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Saga - OT Patriots of the Empire / OCs - New Chapter(11/28)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by FORCEBlLADE, Jan 9, 2017.

  1. FORCEBlLADE

    FORCEBlLADE Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Summary: As the Galactic Empire is ignited into a Civil War with the rising Rebel Alliance, two friends, both of loyal Imperial families, question the very regime they were raised to believe in with each questionable act that is committed in the name of victory. As a resistance movement grows in the capital home world of Coruscant, loyalties of duty, flags - and above all family are put to the test. Which sides do they choose? Which choices can they live with?
    Author's Note: Prequel to story Call to the Force
    Disclaimer: I claim no ownership to any material in this fic that is the property of Lucasfilm and Disney.

    ----------

    Prologue

    '"The planetary shield is down!"

    The report came in through his helmet's comm piece. "Repeat, the planetary shield is down."

    "Now give us the bad news!" one of his squad members barked.

    Their situation had gone from troubling to a complete disaster. Right now, they were in the middle of a fire fight with a squad of Rebel soldiers who were well hidden at the face of the jungle and firing at their position, behind a few large pieces of stone on the beach. They had been caught by surprise when heading back towards the base's tower, half their squad being shot down, and now there were only three of them left.

    "I got one," his other surviving comrade shouted with glee -

    - only to then be hit by a laser bolt directly to the head. He dropped onto the sand, maybe still smiling under his helmet.

    "Shrap!" he bellowed. Now there were two of them left against five enemy soldiers who were not easing up on them.

    "These rocks aren't going to hold forever," his one remaining squad member pointed out, back pinned against the stone.

    True enough, it was only a matter of time before the rain of blaster fire broke their protection apart. So their options were either run, make a last stand, or charge the enemy. None of those seemed to favor them managing to stay alive.

    How had this gone so bad? One second it had been a day like any other day on Scarif. The usual patrol. The usual talks. Then, out of nowhere, Rebel forces had somehow managed to sneak passed the planet's shields, set off explosives all over the terrain surrounding the base, and an entire fleet arrives to take out the planet's shield gate.

    From all he had heard up to this point about the Rebellion against the Empire they were a few small cells of terrorist who had been trying to undermine the Empire's authority for a few years now. Nothing but a few skirmishes, acts of sabotage, and hit-and-run fire fights. Nothing that imperial forces couldn't ultimately squash.

    -but this was something else completely. An entire fleet was attacking their forces above, with whole squadrons of troops engaging them here on the ground. This wasn't some meager group of dissatisfied citizens committing small acts of resistance. The Rebel Alliance was, in fact, an organized force with strong resources and numbers.

    And going by what was now happening here on Scarif they were now declaring open war on the Galactic Empire. News of this battle would spread through the galaxy soon enough. Lines would be drawn. Sides would be chosen. He didn't know whether to be terrified at the prospect of war, or to be thrilled at finally getting to see some action.

    That is, of course, if he would survive this battle, which was looking unlikely. He counted down from three then stood from his hiding spot to return fire - only there was suddenly no one to return fire to. The Rebel soldiers had seized their assault and were retreating, which made no sense. They had them pinned down and would have killed them in due time..

    "What happened?"

    "Reinforcements."

    No. There was no one else, Rebel or Imperial, in the vicinity that he could see.

    The sound of a fast moving ship above drew his attention. An X-Wing was retreating back up to space at top speed. Had the Rebel forces been overwhelmed and decided to retreat? Possibly. Or had they maybe gotten whatever intelligence from the base's archives that he suspected they had come to Scarif for?

    Even after the X-Wing disappeared into space, he didn't take his gaze away from the sky. Because orbiting above the planet now was something he was having trouble registering: it was some kind of station, spherical-shaped, and the size of which nobody in the galaxy had ever seen. He certainly never had

    But how was something like that possible? The years, resources and manpower it must've taken. He had heard rumors of a new Imperial space station the size of a small moon that had just been completed, but to see it now with his very own eyes. It was going to take a while to wrap his mind around it.

    "Insane," his friend said, also looking up at the station.

    From its dish several green beams of light shot out, joining together. The united beam then came down into the planet, impacting on the surface some distance away, but causing a devastation that was quickly rippling through the surface.

    "That's coming this way. It's heading right for us!"

    He was right. A wave of earth and radiation would reach them in a manner of minutes. Their entire base would be destroyed, without a doubt, but why hadn't they received any warning about it? Why hadn't they been given time to evacuate? How many Imperial personnel were about to be killed along with the few remaining Rebel soldiers? What was about to be accomplished by that station other than complete destruction?

    "We're dead," he declared. "There is no outrunning that. There's no hiding from it."

    Already he could feel a strong current of heat and air and the ground crumbling all around them. How would they die, though? From the earth breaking apart beneath them? Or the force of the air? In any case, it was most certainly going to be a meaningless death. In a battle where their dedication and bravery amounted to nothing, and they would perish by the hands of their own people.

    "But the Empire's killing it's own people. Just to take out a few Rebels. Why?"

    The answer came to him without any struggle to find it. "Because they don't care about us."
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
  2. FORCEBlLADE

    FORCEBlLADE Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Chapter One

    Vaila woke up in a fright, but of what she couldn't say. It must've been a bad dream. She hated forgetting dreams. It was like losing a piece of your mind to the abyss.

    The window in her bedroom showed the night sky of Coruscant, with the earliest promise of the coming daylight.

    For a minute she debated about whether to try and go back to sleep or not, and eventually decided to go to the kitchen and get a glass of water. Once she did that, she then decided to go the family HoloNet transceiver in the living room and see if there were any messages for her. Nothing. That was disappointing. it had been two days since she had received a message from boyfriend, Misael, who was stationed on an Imperial base out of the system, which was unusual. He rarely went a day without sending a quick hi and to say his day had gone fine.

    "Vai, what are you doing up?"

    From a hallway her father stood in plane grey sleeping garments. "Usually I have to pry you out of bed when it isn't a school day."

    "I wanted to see if we got a message from Misael, but there's nothing." Despite herself, she began to wonder if the long distance of their relationship was starting to take a toll.

    Her father walked over to her. "Vai, sweetheart, he's a soldier in the Imperial Army. His duties can be demanding and time consuming. He won't always have the freedom to make a call half way across the galaxy."

    "I guess."

    He set a hand on her shoulder to start guiding her back to her room. "Now why don't you go back to sleep."

    "No, I'm wide awake now. I think I'll go for a run."

    "Okay then. Don't forget to stretch."

    "Noted."

    The building they lived in was mainly occupied by high ranking military and their families, with a few political figures as well. So a few floors were setup for exercise of every kind. Weight lifting, stationary workouts, swimming pools, courts for various ballgames, a running trail.

    She spent a half-hour running laps at a steady pace until the sunrise had finally arrived. By this point she was soaking in sweat, so she was going to be taking a good long shower.

    The first lift to open for her had another passenger, whom she knew. Katin Lerus wasn't so much as standing against the wall as much as sleeping on it. By the looks of his multiply-stained clothes, sunken eyes, missing shoe, and alcoholic smell, the boy had pulled an all night rage again.

    "How was your night, Lerus?" she shouted, causing him to jump back awake like a bit of a maniac. Vaila held in a laugh.

    "I'll let you know when my memory of it clears up a little bit."

    It was sad, really. Katin came from a prominent family; his mother was a law advisor for a regional governor, and his father was the head of Coruscant's housing department. He also had an older brother, Aeryn, who had just graduated from the Imperial Academy with highest honors and had begun his enlistment in Intelligence. Yet, despite having such prime examples to influence his life, Katin was so far choosing to spend his days goofing off, partying, and getting into trouble.

    All signs pointed to him wasting away the opportunities most wished they had. Even worse, that seemed to be his actual goal. Because they had both lived in this building since birth they had known each other their whole lives. Their families came together for the occasional Imperial mixers, so they had played together plenty growing up, but these days they ran in different circles.

    "But I do remember talking to my friend Barten about what's happened in Jedha," Katin said once he got himself standing straight.

    "Never heard of it."

    "Oh. Well, it's where the Jedi used to have a temple," he explained. "Apparently, the holy city there was destroyed by the Empire."

    "What are you talking about?"

    "I mean they blew it off the face of the map." He made an explosion gesture with his arms, along with the noise. "He did some digging in the darker corners of the HoloNet and heard whispers that the Empire used the city to test some kind of new superweapon."

    This time Vaila didn't hold back her laugh. "Boy, your slicer friend is quite the conspiracy theorist."

    But Katin shook his head insistently. "No, he swears it's the real deal. The Empire built something huge and powerful, and they just used it again on a planet called Scarif. He wasn't able to get anything else about it though, but he's freaked out. I mean a weapon that can cause that kind of destruction is enough to scare the pants off anyone."

    A cold shiver went up her spine. Why had that just given her such a chill? And why was she suddenly thinking about Misael?

    The lift door opened to her floor. "Okay, well, thanks for the fresh newsfeed of paranoia. See you at school." She rushed out and sprinted to her apartment door.

    Unfortunately, she wasn't able to leave behind the unsettling feeling that she should be concerned about this crazy story Katin just told her about Scarif.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2021
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  3. FORCEBlLADE

    FORCEBlLADE Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Chapter Two

    "Katin Lerus! You had better be at the table in one minute!" someone yelled from the other side Katin's bedroom door. "Not another second later!"

    Despite a resilient moan, Katin managed to find the willpower to drag himself off his bed and out if his room to the dinning room table on the other side of his family's apartment. A journey he managed in a bit of a hazy state.

    "Katin, good morning," his father, Darvis, said, setting a datapad down on the table. "Did you sleep well?"

    He managed to throw him a wide smile. "Like a log, Pops."

    "Still, I must imagine that a total of two hours just doesn't quite have the desired effect." He crossed his arms. "Especially when you spent a considerable amount of the effort becoming inebriated."

    Sitting next to his dad, his older brother, Aeryn, watched the confrontation with absolute interest. Katin's brother was always happy to have a front row seat to him being disciplined for his antics. Just at the tip of his lips there was always the slightest of curl that showed what joy he was getting out the show.

    "You're probably thinking I shouldn't have figured it out. You reprogrammed our security droid before you left, but what you don't know is I had a new backup system installed; courtesy of your brother."

    Aeryn allowed an eyebrow to jump up as an acceptance of credit.

    "So this was what, your fifth night out this month?"

    "Yes, night. Not a school night, but a night," he was quick to point out.

    "Katin!" His mother, Mesila, sat down next to him. "You are seventeen years-old now. You are no longer a child. So when are you going to stop acting like one?"

    Every member of his family was lately asking him questions that started with when more than once. When are you going to grow up? When are you going to get your life together? When are you going to start thinking about your future? All valid questions for his family to ask - if only they weren't for the desire to hear he would be enrolling into the Imperial academy next year.

    There were no multiple choices in in these questions. This was the only definitively right answer that he could give them. An answer that he was dead set against giving them.

    "I'll keep you guys posted. Do you want a subscription to my journal? It's a riveting read-"

    A loud stomp broke the conversation. Katin's father had slammed a fist onto the table. The impact was so strong that the dishes of food and drinks slightly jumped up into the air just the tiniest bit. Katin saw his glass of juice even move a little.

    "This is not a joke, Katin!" The volume and heated tone of his voice said Katin was to shut up and listen. "Now I have waited patiently for you to outgrow this little party boy phase, but since there's no sign of you doing this on your own. So you are now going to do as I tell you: No more nights outs. You will focus completely on school. You will apply for the academy."

    He raised his hand as if this were a classroom. "I have a question. When have I ever showed the slightest interest in joining the Imperial service?"

    "Do you have other plans that you haven't shared with us?" Aeryn asked, arms now crossed like their father.

    "Go back to sitting there and looking pretty, big brother."

    "Don't speak to your brother like that," their father said. "He asks a valid question. Do you have any other plans for your life?"

    Following his father and brother, he crossed his arms. "No, but just because I don't have my life all figured doesn't mean I'm going become some mindless drone in the military or pompous nerf herder in the political world."

    "We're doing our part for the galaxy, Katin," his brother proclaimed. "We're doing our part for the Empire."

    "Right, your parts being throwing lower classes out of their homes to make room for outposts and military bases." This was directed at his father. He then pointed a finger at his mother. "Helping a corrupt governor hold his seat." Lastly, he pointed to his brother, "and rooting out every single person who has the most remotely bad opinion of our glorious Empire."

    This just about did it for his father. Standing up, he walked around the table, pulled him off his chair with one arm, and then led him back to bedroom. "Until further notice you're grounded. You don't leave this room unless we allow you to."

    This didn't feel like a punishment, so much as a reward for expressing such blatant disrespect for his family, by not having to spend time with them.

    Ten minutes passed before there was a knock on the door. "Come in." It was his mother, with a tray of food that she set down on his nightstand.

    "How many more times are you going to pick the same argument with us, sweetheart?" she asked without resentment. Something neither his father or brother could ever manage.

    He answered while remaining laid down on his bed, eyes on the ceiling, "How much longer am I going to be scolded for not living up to the family name?"

    "Forgive us if we wish more for you than a life of nighttime escapades."

    This time, he raised his head to eye her. "We both know I could stay right here every night, like a good little boy, and I would still be considered the black sheep just for not picking up an application to the academy. That's what this is really about."

    "So a life of service isn't for you?"

    He snorted. "Not to the kinds of people who have the of run this place. No."

    "So you think your mother works for a corrupt governor."

    "I know you do." He sat up to face his mother on even level. "He allowed farming of a crop that he knew would leave the lands barren on multiple planets, and he wasn't so much as reprimanded." Katin almost added that he avoided legal charges thanks, partially, to her own help, but he didn't want to risk alienating her too. As much as he hated the people his mother helped escape legal prosecution that they deserved, he still loved her and didn't want to hurt her feelings. Out of his whole family she was the only one he felt a true bond with.

    "That situation was unfortunate, but it was decided that he was acting under the best interest of the Empire." What really hit him about his mother's answer was that she wasn't reading a line, like others did in the name of their job. She genuinely believed it.

    "Those planets are part of the Empire," he shot back. "How can you say it was in their best interest that they lose the ability grow food."

    "In situations like this, the good of the masses outweighs the good of the few, Katin." She took his hand in hers; despite its warmth his hand still felt a slight chill. "Those crops serve a purpose. You may not be able to see it, but the Empire doesn't do anything without cause, and sometimes sacrifices must be made."

    "That's easy to say when you're not the one making the sacrifices."

    His mother broke away from his hand, sighing in disappointment. Her attempt at playing good cop clearly didn't have the desired effect. "Please, eat your breakfast before it gets cold again. Once your father has calmed down you can come back outside."

    As his mother was walking out of the room he thought about whether to ask her about Jedha and Scarif, but decided against it. Even if she, or anyone else in his family, knew about what Barten had told him last night there was no chance they would confirm the existence of some superweapon.

    It sounded ludicrous, for sure. A new weapon capable of destroying entire cities with a single shot.

    But his friend, Barten, seemed completely convinced of its existence. As soon as word got around about the city on Jedah being completely destroyed in a mining accident he hit the HoloNet and searched for whatever whispers he could catch about what had really happened on the moon.

    Then last night he threw a party at his family's suite with the secret agenda of sharing what he was hearing with a few people he trusted, including Katin. While some would say such cloak and dagger measures were the actions of a paranoid nut, Katin knew that even the smallest criticism towards the Empire, no matter what the circumstance raised suspicion by many Imperial loyalists, including his own family.

    No doubt Aeryn would've had Barten investigated for criminal acts against the Empire if he had heard about his claims last night. Would even outright accuse him of being a Rebel member. Hell, he would accuse Katin of being one just for listening to any kind of negative comments about the regime that he was so in love with.

    Whatever the case the deaths of all those people on NiJedha was tragic - and what about Scarif? He thought about doing a search, but figured to wait until he had the apartment to himself after his parents and brother had all left for the day. He was almost afraid to, though. What if he actually found something that validated Barten's crazy claim?

    It's insane. Isn't it?

    ----------

    "So the entire base was obliterated," Admiral Mosney proclaimed after he finished reading the report.

    "Yes sir. No survivors," his aide said. "Neither Rebellion, nor Imperial forces on the ground were left alive."

    It was a waste. Scarif had been housing some of the Empire's most sensitive information. For Tarkin to have it wiped off the face of the planet was a far too extreme measure. Besides, the report went on to say that the Rebel forces on the surface had been able to transmit the information to a waiting ship that managed to jump out of the system. So Tarkin's measures had been in vain.

    Now the Rebel Alliance had a full architectural readout of the Death Star. While some had come to believe the newly finished space station to be completely indestructible, Mosney wasn't arrogant enough to think there might not be some small chance that the Rebellion could find a weakness in the station to destroy it from.

    Reports were coming in by the hour that Darth Vader himself was in pursuit of the plans. To his shock the ship that had fled with them was of none other than Senator Organa. A traitor who needed to be made an example of. Her entire planet of Alderaan needed to be made an example of. In some ways that world had always resisted the Empire's authority, but now that the truth about its senator and princess had come to light there was adequate reason to deal with them as a whole.

    While some have said that the mere existence of the Death Star would be enough to end this boiling war, others like Alaris always felt that once the battle station was completed it would only be absolutely necessary to show its power. It would only be a matter of finding the right time and place to show its capabilities.

    But that could wait. Right now, the circumstances on Scarif needed to be addressed. While NiJedha's destruction was explained away to the Senate easily enough, the destruction of an Imperial outpost, along with most of its personnel would be a bit more difficult.

    "Also sir, that other thing you asked me to look into." His aide handed him his datapad with a list of names. One of which was highlighted.

    Misael Amal - Killed in Action

    He took a moment to allow himself to not be an admiral,, but only a father. He knew his daughter's boyfriend had been stationed on the planet, so his death was a guarantee, but now that he had an official confirmation he would have to break the news to Vaila. Alaris had thought very highly of the young man. Graduated from the academy with honors, a dedicated soldier, and respectful of authority. The kind of man he would like to see all his daughters find.

    Only now his daughter would have her heart broken in learning he was dead. Mosney wondered whether he had fallen to Rebel forces or been a victim of collateral damage by the Death Star. In any case the fault lay on the Rebellion for attacking the planet. He would be sure to tell Vaila at whom her anger needed to be directed to. A silver lining in this tragedy would be that she would now have a personal reason to drive her once she started at the academy and eventually joined the Imperial service. It was a day he would look forward to.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2021
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  4. FORCEBlLADE

    FORCEBlLADE Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Chapter Three

    A knock on the door for the tenth time today did nothing to make Vaila want to leave her bed. "Vai, I'm coming in."

    She didn't bother looking up as the door opened and her sister, Kaila, walked over to her bed with a tray of food that she placed on the nightstand before sitting down on the edge of the bed.

    "I'm not going to try to force you to talk, I promise." She squeezed a hand on the lower part of her leg. "I'll just sit here and keep you company, if you're okay with that. Neither of us has to say a word."

    Vaila silently accepted the offer of her quiet company. Leave it to Kaila to know exactly what she did or didn't need. If anybody could know it would be her twin sister. So they remained in silence for a while; slowly, Vaila ate her dinner and when she finished gave her sister a thankful smile. Never before had it been so hard to smile.

    Eventually, Kaila got up to leave, taking the now empty tray with her. She stopped at the door to tell her with confidence, "Dad said they're close to finding the Rebels' secret base, and when they do this will all be over. Misael, and everyone else on Scarif, will be avenged."

    She said nothing else and left the room, closing the door behind her.

    Scarif?

    Yesterday night, when their dad had told her about Misael's death during a Rebel attack he hadn't mentioned it was on Scarif. He must've shared that detail with the rest of the family after Vaila had locked herself in her room. Of all the places Misael could've been it was the same place Katin tells her where some new Imperial weapon was used, but even if his crazy story was true, why would the Empire use a weapon to take out an Imperial base? Even if there were enemy forces attacking it. What reason could there possibly be to merit such an extreme measure.

    But no. She was talking as if she actually believed what Katin had told her, and she didn't. Misael was dead by Rebel hands. That was the only story that made sense.

    Didn't it?

    For the first time today she felt the need to talk to someone, but it wasn't to her father, or sister, or anyone else in her family.

    She paced, back and forth, in her room for a whole minute, with her comlink in her hand until she finally got a response. "Vaila, are you okay? I heard about Misael."

    "I need to talk to you, Katin." She looked over both her shoulders, despite knowing there was nobody else in her bedroom. "Meet me on the roof in an hour. I want to talk about what you told me the night before in the lift."

    "Why?"

    "Can you just meet me in an hour?"

    "Okay."

    Fifty minutes later she quietly tiptoed out of her bedroom and out of the apartment. Everybody always retired to their own rooms by this point, but most were probably still awake and she left her door locked in case anyone went to check on her. They would just assume she went to sleep and leave her be. She questioned the need for such stealth, but Vaila's gut told her she needed to talk to Katin about this under the radar.

