The gothic arches of the Count's citadel jut out from the clouds high above the asphalt plains of Geonosis. Count Dooku strides into the dimly lit hangar hidden at its peak, followed by a personal contingent of droids. He hears the hum of an intruder's lightsaber snapping the droids to bits. He turns slowly to face his challenger, feeling no fear.
With a wave of his hand, Obi-Wan Kenobi brushes the droid remains into a pile in the corner and grips his saber tight. "Traitor!"
"Back down now, Master Kenobi," Dooku says quite calmly. "My Jedi powers are far beyond yours." In demonstration of this, he raises his hand and lets forth a crackling stream of Force lightning.
Obi-Wan holds his ground and trusts in his training, raising his lightsaber. The saber attracts and absorbs the electrical attack, leaving him untouched.
"I don't think so," Obi-Wan smirks.
Dooku shrugs his cape back over his shoulders and draws his lightsaber. Its handle is curved in a way that allows him to spin it with only a slight movement of his wrist, and its blade glows blood red.
The sight of the Sith lightsaber pushes Obi-Wan over the edge. He comes in hard and fast, aiming for Dooku's head, but Dooku easily parries the blow. Obi-Wan strikes again and again, glowering intently through tousled hair. Dooku counters these attacks with grace, standing tall with one hand behind his back, master of an ancient fighting style that Obi-Wan has only read about. When Dooku jumps to avoid a low swing, his upper body barely moves at all. Yet he does not gloat over the ease of it; his face remains grim and troubled.
"Master Kenobi, you disappoint me. Master Yoda holds you in such high esteem. Surely you can do better!"
It's not a taunt, it's a challenge, spoken as if Dooku's greatest wish is to be cut down now. Obi-Wan is more than willing to oblige.
But that is not meant to be. For a moment their sabers lock together, and a grin of insanity and pain flashes across Dooku's face. Then with two quick cuts, Obi-Wan collapses to the ground, wounded in the thigh and shoulder. Dooku raises his saber to deliver the death blow.
Anakin Skywalker sprints into the hangar. Inches from Obi-Wan's nose, red lightsaber meets green.
"You're going to pay for all the Jedi you killed today, Dooku!" growls Anakin.
"That's brave of you, boy--but foolish," says Dooku. "I would have thought you'd learned your lesson."
"I'm a slow learner."
Grimacing in pain, Obi-Wan reaches out and calls his lightsaber back to his hand. "Anakin, catch!" he shouts, tossing it to his padawan. Anakin catches it and faces Dooku with blue in one hand and green in the other.
The twirling fury of Anakin's sabers drives Dooku back, away from Obi-Wan, and the old Count finally starts to break a sweat. It takes all his concentration to deflect Anakin's rapid attacks, but finally he is able to slip in and slice the hilt of Anakin's green saber. Anakin tosses his broken saber aside and leaps backwards, spinning Obi-Wan's blue saber in his hand as he returns to a single-saber stance.
The student and rebel stand with their lightsabers raised over their heads, assessing one another. Then they lunge in unison, each strike both attack and defense. They are evenly matched in strength and speed, making this a battle of wits, with each combatant looking for the chance to drive the other into a vulnerable position. Anakin nearly gets there, and Dooku must swing his lightsaber through a power conduit to block the blow. Sparks fly, and the blue and red light of their weapons flickers across two dark figures as the hangar fills with shadows.
Then it is over. Dooku cuts off Anakin's arm above the elbow. As the shock of it spreads across Anakin's face, Dooku pushes him back with the Force. Ani's body falls onto the droid scrap heap like a rag doll. Dooku slouches with exhaustion that runs much deeper than this battle.
But it's not over. One more opponent saunters in to prevent his escape.
"Master Windu," Dooku says in greeting, resuming his dignified posture.
Mace Windu stands with his hands folded in his robe.
"Dooku," he says sternly.
"You have interfered with our plans for the last time," the Count says, letting forth a blast of Force lightning.
The leader of the Jedi Knights need not even draw his lightsaber to defend himself. Mace raises his hand and the energy coalesces into a white hot ball in his palm. He throws this right back at a surprised Dooku, who barely dodges.
"The power of the Dark Side will not save you," says Windu.
"I have become more powerful than any Jedi," brags Dooku, "Even our old Master."
"You could never accept that Master Yoda favored me over you. Of all the noble reasons to decline membership on the Council, you chose your path out of jealousy and spite. And now your ego threatens the entire galaxy. Today it ends."
"This is just the beginning," Dooku laughs, more at himself than at Windu.
"I should have done this a long time ago."
Mace Windu's unique violet lightsaber ignites, and Yoda's two most powerful students clash in destined combat.
Meanwhile, Anakin lies on the pile of droid parts, delirious with agony. The few coherent thoughts penetrating through his wrath and sorrow come from the small part of his mind that views everything as a problem to be solved. Pain can be mastered, but if he is going to rejoin the fight, he will need an arm. He acts on instinct, summoning power he doesn't know he has. Something in the junk pile begins to move.
Windu's strikes carry a power that overwhelms Dooku's skillful form. The rebel abandons subtlety, both hands gripping his lightsaber like a padawan, while the ground cracks beneath his feet with each blow.
Dooku retreats backwards. Windu throws a punch from afar, the Force carrying the strike to Dooku's jaw. Then a kick to the stomach. And another punch to the jaw.
"Yield!" Windu commands, "or I will kill you!"
"That's the only way," Dooku mutters, wiping blood from his face. "It's always been the only way." He draws himself up. "The Force has spoken a name for me, Jedi. I am Tyranus, Dark Lord of the Sith!"
"Then you must die," Windu says solemnly, charging.
Dooku thrusts the red blade of his saber into the floor, sending waves of Force lightning down through it. The saber lodges itself there, and glowing orange cracks spread out from it. The entire building quakes. Archways crumble.
Boulders break from the ceiling and plummet toward Obi-Wan's unconscious body. Windu sheaths his saber and reaches out with the Force, catching them just in time. Every muscle in Mace's body strains as he struggles to hold the trembling citadel together.
Dooku reaches out, and Anakin's severed limb flies into his grasp. He turns to Anakin lying on the junkpile. "Thank you for this!" he says. After glancing to confirm that Windu remains occupied, the Count turns to his ship. Then he senses a rising presence behind him, and looks back again.
There stands Anakin Skywalker, the arm of a battle droid where his own should have been. His metal hand pulls Dooku's red saber from the concrete floor and raises it above his head. He roars so mightily that a wind rises around him.
Behind and beneath Skywalker, Master Yoda hobbles into the hangar. Leaning on his walking stick, he shuts his eyes and sighs with grief.
Darth Tyranus dashes onto his ship, and it rockets away as soon as he's through the hatch.
Anakin extinguishes the saber and drops it, panting as his rage subsides.
Padme enters behind Yoda. "Ani!" she shouts, running to him.
He reaches out and touches her face, feeling the warmth and wetness of her cheek beneath his cold steel fingers. Then he passes out.