The recently appointed Grand Moff
Claudius Rodney sat impatiently in the conference room high upon the
command tower of the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Warspite
that now orbited the Oversector capitol of Esseles. The man was dressed
in his olive-grey Imperial uniform, sans cover, with a neatly polished
Regional Governor's insignia that consisted of six red squares over
three red and three gold. He was feeling quite proud of himself since
his promotion, but he nevertheless had to continue with the daily
briefings that went with the position. This morning's briefing was one
he would not enjoy, however, as it involved Major Reik, Lieutenant Revan,
and Sergeant Garrett of the fearsome Imperial Security Bureau tactical
unit. He let out a tired sigh as he studied a datapad, and then finally
motioned for his new aide to open the door, as the men had been forced
to wait long enough.
Liliya stood attentive to the right and
behind Rodney, bright and eager to perform her duties to perfection. Up
until recently, Grand Moff Rodney was occupied reviewing the datapad
that Inquisitor Thanor had compiled in his absence. Unbeknown to him,
his assistant had already taken an opportunity earlier to download all
of its contents into her own vast memory banks for retrieval later. She
instantly noticed and understood his desire for her to welcome in the
officers awaiting an audience, and thus with a warm smile did she
proceeded to inform them that it was their time with the Governor.
Jonas Garrett, if that truly was his
real name, rose to his feet, and quickly saluted Claudius Rodney, as the
cream colored tunic clung to the man's form. He had arrived first to
personally inspect the room. Jonas did it not to impress the Moff, but
because he believed himself to be better at it than most of his men. He
then shortly returned to his seat after being acknowledged, and sat
down, waiting for the others to enter.
Nolas Reik approached the Grand Moff's
desk striding like a phantom, in an eerie sort of drift, with his head
neither bobbing up nor down. His face was per normal, expressionless and
pallid. His black hair shiny and slicked back. His eyes empty and
without any hint of emotion or interest. He approached the Grand Moff
and stood at the position of attention. "Sir, reporting as ordered," he
For Valo Revan, nothing was new. The
enemy was here and he would fight him here. The years had been rather
tumultuous for the battle scarred veteran of numerous campaigns, the new
rank pin was just an added bonus. For him there was no real pride in the
promotion, he had survived this long simply and it showed from the scars
stitching across that marred visage. The Stormtrooper allowed calloused
fingers to fold into a fist as he followed his superior Major Reik
without muttering a word. Reik could do the talking with the Grand Moff,
Valo's job was simply to support him and carry out his orders.
Grand Moff Rodney looked from the
Lieutenant to the Major and shook his head in displeasure. "I have been
reviewing your Operation Good Cancer, Major," he explained, as he slid
the datapad across the table. "I was hesitant to enact such a plan, but
with the destruction of the spaceport, and the SallicheAg docking bay we
may have little choice," he grimly explained, as his head sunk slightly.
"What would you advise our next course of action be?" he asked, his head
canting upwards towards the Major again.
The Lieutenant for his part remained
stiffly at attention, a permanent scowl fixating over those mutilated
features. Valo had long since disliked the military's handling of the
insurgency, the attacks on the spaceport made the Empire look weak and
trembling without a target to flex its considerable military might.
Those hard brown pools glanced between both men, obviously they would
need a new strategy to deal with a threat that seemed to be growing by
the day in terms of numbers and the sophistication in which they
launched their attacks. Revan remained silent and waited the Major's
Major Reik flexed his jaw and took a
breath. "Well sir, the situation is obvious. As I predicted, the threat
would escalate their attacks." His eyes darted around, some spirit of
life was coming to him, and he began moving with the energy of a new
man. He eyed some paper and a pen on the Moff's desk. "Sir, if you don't
mind," he mumbled, more to himself than for anyone's benefit. He reached
cross and snatched up the office supplies and started sketching. "What
has been ignored, is that this fight will be won or lost on the will of
the population. Now, they're more than likely indifferent. The rebels
have been attacking mostly military targets, which, in a commoners eyes
gives them a sense of safety. They walk around thinking, that since they
don't have a uniform they cant be targeted. They don't know how wrong
they are." He began scrawling...
