"Yes, my Master," you acquiesce to the cold, aphotic creature that flickers above your supplicant form. As his image fades, you rise to your feet and stare into the darkness, lost in thought. I feel the tenebrous memories swirling about you, your anger and accusations toward me. Once you accused me of holding you back, not allowing you to reach your full potential. You thought I had lied to you.
Now you know the truth which even he, your son, does not know. It is he who I deceived. It is he to whom I lied.
Could you believe me if I said I did it out of my love for you?
The sound of your breathing echoes through the empty chamber that has become your existence. Because of me.
No, I wouldn't believe me, either.
You had let go of the fragile thread that linked your tired heart to mine a long time ago. And so, I had thought, had I. But more and more I find myself here with you.
Slowly you make your way back to your meditation chamber. You stop for a moment and turn your head, your senses searching for something elusive, like an animal sniffing the air for danger. Do you sense me? Do you know I am near?
You shake the sensation away, logic overruling your natural instincts. You continue to your self-chosen cage, locking yourself away from the world, thinking it safe to remove your mask, to let the calculating maniacal creature others think you have become to fall away.
You shudder, alone in your thoughts. Only your eyes betray your true feelings.
"Obi-Wan," I hear you address me by name in a sacred whisper, as if you know, somehow, I will hear you. "Why did you betray me?"
Betray you? Is that how you see me?
The image of Padm? struggling against an unseen force replays endlessly in your mind. The darkness within you turned you against her and then me. Before that moment, I thought there had been hope to bring you back. Even when I witnessed the carnage you wrought on your fellow Jedi, I foolishly believed I could save your soul. But no more.
Somehow, even now, your love for her remains. I feel it in you. How can this be? She fell to the power of your own mind, bringing to fruition everything you struggled so hard to prevent. Yet you love her still. It was I, you convince yourself, who made her turn you down, drive you away. I must have pushed her mind to breaking, you reason. I forced myself into her will with a Jedi mind trick, broke her defenses, and caused her to turn away from you.
Thus you can still feel free to love her, to hate me instead.
So be it, my Padawan.
Your eyes are closed painfully in dreamless meditation. You have perfected the art of sleeplessness, for you are afraid of what prescient dreams may come. You turn a blind eye to your dreams as I once did, only you turn away from them in fear. The fear that inevitably leads to your suffering. The suffering that leads me to you.
Instead I am left with the reality of my own demise. For there you are, broken and twisted, a creature of steel and hate, more than of flesh and blood. Is this what my love has done to you, Anakin?
Even now, I am unable to let go. Perhaps these dreams I have for you will pass in time.
It has taken me countless years in shifting sands to accept this part of you that has died. I separated this iniquity from the friend I knew so well. Now there are two of you?the boy, Anakin Skywalker who grew up under my wing and became a man, and the man, Darth Vader who betrayed and murdered your memory.
Yet I can scarcely believe it?my master tells me there is still hope for you. He tells me it is the love your son has for you that will finally set you free from all this. Now that you know of his existence, your soul yearns for him as much as his has longed to know you. My master and the Force have hidden you from each other until now, this very moment, when the powers of the galaxy will align and bring the balance which was foreseen.
But is it you or your son who brings the balance, Anakin? I confess, I doubted the truth of the prophecy, never quite sure if Qui-Gon was chasing after rainbows or if the Living Force was truly speaking to him. I foresaw you as dangerous, and thinking I could change the outcome, came to believe the Force had led me to you, that I was the one to train you and mold you into a Jedi. In the end, it was I who was dangerous, my pride leading me to believe I was the one who could save you.
Endlessly I have wondered?should I have reached out my hand to you that fateful day? Would you have taken it, or would you have pulled me down with you, into the fiery pit that molded you into what you have become?
I can no longer offer you my hand, for I have no body, no limbs to give. Although you saw my last words to you as a taunt in the heat of battle, my words were the last promise this master could give to his padawan. In that moment, I shed my skin for you, Anakin. And if I could, I would breathe for you now. I would offer my heart to you, give you its strength to take you through eternity. I can only pray that my sacrifice will serve you well....
You replace your mask, your emotionless fa?ade firmly set into place. It is time for you to return to that unfeeling world I designed for you. In those cold, darkened halls you will stride, your heart as hardened as the Jedi Knights would have wanted you to be.
This endless worry serves me no purpose; it is only the fighting of shadows on empty walls.
I can only whisper my wishes of forgiveness for what I have done, my dearest Padawan. My spirit can only hope for your salvation. Until then, I have but one consolation.
You're still breathing.
Original cover by agentj. HTML formatting copyright 2006 TheForce.Net LLC.