Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Warfare Author’s Cut, Part 11: Serving the Empire

Welcome to the 11th of 12 articles revealing — for the first time ever — material cut from The Essential Guide to Warfare before its April 2012 publication. Each section will be preceded by brief comments discussing why the material wound up on the cutting-room floor.

Marvel's Star Wars #29

A SOLDIER’S STORY: ATTACK AT DONIPHON

Jason Fry: I’ve loved Valance the Hunter since encountering him in the late 1970s in Marvel’s Star Wars run – Valance’s showdown with Darth Vader in Star Wars #29 (penned by Archie Goodwin) is one of the best tales in all of Legends. A decade ago I expanded his backstory for a series of now-lost Star Wars Miniatures adventures for Wizards of the Coast, giving him the first name Beilert and the homeworld Shinbone. Both were homages to “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” though I now regret “Beilert” – like a lot of anagrams, it sounds clunky and fake. Anyway, given Valance’s past as a stormtrooper, a star turn for him in Warfare was high on my wish list. I like this piece, but as with many of the “short story” sidebars it was really long, and dropping it was a quick way to get the manuscript closer to its maximum allowable length.

Erich Schoeneweiss: This is one of many reasons I enjoy working with Jason, his love and knowledge of the Legends material is fantastic. This is a fun story, but I wouldn’t have hesitated to cut it – it doesn’t offer the reader any new information that isn’t presented elsewhere. On a side note, I do love that in the comic book Darth Vader calls Valance a “bounty chaser.”

Valance

Audio recording made at Anglebay Station on Telos IV, Kwymar Sector, Outer Rim Territories, 17 BBY:

4A8-RA-7: RZ-179, are you awake? RZ-179? Switching mode. Sergeant? Sergeant Valance? Switching mode. Beilert?

Subject: What happened? Wh-where am I? The Imsoo?

4A8-RA-7: Sergeant Valance, do you remember the encounter on Doniphon?

Subject: Doniphon …

4A8-RA-7: What is the last thing you remember, Sergeant?

Subject: Remember? I don’t … ah. Kriff it.

4A8-RA-7: You have remembered?

Subject: Rebels. They were dug into the Selpathian Hills, low on ammunition. We were on the plain, manning the AV-9. Somehow they got a transmission through the jamming. The rebels at Damatua sent starfighters.

4A8-RA-7: What model starfighter?

Subject: Split-wings. ARC-170s, maybe. Or some kind of Z-95. HUD never painted them with a positive ID. They came from the east, from behind. And then … and then I don’t remember. Why don’t I…?

4A8-RA-7: The day before the attack, you cleared an outpost near the Pyrand River.

Subject: Something bad happened. Or I wouldn’t be here in the Imsoo.

4A8-RA-7: The Pyrand outpost. You cleared tunnels beneath a warehouse. It was fighting at close quarters, Sergeant. Tell me about the rebels at the Pyrand outpost.

Subject: What’s to tell? They were rebels. We terminated them.

4A8-RA-7: How were they equipped, Sergeant? What were their weapons?

Subject: Pistols. They had DH-17s.

4A8-RA-7: In what condition?

Subject: Condition? They were … they were new.

4A8-RA-7: You are certain?

Subject: Yes. Some of them still had lubricant around the power packs. I noticed that. And the holsters. The holsters were new leather.

4A8-RA-7: You are certain?

Subject: I just said so, you kriffing tinnie. Why am I in the Imsoo? What happened to me?

4A8-RA-7: Did they say anything, Sergeant? The rebels?

Subject: Yes. We intercepted their transmissions, heard them yelling to each other.

4A8-RA-7: Did you notice any distinctive accents? Speech patterns?

Subject: What?

4A8-RA-7: Did you notice distinctive accents? Speech –

Subject: I heard you. I was thinking, that’s all. My head is killing me. And my chest … it’s itching.

4A8-RA-7: Attention to your minor ailments can wait, Sergeant. Did you notice –

Subject: They weren’t Rimmers. The officers, at least. They sounded like Core.

4A8-RA-7: Core accents, you mean?

Subject: Yeah.

4A8-RA-7: Were the accents the same, or different?

Subject: I don’t remember. My head…

4A8-RA-7: What did the accent sound like? Was it Chandrilan?

Subject: Do I look like I’ve got a language module installed, tinnie? You want to research accents, you storm the next reb nest. Fill your little audio receptors right up to the top.

4A8-RA-7: Switching mode. That is all that will be required, Sergeant.

Subject: Wait a minute! When am I getting out of the Imsoo?

4A8-RA-7: This is not an Imperial Mobile Surgical Unit. You are at Anglebay Station on Telos IV.

Subject: Telos? Away from the front? What happened to me? To my platoon?

4A8-RA-7: A torpedo impact destroyed the AV-9. Your platoon sustained 21 casualties, 16 KIA. The rebels in the Selpathian Hills were terminated in a subsequent action.

Subject: And they took me to Telos? How long have I been in the tank? Is that why I have this kriffing itch? And why my face is numb?

