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"Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor"


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Briefing:


Lorz Geptun left his homeworld of Haruun Kal at the beginning of the Clone Wars to work for Republic Intelligence which then turned into Imperial Intelligence. Once his skills at truth finding uncovered too much truth about the so-called Jedi Rebellion, he’d left that job to do freelance information broking and tried to avoid Imperial scrutiny.


Ultimately, he’d begun helping the Rebel Alliance because it afforded him some safety and because the type of government they meant to put together would only make it easier for him to live his life on his terms.


He’d learned to live without the existence of Jedi over these past few years, but now, being summoned to meet with General Luke Skywalker is unnerving. Skywalker is wearing a casual black outfit reminiscent of his father.


The Jedi admits he knows little about Geptun save he was a military governor and director of planetary intelligence for the CIS during the Clone Wars before becoming a Republic spy and then tracking targets for bounty hunters before now becoming a Judicial Services investigator. He has a talent for finding the truth and profiting off of it.


So, he knows something of Geptun, but wants to know what Geptun knows about him beyond the press releases that trace his rise from Tatooine farmboy to hero of the victorious Rebel Alliance. The press releases don’t state that Luke is responsible for the deaths of thousands as of a month ago.


Geptun explains that his understanding was that the incident on Mindor could hardly be described as a murder. Luke tells him the press doesn’t have the whole story. He gives Geptun a brassvine thorn that belonged to an old friend of Geptun’s named Nick Rostu.


Geptun hasn’t heard from Rostu in decades; not even knowing the man was still alive. For all Luke knows, he isn’t. However, Rostu recommended Geptun as a man who investigates the truth, doesn’t like Jedi and would do almost anything for money. Luke wants Geptun to interview witnesses and collect evidence that could possibly be used to try Luke as a war criminal.

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  • The time is 4 years ABY. Luke is 24 years old according to this chapter which means the author believes that Luke was around 20, the age set by the ANH novelization, when he destroyed the Death Star. This would make Leia 24, too, and Han around 34.

  • The chapter also briefly mentions the incident on Bakura so this takes place shortly after that book.

  • Both Geptun and Nick Rostu made their first appearances in Shatterpoint. We met up with Nick again in Coruscant Nights: Jedi Twilight.

  • Luke is titled General here. He was a Commander in The Truce at Bakura when, at the beginning of the book, he determined he was going to resign his commission. Apparently, he didn’t if he’s a general now!

  • And he’s wearing a black suit that reminds Geptun of his father. At first, I assumed Geptun associated it with Darth Vader, then remembered that Anakin Skywalker often wore black or shades of it. Since Geptun served in the Clone Wars, he would have seen holos of Anakin at the very least. So, surely he is thinking of Anakin and not Darth Vader. Because if he’s referring to Vader, I do not believe that Luke has revealed that Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader yet.

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Yes, I enjoyed this book. I enjoy Matthew Stover's works in general, though he is definitely an acquired taste. This book is meant to be a tribute to the old Marvel Star Wars comics (not sure if you're aware of that or not, Jedi Cool), so it can read very fanboyishly, and some people who read it not knowing this fact going in were very disappointed. But when you get to the philosophical/existential parts, it's pure brilliance. Probably one of the most brilliant Star Wars books ever written.

 

I do hope you review Shatterpoint at some point as well. That was Stover's debut Star Wars novel, and also one of the best I've read. (Or maybe you did already and I missed it, since you mention it in your commentary.)

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Yes, as a matter of fact, I did.

 

http://nightly.net/topic/52850-shatterpoint/?hl=shatterpoint

 

Stover is an acquired taste. I appreciated some of the winking at fans moments, but he's never really appealed to me. YMMV, of course.

I don't like him in general, and in Star Wars EU fan sacrilege I have never read the Revenge of the Sith novelization, nor do I have any desire to. I never cared for Traitor, and have no desire to read Shatterpoint despite everyone telling me to.

 

However, his characterization of Luke in Mindor is just so perfect that I love the book by default.

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I liked "Shatterpoint" when I first read it, hasn't held up. "Traitor" was not great. "Revenge of the Sith" novelization had an interesting take.

 

chapter 1:

 

We are told at the beginning of the chapter that it is six months after the Rebel victory. The Alliance is still trying to wipe up the remaining Imperial forces, some of whom are now rallying around a warlord named Shadowspawn who is raiding areas of the recently-formed New Republic. This is causing member worlds to lose faith in the Alliance’s ability to keep them safe.

 

There is a plan, however, to break this wave of piracy and it involves hiding Rogue Squadron within the shell of a ship that is supposed to be the luxury liner Corellian Queen. A Republic spy, in a guise as a profiteering clerk, offers to sell information regarding the liner’s whereabouts to the highest bidder.

 

The plan doesn’t go exactly as scheduled, but good enough for Commander Wedge Antilles who has to deal with the banter between Derek “Hobbie” Klivian and Wes Janson. By the end of the mission, Hobbie has to have his left artificial hand replaced, but General Calrissian is pleased.

 

It’s been difficult to capture any of Shadowspawn’s pilots because they keep blowing up before that can happen. But Wedge had decided to include miniature transponders inside their torpedoes this time. Tracking the warlord’s TIE Defenders shouldn’t be too difficult now.

 

Taspan is in the Inner Rim which runs through systems still held by the Empire. Taspan II had held an Imperial weapons facility until an incident known as the Big Crush had reduced the area to a state worse than Alderaan’s graveyard. Taspan I is called Mindor and is a beautiful resort world. Since Shadowspawn cannot be found in the Imperial database, it is certain that he is working under an assumed name.

 

Unfortunately, this is not a job for Rogue Squadron but for the Rapid Response Task Force commanded by General Skywalker.
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  • The More You Know…: You can find out more about Hobbie’s past in Dark Horse Comics’ Empire series,especially the “Darklighter” storyline which has been compiled into a Trade Paperback of the same name. His missing limbs figure in there.
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chapter 2:

 

Luke Skywalker is the youngest General in the Alliance. Several of his colleagues served not only from before Yavin, but during the Clone Wars and rank him in age, as well. The only thing he has to show for it is being a Jedi which makes people assume he knows what he’s doing.

 

He’s lamenting letting Han talk him into this. Solo himself had resigned as the Alliance cannot afford to let a general chauffeur the princess around. He’d explained to Luke that being a general is nothing more than listening to his men and not letting them squabble.

 

Luke had actually gone to Supreme Commander Ackbar and asked to be relieved of his duties because he’d felt that he was more valuable to the New Republic as a Jedi. Ackbar had offered instead to allow him joint command over the Rapid Response Task Force where his Jedi skills might be more useful.

 

So Luke had gone to his friends for their opinion. Part of his concern deals with his military exploits being fictionalized for entertainment in the form of holothrillers that do not strive for accuracy.

 

It turns out Han has been licensing his own story out since Yavin and, of course, before he realized what he was getting himself into. However, he reminds Luke that these are largely intended for kids. Luke counters that some of these holodramas, such as “Luke Skywalker and the Jedi’s Revenge” not only give people the wrong impression of the Jedi but this particular one has him killing his own father in revenge for killing the Emperor.

 

Luke feels that becoming a general is just him trying to elevate himself at the expense of others. Leia reminds him that he can do a great deal of good running the RRTF and Han points out that he remembers from his childhood, even though he was scamming for Shrike, that even Obi-Wan Kenobi was a general in the Clone Wars.

 

Luke points out that this isn’t how he’d expected to live his life. Han argues that nobody gets the life they expect which is a good thing because he and Luke would have been defending the Death Star at Yavin IV if they’d gotten what they’d originally wanted out of life.

 

Luke is just frustrated because he’s not getting much guidance from the Force. He’s not spoken with Obi-Wan Kenobi in weeks and feels that his mentor is drifting away. He decides that this doesn’t have to be a career and will accept the offer for now. Han is grateful because Ackbar had been threatening to make him do it instead.

 

The meeting consists of Luke, Commander Thavish of Intelligence, Captain Trent of the Regulator, the insectoid T’Chttrk and her droid D-P4M, Admiral Kalback and Captain Patrell of the Wait a Minute.

 

Thavish reports that they can put interdiction cruisers in the Taspan system which will inhibit hyperdrive use for millions of kilometers, they have no idea how many TIE Defenders Shadowspawn has and the destruction of Taspan II four years ago has resulted in meteors and asteroids in unstable orbits both around Taspan I – Mindor- and in the system in general.

 

This means bringing capital ships into the system is extremely hazardous and likely to cost them both ships and lives even if the enemy does nothing. If they don’t bring the cruisers in, however, Shadowspawn’s starfighters can just jump into hyperspace.

 

The only thing they can do is fight with superior firepower, force on force, and try to overwhelm them. If Shadowspawn’s fighters escape, they can form hit-and-run independent units that the Rebel Alliance knows too well to dismiss.