    She made it to the rooftop a few minutes later, and ended up having to wait another ten for Katin to finally arrive. "You're late."

    "Sorry, but I had to sneak out. I was grounded."

    "Shocker."

    He snorted. "So what's up? Why did you want to meet out here?"

    "Misael was killed on Scarif."

    She gave Katin a minute to absorb the what was clearly a new piece of detail he hadn't known. He and Misael had actually been friends, for reason Vaila could never quite figure out. Misael had been so responsible and level headed. While Katin always lacked any sense of structure or self-regard. Yet the two had formed a friendship. Opposites attracted, she supposed.

    "I didn't know that's where he was stationed."

    Again she looked over her shoulder before speaking. "Neither did I, until earlier tonight; I want to know everything your slicer friend heard about what happened there."

    He hesitated, maybe sharing the same paranoia as her. "Katin, please, if there is any truth to what he said to you, then I need to know."

    "Well, he didn't tell me much. Just that Jedha was used as a field test."

    "For a new weapon?"

    "Yeah, then the Rebels attacked a base in Scarif, so the weapon was used there too. It wiped out everyone on the surface, including Imperial personnel."

    That was the part his story she really had trouble swallowing above all else. If the Empire had indeed created a more sufficient means of eliminating the Rebellion threat, fine, but to use it in a way that also killed people on their own side in the process then what did that say about them? How could they be alright with such collateral damage?

    Misael had been such a devoted soldier. He came from military family like her. Serving had been all he ever wanted to do, from the time that they were all just little kids.

    Then, after only a few months out of the academy, he's killed by his own people. Written off as a necessary sacrifice. What kind of service was that? How were his loved ones supposed to accept that? Then there was Jedha. She had done a search on it, and saw the official report about a mining disaster destroying the entire city and its population. What was the excuse for that? Had it been the same situation as on Scarif? If so, why not say as much? Why the cover up?

    Of course, this was assuming everything Vaila was hearing from Katin was even true. Why was she entertaining such craziness?

    When she was honest with herself, she could admit hat something in her very core was telling her to. From the moment she woke up in such a fright that other morning, to first hearing abut Jedha and Scarif on the lift. Some gut instinct was telling her to not believe what her father, or any official Imperial stories were telling her about it.

    It was an instinct that she had never experienced before, but couldn't deny. "Can you introduce me to Barten? See if he knows anything more?"

    Katin's eyes darted from one side to the other in uncertainty. Maybe he was being pulled into something that he didn't want any part of, but he was Vaila's only lead to the possible truth. "Katin, please."

    He gave a long sigh. "Alright, but don't expect him to just open up to you. He doesn't talk about this stuff with just anybody."

    "Then it's a good thing you'll be there to vouch for me."

    He rolled his eyes. "What part of grounded did you not register. My folks aren't letting me out of my bedroom for anything other than school. I'm lucky I was able to sneak out tonight again, and they'll be home all day tomorrow."

    Vaila frowned, but then remembered how Katin's family, his father in particular, spoke her praises whenever their families met for a gathering or Imperial event. "Leave that to me."

    As soon as Vaila finished breakfast the following morning she announced that she was going out to meet with some friends, to the delight of her parents.

    "Kaila, I'm sure you can go along with your sister," their mother suggested.

    "I don't have anything to do today."

    But Vaila nearly jumped off her seat in panic. "No. That's okay. I'm fine going by myself."

    "What?" Her mother almost seemed hurt by this, as if she was the one being told she couldn't come. "But sweetheart, what if you need one of us with you for something?"

    Perhaps her mother worried that Vaila would have a meltdown of some kind, but Vaila didn't need that kind of monitoring; especially with why she was going out.

    She knew her sister, and if Kaila came along and heard whatever horrific image Katin's friend had to paint about the Empire's acts on Jedha and Scarif she would immediately tell their father about him, and this Barten would be arrested for speaking out against the Empire. Vaila would do the same thing, if it weren't for Misael's death. That was the only reason she was digging deeper into this beyond the official story the public was receiving.

    "I promise, I'll be okay." She gave her sister the most grateful smile she could manage to conjure. Then she went around the table, patting all four of their younger siblings on the head, and then kissing both her parents on the forehead. She couldn't get to the door fast enough, but still took her time not arouse suspicion.

    It shocked her how quickly she was coming to act so covertly with her own family. The guilt was hard, but not as bad the need to get to the truth about how the man she loved truly died. If it had been at the hands of his own superiors, then Vaila was on the verge of becoming disillusioned with everything that she was raised to believe in.

    After that .. . well, she would cross that bridge when she got to it.

    A few floors down she was at the Lerus' door, and Katin's father answered. His stern expression immediately dissolved into a warm smile when seeing that it was her.

    "Good morning Vaila. Nice to see you as always."

    "Thank you, Mister Lerus. Is Katin ready?"

    "Ready?"

    "For training? We have time signed off at a flight simulator. He told you we were preparing together for our academy tests, didn't he?"

    His reaction was at first confusion, then shock, and then irritation. "Katin! Vaila Mosney is here! You'd better be at the front door in the next minute!"

    Katin appeared as commanded in a haste. His confusion was evident, so Vaila shot him a look that said Go along with it.

    His father gave him a disapproving glare. "You didn't mention Vaila here was taking pity on you and helping you train."

    "I . . . forgot."

    Mr. Lerus scolded at him. "Since I know you'll be with her, I can be assured that you won't be goofing off. So you can go. But I better not hear that you disappeared on her. After all, Vaila is probably sacrificing precious time to help you - if that's even possible."

    His eyes narrowed down on Katin in a way that told Vaila he was giving his son a silent warning about how this reprieve was meant to go. Katin nodded and stepped out through the door. His father waved him off, but held his other hand up to Vaila. Katin took the hint and walked to the lifts.

    "I appreciate you trying to help my son, but I hope you don't hold it against yourself if nothing comes of it." He sighed. "Some people are just lost causes."

    With an approving nod the closed the door, and Vaila went to catch up with Katin.

    The complete lack of confidence Mr. Lerus clearly had in his son was sad. Although she understood that Katin was probably showing little potential in his late night antiques, to call your kid a lost cause. Was it mere disappointment, or absolute shame the Lerus family felt towards Katin for not sharing the same ambitions of service? Katin had claimed as much in the past, but Vaila always figured he was exaggerating. Now though, she wasn't sure.

    "He thanked you for trying to help straighten me out, right?" Katin guessed correctly.

    Rather than answer she pointed to a lift that had just opened.

    ----------

    Their taxi flight went by in complete silence. Katin thought to spring up some kind of small talk, from the weather to how that game went, but he would decide against it immediately. Considering what they were up to they were both to nervous for small talk.

    They were dropped off at the landing port of a large shopping district in the mid levels where thousands upon thousands of all species were moving in all directions, going about their day.

    "So where are we supposed to meet Barten?" Vaila asked, showing the tiniest bit of fright.

    "Outside of Drabi's Drink Shop." He gently tugged at her arm. "Come on, it's not far."

    Unsurprisingly, Vaila seemed a little unsettled with their location, which was the case for most in the capital who lived a privileged life. It was easy to figure she didn't come this far down in Coruscant that often. They were far enough down that their view of the sky was that of a somewhat far opening to a tunnel. The mid levels was where most of the working class folks lived. Ordinary citizens who weren't much involved in Imperial affairs. Not the kind of people she usually spent her time with.

    Katin, on the other hand, was coming to spend more and more of his time in these lower levels. For him it felt good to meld into the masses and just be one of the ordinary. No pressure to be extraordinary or successful. He could just be someone simple. Wandering these levels was how he met Barten a year back. They were both drawn to some street musicians and ended up talking for hours about a lot of the pre-Empire tunes that they both enjoyed.

    Eventually, Barten came to trust him enough share a lot of his negative views towards the Empire, and what little things he was able to dig up about the Imperial Starfleet's less than shady activities that were always either sugar coated for the public or completely buried.

    When they made it to Drabi's they sat down on one of the outside tables. A Twi'lek waitress came to take orders. Katin got his usual drink while Vaila took a little while to decide.

    "I've never been to one of these," she explained after the waitress went back inside with their orders.

    "You're more of a few top levels, fancy restaurant, type of gal," he remarked. Though he hadn't meant to say it as an insult she seemed to have taken it that way by the look of her frown.

    "Is that your way of calling me privileged? Because you would know all about that."

    "No, but clearly you don't spend a lot of time this far down in the capital."

    She looked around the area. Shops and restaurants of all sorts lined and stacked with so a traffic of people moving about. "No. You're right about that much."

    "I hope your new girlfriend can learn how to not look like an outsider around here, Lerus." As if out of thin air a tall human male was standing at their table. "She's just asking for pick pockets to make their move on her."

    "Barten?" Vaila asked.

    Waving his dark hair that went as far down as his shoulders, he nodded. He was wearing his usual light brown jacket that perfectly matched his skin color and his usual datapad hung from his belt.

    "She's not my girlfriend," Katin was quick to correct, holding in a laugh. Physical appeal aside, Mosney was way too high maintenance for his taste. "Just a friend who wants to know what you know. Like I told you earlier."

    Barten pulled a chair from the next table to sit with them. "Vaila Mosney. Seventeen, born on Coruscant. Daughter to Admiral Alaris Mosney and Lieutenant Elva Holse, both native of Chandrilla. Twin sister Kaila. Three younger sister: Asia, Kiera, and Oria, and one younger brother, Alaris Jr. Third in your class. On track for enrollment the Imperial Academy."

    Leave to Barten to be thorough about who he was meeting about sensitive matters. Katin expected as much, but the same couldn't be said for Vaila, who was wide-eyed.

    Barten gave her a self-satisfactory grin. "Yeah, I'm that good, and that was just what I found in the hour since Katin called about you. Give me a day and I'll have your family's life story down like a holo novel."

    Shaking off the shock, she got herself more comfortable on her chair before asking, "Do you know what happened on Jedha and Scarif?"

    "Straight to the point then. My question first." He leaned closer to her, clearly scanning every muscle for any twitch that might give away her secret intention. "What's your interest in them?"

    "My boyfriend was on Scarif."

    Barten looked over to Katin, who nodded in conformation, and he knew Vaila wasn't spitting some lie just to meet Barten. Not where Misael was concerned. One thing he and Vaila had ever had in common was him. Out of all the kids from the leading Imperial families on the capital Misael had been one of the few Katin could say was a good guy.

    Unlike with his family, or anybody in those circles really, Misael never judged or pushed him about dedicating his life to the service of the Empire. He even encouraged him to find his own way in life, even if it wasn't what his family wanted for him. In truth, Misael had felt like more of an older brother to him than Aeryn. Then when he left for his service Katin lost the only real friend he had among his Imperial-dedicated peers.

    Now that he was gone, Katin was just as interested in finding out what exactly happened to him on Scarif, just like Vaila.

    "Are you sure you want to hear this?"

    Both of them nodded. Barten looked around for any eavesdroppers, like he always did before sharing the secrets he knew. "The Empire has a new weapon that they're keeping quiet about. A new space station; bigger than anything this galaxy has ever seen. The size of a small moon in fact, and powerful enough to destroy entire planets."

    "Wait, what?" Katin asked in complete disbelief.

    "That's the chatter, and when I say destroy: I mean blowing them off the face of the star charts. Nothing left but space debris."

    Katin exchanged skeptic expressions with Vaila. Despite being open to any of Barten's crazy insights he still always knew not to take them as absolutely certain truths.

    "Obviously, this was something that took years for them to finish," Barten went on saying. "The whispers I'm hearing say they started on it back during the Clone Wars, actually. Even crazier. It was originally a project started by the Separatists leaders. Now it's ready and operational, and NiJedha was used as a test shot."

    "What about Scarif?" Vaila asked.

    Before he could say the waitress came back with their drinks. "Your usual, Barten?"

    He nodded. "Thanks, Nura."

    Once she was back inside, Barten continued, "Rebel forces attacked the base there, where Imperial archives were kept. Now this wasn't some hit and run flyby, like all the other times we've heard about on the news. An actual fleet attacked the base. Rebel spies even made it into the base and stole something."

    "What?" both of them asked.

    "Not entirely clear on that, but it was definitely something top secret that the high ups aren't happy about getting out there. Apparently the weapon was used to try and stop them from getting the intel off planet - not that it worked. One cold-hearted enough could see the reason for going that far, but still, taking out your own base and with your own people in it. Talk about sacrifices. Not that they amounted to anything."

    So if what Barten was saying was true the Empire took out one of its own bases, along with who knew how many of its own people, just to keep some sensitive information from being stolen. What could've possibly been so important? It wasn't as if some of its dirty laundry wasn't right out there for anyone to see. Bombardment of insurgent territories. Public arrests of people that included beat downs even when there was no resistance. Executions broadcasted throughout the galaxy. Entire species that were imprisoned and enslaved, like the Wookiees on Kashyyyk.

    "Something else I picked up last night in the chatter about the senator from Alderaan."

    "Princess Leia?" Katin said.

    "You know about her." Vaila seemed genuinely shocked that he knew something about an Imperial senator.

    "I come from a family of politicians. Also, she's one of the few good-looking people in the Senate."

    "Anyways, her ship was there on Scarif. She's been discovered to be a part of the Rebel Alliance, and has been arrested."

    "I haven't heard anything about that," Vaila said.

    "It's only a manner of time for it's-"

    A beeping came on in his datapad cut Barten off. He unclipped it from his belt to read something that made him drop his mouth wide open.

    "What is it?" Katin asked. "Did they just report on the Princess?"

    "No, it's not that. It's something else. Something bigger. Something scarier."

    "What?" Vaila asked with concern.

    Turning the datapad around so that they could see, Barten pressed on the screen for a video would play of some reporter. "Confirmation has come in from multiple Imperial officials that Emperor Sheev Palpatine has disbanded the Imperial Senate. All senators in office have been relieved of their duties and responsibilities. Control over all systems under Imperial rule now come directly under the Emperor's Regional Governors."

    Now both Katin and Vaila had their mouths wide open, the same as Barten. How in the world could this be happening? Even someone as uninterested in politics as Katin knew that to get rid of the Senate meant throwing the galaxy into instability. Regional Governors weren't elected officials. While the senators were elected by the citizens of the systems they represented the governors were all appointed by Palpatine himself. He's not giving the people any say over the who's leading them. He's deciding it all for himself. He really is power-mad.

    "I can't believe this is happening," Vaila said as if she had gotten the wind knocked out of her.

    "Well, believe it. Palpatine isn't keeping the illusion of democracy anymore," Barten proclaimed. "He's completely in charge now, and there's nobody in any position to question him about anything anymore."
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2021
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  5. FORCEBlLADE

    FORCEBlLADE Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Chapter Four

    "How is the government supposed to operate without a Senate?" Vaila asked from across the dinner table. "The Emperor can't honestly think he'll be able to maintain the entire galaxy on his own."

    Alaris almost laughed, but maintained a stern composure. "Of course not, Vai. That's why the Regional Governors were put in place long before now."

    "In truth, the Senate had been on life support for ages," Kaila commented next to her sister. "Maybe since the Clone Wars, in fact. I'm surprised it took the Emperor so long to dismiss them. I mean, what good has it really been all this time?"

    Such insight into the true mechanics of the galaxy from a seventeen year-old. It made him proud to see how much Kaila already understood about the Empire's inner workings. Now all they needed to do was paint a clearer picture for her sister.

    "But the Regional Governors weren't even elected for their positions," Vaila pointed out. "Some don't even come from the systems they're representing. I don't see everyone accepting this. The HoloNet's already showing a lot of negative reactions from people all over. Some are even accusing Palpatine of being mad with power."

    "The Emperor has been leading the galaxy for thirty-two years now," Elva proclaimed to their daughter, making sure to empathize on calling him Emperor instead of Palpatine, as if he were just some random citizen. "He's proven himself more than capable of managing galactic affairs long before any of you were born.. As for the nay-sayers: they're simply too caught up in their own petty issues to see the greater benefit of an Empire without a senate. No more endless debates or petty arguments to get in the way maintaining peace."

    Kaila nodded. "Exactly what Mom said. In fact, that's what's allowed these rebel terrorists to get so out of control. They showed their truest colors when they destroyed the Empire's outpost on Scarif. If the Emperor had been completely free to act without the restraints of the Senate before now, then that attack could've been prevented and Misael would be alive."

    As soon as she said his name Vaila's eyes immediately became watered. Her sister almost immediately realized she had taken it too far to make her point. "Vai, I'm sorry-"

    "It's fine, Kai." Vaila wiped her face dry and straightened back up on her seat. "I understand what you're saying, but I still don't think removing the Senate from the equation is going to solve all the Emperor's problems."

    "Our problems-" Alaris corrected, "-will be solved by the work and commitment of all the Empire's loyal men and women. As we speak the Emperor is already using his new freedom from the Senate to push the Empire's resources into routing out these terrorist cells and putting an end to this rebellion."

    Still, his eldest daughter's frown showed her to be unconvinced. "But how exactly? What's different about the Empire's progress in beating the Rebellion now than before today, when there was still a Senate?"

    As much he wanted to tell her Alaris knew better than to share such sensitive information about the Empire's new weapon with his family. In due time the Death Star's existence would be made public, and then Vaila would see why the Emperor would have no troubles maintaining order throughout the entire galaxy. Nobody would step out of line against the Empire's authority any longer.

    Probably reading his mind, his wife changed the subject for him. "Enough about politics. How has everyone's day been?"

    All the younger children took a turn talking about games they played with their friends or the adventure holo they watched. They were eating their deserts when Vaila then asked, "Has anyone heard about what happened on that moon, Jedha?"

    A chirp from his comlink gave Alaris the excuse to step out rather than have to try and steer Vaila to another subject. Of all the things for her to bring up. Once he was in the privacy of his office he answered. It was his aide, "Sir, reports have just come in from the Death Star that you need to see. I've already sent it to your console."

    He opened the report, which projected a head-sized holographic image on his desk of a planet that was then hit with a beam that completely incinerated it in a matter of seconds. "Which planet is this?"

    "Alderaan sir. Grand Moff Tarkin gave the order, with the Emperor's consent."

    "Well, how about that."

    In truth, some small part of him had doubted the battle station's full capabilities. All these years that he had been aware of its existence, the power it was meant to have never completely registered with him - until now.

    So Alderaan was gone. Erased from the galaxy, as if it had never even been there. Reports indicated that Bail Organa had been on the planet. So that was one problematic popular figure who they didn't have to worry about anymore. The report also went on to say that his captured daughter had given up the location of the Rebel base as being on Dantooine in an effort to prevent her planet's destruction. Pitiful. The House of Organa had sealed its fate - as well as that of its entire planet's - when they sided with the Rebel Alliance.

    The Empire now truly had the power to literally shape the galaxy as it saw fit. The Rebellion would soon fall to this weapon and they would no longer have any opposition. Order and stability would finally be achieved.

    Now all that was left was for those plans to be retrieved before they were seen by enemy eyes. How incompetent could Lord Vader be to let the princess sneak them off her ship in the hands of some droids of all things. The situation sounded like something out of a child's adventure holo. The latest report said the droids were aboard a YT Corellian freighter that slipped away from Imperial forces on Tatooine. Now who knew where they were.

    "Dad, what is that?"

    At the door of his office Vaila stood, eyes dead-fixed on the replaying image of Alderaan's destruction.

    ----------

    "A toast - to the end of a meaningless institute that never had a true effect on the galaxy." Katin's dad had a glass of freshly opened wine in his hand. "All hail the Empire!"

    "All hail the Empire!"

    The gathering in their apartment was of about three dozen people, all dressed in their finest. Katin had been ordered to shower and put on the dark blue suit that his mom had put out for him. He stood off to the side, with a glass of water in his hand, watching his brother talking with some of his academy friends, who were all dressed in their various imperial uniforms. They were the closest to his own age, which meant he had nobody there whom he could actually socialize with.

    Their guest of honor, of course, was his mom's boos: Regional Governor Aldis Slynt. A tall man with little hair left on the top of his head and a smile that Katin didn't trust. Barten had done some digging on the man's life, which had required going very deep down as the man had gone through great lengths t hide his dirty little secrets. Apparently the grand Slynt dynasty had a reputation back on Amara for delivering multiple generations of warlords, whose specialty was skinning their enemies alive and leaving them hanging over their fortresses as warnings to anyone who would rise up against them.

    Their savagery left Amara in near ruins. Not that you hear about it since it was located out in the Western Reaches. Plus, Slynt was just tied up with too many of the right people for this truth ever come out.

    "Katin. Katin, come over here."

    His father was waving him over to him and his mom - as well as to Governor Slynt. By the look in his father's eyes, he knew that this was no really a request so he walked over to them, but took his sweet time doing it.

