In this episode of author Mark Wooden’s “Star Wars” fanfiction, ISB agent Kaila Ores returns home to Naboo and reports to her superiors there. Meanwhile, Jedi Nile Chinelo continues her Order 66 story.
Kaila Ores made a point of entering the Lambda-class shuttle’s cockpit upon its approach to Naboo. She looked out the transparisteel cockpit window at the planet above them.
Its lush forests and uncontaminated oceans made Naboo a blue-green ball that brought back Kaila’s memories of her childhood spent there during the last years of the Clone Wars.
“Problem, Agent Ores?” the pilot asked, pulling Kaila from the tranquil thoughts of the past to the dreary work of her present.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been home,” Kaila said. “It’s nice to see it looking as beautiful as ever.”
“Much more beautiful than that rock Odoum,” the pilot said.
Kaila looked knowingly at the gray dirt on her usually immaculate white tunic.
Half an hour later, the shuttle landed on a pad near the royal palace. As she disembarked, Kaila breathed in the fresh air, a contrast to the artificial atmosphere back on Odoum. She also basked in the warmth of Naboo’s sun.
Yes, this was a welcome homecoming.
Those good feelings were minimized by the Imperial stormtroopers approaching Kaila and her two troopers.
It was a hero’s welcome; Kaila reminded herself this was all part of the plot she must play to advance her mission, one that wasn’t on the Imperial agenda.
A blonde woman in the white tunic and black pants of the ISB led the stormtroopers. She had a rigid walk alluding to the arrogance typical of high-ranking Imperials in prize positions.
When the ISB agent reached Kaila, she extended a hand. “Welcome home, Agent Ores,” she said in a pleasant tone. “Commander Coleeli Rundsor.”
The senior agent smiled when Kaila shook her hand. The junior agent saw no warmth in the smile. Instead, Kaila felt the woman’s eyes scanning her, determining her worth.
This close to Rundsor, Kaila guessed she was in her late thirties. The woman maintained her appearance as if she were a HoloNet celebrity rather than a top ISB official.
Using her special ability, Kaila scanned for Rundsor’s thoughts. She didn’t catch anything specific from the woman but did get a sense of her ambition.
A year ago, when Kaila had last visited Naboo, Rundsor wasn’t here. Somehow, she’d earned the coveted spot of the leader of the Imperial Security Bureau on the emperor’s homeworld.
“Thank you for the escort, commander,” Kaila said, flashing the kindest smile she could muster while hoping it was less fake than Rundsor’s smile. “But as you probably know I’m from Naboo. I can find my way around.”
Releasing Kaila’s hand, Rundsor said, “That’s why I’m here. Can’t have you wondering about when Grand Moff Tretyro insists you report directly to him and the queen. I’m to ensure that happens.”
Kaila knew him well and owed him much. She would return what she owed and more, for he was her personal mission. The junior ISB agent caught herself before her expression darkened at the thought of Tretyro.
“Is this escort a welcome party or armed guards?” Kaila asked.
Rundsor hesitated. Before things got too uncomfortable, Kaila flashed a warm smile and said, “Take me to your leader.”
Commander Rundsor led Kaila (sans her troopers) to the throne room of Queen Dalné.
The queen, all of eighteen years, sat upon her throne expecting the ISB agents. She wore the regal gown befitting her status, with several ladies-in-waiting at her side.
Naboo magistrates (stodgy older men in high-end suits) stood alongside the queen.
Grand Moff Tretyro immediately caught Kaila’s eye — and her ire. He sat to her right on a lower tier of the room in a chair nearly as ornate as the queen’s throne.
Tretyro wore the uniform of an Imperial advisor, like that of the ISB agents but a solid black. It matched well with the man’s deep brown skin. His close-cropped, yet full head of silver hair contrasted the look by adding a hint of the regal.
Kaila knew him to be as regal as the snake in the ancient fairy tale of the Garden of Eden.
The Grand Moff had several similarly uniformed advisors and a few stormtroopers in his presence, openly contrasting his power against that of the queen. It was a habit he’d developed since coming into the role of Moff two years prior.
In Kaila’s opinion, Tretyro had been a pain in the Naboo monarchy’s ass on behalf of the emperor for far longer than two years.
“Welcome, Agent Ores,” Tretyro said in his condescending voice. “We’re honored to have you return under much better circumstances than last time.”
Kaila noted the queen’s side eye reaction to Tretyro speaking first. An off-worlder from Coruscant, the man never had any respect for Naboo tradition.
Unfortunately, his position as the emperor’s pet forced the queen and her citizens to deal with his constant microaggressions.
