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Mar25,2016

PartOne:(Chapters15)
PartOneFinalDraftReleasePackage

StarWars
StarDestroyerCataclysm:Retribution

WrittenByDavidBissig
ChiefEditor&LeadAudioEngineerDeLanteCapers
AssistingEditors:AustinMcComb,JackParkinson,JesseCarozza,ThomasRoof

AKalasProject
&
ExpandingFrontsAudioVisualProduction

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AbouttheAuthor:DavidBissig

First off, I would like tothank you for taking the time toreadpartone
ofmy book. It is the productofmonthsofhardwork,manylongnights,and
lots of silly stories. I am currently a senior and History Major at Temple
University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For as long as I can remember,I
have loved Star Wars. Its truest power lies in its ability to serve as a
medium and a conduit betweenpeopleof all walks life and bring to fruition
stories, lessons, and legacies that would otherwise be impossible to tell.
Within every tale, there are heroes and villains alike, each confined to an
unlimited universe of potential, where our only guides are the limits to our
imaginationsandtheartofourcraft.
It is my hope, that in reading this, maybe someone else will be
inspired to take achanceon a project, a team, a vision, and bring it tolife.
One day,Iwould loveto be a story writer,or game designer,itmattersnot
solong asI am creating something. For now, Iwillfinishmyeducationand
my time serving in the United States Army Reserve as a Quartermaster
Officer,practicingandrefiningmyskills.
As much hard work as I put into making this story, it would not have
been possible without the help and support of my team, and my
editorinchief, Delante Capers. Betweenfindingthree letterwords spelled
wrong, or constructing and audio book from scratch, he has been the
shoeshinetothisbookspolishedfinish.Heisabitofaloosecannoninhis
ownright,butsometimesyouneedaguylikethataround.
Lastly, I would like to thankmywonderfulgirlfriendandfuturewifefor
her steadfastand unwavering support in allthings thatIdo,andconstantly
serving as a beacon of light inmylife.Hercontribution tothisbook comes
in the form of my creative abilities, which would not exist without her
unmatchedtalentsassheisthesourceofmyinspirations.

Email:
tuf26202@temple.edu
Facebook:
www.facebook.com/sdcataclysm

AbouttheEditor:DelanteCapers

In1862 a rift opened in the spacetime continuum. There, I wassent


to rectify the mistakes of mankind. Aftersinglehandedly uniting the States
and inventing the incandescent lightbulb, I decided to laze around for a
century and a half, until civilization once again needed me. They called
several times, especially around the 1940s because some Austrian sod
wasirritatingpeopleinEurope.Idontthinkitwasallthatimportant.
I spent a needlessly long time turning wrenches as an Army
watercraft mechanic, where I became the last soldier to ever obtain the
rank of Specialist. After singlehandedlydestroyingtheNewAxispowers,a
force consisting of the robotic legions of the recently resurrected Adolf
Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Genghis Khan, and Kim Jong Il, I decided to try my
hand at acting. I hijacked a shipment of dollarstore audio equipment and
set upshop, yelling into microphones for whateverlookedneat atthetime.
I eventually found my semipermanentcalling when a young excaucasian
Army cadet (David, aka DBizzle) asked me to teach him how to write.
Clearly, I hadnothing better going on, so I figured whynot.Iwaspromised
0.3%of the royalties from whatever he produced, which Icanonlyassume
isagooddeal.
WasIsupposedtotalkaboutthebook?Imnotsurehowmuchspace
Ivegotleftintheint

Email:capers.delante@gmail.com
Facebook:www.facebook.com/ExpandingFronts

It is a dangerous timefor the galaxy! Theforcesofevilconspirefrom


the shadows of the Unknown Regions to bring down the fledgling New
Republic. The armies of the shattered Galactic Empire have secretly
regrouped and prepare to reinstate their dominance over the newly freed
galaxy. The ruthless First Order has enacted the opening stages of their
sinister plan,Operation Rift,yearning to ignite abrutal galacticwar.Armed
withterrifyingnewweapons,alignedwithpowerfulnewallies,anddrivenby
uncompromisingleaders,theywillstopatnothingtodestroytheRepublic.

One of the First Orders best, veteran Captain MalivarkPetris of the


Star Destroyer Cataclysm, has been chosen to carry out the crucial
opening act of this plan. Close friend of General Hux, unquestioned
strategist of the First Order fleet, and handpicked by Supreme Leader
Snoke himself. The brilliant Captainprepares to ensnare the Republic in a
dastardly game of chance and collapse the unity ofthe Senate. His task
tosetatrapfortheenemyandcrushallresistance.

Pleasereadandenjoythis,thepreambleadventuretoStarWars
EpisodeVII:TheForceAwakens,asthestageissetforthenextactof
heroismandadventureinagalaxyfar,faraway!

Alongtimeagoinagalaxy
far,faraway.

STARWARS

StarDestroyerCataclysm:Retribution

ChapterOne:TheArtofPersuasion

The industrious hum of the hyperdrive filled the bridge of the Star
Destroyer
Cataclysm
. Its captain, Malivark Petris, positioned himself
forward towards the frontal viewport as he gazed into the majestic blur of
hyperspace. The crew, many of them young and fresh from the rigorous
navalacademies of the FirstOrder,buzzedabouttheirstations.Thebridge
was packed full ofthelatest technological innovations:holographic display
screens, mobile computer platforms, and newly integrated systems that
could assume control of the entire vessel from the bridge. Its black floor
shined with a fine polish, and computer consoles glowed with various
whites, reds,andblues instarkcontrasttothedark,metallicatmosphereof
thebridge.

Sir, we are one minute from hyperspace exit. Said the forward
helmsman.
Petris nodded, his hands clasped behind him. He stood tall in his
new, perfectly pressed charcoal grey naval officers uniform. Petris took
great pride in the maintenance of hisuniform, a traitwhich he expectedin
all of his subordinates as well. He was a man of precision, duediligence
and above all else, was as cunning and vicious as the predators of the
most hostile environments.He knew nothingoftolerance.Heknewnothing
ofmercy.
The spinningbluishwhite hue of hyperspace abruptlyceasedasthe
Cataclysm came rifling backinto real space. Before themenacingship lay
the independent and arid world of Dibora VII, along with its orbital trade
port, Tunkana Station. Composedofalargecentralboxwithtwoprotruding
appendages which housed hangars and docking ports, the station was
capable of supporting several hundred inhabitants. Ashadow of its former
self,Tunkanawasbarelyheldtogetherwithdurasteelscaffoldingandspare
parts, centuries past their due replacement times. Its once shiny exterior
lay rusted and faded, yet was still host to many of the sectors traders,
merchants,andpilotslookingforwork.

The planet belowwas sparsely populated.In total,lessthanamillion


inhabitants. Its primary usefulness to the galaxy was its once abundant
supply of rare salts and rocky minerals found in the desert wastes and
caverns below. Dibora VII once served as acritical link in manyecological
and chemical needs across the sector. Few cities dotted its bare
landscape, many of the wealthyandwell offwere heldupinthewalledcity
ofWesigway,theplanetarycapital.
Have they picked usup on their scanners yet?Petris asked after a
briefmoment'swait.
Yes, Sir, responded a young helmsman, looking up from the
bridges lower left command pit. As was the way of the old Imperialclass
Star Destroyers, the First Orders new Resurgentclass vessels were also
constructed with a single bridge. Its main floor was divided by a walkway
above two workstation pits, manned bycommunication officers, pilots, and
critical functions personnel. We are on their orbital and planetary sensor
nets, the helmsman continued, They should be reading us loud and
clear.
We are being scanned, Sir, said another. Petris waited a moment
moreforthescantobecompleted.
Hmm. Nothing? Petris grunted. He watched the bridge crew
diligentlymonitortheircomputerstations.Verywell,then.
Shall we hail the station, Sir? One of the communication officers
asked from his console, somewhere out of Petris sight. Petris offered no
directreply.Hisgazewasfixatedonthestationbeforethem.
Helm, he began, as his eyes narrowed, Lock all weapons onto
Tunkana Station. Prepare all forward batteries and torpedo bays for
launch. He mulled over the fate of the station in his mind. No need to
bother raising the shields. He added. The crew obeyed without question,
asperusual.LieutenantMelbourne!Petriscalledoverhisshoulder.
Sir!TheeageryoungofficerleapttoPetrisside.
Ready my shuttle. I shall be paying our good governor a visit,
planetside. The Lieutenant nodded, turned on his heels and quickly
marchedtowardstherearthebridge.

Sir. A helmsman called, Weapons arehot,andwearebeinghailed


bythestationonallfrequencies.
Good, he paused again, knowing full well the panic that musthave
beenensuing aboard the stationwhilsthewaited.Petrissmirkedandrolled
his shoulders. Open fire. Before him, a marvelous eruption of light burst
from the vessel. Streaks of green plasma escaped from countless
turbolaser batteries along the
Cataclysm
s multilayered rim, and raced
towards the station. Following them, small trails of swirling blue energy
markedeachofthedozensofprotontorpedoeslaunchedalongsidethem.
The old stations shieldswent uptoolate. Even if they hadnt, theyd
have stood no chance against even the aging Imperialclass Star
Destroyers, much less against the might of the
Cataclysm.
Each impact
against Tunkanas rusted hull was accompanied byablindingflashoflight.
Explosions rocked its frame, knocking it off its orbit and tearing it apart
along its stress points. Many of the docked ships were caught in the
crossfire. Those that werent immediately obliterated were wrenched from
their moorings, and sent drifting off into space. After the initial salvo, the
Cataclysms
batteriesfellsilent.
The station has been destroyed, Sir, ahelmsmanreportedfromthe
rear of the bridge. We are receiving numerous distress signals. Petris
watched over the burning wreckage with contempt for the ineptitude of its
crew. We are being hailed from the planet. An officer in the right pit
reported, as he checked over the various consoles in his area. What are
yourorders,Sir?
The Governor has transports,Petris dismissively wavedhishandin
the direction of the voice.I am sure theycantake care ofit on their own.
Petris turned to another officer standing on the main deck of the bridge.
Commander Tomasul,thebridge is yours.Expectmyreturn around23:00
hours. The captain walked with a prudent stride towards the rear of the
bridge.Informtheplanetarygovernorsofficeofmyarrival.
Understood,Sir.CommanderTomasulresponded.
Oh, and Commander Tomasul, if any of the governors vessels
approach the ship, you will respondin a most unkind fashion, He ordered
asheenteredtheturboliftandfacedTomasulbeforethedoorshissedshut.
9

....

Petris white Upsilonclass shuttle, the


Rapture
, exited from the
starboard hangar with an escort of blackhulled TIE Fighters. Its massive
wings glimmered with the reflectinglight of the systems star. The
Rapture
entered the atmosphere as Petris looked out of the pilots viewport to the
barrenworldbelow.
Much of Dibora VIIs surface was the color of brown rock and sand.
Endless plateaus and canyons stretched across much of the landscape,
only parted by the occasional river. Wildlife was sparse and vegetation
rare. Thelackofhumidityandprecipitationgiventheextremedeficitsofthe
environment resulted in few storms anda long dry season.Its aridnature
left much of the planets geological and inhabited history intact, down to
meaninglessdirthighwaysusedhundreds,maybethousandsofyearsago.
The
Rapture steepened its descent as the walled city of Wegisway
came into view. The buildings were a mishmash of architecture, their
original coloring hiddenbeneath permanent tan stains from decadesworth
of dust storms. It held little in the ways of defenses, its walls were poorly
maintained and lacked any sort of automated systems. Its mostly human
population, no morethan several hundred thousand, livedintightlypacked
apartmentstyle housing. Its city center was comprised of secondclass
skyscrapers and semi modernized buildings. Around the edge of the city
lay several defunct housing blocks intercut by sprawling market districts
andindustrialzones.

....

Governor Jeryn,theheavyset,pasthisprimeleaderofDiboraVII,sat
in his office. The small room was dusty and poorly maintained. Files and
datapad stacks littered his desk and old rusted computer panels linedthe
walls accompanied by empty boxesand miscellaneous junk items. Most of
the lighting was provided by a large duststained window behind his desk,
which filtered the outdoor light to a pale orange and drowned out the few
10

barely energized light panels in the ceiling. His wooden desk was ridden
with cracks, and the stainresistant coating was faded and chipped in
numerousplaces.
Jeryn wiped his balding head with a small towel as several drops of
nervous sweat dripped down the sides of his face. Before him sathismost
trusted advisor, the ancient law minister Alkowitz. Fullofwrinkles,unhappy
looks, and boring stories, Alkowitz served as the highestranking law man
of the planet. He was dressed in his loosefitting orange robes, outlined
withvibrantpurpleinseamcuts,signifyingthathewasamanofthecourts.
Whatdoyouthinktheywant?Jerynasked,hisvoicetrembling.
Evil rarely has a purpose, J. Alkowitz responded with an agedand
tiredvoice.
There were hundreds of people on that station! Jeryn wailed, his
eyes widened and he leaned forward into his desk. Weve got to do
something!Hecontinued.
What wouldyouhave usdo? Alkowitzcalmly replied.Think,J.We
dont got an army, we dont got a fleet. Im sure once they got what they
came for theyll be moven on. I stopped tryin to figure these types out a
long time ago. Alkowitz shook his head as he looked to the foot of the
desk.
Youcalleduptheextraguards?Jerynaskedinapanic.
Yup,Igotwhatextrawehad,butitaintmuch.HeremindedJeryn.
Look. Jeryn started as he closed his eyes and rubbed his temples
with his fingers. If theyre all stupid enough to just comedown herehe
paused, lost for words. ...If we rough em up, maybe wecan force em to
leave.Thatwouldgiveusenoughtimeto
To what,Jeryn?Alkowitzraisedhishandsinrefutation.Getblasted
into powder fromorbit? You know what theycando.Weveseen em here
before, they come and go, never seem to pay us much mind. Alkowitz
started before his thoughts of recent events brought him away from his
point. But the station... I dunno know how were going to survive without
thatstation.Helookedtowardsthefloorandshookhisheadinresignation.
Idontknow,J.ThisiswhyIturneddownthejob.Itsyourcall,notmine.
Governor.TheintercomonJerynsdeskbeeped.
11

What!Thedistressedgovernorbalkedintotheintercom.
We have a ship coming towards the city from orbit, it has a First
Ordertransponderfrequency.
Alkowitz covered the lower section of his face with his hand, and
exchanged anervous glance withJeryn,whosimplyslammedtheintercom
offwithoutbotheringtorespond.

