Published: October 20, 2015
Anakin didn’t know why his mother wasn’t there, at his side, but he knew that he’d dreamt of her death so many times that it couldn’t be real. Just a nightmare. He wasn’t sure what his brothers were talking about, when he connected with them on the inner, after falling asleep, but they didn’t know where he was, or who he was, and it was a panicked scramble to bring himself back to life and wake up in his bed on his newly acquired starship.
He hadn’t had a dream like that one in a long time, that he remembered, since he could usually just dream when he was awake, and so the attempts to control him by carnal forces were easy to subvert or figure out or just ignore till the right moment when he could deal with the mental ailment.
He wondered what the Skywalker clan really was these days, beyond a supplement to a jedi council. Luke didn’t believe anything the politicians said to him about the way a senate should be run, and he abandoned the naïve padawan mindset he’d had for Obiwan’s benefit while he was befriending him, to adopt the confident air of a jedi knight, who called himself master in the face of foes like Jabba the Hutt.
Ani knew the tales well, and he knew the story of the father of his clan, Darth Vader. He’d never been evil, and Ani couldn’t understand why they’d named him Anakin instead of Vader, because to him, it was Vader who was the most powerful among the jedi and sith. Vader alone was a true jedi, set apart from the imagined realities and frailties of his foes, becoming one with the force in order to bring balance to the galaxy.
A force like Anakin Skywalker presenting himself to the old republic was impossible to understand, for he’d always appeared to be a lovesick, overzealous jedi initiate, when in reality he knew just when to summon the appropriate emotion to do battle in just the right way.
A memory came to Anakin, then, as he lay there in his bed, en route to a space station his new padawan had chosen for their first destination outside their home system. It was an old memory, and not his own, but he could feel it, there on the desert planet, with the boy who was called Ani, pretending to be a slave to a mechanic, and who knew always, within himself, what he was more a jedi than anyone alive in the galaxy. The force was his, and his alone, for he could see the way people were without having to class it in a prescripted understanding of carnal reality.
He’d watched her, the child queen, standing in the bar, wondering what on earth her jedi escorts were thinking, bringing them to a place like this for repairs, and trusting a strange boy like Ani. She wasn’t wondering like that, just yet, but little Ani of Tatooine could see what she really was. A distressed zealot, and he hoped to break her of it quickly, for he liked her, and knew she would soon succumb to the dark side of her understandings of the Force, if she kept on as she was; like she owned the universe and knew best what it should become and be like.
“Are you an angel?” the boy had asked. He’d said the words to her, and in his thoughts, he’d said, ‘Are you for real?’ It was like she couldn’t comprehend what he’d said to her. Like she didn’t really believe in angels, and yet, she knew that on Naboo, they had always treated her like such, and even dressed her up like one, calling her Amidala, and hushing in her very presence.
He’d broken her, there, using the guise of a little boy, which he was, so no guise was false, and yet he was Darth Vader, bringer of death, reaper of the jedi courts, and she would hate him for it, if he could not bring her to fall in love with him, which he thought may have already happened.
Anakin never wanted to slay the children in the temple on Coruscant, until he realized that if he left them alive, as the jedi around them fell, Chancellor Palpatine would have his way with them, warping and distorting their minds into vessels of the dark side. Agents of the Sith. It was here that he fell, the last vestiges of Anakin Skywalker gone, buried by the guise of the dark side, and yet he was never lost in his rage, like Sidious had dreamed. He was simply Darth Vader, an extension of the will of the Force itself, and he trusted his every moment to the dark side, for there was never such a thing in his mind, and painted himself the zealot of the emperor’s teachings, in later times, as he traveled about the galaxy hunting down the jedi scum who still breathed.
The children he’d slain, the younglings, as Obiwan had called them, became one with the Force once more, and Anakin knew them well, safe from the Chancellor’s influence for an eternity to return somewhere in the rest of the galaxy.
Mace Windu had betrayed himself to the dark side, when he claimed that there was no recourse for a lord of the Sith like Sidious, and named himself chief executive executioner in the presence of a distraught Anakin, who was learning that his oldest friend should be his greatest enemy.
Windu had always toted the importance of the jedi council, as if a race of sorcerors and wizards could be governed by a select few. There were no masters, in Anakin’s eyes, only teachers, who could only be students. Windu showed himself for a viper when he dropped the guise of a dedicated bureaucrat of the jedi, and saw himself as the hero who destroyed the Sith lord they’d been searching for. Anakin never switched sides in his struggle for domination of the Force’s greatest allies, for all jedi believed themselves holy, and all Sith believed themselves masters of darkness, and all Anakin had ever had to accomplish, was to show just what their hypocrisy and vapid carnation had bred. The clash between the wicked Sith and the dystopic jedi had created the monster they saw as Darth Vader, and none but Obiwan and Yoda could see, there as he rose with yellow eyes, just what he truly was.
Obiwan loved the younglings, as did Anakin, and could not believe himself in the right lest he chose to believe that Anakin had done it for wickedness, instead of good, and as Anakin truly was his brother, and he was playing the demon of the Sith, so Obiwan took his place, just as Anakin had always hoped he would, with a lightsaber in hand, proclaiming the innocence of children, and the havoc Anakin had wrought on the seven systems surrounding Coruscant and the Imperial Senate, to be all caused of wickedness and the embracement of a dark side for selfish cause.
Anakin wished to die there, on the heated slope, his clothes alight with flames form the magma beneath him, while Obiwan left him there, to be rescued by his supposed allies.
