INTERLUDE: The Best Part of Aftermath?

Alright, as promised (I know you’ve been waiting with bated breath), a breakdown of the fantastic interludes in Aftermath. They represent the snapshot stories from around the galaxy that I didn’t know I wanted, but now can’t get enough of. I would be completely on-board with an entire book filled with these short, unfinished glimpses into the lives of denizens from every corner of the galaxy, whether they be hopeful, optimistic individuals with visions of what the future could hold, salivating degenerates who think the iron fist just rusted over, or scared, uncertain Imperials desperately trying to cling to whatever power they still wield *coughAdelhardcough* …anyway, enough preamble, let’s grab our utensils and dig in!


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CORUSCANT
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This was a perfect way to start, maybe the only way to start:  reality crashing down hard on the exuberant, if a bit destructive, crowd of Coruscanti in the form of still very much existent Imperial oppression, specifically unprovoked blaster fire on unarmed citizens. And for a moment, I’m Jak, watching the Death Star blow up not on a holovid but a movie screen and thinking to myself “they did it, the rebels really won, everything will be better now” – then I blink and realize I’m really Rorak, eyes open to the greater struggle that lies before me, my son, this crowd, this planet, and the galaxy at large…I grip my hardback copy of Aftermath like a hunk of statue and look desperately for something evil at which to throw it…okay, a little dramatic, but this unlabeled interlude drops you right in the heart of things and reminds you that it’s childish to assume that the destruction of the second Death Star, even along with the Emperor and his right-hand man, would cause the nearly countless number of remaining Imperials to just lay down their arms and surrender. Sure, if you want to kill a snake, cut off the head, but that body writhes and wriggles for a while afterward, trust me…

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SALEUCAMI
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First of all, I like the Clone Wars reference here not only in location, but in mentioning Cut (though he did sorta get “drawn back into the muck” with Rex, but did his part and let the war move on, and I suppose that’s not the kind of story you share with neighbors). Secondly, I like the Civil War feel of this interlude – it’s the classic “brother versus brother” you hear so much about, especially if you grow up in the border states between what was the Union and Confederacy. I also like the continued theme of “things haven’t just gone back to normal.” Dav doesn’t get to come home to a brother who’s all “oops, my side lost, oh well, let’s eat!” Instead, he not only has to deal with his insults and attempts to pulverize him, he has to deal with being sold out; Webb’s ace in the hole triumph that I’m sure lost him more respect in his father’s eyes than Dav’s getting involved in the first place did by leaps and bounds. I find myself wondering if this is the last we’ll see of Dav, whether it be finding out what he did for the rebellion or how he lives on the run from the Empire.

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NAALOL
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Chancellor Mon Mothma…has a pretty good ring to it. And, unless I’m reading it wrong, it sounds like, though it’s referred to as the “New Republic,” they’re really not creating anything new, rather undoing all that Palpatine did in turning the previously-existing Republic into the Empire. This makes sense, especially with Mothma at the helm, since she was so invested in efforts to attempt to keep the Republic as it was before the transition ever took place – she has faith in its original doctrine and policies, so why reinvent the wheel when you can just strip the chains off a perfectly good one? I think this interlude also gives us a clue as to why it’s the “Resistance” that’s fighting the First Order in The Force Awakens. If the plan is to only keep 10% of the military once the Empire is fully “defeated” and then train other militaries on their home planets, then it stands to reason to call the remaining “peacekeeping” military your Resistance force instead of the Republic Army. Especially since Mothma seems to be doing it not only strategically, but also as a show of good faith to the people of the galaxy that she’s not just taking over the Empire to install a different type of military control. “Army” sounds militant, “resistance” sounds like something that’s only brought in to play if there’s something that requires resisting.

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UYTER
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The first thing that strikes me about this interlude actually hearkens back to the previous one where Mon Mothma says, “The dead on our side are not proper soldiers…They’re farmers and miners, pilots and smugglers.” Then, in stark contrast, we see that the Imperial soldiers come from “farm boys. Locals from the fringes”…wait, wait, wait, you mean to say that the people fighting on both sides come from the same backgrounds? Granted, the Imperial soldiers are trained to be so from a young age, and, by the time they don their Stormtrooper white, are far removed from their farm boy start, but still, on the most basic level, it’s just farm boys fighting farm boys, possibly neighbors fighting neighbors, some of them just have a head start in how to fire wildly at other people. The second striking occurrence is how quickly Pade changes his “allegiance” – he doesn’t want to be an Imperial anymore than he wants to be a Hutt, but that’s just the easiest way for him to get by, and I imagine that sentiment is echoed by hundreds if not thousands of Imperials throughout the galaxy. It’s no wonder so many are cutting deals and turn-coating, they didn’t want to be Imperials so much as they had to be…that’s what “pays the bills,” so to speak; it’s like what Yoda said, “once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny,” but instead of the dark side of the Force, the dark path is the Empire. Or, if you prefer a non-Star Wars analogy, it’s like “Hotel California,” “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