....

On the landing pad, Jeryns security detail quietly watched the


shuttle breakthrough the thin clouds inthedistance.TheGovernorsentire
security force consisted of only a few dozen members, and although
Alkowitz had called for everyone, only eleven of them stood gathered on
thenarrowwalkwayconnectingthebuildingtoitspoorlymaintainedlanding
platform. The tall double doors to the office slowly creaked opened, and
Governor Jeryn stepped outonto the walkway,nervously fidgeting withthe
uppermost fasteners of his jacket. His eyesquicklylockedonto the rapidly
approaching shuttle. Its two large wings folded upwards as it decelerated
and slowly lowered itselfonto the pad.Theancientmetalsupportscreaked
asit touched down. Jeryn winced.Theunsightlywingsstoodperpendicular
to the ground, creating a towering figure over his office. The sunset
projected Its shadowto the doorway and beyond, casting him andhismen
indarkness.
Jeryn took a step back and motioned towards his guards. Two of
them cautiously approached the
Rapture. It saton the pad,motionless. Its
engines powered off, leaving nothing but the gentle hissing of hydrolysis
resetting and various mechanical whirs as components of the shuttle
windeddown.
The underside hatch of the craft shuttered open and paused for a
brief moment, before slowly lowering itself to meet the deck of the landing
pad. It touched down on the rugged permacrete surface with a low thud.
Jeryns guards waited, theiraged woodenstockedblasterslazilypointedin
thegeneraldirectionoftheship.

12

The frontmost guard, bearing a worn Sergeant rank on his uniform,


slowly approached the lowered ramp, clumsily motioning withhisoff hand
for his squad to follow. He craned his neck at an uncomfortable angle,
attempting to peer up the sloped ramp and into the shuttles hull. A sharp
noise halted the guards. From the top ofthe ramp, atinymetallic canister
bounced down towards the landing pad. The Sergeant wheeled back
towards his squad inpanic andbegantoshout,buthewasdrownedoutby
the deafening blast fromthestungrenade.Aflashoflightaccompaniedthe
explosion, blinding the unprepared guards. Stumbling about from the
shock,severaldroppedtheirblasterstoclutchattheirearsandeyes.
Before they could recover from what happened,thefrontmostguards
were cut down by a wave of blaster fire from the squad of stormtroopers
that came barreling out of the craft. A dozen pouredfrom the shuttle, one
fireteam broke to the right, another went left, encircling the landing pad.
The squad leader tossedanotherstungrenadeintotheairasheranoffthe
ramp. The secondary blast only further cemented the helplessness of the
outnumbered guards. The stormtroopers, seemingly unaffected by the
grenades, continued to pick off the remaining stunned defenders. Several
of them fell from the highperched landing pad in confused panic while
others were blasted into submission. The blaster fire ceased. With no
further resistance, the stormtrooper squad fanned out around the landing
pad and assumed a security posture. The entire operationwas conducted
swiftly and with breakneck efficiency. The squad leader approachedJeryn,
who was coweringhalfblindedonthewalkway,andheavedhimtohisfeet.
Shoving his blaster into Jeryns side, he walked him towards the shuttle.
Jeryncouldjustbarelymakeoutanewfiguredescendingfromtheshuttles
ramp.
Forgive me for the mess! Captain bolstered across the landing pad
with aslight chuckle,steppingoverthebodyofoneoftheguards.Mymen
had a lot of new gear theywere anxious to tryout.You must be Governor
Jeryn. Petris said removing his gloves and offering his hand out to the
governor. Jeryn angrily glared throughthe grenades afterimageat blurred
shapeinfrontofhim.Petrisretractedhishand.

13

Governor Jeryn, I find myself to be a reasonable man, but I warn


you not totestmypatience. He saidashesteppedclosertothegovernor.
With a quick thrust, Petris landed a solid punch into the portly governors
side,directlybelowtheribs.Thegovernorcollapsedandgaspedforair.
You see,I value manners and respect.It is something we are going
to have a little talk about in your office. Petris said as the governor
struggled to his feet. Come,letuswalk,hegesturedtowardsthedoorway
andgrinned.Wehavemuchtoaccomplishandsolittletimetodoso.
The squad of stormtroopers in their sleek armor accompanied them
down the walkway, monitoring the surroundings of the city and office with
the heads up displays in their helmets. Petris left two of them posted
outsideasthedoorclosedonthesettingsunbehindthem.
Inside the office, Petris assumed the governors desk and sat in his
chair. He swiped his finger across its tabletop, accumulating a thin filmof
dust. The entire office was dusty from corner to corner, poorly lit, and
clearly not kept to any sort of decent standard. Jeryn stood facing Petris,
still in shock at whathadjusttranspired,nervouslymakingeyecontactwith
thestormtroopersintheroomashesweatedprofusely.
So, tell me governor. Petris said has he reclined inthechair. Why
is it that when a vessel of the First Order enters your system, you dont
evenbothertohailus?Petrisaskedwithanirritatedtone.
This heres an independent system, yall have no jurisdiction here.
Attackingourstationthat'sanactofwa
Here! Petrisslammedhisfistonthetable,startlingJeryn,...iswhyI
think it happened, he continued. He stared directly into the governor's
eyes. You have a lack of respect, manners, and intelligence. Luckily for
you, these are all fixable. He moved his gaze towards the unkept desk.
You can tell alot about a man simplyby howhe keeps his desk.Hesaid
rubbing his fingertips together to remove the dust. So,respect. Whenone
ofourvesselsentersyoursystem,youhailthem.Isthatclear?
ThegovernoronlylookedonangrilyatPetris.
You can take yourshipandyourslouchbagcrewandgotohell!He
spatback.

14

My good governor, I suggest you change yourtone beforeyou lose


more than your decrepit space station. Which brings me tomy nextpoint,
manners. Only when you are spoken to, do you speak, and when one
speaks, itoughttobepoliteandprofessional.Petrissaidashegesturedto
one ofthestormtroopers, who swiftly poundedthe buttof their rifleintothe
governorsback,knockinghimtotheground.
So, lets try this again. Petris said as he leanedforward to the see
thegovernoronthefloorbeforethedesk.WhenanotherFirstOrdervessel
entersthesystem,whatareyougoingtodo?
Do you really think yall are going to get away with this? Once the
Republic Senate hears of this, youre through. Youre violating the treaty
of
Thatmeaningless treaty, Thegovernorwasagaincutoff,nolonger
applies here Governor. You are now under my jurisdiction. This is the
reality you now live in, and I suggest you come toterms with it. Now,Isee
we are still strugglingwith the manners lesson, yes? Not toworry,Imhere
to teach afterall.Petris lips curled into demented smile ashe pointed his
indexfingerskywards.
Petrisleanedback againinthegovernorschairandwithdrewasmall
comlinkfromhisjacketpocket.
CommanderTomasulcomein.Herequested.
Sir,
Cataclysm
standingby.Tomasulresponded.
How are things going up there my friend? Petris asked with a
cheekytone.
Uneventful Sir, the governors ships havent responded to the
damaged vessels, nor have any approached the
Cataclysm thus far. He
answered.
Good, very good. Petris looked into the governors fearful eyes,
CommanderIneedtoaskafavorofyou.heasked.
Ofcourse,Sir.
I need you to fire two of our BLS8 torpedoes into target grid
EchoFiveDeltaThree if you please, Petris asked asthegovernorseyes
openedwidelywhilstheslouchedinacoldsweat.
Weaponshot,Sir.Thecommanderresponded.
15

Petris lowered his comlink and spun the chair around to face the
window behind him. He invited the governor to his side,and motionedhis
handtowardstheoutlookonthecity.Twosmalllightsdarteddownfromthe
sky with a crackle and struck a target less than a mile away with great
force. The loud explosions rattled the office, sending flames and smoke
shootinghigh into the sky and reduced nearly adozenbuildingstoburning
rubble.
Petristurnedthechairtofacethegovernor.
I am going to try this one last time, Governor, and I dearly hope to
hear an answer that I like, or else I am going to level the rest of your
pathetic city. When one of our vessels enters orbit, what are you goingto
do?AskedatestyandperturbedPetris.
Hail them! Well hail them! Please stop this,we didnothingtoyou!If
itssaltsyallwantjusttakeem!Thegovernorpleadedwithgreatpanic.
Good! Petriss smile immediately returned and he gave a single
cheerful clapwith hishands.Progress.Ihavenointerestinyourworthless
sand, Governor. Now, discipline. When I give you orders, I expect you to
follow them. Your refusal would be most, unwise. he said examining the
troubled governor. Petris paused for a moment, a disappointed frown
crossed his face. He leaned uncomfortably close to Jeryn and stared in
silence. Jeryns eyes worriedly darted around Petris, trying to read his
expression.Im sorry,Petrisfinallysaid,butIalsomustpointoutthat,that
thing on your face, that mustache. Its obnoxious and unbecoming of you.
Anyway,Idigress. I trust thatI have made my pointclearondiscipline,Mr.
Jeryn?
The governor shookhis head slowlyas hegraspedhisdeskfromthe
floor,lookingouttotheburningsectionofhiscity.
Times, Governor. They are changing and rapidly. So I suggest you
adapt, or youwill be overtaken by them.Petris saidas he took tohisfeet,
and withdrew a small device from his jacket. On this datapad is a list of
instructions for you. Theplanetary and city access codesIneed,economic
and communications information, and some othersmall tasksthat need to
be completed. Petris slid the datapad across the desk. I understandthat
you're abusy man, Governor, so Iwillgiveyouuntiltheendoftomorrowto
16

accomplish all of this. I think you understand what will happen if you are
late, correct? Petris asked with narrowed eyes, and as his fingers slowly
tappedthedesk.
The governor nodded as he slowly brought his eyes to bear on the
datapad.
Good, soyou have regained someof your intelligencetoo. I believe
this is the beginning of a beautiful friendshipafter all. We are going to get
alongjustfine,Governor.Petrissaidashepattedthegovernorsback.
When.. howlong are.. wereyallgoingtostay?Thegovernorasked
ashe stumbled over his words looking out the windowtowardstheburning
buildings.
As long as it is necessary, Petris said as he readied himself for
departure. The Order has fantasticplans for your world, Governor. Its the
dawn of a new era, and it starts here in this very office! I shall await your
transmission, once I have that information, we can go from there. Petris
strolled towards the office door and motioned at his stormtroopers, who
began to file out. Until next time, then. Good evening, Governor. The
empowered officer tipped his cap and marched out of the room. The last
two stormtroopers atthedoor followed him out,leavingJeryn alone onthe
officefloor.

....

Petris shuttle gracefully entered the port side hangar of the


Cataclysm
, the stormtroopers disembarked first, gathering their gear and
clearing their weapons. Petris watched over them as they departed, and
madehiswaydowntheramptofindCommanderTomasulatitsfoot.
Itrusttheeveningwentasplanned,Sir?Thecommanderasked.
I believethe planet is ready to servetheFirstOrdersneedsandthe
governorproperly readied to play his part inall of this. Petris handedover
an encrypted datapad to Tomasul. Here is my report, please forward this
toGeneralHuxatonce,andinformhimthat
thetableisset.

Right away, Sir. Tomasul offered a nod and made his way to the
turbolift.
17

Petris remained in the hangar a moment longer, and observed the


many craft that now filled it. He watched the busy workers tend to their
duties, the shined deck plating of the hangar floor, the newly stocked
landing craft andthenewTIE fighters whichfilled the racks.
Weareready
,
Petristhoughttohimself.Heturnedandmarchedofftohisturbolift.

