The Further Adventures of Jedi Grand Master Anakin and Chancellor Tarkin
In which my previous scenario is fleshed-out and gets a point of divergence from canon.
The alternate-history enthusiast Alt_Historian, who has his own YouTube Channel by the way, really liked the scenario I posted earlier based on the meme of a bearded adult Anakin confronting a Dark Side-using Luke and his own embellishments. Here is his response:
“Love it. And yes I was thinking the Republic military would be looking for threats (justified or manufactured) to justify its existence. Anakin personally might want to go after the gangs especially given their connection to the slave trade.”
I did some googling and found the Hutts would be the perfect target for an increasingly-authoritarian Chancellor Tarkin and an Anakin who still has a lot of baggage even if he avoided falling for Palpatine’s machinations. Per one of the Star Wars Wikis, the Hutts controlled a region of the galaxy that might not even be formally part of the Republic (or if it is, it has a LOT of autonomy). Darth Maul, now in control of the galaxy-spanning crime syndicate Shadow Collective, had attempted to force the Hutts into letting him take control of their territory but apparently failed to do so. There was also the Zygerrian Slave Empire that allied with the Separatists during the Clone Wars.
If Tarkin takes the Republic in a more militarized and authoritarian direction, abolishing the autonomy of the Hutts and similar entities within the Republic’s ostensible borders and crushing would-be galactic tyrants like Maul would be obvious goals. And given how the Hutts are massive slavers (and one even owned Anakin and his mother), getting a Jedi Order dominated by Anakin to go along wouldn’t be that difficult. In addition to hating slavery, Anakin might also have personal beef with Maul — he killed Qui-Gon Jinn and killed Obi-Wan’s kind-of girlfriend Satine and the Revenge of the Sith novelization makes it clear Anakin is more concerned with the people close to him than with principle. If Tarkin is clever, he can play on Anakin’s issues to get his support and so long as he isn’t a creepy “you can call me daddy if you want” groomer-type like Palpatine, even an older and wiser Anakin might not see it.
Speaking of Anakin, I think I might have figured out a point of divergence that can lead to Palpatine’s defeat and avoid Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side. When Palpatine first reveals himself to Anakin as the Sith Lord, Anakin ignites his lightsaber and threatens to kill him, then goes to report him to the Jedi Council. Mace Windu leads the Council (minus two of its most skilled members) to arrest the Chancellor right away and Palpatine now has his perfect “assassination attempt” pretext to declare the Jedi traitors.
In my scenario, although Anakin is tempted, he realizes that if Palpatine is a Sith Lord and had earlier ordered him to kill Dooku, whom he knows is a Sith Lord, that means Palpatine had been controlling both sides of the war. Momentarily forgetting his own worries about Padme’s supposed impending death (or perhaps the thought occurs to him these premonitions might have been Palpatine’s own doing), he lashes out at Palpatine. Palpatine is able to fight him off using the Force alone (Palpatine in one of the comics telekinetically slaps around Vader to make the point that the Force is superior to lightsabers), but is injured. Anakin gets to a mass communication system before the injured Palpatine can get to his own and puts out an all-call to the Jedi that Palpatine is the Sith Lord before Palpatine can initiate Order 66.
(I think in the old canon the Jedi had narrowed down the identity of the second Sith Lord to someone in the Chancellor’s office, so this wouldn’t be a big jump to believe. And Mace Windu in particular could sense the Dark Side on Palpatine.)
The Jedi aren’t totally caught with their pants down when Order 66 goes out and many are able to escape the massacre. Meanwhile, without Anakin to lead the 501st Legion into the Temple, the Council is able to fortify it and send a strike force to link up with Anakin and attack Palpatine. The Republic’s forces are divided — although the Clone Troopers have biochips in their heads to keep them killing Jedi, non-clones are confused by the different orders going out and some might think Order 66 was a Separatist trick or, if they get Anakin’s message, realize Palpatine is the real enemy. This might give the Jedi transportation and allies and reduce the clones’ mobility.
I’m not sure of the exact details, but the Jedi on Coruscant are able to take out Palpatine and call off Order 66. Given the revelation of what Palpatine was and what he was about to do, I imagine his supporters would be discredited or abandon his political machine. This in turn would allow for the Delegation of the 2000, whose ranks include Padme Amidala and future leaders of the Rebellion Mon Mothma and Bail Organa, to take charge. I imagine negotiations would begin soon with the Separatist leadership, who now lack General Grievous and are about to find out they’d been played and just how lucky they’d been.
