Courtesy LucasFilm

Continuing the sort of plots, characters and themes I’d have pursued if it had fallen to me to write the Star Wars prequels. Episode 1 is right here. This one ended up a bit longer than I thought it would. I could probably work C-3P0 and R2-D2 in here somewhere, but I’d rather focus on the characters that really needed help. As before, I don’t own anything created by Lucas and I’m not looking to profit from any of this, but it is my work and if you want to quote or use part of it, please give me appropriate credit.

Episode 2: The Clone Wars

It is a time of unrest in the Galactic Republic. Rumors abound of threats at the edge of Republic space, from the increased taxation of trade routes through Hutt space to the emergence of a new leader of the Trade Federation, a ruthless cyborg known only as Grievous.
Within the Republic, a debate rages over the creation of a standing army. Many in the Republic would rather rely upon the Jedi, while some believe that the limited numbers of the guardians will not be sufficient if war should break out. Newly elected Supreme Chancellor Bail Organa is advocating patience, while his Vice-Chancellor Palpatine favors the expansion of the Republic military.
The Jedi Knights are occupied with neither politics nor rumors of war. Their attention is on the reappearance of the Sith, disciples of the Dark Side of the Force. Believing them a greater threat than any crime lord or droid army, the Jedi have undertaken investigations and covert operations throughout the galaxy…

The planet Naboo again serves as the backdrop for the opening, but this time there are Republic ships in orbit instead of Trade Federation dreadnoughts. A trading post has been established on the planet, serving as a transition between Republic-controlled space and the Outer Rim. News reports that play in the outpost talk of the election, the Hutt outrage at Republic influence being so close to their territory, and rumors of Grievous violently putting down resistance to his control within the Federation. A cloaked gentleman leads a slightly older, bearded companion through the corridors, coming to a shipping manager. Claiming that the old man is his father, the gentleman politely asks for passage to Nar Shaddaa as the old man mutters to himself. Asking why they want to go to such a place, the gentleman replies that his father’s dying wish is to see the famed Vertical City no matter how dangerous it might be. They’re given passage and board the transport, only then revealing themselves as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker.

Obi-Wan compliments Anakin on his performance but notes his nerves, saying he hasn’t seen Anakin that nervous since they fell into a nest of gundarks. Anakin replied sheepishly that he’d been afraid of hitting Obi-Wan in his attempt to free them. Obi-Wan tells the younger Jedi he has nothing to worry about, that the Force is very strong with him and that if he trusts its guidance he will be a great Jedi. Anakin smiles but still seems disconcerted, noting that he feels a disturbance in the Force, like something great and terrible is coming. Obi-Wan says he senses it too, as did Master Yoda before they left, but tells his friend they can’t worry about things they cannot control and must focus on the task at hand.

Arriving on Nar Shaddaa, also called the ‘Smuggler’s Moon,’ the Jedi begin making inquiries about Darth Maul. Zabrak are not an uncommon sight in the galaxy, but many comment on the extensiveness of Maul’s tattoos. Obi-Wan suggests they split up to cover more ground, but reminds Anakin they’re on a mission and can’t spare much time should Anakin decide to go looking for his mother, last reported to be on this moon. Anakin agrees, and the two part ways. The younger Jedi comes across a slave trader who recognizes Maul and becomes furious, saying that the Zabrak short-changed him on Shmi’s purchase. Anakin demands to know where she is, and the slave trader, intimidated by the Jedi, offers his the tracking device linked to her slave collar.

Meanwhile, Obi-Wan is checking with the smugglers of the moon, and is surprised to find Padmé playing sabacc and drinking the other smugglers under the table. She tells the Jedi that she gave up politics to see the galaxy, found she was really good at reading men’s expressions and ended up with her own ship through a game of chance. Leaving the establishment, she tells Obi-Wan she also gathers information for Chancellor Organa, and has come across something disturbing. Before Obi-Wan finds out what this is, Padmé asks about the whereabouts of Anakin, and Obi-Wan feels a tremor in the Force.

