(Originally posted and deleted twice. Decided to post one last time. Reopened and edited for the present era). Title: Prisoner Author: leiamoody Timeframe: Between post-ROTS and post-ROTJ Characters: Anakin, OC's (The Mistress, The Keeper) Author's Notes: This is my vision of what Anakin's time in the Netherworld might be like, with the understanding for the first half of the story that he is physically alive but spiritually dead. Basically, his soul split into two halves right after he became Darth Vader. One half doesn't remember who or what he was, the other remembers all too well. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A Prisoner In The Dark Valley This is death. His name still remains forgotten. All names here were to remain forgotten and unknown, except for the name of this place...The Dark Valley, a space in the Netherworld where he had been since...how long? How long had he been here, doing nothing more than wandering the shores of Bittersweet Dark, trapped in by the high mountains of black dust, swallowed up by the sky with no stars? And where was the beginning? What made this happen? What event in time brought him here? Time...it felt vaguely familiar. Moments forming years...different links in a chain binding together that was called... Only death is true now. The Mistress spoke. Her voice was made of softness and sadness. She was a form of twisting darkness, deeper than the lightless water of the lake he could not cross. Look at what your sins have brought you. It was raining. The rain of living essence...life? That was what moments bound together were called! The Mistress whirled about his head. Death is the only reality for you, Ani. It is your only truth. She swam down past his shoulder, and spread out above the dark grass of the dead field. You are to remain here in this valley, until your two selves can be rejoined. His two selves? What did that mean? The Mistress ascended into the midnight sky with no moon or any other celestial light to illuminate the scene. He did not care. There was nothing to make him aware enough to give him a reason to care about anything. The Dark Valley was the place of loss of care. Nothing existed but the darkness and the river and the smoky sky and the Mistress. And his name did not exist. But the Mistress had called him something...Ani. Nothing, it meant nothing. It felt like a name...and she had called him that word, so it must be his name. If he could remember his identity, then why he was trapped here might finally be revealed. From the farthest shore the Mistress spoke without voice once again. You are here for atonement. Atonement, another word with no meaning. Think of sins, Ani. That word again: Ani. And now yet another one that was not familiar...but there was a feeling...sins. Blood. Sins. The living essence pours out from the body at the end of life, that state which is called death, when all sins have been committed. Death comes most painfully to those who have created the most heinous sins. "Pain is my truth. My sins are the reflection of my pain." His voice uttered those words. The first time he could remember having the ability to speak since... The twisted dead grey trees sitting high on the mountains murmured with the cold and metallic voice of an unlikely breeze. The voice breathed...the breathing was mechanical. The sound was not the breathing of life, but the breathing of a life that wasn't alive. But how could that be? Dead things do not breathe. But if the breathing was mechanical, then it belonged to an artificial life form. Something that never was alive, so it could never be dead. "A machine is not man, but a man can be a machine." Once again there was the sound of his voice. Perhaps the strange breathing had once been his as well. But he could not remember. "Who was I?" He called out to the twisted trees and the darkling river and the looming mountains of black dust. "Tell me!" But no one heard him. And no one could help him.