Beyond After the Fall - Episode 1: Blowback (AU, Original Gang)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by The_Wall, Nov 6, 2012.

Moderators: Briannakin, mavjade
  1. The_Wall Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2007
    Trying this again on (weird) new boards.

    A brief description might help. After the Fall is my re-imagining of life after Endor, taking a darker and more realistic view of what happens to a multi-species galactic civilization when it loses its Sith Lord-headed authoritarian regime. It is AU, then, but only from the moment the Falcon flies clear of the detonation of the second Death Star. Everything up to that point, in the Original Trilogy, is canon.

    The central focus will be the original gang-those of them still alive-but a number of favorite EU characters will be incorporated as well, and one or two plus several minor OT characters (especially Mon Mothma) will have major parts. Their personalities will, as far as possible, remain true to the OT-except where their personalities barely register in the OT and only emerge in the EU; for them (especially Mon Mothma) I've spun my own takes-but they're going to turn up in some odd places doing some odd things.

    Hope you enjoy.
  2. The_Wall Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2007
    Episode I: Blowback

    Sometimes they ask me, “If you had foreseen, Master, would you have walked the same path?” Of course, I might say to them, The past is a forest hung with mist. We are not even sure of the path we walked to emerge at this place we think is its edge, let alone the paths we did not walk. Or I might say to them, The past is the recollection of a forest hung with mist, and though we think we have arrived at its edge this cannot be so, for in a moment we shall look back and see the sprigs, in an hour the saplings, in a day, no more, wroshyr trunks. Yet this would be dishonest and ungenerous, because they are not asking what they mean to ask. They mean to ask, “Do you regret? Are you regretful?” To say to them, The past is a Mon Calamari seaswell, The past is a comet’s tail, The past is a Sullustan sunset, is empty mysticism, and it is to deny regret, to deny mourning, to deny that deep longing these acolytes and pilgrims feel as keenly as their Master, not for a different past but for a different future.
    From The Meditations of Luke Skywalker.

    The Destroyers arrived in the afternoon, long, sharp, brilliantly white, seeming to glisten in the lingering mists of mid-morning. They had come before, first to slag the orbital observatories and then the weather stations, the docking stations, the communication satellites. On those occasions, however, they had been mere points of light in the evening, nothing at all in the light of day. On those occasions, they had not hung in the sky like a row of jagged teeth, dropping from their enameled innards a swarm of flittering insect specks that soon became terrible birds of prey whipping over the farms of Dabor Lin and letting loose great screeches of ion and air.

    Familiar sirens greeted them, at first subdued, then urgent. This time was different. This time was theirs. The people braced themselves for the sudden bolts of fire, the unearthly blue orbs, the green lances from high above that would take from them their borrowed time, that would make them, finally, orphans, widows, refugees. Survivors. They did not come.

    Instead, a new swarm emerged above, swooping this time as great seabirds, pale against the horizon, graceful, calm, quiet. More terrifying, much more.

    The people could see them as they fell behind the hills, as they passed over the forests, as they vanished beneath sight. They gathered in hurried groups, constituencies of panic, speaking low as if practicing for the long silence to come. Where, they debated, were the shuttles landing? At the spaceport in Krikem, at the rail line in Kork, at the spaceport in Aemar, at the militia barracks in the county west, at the communication center in Garnborough, come this time more courageously to wipe out what remained of Dabor Lin’s importance to the outside? It was not long before they realized they were all right. It was not long before they realized, too, they were all wrong.

    The great seabirds landed at the spaceports. They landed at the rail lines. They landed at the militia barracks. And they landed in plazas and thoroughfares, there stately and unperturbed by the panic they brought to the steady lines of city dwellers fleeing to the country, where the great seabirds had landed in markets and orchards, where already steady lines of country dwellers fled, inexorably, inevitably, to the city. They landed everywhere. In both hemispheres, on every continent, they came in flocks and settled, prepared to fight, prepared, too, to nest.

    They did not go unresisted, not at all. Dabor Lin was an agricultural world, not far from the centers of power but itself merely an intersection between them. They were not well armed. They had no navy. Nonetheless, they fought. With hand blasters and homemade explosives, the militia took to their posts and discovered instantly the unimpeachable fact of death coming for them. Those who stood and stayed were incinerated by the bombers without preamble, without the opportunity of surrender, graceful or otherwise, and those who fled were cut down in the contemptuous blaster fire of the ground troops after they had disembarked, almost in afterthought. The ministers of government, not long elected, as they themselves argued in vain, were interrogated for the long and excruciating period it takes to interrogate men and women who know nothing and then shot in a manner of such disdain that it seemed even the new authorities believed their crime was not in resisting but in not resisting well enough.

