Airen Cracken: A top agent in the Rebel Alliance's Intelligence branch, Col. Cracken has been a major figure in the fight against the Empire for years, ever since he and his close knit team left their home planet of Conturuum to join the larger rebellion. But recent events have torn the original team apart, and the loss of his friends under his command has Cracken secretly doubting his own leadership abilities.
Hank Landow: Cracken's closest brother in arms, Hank is Beta Squad's stubborn, hard-edged demolition man. Fiercely protective of his biological brother Jaig, he has faced his own personal crisis following the young Jedi's abduction by Imperial forces.
Jaig Landow: A young force-sensitive, Jaig left Cracken's team to train as a Jedi under the watchful eye of Master Suun Qwarr. But following his abduction by the Inquisitor program, the death of Master Qwarr, and a blossoming romance with dark side pupil Kara Draco, Jaig has begun to doubt the teachings of the failed Jedi Order, and has become increasingly open to the Imperial training.
Tarsus: Former Chief Inquisitor, this dark master schemed to kill Darth Vader and take his place. Now that this plan has seemingly succeeded, he is struggling to handle both his new duties and maintaining control over the Inquisitor program, all while secretly planning the next step towards his vision of the galaxy's future...
The Inquisitors: The three surviving students of the final graduating class at Castle Gathreel, Mara Jade, Kara Draco, and Gnarrl continue to operate missions together from a mobile shuttle base, supervised by Sargeant Wilhelm Klink and continuing training alongside new recruit Jaig Landow. However, the haphazard new structure of the program, particularly the brash actions of Gnarrl and Jade, have drawn criticism from a growing number of Imperial officers critical of the growing influence of Force-wielders.
Previously on Alliance Intelligenceâ€¦
-Unwittingly, the rebels attack and subsequent destruction of the Castle Gathreel has held shocking ramifications for the galaxy at large. According to the reports spread throughout the Empire-sanctioned Holonet, Darth Vader died heroically securing the safety of dozens of high-level Imperials in the midst of a devastating terrorist attack. Little does the galaxy know, but the entire fiasco was a cover by Chief Inquisitor Tarsus to assassinate Lord Vader and take his place at the Emperorâ€™s right hand.
-But the consequences hit further home for Col. Airen Cracken and his team of rebel spies. Their mission, to rescue Hank Landowâ€™s brother Jaig, turned into an unexpected victory with Vaderâ€™s death. But on a personal level, it proved a failure. Among the many casualties of the day were Jaigâ€™s master, Suun Qwarr, and Crackenâ€™s loyal bodyguard, the Wookiee Saigorr. And all for naught, as Jaig himself, his mind swayed by the Inquisitorsâ€™ power, was stolen away.
-In the aftermath, the soldiers of Beta Team have struggled to move on, their inner scars masked by stern military exteriors as they welcome new teammates Willix, who was instrumental in the escape from Castle Gathreel, and Bif, a Gungan sniper. Together, they move onward, because the war has only just begun, and Tarsusâ€™ schemes have yet to be fully revealedâ€¦
-It has been a little over one month since the destruction of Gathreel, but Tarsus has fully stepped into his new position of authority. But not all of the Empireâ€™s top officers have taken kindly to the change in management. Exiting a top-level briefing, General Lars Hochsetter, chief commander of Imperial Security Bureau, approaches the former Inquisitor.
â€œLord Tarsus, there is a matter of which I need to speak to youâ€, the General begins.
-----â€œGeneral, if this is about the Inquisitor program, I must repeat that it is out of your purvey of knowledge, much less influence. Your opinion on how I run the program holds no swayâ€.
-The conversation is interrupted when Cpt. Madine, leader of Tarsusâ€™ elite Storm Commandos, approaches with a report.
-------â€œSir, weâ€™ve received an alert from Stonagel Technologies. Theyâ€™ve had a security breachâ€
â€œDo we have a suspect?
--------â€œHe has been located. The new Inquisitor squad was sent his locationâ€.
â€œGood. Thank you for the update, Captainâ€. Madine turns to go, leaving Tarsus and Hochsetter alone.
--------â€œYouâ€™re not paying attention to meâ€, the General snarls. â€œIâ€™ve already spoken with the Emperor himself on the matter. He agrees that you no longer have the time to oversee the Inquisitor program yourself. Thaal Tuiy, the Emperorâ€™s Hand, has been placed in command and is already in route to take his new positionâ€.
-Furious, Tarsus whirls around.
