Star Wars Infinities: The Master
By: Christopher W. Blaine
DISCLAIMER: All of the characters and situations contained in this story are ©2004 by LucasFilm Ltd. They are used here without permission for fan-related entertainment purposes only. This original story is ©2004 by Christopher W. Blaine.
The former mansion of Grand Moff Tarkin on Corellia, a building that the owner never occupied, was the center of attention as dignitaries from around the galaxy gathered to usher in a new era of galactic power. Species from worlds of every government, Imperial, Republic, Hapan and many others mingled under the watchful eye of Baron Fel's CorSec officers. No outlandish behavior, no insults or derogatory statements would be tolerated on this special day.
"I have to say," Xizor said as he sipped from his wine glass, "that you managed to outwit all of us," he said in toast to his companion. Warlord Thrawn accepted the compliment without comment and instead nursed his own glass as the Falleen continued. "You reduced the Confederacy to nothing more than a dictatorship over Sullust and managed to cost the New Republic a fifth of her offensive forces."
"Which I understand that you have begun filling quite nicely with newer members of the Republic," Thrawn replied. "Within a month or so, the border flare-ups will die down, sides will be chosen…systems will change hands, but at least there will be defined borders."
"For the most part," Xizor agreed. "Though there will be some trouble spots."
"If it is more than your Republic can handle, then please do not hesitate to contact me," Thrawn joked. A human officer, his uniform indicating he was a lower admiral, stepped up. "Ah, Admiral Palleon, allow me to introduce General Xizor of New Republic Intelligence."
"A pleasure," Palleon said and Xizor noted that there was genuine appreciation in his voice. No doubt this was someone who enjoyed a worthy adversary, or perhaps he simply was a nice person. A nice person in the Imperial Navy? That was a laughable thought indeed.
They made small talk but Xizor's mind was on too many other things to pay too much attention to the mundane details. Thrawn's defeat of Daala and the turn over of the Corellian System to Garm Bel Iblis had completely altered perceptions throughout the galaxy. It was true that borders were even now changing as many joined the Empire out of fear, while others ran to the New Republic for safety. The loss of the Corellians and the Chandrillans had been bad enough, but the Mon Cals were also leaving, one ship at a time, to return to their world, which remained an Imperial protectorate.
Thrawn's plan had been perfect with the exception of a few wrinkles. One of them had been Luke Skywalker. His actions nearly caused the Corporate Sector Authority to declare war on the Empire at a critical juncture. Only Thrawn's considerable political clout and seemingly never-ending purse kept the CSA from plunging the galaxy into all-out war. Even now it was said that the CSA was fighting several rebellions on their worlds, rumor stating that Thrawn's victory over the Death Star had convinced many that "might makes right".
The Confederacy was dead, reduced to only one world, Sullust, which was guarded by a large fleet under the command of Moff Katarn, Daala's former lover and aide. Already agents from many interstellar governments were courting him, hoping to get his fleet onto their side. The balance of power had shifted dramatically; the Empire now had a fleet that rivaled the CSA while the New Republic was scrounging to find anything space worthy that could fight.
Imperial forces were lined up on the New Republic borders, awaiting the call to charge into battle and there was really nothing that could be done about it. The New Republic was short on capital class vessels, especially with the Mon Cals defecting to the New Order. Xizor's spies had been searching for possible "graveyards" of Imperial vessels (all of the New Republic ones had been raided), but they had found nothing. It appeared that Thrawn was most likely putting together an armada to stab at the heart of the New Republic, Tatooine.
Then there was the Jedi problem.
"Quite a coup for you, Xizor," Thrawn said, changing the subject, "snatching up Fresca Isaard like that," the Warlord politely said.
"A fair trade; you received one of our Jedi," Xizor countered.
"But what would you rather have at your side in a battle? A dark Jedi or a failed intelligence officer?" Thrawn chuckled. "I will gladly always accept a trade like that."
"Is it true Bel Iblis again offered you a position in his government?" Xizor asked.
Palleon paled at the thought, but Thrawn paid him no mind. "Yes, but I have also received an offer from the Hapans which is much more promising." He then turned to Palleon. "Don't worry, Admiral, I will always remain true to the Empire."
The human did seem to take the news to heart and a smile crossed his face. "I understand that Baron Fel is pushing for the Corellian Parliament to put an arrest warrant out for Padme Amidala," he offered up as a way to change the subject. The other two nodded and spoke at length about the legalities involved. Xizor leaned in. "I would have thought that Luke Skywalker would have demanded that the Corellians stay away from his mother; after all they are your ally."
There was a pause and Thrawn finished his drink and then set it down on an empty table. "I wish I could say that the Corellians were our allies, but that small portion of my plan did not work out as I had hoped. " He turned to Palleon and whispered something to him. The admiral nodded, excused himself and then hurried away. "I underestimated the desire of the humans to have their independence."
"Yes, well this galaxy has always been plagued by the human problem," Xizor commented with disgust. The statement caught Thrawn off guard, a rare occurrence if there ever was one. He politely pressured Xizor to elaborate. The Falleen only smiled. "I'm merely pointing out that maybe the galaxy needs to change a little more. Humans have always dominated, ever since their primate ancestors stepped out of the primordial soup."
Thrawn said nothing but instead listened, hearing the words that were not being said. Xizor had always been crafty; one did not become the head of a criminal organization like Black Sun without being so. He was a being always on the lookout for the next best thing, which explained his sudden defection to the New Republic. The Empire was prepared to bring Black Sun to heel, so Xizor joined the enemy and in the process integrated his criminal network into the Republic Intelligence directive.
Regis Organa was easily discounted; he was the consummate politician who had, though his inaction over the last several years, allowed Thrawn's plan to succeed. There was no doubt that the new Republic senate, made up of mostly alien species, would not hesitate to remove him from power and replace him with someone more to their tastes.
