Formerly of the Imperial Security Bureau,
Commission for the Preservation of the New Order
The Empire has fallen, long live the empire…or Republic is what they are calling it now. ‘The New Republic’, seeing as how the last Republic was such a success… How many countless billions of lives have died because of their opposition to order? How many lives ruined as the empire’s control of the galaxy has weakened? The galaxy is burning at the hands of terrorists, idealists and other low lives.
Low lives that I have now joined. As the Emperor and Lord Vader died above Endor, the Empire, and its ideals died with them. It did not take a day for the infighting to begin, sides were drawn and more focus was put on who would rule instead of the Emperor than to make sure there was a galaxy to rule. It soon became clear that even if the Shadow Council eventually managed to unite under one leader and crush the rebellion, they would have lost too much power to keep the Galaxy under control. And so I left them to become a traitor.
This eventually led me to the wonderous planet of Arsheek, a lesser swamp planet located in hut space, ruled by Nado the Hut. I alongside another traitor, a former Stormtrooper commando, SL- 1517, had been sent to track down an Imperial agent going by the aliases Harthin Mett and Derzin. We needed to retrieve information from him about a missing research vessel named ‘The Hammer’ that the empire seemed to have taken a rekindled interest in and identify why it was important to them.
SL- 1517, or Marion Tarrk as she called herself, and myself began the hunt at one of the cantinas. Harthin Mett had killed a bounty hunter called Yorick before disappearing and intel suggested that Yorick had friends and allies at the place, and hopefully one of them could lead us in the right direction.
We had barely reached the bar counter before a fight broke out between a Rodian and a human. We unfortunately got caught up in it and quickly had to put the Rodian in his place. After the Rodians had scurried away, the man introduced himself as Tavik Mendez, and after some persuasion, he along with his combat droid, M1-D9, or ‘Mandy’ as he called it, agreed to help us with finding the agent. Apparently the agent had tried to escape onboard a ship owned by a Duros smuggler called Shorat, but it had been seized by Nado’s men while trying to leave the planet and now the agent along with the rest of the crew and cargo were being held within Nado’s palace.
Nado, had gotten delusions of grandeur since the fall of the empire and had recruited a handful of Stormtroopers to act as his elite guards. I arranged to have SL- 1517 sold to Nado as a way to get closer to the hut and hopefully be able to barter for the lives of his captives. To do this, Mendez got in contact with a Bothan merchant who was due to visit the hut for the customary bribe to let him continue to operate his business. Mendez had his own reasons for wanting to free Nado’s prisoners and promised to help identify the agent if we managed to free them. And with that agreement in place, we went to meet the hut.
After handing over our weapons, we entered the giant slug’s great hall where he greeted us, a pair of slave girls tending to him and, to my surprise, the rodian gang we came across at the cantina acting as guards. It was clear that the hut was intrigued by what I had to offer, but he was more enamoured by his price than I had suspected. It soon became apparent why, one of the rodians opened up a decorated box and from within it, took out a lightsaber. Badly damaged, but a lightsaber nonetheless. A cold chill went through me as I saw the weapon, and I realized quite quickly that whatever secrets ‘The Hammer’ held, I wanted no part of it. Still, my questioning about the release of the captives and interest in the ship made the hut suspicious of me.
Thankfully, my mannerism seemed to have impressed an Imperial protocol droid, AR-47, and together we convinced the hut to keep me as a guest while I debriefed the droid about the crashed ship, while SL- 1517 was taken to the barracks to begin her ‘service’.
I cleared out the servants from my room and, deciding I might as well take advantage of the hospitality entered the pool prepared for me. I looked forward to seeing how SL- 1517 would react to meeting other Stormtroopers, I’m sure the New Republic had done several checks and interrogations of her before trusting her, but Stormtrooper indoctrination is quite thorough so some vestiges of it might still remain.
