Escalation, Part II

Kahn maneuvered to a drink cart and prepared a cocktail for himself.

"Major?" he asked, turning to the up-armored officer, who was in the process of removing his helmet.

"No thank you, High Admiral" the Major replied tersely, setting his helmet and concussion rifle down in a chair.

"Your highness?" he asked, turning to the queen.

"No, I'm fine" the Queen replied.

Kahn finished mixing his drink, and turned to the large bay window overlooking the city. Kahn looked to the lights of the mammoth city, blurred by streaking raindrops. The lights of TIE Fighters and transport shuttles streaked across the skyline. He calmly sipped at his cocktail.

"What an interesting time we find ourselves in" Kahn mused. "Rather peaceful as well, most sectors of the galaxy have seen peace and civility in ways that have never been possible thanks to the rather...err...lackadaisical approach the Republic had taken" Kahn turned to the Queen, "With peace comes a sound mind, and with a sound mind comes increased productivity, and with increased productivity comes prosperity, fulfillment...happiness"

"You're quite the patriot, High Admiral" the Queen commented.

"And why not? The Empire has brought peace and order to a galaxy that has know nothing but war for countless millennia"

"At the cost of personal liberty, free speech, and widespread oppression?" The Queen said, at once regretting it. She began to fear that the Admiral would use that against her....

"We've had to curtail some aspects of culture, but tell me, what nation in our galaxy has ever abstained from curtailing liberties?" the Admiral paced around the room, sipping at his cocktail, and looking to the Queen. "You studied history in your university years, I assume. I studied it extensively, quite extensively indeed. From the earliest days of the Republic, to the Hyperspace War, the Jedi Civil War, the Cold War.....you name it, your Highness, I probably studied it. Still do, in fact. It occupies my free time while I'm away from home, keeps me sharp...."

Kahn stood across from the queen, he tilted his head and grinned, "In your studies, did you ever discover a society that was absolutely perfect?"

The Queen was silent.

"I thought so...." Kahn walked back to the window, he looked to the streets below and took note of the growing number of white dots amongst the busy walkways. He watched an AT-AT slowly rumble down the main cargo-lane. "....you have a good thing here, your Highness, retaining so much autonomy. The Emperor was most accommodating to Ayola, you kept your crown, a level of control that most planets do not enjoy, and have your own self defense forces. The Emperor did this in exchange for your loyalty....your mother was a patriotic woman, for both Ayola and the Empire"

Kahn walked along the wall, noting pictures of the deceased queen, including one of Kahn and the Queen at her last birthday ball before her death.

"Yet....you seem to resist us" Kahn said, his words chilling the Queen to the bone.

"We do not resist, we are simply in a time of...change" she said, the nuance and elegance gone from her tone.

"Change? The change was over ages ago with the signing of the treaty, this has been an Imperial planet for some time now your highness. Not much has changed since then, aside from you taking the throne, and the recent string of uprisings..." Kahn approached the queen and stood before her, he swished his drink, and did not look up from it "...which began rather disturbingly soon after you took the crown"

"It is to be expected, High Admiral. I told Moff Alvaree in our first meeting that there would be some level of disturbance...."

"I would accept that explanation if the resistance was against you, and not the Empire" Kahn said, finally looking up to the Queen. "Tell me your highness, why have you been so slow to fight back?"

"This is a delicate situation, High Admiral. We don't want to exacerbate it..."

"What concern is there to exacerbating it? Did the CIS not have influence here, and were there not protests and fighting over cession from the Republic? As I recall the military put those uprisings down fairly hard.....besides, you have the support of the entire Imperial military. Or at least you did, until we had to step in for you"

Kahn turned back to the window once more, and stood before it.

"That being said, there will be some changes to the terms of the treaty" Kahn said, finishing his drink and setting the cup down on the cart. "Starting today, the ARDF's peacekeeping operations, that entailing sector and orbital patrols, planetary patrolling, counter-insurgency, and so forth, are suspended. Imperial forces will take over until such a time when I feel that the situation is adequately resolved, and the ARDF can ensure the safety of Imperial holdings"

"What...what are we to do with them then?"

