Dramatis Persona (Thus Far)
- Grand Moff Damian Froud: ruler of the Pallis Oversector
- Rosh Duine: personal aide to the Grand Moff
- Captain Bran Darran: former adjutant to Admiral Sloane and current captain of the ISD Vigilance
Chardaan System – Capitol World of the Pallis Oversector | 4ABY
Rosh did her best to ignore the ever present sound of her E-3PO droid tapping its digits on the computer display next to her. The droid was integral to helping her perform her duties to an exemplary standard however so she endured the annoyance, though not with as much grace as she might have mustered. Besides, her focus was completely taken up by the assemblage of HoloNet communiques that were piling up within her display. As personal aide to the Grand Moff, she was receiving and screening messages that came from infamous and powerful individuals. Another invitation from Rhan Lunelle. That old man just can't stop trying to edge his way into Chardaan Shipyards, she thought. She color coded the communique as blue, non-vital, and moved onto the next.
Invitation to a COMPNOR rally and dinner function. Request from Captain Chinzano of the Imperial-class Star Destroyer Mathayus for more ships to patrol the rim-ward fringe against smugglers. Another protest filed by the local nobility against Imperial interference with free trade. On and on it went...seemingly without end.
Rosh sighed and looked around for a moment. The office she sat in was spartan by many standards but still embellished with silver chrome and black marble along the walls and floor. Her uniform matched the decor. Directly to the left of her desk was a transparisteel wall, allowing a clear view of the capitol city of Chardaan. It wasn't Coruscant by any means, but still had a great plethora of orbitalscrapers and busy sky-lanes. The weather was getting cooler, much to Rosh's pleasure. Chardaan's summers could be punishing to those who were obligated to wear Imperial uniforms – the things didn't breathe that well.
She looked down at her wrist chrono. Might as well take my lunch break a little early. Nothing urgent on the Moff's plate this afternoon.
The silver doors behind her that led to her boss's private office burst open and slammed into the wall. It was enough to shock Rosh upright and onto her feet. Even her droid turned, a small, “Oh my,” escaping it's droid mouthpiece.
Looking as if he'd just fought off some attacker, eyes wide and breathing heavy, Grand Moff Damian Froud looked around the antechamber and then focused on Rosh once more.
“Ms. Duine, cancel any appointments I have this afternoon. Immediately. Then get in communication with Captain Doorna and General Cabaril. I want both of them in my office within the next thirty minutes! Make that clear to them.” Froud's voice, normally steady and calm, sounded as if it he'd been screaming for hours on end, gravely and thick.
“Yes, sir,” Rosh replied, jogging her head up and down.
“And also get Agent Nicabre in here. I don't care what excuses he might make, he better be here within the next thirty minutes as well or else I'll find someone else to run the ISB office here on Chardaan.”
Without further ado, Froud stepped back into his inner office. The droid closed the door behind him. Rosh immeidately tapped her inner-ear comlink device.
“Hello? Lieutenant Reed? Yes – Yes, I have a direct order from Grand Moff Froud for Captain Doorna.”
Froud stepped away from his office door, confident that his aide would get his main advisers in with all due haste. His pulse was still thumping, a raging torrent through his veins. He stepped back over to his desk and once again faced the 1/4th sized image of an old Raithal Academy classmate of his.
“You're sure about this Bren?” asked Damian, sitting back down at his desk. “If you're wrong...”
“I'm not wrong!” the hologram of Captain Bren Darran growled. Damian couldn't help but notice sparks in the background behind Bren and the muffled sound of anxious voices scrambling for calm. “I saw the damn thing blow up myself.”
“But it can't be...”
“The Emperor is dead.” The words left Bren's mouth so matter of factly that Damian froze for a second. “He died when the Death Star II was blown up.”
Damian gulped and swallowed a bit of his anxiety. “What about Lord Vader?”
“Vader was reported to be on the Death Star too. He's dead. Nearly all the Imperial Advisers are dead too,” replied Bren. “We were forced to retreat on Admiral Sloane's orders.”
“I thought she was the commander of the Vigilance?”
“She was,” nodded Bren. “She just took possession of the Executor-class Super Star Destroyer Ravager – it's probably the last of it's class too.”
“The rest of the Endor fleet?”
