Servants of the Empire: Imperial Justice is the third novel by Jason Fry in the Star Wars Rebels Servants of the Empire junior novel series. The book was released on July 7, 2015. In November 2014, Fry completed his first rough draft for the novel, with its official title being revealed in March 2015.
What if you uncovered a conspiracy that reached to every corner of the Galactic Empire--and you were the only one who knew about it? This action-packed junior novel tells an original story of intrigue, espionage, and coming of age, all set in the world of Star Wars Rebels.
As a new student at Lothal's Imperial Academy, Zare Leonis does everything it takes to pass a model cadet. But he is a hidden enemy among Imperial loyalists, determined to discover the truth about his missing sister and to bring down the Empire. Luckily, he has his tech-savvy girlfriend, Merei, by his side, willing to help him however she can—even if means dealing with criminals in the shadiest parts of Capital City. In the meantime, Zare must face down a dangerous foe of his own: Captain Roddance, who seems bent on pushing Zare to his breaking point. Join these rebellious cadets as they risk everything to take on the fearsome Empire.
Zare Leonis' point of view
Following the rebel attack on the Imperial Academy, Zare Leonis continues his training as an Imperial cadet. During one field exercise, he encounters Captain Piers Roddance, who orders the cadets to secure droids that have been designated as "high priority targets." While most of the staff and his fellow cadets accept Leonis' story that he had heroically resisted the rebel attackers, the antagonistic Nazhros Oleg believes that he is a rebel sympathizer working with Dev Morgan and makes life difficult for him. However, the other cadets stand up for Zare due to their dislike for the self-centered Oleg.
Later, Zare and his fellow cadets from Squad NRC-077 are questioned by the Academy authorities about their knowledge of seditious activities in the light of the rebel attack. There are also rumors of a crackdown at other Imperial academies on Lothal including the Pretor Flats Academy. Leonis is interrogated by Captain Roddance, who rightfully believed that Zare was involved in seditious activities due to his past associations with several known rebels including Beck Ollet, Jai Kell, and Morgan. Since he is unable to find any compelling evidence, Roddance is forced to release Zare but warns that cadet that he is watching him. Roddance also subjects Leonis to a strange test which he realizes is a test for Force sensitivity.
During the winter break, Zare returns home from the Imperial Academy and stays with his parents Leo and Tepha. While on holiday, he advises his girlfriend Merei to stop dealing with Laxo. However, Merei is unwilling and unable to do so since that would involve her having to come clean about her illegal activities. In private, Leonis discusses his plan to travel to Arkanis to rescue his sister Dhara with his mother, who fears that she would lose both her children. Leonis also witnesses the Empire's growing repression on Lothal and later learns that the Imperial authorities have launched a security crackdown on Lothal.
Following the winter break, Leonis and his fellow cadets are conscripted to assist the Imperial crackdown. Their operations include questioning local residents about their knowledge of illegal activities and detaining the children of fugitives. For these operations, Zare is paired up with his nemesis Oleg as part of Roddance's efforts to provoke him into breaking the law and getting him expelled from the Academy. To project Leonis from Roddance's machinations, his mentor Lieutenant Chiron arranges for Leonis to be transferred to the Arkanis Academy the next Fall. Ultimately, Roddance's scheme backfires when Zare takes charge during an anti-smuggling operation where Oleg attempts to shield his uncles from prosecution. As a result, Oleg is expelled from the Academy.
After the anti-smuggling operation, Zare is summoned for a private meeting with Captain Roddance and the Inquisitor, who inform him that his transfer to the Arkanis Academy had been fast-tracked as a "reward" for his loyalty to the Empire. While collecting his class-three code cylinder, Leonis encountered the rebel astromech droid Chopper, who passes him a scribbled note from Dev Morgan. After bidding his mentor Chiron farewell, Leonis meets up with Morgan and informs him that the Empire is staging a massive operation at the Lothal City Capitol Building. Before he can learn Morgan's real name, they are interrupted by stormtroopers and Morgan is forced to flee. Later, Leonis encounters Oleg, who wanted to expose him for sedition. After besting his old classmate in combat, he warned Oleg that he would not be so lucky the next time they met again. Leonis then makes his way home to inform his parents of his imminent transfer to Arkanis.
