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Ams Jendob
Moff


Joined: 14 Jun 2009
Posts: 1579
Location: The Gala

 Post Posted: Wed, January 13th 2010 11:40pm    Post subject: Imperial Remnant Headquarters
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I glanced up at the towering black monolith as my speeder silently coasted into the parking complex. The crystal starburst at its summit gleamed in the early morning sun, sparkling against the orange sky. Bastion certainly had its splendors, but it was nothing like my homeworld.

Coruscant. The jewel of the Galaxy, seat of civilization. The rightful place of the Imperial throne... but Palpatine's excesses and atrocities had cost the Empire dearly. A bloody quarter-century of war, far outstripping the Clone Wars in brutality and body count, was the harvest reaped for his indiscretions. Of course, the New Republic and its predecessor Rebel Alliance weren't purely innocent. Every cause, no matter how noble, had its radicals. Not even the Remnant, for all of the reforms and progress, could escape that brutal fact.

I took a moment to consider my thoughts. Of course, there was a reason for the gloom: the night before still weighed heavily on my mind. After Krischen had stormed out, things just fell apart. And the worst part was I still had no idea what he was on about. He just ranted and raved and walked out. Needless to say, the prior calls of “Happy New Year” seemed rather hollow in the wake of that disaster.

The morning had been little better, with a cloud hanging over Shy and Kendra as well. Ultimately, Kendra decided to walk around the city to clear her head. And Shayera decided to take her speeder to the hangar for the routine inspection rather than both of us going in together. A small thing, yes... but after twenty-seven years, it indicated that she was bothered to the point of not wanting any familiar contact, and instead wished to sort things out on her own before she'd even consider talking it out. And all because my son still had some unknown, unnamed issue that he refused to deal with or get over. He apparently didn't even elaborate on it to his mother, and he was always closer to her. Just some vague nonsense about things not changing. Well, why the hell would they? What could possibly be different or need change from two years prior?

I sighed and tried to clear my mind. There were enough problems dealing with the simpering, provincial Moffs; worse yet was the fact that some of the more powerful ones had questionable loyalties. My division had first noticed a few things were out of place or missing. Slowly but surely, the evidence piled up, more than enough for a conviction. However, we weren't quite sure who the traitor's contact was. I just needed the right time to show the proof and remove him.

Sliding the hovering vehicle into its designated space in the vast parking complex, I powered down the speeder's drive units and put it into park mode. I grabbed my datapad and security passes, double-checking that everything I needed for this bloody affair was present. With that satisfied, I opened the door and exited the confines of the speeder. Rank, fortunately, had its privileges: the turbo to the headquarters building was a few steps away. Like many of the structures devoted to servicing the Remnant government, the turbolift was at once functional, yet with a touch of opulence and a larger degree of elegance. The doors slid shut, with barely a whisper of sound, and I felt the lift accelerate out of the garage and through a series of shafts and corridors to the headquarters center. Apparently, someone had turned down the inertial compensators again.

Just another irritation on top of the others, I grumbled to myself. The lift itself was capable of accelerations around twenty times standard gravity, and a very basic set of compensators kept the mostly aged members of the Imperial bureaucracy from breaking a hip or suffering some other indignity. Personally, I rather enjoyed the slightly dialed-down setting on most days. But not today.

After the circuitous route and picking up a few passengers, the lift car arrived at my destination. I stepped out of the lift, now inside the massive obsidian obelisk I'd been admiring a couple minutes prior. The personnel milling around raised a thunderous clamor as their steel-shod boots clicked across the permacrete floor. I still found it odd that after a near-total uniform redesign, no one thought to change out the footwear for something more suited for office or combat use. Then again, properly fitted, the calf-length were incredibly comfortable and provided a fair amount of protection against minor injuries and discomforts. And the costs to re-shoe the entire Imperial military-government complex would probably also be prohibitively expensive—

A moment of annoyance came over me as I realized, for the umpteenth time in my career, I'd become a bloody credit-counting bureaucrat. Even as Intelligence Director, there was little I did involving any intelligence-gathering, processing, or even analysis. It was just credit-counting and shuffling sums of money to different departments... and I was one of the more hands-on directors the Remnant had had since it consolidated. I remembered when I served on the deck of a Star Destroyer, in pitched combat against Republic forces. Then I served as an intelligence analyst under Grand Admiral Zend herself, when she'd been worthy of respect and admiration. But now...

My eyes fell on the meeting room. But now I'm a gods-damned bureaucrat, I mused again. There was a caf-maker sitting in a small reception area before the door. A chipper-looking secretary sat at a reception desk. “Moff Jendob? Go right in.”

I gave an obligatory smile and nod, and was buzzed into the meeting room. It was a meeting of the Imperial Defense Council, a committee of the Council of Moffs. Jagged Fel, of course, was present. Also in attendance were Moff Ephin Sarreti and Grand Admiral Keoster, as well as Grand General Pridnyein, and, unfortunately, Moff Rosset. A few other functionaries and aides also stood around the table. I recognized one moff as being from one of the finance committees, but couldn't recall his name.

As I sat down, I fixed Rosset with a hard stare. He'd been the one to call this pointless meeting, no doubt with some pathetic gripe about Dubrillion not being the crown jewel of the Remnant. He probably wanted more ships and troops to add to his personal militia. Fortunately, Fel was more diplomatic at the moment than I felt. “Gentlemen. Shall we begin?”

There were murmured replies of agreement around the room and the few standing persons in the room scrambled for chairs around the table. The High Moff spoke again. “Since Moff Rosset requested this meeting, he will be the first to bring any new business to the table.”

A storm of furtive eye-rolls washed across the table. Rosset didn't seem to notice. “Thank you for your time, Fel,” he sneered. He continued, as if his blatant challenge to the young High Moff's authority had never occurred. “As you are all aware—”

“Moff Rosset, you would be well-advised to refer to your superiors in a respectful manner, especially when you will no doubt be asking him for some inordinate sum of credits for a useless venture intended to advance your personal prestige,” Fel interrupted, his voice cool. “Now, please do continue.”

Flames had blazed in the moff's eyes, but as Fel's rebuke continued, the coward retreated. “As you wish, sir.” Somehow, the lout even managed to cleanse his tone of contempt. But he was certainly seething at the public humiliation. “Dubrillion's defenses are still inadequate. If a major task force were to attack, we'd be overrun—”

“Attacked by who?”

I looked around to see who made the remark... and found all eyes resting on me. Rosset had adorned his face with a look of shock, as if I'd physically assaulted him. The thought does come to mind.

“Well, surely your vaunted Intelligence personnel has compiled a list? That is your function, isn't it?” sneered Rosset.

I fought down an urge to bolt to my feet and grab him by his throat. “If any threats existed to your domain, I'm sure the entire Moff Council would've seen the report,” I retorted, hiding my burning disgust and disdain under a sheet of ice. “Of course, we have looked into other issues on Dubillion...”

As I trailed off, Rosset's face drained of its rosy hue. You're a terrible Sabacc player, you worthless heap of Bantha dung. But, after a moment, he regained his composure and even some of his outrage. “A critical planet in the Empire is at risk from the Rebellion, pirates, and insurgents and you want to discuss imagined flaws in my staff?”

“I realize getting any kind information past that defensive barrier you call a skull is a massive undertaking,” I began, but ire quickly worked its way into my voice. “So why don't you pay attention! Your planet is hardly at risk from the New Republic, or anything short of your own avarice. Even pirates aren't foolish enough to venture that far into Imperial space!”

Rosset turned a deeper red. He seemed to opening his mouth to speak, but he might have simply been having some kind of nervous spasm from being told he was wrong. I wasn't about to hear more of his nonsense. “If you'd like, I brought a full report on Dubrillion's situation from military, logistic, financial, and internal security perspectives. I was thinking I would submit it to you for private perusal, but if you really feel the need to go over it here and now, I will gladly oblige,” I snapped.

The threat in my tone and in the words finally penetrated the oaf's dense skull. He sniffed a little, cleared his throat in an obnoxiously regal manner, and said simply, “That will not be necessary. I... I believe my concerns have been adequately addressed. For now.”

Yes, I'll bet they have.

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Emperor Ams Jendob, Ruler of the Imperial Remnant


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----"Moff", CMAC Dreamcrusher, Official Administrative Waldorf and Statler----


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Shayera Jendob
Moff


Joined: 14 Jun 2009
Posts: 513
Location: All along the Watchtower

 Post Posted: Sat, January 30th 2010 03:12am    Post subject:
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The spray of sparks from under my shuttle's engine changed my calm walk into the hangar to a dead sprint. It seemed like the last twelve hours or so, and probably the next twelve, were hell-bent on sucking miserably. For that matter, I planned on dropping in on Kris after work. Maybe he'd have calmed down enough to at least talk about what had crawled up his--

A second shower of sparks and a string of vehement—if none too creative—curses broke my train of thought. For a moment, the starboard engine on the T-4a flickered to life. Oh, this is bad. “Shut it down!”

There was more grunting, cursing, and sparking. After a moment, the engine's roar and glow faded. A lightly-singed, grime-covered technician—as well as some smoke—emerged from open maintenance panel. His expression was one of annoyance. “And who the kark asked—” The man paused once he saw the target of his rant was not a fellow deck worker or non-com.

“No, go ahead, Petty Officer.” I wasn't feeling particularly charitable to begin with, and nearly watching my shuttle take a leap out of the hangar damn sure didn't help matters. The mouthy non-com was just icing on the cake.

“Um, what I meant was, um, thanks for the heads-up, uh,” he awkwardly shifted on his feet to read my shoulder boards, “Commander.”

“Right,” I replied neutrally. “Now, what have you done to my shuttle?” I asked, the question directed at the walls and air as much as actually to the technician.

“I was told to do an engine calibration. The portside thrusters work fine, but when I tried to do a test cycle on the starboard engine, the blasted thing went berserk! Um, ma'am,” he explained as I walked toward the shuttle, intending to inspect the damage myself.

Now, I was certainly no engineer. But a Stormtrooper doesn't have to be a physicist to field strip his weapon, and Imperial pilots don't need engineering degrees do systems and maintenance checks on their craft. It was joked that an Imperial pilot could take apart and reassembled his or her craft, blindfolded, before they could even log flight simulator hours. While it was obviously an exaggeration, it wasn't by a whole hell of a lot. And, when I stood under the open access hatch on the shuttle, I felt a sudden urge to deck the vac-brained technician. “There's your problem,” I remarked, far more calmly than I thought I would.

He ran back, and looked around as if I'd said there was a bar of jewel-studded platinum jammed in the compartment. “I don't see anything.”

I reached in and yanked out a still-warm, very cooked directional relay. A simple electromechanical switch with a semiconducting component to restrict power flow in a particular direction. I handed it to him. “You see that?”

“Yes, ma'am...”

I reached into the compartment again and pulled out a second, very similar relay. But not quite the same; its bias was the exact opposite. “This one,” I began, noting the equally-fried unit in my hand and then pointed to where the first relay had been extracted, “goes here. And can you guess where that one goes?”

The petty officer winced. It wasn't just a rookie mistake, it was a stupid rookie mistake. But I wasn't finished with him. “And since these relays are fried and I saw some ignition, you now get to disassemble the entire starboard engine assembly and check for arc damage. And if there is any, you and your maintenance crew get to scrub the carbon scoring out of the manifolds, off of the vectoring plates, and anything else that got zapped during the lightshow.”

“Yes, Commander,” he sighed.

My irritation at once sparked, then vented, I examined the technician for a moment. “How many hours did you sleep in the past two days, Petty Officer?”

“Commander?”

Kark me, they don't make them like they used to. “It's a very simple question, Petty Officer. How many hours have you slept in the past forty-eight hours?”

“Umm... maybe four or five? I mean, New Years and all, and then—”

I nodded. “All right, I don't need your life story. Here's how this is going to happen: first off, call for your replacement and get some rack-time. That's an order. Secondly, once you've gotten just enough rest to do your job right and not send a quarter-million credit shuttle careening out of a hangar, you're going to get your maintenance team together and finish your check on this shuttle, including any and all repairs required.”

I paused. “And thirdly, if this shuttle ever comes in again... you tell your CO that you have a standing order from Commander Jendob that you are not to perform maintenance on, do calibrations for, or even so much as wash it. Do I make myself clear?”

“Y-yes, Ma'am!” he stammered.

“Good. Now get the frak out of here and requisition two new relays before you go to your bunk,” I growled.

As he scampered off, I tossed the shot relay I was holding aside. I could only hope Ams was having a much better day than I was. But, then again, if he had to be in a room with Moff Rosset, the odds were definitely against him. It probably didn't help that things at home were rather frosty this morning. Well, once my shift was over and I'd gone to see Kris, I'd try to make it up to him. Maybe rent a holoflick that we could sit down and watch together, or something...

