The Sidious Solution, Part One: Liberation and Revelation

 

In my last essay, I sketched a narrative problem I observed within the setting of the Star Wars prequels. As the title to this piece suggests, here is where I will attempt to solve that problem, though in a somewhat roundabout manner.

What follows is an alternate history of the Star Wars galaxy, a multi-part narrative that will proceed from a clear and sharp point of divergence. Though its initial catalyst was certainly my analysis of the Palpatine Problem, I have tried to imbue it with many more meanings besides.

For me, it was a delightful attempt at writing some overly formal fanfiction; for you, dear reader, I hope it proves to be an interesting, entertaining, and perhaps inspiring narrative. We begin this story in a familiar place, the planet of Tatooine…

 

Chapter One

What is there to say about Anakin Skywalker? At present, he is many things: a teenager, a mechanic, and above all, a slave. His current master, the junk-dealer Watto, has forced him to pursue a career in podracing, a dangerous sport even under the best of circumstances. Although his intuitions are sharpened by a strong but dormant Force sensitivity, he finds himself closer to the edge of survival with each passing race. One day, this fifteen-year-old finally runs out of luck, crashing his pod on a dark, tunneled course. Though some of parts of his wreckage are retrieved, the boy is nowhere to be found. With Anakin presumed dead, his mother Shmi enters a long period of mourning. After a few years, she is freed by and subsequently married to a local moisture farmer. Little does she know that her son is still alive, though not in any manner she may have imagined.

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In a twist of alternate fate, young Anakin has come into adulthood among the Tusken Raiders. Although his initial capture by these natives was cause for much mutual hostility, Anakin’s natural compassion and sordid life experience gradually made him attentive to the plight of these marginalized nomads, a sympathy which ultimately broke down the cultural barrier between them. Now almost in his twenties, the eager Skywalker aids his adopted nation in their raids upon the colonial moisture farmers, all the while planning a personal campaign to free the slaves and chase out the Hutts. Unfortunately, because Anakin’s ambitions have made his fellow warriors into a more effective and aggressive force, Tatooine’s ‘civilized’ populace is only driven further into the hands of their criminal overlords, to whom they pay precious protection money. Ultimately, a vicious circle of retributive violence gradually turns the planet into a hotbed of native insurrection and Hutt-sponsored counter-measures.

In time, Tatooine’s turmoil even attracts the attention of the faraway Jedi Order, who dispatch master Qui-Gon Jinn to resolve the matter. Though he is a member of the Jedi Council, many Jedi privately condemn Qui-Gon as a maverick and an idealist; as it so happens, he personally agrees with these judgments, yet considers them positives. His mission to Tatooine is about to become an example of this. Rather than follow the expected course of peaceful reconciliation, Qui-Gon takes a more partisan approach. He aggressively seeks out the attention of the Tusken Raiders, meeting the mysterious Skywalker upon his intentional capture. Brought together by the Will of the Force, Anakin and Qui-Gon become friends almost immediately, and quickly settle into an intuitive dynamic of master and apprentice. Motivated by their shared sense of social justice, these outsiders are soon working together on a decisive strike against the evil masters of Tatooine.

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Pursuing the noble struggle against Hutt tyranny, Anakin Skywalker has managed to build up a coalition of Tatooine’s lower classes. Tuskens, Jawas, and slaves are clashing daily with the disorganized mercenaries that protect this planet’s cities and palaces. But caught in between these warring sides are the ‘middle classes’ of Tatooine, those traders and farmers who resent Hutt extortion as much as they fear potential social revolution. Increasingly disillusioned with the protection their masters have to offer, they are the ones who alerted the Jedi in the first place; of course, now that the Jedi emissary appears to have chosen the side of the natives, they are feeling quite betrayed. Tatooine’s social fabric is tearing at the seams, and Qui-Gon is well aware of the bloodshed that would accompany his failure. Yet this does not prevent his first diplomatic move from being a bold one, for he allows Anakin and his comrades to foment a slave uprising across Mos Espa.

Contrary to all expectations, the Mos Espa uprising proves to be a well-ordered affair. The local slaves, having disabled their explosive implants thanks to Anakin’s mechanical expertise, easily overtake the few centers of government within the town. With most of its droid defenses shut down as a result, an occupying garrison of Tusken raiders is brought into the town peacefully. Finally, thanks to some good leadership by the duo of Force-wielders, any subsequent violence or looting is kept to a minimum. Taken together, it appears that this first step towards revolution is an absolute success.

