Courtesy LucasFilm

Concluding one of the possible ways the story arc of those Star Wars prequels could have gone if I’d written them. Episode 1 is here, and Episode 2 is here. Remember, 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 3: Rise of the Empire

The Clone Wars rage throughout the galaxy. Since the death of General Grievous four years ago, the malevolent Count Dooku has maintained control of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, despite the efforts of the Republic to bring him to justice.
Despite pressure from both the Senate and the Jedi Council to sue for peace, Vice Chancellor Palpatine insists that while Dooku lives, peace is impossible. As the wars continue, more Jedi die in the line of duty, weakening their position as the Republic’s guardians.
Some Jedi have gone missing, and large rewards are offered for any who can find these lost warriors and bring them back alive to the Republic. Among those missing is Anakin Skywalker, who remains unaware of his young twin children and the role he is about to play in the fate of the galaxy…

Mos Eisley: a wretched hive of scum and villainy. Into the cantina walks an cloaked figure, quietly asking questions of the patrons. The bartender points him towards the corner. The man at the corner table greets the cloaked figure with a toast from his glass, and the figure draws back his hood to reveal the bearded face of Obi-Wan Kenobi. The patron, Owen Lars, asks the Jedi if he’s come to find Owen’s brother-in-law and take him on some “damn fool idealistic crusade,” claiming the continuation of the Clone Wars will only bring more misery to the galaxy. Obi-Wan replies that all he wants is to reunite Anakin with his children. Owen didn’t know Anakin was a father, and apologizes for his rudeness. When last he saw Anakin, he’d recovered from his wounds and headed deep into the Outer Rim to hunt down Count Dooku. Obi-Wan reports this to Padmé back on Naboo, where she’s been raising the twins on her own. Padmé says they’ll need to make sure Anakin is brought home one way or another.

Meanwhile, on Nar Shaddaa, a man in Mandalorian armor is also looking for Anakin Skywalker. A few leads take him to an old, burned-out warehouse. The bounty hunter is greeted with a lightsaber across his throat, and Anakin says he expected Dooku’s thugs would track him there sooner or later. The bounty hunter calmly replies that he isn’t there on behalf of Dooku, but rather Padmé Amidala. Anakin apologizes to the man he assumes is Jango Fett. The bounty hunter corrects him, introducing himself as Boba Fett and reporting his father to be dead at the hands of Count Dooku. A Mandalorian unit had gone after the Confederate leader, and all of them ended up dead. To seek revenge, Boba had opted for accelerated maturity from the Kaminoans who’d created him. The two confer and come up with a plan.

Count Dooku is looking for bounty hunters to kill Jedi Knights, and Fett transmits that he has captured one alive. Count Dooku invites him aboard his flagship. The bounty hunter places Anakin in binders and the two walk through the ship. Dooku greets them, and begins asking Anakin about the deployment and strategies of the Republic forces. Anakin says honestly that he doesn’t know, but senses the Dark Side within Dooku, who admits to have taken his friend Qui-Gon’s advice too far but now there’s no turning back. The galaxy must be made to submit to peace and order, Dooku claims, and the corruption of the Senate means there will be turmoil no matter what. Anakin says what he proposes is tyranny, and Dooku replies that means his Sith name, Darth Tyranus, is apropos.

At this revelation, Boba Fett tosses Anakin his lightsaber. Dooku is unsurprised, saying that his master has foreseen this outcome. The two duel as Fett keeps the guards at bay. Eventually Anakin gains the upper hand and demands Dooku reveal the identity of his master. Count Dooku relents, saying that the Republic is under the control of Darth Sidious, a.k.a. Vice Chancellor Palpatine. Their plan was to weaken the galaxy and instill a state of fear to facilitate a new order, a stricter means of control. No matter who won the Clone Wars, Republic or Confederacy, the Sith would prevail. Anakin replies that their plan will never succeed as long as one Jedi remains alive, and Dooku responds that Anakin is no longer Jedi. He came to the flagship with murder in his heart, and no matter the righteousness of his motivations, his path towards the Dark Side has already begun. Anakin refuses to believe this and moves to shut down his lightsaber, but Dooku attacks him, forcing Anakin to defend himself, and the Sith lord laughs, pointing out the truth of his words and telling Anakin to remember what happened to Darth Maul. It’s kill or be killed, Darth Tyranus cries as he wounds Anakin and damages his robotic hand, and to the victor go the spoils. Anakin, conflicted, reels with uncertainty, but when Dooku misses a swing and leaves himself open, Anakin’s instincts take over and he kills the Sith Lord.

