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Subject: A noble sacrifice rss

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Subudai (Pete) Khan
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I have never gotten used to the monotonous, crushing routine that life on an evaporative farm in a desert outer world system entails. Never! No sooner have you finished one round of repairs to evaporative towers corroded by the blasting sands whipped up by the turbulence generated from our twin stars, then you find yourself once again having to repeat the repair cycle all over again. There is nothing you can do as you bike hop from one tower to the next except day-dream, wishing it was you, far away, having endless adventures.

I was on Tatooine when the rebellion began. The imperial holonet made much of the loyalty of Mandalore, Rodia, Corellia and Coruscant in those troubled early days. A visiting components salesman, who had access to traders at the spaceport of Mos Eisley, informed us that imperial garrisons had also secured the subjugation of Sullust and Mygeeto. From that same salesman my uncle learnt what the empire was not telling us; that Mon Calamari, Kashyyyk and Ryloth had all openly rebelled against the yoke of imperial tyranny, declaring their loyalty to the rebel cause. We may have been living on the outer rim of the galaxy, but I remember then, as we gathered each evening at the dinner table, that we were all quietly hopeful the rebels would succeed. The imperial system of quota’s and enforced labour made us virtual slaves on our own farm. I wanted nothing more than to escape the monotony and the heat.

I was lucky my electronics apprenticeship began that summer. For three days of what passed as our week I could visit Mos Eisley. There, amidst the bustle of the ‘big city’, I eagerly gobbled up any news of what was happening throughout the galaxy. The imperial holonet constantly bombarded us with propaganda that trumpeted ongoing imperial success. Images of the emperor were broadcast showing him at rebel Kashyyyk. I later learnt he had been ‘gathering intelligence’, but the public message was that all was well on the wookie world; the hairy beasts supposedly remained loyal followers of the empire (they were not; they were adamantly pro-rebel). Other images showed legions of imperial ground forces, under cover of immense star fleets, subjugating the worlds of Mandalore and Naboo. When Lord Vader captured Princess Leia after she sabotaged the manufacturing facilities at Mandalore, I thought then that perhaps the rebellion was over.

It was my friend, Luke Skywalker, who gave me hope. He seemed to know so much more than most. He told me that Mon Mothma, president of the rebel senate, had convinced the citizens of Utupau to join the rebel alliance. Apparently this meant that the rebels were now capable of developing a large space fleet themselves. If that was true, it was unlikely that the empire’s claims that the rebellion would soon be over could be believed. But it was so hard to know what were the facts; nor did it help the time pass any quicker. Soon a new year was upon us.

The rebellion continued. I visited a bar near the spaceport one day with Luke, both of us skipping a lecture on welding techniques to sneak in on fake id’s. At a gloomy corner table I eagerly eavesdropped on a conversation between two spice pilots. I learnt then that someone by the name of Lando Calrissian had led a rebel fleet from Utupau to Geonosis and then Mon Mothma herself had arrived in the system, her gift with words and the display of rebel strength enough to convince Geonosis that it too should join the rebel ranks. Geonosis; why, it was a world just adjacent our own system. For weeks after our bar hop I imagined myself in uniform, blaster in hand, fighting bravely against the white-suited storm trooper henchmen of the empire. The reality, of course, was far different.

As my studies continued, I often wondered about Princess Leia. I heard nothing substantive, but Luke later told me that Lord Vader and General Tagge had tried to carbon freeze the poor woman. She must have been made of stern stuff, however, as apparently their attempt failed. New images of the emperor, this time at Utupau, were broadcast; but again, Luke told me he was ‘gathering intelligence’, not conquering any systems. I hoped he was right, because there was no denying the reality of the images broadcast on the holonet that year from Kashyyyk. Grand Moff Tarkin subjugated the poor wookies in that system with a brutality few had ever witnessed so openly before.

That third year we were still another year short of finishing our course. Time for me dragged ever slower. I was also quite despondent, never more so than when fresh images were broadcast on the imperial holonet, images of imperial forces from Naboo and Rodia subjugating Geonosis. Again and again we ‘loyal’ subjects were forced to endure endless shots of a major space battle displaying hundreds of pictures of rebel Y-Wing fighters exploding or being shot down. Other images showed thousands of rebel troopers being slaughtered by the armoured legions of imperial troops Tarkin employed to crush the spirit of new-found separatism at that system. When Janus Greeatus then arrived and instituted ‘rule by fear’, Geonosis bent to the emperor’s iron will, declaring its loyalty to the imperial fold.