"I have my own assignments for them, but those that do not receive assignments are to report to reserve stations and remain there until further notice. I will not tolerate any interference with Imperial operations, any soldier, ship, or even droid that interferes will be handled accordingly. Additionally, since the planet is under martial law, I, as an officer of the Imperial Military, will hand down directives to the planetary Prefects personally directing their actions until further notice"

"This is an outrage! I am the sovereign of this system!" The queen yelled.

Kahn turned to the queen, "You are subservient to the Emperor, you agreed to this in the treaty. I have been entrusted with the power to act in the Emperor's name, therefore" Kahn leaned towards the queen, and was now face to face with her, "...you are subservient to me"

Kahn turned and walked back to the drink cart, mixing another cocktail.

"However, I will be removing the Prefect of Ayola Prime, Major Bandha, if you please...."

The Major approached the queen, and held up a holo-projector, displaying an arrest warrant from the ISB.

"Prefect Volgovan has been labeled as a traitor by the Imperial Security Bureau. Shortly before our arrival, the ISB turned over a litany of reports detailing illicit activity, including but not limited to arming the resistance, helping them evade Imperial capture, and...dealing with the Hutts" The Major turned off the hologram "....as we speak a team of my Deathtroopers is arresting him and his family at their home. They will be taken for questioning. Prefect Volgovan, upon termination of questioning, will be put on trial for his part in the attack on the Allecto and the Centurion."

Volgovan knew too much...he could ruin the entire operation if Bandha's men cracked him. He was loyal, though, the Queen hoped he wouldn't crack.

"He's innocent, he was just afraid of being hurt!" the Queen said, knowing that one of her closest advisers was staring down a death sentence.

"No excuses, your Highness" Kahn said, peering at the queen. "His dealings with the Hutts and the Resistance have caused enough death. Why, just earlier they resulted in an attempted attack on the Allecto, my personal flagship. If it wasn't for the , heroic actions of the Centurion, well...I'd prefer not to think of that potential outcome. Right now my men are conducting a rescue operation, and for all I know, while some abandoned ship, those that are on the Centurion could very well be dead. Imperial lives were lost today in a senseless attack that your Prefect orchestrated."

"He had nothing to do with it!" The Queen replied, her tone breaking, and her nerve gone.

"You sound awfully sympathetic to these traitors your Highness, are you conspiring with them as well?" Kahn asked.

The room fell silent, both Kahn and Bandha stared at the queen waiting for her response.

"N-no, of course not. It's just...this is a lot to process. You've arrived so suddenly and are rounding up people I consider friends..."

"Right, well, your 'friends' that we've arrested are criminals and vagrants. If your other friends are truly innocent they have nothing to worry about, as would you. We will be investigating them, after all"

The Major stepped forward once more, "We have been accompanied by Imperial Intelligence agents and ISB officers who will conduct their investigations with strategic support from myself and my troops.....as High Admiral Kahn said, if they are truly innocent, and have nothing to hide, they will be fine. If they are hiding something, however....we will find it"

The Major's cold demeanor horrified the Queen. Any semblance of humanity had long left him, all that remained was a cold, unfeeling tool of oppression.

"One final note, your highness" Kahn said, "While this is Moff Alvaree's sector, this system, this territory, is under my control. You will report directly to me for directives during the length of this mission, are we clear?"

"Yes...." the Queen said quietly.

"Good. I will dispense the first round of directives tomorrow morning. Tell your people to prepare for an audit, and warn them that if they try hide anything, or attempt to resist, I will ensure that their sentences are quite severe. Now if you excuse me, I have some other matters to attend to. Goodbye your Highness" Kahn deposited his glass on the drink cart and joined the Major, who had put his helmet back on and retrieved his rifle. The duo departed, leaving an emotionally drained Queen Cascilla alone to ponder her options.

Dark days were ahead for Ayola

Tag - Jor/Anyone else that wants to hop in

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