“Sticking with Admiral Sloane for the moment,” Bren said. The captain turned and said something incomprehensible to someone else outside the hologram's perception.
He turned back. “But I'm telling you now because you're an old friend and because I want to get out from under Sloane. She's going to get us killed.”
“Where is she leading your fleet?” asked Damian. “What can she expect to do – even with such a significant force? Who else knows about the Emperor's death?”
“For the moment we're doing repairs in deep space. In a few cycles we're to rendevouz in the Akiva System. I think she's going to muster her forces there – gather power.”
Damian sat back at his desk. The revelation of Emperor Palpatine's death was still causing his pulse to hammer. Twice before in his life, Damian Froud had found himself in a position to join those opposed to the Emperor – some individuals who came very close to killing the Emperor – but each time Froud had kept to his allegiance and dutifully followed the Emperor. Such faithfulness had been rewarded of course; first with a captaincy of his own Imperial Star Destroyer, stationed within the Pallis Oversector under Grand Moff Coy, and then again when he'd been promoted from Commander to Grand Moff of the same sector in the wake of Trachta's attempted coup on Coruscant and Coy's death. Each time, when confronted with an opportunity to betray the Emperor had come, he'd faithfully looked the other way.
This wasn't because Damian was without ambition, no, hardly that. He was descended of a noble family from the Core Worlds – connected by marriage and birth to various Kuati and Coruscanti nobility. His family's influence is what had allowed him to get a prime position at the Raithal Academy on Coruscant. He was driven to succeed and crush the vaunted accomplishments of both his father and elder brother.
No, it was not a lack of ambition which had kept Damian loyal to Emperor Palpatine.
It was fear.
Without ever knowing the full truth, only rumors and hearsay, Damian knew that Emperor Palpatine was beyond lethal. Most feared the public spectacle that was the Lord Darth Vader who, as chief commander of the Imperial Military, had prosecuted campaign after vicious campaign to stamp out resistance against the New Order. Damian knew better. Only someone who was truly dangerous and powerful could have the Lord Darth Vader bow before them and call them “Master.” Damian feared that wrinkled, orange-red eyed man. Still did, truth be told, even though he was being given confirmation that the Emperor was dead.
“The Emperor is dead,” Damian said. The words tasted strange upon the tongue, bitter where one would have expected sweet.
Captain Bran nodded. “He is and likely the whole damned Galactic Empire is going to be going crazy. I'm told that Moff Adelhard of the Anoat Sector is having the entire place blockaded. He's been implementing security protocols and disinformation.”
“Coruscant doesn't know yet?” Damian perked up.
“I would assume that Sate Pestage knows...and likely that snake, Ysanne Isard,” Bren frowned. “I believe that since both the Emperor and Vader are dead that officially Pestage is next in line to control the Empire as Grand Vizier. The office would fall to him.”
Damian laughed at that. “He might be a half-decent bureaucrat, but Pestage is not fit to replace Palpatine. Others will be plotting against him.”
“Some already are,” Bran said, reminding Damian of Admiral Sloane.
“How soon do you think news will break over the HoloNet about this?”
“I'd give it a month or less. The Rebels are bound to try and trumpet their victory, but I think we can count on Adelhard's security protocols for at least that long. After that...things are going to get more hairy than a Wookie riding a bantha.”
“Alright...thank you for getting into contact with me Bran. I appreciate it. This news...this...things are going to change.”
“No problem Grand Moff Froud,” grinned Bran. “Just be aware that I'll be looking to have the Vigilance slip away from Admiral Sloane at the nearest possible opportunity. Expect my arrival at Chardaan sometime in the next three months. I don't know what you'll do or what contingencies you might have for this kriffing situation, but you'll have my loyalty and backing.”
“Something which I will both appreciate and reward, old friend,” replied Damian. “Keep me updated on Sloane's movements if you can, too.”
Bran nodded. “I'll see to it.”
Without another comment the hologram signal was cut. Damian sat back in his chair for a moment, staring at the hologram projector on his desk without really thinking of anything. Thoughts and ideas coalesced around him, like a school of Naboo Klaa fish, speeding around in circles.
The Emperor was dead.
Contenders to the throne were already gathering or plotting.
Chaos was soon to be unleashed the length and breadth of the galaxy.
Damian Froud, Grand Moff of the Pallis Oversector, smiled.