    "Governor Slynt, I don't believe you've ever met our younger son, Katin," his mother said, putting her arm around him.

    "No. I'm sad to say I haven't. Which is strange, considering your older brother comes by our offices all the time."

    "Aeryn's always been the one who's trying to be a big boy."

    Despite gaining a laugh from all three adults, he received a warning glare form his father and a squeeze of the hand on his shoulder from his mom.

    "Your parents tell me you'll starting at the academy next term. If you're interested in getting a head start on inner workings of the political structure, we have a few internships coming up in my office."

    "That would be wonderful," Katin's dad said instantly. "Katin has been looking to see where he could start doing some grunt work. Have it out of the way by the time he's graduated at the academy."

    "Well, then, I'd be happy to help him out with that."

    So just like that, he was already being setup with a job he didn't want. First the Senate was dissolved, and now this. What else could this day possibly do to make his day even worse?

    A chirp from his comlink gave him an excuse to step away from the party and into an empty hallway. "Hello."

    "Katin . . ." It was Vaila, and she sounded like she was barely breathing. "I needed to talk to you. I didn't know who else I could call."

    "What's wrong. You don't sound good."

    "You were right. Barten was right." She was whimpering, maybe even crying. "The weapon is real. The Empire actually did it. They did it."

    "Did what?" As soon as he asked it, he was already able to find the answer before Vaila gave it to him. "They used the weapon again. This time on an entire planet. Alderaan is gone."
     
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  6. FORCEBlLADE

    FORCEBlLADE Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Chapter Five

    In the weeks that followed Alderaan's destruction more information was released about the circumstances regarding it, little-by-little. Not that Vaila needed to hear much of it, since she had already gotten the whole story from Barten.

    Official statements from the Emperor himself told that the planet was destroyed in response to the planet openly joining the Rebel Alliance and declaring war on the Empire. The means of which they were able to destroy the entire world were still being kept vague, but that was just another detail that Vaila already knew of. The problem was she couldn't share her inside knowledge with her family or friends without giving away how she knew.

    "Reports of another riot breakout in Level thirty-six-oh-two are just coming in," the newscaster said on the family's projector. "Several dozen Alderaan immigrants held a memorial that local police attempted to peacefully break up, but has now resulted nearly a dozen arrests."

    "Why do they keep doing this to themselves?" Kaila said next to Vaila. "I think they want to start these riots so they can lash out."

    "They're home world is gone," she reminded her. "They're grieving."

    "So that gives them a right to start trouble?"

    "No, but you can still understand what they must be going through. Can't you?"

    She sighed. "Of course I can. I'm not a droid."

    "Official statements from multiple high ranking officers in the Imperial Starfleet reveal that the Rebellion forces have abandoned their base of operation on the Yavin system. All resources are being exhausted to locating them and hopefully bring this conflict to a swift end."

    At the end of the arc couch their parents were cuddled together. Their father snorted. "Conflict? We might as well be calling it for what it truly is - a war."

    The twins, as well as all their younger siblings, who were playing a board game on the floor, looked over to him.

    "I don't mean to scare you kids, but I won't lie to you either. Things are starting to escalate with these Rebels with each passing day."

    "I read a news report earlier about the royal family of the Granite system blowing up the Imperial outpost on their planet," Kaila told them with utter disgust. "They then broadcasted a public declaration of allegiance to the Alliance, in the name of Alderaan."

    "They had long-standing friendship with the House of Organa," Vaila pointed out. "Either they were already with the Rebels, or Bail Organa's death, along with his entire planet, turned them against us."

    "Traitors either way," her mother declared.

    "The Empire's enemies seems to have doubled overnight after Alderaan. Don't you think that tells us something?"

    Her question hung there in the air of the sitting room for a minute. When no one thought to throw out an answer, Vaila gave it herself. "Destroying Alderaan was a big mistake. Building that station was a mistake. All it did was paint a monstrous picture of the Empire in so many people's eyes that they now see the Rebellion as a just cause."

    "Anyone who sees the Rebellion as just cause is a deluded fool," her father corrected/ "They represent nothing but disorder and anarchy."

    "But Alderaan-"

    "Was meant to serve a recognition to the Empire's true power." Her mother said, with a bit of warning tone. "If those Rebel terrorists had any sense they would've surrendered as soon as Alderaan had been destroyed. Now they're only prolonging they're inevitable defeat."

    "But how can we justify genocide?"

    This last question received a warning look from her twin sister to let this go, but she couldn't. "How can we justify the deaths of millions of innocents for the betrayal of a few people from their planet?

    "Because maniacs like these Rebels needed to see what might we truly possessed," her father declared. "Some only respond to clear brutality. As tragic as the deaths of so many civilians is, they did served a greater purpose. To ultimately end a war that can cost billions upon billions of others from many other worlds their lives as well."

    This little speech of patriotism earned him a little cheer from all four youngsters on the floor, a nod of approval from his wife, and a smile from Kaila.

    And it was because of all this that for the first time in her life, as far as she could remember, Vaila felt completely out of place in her own home. With her own family.

    On paper, her father's reasoning made sense. In a galactic-wide conflict like this the Empire needed to think about the masses. Sacrificing the few to save the many was an understandable train of thought - but then Vaila thought about those few people who did get pushed aside. She thought about the people of Alderaan, children who perished screaming in terror as that superweapon fired down on them. The image of the world's final moments in the that hologram recording she saw in her father's office still haunted her sleep.

    How could anyone justify this kind of sacrifice to those who were the ones being sacrificed against their wills. If a soldier gave his life in service, that was one thing. It was a choice they each made for themselves when joining, but ending the lives of innocent bystanders, and doing it as show a force. It wasn't just for the eyes of anyone associated with the Rebellion. It was for anyone who even had any kind of negative opinion about the Empire.

    We're a dictatorship. We're destroying worlds and calling it patriotism.

    Here her family was, sitting together, laughing and cheering about the justification for mass genocide. Her parents, all of her sisters and brother; not a single one of them thought that their leaders were taking things too far. They were completely behind the Empire, and whatever moral lines they needed to cross to destroy their enemies.
    In that moment, Vaila didn't recognize any of them. She even wondered if she ever actually knew them.

    ----------

    It was starting to get late, but Katin was in no rush to get home, even if his family wasn't even there. Ever since Alderaan's destruction, which was quickly followed by the destruction of the Empire's battle station, along with so many Imperial personnel, things were a bit crazy for anyone who was in service.

    According to what Barten was hearing, the Rebel Alliance was on the move once more and there wasn't a single obscure moon in the galaxy that wasn't being searched for them. So Katin imagined his brother was being worked to the bone to listen for any whispers about any Rebel presence somewhere. Also his mother was currently off planet overseeing some legal matter at her Governor Slynt's system. Word was that the transfer of power from the Senate to the governors wasn't going as smoothly as predicted. Barten figured the battle station had been meant to institute an order by fear, but since the Rebellion had destroyed it things were a bit out of control.

    It was pretty obvious for anyone who paid attention that people were rattled in the two months since Alderaan. Multiple memorials and tributes had been organized, only for local police and stormtroopers to break them off on the grounds of disrupting the peace. Standing on the side of the walkway, Katin passed an elder man who was displaying a large holographic image of Alderaan. Candles and various flowers were laid around it.

    He waked over and asked him, "Were you from there?"

    The man nodded somberly. "Brother and his family; his children and grandchildren. They're all gone."

    Reports were that there had been somewhere around tens of thousands of Alderaan natives who were off planet when the Empire destroyed it. Some were actually being rounded up for questioning on suspicion of ties to the Rebellion. As if their lives hadn't been literally blown to pieces already. Katin gave the elderly man a sign with his hands that he had recently learned to be a prayer sign from his planet. A meaningless gesture, but it was all Katin could offer the old man.

    "Thank you."

    "Hey, shut that hologram down."

    From behind Katin a trio of stormtroopers approached, blasters in hand. "There's no place for this here."

    "It's a tribute to his planet," Katin reasoned. "His entire family is gone. Show some compassion."

    The leader jerked his head and took two steps closer him. Katin could almost see the man's eyes trough the black visor. They looked angry. "Don't meddle in things you don't understand, kid. Alderaan was a planet of traitors. This old man is lucky we haven't taken him in. Now run along home, before you get yourself into trouble."

    The stormtrooper looked back over to the old man. "I better not see you when we come back through here later." He shot Katin one final warning glance before leading his men down the walkway and into a nearby entrance to a cantina that Katin knew to be a popular hang out for off duty imperials officers of all ranks. Though it wasn't exclusive only to them few civilians dared to set foot in there.

    "Thank you for the defending me." The old man picked up a rather large bag from the floor. "It might not seem to matter at all, but it did to me."

    He gave the man a smile. "Would you like me to walk you. I can carry your ba-"

    "No!" The shout of rejection surprised him. "I mean - I'll be fine. Thank you."

    With a nod, the old man started down the walkway, leaving behind the small memorial, including the hologram. Maybe as a small act of defiance against those stormtroopers who had made him leave. Katin watched him go, but instead of turning at the corner he stepped inside the same cantina as the those stormtroopers. Was he going to give them a piece of his mind? Should Katin go after him? Maybe talk him out of what would probably result his arrest?

    Instead Katin just remained at the old man's memorial. The image of Alderaan still alive. He put his hand through it, disappointed that it couldn't somehow have been the real thing. All Alderaan would ever be now was a memory. A memory the Empire was already in the midst of tainting with stories of terrorist affiliations and necessary sacrificial lamb. That pour man was probably telling those officer in-

    A sudden burst of light and wind threw him off his feet down, then onto the pavement where he slid across down the walkway. His ears were now throbbing with a ring, as if there was a bell in his head that was going off. He sat himself up to see that where the cantina stood there was now a crumbled pile of permacrete, durasteel and fire. Half the wall was completely blown off, with debris now scattered all across the walkway.

    People close enough like him were also on the floor, but only a few of them. Others in the distance were already running away, screaming in terror. Alarms were sounding from somewhere. Emergency forces would be arriving soon. Was anyone in there still alive? How many were inside when it happened?

    Those stormtroopers from a few minutes ago, and that old an-

    -with his bag that he wouldn't let Katin touch. It had been him. There was no doubting it. There had been a bomb of some kind in that bag. A powerful one by the looks of it of what was left of the cantina. That man had lost everyone and everything that mattered to him to Empire. So he decided he was going to take something from them.

    No question about it. The galaxy was in chaos. War was being declared everywhere. Sides were being chosen. Lines were being drawn. Including in the capitol.

    ----------

    Vaila didn't even bother knocking on Katin's bedroom door. Instead she stepped inside, unannounced, and walked over to him over at his wall-length window where he was standing. "I saw the news about what happened at that cantina." He was about to say something, but was silenced by her tackling embrace. "I almost passed out when I saw you on the holo."

    "Yeah, I almost passed out, too. Only it was from the explosion." He sounded like he was trying to make a joke out of it, but fell short in his attempt.

    When Vaila finally broke her hold on him, she gave him an examination, from top-to-bottom. He was no longer in the ahs-filed clothes that she saw him wearing in the news footage, and his combed wet hair told her that he had just taken a shower. "You weren't hurt, at all?"

    "Just a little smoke inhalation. The same can't be said for all the people inside the cantina."

    "They're saying it was an Alderaan native."

    He nodded, holding back tears. "He was an old man. I talked to him just before he went in. His whole family was on the planet when it was blown."

    "And so his answer to that loss is blowing up a cantina full of people." As terrible as she felt for all surviving Alderaanians she wasn't going to condone an act of terror like this. Reports said of the number of bodies being dig out of the rubble to now be in the forties. What good did it do continue the blood shed? What had that man hoped to accomplish?

    "He had nothing to live for," Katin went on to say. "So I guess he figured he might as well take however many Imperials with him. I can actually understand it."

    Vaila was almost afraid to ask, but she summoned the courage to. "Are you saying what he did was okay?"

    "Anymore okay than Alderaan? No. But can we really say the Empire is innocent in all of this? They destroy your home planet, with everyone you love there, and they actually expect you to be okay with it. Heck, they actually expect you to applaud it."

    It was true. Evidence to that was in Vaila's own home. The way her parents talked about Empire's necessary actions against their enemies was getting harder and harder to hear. What made it even more revolting was how much all her other siblings supported those ideas.

    In truth, she no longer felt safe in her own home, anymore. With her own family. She was expected to believe in these hideous points of view, but already her small expressions of difference in opinion were causing some friction between her and the rest of them. Mainly her parents.

    It wasn't long after Alderaan's destruction that news also reached the capitol about the deaths of numerous high ranking Imperials, including Grand Moff Tarkin; as well as millions of military personal aboard a newly completely battle station. Her father called for a minute of silence when they found out about this. In that minute, Vaila instead found herself praying in gratitude that the Empire's horrible new super weapon had been destroyed by the Alliance.

    While her parents expressed their loss of sleep over the threat of the Rebel terrorists, she on the other hand felt much relief that they weren't living in a galaxy where the threat of a planet-destroying weapon loomed over everyone. No matter what radicals threatened the Empire, mass genocide could never be the answer. Vaila even began to wonder if this was why the Rebel Alliance came to be in the first place. Maybe they weren't the terrorists that the Empire kept making them out to be. Maybe they were just people fighting back against a regime that was too willing to cross such crucial moral lines in order to remain in power.

    And soon, Vaila would be part of that regime. In just a few months she would be starting at the academy, and a few short years later, a part of the Imperial military. Once upon a time that had been her life's dream. Now it was a dreaded nightmare.

    "So what do we do if we don't want to applaud?" she asked in a whisper.

    Katin looked out the window, up into the early morning sky. "Run for our lives."
     
  7. EGKenobi

    EGKenobi Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Apr 27, 2005
    This is a superb story. Loving every second of it. You've made the events so vivid. Please let me know when you update this :)

    EG
     
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  8. FORCEBlLADE

    FORCEBlLADE Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Chapter Six

    "Look out there." Vaila pointed behind Katin. So he turned around to look outside, at a building that their train was circling. On the exterior wall, covering maybe a good twenty floors, was a red-painted symbol that he recognized as belonging to the Rebel Alliance.

    The sight caused a bit of commotion in their cart as everyone aboard took notice.

    "Why the nerve of some people?"

    "Rebel sympathizers; right in our capitol."

    "They should be hanged as soon as they're caught."

    "Who would dare defile a building at the heart of Empire like this?"

    Despite all the negative remarks, Katin also took notice of all the silent viewers who just looked at the symbol, and maybe huddled down a bit. He even caught a grin or two. Quiet supports of the small expression of defiance. Both he and Vaila exchanged quick smiles themselves before dropping their faces to the floor.

    Tensions were high in the capitol, from the highest levels, down to the lowest floors of the city planet. In the months since Alderaan's destruction, and the Empire's open war with the Rebellion, one incident after another occurred in an act of defiance against Palpatine. Only a few days after the cantina bombing a squad of half a dozen stormtroopers were cornered in an alleyway in the mid levels, and they were all gunned down by unknown assailants. Sometime after that a speeder went soaring right into the office of a Regional Governor, who survived; though the same couldn't be said for six others, including the unidentified driver. Then there was the sit in of a few hundred people right outside the Emperor's palace that eventually ended when Imperial troops gassed them, causing a mass panic that left several dozen of the protestors dead.

    Despite the media's attempt to paint the supposed peaceful sit in as an act of violence against the palace with many of the protestors armed, whispers went around that not a single person at that sit in had so much as a knife on them.

    "How was anybody able to graffiti that building without getting caught?" Vaila asked. "Did they use a droid?"

    "Maybe. They're bold, though. Taking such a huge risk of getting caught to make such a public statement."

    "And what statement is that, young man?" The question came from a woman sitting right behind him. Her glare clearly said she didn't approve of hs admiration for the painter, or painters. "That the Empire should step aside to let these terrorists take over?"

    "This is a private conversation, lady," he snorted, but Vaila squeezed his should warming him to watch what he said. "Why don't you mind your own business."

    The woman went from a glare to a red hot death-stare, but it was the man sitting next to her who stood up in a rage. "Why don't you show some respect to a grown up who's trying to pass on some good wisdom to you, you brat."

    This man was a whole head taller than him, and a lot more well-built, but Katin still stepped towards him tipping his head up to meet his equally red-raging eyes.

    "Katin, don't," Vaila pleaded, but he ignored her.

    "And what wisdom might that be?"

    "That these scum all need to be routed out, and put down before bringing harm to the Empire!" He proclaimed it loud enough for it to spread through the whole cart, receiving some applause in response.

    "Well, if I had to think about it, I guess the Empire is already bringing plenty of harm to itself. Blowing up one of its own planets. Talk about making a statement there, huh?"

    There was a small echo of approval from other passengers that didn't mirror the cheers of Imperial support, but only because all the other Rebel sympathizers in the cart had more sense than Katin did to not openly express their disapproval of the Empire.

    "The Rebels brought that on Alderaan. If someone moves against you, then you show them exactly what you're capable of."

    "For all the good it did, buddy. In case you haven't noticed, we're at war. From the Outer Rim worlds to the very heart of the Empire. The sad truth is Palpatine hasn't been doing things right, and a lot of people are fed up with it."

    The man smiled, but not a joyful smile; this was instead a maddening smile that was keeping a boiling rage right behind it. "You're right. He has been doing things wrong: he's been too soft. Questioners and criticizers need tp me crushed at first sight."

    Katin returned the smile, though probably not meeting the same level of hostility as him. "So far, I only see all bark, and no bite."

    That was all the man needed for permission to take him by the arms, spin him around and pin Katin into the window. The force of his push was strong that he feared for a moment that the glass would shatter and he would fall out. Boy did he do it now.

    "Hey, leave him alone!" Vaila made a grab for the man's arm, only to be shove back onto the people sitting behind her.

    Now this guy had done it. Katin grabbed him by the neck and with his other hand sent a fist right into his over-large nose. The punch did nothing to move him from his spot, but succeeded in making his entire face go red like a giant star. He raised an arm and pulled it back to return the favor - only to be tackled by another man who jumped out of nowhere, freeing Katin from his hold.

    Two other folks immediately jumped in to pull his savior out of his attacker, only to be pulled away themselves by two other men who decided get involved as well. It was only a matter of seconds before half the people aboard the cart jumped into the fight, and it became a free-for-all. Fists, feet, knees, elbows, and heads were all being used as weapons. People screamed in fright or resistance, calling for people to stop and see reason, but none of the fighters were listening.

    As soon as Katin recovered from the shock of having started a full-blown riot all he could focus on was Vaila, and make sure that she didn't get hurt in this chaos. Or worse. That possibility made him regret ever opening his stupid mouth while they were in this train. He spotted her just a few steps away, trying to stand up from the row of people that she had been thrown on top of, but al the fighters left little room for maneuvering in the cart now.

    As soon he made a move towards her, he was tripped by a pair of men rolling across the floor. As he tried to get up, he was pinned back down to floor by a man who was ready to start painting the floor with his face, and with his already bruising knuckled as the brush. Only he didn't get the chance to start before a boot came crashing into the side of his head. The boot belonged to Vaila, who then took Katin by the arm to pull him up.

    "Come on. Let's get out of here."

    The cart came to a stop at a platform, and so they made for the nearest opening door. Others also fought their way through the melees, scaling the benches, jumping over people, or just pushing their way through folks. Vaila and Katin were two of the first to make it out of the cart. They looked back inside to see most of the fighters not even notice that the train had stopped. Then Vaila drew his attention to the distance where platform security were already rushing towards their cart.

    Without needing to be told, he followed her away from the train and out of the platform in quick haste. They didn't stop running until they were at the corner of a walkway, and the platform was no longer in their view.

    "Remind me . . . to try and not be . . . daring enough challenge a guy . . .huge, again," he said in between heaving breaths.

    "Daring, or stupid?"

    "You're right. Stupid is a better definition."

    "I can't believe so many people lost it that quick," Vaila said once she got her breathing back to normal and stood up straight. "You were right when you said things are getting out of control here. There's not a planet in the entire galaxy that isn't splitting into sides."

    "So which side are we on?"

    She thought about it for a minute. "It doesn't feel like we're with the Empire, but are we really going to say we're with the rebels?"

    Now Katin took a minute to think it over. "Are we siding with suicide bombers and stormtrooper killers? That doesn't sound appealing either."

    "So what are our other options?"

    "I don't know." From the direction they came stormtroopers were marching their way. Looking for people who fled the scene of a train riot maybe? It was probably better they didn't stay to find out. "Let's go"

    They wandered the neighborhood until they were able to hail a taxi that took them the rest of the way home. In that time neither said a word. If he had to guess, both of them were questioning where their allegiances should be. Definitely not with the Empire. But that didn't mean it should be with the Rebel Alliance, either. Not if they had anything to do with the senseless bombings and attacks that did nothing but hurt innocent lives as well. So where did that leave them? Who could the two of them trust right now, other than each other?