Anakin finds Darth Maul in a warehouse, standing between the door and a large clear cylinder containing Shmi. Maul taunts Anakin, saying that he senses fear and anger in the young Jedi. Why fight those impulses, the Sith asks, when he could embrace them and increase his power tenfold? Anakin refuses, saying he became a Jedi to be better than his impulses, to overcome his fear and defeat his anger. Maul sneers in response, saying that fear and anger are natural and don’t need to be defeated, only harnessed, but that philosophy is inconvenient for the Jedi, which is why the Sith were crushed centuries ago. Maul uses the Force to activate a switch under Shmi’s tube, which begins to fill with deadly gas. Maul offers Anakin a choice: join the Sith and Maul will save his mother’s life, or try to defeat Maul in time to do it himself. Anakin attacks, and Maul toys with him. Eventually, Shmi begins coughing laboriously, and Maul whispers to Anakin that the boy is weak, and his mother is about to die due to his weakness. Unleashing his rage, Anakin beats on Maul with his lightsaber, foregoing any discipline or training, just hammering on the Sith until he breaks Maul’s guard and cuts him in half down the center. Running past his opponent, Anakin rushes to disable the gas and pulls Shmi out as Obi-Wan and Padmé arrive.

Shmi tells Anakin that he’s grown handsome and strong, and that she’s proud of him. Anakin replies that he’s failed, that he wasn’t strong enough to save her. Shmi whispers that he already has, that he’s shown great courage and that she’s happy to be with him. She dies in his arms. The slave trader, having kept a duplicate tracker, finds the trio and calls in Hutt enforcers. Obi-Wan and Padmé pull Anakin away from the scene and the three fight their way to Padmé’s ship, a beat-up freighter she dubbed the Peregrine. They depart Nar Shaddaa for Coruscant, as Anakin tells Obi-Wan of his encounter with Darth Maul and how disturbingly easy it was for him to give in to his anger.

The Jedi on Coruscant confirm the information Padmé discovered: Count Dooku, a Jedi Master, has betrayed the Republic. His mission had been to contact the Mandalorians, a nomadic group of warriors, to enlist their possible aid as defenders of the Republic’s borders. Instead, he fostered a conflict between their clans, and now works with a group known as the Death Watch which have become General Grievous’ personal guard. The leader of the Death Watch, Tor Vizla, has allowed himself to be cloned, producing legions of shock troops far more cunning and vicious than droids. With this new power, Grievous and Dooku have formed the Confederacy of Independent Systems, and while Dooku has expressed his desire to end the corruption in the Senate’s bureaucracy, Grievous’ motivation is simply the conquest of the Republic.

News reports tell of the ravaging of hundreds of worlds, the death and subjugation of billions of beings and messages from Dooku asking for the Chancellor’s surrender even as Grievous talks of a path of blood through the stars all the way to Coruscant. Vice-Chancellor Palpatine tells the Jedi that the only way the Republic will weather this crisis is if they are able to meet this threat on even ground, and as things stand they are vastly outnumbered. Despite Republic sentiment towards cloning, Palpatine has contacted Kamino and requested a clone army to face the incoming threat, but they lack a decent prime clone. One has been located, a Mandalorian bounty hunter named Jango Fett, but to find him, there would need to be a bounty on someone prominent enough to get his attention. Padmé volunteers, saying that it’s likely the Trade Federation put a price on her head before they became part of the CIS, and it wouldn’t take much to inflate that price to where it’d get Fett’s interest. Yoda suggests sending Jedi to deal with Grievous and Dooku personally rather than engaging in full-scale war, but Mace Windu supports Palpatine’s plan and assigns Kenobi and Skywalker to protect her and make their case to Fett when he shows himself.

Aboard the Peregrine, Anakin continues to struggle with his emotions as he tries to fix up the ship. Padmé tells him that he did all he could, and that he made the right decision in not choosing the easy path presented to him. Anakin still feels he could have done more, and wonders if Darth Maul was right in calling him weak. Padmé disagrees, saying that he’s one of the strongest people she’s ever known and has been since the day they met. Anakin returns to the repairs, but Padmé pulls him away for a kiss. The Peregrine is attacked, which interrupts them, and Padmé runs to the cockpit as Anakin tries to figure out what just happened.

