This is the 8th article in the Timeline series explaining the alternative history of Star Wars Interregnum. You can catch up on the previous events here.
Three years after Endor (7 ABY)
Prince Isolder of Hapes took the turbolift to the hangar bay with a mild scowl on his face. He had spent the last year relentlessly carrying out military drills and wargames with the Hapan Navy. The war between the Warlord Zsinj and the Advent had brought the chaos engulfing the rest of the galaxy to the Star Cluster’s door step, and Isolder was committed to ensuring any violation of Hapan sovereignty was quickly repulsed. His flagship, the Song of War, was quite Spartan compared to the Royal Palace, but it provided a welcome break from his overbearing mother, Ta'a Chume.
Unfortunately, his respite was at an end. The Queen Mother had summoned his fleet back to Hapes, and curiously had requested a meeting with him in the Song of War’s conference room...
…”You’ve done an excellent job keeping our fleet at a high degree of readiness Isolder.” Ta’a Chume announced to the dozen people sitting at the table. Isolder stopped his concealed glaring at his mother’s guests, a pair of hooded women with faintly glowing blue eyes. His mother rarely gave out praise for no reason. To her it was only a tool for manipulation.
“But I am pleased to reveal that we will soon be able to increase it to levels never before seen in Hapan, or even Galactic, history.” We now have access to a method of communication that will allow instantaneous updates and messages. A method that cannot be jammed, disabled, or stolen by our enemies, and can even reach ships in hyperspace.”
Admiral Kris’na, the official commander of Isolder’s task force, was the first to respond. “That sounds like an incredible technology our scientists have developed, Queen Mother. When can we expect to have it installed aboard our ships?”
Ta’a Chume smiled. “It is not our scientists we have to thank admiral, but our guests.” She gestured to the hooded women. “Now I realize there are some terrible rumors about the Advent that you may have heard. That they brainwash their people, engage in human sacrifice, or worse of all, that they are essentially just Jedi from another galaxy. But I have spent much time studying them, and talking to their emissaries, and have determined that they are categorically false. They are almost certainly rumors started by their old adversaries who arrived in the galaxy first.”
“What is true is that each and every one of them have linked their minds, forming a bond known as the Unity. With just one Advent adviser on each of our warships, we can use this bond to our advantage. To allow the fleet to always be aware of what each part is doing. To fight with a cohesion we have never had before.”
Isolder tried to hide his surprise as much as he could. “Queen Mother, are you suggesting letting foreign officers on every ship in our fleet. Would that not also give the Advent all this information? We would be entirely at their mercy if they decided to annex the Hapes Cluster.”
“They will not be foreign officers - at least, in the long term. Our new allies are already training the first Hapan Psintegrates. I expect it will only take a few years to resume using entirely Hapan crews. In just a few months they have managed to teach me how to communicate telepathically with my Royal Guard.” She smiled. “I have great plans for the Unity, and the Unity has great plans for Hapes. It is a natural alliance.”
“Yes, Queen Mother” - The room said in unison. As Isolder stood, he caught Admiral Kris’na’s eye. With a single look, they were thinking the same thing - all without any psychic ability.
The Queen Mother had been compromised.
Long isolated from the rest of the galaxy, the outbreak of the Hapan Civil War was sudden and unexpected. Soon after receiving the first set of Advent military advisers, soldiers loyal to Crown Prince Isolder killed their supposed new allies and rebelled against Queen Mother Ta’a Chume. Their first move was to besiege the capital of Hapes, with the hopes of capturing Ta’a Chume and force her to resume Hapes long standing policy of Isolationism.
At first things went well for Isolder. His well disciplined forces easily routed the surprised Hapes planetary defense fleet, who stayed loyal to the Queen Mother. Not wanting to cause any more bloodshed than absolutely necessary, Isolder let all fleeing forces escape. It proved to be a costly mistake.
The planetary shield protecting Hapes proved more difficult and time consuming to break. Before it could be taken down, the Queen’s loyalist forces returned - this time with a Squadron of Advent warships supporting them. Trapped between the planet and the enemy reinforcements, the second phase of the Battle of Hapes was a bloody close range brawl of an intensity not seen since the Battle of Coruscant in the Clone Wars. Eventually Isolder’s forces managed to break out of the encirclement and flee the planet, but they failed to prevent Hapes from joining the Advent.
With a large Advent Fleet now supporting her, the majority of the Hapan Navy stayed loyal to Ta’a Chume. With Advent advisers on her ships, the Queen Mother now had a level of control over the military that far exceeded her predecessors. Without many reinforcements from his compatriots, Isolder was expelled from the Hapes Cluster. His forces made a daring dash through recently occupied Advent territory and arrived at the New Republic border, where they claimed asylum. After negotiating with the newly married Leia Organa Solo, Isolder’s Hapan Resistance joined the New Republic in exchange for assistance with liberating their home from Ta’a Chume and the Unity.