With such news, one might have thought the rebellion doomed. It was lucky that the editor of our local news service one day committed a dreadful mistake. He printed a story that explained an ‘independent operation’ by Lando Calrissian at Naboo. Apparently the entire imperial ground force evacuated the system to neighbouring Rodia, panicked at rumour of plague. As a consequence of their withdrawal, Naboo itself declared it was now neutral. We students laughed ourselves silly at such ineptitude. Unfortunately, for his ‘error’, our editor was later executed by the imperial police. But nothing imperial authorities could do could keep news of what happened next from reaching us; Mon Mothma ‘incited rebellion’ at Sullust. The entire imperial garrison was annihilated! The system itself then declared its neutrality. At our college we students were elated.

But the event for me that finally determined my destiny was the news Leia had escaped. Apparently Ben Kenobi, a recent resident of Tatooine, had been a rebel agent. He infiltrated the imperial prison at Mandalore, then, making a ‘noble sacrifice’, engineered Leia’s escape by allowing himself to be captured, losing his life in the process. Public sympathy for the manner in which Ben Kenobi engineered her escape was considerable. Rebel reputation drew down to 12 points, whilst civil disquiet now stood at 3 points. Something I later learnt in a new role was that Ben’s timing was masterful. The emperor and Colonel Yularen had both been enroute to Mandalore, hoping to interrogate Leia in her detention cell. Her escape scuppered such evil ambition. No other event that year could have inspired me more. Somehow, some way, I had to get off Tatooine and join the ranks of the rebellion. If only there was some way off this cursed hot rock; one that would not leave my uncle short-handed on the farm.

So here I was, in my fourth and final year of technical studies, when the most tumultuous events unfolded. It began with what I thought was tremendous news for the rebel alliance; General Reeikan led a hidden rebel fleet with ground forces to the neutral system of Mustafar. This was followed by word that, once again, Mon Mothma had managed to ‘build an alliance’ with the citizens of that molten world, they too declaring their willingness to be loyal to the rebel alliance. I then became absolutely euphoric when word reached us via the backnet that Leia and Lando had managed a ‘rogue squadron raid’ at Corellia, an operation that blew up an imperial star destroyer halfway through its assembly at that great system.

Imperial pronouncements, of course, sought to give the impression that all was in order. There was much coverage of the subjugation of Utupau by imperial forces led by Admiral Piett. The images of the emperor personally overseeing the subjugation of Kashyyyk - after it enjoyed brief period of neutrality - were truly horrific and disturbing. But the event that stunned us all were images of firstly Moff Tarkin christening the laying down of a super star destroyer at Corellia, then, within weeks, a second announcement showing General Tagge officiating at a christening ceremony for a second of these monster vessels. We were stunned and a little in awe. Two super star destroyers! At that moment I was genuinely despondent. How could the rebel alliance fight back against such firepower? Nor was I alone in my feelings; public sympathy for the rebel cause stalled that year at 12 points.

I graduated from my college at year’s end, but I could not face a career back on the farm whilst I knew there was a full-blown civil war raging in the galaxy. Whilst my friend Luke seeming went meekly back to his uncle’s farm, fortunately for me, early in the next year my uncle compromised. Although still committed to three days a week of farm work, I began assignment the fifth year of the rebellion as a technician at the Mos Eisley spaceport. Now I had my ear to all manner of gossip. The first I heard was that Han Solo had travelled to Kashyyyk, there to recruit ‘an old friend’. Around the same time, General Reeikan had led a commando team to Saleucami, where he sabotaged the ATST manufacturing plant; but apparently the empire simply abandoned the now ravaged world and, under Admiral Piett, the forces formerly at Saleucami brutally took to subjugating adjacent Mon Calamari. That battle was a disaster for the rebel cause. Many a day the imperial holonet replayed images of the rebel Mon Calamari Class cruiser ‘Grand Republic’ exploding above the system. Jan Dadonna, the rebel commander, apparently withdrew what was left of the rebel forces to the Felucia system.

Luckily, the rebel alliance did not sit back idle.

In the midst of this bad news, the rebels struck back. Han Solo and General Madine led a commando operation to Kashyyyk, their ‘hit and run’ tactics over successive weeks so successful they destroyed the storm trooper and Tie fighter detachments the emperor had considered sufficient to hold this great system. Imperial authority collapsed and the wookies declared their neutrality again. As for our backwater region of the galaxy, at first I thought that not much would happen, but I had not reckoned on Lando Calrissian hatching a ‘contingency plan’. At Geonosis the empire was rocked to its core when a second ‘hit and run’ operation again annihilated the subjugating imperial garrison. Another formerly subjugated imperial system now declared its neutrality!