Hell, maybe I can see him for a minute or two now, I thought. Even if he ducked out of the meeting for a minute, I was sure a couple quick words would help him soldier through that gods-awful meeting. Yeah, that's a good idea. Lift isn't too far...

That settled it. I turned away from the crippled shuttle, and headed back toward the main corridor. There was no rush, of course. Those meetings could go on for hours and hours; Ams was hardly in danger of being set free before I made it up there. And after that, I was going to head to my office to file a rather sharply-worded reprimand about a certain petty officer...

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Ams Jendob
Moff


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Location: The Gala

 Post Posted: Sat, February 13th 2010 01:43am    Post subject:
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I sighed with frustration. Four hours. Four bloody hours of talking much and saying nothing, of posturing and grandiose claims... and that was just from that damn fool Rosset. None of the other Moffs or military personnel had much opportunity to get a word in edgewise. After all, the boor had requested the meeting, which lent him certain leeway under the circumstances. Still, I'd had enough. Any excuse to leave the room, even for a minute... just to get my sanity back and maybe burn thirty or forty effigies of the slime.

Then, Moff Sarreti rested his head on an open palm, his elbow sitting on the polished table. The change in force was sufficient to overcome the lowered forces of friction on the table top, sending his arm sliding into a polyphenylethane cup of caf. Fortunately, I'd already drained the contents mostly, and so Sarreti's clumsiness spilled a minimum of liquid. And for a moment, I fixed him with an irritated glare at his awkwardness. But, on the heels of that annoyance came a realization: I had my out. Another moment was taken to ponder if the young moff had exhibited such unbecoming behavior intentionally, perhaps in hopes of soiling his uniform and excusing himself to change; or if only to interrupt the droning and self-exultation of Rosset. A truly paranoid scenario flashed across my mind, of the entire Defense Council swatting at their beverages in hopes of escape, suicide by scalding or drowning, or perhaps drowning Rosset and sparing the Galaxy from his continued pomposity.

In any case, I quietly assured Sarreti that no harm was done as he attempted to apologize. And with that, I took the upset foam construct and made my way to the door, tossing it into a refuse receptacle near the entrance.

"Moff Jendob, where are you going?" Fel asked with a certain veiled pointedness. Hearing him speak made one wonder if he was part Chiss instead of human.

"Yes, indeed! We are at a critical venture!" Rosset exclaimed. I couldn't help but notice a tinge of... anxiety?

But I'd already wounded him, at the beginning. If only to avoid another miserable showdown and his shrill whining, I opted for the diplomatic, but honest, route. "Somehow, I don't think the few seconds it takes for me to get a new cup of caf will upset our timetable." I gave a respectful nod to the Moffs, chiefs of staff, and associated aides. I imagined Rosset would mentally add himself to that audience. "Gentlemen."

Fel gave a silent nod, giving his leave. I suppressed an urge to run out of the room, opting to calmly leave and suppress any signs of annoyance or amusement. The chipper secretary was still waiting there, a bright smile seemingly etched into her fair features. "Important things going on, Moff Jendob?"

I couldn't suppress giving her a wry smile. "Oh, yes. We're shaking the very core of the Remnant."

Turning toward the caf machine, I was disappointed to find it empty. Rosset aside, the week just seemed to be filling up with a million little annoyances to hound my every step. But, then again, it was also a blessing in disguise. It meant an extra minute or two away from that room. I turned back to the secretary. "Beg pardon, Lieutenant..."

She looked up from her desk, noticed my gesturing at the machine. "Blast it! Again? Well, with all of the conferences on this level, I shouldn't be surprised." I heard a desk drawer hiss open, then she seemed to be on the verge of tossing a small polyethylene cup to me. Fortunately for her, if any other superior officers came by, she recalled that she was about to throw a canister of rapid-brewing caf to the Director of Imperial Intelligence. And in the Imperial Remnant, one does not generally or casually toss objects to a moff. I personally didn't care much about it either way, but gods forbid she made it a habit and did it to Rosset. The poor girl's ears would be bleeding from the man's response.

Instead, she very dutifully—if a bit chagrined—made her way over to the small machine with the canister in her hand. I held out my hand. "I can take care of it, Lieutenant."

That seemed to help drain a bit of the blush from her face. She handed the unit to me, uttered a quiet thanks, and returned to her desk. I turned to the device. While I removed this access cover and flipped that latch, and performed the various other tasks to free the spent canister from the death-grip of the caf maker, I heard a high-pitched electromechanical squeal behind me. Mouse droid. After being in the Navy, that sound became second nature. Granted, new models came and went, but they all seemed to have that whirring, squealing sounds.

The droid bleeped out some message, then I heard the secretary say something quietly. However, I could clearly make out it was intended for High Moff Fel and that there was some kind of message carried by the droid. I sighed when I heard that: that meant I needed to get back into the meeting much sooner than hoped.

Then again, if I were to dash in without something to show for it, it would certainly look bad. It might even look like I was shirking my obligations for the sake of being away from a member of the council with whom I had issues. That would certainly never do. I left to retrieve a cup of caf, and by the gods, I was going to go in with one. So, if it took me five minutes and I needed to review the message later...

And that even assumed the message was for public eyes. It may well have been from his wife. But, then again, why would it be in a message droid? Couldn't she simply go to a holocom? Then again, perhaps it was a prearranged excuse to leave the meeting. All too often I'd seen officials who, several minutes into a particular dry and sleep-inducing meeting, would suddenly be called away on urgent business. They'd make their profuse apologies, even as they made for the exit, then vanish. It was actually a rather sorry indicator for the mindset and motivation possessed by Imperial personnel anymore.

"Treason!"

I turned toward the conference room. Shouting and yelling emanated from the room. Gods, what happened now?

The secretary also peered over her desk, trying to glean any information. I guess the subterfuge will have to wait. I started walking toward the open door. The mouse droid was sitting on the table. Suddenly, I saw Fel bodily lunge at it—

—and the whole Universe dissolved into sound, light, and heat. A sheet of rippling orange clouds roared by. I blinked, and realized I was lying on my back with no recollection of switching from the standing to inverted prone positions. I also noticed the roiling clouds were hot, there was a shrill whine in my ears, I felt like I'd been stepped on by an AT-AT, and water was spraying my face.

It didn't take a hyperspatial physicist to realize the hot, orange clouds were fire. The fact that everything sounded like it was underwater—including the klaxons that began to blare—in addition to the high-pitching ringing combined with that fact to indicate a relatively powerful explosion had gone off unpleasantly close. And there was fire, given the suppression system had been triggered. Of course, this being a floor frequented by high-ranking Imperial officials, more toxic but effective forms of fire extermination were forgone. Instead, old-fashioned water sprayers were intended to douse any flames.

Then horror crept in as I recalled what had happened just before I found myself blasted over. The screaming and shouting of the moffs, Fel launching himself at the droid. It was a bomb.

The entire defensive command of the Imperial Remnant had been in that room... save one. I quickly rolled over as the flames dissipated, and got to my feet. I looked at the secretary, about to tell her to get security and damage control. But the chunks of duraplast protruding from her skull, throat, and chest told me she wouldn't be able to make the call.

Who would do this? Rebel extremists? A terrorist cell? Maybe it wasn't even a bomb; some kind of freak power surge from the droid? But that didn't add up. A power surge just when it was in the midst of the most powerful military officers in the Remnant? No, foul play was the sure bet.

I ran into the room. The door way was still half-alight, the other half charred but extinguished by the steady rain from the suppressors. The walls were splattered with blood and ichor. Grand Admiral Keoster had been ripped in half and horribly burned. Thankfully for him, he was either dead or unconscious and soon to be dead. Pridnyein had been hurled into the wall by the blast, judging by the dent above his slumped, contorted corpse. I ran over to check his pulse. I felt the bone fragments of his shattered neck and spine press back against my fingers; there was no indication of life.

A moan from behind me made me whirl around, my hand dropping to my side. But there was no blaster there. However, the wounded form of Ephin Sarreti didn't seem to pose a severe threat. I rushed over, sizing up his injuries. His leg had a horrific gash in it, with bone clearly showing. The other leg was bent unnaturally, indicating his femur had fractured.

"What happened?" I asked.

"Bomb... in the droid. Z... Ze..." he faded off, his eyes rolling back in his head. Frak! No you don't... But a quick check of his pulse ameliorated my immediate concerns; he'd merely passed out.

"Jendob? Is that you?"

I turned to see a mildly-singed, bleeding Rosset staggering toward us. I found even my intense loathing for the embezzling swine abated by the circumstances. "Yes. How badly are you injured?"

"Quite grievously. I must get to the medical center, but I fear I shan't make it," he whimpered. The loathing began to return with haste.

"Where's Fel?" I asked.

"Now is not the time for an interrogation!" exclaimed Rosset. "We must leave, now! There might be another bomb, or worse! She'll kill us all!"

I fixed him with a curious stare. "'She'?"

"This was Zend's doing!" he howled dramatically.

"Daara Zend is dead," I pointed out matter-of-factly as I tried to apply some pressure to Sarreti's wounds.

But Rosset shook his head so fiercely I thought his neck would snap. "She sent the message. She's coming back, Jendob. Coming for all of us! We are doomed!"

The man's melodramatics began to wear on my nerves. I wanted answers, blast it, not a bloody opera performance. Only an unconscious moan of agony from Sarreti snapped back to the fact that we were in a blood-soaked, bombed-out conference room... not an interrogation cell. "Explain later. Right now, we need to get Sarreti and anyone else out of here."

"But, everyone is dead."

"He's not," I said firmly, indicating the unconscious moff. "Now, he needs to be moved. His injuries are too severe for me to move him alone.

"Surely, we can wait for the medics..."

"No, we can't," I snapped. "I know getting your hands dirty is a foreign concept, Rosset. Unfortunately, I have no other choice at this time. Now, maybe you want Sarreti to die of his wounds and smoke inhalation. But if he does die because of your incompetence and unwillingness to help... I will see to it your misdeeds have the brightest spotlight in the Empire shined on them. I know all about it, Rosset. And if you want me to keep my silence..."

For a moment, fear flashed over his face. Then there was anger... and then something I didn't expect. A grim, menacing smile. "Very well, Jendob," he noted, all trace of whining and reluctance gone. "You know how to play the game better than I thought." His voice seemed different, somehow. Not necessarily deeper in pitch or stronger in timbre, and yet...

"Take his head, I'll take his legs," I muttered. I didn't feel like discussing the idea that he was apparently playing a game with a fellow Imperial's life in the balance. If Daara Zend had orchestrated this attack, she just effectively decapitated the Imperial military. And by killing Fel, she dealt a severe blow to its government. And that assumed Rosset was telling the truth.

Rosset dutifully lifted Sarreti's supine form by the torso. I tried to support his mangled legs as best as I could. We carried him through the drenched corridor until we saw a couple of medics running toward us. "Over here!"

One immediately began to deploy a folding hover-stretcher. Rosset and I carefully laid Sarreti on the machine. "I'm going back to see if there's anyone else," I told the medics.

But Rosset spoke up again. "Everyone else is dead, I tell you!" The whining tone had returned. But now I began to suspect its sincerity after our exchange.

"Sir, we can't let you do that," the lead medic added.

"Then stop me, Sergeant." With that, I ran back through the gauntlet of hydrojets. If the whole council really was dead, the Empire could fall into civil war. I wouldn't let that happened. I couldn't let that happen. All of the petty troubles with Kris and Rosset and the like vanished; we had been attacked. And not only was the Empire going to survive—at least if I had any say in the matter—but we were going to strike back with the full weight of the Imperial war machine.

But when I reached the room, I realized it would be a frightfully difficult task. Rosset had been right. The aides, the moff from the finance committee... all dead. But there was no sign of Fel. At least, not until I noticed one of the many severed limbs that littered the room bore a very distinctive pair of rings. Morbid, horrified, and fearful curiosity drove me to pick up the severed forearm for inspection. One of the rings was a wedding ring, dotted with jewels. But the other was a signet ring, bearing the Imperial seal.

Gorge rose in my throat as I realized that I was holding the last bodily remains of Jagged Fel, High Moff of the Imperial Remnant. I'd been a combat officer in the Navy early in my career, and seen more than one human body torn apart by shrapnel or sheer explosive force. But those had been battles, with nameless casualties. This had been a focused assassination attempt. And but for a spilled cup of caf, I could just as easily have been next to the bomb instead of far enough away...

