After an exhaustive weekend dealing with a searing fever, cancerous cold and coughing fits that would choke a Tauntaun, this Author is still filled with adrenaline after reading Star Wars: Aftermath “Life Debt”. In those pages we saw a continuous move by Lucasfilm and their choice of great Authors to deliver us new information on the saga we love. In Star Wars: Aftermath Life Debt, we have loads to chew on.

Right off the bat, in the first scene of this story we are introduced to a hugely important character in the new Star Wars saga. His name is Galli and he’s a pale skinned, black haired orphan who is chasing the contrails of ship preparing to land on his in-hospital world of Jakku. This scene takes place thirty years before the events in Star Wars Aftermath “Life Debt” and it’s implications are immeasurable to our saga.

He decides to abandon his chore of scrubbing solar panel arrays and runs till his muscles almost give out to witness an Imperial shuttle land on the dusty Plaintive Hand plateau. A ancient holy site of the Consecrated Ermite of Jakku. There he witnessed Adviser Tashu, exit the shuttle and lead a half dozen droids in marking a large area that will soon be excavated. A seemingly important archaeological dig of great importance.The droids immediately begin the work as Adviser Tashu begins to leave, but not before young Galli, looking for a better life, stows away aboard the departing shuttle called Imperalis. What makes this scene special of course is the final pages of “Life Debt” that finishes off this amazing moment in our saga. On the shuttle Imperialis, Emperor Palpatine calls to this stowaway and insists he come out of hiding and face him. The scene is very gently and kind in that special way that only Palpatine can muster. The boy eventually removes himself from the dark to face the Emperor himself. During their amazing conversation, Galli is given a choice to either be have his life ended, because of his miserable existence on Jakku, something the Emperor empathizes with or to be given “purpose”. A task that will lead to greater things if he commits himself. Galli excepts the choice of doing his task and is instructed to remain on the desolate oven of Jakku in service to his new Master. To post guard of this excavation site and be it’s keeper.

We learn quickly in the pages of Life Debt, a few years after the Battle of Endor, that the mysterious Fleet Admiral of the Super Star Destroyer, The Ravager is none other than Fleet Admiral Gallius Rax. The boy stowed away on the Imperialis thirty years before. In the story of “Life Debt” we see how Gallius Rax orchestrates and delicately creates his web of deception that will cull the Imperial Remnant to a lean fighting force and set the foundation for The First Order. From the creation of the Shadow Council that will rule the Order behind the scenes, to the inclusion of one of its important members Brendol Hux, the Commandant of the Imperial Academy at Arkanis. Fleet Admiral Gallius Rax’s plans are long, detailed and unmistakable. He is the master puppeteer and the Father of The First Order. He is Supreme Leader Snoke or at the very least the precursor, like Anakin was to Darth Vader, to the large pale humanoid seen in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The devil of course is in the details as was revealed in Fleet Admiral Sloane’s investigation into Rax’s past. Something akin to finding a ghost, a walking phantasm within the Empire.

Little is known of Fleet Admiral Gallius Rax, he is a specter with little to no information about his past. He appeared on a Naval roster twenty years ago at an unusually high rank of Commander and immediately signed up for the Naval Intelligence Agency. He worked at the rank of Commander yet sent all his reports directly to Emperor Palpatine, bypassing his superiors. Many of those reports gathered by Sloane have been redacted with little to nothing to go on. Rae Sloane was able to make out that his work predominantly dealt with the Outer Rim territories and that’s about it.

