Human Commando and awakening Jedi
The son of a Clone Trooper and his Coruscant wife, Valan was raised to be a soldier. Discipline, loyalty, and duty were words as common to him as food, water, and air. His bedtime stories were filled with tales of Jedi leading troops into battle and beating back Separatist forces. His heroes were Sergeant Rex, General Kenobi, and General Windu. The tragedy of the Battle of Mustafar and the sacrifice of Defense Councilor Skywalker was one he could recite right alongside his father. His father explained the Jedi’s failing was that they didn’t have the stomach for war; towards the end, they didn’t have a soldiers discipline but instead a philosopher’s doubt.
It came as no surprise to his mother and father that he joined the Imperial Academy as soon as he was of age. At 16, he entered the Academy, and at 17 he was in the field. No one was the least surprised that it took him only a single year before he qualified for the Special Operations Division, becoming one of the fabled Imperial Shadow Troopers. His father, an ARC trooper, had a distinguished career and more than a few friends within the Empire’s military. He served faithfully for 3 years, performing operations well behind enemy lines.
It was simple in the beginning, however as the burgeoning Rebellion grew in strength, the theater of war began to change. The orders he was given weren’t as clear as the stories his father told him about. Large scale battles against the Separatist “Clankers” had given way to urban engagements against a subversive enemy. There were never clear combatants, and telling an innocent from an aggressor was never easy. While his orders may not have sat well in his heart, Valan never once hesitated or disobeyed them – they were orders, and as his father drilled into him, “Good Soldiers follow Orders.”
It was during a battle on Ord Mantell that fate intervened. Having trapped a large cell of Rebels that were identified to be heavily armed, his squad was activated. Their mission was to go in and clear a depot in advance of the main army so that casualties could be kept to a minimum. Unfortunately, Imperial Intelligence bungled the time-scale, and his squad was sent in on an hour long operation only 30 minutes ahead of the main force. The result was that his squad was ground zero in a weapons depot during the opening bombardment: the resulting explosion killing his squad and leaving him mortally wounded. Found by fleeing Rebels, they rescued him from the wreckage and escaped with him.
A prisoner of war, they healed him of his injuries and implanted prosthetic replacements to the right side of his body. Initially hoping to interrogate him and ransom him back to the Empire, they kept him under guard, but allowed him to undergo physical therapy. As the days grew into weeks, Valan grew accommodated to life amongst the Rebels, as he was keenly aware that his service to the Empire would be difficult – they’d never allow him security clearances once he got back for fear of him being a plant. When the Empire caught up to the Rebels and assaulted the compound he was in, Valan was undergoing physical therapy. Without cuffs, outside of a cell, and with doctor who was herself former Imperial military, Valan knew the Stormtroopers would never believe he was a prisoner himself. Not willing to let the doctor who had restored him to health die, he picked up arms and fought against his former comrades.
In thanks for his service, Valan was offered a chance to serve the Rebellion, which he grudgingly accepted. A soldier needs a war, and the Empire wouldn’t have him. Beyond that, he never saw anything the Rebels did that was half as questionable as what he was asked to do as an Imperial, and that was something. So he came to the planet Spintir, assisting the Rebel cell headed by Pinder Ukka.
Assigned to Pinder’s security detail, he often found himself in the bazaar where Pinder operated. It was on one such outing that he found himself under the observation of woman named Hethan Romund. When confronted, she struck up an easy conversation, which itself was unusual as Valan doesn’t have “easy” conversations. Eventually, after many more such meetings, she began asking questions of Valan that had him wondering. She explained that his fast reactions and natural abilities that made him so successful as a Shadow Trooper may be latent Force talents, and that if he were willing, she could arrange for him to learn more.
It was then that his father’s words about the Jedi’s failure came back to him. If he were to learn the ways of the Force, he could become what the Jedi weren’t.