jamaskywalker: Anakin Skywalker, ROTS, facing aside from the camera (Default)
2017-09-05 04:32 pm
Entry tags:

Incandescence

Mustafar is the place where Jedi go to die. Most have forgotten that the fifth precept of their code can be taken literally.

Mustafar is the place where Sith are forged from the horror of their apprenticeships. Their masters always forget how their code ends.

A/N: Um, I, well... yes. This happened.

The train of thought here started with a post that's been going around Tumblr about how a suitless Vader would just be walking around like... 'the biggest dilf in the galaxy', I believe the phrase was? That interpretation isn't one I much care for. There's a post I have a vague memory of reading at some point that mentions that the poster's idea of a suitless Vader is one who takes the whole 'The Force shall free me' schtick from the Sith Code and runs with it, and then there's a friend of mine very seriously discussing the whys and wherefores of the suit (recommended reading). (There's a non-zero possibility that the post I can't remember the origin of is from the same person as the linked one, but it didn't pop up in a search for 'suitless Vader' on their blog.)

So, thanks to my pettiness about the idea that Vader sans suit is just a hot Vader, we now have a situation where Anakin turns into a semi-Force-ghost thing who can't make up his mind about which code he's following and the author goes off on a (relatively short, at least) meta tangent about his views on the Force. As you do.

Warnings for death/murder scene, mention of bodily trauma.

Also on Pillowfort and AO3.


His old master’s silhouette blurred into the smoky darkness of the shadowed bank. He rocked and struggled forward, metal fingers slipping on the glass-smooth pebbles beneath him I hate you, I hate youthat crumbled as his hand clenched around the soot-shards.

Hate from anger, from the burning in his stomach, the belly of the dragon that had now come to eat him alive. There is no emotion, there is peace. Thoughts melted in the furnace he lay trapped in. The silhouette vanished in the dimness, his last sight of his old master the faint gleam of his lightsabre in the roiling glow of the churning lava that surrounded him, drowning him in fire.

Suffering from hate, hate from anger, anger from no anger from no it cannot be anger from fear.

There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.

Fear slipping like snakes through his ribs, tightening around the spark-heavy air that charred his lungs as he settled on the rocks. Metal in his arm screamed in protest at the heat and strain. It had never been built to bear his whole weight. He’d been the hero with no fear and now... fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate...

I hate you, I hate you, I was angry at you, I feared you, I feared for you...

The fire in the air closed in like a cloak of durasteel as the snakes in his chest tangled together in his heart, hissing their coldness as he shut his eyes against the searing dust in the air.

 

The flaws of the Jedi Order are spectacular. This man is but the symbol of its fall. One of their greatest, their most powerful, and they wished to hold him back.

That is where they fall, these Jedi. All those who seek power fear to lose it. They learnt that lesson, then decided that they would humble themselves – and that this, this... surrender of their greatest gifts, their most awesome ability would bestow greatness on them.

Greatness is power. And all those who seek power fear to lose it.

 

Let the hate burn itself to embers along with his flesh. There is no passion, there is serenity. Tongues of flame tested the edges of his flesh. His teeth gritted to keep the ash out of his throat.

I am not afraid! He did not fear death. He would not fight it now the dragon that had whispered in the night had taken shape around him. Trails of water ran down his cheeks only to steam away, Tatooine’s heat in the water, watch your water but did that matter now?

Nothing matters. Obi-Wan had walked away. Padmé would join him if she and the children survive. Nothing more to think, nothing more to feel. No need to fear death now.

There is no chaos, there is harmony. He would pass away in the fire that had welcomed him to life. The glow in his chest that had answered the hearth-heat of the twin suns. The fire of passion, of the love he’d once known.

Vengeful fire stripped the skin off his flesh. Unkind, hateful. Hate from anger, anger from fear, but what could this river of failing rock fear? All this furnace would ever forge was corpses. Like the suns he’d been born under and I am their son just ashes in the howling wind left behind.

There is no death, there is the Force. The flames had grown familiar. The dragon was close to gathering in the last of him. Like sinking into home.

 

A shame to waste an apprentice as powerful as this one. He will be easily manipulated, as he has been for years. And his injuries will require... special attentions. He will not trouble me.

