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 unprecedentedly stressed, and inwardly doubting his own leadership abilities.
Shade: Formerly one of the Empire's most highly trained commandos, Shade was forced to flee when his master was murdered. He found shelter with the rebels, but is now regretting his change in allegiance and is looking for a way out.
Willix: This hardened fighter lost his old cause and fell in with the Rebel Alliance. A stone-cold, pragmatic soldier, Willix was named the new commander of Alpha Team in Cracken's place, though his harsher tactics have created conflict with some of his fellow rebels.
Hank Landow: Cracken's closest friend and confidante, Hank fought alongside the rebels for years. But after his brother defected to the Empire, he himself was captured, and now finds his loyalties tested by the unexpected kindness of his captor.
Jaig Landow: Hank's force-sensitive younger brother, Jaig served alongside his brother until leaving the rebels to train under former former Jedi Master Suun Qwarr. After Master Qwarr's death, however, Jaig was taken in by the Imperial Inquisitors, who have furthered his training in both sides of the Force. In the process, he has fallen in love with his teammate, Kara.
Sgt. Klink: Once a high-ranking officer in the Imperial Army, a series of defeats at the hands of Col. Cracken left Klink, a nervous, by the book soldier, at the mercy of Chief Inquisitor Tarsus, who has manipulated him into the center of a vast conspiracy. Now assigned as the handling officer of a young team of Inquisitor's, Klink believes he has found a kindred spirit in his new prisoner, Hank Landow.
Hans Kott and Cpt. Flint Oxixo: Imperial fighter aces have been best friends since the Acadamy. Ox is a fiercely loyal, by the book believer in the Imperial cause, while Hans has come to question his purpose in life following his brother Sila's defection to the Rebel Alliance.
Previously on Alliance Intelligence:
-After being captured on an operation, Hank Landow became the prisoner of a field team of Inquisitors, including his brother and former teammate, Jaig. After witnessing the dark side of the Rebel Alliance’s war efforts, he has agreed to help his brother’s new cause!
-Meanwhile, his closest friend, Colonel Airen Cracken, has found himself grounded by General George Naht and replaced as field leader by the hardened commando Willix!
-On the opposite end of the galaxy, Imperial officers Cpt. Oxixo and Hans Kott are shocked to discover that, despite what they have been told, Darth Vader is very much alive! The duo is quickly recruited into a secret mission to save the lost dark lord!
-Then, on a mission to Ord Mantell, Agent Orrimarko witnessed the shocking truth about Hank’s betrayal! As the team returns to base, it becomes clear that General Naht is already aware something is wrong…
-In the briefing room, Alpha Team listens to the shocking report from General Naht:
-----“I know this must be hard for all of you to hear, but given the report from Agent Orrimarko, I believe we have a grave security threat on our hands”.
“There’s no way they turned Hank!” Havi protests. “Ori doesn’t know him! Whatever he saw on Ord Mantell, it isn’t what he thinks!”
“That is not the only evidence we have, I’m afraid,” General Naht shakes his head as security footage from a raid on a planned extraction.
-The team watches as the Inquisitors make short work of a gang of smugglers, before Hank Landow steps into view, identifying the rebel agent, who is hauled away for interrogation. As the footage ends, the team sits in silence as Naht leaves.
-----“Inform me when you have agreed upon a course of action”.
“He knows everything about our operation,” Willix is the first to speak. “We have to move fast, before he compromises the entire Intelligence organization”.
-----“And how do you plan on extracting him?” Sila asks. “He’s with the Inquisitors! They destroyed us the last time we fought them!”
“I have a plan,” Willix replies. “We’ll need reinforcements. But I know a guy. We’ll hunt them down, take them out, and insure Agent Landow is not a threat. By any means nessecary.”
-As the team disperses to prep a launch, Havi tracks down Commander Shade.
----“Shade, I need your help. You need to tell Cracken what’s going on. I don’t know what will happen if Willix gets to Hank first…”
-In Cracken’s quarters, the grounded Colonel broods, unable to adjust to life out of the field. Being removed from action, he is left alone with concerns for the well-being of his missing friends, an added stress that lends him no favors at his psyche evaluations.
-The door slides open and Shade walks in.
-----“What do you want?” the irritated rebel grumbles.
“It’s about Agent Landow, sir. Intelligence believes he’s been compromised. Naht sent Alpha Team to find him and…. eliminate any threat he might pose”.
“That’s ridiculous! I can’t let them…”
----“I know sir,” Shade produces Crcken’s trusty personal blaster. “That’s why I’m here”.
