-Shadow of Deceit- A Star Wars Short Story

Joined
Dec 27, 2021
Messages
2
Reaction score
0
Location
AZ
-Shadow of Deceit-
A Star Wars Short Story



Chapter 1: The Pilot


Through the darkness of space, an Imperial TIE Fighter sparked and sputtered toward the brightly-lit planet of Coruscant. Having sustained heavy combat damage, the fighter repeatedly altered its trajectory.

From within a nearby Star Destroyer, an Imperial gasped at his control station. “Sir, I’m picking something up on radar!” His eyes widened as he turned to look at the ship’s captain. “And it appears to be one of ours!”

The captain looked out the front viewing port in disbelief. “It can’t be…” he quietly stated. He then pointed to the young Imperial while still looking toward the viewing port. “Lock on to him!”

Green tractor beams immediately shot out from the Star Destroyer. But the severely-damaged, errant aircraft’s movements were too unpredictable.

“We can’t lock on to him sir!” An Imperial stated in panic to his superior. “One of the fighter’s solar panels is completely missing…it’s not even possible he made it this far!”

When it passed by the Star Destroyer, the Captain looked at the fighter in complete shock. “What is he doing?!”

Beside him, another astonished officer chimed in, “It would appear he’s attempting to enter Coruscant’s atmosphere.”

The Captain solemnly replied, “He’ll never make it…”

The beams continually failed to grasp the fighter until it disappeared into the planet’s atmosphere.

__


The calm sunset and busy skies of Coruscant were suddenly interrupted when a ball of fire burst through the sky. With only a single quadanium solar panel remaining, the fighter descended erratically into the capitol’s central skyline.

From within the fighter’s cockpit, a transmission was received from the tower, “Sir, all stations have been alerted. You may land at any...” The pilot ignored the notification, switched off the receiver, and focused on his controls. Despite the damage to the fighter, and the surrounding fire, the black-masked pilot remained calm.

Barely capable of flying, the fighter narrowly avoided various aircraft, high-rise buildings and gaudy monuments. When the pilot finally saw his desired landing site, tucked deep within Imperial Headquarters, he maneuvered toward the small hangar.

Just as he approached the bay, the engines faltered completely. After a brief free-fall, the second solar panel sprang away when the cockpit smashed onto the surface of the hangar. Catching fire, the burning ship rolled through the bay, destroying numerous TIE Fighters in its path. Caught off guard, Imperials scattered to avoid the incoming wreckage. Just before it veered into a bulkhead, the pilot dove from the cockpit and dashed away from the fiery crash. After a second and final explosion, the spraying debris struck the fleeing pilot, engulfing his black armor in flames. Without panic, he patted-out the fire and removed his still-burning mask.

Even before his face was revealed, the Imperials stationed at the hangar knew exactly who to expect. There was only one fighter pilot who possessed the necessary skills to fly such a damaged ship, or the prestige to have been permitted unrestricted access to all landing sites.

After extinguishing the remaining flames, his triumphant arrival was met with cheers of celebration from the astonished Imperials. Although his face shown signs of scaring from war, his dark brown hair remained neatly groomed due to a short, tapered cut. As was typical in seeing his face, one officer remarked to another, “He’s younger than I imagined.”

As if the grand welcome did not exist, the pilot proceeded through the hangar and departed without pause.



Indifferent to the respect received from each passing Clonetrooper, the pilot marched through the vast corridors of central Coruscant. With his black mask carried to his side, the pilot broke protocol with each step. His confident appearance and determined demeanor nearly hid the fact that he was the sole survivor of yet another victory in aerial combat. While an unmasked trooper would typically result in expulsion, when he passed Imperial Officers, even they did not dare questioned him. Each time he returned victorious, tales of his adventures were spread throughout the Empire. For the moment, he had an entirely different mission.

Having ascended a long, metal staircase, he arrived at his destination.

Facing a guarded entryway, a single-file line of Imperial officers anxiously awaited their opportunity to be summoned inside. Perplexed, they looked-on as the pilot brushed past them to move to the front. While making a quick input on his wrist-com, he gave a slight nod, signaling to the Clonetroopers on guard to allow him to pass.

__


When the doors closed behind him, the pilot maintained his pace as if to intentionally interrupt the already-in-progress hearing. While sitting at a U-shaped table, his sudden arrival seemed to startle and irritate the high-ranking Imperial Officers. When reaching the center of the room, he assumed a rigid standing position. With his mask under his right arm, his suit still steamed from the aftermath of his crash landing.

