The Sidious Solution, Part Four: War and Peace

Chapter Seven

Because it finally involved the galaxy’s spiritual powers into the emerging conflict, the declaration of the New Jedi Order on Jedha is generally taken as the official start of the Republic Civil War. In truth, there are too many stories to tell about this period, certainly more than I would dare grapple with in this summarized volume. Thus, I will speak here only of the most significant happenings, using the character threads I’ve established previously. Only when this war nears its end, will the pace of storytelling slow down again; after all, without a detailed account of the Battle of Coruscant, we cannot understand this war’s sudden and dramatic end.

Many years before that end, the war is only just beginning. On the Democratic Separatist side we find Anakin Skywalker, a revolutionary leader who has found himself involved in numerous liberatory struggles across the galaxy. In this state of constant warfare, it takes only a few months for Anakin to become exhausted and demoralized. As if answering to his desperation however, the Will of the Force allows for a new character to cross his path: Ahsoka Tano, his assigned padawan. While the need to instruct her in the ways of the Jedi is an additional challenge at first, her relative innocence about the universe is a breath of fresh air to the war-worn Skywalker. Together, they take to their tasks with renewed vigor, gradually building up a close coalition of compatriots around them.

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One of these new comrades is a former enemy, one whom Anakin had fought about a year ago during the Naboo Crisis. Eager to find allies in the war against the Republic, Qui-Gon Jinn has finally decided to call on Obi-Wan Kenobi, locating him on the backwater planet of Lothal. Here he finds Kenobi and Ventress both eager to join the fight, a fact which initially surprises him. But as Obi-Wan explains to the one he once called master, the violence of this young conflict has even affected these outlying reaches. Just a week ago, a corporate fleet raided Lothal’s capital, bombing it from orbit as they left. It appears that the Republic’s benefactors are pre-emptively punishing the very possibility of rebellion. The cruelty of this practice has angered Obi-Wan, who finally realizes that this war is not one he can escape from. Thus, he has resolved to fight, and he will do so at Qui-Gon’s side. As for Ventress, she has been waiting for this opportunity all along, and is just glad that her Jedi partner is along for the ride.

While the Jedi are resolving their allegiances, Padmé Amidala has been working on political matters. Appointed as the Foreign Minister of the largely decentralized DFIS government, her mission mostly consists of recruiting new systems into the alliance, a task she takes to with great fervor. One of these potential new allies is Mandalore, a planet which has remained stubbornly neutral and pacifistic despite its ancient warrior heritage. In order to bring this planet into the Separatist fold, Padmé makes a reluctant deal with the Death Watch, a group of Mandalorian traditionalists who wish to reawaken their old martial culture. This is a course of action she will come to regret, since much of Mandalore’s serene beauty is eventually lost in coups, counter-coups, and general military engagements. Then again, the Mandalorians do make for good warriors, and their planet is hardly the first one to be ravaged by the Republic Civil War. To some extent, regrettable choices are simply part of being a galactic diplomat; this is something which Amidala learns many times during the course of terrible conflict.

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Because every war requires soldiers, I want to spend the last section of this chapter talking about the clone army of Kamino. This army has its origins in the Republic’s distinct shortage of manpower early on in the war, which was the result of the Inner Rim elite being unwilling to add their own people to the soldiery. It was partly solved through the mass deployment of droid armies, which is why some would later call this galactic conflict ‘the Droid Wars’. On top of that however, the Republic also started looking into more unconventional ways of boosting manpower, such as the creation of artificial people. This is what lead them to order a Kaminoan clone army numbering in the millions, an operation that did not stay hidden from their enemies for long.

