- "If the Emperor's Messenger still carries a message, it is locked within the thing's synthetic brain."
- ―Colonel Soran Keize, discusses the messenger droid with Lieutenant Yrica Quell
During the Galactic Civil War, the 204th Imperial Fighter Wing's commanding officer, Colonel Soran Keize sent a strike team, led by Lieutenant Yrica Quell, on a secret mission to Netalych, to obtain information buried within the programming of one of the Emperor's messenger droids.
- "Whether we win or lose this war, we need to know everything that's locked in the circuits of that machine. It will either prove my fears correct or save us all."
- ―Colonel Soran Keize, discusses the messenger droid with Lieutenant Yrica Quell
Following the Battle of Endor, several messenger droids were sent out across the galaxy, to various commanding officers of the Galactic Empire, delivering Emperor Palpatine's final Contingency on his death, and resulted in Operation: Cinder. One of these messenger droids was sent to Colonel Shakara Nuress, leader of the 204th Imperial Fighter Wing, an elite unit that then participated in many attacks on worlds on behalf of Operation: Cinder, including the destruction of Nacronis. The New Republic put together a working group, led by General Hera Syndulla, that was tasked with hunting down the 204th. Lieutenant Yrica Quell, a 204th pilot who left the Empire after Nacronis, and defected to the New Republic, where she led a small intelligence team, called Alphabet Squadron, that was the speadhead in the hunting the 204th.
Following the death of Nuress, the 204th saw the return of one of its own, Soran Keize, who had also left the Empire shortly after Nacronis, but came back seeking to guide the elite unit and give them purpose. Keize eventually became the 204th's new leader and was promoted to colonel. Sometime later, Quell abandoned the New Republic during the campaign in the Cerberon system, after her unit found out about her involvement in Operation Cinder at Nacronis, and subsequently rejoined the 204th.
In 5 ABY, Colonel Keize led the 204th in a second Operation Cinder, that saw the elite unit carry out attacks on Dybbron III, Kortatka, and then Fedovoi End. Shortly after, Quell, while trying to betray the 204th by sending comm bursts of their position to the New Republic, had accidentally shot the messenger droid and killing it. When Keize discovered the messenger, Quell lied and said she found the droid that way. Keize explained his curiosity about the messenger droid, and both subsequently spent their spare moments dismantling it, to determine how the messenger chose each participant to deliver the Emperor's message to. Keize and Quell were unable to complete their task, as the technology was beyond their comprehension. Keize determined that they would need someone's help and gave Quell a unique mission.
- "Details are classified, in short, we're here to solve an engineering problem. The colonel believes we can find a specialist who can analyze certain data and provide insights we can take back to the unit. If all goes well we walk in and out without hostilities; you're my backup in case of trouble."
- ―Lieutenant Yrica Quell, to her strike team
While the 204th Imperial Fighter Wing was in a battle with New Republic forces at Chadawa, Quell led a small strike team of 5 personally selected members, that included, Lieutenant Jeela Brebtin, Lieutenant Nord Kandende, Fra Raida, Alchor Mirro, and Agias Rikton, on a mission to Netalych. Using a stealth starship, they slipped away during battle, and entered hyperspace to their target. However, their ship wasn't completely invisible to all the New Republic forces, and two members of Alphabet Squadron, Chass na Chadic and Kairos, in a B-wing and U-wing respectively, followed them by blindly jumping to lightspeed on a similar vector to the Imperial ship.
While enroute to the planet Netalych, Quell briefed her team on their mission, however didn't reveal anything about the messenger droid. The team landed at a former Imperial outpost of DN-949A on Netalych, which had been overthrown by droids shortly after the Battle of Endor. Quell arranged a meeting with a droid referred to as the "Surgeon," who agreed to analyse the messenger droid and retrieve the information that Quell was after, namely how it chose the participants for Operation Cinder. In return for its services, the droid took a member of Quell's team, Kandende, as a servant for one year. After one day of analyzing the messenger droid, the "Surgeon" was finished and provided Quell with the information she was seeking in the form a datachip. The "Surgeon" was impressed by the messenger droid's construction. Quell told the "Surgeon" to keep the information secret, however the "Surgeon" told Yrica that it didn't care about the secrets of the messenger droid, and stated it was deleting the information from its memory banks before she finally left.
