CHAPTER 41 - A NEW HOPE
It had been a long hard day's training. We trudged the last few yards through the snow and entered the barracks. We made our way along the durasteel corridors until we arrived at the armoury. As per standard protocol I ranged my blaster, before taking off the elongated white helmet of my snowtrooper armour. The trooper next to me did the same revealing his face.
"Corporal." The trooper said, nodding to me formally.
"Kann." I acknowledged him in return.
After putting on our off-duty jump-suits, the whole squad made its way to the mess to take the evening rations. I took my seat with the rest of the squad. As usual, I sat beside the durasteal wall on the periphery of the group. Kann sat opposite me. The other troopers commenced their usual conversation, mainly discussing their recent snow and ice combat training. Neither Kann nor I joined in the conversation. We just sat and ate in silence as we always did.
Three months have passed since I was transported off the Death Star. I was shipped to Coruscant where I received extensive medical treatment for my wounds. After my treatment was complete, I hoped to be assigned once again to the Death Star. I knew that it would be the centre point of the campaign to destroy the rebellion once and for all. I was anxious to contribute to the Emperor's final victory.
But I did not receive a posting to the Death Star. Instead, I was transferred to the training facility on Corulag where I was assigned to a squad of stormtroopers fresh out of the academy. It seemed only a matter of time until the Death Star would crush the rebellion once and for all. And I feared that I may never be called on to serve the Emperor in combat again.
But I was wrong.
After one month on Corulag, we received news that the Death Star had been destroyed. I learned with bitterness that it was one of the rebels who escaped with Leia Organa who sent the station to its doom. The rebel's name was Luke Skywalker.
I felt an intense hatred for Organa and Skywalker. Not only were they mass murderers who had caused the deaths of thousands of loyal imperial servants on the Death Star. But they had directly or indirectly caused the death of just about every stormtrooper who I had ever served with. I hoped that one day I would meet them again to avenge my fallen comrades...and regain my honour.
Of course, the news of the Death Star's destruction had no effect on stormtrooper moral. The emotional blockers in our rations saw to that. In fact, within a few days of the Death Star's destructions, the station was never mentioned again in official reports and memos. It was as if it had never existed.
But I knew it had existed. I was personally involved in some of the events leading up to its destruction. I soon learned that my participation in these events had not been forgotten by imperial authorities. Two days after the Death Star's destruction was announced, I was called into an office by two high ranking officers. They told me that I was prohibited from ever speaking of order 5551 or the events leading up to Organa's escape. High command obviously did not want the public to know that the destruction of the Death Star was precipitated by the Empire itself in allowing Leia Organa and her rebel henchmen to escape.
Not that I wanted to talk about it anyway. Although, I had obeyed my orders and completed the mission objective given to me, I felt great shame in having allowed Organa and Skywalker to escape. Although, I was not officially dishonoured, I felt a great sense of guilt for contributing to the deaths of so many loyal imperial servants...and for having survived.
I wondered why they just did not terminate me or even give me a brain wipe like they did to Skeen. Perhaps after the losses the Empire suffered, they were reluctant to dispose of or downgrade experienced stormtroopers. Or at least, not yet. Whatever, the reason, I was pleased to be able to serve the Empire further. Perhaps I would have a chance to atone for some of the shame and damage my actions had caused.
A few days after the destruction of the Death Star was announced, Kann was transferred to our unit and assigned to my squad. At first, I was pleased to see him as he was my last link to my old squad. We discussed the fate of our squad mates, without of course mentioning the details or objectives of our last mission.
Like me, Kann had been badly injured and was immediately transferred off the Death Star. We both knew that Dreyfus, Skeen, Mandala and Wark had died in the detention block. Kann also confirmed that Davos and Lonn had died in the docking bay. Neither of us knew what Timor's fate was. He was critically injured in the detention block, but we did not know what happened to him afterwards. We did not know if he was dead or alive.
And neither of us knew what had happened to Yalasa. She was still on the Death Star when I was transported off. We did not speculate about her fate, but I assumed she died along with the hundreds of thousands of other imperial servants in the destruction of the Death Star.
After the first couple of days, Kann and I did not speak much, except to discuss training exercises or orders. Seeing Kann each day was a bitter reminder of everything that I had lost, and of the guilt and shame I felt. It only increased the sense of bitter coldness which seemed to seep through my bones and freeze my very spirit. Kann was just as morose and reserved as I was. I was sure he felt the same way as I did.
After we finished eating, the squad left the mess and headed for the sleeping quarters. Half way there, an officer in the black uniform of a stormtrooper lieutenant intercepted me.
"Corporal, you shall accompany me immediately." He ordered.
"Yes, sir." I responded obediently and fell in behind him.
He led me to a small office and showed me in.
"You have 5 minutes." He said before closing the door behind me and leaving me alone in the room.
I found myself standing in front of a desk. There was a device used to play holo-messages on it. Above the device hovered a spinning holographic image of the imperial banner with the words 'Message for LC-9087' written in holographic letters across it.
I frowned. Stormtroopers never receive messages. I wondered if it might be a mistake, but rejected that idea immediately. The stormtrooper corps does not make such mistakes.
I pressed the play button and a small holographic figure in human form appeared above the device, replacing the imperial banner. I looked in shock as I realised it was an image of Yalasa.
She stood with her hands behind her back dressed in her black sergeant's uniform.
