Fresh from the killing fields of Jabiim, where the Empire has virtually wiped out the populace of that world, Imperial Lieutenant Janek Sunber is sent to the quiet prison base on Kalist VI. But, unbeknownst to the Empire, the Rebels have designs on Kalist Base both for its desirable fuel supplies, and for the presence of a very important prisoner—one of their own who has already attracted the interest of Darth Vader.
Sunber doesn't know it, but he's on a collision course with an old friend who is with the Rebels, and he finds himself wondering which of them is on the wrong side of the war.
Approximately eight months after the Battle of Yavin, Lieutenant Janek Sunber is participating in mopping up operations of the last local resistance on the planet Jabiim. Imperial stormtroopers overrun the last remaining stronghold despite fierce resistance. The remaining Jabiimi are taken prisoner and escorted to a waiting assault ship for transport offworld to the Imperial base on Kalist VI. Sunber, along with his clone stormtroopers are also aboard, preparing for what promises to be a quiet rotation to garrison duty.
However as the transport arrives out of hyperspace, it runs into a battle between a Rebel X-wing squadron and a floundering Imperial fuel tanker. Between the arrival of the assault ship and TIE fighters coming up from Kalist, the Rebels are driven off.
As Sunber's transport unloads its prisoners at the base – along with a more valuable prize, Rebel analyst Jorin Sol—the fuel tanker Nuna's Twins is landing on a platform atop the base. The vessels' Captain Harran is greeted warmly, although cautiously, by the garrison commander, General Noils, who assures them he will "...extend every courtesy this base has to offer" once the Rebel threat is deemed over. After he departs, Harran expresses relief to his fellow Imperial impersonators, Luke Skywalker and Deena Shan, that it "...looks like we're in".
Meanwhile, Jorin Sol is being tortured by Lieutenant Zuud, an Imperial Intelligence officer, who calmly informs him she wants to find out what he is willing to do for her. The stormtroopers guarding Nuna's Twins are surprised to see more troops emerge from the tanker, and are promptly gunned down by their 'comrades', who turn out to be Rebel infiltrators in disguise. Harran quickly sets the team in motion, with some sent to cause diversions, while the others locate Sol and arrange for the tanker to be filled with fuel desperately needed by the rebellion.
Sunber, in the meantime, has begun unpacking in his new wardroom in the base. He is quickly challenged by the resident bully, Lieutenant Clynn, who asserts that the wardroom is, in fact, his room. A brief fight ensues, and despite Clynn's massive size he is handily subdued by Sunber. At that moment Captain Kale Roshuir intervenes, and as punishment assigns the pair extra duties together.
In the command center of the base, Captain Harran, Luke and Deena meet General Noils and Captain Roshuir. They discuss the recent Rebel attack that damaged Nuna's Twins and earlier destroyed its escort frigate. Deena offers to assist Roshuir with pinpointing the location of the Rebel base they believe the attack to have been launched from.
In the bowels of the base, Lieutenant Clynn is giving Sunber a tour, showing off the prisoners being used as slave labor—which rattles Sunber—and dismissing them as people who "...gambled on the Rebellion and lost—big". Above them, rebel infiltrators Basso and Able, in stormtrooper disguise, are moving explosives into position. Basso is also stunned to see the slave labor being used, and insists that they have to get word to Captain Harran.
Luke, dismissed from Harran and Noils' company, heads to check on the progress of the quiet theft of fuel from the bases supplies, which is being overseen by R2-D2. Clynn takes Sunber to the mess room of the prisoners, and there seizes a female laborer. When her partner attempts to intervene, Clynn assaults him, driving him to the ground. Shocked, but determined, Sunber follows Clynn and the female prisoner to a side room, where he realizes the officer's intentions and insists he let the prisoner ago—at blaster-point. Outraged, Clynn tells Sunber he has "...no idea of the trouble headed your way" and leaves.
Aboard Nuna's Twins, Luke and Basso convince Harran to try and assist the prisoners to escape. Deena, meanwhile, is lying in the bed of Captain Roshuir as he dresses and informs her that he has been selected to lead the attack on the suspected Rebel base at Thila. He intimates that they should discuss their relationship further when he gets back and walks out, leaving a distraught Deena wondering "What have I done?"
