Chapter 1 - Prologue
The Resurgent class Star Destroyer Reclaimer orbited over the planet of Urdak, like a massive wedge-shaped moon that stood guardian over the world. The planet was a temperate world that consisted mostly of flat grass covered steppe plains or lush forests that covered the landmasses not consumed by the planets oceans. The planet also housed a population of roughly 2.6 billion sentient lifeforms, a number that had spiked in recent years.
The planet (like many in the outer rim) had been what could only be kindly referred to as, a cesspool, until recently. Situated away from most major hyperplanes, away from the influence of the powerful Hutt Cartels, and of vertically no interest to the New Republic, the planet had become a haven for all manner of savagery and lawlessness. Pirate gangs, powerful enough to require a permanent base of operations, smugglers who needed a drop off point for or between jobs, or simply people who wanted to disappear. They all had found their way to Urdak.
Thus the world had become what it had been, a retched hive of scum and villainy, men unfit for mankind.
But as the commanding officer of the Reclaimer surveyed the world from on high, they marvelled and took immense pride in what had changed and what had been accomplished. To them in validated a life time of believe and reaffirmed their belief that the galaxy needed them to save it.
The First Order had come to Urdak about three years ago. The first thing they had done was send in the Stormtroopers and had cleared the pirates, smugglers, drug dealers and all other undesirables. They had fought of course, just as a virus will fight against inoculation, and just like that scenario, the virus had been purged. They had been rounded up, and pulled from their decedent nests, and gathered in the location, that could mostly be called a town centre. There in front of all the civilians, their crimes, against the First Order, the New Republic, and civilisation had been read out. Then they had been sentenced by the military tribunal and shot in the back of the head by the troopers.
A fate better then such scum deserved.
After that the First Order had taken official control and annexed the planet to their growing territory. Before the planet had almost been beyond hope. The economic and logistical handling of the planet had been a joke. And with the pirates and gangs, there had been no government whatsoever.
People had starved by the millions, bodies had gone unburied, diseases long eradicated in the core had been rampant, the suffering had been unimaginable. The military annexation of the planet had not gone without bloodshed of course. But now the planet was stable and prospering. The First Order Stormtroopers patrolled the streets and kept order and law. The fleet transferred goods on and off world, the hyperplanes had been cleared of pirates and allowed resources to flow naturally and uninterrupted.
Even as the commander watched the planet, they admired the unbroken line of starship traffic that moved toward the planet in one orderly line and the second line that moved just as orderly away from the planet. Not a ship twitched out of place and none dared go outside the official route or above the set speed limit. After all, stability bought people, and despite endless claims to the contrary, people craved law and order. They longed for the simplicity of being told what they could and could not do and a set of rules to live by.
The civilians, freed from the constant terror, barbarism and hedonism of the pirates had been jubilant and new civilians had arrived in droves to enjoy what was once unthinkable, a new life on a peaceful planet. Compared to what they had endured at the hands of the barbarous criminals, the civilians had been happy to welcome and adapt to the First Order laws and regulations. The brothels, gambling dens, fighting pits, and slave markets had all been closed. In their place had risen, spaceports, administration buildings, agricultural projects, educational programs and above all, a sense of purpose.
Families happy applied for their children to join the Stormtrooper core, knowing that the life and opportunities that they would have were better than anything they would find on Urdak. Also, the resources that the planet had provided had been a significant boon to the First Order. The dunium and durusteel had paid for at least 3 Star destroyers and contributed to the Starkiller project. Within a single generation, if no rebellions or unrest occurred on the planet (which was unlikely) the civilians would be granted full First Order citizenship. And with it would come all the rights and privileges held by those on the Supremacy itself.
And so Urdak had gone from being a forgotten cesspool of the Outer Rim, to being a model of a First Order planet.
Admiral Kuvira stood on the bridge of the Reclaimer, her hands clasped behind her back, in full First Order dress. Her black uniform complete with polished shining boots, gloves and black greatcoat with First Order insignia in place. Her black hair was tied behind her head in a tight bun, and her lightly tanned face was highlighted by her vibrant green eyes that stared at the planet that slowly spun beneath her. She was in her late twenties and had an athletic build with a figure born of activity that many would find enticing. However, all who knew her understood that she could kill or cripple them with a jab or kick as easily as she could with a blade or blaster.
Kuvira had been raised by the First Order. From what she had learned, her original home world of Athulla was a 'nightmare' and she had the great fortune to escape a life on that hellhole and find herself among the hallowed ranks of the First Order pilots squads. For 10 years during her young adult hood she had flown a tie fighter and worked her way up to flight commander onboard the Absolution, mentored by Captain Cardinal himself.
