The Photonovel Alliance
ALLIANCE INTELLIGENCEChapter 26SON OF FANGORN





-The Fangorn Empire has for centuries controlled a small pocket of space in the Middle Rim, home to an expanse of vital resources and trade routes. While they neglected to formally join the old Republic, the Galactic Empire offered them no such option, and the Empire was absorbed, while still being allowed partial sovereignty.


    



-It is from Fangorn that young rebel Sila Kott hails. After his father, a prominent leader of the military government, was murdered, Sila fled and joined Col. Airen Cracken’s team of rebels. He’s served with youthful energy as Beta Squad’s pilot, eagerly following Col. Cracken on numerous adventures.





-A little over a year ago, Sila was joined in the Alliance by his brother Hans, a former TIE Fighter Ace who, after witnessing firsthand the injustices of the Empire, left behind his old life and closest friend, Oxixo, faking his own death. The rebels offered him asylum, but he refused to participate in their “lawless crusade” against the Emporer.





-Now, however, Hans is home, and the streets are filled with cheering crowds welcoming the return, seemingly from death, of their greatest hero.





-The crowd roars out his name, knowing nothing about what has transpired since Hans disappeared during a prison riot on an icy Imperial moon. They have been told a rousing story of escape from violent rebels and a cross-galaxy odyssey to return home. Deep inside the young pilot, however, the real events of the past year weigh heavily on him.





-Being allowed to return to Fangorn seemed at first an inconceivable blessing to Hans, the answer to his persistent moral conundrum. Return home to his old life and leave the Empire behind. Yet he now finds that he can’t shake the arguments of his younger, rebel brother from his head, and his thought are plagued with fear of the one man who can expose all of his lies…





-Cpt. Flint Oxixo!





-After the parade, a grand ceremony is held in the Royal Palace Hall, bustling with the upper crust of both Fangorn and the local Imperial officials. Hans recognizes many familiar faces, but his old home now feels like a foreign planet to him.





-The mood darkens still when Hans is approached by capital mayor Garret Reichenbach, his old mentor. But with him is Chief General Wollfe, the man who, according to Sila, murdered his father.

———“Welcome home, Lieutenant”, Wollfe smiles, his eyes focused on Hans like a snake, his hand clutching an ancient Fangorn artifact. “We are all thrilled to hear of your survival”.






“As a token of the Fangorn Army’s gratitude towards your heroism, please take this gift, from my personal collection of early imperial artifacts”.

———“It is an honor, sir”, Hans stiffy shakes the general’s hand.






-As Wollfe abruptly leaves, Hans turns to Reichenbach, godfather to both him and Sila.

————“A death mask. What a pleasant welcome”






“I assure you, the Supreme General does not reflect the will of the entire empire”, Reichenbach smiles as Hans passes off the mask to his personal droid. “We are all incredibly grateful to see you alive here in these halls again. Wollfe, however, is afraid of you”.

——“Afraid? Of me?” Hans scoffs.






“Of course! Your father was a man of the people, Hans, and the rightful successor. Fangorn has spiraled downhill since Wollfe took charge, instituting martial law and moving closer to Palpatine. His alliance with the outsiders is the only thing keeping him in power.”

———“What, and you think now the people will rise up and stick me in charge”.

“I, of course, would never harbor the thought of a revolt, Hans. I’m simply saying that there are great themes running behind your return, and they make you the target for many powerful people”.






“Keep both eyes open. These are dangerous times”.





-As the party dies down, Hans abandons the smothering atmosphere, walking out to the patio, overwhelmed by everything that is transpiring. His brain pounds with the endless possibilities, fears, and scenarios all playing out. Lost in thought, he doesn’t hear the cloaked figure approaching.





“Hans!” Sila Kott whispers, grabbing his brother’s shoulder.

——“Wha… What the hell are you doing here?!? I left! How did you even get here?”

“So… I may not have been fully forthcoming about the contents of your return vessel…”






“By the gods, this is a mission?!?” Hans nearly shouts, barely holding himself back. “I can’t believe this, you said I could leave!”

———“Wait, calm down, bro! Just listen…”

“No! I wasted a year of my life listening to you! I will not let you…” Suddenly, both brothers hear the sound of approaching footsteps.






-Sila leaps into the foliage beyond the patio, running away from the palace. Hans, furious at this betrayal of trust, turns to see who has arrived.





-And his heart stops at the sight of his closest friend and wingman, Cpt. Flint Oxixo.

———“Hans…” the stoic captain begins to speak.






“Look, I can explain…” Hans lurches forward, desperate to come up with an appropriate response.

———“Stop”.






“I understand what happened, Hans. But now you’re back. I wish I could have done more at the prison to help you, but what’s done is done. There’s more than one way to serve law and order in this galaxy. I don’t want to want to let a minor ideological disagreement end our friendship”.