Governor Tarkin, who sat as chairman of the preceding, was mildly caught off guard, but with a hint of intrigue. The other members did not share in Tarkin's interest. They looked at the pilot in surprise, then to Tarkin to gauge his reaction.

"Captain Tavnaar, so nice of you to join us, but you do of course realize this is highly inappropriate.” Remarked Tarkin. "Unless the other members are in need of a combat report,” he motioned to the surrounding officers, “I suggest you turn-about and depart immediately."

Captain Tavnaar did not feel the need to reply, but continued to look Tarkin dead-in-the-eye.

"Not so fast," snapped Admiral Rengous, who stood fast enough to nearly tumble over.

Tavnaar slowly looked to his right. In seeing the Admiral’s sloppy appearance, he held back a grin.

Having noticed the arrogance, Rengous futilely attempted to gather his dignity. After a few tugs and adjustments to his uniform, Rengous sat, leaned forward and extended a pudgy finger toward Tavnaar. “Put your mask back on. Not only have you disrespected this council with your unwarranted arrival, but you defy the standard protocols of your own armor. Troopers don't have faces—you have duties, nothing m...”

Moving fast enough to startle the entire room, Tavnaar lurched forward and slammed his mask on the table within inches of Rengous. While maintaining his grasp on the helmet, he glared at the Admiral. Rengous looked back with fear in his eyes.

After a long pause, with calm certainty, Tavnaar finally spoke, "Your words are of little concern to me. I decided the outcome of this little gathering six months ago, and when it's over, I'll never be told to wear a mask again.”

Slowly and deliberately, Tavnaar turned his mask to face the Admiral, then concluded, “But you might."

Rengous stood and backed away. Before he was able to respond, the council was disrupted by the panicked footsteps of someone approaching.

“Governor, I'm so sorry!” Yelled a panicked assistant while motioning to his keypad. Tarkin furrowed his brow and glared with his deep-set eyes. The nervous assistant then leaned over to Tarkin and whispered, “You’ve received an urgent, confidential message.”

While unclear to anyone else in the room, a distinct rasp could be heard from the handheld intercom. Upon hearing the secret message, Tarkin’s expression completely changed. The panel of officers shifted uncomfortably in their seats.

Tavnaar moved back to the center of the room while allowing a shrewd smirk in the direction of Rengous.

When the message concluded, and the assistant was out of the room, Tarkin remarked with slight agitation, “Lieutenant-Commander Wently, you are dismissed."

Wently, who was never even acknowledged by Tavnaar, meagerly exited from the center of the room.

When the doors closed behind Wently, Tarkin resumed, “This council is now in session." He then turned his attention toward Admiral Rengous.

Reluctantly, Rengous took his seat.



As he continued to question Tavnaar, Tarkin seemed to find amusement with the impromptu hearing.

“As we are all aware, you were the top graduate of the human/clone integration experiment. You are the only human not yet killed in battle, and you are the first trooper of any kind to successfully certify as both a trooper and a pilot. Tell me, what made you decide to join the Empire?"

~~~Surrounded in a gray fog, Tavnaar's oldest surviving memory vaguely came to his mind: As a teenager, he told the distorted image of an unrecognizable elder that the only thing he was good at, was evil. He exclaimed that he'd heard of a place where he might finally fit in. Startled, he and the elder both looked behind him to see the faint outline of a smaller figure. As it always did, his memory dissipated before its conclusion.~~~

"I am an adept killer." He frankly responded.

Tarkin scoffed, “Certainly you have more to offer than just killing?"

"That wasn't the question, Governor.”

“Indeed, Captain,” Tarkin scowled at Tavnaar. “Would you care to elaborate?”

“I didn’t join because I needed the Empire, I joined because the Empire needed me. From the very beginning, I easily rose to the top of my class with precision planning and detailed execution.”

~~~Tavnaar recalled his time at the Imperial Academy: In a life-or-death, urban-battlefield scenario, he and his fellow troopers were attacked from the outside of their small bunker. He responded by taking command and shouting orders. As he leaped from his covered position, he dodged lasers and destroyed numerous battle droids—each with a single shot. Within minutes, he began to outmaneuver and outwit the robotic enemy. With mechanical precision, he and his followers executed his plans until the battle was won. Then finally, the graduation ceremony where he donned the white mask for the first time.~~~

"You may think that I should be content with my current position; after all, I command most of the Clone Army, but nothing I do is unplanned or by chance. My being here today is only a small step toward my ultimate goal. I will not be satisfied until I have the ability to assemble the most elite fighting force the galaxy has ever seen. My will to enforce the Empire's strength is unyielding."