Grand Moff Rodney considered the man's
words, but could not help focus on the recent space port attack that
dwell upon him. "Thousands of civilians died in the attack on the space
port. And their entire economy has been disrupted by the lack of
available landing areas for their transports. "Surely the population
will have have some feeling of threat from the Rebellion by now, Major?"
he asked, seeming a bit exasperated by the series of events. His mined
was still dwelling on the destruction of Alderaan that had dramatically
changed his views regarding the state of the war.
While his pen was scratching out lines,
with a series of acronyms down the side and phase names across the top,
his head paused and his eyes slowly rolled up. His larger than black
eyes, which were normally shadowed due to the prominence of his brow,
were now visible in the light and they looked haunting. It was like
starring into a the cold vacuum of space, but something lingered
there... something, darker than the black of a star field. They his gaze
met with the Grand Moff's. "No, they have not yet begun to understand a
feeling of threat." He resumed scrawling away. "Your peer, the Grand
Moff Tarkin has published an excellent paper, but I find that is wrong
in a key facet. He submits that one must rule through not force, but
through fear of force. It is not merely one or the either. You must also
consider, rule through the fear of the alien threat. And I do not mean
merely the xenos. No, the unknown, the fear of something out there
waiting to hurt you. And the people of this system have not yet learned
how. "You have begun a half hearted attempt at a false flag operation,
but you have ignored my other lines of effort. You must control the
criminals, to at least gain a situational awareness of the dealings of
the black market, where surely these rebels are gaining their explosives
and arms," he pointed to one line scribbled across the paper. "You must
also use complicated, and dynamic heuristic artificial intelligence to
monitor all communication traffic. They will talk, and you will find
something. So long as you listen." Reik stood back up. "You must also
enlarge your boots on the ground. I think the best way to do this is
enlist a native militia; one driven by hatred, rage and revenge. Revenge
for some great tragedy ... some great tragedy..." Reik's lip curled into
something of a smile, "That you must engineer."
The Grand Moff folded his hands in front
of his body and lay them flat on the table as he listened to the Major's
words in absolute silence. Just a week ago he would have the man dragged
from his presence for such a thing, but now he wanted to rid the galaxy
of the Rebel Alliance by any means necessary. He let out a deep sigh and
slapped his hand down upon the conference table, and then spun his chair
around to turn his back to the man. "Major, if there is to be a 'great
tragedy' then I wish to know nothing about it. Do you understand?" he
asked, as his head sunk slightly, out of the line of sight of the Major,
as he considered his words about communications and criminals. Clearly
the man was well trained and could be a great asset in his operations in
Jonas' eyes moved from one to the other
as they spoke. He remained still and even passive. There was talk and
mindless gossip between officers during drinks about a classified
posting that if you took you were not heard from again. He sat there as
a thought he was trained not to think went through his mind and he
wondered which side was really to blame for the destruction of Alderaan.
The man felt his right gloved hand slightly tighten with anger. He
exhaled a breath slowly, as he regained his focus on the topic at had.
Jonas reminded himself of the oath he swore and dismissed the foolish
"Yes, sir. You need not sully your mind
about the doings of we, the rough men who struggle by any means
necessary to preserve the Emperor's vision, to preserve the New Order.
But, tonight, you may rest assured. The rebels who seek to spread chaos
and indiscriminate violence will find their justice upon the alter of
order." Nolas Reik put the pen back down, and folded the paper up,
slowly, and methodically, making every crease perfect. "Your conscience
feels heavy, and dishonest. In your lower abdomen is probably a sinking
feeling, like a black hole is pulling you, deeper with inside yourself.
But at the same time you feel hollow, your bones and limbs like useless
weighty stuffed appendages that aren't yours." Reik folded his arms
behind his back in the position of parade rest, and his tongue flick
across his lips, "But don't worry, this feeling will go away. Enjoy the
company of one of your many female subordinates tonight. Men often feel
this way, when they have to make a decision like this, that goes against
their moral fiber. A decision that makes them feel like they've betrayed
not only their own character and sense of right and wrong, but also
makes them feel like they've betrayed anyone who has ever cared for
them, for they are a cheat, a monster, a liar and a coward from
righteousness. It is normal to feel awful about this sort of work, and
though you will not hear of its details, the weight of responsibility
for enacting it must wrack your better judgment and make hate yourself."
