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A Single Decision is a Star Wars fanfic written by Fanfiction.net author Timewatch. Started in 2016, the story centers around an Alternate Universe setting set in the Prequel Era in which Anakin Skywalker and Chancellor Palpatine are accidentally killed aboard the Invisible Hand during the Battle of Coruscant. This event changes the course of the Clone War drastically, as Sidious's plans are immediately scrambled and the war he orchestrated is left to wage naturally. As of July 2021, it has received semi-consistent updates in the form of 44 chapters with a word count of 393k+, and explores both the military and political ramifications of this event on the Galaxy at large as both sides work to fill their respective power vacuums and end the war.

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A Single Decision contains examples of:

  • Achievements in Ignorance: With a hefty dose of Dramatic Irony. By ordering Palpatine to be killed, Grievous, with him being none the wiser, has put a hard end to Darth Bane's Order of Sith Lords, stopped a plan for galactic domination that has been centuries in the making, prevented the Republic from becoming a totalitarian empire, and saved the Jedi Order from complete annihilation
  • Adaptational Badass: Nothing in canon even suggests that Janus Greejatus is a Force Sensitive. While not terribly powerful, Janus in this story is able to use the Force to read minds.
  • The Alleged Car: Esera's Recusant-Class destroyer, Encounter: technically a loan from Kahn's fleet, it is in a state of complete disrepair when she acquires it, and has to undergo several refits over the course of her time in command like having to replace the entire stern section after being torn off inside a Venator-class Star Destroyer, or the engines after some very dangerous space-time shenanigans.
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  • Alternate Universe: With Anakin and Palpatine both lying dead on the observation deck of the Invisible Hand in chapter 1, one can imagine that there will be some very immediate, very dramatic deviations from the canon timeline.
  • The Alternet: The Holonet is used occasionally by Esara between missions, and is often presented as a mirror of real life forum discussion pages.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: Donwplayed. Even the Jedi and Palpatine's political detractors lament the tragic circumstances of his death, and admit he was doing a good job leading the Republic through a time of war. However, they can't help but also feel relieved over it, since they were worried he was gathering too much power, and in a way, they feel Grievous did them a favor by disposing of Palpatine before he could grow into a bigger problem.
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  • Became Their Own Antithesis: In order to turn the tide of the losing war, most Separatist commanders agree to consolidate all the power into a centralized government and nationalize every asset that can help them win the war. Many Separatists point out that the CIS was formed precisely to escape a big, centralized government, and let systems rule themselves and trade freely without a higher power overlooking them and demanding them to pay taxes. They also begin to push for less reliance on droids and more reliance on organics, since they feel the droids' very limited intelligence cost them many battles.
  • Break Outthe Museum Piece: The Malevolence's sister ship, Cataclysm, is brought back into service to help bolster the weakened CIS navy after spending the majority of the war as an empty superstructure, its internal components having been cannibalized and used to repair other ships in the fleet.
  • The Conscience: Esera is this to Grievous, as she always tries to make him try nonviolent solutions to problems before resorting to Grievous' preferred method.
  • The Corrupter: In contrast to Esera, there's Ricimer Eemon, one of Grievous' commanders, as he's the one suggesting Grievous many reforms that brings the CIS closer to a fascist regime (power concentrated into a centralized government, the implementation of a Secret Police, etc). Though, unlike most examples of this trope, Eemon isn't evil or even malicious; he's aware of the implications of his suggestions, but he believes they're the price to pay if they hope to defeat the Republic.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: A major battle between the Republic and CIS is decided in a crazy plan by Grievous that involves a half-finished superweapon, wreckage from a previous plan, and obfuscating stupidity.
  • The Dark Side Will Make You Forget: Averted, as Esera is told a few times throughout the story not to give up on her ideals for the sake of getting results. Played Straight, as Grievous constantly struggles to remember his actual past from the Clone Wars.
