Director Orson Krennic awoke to find himself alone atop the Citadel tower on Scarif.
The rebels, it seemed, had limped away with a victory, and soon the Death Star plans would be delivered to the Rebellion.
For all the good it will do them, Krennic thought.
Krennic winced as he cradled his injured arm against his chest, while the other struggled to prop him up just enough to examine his surroundings.
Below him, the battle seemed to be little more than small skirmishes, the troopers picking off the remaining rebels and overhead TIE Fighters screamed, chasing down X-wings.
None of it concerned, Krennic. What did concern him was the large eye staring down at him from the sky.
The Death Star...his Death Star...was fixated on him.
Krennic could practically feel Tarkin’s eyes pierce his soul from thousands of kilometers away. He knew those thin lips were most likely pulled back into a skeletal grin.
But it would be Orson Krennic who had the last laugh, because for the first time in Krennic’s life, things were actually going to go right for him.
As long as Tarkin plays his part, that is...
And five long minutes later, Krennic found that the grand moff was just as predictable as ever.
The Death Star began to charge, and three green lasers bled across the wide circular dish. Normally, the three streams would meet in the center, focusing their energy into a single beam that would pierce the planet’s surface and destroy the entire city.
Not this time.
This time, the three green beams turned into six, then into twelve, and then fled from the dish like a glowing green plague spreading through the veins of the battle station.
Fighting against pain and exhaustion, Orson used his good arm to force himself to his knees. This was his greatest moment and he wished to see it as clearly as he could.
One month earlier…
Krennic made sure his carefully written message was sent specifically to High Command; this included Mas Amedda, Wilhuff Tarkin and the Emperor himself.
The message was brief, concise, and carefully constructed, something guaranteed to be seen by everyone.
Especially Wilhuff Tarkin.
[Important Note for High Command in Charge of the Death Star. In the event that anyone besides myself is in charge of deploying the super laser: The ignition safety drives (ISDs) must all be green-lit before firing the main cannon. If a single ISD is flashing red, then the cannon must not be fired. The operators are trained for this, however, it is up to the one in command to verify this detail. An oversight could lead to disastrous results.]
It was less than ten minutes before he received the message he had been waiting for.
Wilhuff Tarkin was never one to miss out on mocking the Director.
[I believe we can handle ensuring the green lights remain green, Director. Thank the Empire you are here to educate us on basic mechanical warning cues.]
That response was Krennic’s “green light”.
And Krennic began to craft his sabotage of the battle station’s thermal exhaust port.
The Death Star’s explosion was a thing of beauty.
It was not a blinding flash as Krennic had expected, but something of a slow disintegration. The lasers were eroding the infrastructure as he had predicted. The meltdown was happening from within and it would destroy the entire station from the inside out.
He had partially hoped Tarkin’s life would end with a bang, but he would take a slow dissolve. There would be no time for evacuation. All Tarkin would be able to do is watch. The slow dance of debris spreading across the sky of Scarif, raining down meteors of fire of orange and green, was something Krennic would treasure for the rest of his life.
It was beautiful.
And best of all…it was over. No more Tarkin. No more rivalry. No more obstacles to stand in his way.
After all, if Krennic was not destined to possess his Death Star, no one would. He’d rather have it destroyed than in the withering hands of a short-sighted politician.
Krennic pressed the distress beacon tucked in his boot and five minutes later a TIE Fighter came to his aid.
Slowly, Krennic rose to his feet, swaying a bit as the wake of a fighter blew hot wind in his direction as it hovered at the end of the walkway.
The pilot threw open the front hatch and held out his hand to help the Director inside. The space was cramped and smelled like musty leather and ozone. He fell into the passenger seat and allowed the pilot to strap him in, despite wanting to swat him away.
“Sir! Are you alright?”
Krennic nodded, mindful to keep his satisfied smirk to himself.