From there she had gained access to the hallowed and elite ranks of the senior officers of the First Order fleet. Her tactical and strategic experience and talent had been noticed by Brendol Hux and Admiral Sloane in a short time. As the years went by and she was given her own captaincy of a Star Destroyer, even Supreme Leader Snoke had taken note of her talents and skills.
Slowly, but steadily, she had risen through the ranks until she now stood as the most senior ranking Admiral in the First Order, and de facto Grand Admiral of the entire fleet. While there were several old imperial veterans that understandably chaffed at taking orders from such a young and fast rising star. However they had been shown time and again in the conquests of the Unknown Regions that their concerns were unfounded, and their petty jealousies, were unwanted. Slowly her malcontents had been forced into submission, and now those veterans treated her with trusted loyalty, or grudging respect.
She had been expertly effective in destroying the enemies that the Order had encountered in their expansion of their territory and she had also shown a talent for diplomacy and negotiation as well. As lesson that Cardinal had taught her at an early age was that one she had always tried to implement.
He had said,
"It was easy to defeat an enemy army, occupy their territory and fight of the endless rebellions. But that is not conquest. True conquest is in showing your enemies, that they were wrong to oppose you in the first place. Defeat them, but don't break them. Rebuild their infrastructure in your own image, provide them with lower expenses then they had before, make necessities easier to attain, bring their people to positions of power. Do all these things and they will soon forget the reasons they fought in the first place. While some will always try to stir up others with talk of patriotism and independence. Others will soon realise that they are fighting and dying for increased taxes, and harder lives. Once they realise that, they won't care which banner files over their heads, as long as it's the one that serves them best."
She had mastered this technique and planet after planet had fallen under the banner of the First Order. And more noticeable was that despite some early grumblings, the planet stayed quiet and pacified. Not only had these accomplishments lead to her achieving the rank of Admiral. But it had also ensured that she gained another title, one known across the entire galaxy.
The Great Uniter.
Now she was part of a powerful triumvirate that all but commanded the entirety of the entire First Order. The other two parts of that trio was Captain Phasma and Kylo Ren.
Captain Phasma's track record was certainly impressive, and her training programs onboard the Finalizer had produced only great results. In her unique and iconic chrome silver armour, she had become a figurehead and idol for the entire First Order Stormtrooper core.
Kuvira could defiantly not complain about her skills as a warrior. The upbringing that she had had on her home world, the hostile planet of Parnassos had gifted her with an innate sense of danger, excellent physical perfection and a resolve that many commanders would kill to have in their soldiers. Phasma demanded nothing but excellence from her soldiers, and so showed nothing but perfection to them.
However, Kuvira could not truly forget that it was Phasma who had all but replaced her mentor and almost father figure, Cardinal. She had trained under him in her youth, and he had been a constant in her life since the beginning. He had done everything for her, from teaching her how to hold and fire a blaster, to comforting her when she had nightmares when she was five. He had explained their uselessness and the need for her not to allow anything, least of all, something as immaterial as dreams hold her back.
Where Cardinal was now, she didn't know. He had disappeared off the Absolution roughly 1 year ago. She had heard that he had been suffering from noticeable psychological issues and the possibility of replacement on the youth training programs. She had been infuriated at the suggestion. But before any action could be taken, he had disappeared.
She knew that Cardinal would rather cut out his own heart and eat it then desert the First Order, and she had always suspected that Phasma had played some role in the disappearance of her red counterpart.
If proven true, she would order the chrome captain to be thrown out the nearest airlock. Until then she would continue to work alongside her for the betterment of the First Order and the galaxy.
As for Kylo Ren, her opinion was considerably brighter. While she like many others held sceptical views of the Force, and the ancient orders of the Jedi and the Sith. She has seen the power that it gave both the Supreme Leader and his apprentice enough to know that it was no cheap parlour trick.
In addition, she had learned that history lessons of Lord Vader. The Dark Lord who had acted as the unstoppable bulwark between the Empire and its loyal citizens and rebels. A dark knight that stood between the forces of chaos and the servants of order. The man, who had driven fear into the hearts of all those who dared to speak against the Empire.
The man who the entire Imperial army had worshipped with almost godlike devotion and who's name still inspired fear in rebel supporters and pride in the heirs to the Empire.
If Lord Vader had survived the battle of Endor and taken charge of the Imperial forces against the so called New Republic. She had no doubt that the Empire would have prevailed, and the galaxy would not have had to suffer the inept, decedent and toothless rule of the New Republic the last 30 years.
