Formerly of the Imperial Security Bureau,
Commission for the Preservation of the New Order
My earliest conscious memory was walking along the streets of Arkanis alongside my mother. War had erupted across the galaxy but that was something that was of little concern to us. Arkanis was loyal to the Emperor, safe and far away from any fighting. But as we crossed the market, a large group of people were screaming, calling for Arkanis to rise against the Empire. I remember them being so… angry, desperate, chaotic. One person’s anger fueled another’s and soon they were rioting in the streets. Stores were broken into, merchant carts were destroyed and rocks were sailing every which way.
One rock hit my mother at the side of her head and she fell down hard on the ground. I remember feeling utterly helpless as she laid there unmoving as the mob of people drew closer. That was when he showed up. I remember seeing a man in a gray-green uniform accompanied by a small squadron of Stormtroopers. They were hopelessly outnumbered but with nothing but a few words and with precise use of force, he cowed the group of people and just like that, order was restored around us. It was a moment that would be forever etched into my memory. The Stormtroopers began rounding up the subdued dissidents and as the officer turned to leave, I summoned what little courage I had and ran up to him.
He turned and stared at me with a cold, penetrating gaze which I met, pleading with him to help my mother. She was an Imperial citizen which offered her a degree of protection, but we were not a wealthy family and the medical treatment required would be expensive. I asked what I could do to help her and his answer was so simple yet filled me with newfound purpose; “Serve the Empire”.
And since that day, that was what I did. The officer arranged to have my mother treated as I was enrolled into the Imperial Academy. Even then I realized that it was a great honour to do so, and I worked hard, very hard at it. At first I did so to repay the debt for my mother, but as I slowly began to understand the narrowmindedness and selfishness of focusing so much attention on people only because of their personal ties to me, when there was an entire Galaxy that needed protection, my priorities slowly shifted.
My contact with my family waned each year to the point where during my graduation it took a moment for me to even recognize them. Still, they were healthy and provided for and there was little reason to worry about much beyond that. I continued my service onboard several vessels and planets and during my service learned the danger of personal attachments. Months turned into years which turned into decades, which finally brought me to the present. In truth I could barely remember the last time I thought about my family but now they had become a problem. A problem I needed to solve.
My defection had been a death sentence on them and while there might not be a bond between us anymore, they did not deserve death due to my failings. The same went for several others of my known contacts, although in truth the majority of them likely did deserve that fate but for reasons all of their own.
Mitigating this situation had been what had taken up most of my free time since my return to base. Other than that, work continued mostly as normal and a few days after getting back I was summoned by Director Jatru for briefing alongside Tarrk. There were of course reasons why this debriefing was unusual and I ended up being asked if Tarrk was fit to serve. Was she? What she had done during her stay to Rakaa IV would say no. Her scheme of going in alone to an enemy facility for personal reasons and spilling vital information was madness if not simply treasonous in its foolishness. But… she had proven herself many times before this. I explained that while she had repeatedly let her emotions take the better of her, she had fulfilled her duties on board the crashed Star Destroyer. I trusted her to do her job, just not her judgement.
I was further questioned regarding the consequences of my leaked information. I assured him that it was unlikely to be a concern to the New Republic beyond the obvious fact that my name would no longer be as useful and the routine purge of known contacts and family members of traitors to the Empire. It was unseemly to have the New Republic spend resources on personal matters so I made it clear that I would handle that matter personally. I was worried that bluntly pointing out how Tarrk’s actions to save her family members had put a target on my own family might disturb her, but if it did she made no show of it. Good, that was something at least.
We were to prepare for an infiltration on the planet of Araveen, an Imperial planet that had recently been seized by Belikos. Apparently he was excavating for something with the code word: Ghosts of the Sith. Sith, apparently Belikos really was hunting for more Jedi magic, or in this case jedi technology which likely wasn’t any better. He had ‘recruited’ a professor, Kiya Farshani to make sense of whatever it was that he was excavating and seemed to be keeping her as securely as possible. Our mission was to save the professor if possible, eliminate her if we must and stop Belikos’ from getting whatever it was he was hoping to find there. Belikos seemed to be readying an attack and he seemed to believe this artifact would give him the advantage that he would need. That could not be allowed to happen.
As Director Jatru finished his briefing, he left us alone, presumably with the intent of mending ties. No more, I had been reminded of what come of such ties one too many times. I turned to leave and Tarrk did the same. I continued work as I made preparations. While doing so, the good doctor came by to evaluate me. He had taken notice of the fact that I worked considerably longer hours than most on the base, which he pointed out would give me a deluge of important information and leaving me in an excellent position should I ever want to betray them.