“Far better now…Take us out of here and to the nearest star destroyer. It appears the battle still rages above us. You do know evasive maneuvers, do you not?”
The pilot laughed. “Sir, Me and the Bullet Dodger will get ya back safe n’ sound. Don’t you worry.”
“There’s a good lad,” Krennic sighed, wiping the sweat from his soaked brow with his one good hand. “Off we go then.”
With some effort, Krennic managed to pull his datapad from his belt clip. The screen was cracked, but the device still functioned. Ignoring the exciting evasive maneuvers of the Bullet Dodger, Krennic focused on his reports.
There may have been a barrel roll or two and the cockpit shook as the pilot whooped in alarm,but Krennic paid no mind. What mattered was his plan. What mattered is covering his tracks. He idly waved away the bothersome sparks as the TIE zipped through the perilous skies, pulling up the reports of the Death Star’s final readouts. He hurriedly tweaked the numbers, erasing all traces of the sabotage he had planted just before he left for Scarif.
After several long minutes, he breathed a sigh of relief…not when the pilot reported that they had taken down two more x-wings, but because now if anyone were to check, they would see that it was Tarkin who caused the Death Star’s demise.
If only he had checked the ignition drives.
Such a shame. Krennic rehearsed in his head. He could not wait to say those words to his fellow officers as they spoke of Tarkin’s death.
Krennic submitted the first message to his entire engineering staff.
[I want reports on all details of the cannon’s calibrations immediately. I want the ISD matrices sent to me directly immediately. I want answers NOW.]
No sooner did he send the message than a holo transmission came in.
It was Mas Amedda.
Krennic did not answer right away. He took a moment to ruffle up his still-semi perfect hair. There was dirt on his gloves and he rubbed a bit of it on his face. He angled the camera to ensure it would capture the blackened wound on his shoulder.
This was it.
The moment of truth.
With the press of a button Mas Amedda’s horned head floated above his datapad.
“Answers, Director. NOW!”
Krennic dove into his explanation immediately. It was an explanation he had memorized, but its organic delivery was powered by the physical pain in his shoulder, by the adrenaline that caused the datapad to shake in his hand, and the sweat and dirt on his face.
He recounted his warning a month earlier that something like this could happen. He reminded Amedda of Tarkin’s flippant response. He lamented at the great loss of his creation. The Death Star, his achievement, gone! It was outrageous! A tragedy!
In truth, Krennic did feel true grief as he spoke to Amedda, but he also had to be mindful not to let that self-satisfied smirk seep to the surface of his devastated face.
Amedda was quiet after Krennic was done.
Then he nodded his huge, horned head.
“Agreed. Tarkin has always been a bit of a maverick when it came to following orders of underlings. It lead to his downfall, of course.”
Krennic refused to be rankled by being considered an “underling” to the governor, but…then again…Tarkin was dead and Krennic was not. His days of being an underling were over.
“You will come to Coruscant immediately,” the grand vizier directed. “Gather your data and whatever reports you can. The Emperor wishes to speak to you about his back-up plan and the future of your position in the Empire. There will be no more incidences like this, Director. It will be your head next time.”
Krennic bit the inside of his lip to keep himself from smiling. He grimaced in pain instead. “As…as you wish. I will come straight away.”
“See a medic first,” Amedda said, with irritation. “I will not have you passing out in front of the Emperor.”
“Yes, yes of course. Thank you, sir.”
Amedda’s face vanished. Krennic sank back into his chair and grabbed a small first aid kit attached to the back of the pilot’s seat.
“What’s your name, pilot?” He asked as he began to root around for a stimpack and bacta gel.
“Captain Sinj, sir.” The pilot said, who was bringing them into open space, dodging Death Star debris instead of rebel fighters.
“Well, Sinj. If you get us out of here alive, you will be the personal pilot of the next grand moff of the Empire.”
“Yes, sir! If you don’t mind my asking. Who will that be?”
Krennic finally allowed his wolfish smile to shine through.