 

They will have to fully commit to this.
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  • Well, it’s nice to know that the HoloNet business is still going strong. We may remember that, in Yoda: Dark Rendezvous, there was mention of a series of holodramas about the Jedi, including one titled Jedi!, that often featured Yoda.
  • Han makes mention of his childhood working for Garis Shrike which we read about in the Han Solo novel The Paradise Snare. Since we know Han was around 10 when the Clone Wars ended, he certainly would have had an opportunity to hear about the Jedi. Since this confirms he remembered Kenobi as a general during the war, then it brings to mind two questions. One – did he not realize Ben Kenobi was General Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope? Two – did he not hear enough about the Jedi (or see enough holodramas?) to be exposed to their power in the Force since he seemed so cynical about it?
  • At least we have an explanation as to how Commander Skywalker became General Skywalker and didn’t resign as he’d indicated. Note here – Han has resigned his own commission. He really can’t stick to officer commissions, can he?
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chapter 3:

 

Aeona Cantor spies on the planetary defense turbolaser towers and the cloud of TIE fighters nearby. She and her friends are investigating the sudden lack of signal jamming that Shadowspawn is allowing for no apparent reason.

 

One of her colleagues, Tripp, reports that he picked up something, earning him Aeona’s irritation. They have to be quiet out here because Shadowspawn’s black-armored stormtroopers have probably set up sonic probes.

 

He meets up with her personally and whispers that he picked up a couple of pings. One came from outside the system and the response came from here on Mindor. She quickly orders her team up and out. It’s not a coincidence that these pings have come right after the jamming stopped. There’s a trap in play for someone other than them and they do not want to get caught in it by accident.

 

Group Captain Klick is waits to be escorted to Lord Shadowspawn. He is something special as anyone who looks at him can tell that he was one of the original Jango Fett clones who’d fought from Geonosis to putting down the Jedi Rebellion.

 

His name comes from a Jedi padawan who stuck him with it as a reference to his designation as Trooper Pilot 1000. Right now, he’s looking over a batch of prisoners that have been taken in his raids the past few months. They never seize enough prisoners to make the Rebel Alliance truly concerned, only enough to have them written off as casualities by both the rebels and their families.

 

Shadowspawn’s Pawns move among them, killing some quickly, selecting others to be elected to the Pawns. Sure enough, a teenager is knocked unconscious and dragged off. Klick waits at attention and plans to until he is called.

 

He’s not afraid of Shadowspawn who is not a lunatic like Vader who killed subordinates often. Klick wants to prove his worthiness to Shadowspawn. He’d been a squadron leader on that day, nearly a year ago, when Vader had treacherously killed Palpatine the Great. The result had been a scattering of Imperial forces among regional commanders who fought among themselves.

 

No one knows Shadowspawn’s real name or where he comes from, but he’s obviously no Moff or Admiral with delusions of grandeur. When Klick’s squadron had been sent out by the self-styled new leader, Admiral Kraven, to get rid of Shadowspawn, the group had been welcomed by the warlord who used Palpatine’s own secret codes, implanted in the clone’s programming on Kamino.

 

Shadowspawn had claimed to have been given these codes by the Emperor himself so that he could rule until the Emperor’s chosen heir was put on the throne and so that every loyal clone would know that he is the rightful ruler.

 

Shadowspawn had explained how Vader had betrayed his loving master who had done so much for him, up to and including saving his life at no cost to him and putting him in a position of being one of the galaxy’s most feared and powerful men. Every clone knows this story.

 

It’s just a small part of the holothriller Shadowspawn himself produced called “Luke Skywalker and the Jedi’s Revenge” about how Vader only pretended to go along with Palpatine’s plans to rescue the child of the Jedi hero Anakin Skywalker from the lies of the Rebellion. The Emperor had tried to help young Luke Skywalker because of his great love for the one Jedi who had been among his closest friends and planned to put Luke on the throne as his successor instead of Vader who had secretly coveted the position himself.

 

Vader had convinced himself that he was Anakin Skywalker and deserved to rule in the Emperor’s place. His mind snapped and he attacked the Emperor only to be killed by Luke Skywalker in retaliation. Crushed at his inability to save the old man, Skywalker had gone back to the Rebels where he believed he belonged after his failure. Klick knows this is only a dramatization but there’s something that rings true about it.

 

Shadowspawn had invited him to help win the broken heart of Luke Skywalker back to his true calling as the heir of the Emperor.

 

When Klick has finally been called into the Election Center, he tries and fails as always to ignore those who have been chosen. The prisoners in question are put on a table of stone and melted into the stone until only the head is exposed. Then the top of the skull is cut open and pieces of meltmassif, tiny diamond-like crystals, are placed all over the nerve centers of the brain. Once this happens, the Pawns are obeyed as if they are Lord Shadowspawn himself.

 

Klick isn’t really sure how this happens, but he suspects some type of use of the Force is involved. He’d seen it used during the Clone Wars many times, but he hadn’t been bred for insight, just obedience.

 

He reports to Shadowspawn that his group failed to capture the Corellian Queen because it was a decoy filled with rebel starfighters. Obviously, this trap was the result of the work of a Rebel spy within their midst. One who also must be responsible for the signal from a subspace transponder they’d detected on one of their Defenders once the subspace jamming was deactivated.

 

Shadowspawn explains that the jamming was deactivated on his orders. When Klick protests that he thinks the transponders were planted by the rebels’ torpoedoes, Shadowspawn congratulates him.

 

There is a rebel fleet on the way, but he would like the space patrol to stand down. They must lose this battle for it is how they will deliver the Empire to its new Emperor, Luke Skywalker.
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  • According to a previous chapter, it’s been six months since Return of the Jedi, not nearly a year. Semantics, I guess?
  • How did Klick handle the rapid aging that Fett clones on Kamino were stuck with? He’s been alive about 35 years or so at least.
  • And the details of what happened in the Emperor’s throne room aboard Death Star II are very close, but obviously not exactly, to what happened. Now, we know that Luke has been telling the Rebel Alliance that Vader killed the Emperor and then died, so word could have gotten back to Shadowspawn who created a holodrama twisting the facts somewhat. However, we’ve gotten no evidence that Luke has told anyone other than his closest friends that Darth Vader was Anakin Skywalker. The fact that Shadowspawn’s holodrama claims that Vader thought he was Anakin is remarkable. Does this indicate that Shadowspawn has some personal knowledge of Vader’s identity or that he just got lucky when producing the holo? Of course, we know that the Emperor had a close friendship with Anakin but I was not aware that it was common knowledge back during the Clone Wars. This could also intimate that Shadowspawn has more information than a mere Imperial underling should have.
  • The chapter implies that every clone knows how the Emperor rescued Vader and saved his life. It explains that the story was included in the holodrama, but it also leads us to believe the clone troopers know this already. Why would they? Was this just something that spread through the ranks after Revenge of the Sith? Did the shock troopers that accompanied Palpatine to Mustafar talk? If they did, did they not realize that it was Anakin Skywalker who was saved?
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chapter 4:

 

Aboard the Justice, Admiral Kalback is ready to congratulate Luke on a successful mission after a shuttle containing Lord Shadowspawn approaches them and offers to surrender and negotiate for the treatment of his followers.

 

Luke isn’t that convinced yet. They’d managed to overwhelm Shadowspawn’s forces fairly well, but few battles ever go off as planned and even fewer Imperial warlords care about the welfare of their men.

 

He thinks it’s a trap and has R2 bring up a tactical display. He points out that stationing his base on the planet is pointless when all he has to do is cut out a few large asteroids and put his starfighters in there. He has to know where his opponents will place capital ships, too. Luke has only been a general for a few weeks; whereas Shadowspawn has had months to think about this. The meteorites have not been kind to Mindor either which have turned the resort world into an arid wasteland with volcanic activity, no drinkable water, no food supply and barely breathable air. Tying his base down there where even communications are nearly impossible is foolhardy.

 

But they cannot just fire on the would-be base down there without sending a signal to Imperial forces everywhere that this is how the New Republic treats surrendering troops. Shadowspawn asks for face-to-face contact as he doesn’t want to entrust his men to someone he cannot see.

 

Something recognizable about that voice alerts Luke’s mind. It sounds like Vader’s. Then he remembers Blackhole, an Emperor’s Hand who was rumored to have been in charge of Imperial Intelligence prior to Yavin.

 

He was always theatrical, but he never did his dirty work in person.

 

When the shuttle begins flying toward the Justice at increasing acceleration, Luke orders all marines to the landers and all hands to environmental suits. He wants to lock on the target.

 

Kalback cautions him about firing upon an unarmed shuttle without warning. Luke orders the target locked and explains that Shadowspawn is not aboard the shuttle and that it contains a bomb.

 

Hesitantly, Kalback orders the Justice to fire. The flare of white is no mere explosion but expands to ram through the Justice’s shields and armor, causing the ship to fall apart.

 

The Lancer notes that subspace jamming has resumed. There are gravity mines moving to pin the Rebel task force here and TIE Defenders are inbound. They have no contact with the Justice but, as part of the reserve force, they do not have visual contact either.

 

Captain Tirossk orders the ship to jump to hyperspace from wherever the TIEs came from…probably Mindor.

 

The Justice is still breaking apart and there are no more escape pods. There are likely several hundred crewmen aboard and air is running out quickly. Admiral Halback is dead. Luke decides the only thing to do is get his crew some air, so he plans to land this thing on Mindor with attitude thrusters only.