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CORONET CITY, CORELLIA
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If you’re playing along at home, yes, I’m skipping the Chandrila interludes, but I plan to do them altogether since it’s the only continued narrative. So, to the jewel of Corellia we go, Coronet City, and the tail end of an extended fight between bounty hunters. I’d say it’s a bit of a passing of the baton, but since Mercurial Swift uses those it seems too cheesy…to be honest, there’s not much to glean from this exchange aside from the knowledge that Dengar is still alive and kicking (or punching, really), and that he sees the writing on the wall as far as the bounty hunter profession goes:  the Republic won’t stand for it, and certainly won’t embrace it like the Empire did; soon the hunters will become the hunted. The Boba Fett ruse was kind of eye roll inducing…I almost wanted Dengar to freak out and say, “Boba Fett? Boba Fett?!?! Where!?!?” Okay, I didn’t really, but bringing Fett up in this instance felt a little forced and unnecessary, but at least he didn’t start doing an interpretive dance to “Vader’s Many Prosthetic Parts” to distract him, eh?

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SEVARCOS
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This interlude has two things I love very much:  Wookiees & Rancors. If a determined Wookiee and a trio of angry Rancors can’t turn the tide for you, nothing will…anyway, here we find a group in a directly opposite situation to the bounty hunters in the Coronet interlude, slaves; the Republic won’t tolerate slavery either, but instead of being put out of a job and potentially becoming criminals themselves like the bounty hunters, slaves become free…which is fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but what does a liberated slave do with no money, no place to go? I’m not trying to say they were better off slaves, but without an established method of aid it’s basically exactly what the rebel woman said, “Nobody knows.” Another takeaway from this interlude concerns an “Imperial in mechanized battle armor”…what the what? The first thing I thought of here was Commander Bragh from Star Wars:  Uprising, but I haven’t met him in the game yet, so I can’t speak to whether or not his armor is mechanized. It’s definitely an interesting concept, and I’m curious to see if it’s explored further or left for obscurity.

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TARIS
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As soon as I read the word “Taris” my brain started screaming “PLEASE LET THERE BE RAKGHOULS!” But, alas, it wasn’t meant to be…however, this interlude certainly didn’t disappoint. As a matter of fact, when I read “a red lightsaber rises from its hilt,” I forgot all about rakghouls and just wanted to know what the hell was going on…so, let’s try to figure it out, shall we, starting with Ooblamon and his rat-faced (Ranat?) companion, Vermia:  he refers to her as his “apprentice,” and the wall of their disgusting domicile is tagged with “VADER LIVES,” but these two don’t seem to be more than petty criminals or perhaps con artists, maybe when they stumbled upon a red lightsaber they made haste to adopt some dark side tenets and decor so they’d be more believable when potential buyers came calling. And speaking of buyers, what of the “Acolytes of the Beyond?” Initially I thought the theory that the dark side emanated from somewhere beyond known space had leaked out and these were strange devotees of that idea, but on second reading I think they’re fanatical followers of dead Sith, or maybe dark siders in general, and believe they can commune with them from “the Beyond” much like Luke talks with Obi-Wan. This theory is furthered by the notion that they mean to destroy the lightsaber they’re buying so “it can be returned to its master in death” (which also leads one to assume, since they think they’re buying Vader’s saber, that they believe the dark lord to be dead). Now, do I think they’re actually communicating with dead Force users? No, no I do not…but I do think they not only believe they are, but are sure they are, and that might make them more dangerous than if they really were having fireside chats with a conjured Darth Bane. And what of this lightsaber? It can’t be Vader’s, can it? Didn’t he lose his (along with his hand) down one of the Death Star’s famous abysses? So, if not Vader’s, then whose? Dooku’s that someone scavenged from the wreckage on Coruscant all those years ago and has been making its rounds in the black markets? One of Ventress’s? I’m not sure both are accounted for…but I could be wrong there…perhaps it belonged to an ex-Inquisitor who ditched the dark side and sold it for quick cash once the Empire started to crumble (if they still exist at that point, that’s sort of up in the air, isn’t it?). The short answer is, as Ooblamon said, “Who knows,” and maybe it doesn’t matter; maybe it’s just to show that, though the Sith are gone, the dark side still exists and is perhaps burgeoning without the watchful eye of the Sith around to keep those that might oppose them at bay…but I’m sure as hell curious.

