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AT THE HEIGHT
by: Lady Selinthia

Rated: PG-13
Summary: After the Jedi Temple's destruction, Sidious and Vader pick through the ruins. . . .

Disclaimer: Star Wars was created by George Lucas. No profit was made from this story.
 

At the Height ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Selinthia Avenchesca

The destruction was shot through with shards of the mirror-like substance which had been the outer surface of the building. In Coruscant's sunlight the Jedi Temple had once gleamed like a star. Now, it was shattered like a broken dream.

Two men wandered through the ruins, thus far silent and thoughtful during their journey.

Darth Sidious observed charred flesh and other scrapes of human remains throughout the building with softly savored pleasure.

"It will be dangerous to ascend to the next level," the younger man, Darth Vader, noted. His voice was calm and technical as he offered a fact as a fact, not as a protest.

"I know," Vader's Sith Master said in clipped tones, his determination clear. They had come this far. They would go the rest of the way.

They avoided the lifts, knowing that power within the building no longer functioned, shattered much like the power of it's once revered inhabitants, the Jedi Knighthood. Instead, the two Sith Lords made their way towards the emergency stairs. They heard the faintest hiss of released air as Sidious, walked slightly in front of Vader, pulled the charred door to the stairway open.

They stepped into the oppressive darkness of the stairwell. A darkness that was not rich and bountiful as the Dark Side of the Force was, but rather, retained the stale ominous odour of the grave. They made their way up the steps, hearing the faint whisper of Sidious' robes rustling against the stone steps, and the hard-soled clicking of Vader's boots following after. The higher they ascended, the greater the pressure against them became. It was not the pressure of air, however. It seemed to radiate from the stone itself, urging them back down to the last level, screaming at them that they were not wanted.

*To refuse a Sith is but to see his determination grow,* thought Sidious. *So it has ever been. The Jedi thought to destroy us, and now the Jedi are the ones being destroyed. Such lovely balance.*

The Sith Master smirked as they completed another winding spiral. He owned the Jedi's precious Balance charm now, and Balance wasn't quite turning out as the good Knights had previously imagined.

He took the final step, carefully placed both feet on the cracked landing, and took a deep breath as he pulled the lingering despair, sorrow, fear, rage, and yes, even hatred, into himself. The sheer delight of such intense negative emotions having spawned from Jedi sent chills of intoxication down Sidious's spine. His lips parted and his eyes near-glowed. Stretching out a hand from the enveloping confines of his richly colored robes, he ran his fingers along the polished stone of the hallway's wall. Trailing his fingers, he felt his way, like a blind man, towards the door of the Jedi Council chamber, the heart of the Jedi Temple.

A fleeting vision flashed along Sidious's perceptions: A woman in Jedi robes screaming as she tumbled to the floor, her neck dripping blood. Transferring his gaze to the stone in front of him, the Sith Master noted there was indeed a dry bloodstain there, soaked into the stone, thick as rot.

They stopped before the large double doors. In this room they would find the peak of their victory. Sidious turned to look at the younger man, seeing the schooled expression upon the fair-skinned face, which could not quite hide the anticipation in Vader's gleaming blue eyes.

Removing his hand from the side wall, Sidious opened the doors. A screaming gust of sheer mental power swept over them, scratching urgently at their minds, cursing at them, pleading with them, damning them. The utter fury of the storm was enough to nearly knock them to the floor.

Sheer determination, absolute belief in their own superiority, refusal to kneel to their enemies even when the Jedi were dead, and in someway, *especially* when the Jedi were dead, was all that kept them on their feet.

Slowly, the Sith opened their eyes, which they had not even noticed were closed, to behold the gutted centre of Jedi rule.

Patches of the windows were smashed inwards and shards of transparasteel lay scattered on the cracked and heaving floor. The Council seats were shattered; wood, stone and cushions were torn apart, seared, and some simply burnt to nothing. The carved and engraved ceiling, which supported the base of the Temple spire, barely held together. The decorative mosaics were scorched away, mirroring the fire-kissed floor below it. The grime of ashes and the stench of charred flesh filled the air. Blood ran in the cracks of the floor, flooded over the broken chairs. It was brown and dry now, but once it had been crimson rich. A few rotting bodies were sprawled underneath the seats, and one stretched out in the centre of the room.

