A Fictional Novel set in the Star Wars Universe
Created by George Lucas
Written by Stephen T Bynum
All Rights Reserved
As the blast doors leading into the briefing room slid open, the assembled officers of the Empire rose to their feet. Powerful men, one and all, the officers gathered for this meeting ruled the Cyralis Cluster in all but name, answering only to the Fleet Admiral whose boots echoed across the polished floor. And of course, the Emperor and his appointed Moff. But the Emperor was distant, far from this backwater on the rim of the galaxy, and Moff Jendar . . . well, to say that Moff Jendar had the imagination and initiative of a Gamorrean would have been an insult to Gamorreans across the universe. But Moff Jendar was not present today. And if his intelligence was in question, none present dared to deny his cunning and vicious defense of what he viewed as little more than his personal fief.
Fleet Admiral Kell Morvin circled the table with measured steps, but he did not take his seat at the head. Instead he walked up a short flight of stairs to stand before the armored windows set into the bulkhead, his arms crossed behind his back as he gazed out over the collected ships assigned to his command. Finally, he turned around and faced his officers.
“Be seated, gentlemen,” he commanded, as he descended the steps and stood behind his vacant chair—and the empty chair reserved for Moff Jendar.
“Seventeen days ago, the Rebellion achieved a victory over Imperial forces in the Moddell Sector, above the moon Endor in the Endor System. They destroyed the second Death Star being built in orbit, gentlemen—and Imperial casualties were quite . . . heavy. Lord Vader and Admiral Piett were lost aboard the flagship Executor, along with the majority of the ships assigned to Lord Vader’s Death Squadron.”
Absolute silence filled the briefing room, as scores of eyes grew wide. One pasty-faced officer, clad in the white uniform of the Imperial Security Bureau, visibly shook himself. “Lord Vader, the Dark Lord of the Sith, is dead?” he gasped.
Kell slowly nodded. “To make matters worse, the Emperor himself had chosen to oversee the final stages of the construction on the Fleet’s newest space station. He was aboard the Death Star when the main reactor was destroyed by Rebel star-fighters on a suicide run.”
Chaos erupted as several officers shouted out denials and others simply looked at Kell in wonder . . . and fear. Kell waited until the noise abated and the last man standing sat once more.
“It has been confirmed. Emperor Palpatine has been dead now for seventeen days, gentlemen. The Empire is in a state of shock, while the Rebel Alliance has gained a . . . a most significant boost. Worlds across the Empire, primarily worlds with an alien sentient species, have declared themselves for the Alliance. Imperial forces are reeling and attempting to consolidate their strength in the Core. They will fail.”
“Treason!” howled Colonel Marius Rael, the senior ISB officer assigned to the Cyralis Sector. “You speak treason, Admiral Morvin—the New Order is eternal!”
“Calm yourself, Colonel,” Kell said softly. “The New Order is built around one man—the Emperor. He has no successor. He has no heir. And with his death, so too will perish the Empire as we know it.”
Rael stood. “Admiral Morvin, you are under arrest for treason, for dereliction of duty, for your lack of faith in the New—AAAHHHHHHHH!” he screamed as a fusillade of blaster bolts caught him squarely between the shoulder blades.
Kell nodded at the two Stormtroopers posted to either side of the blast doors. “Well done, gentlemen. Does anyone else here plan to have me arrested today?”
Only the activation of dozens of fan motors within the rooms venting system broke the silence; the smoke still rising from the charred and smoldering uniform was quickly drawn away.
“The Empire, as we know it, gentlemen, is done. Moff Jendar left this system earlier today in the fastest ship this Fleet had at its disposal. Like many Moffs, his concern is with Coruscant; he seeks to carve his own seat at the table. But he missed the point completely; Coruscant is lost to us.”
More jaws dropped, and Captain Tylan G’deransk started to speak. Then he glanced at the corpse and nothing more than an inarticulate gasp passed his lips.
Kell smiled. “What is your question, Captain G’deransk?”
The commander of the Imperial Star Destroyer Rapacity shook his head. “The Rebels don’t have the strength to seize Coruscant, Admiral Morvin; they can’t possibly take the capital. They literally cannot, Sir.”
“Coruscant has not fallen to the Rebels, gentlemen, but it is lost all the same. Hundreds, thousands of ranking men with the ambition and the desire to step into Palpatine’s shoes are rushing upon Coruscant as we speak. Do not doubt that same desire exists in the heart of many of your own fellow officers—they too are on the move, and rather than defend the Empire, their actions will ensure that it shall Fall.”
Kell stood and he began to pace. “The High Admirals and the Grand Admirals and the Generals will all see themselves as the only legitimate heir of Palpatine—and they will wage a civil war vastly more destructive to the Empire than the Rebellions . . . ineffectual efforts. By the time they are done, Coruscant’s defenses will be a shadow of their former selves, and the Rebels will seize the capital.”
