Uncivil Unrest, chapter 1: The Bounty Hunter Wars, Part 1: Beyond the Rim

State of the Outer Rim

With the destruction of Alderaan and the Death Star, all but the most extremely distant and isolated worlds are aware that they are living through the midst of the Galactic Civil War. The Empire, a seemingly invincible juggernaut, has missed its chance to decisively crush the Rebellion, and now vast swathes of the previously-neutral Outer Rim are declaring open allegiance to the Rebellion. In response to the loss of their battle station, the Empire lashes out furiously in all directions like a blind giant.

Despite countless speeches by Imperial propagandists about bringing order to the galaxy, the practical effect of the past decade of Imperial policy has been to shatter the fragile peace enjoyed by the rimward regions of the galaxy and plunge countless sectors of space into chaos. Pirates, crime syndicates, and smugglers may not dare to set foot in the core worlds; but beyond those privileged bastions, they reign supreme. The dissolution of the senate and the last vestiges of the Old Republic’s bureaucracy also swept away a centuries-enduring law enforcement apparatus, leaving poorly-defended systems and settlers dependent upon the newly formed Imperial Army and Navy – who were more interested in crushing dissent and collecting ruinous levels of taxation and tribute than stamping out the spice trade or protecting citizens from marauding criminals. If the citizens in question happen to be nonhuman, Imperial troops are more likely to come as slavers and agents of terror than as protectors.

In this age of chaos in the Outer Rim, where enforcement of the law only reaches as far as the range of one’s blaster or the favor of those in power, many turn to bounty hunters and vigilantism. But among them, too, there is only division. A month before the Battle of Yavin, the Empire officially seized control of the ancient and well-respected Galactic Bounty Hunter’s Guild. The implicit offer that came with Imperial control filtered through to every hunter: from now on, certain influential criminals (most notably Black Sun and the Hutt Cartels) would be off-limits, untouchable regardless of their actions, and secondly, the hunters would abandon their long policy of neutrality in matters of interplanetary warfare and make hunting down members of the Rebel Alliance their top priority.

This was the culmination of a change that had been taking place for years – after the clone wars, a new generation of ruthless, violent hunters who scorned any code of ethics emerged… the most prominent of whom is a mysterious Mandalorian by the name of Boba Fett. Though part of Fett’s legend is his preference for working alone, by the time of the Battle of Yavin, he had become seen as the Guild’s de-facto leader and representative, after the death under mysterious circumstances of the old top hunter, Crossk.

After the Empire took direct control of the guild, a faction of idealists split away and formed their own guild, dubbing themselves the ‘Guild Reform Committee’. Part of their charter stated that, although the GRC would not directly violate Imperial law, they considered the Alliance to Restore the Republic to be the legitimate government of those star systems the rebels held, and would fulfill bounty contracts posted by ANY legitimate government. This has potentially great implications on the course of the war, if the GRC survives and succeeds; the Empire is relying more and more heavily on their back-room alliances and business deals with the Hutt Cartels, Black Sun, Tenloss Syndicate and others to procure the materials and slave labor to build a new superweapon. Sometimes the Alliance can’t afford to confront these syndicates directly, needing outside help – and sometimes the Alliance just needs aid in dealing with ordinary pirates, bandits, and gangsters in the few star systems that they control directly.

This is fortunate, since all is not well within the Rebellion. Despite their success destroying the Death Star and a military force that has quadrupled in strength over the past year, powerful forces just beneath the surface threaten to tear the Alliance apart; just before the battle of Yavin, the Alliance was on the brink of splintering into at least three separate organizations, pulled in drastically different directions by the three principal leaders – Mon Mothma of Chandrila, Garm Bel Iblis of Correllia, and Borsk Fey’lya of Bothan space. There are burning unresolved questions of ideology at the core of the Rebel Alliance – and the death of Bail Organa, the man who held them all together and had the patience to negotiate a compromise with each, has thrown those questions into sharp relief. Whether from disagreements over practical tactics or political ideals, clashes within the Rebel Alliance have only grown in frequency – usually nonviolent, but not always. Each of the three figureheads fears the other two forming an alliance against him or her, which barely keeps them from opposing one another overtly. Of course, smaller, local sub-factions of the Rebellion are not so restrained… and even the influential leaders of the Alliance are not above trying to gain an advantage through the use of outside agents.

And above all of this chaos, a glaring vacuum lurks – the absence of the Jedi Order, who guided the galaxy through turmoil, maintained peace, and sought always to advise and protect the Old Republic, never to control it for themselves. Though there are many divisive questions filling the air on the neutral and rebellious worlds of the galaxy – the place of ex-Separatists in the rebel alliance, the acceptability of those who were once criminals and pirates, the status of droids, quarrels between races, the legality of spice and so on – the weightiest question, often spoken of only in hushed tones, is the loss of the Jedi… whether they are gone forever, whether they might be reborn and reformed, and indeed, whether they should return. The Jedi were not the only tradition of force users in the galaxy, and though many of these other traditions have been wiped out by the Empire as well, some have endured in far greater numbers than the Jedi. Even without secrets such as lightsaber combat, some have ambitions of using their powers to claim guardianship (or domination) of the galaxy themselves.

Of course, the powers of the force are not the only ancient secrets slowly re-emerging into the light of day. Artifacts, beings, artificial intelligences, and even whole organizations that have lain quiescent for centuries or millennia are stirring once more, sensing that the time to pursue ancient and unknowable goals has finally come…

FFG Star Wars: Uncivil Unrest

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