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"Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor"


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chapter 16:

 

Lando asks Fenn Shysa for some good news. At this moment, Shysa is lying flat behind a wall inside the gravity gun’s infantry bunker along with six of his comrades hoping to convince a couple of companies of stormtroopers that they are several hundred Mandalorians warriors.

 

This is, of course, a distraction to keep the stormtroopers from noticing the actual army of Mandalorians cutting through their reboubt.

 

Lando decides to have Threepio help communicate access to the Alderaan’s processor array to the Corellian Interdictors and then has Shysa fall back. They’re going to hit the gravity gun. Shysa tells him not to wait for them. They’re Mandalorian, this is how they die.

 

In space, Wedge orders his fighters to break off and fall back. When the gravity gun opens fire, its spray of gravity bombs breaks apart the Unsung. Lando orders his plan executed.

 

The two interdiction cruisers left activate their gravity well projectors which work to push the bombs a few degrees of course. Other ships in the area do the same so that the bombs begin missing not only the task force but the planet, too.

 

Other ships at the end will redirect the bombs toward the planet, but not at it, along a trajectory plotted by the Remember Alderaan. This causes groundquakes on Mindor already. In a few minutes, the gravity bombs will reach the flying volcano.

 

But there is always uncertainty in these calculations and, in this case, one of the bombs is diverted to the hull of the Hold’Em instead and cuts the ship apart. Lando prepares to move the fleet up into orbit. This is not a perfect scenario as the gravity bombs will shave the hour or two they have before Mindor is no longer a planet even shorter. This will, of course, expose them to the stellar flares they’ve been hiding from, as well.

 

And Luke, Han and Leia are down on that planet.

 

He has them concentrate the gravity bombs on the escaping volcano, taking some solace that they will take out the bad guys with their own weapons and wondering what terribly fictionalized holothriller about this will be made.

 

They thought they were invincible, except Luke, of course, whom Han said had changed after Bespin. That goodness is what they are losing.

 

Then he’s told that a transponder signal identifying the Millennium Falcon on an intercept course. Luke broadcasts to all Republic ships to disengage and withdraw. He also promotes Klick to Air Marshal of the Imperial forces and orders him to deactivate all subspace jamming and surrender unconditionally.

 

Lando doesn’t understand why Luke thinks he can order stormtroopers around. He can’t argue with results, though, as the TIE fighters begin to withdraw.

 

Fenn Shysa prepares to die, but finds himself in an awkward situation when the stormtroopers he’s battling abruptly stop fighting. One of them addresses him in Mandalorian and offers his truce. He explains that Emperor Skywalker has changed the situation. He’s ordered them to help the prisoners and General Calrissian is coming to help them all evacuate.

 

This confuses Shysa greatly. The group captain explains that Emperor Skywalker is the heir of Palpatine the Great and has ordered them to cease hostilities. He asks if Shysa has seen “Luke Skywalker and the Jedi’s Revenge”.

 

Shysa is having difficulty believing that a holodrama has affected this man’s life. But he follows the trooper who tells him that Calrissian is trying to prevent the destruction of this station but it could actually happen within a few minutes.

 

That’s when the floor starts to move and walls begin to tear.

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chapter 17:

 

The volcano is hit with the first of the gravity bombs which destroys part of the drive thrusters. The stresses on it begin to pull the base apart when the other bombs hit. There are almost 3500 civilian prisoners crowded in the Sorting Center that will die in the less than four minutes they have before the base breaks up and exposes them to vacuum.

 

Nick thinks Luke’s got a plan.

 

Luke knows that three of the Corellian frigates used to be freighters that were converted but some of the equipment, such as a long conveyer bridge used to transfer cargo between ships, has been left aboard.

 

The Lancer can position its bridge in two minutes. Captain Tirossk isn’t sure this will work but has, on occasion, indulged in a holodrama, such as “Luke Skywalker and the Dragons of Tatooine”, so finds he believes this will work.

 

Luke makes connections with the Melters again.

 

The people begin moving across the bridge, assisted by Mandalorians and stormtroopers. There are convulsions but not as bad as they could be as the Sorting Center is being preserved by the Melters who are holding the atmospheric integrity in.