Intrigued, Tarkin pressed on. "You have indeed proven this to be true. Your successes in combat have made you somewhat of a legend to your peers have they not?"

"I have no peers. Perhaps this is the reason I have risen to the highest rank a Clonetrooper can attain…but I am not a clone.”

“What is your point, Captain?”

“As the only human in my ranks, I stand apart. Quite frankly, we need more like me."

~~~He instantly remembered several battles which gained his infamy as a ruthless killing machine. From day-one upon wearing the white armor, he did indeed stand apart. The clones were disciplined, but they lacked certain elements that only he possessed. His ability to react to any situation and accurately predict battlefield encounters quickly gained him a level of celebrity never before seen from a trooper. When he emerged to lead an attack in ground combat, the Clonetroopers were instantly assured that victory was near. When he piloted a TIE fighter in air or space, his fellow pilots felt invincible.~~~

"'Stand apart' Captain?" Tarkin looked uncommonly confused. "I've seen nothing but respect and unquestioning loyalty to your orders."

"Is that so different from the respect given to an Imperial Officer?"

Tarkin was too intrigued to notice a buzzing sound emitted from the entrance.

"One final question, Captain. At the beginning of his hearing you claimed that Admiral Regnous might be the one wearing a mask. That is an abnormal allegation. In respect of his superior status, he deserves to know why."

Confident, Tavnaar simply replied, “Because he is a criminal, and a traitor."

"A traitor?" Tarkin placed his elbows on the table, clenched his hands, and glared at Tavnaar.

Rengous stood in anger, causing his seat to fall behind him.

Another buzz from the entrance.

Tavnaar retained his poise. "I also stated that I determined the fate of this board six months ago. It was at that time when I deduced that Admiral Rengous had been leaking classified information to our adversaries."

Recalling his investigation and the pursuit of Rengous, Tavnaar thought of the many Imperial and civilian lives lost as a direct result of Rengous’ treachery.

"These accusations are outrageous!" Exclaimed Rengous. "What evidence do..."

With the fierce turn of his head, Tavnaar once again cut him off. "The evidence was sent as I entered these chambers. Now, Governor Tarkin, would you be kind enough to acknowledge that?"

Tarkin, who had finally begun to understand, allowed the entryway to open.

A confident young officer with an entourage of armed Clonetroopers rapidly spilled into the room.

“Admiral Rengous, you are under arrest for delivering information that lead to the Empire's defeat in the battle of Denarki. Your mind is to be examined to ascertain the full extent of your treachery, followed by your immediate execution."

As the troopers began to bind and submit Rengous, the look of dread covered his face.

The Lieutenant then looked to Tavnaar with a cheerful glow. "Captain, will you be taking command of the firing squad?"

While blankly looking at him, Tavnaar replied, “My team has already been briefed. Bring him to our bay when your interrogation is complete."

"Of course, sir."

"Lieutenant, one more thing.” Tavnaar shifted his attention toward Rengous. “Don't put the extractor on too tight. I prefer to deliver justice to conscious traitors."

"Yes sir, I have an extractor mask just his size." He said with a smile.

After a subtle nod from Tavnaar, the clones whisked Rengous away just as rapidly as they entered. The panel of officers were in silence; their mouths hung open in disbelief.

With his mask already back in his hand, Tavnaar circled the room. From one officer to the next, he extended his helmet forward as if he were offering it to them.

“Does anyone else have a comment?” He said with a half-grin.

When reaching them, the look of panic engulfed their expression.

“Surely you aren’t worried that I have more security escorts waiting outside do you?” He asked them rhetorically. “No one?”

When they remained silent, he once again placed his helmet where Rengous once sat.

“We’ll just leave this here as a reminder. Who knows, perhaps one day it will be of use again.”

Tarkin found himself fully amused with his own frustration "That was a bit theatrical for my ta..."

"I do not tolerate treachery. I demand uncompromising loyalty to the Empire. No one has earned more credibility than I. This you have heard of, and now you have seen. The purpose of this hearing was to determine advancements to commander.” He looked to where Rengous once sat. “I now see a different vacancy."

Tarkin took in a deep breath, looked him in the eye, and finally conceded, "As do I, Captain,” He paused as if to contemplate the possibilities, “as do I.”

Leaning back in his seat, Tarkin concluded, “You are dismissed...Admiral."
 
Last edited:
Joined
Dec 27, 2021
Messages
2
Reaction score
0
Location
AZ
If my first chapter was interesting enough to want more, please let me know and I’ll post the second. If it sucks, please be productive in your comments.
 
Top