Thrawn's Test: The Emperor's Artwork, written for the Temple Archives' (fmr. Star Wars Book Report) 2012 Fan Fic Face-Off.
With the whine of decelerating repulsors and the hiss of escaping gas the Admiral’s Skiff Ascendant, settled on the landing platform. Mitth’ra’nuruodo savors the sensory overload that is the hustle and bustle of Imperial Center’s busy sky lanes and multitude of levels. Mitth’ra’nuruodo known to almost everyone by the name Thrawn wonders about his recall to Imperial Center from his expeditionary mission to Adumar. It is not the recall that is the surprise, after all you do not ignore a direct order from the Emperor, but the timing is rather curious. After receiving the Holocom transmission from the Emperor questioning Thrawn’ s actions his unwillingness to proceed with the planned reconnaissance-in-force, the Emperor demoted him to the rank of Admiral and removed him from command on the spot. The Emperor further ordered that Thrawn observe the battle but not intervene with the replacement force that was sent in his place.
To Thrawn, the defeat of Captain Glozen and the destruction of the Star Destroyer Rodomontade was the most predictable of the possible outcomes. Thrawn had tried to explain to Palpatine that too little was known about the Adumari people their technology and their weapons. That to send an Imperial Star Destroyer into that potential feverwasp’s nest was to great of a risk of Imperial resources. Much better to send in a smaller, more disposable vessel and allow Thrawn to assess the reaction of the Adumari defense forces to that intrusion. In the end Thrawn was pleased that he wasn’t on the receiving end of an ISB firing squad for his action, he took this curious leniency as a good sign, and was certainly thankful that Darth Vader had not been aboard the ship when he refused the order. To many a good officer had crumbled under the Dark Lord’s invisible judgment.
Thrawn was interrupted from his ruminations by a familiar voice. “This way Grand Admiral Thrawn, and welcome back to Imperial Center,” said Kinman Doriana. Thrawn looked up and saw a welcoming smile and an outstretched hand from Doriana. It had been years since the pair had first met almost three decades earlier in the events surrounding the Outbound Flight project. Thrawn thought it interesting that Doriana’s role in the Empire was much like his own.
While few new of Thrawn’s secret promotion to the rank of Grand Admiral, even fewer new just how much power Doriana wielded within the Empire. The Emperor’s fixer lacked a formal title within the Imperial Court, but if one assumed that the lack of trappings of a high office were a lack of influence they would be sorely been mistaken. Emperor Palpatine let very few individuals into his inner circle and Doriana was as close to and had been by the Emperor’s side longer than anyone.
“It is good to see you again my friend, but I am afraid I am no longer due the honorific by which you address me, it is only Admiral Thrawn at the moment,” said Thrawn. “Are we off to the Imperial Palace or to the Panopticon?” Thrawn looked at Doriana curiously.
“Actually Admiral, neither. My instructions are to escort you to the Ogana Esoterica Auction House. The Emperor wishes to have a private conversation with you away from the prying eyes of the court. Now if you will follow me please Admiral.”
The pair descended the platform to a sleek black armored speeder for the short flight to Ogana House. The auction house had long been a place for the well-heeled of the galaxy to find the obscure and arcane pieces of art and historical artifacts that could often border on the unsavory. Valued as much for its inventory as it was its secrecy, Ogana featured two-way transparisteel fronted private bidding booths. At Ogana you never knew who you were bidding against, of course no one else knew what you were bidding on.
Thrawn and Doriana arrived in the private parking hanger and took the turbolift to Palpatine’s suite. Outside the suite was a very non-descript door, with a holopanel listening tonight’s items up for bid, and a security panel. Doriana slid his hand through the transmitter field, the door opened revealing a small security vestibule and a quartet of red robed Royal Guardsmen. After passing through a security scanner Doriana and Thrawn were escorted to the chamber proper where the Emperor was waiting, “Welcome Mitth’ra’nuruodo, it has been to long since we last talked. Please sit, have a drink, there is much we have to discuss,” said Palpatine.
“My Lord,” Thrawn began, “I regret that my actions at Adumar upset you, but I..” “Enough!” Palpatine commanded, and Thrawn fell silent. “If you were to be punished for your actions at Adumar, you would already be dead Grand Admiral Thrawn. Your battlefield demotion and summoning here were mere pretext, my desire is to keep you apart from the petty squabbling and assassinations that competition for my favor can breed. ” Said the Emperor.
Turning to address Doriana, the Emperor said, “Kinman, I believe you have a visit to pay a certain Senator from Chandrila. Let me know how it goes.” Doriana bowed deeply, “With your leave my Lord, enjoy your evening Grand Admiral,” and quickly departed the suite.
“How may I be of service my Lord?” Thrawn asked. “Surely I am not here to help you determine whether or not to bid on that beskar statue of Braata? Because we both know that is the item you are after in tonight’s auction,” said Thrawn.
“Most impressive Admiral, a lucky guess or would you care to explain how you knew what item I was planning to bid on. Need I worry that you are a Jedi and able to read my mind? I believe I may have a few Clones left to take care of you if you are,” said Palpatine, looking very much like a predator playing with his prey.
“With respect your Highness, you may not advertise your true nature but it is rather obvious and from that your tastes are easily discerned given tonight’s limited artistic menu,” suggested Thrawn. The Emperor laughed menacingly, “Guards! Leave us. Well done Admiral, I wonder if you would turn your deductive skills upon a most unique piece of artwork,” said Palpatine and with that he pulled a small 19 centimeter cylinder from beneath his black robes.
Thrawn took an appraising glance at the weapon, “May I?” he asked and extended his hand.
The Emperor smiled and gave the lightsaber to Thrawn. ”So Admiral, what does this piece of art tell you about me? What great insight can you gain?” asked Palpatine.
Thrawn was entering very perilous waters, few knew this much about the Emperor’s true nature and even fewer that had seen this lightsaber and lived. Thrawn ruminated out loud, “19 centimeters, phrik alloy and electrum, with what appears to be cortosis ore woven into the finish. “ Thrawn paused, and triggered the blade, with a snap-hiss the blade shot out, casting the room in a glow that matched Thrawn’s eyes. Palpatine merely smiled and under his cowl an eyebrow raised. “You aren’t planning to turn that blade upon your Emperor are you Admiral?” teased the Emperor. “No my Lord, just confirming that nature of the blade, traditionally members of your Order have used a synthetic crystal which produces the crimson blade,” said Thrawn. “Of course this is hardly your first lightsaber my Lord, the craftsmanship is to practiced, this is a sister-blade to your original. I am curious was it a mere back up, a replacement, or did you wield both together?” asked Thrawn
“Most impressive. So Admiral Thrawn, what does this piece of art tell you about me?” asked Palpatine. Thrawn replied matter-of-factly, yet full of meaning, “My Lord, you are a Sith.” ”And you my dear Admiral are brilliant and useful, pray that you remain both and do not forget what you have learned tonight,” said Palpatine. “I will not my Lord,” said Thrawn exhaling in a mixture of relief and anxiety. ” I am glad we understand each other,” said the Emperor.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Raiding Party, a story of Ahsoka Tano.
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