------â€œThe Emperorâ€™s Hand is an assassin, nothing more. He is in no position to oversee the teachings of the new Inquisitors! You have no authorityâ€¦â€
â€œNo, Lord Tarsusâ€, the title drips with sarcasm as Hochsetter hisses it out. â€œBut OUR master the Emperor does. Unless you would challenge HIS wisdom on the matterâ€¦â€
â€œI wonâ€™t forget this, Generalâ€ Tarsus snaps back, spitting out his foes title with equal vitriol before turning away. Soon, he thinks to himself, soon he will have everything aligned, and the petty bureaucrats and senile emperor have no chance to stand in his way.
-As Tarsus schemes at the center of the universe, far in the outer rim a far different plot is unfolding. Rebel Commando Hank Landow slips discreetly through the backstreets of a seedy trading port on a backwater moon, in search of the defecting scientist from Stonagel Technologies, one of the Empireâ€™s top military contractors.
â€œIâ€™m here to meet Pete Steppenwolf,â€ Hank tells the bartender outside of a rundown haven for local criminals.
â€œHis faithful servant Dante,â€ Hank replies, using the prearranged codeword.
-The bartender gestures towards the entrance to the lounge.
-As Hank ducks through the low door into the building, he can only wonder what sort of a fugitive would demand his contact such a ridiculous title. As such, he fails to notice the Imperial probe watching his entrance through a silent, unblinking red eyeâ€¦
â€œExcuse me, sir, all customers must check their weapons at the door,â€ the lounge supervisor steps into Hankâ€™s path.
------â€œIâ€™m no customer,â€ he mutters, catching site of his quarry across the room. â€œIâ€™m here to drag one out of hereâ€.
â€œAh, you must be Dante!â€ the slightly drunk scientist shouts as Hank approaches. â€œCome join the party!â€
â€œI didnâ€™t come all the way here to watch you get drunk in a brothel,â€ Hank puts his foot down. â€œYou want your money, we leave nowâ€.
â€œYouâ€™re no funâ€, Dr. Steppenwolf mutters as the duo leave.
------â€œItâ€™s not my job to be fun. Iâ€™m here to keep your dumb self from getting killed until you get my boss whatever it is you ran off withâ€.
â€œItâ€™s so damn bright out here,â€ the doctor complains as they step outside.
-----â€œStop complaining. You have any idea if there was a chance you were followed here?â€
â€œOf course not,â€ Steppenwolf coughs before drunkenly tripping over his own feet. â€œIâ€™m a professionalâ€
---------â€œThe only thing youâ€™re a pro at is leaving a trail a mile wide, Bronsky!â€ a womanâ€™s voice shouts outâ€¦
-The duo turn to be confronted by newly sworn in Inquisitors Gnarrl and Mara Jade.
-------â€œHowâ€™s you know my name?â€ the doctor slurs.
â€œBecause weâ€™re here to put you under arrest, moronâ€, Jade quips.
â€œFine, take me. Youâ€™ll probably be more entertaining than this loserâ€. Bronsky throws his hand in the air as Hank shoves him aside, drawing his blaster.
------â€œLike hell youâ€™re surrendering!â€
-Before he can fire a shot, Gnarrl picks the rebel up off the ground and hurls him onto the bar!
-In an instant, the plaza erupts, as its drunken criminal inhabitants rush to confront the disturber of their peace. The massive Inquisitor is in turn more than happy to expand his list of targets.
-Hank, utterly confused and thoroughly frustrated by what should have been a simple extraction job, opens fire on his assailantsâ€¦
-Only to groan in mildly distraught anger when Mara Jade ignites her lightsaber, casually deflecting his attacks while Gnarrl continues his barroom brawl.
â€œYouâ€™ve got to be kidding me,â€ he shouts as the Inquisitor yanks him up and over the bar with the Force, slamming him to the ground.
-The wind knocked out of him, Hank can barely resist as Gnarrl chokes him into unconsciousness. The last thing he sees is the arrival of the local authorities, responding to the sudden outburst of violence.
------â€œMaâ€™me, please drop your weapon and place you hands behind your headâ€¦â€ the first officer orders.
â€œIdiots!â€ Jade snaps. â€œWeâ€™re Imperial Inquisitors on official duty and you are hindering our operation! These men here are dangerous terrorist agents!â€
------â€œCan I see your authorization, miss?â€, the officer replies, unfazed.
â€œI have their authorization. You can leave now, thank youâ€, Sgt. Klink steps forward from behind the officers. As they leave, he glares sternly at the two young Inquisitors. â€œI see you two managed to make a mess of things hereâ€.
-------â€œGnarrl stepped out of line, sir,â€ Jade replies. â€œBut weâ€™ve also captured the doctorâ€™s rebel contactâ€.
-Looking down at Hankâ€™s unconscious body, a look of recognition dawns on his face as he realizes the Inquisitors have just captured the brother of their newest recruit.
-------â€œIs something wrong, Sergeant?â€ Jade asks.
â€œIâ€™m not sureâ€â€¦..
TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 2, UP SOON!