“Don’t you see? We don’t have to run away anymore! I have brought peace to the Republic. I am more powerful than the Chancellor; I… I can overthrow him! And together, you and I can rule the galaxy; make things the way we want them to be!” Anakin spoke excitedly about his new vision for the galaxy, and Padme had to admit, his enthusiasm was beginning to rub off onto her. Together, she had no doubt that she and Anakin could make the galaxy perfect.
But was it right? For so long she had stood by the Republic, to the idea of a republic in general. She couldn’t betray everything she believed in now, no matter the cost. But, the Republic had been corrupt the whole time. Even Padme herself had been fooled completely by Chancellor Palpatine. Maybe the galaxy would be better off if she could have absolute authority.
“Anie, you know I’m with you,” Padme responded in a voice stronger than she thought it would be. “But why must we kill everyone to make it that way? Why can’t we make alliances with the people we know we can trust?”
Anakin stepped closer to her and took her hand in his gloved prostestic one. “There is no one left we can trust, my angel. Everyone is either actively working against us or playing the pawn without realizing it. We have no friends in this galaxy any longer.”
Now that Padme knew wasn’t true. Even as the harsh Mustafar lava gusted around them, she found herself shivering. There was something wrong about all of this. There was something not right. But, Padme reasoned. She and Anakin were together. In the end, wasn’t that all that mattered?
“But what about Obi Wan?”
“Obi Wan can’t see past the lies that the Council has been feeding him. He is no longer our friend,” growled Anakin back. He wasn’t growling at her, of course, but at Obi Wan, a man he looked up to as an older brother. At the Council who corrupted the mind of such a good man.
“That’s not true, Anie! Obi Wan knows. He wants to help us. He cares about you, Anie, truly he does. If we can just make him see-”
“Liar!” Anakin roared over Padme’s voice. Padme stopped abruptly and stared at the twisted look Anakin’s eyes had taken. This time, the ferocity was aimed at her. But why?
Padme looked to where Anakin’s eyes took her and saw, through blurry eyes, Obi Wan. He’d stowed aboard! That’s why he’d come in the first place! “No!” she screamed, not even sure if she was screaming it to Anakin to stop him from killing Obi Wan, to Obi Wan to stop him from killing Anakin, or at the situation as a whole. After a second of gasping for air she spoke in a slightly more reserved manner. “I swear, Anie, I had no idea he was onboard. I swear it!”
“She’s telling the truth, Anakin,” Obi Wan added. “She did not know. I stowed aboard when I saw that she was going to go to you.”
“You came here to kill me, didn’t you. The Council sent you here, didn’t it,” shouted Anakin back. While speaking he’d moved in front of Padme and held out one hand in front of her, keeping her from moving forward.
“No, stop! Don’t do this! You don’t have to do this, either of you. Stop this now, while we still can!” pleaded Padme with both of the potential duelists.
“Padme, Anakin is corrupt. Unless he turns back now, I will have no choice,” reasoned Obi Wan to her.
“You see? Do you see, Padme? The Council has corrupted everyone, including him. He’s too stubborn and too brainwashed to reason with, and if we don’t kill him and the rest of the Jedi they will kill us. And I cannot allow that to happen,” said Anakin.
“I will not harm you unless you leave me with no other alternative. I am not the brainwashed one here,” returned Obi Wan. “You have allowed this Dark Lord to twist your mind, until now… until now you have become the very thing you swore to destroy.”
“Don’t lecture me, Obi-Wan! I see through the lies of the Jedi! I do not fear the Dark Side as you do! I have brought peace, freedom, justice, and security to my new Empire!”
“Your new Empire?” Obi Wan said, disgust dripping from his voice. Padme was growing more conflicted by the second. The sound of an “empire” sounded so against everything she thought she believed in. And Obi Wan couldn’t be just a pawn, no, he couldn’t be. Either he was telling the truth or he was in on the conspiracy. And obviously he couldn’t be telling the truth, not when it involved so many lies about Anakin.
Which left only one choice. Obi Wan really was a traitor. The Council really was evil. And there was no good left in this galaxy.
“Don’t make me kill you,” Anakin growled to Obi Wan.
“Anakin, my allegiance is to the Republic!” shouted the traitor at the top of his lungs. Simply watching him caused Padme to shiver yet again. How could a man she thought to be so good lie through his teeth so easily? And how in the universe had she not seen this conspiracy for what it was long before now? She’d trusted these people!
Padme’s thoughts flashed by at hyperspeed, and Anakin responded to Obi Wan with a tone of finality. “If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy!”
“Only a Sith deals in absolutes. I will do what I must,” said Obi Wan as he switched on his lightsaber. Only a Sith deal in absolutes? The Jedi had been dealing in absolutes for eons, prohibiting love, prohibiting attachment. And who was he, who was he, to play the remorseful good guy in all of this?
“You will try,” replied Anakin. He drew his own lightsaber and flung away his cloak. “When I draw him away from the ship, I want you to run inside, all right?” Anakin whispered to her. He risked one fleeting smile her way before adding, “We can’t risk waking the baby.” Padme nodded and took a few steps back.
While Padme assumed that both duelists would be completely focused on each other, Obi Wan turned slightly and faced her instead. “I had hoped that you would remain loyal and help me pull the Anakin we knew out of the Sith he has trapped himself inside, but I can see that you truly will not turn back.” Padme continued to hold a determined gaze while Obi Wan lifted one hand. “Sleep, my dear, until it is safe for you to wake again.” With those words, Padme fell to the hard metal dock, fast asleep and dreamless.
Return next Thursday for If Things Had Been Different: Part Two!