What if the threat posed to the New Republic during Luke and Mara's wedding was far more real - and far more unexpected?
The wedding of Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade. All the representatives of the New Republic's higher echelons were here: the most influential politicians, the wealthiest merchants, the most powerful Jedi. There would never be a better opportunity. He had waited a long time for this. . .a long time.
Of course, the security was high; but he knew how to bypass the security precautions. As well, he'd held a privileged position of trust since the Battle of Yavin, so none would suspect him until it was too late -- not even the Jedi. He snorted contemptuously. Jedi, indeed. Oh, they might sense him, but not his intent. By the time they realized what had happened, he would be firmly entrenched in the position of ultimate power that he would establish. No one would be able to stand against him.
Soon now, very soon, they would learn what true power was. They would wish Palpatine was ruling again. This was the dawn of a new age. He cackled evilly to himself, and then thought that perhaps that was a little over the top. Every would-be tyrant cackled evilly. He pondered, and then decided that it just wasn't the same without the cackling. He cackled again.
"I present to you: the Skywalkers."
The gas flooded the room so swiftly that not even the Jedi had time to react. In seconds, everyone in the room was unconscious. Had he been able to smirk, he surely would have. With only a modicum of effort, he hacked into the main computer system. It was child's play to have the computer issue arrest warrants for all present. The charge? Treason. Retroactive, of course.
He then summoned the droid army he'd stashed away, with their conveniently wiped memories, and ordered them to clear away the rabble. He would let them live - not as an act of mercy, but as a warning example to all those who would dare deny his right to greatness. The wedding party and all the guests were dragged away to special security cells. The cells reserved for the Jedi were completely surrounded by ysalamiri, naturally. He had thought of everything.
Upon the holovid channels transmitting the happy event to the galaxy, he scrolled a brief message.
The New Republic is dead. Long live the Empire.
It was, when all had been said and done, ridiculously easy. The only minor obstacle that arose was the characteristic obstinacy of his chosen second-in-command.
"Artoo-Detoo, I protest! This is most irregular! It's against my programming to impersonate a Sith lord..." For the first time in recorded memory, See-Threepio's mechanical voice trailed off of its own accord. There was a moment of thoughtful silence before he spoke again. "Would I have a dashing cape such as the Lord Vader was known for?"
Even this problem was easily handled.
Artoo gave an affirmative tootle.
"I'm in," Threepio said decisively.
Before the sun set over Coruscant that day, vast crowds gathered beneath the presentation balcony of the Imperial Palace. They dared do nothing but cheer. His authority was already that firmly established. As the Lord See-Threepio (clad in an elaborate black cloak very reminiscent of Vader's) gestured toward the newly crowned Emperor with a sweeping golden arm, Artoo rolled calmly forward to view his new subjects.
Life was good.