I began to get chills. My hands began to shake, and the severed arm slipped from my grasp. The Empire's leader was dead. Its military commanders were dead. The only trustworthy witness was shocky and gravely wounded... it wasn't even clear if he'd survive. The other witness was a corrupt, power-brokering embezzler whose loyalty I questioned more and more.

What were we to do if the Imperial Remnant was to survive the day?

I shouldn't need to say this, but we do have some new people coming in, so it bears undertaking the burden. Ahem:

1. Knowledge of an attack on the Imperial high command would be very limited, and media speculation about it would be quickly quashed in favor of a cover of a freak accident. The story from the Kendra post made at the same time as this would likely have traveled no further than Bastion, and is unlikely to for several months in-game.

2. NO ONE outside of Zend herself and Ams knows about Daara's involvement if they weren't in that room when the bomb went off.

3. Just to reiterate... official Imperial line is there was a "disturbance" with no further details given. And if you're outside the Remnant... you probably don't even know about this.


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_________________
Emperor Ams Jendob, Ruler of the Imperial Remnant


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----"Moff", CMAC Dreamcrusher, Official Administrative Waldorf and Statler----


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Shayera Jendob
Moff


Joined: 14 Jun 2009
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Location: All along the Watchtower

 Post Posted: Sat, February 27th 2010 12:27am    Post subject:
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I nervously tugged on my collar for the umpteenth time. I'd never been to a Moff Council session of any sort. Us lowly line officers weren't permitted to see the inner workings of the vast Imperial bureaucracy first-hand. Officially, it was for security reasons. But, given I had an inside source on how such things went, I often wondered if it was more to spare the Imperial military and civilian population the idea that the Moffs were actually a bunch of squabbling children with vast legions of men and material at their fingertips.

I heard a low chuckle, and glanced up at Ams. "Relax," he said quietly.

Rumor had it that every Moff making a personal appearance would be permitted some security. After all, the bombing was only four days old. Conspiratorial whispers and subtle accusations were already beginning to swirl around and no one wanted to place their life in the hands of local security.

And so, I was making my first ever trip to a meeting of the Moff Council... with a DH-26 tucked inside my jacket. Just outside the room was a pair of Stormtroopers in parade whites. No camo this time; they wanted to be seen. They didn't worry too much about concealing their weapons, either: an E-22 slung over the shoulder and a standard issue DH-26—just like mine except the serial number—in a hip holster. They were even packing the coded thermals.

Frak. What a day to get involved with politics.

They simply glanced at Ams and me, then motioned for us to move along into the massive conference chamber. For an instant, I was confused at the seemingly cursory security. Then I recalled that they could read the identity tags built into our uniforms with their helmets. It was just normally so common that I took it for granted. But nothing was ordinary anymore.

We entered the conference room and I was immediately struck at how truly vast it was. But, then again, there were a lot of sectors in the Remnant, and each had a Moff. On top of that, there were several officials throughout the Remnant, like Ams, who held the rank and title without actually controlling territory. But, as we made our way to the arc of seats and desks for the Defense Council, I felt a wave of cold realization wash over me: only one chair—the Intelligence Director—was occupied.

Ams took his seat. I just stood there, unsure of what to do. Everything he told me evaporated. I was way out of my element; in the cockpit of a fighter or scout ship or shuttle, I felt completely at home. But here, in this vast meeting room filled with primitive-looking paneled desks that hid holoprojectors, touchscreens, and enough data cable to wire the computers of a squadron of Star Destroyers... it was an alien battleground.

"Commander?"

I whirled around to see a black-clad guard armed with one of the new subrepeaters. He didn't have it drawn, but his hand dangled near it. "Do you need assistance?" he asked.

"The commander is with me, Sergeant."

I turned around again, looking at Ams. "We were just taking our seats," he noted.

"Aye, sir," the guard noted.

As he walked away, Ams whispered. "Sit down or he'll come back."

I nodded, on autopilot, and sat. I just stared ahead at the wall until Ams tapped my hand. My eyes snapped to look down, then at him. For a moment, I wondered why I was sitting down at the desk when my last recollection was standing and looking out over the council chamber... then that naval guard came along. The next moment, it came back to me. The lapses weren't exactly encouraging. "Ams, are you sure about this?" I whispered.

He just nodded and gently squeezed my hand. All right, I can do this. It's just a Moff Council meeting...

I kept repeating that mantra in my mind. But now and then, the fact that it was also the single largest collection of Imperial officials in a single room and thus a big, fat target for whoever fragged the Defense Council would creep into my brain. And each time, I'd try to beat it back.

"When are they going to start?" I asked after a couple of seeming eternities passed.

"Any minute now. We just need Siralt—ah, there he is."

I looked toward the center podium, and sure enough, Grand Moff Siralt was ascending to it. He was an older member of the Moff Council, and currently its ranking member. Rumor had it he planned on retiring once the teething troubles with Fel were settled. I guess they've been settled now, I thought grimly.

“Our meeting today is of incredible importance. We have no time to dance around the point. We're here today to address the sudden and vicious, intentional assault on the Imperial Remnant,” he began. “What we're about to present is something most of you have not seen, nor perceived in your fanciful dreams...”

Ams cocked an eyebrow at the turn toward the poetic. I wondered if the old Grand Moff had been hitting the spice.

“And something all of us do not want to cognize,” he finished. I looked up, curious. “Moff Jendob, would you please?”

Ams stood, switching on the desk mic. “Yes, sir. Intelligence was able to recover some data from the droid used to carry out the attack,” he explained. “Including a message.”

He pressed a button on the touchscreen. The holoprojector in the middle of the room turned on. Standing upon it stood a larger-than-life... Daara Zend?

The former Imperial leader was wearing her pristine white uniform and Grand Admiral's insignia. She didn't look any different, save for a few hairs changed from blonde to silver and a few new facial lines. Behind her was a starfield, with the edges of a viewport or vidscreen just visible.

One of the Moffs gasped at the sight. After all, no one had seen or heard from Daara Zend in twenty years. It was almost universally believed that she was dead and yet... the hologram said otherwise. Of course, holograms were easy enough to fake, but then the question was why would anyone frame Zend?

Either way, to see the woman who gutted the Imperial Remnant during a time of crisis was not a pleasant surprise. A few other gasps and shouts of confusion echoed across the chamber. I noticed Rosset, sitting opposite the Defense Council section, looking at Ams with... satisfaction? Then he mouthed the words, I told you so before turning back to the hologram.

Greetings, loyal stewards,” the hologram smirked. “I am sure you are surprised to see me. Rest assured, the commander of the true Galactic Empire, Daara Zend herself, is alive and well. Prospering, in fact.

I have been watching the Galaxy for some time. I see you have done much to advance the ideals of the Empire. Or, rather, your ideals. The entirety of civilization has suffered and everything for which we loyalists strove has been squandered. But don't fret—a new day is dawning for the poor innocents of the Galaxy, for all those whom you have brutally raped and deceived.

She folded her hands in front of her, resting them on a barely-visible desk. “Gentlemen, I am returning. Your illegitimate era of unrestrained gluttony and avarice has come to an end. You have known that, one day, your ride would end; you were granted reign over the worlds for a little while, but it was always fated that justice would return to the Galaxy to cure it of your evil and corruption.

To the few of you who still feel any minute amount of empathy for your subordinates, do not be afraid; they will be well-attended. However, you will not be suffered to live in the new Galaxy. You are as guilty as the murderers, the thieves, the vagrants, the Moffs that coexist in your midst.

Your own lechery, omission, and complacency have prompted your destiny. Some of you may now be begging for a chance to repent. No such mercy will be given unto you, for you are deserving of none. The time for your just action is gone, and judgment is come upon you. In fact, it is disquieting to me that you will receive such an easy exit as death. But, I have no patience for you.

Our time together draws to a close, rebels, so I must make this brief. I know others, after your own deaths, will watch this message. I wouldn't want to waste their time,” she smiled a death's head's grin. “Thus, let the last thoughts that dwell in your puerile minds be these: the Empire you have molested will be restored, and the remaining members of your puppet government will be judged as the situation warrants, whether it be to death, imprisonment, or resumption of honorable service. Your unclean alliance with the Rebel scum will be dismantled, and Imperial order will be restored across the entire galaxy. The dissidents will be discarded and all others will be repatriated in full commune with the Empire.

While your lives are forfeit, all others will be judged accordingly,” Zend seethed, as if genuinely offended that her bomb offered so many a quick death. “A right you have extended to few. In closing, remember this: the entire galaxy will remember your names as those of tyrants. Your families and descendents will deny your family name. Your effigies will incite disgust. And then, one day, you will not be remembered at all. All that you were and now are will be of no more importance to the Galaxy than a cup of spilled tea.

Goodbye, Council. If there is a Hell, when my day comes, I will personally punish you—and not through loquacious speeches—for every single injustice you have committed against the citizens of the Galactic Empire.

She just stared at the camera for a moment, her eyes piercing everyone in the room. If her gaze were made of tibanna, it would've laid waste to all of Bastion. Then the message ended, given the complete cessation of background noise and even the subtle motions of the Grand Admiral breathing. But there she stood, frozen in time, with that chilling, calculating stare.

Siralt motioned to Ams, who quickly deactivated the hologram. There was a moment of deathly silence before the Grand Moff actually summoned the nerve to speak. "So, my comrades, what shall we do?"

Almost immediately, the room exploded into sound. Rosset bolted to his feet and shouted above the din, "Clearly, we must fight! We will not be intimidated by some female who couldn't manage the Empire before and decided to hide under a rock!"

His disparaging remark about Zend's gender drew an evil glare from me and the few female moffs.

Another moff shouted from behind us, his belligerent tone matching that of Rosset. "I agree! After all these years of hiding, she has finally revealed herself to us! We must take the offensive to her!"

"Are you mad?! We no longer have a military leadership! We don't even have a true head of state anymore! Any attack against Zend while we're in this vulnerable state would be folly!"

The war-mongering moff shot back. "Thus we should take the advantage of her surprise and turn around on her!"

Another voice separated from the shrinking din to join the clearly-screamed rebuttals. "We—we cannot! We must shore up our defenses, be prepared to take losses. We have no intelligence on her, no idea what she has! Not only that, but she took half of the bloody Empire with her!"

"She's been festering in the Galaxy's cesspool for a decade. This is probably just a gesture," another spoke up. This time, I recognized the voice: Moff Keeris. A slimy, dirty little man who caused scandal after scandal, yet was never removed. He was also a well-known misogynist. "There is no impending invasion."

"This talk of bowing under is madness! She cannot hold off our combined might! I say we appoint the military commanders we need, and smash that whore into dust!"

More shouting erupted, but then Siralt boomed over the speakers, "Enough!

"We all know of the options. This is what she wants, you know; the message was intended to be viewed by the Moff Council as well as by the bomb's victims. She wants us to be stalled, to tear ourselves apart."

"Which is why we should tear her apart!"

Keeris spoke up again. "And that is all she wants, Moff," he said, seeming to deliberate address Siralt by his proper title. "She has no forces left to speak of, I'm sure."

"We don't know that!" called Rosset's ally.

"She clearly has agents within the Remnant." I turned to see Ams now on his feet, addressing the rest of the moffs. "That much, we can be certain of. Beyond that, we didn't even know she was still alive until four days ago. She could still have the entire force she defected with, she could have a larger force, or she may have nothing beyond a small cell of traitors here on Bastion."

"She may not even be alive, Jendob," sneered Keeris. "Have none of you considered this was a measure of last resort? A final effort? This could have been recorded years ago."

"Notwithstanding, Moff Jendob is right. There clearly is a traitor among us, whether Zend is alive or not. Her faction clearly still maintains supporters... therefore, we must attack," argued the second moff. I tried to make sense of his logic, and quickly found it didn't work quite right.

"You mean so they can subvert it? And turn our own guns on us?" Ams asked incredulously. I suppressed a smile.

"At least we'll be firing something back!"

Apparently, Ams found the moff's reasoning as questionable as I did. "The traitors need to be ferreted out, first and foremost."

"We're not in a war economy anymore! This is ridiculous!"

"Exactly! This isn't 17! We can't afford some crazy offense against some specter!"

One of the moffs lamented, "And so, everything we built..."

"We made ourselves weak, is what we did, Moff Deann. Nothing less." That came from the vacillating firebrand with the bad reasoning skills. "Fel is gone."

"Unfortunately," glowered Siralt.

"Indeed," the moff continued. "But now perhaps it is time to choose someone more... belligerent to respond to this threat."

"Indeed," Ams began. "We are far from finished gentlemen," he seethed at the surrender-minded moffs. "But, if you'd rather cower before Palpatine's last whore, by all means! Run to her and prostrate yourselves before her! As for the rest of us, we do need a leader... and we need one quickly."

