Ambassador To The Empire
After a lifetime's service in the New Republic, Commodore Ehylen thinks he's ready for anything. Until he's ambushed by grey-haired old Rebel leaders, and given an assignment unlike any other....
19 ABY - Coruscant
“Ambassador? They’re ready for you.”
Commodore Ehylen bristled at the title, straightened his civilian tunic, and followed the aide past two Senate guards, towards the private parliamentary office of the New Republic Chief of State.
“Sirs, please allow me to present Commodore Ehylen, our Ambassador-designate to the Imperial Remnant.”
Ehylen surveyed the room and had to hide the shock from his face. “Chief of State Gavrisom,” he said, suppressing the decades-long habit of saluting, and instead offering a proper, civilian handshake to the leader of the New Republic. As befitted his new and unexpected posting…
The Calibop male took Ehylen’s hand and shook it with a fluttering of his wing-tip, bowing his head lightly in recognition. “Commodore, how welcome to make your acquaintance once again. I believe you will know my guests?”
Know them? There wasn’t a being in the Galaxy who wouldn’t. Seated in the centre of the room, now rising to greet him, were General Garm Bel Iblis, retired Admiral Ackbar, former Chief of State Leia Organa Solo, and, still seated, the frail form of her predecessor, Mon Mothma; who peered on through dimming eyes.
“Sirs,” Ehylen said, awkwardly straightening to military attention as he greeted the great commanders. “It is an honour.”
“You can be quite at ease here Ehylen,” Organa Solo said to him, a sympathetic smile. “I’m glad to be able to talk to you.”
“Thank you, that will be all,” Gavrisom said to his aide. The young man nodded curtly and left, and the Chief of State beckoned Ehylen to a seat, pouring him a drink from the decanter. “You’ve seen the briefing packet?”
Ehylen nodded. “Yes, sir, I have. And all of the latest diplomatic exchanges following the treaty signing. And the intelligence briefings, the economic output assessments, the currency exchange projections, the military analyses...”
“Good, good,” Gavrisom said with benevolent speed, “I’m sure you are on top of your brief.”
“Yes sir. But, if I may, I still don’t understand why I have been selected for this post. Surely a career diplomat, a politician…” Ehylen said.
“Orinda,” Bel Iblis said with a grin.
Ehylen frowned, and Organa Solo seized the moment: “Pellaeon is a career naval officer. He – rather, I suspect, like yourself – has little interest in politics.” She smiled coyly. “He never sought power, it was thrust upon him. We need somebody who understands him. Somebody with a similar perspective. Somebody he can respect.”
“But Orinda was a catastrophic defeat,” Ehylen countered. “Surely he won’t respect that?”
Ackbar interjected then with a flap of his arm: “Your actions allowed the rest of our fleet to escape his ambush. You put your own vessel between Pellaeon and our flagship and saved the Lusankya. We lost the battle, but your daring prevent a complete rout. That,” the Admiral said emphatically, “Pellaeon will respect.”
“It’s perfect Commodore – pardon me, Ambassador,” Bel Iblis said coolly: “You didn’t defeat Pellaeon, so there is no injury to his pride. But you fought against him well, so he can respect you as an equal.”
“Even though I hold a relatively junior rank?” Ehylen said. “Surely an Admiral or General, such as yourselves sirs…”
“No, no,” Bel Iblis said with a grin. “I’m in the fortunate position now of being able to order other people to do things I don’t want to do. And the Admiral here has spent long enough tangling with Imperials, don’t you think?”
Ehylen had made his name for surviving an ambush and preventing a rout, and now he had fallen right into another trap. “Then it seems I am going to Bastion,” he said with resignation.
Gavrisom’s eyes twinkled: without saying a word the politicians had engineered exactly the outcome he had sought. “We appreciate your service, Ambassador Ehylen,” the Chief of State said softly.
Organa Solo suppressed a wry smile. “The Chief of State invited us here to discuss your new posting with you. We have all had dealing with Pellaeon – either across the negotiating table, or in battle.”
“Or both,” Bel Iblis said, tilting his cup to the Alderaanian.
“What are your impressions of the man?” Ehylen asked at once. If I have to face this enemy, if the battle could not be averted, I need good intelligence. He listened eagerly.
