Dark Forces: Soldier for the Empire was the first volume in the Dark Forces trilogy of novellas written by William C. Dietz. It was originally released on February 1, 1997 by Dark Horse Comics and Berkley Boulevard, and both the hardcover and trade paperback contain twenty-five full-color illustrations by Dean Williams.

Publisher's summary[]


Back cover[]

Kyle Katarn is a decorated graduate from the Imperial Military Academy who would forfeit his very life for the Empire. But he wouldn't forfeit his father's life, and that's what the Empire has taken. Kyle is willing to do anything to avenge his father's death which is what the Rebel Alliance is counting on. Join Kyle Katarn in this brand-new, fast-paced tale of adventure and suspense.

Based on the popular Star Wars: DARK FORCES and Star Wars: JEDI KNIGHT interactive games, this novella-length prose-story is written by acclaimed author William C. Dietz (The Final Battle) and illustrated by award-winning artist Dean Williams (Tarzan: The Lost Adventure).

Inside flap[]

Kyle Katarn has just graduated from the Imperial Military Academy on Carida when he learns of his father's untimely death and departs for home. During the trip, Kyle cements a friendship with a Rebel agent, learns the ugly truth about the way his father died, and swears revenge on the Empire. His opportunity comes when the Alliance offers him a nearly suicidal mission: break into the Imperial Research Facility on Danuta, find the Death Star plans, and bring them out.

This brand-new adventure provides background to, and incorporates elements of, the LucasArts DARK FORCES and JEDI KNIGHT interactive games and prepares the way for books two and three: Dark Forces—Rebel Agent and Dark Forces—Jedi Knight.

Trade paperback[]

Kyle Katarn is a decorated graduate from the Imperial Military Academy who would forfeit his life for the Empire. But when he learns of his father's untimely death—and the devastating way in which he was killed—Kyle swears revenge against the very Imperial forces he was about to join.

His opportunity comes when the Rebel Alliance offers him a special mission: break into the Imperial Research Facility on Danuta, find the Death Star plans, and bring them out.

Any sensible person would call it suicide. Kyle calls it vengeance.

Providing background to, and incorporating elements of, the #1 bestselling Star Wars: Dark Forces and Jedi Knight interactive games, this novella-length prose story is written by acclaimed author William C. Dietz (Steelheart) and stunningly illustrated by award-winning artist Dean Williams (Tarzan: The Lost Adventure).

"A lush and gorgeous book, Soldier for the Empire captures all the color, wonder, and excitement of a true Star Wars tale. William C. Dietz and Dean Williams collaborate in a new format for a new perspective on one of the greatest stories ever told."
Kevin J. Anderson[src]

Plot summary[]

Morgan Katarn on Sulon

Chapter 1[]

On the moon Sulon, Morgan Katarn is tinkering in his workshop with his droid WeeGee, which can change configuration. While taking a walk and watching the planet Sullust in the horizon, he reflects on how financial necessity led his son Kyle Katarn to enroll in the Imperial Military Academy.

Aboard the Imperial Star Destroyer Vengeance, the Inquisitor Jerec orders Captain Thrawn to deploy a dropship and capture Morgan Katarn alive. An Imperial Army special operations unit Ghost Battalion, led by Lieutenant Brazack attack the Danga family's farm with a camouflaged Corellian light freighter, killing the inhabitants. Since they are disguised as rebels, the Rebel Alliance will be blamed for the attack. Brazack's troops invade Morgan's home and disintegrate his droid WeeGee. Morgan watches the raid from a hill and realize he can't return home. Since Lieutenant Brazack's force was unable to capture Morgan, Jerec gives Thrawn and Brazack another opportunity to redeem themselves.

Following the raid, Morgan attends a meeting of the Sulon rebel cell, who resolve to defend the Geothermal tap with everything they had. However, the meeting is being watched by an Imperial probe droid, which reports everything to Jerec. As the rebels prepare for the coming battle, the rebel information officer Candice Ondi tries to comfort Morgan by telling him that footage of the Imperial assault on the Sulon farmers would be broadcast to the wider public. Morgan knows they are outgunned but puts on a brave face.

The Imperial ground assault forces are commanded by Major Noda and includes several AT-AT and AT-ST walkers. The rebel forces destroy two AT-STs with missiles. The rebel fighters Trol and Vester shoot down the Imperial Corellian light freighter with an SLM missile. Despite fierce rebel resistance, the rebels are defeated by Jerec's Imperial forces.