Gallius Rax is a being with no past, but plenty of power, medals and authority in the Empire. He is an enigma, not present on any databases or catalogs of any kind. The kind of archetype character that works for a secret division of some intelligence service, that saves the world countless times, gets the medals and no one ever knows what you did or who you are. That is of course until she uncovers an old photo while digging for information in the Halls of Imperial Registers in Corruscant. She comes up empty, except for an old photo of the shuttle Imperialis at an Imperial Docking Bay. In this old picture lies Wullf Yularen, Dodd Rancit, Terrinald Screed, plus three others: Grand Vizier Mas Amedda, Emperor Palpatine and a boy. A boy on the cusp of being a young man. His hair is dark and his skin pale with a marking or tattoo on his hand. A boy she suspects to be Gallius Rax and which is confirmed in a surprise confrontation with Mas Amedda in his office at night in Corruscant. The stowaway boy from Jakku, all those long years ago, who has been under the wing of the Emperor and elite of the Empire, the perfect successor to start The First Order .

In Life Debt we have that most important link, that finally settles in concrete how the continuance of evil endures and with whom. That moment thirty years earlier of Galli meeting the Emperor changes the history of our Galaxy forever. Remember that any one of the Grand Moff’s or Admirals could have been the person to start the First Order, but what makes Supreme Leader Snoke special is his power in the Dark Side of the Force. A knowledge that has to be learned from another and in our Galaxy there is only one. The direct connection to Palpatine solidifies that Fleet Admiral Gallius Rax is Supreme Leader Snoke. There can be no mistake here and it’s more than the little details but the entire breath and persona of this character in Life Debt. The level of ego, intelligence and commitment to the creation of the First Order by Gallius will not be usurped by some new character from nowhere. No way, no how. As mentioned in two prior pieces for the Post, Snoke’s game is a very long con with a level of commitment that banks on decades to be successful. We see that in his determination to breed children for his plan and having Brendol train them. You see his moves to use the New Republic to cull the fat, waste and rivalry of his Imperial Remnant by acting as a faux informer. This being, this Supreme Leader in the making, is a master class of a character. There can’t be no other and the fact that we got his backstory in the pages of Life Debt is well and truly Christmas in July.

There is more here, lots more. After pumping myself with water and Tylenol I began attacking my book shelf for a book that would companion Life Debt in some insane ways. An obscured children’s books that many never picked up or gave a glance at. One of my favorite book from the publication run last year that had me come back again and again, Rey’s Survival Guide. Life Debt corroborates what Rey was writing to in her journal. She speaks about much of the Lore on Jakku and the myth and legends that prevail at the washing tables at Nima Outpost. Three of which stand out almost immediately after reading about the excavation underway at Jakku thirty years earlier by Emperor Palpatine.

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Then Rey’s writes about Carbon Ridge which was rumored to be an Imperial Base guarded by the “Dead Enders” A group do white old men with long grey beards who babble in strings of numbers. Could this be the Imperial Remnant lost after the Battle of Jakku? or the alien race that Gallius Rax belongs to. I have always noticed how both Chuck Wendig in Life Debt and other Authors in publication are careful when the describe Supreme Leader Snoke or Gallius Rax. The common theme is the pale nature of the being with eyes that stand out. Nothing more, nothing less. Nothing about height, their mannerism that would give any indication of what species that they are or how they look. We do however have some idea of what Snoke is from the details shared in the Art of The Force Awakens. In it, the artists describe the eventual creation of Supreme Leader Snoke. From his extreme pale nature to how he would have looked when he was younger, perhaps his mid 40’s as witnessed in Star Wars: Aftermath “Life Debt”. The artists came across the final look for Supreme Leader Snoke after he had suffered horrible injuries and more importantly disfigurement in his fall into the Dark Side.

There is more to come when it comes to Life Debt that we will be writing about it the coming days and weeks. Like what is so special about Jakku that warrants an excavation. Why of all places in the universe, the protagonist and antagonist come from the same desolate place. The short bit of the Acolytes from Beyond and the resurgence of Boba Fett’s armor re-purposed by the new law man of Tatooine.

In the mean time I highly recommend picking up Star Wars: Aftermath “Life Debt”, trust me, you will be glad you did.

 

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Max Palas
Written by Max Palas
Purveyor of Star Wars fun, news and advanced level of schtick.