  • Decisive Battle: Averted, because after the Battle of Coruscant left the Republic and CIS injured but not beaten, both sides came to the conclusion that the war would not be won by any single pitched battles between massive fleets, even if such events happened again.
  • Dragon Ascendant: After Palpatine's death, pro-war senators and other officials loyal to the late sith will work to place one of their own (Tarkin) in the Chancellor's seat to continue the war effort and bring to fruition their predecessor's grand designs.
  • Dramatic Irony: Given the plot, plenty:
    • Grievous hates the Jedi with a passion and works for Sith Lords. By killing Palpatine shortly after Dooku's death, Grievous put an end to the Order of the Sith Lords and ensured the Jedi Order's survival.
    • During his trip back to Utapau, Grievous expects Darth Sidious to be pleased to hear that Palpatine and Skywalker are dead. Too bad Grievous is unaware that he killed the very Sith Lord he served under as well as the Jedi said Sith Lord was grooming to become his ultimate apprentice.
  • Fate Worse than Death: the story introduces a time-honored piece of sci-fi to the Star Wars Universe: Nerve Stapling, where a person's body is hijacked via the brainstem and controlled like a biological droid, causing irreversible damage and deterioration to the brain over time until it dies.
  • Fix Fic: The raison d'être for this entire work is that from an early age, the author had been frustrated by the show "Star Wars: The Clone Wars"'s portrayal of the Separatists as Card Carrying Villains, despite the fact that the Episode III opening had stated there were "Heroes on Both Sides".
  • Gone Horribly Right: When Grievous tells the droids to kill Anakin and the Chancellor, he is very much surprised and disappointed when he finds out later that they succeeded.
  • Gray-and-Grey Morality: As seen in Fix Fic above, the main motivation behind this fic was to portray the Republic as less unambiguously heroic and the Separatists as less unabashedly evil:
    • While the Republic has many heroic Officers and Jedi, there are quite a few willing to commit war crimes and incur massive civilian casualties to win battles.
    • While the Separatist Council members are the same greedy slimeballs they're portrayed as in canon material, the fic also shows many other Separatists with very valid reasons for wanting to leave the Republic and genuinely believe in the Separatist cause.
    • Later, it begins to move towards Black-and-Grey Morality when Tarkin becomes the new Supreme Chancellor, and, with the help of Palpatine's circle of confidants who were aware of his plans and identity as a Sith Lord, begins to slowly turn the Republic into a proto-Empire.
  • Harmless Villain: According to the Republic Constitution, if the Chancellor dies, his position is filled by the Vice Chair until an emergency election can be held, and in this case the Vice Chair is Mas Amedda, a being known only for standing next to the Chancellor during speeches and waiting for "cooler heads to prevail". Despite the numerous executive privileges granted to him as Chancellor, Amedda pulls Republic forces from the Outer Rim Sieges to reinforce the Core in the wake of the Battle of Coruscant, costing them victories in multiple sectors and giving the CIS time to regroup and deal with their own transition of power. These actions are immediately and obviously unpopular, but he continues this strategy of doing nothing until a vote of no confidence is called on him.
  • Lady Land: Deconstructed with the Emberlene system, a sector ruled by women where men are, at best, second class citizensnote , who are proud of their misandry and practice eugenics. Despite their Cultural Posturing on how civilizations where men and women are treated equally being "barbarians", they're an incredibly backwards society, both socially and technologically, and get their ass handed by the Authala Alliance, needing the CIS to rescue them.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Shortly after Palpatine pulls a rather cruel You Have Outlived Your Usefulness on Dooku, he's immediately killed by Dooku's second in command.
  • Morality Chain: Esera Komara is this for Grievous, insisting on finding diplomatic solutions before trying it his way.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Defied, much to Grievous' chagrin, regarding the name of his Secret Police.
    Grievous: We have a new agency in the government. I am calling it the Office of Safety and Information. The name was not my first choice, but I was told that these things require... subtlety.
