After the humiliating theft of the Death Star plans and the destruction of the battle station, the Empire is on the defensive. Read more...
- Publisher: Books on Tape
- Date: July 2017
From the cover
The firm control of one's emotions was an unspoken criterion for those who would serve the Empire. One did not gloat, or cheer, or weep, or rage, although cold fury was, upon occasion, deemed an appropriate reaction to particular circumstances.
Senior Lieutenant Iden Versio had been familiar with this stipulation since she was old enough to understand the concept. Even so, now, at this hour of the Empire's unequivocal and absolute triumph, the young woman raced across the gleaming black surface of the Death Star's corridors with her helmet cradled in one arm, trying and failing to smother a grin.
Today, of all days, why shouldn't she smile, at least when no one was watching?
When her orders had come to serve on the space station—which a scant few hours ago had reduced an entire planet into rocky chunks of glorious rebel rubble—Iden had endured resentful, sidelong glances followed by murmurs pitched exactly too softly for her to catch. But Iden didn't need to hear the words. She knew what the others were saying about her. It was nothing more than a variant on what had always been said about her.
She's too young for this position. She couldn't have earned it on her own.
She got it because of her father.
The self-righteous mutterers would have been startled to discover the degree to which their assumptions were wrong.
Inspector General Garrick Versio might well be one of the highest- ranking members of the powerful and secretive Imperial Security Bureau, but Iden had gotten nothing out of the joyless task of being his daughter. Every honor, every grade, every opportunity she'd had, she'd fought for and obtained despite him.
She'd been primed for the military academy while barely more than a child, studying at the Future Imperial Leaders Military Preparatory School on her homeworld of Vardos, located in the Jinata system, where she had, literally, been bloodied. There, and afterward at the Imperial Academy on Coruscant, Iden had graduated top of her class, with honors.
All that felt like a mere prelude to this moment. For the last several months, Iden had been part of a small, elite TIE fighter unit aboard what was arguably the pinnacle of Imperial design—the massive space station known as the Death Star. And she was rather unprofessionally excited.
Even as she tried to rein in her enthusiasm, she could sense that others hastening to their own TIE fighters shared it. They betrayed themselves with the surging tattoo of booted footfalls, their upright positions, even the brightness in their eyes.
It wasn't new, this happy tension. Iden had seen it bubbling under the surface after the first test of the station's capabilities, when the Death Star's superlaser had targeted and obliterated Jedha City. The Empire had landed a one-two punch in a handful of seconds. It had destroyed not only the rebel terrorist Saw Gerrera and his group of extremists known as the partisans, but also the ancient Temple of the Kyber, held sacred by those who secretly hoped for the return of the disgraced and defeated Jedi. Jedha City represented the first real demonstration of the station's power, but that fact was known only to those who served on the Death Star.
For now. To the rest of the galaxy, what had happened at Jedha was a tragic mining accident.
Things had happened with shocking speed after that, as if some galactic balance had suddenly, drastically, been tipped. The super-laser was again employed at the Battle of Scarif, this time wiping out an entire region and several rebel ships trapped under Scarif 's...