"Thank you for being my echo, Moff Jendob."

Ams turned around; I could tell he wanted to bang his head off the desk after that. "Leave it to Bandan to count support as an echo," he said quietly.

"We do need new leadership, that much is clear," Siralt called.

But Keeris seemed determined to oppose anyone who spoke. "Is now really the time for the selection of a new High Moff?"

Is a High Moff even the answer? After all, a lot of people still view the old Grand Admirals in better a better light than they do anyone on the Moff Council. I thought.

And, just looking around at the shouting and ravings of several hundred men and women, most middle-aged if not edging into elderly... as they carried on in a manner that almost made Kris and Kendra's fight on the night of the bombing look civil... how could any of them, even with the title of High Moff, hope to hold the Empire together? Or even put their egos aside to fight Zend?

Siralt's voice cracked out over the speakers again. "Enough! Am I the only adult in this room?" he complained. "I did not expect such childish actions on the even of the Empire's greatest upheaval in twenty years!"

Childish actions seem to be the norm anymore.

There was a very loud sigh from Keeris, no doubt one of the main belligerents. He clearly didn't think much of being restrained by the old Grand Moff.

For his part, Ams seemed to be doing his best to stay clear of the fracas. So, when he requested the floor, Siralt quickly gave it to him. "We must decide what to do, in any event. Who will succeed Fel?"

Much quieter murmurs of agreement emanated from the silver-clad throng of moffs. Siralt spoke again as Ams sat down. "Due to the sensitive nature of the proceedings, Moff, I believe we will now hold recess. We shall resume the discussion in one hour... without accessory personnel."

A flicker of annoyance shot up my spine at being called an accessory. Then again, I was never so glad to be unwelcome somewhere. If I never again sat in on a meeting of the Moff Council, it would be far, far too soon.

Ams and I got up and waited for the traffic to thin before leaving ourselves. As we got outside of the meeting hall, he smiled at me. “So, what did you think?”

“It made me miss Kris and Kendra,” I remarked wryly.

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 Post Posted: Mon, March 08th 2010 11:51pm    Post subject:
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I'd been back in my Council seat for a few minutes when the vast bulk of the moffs sauntered back in. Those that couldn't be around in person had their holoprojections shimmer back to life, if they'd even shut off at all. But every last one, from every sector of the Empire, was there. This meeting was simply too vital to the Remnant's future to skip out.

And yet, I couldn't wait for it to be over. Part of it was feeling like I was sitting in an escape pod during a heated naval engagement: if Zend made another strike, there wasn't going to be much room for survival. Of course, part of it was also my loathing for bureaucracy and about a quarter of the persons in attendance. Try as we might, the Remnant couldn't squeeze all of the corruption from its ranks.

That corruption is why we're here. Someone is a leak, or worse, a saboteur. And I definitely didn't like where the evidence was pointing. That much I hadn't shared with the Moff Council; we didn't even have conclusive proof, so why show the hand? On top of that, there were more important things to worry about.

“I call this meeting to order!” Siralt declared from his podium. “The question was raised, before the recess, of who will succeed High Moff Fel.

“If we are to face the crisis ahead, we will need strong, resolute leadership. Someone with experience and the backing of this council, someone who can face combat--”

“Stop giving us your frakking campaign speech, old man!” Keeris certainly wasted no time in resuming his belligerence. “You know full well this council wouldn't support you, or you'd have been in that chamber instead of Fel!”

Siralt fumed silently for a moment. “As I was saying,” he grumbled. “It is not a decision we can make lightly. The new High Moff must be an Imperial of the highest caliber...”

As the Grand Moff droned on, my mind flashed back to a half hour prior. Shayera and I had grabbed a quick lunch during the recess, then retreated to my office so we could converse in private. When the subject of High Moffs came up, Shy questioned whether a new one should even be appointed. After all, the Moff Council simply couldn't compete with the charisma offered by a Grand Admiral. There were some who even still subscribed to the original ranking scheme, where Moffs were subordinated to the white-clad officers, and believed the current system was illegitimate. So, another Moff claiming dominion in the face of the last Palpatineic Grand Admiral could potentially backfire; rather than creating stability and drawing worlds into the Imperial fold, they might defect en masse.

I couldn't let it happen. I tapped one of the buttons on my computer terminal. Siralt called out, “The Council recognizes Moff Jendob.”

“Thank you, sir,” I started. “Ladies and gentlemen, I must ask you... why are we going to appoint a new High Moff?”

“Because Fel got too close to an exploding droid,” Rosset remarked snidely. “Is that what you're wasting our time with?”

Sparing a second to spear the bastard with a withering stare, I continued. “No. But we wish to preserve the unity of the Imperial Remnant, yes?”

Yes, Moff Jendob,” sniped Keeris. “Are you going to keep asking obvious questions?”

“Then let me sum it up: a High Moff will not suit this purpose. Not any more.”

“So what, then?” another moff, a woman, snapped. “We just run around, decapitated? No leadership?”

“Will you let the man speak, Kogen?”

I sighed, and tried to piece together the words quickly enough. “We need a leader. But, Daara Zend is a Grand Admiral. That carries a good deal of currency with the common citizen.”

“So should a High Moff,” sneered Keeris. “And in any case, they don't know what's best for them. That's why we're here.”

I looked back at Siralt. “Sir, I do have a point I'd like to get to.”

“Then do it, Jendob. Maybe people won't be so inclined to interrupt if you just spat it out,” the old man grumbled.

“I see. A High Moff cannot hope to compete for the hearts and minds of the majority of the Imperial population. A fair percentage doesn't even recognize the authority of the Moffs over the military leadership, believing—”

“Well, to hell with them! If they can't accept how it works, that's their problem!”

“Moff Keeris, if your planet decides Daara Zend is a more legitimate leader than you, I think you'll find yourself quickly outnumbered!” I snapped. “It shouldn't be so, but it simply is. The position of High Moff is a sham, and has been from the beginning. We've just begun to delude ourselves.”

There was silence for a moment, then the room exploded into shouting. Keeris bolted to his feet. “Treason! How dare you utter such a seditious thing before this body!”

“Only a fool like you would see the truth as seditious,” I said firmly. “We need to make it clear, for all concerned, that our next leader holds greater power than even the Grand Admirals of old. That is the only way—”

“Be silent, you traitor! Guards! Arrest this man!”

“Order!” shouted Siralt. “Moff Jendob, I would strongly suggest you recant or find some way to absolve yourself.”

“Intelligence has been monitoring civilian populations since the bombing. All reports indicate that, at best, they hold the Council in low regard. At worst, thoughts of rebellion. If word that Zend was behind it gets out, many will join her cause. Entire sectors might defect.

“We need to stop being a Remnant, and become an Empire again. We need a true leader, one that will be recognized by the populace—and even by Zend. We must aim higher, and maybe we can legitimize our rule where it truly matters: in the eyes of the citizens.”

“Are you finished?” Siralt glowered.

I had a bad feeling that I was finished in more ways than one. “Yes, sir.”

“Arrest him! Charge him with treason!”

Siralt moved his glare from me to the obstreperous Keeris. “Moff Keeris, be silent or I will have you detained.”

“He's spewing Republic democratic filth,” shrieked another Moff. “Perhaps he was the one that allowed the bomb in past security!”

Anger flashed through my mind at that charge. But the torrent of abuse continued. Well, I knew what I was getting into...

“You damned liberals are going to kill us all!”

“We are not some pathetic democracy!”

“Were this the real Empire, under Palpatine, your tongue would've been cut out!”

“Jendob is right!”

The jarring shout took everyone off guard, especially me. But was more surprising was the source.

Moff Rosset was looking up and down the assembly. “If we cannot keep the loyalty of the citizenry on a planet, we will lose that planet. Have you all forgotten what happened after Endor? Hmm?

“If Daara Zend can present herself as some kind of... avenging angel, a savior of sorts and we merely replace Fel with another Moff in a discredited position...” he trailed off for dramatic effect.

“I suppose you'd like a new emperor, Jendob?” sneered one of the delegates.

“If it works and the Council agrees to it. I'm sure we could make do with something less drastic, but...” I realized I had nothing after the but. Where else was there to go beyond resurrecting the Imperial throne?

“And who would be this emperor? You?”

I shuddered at the thought. “The emperor would be chosen by this Council. We only need a symbol, not a tyrant.”

More murmuring broke out, but it was far more subdued. I took my seat again. “I'm done now, sir.”

Deann shouted out after several moments of quiet discussion, “Surely you can't be considering this proposal? To create an Emperor would strip us of everything we've earned, everything we've gathered since Zend's desertion!”

“Perhaps not,” noted Moff Bandan. “Like he said, the Emperor needn't be anymore powerful than a Moff...”

“Order! Order!” shouted Siralt, his face darkened with anger. “This isn't some bloody Republic conference, where every damned fool can shout their mind. If one more person speaks out of order...”

His console chimed a moment later. “The Council recognizes Moff Rosset.”

Rosset stood and looked over at me. I felt decided unnerved by his actions. I'd always known him as a simpering, whining officer. But now I realized it had been a very well-played act. Rosset wasn't some annoying, but harmless child; he was a cunning razor... and that made him ten times as dangerous. “I propose we begin the selection process for a regent immediately.”

“But where—” one moff began, but the turbolaser-armed glare of Siralt led to a cessation of speaking. Instead, the grand moff's console beeped again. “Yes, Moff Waczco?”

“Where would we begin such a process, Rosset?”

The console chimed several times. “Moff Graystone first, then Moffs Verdek, Keeris, and Vasalok,” Siralt said patiently.

“With Moff Rosset's permission, I have an idea on that,” Graystone called. He was a rather bulbous man, and politically moderate. Rather, he was normally a political coward and ran from confrontation either with the old guard or the reformers. But once Rosset nodded, giving his benediction, he showed his true strength. “We nominate members of the Council. Each nomination must receive three seconds to become a formal candidate.”

It was clear neither Rosset nor Siralt expected that much from Graystone. Quickly, the three of them began a back and forth on the nomination procedure, tweaking and refining it. Verdek offered more improvements, clearly on board with the plan. But then it was Keeris' turn to speak.

“You are all disgusting!” he hissed. Clearly, he had no intentions of mincing words. “You are betraying the Remnant with this... democratic nonsense. And I shall have no part in it. I leave you all to your doom at the hands of Director Jendob.” A moment later, his projection vanished.

Bedlam erupted. Screams for Keeris' head, my head, adjournment, dissolution... Siralt looked to be on the edge of an aneurysm. He slammed his gavel on the podium until the head snapped off. “I suppose another recess is in order, after twelve bloody minutes of discussion!” he snarled.

“We shouldn't let Keeris' idiocy hold us back. I say we choose our candidates now,” called Bandan.

While there were some murmurs of dissent, the majority of moffs seemed to concur. One vote did not disrupt a decision-making quorum. Once the blood drained to normal levels in Siralt's face, the old grand moff nodded. “We shall begin the nominations immediately. Who will make the first?”

“I nominate Moff Rennie.”

“And who will second?”

“Aye.”

“Aye.”

“Aye.”

“Then Moff Rennie is hereby noted as a candidate for Emperor.”

More names leaped from the mouths of eager moffs. Rennie was the head of the financial committee. Making a friend of him, even if he had no chance of even making Grand Moff, was clearly an objective for a few moffs.

“I nominate Moff Jendob.”

I blinked and looked around frantically for the source of the statement. To my shock, horror, and above all, suspicion... it was Rosset. He continued. “After all, it was his idea. That speaks of a degree of leadership that we clearly need.”

Siralt didn't take the very thinly-veiled insult well. “And who will second the motion?”

“Aye,” one voice called.

Then the room fell silent for a moment. Anticipation began to build. I had no desire to rule the Empire—indeed, I only took over as Director of Intelligence because I was told to—and yet... part of me wanted another voice to cry out.

The murmuring began again. Siralt scanned up and down the assemblage of moffs, all clad in their light-gray uniforms, save one. “Two more seconds are required...”

“Aye,” came one call, decidedly meek in tone.

The murmuring fell to whispers. I looked back to find the source of the second vote and noticed a moff I'd seen before, but never really bothered to learn his name, practically burying his face into the flush-mounted the computer terminal.

“One more, then.” The Grand Moff's voice had an edge of... unease? “But we can't spend all day waiting for someone to—”

“Aye!”

I wasn't sure which annoyed Siralt more, the vote or the interruption. “Very well,” he seethed. “Moff Jendob's candidacy is confirmed.”