 

With the Lancer half a light hour out, they get the transmission from General Skywalker that Admiral Halback is dead and he is attempting to land the Justice on Mindor, giving coordinates to search for survivors.

 

They watch the flame of the ship crashland from what would have been half an hour ago and know that no one, not even Luke Skywalker, could have survived that.
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  • Blackhole first appeared in the Star Wars comic strips appearing in newspapers in the storyline “Gambler’s World”.
  • Does Luke know what an Emperor’s Hand is? Just wondering.
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chapter 5:

 

Han Solo is bored and not happy listening to Mandalorians talk. It’s not like he has anything against the race in general, although he would be happy if one in particular is still screaming his lungs out in the sarlaac’s digestive juices, just the ones he’d met.

 

But they insist upon yapping in Mand’oa which has to be translated into Basic for Leia by C-3PO whom he’s sick to death of hearing. But he knows that he cannot harm the droid without upsetting Leia and he’d vowed already not to give her a reason to question the wisdom of falling in love with him.

 

They’d missed the battle because they were negotiating elsewhere, but the Imperial forces were thoroughly trumped by the Mandalorian mercenaries who are left surrounding several of the system’s power plants and would very much like the New Republic to leave now.

 

The fleeing Imperial forces had ordered them to hold the planet and not allow the Republic access to it by any means necessary. So the Mandos are interpreting that to mean blowing themselves and the rest of the planet along with them via the trineutronium plants. Since this world represents not only a power source but a population that had overwhelmingly voted to join the New Republic, Leia will not give up that easily.

 

Lando is on his way here, hopefully dragging the irritatingly-smooth Fenn Shysa with him, to resolve this issue. The self-styled Mandalore has set himself up as a kind of Protector commandant which Han really doesn’t have a problem with so much as he does Shysa’s charms on Leia.

 

Leia, on the other hand, turns to Han and tells him that Luke is in trouble. The whole situation is giving her a feeling of dread but she can’t pinpoint it. She asks him to check on the RRTF just to be sure.

 

When he finds out that Luke’s entire task force has gone dark, however, he bypasses Leia and goes straight to the Falcon. Lando’s escort will be dropping soon and Han wants to be ready to take off in that window of time. Leia doesn’t know they are leaving and he has to convince Chewie that this is significant enough of a bad feeling to head out there to check.

 

The dapper Lando Calrissian, wearing a uniform he designed himself sans the opera cape that Ackbar adamantly refused to allow, arrives with Fenn Shysa in tow. Shysa is able to go on to Leia as Lando is stopped by many on the deck of the ship due to his obvious people skills and knack for remembering the names of not only those he’d met before, but also their children.

 

As a result, he meets up with Leia just as Shysa has undoubtedly made a flattering comment that causes her cheeks to flush. But she brushes off Lando fairly quickly and comments that her brother is the only man she knows under 60 who can even pull off behaving like an adult. Then walks off.

The two men discuss how normally unflappable she is, having defined the word herself, so assume that Solo has ticked her off again.

 

Leia had known rather quickly that she’d made a mistake in sending Han to check on Luke. She’d really only expected him to contact the task force and come back joking about her feminine intuition being off-kilter. But she should have known that this is more than just mere worry. It’s hard for her to think that she has any potential using the Force at all.

 

Her father…adoptive father Bail Organa…had raised her with stories about the Jedi Order over the long history of the Republic culminating in the bravery and self-sacrifice of the Clone Wars. This type of reverence just wasn’t part of Luke’s growing up on Tatooine so that’s probably why he can accept it more.

 

That one of those legendary heroes, Anakin Skywalker, had gone terribly wrong was tragic in and of itself, but that she is the twin sister of Anakin’s son and expected to follow Luke into Jedi training is too preposterous.

 

But not enough for her to understand that Luke is in terrible danger and that Han has obviously gone to help him, putting himself in an equal amount of danger. Obviously, he assumed that, by leaving her behind, he was protecting her. Shows how much he knows.

 

She grabs Tycho Celchu and tells him she needs a ride in his B-Wing for a few hours. Tycho isn’t sure he is able to just take the princess and leave during the middle of negotiations with the Mandalorians. She prevails to his sense of duty as an Alderaanian, then tries Wedge who approaches him. Wedge explains that General Calrissian is very strict about pilots who disobey orders. Then she tells them both that Luke is in serious trouble and it could be fatal. They both run to scramble Rogue Squadron.

 

Lando began ignoring the conversation almost immediately as it is clear that Shysa has little pull here as either the Mandalore or by prevailing on their sense of pride and heritage and duty and whatever else will work.

 

Other mercenaries are not like Fenn Shysa, though.

 

He ends up sending an ensign to find Han and Leia after two hours pass without either appearing. The ensign returns, looking sick. Lando excuses himself and speaks to the young man who privately tells him that Leia got into Lt. Celchu’s B-wing and took off with Rogue Squadron over an hour ago. Antilles had provided the general’s verification code and claimed to be on a special mission.

 

Pretending he knows all this already, he prompts the ensign who tells him that, after the RRTF went dark, General Solo had come up to check on it and left, only to be followed by the princess who found out the same thing and took off with Rogue Squadron. Shortly after they lost contact with the RRTF, a signal began transmitting over the HoloNet sending a message from Lord Shadowspawn who claimed to have captured the task force and would execute them within three days if the Republic doesn’t declare a cease-fire and acknowledge his claim to the throne of the Empire.

 

The ensign does explain that there’s no evidence any of that is true, but Lando assures him it is and gives him a promotion for saving him from boredom. Then he goes back into the meeting, sits on the edge of the table and tells the Mandalorians that they’ve won.

 

He promises that no Republic forces will land on or occupy this world while the Mandos live to serve the Empire. The commander is rather surprised at this chain of events. Then Lando points out that he hasn’t noticed any Imperial ships arriving to pay the Mandalorians for their hard work and, in his mind, that constitutes breach of contract. He offers to hire the Mandalorians for a new position in which they will not only get paid, but not be abandoned by their employers.

 

The commander wants payment in advance.
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  • Rarely have I enjoyed reading about Lando Calrissian so much as in this chapter.
  • But, really, does Princess Leia, one of the leaders of the Rebel Alliance and the New Republic, not have the authority to trump Lando’s generalship?
  • We first met Fenn Shysa in Republic Commando: Order 66 and then in Imperial Commando. However, his literal first appearance was in Marvel Comics “Star Wars” series where he certainly flirted with Princess Leia but this was while Han was encased in carbonite. There’s no evidence Han has met Shysa or been aware of the Mandalore’s attraction to Leia at this point. Additonally, those fans of the Marvel Comics stories will find that Shysa’s telling of his own history is somewhat…confused.
  • I’m really rather surprised that the issue of the Mandalorians being paid for their work hadn’t come up prior to this. Isn’t that somewhat important to mercenaries? I mean, the Emperor has been killed, the Empire is retreating and the Imperial forces around this world take off and say, “Hold this world” without any indication as to when they are coming back. At that point, I would have expected the Mandalorian commander to say, “Yo momma” and demand his payment right then. Even if we allow that they hoped to be paid when the Imperial forces returned, I would have expected the skilled negotiator Leia to have mentioned it.
  • Maybe I’m not reading the chapter right, but is it implied that Bail Organa told Leia stories about the Jedi, including Anakin Skywalker? I truly feel that Organa knew Vader was Anakin so that would be odd if he included stories of Skywalker when telling Leia about the Jedi Order.
  • First appearance of Tycho Celchu.
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chapter 6:

 

Lord Shadowspawn is clearly unhappy to hear that Luke Skywalker is dead which is probably why Klick had the wing commander, Norris Prang, to deliver the news himself.

 

He explains that the rebel flagship wasn’t completely destroyed, but broke into three sections, the smallest one fell into the atmosphere. They really only have an unencrypted EM Transmission which really doesn’t prove Skywalker is still alive.

 

Shadowspawn insists that Skywalker must have landed the section in question. He would have felt it in the Force if Skywalker were dead.

 

The surviving crew have taken shelter in the caves. Luke checks the remnants of the bridge to make sure they are not leaving anything necessary behind before scuttling this section of the ship. The air here is caustic and isn’t any better for the throat than it is for the eyes.

 

He tells R2 to send an alert to the others to retreat into the caves before he senses panic through the Force. Blasterfire and thermal detonators flare kilometers away. He draws his lightsaber and runs toward the battle.

 

But when he gets there, he finds no one there. There are water jugs and ration bars and even weapons, but none of the hundreds of men who were supposed to be here. He looks around and then sadly asks his dead Jedi mentors what he was supposed to have done.

 

He did everything he had been told to do and had hoped that there would be a happy ending, but that’s not what he’s gotten. They are still fighting and he thinks that they always will be. He doesn’t belong here. What would a general have done? He knows what a Jedi would have done. Then he realizes that a Jedi wouldn’t sit around feeling sorry for himself.

 

He heads outside and ignites his lightsaber, attracting several TIE Defenders which land nearby. The pilots come out to find Luke sitting in a meditative position. He tells them to take him to their leader.

