Holy shit how much more horrifying must have the whole Mustafar thing have been with that eldritch abomination version of Anakin? Alternately, maybe his terrifying-ness would have scared off, or at least overcame, Palpatine
- “I’m a monster,” says Anakin. Senator Palpatine smiles, avuncular and warm, and says not you’re not and the Jedi are the ones who call you a monster and I do not think you are a monster and they call you are a monster because they fear your power. I do not. And that is what he says every time Anakin arrives with his eyes boiling red with tears and fury. This is what he says every time Anakin’s been chastised for losing control, for scaring people, for permitting his extra limbs to show, for snarling in that strange way he has, like he is speaking from fifteen throats at the same time, so his voice is layered and quivering and buzzing. This is what he says when a night of passion with Padme results in an electric storm that short-circuits the entire city. This is what he says when Ahsoka is injured in battle and Anakin’s pain and guilt summons black-belled stormclouds that hail down blood. This is what he says when Mace Windu won’t let Anakin teach the younglings – what does he know?
- they haven’t learned to close their eyes around you, says Mace, flatly. You’d blind them. You’d hurt them. I can barely stand to look at you, how would it be when a child tries to – tries to look at you in your true form–
- This is my true form! Anakin had barked at Mace, and raised his human hands. I’m –I’m human, I am, I am –
- You’re not, says Palpatine, you’re so much more.
- All that power. All that strength. But all the power in the world means nothing when its wielder is frightened, and alone. In another world, an entirely-human Anakin is manipulated through his love for his wife, his desperation to belong. In this one, exactly the same thing happens. Anakin is caught in the sharp cracks of: I want to be human and I am not human and I am not a monster and they tell me I am and I want to do the right thing and I do not know what the right thing is, and fear leads to hate, and hate leads to the Dark Side where all things drown, and even the son of the Force cannot escape the tides pulling him in, deeper and deeper, until the Light is a dim and distant quiver.
- Mustafar. The molten planet, the blistering lava, the dead and empty sky. Padme lying where Anakin threw her. Anakin himself breaking apart at the seams: his eyes huge and black, too many teeth in his gums, his tongue splitting in twain, becoming a twisting pair of snakes – and Obi Wan closes his eyes, he has to. The images are too awful. The Dark Side, where all things drown. Even the brightest son of the Force. Oh how thou art fallen –
- Master! Master Won’t you look at me? And Obi Wan does, but he doesn’t open his eyes: he opens himself to the Force, and feels it pour into him in a hot red tide, snarling and sparking with Anakin’s frenzy. He sees Anakin in his entirety for the first and only time: both human and Force, monster and wonder, mortal and god, wound together, ever-shifting. How can you fight something like that? How? Obi Wan illuminates his lightsabre. Anakin snarls with a thousand tongues, and starts forwards, and it seems that all of reality is surging towards Obi-Wan, breaking at the edges and –
- I am one with the Force, and the Force is in me, Obi Wan thinks: the old Jedi meditation, and Anakin is bigger than any moon, anything, he is in the physical realm and the mental one at the same time, he is an impossibility he is –
- I AM ONE WITH THE FORCE AND THE FORCE IS IN ME and Obi Wan opens his eyes and his apprentice is there, sort of human-shaped, but only in the vaguest possible way. Like a blurry holovid, or one of those optical illusions so popular among younglings; you look at it this way and it is a droid, that way and it is a star. Obi Wan keeps his eyes open, and his Force-sensitivity open, and Anakin flickers in and out of existence, sometimes there and sometimes not, and reality itself shrieks. But the Force is everything and everywhere, and Obi Wan draws on it; because power is what you make if it, life is what you make of it, and there is always a choice. Obi Wan makes his.
- A quick fact about lightsabres: they’re in two realms at the same time. Most people don’t know this. They’re in this one, and the the other one. And they can cut through anything.
- The battle jumps between realms, between times, in and out of the physical landscape, and there are times when Obi Wan doesn’t know if he’s fighting on the planet Mustafar or in the heat and tempest of Anakin’s mind. He ignores everything around him and focuses on the beat of his heart, the strength of his lightsabre, his padawan. And –
- You can’t win Master!I have the high ground! And are they in Anakin’s fevered dreamscape? Are they on the lava-carved banks of a dead planet? Are those Anakin’s eyes, or are they stars, bright-burning and so very close?
- It doesn’t matter. Obi Wan makes his choice. His lightsabre can cut through anything. Anakin falls in two smoking halves, and the lava takes him. The air around him catches fire, and for a moment Obi Wan sees tentacles, wings, teeth: all burning.
- Darth Vader sometimes remembers when he was bigger than the skin he wore. But not very often. The son of the Force died on Mustafar.