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Let the Dice Fall Where They May

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Opening crawl text illustrated in the style of Star Wars movie openings

[Opening crawl: Turmoil shakes the galaxy following the destruction of the planet Hosnian Prime at the hands of the FIRST ORDER. Alliances and factions spring up at every turn, on the edge of all-out war.

The RESISTANCE led by General Leia Organa grows in strength as fighters and resources from every corner of the REPUBLIC flood in to face the First Order threat. Luke Skywalker has returned with Rey, seeking a new path for the Jedi.

The First Order's power grows as well, for some planets come to its banner or try to appease the warlike fleet.]

***

Freshly showered and with a new undersuit - even in a holo-meeting, standards were important - Phasma made her way to the viewing chamber. Walking the familiar corridors, she noted with some satisfaction that she saw no loiterers today among the crew as all around her they tended busily to their work.

Whung The door to the viewing chamber slid open with a muted noise as Phasma entered the cavernous room. With distaste, she wondered again at the sheer size and scale of the room on a Battlecruiser where space was at a carefully planned premium. She could have fit at least a floor of barracks in that striking high ceiling, possibly two. The drama of Force users - in Admiral Sloane's day, this would not have passed for good design.

Hux was waiting for her on the catwalk halfway to the viewing station. "Ah, good, Phasma. You're here," he said, straightening his uniform jacket and adjusting the lay of his coat. "I've had word that it's to be an emergency meeting of the High Command."

"I take it Lord Ren will not be joining us?" Phasma asked dryly.

Hux shot her a darkly pleased look. "It's probably on policy - not his sort of thing at all." He gestured toward the viewing platform with a flick of his hand. "Shall we proceed?"

As they reached the end of the catwalk, life-sized blue figures flickered into life all around them. Three generals and four admirals, the rest of the High Command. Phasma was the only Captain of the Guard there, she noted. Not an unusual state of affairs, but one which probably meant that it would be her stormtroopers that would be called into action.

No one spoke, waiting for the Supreme Leader to appear. A grand entrance was one of the privileges of power, Phasma thought, as she, Hux and the entire High Command stood silently at attention in the dark for what felt like an age. Finally, the massive form of the Supreme Leader's hologram snapped into focus with a crackle of static.

Hux and his fellows fell to one knee, until Snoke waved them to rise. Phasma didn't bother - anyone Force-blind below the rank of General was beneath the Supreme Leader's notice.

"I have gathered you today on the subject of expansion," said the huge and terrible figure of their leader. "A most... interesting proposal has been made. Admiral Antilles?"

The hologram of a sturdy middle-aged man holding a data pad made a brief bow to their leader, then began.

"As we've touched upon previously, the First Order Security Bureau has been looking into appropriate venues for expansion in the wake of Hosnian Prime. We believe we have found a strong candidate to put before you: The Dubrillion System."

An electronic murmur of interest went up from the assembled High Command. "Antilles has held that one close to his chest," Hux muttered under his breath. Phasma tipped her head subtly in acknowledgment. Taking the opportunity for expansion certainly made sense, but there hadn't been a ripple of this in her intelligence network.

Antilles tapped his pad, and two planets sprang to life in the space over the pit of the viewing room. "Dubrillion and Destrillion, one highly inhabitable, the other a mining planet, both rich in resources. No native intelligent life, and a commerce-oriented culture, approximately 60-70% human or near-human." He gestured, and the planets shrank, and fell into context on a larger star map. "It may be in the Myto Sector of the Outer Rim, but don't be fooled, it is strategically located. Dubrillion lies on the Veragi Trade Route between Ord Trasi and Salin, and links directly to the Hydian Way through the Salin Corridor. There may be no better place to set a resupply port and base of operations for our activities in the Trans-Hydian Borderlands."

"And their military?" asked a thin, painfully earnest-sounding man. Phasma tried to recall his name. Xalbin, that was it. Recently promoted and desperate to impress, no doubt.

"Not much. A relatively small planetary garrison, some mining transports that run the asteroid belt which can be armed in case of emergencies: Weequay pirates, Hutts, that sort of thing. They could be worth a wing, possibly a wing and a half of fighters,” Antilles said with a shrug that caused his hologram to sputter slightly. “Worth noting, but not a significant obstacle."