    ----------

    "Multiple witnesses reported that the instigators of the train riot fled the scene before authorities arrived."

    Alaris shut off the console on his desk and leaned into his chair. On its own, this train riot that broke out earlier in the day would seem like nothing, but this was only the latest in a long line of small incidents that the capital was enduring since war had been declared with the Alliance. Despite the best efforts of local police and military personnel, rooting and disobedience continued to break out in Coruscant.

    Even with the effort of the Regional Governors, stability seemed to be continuing to pull from them. Too many were refusing to recognize their authority after the disbandment of the Imperial Senate. If only the Death Star had not been destroyed by some lucky pilot's shot. He had watched the footage that had been transmitted from the battle station in its final moments. To think one single starfighter, with the last-second help from a beat-up freighter, was able to fire a shot into a vent that led directly to the main reactor. What foolish designer made such a critical error in the station's construction.

    Of course, there were reports that the late Galem Erso, one of the lead designers, had in fact deliberately put that weakness into the Death Star for the Rebels to take advantage of. If that was indeed the case, then it was fortunate for Erso that he was already dead.

    With the Death Star's destruction, the Empire's initial means of controlling the systems was gone - for at least a few years anyways. Without the threat of obliterating any planet that didn't fall in line, more and more people were turning against the Empire's authority. Acts of resistance were occurring all over Imperial territory. Some entire worlds were now even openly turning against them.

    Though the Rebel Alliance was growing in force as time went on, they were still nowhere near the Empire's might. So that still gave them the chance to squash before they became too powerful.

    Right now, he needed to put his focus on smoking all Rebel sympathizers who were sneaking around in his own backyard.

    "Dad, can we talk?" Vaila was standing at the door of his office. He smiled, happy to forget about Imperial troubles for a minute. In truth, he hadn't been seeing much of his eldest daughter in last few months.

    "What's going on, sweetheart?"

    She took a seat from across him. "It's about the Academy."

    Her term was starting just a week. In the time since her acceptance she had been training vigorously, with that Lerus boy from a few floors down. It surprised him a little, since in all the years that they've known that family, the younger son seemed like a lost cause for Imperial service. Which made it all the more surprising when he gained acceptance into the academy as well - though just barely.

    "You're nervous, aren't you?"

    His daughter shrugged. "That's one way of putting it."

    "You'll do wonderful. You're skilled, prepared, and most of, committed." Vaila was still not convinced. "I have complete and absolute faith that you'll make the this family proud. As well as the Empire/"

    "What about the war? I don't see it ending anytime soon."

    "Whatever you have to face in service, when the time comes, you'll be ready. No Rebel scum will stand a chance against my daughter."

    Vaila stood and went around the desk. He stood up to accept her embrace. "I love you, Dad."

    "I love you, too."

    Somewhere in the back of his mind, Alaris felt Vaila wasn't sharing everything that she wanted to say, but he pushed it aside and just enjoyed their embrace.

    ----------

    When the day came to leave for the academy dorms, Vaila sat alone in her room for a good long while. Kaila had left early to meet up with some friends who were also starting at the academy, and even though the entire family wanted to go with her, she insisted on taking a taxi by herself. She checked the time on her chrono, seeing that she had stalled long enough.

    Her family walked her to the door, and she took turns giving all of her sisters and brother a long and warm hug. Then she embraced her mother, who had some difficulty letting her go. "You'll see her again, soon, Elva," her father reminded her. She finally released Vaila, but only so he could pull her into his own arms. She allowed their hug to last the longest.

    Finally she pulled away and waved goodbye, offering a wide and bright smile before stepping out the door.

    The taxi was waiting for her at the docking bay. She threw her single, large bag in and then sat down, finally allowing herself to relax.

    "Where to?" the driver asked.

    "Polium Spaceport."

    During the entire flight there, Vaila thought about what would happen once her family realized that she never made it to the academy. She imagined both Kaila and Katin waiting for her. Soon enough, Katin would know what she had done. Vaila had arranged for him to get message from her explaining that she had ran away. Where she was going? She couldn't say. Her only goal was to get as far away from the Imperial territory as possible. After that, she would figure out her next move.

    She had put enough credits to last her a while by selling her rare Mandalorian figurine to collector that Barten got her in touch with. Also, after some extensive research, Polium Spaceport was the best place where she was likely to find a pilot willing to sneak her out of he capital, no questions asked.

    Leaving everything she knew behind was the hardest decision that she ever had to make, but if she had stayed and joined the academy, Vaila knew what would become of her. Ultimately, loyalty to her family would win out, and she would serve a regime that she didn't believe in. So instead she would disappear, to find a whole new life for herself somewhere.

    "Goodbye, Coruscant," she whispered. "Goodbye, Mom, Dad, family. Goodbye, Katin."
     
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  9. FORCEBlLADE

    FORCEBlLADE Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Chapter Seven

    "I'm sorry, Admiral, the lead to Kuat turned out to be another dead end,"

    The hologram on his desk was of an Imperial agent who had followed up on a supposed sighting of Vaila. As soon as he delivered this disappointing news, Alaris wished to be able to reach out to his actual head, rather than just the hologram, and tear it off. But instead only nodded and cut the connection.

    Four months had now passed since his eldest daughter had left their family's apartment, and vanish without a trace. As soon Kaila commed them to see why her sister hadn't arrived at the academy, an alert went off in Alaris' mind, telling him that something was wrong.

    Now, after multiple investigations, calling in favors from Imperial Intelligence, and even hiring a bounty hunter, Vaila's whereabouts were still unknown.

    Where are you? Who has you?

    Investigators questioned whether she was either kidnapped, or had disappeared by her own choice, but he wasn't interested in even considering that. Vaila had no reason to leave her life in the capital behind. She had a promising future in the Imperial service. Everything to look forward to. The only explanation - also being the most horrific one - was that someone had abducted his daughter. Whether it was some sick degenerate wanting to have his way with a pretty girl, or some rebel cell that abducted the daughter of an admiral as some sort of strategy, he wished them nothing but eternal pain and misery.

    His resolve that continued to drive him to continue looking refused to consider the possibility that Vaila was now gone. He knew his daughter, and if anyone could survive whatever hell she was being put through, it was her.

    Looking outside at the round-the-clock traffic lanes, he caught a bit of his reflection in the window and saw how sunken his eyes were and that he looked to have aged a whole ten years in the last few weeks. He was exhausted. Sleep had been a shot-lived luxury for years, but now it was nearly nonexistent. Knowing there was nothing more he could do tonight, he convinced himself to retire and join Elva in their bedroom.

    She practically jumped up to from their bed when he came in. "Anything from Kuat?"

    He hated disappointing her, but even if he lied she would know. His wife was the only person to always see past his lies, big or small. "It was another false sighting, honey. I'm sorry."

    Her already reddened eyes produced a few more tears. "If she had been kidnapped, why haven't we received any ransom demands, Alaris? Why else would anyone take her if not to get something from us?"

    He could remind her the multitude of reason someone would take a beautiful young woman, but decided against it. Elva's inability or unwillingness to see those possibilities protected her from having far worse nightmares than the ones already taunting her.

    After changing into his night clothes, he tucked in himself into bed and brought her into his arms, holding her tight. She drifted into sleep a lot sooner than he did. His thoughts were plagued with the continued acts of violence and vandalism against Imperial servicemen and locations, and the possibility that anyone of the people responsible for them could also be responsible for his daughter's abduction.

    I'll hunt you all down and hang you myself.

    ----------

    "We're all clear." Katin's roommate, Dalvin, gave a thumb's up and put the cylinder device in his hand down on the desk.

    All six cadets in the dorm room finally allowed themselves the freedom to breathe. No one was confident to let their guard down without knowing with absolute certainty that they weren't being listened to from some kind of hidden bug in the room, and considering they were in an Imperial Academy, at the heart of the Empire, during a war, as well as the fact that they were all acting against the regime they were being trained to serve, it was absolutely necessary to be cautious.

    The device Dalvin had rigged up would send both an audio and visual recording to any bugs hidden within the room. Since their training left them with little free time and opportunities to be away from the academy, every measure needed to be taken when meeting within these walls, so that as far as anyone on the outside knew, this was just a little get-together between some friends after a long day's training.

    It had started with Katin and Dalvin, whom after a dozen carefully worded and phrased conversations, came to the realization that they shared the same low opinions of the Empire, despite their enrollment at the academy. In the following weeks, they routed out the others among the hundreds of cadets.

    "Okay, any reports?" Katin asked.

    "I had an interesting talk with Instructor Monik," Jal said from the floor. "He told me, after a few glasses of ale, that his friends in Intelligence are closing in on a Rebel cell in Level twenty-two-thirty-three, in the Orange District."

    Orange District was heavy with resistance against Imperial control. In the last month, five different riots broke out when troops patrolled through by the dozens. Whatever form of a cell that was present there, it seemed pretty well organized, because so far no suspects had been brought in.

    "Also, patrols are about be doubled in the Senate District," another cadet, Mokley, revealed. "I talked to some of the cadets about to graduate. They've already been informed that their whole class is being assigned right here in the capital."

    It made sense; ever since the war had started military presence on Coruscant had multiplied to heavy numbers. An entire fleet was surrounding the planet. Travelling was to and from was restricted to almost nearly to only people in the service. It was a miracle Vaila had managed to sneak passed-

    -stay focused on the now, Katin.

    "What else?"

    At first, no one else spoke, but then Aysa, the only girl in the gathering, raised a hand. "I heard from my brother aboard the Mynock."

    Aysa's brother - who was loyal to the Empire - was in fact the source of some of their best intel. He was an officer aboard one of the Star Destroyers in orbit over them. Though he knew not share any sensitive information with her, he did tell her little things that proved to be of value. She tried to hide it, but Katin knew it was hard for her to be using a member of her family like this. It wasn't easy for any of them, all of whom had family and friends who were loyal to the Empire; even Katin found it difficult, despite his less than wholesome relationship with his family.

    "He heard from his captain that all top First Year cadets will be taken aboard the Star Destroyers in the fleet for some hands-on instructions, at the end of the term."

    Well, that was something. To be allowed aboard an actual Star Destroyer before even graduating was new for them. He supposed, with war intensifying, stronger forms of training were being used to produce better soldiers in a time when its needed.

    "So, what does this mean for us?" Hasi pondered. "If we were actual Rebel operatives, to be aboard even just a few of these ships, covertly, would be an opportunity."

    "Yeah, but for what?" Dalvin asked. "What could we do?"

    "Sabotage," Mik suggested. "Granted it would only be a few of the ships, out of the entire fleet, to lay some damage on them from inside would send a huge message to both the Empire and the Rebellion."

    "What message?" Katin asked.

    "That the Empire isn't invincible - not even in the heart of its dominance."

    What Mik said sounded inspiring, to be sure, but could they pull it off. They still had a few months before the end of term, so that gave them time to plan. To think that they might actually be on the course taking action now, instead of just relaying whatever small bits of information they could gather from the inside to Barten, that he in turn passed along to Rebel cells whom he was in contact with.

    It was a bold suggestion he made the night before Katin started at the academy. One he hesitated to pull the trigger in, until receiving Vaila's letter a week later from a delivery droid in the guise of a care package from his mom. In the letter, she explained her reasons for running away, and why she didn't tell him ahead of time. If her family, and investigators, came asking about her she wanted him to be able to say he was as shocked as anyone that she was gone.

    In truth, Katin admired her for being able to walk away from everything that she didn't believe in. Unlike him. Not that it didn't hurt to not see her around anymore. He had gotten used to having Vaila in his life, everyday. Even after all these months, he still woke up some morning with the instinct to comm her.

    "Okay them." Dalvin rubbed his hands together. "If we're taking on this sabotage mission, then it's never too early to start planning. Who's got ideas?"

    He pushed Vaila out of his thoughts, for now. She was on her own path, now. So he needed to continue on his own.
     
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  10. FORCEBlLADE

    FORCEBlLADE Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Chapter Eight

    "I swear, sometimes I wonder if these people just don't put as much effort into their cyber upgrades as they do on their weapons production. Or maybe I'm just that good."

    Barten was all smiles today. Not only had he gotten lucky with the Twi'lek waitress from the Juice bar last night, but he had also just sliced into the security feeds in Papatine's Palace right here on Coruscant. It had taken a few good weeks to break through all the digital protection of what was probably the most secured building in the entire galaxy, but in the end it turned out to be a lot easier than he anticipated.

    Of course, he did stop to wonder if maybe it was easy enough because Barten was being led into a trap, and within minutes Imperial troops would come charging into his home and drag away to his eventual end. But he shook the possibility away. in any case, he was already too far into the gundark nest.

    The multiple consoles he had on his desk began displaying the views of cameras in different places in the palace. One of a long hallway that the palace's main doors lead open to. Another to a courtyard outside where there was a garden. A third shows a hangar bay with multiple ships parked inside. Then there was the last one that showed a library grander than any he had ever seen before.

    If Palpatine's palace had, in fact, once been the temple to the extinct Jedi Order, then it made sense that this place held some of the most biggest archives in the galaxy. From what he had been able to dig up, the former Jedi Temple had been attacked at the very end of the Clone Wars by the clone army's 501st legion right after a couple of Jedi Masters had attempted to remove the then Chancellor Palpatine from office, by force. The result of this attempted coup ended being the complete and utter massacre of all Jedi within that temple.

    Barten had found old news reports of eyewitness accounts of the temple siege from afar. One old recording even showed a long trail of smoking coming the complex.

    In the near twenty years since the Empire had gone to such great efforts to remove any trace of the Jedi having ever set foot on Coruscant that many, who either hadn't been born or were too young at the time didn't know that Palpatine's now grand palace once housed these supposed traitors of the Old Republic. But Barten wasn't so sure about this image that the Empire had painted of them as religious nuts who started a war that engulfed the entire galaxy for three years. History could never be completely trusted to be accurate, as it was always written by the victors, good or bad.

    That was why Barten put endless time into cut through all the propaganda and polluted tales of Palpatine's heroic acts and the Empire's regime of peace and order to learn the truth of what brought the galaxy into a generation that was being ruled by fear and coldness.

    So now here he was, staring into the very heart of the Empire's dominance. He had poked a hole into the core Palpatine's inner workings and he was going to take whatever advantage it now gave him.

    "Let's see what goes on behind closed doors, my beloved Emperor."

    ----------

    "Katin, do you have a minute?"

    It was kaila calling out to him from down the hallway. For a moment, as she sprinted towards him, he allowed himself to believe he was seeing Vaila again. But then the moment passed, and he reminded himself that it wasn't her. He forced a smile on himself. "What's up?"

    "I wanted to know if you were coming to my family's, tonight." He noted a hopefulness in her tone that made him feel uneasy. "Your parents already said they're coming, but they weren't sure you would."

    "Uhh, I don't know. I'm kind of beat. I was thinking I might call it an early night."

    Her face dropped in obvious disappointment. "Come on. It's Empire Day. If there's one day out of the year to let loose."

    For Katin, that one day wouldn't be the anniversary of the foundation of an Empire that he didn't believe in. Not that he would tell this to her. He had gotten to know Vaila's twin sister a little bit since starting at the academy together, and though she had a lot of pleasant qualities, it was clear that her loyalty was, without question, with the Empire. Just like the rest of Vaila's family.

    That didn't mean he couldn't still be a little bit truthful, though. "If I'm being honest, these fancy parties, with Imperial officers and politicians, are a complete bore for me."

    "Why do you think I'm begging you to come." She grinned a bit mischievously. "I'm not going to survive on my own without some backup."

    He offered a long sigh, taking the time to think it through. Kaila started jittering up and down, and mouthed a please. To his own surprise, he ended up saying, "Okay, I'll come."

    She jumped in joy and hugged him a little more fiercely than one would expect just for accepting a party invitation.

    "I'll see you tonight," she said once breaking the hug.

    "You owe me," he said playfully as she skipped away.

    Later that night he arrived at the Mosney apartment, dressed in his cadet uniform, which was a preferred alternative to the fancy suits or robes that his mother used to always make him wear for all of the formal gatherings, and there were many over the years.

    The place was already packed with officers of various ranks, as well as political figures from numerous worlds. His parents spotted him within a minute and called him over to where they were huddled with a few people including Governor Slynt. Katin did his best to hold a nice smile and not be slouching. Unfortunately, some of that military training was having some bit of an effect on his manners and habits.

    "Well, well, well, look who's presenting themselves as a well-trained cadet," Governor Slynt remarked, grinning. "You're quite the improvement form the last time that I saw you, young Lerus."

    The way he said improvement made Katin's skin crawl.

    "He's coming along well at the academy," his mother said with genuine pride. "Passing marks on all classes."

    "He still has a long way to go to catch up his brother's marks though," his dad added - though more as a warning rather than an observation.

    "Oh, I don't doubt he'll continue to progress nicely." Slynt scanned from head to boot. "By the end of training you'll have surpassed everyone's expectations, cadet. Trust me on that."

    The way the governor continued to look at him was of something between observation and interest. Add that to a twitch in his grin, and Katin wanted to jump out of the nearest window in that instant. Pervert.

    "Hey, Katin." Kaila jumped up beside him, taking his arm in her own. "I hope it's alright if I steal him away."

    Everyone nodded politely, and as soon as they were far enough he let out a sigh of relief. "Thanks for the save. I wouldn't have been able to handle another second there. Not with the way Slynt was looking at me. I think he had other interest besides us talking."

    "Really? Slynt?"

    "Yeah - even if I went that way, and even if we were born within the same decade, my standards would be a lot higher than him."

    Kaila laughed. "So he's that bad."

    "Let's just say I've overheard a couple of the legal issues that my mother's had to bail him out of."

    "I'll take your word for it. Politics isn't my strong suit."

    She walked them over to one of the bedrooms, where all the guest of their age range had found their way to. Katin recognized most as fellow cadets from the academy, though he didn't really know any of them.

    "Just in time for shots," a tall cadet whom he knew to be named Tardis bellowed, waving a still full bottle in one hand.

    "You're Katin Lerus, right?" another cadet asked. A small girl named Kria. "I've seen your scores on the flight simulator. They're impressive. A bit disorganized and untamed, but impressive."

    "Thanks, I guess."

    "Enough talk. More drinking." Tardis insisted. "After all these months of hard work, I think we've earned a night of fun. Let the grown ups out there have their condensed version of a good time."

    Everybody cheered in agreement, including Katin. It had been months since he had gotten any fort of a buzz. Who knew when another opportunity was going to come by for it.
    In between his third and firth shots, Katin looked over to the dresser where a few holos were displayed, all showing Vaila. Without even asking, Katin just knew it was her and not her twin. At one end, a holo showed her standing with him, smiling.

    "Our brother took it that day you went with us to the Hatch Festival in the Orange District," Kaila explained when she noticed him looking at the holo. "He didn't even show it to us until after Vai was gone."

    "Right, this was just the week before . . "

    "Before she disappeared?" Kaila finished with a bit of a lump in her throat.

    It was hard for Katin, in that moment to have to keep the truth form Vaila's sister. She obviously missed her, and not knowing where she was, or if she was even alive was obvious hell, but to tell her would also mean revealing that her twin ran away in order to escape service to the Empire that the rest of her family adored. He had know idea which scenario would be worse for her. believing her to be a victim of kidnapping, or knowing she was a deserter.

    There was no point in finding out.

    He wasn't sure how much time passed, with all the drinks and music, but eventually Katin needed some fresh air, so Kaila led him to the bedroom's small balcony.

    It was a clear night. In the distance, there were fireworks going off.

    "The whole capital is celebrating. It's almost as if we weren't in a war." Kaila became close to erupting in tears as she said this, and Katin didn't need to guess as to why.

    Putting aside his guilt about withholding the truth, he put an arm around her. "Hey, I miss her too."

    "You may have not noticed, but my Mom excused herself from the party early on," she explained. "She wanted to put up a brave face. For the holiday. For us - but she just couldn't keep it up. I followed her to her room, and stayed with her for a little bit before she called it an early night."

    "No one expects you guys to just get over what's happened," he reasoned. "They'd be asking for the impossible."

    "Certain instructors and even cadets would say differently," she countered, pressing the side of her face into his chest. "I've been caught looking at a holo of us that I keep on me all the time, and some tell me to start putting aside my personal tragedy and to think about what's in my control, which is my training and then service to the Empire. On some level, I can see that makes sense, but on another-"

    "Those people are insensitive tools," he proclaimed. this won him a laugh from her. "You have every right to miss her as much as you want. I'm sure she misses you."

    Kaila looked up at him. "So you think she's alive?"

    In his imagination he gave himself a slap in the face. Don't say anything to give away the truth. "I . . .think that if anyone can survive whatever hell she might be going through, it's her. this is Vaila we're talking about. You know her better than anyone."

