hapax

Part Four: The Second Clone War

Both the Jedi and the Republic hierarchy knew full well that the truce between the Jedi factions could not survive. Tensions soon erupted between those bickering rivalries, unable to resign themselves to consensus or give up the principles for which they had been fighting for years. Furthermore, as Jedi were killed in battle, the rise in vendettas against those who had struck down comrades grew, and an endless cycle of vengeance and reparation began.

The corporations who had supported the various factions likewise remained unconvinced that another tectonic shift in the galactic economy was not about to wreak havoc once more. Not only that, but they had begun to profit in a fashion from the conflict itself, a situation that few of the big corporations wanted to see an end to. Rather than a middling peace treaty, the econocrats of the Republic demanded a full-scale treaty, a signed and legally enforceable guarantee of galactic security. Anything else, they believed, paid nothing more than lip-service to the well-being of the Republic and its citizenry.

While the Council of Hapax had initially been seen as a great success, negotiations inevitably broke down, and in little more than a year the Jedi returned to their doctrinal conflict.

Senator Palpatine, a leading voice among the opponents of the Jedi Order and its disruption, leapt at the opportunity presented by the renewal of the war. He authored and successfully lobbied a series of legislation which punished internal disorder by suppressing or outright removing the extensive privileges enjoyed for centuries by the Jedi Order. Most notably, Republic governors were granted extensive powers, and became the new arbiters of galactic law. As the Jedi before them, each dictated the obedience of a single planet.

Eventually, the Jedi Council itself was expelled from their own grand temple on Coruscant, and scattered to distant locations throughout the Core Worlds. The temple was, for a time, retained as a relic of the old era and intended as a future museum to the mysterious Force of Others and its adherents.

The Republic Senate concurrently established a new, enhanced and much more potent, military force, one raised to defend the people of the Republic from any internal or external threat - few were so blind as to not recognise that this threat was now, inferred or otherwise, the Jedi.

Little more than a year after the Council of Hapax, the Jedi fell back to war, and this time the entire Republic along with them. The war-weary public sought an end to the violence via their representatives in the Senate, yet the Jedi to their detriment would not heed them. For a second decade, the Jedi waged terrible battles across the many sectors of the galaxy, further damaging their reputation and their numbers.

Yet they now faced a new complication in the form of an organised and substantial Republic military, which often stood directly between them on the field, or restricting access to an ever-growing list of protected Core Worlds, forcing the conflict into the Outer Rim, or the harsher and less hospitable planets of the Core. Casualties increased, and the cost of the war, in manpower, materials and credits, began to swell.

And the Jedi themselves were no longer at the head of every army, but reduced to commanding several armies or fleets at once, though intermediaries and subsidiaries. Always seen as aloof and distant, the Jedi had now become so even to the forces fighting in their name. Many armies had become entirely composed of mercenaries or even criminals; anyone who would take up arms on behalf of the once-revered Order.

At last, even the vaunted Jedi recognised the inevitability of their approaching fate. To their horror, they discovered that with their numbers so dwindled, the Order had lost substantive control over the judicial system the once oversaw and, even more significantly, recognised how far they had fallen in the hearts and minds of the common citizens of the Republic; the people they were sworn to protect.

The Jedi had always held a complicated relationship with the political and ruling classes of the Republic. The old nobility and especially the Galactic Senate frequently viewed the Jedi as elitist and unaccountable for the incredible power they wielded. Control over such a broad range of judicial powers gave them unprecedented moral and temporal authority in the galaxy. Particularly whenever their sphere of authority conflicted with the interests of the other branches of the government, or powerful corporate or private interests, this created a great deal of resentment and resistance.

Yet there was little the executives and Senators of the Republic could do while the Jedi remained so popular with the people. Radical legislative change had been defeated time and time again precisely because, for better or worse, the Jedi had in fact maintained order on almost every planet they oversaw. Every opportunity to stifle their power was overruled either by the Order itself or enough Senators to oppose such a bill, and frequently shouted down by popular acclaim. So the loss of such support was a critical blow to the Jedi and their cause.

Thus, when the ruling classes of the Republic sensed that the Jedi were vulnerable, many began to relinquish their support for the Jedi factions themselves, and began to agitate for wider reform which might forever limit the influence of the Jedi over galactic affairs. The passing of Statute 12-22j-5a4, a meaningless stream of figures to the average citizen, was crucial in this endeavour, for it mandated the need to replace Jedi authority in the courts with elected officials, in the case of the Order's fracture. It was Palpatine's crowning achievement and saw the Senator become a symbol of definitive action in a time of uncertainty.

Thanks to the ongoing war, the statute not only passed but went into immediate effect, ending the Jedi stranglehold on the judiciary and relegating them to political exile from within their protected enclave among the Old Republic's vast bureaucracy. Not only had they lost their temple - a symbol of their power and prestige at the centre of the Republic's seat of power on Coruscant - but they had also lost the legal authority to act as they had since the early days of the Republic itself.