-Lightyears away on Coruscant, capital of the Galactic Empire, the Inquisitors of the Dauntless Knight have landed for a brief moment of rest and recreation, to relax and enjoy what the sprawling planet-city has to offer.
“If you want to find where the real fun in this city is, stick with me. Trust me, I grew up here,” Mara Jade prompts her teammates.
-----“I’d rather not,” Kara smiles. “I just don’t feel we have the same tastes in fun”.
“Well, I’m going to pick a fight with the biggest punk I can find,” G’Narrl laughs. “Wanna join?”
----“I think we’ll take a hard pass on that one, buddy,” Jaig smiles nervously.
-As G’Narrl walks away into the shadows, Jaig looks up, overwhelmed by the dizzying cavalcade of lights flashing around him.
------“It’s… It’s just like the pictures, but so much more!”
“That’s about what everyone says the first time,” Kara laughs. “Where do you want to go first?”
-Hank watches has his brother and his love walk off into the night. He feels itchy in the borrowed Imperial uniform. Klink motions to him.
-----“Unless you’ve got anything better to do, I figured you could meet the family”.
-A short ride later, they arrive at Klink’s home, guarded by a fearsome looking Whipid.
------“Jun’Karr! Good to see you again old friend! Is Natalia home yet?” The guard nods.
-Moments later, his wife, Dr. Natlia Byfold, rushes out to great him.
-----“Willhelm, finally!” she shouts. “You should have called, the children are still at the Academy! But you brought a guest?”
“This is Hank,” Klink replies as the couple walks inside. “He works with us on the Knight now”.
----Hank looks back into the glaring lights of the city. He had always dreamed of coming here as a child, but grew to hate it as the Emperor’s forces turned his life into hell. He certainly never expected to be here like this, in this uniform. Turning back from the edge of the balcony, he silently steps inside the house and the door slides shut behind him.
-Elsewhere, Hans Kott and Flint Oxixo march in silence through the mostly abandoned halls of the Imperial Medical Center. They stop before the door leading to Vader’s private chamber.
----“Ox, are you sure about this? What if he’s better left dead?”
“Tarsus is insane. He’s tearing apart the Empire at the time we most need to be united,” Ox replies. “We have to stop him. And the only way to do that is to save Vader”.
-The door slides open and Willix approaches the medical droid standing guard.
“I have no record of any appointments here, Captain,” the droid states.
----“Well, this is sort of a last minute thing. I need to make a withdrawal”.
-Halfway across the galaxy lies a seedy spaceport controlled by one of the most legendary outlaws in the galaxy. Now, Willix and his team of rebel’s approach this “pirate king’s” fortress in search of the extra force they need to extract Hank.
-Suddenly, a Weequay guard leaps out of the bushes, dropping Havi to the ground with a swift blow from his staff!
“Stand down! I’m here to meet with the Boss!” Willix orders.
-----“You Commander Willix?”
“Yes. Now take us in and keep you grimy hands off my mechanic!”
“Did you hear that?” Havi mutters as they walk into the outlaw’s outpost. “MY mechanic! I do not belong to that hard-a…”
----“Well, he did save you from that guard,” Sila mentions.
“I coulda taken him, that jerk was nothing!” Havi laughs. “Tiny but mighty!”
-Inside the walls of the outpost sits a seedy, ramshackle array of buildings, the base of operations for the profiteering gang that controls this tiny little corner of space.
-As the guard leaves to announce their arrival, the rebels are accosted by a finely dressed Klantoonian named Brakus.
“Are you the fools from the Alliance? I feel I am obligated to inform you that your presence here is less than welcome with myself and several of my acquaintances. Although,” he turns to team medic Lorna, “I believe we could make accommodations for… some of”.
“Y’all better take a couple big steps back!” Orrimarko shoves the outlaw back.
“Cut it out!” Willix stops the fight before it escalates. “We’re the Boss’ guests, Brakkus. So unless he finally kicked the bucket and left you in charge, I don’t want to see your face again while we’re here!”
-----Suddenly, a booming, flamboyant voice calls out from speakers strategically placed around the camp: “Commander Willix! Get your filthy rebels away from my employees and come great an old friend!” The rebels approach the base’s central structure…
-Where they are greeted by none other than Hondo Ohnaka!
“Willix, I’m not going to lie, I had practically forgotten you before you called, but you know what they say about me, I never forget a friend once I’m reminded of them”.
----“Of course not, Hondo”, Willix patiently appeases the loopy old pirate.