    After thinking about it for a moment she smiled. "I'd bet my money on her every time."

    "Exactly."

    Kaila looked at him, smiling - the same sort of smile he saw on Slynt earlier. Only this one was a lot more appealing to look at. As she straightened up, she moved her face towards his, and met them in a kiss. When it was over Katin was in a complete loss for words. Until he looked out into the city and saw something in the distance. "Fire."

    "It felt that good for you, too?"

    "No, is that a fire?"

    He pointed behind her, where a distant light could be seen that didn't seem electrical.

    "Isn't that the Academy?" Kaila pointed out.

    The balcony door was opened and a half-drunk Kria came stumbling out, holding a small holo comm in her hand. "There's been another vandalism. Multiple, actually."

    The hologram showed the grounds right outside the Imperial Palace lit up, then it changed to another fire on the walls outside of the former Senate Building's dome wall, lastly it changed to the academy's roof with the an ignited fire as well. All three flames were decorated in the symbol of the Rebel Alliance.

    "Talk about an art display," Kria barfed.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2021
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  11. FORCEBlLADE

    FORCEBlLADE Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Chapter Nine

    To say Vaila had left her entire life behind with little to no kind of a plan to what sort of a new one she was going to make for herself was an obvious fact.

    From Polium Spaceport, she found a courier pilot who was willing to sneak her off planet, and passed the Imperial fleet surrounding the capital, hidden in the cargo hold, no questions asked - all for a significant fee, of course. Once they made it to another system out of the core worlds, though, the courier demanded on a second payment for the ride. If she didn't have anymore money, then he was perfectly willing to accept other forms of payment. Fueled with anger and revulsion, Vaila had the man on the floor, unconscious only seconds after making that horrendous offer. After helping herself to a refund, she immediately left the courier's ship.

    After that, she hitched another ride, this time with a far more pleasing woman pilot, to a planet in the borderlines between the Mid and Outer Rims. From there, she found a third ride in a freighter called the Moa captained by an elderly Wookiee woman with a motherly nature who instinctively picked up on her desperation to disappear.

    That third trip brought her to Enoob, a planet in the Outer Rim that was not affiliated with Empire in any way, as promised by the Moa's captain. She also told her that if she chose to remain here, she could find work in the marketplace of Akire, the planet's one single city. There was also a boarding house in the marketplace where she might find a room. She thanked the captain and crew for the lift and went on her way.

    Within three days on the planet, she had a room and a job. Both under a fake name, of course. using identifications that she bought a week before leaving, from a guy that she met at one of Barten's a little parties. As far as anyone in Enoob knew, she was Hira Noal, from Alderaan. People didn't question her reasons for coming here because of this. Plenty of survivors were left to wander the galaxy, looking for a new place to call home, if such a thing was even possible.

    At first she kept her head down in this new place. Not drawing any attention out of fear of being recognized, however unlikely it was that it would happen, since she did her best to change her appearance back in Polium Spaceport before leaving Coruscant. Her hair was now a bright wavy gold. Also, she spent much of her alone time perfecting a new accent and body language, determined to become a completely different person.

    She would do her job at the shop, earning a decent pay every week, spent her nights eating alone, reading in her small but comfortable room, and when she had a day off, Vaila would go hiking up the mountains just outside of the city. The continuing state of the galaxy, as well as the war, was something she avoided learning anything about. Especially anything regarding Coruscant. It scared her to imagine the growing conflict there, perhaps even an all-out war for the planet breaking out. So she avoided the HoloNet and any conversations people happened to have within her earshot about what might be going on out there.

    Little by little, though, she started to lower her guard and allowed herself to socialize. Another worker in the shop, Aya, invited her to lunch for the fifth time, and she finally said yes. It was nice to finally interact with other people again after two months of staying completely disconnected. Soon enough, having lunch together became a daily thing. It wasn't long before Aya became one of the closest friends that she had ever had.

    Aya was a native to Eboon, Her parents, sadly, had died in a hiking accident a few years back, and so that left her to take care of her younger sister, Tusa, when she was just barely eighteen. Tusa, now ten, was smiling. With the same curly black hair and chocolate skin as her sister, she was every bit a younger version of her. The girl had aspiration to be a pilot, and had hoped of one day enrolling at an Imperial Academy. Something that made Vaila frown. Clearly, all the girl cared about was being able to fly , and if an academy was the way, then that's what was going to happen. So Vaila said nothing to discourage her dreams.

    It was late in the day; both hers and Aya's shifts had ended so they met with Tusa at a restaurant where they dined at a table outside since the weather was in a nice breeze.

    "Hira, where were you when Alderaan was destroyed," Tusa asked after their deserts were brought.

    A wide-eyed Aya nearly spat out the drink she had just taken. "Tusa, don't ask her something like that. I'm sorry."

    "No, it's okay." Especially, considering she wasn't even from there. "I was on Coruscant."

    "What were you doing there?"

    "Vacation."

    "What's the capital like?" Tusa asked, clearly wishing to hear whatever wondrous details Vaila could provide.

    "Well, the entire planet is basically one huge city. The buildings reach as far as the clouds. It's always alive with people from all corners of the galaxy."

    "Sounds like the best place in the whole universe."

    Growing up, Vaila had always believed that. She had always seen her home world as the most worth wild place there was. The very heart of the galaxy, and the Galactic Empire. Now, though, she couldn't see past the flotilla that surrounded the entire planet. Nor the armies that patrolled every walkway and platform. When she had smuggled herself out she had felt like a prisoner escaping confinement. As long as the Empire was in control of Coruscant, she could never see it as home again. Even with her family still there.

    She really did miss them, though. Her parents, and all of her sisters and brother. Kaila especially. She missed their regular late night talks that went back to when they were barely old enough to spell, and they pitched a tent made from their blankets. She wasn't even able to see her twin when she looked in the mirror anymore. Some days, it took everything to stop her from giving into temptation and using a public HoloNet transceiver to make a call to them.

    What always stopped her was knowing that when it came to the Empire's acts of horror and downright heartlessness, she was the only one to not be able to shut down the amount of humanity that was required to support such a dark regime. Her parents were too willing to abandon so many senses of morality, and all of her other siblings were already following suit.

    As much as it pained her, Vaila had to accept that if she was to listen o her better conscious, then she couldn't be anywhere near people who were ready and willing to crush theirs silent.

    Not contacting Katin proved to be just as hard. Even though she believed that he would never betray her, it would still be risky to reach out to him. With a brother in Intelligence there was always the chance their correspondents could be discovered, and Katin could be arrested for aiding a deserter. No, it was better to leave him be. It was probably hard enough for him to keep quiet about her running away.

    "It's nice, but with the war, things there have changed," she suggested to Tusa casually. "I'd recommend to anybody to keep away from Imperial territory. Especially the Core."

    Tusa thrust a fist onto the table. "Lousy Rebels are ruining everything. They really are scum."

    Aya frowned. "Language, Tusa."

    "What, I'm just saying. They started a war, after all."

    "I don't think it's that black and white," Vaila told her. Use your words carefully. Even here, it wasn't smart to voice out against the Empire. "A lot of people are feeling that the Empire is treating them unfairly. Cruelly even."

    Tusa's grouchy attitude softened a bit. "Like with Alderaan?"

    She nodded. "Exactly."

    "I'm sorry if this topic is just too sensitive for you, Hira," Aya said, shooting her younger sister a warning glare to ease off of talking about the Empire and Alderaan.

    "It's okay."

    It was then that three of them the other people dinning started gasping, and talking in commotion.

    Aya looked around to see that it was happening with people all over the busy street, "What's with the sudden change in attitude around here?"

    More and more folks started looking up at the sky, pointing. Some in wonder. Others in panic. The three of them followed everyone's gaze: Up in the sky, entering Eboon's atmosphere was a rectangular ship that was probably a lot bigger than it looked right now from this far away.

    "Is that-" Aya started to say, but lost her voice in the shock.

    So Vaila finished for her, "-a Star Destroyer? Yeah. Unmistakable. The Empire's here now."
     
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  12. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 9, 2000
    I wanted a chance to respond before now, but I haven't had one. It's interesting to watch the start of the Rebellion from the viewpoint of civilians, particularly young people who were raised and indoctrinated under the Empire. These kids are all relatively wealthy and sheltered; it is interesting to see the different reactions.

    That Star Destroyer spells trouble for Vaila. Hope her cover story is strong! Hard for Katin, too, at the Academy. Hope you're planning to continue this.
     
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  13. FORCEBlLADE

    FORCEBlLADE Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Sorry for the long break. Writers block is hell, but I'm back on track now.

    Chapter Ten

    "Although no official statements have been giving in regards to fires, sources close to the investigation say that several suspects have been brought in for questioning."

    Katin turned the news report off and drifted over to the window. It had been two days since Empire Day and the three simultaneous fires that were now being declared an act of aggression from rebel cells hiding in the capital itself. It was all anyone could still talk about, which made Katin nervous.

    As far as he knew, nobody in his little circle had anything to do with these fires, and he had no reason to not believe them. So if it wasn't any of them who lit the blaze at their own academy, then it must've been somebody else who was making a stand against the Empire whom they weren't aware of.

    It was hopeful to think that there possibly a lot more people on their side than they knew of. A plan like these fires, and all three being done in such highly secured Imperial spots took some strong numbers, organization, and skill. He wondered if Barten knew anything about this group, but his friend had gone silent in the last few days, which was becoming the norm with him.

    At first it would just be a day or two that he would go dark, but now it was a week here and there. Although he didn't get into specific details, Barten claimed he was digging deep into Imperial systems to find whatever deep dark secrets the Empire had that the public should know about. Frankly, though, Katin didn't see the point. More and more the Empire was displaying its cruel nature right out in the open.

    Just a few days before the fires, two cadets from his class were pulled out for having relatives who were on suspected Rebel watch lists. So far, nobody had heard from them yet. Then there was the random house checks that stormtroopers were now giving full authorization to conduct, even if the residents weren't suspected of any wrong doing. It was civil liberties being trampled, and in the name of security, as the Emperor was telling the press.

    The more he looked out at endless city that was his homeworld, the less he recognized it; maybe he never really knew it to begin with. It was all he could do to just hop on any random ship and leave. He didn't blame Vaila, at all anymore, for running away. He still missed her, though. There were still nights in bed where his mind wandered to where she might be in that moment. What she could be doing. If she was okay.

    The apartment's front door opened and closed, and someone walked into the living room, but he didn't turn to see who. "Pleasant morning, little brother?"

    "Hey Aeryn. I was just watching the news. They're still giving us the same details about the fires."

    "Of course they are. " His older brother walked over to him at the window. "The truth is we don't have anything solid on it yet."

    "Really? Don't they have everyone in your department looking into it?"

    He frowned. "Yeah, and just between us, we have squat. These scum covered their tracks good. Not your typically dumb arsonists, I'm sorry to say."

    "Sorry to hear that." He felt a slight pinch in his arm for saying that, since he didn't really mean it.

    "Just give us some time, little brother." He patted his shoulder, smiling confidently. "We'll get the You'll see."

    Hopefully not.

    "But enough about work." Now his grin became mischievous. "Tell me about Kaila."

    "What about her?"

    "Well, the way I hear it you two had a little private moment out on her balcony that same night."

    "How do-"

    He snorted. "Come on, little brother. I'm in Intelligence."

    "Well . . . uh . . . we're friends. I guess."

    "What's the problem? Is she not your type?"

    "I can't say I've ever had a type. it's just that it's weird."

    "What is?"

    "I can't look at her without thinking of Vaila."

    Aeryn raised an eyebrow. "Were you two seeing each other before she disappeared?"

    "No, but we were friends. So it's weird to think of dating her sister - and her twin at that."

    "Well, let me ask you this: do you like her?"

    If Katin had to really say, it would be a yes. Kaila was her own person, apart from her sister, which that wasn't a bad thing. Always more up for a laugh, and she enjoyed a good dance, like him. Two things were stopping something from happening, though: first was the truth he was keeping on how and why Vaila really vanished. What if somewhere down the line he slipped up, or actually wound up confessing the truth? Then what would happen? Vaila could be branded a deserter. A traitor even. Second, of course, there was the fact that Katin was secretly working against the Empire, of which Kaila without question loyal to. They would be doomed from the start.

    "Yeah, but that doesn't make things less complicated."

    Sighing, Aeryn put an arm around him. "It's your love life, little brother, but I have to say, you'll have only yourself to blame if you die a virgin."

    He wanted to laugh. So much for his brother's intelligence skills. What did he think his top agenda always was for the parties he had been going to since he was fourteen? Still, Katin allowed himself the moment to enjoy the brotherly bond. Joy which then turned into guilt. It was strange that after a childhood of discontent and rivalry, the two Lerus brothers were finally getting along. Katin's progress at the Academy, while not exceptional in any way, was going well enough to warrant pride from his brother and parents. Too bad that he was secretly working against the regime that the they were so loyal to.

    How long would it be before that veil dropped? His group had discussed it more than once. It would only be a matter of time before they either openly joined up with the Rebellion and deserted the Empire, or they were discovered and arrested. Katin dreaded that coming day. As much as he hated what his family stood for, deep down he still loved them. He wished things could be different, but they weren't. The lines were drawn, and he was on the opposite side to them.

    Another reason he envied Vaila's impulse to leave. Where ever she was, at least she wasn't in the middle of this mess.

    ----------

    There's no getting away from them is there?

    Vaila was so sure she had chosen a backwater enough planet that she wouldn't have to worry about actually having to hide in the shadows. Up until this point she could walk freely in the open without worry of being recognized. It had taken time to drop her defenses, and when she finally allowed herself to feel safe-

    -those defenses were now back up, on full alert. On the very same day that the Star Destroyer appeared over the city, shuttles and transports immediately came down to the city and setup shop at City Hall. By the next day, thousands were gathered at the courtyard outside, Vaila included, to listen to the Mayor's announcement of the planet opening its doors to cooperation with the men and woman of the Empire.

    "Cooperation? More like occupation," Vaila heard someone whisper, who was met with supporting responses.

    "Please, let's welcome the Imperial people with open arms, "the Mayor said from the podium at doors of the building. Raising his arms, expecting a unified applause, but was instead only met with a half-hearted cheer from the crowd. He stepped aside for a woman in an admiral uniform to take the podium.

    Though Vaila was a bit far from the building there were two giant screens on either side of the building steps that showed a close view of the podium, so Vaila could see the admiral's face, and immediately recognized her as Admiral Rima Walsh. Top of her class at the Royal Academy on Coruscant in its early years, worked her way up from ensign to lieutenant, to colonel, captain, and finally admiral. Under her leadership, insurgent cells had been trampled on three separate systems. She was also responsible for defeating multiple pirate raids, and rescuing an Imperial cruiser from being pulled into a black hole.

    Back in school, Vaila had read up on multiple standout figures in Imperial service, and among them, she stood out all on her own. She had been some Vaila had idolized for years and aspired to be. Up until a year ago, one of her biggest dreams was to meet Admiral Walsh. Now, it was her greatest fear.

    "What do you think they're really doing here?" Aya asked next to her. Her hands rested on Tusa's shoulders in front of her.

    "I don't know. Maybe they're just moving in on another system to claim over."

    "So you think if we just keep our heads down they'll leave us alone?"

    She shrugged. "I don't know. I hope so." But even as she said this, she knew that would probably not be the case.

    The truth was, Vaila had half a mind to pack up, run to the spaceport and hop on the first ship that will take her. Go even further into the Outer Rims. Wild Space even. The desire was quickly overshadowed the pointlessness of it. If the Empire's sudden presence here told her anything, it was that a day might come where there was no place in the galaxy where one could live outside of it's grasp.

    What options did that leave for her with then?

    Over the course of the next few weeks the city saw drastic change. Stormtroopers started patrolling the streets rather than the local police force, which was immediately relegated to reserve forces that had no real work to do. Also, Admiral Walsh quickly made herself at home in City Hall, along with her staff, relieving the locals of their duties. By the end of that first week, TIE fighters screeched through the sky right above the buildings on regular patrol.

    In the blink of an eye, Vaila's new home was now feeling like her old one.

    When the occasional stormtrooper or officer came through the shop, she smiled kindly and did her job, without doing anything to draw anymore attention from them than was needed to direct them to an item or run the register when they bought something.

    It wasn't until the end of the third week of their occupation that things finally took a turn for the worst. All of a sudden, word was getting around about people being taken into custody for questioning about various things. Those people would never be seen again. The arrests seemed so random. It seemed as if the Empire was just picking people to take in at random; but where? And why? If a family member or friend tried asking, they either given the run-around, or taken in themselves.

    At the end of the fourth week Tusa came racing into the store, out of breath. "They took her!" she yelled.

    "Took her?" Vaila asked, coming around from the counter.

    "They took Aya!"

    In that moment, all the blood in Vaila's face's dropped. "What?"

    "They came to our place teen minutes ago, and see they needed to take her in for questioning."

    The girl was in tears, completely petrified as to what would become of her older sister. Of what would become of her.

    "Don't worry. We're going to find out what happened to her.," she promised the terrified girl, "and we're going to rescue her."

    "How?" she bellowed in-between her whimpers.

    Pulling her into an embrace, she whispered, "Just leave that to me."
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2018
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  14. Thumper09

    Thumper09 Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 9, 2001
    Great story so far! It's fascinating seeing the OT-era Empire from the viewpoint of regular, everyday people, especially the everyday people who support it and agree with its policies. Their reasons for supporting it are realistic and thoughtful, which I appreciate seeing even if I personally side with the Rebels overall. ;)

    So this was way back in Chapter One, but this line: She hated forgetting dreams. It was like losing a piece of your mind to the abyss. was really cool. Neat wording in that.

    I also like your mention of the difficulties occurring in the transfer of power to the Regional Governors after the Death Star was destroyed. It's a detail that I never really thought about before, but which makes perfect sense.

    Your story reminds me of a song I really like. The song is from the POV of a man during the American Civil War who has ties to both the North and the South, and he's wishing there was another side for him to join.

    Nice to see the Moa and her captain!

    Things aren't sounding good for Aya now. I wonder what Vaila will do to help and if it'll risk blowing her cover.

    Looking forward to more!
     
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  15. FORCEBlLADE

    FORCEBlLADE Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Chapter Eleven

    "We've got company!"

    Barten checked the screen showing the outside of the warehouse, where a squad of stormtroopers were setting up explosives to blow the door open. Well, we had a good run here.

    Everyone else around had also seen the feed too, because they were was instant panic. People were keying in commands into their terminals that would wipe the systems clean, then jumping out of their seats, packing their essentials and dashing out of there before those troops made it inside.

    Before Barten could wipe his terminal he had to upload all the data he had into his datapad, which took a minute longer than he would've preferred. By the time it was finally done uploading, almost everyone else was already cleared out, disappearing into the dark corners. Then came the not too distant explosions, and the fast marching of numerous troops that would soon be here.

    Once Barten had his virus doing its job he was the last one to have made a run for it. Three escape routes had been made when they had setup shop here for this very scenario, and the closest one was at the bathroom. Somewhere in the warehouse a blaster shot went out that echoed all over. Then another. Then a scream. Had someone been killed? Was it someone he had gotten to know well in the weeks living here?

    No time to wonder, or grieve. if he didn't hurry, he would be joining them soon.

    "Hey, you, freeze!"

    Down a corridor he was passing a stormtrooper charged his way, blaster raised. "You're under arrest."

    He was set to run, but then in the corner of his eye he spotted a small lever on the corridor wall that he knew, from studying the blueprints of this warehouse, would give him some cover. So he made a jump for it, barely dodging a laser bolt, and pulled the lever down. All around them tides of cold cloud shot down from the ceiling, concealing everything around them, including each other.

    Despite running blind, Barten knew to continue straight ahead, to where that bathroom door was. Thankfully, he didn't crash into anything, or anyone, until hitting the door. Once inside, he slid down across the floor, into a large hole that had been blown open. He dropped down into a puddle of something he was happy not to be able to see in the darkness of the sewer pipe.

    The smell, sadly, was something he couldn't keep concealed. From the hole above he could hear more blaster fire, so he needed to get a move on. He tucked his datapad into his jacket, pulled out a glow rod and started his long, revolting trek to safety.

    ----------

    This was a disappointing day. Their raid of a slicer cell in the Industrial District ended in the death of four slicers, and the rest having escaped through multiple secret routes that Intelligence had been unaware of before invading the warehouse.

    "Admiral." A stormtrooper captain approached him. "I just received word from a squad that discovered an entry to the sewer lines. One of the slicers was spotted escaping that way."

    Alaris growled. "Pull them back, Captain. The sewer lines here split off into all directions. They'll do nothing but get themselves lost in that maze. If will be a fruitless chase."

