Chapter Twenty-Three -- Awakening

"You will die." -- Darth Sidious

The being who had once been Anakin Skywalker returned to consciousness to find a blinding light stretching down into his eyes.

For a long time, his eyes were the only thing he could feel, as he opened and shut them, hoping each blink would dim the light that threatened to seer through him.

He contemplated the light fully, unaware of anything but its presence. His eyes blinked again and again, as he slowly realized the problem was in his vision, not in the light above.

Slowly, his body began to come alive again and with it came the pain. Pain unlike anything his disjointed memory could recall. Pain slammed his nerves in waves. His lungs burned, his mouth and nose felt raw and invaded, his skin itself felt new, like it had been pulled onto his bones and fit too tight.

He tried to move his arms, but only one responded. He felt ... numb in some areas and didnít understand why the pain increased with each moment.

Every breath pained him, as air seemed forced in and out of his body. He was able to push his eyes down to see a metallic grey tube covering most of his face, leading out of his field of vision.

A hiss filled his ears, the first sound he had heard besides his own ragged breathing. He felt air move on his face and the lightís source began moving, off to one side as now he could see metal rising above him, and he slowly realized he was encased in some sort of structure.

The lid of the structure pulled back, exposing his eyes to a darkness above that they could not penetrate. His ears, perhaps the only part of him not in pain, could hear electronic beeps now, and the nearly hushed movements of someone walking toward him.

He blinked again and suddenly there was a face peering down at his. A face covered by a hood, but suddenly pulled back to reveal its occupant.

He shut his eyes in horror, then opened them again to stare at the gnarled vision above him in shock. He knew this face, and yet he did not.

The man looked so much older than in any of his memories that he wondered if he had simply imagined them. He was at once repulsed and hypnotized by the manís yellowish eyes that stared down into his own.

The manís lips pulled back and gritty teeth revealed in what approximated as a smile. The man spoke clear and soft and he felt he knew the voice, too.

"You will die."

The three words caused him to inahle sharply, throwing off slightly the mechanations of the breathing apparatus as the computer compensated for his attempt to breathe on his own.

He blinked up in fright at the gruesome visage as it stared down at him.

"You will die," it repeated. "Unless you give your life to me."

He stared into those eyes now, tantalized by the thought of life.

"They sought to take it all from you, my young friend. You remember them, donít you? Jealous, hateful, spiteful of you. They murdered your mother. They stole your bride. They took your glory and made it their own. They even tried to take your life, but I would not allow it!"

As the mouth spoke, he was hit by images of the events in question. Visions of a caring mother, a beautiful wife, of rage and hatred and death ... his own death?

"You have begun to remember, havenít you? Do you remember who did this to you, my young friend? They are Jedi, and together we shall rid the galaxy of their plague, and revenge the injustices done to you."

The words moved him, and his body was filled with hatred for the Jedi. The dark side flowed through him and he felt strong, he felt the pain easing in his lungs and strength returning to him for the first time in ages.

The face smiled down at him now.

"You feel it, donít you? The true power of the Force. For a millenium the Jedi believed they knew its nature, but now they are all but extinct. Their self-absorbed ways led to the downfall of the Republic and the slaughter of millions. But where they failed, we shall succeed. We shall rule the galaxy in perfect order. The dark side of the Force is the true power!"

He was taken aback by the hatred in the voice. His concentration wavered and the pain returned. He felt confused, scared even. He longed to be comforted, if not by a person, than by the blackness from which he had been roused.

Darth Sidious, the Emperor, looked down at the remains of Anakin Skywalker, sensing the hurt and confusion there. He brought up the reflective glass that he had brought from his office.

He held it above Anakinís face and sensed the younger manís shock, horror and yes, there was the hatred once more.

Anakin, although he still had no recollection of his own self, stared up in horror. The thing looking back at him was a nightmare of scars, chalky-white skin and lesions. He had no hair anywhere on his head or face. A scar two inches thick wrapped from the top of his head down the left side of his face. His scalp was burnt in too many places to count.

A thick tube held his mouth open, two more were entrenched in his nostrils. The Emperor held the glass for a long moment, then waved his hand and activated a monitor raising above Anakin.

He removed the mirror and allowed the invalid to see his entire body in the tomb he had lay in for months. Anakin gave forth a low wail that was distorted but amplified by the tube his own throat.

He closed his eyes in horror again, reopening then slowly to look at the wrecked shards of his body.

His right arm ended in a stump, his hand gone with no traces of having ever existed. His arms, legs and chest were ravaged by scars, and his once-muscular frame was thin and weak. His legs ended shortly below the knees. The numbness he first felt now made sense.

Tears filled his eyes as he continued to stare at himself on the monitor. It remained on as the Emperor re-entered his field of vision, his sickly pale eyes holding Anakinís own.

"Do not pity yourself, my young friend. It makes you weak. Give your service to me, and I shall remake you. I shall give you the strength and the power to gain revenge on them. On Kenobi, on the ones who stole your wife, who murdered your family, who made you into this."

The words reignited the fire of hate inside Anakinís body. He stared up at his nightmarish reflection and the anger surged through him like black waves of water now, fillling him to the brim with its power of potential. He saw himself reborn, striding on new legs across planets, wielding the Force as a hammer, crushing those who had betrayed him, those who had murdered him, those who had used him to their own ends, then discarded him like a broken machine.

He saw men kneel before him, awaiting orders, eager to please, willing to die, fearful of his wrath. He embraced the full pleasure of power, feeling the might of controlling the fates of others.

Worlds would tremble at his approach. He would restore order to a fractured galaxy, order that the Jedi had beleived theirs to dictate. They had failed, they had tried to blame him for their own shortcomings. He would be revenged.

The Emperor stared down at him hard and felt his gaze met. He felt the power of victory now, the hate flowed freely through Skywalkerís body. He would be easy to craft into the next lord of the Sith.

His hand touched Anakinís scarred face but the former Jedi barely felt the pain, so enraptured in the dark side was he.

"They made you a monster, my young apprentice,Ē the Emperor whispered. ďI will re-make you a god."