While pondering whether or not to trust her, the protocol droid entered my room. Given how he responded to some of my comments and his demeanor to his surroundings, it was clear he had recently been acquired by the hut and likely not yet programmed to be loyal to him. As such, I decided to drop my usual accent and act the role of loyal imperial agent. We quickly arranged a suitable story for him to bring back to Nado while I was granted free roam of the facilities.
I decided to visit the cells where they kept the prisoners to see if I could make contact with the agent. A Trandoshan guard blocked my way, but it would seem the creature responded to my projected air of command, and assumed me to be a trusted friend of the hut, and so let me inside without even coming with me. Honestly, I’ve seen imperial guards flogged for lesser acts of incompetence than that.
I made my way to the cells and struck up conversations with the human prisoners, triggering a few agent call signs to test the waters. None of the prisoners responded to them, but as luck would have it, an Imperial lawyer, a man called Jae-Woo Rattik was able to answer a few of my questions. He was the cousin of Captain Serano, a war hero amongst the Empire and desperately wanted me to send word to him. More importantly, with his help I was able to identify the agent, the male aliases were merely there to throw us off, the agent was, at least for now, going by the name Dinah Talo, and was currently being kept as Nado’s slave. Complications, I do so hate complications.
I returned out of the jail and had AR-47 set up another audience with the hut. I posed as a representative of a minor scavenger lord, wanting the right to salvage the ship. I tried to barter these rights with the hut, along with information about his captive, Jae-Woo Rattik in exchange for his ‘slave girl’. While the hut was eager to use the information I had to leverage a man he called Belikos he was unwilling to part with his latest possessions.
Instead he gave me the ship the agent had used, along with its star charts. As I was considering how best to steal the girl, one of the slugs’ pet Stormtroopers marched into the room and shot down one of the Rodians. It seemed that while I was speaking with the prisoners, SL- 1517 had been busying herself with agitating the Rodian gang who were now attacking their former employer. The hut had his men carry him away to a more secure area while one of his guards, a Stormtrooper herded away the slave girls. As the room emptied, I picked up the blaster from the fallen rodian and without much deliberation walked up and shot the Stormtrooper at the back of his head.
I quickly verified that the girl was indeed agent Talo, and while tempted to head to the cargo bay right away, now that she was secure, I decided to provide SL- 1517 with some backup fire, seeing as how she for whatever reason continued to guard the place against the Rodians. Agent Talo on her part, identifying herself as AR-47’s owner took the droid and headed for the hanger.
I hurried off to the palace doorway where I saw SL- 1517 hanging on to the ledge of the moat surrounding the palace. Cursing my luck I opened up suppressing fire, receiving a grazing blaster shot to the side as thanks. As she got up however, instead of retreating back to the palace, she continued the fight. I assumed this was again due to the Stormtrooper conditioning, which was certainly a warning signal but she did respond when directly told to fall back.
We hurried back towards the hangar, mutely appreciating the agents work as dead Trandoshan guards were strewn along the path. We entered the cargo bay where Agent Talo was prepping her ship. SL- 1517 went to assist her with prepping the protesting AR-unit while I looked around the place. I found what I assume must have been a force crystal of some sort, again, anything concerning Jedi magic left a bad taste in my mouth, but seeing as how such things were always a high priority within the empire, I could only assume the same applied for the New Republic.
I also found a pack of deathsticks. I was never one to use them while not undercover, but I imagined that they would soon come in handy, given my luck since setting foot on this planet. We all hurried on to the ship, a scrappy bow-tie fighter, silently hoping that the hut had not messed it up too much while his crew worked on it.
The Bow-tie took off the ground, and for a moment things looked as though it was going well, but as we began picking up speed…it wasn’t. We began falling and while we avoided crashing in a ball of fire, it was a crash nonetheless. We had ‘landed’ in the marshlands and me and SL- 1517 went to survey the area while Agent Talo tended to the droid and the ship.
I found the entrance to a tunnel network that Mendez had mentioned and we decided to sleep there for the night. Agent Talo offered to take watch, but since I didn’t like the prospect of leaving myself vulnerable with an agent I didn’t know to watch my back, and since she seemed to hold a similar sentiment, we left it to the droid to monitor our surroundings.