    In all, the occupation took four days, but the people themselves did not need four days. As that first afternoon gave way to night and the distant brightness of tracer fire began slowly to dim, they knew. Long before the columns of white armor began appearing in the neighborhoods, long before news of the militia’s unconditional surrender reached the town halls, long before the details of Garm bel Iblis’ defeat at Byss were known, the people knew they were not to be the survivors but the conquered.

    This time, the New Republic had come to stay.
    Last edited by The_Wall, Nov 6, 2012
  3. The_Wall Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2007
    Chapter One

    Yet this is not the right question. It asks only, “What do you feel, Master? Had you perfect foreknowledge, would you have taken other steps, skipped where you stumbled, run where you walked, walked where you ran, turned left rather than right, right rather than left?” I would be inhuman, un-sentient, to give them any answer other than the one they wish. They do not dare go so far as to ask a question with uncertain answers. They do not ask, “Would you have turned back, stopped, walked not another path but another direction?” They do not ask, in short, “If you had foreseen, Master, the fruits of rebellion, would you have rebelled?”
    From The Meditations of Luke Skywalker

    The great ship glided through the icy blue light of Dabor Col. At this distance, its own icy blue ion engines dwarfed the star, yet this was of course a trick of perspective. From the ship’s long keel, the star was a brilliant, blinding orb, as wide as the thumbs of many bipedal species; from the star, the ship was invisible, less than a speck, a child’s boat presumed vanished in a sea of specks. In the star’s life, too, and that of its momentarily wayward companion, that deep green behemoth around which the ship now spun and for which the star’s icy blue light seemed to, but did not, shine, and which to the specks in the sea of specks was nothing more than a wobble across the star’s waist, all the great ship would ever be, from the time its keel was laid down to the time it was shredded in the reclamation machines, or, likelier in this terrible age, blown through with great gasps of plasma and vacuum, was a moment, a tiny packet of time, as consequential as a belch in the life of a Hutt.

    To the humans of Dabor Lin, however, who were neither stars nor planets and did not enjoy either’s longevity, the great ship was the answer to every question, the creeping fingers of every nightmare, the true fire in all their cries of fury and a shadow hanging low over all their cries of passion, even, in the rumors that surrounded it as it fell into their orbit, the tiny glimmer of all the hope they had left. To the people of Dabor Lin, deep green behemoth, wet, misty, bathed in a crystalline coolness, occasionally lit up in a blinding sparkle, anonymous in a galaxy torn between the steel teem of Coruscant, the watery wariness of Mon Calamari, the crazy, reckless bull raging of Corellia, largest exporter, by volume, of food quality starches and grains in the sector, the great ship was the beginning and end of the universe.

    Around it buzzed thousands of tiny lights, cast by repair droids plugging the craters that always pockmarked the hull of an interstellar traveler, courier droids bearing small but precious cargoes or dispatches too sensitive to drop into the stream of subspace, patrol droids sweeping the local volume for any debris moving too deliberately, too surely, to be natural, cargo shuttles running to and from the planet and the occupation fleet, fighters running routine exercises or escort duty, a hive of activity so dense, beautiful and seamless that it almost, but not quite, better expressed the grandeur of the great ship at its center than the great ship itself.

    It was more than a mile long, a sweeping, gleaming durasteel testament to the highest reaches of sentient science and engineering. From any significant distance its skin was as pale and smooth as a river fish’s. From closer in, it was rough, studded from end to end by antennae, sensor and communication dishes, ports, hatches, thruster nodules, engineering domes, missile pods, weapons batteries, observation towers. Within its hull were forty thousand sentient minds, more than one million droids of varying sizes and intelligences, and nine hundred smaller craft. It was called the RNS Liberator and its profile had once been the most terrifying sight in the galaxy.

    And, she thought in a dark, private moment, still was. From where she sat at the head of a vast conference table in the situation anteroom of the Admiral’s Bridge, she could see the whole arrowhead taper to its majestic point, held, as always, against the ink of space as though against its throat. She could feel its power --- she always did --- and closed her eyes. It was vertiginous.