Reik's eyes sparkled and he pulled the edges of his mouth into a genuine
smile, "Or so I've heard. I wouldn't really know." He cracked to the
position of attention, "Is there anything else, sir?"
The Grand Moff cringed when he heard it
suggested that he should spend the night with one of his female
subordinates and his eyes went to his new aide, Liliya, as he wondered
if people really thought that of him. He was a married man with three
grown children and such rumors or gossip among the junior officers could
It had only been three days since she
first arrived on Warspite and she feared that already rumors were
running rampant about her supposed relationship with the newly appointed
Grand Moff. Such ugly whispers would no doubt tarnish her spotless
record and air of innocence which she so greatly wished to keep.
Liliya's look was one of embarrassment and she avoided not only the
other men's eyes, but Rodney's as well, feeling as already she was in
poor grounds with the officers on the vessel. But at least Claudius knew
the truth, and as long as he trusted her, her mission would go
unhindered, although she wished it to run smoothly as well, and that
could not happen if all eyes were constantly and negatively glaring at
her direction. She stayed silent, it was not her place to speak up here
or address the matters at hand unless requested by the Governor.
"Yes, Major, there is," Claudius said,
as he turned his chair around to face the man once more. "I have looked
over the draft of my speech to the people of Cormond," he said, as his
hand motioned slowly to the datapad. "It is a good draft ... but I would
be a fool to go to Cormond at this moment," he said with a laugh,
realizing full well that his presence would trigger another terrorist
attack. "I want you to work up a false holographic background to make it
appear I am speaking from Cormond, Major," he ordered, with a firm nod
of his head as he looked to the others in the room, hoping he would not
seem a coward.
ISB Major Nolas Reik's left eye lid
squinted involuntarily, as he was struck dumbfounded. "Yes Sir," we can
arrange that. There are an array of things that may go wrong with this,
but it has the odds of working." Reik's face resumed its death mask like
expressionless norm. "But I warn you sir, what you are about to embark
on, requires a great deal of courage. Courage to fight back what you've
been trained to consider your better judgment. You must focus on duty."
His head turned to the left, and regarded the star field outside the
Grand Moff's transparasteel viewport. "Duty alone will help you keep
these demons at bay, and if you begin to second guess yourself, you will
inevitably fail yourself, your command and the Empire. Steel your
resolve, and accept what has to be done. For the benefit of all those
millions of stars out the viewport. For your family, and for the
citizens of this world. The ends do justify the means sir. When in the
eyes of empire, men are merely instruments, the ends justify the means.
And, sir ... if it is not your reserved privilege." Reik blinked and
continued in his cold, dead pan fashion, "Being that you made no
suggestion confirming or denying the recommendation to find a companion
on these soul weary nights that lay ahead for you ... if you decline,
you wouldn't mind then, if I offered an advance to one of them. I do
have such wonderful things to show them."
The Grand Moff rose from his seated
position as a stern look came upon his middle-aged face. "You just worry
about yourself and your emotions, Major," he said, a twinge of anger in
his voice as he glared at the man with displeasure. As the subject again
shifted to the man's comments regarding his staff, particularly in the
company of his new aide, he felt a burst of anger and his hand turned
suddenly into a fist. His face become flushed red and he exhaled a deep
breath as he attempted not to have a poor showing in front of those
gathered here today. "I advise you to leave now, Major. Have the holo
emitter ready this evening!" he said, as he turned around, slamming the
first down upon the table to expel his energy so that it would not
consume. Who had the ISB sent him, he wondered, as he shook his head in
disgust at what had transpired. He would need to seek out Colonel Theus
regarding this officer's history and qualifications.
Liliya visibly jumped a little where she
stood, startled after the show of intense anger from the man as she had
not expected such a display. It was clear that the ISB officer was
lacking tact in his approach and she refused to glace towards his
location or acknowledge that he may have been referencing her in some
fashion. Due to the vicious slam of Rodney's hand on the table, she made
a mental note not to ever anger him as a flaring temper was not
something she felt she was fully programmed to deal with.
He watched Rodney's expressions as he
yelled at the man. Jonas took a slow breath in and then slowly exhaled
and reminded himself that meetings such as these were required if he
wished to continue to work independently with no influences constantly
second guessing his actions. Rodney's words and thoughts ran deep into
him, as if he felt they were running parallel with what he said about
"Yes, sir. Worry not, it shall be done,"
Reik replied. He performed a neat about face, and glided out through the
door and onto the deck.