 

In another part of the cavern, liquification brings a Corellian freighter into view. Its belly ramp has been patched but refugees are allowed inside and fill the ship’s holds.

 

Cronal has gotten a cocoon of meltmassif in the Shadow Throne room that he calls the Shadow Egg. The destruction of his base doesn’t bother him as there will only be one survivor anyway. He hadn’t prepared to use Skywalker’s sister instead of him, but Palpatine had always believed in flexible planning.

 

He will just feign a traumatic head injury and memory loss as Leia and hire some holothriller writer to make something up. He even has a heavily shielded ship waiting. He just can’t get the girl to break.

 

He doesn’t even know why for someone untrained, she is fighting him. This is taking way too long. The young man had yielded fairly quickly, having an inner darkness that doesn’t show. When Cronal finally breaks through her resistance, he finds a hard-as-rock brain that shines with a bright light which stabs him.

 

He tries everything he can to crush the brain, but it doesn’t work. He rails and asks why it won’t die. A young man’s voice tells him he should have made friends with the Melters rather than enslaving them. Then he bursts out of the Shadow Egg with his lightsaber.

 

Luke is astounded at the size of the body that Cronal is using. Kar Vastor is truly a giant. He wonders how Ben would handle this and finds himself telling his opponent that there is one chance to do this the easy way.

 

He explains that he has spoken with Nick who knows Cronal very well. Nick and his girlfriend are in the custom shuttle heading to Cronal’s real body. Cronal knows that the shuttle is headed toward the asteroid that has been customized to hold his life-support chamber.

 

Luke advises him that Nick does not share a Jedi’s lack of aggression. Cronal should leave Vastor’s body and return to his own so he can leave the system.

 

Cronal threatens Leia instead, so Luke decides the easy way isn’t going to work after all. He jumps over where the lava river used to be and plunges his blade into the platform. He then somersaults to Leia’s body.

 

The Shadow Throne plummets down and lands on the hull of the Corellian freighter waiting below. Then Luke lands, with Leia in his arms. Several stormtroopers are waiting for their leader’s orders. Air Marshal Klick explains to Vastor that he has been ordered to prevent any attempt on his part to harm the Emperor Skywalker, the woman or the ship.

 

Luke hands Leia to Chewbacca through the dorsal hatch and turns back to Vastor, urging Cronal to return to his own body. Cronal realizes that he was trying to create rather than destroy so the Dark abandoned him.

 

He asks Luke if he knows why his stormtrooper armor is black. It’s not paint. Luke reaches his senses out and realizes that the armor is meltmassif.

 

The Vastor body collapses; Han calls back that Leia is having convulsions and he doesn’t know what to do. Vastor is doing the same. The stormtroopers drop their weapons and begin shaking. Luke urges Han to go quickly.

 

Vastor leaps for Luke and grabs hold of him, shakes him and sinks his teeth into Luke’s throat as the stormtroopers begin to scream.

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chapter 18:

Klick doesnt know the sound but he does understand the agony of the inside of his armor turning into needles. They dig deep into his skin and body and he realizes that the sound is his own screaming.

It drags him into the Dark and leaves him with a need to kill anyone he can.

Nick and Aeona determine that Cronal has jumped for deep space. Nick is certain he can find him, though. When the shuttles hyperdrive spins down, Aeona reports they are stuck in a gravity well so the fail-safe cut in.

The gravity stations have been reactivated all over, but their shuttle is safe. In fact, it is the only ship that is.

Han tells Chewie to strap Leia in a seat so she wont hurt herself while he goes to get Luke. He finds screaming, writhing stormtroopers all around him. Then he spots the giant Kar Vastor biting into Luke. He pulls his blaster and tries to figure out how to hit Vastor with a kill sitting without hitting Luke.

Vastor uses the opportunity to pull the blaster to him. Han grabs a chunk of obsidian and runs toward Vastor until a blaster bolt blows it out of his hand. His blaster. In Lukes hand.

Luke reminds him that he did tell Han to leave.