Someone like Xizor.
Thrawn allowed a small smile to cross his face. There could be no doubt that the Falleen prince had hoped for some sort of situation to arise that would discredit Regis and here Thrawn had handed it right to him. Certainly it was a chaotic situation, but if Xizor played his sabbac hand correctly, he could find himself in a very interesting position.
The two adversaries regarded each other for a few more moments. "I suppose I should get back to my delegation," Xizor said. He nodded his head over to several Wookie security agents. "My chaperones wouldn't want me to defect."
"I could always use a new cabin boy," Thrawn said in one of his rare jokes. Xizor laughed, more out of how odd it was to hear the Chiss warlord make the jest than the actual joke itself. With a final nod towards his foe, Xizor turned and made his way back to the other New Republic delegates. Very soon it was expected that Garm Bel Iblis would give a speech in which he would outline the political leanings of the new Corellian government.
Xizor had expected to see the Empire get a very important ally, but he could also see the beauty of having a buffer zone between the New Order and the Republic. It freed up forces and also provided a neutral area where some disputes could be mediated without conflict. The Empire might be ready to attack the New Republic, but it may not be ready to hold it. That required massive amounts of manpower that perhaps the New Order did not possess.
What everyone saw as a tactical victory could be nothing more than a way to stall for time. The possibilities were endless and to Xizor that was really the most beautiful part of Thrawn's plan: he had no idea what to expect. Silently he applauded the warlord and acknowledged that in this great battle, he had truly proven himself the master.
Dengar sat down next to the CorSec agent that had stood in the way of his perfect vantage point and listened as the last sounds of life escaped from the man's lungs. It was unfortunate, but necessary that he eliminate the sentry so that he could complete his mission. Despite the changes that had occurred on the planet over the last few weeks, nothing had altered the course of action the bounty hunter was supposed to take.
The first part of his mission had been rendered moot as soon as the Death Star had left the system. There was no need to find an officer and compel him to grant access to any New Republic agents. In fact, as soon as the battle station had left for its demise, all of Dengar's Republic contacts had left the planet. The ease by which they had managed to escape should have tipped the bounty hunter off that something was going on with Admiral Rose, but he had been to preoccupied with other things to worry about it.
Dengar, a Corellian, had to admit that even though his emotional responses were almost nil, he had felt something when it was announced that the government was changing hands. Maybe it was pride or excitement, and then again it could have been hate and revulsion. There was no way he could no, no way he could tell and he doubted he would ever experience the sensation again in order to study it further.
He opened the metallic case he had brought with him and set about assembling his sniper rifle. It was a special weapon, designed using a gas cylinder that produced a beam with no light in the visible spectrum. He could fire it all day long and nobody would know; only the end result would tell the story.
Down below him the ceremonies were beginning to start. It was odd, being up high above some of the most powerful persons in the galaxy. Imperial warlords and admirals sat across from their New Republic counterparts. Corporate Sector board members with their mercenary merchants worked the crowds, trying to drum up business from the Hapans and Dracmarians. Even some of the members of the small, yet wealthy Trading Guilds were in attendance, no doubt hoping to underwrite some of the repairs needed to the shipyards of Corellia.
What many people did not notice, Dengar thought to himself as he put the scope in place, was that there were some important groups not in attendance. The Drall and Selonians, species that dominated some of the other worlds of the Corellian System, had been completely wiped out by the Tarkinist's. Yet nobody cried out for them, which made Dengar realize that the faces within the government changed, but the underlying principles did not. He had no particular love for any of the extinct species, but he found it ironic that "freedom for Corellia" seemed to only mean for the humans.
His weapon assembled, Dengar took one last look around and then checked his slave control for his getaway speeder bike. Everything was in readiness. It was time to complete the second part of his mission.
Eliminate the leader of Corellia, so long as they were not representing the New Republic.
Garm Bel Iblis cleared his throat and turned to regard Wedge and Soontir, his closest aides and now his closest friends. Fel was now in charge of many agencies that were being stewed together into a single entity called the Intelligence, Security and Special Operations Directorate, or ISSOD. Through him law and order would be restored to the planet and to the shipyards above.
Wedge, on the other hand, was now Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces; the Corellian answer to Warlord Thrawn. It was a demanding position, but the starfighter pilot seemed up for the job. There would also be other postings as well, including a vice-president that had been sworn in, but not announced. Thracken Sal-Solo belonged to an older family with some less than scrupulous origins, but he was a conservative like Bel Iblis and he had also been on planet throughout the entire occupation. He had the respect of the common people and that was what he needed right now in this administration.
"Today marks a new beginning for not only Corellia and her sister planets, but hopefully the entire galaxy as well. We acknowledge the aid of many interplanetary governments in bringing our people to this point, but it is the people that must forge on from here. Corellia will not be beholden to any government, but we will work to be friends, allies and trade partners with anyone who is willing to extend the hand of friendship."
There was a brief round of applause, especially from the Trading Guilds and the Corporate Sector Authority. They welcomed any chance to make a few more credits. When the clapping died down, he continued. "For too many years, our galaxy has been ravaged by civil war. The reasons for the war now seem pointless, but the suffering they have caused is not. Too many of our friends and family have died in the name of ideals we can no longer remember. That is why I am hoping that we can forget the past and look only to the future. I know that there animosities among us that go back centuries, but I am hopeful, especially after seeing the generosity of Lord Ravage and Warlord Thrawn that…"
The pause seemed very out of place, but social niceties prevented anyone from saying anything for several moments. Many thought that Bel Iblis had lost his place or was collecting his thoughts and the shocked look on his face was almost comical. Then he started to fall over, a burning wound in his temple delivering the message that the president was dead.