He gestured again, and the star map was replaced by a hologram of a city. Small, but with soaring towers and fanciful architecture. Tiny holographic ships came and went on a repeating loop. "Dubrillion has a commerce-centered culture - apparently they are under the impression that less government is better government. They have an administrator, the current one is Lando Calrissian, and a Planetary Assembly.”

"I doubt we have much to fear from Dubrillion, they're merchants,” sneered General Virilac, a thin, hard woman Hux had once served under. “They sway with the lightest political breeze. They were Separatists in the Clone Wars, and then suddenly the most 'loyal' of Imperial outposts."

"What about the New Republic? They are a member state," asked Admiral Rostan's hologram, from the far side of the room. He had never liked Antilles – or risk, for that matter.

Antilles smiled jovially. "I think the New Republic will find that the people of Dubrillion want us to come,” he said. “Positively welcome us."

"Oh?" asked Rostan, arch and dubious.

"We'll take a vote,” said Admiral Antilles, ingenuous. “After we land, of course," he added with a wicked grin.

"And Calrissian? Some regard him as a war hero," Virilac probed.

"He is nothing, an opportunist. Calrissian knelt to the Empire on Bespin, he will bend the knee here. As long as the First Order holds power, and allows him his petty business interests, he will be an asset. Of course, were someone else to take Dubrillion, he would serve them as well, but this is not our concern."

“So are we agreed?” asked the towering figure of Snoke, as if there could be any question. As if their agreement mattered. Which, obviously, it did not. The gathered High Command nodded, muttered and shrugged their agreement. “The Dubrillion System will fall,” decreed the Supreme Leader. And so it would, thought Phasma. Here we go.

***
Temmin Wexley stormed into the busy command center, plowing straight though a crowd of communications ensigns who were in his way as he looked for his target

"Hey, watch it, ship jockey!" snarled a large young Twilek he had elbowed aside. A new guy. There were a lot of those these days. "You can't just..."

"Sure, sorry, but don't stand in doorways," Temmin said, impatiently as he scanned the room. "Have any of you seen the general?" he asked them as they glared at him.

"No, why?" said a young human woman who managed to roll her eyes and stare insolently at the same time.

Where was she? Where was she? There was no time for this. Fine, sure, he'd do this the embarrassing way, why not. This was more important than his pride.

"Hey!" Temmin called across the room, pitching his voice to carry. Big lungs were good for something, at least. "Has anybody seen the general?" he shouted. The buzz of activity in the bunker-like room ground to a halt. Every pair of eyes or sensors in the room were on him, and most of them looked annoyed. He cleared his throat and straightened his sweaty flight suit. There had been no time to change, and now he felt it. "Uh, seriously, anyone know where she is? Like, right now?" he asked in a slightly more reasonable tone of voice.

The next few moments were incredibly awkward and he almost thought he would have to shout again that no, seriously, he meant it, this was important. Then a familiar gray head popped out from behind a suite of tactical holo-screens on the other side of the room. "It's all right, back to work everybody," General Organa said. "Snap? With me," she said, gesturing for him to come along. He did.

Once they were in the small conference room off the north wall - the one that used to be a large supply closet - the general turned to Temmin. "Well?" she asked, sounding amused and a little wary, "What do you have for me, Snap?"

"We couldn't risk it on the comms, General," he said, all in a rush. "They can't know that we know, at least not until you know that it's time for them to know that we know, but first you have to know..." Temmin caught his breath. "The fleet's converging," he said.

General Organa craned her neck to the side to catch Temmin's downcast eyes."The First Order fleet is converging? How many ships? Where? I need details, Snap," she told him, firmly, but not unkind.

Temmin swallowed. "The Reconnaissance wing, we just spotted it. Half the wing is still back there, gathering intel, but if they transmit, the Order will know we're there. They're there." He shook his head. "It's not the whole fleet, but there are four battlecruisers - four of them and all their support ships. They're on course for the Veragi Trade Route, and what chatter we could pick up sounds like Dubrillion. They could be there by early tomorrow."

