Shadows In The Black
Jaran Drathul was an average, middle-class Corellian youth living on Baltizaar. His family was loyal to the Empire and he had dreams of doing his part and serving as a pilot in the Imperial Navy one day. He worked his way up through the youth vanguard to the point where he was accepted into the flight academy on Myomar.
Jaran was never close to his father, a local bureaucrat who worked long hours, but was very close to his mother. She even made the week long trek across the quadrant to attend his graduation. His father couldn’t be bothered.
While he was away at the academy, he heard worrisome reports of increased rebel activity from home. Rumours that the rebels were stealing food from hard working Imperial citizens or evenly openly defying the Imperials. His mother wrote to him and said that the planetary defense forces were routinely rounding up people for “re-education.” His father said it was for the best, even as their neighbours started to disappear.
Near the end of his training, he also got a message from his childhood friend, Cregan, who told him that there had been another wave of disappearances and Cregan’s parents had been taken. Cregan had tried to free them through various official channels but nothing had worked. He asked Jaran if he could see if his father could do something about them. Jaran asked, but was rebuked by his father who scolded him for being a rebel sympathizer and someone who would let friendship get in the way of his career. His mother comforted him and said she would do what she could.
After he graduated, Jaran was on a brief leave visiting home one last time before being shipped out. The morning he was scheduled to leave a mixed platoon of Imperial Stormtroopers and Planetary Defense Forces showed up at his parent’s door with the intent to arrest his mother. He was shocked. His mother was a loyal and true Imperial citizen and hadn’t done anything. The sergeant read off a litany of charges while his mother just stood silently. They accused her of sedition. Of smuggling people off planet before they could be re-educated.
Jaran pleaded with his father to help her, to do… something. He turned to his son and said coldly, “I did. I called them. Now grow up and stop being a weak little mommy’s boy!” The words were followed by an open handed slap that made his ears ring and hurt him deeper than any knife.
He went to his knees and saw stars. His mother started towards him protectively, but was forcibly stopped by his father. The two of them wrestled briefly but his father quickly overpowered his mother and tossed her into the arms of the waiting troopers.
Still on his knees, the ringing in his ears grew louder and louder until something snapped inside. His father, who was never there; never supporting him, just gave his mother – The one person he truly cared about, away like a piece of yesterday’s trash. The rage inside him released in an instant. There was a blaster on the Stormtrooper sergeant’s hip. He reached for it and it suddenly flew to his hands. He pulled the trigger. Once. Twice. Three times. He kept firing and then everything went black.
Jaran woke in a small building. His mother and best friend were huddled nearby, talking quietly around a small fire. Cregan noticed he was awake and they came to check on him. He asked what happened. His mother informed him that he just kept shooting, killing almost the whole platoon. The rest scattered like wamp-rats in the rain. His father had also disappeared in the chaos. Cregan had come at the sound of blaster fire and had helped them escape in his speeder. They were safe for now but had to leave soon though, there was an alert out for them. His mother said they had to get to the spaceport. She had friends who would help them get off planet and away from here. Jaran’s world was shaken. The charges against his mother were true! Before he could dwell on it much further, Cregan told them it was time to go. Jaran filed the thought away for later and let his military training kick in.
They crept through the eerily quiet town towards the spaceport. The streets were empty. Even when they got to the spaceport things didn’t feel right. It was too quiet. Jaran’s mother dismissed his concerns and led them to the transport her friends were on. They walked into the hangar to find it swarming with Stormtroopers, along with Jaran’s father.
The troopers turned and saw them. With all pretence of secrecy abandoned, they made a break for the transport as the troopers opened fire. The anger inside him started rising again as he saw his father draw a pistol and start firing along with the Stormtroopers at him and his mother. He really was an Imperial dog, Jaran thought as they made it to the transport’s gantry.
As they were running up the ramp, his mother cried out and crumpled to her knees. She was shot! “Run Jaran!” She shouted at him. He tried to go back for her but hands grabbed him and pulled him on board. As it lifted off he saw his father stand over his mother with his gun aimed at her head. There was a flash and she crumpled lifeless to the ground. Jaran screamed in rage and clawed at the hatch, trying to open it. He desperately wanted to go back and strangle the life out of his father.
The transport blurred into hyperspace with Jaran sitting stunned in the galley of the ship, his whole life in shambles around him. He had nothing. He couldn’t go back to the Navy, he’d be shot for sure. There wasn’t a home for him to go back to. Cregan came and tried to talk to him but he was still too deep in shock to really register what was being said. Something about some friends that could get them some new identities. He nodded numbly and left Cregan to the details.
By the end of the trip he was now someone else with no ties to Baltizaar. Cregan wanted to find the rebels and begged Jaran to come with him to Dantooine. Jaran wasn’t interested. His mind was focused on revenge.
He was Jaran Drathul and he was going to kill his father…