37 rebels are taken prisoner. While most are to be put to death, leaders are held for interrogation. A wounded Morgan is taken captive by Major Noda and brought before Jerec. Jerec orders that Morgan be executed and his head installed in a public place. He also sends a message of Emperor Palpatine informing him that Sulon has been pacified.

Chapter 2[]

Kyle leading stormtroopers on AX456

The stormtrooper Cadet Leader Kyle Katarn takes part in a military exercise known as Omega Exercise, which involves live combat against rebel forces. Under the command of Sergeant Major Hong, he and his fellow cadets disembark from an assault boats and storm a rebel base on the asteroid AX-456. They see combat action against the rebels and several are killed.

Despite serious losses, the Imperials manage to storm the comm center where they encounter several rebel officers, who raise their hands to surrender. Kyle Katarn manages to convince his unit including an unhappy Hong to spare the rebels. He takes an interest in a young woman with dark brown hair and eyes. They manage to plant explosives before rebel reinforcements can enter the base. While the Imperials are resting and eating, they are attacked by rebel reinforcements.

Jerec, Imperial Inquisitor and murderer of Morgan

Chapter 3[]

Back at the Imperial Military Academy, Cadet Leader Kyle Katarn recovers from the injuries he sustained during the Battle of AX-456. Kyle learns that two rebel ships had arrived after he had been knocked unconscious, loading the surviving staff and lifting off. The first ship managed to escape and but the second was shot down. Only six members of his unit survived. General Rom Mohc commends Katarn for bravery and invites him for dinner with Jerec.

On graduation day, Katarn marches with his fellow cadets including the snobbish Nathan Donar III through the Military Academy's parade grounds. During the graduation ceremony, General Mohc awards the now Second Lieutenant Katarn the Medal of Valor for showing bravery and valor in combat.

Following the ceremony, he meets Jerec but is unnerved by the dark side presence he can sense emanating from the hooded man. Jerec hints that Katarn is Force-sensitive and invites him to climb the ladder, join those who possess power, and claim what is his. Katarn's classmate and friend Meck Odom invites Katarn for dinner with his wealthy family as a treat.

Later that night, Katarn is devastated by the news that his father Morgan was allegedly killed during a rebel raid. Unaware that Jerec murdered his father, Kyle wonders why the rebels would kill his father who was sympathetic to the Rebellion. Recalling the Battle of AX-456, Katarn questions his decision to spare the rebels on the asteroid.

Rebel agent Jan Ors

Chapter 4[]

After securing compassionate leave from the Imperial Military, Kyle travels to the orbital transfer station off Dorlon II where he boards a shuttle tat takes him to the galactic liner Star of Empire. Katarn socializes with fellow alumni Nathan Donar, his mother Madame Donar, and Governor Dol Donar II of Derra IV and Lando Calrissian, who invites them for a game of sabacc.

While walking through the liner, he catches sight of the female rebel he encountered on AX-456 and follows her below deck. He is captured by the rebel soldier Rosco Ross, a fellow human man with blond crew cut hair. Rosco wants to kill Kyle but the rebel woman recognizes him as the Imperial stormtrooper who spared her and her rebel comrades' lives on AX-456. She introduces herself as Jan Ors. Rosco tells Kyle that he has more information and arranges to meet with Kyle at the library in an hour's time.

While socializing in the library, Jan introduces Kyle to the protocol droid A-Cee, who was assigned to the rebel correspondent Candice Ondi. A-Cee plays back a recording which reveals that the Empire staged a false flag attack on Sulon, used it as a pretext to wipe out local rebel forces, and murdered Kyle's father Morgan. To add insult to injury, Morgan's head was placed on a pike in public. Outraged by the Empire's lies, Kyle Katarn rips the bar symbolizing his Medal of Valor from his uniform and throws it into the recycling bin; formally joining the Rebellion.

A-Cee's last stand

Chapter 5[]

Seeking to join the Rebellion, Kyle Katarn manages to convince Jan to give him passage aboard her starship Truly Sorry by repairing her damaged hyperdrive motivator. Jan's plan is to part company with the Star in two days time. However, they are being spied upon by a microdroid belonging to the Rodian bounty hunter Slyder, who reports the presence of rebels to Governor Donar. Slyder covets Kyle's Medal of Valor.