 

R2 hides out a meteor storm in a cave and then heads up to the surface. He hears a human voice coming from a human who grabs the droid and gets an electroshock in return.

 

More humans arrive, a female named Aeona and a male named Tripp. Tripp thinks the droid killed their comrade, Boakie, but she argues that he only learned a lesson in keeping his hands to himself.

 

She sits down to speak with R2 who decides to give them an idea of what he by replacing a few images in his databanks to play a holo of Luke Skywalker saving him. The woman recognizes the image as being that of a Jedi. She remembers them from childhood and believes that the droid belongs to one. They should wait to see if he comes for the droid as they could use his help.

 

Luke is escorted by several stormtroopers and a female in Shadowspawn-like armor similar to others he sees nearby. There is a dark side stink about them that is all wrong. He deflects a few bolts from a stormtrooper who refuses to accept that Luke neither wishes to be hit or shot at if he’s going to try to work with Lord Shadowspawn to end the killing.

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chapter 7:

 

Han Solo doesn’t think space battles are as fun as others like to make them out to be.

 

He’s already unceremoniously left one as fast as he can only to be dumped in the middle of another one in the venue of a meteor storm.

 

He does surprisingly well in the opinions of the rebel pilots who do not expect much from an Old Republic era freighter, then he decides to jump into the asteroid field as he’s had some experience in that area. So it happens that he uses his knowledge of kinetics to predict where asteroid collisions will head and causes quite a few to hit the pursuing TIEs, the pilots on them convinced that a Jedi is using the power of his mind to throw the rocks at them.

 

He makes contact with the Lancer and gets the news that there are thousands of gravity well projectors out here that really can only be powered for a few days and don’t have enough TIEs to protect them anyway. Unfortunately, this doesn’t help them because a bunch of the asteroids are being pulled into the star and will reach in less than two days. While some will burn up, the bigger ones will trigger stellar eruptions that will irradiate the entire system, ships and planet galore.

 

Destroying the projectors only speeds up the process so, in essence, they are all doomed.

 

Because Han doesn’t think the Empire can risk destroying all this stuff just to take out a few rebel ships, there’s got to be a way out. They’ll just have to rescue Luke’s task force first. That’s when he’s told the Justice has broken up with the section Skywalker was trying to land exploding on the surface.

 

Han tells Chewie that they can at least be consoled by the fact that Leia isn’t here. That’s when the open channel reveals that she is, in fact, in the system. She assures Han that Luke is still in trouble, regardless of what others think his status is.

 

Shadowspawn’s odd female servant approaches the Throne Room lit by a white-hot lava that could have been taken from “Han Solo and the Pirates of Kessel”. It’s so ridiculous that Luke doesn’t know if he’s supposed to take it seriously until he realizes that this show isn’t for his benefit but for the stormtroopers’.

 

He had previously encountered Blackhole on Vorzyd V via projection but the figure on the throne is an actual person. Shadowspawn demands that Luke kneel before him, but Luke thinks he has him confused with another Luke Skywalker. As he walks on his own strength toward Shadowspawn, he can sense the trap. Shadowspawn spouts declarations of how he’s defeated Luke Skywalker when the Emperor and Vader couldn’t do it. The rebel fleet cannot leave the system due to the gravity weapons.

 

Luke counters that Shadowspawn’s fleet can’t leave either and that’s why he’s here. He would prefer to come up with a solution that doesn’t involve anyone else dying. He is growing rather irritated with Shadowspawn’s bombastic theatrics. Calling him Blackhole, because he suspects that’s who it is, he flat out asks if he’s being recorded.

 

After all, Shadowspawn pulls a diamond-like crystal blade colored red like Vader’s and this really does feel like a staged event. Luke decides to explain that he really didn’t get a lot of information about the Jedi of old but it is his understanding that they tried to avoid violence. But he’s still learning, however, and threatens to hurt, even kill, Shadowspawn if he attacks Luke.

 

The warlord explains his blade was constructed through Sith alchemy and orders his minions to obey Luke unconditionally if the young Jedi is able to defeat him. Luke doesn’t understand this, but senses the man is telling the truth. So he calls his lightsaber to his hand and challenges him to take his best shot.

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  • Vorzyd V was the birthplace of Tallisibeth Enwandung-Esterhazy, also known as Scout, whom we met in Yoda: Dark Rendezvous.
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chapter 8:

 

It turns out that Han had urged Wedge to use their repuslorlifts against the TIEs over the young man’s concerns. Some fancy flying and some ingenuity on Chewie’s part is how they’d landed on Mindor intact, but Han hadn’t had time to stock the Falcon’s galley before they left and they still need to find Luke.

The stellar flares should begin in twelve hours so at least they will die of radiation before starving to death.

 

They are approached by a group of armed beings who want to know what the Falcon is doing here. Han assures the leader – a red-headed female – that he will leave the rocks the ship is sitting on once they leave. She doesn’t find him very amusing. He notices she’s rather good-looking, but reminds himself about redheads.

 

He determines that they are locals who don’t have much love for the Empire. He hopes they can help him find a friend. They are looking for a Jedi and wonder if he knows anything about that. Not much talking can get done when they are targeted by TIEs.

 

The fight is ridiculously simple and Luke just doesn’t understand what’s going on here.

 

He does, however, get an idea when he realizes that Lord Shadowspawn is a pun for Lord Shadow’s Pawn. He manages to knock the Moon Hat off the guy and finds a decidedly unBlackhole-like person underneath.

 

The man begs Luke to kill him, but Luke has other things in mind. The man’s name is Nick Rostu and asks if he’s related to Anakin Skywalker who would have killed him without a second thought. Luke points out that he’s not quite the same person. Nevertheless, Nick thinks that they could use a man of Anakin’s skill right now.

 

The stormtroopers aren’t interfering in this situation and Luke realizes why. Nick doesn’t remember too much of what he said while posing as Shadowspawn, but it appears that Luke won the battle and the troopers are going to obey him no matter what.

 

Nick explains that the headgear utilizes Sith alchemy, something Luke’s never really heard of. There are crystals implanted in Nick’s brain that the headgear uses to allow the man named Cronal, also known as Blackhole, to channel the dark side of the Force and use him like a puppet. He can see through the eyes and ears of any Force-sensitive he finds in this way. The Pawns are other Force-sensitives who have been kidnapped and surgically altered. None of them volunteered for this.

Nick had been chasing Blackhole himself when he was captured.

 

Luke tells him to get up on the throne. The bridge that leads to it is softening. A ledge moves down. Soon the stormtroopers and the female Pawn drop unconscious and fall into the lava. Then the ledge moves back up.

 

Luke isn’t sure if he can use the Force to get them both out of here. However, he doesn’t think Shadowspawn wants them dead. Nick confirms it. Shadowspawn actually wants to be Luke.

 

Then the throne moves, large fingers grab Luke, he cuts one of the fingers and it falls to his feet only to mold around them. A booming voice indicates the right word to yell here is Cut and blue energy jolts Luke into unconsciousness.

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  • Han’s experience with redheads would certainly include the late Bria Tharen.
  • Though Nick Rostu may have heard of Anakin Skywalker, we don’t know if he ever met Anakin. While Anakin’s lack of patience probably would have resulted in him inadvertently killing Nick without figuring out that it wasn’t Shadowspawn, it really doesn’t say much for him, does it?
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chapter 9:

 

It turns out that something on the surface must interfere with the TIEs ability to hit their targets. Han, Chewie and Leia board the Falcon and divide up shooting and piloting duties.

 

Unfortunately whatever infers with lasers also messes up deflectors and particle shields.

 

Han fires up the ship and lifts up. Leia confirms that their weapons aren’t useful. Han tells her to fire at the unarmored viewports when they come in on attack runs.

 

It appears the TIEs are going after the Mindorese, though. Leia does insist that they go back and help them as they may know something about Luke. Rogue Squadron is nailed down in space and they cannot open an escape window.

 

That’s when concussion missles are shot at them by several gunships. He tells Leia to aim the weapons to the ground and then flies through the resulting cloud of fog, losing his pursuers.

 

He hovers quickly over the ground, lowers the ramp and tells the Mindorese to get on board. He tells Leia to secure the turret access and wait for him. She reminds him they are not enemies, but he wants her to do it anyway.

 

The redhead sends him straight in the path of the gunships with the TIEs in pursuit then has him pull up blind where he finds himself headed straight for the main Imperial base. She directs him to three box canyons several klicks away containing side canyons and caverns.

 

In space, Captain Tirossk is discussing the problem with Wedge and Tycho. The two pilots think that the planetoids produced by the asteroid clusters and gravity wells combined effort could be pushed into orbits that will clear a hyperspace window to allow some of the fleet to escape.

 

This is under ideal conditions which these are not.

 

Between the TIEs that have nothing to lose and the asteroids, they are losing starfighters. Janson decides that they need a miracle. That’s when a Mon Cal cruiser jumps out of hyperspace and emits a full starfighter wing.

 

General Calrissian asks over comm. if someone called for a miracle.

 

Not having much luck landing his ship in a hole in a rock, Han doesn’t particularly like this situation. First, he contacts the armed people in his hold and tells them where to lay down their weapons. The redhead wants to talk about the Jedi which is exactly what Han would like to do, too. She agrees to lay down weapons in exchange for bacta and bandages.