I made a point of not falling asleep before she did, but while I can’t be sure, it seemed so did she. At times I fear our training at the academy gave us trust issues… It would seem as though we eventually came to some sort of agreement as sooner or later we both fell asleep and the night passed without incident.
We wandered through the tunnels back towards the city we came from. We spoke very little. I was tempted to try and squeeze her for the information we came from, but feared that pushing too soon, before we could assure a way to transport her off world should things turn ugly, would only make things more complicated. Thus we continued in silence until we ended up right beneath the cantina where we first met Mendez.
From the commotion above, it seemed as though Nado had put out a bounty for us, which had gotten a large portion of the bounty hunters on the planet to start moving. We made our way to our hotel and SL- 1517 snuck in to get our belongings, finally allowing Agent Talo to change into something other than a gold bikini. I would perhaps have felt worse about that transition had we not been trekking through marshlands and glorified sewers.
We continued our journey through the piping system until we reached Mendez’ hideout. , M1-D9 stood watch and as soon as we approached it alerted Mendez. We brought him up-to-date with what had happened and I told him about the people I saw in the cells. Apparently he wanted to free one of the Rodians called Vipp. In return for helping him, he would take us off world and fly us where we needed to go.
As Nado seemed to have weakened his defense while searching for us, we deemed it best to strike as soon as possible. Mendez led us through yet another set of tunnels, these apparently connected to the hut’s garbage chute. After tying fresh meat to his droid, to attract whatever beasties lived in the water, we pressed on. Mendez swore on the efficiency of the technique, and while I had no reason to distrust him, made sure to position myself behind him while walking through the tunnel.
We finally reached the chute and silently made our way to the cells. The surviving Trandoshans were nowhere to be seen and we were able to free the Rodian and the Imperial Lawyer without any problem. Things were going well right up until the moment where we exited the prison. Nado’s Stormtroopers stood there waiting for us, blaster rifles ready. We had numbers on our side, but even so it would likely end up being a nasty fight. But then Agent Talo walked up and with a confidence not shared by the rest of us, told the Stormtroopers to stand down and get back in line. It took a while for me to understand what she meant, until I heard the familiar sounds of imperial drop pods striking down outside. “The cavalry had arrived”.
Complications, I do so hate complications.
It seemed as though the diligent agent had called them here while she ran off right before we joined up with her last time. For a moment, I considered igniting the fight between the Stormtroopers, ideally we would take them out and it would provide me ample opportunity to stun Agent Talo. Then we could bring her along through the tunnels and head off using Mendez’ ship… But it was naïve, too many things could go wrong, and even if miraculously got to Mendez’ ship, we would more than likely be targeted down by the imperial ships in orbit. Instead I returned to being an imperial agent, walked up towards the commander, a cocky looking woman named Cheol-Su Wen, and told her to be a good dog and stand down.
There was a long silence where I waited to see if she would fight or if she would submit. My gamble payed off and she and the other Stormtroopers fell in line, moving out to secure the palace, taking SL- 1517 with her. Myself ,Talo and the lawyer did similarly, securing the hut’s throne room while Mendez and the others ran off through the tunnels. I quickly tried to convince Talo not to share too much information with this faction of the Imperials, pointing out how she would be far more valued by my own employers. She dodged giving a clear answer, but said she would keep it in mind.
Soon loud, determined steps rang through the palace. I stood at attention, looking forward, so at first I didn’t see the woman as she addressed Agent Talo in her synthetic voice. I cursed inwardly when it seemed as though the two knew each other. This would make things far more difficult.
She seemingly ignored me and walked past me, a towering woman, seemingly more machine than anything else. She addressed the hut and ‘convinced’ him to sell her the lightsaber. As her mechanic hand claimed the artifact, memorizes of a similar event shot through me. I did not like where this was going. Still not much else happened, she silently turned on her heel and we followed her.
