The Super Star Destroyer Eclipse had every right to be as large and domineering as it was.
That was what the Grand Admiral would tell those who inquired about its outrageous size and appearance. It was an extension of himself; of his ego and pride and accomplishments throughout the war against the Rebellion, and he defended it as such. But despite that very fact, despite his attachment to the battlestation, Sheraff Goalin acknowledged that it did not belong to him.
The Eclipse was meant to be commanded by two people, not one man. It was to be the Emperor's grand flagship. He was supposed to command it alongside his new enforcer, the Dark Legate Arganth, but the plan changed. Arganth was killed on Ruusan along with most of Palpatine's Legion of Dark Jedi, and by technicality, the Grand Admiral was next in the line of command. As much as he had mourned the Legate, Goalin was more than happy to serve directly alongside the Emperor, and took the position without any sort of hesitance.
Then the plan changed again. His Majesty’s apprentice, a former Rebel hero by the name of Luke Skywalker, usurped the throne, had murdered Palpatine in cold blood and became Emperor himself. The New Emperor used what forces he'd taken from "murdering" the Emperor—who was inhabiting a clone body, and who had survived by transferring his essence away to Exegol—to secure victory for himself and his allies. He had no loyalty to the Empire, no shred of remorse for the lives lost or the jobs taken or the power vacuum left on countless planets when he disbanded it, not to mention the disorder such a thing would cause.
Grand Admiral Goalin had never liked Luke Skywalker. He hadn't liked Rebels to begin with, but it was even worse that he'd been forced to actually serve the former Alliance general. Skywalker had proved his values remained no different than before when he murdered Palpatine. As Emperor, Skywalker had rarely spoken to the other Imperials, barely acknowledged Goalin's existence outside of a few brief formal meetings and when he was giving orders. A pitiful excuse, the Admiral had told himself, and he had been right.
Now here he was, in control of it all. This power was his for the time being, or at least until he could find a suitable heir to the throne. It would be difficult, this he knew; many of those serving under him would have loved nothing more than to slide to the top for their own selfish deeds, but the Empire did not need another failure—it did not need another Luke Skywalker or Sheev Palpatine. It needed a leader. One who would take every loss to heart, treat every success with praise, and care more about the Empire's survival than themselves. That was the perfect ruler in his mind. If he could build such a man, he would, but even the long, cylindrical cloning tubes standing over him could not produce such a thing.
Their control panels, flashing red and blue and green and an assortment of other colors let out a cold whistling sound every now and then as the life support systems struggled to maintain themselves. The only other sound were the bubbles of the cloning vat rising to the top where they collected and then burst. Tinted with a dull blue, Grand Admiral Goalin could see through the glass container perfectly; floating inside was a pale, limp reincarnation, its eyes closed, a rebreather lodged into its mouth. Like a stained paintbrush's bristles, spiked red hair with blonde roots sprouted from the man's head, flowing and dancing as the liquid within was pushed and pulled by heated jets of air.
The overhead lighting submerged the room in an uncomfortable red glow. Its black walls and floor paired for a look that contrasted against Goalin's, and the constant red hue did not help. His snow-white tunic and trousers now looked pink, and his golden epaulets were being undermined by the clone of Palpatine.
A grimace crossed the Grand Admiral's face. This was all that remained of the now-deceased Emperor. A single clone held together by mere strands; its life support system had grown critical long ago while they had been in orbit. Breathing inwards, the Grand Admiral let the air out in the form of a sigh. He'd come here for the cloning vats against the knowledge that there were still remains of the failed Emperor.
"Dispose of it," he called to the personnel over his shoulder, his voice strict yet without venom. "We no longer have any use of the clones. Have the cylinders cleaned and brought to the Eclipse's Science Division."
One of the personnel, a woman wearing a white jumpsuit and holding a tablet in the crook of her arm, nodded. "At once, Grand Admiral," she said, then began typing on her datapad. The order would be carried along and received by labor workers. Goalin took solace in the fact he could count on them to get the job done.
Sheraff stood there for a moment longer as he cast a final glance at the clone body. His eyebrows furrowed ever so slightly. A chill ran through his spine. This was it—after this clone was disposed of, nothing would be left of Palpatine aside from holorecordings and the Empire itself, of course. The thought hadn't properly settled in until just now. It truly was the end of an era.
But there was no use in standing around and fretting about what could have been, or what was. Goalin was here now, he was the one in charge, and he needed to carry the Empire to victory. Or, if nothing else, survival. He spun on his heel and walked to the cloning chamber's exit.
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Before anything else, ships orbiting the ecumenopoli known as Coruscant had to pass through Oribtal Traffic Control, otherwise they wouldn't be allowed to enter. Kolaren Doragon was no stranger to this routine; working for the New Republic required constant travel to and from the Imperial Palace. Needless to say it had all become really old, really fast.
But this time was different. This time, the Jedi Knight was here on other business. Business that was actually worthwhile, something other than wasting his time hunting the dying Imperial Remnant. Finding a lead on Tyber Zann had proven to be more difficult than he had expected, but, things had finally seemed to go his way when he had arrived on Takodana. He had met a Mandalorian who claimed to have information—or knew somebody who had information—on Tyber, or at the very least, the Zann Consortium.
All he needed to do was run an errand for the Mandalorian. Solve a puzzle, play detective, it was nothing he hadn't done in the past. A former business associate had went missing near the underground level Kolaren had lived most of his life on, and, one coincidence lead to another until he agreed to investigate in exchange for information.
After a while, the Jedi Knight's semicircular T-6 shuttle was given clearance to land. It normally didn't take too long, largely in part due to the shuttle's paint scheme and model. It was a T-6, used by Jedi and Republic agents during and before the Clone War, retrofitted with blaster cannons for Kolaren's comfort and with accents painted in the New Republic's signature gold and blue. Those working in the Orbital Traffic field had long since identified it as a Jedi craft and knew that it was clear.
The shuttle softly hummed as Kolaren guided it down towards the Imperial City. He tapped the coordinates to the Imperial Palace into the navicomputer, and allowed the craft to autopilot itself until the building came into sight. A year ago, he would never have been able to navigate the surface on his own. The Galaxy still felt to large sometimes. Too spacious. It was the opposite of claustrophobia.
But he was here now, and he was only returning to the lower levels because work demanded it. The Imperial Palace appeared through the shuttle's viewport, and, seeing this, Kolaren grabbed the controls and disabled his autopilot. His hands eased the two controls forwards and the spacecraft obliged; it gently slid forwards through the air without a bit of turbulence until a small slit in the pyramid-like structure's base came into sight.
Kolaren eased back on the repulsors that carried the craft forwards and flipped a long pointed switch on the center control dashboard. The semicircular hull surrounding the shuttle's cockpit and engines rotated from its vertical angle to a horizontal one, allowing it to lower its three landing gear and land within the Palace's hangar.
A brief few minutes passed as diagnostics ran themselves inside the ship. Eventually, though, its long, narrow exit ramp extended to the hangar's floor, spitting steam and filling the area with the smell of smoke and metal and heated repulsors. Knight Kolaren strode down the ramp, dressed in an attire he did not usually keep—a dull off-grey smuggler's shirt as well as plain black cargo pants. His lightsaber hung from his belt and swayed from side to side as he carefully descended the strip of metal and stepped onto the hangar floor. His eyes narrowed into a sliver as he glanced around. Mechanics and mechanic droids walked to and fro, carrying tools and guiding hovercarts filled with tools and equipment to operate on the official New Republic craft lining the inside. Kolaren's shuttle would be safe here. It was better than bringing it to where he was going.