"Good day, Corporal." The image of Yalasa said. "I trust that the training of your new squad on Corulag is going well."
I looked at the image dumbfounded, not believing what I was seeing. I wondered how she could have possibly arranged to get the message to me, given the strict restrictions in the stormtrooper corps. My question was soon answered.
"I know that you will be surprised to receive this message from me. Lady Jentessa Batch insisted that I send it to you. Her associates ensured that it would be delivered."
Now it was clear to me who had sent the message and how they got it through to me. Lady Batch knew some of the highest ranking men in the imperial military. With such contacts, anything was possible.
"Lady Batch wished you to know that we escaped the Death Star just before it was destroyed." Yalasa continued. "We are now in another part of the galaxy far far way."
Yalasa paused for a moment. She looked down at the floor as if composing herself. Then she looked up once more and continued.
"We are living in dark times corporal. Many loyal soldiers of the Galactic Empire have perished in the last few months. We have both lost many good friends and colleagues in our fight to defeat this rebellion which threatens peace and order in the galaxy. But we must keep our faith. Faith in the Emperor, faith in the Galactic Empire, and most of all, faith in ourselves. We must not let the sacrifice of so many be in vain. We must all renew our resolve and determination. And with the fire of justice and vengeance burning fiercely in our hearts, we shall crush the rebellion and achieve final victory."
I nodded solemnly at Yalasa's wise words.
"I do not know if we shall meet again corporal. I truly hope so." For the first time since the message began, Yalasa smiled warmly. "But until then, I shall continue to serve the Emperor with every fibre of my being. And I know you shall do the same. Farewell, my friend. May you continue to serve the Emperor well."
The image of Yalasa disappeared and I found myself alone in the room. I tried to activate the message again, but the device would not work. The message could only be played once.
The door to the room opened behind me and the lieutenant stepped in.
"Corporal." Was all he said.
"Yes, sir." I nodded to him in acknowledgement and immediately left the room.
I walked through the durasteel corridors and entered the trooper sleeping quarters. I passed Kann who was sitting on his bunk reading something on his datapad. I was about to continue to my own bunk. But I decided to turn back. I knelt down beside Kann.
He looked at me expectantly without saying a word.
"I have good news, Kann." I whispered.
"Sergeant Yalasa is alive." I couldn't help smiling. "She escaped."
For a moment Kann looked at me with a frown on his forehead.
I put my hand on his shoulder. "She's alive." I smiled broadly.
Slowly a smile spread over his face. He patted me on the shoulder in return. For a moment, we just grinned at each other in silent glee. Then I stood up and turned to walk away.
"LC." Kann said behind me.
I turned to face him.
I smiled and nodded acknowledgement before turning and walking away towards my bunk.
I stood by the window beside my bunk and looked out on the snow and ice where we had trained earlier that day in our snowtrooper armour. But despite the wintry scene outside, I no longer felt the bitter cold in my bones which had plagued me for the last few weeks. My spirit was again warm and free.
I looked up at the clear star-filled night sky and reflected that Organa was out there somewhere with her band of vicious rebels and traitors. Thinking of Organa filled me with rage. To satisfy her insatiable lust for power, that evil corrupted woman had caused the deaths of billions of people and plunged the galaxy into war, chaos and misery. Only the noble forces of the Empire could stop her and her murderous band of fanatics and extremists.
As my eyes drifted across the snow and ice of the barren arctic wasteland of Corulag, I wondered where the Empire would eventually find Organa and her band of traitors. But whenever and wherever it was, I hoped to be part of the task force that would destroy them, avenging the losses they had caused the Galactic Empire...and myself.
There would be no escape for the rebels. The Death Star may be gone, but the Emperor still had his fleets and armies with which to hunt the rebel bases down and destroy them. No matter what the cost, no matter what the sacrifice, we would assault their bases and ruthlessly crush their resistance. The loss of the Death Star would not save the rebels and traitors from total defeat. It would only bring greater glory to the Empire and the Emperor at the moment of our final victory.
I remembered Yalasa's message, invoking me to keep my faith in the Emperor and the noble cause which he represents. And I recognised the truth in her words.
With Yalasa's words resounding in my head and a new faith burning within my heart, I vowed to dedicate myself anew to the Emperor's noble cause. To honourably serve the Emperor in life. To unquestioningly serve the Emperor in death. The Emperor's will shall be done and we imperial stormtroopers would be his vanguard. Just as we always have been. Nothing will stand in our way. Nothing will save the rebels when the Empire strikes back.
I am, and always, will be a loyal soldier of the Galactic Empire. I know that the Emperor's wisdom is absolute and infallible. And I know that our final victory is inevitable. It is only a matter of time until we bring lasting peace and order to the Galaxy under the Emperor's benevolent and benign guidance. The only question is how much glory can we gain before the enemy is utterly defeated.
I am a proud imperial stormtrooper. And I am ready to serve the Emperor with honour and dedication once again..
...with a new determination, with a new resolve, with a new conviction...
...a new hope.
THIS STORY IS NOW COMPLETE
A/N - A special thanks to author Ladyofdarkstar for the use of her OC Jentessa Motti\Batch who appears throughout this story. Tessa is from the Family Ties stories, both of which cross over with this one.
I would also like to thank Ladyofdarkstar for the use of her character, Torr Kann, from her Perspectives story.