But Revolution breeds Reaction, and the surprise takeover of Mos Espa causes local settlement leaders to question their position in this conflict. Each of them wonders whether to side with the tide of popular revolt, or stick with the familiar evil of the Hutts. In order to debate the issue collectively, these leaders eventually gather at a relatively non-descript moisture farm, news of which then leaks to Anakin’s forces. Eager to present himself in both an inviting and intimidating manner, the young Tusken commander leads a ceremonial guard to the covert meeting, not knowing that his own mother is among those present.

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With so many unknowns leading into the situation, the standoff at Lars Homestead inevitably turns explosive. Not only do the gathered delegates mistake Anakin’s maneuver for an attack, but the resulting crossfire almost sees Shmi Skywalker caught in the middle. In the end, it takes the heroic intervention of Qui-Gon Jinn to save the poor woman, holding off both sides in a tremendous display of Force power. Luckily, this interruption allows cooler heads to prevail, and a ceasefire leads into peaceful negotiations. In the end, the two parties conclude that they have a shared interest in combating the Hutts, and should form a united front for independence. Furthermore, the majority of those present wish to appeal to the Republic for aid and recognition of their struggle. For this purpose, a delegation representing all of Tatooine’s peoples is to be sent to Coruscant, one which naturally includes Qui-Gon, Anakin, and Shmi.

Though most military battles are yet to be won, Tatooine’s ongoing revolution has already won its spiritual victory in the unified resolve of its lower classes. What none yet suspect is that this display of popular solidarity will reverberate throughout the galaxy in years to come, with the seeds for further conflict being laid in this relatively small Outer Rim uprising. And whatever conflagration is ahead, the involvement of Qui-Gon Jinn and Anakin Skywalker is already assured, even if they do not know it yet themselves.

Chapter Two

Something is troubling the Jedi Council. More specifically, their sense of the Force has been disturbed. According to master Yoda, the Force now stirs with a restless energy, with the potential for both great good and great evil contained within it. Some pivotal event appears to have confused its regular dynamics, throwing all prophesied futures off course. Whatever that could be, it is not their immediate concern. At present, they are all attending the knighting ceremony of Obi-Wan Kenobi, proud padawan of Qui-Gon Jinn. It is to this young Jedi that our story now turns.

For his first assignment, Obi-Wan Kenobi is sent to the planet Rattatak, where fellow Knight Ky Narec has been fighting an independent crusade against local pirates. In pursuing this campaign, Obi-Wan becomes well-acquainted with Narec’s apprentice, a mysterious Dathomirian named Asajj Ventress. While the three of them make for a good team in combating the planet’s Weequay raiders, their final strike sees Narec sacrifice himself for the safety of his juniors. And so, while peace is restored to Rattatak, the two surviving Jedi find themselves in a suppressed state of grief. Having only each other as comfort, Ventress and Kenobi return to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant.

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To their surprise, Asajj and Obi-Wan are paired up again for their next mission. They are to serve as attaches to Master Dooku, the Count of Serenno. Dooku has been following up on a trail of Sith influence, one that appears to have gone dead some time ago. It is this search which brings him and his two companions to Moraband, a resting place for legendary Sith. Here, they make a most startling discovery. A long-looted tomb contains the bodies of Hego Damask and Sheev Palpatine, a Mygeeto lobbyist and Naboo politician respectively. Though they are the victims of an unfortunate rock collapse, a further investigation reveals them to be former wielders of the Dark Side, with the most likely conclusion being their designation as Sith Lords. Yet this leads the trio of Jedi to a baffling observation: if these were master and apprentice, and there can be only two Sith at a time, then this previously unknown accident must have wiped out the entire Order. In other words, the Sith are no more.

Upon hearing of Dooku’s findings on Moraband, the Jedi Council is utterly confused. While the destruction of the Sith is cause for celebration, the manner in which it has occurred defies all their expectations about the Force and its Will. Was it not the Chosen One who would destroy the Sith and bring balance to the Force? And if this state of balance has now been achieved, why is the galaxy still in a political and spiritual chaos? Perhaps all traces of the Dark Side must be destroyed in order for true balance to reign. If so, then Dooku and his associate Jedi must redouble their efforts, and wipe out any bit of darkness that would remain in the galaxy. This will be their task.