As the selection process went on, I was overcome by a strange fusion of dread and glee. Who in their wildest dreams would imagine becoming Emperor? And who, in their darkest nightmares, would want such a thing thrust upon them? The dread was abated, slightly, as the number of names on the candidacy list swelled. Each addition reduced my odds; provided my ranting earlier hadn't already ensured failure. Eventually, the list was capped at fifty names. A few of the moffs named to the list were sound leaders. Most were not. And then there was me... putting forth the idea in an act of desperation, without any desire to actually be the one to carry it out.

No matter. Hopefully, one of the good ones will win out. We need hope, not change... I thought, trying to reassure myself.

It didn't help much.

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Shayera Jendob
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 Post Posted: Sun, May 02nd 2010 12:36am    Post subject:
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One of the handy things about being the personal pilot to a Moff was a close-by office in the complex. It was especially handy when that Moff was also your husband... and it was around lunchtime. And so, I saved a few open files on my computer and switched off the screen before departing for the main suite.

"Catching lunch?" asked Petty Officer First Class Cassidy with a knowing smile.

Ams' secretary had light brown hair and gray eyes, and a very strictly professional relationship with the Intelligence Director. Once I had suspected Ams might be carrying on with the younger woman, years ago. To my chagrin and some tension at home and in the office, that hadn't been the case. Granted, I wasn't myself for some time after the accident, but it wasn't a proud moment for me. But, time healed most wounds and the petty officer and I were fairly friendly... now.

"If he's not too busy," I replied. "I hope you haven't thrown too much at him."

The other woman's smile quirked upward for a moment at the joke, but her expression became serious just as quickly. "Truth be told, I have no idea what he's doing in there. He worked through all of the stuff that was already lined up and then said he had to do some highly-sensitive work. That was two hours ago."

I raised an eyebrow. Granted, Ams was the Intel Director and despite Cassidy probably having the highest clearance of any non-com in the Navy, there were things that were strictly for his eyes, ears, and mind. I knew that from personal experience: my clearance was actually a grade lower than hers in the eyes of the Empire... and not very much higher in practice. "Well, if he's in some kind of conference..."

The request was unspoken, but understood. The petty officer tapped a key. "Moff Jendob? The commander is here to see you."

I hid a smile. I was the commander; never named, certainly never addressed as his spouse at that... namely because it once caused a minor controversy during a meeting. So, the rank worked nicely and made everything sound professional and official. I supposed to a civilian, it'd seem rather strange to find such a thing amusing—even complimentary—but it made sense to the Imperial side of me.

"Very well. Send her in."

Now the petty officer cocked an eyebrow. I tapped the top of her desk. "Thanks, Tam."

She nodded and then buzzed open the door. I walked through.

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 Post Posted: Sun, May 02nd 2010 01:33am    Post subject:
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As the door shut behind Shayera, she gave a simple greeting. "Hey."

Fortunately, no one else was in the office, or her salutation would have been incredibly inappropriate. Then again, if anyone else was, I doubted she would have resorted to such informality. And protocol be damned: if we were alone—especially on duty—she was more than welcome to such informality. "Hello, love. What's on your mind?"

"Mostly, what's not in my stomach," she answered, sitting down in a chair on the other side of my desk. "Wanna grab a bite?"

"In a moment," I nodded. "But... hmm..."

"Hmm?" she echoed, though with an upward inflection rather than down.

I thought for a moment. Shayera was fully aware of the situation within the Moff Council, as well as the hunt for the next imperator. Still, it was nothing she was supposed to be aware of, and gods forbid the wrong people learned about her technically illicit knowledge. "Well, I'm trying to decide which of these officers should get my support," I finally said, turning the computer screen to her.

On the glowing screen was a list of names, under a very clear heading. The selection of candidates had been yesterday, and already the Moff Council was holding votes to whittle down the candidates. There were to be several rounds of voting, to narrow down the candidates from fifty to five... then the ultimate selection would be made in a session of the Moff Council.

"What about number 42?"

How did I know she'd suggest that. "It might appear to be... inappropriate."

"I'd say not doing it could be even moreso," she noted. "After all, who votes for someone that wouldn't even pick themself?

"Ams, who are you trying to impress?" Shayera continued, a slight edge of exasperation in her tone. "Do you think any of those other Moffs on that list are going to select someone else for the sake of propriety?"

She had a point. But then again, I still didn't really want to be this far into the program. Perhaps by voting for someone else, I could make my intentions clear... or at least help back a more qualified candidate. And yet... I didn't really want to do that, for reasons both pragmatic and personal. On the pragmatic side, my sole vote—even multiplied out over the several rounds of voting and culling—was far from a guarantee for whoever I supported, nor would it help overcome power blocs that many of the influential Moffs had cultivated. On a personal level, despite the dread at the prospect, there was that notion that perhaps taking the reigns of power might not be so bad. It wasn't exactly an ambition for the throne, or a burning desire to rule or gain power... more a notion that I could help rebuild and reform the Empire in ways I'd never thought possible before.

"Do you not trust yourself?" Shy asked quietly.

I found I had no answer. Obviously, I did given my desires to change and reshape the Empire for the better—and from the top if necessary. And yet... I was unsure if I could handle the burden. "I... don't know."

She reached across the table, putting her hand in mine. "I trust in you."

"With that?" I asked bluntly.

"Yes," she said emphatically, her eyes locked with mine. "But, I also know that if—by some small chance—you get this, it'll change our lives in too many ways to count. And ultimately, it's your choice. So, if you truly don't want it..."

I squeezed her hand gently. Two things Shayera never did with me—well, not never, but very rarely—was mince words and hide the truth for the sake of my feelings. It was just another facet of her that I loved, and her sometimes brutal honesty had proven its worth time and time again in the nearly thirty years we'd been together. I turned the screen back, and entered in a number. As part of me cried out in fear, outrage, and dread, I quieted it with simple probability. The odds were simply against me.

I entered a few other numbers, as secondary options were required. But my number was in the primary spot. Hoping I'd made the right decision, I sent the electronic vote in to the required databank. "All right, it's done.

"Now, what was the original question?"

"Lunch. Now," Shy demanded, a smile crawling across her lips again.

"What about some Durese?"

My wife chuckled. "Well, glad to see you're decisive in that."

Despite her not-entirely-friendly mocking of my struggling with a major decision just moments prior, I felt a smirk slowly forming. I couldn't help but smile when she did, or when she laughed. I tapped a control on the desk. "Tamara?"

"Yes, sir?"

"I'll be back in about ninety minutes. Just in case anyone needs to know."

"Noted, sir." There was a click as the petty officer closed the line.

I looked back at Shayera. "Shall we? Somehow, I don't think they'll be able to deliver here."

"The tip would be a bitch, anyway," she replied dryly.

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Shayera Jendob
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 Post Posted: Thu, June 24th 2010 03:42am    Post subject:
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I looked around the assembled throng. Most of the Moffs were present, of course, with Grand Moff Siralt on the raised platform with Ams. I wasn't permitted up there; instead, I stood next to Kendra in the outdoor arena, along with about a hundred thousand others. The massive crystal starburst overhead shimmered and glinted in the sunlight, almost to the point of being painful to look at. The morning was a bit cool, so I was bundled up in my issued overcoat. Kendra just had her basic, black uniform.

I kept my eyes locked on Ams, after all... this was his moment. Several other dignitaries and officials were up on the platform, presumably to disguise the identity and importance of the event. After all, if Ams had been up there alone with Siralt... only a couple targets for a sniper. So they took the classic approach: multiple targets and a gamble that any assassin will hit one of the losers of what amounted to the biggest raffle in Galactic history.

Siralt leaned toward Ams, mumbling something. I caught the words ready... accept... responsibility. Ams looked toward me and a faint smile played on his lips. “I am,” he appeared to say.

The Grand Moff turned away, facing toward the crowd. I could read his lips fully as he replied, “I don't believe you think you're ready. Maybe that's why you are.”

...Interesting pep talk. I continued watching, hoping to glean a bit more. But at that moment, Siralt walked to the podium and gestured for order. Once the crowd quieted down enough for the amplifiers to make a meaningful difference, he began. “Good morning.”

For a moment, I looked away from the podium and back to my husband. His face showed—to those who could read it—that he felt otherwise. But the Grand Moff continued, not noticing. “Today is a momentous first step in a path that will take us to the future. This path will traverse rough ground and be lined by obstacles at every turn. But, we have discovered the man who will ford the streams and lead us forward. That is why we are gathered here, today.”

He looked over at Ams. “Moff Jendob, please rise. It is the decision of the Moff Council of the Imperial Remnant that you will instated as Emperor of the Remnant, Sovereign of the Empire. You have been chosen to lead us. Will you accept?”

Gasps and shouts of confusion rang out from the crowd. Even standing in the second row of observers, I could barely hear Ams say “I accept.”

Then a hovering holocam floated near him; his face filled the screens erected in front of the Headquarters Building. “I am honored to serve the Remnant, Grand Moff,” he stated, giving a bow at the neck. That time, the words were made audible thanks to the holocam's audio pickup.

Strangely, the crowd suddenly fell silent. Siralt took a small box from one of the personnel on the stage, and opened it. From within, he extracted a glittering medallion of cobalt blue on a golden chain, and placed it around Ams' neck.

Gods, I hope he doesn't have to wear that often, was my first thought on seeing the gaudy trinket. He also handed Ams the box, which I was pretty sure was just a basic shoulder-board case. Apparently, Emperors got their new insignia just like any crewman or officer...

Finally, after Siralt had been relieved of the items, he took a step back and assumed a formal posture, as if about to salute. But instead of raising his hand to his brow, he instead dropped to one knee, then chanted, “Long live the Empire! Long live the Emperor!”

Everyone on the stage fell to one knee, as well, all around Ams. Oh my gods, this is really happening, isn't it? I thought, the implications finally sinking in after two days. The sinking accelerated as I heard and saw innumerable people in the crowd repeating the gesture, some even calling out Siralt's benediction. Oh, what the hell... he only gets to do this once. I joined in, with Kendra almost instantly following along. A wry thought crossed my mind, partly fueled by the positioning and partly by the somewhat ridiculous levels of pomp and ceremony being built up.

There was a brief pause, then Ams' voice came over the audio system. “Rise, my friends. I'm not an emperor of old.”

There was a brief commotion as those who knelt regained their standing posture. “And for those of you who didn't feel like kneeling, you can stay standing if you like.” Some nervous laughter issued from the crowd, as did a few curses... presumably from those less than impressed. Maybe it's a good thing Kris didn't come.

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 Post Posted: Thu, June 24th 2010 07:27pm    Post subject:
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“We face a great threat in this day and age,” I began. No use with some silly little speech explaining my origins or what have you. No one cared about that. “I'm sure many of you saw the announcement by the so-called Grand Admiral Zend last night. It's interesting to note that she says she will not tolerate falsehood, even as she attempts to feed you a pack of lies.

“She claims we engage in slavery, discrimination, sexism, speciesism, genocide, and murder behind closed doors. Yet, she later confesses to murdering our High Moff, Jagged Fel, as well as the majority of the Defense Council. The charge of genocide is equally false and hypocritical: the only time the Remnant has burned worlds and hunted entire species is under the command of Daara Zend. And those blood-soaked commanders who carried out the acts were the first to run off with her. She claims the Remnant are those who were unworthy to join her; I say we were the only ones with the fortitude to stay behind and answer for what we'd done.

I paused, to allow that to sink in. “The Empire isn't perfect, and it has a checkered history. We've never hidden from that. But we have a clear and unblemished future. We have a chance to prove the naysayers wrong rather than simply crushing them by force of arms. We can remake ourselves, stronger, better than ever without ever falling into the ways of Palpatine, the ways of Zend.”

There was some noise from the crowd. Some, of course, would likely fall away in support of Zend. Others were the exact opposite... but the majority were likely unsure of which way to go. “'There is no judicial requirement for me to say these things. They are true, whether I say them or not, whether you accept them or not. I am simply reminding The Galaxy.' Those are Zend's words. In short, she is unaccountable and beyond reproach. Her word is law, her deeds are example. At least, that's how she sees it. She believes a rank granted to her by a mad clone carries weight, lends her an ounce of credibility. But she was a warlord, no different from Teradoc, Zsinj, or the various others who opted to carve out personal domains rather than serve the Empire proper.

“She also asks what you have gained in twenty years. Apparently, peace, prosperity, security, and rights accorded to all sentient beings mean little to Daara Zend. Perhaps she speaks of territorial gains, of loot and plunder. She views the universe the same way a distant astronomer using an optical telescope does: she sees what was, not what is. She doesn't care about progress, peace, or the subjects of the Imperial Remnant. She lusts for power and blood, for eternal war so her life will have some meaning. She knows nothing beyond war, she understands nothing of peace-keeping. Her ways are the ways of old, of eternal warfare, secret police, round-ups of critics who then disappear forever, waste and inefficiency, murder and hatred,” I asserted. “I ask you, is that what you want? Do you want to return to the days of the Dark Empire under Palpatine's deranged clones?”