Let it not be said that the entirety of the Jedi Order remained ignorant of their fall from grace, or that there were not impressive voices within the remnant who had not called for an end to what they viewed as the inherent insanity of war. Many took the opportunity to hearken back to older times, during eras millennia past, quoting esteemed masters such as the classical stoic, Yoda, and the doctrinaire Ulic Quel-Droma, who had formulated and written the Jedi Code itself.

Many Jedi departed the Order during both conflicts, fleeing to the Outer Rim, or allying themselves with forces ready to restore something akin to a system of rational and natural justice. Most of these self-imposed exiles had become disgusted with the hypocrisy of the Order's stance, and its inability to apply their own traditions to the petty feuds which had torn it apart. Many were even resigned to a greatly diminished influence; anything that might sate the furious peoples of the Republic and restore peace to the galaxy once more.

Over the course of several months the Jedi Council, despite remaining fractured on many issues, managed almost miraculously to reach a consensus on the path forward.

With the growing power of the Senate and the sheer weight of resources brought to bear by the corporate supporters of the Republic, the Jedi had little choice but to overcome their differences and reunite, in order to reclaim their control of the judiciary and reassert their form of justice throughout the Republic. Though many felt it was too late, the Council in particular was of the view that the galaxy still needed the Jedi Order if there was to be lasting peace.

At the Council of Bakura, in a more desperate mirror to that of Hapax, the three most prominent Jedi factions reunited in order to face the combined threat of the Republic forces which had morphed from interceding on behalf of key planets to actively pushing the conflict further into the Outer Rim, and also to heal the schisms which had divided the Order itself. But for the Jedi, it was too little, too late.

The Council acted with haste, and in an act of undeniable irony usurped control over a radical new technology created on the planet Tython by the Spaarti Corporation. This was a step too far for many Jedi, particularly those who had returned to their study of the old ways, in which the Jedi were first and foremost beings of the Force, luminous and beyond the temptations of the physical realm: that of crude matter. The Jedi were, if nothing else, above such things and to turn to them even now was tantamount to ultimate defeat, no matter the mere political outcomes of the war - which were trivial in comparison.

Within this most important few weeks of the Second Clone War, the Jedi had gone from commanding vast resources and directing a plethora of vested interest toward their own war goals, to becoming outcasts from their own Republic, facing down the combined might of the Galactic Senate, the civilian military, and several ruthless corporate interests, only to unite in the face of the very conflict which had seen them ostracised in the first place.

Turning to Tython and its new technology, now known as Series VI, the Jedi began creating clones of their greatest warriors, and set in motion a terrible chain of events which would bring about the end of the war for good.

For all their prescience and meditation, the Jedi had not seen the seeds of their own sown in this fateful decision. Scholars continue to debate how they could have come to such a radical decision through anything other than sheer desperation, for in hindsight it seems a folly of catastrophic proportions.

The return of the Jedi, many of whom were believed to be dead or grievously injured, and the Order's new-found dominance of the battlefronts trailing across whole sectors of space, did not go unnoticed among the leaders of the Republic. The tide was turned, and the Jedi began clawing back control over key territories even in the Core Worlds, all within months of having appeared on the very verge of defeat.

While the Republic leadership had indeed struck a key and unforeseen blow to the Jedi at its moment of greatest vulnerability, it did not take the Order long to recognise that the Republic itself now viewed the Jedi as, at best, an insubordinate or, at worst, a mortal enemy.

After long months of war, the Battle of Corellia resulted in a particularly damaging loss for the forces of the Republic, and resulted in the Jedi moving within striking distance of the capital, Coruscant. The end of the war appeared close, and the Republic generals knew it. They also knew that, without a counter-turn in the tide, the Jedi would be victorious.

So too the Senate, sitting in emergency session on Coruscant, held no qualms about the singular means by which they might resolve such a grave circumstance.

Part Three: The First Clone War

During the Fourth Jedi Schism, each of the factions vying for supremacy faced an immediate and very real danger of defeat, and with the Republic bureaucracy spread thin in its support amongst the many combatants, inflation and war levies soon raised havoc among the Galactic Trade Exchange and many corporations began taking sides no longer to simply achieve short-term goals with the aid of the Jedi, but in an attempt to influence the outcome of the entire war in their favour. What, after all, would a grateful Jedi Council not do for their most loyal financial backers once order had been restored?

With the resources of such vast galactic entities involved, the scale of the war only erupted further. As a consequence, many neutral corporations which had stood to one side in the conflict, content to remain aloof or provide their services to any faction who requested it, were forced in one direction or another, either in the hope of drawing the schism to a close or simply in order to survive.

The Senate, initially wedded to a neutral stance, soon found the economic might of its biggest corporations invested in the battle, and fearing that any kind of union between a dominant Jedi faction and a group of powerful corporations could threaten the security of the Republic itself - and the integrity of the Senate in particular - the Republic Naval Command began to take a much greater interest in the ebb and flow of the war, at the behest of the Senate itself.