Vastor is in pain, his bite having ingested some of the black fibers that Luke is emitting from his skin. He jumps off the ship. Han asks why Luke stopped him from bashing Vastor. Luke explains that Han would have killed the man. He will not allow someone to be killed if he can help it.

They do realize, however, that the stormtroopers have stopped screaming and are staring at them. The troopers pull their blasters and start firing. Fighting back-to-back, with Han wishing Luke were slightly taller, he and Luke struggle to defend themselves while the ship is rocked by the deteriorating cavern.

They decide to jump into the dorsal hatch when the troopers start jumping onto the top of the Falcon. When Han gets in, though, Luke decides hes going after Vastor. Han thinks hes nuts but Luke reminds him that Leia needs him.

Han tells Chewie to charge up the stun fields and prepare for a bumpy ride.

When the explosion comes, thousand of TIEs are forced out into space where the stellar flares turn them into unmaneuverable fireballs headed straight for the Republic ships. The Wait a Minute shoots down several before being hit multiple times and finally destroyed.

The X-Wings try to shoot down as many as they can.

Fenn Shysa and his men, in the cargo hold of the Lancer know that something bad is happening when the stormtrooper evacuees start screaming. Shysa tells his men to secure their weapons quickly which reduces the magnitude of the pretty bad slaughter that occurs after that.

Many of the civilians have no military training and so dont know to get out of the way. Those who freeze, scream or try to run end up dying in cross-fire. When Shysa realizes that as many civilians are dying as troopers, he orders his men to pull their blades instead. The Shadow base is breaking up and the prisoners being held by the Republic marines at the base begin mobbing their captors. The whole system is dying and there is only one hope left.

In the Election Center, Kar Vastor has nowhere else to run.

Vastor has never felt such fear. Not even as a child lost in the jungles of Haruun Kal, not in the Galactic Court on Coruscant and not in the spice mines of Kessel. He came back to life on the hull of that ship for a time, but this young blond man has done something to him that has frightened him.

The man thinks to Kar that he is not his enemy. Dripping with despair, Vastor sees no other end but death. Through the Force, Luke reminds him that they are both alive and that Vastor will have to trust him. Luke will not harm him and asks him to take his hand.

In hyperspace, Cronal vows never to build when he should destroy. He will have to begin anew after a few days when all the Republic ships are decimated. He puts on his Shadow Crown and gets nothing but light.

He sees Skywalker locking hands with Kar Vastor. Luke explains that, through the Force, he can connect with beings even in hyperspace. Cronal reminds Luke that he will never escape him.

Luke reminds him that Cronal is the one who is running away.

Cronal feels warm suddenly and then very cold, breaking out into a sweat. He turns his mind to the Dark and the light vanishes. He is amused that Luke thought to bring his light to bear on him. Luke tells him hes not trying to do anything to Cronal but through him.

The light hadnt been pushed back by Cronal but has passed through him. Matter falling into a black hole passes into another universe and bursts forth in energy. The Shadow Crown had been used to control the meltmassif. It was supposed to drown Skywalker in the Dark. Cronal had opened a channel through the crown that Skywalker is now using to shine his light upon every crystal of darkness.

Cronal tries to pull the crown from his head, but his arms will not work. His skin and the entire ship begin to leak black oil that flows all over him and then the meltmassif hardens, encasing him in a stone sarcophagus.

Soon, the ship begins to vaporize and the atoms of his body vanish into hyperspace.

Leia had asked for light. Han had tried to illuminate everything he could, but she must be talking about something different. Since they are all going to die anyone, he doesnt want to wake her up, if she is actually sleeping. So he sits down on the battlefield, spreads a blanket and waits for the sun to rise.

Chewie gives them both space.

Hed waited while the convulsions subsided, while her body oozed meltmassif and while the groundquakes strengthened in what would ultimately cause her die in an exploding planet much like her homeworld did.

Thats why he doesnt want to wake her up.

But the Force has a nasty sense of humor and she wakes up anyway. She tells him it was Dark where she was and she couldnt remember anything about herself. But she did remember him.