4A8-RA-7: You have been here for 271 standard hours. You were not given bacta treatments because your prognosis was rated poor and bacta supplies were prioritized for higher-ranking personnel.

Subject: I haven’t been in the tank? But I feel …

4A8-RA-7: You betray no ill effects from the surgery.

Subject: Surgery? My face … it feels wrong. What happened to me? What were my injuries?

4A8-RA-7: I am required elsewhere, Sergeant. Reports indicate you sustained substantial blast and burn damage to the left side of your head and torso. The relevant body components could not be saved.

Subject: What? My face!

4A8-RA-7: Sergeant Valance. Stop. The synth-flesh is a coating. It is not bonded to the cybernetic parts, and is slow to self-knit if flensed.

Subject: MY FACE! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO MY FACE?

4A8-RA-7: Switching to external transmission mode. Security, report to Patient In-Bay 27 immediately.

Subject: NO! NO! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO MY FACE? WHAT HAVE YOU –

Transmission ends.

The Tyrant - Star Destroyer

A SOLDIER’S STORY: HIT BY AN ION CANNON

Jason Fry: Call this a “missing piece” from one of the movies – I was always curious what it would be like to be aboard a warship knocked out by an ion cannon, and the fate of the Tyrant in The Empire Strikes Back was the perfect chance to play with that. I like this piece, but as I’ve said before, the “short story” sidebars were the easiest to cut.

Erich Schoeneweiss: This is a great idea and a story I might have tried to include: It’s a moment from the movies that many readers will recognize and presents new information. But I don’t think it goes far enough. Had I chosen to include it I would have pressed Jason to expand upon it. Is the ship plunged into darkness? Are there emergency generators? How are life-support functions affected and how long will they be operational – or, if they’ve been knocked out, how long can the crew survive? Is the crew able to make repairs and restore some ship functions? Are the escape pods operational? Communications? What kinds of contingency plans/training are in place for such a moment? How does the rescue operation work, if there is one? Jason opened the door a crack to a much larger discussion that I would love to see explored.

“Sir! Rebel ships are coming into our sector!”

Hearing Lieutenant Cabbel’s eager report, Captain Xamuel Lennox allowed himself a slight smile.

“Good,” he said, loud enough for the crew to hear, his hands kept folded behind his back. “Our first catch of the day.”

Captain Xamuel Lennox aboard the Star Destroyer Tyrant

The frozen wastes of Hoth filled the viewports of the Tyrant’s bridge. If Darth Vader was correct, a rebel base was buried somewhere down there – and the rebels would be scrambling ships for a frantic trip up the gravity well. Lennox didn’t know what the rebels had — snubfighters, gunboats or capital ships – but it didn’t matter. His Tyrant awaited them on point, and behind her were the five other Star Destroyers of Death Squadron, arranged in a heavy attack line and backed up by the mighty Executor.

“Captain! Sensors paint three ships inbound from planetside! Two fighters and a transport!”

“All stations, prepare to fire on my mark.”

Lennox noted the flurry of activity in the bridge pits in his peripheral vision, but kept his eyes fixed dead ahead, awaiting contact.

“Captain, Com-Scan reports power fluctuations on the surface!”

Of what sort? Lennox wondered. He was opening his mouth to ask for clarification when it happened.

Lennox never saw the incoming rebel ships – they were still too far away to be visible. His eyes barely registered the brilliant orange lances of fire that emerged from the white expanse before him, but years of training allowed his brain to identify them and what they meant in the second before they passed through the Tyrant’s shields and slammed into her hull, impacting first her dorsal superstructure and then her conning tower.

Ion cannon.

The impact wasn’t as powerful as a turbolaser blast, but it still knocked Lennox to the deck and sent his cap skittering across the durasteel. He stared at the lost cap, blinking away the orange spots left on his vision.

It wasn’t just his vision, he realized – the Tyrant’s bridge had been plunged into darkness, lit only by the reflected light of the planet outside. Blue sparks arced over the darkened consoles of the bridge pits. Cabbel was barking orders no one was listening to. Crewmen were reporting that they couldn’t get power readings. A droid let out a mechanical screech that decayed into a burbling underwater groan. Something twitched madly in Lennox’s right hip, forcing his booted toe to tap out a staccato rhythm on the deck. It was his myoelectric hip replacement, he realized – overwhelmed by the surge of energy like everything else.

“All stations report!” Cabbel barked again.

“Belay that,” Lennox said, trying to calm his twitching leg and get to his feet. The Tyrant had rolled to starboard and pitched forward, guided by whichever engines had been the last to fail. She was in no danger of impacting the planet, Lennox noted, but had rolled off the point position in the heavy attack line. The Accuser would have to come up to take her place. At least, Lennox thought, there was little danger that the rebels would send fighters to finish his ship off. He doubted they’d be able to spare them, given the need to protect their transports and evade the rest of Death Squadron.