It is only a matter of ensuring that he remains volatile enough to live. His presence is fading. Despair will engender passion, so long as he remains alive long enough for the flames he has sunk into to forge that despair into rage.

He must be reminded of our code. He knows the fallen Order’s one far better. Injured and distressed as he now is, he may forget which one it is he needs to remember.

 

A presence in the mist of soot. He lifted his head. The hiss of his own breath let heat stir the ashes around him anew. A dark figure shuddered into dim clarity.

“Listen, my apprentice.”

The dragon coiled tight in his stomach. Pebbles crumbled between his fingers.

“You will survive this, Lord Vader.” Sidious crouched down beside him, the flushed skin surrounding his scar of a grin. “Concentrate. Remember what you have learnt.”

Orders from his master but what will a master do when his slave burns alive save laugh more pebbles crushed under his hand.

Sidious’ hiss became a sing-song whisper. A lullaby for the dragon. “There is no peace, there is only passion.”

The dragon’s fire still seamed his skin. But he no longer shook, was no longer racked with convulsing shudders of pain. Passion, yet serenity.

“Through passion I gain strength.”

Breath gusting out like a breeze as his chest lifted from the glowing obsidian beneath. His tabards were charred though, hanging in crumbling strips. Fire and ice colliding in his veins, the chill of despair tempered by a burning certainty. Chaos, yet harmony.

“Through strength I gain power.”

Weights of what he’d lost held him down. Teeth gritted, jaw tight though it tore at weakened, ashy flesh. His eyes burned. But nothing else, not anymore. To burn was to give himself up to the dragon’s temptations. Emotion, yet peace.

“Through power I gain victory.”

In a flash of clarity through the soot and smoke-haze, he remembered. Padme’s shock as he’d asked if Obi-Wan was alive. Her agony as she’d collapsed. Obi-Wan’s horror. With the power of the flames gathering in flaring muscle as he drew himself upright, he understood it is, it is because I made it so. Like strings of an instrument the Force hummed its harmony with the realisation that made his jaw relax, letting the flying embers into him again. Ignorance, yet knowledge.

“Through victory my chains are broken.”

“Death, yet the Force.” Ghostly words whispered from beyond charred lips, a scorched throat. Sidious followed him to stand as he found himself balanced on something raw and hot, not flesh but something warmly akin to it, something the Force allowed to exist without contorting and crying out the way it did in Sidious’ heart. “The Force shall free me.

 

This figure in its eldritch verglas incandescence is so unlike my apprentice that something must have possessed him. Anakin Skywalker is weak, fragile, bound too tight by his own fear to break away from what he knows.

This spirit that has taken his place... I do not know it for Sith or Jedi. The heat, the passion, is something that no Jedi would condone. And yet... the ice that seals the fire, prevents it from doing harm... and the fire fails to melt the ice. Perhaps this creature is a traitor. Certainly a blasphemy in its mixing of the Jedi’s failures and our code.

But he still speaks with Anakin Skywalker’s voice, though it seems his throat is near destroyed. No matter. Words are for those like Tyranus, who can make effective use of them. Not stuttering, rambling weak-witted things like Skywalker.

 

The words came unbidden in the singing of the Force. “All I asked of you was that you would help me save Padmé.”

“And if in your anger...”

No.

The dragon in his stomach, the progenitor of all those little serpents that hissed between his ribs, in his ears, had risen to roar again. A ghost-flesh hand outstretched to Sidious’ throat. The hood fell away to reveal the eyes that shared the colour of the wounded landscape as Sidious’ breath became a wheeze, a tortured hiss like the one his own scorched lungs produced.

“You fed that fear.” Fingers tightening, cold around the soot that couldn’t fly away in time. “And you mean to make it flare brighter even now!

“Calm... yourself, my... apprentice.” The words weak between the gasps. As feeble as this master’s weakened by his own grasping at power body. “She... lives... for now. But without... you...”

“You would let her die.” Burn wounds blazed around the snarl that twisted his lips. Sidious twitched as his feet left the bank. Pebbles and soot slipped away beneath his boots, tumbling down the bank towards the river of fire that had spawned them. “I obeyed you because you told me you knew how to save her, and you would let her die!”

“You do not... know...”