With all that in mind, she saw the value that Kylo Ren brought to the First Order. A new Vader, that the Stormtroopers could follow into battle with the confidence that victory was all but assured.
She and him had worked together on many occasions since his revelation to the First Order some years ago. During that time, they had built up a good working relationship and (she like to believe) a healthy respect for each other's abilities.
She had often credited his skills as a warrior and his ability to gather information and inspire his troops. At the same time, he had expressed acknowledgment (and sometimes even appreciation) for the tactics and resources she provided, often without needing to be asked. He had also passed on the credit for the numerous victories and expansions that could in large part be credited to her tactical plans and long-term strategy.
It was a productive relationship that pleased the Supreme Leader and ensured that the First Order remained largely free of infighting. Unlike the laughable assembly they called the New Republic senate.
It was certainly more productive then the relationship either of them had for the snivelling fool Armitage Hux. Both she, Kylo Ren, and the majority of the First Order high command knew that Hux was an unbalanced fool, who was perpetually angry and illogical. His only real skill was in fiery rhetorical speeches. And while those certainly had their uses, a General needed a great deal more to be worthy of the title.
Thankfully the Supreme Leader had seen Hux for the rapid dog that he was and despite granting him the rank of General, kept him away from the most important tasks, that he left to the unofficial triumvirate. The last reports, stated that he was stationed on the other side of their territory on the fringes of the Unknown region, expanding into those unnamed, and unexplored stars. At least he was in someway useful there.
Kuvira meanwhile had been placed on the front lines of their new unofficial war with the New Republic.
The New Republic had failed to live up to the vaunted promises that the Rebel Alliance had spewed to the galaxy in a spectacular fashion. So much so that the Republic that they had been so determined to restore was little more then a joke outside of the halls of the senate on Hosnian Prime. The mistakes that the so-called government made were almost comedic to the Admiral, if they weren't so damaging to the galaxy.
The dismantlement of most of the Rebel navy during the Galactic Concordance was a sold as a very nice pacifist dream, but then the inevitable had happened. Without a force to back up their policies and interests, the people of the galaxy quickly saw the New Republic for the toothless Nexu that it was. After that the criminal cartels and gangs had descended on the poor and impoverished Outer-Rim to begin carving out territory previously denied them by the Empire.
Even now the Hutts were rising back to their old prominence as the crime kings of a large section of the outer galaxy. Along with this came the increase in the slave, drug, and smuggling trades. And on a completely unrelated not, a large increase in the living expenses of many Republic politians.
It seemed that even now, the Rebels and their collaborates could not (or refused to) see, that a galaxy of millions of trillions of different beings needed to be united by an Iron Fist, not a velvet glove. Because of this they refused to project any noticeable power across the galaxy and for all intents and purposes, their laws and decrees had as much power in the galaxy, as a blind and limbless Ortolan.
Meanwhile the peoples of the Republic, especially those associated with the Populist party had ensured that the people of the galaxy had become so divided and concerned with the interest of their individual planets, that the Republic had no patriotic unity. It was more an alliance of convenience among completely sovereign nations. An alliance that would quickly fracture if the interests of the member worlds differed.
To her, it only confirmed what she had always known. Rebels could destroy, and blow up and sabotage, but they could not create. They could only tear down a government, not build one up.
Because of these weaknesses and the apparent dedication of the New Republic not to engage in any military spending, and certainly not any kind of galactic war. The Supreme Leader had decided to begin expanding their territory out of the Unknown regions and into the Outer Rim, which (despite original rebel support) had been left to wither and die by the New Republic.
With the wealth and resources of the Republic once again being funnelled into the core worlds the outer rim had become a poverty-stricken region, forced to negotiate with criminals and smugglers just for necessities. Ironically many of the outer rim world residents had predicted this would happen as far back as the battle of Akiva. At the time they had been called, cynical.
With all this in mind, it had not been hard for the First Order to gain a presence in the region. One by one, world by world, sector by sector, the banner of the First Order had been raised over these worlds. Never Republic member worlds, just those on the border lands. But even so, the First Order now stood at the zenith of its power. They controlled hundreds of worlds, hundreds of capital ships and millions of soldiers.
Soon, very soon. They would be ready to throw aside this ridiculous cold war relationship with the New Republic and reclaim the galaxy. That time was fast approaching, after 30 years of hiding in the Unknown Regions, rebuilding their strength, they would once again being order to the galaxy. That was one thing that the rebels had never understood. That while they clung to their primitive notions of independence, the dream of a united galaxy would not be killed so easily.
