Chapter 1: Mildly Aggressive Negotiations
In the three weeks since the destruction of both Alderaan and the Empire’s planet killing Death Star, the Rebel Alliance has been fleeing to all corners of the known galaxy, desperately attempting to evade the crushing grip of Imperial forces. Where Grand Moff Tarkin believed in rule by fear, now Emperor Palpatine has demanded complete submission or suffer annihilation.
Political leaders outwardly or suspected secretly of supporting the Rebel cause have been arrested and publicly executed following lengthy and thorough interrogations. More and more corporations believed to be supplying weapons and resources to the insurgents are being nationalized every day. Hope, if there ever was any for the Rebel Alliance, is quickly being extinguished.
Senator — or for a short time, former Senator — Bail Organa was killed along with 2 billion of his fellow citizens when Tarkin decided to test the full strength of the Death Star on his homeworld. Now Mon Mothma is the indisputable leader of the Rebel Alliance. Having abandoned Yavin IV, the former home of Rebel Alliance HQ, she has been coordinating both planetary attacks and evacuations onboard Admiral Ackbar’s Mon Calamari Cruiser Home One. She is joined in the main briefing room by her intelligence director, General Draven, and a newcomer to the Alliance, Carlist Rieekan.
Mon welcomed him with a warm smile, as she was known to do. “Carlist, I cannot tell you how devastated I have been since the…loss of your home. How are you?”
Carlist cleared his throat, and forced himself to return her smile. “As well as can be expected, Senator,” his voice clearly shaking. “I’m just sorry I couldn’t have done more for my people.”
Draven sat silently, his eyes continually shifting between his two compatriots. In conversations such as this, he was inclined to not say anything until something directly pertained to him. Until then, he preferred to read other’s faces and learn more about their motivations.
Mon moved to stand behind Carlist and laid a comforting hand on his shoulder. “First of all, I do not believe the title of Senator has suited me for some time,” she said in a mildly sarcastic tone. “In regard to your people, there is nothing you could have done to mitigate the Empire’s vile actions. However, you can still honor their memory by helping to destroy that which took so many innocent and beautiful lives.” She returned to the head of the table. “Carlist Rieekan, will you honor us and the good people of Alderaan by joining the Alliance to Restore the Republic?”
Rieekan stood proudly, straightening his uniform. “There would be no greater honor.”
“It is settled then. Effectively immediately, you will be commissioned as a General of the Alliance. Congratulations, General.”
General Rieekan’s smile was finally genuine. “Thank you.”
Draven stood at last, extending his arm to shake the hand of the newly appointed General. “Congratulations, General.”
“Thank you, General Draven,” he replied enthusiastically.
“Of course what Mon forgot to mention,” he said as he sat back down, “was that this was all my idea.”
Mon Mothma shot her eyes at him, but did not protest. “Well, as much as it pains me to agree with General Draven, for once he is correct. Now we must move on from these formalities. I am sure the two of you will adequately celebrate the occasion this evening in the ship’s cantina.” The two officers looked at each other and then nodded in approval. “Now however we must discuss our next maneuvers.” She activated her intercom. “Control, this is Mon Mothma. Please make a general announcement for Admiral Ackbar to report to the briefing room. Thank you.”
Draven pushed a button that brought up a holographic map of the galaxy. “While we wait for the Admiral, I will first discuss the status of our ground forces. In short: not good. Troops on those planets in open rebellion are mired in combat with Imperial forces. Losses thus far have been substantial.”
General Rieekan rubbed his chin, “I assume you are also still heavily involved in humanitarian efforts on those worlds and more.” The door slid open and Admiral Ackbar entered the room.
Mon greeted him, “Thank you arriving so quickly, Admiral. Please be seated.” She returned her focus to Rieekan. “Yes, General, where possible we are assisting in evacuations on worlds that have recently fallen under Imperial control. In the cases where the blockades have made such endeavors impossible, we have been smuggling in basic necessities such as food and medical supplies.”
The intelligence chief turned to his colleague, “Thus making any major land offensive implausible at the moment.”
Carlist thought for a moment. “You could withdraw from some of the outlying planets so we could centralize our forces-“
“Out of the question,” Mon snapped. “I will not risk the lives of billions for a pyrrhic victory.” Quickly redirecting, she added, “Admiral, if you would be so kind as to brief the status of our fleet.”
Admiral Ackbar rose. “Yes, ma’am. Good evening, everyone. Unfortunately we lost many good ships over Scarif. Darth Vader decimated the fleet of Admiral Raddus. We must be thankful that we even escaped with the Death Star plans.”
The rest of the room responded with a collective, “Hear, hear!”
“As with our ground forces, our fleet is currently too widely scattered to launch a major attack against the Empire. We may be able to attack smaller targets such as low output shipyards, but I fear our losses would be far too great to risk our ships and crews.”
“Then what do you all propose we do?” Rieekan exclaimed as he slammed his fists down on the briefing table. “The Alliance just won the greatest naval battle in galactic history, and now you all just want to climb under a rock? Surely Bail-“
“General, please,” Ackbar pleaded.