Before long, it was not uncommon for massive Republic fleets to engage those of a corporate sponsor of a Jedi faction, with equally significant battles raging on a planet below, sometimes between different factions to those which clashed in orbit above.

Resources poured into the effort from across the galaxy, and as the demand for particularly scarce goods such as bacta and energy began to put pressure on supply lines and intergalactic trade, the need for resolution became even greater.

Countless planets suffered beneath the onslaught, reduced to rubble or blackened char as the forces of the Jedi, or the Senate, or one of the countless independent factions, moved through a sector in the hopes of suppressing resistance or forging a bastion among the stars. The Jedi, busied competing amongst themselves, soon found the Senate perpetually blocking their access to particularly lucrative or populated planets, with corporations and industrial barons also throwing their weight into the conflict, sometimes on the side of the Senate, or other times behind one of the factions themselves.

Of all the resources sought by all sides, military shipyards were by far the most precious. Day and night these gigantic orbital factories, many akin to artificial rings literally shackling their slave-planets from orbit, ceaselessly forged the hard steel of new and more powerful battleships. These vessels only grew larger in size, beyond any reasonable proportion compared to those maintained by the Galactic Senate for generations.

All manner of new support vessels grew out of the war, from long-range torpedo boats to hit-and-run frigates, anti-starfighter platforms and even the mysterious Q-ships which would prove decisive in later years.

On the planets below, peaceful plains and rolling hills became little more than vast fields upon which the Jedi could attain glory in single combat, with the fate of entire armies hanging in the balance between two lone figures whose flashing blades would dictate their fate and wrest the tide of battle. Entire armies had stood aside to await the outcome of such duels, knowing that a force with an unchallenged Jedi at its head would emerge victorious eventually.

Such large-scale destruction had a tremendous impact on the galactic economy, and as massive shifts buckled even this most mighty of treasuries, across the Republic economists, academics and industrialists alike sought answers. Namely, how to prevent the war from devastating the galactic economy and citizenry even more than it already had.

Supposedly first invented by the relatively small corporation Tagge & Company, known as TaggeCo, the development of what would later become known as the Series I clone technology became the solution which Republic bureaucrats had sought for so long. Using sophisticated mitochondrial templates, TaggeCo began manufacturing a nearly endless source of labour to replace the lives lost as planetary battles devastated whole sectors of space.

Under the code name 'Oculus', the first trials were held on several industrialised Core Worlds, before the risk of discovery forced the operation to the Outer Rim. There, on a small moon, headquartered in a remote laboratory named Oculus-Alpha, later truncated to simply 'the OA facility', the first serious trials of the decade-long clone technology began to yield results.

Yet flaws were quickly discovered in the technology, and it was soon realised that most clones would not live for more than a handful of years. When the Series II clones were developed within twelve months of the first iteration, they became unstable and highly vulnerable to disease, and were quickly abandoned as genuine subjects after a disastrous early test run.

Beyond their scope as cheap labour for war-ravaged worlds, several corporations saw the potential value of clones as a mechanism for creating entire armies, raised in short order to flood a battlefield, with no reasonable expectation that they would survive beyond the war's end, or even in some cases the battle's end.

The Jedi, already philosophically uneasy about the status and nature of clones themselves, took action when it was discovered that TaggeCo had itself developed a Series III army in secret on the tiny forested moon which had since become their primary facility.

Acting immediately against this threat, the Jedi responded with what was later acknowledged as the worst atrocity of the First Clone War: the Ruin of Endor. The TaggeCo facilities, and most life on the moon itself, was obliterated. Yet a newly-constructed cloning facility on Wayland, the Oculus-Beta facility, was constructed and rumoured to be even more advanced than the original on Endor.

However, the Beta facility was also discovered by the Jedi, who blockaded the planet and threatened its destruction in a similar manner to that of Endor. The Jedi, unwilling to chance that the technology might escape the planet, eventually bombarded the facilities before they had even produced a single living clone. This action essentially terminated TaggeCo's clone technology division and, were it not for their later integration into the New Order Corporation, may have ruined TaggeCo entirely.

The action also brought an end to clone technology as it existed at that time, and the fruits of several decades of research were lost. With no working templates nor the industrial capacity to produce more, many surmised that this brief development of clone technology had come to a swift and final end.

Yet with the simple knowledge that the concept itself was viable, other corporations soon began developing secret cloning technology themselves. Only, their first and primary objective was to ensure that no Jedi ever discovered that the research was underway. What had begun as a technology worthy of galactic-scale advertising and grandeur had been pushed underground; once more, corporations turned to thieves, smugglers and other scoundrels to procure and stow the illicit materials they needed to proceed with their obfuscated research.

After the Ruin of Endor and the almost universal outcry it generated, the Jedi factions called a truce, and gathered for the Council of Hapax in neutral territory, where the threat of clone technology, the economic chaos in the galaxy, the moral collapse of the Order, and the devastation of war, were all discussed.

For over a year, a fragile peace returned to the galaxy. As quickly as it had begun, the First Clone War had ended.