A while ago someone asked if anyone was willing to write lore about Moff Panaka and the resistance and ultimate defeat of the Empire in the Chommell sector. I do have some loose ideas on the topic, maybe they get too grimdark sometimes and I need a stronger basis in existing lore.
From what we know he was appointed Moff shortly after the Senate was dissolved and ruled until only a few years after the battle of Endor. As a pessimist his style of military command should be cautious, and as the inventor of a successful decoy system he should know how to use deception against the enemy. He was loyal to the Emperor not just as his superior but also as his friend, and an orthodox follower of the New Order's principles.
The story begins with his investiture as Moff. Palpatine himself is in Naboo and after the cerimonies they meet at Panaka's estates, where the Emperor receives a statue as a gift and promises to generously give whatever is necessary to keep the Chommell sector in order.
At this point Panaka had spent prolonged periods far from his homeworld, which had changed considerably together with Imperial remodeling of the whole sector. Though Naboo superficially looked the same, it now housed a much greater number of off-worlders: Imperial bureaucrats, traders and a collection of university students, scientists and engineers: the planet was now a center of technological development for the military-industrial complex. Its technologies were used in a production chain made up of two other systems in the sector, which would also receive some lore. As there are several systems with next to no information they can be any of the other known systems in Chomell. Let's say they are Karlinus and Chommel Minor.
Karlinus was long a backwater. Its idyllic, undeveloped plains were inhabited by a near-Human species organized into tribal fiefdoms which collectively rejected almost all external contact except for the trade in the eponymous tea. As order weakened into the late post-Ruusan period pirates and illegal miners began to visit the planet. A pro-opening faction among the fiefs negotiated with other systems in the sector to open up the planet for trade and limited settlement. Extensive mining operations were set up and eventually monopolized by the Trade Federation, which became hegemonic but ruled negligently and left the fiefdoms in place. Colonists slowly poured in. The indigenous population boomed and slowly modernized. The system was under CIS control in the Clone Wars but the Republic seized it with little resistance. Later a governor was installed and the planet fell into more enlightened and orderly rule with much investment into infrastructure and civil services. New indigenous elites with studies abroad arose, but found they could not rise further into the closed ranks of the off-world mining elites. They then became a hot spot of anti-Imperial sentiment and formed their own rebel groups against the Governor, off-worlders and traditional chiefs.
This planet is a provider of raw materials.
Chommell Minor is a densely populated urban world, not yet an ecumenopolis as it has vast oceans and wastelands but its cities already reach high into the skies. Though dystopian and decadent it has in the past two decades housed new manufacturing capacity. I haven't settled on which rifts in society produce conflict. There'd be criminal groups holding the lower levels which the Imperial governor desperately allies with when losing, off-worlders involved with manufacturing siding with Imperial rule, powerful local elites with maybe some of them being behind rebel activity and frontlines being more vertical than horizontal.
With abundant support, the Chommell sector receives a large and modern fleet including a Praetor II, which serves as a flagship. The Rebellion launches hit-and-run attacks with small craft against military and economic infrastructure across the sector. Panaka's admiralty divides hyperlanes and systems into control zones (like quadrillage in the Algerian War), each patrolled by a garrison, and with its material superiority suppresses the insurgency down to a weak and tolerable level. Minor insurgencies pop up within the planets and in Naboo Gungan radicals harass the areas bordering their swamplands. As Boss Nass makes empty promises of holding them back they are kept in line with a heavy but soft-handed Imperial Army presence. Moff Panaka takes a lax attitude to civil life in Naboo, correctly assessing that though the traditional aristocrats are fond of a Republican style of rule they are too conformist and invested in the status quo to defy his authority. Within Human-populated Naboo there is no insurgency of note
The Battle of Endor is a game-changer. Panaka is devastated by Palpatine's death, organizes a day of mourning and prepares a speech. However he failed to realize that in his free atmosphere radicalism had swept through the off-worlders involved in technology on Naboo. Instead of mourning the Emperor they flock to the streets of Theed to celebrate. Panaka hurries away in a Lambda shuttle. The Royal Security Forces, among them Gregar Typho's son as a high-ranking officer in Theed, fold and don't resist the demonstrations. An apparent political vacuum develops as protests spread and Gungans enter the cities. The traditional landowning families, believing the regime had already changed, join the off-worlders.
Panaka orders Storm Commandos to forcefully retrieve the Queen from the Royal Palace before she can make a stand and she is kept in house arrest on the Lake Country. In a change of heart, he reflects on Tarkin's theories and chooses to crush the so far mostly peaceful uprising with an iron fist. The Imperial Army lays siege to Theed and moves in with AT-STs and other walkers for maximum psychological effect. Gunships hover ominously above and TIE Bombers drop leaflets. Some demonstrators, Gungans and Security Forces enter the Royal Palace, where surrender after a firefight with stormtroopers. After a few days Theed is pacified with hundreds dead, thousands under arrest and noticeable damage to valuable buildings. Panaka stands at night in a corridor of the empty Royal Palace, lit only through a broken window with its glass strewn through the floor, and ponders.