In the Bespin sector then unfolded the most significant military event of that fifth year; Leia Organa led a brave rebel attack from adjacent Mustafar. Fiercely opposed by the wily Grand Moff Tarkin, what unfolded was one of the most brutal battles of the war. Leia’s space forces lost all of their accompanying rebel fighter squadrons wiping out the two squadrons of Tie fighters defending the system. The ground battle lasted a mammoth four rounds and saw the slaughter of half the invading rebel troops before the system was finally cleared of its subjugating imperial garrison. It was a ‘crippling blow’ for the empire, one that moved public regard for rebel reputation forward from 12 to 11 points. Mon Mothma then arrived and ‘built an alliance’ with the Bespin’s, this system now joining with adjacent Mustafar in a block of rebel support. At years end, as Mothma announced that there was ‘regional support’ for the rebel alliance, public regard for rebel reputation was enhanced to the point it now drew down from 11 to 10 points. Public discontent for the empire was about to climb to 7 points.

I thought the alliance’s victory at Bespin would be the crowning moment of rebel achievement in that long civil war. Perhaps it was, but nothing prepared me emotionally for what transpired at the end of the fighting on Bespin. In the midst of the chaos and carnage, Lord Vader and Soontir Fel conspired to enter the system, offering a reward to the treacherous Bespin authorities. Happy to ‘collect bounty’ from their imperial paymasters, Leia was captured for a second time. This time she was removed to imperial Corellia. Worse was to follow.

The emperor and Janus Greeatus, employing the most horrific torture, ‘lured to the dark side’ the body and soul of our poor princess. Her loss was a low point in the war for the rebels. At that moment Leia turned to the dark side, Obi Wan Kenobi was by then dead and Crix Madine was a prisoner. For me, that was a turning point. It was either stand up and be counted now, or forever live with the shame of my inability to do what was right. Soon after, I organised passage off-system to Nal Hutta, hoping there to find an inkling as to the location of the rebel alliance. Little could I know that virtually as soon as I arrived in system, Soontir Fel would coordinate a ‘scouting mission’ to Nal Hutta, blockading the world with two squadrons of Tie fighters.

Things for the alliance, however, were about to improve. Whilst many had forgotten Madine languishing in his prison on imperial Mygeeto, Han Solo and Jan Dadonna had not. That seventh year they put an end to the good general’s incarceration with a ‘daring rescue’. Perhaps because they resented the imperial blockade, Nal Hutta was especially receptive to Mon Mothma when she arrived and suggested the Hutt ‘build alliance’ with the rebel cause. The system declared its loyalty to the rebel alliance. To say I was happy about my decision to leave Tatooine and journey to the Hutt world is an understatement; ecstatic about my new-found good luck, I even managed to get signed up for rebel fighter pilot training (my technical training at Tatooine had proved useful after all).

Meanwhile, a desperate empire reverted to form. Utilising the star destroyer ‘Iron Hammer’, Moff Tarkin subjugated the world of Ord Mantell. General Tagge led the star destroyers ‘Emperor’s Judgement’ and ‘Imperial Might’ from Mon Calamari to Felucia, subjugating this system and vaporising the rebel Corellian Class corvette ‘Protector’ as she tried to stall the invasion. Lord Vader, utilising the star destroyer ‘Emperor’s Justice’ as his flagship, abandoned the imperial outposts at Utupau and Naboo, concentrating a powerful imperial fleet and large ground forces at Dagobah (convinced, we later learnt, that recent rebel activity in the region meant that Hoth was the secret rebel base). At year’s end, the super star destroyer ‘Dark Night’ joined the forces of Moff Tarkin at Ord Mantell (to explore remote systems further out near Dantooine), whilst Lord Vader himself strode aboard the super star destroyer ‘Eclipse’ at recently subjugated Sullust.

It mattered little. Public regard for rebel reputation, seeing some eight worlds now loyal to the rebel cause, saw ‘popular support’ for the alliance improve from 10 to 9 points. At the same time, discontent with the empire had risen to eight points. Although the following year the empire concentrated significant forces at Mygeeto for operations in distant Dantooine, even later subjugating both Bespin and Mustafar, the rebel alliance avoided any major battles, in the east drawing back their forces on Hoth whilst convincing, via diplomacy, Cato Neimoidia join the rebel fold. Throughout this period, the rebel base maintained its secret location at blockaded Nal Hutta.

We had won the public affairs victory, managing that ninth year to see public anger with the empire draw level with regard for rebel reputation. The stage was set for a new round of galactic conflict!
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