Leia Organa looked pained. "Four battlecruisers and their support. That's a full planetary invasion fleet. We don't have enough forces ourselves, and we can't gather enough of our allies' warships fast enough to counter that. It's going to have to be an evacuation. Do you have the evidence with you?" she asked.

Temmin nodded, patted his pocket with the data chips, and then figured out that she meant he should hand them over. He did. "Thank you," she said, reaching up for his shoulder in a quick pat, "We don't have a minute to lose. Run down to the hangar and scare up all the pilots and flight crew you can, and get them comming every shipper and smuggler they know. If you have to send some of them out to bars, do it. We need anything with a space drive that can carry passengers. I'll get the staff on this and bring in Ackbar and Statura. Go!"

Temmin went. It would end up being a long and terrible day - no, three days - for the Resistance, let alone Dubrillion.

***

In the distance, they could hear the bombs. Closer, coming closer with every moment, the sounds of blaster fire as Resistance troops holding back the tide of stormtroopers, block by block through the streets. Outside the city medcenter, doctors and healers tried to handle the remaining crowd of patients and family members slated for immediate evacuation. The infants from the maternity ward had gone first, followed by the intensive care patients who might have been scheduled for “mercy”, but hundreds were left, desperate for a ride out.

All kinds of volunteered small spacecrafts clustered along the street and sidewalk. Mining craft, military shuttles, cargo shuttles, broken down old personal crafts. Dust choked the warm spring air from so many take offs and landings. Finn crouched on the edge of the deck of a hovering shuttle, helping the injured and weak in as Rey floated them up to him. A sickly-looking Rodian child whimpered as his father comforted him.

"Don't worry, you're next," Finn told the worried father over the roar of the engines, then turned and reached out for the aged Twilek woman with a cane who Rey floated gently up to him on a wave of Force. "Here you go ma'am. Good luck," he said, as he settled her into a seat toward the back of the packed shuttle.

Rey floated up the older and healthier of the two Rodian children - too large to be easily lifted by hand, too small to scramble aboard - as the father handed up his younger child, then heaved himself up to the deck to join his family. "I don't think we can fit any more," Rey said sadly, catching her breath. "That's the last of them for this ship, I think."

"Okay, you're full!" Finn called into the shuttle to the pilot. "Go!

"See you back at base," the shuttle pilot called back, "Okay everyone, we're getting out of here!"

***
Stormtroopers marched by, and those endless, horrible announcements played over and over. Lando Calrissian stood in the ruins of all he had built and mourned. Oh, it looked the same, minus a scorchmark here or there, easily taken care of. But the prosperity, the peace, three quarters of the people... Those were gone. They might never come back in his lifetime.

"Are you ready for another fight, old man?" asked a voice from about waist-height at Lando's side. He looked down; the voice came from a small orange alien woman.

"And you would be, old woman?" he asked, echoing her tone.

"Organa sent me," she said, and reached out for his hand. He shook it, bemused. "I'm Maz Kanata," she said, "And you didn't answer my question."

"Of course I'm ready," Lando said, "Or I would be long gone already. Wait, Chewie's Maz?" he asked.

"The very one," she said, with a conspiratorial smile, "And if you will put up with a strange old woman's folly, we'll see what we can do for this planet of yours..."

***

Throughout the halls of the Finalizer and the other Dubrillion Force battlecruisers, in hastily converted barracks in the cities of Dubrillion, view screens came on of their own accord with a fervent and memorable chime. It was time, again, for a message from the High Command. The familiar voice of General Hux was accompanied with vid footage of their Acquisition of Dubrillion.

“We, the First Order salute you troops of the Dubrillion Expeditionary Force! With your victory we have liberated the oppressed natives of this planet. Free and fair elections will be held under our supervision and we are confident that the beings of Dubrillion will seek the stewardship and protection of the First Order.”

“And from this victory comes the seeds of even greater triumph. We will use this planet, this strong foundation built upon your victory not only to spread order through systems long under the sway of the crumbling Republic, but also to strike first and stop the corrupt Syndien Alliance where they stand before they spread their vile tentacles further...”

Ah, I see, thought Phasma as she went back to work numbly. A war on two fronts, perfect. The possibilities, no, the probabilities, spun out before her. “We're pfassked,” she whispered.

The text of the propaganda broadcast, formatted as a propaganda poster