Prominent noblemen are tried and banished or even executed. Gregar Typho's son publicly humiliates himself begging for forgiveness and invoking his father's name, but Panaka shows himself ice-cold and says no word. He is also executed.
The Gungans also have to be dealt with. Panaka brings Boss Nass to a chemical weapons facility and tells him he wants to speak in frank and clear terms. He shows him intelligence reports that the Gungan radicals have official backing and threatens to attack the entire Gungan civilization if he does not stop all attacks. Nass feels insulted but has to accept. Panaka offers him a valuable work of art as a gift but Nass refuses.
The swift and public annihilation of the protest movement successfully instills fear and Theed remains peaceful for the rest of his rule. However, it also builds resentment against him and the Panaka family among Naboo's aristocrats. During the siege of Theed some minor looting was done by the Imperial Army and though the artifacts were restored, the officers who allowed it to happen were too useful to remove; a handful of scapegoats were punished and the rest moved to other systems. A cover-up failed to hide everything and the incident worsened the reputation of Panaka, though he was not directly responsible.
As a good Imperial the Moff remains loyal to the new regime after Palpatine's death. However, Sate Pestage military reorganization strips away much of Chommell's best ships and legions, leaving it with an ordinary sector garrison -with the notable exception of its flagship. After sorting his homeworld Panaka travels to Imperial Center, where he fails to convince Pestage of his sector's special importance. Though he partially concedes his point he is also unimpressed by Pestage's plans for holding onto the Empire and has doubts about its future. On the way back his ship is dragged by tractor beam to a Victory-class owned by a warlord. Though he is set free after a short verbal confrontation and is surprised by how easy central authority is now defied and realizes he is facing a new kind of threat.
Stripped-down sector forces failed to keep the rebels at bay. Entire bases are lost to Rogue Squadron-style raids, the lowest levels of Chommell Minor and remotest mountains and swamplands of Karlinus fall to insurgents. At the same time, a powerful warlord state -probably the Eriadu Authority- expands towards the Chommell sector. Panaka refuses to recognize the authority of Sander Delvardus, who amasses a powerful invasion fleet on the recently conquered Quess sector. A direct attack from Enarc to Naboo is avoided as Naboo is too heavily fortified. His invasion is delayed by the lack of good hyperlanes and upon arrival Panaka orders his admiralty to cede ground and fight only on a fortified position. Meanwhile the rebels have established de facto control over realspace in Karlinus (but not on the planet's surface) after bringing larger Sullustan ships to bear. A battle finally happens in Chommell Minor within reach of the Golan stations in orbit. It is inconclusive, with moderate losses, mostly incurred by the Chommell fleet which retreated. The stations surrendered to Delvardus. With an Eriadu fleet above Chommell Minor the Moff sues for peace. He nominally recognizes Sander's authority and pledges to dismantle his damaged Praetor II and put a large part of his fleet to Eriadu command. He goes to great lengths to make this treaty public. A large chunk of the flagship is even seen towed to shipyards for dismantlement. But both terms were deceptions. The mangled Praetor was being repaired in a secret dock in a remote system, while Delvardus allowed the committed ships to remain in the Chommell sector for one more mission. The fleet gathered again and fell like a thunder over Karlinus. Immobilizer cruisers pinned the best and largest Rebel ships and ISDs tore them down one by one.
The rebel and warlord threats were gone, but the Moff was now in a much weaker position. With the Eriadu Authority's defeat he was free again but most of the ships sent were squandered and never returned, to say nothing of those taken away by Sate Pestage which were now dispersed all across the galaxy. Realizing he cannot hold on to the entire sector, he pulls back from places of lesser value, concentrating on key systems and the hyperlanes between them. For protection against hit-and-run attacks a convoy system is applied even for civilian transit. His enemies largely leave him alone in their march to the Core, leaving the Chommell and Quess sectors as Imperial pockets in the Mid Rim. The Quess sector's Moff, though in a much weaker position, quarreled with Panaka over the occasional raids the latter's forces maid into his territory. The two are now warlords in all but name, having to run everything by themselves.
Rebels continue to gain ground in Chommell Minor and Karlinus. A number of war crimes are made by both sides and together with the repression on Theed make Panaka the most reviled face for Empire-haters on the sector, where he becomes known as the "butcher of Theed".