The attacker is the Slave 1, and Obi-Wan advises Padmé to take the ship down someplace they can fight on even terms. They make their way to the planet Yavin and set down on the fourth moon. Jango Fett tracks them to an old temple, where the Jedi wait for him. Fett says he has no problems fighting Jedi to claim his reward, but Obi-Wan says a greater reward awaits him if he listens to their offer. Listening to the Jedi’s case, Fett ultimately agrees, on the condition he be given an unmodified clone of his own.

Bail Organa officially commissions the Army of the Republic with the Military Creation Act, asking the Jedi to serve as its generals. Until the clones were ready, planetary and provincial forces would be bolstered by the Jedi and the Republic navy to hold off Confederate forces. Count Dooku is contacted by Darth Sidious, who instructs his apprentice to make sure Confederate attacks do not penetrate into the Core Worlds too quickly. Dooku agrees, saying that he wants to make sure the forces under their command when all this is over is as large as possible. Sidious praises his apprentice, saying that together they’ll rule the Galaxy and prove their superiority to the Jedi once and for all – hence the apprentice’s name of Darth Tyranus.

In the long months that follow, Obi-Wan distinguishes himself as a brave but prudent front-line general. Anakin Skywalker takes on many covert operations for the Republic, working closely with Vice-Chancellor Palpatine, and Padmé flies the Peregrine on dangerous rescue and smuggling operations. Finally, on embattled Dantooine, Mace Windu arrives to relieve the besieged planetary defenders with a legion of Republic clones. Winning the battle in a spectacular fashion, it is declared that “the Clone Wars have begun in earnest.”

Bringing supplies to ground forces on Dantooine, Padmé finds Obi-Wan and Anakin discussing their concerns about the war. Obi-Wan believes in his heart that Master Yoda was right, and that they should track down and deal with the leaders of the Confederacy before more worlds suffer from the conflict. Anakin agrees, but points out that they’re under orders to lead the army. Padmé makes the suggestion that if they were to board the Peregrine for an inspection and she took off, they wouldn’t be in a great position to decide where they go. Following her plan, they leave Dantooine to track down Grievous, with Obi-Wan offering long-distance apologies to General Windu. Padmé visits Anakin during the journey and asks how he’s been. He tells her he’s been thinking quite a bit about that kiss, and proceeds to give her one of his own.

The Confederate fleet is plowing through to Duro during Operation Durge’s Lance. The Peregrine arrives just in time for Grievous to announce his victory from the blasted surface of the planet. Seeing his shuttle return to the command ship, the Peregrine transmits a bootleg CIS ident code to get permission to dock. The three sneak through the ship until they find Grievous. The cyborg general, upon seeing the Jedi, becomes enraged and attacks them. He seems to focus mostly on Obi-Wan, and just when he has the elder Jedi set up for the kill, Anakin steps in. The Republic arrives to drive off the Confederates, blasting the flagship without mercy. It begins to break apart, and Anakin tells Padmé to get Obi-Wan out of there. Padmé refuses to leave at first, but Anakin begs her to trust him and that he can handle Grievous. Tears in her eyes, Padmé helps Obi-Wan to his feet before the command deck splits in half, forcing them to run to the Peregrine as Anakin and Grievous continue their duel. Anakin loses his hand, but takes Grievous’ head from his shoulders and drives his lightsaber through the cyborg’s heart. He is last seen heading for an escape pod when the flagship explodes.

Aboard the Republic medical ship, General Kenobi reports that Grievous is dead. This is good news for the Republic, considering that Durge’s Lance was a major setback. The Jedi-led forces can now begin retaking the Outer Rim. Meanwhile, Padmé is unwounded but the medical droids inform her that she is pregnant. Obi-Wan comes to find her in tears, telling her that he doesn’t believe Anakin is dead. “He’s out there, somewhere. I know he’ll be fighting as long as he can. I promise you, I’ll find him and bring him back.”