    The Republic Navy Ship Liberator was an Imperial II Star Destroyer. Constructed as a sector command ship, it contained three extra decks to accommodate the full Admiral or Grand Moff in whose service it was ordinarily to fly. To what purpose these decks were put generally depended upon the character of their occupant, and in certain cases, on other vessels, would shock a Twi’lek. Their purpose in this case, however, on this vessel would have shocked the Emperor himself. From wall to wall, on three decks, were banks of terminals and servers, advanced holographic displays, wildly eclectic paintings and pottery, exotic dresses, musical instruments only gelatinous limbs could hope to play, protocol droids, and more than six hundred sentients representing seventy species; there, at the apex of the greatest example of the greatest warship ever designed by the Empire, was the nerve center of the largest, most sophisticated consulate in galactic history.

    Beneath them, another ten thousand support staff and nearly three hundred thousand droids toiled at the newscasts, dispatches, intelligence reports, official protocols, cultural, civic, economic and political lives, and downright gossip of more than a million worlds, only the slimmest fraction of which the Liberator would ever visit. And yet, through its fleet of support craft and the twelve sister ships over which it had command, it monitored all of them, maintained contact with most of them, and sent delegations to a select few. Its official mission was to lay the groundwork of diplomatic relations with systems and species either outside or uncomfortably within the New Republic’s ambit. Unofficially, morally, it was the banner of the New Republic’s best hopes, a ship of war transformed into a ship of peace, flying above the wreckage of one wartorn planet after another, bringing with it aid, succor and the promise of a better future.

    Even less officially, so unofficially it had never been written anywhere by any official of the New Republic, and obviously, so obviously she sometimes wanted to scream it from the Memorial Spire of the Concordat Council Building, its mission was pacification. The Liberator had initially been scheduled for a gut refit, stripping it of most of its weaponry, all of its planetary weaponry, and all of its fighters, to be replaced with an honor guard of A-Wings, and drastically reducing the military complement necessary to operate it. Instead, Mon Calamari techs had refitted the droid and computer systems, downsizing the crew sufficiently to make room for the diplomats without reducing, by a single blaster rifle, the ship’s operational capabilities. Their purpose had been security, and there was no question that the Liberator’s prestige and effectiveness were bolstered by its continued power, but it was always there, in the back of her mind, and she imagined in the actual backs of the worlds she visited.

    The choice of ship, and its name, which suggested an element of force it was the ship’s purpose to avoid, had not been hers, but the embassy ships were. The problem with the Old Republic, she believed, and certainly the problem with the Empire was not its central government, which was necessary and inevitable, but the central government’s remoteness from the worlds it ruled. For high-ranking Republic officials, preferably heroes of the Rebellion, to visit those worlds would accomplish two goals. First, it would pay respect to the Republic’s members and give them a channel for their needs and grievances, stitching them more closely to the union and, simultaneously, casting the light of the periphery upon the core, helping to keep it open, plural and less prone to the insular corruption that had marred the Old Republic and served the Emperor. Second, by calling on all species, and bringing them from system to system, it would help to open up cultural exchanges between the galaxy’s multitudinous races.

    When it was set in motion in the halcyon days after Endor, the program had been widely acclaimed. Even as the light dimmed, and the troubles began, it had gathered such momentum that it could not be stopped even by those who dearly wished it to be. It had been very well-funded, and the consular fleet, and its hundreds of thousands of diplomats, couriers, analysts and linguists and millions of droids, was among the finest, if also the smallest, in the galaxy. And yet the opposition had not been entirely unsuccessful. On the pretext of insecurity in the wake of Kuat, the fleet’s number, once planned to be more than one hundred, was frozen. Moreover, the embassy ships were not to be embassies at all; instead, in order to preserve the Concordat Council’s oversight, their mission was reduced to one of cultural outreach and communication, its leaders consuls rather than ambassadors. They had no power to negotiate or conclude treaties or accords unless specifically authorized.

    And it was for this reason that the Liberator’s greatest asset was not its exceptional diplomats, its top-shelf protocol droids, its cutting edge technology or even the great ship itself, but rather the twenty seven year old woman sitting in the anteroom of the Admiral’s Bridge wondering at that moment how she ever found herself above the detention level of an Imperial Star Destroyer.

