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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.