The crowd cheered, calling back, “No!”

“Then reject the lies and propaganda of Daara Zend! We are the true Empire! Not me, not the Moffs, but all of us who call the Empire home!” I shouted. “A shining new era is around the corner and we aren't about to let Palpatine's last plaything stand in our way, right?”

No!

“I promise you all... we will never repeat the mistakes of the past. That is my solemn vow as your new emperor,” I said firmly. “Let Zend claim what she will. Let her prevaricate and project and twist the truth. It will only speed her overthrow when those whose eyes are closed are finally opened. But, we shall never surrender, we shall never give up, never give in. I will gladly lay down my life to prevent Daara Zend from sinking her talons into you. She thinks by sowing the Empire with spies and saboteurs, by killing a young man—a father-to-be—that we will be cowed into submission. But no. That's not how the Empire works. She will pay for her crimes, for her deceit, her murders, and her treason. A leader cannot simply abdicate the throne, then wander back years later and demand the reigns once more. Daara Zend is an abdicator, a deserter, and a traitor. She has forfeited all claims to power and authority. So, her actions now are not those of a leader of the Empire, but of a pirate.”

I looked across the crowd, then into the floating holocam. “And to the forces under Daara Zend, I extend a legitimate offer of amnesty and mercy to you to match the sham enticement to slavery your commander has publicized. Lay down your arms, surrender and—if you have committed a crime against us—your cooperation will be taken into consideration during your trial. This extends to everyone, from the Grand Admiral herself to the lowest trooper or crewman.”

Turning back to the crowd, I offered my final words on the matter. “And if they should refuse us, then we will have no recourse but to defend ourselves. Long! Live! The Empire!” I raised a clenched fist high above my head with the final salutation.

Long live the Empire! Long live the Emperor!” The crowd began to chant. I was filled with an odd mixture of pride, fear, and determination. Daara Zend would prove a challenge, but I wasn't about to shrink from the threat. The Empire had gone too long without a true leader—Zend and the false Emperors Carivus, Nolyds, and Jax didn't provide any real leadership, and while Daala laid the foundation for a new Empire, she too was caught up in her own personal vendettas—and I had no intentions of being mentioned alongside that ilk.

I stepped away from the podium and motioned to Siralt. “Gather the Moff Council. I need to meet with them as soon as possible.”

He seemed on the edge of protest, but quickly remembered what had transpired. “Yes, Your Highness.”

I suppressed a wince. Maybe my first act can be banning the more annoying forms of address.


Within twenty minutes, the Council was assembled in the usual meeting hall. It felt strange to be standing at the front, to be the one in charge of the Council. Hell, to be in charge of the entire Remnant... And on the first day of his rule, Emperor Jendob the First had no bloody clue what he was doing.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” I started. “Two weeks ago, to the day, a bomb exploded in this building. Among the dead was High Moff Jagged Fel, as well as the Chiefs of Staff of the Imperial Army and Navy. The only survivors were myself, Moff Rosset, and Moff Sarreti.”

Some looks from the Moffs told me to get to the point. But title had its privileges. “Since that day, I've had Imperial Intelligence working to find how our security was breached and the bomb-carrying droid able to get in. Part of it was complacency on our part. But, this was exploited by a saboteur, loyal to Zend. Perhaps even a spy for her, for all of these years.”

“Didn't we know this two weeks ago?” Moff Deann called.

“Yes. But we've managed to close in on the identity of the traitor. Our investigations led to us to this very Council.”

“Surely, you don't mean one of us!” Moff Bandan exclaimed.

I nodded somberly. “Sadly, I do.” I turned to one of the Stormtroopers flanking me. “Corporal...”

“Well, don't hold us in suspense, Jendob,” Rosset complained. “Who's the mole?”

I looked at him... and was unable to suppress a wide, mirthless grin. “Surely, you know the answer. Or haven't you looked in a mirror since?”

Shocked expressions, invocations, and inhalations exploded from the Moffs. Rosset stayed calm. “What are you insinuating?”

“Moff Aloysius Rosset, I hereby charge you with high treason, sabotage, espionage, and fifteen counts of premeditated murder. I could also charge you with embezzlement, misallocation of funds, and misuse of Imperial military property... but the first set are more than enough to warrant your execution.”

“This is outrageous,” Rosset shrieked. “You have no proof! And to think I nominated you for Emperor!” He turned to the Council. “He holds the office for twenty minutes and he's already mad with power!”

“How did you Daara Zend came from the Unknown Regions, Rosset?”

He stopped cold. “What?”

“You said, and I quote... 'You have been chosen by the Moff Council to lead the Imperial Remnant against the defector Zend and drive her back into the Unknown Regions.' How did you know where she came from? And why were you so anxious during the meeting, the day of the bombing?”

Rosset hesitated. I motioned toward him, and the Stormtrooper corporal started to walk toward the traitorous moff. When the soldier was a few meters away, Rosset sneered, “You're all fools. Daara Zend will wipe you all from the face of the Universe, along with the Rebel scum and their Jedi lapdogs.”

He produced a small hold-out blaster from the folds of his uniform. Three bolts impacted the stormtrooper corporal. I reacted without thinking: I grabbed the pistol from the holster of the trooper next to me, even as she shouldered her rifle. “Farewell, my liege,” spat Rosset as he aimed at me.

I was too late. I couldn't hope to swing the muzzle of my appropriated pistol around in time. Time froze for an instant. I saw the expression of murderous glee on Rosset's face, his finger tightening on the trigger. Other Moffs were recoiling in shock, while some were actually leaping over their comrades to tackle Rosset. Then three, brilliant azure bolts hammered into the treasonous officer. The first blast hit his shoulder, throwing his aim wide. The next two flash-burned the inside of his torso to ash. Rosset staggered, dropped his pistol. He looked, slack-jawed, toward me. Then he fell.

The corporal he shot pulled himself up. His armor was scarred and burned, but not penetrated. I walked over and pulled him up. “Are you all right, soldier?”

“Yes, sir—err, Your Highness.”

“Get to the infirmary, trooper. Make sure.” I turned back to the shocked Moffs. I put on a non-chalant tone. “So, any other business we need to attend to?”

They merely gaped as Rosset's corpse was dragged out.

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Katya Tranchida
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 Post Posted: Fri, June 25th 2010 07:58pm    Post subject:
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Katya regarded the corpse of the recently deceased Rosset, still tinged with the scent of burnt flesh and fabric, with nothing but a slight grin. Rosset's alliance with the madwoman Zend was a surprise, certainly, but she was glad to see him go.

"The glitch in our systems on Muunilinst has been fixed, and I can say with the utmost confidence that the Banking Clan's security systems have been repaired and improved to the utmost of their capabilities," said Katya, responding to the inquiry of the new Emperor. She had been unsure of how to take Jendob before, but his handling of the events within the past few hours had impressed her - not an easy feat. Perhaps there would be more to gain from this extravagant sham than she first believed. "Such an incident will not occur again. I speak for the entire Banking Clan, Muunilinst, the Obtrexta Sector, and the entities contained therein, and myself personally, in professing complete loyalty to our regime, your Highness. We will have victory over Zend and her force of deserters." Katya gave the new Emperor her signature well-practiced smile to convince him of the sincerity of her words.

Sorry about the brief post. Just thought Katya should say something, since she is on the Moff Council.
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 Post Posted: Sun, June 27th 2010 03:10am    Post subject:
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Actually, I should be sorry about kinda running roughshod over them all like it's still entirely NPC. :p

"That's good, Moff Tranchida. Very good. Zend would likely make a play for Muunilinst. When she makes her move, we need to be on our guard," I noted. "I'd also like to see recommendations for Security Director, Grand General of the Army, Grand Admiral, and... it seems the Myto sector needs a new Moff."

I tried to think of anything to add. "I'd also like to see some proposals for efficiently distributing resources, military and otherwise, in the event of invasion or other catastrophic event."


A few hours afterward, I was still trying to wrap my head around the idea of actually being an emperor. Power... unlimited power was what Palpatine wielded. He controlled through fear and domination; however, I was far from an omnipotent autocrat. Nor could I change that by spewing lightning out of my fingers, tearing holes in space, or crushing someone's throat or ribcage with a thought. I actually had to enact common sense edicts and commands, in the face of a body that was only surpassed in its lack of sense—possibly—by the New Republic Senate.

Not to mention the personal upheavals that needed to take place. Shayera and I bought our house when the twins were four. For every fight, there were ten happy memories to counter. To have to simply sever that connection in favor of being put into a fortress once owned by a traitor...

Then again, being a palace, it was comfortably large. Assuming Kris desired a room for the rare times he might deign to grace us with his presence, it could even be on an entirely separate level from where I'd be likely to be encountered. Everyone wins.

I walked slowly down one of the corridors of the huge tower. I wondered if Pellaeon or Quille or Fel ever felt the sense of isolation I did. Then again, they ruled in peaceful times. My inauguration was more or less a declaration of war by the Moff Council. Zend struck first, though. This is her doing.

And she wouldn't have done it if she wasn't sure of victory
, I finished, darkly.

The loneliness was quickly interrupted by the stamp-stamp-stamp of a running officer. "My lord," he panted, shouting down the corridor. "My lord, come quickly!"

"What is it?" I asked, annoyed at the interruption and secretly nervous about the tone.

"It's Zend, m'lord. She's struck at Muunilinst."

"What? When?"

"It would seem the attack began several hours ago, but communications have only just gotten through. It's almost as if she wants us to know."

I gritted my teeth and began racing to the war room. The winded aide was just behind.



"Status report!" I demanded as I entered the room. Several senior flag officers stood around, as well as a handful of Moffs. I began to notice just how omnipresent they truly were.

"Zend's forces have been laying siege to Muunilinst for several hours, my lord," Moff Deann spoke up. "It appears there was heavy jamming which prevented any messages from getting out until now."

"Our forces in the area?"

Deann pulled up a three-dimensional map of the battle and pointed to a few blue points of light, opposite the planet of a host of red sprites. "A handful of Dragoon-class cruisers and some lighter vessels. All of our heavy forces were destroyed."

"And where is Moff Tranchida? Muunilinst is her seat, is it not?"

Tag: Gorog
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Shayera Jendob
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 Post Posted: Mon, July 12th 2010 02:27am    Post subject:
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I never really realized just how huge the headquarters center was. The coronation ceremony was hours old—the maintenance workers were still cleaning up the mess from the crowd—but it seemed like weeks. Now where did that wayward Emperor get to...

Granted, I'd tracked him down to the Moff Council chambers... shortly after, I heard blasterfire from within. Then what was left of Rosset was dragged out, followed by a dazed Stormtrooper with shot-up armor. The trooper explained what had happened and that Ams was all right. I figured I could wait until he finished his first meeting with the Moff Council—and the first direct assassination attempt—to see him. And the notion that if I didn't wait, I might get shot before taking two steps into the room dampened my urges to charge in.

Two hours later, he'd finally finished with the Moffs. He'd seemed... different, somehow. And it wasn't just the awful jewelry of state. Still, it had been good to finally see him, finally. He'd motioned the Moffs and others along when he stopped by where I was sitting.

"So, how is the Emperor business going?" I'd asked.

His response had been surprising: a tight hug, right there in the middle of the corridor. "Better now."

"Anything I can do to help?" I'd asked after the embrace was broken.

A grim smile played on his features. "Sadly, not yet."

We'd started to walk down the corridor. At the time, I could tell something was wrong. "Are you all right?"

"Just a lot to take in at once... and starting in the deep end isn't usually the easiest way to learn," he'd replied quietly.

"No, but it's usually the best."

"If you don't drown," Ams had noted.

"You won't. We won't... okay?"

He had stopped and looked over at me. "And you accuse me of being overly corny."

"Ah, go back to playing Emperor," I'd laughed. "Besides, I think your new minions are waiting."

"You're probably right," he'd chuckled. "I'll contact you as soon as I can."

After that, I'd returned to my office, if only to have something to do besides twiddle my thumbs. Briefly, the thought did cross my mind that he was conducting all of the business without me. Then again, I was able to see why he might do that at first: the Moffs would be difficult enough accepting his rule. And even with gender discrimination formally discouraged, it was neither illegal nor dead. On top of that, sparing me from dealing with those idiots might well be one of the kindest acts Ams had performed in our marriage... as well as vital to the survival of the Empire, via the survival of said Moffs.

