Aftermath (Star Wars: Aftermath #1)

Ackbar interjects: “But we also must recognize the Empire’s ability to play the long game. Our victory over Endor was fortunate, but the Empire orchestrated that trap with great patience.

And in the months since the destruction of the Empire’s dread battle station, we have already liberated countless planets in the name of the Alliance.

And the lone Jedi that exists—the son of Anakin Skywalker—possesses an untouchable soul. At least for now.

And the New Republic or the New-New Republic or the Republic We Got This Week will clamp down hard and then those people with the so-called better way will become the brave rebel alliance and the Republic will become the enemy and the wheel will turn once more.

Be patient. Be strong. Fight back where you can. The Imperial war machine falls apart one gear, one gun, one stormtrooper at a time. The New Republic is coming. And we want your help to finish the fight.

Bones!” Temmin says, throwing his arms around the droid. “I PERFORMED VIOLENCE,” the droid warbles. Jas wonders if that’s pride she hears in the thing’s discordant voice. “ROGER-ROGER.

Even a small group of people can change the galaxy.

Food for the native Ewoks.

From the box, he withdraws a helmet. Pitted and pocked, as if with some kind of acid. But still—he raps his knuckles on it. The Mandalorians knew how to make armor, didn’t they? “Look at this,” he says, holding it up. “Mandalorian battle armor. Whole box. Complete set, by the looks of it. Been through hell and back. I think my boss will appreciate this.

He's heard tales of the Clone Wars -tales spoken by his own father. He knows how war goes. It's not many wars, but just one, drawn out again and again, cut up into slices so it seems more manageable.

He staggers through the forest. The burning forest. Bits of brush smoldering. A stormtrooper helmet nearby, charred and half melted. A small fire burns nearby. In the distance, the skeleton of an AT-AT walker. Its top blown open in the blast, peeled open like a metal flower. That burns, too. Bodies all around. Some of them are faceless, nameless. To him, at least. But others, he knows. Or knew. There—the fresh-faced officer, Cerk Lormin. Good kid. Eager to please. Joined the Empire because it’s what you did. Not a true believer, not by a long stretch. Not far from him: Captain Blevins. Definitely a true believer. A froth-mouthed braggart and bully, too. His face is a mask of blood. Sinjir is glad that one is dead. Nearby, a young woman: He knows her face from the mess, but not her name, and the insignia rank on her chest has been covered in blood. Whoever she was, she’s nobody now. Mulch for the forest. Food for the native Ewoks. Just stardust and nothing. We’re all stardust and nothing, he thinks. An absurd thought. But no less absurd than the one that follows: We did this to ourselves. He should blame them. The rebels. Even now he can hear them applauding. Firing blasters into the air. Hicks and yokels. Farm boy warriors and pipe-fitter pilots. Good for them. They deserve their celebration. Just as we deserve our graves.

If ever she is to die, it should be out here, in space. Born from stardust, returned to stardust.

In the darkness, a red lightsaber rises from its hilt.

Mmph! Mmph.” Translation: The Emperor will have your heads for this.

People like the illusion of choice. Gives them comfort in these strange times.

So why, then, can’t Ackbar shake the feeling that once again they are about to fall into a trap?

Stormtroopers were literally supposed to be within the same range of height and weight in part because of exactly that—he wasn’t joking when he said he was too tall to be a stormtrooper.

Thanks, Darth Obvious. Or is it Emperor Palpable?

That’s a lesson we could stand to learn. Imperials are just like us. Some of them, at least. It’s easy to label those who serve the Galactic Empire as pure evil, all enemy, but truth is, a lot of those who do so were either sold a bill of lies, or forced to by threat of pain or death.

The droid stands up. Servomotors whir as it regards its repaired arm—an arm that’s not so much an arm as it is an astromech leg. It spins the leg around, slow at first, then faster and faster until it’s just a blur. “THIS IS NOT MY ARM.” “I know, Bones. Sorry.” “THIS IS AN ASTROMECH LEG.” “No, no, I know.” “ASTROMECHS ARE INFERIOR. THEY ARE BEEPING BOOPING TRASH CANS. I AM MADE INFERIOR BY THE INCLUSION OF THIS NON-ARM.

The Empire is a thug, a bully. It’s no better than Surat Nuat, or Black Sun, or the syndicate of Hutts. The Empire pretends it’s about law and order, but at the end of the day, it’s about dressing up oppression in the costume of justice.

The Empire was not known for its roomy architecture. It was fond of austere pragmatism (that term, austere pragmatism, or sometimes pragmatic austerity, found its way atop many Imperial brochures and propaganda tracts), and so kept its hallways low and narrow.

The tyrant Palpatine is dead. But the fight isn’t over. The war goes on even as the Empire’s power diminishes. But we are here for you. Know that wherever you are, no matter how far out into the Outer Rim you dwell, the New Republic is coming to help. Already we’ve captured dozens of Imperial capital ships and Destroyers—

The woman standing there is in a crisp admiral’s uniform. She’s dark-skinned, with cold brown eyes to match.

They raise their blasters as she lowers hers. “I’m sorry, Captain,” she says. Then, to her backup: “Arrest him. Take him to detention level—No. Wait.” She snaps her fingers. “Have him shackled and taken to my shuttle. Have a medical droid in attendance.” With a stiff smile she says (as if for his approval): “We are not animals.

This is democracy,” she says. “It is strange. And it is messy. It’s not about getting it right. It’s about trying to get it right. Yes, it’s a bit chaotic. Certainly we will get some things wrong. The Empire? They cared nothing for democracy. They valued order above everything else. They wanted to be right so badly that anybody who even hinted at getting it wrong or doing it differently was branded the enemy and thrown in a dark prison somewhere. They destroyed other voices so that only their own remained.

Walls tagged with graffiti (one such piece of tagging: a stencil of a familiar Sith Lord’s helmet with the phrase beneath it reading VADER LIVES).

War is not a state of being. It is meant to be a temporary chaos between periods of peace.

War is not a state of being. It is meant to be a temporary chaos between periods of peace. Some want it to be a course of things: a default fact of existence. But I will not let that be so.

You chastise the dark side as if it is an evil path, laughable for its malevolence. But do not confuse it with evil. And do not confuse the light as being the product of benevolence. The Jedi of old were cheats and liars. Power-hungry maniacs operating under the guise of a holy monastic order. Moral crusaders whose diplomacy was that of the lightsaber. The dark side is honest. The dark side is direct. It is the knife in the front rather than one stuck in your back. The dark side is self-interested, yes, but it is about extending that interest outward. To yourself, but then beyond yourself. Palpatine cared about the galaxy. He did not wrest control simply to have power for himself—he already had power, as chancellor. He wanted to take power from those who abused it. He wanted to extend control and safety to the people of all worlds. That came with costs. He knew them and lamented them. But paid them just the same because the dark side understands that everything has a cost, and the cost must always be paid.