18

ChapterTwo:DeceptionandTruth

Hot steamfilledtheroomasPetrisexitedhisrefresher,coveredinhis
black bath robes, he headed towards his personal lounge. On the center
table many datapads were stacked on top of each other. Most were
historicaltexts, some fact, somefiction.Hepickeduptheuppermostpadin
the stack andreclined back into oneof his large sleek couches.Hewasin
the process of reading
Shadows of theMorningMist
.Thepiecewasnearly
a centuryold,datedbacktothetimesoftheOldRepublic,centeredaround
aconflictknownastheStarkHyperspaceWar.
The story centered on the crew of the
Tabalius,
a vessel in the
Republics Outland Regions Security Force, O.R.S.F. for short, and its
actions during the brief but crucial conflict. The
Tabalius was a
Waylandclass Cruiser, one of the many small maroon red vessels under
the command of the late venerable Ranulph Tarkin. The
Tabaliustookpart
inthe Qotile Campaign, itwas ultimatelydestroyedin the final battle ofthe
war, andcrashlandedonthesurfaceofQotileitself.Theshipscrewhadto
survive for three days until they were rescued by the Jedi and O.R.S.F.
forces following the defeat of the Stark Combine, a large outerrim
mercenaryarmyfundedandleadbyLacoStark.
Petris favorite character was Commander Creel, the first officer of
the
Tabalius
. Its Captain was killed in the crash and Creel was forced to
take command of the remaining fortythree survivors. For three days and
two nights, Combine infantry forces attempted to overrun the crash site.
Petris had always believed it was thanks to Creels use of strategy,
courage, and discipline that the crew survived. Creel was a titan among
men. In the battle he was wounded twice but his unwavering attention to
detail
allowed his force to prevail. He was easily a personal favorite of
Petris. His exceptional service earned him some of the Old Republics
highest military commendations, and he has long since served as an
inspirationtoofficersinmanymilitariessince.
Above all else, the Stark Hyperspace War was one that hadalways
caught Petris eye. Primarily this was because it was a very different war
19

from those that had come beforeit, and avery ironicconflictin theeyesof
the historian.The forcesof the coreworldsand theRepublic,alliedwith
the Jedi and other commercial entities, embarked upon a crusade to
destroy The Combine, an organization founded on the premise that the
Republic was extorting the people of the outerrim worlds.Ironically, many
of these same commercial entities would be at war with the Republic
several decades later in the Clone Wars, for much the same reason that
the StarkCombinewas.Tobringitfullcircle,againthosesameentitiesand
groups would be in league with the Rebellion once the Republic became
the Empire, and fought to reinstate the same Republic theytriedtodestroy
inthepreviouswar.
Everything from the tactics used to the political circumstances and
parties involved was unorthodox and difficult to understand. It was a very
small conflict in the outer regions of the galaxy, but its implications were
massive and in many ways sparked the fire that allowed the Clone Wars,
and everything that followed, to transpire. Everything centered around
conflict and instability between the core worlds of the Republic and the
outersectorsofthegalaxy.
ThedoortoPetrisquarterschimed.
Come in. Petris shouted towards the computer panel on his wall.
Knowingit was one of three peopleallowedtovisitispersonalquarters,he
needednotaskwhoitwas.
Sorry to bother you, Sir, but I have word from General Hux. Said
CommanderTomasulashestoodinthedoorway.
Come in, Tomasul, please come in. Petris offered as he extended
his hands to one of the chairs in the lounge area. Would you care for a
drink?Heasked.
No thank you, Sir. I was going to retire tomy quarters shortly, but I
haveamessageforyou.Tomasulrepliedashetookaseatinthelounge.
Well,I am sure you dontmind then.Petrissaidtakingtohisfeetas
hiseyeslockedontothebar.
To the side of the room was his small personal bar, awellkept and
well used facility of his. Petris mixed together a quick concoction of mind
altering chemicals and returned to a clearly anxious Tomasul. Alright
20

Commander, you look nervoustotellme,soletshearitout,myfriend.He


said,fullyawareofwhatthecontentsofthemessagewouldlikelybe.
Sir, GeneralHuxreports that the roast is simmering? Tomasul said
withaconfusedtone.
Petris burst out in laughter, nearly choking on his drink, both at the
officialwordingofthemessageandthelookonTomasulsface.
You have no idea whats going on do you my friend? Petris asked
withachuckle.
Frankly,Sir,no,notbehindthescenes.Iknowit'snotmyprerogative
to ask, butis this some kind ofnew code speak tokeep the Republicfrom
understanding what is going on even if they are monitoring our
transmissions?Heasked.
Of sorts. Petris said with a smile as he recomposed himself and
drankfromhiscup.
Sir, I mean no offense but I feelImustremindyouthattheplanetary
communication networks are still active. Even if the Republic cant
understand the meaning of our communications, someone ontheplanetor
one of the ships in orbit couldrelay a message tothem that we are here.
Tomasulsaidwithasmalldegreeofstress.
Yes, yes. This is all very true. You need not be concerned about it,
my very astute Commander. Petris said as he took another sip of the
drink.
But Sir, I must object. Our position could be far too easily
compromised. At least allow me to establish several patrol lanes around
the planet to police and monitor incoming and outgoing vessels, perhaps
we should deploy some regional transmission jammers? Tomasul asked
ashesatforwardonhischair.
I am afraid not, Commander, but Ideeplyappreciateyourdedication
tooursecurity.Petrissaiddismissively.
But Sir, this is against standard protocol, I mus Tomasul was cut
off.
You are a very intelligent and a very capable officer Tomasul, you
will makeafinefleetcaptainoneday.Hepausedanddrankfromtheglass
again. But, today I can see thereis no fooling you, perhapsI should bring
21

you up to speed on the situation,if fornothing else, to keep yourstrategic


headfrom imploding.Petrissaidlaughinglyashemotionedhisfreehands
fingersoutwardmimickinganexplosionofoneshead.
Tomasulrelaxed, loosenedhis collar, and satbackinhischairasthe
stress caused by the unorthodox practicesof their missionbeganto wane
fromhisbodyeversoslightly.
We are engaged in a tricky dance of deception with our Republic
brethren here, the truth is, everyone is lying he paused to let his words
sink in to themselves or to someone else. The question is,who will blink
first?PetrisgaveaninquisitivelooktoTomasulashetookanothersip.
To thosewith gifted foresight, and perhapsan ounce of intelligence,
another conflict isinevitable,asisthefactthatsomeofthesesocallednew
Republic senators would quickly jump ship if another, more powerful,
governance alternative was presented. The First Order is that alternative,
Commander.Petrisplacedhisdrinkdownonhistable.
Anew war is dawning whether the galaxy wants it or not, right now
we are simply trying to createan advantagefor ourselves by exposingthe
Republic for violating its own principles, its own code of law and moral
understanding. To put it in simpler terms, to givesome fire to the flame of
the dissenters within the Senate, those fed up with the bureaucratic
nonsensethatcripplestheireverymove.Petrisexplained.
So, byattackingthesenonalignedandneutralworlds,eventhelikes
of which no one really cares about politically, we hope to garner the
Republics attention, or some other parties attention? Wouldnt that make
usinviolationofthetreatyfirst?Tomasulasked.
Not quite, Commander, our agents believe that the Senate,
knowingly or otherwise,is proppingup a new secret military force of some
kind. They are resourceful and not to be underestimated, perhaps theyd
like to mount a preemptive strike against us if the opportunity presented
itself.Infact, weplantogivethemsuchanopportunity.Petrissatbackwith
awidesmile,hefoundTomasulsperturbedfaceamusing.
They are but the bleeding hearts of the galaxy, they will not sit by
and simply allow this chaos to happen here, thisinfringement of socalled
rights.They fully intend to ignite a war, but in doing so jolt the political
22

advantage to their cause, and finish off the last of the so called imperial
remnant.Petrissaidashedownedthelastofhisdrink.
A new theatre ofwaris developing, a theatre ofsmoke andmirrors.
This war will be one fought in the abstract by the unreal. The galaxy will
ease back underourcontrolonce they see the washedupformerrebellion
is unable to protect them. Ironically enough, most of the Senate has no
loyalty to the extremists that formed their pathetic Republic. Eventually
order will need tobe establishedover the chaosand thestupidity they are
allowing to perpetuate at a staggering rate. An orderly society will be
needed, onenotplaguedbythecorruptionorthestrategicimpotenceofthe
past.
I see,Sir.So our partto play in this is? I meaninthis,thisruse?Im
assuming you mean to tell me that we are supposed to be the bait?
Tomasulasked.
We are but the first act, my friend. With what better way than to
garner the attention of a hero then with blatant acts of violence? A
destroyed station, an invaded planet, a rogue captain with enough
firepower to destroy countless worlds? We open with such attacks, subtle
but importantenough togettheattentionofcertaineyesthatweseektobe
seenby.Petrisexplained.
So we are to get their attention then, Sir? The attention of the
senatorswho wouldpush forthecreationofsomethinglikeasecretfleetor
apreemptivestrikebeyondtheirborders,withorwithouttheapprovalofthe
Senate?Tomasuljumpedin.
Exactly! And before they arrive, we will deliberately leave certain
holes, holes thatwill allow foradisgruntledandterrifiedgovernortocallfor
help.Petrisexplained.
Which will then bring the new military forces of the Republic to
liberate them, acting officially or unofficially in the name of the Republic,
andplantouseitasarallyingcryfortheircause.Tomasulcaughton.
Which then exposes them, to us and to the rest of the galaxy.
Without the Jedi to protect them, they wont stand a chance against our
new fleets, our new fleets that they know nothing about. Imagine that, an
open and deliberate violation committed by the Republic. The treaty is
23

alreadyallbutvoid,thiswillensureitslastlinesareerasedandourOrders
war machinewill press forward unabridgedby galacticpolitics. We willwin
over countless sectors before the first shots between us are even fired,
dividing this so called Republic at its core and rendering their government
useless.Petrisexplained.
And this new secret military responding to the cries for help, I
assume, we are to ambush them with whatever General Hux is
simmering
?Tomasulguessed.
Petrisnoddedwithawide,disturbingsmile.
Whoever they are, when they arrive, they will find an oppressed
world ripe for liberating. We plan to showcase the Order on the galactic
stage as saviours of the civilizedgalaxyonce they havearrived to
free the
planet. Petris paused. When theyarrive, this is what theywill see,thisis
how they will think, and that iswhat they will do. I assure you,theplanwill
work,andtheRepublicwillbeinchaosbeforethebattleisover.
So,whatistheroastthen,Sir?
That my friend, you will have to wait and see, some secrets are
better kept until the end. Petris replied, taking a moment to look over
Tomasultoassurehimthattheywereonthesamepage.
Very well then Sir, I will retireto my quarters now. The commander
said with heavy sigh and took to his feet. Petris stopped him before he
reachedthedoor.
Commander.Hefetched.
Sir?Tomasulturnedaround.
Would you please send back my reply, either tonight or tomorrow,
theres no rush. But ask him please, which meal he intends to serve?
Breakfast,midday,orsupper?Iamhungryhere,afterall.Heasked.
Tomasul nodded with a hint of ambivalence towards the tacky
demeanor and cheeky humor employed by his superior, but nevertheless
heintendedtocarryitoutwordperwordasinstructed.
Petris turned back to his datapads as Tomasul exited the room. He
read down to the bottom of the last page of the book, he paused as he
rereadthefinallinesatthebaseofthestoryscompletion

24

Each day, out of the bleak morning mist, they poured in, out of the
fog theyraged,thesavageandmurderoushordes.Braveryandhopealone
could not save us. Brutality, training, discipline, and above all else, order
were the factors of our salvation and my truest of my faiths then, and
now...

Petriswas deeply satisfied with the conclusion,for it represented the


core of hiselementary functionsand beliefsas an officer, and nothing was
more applicable in instruction than the writings of those who thought like
him.

....

Petris awoke to an early morning, ashe always did.Drinking his hot


caf he walked off the turbolift and onto the bridge. He collected his daily
tabloid of overnight reports and updates from his staff officers as he made
hiswaytotheviewportsofthebridge.
Over the years, Petris had developed a keen sense of command,
tacticalawareness,andnearextrasensoryperceptionofthebattlespace,all
of which grew stronger and stronger as he progressed in his career. He
built upon his experiences and used them to not just better judge the
conditions of his mission, but the environment around him. Petris sat his
hot caf down on the frame of the frontal viewport, he looked out into the
blacknessofspace.
Heturnedaroundtothelowerrightpit.
Helm. Is there anything,odd, onoursensors?He asked, tuning his
headtothesidebutnotawayfromtheviewport.
NegativeSir,scopesclean.Ahelmsmanresponded.
Petris gaze turned tothefront viewport,he placedhisarmsdownon
its frame. The emptiness of space before him, something troubled him
deeply about it. Something was wrong. He felt as if the starswere staring
back at him, something from a great distance was stalking him intently. It
wasnt looking for anything elseon the moon,theplanet,ortheship,itwas
him, and him alone. He contemplated the feeling that was flooding his
25

system and invadinghissoul.Acoldwaveslowlymovedfromhischestout


towards his limbs. He couldnt find words to explain it, but nevertheless it
was there. Petris closed his eyes as his mind traveled outwards, beyond
the system. Hecouldfeelalowrumble,anicyshudderinthespacearound
him. Something was taking hold of his bodyfrom the insideout.Suddenly
and profoundly, there, in the darkness before him, in a flash of clarity he
couldseeit,hecouldfeelit.
Sir!Ahelmsmancriedout.
Petriseyesshotopenandsnappedbacktothelowerrightpit.
Wehavecontactcominginpointthreefive,itscominginrightontop
of us, four seconds! The helmsman spat out as he hurriedly punched in
commands to his console transmitting them to the weapon and crew
stations across the ship. The crew darted totheir stations as a rapidflurry
ofcommunicationsflewacrossthebridge.
Holdyourfire!Petrisorderedwithjustenoughtimetospare.
A small vessel came barreling out of hyperspace, it was painted in
dark colors and was triangular in shape. It was far too small to be a
destroyerorcruiser,butitwasdefinitelyreminiscentofimperialdesign.
Sir, the vessel is transmitting a verification code! One crewman
exclaimed.
Weapons hot! Shields are up! Dorsal teams locked Another oneof
thecrewmansaid.
Petris looked over the vessel a meremoment, and he made hisway
tooneof the communicationstationsattherearofthebridge.Heobserved
the communication key code sent by the vessel hovering above.
No,
he
thought to himself as he recognized the code and his worst fears were
realized. It brought him a wave of anxiety, it was the introduction of an
extremely unstable and unpredictable element into his battle space. The
timing of this arrival could nothave beenworse for him, andnothing about
it seemed right, especially after his experience at the front viewport just
prior.