In speaking of Kaila’s previous visit, the moff referred to Kaila having returned home to bury her father.
Accused of being a Rebel, he’d been cut down by stormtrooper blasters. This was on top of his previous record as a smuggler, a claim Kaila knew to be false.
Tretyro was openly engaged in an affair with Kaila’s mother before her father’s body was cold in the ground.
Turning to the queen she bowed slightly and said, “Greetings, your majesty.” To Tretyro Kaila stood and said,“Thank you, Grand Moff.”
Kaila noted Tretyro’s displeasure with being addressed second.
Queen Dalné acknowledged Kaila with a slow nod. Kaila’s show of respect had softened her expression since enduring Tretyro’s lack of respect.
“What information do you bring us from Odoum?” the queen asked. “Are the conditions as dangerous as the leaked video would have the galaxy believe?”
“With respect, my queen,” Kaila began, “that wasn’t the reason for my mission there. I’m to find the source of the leak and close it.”
“Understood,” the queen said. “But surely a woman as observant as yourself notices things outside of her mission parameters.”
“That is a matter for the Empire,” Tretyro cut in. His outburst earned further side-eye from the queen.
“The safety of my citizens, even those directly under the Empire’s employ, are always my first concern,” the queen said.
Even with the monotone she, like all the Naboo queens before her, employed, Dalné’s disgust with Tretyro was evident.
Kaila would remember that.
“As it should be,” Tretyro said, seemingly ignorant to the monarch’s disposition. “But Agent Ores’s concern is the leak.”
Tretyro looked expectantly at Kaila.
“Which I have uncovered,” she said. “As suspected, there are Rebel spies at the mining facility on Odoum.”
Tretyro revealed a self-serving grin.
Kaila continued. “They have informed me there are also spies here on Naboo.”
Kaila took pleasure in watching Tretyro’s grin turn into a snarl. “On the emperor’s homeworld?” he said like a dinner guest who received an outrageous bill. “Inconceivable!”
To her credit, the queen maintained her stoic disposition. Her advisors… not so much. They began chattering like a bunch of school children.
Tretyro’s harsh glare fell upon Commander Rundsor, who stood a few steps behind Kaila.
“We have no such reports of Rebel activity on the planet,” Rundsor said unprompted.
“I follow the investigation where it leads,” Kaila said. Looking straight at Tretyro, she added, “Moff Tretyro insisted he’d rounded up my father’s Rebel cell a year ago. Perhaps he was… premature in his assessment?”
Clone trooper CT-1780 opened fire on Nile.
The Jedi swung her lightsaber in front of her hoping to deflect the blaster bolt. The surprise of the attack from a once loyal companion threw her ability. The bolt slipped past her blade, striking her side.
The Jedi’s teeth ground against the pain. She needed time to reflect on this new situation. The troopers were trained not to give her that time. Nile also couldn’t leave her padawan Kanto behind.
Summoning the Force, Nile leaped toward the three clone troopers at the hangar entrance. Proximity effectively nullified the use of their blasters.
Nile attacked CT-1780 before her feet had landed. She cut the trooper down, telling herself it was in self-defense. Landing, Nile then spun and sliced the next closest trooper’s blaster in half.
The third trooper raised his blaster at her, taking the chance he would hit the Jedi and not his fellow trooper.
Behind her, Nile heard Kanto say, “What’s the meaning of this?”
Next, she heard blaster fire, presumably from the fourth trooper on the opposite side of the hangar doorway with Kanto.
“What are you doing, CT-1741!” Kanto asked in a panic.
At least that meant he was still alive.
Unfortunately, Nile’s combatants prevented her from paying further attention to her padawan.
The third trooper fired at Nile. This time the Jedi successfully deflected the blaster bolt, sending it harmlessly against the hallway wall.
The trooper who’d lost his blaster to Nile’s lightsaber threw a punch at the Jedi. He connected with Nile’s side, knocking her back a few steps.
Nile heard Kanto’s lightsaber ignite behind her. “Stay back!” he warned.
CT-1741 fired again on Kanto. Nile heard the bolt reflected from Kanto’s lightsaber. He hadn’t seen real combat, but he had excelled in his lightsaber studies.
The Jedi Master pressed forward, slashing at the trooper on her side who still held his blaster. She struck him down, and then took the opportunity to glance at Kanto.
He had successfully deflected CT-1741’s first shot but had somehow lost his lightsaber in the process. Jedi Nile Chinelo could only stand and watch as the crazed trooper aimed his blaster at Kanto’s chest.
To be continued…