dooku’s red one.
He’d only ever faced Tyranus as a Jedi. But for once it was the Obi-Wan part of him that supplied the spark of hate, nurtured by years of a war that had paved the way for the ultimate defeat of the Jedi. Venge willingly fed that hate to the Dark Side, feeling it surge around him as it sped his movements, sharpened his senses, and amplified his power. The Dark Side might be a one-trick pony, but this was the exact trick it knew by heart.
Lightsabers whirling, the two Sith moved down the corridor into the bulk of the mountain the arena was carved from. Shadows danced and flickered green and red became the only light, both combatants silent in the face of intent battle. The surprise of finding a Sith where a Jedi had been moments before had put Dooku off balance, but Venge was still facing a master duelist alone, and so pressed his initial advantage ruthlessly, relentlessly, almost recklessly.
The tumult from the arena faded away, replaced only by the deadly hum of their lightsabers as Venge pressed Tyranus’ defenses, digging for a crack, a flaw, any kind of weakness he could-
Tyranus’ lightsaber bounced against the wall, deactivated.
The humming green blade of Venge’s borrowed lightsaber hovered scant centimeters away from Tyranus’ throat, freezing the Sith in place against the wall behind him.
“Obi-Wan… Kenobi…” Tyranus managed, breathing hard from the fight. “I never thought… you’d be one to fall. Ever the perfect… Jedi.”
“Hah!” Venge barked a harsh laugh. “Any Jedi can fall, Dooku. But you… you didn’t fall, you fucking jumped, didn’t you.” The lightsaber nuzzled closer, lighting Tyranus’ throat with bright green.
“You know the Jedi will not let you live, not now,” Tyranus said coolly. “Come with me, and you may yet have a future.”
“Is that how you justified abandoning the Jedi? That you were saving your own fucking skin?” Obi-Wan’s anger spiked and spilled into Venge, finding fertile ground. “Coward.”
“The Jedi Order is weak, misguided. They will not see the stagnation within or the danger without. But you can still save yourself-“
Venge felt his face twist with rage, a low snarl escaping from between clenched teeth. Tyranus fell silent.
“You,” Venge said with icy control, “are going to surrender to the Jedi. You will tell them everything you know about Sidious – his methods, his plans, his identity, everything.”
“And if I refuse?” Tyranus asked, contempt plain in expression and voice.
Venge nudged the lightsaber until it lay almost flat against the front of Tyranus’ throat, allowing Venge to move in closer, until he was only inches from the cowardly ex-Jedi. “Then I will take you apart, Lord Tyranus, until you beg to be given to the Jedi. And I will enjoy every. Fucking. Minute of it.” Venge confessed, voice low and hungry and full of promise. The first hints of apprehension and uncertainty flickered though Tyranus’ Force presence, though his expression remained a stoic mask.
“Master.. Master, no.”
Venge could hear the hum of the lightsaber Anakin had managed to acquire somewhere, but there was no sense that his padawan intended to use it, either in his voice or through his Force presence. “Padawan,” Venge acknowledged, not taking his eyes from Tyranus.
The feeling of wrongness Anakin had sensed in the arena hadn’t faded – if anything it had grown stronger. He was trying to put up a good front, but he had no kriffing idea what had happened to Obi-Wan to cause, well… it couldn’t be what it looked like. It couldn’t. “Master, this is not the way of the Jedi,” Anakin tried again, voice surer now.
Obi-Wan turned his head just enough to spear Anakin with flat yellow eyes. One eyebrow rose in mocking disbelief. “Oh?”
It was like every mean, horrible thing Anakin had ever done was laid bare before his Master’s piercing gaze. He suddenly felt very small and very vulnerable, and in that moment he realized that Obi-Wan knew exactly what Anakin had done on Tatooine. Knew exactly how unworthy Anakin was to speak of the Jedi way.
The hum of an igniting lightsaber broke the moment. “Obi-Wan, step away from Dooku,” Mace said, not quite in an attack stance.