As I stepped into the drop pod, there was an unexpected feeling of returning home. Returning to the place where things were orderly and things made sense. A place where I fit in. The sentiment surprised me, I thought that I had shed that part of me, but some things are not so easily parted with it seemed.
As we returned to the ship, the woman, naming herself Marshal Zekmet Darya finally turned to me and demanded my identification. I confidentially gave it to her and explained how we had come to free Agent Talo. I was unsure if this won me any favors with the woman, but it did seem as though she and Agent Talo had a shared past, back when the Marshal was a Director. A dangerous woman then.
I was set aside to await debriefing and a few hours later, I was face to face with the holo projection of the leader of this little expedition; Ramzan Belikos, or indeed Grand Admiral Ramzan Belikos as he now claimed. He had been an advisor to the Emperor before his death and had been in the outer rim during the Battle of Endor, and it seemed as though he viewed himself as the next Emperor, as ridiculous as that might seem.
He questioned me about my activities and I quickly responded with the prepared scenario I had created for myself, an agent sent out on a mission and was to be considered dead or missing in action until orders told me otherwise. It should have been quite a believable lie, it was not unheard of and above all it should have given me some measure of protection from most imperial interrogation procedures. Only… The Grand Admiral did not seem to follow Imperial procedures.
Instead he wanted to test my loyalty by other means. Agent Talo had reported on my cooperation with SL- 1517 and so, he had me watch as he killed her. I had not known the Stormtrooper for very long, we had been assigned together because of our shared past and nothing more. Her life was an asset to be used, as was mine, but this…was wrong.
This was not how the Empire did things. Yes, we did horrible things, I knew that better than most but we did those things because we had to, not because we could. Sacrifices had to be made for the greater good. But this… was just Belikos wasting valuable resources as a show of strength. That wasn’t the strength of the Empire, it’s the type of strength used be petty thugs and low lives.
While I tried to keep me features neutral, it seemed as though some of my discontent showed as Belikos dismissed me as weak. My prior feeling of coming home quickly faded. It seemed as though I did not fit in with the Empire anymore after all.
I returned to my cell and there I spend the next few days. I learned that SL- 1517 survived the torture which was probably for the best, assuming she also didn’t break. Beyond that there was not much news; the days were spent with Imperial propaganda videos played on holo displays combined with drug induced food to help keep me malleable. Finally Agent Talo came by to brief me of my new assignment.
She seemed somewhat disillusioned by the way Belikos ran things so I once again tried to plant the seed that there were better alternatives out there. Sadly however, it seemed as though I was too late, she had told Belikos and Marshal Darya everything and we had finally reached the location of ‘The Hammer’.
Having apparently earned Belikos’ displeasure, I was not assigned to any of the high priority missions, instead I was sent to command a small group consisting out of SL- 1517, Cheol-Su Wen along with a few other Stormtroopers as well as AR-47 . Cheol-Su Wen… I didn’t even know her designation, but since the rest of Imperial protocol seemed to be thrown out the window, I decided not to make too much of a fuss. As for SL- 1517, I was unsure if I should trust her or not. After the torture they were sure to have started their re-education. And then there was the fact that Belikos has mentioned her telling them something during interrogation, presumably something tying her to me.
I thus greeted them curtly and ran over the debriefing one final time. We were to make landfall on to the ice Planet Svan-Tee IV and make contact with the natives, a primitive humanoid species called the Darfellan. We were to get the natives cooperation in finding a small unknown fighter that had apparently crashed on the planet. Marshal Darya had reassuringly pointed out that should we fail they would leave the planet without us.
Failure meant being stranded on an ice planet and success meant continued service to Belikos, which would likely lead to future suicide missions, oh joy. SL- 1517 took point and acted as guide to where we believed their village was located. Things started off well, but as the perceptive reader would recognize, a pattern was slowly forming. We had trekked the majority of the way through the heavy winds, but while crossing a mountain ledge, one of the Stormtroopers crashed down, snow and ice giving way beneath him. SL- 1517 tried to save him, but was merely swept down along with him.