Fett is about to shoot down a Death Watch clone making a transmission when Anakin stops him. The figure in the Death Watch armor turns out to be Padmé, who’d snuck onto the flagship to intercept Anakin when he inevitably showed up. Before she can tell him about his children, Anakin asks her about the transmission. It was to Obi-Wan, she tells him, relaying the information on Palpatine, as well as his current whereabouts – Mustafar, overseeing the dismantling of the droid army factories. Anakin realizes what the Sith Lord’s plan is, and insists they hurry to Mustafar to stop it. Boba Fett gives Anakin his comlink information, telling the Jedi to call him when he’s needed. Anakin and Padmé board the Peregrine and hyperspace to Mustafar. Anakin spends the trip in a meditative state, trying to fight the Dark Side within him, and Padmé is unable to rouse him. She speaks to Obi-Wan via hyperspace, concerned that he still doesn’t know about his children, and Obi-Wan tells her it might be best to wait until this crisis has passed, at least.

On Coruscant, Mace Windu, Obi-Wan and other Jedi consider going directly to the Vice Chancellor’s office. Yoda advises them to walk a cautious path, as any interaction with the Dark Side is treacherous. Obi-Wan argues that allowing the Sith Lord to remain where he is would be too dangerous, but Yoda responds that to take direct action is reckless. Windu is inclined to agree with Obi-Wan, and a contingent of six Jedi is selected to deal with Palpatine. Yoda warns them that this action will doom the Jedi, that war has poisoned their reason and that they should wait for Palpatine’s true motives to come to light on their own. Windu says they cannot allow evil to exist. Obi-Wan recalls Owen’s words about a “damn fool idealistic crusade,” but goes with Windu in spite of his reluctance.

Palpatine is ready for them, slaying a few of the Jedi with his Dark Side powers until Obi-Wan and Windu remain. Separated within the labyrinthine facility, Obi-Wan finds Anakin and Padmé battling through the still-active droids. Before the two Jedi can get past their relief at being reunited, they sense the powers of a Sith Lord and a Jedi Master clashing above them. Obi-Wan suggests they stay out of it, but Anakin says Windu must be stopped, lest he kill Palpatine and fall to the Dark Side. He tells Obi-Wan he’s encountered many warnings in his travels and has tried to fight the Dark Side but feels himself falling into it, and fears for the likes of Mace Windu or even Obi-Wan following suit. Obi-Wan tells his friend that fear is yet another road to the Dark Side, and that he and Padmé should leave Mustafar while they still can. Anakin refuses, saying they need to work together to bring Palpatine to justice. Obi-Wan implores his friend to remember his training, and Padmé adds he needs to come home, that his wounds and mind need time to heal. Anakin tries to get past them to intervene in the fight above, but Obi-Wan physically restrains him. Anakin fights free of his friend’s hold and draws his lightsaber, saying he doesn’t want to fight his friend. Obi-Wan’s also reluctant, but readies himself, saying that no good will come of this. Padmé implores them to stop as their duel commences.

Their fight mostly consists of Anakin trying to get past Obi-Wan and Obi-Wan forcing him back. The path of their duel takes them to a service area and then a catwalk over the geothermal plant of the facility, which taps directly into the planet’s magma-filled mantle. Anakin asks Obi-Wan if this is the Jedi way, if justice truly pits friend against friend. Obi-Wan replies that Anakin is still a student, and must learn that sometimes the greater good is served through sacrifice. The facility shakes from the powers in use above them, and Anakin loses his footing, dropping his lightsaber on the catwalk. His artificial hand shorts out, still damaged from his fight with Dooku, and the short in the prosthesis burns Obi-Wan. Unable to maintain his grip on the catwalk, Anakin tells Obi-Wan to take care of Padmé before he falls. Obi-Wan cries out as his friend plummets towards his doom, but Anakin hits a stone ledge, breaking both of his legs. Despite his injuries, he manages to stay on the ledge, though the smoke and ash around him sting his eyes and burn his lungs.