    "Yes, Admiral."

    This cell was well prepared for the possibility of being discovered. In truth, they had underestimated them. He had underestimated them. For weeks now, these slicers had gone unnoticed as they dug into Imperial archives of the deepest levels. Intelligence had finally spotted them in the systems when they came close to unlocking files in regards to construction of their second Death Star.

    The building of the new space station had been underway almost immediately after the first one's destruction, and this time around it would be completed within a few years rather than two whole decades. Labor forces were being gathered from backwater worlds that nobody all over the Outer Rim that the majority in the galaxy wouldn't give a second notice to. No delays of any kind would be tolerated this time, and thankfully everything was right on schedule.

    But if these slicers had reached those files and learned of its construction, they would've gotten word to the Rebellion., who would've turned the entire galaxy to find it and destroy it once more.

    That was why the Emperor himself had ordered an immediate assault on this cell as soon as their location was discovered. The escape of so many, though, might not bode well for any of them. Ever since the start of the war Emperor was not in any kind of a forgiving state. As was Lord Vader. There were already rumors floating around of the 'mysterious' deaths of one or two officers who performed less than satisfactory for the Emperor's second hand. Alaris was just thankful that Vader was nowhere near the capital these days, hunting down the rebels from one corner of the galaxy to the other.

    After the warehouse was cleared and all trace of the escaped slicers had vanished, Alaris ordered all personnel to pull out and called it a day.

    He was back home an hour later, after submitting his report for the day. Once the apartment door was closed behind him he allowed his muscles and nerves to relax. His two youngest children appeared from a corner and rushed right into his arms. Holding in his frustrations of the day he smiled and kissed them warmly, and then sent them back on their way.

    In the living room he found Kaila laying on the couch, reading a datapad. As always, he needed to take a moment to remind himself there was no chance it could be Vaila instead. Her twin sister was gone. Dead, more than likely.

    After months of searching, following every possible lead, all efforts to find her ended in failure. Finally, the Mosney family slowly and quietly came to the conclusion that they would never see her again. Whomever had abducted her never had any intention of returning her to them in any shape or form.

    Yet here her face was, for all of them to see everyday. Alaris would never say it out loud, but seeing Vaila in her twin sister was torture. Despite the demands of her studies and training at the academy, Kaila was making every effort possible to be around for them. Her heart was in the right place, but to see her sister every time he looked at her was a blade to his heart.

    When she noticed him staring at her she smiled. "Hi, Dad. Did everything go well today?"

    "Just fine," he managed with a dry mouth.

    "Mom's already in bed. Everyone's been fed. I saved you a plate in the kitchen."

    "Thank you, sweetheart."

    She went back to her datapad and he turned away from her, finding his breath again as soon as she was gone from his vision.

    ----------

    It was the middle of the day and TN-261 was patrolling the marketplace on Akire, and despite the cooling system in his armor the summer heat was making him sweat a puddle that had nowhere to go.

    For the most part, the patrons ignored him as he walked by, but those few that didn't showed him varying expression from contempt to utter hatred. No matter. The Empire was here now, whether they liked it or not, and he had his posting as a patrol man. He almost wished someone would try and cause trouble with him, just so he'd have an excuse to beat them or even shoot them. All for the sake of a temporary disruption of this calm boredom.

    He had hoped to receive a posting somewhere where the war was taking place, but instead he had the rotten luck of being assigned to a Star Destroyer with the mission occupy a planet that would show little to no resistance. This war could pass with him never seeing any kind of action.

    "Sir! Officer!"

    From the corner of a building a little girl came running towards him, complete fright on her face. "Officer, help! You have to help!"

    "What is it?"

    "There's three men gaining up on my big brother," she explained, grabbing his elbow to pull on. "They're going to kill him! You have to help!"

    He yanked his elbow free from her hold, so she just waved him to follow her into the alley she appeared from. He sprinted behind her all the way around to the other side of the building - where they came upon a dead end that was completely deserted.

    "There's nobody here." he eyed the girl. "What kind of game are playing at here?"

    "The kind where you're unconscious."

    He darted around in time to see an older girl appear from behind a large dumpster, with a heavy looking metal pipe that she swung toward him, knocking his blaster off from his hands. The next swing came down towards his legs, knocking him to the ground. In the next second, the younger girl was standing over him, and pulling his helmet off. His eyes didn't even have time to adjust to light, because as soon as his head was exposed the older girl brought her pipe down onto it, and all he saw after that was darkness.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2018
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  16. FORCEBlLADE

    FORCEBlLADE Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Chapter Twelve

    Vaila didn't waste any time stripping the unconscious stormtrooper of his armor and putting it on. Tusa, meanwhile, tied him by the hands and feet, as well covered his mouth. Once Vaila was finished suiting up, save for the helmet, they picked him up together and managed to drop him into the dumpster.

    "Good thing it isn't garbage day," Tusa remarked smiling. It concerned Vaila to think the girl enjoyed that assault just a little too much, but she would leave that for Aya to deal with after they rescued her.

    "Alright, now you go to your friend, Tris' house."

    Her face became sour. "But I want to go and help save Aya."

    "You have helped, just now."

    "But I want to be there and help her escape." This time her tone was a little bit angry. "She's my sister."

    "Exactly. So I'm not putting you in any more danger than I already just did." After tying up her hair into a high ponytail, she picked the helmet off the ground and put it on. "She would want you somewhere safe, and away from any potential fire fights that we might get into."

    She wasn't satisfied with this reasoning, folding her arms across her chest and huffing. So Vaila leaned down to meet her on eye level. "Tusa, I promise I will get your sister out. So please, go to your friend's house and wait for us. Please."

    After a long minute of resistance, Tusa finally let her arms, face, and breath drop. "You promise I'll see again her soon?"

    "Yes. I promise."

    Thankfully, the young girl in acceptance and they hugged before she sent Tusa on her way. It wasn't a good idea to have promised her that Aya would return, safe and sound. Vaila knew this, but what else could she say to a child who might very well lose the only family she had left in the entire galaxy? Tusa may become a true orphan today -

    - and Vaila could certainly end up dead. What was she thinking? How could it even cross her mind to be doing this?

    Her friend was locked in cell, unfairly. That was how. There was no turning back now, anyways. As soon as that storntrooper came too and managed to break free from his restraints, she would be in hot water anyways. So she picked up the blaster and marched around the building, back into the street.

    It took a little getting used to seeing everything through the helmet's visor. Vaila had worn student issued helmets during training at school, but this one was a little more high tech; with visual adjustment and targeting system.

    From all the talk going around, she knew everyone being taken into custody was being held at the precinct right across the street from City Hall. So that was where she went. During the whole walk people mostly avoided her gaze. No question it was out of fear. That was what the Empire was, after all. An order that was meant to frighten and if needed annihilate. To think, she grew up admiring the people who would wear this armor.

    What a stupid child she had been.

    When she made it to the City Hall, there was a large shuttle patched on the landing platform that had been setup on the courtyard for Imperial transports. On the street, two long lines of people, all in cuffs, were being led towards the courtyard by a squad of stormtroopers/. Vaila scanned them all as they walked by, until finally spotting Aya near the end of one of the lines.

    So what were her options here? A straight up shootout with a squad of a dozen trained soldiers most definitely wouldn't go in her favor. She could collect Aya, saying she was ordered to deliver her to a superior officer for questioning. No, they would ask for verification that she didn't have.

    The prisoners were now being loaded inside the shuttle so she needed to decide something fast.

    You promised Tusa.

    With that in mind she marched towards the shuttle just as the last of the prisoners were stepping inside. Without missing a step she boarded with the last of the stormtrooper escorts, the ramp closing behind her. There was no turning back now.

    Nobody took immediate notice of the extra stormtrooper to suddenly appear out of nowhere. The others simply surrounded the prisoners, who were forced to squeeze together tightly at the center of the room. Aya was standing on the outside of the huddled crowd. Her lips shivering out either terror or sadness; maybe both.

    "Where are we going?' one of the other prisoners asked.

    "To the Striker," one of the stormtroopers said coldly.

    "Why?' another prisoner asked between whimpers.

    "None of us did anything," someone else proclaimed. "You have no right to take us like this."

    The squad commander stepped towards this man and knocked the handle of his blaster on the head. He would've fallen to the floor, if the others hadn't caught and helped him stay up.

    "This isn't a courtroom," the commander told them all. "Nothing you say here matters."

    The shuttle's engines came on, lifting off from the platform right after. They would be off the planet within the next minute. Aya started hugging herself, and she was on the verge of exploding into a storm of tears. If Vaila was going to do something it needed to be now. When suiting up she had taken inventory of everything she had: a fully loaded standard E-11 blaster, grappling hook, and a few smoke grenades.

    In a small space like this there was an absolute certainty of Aya, or any of the others, being caught in the cross fire of a shoot out. If she set off all of her smoke grenades she would have some cover, but that would cause panic with the prisoners too. Maybe if she got close enough to Aya, and whispered her to duck for cover, and quietly pass it on-

    "Hey, stay where you are!"

    A trooper raised his blaster to one pf the prisoners, who was moving towards him, but the threat of being shot did nothing to scare him back into the crowd.

    "No. I won't go wherever it is you're taking us," he declared. "I'd rather die than be some slave at a work camp. The ones who arrested me mentioned it. We're being sent to work on some Imperial base as a slave labor force. Well, it's not happening. Not to me."

    "This is your last warning," the trooper warned.

    But the man only took another step -

    - which was followed by a blaster shot. Only it didn't come from the stormtrooper threatening him. Instead the shot took the said trooper down, and it came from Vaila's blaster.

    For a moment, everyone stood frozen, in complete shock over what had just happened. Then one of the other stormtroopers pointed her blaster at Vaila, barking, "Who are you?"

    So now her cover was blown, an she would either be killed or imprisoned with everyone else. So much for her rescue mission.

    But before she could give any kind of response, another one of the prisoners hurled himself onto the closest trooper, so did another, and then another. One prisoner made a grab for the commander's blaster, initiating a tug of war with him.

    Another shot was fired, but this time it was one of the prisoners who fell to the deck with a burn in his chest. The trooper who did it moved to aim at another, but Vaila took him out first. From her other side, the door to the cockpit opened and one of the pilots stepped in to see what all the commotion was about, only to be immediately hit by a shot fired from the blaster of the second fallen trooper that one of the prisoners had grabbed.

    At last, everyone became a part of the mayhem. All of the prisoners jumped the remaining squad, and because of the larger numbers, it wasn't long before the Imperial troops were being pinned down and beaten. Vaila lost her friend in the chaos for a moment, but found it again with a few others kicking on one of the stormtroopers. She grabbed her shoulder, and nearly caught an elbow to her stomach plate for it.

    "Aya, it's me." She threw off her helmet, which managed to settle her friend's momentary fright.

    "How did you get-"

    "Never mind that. Let's get to the cockpit."

    So they jumped over rolling bodies and circled small groups gathered around their victims. When they finally made it to the cockpit, the remaining pilot was already at the mercy of the man who ha since won his battle for the commander's blaster. He was managing to hold it steadily, despite having his hands cuffed.

    "He's already alerted the Star Destroyer to us overtaken the shuttle," he explained. "He won't change course towards it."

    True enough. The Star Destroyer was dead ahead. Close enough that they could pull the shuttle by tractor beam, unless they shot away right now. "Move him."

    He forced the pilot off the seat for Vaila to take his place and man the controls.

    "When did you learn to fly?" Aya asked in shock.

    "When I was younger than it was legal to."

    The answer didn't seem to satisfy her completely. "Whoa are you."

    Well, if there was anytime for the truth, it might as well be now. "Vaila. Vaila Mosney. Nice to meet you."

    A quick glance to Aya's bewildered expression told her that she was not expecting that big of a revelation.

    As soon as she had the shuttle turning, there was an alert on the console that a tractor had been activated nearby. All around them, the shuttle started to casually shale.

    "Do they have us?" the man with the blaster, still aimed at the pilot in the corner, asked.

    "Yes, but if I push the thrusters at maximum I might be able to break us free."

    Another alert sounded, but this one was warning of a ship coming out of hyperspace. "Um, what are all these dots," Aya asked, looking at the tactical display.

    "Those are new ships jumping into the system."

    "More Imperial ships?"

    Looking at the tactical display, it showed the new arrivals moving towards the Star Destroyer from different sides, Vaila raised an eyebrow. "I don't think so. They look like they're moving in to attack."

    Despite being on the verge of breaking free from the tractor beam she turned the shuttle back around to see what was happening, and came to bare witness to a large squadron of fighters engaging against the Star Destroyer. "Those are X-Wing fighters." Aya pointed out.

    "It's the Rebellion," Vaila said in a huff of delight.

    The Star Destroyer gave everything it had against the X-Wing fighters, but the rebel pilots proved to be quite skilled and organized. In a manner of minutes, they had disabled half its defense cannons, and then proceeded to blow the shield generator away. Finally, a few proton torpedoes aimed at the bridge left the Star Destroyer in ruins.

    "They beat them," Aya yelled, overjoyed.

    From the door, more of the newly liberated prisoners were appearing. Some were badly bruised, and even bleeding, clearly the shuttle had been overtaken.

    "All the stormtroopers?" Aya asked.

    "Most are dead. A few unconscious," one of them reported. "We also lost a few people."

    It pained Vaila to know that she wasn't able to save all of them, but most were safe now. Including Aya. The shuttle comm transceiver was being now being hailed, so she opened a channel. "This is Vaila Mosney. Don't shoot. Repeat, don't shoot. We're Imperial prisoners who have overtaken this shuttle."

    "We figured something was up when we came in and saw that you were fighting against their tractor beam," said a young male voice. "I'm guessing you're all the prisoners they were shipping off for slave labor force."

    "How did you know that?" Aya asked.

    "We have a contact on your planet who's been keeping us informed on what's been going on. Our squadron wasn't doing anything, so we thought we'd come help you guys out."

    Vaila would make a point to find out who that contact as and thank him or her. Honestly, she had no idea what she would've done after getting away from that Star Destroyer. She had been way out of her depth from the start. The Rebel Alliance saved them today "Thanks. What do I call you."

    "We can formally meet when we've set down on Enoob." The X-Wings started passing them to head towards the planet. "But the name's Skywalker."
     
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  17. Thumper09

    Thumper09 Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 9, 2001
    I'm glad Aya's all right! It looks like Alaris was wrong-- someone definitely gave some notice to the people being taken from the backwater worlds to the labor camps, and that someone is a person he cares for a great deal. Nice save by Luke, and it's a good thing Vaila's shuttle didn't get pulled onto the Star Destroyer, or she would have been discovered and her time of hiding out would be brought to an end. I'm curious to see how Aya is going to react to Vaila telling her who she really is and where she came from.

    Keep up the good work!
     
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  18. FORCEBlLADE

    FORCEBlLADE Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Chapter Thirteen

    Nobody was as shocked as Katin was when his marks came at the top ten percent of his class at the end of the his first year. That had been the goal, of course, but still; to see his scores that high made him want to strut down the academy's halls.

    The momentary sense of superiority was stomped down when he reminded himself of what all of this was really about.

    The rest of the group couldn't share in the same accomplished. As hard as they had all tried, none made high enough marks to qualify for the tour within Coruscant's defense fleet. Which would consist of a week of serving aboard one of the Star Destroyers alongside Imperial Naval personnel, and receive real hands -on experience.

    Now that the week of tour was a day away, Katin was becoming nervous. Maybe if any of his other friends were coming along with him he could keep his nerves calm, but he was in this on his own. All he could do was focus on the plan, which involved sneaking away from the academy late in the night to meet with Barten in the midlevels.

    After having gone radio silent for two months, his friend had finally reconnected, and once he told Barten about the cadets' idea of sabotage within the fleet, he was on board to help.

    They arranged to meet at a discreet corner of a nightclub that provided plenty of dark corners and loud enough music to keep conversations quiet. Katin waited alone at a booth for a good hour before Barten finally showed up.

    "I was almost ready to call to it a night," he admitted a bit annoyed.

    "Sorry, I had to make a few detours." Barten scanned through the whole club, making sure to give everyone a quick glance. "These days, none of us can be too careful."

    It seemed like his friend was getting more paranoid by the day, but that was understandable, considering the Empire had tracked down his cell of slicers and raided their hideout. Barten had nearly been captured, maybe even killed. Now, looking over his shoulder was a natural instinct for him. It probably wouldn't be long before Katin started looking at every face to see if anyone was paying a little too much attention to him.

    "So, do you have what you promised?" he asked Barten he was relaxed on their booth. He nodded, pulling something out f his jacket pocket from under the table that he handed over to him. It was a datachip. Katin quickly tucked into his own pocket, looking around to make sure no one was paying attention to them. All looked clear, hopefully.

    "Wait until the week is almost up," Barten instructed him, "then slip into a terminal, open the file, and my program will do the rest."

    "What exactly will it do?"

    "It's going to slowly embed itself all over the ship's systems, and then bide it's time a day. Then at first it will be little things, like lights coming off and on. Then it will randomly seal off rooms, then graduate to whole sectors. maybe an airlock will accidently open up. Alarms could go off warning of a coming attack. Communications and navigation systems will go offline. Heating systems get shutdown. Basically a cyber nightmare."

    It sounded funny, to be honest. Except for the airlock part. That one might actually kill some people. But that was the reality of what they were doing, wasn't it. If Katin wanted to be a part of this fight, it was either kill Rebels, or kill Imperials, and as far as he knew it was only the Imperials blowing up planets and enslaving people.

    "So like I said, wait until your week aboard is almost up," Barten reminded him. "I don't want you to be still be up there when things start to go haywire."

    "Got it." Katin gulped down the last of his drink before standing up. "I'd better get back before they notice I slipped out."

    Barten shook his hand and patted his shoulder. "Let me know when you're back down here with us. Be careful up there."

    "Careful kind of defeats the purpose of sabotage, doesn't it?"

    They shared a laugh before Katin gave his friend a quick hug and left. he hoped this wouldn't be the last time he saw him. For a few days now, he had been having the same recurring nightmare of getting caught sabotaging the systems and being killed on the spot. No, this was not going to be a fun week, at all.

    ----------

    The very next day he was aboard the Star Destroyer, Purifier, with a group of other cadets. The ship's captain himself gave them a tour of the warship, which ended in the bridge.

    "You will each receive an opportunity to serve within this bridge in your time here," the captain promised. "As you've already been told before coming aboard, you will receive hands on experience in multiple stations aboard this ship. I would advice you all to treat this as you would if you were actual officers in this navy. Anything you do in within this ship will be held in regards to your future within the ranks of the Empire. So it is within your best interests to act in accordance with your training."

    So in simple terms, don't screw around. Katin held in both a chuckle and a smirk. With his hands clapped together behind his back his fingers rubbed at the end of one of his sleeves where a hidden pocket was holding Barten's chip. Like his he had advised him, Katin would need to bide his time and wait until the end of this week to install the virus.

    So he went about his time aboard the Purifier as a dedicated cadet. He did his job in every position to the best of his power. Working with the engineers in the engine room, as a technician in the main docking bay, manning the guns of one of the laser cannons, and on his last day he was finally stationed on the one of the trenches of the bridge.

    It was there, at the seat of his terminal, that he saw his best opportunity. He didn't realize until the last hour of his shift how badly his leg was shaking. He had to hold it down with a hand so that it would finally stop. He was running out of time. There wasn't going to be any other chance at getting into a terminal without drawing suspicion, and he would be gone tomorrow morning, so it was now or never.

    He looked around to make sure nobody was looking his way. All eyes were their own screens. The officers above weren't paying them any attention. Just do it. Do it now.
    Reaching into his pocket sleeve, Katin pulled out the chip and under the cover of his hand, plugged it into a slot. The screen showed the chip's folder, with the program it held. All he had to do was open it. Taking a deep, long, breath he clicked onto the fil, and status bar came on. It only took a few seconds for the bar to complete itself and disappear. Then Katin swiftly removed the chip and tucked it back into his sleeve pocket.

    Looking around again, there remained a complete lack of attention to him, but he continued to hold his breath until his shift was over, and he had stepped out of the bridge. He was making his way towards the mess hall for dinner with the other cadets when a pair of hands seized his arm and forced him into a dark crawlspace of the corridor. For the split moment that it took to pull him in, Katin was sure he had been made. It was over. he would tried and found guilty of sabotage, and be executed as a traitor. But then a pair of lips pressed themselves into his, and stayed there for a long minute.

    "I've been waiting to do that all week," Kaila said when she finally split away from him.

    "Did you have to go all cloak and dagger like that?" he asked playfully.

    "You know how some senior officers are about public displays of affection while on duty," she reasoned, then pressed herself against him, smiling with mischief. "Plus, this is more fun."

