Hux was waiting for Kylo on the bridge. They’d just come out of hyperspace in the Atrivis sector, near the planet Generis.
As usual, Kylo didn’t bother with pleasantries. “Anything yet?”
Hux made a show of studying the initial readout from the planetary scans before answering. “Just the expected freighters arriving and departing. No sign of the Resistance fleet.”
“The Resistance doesn’t have a fleet. We destroyed all of their ships.”
Hux’s head tilted, and his jaw tightened. “Not all. No sign of the Millennium Falcon, then.” A subtle, low blow.
Kylo caught the general’s eye and held it, applying the slightest Force pressure to the other man’s throat. Just a reminder.
Hux grudgingly got the message. He broke the stare and lowered his head in a slight bow. “But we will inform you immediately of any developments, Supreme Leader.”
“Fine.” As Kylo left the bridge, he realized that he was developing a better understanding of why Snoke had kept Hux around, and in such a powerful position. The general’s keen sense of self-preservation made him an efficient and useful tool. But his ruthlessness and ambition were problematic. He’d have to be closely watched.
Kylo made his way to a small conference room where he’d arranged a meeting with two people. They were waiting for him, and both bowed respectfully as he entered.
Mirena Foloki was the chief medical officer on the Finalizer and indeed for the entire First Order fleet. Becchem Terran was the security officer in charge of regulations and policies. Kylo motioned for them to sit as he did so himself. He was surprised to find himself fatigued and hungry, and he wondered how long it had been since he’d eaten or slept. Usually he paid closer attention to such things. It wouldn’t do to find himself in a life-or-death situation while in a weakened physical state.
Dr. Foloki was nothing if not observant. “I do apologize, Supreme Leader, but I sense my blood sugar is a bit low. Do you mind if I order some refreshments to be delivered for our meeting?”
Kylo bit back his smile. Clever, tactful woman. “Of course. Please.” He watched her punch the order into her data pad and had no doubt she was ordering for three.
She finished, and they both looked at him expectantly. He wasn’t sure how to broach this, so decided on the most direct approach.
He fixed his gaze on Captain Terran. “Tell me about the policy regarding fraternization among First Order personnel.”
Both the captain and doctor froze, and he watched as the color drained from their faces. He felt their abject terror as a wave in the Force. It took him a moment, but as they exchanged a quick, panicked look, he suddenly understood. Unbelievable, he thought to himself.
“I am not,” he kept his tone low and even, “talking about the two of you.”
Neither of them seemed to be breathing yet, so he tried again. “I am aware that long-standing policy forbids romantic relationships between any personnel regardless of rank or station. I’ve called you here to ask about enforcement and repercussions of that policy.”
Captain Terran found his voice first, though he still clenched the table with white-knuckled hands. “Enforcement of the fraternization policy is one of our greatest challenges within ranks, sir.”
Obviously. “How so?”
“Due to the sheer number of violations, sir. And the fact that otherwise exemplary performers are often charged.”
Terran cleared his throat and briefly consulted his data pad. “On an average day, sir, approximately fourteen thousand violations.”
Kylo thought he’d heard him incorrectly. “Fourteen thousand. Per day. That includes the fleet and all ground personnel?”
“I’m sorry, sir, I misunderstood. That number only includes the fleet. Throughout the entire Order…” He consulted his data pad again. “Just over twenty three thousand reported violations per day.”
Kylo blinked. He was saved from immediately having to respond by the arrival of a droid carrying their food and drinks. After they were served, and he’d taken a few bites to clear his head, he asked, “What are the penalties for violating the policy?” He had a vague idea but didn’t know the specifics.
Terran swallowed. “First offenders are usually given a warning and some reduction in privileges. Second offense warrants reconditioning and possible detention. Third offense is considered capital dereliction of duty.”
Kylo’s food caught in his throat. “We’re executing people for having sex?”
He watched as both Terran and Foloki nearly choked. Terran finally recovered enough to reply. “Yes, sir.”
Well, shit. No wonder DN-3351 and his holo tech boyfriend had been terrified.
Kylo turned his attention to Dr. Foloki. “What is your impression of the impact of this policy?”
The doctor stared at the table for a moment, tapping her fork, and he waited for her to frame her answer. “The policy has a negative impact on most personnel,” she finally said. “There are some that work well within the parameters we set. But for others… we are mandating that people go against their very natures, which adds stress to an already challenging lifestyle.”
She looked up at him, and he sensed an intensity as she continued, “Requiring people who desire such things to reject romantic connection and… yes, sex… leads to challenges with physical and mental health. Depression and anxiety. Aggression. Self-harm. Suicide.”
Every word of this was news to him. “Suicide? At what rate?”
She didn’t have to consult her data pad. “We average one thousand two hundred and twelve per day, sir.”
He was speechless as she went on. “Not all of those are attributable to the fraternization rule, of course. Many are due to despair over forcible removal from families. Some occur when personnel buckle under the weight of workload and monotony. Others are the result of people placed into roles that aren’t suitable for them, such as non-violent troopers required to act as executioners.”
Like FN-2187, Kylo thought. The man now known to the Resistance as Finn had taken a different path to escape, but others apparently didn’t have the same opportunity or reckless courage.
He’d heard enough. “I’m considering a change to the policy. In twenty four hours I’ll expect your suggestions in a summary report. In the meantime, suspend enforcement of the fraternization policy, and delay carrying out any punishments related to its violation.”
The two officers exchanged another glance, more astonished than panicked this time, and when they faced him again he sensed a new respect. “Of course, sir. Thank you, sir.”