So the Clone Wars draw to a close and the Republic formally reunified, but a lot of the questionable autonomous entities within the Republic would keep their status — centralization would be something associated with Palpatine. It takes two decades of the problems of the late Republic that led to so many supporting Palpatine’s dictatorship to become so obvious that support for centralizing power begins to grow again. And Tarkin, who perhaps avoided getting involved in what went down on Coruscant until it was clear who had actually won, is now the man of the hour. Bonus points if the Delegation of 2000 loses popular support due to its inability to deal with the shenanigans of these “autonomous entities” and/or the death or retirement of leaders like Mothma, Organa, or even Padme herself.
(In my original scenario I had the accidental death of Padme causing Anakin to fall into either a deep depression and/or histrionic grieving, which would essentially neuter him and give his critics among the Jedi a pretext to move against him. The scenario doesn’t necessarily require Padme’s death — even though she’s opposed to militarism, she might hate slavery or the Hutts’ other crimes more or simply go along against her better judgement to support her husband. This isn’t Anakin killing kids in the Temple or overthrowing democracy, so it might not hit the “you’re going down a path I cannot follow” space-divorce threshold.)
Meanwhile, the Jedi Order is going through changes of its own. Questions are raised about the competence of the Jedi leadership — their ancient Sith enemies infiltrated the Republican government and actually took control under Yoda’s very nose, then killed off much if not most of the Order. Furthermore, it wasn’t Yoda who defeated Palpatine, but probably a combination of Anakin Skywalker (illegal marriage, lots of playing fast and loose with the rules in general) and Mace Windu (user of the pseudo-Dark Side vaapaad technique) who did so.
(Given the friction between Mace and Anakin — it hasn’t been long since “you are on this council, but we do not grant you the rank of master” — that must’ve been incredibly awkward.)
As a result, Yoda resigns as Grand Master, although given his extensive knowledge and wisdom perhaps he remains on the Council or has some kind of unofficial “Grand Master Emeritus” position. Between Anakin’s own heroism (and the consequent favors he can call in) and with so many Jedi killed either during the war itself or Order 66 and needing to be replaced, a relaxation of the existing rules on things like marriages, relationships, etc. is allowed, perhaps as a “temporary” measure to help replenish the number of Force-wielders. No need to scour the galaxy for them when they’re children of known members, after all, and during periods of the old canon where Jedi celibacy wasn’t a thing there were unofficial rules about Jedi NOT training their own children to ensure fairness and objectivity.
This would explain why, for the purposes of the scenario, Anakin is the Grand Master of the Jedi Order by the time Luke and Leia are adults despite violating the Code to the degree that Obi-Wan flat-out told him he would be expelled from the Order during Attack of the Clones. Perhaps Mace becomes Grand Master after Yoda’s resignation and Anakin succeeds him when he dies.
Obi-Wan might retain his seat on the Council, although he might not be totally comfortable with the changes resulting from the leadership shakeup. Ahsoka Tano might return to the Order with so many of those who screwed her over during the Clone Wars dead (although the fact Windu was particularly rude to her and is now Grand Master might prompt her to stay away), but given how she refuses to train Grogu in The Mandalorian, she might still believe in the old rules about attachments.
However, there remains the loose end Darth Maul, who escapes from Ahsoka’s custody during Order 66 like in canon, and his Shadow Collective. He’s been lying low since Palpatine’s last-minute defeat but has never given up his designs on the Hutts and views a Republic move against Hutt Space as an opportunity. And given how in canon he still seems to follow the Rule of Two (first with his brother Savage Oppress during the Clone Wars and then Ezra Bridger during the early Rebellion), he sees the chance for a new minion in Skywalker’s children. If Luke is lost after Padme’s death or (if Padme is still alive) views Ahsoka and her faction as ganging up on his parents, that’s the chance for Maul to get his hooks into him. Leia, perhaps seeing the bigger picture and rebelling against her dad (some fans think Anakin would be an overprotective father and Leia in particular would chafe against him) seeks out the help of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
And so, a generation after the Clone Wars, Tarkin begins preparing to move against Hutt Space with the full support of the Jedi Order acting in their wartime role as generals. Ahsoka’s faction, who might still be uncomfortable with “attachments,” views this as the Clone Wars 2.0 and Anakin as too blinded by his own issues to see it. Meanwhile, the Mandalorians fear the loss of their own autonomy and welcome a chance to stir up trouble among their historical Jedi rivals — with some still being secretly loyal to Maul. Thus they join Ahsoka’s challenge to Anakin and Tarkin and, between the historical issues with the Jedi and how some still serve Maul, this has the chance to escalate into outright violence.
And Grand Master Anakin Skywalker might find he has problems closer to home than he thinks…
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