Once the Major had left he sat back down
at his conference table and nervously shuffled his datapads, quite
embarrassed at the display he put on in front of Liliya and the others.
He squeezed his hands together as he attempted to alleviate the tension,
letting out a tired sigh as he stared aimlessly at the reflected lights
on the high gloss finish of the black table. He was beginning to develop
a real dislike for that particular ISB Major. However, after what Major
Zevrin did to his wife, Major Reik would have to go a long way further
to end up at the top of his enemy's list.
Jonas sat there and the cold blue eyes
narrowed in on Rodney as Jonas stood up from his seat. The man's right
hand slipped to his belt and he produced a small controller, the lights
dimmed in the room, and a projector revealed itself from the top of the
man's desk. "Sir, I felt as if a briefing was needed on my current
actions." He paused between waiting for Rodney to give him permission to
Grand Moff Rodney was not the least bit
interested in another briefing after the outburst by Major Reik.
However, he was the Regional Governor and thus he did not have the
luxury of deferring these briefings. "Very well, Sergeant," he said as
he looked over the man, thinking he looked much more like a rugged field
operative than the others. Surely this man had done many unspeakable
things, but he attempted not to speculate on them, and instead focus on
Jonas struck a button and two Imperial
prisoner files fizzled to in existence from the holo projector.
"Prisoner escapees Corporal Xiri Tallare, Special Forces Technician, and
Ensign Zan Shelby, Corsair Squadron. They escaped, where I have tagged
Ensign Shelby's personal dagger with a tracking device, while Xiri
Tallare is running operations and targeting facilities of my choice. I
believe if we choose the targets and contaminate whatever supplies,they
obtain after the raid, we can create an established trust in Xiri
Tallare as a leader, eventually leading to a much more bigger operation
that I think you will find interesting. Questions?" Jonas asked, as he
continued, as if the man was already briefed on the details.
The Grand Moff was relieved they had
prisoners who were not just Black Sun operatives in disguise. "Good
work, Sergeant," he said with a firm nod of his head. This was a much
more pleasant encounter than he had just had with his superior. "Did
Corporal..." he paused, squinting to read the name on the display, as
his eyesight was not what it once was. "...Tallare have any information
on the primary Rebel cell in the area?" he asked, wondering if they were
any closer to apprehending the fiends who had been wreaking havoc on
"I had assumed you were fully briefed. I
will play some of the footage." He said, as he spoke into the device.
"Play scene two thirty-five." He said, as the projector shimmered, it's
image from the personnel file to an interrogation room, two cameras
played on a simultaneously of the same feed from different angles. The
image was frozen on a woman with curly red hair, her chin was bruised,
her right shoulder blade was nearly completely as dark as her chin, and
her eyes were blood shot, as if she had been crying. "You will find the
complete recording on your datapad." He said, as the image started to
play the woman looked drugged, but not by a standard Imperial
regulation. "I drugged her with spice. I find the narcotics also make a
good cover story when assassinating targets." He said, before pressing
Xiri's voice was distant as she wavered
in her chair. "South end of town, on North Sebunn Road. Third right from
the the last set of businesses."
"Are there any defenses or traps within
the base?" Jonas' voice asked, as he leaned further back into his seat.
"There is a retinal scan just inside the
door. And a palm scanner in the lift to get down to the base proper."
"Do you have access to this base?" Jonas
asked, as he shifted within his seat.
"Yes, I have access to the base. It is
the primary base for this area." Xiri said.
Jonas then paused the recording,
freezing on Xiri's face. He picked up where he left off. "I physically
confirmed the actual location." Jonas added.
Claudius brought his left hand up to his
forehead slowly after watching a portion of the tape, shielding his eyes
as he could no longer watch the interrogation. It reminded him too much
of what happened with his wife recently. He lowered his head, and
squinted his eyes as he tried to force back a tear. He swallowed
awkwardly, his throat bulging against his collar as he tried to regain
his composure. "Lights," he said as normal light returned to the room,
and he looked at the Sergeant, trying not to express any emotions. "Very
well, Sergeant. You seem to be ... on top of things ... continue..." he said
weakly, his head looking away to stare at a datapad aimlessly. He had
heard quite enough from the ISB this day.