 

In the hold, he finds Leia and Chewie trying to treat the wounded. Aeona Cantor introduces herself and is surprised that she is meeting the real Han Solo. She asks if he really outdrew Gallandro. He tells her that she shouldn’t believe everything the HoloNet tells her. She doesn’t…she thinks he shot the man in the back.

 

They admire each other’s weapons and Aeona gets it in her head that she’s traded her blaster for his. They also believe R2 is theirs by salvage rights. Han tells Leia that these may not be enemies, but they aren’t old friends. If they aren’t seriously injured then they should just dump them off and be on their way.

 

Leia decides to help them with R2 instead and asks him about Luke. R2 insists on playing a recording of Aeona talking about waiting for the Jedi to show up and, if he doesn’t, they’ll just take the ship that arrives instead.

 

Han turns to pull Aeona’s old blaster on her only to find that the power cell has been pulled.

 

Obviously, not a fair trade since she has his perfect working order blaster and insists they take the ship now.

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  • We met Gallandro in Han Solo’s Revenge and again in Han Solo and the Lost Legacy. In fact, Han did not shoot him in the back. The gunman was actually killed by an automated defense system. I hope Han isn’t going to let people think he shot Gallandro in the back because that could cause problems!
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chapter 10:

 

Cronal studies the recording of Skywalker in the throne room and tries to perfect his speech. The holothrillers may fool fans, but won’t fool Skywalker’s associates. He is going to use Skywalker as a life-support system for his old, old mind. He’s been the director of Imperial Intelligence, the Emperor’s Hand, Blackhole, but will soon be Luke, the first Skywalker Emperor.

 

He’d begun with a vision of the Dark that he calls Darksight. He was born in the Nihil Retreat in the Unknown Regions where the Sorcerers of Rhand took him and opened his mind to the One Truth that only power is real and then only the power to destroy. The death of a being makes a permanent change in the structure of the universe, leaving a void.

 

In the light of this truth, it’s pointless for the Jedi and Sith to be locked in their endless battle for supremacy. The Rhandites had not known of the Force, they only knew it as the Dark and how a trained being could get it to respond to his will.

 

He had learned to use the Darksight to travel to Dromund Kaas and infiltrate the Prophets of the Dark Side. It’s what attracted Palpatine and brought Vader to Dromund Kaas to fetch him from the foolish self-styled Supreme Prophet of the Dark Side, Kadann.

 

He’d given Palpatine many predictions that were accurate, but only because Cronal himself had chosen the future he was predicting.

 

Palpatine had been unstoppable before he revealed his Sith identity. Everything went to his advantage when he was still destroying. It’s when he tried to build on that which he destroyed, trying to make the Dark a servant instead of serving it, that he could not succeed.

 

Cronal had understood this when he’d looked into the future after the Battle of Yavin to see the fate of the young pilot who’d destroyed the Death Star and saw an older man with a lightsaber kneeling before the Emperor. He’d known then the fate of the Sith and determined to survive it.

 

He’d spent years after that working on his vision, cultivating a rivalry between himself and Vader who was so far beneath understanding the Dark that Palpatine just assumed it would be better to send Cronal far from Coruscant, not knowing that it’s exactly what the man wanted. To be far away from Palpatine’s vision.

 

Out here, he’d traveled to the Unknown Regions and studied the ancient lore of the Sith, finding in alchemy the way to control the living crystal that makes up the structure of meltmassif here on Mindor.

 

The Emperor had once told him that a spirit transfer is the goal of every Sith in order to cheat death. Whereas Palpatine was thinking of clones, Cronal was going to perform it on a living body more powerful than Vader or even Palpatine. He will become Luke Skywalker.

 

He edits the recordings he’s made so that the galaxy will be even more enamored of their beloved Jedi killing the mad warlord Shadowspawn. Of course, the plan wasn’t perfect. Skywalker was supposed to have killed the fake Shadowspawn with his lightsaber, not knocked him in the head, saving the imposter.

 

He puts on his Sunset Crown, that little bit of Sith alchemy that had been used to create the Pawns.

 

Their wills align with his and are a conduit for his orders. His consciousness drifts and he has his 39 most powerful Pawns converge on the Election Center where Skywalker is embedded in the rock. The 40th Pawn is the one who inexplicably survived the encounter with Skywalker, but had Force strength worth more than most of the others. His crown will be replaced so he can be added to the Pawns focusing in the Election Chamber.

 

They cannot conduct neurosurgery on Skywalker that might leave a telltale scar to arouse suspicion. Right now, the young man is buried alive in the meltmassif where Cronal will channel the crystal to enter his body through every opening and shape them within. Then he will pour his consciousness into the crystals and wake up a new man.

 

If something goes wrong, then the last living Jedi does not need to remain living.
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  • So basically, Cronal is doing a version of essence transfer. Too bad, Darth Gravid had lost that knowledge, huh? And when did Palpatine reveal his Sith identity? So far as we know, the galaxy really never knew that.
  • Kadann was a character in The Glove of Darth Vader which we will [emphatically]NOT[/emphatically] be summarizing.
  • Dromund Kaas seems to produce a great deal of problems for this galaxy, doesn’t it? I wonder why no one ever seems to go there and just eliminate those dark side players?
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More specifically, the desire to do those books.

 

chapter 11:

 

Lando is on the bridge of the Remember Alderaan ready to thank the Lord Mandalore for his people’s assistance. He orders a secure channel opened to Commander Antilles and to have the commander meet him on Deck 7’s fighter bay.

 

In the turbolift, the ship is rocked a meter or two and he asks Threepio rhetorically what that was. The bridge is looking into it but Threepio advises Lando that he can speak to the ship and find out. Unfortunately, the intelligently-designed Mon Calamari ship is flirtatious with the droid and puts him off.

 

In the fighter bay, Wedge and Tycho are waiting when another shudder rocks the ship. Threepio approaches and having finally gotten what he needs from the ship, explains that a gravity shear of unknown origin is interfering with the ship’s engines, artificial gravity and inertial compensators, as well as putting stress on the hull.

 

Wedge goes on to state that there are gravity bombs out there being projected and they are impossible to detect. They are trying to open a window to allow hyperspace jumps before the star supernovas.

 

The flares should start in about three hours which is fifteen hours sooner than any predicted jumps could possibly be started. The bombs are probably being built in a factory of sorts down near a volcanic mountain on the surface where the Falcon set down.

 

The only way to find out for sure what’s going on down there is to head down and see as their scanners can’t penetrate the ionized atmosphere.

 

Lando decides it’s worth the trouble.

 

Han hates being held at blasterpoint by his own blaster. He tells Chewie they’ll do this the easy way and tries to explain to Aeona that asteroids are falling into the star. If they try to take the ship into the atmosphere, they won’t be able to jump for a couple of days and, by then, they’ll all be dead.

 

She doesn’t think this is Han’s problem.

 

He decides to show her what it means to take care of things the easy way. Chewbacca grabs a couple of her people by their throats and dangles them in front of him. Han explains exactly what will happen if she decides to start shooting which she is tempted to anyway until she finds out that Han wasn’t foolish enough to hand over a charged weapon.

 

She tosses it at him and hollers for her people to get them. This doesn’t work as well as she’d thought because, even though her people didn’t lay down their arms as agreed upon, Han has his blaster charged in three seconds, Leia kicks Aeona’s legs out from under her and Chewie tosses the two regulars into the crowd of firing locals and runs into the midst of them, proving both that the best place to be when one is unarmed is in the middle of people who don’t want to risk firing on their own and that there is no such thing as an unarmed Wookiee when one is within reach of him.

 

The fire ricocheting off the armor they’ve formed from the lava rock on Mindor fills the cabin with smoke and dust. He knows they can’t hold out too long before one of them gets hit and shoots the cargo-ramp release. He tells his comrades to jump.

 

After assuring R2 and Chewie are following, they leap off the ramp and soon watch the ship fly off.

 

The battle in space keeps going, Lando gazes while Shysa paces. The Mandalore insists his men be allowed to fight.

 

When Lando is informed that flare activity has already begun and they have an hour before their deflector shields cannot protect them anymore, he orders all ships to disengage and head to Mindor’s nightside.

 

Escape pods should be launched after that.

 

Empty pods.

 

The nightside of Mindor should help protect against the flares for the time being. But they won’t be able to approach the volcano base without taking down their ground-base artillery.

 

According to Lando, that’s where they will need the help of several hundred Mandalorian commandos.

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chapter 12:

 

Luke is cold. He’s been cold enough to nearly freeze to death before, as he was a couple of years ago when he nearly died on Hoth, but this is different. And so is the silence. There is absolutely no sound, not even of his own breath. Over time, he becomes aware that someone is thinking with his mind.

 

If he’s dying, he’s not alone. Reaching out with the Force, he realizes that the stone his mind is figuratively holding is actually holding him. They are bound together by the Dark. Then he wonders when he started thinking of the universe as the Dark.

 

He determines it’s going to have to fight to keep him. So he starts looking for the way out and the way in.