....

26

Petris and a small entourage assembled in the port hangar of the


Cataclysm
, the delta shaped vessel moved into the hangar. Itsside wings
folded upandintothemainbodyofthecraftasitslandinggeardeployed.It
was very sleek in design, its weapon ports concealed within the vessel,
deployed externally by hardpoints. A boarding ramp extended out one of
the upward angled sides. The doors slid open as steam hissed outof the
exhaustports.
Petris made his way to the ramp, andtugged hisofficers uniform to
ensureatightfit.Helookeduptotheramp,andstoodfirm.
The figure, dressed in sleek armor partially concealed by a black
tunic,steppeddowntherampwithaseriesofheavythuds.
Welcometothe
Cataclysm.
Petrissaid,decidedlyunhappy.
Captain Petris, the true cataclysm has yet to begin. She said in a
cold and metallicallycoveredvoiceasshedescendedtothedeck.Covered
from head to toe,sheconcealedherfacebehindasharpandangularblack
mask,itsfaceplatebisectedbyadullmetalcoverandlayeredinthinsheets
ofblack durasteel. A neck guardfannedoutacrossbacksideofthehelmet
and several silver vertical lines graced its brow. One hand rested on her
utility beltas the otherbrushed aside a flap of herexcess robes.Hermost
striking feature, however, was thebarelyvisiblehiltofalightsaberattached
toherbelt.
Onda Ren, what brings you to Dibora VII? Petris asked as he
turned.
The same reason you are here,Captain.Shesaidassheentereda
quick stride immediately upon making contact with the hangar deck. Her
walk was elegant but powerful, her robes gusted in the air behind her. I
have a task I must see to on the planet before you are done with it, its
critical it be completed. Shestated withoutturningtolookatPetris,almost
asifgivinganimpliedtaskoranorderbehindherwords.
Petrisremainedsilentashewalkedbesideher.
I will require a detachment of your best soldiers. You will have them
backbeforeitstime.Sheexplained.
Verywell, I shall make thepreparationsforyou.Petrisbegrudgingly
obliged.
27

Good. She saidas theywalked. No one will beable tostopusthis


time.
What of the rumored resistance forces? Those same forces that
couldbeontheirwayhere,evennow?Petrisinquired.
The disorganized and patheticforces oftheRepublicdonotconcern
me, Captain,they are not thereal threathere.Shecontinuedherpowerful
strideintotheturbolift.
Forgive me, but what is then? Petris retorted, taken aback by the
suggestionandmomentarilyfilledwithconcern.
Sensing that Petris mind was more attuned to suchthings then she
remembered, Onda paused a moment before she responded. In thatbrief
moment, Petris mind swelled with thoughts of betrayal, deception,
discontent,andaboveallelse,astrangeeireofpain,butnotfromhimself.
There is no time to explain Captain. I must prepare for my mission.
Weleaveintwohours,updatemeasthesituationplanetsideunfolds.
As you wish. Petris offered a slight bowof respect as the liftdoors
closed.
Petrisgrinded his teeth, both outof frustration andoutofconcern,as
heturnedtooneoftheseniorofficersofhisentourage.
Prepare first platoon for deployment, and make sure Sergeant Falix
stops by my quartersbeforethey leave. Petris ordered as he looked back
uponthehangarbay.
Yes,Sir.The officeracknowledged, but stayed as ifhehadmoreto
say.
Istheresomethingelse,Lt.CommanderMortis?Petrisasked.
Sir, are we going to simply let them just come onboard andrun the
shiplikethis?TheLt.Commanderaskedwithadisturbedface.
The Ren, they are nothing but a minor inconvenience, and an ever
increasingly temporary one at that, I promise you. Petris responded with
disgust.
The commander proceeded on with his tasks, Petris found himself
deeply caught upin his thoughts.
What could be so important as to garner
the attention of the Knights of Ren? Why here? Why now? What real
threat?
No answer he could findsuited him,he was a man oftotal control.
28

His new passenger represented a challengetothat,andmoreoverposeda


threat to the completion of his mission. Petris lived by a series of simple
rules. One such was thathe never trusted anyone or any groupwith more
secretsthanithadmembers.
The calculations and the possibilities flooded his mind, the answers
he needed remained comfortably out of his grasp as he began his
intentionallylongwalkbacktothebridge.

....

Sergeant Falix, the ranking NCO of first platoonmade his way down
the corridor. He passed many troopers conducting their daily fitness
training regiments across the ship. They ran down the hallways in loops,
dressed in their tight white and blackjumpsuits.Normally he wouldbewith
them,buttodayhisdutiescarriedhimelsewhere,adornedinhisnewarmor
andbrandishingabrightorangeshoulderpad.
As herode the turbolift tohis destination, hemulledoverthemission
he was given,and how muchit botheredhim. Theridewastooshortashe
arrived outside the Captain's quarters and positioned himself betweenthe
two door guards. He slid his hand to the side panel, and rang the door
chime.
Enter!Wasshoutedfrominside,andthedoorslidopen.
Sir, you wanted to see me? His voice growled as he entered the
room,standingtallandstiff.
Ah, Sergeant Falix. Yes, I wanted to talk to you about your mission
beforeyouheadoff.Petrissaidashemadehiswaytothedoor.
Good. I dont like going into things blind, Sir. Falix saidwith a tight
jawandsternlookofagitation.
Petris took a moment to look over Falix. Past his aged face and
assortment of scars, he could see the Sergeant was visibly more angry
thanhimaboutthesituation.
You seem troubled, Sergeant Falix. Our new guest has you
unnerved,hasshe?Petrisinquired.

29

Sir, I was at Endor, I was at Jakku. Dont fool yourself. Their kind
isnt to be trusted. Falix said, his gazed fixed on the bulkhead on the
oppositeside of the room. Theyll haveus all killed in aninstantifitsuited
them.
You think shes sending you into a suicide mission, then? Petris
asked.
Unknown. Falixsaidsharply.Ithinkitwouldhavebeenbetterifyou
just destroyed her vessel when it exited hyperspace and called it an
accident,Sir.Falixsaidangrily.
You hate them that much, do you? Petris asked, as he leaned his
bodyagainstthenearestwall.
Sir, with all due respect, you couldnt understand why, you dont
know what Ive seen. They are obsessed with a dead, pathetic, arrogant
entity. None of them knew him like I did, none of them knew howhis kind
operated.Theywanttobejustlikehim.Falixswordsseethedwithanger.
If they succeed in doing so, they will bring us to our knees just like
before. TheSithdestroyedtheEmpire.Onewayoranotherwearegoingto
have to kill them all. Its eithergoing to beus or them.TheJedi,Sith,Ren,
all of them are the same damn thing. Falix said as he looked directly to
Petris face. And the way I see it, thesoonerthe better. Justgive methe
order.
I share no love for the Ren either, Sergeant. However, they have
proven most useful in dealingwiththeJediproblem,withoutthemwecould
not have wipedouttheirorder.Unfortunately,SupremeOverlordSnokestill
sees some sort of value in this
partnership,
sadly it isa fact that we must
accept. Evenif it is only for thetime being. However,I dofullyagree.With
theJedigone,thereislittleuseforthem.Petrisexplained.
Sergeant Falix simply grunted in response, with a slight twitch in his
eye.
Im sending youbecause you are our best,andwhateverthereason
that brought them here, ithas to be important. Moreso, Ineed someone I
cantrusttokeepaneyeonourguest,fillmeinonwhatishappening.
Falixnoddedandunderstoodhisimpliedtask.
Isthatall,Sir?Falixaskedwithbitterdisdain.
30

Yes,Im sorry that this ordeal is astruggle foryou,Sergeant.Petris


offeredasFalixturnedtoleave.
Wellhavejusticeforwhattheyvedoneoneday,Sir.Iknowwewill.
Retribution, Sergeant. A slow and wicked smile crawled across
Petrisface.Itiscoming...Heinanunnervinglycheerfultone.

31

Chapter3:DarknessAtSunrise

Petris watched from the bridge as two assault landers departed the
Cataclysm
with an escort of black TIE fighters and headed towards the
planet.Hisarmsclaspedfirmlybehindhim,asperusual.
Tomasul!Petrisfetched.
Sir?TheCommanderaskedashecameupfromtherear.
This unfortunate surprise has tampered with the goodflow of things
considerably. We are going to have to moveaheadwith ourplans.Petris
said as he pondered the next step and the effects it would have on the
mission. Please inform General Hux that an urgent complication has
arisen,andweareadvancingtophasethreeimmediately.
Tomasul nodded, and made his way to the private communication
roomattherearofthebridge.
Ensign, patch me through to Governor Jeryns office on direct
comms,please.Petrisasked.
Rightaway,Sir.Oneofthelowerpithelmsmanresponded.
Petriswalked to one sideof the control panels wherehekeyedinhis
access code.The holocommunication terminal activatedandbegantodial
in on the governors office. An image of the portly governor appeared on
the screen. The ancient transmitter from his end meshed poorly with the
Cataclysmsadvancedcommunicationsequipment,andhisunkemptimage
wascoveredinartifactsanddistortions.
Captain? He murmured, his voice barely audible through his
dilapidatedtransmitter.
Prepare for my arrival, Governor, I will be down shortly. Petris
responded.
Illhavethelandingpadreadiedfo
Noneed,mygoodgovernor,Petrisinterrupted,itwouldtakefar,far
toolongthistime.Hecutoffthecommunicationsabruptly.
Helm! Bring us around to three point two four,loworbitalentryslide,
full thrusters ahead! Begin port side rotation at point seventhree, impact

32

level seven.Petrisorderedastheshipbegantoshiftpositionandthecrew
bustledaroundtheirstations.
Lock all hatches, intensify inertial dampeners and ready suborbital
flaps. He turned to face the bridge viewport as he unclipped his internal
communication comlink. The slow warning alarm sounded as the
Cataclysm thundered through space, its wedge shaped bow pointed
directly at the defenseless planet below. All hands, this is the Captain
speaking,prepareforatmosphericentry.

....

Governor Jeryn nervously paced around his office. Law Minister


Alkowitzsatinthechairbeforehisdesk.
Whatdotheywantnow?!Jerynbarked.
It just aint right Jeryn, but it also dont make no sense. Alkowitz
paused a moment, the loss of life aboard the station was pretty heavy,
overathousandatleast.Weain'tdonenothingtowarrantthis.Wegottado
something,butwhat
can
wedo?Alkowitzsaidhesitantly.
And overahundred more in that residential zone thatburneddown,
Jerynsaidsubmissively.
What choicedowegotthough,theyaintgonnalistentoanythingwe
got to say,thatsforsure.Alkowitzadded.Obviouslywecantletthemget
away with this. Back in my day it was simpler,you could always count on
theAlliancetohelpya,butthemdaysarelonggone.Hecommemorated.
Jeryn looked up at the old man as he pondered the best way to
survivethemeetingthatwastocome.
Theseguysthough,theymightbeworsethantheEmpire,theycome
in and do whatever they please, its reckless, it dont seem to have a
purpose, at least not one that I reckon. If only I was younger if onlythe
Alliance wasstill around,wecouldaasked them forsupport. Theoldman
said as he looked to the ground and shifted his feet around on the dusty
floor.