“Ignorance, yet knowledge.” Sidious hovered among the storm of sparks in the air. The hot breeze tugged his hair over his eyes, but there was no more pain in the touch of hot rocks and burning air. Flurries of hot and cold, raining ice and fire, still spun between his ears. How long had he lain prone against the volcanic marble that lined the river? Padmé, Obi-Wan... they could be long gone but if I end Sidious’ rule here that is enough.

Flickering lightning burst in the air as Sidious twitched in his grip. “You are as foolish as your masters. Arrogant enough to think Jedi ways...”

The Force shall free me.” A burning hand closed into a fist, holding Sidious aloft. The yellow eyes rolled to expose whites flecked with soot. No more masters. Just him and the Force and none of you will fool me again!

 

He has become something else entirely. This is no Jedi, to attempt to murder me this way. And yet... there is so little Sith in him. His passion, his rage, it is far too controlled.

Not controlled, perhaps, so much as channelled. He has learnt... control over the suppression that I was always given to think the Jedi favoured. Yet what disciple of the Dark Side would choose to keep their passion so repressed save one who

 

Sidious kept gagging as he stared, breaths heaving in his chest. So little of his flesh left unscarred, but he could stand nonetheless. Some beautiful trick of the Force but how long will it last?

His eyes narrowed as he glared at Sidious. At this other master who had promised things he’d meant to take away all along. He turned to the river of orange flickers between the crust of darkness.

A twist of the arm and Sidious was flung out into the lava. His robes pooled over the crust of the river.

Perhaps that last pathetic call he heard was one of agony. The Sith Lord vanished into the fire that had taken the living flesh off him.

He turned from the river. His strides made no sound, not a single pebble shifting under his feet. He lifted his left hand – Obi-Wan had cut away flesh and blood, but some phantom remnant of the limb made of fire frozen in place still flexed with the tendons that he could still feel.

The Emperor was dead, and the Empire barely born. What now? What crimes can I answer for when death has failed to touch me?

Death, yet the Force. Whatever lay in store for this Empire built on sand and sand is quicker to fall apart underfoot than these pebbles he could at least seek out Obi-Wan and Padmé. If they will still look at me.

 

There is no ‘light’ and ‘dark’. Only the Force, and the ways it can be twisted.

Life lives and it suffers and it dies only to form the dirt from which new life will rise. Touch the Force and it will give rise to life unlike what most would know as such. Is it an act of darkness to raise such things, things that were never supposed to live? Or is it an act of light, to give shape to something that will not suffer for the mere crime of daring to live? Is that not what the Force wishes, for life to thrive?

Ah, but the living Force is only one side of the story.

 

Artoo began to squeak as he approached, rocking forwards and backwards. Like the droid was seeking an escape.

“It’s just me, Artoo.” Careful of the fiery aether that seemed to have taken the place of his limbs, Anakin bent down and put his right hand, the one of cold metal, atop Artoo’s dome head. “It’s time for us to leave.”

Artoo hesitated, before letting out a series of rapid, inquisitive beeps.

Anakin shook his head. “I... I was wrong. The Chancellor made promises he never meant to keep.”

Artoo rocked forward, letting out a dejected bloop.

“I have to try to talk to Obi-Wan and Padmé.” Anakin sighed as he straightened up. No pain, not even in the scars covering what flesh remained.

Artoo’s beep sounded much cheerier as the droid trundled around to the back of the ship. Anakin managed a smile through stiffening scars as he leapt up and hoisted himself into the cockpit.

The Force swept up a ghostly breeze around him, carrying presences and feelings from Hutts only knew where into his mind. He sat back in the cockpit and shut his eyes, letting it all just sink in for a moment.

Two familiar sparks hovered somewhere not that far away – not by hyperspace routes, at least – dimmed by something heavy weighing on them.

Obi-Wan and Padmé. He sighed as he opened his eyes and started the engine. The absence of the lightsabre on his belt still bothered him. No use dwelling on it.

Death, yet the Force. He could carry on, even in the world that Sidious had left behind before it could begin.

The Force shall free me.

jamaskywalker: Anakin Skywalker, ROTS, facing aside from the camera (Default)
2017-04-28 06:30 pm

Vader's Suit/Culpability Ramble

 Cross-posted from Tumblr, as usual because I keep forgetting this is an account I have. There's some interesting commentary on the Tumblr version of the post; this is just my original half-formed ramble that could probably do with a more thorough analysis.


