T H E . F I R S T . G R A N D . M O F F
After spending many years as the most public face of the First Order and its government, Natasi Fortan has finally been appointed to a role that most in the First Order thought she possessed already: the coveted office of the Grand Moff. Long considered the First Order's best public relations tool, the newly minted Grand Moff was fêted in imperial style yesterday following her public appointment, broadcast across the First Order's empire, wherein the Supreme Leader himself, in a rare public appearance, praised Fortan's "merits and qualifications" before appointing her his governmental right hand. Fortan thanked the Supreme Leader for his confidence and pledged to all First Order citizens that her "whole life, whether it is long or short... will be dedicated to your service, and to the service of the Supreme Leader."
Fortan, known in Ministerial circles as something of a dry workhorse, was long tipped for the role. Says Petyr Calinda, Minister of Culture, "We all thought it was a matter of when, rather than if. She has been here since the beginning and, until recently, was really the sin qua non of His Leadership's government. I think I speak for all my Ministerial colleagues when I say we're all pleased to support her in the difficult job that lies ahead of her, managing the expansion of the First Order's borders and the assimilation of new peoples and cultures into our growing Imperial family."

Moff Fortan greeting admirers after a visit
to the Avalonia Veterans Hospital

The concept of an "Imperial family" is one of Fortan's guiding principles, according to Calinda. "There's very much a sense that we're all in this together -- that we'll all sink or we'll all swim -- not just in the cabinet but across the First Order. Dosuun cannot stand alone any more than Bespin or Skye. The efforts of all member worlds are required for the First Order to work properly. She sees herself as a sort of coordinator of this effort. Every system has resources unique to them, whether they be labor or materials or chemicals or what have you. Every system, every planet, can contribute in its own way, and support the larger goal of upholding the needs of the First Order. She speaks of the Supreme Leader as our Imperial Father so I suppose, in a way, that makes her our Imperial Mother."
Calinda pauses. "Better make that Imperial Older Sister."
What goes into the making of an Imperial Mother (or Older Sister)? Biographical details on Natasi Fortan are sparse; she has always maintained that she is not the story, but rather the First Order's agenda -- it's mission, to spread safety, security, peace, and Human High Culture -- should be the focus. But we do know that the Grand Moff was born Lady Natasi Josephine Fortan, the eldest daughter of Frejrik Fortan, Earl of Hervan (a county on Galidraan), and Reima Esperell, the daughter of a wealthy industrialist on Bakura, from whom Natasi took her religious beliefs in the Cosmic Balance. She had an older brother, Mathes, and a younger sibling who died in childbirth with her mother. Mathes, a skilled and decorated fighter pilot for the One Sith, was killed in combat, leaving the secession of the family estate in question.
Fortan, by the time of her brother's death a midlevel bureaucrat in the One Sith empire, became steadily disillusioned with the One Sith's style of leadership, and resigned her position, leaving the One Sith with Ludolf Vaas, First Order hero and Field Marshall. Together, they came to be early followers of the Supreme Leader, and shaped the direction of the First Order from fledgling group of Imperialists to a galactic power and regional economic powerhouse. The Supreme Leader and his three most loyal lieutenants have since worked together to expand the First Order's reach and influence, an effort spearheaded by Fortan's celebrated Bespin Summit early this year, when several contracts for investment in First Order space drove consumer confidence through the roof. Resulting construction and other investments have nearly eliminated the unemployment rate, ushering in an era of prosperity not seen in First Order space since before the Plague Years.
Now, as she embarks on a new role, Fortan has agreed to be interviewed for this special commemorative, inaugural edition of the Palace Insider.
Q: Grand Moff, congratulations on your ascension to this new position, and thank you for taking the time to sit with us. What was it like for you to receive this promotion. Can you describe the process and how you felt yesterday?
A: Thank you very much. It's almost hard to believe for me, even now, that the Supreme Leader has the kind of confidence in my work that would lead to me being appointed essentially head of his government. Of course, one tries one's best every day, but this sort of recognition is... well, it's very intense, I'll just say that. But as for the process -- as I understand it, the vetting process begins months in advance. There is a very stringent background check before your name is even officially considered, and so it's very involved. But I found out about a week ago when I was summoned to an audience with the Supreme Leader and he asked me if I would consider it.