He stopped and bent towards his officers, placing both hands on the table. “They have forgotten our purpose, gentlemen. They will throw away our reason for being in their quest for the Imperial Throne. We will see fractures, and a shattered remnant of our Empire with quarrelling Warlords vying against one another while the Alliance gains greater strength by the day.”
“Humanity itself is placed in danger by these fools. Do you believe that given their treatment at the hand of the Empire; that the Bothans and the Wookies and the Sullustans and all of the other races out there will forgive humans for being the only species given power and authority? Or perhaps, they will forget the past slights and the issue of being forced into slavery and servitude by those who wore our uniforms?”
“No, gentlemen, they will want vengeance. They will seek to do to us what Palpatine and his minions did to them. And if the Alliance succeeds at reforming the Republic as they claim to desire, they will form a new government suffering from all of the sins of the Old Republic, but one that shall be overtly hostile to our own species.”
“We cannot stop that; our forces in Cyralis are too small; our presence here on the rim of the galaxy too inconsequential for the Emperor to have been concerned with building us up to strength.” Kell stood and he smiled. “But that distance also carries with it advantages in this situation, gentlemen.”
“Cyralis is predominately human; there are no native sentient species among the thirty-two inhabited systems of this Cluster. Oh, there are minorities in plenty, but none native to these worlds, colonized by various human governments in the days of the Old Republic. And we will defend these worlds—our worlds—that, gentlemen, is now our duty.”
General Conal Ise frowned. “Admiral, we are quite understrength—yes, you have six Imperator-class Star Destroyers and their escorts, your flagship makes seven; I have a Corp at my disposal as well. But that is a mere pittance of what a proper Sector Group has at their disposal; a pittance dispersed amongst thirty-two worlds. I doubt that we will receive additional reinforcements from the interior, Sir; how then do you plan on holding this Sector against an attack that you yourself admit must eventually come?”
Kell nodded. “Your points are well taken, General Ise. We must build up our strength, and for that it means that Ord Tanis must see its factories and ship-yards brought back online.”
“Ord Tanis?” Ise asked. “Those factories were shut down more than a century ago, at the order of the Chancellor of the Old Republic. They are out-dated and obsolete, Sir.”
“How much has the design of a blaster changed in the past century, General? Or repulsors? Or hyper-drives? No, gentlemen, we shall bring the foundries of Ord Tanis back on-line and add the design schematics of our modern equipment to their data-banks. The industrial complexes were designed for droid workers—droids stored on Ord Tanis by the millions. Gentlemen, once those factories and ship-yards are activated our only limits in building a proper defense force are the pace of resource extraction ships mining the belts of this Cluster and our ability to provide manpower. Need I not remind you that Cyralis contains over fifteen billion humans?”
“The Imperial Security Bureau will howl for your head, Admiral,” another voice interrupted. “They could prove . . . difficult.”
The Fleet Admiral studied the black uniformed Ubiqtorate agent sitting there calmly. The rivalry between the ISB and the Ubiqtorate was legendary, and Kell grinned. “I am ordering that the ISB is to immediately disband—those resisting the order will be eliminated quickly and cleanly. Certain members of the ISB will be arrested and tried for their crimes—their, ah . . . enthusiasm in enforcing even the smallest of Palpatine’s regulations makes them hated by every Imperial citizen in this Sector.” The galaxy at large, Kell thought to himself. “I understand that it will be difficult Director Galen, but can the Ubiqtorate make do without them?”
Galen laughed. “Easily. The ISB incites more rebellion than they quash. For this reason alone, Admiral Morvin, you would gain my support. Are you taking the title of Moff, then? Grand Moff? Dare I say . . . Emperor?”
Kell shook his head. “I . . . would not be the best man for such a task. I know my limitations, gentlemen, and I desire no such political power. But my agents are already contacting a man who I believe will serve admirably in such a role.”
“Director Galen, I take no insult at that—but my oath is to the Empire. My choice will be no puppet, and I will serve him as well and as loyally as I served Palpatine. If he accepts my offer, he will be our leader.”
“An untested leader, foisted onto the Cluster by us,” Captain Pyrel Taan muttered.
“Hardly untested, Captain Taan,” Kell answered. “And the Cluster will accept him long before they would follow the rest of us—for he is a native son. It is because of Fleet politics that he no longer wears the uniform . . . politics and the fears that Palpatine had over the concern this officer disagreed with his New Order.”
A dozen pairs of eyes locked on Kell like lasers, and the Fleet Admiral laughed.
“You are recalling . . . HIM?” Ise blurted.
“Do you have a problem with that, General?” Kell asked.
Conal Ise slowly shook his head, and then he began to smile as well. “Actually, I don’t.”