Our particular story begins as the initial batch of clone troopers is being readied for deployment. In response to DFIS intelligence about the army’s creation, Minister Amidala has come to Kamino with a most peculiar offer. She is willing to pay double of whatever price they charged the Republic, as long as they agree to free the clones instead. But when this generous offer is refused, Padmé moves on to more aggressive negotiations. Because these clones have been grown at a hyper-accelerated rate, they have not been subjected to the rigorous indoctrination of the standard Kaminoan program. As such, Democratic conspirators have been able to plant spies and agitators among the slave soldiers. At Amidala’s command, they incite an insurrection that quickly threatens to overwhelm the planet’s facilities. Jedi-led reinforcements soon arrive to aid the Clone Rebellion, and Anakin and Obi-Wan bond over their shared concern for these artificial souls. Indeed, their dedication to this cause is so great that it causes some clones to pledge personal loyalty to them, promising to join their crusade against slavery wherever else it may exist. And so it happens that even in this radically reshaped universe, Clone Commanders Rex and Cody still fight alongside Jedi Generals Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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Chapter Eight

There are many more stories to tell about the course of the Republic Civil War, yet they would likely distract from the greater picture I mean to sketch here. Instead, I believe we are ready to proceed to the war’s conclusions, to the infamous events on Coruscant that sealed the galaxy’s fate.

I begin this final tale by noting that as the ‘War of Democrat Aggression’ rages on in the Outer Rim, the Republic capital is itself suffering a local insurgence, with bands of resistance fighters effectively controlling some of the planet’s lower levels. By the time of our story, this resistance is already riddled with DFIS ‘advisors’, including Asajj Ventress and Barris Offee. It is these two who first manage to infiltrate the Coruscant Temple, using such access to recruit spies and smuggle out defectors. Through this operation, they also hear rumors of a Republic excavation project deep underneath the Jedi Temple, one that is supposedly removing vast quantities of secret materials. When one of the project’s leaders is kidnapped by the resistance, Ventress and Offee learn a most shocking truth: the Republic is building a superweapon, one that is powered by excavated Kyber crystals. When completed, it could wipe out an entire starfleet or planetary capital with a single shot. Since it would make a Republic victory all but assured, it needs to be stopped.

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Naturally, DFIS High Command is sent into quite a panic when they learn of this weapon, especially because it appears to be close to completion. As far as Coruscant’s resistance is aware, assembly is taking place right in the Republic capital itself, which given its planetary defenses would be a near-impossible target for the ragtag Democratic fleet. Nevertheless, there seems to be no other option but to throw every ship they have at the problem, and see if they can’t prevent this weapon from being deployed.

Interrupting these desperate deliberations, it is Padmé who suggests a more nuanced, if equally unorthodox course of action. If they wish to disable this weapon, they should take out its main source of power, the vein of Kyber crystals beneath the Jedi Temple. This can best be achieved by a small force of infiltrators, such as a Jedi strike team aided by local Coruscant forces. While they will still need a naval force to sabotage the weapon’s construction, true victory now lies with the destruction of its source. It is Amidala’s plan which ultimately gains the assent of DFIS High Command, albeit with one important amendment. Since the destruction of the Kyber crystals is likely to be an explosive affair, Qui-Gon Jinn will lead a simultaneous evacuation of the Jedi Temple. Even if many of the Masters there now consider him an enemy, Qui-Gon does not wish any harm upon them. The Old Order deserves a chance to save itself.

With their planning resolved, the DFIS fleet rushes to ready itself for the coming operation. Meanwhile, the ground force responsible for the Jedi Temple incursion is covertly delivered to the resistance on Coruscant. When Kenobi, Skywalker, and Jinn-the leaders of the Jedi strike team-meet with Ventress, she reveals her own twist to the established strategy. In order to keep Republic forces away from the Temple, Asajj suggests a simultaneous attack on the Chancellor’s offices. If they’re lucky, they might cut the head off this corrupted Republic, and wouldn’t that be a nice addition to a job well done? Despite Obi-Wan’s personal hesitations, the three leading Jedi agree that such a diversion could prove beneficial, and so this additional plan is also put into motion.

