Chapter 35: "I would hope so, Captain. For your sake."

37 4 5
                                                  

"Rebel outrages in the Hosnian system have disrupted the galactic HoloNet. Disinformation is rife. The order that the Emperor established is the only stability that can keep the galaxy united. We must not believe the sedition that is on every street corner! There is no alternative to Imperial government and the united force of the Imperial fleet. Order is what is needed! Order is what I, as Grand Vizier Mas Amedda, shall provide. I have dutifully served both the Republic and the Empire since before the Clone Wars. I AM order!"

Captain Pina watched the transmission from Coruscant for the third time. The heavy-set figure of Mas Amedda, bellowing from his podium of office, did little to reassure him.

A quick look around the faces of his senior officers showed that their thoughts were similar.

Lieutenant Janus, the weapons officer, stared at the transmission with open hostility.

"Amedda says nothing about the Emperor," she said. "Nothing about Endor." Her green eyes fell on Pina, unblinking. "I imagine he's playing it safe. If the Emperor is really dead then Amedda's position is clear. If he turns out to be alive then he can't be accused of treason."

Lieutenant Cody cleared his throat before he spoke. He was a nervous man and that annoyed Pina for someone in his position as navigation officer aboard the Reaver.

"The Hosnian system was attacked though," Cody said. "The Terrify got a broadcast out on an Imperial coded frequency that confirmed the HoloNet relay was sabotaged by a bombing. They are trying to get it repaired but fear it might take several weeks. They have informed all Imperial units in this quadrant that HoloNet access will only be available for the next few hours as auxiliary power is used up to keep the channel open. After that, it will be intermittent until the repairs are complete."

Silence fell over the table in the captain's meeting room. Pina felt the attention of his senior officers fall on him. He looked up to see the other faces waiting, expectedly, for him to lead. Several weeks without access to the HoloNet! They may as well be deep in the Unknown Regions!

"Then we must use the HoloNet whilst we still can. Lieutenant Cody, inform Lieutenant Ord to send a signal to Admiral Sloane, stating our intent to re-supply and to keep control in this sector, especially of its vital infrastructure. Repeat the signal to Fleet Command. See if you can clarify what really happened over Endor as well."

He turned to the Reaver's pursuer, the officer in charge of the management of the ship.

"Colonel Farn, what is the mood of the ship?"

The large man cast a sideways look at his neighbour, the officer for Internal Affairs. It was a question that both men would have answers to.

Farn spoke.

"The general belief is that it is rebel propaganda, sir. Their confidence is shaken though." The able older officer anticipated Pina's next question before he had to ask. "There has been very little trouble over it, I might add. I have taken steps to ensure that guards are doubled and, in light of Admiral Karion's orders, and your own, we do operate on a war readiness basis. That gives them all something to think about. With Colonel Idris still on leave in the Core then his deputy has taken over command of the Imperial Army units that are aboard. He is confident that discipline will be maintained."

The man next to Farn turned his attention to Pina. Captain Vieka was a short, small man, with a hooked nose and dark eyes. His uniform was, as always, immaculate. Around his presence was an air of menace, broadcast from his insignia as an operative of the Imperial Security Bureau.

"I have been monitoring internal ship communications," Vieka began. "The ISB does this on a regular basis, as you are all, no doubt, aware. There have been a few opinions expressed that I will pursue further, but nothing that, given the situation, is in any way remarkable."

"That is encouraging," Pina said. "Colonel Farn, I would ask that you prepare a contingency plan for updating the crew should the news of the Emperor's demise . . ." his eyes met Vieka, "prove to be true. Th–"

"That must not be permitted!" Vieka snapped. "To issue such a command is tantamount to treason, Captain Pina."

"I am in charge of an Imperial Star Destroyer," Pina responded gently. "I have nearly fifty-thousand people serving under my direct command. They are my responsibility." He turned to Farn. "You will carry out my command. If the Emperor has fallen, then the crew will need to be informed in an appropriate way, to avoid any chaos aboard."

"I strongly urge you to reconsider, Captain," Vieka seethed. "I could have you removed, if you force my hand."

Pina paused briefly before speaking, keeping his cool. "I note your objection, but you are not in possession of the full facts." He turned to Janus. "Is your report ready?"

"Yes sir."

"Very well. Then the rest of you shall return to your duties. Captain Vieka, Lieutenant Janus, and myself shall remain here. I would urge you all to assist Commander Bauhaus and Commander Teleon in their investigation of the Reaver's inventory and operational status. We will arrive at the Syreal system within the hour. I want to be ready to re-supply as soon as we dock."

The meeting broke up. Pina felt the uncertain looks of his senior officers linger on him, aware of the tension between him and Vieka. Ships captains who defied the ISB did not often remain captains for long.

The room emptied, leaving the three officers alone.

"I am hopeful, Captain Vieka, that when we view Janus's report, we will both have a greater insight into what is really going on in the galaxy, and that you will better understand my position."

He motioned to Janus to begin her report on the wreckage of Neerada's ship.

Vieka gave him a cold glare.

"I would hope so, Captain," he said. "For your sake."

=================

If you enjoyed this, then please vote for it and leave a comment in the feedback section below.

This chapter is necessary to show the internal workings of such a large vessel and the many thousands of people who are aboard. It also demonstrates, with the presence of Vieka, how the dreaded Imperial Security Bureau keep a watch over everyone aboard and monitor them for non-compliance. Dictatorships all over the world have had these types of structures within them: from the Stasi in East Germany in the Cold War to the likes of Smersh and the Cheka in the USSR, and even going back into history to enforce the absolute rule of monarchy. These elements, just like Captain Vieka, have enormous powers and are rightly feared by those who could find themselves on the wrong side of them. So whilst they encourage 'loyalty' they might also hinder initiative, risk taking, and the ability of organisations to adopt new ways of doing things as people don't want to appear to stand out. In my version of the Star Wars world, this is one reason why Imperial commanders are usually inept.

Star Wars: Heir to the Sith (Part 1) (#Wattys2018 shortlist)Where stories live. Discover now