    They kissed again, and some of Katin's tension over what he had just done went away. He knew it was a bad idea to be getting involved with someone who was completely loyal to the Empire , when he was fighting against it from within, but he couldn't help feeling a stronger bond with her the more time passed.

    Once they finally made their way to the mess hall together they made sure to return a proper professional tone. When exchanging quick smiles before stepping into the mess hall Katin looked ahead to the eventual future, where they would be on opposites sides of this war. I'm sorry Kaila, but you and I are doomed.
     
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  19. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 9, 2000
    Way to go, Vaila! And Luke to the rescue! (of course!) :xwing: She'll have some explaining to do to Aya, and what will happen to Tusa, who is left behind?

    And as for Katin, he is playing a dangerous game. Kaila crushing on him is only increasing the chance that he will be found out. And when he is reunited with Vail and she finds out, things will ramp up quite a lot!
     
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  20. FORCEBlLADE

    FORCEBlLADE Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Chapter Fourteen

    "All fighters, move in."

    Vaila stayed in formation with her two wingmates, Mas and Ely, as the entire squadron dropped down towards the compound at the top of the mountain. She and Mas followed Ely towards their intended targets, the defense turrets on the west of the facility's exterior, which began firing as soon as they came out of the cover of the heavy clouds.

    "Stay tight, guys," Ely instructed.

    The three had flown together long enough now to form an instinctive movement as wingmates. They flew close enough together to be able to see each other from their cockpits, but without the worry of crashing into one another. As the defense turrets fired at them, each took a turn delivering a small rain of return shots that took out two turrets a piece. Mas couldn't hold in a victorious cheer.

    Ely's fighter, however, took a it t its nose one the final shot that turret was able to fire before being taken out.

    "Are you alright?" Vaila asked.

    "Nothing to worry about."

    Behind her cockpit, Vaila's astromech droid gave a warning that showed on the fighter's translator. She cursed under her breath. "Guys, have your sensors picked this up?"

    "Yeah, we see it," Ely confirmed. "Enemy fighters on approach."

    It was to be expected, seeing as how they were attacking an imperial ship construction facility, but they were all still hoping for a fast enough hit-and-run operation that a fighter-on-fighter battle could be avoided.

    "All fighters, stay in your formations," Luke ordered. "Move against the enemy fighters, but hit the facility when you get the chance."

    Everyone gave their confirmations and moved to meet against the nearly three dozen TIE fighters that had come out of one of the hangars.

    While angled with the ground at her side for a moment, Vaila took a quick below of the damage they were able to put on the facility, and saw that all the defense turrets had been taken out of commission, so at least they didn't need to worry about those while also dealing with the TIEs.

    Heavy laser showered into them, so Vaila had her droid put her forward shield at full power, which thankfully gave much needed protection, as a handful of shots that would've done some serious damage instead merely shook her repeatedly. To her left Mas wasn't as lucky, a cloud of smoke erupted from foot of one of his wings.

    "Mas! Are you alright?"

    "Nothing I can't fix later. stay focused on th-"

    The rest of his assurance was cut off by laser fire hitting him from behind at the very same spot his wing had already taken damage. Both wings to that side broke away, and so Mas dropped into a mad spin until he hit the ground.

    No time for grief. Stay focused, like he was probably about to tell you.

    She stayed beside Ely and they moved against a trio of TIEs that were in the same tight formation as them and too turns firing, but she and Ely then split avoiding the shot and made turns so that they could come up on their sides and fired on them. One issue Vaila had always had with these TIE designs was the weak shields they were given as a sacrifice for faster maneuver capabilities. Now she was grateful for that horrid flaw. It only took a few shots from both her and Ely to take all three fighters out.

    "That was for Mas," Ely declared. She nodded.

    They came back together and had the facility right ahead of them. There were already a few columns of smoke and collapsed sections from Rebel pilots that had already taken shot at it, so now it was their turn.

    "Right into the hangar," Ely ordered.

    She could see the wide open hangar dead ahead and smiled as she fired two proton torpedoes, alongside a pair of his own. All four made it inside and delivered a firestorm on the inside.

    "Let's circle around for another hit."

    As they were doing that Vaila looked through her window over to Ely, they were close that she could see him smiling back to her and then saluting a job well done so far.

    Then a warning came from her panel of an incoming projectile, a missile, being fired from below. Probably by a foot soldier with a missile launcher. "Ely, you need to get out of here. You took too much of a bad hit."

    But Vaila looked back out her window just in time to see the tail of his fighter get hit by the missile, destroying his thrusters. His fighter was only just starting to fall when shots from an oncoming TIE blew it to pieces. Vaila could only watch as Ely disappeared in a ball of fire. The TIE fighter that delivered the overkilling blow screamed passed behind her. She turned her gaze to the other side, tracking it until it molded into a larger group. She wanted to go after all of them, but there was no time for personal vendetta. There was still a mission to finish.

    She came up over the facility again, dropped a long rain of laser fire that collapsed good portions of the roof, and even caused an large explosion that she guessed happened when some fuel tanks right below were hit. When she was done with her second run, there wasn't much of the roof that was left standing, and an uncontrollable fire was fast spreading on the inside.

    A few minutes later, it was all over. The few remaining Imperial fighters retreated to parts unknown, and the construction facility was in utter ruins.

    The Rebels had lost four pilots, though. People Vaila had gotten to know them all well and come to call friends, especially Ely and Mas. Now they were gone. But you were fool if you didn't expect to lose people when you were in a war.

    "Let's head home, guys," Luke commanded. Everyone formed up behind him to follow him out of the planet and into lightspeed.

    They met back up with a Mon Calamari cruiser where they had been stationed at for a few weeks now. She one was one of the last ones to dock inside, and the very last one to come out of her fighter, as she took a minute to remember Ely and Mas;sharing a few laughs together in this very hangar only a few hours ago, before setting off on their mission. They had both been good guys, who believed in the Rebellion's cause like most others here. Now they had died for it.

    When she finally climbed down from her X-Wing, another pilot from the assault, Amis was already waiting for her at the bottom of the ladder. "I'm sorry about Ely and Mas. I know the three of you had gotten close."

    "It's not the first time we've lost people, Amis. And it won't be the last time either."

    He nodded, then pointed over to the others who were gathered by the hangar doors. "Skywalker went to give his report. The rest of us are all putting some shine together and relaxing. Toast to everyone we lost. Are you in?"

    She shook her head after removing her helmet and letting her hair drop loose. "I don't feel like getting drunk tonight. You guys go ahead."

    "Well - if you want some company, I can hang with you."

    She gave him a grateful smile, but once again shook her head. "I'd rather be alone."

    "Are you sure?"

    "Yeah, I'll see you later."

    Amis walked back to the group without another word, but he was obviously disappointed. Not so much that she was blowing the group off, but specifically blowing him off. She felt bad about it, especially sense she had clearly given him false hope about something starting between the two of them, after that one night of having a few too many drinks and him telling her a couple of times that's she was a pretty sight. It had been fun, for sure, but Vaila had no romantic interest in him.

    For one, the war left little time for dating, and two, while she had made peace with Misael's death she still felt no longing desire to open her heart again anytime soon. Katin would've probably suggested she throw the pour guy a bone, which made her laugh. Knowing him, there were probably a small group of Imperial cadet girls who were damming his name after he never called them back.

    She went to her small assigned bunk in the cruiser, stripped down to her thin undergarments on a count of the summer warm temperature the Mon Calamari ships were kept in due to the water species' biology.

    It was still hard to believe where she was sometimes. To think nearly two-and-a-half years ago her ambition was to join the Imperial Royal Academy, enlist in the Navy, and fight the Rebel forces. Now she was a pilot for the Rebel Alliance instead, fighting against the Imperial rule that she no longer believed in.

    When the Rebellion had arrived and saved them on Enoob, she was grateful to Luke Skywalker and his squadron, but it wasn't until after a few days of rounding up the remaining Imperial forces in the city and sending them packing that Vaila even considered joining them. After her daring rescue mission of Aya and the others aboard the shuttle she helped with clearing the city of Imperial forces, knowing protocols and tactics thanks to her military upbringing.

    It wasn't until they were getting ready to leave that Luke invited her to join. She had hesitated, not having fully accepted the Rebel Alliance as the righteous side of this war, but after having a long conversation with Luke, learning about the tragic events leading up to his joining the Rebellion, and seeing what they were about: restoring a freedom and fairness that the Empire was stomping on it, she made another life-altering choice and left her second home.

    Aya and Tusa threw her a goodbye party, where all the rescued prisoners from the shuttle came to give her their thanks and wish her the best. At the end of the day, she left with Luke's team and became a pilot for Rebel Alliance.

    In the battles she had been a part of, and the comrades that were lost, she wondered if she would live long enough to come face-to-face with her family again. She had nightmares about it. Her parents and siblings all calling her a traitor and Rebel scum. Demanding to know how she could betray the Empire. Betray their family? If that day were to ever come, it was going to be anything but a joyful reunion.

    She also wondered about Katin, and how he was fairing at the Academy. No question his family would expect him to join the ranks as soon as he graduated, and sense they had already strong-armed him into joining the Academy, he might not be able to resist their demands for him to enlist. Vaila saw that as another reason to fight. For her friend who was trapped in an order he wanted no part in. With any luck they could beat the Empire and end this war before Katin had to put on any kind of uniform, pick up a blaster, or set foot on a warship.

    Just hang on, Katin.

    She fell asleep thinking that.
     
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  21. FORCEBlLADE

    FORCEBlLADE Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Chapter Fifteen

    "You've got one on your tail, Lerus."

    "I see him."

    The enemy ship was right behind and began firing; several light blue shots flew right above him. To his right his wingmate wasn't so lucky. One of the stun bolts clearly meant for him went astray and clipped his wing, which was enough to stop the TIE fighter dead, leaving it to float adrift in space. That's both my wingmates now. He was on his own, but so was his competition.

    No matter how he maneuvered, though, he wasn't able to come around to face him or loose him. The pilot was sticking to him like a tractor beam. That left him with one move he could try. He slowed down so that his attacker would close in, but before the killing shot could be fired Katin hit the reverse thrusters, shooting him back towards the fighter,-

    - but before they collided he put his fighter on a swing that took him beneath the other fighter and set Katin right behind it, reversing the roles of predator and prey. Katin wasted no time in hitting the other fighter with a stun bolt that immobilized it.

    From his helmet's intercom a voice called, "Training session over. Dock back with the Highlander, cadet Lerus."

    From nearby came the Imperial cruiser that had been watching the entire training session. Katin docked back into its hangar while the remaining immobile TIE was pulled in via tractor beam. His training officer, along with the ten other cadets who had started off with him in the sessions, was waiting for them on the deck.

    "Well done, cadet Lerus," the commander said. "A risky move there in the end. Some pilots wouldn't have been able to avoid collision with such a small window."

    "Practice makes perfect, sir."

    "That's full marks for you, today. You're securing a top rank in your class this year. All signs point to you having a bright future in the Imperial Navy." He turned to the rest of the group. "As for the rest, a complete list of marks for today will be posted in the next hour. You are dismissed."

    The commander walked off, leaving the cadets to take their turns giving Katin a pad on the back and job well-done. Katin took a lot of joy from the moment - and then chastised himself for feeling so much pride. Being a promising pilot in training would otherwise be a cause for celebration, if it weren't a dictatorship government. Now that he was at the tail end of his second year at the academy he was becoming nervous about what he would do once he graduated by the end of the next year.

    Join the service? Not unless he was fine with abandoning all sense of morality, but not joining would arouse suspicion from all sides. He thought of Vaila and smart she had been to run before getting pulled in too far. How he wished she had asked him to leave with her sometimes. Not that he would've likely had the courage to go.

    Once the crowd of cadets cleared away the pilot from the last enemy fighter approached him, removing her helmet, revealing herself to be Kaila. "You could've killed us both with that little stunt."

    "Are you angry I did it, or angry that it works?" he teased.

    Her frown slowly morphed into a smile. "You're lucky you're cute."

    They walked out of the hangar together as the cruiser made a quick jump back to Coruscant from the outer system.

    "You know Vaila would be proud of you, right?"

    The note of sorrow in her voice when she said her sister's name made him flinch. In the near two years since she disappeared her family had come to the quiet acceptance that she was lost forever, and though it was in a sense true, Katin was the sole person to know that Vaila was gone of her own accord. Just another reason as why Katin knew he shouldn't have become involved with Kaila. All the secrets he was keeping didn't make for a healthy relationship, but he wouldn't still be seeing her of he didn't love her. Which he did.

    And that only made this whole situation worse. Despite his belief in going against the Empire, knowingly setting someone up to break their heart was still horrible thing. One day, when the whole truth finally came out, that adoring smile she gave him would became a vengeance sneer. All he could do now was enjoy the smile while he still could.

    They were stepping out of a shuttle onto the academy's docking bay when she told him, "So my dad says the investigation into the investigation the Purifier sabotage has gone completely cold,"

    "I thought they still had some leads."

    She gave him a frown. "Come on. It's been almost a year since that virus attack and there's been no arrests. Intelligence was scratching their heads right form the start. Your brother hasn't told you any of this?"

    "We . . .don't talk about his work."

    Her frown became a frustrated growl. "Well, it's a real shame. After what was done to that ship, and nightmare the crew went through - to not have anyone brought to justice. To think, we were aboard that ship just a week before it was sabotaged."

    With his hands clasped together behind his back, Katin covertly scratched at his palms with his finger nails. It was starting to become a bad habit, but it was also too hard to resist with continued stress of the secrets he was keeping. Even after nearly a year passing since the Purifier's cyber attack by his hands he still froze terror anytime a pair of stormtroopers would approach him or someone in his or Kaila's family called to him in a suspecting tone.

    Barten's virus did as he promised it would. In a matter of days, everyone aboard the Star Destroyer was going haywire. Eventually, the entire crew was evacuated and the ship sent to have a complete systems cleanup and rebuild. The sabotage had resulted in multiple injuries, and one fatality when an airlock opened, pulling out a passing stormtrooper. Katin was still seeing his cold corpse floating in space when he slept sometimes.

    "I guess this was a win for the Rebels then," he said with a convincing expression of bitterness.

    Kaila gave a genuine sneer in return. "No matter how many cells we bust and sympathizers we round up, they're still running around, causing problems - and right here, in our capital. One more year, and we'll be part of the fight. I' sure if I ask my dad he can grease the wheels to have us both assigned to the First Fleet that's searching for the Rebel base. It will be a dream come true to be a part of seeing them all burn to the round."

    The way she talked about this showed a hint of bloodlust that put Katin off. It even sacred him a little. Seeing that the girl he loved showed such coldness to people whom she didn't know anything about, accept for what the Imperial propaganda said. It was heartbreaking more than anything else. Which made it even more understandable why her sister left. To see the family she loved cheer and contribute to an oppressive regime. While he would say loved his family, they just never shared the closeness that Mosney clan obviously had. At home, during a regular family dinner they were no different than most other families. But once Imperial ideologies came into play none, except for Vaila, seemed to have any qualms about what the Empire was doing to the Rebel Alliance. as well anyone who gave any expression of distaste for the Empire in any way. He had seen it their crude comments about people being arrested for holding a protest, or nods of approval when an entire settlement in a backwater world was put under marshal law on the grounds of flaky evidence if Rebel presence.

    Kaila was an Imperialist, through-and-through. There was no question about how this relationship would end.

    And it could be coming soon. Before leaving for the training session this morning Barten had sent Katin an encoded message about their group meeting for their next mission: Leaving Coruscant, and joining up with the Rebellion.
     
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  22. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 9, 2000
    The sooner Katin gets out the better! I have a horrible feeling that the final confrontation with Kaila is coming. And I'm a bit worried about Barten; not at all sure that this escape will go smoothly!

    Still... I can hope for happy endings & that Katin & Vaila can be reunited soon!
     
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  23. FORCEBlLADE

    FORCEBlLADE Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Chapter Sixteen

    Drabi's wasn't the same place it used to be only a few years ago, like the rest of the neighborhood. Patrols of stormtroopers were coming through by the hour now. Wanted notices were being played on screens around the clock. Then there were the curfew that was enforced with brutality if broken.

    Yet, it was probably still the safest place for Barten, Katin, and all of their friends to meet. Everyone arrived separately, coming within minutes of each other. Katin and the other cadets arriving in civilian clothes that they changed into after leaving the Academy.

    "Hot cafs all around?" Nura asked once they were all seated around the three tables that they pushed together.

    "Yes, thanks Nura," Barten said smiling.

    Once she stepped back inside Katin's roommate whispered, "So what's the news on making contact?"

    Sitting beside him, Barten's friend and fellow slicer, an Ithorian named Ossinian, answered in an even quieter voice, "We've connected with them, and they've confirmed our pickup."

    By "them" they meant the Rebellion. Barten and his group had been making efforts to get a direct line to Rebel Alliance, which wasn't easy considering they were being hunted down by the entire Imperial Navy. But after nearly a years of following virtual bread crumbs and even piggy backing off of a few scuffles that the Empire's forces have had with them, they had finally made contact with the rebel leaders, which included Mon Mothma herself.

    "So, this is happening?" Aysa said in a bit of disbelief. "We're joining up with them?"

    "Only if we can hold up our end of this," Barten reminds her.

    It was a big risk, after all, for the Rebellion to send men right into the heart of the Empire's control, even covertly, just to pick up a small group of newcomers. So they needed some incentive, and Barten where to get some.

    "I still don't know about this," another slicer, Uma, admitted. She had barely escaped the raid on their hideout the year before, being left with a blaster wound on her lower back as a souvenir. "I mean slicing into Imperial archives is always risky but to do it right from inside the Emperor's palace, of all places."

    "We've been through this, Uma," Barten pointed out. "He's keeping his most sensitive information pretty close to the belt. There are hard drives in there that can only be accessed by plugging in directly to them. It's the kind of intel that the Rebellion is willing to sneak into Coruscant for."

    A moment of agreeing nods followed. "So, we're all in agreement. We make a move for the archives the night of the ball."

    "You know once you steal hat intel, everyone who is going to be in the palace that night will be looked at as a suspect," Mokley pointed out. "The second those archives are broken into we'll be sitting on a ticking clock"

    "That's why as soon Barten has gotten that intel we signal our new friends for a pickup," Ossinian explained. "We'll be gone by that next morning."

    "So we say our goodbyes before the ball," Mokley instructed. "Once we're gone, we're gone. We may never see this planet again."

    It was weird to think about, leaving Coruscant forever. Like Katin and his slicer friends, Barten was born and raised here. It was the only home he had never known. He had come from a working class family after all, so travelling off world was never something that was in the budget. Space travel was something he would have to get sued to, he supposed, seeing as how he would be joining in with people who were constantly on the move from one corner of the galaxy to the next.

    "If you think the Salmis will beat the Cyclones by that high a rank, you're dreaming, buddy," Katin suddenly spat out loud.

    From behind Barten a pair of stormtrooper walked passed them, both giving the group quick glances.

    "Cyclones are overrated," Barten in a radical manner. "Sorry to have to disappoint you, buddy, but their defense line has gone to hell."

    Systematically, the entire group got into an argument about the two sports for a good minute until he pair of stormtroopers finally disappeared down the street.

    "A shame we're abandoning this little underground resistance," Barten told everyone. "I feel like we've all gotten pretty good at acting like loyal little Imperialists."

    "All shows must come to an end," Katin said only half serious, letting himself smirk a little.

    ----------

    The small clump of ice hit her right in the face as she was walking across the hangar. "Seriously, I thought this whole structure was supposed to be stable."

    The hangar wasn't of your typical construction - but of course, the entire rebel base itself wasn't of your typical construction. For their base a series of caves in the ice planet of Hoth was chosen. So that meant having to endure an unforgiving winter environment that someone like Vaila wasn't used to, having grown up in a weather-dominated Coruscant.

    She looked up at the ice-rock ceiling high above and figured at least it had been a small, harmless, drop rather than a large chunk that would've cracked open her skull. As she continued down the hangar Vaila looked for the small Naboo cruiser that General Rieekan was waiting for her at. She had just come back from patrolling the territory on taun taun when word reached her that the general had an off-world assignment from her.

    In the all the time that she had been with the Rebellion she had never given specifically chosen for a mission. Not that she was ever looking to stand above others in some special way. Flying with the Rogues, under Luke, felt like she was doing her part.

    Finally, she found the cruiser near the hangar entrance. General Rieekan was waiting at the foot of the open ramp, and so was Amis.

    "General, you asked for me?"

    "Yes, I have a special assignment for the two of you."

    "What assignment, sir?" Amis asked.

    "The two of you will be taking this cruiser to the Halbar system."

    Vaila and Amis exchanged alarmed glances, for understandable reasons. Halbar was but less than a parsec away from Coruscant. Suddenly, Vaila didn't feel so lucky about being singled out for a special mission.