Vader’s suit as a method of control is an interesting thing balanced against the typical standard that his immoral actions are his own and he must be held responsible for them. That suit has an off switch, for heaven’s sake, it’s Slave Transmitter 2.0 for Anakin in that respect. He’s had his bodily integrity yanked out from under him, and under those parameters he can hardly be considered a free agent.
 
But it’s indirect control. I’d imagine he kills a great many people over the course of his time as the Emperor’s dragon that he’s never explicitly ordered to kill. And the general torturing that goes on is probably even more excessive. He’s not having his every move dictated by someone with a remote control.
 
And that suit is so solidly baked into him, removing it could well be catastrophic. The role he’s been forced into is so deeply entrenched in his thinking that he probably couldn’t just snap out of it if he tried.
 
Plus he did do something independently to make him a Sith Lord in the first place, the suit came later. Implicit slavery comes very naturally to Anakin. The suit may well have been overkill on Sidious’ part, given Anakin’s past, but Sidious isn’t one to take unnecessary chances.
 
Vader may honestly be a slave of his own head as much as the suit, and it makes delineating between what he has responsibility for and what he doesn’t a little tricky. In the end it all seems to come down to the fact that he never learnt how to disobey.
jamaskywalker: Anakin Skywalker, ROTS, facing aside from the camera (Default)
2016-10-26 06:54 pm

Luke Skywalker, the Space Ace


Cross-posted from Tumblr; written for Asexual Awareness Week.

One of the things that makes me happy about the aroace Luke Skywalker headcanon I’m so fond of is that it subverts the old trope about the ultimate expression of love being romance and ergo sex.
 
His capacity to love is a major point in Luke’s journey. Hell, he managed to redeem Darth Vader thanks to his ability to love ol’ Vader despite his flaws. (And while I love Anakin dearly, there is bad decision-making and then there is Anakin Skywalker a few kilometres out. It’s a lot easier to feel sorry for the guy when your galaxy isn’t the one he made scrambled eggs of.)
 
And if Luke’s love and compassion for Vader aren’t a pretty significant display of the Power of Love, I don’t know what is. We are talking about pulling an entire galaxy out of two decades of tyranny here, just by reminding one guy that he isn’t irredeemably unlovable.
 
But if Luke is aroace (and my headcanon has him be aroace in much the way I am, because my headcanon), it makes the way he loves and expresses love deviate from what our amatonormative world assumes. Obviously in dealing with his father, everything’s based in familial love, but hey, let’s not pretend like folks who are none the wiser don’t occasionally assume that no romantic/sexual love is the same as no love at all.
 
Personally, I’m still deeply uncomfortable using the word ‘love’ to describe my feelings about people (unless it’s about fictional characters, because they’re not here to take it the wrong way). We do not live in a world that recognises any significant feelings about other people that I might have as legitimate or important, because the things regarded as the ultimate expressions of love are both beyond my experience. (I’m still cranky about that assembly one teacher gave where he got onto the importance and beauty of romance.) It’s isolating, and perhaps more importantly, embittering. And bitterness is an emotional paralytic.
 
Luke being able to express his own love without it looking like what Western culture often reserves the word ‘love’ for makes the galaxy far far away much more welcoming to people like me. And hey, it’s fantasy-with-science-words media, escapism is kind of the idea! It also gives back a bit of the emotional agency that stereotypes painting people like me as ‘heartless’ try to take away.
 
Plus Mark Hamill said that Luke Skywalker can be whatever fans want him to be. So there’s that.
jamaskywalker: Anakin Skywalker, ROTS, facing aside from the camera (Default)
2016-08-02 07:46 pm

The Anakin Skywalker Rant

Cross-posted from Tumblr.
 
Alternative title the first: All the reasons Jama is so easily excited when it comes to talking about Anakin Skywalker’s prequel arc.
Alternative title the second: Jama needs to stop overidentifying with fictional characters that do terrible things; it may be an issue.
 
Alternative title the third: Yes I am well aware this is nigh incoherent it’s a formless rant that’s evolved over the years just take it for what it is.
 
So. Anakin Skywalker. We were first introduced to him as the black-suited guy in a mask by the name Darth Vader. The great villain of the Star Wars original trilogy; Sheev Palpatine may have been the man behind the curtain, but it’s the wheezy breathing and robotic voice that really got people scared.
 