  • Noble Demon: Without Sidious or Dooku around to control him, Grievous starts to reconnect with his Kaleesh warrior roots, and is often pressured by Esera to refrain from immediately blasting apart anything that agitates him.
  • Occam's Razor: Discussed on chapter 41. After Esera is done investigating Sidious' identity through Dooku's Holocrons and claims that the more likely candidate was Palpatine himself, Grievous naturally disputes this claim, since there's no way Sidious would die to a bunch of battle droids. Esera, however, rebuttes it by claiming that this is the conclusion with the fewest assumptions and the one that makes the more sense, especially if one takes into account all the political power Palpatine had gathered during the war.
    Esera: Maybe Sidious is a shapeshifting Sith magician. Maybe Sidiuos is a literal nobody so obscure he's not even in the records. Maybe Sidious is sitting in a hospital with amnesia- or maybe Sidious is the one person with power and influence we know for a fact is dead. That is the explaination with the fewest assumptions, Grievous. Palpatine and Sidious are the same person, and your droids killed him half a year ago. You executed your own master by accident.
    Grievous: Do you realize how ridiculous it is that the Jedi would not have been able to sense that Palpatine is a Sith Lord?
    Esera: Grievous, you of everyone should know how fallible Jedi are. If the Jedi weren't able to sense a Sith Lord in direct contact with the Chancellor, there's no way they'd be able to sense the Chancellor being a Sith Lord.
  • Old Master: During her travels, Esera picks up the services of a "Skakoan Cyber-Guard", an older, cybernetically-enhanced warrior who has intuited methods of healing through the force, wields a vibro-axe in combat, and suffers from arthritis.
  • Playing Both Sides: Palpatine's death puts an end to this trope. The Clone Wars was a gigantic farce that the Separatists were destined to lose from the very beginning, whose purpose was to help Palpatine achieve absolute power and destroy the Jedi Order. Since there's no one left to pull the strings of either side, the Clone Wars is now a genuine conflict.
  • Propaganda Machine: Both sides have a large news outlet that their respective populaces know full well to be extremely and blatantly biased in the content they put out.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When Esera learns Republic forces in orbit plan to bombard an entire city full of civilians and lie to the people in charge to get away with it, she decides to get out of dodge by stealing an ARC-170 and flying as far away as possible.
  • Secret Police: After being nearly killed by a coup launched by the Commerce Guild, Grievous accepts the suggestion of one of his commanders to create this in order to eliminate potential traitors before they have the chance to act.
  • Villain Protagonist: Much of the story is told from Grievous' point of view. He does become gradually less villanous.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Palpatine and Dooku's deaths has this effect on both the Republic and the Separatists.
    • The Republic main split seem to be between those who supported Palpatine and want the war to continue, led by Wilhuff Tarkin, and those who opposed him and want the war to end already, lead by Mon Mothma, Bail Organa and Padme Amidala.
    • Later, this happened within the Jedi Order, between those who still follow the Council and try to fight battles while trying to minimize casualties and destruction, and those who want the war to end as soon as possible, and resort to all kind of war crimes to win battles. The latter camp eventually split from ther Order and swear their alliegance to Tarkin.
    • The Separatists have a similar split, but there's another between the military commanders who lead the war effort and the heads of the Mega Corps who fund it: the former want to win the war at all costs, even if it comes at the expense of the principles the CIS was founded on, and want to stop relying on droids so much, since organics are more intelligent and capable; the latter feel winning the war is pointless if they lose their wealth in the process (to the point that some even consider surrenderring to the Republic a better choice if they can negotiate a deal that keeps them rich), and they're against the idea of replacing droids with organics since organics don't work for free like droids do. To the point that the Commerce Guild attempts a coup d'etat against Grievous in order to take over the CIS government and officially surrender to the Republic.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Anakin and Palpatine are both killed off very unceremoniously in the first chapter, eliminating their presence in the story right off the bat and serving as the catalyst for everything that happens over the course of the story.


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