Padmé finds Obi-Wan and suggests finding a way to rescue Anakin, but the facility shakes again. A burst of lightning comes from one of the windows above them, and they see Mace Windu flying from it, covered in lightning and falling to his death. They hear Palpatine’s mad laughter and Obi-Wan tells Padmé that he promised Anakin he’d keep her safe, and that means leaving Mustafar before Palpatine can kill them both. Padmé protests, but Obi-Wan tells her to think of her children. Looking down at where Anakin lays dying, tears in her eyes, Padmé turns away and leads Obi-Wan back to the Peregrine. They depart, and Palpatine finds Anakin, bringing him to Byss.

From Byss, Palpatine transmits a message to the Republic, saying that Supreme Chancellor Organa has used the Jedi to try and assassinate him. He promises that if Bail Organa is dealt with justly, he will ensure a lasting peace and order throughout the galaxy and an end to the Clone Wars once and for all. The Senate moves to impeach Bail Organa almost immediately. While the politics play out on Coruscant, Palpatine helps Anakin into the prosthetics that will allow him to live. The damage to his legs was so extensive that they need to be amputated, and he can no longer survive without a breathing apparatus. The Sith Lord waits for Anakin to regain consciousness before telling him they’ve both been betrayed by the Jedi. Anakin replies, once he’s able to speak, that there is no going back for him now, that the Jedi way has failed him and taken away any chance he had at happiness or peace. Promising to bring peace in ways the Jedi never could, Palpatine asks Anakin to help him establish a new order. Seeing no other choice, the former Jedi agrees, and Palpatine dubs his new apprentice Darth Vader.

Bail Organa is impeached and Palpatine named new Supreme Chancellor. Calling for the leaders of the former Confederacy to meet him on Coruscant, Palpatine also brands the Jedi as traitors to the Republic and orders the Army to hunt them down, placing Darth Vader in charge of their extermination. Obi-Wan Kenobi, fleeing from bounty hunters, finds Padmé on Naboo and tells her that if Darth Vader ever learns of the existence of his children, they’ll be in great danger. The two agree the twins should be split up, with Leia going to the care of Padmé’s friend Bail Organa on Alderaan while Obi-Wan takes Luke to his uncle Owen on Tatooine. Padmé tells Obi-Wan she needs to try and reach Anakin, but Obi-Wan tells her it’s a mistake, that Anakin is lost to them.

Dropping Leia off on Alderaan and getting word that Luke is safe, Padmé ignores Obi-Wan’s warning, flying the Peregrine towards Darth Vader’s flagship. Vader is speaking with Boba Fett, complimenting him on his use of disintegration to deal with several Jedi. The ship is not authorized to approach, so the deck officer orders it destroyed. Vader senses Padmé aboard and issues the order to cease fire, but the Peregrine is hit before the flagship stops shooting and Padmé dies, whispering Anakin’s name as the transport explodes. Enraged, Darth Vader strangles the deck officer. When word reaches Palpatine of the accident, he laughs, confident that Vader’s journey to the Dark Side is complete.

On Coruscant, bringing the Confederate leaders before the Senate, Palpatine declares that with the various powers of the galaxy as his allies, he must now establish the Galactic Empire to ensure the atrocities of the Clone Wars are never repeated. He declares himself Emperor, saying that a new order shall arise from the ashes of war, that peace and justice will reign throughout the galaxy, and that violations of Imperial law – his law – will not be tolerated. Seeing the speech on Tatooine and hearing the cheers and applause that follow the death of democracy, Obi-Wan Kenobi goes to visit Luke. Owen Lars angrily tells the Jedi to stay away from him and his family. Despondent, Kenobi wanders into the desert and contemplates his failure, but Yoda appears to him and tells him not to despair. The Jedi Master says that in time, a new hope shall arise, and that the Jedi will return someday.

The final scene is in the Lars household, where young Luke Skywalker plays with an airspeeder model. He takes his hands away from it and it floats in midair for a second by itself as he watches it. Even when it falls, he laughs and claps his hands joyfully.