Before anyone can truly grapple with the significance of their coming task, its deadline is upon them. Thousands of Separatist ships from all corners of the galaxy assemble for a collective strike on the most populated world in the Republic. As they emerge from hyperspace to surprise the Republic’s Home Fleet, the ground team moves to infiltrate both the Senate offices and the Jedi Temple. It is at the latter location that the Jedi split up once again; while Qui-Gon attempts to evacuate his former fellows from their sanctuary, Anakin and Obi-Wan descend into its mazy catacombs, hoping to keep its occult riches from producing great suffering.

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However, it is at this point that a fourfold threat emerges. Its first facet unfolds at the private office of the Supreme Chancellor, where Ventress and her resistance fighters find Maul himself to be absent. Instead, they are met by an ambush of Senatorial guards, revealing the operation to be a deliberate trap set by the chancellor, who allowed false details about his location to be leaked to the Coruscant rabble. His true whereabouts are the Kyber caves of the Jedi Temple, where he has set another snare for Anakin and Obi-Wan in the form of his own hidden Dark Side abilities. A great duel in the Jedi arts ensues, much like another engagement that is taking place far above these depths. Here, Qui-Gon has been halted in his evacuation by the figure of his former master. Dooku has had enough of Jinn’s heresies, and now sees a thorough purge of these New Jedi as the only way to re-sanctify his decaying order.

Finally, the skies above Coruscant are witness to one of the greatest naval battles in Republic history, and the disorganized Democratic fleet is surprisingly holding their own against the private contractors of the Republic. But as DFIS scouts hastily scan the surface in search of the weapon’s construction site, they are met with a terrifying revelation. The superweapon is quite operational, and has been mounted to one of the Republic’s newfangled Destroyers. While a shortage of Kyber crystals means it is not yet fully powered, its successive blasts are fast weakening the deflector shields of Padmé’s own flagship. And so, as the Battle of Coruscant drags on, a Separatist victory in any of its theatres seems increasingly unlikely.

Chapter Nine

Galactic historians are still unsure as to how the Battle of Coruscant turned around as quickly as it did. Some put it down as ‘the Will of the Force’, but what is certain is that some measure of sacrifice was paramount to the Democrats’ ultimate victory. And as many Civil War memorials would later testify, one of those sacrifices was made by Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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In continuing our story, we return to the catacombs of the Great Jedi Temple, where two Jedi Knights are combating a ruthless agent of the Dark Side. This is Maul, a man who has used his corrupted charisma to work himself into the chancellorship, only furthering the decline of Republic government. He now prepares to slay these Jedi and safeguard his supply of Kyber crystals, which he will use to power a weapon that can subdue the galaxy entire. Great power flows through him, as he has used the arcane and forbidden knowledge of these hidden depths to augment his own abilities with the Force. Yet in spite of all his might, Maul does not understand the profound virtue of self-sacrifice. Thanks to this ignorance, he is caught off guard when one of the Jedi Knights shows a willingness to go beyond his own physical limits, to risk severe injury if the blow could throw this wrathful enemy off his balance. And so it happens that Obi-Wan Kenobi throws himself at the figure of the chancellor, with the Force of their collision causing them both to fall into the bottomless chasm which adjoins the Kyber vein.

Despite his state of shock, Anakin Skywalker knows that he still has a mission to fulfill, and so he sets the explosive charges that will destroy this dangerous source of Force-infused power. Meanwhile, Qui-Gon Jinn is still locked in duel with Master Dooku, with neither willing to relinquish their claim to being a true Jedi. The fate of an entire Order hangs in the balance here, and although Dooku appears to have the upper hand throughout most of the fight, its ultimate outcome comes as a surprise to both figures. For as Dooku prepares his final blow, hoping to end this Jedi heresy once and for all, the blade of a green lightsaber emerges from his chest. It is the weapon of Master Yoda, who has broken out of his Temple detainment to decide this schism. In spite of the neutrality he sought before, the patent cruelty of the Jedi conservatives has forced his hand. With Dooku defeated, the evacuation of the Temple can proceed apace; Anakin joins the two masters as they escort the final wave of Jedi, detonating the charges when they are at a safe distance. Although their main goals have now been accomplished, the cost of this battle already feels unbearable.