“No, Admiral I will not. My planet was just obliterated with no warning! If we do nothing, the Empire wins.”
“No, General,” Mon said calmly, “if we squabble amongst ourselves, only then will the Empire win. I stand here with three of the brightest minds in the galaxy; surely between all of us a successful strategy can be developed.”
Silence fell on the room. For the moment, all the brilliance that was in the room was being overshadowed by the colossal, if not impossible, task at hand.
“On Tatooine,” she continued, “they have a particular saying that suits our current situation very well. ‘When eating a bantha, a flea must simply take it one bite at a time.’”
“But right now that flea is getting stomped into a pulp,” Rieekan replied sardonically.
“I have an idea.” The whole room turned towards General Draven. “While it is true that we cannot yet afford to engage in any large scale maneuvers, smaller, more focused attacks on key targets throughout the Empire might spark the galaxy-wide rebellion we desperately need.”
“How is this any different from Saw Gerrera’s Partisans?” Ackbar inquired.
“I think perhaps Saw sometimes killed just for the sake of killing, Force bless his soul,” Mon said somberly. “What exactly are you proposing, General?”
“Shipyards like Kuat are impenetrable. The academies on Coruscant and other major systems are too heavily guarded. We need to hit low to medium value targets throughout the Empire. The Imperials will start to reallocate their forces accordingly so eventually we can hit the bigger targets.”
“What sort of ‘low to medium value targets’ are we talking about here, Davits?” Carlist said, suddenly using the General’s first name.
“Supply depots. Communications outposts. Refueling stations. Governors. Officers. Moffs.”
“Moffs?” Mon said, exasperated. “Come now, General. This truly does sound like Saw. I will not have marauders raging across the galaxy on behalf of our Alliance.”
“Oh, for once will you please drop the moral superiority? We are at war-“
“I will not,” Mon said definitively. “A just war is fought for a just cause, and equally by just means.”
“With all due respect, Mon,” Rieekan replied sharply, “tell that to the guy who just blew my entire planet.”
“I am sorry for your loss, Carlist. You know I am. But if we stoop to the Empire’s level, how can we possibly convince the galaxy that we are any better?”
“There is a middle ground,” Ackbar said, loudly enough to get the attention of all those debating in the room. “There is truth to what all you have said. Guerrilla warfare has proven highly effective in previous conflicts, but we must not allow ourselves to become simple terrorists.”
“And we cannot allow ourselves to become that which we wish to destroy,” Mon added.
“Therefore,” Ackbar continued, “I suggest we set up a strike force to hit those targets General Draven suggested, but those targets must be carefully selected. I recommend all targets be chosen by this council, specifically by Generals Draven, Rieekan and myself. Your Excellency will of course always have veto power.”
“And who shall lead this strike force?” Mon asked.
“I’ll do it,” General Rieekan said promptly.
“I do not think that would be prudent, General,” Mon replied. “You are new to our operations, and I plan to have you coordinating more of our large scale operations.”
“I understand. What about Garm Bel Iblis? This sort of thing seems to be right up his alley.”
Mon looked down for a moment, regretfully, and then once again lifted her head. “Suffice it to say our relationship has been less than amiable as of late. Perhaps one day he will come around.”
“This is my territory,” Draven said plainly.
“General, are you sure?” Mon asked with a highly concerned tone. “After what happened with Scarif-“
“After what happened with Scarif,” he paused for a brief moment, “I’ve never wanted to so badly to destroy the Empire. Besides, Mon, you know I’ve always exceled at morally questionable activities.”
“Maybe if you were a little less morally questionable, Alderaan might still be here,” Rieekan said venomously.
“I did my job. Well. The Death Star was destroyed with minimal casualties.”
“If you consider 2 billion ‘minimal,’ then I suppose you’re right. That was the most egregious intelligence failure in the history of the galaxy. And you wiped the Erso family from existence. From the reports I’ve read, that young woman would have made an excellent operative.”
Normally cool and collected, Draven could take no more. He leapt the table and grabbed Rieekan by the collar. Their faces were mere inches from each other. “I didn’t kill those people! The Empire did! Now I like you, Rieekan, but do believe me when I say I am the last person you want to cross.” He let go, and dusted off Rieekan’s uniform. He looked as if he was going to say more, but instead just gave Rieekan a courteous smile and returned to his seat.
“If you gentlemen are quite finished. General Draven I will agree to you coordinating these efforts, but I do not want you on the ground. I still need you here, coordinating the big picture. You will need to choose a squad commander.”
“Oh, I’ve got the perfect man in mind,” Draven said devilishly. He sneered at Mon.
“Oh no. Please do not tell me you are referring to our Kage…friend.”
Mon protested. “General! That man makes Saw Gerrera look like an Angel from the moons of Iego.”
“Then who better to strike fear into the hearts of the Empire? Palpatine himself will be shaking in his dusty old boots.”
Rieekan interjected, “Can someone please tell me who the hell we are talking about here?”
Draven grinned from ear to ear. “Ad Aileron.”