Also, he’s the father of our hero Luke Skywalker, and genius princess senator general Leia Organa. (As an aside, the first time I watched The Empire Strikes Back, I almost refused to believe Vader when he said ‘No. I am your father’. Then my mother told me that yes, he was Luke’s father, and I shut up.)
 
Then we got the prequel trilogy. I don’t have to extend that sentence any further. Despite earning much more at the box office, they’re commonly reviled and looked down on by casual and… vocally not casual fans alike. The issues of male-dominated nerd culture aside, the prequels get a lot of stick, as does their portrayal of Anakin Skywalker, the poor desert child who got dragged into the Jedi Order and a code he didn’t believe in, to be manipulated by a man of superhuman cunning towards creating an Empire out of a failing democracy. Oh, and Anakin went along with it because he thought he’d have a chance to save someone he loved that way.
 
Where do we start?
 
Lil’ kid Anakin is a reckless little guy (podracing, anyone?), but sensitive and kind. He wants to help the Jedi who comes into the shop where he works, but he also wants them to be there to help people. It bears pointing out (and repeating) that at this point in his life, Anakin is a slave. His compliance is guaranteed by a bomb inside his body.
 
Why the hell should that little kid already sound like Darth Vader? He’s nine years old, for heaven’s sake. A kid who was acting like Darth Vader at that age, even Qui-Gon the Reckless should have had second thoughts. That’s not how Anakin works.
 
And again, this is a kid who’s lived in fear his entire life. Even freed, he’s dealing with the Jedi Order, who already don’t trust him because he has a high number of midi-chlorians (say what you like about them as a plot device, but lil’ Ani probably doesn’t have much context for them, so he probably doesn’t see the big deal), and, also again, he’s nine years old. Kids who’re given the impression that they’re inherently untrustworthy at that age can struggle to work past it, especially if the message comes from someone with authority.
 
(No, I’m not speaking from personal experience there at all, why do you ask?)
 
So then we get to AOTC Anakin and his ‘unnecessary’ whininess. To that complaint I say: weren’t you complaining about his not being Vader-y enough last film? We all knew he was going to become Darth Vader; he was never going to be a well-adjusted and content member of society or the Jedi Order. He needs to whine and complain and get angry for dubious reasons just to have the groundwork for Darth Vader.
 
‘But if he’s going to be Darth Vader, why does he need to be sensitive and fall in love with Padme and make such a big deal out of his mother’s death?’
 
Um…
 
You know that thing he did back in Return of the Jedi (which is ORIGINAL TRILOGY) where he renounced the Dark Side and got to come back as his old self?
 
He can’t be evil by virtue of, you know, generally being an evil person. If Darth Vader is through and through awful, the redemption scene makes no sense at all. Sure, those dark aspects of his character have got to push him far enough to kneel to Palpatine (another fun fact about my watching experience: I could not watch that scene where Anakin kneels straight through. I had to pause it and go eat and then try not to crumble watching it. Good thing I was home alone), but it’s bad decisions and faulty information that led him there. That is important, and if you want to argue with me about that I’ll want an excellent essay on how precisely you would go about setting up his redemption without assuming that Padme was right and there was still good in him. (I typo’ed that last sentence as ‘there was still god in him’ first time through, just so you know.)
 
And that makes his relationships important. He’s got to care about people, because helping people is what gets him stuck. It’s loyalty taken too far. And also loyalty to the wrong people.
 
(I hate Palpatine for a lot of reasons. Perhaps the least sensible one is the fact that he’s the token INTJ of the Star Wars franchise. We’re always the damn villain.)
 
To mop up the glaring loose end: Anakin’s wooden behaviour in AOTC and ROTS. To explain this, may I direct you to the Jedi Code and their disregard for the expression of strong emotion? Of course that doesn’t sit well with Anakin. He’s an emotional person, that’s how he works, and now he’s got to pretend not to be just to measure up to Obi-Wan the Meticulous. Emotional repression, it’s not a reach to figure that out. That’s what people do when they’ve learnt that expressing emotion will get them into trouble.
 
(No personal experience to speak of here either, no siree.)
 
TL;DR: Anakin needed to be maladjusted and awkward to become the Vader people were waiting for, and he needed to be sensitive and caring to set up the climactic moment of the original trilogy.