———“That means a lot, Ox. I just have so much going on right now…”






“But now you’re home. And I’m going to help you get this all worked out”.





-A short ways outside the palace grounds, in the ruins of an abandoned house, Col. Cracken’s team awaits the return of Sila, who stealthily runs back to report.





“He won’t do it”. Sila abruptly blurts out.

——“What do you mean, he won’t do it?” Cracken is caught off guard.

“Hans won’t go along with the plan. He… wasn’t exactly happy about the news. He thinks we’re using them. That I’m using him”.






“Well, that’s because we are using him” Cracken snaps uncharacteristically. “And I realize that this is personal for you. But your personal entanglements can’t complicate this mission. We can pull it off without Hans”.

———“But we planned this whole job around…” Willix protests

“No! I planned this mission, because I am the leader. And we will not have another failed mission. I know that we will pull this off, with or without inside help”.






-Cracken turns away from his agents angry, both at them for questioning his plan and at himself, for this outburst. He starts to wonder if maybe Willix is right. Maybe he has worked himself too hard. Maybe the loss of so many of his old friends has pushed him over the edge. But he shakes his head, no. The galaxy needs him to fight. He tells himself he can not let his burden down for a moment, or even more lives will be put at risk. He tells himself this as he walks away from his increasingly concerned friends. He will get no sleep tonight.





-The next day, Willix and Shade, in disguises, march into the Imperial Barricade in the Fangorn Capital. Without Hans providing the clearance codes to leave the planet with the experimental ship they’ve been sent to extract, the rebels will have to get clearance themselves.





“This is ridiculous”, Willix mutters. “I can’t believe how poorly planned…”

———“Where’s the flight controls?” Shade asks, ignoring his companion’s complaints.

“Um…” Willix fiddles with his Imperial computer. “I really don’t know how to work this thing”.






“Damn it. I’ll find a console”. Shade marches off.





-Suddenly, however, a trooper steps out into the hall directly in front of them. Shade is taken aback, quickly recognizing the trooper’s ID as one that he had trained alongside.





“Are you looking for something?” the trooper asks.

——“The flight control. I’m afraid we just transferred here and got a bit lost” Willx replies.






“Ha! Rookiees can never find their way around here,” the trooper laughs. “The flight controls are this way. You must be the new transit agents. Chief Inspector Zulu is waiting for you!” The two rebels nervously glance at each other as they head off down the hall.





-Upon arrival at the control center, they are immediately confronted by the impatient Inspector Zulu.

——“You’re late. Get me your identification and let’s get started”.

“I’m afraid we got lost, sir”, Shade attempts to talk his way out of the problem.

——“Lost? Do your micro-consoles not work?”

“No sir, I’m afraid they malfunctioned. Which is why we don’t have our ID’s”






“No ID’s? No ID’s?!?! Are you trying to tell me, private, that I’ve waited here for a fracking hour on you to stumble your sorry butts in here and now we can’t move on because you can’t show me your fracking ID’s?!?!”





“Frack this”, Willix whips out his blaster, pointing it squarely at the Inspector’s face.





“Signal an alarm and die. We need clearance codes. Get on it”.





-As Willix and Shade attempt to complete “Plan B”, the rebels’ “Plan A” is sharing with his closest friend the events of the past year in one of the palace gardens.





“And then Sila told me that it was Wolffe who killed my father, not the rebels…”

——“And you believed him? He’s one of them, why would he ever admit they killed your dad?”

“Why would he join them if they had?”

——“Look, Sila, it’s clear Wolffe isn’t the greatest leader Fangorn has ever had. But he’s moving forward. You know your father would have only caused problems with the Empire…”






“Not again”, Ox mutters as a notification buzzes on his com. “I need to take that”.





-As Ox leaves, Hans turns to once again see Sila creeping out of the foliage towards him.





“Sila! Why are you still here?”

——“They’re running the mission without you and…”

“Stop! I don’t want to know your mission. Anything I know I am obligated to report to…”






“I’m not going to tell you anything,” Sila pleads. “But I don’t want to leave you here”.

——“The entire point of me coming back was to leave me here!”

“No, I… I thought this would change your mind. If you saw what Wolffe and the Empire had done to our home, if you and I worked together on a mission, I thought you’d finally see things my way. I thought we could stay together”.






“I will never see things your way!” Hans snaps back, trying to maintain a hushed tone, but attracting Ox’s attention.

——“Hans? What’s going on?” Ox shouts.






-Hans lashes out, punching his brother in the face while yelling “Intruder!”





-Despite being caught off guard, Sila quickly strikes back, slamming Hans into the ground!





-Ox opens fire on a fleeing Sila as he yells into his com: “Lock down the palace grounds! We have an intruder!”



ALLIANCE INTELLIGENCE
<<  Chapter 25
EXTRACTION
 
Chapter 26  
Brought to you by Choi


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