But, after a few hours of finishing my last reports, packing up personal effects, and doing everything else I could to occupy myself, I'd once again fallen into smothering boredom. In turn, that led to my current question to track down my dear wayward Emperor. How the hell is it we have the headquarters and a Palace on Bastion? Palpatine was a lot of things, but at least he had the sense to do it all in one. Do we really need all of this space?

I sighed and continued to explore the vast complex. Finally, I spotted an aide, pacing back and forth by a guarded entrance. I recognized his face from the Moff Council meeting two weeks before. "Excuse me..."

He jerked upright, looked over, then narrowed his eyes. "Yes?" he asked suspiciously.

"I'm uh..." Yeah, this is gonna sound odd. "I'm looking for the Emperor. Have you seen him?" Oh, yeah. That's not suspicious at all.

He pressed his lips together into a thin line. "I'll need to see your credentials before commenting on the matter further."

I sighed again, and handed over my ID card. To underscore the name, I also held up my left hand and waited for it to click.

He went over the ID like it was a diamond before handing it. "My apologies, Mrs. Jendob. I didn't..." he trailed off, then started again with new confidence. "The Emperor is currently meeting with his top officials, and I don't believe he would appreciate the intrusion--"

"Intrusion?"

"Erm... the interruption, Your Highness," he covered quickly.

I frowned. "And might I ask what this important meeting is about?"

"There has been an attack on the Empire, your Highness, and the Emperor is planning his response to Zend," he said quietly.

My jaw almost dropped. "An attack?"

"Yes... and I would tell you more, but I'm not certain I have the time - or even the authority - to brief you. I'll let you through, but I strongly recommend you wait for the Emperor to dismiss the meeting himself."

The aide's manner quickly ablated the shock with more chafing. "Why don't you go in and ask him..." It wasn't a question.

With a flash of annoyance, he went in. A few moments later, he came out and nodded. I started to move toward the door when a figure blocked it. "What's the matter?"

Ams' tone was calculated neutrality. That was a bad sign. "Just wondering what you're up to," I said, trying to sound nonchalant. "So, what's this about Zend?"

"She struck at Muunilinst. We're trying to scramble reinforcements."

"Is there anything I can do? Provide a fresh pair of eyes, or...?"

Ams shook his head. "Not now, no."

"Why not?"

He lowered his voice. "Just trust me, Shy. And I'm afraid I won't be able to meet up with you tonight." When I looked at him for an explanation, he remarked, "I can't leave until this is settled... one way or the other."

A cynical smile spread on my face. "Good management... and good public relations." He opened his mouth to protest. "No, I understand."

"I'm sorry," he said softly as one of the Moffs called to him. "And I'll tell someone to keep the Empress informed, all right?" He gave me a sardonic grin.

"Oh, goody," I said flatly. "I'll try to keep the Remnant together while you play Battleship."

He reached out and squeezed my hand as an angered "M'lord!" came from the dim room. "I'll see you as soon as I can."

I nodded and he looked at the aide, who had stepped a respectful distance away. "Major, see to it that the Empress is kept up to date on all matters. And inform anyone looking for me that they are to speak to her."

"As you will, Your Highness."

...So... he leads the battle... and I run the Empire now? Oh frak...

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Katya Tranchida
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 Post Posted: Tue, July 13th 2010 08:18pm    Post subject:
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Katya blinked rapidly, her face otherwise portraying no hint of the anger that boiled within her. "What?"

"Grand Admiral Zend has struck at Muunilinst, madam," the stormtrooper captain guarding her shuttle repeated, trying but failing not to cower in the face of an intimidating superior.

"Daara Zend is a deserter and a madwoman," Katya reprimanded the captain in a cold tone, "and no longer recognized by the rank of 'Grand Admiral.'"

The captain blinked as well, at a loss for words for a moment. "My apologies, madam," he managed to stutter in reply.

Katya turned her back on the stormtroopers, fuming as she strode back to Remnant headquarters. Muunilinst's defenses were formidable, but there was no telling what monstrosities Zend had developed after being gone in the Unknown Regions for twenty years. And with the majority of the Banking Clan's deposits secured there, the fall of the planet would be a devastating blow to the financial conglomerate - one from which it might not recover.

Katya stopped her furious walk to examine her hands. Little had she noticed until now, her grip as she had been walking was so tight, her nails had dug into her palms, which now bled from small cuts with fresh blood.

She quickly wiped off her palms on her uniform - stain-proof, a property which came in handy for a businesswoman and politician who had to dress well on many an occasion - before continuing, this time making it a point to relax her hands and breathe slowly.

The Banking Clan would make it. Katya would make it. After all, if the IGBC had emerged from two galactic civil wars and still maintained some level of prestige, among all galactic powers, especially, then it would survive the assaults of one renegade holdover from the Dark Empire.

The doors to the new Emperor's command center opened, and Katya did not give them a second before she walked right through them and to Jendob. Bowing, she began, "I believe you wished to see me, my lord?"

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 Post Posted: Tue, July 20th 2010 08:49pm    Post subject:
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I looked over at the Moff as she entered. "Yes. And I appreciate the prompt response, Moff Tranchida... it may well keep you from being shot as a traitor.

"As I trust you've been informed, your throneworld has fallen under attack. Zend has decimated the defenses you are responsible for. Only a handful of cruisers remain and have regrouped on the far side of the planet. Enemy troops have landed across the planet, including in Harnaidan."

I pressed a button and the globe of Muunilinst unfurled into a long, two-dimensional map covered with glowing red points. A few blue indicators were locked in close proximity with the crimson blips, indicating loyalist forces battling Zend's troops. But there was far more red than blue, and many of the loyalist pockets were in danger of encirclement.

"The situation is virtually hopeless unless we can break Zend's forces in space," I stated matter-of-factly. "Admiral, what is the nearest fleet-sized element?"

"Mygeeto, my lord. Moff Henck is on-planet."

Sparing a glance at Tranchida, I addressed the admiral. "Order him to deploy his fleet to Muunilinst immediately. And inform the senior ISB officer to watch him and all of the commanders in that fleet. If anyone attempts to defect or undermine the defense of the planet, they're to be killed... although detainment is an option."

I turned back to embattled moff. "Now, I trust you will want to keep watch on the battle from this room... rather than going off-planet." The dangerous edge was plainly obvious in my voice. I never knew Tranchida to be even slightly treasonous, but with everything collapsing so quickly... no one could be trusted.

Tag: Gorog, Cray
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Shayera Jendob
Moff


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 Post Posted: Fri, August 13th 2010 11:10pm    Post subject:
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The smells of the vast garden provided a minor comfort. I allowed myself to open my eyes and looked around once again. I was sitting on a small bench in the middle of Pellaeon's old arboretum. After the Zend crisis, the Grand Admiral planted the garden in the top of the huge starburst formation on top of the Headquarters building. After his retirement, they were still maintained out of respect and, probably more importantly, more than a few high-ranking officials enjoyed a walk through them for relaxation or covert conversation. Sometimes, even the former Grand Admiral could be seen tending the gardens. Then again, there were all manner of theories on that, too. Senility, espionage, shadow governments, secret deals with mystical nature-forces to rain down disasters on the New Republic... Take your pick, I guess.

The garden was impeccably ordered, supposedly as a metaphor for the Empire. Nevertheless, it was still a pleasant place to gather my thoughts. And there was a hell of a lot to gather.

At last report, the fleet at Mygeeto was almost ready to depart for Muunilinst. Having flown the route more than a couple times in a scout ship, I knew it would take them over three hours to make the run from Mygeeto to Aris, then turn up the Aris/Marmoth/Cezith/Endoraan run, swing another ninety degrees to Bisellia, and then the short hop to Muunilinst. Two hours in hyperspace, and almost an hour for a fleet of ships to make the real-space course corrections and maneuvers, overall. However, the bad situation at Muunilinst might actually play into their hands: if they were lucky, they could drop from hyperspace as Zend was readying backup ground forces. She'd be forced to risk having them shot down, or hold them in reserve while dealing with the new fleet... and then risk losing an entire ground complement with each ship she lost. And even breaking her formation for a short while might allow for some bombing runs—or, if necessary, orbital strikes—on the landed troops. Then again, we knew Zend had an Executor in orbit, one of the two she ran off with. By comparison, the Remnant had three standby-reserve Executor-class command ships, with none fully staffed and on alert status.

And now, while Ams tried to direct the battle—good PR, at that—I was acting in his stead for everyone else. And no one was particularly comfortable with it... least of all, me. Granted, with Zend's move on Muunilinst, more people were distracted by that, but a few people found themselves pulled away from the crisis long enough to ask me, of all frakking things, about decorating... followed by another person asking about the provisions for defending the outer colonies. Being honest with them was tempting. But instead, I merely redirected them to the existing defense plans and said if there were any changes, I'd gladly notify her superior. The frakwit asking about decorating was lucky not to simply get my boot lodged in his rear.

Well, thinking about it all over again isn't gonna help, I sighed mentally. I tried shutting my eyes again, just focusing on the quiet chirping of the few birds allowed in the garden, the smells of the flowers and plants, the warmth from the captured sunlight and heating units... Slowly, the tension began to drift.

Barrroooooo!

My head snapped up right, my eyes shot open. What the hell?

More baying and barking echoed across the garden. Some personnel began laughing at something, others muttered disgust at a canine being allowed into the area. And there was the odd sneeze here and there. Gods. To hell with this, I'm going back to my office.

I rose from the carved stone bench, and began walking toward an exit when I became aware that my boots weren't the only things making a clicking sound on the stone floor. The identity of the stalker was confirmed with an extremely close howl.

I whirled and stared down at my adversary... and then continued to look down. “Well, don't you have a set of lungs for such a short thing,” I noted mirthlessly.

An Alderaanian low hound stared up at me with its sad-looking, big brown eyes and barked. Kinda cute, if annoying. I knelt down, studying the creature. Canine, to be sure, though not as rare as their name would suggest. It had long, droopy ears covered in short, brown fur that covered most of its head and most of its face. The fur around the dogs nose and muzzle was white, which extended about halfway up its snout before meeting with the brown markings. Its body was almost totally black, extending to the back of its skull, save for a ring of white around neck. Its tail was dark brown, with a white tip. But most striking were its almost comically short legs which barely elevated the dog from the ground. Then again, that was how they got their name.

As if in response to my studying, the hound let out a whine and plodded closer. It sniffed around my foot with great interest. I stood up to get out of the way. Well, should I just walk off? Someone's gotta be looking for it. I mean, who would just let it loose in here? Then again, I've got better things to do than babysit some strange—

My train of thought was interrupted as the hound suddenly reared up on its hind legs and planted both forepaws on my thigh. For an instant, I froze in shock and a hint of fear. Was it about to attack? Should I shove it off and bolt?

Then it let out another mournful-sounding bay and its expression changed ever-so-slightly. A kind of soulful pleading look, that almost seemed to beg, pet me!

I grunted... and found myself running my hand over its head. And again. I shook my head after the third time and scowled at the floppy-faced mutt. “You're worse than my husband,” I grumbled quietly.

“There you are!”

I looked up from the low hound to see a bespectacled man with thinning light brown hair practically bolting toward me. “Get down! Down, girl! Oh, bother!” Without any ceremony or deference, he reached out, grasped the dog by its collar, and firmly pulled it away.

A moment passed as he re-leashed the loud mutt, which had starting whining and barking loudly. Then he looked up with alarm. “Ma'am, I'm terribly sorry... uh, Commander. She just got away from me. Did she hurt you? She doesn't bite...”

I was tempted to chew the slightly-taller man out for the lack of control over his pet. I was tempted to laugh over how he managed to utter the word bother in a manner that would've made any good Navy officer blush. Then there was the urge to dismiss the gentleman and just leave; after all, Bastion was a big planet. “I'm fine, Mister...”

“Oh, um, Browne. And I don't think I caught your name, Commander?”

On sheer reflex, I replied, “Shayera Jendob. That said—”

Browne's jaw nearly cratered the stone floor. He dropped so fast I thought he was going to break his legs. “I'm really, really sorry, ma'am. I didn't realize...”

“Huh?” I thought for a moment. Oh, right. Empress by marriage and all that... “Oh. That. Look, don't—please get up, Mister Browne?”

The poor dog-owner stood. I continued. “I'm fine. The dog is fine... I think, anyway. Just, uh... try to keep him—”

“Her.”

Quick jump from kneeling to interrupting, I thought with amusement. “Keep her leashed a little better. Besides, what are you doing in here with hi—her anyway? Headquarters isn't open to civilians.”