Satisfaction radiating from him, Darth Sidious walked slowly about the rim of the room's inner circle, taking in the shattered connection of the Council.

"For millennia, the Sith have awaited this moment," Lord Sidious began in his deep, crawling voice. "Masters and apprentices have trained and waited, utilizing the Jedi virtue of patience in order to arrive at the perfect moment in time to strike. More than two thousand years, Lord Vader. Two thousand years of hate and thwarted ambition, whilst the Jedi sat, blind and oblivious, sinking ever deeper into putrid stagnation. And at last we have arisen to take our rightful victory, our hard earned triumph. The Jedi Temple is broken, a shell of it's former self. There remains not one initiate, Padawan, Knight or Master alive within this building, nor all of Coruscant. The galaxy has turned against their wretched Order, as it was once turned against the Sith. Poetic justice," Sidious smiled, barring his teeth viciously.

The Sith Master felt bubbling excitement seething in his chest. He was near shaking in the emotional overload of the moment. He wanted to laugh and to kill at once. He'd paid the price of Darkness all of his life, the consuming hatred and rage which tormented his every moment, the ecstasy of the Force, shattered so minutely that it became agony, the helpless futility of knowing that he must wait, knowing that he could do nothing lest he risk exposure, feeling all the while his hunger for violence and torment gnawing at his insides. But the price had at last revealed it's prize, his purchase of all of those years, which was made with the cost of a portion of his sanity. He knew it, but now that he had won victory over his enemies and captured the power that he had so long strove for, the sacrifice no longer mattered.

A beam of light hit him with the force of the setting sun, illuminating his face in blood-red light. A gust of wind howled past the Spire, shrieking into the smashed windows, pushing into Sidious and nearly knocking him to the floor, sending Vader swaying sharply.

The wind intensified and Sidious said, "Our time here is finished, my friend."

Gesturing sharply, he exited the chamber, Vader following.

Closing the resistant doors with the Force, the Sith noted the abrupt disappearance of the wind's howl as the sound-proof doors took effect.

"Vader?" Sidious questioned with glassy calm as they stood in the hallway.

"Yes, my master?"

"Turn to me," Sidious answered.

Puzzled, Vader did so, a question on his face.

Sidious said nothing as his hand snaked up about Vader's neck, pulling his face down sharply to Sidious and sealing his own lips on the younger man's. Vader's eyes widened abruptly, but he did not attempt to pull away, even as his Master's tongue slid, swiftly but forcefully, into his mouth. His breath caught sharply in his lungs as he felt Sidious smile around the kiss. The Sith Master abruptly pressed closely, turning the frozen pressure into a streak of violence as he scraped open his apprentice's lips with a hard grinding motion of his own. Vader hissed, but Sidious held him still for the moment, pulling back only slowly, several heart beats passing. A cruel and gloating smile lingered upon the Sith Master's lips, now slightly stained with Vader's blood, which the younger Sith's eyes wandered to in trapped fascination, even as he licked the traces of blood from his own lips.

Silence hung heavy, but the Temple, the desecrated height of the building, seemed to radiate revulsion.

"Why?" Vader meant his voice to be questioning, incredulous, and certainly he meant to say more, but instead it came out low and wary, expectant. He found that he was almost trembling in the dark tension of the moment. His Master's actions had been most unexpected.

"It seemed fitting," Sidious said. "A final taunt, so to speak. We could do anything in or to the Temple, and there is not a single Jedi, dead or alive, to stop us. Vader--I have decided that my place of rule shall be built on this location. The Temple will be demolished, cleared away. And my abode will be take it's place, be built up from the Temple's foundations."

Inwardly, he gave another, unheard answer. *And because you are mine, I may do with you as I wish, and at that moment, I wished to kiss you as I did. But it's best not to say so for now. You serve willingly, but your pride is a most. . .volatile quality. I will gradually break you to my will, until you are utterly and completely a creature of my making. And then it will not matter what I say or do. You will never question. But these matters are best taken slowly to achieve the best result.*

"Fitting, indeed," Vader replied to Sidious' spoken answer, his eyes glinting in an unreadable manner.

His Master laughed. "Come, Vader. We're leaving now." Sidious' cloak swirled about as he turned.

The stairs were taken in silence, but the push of the walls, the captured essence of the Jedi, now seemed less determined than despairing.

END