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 HYPERSPACE
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Ah, a moment with the stars…get it? Hyperspace is surrounded by stars and this interlude features Han and Chewie…yeah, I know, sorry…anyway, all I can really say here is I want this story. I want it in my hands now so I can stop everything and absorb every detail. I want to meet the gang of liberated Wookiees, along with the other good-hearted smugglers and miscreants that owe Han a favor…but, most of all, I want to see Han and Chewie back in their element, back in the saddle, back to breaking the rules and having their way with the galaxy (at least in their own minds). And I really want Chewie to have a hand in setting his people free. I want the post-Empire galaxy to be flooded with Wookiees, free Wookiees, able to find their own scruffy-looking nerf herders to pal around with, or their own Falcons to tweak and captain, or some important dignitary to bodyguard, or a Kashyyykian food stand to run somewhere in the core…or just able to live freely on their own home world. So, please, someone write this, and write it quickly…like yesterday…

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CORUSCANT
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We’re back where we started, but time’s past and we’re not all here…the naivety of youth has been replaced by courage, cunning and vengeance – not something that should happen at thirteen, but that’s just how it is, isn’t it? Ezra, Temmin, the Anklebiter Brigade…even Luke and Leia, to an extent, though they’re older, more equipped to fend for themselves. So what does Jak do? Why, dig into the dredges of the underwold, of course…really, what else is there? I hope he accomplishes what he’s setting out to do, and I hope it gives him some kind of peace, but I have a feeling it won’t, it rarely does…the prize at the bottom of a box of revenge is usually emptiness…I wonder if there’s any significance to giving a name to Jak’s target, or if it’s just to make it even more personal…it’s not just “an Imperial Commander,” it’s Commander Orkin Kaw. For Jak’s sake, I hope if he’s mentioned again it’s posthumously.

———————-
THEED, NABOO
———————-
From the tyrannical Emperor’s entry point into galactic politics, we find two ends of the spectrum for youths displaced by the war:  Iggs, a name among the many nameless Anklebiters that, like Temmin and Ezra, took to lawlessness, though instead of the black market or pick-pocketing, Iggs chose to do his misdeeds in the name of the rebellion; then we have Streaks, also an Anklebiter, but not one that’s had the veil of youth stripped away like Jak and her friend, Iggs. She believes she’s made a difference and that people will care and will still give her a chance to have a “normal” life…Iggs, on the other hand, believes he’s tainted goods, unworthy, unwelcome, and doesn’t particularly want to be welcomed, even if he is. He’s either seen too much, felt too much, to feel like he can adapt to any sort of “normal” life, or he’s too scared to let himself feel positive and optimistic like Streaks because the last time he did everything went to hell. It’s a sad, further dose of reality that continues the theme that “the war is not over,” and, even when it is, for some people, there won’t be such thing as a “normal” life.

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TATOOINE
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Okay, so, what the hell is going on here? It seems like a pretty simple story, but I’m not fooled…first thing’s first, though, I love the somewhat inside joke at the end when Cobb says, “best to shoot first.” Han took his advice, we all know it…anyway, speaking of Cobb, is he Cobb Vanth, or Cobb Vance? Was this just an editing faux pas, or did Cobb not want to give out his real name until he saw the very-green Adwin’s true colors? I did a quick search and didn’t find anything about the name being a mistake, so I’d say it’s more likely a purposeful alias…or his name isn’t Cobb anything and in the heat of the moment he forgot what fake name he’d given out. Whoever he is, I think it’s safe to say he’s now the proud owner of Boba Fett’s Mandalorian armor – but how did the Jawas come to have such a treasure in their secret back room? Did Boba make it out of the toothy maw of the sarlacc and decide to take advantage of his believable death by dumping his armor and assuming a new name (Cobb-something, maybe?) and a new life? Or did the sarlacc relieve itself of the armor once it determined it wasn’t digestible (and if so, was Boba still alive when the Jawas disrobed him? And, if so again, did he survive being left alone and armor-less in the Dune Sea?)? So many possibilities…personally, I think Boba Fett is dead, but his legacy is now in the hands of a “sheriff” on one of the most lawless places in the galaxy, especially without a replacement Hutt to enact their own version of cartel law. For a place with no Republic presence and a limited Imperial one, the death of Jabba probably had a larger impact than the destruction of the Death Star…I’d say this isn’t the last we’ll hear of what I would call the most famous planet in the Star Wars Universe.