“He is a highly capable fleet commander,” Ackbar said, “who likely would have prospered under the Emperor, had he more keenly embraced the ideals of the New Order. He seems to have little perceptible animus against non-humans. For an Imperial.”
“Above all,” Leia interjected again, “he is a realist. He knows the Empire cannot possibly hope to retake the Galaxy. In his view, the Moffs – and the New Republic – prolonged the war unnecessarily.”
“Like all Imperials of his vintage,” Mon Mothma began, with difficulty, “He appreciates order, stability, continuity. If you wish to understand a man, ask yourself, what was the Galaxy like when he was twenty?”
Ehylen considered the question, appreciating at once the insight the frail woman had offered him. “Chaos. The Republic was dying. The Separatists were on the rise. There was corruption… disorder… slavery…”
Mothma nodded her head twice, the movement was a struggle. “It is that which he has always fought against. He is a product at least as much of the chaos of those years as of his Imperial career. His entire life,” she croaked, “Is a reaction against the turbulence of his youth. In the Moffs, he sees another cabal of untrustworthy politicians out for themselves.”
“That, as much as anything else” Gavrisom explained, pouring another cup, “Is why our first ambassador to the Empire must be a military officer, or retired one. You must get to know the man. Spend time with him. Build a rapport. Form a personal bond. If this new peace is to last, you must…”
Ehylen’s eyes widened in alarm. My orders are to befriend an Imperial officer…
“You should also appreciate the political tensions within the Empire,” Princess Leia added keenly. “Pellaeon is the Imperial ruler, but there is no emperor. Pellaeon controls the central military, but the Moffs control the political levers of power. They appoint the Supreme Commander – but in practice we believe they would not dare dismiss him. Just as he cannot control the civilian bureaucracy or the economy without the Council of Moffs, they rely on Pellaeon for military protection. This balance could well be upset.” She turned to Bel Iblis to elaborate.
“Our intelligence analysts believe, contrary to what might be expected, that Pellaeon and his staff are the most amenable to the peace treaty, but the Moffs are most strongly opposed. If the war were to resume, it would be because Pellaeon lost his grip on the Empire or were replaced.” Iblis paused. “Our interests lie in strengthening Pellaeon as the Imperial leader. We are sending our ambassador, you, to him. It is him that the Senate has recognised as the Imperial Head of State. It is with him that this Treaty was signed.”
“We’re all getting old now,” Ackbar said in self-deprecation. “It is our hope that by strengthening Pellaeon internally, by recognising him, when he does die or resign one day, his successor will also come from the Imperial Navy, ideally from Pellaeon’s staff.”
Gavrisom took up from Ackbar at once, and Ehylen’s suspicion that this conversation had been well-rehearsed grew. “See who he associates with. Who are his proteges? Which naval captains does he promote? Who does he commend and cultivate? This will be vital intelligence for the long-term stability of the peace.”
From there the meeting went for another half-hour, until at last Gavrisom departed for the Senate floor, to deal with matters more important than the last eight sectors of the rump Empire, and Mon Motham withdrew, resting heavily on Organa Solo’s arm.
Ackbar and Bel Iblis alone remained. The Mon Calamari looked deep into Ehylen’s eyes: “I might have retired but I still have some influence. I’ve arranged for a ship to carry you to Ord Mantell.”
Something in the way he said it meant Ehylen had to ask. “What ship?”
“The Lusankya.” Iblis’ eyes sparkled. “Well, you did save her.”
Ehylen was astonished. “A Super Star Destroyer? Won’t a shuttle suffice?”
Bel Iblis shook his head. “Politics, remember. Pellaeon needs to respect you. He needs to know we respect you.”
“Won’t sending a Super Star Destroyer be somewhat provocative?”
Bel Iblis shrugged. “It will take you to Ord Mantell, an Imperial delegation will be waiting there to receive you and escort you to Bastion. No provocation. But let them see Lusankya.”
“Good luck, Ambassador,” the Corellian General said, chuckling.
The three men saluted – retired or not – and Ehylen left the private office, found his way out of the rebuilt Senate, and looked across the Coruscant skyline, huge sections of it reduced to rubble by war, then cleared, and only recently being rebuilt in earnest. “By the Force…” he mumbled under his breath.
To be continued…
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