“But don’t you want all your Sith in one place?” Obi-Wan asked smoothly, gaze fixed on Count Dooku again.
No, it couldn’t be. A Sith? Not Obi-Wan. Yet his Master’s own words damned him as one of the very beings he’d sworn to eradicate. But if Obi-Wan was a Sith, why had he helped Anakin and Padme in the arena? Why was he so insistent that Dooku confess to the Jedi? None of this made sense.
“And if I took care of Dooku for you, would that really be so bad?” The worst part was that Obi-Wan sounded so reasonable.
“I won’t ask again,” Master Windu said firmly, falling into a vaapad stance. “Step away from Dooku.”
The dark, predatory air still hung in the air, heavy and barely restrained. It was wrong, all wrong. Anakin could feel panic starting to claw at him. He needed time to think, to sort things out.
Time he didn’t have. He made his decision.
“Master Windu, wait. Master Obi-Wan isn’t your enemy.” His padawan interposing himself between Venge and several Jedi was at once unsurprising and startling.
Tyranus wasn’t his to kill. This wasn’t his world or his time, though it had been once. This wasn’t a game, and Anakin would suffer the consequences of his actions. As would the Obi-Wan he’d suppressed so ruthlessly.
He might be free of Fire’s influence for now, since this Obi-Wan didn’t have the toxin in his system, but that didn’t mean he could ignore his own temper. At least Fire had given him plenty of practice at taming his excess.
“Padawan Skywalker, stand aside,” Mace said stiffly, clearly not wanting to involve a padawan in a fight against a Sith.
This had escalated far enough. “Here, Mace, have a sign of my good will.” Stepping back from Tyranus, Venge gripped the front of the man’s tunic, bringing the Sith around and shoving him in the direction of the Jedi.
Venge waited a moment as the Jedi got Tyranus sorted, then put his hand on Anakin’s shoulder. “Sabre off, please.”
Venge extinguished his own borrowed lightsaber. “I am surrendering myself to the Jedi Order -“
A Jedi’s death resounded in the Force, rippling outward from the arena.
Oh. Oh he’d forgotten. “The droids!” Venge spun and ran back down the way he’d come, bursting out onto the small balcony that overlooked the sprawling arena where Jedi were fighting and dying.
Droids were pouring into the arena, blasters being mostly deflected by the Jedi scattered over the sandy floor. But ‘mostly’ wasn’t always good enough.
All those years ago, Obi-Wan had mourned the harsh lesson the Jedi had learned on Geonosis, before war hardened the Order into soldiers, strategists, Generals. On that day, Jedi had flung themselves into battle as warriors, without anything more detailed than the idea of saving two of their own and a senator, and lost all but twenty of the more than two hundred Jedi.
Here and now, another Jedi passed into the Force, and Venge reached for the Dark Side. He no longer had the sheer power Obi-Wan had gained upon returning from his death, and though Fire made a devil’s bargain for the power it granted, he missed that, too, as he pushed his Force sense out through the entire arena, dropping quickly into a semi-meditative state to get a clearer view of the battle.
Pouring his rage into the Dark Side, Venge felt it respond, let it flow through him in a wave of caustic power that gripped and tore at the droids below. He didn’t need to hear the squeal of metal or panicked artificial voices to know he was succeeding, ripping the droids apart from the inside out in a ripple of expanding Darkness that he pushed ever outward, until he reached the edges of the arena.
With the sudden reprieve, the Jedi lost no time hightailing it out of the arena as more droids started flooding in.
It would have to be enough. Reserves exhausted, knowing he had overextended himself, Venge snapped back to consciousness and found himself leaning heavily on Anakin.
He blinked at his padawan. Felt something wet on his lip and reached up, only to draw back fingers smudged with crimson. Overextended himself and then some.
Mace was saying something, but Venge couldn’t hear it over the tinny whine in his ears. And then Venge heard nothing at all.