33

What options do we have, Alkowitz? How many men can we


muster? What kinda stockpiles your boys have laying around? Jeryn
askedashecontinuedtopacearoundinapanickedstate.
Alkowitz frowned and shook his head, all at once implying that any
kindofarmedresistancewasfutile.
I used to know anofficerin the AlliancewhenIwasyounger,helped
him out a timeor two, LieutenantOsborne,wegrewuptogetheronNomax
Prime.Hesaidattentively.
Is it possiblefor you to reachhim? Jeryn askedas he attempted to
settlehimselfbysittingdown.
I haventheard fromthebastardin avery longtime.Idoubthesstill
alive. Even if he were, what difference would it make? This newRepublic
dont have the military powertheAlliancedid,theoldmanexplainedashe
waved his hand away in dismissal. Just galactic police now, halfassed
ones at that.ThetwolookedateachotherforabriefmomentbeforeJeryn
turnedhisgazetothewindowsbehindthem.
Well,wegotta tell them whats happening here, itstheonlyshotwe
have. Jeryn said before he opened a small drawer in his desk and
withdrew a data chip. On this here is a recording of the stations
destruction, the bombardment, the ship in orbit, and the files they
requested. Do ya know someone we can trust to get this delivered and
quickly?JerynplacedthedatachipinAlkowitzshand.
A subtle boom echoed across the sky. Jeryn shot tohis feet,fearing
another bombardment. After exchanging a terrified final glance with
Alkowitz, he bolted out of his office towards the landing pad. The ageing
law minister struggled to keep pace behind him. Jeryn pushed himself
through the automatic doors to the pad almostfasterthantheycouldopen,
and scanned the horizon, but saw no damage to the surrounding city
scape. Before he could breathe a sigh of relief, a low rumble began to
build, but from where he couldnt tell. The rumble turned into a slow, dull
metallic moan, as it grew louder andlouder.Looking from side to side, he
could not make sense of the situation. Alkowitz finally stumbled outside
behind him, also perplexed by the noise drowning out the bustle in the
streets.
34

Jeryn saw the ground beneath him darken.A shadow edged around
his office building, and had fully consumed him. A massive, triangular
shadow.
Holy hell. Jeryn gawked when he finally looked up. A large portion
of the city was now encompassed in the shadow of the
Cataclysm as the
bow of the behemoth moved over the city from the direction of the rising
sun. The ground shook as the vessel slowed, the roar of the ships
magnetic anchors filled the air. Still nearly a thousand meters above the
city, the
Cataclysm eclipsed the sun completely. Jeryn peeked over the
edge of the platform to witness a massive crowd gathering in the streets.
The nearby rooftops slowly began to fill with more confused citizens who
gatheredtowatchthespectacleunfold.
I have no idea ho Alkowitz was cut off by the distinctive engine
screech let off by a pair ofblack TIE fighters. They sweptalarminglyclose
over the governors office before veering offtobuzzanothersetofrooftops
ina low pass. Alkowitz coveredhisears.Ihavenoideahowwecanreach
any Alliance folk,butIthink I know someonewhocanatleastgettheword
out!Alkowitzsaidasheattemptedtoshoutovertheraucousabove.
Who? Jeryn asked loudly as the ships engines and subsequent
landingcraftcontinuedtoroaroverthecity.
Asmuggler we havefrequentproblemswith.Ifanyonecangetaway
fromthesebastardsnow,itshim!
Go!Findhimandgo!JerynsaidasswarmsofTIEfightersquadrons
andlandingshuttlesbegantofilltheskiesabovethem.Now!
Alkowitz gave a quick nod, and hurried inside to the turbolift. Jeryn
silently watched him leave, before turning his eyes skyward again. His
frowngrew evendeeperashesawPetriswhiteshuttlepassoverheadand
fold its wings. He briefly contemplated running for his blaster, but he knew
that would only delay the inevitable. He hedged his bets and readied
himselfforwhatmaybehisfinalhourasGovernor.

....

35

Alkowitz made his way to the local jail as fast as his old legs would
allow. The jail was only a few blocks away from the governors office, yet
the age ofhis body madeit feel like aneternity.Theexcruciatingpainfrom
hisjogquicklymadehimwishhehadaspeedertotransporthimselfon.
The streets were busier than Alkowitz had ever seen. Waves of
directionless citizens frantically swept pasthim, desperately seekingsome
kind, any kind, of escape or shelter from the monstrosities towering
overhead. Options that Alkowitz knew did not exist. Wesigways limited
assemblage of deputies attempted to maintain order, but were soon
overrunbythecalamitoushordesofpanickedcrowds.
Alkowitz knew that if the First Order was even half asbrutal as the
previousEmpire,manyofthesecitizenswouldnotsurvivethisordeal.
After what seemed to be miles of wrestling through the stampede in
the streets, Alkowitzfinally reachedhis destination. He opened the door to
the jail in a fury. Alkowitz passedthrough and shut it witha slam.Wasting
no time, he grabbed the arm of the guardwho was ondutyattheentrance
and usheredhimto follow. The two stormedtheir way intooneofthesmall
cell blockareas of thebasementand down to the farend ofacellcorridor.
Hebrushedpasttheotherguardsashemadehiswaytocellblockten.
Old Alky? What brings you down here to visit me? Seems like its
been forever since Ive had the pleasure of seeing your crusty face. The
young and smug Dorn Kepler asked as he sat on his folded out bunk
behind duraniumbarsandwatchedAlkowitzmovewithhaste.Hisdarkskin
served toobscure his facialexpressionsinthedimlylitbasementcell.You
lookawfullywellwrinkledtodayifIdosaysomyself.
Shut it! We dont have time for this! Alkowitz barked ashe fumbled
the keys and frantically tried to release the lock on the cell. You! He
pointed one of the guards.Getthemouttaherenow!Heordered,pointing
towardstheothercells.
Caught completely off guard by Alkowitzssuddendistasteforjudicial
punishment, Dorn dropped his usual sarcastic tone and curiously sat
forwardonthebunk.
Whatsgoingon?Heasked.

36

Theres no time to explain, grab your things, were leaving! Now!


The old man ordered. Dorn tookhis jacketandhurrieddownthehallwayto
the front office. He was too rushed to comprehend why Law Minister
Alkowitz, thebane ofhis existence, wasnow freeing him from his dreaded
and uncomfortable cell. Alkowitz himself had put him in there for a
particularly mild infraction, but Dorn was naturally not about to question
Alkowitzsnewdirectiononthematter.
Your ship is impounded at docking bay twelve, the release code is
threethreetwoonenineseven. Alkowitz said as he opened up a security
box with Dorns gear in it. Dorn looked on with cheery disbelief, still
blissfully ignorant of the situation that had befallen the planet. Alkowitz
handed Dorn his belt, a small pack of items, his holster, and lastly his
illegally modified blaster pistol. Dorn reached to take the gun but Alkowitz
heldontoitforamomentlonger.
I know you dont really like me kid, and I dont like you either.ButI
needyouto listento me, and listen good.Neither of us aregonnatomake
it out of here aliveif you dont do exactly whatI say. Alkowitzlet goofthe
blaster. Dorns face froze, for the first time ever, scared by the tone of his
rivalsvoice. Dorn looked directly into Alkowitzeyesasheslowlyholstered
the weapon. Thetwostartedto move towards the exit ofthefacility as the
oldmanspokemorefeverishlythanever.
Youllneedtogetthehelloutofthissystem,Hebarked.
Wait,what?Where
Anywhere but here! Reach someone in the Republic, and tell em
whats happening. Tell emtosendhelpandthatourplanetisunderattack,
wearebeingwipedout.Illtrymybesttogetyoutoyourship,butImafraid
my glory daysarelongbehindme.Hereachedintooneofhispocketsand
removed a chip and his own blaster. Take this datachip just in case,
theres evidence of everything Ive said there. You cant stop for any
reason, I dont care what laws you have to break, just do it! Alkowitz
brushed his way pasttheother guards with Dorn in tow.Astheyascended
from the basement of the complex, Dorn began to hear an unsettling
groaningnoise. It seemed tocomefromeverywhere,reverberatingthrough

37

the jails walls. What is that? He asked, trying to pin down where it was
comingfrom.
Bad,Alkowitzreplied,stilllookingforward.
The lobby of the jail filled with inmates, escortedby the dozen orso
remaining guards. Eager to make maketheir way to freedom, theyhappily
chattered amongst each other, taking little notice to the increasingly loud
droning outside. Each clutched a box carrying whatever belongings theyd
been brought in with.Alkowitz glanced overthem as they passed.He was
the one who had put most of them in their cells. None of them had
committed any particularly heinouscrime, he recalled,butlaws were laws.
He knew the looks of excitementon theirfaces wouldntlast long oncethe
doorsopened.
Let em out!He called overthecrowdtothetwoguardsstationedat
the main door. One nodded,before releasing thelocks.Thedoorscreaked
open, and the prisoners and guards started pouring into the street. The
cheers and joyful chatter that previously filled the lobby stopped
immediately. The herd of inmates froze, staring in bewilderment at what
their freedomhadsuddenlyturnedinto.Alkowitzpushedthroughthedoors,
draggingDornalongwithhim.
Dorn looked on towards the crowds of screaming people scattered
outside. He noticed the eerie darkness cast over the city, slowly hishead
turned skywards to see asheetsof metal in place of the sky.Thegigantic
silhouette blocked out the sun, and hordes of small craft filled the
cityscape. Dorn didnt know what he had missed during his past week in
jail, but heknew onethingforsure,andthatwasthatMinisterAlkowitzwas
seriouswhenhesaidthattheymaynotmakeitoutalive.
The minister pointed to anearbysecurity forcesspeeder that looked
tobeabandoned.
Getin!Alkowitzshouted.
Dorn hopped over to the passenger side as Alkowitz took the
controls. The paint was chipped and several panels were missing, but it
was the best the securityforces could muster on a worldsuch as this.The
twospeddowntheroad,leavingatrailofdustbehindthem.
Areyoucrazy?Slowdown!Dornshoutedinsurprise.
38

I maybe old now,butIusedtomakepunkslikeyoulookslow.Now,


watch and learn boy! The Minister said with a slight smirk on his face.
Dorn heldon fordearlifeasAlkowitzpresseddownonthespeedersthrust
accelerator. He felt like he wasgoingtobethrownoutthebackofthecraft.
As soon as Dorn wasable to grasp hold of something in his seat, a squad
ofFirst Orderstormtroopersappeared on the corner before them.Itlooked
like they werepreparinga makeshiftroadblockwithbarriers,wiredfencing,
and gun emplacements. They took up positions ontheirhastilyestablished
checkpoint.
The minister pulled a hard right and barely clipped the side of a
building, as blaster fire narrowly missed them. The tight turn threw Dorn
hard into his door. Only barely recovered from the jarring experience, the
speedersooncrossedintoachaotictrafficlane.
Watch out! Dorn pointed as two FirstOrderassaultspeedersnearly
collided into them from across the street. Edging past them, the minister
lookedbackandshouted.
Nottoday,bucketheads!
A small smile appeared on Dorns face but was quickly replaced by
fear as a stream of blaster firedartedacrossthe hood ofthe speederfrom
behind.
Two combat bikes, manned by stormtroopers, had taken chase to
them.
Shootback,wouldya!Alkowitzordered.
Dorn, still in shock from everything happening so fast, was not fully
able to process hisnewreality.Amazednotjustfromhisrelease,buttothe
chaos outside and the fact that the harshest man hed ever met was
actually quitea bit of fun to bearound. Dorn hesitated a bitbeforedrawing
his blaster pistol. He had never been involved in a chase with the First
Orderbeforeandnever thoughthed get the chance to be inone,letalone
withthemanwhomhedespisedthemost.
Another round of blaster fire skimmed the engines of the security
speeder. Dorn took cover behind the seat. He had been in quite a few
firefightsbefore withtheusualbackwatergangstertypesorwannabetough
guys, butthe Order was different. It requireda greater levelof focus. Dorn
39

knew enough from experience andcommon sense that remaining ascalm


as possible was almost always the bestbet when it came toaccuracy ina
firefight.
He had always been a big fan of gambling and learned to leverage
the odds as best he couldto his favor. Heapplied that knowledge tomany
circumstances in his life and being in the passenger seat of a speeding
securityforcescraftwasnodifferentthananyother,hesupposed.
He had heard stories of the old imperial stormtroopers but he had
neverseen themup closeandpersonal.Dornbegantopopshotsoffatthe
speeders. He always thought that being able tohit amoving targetwasno
differentfromhittingastationaryone,youjusthadtocompensateabit.
Dorn quickly realized that it was much harder in practice then he
envisioned. Especially while moving atthespeedsAlkowitz was driving at.
He managed to hit one of the bikes thrusters and the lead trooper lost
control. Alkowitzcontinuedto zigandzagacrossthestreets,dodgingother
speeders, roadblocks, and panicked crowds alike. The engines whined
loudly as he struggled to push them harder and faster, well beyond their
designedparameters.
Alkowitz pointed the speeder at a low bridge, hedging his bets, he
pressedonatfullspeed.

Hang on! He shouted as Dorn turned around and screamed loudly


at the sight of the rapidly approaching tight space. The speeder swooped
underthebridge,thesides ofitshullscratchingagainstitslowceilingand
shot out trailsof sparks. Apanel or two flew off sides as Dornlookedback
aroundtoseealargeexplosionatthebaseofthebridge.
Alkowitz finally began to slow down as they approached the docking
bay. The twodismountedasthemuffledsoundsofblasterfireandscreams
filled the streets. Dorn noticed several fresh blaster marks on the side of
the bay and readied his weaponasthetwomadetheirwayinside.Thebay
guardwas dead,his body layat theentrance,smokingandlimp.Downthe
corridor there were signs of a struggle and many cargo containers
containingvitalmedicalsuppliesforthecitywerealreadydestroyed.