“Oh, I work here,” he explained in a cheerful tone that betrayed a tinge of irritation. “I'm the head chef for HQ.”

“And the dog?” I was almost afraid to ask that. Visions of him saying he was fattening up the poor thing before serving it danced in my brain.

“She helps me find truffles.”

I drew a complete blank for a second. “Truffles?”

“Yes, truffles. They're a kind of fungus that—”

“I know what a truffle is,” I cut him off with irritation. “I just didn't think there were any in here.”

Browne nodded. “Oh, sure. The Grand Admiral loved them. He had an entire area sectioned off for the kitchen. Herbs, spices, vegetables... what, you didn't think it was all flowers and streams, did you?” he laughed. After a pregnant pause, he quickly added, “Uh, ma'am. I mean, Your Highness. Empress.”

“Ma'am works fine, Chef Browne,” I said, my annoyance abated a bit by his comical stumbling with the title. Might as well enjoy while it's still funny. “Anyway, if everything here is copacetic, I should be going.”

“Well, actually,” the chef started. “I was hoping to speak to you at some point.”

“Why's that?”

He looked down for a moment, sheepishly. “Well, uh... it turns out I'm being moved to the palace staff. You know for the Emperor and uh... you, I guess.”

I should've known when I thought I'd never see him or his—eww, it's drooling... a lot—slobbering dog again... “Really? Unfortunately, this isn't a good time or place.”

“Oh, I understand completely. Could I set up a meeting, or an appointment, or...?”

I sighed inwardly. Oh, come on. You've really got nothing better to do. It's all about the battle, and Ams is dealing with that. How bad can a chef be, anyway?

...Then again, Niles can be a pain at times.


“If you have the time, I guess we can head to the office level,” I offered.

“Now?”

“Now.”

He held up the leash, tentatively. My goodwill began to fade. “Fine. But it stays on the leash.”

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 Post Posted: Sat, August 21st 2010 12:13am    Post subject:
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General Lemurus' words crackled over across all of the local bands. What few com/scan stations remained under Loyalist control sent the damning words back to Bastion. Heads lowered in despair and anguish. My hands clenched on the rim of the holoprojector. I imagined my fingers crushing small furrows into the duraplast lining.

I turned to Admiral Barcalow. "Do we have return communications?"

"Yes, Your Highness, but most communications facilities are in enemy hands."

I muttered a caustic oath under my breath. "Go to the communications room and see what you can do about keeping resistance alive on that planet until we can get them some assets. Meanwhile, gentlemen... Jaemus and Bescane."

Tapping the map controls as Admiral Barcalow left, the northern area of the Remnant came into view. Two small dots of light gleamed between now-occupied Muunilinst and the planet where we stood. "I want these worlds as heavily fortified as possible. Our final line of defense is Bescane, especially. If it falls..."

I didn't need to explain the consequences further. The map showed it all, very plainly. Failure was death, to hold the line was death. "I'm going to step out for a few minutes and deal with the public. I expect you'll have proposals ready... and then we're staying in this command center until those proposals are finalized and put into action."

A few of the senior command officers shifted uncomfortably. I gave them a wry smile. "Well, surely you don't plan to rest while your Emperor toils through the night? Except for you, Moff Tranchida."

I wheeled on the woman. "You lost your throneworld," I stated matter-of-factly. There was a pause, to allow the seriousness of her situation to sink in. "But...

"No one could have foreseen such a rapid and heavy assault. The Empire has already lost two territorial governors today. One, at least, died in service to the Empire," I noted somberly. "Given the ties Mygeeto has to the Banking Clan—and thus to you—I'm transferring you to the Albarrio sector. Effective immediately.

"But if Zend comes to Mygeeto, Tranchida... I believe the saying is 'with your shield or upon it.' Are we clear?"

Tag: Gorog
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Katya Tranchida
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 Post Posted: Sun, August 22nd 2010 03:33am    Post subject:
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Katya suppressed the urge to blink in surprise at the new Emperor's mandate. It was unbecoming for a woman of her position to be caught unawares. Especially in light of what had happened recently.

"Of course, my lord," Katya said, bowing. "Myself and the Banking Clan are eternally grateful for your merciful understanding."

Emperor Jendob continued to regard her rather coolly. (I hope that's OK to say)

"I will not waste your Excellency's time by continuing to offer profuse apologies. I find that such words do little to remedy situations that are in the past. But you have my utmost assurances that Zend will not catch the true Empire unaware again. What has occurred at Muunilinst will not be repeated in Albarrio or any of the other sectors." She paused, allowing her words to sink in.

"Now, if I may do so, it is my recommendation that we reach out to our allies in the Galactic Union, such as the Republic and the Hapans, and those outside of it, like the Chiss, and rally them against Zend, before she tries to turn us against each other. I will utilize my contacts in Hutt space and turn over any useful intelligence I find to you personally."
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Ams Jendob
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 Post Posted: Sat, August 28th 2010 09:29pm    Post subject:
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Well, since you got it right... no problem. :p

To avoid breaking up the post, I hope you don't mind if I return the favor.>_>


"See to it, Moff Tranchida. You're dismissed."

As she left, I turned back to the officers. "I'll return shortly. Remember to have your proposals ready."

After the chorus of acknowledgments, I exited the makeshift war room and plucked the comlink out of my waist pocket. "Shayera?"

There was a moment of delay. "Ams? Where've you been?"

Her voice brought a faint smile, despite all that happened. “I'm fine. I just left the... meeting. Where are you?”

Still in my office. So, ready to go?

I checked my wristwatch. Bloody hell... “I'm afraid not, love,” I sighed. “I still have some things to do. You go on ahead.”

A pause. “You sure?

“Yes. I don't know how long it'll be... and it may not be an issue of hours.”

What's wrong?” she asked. “What could need that kind of attention?

I sighed. “I don't want to discuss it on a channel. Meet me down here on your way out and I'll explain.”

Okay. Be down in a couple.

Shaking my head, I walked through the small access corridors that led to the side door I'd used. I reached the main hallway just as Shayera exited the lift. She immediately cut to the chase, not even waiting until she'd finished walking over to ask, “So, what's all this about?”

I opened the door to a smaller conference room. The acoustics in the corridor were too good. Her reply was a simple nod and walking through the hatchway. I closed the door behind us. “Muunilinst is lost.”

Shayera turned ashen. Her mouth opened, but no sounds came forth. “We're already reinforcing Bescane and Jaemus,” I added. “We're going to cordon Muunilinst and contain Zend, then force her out. Reports also indicate she moved at Bilbringi.”

Shy scratched her ear. “So, she hit the Republic, too.”

I nodded. “It seems that way. But, if we can deny her access to the Remnant, we'll at least be in a stronger position to provide assistance.”

If the Republic asks,” she noted with doubt.

“Well, yes. There is that, too.”

She shook her head. “So, if Muunilinst went down... what's left to do?”

“We still have to get the other worlds reinforced. And I'm not trusting that to the Council. So, it may be a few more hours... or a bit longer yet. I don't know.” I paused a moment. When she said nothing, I went on and attempted to lighten the mood. “So, there's really no reason for you to stay locked in your office or whatever it was you've been doing all this time.”

“Ams... I... I don't know what to say. On the one hand...” she trailed off, then sighed with resignation. “But, I guess it comes with the new job. Just let me know once you're done. I'll come get you; I'm sure you'll need some rest by then.”

I smiled and reached out to her. She came close and I wrapped my arms tightly around her. “Don't worry about me. I'll be fine.” I looked into her eyes a moment and saw the deep worry there. “It won't be long. Not as long as I have one thing to keep me going.”

“What's that?”

I pressed my lips gently to hers. “That.”

Shayera chuckled. “Well, here's one for the road.”

Her “reply” was more forceful than my initial contact, with a few traces of bordering on something more intimate and passionate. But she pulled away—after an eternity and yet all too soon it seemed—and smiled once more. “Now, go play Emperor. We'll play Husband and Wife when you're done.”

I smirked. “Just remember, you're playing too.” Letting go of her, I turned toward the door. “Now, if you'll excuse me, love... I believe the Empress just gave me an order.”

“Oh, and Ams?”

I turned back. The next voice I heard was colder, though with none of the frigidness directed toward me. “Make sure that bitch pays for everything she's broken.”

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Shayera Jendob
Moff


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 Post Posted: Thu, December 29th 2011 12:40am    Post subject:
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I watched as the high-speed mag-lev rumbled back down the permacrete tunnel. I shook my head mentally at the waste Disra had committed... and yet how useful it was in these troubles times. It ran directly from a small terminus in the palace to the secluded stop here, at Headquarters. And nowhere else. Several kilometers distance, just so one decrepit old bastard could ride to work in sickeningly posh comfort.

It seemed to be a running theme with Disra. Too much overstuffed, tasteless, gaudy garbage. And the worst part was that removing it from our new residence... and office... and personal karking commuter train wasn't feasible, due to every credit needing to go to the war effort. And it wasn't even the first ride I'd taken on it before coming in this morning. No, that had been two days before, when Ams dragged me in front of the Moff Council—Oh, come on. That's not fair to him.

Then again, it is accurate. He did pretty much drag you in front of them, declared you Her Imperial Majesty, Empress Shayera the First.
Contrary to everything I'd read as a kid about becoming a monarch, it bordered on humiliating. The upside was that it pissed off the Council almost as much as it bothered me. And watching those pompous bastards get slapped down into their place was pleasant. And you knew it was coming at some point after all that jabber about it the first night in the Palace.

But knowledge aforethought didn't make it—Did I just think “aforethought”? Gods—better. And the clunky address... I supposed it was technically accurate and proper; a reigning monarch was always “Majesty,” and for an emperor or empress—pre-Palpatine anyway—it was always “His/Her/Your Imperial Majesty.” And I still felt like a damned fool at historical reenactment with every oh-so-formal salute.

I suppressed a bitter chuckle. Here I was, a coregnant Empress for a whole fifty-four hours (and Empress Consort for eight days before that) and already griping about how much it sucked. Ysanne Isard would've settled for being a head in a glass jar to have the title and authority I was sneering at. Natasi Daala probably would've let them cut her down to just a brain with a droid's vocoder. Daara Zend... well, she seemed to be willing to slaughter trillions for the “honor.” Unfortunately, she wasn't to where I could put her motivations in the past tense.

Yet, Shayera. Yet. We'll get her. But that was a cold comfort to the families of the troops at Muunilinst, Bilbringi, and (according to the newest Intelligence reports that I now got to see officially) Bakura. I knew the same thoughts echoed through Ams' mind, perhaps even more personally; I'd lost friends and colleagues in the war, but his parents were killed when some jumped-up revolutionaries—under the Rebel flag—murdered them and half of their neighborhood on the eve of the formal end of the war. I'd met his parents while on leave, after we'd gotten engaged. They couldn't attend their son's wedding—Captain Jendob had his own duty station and taking leave to a battlecruiser in a combat zone for personal reasons wasn't going to happen—but we'd gotten better acquainted during the first few years of our marriage. They'd even met their grandchildren. And then they were butchered for a single uniform hanging in the closet of a retired officer.

Such cheerful thoughts on my anniversary, I grumbled to myself as the train slowed to a rest. It had a been a long day. Obviously, taking a day off ruling an Empire under siege would have just been a bad idea all around. And with great power and a decent benefits package came long hours and increased assassination risk. A brief snippet of Ams' borderline-silly coronation ceremony played through my mind: Grand Moff Siralt had leaned toward Ams, apparently asking him if he was ready to accept the responsibility for the job... then told him he didn't believe Ams was ready, which made him ready all the more. From my current angle, I would've phrased it a bit differently: anyone who wants the job is not sane and grounded enough to do it. Or, the old policeman's axiom I'd picked up from my father, “Anyone who loves a job like this is not doing it right.”

I went over my mental checklist one last time, then boarded the train. I sat down in the almost sickeningly plush chair. I supposed the one upside to Ams' formalizing everything about my... Empresshood? Empressship? Whatever. was that I did keep busy instead of staring at the walls or worse, getting bombarded with renovation and redecoration ideas from Niles and his new army of minions. Not that I didn't think the place needed to be expunged of Disra's lack of taste... but we needed Star Destroyers and blaster rifles more than wallpaper. I just hoped we wouldn't have to play host to any intergalactic “We Hate Daara Zend” conferences until the place looked less like one of Palpatine's vacation resorts.

With only the slightest feeling of acceleration, the mag-lev began cruising down the tunnel. Five minutes to the Palace. Five minutes until I could go up a couple dozen floors, the area that was essentially my new home, and maybe... just maybe, Ams and I could have a moment or two to celebrate our anniversary. Was it so much to ask?
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