Meanwhile, on Jaminere....

“War is won in the hearts and minds of the people.”

Azek Parthel stands as he addresses the meeting of Imperial officials, eyes drifting over the flickering holoprojections of Admiral Turkel and General Golt, fixing upon them in particular as he continues. “You may crush an insurrection for a day through force of arms, but to truly conquer and control any world, the Empire must show its subjects why this had to be done.

The virtues of order and submission to authority have to be stressed. The benefits, both financial and cultural, need to be demonstrated in clear and simple terms - credits are saved, livelihoods are protected, traditions are upheld. Perhaps most importantly, the chaos and destruction the Rebellion brings to their lives has to be illustrated, for it is in the fear of these terrorists that we can win over even the most independently-minded individuals."

Parthel leans forward to press a switch, displaying images of the aftermath of battles throughout the Allied Tion Sector. Burning speeders on Lianna. A smoking crater on Barseg. A crying child on Jaminere. “These scenes all come from the recent ‘victories’ of the Rebel forces in our sector. In their eyes, they are symbols of their crusade against an overpowering enemy.

In the eyes of our people, however, they must be shown to be what they are; acts of violence which hurt them and the things they value. For the corporations on Lianna, assembly lines and profit margins are endangered. For the dynasties on Barseg, their way of life is being threatened. And here on Jaminere, the clans are locked in an unending war which pollutes their land and kills their people.

In the time since the disastrous policies of the now-disgraced ISB Supervisor Deetark, precious time has been wasted in a futile attempt to convince the Vishtuk clan that the Galactic Empire is the lesser of two evils.” Parthel clasps his hands behind his back, looking across the table at the other officials physically present in his office. They are attentive, stiff-backed.

“Our association with the Gualto Vabax and his cronies may have served us well in the past, but we must reach beyond the limits of his influence and find the means to unify all Gormak under the Imperial banner. Letting the Rebellion’s agents influence the Parthak clan and other rivals of Vabax has only framed the local unpleasantness as one more battlefield for them to fight against a mutual foe - the Galactic Empire. On the very planet we call the sector’s capital.” Parthel’s expression shows his exasperation at this thought.

“Gentlemen, this will not do. We must not allow the Rebels to drive the debate here on Jaminere, nor on any of our other planets. We must re-frame the problems of the common Gormak and make them see the real truth - that stability and unification can only come to them when they see their true foe, one which has been hiding in their midst all this time, manipulating the two clans into war-”

“Pray tell, Azek,” General Golt interrupts, his florid face showing mounting frustration. “Who is this enemy? Rebel agents? We’ve already tried rooting out their operatives - executing them on live broadcasts. My men have had to fight alongside these Gormak beasts in thick jungles clouded by mist and toxic vapors, and for every one real Rebel we find there are a dozen more that turn out to be merely rumors.

It’s a slog, and it’s costing us more every - ”

Parthel raises a hand. “I do not propose to continue targeting spectral Rebel spies but rather a very real and identifiable interloper who the Gormak, even the Parthak, are already primed to despise.” He presses a key and calls up an image of a blue skinned being with multi-faceted yellow eyes. Their face is marked with lines of darker flesh which merge in patterns around their eyes and mouth. “The Voss."

The propaganda officer continues as he paces around the Voss image. "They are a rare but notable presence here on Jaminere and upon the Gormak homeworld of the same name. According to some historical records, they are an offshoot of the Gormak who were tampered with by the Jedi millennia ago. These records are of course censored by the Ministry of Information, but their infamy among their old enemies still resonates in the oral traditions of both clans. It is only the continued civil war between Parthak and Vishtuk that has allowed them to continue hiding among the Gormak.

“The Voss, we will explain, are the true architects of this interminable conflict - likely as a result of their past association with the notorious Jedi Knights. Their traditions of mysticism and historical enmity with the Gormak can only help strengthen our cause, providing this species with a whole new foe to blame for their current problems.

The revelation of a secret conspiracy which will not only unite them in a cause, but also one which will require assets of that only we, the agents of the Galactic Empire, can provide.”

“An interesting ploy,” Turkel says, a tone of grudging approval entering his voice. “But what does this have to do with these orders to stop my hunt for the Rebels and their pirate allies? Venom Squadron has been the most successful unit in the Allied Tion to date; its power is wasted in orbit over Jaminere.”

The implied slight against the Imperial Army’s failures - and by extension, those of General Golt - does not go unnoticed. Golt’s face reddens again and he visibly restrains himself from speaking against his opposite number in the Imperial sector military.

“We should be continuing our purge of the few remaining hideouts the PERCEPTOR system can identify, not parading about,” Turkel blandly continues. “This will win you more political points than taking us out of action.”

Parthel holds up a placating hand toward the Admiral’s flickering image. “Venom Squadron’s presence is crucial, I assure you, Admiral. As you have noted, it is seen as the chief success among the military efforts of the Empire here in the Tion Cluster, one which shows our strength as well as our technological cunning, two traits that the Gormak admire.

What better force to be present when we unveil the Voss conspiracy to Vabax and the rest of the Gormak on Jaminere?”

The Admiral nods faintly, listening but not completely convinced. Before Parthel can continue along this line of argument, another voice speaks up from the other end of the room.

“Venom’s presence over Jaminere is my request, Admiral,” the speaker says, entering the Coalition of Progress’ offices with his private guard. “This revelation Parthel speaks of is best timed to coincide with a moment of celebration, one in which we also subtly remind our supposed allies here on Jaminere that we hold the true power in the galaxy.

While the Voss propaganda effort will win us some converts, the shadows of the most advanced fleet in the sector cannot hurt to bring the message home: unity or death.”

“Lord Verpalion,” Parthel quickly says, ducking his head as he and the other Imperial officials greet the esteemed Imperial Advisor. “You honor us.”

“Now, let us discuss the coming festivities,” Verpalion says with a sly smile, taking his seat the head of the table...