How We Fell
Chapter 2: How We Fell
Buffy Summers had never made it out of the collapsing Hellmouth. The First had been defeated, its army of Uber-vampires burnt to ashes, all its plans brought to ruin. All over the world girls that’d had the potential to one day become the Slayer found themselves imbued with a strength not of this world. The balance between good and evil had shifted forever and the good guys were now ahead by leaps and bounds.
None of which did anything to ease the sorrow of those that did make it out of Sunnydale: Rupert Giles, Willow Rosenburg, Xander Harris, Robin Wood, Andrew Wells, Dawn Summers, and Faith Lehane, along with the surviving Potentials-turned-Slayers. All of them looked back at the devastation that had once been a town and could think only of those they had left behind. Chief among them the golden Slayer that had led them to victory.
Things moved fast afterwards. There were now thousands of Slayers all over the world, thousands of teenage girls that needed someone to tell them what they were and to teach them to get a handle on their new powers. The old Watchers Council, a group of greedy old men who had long lost sight of their organisation’s original goals, had been blown to smithereens by agents of the First. It was the dawn of a new day.
For Faith, now the oldest living Slayer and last of the original line, it meant being thrust into a position of leadership she had never asked for, nor felt competent to handle. Her one attempt at leadership during the battles in Sunnydale had almost ended in disaster. Now she was supposed to guide a thousand girls instead of just a dozen or two?
No one was more surprised than herself when she found herself stepping up and doing a decent job. Sure, she had lots of help from the people around her, but there were some things only a Slayer could teach to another Slayer and it wasn’t long before even those newly called Slayers who had witnessed her failure in Sunnydale found themselves looking up at her in admiration. Faith was truly coming into her own as Slayer Prime, as she was now called.
The memory of the woman who should have stood in her place continued to haunt her, though. Buffy should have survived. She had died twice before and hadn’t let it stop her, why hadn’t she made it through this time?
The years passed quickly. The world was safer than it had ever been before. The forces of darkness, it seemed, were in full retreat. This worried the leaders of the New Council of Watchers and Slayers more than they were prepared to admit. For they had long accepted that light and darkness, good and evil, were like night and day. Neither could exist without the other, neither would ever go away completely.
So when Faith arrived at the Council HQ one morning and found herself facing the demon known only as Whistler, she realized that the other shoe was about to drop. She just didn’t except to be a quite that big a shoe.
Two days ago:
“Her arrival was accompanied by a great ripple in the Force,” Obi-Wan explained, doing his best to bring this strange newcomer up to speed on the events surrounding Darth Sumar’s ascension. “Those of the Jedi Order that could use the Force to catch glimpses of the future predicted she would be instrumental in bringing down the Sith Lord that had plagued us all for so long. Looking back, I guess they were right about that. Just not in the way we thought they would be.”
The woman known as Faith simply watched, the disbelief still quite evident on her face. He knew little about her, only that she had apparently known the woman once called Buffy Summers in another life and had been sent here to stop her. Only she had trouble believing that her friend had actually become what Obi-Wan knew she was.
“She joined the Jedi who were attempting to find out the Sith Lord’s identity,” Obi-Wan continued. “At that time the Clone Wars had just begun and chaos reigned across the galaxy. The Jedi were made into warriors and generals, something we had never intended to be, and the dark side was clouding everything around us. We were, I fear, quite blind to what was really going on.”
“What about B?” Faith asked. “How did she take suddenly finding herself in this place?”
Obi-Wan shook his head, the memories floating to the surface quite unbidden. “She seemed to be... resigned, I think is the best term. Unhappy, but accepting. As if such things had happened to her before. You must understand, the Jedi Order had grown... inflexible and restrictive by then, I see that now. I didn’t then. We treated Summers like we would have a Jedi Knight. We were, I’m afraid, quite blind to the turmoil going on inside of her.”
Only now, in hindsight, did Obi-Wan have an inkling of what had really happened all these years ago. Buffy Summers had been a warrior for the light side on her own world for many years and had been quite battle weary. Then, at the end of yet another great battle, she had been transported to Obi-Wan’s world, apparently at the hands of some kind of superior beings and without her consent, to aid in the fight against the darkness of the Sith.
What neither her own masters nor the Jedi Council had considered or realised, though, was how frustrated and tired Buffy Summers had been already. And hailing from a world where the Force apparently worked in different ways than it did here, that state of mind had left her extremely vulnerable to the lure of the dark side.
“By the time we learned that the entire Clone Wars had been instigated by Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, who turned out to be the Sith Lord we had sought for so long, it was too late.”
“What happened to B?” Faith asked.
“I am not sure. I wasn’t there when it all went down. I was running around the galaxy like a fool, looking for enemies who were actually hidden but a stroll away from our own home. From what I could piece together afterwards... my Padawan student, Anakin Skywalker, was apparently the one to figure out Palpatine’s true identity and agenda. He reported to the Jedi Council and our strongest Masters went to confront and arrest Palpatine.
“By that time, though, your friend, Buffy, had already switched sides. I am note sure when exactly she fell under Palpatine’s influence, but she stood with him when he battled the Masters. Together they slaughtered them. She then led a troop of clone warriors into the Jedi temple and exterminated every living thing within its walls. Including Anakin.”
He paused, needing a moment to regain its composure. He knew that Anakin had ventured close to the dark side himself, knew he had been tempted. He was certain, though, that his student, his friend, his brother, would have triumphed eventually. He had never gotten the chance, though.
“Most of the Jedi were killed by the clone troopers then, shot in the back by the very troops they had been conscripted to command. A few of us managed to escape and we returned to Coruscant to try and pick up the pieces.”
He swallowed the bile rising in his throat. “Yoda, the oldest and most powerful of us all, went to confront Palpatine himself. The fight was recorded by security cameras and later used to brand us traitors in the eye of the public for trying to assassinate the Chancellor. It was Buffy Summers, now calling herself Darth Sumar, who killed Master Yoda. Only hours later Palpatine declared himself Emperor of the galaxy.”
He looked at Faith, seeing the disbelief still in her eyes. He could understand her. Apparently she and Buffy Summers had been quite close.
“That was eighteen years ago,” Obi-Wan concluded his story. “Six years later Palpatine died. As far as the public is concerned he was killed when one of the surviving Jedi traitors broke into the Imperial Palace and assassinated him. The truth is, though, that Darth Sumar killed him herself. That is the way of the Sith. The apprentice kills the master to take his place. Now she is empress of the galaxy and her rule is absolute.”
“That isn’t B,” Faith said, shaking her head. “She and I weren’t exactly best friends, but I know her. There is no way she could have done what you’re telling me.”
Obi-Wan shook his head. It appeared that there was really but one way to convince his new ally of the truth, no matter how stupid an idea it might be.
“We’ll arrive on Coruscant tomorrow, Faith. Then you can see for yourself.”
“This isn’t you, B,” Faith whispered, looking into the eyes of her sister Slayer, desperately searching for a hint of humanity in the depths of those hazel orbs.
A cruel smile played across the Empress’ crimson lips.
“I believe I told you,” she began, the air around her crackling with malevolence, “to KNEEL!”
Something invisible slammed into Faith with terrible force, wrapping itself around her throat and shoulders like a constricting snake. She couldn’t even scream before her air was cut off completely. A giant weight settled itself cruelly onto her shoulders and forced her to fall to her hands and knees, her joints screaming out in pain as they hit the cold metal floor hard.
Empress Sumar stood above the trembling form of her former sister-in-arms and laughed.
“There now, isn’t that better?”
End Chapter 2