    Leia Organa, once styled Princess, war hero, Rebel leader, formerly the youngest member of the Imperial (afterall) Senate, now Ambassador Extraordinary of the New Galactic Republic, Councilor in Concordat (merely On Leave, for now), Provisional Minister and Plenipotentiary of the President of the Concordat Council, possessed what none of the Liberator’s sister ships did: Authority.

    For what good it did her.

    “…is what I don’t get. I mean, what did the old geezer want to do? Get some beachfront property?”

    Leia smiled.

    “There were always rumors, you know,” Sulina Cr’r replied, her vestigial gills, pink and succulent like slices of melon, rippling with what Leia knew was nervousness. “About what… He kept there.”

    Several of the others nodded. Rosk, who had asked the question, grinned ruefully and shook his head. He was not an acolyte of the Force’s deeper mysteries.

    The debate launched from there. It was symbolic some said, make a stand, beat the Republic close to the Quarantine Line, sue for peace and take his chunk of space. No, others countered, not his style, he was after the Emperor’s secrets. You’re both wrong, intoned the chief analysts, there are clear and compelling strategic interests at stake (there weren’t, Leia knew) that are classified (they hadn’t been), we can’t tell you (they couldn’t because there weren’t), but trust us (never wise). No, no, said the economists, it’s all about the economy, Byss is a credit mine waiting to be struck.

    Back and forth it raged between the two dozen odd senior staffers gathered haphazardly around the conference table, each abuzz with coming and going staff of their own. The way the conference table sprawled and luxuriated, a genuine Kyrkyrk wood antique more than seven hundred years old (it would have to be, Kyrkyrk now being a nova haze), the way they all moved together, it was like the Liberator in miniature. She chuckled. The cluster nearest her heard and cut short their conversation. Slowly, the others noticed the silence and joined it, until at last the anteroom was still and expectant. She always began meetings this way, a freeform in which she was merely an observer. In theory, it gave her an opportunity to catch the stray unvarnished thought, or allowed them all to create anarchically, but in truth she simply enjoyed it. These were brilliant, passionate minds, a few much older than hers, grizzled veteran minds roughed up and jaded by Imperial experience and not one half as cynical as hers, many older, one or two younger, but their aids, who were always free to chime in and frequently did so in this window, almost all of them half a decade or more her junior. All as brilliant, all at least as passionate, many recent graduates of the galaxy’s best universities, their loyalties (sometimes ostentatiously) firmly Old Alliance.

    They waited for her now, to shift the conversation to the reason they were here, which was at least as difficult a mystery, if a much smaller, more personal one, than that of the Battle of Byss they had just been discussing. She almost plunged into that discussion instead, but caught herself. She sighed.

    “So, folks, where are we?”

    “The retreating tail end of nowhere,” Tryus Darnk said. The room laughed.

    “Pacification began twenty three standard days ago,” Pana Mirn said, scanning her notes. “Occupation was officially declared five days later. Provisional government is headed by one Shan Conar. Occupational authority is Standard Protocol Blue With Modifications.”

    Leia raised an eyebrow.

    “What modifications?” asked Rosk. “Blue seems right up this place’s exhaust port. No army, no navy, barely enough preschoolers for the militia, and no hostile activity.”

    “The-“

    “Not no, Major,” Terk Tarnan broke in. He scanned his own notes. “They have maintained non-excepted trade relationships with Corellia, in violation of Council Resolution 47583.15. They-“

    “Oh, hell, Tarnan,” Rosk snorted. “So has every system in this half of the galaxy.”

    “The very purpose of CR 47-“

    “-is cutting off ship sales to the Corellians. Look around, son,” he swept a hand across the external viewports. “See any shipyards? Hell, see any big munitions factories? Droidworks? Stars be damned, Tarnan, handheld comms and holo projectors are non-excepted. Every last blasted thing is non-excepted.”

    “At any rate, Dabor Lyn trades with Corellia because it must,” said Burgl, one of the economists and a Sullustan with the palest skin Leia had ever seen. “It has no options.”

    “They are also,” Terk continued, as though no one had spoken, “believed to be running not only the Quarantine Line but actually supplying smugglers who were identified running the Siege itself.”

    “So has-“ Rosk started.