 

But his mind urges him to sleep. He won’t. He searches with his mind until he finds that one of the real stones has a crack in it that lets in the light, so he follows that filament into the real universe.

 

He is aware that something is growing in his body and realizes that Blackhole is responsible. The crippled body encased in a life support capsule is pouring its malice into the crystals.

 

He wills his mind and body to act and finds he’s in a cavern filled with Moon Hatted beings. He tries to remember one of Yoda’s lessons about how truly giving himself to the Force expresses the truth of who he is. Then the Force will flow through you and guide your hand until the greatest good comes out of the smallest gesture.

 

He sees an image of his own hand giving a punch and how he’d cracked the crystalline matrix inside of the fake Lord Shadowspawn. An act of mercy may have saved him. Through the Force, he sends a friendly suggestion for Nick to wake up.

 

Cronal is interrupted by the emergency signal klaxons and contacts Commander Klick for details. The rebels are using a Mon Calamari cruiser to bombard the planet from orbit. They may be planning a surface assault.

 

He is unhappy to find that a new ship was able to get past their gravity stations and that they’ve opened up a temporary jump window. Cronal orders every fighting craft in action now and to send a company of commandos to the Election Center to make sure that nothing gets in.

 

He’d almost been successful in transferring himself into Skywalker’s body. He orders nothing else bother him and puts his Sunset Crown on again. He finds, through the Force, the Pawns breathing with him as one and hearts beating as one. Except one.

 

Nick wakes up and finds himself standing in a stone chamber with a bunch of other people wearing funny hats and robes like his. Then he remembers.

 

He won’t have much time before Blackhole notices and that’s the trouble with dealing with a Jedi. There’s always some kind of trouble that follows. He decides to take off his crown and it hurts so badly that he vows never to put it back on so that he won’t have to take it off again.

 

Cronal is agitated and tells Klick if anyone tries to get out of the Election Center, kill them. He himself will take care of the inside of the room.

 

Nick needs something to soften the meltmassif that encases Skywalker, but doesn’t have the liquefier and can’t search all of the Pawns in here to find it. So he decides to get a blaster. He uses his crown to knock out the guards at the door and is about to run for it when a squad of stormtroopers begins running down the corridor toward him.

 

So he drags an unconscious trooper inside and blasts the door to slow down the others. That’s when he sees all of the Pawns looking at him.

 

He is about to blast them fully, but remembers that Luke saved his life and wouldn’t want him killing thirty innocent people. Muttering how he hates Jedi, he puts the blaster to stun and shoots the floor which instantly liquefies and knocks them down.

 

Then he grabs a stimulant from the trooper’s medpack and bounds across the softened floor and on Pawn bodies until he reaches the pedestal and gives Skywalker the stimulant.

 

The Pawns are struggling to grab him when he hears a Hum and then sees Skywalker’s ignited lightsaber flying around striking the Crowns of each Pawn. Luke opens his eyes. He assures Nick that they will take care of the stormtroopers on the other side of the door and that they are not lost inside this volcano and that Blackhole won’t stun them all in here.

 

He uses the Force to bring liquid meltmassif out of his body and into a ball. Obviously, Blackhole isn’t aware of this ability. Luke explains that he doesn’t think Blackhole actually controls this stuff but controls the thing that does control the stuff.

 

As for the Pawns, Luke looks around and realizes that they are dead. Removing their crowns for them killed them.

 

Cronal is not concerned about the fallen Pawns and is delighted when he realizes Skywalker can use the Force to manipulate meltmassif. It means Cronal will not have to rely on the Sunset Crown anymore. All he has to do is bend Skywalker to his will. He reaches out and senses a presence very near and very powerful. But untrained. He realizes that Skywalker is not an only child.

 

Nick tells him that there’s a deadman interlock in each Crown to prevent tampering. Luke’s punch must have damaged Nick’s interlock or he would have died, too. He tries to explain that Luke is not responsible for this. He was not the one who kidnapped these people and implanted crystals in their brains.

 

Luke doesn’t think that will help explaining to their families. Jedi aren’t supposed to kill innocent people, even in war. Nick tells him that a Jedi friend of his used to tell him that the guy in charge gets his hands dirty in war. Luke asks if Nick knew Old Republic Jedi. Nick admits he only knew one and he’s dead. Rumors are he was killed by Vader himself…probably the only one who could have killed him.

 

Luke cannot help but feel that he had brought that Darkness back with him. The Dark tells him that everyone’s life is a waste and begins to overwhelm him with despair.

 

Nick rouses him and tells him to come back to reality.
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  • The beginning of this book said it was six months since the rebel victory at Endor. There were six months between ESB and ROTJ which means it’s been a year, not two, since Luke nearly froze to death on Hoth.
  • Luke asks Nick if he knew Old Republic Jedi. Since Luke is presumably the last of the Jedi, are there really any other kind Nick could have known? :D
  • And besides which, Nick said he only knew one and we are supposed to think of Mace Windu who appeared with Nick in Shatterpoint. But Nick also knew Depa Billaba. And it’s implied earlier that he knew Anakin Skywalker.
  • And Nick didn’t witness Mace’s death but has heard rumors that Darth Vader killed him. Did Nick learn this in Coruscant Nights #1: Jedi Twilight from the resistance movement or from Jax Pavan? After all, Palpatine submitted proof of the Jedi rebellion to the Senate in the form of an altered recording of Mace and his Jedi team trying to usurp the Supreme Chancellor. Surely that recording did not include Anakin Skywalker’s intervention. So where did the rumors that Vader killed Mace come from? And, in any event, we know that Palpatine killed him anyway.
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chapter 13:

 

The stellar flares are wrecking havoc on deflector shields everywhere except for the starfighters protected by the ionized atmosphere while making attack runs on Shadowspawn’s volcano base.

 

X-Wings, pursued by TIEs, are trying to protect the B-Wing bombers which are hitting the domes that house the planetary defense weapons. They aren’t doing much damage to the domes but are keeping them from opening anyway. Once opened, the weapons can be used against the Republic’s capital ships and the central dome contains the gravity gun which no ship can defend against.

 

To make matters worse, firestorms are raging around them. Three Republic capital ships come in low and the Remember Alderaan sends landers down to the gravity gun dome. The landers contain Republic marines who wait the storm out and then race out to meet Imperial stormtroopers in ground combat.

 

Klick tells his men to hold down the panicking prisoners and seal the Election Room door, not letting anyone in or out, when the bombardment begins. They seal the door just in time as someone tries to get out. Then he spies a red hole forming in the door being cut through by a green blade.

 

When the door opens, they find one man in the robes of a Pawn holding a blaster and another man in a Republic flight suit. Klick realizes that this is the man he’s been waiting for. He drops to his knees and tells his men to kneel to their Emperor.

 

Twelve landers remain closed during the ground combat and the stormtroopers don’t find out why until one of them blasts open the door to find it packed with explosive detonate. It and three other landers explode, killing hundreds of stormtroopers in its wake, bursting open the infantry bunkers and pushing the other eight landers a few meters. Those eight open their ramps and hundreds of Mandalorians emerge.

 

The officer in charge orders his men to fall back and barricade the doors.

 

Inside the caverns, Han, Leia, Chewie and R2 wander around. Han is sure Leia is angry at him for this situation even though he’d warned her about taking those people aboard his ship. Chewie offers his opinion which Han actually finds interesting. He runs up to Leia who is still walking purposefully forward.

 

She says she is leading them to Luke. She’s pretty certain of it. Han isn’t so sure. It’s one thing to see Luke using the Force, but he’s not used to Leia doing it. Leia argues that, if it makes him feel uncomfortable, he should be better off with someone else.

 

Han is incredulous that Chewbacca was right and that Leia is jealous of Aeona Cantor. She claims not to be jealous, but angry that Han allowed himself to be caught flat-footed, something she doesn’t think would’ve happened if the woman wasn’t attractive.

 

Suddenly, they get a transmission from Lando demanding to know what he’s doing. Han tells him he’s standing in a cave and asks what he’s doing in system. Lando yells that he just clipped Hobbie and needs to get out of the battle. Han realizes what’s going on and explains he’s not on the Falcon. Lando starts giving orders to Rogue Leader only to be countermanded by Han who orders Wedge not to shoot down his ship.

 

Then Leia gets a strange feeling that this cave is not natural. Something made it. At that point, the floor opens beneath Han and he drops into it. After a moment, so does Leia.

 

Luke is irritated when the stormtrooper captain gushes about how much he loved “Luke Skywalker and the Jedi’s Revenge”.

 

He is gripped with despair again. Was this what Vader had seen? All of this struggling is pointless against the Dark? He remembered answers to his questions he’d gotten from the people he’d loved but none of them had understood.

 

Nick notices that Luke seems far away again. Luke admits that he knows something has been done to him and he’s having trouble fighting it. He will have to pretend that he believes everything that he’s been taught over the years.

 

Luke gives Klick instructions to make sure the slaves are tended to and that his forces are to cease fighting the Republic military. From now on, they are to consider themselves part of the Republic’s fighting forces.

 

The commander is confused, but obeys.