Merei Spanjaf's point of view
Meanwhile, Merei Spanjaf tries to keep ahead of the Imperial authorities by taking an interest in her parents Gandr and Jessa's investigation into the data breach at the Transportation Ministry. Spanjaf lives with the fear that her parents would eventually discover that she was the intruder responsible for the breach. Her problems are further complicated when the Gray Syndicate boss Yahenna Laxo, who had earlier supplied her with the snooper programs, hires her services for several courier jobs in Capital City. Merei hides her illegal activities from her parents by pretending that she is doing revision with her classmates at her school's anti-intrusion club. Her dad Gandr also provides his daughter with a locator for security precautions.
Unhappy at being indebted to Laxo, Merei confided in her Pantoran classmate Jix Hekyl, who deduced that Laxo was calling a favor from her since one of their snooper programs had been detected by Imperial investigators. In addition, Merei also has to deal with the witness who saw her at the Transportation Ministry and find a way to erase her account at the repeater service Bakiska's; a problem complicated by the fact that her information is stored at a secure warehouse in Capital City. To delay the Imperial investigators, Merei and Jix replace her profile picture with that of a similar-aged schoolgirl named Hestia Tarleton, a student at the Young Ladies' Seminary of Lothal Settlers.
While Jix's ploy in changing her photo succeeds in delaying her parents' investigation, Merei is fearful when she learns that her mother Jessa plans to get a warrant to view accounts at Bakiska's. Later that day, Laxo assigns a new job to Merei: collecting Credits from fugitives who had paid the Gray Syndicate to hide them. During the course of her new job, Merei strikes a friendship with Holshef, an elderly poet and artist who had drawn the ire of the Galactic Empire. During the winter-break, Merei meets up with her boyfriend Leonis but is taken aback by his preoccupation with his problems. Despite being unhappy at working for Laxo, she refuses to go to the authorities since that would expose her role in the data breach at the Transportation Ministry.
In response to the Imperial crackdown, Merei and Jix visit Bakiska's data warehouse in a desperate attempt to access her account. However, they are rebuffed by the warehouse staff who report their activities to Laxo. Merei's problems are further complicated when Morgan's rebel associates contact her in an attempt to get to Leonis. Unwilling to draw further attention to herself, Merei tells them to send their droid Chopper to contact Leonis. In a final act of desperation, Merei records a fake hostage message to her parents before visiting Laxo's headquarters. As punishment for visiting Bakiska's warehouse, Laxo decides to sell her friend Holshef to a bounty hunter. Before he can carry out his plan, Laxo and his fellow criminals are killed during an Imperial raid. Believing that the Gray Syndicate had kidnapped her, the Imperial authorities had launched a raid on the Gray Syndicate's headquarters.
Following her "rescue" from the Gray Syndicate's headquarters, Merei was mollified to learn that her parents had closed their investigation into the data breach at the Transportation Ministry. While she had managed to escape the Imperial authorities' scrutiny, Merei was horrified that her actions had caused the deaths of Laxo and his associates. After receiving a recorded message from Leonis informing her about his transfer to Arkanis, Merei used her stolen decoder to access the Imperial Security Bureau's network. To her horror, she discovered that Leonis' transfer was not a promotion but was part of a secret investigation by the Inquisitor to determine his Force sensitivity and to investigate his links to Dev Morgan. Merei breaks the news to Tepha Leonis, who feared that she would now lose both her children.
Author Jason Fry, while noting that many consider this title their favorite of the Servants of the Empire quartet, describes it as having been a "torture to write" and one that he wasn't sure entirely worked. The title also caused him narrative problems that he hadn't anticipated when writing the first two titles of the series. One element that did satisfy him was that it was the first title in the series which he got to choose the name for, and one which he considers pretty good.
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Notes and references
- The events of Servants of the Empire: Imperial Justice occur around the same time as those depicted in the Star Wars Rebels episode "Vision of Hope," as Zare Leonis's meeting with Ezra Bridger, in which Leonis reveals to Bridger that he is transferring to the Arkanis Academy, is depicted in both stories. "Vision of Hope" takes place after the Star Wars Rebels episode "Empire Day," which is set in 4 BBY, according to Star Wars: Galactic Atlas, but before Star Wars Rebels: The Siege of Lothal, given that Bridger and the Spectres are still operating freely on Lothal during the events of Imperial Justice and "Vision of Hope" and have not yet encountered Phoenix Cell, which changes in The Siege of Lothal. Given that Galactic Atlas dates The Siege of Lothal to 4 BBY as well, the events of Imperial Justice must also take place in that year.