Of course, not everything had gone their way. She would have preferred the First Order to remain in the Unknown Regions until they were ready to attack a Republic that did not even know of their existence. After all that had been the tactic of the Reconstituted Sith Empire in the Great Galactic War thousands of years ago, and their eventual victory was a direct result of this surprise attack.
However, the former rebel leaders, led by the infuriating Princess/Senator/General Leia Organa had become aware of their existence and had quickly deduced their eventual intentions.
She had quickly gone to the Republic senate and demanded that they act against the Order. It was almost amusing to learn how her precious democratic system had turned on her and denounced her as a rabble rouser, or a desperate old woman trying to relive her rebel glory days. She had been cast from the senate and left as a private citizen.
But that woman was nothing if not tenacious, an attribute that Kuvira respected despite herself. She had founded the 'Resistance'. Ironically it was as much a successor to the Rebel Alliance, as the First Order was to the Empire.
Its goal was to watch and prepare a defence against the First Order's eventual attack.
However, the Resistance was nothing but a shadow of the Rebel Alliance. Its forces were small, its personel were half trained, its resources were laughable. But most importantly, it had nowhere near the support that the old alliance had.
No one ever seemed to notice that many of the Rebel Alliance's founders were wealthy Senators, who has suddenly had their power and privilege curtailed by the rise of the Empire. Bail Organa, Mon Mothma, Garm Iblis, Amilyn Holdo, Admiral Ackbar, all had been in position or power in the Old Republic. And that power had been reduced dramatically by the Empire.
And yet somehow everyone thought that they had founded the Rebellion for purely altruistic reasons?!
It was a laughable notion. And they had used that lie to convince the ignorant and the angry into destroying the Empire so that they could reclaim their corrupt power.
But the Resistance had no such backers. And the senate was more then happy to distance themselves from the inane ramblings of Organa. And the public, had seen more then enough of the New Republic's corruption and ineptitude to really care anymore. If she had asked many people (especially in the Outer Rim) to help save the New Republic, the most common answer she would receive was
In fact, she had received that answer many times. She had a large amount of influence with First Order Security Bureau, and she had instituted a program where their operatives would pose as New Republic, or even Resistance operatives and try to sound out the feelings of the people around the galaxy.
The results had been pleasing. True on planets that were heavily pro-republic, Chandrila, Mon Cala, Kashyyyk, Naboo, Coruscant, Coreilla and Balmorra, support had been minimal.
But the Empire had allies and goodwill across the galaxy as well, despite what New Republic propaganda would say.
Kuat, Vardos, Ganthel, Chagar IX, Akiva, Hevurion, Sianar and Arkanis had all prospered under the Empire. And they were eager for a return to the old days. And when the First Order marched to conquest, they would be the first to join them.
Still even the smallest insect bite can prove fatal if the circumstances are right. And the resistance had proven to be a thorn in their side for several years. The fiasco with Agent Terex was one of the most notable. And she would not make the Empire's mistake by underestimating their enemies.
She turned and saw an aide marching up the bridge towards her. When he came within reach he stopped and saluted respectfully and began his report.
"We have received an intelligence report that the fugitive Lor San Tekka has been located in a small village on the planet of Jakku. The Finalizer is already on route and we have been ordered by the Supreme Leader to rendezvous with them over the planet to begin an extraction operation. Lord Ren and Captain Phasma will assist in the mission."
Kuvira turned away and looked back out the viewport.
Jakku. That world that saw the last great battle of the Rebellion. The ignorant even went so far as to call it the graveyard of the Empire. She however preferred to see it as the birth place of the First Order. It seemed oddly fitting that the beginning of their revenge should start at the same place that the Rebellion destroyed all they had and drove them to the dark of the galaxy.
It was almost poetic.
Without turning back round she said "Set course of Jakku and hail the Finalizer that we are on our way. Also place the tie fighter squadrons on stand by and the 3rd legion must be ready to board their landing craft for an assault."
The aide looked stunned at the level of preparation being ordered. Tentatively he asked, "You expect that much resistance, Admiral?"
She turned back to face him with an eyebrow raised.
"We know that the Resistance, also knows the location of Tekka as well, and they want the map to that coward as much as we do. They will be there either in force, or they will send a small number of their best. Either way, we will not take any chances with a mission of this importance."
The aide nodded "Yes Admiral, right away." He turned and hurried away, issuing her orders tow the bridge crew and the hyperspace coordinates were already being uploaded to the nav computer.
As the light of the stars stretched to lines, and the black of the void changed to the swirling blue of hyperspace she allowed a small smile to stretch across her face.
It was time to take back what was theirs. After all, there was a reason her Star destroyer was called Reclaimer.