 

Luke explains that Blackhole has infected him with the belief that the universe and all life in it is a joke and he cannot shake that belief. What’s worse is that he gets a vision of the future in which it is Leia who is hanging in the Dark at the end of the universe.

 

Somehow, Blackhole has found her.

 

R2 follows his friends through the tunnel floor along with Chewbacca. The little droid is fascinated by what appears to be living rock. When they halt, they find Han trying to ward off a mass of humanoid shapes. R2 notes that the shapes appear to be coming from the ceiling and exhibit a peculiar electromagnetic field. He remembers Aeona Cantor talking about taking the ship and leaving the crew to the Melters and understands that these creatures are the Melters.

 

They emit blue energy discharges that hurt both the Wookiee and Solo. R2 finds all of this fascinating and begins working on calling some subprocessors that had been installed by the Royal Engineers of Naboo and later refitted and tweaked by Anakin Skywalker.

He ignites his turbojacks and kicks up into the air and activates his antitamper field which causes not only the nearest Melter to start liquefying when it touches him, but also the four next to it.

 

He flies through the mass of Melters and reduces them to slag, but his energy level is reducing while he tries to make sure nothing happens to Princess Leia.
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  • Seeing things from R2’s perspective was interesting, particularly his loyalty to Leia.
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chapter 14:

 

Nick rushes to keep up with Luke in the corridors as the Jedi explains that, if Blackhole needs someone who can use the Force, he will try to get his hands on Luke’s untrained sister Leia.

 

He will not let that happen. Nick notes that they are not heading out the exit. Luke explains that he has come to put a stop to this now. Nick guesses he’s a real Skywalker after all. Anakin would have done the same, but Nick hadn’t known the Jedi had kids.

 

Luke mentions that Anakin didn’t know he had children and that he’s been told he favors his mother. He asks Nick about his knowledge of Anakin Skywalker. Nick goes on to say he’d met Anakin a few times and had been debriefed by him after a mission once. But everyone knew Anakin during the Clone Wars. He was the great hero of the galaxy and the Republic surely did end the day he died defending the padawans from Vader’s 501st. Luke only says he hadn’t heard it that way.

 

Nick had been an officer in the Grand Army of the Republic, but left after he decided he couldn’t handle Vader. He’s been hiding for the last 25 years. Luke tells him he can stop now because both Vader and the Emperor are dead.

 

Nick, having only “Luke Skywalker and the Jedi’s Revenge” for information, obviously needs a long talk once this is over. He takes Nick up higher until they can see the domes of the base below. Nick points out that he can feel through the crystals where Cronal is and he should go to take the man out before he gets his paws on Skywalker’s sister.

 

Luke refuses because there might not be someone to save Leia if Nick dies, too. For right now, he points to where the Millennium Falcon is about to crash. Nick asks if it’s the same ship as in “Han Solo in the Lair of the Space Slugs”.

 

Luke tells him the story is false, but the man and the ship are real.

 

Sure enough, the ship is hurling end over end. Luke extends his hand and the ship’s attitude thrusters come on, slowing its descent before crashing into the ground. And nothing else.

 

Nick asks if he actually caught the ship.

 

Leia almost gave up hope, but seeing R2 practically melting the creatures gives her an idea. She asks the droid for her hold-out and he tosses her blaster to her from the hatch on the top of his dome. She tells him to drag Chewie behind her and try to wake him up.

 

Then she blasts away at the creatures which begin to liquefy. She shakes Han awake and he finds his own blaster. Chewie advises them all to run and they race off with the creatures after them.

 

They run as fast as they can but Leia knows they are heading down, not out. They agree to turn and fire together. The following creatures stop coming. But not because they were overwhelmed, but because they were led to where they needed to be. The cavern is full of dead bodies. Both Republic and Imperial troops.

 

This is why Han didn’t want Leia coming along.

 

The Remember Alderaan is hit with a third suicidal TIE fighter. Lando knows his fighter escort is busy handling the surface-to-orbit emplacements so he wants all of the ships here to close up the gap together.

 

Shysa reports that the stormtroopers are dug in, determined to fight, better at dying but trying to take the Mandalorians with them. SeePO tries desperately to get Lando’s attention for more than a few seconds in order to tell him that he’s located Han.

 

It seems that, while Lando was talking over comlink with Han earlier, the droid detected a modulation in the carrier wave that he recognized as a type of electrospeech. He was able to understand it and determined that the speakers had captured a couple of humans and were taking them to the crypt chamber.

 

Since the captives were accompanied by a Wookiee, it seems reasonable to assume it’s Captain Solo and Princess Leia who have been captured. Of particular concern toPO is the fact that there is a small droid that must be R2 among them, as well. Lando asks ifPO can reconstruct the modulation and orders him to communicate it to the ship.

 

Luke and Nick run to the Falcon. They will have to climb inside but Luke hesitates because of the hostility he senses coming from inside of it. When the turret begins firing at them, Nick jumps on top and wants Luke’s lightsaber to disable it. That’s when he’s knocked over by the antipersonnel field projector.

 

Luke reaches out in the Force and senses about 30 desperate people inside. But he knows Leia’s been aboard it recently. He finds the targeting laser and trips the circuit.

 

Then he uses the Force to open the belly hatch and leaps up to Nick’s side. Then he grabs the man and leaps into the belly hatch, lightsaber ignited, to see a group of armed people. Luke warns them he’s killed too many people today and they need to put their weapons down. The red-haired woman in charge tells the others that it’s the Jedi and to do what he says. Luke asks where Han is and she asks who he means. She needs his help as Shadowspawn has her….

 

Then she stops and recognizes Nick. They run to each other and kiss. She tells him that they found this ship abandoned and they need to get off this planet immediately. Luke refuses, knows she’s lying and demands to know where Han is.

 

Nick tries to play interference between the woman and Luke. When one of her men hears the name Skywalker, he asks if he’s the same Skywalker from “The Jedi’s Revenge”. Luke answers, “No”, emphatically.

 

He then demands to know where they abandoned Han and Leia. Nick prevails upon Aeona to help. The bad guys are coming and know where they are. Aeona doesn’t think a crashed ship is much of a target, until an explosion hits the belly hatch and fire spreads through the cargo hold.

 

Inside the cavern, Leia and Han are alerted by Chewie that some of the bodies have pulses. They were just left in here. One of the bodies has on a uniform from the Justice which means Luke might be nearby.

 

As more of the rock creatures begin coming into the cavern, Leia tells him to get ready to fight and trust the Force. He’d rather trust his blaster. When his comlink cackles, he tries to respond but gets nothing but static.

 

He’d rather hoped help was coming.

 

Cronal is delighted that Skywalker’s sister has found herself to where he needs her to be. After all, left to its own devices, the galaxy serves the Dark. It would still be that way, too, if some Jedi hadn’t discovered the Force and started tinkering with it.

 

Palpatine had done a good job of getting rid of them until Skywalker had tricked the Emperor and Vader into killing each other. The Sith are just as troublesome as the Jedi anyway.

 

But, then again, so is Skywalker. His untrained sister is just as much of a hero as he is and she doesn’t have the training to defend herself from him. He will have to get her away from the Melters, though, and his Pawns are almost all dead.

 

But he still has the test subject upon which he had experimented on initially. The subject wasn’t a perfect prototype. He was older than Skywalker and not trained as a Jedi. His connection to the Force is dark and had been no hero, but rather a hunted fugitive.

 

For some reason, the man couldn’t even speak.

 

So this isn’t the best body to inhabit which is why he never permanently transferred his consciousness there. But he can use it temporarily. When completed, he is looking through the eyes of Kar Vastor.
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  • The last time we saw Kar Vastor, he’d been captured and held in a Republic security installation at the end of Shatterpoint. I cannot imagine the Supreme Chancellor would have allowed him to be released unless he was some type of experiment. But this chapter reads that Vastor had been a fugitive for longer than Luke has been alive which means he must have gotten loose during the Clone Wars again.
  • So Nick remembers Anakin well, having met him a few times, and can confirm that Anakin Skywalker was a big deal back then. To the point that his death defending padawans at the Jedi Temple was galaxy-ending and heart-breaking for everyone. So, why the heck did Luke not know his father was a Jedi Knight until he met Ben Kenobi??? This is exactly what I’m talking about when I complain about Luke’s lack of knowledge about his father. Every person he meets off of Tatooine knows that his father was Anakin Skywalker the great Jedi Knight. Did Uncle Owen go around Mos Eisley and the surrounding towns and bribe them all to not mention anything they knew about Luke’s father?
  • And the issue of Anakin’s public fate is here again. In Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, we were told that the public believed that Anakin Skywalker was killed at the Jedi Temple during the attack. All other sources direct those making inquiries to Mustafar. For example, both Captain Typho in Coruscant Nights #2: Street of Shadows and Ferus Olin in The Last of the Jedi series found that Anakin was allegedly killed on Mustafar. So there’s been some question as to where Anakin’s official death venue was.
  • To top the whole thing off, this idea that Anakin was defending the padawans from Vader’s 501st Legion doesn’t make sense in light of what we know about the so-called Jedi Rebellion. Let’s go over this. Palpatine produces a recording of Mace Windu’s Strike Team showing up in his office intending on overthrowing him. According to the Revenge of the Sith novelization, this was an edited recording which likely did not reveal anything indicating that Palpatine was a Sith, was armed with a lightsaber or that Anakin Skywalker had any part in it at all. Palpatine uses the attack on his life as an excuse to send Anakin “Lord Vader” Skywalker to the Temple with the 501st to wipe out the Jedi, asserting that they were all in on the attempt to kill him. He presented to the Senate that all of the Jedi were involved and would be hunted down and destroyed. So, in the version that Palpatine has disseminated to the citizens of the newly-created Empire, the Jedi are all villains and Palpatine, along with his agents, are the good guys. With me, so far? So, how the heck does Anakin Skywalker, the Great Hero of the Galaxy, break the hearts of the people by being killed by Darth Vader and his troops while defending the padawans at the Temple if they are supposed to believe that all of the Jedi are evil? This version presents Anakin and the padawans as heroic and Vader as evil which is really not what Palpatine is trying to get them to accept. Was this just another holothriller that got passed around? Even if it was, I cannot imagine Palpatine allowing anything, even a very fictionalized dramatization going around depicting the Jedi as anything but the villains. We’ve read in other books how the Empire cracked down on the arts to make sure nothing insidious was being created.
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• And the issue of Anakin’s public fate is here again. In Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, we were told that the public believed that Anakin Skywalker was killed at the Jedi Temple during the attack. All other sources direct those making inquiries to Mustafar. For example, both Captain Typho in Coruscant Nights #2: Street of Shadows and Ferus Olin in The Last of the Jedi series found that Anakin was allegedly killed on Mustafar. So there’s been some question as to where Anakin’s official death venue was.