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It is this latter observation that brings us back to the Senate raid of Asajj Ventress. At the moment of Kenobi’s tragic death, it is Ventress whom he contacts through the Force, professing a love for her that the Old Jedi Order would have forbidden. What’s more, his last words reveal that he’s long been aware of the amnesiac spell she put on him at Dathomir. Yet all is forgiven, for he considers his past self to have been close-minded and ignorant, owing most of his subsequent personal growth to his dear Jedi companion. Following this expression of love and gratitude, Kenobi’s presence in the Force fades, and Asajj is left with a deep sense of loss. Unfortunately, the circumstances of this battle have made Asajj emotionally vulnerable, and her sadness soon turns to rage. Accompanied by her crew of guerillas, she rampages through the abandoned Senate buildings, taking down critical structures as she goes. When she’s done with it, the mighty assembly building of the Old Republic lies in ruins, and Ventress herself has vanished into the planet’s lowest levels.

The final leg of this battle takes place above the planet, where Padmé and Ahsoka are taking part in a collective fleet engagement against the Kyber-armed Destroyer. As news of the ground operations trickles in on both sides, the DFIS victories at the Temple and the Senate prove highly demoralizing for the Republic’s forces. The rumored death of the Chancellor seems to be affecting the fleet in particular, as if its staff has suddenly lost the better part of their skill and focus. Amid such chaos, Ahsoka is able to coordinate a fighter strike on the Kyber weapon. With the help of a promising cadet named Han, the Destroyer’s reactor is compromised, with its explosion exciting the sensitive crystal batteries. This ultimately results in the massive release of Force energy, the physical effect of which disables most of the Republic’s cruisers. Indeed, so great is this blast that it is visible from the surface of Coruscant itself, and the ground forces of the DFIS take it as a signal to depart the planet in haste. Their transports soon regroup with the rest of the Democratic Fleet, and together they leave the system in a spirit of hard-fought victory.

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While the Battle of Coruscant has been hard on both sides, the fundamental blow to the Republic’s military and political infrastructure clearly outweighs everything else. Not only has their head of state been killed, but many of the regime’s movers and shakers were taken out during Asajj’s final raid on the Senate. And since the promised power of the Kyber weapon has only come to harm the Republic’s fleet in its destruction, the corporate alliance which funds this Grand Army is rapidly losing faith in the unified strength of this government. In a desperate effort to hold Maul’s corrupt coalition together, Acting Chancellor Rush Clovis soon offers an armistice to the DFIS. The Democrats are quick to accept it, correctly suspecting that the Republic’s days are numbered anyway.

Although it is still some way away, peace is now in sight, and the revolutionary heroes of this new age are preparing themselves to meet it…

 

And so our saga draws to a close. I would like to thank you for reading this alternate tale of the Star Wars prequels. This is the sort of writing that I most like to do, mixing socio-political histories with fantastical settings. May you have enjoyed its contents as much as I did its creation.

When I began working on this duology of Palpatine Problem and Sidious Solution, I had foreseen a great deal of explanation to precede my eventual story. As it turned, I was better off telling rather than justifying, and I am confident that my intended meanings have been conveyed clearly.

As the intricacies of the Star Wars setting continue to interest and inspire me, I will be sure to produce more of these writings. Spurred on by my essays on the genre of Resistance Fantasy, it is the Galactic Civil War which now beckons for my attention. I hope you will join me in that future endeavor; for now though, let us turn one last time to the personal story of a certain Togruta Jedi…  

 

 

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Epilogue

The First Jedi Temple. Ahsoka could hardly believe her eyes. She had come here with Ben, the daughter of a man she had once called her Master. But Anakin Skywalker had gone missing some years ago, lost to the unknown regions between navigational routes. His disappearance had greatly confounded both wife and daughter, for it was not for lack of love that Anakin abandoned his peaceful Jedi life on Naboo. Instead, a mystical revelation had seemed to come over him, one that left him in such distress that he sought refuge in a most mysterious place. That had turned out to be this planet, Ahch-To, one of the oldest gathering places of the Jedi Order. Its location had long since been lost to history, but apparently Anakin had had some way of finding it. And, in order to bring him back the family that cared about him deeply, so had Ben and Ahsoka.

