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Tarkin, Republic and Empire

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He was born on the planet Eriadu, in the Outer Rim Territories. Wilhuff Tarkin grew up among the human races, completely isolated from the myriad varieties of life that the galaxy, in most other places, knew so well. It was only the periodic visits of a Jedi known as Sifo-Dyas, who developed Count Dooku as his apprentice there rather than on Coruscant, which felt like a fiction to the young Tarkin, that brought the greater world into even a semblance of focus. No, for Tarkin, the Republic was a vague idea, something that meant little to him, until the day a senator from Naboo came to him.

He felt privileged, a bit like Dooku, if he wasn?t feeling particularly modest, trying to express it in terms his friends might understand. This Palpatine said he could sense a growing unrest, and that Eriadu was to be central in the coming conflict. The senator said that there would be war, and that it would no longer be possible for Tarkin to hide there, to pretend there was no role for him in the Republic. He told Tarkin that very soon, things would change quite drastically indeed.

Tarkin knew almost nothing about Palpatine, and less about the Republic, but true to the senator?s word, change came swiftly. Palpatine was elected chancellor, and he came calling again. He told Tarkin this time that he needed a loyal friend in charge of Eriadu, one who might begin to appreciate the scope of things, and Tarkin was exactly that friend. He made Tarkin governor for the first time that day. It was the first time Tarkin began to seriously think about any of it. It was the first time he wondered what his planet?s place in the galaxy might actually be. He saw the growing Separatist movement, and understood that Eriadu could have no part in that. He visited Kamino, where he inspected a Clone Army, and consulted with Dooku personally for the first time. Dooku told him that he, too, was working for Palpatine, secretly, among the Separatists. He also told Tarkin that the Separatists were formulating a new kind of weapon, a Death Star as they called it, based on Eriadu technology, which he had supplied them, which he had gleamed from Tarkin?s own files.

At first, Tarkin was furious. That was a private project, and Dooku had never once bothered to consult him, not about his plans, nor about his dealings with the Separatists. Tarkin was also hurt that Palpatine hadn?t bothered to tell him that Dooku was also involved. But he saw it as an opportunity, because so far, Palpatine hadn?t put him in a dangerous situation, as he had Dooku. He suspected for the first time that Palpatine, whatever his final goals might be, had far greater plans in store for him. He didn?t stop to wonder what made him so special. In truth, he had been thinking about that for a long time. He thought he had a clarity that others lacked, which was what must have enticed Palpatine. He had never been mired in politics.

His approach to the Republic hadn?t changed a great deal, either. When all he had been concentrating on was the fortunes of Eriadu, Tarkin hadn?t had time to worry about the disputes that had begun plaguing the Republic. He was looking out only for the interests of his people. He didn?t care about the Trade Federation, and although he would never admit it to Palpatine, he didn?t care what happened to Naboo, either. He suspected that Palpatine didn?t, either. He had been told, long ago, that Eriadu had been a colony world of Alderaan, the planet of human races from where the Republic and the city world of Coruscant had spawned. But Alderaan had grown weak, complacent, and so too had the Republic. Tarkin never bothered to visit Alderaan, where he was told many descendents of his ancestors still lived, and he wasn?t interested in Coruscant, either. As long as his friend held reign there, that?s all that was important.

Tarkin wanted to bring the same kind of order he found and came to maintain personally on Eriadu to the entire Republic. When war finally did break out, he wasn?t surprised, nor moved to participate in, despite the fact that his people had begun to personally oversee the continued development of the Clone Army, another favor that was asked of him by Palpatine, after the chancellor apparently grew displeased at the thought of the Jedi in that role. He sat back as the Republic and the Separatists, for years, fought to no discernable advantage for either side. He watched as first Naboo, then Alderaan, wavered in their support of the Republic. He made sure that Eriadu never did. He saw no problem when Palpatine declared himself emperor, and effectively transformed the Republic into a galactic Empire. Nothing changed for him at first. He remained engaged in his activities on Eriadu, governor of his own world, working on the Clone Army, perhaps with a little more interest, suspecting that this move of his friend?s might finally prove the decisive act of the war. When Palpatine declared the Jedi to be enemies of the Empire, it was of no concern to Tarkin, who had always viewed the Republic knights in a dubious light. He saw no room for religion in a logical universe. He saw Dooku as weak, and wasn?t surprised to see him eliminated so quickly.

The changes started to come more quickly once the war ended. Palpatine became more remote, ironically forsaking Coruscant at last, just as Tarkin had done, not because he didn?t see the point but because he no longer needed a central base of control. He dissolved the senate and made Tarkin governor for the second time, not just of a world but an entire system, what he called a grand moff, no doubt some obscure reference to Naboo customs or the like, perhaps some joke. At any rate, Tarkin didn?t care. He gladly relocated from Eriadu to a life in space, the Star Destroyer fleet, where he could consolidate with little difficulty his position. He quickly took back control of the Death Star project.

Before long, he began to hear the rumors of a Rebel Alliance, a resistance, which seemed born out of the remains of the Separatist movement. He suspected but couldn?t confirm that Alderaan might be behind it, and made it a personal obsession to prove the link. He found an unlikely ally in the person of Darth Vader, who was said to be a Jedi, or Sith. It didn?t matter which one, only that Vader had the ear of Palpatine, almost as Dooku once had, and Tarkin knew very well what that actually meant. While Vader did as he was told, Tarkin was free to do what must be done, what he had always done, maintain order, transfer the clarity of his mind to the running of the Empire. He forgot all about Eriadu, because Eriadu was in essence gone. Most of its people had made the transition of running a planet to populating the ranks of the Imperial fleet, as the behest and the example of Tarkin himself. The Clone Army was eventually replaced with recruits, a process begun on Eriadu, and continued from there. Tarkin was no puppet. He was a man of vision. The only outsider he truly trusted was a man named Thrawn, whose origins Tarkin didn?t truly understand, and didn?t care to. Tarkin only asked for loyalty, and that?s what he got. Anyone else, anything else, became less than a concern, and in time, he grew quite comfortable. He knew what Vader represented, and he didn?t care. He was making a new order, one that would endure forever.

The Death Star was completed to schedule, which pleased Tarkin enough that he made plans for the construction of a second one, one he hoped to entrust in the hands of Thrawn. Alderaan, his rivals in the houses of Organa and Antilles, who were constantly questioning the need for governors when there were once freethinking senators, provided the perfect opportunity when he caught a princess of that world providing aide to the Rebels. He couldn?t prove it, so he did the next best thing, and used the planet as testing ground for his Death Star. He destroyed Alderaan as an example, to prove that things would never be the same again.

He had no way of knowing that his days were coming to an end. Vader had once been a pupil to Obi-Wan Kenobi, who had long ago become an exile on the desert planet Tatooine, where he had watched over the development of Vader?s own son, Luke Skywalker. Nothing about that scenario, because he knew nothing about it and couldn?t have bothered to care, concerned him, not even when Kenobi and Skywalker found their way onto the Death Star and confronted Vader. All Tarkin cared about was tracking the ship they?d traveled aboard back to the Rebel base, which he thought he was soon going to destroy as well. He was so confident, he never once thought that the Jedi stories he had ignored the connection between Dooku and Palpatine, the truth behind the Clone Wars, the presence of Vader would come back to haunt him. He didn?t think anything could harm his Death Star, much less a single X-wing fighter, piloted by Skywalker, just now coming into the awareness of his destiny.

He remained steadfast to the end. Wilhuff Tarkin, in his final moments, wondered if he could take a visit back to Eriadu, for old times? sake.

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