The cold stillness of the ship interior amplified the orchestra of buzzes, hisses, and beeps generated by the halls of the star destroyer. Alach leaned against a bulkhead, staring upwards into the artificial lighting. He could feel his heart beating through the shell of crimson plastoid armor that had saved his life countless times. Catching his breath, he wiped away the sweat on his brows. Sweat had stopped stinging his mostly cybernetic eyes by now, but habits and instinct were hard to break.
Was this the life he had wanted? Exhausted, he staggered to a nearby bank of seats designed for rough landings. Uncomfortable, but they would work for him in this moment. He bent forward in the chair, supporting himself with his sniper rifle on the floor. He thought back to his youth.
He had been a child, growing up in a remote village on Talus. Life had been simple back then. He'd help his family and fellow villagers with simple things: herding livestock, fetching water, tending crops. He had always yearned for adventure though, and as he grew older the wilderness of Talus grew ever more enticing. More and more of his time was spent exploring those untamed wonders, brushing himself against increasingly threatening beasts the further he left the village.
Before long he was armed with a blaster rifle he had purchased from Dearic when his family had gone to sell some goods. He had collected many oddities from the wilds and spent years peddling them to save up enough for it. With his trusty rifle, no danger he felt existed was enough to stop his desire to see every inch of his home world.
Although he had known a relatively peaceful life, his village was no stranger to the greater conflicts of the Galaxy. He never imagined the conflict would come to their planet, but with the shipyards Corellia but a stone's throw away from them, it was probably inevitable. When the Empire came to Talus, they sent recruitment officers to the village in secret. They needed local guides. He had volunteered, and enlisted that day with the Talus Expeditionary Force. He soon found himself in a large camp bustling with activity: men shouting orders, shuttles taking off and landing, and the sounds of blaster rifle as the soldiers honed their skills. He recognized a few familiar faces from other villages in the region, and felt some comfort knowing that. General Ravix addressed the gathering of young men, informing them of their new lives in service to the Empire, of how they were trading their quiet lives to bring the stability of the Imperial Way of Life to the Corellia Sector.
He didn't know much of the wider galaxy, but the General made a degree of sense, and he resolved that he would do his best to aid their cause. Perhaps, even, this would be his ticket to learn about that wider galaxy.
It hadn't been long after his initial training until the TXF had put their new assets to the test. He had been embedded with a squadron designed to route out "resistance towards the Rule of Law". He expertly guided them through the hunting trails of the wilderness, and helped take down combatants with his newly issued marksman rifle.
Before long, the Imperial colors were flying over the Dearic starport, and he had been presented with a choice: stay with the local garrison on Talus, and effectively live his life as he had but with new Imperial obligations, or take to the stars under new orders and more training. He didn't even hesitate to choose the latter.
Over the next months, he transferred from unit to unit, being evaluated and trained on countless skills and tasks. Though he had never been the top of any of his classes, he ultimately scored the best in piloting, marksmanship, reconnaissance, and cyber-warfare, the latter coming as a surprise to his various proctors.
It wasn't long after the barrage of training and testing that he was approached by Intelligence: they needed operatives that had a high degree of independence and his skill set had flagged him as a potential candidate. They had promised him a career of high risk and high reward: He would see every shade the galaxy had to offer, but in return he would find himself in life or death situations without reliable support from command. Once more, he hadn't hesitated in choosing to accept.
Before he began the rigorous training as an intelligence agent, they allowed him an extended leave to experience more of the galaxy he would soon be pulling the strings on. Those had been a good few months. Then, it was back to more training and evaluating. He had never minded what had turned into years of seeing minor combat action and predominantly training and honing. He had grown up effectively in the frontier -- his mind was what needed the most conditioning.
When he was finally sworn in as an Imperial Agent, he had become a true believer in the Imperial Way of Life. He had seen the struggles of the galaxy. How they had been betrayed in various ways by the promises of the Republic. Conflict gripped the galaxy, and criminal undergrounds flourished in every crack that pressure created. The only way that made sense to him to break that cycle of violence was to completely destroy everything that threatened the sovereignty of the Empire.
And that's exactly what he did. In a few short years, he had ended campaigns with a single blaster bolt, turned systems without harming a soul, and brought resistance infrastructure to ruin leaving no trace of his passing.
Before long, he had been approached by a mysterious party. They claimed to be operating under orders from the deepest cabals of the Empire. Like so many other missions, he had met this new contact in an underworld bar. Both of their features were obscured by loose clothing and stark shadows cast by the dueling flashes of lights from the holo-signs. Neither party could get a solid read on the other. He had been handed an encrypted data-pad. That night changed the course of his whole life.
After that meeting, he had been reassigned from Intelligence back into the Imperial Army, this time to the 47th Imperial Expeditionary Force. He wasn't sure what he had expected when he boarded the shuttle to the Relentless but the 47th broke every expectation he could have had.
He hadn't been reassigned to just a new unit: he found himself among peers. He had never seen a more diverse cross-section of the Empire, and they were all here for the same purpose as his: to protect the Imperial Way of Life. That was about all they had had in common. He thought back to the soldiers -- no, the friends he had made since joining the unit. The Wayward Marksman had come home. He had found his village, his family out here amid the stars.
Alach wearily pushed himself off the set. He had yet to leave the quarantine after returning from his most recent assignment. It had been ages since he had last set foot on this deck. Who all had made it back? Who all new had been recruited to their cause? What dangers would he face if he stepped through that door once again as he had so long ago?
He approached the blast door, and it scanned him.
"Welcome aboard, Captain Stilar," the voice of the Relentless chimed out to him, "please proceed to the Bridge."
He stepped through the door.
Yeah, this is what he wanted.