Moff Fortan, pictured with Avalonia Commissioner
Greye Malvarn at the Dosuun Horseracing Competition

Q: And you said yes.
A: Of course, yes. It's not -- look, it's not an ambition thing for me. It's easy for me to say, "Of course, yes," as if I was grasping for it all along, but truly it wasn't a bit like that. To be frank, I said yes because the Supreme Leader asked me and I felt that I could serve him, and you, and every citizen of the First Order, in this way.
Q: You're the first Grand Moff in this order. How does that make you feel?
A: It's a lot of pressure, to be sure. I'm very conscious that my term in office will set a precedent for the Grand Moffs that will come after me. I hope to do the right thing not only for Supreme Leader but to keep things moving along the right path for future leaders of His Leadership's government. I know there are some in the First Order that find me ... fastidious, let's say, to avoid using terms like "overbearing" [laughter]. But it's really not out of a sense of self-promotion. I just feel a deep responsibility to future generations to start as we mean to go on.
Q: You seem to place a lot of emphasis on the idea of yourself as a leader. Can you expand on that?
A: The notion of "servant leadership" is very close to my heart. It is related to the concept of noblesse oblige. Your readers may not be aware that I was born to an aristocratic family on Galidraan. And my father, who was a remarkably conscientious man, drilled into my brother and I that nobility and privilege were bought and paid for by service to the community and to the people who might not be as fortunate, whether through philanthropy or public service or in other ways. Rank has privilege, of course, but it also demands something in return, which is to be a positive force in your community.
And that's how I see my role as Grand Moff. Yes, I am the head of government, but my intention is to use this position as a two-way airlane. On one side, I will implement the wishes and vision of the Supreme Leader on the territories we hold. On the other side, I want to take the wishes and hopes, the insecurities and the needs of the people to the Supreme Leader. We are of one mind when it comes to caring for his subjects and doing everything in our power to improve their lives. This is how we will build a stronger First Order.
Q: Do you have an agenda in mind for your term in office? What are your top goals?
A: Obviously the safety and security of every First Order world is my top priority. Everything I do will be with that in mind. And naturally, the First Order is not finished expanding its boundaries. There are many, many more systems around us that could certainly benefit from the First Order's influence. During my Empire Day remarks, I promised to expand the First Order's territorial holdings threefold -- a goal which we are very close to meeting already. But it's not territory for territory's sake -- this sort of blind expansion, expansion for the sake of it, is foolish. We are choosing our movements based on security requirements, economic concerns, and cultural compatibility -- whether the citizens of the system or planet in question would be a good fit for the First Order.
I also understand that the First Order needs space to live and grow. I will be working very closely with the First Order Colony & Settlement Office to ensure that we are making the right moves in terms of land parcels and supply schedules and security for our new, fledgling colonies.

Moff Fortan, an avid horsewoman, pictured with Murray Dedd,
the manager of her horse, Emerald, stabled on Dosuun

Of course I also want to connect early and often with our military commanders, so I can be sure that our budget priorities are meeting their needs. We'll need to really budget and prioritize so that every one of our goals is prioritized properly. Certainly the top of my list is ensuring that the equipment that we are providing our men and women in combat is top of the line, reliable, and effective.
But one thing I'm very excited about is actually the tour I'm leaving on in a few days. I have a few more loose ends to tie up, a promotion ceremony to oversee, but after that I am leaving on a tour of the First Order, so that I can meet people from all across this nation, from every walk of life, and really listen to their concerns and thoughts. I will spend my life learning about the people I serve and I intend to start that as soon as possible.
Q: You seem to be very team-oriented; your speeches tend to emphasize collaboration and drawing strength from one another. Who do you draw strength from?
A: Well -- I have a very competent staff in my office, and they all do really oustanding work, and of course I draw so much inspiration from the Supreme Leader. He is a remarkable man, a true visionary. Of course my cabinet colleagues -- Minister Santagar, Minister Fel, Minister Calinda, others -- I couldn't do the job I do without the very robust support system that they provide.
Q: And is there a "robust support system" at home -- in your personal life?
A: I -- well, look -- my role as Grand Moff in the First Order is a very public one, and I understand that there are questions about my personal life. I know that people want to know me, but I try to keep my private life private. I'm sure there is very little that would interest the average person.
Q: But you must do something to unwind, de-stress, after all your position must be very demanding.
A: [After a hesitation] I... sometimes see friends for dinner or drinks, or go to the ballet. But honestly, I find my job energizing, not draining. I love coming to work every day and I hate to leave. There's so much to do, every day. I would work all day if I could, but even I need to sleep occasionally. [Laughter] No -- work is -- if not easy, then possible. Social life, personal life -- almost never so tidy.
Q: I know what you've said about keeping your private life private, but think of this as a broader, general question.
A: I'm going to regret agreeing to this interview, aren't I? [Laughter] All right, go on then.
Q: Do you think a woman can be a good Grand Moff as well as a good wife and mother?
A: [Laughter] I'll brush aside the fact that I've never heard such a question asked of a man because I recognize that there are certain intrinsic differences between the sexes and the maternal instinct can be more powerful than ambition. But yes, I absolutely believe that these roles are not mutually exclusive. Things have a way of working themselves out, don't they? You just have to work at it. But my top priority will be the First Order, unless and until the Supreme Leader recalls me from my position.
Q: Thank you, Grand Moff, and again, congratulations.
A: Thank you. Do come along on the tour, I'm sure we'll encounter many fascinating things of interest to your readers.