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BESPIN CLOUD CITY
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Alright, a tie-in interlude with Star Wars:  Uprising, I have no qualms with this; I appreciated the immersive experience across various mediums. I wonder if you get to meet the “Scourge of Cloud City” in Uprising, or even be a part of whatever happens after they get to the shared conduit behind the access panel…guess I’ll find out, but, to the matter at hand, we have a notorious thug and an affluent Crassus-type that have sided with the rebellion versus an obese, even more Crassus-like character that decided to buy into the Imperial propaganda and believe nothing had happened and things would soon be back to normal…but, as we’re learning, “normal” is yet to be determined…the interludes are consistently proving that the galaxy is definitely in flux. So, anyway, Borgin was basically in the wrong place at the wrong time, but could have come out unscathed if he’d just acquiesced and let what he had no way of stopping happen with whatever help he could provide…instead, he chose to be made a fool in front of his “girlfriend,” who then turned on him on a dime…what’s to become of him, who’s to say, but I’m sure it won’t be a continued life of opulence, just corpulence. It was nice to see that Lobot didn’t just get left behind and forgotten on Bespin when Lando took off in the Falcon in ESB, and it’s nice to know that the two are still in cahoots. Since reading the Lando comics, I feel like Lando and Lobot have their own Han and Chewie-type relationship, so I’m happy that Lobot didn’t just become collateral damage.

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JAKKU
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This is the interlude I was waiting for as soon as the pattern of random interludes became apparent early on in the novel. While we may not necessarily be given anything story-wise that ties into The Force Awakens, visiting the planet in a more tangible way than a theatrical teaser somehow made it seem real…this is the planet where the biggest part of the next chapter of the saga will begin, and now we have location names, an idea of the peoples’ way of life, and even their signature drink…it’s huge. Also, I don’t know if they’re native to Jakku, or if Gazwin will be our link between Jakku and Maz Kanata, but I’m willing to say with relative certainty that this guy from the Vanity Fair photo of Maz’s castle is an Uthuthma:

Yes, I realize I said he was a Givin in my post, but I’m allowed to change my mind…especially when it turns out I was wrong! Anyway, knowing what little we know about Jakku, I think it’s safe to say Corwin won’t be paying for Knockback Nectars for very long, and, while that’s not such a bad upside, I have a feeling he’d rather pay double than have the sacrifice of living on a dead planet at the end of the galaxy turn out to be for nothing…poor fella.

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CHANDRILA
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As advertised, here are all the Chandrila interludes as one…we start with a simple setup:  an interviewer and cameraman and an interviewee; the subject:  the first day of the new Galactic Senate. I like the homage to Art Wars with the differently painted stormtrooper helmets, and I like that they moved the senate away from Coruscant; it feels genuine, like something Mothma would do. And I of course like that, of the three people so far, two are aliens. I just really like aliens. And speaking of aliens, I appreciate ballsy aliens that’ll chuck fruit at a republic official on holo, and I appreciate how Olia handled it. More than that, though, I appreciate the realistic plight of Geeska and his people, and I appreciate how this book doesn’t shy away from the harsh reality of war, and, not to put too fine a point on it, the aftermath thereof. The conclusion of the both the Chandrila story and all the interludes is a public relations hiccup turned New Republic/Democratic manifesto delivered vibrantly from a passionate Pantoran that I couldn’t help but picture as Riyo Chuchi. It was a good way to close out these magnificent interludes, leaving the reader hopeful about what the New Republic could accomplish.

Whew…okay, that was a labor of love. Going back over all those interludes was a lot more interesting and enlightening than even I thought it would be. I think the highlight would have to be that I’ve identified (at least in my own head) one of the aliens at Maz Kanata’s castle as an Uthuthma…feel free to tell all your friends that you read it here first…unless you didn’t…actually, hell, just lie and say you did! Anyway, now that I’ve finished digging through Aftermath, it’s on to Lost Stars. It’s very possible I’ll be writing about that within the new few weeks, as well as the exciting, full-fledged start to the second season of Rebels. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, but this is the best time to be a Star Wars fan…ever. I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am, and, while you are, may the Force be with you…

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