As they ascended the sacred stone stairs of this island to the Jedi monastery above, Ahsoka noticed that this place was more serene than any she had experienced since before the Republic Civil War.  Even in a decade-and-a-half of galactic peace, it felt like the series of crises had been endless. From the Vengeance of Ventress to the Chiss Incursion, Ahsoka and the other New Jedi had kept themselves interminably busy. This personal mission felt like a vacation by comparison.

Ben and Ahsoka now came to the top of the path, finding a man in ornate Jedi robes standing not far from them. He had their back turned to them, overlooking the seemingly endless oceans which stretched out beyond these cliffs. Most likely this was Anakin, yet Ahsoka still felt hesitant about approaching him; there was no telling what had become of him in the years since his disappearance. Could he have been corrupted by the Dark Side, twisted into something dangerous? Ben did not share this apprehension, for she ran up to the figure and called for his attention. Startled, they turned around, revealing the weathered face of her long lost master.

Anakin looked old, older even than the length of his absence would suggest. His exile had obviously done a number on his health, although there was still a hopeful glimmer in his eye as he looked upon the two women that had found him here. Standing right next to him now, Ben embraced her father firmly, which surprised the latter until he realized exactly who this person was. The sense of recognition that came over him then was clearly an emotional state, for tears were welling up in his eyes. As she let go of him, he tried to be the first to speak, yet the words got stuck in his throat. Bold as ever, it was Ben who spoke up instead.

“Why did you leave?”

This was just about the least tactful thing she could have said. Under any other circumstances, Anakin would have been proud of her. Now however, his expression was one of gloomy contemplation. He had to offer an explanation for something he did not seem to understand himself, a personal burden of which he was most ashamed. His reply came haltingly, and his hands trembled as he spoke.

“When…when I close my eyes, I see a mask. A dark mask, placed over my face. When I’m wearing it, all I see is death and suffering. I command troops like in the war, yet they are all terrified of me. And the only man who doesn’t fear me calls me his apprentice. I think he is a Sith Lord, and what does that make me? If there is any truth to these visions, you must stay away from me!”

Despite these words of warning, Ben was undeterred. Her father was being tormented by the Dark Side, and rather than letting such suffering continue, she was going to help him.

“Dad, you don’t need to do this! You can’t protect us by following your fears, that is not the Jedi way! Ahsoka and me, we both know the meditations of calm and insight, we can help you get rid of these illusions!”

“But that’s the thing, Ben. I don’t think these are illusions. This place keeps me in the Light, keeps the visions at bay. Back on Jedha, they felt just as real as you are to me right now. Some days, they even felt more real! So what if this world is the illusion? What if I lose you to the darkness of my reality? I must remain here, that’s the only way I can preserve our world.”

Anakin was at his lowest point now, weighted down by a philosophy of desperation. Yet in a most caring way, Ben still wasn’t having any of it. Taking his trembling hands into her own, she spoke with the wisdom of a true Jedi. Having taught her since she was small, Ahsoka could not be any prouder.

“Nothing will make me less real, dad. Do you feel me in the Force? All manifestations arise from it, that’s what you once taught me yourself. If we accept these visions for what they are, perhaps both realities can find their peace. Remember what  We are not less real because they are more powerful. That’s what the New Jedi said when they were at war with their elders. It was true then, as it is now. We can make sense of this together, but you have to let us help you.”

By the end of her words, Anakin was tearing up at her daughter’s tenacious wisdom. She still had hope in him, while he had lost that long ago. With a wave of relief falling over him, the tension in his face and body relaxed, and he embraced his daughter lovingly. Together, the three of them walked up to the huts of this old monastery, speaking of old times and new developments. The Force was with them.

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