The commotion of the base's stormtrooper companies being prepared rouses Sunber from his sleep, but he is bluntly informed by Roshuir that he is being confined to base for drawing a weapon on Clynn. His protests are ignored, and he is told he will be shortly facing a tribunal.
Watching the departure of the Imperial assault force from a landing pad with Deena, Luke is stunned by the appearance of Sunber – who was his old friend from Tatooine, nicknamed "Tank". Deena leaves them to discuss old times and Sunber expresses his doubts about the Empire to Luke, who calls into question his devotion to duty over doing what is right.
In the interrogation room, Zuud presses an exhausted, pain-wracked Sol to an answer to her demands. Aboard Nuna's Twins, trooper Able argues against rescuing the prisoners, but is overruled by Harran.
On Thila, Roshuir is overseeing the entry of his stormtroopers, led by Lieutenant Clynn, into the remains of what appears to be an abandoned Rebel base. As the squads split up to search the base, though, a booby trap is triggered which kills Clynn and most of the troops, although Roshuir and the landing craft on the surface survive. Stricken by the loss of his men, the pieces fall into place and Roshuir realizes Shan has betrayed him
On Kalist VI, the Rebel infiltration team receives word Jorin Sol is being prepared for transport to Coruscant, and this is their last chance to rescue him. Harran tells Deena to remain aboard Nuna's Twins and prepare it for liftoff. In another part of the base, Mouse is caught by stormtroopers planting explosives, but takes advantage of their surprise when he removes his helmet to temporarily evade them.
As Luke tries to convince a shocked Sunber to join the rebellion, Mouse is finally caught and gunned down by the stormtroopers—just as he activates the explosives. Sunber receives an alert from the base command center that rebel agents have infiltrated the facility, just as the explosives detonate. Sunber abruptly realizes his old friend is one of the rebels and reaches for his blaster pistol, but is knocked out by Luke before he can draw it.
The stormtroopers and officer escorting Jorin Sol to his transport are intercepted and killed by the disguised Rebel infiltration team, while Luke convinces the prisoners that to escape with his help. Deena, standing at the ramp of Nuna's Twins, is seized by Captain Roshuir, just returned from Thila. Before he can shoot her though, Harran jumps on him and knocks him out. Meanwhile, Rebel bombers are hitting the base.
Sunber runs through the debris-filled base and comes across the bodies of his stormtroopers, killed by Luke, and realizes duty is all he has left. As Luke oversees getting the prisoners aboard the assault ship docked at the base, Janek confronts him at blaster-point. Appealing to Sunber's sense of morality, Luke has nearly won him over when Jorin Sol and the rebels escorting him appear. Angered by what he perceives as Luke's deception—that the rescue of the prisoners is just a cover for the recovery of a 'Rebel spy'—Sunber shoots at Sol, but his blast is deflected back at him by Luke's lightsaber. Wounded. he refuses to accompany Luke, stating "I can't do it Luke. You're on the wrong side of the war. Biggs would have agreed with me". He is left speechless when Luke reveals Biggs Darklighter had, in fact, been a rebel.
Red Squadron escorts the assault ship—newly renamed Skywalker—and Nuna's Twins away from the base, leaving an impotent and bloodied Captain Roshuir shaking his fists with rage.
As Sunber watches this, Zuud arrives with another officer and some stormtroopers, and to Sunber's confusion appears to express satisfaction at Sol's escape. Sunber is further puzzled by the rapid arrival of Imperial reinforcements, including a Star Destroyer, almost as if the attack had been expected in the first place...
- Star Wars: Empire: Volume Seven: The Wrong Side of the War
- Star Wars: Luke Skywalker, Last Hope for the Galaxy
- Star Wars Omnibus: The Other Sons of Tatooine
Behind the scenes
The Jabiimi slaves carry the Aurebesh letter Peth (P) on their uniform. The uniform of the female prisoner also has the letter Krenth (KH) printed on it. When Able and Basso are walking through the detention center, the letter Besh (B) can be seen on a structure.