Not only that, but there was also a book released in recent years (I forget which one is was now) where Tarkin, based on Anakin's purported death on Mustafar and Vader's sudden appearance around the same time, theorizes that Vader is Skywalker. He doesn't have much interest in his theory and keeps it to himself, but he puts two and two together nonetheless.

 

Maybe the version where Anakin died at the Temple protecting the Younglings came about later, as an effort to prevent more of the general public from piecing the truth together?

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Guest El Chalupacabra

Or it could be a case of releasing multiple rumors and versions of what happened, so that no one knows exactly what happened, or cares after a while. How many real life scandals are like that?

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Dang! Okay, here it is again...

 

chapter 15:

 

The fire suppression systems come on and Luke does his best to push people out of the fire. He starts giving orders to Aeona who doesn’t take kindly to it, but Nick tells her not to argue with a Jedi.

 

He sends her to the cockpit while he and Nick take the turrets. Nick is surprised when Luke uses the Force to hit, not the ships dropping missles on them, but the missles themselves.

 

Luke then tells Aeona that he needs the thrusters hot. They both protest that this will just bury the ship in molten lava. He maintains his order and tells Nick to reset his turret to default and then fire.

 

When he reaches into the Force and feels the TIEs drop proton bombs in a precise sequence, he gives Nick the signal. The fire opens up a hole in the ground that screws the ship in. Then Luke causes the bombs to land in a diameter where the blast radius doesn’t damage the ship, but squeezes it and pushes it straight down.

 

The explosions also weakened the upper shell of the volcanic bubble that makes up the floor of the pit so that the ship breaks through and falls down a vent hundreds of meters deep.

 

Luke tells Aeona to engage the repulsorlifts and the ship levels itself, setting down on the rocks.

 

Luke explains he had to get them underground but just hadn’t known how to do it. So he let the bad guys help them. Luke is headed out to find a pilot who can get the ship out of here and leaves Nick at the turret to handle the TIE fighters that will be coming after them.

 

Leia and Han continue to shoot. Leia says the creatures aren’t angry at them, they’re just trying to do what they do naturally and bury people in rock. She runs out of power, so Han hopes they can find another blaster nearby. Leia senses someone coming, but it’s not Luke.

 

The man growls and the creatures melt away. She understands him. For some reason, she senses him urging them to enter the dark. This man is here for her, she can feel it. Stun shots don’t work on him and, despite the fact that Leia doesn’t want Han antagonizing him at his own risk, Han tries to fire and gets wrung up by the neck for his trouble. Leia puts the hold-out blaster’s emitter to her chin and tells the newcomer that, if he kills Han, she will die, too.

 

He drops Han into the gooey ground and takes Leia with him. Han thinks that if trusting the Force should help, he’ll try and asks for help. With his body stuck in the liquified rock and his hands nowhere near his comlink, he finds it humorously ironic that, at this point, Luke chooses to contact him.

 

As the Falcon flies through the caverns, Nick hopes Luke knows what he’s doing as they evade TIEs.

 

Luke tries to reach Leia over the comlink but Aeona warns him that the meltmassif blocks comm. frequencies.

 

Since the Falcon has a better comm. system than most, he calls for Han.

 

Lando answers and they bring each other up to speed. Threepio comes on the line and explains that he’s been monitoring the communications of the attackers who took Princess Leia and Captain Solo. He directs Luke to where the last transmission took place and urges him to find Artoo.

 

They melt through the rock and believe it may reharden before the TIEs appear. But as they find Han who communicates that Leia is gone.

 

Looking through Kar Vastor’s eyes, Cronal sets down the girl. She is perfect. He plans to have her retire from her adventures after losing her brother and friends in order to focus on politics. Then he begins the process of transference.

 

After Luke sets the ship down, Aeona refuses to go out because they are in a Melter crypt. The attackers come out of the walls or out of the ground wherever there’s meltmassif. They can stun you with a touch and entomb you in a rock.

 

She teamed up with the Mindorese in an attempt to get Nick back, but they would sometimes lose people to the Melters. Some could be retrieved alive but they were never the same after that. Luke understands more than she knows and insists she come down with him to meet Han.

 

Outside, in the cavern, he makes her apologize and explain herself. Han understands love himself and Luke tells them he cannot spend this time worrying about whether they are going to kill each other while trying to rescue Leia.

 

Then he uses the Force to sprout some crystal threads out of his hand so that he can talk with the Melters.

 

The hard part isn’t actually contacting them, but that he has to join them in the Dark. But he cannot leave Leia there to suffer. Since Jedi bring the light, he has to be the one to do this.

 

Nick and Aeona talk about how the princess had to have been captured by Blackhole using Kar’s body. Nick isn’t sure he should be honest to Skywalker about this. Luke isn’t like Anakin; he’s kind-hearted and would want to spare Kar Vastor if he feels that the man is an innocent victim.

 

The galaxy would be a worse place if Luke Skywalker were killed, on top of the fact that the man has saved both of their lives already more than once. Regardless of how Kar is related to Nick, saving Anakin Skywalker’s children is worth Kar’s life, even Nick’s. Aeona doesn’t agree.

 

That’s why Nick is not going to leave it up to Luke to decide. Aeona argues that this will matter to Luke.

 

Luke floats through the Dark and thinks of himself as a star that lights through the Force. He makes contact with the creatures and they communicate with him. They had belonged to Taspan II for millennia until the Big Crush has spread them out into the galaxy. This was a Golden Age which came to an end when the chunks of their planet landed on Mindor.

 

Burning away in the atmosphere was how some met their fate while the survivors are stuck dying slowly of energy asphyxiation. They are trapped in the Dark. They’d tried to get comfort from the humans at first since the nervous systems of humans produces a type of energy.

 

But when the humans began shooting them with stun blasts, the Melters defended themselves by sequestering them in the rock. They hadn’t understood that they were killing the beings.

 

Something is controlling the Melters and luring them away from the light and that’s a black hole. He realizes that it is actually Blackhole himself keeping them in the dark so that he controls what light they have.

 

As he swirls figuratively in the Dark, he finds only one lone star between himself and it. It is Leia. He sends encouragement through the Force to her, telling her not to give in. But all he gets is sadness and despair. He wonders why Ben and Yoda had never talked about a light side of the Force. Had they glimpsed the end and knew it was Dark.

 

But that doesn’t mean there is no light at all. As he glimpses the galaxy, he knows he is a light and so are Leia and Han and Lando and all of his friends and colleagues. The Blackhole is aware of him now.

 

He opens his eyes and asks Nick to tell him who Kar is and what it is that Nick doesn’t want Luke to know about him.

 

Gravity stations are buried deep in Mindor that only the troopers stationed there know about. They are different from the ones amid the asteroids in orbit. This technology had been what had destroyed the Justice and had also been the cause of the destruction of Taspan II in the Big Crush.

 

Cronal has the troopers there engage the relay to the stations and they power up. It vaporizes the troopers instantly and spreads over the surface to wipe out the Republic troops, too. Inside the gravity gun emplacement, Fenn Shysa’s men lose comm. channels and feel heavier than normal. Rogue Squadron’s positional sensors are cooked by the radiation and they start falling toward the dome.

 

Janson realizes that the Dome is actually moving up toward them. Lando understands that the volcano is radiation resistant which will give the bad guys time to get away. He is intrigued by the commercial aspects of such a thing but realizes that he won’t be around if that thing gets into orbit and turns the weapon on Mindor itself where most of the RRTF is hiding and cannot leave lest they expose themselves to the equally-dangerous stellar flares.

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