While Quell was enroute back to the team's apartment, she was knocked unconscious. When she awoke in the apartment, her team members were angry after learning that she had misled them about the mission's purpose and lied about the dismantled messenger droid. Quell tried to explain that the mission was under Keize's orders, but the team wasn't sure if she was lying to them, and whether they should kill her or not. Quell asked to use the bathroom, which they allowed. After shutting the bathroom door, Quell heard noises outside, followed by blaster fire. Chadic and Kairos had managed to find the team, after a Houk had indentified Quell's ship, and one of the cam drones had seen a bunch of Imperial-looking travelers armed with at least one assault rifle. Chadic and Kairos carried out the attack on the apartment, where Chadic shot and killed Raida, while the others scattered. Quell made her escape through a small window in the bathroom. Outside, Quell was confronted by Rikton, and were she pointed her blaster to his face, couldn't bring herself to pull the trigger, so she ran off.
On the run, Quell managed to find a kiosk computer terminal so she could look at the information on the datachip. The messenger droid was using various algorithms and formulas, which didn't surprise her, but had access to a huge data bank that contained every minute detail about every Imperial across the galaxy. The datachip held the coordinates to the data bank's location, which Quell memorized, before uploading the data to her team's ship. She later learned that the data bank's location was on Coruscant, in the Verity District.
While at the kiosk, Quell was taken by surprise, when Chadic burst through the door and gave her a beating. Chadic dragged Quell at gunpoint back to the docks, where Kairos was waiting in the U-wing, hovering and ready to depart. Quell wondered if the rest of Alphabet Squadron was present, however they weren't. They were followed to the docks by Quell's Imperial teammates, who fired upon them. Chadic fired back and forced Quell aboard the U-wing, and then departed the docks. The U-wing was chased through the atmosphere, but not by Imperials, and received heavy damage when it was hit with an ion concussion warhead. After activating emergency power and running diagnostics, they learned that the hyperdrive and navicomputer were damaged. The hyperdrive damage was largely superficial, which consisted of fused cabling leading to the reactor that Quell replaced. The navicomputer, however couldn't be fixed, which meant hyperspace travel was out of the question as it would be too dangerous. Though to everyone's surprise, Kairos had a solution and simply raised an arm pointing into space toward a star. Chadic frantically urged Kairos to explain, but Kairos ignored her and maneuvered the U-wing before pulling the hyperdrive accelerator lever and jumping to lightspeed.
- "I assume, that Colonel Keize intends to destroy this data bank?"
"That's my belief. It won't stop the New Republic from sweeping up and prosecuting select targets, but it'll prevent a galaxy-wide purge. The Empire's soldiers will have a chance to slip away and be forgotten. To make a quiet life for themselves, like Keize wanted to do. But we're probably days from Coruscant's fall. Keize knows he has to act soon. He knows he won't have the cooperation of Imperial leadership–such as it is–and the tools available to him are limited. I don't think he'll even tell the rest of the 204th about the data bank; they're in too deep, they won't dare turn against the Empire when it's the only purpose they've got."
- ―General Hera Syndulla and Yrica Quell, discuss the data bank with Alphabet Squadron
Quell, Chadic and Kairos ended up being stranded on Kairos' homeworld, but were able to find enough resources and spare parts to fix the navicomputer and return to the fleet at Chadawa, handing over war criminal Quell to General Syndulla. The information Quell learned about the messenger droid was given over to the New Republic. That same information that Quell uploaded to the Imperial ship on Netalych, eventually returned to the Keize, who later left the 204th, passing on leadership to Teso Broosh and promoting him to major. Keize left for Coruscant to destroy the data bank in the Verity District. Quell managed to persuade Syndulla of Keize's intentions, so Syndulla authorized a mission for Quell to stop him, while the rest of the New Republic fleet would engage the remnant Imperial forces in a major battle at Jakku. Quell was given a prototype T-70 X-wing starfighter for the mission, with support from Kairos in her U-wing.
- Victory's Price (First appearance, simultaneous with Victory's Price audiobook)
- Victory's Price audiobook
Notes and references
- Victory's Price
- Victory's Price begins eleven months after the Battle of Endor, which Star Wars: Galactic Atlas dates to 4 ABY. The Battle of Jakku, which Galactic Atlas places in 5 ABY, appears late in the novel. Additionally, Before the Awakening states that Kes Dameron and Shara Bey moved to Yavin 4 around six months after the Battle of Endor, and Galactic Atlas dates their move to 5 ABY. Victory's Price is therefore set in 5 ABY.
- Shattered Empire 2
- Alphabet Squadron
- Shadow Fall