Rayuth Voll, Regional Shipyard Director of MandalMotors, was once again having a long week. Four new space docks had come online at his facility, along with the associated marathon sessions of hiring, logistical problems, and occasional industrial accident. These were the days when he wondered if the job security brought by Mandalore’s incredibly rapid naval expansion was worth all the grey hairs he was getting.
A few moments after sitting down at his desk, a deep voice smashed the silence of what he thought was his empty office.
“Good evening director.” A rugged man with long, silver hair suddenly appeared to his right with the switch of a personal cloaking device. “No need to call security” he continued as he saw Rayuth’s startled expression “This is a friendly chat. And besides, I already took the liberty of jamming all communication devices in this room.”
Rayuth stopped mid reach for his comlink and yelled “Usenye!... What the hell do you want then?” as he tried to regain his composure.
The man smiled “I’ve got a deal for you. One I expect will be quite beneficial to your career as a big bureaucrat. Not that it’s any Mandalorian’s dream job.”
“Someone has to do it. I’m listening.”
“First, what I want. I’m going to need one of your facility’s large space docks. And generous amounts of the armor plating, turbolaser cannons, and shield generators you’re using to build this little fleet.” He gestured to the orbital shipyards outside the office window. “In exchange, I will give MandalMotors the technical readouts to a whole new warship with state of the art technology.”
Rayuth snorted “We hardly have a shortage of new types of starships in production.”
“Right, but this one is different. Top secret Imperial design. Never even been used in combat before. Now I’m not a physicist or weapons engineer, but from what my guys can tell, this thing can level cities with a single blast and raze mid tier planetary defenses in under an hour. Its primary weapon and hypermatter reactor are unlike anything currently in use.”
“And how exactly did a man such as yourself get access to these top secret Imperial plans?”
“Oh, I have more than just plans. I have possession of the prototype as well. But that’s not on the table. You see, it’s pretty bare bones right now. Just enough of a frame to house the main weapon system, power generator and engines for testing. It wouldn’t last long at all in a real fight. But if you finish it for me, turn it into a proper warship, then you can use the plans and whatever you learn from working on my demonstration model to produce your own version of this technology.”
“But to answer you original question” he went on “I run a smuggling ring specializing at operating from within the Imperial military. One of my contacts got wind of some strange movements within the deep core, all as top secret as they can get. I found a little research base there over a no name planet that seems to have kept operating somehow despite Vader’s purge of experimental weapons projects. My gang managed to infiltrate the supply lines of this AGGRESSOR Project - there's not too many sources of Kyber crystals after all, but I was caught while trying to hack into the facility’s database.”
“I spent a good few years in a detention block there. Not sure why they didn’t send me to a labor camp, but who am I to question luck. The real silver lining wasn’t evident until one day the facility began an evacuation. For some reason they seemed spooked by being detected by an Imperial patrol… maybe some weird inner Moff rivalry. But it was just the break I needed. With almost everyone gone I managed to break free and reestablish contact with my compatriots. We copied their data and stole the prototype before anyone was the wiser.”
“Why didn’t these researchers take the prototype with them if it was so valuable?” Rayuth skeptically asked.
“Their evacuation was quite hasty and disorganized. But it seems that the project was never intended as a candidate for final production.The series of weapon tests they did with it was successful enough for their purposes.”
The man threw a datapad on Rayuth’s desk. “You can find the recordings of those tests on this device. Maybe the Empire has something more ambitious planned for this technology, but I am confident even these results speak for themselves. Once you’re ready to accept, there is also an address to a facility on Atzerri. Send someone there, ask for Tyber Zann, and we’ll work out the details.”
Before Rayuth could grab the datapad, a faint electronic hum turned his attention back to the right. But the man had vanished as suddenly as he arrived.
Four years after Endor (8 ABY)
Somewhere beyond Chiss Space, past the patrol routes of even the Expansionary Defense Force, a field of partial molten debris floats in deep space.
A single small, red light flashes in the darkness among the metal. It is a hyperwave transmitter, desperately repeating the final report of an ambitious and unlucky scout.
"...CRITICAL THREAT WARNING: Massive unidentified object sighted. Circular entity with a radius of at least several dozen kilometers. Material unknown, sensors cannot make sense of it. Does not respond to hails. Launching numerous fighter sized craft on intercept course. Investigate immediately!..."
Finally, the blinking red light died. Along with it, an urgent warning a galaxy distracted by war desperately needed to hear faded into the nothingness of the unknown regions.