    "You will wait right at the edge of the system for a signal to jump into over to the capital and sneak passed the fleet, into the planet."

    She stared at the general a little bewildered. If there was ever a suicide mission for the Rebellion to undertake, it was this.

    "General, what could possibly cause us to undertake a mission like this?" Amis asked for the both of them.

    "We've been in contact with a resistance movement in the capital, and they're on the verge of stealing high level intelligence from the archive of the Emperor's palace himself," he explained.

    Scrap that. What this resistance group was planning was the ultimate suicide mission. The Imperial palace was the most heavily guarded building in the entire planet. What chance could they possibly have of getting in and out without being caught? These people were bold; she would give them that.

    "As soon as they have the data they will send a message to your ship on a secure line, and you move into the system." Rieekan waved up to the ship above them. "This cruiser was modified for infiltration and stealth. The sensors are specially programmed to find blind spots in fleet defenses that you can sneak through. The resistance group will also be sending you a rendezvous point. If their signal doesn't come within a day, assume their mission a failure ad return to us here. Any questions?"

    Vaila nodded. "Yes, sir. Why have we been chosen for this mission?"

    "Mister Assal has had some experience in infiltrating Imperial-occupied worlds - and you, Miss Mosney, are in fact native to Coruscant. You know some of the area, which may come in handy."

    "Yes, General. Understood."

    "It's almost sundown, and we'll be closing down the base soon. So you are to leave, immediately. May the Force be with you."

    They both saluted and watched him leave before stepping inside the cruiser. At the cockpit, they quietly made pre-flight checks, and then asked for clearance to take off from flight control, which they received."

    "Can't say I'm sad to be taking a vacation from this place," Amis said cheerfully as they rose up into the air. "This ice ball has been the worst place to hide out in so far."

    "No one said joining the Rebel Alliance meant travelling the most popular hot spots in the galaxy," Vaila pointed out grinning.

    On the inside, though, she was panicking. "After two an a half years away from home, she might actually be setting foot back on there. How close might she end up getting to her family, to Katin, anyone from that old life? She was afraid to find out. All the better that she slip in and out like a ghost, like she was meant to. They would never know she had been nearby, alive. Some might call it cruel, but these were the choices she made when turning away from everything they had expected her to believe in."

    "And we're off," Amis announced. The darkening Hoth sky came to view, soon becoming the distant lights of space. Vaila took a deep long breath as they stretched out into the tunnel of hyperspace.
     
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  24. FORCEBlLADE

    FORCEBlLADE Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Chapter Seventeen

    The ball at the Emperor's palace was as glamourous and high-end as Katin has always heard them to be. It was also a list of who's whos. Regional governors, admirals, captains, and influential figures from the entire planet had gathered, along with all the senior cadets.

    Standing beside Kaila, he was wearing a suit that his father had gotten him for the occasion. Kaila as earing a snow blue dress that ran all the way up to the top of her neck, with her hair braided into a long, twisting, ponytail. She was an absolute beauty, which made it all the more heart-wrenching that this would be the last night they would be together. Because as soon his group had robbed the palace archives for everything it had, they would signal the Alliance to rendezvous with them, and they were gone.

    He could hardly believe that this day as here. A part of him was still waiting to wake up from this crazy dream.

    "Look, there's Governor Slynt." She pointed out across the dance floor, to here the old man as talking to a group of male cadets, including Dalvin.

    "I wonder which one of them he's hitting on," Kaila pondered.

    "Probably just throwing himself onto all of them and see who catches the bait," a said practically barfing his lunch from earlier.

    Close by the governor, Barten was offering a tray of drinks to a different group. How his friend had managed to covertly sneak in as part of the service staff, he wouldn't say, but Katin had never seen him this well dressed and groomed. They made eye contact long enough for Katin to slightly nod over to Slynt, to which he nodded. In turn, Barten made eye contact with Dalvin, who then immediately made a misstep, causing him to tumble forward onto he governor, spilling his drink onto his shoes.

    Kaila, who also saw this, remarked, "Maybe Dalvin has already gotten a little too tipsy."

    "Or it might just be his nerves."

    "Either way, spilling a drink on a regional governor isn't a good first impression. Especially when you're months away from joining the navy."

    Not going to be an issue.

    After Dalvin repeatedly apologized to Slynt, the governor excused himself and disappeared. Aysa then walked past Dalvin, and though Katin tried to spot it, he wasn't able to catch the quick passing of governor Slynt's code cylinder that Dalvin was able to switch out with a copy during their accidental close encounter. This as a good thing, sense the whole point as to not be noticed.

    Aysa then approached Barten, set an empty glass on his tray, while also passing along the cylinder. He and Katin eyed each other, again, making that his cue. "I'll be back in a little bit. I've had one too many drinks."

    Kaila frowned. "You've only had one."

    "Hey, you know my small bladder." he kissed her and walked away before she could question him any further. He stopped to give her a long glance before continuing on. He followed Barten left the ballroom a little ways behind, as they reached the refresher Mik and Hasi stepped out, nodding to them both. Katin casual stepped inside the refresher and then into the stall at the very, next to the one where Barten had already stepped into.

    Hanging from the door, folded and rapped in plastic was a lieutenant's uniform that he quickly unwrapped, and changed into. Folding and wrapping his suit up in the plastic. He and Barten stepped out of the refresher in their identical uniforms, tossed their old clothes in the trash on their way out of the refresher and started down a corridor that led away from the ballroom.

    There were the occasional stormtroopers posted at certain checkpoints, but they gave them nothing but quick glances. Katin couldn't believe this was actually working. The further they went into this palace, the more he noticed how different in architecture and design this place was. He said as much to Barten.

    "Well, considering who this palace used to belong to, it figures they'd stamp their own image into it," he commented.

    "Who did this palace belong to?"

    Barten frowned a little in disappointed that he didn't know. "The Jedi. This was their temple for over a whole millennia."

    Now Katin was really intrigued by this place. The secrets it might hold about the supposed religious zealots. No question now that the Empire probably altered at least some of their history as part of the pro-Imperial propaganda.

    "Here." They reached a large doorway that as closed and guarded by two Imperial Guards. Even from a holo of them standing on either side of the Emperor they always gave Katin the creeps. No in person, they made his insides crawl, but he kept his composure. Barten coolly stepped up to the door console, unclipped Slynt's stolen code cylinder from the chest of his uniform and inserted into the socket.

    For a few seconds, nothing happened, and Katin could feel himself starting to break in sweat. If that cylinder didn't give them access to the archives these guards were probably authorized to strike them down right there and then, without question.

    But, thankfully, the doors opened and the guards didn't so much as flinch in the entire minute. So the two of them stepped inside the archives without resistance.

    Katin had been in libraries before, but nothing like this. There was probably information here about every known planet, species, space lanes, ships, and so on going centuries back. What was important, right now, though was finding the Empire's dirty laundry. Barten took a seat at the nearest terminal and went right to work, while Katin stood over him, scanning all around for any approaching trouble.

    Although Barten had intended to sneak into the archives alone, Katin insisted on coming along, inn case things went south. Barten as a lot of admirable things, but a trained soldier wasn't one of them. So if it came to having to fight their way out, it was best someone else went along. Of course, considering this was the Emperor's palace, and there was a small army of trained probably seasoned troops between the archives and any exit, their chances of actually fighting their at out would be pretty slim. So they had every hope that it wouldn't come to that.

    "Okay, I just need a few more minutes to crack through these security walls, and I'm in their most secured files."

    "No need to worry," Katin assured him. "There is absolutely no rush."

    Barten took a second to look around the place. "I sure wish I could look through everything they have here, but that would probably take me two whole lifetimes."

    "A shame you'll never get to set foot in here ever again."

    "Maybe after the war is over, I'll go see if those rumors about great libraries of Minuroid are real."

    Katin laughed at the thought of this ending. Not at the idea that it wouldn't end, but of how exactly it might end. What if the Empire won and all their efforts right now and moving forward were for nothing? But then what if the Rebel Alliance actually did win? What would the galaxy look like then? Would it actually be better than how they had things now?

    "I'm in," Barten announced. He pulled out a data disk that he inserted into the terminal's slot. "All these files are encoded. It will take me a while to decrypt it all, but we've got it."

    Neither of them could withhold a smile, or resist having a high-five. It took a few minuets for everything to upload into the disk. As soon it as done and he took it out of the terminal, Barten jumped off his seat. Before opening the doors, they straightened out and resumed a professional demeanor. Once they left the archives, and were clear of the guards' view, Katin clicked on his comlink, signaling the others that the mission was done and it was time to go.

    They past the ballroom, and Katin felt the urge to say goodbye to Kaila one last time, but shook it off. He had said his goodbye, albeit not in the manner he would've liked. Though if he had made it out to seem like anything more than a 'I'll see you in a few minutes goodbye', she might've become suspicious. he had left her and his family a long letter back home, under his pillow, where they were bound to find it, explaining why he was leaving.

    She would hate him. They would all hate him. Yet, he knew that in the long he would be able to live with that rather than living with a tainted conscience. The Empire would see to it that their atrocities would be his atrocities. So it was either leave now, or endure those expectation of renouncing your better principals, and Katin couldn't do that. Not even in the name being with his family, or Kaila.

    So he walked with Barten right out of the palace, into a landing platform where the others ere already waiting inside a large speeder. The two of them dove into the back seat and they took off.

    "We signaled the others at the rendezvous point," Aysa told them from up front. Barten's team of slicers were already waiting for them there, and now that they got the signal that they were coming, they in turn sent the call out to the Alliance ship that was waiting just outside of the system to come pick them up.

    "We're actually doing this," Mik proclaimed. "We're actually leaving!'

    There was a cry of cheer in the speeder. An atmosphere of excitement for what was to come. They had all been living in fear for lives over two years now. Wondering when they would be discovered as Rebel sympathizers, but now they were leaving, and despite knowing they were joining a resistance force on the constant run from the Empire was still a sense of freedom in shedding their facades of Imperial loyalty.

    "So long, Coruscant," Hasi said from the driver's seat. "You were too loud for my taste, anyways."

    "One thing I am going to miss is those personal cakes from the Kamara bakeries," Mokley said, receiving a unified agreement from the others.

    Katin then remembered something, "You know, there is one of those bakeries two blocks away from the rendezvous point. You guys could drop me off and I could walk the rest of the way, and have some to-go sweets for us."

    "No way," Barten groaned. "We need to be out of here as soon that Rebel ship gets here. No delays. We can't take any chances that the Empire hasn't already discovered that the archives ere broken into."

    "We have a fixed time table," Jal pointed out. "Katin will have time to grab some of those cakes and catch up to us before that ship arrives. Like he said. Just to blocks away."

    Everyone gave Barten their best begging faces, and it only took Barten a roll of eyes and a sigh to relent. "Fine, but if there's a line, don't bother, and if there isn't, get me a kalabar for me to wash off that cake."

    "Same here."

    "One for me, too."

    "Make that four."

    Now it was Katin's turn to sigh. Well, he did offer, and sense they were leaving everything they knew behind for a life of uncertain hiding and fighting, they might as well get the opportunity for the last serving of some of the galaxy's most delicious sweets that they might be having for a while. The unknown was ahead of them.

    I'm finally following for lead, Vaila.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2018
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  25. FORCEBlLADE

    FORCEBlLADE Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Chapter Eighteen

    After dropping Katin off, they arrived at a small private hangar, that was owned by a company, but was unused and abandoned. Barten's friends were already there, and had sent the Alliance the signal to come and get them. So now all they needed to do was wait.

    In the meantime, Barten was already working on the files he pulled from the archives. It would take him and his team a while to break through all the encryptions, but it would be worth it, if they discovered all the Empire's secrets. Especially if one of those secrets was what he had been suspecting for a while.

    In the last year, he had been hearing chatter about heavy amounts of construction material, power sources, armory development being put together ever sense the star of the war. Also, vague reports of Imperial occupations of out of the way, backwater, worlds for the sole purpose of rounding up slave force, under the radar. All these small details told him that the Empire was working on something big and powerful, and considering the timing of when it started, there was one conclusion that he kept coming to, about what they were building, again.

    But before he started voicing this possibility, he needed to get more concrete proof, and hopefully that proof was in these records.

    "A shame we can't just take that ship," Aysa suggested, pointing to a small freighter at the corner of the small freighter.

    "Checked it when we first found this place," Ossinian said. "No hyperdrive, engine is nothing but rusted metal. This hangar is its tomb."

    "Hope Katin gets here before the Alliance ship does," Mik said, pacing. He was nervous; everyone was. Aysa was biting her nails. Uma was hugging herself, Mokley couldn't settle whether to stay sitting on a work bench, or to stay standing.

    It was one thing to talk about leaving one life behind for another, even planning for it, but to actually go through with it. Barten wondered if once the that ship got here, some of them might change their minds about going.

    In Barten's case, he was absolutely sure about this. Yes, he would miss his home, and his family; his little brother in particular, but this was the right thing to do for himself. He couldn't stand being in the heart of this horrific Empire for one more day. The Rebel Alliance was out there, fighting the good fight, and he wanted to be a part of it, in any way he could be.

    And tonight, that would begin.

    "Hey, look alive," Mokley declared, pointing to the hangar doors, where some heavy lights could be seen through the windows. "That must be them."

    ----------

    Even before leaving the bakery, Katin had already finished his own, and was tempted to eat someone else's, but resisted the desire. As made his way to the hangar he looked around at the city that he had called home his entirely, for what might very well be the last time. How much of his upbringing could he really remember, though?
    His childhood had been one of competition with his brother for their father's affection and approval -of which Aeryn almost always won. It wasn't until these last few years, as he excelled at the academy, that his father finally began treating Katin with some degree of respect and love. If he stayed, his family's continued approval would only come as long as he showed loyalty to the Empire, despite its undeniable ruthlessness.

    In any case, Katin had also come to finally realize that he should've had to earn his family's love. It should've just been given from the moment he was born. Vaila had good reasons to distance herself from her family, but in truth she couldn't claim to have grown up in a home where she was denied that love for any reasons.

    To some small degree, he would miss. His mother the most/ If anything, she at least showed understanding and tolerance for his opinions and frustrations.

    If he ever had kids, his love for them would come with no terms of any kind. It would be theirs, however much he had to give.

    Finally turning the corner to the street, where the hangar was dead ahead, he saw that a ship was closing in on the doors. He was relieved to not have missed the Alliance ship - but only for the microsecond that it took him to realize that, that was actually an Imperial patrol transport. It fired several laser shots that blew open the hangar doors, and the two pairs of missiles that immediately followed ignited the inside into a concussion of fire.

    Dropping the box of pastries, Katin turned an ducked his head to avoid being blinded by the sudden explosion of light. When he turned to look back at the hangar, there was little left of it, except for some of the walls and a corner of the ceiling.

    "Noooo!"

    A different light suddenly came upon him, coming from the patron transport. "Freeze!" a magnified voice ordered from within. "Don't move! You are under arrest!"

    But Katin barely registered what he was being told. All he coukd d was stare at the fiery remains of the hangar where all of his friends were - or had been. Dalvin, Aya, Barten . . . they were all gone. Unless maybe they had stopped somewhere else. Or they could've gotten out before the hangar was fired on. But the longer he looked at the its remains, the quicker that hope diminished.

    From the transport, a squad of stormtroopers stepped out, led by an officer. "Hello, Katin." It was Admiral Mosney. Of all the people it could've been, of course it would be Kaila's father. Even with the multiple blasters now pointed at hi Katin thought to run, but instead remained right where he was.

    "You two, stay with me," Admiral Mosney told the pair of soldiers right behind him. "The rest of you. Check for bodies. If there are nay survivors, kill them."

    They broke away and marched into what now remained of the hangar, while the remaining two and Mosney walked over to him.

    "I'm actually glad to see you weren't in there, Katin," Kaila's father said with total discontent, as if confronting some random stranger. He had to be holding down some boiling hot rage. Anyone in his shoes would, when confronting his daughter's boyfriend for betraying them.

    "You and your friends covered your tracks better than others," he told him, glancing over to the hangar, "but eventually, we always finds the rats within our own walls. You weren't as covert tonight as you might've thought. Now, whatever plans you had for those records you stole from the Emperor's palace won't be working out."

    He stared at Katin, maybe waiting for some kind of response, but he had none. He only stood there, at a loss for how everything he and his team of wannabe rebels had failed miserably. All their bravery, planning, and efforts had been for nothing. Now, here he stood, all alone. he did nothing to hold in his tears, allowing them to drip down his face.

    The squad returned from the ruins, and one reported, "Admiral, we've found ten bodies. No survivors."

    No. That was everyone. The confirmation only settled Katin's mind of what he already knew to be false hope.

    "Well then. You will be answering to the Empire on behalf of all of your friends, Katin." In one swift move, the admiral's fist came swinging from behind him, hammering into his gut. Katin dropped to his knees, coughing for breath. "To think, I was beginning to imagine giving you my blessing to take my daughter's hand, one day. Am I relieved that my family won't be tainted with your traitor's blood."

    No doubt, Kaila herself would have the opportunity to confront Katin about his betrayal. As would his parents, as well as his brother. So much for leaving it all in a letter.

    "Take him away," Admiral Mosney ordered.

    A strong hand pulled him up by the shoulder and shoved him towards the transport.

    "Sir, there's a ship approaching fro-"

    The sound of a missile being launched from behind them made Katin look up to see it as it flew right above them, and hit the cockpit of the transport. For the second time in five minutes, he turned away from an explosion, and also jumped away to avoid getting hurt sense he was so close. The two troopers escorting him also jumped away, dropping to the pavement, and one lost hold of his gun.

    As soon as Katin saw it on the pavement, up for grabs, he lunged for it, beating its owner, and clubbing him at the back of the neck with the butt of the handle, and pinning him down with the weight of his body. He then spun around and fired at the other one, who had been on the verge of shooting him. Only for the first trooper to start pushing him off, so Katin jump back up and kicked him on the same spot of his neck, knocking him out this time.

    The attacking ship, meanwhile was firing at the squad of stormtroopers, who fired back while also running for cover. Admiral Mosney, however, pulled out his own blaster and moved towards the ship. It's ramp dropped down, with somebody standing at the bottom, blaster in hand. Mosney began firing at this person, who backed up the ramp for cover, but also returned fire. Mosney dodged each shot with great reflexes, and while continuing to advance closing towards the ship. Katin followed.

    He reached the admiral just as he was coming within arms reach of the ramp, only for him to stop, dead in his tracks, seizing fire. "Vaila."

    With his arms hand, Katin came up behind Mosney, knocking him down with one swing to the back of the head. On the ramp, the shooter stepped back down from cover - revealing herself to be Vaila.

    Vaila. Who looked as shell shocked as he probably did to be seeing each other, again. She looked over to the soldiers, who were now advancing towards them. "Come on," she told him, putting out her hand.

    Not needing to be told twice, he jumped over her moaning father, and took her hand, letting, Vaila pull him up. Once they were inside, and the ramp was closed, Vaila yelled out, "Let's get out of here!"

    Whoever was manning the ship shot them out of there at top speed. Once they made to the bridge, they were already in space. The man flying took went quick look at Katin before focusing back on the blockade of Imperial ship ahead. "Welcome aboard. You might want to buckled up."

    Katin took a the spare seat at the corner. Vaila strapped into the second pilot's seat and started prepping for the ship's jump to lightspeed. "We should be ready to jump as soon as we're clear of the fleet."

    "Vaila, what are you doing here?" Katin asked, still in disbelief. "Are you with the Rebellion?"

    "That's kind of the same question," Vaila remarked, "The same answer being yes."

    "Wait, do you two know each other?" the other pilot asked.

    "We're old friends," Vaila explained.

    They were now moving through the fleet, and then an alarm went off. "let me guess: they're coming after us?" Katin figured.

    "No worries. We're almost home free."

    "Fighter moving in behind us," Vaila warned.

    "Almost there."

    "They're locking onto us. Rear shields at full power."

    "We're nearly free."

    Katin gripped onto a railing on the wall, and one of his seat's armrests with the other.

    "We're clear!"

    "Then we're gone!" Vaila declared, pulling the lever that sent the ship into hyperspace.

    ----------

    That was his daughter.

    Alaris Mosney hadn't moved away from where he had stopped in his advance on the attacking ship when he looked up and saw that the person whom he had been in a shooting match with was in fact his daughter. His beautiful Vai, whom he had given up all hope of ever seeing again.

    Only instead of pulling her into his arms and kissing every single inch of her face, he had to watch as she pulled that traitorous Katin aboard her ship and shot out of here, abandoning him once more.

    It was clear then that his eldest child was never kidnapped, or held hostage somewhere. She had left of her own volition. Not only that, but she had joined the very group of scum that her father was trying to help eradicate. She hadn't just abandoned her home and family. She had turned on them. She was a rebel.

    That was his daughter.
     
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