And then Lennox began to float. The artificial gravity had failed as the command bridge’s backup generator fell prey to the charged particles playing havoc with the ship’s systems. He grabbed for a handhold and secured himself, watching Cabbel tumble end over end in consternation while the bridge crew gaped up at him from where they sat strapped into their stations. Datapads and rank cylinders and duty caps made for a mass of aerial flotsam.

Ion cannon – and not a ship-mounted one, either. Bigger than that. Planetary emplacement.

The myriad systems of the Tyrant normally produced a constant thrum that was both a low sound and a faint vibration felt through the deck. That vibration could drive some midshipmen mad, leaving them unable to sleep or think – nearly every Academy class had one or two members whose first training cruise was their last. Lennox had never minded the thrum – in fact, he missed it when he was dirtside. It was his ship’s heartbeat, now stilled. The Tyrant was silent save for Cabbel’s sputtering and the crew’s useless status reports. She was dead in space — and she would remain that way, Lennox realized with a scowl, until after the outcome of the Battle of Hoth had been decided.

WAR PORTRAIT: ADMIRAL MOTTI

Jason Fry: I like this piece’s material about Motti’s early Imperial service and the exploration of the divide between older officers who saw the Empire as an improvement on the institutions of the Republic and younger, more political officers who saw the Empire as a break with the past. But the rest of it felt like a rehash of the inter-service rivalries and military philosophies already explored in The Essential Atlas. I tried cutting that stuff, but then the piece felt too short to stand alone. Rather than keep trying to ram a square peg into a round hole, I chucked it.

Born on Seswenna, Conan Antonio Motti was a member of a wealthy, influential family several ranks below the Tarkins and the rest of the Quintad, but nonetheless a name to be reckoned with. (Motti and Wilhuff Tarkin were related by marriage: Tarkin’s wife Thalassa was a Motti.)

Admiral Motti

Motti was a teenager during the Clone Wars, and thrilled to the exploits of the Outland Regions Security Force, reserving his enmity for the Republic bureaucrats and Jedi Knights who he felt hamstrung the ORSF and prosecuted the war incompetently from the distant Core. Motti cheered when word came that the Jedi had been revealed as traitors and extinguished, and felt deeply moved by Palpatine’s declaration that the New Order would sweep away the corruption and vacillation of previous ages. He became an active member of his local Sub-Adult Group within the Seswenna chapter of the Committee to Preserve the New Order, and earned an Academy commission to Prefsbelt, followed by an appointment to Anaxes.

As a cadet, Motti was notable more for his firebrand politics than his academic achievement, but he was exactly the sort of new, ruthless Imperial that Palpatine and his advisors wanted to fill the Navy’s ranks. He rose quickly, earning a reputation as an officer who never hesitated to use force or apologized for having done so. Motti ended the dispute over the Mhalanduin Reformation by annihilating the top ranks of both families and appointing his own hand-picked general as regent, and he cut a swath through Wild Space beyond the Western Reaches, his cruisers’ turbolasers incinerating any who dared protest the arrival of Imperial authority. As Motti saw it, the Empire had taken the galactic stage at a time of unprecedented promise, and its representatives were duty-bound to see that the goals of the New Order were pursued everywhere. Parochial concerns were nothing compared with the priorities of the Empire, and those who couldn’t put aside such concerns had to be removed, by any means necessary.

Within the Imperial Navy, Motti saved his greatest contempt for the “generationals” whose families had served the Judicials or Planetary Security Forces for centuries. Their loyalty wasn’t to the Empire but to their own service, and to perpetuating its power and prestige. Moreover, Motti thought the generationals believed in outdated ideas about the projection of military power: As he saw it, the Navy couldn’t be everywhere, so it should bring overwhelming force against any planet that dared oppose the Empire, in hopes that the next world would consider the consequences of disobedience more carefully.

Motti’s ruthless views attracted the notice of Grand Moff Tarkin, who chose him as the Navy’s representative on the Death Star. Motti soon became the battle station’s greatest champion, telling any who would listen that the Death Star was the missing piece of the military philosophy he’d held for so long. Established doctrine held that the Navy commanded space, protecting the Army during ground assaults. But the Death Star changed everything: The mere threat of a visit from the battle station would free the Army to act, leaving the Navy’s endless parade of battleships superfluous.

Motti’s views were opposed by General Tagge, who doubted that the Death Star alone could protect the Army, and warned that the rebel fleet was more dangerous than Motti and Tarkin thought. The two men argued frequently and vociferously, with Motti mocking Tagge for his devotion to a rival service’s starfleet.

But the man Motti truly hated was Darth Vader, the Emperor’s emissary. Motti continually urged Tarkin to make use of the Death Star, hinting that the man who controlled the battle station could become Emperor in short order. But Motti suspected Vader had similar ideas, and that the Sith Lord’s first act under an Emperor Tarkin would be to eliminate his rivals. Motti didn’t dare oppose Vader openly, but seized every opportunity to criticize and belittle him in front of Tarkin.

Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Warfare  is the definitive guide to the ultimate intergalactic battlefield. Packed with original full-color artwork, it includes facts, figures, and fascinating backstories of major clashes and combatants in the vast Star Wars universe.

 

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