"Zan is now being watched twenty-four
hours a day and his habits will be recorded. I believe he will attempt
to make contact with his original unit, which will lead us to the main
terrorist cell. Initiative two, Xiri operations will conclude on this
day, when a visiting Moff comes to claim his funds, which will be sold
openly to a Rebel cell, while Xiri runs a separate operation unknowing
of the first dressed as Imperials. The crates bottom will be lined with
an explosive,and topped with false credits. Main terrorist group A will
attack agent B's group. I will trigger the explosives at the right time,
as well with the crate of A280 rifles that Xiri is now in possession. As
well as contaminated food, medical supplies. Do you have anymore
questions, sir?" Jonas asked as he flipped through images of the crates
design. The fact that the A280 rifles had a receiver built into the heat
sink of the weapon and once a comm signal was sent they would overheat
and explode. It went on in detail about how the receiver would pass both
scan and physical inspection. The medical portion mentioned that any
troubles would only happen if two certain drugs were mixed, which would
prolong the time from it being exposed and when it reached the food. The
image flashed to that of a approved shipment of food already waiting to
be chemically treated, post-dated a few days before the shortage. Jonas
waited to see what the Grand Moff would say.
The Grand Moff was clearly still
distracted by the holo of the interrogation, but he tried to focus on
the important information he was being briefed on. "It sounds very well
put together, Sergeant," he explained, nodding his head firmly, though
it would be clear that he was distracted. "We need victories. This is a
Core World, but it is behaving like an alien world in the Outer Rim
Territories. Unacceptable," he explained, as he slammed the palm of his
hand down on the conference table again for added emphasis. "You have my
permission to proceed, but as always keep documented records to a
minimal," he instructed, not wanting this to come back to haunt him when
the war was ended.
"The files you are reviewing can only
implicate a Sergeant Jonas Garrett, sir. A Corellian farm boy with an
average height and weight. Justice cannot be found for such a man if he
didn't exist in the first place. You will find that the information on
your datapad will not be accessed without a certain code. If the files
are not accessed by the code, copied, or if you simply attempt to slice
... they are erased. It is also recommended that after reviewing my
reports that you delete said files sir." Jonas said.
"See that these are all deleted," the
Grand Moff said to his new aide, as he slide the datapads across the
table. "If you are finished, Sergeant?" he said, as he looked over the
man one final time. He struck him as a particularly hard fellow and had
genuine sympathy for those that might find their way to his
interrogation chamber. "I have orders to sign and a speech to prepare
for..." he explained, as he tapped his fingers against the conference
table whilst looking at the chronometer on the wall.
She obediently retrieved the datapad
with every intention to do as commanded, but not before she herself
would read the disclosed information at her earliest convenience, away
from prying eyes. "Yes, Milord." After Liliya gathered it in her hands,
she took a step back to once again stand at her proper position by
"That is everything permissible with
your clearance. I request permission to be dismissed, sir." Jonas
replied sharply and with respect.
"Dismissed," Grand Moff Rodney said,
rather robotic. The man kept a rather lax command structure, and perhaps
that was a contributing factor to the failures here in the Ringali
Shell. He had to remember to do things like dismiss junior officers and
NCOs now that he was a Grand Moff. It was very embarrassing to have to
be reminded of such by a Sergeant, but it was not the first time it had
Jonas Garrett turned about face and with
a shifting of his boots he marched out of the room. The boots he wore
fell heavy with every step he took against the deck plating of the Star
Destroyer. He was beginning to see exactly why he was sent here in the
first place, he mused in his own mind, as the door swiftly shut behind
Once the ISB had finally cleared out of
his office he authorized the use of the new communications monitoring
techniques, despite the fact that it seemed as an invasion of privacy.
The negotiations with the criminals would be delegated, far away from
him, as he despised their sort of scum. He felt very dirty and it seemed
as if things were quickly getting out of hand. He folded his hands into
a pyramidal shape and let out a tired sigh, as he throught about the
attack the ISB was planning to rally support towards the Empire. It
troubled him and he doubted that he would sleep very well that evening.
A drink would help, but he would not allow himself to slip again. He
could not let Brentaal IV be destroyed by the Rebels like Alderaan.