“Just got to jog the old memory every now and then, you know?”
----“Yes, absolutely. Now, about the job…”
“I am shocked, shocked that you would expect me, an honest real estate entrepreneur, to stage an assault against Imperial law enforcement officers! It’s like you don’t know me at all!”
----“Hondo, please, can the theatrics. We’re running low on time. Can your men pull this off?”
“Well they aren’t just men, Commander. I’ll let you know that Ohnaka Enterprises is a proud equal opportunity employer of all…”
“Yes, yes, yes,” Hondo sighs, before breaking out into laughter. “Of course we can take out a few lousy Inquisitors! Real estate is so boring, you would not believe!”
-----“And the price, Hondo?”
“Ah, no there’s the fun part!” The wily old Weequay smiles. He is one space pirate turned businessman who knows a lucrative profit in the making a parsec away.
-Back on Coruscant, however, Sgt. Klink’s home leave has been rudely interrupted by a break in at his wife’s workplace. Rushing to the scene, with Hank in tow, the two begin to investigate even before the arrival of city authorities.
“It was two officers, or at least they were wearing uniforms!” the guard explains. “One blonde, the other had dark hair. The blonde one knocked me out with a cheap shot. It’s not my fault, sir. How was I supposed to know they were thieves?”
“Do you know what’s missing yet?” Klink asks his wife.
-----“They’ve taken a substantial amount of Lord Vader’s old medical supplies. They’re worth a fortune, and we were one of the only hospitals to stock them. We’ll lose our commission for this!”
----“No, nothing is getting decommissioned”, Klink assures Natalia. “I’m going to bring these nerf-herders in myself!”
“Did you find anything?” he asks Hank as they leave.
-----“I’m not that great with tech, and it looks like they wiped all the security footage. But something about all this sounds familiar. Check the entry logs at the front gate. I think I know who we’re looking for”.
-Rushing away from the hospital as fast as they can get, Hans and Ox have loaded their goods into an unmarked freighter and are hurrying to gain clearance for departure from the planet.
-----“We’ve got to get off world before they catch on to us!” Ox scrambles to arrange the proper codes. “And then just hope we don’t get inspected…”
“Captain Krillen to Captain Oxixo,” the officer’s comlink buzzes. “Your shuttle has been inspected”…
----“Oh, no!” Hans whispers.
“And cleared for takeoff. Please proceed to the launch bay”.
----“Well, that was unexpected!” Ox rolls his eyes. “Thank you crappy Coruscant security!”
-Back in the hospital, the entire building has been locked down as Lord Tarsus personally inspects the scene of the crime, his cold, heavy footsteps echoing down the halls. The guard reports the same story he told Klink. Tarsus listens calmly, his stern demeanor hiding a nightmarish emotion deep inside him, the possibility that his worst fears are coming true.
“Imbeciles!” he finally shouts. “I run an empire of idiots!”
----“Sir, you have an incoming message from Grand General Hochsetter”. Cpt. Madine reports.
“Blast it all, what does he want?”
----“He says he caught the shuttle transporting the medical supplies and placed a tracer beacon on board before letting it leave on its way”.
“What!?!?!” Tarsus finally snaps, slamming Madine back into a console with devastating force. Sparks fly as the shocked captain struggles to continue.
------“He said he wants to see where the trail leads. He says he delivered the tracer beacon to the crew of the Dauntless Knight to pursue!”
“No!” Tarsus screams, reaching out through the Force in rage. The unfortunate guard collapses to his knees, desperately gasping for his final breaths as his throat is crushed along with the ensemble of priceless equipment left in the room. “This will not pass! That old fool can not outwit me! Get me the tracker and get me Bane Malar! It’s time we end this story once and for all!”
-But there is one last pair of searchers still on the field. In a spaceport, Commander Shade toils over his old helmet as Airen Cracken looks on, pleased to be breathing in fresh air once more.
“My helmet is still connected to the Inquisitor’s communications modules, including The Dauntless Knight, which is the strike force Intelligence believes your friend is with. Using this, I think we can find them. But sir, if you don’t mind my asking, have you considered what you’ll do if it’s all true?”
“The Hank I know would never serve the Empire. He’s the most loyal man I’ve ever met. He hated the Imps more than any of us. But if they did something, some sick, twisted mindwarp on him, then I’ll do exactly what he would have wanted. Eliminate any threat to the mission of Alliance Intelligence”.
TO BE CONCLUDED!
Thanks so much for reading! I can't believe there's only one chapter left! As always, leave any comments below, they are GREATLY appreciated!