Updated: Aug 12
Includes spoilers for Alphabet Squadron and Shadow Fall
One of the greatest mysteries spurred by Disney's new Star Wars canon was the formation of the First Order, and while some of these questions have been answered there's still a lot of information left in the shadows. In the last days of the Galactic Civil War, the remaining Imperial fleet fled to the Unknown Regions after their defeat at Jakku and the official defeat of the Galactic Empire. That fleet later formed the beginning of the First Order and the subsequent galactic conflict that took place throughout the Sequel Trilogy. Taking place months before the end of the Empire, the book Alphabet Squadron helps shed more light on how the Empire shifted to the First Order and reveals some shocking information on how early these plans were in formation.
The main basis of the information gained from Alphabet Squadron comes from a single quote: "She heard patriotic lies about an immortal Emperor, an enduring Empire, and a Death Star still operational." This passage might show that selective members of the crippling Empire knew of Palpatine's plans of surviving the second Death Star, forming the First Order, and creating Starkiller Base. With this in mind, it is easy to clear up some of the early history of the First Order and the relationship Palpatine had with the First Order.
After the Battle of Jakku, it is largely unknown how Snoke came to take Rae Sloane's place as the leader of the remnant and form the old Empire into the new First Order, but maybe it was less of a backstab and more an arranged matter. Maybe higher-ups in the Empire helped give way to Palpatine's emissary or maybe even Sloane herself knew of these plans and stepped aside herself for the better of the First Order. If there were higher-ups who knew of Palpatine's plot, they likely died off or were assassinated by Palpatine to better carry off his plan because by the time he revealed his survival to the galaxy the First Order appeared genuinely shocked.
While it's likely that Alexander Freed might have just put this quote in Alphabet Squadron as just a coincidentally close conspiracy, it is quite possible that he included a little hint to the future of what the origins of the First Order might be like. Seeing as the second novel Shadow Fall shows the 204th joining with Rae Sloane's larger fleet in its final moments, there might be more revelations and hints yet to come of the First Order in the third installment of the Alphabet Squadron trilogy.