40

Finally making it to bay eleven, Dorn ran over to his vessel, asmall
blue courier, the
Morina
. He was very pleased and surprised to see it
unharmed.HeturnedtoAlkowitz,
Ithoughtyoutoldmeyouweregoingtoslagit?Dornasked.
I hadnt gotten around to it yet. He said as he quickly entered the
release codes and made his way to the control booth to open the bay
doors.
The joyous moment came to an end as blaster fire erupted fromthe
bayentrance.Ateamofstormtroopersmovedin,blastingawayatDorn.He
darted to cover, and began to return fire but found himself confinedto his
rapidly failing area of safety. The damaged shipping crates to his left and
right were quickly destroyed by blaster fire and nearby scaffolding was
faringlittlebetter.
Alkowitz realized Dorn was trapped and drew his own blaster from
beneath his robes. He slammed the controls and forced the bay doors
open.With a deep breath,hethenrantowardsthelargewindowbeforethe
controlpanel.Theglassshatteredashedroppedtothefloorbelow,landing
directlyononeoftheadvancingtroopers
Fairing the trauma ofthelandingindifferently,Alkowitzopenedfireon
the next nearest trooper, blasting a large hole in his armor and knocking
him back several feet. The three remaining troopers turned their attention
toAlkowitz,as

heranforcovertowardsthenearestcrate.
Dorn capitalized on the distraction and opened fire on the team
leader, striking him in the back of thehead and shoulder. He ranforward
and continued to fire and made his way towards Alkowitz, who was
hunchedoverbehindasmalltransportdolly.
Alkowitz slid to the side of the dolly to take another shot, but was
instantlystruckbyablasterboltinthearm,whichviolentlyspunhimaround
and knockedhis pistol from his grip.Dornleapedforward,ramminghimself
into the nearest trooper.Briefly stunned, the trooperstruggledtoregainhis
footing.
A contestbetween themensued asthelasttrooperdebatedhowand
when to take the shot. Aiming down his sights, he prepared to pull the
trigger, lining up Dorn as his target. The trooper collapsed at the last
41

second and dropped his rifle. As the trooper saw the death of his partner,
Dorn gained the upper hand and struck the troopers helmet with his own
blaster rifle. The visor broke and cut his face as he stumbled backwards,
unabletorecoverbeforeDornunleashedasalvoofblasterfireonhim.
Alkowitz collapsed backdown to the ground, he had used the last of
his strength to regainhisweapon, situpright, and pull off a luckyshot with
hisoffhand.
Dorn ran overto Alkowitz, hewas losinglarge amountsof blood. He
ripped offa section ofAlkowitzsrobes and began to apply pressure tothe
wound. He looked around for help, but saw nothingbutthe bodies of dead
stormtroopers and broken crates. Alkowitz began to cough loudlyas Dorn
attemptedtoprophisheadupright.
Illgethelp!Dornsaidashejoltedupwards.
No you idiot! Alkowitz said as he grabbed Dorns arm and pulled
himbackdown.
Youre going to die if we dont get you fixed up, old man. Dorn
retorted.
You need to leave right nowor else you neverwill.Alkowitzsaidas
a small stream of blooddrippedoutofthecornerofhismouth.Dornlooked
toAlkowitzwithaveiloffrustration.
Dorn, you're a pain in the ass, but you'rea good kid.Alkowitz said
between coughs. Im sorry about how things werent good between us.
Youre young. This isyour chance tostart over, lifes tooshortnottomake
it count. I would know. Alkowitz said as he firmly grasped Dorns shirt
collar. After all this isover, stay out oftroublenow,yahear?Heaskedas
hepattedDornsshoulder.
Nowget!Go!EveryoneoutthereiscountingonyouAlkowitzsaid
ashiswordstrailedoffandtheglimmerinhisoldeyesdimmed.Hisarmfell
to the ground. Dorns face softenedas his hatred ofthe old mandied with
him. He had always believedAlkowitzsdeath would havegivenhimcause
for celebration, but he now released how wrong he was on a great deal
manythingsinlife.
The sound of nearby blaster fire brought Dorn back to reality as he
ran to the entrance of his ship. Inside the main hold sat his small,
42

deactivated partner. A small blue droid squealed backafter Dorn removed


his restraining bolt. V3 was a Mark Two BB series astromech droid. His
head spun on a swivel, attached to one larger center wheel with tracks,
affixed onthesides byasmallframe.V3hadbeenDornspartnerincrime
for several years and knew a thing or two about hacking computer
mainframes, shutting down security networks, and keeping the
Morina
operational.
Heybuddy.Hesaidsoftlyasthedroidpoweredup,slowandgroggy
like that of a waking child.Dorn smiled and took to his seat inthecockpit.
He whipped some dust off ofseveralcontrolpanelsas he began tofire up
theenginesandpreparedfortakeoff.

43

Chapter4:DivineIntervention

Falix looked off to the rear bulkhead of the assault transport. In the
doorwaystood the female KnightofRenwhohadhijackedhisplatoonfora
secret mission. He observed her stance, she was smoothlikeice,yeteven
from adistance, he couldfeel anunsettling burnemanatingfromherbody.
Before he realized that he made a mistake by watching her for too long,
she turned towards him. Her face was concealed by the sharp and rigid
bisected faceplates of her helmet. The stark contrast of vertical chrome
lines atop her helmet's visor served to be very distracting as the craft
lightninggleamedoffthem.
What is on your mind, SergeantFalix?Sheaskedwithasuprisingly
calm demeanor. The subtle chatter amongthetroops in the bay ended as
Falix rose to his feet, squaring his shoulders to her. Care to share? Her
questionbouncedoffthemetalpanelsofthewallsthankstohermetallically
garbledvoice.
Yeah, I do. He replied. The female knight simply waited for him to
continue.Tell me what me and my boysaredoing here. He spokewith a
senseofdefiance,clearlyaggravated.
Induetime,Sergeant.Shesaid.
Due time? Falix tossed back. Ihave donea lotof time,how about
n
You will know when youneed toknow, Sergeant. Sherepliedmore
sternly. Many of the soldiersexchanged brief glances between each other,
thenfixedtheirgazesbacktoFalix.
We are nearly to our destination. Prepare for landing.She ordered
and turned her back to Falix. A portrait of anger enveloped Falixs face.
Aggressively, he bestowed his helmet. The troops readied their gear and
tooktheirpositionsastheyfeltthetransportbegintodecelerate.

....

Petriss shuttle lowered itself onto the landing pad outside the
governors office. Swarms of small patrol craft and TIE fightersflew about
44

over the city above him. Petris stepped off of the shuttle ramp to find the
lone Governor Jeryn awaiting him on the landing pad. A slight wind blew
throughtheairandruffledeachothersjackets.
CaptainPetris!Jerynunleashedinanexplosivefit.
My good governor, if you would please just remain calm and follow
me. Petris ordered with a phlasid demeanor. After a quick gaze at the
detachment of stormtroopers approaching, Jeryn reluctantly followed suit.
The two made their way into the shabby office, however this time Petris
remained near the doorway. Please, take a seat. He said and motioned
his arm forward towardsthe desk. Jerynnervouslysatdownwhilelistening
to the sounds of blaster fire and chaos inthe background. Petris staredat
thegovernorforamomentbeforeaskinghimasimplequestion.
Tellme,GovernorJeryn,doyoubelieveindestiny?Heasked.
Destiny? No. The sweaty and nervous governor replied in short
order.
I knew from the day I was born, I was meant to lead the galaxy to
greatness. I dont know how but, perhaps in a past life I was a great
commanderlike Tarkin,Karath or Yularen, Petris saidas he observed the
room, giving it a dissatisfied lookover while he paced around. Youknow,
Ivealwayswonderedsomething,Governor?Healluded.
Thatis?Jerynrespondedquicklyandwithgreatagitation.
What guides our destiny, what assigns us to our fates? Petris
paused, momentarily caught up in his thoughts, Have you ever asked
yourselfthat?
No Captain, to me theres only luck. Jeryn saidas sweat continued
todripdownhisforehead.IwanttoknowwhyJerynwascutoff.
Its a pity.Butyou, Sir... youareverylucky.Petrispointedhisfinger
directly at Jeryn as he shook his hand. This moment is your great
awakeningGovernor.Fornotonlydoyouplayacriticalroleinmydestiny
He pausedashebestowedahanduponhischestandmotionedtotherear
withtheother.Thegovernorgraspedhisdeskashisheartbegantorace.
Two additional stormtroopers silently made their way into the office.
These two appearedvastly different fromtherestofthetroopersJerynhad
seen over the past days. Their white helmets took on a curvier shape,
45

ending intwotusklikemetallicprotrusions.Thepronouncedeyepiecesand
twisted grin of the standard helmets was replaced by only a single black
slit. Their weapons appeared even more foreign and menacing long
angular riflelength weapons, whose handgrips ended in a hose that
snaked around thetroopersbodytosomesortofapparatusontheirbacks.
but you are part of a greater destiny, one shaping the fate of the entire
galaxy. Without you, your world, your assistance, the ascendance of the
Order would not be possible. Petris said as his voice turned suddenly
sharp and cold. But your services to the Order, Im afraid, are no longer
required.
You wont get away with this! He screamed as he slammed the
table with his wet fists. If you think the Republic is just going to sit back
and watch, you got another thing comin you scumbucket! Wewillnotbe
subjugated!Hisarm cutacrosshis desk ashe barked and tooktohisfeet
in a wobbly, shaken stance. Petris turned to face Jeryn, his voice was as
bleakasthenightisdark.
Oh, on the contrary my good governor. I am all too well aware of
that.He saidas his signature demented smilecrawledacrosshisface.He
watched Jeryn for a short moment, the governor was left in complete
despair upon the discovery of the horrible truth behind Petriss perverted
words. Only now,realising he had played right into Petrisshand, rightinto
some sort of elaborate trap. Petris drank in the governors horrid blank
starebeforesteppingthroughthedoorway.
Burnit! Petris loudly ordered with excitement as he exitedtheroom
with a boisterous laugh. The two troopers pulled their triggers and the
weapons ignited a fire at the end of their barrels. The room was then
engulfedinsearinghotflames.
Petris walked to his shuttle as the office burned behind him, his
comlinkbeeped,towhichheanswered.
Petrishere.
Sir,GeneralHuxrepliesthatdinnerisserved.Tomasulreported.
Ha!Excellent.Thenletusfeast,Commander!Petrisresponded.
Whatareyourorders,Sir?Tomasulasked.

46

Hold position and continue pacification operations. Kill anyone that


resists,simplyenjoytheshow.Petrisordered.
Sir?Tomasulaskedwithhisusuallevelofconfusion.
My friend, the enemy shall soon be upon us, and with them they
bring the birthof the new era.I amoff to makea quickvisit, Ill bebackon
board in a few hours. Petris out. He said as he shut off his comlink.
Lieutenant!Petrisbarkedashestormedtowardshisshuttle.
YesSir?Oneofhisentourageontheplatformedanswered.
Prepare for take off, General Hux is expecting us aboard the
Finalizer
,andwereinvitedtosupper.
Yes, Sir, right away! The Lieutenant replied and hurried off to the
boardtheshuttle.
Petris turned to observe the burning government center. Its flames
rose high for all to see. The city was in chaos, and above all he had
completed his mission. He knew by the look of shock and horror on the
governors face that he had indeed sentword tosomeone in the Republic.
In his mind, it was only a matter of time before an unstoppable series of
events were set into motion that would see the destructionofRepublicand
therebirthofanewGalacticEmpire.

....

Dorns ship, the


Morina blasted along the canyon side,twoblackTIE
fighters in hot pursuit. A series of green laser blots shot past to the left,
thenanotherseriestotheright.
V3! Tell me you got those weapons unlocked! Dorn shouted back
downthenarrowcorridortothemainholdfromthecockpit.
Voobeepdoo! The small droid squealed. A large thud rocked the
vesselasitsshieldsabsorbedanotherdirecthit.
You gotta be kidding me! Dorn screamed in frustration as he
frantically hitswitches and levers to redirect powerto theshields.Thanks
for telling me about the door lock, what good does it do me without the
weapon or hyperspace unlock codes! Dorn belted asV3respondedwitha
loudandfrustratedbeep.
47

The
Morina
pulled a hard left and headed for a narrowed section of
the canyon. The engines of the ship could retract inwards, as could the
wingsand fins of thecraft.Dornbankedataharshangleandtilteditnearly
ninety degrees. He reached to his left and closed the flaps, shrinking the
sizethevesselbynearlyhalf.
They passedthrough the tight squeeze, but much to his dismayboth
TIE fighters darted through the fold andquicklyregainedpursuit.V3rolled
across the ship, ripping off access panels and accessing computer
terminals as he was frequently jarred from his position and tossed about.
Despite his incredible abilities, he was still no closer to unlocking the
weaponsandhyperdrive.
V3 we are going to need a miracle and we are gonna needit fast!
Dorn shouted back as he engaged in a cyclone of violent spins. V3 got
thrown from his computer terminal again and let out a long, loud yelping
noise as he flew across the main hold and into a panel next to the
refresher. The quickinhouse flightdid not damage V3, but the panel was
not so lucky, neither was the circuitry underneath. The door to the refresh
flew open, and out came flying a young female Zabrak in a yellow dock
workersjumpsuit.
Shebarelyhadenoughtimetobraceherselfbeforeshesmackedinto
the bulkhead adjacent to therefresher.V3let out another louddistressed
noise, but both were tossed again as the
Morina
executed another sharp
seriesofspins.
V3? Dorn inquired upon hearing the new series of violent beeps
andanewvoicefortherear.
What thehellisgoingon?TheyoungZabrakscreamedtowardsthe
cockpit.
Who the hell are you? Why are you on my ship? Dorn asked
disturbed,distractedforabriefmomentfromthechaosoutside.
Long story! She said somewhat embarrassed as she struggled to
stand up amid the turbulent flight. Another heavy rumble shook the ship
and knocked her back to the deck, the loud clatter of panels, tools, and
looseitemscrashedaroundher.