After receiving a message from Nathan to steer clear from Jan and to be ready to answer questions, Kyle realizes that the Imperials are aware of the rebel presence and alerts Jan. They arrange to meet on the hangar deck. Slyder pursues Jan and A-Cee and manages to shoot the droid but Jan escapes. Reaching Truly Sorry, Kyle and Katarn board the ship but are unable to get Hangar Control to allow them to leave. Kyle open fires on a nearby SoroSuub shuttle, creating a distraction. Jan manages to board the ship before Imperial forces can capture her. After struggling with the hangar deck's hydraulics, the rebels manage to break Truly Sorry free of the docking system. Tehy are also joined by another rebel agent named Ris Waller.

Following the rebels' escape, Slyder is present when the Imperials examine the captured rebel protocol droid A-Cee aboard Governor Donar's yacht. However, the Imperial technicians accidentally activate the droid's self-destruct mechanism. Disgusted by the Imperial failure to take precautions, Slyder kills the Imperials with his blaster. While waiting for the countdown, he transfers his trophies to his mother. Meanwhile, Kyle and Jan watch the Governor's yacht explode. Kyle believes that one of the dead is Nathan.

Jan and Katarn meet the rebel leader Mon Mothma aboard the Dreadnaught-class heavy cruiser New Hope. Mothma is familiar with Kyle's father Morgan, whom she got to know through a Jedi named Qu Rahn. She briefs Kyle about an Imperial superweapon known as the Death Star and tasks him with stealing the Death Star plans from the Imperial research facility on Danuta. During the briefing, he spots his friend Meck Odom in a video. While worried about the prospect of having to kill his friend, he accepts the mission.

In secret, Mothma tasks Jan with following Katarn since she distrusts the former Imperial officer. Mothma is aware that the officer in the holorecording is Kyle's friend Odom. Jan speaks up for Kyle but Mothma wants to rule out the possibility that Katarn is an Imperial spy and tasks her with killing him if he proves disloyal to the Rebellion. She also briefs Jan about rebel plans to steal a different set of the Death star plans from Toprawa, which contain the battle station's hull design and life support infrastructure. The Danuta plans contain additional engineering schematics and possibly a map of the offensive and defensive weapons emplacements.

Chapter 6[]

After some difficulty, Kyle Katarn finds an old ship called the Moldy Crow for his mission to Danuta. Jan departs with a teenage female co-pilot named Jes. After five days of travel, Kyle arrives at Danuta where he manages to pass through Imperial customs by posing as a spacer named Dan Drexel. Meanwhile, Jan settles into a rented apartment on Danuta while Kyle scouts the Imperial research facility while struggling with the prospect of having to kill Odom.

Struggling with the prospect of having to kill Kyle, Jan visits a temple run by an Ortolan monk. While visiting the Blue Moon cantina, Kyle reunites with his old friend Odom. Kyle learns that he is wanted by the Empire on charges of desertion, treason, and murder. Kyle confides in Odom that he is guilty of the first two but not the latter. When Odom asks where does he come in, Kyle explains.

Jan, who has been tailing Kyle, later confronts him outside the Blue Moon and asks about his relationship with Odom. Kyle reassures her that he is not a traitor to the rebels but that he wanted to protect Odom and to leave him out of it. After telling Jan that he has pulled Odom into their cause, the two settle down for dinner.

Kyle during the assault on Danuta

Chapter 7[]

Odom helps Kyle by temporarily overriding the collateral security systems, allowing Kyle to infiltrate the Danuta research facility. Kyle's plan is to steal the partial Death Star plans while Jan is responsible for extraction. Kyle then uses an air shaft to enter the facility's interior where he fights Imperial commandos and stormtroopers. He uses the Force to gain an advantage over the Imperial defenders.

Meanwhile, Jan heads to the Moldy Crow to facilitate the extraction but is pursued by Imperial forces. Following a gun battle, she manages to take off in the light freighter. In response to the breach, Major Horst deploys Imperial reinforcements. Following a blaster battle, Kyle reaches the computer laboratory where the partial Death Star plans are stored and steals the matrix storing it. He encounters his friend and mole Odom and stuns him to deflect suspicion from Odom.

Having obtained the plans, Kyle escapes down a turbolift which leads to a courtyard where Jan is waiting for him aboard the Moldy Crow. After escaping stormtroopers, the two escape into space aboard the Moldy Crow. Kyle and Jan are relieved that they survived the mission and managed to steal the partial Death Star plans.


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