The jedi council was no more, and so Anakin could spread the will of the emperor, bringing the planets of the Imperial Senate under his dominion. Anakin, there in his bed on the starship he’d stolen from home, wondered why so few understood just what Darth Vader had been.
Anakin rose from his bed, grabbing his cloak to sling over her bare shoulders, when he saw his sister in the cockpit, keeping an eye on their progress through space. He draped it over her lap, instead, and kissed her on the forehead, ignoring the playful smile and quip she gave him for both, as he slumped down in his own seat beside her.
He was shirtless, and he wondered at one of the scars he’d left on his left pec. He couldn’t seem to remember where he’d gotten it, and why it hadn’t healed, so he always figured he had programmed himself to forget about it until the moment he would need the understanding. It was a strange way to do business, the others had always thought, but he knew they copied the method in their own ways, to understand themselves.
“I was away for a while,” Ara said, draping the cloak over her shoulder instead of on her lap, so she could be free to move about the controls. Anakin wasn’t really sure what she was doing there, but he was so far flung into the past and present, still dreaming while alive, that he didn’t think he had to know specifically what she was doing to his ship.
“While away, where you was?” he returned, not meeting her gaze, but looking out through the stars.
“I was at home, in a different place than I’d ever been before,” she related, “and you were there, in spirit, or something, and yet I was alone, surrounded by goons who wanted me dead for reasons I couldn’t even fathom. It was frightening, at first, till I realized that without you standing there, nothing was impossible, because you’d been there all along, and I didn’t even have to worry about what you were, or what I was; I just knew that in this moment, I existed as I should, and whatever comes of it, I’ll still exist in the next moment as well, because they’re all the same moment, and we’re all the same. . .” she had trailed off. Anakin knew the thoughts in Force streams like that could be intimidating to first timers, and every time you rode another one, it was for the first time. She wasn’t sure that what she said was about to make sense, so he continued for her, “that all we wanted to see, wasn’t there in the first place, because when we saw it, we’d already had it without our minds, because nothing we had to see in the first place was there at all.”
Ara nodded, not sure how to digest that sentiment, so she let it steep naturally in her mind, and asked, “What sort of jedi knight do you hope to be, little brother?” She called him little brother often, when she thought it was cute, and it was, just now.
“I thought I knew what a jedi was, just now, before I became here. But now I’ve started to think there was only ever one, and he was my namesake, in part?”
She looked at him oddly. “Anakin Skywalker. You believe him to be so great? You are nothing like him, you know.” She didn’t know why he would think so highly of a man like Anakin was said to have been. But he was never a man, only a jedi, and none could tame what he had chosen to become.
“Darth Vader was a terrific force for our great grandfather to encounter, and in all his knowing of the force, which he learned simply by being who he was, all his life, and first saw it echoed in his old friend, Ben Kenobi, so Luke knew that he could be a jedi knight like his father had been, and like Ben.”
Ara took a cup from her bag, and filled it with a warm drink she kept in a canteen, handing the beverage to her older brother while she listened to him. “I wish you wouldn’t talk of such things without telling me your name, big brother.”
He didn’t respond to the jibe. It was his tale, and he knew how to tell it. “All the jedi council of old ever preached was a clarity of thought, devoid of emotion, so that one could exist in such a fluid and guided movement that he never lost attunement with the Force and so himself. Yet they existed and taught as those who shunned emotions, believing they simply had to abandon their reaction to such things, and so they would be enlightened. He was cruel, in his ways of teaching, so he thought to tell the jedi that they were fools for believing you could master yourself without addressing the rage and anger coursing through you, the passion for a better reality, truer to your own vision as it exists in a stream of Force.
“The jedi preached devotion to lunacy and the abandonment of selfhood, while their counterpart reveled in the power that rage and fear could bring to you. They were capable of awesome displays of power and mastery of carnal weapons within the Force itself, knowing that losing yourself in the darkness would make you the perfect instrument of selfhood.
Luke, as all he was, was learning to be a jedi on his own, or so he thought, and yet when he battled Darth Vader, his understanding of himself wavered, and he could not understand why.” He paused, sipped his drink, and looked at Ara. “Have you seen them, Luke, Vader and the emperor, in the death star, over Endor?”
Ara nodded. She had seen the battle in her mind’s eye a thousand times in her dreams, after great grandfather had related the stories to her. He had not, however, told her what Anakin was about to unleash on her psyche.
“Unbind yourself, young jedi,” Anakin echoed the wicked emperor’s sentiment. “Feel your anger. Let it rise within you.” He took another sip, and let the image of the emperor fade from his thoughts before continuing again. “Master Luke struggled with it, knowing that he was so desperate to win, to save his friends, that he had to find some way to become better than he was. To overcome this reality.
And then he looked to Vader, his own father, and saw what he had always been searching for in life. Here he was, terror of the galaxy, Darth Vader, clad in black and rage, and yet, there was nothing. He was the very embodiment of a Sith warrior, and Darth Vader fought with the cold precision of a jedi master. The only jedi master still alive, and Master Luke became him, in that moment, and through inaction and sabotage, the two jedi masters slayed the emperor, and brought the Sith to its knees.”
Ara couldn’t quite breathe right. The implications weren’t staggering, they were menacing. He. . . Darth Vader was. . . “He never lost focus,” she realized.
“No. He did not. No words of anger or righteousness could waver the will of Darth Vader. And in all tasks, he remained a humble servant to the Force, devoid of a cloud of emotion and rage, or denial and ego, so that he could be the perfect instrument to bring about the end of the world, so that the true jedi could learn to be human again, here in our home.”