48

For a briefmoment, Dornglimpsed backto see her worksuit, hewas


taken aback by her beauty, lost in the moment. He snapped out of it and
instantlyrecognizedherasadockworker.
Youanengineer?Heaskedfrantically.
Sorta,dependsonwhatyo
Great! Get the guns working or were toast! He responded as his
face tensed as several bright explosions erupted tooneartothecockpitfor
hisliking.
Huh? She asked as V3 rolled up to her and unleashed a flurry of
beepsandboops,towhichsheseemedtounderstand.
Thestarboardcompensatorislocked?Sheasked.
V3 responded with a loud squeal as his head spun quickly in
frustration before stopping abruptly and shot one ofhissmallmaintainance
armstowardsanopenpaneltotheirleft.
The
Morina
rolled again and sent the Zabrak and the V3 sliding
across the deck into said panel. She let out a loud gasp as she smacked
intothebulkheadwithherarms.
Whatever you want,itsnot possible if you keep flying likethis!She
balkedtowardsthecockpit.
No choice! Weapons! Fix! Now! Please! Dorn responded in
desperation.
Still confused but now relatively certain that her life depended on it,
shepeekedherheadintotheexposedpanel.
Ill need a shortrange spanner! I think! She yelled to V3, who
offered a rolling nod before he set off about the maincabin to locateone.
She reachedin and placed her handon the starboard compensator, which
directed energy to many of the ship's vital systems, the weapons,
hyperdrive, atmospheric controls,andscanners.Thedevicefeltcold,which
meantnoenergywasgoingthroughit.
V3 wheeled back and handed off the spanner before another spin
sent him flying across the hold,andtheZabrakheldontothecompensator
for dear life. As she dangled fromthepanel she looked up and noticed an
oddly shaped box attached to one of the power supply nodes next to the
compensator.
49

The ship righted itself and she hit the deck with a thud, a second
before V3 came crashing into the wall right next to her. The young
engineerpushed herself into the spacebetween two largemetalpolesand
took the shortrange spanner in her right hand. With all her might she
began to bash against the box until it had broken free. She slid out of the
panelandhandedV3thedestroyedspannertool.
Reset your reactor now and you will have weapons! She yelled
towardsthecockpit.
Here goes nothing! Dorn said rhetorically as he punched the
accelerator to full throttle and pitched the
Morina
straight up into the air.
Again, both passengers were thrown to the rear of the ship as loose tools
and panels pelted them. The two TIE fighters throttled up to match the
speedofthe
Morinas
ascent.
Hey!Dornshoutedbacktothecabinastheyaccelerated.
What! She responded as she held onto the central legof the main
tablefordearlife.
You got name?He shotback, flipping switches and preparing fora
fullinflightshutdown.
Hailey! My name is Hailey! She shouted as another explosion
rockedthecraft.
Dorn! He shouted as the last of his cockpit controls went blank.
Nowholdontight!Heroaredashebracedhimselfinthepilotsseat.
He yanked his controls hard as the ship spun around to face theup
and coming TIE fighters. He extended the wings and engine flaps to their
maximum deployment as he slammed the reset buttonwith hisfist. Within
secondsthe
Morina
wasinanosedive,directlytowardsthegroundandthe
TIE fighters. Caught completely off guard, the TIE pilots rolled hard to get
outofthewayandavoidthevesselswings,flapsandenginepylons.
C'monbaby, c'mon! Dorn said to himself as hewatchedtheground
get closer, hishandsanxiously poisedontheaccelerator.Finally,thelights
ofthe control panelsflickeredandfullpowerwasrestored.Dornflooredthe
engines, banked the craft upwards with all his might and flipped several
switches to his right and brought the weapons online. The maneuver
caused a moment of zerogravity within the main hold where the Zabrak
50

and V3 floated past each other amid a field of tools,bolts, and panels as
V3whinedallthewaytotheotherside.
Momentarily dazed, the TIE pilots again took chase to the
Morina.

Dorn waited and let them get in close before deploying the rear laser
cannons. He fired off two controlled bursts from each, and blasted oneof
the fighters out of sky. The second fighter, clearly seeing that the tide had
turned,brokeoffhispursuitandheadedbacktowardsthecity.
Finally! Dorn let out in an excited yell. Seizing the moment, Dorn
fired up the afterburners and pointed the ship skywards. Within a few
moments the blue sky faded to black as the stars began to shimmer into
existence.
Holdon backthere!Dorn warned. Youmightwanttostrapyourself
in,thingscouldgetalittlebumpy!
Now you tell us! the Zabrak shouted back with frustration as she
picked up V3 and placed him on the site next to her, and locked
themselvesintooneofthenearbyseats.
Dornreachedforwardonhiscontrolandpanelandinputaquickcode
before pulling back on the hyperdrive levers. After a brief delay the ship
rumbled and shook as the stars became lines and the
Morina
spun into
hyperspace.

....

Petriss shuttle made its wayintoorbit, its large whitewingsreflected


the light of the sun. Before long it wasjoined up by anescort of blackTIE
fighters with red stripes along their spherical cockpits. These TIEs were
much more heavily armed than the ones aboard Petriss ship, and were
reinforced with bulkier components and more structural bracing then the
normalfighters.Eachhadarearwindowandroomforacopilot.
His shuttle turned towards the planets moon, Tolarus. This moon
was very different from that of anordinary moon, formuch of its body was
porous, more akin to the inside of anasteroid than aplanetoid. Themoon
held no atmosphere and had only a few sparse mining outposts onit. The

51

caverns and the tunnels within were often miles wide in diameter and
presentednochallengetonavigate,evenforlargevessels.
Scanners and other sensory equipment frequently malfunctioned
inside the moon due to the residue of once rich deposits of Analimkim, a
rare metal best suited forunderwater construction. Petris made hiswayto
the cockpit and looked on at the moon, and to the sides to see his new
escorthadarrivedonschedule.
This is HOneNine to shuttle craft
Rapture
The voice of a TIE
fighterpilotsoundedontheintercom.
Thisis
Rapture
,wereadyou.OneofPetrisspilotsanswered.
Adjust heading to threethreeseven point four. Well take you in.
Thepilotordered.
Understood,
Raptureout.Saidtheshuttlepilot.The
Rapturebanked
to match the approach of the fighters, angled directly at one of the larger
holesonthesurfaceofthemoon.
As the craft banked and turned for what seemed to be agesthrough
the dark winding tunnelsof the moon, they came upon alargecavernnear
themiddle.Itswallsstretchedonformilesineverydirection.
Sir! One of the pilots called out as he pointed across his control
interfacetotheleft.
At the center of the cavern was the Star Destroyer
Finalizer,
along
withfiveotherResurgentClassStarDestroyersandnearlyadozensmaller
frigates, cruisers, and support ships. The fighter escort broke off and
rejoined the thousands of other fightersand small craftbuzzing aroundthe
cavern.
Petriss shuttle entered the port side hangar of the Star Destroyer
Finalizer as the attention alarm sounded. As the
Raptures wings folded
and the landing gear was lowered. Petris noticed a large detachment of
stormtroopersquicklymarchinginformationtothebaseoftheshuttle.
The exit rampedloweredasPetristriumphantlyexitedthecrafttofind
the detachment of stormtroopers at attention, for him. General Hux made
his way down the aisle with several of hissenior staff. Dressed in hisown
charcoal grey officers uniform, he had asmile on his face as heextended
hisarmouttowardsPetrismidstride.
52

Petriseagerlyaccepted.
Malivark!Huxshouted.
Valin!Petrisreplied.
I am very excited to hear about the mission, I am sorry that some,
complicationshavearisen.Iseverythingalright?Huxasked.
Yes, for the moment. We had a surprise visitor. Petris said with
disdain,asthetwoturnedtowalktowardstheturboliftaheadofHuxsstaff.
Wasit him?Huxasked witha quieter voice, as nottobeoverheard
byhisstaff.
No,itwasthefemale,Onda.Petrisrepliedinanequallysoftertone.
Hux breathed a quick sigh ofrelief. Good, thenthisoperation is still
salvageable.Doyouknowwhysheishere?Huxasked.
She was not very forthcoming, she requested a detachment of my
men, Iputoneof my best withher,Platoon SergeantFalix. Whatevershe
is up too, he will inform me as soon as he knows. Petris answered inan
attempttoofferreassurance.
I grow tired of these Ren. I feel their usefulness will soon run its
course, with the Jedi defeated, I find lesser and lesser strategic value in
themeveryday.Huxaddedwithirritation.
Acultofwizardsandlunatics,nothingmore.Petrisagreed.
If only. Make no mistake, they could undo everything we have
worked towards. Hux added before hestopped himself. Perhaps this is a
conversation better carriedon in private.Asthetwoexchangedglancesat
Huxs lingering staff entering the turbolift. Petris nodded and changed the
subject.
We will not let history repeat itself, not again. Hux added as he
receivedanendearingnodfromPetris.
Truerwordsneverspoken.Petrisreplied.
Come now, my chefs have prepared your favorite meal, roast
Baxton! Hux said. The two exited the turbolift and proceeded towards the
CaptainsMess.

53

Chapter5:TheLost

Brightlights fromthetwoassaulttransportsscannedtheareaasthey
touched down ina rocky clearing surrounded by exhausted salt mines and
plateaus.A recedingwarm orangeglowhummedacrossthehorizonasthe
light gave way to blue and finallyto black. Dust and sand blew across the
darkened landing site before the dry Serradoe Valley. Sergeant Falix and
his men disembarked first and securedthe landingzone.TheRenstepped
off behind him as the transports powered down their engines. One of the
squad leaders looked around, gathering affirmative signals from the other
leaders,andturnedtoFalix.
Perimetersecure.Hereported.
Falix turned to the Ren, his body squared towards hers, his helmet
hid his facial expression but his body language made his disapproval
apparent.
Your heading is twentyseven degrees, get the platoon moving,
Sergeant. Onda Ren ordered as she observed the troops positions, not
directlyfacingFalix.
Falix tookseveral aggressivestepstowardsher.Itsgoingtobedark
soon. Whatever you plan to do, it better be quick. He snapped before
giving the squad leaders there marching orders. The Ren appeared to
ignorehimandmovedoutbehindthetroop.
With a tall plateau to their backs, before them was shallow valley of
sparse vegetation and loose dirtwhich flewabout in anoccasionalgust of
wind. No lifeforms dwelled out on the surface in the daylight. With little to
nowaterorshade,fewthingscouldsurvivelonginitsextremeheat.
Several kilometers ahead of them, in the base of the valley lay dry
river bed,acrossfrom whichwasa largeabandonedsaltsminingcomplex.
Thefacilitieslookedrelativelymodernfromafar,itsperimeterhowever,was
fenced off. Several buildings were embedded into the cliffside of the
plateauandmuchoftheminingmachinerylaystillacrossitsgrounds.
The waning sun finally set onthehorizon asthe platoonreachedthe
river bed. All of the stormtroopers activated their helmet lights as they
54

traversed the dirt. Falix kept his attention affixed towards the facilities
aheadofhim,unsureofwhatlayinwaitfortheplatoonwhentheyarrived.
The platoon reached theoutskirts oftheminingproperty and tookup
a defensivepositioninarockyoutcropping.FalixturnedtotheRen,hesaid
nothing but thestanceofhisbodysaideverything.Hewasnothappyabout
the platoon being outon the planet at night. With thelittle preparation time
he had, Falix had read up on the planets violent underground ecosystem
anditslargevarietyofnighttimepredators.
OndawalkedforwardtowardsFalix.
Come with me. Shesaid asshebrushedpasthimandclimbedover
several largerocks towardsa clearing in front ofthemakeshiftpatrolbase,
hercapegustedbehindher.
Falix hoppedoutside of the platoons perimeter and stoodbesidethe
Ren.
This mining facility is not what it appears to be, Sergeant. Do you
notice anything unusual about it? She asked, her gaze affixed on the
outpost as she placed her foot upona large rockbeforethem.Falixlooked
onward for a moment, he had already surveyed thesitewhen the platoon
arrived. Sensingthatthepurpose ofhismissionwas soon tobeexplained,
he took the time to activate his transmitter and visual recorder on his
helmetwithouttheRensnotice.
It looks new the other ones we passed were old. Something
happenedhere,recently.HesaidashelookedtotheRen.
Yes,very true.TherecordsyourCaptaincollectedfromthegovernor
indicated that something happened here the day the
Cataclysm arrived in
orbit. Something very strange indeed. She said and brushed aside a flap
of her robes and reached for a holographic display projector on her utility
belt.
Falix pondered the meaning of her words, but more so how it was
possible thatsheknew all of this,notjustabout the planet, but the actions
ofthe Captain. Drawing a seriesof connectionsrather quickly,hereleased
that she must have had spies aboard the ship, and his defenses went up.
No longer caring that the captain would soon see this himself, his temper
begantoboil.
55

Sensing his sudden realizationas she unclipped the displayer, Your


mind is very perceptive, Sergeant.Shesaid sensing that Falix had begun
to deduce what was happening. Let us hope it stays that way. We will
need it where we are going. She added as she finally dropped the
projectorandactivatedthehologram.
We believe that inside this facility isanoldImperialDatabase,within
it is information critical tothe survivaloftheOrder.Sheexplainedafterthe
holographicreadoutoftheminedisplayed.
You believe? You brought us here to search a camp forsomething
you'renotevensureishere?Falixasked,irritatedly.
No, she paused to collect her thoughts, someone, or something,
killed everyone within the facility when the
Cataclysm
arrived. The local
forces havenothadtimetoinvestigate,largelyinpartduetoyourCaptain's
invasion of the planet. She paused another moment, looking directly at
Falix.I donotbelieve it was acoincidence. We have been looking forthis
databaseforsometimenow.Sheexplained.
Here. On Dibora. Falix stopped her. The Empire never had any
bases near here, it would have been impossible to secure something like
this.Hesaidasheshookhishead.
Perhapsfor grunts and mudeaters, butsometimesthebestplaceto
hide something is the last place anyone would want to go look for it, the
moredangerousthebetter.It was likelystashed awayinthelowercaverns
due to how difficult it is to scan through the materials on this world, and
also due to the beasts below. I believe these dead miners unearthed this
database by accident. They didnt even know it until it was too late. She
lookedtoFalix.
So you think that we activated
it somehow when we arrived. Falix
concluded.
The Ren gave a single confirmatory nod. The transponder
frequencies aboard the
Cataclysm are very similar to that of the old
Imperial StarDestroyers,andcertainlymorepowerful.Therecentactivityin
this mine must have cleared away enough of the material for the
transpondertogetaclearreadingontheshipinorbit.
Whydoyouwantthis,whateveritis?Falixprobed.
56