    “-They are non-compliant with Provisional Ministry of Raw Materials Rule 307-1-409, requiring semi-standard annual inspections of food-quality grains.”

    “Well-“ started Burgl.

    “And,” Leia thought she caught the stingiest hint of a smirk flash across the young man’s face. He laid his data pad on the table with a faint clack. “They are anti-Kuatists.”

    “Well,” said Rosk, “there you go. Can’t have any unarmed potato farmers smart mouthin’ the Council.”

    “Certainly not, certainly not,” said Burgl, his head vibrating.

    “Whatever would happen to the Republic if the unarmed potato farmers dismissed the tripartite electoral structure of the Galactic Senate when it exists in twelve years?” said Tyrus.

    “Or started sayin’ their sector navy can go right ahead and build cruisers with displacements of more than one hundred thousand tons?” said Rosk.

    Leia smiled. Terk flushed and she thought for a moment he might demure.

    Instead, he said, “Apart from the Imperialists, there are two factions in the galaxy now:” Leia braced herself. “Kuatists and Anti-Kuatists.”

    As usual, the room erupted. Leia caught Rosk’s eye and shook her head ruefully.

    “Gentleman,” Terk shouted over the din, urging them to silence with his long, delicate fingers and what Leia privately referred to as His Excellency the Imperial Grand Chamberlain voice. “Gentleman, you may not all like where the line is drawn, but that is the line. Dabor Lyn is one the wrong side of it.”

    “Them and half the planets in this sector,” Rosk said. “Still doesn’t explain what in hell we’re doing here.”

    “Ah, well,” said Terk, and this time he did smile, wryly, in that occasional way Leia sometimes thought was the only reason she kept him around. "I believe they are all considerably better armed than Dabor Lyn.”

    Leia chuckled, as did most of the non-seething part of the room, the older part, generally, wary and elastic. It was smaller than it used to be, she noted.

    “Departure authorizations for expanded garrison, a naval intelligence detachment, total oversight of civilian institutions,” Pana Mirn answered, her tone and expression unchanged. It was a talent the young diplomat shared with Terk, Leia’s chief secretary, and she thought it must be standard training in the new Diplomatic Service. Hear no evil, see no evil. “Special circumstance justifying departure listed as Terrorism. A secondary circumstance is classified.”

    Leia casually tapped the flat computer console set into deep, dark wood before her.

    “Risk of Enemy Engagement: Elevated,” she read. Her staff did not flinch. They were now accustomed to her breezy disregard of security regulations.

    “Enemy engagement?” Tyrus snorted. “Here?”

    Leia shrugged.

    “So the man says. What is the garrison?”

    “Space or planetary?”

    “Space first.”

    “Presently, elements of the Twenty Third Fleet led by the dreadnought Anteros. It will depart in two standard days, leaving behind an intelligence squadron and three Star Destroyers of the Victory Class. They will protect the planet until permanent defenses are in place.”

    “Permanent defenses?”

    “A standard deployment missile field, sixteen stations, a planetary ion cannon, Mark VII Type, and a Golan Defense Platform. A Star Destroyer and twelve fighter squadrons, seven Tie, one Tie Interceptor, three X-Wing and one Y-Wing, will also be part of the garrison.”

    Rosk whistled.

    “Ground?”

    “Elements of the Ninth Marine Division and Fourth Armored Division of the XXXII Corps, Ninth Army, as well as an Air Wing, two intelligence squadrons, and two stormtrooper brigades of the Third Army on permanent detachment. The Captain of the Anteros is presently in charge, although pacification was commanded by XXXII Corps Commander, Lieutenant General General Yis Harden, who left for Byss four hours after occupation was declared. The planetary garrison commander is Colonel Garrundus Weith. The highest ranking military officer in the system is, of course, the Captain of the Liberator. And the highest Republic authority…” she made a great show of shuffling through her notes. “I believe that’s you, ma’am.”

    Chuckling, this time throughout the room.

    “Quite a comfort, Pana,” Leia said.

    “What in blazes are they doing here?” Tyrus said.

    “Better question is, and I think it’s time we had an answer,” Rosk said, “what are we doing here, Princess?”

    Leia sighed.

    “I was asked to come,” she said. She smiled bitterly. “By an old friend.”
    Last edited by The_Wall, Nov 7, 2012
Moderators: Briannakin, mavjade