A small pang of regret shot through me, she had been a good soldier and above all, she was the closest thing to an ally I had on this planet. But, I did not want to join her in the afterlife just yet, and so we continued. We reached a cliff right above the village. It would be an excellent vantage point should the aliens put up a fight, but ideally it would not come to that. Climbing down would not be too difficult, they had primitive rope ladders which seemed to be used for that exact purpose, it would however make us vulnerable while climbing down.
And so, after confirming the structural integrity of AR-47, I… sent him ahead of us to initiate diplomatic relations. It seemed to have gone well and the tribe welcomed us. We quickly gained access to the village elder, a large strange looking male who AR-47 quickly introduced us to. Talking to him was strange, it was as if he naturally learned our language as the conversations kept going. If it was a trick, it was a good one; I saw no sign of deception from him.
Regardless, I explained our reasons for coming and he agreed that he would send guides to help find the ship when the weather improved. While I very much doubted that they were still alive, I mentioned our companions and asked about possibilities to send out a search party. He told me with absolute certainty that they were still alive. Again, I was unable to detect any sign of deception from him, which reasonably meant either he was a better liar than I thought or they in reality had more advanced technology hidden away somewhere. Still, for whatever reason, I took him on his word, he explained that they had landed in a cave which he translated into “place of horrible danger and darkness” or something similarly uplifting, but was willing to send people to help in the morning.
If his statements were not entirely hyperbolic then it seemed unlikely that the two would survive the night alone and so I asked if it was possible to send out a party right away. The man looked as me once again, and I had the unpleasant notion that he read me far better than I did him. He told me he could send a scout to show our group the way and allow us to retrieve our troops.
This likely went against procedures, but we needed as many troops we could get a hold of, and again, she was likely the closest thing to an ally that I was going to get on that frozen rock, and thus worth taking a gamble on.
One of the elder’s scouts led the way the cave entrance, although calling it a cave might be underselling it, the entrance had fine carvings and the walks were littered with ancient texts, marking it more as a temple than a mere cave. It was clear that someone far more advanced than the natives had once used this place.
Cheol-Su Wen seemed excited about the rescue mission, far more so than she had been for the actual mission, so I had her take point. We continued for some time until we found a room with markings I had hoped to never have to see again. The mark of the Jedi order, It was strewn all over the place, along with statues of their hooded masters. It once again confirmed my suspicion that Belikos was after their jedi magic, or at least the status such things still had within the Empire.
We continued through the halls and out through a passage leading to a wide underground river. There was no bridge to cross but there was a computer controlling a floodgate of sorts. I managed to drain the water to let us pass but in doing so the computer went out, leaving no room to adjust it. We continued on for some time, only to notice the floor slowly getting wet beneath us. Oh good, the tampering caused a flood. Because we desperately needed more things to worry about. We picked up the pace, trying to get a hold on SL- 1517 but there was something blocking the signal to her comlink.
We continued until we reached an enormous room with a large pit at its center. The room was open to the sky above and the walls had started to crumble in on itself. We climbed down some stairs and when we got all the way down the interference on our comlink finally cleared. SL- 1517 and the other Stormtrooper really was alive and working on finding a way out. Following the sounds of Cheol-Su’s steady shots with her blaster, they finally rejoined the team.
They began making their report but were quickly interrupted by a loud growl. I sighed inwardly and turned to face the interference however, my sarcastic remark got stuck in my throat as I stood face to very large face, with an enormous beast. A chaotic scramble ensued, each of us scurrying in different directions, all except for SL- 1517 who had fallen to one knee, presumably due to whatever injury she took during the fall.
We all opened fire at the thing, but while it seemed to shrug off most of the blows, it crushed two of the Stormtroopers with almost contemptuous ease. And then there was SL- 1517 who kept having to be on the defensive to avoid having the creature rip her apart. I on my end had made sure to circle around the thing, keeping the large pit between me and the monster, as was procedure. Let the Stormtrooper soak up the brunt of the damage while I moved into position. Things were going according to plan, the beast was slowly being worn down and I was about to secure my position when the creature had finally caught Marion and was about to finish it’s game of cat and mouse. The Stormtrooper she had saved, Jaxx, ran up to shoot the thing up close. Foolish, there was no point in risking your own life like that, it was far more practical to stay back and – was about how far my inner monologue got before I noticed I was on the move as well.
