The Empress’ face appeared on the holoemitter. It lay in a giant room dedicated to reports through the new Governor of the Xen Imperial Protectorate; Commander Shrain, Head of Internal Security in the Imperial Scholae Empire. Upon seeing the Empress, he bowed on a slightly raised platform, denoting his importance above others, but never the Empress.
“Hail Shadow!” he spoke to the ground.
“Rise, Commander,” cackled the voice projectors from the emitter.
“Of course,” responded the portly Chiss.
“Report on the Protectorate,” she commanded.
“Yes, Mistress Tyrant,” he spoke of one of the many titles afforded to the Empress, “The Meraxis Provisional Government denies the existence of any Adoniram resistance. They are certainly angry at our existence, but we’ve come to an understanding.”
“Mutual?” questioned the Empress.
“Certainly.” A drop of sweat beaded near his brow. He always feared the Empress. Ever since The Insidious Event, when rogue agents of the old Emperor Palpatine tried to take the Scholae Palatinae over, Shrain consistently feared the woman.
He continued, “They now welcome our presence. They hope that we can help them transform into…something else…”
“What ‘else’ do they mean?” she inquired.
“They certainly fear us, but in many of these situations governments form into democracies. We clearly don’t want that. In fact, our Empire is closer to the old Meraxis than the new one. So they are entering into an existential crisis. And they fear that this crippling identity may show them as weak to the other…”
The Empress interrupted Shrain, “They are weak. They need us. They need not worry about defense for now. All they need to do is continue being useful to us.”
“They question the afterwards of that usefulness,” Shrain pursed his lips following those words.
The Empress smiled. “Their transition is slow. They will continue for the time being. They will always be welcome in our fold. Now…what of the Republic of the Force intel?”
“The Meraxis don’t know anything,” started Shrain again, “They know Adoniram wanted to pursue their destruction. However, they never knew the full strength of the leader himself. I’m sure if they knew the ease of which he was killed, then they would have attacked.”
“Another failing of their Empire.” The Empress paused. The Imperial Scholae Empire had had many failings recently as well. “Unlike them,” she continued, “we will overcome ours. You will be a part of that plan, as you were during the Insidious Event.”
“Of course, Empress,” Shrain responded.
The Empress stepped off the emitter and turned back towards her throne. She noticed Mauro Wynter, her Proconsul and Grand Admiral, standing beside it looking up at all the old paintings of past Emperors and Empresses. He noticed a brown haired figure with azure blue eyes.
“Braecen,” he mumbled under his breath.
He looked over, seemingly not recognizing some of the people.
Xen’s picture looked regal and happy, while Elincia’s was dark and mischievous.
The Empress let him continue just for a bit.
“Why keep a picture of Elincia up? The Disgrace? That’s her title. Why not take it down?” Mauro questioned.
The Empress chuckled, “As a reminder. The Meraxis Empire was defeated. Elincia went down before it, and with it. Those who oppose the Clan will also be among those reminders. Whether they’re in the Shadow Clan, Arcona; the Light Side Clan, Odan-Urr; or even the Mandos and blood merchants in Vizsla.”
Mauro chuckled, “I used to be among those Mandos and merchants, although I’d much rather sell my soul to a rancor than go back there.”
“No offense intended to you. Elincia will always be remembered as a traitor. But they were still an Empress. They commanded the respect of this position, as do I. One day I will be on that wall. Just not as a disgrace. However, we have more important matters of discussion…”
The Empress awaited Mauro’s reports.
“Dek is working TRF people on Seraph. The little Sullustan’s got his hands full, chasing every lead, squirming his way into every event and meeting to see it all first hand.”
The Empress held up her hand, “On that subject, I’d caution you against keeping things from Dek. He has an insatiable hunger of removing information from people who don’t give it up freely. Even if he ends up hurting himself in the process.”
Mauro smiled, “I’ve read the reports on him. I have a few rare books up my sleeve just in case the time arises. Like feeding a terentatek a light sider.”
The Empress smiled, “Go on, Grand Admiral.”
Wynter nodded, “Xantros is working with the Clan members to align things here on Ragnath. They’ve come across some…interesting…information.”
“And?” The Empress became excited for the information.
“The Republic of the Force is not as united as it seems. There is an old splinter group that the government so far has been able to keep under wraps; the Wards of the Force.”
The Empress and Mauro both shared a delighted smile.
Mauro continued, “They may, and that’s the key word here, may be responsible for the death.”
“And our involvement?”
“Let’s just say that the splinter group has a knack for laying blame and not taking responsibility.”
They both chuckled to each other.
“Get your hands off of me, darksider!”
“No,” responded the Sullustan.
The priest reached for a lightsaber and drew it through the air. Dek ignited his green saber and swished it into two pieces.
“My saber!” Yelled the priest.
“That’s not the only saber you’ll lose if you don’t tell me who has it out for the Scholaean Empire.”
“Are you Meraxis?! Everyone secretly hates you! Minus the Provisional Government, who has sworn fealty out of absolute fear!”
“Which leads to anger, hate, and suffering, am I right?”
“Was…that a joke?” trembled the priest.
“I am incapable of any feat of humor. Ask the Nayaman Queen or the President of Elaya.”
“I won’t surrender my knowledge!”
“You don’t have a choice,” Dek said as he disengaged his lightsaber and lifted his hands.
The hooded figure walked through the market. Their inquisitorious commlink sputtered a beep. The figure crept through the crowd of figures, brushing shoulders and moving sideways through close people. They found an alleyway and pressed open the commlink. A Duros appeared on a small holoemitter.
“We have further intel from our operatives in the field. Cluster A will report to Ragnath. Cluster B will report to Seraph. Await further orders. Sending information about a new group; Wards of the Force. Xantros out.”
Xantros stepped off the emitter and entered into immediate communication with the Empress, “Lord Tyrant, we some troubling news about this Wards of the Force group. They are blaming us for the assassination of the leader while claiming they are the ones that need to take power in this time of need.”
The Empress responded, “Of course…we have much to do. This cannot stand. Find out where they are, who they are, and how we can take them down.”
“I’m on it. Operatives are being sent to Seraph and Ragnath’s TRF regions as we speak. We will be utilizing every one of our resources.”
“Anything else?” Shadow inquired.
“I believe Dek is still in the process of interrogating a high up Force Priest.”
“One of the ones that deal judgment in their Force user religion?”
“Yes. Dek believes he can get more information.”
“Thank you, Xantros! This information is highly valuable!”
“I’ll keep you updated hourly. We must prepare for an event in which we are a next target.” Xantros spoke.
The Empress smiled, “Mauro is on it. Plus, we another have asset incoming. Someone valuable.”
“I’m intrigued! Can’t wait to see who.”
“Keep my updated Xantros!”
“For the Empress and the Empire!” The Duros shouted.
Fiction – Very Important Pilot: Help transport a VIP out of the TRF and into CSP territory!
GFX – Propaganda Worth Laughing For: Design a poor representation of the Wards of the Force logo! Best worst logo wins!
Flash – Splinter Point: Evade patrols with these shapes! Flash it up!
Trivia – Students of the Lightside: Test your knowledge in the light side of the Force.
Encryption – Clan Code: Crack to code for us all!
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