This relative calm cannot last forever. The New Republic turns its attention back to the Mid Rim and now forms a large conventional fleet including several ISDs. It conquers the Quess sector with ease. A tattered war fleet including civilians and the families of anyone working for the Empire arrives at Naboo with stories of mass trials, executions and banishment to remote systems. The New Republic fleet gathers again in Enarc and attempts a frontal assault on Naboo. At this point Panaka brings out his secret, the restored Praetor II, and together with the planet's hypervelocity gun and orbital defense stations repels the attack with heavy losses on both sides. The two opposing fleets return to their dockyards and the New Republic can't launch large raids because of the Imperial fleet-in-being. Panaka gives up on holding all of space, reducing traffic on hyperlanes to the minimum necessary to keep the sector alive, fortifying the planets and even trying out small raids of his own.
At this point he is reading a classic of Grizzmallt literature about a man with divided loyalties to his people and to a conqueror which does sacrifices to the Dark Side to remain in power. He also reflects on what he did and feels some remorse but also determination to remain on a path he can no longer leave.
His fleet-in-being is questioned by a New Republic raid in full force. The Praetor is sent in reaction but retreats with its battle group once it receives some damage; it is simply too valuable to lose. Lusting for blood, the New Republic fleet uses even its capital ships to hunt down any traffic along the hyperlanes, which are almost fully shut down. One of the last convoys leaves Karlinus with both civilians and Army personnel. It is forced to dock at an asteroid base, which is then occupied by New Republic marines. The convoy commander arrange for the civilians to be freed and surrenders, but some of the officers do not accept this and fight their way back to the docking bay and escape. By a miracle their ship arrives badly damaged in Naboo. At this point the remaining Imperial strongholds in the sector are isolated from each other. Chommell Minor holds on but in Karlinus the local rebellion is almost triumphant. The New Republic deploys its own troops and takes over the planet, followed by reprisals against the local Imperials.
Panaka's fleet remains over Naboo but with trade strangulated his position weakens. The New Republic lets this continue for months and whittles him away with small actions. The final assault on Naboo finally comes. Imperial forces are by now mostly composed of old models, even Clone Wars surplus, aswell as wreckage from the Trade Federation and Royal Security Forces material. N1s painted in white with the Empire's emblem in black dogfight with A-Wings. The New Republic eventually wins a difficult victory and lands on the planet. A major city of great cultural value is placed under siege. An Imperial mechanized column moves through the Great Plains to relieve it but in a Highway of Death moment New Republic V-Wings and Y-Wings, unhindered by the now almost nonexistent Imperial air cover, reduce it to slag. The rag-tag recent conscripts, Imperial army veterans and stormtroopers holed up in the city bitterly resist for months. The New Republic triumphs over a pile of ruins, some of the most refined examples of Naboo architecture and ancient artistic treasures reduced to dust.
Another concentration of Imperial troops is encircled with Gungan swamplands as the only way out. Panaka risks himself and leaves his stronghold in Theed to negotiate with Boss Nass. He begs Nass to open an escape corridor through the swamps. Nass says he has no reason at all to provide any help, Panaka's defeat is imminent and the two will never have to negotiate again. Panaka admits he will lose whether or not Nass helps him and since this is the last time they have to make a deal and no deal can save him Nass might as well help him. He adds as a side note that the retreating Imperials won't be able to take their heavy equipment and the Gungans can take them if they want. Nass is unconvinced but says he accepts the proposal out of personal mercy.
Thousands of Imperial troops retreat to heavily fortified Theed, which bustles with Imperial military and civilian personnel from all over the galaxies and many of their families. They worry for their lives as the New Republic surrounds the city on all sides. It is clear Theed will also be reduced to rubble.
Pressured by his inner circle, Panaka decides on his final act. He delivers a speech to a small audience of Naboo and Imperials alike. After insisting on his love for his homeworld he argues that he always did what he thought was best for it, no matter how much he had to sacrifice for it. He does not apologize for anything nor ask forgiveness. It is up to the Naboo to judge him, and he does not demand or expect of them to love him. He also proclaims his undying loyalty to the Imperial Throne. The Empire is also his nation and the Imperials of all backgrounds gathered on Theed are also his people, they, who struggled and gave up so much for decades together to build the New Order, and who now share the same fear of destruction. He promises to save as much of his people, Naboo and Imperial, as he can to the very end of his life.
Immediately afterwards his surrender terms are revealed: after giving up all weapons but small arms the Imperials on Theed will be allowed to embark and take the hyperlanes towards Imperial space. With their evacuation the city is spared and falls without a shot. There is, however, an exception - Moff Panaka himself and a handful of his officers. They hand themselves as prisoners to the New Republic, with full knowledge that trials, humiliation and execution await them. In doing so Panaka sacrifices himself to save both the city of Theed and the Imperials there, many of whom he worked with for a long time.