Shes hungry so he strips some ration packs off of some dead stormtroopers. They prepare to meet their deaths in picnic fashion. She asks him to kiss her for all the kisses theyll never get. But when he moves in, Chewie interrupts them. He grabs Leia and carries her to the ship, telling her that Chewie thinks they have a small window to ensure they will get all the future kisses, too.

Luke shines on all the stars through the Force and feels the darkness leave everything, from his friends to the stormtroopers. He feels the damage done to his enemies by the crystals and knows what their exit will do to them, too.

None of them asked for this so he does the decent thing and stays with them until their deadman interlocks engage and they all die.

In the darkness of the Election Center, Kar Vastor asks if its done. Luke feels that the base is gone and Mindor is destroyed, too. He tells Vastor that it is. They will probably die here, but Luke doesnt know how long. They have air for a while. The mountains broken up so radiation could leak in. Theres no way of knowing and ships cannot come for them because of that same radiation.

Vastor doesnt know how he came to be here, but he did not choose it. He would not have chosen to die beside a Jedi either. He knew Jedi many years ago and they were not happy experiences. He was glad to think he would never meet another, but he was wrong. Luke is more than what the Jedi of old were because he is not afraid of the dark.

R2 clings to life on an asteroid that could turn at any moment toward the stellar flares and fry his circuits permanently. Hed ejected himself through the Falcons trash chute right before the ship had left Shadow Base because Princess Leia had told him many time to watch over Luke Skywalker.

He doesnt really worry about his own survival. While he waits, he accesses his recordings of the decades of adventures with his friend C-3PO. He regrets that he will not see his friend again, but doesnt know that he will miss him. There are positive and negative sensations to this consideration.

But he can focus more on his task knowing that his friend is safe.

He had registered his sensor suite to Lukes chemical signature and tracked him through the Shadow Base into the trail ended behind a stone wall. He waited through the breakup of the planet and the departure of the fleet, knowing that Luke is on the other side of that wall which is now on the asteroid.

So he waits, knowing that he cant do anything, but that he might be able to do something

He spots an asteroid moving oddly, then realizes its a shuttle. He opens his comm. hatch and extends his antenna, sending a transmission. The ships brain translates the situation for those inside. The ship grabs the asteroid in a docking claw and then jumps both of them into hyperspace.

The odds against this positive ending are impossible to calculate, but R2 has learned that the universe is astonishing.
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  • So, if we are to believe this chapter, Kar Vastor was captured by Mace Windu and Republic forces, taken back to Coruscant, put on trial and sent to the spice mines of Kessel. Really? Did the Republic really do that to convicts? And does anybody remember Kar Vastor in Shatterpoint? Does this sound like someone who should be sent the spice mines rather than kept behind a secure cell door?
  • And did they do the same thing to Depa Billaba?
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Debriefing:

Luke is angry that Geptun’s report reads like a holothriller. Geptun explains this is exactly what it is. Geptun has received ten times what Luke paid him to investigate the Mindor situation to option a series of holothrillers about Luke.

He’d really intended to do that all along. Luke laments the inaccuracies in the story. It makes him look like a hero.

Geptun tells him that he is a hero. If Luke had a choice when it came to killing those men, it was the right one. Luke is symbol of everything good in the galaxy during this time of crisis. Symbols are important because they give people hope.

Luke mentions that nothing was written about his departure from Nick. Geptun thinks it's too anticlimactic and thinks he should end it with the astromech droid. A Jedi he once knew said that Jedi are not soldiers, but keepers of the peace.

Luke likes that. They are lights in the darkness.

Geptun is sharing that light with the galaxy. He was hoping Luke would play along, but there is some risk. Luke acknowledges that the holothrillers really can't change who he really is anyway. They can change who people think he is, though, and even Geptun has to acknowledge how much trouble "Luke Skywalker and the Jedi's Revenge" caused.

Luke does, however, insist on a few corrections. He wants Geptun to make sure it's understood that Luke knew what would happen to the shadow troopers. Then he moves on to change a lightsaber versus vibroshield fight and emphasize that Aeona Cantor was not his girlfriend.

Geptun asks what happened to Nick anyway. Luke says he's thinks Blackhole is still alive. So he and Kar Vastor are out there settling a score. Then he continues on with his suggestions about the story.
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The End

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