Fortheinformationcontainedwithinit.
WehaverecoveredthousandsofImperialdatabanks,whyisthisone
special?Heprobedagain.
Thatisnoneofyourconcern,Sergeant,sherespondedsternly,you
areheretofollowmyorders.
I am not sending my men in there until I know what that is! He
respondedequallysternly.
Do you know who youre talking to, Sergeant? She responded as
her own temper began to flare. Several of the nearest stormtroopers
poppedupovertherocksbehindthemtoinvestigatethedisturbance.
A mystical lunatic! He said defiantly. Go ahead, Lady Vader, use
your magic, but remember therearethirtysix ofusandoneofyou.Doyou
even know that it was the likes of youwhich destroyed the Empire? Both
parties took note of the growing number of troopers heads popping up
above the rocks behind them. Ive seen much scarier things than you
Ren! Falix said as he took an aggressive step toward the Ren, bringing
themfacetoface.
Im sure you have. She saidstanding perfectly still, the burn ofher
eyestransposedhervisor.
The tense standoff was quickly interrupted by a loud bellowinghowl
from somewhere out of sight behind the rocky outcropping. Everyone
began to look around in concern. Another loud howl went off, after which
Falixjumpedatopthenearestboulder.
Inside the facility, now!He order ashe waved hishandupwardand
downindicatingthatthetroopsneededtomoveatdoubletime.Theplatoon
quickly packed up theirgearastheybegantosprinttowardsthefacilityina
disorganizedstampede.
There was no time to put the men into any kind of formation, Falix
knew that it was already too late to stop the inevitable. Another howling
roar broke out across the night sky, this time much, much closer. The
facility gate was still several hundred meters away. The ground rumbled
and shook as theearth infront of the platoongave way and shotupwards
inamassiveplumeofsand.

57

The frontmost membersof theplatoonbegantoindiscriminatelyblast


away into thedusty smoke, out of which the mouth of a largeverkaworm,
nearly ten meters in diameter flared its thousands of teeth towards the
platoon. Before Falix could issue orders, the giant worm descended upon
the platoon, latching onto one stormtrooper with a long tongue and
crushingseveralothersintheprocess.
The rest of the platoon fired into the worms side as the squad
leaders moved their men to encirclethecreature. Falixhadtakennotethat
the Ren stood totherearandwatchedtheplatooninaction.Hewasfartoo
busy to be angry. Via his helmet comlink, he ordered all team leaders to
detach their fragmentation grenades, set the timer to its shortest marker,
andstandbyforhismark.
As he reached for his own grenade, the worm shot upwards and
preparedfor its nextstrike. Waiting untilitsdescent began, Falixgavethe
order to throw. Just short of a dozen grenades landed at the base of the
worminunisonandexplodedshortlythereafter.
Bloodand clumps of flesh spewed out all over the platoon, theworm
shrieked in agony as it thrusts itself down below the surface. Knowing it
was only a mattera time until it returned, even more enraged than thefirst
time, Falix shouted out to his men as they began to sprint towards the
fence.
The platoon made it to the perimeteras the ground began to rumble
again. Falix quickly realized that the fence was much stronger and more
elaborate than he thought before. It appeared to have an electrical
component to it which was deactivated. He deduced that itwasa security
measure to keep the beasts out of the camps, but without a means of
activatingit,itdidhimlittlegood.
The groundcontinuedtoshakeasseveralofhismenbashedawayat
some of the fencing to tryandbend itenough to get aman through. Their
effort was to no avail as the metalwas toostrong. Another loud howl filled
the sky the as men turned with their backs to the fence and prepared to
engagethemonsteragain.
Before he could react, Falix and the troopernext to him were jolted
out of their position with aburst ofenergyas theyboth flew out sideways.
58

He attempted to recover, but Falix quickly found that the Ren had lept to
her feet, from where he could not tell,and landed squarely in the opening
betweenthem. She withdrew a chromecylinder from her belt andigniteda
beam of white light from its top. Many of the nearby troops instantly
recognized it as a lightsaber and were momentarily distracted by the
display.
The Ren cut out a man size hole in the fence and then jolted her
hand forward sending the parts of the heavy metal fence flying into the
grounds of the facility. Falix frantically ordered the meninside the campas
he guarded the new entrance himself. The Ren took offwith great speed,
her figured turned to a blur as shedashed through the gap and made her
waytowardsthecontrolroom.Sheblastedthedoorwayapartwiththeforce
from afar andjumped through the now broken entrance. Ondaslidinto the
control panel and began to flip switches as she looked out the window to
seetheplatoonmovingintothefacility.

Falixjumpedacrossthefenceasshethrustedthemainleverforward,
the sparks jolts out from the main power generator and spattered across
power lines as millions of volts of electricity jumped from one pole to the
next. A blue field that encompassed the length of the fenceas the energy
shotdownwardsintotheground.
The worm shot up from the ground in front of the perimeter. It
screamed into the air, its body shook as bolts of energy tore through its
already wounded body. Unable to escape, the worm began tosmolder as
its screams turned to whines, and finally to silence. The massive beast
collapsed to the ground in a roasted clump of bloody flesh, the battle was
over.
Falix shook himself off, and directed his squad leaders to conduct
and accountability check. He noticed the blown outdoorway of thecontrol
room and movedto investigate.Thetired sergeantplacedhis hand onthe
twisted frame. He feltthewarped metal andlookedto the Ren who in turn
looked back to him. Their eyes meet in the empty space between their
blackened visors, full well knowing what each others eyes said beneath.
The voiceless conversation ended as Falix slowly nodded, and departed
towardstheregroupedplatoon.
59

....

Petris turned off the large view screen before him, it was much like
the one inhis personal messaboardthe
Cataclysm
. Heturnedin his chair
tofaceHuxacrossthesmalldiningtable,hisfaceclenchedinfrustration.
So, the Knights of Ren want to play a game of spy? Petris asked
rhetorically.Aboard
my
ship.Theangerseethedinhisvoice.
The Supreme Leader should be informed of this at once. Hux
muttered as he clenched a table knife in both hands, stroking its dull side
withhisfingers.
No, not yet. Petris shot his gazeto Hux.We still donot know what
it is theyre after, not exactly. Petris added. Only when we have
information we can act on, should we report to him. We need more than
proofValin,weneedtoknowwhy.
Whats more, you have a spy aboard your vessel, Malivark. Hux
pointed to Petris withhis knife, andglancedathimindirectlyandspiesare
a slippery thing, you know. Petris looked to be deep in thought.
Who,
he
thought. And how
? Itmattered not for the time being, but it would serveto
be at the forefront of his mind moving forward. Our mission is too
importanttofail.Wecannotriskanymoreleaks.Huxadded.
Droid. Petris summoned the nearby datadroid in the corner of the
room.
TKX93atyourservice,Sir.Thedroidresponded.
Connectto the
Cataclysmssensornetwork,downloadthefullsector
scans of regions R13X18 and R13X19 on Dibora VII. Time stamp
236511to16.
Right away, Sir. The droid offered a slight bow as it accessed the
terminal adjacent to the main view screen. A flurry of datatransmission
sequences flashed up onto the viewer, finally leading to a full planetary
readoutschematicwhichhomedinonthedesiredgrid.
Display all energy readout scans, anomalies,communicationwaves,
and radiation output levels system wide, cross reference with those grids

60

and my time stamps. Petris watched the screen intently. The viewer
flashedagainasdatabegantopourin.
Sir, approximately one standard minute after the
Cataclysm entered
orbit, a TypeH KaramBand burst was detected somewhere in the region
of R13X18, within 10 kilometers. Its levels were so low, the ships
sensors hardly picked it up. The burst moved only around 17,000
kilometers before itstermination, whichdoes not fitthestandard profile for
TypeH KaramBand bursts. The droid paused and quietly stared at the
twoofficers.
TypeHKaramBand?Huxasked.
Sir,IamafraidthatheaderislabeledClass0Restrictedinm
Over ruled, Hux,authorization code JW10F15 Hux snippedback to
the droid. Frozen a moment, the droids head twitched a notch to the left
beforeheproceeded.
Sir, recovered Imperial databases point to TypeH KaramBand
waves beingused byI.S.B.operativesonhighlysensitivemissions,usually
regarding some sortof information exchange, a one way transmission or a
data drop, ofsomesort.Theywereusedheavilyduetotheirabilitytotravel
vast distances, and weretypicallyveryhardtodetect.ButPetrisandHux
exchangednervousglancesasthedroidpausedamoment.
This one appears to have been modified. How this was done, Iam
not entirely sure. All that Icansayis that the signal appears to have been
tampered with to deliberately reduce its effective output range. Beyond
that,Icannotsay.Thedroidagainhaltedabruptly.
Is there anything else in your databanks related to these TypeH
KaramBandwaves?Petrisasked.
Well yes, Sir, one small note however it is labeled as a factorblue
recordinmydatabase.
Factorblue?Huxaskedinirritation.
Meaningitismorearumorthanfact.
Andthisrumoris?Huxsharplyproddedthedroid.
Unconfirmed reports that the O.I.I. also made use of such wave
bandsforsublight,encryptedsignaling.

61

Thewhat?PetrisaskedtoHux,whofrownedandlookeddownupon
thetablebeforethemasheslowlyshookhishead.
The Order of the Imperial Inquisition. Darth Vaders Jedi Hunters.
Huxresponded.
Petris looked away in anger, his chair spun slightly to the side and
faced away fromthe view screen and the droid. Weneed tofind that spy,
Malivark.Huxsaidinahintofdesperation.
Something is very, very wrong here. Petris denounced. Droid,
display read out of all known emergency datastorage probes, and LCD
pods alongwiththeiroutputsignatures.Hebarked.Anarrayofschematics
appeared onthescreenof various probesandejectabledatabanks.Petris
shookhisheadinrefuttle.Thisstilljustdoesntaddup.
Hux studied Petris a moment before catching on to his concern.
Looking at Petris he addressed the droid. Display L.I.S. database, cross
referencethissubsector,timestampsunlimited.
The Lost Imperial Ships database. Petris realised as his eyes
widened.Itsnotadatapodtheyreafter,itsaship!
A list comprised of vessel names and the years they were lost,
assembledonthescreen.
Sir, I have listed fortynine entries for this sector, twentythree of
themdatebacktotheCloneWars.
Refinelist,narrowtothelasttwentyyears.Huxordered.
Sir, only thirteen of them fit your desiredparameters. Fourcruisers,
four frigates, three Star Destroyers, one troop carrier, and one assault
ship.
ThenamesoftheStarDestroyers?Petrisasked.
Sir,the
Abrogator,
the
Implacable,
andthe
Singularity.

The
Singularity
! Hux exclaimed ashe tookto his feet.Petrisleaned
into the table and waited for Hux to explain. That vessel was used by the
director of the Imperial Security Bureau, I.S.B., it was a specially modified
Imperial IIClass. Huxpointedtothescreen.Ifitshere,whateveritisthey
arelookingfor,itisfromthatship.Hesaidwithdivineconviction.
You mean to tell me that they hid an entire Star Destroyer ina salt
mine,andonlynow,someonenoticedit?Petrisaskedwithdismay.
62

I do not know, perhaps it was a datacache, part of the vessel, or


smaller craft fromit. Regardless, weneedtoact.Thedatacontainedwithin
that vessel isinvaluabletotheOrder,wehavebeenlookingforyearsnow.
Huxsatbackintohischairwithaslump.
That may be true Valin, however what gives me concern is, what
couldthey possibly wantoutof it? WhatisintherethattheRencouldeven
use? Petris asked openly. Why would they even need Petris started
before his words trailed off to silence. Their faces of puzzlement faded to
fear as they both came tothesame disturbing conclusion, the sumof their
combinedfearsunited.Huxdartedforhiswallcomm.
SergeantMajorHofnim!Huxfetched.
Sir,Hofnimhere.Avoicerepliedviathecomm.
Prepare the 3rd brigade for departure immediately. Your mission is
tosecuresectorsR13X18andR13X19planetside.Sendtroopsintoevery
saltmineandsealthemoff.Nothinggetsin,nothinggetsout.Move!
Rightaway,Sir!
Colonel Datoo! Hux added in a hurry. A separate voice responded
on the intercom. Dispatch the 8th wing to R13X18 and R13X19, lock
downthatair space, there are a pair ofassaultlandersfromthe
Cataclysm
inR13X18,seetoitthattheydontleaveplanet.
Understood,Sir.Thevoicereplied.
Malivark, impound thatRens vessel inyourhangar,andgetmethat
spy! Huxblared in a voice of anger as their mission nowbecameinfinitely
morecomplicated.
Petris took to his feet. If were right about this Valin, He said and
dabbed his napkin across his face, It changes everything.Hethrewdown
hisnapkinandproceedtothedoorwaywithahurriedpace.
Droid Hux turned to the view screen. Delete memoryrecords, last
hour,andpurgecomputersearchsystemsthesame.
Yes,Sir.The droid obeyed,andreturnedobliviouslytothecornerof
theroom....

63

64