I moved up, took aim, and fired right as it was opening its jaws, rewarding it with a mouth full of blaster fire. That seemed to have finally been enough even for it and the beast fell down the hole it came from. Marion had gotten banged up quite badly but seemed relatively stable. A small tinge of disgust went through me after playing the scene over again in my head. Belikos was right, I really was getting soft.
While the others tended to Marion and confirming the death of the other two Stormtroopers I found the crushed remains of someone who had come here before us, preserved in the cold. He held what seemed to be a holocron. I worried about involving us with more Jedi business but told Marion to bring it with us for safety. The fight had hastened the cave in along one of the walls, allowing us to climb outside. It seemed unlikely that Marion would survive returning to Belikos the way she was, and noticing how Jaxx also seemed disillusioned with Belikos and already knowing Cheol-Su’s view of the Empire, I suggested that we simply didn’t report in.
I told them we had other employers who would take them in, and with any luck, the long range communicator on the crashed ship should be enough to send for help. They seemed to agree it was our best shot, and hurried back to the village.
Marion was brought to the elder and he worked whatever tribal medicine his people used on her. Normally I would object, but it seemed like the best treatment we were going to get. AR-47 meanwhile had organized so that I would have a chieftain hut to rest in…as well as some of the village huntresses to attend me. I could have sworn that was not standard behaviour for a protocol droid, but after the day I had, I didn’t object.
A few days passed and when it seemed as though Marion would be ready to leave, I finally had AR-47 create a secure link to Agent Talo. I knew this was objectively foolish of me, merely verifying that I was alive could create complications further on, but I felt I at least had to give her a final chance to get out. And besides, we had still learned very little about the empire’s plans on Svan-Tee IV, besides it being related to Jedis in some way.
Agent Talo came up on screen, she looked haggard, clearly she had not had a better time of things these past few days than we had. Already a good portion of the people in her unit were dead, but they were pushing ahead. I once again asked her not to stay with Belikos, his was not the Empire that we had pledged our allegiance to. For a brief moment she seemed uncertain, but soon her resolve was made clear. She was loyal to Marshal Darya who she still believed was a person worth following, for what reasons I couldn’t fathom. She believed her former Director had what it took to set the Empire straight and there was nothing more I could say to sway her.
I did not get any more information out of her and so we said our farewells, both understanding we would never see the other one again. And if we did, it would most likely be as enemies. A shame, a real shame. Dinah was a good agent.
We left the next morning, the elder himself was leading the way to the ship, just as Belikos’ ships jumped to hyperspace, leaving us behind. The trek took quite a bit of time but we finally arrived to find…nothing. Just more snow and ice. But the elder seemed confident enough and claimed all we had to do was to wait for the wind to clear the snow away.
The wind did indeed pickup, but that shouldn’t have been enough to uncover several tons worth of metal, but seemingly it did. It was the first and only time I sensed something akin to deception coming from the man… perhaps they were not as primitive as they wanted others to believe.
Soon the ship was uncovered, it was an old rebel fighter that had crashed on the planet. We cautiously approached the ship, with the elder warning us of something lurking inside the ships interior. Something… which showed itself as an R2 unit. Apparently the droid had spent his time repairing the ship and, based on his estimates, the ship should be flightworthy.
We said our farewells to the elder, and I warned him to hide should people dressed like us approach him in the future. He nodded knowingly, turned and was soon swept up in the blowing snow. The long distance communicator was apparently still somewhat unreliable, the R2 unit using most of its energy to power life support on the ship. So instead we decided to gamble that the the ship would hold as Marion settled into the cockpit.
The ship took off the ground, and for a moment things looked as though it was going well and then…it continued to do so. ‘Perhaps’ I thought to myself, ‘my luck was changing’.