The next few years see Ventress and Kenobi crisscross the galaxy in search of Dark Side cults, ghosts, and artifacts. Inevitably, of course, this quest brings them to Dathomir, home to Asajj’s fellow Nightsisters. She has personally prepared for this contingency, and on arrival the pair of Jedi is confronted by Mother Talzin and her coven of Force Witches. However, the true brilliance of Asajj’s plan is revealed when Qui-Gon Jinn emerges from this group of foes, imploring Kenobi to lay down his arms. Though Obi-Wan initially suspects his former master to be a witch’s illusion, he proves trusting enough to engage him verbally.

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Defending the existence of the Nightsisters, Qui-Gon argues that the current crusade against the Dark Side is born from fear and ignorance, and that the potential evil of Dathomir’s magic does not justify the destruction of its native community. A true Jedi must foster peace and understanding, neither of which are achieved through heavy-handed orthodoxy.

Though Obi-Wan briefly considers the Master Jedi’s wise words, he ultimately comes to reject them. The Nightsisters are not exactly innocents, and the presence of the Dark Side cannot be tolerated. With the elimination of the Sith, total Jedi victory is closer than ever: why should they let these philosophical considerations get in the way of galactic harmony? But Obi-Wan’s decision to fight proves futile, since it us at this point that Ventress betrays him in person. The young Jedi Knight is knocked out from behind by his companion, after which he is taken into the witches’ lair. Despite Qui-Gon’s feeble protests, Kenobi is brought under a permanent spell of amnesia. With everyone involved in this affair swearing themselves to silence, the incident on Dathomir is successfully covered up. As far as anyone on the Jedi Council knows, the Nightsisters were already long extinct when Ventress and Kenobi got there.

Once more, the seeds for future discord have been planted. Qui-Gon Jinn has clearly defied the will of the Council with his actions on Dathomir, and it is only a matter of time before their diverging philosophies will clash openly. Meanwhile, Ventress is still accompanying her dear Obi-Wan, although she feels great guilt for doing to him what he does not (and can not) know about. All in all, it seems that despite the demise of the Sith, the galaxy is anything but peaceful. Even if their disappearance allows the universe to be in balance again, dark times are sure to precede this ultimate dawn…

END OF PART 1

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First Interlude:

Ahsoka hunched down next to the door. Inside, they were deciding on the fates of herself and her now former master; in all likelihood, she would be much better off than him. How could she have done this, she wondered. She did not regret her decision on a rational level, but it had taken a terrifying amount of courage to break the sacred oath between master and apprentice. Of course, the personal betrayal of Jedi Master Plo Koon was not her first act of insubordination: that would have been when she started sneaking military secrets into the hands of the Separatists. Since that was all going to come out sooner or later, she had fled to this DFIS stronghold, taking her master along if only to protect him from the dark aura that now surrounded the Jedi Order.

While she was pondering the weight of her actions, the door slid open and a mysterious figure emerged. He was clearly a Force-Wielder, or impersonating one by virtue of owning a lightsaber. Yet his garb was unlike that of a Jedi, resembling more the ragged robes of a desert nomad. Looking up, she saw the war-worn face of a young adult, handsome features obscured by a messy tangle of auburn hair. He looked around with a sense of bewilderment, but turned up a smile as his eyes fell on the teenage Togruta.

“I know it may not feel like the right thing, but you did good, kid. Even if Master Koon is still a little angry with us, I think he almost respects you for such a bold move.”

Ahsoka felt vulnerable talking to a stranger, though she tried to put up a façade of bravery. That had taken her this far already, and there was no use to breaking down now.

“Thanks. I know I’m not supposed to be here, but there’s nowhere else for me to go. I don’t know anyone here except for Barriss, and they said she was off on some assignment. I swear I’m not listening in on you, eh, sir.”

“Ha, I wouldn’t blame you if you were. And it’s not like we should keep this stuff from you; you’re just as much a part of this now as we are. Still, I know how it sucks to be a stranger among friends, so let me solve that by introducing myself. My name is Anakin Skywalker, wannabe Jedi and professional sand-person. Now how about you?”

“I’m Ahsoka Tano, the worst Padawan in the whole Jedi Order. Nice to meet you.”

“Well, Worst-Padawan-Ahsoka-Tano, I hope you trust Master Qui-Gon’s judgment. I think he just made me your new master.”

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