I was for a moment unsure if the man was trying to have me join him in a conspiracy or trying to gauge if I would betray them or not. I explained that even if I had wanted to commit to such actions, my life with the Empire was irrevocably over now that my name had been compromised. Intelligently, the man did not press me for answers; he knew I could fool him should I wish to. He claimed I frightened him and because of that, wanted me to promise him not to betray them. He made the argument that even if he knew that such promises would not stop me one way or another, at least I would feel bad about betraying such a vow. “A Gentleman’s agreement”. I accepted and could not help but smile slightly. I did indeed like that man.
Time passed much the same as it had before while we were preparing for the mission. We were going in as mercs, which meant I had to part with my current appearance. Perhaps just as well, there was no value in passing as an imperial anymore. New uniform and equipment had to be gathered, a new hairstyle grown and a few piercings to seal the deal. I had feathers from various birds of prey shipped in and woven into my hair and armour. And with that Sorath Felan was born. Heartless moneygrubbing mercenary or Scoundrel with a heart of gold, depending on what would be required of me as we set down on the planet.
Intel on the current state of Araween was quite sparse, not only due to it being an imperial world, but the planet seemed to have become even more inaccessible since Belikos focused his attention on it. For that reason, Leana Tarrk were to join us on the mission as she had had some experience on the planet and was also casually acquainted with Commander Han Ortega, the previous imperial in charge of the planet, before Belikos’ hound, Zekmet Darya had been unleashed and put in command. I was unsure about what to expect from Tarrk and her sister being on the same mission, Tarrk clearly had a soft spot for her sister, which might cause her previous lack of judgement to resurface.
Leana was in and of herself a security problem in that we did not know what to expect from her. Kyrios had promised he would get her around to serve the Republic, but he was no magician and she, like me was a loyalist at heart. But unlike me, she had been shielded from seeing the fall of the Empire after Endor. She still believed there was hope.
For that reason, after meeting with the other crewmembers, Cheol-Su, Xomae, Tarrk and I went outside to meet with the New Republics latest ‘recruit’. She, like the rest of us had been strapped into makeshift armour and left behind her Imperial appearance. Unlike the others who served as crew members, she had been assigned the role of a slave to make it easier for us to keep track on her.
I greeted her with a smile which to my surprise realized wasn’t fake. It was good to see her again, I always enjoyed working with professionals and she had proven herself back when I first met her at the Academy and again during her stay on Rakaa IV. Unfortunately, she was entirely untrustworthy. I asked if she would play nice, especially with her sister. Essentially I asked her to give a threat assessment of herself and her sister. She responded about as could be expected of someone being strong-armed into helping us. But she promised to do what she could and we went onboard the ship. As I did so I silently hoped that she wouldn’t try anything brave and patriotic during the mission. I hoped that I would not have to kill her.
The trip passed without much incident and soon we were in orbit above Araveen on our way to the small ‘city’ of Sal Sevag. There was little in ways of security to deal with, we simply greased some palms and landed safely inside the port. We needed access to Ten Vares where we would be able to get in contact with Ortega and learn more about where the professor was being held. But to get past its security we needed information and we needed friends. I sent Tarrk out along with Xomae to gather information and look for work we could do to build up a reputation while I, Leana and Cheol-Su did the same.
This was different from Rakaa IV. There Sidland Rowker needed to befriend practically everyone and slowly inch closer towards the goal. Here I didn’t need a lot of friends, I needed the right friends. Having too many friends here might even be a liability and make me seem suspicious, therefore I kept my distance to most people but was able to circle in on one of the major community figures in the area, a Nautolan named Rosto Flax.
It was immediately clear that the man was talented. He understood the value of convincing people of something while making it seem it was their own idea from the start. He seemed to be tied to most people of importance in the area, but his talents also made him potentially dangerous. I approached him and explained my interest in finding employment for me and my crew. After some deliberation, Flax suggested to go on a hunting expedition with a Stormtrooper commander named Arneefa Zarr, and if possible, find a missing combat droid of his that had gone missing.
I left the meeting with a feeling of mild apprehension. There were a lot of things he was not telling me. That in and of itself was not strange, but I could not shake the feeling that we were walking into a trap of sorts.
That feeling did not improve when we met our client, Arneefa Zarr, drinking heavily while on duty. Leana was shocked by this which again showed her naiveté of the current state of the Empire. After ‘proving myself’ to Zarr, she recruited us to go hunting a beetle –like creature on the planet called a Netch and arranged to meet her as soon as I readied my party. The Netch was rumored to be quite dangerous even with a full squad going after it. Even Cheol-Su found it curious that flax would send us out on such a dangerous mission with a drunken Stormtrooper.
Dear god, if even Cheol-Su had a bad feeling about it, things truly did seem grim.